Let’s Take Cazorla’s Midfield Spot Away From Him

@DEANldn22 Dean started an interesting conversation on the twitters Sunday:

Dean: “Thinking about our squad, and this may sound controversial, but I’d sell Cazorla if it meant we would sign Carvalho/Schneiderlin/Martinez.”

Dean went on to explain: “(I’d) Take £15-20m. Top player. Love watching him but he only plays that deep role to help distribute for Coquelin. Rather Ramsey.”

And then suggests: “Wilshere takes Cazorla’s spot in our squad, the big midfielder takes Arteta/Flamini’s.”

Hmm. If we are bringing in “the big midfielder” for Arteta/Flamini, this has little to do with Cazorla, directly.

As usual, Dean is digging a tunnel to get Jack into midfield. Which is fine. Tbf, I often do the same thing for Theo, and I’ve never met the chap!

But I’ve a number of issues with the thoughts of those who saw this as a great opportunity for a list of names from Jack and Ox, to other teams’ players lining up to prey on an opening created by dumping Cazorla.

Here are my issues, quickly summarized…

  • Cazorla was Wenger’s pick for Player Of The Season. Ahead of Sanchez.
  • Cazorla the only Arsenal player to make Ozil’s Best XI along side Ronaldo, Lahm, Alonso
  • Dean states Cazorla only plays alongside Coq because he’s the best distributor. But…he IS the best distributor, pinging cross-field balls with either peg.
  • Cazorla can play at a top level in 3 positions as needed. We want that. Who covers when Ozil’s injured?
  • You want some extra muscle to back up Coq? Fine. Get a young Carvalho type: a good one, youngish so he waits his turn. Or an older good one, who understands it will be an adaptation season like Gabriel did.
  • Anyone who comes in needs time to adapt. Cazorla couldnt be more ready.
  • Are we making the mistake again of assuming Cazorla won’t get better still in his new role? Think Arteta.
  • Getting rid of talented, experienced players in their peak who can provide leadership. Haven’t we learned?
  • Cazorla has been incredibly consistent for all of his time at Arsenal. And by Arsenal standards, incredibly healthy.
  • But finally…if Jack, Ox or even Ramsey want to take Cazorla’s spot, they need to come through the front door.

Now I love Jack, Ox and Aaron more than the next man. But…

Monday – 6th July: Arsenal begin pre-season training. A buzz of excitement. A gaggle of players back from holidays and vacations. Stories, jokes. And excitement: Nerve-jangling, spine-tingling excitement.

The boys work their way through some stretching, some jogging, some loosening, and then some 8 v 8 actual football, just to remind the legs and the neurons.

But one player tears into it like a whirlwind. He is not a new kid eager to impress, not a benchwarmer determined to make the breakthrough, not some bruiser hoping to catch the skill merchants sleeping. No. Santi Cazorla comes out of the gates like a Tazmanian Devil, flicking the ball off both feet around every player on the field and then going back for seconds. Finally seeing his route to goal is blocked by Jack in front of Ox, he pulls off the double nutmeg (only previously achieved in training in 1923 by Herbert Chapman on Egbert Swanson and Melvin Briggs-Dodsworthy, both on crutches (and bribed.)) The Spaniard then collects the ball and Rabona’s the keeper (who’s name shall not be shared to spare his blushes.)

Cazorla, looking 6” taller than last season (he isn’t,) a couple of stone more muscular than last season (he isn’t,) and meaner than last season (he is,) turns back to Ox and Wilshere. He pauses, glares a little, then snarls in perfect Baltimore parlance…

”You come at the King, you best not miss.”

You come at the king

That’s how it needs to be this year. True, the starting XI of choice at the end of the 2015/16 season will almost certainly change significantly from the XI at the start of the season, but if you want Santi’s place, you take it from him. The old fashioned way.

That said, if I were signed as the new manager, my starting XI for August 9th against West Ham would still have 18 players in it when we got out on the pitch. The’d all be looking at me, saying, “Boss, come on, dude. You’ve got to decide. Just pick an eleven.” I’d be telling the ref that he could pick who to get rid of because I didn’t want to hurt their feelings or have them thinking I didn’t believe in them. I’d be trying to talk Slavan Bilic into picking 18 too. I want Theo. I want Cazorla. I want Jack, Ox, Ramsey, Welbeck, Coq, Ollie all starting. As a manager, you simply have to be professional about it. Eanie, meanie, miney, moe…

I had an interesting twitter chat with Beltran’s Mole. He chipped in his view that Ox was really a starter last season when fit. My knee-jerk reaction was that that was preposterous but when I thought about it, there was a lot of truth. The same could be said for Welbeck in that position at a different point in the season as fitness/availability shifted. And some combo of either Ramsey and Jack later in the season in that position. And then how do you drop Theo after his last few matches, and so, do you play him on the right to get him and his goals on the pitch when you want Oliie up front?

Maybe that RW position is the most contested, the most up for grabs spot on the pitch. Along with 4 or 5 other positions, lolz. It’s going to be a fascinating season within a season. But let the player who wants a position claim it with his performances. The old fashioned way. Come at the king!

Ruthless Wenger

To be honest, I blame Wenger. He started all this ruthlessness and fans are loving this new ruthless side of Arsene, or so they keep saying. But, remember, there is a dark side to ruthlessness. And you might not like how it plays out…

And it’s only going to get worse based on Wenger’s arrival to training for the first day of pre-season. Before he’d even left his driveway that morning, he’d booted the cat up the arse and bitten the head off a pigeon. With blood still drying on his chin, he swings his car into Colney car park, spots a few players chatting, leans out his car window and shouts, “Ospina, you midget. You’re off to Kalakalaka Michkalakalakalai. Clear your shit out.”

“I am boss?”

“Nah, just kidding.”

“Oh, Gracias a Dios.”

“Haha. Had you. Yeah, you are off. Pack your shit.”

“Boss, but why, after all I did for you and the team last season?”

“Haha. Kidding! Had you going there. You’re little bottom lip was trembling. Little tears welling up in your squinty little eyes.”

“So, I’m not going?”

“Haha. No, you are. Get on yer tricycle, amigo. You’re fired!”

“I love a bit of bantz,” Arsene thought to himself. “And I’m good at it.”

In high spirits after his bit of banter, Wenger bounds into the changing rooms. “Where’s Szczesny?” he shouts. “He’s in the showers, Boss!” Arsene strides into the shower area and spots Woj who spots him back. Their eyes lock. Wenger reaches for his pocket, takes out 20 Marlboro, lights up, walks up to a naked Szczesny, blows a smoke ring into his face, then slowly, coldly stubs the ciggy out on his eyelid. Woj falls backwards, in shock more than in pain.

On the way out of the showers he passes Flamini who freezes, petrified, expecting the worst. “Nah, too easy,” Wenger thinks to himself, and keeps going. “Plus he makes Mesut laugh. But the day Mesut stops laughing…”

Arsene is just about to head out to the training pitch where he will soon witness Cazorla’s Avon Barksdale moment when he spots Vic Akers, Arsenal’s long-standing and respected kit man, leaning over a clothes basket. He sneaks silently up behind Vic, stuffs his head down into the basket, then dry humps his ass with 4 or 5 thrusts. “You’ve been Wengered, mate,” he says laughing all the way out to the pitch, where he greets the lads with a few words of encouragement:

“Giroud, you slow, plodding bastard. You’re this year’s Podolski.” Giroud starts to blubber.

“Theo, you’ve got the first touch of a Xylophone salesman.” Bursts into tears. Gibbs asks Theo what that even meant. “I don’t know but it sounded mean.”

“Ah Per, still recovering from the 2006 World Cup, I see.”

We All Need To Become More Ruthless

Anyway, so be it. If we’re going to win this league, we must be ruthless, pragmatic, Machiavellian. And not reluctantly. We must relish it. We must revel in it, even. We must be bastards..

We’re not going to take it any more. We’re going to cast off this obnoxious, odious Chelsea tyranny.

All this is rubbing off on me. I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE IT ANY MORE. And I urge YOU not to take it any more. I have decided I’m going head-to-head with Arseblog, his blog site, his news site, his podcast, and the Tim Stillman column.

I’m going to start slowly. Doing a bit of podding. Maybe a blog every other week or so, as time allows. Until I have the bastards right where I want them. Me and my team at Poznaninmypants have just gathered to decide our plan of attack. Listen in…

Matthias: So, Boss, what exactly are our demands?

Poz: We’re giving Arseblog two days to dismantle the entire apparatus of the Arseblog Empire and if he doesn’t agree immediately we execute Stillman.

Matthias: Cut his head off?

Poz: Cut all his bits off, send ’em back every hour on the hour… show him we’re not to be trifled with.

Poz: Oh and also, we’re demanding a ten foot mahogany statue of Mangan with his cock hanging out.

Stan: What? They’ll never agree to that, Poz.

Poz: That’s just a bargaining counter. But, I bet they will. And of course, we point out that they bear full responsibility when we chop Tim up, and… that we shall not submit to blackmail.

Group: (Applause) No blackmail!

Poz: They’ve bled us white, the bastards. They’ve taken every click we had, not just from us, but from our followers and from our followers’ followers.

Stan: And from our followers’ followers’ followers.

Poz: Yes.

Stan: And from our followers’ followers’ followers’ followers.

Poz: All right, Stan. Don’t labour the point. And what have they ever given us in return?

Matthias: The Arseblog blog?

Poz: Oh yeah, yeah they gave us that. Yeah. That’s true.