Yesterday afternoon, as The Management walked in to the lounge to settle down to watch a bit of TV, she said to me: “Oh dear. Is it that bad that you have to watch the MLS? Are you getting withdrawal symptoms so uncomfortable that you need to see New York Red Bulls take on New York City?”
The answer is clearly “yes”, because I’ve never sat through more than a couple of minutes of MLS football/soccer, but I managed about half an hour yesterday. It was actually not that bad though. Well, save for the fact that you’re watching former legends play not quite as well as their former selves. I saw little of Lampard, Pirlo was fairly anonymous and David Villa was put in on goal, only to drag the ball wide. Even Paddy Vieira as manager is looking a little soggy around the edges. It’s like a fitter version of those Masters five-a-side games that I watched. Still, it is football and at least I saw a goal, from Bradley Wright-Phillips of all people.
I’d love that little story to segue beautifully in to something Arsenal related, but we’re on slim pickings I’m afraid, something you can tell on the official site too because they’re currently showing some pictures of Xhaka and Holding training with the new team as well as an interview with Matt Macey about getting a chance for some game time against Lens. You have to say that you’d think he needs to be getting a loan spell this season. In his interview on the official site he acknowledges that ‘keeper is the hardest position to secure a first team spot at and given that there are four gents in front of him, you have to wonder if he’ll ever get a chance. He’s 21 now and I think that unless he’s happy to have a few years out and about at other clubs, he’s unlikely to ever be given a chance. Cech is 34 so within a couple of years you’d expect his career to begin to wind down in the same way Jens’ did about ten years ago. Szczesny is probably going to get his second loan and you’d think that he’ll probably angle for a permanent move next summer unless Ospina is already gone by then. But even then you’ve got Emi Martinez in Macey’s way. Martinez has already had a couple of loan spells and at 23 he’s of a similar enough age that you’d think he’s always going to be in Macey’s way at Arsenal.
Matt’s also right about the fact that his position is a difficult one to break through in, primarily because it’s one in which you don’t have much flexibility on where you play. Outfield players who have gone on to have very successful careers have often started in different positions. With a goalie you don’t get that opportunity. It’s not like you can play across a few roles in the team like someone like the Ox. Your physical stature, your attributes such as handling and distribution, it all focuses you towards a role in a single position. Just look at the old Championship Manager computer games; the goalkeeper position had its own independent attributes. Yep, anything to reference ChampMan, guys. Anything.
So Macey has a tough job getting to number one at Arsenal.
But stranger things have happened at sea, as they say. For example, nobody would have thought that Fabianski would ever provide any meaningful competition for Szczesny a few years back, but he did and that was the period of time in which Szczesny was at his best at Arsenal. It appears Martinez is ahead of Macey in the pecking order, but that could change very quickly, especially if Macey gets the platform to prove himself by going out on loan.
I do wonder what is going to happen at ‘keeper though. It appears as though our efforts are on acquisition at the moment and given we seem to have some problems with that at times, dealing with the sub-plots that are loan deals, feel like they’re not really something the club is too concerned with at the minute. But I do hope that some of our younger players like Macey and Martinez get a shot at playing regularly this season. Perhaps in a lower league.
I think it will be the same for Akpom too, actually. I know there’s lots of talk about how we haven’t got many players in that attacking position, but I just don’t see him being given the chance to make it at Arsenal, so we should probably be looking at ‘loan-to-perm’ moves if he’s not really going to be given the chance to start regularly. It’s a bit of a sad state of affairs though, when the mood amongst the fanbase is such that if it was announced that we’d be giving him a shot, it would be met with widespread derision and outrage. I’m not suggesting we should, nor am I suggesting I think he’s good enough, I’m merely commenting that I find it sad that we cannot give a player a chance. There are those that will point to Iwobi, but that came after a series of injuries and loss of form forced Arsène in to it. Do we really think that will happen with Akpom? I don’t.
So we go on refreshing our webpages, hoping to see news of a big money signing, that will quench the insatiable thirst for new blood at the club. It all feels a little bit distasteful at times, doesn’t it?
But hey, I guess that’s just football.