It appears that the silly season has developed a mind of its own and has decided to parody itself, swerving from "sensible" rumors (a concept that might reduce traditional zen koans to rubble) to offer some stories so outlandish as to leave us wondering just what planet we're living on. Then again, ten months ago, "Mesut Özil to Arsenal" might have qualified for the latter, so what do I know? Nothing. I think I'm still paraphrasing Greek philosophy. I may have switched to Operation Ivy (only click the link if you're in the mood for sloppy ska-punk from the late 1980s). And so we come to the baffling suggestions that we're moving for Frank Lampard and Gareth Barry.
23 May 2014
The worm has turned. It is Arsenal that have silverware in hand, and Barcelona that have gone begging. As such, it is only natural that the exodus of Gunners to Camp Nou reverse. Instead seeing the departures of Hleb and Overmars, Petit and Song and Van Bronckhorst, Henry and Fàbregas, we could see the return of a son so prodigal that many of us seem willing to any price, financial or strategic, to bring him back. Do we need him? After all, we have a glut of creative, attack-minded midfielders, and our most-pressing need is at striker. Then again, Fàbregas has shown that he has the chops to lead the line. Why not?
21 May 2014
Looks like I stepped in it this time. If comments are anything to go by, that is. Earlier in the day (Wednesday), I ran a post under the title "Transfer-shocker: Winning Welshman wants away from Wenger" with the goal of mocking the silly season. Earlier in the week, there had been numerous stories suggesting that Aaron Ramsey would be linked with as many as ten clubs, with quotes from former Gunner John Hartson suggesting the same. I chose to exploit that in the title, hoping to draw readers in in order to then satirize the absurdities of the summer transfer-window, but I crossed a line, and I apologize. There is no hint of defensiveness or sarcasm intended. I'm sorry.
In devastating news sure to take the bloom off the rose of Arsenal's FA Cup win, reports indicate that Aaron Ramsey, scorer of the Cup-winning goal, may look for a move away from the Emirates, still stung by the ferocity of the vitriol he faced as recently as last season. Instead of feeling vindicated through a season that saw him score sixteen goals in all competitions while becoming a talismanic player, it appears as if his rejuvenation has brought with it a new does of ambition as he's linked to the likes of Bayern Munich and others.
20 May 2014
It's been a long time coming, but redemption takes time. Of course, the last two seasons have offered absolution enough as Laurent Koscielny has become a bedrock of Arsenal's defence. By now, we're all familiar with his accomplishments as a defender, and his partnering with Per has provided a solid platform for the squad as whole. The clean-sheets, the stability, the tackles and clearances...all of these have become standard fare for Gooners. However, as with the trophy-drought itself, there has always lurked on the edge of our consciousness a lingering doubt—one that might finally have been exorcised, even if not fully expunged, from our memories.
It's been quite a year for Arsenal's keepers, what with Szczęsny sharing the Golden Glove with Čech and Fabiański's role in in winning the FA Cup. Further afield, let's not overlook Vito Mannone, who might not have ever fully convinced at Arsenal but has more than made a name for himself with Sunderland, having been named their Player of the Year. He's no longer a Gunner, of course, but owes some part of his development to his time with the club. Taken all together, the three represent an embarrassment of riches at one position—if only it could last.
It's hard to imagine Arsenal without Bacary Sagna. If nothing else, he's one of the longest-serving members of the club, having been here since July 2007, an eternity buy today's mercenary standards. As his contract-talks have stuttered, stalled, and apparently stopped, it's high-time we look into other options. Chief among them might be none other than Man City's Micah Richards, who might just find himself sitting third chair behind Zabaleta and Sagna should Sagna's move to the Etihad go through. With a deal worth £150,000 a week reportedly in the makings, Sagna might have more than one foot out the door. It's hard to imagine a UEFA-sanctioned club committing that much money to an ageing right-back, but who am I to quibble?
19 May 2014
Wow. What a brilliant, epic final that was. Of course, part of the brilliance comes from having won, and the agony that ebbs from Hull might lend a different sheen to the moment, but for the better part of the first half, the Tigers could taste the upset on a stage set just for them. For all of our whingeing about oily money, we still do have a fair amount to spend, and the gap between Hull and us is far wider than the gap between us and, say, Chelsea or Man City. Credit the Tigers; they came out and hit hard early, earning the breaks they got, and we were very nearly stunned into submission. Indeed, it took three stunning goals to deliver victory, and for the winner to come through an assist from a much-maligned French striker from Ligue 1 and an even more-maligned Welsh midfielder makes the result all the more poetic. However, instead of my blathering and dithering, I'll let the video do the talking for me now. Equal parts agony and ecstasy for both clubs and their supporters, this was a final we'll all remember for a while...Follow @woolwich_1886
Basking in the afterglow of Saturday's FA Cup win, it looks as if Arsène will be handed a new contract that pays him £8m per year for the next three years. At first blush, we might say, "why not? He's ended the trophy-drought, and this will surely propel us towards more silverware next season and beyond." Right? Not so fast. We've barely finished celebrating, and in the rapture that follows the victory, should we really be re-committing so soon? It's not as if the win over Hull expunged from the record so many maddening problems in the squad, not to mention Arsène's strategic or tactical decision-making.
18 May 2014
I almost blew it. From a basement in a suburb just north of Chicago, Illinois, I almost blew it. As some of you may recall, I made rash vow to not ever wear my 2004-05 jersey on matchday, not until Arsenal broke its trophy drought. On Saturday, feeling blithe and confident, I put on the shirt, thinking surely, we would win. I made a run to the store. Surely, I'd be back in time to catch kick-off. Twenty antsy, angsty minutes later, I sit down to see we're down....0-2? I chin dropped. As I put my hands to my face, anticipating a debacle to make it a clean decade since we lost won silverware, I saw the crest on my chest—surrounded by a rich field of royal blue. Immediately, I yanked it off, threw it to the floor, and did as many push-ups as I could. I had been too hasty, and we all almost paid dearly for my hubris.