Welcome to 2013... the Mayans said this year would never come, what do they know eh? We took on the calendar and demanded another year. Well played world, well played.
So, football. What have we today bar an absolutely atrocious hangover and a shed load of bo*locks chatting shame from the night previous?
Well, we've got the hilarious news that French President Hollande is pushing for a 75% tax on top earners. Honestly, can you think of a more ridiculous policy? Such a crowd pleaser in any country.
'Ahhh, the rich are bastards, lets tax them the most because they owe the rest of society'
Good luck with that one France. I'm not sure how many countries in the world thrive from punishing the rich, but I'm pretty sure that unfair taxation isn't the way to go. From a footballing perspective, it's certainly not going to help Ligue One kick on. In fact, it could easily bankrupt clubs if they're forced to take care of their players tax. Gabriel Marcotti reckons the hike in tax, if pushed through, will increase PSGs wage bill 50%. For Ibrahimovic to take home the same as he is now, they'll need to pay him a whopping €825,000 a week! Wow...
Still, bad taxation laws certainly present an opportunity. Any player based in France this summer with a half decent agent will be looking to move to a country that won't hammer their stars wages. Time to start putting the feelers out Arsenal... PSG are loaded with great players as are a number of other clubs like Marseille and Lyon. I think the rumour was that our top tax rate was going to come back down next year? So again, the UK becomes more attractive to free spending footballers and French businesses looking to move over.
In other, more mega LOLZ news, Alex Song has been voted the second worst signing of the summer by Spanish paper Marca.
'Barcelona paid 19 million euros for the Cameroonian to solve their problems in midfield and to help out in the centre of defense. So far, he's helped neither one thing nor the other.'
A big fat ouch... how humiliating. The last person I remember winning that award was Alex Hleb. Where's he playing now? Totally hilarious. Geoff will love that. I love that as well. When he was at Arsenal, over the last year, he was reportedly quite an obnoxious guy to be around. Apparently he'd regularly make reference to the clubs he could be playing for, he also disrespected the clubs fining policy (for being late for training etc). His ego clearly inflated by his entourage and agent. Well, now what does he have? A place on the bench every week... when he's not hanging out there, he's playing as a centre back. Bad times. Being a bit part player in a great team surely can't be that satisfying if you're a man of any ambition?
News of an Adrian Lopez bid has hit the newsfeeds. Now, I don't know the veracity of the story, however, that name has been mentioned a few times and I think it might just have legs. He fits the bill in so many ways. Firstly, his contract is up at the end of the season, so we'll get him on a very good deal. He's only 24, which is young enough to improve, but old enough to be classed as experienced. He's also quite out of favour. Wenger used to love picking off talented players who'd lost their way. The fact he's going after Lopez in this way excites me, you're talking about a very talented player if he comes good. Things haven't really worked out this season. He's often used on the wing because let's be honest, who's going to get in the team ahead of Falcao? He's only managed 4 goals in 18 appearances... last year he did pretty well, especially in the Europa cup in which he managed 10 goals in 15 appearances... which ultimately led Athletico to the final. His total stood at 23 in 49 games... he doesn't suffer fitness problems.
The other reason he makes 'Arsene sense' over Demba Ba is that he'll come in for less than £100k a week. He'll have a fully working set of knees and he can play outwide and through the middle. Essentially, by signing Lopez, you're giving Theo every opportunity to stay on in the middle. Demba Ba would probably stifle that ambition. Wenger is opting for versatility over specialism, which rarely seems to work out, but there you go. Michu came from Spain last year with a similar goal scoring record, look how he turned out...
From what I've seen of him, he has great feet and superb control. He looks like he has a burst of pace, though far from electric. Considering what Wenger said about Ba being similar to Giroud, I'm surprised he's looking at Lopez as he also looks very similar to the Frenchman. For a Spaniard, he's very good with his head and he certainly has the ability to sniff out the second ball in the box. All in all, I'd welcome him...
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There's a nice interview with Santi Cazorla on Arsenal.com.
"But I think that with Arsenal, I was offered an opportunity that I could not turn down, being 27 years old [at the time], it was like a train that I had to take, and I am very satisfied.
"I am learning a lot, I am adapting more and more as days go by, and my aim is to learn the English game, and hopefully I will spend some good years at this club.
"I really enjoy the league, the atmosphere at the stadiums, the respect of the people, their kindness, it is incredible.
"Regarding the collective, we have dropped some points, and we hope that from now on we can all improve. That is what we all want, to see Arsenal further up the table.
"It has been a positive year for me. It is true that there are always ups and downs throughout the year, that is normal, but if I look everything that I have achieved, everything that I have experienced, I am very satisfied.
"I have achieved great things, I am still growing as a football player, and for next year I will aim for more of the same, to be successful with Arsenal, and to continue learning and growing every day."
What shines through from that interview? When you hit 27, you're generally entering your best years as a player. Arsenal don't pick up enough players around the age where they're looking to settle. Cazorla isn't going to push for a move in the next few years unless things go really badly. That gives Arsenal an element of stability there. If we can add more players like him in January and start building a team we can rely on being together for more than a season, maybe we can start to actually progress rather than slowly regress.
Today we have a game against Southampton away, it'll be a 1730 kick off, so plenty of time for people to get some sleep in!
Team news looks pretty positive. No Diaby, as ever, but bar that, we've a full squad to choose from. I personally can't see the boss making many changes from the team he put out against Newcastle. That Boxing Day rest has meant we don't need to rotate, which is always a good thing. Southampton shouldn't be taken lightly, they've given plenty of good sides headaches this season. Things aren't really rubbing the way of Nigel Adkins teams and hopefully they won't tomorrow. That all depends on who turns up. It's Arsenal roulette. If the team fancy it, we could end up dishing out another mauling. If the team don't fancy it because Southampton are a side you could easily take a complacent attitude against, then we'll struggle and probably concede a couple of goals.
For me, I'd like to see an attacking perfromance as adventurous and bold as the one against Newcastle, combined with an early season resolute defensive display. Is that too much to ask for? A clean sheet and 7 goals? Maybe. A win is all that really matters. We need to continue to build on the sequence of winning games we're putting together. It's obviously a special game for Theo Walcott and Alex Chamberlain. Hopefully those two can show Luke Shaw what life could be like. Half of me wants him to get ripped a new one... the shame of that will be that we'll all be put off if that happens! Ahhh... what a conundrum!
Anwyay, I'm sure it'll be an exciting game whatever happens.
2013 eh? We're deeply excited about writing another 365 posts for you... from what I can see, we're the only daily Arsenal blog that attends the games, goes to the AGMs and makes most of the supporter group meetings. Tune in for more of the same this year!
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