Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Some Theo thoughts + Arsecast 253

Morning all, mild *boilk* after going to celebrate the win in last night’s Irish Web Awards (Best Podcaster) with Mrs Blogs. Nothing coffee can’t fix though. Or morphine, but I don’t have any morphine. I wish it grew on trees. The world would be a much better place if everyone had a morphine tree.

Anyway, it’s Friday and we travel to Manchester tomorrow, to ‘de teeyatter of dreyums’, as a radio ad here continues to annoy me with its pronunciation. And that means not only a game against Manchester United but also the first time we’ll have faced the traitorous Dutch Skunk since his contentious departure this summer.

I know that when things aren’t going as well as they might for us, it’s easy to pine for him, his left foot, his chocolate leg, his jazz hands, and, you know, all those handy and oft delicious goals he scores. But in circumstances like these it seems silly not to remember how he left, and how he went from being someone we all loved to somebody who should be tied down and kicked repeatedly in the face by an ostrich. Wearing steel capped boots. That release acid with each shuddering blow.

“Oh, you guys!”, he’d say, “How can you guys do this to me, you guys? I thought you guys would appreciate all I did for you guys in the time I was there, you guys.”

We would say nothing but command Wilberforce, for that is the ostrich’s name, to continue his booting and pummelling until such time as there was no face any more. Try scoring goals without a face, Skunky. I think you’ll find the most successful strikers in the world have all had faces. Because they are important for seeing and breathing and things. Not that I’m bitter, or anything. I just really like the idea of ostrich related ultra-violence.

There’s no real news in terms of our squad other than there’s no return for Wojciech Szczesny or Kieran Gibbs while Gervinho’s ankle knock means he’s out for about three weeks. Curiously there’s been no update on Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain who was almost fit enough for the Capital One Cup game, so I’m going to assume he’s fit enough to be in the squad at least. A dangerous assumption, I know, but I like to live life on the edge.

Meanwhile, the thorny subject of Theo Walcott was brought up at Arsene’s pre-game press conference (which took place yesterday). Interestingly, the manager has put a vague deadline on things, saying he wants it all sorted before Christmas, and he’s dangled an enticing carrot to the player as well:

We want to sort it out before Christmas, one way or the other. I would not like to [sell him]. I have not even thought about that, because at the moment I think we will still manage to make a deal with him.

I always said it is important that he plays in the correct position and that certainly would be through the middle in the future. The positions on the flanks are changing – you need to do a lot of defending. He should be dedicated more to offensive work.

It’s been kind of funny to see stories leaked this week about how Theo won’t consider a new deal until he’s a regular starter. He was a regular starter last season and refused to consider a new deal. Work that one out. But the fact that the manager has publicly offered him a position up front is very much a case of playing the contract game and thwacking the ball back into Theo’s court.

We’re told it’s not about money, it’s about wanting to play as a striker. Here’s the manager letting everyone know that he’ll give him what he wants from a football point of view, now prove it’s not about the money and sign a new deal. It all comes down to Theo. If his desire is to stay with Arsenal then being offered what he supposedly wants should be enough, shouldn’t it? The reality of his situation is another thing, though.

When players get to this point, when they can discuss a Bosman with other clubs come January, it’s very rare for them to stay. Even if Arsenal offer him more money, other clubs, not having to pay a transfer fee to us, can gazump the shite out of us, so it really does come down to what the player wants. Is it to play as a forward at his current club, or make out like a bandit by leaving on a free?

It’s a complicated one. Seven goals this season, all them coming in games where he didn’t start as a ‘striker’ suggests that his goalscoring ambitions are not exactly being hindered when he’s picked to play wide. And it’s a position that seems acceptable enough to players like Messi, Ronaldo, Thierry Henry at Barcelona, and others, so I’m not convinced, and never have been, that this desire to play in a more central position is anything but a smokescreen.

The mention of Christmas seems to suggest that the January transfer window is in the thoughts of the manager, but it’d be a huge surprise if anything happened then. Unless we’re planning on spending (hahahahaha … hold me) it’d be insanity to weaken the squad just for the sake of money that won’t be on offer during the summer. Sometimes you have cut your losses, not your profits.

Anyway, there’s plenty of talk about Theo, Jack Wilshere, Reading, and more in this week’s Arsecast in which I’m joined by Amy Lawrence. There’s the usual waffle, some Amaury Bischoff PI and a look ahead to the Manchester United game.

You can subscribe to the Arsecast on iTunes by clicking here. Or if you want to subscribe directly to the feed URL you can do so too (this is a much better way to do it as you don’t experience the delays from iTunes). To download this week’s Arsecast directly – click here (24mb MP3) or you can listen directly below without leaving this very page.


And that’s about that for this Friday morning. News throughout the day on Arseblog News, and if you haven’t already read it, Tim Stillman’s column this week is a must.

Till tomorrow.

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