Morning all, welcome to an Arsenal free Saturday. We don’t play until 4pm tomorrow so there’ll be lots going on to cause joy/consternation today.
Arsene’s press conference was interesting yesterday. We’ll come to team news etc in a little bit, but midway through he launched into quite a broadside about the way television influences the fixtures, and even suggested that cosy relationships between some clubs and the TV companies were being exploited to give those teams an advantage. He said:
I don’t believe the Premier League has played, in the last year, a very fair role in the distribution of the fixtures. They have sold their soul to television, television is influenced by some clubs to choose the fixtures, and some clubs get an advantage.
Is it Sky or is it ESPN? Because they have an influence there from the clubs directly. And the Premier League should be a much bigger barrier than they are in front of that.
Clearly the target of his ire was the Premier League, he’s savvy enough to know that given the money the TV companies pay the clubs are going to be beholden to them. You can’t take with one hand and give them the V sign with the other, but I do wonder what sparked this. He says he’s not the only manager who feels like this, I wonder will any of them come out and back him up. I’d be very, very surprised.
It’s easy this morning to look at his comments and scoff, many in the media are doing so already. Yes, we all know football sold its soul long ago, but there’s no harm in saying it again, is there? I don’t recall such opprobrium when Sluralex said almost the same thing a couple of months back. Anyway, it’s hard to take the media seriously when they, relentlessly, suck up the hypocrisy from the likes of Harry Redknapp. He complains about Man City buying the title, yet ignores the huge spending of the club he’s at. He complains about Man City yet ignores the fact that he wouldn’t have Adebayor without their deep, deep pockets.
That he only has to pay a fraction of Adebayor’s wages remains a big issue. Not because it’s Adebayor, but no club should be allowed benefit like that from loan deals. Either you can afford 100% of the player’s wages or you don’t get the player, and the club who bought him in the first place have to deal with their poorly thought out investment. Anyway, that’s just the way of it. Some managers can keep a straight face while talking about a player at the same time as saying they never talk about players and nobody says a word, other managers have every little thing pored over and taken to pieces. Such is life, and I do wonder if those Arsene has criticised will bite back. Keep an eye on your Radio Times for evidence of that.
On to team news ahead of tomorrow and the manager says Mertesacker and Rosicky are still not back in full training having missed the Leeds game with sickness. There was a bug going around, no really, and I guess they’re being kept away until they’re 100% they’re not contagious any more. He’s also hinted that Andrei Arshavin will start tomorrow ahead of Thierry Henry who, as we spoke about yesterday, is probably a more potent weapon off the bench:
In the last game, specifically, he showed that he needs to play and needs confidence. He needs to play with confidence and freedom, that is his strength. He is a creative player and you need that fraction of belief and confidence to play with freedom.
With Arsene ruling out a January move for Kalou (thankfully, I don’t rate him or his triangle head very highly at all), we’re going to need the Russian in Gervinho’s absence. Perhaps, with Euro 2012 looming, Arshavin’s motivation will be higher and if that’s reflected in his performances then it won’t be a bad thing. It’s hard to see much of a future of him beyond the summer and as frustrating as his time at the club has been it’d be nice if it wound down on the back of some goals and an Arshavin we thought we might be getting way back when.
The boss also ruled out a January move for Marouane Chamakh, saying he’d return to the club after the African Cup of Nations. I see people saying ‘Sell him, sell him’, all the time, but at the moment, and in all seriousness, who would buy him? The summer will be the time to move him on, player and club will have more options.
He was asked about a possible full back signing and said:
A player who plays anywhere in the world at the moment will not be available on loan, it doesn’t exist. It can only be a guy who doesn’t play or a promising player who has not yet made it completely who you could take advantage of.
That is why it is not an easy situation. You have to consider that a guy who has not played for two months is not necessarily back quicker than Bacary Sagna or another player who is just coming back from injury.
And that is the reality of the situation. Any player available on loan is available because his club don’t want him, don’t rate him, or don’t like him for some reason or another. If he hasn’t been playing he needs games to get match fit, at which point we might have our injured (and better) players back. And in a world in which most potential signings are written before they happen because X player is a Y Club cast-off, it seems odd to me that there’s such clamour for a player who would be less a cast off and more a piece of dirt on the bottom of that club’s shoe.
Sagna should be back by the end of January, Vermaelen’s back for United, Kieran Gibbs in 10 days, there’s been ‘good news’ about Jenkinson, apparently, and the big question remains: who is out there that would do a job? We’ve offered a trial to a 24 year old Omani defender, but Arsenal trial players all the time, I wouldn’t be expectant of any kind of deal there. I suspect we’ll just have to get on with it with what we have.
Right, not much more going on. A full preview of the Swansea game tomorrow. In the meantime have a good Saturday.