Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Mixed Messages and the Fixture List

God, the title to this blog sounds like some sort of odd spy thriller novel.

Anyway, to business. I think the Hleb situation is turning into a very odd one. Depending on which articles you'll read, you get a very different version of how events are going to pan out. Online Gooner is a good source - the Gooner is a reputable fanzine. So, when in an article written by the editor, it is categorically stated Hleb is off, you wonder what to think. But then, up turns Arseblog saying that the Webster Clause wouldn't be invoked due to a gentlemans agreement between clubs. Now, I have enormous respect for Arseblogger but thats absolute tripe. If Inter Milan want to sign Alex Hleb, they know it will be cheaper to get him by using the Webster Clause, so thats what they're going to do. In reality, if Hleb stays, it won't be because Inter or another club are too civilized to operate the Webster Clause, it will be because Arsene persuades him to stay. As I mentioned yesterday though, I think it would be for the better of the club and the squad if Hleb stays with us.

Another factor arising from this Q and A session which Le Boss did with various shareholders is he wants to sign an attacking midfield player and a defender who can deal with the Route One stuff. The irony in my opinion is that unless he spends huge amounts of money on buying a young English player like Ashley Young, we will probably end up with a tricky, pacey winger, perhaps Quaresma. As I see it, the problem with that is we've tried that out once already - I was most upset José Reyes left, but he left because he didn't like the weather and got homesick. But particularly the weather. So, what's stopping that happenning if we bring in an attacking midfield player from the Iberian peninsula or South America. It creates a difficult climate, especially considering these players don't come cheap. I was a tad surprised he doesn't want to bring a striker in on loan to counter-act Eduardo's absence, but he's obviously happy that Vela will be able to do a job for us. I hope he is correct, but you've got to worry that if RVP gets injured which is likely, we will have 3 fit strikers: Adebayor and Bentnder who clearly don't get on, and an unproven Vela. I heard the defensive player could be Raul Albiol, but there's nothing concrete to back that up, so we'll just have to wait and see.

There is an argument floating around that the fixture list raised expectations, because we had a particularly easy start to the season, and a much harder run-in. I really don't like this argument - whilst our early-season form was key to building up expectations, those expectations weren't quashed because of a tough run-in. They were quashed by the fact we took 4 points from 12 when we drew four in a row, when we should have hoped to take 10 points. That, is the difference between us winning the league this season and coming third. So, whilst we had a tough period (Chel$ea (a), Bolton (a), Liverpool (h), ManUre (a)) we could have built enough of an advantage that it didn't matter. When push comes to shove, saying the easy fixtures raised expectations is a poor argument, because the patch of 4 draws was also an easy part of the fixture list and it did the opposite. We played better at the beginning of the season because we weren't as fatigued and that's the bottom line as I see it.

It feels odd with there being no live football on a Wednesday night, but it means I can watch The Apprentice live: apparently it's a double firing.


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