Sunday 9 September 2012

Diaby's physique/Arsenal's Theo policy

Hello again Gooners!

Some people call this the 'interlull' and I'm inclined to agree. Life's just not the same without a bit of Premier League action. Internationals just don't do it for me. They used to, but those days have been and gone, perhaps never to return.

The most interesting thing about internationals now is watching Arsenal players in a different context. It was good to see Cazorla on the scoresheet for Spain, but it's been Diaby getting all the plaudits for another outstanding performance, this time for France, which he capped with a goal. It prompted Didier Deschamps to call him a 'complete' [insert word here]. Don't forget, Deschamps is pleased with Diaby, so it's not going to be a rude word! Okay, it was 'midfielder'. Quite a compliment. Nevertheless, he might be too exhausted for France's next game. A match winner one day and in the sickbay the next. Yes, we know all about that at Arsenal.

Diaby's physique is suddenly a much-discussed topic. Guy Roux said that Diaby 'is mounted on two matches with a spot of glue in the middle', which is another pretty graphic way of saying he is 'quite fragile'. Apart from that caveat, Guy appreciates Diaby's 'vision' and his ability to 'eliminate four or five players in a row'. I think something was lost in translation on that last part, as otherwise it would conjure up visions of Diaby twirling around like a Darlek shouting 'exterminate, eliminate!' Or something like that. And Diaby's nothing like a Darlek. Not in build. Not in viciousness. So Darlek he ain't.

Marcotti and Cascarino have been less glowing in their praise of Diaby, describing him as 'not bad'. They've had a lot of abuse from Arsenal fans for speaking their minds, but I don't see the problem with them calling it how they see it. That's what pundits are for, surely.

Stewart Robson, still in the Arsenal Player (TV) wilderness after criticising Theo Walcott (a bit too much by calling him an athlete with a pair of football boots, or something like that) agrees with Roux, Deschamps and Wenger about Diaby. I'm still in the Marcotti and Cas camp for now. The jury's out and I remain to be convinced that Diaby will offer much. Before his injury, he wasn't a world beater. He was 'not bad', in my opinion. He had something about him, a bit of flair, if you like, but he was too erratic for my liking. Not solid enough defensively and not devastating enough going forward. If you wanted to play keep ball in the middle of the field, then Diaby seemed to have a lot going for him. If you wanted to keep a clean sheet or score at the other end, I didn't really value Diaby's contribution very often.

Of course, the injury inflicted upon him was horrific. No wonder he was 'shaking on the bench because he was scared of getting injured again'. Only last year, Renand Longueve described Diaby as having 'the right leg of a 10-year-old'. The 'glue' in his middle must be under a lot of strain. It's bad enough being 'mounted on two matchsticks', but when one matchstick is bigger than the other you're likely to have a lot of problems.  

I'm not sure if it was because of the physical problems of having two different sized matchsticks, but since his injury, he's been mostly ineffectual for Arsenal, apart from against Liverpool, when he played out of his skin. Even 'Deckchair' Denilson did that occasionally. I think Diaby's got more to offer than Denilson though, so don't get me wrong on that. And with quality midfielders around him like Cazorla and Arteta, he's got a great chance to look a better player than he really is. A bit like Michael Carrick at Manchester United. It's the exceptional players around an average player that can elevate the ordinary. After all, it's a team game.

One player who can't get in any team right now is Andrey Arshavin. He won't play for Russia unless he's a first-team regular, and hands up who can imagine that happening at Arsenal?

Even Marouane Chamakh might be higher than Arshavin in Wenger's pecking order. Even Chamakh with malaria. No scrub that! It's not malaria, it's a virus.

Maybe it's the same thing that struck down Fabianski. It's strange the Pole can make it on the bench for his country, but against Liverpool it was Martinez on the bench and Mannone deputising for Szczeny. Please don't think I'm complaining about the team selection. Far from it. Mannone's a much safer than Fabianski in my opinion and Martinez is one for the future. Fabianski is one for the scrapheap, unfortunately. Our former number one, Almunia, let in a load of goals at Watford the other day, so it makes you wonder how good Wenger's judgement has been when it comes to bringing in keepers. Richard Wright looked a good keeper before he joined us, but then when to pieces. I have admit, I'd have signed Wright myself. And Pepe Reina. We could have had him for £20m, apparently, but look at him now. They're a temperament breed alright, but I've seen enough of Fabianski to last me a lifetime. I mean, I don't know who's more nervous when he plays, him or me! Anyway, I've not seen enough of Mannone and Martinez yet, but I've got high hopes for both of them. And James Shea. So maybe we're going to be alright in that department in the not-too-distant future.

Another department that gets debated a lot is the wing department. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain may have had a great first half for England, but Roy Hodgson's annoyed with him for stepping off the gas once he knew he was getting subbed. At least, the Ox made an assist while on the pitch, while 'contract rebel' Theo Walcott did the same after replacing his Arsenal team-mate. All good for both players' confidence, although the Ox will get a dressing-down for switching off from the England boss. And Theo should get rebuked by Arsenal for not signing a new deal. Or maybe the unofficial policy is to leave Theo on the bench until he does sign a new deal. Not a bad policy, if true.

Or maybe we'll loan Theo out to get him off the wage bill. That would be as foolish as offering Arshavin on loan or on a free transfer. Oops. Oh yeah, we did that already. Thanks to the great meerkat in the sky, our little meerkat made in his image stayed at the Emirates. Now we have to hope that the great meerkat has a word in the lug-hole of the economist from Strasbourg University who picks the team.

One player who leaves on a month's loan with everyone's blessing is Chuks Aneke. He looks a decent prospect and has had spells with Stevenage and Preston, but now has a chance at Crewe. We all wish Chuks well.

Another loanee is Nicklas Bendtner, but it came as some surprise to hear he might return to play for Arsenal again. Absence makes the heart grow fonder it seems, and Bendtner is back in Wenger's good books: 'We believe in him and that is why we gave him to Juventus on loan'. And there I was thinking it was because Juve wouldn't pay enough up front to make the deal permanent. Having said that, I think 'Super Nick' could become an excellent centre forward one day. It would be nice if it's at Arsenal, but I doubt it will be, unfortunately.

The next player who could get offloaded is Francis Coquelin, if he's not in the team prompto. After just 3 games, he's impatient for his chance. He will take stock in 6 months, he says. Everton, QPR and Aston Villa have all been credited with an interest in a player I rate, but the question remains: is he better than Seb Larsson? I'm not so sure he is. So that could mean the exit door will beckon for ol' Coq-au-vin.

Coming in could be Bordeaux's Yoan Gouffran. He's 26 now and needs to start realising his potential. He's available for £3m in January and will be free if we can wait until the summer. Fulham, Villa and Everton are monitoring developments and my guess is we are too.

Montpellier defender Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa seems more likely to go to Newcastle in January, all of a sudden. Are we bothered? He turned us down because he wanted a dream move to AC Milan. That never happened, of course, due to the Italians only offering £4.75m for him. He'll be available on a free in the summer, if the Newcastle interest is not what the media would have us believe.

Then there's Anderlecht defender Cheikhou Kouyate. As well as ourselves, Newcastle and Man City are apparently interested. Some sources say we 'held talks' with him. He says he 'had a good feeling about contact from Wenger and Arsenal'. I could say that a séance. So no, I don't believe this story. At all. So there!

That's all for now folks!

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