Well, it’s a good job that Arsenal made a signing yesterday, becasue I got my dates muddled up and thought we were playing Leicester City tonight in the Carabao Cup!
Welcome to Icelandic goalkeeper Runar Alex Runarsson to The Arsenal!
The 25-year-old joins us from Dijon where he had fallen down the pecking order behind Alfred Gomis and now he finds himself as the number two to Bernd Leno at Arsenal. He’s obviously delighted to have signed and spoke – very eloquently indeed – about the history of the club and how his family was so proud that he’d joined. And at £1million as a signing on transfer fee it represents a relatively low-risk deal if we’re honest. He will replace Emi Martinez as the back up to Leno and with the game against Leicester on tomorrow, there’s part of me that hopes he’s chucked straight in there because we need to get a look at him sooner rather than later.
Will he be a master stroke decision by Inaki Cana to recommend him to Arteta? Or will he turn out to be a bit of an Almunia/Ospina for us? The sooner we know the better.
My hope is that as he described – he’s a front footed ‘keeper who is good with the ball at his feet. At 25 he’s still relatively young but he’s been capped by Iceland five times and so the hope has to be that he can rediscover some of the form that got him the move to Dijon in the first place, because his form tailed off the season before last and last season he barely played any football. I can’t profess to know much about him other than what I’ve read, but his front footedness appears to have caused a few perilous situations for Dijon and that’s why he lost his position at Dijon to Gomis.
If we’re going to be kind we could argue that Dijon are a team towards the lower end of the French league and so having a ‘keeper playing on the front foot and trying to act like a sweeper is going to be less important than somebody who is a good shot-stopper. If your goal is being peppered most week’s you aren’t going to be standing on the edge of your box watching all of the play in front of you. But at Arsenal, in theory, you should be spending more time watching play and then acting on any counter attacking balls through from the opposition, so the need for a ‘sweeper-keeper’ might be a bit more pressing at a club like The Arsenal.
That’s if we’re being kind. What I think we’re all well within our rights to question is whether spending that little money on a clear number two will bring the best out of Leno. Remember when Szczesny was the undisputed number one at Arsenal and became a little complacent? I know he’s a very unique personality and I don’t expect the same from Bernd, but we have to acknowledge that sometimes more competition brings the best out of players, so whether this signing will do that still remains to be seen.
The hope I think we all have is that Runarsson has just been a bit unlucky to lose his place and that there is a good ‘keeper in there that our goalkeeping staff have identified and see in him that others haven’t, because they haven’t worked with him before. If that turns out to be true then this signing could be a master stroke because we have sold a player for £20million, signed another for £1million, which means there is £19million in the pot for any possible acquisition. That is what every Arsenal fan is hoping for at the moment and fingers crossed that’s what transpires.
Which is kind of why I hope he’s thrown in at the deep end tomorrow night because otherwise we’re probably waiting until the Europa League stages before we see him – unless Leno picks up and injury – so getting a whiff of what sort of player he is in a game that, to all intents and purposes carries little recompense for us, would be worthwhile I think.
We’ll have to wait and see with Arteta’s press conference. With a position like this that we’re in I suspect he’ll be quite open about whether Runarsson will play tomorrow. He may not give too much away for the outfield positions, but if asked the direct question by the media I suspect he might give a straight response.
Let’s also hope he turns out to be a sound number two because the one we just sold had a blinder of a debut last night. Props to Emi Martinez for the penalty save, underlying why we held out for as much as we could, as well as why in a year’s time we may be looking at him and wondering which big club is going to go sniffing for his signature. It wouldn’t surprise me to learn that after a season as first choice he has a number of suitors from across Europe vying for his signature. Especially if he breaks in to the Argentinian national team. I just hope it doesn’t come around to bite us on the arse in the shape of him signing for one of the big English clubs within the next couple of years.
That’s pretty much it from me for today. Looking forward to hearing from Mikel and seeing what he has to say about who is travelling up to the Midlands for the game away to Leicester. It’ll be interesting because there are so many squad players who probably need game time and so I’m half expecting a complete change around in the players who are picked for tomorrow, which is quite exciting, actually.
Catch you all then.