Sunday, December 10, 2023

SZCZ talks + forward options thinning out

Morning all.

There’s little point reflecting too much on the City game at this stage. It’s done and dusted and we’ve got to refocus ourselves on the games ahead. It might be a strange thing to say but perhaps the team will take some measure of confidence from the defeat. The last trip to Manchester was traumatic, this time only the odd goal separated us from the most expensively assembled team in football.

Wojciech Szczesny, never one to be anything other than honest, says:

I don’t think there is a big gap between the teams in terms of quality. They just got the winning goal and that was the difference. But we showed on Sunday that we are just as good as the richest team and possibly, at the moment, the best team in the league so that gives us confidence we can beat everyone else.

Now, I love SZCZ. A lot. I like the fact he’s a fan, he’s got the potential to be a great keeper and he’s got that self-confidence that you really need to succeed at the top, but I’m not sure I can agree with him 100% here. I know where he’s coming from but ultimately the gap isn’t just measured by what happened on Sunday but by the league table. And the best team in the league is the one sitting top of the pile.

Update: it has been pointed out that perhaps he was actually referring to Man City when talking about the best team in the league, which would make a bit more sense.

But as I said, if there are any positives to be taken from the game then I hope they take them. A scrappy goal, a dubious offside decision for van Persie’s goal and a couple of great Joe Hart saves (not forgetting a hapless Nasri pass) were all that separated the teams. And if you get confidence from winning games against opposition you probably should beat, a close game with a team that you know is going to be tough can instill some belief too.

Perhaps there will be those will say there’s no glory in defeat at all, that trying to pretend otherwise is just covering up for deficiencies, but it ignores the obvious human element. If you lose a game having been thoroughly outplayed and outclassed that’s one thing but that’s not the case with the game at the Middle Eastands. And to me it’s no bad thing that having gone up against the best team in the league and lost that we look to try and make the best of it instead of some of the quick-to-collapse reactions we’ve seen in the past.

Meanwhile, Szczesny’s comments on Sp*rs are amusing. Speaking to the Evening Standard, he said:

Getting above Tottenham is the main target. We don’t want to finish below them no matter what. That’s just my personal ambition because I am one of the fans and so it means a lot to me to finish above them. I am confident we will do so.

They will slip up eventually. They have been in good form – you have to give it to them – but I am confident we are a better side and will finish above them.

Words can often come back to bite you on the arse in football but for too long we’ve missed players who have a real and genuine connection to the club. For all his potential and ability the fact that he’s a fan too is a great thing and that’s not something I think we should be overly critical of. He’s a young man who speaks his mind and perhaps in the future he might find it more useful to keep his counsel at times but isn’t he saying what most of us are thinking? Apart from adding ‘The cunts’, to the end of his sentence?

In The Mirror this morning a report that Arsenal are willing to sell Andrei Arshavin if we can find a buyer and once we’ve got a replacement sorted. I’m sure there’d be plenty of clubs willing to take him. Let’s face it, if we can move on Bendtner, Denilson and Eboue then somebody with the latent quality and profile of Arshavin would be a far easier task.

The big issue is how we replace him. With Gervinho off to the African Cup of Nations there’s a gap in the squad. Whether the manager chooses to fill it by buying a player like Götze or Podolski, or if he decides it’s time to unleash the Ox with Benayoun as another option, remains to be seen. From everything I’ve been reading it seems a January move for either of the German based players is unlikely and while I like what I’ve seen of Oxlade-Chamberlain thus far I can’t imagine he’ll let Arshavin go without signing a replacement.

In a way blooding the Ox would be something of a retrograde step for the manager. Relying on untapped youth to replace experience when this summer should have taught him that bringing in players of a certain age, with games under their belt, is most likely to have an immediate impact on the team. Yet he’s got a big decision to make regarding Arshavin. His form is in the toilet, he’s clearly lacking any kind of confidence, doesn’t seem to work hard enough to make things happen or get himself back on track, and if the Man City performance wasn’t quite a last straw it’s got to be pretty close.

When you take into account that Chamakh (on top of everything else) is off the ACN, Park is still not considered good enough for even a place on the bench, and van Persie simply can’t play every game it’d be very surprising if we went through January without getting the chequebook out. We’re muddling through an injury crisis at the back at the moment which is affecting how the team performs, we simply can’t afford to do that at the other end of the pitch too.

Finally for today, strike action threatens the Wolves game on Dec 26th. London Underground drivers have planned industrial action which will affect fans and staff if it goes ahead.

Seems a good time to break out this timeless classic. Probably best not play this too loud if you’re in work.

Have a good one.

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