So that’s the end of the saga then. The story of the Belgian in France which had everyone captivated. The enduring story of his struggle in Lille and his journey to be free. Many postulated that he could end up in Manchester but that was not the case. We followed the story by the hour as he provided us updates on his choices including what he had for breakfast. Then the news broke, a Russian oil magnate had to part with a miniscule figure of his fortune to free the Belgian. The world rejoice.
In case you don’t realise what that was all about, it is not the storyline of Thomas Vermaelen’s first feature film. It was about Eden Hazard, the boy who thought whored himself to the entire footballing world. Chelsea was his chosen destination. At a salary of close to 200k (reportedly), he’s going to be one of the top earners in the world of football. How he fits into the Chelsea side is another matter entirely. Intriguing for whoever the manager is to fit him, Mata and Marin in the same side without leaving gaps in midfield.
While that is settled, the case is not quite the finished article in the Arsenal camp of things. Deservedly, all the attention has been on Robin Van Persie and how he decided he has time to go fishing amidst the preparation for the upcoming European Championship but doesn’t have the time to put pen to paper to continue his career at Arsenal. I kid of course. The man has done a full season proper. Something which he hasn’t done in ages and should rightly be given some time off to recuperate. We all know that he wants to see further investment being done to the playing side at Arsenal before extending his own contract. Whether that includes Theo Walcott being given an extension of his own remains to be seen but Aaron Ramsey, Bacary Sagna and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain have all put their cases for the captain to sign-on. Even that man has said the same.
Just like RvP, Walcott does not want the distraction of a contract talk in the run-up to a major tournament. In comparison with his captain, it’s all much more serene and quiet concerning his own contract extension. Which is strange because I’d expect Arsene Wenger to be a big fan of his. Some seemed to think that Walcott only brings pace to the side but that alone does changes things on the pitch. Opposing sides tend to sit back deeper and we are allowed much more space in the middle. Without him, sides tend to be tighter and narrow that gap between defence and midfield, thus stifling any fluency that we might have in midfield.
I believe that Walcott had a very decent season in 2011/12. He contributed goals and assists aplenty. Not only that, we got to see some form of variation from him with regards to his general play. It’s not only focussed on looking to run behind the last line of defence or just looking to run to the byline for a cross into the box. He cuts inside far more often and looks to run across the last line of defence now. Not contend with that, Walcott can sometimes be seen switching flanks with Gervinho and appearing on the left. While noticeably he’s less effective on the left than he is on the right, it’s a good learning process for him.
Would I like to keep at the club? Yes, without a shadow of a doubt. Admittedly there are times last season when he was frustrating but Walcott has shown enough and recovered enough times to show that there’s a player waiting to be consistent there. Does he offer value if we decide to cash in on him? Definitely. There will be plenty of clubs in Europe who would want to have him in their side. I only hope that he stays with us longer and finds that consistency while with us.
By now, I’m sure we all are aware of Steve Bould and Neil Banfield’s promotion to assistant manager and first team coach respectively. Banfield goes on to say how pressing the opposition was a key ingredient in the reserves late surge of form last season. Like everyone else, I’m perplexed as to why we don’t do it more often. We’ve seen the impact of such tactics, the home wins over Chelsea and Manchester City in the last 2 seasons being prime example of it’s success.
We can’t say that the players are not accustomed to that tactics because we’ve seen them execute it well in the past. Our players are fitter than most in the Premier League as can be seen by our more energetic game towards the last quarter of any match when compared to the opposition. There’s a sense of complacency within the players that gives an indication that such tactics are not required against lower/smaller sides. Such notion should forever be banished from the minds of players. All we asked for is that they have the same mentality going into a game against City/Tottenham/United when lining up against the likes of Blackburn/WBA/Fulham.
I think enough has been said of the season just past and no point further adding to that. If and when the signing(s) are confirmed, we will talk about it. As for now, I’m switching the attention over to Euro 2012. Tomorrow’s post will focus on the first batch of contenders for the trophy.
Have a nice evening.