03 August 2013

Arsenal 2-2 Napoli. Effin' hell, I'll take it!

After a dismal first half, I think many of us were throwing our hands up in despair. All of our worst fears were coming to the fore: the defense was in shambles, the midfielders looked sluggish, and we seemed content to pass the ball around until we were fouled or lost possession. We couldn't unlock a Napoli team that seemed happy to park the bus and hoof the ball the length of the field. It's an ugly style of play, but it only has to work once in a while. Sadly, we obliged twice through some horrid defending, and it looked like we were set for an embarrassing afternoon. The only bright spot for the first half, it seemed, was that Higuain hadn't scored. Then again, he was on the bench.

Let's get the rest of the bad news out of the way, the better to end on a high note. First, Carl Jenkinson. He looked truly out of his depth. His poorly headed ball that led to Napoli's first goal is only the most glaring fault, and this was just as much a fluke as it was poor positioning. Had he headed more cleanly, we could focus more of our attention on his extreme right-footedness, a flaw that limits his options when looking to play the ball out of the back and when joining the attack. It seems at times as if his left foot is allergic to the ball, and this, more than one bad header, is a problem that he will need to address if we're to count on as our right-back of the future.

Second, Podolski. He struggled all the way through, highlighted by a piss-poor PK that could have leveled the score ten minutes after Napoli's goal. His shot was tame; it lacked any pace and was placed only a meter or so to Reina's left, leading to a fairly easy save and a deflating letdown. The foul itself was dubious, a clumsy knee-to-knee hit on Gibbs that offered a scary reminder of how close we are to needing to call up a right-back from the Academy. Back to Podolski, it seems that each shot he took was a few feet wide; each pass he made was tentative or off-target, and he gave the ball away far too often. His performance begs the question of why he was allowed to stay on as long as he was, especially given how bright Gnabry was looking on the other side.

Third, Giroud. He had a truly awful first half but saved himself with a strong final 20 minutes. He was showing all of the bad habits that plagued him last year: sloppy shooting, poor dribbling, an inability to create chances for himself or others. It reminded me of his form early last season when he was desperate for a goal, anything to relieve the pressure he must have felt to replace van Persie. I just don't think he has the mindset or the skill to be that kind of scorer, at least not yet. His performance in Asia showed us that he can deliver, albeit against inferior competitors. Playing in front of the Gunner faithful, again, however, seems to have made him regress.

It was in the second half that the game seemed to shift. Perhaps Napoli was content to sit back and try to soak up pressure rather than pressing forward, but we seized the momentum. A number of subs seems also to have turned the tide; Walcott came on for Gnabry (who could have had two brilliant goals in the first half, including a cheeky, 50-yard chip that went just over the crossbar), and Sagna came on for Jenkinson. Giroud wasted a spot-kick by blasting it straight into the wall, but the attack looked more incisive and purposeful. By the time Arteta and Oxlade-Chamberlain came on for Wilshere and Ramsey, you'd have thought that we were the superior team.

Now, to the bright spots. Sagna came on and looked ten years younger, outleaping and outrunning Napoli's forwards. He sent several dangerous crosses through the box, placed just beyond Reina's reach but also out of reach of any forwards who were strangely absent at the far-post. Sagna's fountain of youth was a sight to behold. Between he and Koscielny, the defense tightened up brilliantly, and their involvement in both goals is a fitting tribute to their efforts. Koscielny was, even without his goal, my man of the match. He snuffed more chances than anyone on either side, by my estimate, and he patrolled the back-line with authority and tenacity. His goal was a stunner; he charged in to head home brilliantly, earning us a draw and keeping the Emirates Cup up for grabs.

Elsewhere, Giroud redeemed himself in the last twenty minutes with some well-taken shots from some tight angles. By the time he (or Sagna) scored in the 71st minute, he had made me almost forget his poor performance up to that point. Perhaps it was Higuain's appearance at the start of the first half that sparked Giroud to life. Speaking of Higuain, I wanted to reach out and punch the commentators for defending his play. It seemed that each time he got the ball, he was dispossesed, and they just kept saying he was still getting in shape. Yes, it's the preseason, but let's be honest: Koscielny was too much for him. We'll just leave it at that. I harbor no hard feelings against Higuain, but I was pleased to see that he didn't score (or come close, thanks to Kos).

In the end, I think we got the result we deserve and need. A loss would have stung too much, we didn't play well enough, long enough for a win, and a draw leaves no one happy. We're still alive in the Emirates Cup (as hosts, there's more pressure on us to put on a good showing), but there was enough to remind Arsène that we need some signings. A win might have glossed over our weaknesses, but it should be quite clear now (if it wasn't already) that we need better options up-top and some bolstering at the back. One on hand, we held our own against a Napoli squad that has been fairly aggressive in the transfer-market (enough to beat us to Higuain while also adding Reina, Albiol, Callejon, and five others to date). On the other, had we been able to deploy a tricksier striker capable of unlocking a defense, we might have done better than merely holding our own. If we expect to do better than 4th place, we'll need some help.

Here's hoping we get a few surprise announcements on Monday after beating Galatasaray. Their 1-0 win over Porto means they have four points to our three in the Cup. Let's win out, then, before he leaves, have a meeting with Porto's Jackson Martinez. Perhaps some business could be done?

Thanks, as always, for your visit. Feel free to comment below. Before you leave, please also consider casting your ballot in the 2012-13 YAMA Awards. Woolwich 1886 is honored to be a Best New Arsenal Blog nominee. Thanks!

02 August 2013

Box to box, from Vieira to Touré to Aneke.

Continuing a series of looking at Arsenal's young Gunners, I bring to you today Chuks Aneke, a powerful, imposing young midfielder who brings to mind the likes of Yaya Touré or Patrick Vieira. Though deployed most often in the midfield, he has shown defensive prowess as well with the ability to play center-back (he subbed on for Sagna against
Vietnam, for example). Standing at 1.91m/6'3", Aneke has shown the versatility to play all over the pitch, from center-back to attacking midfield and even as a forward, possessing a range of skills and awareness that belie his age. At 20, he is still growing into his own body as well as his potential. He'll be out on loan to Crewe Alexandra until January 2014, but we might see him feature for Arsenal not too long after that.

 In 41 appearances across all competitions (U21s, league cup, FA Cup, Johnstone's Paint Trophy), Aneke netted eight goals and added eleven assists. While he may lack pace, he more than makes up for this not just through strength—something we're lacking in the first team—but through vision and technique. On the ball, he's just as likely to unleash a Podolski-esque volley as he is to thread a Artetian through-ball. The Arsenal site calls him a "technically gifted playmaker", and his tackling and tenacity are something to behold as well. In short, without overselling it, should Aneke continue to develop, we could see the emergence of a swash-buckling, box-to-box marauder who links defense to attack and whose breath-taking runs leave opponents (and, on occasion, teammates) gasping—both in awe and for air.

He's only 20, though, so let's rein in the hyperbole. I get carried away when I get excited, and Aneke has me excited. In the video below, for example, check his volley at 0:27. See how he checks his kick? His ankle, knee, and shoulder are in near-perfect alignment, which keeps the ball from sailing high. Solid.

If there's one area that he'll have to work on, it might be in stride. It seems that he's still getting comfortable with his height, but this is something that can change with time. I wasn't able to find any data on his height from a few years ago, but it's likely that he's gone through a recent growth spurt, and he's still adjusting to that. The good news, then, is that as he makes this adjustment, his pace will likely increase as well, and that technical ability, that tenacity, and that tackling will become all the more powerful.

Do yourself a favor and find ways to watch his development with Crewe in the upcoming season. As with Zelalem and Akpom, players I've profiled here and here, respectively, we have another young talent on the verge of breaking through with the first team. We may lament the dearth of new signings, and these young men might be a few years from breaking through to the first team, but we must always have one eye on the horizon. At the risk of straining the metaphor, that horizon looks bright indeed, thanks to Aneke.

Last but not least, go vote in the 2012-13 YAMA Awards for Arsenal bloggers and writers. Woolwich 1886 is honored to be nominated as a Best New Arsenal blog. Thanks!

01 August 2013

Hallelujah! Suarez appears to be signed and sealed, not yet delivered

News out today suggests that Luis Suarez has already completed a move to Bayern Munich or Real Madrid, which, as regulars to this site can predict, comes as a great relief to me. I want no part of the bitey Uruguayan and would be happy to see him elsewhere. I know nothing of the site SportsDirectNews, the site carrying the story, but it has all the
hallmarks of the usual transfer folderol: lots of adds, a video that starts up on autoplay, and an article of about 200 words that contains an un-named source "close to the deal" who has this to say:
I have been told by a person very close to the player that the deal is done and that it's not Arsenal. No one ever takes anything for granted in this game until a final announcement is made, but all the indications are he will be en route to Madrid or Munich—the only other serious bidders.
Of course, the only part of that statement that carries an ounce of meaning is the disclaimer: "no one ever takes anything for granted in this game until a final announcement is made." Everything else is word-salad with a bit of fancy dressing.

However, I would love to see this come true. I've made no secret of my disdain for the man, whether it's his boorishness on the pitch or the idea that we should spend half (or more) of our transfer budget on him. My only real regrets are these: one, we again are left looking foolish as some other club beats us to a signature; and two, Suarez, despite committing a series of offenses, may get rewarded, not just with a fat contract but with Champions League football, something I just don't believe he deserves. Yes, he's been suspended and reprimanded but hardly chastened. He carries with him an impervious sense of victimhood throughout each ordeal and seems only to regret that he's been caught on film. Enough wallowing. The sooner we see his backside, the happier I'll be.

I rather hope he has gone to Bayern. Let him see how long Robben or Ribéry tolerate his childishness or ball-hogging ways. As far as we're concerned, a move to Bayern re-opens the door on Lewandowski, whose move to Bayern would be all but over if Suarez has signed. Let's get Szczęsny, Fabiański, and, well, Podolski while we're at it, and have them get in touch with Lewa to talk up the virtues of playing for Arsenal. After all, he's made no secret of his desire to leave Dortmund. After our painful loss of van Persie to a league rival, I don't want Dortmund to go through the same agony. In fact, we're morally bound to signing Lewandowski in order to save Dortmund's fans from seeing him end up at Bayern. With a market-value somewhere in the mid-30's, we might get him for less than what we've apparently offered for Suarez.

How many signings?


Heck, if we get Lewandowski for, say 40m, we still have 30m or so to spend (based on reports that we have about 70m to spend). This would leave us well-positioned to pick up one other high-quality signing. Maybe it's not quite enough to bring back Cesc, but it could be enough for Fellaini, Gustavo, or Bernard, among others. With today's Google+ hangout having ended without anything dramatic from Arséne and with the Emirates Cup days away, it looks like we'll have to wait until Monday at the earliest to hear any news. So it goes.

It looks like we still have a few more days for the 2012-13 YAMA Awards, so if you haven't voted, please do so by clicking here. Woolwich 1886 is nominated as a Best New Arsenal Blog, which is an honor in and of itself. Thanks!

31 July 2013

Money spent on Suarez is money wasted. There. I said it.

It's been a while since I flogged this horse, but it bears another visit. We simply can't afford—literally and figuratively—to sign Suarez. Depending on who you ask, we have somewhere between 70m and 100m to spend on transfers this year, and we apparently feel some pressure to make a statement through a dramatic signing or two. Now, I don't know how you may think, but the only statements I care to make occur closer to the end of a season, not before the season itself. I'm referring to silverware, by the way. Yes, I know that high-profile signings can send a signal of intent and all of that, but I'm still not sold on the idea that signing Suarez will both send that signal of intent and lead to silverware.

Sure, throwing 40m (if not more) at the racistly bitey Uruguayan would signal that we're serious about contending in this, that, or the other campaign. However, consider this: he's already guaranteed to miss nearly 16% of the upcoming Prem season, and that's without considering any future offenses against common decency. I found myself wishing we still lived in the 1950s or thereabouts, when we were completely, blissfully ignorant of an athlete's indiscretions. Not a family man? Snorting cocaine? Using PEDs? We'd hear of none of these issues. Suarez, however, is an entirely different beast, as all (?) of his indiscretions (man, is that ever euphemistic) have occurred on the pitch. Diving. Stomping. Biting. Hand-balling. Racism-ing.

I'll grant that he can score goals. However, he has yet to prove that he can deliver victories. It's one thing to score 23 league goals; it's quite another to actually carry a team. According to this report from the BBC, Liverpool would have finished exactly where it did with or without Suarez: 7th. Despite accounting for nearly 38% of his club's goals, he's only "earned" abotut 18% of Liverpool's points. There's a bit of a "me-first" mentality at work here, through which Suarez is more than willing to score goals, but his ability to actually carry a team to victory remains to be seen.

We already know he's going to miss the first six Prem League games. On paper, these are already eminently winnable matches, which would make his absence from the squad all the more vital. Put simply, we should be able to use these matches to help new additions get comfortable because the stakes are lower than they might be if we were facing the Manchesters or Chelsea. Suarez's absence, therefore, prevents him from getting to know his new teammates in real time, thereby delaying a smooth transition.

All of this is predicated, by the way, on the notion that (a) he might somehow learn to completely change his behavior, or (b) Arsène can somehow corral him. I don't really see either one happening. Instead, I see a man who signs a record-breaking contract and thinks to himself, "see? I was right. I was persecuted unfairly by the media. Nothing I have done or will do is actually wrong if a club like Arsenal is willing to spend on me as they have spent". The man would come in vindicated and emboldened, and I fear that he would therefore go on to commit some other morally indefensible act. In fact, I all but guarantee he will, wherever he ends up.

If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it is, in all likelihood, a duck. We've seen enough from Suarez to this point to make some similarly accurate predictions. He'll probably go on to score 20 league goals (but Walcott, Giroud, Cazorla, and Podolski may be stifled), but he'll almost certainly do something head-slappingly stupid that will cost us progress in a league cup, FA Cup, Champions League, or Prem League championship. Despite his inarguable talent, this is not a price I'm willing to pay. He's not worth it. Literally and figuratively.

Cesc is a £40m-rated center-forward...

I know, I know. Our pining for Cesc is interminable, but this is a unique situation. He's not van Persie or Adebayor or Cole. He left for other, more personal reasons (we tell ourselves). As such, we're especially susceptible to believing that he'll return. Now, as the asking price for Luis Suarez seems to climb, however, I find myself wondering, why not show this money to Cesc instead? As intriguing as it might be to try to bring in Luis Suarez, believing that Arsène could somehow reign him in, there will always remain
nagging doubts about his sanity (Suarez, that is. Mind the pronouns), his ability to stay on the pitch when the going gets tough, and his commitment to his current club when its Champions League fortunes falter.

With our recent £40m+one bid apparently triggering some clause or other in his contract, we'd expect to see some kind of movement. However, Liverpool have, if anything, dug in their heels even deeper, whether it's John Henry's tweet or Brendan Rodgers saying we're not "anywhere near the value of what he's worth". Of the two, Henry's is brash trash-talk, the kind that's harder to back down from.

We all know that the market for strikers is tight. With Jovetic, Cavani, Villa, and Tevez off the market, there are not many top-flight strikers available. In fact, Suarez and perhaps Rooney might be the only ones left unless a club is willing to make a ridiculous offer for someone who is not currently looking for a move. Džeko comes to mind, but how well he'd meet Arsenal's needs is subject to debate, especially given how similar to Giroud he is (and with Giroud looking to repeat his habit of scoring 20 league goals in his second season with a club, Džeko might be superfluous anyway).

It's with these issues in mind—the paucity of available top-flight strikers, the particular needs we're looking to fill, the money we have available—that I find my mind wandering back to Cesc. I'll spare us the ins and outs of the clauses in his Barcelona contract. Suffice it to say that there are circumstances at work that could make this a beautiful, beuatiful reunion. He's played for Pep. He won silverware. With those desires fulfilled, he could come back to Ashburton Grove to a rapturous embrace. As divided as we are around Suarez, one player we could all agree on would certainly be Cesc.

I'm sure we've all done it before, but it's well-worth envisioning it: Cesc, playing as a false nine or as a second striker behind Giroud, dropping down to receive passes and turning to thread passes to Podolski or Cazorla or Walcott streaking past bewildered defenders. I picture an atom with Cesc as a nucleus, his teammates as protons speeding around him. He's played as a forward for Barcelona and for Spain and has done well: five goals and three assists in ten appearances, according to whoscored.com. If we're looking for a gifted playmaker who can both score and create chances for others, we could do a lot worse than this.

We'd be hard-pressed to better than this, and I certainly hope we try. I want this so bad I'm willing to risk running afoul of Wenger's Law, which stipulates an inverse-relationship between how many headlines link us to a signing a player and how likely we are to signing said player. Think of it: for 40m, we could have Suarez, who might go on to bite, dive, or engage in racism again, or we could have Cesc, who could go on to become the toast of London, a future legend to join the pantheon of names we talk about in breathless whispers along with Bergkamp and Henry and Adams. Suarez is a mere mercenary who may use or abuse Arsenal as a stepping-stone to some other club. Cesc is more a Gunner than Suarez would ever be, and his return would be an epic statement, not just of this club's ambitions, not merely of our willingness to make a statement in the transfer window, but of something grander and more mythic. This would be a signing that marks a moment in the history of a club to which memories return to for decades.

Maybe I'm making too much of the possibility. Even if it did come to pass, maybe it wouldn't be enough to vault us over the Manchesters. Maybe we'd still struggle to hold off Spurs to finish fourth yet again. Even so, I'm willing to give it a shot. I hope Arsène feels the same way.

30 July 2013

Emirates Cup Preview: it's clobberin' time, Napoli...

It looks increasingly unlikely that we'll hear of any major transfers before this weekend's Emirates Cup, so let's set aside the feudin' and a-fussin' and get down to some fightin'. We have a number of tricksy clubs coming to town, including a sassy one from Napoli, stealers of Gonzalo Higuaín's signature. They deserve a proper thrashing for that (even if we have only ourselves to blame. Scapegoating is always easier than looking oneself in the mirror). More seriously, let's have a quick look at the three teams we'll be hosting as well as the schedule itself. For those not familiar, each team plays twice, with the standard three points for a win and one for a draw, and a point earned for each goal scored on top of that. This year sees Napoli, 2nd place in Serie A this past year; Porto, champions of the Primeira Liga; and Galatasaray, champions of the Süper Lig.

Schedule (London times listed)

Saturday, August 3rd:
  • Arsenal v. Napoli 4:00pm
  • Galatasaray v. Porto: 6:20pm 
Sunday, August 4th:
  • Napoli v. Porto 4:00pm 
  • Arsenal v. Galatasaray 6:20pm 
I don't know if you can talk of a favorable draw--I might have argued that Porto would offer the stiffest challenge a few weeks ago before transfers took place. Now, however, I wonder if Napoli is the biggest threat to us winning our own tournament. More on that below as we run through the three teams.

Napoli 
First, we really need to settle their hash. They've been nothing but trouble since selling Cavani. His transfer drove up prices, tightened the market, and, of course, gave Napoli cash to spend on Higuaín. Had we just boosted our bid instead of fawning over Suarez, we'd have Higuaín. Our fault. Similarly, Napoli's nabbing of Reina might further complicate our pursuit of Julio César, half-hearted though that has been. It remains to be seen how well these two additions can bed in, having just joined the squad last week. They've made a number of other minor additions, such as Raul Albiol and José Callejon (is there anyone from Real Madrid who hasn't signed with Napoli?) to make up for some equally minor departures. Napoli hosted and defeated Galatasaray 3-1 in a friendly the other night, for what that's worth. Rafa Benítez's tenure at Napoli, ironically, could just begin with one more trophy in London if he can get these players in order. Let's see to it that he doesn't have to suffer that irony.

Porto
As I mentioned, Porto might have offered the stiffest challenge to our winning the Emirates Cup. However, they've suffered the departures of João Moutinho and James Rodriguez, and with no significant replacements signed, have left some holes in their squad, but they'll still have the dangerous Jackson Martinez, scorer of 26 goals in 20 appearances last year. Without Moutinho to organize things, Porto will have to rely even more on Martinez to score—something he may struggle to do if our defense can focus on stopping him. As with Napoli, Porto seems interested in snatching players before we can; they've been strongly linked with Bernard even as we've come closer to signing the diminutive Brazilian. However, we don't get to face Porto, so there's not much in the way of revenge for us to pursue, at least on the pitch. We may just have to settle for signing Bernard instead.

Galatasaray
Eboué! Eboué! Eboué! Eboué! Eboué! C'mon, admit it. He might just be your favorite ex-Gunner. He may have bottled a few here and there, but he injured John Terry once, and that counts for something, doesn't it? I kid. One should never seek to injure another human being. Then again, John Terry. Let's move on. There was a time when I actually started to fear this team; they deployed not just Eboué but Sneijder and Drogba. However, Drogba is aging and decrepit and no longer strikes fear into my heart. However, this is a feisty team, and we'd be remiss to overlook them. For one, merely typing the team's name stretches me to the limits of my abilities. They did give Real Madrid a run in the Champions League, winning 3-2 at home but losing 3-0 at the Bernabeu to fall on aggregate, 5-3. We might look down our collective noses at the Süper Lig, but Galatasaray didn't advance to the Champions League quarterfinal based on good looks alone (I promise I'm not slighting Drogba with that suggestion).

Long story short, this could be a barn-burner, especially if we falter against Napoli. They strike me as the toughest team among the three we've invited. A lot depends on which players each team sends out, of course, but I like our chances even if some of our youngsters feature ahead of first-teamers. Zelalem and Akpom in particular looked sharp on the Asia Tour. It should be exciting one way or another, that's for sure.

If you have any predictions or insider knowledge that I'm not privy to, feel free to share. While you're here, consider going over and voting in the 2012-13 YAMA Awards for Arsenal bloggers and writers. Woolwich 1886 is honored to be nominated as a Best New Blog. Thanks!

28 July 2013

Who needs Suarez or Higuain when we have Chuba Akpom?

I exaggerate a bit of course, but such is my despair at missing out on Higuain and my disdain for our pursuit of Suarez that I can't resist talking up this beast, this man-child, this seventeen-year old savant on whose slender but strong shoulders the future of Arsenal (and of the Three Lions) may rest. I don't think I exaggerate when I suggest that he might be one of the most exciting young prospects to come down the Arsenal pipeline in a while. His combination of size, speed, and touch on the ball are at times breath-taking.

His potential is so vast that, I'll freely admit, just typing him up gives me goose-bumps. Check this compilation from XavierGooner14 and tell me you've not become a true-believer. The lad seems to already bring a complete package to the field, and his progress through the ranks is remarkable. To wit: he made his debut with Arsenal's U18s at 15 and frequently leads the attack for our U21s and England's U19s. He's still only 17, by the way.

Before we engage in a breathless, fanboy run-down of his qualities, here's a quick listing of some of his achievements, offered in no particular order of importance:

  • four goals in three games on the Asia Tour, including a a late game-winner vs. Urawa Red diamond.
  • six goals in seven games for England's U19s.
  • five goals in thirteen games for Englansd's U17s.
  • ten goals in ten games for Arsenal's U21 Premier League Elite Group (including braces against Man U, Spurs, and Wolverhampton).
Simply put, he has a nose for goal, and a left foot, a right foot, and a head. Such is his growing reputation that he was brought up to sit on the bench for the second leg against Olympiakos in the Champions League group stage (by which point Arsenal had qualified for the round of 16) to give him a glimpse of the first-team in action (in all fairness, the "first team" did include Squillaci and Chamakh). Seeing his fellow Academy players Jernade Meade and Martin Angha see time on the pitch must have motivated Akpom to push his game to the next level; he went on to decimate the U21 Premier League Elite Group with those aforementioned 10 goals in 10 games. Without making any direct comparisons, that's 0.01 goals per minute, compared to Luis Suarez's 0.007 goals per minute in the Premier League. Put another way, Akpom is 1.5 times better than Suarez. I kid. Suffice it to say that the U21 Elite Group is not the Prem. On the other hand, Akpom has been immersed in the Arsenal Way since 'round about the age of six.

Let's set Suarez to the side for now and focus on the emerging, exquisite beauty that is Akpom. He is huge, standing 1.83m (6') and, again, at 17, might still have a growth spurt or two left in him. Whereas my previous post on Gedion Zelalem extolled his slight frame as a virtue (as it would encourage him to develop other skills), Akpom seems already well on his way to relying on virtues other than size to achieve. As you can see from the video, he doesn't merely shoulder his way past defenders, relying on brainless brawn to create (and convert) opportunities. Instead, he seems to bring an intuitive sense of position, balance, and timing to the game, such that he seems to know just where to be and when. These are qualities that are difficult to instill, but Akpom seems to have absorbed them already. While other players have resorted to size at the expense of developing actual touch or skill, Akpom has raised his game by looking to use his head as well as his size.

Still dubious? Check his deft bit of footwork in the video at the 46-second or again at the 1:24  or again at the 2:21 mark. It's hardly Ronaldinho, but it's quicker footwork than we've seen from a center-forward in a while. It might be a while before we see him appear in the Prem, but given what he's shown, it'll be sooner rather than later that we see him at the Emirates. It's far too soon to anointing anyone, but Akpom should certainly make a few cameos in the league cup, perhaps the FA Cup, and maybe even the Champions League group stage if possible.

Whichever way you slice it, consider how delicious it would be to see Akpom shouldering aside or speeding past Terry, Vidic, or Kompany to score—he's done it again and again against other defenders. He might be a few years away from featuring, and he may not be the saviour we're looking for in the short term, but, in these uncertain times, it is reassuring and, yes, inspiring to think of him terrorizing the Prem. Keep bringing it, Chuba, and we'll be chanting your name from here to kingdom-come.

Last but not least, the 2012-13 YAMA Awards for Best Arsenal bloggers, writers, and tweeters looks set to close soon--I hope you'll consider voting for Woolwich 1886 in the "Best New Arsenal Blog" category. Thanks!