A tired good morning to you. I had a terrible night’s sleep. One of those where it takes ages and ages to drop off and you have a snippet of a song going around and around in your head. I suspect it was the lack of the visual sleeping pill that is a Euro 2012 quarter-final, so instead of counting sheep I counted England penalties but only got to two each time. Thank you, I’m here all week.
It’s a pretty quiet morning with no Euro round-up and pre-season still two weeks away from starting, but there’s ‘news’ regarding Olivier Giroud. Despite it being as done as a deal can be without being officially signed, there was further confirmation from the President of Montpellier who wished Giroud well, said Arsenal had paid the full release clause (around €15m) and that Marouane Chamakh was not part of the deal.
It’s been an unusually open transfer in terms of information in the public domain. Arsene Wenger, normally so cagey and unwilling to talk about anything transfer related, has at least twice made reference to it and its completeness, and we’ve had plenty of chatter from the other end too. I guess that down to the confidence on both sides that the agreement is rock solid. There’s some talk that Chelsea were interested but the player himself wanted to come to Arsenal.
Naturally enough the French contingent will have helped but his friendship with Laurent Koscielny in particular (they both played together at Tours) will have been a factor in his decision making. He’s something of a late bloomer, having played in Ligue 2 as recently as 2010, but that needn’t be a problem. Didn’t Didier Drogba have a similar kind of career progression? Not that I’m saying he’s going to be as good as Drogba (I doubt he could be as much of a cheaty bitch at least) but it’s worth bearing in mind. And let’s not forget Koscielny himself who only had one season in Ligue Un before making the move to Arsenal.
So, I guess now we just have to wait for the official confirmation and our second signing of the summer will be done and dusted before the end of June. Not bad going. Obviously there’s still plenty more work to do, in terms of players in and players going out, but thus far it’s reasonably encouraging.
Speaking of players going out and there are rumours that Aaron Ramsey is a target for Fulham. Quite how much truth is behind said rumours I don’t know, but unless there’s something behind the scenes we don’t know I’d be very surprised if we were to entertain this. The Arsenal midfield is a crowded place with Arteta, Song, Rosicky, Wilshere, Ramsey, Diaby [I know], Coquelin and Frimpong all competing for places, but you can’t help but look at that panel of players and not worry a bit about how injury might have an impact on how much they play.
As it stands Wilshere is trying to make his way back from a year out of the game, Diaby is perpetually Diabyed, Frimpong’s cruciates snap like 1/3 of a bowl of Rice Krispies, and as much as I like Tomas he’s not exactly been Johnny Fitalot thoughout his Arsenal career. Bearing that in mind and even taking into account the fact I think we’ll probably make a midfield signing this year (and I believe we need one) – not to mention the fact that Arsene sees Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s long-term future as a central midfielder rather than a wide player – I’d be really surprised if we were to let Ramsey go.
I can fully understand frustration over his performances last season but I do think there were mitigating circumstances. He’s still a very young, relatively inexperienced player, and being thrust into the Cesc role (with all the responsibility that entails) after suffering the horrendous injury at the boot of Lennie was a bit too much, too soon. Let’s not overlook the fact that senior players who have been there, done that and perhaps even worn some kind of short sleeved garment, struggled at times too. He wasn’t alone in that regard and I think some of the criticism was overboard and unfair.
It seemed to take Arsene a bit too long to realise that he wasn’t going to be able to play his way into form but the manager was also hamstrung, if you’ll pardon the pun, by injuries to other players. Ramsey was also asked to play out of position at times too. Starting on the left side of the attack worked well enough at Everton but not so much at QPR, yet Ramsey wasn’t the one who made that decision. Not all players are as versatile as Arsene would like them to be.
I think there’s enough potential there to hang onto him but I also think we’ve got to see some progression from him in the season ahead. I remember clearly an Opta stat from the first half of the season which stated that Ramsey had created more goalscoring chances for Arsenal than any other player and he’s got enough creativity to improve in that area next season. Some shooting practice wouldn’t go amiss either, the chances he spurned could have seen him rack up quite a few goals which would, in a Vermaelenesque way, have earned him some more forgiveness for the other parts of his game which need to be refined. Anyway, we’ll see how this plays out but as I said, it’d surprise me if we were willing to let him go at this stage.
Finally for today, in the wake of the Euro exit, it’s not exactly helpful or sensible for Jack Wilshere to be labelled ‘England’s Pirlo’. It is fairly typical that the longer a player is out of action the better he becomes in the minds of fans and pundits, but having that weight of expectation on him after such a terrible time with injury is somewhat ridiculous. First and foremost he needs to become Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere again, anything beyond that is a bonus.
Right, that’ll do it, till tomorrow.