The British Core: And Then There Were 5. Errr, No…6. Errr, No…8.

And Then There Were 5:


And Then There Were 5. Like an Agatha Christie novel. But in reverse. It wasn’t a series of murders at Colney House, where Lord Wenger’s assembled house guests are murdered one by one. In fact, while we’re talking about Agatha Christie, have you ever wondered that even after 3 or 4 of the guests have been murdered over the previous 24 hours, everyone still stays at the house because the weather outside is inclement, or because there will be a reading of the Will, or because the detective has forbidden anyone to leave. Personally, I’d be getting the fuck out of Dodge because I am not the luckiest bastard on the planet. I’m not the most unlucky either. If we started with 10 house guests, I’d be murdered around number 5 or 6. So I’d have been out the window after murder number 3 and haring across the moors. Hounds chasing me? I don’t give a fuck. I’m not staying in that bloody house!

And Then There Were 5

Yes, we have a British core now. 5 players signed. And it’s Exciting. The only two I was a little uncertain about at the time of the photo were Jenks, (who I think will very probably make it) and Ramsey (who I was struggling to picture making a position his own in the future.) But 2 small events have changed that. I think we can see the plan for Ramsey now: understudy to Arteta. Not bad, not bad at all.

And with Jenks, it was an even smaller thing. The shot he took when Rosicky spilled the ball near the edge of the Brighton box. He smacked it first time. A really stinging shot. Unfortunately a little too close to their goalie, but still a corker that reminded me he has so much upside to his game to come.

So I feel pretty good about our 5-man British core.

It’s a shame that Theo is obviously holding out from signing. Clearly, as so many of us stated for the longest time, he is planning to dump the club on a Free over the summer. It’s clear Theo doesn’t recognize that he owes the club anything for developing him over the years. You could see it coming though. Cesc, Nasri, Song, RvP…they’re all the same. They get a chance to hit the jackpot and they take it. I had thought Theo was better than that. Maybe I had hoped it. But apparently he isn’t.

You’ve got to give him that. He SAYS all the right things. Always very polite, very professional, wants to stay with the club, is happy here, blah, blah, blah. But it looks like it’s just a big spin job to maximize his deal for who ever wants to get him on a Free in the summer. We’ve seen this movie before.

It’s the modern footballer, you see. They’re all the same in the end. They don’t remember who took them in and made them. And it turns out Theo was no better.

Strange though. I did think better of Theo. One of the things that always struck me about Theo was his relationship with his girlfriend. Met her when he was a kid at Southampton. Saw her at the shopping center. Asked his mate to go up and ask her out for him. They’ve been steady ever since. He bought her a fancy sports car, a 140k Ferrari, for her 21st birthday, like idiotic guys do. But she sent it back. Grounded. Beautiful girl too, of course. But rather than relying on being a professional WAG, she went off to work on her degree at Uni. Now they’re engaged to be married. Seems like a lovely couple. And he seems like a really good bloke.

Theo Mel

I’m a sucker for that stuff. I guess I just got suckered again. Football is only about business after all.

Theo’s Curse

And wouldn’t you know it, just when Theo was really going from strength to strength, the fucker is off. The guy’s only 23, but carries the expectations of Goonerdom as if he were an old Pro. “Why can’t he do that every game?” I call that Theo’s Curse, having that thrown at him for the rest of his career. Why can’t he do that every game? Why can’t any wide player not named Ronaldo or Messi (OK, Messi plays wherever he wants) not do it every game? As a forward, you get a few moments every game, under extreme pressure, with less reaction time than any other position on the pitch. And you need a little rub of the green. Playing wide forward is one of the toughest gigs there is to show consistency in. And frustrating as hell, too. The midfielders rarely hit you when you’re open, just when you’re in their eye-line. If only they’d hit you when you when you had the drop on everyone.

Last season when I stuck up for Theo while he got a lot of stick,  I’d hear about Bale. I’d hear about Nani. Ashley Young. But most of all I’d have Valencia rammed up my nose. Far more rounded and consistent. He was the poster child for a wide attacking player. The God of Consistency.

Stats for this year:

Now, I’m not going to rubbish Valencia. He’s still a great player. But this consistency thing for a wide attacking player is not that easy after all, is it? Ask Antonio. Ask Nani.

Here is a comparison of the most flaunted and vaunted wingers from last year, when people were knocking Theo. Here are their 2012/13 stats:

Summary Stats

Wingers Summary 3

Note: I equate subbing on as 1/3rd of a game ie 33 mins.
GPG: Goals per Game %    APG: Assists per Game %

Breakout Details

Wingers Detail 3

GS: Games Started   SB: Games Subbed On   G: Goals   A: Assists

Again, I’m not saying these players aren’t really, really good. I’m saying they are really, really good players. And goals and assists aren’t a full representation of a player’s performance. But man oh man do we demand goals and assists from Theo. So…there is your answer on consistency.

And Theo seems to be getting better with every month that goes by.

Walcott Celeb

Gus Poyet on Theo: “The only way to stop Theo Walcott is to shoot him.

Great, Thanks for rubbing it in, Gus. It’s just such a shame Theo didn’t respect the trust and the investment of the club in him.

And it shows that he doesn’t believe in the direction of the club and its vision. So why should we?

And Then There Were 6:

Breaking News: This just in…forget all that shit. Apparently Theo did sign after all. Well, bugger me. I’m not going to re-write all that negative shit. It took me ages. Just re-read it yourselves and “opposite it,” if you know what I mean. Good old Theo. I knew he’d sign.

Theo Signing

Well, this is starting to look quite hopeful then.

And Then There Were 7.

Szcz Shouting

Hang on a second. Aren’t we forgetting someone? An honorary Brit:  Wojciech Cockney! Have you heard that guy talking? I’m pretty sure he’s the fucker who sold me a dodgy clock out of his wheel barrow, down at the market last Wednesday.

Anyway, yes, he’s Polish. But, so what? He’s gonna leg it back to Legia Warsaw, Cesc-style, because they have the greatest team in the world? Don’t think so. He’s all ours for as long as we want him. Picture a Richard Gere-like Szczesny standing in the pissing rain outside of Colney screaming “I’ve got nowhere else to go. I’ve got nowhere else to go.” Followed by a trail of ever more pathetic sobs.

Here’s what the boy said in this brilliant interview by Amy Lawrence of the Guardian:

Szczesny’s love for his club is plain and uncomplicated. One of the main reasons he wants to win something is to repay those who have helped him along the way. He reels off a list of people who have looked after him since he arrived from Warsaw in 2006. It’s not far off an Oscars speech, encompassing everyone from Bobby Arbor, the scout who found him and watched out for him when he did not speak much English, to Liam Brady, David Court and Steve Bould who oversaw his progress in the youth development, to his landlady Bobbie, Shirley the headmistress who advised him on education, Rob the chef …

“I came here as a 16-year-old boy and everything I know right now, I know from this club and the people who took care of me when I was young. Some of them have had the most influence – of course you have your parents and relatives, but people I have met here have given me so much. It’s everyone. I love this place. I feel I have something I want to give back to them. It gives me a lot of desire to do well.”

Wenger has made a big noise about a young British core recently, but good luck to anyone who wishes to suggest any of them care more deeply about doing well for Arsenal than the big Pole in goal.

The 3 lads

And Then There Were 8:

Now you’re not forgetting our little Irish midfield prodigy are you? I know he’s not technically British, but come on, let’s be honest. It’s the same thing. Just don’t tell anyone that I said that. But the boy has talent. I think we’ve all recognized that. I’m not sure this Dubliner could ever supplant in Gooner hearts the previous Dubliner to hold a midfield berth at the club ie Sir Liam Brady, but the boy has skills.

Yes, Frankie Coghlin, has a future at this club. One more understudy to Mikel Arteta, who has shown flashes of skill, pace and physicality that have given us something extra in the midfield.

Frankie Coghlin leaves Biggles in the dirt.

There has been some confusion over his name. Not how to pronounce it, just how to spell it. So much so that the club released a statement on how it was to be pronounced:

“Francis Coghlin. Pronounced [Coq-uel-in].” But some idiot in the Arsenal Media department took that dictionary-style pronunciation explanation as his actual name. What a balls up that has been, I can tell you. To save on re-printing costs, they decided to leave it alone. They even tried pretending it was the Gaelic spelling. Please!

So a team based on

Theo 1Jack 1


Ramsey 2

Kieran Gibbs Jenkinson-Garcia



Add to that the players we have on long-term contracts:

3 signings

Gus Poyet on Giroud: “Giroud was outstanding. He’s big, powerful, can take the ball on the run and oozes class.”

Cazorla, Poldi, Giroud, Arteta, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Mertesacker, Rosicky, and I personally see a period in which stability becomes the norm and in which the vast majority of our players want to stay together to win something.

And I want to see how that turns out. This team still needs a couple of key additions: a classy second striker, some midfield muscle maybe, a back-up keeper, maybe a left back, but it is close to being a contender.

The next few signings are key. Let’s get the right guys. And let’s keep the development production line churning. It’s really starting to pay off.

But, hey, that’s just me. You wanna hang yourself right now and miss it, step right up. I’ll even kick the chair out from under for you, if you ask me nicely. Even if you don’t.

Am I deluded? Have I got my head in the sand? I’ve seen everything you’ve seen. I just see it differently.

Up The Arsenal!