Doing a job that upsets Jose: marvellous

One of the most pleasing outcomes of yesterday’s victory over Chelski was, for me, the response of Jose Mourinho. This is a man who has no qualms over having pops at other managers with whom he does not have a good relationship with, so to see him frustrated enough to bemoan Arsenal’s tactics yesterday, was music to my ears.

We did a job on Chelski. We actually did a job. We matched them – probably bettered them – in the first half and then controlled the game in the second. Forget Jose’s claim that we abandoned our philosophy, because footballing philosophy has always been an irrelevance to a man such as him so when Arsenal adapt to a team and the result is a deserved victory, I find it quite amusing to hear his protestations.

But enough about that odious man. He’s already made part of my blog about him. That’s exactly what he wants; for everybody to be talking about him and not the result because the result was perfect.

A clean sheet, a perfect strike from The Ox, as well as signs that this Arsenal team can mix it with the best of them. As champions, you have to call Chelski that, even if it leaves a sour taste in the mouth.

We did what Chelski have done to us over the years with Mourinho in charge. We suffocated them. Stifled them. Made life difficult. Think back to the game; Cech made one good save from a free kick just outside the box, but do you remember him getting us out of any major issues by pulling off wonder save after wonder save?

Nope, me either. That’s probably because our back four performed excellently, especially the impregnable Laurent Koscienly, who made interception after interception and tackle after tackle. Neither Loic Remy or Falcao had any major impact on the game thanks in part to the work of Big Per and Kos. Having had a decade of defences that cause me worry, the feeling will take some time to shake, but more performances like that yesterday and I’ll start to feel more comfortable that we can hold on to leads against big teams.

That’s what this game will also do for this Arsenal team; build more belief that we can compete. Big games between those teams that profess to be title contenders are always tight. They tend to be decided by the odd flash of genius or a single lapse in concentration. For too long we’ve had games against the other big teams in which it hasn’t been close enough for us to compete. Yesterday’s result will hopefully have an impact in terms of belief and confidence that we can and we are competing in those tight games again.

The inclusion of Bellerin at right back was an interesting one and perhaps shows that Arsène is adopting the ‘puppet effect’ as Dave puts it – one quick and pacey full back to push forward whilst the other one sits – giving us more defensive cover. But also by having Monreal/Bellerin vs Gibbs/Debuchy, it ensures that two more attCk minded full backs won’t leave us caught out. Some much needed pragmatism from Arsène that will hopefully serve us well during the season.

The midfield of Coquelin holding, breaking up the play, alongside Santi pulling the strings, worked well at times, but our ball retention could have been a little better. It’s times like yesterday – when the passing is a little off – that we need players like Santi to have the ball more than any other, because he’s usually the player who can retain possession better than anyone. He is going to be important for us this season. I’m convinced of that.

Mesut took a bit of time to warm in to the game, probably because he found his space closed down quite frequently from a Chelski side who clearly didn’t want him pulling the strings, but he still had an impact, switching the play to Theo before the striker found The Ox to hammer home. I found it pleasing to see that Özil and Ramsey were quite fluid in their movements yesterday. Neither occupied the left or central too much I felt and, given that we faced the best opposition we’re going to face this season, I think it bodes well for us. Both players will find more space against the ‘smaller’ teams and I think we’ll see their impact a lot more than the patches we saw yesterday. We defended well yesterday and so the game of those two players had to suffer as we held our collective defensive shape, but that won’t be the case for the whole season. I’m sure of it.

Up top Arsène featured both Giroud and Walcott and although I could understand the logic of Theo up against two slower centre halves in Terry and Cahill, for me it didn’t quite work as well as when Giroud came on. He’s a more polished striker in terms of his overall game compared to Walcott and you could tell by the way he peeled off the centre backs and nearly scored at the back post within a few minutes of coming on. He should really have scored late on when standing seven or eight yards from goal, but thankfully that miss didn’t come back to haunt us.

I’d been saying all weekend that this game was nothing more than a posh friendly and I still haven’t changed my approach, but with confidence and belief in the squad looking high at the moment, this performance can still be used by the manager and players to keep them riding high until we play West Ham. The game yesterday will count for nothing if we don’t show up against The Hammers, but we’ve given ourselves the best possible preparation to make sure we’re ready, so let’s hope this is just the start of something special.

We’ll get victory through harmony – the players believe it

Stability is a place called Arsenal these days. With the announcement that Theo Walcott and Santi Cazorla have both renewed their contracts with a four and three-year deal respectively, we have seen two of the recently unanswered questions be unequivocably dealt with by the club. In terms of keeping the continuity of the squad together, only the inking of a new deal of Nacho Monreal is left to ensure that this is – in theory (because we all know that contracts can be exited via buy outs from other clubs in the form of transfers) – a collective of players that we should be able to grow together for many years to come.

I’ve been saying this for quite a bit of this summer, but this is a squad that I personally feel very happy with. They have not been taken apart through transfer saga’s or contracts being run down, instead Arsene and the Arsenal staff have augmented the team with better players. World class players. Whilst many clubs like Liverpool have been overhauling their squad for a couple of seasons, we have seen relatively little player inwards movement, because we simply haven’t needed it. You build a beautiful and delicious cake with time and a careful hand, not by chucking all of the ingredients into a blender and hitting warp speed four.

This is a squad who are going to grow together. I feel it. Silly videos like the one in the swimming pool when they were all together heading it may all look like nothing, but I’m sure they give us a window into squad harmony and morale. Everyone seems to be pulling in the right direction. Everyone wants success.

Theo knew that. That’s why this contractual saga of his hasn’t lasted very long at all. He’s at an age where ambition is essential. He needs to feel like he can win things and the apparent ease in which this has happened (although I’d bet the negotiators on both sides will probably say that it wasn’t that easy when you were on the inside!) shows that he feels he can. He’s 26 years old and having spent 10 years at Arsenal, he probably feels like this is the best possible time to be picking up medals. I hope he’s right. We all do.

We’ve all got the bug you see. We’ve had two year’s of the FA Cup and now we want more. Our thirst has not been quenched, it has only been abated. We want bigger. We need better. The players are the same and you can sense it in what they are all saying. The way they are talking about the club has the sound of those that really believe it and in sport belief is as important as experience, confidence and technical ability. The players all have technical ability. We’ve got a squad bristling with it. But perhaps over the last ten years the belief has not been to the level it is now. That belief has come with trophy wins in the last two seasons and with those trophy wins we also have players who know how to win things. They know how to get over the line.

Cazorla too has been rewarded with a new deal. He’s thirty years old and the club have signed him up for another three years I believe. That shows you just what an impact our tiny little Spaniard has had. I think he still had a year or so to run on his deal and so Arsenal could have got to next summer and given him a one year extension, but they have decided that he’s a guy that we should keep around for a few year’s to come. Let’s not forget that Santi was a player who has been linked with moves back to Spain even as soon as a few weeks ago. He’s always said he would like to go back and finish his career in Spain, but his style and the way he plays probably means he could be playing well in to his late thirties, so him sticking around for another three years can only be a good thing. Like Theo, he has probably seen the potential of this team and is hungry to realise his dreams by picking up more medals with Arsenal.

It’s a commitment from Santi in his belief, but it’s also a commitment from the club too, which I think has to be applauded. The club recognise what an impact he has. His close control, his ability to retain possession, his new-found position of a deep lying playmaker, all of this last season was a vitally important cog in the machine that was churning out victory after victory post-Christmas 2014. His resurgence in the team (let’s not forget that people thought it might be the end of his time this time last year) has coincided with the team’s performance and if we’re going to win the league this season, we’re going to need Santi in the team.

What his and Arteta’s signatures does, is do something that perhaps Arsenal have been accused of not doing in the past, which is successfully pairing the need for youth, players in their prime and those with experience that can take the younger players under their wings. Balance. Harmony. Victory through it all. That’s what The Arsenal’s successful history has been built on and that is how we can win that Premier League trophy again.

I’m excited. Bring on the Premier League. Let’s see how far this team can take us.

Less swagger, more resolute, better Arsenal

Two trophies in as many weekends and a chance next weekend to make it three in a row, against the so-called unbeatable Mourinho, means we’re all riding pretty high at the moment. For preseason that is.

Yesterday’s Emirates Cup victory and subsequent lifting of the trophy may not have had the swagger of Saturday’s performance, but it still showed a resolution and steel to this Arsenal squad that we should all be pleased with, even if it was only a friendly. 

In Wolfsburg we had opponents who finished second in the Bundesliga and had won the German Cup, so anybody suggesting they should be football fodder for the team, would have had a bit of a surprise on them. De Bruyne and Schürrle as creative outlets and The Lord up top are a decent enough threat to pose, so perhaps we should have been less surprised by their opening half of dominant pressure, than we actually were. 

But much like the criticism of Arsenal that has been levelled historically, Wolfsburg only once or twice tested Cech and in the main, we looked relatively comfortable at the back I thought. The Germans had lots of possession, but less cutting edge, it seemed.

We should probably also look at the selected XI that Arsène chose as another explanation as to why we couldn’t really get any fluency in to our game. Sure, we had Mesut and Santi to pull the strings and there were definitely enough first teamers out there for us to look a little more polished, but it didn’t quite click without players like Ramsey to keep us going with his energy and movement at the top and bottom of the pitch. That’s what it felt like to me, anyway.

Özil only played the first half, but he looked the most threatening to score and I think you can certainly say with some comfort, that he’s ready to make a big impact this season. He’s dictated some of these friendly games and even bagged some goals, so if he can carry that in to the real stuff this season, we’ll all be the beneficiaries. 

The other star of the show went to Jeff Reine-Adelaide, the 17-year-old wonderkid whose lit up the Emirates Cup this season. His close ball control and ability to dart in between an opponent or two, had me at times thinking of some sort of Paddy and Wilshere hybrid, but I need to temper the praise a bit for a player who I didn’t really even know existed before this weekend. He was influential in Walcott’s second half goal and although many speculated over a loan move after the match, Arsène’s comments about him needing to train with the first team before that were interesting, because it’s clear he sees big things for him.

I don’t think Arsène will be thinking that he’ll be a regular starter and I would be surprised if we were to see him even make the bench against West Ham in a couple of weeks, but Wenger’s comments did make me wonder about how he likes to mould his players, ensuring that ‘The Arsenal away’ is ingrained in them before they are let out on loan. Perhaps he feels that a season at a Bolton or a Hull City, for example, would only serve to give him experience and not the technical requirements he’d need to operate in our team. Arsène’s Arsenal play neat, quick-paced interchanging of passes and perhaps he feels that young Reine-Adelaide would be better served learning that way before gaining first two experience elsewhere on a regular basis.

Let’s see what he does about Reine-Adelaide’s future. 

One player whose future looks to be coming to a positive conclusion, is that of Theo Walcott, who Arsène admitted is ‘close’ to agreeing a deal. The rumours started over the weekend that it had been done and with Le Boss making such an admission as he did, you’d like to think it’s all but dusted too, which I have to say will feel relatively painless compared to last time. It’s certainly fair to say the circumstances and situation the club is in makes a difference, but I was still expecting this to go on for some months now, so the fact that both parties seem to have reached an accord means it’s one more piece of the Arsenal puzzle moving in to place. 

For all the media bluster and fan chomping for a new signing of two, at least we have the balance and the harmony of the team at a point where we can all be happy that we will compete, which is all any of us want anyway. 

So we’re in a good place. Preseason has been positive, the team are playing positive, we’re looking like we could give Chelski and City a run for their money. This time next week we may have even broken the hoodoo of José over Arsène too. You never know.

The perils of recorded Arsenal games and the lure of home

Welcome to Friday. I don’t know about you, but it’s a week that certainly has dragged for me. Is it because there is no football on? Is that what it is? No football, plus no real mega exciting news to speak of, equals slow-diddly-oweness. I guess there was some football on Wednesday, but I was at work so it wasn’t really something I could ‘look forward to’ so to speak. And as much as I try with recorded games that you watch after the event, it’s never quite the same, is it?

I always get a little bit too remote control trigger-happy. Throw ins, corners, stoppages in play; they all get fast forwarded. Which then completely ruins the ‘live’ experience and thrill. It’s also the unknown factor of watching it live. When you and I are watching The Arsenal live, wherever we are, we’re all in the same boat and we experience the same nerves. But we also experience the same adrenaline. All of that gets washed away when you know the result. I’ve tried to avoid all fonts cat with humans that might divulge that information in the past, but in the end it never really works out, so I gave up on that a long time ago. It’s a bit like the people on the news who say “if you don’t want to know the result, look away now”, then within a second they both say and show the result. How the devil are you supposed to react that quickly? Especially if you’ve been inebriated all day!

Anyway, tomorrow will feel a little bit more like things are getting back to the norm, because it’ll be a 1.30pm kick off UK time, plus a Saturday so I can watch the game without having to do that ‘work’ thing that gets in the way of live. And it’s another Premier League club in the shape of Everton, so that will help to trick my brain into feeling like we’re getting backflip the norm.

Why can’t they just pay us to be Gooners, eh? 

Ahh, right, yes. Because that would make us players. And probably bankrupt the club. But it’s a nice idea. Maybe I’ll write to Ivan. If you don’t buy a ticket n’all that…

There seems to be a bit more rumbling about Nacho Monreal to Bilbao. More than many of us would like it has to be said, but I do find it staggering (if true) that a club can hold so much sway over a player just because it’s in a certain region. It’s like Bilbaoan (did I get that right?) people don’t realise that if you’re a footballer, you’re supposed to be greedy and a little bit simple, but gifted with a spherical thing at your feet. The move is baffling in the extreme. If Nacho wants to go back to the club one day then you can understand it, but having just spent two years unseating Gibbs from the left back slot at one of the biggest clubs in Europe, why would you decide to join a mid table team? It’s like Gareth Bale leaving Madrid for Swansea because he misses the high levels of unemployment and people drinking Special Brew on the street at 11am on a Tuesday. 

I just don’t get it. But then again, I am from London and there perhaps aren’t the same ties as there are for the Spanish region, or even the rest of the UK I suspect. I mean yes, you’ve got the Geordies and the Mackems who are all football mad and one-club cities, but players don’t feel an unexplainable draw to the club whatever the circumstances. Just look at Jordan Henderson moving to Liverpool as a case in point. Or Andy Carroll to Liverpool too, for that matter.

Perhaps it’s got something to do with the fact he’s only got a year left on his deal and he’s angling for another three years, where as Arsène would probably only be angling for a one year extension given that he’ll be 30 in February next year. I’d offer him three. He’s deserved it and besides, having reached the tender age of 32 myself, I’d like to think he’ll still be useful when he hits my age.

Anyway, all of this could very well be Spanish tabloid mischief making, so I should probably just forget about it and think more about how exciting it will be when Big Per and Arteta lift the Premier League trophy in May next year.

As for what else is happening, well, there isn’t really anything of note. There’s more rumblings about Benzema but really, are we going to head down that well trodden route? I’m bored of it already, so I know you must be too.

And with all this in mind, I say my good day to you and hope that tidings find you well. 

Chuba to ‘Kane’ it up?

Happy Thursday fellow Goonerite. And lo, we have some actual football to talk about! 

Yep, pre-season is officially underway and kicked off yesterday with a 4-0 romping of those world beaters known as the Singapore XI, with goals between Chuba Akpom and Jack Wilshere ensuring that it will be more realistic for the lazy of us to watch the final on Saturday. Why? Well because the final is on at 1.30pm, where as the third/fourth place playoff is at around 11am, I believe. It’s a relief because let’s face it, if you’re in the UK and you’re a somewhat lazy Arsenal fan like me, there’s an outside chance you might not make that.

Accuse me of disloyalty or not having enough passion, but these friendlies are so stop-start they can hardly be classed as thorough entertainment and the fact that they don’t actually mean much, pretty much compounds the whole issue of having to get up early to watch.

But anyway, we don’t have to worry about that, or our striking problems ever again, because Big Chuba is on hand to break his way into the first team, giving Arsène the delightful opportunity to close the doors at London Colney and declare: “we’re full mate, you’re not coming in” to any more players.

Of course we all know the reality is that bagging a hat trick against a Singapore XI is a little different to doing it in the Premier League against Moneychester City, or on a cold Tuesday in Stoke (had to get at least one irritating cliché in there), but what it will do is give Chuba confidence that he belongs amongst his fellow first team pros. There are high hopes for him and although I still suspect a loan deal is in the offing before the window shuts, it is nice to imagine that he could be this seasons Coquelin, isn’t it? I mean come on, you’re not one of those so hungry for a thrill that only a £40million striker will quench your football thirst, are you?

Think about how much fawning the media did over Kane last season? Then imagine that Chuba can make people think ‘Kane who?’ with a fantastic season?

I know, I know, we probably shouldn’t be gambling a season of potential Premier League glory on an unproven striker, but we won the league with relative unknown Anelka, so why not at least dream a little? It’s far more preferable than the whole “SIGN ALL THE PLAYERS!!!!!!” Mentality that some people have. You’ll probably live longer too.

Besides, Arsène hasn’t ruled out any signings like he’s been known to in the past, so if you do fall in to the latter camp you can take a chill pill. I think if a megastar becomes available, Arsène will go for it, because we’re in a position where we need cherries on top and not sponge or jam in our cake. Or some sort of other metaphor that probably works better. I’ll let you have a go at that one.

In terms of the other positive performances yesterday, I can only go on the written word that I’ve read, because I haven’t managed to watch the whole game yet. But by all accounts it appears that Jack had a good game and his apparent ‘burst’ has returned, as noted by the manager post game, so that’s a positive sign for the upcoming season. What Jack might not have wanted to hear from Le Boss is that he may have to ply his trade out wide at times this season, on account of the overwhelming number of players whose best position is central. We’ve already seen it last season with Rambo playing wide right and, given Arsène’s comments yesterday, there’s part of me that wonders whether or not the start of the season will see Wilshere crop up on the left hand side of the front three.

I hope not. Not because Jack isn’t a good player or I don’t want to see him play, but because I think we have better and more creative options to replace Alexis at the start of the season, as he recovers from the Copa America. I think Welbeck or The Ox are more naturally suited to those attacking positions and with the team we have and the depth that now exists in the squad, it would be worrying for us to see Arsène going back to old habits and putting square pegs in round holes to accommodate players.

Anyway, there is still plenty of pre season to try and dissect Arsène’s thinking from a tactical and personnel perspective and as we’ve all learnt by now, what Arsène says in the media should sometimes be taken with a pinch of salt. The game yesterday was full of subs as expected and when friendlies are as bitty as that game apparently was yesterday, you can’t really make any half-decent judgements on the team for the upcoming season.

So that’s pretty much it from me for today. My train approaches a big black hole, so I’ll sign off and say “see ya tomorrow”.

Arteta’s deal raises questions that Arsène must ponder and answer

Monday came and went with players returning to training and, unlike in places like Southampton where the odd chap doesn’t show for his first day back with his current club, everyone at Arsenal came back who was supposed to come back. No Szczesny stuck in a wishing well, no Wilshere falling in to the Grand Canyon and certainly no Flamini stuck on a boat 10 miles from Somalian pirates. All appears to be gravy in The Arsenal world. 

It’s nice. I like it. Having spent a few seasons with a settled squad, my ever hazy memory is beginning to remember the times in which we just got stronger every summer under Arsène’s stewardship. 

News wise there still isn’t much though. Arteta might be on the verge of a new deal and whilst that will have some Arsenal fans spitting feathers and chewing the inside of their mouths, I’d be quite happy to see our experienced captain receive the backing of the manager with a new deal.

Sure, there will be those of you that might think “but what does that mean in terms of a replacement in holding midfield??”, but I don’t really think that decision taken by the manager will have had that much of an impact on his decision to strengthen in the defensive midfield position. He signed an extension to Rosicky’s contract, but do you think that means Rosicky is going to play more regularly? I don’t. I do think that Arsène is making sure we have enough cover by keeping Tomas and I think Arteta is in that position too. 

Besides which, every successful team has a balance of skills, enthusiasm and experience, so why wouldn’t we want Arteta around to support his teammates? He’s proven himself a great person to be at the club; eloquent, honest, and on top of that many people seem to forget just how good he is. He’s a master at receiving and distributing accurately from our back four, relieving pressure, as well as setting the rest of the team up to find space and start attacks. He’s an organiser on the pitch. He’s brilliant at the tactical yellow card in the middle of the pitch. He’s also versatile. In his career he’s been a playmaker, a left midfielder and a holding defensive midfielder. He’s had his injuries – particularly last season – but when he plays he will be an asset to the team, of that I have no doubt.

 Unusually for me, this summer I’ve taken the approach that I’m not sure we really need that much in order to compete with Chelski. We’ve bought a great ‘keeper capable of salvaging us points. Last season I remember saying that neither Szczesny or Ospina were that type of ‘keeper I felt. So we’ve addressed that now. But with Coquelin established as the first choice holding midfielder, surely it makes sense to have a calming and mentoring influence in the shape of Arteta, for him?

I think so. I also think that unless a player is available for a realistic market value, Arsène won’t do any type of deal in any position, because he’s not going to want to have his fingers burned by playing £30million for Schneiderlin. No matter how much the player wants to come or how many French Caps he has won.

There’s also the small matter of Krystian Bielik who, with such big things expected of him in the coming years, would probably see his path all but blocked up if Arsène signs another 24-25 year old for the position he offers. I know Bielik is only 17, but we like to blood them young at Arsenal, so it wouldn’t surprise me – assuming he’s good enough – to see him emerging within two years. By that time you’ll have a Coquelin who will be at his peak at 26, Arteta will have hung up his boots and young Krystian can act as Padawan to Francis.

I know I know, it’s all very hypothetical and a lot of ducks need to be lined up before it happens, but I’m just trying to put myself in Arsène’s shoes with Arsène’s thought process. Why go out and spend £30million on a player when you have a £30million player (as he believes) in that position already? 

I suppose he has form in the shape of Monreal signing for £8million when we had Gibbs in the team already, but that move was partially justified based on the Englishman’s injury record, so it made sense. Coquelin hasn’t really established himself long enough in the first team to work out if he has injury problems, so for all we know he could play 40 times next season and the whole question over having good enough cover becomes a bit of an irrelevance.

I guess that just goes to show you the delicate nature of the decisions Le Boss has to make with his squad at the moment. The team feels to me like it’s standing on the precipice of greatness, it really does, so to unbalance it with a host of Galatacicos – for example – doesn’t make sense. However, there needs to be sufficient depth, with a blend of young hungry players and experienced elder statesmen to compliment those in their prime in order to see us lift the Premier League and/or the Champions League. 

Anyway Arsène, over to you sir.

Two stumbling blocks in Cech deal; hold the press: new kit is red and white

Two major talking points from yesterday included the unveiling of the new kit, as well as the noise about Cech hotting up even further, with his coach Christophe Lollichon (what a name that is, eh?) saying that Petr loves Arsenal’s philosophy and he is settled in London.

Let’s start with the new kit though, which I must admit I’m pleasantly surprised with, because it looks quite traditional and tidy when worn by a selection of the players showing it off yesterday. How it will look on a man who is quite clearly morbidly obese and middle-ageing remains to be seen, but regardless of that I’m pleased that there isn’t any whacky attempts at veering away from what should be a fairly straightforward design: red and white.

Hector was asked for his thoughts on the kit. He responded appropriately: it’s red and white.

Good on you Hec. You’ve given the perfect response, because it’s a kit, nothing more or less. Puma need the fanfare around it to generate worldwide sales on the purchase of next seasons shirt, so need to stoke up the hyperbole, but for the players and most of the fans it should be seen as a plain old football kit.

I do like the white shoulders though. It does remind me of the 90/91 league title winning shirt, sans the different patterned tones of red diamond-looking shapes on it. Hopefully we can get the same outcome wearing that shirt as we did back in 91.

Me personally, it’s unlikely I’ll be buying the new shirt, on account of the sheer cost as well as the fact I only ever wear an Arsenal shirt to some home games. I’ve got enough in my wardrobe in that respect, so another £60 spent on a shirt that would probably only make half a dozen appearances a season, isn’t really my cup of tea.

I love how some people get so worked up in the hum-drum of it all though. Particularly when they see certain players in it and think “well he’s been pictured in the new kit so he won’t leave”. Guys and gals, all I’ll say is this: That Dutch Bloke.

One player who might be edging his way to The Arsenal is Petr Cech, if his coach Lollichon is to be believed. Heh, Lollichon; sounds like a genetically modified gherkin-flavoured iced snack on a stick.

Anyway, our pal Christophe has told the world that Petr wants to be happy, loves London, likes Arsenal’s style of play and has all but turned up at London Colney with a bag of balls, cones and some headgear. This seems to be rolling into one of those ‘no smoke without fire transfers’, but whilst most parties think that a deal could probably be done, the chief protagonists in any kind of halt in proceedings are unlikely to make it easy. First and foremost, we haven’t really heard from Arsène in any detail about this and having seen this type of speculation before, I know that we could only be a day or two away from an Arsène “no, we are not in for him”. We know that he rates him and that he has tried to sign him before, but I just have this weird feeling that despite all the noise being made about him signing, it won’t happen. It all feels a bit too public to me. Sometimes I have wondered in the past if Arsène has pulled out of deals because he’s just finally got the hump and pulled out because of all of the publicity. It’s an irrational thought I know, but are you telling me you haven’t had a thought like that about Le Boss in the past?

So whilst everyone else seems to have had their say, Arsène is on the down low and I think this transfer will not be as straightforward as everyone thinks, especially when you take the other chief protagonist into question.

Jose Mourinho is an ‘orrible little oik. And I can say that with some confidence, given that two weeks ago I went to Madam Tussauds in London and he was there as a waxwork, almost a full foot shorter than me. He’s a little man with a petty streak in him and regardless of all of the Chelski platitudes coming out about the service Cech has given the club and what he deserves, the Portuguese will make this transfer as difficult as possible. First he’ll try to make the price as prohibitive as possible for Arsenal, knowing we don’t pay over the odds. Then he’ll try to drag it out as long as he can, probably by insisting he needs a replacement first. He’ll then possibly even try what he’s publicly suggested and go for a home-grown Arsenal player. But we all know that should fall flat on its face. Why? Because the only players who he will want will be too close to the first team for us to consider. And if he does like the look of Walcott and the Englishman doesn’t look like he’s going to sign a deal, do you really think Theo’s value is not as high as Petr’s?

It’s not. Theo’s value is greater. Forward players are always more expensive in value and at 26, Theo has more of a career ahead of him (in theory, although I know ‘keepers tend to be able to go on into their late 30s) than Cech. So if any deal like that were to be done, you’d expect it to be more like a player-plus-cash deal for us than anything else.

It ain’t gonna happen.

So with that in mind, I cannot see any way in which this deal can be done quickly, assuming there is the desire from Arsène’s and Arsenal’s side. We all think we need a new ‘keeper, but remember when we all needed a defender last summer? Hold on to your Puma headgear folks, we’re in for a bit of a ’round-the-houses’ ride yet.