Can I admit to being a little bit selfish when it comes to the football fixtures? What I mean by that is that because I am a season ticket holder – and very privileged I feel to be in that position – I want all of the home games to be Saturday 3pm kick offs (for I am also a traditionalist at heart in some instances) and as many away fixtures that I’m not going to as games on TV. So I must concede that the armchair fan in me did a little fist pump yesterday when I saw that the Southampton game on Boxing Day was on TV and the Aston Villa away fixture will also be on TV. As if I’ve been granted some additional ‘Brucie Bonus’, the Man City game has also been moved to a Monday night, which would annoy me were it not for the fact I was going to have to forfeit attending that game because of a friend’s wedding that I’m already committed to going to.
So all-in-all, I’m pretty pleased this Friday morning, which is good considering we’re in the midst of the dreaded international window.
All of this fixture rearranging does beg the question though: how on earth can home and away regular goers properly and logistically plan their season with all of the changes? When you compare it to 15 years ago, you could pretty much guess which games were likely to be moved and so effectively managing the rest of your social life away from football or work would be a doddle compared to today’s footballing world. I envy people who go to every game, but I don’t envy their constant need to have to plan only a month or so in advance. It’s a real shame and whilst the Premier League has brought a global product to billions around the world, the main sufferers of this have been those fans who have perhaps been the most die-hard of us all. How can it be right that these people are punished more than anybody else for the Premier League’s insatiable appetite for pocket-lining.
Still, the counter argument will always be about the quality of players on show, blah, blah, blah.
Speaking of quality players on show, how about I shift the subject slightly and talk about good ol’ Santi, eh? He’s possibly one of the most lovable footballers I think we’ve ever had whilst I’ve been on this earth. It’s not just because of his height too, in which he could probably fit in yours or my pocket, but the way he plays the game with a smile on his face. At the weekend against United, before the game at properly started and we’d tore the Mancs a new one, one of the commentators spoke about Rooney and his sheer love of the game being reflected in his play. Well I’m sory, whichever one of you it was, but Rooney alongside Santi simply is not comparison for who is having more fun. Especially at the moment with ‘Wazza’s form.
He’s just always smiling. Even when he’s getting sent off. And why wouldn’t he smile? If you had a left foot which was as good as your right foot, you’re effectively having double the fun with a ball at your feet compared to 90% of footballers on the planet.
I remember watching him against Southampton when he first joined and seeing him live and in the flesh for the first time. One of the Saints players larruped the ball into orbit and as it dropped down to earth with snow on, it landed at Santi’s feet to which he killed it stone dead, turned a player and put us on the attack in one move. It was majestic.
This week on the official site Arsene spoke of his initial hesitancy to sign Cazorla, but thankfully he took the ‘gamble’ having previously heard good things from none other than Bobby P himself, and picked up the diminutive playmaker from Malaga. Hey, Malaga may have been in financial trouble at the time, but when you get a player like Cazorla, who are we to argue with picking at the carcass of another club, hmm?
I wonder if Arsene also knew of his versatility before he signed him too? He will have been aware of his ability to play centrally and out wide, as we saw for the first couple of seasons, but his role as a footballing equivalent of an American football-style ‘quarter back’ has been the real find of his abilities I would say. Let’s all bear in mind that when Ozil arrived there was many of us who thought that Santi would be shunted out the door, perhaps even more so when Alexis came in at left-wing, so it is a testament to his ability as a footballer that he has found a place in this Arsenal team. Good footballers always do find a place in a football team one way or another.
The good thing about Cazorla too, is that providing he stays fit, he could probably go on as long as Xabi Alonso has at the top of his game, because his game is not about pace but about vision. He will lose any pace he does possess over the next three or four years, of course, but he shouldn’t lose his vision and hopefully we can profit as a result.
His role in the team has also allowed Coquelin to show how valuable he can be too. I’m not entirely convinced Coquelin would still be at the club if Santi hadn’t developed the partnership alongside him. The French enforcer can see an occasional pass, but his primary role is similar to Gilberto, in that he breaks up play and distributes to his nearest man. If that’s Santi, you know we’re unlikely to lose the ball and so as a fan what I see if Coquelin win it, then us not turning over the ball and being able to go on the attack. As a result, if a move breaks down, it is likely to be four or five passes after Coquelin has distributed it, so he isn’t too often linked to any kind of conceding of possession and that has only helped his own stock amongst Arsenal fans.
It’s the power of Santi, you see, which we should all be grateful for.
Anyway, that’s enough from me for another day, so I’ll let you go about your business in an orderly fashion.