Francis Coquelin - sad to see him go
It’s been two weeks since I posted anything. A combination of working hours and personal stuff has prevented me from being able to compile anything. A lot has happened in the Arsenal speaking World since I last wrote so there would actually have been plenty of material had I been in a position to do something. I had keyed myself up to write a piece on the first of our Summer signings, Yaya Sanogo, but a family bereavement had me flying off to
at short notice instead. Incidentally I hired a car in Northern Ireland – it was a Kia Venga. It will
surprise nobody to find out it lacked speed up front, was low budget, but was apparently very
comfortable. As a result of my lack of written missives there is a bit to get
through today by way of a catch-up. Tomorrow I’ll have a moan about what's happening in the transfer market and Tuesday I’ll
write about the new away kit as that is when we will get our first official
look at it (it’s yellow and blue in case you didn’t already know, as revealed
exclusively on this site late last year). Belfast
On with business then and let’s start with the arrival of our latest young French striker, Yaya Sanogo. I know very little about the new boy aside from that fact that he scored one or two goals in the French Second Division. Arsenal’s description of his signing from “Ligue 1 club Auxerre” is disingenuous at best given that Sanogo has yet to play in the top flight. I believe he’s done reasonably well in the current international U20 tournament that’s going on, but I’d give about as much credence to that as I would a Spurs claim that they’re going to win the Premier League.
We were told by Ivan Gazidis a month or so back that we have all this money just sitting there waiting to be spent. That being the case I hope he understands why many supporters have greeted Sanogo’s arrival with more than a slight indifference. Let’s be honest, the signing of a kid who’s never played at the top, for a nominal fee, is not the sort of thing that will shift too many of their prized executive boxes or Club Level season tickets. It’s not, generally, what the fans want to see.
I have no problem with bringing in a youngster like this, who may or may not turn out to be a success. However, he would need to be accompanied through the entrance by some proper big signings. Had we been announcing Sanogo on the back of a Higuain or a Rooney or a Fellaini then the youngster would have been made most welcome by the supporters. My personal hope for Sanogo is that he has a Nicolas Anelka style impact at Arsenal, minus the odious money-grabbing brothers, and goes on to be a huge success.
The departures from the Club this week give me some mixed feelings. Johann Djourou has exited, officially on loan, but his contract situation means that he will not be returning to Arsenal I believe. The way in which this was dealt with in terms of communication from Arsenal left me particularly annoyed. His new Club announced they had signed Djourou. Djourou himself posted a photograph on Twitter with his new shirt. Arsenal remained silent until about three days later. It may surprise many to learn to that Djourou was the longest serving player at Arsenal. A few years ago he had a good run in the first-team and was far and away the leading centre-half in the Club for a few months. He subsequently damaged a shoulder in a match at Old Trafford and never reached those heights again. The first time I genuinely took note of him was when he was too physically strong for the athletic Ishmael Miller in the first match of the season at home to West Brom some years ago (it was the same day as Samir Nasri scored on his debut). Injuries were always a thorn in the side of Djourou and, ultimately, he would fall short of being top class. I wish him very well for the future, but Arsenal's communications department must learn to handle the arrival and departure of players so much better in terms of their announcements.
Vito Mannone has also gone on a permanent basis. He wants to be number one at
Sunderland but I feel he
lacks the quality and consistency to be a Premier League goalkeeper. Vito had
some very good moments in the Arsenal first-team and was a half-decent back-up.
Sadly he was never good enough to be a genuine threat to the first-choice,
however, and this led to the situation we’ve seen over the last 18 months with
Szczesny’s poor form. I met Vito once at a pre-season game where he picked up
my son to pose for a photo and he came across as a very nice young man. Again I
hope he can have a good future now he’s left Arsenal, just not if he ever gets to play against us.
The final player to leave this week has me seriously non-plussed. Anyone who read my player review in May will know that I felt Francis Coquelin was badly under used by Arsene Wenger last season. His absence from the 18 towards the end of the campaign probably meant the writing was on the wall, but I am very disappointed to see the back of him. For me Coquelin was Arsenal’s best player in just about every game he played last season. His pace and willingness to make a tackle, not to mention his versatility, should have seen him more valued than he was in the squad. He has gone out on loan, but the fact that Sanogo has been given Coquelin’s shirt number would indicate he isn’t likely to be coming back. If we go on to make some stellar signings in that area of the pitch I can understand, perhaps, why Coquelin is moving on. However, that would not change the fact that he didn’t get the opportunities he richly deserved over the last year or so. He is one player I can see going on and making Arsenal have some regrets over allowing him to leave.
More tomorrow when I’ll give a view on our inactivity in the transfer market.