ARSENAL PLAYERS LOSE THEIR HEADS?

November 22, 2010

By Red Arse

How do you rate a player’s performance in a game?

After our dismal second half performance against Spurs on Saturday, I thought to myself, how do I explain that outcome? Well, I cannot know what either ‘Arry or Arsene’s role was in the dramatic change of fortune but I can offer an opinion on the players’ performances, but how can I rate them meaningfully?

Here is a suggestion for you to consider.

So you have been to the game, read the reports in the papers and now your eye drops to the box which shows the players’ names, and the reporter’s rating of each player’s performance, marked out of 10.
The usual outburst tends to follow. “What? That’s outrageous! 8 my arse! He gave him an 8? That’s a ridiculous score. He had a terrible game; he missed that tackle on the edge of the box, and also missed what should have been a simple tap in, from the winger’s cross. It should have been a 6, at best!” — And so on, and so on –.

The rating of a player’s performance is very subjective but causes much irate discussions between fans. And that is not surprising because there is no standard formula for comparing individual performances.
For example, — is the player being marked against his own expected standards, based on previous games played, or against the standards of the best player, in a particular position? Is an allowance to be made for the age or relative inexperience of the player? Or is it subjective, because you have a soft spot for the home players, commonly known as describing all your “ugly ducklings as swans”.
Clearly there is no agreed formulaic method, so I am going to propose one!
First, we need to go back and see what we can learn from history.
Throughout the Roman Empire, games were held every holiday or festival, indeed not unlike our Saturday football ritual, which usually entailed gladiators fighting animals, and the performance ratings were straight forward. You either killed the wild animal, and were treated as a hero, or you were killed and it was game over!

But there was another massively popular type of entertainment, a gladiator versus gladiator match up. Each man selected a weapon of choice, be it a sword and shield, or a spear and net, or a mace and dagger.
After a usually bloody encounter, there was often an outright winner where one of the gladiators was killed, leaving the survivor to be greeted as a hero and winning all the accolades.

Just occasionally, one man would be exhausted, disabled and lay prostrate before the victorious gladiator. The accepted practise was for the crowd to then decide the outcome. They would recommend the “coup de grace”, (killing strike), if they thought the loser had put on a poor show. If the crowd thought the fight had been entertaining, and the loser had fought well, they would sometimes recommend clemency, and his life would be spared.
So how was this “rating” communicated?

The crowd, apart from howling their exhortations to the Emperor, would gesticulate, holding their hands aloft and clenched into fists with the thumb extended.
Crucially, if the thumb was held pointing aloft, they were beseeching the Emperor to spare the life of the loser, if, however, the thumb was pointed downward, they were showing their disapproval of the performance and demanding that the loser be fatally dispatched!
So how can we use this simple, straightforward method of “rating”?
I PROPOSE: that the losing team are to be individually subjected to the fans judgement, using the same simple old Roman system of choice. To encourage fans’ participation, we could also use the power of the word to expedite matters, so that amusing chants would be awarded an extra point for the team.

So here we go;
A good, albeit losing, performance would receive a “thumbs up” and the player would be free to play the next game.
A mediocre performance would receive a trembling, horizontally held thumb and the player would only be suspended for the next game.
Then, the finale — a player who clearly had played poorly, in the opinion of the fans, or who had broken the leg of any Arsenal player, would see the execution paraphernalia rolled out, accompanied by the downward pointing of myriad thumbs and, the sombre sound of the fans displeasure, baying for his head, and chanting;

“He needs a short, sharp shock from a cheap chippy chopper on a big black block.”
Or
“Bing bang bong, it’s your head or your dong!”

This would have the immediate effect of;
· Standardising players’ ratings;
· Ridding the game of the clogging leg breakers;
· Ensuring only fabulous Wengerball would be played;
· Improving the standard of the fans’ chants.

All those in favour say AYE! ———— “AYE!”

OK, OK, I can hear some of you saying what a load of twaddle. We need something more modern to gauge our players’ performances by.
Well what about putting your thinking caps on, and make some suggestions of your own as to how we should rate performances, in a consistent manner, in the real world?

Should we, for instance;
· Make allowances for age? Those players under 20 would get an extra 2 point weighting, so a 5 out of 10 becomes a 7?
· Make allowances/comparisons for previous performances? A player who rated a crappy 5 last time out, but played much better in the current game, would get an extra 1 for the effort?
· Perhaps Goal Keepers, who only need to make one mistake to lose a game, but who can play brilliantly in a poor team performance and save a point, should be rated separately and marked out of 12?
· Should an extra mark be awarded/deducted for wearing a particularly fetching pink outfit, a la FabiPinkski?
· Perhaps points should be deducted for any player wearing bilious Bendtner type boots.
· Or, should we say — sod all that, let the reporter give the marks he wants, and then tear him an extra one if we disagree with him?
Let us have your views, the majority view will prevail!

ARSENAL, THE TEAM THAT WILL MAKE US PROUD!

Advertisements

Cesc Needs To Apologise..

November 21, 2010

I’m not going to comment on the game..What’s to be said? We all know what happened. I don’t wish to go over it again.

What I do want to comment on is Cesc Fabregas and his stupid handball in the penalty box that lead to VDV’s leveller..What was he thinking??

If that was Denilson or Diaby or Song, they would be getting crucified right now, am I wrong??? I honestly think that Cesc’s little show of  dipstickness was the biggest individual error by an Arsenal player for a long time.. Cesc has now overtaken the likes of Fabianski and Almunia in the Arsenal hall of fame of fuck ups…

Unbelievable..

What bothers me the most is that he has done this before. Last year against the Dippers, Cesc did the exact same thing.. We were a goal up and he blocked a free kick  with his hand in the box.. We got away with it and we won, but what made him think he could get away with it again?? Especially at a time when England’s Refs and media want Cesc booked for everything.

He gave them a penalty from nothing. He cost us our lead and gave Spurs the momentum they needed to win the match. He cost us that game and he needs to say sorry..

Cesc needs to take a long look in the mirror, get his head down and lead us to the title.

I don’t wish to see that little stunt a third time..


Arsene’s A*se is Well and Truly Bitten.

September 26, 2010

I thought it was about time I awoke from my blog slumber and made an effort to put my hands on a keyboard, to be honest I felt like doing it last Wednesday after we beat the Marsh Landers, but although it was nice to beat the Spuds, the stopping of the gobbing off and text messages was more akin to scraping something unpleasant off the bottom of my shoe, they are just an unnecessary irritation. Not a reason for celebration.

We have spent five years blooding youngsters in the Mickey Mouse cup and making excuses when we are knocked out, then we field a half decent side to win a game and we act like we have done another double..

Pathetic, That’s double standards the Spuddies are not our rivals anymore, Real Madrid, Juve, Barca etc they are. The Emirates Cup is just as important as the Carling at least we play decent teams in that pre season competition, well except Rangers of course.

To top it off and to prove Arsene right in the way that he used to rest the first team in the MM Cup, on Tuesday we fielded a strong team considering our injury problems culminating in resting key players yesterday who are vital to the team, especially while Cesc is out, so we went on to lose our next Premiership game.

What happened yesterday is so sickening, where does it go so wrong?
The pundits on Talk Sh**e on the radio were talking of Arsenal and Chelsea going through the season unbeaten (again in our case), Almunia was a reformed character, and the Squillaci and Kosceilny are the greatest CB’s since sliced bread (Hovis and Kingsmill the famous double winning pairing), well at least we don’t have to wait for the Chavs to knock us off our pedestal.
Yesterday we just got beat, no humiliated at home by a team whose town has a Building Society more famous than their football club.

It always goes wrong when Diaby plays, does anyone know the players who started in the games we lost last year? I am sure he was on the team sheet for most of them, coincidence.. mmm

It goes wrong when Eboue plays at anything other than right back.

If Cesc plays we can afford to drop the creative players and the better passers of the ball. When he is out we need Rosicky, Wilshere and dare I say it “gulp” Denilson in the starting line up.

Song, Diaby and Eboue don’t work… any one of them in midfield with the others is just bearable but any two and we stifle Arshavin and Nasri of any creative linking up.

We normally wait for Chelsea or the Man U games for Arsene to try out that sort of line up. But yesterday the mighty WBA beat us, and beat us fair and bloody square.

I have only watched the game on a mosaic quality stream and I will try to re-watch the game before I do some player ratings.

I watched some of the game again on Sky before I fell asleep (I knew the world of pop concerts at my age would catch up with me), but I saw exactly what was happening, no creativity only from Nasri, this caused Sagna to be our main attacking option, this is where we need a DM to sit to allow the CH’s to cover the full backs when thay are upfield. But Song was in the WBA penalty area.
Basically we were pulled out of shape.

Almunia. 4 .. Had his worse game in an Arsenal shirt and he saved a penalty. We all know he has to go, Arsene never helped his confidence in the summer and the fans are certainly not helping him now, but we need to back him at least until the transfer window opens in January or it could be season over.

Sagna. 7.. I thought he played well, he was the main attacking force and never got anyone to link with or cover his defensive duties.

Squllaci. 6. The best of the centre halves I think he will partner Tommy when he is back.

Kosceilny.. 5.. He was at fault for the chance that lead to the penalty decision, he has a touch of the Sendersarous about him, he gets too close and can be turned when he charges in.

Clichy. 6.5.. 100% effort cannot always turn a game, he needs to link up better with the midfield.

Song.. 6.. Why he is playing so far up the pitch? I really don’t understand, Arsene needs to have a word and get him back in his best position.

Eboue. 5. He spends the whole game running a diagonal from the half way line to the edge of the “D” not allowing the creative midfielder space or helping Sagna out defensively… back to the bench please.

Diaby 4.5.. No effort, no creativity, lapsidazical performance,

Nasri. 8.. The only player worthy to play in the red and white yesterday, would have got an extra point if we were a winning side.

Chamakh..6.5.. Things weren’t happening on the ground for him and he never got the perfect cross to head a goal.

Arshavin.. 6.5. It is easy to mark him down when we losebecause he looks lazy and uncaring, yet when we win we love his arrogance, hit the post eary on that could have changed the games outcome.

Subs .


Rosicky.. 6
.. I am still waiting for the old Thomas to come back to his true form that should make him one of the first choices on the team sheet, he had one of the best shots in the Premiership back in those days, fingers crossed with a bit of confidence after one screams in he will be back.


Wilshere. 7
.. We shouldn’t be relying on Jack as much as we do, if Cesc isn’t playing he is our midfield general. I really hope we can keep him happy and his head doesn’t get turned by the bigger wage packet boys.

Vela..4.5. Too lightweight, he always manages to look good for the cameo rolls when is comes on in a winning side, but start him or expect him to change a game .. nil points..

This time last season we went through the same thing, with defeats to the two Manchesters, this year it feels much worse, drawing to Sunderland and losing at home..
Still onwards and upwards, lets hope the Red Sox lose today and damage is limited.


From Utter Jubilation To Utter Rubbish. Hang Your Heads In Shame Boys.

September 25, 2010

How can everything go this wrong in the space of a few days?

A few days ago we were celebrating making mashed potato out of the swamp donkeys in a cup competition on their own patch. Tonight we sit with our head in our hands, knowing that with Chelsea losing we had the perfect opportunity to catch up to them..I’m not bothered about being second at this stage of the season, Chavski have had an easy fixture list so far and as long as we hang in there and don’t get left too far behind, we can give ourselves a good chance to overtake and start to pull away once their hard line up of games starts to kick in. But for some unknown reason we go concede 3 goals at home to a team that haven’t scored away from home all season..

Whats all that about??

I’m not having anyone blaming the fans either. After Wednesdays game everyone was happy and the fans were fully behind the boys. After a good start to the season the fans were also starting to believe and then we go and play like that. The team and the manager have nobody to blame but themselves.

I’m quite frustrated right now. I don’t understand why we didn’t turn up. Were we that arrogant to think that WBA were cannon fodder and we could beat them in first gear?

Why on earth after all the talent we possess in our midfield we chose to play Eboue in there? Especially when players like Jack and Tomas on the bench. I know they played a midweek fixture but so did Eboue and if they are fit enough to be on the bench they are fit enough to start. Take them off after an hour when the games won. Dont start an average right back in the middle. It’s just asking for trouble. Weve seen it too many times.

Absolutely ridiculous. I hope Wenger fines them all, barring Nasri, for that shambolic display. There are no excuses. Barring one man the whole team ought to give up a weeks wages and apologise to the fans on the official website. I know we are a team but if you score two goals and the rest of your team plays like a group of turds then you have every right to escape criticism and be angry with your team mates. 

To add insult to injury we recently announced profits big enough to have orgasms over. Being a money-making machine as well as competing in the top four in modern-day football is nothing to be sniffed at and although I should be happy my club is so rich I find it a complete and utter kick in the bollox that after the figures being thrown around we wasted our summer chasing a 110 year old goal keeper for £2 million..

 Lets just clear this up once and for all.

Im satisfied with Arsene’s outfield improvements. Kos, Squidgy and Chamakh look good additions, but im astounded we are stuck with the same keepers. Almunia’s a good number 2. He’s a good keeper but he’s not consistent enough throughout the season. He’s good for the odd game. Fabianski is useless. He’s nowhere near the standard required to be a top-level GK in the PL and he’s in his mid twenties, how many more mistakes do we have to see?? HE’S NOT GOOD ENOUGH. END OF!!

The other two are too young and if Chesser is good as everyone says he is – including himself then i want to see him go out on loan again only this time to a PL club. I want to see if he can do what Hart did and then and only then will we know if he’s Arsenals future no 1..

I fully expected AW to strengthen the GK position and after seeing the profits for the year im confused as to why we couldn’t find anyone better than Almunia for more than £2 million.

Basically Arsenal are rich but there’s no point bragging about it because we never use it and we can score goals from anywhere but we still make the defensive errors that make schoolboys look world-class.

 I sit here and write this in frustration at the team’s performance today so apologies if it appears to be a rant. Maybe I will have calmed down after a few frosty ones and a good nights sleep but to be honest I’m getting sick of these half arsed performances I keep seeing every year against below average teams.  We are becoming known for it now and it always come back to bite us on the backside at the end off the season. One point from Sunderland and WBA is not champion form and it’s the games like these we need to win.

I hate to lose and I know losing is part of the game, but losing without effort really pisses me off.


What Now For Theo??

September 6, 2010

After spending a few relaxing weeks in the sun, I’m still struggling to get up to date with all things Arsenal. Although it’s still early days, the main two things that have caught my attention are the failure to purchase a new goalkeeper this summer, as well as the recent re-emergence of Theo Walcott..

I’m going to say no more about the GK situation for now..I’m feeling the need for a positive post today so im going to share my thoughts with you over young Mr Walcott..

To be honest I’ve never been impressed with Theo and I’m still yet to be convinced. Over the past few years the lad has failed to live up to any potential.. I find him irritating in that he has so much pace, yet doesn’t know how yet to use it.. Recurring errors in his final ball and his shockingly poor ball control make him look out of his depth in the Arsenal squad.. He’s not a Wengerball player and he struggles to fit the system.

His main problem to me is that he puts his head down and runs anywhere he can. This attribute tends to lead him into a lot of blind alleys and he more often than not ends up giving the ball away cheaply. A player of his pace should be terrorising the defences not giving them the ball back every time he gets it..

After a few seasons of me saying he couldn’t beat an egg and he couldn’t finish his dinner he has stood up to be counted after a difficult and distracting summer for the club as a whole and has left me impressed with the way he has responded. 4 goals already is a fantastic return and if anyone has an issue with the about the club at the minute I don’t think there’s one person out there that would say their issue is Theo. He has been one of the shining lights at the start of this season and credit where credit is due.

To be honest I don’t think anything about Theos game has really changed.. He’s still got more flaws than a tower block but he’s finally found what he’s good at.

Finishing..

Theo has got more selfish and instead of running down the wings he’s started to come inside like Freddie used to and have a run at goal.  He’s not tried the dribbling, passing and the crossing as much and it helps because he’s not that type of player. He’s too fast, there’s no point in running down the wing to try to pick a pass to a team-mate because nobody can keep up with him and there’s no point trying to dribble because he just leaves the ball behind.

He’s not a play maker. He’s not a creator. He’s stopped trying to be the trigger and I think he’s starting to realise he’s the bullet..

Keep doing what you’re doing Theo. Keep coming inside and having pops at goal. Just kick it and chase it and shoot..Keep your game simple and you’ll score goals for fun in this team..Let the others do the tricks and flicks you just head for those sticks..

His pace is too much to deal with and if he can keep that direct selfish streak and stay fit he could win us the league. Theo needs to forget about his team mates. He leaves them in his dust and the only thing that should be on his mind is to shoot.

Sometimes I’m over critical of Theo. I’ve even had a dig at him for writing a children’s book, but listening to his interviews he seems to be a nice polite lad. I’d rather a player who writes books for kids than a player who cheats on his pregnant wife, wouldn’t you?

After whats been a bad summer for English football in general Theo has done the nation and the club proud by doing his talking on the pitch.

Cheers Fabio. Dropping Theo was the best decision you made all summer..

What now for Theo. The PL Golden Boot..

<strong>


Wengers Squad Looks Strong, But Is It Strong Enough??

August 14, 2010

So here it is..

The new season is about to start and I think we would all agree that no matter what our take is on the strength and depth of certain areas of our squad, we are all grateful and excited that kick off is just around the corner..

We have a fantastic team with some world-class individuals and I for one can’t wait to see the lads run out onto the pitch on Sunday..It’s a new season..It’s a fresh start and if we can miraculously keep the core of our key players fit for the majority of the season it would be silly to suggest we cant lift some kind silverware with this squad..You can never rule Arsenal out.. Fergie will tell you that!!

Arsene has been criticised for his transfer activity (or lack of)  this summer, but nobody can deny that if any other team in the PL had just signed the likes of Frimpong, JET, Jack and Gibbs, they would have been happy with their summer purchases..

The attacking options Arsene has at his disposal are mouth-watering and the promotion of the ‘next generation’ of Wengerball’s finest is food for thought for any media hack who dares to say we wont be a force to be reckoned with..

Arsene’s much criticised policy has never seen us drop out of the top four. I don’t expect that to change this year. 

That being said, I do see the problems that Arsenal will face this season. I’m a firm believer that we didn’t last the pace last term because the non stop clangers our ‘keepers kept making and have been making for the past few years, caught up with us and we also ran out of top quality CB’s…

We are currently going into the new season with the same clanger filled Goalkeeping options and even less CB’s than before…I see this as a major cause for concern.

Going forward we are a match for anyone but our shockingly apparent Achilles heel at the back is there for all to see once again and I’m astonished how much of the transfer window has passed without so much of an effort being made to rectify these problems..

I don’t buy into the fact that transfers are hard to complete nowadays due to factors such as – Does the player want to leave and do the club want to sell him even if he does??? For certain, these are key factors, but do people really think that with all our scouts and with all the players in all the leagues in all the world, Koscienly was the only player we could find to replace the 4 Cb’s we lost in the summer??? Arsenal are a massive club. A top 4 English club and a top 8 European club. I  don’t believe for one minute players don’t want to join us and  dont believe for one minute we couldn’t find anyone suitable for the position ability wise for the right price..

I know there’s a few weeks left of the window but not signing another CB before the dealine could lead to serious problems..There are no excuses for not reinforcing this area of the team..The problem is obvious and has been for the last few seasons. Even more so now we’ve lost so many players for that position over the summer..

It’s not that we don’t have any good players at the back because we do. The problem is we don’t have enough of them. Going into a new PL season with only 3 recognised CB’s is a massive risk..We have strength and depth in abundance in all other areas of the pitch so why are we so unbalanced at the back and why has it been allowed to get to this stage?

If a club is between transfer windows and they have been left with only 3 CB’s then it’s a problem that’s part of football..Your running out of CB’s and there’s not much you can do about it but put square pegs in round holes and try to adapt..Fair enough.

The difference with Arsenal is that we’ve had 2 months of transfer window to solve this problem and we are still going into the opening game of the season short of CB’s.. I’m struggling to understand the reason why are we handicapping ourselves before the season has even started.. We couldn’t even keep 6 CB’s fit last season so what makes Wenger think 3 will do the trick this time..An injury to Tommy V would leave us without any CB with any real PL experience under his belt. That pretty much puts the CB position at Arsenal in the same bracket as Blackpool’s…

Add to that the fact that AW doesn’t know who his number 1 is and it would be fair to suggest we are just not learning from anything the last 5 years have shown us and its hugely frustrating..

This Arsenal side is beginning to remind me a little of Keegan’s Newcastle.. Plenty of flair going forward and not much at the back. It’s not easy to win the best league in the world if your philosophy is –  lets just have a playground kick about and hope we outscore the opposition 38 games of the season..

We really need to learn how to defend better this season and a good start would be to have a few more defensive players to choose from..

We’ve got the players to win us the big games.

Chamakh looks the real deal. RvP has slowly risen to the ranks of Arsenal icon over the past few years..Before his injury last term its fair to say that he was in the world-class bracket..Cesc is world-class and he wants to win trophies whoever he plays for – he’ll be top drawer again this season.. Nasri looks pissed off hungry and he’s going to be one to watch this year. I think the lad showed in pre season why we paid 12 mil for him and if he finds consistency to the quality of talent he has, he will tear the PL to bits..

We are better equipped this season than any of our rivals in terms of attacking power..If we can strengthen at the back and keep our defence tight we will clear up…

Have a good weekend guys..I’m off to the bookies and I’m doing my first footy coupon of the season..Im so excited..Lets hope for some good football today, a 6-0 win tomorrow and a couple of new signings on monday..


DRAWING A LINE UNDER THINGS – AT LEAST UNTIL THE END OF THIS SEASON.

August 7, 2010

Written by Oliver..

Two days after returning to London, Cesc Fabregas issued an official statement in which he committed his immediate future to Arsenal. He started off by apologizing to us Arsenal supporters for not speaking out earlier, stating he had not decided what he really wanted to do until “this moment”. He further indicated that he was (is?) seriously considering a move to Barcelona, and implying that the move did not happen primarily because of Arsenal’s refusal to sell. He paid tribute to Arsenal and us supporters and stated this issue is now closed and he will be completely focused for Arsenal, will not think of Barca and will give his absolute best for us. Here is the actual statement:


Firstly I would like to apologize to all the Arsenal fans for not speaking sooner about my future but I have not known what I was going to do until this moment,


‘I cannot deny that joining a club like Barcelona was not an attractive move for me.


‘This was the club where I learned my football; it is my home town where my friends and family are and a club where I have always dreamed of playing.


‘There are not many players in the world who would not want to play for Barcelona.


‘I have had many conversations with Arsene Wenger both in person and over the phone over the last few months and although the content of those conversations will remain private, the conclusion is that Barcelona have had two formal offers rejected by Arsenal.


‘I am a professional and I fully understand that it is Arsenal’s prerogative not to sell me.


‘I owe a lot to the club, manager and the fans and I will respect their decision and will now concentrate on the new season ahead with Arsenal.


‘I can assure all the fans that now the negotiations have ended I will be 100 per cent focused on playing for Arsenal.


‘I am an Arsenal player and as soon as I step out on to the pitch that is the only club I will be thinking about.


‘I am looking forward to the start of the season and putting this speculation behind me.’

So that is that, then….Or is it?

Not quite. I think this statement will disappoint many in that it is not unequivocal enough to prevent future speculation. Given Cesc’s established stance that he would like to return to FC Barcelona someday, I did not really expect a long-term commitment. Perhaps he could have committed for the length of his existing contract, but that would not account for changing realities from season to season. A situation may arise in the next season or two where transferring Cesc to Barcelona is in the club’s best interest. Nevertheless, there are several things that Cesc said provide some insight into how he feels.

Those who have read my previous comments here on Avenell know where I stand on Cesc: throughout the summer, I felt that Cesc was struggling with which team he wanted to join. He is Captain of Arsenal, the team that made him what he is today. But he is also very publicly being courted by Barcelona, the team he grew up supporting, the one his family supports, and the one he began his youth career with. Add virtually the entire Barcelona team whispering in his ear during the six weeks before/during the World Cup, members of his family/inner circle quite possibly trying to engineer a move to Barcelona and hearing the Catalan media talk about him “returning home” day in and day out, and it is not difficult to see how his emotions may have been pulled in different directions. I also felt that he deliberately kept his silence – and I am not talking about the media-twisted and distorted quotes held up as proof he wanted to leave us – because he did not really know what he wanted to do and was not willing to say anything to possibly give one side and advantage over another, should transfer negotiations ever commence. Finally, I felt throughout the summer that if everything were equal – no external perception issues, an atmosphere for good negotiations existing – he would prefer a transfer to Barcelona. His statement seems to corroborate some of that, but certainly not all.

From Cesc’s statement, I infer that while he did not decide his preference “until this moment”, he had “leaned” a lot closer towards Barcelona than Arsenal than I suspected. I say this because he implies that his decision was mostly due to Arsenal’s refusal to sell, while also emphasizing the attraction Barcelona holds for him. That debunks my premise that he was genuinely undecided for much of the summer. Indeed, his statement about “respecting (Arsenal’s) decision” – with nothing said regarding his emotion towards it – indicates he will not elaborate on how he actually feels about it. Take what you will from that.

Cesc and Arsene both admitted to talking over the summer. No surprise there. I had felt, however, with the premise that with Cesc remaining undecided, he had never actually told Arsene that he preferred to go to Barcelona. Taking his statement as a whole, I now believe there was a point – possibly in a later conversation, and not the first or second (which the media constantly says Cesc told Arsene he wants to leave) – where Cesc did in fact tell Arsene that he would prefer a transfer to Barcelona and possibly even asked Arsene to start negotiating. It is likely (although not 100 per cent certain) that Arsene did not negotiate. I now think that Cesc wanted a transfer more than I had previously thought.

With all of the above, it appears as this summer’s saga will end as I thought it would: Captain Cesc leading the Arsenal team out on the Anfield pitch on August 15th. I know this is not the end of the saga, just one chapter. I further think that we will have intense transfer speculation about another important player next summer, not only Cesc. I do not know who it will be, but I think several players will have very good seasons – and if we win something, that will fuel speculation even more.

As Arsenal supporters we now have a choice. Support our Captain, take his words at face value and cheer our team on, believing he is the professional he says he is: perhaps disappointed at not transferring this summer, yet able to completely set that aside and give everything he has in him to lead our team to success this season. Able to put the future where it belongs – in the future – and concentrate on the here and now, Arsenal. Or do not support him. Demand his relief as Arsenal Captain for wanting to transfer to Barcelona this summer, expect an un-motivated, sulking, malcontent Cesc, and see our season collapse around us. Most of us will choose based on how we view Cesc’s actions and non-actions over the summer. For myself, I believe Cesc is fully committed to us for this season and will do everything he possibly can to help us win something. I will worry about the off-season in the off-season. The way I see it, so many things can change between now and the end of May, that I do not feel it is necessary to worry about that now. For those who choose not to support Cesc, you may well be proved correct in the end. But at this moment, we do not know how this season – and Cesc’s performance – will turn out. He says he “owes us a lot”. I feel I owe him my unconditional support. It is my choice and I feel it is the least I can do.

(this would not be an oliver post without a reference to my struggling baseball team, the new york mets, but not today. it is all about cesc today).