Interlull, interdull, interlol. Whatever you want to call it, we seem to have had a huge amount of international breaks recently since the start of the season, and even just before the Premier League campaign got underway if you will remember.
I’m sure we never usually have this many, but it seems as if every other blog I write is touching on how the Arsenal men have fared when proudly pulling on the colours of their country in various circumstances.
This particular spate of national games seem to have been even worse due to the fact that barely any of these games even mean anything anyway. The media focus for the week was around England vs. Chile before tomorrow’s clash with Germany, but even the press don’t particularly seem to give a fuck about that national team, especially when it means that Premier League action is on hiatus.
I spent my Friday night with one eye on Ukraine vs. France, with half of my other eye on England and the other part on Cristiano Ronaldo vs. Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Don’t ask me how, I just did it alright. It was an abortion of a night for the French, a disappointing one for neutrals watching Sweden and Portugal, while it was the normal routine feeling for those turning up at Wembley to cheer/boo the Three Lions.
But despite the international football, there has been some Arsenal news creeping in through the back door of Football Towers this week, so without further ado, here are my five stories of the week.
[heading size=”12″]Gunners Town Top 5: Talking Points of the Week[/heading]
1. Barcelona and Real Madrid to battle for the world’s best striker?
While on the topic of interlol, let’s lighten the mood on this Monday afternoon with a bit of comedy; I mean everyone loves a good laugh. Well you’re in for a treat.
Our Danish hero Nicklas Bendtner has been talking to the media yet again and the enjoyable topic of his future came up once more. Despite being the self-proclaimed world’s greatest striker, Nikki B failed to stay away from the Emirates this summer after being turned down by Crystal Palace among other following a two-year stint on loan at Sunderland and Juventus.
As I previously wrote, what a mind fuck this guy has been over the past few weeks, never mind years. He’s gone from vowing to never play for Arsenal again, to failing to obtain a move away, to starting in the Capital One Cup and winning a place back in the Premier League squad and now he has had the cheek to go back crying to journalists after being given a second chance at the big time.
Below is his interview with Politiken. Enjoy.
“Now, I do not [go after money]. It is the sport that is the most important. I’m going somewhere where I know I can be happy to play. On a team where I can score goals and preferably to win something. I do not want to sit on the bench and staring. I love the playing lots of games.”
He was then asked how he saw the remainder of his career going, and this is where it gets good.
“If I could decide: Real Madrid or Barcelona.”
HAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHA. Dear me, He was then asked if he would like to play for FC Copenhagen in his homeland.
“I might like to join in FC Copenhagen and try Super League at the end of his career.”
He is just the gift that keeps on giving, and any story that gives me an excuse to post that hilarious picture of him if well worth going in this blog.
2. 2014: Year of the Ox
Arsenal and injuries have seemingly gone hand in hand so far this season, and whenever we appear to think that we’re over the majority of the problems, somebody else drops to the ground or fails to get out of the medical room.
Theo Walcott and Lukas Podolski are hopefully returning imminently, but we’ve recently been hit by the news that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain won’t be turning out for the Arsenal again in 2013, which is a massive shame.
I’m convinced that he would be in the team at the moment due to the recent struggles with Walcott and Serge Gnabry, and that he could push on in what is his third season in North London. He had a spectacular debut campaign with us before a mixed year last term, but he is now 20-years-old and already has two full seasons of Premier League experience in his locker.
However, it looks as if we’re going to have to wait until 2014 to see how much of an impact he will have for the remainder of the campaign, bearing in mind that he has a spot on the plane to Brazil to fight for which is now in serious jeopardy.
Ox picked up a knee injury during the 3-1 defeat to Aston Villa on the opening day back in August, and while he is expected to have recovered in a month’s time, it is likely to be January before he is ready to return to first-team action.
Get well soon Ox.
3. Kit your own back: Akers vs. Flamini
There are stories doing the rounds that our kit man Vic Akers and midfielder stalwart Mathieu Flamini engaged in a bit of a row recently over Arsenal’s kit tradition.
As you know, we have a very rich tradition when it comes to kit selection, with the team captain deciding before each game whether we wear short or long sleeves. I personally love this as it gives the sense that everyone in the team is equal as well as looking damn smart. There’s nothing worse (well there is but go with me here) than seeing a collation of players on the same side wearing short sleeves, long sleeves, short sleeves with underarmour etc.
The story is that Flamini was unhappy with Thomas Vermaelen’s decision to wear long sleeves at Old Trafford against Manchester United a couple of weekends ago to the degree that he whacked out a pair of scissors and chopped the majority of his shirt’s arms off. This lead to him getting it in the ear from Akers, who has been around for donkey’s years and has seen an enormous amount of players abide by this tradition, and he was then backed by Bacary Sagna.
While I admit that, if true, this is disappointing from Flamini, I do feel that a mountain is being made out of a molehill due to a lack of other things to talk about during the international break. It’s happened before: I remember when Thierry Henry came off the bench in an FA Cup tie at Old Trafford in 2003 wearing long sleeves after the rest of the team had chance to short sleeves at half time.
It is annoying, with it being tradition and all. But then again, I always thought that a yellow away kit was tradition, but in recent times we’ve had to fart around with looking like Barney the Dinosaur so why should we make such a huge deal of it?
Flamini’s behaviour and attitude has been called into question as a result of it, especially after his first stint at the club, but I think we should hold off sharpening our machete blades for a little while longer.
4. Extended lodge for Woj
Bringing the mood back up again, we’ve been dealt the brilliant news that Wojciech Szczesny has signed a new deal with the club. Arsenal have labelled it as “long term” but there are reports doing the rounds that it is an extra four years. Regardless, I’m delighted as Szczesny has been one of our star players so far this season and, arguably, as important as Olivier Giroud, Aaron Ramsey and Per Mertesacker.
Woj was slagged off all over the shop by Gooners and rival fans alike last year. Some of it was warranted as he ended up losing his place in the team, but the rest of it was tremendously harsh given that he has barely been challenged for his spot in the team despite still being a youngster. However, Szczesny has responded in tremendous fashion by putting in a number of outstanding performances and match-saving stops. He deserves a huge amount of credit for the way he has hit back at his doubters despite being just 23-years-old.
Szczesny will be our number one for years to come, and has well over a decade left in him. While I still think that we need a more experienced number two to give him a run for his money and to learn off, Woj is back in business and long may it continue.
5. Oh when the Arse go marching in…
So it’s now just five days until we get to see our beloved Arsenal back in action at the Emirates. As usual during an international break, it seems an eternity since we last watched the boys step out on the hallowed turf in North London, but we don’t have to wait too much longer now for the Highbury Clock to strike 3pm on Saturday.
Awaiting us are a very good Southampton side, who currently sit third in the table and are on a real buzz following the triple England call-up for the club. While many are surprised by their great start to the campaign, that feeling of shock is not shared to the same magnitude by those Saints fans on the South Coast. Having got themselves back in the top flight and avoided the drop last term, many Southampton supporters were predicting a top-10 finish under Mauricio Pochettino with the eventual aim of reaching Europe.
They certainly won’t be a pushover that’s for sure, and it would be foolish for Gooners to expect a repeat of the 6-1 home thrashing we inflicted on them last term. They have a very solid starting XI which includes a number of young players from their own academy in the form of Adam Lallana, Luke Shaw and James Ward-Prowse.
Saints play their game in a similar fashion to us with a fluid, high-tempo passing style of football on the ball, and high pressing off it. They go into the match in scintillating form as well, having lost just once in the Premier League so far this season back in August, which is quite an achievement. They’ve won five of their last seven, and will be confident of continuing their unbeaten run at the weekend having won away at Liverpool and drawn at Manchester United already.
However, at home, I would still expect us to run out as comfortable winners, especially if we have Walcott and Podolski back. I can’t wait for it personally, with it being my first game back at the Grove since the Emirates Cup in August, and am expecting a real display of high-quality football.
So credit where credit is due to the Saints and their smashing adventure so far, but it’s time to end the fairy tale and consolidate our spot at the top of the league.
That’s all from me this week, let me know what you think, I do love a Twitter debate.
Never forget that you’re a Gooner.
Matt has been the editor of the site since June 2012 and was born into a Gooner family 21 years ago. He recently graduated from Southampton Solent University with a degree in Sports Journalism and strives to work in the Sports Media industry. As well as currently working as a reporter for Sports Mole and TIBS News, Matt has been providing football commentary for the visually impaired since 2008 at Arsenal, Exeter City and Wembley.
His earliest Gunners memory is watching the ‘Boring, boring Arsenal’ VHS as a six-year-old on repeat, to the extent where he could recite most of the commentary from that season. Matt was lucky enough to witness Arsenal lift the Premier League in 2002 as well as being present during the last match at Highbury in 2006, and at Dennis Bergkamp’s testimonial a few months later at the Emirates Stadium. Matt’s favourite players include Bergkamp, Thierry Henry and Tony Adams, with the 5-3 comeback victory against Middlesbrough in 2004 the best match he has ever spectated.
Matt is an optimistic ’In Wenger we trust’, kind of guy and believes that the glory days are not too far away…
Apart from his editorial duties, Matt will also be bringing his Arsenal knowledge to a column called “Where Are They Now?” – which focuses on former Gunners.