Now the dust has settled following a fabulous weekend for us Gooners, and ahead of our CL match tonight, I intend to bring us all down to earth by questioning a few of the decisions made this season by our unquestionably magnificent manager.
1/ Johann Djourou
Surely the decision to loan out Johann – who started 27 games for us last season – has been the most mysterious to date. Arsene’s reasoning, as I understand it, is to give him first team action and experience so that he will be match sharp when Kolo is off to Africa in January. Well he would have had plenty of first team experience here with us already this season. The simple fact is that every premiership club need 4 centre backs – not just 3. There will always be injuries and suspensions to centre backs in particular, and you need to be able to perm any two from four throughout a season. It was obvious that it wouldn’t be long before two of our meagre three were out at the same time, and so it quickly proved. Already we have had to play two of our five league games with a makeshift centre back. Of course Gilberto can play there admirably, but he was having a great season in midfield prior to his enforced change and it seems daft to me that we are playing people out of position when there is no need to.
2/ Gallas as club captain
One advantage of Thiery leaving was that we could become a team again, with a new club captain to bring unity and team spirit to the club. Most were happy with Gilberto, but should Arsene have decided for whatever reason not to appoint our Brazilian, we all assumed it would be Kolo or even Cesc. Instead a troublesome, outspoken, and seemingly injury prone new boy on the block, was appointed. Very strange.
3/ Diaby as left sided midfielder
Abou Diaby is surely the most exciting new midfielder we have had since Cesc and Patrick Vieira. Each time he has been in the middle he has looked more and more like the Paddy of old. Why then, oh why, does Arsene keep asking him to play wide left? Could you imagine Vieira ever playing in that position and looking good? It’s unfair on the boy and he will never develop his immense potential in such an obvious unsuitable position.
4/ Missing out on summer signings
Did anyone watch the Scotland/France game throughout? If you did you would have seen a brilliant performance by a player who was closely linked with us last summer – Frank Ribery. He looked just like a young Robert Pires at his best, and would have been a superb addition to the squad. Another player we were (apparently) close to signing was Graig Gordon. After the showing from out two main keepers already this season, it looks pretty clear that he would have been a perfect signing to replace Jens – who I think should have gone – and especially as it looks like Fabianski will only get a game in the Carling cup. Also, and despite Ryan Babel publicly saying he wanted to come to Arsenal, we let him go off to join the Pool. We have just been named as officially the second richest club in the world for heaven sake, so don’t say we couldn’t have afforded these players.
5/ Lassana Diarra
In the same match we had the chance to have a good look at our last minute signing from Chelski – Lassana Diarra – and I must say I was completely underwhelmed by his performance. It’s obviously too early to judge properly, and I don’t want to be unfair to the lad, but after seeing him in that game, I would say he doesn’t look as good as Justin Hoyte at right back. He is too small to be a centre back, and therefore will only be of use as a central midfielder. Where in midfield, might I ask, is he going to play then? Will he take the place of Cesc, Gilberto, Denilson, Flamini, Diaby or Eboue? I certainly flippin’ hope not. As I have already said regarding Johann Djourou, I think we do need two players for each position, but as we already have three for each defensive midfield position already, why do we need Diarra?
After the start we have had, of course, none of this really matters, and if we continue to play as we are, and produce the results, who am I to question the great man.
‘Arsene knows’ we all say, and I am sure he does, but nevertheless I still think it’s worth asking the questions.