03 July 2015

Poldi, we hardly knew ye.

As part of a clearout that included an emotional farewell to long-serving and long-suffering Abou Diaby, the apparent sale of Lukas Podolski seems to have merited nary a ripple. The contrast between the two does explain that a bit. Diaby busted his butt (UPDATE: Diaby sidelined indefinitely by busted butt) but rarely got to play. Poldi sat on his butt and, well, rarely got to play. Of the players signed that season, he's the only one to fallen short of our expectations and needs, and so it's no surprise to see him go. Still, he delivered some scintillating moments on the pitch and some entertaining ones off it, and that Mjolnir-esque left foot will be missed—at least, in those last ten minutes of a match when we want to see someone score a screamer.

02 July 2015

The returns of Nasri and van Persie: prodigal or pathetic?

They were to be the core of Arsenal's renaissance, technically gifted players capable of turning a game on its head through individal flourishes or team chemistry. Samir Nasri and Robin van Persie, along with Cesc Fàbregas, comprised one of the most potent attacking trios in the Prem...until each of them bolted in acrimonious, avaricious ways. Last summer, of course, we had the Cesc soap opera, culminating in his return to the wrong London team. This summer, we can sit back, put our feet up, and enjoy the not-at-all-sad unraveling of the other two. If the stories are to be believed, Nasri wants to come back to Arsenal, and van Persie is to be sold "secretly" to Fenerbahçe. True or not, the mere existence of the stories is delicious to me and, I hope, to you. Let's roll in the mud a bit, shall we?

Adieu, Abou.

On Wednesday, the long, tragic farce that was once a promising career came to an end as Arsenal, after nearly a decade of frustration, finally parted ways with Abou Diaby, letting him leave the club rather than offering him a new contract with elaborate pay-to-play provisions. He's now free, such as it is, to pursue options in other leagues in which the play is less physical than it is in the Prem (or in which the referees are less willing to turn a blind eye to reckless tackles). Something in me had hoped that there would be one more resurrection, one more phoenix-like rebirth that allow us all to finally bask in awe at the marvels that Diaby was once capable of. Instead, those thoughts will die with his Arsenal tenure.

01 July 2015

Arsène LIED to Szczęsny, keeper is "devasted"!

According to former Poland national goalkeeper Jan Tomaszewski, Arsène Wenger lied to Wojciech Szczęsny over the lad's future as Arsenal's #1 keeper, deluding and damaging Szczęsny so much that his future with Arsenal and the Polish national team are now in doubt. The arrival of Petr Čech, according to Tomaszewski, has "devastated" Szczęsny. This seems to fit an emerging pattern in which other people associated with Szczęsny make boneheaded remarks that, if anything, only complicate matters for the very player they are purportedly trying to help. To Tomaszewski, then, I say,głupie gadanie!

30 June 2015

Szczęsny welcomes Čech to Arsenal...

LONDON COLNEY—Wojciech wasn't feeling quite himself. For years—almost his entire time at Arsenal, really—he'd come to rely on a certain sense of security, borne of knowing that he'd be the #1 goalkeeper. Yes, there'd been blips on the radar. Lehmann. Almunia. Mannone. Fabianski. Ospina. Through it all, though, he'd known. Whatever the setback, however many howlers, the position was his as long as he didn't let it slip through his fingers, much like a keeper might let an actual ball slip...it was then, mid-simile, when he came to grips with reality. Those other men, they were journeymen, stewards at best, called upon only when he grew weary of the pressure of possessing so much potential. This, though, was different. This Petr Čech has been and is still a rock on which one can build. With that in mind, Wojciech approached the man.

29 June 2015

Jilted by Schneiderlin, who can shield Arsenal from further heartbreak?

We another guest-author today, Jonathan Roberts, who offers his analysis of whom we might turn to now that it looks like Schneiderlin has slipped away. Whether Arsène dithered or decided against him is beside the point for now, Roberts reminds us that there are still options. Take it away!

Back in February Arsenal legend Martin Keown made the somewhat staggering claim “Arsenal do not need a new defensive midfielder”. To put it simply, he’s wrong. Yes, Coquelin has been a revelation, but he needs cover. The squad needs greater depth in that area. This would help the more expressive players to have greater freedom. After the signing of Özil, I remember reading a blog by Sam Tighe on how it would revolutionise Wenger’s plans and tactics. It seems that without more defensive midfield cover I can’t see how this would happen. Here then is a list of defensive midfield candidates and why Arsenal should—or should not—sign...

Arturo Vidal, a Gunner for £21m?

Kondogbia goes to Inter. Schneiderlin goes to Man U. What is it with these central midfielders trading down the table? In Kondogbia's case, he's traded AS Monaco's Champions League qualifier for Inter's eighth-place finish. In Schneiderlin's case, he's traded Southampton's irrepressible resilience and passed on Arsenal's Champions League ambitions for Man U's Champions League qualifier. Yes, I understand that wages matter, and that these players have a precious decade or so during which they have to maximize their earnings. However, when players of this calibre are looking at earning more in a week than most of us earn in a year, they can perhaps afford to bear a little skepticism on our parts. Isn't there anyone out there who's willing to trade down the table and trade up on prospects? I introduce to you one Arturo Vidal.

28 June 2015

Dear Morgan Schneiderlin: Get bent.

Dear M. Schneiderlin—
Apparently, you just don't get it. French defensive midfielders are *supposed* to come to Arsenal. Don't you want to be Vieira's heir? We were willing to overlook the, uh, *superficial* differences between the two of you because you are, after all, French as well as from Southampton. We were willing to compromise. You give a little, you get a little. But no. instead of making this relationship work, it appears you've jilted us for a "better" offer from Manchester United. Manchester United? They of the three managers in two seasons? A negative transfer balance over the last five years of close £300m? Morgan, they spent £171m on transfers just last summer and could barely manage to finish fourth—in a season without Champions League. Speaking of seasons without Champions League...