I do ok for a living, but I must say, nothing gives me more joy than raiding reduced food aisle in Waitrose. Landing a prawn salad for thirty nine pence when I've got a £20 note sitting in my pocket feels like a victory against the man.
Arsene Wenger is like me. He's got £100million sitting in his pocket, but he's not interested in shopping in the proven aisle, he'd much prefer to take a chance in the reduced section with a player that might represent some supreme value. How can I not respect this approach when I have the same vision when it comes to sustaining my body?
Problem is, I'll buy anything with a yellow sticker on it, now sometimes that works out, I mean, who knew what a culinary sensation fresh veal escalopes at £2.68 could be (Sagna)? Other times though, things have gone horrifically wrong in my desperation for a bargain. Only recently, I purchased pig kidneys, I whacked them in the frying pan without soaking them in salt water to remove the unwanted bits, within 2 minutes my house smelt like a pig urinal and the taste of those kidneys still haunts me to this day (even though I knew it was potentially dangerous, I slogged away and tried to convince myself this bargain would work out (ring any bells?)).
You see, a bargain is a good idea when you have nothing to lose. However, when you're cooking for your job, you'd best ensure that whatever you're purchasing has the best chance of tasting good.
This guy is 26 years old, he hasn't scored many goals and he's not been tested at the highest level. Matt Spiro (@Mattspiro), a France based journo / commentator, has told me that he's a good all round striker, he can head well, he's very two footed and he has good technique. The overall feeling though is that he's an underwhelming signing, even Lille were signing him as a back up. This isn't first choice for us by the looks of it. Joel Campbell has been deemed a not so special talent and he could find his way into the Lille squad as a result.
People keep telling me I don't like him because he's not a £20million striker. Well, that's not fair. I haven't said I don't like him. But Arsenal fans have got to stop getting excited by a player because he's cheap. I generally judge a players quality on goals, assists, Champions League experience, trophies and pedigree. Now, I'm not saying this guy isn't the one. He might be. But surely we should be looking at someone a bit more prestigious considering 1) We already have a striker who is good for 15 goals a season, who is an international, who is experienced and proven to a degree in the Premiership, who is 3 years younger (Who should be gone by next week now apparently) 2) Robin is only good for 30 games, whoever comes in should be equal to Robin's quality if we want to progress.
I can paint any picture here I like, I haven't seen him. However, I'd like to point out that we've gone from sniffing around Benzema and Tevez, to signing a player even the most ardent French Footballing Ambassador struggles to muster up 3 lines about.
Maybe he'll come good. Maybe he won't. Whichever way you look at it, he represents a risk.... and don't kid yourself this is low risk because it's a low fee. The cost of missing out on top 4 this year is roughly £25million and the potential loss of three of our best players who we'd have to sell as they wouldn't re-sign.
The stakes have never been higher. Still, one thing you can guarantee with a Korean is that they will work till collapse for the team. He's also the captain of South Korea and if he can score 12 goals for a relegated team, the chances are, he'll definitely score 56 for us.
Many are speculating that we've blown our chance to sign Eden Hazard by gazumping them for Chu-Young. I'm pretty sure that's not the case. The Korean is worth £3million, Hazard is potentially worth £26million plus. If we want the Belgian, we could have him. I don't understand why we wouldn't be interested in him for that fee. He's clearly top-notch, he'll likely go on to be one of the best. Dithering over price is what cost us Mata... a player who is clearly going to take the league by storm. I hope we don't make the same mistake with Hazard. We need a talented creator, he's one of the few available that we know we've got a solid interest in. Plus, Lille are a tiny club moving to a new stadium, even Arsenal had to sell their biggest players when we left Highbury.
That said, this is not the midfielder I was tentatively told we were going in strong for, though the word a a week or so a go was that we'd bid for him before month end...
It does strike me that the only market we're interested in purchasing from is the French League. We've always spoken of the need to save for a rainy day, right now, as far as the squad is concerned, it's pouring. Now, we've got £100million sitting in the bank, the rest of Europe is in dire financial straits and we're not focusing our attention in any place other than Ligue 1? Arguably 4th or 5th when it comes to strength.
There surely must be some skint Spanish or Italian teams who have top players? Surely there is a left back or a decent holding midfielder out there who could do a job for us? Spain have the most technically accomplished players in the world, why aren't we sniffing around their senior teams for first team players? Makes no sense... we saved for the day financial Armageddon came, now it's here, we're not taking advantage?
So a massive whopper of a game today. Some say the biggest game since Premiership was created, others say just a big game because if we lose it, we'll be severely off track in the league before its even got going.
The line up for tomorrow is looking more desperate than ever. I'm yet to hear if Vermaelen is fit for the game, there's been no confirmation either way, news leaked to Young-guns that Sagna is ill, so that potentially means we'll have Traore, Jenkinson, Kozzer and JD at the back. Then there's the midfield. Now, if Tommy V is fit, we could move Kozzer into the holding role. That would give me some comfort, he's fast, good on the ball and aggressive. However, if that isn't a goer, you face the choice of Henri Lansbury who isn't a holding midfielder or Coquelin who is greener than Arsenal's pitch. Rosicky played well the other day and Rambo is a talented young player, but we're playing a proper team today. Turning them over is a massive ask. Our midfield and defence could be in crisis...
Up top, the team picks itself, Robin, Theo and Arshavin. Outside of that, we have the weakest bench I can remember. AOC, Miyachi, Coquelin, Chamakh, Oyakzup, Bendtner and Fabianski. How have we got to this stage? It's unbelievable. I'm having a face palm moment before we've even started.
Still, today is about miracles and proving people wrong. If we put the United keeper under pressure and work hard, you never know what could happen. United won't play to our strengths in the same way Udinese did. Expect them to bully us with the absence of any strength and expect them to bomb our box with crosses. We have to be sharp from the off, we have to work our socks off. If we do that, anything is possible. We don't have a strong line up today, I do hope the coach has factored that into our tactics. I don't think I'm the only one that thinks 'just play your game' on the white board will be enough.
I'm nervous but excited to see what the game throws up. If it goes tits up, we've got time to bring in players, if it goes well, maybe we don't quite need 6 players to compete.
Put your predictions on a postcard and sign it faith!
See you in the comments...
P.S. So much for Fergie being nice...
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