So it’s the final round, and it looks like it’s going to a decision. The gloves are coming off and it’s going to get brutal. The title says it all – I’ve got a few things I need to get off my chest. I don’t expect anyone to agree with me, and I’m happy to debate any of these upcoming statements, but I think it’s time a few of these things need to be said.
Let me start with the guy who’s been linked with us for over a year – Morgan Schneiderlin. He seems to be the consensus pick to be our new “DM” next year. But let me remind the general public of this first: 12 to 18 months ago, every man and his dog wanted us to sign William Carvalho. According to the masses he was the right player to sign in that position.
It’s funny how many people (myself included) make fun of, and slag off the media for linking us with names, then in turn end up either saying “yeah, sign that guy, that’s the guy I wanted the whole time;” or, “oh they’re idiots who don’t know anything about football.” Funnily enough, many fans out there seem to jump on that same media bandwagon when it comes to players being linked.
So after a while, those who actually watch enough football to not follow the herd said “Carvalho isn’t good enough” – and that is true; he isn’t. Ask anyone who knows me, I was never convinced. But then comes Schneiderlin. “That’s the guy! Sign him, we need him!” No, no we don’t. I’ll ask you this, what aspect of his game do you think we need? Because if you say we bring him in as the DM, I’m sorry – you’re one of the herd. The man gets forward, he’s not like Coquelin.
The truth is, Morgan Schneiderlin is more like Aaron Ramsey than he is a Coquelin type defensive midfielder – which is what we actually need. I understand that it’s rare in modern football to find players who are traditional holding players in the middle of the park. And needing someone to replace Coquelin isn’t exactly necessary anymore either. Francis Coquelin has taken his chance so well, and made such an impact, that he has to be one of the first names on the team sheet now.
Now, if you want Schneiderlin because of how he plays, and actually realise that he isn’t going to be a holding mid, then fair enough. But remember, he’s only going to do what Ramsey does, and likely you can’t play both if that’s the case. Which brings me to the crux of this specific point: should we not sign him, I don’t want to see the people who wanted him for the wrong reasons, who only wanted him because we were linked with him, on Twitter complaining about it. Or saying Arsenè should go because he didn’t sign someone YOU wanted for a lack of self research, and got stuck in the herd of media links and believing that because someone has more followers than you, their opinion should be more valid. To think that the player they suggest must be the right choice. Ridiculous.
Next, Danny Welbeck, Kieran Gibbs, and David Ospina. I can see how this may turn in to a rant. But if you are open minded, and not using a bias, then maybe it won’t be seen as the views of an angry man – which I am not. We are in good form, there is no doubt and yeah, we do have probably our best squad in years, but here goes.
While it’s true Danny Welbeck can, and likely will improve, The truth is two part. Firstly, he would have been a coup for a club like Sunderland, Aston Villa, West Ham, West Brom and so on – but not for Arsenal. Moreover, if he wasn’t English, with the scoring record he has, and what we paid for him, I think people would be damn near outraged at the lack of goals – or the composure he has shown in front of goal by now. Like I said, he’s going to improve and he works bloody hard, but don’t let your loyalty to your country blind you from the truth, we would be doing him and ourselves a disservice not to demand more from a 16 million pound signing – especially with the expectation around The Emirates always growing.
I don’t think it’s entirely David Ospina I’m going after here, but I’m looking at the table above us and Chelsea have TWO keepers that are head and shoulders above ours. Additionally, while the idea of taking a Chelsea legend in Čech just isn’t right by me from an Arsenal standpoint, there are masses of Arsenal fans who would gladly take someone who’s so Chelsea he may as well be John Terry or Didier Drogba’s brother. That to me speaks volumes of what people truly think about our goalkeepers, yet don’t want to say about our goalkeeping situation. Let’s be honest, Joe Hart is better than Ospina, but not to the extent of Courtois or Čech.
De Gea is better too, but that’s still to be debated. If you don’t actually kick the ball at him, there is a chance he doesn’t save it (ask Nacho Monreal). Another player where I see more English bias are the people claiming Fraser Forster is better. Now this is insane. Yes, his team have the best defence in the league, but Fraser Forster as a shot stopper, is not better than Ospina. Again, don’t let your English loyalty make opinions for you. Truth is, if we are to challenge on all fronts, it realistically wouldn’t hurt to let Szczęsny go in the summer and get someone to challenge Ospina. There are loads of keepers out there that could improve us a hell of a lot – at least in competition for places. Name a few you say? Kevin Trapp, Diego Alves, Salvatore Sirigu, I’d even go as far as saying Bernd Leno, René Adler, even Ron-Robert Zieler. I’ve seen some say Tim Krul is much better than what we have, and although this contradicts my “Čech is Chelsea DNA” bit earlier, who wouldn’t take someone like Hugo Lloris off Spurs?
I just feel, if we want to go further, some ruthless competition wouldn’t hurt. And while I totally side with Arsenè about not killing players and so on, it wouldn’t hurt to have someone come in, provide competion, and overtake à la Monreal over Gibbs this season. Which brings me to Kieran – who while I am a fan of, I have to ask – has he reached his peak? Can he still improve? I think the experience he has at our club gives him the nod over a lot of other English left backs but could we not improve in this area also? I think we can. Layvin Kurzawa from our new mates Monaco is 3 years Gibbs junior, and I dare say he is on the same level as our clean tackling left-back.
I don’t see any of these players truly moving on mind you, but the entire mission of this article is to open the eyes of some who are seemingly happy to believe that who we are linked with “will do” and then get upset when we don’t sign that player. Arsenal on the whole are one of the most secretive clubs when it comes to transfers, so you never truly know who’s coming in. The media usually have better luck with their saturation of guesswork, than they do at actually finding anything out that has any substance until well in to the deals anyway.
I want Arsenal to improve, as we all do – and I dare say that a lot of us could do without seeing the attention seeking people getting stroppy when players they’ve seen linked to the club, aren’t signed. It’s just as upsetting seeing people retweet these ridiculous statements from the average fan who doesn’t know enough to make educated statements. The only way to cut these people out, and not give them a voice is by ignoring their idiocy – not by giving them 35 retweets.
Understand, I’m not so ignorant to claim I believe or know better than others, or that my word is gospel, but when it comes to things like people all jumping on the “sign that guy” bandwagon, without any individuality or education in their opinions, it makes it easy to see who knows their stuff and who just want what the consensus want.
You have to understand, we live in a world where a new fan can come along tomorrow and have their voice heard. In this same world, we are privileged to be able to PICK the football team we want to support, and some people even switch teams – which to me is the death knell of my respect for any self proclaimed sports fan. It’s pretty easy to support a team who win all the time and get on the bandwagon – what’s harder is sticking with a team your whole life and actually knowing what you’re talking about on the subject. I understand some don’t have the time to be so educated, and that’s fine. It’s those out there who are in the realm of guessing and bandwagoning, then getting mad when something doesn’t go their way I personally can’t stand.
On the Welbeck, Ospina and Gibbs thing, they’re not the only ones. I could go on about Flamini and others but I think I’ve made my point. If we want to push on and actually challenge Chelsea, City and so on, then we shouldn’t let ourselves be happy or content with “just having a decent squad” and while it would be sad to see some players go, it’s the nature of the beast. Sometimes, to succeed you’ve gotta be ruthless. I mean, be thankful we don’t have Gervinho still.
Like I said at the top, I’m happy to debate any of this and I’m not above being proven wrong. It wouldn’t be the first time people have gotten mad at me for speaking such blunt truths and I’m sure it won’t be the last. The reality is, Arsenal and everything at the moment is fine, and I’d rather go with this emotion now than when things are on a down. I’m not mad, nor am I upset, but I felt it was a good opportunity to get some points made while everyone is in relatively good spirits.
That’s that I suppose. And on the anniversary* of the passing of one our great players of the past, remember who you are, what you are, and who you represent.
By ‘#ABW Regular Columnist’ Jake Arsenal (@JakeArsenal1)
*A quick note that Jake wrote this on the anniversary of our beloved Rocky but then OG didn’t post it until the next day – blame OG.