May 3, 2012
No more favours from the neigbours then.
Last night’s results made it clear. If we want third place and automatic qualification to the Champions League we’re going to have to earn it. We can’t afford to have players already with half a mind on international tournaments or beach holidays. We’ve got two more matches and we badly need to win them both.
Spurs’ defeat of Bolton and Newcastle’s win against Chelsea mean we’re a solitary point ahead of them both. Any slip up could be fatal and there’s a very real possibility of not only missing out on third but dropping out of the top four entirely. Hopefully that double threat will help to focus minds a bit come Saturday’s game against Norwich. I suppose it’s possible it could put the willies up us and cause us to freeze too but I really don’t want to think about that.
Incidentally, watching Papiss Cisse win that game single handedly for Newcastle last night thanks to a couple of absolutely stunning strikes I can’t have been the only Gooner wondering what effect a signing like that could have had on our season if we’d made it in January. He was a known quantity with a proven goalscoring record available at an affordable price. Newcastle could easily have said we’re doing very well with Demba Ba this season thank you very much and got on without him. They took the gamble. He’s scored 13 goals in 12 games. Food for thought.
It’s another reason to pray we get the job done in the last two games. We all said at the time that if the money was available it seemed like madness not to bolster our striking options in January. We didn’t and while we have done well since then that could still prove an expensive mistake if we don’t make it over the line.
The rumours are that Lukas Podolski is the man we intended to bring in back in January but he opted to stay and help FC Koln’s relegation fight instead. He’d certainly have been useful as Robin Van Persie starts to tire after a long season. Podolski’s revealed that despite the long running saga over his transfer he’s neither visited the club or even met Arsene Wenger in person:
Although I’ve never been there and haven’t looked at anything I think the club is a very good fit for me. Otherwise I would not have made the decision.
We just spoke on the telephone once and I have not met him [Wenger] yet, that will certainly happen after the Euros.
Le Boss must have some really killer telephone patter. I’m terrible on the phone. I’m all about the awkward pauses and the ‘…well anyway’s. I can barely order a curry without saying something stupid and making a complete knob of myself. Let’s hope I never have to call up an international footballer to convince him to uproot his family, leave his hometown club where he’s basically worshipped and travel to a rainy city to potentially play second fiddle to Robin Van Persie – in German.
Theo Walcott’s been talking to the official site about the need to add a bit more to his game. He’s worried that people think he’s just about pace:
At times people just expect me to knock the ball and run but it is not as easy as you think to be honest. As soon as you start doing that, the defender knows what you are doing every time. You need to change it because you can’t just be one-dimensional.
I am always going to be known for pace, I know that. But the next step is the finishing. I have a lot of assists this season but I don’t think I am ever going to lose that.
Even the best in the world can struggle a bit after they burst onto the scene. That one trick that saw them through the youth ranks and set the world alight when they first got called up to the first team can suddenly look a little bit stale when the PL’s best defenders have watched it time and time again on TV and worked out how to defend against it. That’s when a winger particularly needs to develop their armoury and it’s good to hear Theo’s aware of that.
He’s had a pretty decent season all told but it’s no surprise that his most postive games have been against the likes of Chelsea and Spurs. Teams who (in the first game against Chelsea at least) were prepared to come out and play and leave gaps for Theo to run into. His problems come when teams sit off us and his pace is no longer much of a weapon. He needs to learn how to beat a man from a standing start or he’ll always struggle in a large percentage of our games.
Still, with 11 goals and 13 assists to his name this season and as a 23 year old with a willingness to develop his game I’m anxious to see what he does next. So it was a slight concern yesterday to read David Ormstein of the BBC’s Twitter claim that talks over his new contract have still not been scheduled for the summer and he will enter the last year of his current deal. I’m not sure that’s due to some sort of forgetfulness or lack of willing on either party’s side. Presumably it’s just a given that talks will resume when the business of the season is over. Still, with our recent tendency to get fleeced when other clubs start dangling huge pay packets in our players’ faces it’s always going to be a bit of a worry.
My guess is that it all depends on what RVP decides. And that will all depend on nabbing third place. Which in turn will all depend on winning our last two games. And, oh God, sometimes the pressure just gets a bit too much for me. Honestly I’ve got so much work I should be doing. How am I supposed to concentrate at a time like this?
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