Saturday, 9 June 2012


Андре́й Серге́евич Арша́вин performance for Russia on the opening day of Euro 2012 has generated a lot of discussion on what differentiates The Arsenal Arshavin from the Zenit/Russia Arshavin. The Russian Captain ran the show against the Czech Republic and reminded us all of the player who scored at Old Trafford, Anfield and against Barcelona. He also won the Russian league during his loan spell at Zenit prompting questions about whether it’s his desire or his manager that makes a difference.

What we saw was a world class player performing on the world stage; a player that Arsenal saw as surplus to requirements for the latter part of the season.

The recently finished 2011/12 season was further Proof that 'the grass isn't always greener' is a myth. Since Arsenal won a trophy a good number of the players who have left have gone on to attain silverware (or continue to have successful careers for club and country: Wiltord, Anelka, Pires, Gilberto)
Vieira Serie A, FA Cup
Henry Champs League, La Liga
Cole Premierships, FA Cup, League cup, Champions league
Campbell FA Cup
Lauren FA Cup
Kanu FA Cup
Adebayor Copa Del Reye
Flamini Serie A
Diarra La Liga, FA Cup
Clichy premiership
Nasri premiership
Fabregas Spanish cups WCC
Van Bronckhorst Champions League
Silvinho Champions League
Flamini Serie A
Eboue Turkish league

That’s not to say that some of these players weren’t excess baggage; clearly some where. More telling is the timing of the loss of some of these players and those who were in effect their replacements. Some where determined to leave and that makes life difficult but some wanted to stay; the only thing preventing a stay being the club's policy on age.

It’s far easier to focus on a player like Hleb whose career went down hill than to entertain the idea that Arsenal jettisoned a number of players who can look back at leaving Arsenal as a good career move.

The myth began when Overmars and Petit left to join Barcelona to have fair to middling careers, but what is overlooked is that Arsenal got top dollar for them and they were replaced by better players in the shape of Pires and Gilberto.

Anelka was determined to leave and Arsenal got an outrageous fee and in effect replaced Nic with Thierry. This philosophy; negotiating good deals for departing players and replacing them with better players, is a sound one. But when a club looks to replace Gilberto, Flamini and Diarra with Denilson, Diaby and Eboue it is clearly a flawed ideology.
It’s also easy to point to financial reasons for the lack of squad depth but if a club can’t get the best out of the players they have that creates a massive problem. Bendtner was loaned out last season and while I am no great fan of his I think it’s fair to say he has had a more productive season than either Chamakh or Park with a respectable eight goals and five assists.

The so called youth policy is  also something that bears closer scrutiny. Is it fair to say that players like Walcott, Vela and Ramsey; who were much sought after, have not developed sufficiently since arriving at Arsenal? If this is the case the I worry about Oxlade-Chamberlaine and Wilshire who are very much the real deal. Will their progress be stifled?

To reflect on the points that I have raised unfortunately leads to some depressing conclusions. In this post I am cutting to the heart of the matter; the players. How effectively they are managed. How efficiently they are bought and sold and how players prove on a regular basis that they leave our club and go on to achieve. Not many leave Manchester United and do anything of merit and when they do (Ronaldo, Beckham) United receive healthy financial compensation and move forward.
What is also a damning fact, individual circumstances aside, is that Arsenal, post 2005 lose their Captains on a regular basis; Vieira, Henry, Gallas, Fabregas (RVP’s future is still undecided)  that’s practically every other season. I can think of no other big club who have this alarming trend. The Captain of a big club is a symbol aside from anything else, and at Arsenal we have gone from having long standing captains like McClintock, Adams and Vieira to operating a rotation system; very much not the Arsenal way.

What's the point of all this? well, I think as Arsenal supporters we need to open our eyes to the possibility that those in charge of the basics at the club have got things wrong on a consiistent basis.

None of us are privy to the boardroom maschinations or financial restrictions/policies but what we can see is how the players at Arsenal Football Club, that our manager believes are good enough to buy and unneccesarry to keep, perform.We can also see if inadequecies are compensated for with tactical acumen.

The proof of our own eyes present facts, and those facts leave us with conclusions that are inescapable


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