Saturday, September 23, 2023

Couldabeens, square pegs + Arsecast 201

Happy Friday the 13th to you superstitious types, or to those of you averse to hockey masks and chainsaws.

We’ll wait for Arsene’s presser this morning to get proper confirmation but the word on the street is that it could be a comebacktactular Sunday with returns mooted for Cesc, Samir Nasri and Thomas Vermaelen. His last appearance was on August 28th in the 2-1 win away at Blackburn so it is long overdue and very welcome. It’d be rather too easy to suggest we’d have been considerably better defensively if he’d been fit – the problems we have are a mixture of personnel and system – but I don’t think it’d be too outrageous to suggest we might have been slightly better off.

And who knows, slightly better might just have been enough to keep us in the title race a bit longer. Anyway, it’s all ifs and buts and maybes and perhapses and couldabeens and youneverknows and whatifs and such. You can’t live life like that, you’d drive yourself mad.


Marouane Chamakh has been talking at length about his first season at the club and suggests his second half of the season was so poor because of Robin’s return:

People said I had lost my place. Well, actually it’s more that Van Persie logically got his place back!

He’s an excellent player, a phenomenon. I still have a way to go yet and I’m here to learn. That said, if I can bring that little bit extra to the team, all the better!

Overuse of exclamation marks aside there’s plenty of merit to that and you can’t overlook the cracking first half to the season he had. He made an excellent contribution, worked hard, took plenty of knocks and did his bit for the team. I’m not sure I totally bought the claims that he was exhausted due to lack of a winter break, considering how much time he’s spent on the bench since van Persie’s return he can hardly be knackered.

And now, when I see him play, I don’t quite know what to make of him. Is he a player short of match practice and confidence, or is he a very technically limited player who doesn’t quite fit into this Arsenal team? I know people accuse Bendtner of being clumsy but Chamakh, at times, looks like a newly born foal. With polio. And great big deformed hooves which can’t quite work right to kick the ball properly.

He doesn’t look like the kind of player who can ever do what Bendtner did against Ipswich, for example, and we don’t play the kind of game which suits him. He’s got great aerial ability but we don’t cross it often enough and well enough for him to benefit from that. If people talk, rightly enough, about Bendtner being a square peg in a round hole then Chamakh, for me, is even squarer and the hole as round as round can be.

On the other hand, players can take time to settle properly, and often have a better second season in English football than their first. It’s always handy to have a plan B, a different option, but maybe we’ll only see the best of that when we use it properly and don’t ask the plan B players to get on the end of their own crosses.

Transfer speculation in the Mirror regarding too players from L’eyton Orient, Morgan Amalfitano and Kevin Gameiro. A midfielder and a forward respectively, the former is available on a free (a price which suits Arsene) and the latter for a fee of around £12m. I hope the Silly Season Transfer Blog chap has got his keyboard waxed because it’s beginning already.

Martin Keown on Arsenal:

I think Arsene Wenger has almost over-estimated what they are capable of and they have let him down. Arsenal are not far away, it is not all doom and gloom. With the right collection of players with experience and strength of leadership, then I think Arsenal can win something next season.

And Patrick Vieira on Arsenal:

They play the best football in the last few years,. But playing the best football and not winning, that must be so frustrating. When they are in trouble, they always concede a goal. A big team when it’s under pressure, it pulls together, it makes the trouble go away.

I won’t argue with any of that, and while the rumour mill regarding possible player changes is heading towards overdrive, it’s probably worth mentioning that the names of these two esteemed ex-Gunners have been heard over the last few weeks when changes are talked about from a staff point of view.

Right then, onto this week’s Arsecast and joining me to discuss Arsenal post-Stoke as well as Arsene and what might need to happen at the season’s end, is Philippe Auclair from France Football. Also in the mix, Internet Joe, Mick Bendtner, the winner of last week’s competition to win an exclusive Arseblog engraved iPod shuffle, and the usual waffle.

You can subscribe to the Arsecast on iTunes by clicking here. Or if you want to subscribe directly to the feed URL you can do so too. To download this week’s Arsecast directly – click here (27mb MP3) or you can listen directly below without leaving this very page.


And that’s about that really. I’d like to say Arsene’s press conference will be interesting but at this point I’ve kind of had enough of words. He’ll never say publicly the things we’d like him to, I suspect there’ll be some difficult questions post-Stoke which he’ll avoid in the most general terms, and then some stuff about how we have to ‘fight until the end’. I’ll watch it though. I’m a bit masochistic like that.

Have a good one, back tomorrow.

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