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Monday, 23 May 2011

Fulham 2 - 2 Arsenal - all done

My good friend Mr Kidd and his bride Rosanna

Do you remember when Birmingham scored the winner at the Carling Cup Final? Do you remember how Barry Ferguson chose to mock Laurent Koscielny by slapping him on the back of the head as he sat distraught on the Wembley pitch? I wrote the following day that I hoped Birmingham City would be relegated as some kind of payback for that moment. I always say that what goes around, comes around. Yesterday it came around for Barry Ferguson, Birmingham City and their odious supporters. Good riddance to them, they won't be missed. I just wish Wolves had gone too and we still had the delightful Blackpool team to enjoy next season. C'est la vie.

Apart from Arsenal's end of season result it was a good weekend for me. I went to the wedding of one of my great friends on Saturday. It was a truly magnificent day and a pleasure to share in James and Rosanna's special occasion. I gave up the booze in September but made an exception on Saturday (I was probably owed it after spending a stag weekend sober.) I was a little bit fragile come yesterday morning - not too bad, just a bit wobbly. I followed up yesterday with a day on the cricket pitch which ended in defeat, but a bit of a return to form for me, so not all bad.

As a result of playing cricket yesterday I have only seen Sky's extended highlights so I'm not going to say too much about what happened in the game. We all know that highlights are usually the least accurate representation of what has actually gone on in any game. The thing I noticed most from the highlights was how much Tony Gale seems to dislike Arsenal. He has a particular downer on Johan Djourou (who I'm assured continued his recent poor form yesterday) and he also seems to have taken a dislike to Wojciech Szczesny. Gale took issue with the Pole going after Gera after he tried to do Thomas Vermaelen. Personally I like to see one of our players getting involved in these situations as it shows a bit of gumption and spirit. I notice nobody in the media was getting on at Vidic and Ferdinand last week when they ran 50 yards to ensure the award of a penalty by getting in the face of the linesman at Blackburn. Perhaps if all the Arsenal players backed each other up like that we might get somewhere.
I was intrigued by the team selection yesterday. I am going to assume that Samir Nasri has agreed a deal to stay at Arsenal, hence his very much unexpected return to the side. Meanwhile we finally got our 4-4-2. Unfortunately it meant Aaron Ramsey inexplicably being shifted to the wing, despite him and Wilshere dominating midfield for the past few weeks. Instead of that we had another Lazarus-like return from Diaby - why? It was almost as though Wenger wanted to play 4-4-2 with the wrong players in some attempt to prove himself right about the 4-5-1 (it is certainly not 4-3-3 with the way we play it).
The game itself was seemingly a bit of a lacklustre affair, with Arsenal defending badly but scoring two very fine goals. Robin Van Persie has been outstanding since he came back and that's reflected in the result of the latest poll on this site where 56% of you felt he is the player they would least like to see leave the Club. The problem next season is going to be that, if and when Cesc goes, RVP will expect to be made Captain. Sadly, I don't think he should be as I don't like strikers as skipper, and I don't believe he is a leader - just like Fabregas. Vermaelen should be Arsenal Captain, but it could seriously upset the balance of Van Persie's mind. Bridges to be crossed for the Manager, but that's all a long way off.
The Arsenal fans made their feelings clear towards the end of the game - the chant of "spend some f***ing money" was clearly heard. I was annoyed to hear Wenger's interview after the game where he dismissed the fans by saying how we won't be signing any £50m players. Of course we won't, and no fan seriously thinks we would, or even should. Why did he come out with such a comment? What we want is proper investment in the squad to address the obvious areas of weakness. That is going to cost money, of course, but it certainly won't require ridiculous Torres-like transfer fees. A change of policy from constantly developing young players who might be good, back to signing some experienced quality - that's what is required.

So, the season is over. Thank God for that. Since February it's been painful, though if it has forced a change in the policy of the Manager it might just have been worth it. If we get off to a bad start next season, and players have not been signed (and others not shown the door) then Wenger will find himself on short time with the fans. We need a busy Summer in the transfer market, and we need it to happen quickly. The Club can not let things drift this Summer.

In terms of the blog I have plenty of stuff lined up to fill some of the empty days ahead. Pre-season begins in July so it will soon come around. I hope you find the posts entertaining as we move through the next couple of months - hopefully there will be plenty of real Arsenal stuff upon which to pass comment. The England U21 squad is named later today - there might yet be a pleasant surprise for us Arsenal fans if what I have heard is anything to go by...

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