August 12, 2012
I love how the final events of the Olympics segue so seamlessly into the start of Arsenal’s final pre-season match against FC Koln this afternoon.
It’s almost like somebody somewhere doesn’t want us to be bored for even a second. What do they think? That if we don’t permanently have something to distract us we’ll all start thinking about the banking crisis again and within hours there’ll be rioting in the street?Errr…
Anyway, I’ve been happy to have the distraction. To take the edge off of the Arsenal withdrawal. It’s not been quite as good as the real thing but has just about kept me going. I particularly enjoyed Mo Farah’s performance in the 5000m last night. Always nice to see a happy Gooner. And of course astonishing how comfortably we’ve held on to third place in the medals table. I’m looking forward to the giant bronze medal that we get for that, draped around the neck of the country with a huge piece of ribbon like they used to do when Jimmy Saville had fixed it for fifty schoolgirls to tapdance with Roy Castle on the roof of Buckingham Palace.
As I said yesterday, I think the starting line up this afternoon will tell us a great deal about Arsene Wenger’s intentions for the season ahead and the big news this morning is that Robin Van Persie is expecting to play. Louis Van Gaal has revealed that Robin has reassured him that he’ll be ready for international duty:
Robin will play his first game this Sunday. He has told me he is at least going to play 45 minutes this weekend.
That’s huge. First of all it’s a message to Manchester United and whoever else is still interested in taking him off our hands this summer. Don’t think we’re going to make this easy for you. If you don’t stump up the cash we’re looking for that’s fine. We’ll keep him. He’s in our plans. Unlike Cesc last year he’s willing to continue playing for the club so you don’t have us over a barrel. We’ve still got options.
But I’d be surprised if this is just a political gesture. It looks to me like, new deal or no new deal, we’re very serious about the possibility of keeping Robin at the club. The season starts next week and if he’s playing today then expect him to start against Sunderland. Now is not the time to be messing about. The players need games and if RVP is in that means that the likes of Giroud or Podolski will miss out, at least in their preferred central striker role, possibly altogether. If we truly are expecting RVP to leave I think we’d want to give the new boys the best possible chance of learning the role.
Robin’s inclusion obviously begs a number of questions of its own. Chiefly, how will the travelling Arsenal support react to him and vice versa. I hope we get behind him. There’s plenty of time for abuse and recriminations if and when he actually jumps ship. Let’s not start booing players who are still wearing the shirt. From all the reports emanating from the camp, Robin has been the model professional on the training pitch this summer, working hard and doing whatever’s been asked of him. You might say that’s the minimum we should expect from a man still pulling in c£80,000 a week but there are plenty who have been in his position who have not bothered.
Apart from anything you still get the sense that his future is completely in the balance. If he performed a U-turn and announced that he’d signed a new contract after the game today I guarantee that we’d all find a way to forgive his transgressions and learn to love him again. The promise of another 30 goal season would definitely help with that process. Why tip the balance in favour of him leaving by giving him abuse?
Let’s hope we remind him how lucky he is to be an Arsenal player by showing him how classy this club can be.
If You Liked This...
- Inevitable overreaction to City game makes today all the more important
- Arteta bringing best out of those around him + Frimpong off?
- Robin instructed to stay but could still throw a tantrum + Wenger prepared to let Theo go?
- Our biggest match in years and everyone’s talking about the summer + Yossi’s off
- Van Persie running out of options as FFP bites + Yossi decision will show us how ambitious we plan to be