Big Brother household – Cech saga style; upsetting the harmony isn’t something Arsene will do

Day (what feels like) 72 in the Big Petr Cech House and, much like the social experiment TV programme that nobody bothers watching any more because everyone’s realised that the inhabitants do absolutely nothing at all, there’s nothing going on in the Petr Cech Saga. No new spins. No fresh angles. Just a quick article on Sky Sports explaining why Arsenal need Petr Cech and why he would be good for Arsenal. Stop…the..presses… In other news, the sky is blue, the grass in my garden is green and putting your head in an oven when it’s on full blast might just cause you some discomfort.

Cech will be good for us. He is better than what we have. That’s pretty much all we need to know. He’ll most likely make saves other ‘keepers in our current squad would struggle to get to, he’d be a more commanding presence in the box than the others and he comes with a big reputation. It ticks all the boxes. Now we just need to tick Chelski’s, with probably an extra nought added on if Jose has anything to do with the deal.

The non-Arsenal transfer news of the day is Kondogbia to Inter Milan. Yep, Ben warned me about declaring my hand and desires so early in the summer, and it seems I should have heeded his advice because my expressions of desire for him to play in an Arsenal shirt have clearly led to the footballing fates deciding that I cannot have what I want. Or, to put it another way, Arsene is not sure that he’s the type of player we need. Sure, he was a beast against us in the Champions League at the Emirates, but one swallow does not a summer make, eh? But what about if it’s a really really hot day? No? Ok then.

It is a testimony to the evolution of Francis Coquelin that the Arsenal Twitterverse hasn’t exploded into a ball of molten fury, ready to unleash all of its social angst and outrage on the wider world. But as it is the masses appear to be by and large abated, perhaps still revelling from the FA Cup win, satisfied with a season rescued by the form in 2015, coupled with the distraction of the Cech deal. I too feel that we need more depth in that ‘ball winning’ part of our team, but it is not as simple as ‘buy player x’, because the club need to move players on too. With so many of us that lamented the ‘deadwood’ of four years ago, isn’t it prudent of the club to ensure it balances the squad in a way in which the irons are in the fire being shuffled to make room? I think so. One of Flamini and Arteta surely do not have a future at the club and I would imagine the transfer negotiation team are working as hard on the ‘outs’ as they are on the ‘ins’.

There is a balance to be struck because spunking £25million on a player who may not even start based on Coquelin’s form is a tough one. Yet there needs to be a decent enough calibre of player who can rival the young Frenchman. That’s why I have a feeling that despite all of the noises about Schneiderlin, we aren’t after him, or any player in that ‘elite’ price tag. I have a feeling Arsene will try to go under the radar to pick up an understudy to Coquelin. I have no real basis for that inclination, nor can I offer you any kind of action from the club that suggests it, I can only give you what I have seen happen over many years of supporting Arsenal and knowing that Arsene spends a lot of time worrying about harmony and balance of his squad. Throwing in a £25million player in defensive midfield might be something we’re all keen on, but it will upset the apple cart with regards to our Spanish Captain, Coquelin and probably Flamini. You’d be right in exclaiming “tough. We need better players and it’s a cold world out there”, but whilst Arsene appears to be doing that with the ‘keepers, I just don’t see it happening in two positions this summer. It’s why I’m also not convinced we’ll land a megabucks striker. Arsene has plenty of players in those positions and if Walcott signs on for another three to four years, Wenger will feel he has enough to have a go with what he’s got.

And do you know what? With a world class ‘keeper in between the sticks, I think we’ve got a very strong squad that can compete. Ideally I’d love another ball winning defensive midfielder, but I think we’re good enough to compete.

Ticking the boxes in Cech saga; rolling back the transfer clock

A Quick mosey around the online football world and what do you know? More ‘angles’ on the Cech deal. Surely it’s all reaching its inevitable conclusion now, right? I mean we’ve had the discussions between the clubs over a fee already poured over to the nth degree, the wages have been laid out bare for everyone to see and the whole world seems to know that Cech is on his way, but we were still waiting on former player mistakenly tweets something.

Thankfully we’ve now ticked that box, with former Arsenal full back (Ralph) Lauren telling the world that Cech was signing and it was a good move. Well that’s it now, right? Right? After all, Ralph has spoken and we all know that he’s Arsene’s right hand man, who regularly speaks to Le Boss and plays the role of confidante on the most intimate of Arsene’s Arsenal thoughts.

Or, to put it another way, he’s an ex-Arsenal player who knows about as much as you and I and therefore was just tweeting a message of what he thought would be a good signing when it happens. That doesn’t stop the media from going nuts though, eh? Anything for a bit of click-baiting.

Still, it could be worse. They could be really trying to pull an Arsenal transfer rabbit out of a hat by declaring that Jack Wilshere’s future is still up in the air amid interest from Moneychester City. This despite the fact that Jack has repeatedly stated that he wanted to stay at Arsenal, was referred to by Ivan as “one of you” at a recent Q&A and has also been told be Arsene Wenger – who has also told us through the official site – that he is not for sale. Yet still these rumours persist. I wonder if Moneychester City are compiling a list of transfer enquiries of English players so they can go to the Premier League and FA and say “Look, we tried, but nobody was willing to sell, which is why we had to go out and spend £99million on Paul Pogba”. If so it’s an interesting ploy, although I don’t think it will wash with the football authorities.

What will wash will be to develop your own players and stop spunking large amounts of cash on the ‘here and now’. Micah Richards is a perfect example. People say his career has stagnated over the last couple of years, but I never saw a player whose career stagnated. I saw a player who the newly incoming manager – Pellegrini – just didn’t fancy, so he marginalised Richards and eventually went for a free transferred Bacary Sagna. How’s that working for you now, anyway, Bac? If Moneychester City want to up their home-grown quota, they should try and adopt a more pragmatic approach. Or do what we’ve done and get them so young that by the time they hit he first team they’ll be home-grown players anyway!

Then they need to get themselves a nice pre-season tournament with which to give the fans a quick glimpse of a potential player before never seeing them again until the following season. I do love the Emirates Cup. Not enough to actually buy a ticket mind, but it does allow us to see a selection of young players and wonder whether there will be any that can Bellerin their way into the first team by way of a bit of a surprise. The details are now on the official site for the tournament in which we’ll see Bendtner line up for Wolfsburg and get to have a look at Lyon. Last year I looked at the teams in it and thought it was one we’d probably win hands down, but Valencia and Monaco took it a bit more seriously than we did and we ended up finishing third I think. I wasn’t really paying that much attention if I’m honest. The important thing was to see players like Falcao look brilliant before United got their mits on him and ruined him. Now it’s Chelski’s turn so let’s hope they Schevchenko him good and proper.

We could have a bit of a talk about the rumours of Carvalho from Sporting Lisbon, but I don’t feel I have the energy or inclination. Are the media websites that devoid of anything concrete that they have to step back in time a summer or two? Will we see the re-emergence of M’Villa? Hope not. Still, it’s better to be linked with farcical players than to list all of the players who have ‘rejected’ us. Really Benedikt? Did we come calling and yet you decided that Schalke and less money (because let’s face it, like it or not, our footballers in this country are paid way more than in German by and large) is a better option than Arsenal and Champions League football? Or could it be that Arsenal made a tentative enquiry and now you’re getting all excited and telling the world you were wanted by them before choosing to stay where you are? Hmm? I thought so. Back in your box boyo.

And I shall come out of mine. For the sun is out and there is more of the Algarve to explore.

Until tomorrow.

Arsenal’s PR offensive is still good for the fans; Dennis’ legacy remembered

It’d be nice to be able to talk up the fact that Ivan said yesterday in a fans Q & A that we’re going to sign Player x, Player Y is in the bag and Player Z was just waiting behind a pop-up banner to appear like a Sol Campbell from nowhere, but the reality of the sessions like yesterday (which also featured Ian Wright by the sounds of it on perfect form), are that it is simply a way of the club to show that they are listening. Kind of like when people deliver petitions to Downing Street, or write letters to people in power. They know that what they write is going to most likely fall on deaf ears, but at least they have an opportunity to do it and at least the club do show that they’re willing to have these sessions.

It’s good PR. Think about how wrong Newcastle are doing it at the moment by not talking to fans, banning some sections of the media to pressers and generally turning the whole world against them. So whilst I’m a bit of a cynic when it comes to the answers from each Q & A, I’m glad we have them as a club. It’s sort of like fighting for the right to vote then defending the right of somebody to abstain from actually voting because they don’t believe in the candidates that are up for election.

There was no flat denial about Petr Cech, but then again there was no denial about Messi, Ronaldo, the Ghost of Christmas Past or Jesus, so I don’t really think we can read too much in to it. That’s what the press spend most of their time doing, with Jeremy Wilson from the Telegraph looking to put his slant on the Cech ‘saga’ by proclaiming that Arsenal are about to make the Czech ‘keeper the highest paid stopper in Arsenal’s history. It’s fairly obvious that if the deal does get over the line Petr will be the highest paid goalkeeper we’ve ever had. What with inflation, plus our improved financial situation, etc, Arsenal were hardly going to dust off the accounts book from 1990 and see how much Big Dave Seaman earned when he joined the club, are they? Still, at least it’s something new to talk about and Wilson will have received sufficient clicks from transfer salivating Arsenal fans like you and I, so he’s done his job in the most part.

So with there nothing more to talk about in modern-day Arsenal (and I don’t really count the Thierry Henry comments about Alexis having the ‘X Factor’ to Arsenal. It’s kind of an obvious thing that we’ve all seen – and spoken about – ourselves over the duration of the season), I thought I’d delve into the inner recesses of my mind and have a word or two to say about Dennis Bergkamp, the Dutch master who changed us forever.

He did change us, didn’t he? He was the beginning of the transition from ‘boring, boring Arsenal’ the industrious and well-drilled team of the late 80s and early 90s, to the ‘sexy football’ of the late 90s under Arsene Wenger. When Le Boss arrived as manager for the first time and had a look at his squad, he must have pinched himself for good luck after seeing what Dennis could do. The guy was majestic. He could see things that others could not. A pass, a through ball, a little dink, a run of another player, he knew automatically what his teammates could do and he was possibly the best £7.5million we spent. It’s hard to imagine that it was 20 years ago to this day that we signed him from Inter Milan. I still remember it. I was playing football outside the front of my house and my father – not really a footballing man – came out from the front door and said “Arsenal have signed two players”. I rushed inside to see that Bergkamp and Platt had signed and it was like Christmas in summer. It was brilliant. I couldn’t wait to see them both in action the following season.

We all look at Bruce Rioch’s reign at Arsenal and see it as an unsuccessful one, but we should all give thanks to the former Bolton manager for bringing those two players to the club. It was the most positive part of his legacy. I was recounting on Twitter with some friends the last game of the season I saw in his first season at the club. I was offered some tickets for my Dad and I to sit in the North Bank and see us potentially qualify for Europe if we could beat Bolton. It was one of those games that just looked like it was going to frustrate and I remember us being 1-0 down with minutes ticking away when Dennis was involved in the first goal for Arsenal to score – I think it might even have been Platt – then to unleash an absolute thunderbolt in to the top hand corner to win us the game and make it 2-1. That was Dennis. It may have ‘only been Bolton’, but it was a big game and he stepped up and smashed us into the UEFA Cup. Which of course, was a proper trophy back in those days!

He went on to become a legend. A player with whom we all sing songs about, recall with a smile and thank Arsenal that they bought somebody like that in to our lives.

We are lucky to be fans of such a great club.

Giving away an Arsenal ‘keeper puppy

Bit of a mega-delayed post today and, believe it or not, it’s not got anything to do with my concoction of Sagres, Vinho Verde and fine ruby Port I drunk yesterday. My Wi-Fi was being a little temperamental so I had to come away and come back again. Such is life I suppose.

The big ‘what if’ for today still surrounds the Petr Cech deal, but with Tony Roberts leaving the club for Lukas Fabianski’s Swansea, which would suggest a bit of shuffle is being made in the goalkeeping department. All the talk has been around Cech and his relationship with his goalkeeping coach Christophe Lollichon, so if the club are on the verge of the deal then they need to make space, so it would seem that this is a pre-cursor to some good news. It does mean that Gerry Peyton is still hanging around the training ground, but I’m sure he’ll be quickly shunted out the door when the situation becomes more clear.

I do find it amusing that the players are so powerful now, that they can dictate who is their goalkeeping coaches. If Fabianski can bring in Roberts and Cech can bring in Lollichon, who else is defining their coaching staff? It seems to be a ‘keeper isolated role. Maybe that’s because goalkeepers are a different breed to anyone else. “You don’t understand what it’s like to be stuck in between those nets boss, so I need to be able to pick my own team”. Alright diva ‘keeper, whatever.

The loser in this particular story should it become true, is a certain David Ospina, who it appears is attracting interest from Turkey. It’s a curious case, is this one, because Ospina has never truly convinced anybody it seems. Sure, he’s got a great chant (which seems to be cheesing more people off now though, actually), but his couple of shaky moments towards the end of the season only added fuel to those people unconvinced by him in general. Was it that he had no neck? Was it his height or, more importantly, lack of? Or was it where he had come from? £3million from Nice in France is hardly the type of marquee signing that haad everybody screaming “the title is ours!”. I seem to recall that everybody – me included – was quite happy with the deal last summer. Competition for Szczesny that would kick him on another level. So for things to swing so dramatically over the course of a season seems a little unnerving in my opinion.

If Cech does sign do we all think he won’t make the odd mistake? Because let’s face it, all goalkeepers do. Even Courtois had an occasional rick last season. David De Gea looked like a more fair headed Almunia at times in his first season. Yet they are regarded as the league’s best. Cech will make mistakes and how will we react? Better than when Ospina made a mistake? Why? Because he cost us over £10million and has a reputation? Seems a bit odd to me.

All this is to say that although I agree getting Cech in is the right move and certainly an upgrade, I do feel a bit sorry for poor old Dave, should this happen. He worked hard to establish himself as number one in the latter part of the season and now he stands on the precipice surrounded by Arsenal fans looking to push him off the edge.

I watched a 30 second video earlier of Ospina’s mistakes. One of them was him clattering in to Oscar and another was of him slicing the ball out of play whilst under intense pressure from an attacker. It’s hardly a litany of errors that leaves Arsene with no choice.

But perhaps this is just life? We need a squad with the best possible players available and if Cech is available and willing to sign, then harsh decisions need to be made. Like if your dog has puppies and you have to give them away. You might not want to, but it’s not practical to keep them all, so you have to make a tough decision. Arsene’s tough decision is Szczesny or Ospina. Given Szczesny is a home grown player, younger and perhaps Arsene sees more potential in him, then it is a natural selection choice. Whether Szczesny will accept being a number two having been first choice for the last few years (the second half of this last season gone by being the exception) remains to be seen, but we’ll soon find out I suppose.

Anyway, that’s me done for another day. There’s a Q&A with Ivan tonight, so I’m sure he’ll announce every single iron in the Arsenal fire that is out there, giving us full access to Arsene’s thoughts on transfers, etc. After all, he’s always answered those transfer questions in the past, hasn’t he?

Fixture lists are only relevant because of personal circumstances

Greetings to you and yours from a sunny Portugal. It’s a bit of R&R for me and the Management for the next week and a half, so apologies if the timing of blogs is a bit sporadic, because it will most likely depend on my blood/Sagres beer levels as to how quickly I can rouse myself from my slumber.

As it’s the start of me holibobs though and The Management is sound asleep, I decided to get up a little earlier and have a look at the Arsenal website, where of course we now have the news about the fixtures for the start of the 2015/16 season. Now, I could go through each month and give you some thoughts on how we’re going to get on, but what’s the point in that? If we’re going to try to win this league then it doesn’t really matter when we play teams, as long as we beat them.

Sure, there are often mitigating factors that can give you a hand – for example you don’t really want to be playing all of the top teams back-to-back or after a Champions League or cup game, but that’s the reason Arsene has built a squad he feels comfortable with, so he can shuffle his pack a little if needs be. And I think he will do more shuffling again like he did last season, compared to the season before, because there is more competition and better players than ever before. Players seem to be lining up one after another to talk up the belief in the squad and how they are all happy with the FA Cup and it’s great n’all, but it’s not enough for them. It’s a bit of mind-change from last season, where the rhetoric was very much “yay! we won the cup!”. So we can all be pleased that mentally at least the players are gearing up for this to be a season they want us to take advantage of.

Anyway, back to them there fixtures and, having had a scan across for any death runs, there doesn’t appear to be too much that would get one a little concerned because even some of the bigger games are at least one other game spaced apart. That’s a good thing. If we stumble in a big game, it will mean our propensity to go into another big game lacking a little bit of confidence could be negated by winning a subsequent ‘smaller’ game. N.B. the inevitable “No small/easy games in the Premier League” clichéd remark goes as standard with that statement, obviously.

For me, the fixture list is less so about looking for who we’re playing and predicting what sort of run we’re going to go on, more about which teams that I have some other family connection with are coming around and whether or not I will be missing games and therefore missing out when teams come to the Emirates or when I usually go away to watch The Arsenal. So my key games and requirements usually are:

1. Don’t want to play West Ham at home when I’m going to be with my brother. He’s a West Ham fan.

2. Don’t really want a “massive” game on or around my birthday. Winning it is great but when we lose it just adds to the woes that I’m a year older.

3. Don’t want Arsenal to play either Newcastle or Sunderland away from home if I’m on holiday or the suchlike. The Management has family up in the North East and we always go to visit them when those games are on.

4. Don’t want us to be at home on Boxing Day if I’m going up North for Christmas. It means I miss another game.

So, how do you think I faired?

1. I have a stag weekend for my cousin on Saturday 8th August. My brother and I will both be in attendance.

2. My birthday is on 6th November. We play the Spuds on 7th November.

3. I have a family holiday to Portugal booked in for Sunday 30th August. It will be an early flight, so the trip to the North East is out.

4. We are away to Southampton on Boxing Day. Huzzah!

So essentially the Premier league probably heard my prayers and decided that I can only have 25% of them answered. Well thanks a million Richard Scudamore. I’m holding you personally responsible for all of this. Don’t you know people have lives to plan around going to watch The Arsenal?

Still, perhaps I shouldn’t complain too much, because upon regaling The Management with my plight, I was able to secure a guarantee that we’ll be heading up north to Manchester for the two away games there, so every cloud and all that.

The transfer balderdash for today still seems to centre around different people giving their opinion on Petr Cech to Arsenal. Bor-ring! Can we have some new stuff please? Oh, we have? Higuain not going anywhere? right….Moneychester City turning their focus towards Jack Wilshere? doubtful……the only thing that makes sense about that transfer is that City could afford to let Jack make the most obvious statements of facts to get fined all the time. £40k for saying the ‘S’ word, eh? Good job the FA don’t run the country, otherwise the national debt would be ten times that of the Greeks.

That is pretty much it. It’s all relatively quiet which, if I’m honest with you, I’m quite content with. It helps that I’m not at work needing to occasionally refresh assorted football news websites to see if anything is happening though.

Anyway, time to put this pasty white skin out in to that big fiery ball in the sky to see if I melt. Catch you tomorrow.

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.

Jack to make his own position at Arsenal?

It’s the first of a two day week for me, before I disappear off into the distant and sunny shores of Portugal for ten days, so you’d hope that Arsenal could grant me a bit of news, right?

Wrong. The only real talking point on the official site is Aaron Ramsey’s goal of the season against Galatasaray. What a strike that was, eh? He’s been quoted as saying it’s one of the best goals he’s ever scored and from a ‘purity of strike’ perspective, it’s hard to imagine. On his weaker foot, from about 30 to 35 yards, it was one of those that was scored from the second the ball departed from the Welsman’s laces. A fitting and worthy goal of the season winner, in a season where we’ve certainly had our fair share of them.

Perhaps Jack checked in on the official website for some inspiration yesterday, because he decided that he’d get his England goalscoring account underway with two absolute pearlers against the Slovenian’s yesterday. I didn’t watch the game (why would I? It’s England) yesterday, but I did hunt out his goals afterwards and with those two notched up along with the one against West Brom at the end of the season, has Jack found his range all of a sudden?

It’s a shame we have to wait until August to find out, but since he returned to injury towards the end of 2014/15, he has looked to have an extra bit of spark in his game. He’s displayed some very effective cameo appearances when coming on in the final weeks of the season and when he has started he’s been good for both club and country. With Jack there has always been a question as to whether he can shake off what has become a bit of an ‘injury prone’ tag, but having seen what we’ve all seen from him over the last month/six weeks, my thoughts are moving away from ‘can he stay fit’ and more towards ‘who does he replace to secure a first team spot?’.

I put a thought out on Twitter last night about whether Jack could eventually replace Santi in midfield. Cazorla has reinvented himself as an excellent deep-lying playmaker and his vision and ability to see a pass where others cannot means that it’s worked well for him sitting alongside Le Coq. But he’s 31 now I believe and although I have no desires to see him moved on in any way, shape, or form, I do wonder if there is an opportunity for Jack to take that role.

What does he need to improve on in terms of replacing Santi though? Well, his ability to pick a pass as consistently as the little Spaniard, would certainly be one area. The question I intimated online was whether or not ‘vision’ or the ability to spot a pass is something that can be taught, or whether it is natural, to which the next question in relation to Jack is whether he already has that in his locker. I think – and some also concurred via social media too – that he does, but it is more a question as to whether he can ever do it on a regular basis. In his defence (again, as was pointed out to me via social media), Cazorla has a few years on Jack in terms of honing his radar, so there is time for him to develop. But if he wants to be the type of world-beater we all think he can be, then he’s going to need to up his consistency levels fairly soon, because Arsenal are the type of club now who can’t afford to blood a player in the hope he reaches the highest high.

Another train of thought that came from my discussion was whether he needs to replace Santi as a like-for-like at all? After all, he has different attributes and can carve his own style on the team if he is good enough and has enough impact. Footballers should not be shoehorned into certain types of positional demographics. Sometimes you have players that evolve their own position in a team and do so because they are effective, contribute successfully for the team and occasionally you get one player lucky enough to have the team built around them. 

Gone are the days when footballers are pigeon-holed into a 4-4-2 formation. Fifteen years ago I’d never heard the phrase ‘defensive midfielder’, ‘deep lying playmaker’ or ‘false nine’, so maybe there’s a position out there for Jack to carve his own?

Who knows. Certainly not me. That’s why I’ve just busted out half a dozen paragraphs or so and still haven’t really come to any concrete conclusion. What I do know, however, is that we have a very talented midfielder who could be on the brink of something very good indeed.