You know when a manager is struggling when he has to quantify thing that don't really have any tangible meaning.
Sorry Arsene? I'm not exactly sure what that's supposed to mean? Even when you dig into it, it's quite difficult to decipher the spin.
'I’ve had groups who had fantastic results [but] were less serious than these players, believe me,'
Errrr, still struggling here. Are we supposed to be grateful for this seriousness? How does it manifest itself? Perhaps it's gauged by training ground laughter levels?
'We prepare for games seriously. It was a cup game on an English December night in Bradford. You have to give Bradford credit.'
'Unfortunately we paid the price - they knocked Wigan out as well. That shows they have something and that they are difficult to beat.'
Oh dear. They knocked Wigan out? Wow. Cluctching. At. Straws.
I might log all of the crazy statements the manager has come out with over the past few season in his poor attempt at justifying his outdated and stubborn ways. We've had the 'best squad' comment two seasons running, we've had Eboue the 'pass master', we've had 'Barca are average without Messi' and we've had a stinging attack on Spain's possession football. Oh... and my absolute favourite was when Wenger said Theo was further ahead of Messi development wise at the age of 20.
The problem with these statements is the players read them. If you can't instill confidence in the fans, chances are, you won't in those guys. They're not reading those articles and thinking, 'jeez, he's right, we're really serious'. How we're performing at the moment has nothing to do with the seriousness of the players, it's all about the serious lack of attention to details we exhibit pre-game. Obviously there's other things that factor in. Low confidence, fatigue and tactics... but I honestly think the players are far better than the league position is showcasing.
In transfer news, there seem to be a lot of stories bubbling along.
Raheem Sterling is interesting Arsenal. He won't sign a new deal with Liverpool for £20,000 a week which has alerted us (he wants £50k). Liverpool don't want to pay a player who has achieved precisely zero in the game senior wages. I think that's fair. I'm not sure why we'd be interested in a player who clearly has zero values. He might look good, but so do plenty of 17 year olds. We're also interested in Luke Shaw, the Southampton left back. Who is also 17 years old.
The other winger who is courting interest is Nani of United. If we can match his £130k a week wage demands he's ours for about £20million. Again, I like him, he always does well against us... but you have to ask the question. Why doesn't Fergie fancy him? What's the deal behind the scenes?
I think Wenger is in such defensive mood at the moment, that it wouldn't surprise me if he didn't move for anyone in January. I like the noises that we're after Begovic, I think everyone saw what a good keeper he was before he moved to Stoke. I'm just not sure I can see the manager making things hard for our current under performing number one. He doesn't like competition.
He came out with some pretty churlish comments yesterday...
'Don’t worry — we will buy Lionel Messi in January and we will surprise you,’
Come on Arsene, no one is asking for Messi. We're just asking for players of a decent standard that come with pedigree.
‘If you look at the players who have started at Arsenal Football Club over the past 15 years there will be more than all the clubs put together in the Champions League. ‘I don’t know where you get your statistics from but you should check them.’
The above comment was in reference to the poor record of the academy, that has now been running 15 years. It perfectly demonstrates his lack of focus when it comes to what he should really be doing. Who cares if we've produced lots of professionals. When you're hoovering up the best talent from around the globe just as they're old enough to sign pro terms, you're bound to create careers.Who is that down to, Arsenal? Or the club we pinched the player from? Our youth production rate is something Geoff has raised countless times before.
He was also taken to town over Gervinho.
‘Gervinho is a good player, but I don’t want to get into individual assessments,’
‘You accuse us of not paying the wages, but then you accuse us of giving them the money they want.’
Wenger was keen to point out he cost us £8million. Terrific Arsene. It's like being taken out to a sh*te restaurant for your birthday.
'Don't worry Pete, it only cost me £14'
Gervinho is a poor player. I remember commenting before we signed him saying how glad I was that Newcastle were going to get him. Then he landed on Arsenal.com. He has pace, but clearly zero balance and a very low level of technical ability. Who looked at him and thought he'd be worth the punt when Eden Hazard was playing on the other wing? Who sat there watching all those Lille games and didn't notice Cabaye bossing the midfield. When negotiating a deal for Gervinho, why did no one ask how much that France international midfielder was worth?
It's not about the price for me. Anyone can collect an average group of players on the cheap. What Wenger has failed to do, which is something that's gone of for a while now, is pick out exceptional players on the cheap. When your knack for unearthing gems fails you, perhaps it's time to start spending a bit more on players who come with a bit more of a robust quality guarantee?
I saw that we're close to signing Jack onto a new, even longer term deal. No problem there. What I do take offence to is Aaron Ramsey getting the same treatment. Why are we giving a player who has been consistently poor a new deal? Isn't this the issue that's had us in trouble the past few seasons with deals that are just 'too good' to leave for?
Rewarding mediocrity. Buying love.
Two things that have plagued us for far too long. Would Aaron be getting a new deal at United? Highly doubtful. He wouldn't be playing and he'd be on half the salary he's picking up right now.
No Arsenal today, enjoy your weekend and indulge yourself by buying me a Christmas present. I like beer, Mila Kunis and season ticket renewals.
Remember to have a listen of yesterday's podcast with Phillipe Auclair if you missed it. Links below.