Morning people, it's the 22nd of January, we're 22 points off the top and 19 off the bottom. Bad times all round. This hasn't been the January I'd dreamed of in December. We're 7 points away from Spurs and our game in hand is tomorrow night against West Ham. They're no push overs and Fat Sam is world class at sniffing out Arsenal moments of weakness. However, if we do the job and take the maximum points from the game, we'll be 4 points off Spurs. I'm not sure what the deal was this time last year, but I'm pretty sure we were further away from them than we are now... All this mind the gap nonsense I've been getting via text seems a bit ridiculous. If it was 10 points, I'd get it, but come on... Spurs aren't known for the their bottle through the home stretch and Arsenal are more than capable of putting in a strong finish.
According to the Daily Hill-wood, Arsene has held crisis talks with the team. Apparently he's asked for more leaders on the pitch. I'm not sure how you ask for that? It's not easy to interpret those instructions is it? Arsene Wenger shouldn't have to ask people to stand up and be counted. He should build a squad of players who are those leaders. For me, he should pick a captain that has the trust of the squad and the fans. I've not been told anything about Thomas Vermalen, but I've got to say, if I was being led by someone who was putting in poor performances on a regular basis, I think I'd feel a bit flat.
Whatever Wenger says about the captaincy lacking importance is totally wrong. You need a leader out on the pitch. For me, that should be Arteta. I know Jack is the guy who shows the most heart out on the pitch... but I think by giving him the armband, we're giving him too much too soon. He needs to earn the greatest honour on the planet, so when he gets it, he'll cherish it. Too many armband's have been dished out over the years as an emotional bribe. Sure, he'll get it one day, sure he has the ingredients to be one of the greatest, but let him develop first... let him make the mistakes he'll make... then when he's one of the best players in the league, hand it over to him. We all saw what the pressure of the captaincy did to Cesc, let's not make the same mistake twice.
The rumour mill has been going into overdrive. David Villa has reportedly told Barcelona he'd like to do one. So, that basically opens the door for Arsenal to walk in and snap up a deal. If we could get him for under £10m, he'd certainly give us a much needed option up top. I'm still not sure his size suits the league, but the simple fact is, his movement and world class finishing could really push us on. We haven't had a player who can convert half chances this season... that man can. What's the cost of dropping out of the Champions League? A lot... if he can kick us on, he'd be worth it even if we only had him for the rest of the season.
So, here's some sleuthing... Valencia have defaulted on an £65m loan. Who's the guarantor on that loan? The local government of course! So basically, the council are running the club. Now, here's the thing people... Spain are broke. I mean, seriously broke. So here is what I'm thinking... their best players are there for the taking. I don't watch a lot of Spanish football, so I put it out to Twitter yesterday and their two best players are 1) Banega, who after much research looks like a tough central midfielder with and eye for a pass, a mazy run and the odd goal. He's 24 and he's a central midfielder, he looks in the same mould as Arteta, he'll have that Argentinian spirit and he'll give the boss the option to bring in some quality when rotating players.
The second player I insist we look at is Roberto Soldado, he's 27 years old, he has pace, he looks like a bit of a fighter and he bangs goals in for fun. This year, he's scored 21 goals in 27 starts including 3 for the Spanish national team. He's scored 93 goals over the last four seasons and his fitness record looks impeccable. Technically gifted as well as being quite creative with the types of goals he scores.
Two players who we could easily sign. Arsenal are Europe's contractual security blanket... there's a big opportunity to take advantage of Valenica's problems... and we should do it. I'm sure both those players would cost a fraction of what David Villa would and they'd fit perfectly into Wenger's 'I LANDED A GREAT DEAL' category of signing.
Jeez... I'm so good at scouting players.
There are noises around certain players... including stories about Florian Thauvin. I can't even be bothered to Grimantube him. A £4m signing from Bastia isn't going to save our season. I don't care how many stepovers he can do over 20 metres. He's not now quality and he's a million miles away from being proven.
I love the Arsenal.com homepage. It really fails to connect with the fans. Traffic to a football website is unconditional, so there's no baseline for what's good and what's bad. People will always go to the homepage, hits will always be high and the bad content or headlines will get ignored. Look at the above... Who cares if this has been Theo's best season? Who cares if he's earning plaudits? This is our worst season under Wenger in 16 years. How is 'It's vital we beat West Ham' even a headline? It's vital we win every game. The only thing missing from that group of headlines is the Johann Djourou 'We will improve' gem that pops up every week.
Theo Walcott reckons the players don't believe in themselves. Which is alarming. I'm not surprised, they get outsmarted most weeks by the opposition. Perhaps if we had more of a game plan and players had strict instructions on what their roles within the team were, they'd have a little more belief. The whole point of having great technique is that when things aren't going well, you can fall back on good basics. I think the same can be said of preparation. If the team isn't in a good run of form, knowing how the opposition generally set up can give you an extra 5%. Knowing how team takes set pieces also gives you that little bit of extra confidence and that split second you didn't have before. Having a system to fall back on when you're two goals down can act as the spring board to help you consolidate and kick on.
... but I guess at the heart of it, a lot of the players aren't good enough. Wenger can tell his babies they're the greatest until he's blue in the face, it doesn't change the obvious facts... they're not. Which is why they need help. Which is why they need to be drilled tactically. Which is why big names need to be dropped if they're not conforming. If Diaby can't track runs, drop him. If Podolski won't give protection to his left back, put someone in who will. If anyone looks like they're not giving 100%... put someone in who will do. Trouble is, Wenger doesn't give himself the squad options to activate that without killing our chances of winning games.
Therein lies the problem...
Anyway, lots of words for you today. Enjoy and play nice in the comments.