05 July 2014

What'll Özil have to do to silence his critics?

And then there were three. Gunners, that is, still vying for World Cup glory. They all play for Germany—Podolski, Mertesacker, Özil. "Ich bin ein berliner" and all that. Whereas the first two have been in and out of the line-up, it's the third who's featured in all five of Germany's five World Cup matches and who has, as a result, suffered the most scrutiny. Having moved from Real Madrid to Arsenal last summer for £42m, Özil has found himself under the klieg-lights and has, at times, withered under their glare rather than blossomed. As a result, the critics and nay-sayers have come out, calling him over-rated and worse. It's enough to make your correspondent wonder who the American is—those who slag him for failing to score or yours truly who defends him for offering more sublime, subtle pleasures.

04 July 2014

Sánchez a Gunner? Odds fall to 8/15...

As the conclusion to the World Cup draws ever-nearer, and the 10 July unveiling of Puma's Arsenal kit does the same, the rumors around players joining Arsenal will proliferate and mutiply beyond control, eventually achieving sentience and overthrowing us like...wait. That's the Terminator plot I'm summarizing. Be that as it may, the same, essential plot-line holds true as the World Cup winnows down. The back-stage shufflings are starting to draw more interest now, as France's Mathieu Debuchy has apparently been quoted saying that he has committed to Arsenal. Should this prove true, we'd once again have a French right-back with a spouse by the name of Ludivine. So be it. Casting our net further afield, the rumors around Chilean striker Alexis Sánchez gather momentum, to the point that it's starting to feel positively Higuaín-esque (Higuaín-ish?). All that's missing to this point is a quote from Sánchez's father.

Down comes Fàbregas's banner, down goes his legacy as well.

We have long since left behind an era in which players will remain with one club for the entirety of their careers. We know now that it is myopic and misguided to pin our hopes on any one player committing himself, pledging himself, to one club. Football stop operating on such sentimental principles a long time ago. One on hand it is no one's fault—not the player's, not the club's, not the agent's...On the other, it is everyone's fault. Who was too greedy? Who lacked ambition? These and other questions hover in the air, and there are as many answers as there are people willing to weigh in. Cesc Fàbregas certainly wasn't the first beloved player to leave his club, and he won't be the last one to end up playing for a rival, but there will always be something in this affair that tugs at the heart more than that of, say, Cole or van Persie. However, the club have taken one step towards closing the book on this story by taking down his banner from the Ken Friar bridge. Does this prevent Fàbregas from achieving 'legend' status, or is it merely a temporary demotion because he now plays for Chelsea?

03 July 2014

Liverpool look to go full-Tottenham with sale of Suarez...

Apologies, first of all, for the dearth of postings. I'm camping in the Maine woods where internet is spotty. It's been hard to stay abreast of, much analyze or respond to, goings-on other than the whereabouts of bear-defecations. So that's one rumor confirmed. Still open but feeling tantalizingly close is the idea that Alexis Sánchez might be on his way away from Barcelona—with Arsenal touted as his most-likely destination—paving the way for Suarez to leave Liverpool. Have the Liverputians learnt nothing from Spuds? It was a summer ago that saw our London "rivals" sell their talismanic goal-scorer to Spain to finance the purchase of a raft of new players only to stumble along to a sixth-place finish. Could Liverpool be set to reprise the role?

01 July 2014

If only World Cup squads were a better proxy for Prem performance...

We're almost down to the quarterfinals, with just two matches remaining to round out the final eight. A quick glance at the six nations that are through reveal a strong London flavor with 21 different players hailing from various London-based clubs. Of those, more than a third play for Arsenal, a number matched by Chelsea and trailed by Man City's six, which leaves me wondering why such numbers can't serve as a better barometer for how we do in the Prem. After all, one indication of a player's class and form is his inclusion in his country's squad. On that score, we'd win the Prem—if not outright then perhaps on goal-differentials or some other tie-break. Pity that there's more to it than that.

30 June 2014

Calming ourselves on Campbell: not quite the conqueror we crave...

Costa Rica are through to the quarterfinals, the first time ever in the country's history, and have become darlings of the tournament. With a gutsy, gritty performance that saw them hold off Greece for sixty minutes despite being a man down, suffering a heart-breaking equalizer late in regulation, the Ticos recovered well enough to get to penalties and win, converting all five while keeper Keylor Navas saved Greece's fourth attempt to clear the way for victory. For as thrilling a victory this is to Costa Ricans, I hope it's not too churlish of me to suggest that, for Gooners, the takeaway is a bit less awe-inducing. I speak of course of Joel Campbell, who has come down to Earth a bit after opening the World Cup with a bang. This is not to say we should turn our backs on bringing him back, just that we should temper expectations around what he could do.