I’m on day three of my ‘work from home’ lockdown and today’s mission was to go to Sainsbury’s over the road and buy two anti-bacterial soaps. We have just run out in our en-suite and there’s another running low and unlike so many knobs out there, I’m not contributing to the panic that has set in to the average Joe in the UK. We have what we need and that’ll do.
Actually, that’s not all I need, because I also need something to talk about from an Arsenal perspective. I’ve been writing this blog for about nine-and-a-half years and in that time there has never been a situation in which there’s nothing out there for me to talk about. And we’re only a few days (less than a week) into the football lockdown that is currently in force. I tell you this, by the end of the week I’m going to start asking the Dani Ceballos on my March wall calendar what he thinks of various issues currently enveloping the world today.
He looks a little confused, baffled and generally unsure of how to answer my query. Like if I’d ask him what would happen if I gave a hamster a mini rocket pack made out of a firework and let it rip, how far that hamster would get. His expression is kind of “why? Why would you do that? You’re a horrible person”.
I know Dani, but this is what happens when football is taken from us all; we all start to think of creative ways to entertain ourselves and some of these aren’t always logical, or fall on the right side of the animal rights divide.
And for all of you peeps now recoiling whilst reading this, please note that a) I’m clearly kidding, and b) I don’t even own a hamster. I don’t even own a pet so the animal kingdom is safe.
So what else can we talk about? There was some news about how the club Doctor Gary O’Driscoll is set to stay at Arsenal because he loves the project, plus his family is settled, so as quickly as that was a ‘maybe’ story it’s become a non-story. I’m sure he’s a great guy and I’m sure he’s good at his job, but as club doctor I don’t think his departure would have made too much difference to the footballing side, would it? Unless he’s got healing powers akin to a deity then I would suggest not.
It’s all about the footballing side and right now they’re all tucked up at home posing in front of their massive Batman statues, or doing kick ups with their kids, so there’s very little they can do that could be of too much interest right now. I do wonder how some of those squad players are feeling though. You know, the ones that have to prove themselves, are potentially fighting for their Arsenal future, etc. Cedric Soares was signed in January and hasn’t kicked a ball in anger and if the season gets voided then we’re going to end up having a player who has racked up a fair few wages and is suddenly available on a free. Perhaps Arsenal will make that signing permanent as an understudy to Bellerin but without any football in an Arsenal shirt, it’s quite a gamble, wouldn’t you agree?
Dani on my wall calendar does. I think. His look tells me “why? Why would you sign Cedric when he hasn’t played?” and I think I make you right Dani. It’s the cheaper option and maybe that’s the way we need to go if we don’t have the biggest transfer kitty, or if our attentions for rebalancing the squad lie in other positions, but it still represents a gamble if he wants big cash.
Perhaps the answer lies in selling Maitland-Niles. If Arteta doesn’t fancy him, won’t use him at right back and he doesn’t get near the team in central midfield, then getting £20million in for him, whilst signing a Portuguese international for no fee, means there’s a chunk of cash that is available for another position and you don’t have to reinvest in signing a replacement in that position. In that instance it makes sense, but there’s so much about Arsenal’s transfer strategy that hasn’t made sense in recent years. You can go back deep into the end of Wenger’s days to see that, like the no signing of an outfield player, or the arrival of Denis Suarez last season. Yep, we’re a bit strange when it comes to our decision making and so this Soares one also fits that mould. Hindsight is a wonderful thing but it feels like if this was the stop-gap move we wanted to make as a reserve to Bellerin, it probably could have waited until the summer and saved us a fair bit of cash.
Anyway, it is what it is, we have to deal with the situation we’re in. And that situation is a full back who we’ve not seen boot a ball in anger since we signed him, as well as a wall calendar that looks on quizzically every time I post it a magic eight-ball question.
Catch you folks tomorrow.