GERMANY—It was an unseasonably warm day as Sami strolled along the Rhine, wondering how it could be that water could shimmer so sweetly. Perhaps it was La Décima still ringing in his ears. Perhaps it was the World Cup celebration. Still again, it might be the ringing of his mobile as his agent again called to update him on the latest news regarding his presumptive move to Arsenal. In any case, Sami felt secure, having made a confident return from ACL surgery, and it was with that blithe confident that he answered the call without checking the caller i.d...
17 July 2014
It's official—Mathieu Debuchy has joined Arsenal. After a long courting, which happened in the shadows cast by the consummation of the Alexis Sánchez and the apparent pursuit of Sami Khedira, we've made our second significant signing of the summer—and it's still the middle of July. At this rate, we'll no doubt make two or three more signings, topped by a glut of 17 more signings on deadline day. More seriously, it seems like we're addressing needs in order of importance: Sánchez will challenge, replace, and play alongside Giroud up top, and we now have a right-back to replace the departed Bacary Sagna. As discussed we here, there are ways to think of Debuchy as an upgrade in some ways on Sagna...
16 July 2014
Ever since the World Cup ended in victory for Germany, much has been made of the idea that Arsenal should strengthen its German contingent, bringing in Sami Khedira to establish an end-to-end Der Mannschaft spine, from Per to Khedira to Özil to Podolski and into the net. While there's something to be said for familiar faces and bedding in, I can't help but think that all of this talk has triggered Wenger's Law of Inverse Relationships, which stipulates that there is an inverse relation between how early and how often we're linked with a player and how likely we are to sign him. It was first postulated back in May 2013, and here are a few names, offered here to jog your memory: Jovetić. Higuaín. Suárez. Gustavo. Draxler. Fàbregas.
It seems that each day brings us closer and closer to sealing a deal with Sami, and yet, like Achilles and the tortoise, we can never quite cross the finish line. Each day, we cover a bit more ground, drawing closer and closer to the target. Each day, there's a little more ground to cover. As the chase gets more and more frustrating, we start to wonder if it's really worth all the trouble or whether we should turn our attention elsewhere. Schneiderlin, for example. Bender. The numbers come into play, and we notice that these two seem to deliver statistics superior to Khedira's. We hear of Khedira's wage-demands and worry that he'll get too pricey, especially for an older player coming back from ACL surgery. These numbers, for as much as they give us anything to discuss, mean little if anything to the outcome.
15 July 2014
While I haven't examined Arsenal's pursuit of Mathieu Debuchy all that closely, focusing instead on Alexis Sánchez, so many pieces seem to be falling into place that it's getting harder to ignore: He's French. He plays right-back. He's available for less than £12m. We like signing French players. We need a right-back. Arsène loves a bargain. Debuchy's an experienced player, familiar with the Prem, but Newcastle are prepared to see him go if their signing of 24-year old Daryl Jaanmat from Feyenoord is any indication. The Debuchy transfer has gone to the back-burner a bit thanks to our signing of Sánchez, and the same may transpire again as our pursuit of Khedira drags on. However, whereas Debuchy to Arsenal looks more and more likely, Khedira looks less and less so. So far.
Earlier Monday, I went for something risqué and unpredictable, something difficult to pull off or understand even if I did pull it off—a little bit of satire, flogging those who flog Özil. Depending on whom you ask, I succeeded or failed in equally spectacular parts. The post in question was either too subtle to get or too straightforward to miss. I tend to side with the latter camp. Some folks prefer their satire to be more of the slap-stick variety, akin to a cold cod across the kisser. So be it. And now, for something completely different: a sincere, perhaps maudlin examination of the plight of Vermaelen, erstwhile captain and tarrying Tom.
14 July 2014
Congratulations, first off, to Germany, for winning the 2014 World Cup, the country's fourth. Ancillary congrats to Arsenal, as we are now without doubt the English club with the most World Cup-winning players in history—Özil, Mertesacker, and Podolski bring our total to seven, surpassing West Ham and Man U, who each have three each. However, the glory's sheen is dulled somewhat, I have to admit, by the failure of our Gunners to make a positive impression. Podolski, of course, did not get to play in the final. Mertesacker only came on in the last few minutes of extra time. We cannot fault them entirely for failing to impress. However, in the case of Özil, it is difficult if not impossible to put him under a high-powered microscope and see his flaws on full display.