Of ever you needed a clear-cut example of how Tony Pauli’s is ‘anti-football’, it can be evidenced by Serge Gnabry and his goals against Chelski last night, quickly followed by a collective groan by Arsenal fans everywhere.
I’m not saying Pulis is totally to blame for the ‘exit stage left’ of Gnabry from Arsenal, but the loan spell the player had at West Brom merely set him back a season and resulted in his contract being one year less for us to try to tie him up. Pulis and his ‘a young lad with a precocious talent from abroad? Not on my watch. You’re doin’ shuttle runs, son’ mentality. Pfffh.
Of course joking aside, it is painful to watch a player who could be ours right now cutting it up in the Champions League for the perennial German Champions, and it’s almost impossible not to think ‘what could have been’ with his career at Arsenal. But we messed about by not tying him down sooner and he ended up as one of those that ‘got away’ so to speak.
But he’s in our past and we have to look to our future, which looks plenty bright with the likes of Bukayo Saka, who really needs to be tied down to some kind of long term deal. And soon. Come the summer he’ll have a year left and if Arsenal fanny around with this one then it’ll be another black mark on this very well-paid footballing administration team. We can all see that the player has something, so get it done, quickly, so we can enjoy him for longer, then perhaps also start working out where is best to play him.
Will he continue his education as a full back, for example? You’d imagine that with Kolasimac’s injury at the weekend that might be a little more time out and with Kieran Tierney soon to start being available for the first team, it means there will be competition, but competition at left wing is even greater right now if you think about Aubameyang, Martinelli and Nelson all vying for that spot, so I don’t think Saka could be too unhappy if he gets another 6-12 games at left back this season.
He’s said himself that it’s helping to develop his game and as long as he has the attitude that this is all part of his footballing education, he’s only going to get better and better; nectar to the ears of every Arsenal fan.
But, like I say, the club need to sort that contract out. Like, now.
Although I’ve kind of linked Gnabry and Saka together by talking about them today however, I don’t think the situation is the same for both, that must be said. The latter is a Hale End graduate, a local boy, so hopefully can be with Arsenal for years to come and has the ties that will keep him with us. Gnabry was a German lad, who we’d plucked from Stuttgart, so his ties were hardly as embedded. I just hope that plays a part in him wanting to stay with us.
The problem we have as Arsenal fans, is that we’ve had too much of this, you see. I don’t know about you but it feels like it’s almost impossible to go through a season without at least one important player being an issue with regards to his contract. I don’t see nearly as many other teams having the same problems with their players; not in the volume that we seem to, anyway. It goes back about 11 or 12 years, to the Nasri time, that this seems to have started and unfortunately it just hasn’t ever stopped. And when Raul came in he said he’d put a stop to it. Well, as we’re learning about Raul, he isn’t quite that ‘Don’ he was made out to be last summer.
Admittedly most of the contract saga’s we’ve had have been under the fraudulent eye that was Ivan Gazidis as CEO, but since Raul took over we’ve also had Ramsey as a contract rebel and we’ll most probably lose Aubameyang this summer too. It’s quite a footballing rap sheet already you have to say. Ramsey would have been a fantastic player for Arteta right now but again, we lost him, for nothing as well.
Here I am lamenting over footballing loves lost again. Perhaps it is casting a stronger focus in my mind because of the turgid season we’ve had, but at least we’ve had some positivity return to the club and that is in the shape of Tricky Micky, who is slowly bringing back some belief. Three wins on the bounce has us in joyous mood and at some stage today we’ll get an update ahead of tomorrow’s Europa League second leg. I suspect Arteta will tell the assembled press that he treats this game and opponent with as much respect as possible and with just one goal lead to hang on to you can understand why. It’s not exactly clear-cut and with Olympiakos having beaten us 2-1 the last time they came to The Emirates, we will be wise to be wary of the threat they can possess.
Which is why I think Arteta will tell us today that he’s naming a strong squad and I think that’s the right thing to do. Get the job done in this competition, then if you have a few players who are red-zoning, let them rest for Portsmouth away.
But let’s just see what Arteta thinks and then tomorrow I’ll give you some pre match thoughts as to how I reckon it’ll all line up and pan out.