So far the Arsenal PR and comms team are having a decent fist of this summer, what with the Emery arrival followed up yesterday by Lichtsteiner joining on a free. In an age of humans so ravenous for content, content, content, they’ve played this summer well so far. Just at the point at which the adrenaline of a new manager starts to dip because of the quietness, we get hit with a shiny new toy and I for one am grateful, because this will keep the buzz about the club for at least until the weekend. Thereafter we’ll have the World Cup to distract us for a few weeks before the real football can start to become exciting again in August.
But let’s focus on our shiny new spielzeug today by talking about the man we’ve just signed. Stephan Lichtsteiner. So good they named a Eastern European country after him.
When the news first broke about three weeks ago that we were keen I got myself onto WhatsApp to wonder what the heck were doing. A 34-year-old right back? How on Earth were we going to compete with signings like that?
But after the dust had settled and Steve, Andrew, Mark and Giles had put my mind at ease by talking through the merits of a proven winner, captain of his national side, as well as somebody who would be able to be a perfect squad player rotating with Bellerin, I have found myself quite pleased with this first bit of business.
He’s a guy who brings a bit more to that ailing back line and at a time in which we’ve lost Koscielny until at least the new year, we’ve lost Big Per from the dressing room due to retirement, we find ourselves light on people who have ‘been there, done that’ in our back line. It really only was Petr Cech left. You could potentially count Nacho in there but if you’re talking about title winners, it’s Cech and that’s it.
Lichtsteiner should give us somebody with that winning mentality. Somebody who will speak out and at 34 he’ll know he doesn’t have loads of time left in his career. So wasting it, or having games pass him and his other teammates by, shouldn’t be an option.
I hope – much like Emery – that he brings the intensity and drive that gives some of the ‘comfort zone’ players a kick. It has felt like the club has needed a jump start for quite some time and the hope has to be that players like Lichtsteiner will bring that.
I think Hector should probably also look at this as enough of a prod to keep him on his toes. I still think that had the manager last season been a bit more in favour of meritocracy amongst the playing staff, he might have played Debuchy a bit more and Bellerin might have been able to step up. But we are where we are and what we find now is a recognised right back who shouldn’t just Ben turning up to watch the team from the sidelines each week.
The good thing about the World Cup too is that we’ll be able to watch him a little more closely when Switzerland play. So we’ll get an idea on his style of play, how he can perform at 34 and what we might get next season. International matches you should always take with a pinch of salt because players play in different styles, like Granit Xhaka and how he is deployed for Switzerland, but I think with a full back there’s a little less of a grey area than the playing style of a central midfielder or a forward. So I suspect we’ll get a WYSIWYG with Stephan. Hopefully it excites us.
Next up on the agenda must be the central defensive additions and if you believe Mr Socko’s Dad then that’ll probably happen at some stage this week. Personally, if I was leading the comms team, I’d be telling everyone to hold fire until Friday. Let the dust settle on this shiny toy and then hit them with another bit of juicy content.
We’ll see what happens though. For now we can be happy that the club appear to be making moves to strengthen and doing it quickly. It’s what we all want and hopefully it’s just another example of how the club are preparing properly for the new season.
Catch you sexy bitches tomorrow.