Sunday, November 27, 2022

Fabianski unhappy – Wenger on strange ground

Good morning. I woke up late and I have somewhere to be this morning. Funny how you never wake up late when you have nowhere to be. And it’s all my alarm’s fault.

I don’t know about you but I need to change the sound every so often, otherwise I just get used to it and I’ll sleep through it. Or ‘snooze’ through it. Or incorporate it into my dream so it’s no longer an alarm. And Mrs Blogs warned me that the sound I picked on my phone last night was a dream incorporator. I guess that’s what happened because I don’t remember hearing it at all. But I don’t remember dreaming either.

Her suggestion was to record myself say ‘Wake up, you fucker! GET UP’, and use that, but I think the concept of me talking myself awake from a small electronic device more than a bit creepy. I might have to give it a try though.

So, we’re at the point where the Interlull is over but the real football hasn’t quite begun. We should start to get some teams news later but there are a few bits and pieces going on. We’ll start with Lukasz Fabianski who, like any footballer worth his salt, wants to play football. He’s not doing that at Arsenal and says:

If my situation does not change – I’ll consider asking for a move. If I want to go to Euro 2012 the only way I can persuade the coach to take me is by playing on a regular basis.

Obviously the emergence of Wojciech Szczesny is the main problem for Fabianski. His younger and, let’s be honest, better countryman has usurped him at club and international level. Even if Fabianski left and played regularly elsewhere, SZCZ would have to find his form in the Trainspotting toilet for Fabianski get in ahead of him on merit. There’s always the possibility of injury too but that’s something none of us really want to contemplate.

The fortunes of both Polish goalkeepers are a real illustration of how the game is all about taking your chances. Fabianski was given a number of opportunities to push Almunia out of the way – a candy from a baby situation really – but despite looking every inch the perfect keeper in training, with great reactions, reflexes and everything else, when push came to shove he was found wanting. Some of the mistakes he made were just horrendous.

Ironically, it was after probably his best run of form, when he had banished some of the demons and played pretty well consistently, that he lost his place. He got injured, Szczesny came in and when he got his chance he took it. He added character and presence to the position, everyone could see that whatever ‘it’ is, he had it, and he hasn’t looked back since. Such is the way of football, you can be dealt a cruel hand sometimes, or you can be in the right place at the right time. Both apply in this situation and if Fabianski wants to leave then it’s to do with him being realistic and knowing, bar anything crazy happening, that Arsenal have found their number 1 keeper for the next 10-15 years.

Meanwhile, Arsene Wenger is counting on experience, not just his, to get us through this difficult patch. Speaking to the Arsenal Magazine, he said:

Sometimes we are reproached for not having enough captains in our squad, now we have plenty Overall we have more experience and this could be important if we are in a strong position should we have interesting challenges in March or April. That could have a big part to play.

Without wishing to jump the gun or jump on the bus of everlasting doom, it’s a little premature to be talking about challenges in March or April right now. We have got a series of huge games coming up and if we can win enough to make March/April/May provide some challenges, then brilliant. For now though, it’s one game at a time. Cliché it might be, but it’s true.

And speaking of challenges this is something of a new one for Arsene. I understand it when everyone talks about how he’s a great manager, how you don’t lose it, how he’s the right man to turn things around etc etc, but one thing that doesn’t get mentioned very much is that this is a situation Arsene has never had to face before in his Arsenal career. His experience is almost entirely based on consistency in the top four of the Premier League. Sometimes winning it, sometimes getting close to winning it and then falling away, and once, being outside it and then securing that position on the final day of the season.

He has never had to try and a turn around a team whose form is so poor or deal with a team which is languishing near the foot of the league after enough games for it not to be a bit of early season table-japery. We’ve had difficult patches before but never a sequence of 18 games from which we’ve just taken 18 points. And 18 games, over last season and this, is more than enough time to start drawing conclusions about a team’s performance. Sure, some of the circumstances might be unusual but not so trying that a team of professional athletes should find themselves in the doldrums like this.

So this is pretty much uncharted territory for Arsene Wenger and that’s what makes where we are that bit more ‘interesting’. Can a top of the table manager instill the required attitude and character into a team which has always had an expectation of being in the top four, or thereabouts, for the duration of the season? The manager’s not used to it, the players aren’t used it, and I think it’s going to take all the experience we have, on the pitch and off it, to drag ourselves out of it.

Right, must dash. Places to be, people to see, and such. Till tomorrow.

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