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Blog

Random ramblings about Arsenal. 

Filtering by Tag: Vermaelen

Normal Service

SJS

My thoughts are and will continue to be with our brothers and sisters in Boston. The very nature of terrorism is to incite fear through acts of carefully targeted but otherwise careless violence. The aim is to disrupt peaceful existence; the lives and livelihood of innocent bystanders are the currency. We cannot allow terror to insinuate itself into positions of power over us. We must stand defiantly against those who would want us jumping at shadows. After respecting the victims, honoring the dead, and repairing the damage, the single best thing I can think of in response to a tragedy like the one at the Boston Marathon this week is to resume normal service, even if that means writing minimally-read blog posts about overpaid and underperforming athletic employees. Herein lies my attempt at enforcing normalcy.

The Good, The Bad, and The Gir-vinho

Humans possess any number of cognitive biases. One of them is the serial position effect: of a list of things to remember, we tend to remember best the things that happen most recently or that happen first.

The first thing I remember about Olivier Giroud (besides his abs) is that it took 8+ matches for him to score a goal in an Arsenal shirt. The most recent thing I remember about him is his Stormtrooper finishing and general profligacy around goal. His 17 goals tallied this season end up getting lost in the mix when that total could easily (frustratingly) be double.

In the case of The Artist Formerly Known as Gervais Lombe Yao Kouassi, the first thing I remember is him being naively drawn into Joey Barton's antics, slapping the aforementioned, and being sent off. The last thing I remember is him footballing like a FIFA 2013 player controlled by a drunken Andrei Arshavin.

For both players, my fear is that sporadic moments of brilliance on the pitch encourage The Boss to continue selecting them for the starting XI ahead of promising alternatives like Podolski or the Ox. OG can make all the intelligent runs in the world, but eventually our opponents will realize he is not generally a goal threat and will allow the goal posts, crossbar, and air directly surrounding them to continue handling defensive duties. Opponents are already surrendering endline runs to Gervinho knowing that his plans after reaching his destination vary from contemplating world peace to mentally preparing his grocery list for the week.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot is up with Podolski not being selected on the regular? How is he not getting starts and minutes? I could be biased (see what I did there?) but clearly he is the most lethally efficient finisher at the club. He and the Ox both offer the direct danger that we otherwise often lack. Neither are afraid to take a crack from distance, either. I can understand that the Ox is still developing and his appearances might be more scattered, but Poldi is a seasoned pro. Clearly Gervinho has incriminating pictures of Wenger.

Anyone else find it curious that Vermaelen got dropped back to the bench immediately after filling in for the suspended BFG? The captain's armband IS cursed!

Speaking of underperforming players…

Has Theo Walcott Scored Lately?

No.

The Run-In

Taking one point when faced with such a negative Everton rugby side aided by overly permissive officiating is a small victory, I suppose. Five matches left, including tricky away trips to Craven Cottage, relegation-embroiled QPR, and Le Newcastle, with Man U and Wigan (also battling the drop and eyeing the FA Cup a mere three days prior to our fixture) visiting the Emirates. Neither Fulham nor Man U have much to play for at this point other than pride, but any of these fixtures could be handbrake-inducing. 

If it's any consolation: Man City have two games in hand on us and a fairly gentle final seven matches, but have the FA Cup Final to consider against Wigan. Chelsea also have two games in hand, but are juggling two additional European matches; their fixtures are stacking up. Spuds have a game in hand, are currently shorn of their top two goal scorers, and still have to face both City and Chelsea. Finally, Everton must travel to both Liverpool for a Merseyside Derby and to Stamford Bridge.

Here it is for the record: I like our chances of finishing third.

Bac's Back & Rambo's Right

SJS

"Come for the camaraderie," I tweeted with a typo I've only just discovered, "stay for our ramshackle defensive options!"

That was the invitation for Charleston Gooners to come watch Arsenal's visit to the Stadium of Light for Stoke Part II: The Wrath of Sunderland. That is how dire our situation at the back was, how slim our options were. How had we let Djourou go out on loan without bringing in another center back? A knock to any of Per, Kos, or Verm would leave us dangling on the precipice of Squillaci Time, and the captain was already out injured. Little did I know when I sent this tweet that Kos would pull up gimpy while warming up before kick off, forcing us into an all the more make-shift configuration than I had previously imagined.

Paradoxically, I stated out loud before the match, without having so much as a drop of Scotch crossing my lips beforehand (that came later), "I can't see Sagna wearing an Arsenal shirt next year." This was a statement born from the frustration of watching a great player who appeared to not have his heart in it anymore.

We've seen the dip in form before from disillusioned players longing for greener pastures, new challenges, trophies, bigger pay packets, chrome-clad Aston Martins. It was all too easy to lump Sagna in with that lot, given the poor displays we've had on offer recently from him and the poor record we have had (until very recently) of hanging on to players.

(As long as I'm coming clean, that morning I made a similar statement about Vermaelen not returning for next season. The captain's armband is cursed! Paddy - 3 years and sold; Henry - 2 years and sold; Gallas - tantrum, stripped, and sold (why not Gilberto?); Cesc - nearly 3 years and sold; van Mercenary - a year, sold, and good riddance.)

Back to Bac: all Sagna proceeded to do for 90+ minutes was put in a dominant shift at center half. He made a believer out of me all over again. I should try to sell off our players more often. Or, I should probably learn to keep my mouth shut. Could Bac've found a new home, allowing Jenko and perhaps Nico a chance to make their marks?

Jenkinson answered my question by earning two yellow cards. Not quite yet, then?

Since this dismissal ended up causing no real immediate harm (other than logarithmically compounding our defensive selection headaches), I can say that I'm glad it happened because it gave Rambo a chance to, yet again, accept an unfamiliar role for the good of the team by slotting into right-back. Aaron gets a lot of grief for some reason; I see a player who gives his all, without complaints, when there is a job to be done. We could stand to have a few more players on the team like that.

Right. Blackburn this weekend in the FA Cup and Bayern Munich midweek next. With Nacho CL cup-tied, Santos at Gremio, Djourou at Hannover, Gibbs still injured, Vermaelen still injured (?), Kos still injured (?), and Jenkinson serving out his suspension (did i cover it all?), the composition of our back four for these two matches will be quite interesting. I look forward to eating my words again.