Hello again. Where do we begin today? Squad numbers you say? Right, let’s go there. As is traditionally done, squad numbers are released ahead of the upcoming new season. It allows fans to deck their new kit with the player’s name and make the club some additional money. Though, at this point of pre season, it would be far to dangerous to put any names of players still with transfer rumours hanging over their head.
It is also worth noting that Lukas Podolski has no number given to him. Doesn’t take a genius to guess that he’s waiting for a certain particular number to be available. Even Homer Simpson wouldn’t guess wrongly on which number it is. It’s the number 10 currently held by a Dutchman. By releasing the news in this manner, it invites a lot of rumours but is it also about the club showing their hand in the matter.
It is about the club telling the whole wide world that the player with number 10 behind his back is up for sale. That, this player will not be with The Arsenal for the new season. That is the message that the club is trying to send out, in my opinion. We are inviting genuine offers to come and not waste too much time on it. I might be wrong and Podolski could really be waiting for the number 9 to free up or he’s ensuring all the horoscope and feng shui are checked before settling on a number.
With the number 14 still occupied by Theo Walcott and the number 12 being given to Olivier Giroud, that narrows the path even further for a certain club legend to return for his third stint at the club. This is what Thierry Henry said and there are plenty who are already jumping the gun and hope that he comes back to play for us. As much as anything, I interpret the statement as one which he speaks about his path after his playing career is over.
Having him back at the club in any non playing capacity would be a very big boost to the club. Someone who has been there and done that. Someone in the office/training ground that everyone looks up to. Someone for the youngsters in the academy to aspire to be. If Henry decides that coaching is not his preferred choice, an ambassadorial role or a scout would certainly be right up his alley. He could be the major pull that helps a player to make up his mind whether to join us or not. Similar to what Patrick Vieira is doing for Manchester City and Zinedine Zidane for Real Madrid.
Imagine having him in the room when negotiations are being held. The wanted player walks into the room and is greeted by arguably one of the greatest striker to have ever graced the Premier League. Yes, these are players themselves but they are also human and can be starstrucked. I would certainly have Henry back in a non playing capacity.
Yesterday in Arsene Wenger’s press conference, a very interesting and bold quote came out. The manager said that we’re not at the end of our transfer dealings for the season and are still on hunt to bring in more players. Which is a rare statement for him to be so clear about transfers. There shouldn’t be any decoding necessary for that statement. It is also a signal of intent that he wants the dry spell to end, this new season.
I’ve long called for Wenger to make a stand and be more ruthless with what he wants. Right now, other clubs will have seen the same statement and know that we are definitely still in the hunt for reinforcements. If anything, that should drive up the price on whoever we’re interested in. Which is expected. I just hope that it won’t be a quote that we have to pick up on the 1st of September and wonder he didn’t do what he said.
We’ve seen Wenger make this statement before, that the midfield department is not one that worries him. Perhaps the change in direction is exacerbated by the possible two months absence of one Tomas Rosicky. The Czech has issues with his tendon and will not feature in any part of the team for at least until October, if the reports are to be believed. With Jack Wilshere also expected to be back around the same time, it does leave us a little short in the central midfield area.
Finally, I’d like to touch a little on Laurent Koscielny being given a new contract. He’s been growing consistently since his first game at Anfield. By now, he’s the best central defender in the team and should be the first name on the team sheet. I would never imagine watching on the day in August 2010, that he would turned out to be a better defender than Thomas Vermaelen. Humility is still a term you can associate with the French defender.
Last year we conceded 49 goals in the Premier League. If we can escape the injury problem, I think we can do very well in reducing that number. Should we be able to choose 3 players out of Koscielny, Vermaelen, Mertesacker, Santos, Gibbs and Sagna to play in every single game, I would be very confident that we could easily reduce the goals conceded column by 25% this new season. That’s 10 goals off the total. Whether that helps us win the league or not, is another matter. But it will certainly go a long way towards that effect.
Want another humble player with a great future ahead of him? Try Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Till tomorrow.