Sunday, December 10, 2023

A Gray day for Keys + Chamberlain, centre-halves and RVP

Morning all. And welcome to Arseblog now owned by Sky Sports.

Gentlemen, you may proceed as normal to the blog. Ladies, please proceed single file to the classroom where you will be taught the offside rule, the difference between a ‘number 10’ and a ‘false 9’ as well as the difference between Djimi and Armand Traore, how to titter in agreement with the menz and, of course, when to make a cup of tea (with biscuits and/or cake).

You will know when you are doing well because your tutor, Andy Gray, will say “Oooooh, you beauteeeeee!!!”, before slapping your arse and then using his video wall to show exactly how he got behind your defence to apply the finish. The course will be overseen by Richard Keys who will say things like “Wouldn’t it be fair to say, Ruud, the only reason women to go to football is to look at men in shorts? They’re all gagging for it, the sluts”.

Afterwards you will receive a certificate which you can show off at your tupperware parties. Giddy with excitement you can prove you know something about football after all, having received the validation of the two most in-touch, forward thinking, equal opportunities men in the game.

“Look Mary, I do know the offside rule. I do”.

“Not me, I’ve forgotten already”.

“Tee hee. I have too. We’re so silly and meek and have no place in the game”.

“Aren’t footballers hunky?”

“Yes, except John Terry. He ought to be sent on a scouting mission to the sun. The actual sun, not the light-fingered newspaper”.

Reaction to Gray and Keys comments from the weekend has not been positive. And if you don’t know what they said take a read or have a listen.

It’s no real surprise to be honest, they’re a pair of smug, cocksure know-it-alls who think that they’re somehow important in the grand scheme of things. They’ve been doing Premier League football for a long time now, too long. They are outdated, half-witted dinosaurs with a bit of technology at their disposal. Their caveman attitudes are fairly typical and without wishing to go too far off point if this is the way they think about female officials (and the general understanding of the game by women) is it any wonder we hear the kind of crap they spout about leg-breaking being part and parcel of football or how Lionel Messi might not be able to do it at the Brittania Stadium on a cold Tuesday night?

It is irrelevant, archaic nonsense that should have no place on modern television. Sky have been ruthless before, sacking Rodney Marsh for an ill-judged quip about the tsunami years ago. Well, this is worse. Far worse. And that it’s not the first time this pair have been caught out suggests there are those inside Sky who are tired of their self-important blustering. From Sky’s mission statement:

We strive to be the best for our customers and our people, and to make a positive contribution to life in the UK and Ireland. That is the best way for our business to achieve sustainable success. We’re always looking for ways to improve.

There’s a very obvious way now and that’s to get rid of this pair, dump them back in the 70s where they belong, and freshen up your TV coverage. Nobody buys their faux avuncular schtick anymore. Everyone can see through them, their sucking up to the ‘old boys’, the Big Sams and the like, while barely disguising their xenophobia and prejudices. Their comments are just hugely insulting. And at the end of the day if they’d said something racist they’d be out the door. Why should this be any different?

When Aaron Ramsey and Eduardo had their legs broken Sky refused to show replays, saying that the footage was too distressing and might upset people. How kind they were to protect us, grown-ups with off buttons and the ability to decide for ourselves, from such horror. If only they would apply the same standards to their presenters.

Anyway, sorry about that, slightly off topic I know but having had to suffer these clowns for too long it’s important that people see the snide, sneering people they really are.

Back to the Arsenal and it looks as if we’re going to sign Alex Chamberlain from Southampton. As I said the other day how typically Arsenal, to pay for a 17 year old winger when we’re all crying out for a centre-half. Arsene is quoted as saying:

We need an agreement with Southampton, we need an agreement with the player, and we are not the only ones on the case. But we try as hard as we can as I like him as a player.

The general consensus is that we’ll sign him and loan him back to Southampton for the rest of the season. Which does make sense. As for the centre-half situation, Arsene says:

I am open-minded on it and if the right opportunity turns up we will take it. We are not desperate, we have Vermaelen who can still play a big part in the end of the season and we have Squillaci who comes back maybe next Sunday. Song can play at the back too. At the moment I feel that, unless we have a big problem at the centre back, we can deal with the situation.

How big is a big problem? Having one fit centre-half? I can’t have been the only one wincing when Djourou spent five minutes holding his shoulder during the Wigan game. If we had a natural replacement for Song in midfield perhaps you could live with moving him back, but we don’t. And I think the midfield combination is far too important and effective to break up for the need of a centre-half. If Squillaci is back this weekend then the burden is lightened somewhat but that still gives us another four weeks plus before we see Vermaelen – assuming his recuperation goes to plan.

We’re talking 10 or 11 games. A lot can happen in that time and once we go past the end of the month there’s nothing we can do to address the issue. There is no youngster ready to make the step-up. Ignasi Miquel might have been on the bench recently but he has never played a first team game. In a recent interview he said himself the next part of his development was to go out on loan but that’s probably something for next season. Anyone hoping he can fill the gap now is way too optimistic. That the manager talks about moving Song first tells you what you need to know.

I think not buying someone is a gamble. It might well pay off. The three we have might stay fit, play well and help us on our way. That said, with the amount of games they’re playing there’s every possibility of an injury. One mistimed tackle could lead to a suspension of one to three games. Vermaelen might have another set-back. Having to play Song there weakens our midfield. I accept the fact it’s not easy to do business in January, and that any potential recruit will probably be a stop-gap short-term signing, but surely it’s better to have that insurance than not?

I’m not expecting any arrivals to be perfectly honest. I think he’s going to gamble on the fitness of the players he has. I don’t think it’s out of reluctance to spend, I just think he thinks he can make do with what he has. I hope he’s right.

The Guardian says we’re looking at Rangers goalkeeper Alan McGregor. Not sure how much truth there is to this but if there’s any it’s probably because Almunia is off and Fabianski’s injury means we’ve got no cover whatsoever for Wojscez©®.

Robin van Persie talks about his hat-trick and the pressure to get results. He deserved it on Saturday but I suspect he’ll probably start tomorrow night’s game from the bench. I’m not sure I’d do that but the manager has deployed him well recently. Keeping him fit and healthy for the rest of the season will be important because as good as others have been it’s clear he’s the best striker we have at the club.

The manager has already indicated there’ll be changes for tomorrow night’s game against Ipswich. A full preview of that game and quite how many changes he makes in tomorrow’s blog.

Until then, offside rule lovers.

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