During the era of Denilson, Bendtner, Chamakh and Gervinho, also known as The First Deadwood era, I held no real affinity for any of the players who weren’t in the first XI. They were young players who’d shown promise and, thanks to the likes of Nasri and Cesc, the club had panicked and signed them up to long term deals on mega cash. It made them inpossible to shift and even when they were called upon, to my recollection they were always a bit rubbish really.
But as we now appear to be entering the second coming of Deadwood era, with the likes of Debuchy, Jenkinson, Gibbs and even Jack Wilshere all mentioned, I find myself less inclined to feel frustration that we haven’t ousted them from the club.
I feel like I have more of a connection to these players, but also, I don’t think our current crop of players outside of the fringes of the team are not as bad as the first coming of the Deadwood. Perhaps I’m mellowing in my age, but I still see some of these players capable of success; maybe not at Arsenal, but certainly somewhere else.
Under the first incarnation of the Deadwood I genuinely couldn’t see any of the players, bar Gervinho because he looked built for other leagues, properly making it at big clubs.
Denilson was a crab who was made to look better in an Arsenal team of players who were better than he was. He buggered off to Brazil and when not surrounded by the technical ability of Arsenal players just wilted. Chamakh was a limited striker that we got on free who then couldn’t properly establish himself at Crystal Palace. Bendtner was arrogant and chipped in with the occasional Arsenal goal, but again, had failed attempts to succeed at teams with players of lesser ability around him. Arshavin was done in his last season at Arsenal and went back to Russia without making any proper impact. Gervinho looked like he’d landed on his feet at Roma, but only lasted a couple of seasons before he went off to China for a big payday.
My point is that they all felt to me like players who couldn’t make it. But this current crop of ‘unflushables’ I have a genuine feeling they are decent players and will make it. To my mind Gibbs has always been a solid performer. His end product in the attacking third could be better but as a back up he’s looked good to me and I’m a bit sad that injury punctuated the last few years, because it has probably also hampered his development.
Jenkinson was a player who we were all so desperate to see succeed as ‘one of us’ and I thought I saw glimpses when he first arrived and was given game time. But he looks a player shorn of confidence and so I think a move would work out for him because he’d find a manager who believes in him and gives him consistent game time. I think the England squad is probably a bit beyond him but he could be a solid pro at a mid table premier league club.
Debuchy is another player who I don’t think is as bad as some make out. Players take time to build momentum in football and with a run of games Debuchy is another decent full back. But he’s never had that at Arsenal. He’s been unlucky with injuries and that’s pretty much been the story of his Arsenal career. His wages are such that nobody now wants to touch him – probably because of those injuries – because had he have played at Arsenal all last season and done a decent job, I bet there’d be plenty of clubs that would be willing to snap him up on a free. Think about how Sagna was wanted when he was running down his deal. Debuchy and Sagna were on a par with each other in the French national team when we signed him and should he be given a decent run of games then I think we’d all have a slightly different opinion of the player. There’s a good one in there no doubt.
You’ve then got Wilshere, who falls into a similar camp as Debuchy, and should Jack have a little less risk associated with him then I’ll bet you’d be seeing a few teams taking a punt on him, but as it is he’ll probably run down his contract at Arsenal now. He was the most exciting Arsenal prospect since Cashley and to see him not fulfill his potential at Arsenal is a bit heartbreaking really. But it’s clear if Arsenal sign another central midfielder, that his time is done, that his future lies elsewhere and that his Arsenal adventure is sadly nearing its end.
I’d probably also put Chambers in this bracket of players I like and think could go on to good things, but might be shipped out, although I feel his future is a little more clouded. That’s because of our switch to a back three and the need to have players in the squad in that position. You also have the fact Big Per is retiring next season and Koscielny is not getting any younger. Personally I hope Arsenal “do a Zouma” with Chambers and sign him up for a new deal, then loaning him out for another season, because that represents less risk to me. If Chambers goes to a Palace or similar team, I’d be willing to bet that within three years he’ll be at a top four club, so why not just give him exposure now whilst keeping him tied down? He could do this next season on loan, improve on his impressive Middlesbrough experience, come back next summer with the pathway looking a little more clearer with Big Per gone and Koscielny a year older at 32. I know Chambers is a different kind of player to Koscielny, but I have a feeling that Mustafi could be seen as Koscielny’s successor in the three (winning the ball higher up the pitch, etc) so that would mean Holding and Chambers either side could work in my opinion.
We wait to see what happens with that but I just hope we don’t live to regret our actions with Chambers.
There is a layer of players at Arsenal who will need to be moved on, but even if we couldn’t shift any of them on, I wouldn’t be too sad, because I think all of them could still ‘do a job’ in the midst of an injury crisis. I certainly wasn’t saying that six years ago with the other Deadwood, so I guess the point of this long ramble, is simply to point out that whilst people are agonising over making sure we shift players, we could – and have – been in worse situations as a squad before.
What do you reckon?