Wednesday is upon us and I’ll be darned if it isn’t nearly January reaching its halfway point already. By Sunday we’ll have done the first month of the year. In six weeks time, we’ll have had our title dreams crushed and half of our squad will be struck down with Lymes disease and six weeks after that we’ll be amazed that the team has gone on a seven game unbeaten run to put the gloss on a season in which we’ll secure a top four spot. Time really flies, eh?
It’s Swansea on Saturday – hardly the happiest of hunting grounds historically – but before that we need to hear what the manager thinks about the Özil comments, as well as a bit on the new boy Cohen Bramall, who signed this week from those giants of English football Hednesford Town.
Now, I’m not going to be one of those to get on his – or the club’s – back about the signing. I don’t know him, had never heard of him before this week, so it would be a lot of work to get wound up about this signing as opposed to spending a decent chunk of change on another player. The fact is that he’s come from non-league, he’s a young player who’s impressed and if Arsenal have seen something in him then perhaps he has got something that up until this point, no other youth setups have spotted.
I hope he can forge a decent career and who knows, if he takes inspiration from Jamie Vardy (another non-league, relatively late bloomer) then perhaps we can have unearthed a little gem on our hands. What did surprise me is why the club have made a bit of a fanfare about the signing. It just strikes me as a little odd.
For example, he’s got a page with him holding up the shirt, there’s a picture of him signing a deal with Arsène, plus there’s some pictures of him running drills on the official site. All standard fair really, but not normally with a youth development player, who will go straight in to Steve Gatting’s development squad.
I just don’t understand the noise. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a love story, with the whole ‘young kid has dream realised by Arsenal’ narrative behind it, but I don’t get all the publicity. The player clearly has something about him, it’s lovely that the Ox has already spoken of wanting to take him under his wing, but how does the big PR show help anyone?
It doesn’t really help the player, does it? Surely getting him signed up and then in to the Dev team playing games, before a potential League Cup showing next season, with little mention in the press would be a more pragmatic approach? That way he’ll have time to develop out of the limelight and hopefully he’ll be able to suitably impress Arsenal’s staff to get a promotion towards the first team? But by making him a feature on the official site with all of the pics of training, etc, isn’t that just setting expectations amongst fans that this is a guy with such potential that we could see him progress in the next 12 months to the first team?
Perhaps not. Perhaps I’m doing what all Arsenal fans seem to do and over-analyse every little thing that the club does. Scrutinising every action by Arsenal is kind of a bloggers bread and butter though, so I’ll make no excuses for being a little, well, surprised by the PR noises.
Hopefully he can surprise us all. How amazing would that be, eh? Seeing a kid go from non-league to the Premier League within 12 months. It’s happened before with Smalling, but never quite as rapid a route to a ‘big club’, so if Bramall can break through he’d certainly be setting a new record for rapid ascension as a footballer. Good luck to him. I just hope all of the attention of the last week doesn’t affect him adversely.
So what else is going on then? Answer? Not a lot that relates to the first team. Jon Toral is off to Rangers, with whom we’ve had some links with historically, so I’m not really surprise with that if I’m honest. It’s fair to say that his career hasn’t exactly hit the heady heights of his fellow La Masia graduate Hector, as Toral seems to be getting to the stage where he’s bouncing around different clubs on loan at the moment. He never really broke through at Granada, having had a decent season last year at Birmingham and you have to think that unless the reviews coming back from Glasgow at the end of the season are rave ones, it’s unlikely that he looks like he’ll break in to our first team. He’s a midfielder too so unless some kind of catastrophe happens beyond the current injury crisis that we’ve seen, he’s unlikely to get a recall like Coquelin did and at 21 sadly it looks like he’ll be another one of the Arsenal cash cows to be sold on for a few mil at some stage. Let’s just hope that if he does make it somewhere else, the club have a big fat sell on clause, or even a buy-back option.
There really isn’t that much going on right now, such is the emphasis on the youth players in today’s blog, although you can hardly call me any kind of Jeorge Bird I’ll grant you. But hopefully this has helped to pass some time in between doing something else for you.
Right, off to work I go, and no – there is no ‘hi-ho’. I work in London and am up at 6.20am every morning. ‘Hi-ho’ just isn’t part of my morning vocab.