Find Wenger’s kidnapper

This country I reside within is beings severely punished at the moment. How else can you explain the ridiculously cold weather that we’re having to endure? I mean really, 2’C? Madness!

I tell you who else is mad: Arsène Wenger, that’s who. I think the present cold snap has frozen his transfer deflector shields, because yesterday he was asked a direct question about a player who doesn’t play for us and is not on the verge of signing, and essentially admitted that if we get the work permit situation sorted the deal can be done.

Who are you and what have you done with Monsieur Wenger? That must be some sort of silicon infused android, because Arsène is normally way more guarded than he was yesterday, so I’m thinking that we have to start a man-hunt for Arsène’s captor. Think about it: defensively resolute against the champions at the weekend, admitting to transfer business that the android himself said was 50-50, then next thing you know he’ll be wearing a baseball cap on the touchline and publicly chastising players in the post-match presser. The evidence was there in his press conference yesterday too, identifying the strikers and singling out Joao Teixeira by the looks of the official site transcript of his conference yesterday. Arsène Wenger. Looking at an opponent and their weaknesses. And looking to nullify them. People: this is not a drill – a mans life could be at stake here!

There’s only one way we can find out if it’s the real Arsène: give him a really long coat with a zip. If he does it up first time, we bullet the evil android in the head and start the search immediately.

There are plenty of suspects. Ivan Gazidis, looking to finally have some control and therefore investing some of his sizabel bonus on the technology to build an Alien-style part human, part machine. Jurgen Klopp, who is looking for an exit from his Dortmund nightmare and has also invested some of his annual chunk of change on developing the technology. Hey, maybe it’s Dick Law, who is fed up with being given the run-around by 18 year-old prospects and has kidnapped Arsène and will never release him, just get ‘Evil Arsène’ to do his dirty work so all he has to do is to turn up and collect a player from the airport.

Clever Dick.

Of course I jest, but the important thing I guess, is that we are making serious moves in the market and we’re doing it almost a week before the transfer trapdoor slams shut until June. I just hope – and suspect it’s the case – that we have other options on standby in case we don’t get the positive response from the Home Office that we’re looking for.

The team news ahead of the weekend has some question marks, but I think I’ll leave the pondering on the eventual line up until Sunday morning, because I suspect a few players will be rotated. Arsène already admitted that Özil would start and with Santi in what Le Boss described as ‘the best form of his career’, it seems strange that our record signing has to contend with FA Cup appearances to show that he can get back into the side. It’s a strange and beautiful situation for Wenger to be in and, if Mesut runs the game on Sunday, it makes it delightfully more difficult for Arsène to choose who starts the following week. I’m sure he’s not worried about that in the slightest though.

He also didn’t seem too fussed about the Coquelin contract situation either, so hopefully that will be wrapped up soon, because we lose quite a few midfielders in the summer and even with Coquelin, we still need another defensive minded midfielder in my opinion. I just hope Le Boss’ confidence that the deal will be done isn’t just a smokescreen like the Flamini situation the first time around that we had him.

There’s plenty more Arsenal stuff that I could be babbling on about today, but I’m running out of time as my Met line train hurtles towards Finchley Road and ‘Nosignalsville’, so I’m afraid I must cut my ramblings short and hope you have a less frost-laden day than I am having.

Out.

Arsenal hear me on Bielik; what does defensive strengthening mean for Chambers?

It appears I must have some sort of political sway at Arsenal HQ, because after my plea for the Bielik deal to be announced, low and behold the young fella turns up on the official site as a confirmed signing.

I do find it interesting that young plays – boys really – that come from other clubs are given the same ‘new signing’ treatment that big money players in their prime get. Yesterday we had pictures, and official announcement and whilst there hasn’t been any kind of interview or comments from the 17-year-old yet, it wouldn’t surprise me if we don’t see those over the coming days.

Perhaps part of it is driven by the clear lust of fans like me wanting to see that a deal has been done for supposedly one of the hottest young prospects in Europe in his age group. At 6ft 2′ and still only 17, there’s room for Krystian to be a big player in more ways than one at the club, but I do wonder what pressure it puts him under now that the deal is done. After all, Jack Wilshere came from the youth ranks, et was not afforded any kind of fanfare when he signed his professional terms with the club at 16.

I think it’s probably unlikely that Bielik will be in with the first team straight away, despite what Arsène says, so he’ll probably go into our youth setup. So what will the relationship be with the younger players who are probably earning less than him, yet still have the same goal: to make it in to the first team? Will he have to endure extra knocks in training, or in under-21 games? Or will he play under-18 football for the remainder of this season? All is to be revealed, obviously, but I guess what I’m getting at here is that his path to glory may be more difficult because of the very nature of his arrival; a £2.5million price tag for a young superstar whose bones still probably haven’t stopped growing.

Maybe I need to think less about this sort of stuff. After all, Aaron Ramsey arrived at Arsenal for double that fee at 17 and look where he has managed to get to. Sure, that was a road that had his bumps, much like Bielik’s will surely have along the way, but if his character is strong like Ramsey’s, then we’ll have quite a player on our hands I’m sure.

He does look a little like an even henchman from a Batman movie. Don’t know if that’s just me or not…

There’s not really masses going on in terms of news today. There’s quite a bit of chatter about Gabriel Paulista, but as I rarely watch Spanish football and haven’t seen Villareal even once this season, I can’t really give you an informed opinion I’m afraid. If said player does arrive though, one would assume that he’d be looking to get more game time than that of a fourth choice centre half, so you’d expect Chambers to play that role as deputy to the deputy centre half. With Bellerin impressing at right back, he might find his game time limited, but given the number of games he’s already played this season, I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. He’s shown he is a very good defender, one for the future, but we’ve relied on him too much and we need him to develop in a way that he isn’t run into the ground by the time he hits 21. Confidence plays such a massive part in football and we don’t want his dented.

So perhaps we’ll see Chambers alternating defensive responsibilities with Bellerin over the next three months, which will be good for both players, as they know that there is competition in the team but equally they have a chance to play more games. Much like we don’t want to throw Bellerin in all of the time, we can alternate his frequency of appearances in the first team.

This all goes to show that all of this juggling, when you have such a big squad, isn’t as easy as it looks I suppose. You have to balance between the hear and now and the future of the club when you’re in a position like Arsenal. We need to give young players enough exposure to the first team so they grow into first team regulars, but at the same time not too much exposure so that their careers are – as Arsène would say – ‘killed’.

Who’d be a football manager, eh?

Arsène does Mel, Jenks stories are false and agreeing with Walcott (to a point)

Morning you lot, I hope you’re enjoying your Wednesday and are just happy that we’re slowly but surely making our way through this working week. All’s still quiet on the Western front, which means no signings announced, not even a 17-year-old who the club has confirmed has had a medical.

I mean what’s going on here with Bielik? Is he still in school and hasn’t secured a note from his parents yet? Has somebody kidnapped him and are waiting on Arsenal to pay up to a kings ransom for his release? Arsène Wenger is not Mel Gibson people. He may have that kind of money, but he just doesn’t look good in a kilt with blue and white facepaint. Plus I’m pretty sure he’s not a raving anti-Semite either.

Anyway, whoever has taken Bielik and is playing ‘keep-away’ with him from Dick Law, can you give Dick his Bielik back now please? Remember how much he cried when you did the same thing with Campbell? Nobody wants a weeping Dick.

If you read the transfer talk the gutter press hash together worse than a Mondeo/Volvo estate ‘cut-and-shut’, you’ll possibly have read that Arsène has ‘slapped’ a price tag of £12million on Carl Jenkinson to ward off his East London suitors. Quite why Arsène needs to denigrate Carl by physically sticking a label on him is beyond me, but putting aside some quite funny visual imagery of Le Boss as a used car dealer based in a London Colney showroom, I suspect that this story is nothing more than hypothesising mischief making from the red-tops. Jenkinson has had a good season, Arsenal are down a first team right back, plus I’ve seen David Sullivan respond to a few West Ham fans on Twitter in the last few months about how the Jenkinson loan deal should probably be made permanent.

We know Arsène is a pragmatist and I would be very surprised if he decided to cut the loan short and throw in the towel so early in Jenkinson’s career. As long as you show willing and effort, Arsène always gives longer than most managers for his young players. Just look at how long Senderos was given before Wenger decided he was a busted flush. So I suspect they’ll be no decision made until the summer, whereby Arsène will take a call. One wonders if, now that Bellerin appears to be being used as the right back of choice, we won’t see him improve to a point at which he’s had 20 games under his belt by the end of the season and has improved in a similar way in which Coquelin has improved with game time over the last few weeks. If that is the case, then I expect Arsène to have his plans influenced on the future of Jenkinson, but if Bellerin isn’t able to step up in the coming months Arsène still has the option of sending him out on loan and bringing Jenkinson back into the fold to fight with Debuchy for a place in the team.

The only other stories that appear to have come out over the last 24 hours appear to be from both Walcott and Giroud, the latter of which has said that he models himself on Schevchenko, Jean Pierre Papin (what a player he was) and of course Thierry Henry. Ollie: if you could take a few pinches of each of those players’ footballing essence and sprinkle it over your maple and pecan crunch in the morning, that would be a-ok with me. Just try to avoid the Headbutty, will ya?

He’s shown an efficiency in front of goal this season that I think has been lacking in previous seasons. Last year he did well, but he was always slightly lacking in that ruthlessness to be one of the best in the league, I felt. I don’t know whether or not it’s got anything to do with the competition he’s now got, but he seems to have suddenly become a lot more effective in front of goal. When he’s been fit and not suspended that is.

Perhaps the same that pushed Szczesny to up his game last season, has also pushed Giroud to up his game too? The arrival of Welbeck would suggest his position is not 100% guaranteed and with the manager faced with other options like Theo and Alexis who could also (in theory) play through the middle, Giroud is probably looking at his situation as more precarious than it’s ever been.

It’s why I can kind of understand what Walcott is talking about when he mentions that our squad is probably better attacking-wise than he’s ever seen it. When Walcott arrived we had some amazing players, but they were the cream of the crop and once you got beyond the first two or three forwards, I always felt that we weren’t as strong in squad depth as we are today. There’s more competition for places today and as a result we might just be seeing the value of competition as it pushes players to be at their best, or fear losing their place.

Just a thought and a theory. What’s yours?

The completely false Bielik origin story

So it seems the deal to bring Krystian Bielik to Arsenal is all but completed and by some stage this weekend we’ll possibly get confirmation of it. Although we all know that Arsenal like to tease us by eeking out a transfer announcement, so don’t be surprised if it doesn’t happen until the middle of the week.

But, like many of you I’m sure, I know nothing of this young 17-year-old and so I thought I would bring about a public service to you. Like I said, I don’t know anything about this player and rather than doing some actual research on the phone internet, I thought I would completely make up his origin story for you today. So, here it is:

Krystian ‘Treebeard’ Bielik (nicknamed by his teammates because of his size and unhealthy obsession for the halflings leaf) was born in 1998 in a quiet suburb of Warsaw, to parents Penelope and Pietre who upon receiving young Krystian into the world, were immediately thrust into the public eye.

Having given birth to a 6ft baby and spending 682 hours in labour, Penelope was revered as a modern day marvel and Krystian was hailed as something of a marvel by the local people of Warsaw. Penelope – being only 3ft 6inches herself, was said to have shunned daylight in the months leading up to the pregnancy due to her near tripling of size in the final few months of labour.

Pietre – a natural showman and giant strongman for the local circus – was obviously delighted that his son had picked up his genes and was known at the time to remark to the local press in Poland that his son would “travel as the newest of the wonders of the world”. It was no secret that Pietre saw his sons life in the circus, following in the footsteps of giant strongmen that went back in the Bielik family as far as the early 19th century.

So the career path his son was to take, would certainly be a surprising one for Pietre, that’s for sure.

Krystian had a challenging childhood. Being so much more obviously taller than the other children in his school, Bielik found time in class an uncomfortable one, almost literally as his school could not afford any more full adult chairs than the ones the teachers had. So Krystian had to kneel for hours at a time on a typical school day. It was here that the beginnings of his combative defensive midfielder roots were formed.

Building on his obvious size, Krystian used an outlet for which he could be championed by his school and fellow students: sport. Beginning with single handedly winning the Polish under-8s national basketball championship, Bielik was able to secure funding for his small school to receive a Government grant that afforded them full sized equipment to accommodate their giant child. In addition, the school managed to upgrade all computer systems and even build a basketball court to hone young Krystian’s skills.

But although he enjoyed the adulation and continued to play basketball until he was 13, Kyrstian never truly fell in love with the game nor any sport, until a chance meeting with a travelling leper just after his 12th birthday. So local legend goes in Warsaw, that the leper only appears to those who appear to have everything but who harbour a deep-seated longing for something more. Named ‘Larry’ by the locals, the leper is said to be able to reach into ones heart and pull out the longing that the individual wants the most in the world, showing it to said individual and giving them purpose to achieve that goal buried deep in their subconscious.

For you see, at such a young age, poor Krystian just wanted to be like the other boys. He wanted to play the game the other boys played. He wanted to play football. That fateful day, Larry gave Krystian a golden football, telling him to practice with it alone every day for five hours. The leper told Krystian that his dreams could come true, but only if he practiced hard, by kicking the golden ball against a concrete wall and ensuring that wherever the ball rebounded, it would never fall behind him. “You must be like the wall Krystian”, said Larry. “You must be as unwavering and obstructive as the wall. Then, you will see your dreams come true.”

So Kyrstian did as Larry said. For three years. Every day. He mastered the art of stopping the ball get beyond him. He became as one with the wall. So much so, that the he local passers by used to remark that at times they could not recognise who was the human and who was the wall. So too did a scout out for a morning jog with his St Bernard one day. The scout was a former player from Legia Warsaw, who has always refused to be named in public. But this scout saw in Krystian the potential he has and reported back to his superiors of a boy with a golden ball in the suburbs of Warsaw who could match any of the other defensive midfielders the club could have.

The scout returned the next day, took Krystian back to Pietre and told him of his vision for his son: to become the greatest (and tallest) central defensive midfielder the world has ever seen.

“Will be travel the world and become one of its great wonders?” asked Pietre.

“He will” said the scout.

The rest, as they say, is history.

‘Classics’, kids and contracts

As we lurch ever closer to this weekend’s game against Moneychester City, the build up is already beginning by the media online, talking up ‘classics’ and how this weekend’s game will compare to encounters between the two games.

I have to say I don’t really remember too many ‘classics’, if I’m honest, because we were either dominant in beating a mid-table team at best, or we’ve been pretty much dominated since they were the second English winners of the football lottery, sponsored by Oil Whores Plc. Still, I suppose it fits a narrative for Sky to try and whip up expectation and viewing figures, I suppose.

We’ll no doubt hear about the squad availability from Arsène today, but I’m not sure when the full presser will be, given that it’s a Sunday game. It might still be tomorrow, but we’ll just have to wait with baited breath. A little bit like we’re waiting for some sort of transfer to be sorted for the problems of depth we currently face. Here’s a question: when does ‘baited breath’ becoming ‘holding your breath’? Because I’m sure there’s a few that would suggest avoiding doing that in terms of transfers.

There is one that is supposedly almost concluded and, when I asked The Management who she thought Arsenal might be about to announce as a signing, whilst not being able to name the person she did a pretty good job of getting the attributes right.
– A position where they don’t need to sign anybody
– A 17 year old who won’t make the first team
– foreigner

Two out of three ain’t bad, is it? It’s a worrying sign when even your loved ones can predict what sort of player the club are going to sign, and that player rarely ends up being what we need for the here and now.

Still, the club are active, the lad Bielik seems to be a hot prospect and one would imagine that there will be a need for him over the next couple of years as Arteta’s career begins to wind down and Flamini has another form of card created just because of referees overuse of the yellow one they bring out for him every game.

The club are active, that’s a positive, right? Yeah, definitely a positive. Definitely. We’ll definitely address our deficiencies within the next two weeks. Definitely.

Maybe.

Even if it’s just a loan.

Anyway, don’t crack Chris, because you’ve managed to avoid being sucked too deep into the transfer quagmire that is the January window thus far. Just two weeks to go.

For Poldi, it’s about four and a half months to go at Inter and, supposedly after telling the press about him wanting a little more respect from Arsène after his departure, he’s said that he’s not sure what his future will hold. He’ll return to Arsenal in the summer and find out, he says, but I think we all know (and he does too) that he will be finding a new club in the summer. Even if there was a chink of light at the end of the tunnel that is his Arsenal career, those words he spoke to the press will have hardly given Arsène any more desire to bring him back in the summer, will they?

That’s probably why I was so sceptical at first. I mean, why burn bridges at the club that still holds your contract, when you could end up going back there anyway? It’s a strange one. You don’t have to look far back into the Arsenal archives to see an example of a player who burned bridges, then ended up spending a season at the club because we were short of players in that position. It’s what happened last season when the ‘marriage of convenience’ was forged with Bendtner and Wenger. Bendtner had spent all summer telling everyone he was offski, had offers, didn’t want to be at The Arsenal, only to have his route blocked and end up having to spend a season as a man of last resort for Le Boss to call on. It wouldn’t surprise me at all for Podolski to have a similar situation in the summer if his time at Inter Milan is a hit. He’s on big wages and there are a lot of clubs that just can’t afford it.

There’s nothing else that’s really kicking around that I can see at the moment. Not related to the first team, anyway, as Benik Afobe never really got close to establishing himself at the club and I can understand why Arsenal and Wolves found it quite easy to come to an agreement over his signature. The player that they clearly want to try and tie down is Akpom, who has looked like he is being looked at by a number of clubs across Europe, and with his contract running out at the end of the season you can understand why he’s holding out to find out how close he thinks he can get to the first team. Unlike last season, where he would probably have been given more chances had he developed a year earlier, this season we’re quite well stocked in the attacking department. So if Akpom is finding his route to first team football a bit congested, you can understand his reluctance to sign on the dotted line. I suspect that will play out a bit more – possibly until the end of the season – where he might decide to move on. If the club really do expect big things from him though, we’ll know soon enough as they’d probably spend a few bob to try to keep him.

See thee tomorrow, my wonderful friends.

Thierry’s award; waiting for the school bell

It’s The Management’s birthday today, which means much celebrations are in order and a decent slice of cake at some stage, I’m sure. It’s all pretty rosy in the Arsenal garden too, isn’t it? One thing that is positive about not having a midweek game is that the post victory warmth that washes over you for at least 24 hours, should remain in place for at least another day or two. I hope so, anyway, because the weekend’s game will just fill me with dread. But we won’t go there. Not just yet.

Instead, let’s give praise and appreciation that justice was done last night, with the awarding of the Ballon D’or. Nope, not that Cristiano won it, because that was obvious. Instead, that Thierry had his hands on the award. There was that time around the Invincibles era that he was the world’s best player and everyone knew it. He should have won every trophy and just for being Thierry Henry, they should have just given it to him anyway yesterday, not that I’m biased in any way, shape or form, you understand.

Stranger things have happened than that though; they happened yesterday with the announcement that David Luiz was in the FIFPro Team of the Year. Having had a quick scout around social media and media websites yesterday and today, you can tell that the world thinks it too. Luiz wasn’t even the best central defender at Chelski, so how on earth he was voted as one of the best defenders in the world is beyond me. So yeah, giving Thierry the trophy yesterday would not have been the biggest shock of the day.

Arsenal specific news is relatively thin on the ground today. But do you know what? I really don’t mind that. There’s plenty of player comments and superlatives thrown at Alexis, but I’ve already dished out my quota of Alexis love this week, so there’s no point regurgitating my waxy lyricalness on you on a Tuesday morning, is there?

It’s that time of the season where most news is replaced by transfer tittle-tattle and, if I’m completely honest, I can’t be arsed. I’ve done it a million times i.e. Checking NewsNow, making a comment on how good a player would be at Arsenal, suggesting how he’d fit in, then having the link dismissed by the manager come Friday’s presser. And I’m fine with that. I’ve learned that you need to sit quietly and wait for any announcement, like a school child waiting patiently for the 3.25pm bell at the end of the day. You can bemoan that the bell isn’t earlier, even cite the fact that other schools knock off for the day at 3.15pm, but it won’t do you any good, you can’t change things, so you need to just accept them. Besides, those kids in other schools are scummers anyway, so you’re far better off just sitting and waiting patiently like me. It’ll be worth it. Maybe.

One deal that looks to be all but done and dusted is Yaya Sanogo to Crystal Palace. It’ll be an interesting one for him, particularly if Pardieux plays a similar style to the one he played against the Spuds, with pacy wide men Puncheon and Gayle (or Zaha) flanking a centralised target man. It’s similar in a way to how we play with our 4-2-3-1 formation and I can understand why Arsène would want to push through that move, assuming it happens. He clearly rates Sanogo highly – despite the clear lack of goals to his game to date – and keeping him in London with a team that could potentially play a bit more football than other sides in the league, is a good move for all concerned. Whether Sanogo gets enough game time upon the return of the amazingly gifted Chamakh (can you smell the sarcasm?) remains to be seen!

Other than that it’s unsurprisingly quiet. After all, we’ve got two weeks before the last second scramble to loan a 30-year-old journeyman defender on loan from , so there’s probably no point looking at the January window. I used to check Sky Sports three times a day dontcha know? Now they’ll be lucky to get me once a week. Take that you click whoring bar stewards.

Anyway, nothing more for me to say other than: Didn’t Messi once say he’d probably only play for Arsenal if he played for anyone in England?

Cheerio.

Searching where we need; Santiago the Spanish Prince

So it appears as though the club are finally shifting gears in the transfer market, with Legia Warsaw publicly announcing that they have rejected a bid from us for their highly rated youngster Krystian Bielik, no doubt in an attempt to sound out other teams and engage in a bidding war. Whether or not that is enough to have Arsène and co. running for the hills remains to be seen, but it is perhaps positive that the club are looking to strengthen.

But perhaps most shockingly of all, he plays in a position in which we actually need cover for, as a defensive midfielder. Now, I’m not going to suggest that he’s a player that can saunter straight into the first team, as he would clearly be earmarked as a long-term successor to Arteta. But at least we’re going after defensive midfielders. You never know, we might even be able to muster enough courage to pick up a defender in this transfer window, rather than our usual tactic of buying players where we already have an abundance of talent (anybody for a Sissoko?). You there at the back, stop laughing…

So at least there’s been some early movement there. Now, let’s park the shitefest that is the transfer window, taking some time to admire a certain Santiago Cazorla, who I think has a first name that has been massively underused since his arrival to this country. It makes him sound like a Spanish Prince who will come and steal your wife with his good looks, tall and strapping physique and long, flowing hair. Thankfully, he has none of those physical attributes, but he is a remarkable footballer and has stepped up in a big way since we had The Great Arsenal Injury Crisis of 2014. Which was way worse than The Great Arsenal Injury Crisis of 2013. Or 2012. Or 2011. Or perhaps it wasn’t. Perhaps it should be renamed The Annual Great Arsenal Injury Crisis?

Anyway, I’m digressing my main point, which is to heal much of the praise I have for today onto our diminutive Spaniard, who has been a revelation over the last month to six weeks. He has relished his role as the ‘Playmaker-In-Chief’ and has been central to the good football we have seen (in patches) since the beginning of December. The way in which he has been able to find those killed balls in behind defences has been joyous to watch and on top of that, he’s also added more of a goal threat to his play, which has spread the burden away from Alexis and the other forwards.

With a host of players returning over the next few weeks, including a certain Turko-German number 10, it will be pleasing for Arsène to know that he has options and in-form players that mean that it won’t be easy for Mesut to win his place back.

It’s the same with Theo. The form of Alexis and the role that Giroud plays, effectively means that Walcott is fighting with The Ox, Welbeck and to a lesser extent Campbell, so whilst he gives us something that others do not – direct running in behind defenders with great pace – we’ve already seen that he’s not going to be fast-tracked into the first team and his inclusion from the start is far from a foregone conclusion. Arsène has already said post-Hull, that the fans should not expect too much from Walcott, having been out for so long. But perhaps it is a positive sign that I look at our forward options and I have less of a concern or pressing desperation to see Theo thrown in and banjaxed so quickly because we’ve had to rush him back.

Hey, perhaps this will show Arsène that when you have enough cover in certain positions, you don’t have to rush players back or run them into the ground because there are no other options? Nah, you’re right, probably not.

Anyway, that’ll do for one days incessant rambling, I think. See thee tomorrow.