Showing posts with label Wayne Rooney. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Wayne Rooney. Show all posts

22 October 2017

Everton 2-5 Arsenal—Vote for Player Ratings/MOTM!

Arch-nemesis Wayne Rooney scored just 12 minutes in—his 15th against Arsenal, most against any club—and it was starting to feel like we'd again dominate possession and pass it about without ever really finishing a sequence. All of our shots, it seemed, were straight at Pickford, until, finally, Nacho Monreal lashed in a rebound from close range. This seemed to take the air out of Koeman's side, and shortly after halftime, Alexis found Özil gliding into the box. After having created a half-dozen chances for others, Özil glanced his header past Pickford to make it 1-2. Referee Craig Pawson finally saw fit to send Gana off after a series of late tackles, and that's where the wheels came off. Lacazette and Ramsey scored nifty goals to just about kill it off. A sloppy late goal for Everton offered small consolation for the hosts, but Alexis sliced one more in to leave no doubt. Let's get down to the poll!

24 February 2016

Let's all laugh at "Vanchester" (just do it sotto voce)!

Let's put the Barcelona fiasco behind us, shall we, and turn to a subject that should offer us a bit of entertainment: Manchester United. Watching them these last few seasons has been like watching a pregnant turtle on its back, legs wiggling ever so slowly in a vain attempt to right itself. Still, the turtle is after all pregnant, so one must watch warily. In the precious few days between now and Sunday's trip to Old Trafford, anything can happen. Despite several summers of astronomical spending, however, our erstwhile rivals are clinging rather desperately to a top-four position. They're six points adrift of their Mancunian counterparts with Southampton, West Ham and even Liverpool nipping at their heels. It's enough to make one laugh. Not one of those deep belly-laughs—not yet.

23 August 2015

Simply put, Giroud is the most essential striker in the Prem...

I won't waste your time claiming that he's the best striker in the Prem, because, clearly, he's not. There are others who score more goals than he does. There are others who are more graceful than he is. Heck, there are some who might be sexier than he is. However, among the many pretenders to the throne, I don't think it's a huge stretch to suggest that none of them is as essential to his club's performance as Giroud is to Arsenal. If you scoff, witness how much Arsenal struggled in his absence in the early going of the 2014-15 campaign.

16 May 2015

Picking over the Man U carcass, or, kicking a club while it's down...

A season that once felt brimming with promise and potential just one week ago now seems to have gone off the rails—and yet we still sit in third place, behind two of the heaviest-spending clubs in Prem and ahead of another. So why the gloom and doom? A week ago, we knew that three wins and a draw would secure second place. Swansea didn’t get the memo. Or maybe they did. At any rate, we now go into the belly of a beast hoping to catch lightning in a bottle a second time.

Somewhere in there is a warning, something about lightning never striking twice in the same spot, but I don’t think it quite applies here. Even if Man U are eager to qualify for a Champions League spot, they’ve looked more than a bit wobbly in their last four or five outings, needing a generous penalty to slink out of Selhurst Park last weekend in order to end a three-game losing streak. Making matters worse for them, Wayne Rooney limped off at halftime and might join Michael Carrick and Rafael on the injured list, as might Shaw, Rojo, and van Persie. The absence of that last one might prove to be a blessing more to Man U than to us as it deprives us of a spite-laden motivational target while liberating Man U’s offense from his fading skills and me-first attitude.  More-pertinent might be the absence of Michael Carrick who, despite his age, has been a crucial if overlooked cog in Man U’s play. Without him, there’s frequently a lack of form or structure to the defense that we might be able to exploit.

The loss to Swansea might have been a kick in the teeth, but it might be also be the kick in the arse we need to go into Old Trafford with intensity rather than complacency. We’d been riding high, and although I’m not a fan of the idea that a team needs to lose in order to refocus, I’d trade a loss to Swansea for a win over Man U nine times out of ten. Our lads have got to be angry at the chance they’ve squandered—finishing second now depends on Man City dropping points—and this bodes well for invading Old Trafford. The last time we were there, of course, we won in stunning fashion to earn a place in the FA Cup semi-final. Winning this time through would confirm third place in the Prem while keeping the heat on Man City as well. They have to visit Swansea and host Southampton, neither one an easy task.

For all of the hand-wringing of the previous week, we could very well emerge feeling quite good. Despite their win last weekend, Man U look vulnerable, and we could deliver a knock-out punch on Sunday. Liverpool's loss to Crystal Palace allows Man U to back their way into that fourth place finish; whether this saps their desire for the third-place fight is another question. Should we win or draw, we'll have thrid place sewn up; even if Man U win, we could still finish above them by taking four points from our remaining two matches—not that I see us needing to. They spent 150m on transfer fees this summer and were unburdened of any continental commitments, yet they'll finish fourth thanks more to the ineptitude of others than to their own efforts. Yes, they'll qualify for Champions League play, but it's hard to feel like this squad will remain intact. If we can nab the win, we can exacerbate the exodus all the more.

Man U 1-2 Arsenal (09.03.2015)
Arsenal 1-2 Man U (22.11.2014)
Arsenal 0-0 Man U (12.02.2014)

The two clubs first met on 13 October 1894, a 3-3 draw between Newton Heath and Woolwich Arsenal.
Arsenal have won their last five away-matches in the Prem.
Arsenal haven’t won a Prem match at Old Trafford since 17 September 2006.

Oxlade-Chamberlain, Debuchy, and Arteta have been ruled out, while Welbeck and Ramsey face late fitness tests.

Ospina; Monreal, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Bellerin; Coquelin, Cazorla; Alexis, Özil, Walcott; Giroud.

This one has the looks of another barn-burner, but the Gunners should find a way past de Gea in order to steal three points.

PREDICTION Man U 1-2 Arsenal.

This preview first appeared at Goonersphere and reappears by permission.

They're droppin' like flies rather than facing the Arsenal...

In the buildup to the dust-up at Old Trafford, one trend stands out: there's no one worth his salt who really wants to play against Arsenal on Sunday. Between injuries and transfer-rumours, it seems that anyone worth his salt is finding a way to eschew what could be a vital clash between clubs seeking to qualify for a Champions League spot. Man U need a win on Sunday if they expect to stay in the running; a loss or draw would essentially relegate them to fourth place, meaning that they'd have to endure a two-leg qualifier to get in, much as Arsenal have time and time again. With that in mind, one might expect an "all hands on deck" attitude from Van Gaal's outfit. Instead, however, it looks like Wayne Rooney and Luke Shaw will join Michael Carrick and Rafael among the walking wounded, with Robin van Persie and Marcus Rojo coming up lame as well. It's almost as if the entire squad has up and quit on the season. Fine by me.

I know what you're thinking: surely, the absence of Rooney frees up van Persie or Falcao to run amok. After all, they've each had their moments against us, haven't they, and when one of them falters, the other steps up? However, the ugly fact is that neither van Persie nor Falcao has justified his price-tag of late. Falcao hasn't scored in 560 minutes of play, and van Persie hasn't scored against anyone worth scoring against in 931 minutes (with apologies to Burnley, Leicester, and Newcastle, against whom he has scored). The potential absence of Rooney would seem like handing the car keys of a Porsche to a teenager—except van Persie and Falcao are looking more and more geriatric and brittle week by week. There was a time when those names inspired fear, respect, even awe—but those days are long-gone. Of course, there is still a possibility that one or both could deliver a stunning goal, but that's starting to feel like the exception rather than the rule.

The absence of Carrick might matter more than that of Rooney; the cagey 33-year-old has been instrumental to Man U's stability, shielding an oft-shifting backline and shuttling the ball forward to the more-creative types. His absence denies Van Gaal a vital player in the middle of the pitch. Of course, it's not as if Man U are bereft of options. After Rooney and van Persie, there are still threats to consider such as Juan Mata,  Marouane Fellaini, and Angel Di Maria. Then again, that last one hasn't started a match since being sent off against Arsenal in the FA Cup quarter-final and hasn't scored a goal since the first week of January (against Yeovil, for those curious). We'll still have to contend with Fellaini's elbows and Young's dives, but it's starting to feel like this is a Man U that is sinking rather than rising.

Add in the all-but-confirmed rumours of David de Gea's summer-move to Real Madrid, and it does feel like our erstwhile rivals are clutching at straws—if only they had a world-class keeper who could bail them out, again and again and again, and again and again and Gea has almost single-handedly kept his club in contention (by "almost single-handedly", I refer to the fact that the man has frequently used two hands while also being the only one staving off ignominious failure). If it proves true that de Gea does jump ship, we might be witnessing the slow sinking of a once-proud club, one that spent £150m on transfer-fees last summer only to flounder its way to fourth place, thanks in large part to the ineptitude of other clubs (Liverpool and Tottenham, to name two) rather than its own, um "eptitude."

Man U were supposed to ride a perfect storm of circumstances—Van Gaal's hiring, that £150m in transfer-fees, a campaign free of continental commitment—straight towards the top of the Prem. It hasn't quite played out that way, and Arsenal have a chance to take Man U down yet another peg, again at Old Trafford, suggesting if not proving that there's something to be said for a degree of stability and fiscal sanity. If Arsenal can go into Old Trafford and win for the second time in as many tries, we'll have secured a third-place finish, qualifying outright for Champions League play, while Man U will feel lucky indeed to have finished fourth. Who knows how many rats will desert a ship that hasn't quite sunk but that has certainly failed to float?

12 October 2014

Wilshere and Rooney debate the Three Lions' performance

TALINN, Estonia—It was a tense but relieved dressing room after England had finally found a way to break down and defeat a determined Estonia side to make it three wins in as many tries to stay atop Group E. Despite England's clear superiority on paper, it took a 73rd minute free-kick from captain Wayne Rooney to secure the three points. As the lads prepared for the flight home, the grizzled veteran basked in a victory he had done so much to earn. Sure, some might ask, with England still nearly two years away from competing in Euro 2016 and the 2016 Olympics and four years away from the next World Cup, why is a 28-year old still captaining a squad so full of younger, hungrier talents? There would be time to ponder such questions later. At the moment, it is time to bask in the win. Just as that thought eased Rooney's mind, one of the younger upstarts made his way over: Wilshere.

12 September 2014

Welbeck tries to figure out Van Gaal's thinking...

Having been snubbed once in his youth by Man City, Danny Welbeck was thrilled to get snapped up in short order by their rivals, Man U. Having grown up with the club, then, he was naturally a bit disappointed when he became surplus to their needs. Despite a stable of ageing, increasingly injury-prone and sulking scorers in Rooney and van Persie, Welbeck, who had started to see himself as the face of Man U's future, was instead shunted aside when the club brought in yet another ageing, injury-prone scorer, further blocking his progression and development as a player for the club he had grown to love. However, he realised and rationalised to himself that this is modern football—no room for such sentimentality, for it is a cold, hard business. It was then that he read Van Gaal's assessment of him...

08 July 2013

This kugelsortierer sorts Arsenal's ambitions

As we wring our hands and twiddle our thumbs and chew our nails, wondering who, if anyone, we'll be signing, I thought it would be worth taking stock and assessing the bigger picture. What does this all mean? Arsenal, after all, has managed to balance its books, more or less, over the last decade only to see other clubs vacuum up talent (all too frequently, talent we have nurtured). However, the dilemma exists at a deeper level. I struggled to find a suitable symbol for it and finally stumbled on it in the form of a Dutch ball-bearing sorter, Keppler's Kugelsortierer. It's similar to a child's piggy-bank that will sort coins by sending coins down a chute lined with slots so that the slimmest, smallest coins slot out first and the largest ones roll down to the end. The Kugelsortierer ("ball grader") does the same with bearings; bearings with the smallest diameter fall through a matching hole near the top, the next-largest rolls a little farther before falling through the next-largest hole, and so on.

You can see the contraption there, and you're probably starting to sense its relevance to the transfer-window. To make it clear, each ball-bearing represents a player, each slot and chamber represents one club or another, and the sorter itself is the transfer-market. With a sense of grim inevitability, especially for those smaller clubs, the transfer-window remorselessly sorts players according to the clubs to which they apparently belong. Should a player grow to be too big for his club, the sorter sends him further down the line. Should a club's ambitions shrink, its players will be re-sorted accordingly. Of course, for those to the left of the sorter, this all works out just fine as the biggest and best players find their way to their destination. The end-result is that each league will end up with a small handful of powerful clubs and a larger assortment of hopefuls.

However, the system is not without its hiccups. Occasionally, a bearing will roll past its intended hole and end up at a too-large club. Conversely, a bearing will get stuck in a too-small club. Perhaps Fernando Torres is an example of the former; he might have been better-off at Liverpool over Chelsea. Maybe Gareth Bale is an example of the latter; a player who may have ended up at a club he is too 'big' for.

It's a larger problem for the smaller clubs, whether they're facing relegation in the Prem for fighting to win the Eredivisie; they'll lose their best players to larger clubs. It's inevitable. Heck, we took Giroud from Montpellier, a huge factor in them tumbling from first place in 2012 to ninth in 2013. Much as we lament the loss of various players to other clubs, we do have to admit that we inflict similar pain on other, smaller, clubs.

As we've discussed, Arsene considered signing Bale in 2007. Maybe this would have been an example of the kugelsortierer doing its job. Bale has arguably outgrown Spurs and is ready for somewhere bigger. Perhaps he should've come to Arsenal. Over the last five years, if not longer, Arsenal has been guilty of letting itself be that club that lets the larger ball-bearings roll past to end up in bigger slots. Van Persie. Fabregas. Cole. We won't even indulge in the list of players we've "almost" signed. The question that then arises is, under the current system, how does Arsenal see itself? Where do we lie on the kugelsortierer? Sure, we were once at the very-left end and deservedly so. How far to the right, though, have we slid?

Back in January, I would have said we'd slid pretty far. Being linked with the likes of David Villa, a 31-year old coming off of a broken leg, suggested that we saw ourselves as a club with modest ambitions with talk of fourth place as a trophy. Now, however, we seem to be moving to the left. Our pursuit of Higuain, a prolific scorer for the world's largest club (financially, at least), suggests that we have our sights set on goals that are larger than a fourth-place finish or finishing above Spurs. The idea that we're seriously linked with Rooney further suggests that we're eyeing a return to our days of glory and have outgrown our current stasis.

However, the larger problem still persists. Under the current system, a "small" club's reward for success is to see its best players leave. Whether it's Aston Villa's Christian Benteke or Spurs' Gareth Bale (or Arsenal's Robin van Persie?), the current system will send the best players to the biggest clubs. The rich get richer; the poor get the picture. Whether FFP has the teeth to address this remains to be seen.

On one hand, I am excited at our activity in this summer's transfer-window. I would lovelovelovelovelove to see Higuain join us and would lose my mind if Rooney does the same. On the other, I look forward to a system, perhaps under FFP, that would bring about a bit of parity through which clubs, regardless of size, can keep their best. It might be a little self-serving, but we've already proven that we can live within our means and win, falling behind only those who live beyond theirs. In other words, once the kugelsortierer is level rather than pitched, Arsenal might just end up as the club best-positioned to win the Prem.

Say what you will about our signings and ambitions over the last few years—we're looking lively in the transfer-market for the first time in ages. Not only are we looking to maximize our position under the current system, we're positioning ourselves astutely for the restrictions to come.

If you've enjoyed what you've read here, please consider voting for Woolwich 1886 in the YAMAs 2013 survey; we're nominated in question #3 as a "Best New Arsenal Blog." Click here to get to the survey. Thanks!

07 July 2013

Transfer updates: Higuain, Fellaini, Rooney, Suarez. Oh yeah, and Cesar.

Another week has passed without any noticeable movement around key players. There's been some talk of a £30m bid for Luis Suarez, which I flat-out wish I could veto. The man's a time-bomb waiting to go off. Yes, he scored more than a few goals, but scoring hasn't necessarily been a problem for us. If we are set to sign Higuain (as I believe we are), I think any bid we did or did not make is more about the poker game between us and Real than it is about actually landing Suarez. After all, the toothy Uruguayan says he wants away from the British press. Shame on them, after all, for noticing his transgressions. Does he really want to come to London proper to escape the scrutiny? More to the point, do we want to splurge that kind of cash on a guy who will miss six games after biting Ivanovic and who is one missed snack-time away from biting someone else? Happily, his move barely registers at transfermarkt or the betting sites, so we can dismiss that for now.

Instead, we can turn our attention to other, more likely and more interesting targets. Despite reports that our pursuit of Higuain has hit a snag, with Real Madrid now insisting on something closer to £30m (a figure I've actually suggested is closer to his market-value), it looks like Higuain will finally and truly be a Gunner. If this doesn't happen by week's end, however, I cannot be held legally responsible for my actions.

So Real wants to extract maximum value for Higuain. Fine. He's under contract until 2016, so that gives them a bargaining chip. However, transfermarkt has continued to upgrade the chances of his move to Arsenal from 75% a week ago to 80% today (Sunday). Sanogo was at 93% when Arsenal announced his signing, so we draw ever nearer. I'm not sure what the point of no return is—the magic percentage that marks a confirmed signing—but I don't feel I'm going too far out on a limb to suggest that we'll see something significant before the end of the week.

Julio Cesar has become a bit of a forgotten man even as the chances of his signing grew from 50% last week to 62% today, and odds went from 1/3 to 1/4 as news of Barcelona's interest came out. In other words, we could very well see his addition sooner rather than later. It's a shame that a treble-winning goalie's signing rates so much less attention than that of bizarrely-coiffed Belgians, even if that keeper is 33 years old. There's been little news of movement around Cesar, but his experience and skill and mentorship, as I've argued, could go a very long way in realizing the talent that Szczesny displays only in fits and starts.

In dimmer news, the likelihood of Fellaini joining Arsenal seem to have faded a bit as transfermarkt now only rates his signing at 33%, down from 40% a week ago. I'm not necessarily disappointed, having previously argued that we should approach this signing with caution. With the emergence of Aaron Ramsey and his partnership with Mikel "minifig" Arteta, I feel very comfortable about our defensive midfield and certainly don't feel that Fellaini would be an upgrade on our current batch of attacking midfielders: Cazorla, Walcott, Podolski, Wilshere, Rosicky. If we can nab him, great. If not, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

The buzz around Rooney continues to grow, although not enough to warrant me redoing my nifty little graphic. Transfermarkt rates the odds at only 22%, and the betting sites give us a narrow edge over Chelsea, giving us a 2/1 to Chelsea's 5/2. There's the rub. With noise over Rooney's potential departure getting louder, can we afford to let Chelsea get him? Should we pursue him more aggressively than I've suggested if only to keep him from Mourinho? Other clubs, like PSG, Bayern Munich, and Real Madrid, are in play to varying degrees. but it's us and Chelsea who seem to have an inside track. I can't blame the man for potentially wanting to stay in England, but I would certainly prefer he do so with  Arsenal than with Chelsea.

To come 'round full-circle then, let's let that bid for Suarez stand as a shot across Real's bow: stand down on Higuain, or we throw down on Suarez, if only to get petty. Then, once that's done and over, we can turn around and pursue Rooney with greater force. The potential additions of Higuain, Rooney, and Cesar would certainly meet if not exceed my call for two or three signings. Assuming we do land these three, the question then becomes: is this enough? Will those signings re-establish us as legitimate contenders in the Prem (and the Champions League)? Offer your thoughts in the comments section below.

Last but not least, Monday marks the final day of voting in the YAMAs 2013 Best of... Awards. Woolwich 1886 is nominated as a "Best New Arsenal Blog", and I hope you'll cast your ballot for me in question #3. Click here to get to the survey—there are seven questions, so it should only take a minute or so. Thanks!

06 July 2013

"Gooner Rooney"? I don't know...

Look. I know that I might sound a little off my rocker for continuing to resist a move for Wayne Rooney. Given his tense history with David Moyes—one that includes Moyes suing Rooney for libel and getting a settlement of as much as £150k—a move away from Old Trafford seems more than likely for Wazza. However, I"m still not sure we at Arsenal should work very hard (or spend very much) to get him. In an exchange I had in another forum, I learned that he's not quite the prima donna or negative influence I had assumed him to be. In an interview earlier this week, Jack Wilshere said it would be "amazing" to have Rooney at Ashburton Grove. I'm going to have to go ahead and accept that at face-value—Jack has played with Rooney for the Three Lions and knows of what he speaks. It's not like he was posed a direct question along the lines of "should Arsenal sign Rooney?" In the interview, ESPN's David Hirshey says "rumor has it you might be joined by one more [British player]" and shows Rooney's autobiography to Jack. In other words, Jack was under no pressure to say more than was necessary, but he went on to say, "he puts his arm around you and looks after you."

a scene to be seen in the red-and-white next year?
So it seems I was wrong. It certainly isn't the first time. I've gotten used to it, in fact.

At any rate, there's been a good amount of talk, whether it's Gazidis saying "of course we could [sign Rooney]" or Wenger saying "who could turn [Rooney] down?" We've apparently launched a £20m bid for him, a figure I could certainly live with and not just because I still cling to the quaint idea that one shouldn't spend more than one has. Even if his eventual fee climbs to £25m or even £30m, I can live with it. After all, we are talking about one of England's best players and the Prem's 6th all-time leading scorer. At 27, he probably still has a few quality seasons in him. Does he have enough to be a 20-to-25 goal-scorer? Again, probably.

However, I'm still on the fence. I look at our squad, and here's what I see: Walcott, on the verge of 20 to 25 league goals. Cazorla, ready to build on his 12 Prem league goals. Podolski, with 11 league goals in spot-appearances. Giroud, with 11 league goals and ready for more. By and large, scoring hasn't been a problem, although we have been guilty of goal-orgies and periods of asceticism. We'd do well to spread our goals out a bit. We've already brought in Sanogo, scorer of four goals in seven appearances for France's U20 squad. He's a project, of course. On the other end, we have the impending signature of Gonzalo Higuain. He's hardly the proverbial bird in the hand, of course, but he'd likely go for 20 league goals in his first season. What I'm getting at is that, even without Rooney, we might go for 75 goals in Prem, if not more.

There is one argument I can admit in Rooney's favor: ferocity. Few in the Prem can match him in terms of pure desire. When he's engaged, there are few players more electrifying than Rooney. For as much as van Persie brings the bile to the back of my throat, I really can't stand how far backwards Ferguson bent to kiss his arse, so far, it seems, that he could kiss his own in the process. Seeing Rooney mope around as Fergie and van Persie's bro-mance blossomed was irritating; a diminished Rooney is a pain to behold. Say what you will against him shouting into the camera after his hat-trick over West Ham a few years back. There's a passion and an intensity there that, even if occasionally regrettable in its articulation, reveals a competitor who is irresistible.

If he can be had for under £30m, have 'em. Anything much above that, however, makes me worry. We have other needs to address, after all. I know we're flush and looking to spend, but would we be better served by moving for two or even three other players instead of this one?

Last but not least, this blog is up for a "Best New Arsenal Blog" in the YAMAs 2012-13 survey of best Arsenal blogs. Please consider voting for Woolwich 1886 in question #3. Thanks!

11 May 2013

Of two 27-year olds: Podolski and Rooney

There's been quite a bit of talk of Rooney leaving Man U, and just as much linking him with us. I'm not here to make any suggestions about its likelihood, only its desirability. At first blush, we would be mad to spurn a chance at signing one of football's most renowned attackers, especially at a time when we're looking to sharpen up our attack. With van Persie having all but taken over as top-dog at Man U, Rooney has appeared at times disengaged, marginalized, and out of sorts,and adding in the tensions between Rooney and Everton, we find ourselves entertaining serious talk of his departure (I won't delve into the the twitter account fiasco), whether it's to join PSG, us, or some other club.

No doubt about it, he's been one of the Prem's best for years now. He's at his best in a number of roles we need to sharpen up. Simply put, he has proven his ability to score and  to create chances for teammates to score. His numbers have dipped a bit this year from last year's 34 goals in 44 appearances in all competitions, making 16 in 34 seem a bit ho-hum, but a significant factor in that dip has been in the role he's been asked to play as van Persie has taken over the scoring load for Man U. However, even with this caveat, I'm not sure he's the man we need, at least not at the price we'd likely have to play. Depending on whom you ask, we might have to pay somewhere between £50,000,000 and £60,000,000 to secure his services.

That's a princely sum, and it would take a sharper mind than mine (or at least one less-addled by wine at this point in my evening) to determine how much of that derives from reputation versus future performance. At 27, he certainly has several good years of football in him, but we should swallow hard and ask ourselves if this is the player we need. Without equating the two, we do have an attacking left midfielder in Lukas Podolski, also 27, who has managed to find enough time on the pitch this year to tally 13 goals and 10 assists despite playing a full 90' in only six of 29 appearances (all competitions). He's done this in his first season in the Prem while hobbling along with an ankle injury. Again, he's not in Rooney's class, certainly not the Rooney of the last five years, but I would again suggest that the Rooney of the next five years may not be worth the asking price. If Podolski comes back from surgery or whatever other treatment is needed on that ankle, we might find in him a more sprightly and reliable player who can get us between 15 and 20 goals. Signed for £11 million, he represents a huge value, almost five times more so than Rooney. They've scored the same number of goals, and Podolski's done it at a fraction of the price. Would Rooney make Podolski expendable? Perhaps. more pointedly, what kind of impact would his presence on the pitch have on Cazorla or Walcott? Would he bring out their best or shoulder them aside? Walcott has started to show signs of growth in his first season not deferring to a more-famous striker; I'm afraid he might regress with his more-senior countryman as a teammate.

Of course, Rooney could come back next year rejuvenated at a move that restores him to his club's #1 scoring option and go on to score 40 goals, and I'll have to call up each and every Gunner to apologize for convincing the board not to sign him. If he was available at £25m or £30m, I might be more tempted to say we should go for it. We're looking at something twice that, and it's a move that might preclude us from making many more.

Some of Arsène's harshest critics lambaste him for bargain-shopping and for being afraid to make high-profile, impact-signings, so I would hate for him to sign Rooney as an answer to those critics. Even for as iconic as Rooney is and as lethal as he can be, I worry that he would take up too much mental space. We have a squad of young, talented, and (for all appearances) squeaky-clean players. I know that athletes have their personal lives and side-interests, but I would not want someone with a past as salacious as Rooney's skulking around. No disrespect. For all I know, Carl Jenkinson has habits that puts Tiger Woods to shame. However, absent any splashy headlines, I'm going to go on believing he, among all of our players, escort little old ladies across the street and rescue kittens stuck in trees in their free time, and drink nothing stronger than kiddie cocktails at parties while getting tucked in no later than 9pm.

No, then, I'm not drooling at the prospect of seeing Rooney come aboard. Let's use that £50m or so on two or three younger, hungrier players rather than putting all of  our eggs in Rooney's basket.