Great stuff yesterday from the Arsenal and if you’re not officially excited about this season, then you’re dead. Arsenal entered last pre-season with a decimated strike force and makeshift midfield, which would characterize our entire year in some ways, and with that team in this exact same fixture last year managed just a 1-1 draw. Yesterday, with Bendtner and Eduardo looking fit this Arsenal team were scoring goals for fun and beat the hell out of them 5-0.
If this keeps up, we are going to score our share of goals this year. Think about it for a second, with Arshavin, van Persie, Rosicky, Nasri, Bendtner, Eduardo, Vela, and Walcott tearing opponent’s defenses to shreds, 80+ goals is a reasonable target this season.
Of course, 80+ goals in our favor is useless if we conceed 50+ goals which is what everyone is worried about with all these rumors that Toure is leaving coupled with the utter lack of any news about someone coming in to fill the perceived gap at defensive midfield.
To that end, the dot com released an exclusive post-match interview with Wenger this morning in which he basically confirmed the rumor that Toure may be on his way out, putting the ball firmly in the player’s court by saying “we’ll know more in 24 hours.” Toure is supposedly being offered £120k per week, doubling his current Arsenal salary and as we all know has had a strained relationship with other folks in the club since last year, which culminated in the player dramatically handing in his transfer request, only to rescind it shortly after.
I can see lots of reasons why he’d want to go, chief amongst them is that Arsenal’s defensive scheme can be very taxing both mentally and physically. Wenger’s high line defense has been the death of many a fine lad at Arsenal, Toure would be just the latest. So, if he goes, I’ll understand. I’ll wish that he hadn’t, I’ll pray to the gods that he shuts his whore mouth afterwards, but I’ll understand why he would want to leave.
When I watch Wenger’s uncensored interview I get the sense that he enjoys fucking with us, and kind of cracks little jokes with himself. For example, in the interview released today he said, with a twinkle in his eye and a sly grin, that Arsenal have “7 center backs” and that there are so many that he’s “forced” to play them in midfield. This is technically true: Toure, Gallas, Vermaelen, Song, Djourou, Silvestre, and Senderos are our current crop.
But, let’s assume for a second that Toure leaves, that leaves Arsenal with just two players with a good bit of Premier League experience: Gallas and Silvestre. In the second tier, experientially, you have Senderos and Song with Song having the most recent experience. And as I have said about Senderos, I suspect Wenger’s playing him to keep his fitness up and because he wants to get Vermy as much time as possible in the CB role partnered along side the other starting CBs. I doubt Wenger sees Senderos as a real defensive midfield option, Senderos is a stopper, no doubt, and that full range of tools was on display in the parts I caught yesterday but I also noticed that once beaten he didn’t track back and that reminded me that, frankly, he doesn’t have the engine for midfield.
So you have to wonder if that twinkle in his eye isn’t a mischievious little nod that he knows how Arsenal fans are and how we’re obsessed with transfers and that he’s got something working. When asked directly about that possibility, he was very obtuse and, again, smilingly said, that perhaps something is in the works, we’ll have to wait until after pre-season to see what we really need.
What I hope Le Boss doesn’t underestimate is the sort of bubbling cauldron that I see among many Arsenal supporters. If he sells Toure and Eboue (and don’t forget Senderos whom he said was on his way out last week) for an estimated £25m I think he will be under a tremendous amount of pressure to buy. It will be preceived as £50m in to the club and people will start talking about season ticket prices, the ambitions of the club, and how we could get Klaas Jan-Huntelaar AND Xabi Alonso AND Lorik Cana AND Blaise Matuidi in for that amount! So, if Arsenal don’t make a signing, I suspect you will see some things spill over a bit.
But that’s sort of a dooms day scenario, there’s whole weeks to go before people get all pessimistic about the season and Usmanov leverages that malaise to take over the club and turn it into his personal piggy bank, like Abramovich has done with Chelsea.*
Seriously, it’s pre-season, Arsenal are scoring goals for fun and frankly, maybe Arsenal will and maybe they won’t sign anyone, I don’t know. I do know that it’s 6:30am and I’m already sweating, it’s supposed to get over 100F today, and highlights of yesterday’s match are here… go watch them and relax a bit. There are a lot of positives at this club right now and it’s too damn hot to get all worked up.
*Son, I… I say, son, it’s a joke, son..