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.

Transparency on contracts helps everyone, Theo

It’s a start to a new working week for me and, with the players touching down on UK soil within the next day or two (I’m sorry, I don’t keep a GPS signal on their movements, I’m afraid), the countdown to the start of the Premier League will begin.

I’m also led to believe that Theo will sign his new deal but, having heard him speak about it over the last day or so, it appears we may see a bit of a dragging out of the contract situation. 

He’s giving plenty of positive vagueries about his situation which sound like they’re in place to keep everyone guessing for the immediate future. The first time around that this happened we all knew the score; Walcott had seen plenty of his fellow top level stars depart over a number of seasons, he’d become one of the big names and wanted a bumper deal to stay. He dressed up the whole ‘I want to play as a central striker’ thing as a bit of a smokescreen, but given that has happened few and far between, yet he still signed the deal in the end, I’d go as far to suggest the power of an extra ‘0’ helped shape his decision making.

And it’s because of what transpired last time that at least we’re all well aware of what could happen. So if Walcott’s camp do drag out this particular saga, then we’ll know what will happen up until about January next year.

But here’s the thing: we don’t feel as vulnerable this time. This doesn’t feel like a situation which, if it all turns a little sour, will be to the extreme detriment of the club. Not like last time. Last time we’d been dragged through the contract extension brambles on our backsides and it was all a bit stingy and raw. We’d had Nasri and That Dutch Bloke who played the game that we ultimately lost. But this time we have a new batch of stars who have even managed to keep Theo out since he returned from injury. Don’t want to sign a new deal lad? That’s no problem, but we’ll just see how we get on without you for a while, just in case. If that’s alright?

The back end of last season saw Theo’s camp talking through the press about him wanting to sign, but needing more reassurances that he will play, because at the time he wasn’t even getting a look in. That’s the kind of comments I’d expect from any player who isn’t playing and it made sense. But suddenly the comments about playing centrally don’t appear to be there. Suddenly it doesn’t matter that he doesn’t play centrally, as long as he plays?

It’s all a game. That’s all that this situation shows to us all. It’s a game to maximise the financial returns of the players and agents. But hey, I understand that, you understand that, we’ve all come to accept it. So why does everyone continue with the masquerade that it’s anything else? Let’s all just bring it out in the open and be honest with each other. Theo wants more money, Arsenal see his value as £x, which means until the two parties meet in the middle there will continue to be this stand off.

For my part I’d love Theo to stay. He’s a goal scorer, he has attributes in the team that others do not, plus he always comes across as a decent bloke both on and off the field. I’d rather he stayed with Arsenal, but if he decided the moolah is greener on another patch of grass, then so be it.

dominant Arsenal display and selection based on opposition – love it

First bit of silverware of the season sorted. Lifting the Barclays Asia Trophy is apparently a good omen for a team as both City and Chelski have clinched the pre-season friendly competition in the past, so whilst we have to take such superstitions with a pinch of salt, as this is a time in the year in which hopes are high and expectations are higher we can certainly read more in to this victory. Heck, I’m chalking it down as a cast iron guarantee of a marker that we’re winning the Premier League next season.

The side Arsène put out was a strong one too, with Cech making his debut alongside a back four of Gibbs, Chambers, Koscielny and Bellerin. In front of them Arsène opted for a Santi-Rambo midfield and Özil floating in his usual number 10 role. Having talked up Jack as a wide man he played with Theo and Giroud up top and I have to say it was a pleasing and utterly dominant performance. Whether or not that is because we have players that are further ahead in their preparations than Everton, or whether or not the fact it was essentially a home game given the amount of support we had compared to Everton, I don’t know. 

What we do know, however, is that Arsenal looked in control and very confident against a Premier League opposition who have always caused us a few headaches. Santi was in sparkling form as the deep lying playmaker and his goal was one of jinky delightfulness, weaving his way one way, then the next. He was the man with which a lot of the good stuff flowed and it augurs well for the season ahead that we have him looking like he’s in such good form.

I found it interesting that Arsène decided against having Coquelin sitting in front of the back four yesterday and whilst we can’t read too much in to a pre-season friendly, I hope this is the start of us seeing Arsène pick his first eleven based on the strengths of our team in countering the strengths of other opponents. If we’re playing Moneychester City away, for example, you just know that we’re going to have to do a lot more defending than an Everton or Stoke away. So it makes sense to set your team up to negate the oppositions strong points by playing somebody like Coquelin in games where you might have somebody like David Silva set up to run the show.

Yesterday Everton were on the back foot from the start and so sitting a defensive midfielder alongside a back four who are having little to do is a bit of a pointless exercise. So with all of Santi, Rambo, Jack and Mesut in the starting XI, we were able to control possession more and dominate the ball in the middle of the park as well as the zone in front of the attacking players.

The other goals we scored were an indication of Theo’s sharpness but also him at his best; running in behind defenders and finishing quickly. That’s what we missed for a lot of last season and that’s what I think we’ll see more of next season. Should Walcott stay fit of course.

Mesut’s goal was perhaps an indication that he is going to find himself in more forward lying positions this season and is going to try and take his chances more, with a good finish inside the box.

Overall we have to be happy with the game and although it had the air of a pre season friendly, we still dominated and did what was needed, so we’ve got to be glad of that. What should also be filling you with excitement is the depth of the squad too. Yesterday’s starting XI was missing Monreal, Mertesacker, Gabriel, Debuchy, Coquelin, Arteta, Rosicky, Welbeck, Alexis, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Gnabry. We have such depth that it really is quite staggering and it’s why I’m really not stressing too much over the summer about transfers. And neither should you. Let’s enjoy this time. Next week we go for trophy number 2, The Emirates Cup!

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.

Switching off to the press talk

Happy Saturday to you and yours. Me and mine are spending it doing the square root of naff all, on account of an impending venture to the Algarve next week. There’s a haircut, new house key cut and potentially a bit of back garden lawn cut, but that’s about it.

In Arsenal land, the only cutting that might take place is the possibility of Arsenal’s approved agent list length taking a bit of a cull, after it was announced that Arsenal are going to be charged for the Calum Chambers deal last summer. I don’t know the technicalities, but it appears Arsenal are convinced they acted in the proper way and for a club who always prides itself on doing things properly, it is a little bit of a surprise. 

What this will mean I’m not quite sure, but I suspect a fine and a bit of a slap on the wrist is the most likely outcome. From the footballing side it’s unlikely that the player will face any kind of punishment; the players are rarely involved in any kind of element of any deal that goes through – they leave it to their agent – so it’s not as if he’s going to have his FA Cup medal stripped from him and told to go back to Southampton and forget that his Arsenal adventure ever happened.

It’s a murky world, is the world of transfer dealings, in which i suspect no party is ever really innocent. 

The rest of the Arsenal guff at the moment centres around the international games, as well as transfer stuff, most of which we’ve heard before. I do wonder how creative the hacks will get in order to re-word the same story again and again. Cech is off to Arsenal, you see. Arsenal are on the verge of signing Cech. The Cech deal edges closer. Arsenal are on the brink of an international ‘keeper arriving. Yawn. How about we try a new thing of not mentioning him until he either a) arrives at the club, or b) goes somewhere else. That works for me and probably most Arsenal fans around the world.

The same can be said for contract negotiations with existing players. Just wake me up when it’s signed, Theo, would you? I’m not interested in the protracted nature of any agreement. I just want to know if you’ll be an Arsenal player for another three to four years and if so, sign your deal and start to worry about how to get back in to the Arsenal side on a regular basis. You’re a good player and I’d love you to stay, but if I’m honest all of this posturing is getting on my wick a bit.

I suppose I have Arsène to thank for my increased apathy levels over the Walcott situation. After all, he went out and strengthened us to a point where if Walcott left we’d have plenty of other players to fill his boots from both a goalscoring and pace perspective, so this current contract ‘saga’ is bit more like a contract ‘minor distraction’ this summer.

Much too like the rumours of Wilshere’s potential exit. Any time I see any kind of newspaper article looking to explore that particular avenue, I usually ignore it completely, because I can’t see either party – Arsenal or Wilshere – offloading. Earlier in the season Arsène went to great lengths to try and accommodate a Wilshere/Ramsey midfield, such is the clear affection he has for both, so I don’t see him handing over Jack to one of hogue oil whores so they can fulfil a quota. Yes he needs to try and get better at avoiding injury and yes he needs an extended run in the team, but I think if he stays fit then Arsène will give him that, especially if he continues to look as sharp as his cameo appearances suggested at the end of the season.

Wilshere has no intention to leave either. He’s said “as long as Arsenal want me I’m happy” and having been at the club for more than ten years already and Arsenal having entered in to every fibre of his body, you can believe those words when he utters them, so I’m not really inclined to change my mind that he’ll be an Arsenal player for a long time to come, so long as he can continue to play regularly and play well.

There’s not really a lot else going on today. Rambo seemed to have a good game for Wales last night, even if it was the Madrid monkey who will have taken the plaudits, so that’s always nice to see. Wales top their group as of last night and must be favourites to be at France next summer, so it will be nice to be able to watch Rambo at a major tournament, so let’s hope it happens.

Catch you tomorrow.

Arsenal season review: An attack I’m happy with

Right then, shall we have a little look at the forward line and give them a bit of an assessment, eh?

This time last year we were all still enjoying the post-FA Cup glow, which had put a bit of a sheen on what was otherwise a season that appeared to disintegrate after such a fantastic start. If you will recall, it was widely accepted that defensively we’d performed well (big game mauling’s aside), but our forward line just, well, ran out of a bit of puff. Giroud needed some support, Podolski was becoming more and more inefficient and less and less trusted by the manager and we ended up seeing more of Yaya Sanogo than we’d have wanted, given his inexperience.

When the dust settled there was a World Cup to look forward to, but it was painfully obviously that we needed something addressed in our attacking part of the pitch. The over-reliance on Theo for pace was evident and with him out for the first part of the season Arsene had to act.

Boy, did he act, signing both Alexis and Welbeck for our forward line for a combined fee of around £51million (although Arsenal never disclose this so it is open to interpretation). It’s true that the Welbeck signing was born out of desperation given that Giroud broke his leg, but nevertheless it was still done by the manager. And now that we reflect on the 109 goals scored by Arsenal – ten more than in 2013/14 – we have to say that Arsene acted and acted well.

Ten additional goals seems a decent improvement if you ask me, but it is not just the statistics that I think shows the improvement in the team. We have options now. We are no longer reliant on one player for anything. Walcott, Welbeck and Alexis have pace. Giroud and Welbeck can lead the line. The Ox – who I’m including in the forwards assessment because he played more games wide right than in centre midfield this season – and Alexis can beat a man through their close ball control and dribbling. We have interchangeable players. Of course, some are better than others and one in particular has made a marked difference to the team, but overall you can say that we are stronger and can cope with the rigours of an inevitable injury crisis which seems to engulf the team each season.

But individually we’ve seen some great stuff too. Let’s start with the main man, Alexis Sanchez, who has been the Energizer Bunny for this team this season. What was fantastic about him is that he’s not only extremely talented, but he works so hard too, which immediately endeared him to the Arsenal fans. We love him. He has an explosive power that no other player in the team can match and whilst his ball retention isn’t always great, he is that player that can do something out of the blue. I’m thinking in particular the Moneychester City goal, the goal against Liverpool and the cup final goals. All examples of how he has wonderful end product. But unlike Poldi, who was all end product, Alexis does everything the German didn’t do, exemplified by the fact he must have picked up half a dozen man-of-the-match performances in the league this season alone. I’m thinking of the Burnley game at home in particular, or the Southampton game at home where we huffed and puffed but it was he that dragged us over the line to collect three points.

I don’t want to compare Podolski to Alexis, but given that Poldi was our wide left man before Alexis, it’s an easy one to make, so although we were all sad to see Lukas the personality go, Alexis the footballer is a magnificent upgrade. And that’s what we want from this Arsenal squad now. If you’re like me, then you like most of the players in the squad and would be happy to go in to next season with them all still playing for Arsenal. But if an upgrade comes along – like Alexis – who will enable us to take Arsenal to the next level, then we should be doing it straight away. Look at me, I sound like a proper Wenger convert, don’t I?

so Alexis get’s the praises for his debut season, his goals, his impact on the team and his ability to take us to the next level, but it is not just he who has contributed to this seasons success. Olivier Giroud has spent half of it injured, yet has still amassed 19 goals and before his barren spell was ended by the FA Cup final goal, he was on a rich vein of form at just the right time to see us secure third spot. That’s the difference in this team. Alexis hit a purple patch either side of Christmas and carried us through games. When the goals dried up for him, Giroud chipped in with goals in consecutive games from March onwards. Last season, when the goals dried up for him and if Rambo didn’t score, it felt like we didn’t have that extra player with Theo injured, to take us over the line and challenge for the league. My favourite Giroud goals are his trademark; the run to the near post and flick. Against Middlesbrough and in the cup final can be the perfect examples. There is plenty of talk about his replacement this summer, but I am not seeing a glut of strikers who will contribute as much as he does (and are available, I hasten to add!), so although there is a desire for a Giroud upgrade, I’d be surprised given all he has provided to us this season. He is a focal point. He is a player who will bring others in to play and unless Arsene finds Giroud mkII in terms of hold up play and overall team contribution, I can’t see him making an addition in that area of the field.

I think we’ll also get to see more of the best of Welbeck next season too. The one area of his game where everybody is focusing on is his lack of goals, but he has shown that he has it in him – just think about the hat-trick against Galatasaray as a prime example. He has also played parts of this team as a wide attacker and, whilst that wouldn’t be his preference as he’ll readily admit, his work rate to the team when flanked by Alexis on the other side gives us a dimension that we haven’t had before. He’s more powerful than Theo and contributes more to the overall team play, which is why I think we’ll see him – with a year of playing in the team and getting to know how his teammates tick – up his game next season. A special mention has to of course go to the Old Trafford goal, in which a footballer finally made a statement to the world that guess what? You can score against your old team and be happy about it.

The two remaining forward men are ones who haven’t had the greatest of seasons, but only because of disruption caused by injury. Theo has missed two thirds of the season as a result of his cruciate injury picked up last season, then a variety of niggly injuries that kept him out of the team. Arsene seemed reluctant to bring him in more readily but as any of us can testify to, when you’ve got a team winning back-to-back games for what was almost a club record, you don’t change it. But as we drew closer towards the final we saw that Theo has a place in the squad. A natural finisher and a man who set us on the way to the cup final, his hat-trick against West Brom was perfectly timed and the conversations on his new deal will be interesting ones this summer. I’d like him to stay. I think he gives us something different. But the club are holding the better hand than Theo this time around and if he tries to play silly buggers with them, they’ll offload I suspect. Arsene has said he won’t go this summer, but if we get in to mid-August without a resolution, I suspect there might be one or two teams that try their luck with a cheeky bid or two.

The second of the injury-hit players was the Ox. It’s a shame because the same happened to him at the beginning of last season on the first game against Villa, but he’s found himself in and out of the team because of his injuries. He made 23 appearances this season, which isn’t a bad return, but given his potential to nail that wide-right position because of his trickery and guile, he’d possibly have been hoping for more. He’s now had two seasons in a row in which he’s found himself injured for prolonged periods of time and I just hope that next season isn’t one in which he starts to be recognised as an injury-prone player like Jack. With a full season free of injury under his belt, I’d love to see just how good he could be.

The forward line is full of options. I haven’t even mentioned the talented Serge Gnabry, who will surely ant to get some game time next season – if not at Arsenal then on loan – and if I’m honest it is the one area of the field that I don’t think can be strengthened much, not unless we’re spunking close to £50million on one player and I’m not sure Arsene will do that this summer. But I’m ok with that. I think there are other areas of the pitch that need addressing in terms of building the squad depth, so if we go into this new season in August with Theo nailed down for another three to four years, I’d se that as a decent enough bit of business for the summer.

What do you think?

Still basking, with Jack and Theo on the mind

Still basking in the post-FA Cup winning glow? Well too right you are. Me too. I think if we won the FA Cup every year for the next year, the feeling would remain as strong each year, because winning trophies is what we want to see from our team and when it happens you need to appreciate the significance of the achievement. And it is an achievement. One that not many fans of teams in all divisions get to experience regularly. If you count the playoff final trophy as one – and we have no reason not to given the fact you do lift a piece of silverware – there are only eleven trophies across all 96 clubs that are available to be won each season. This season four of those avilable – Premier League, Community Shield, League Cup and FA Cup – were won by two teams. That leaves most fans of most clubs not getting to experience the highs of wins like we’ve had this weekend. Most fans are in the minority and it’s why the feeling of joy from a cup win should stay with you for some time yet.

So when I see Jack Wilshere appear from the team bus in the morning, amid rumours of all night boozing with his teammates, I’m not going to expect anything else other than a bleary-eyed twenty something individual take to a bus and celebration stage to sing songs in front of people who have been singing the same songs all year and have cheered him throughout.

So I was a bit surprised that the papers have picked up on his ‘foul-mouthed taunts’ and decided that this was one of the more newsworthy stories of the parade yesterday. Jack’s an Arsenal player, but he’s also an Arsenal fan, who was singing with other Arsenal fans about the Spuds. Some people in the media just need to pick themselves up a sense of humour from eBay or something.

The parade itself was lovely to watch – albeit from afar due to an inability to rouse myself from a beer-induced slumber in time to head over to North London. I think it even caught some of the players and presenters of Arsenal TV by surprise, because it was our second year of doing it and it was hammering it down. But as I mentioned above, this doesn’t happen all the time and for the majority of fans it will never become a reality, so it should be no surprise to see Arsenal fans out en mass for a celebration of a successful season.

And it has been a successful season. What we demand of Arsenal is success through trophies. What Arsenal demand of themselves is that plus Champions League football. We got both. So to me that is ‘job done’ for now. Sure, we want a league title triumph, but let’s appreciate what we have got for now.

As for the only other real bit of ‘news’ that came out of yesterday, it was talk of Theo’s contract and having scored the first goal yesterday and started in the cup final, he was understandably in good enough form to suggest that he wanted to get some sort of deal done but wanted to enjoy the day and the FA Cup final celebrations before sitting down with the club. It’s clear that this will be a long and drawn out process – he said so himself – and the club are aware of how Theo and his representatives like to play the waiting game. Arsène has done his bit to get negotiations along nicely by being able to say “look, I played you centrally in the cup final, so what more do you need to show that you will play more regularly next season and in future?”, but I suspect that it won’t be done and dusted by the time the Community shield comes around in August. If that truly is the case, then the club have some serious thinking to do about moving him on and if they have to do it in the last couple of weeks of August, it does weaken their hand slightly.

But anyway, he’s me prattling on about something that can really wait until the FA Cup win starts to become a mere memory, so I’ll leave the deliberating on the squad for another day.

See thee tomorrow.