07 March 2013

That Old Song and Dance

Confound you, rumor mill.  I feel like Pacino in The Godfather, Part III: "just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in." Of course, I have only myself to blame. I fiend for news, particularly of the good variety, and so I was sucked into speculation that a former Gunner might make his way back to us in the summer. I believe the headline was "Barcelona Midfielder to Return to Emirates?" In my mind, the only Barcelona midfielder who could make a return would be Fabregas; I couldn't even remember anyone else who left here to play for Barça. Oh, wait--Song doesn't play for Barça. He sits on the bench.

So let me get this straight--a player we sold due to his poor attitude and training issues isn't happy with his "dream" signing (and let's be honest--anyone who signs for Barça has made a dream signing). He wants to come back. Sorry, Alex, but we're not your fallback. We're not your rebound, the girl whose arms if not other body parts are always open and waiting to take you in. Did you not notice who already plays for Barça's midfield? Fabregas, Xavi, Iniesta, Busquets. Which of these four did you think you'd beat out? Only two have been nominated for Ballon D'Or, it's true, but you'd played a bit with a third and know firsthand he's better than you, leaving you to outplay Busquets, and you couldn't do it. Tough luck. Oh, and by the way, your mate Van Persie is gone, so even if you did come back, he's not there to latch onto some random pass that you hoofed forward and turn it into an assist. Of course, I exaggerate. Song had his moments, and some of his passes were quite good. I even admired his presence and admit that we need some of the steel and menace that he offered. However, unless we can have him back for a song (did you like that? I thought it was pretty clever), I'm not interested.

I'd rather we pursue some other rugged midfielder who can clatter through opponents and clog up topponents' attacks a la Patrick Vieira. I look at our midfield, the saving-grace engine that drives the entire team, and I love it...but something's missing. Between Wilshere, Arteta, Cazorla, and Podolski, only Podolski offers any size. None of them offers any menace to make opposing forwards think twice. Arteta does well in the hole as the defensive midfielder, but he's more of an orchestrator than he is a defensive midfielder. What I wouldn't give for a burlier lunk willing to throw his weight around, someone to help negate these counterattacks that we're so vulnerable too and to create a more cohesive link from defense to offense. The 4-5-1 formation can be wonderful for dominating possession (itself a form of defense) but when we pour too far forward, opposing offenses can find too much room to exploit--such as against Aston Villa, when Weimann was able to charge uncontested from midfield to score.

I'm not going to name names as I try to work my way back to my commitment to avoid transfer-talk. Mr. Song, thanks for your services, but don't call us. If Barça want to loan you out to us, we'll consider it (in case you're wondering, yes, I do have power of attorney now. Don't tell Kroenke). Until then, enjoy that Mediterranean climate. England is 45° (F) and rainy right now, just so you know.