Finally... it happened... after writing about his impending signing, he's here, King Thierry is back, this time with an aggressive militant beard, slightly more humility... but still with the goals. Well, the latter is what we're still hoping for because that's an area of our game we're really having a problem with. We've become more solid as an outfit, we've kind of been creating chances, we just haven't had the tools to finish off teams in the clinical fashion we used to.
I'm still slightly hazed at the thought of the greatest player in Premiership history returning. I love him dearly, I still think he has something to offer, but in the back of my mind there is still that slight nag that says, 'the Premiership is fast, really fast, can he hack it?' The fanfare around him joining has been extraordinary. It's almost totally taken the focus off what we should really be doing and that's signing players who at least have a medium term future with us.
Still, Thierry is smitten...
“Arsenal and me has always been a love story, with some bad days. Hopefully people agree with me that there were more good days than bad, but I just love the Club.”
That type of love is infectious. When Sol Campbell came back to the team a couple of years ago, he showed the kids what it meant to play in an Arsenal shirt. When the chips are down for us, hopefully Thierry can lead the way.
The manager has come out again and admitted that a left back is still on the cards. He didn't say whether he was trialling that guy from Oman, hopefully he's not. There's also no mention of Richardson which seemed to come out as true last week when the rejection stories did the rounds. Wenger said that Thomas Vermaelen will be back after the Swansea game, that's gone out a game, hopefully we're not getting into looser return dates with the Belgian already.
We've also ruled ourselves out of the title race. Yeah, I know, things were all looking so damn good in the league, but Wenger has waved the white flag. No title for us this year.
'We are fighting very hard to get in the top four, and if we can, to do better. We have just come out of the Christmas period with seven points but it is not good enough to fight for the championship because we should have made 12.'
The problem with comments like that above is that they're becoming an all too familiar tale, we're almost getting used to not competing for the league. What will happen in the summer? Will he go out and give us a fighting chance by making some purposeful moves, or will he once again do the bare minimum and leave us all knowing the outcome of next season before it's started?
I wonder what impact this has on the players? Does it lead to complacency when your focus from the outset is not the ultimate prize? When I was at University, all you needed to pass the first year was 40% in each subject, how hard do you think I tried to achieve the best I could? How hard do you think 90% of the student population round me tried? Study... or get yourself into some seriously boozed up regretful debt?
I think elements of my student attitude shone through towards the end of last season... we were still in the race quite late, undeservedly you might argue and the boys weren't interested. Is that because in the back of their minds, they knew 4th was their 40% pass mark? Who knows... but I think the lack of ruthlessness of the manager has a direct impact on the culture amongst the players. Even if Fergie loses out on the League this year, you can bet your bottom dollar he'll be tearing that team apart in the summer if things haven't worked out. Will Arsene? Of course he won't...
Wenger voiced his concerns about the ACN and the negative impact it has on players. I still for the life of me can't understand why it has to be every two years. It smacks of greed to me and it's detrimental to players health. If they want to host it every two years, players should have a choice as to whether they have to play it, or the clubs should.
We're paying the wages for our players to come back broken every bi-annually. I don't think it's as simple as saying, 'don't sign African players', because they're some of the best in the League. The International scene is so out of kilter with the interests of the world. I do hope the clubs take FIFA on when there's an opportunity to do so. World Football as a whole should not be held accountable to a corrupt organisation the clubs could easily do without. International football should take a back seat to club football in my opinion.
It'd be interesting to read what African Gooners think about it?
The Daily Mail, fresh of the back of linking us to every player in Europe we're not going to sign are at it again, this time linking us with Suarez. Not the one with a penchant for pinching and liberally spraying the N word around the football pitch, oh no, I'm talking about the Argentinian Suarez nobody has been talking about this season despite scoring 14 goals in 24 appearances for Anderlecht. He's very quick on the ball with a pair of skillful feet to boot, he's obviously got an eye for goal and he'll probably come equipped with that Argentinian madness as standard. I'd love it if this rumour were true, it certainly has all the hallmarks of an old school Wenger signing, however, I can't help but think Thierry is the only movement we'll see up front this window.
Become an expert in Suarez like me...
Wenger is due to make a decision on Ryo Miyachi, the boy is back from injury and looking very sharp and dangerous in training, the coach is just unsure of how much game time he can give him. Reading between the lines, this sounds like a situation that could be determined by who we buy. If we bring in a foreign left back for three months, or a creative midfielder, he'll be shipped out so we fulfill our quotas (Update: My line reading is poor, he's under 21, so he doesn't need to be registered... back to the drawing board). If he lands an English player, he'll likely stay. I don't think it matters too much about inexperience outwide. It's one of the few areas you can be a relative novice and still make an impact.
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That's it! Enjoy FA Cup day without Arsenal!