Friday, January 27, 2023

Dodgy calves + thoughts on Theo

Lots of websites are going ‘black’ today, Wikipedia for example, to protest against proposed new laws in the USA which will make everyone have to connect to the internet through AOL with all their family filters turned on.

I was considering going black to bemoan our transfer policy, general crapness, toilet queues at the stadium and ‘The Wonder of You’. I didn’t do though. Mostly because I couldn’t be arsed. There’s too much going on and with a big game on Sunday we’ve got plenty to talk about.

As of yet we don’t have any real team news but the early whispers aren’t that encouraging. Thomas Vermaelen’s calf problem appears to be contagious. First it spread to Mikel Arteta’s and now The Express (auto-playing video so not linking to it) report that Thierry Henry limped out of training yesterday with a similar problem. The extent of it isn’t fully known but obviously it’s going to cause some worry ahead of Sunday given the paucity of options we have for that position.

One of them, Andrei Arshavin, is being linked with a £6m move to Nazio this morning. The simple fact is, however, that unless we replace Arshavin with a signing then he’s not going anywhere. And the chances of us signing anyone seem more remote than Scaredy Joe’s stone cottage in the middle of nowhere. Unless, of course, the manager decides that instead of signing someone it’s time to give Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain his chance to shine.

However, while most us are keen to see a bit of Ox action, it could be seen as a regressive step by Arsene. A return to the days where the failings of established, experienced players were attempted to be solved by callow youth. As good as AOC is, it’s a lot to expect him to do what we would expect a player of Arshavin’s experience and reputation to do. That said, we’re very much in the Park/Chamakh terrority here, where pretty much anything is an improvement on what we’ve seen. Personally, I just can’t see it happening but unless Arsene is watching games through his rosiest-tinted glasses he can’t be anything other than frustrated with the Polly-Pocket Russian.

When I spoke yesterday about improving the squad, I also mentioned that there were areas in the first team I could see a need for obvious improvement. And for all the focus on our defence (which is currently decimated by injury) and midfield (which I think is underrated and with Wilshere’s return set to get better in the final part of the season), we come back to our forward options. As much as I think we need an alternative to Robin van Persie, someone who can do a job as a centre-forward, our first choices either side of him haven’t exactly set the world on fire this season.

Now, Gervinho I think deserves more time. He’s new to English football and despite some poor decision making and a tendency to go ‘OhmygodOhmygodOhmygodOhmygodOhmygodOhmygod’ and panic around the penalty area, he’s still scored a few and set up a few. He can do better, and should do better, no doubt about it. On the other side though, Theo Walcott has been something of a disappointment. From a technical point of view he still looks an extremely limited player unless he’s doing the one thing which he’s generally comfortable with – going through on goal.

I know he missed that one on one against (Wolves/QPR?) but most of the time I’d quite fancy him to score in that position. His finish against Swansea was excellent too but his overall contribution to the game, like many others that day, was pretty minimal. And here’s a player that Arsene needs to make a decision on this summer, I think. Theo’s contract is up in the summer of 2013 and with only 12 months left at end of this season something needs to be done.

Does the club hang onto him and accede to the wage demands which are, quite frankly, too high for a player of his limited ability, or do they do the brave thing, accept those limitations and either call his bluff re: a new contract or see what the market fetches. There were reports not so long ago about talks being opened on a new deal but from what I hear those have been put on ice for one reason or another.

Theo is a very marketable player, no doubt about it, but is that enough to give him a new deal on wages approaching £100,000 a week? He said himself that he needed to get more goals but was ‘not fussed’ about it once the team was winning. Unfortunate choice of words really. I know what he means but he ought to be fussed. He ought to be very fussed indeed. He can’t just start being fussed about his lack of contribution when the team is losing games. To become a really great player your personal motivation has to got to be sky high at all times, he’s got to be unhappy with himself when he doesn’t play well (win or lose) and I just don’t see that from him.

He’s a player that provides you with moments, his pace is scary but after all these years in the first team he still plays with his head down and is as likely to run the ball out of play as he is to run it past the left back. Is that going to improve all of a sudden if it hasn’t improved until now? I don’t know. Certainly he’d be a player who’d be an asset to the squad but maybe not as a first choice player. Whether that kind of role is acceptable to Walcott is the question there. It’ll be very interesting to see what happens with this in the summer, there’s very much a heart/head battle on the cards for Arsene, I’d say.

Finally for today, how about a transfer rumour? I know, I know! Anyway, The Mail says we’re keeping our beady little eye on Greek keeper, Stefanos Kapino. He’s 17 but apparently all kinds of awesome. With Almunia, Fabianski and Mannone unlikely to be at the club next season, we’ll certainly need someone. I believe he can also play up-front, left back, right back and tea lady. Versatile.

Till tomorrow.

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