Tag Archives: Robin Van Persie

Mathieu Flamini – The Man Who Would Be King

Towards the end of the Stoke City game, as interest in the match waned as we sat comfortably 3-1 up, the conversation amongst the fans around me turned to the return of Mathieu Flamini. That he was potentially the signing of the season.

Anyone who follows me on twitter would have seen me tweet after the game:

‘Mathieu Flamini – Had we spent £20million on him, we would be talking about how we’d solved our midfield problem.’

Whilst Aaron Ramsey has got the plaudits for his goals, and Mesut Ozil the hype for his price tag, it is Mathieu Flamini who has quietly been starring for us in the middle of the park. Adding the steel that we have missed, doing the dirty work and getting up other players noses. The joke going round Twitter is that it has taken us 4 years to replace Mathieu Flamini. And we have done that by buying Mathieu Flamini.

Whilst Spurs went and signed Etienne Capoue and Paulinho for £9.5million and £17million respectively, we got in Flamini, for a free transfer. Having already played for us, it was written off as a nothing transfer. But his performances this season have been as good, if not better, then the two Tottenham players. It just highlights, it is not about spending big money, it is about signing the right players.

His performances have been exceptional since he joined. The bite in the tackle. Not giving his opponents a minutes rest. Driving himself and the team forward. He has also become a leader in the middle of the park.

From the moment he stepped off the bench against Spurs, coming onto the pitch and barking orders, the mentality of the side seemed to shift. No longer would every player not give 100%. Despite only having been with the club for a few days, he was the leader on the pitch. To highlight this further, two examples against Stoke.

The first is rumours that, having got fed up with Jack Wilshire continually being kicked to pieces, he turned round to Stoke Marc Wilson and threatened to blind him if he fouled the young Englishman again. This type of aggression and sticking up for your team mate has not been seen since the days of Patrick Vieira.

Secondly, in the 2nd half when Serge Gnarby had been left in a heap, the referee played on as we had the ball. Once play had broken down, Flamini was straight in the ref’s ear, reminding him of the foul and demanding a booking for the offender. The ref promptly dished out the punishment. At this point, I turned round to those around me and said ‘that reminds me of Steven Gerrard.’ He has returned to Arsenal as a leader.

And that makes me wonder, had he not left Arsenal, would he now be the King of the Emirates?

He left us after in 2008 after 4 seasons and 153 games. He was an integral part of the side. The following season, Cesc Fabregas was named Arsenal captain. Had Flamini of stayed, I am sure it would have been him, and not Robin Van Persie, who would have become vice captain. After all, at that point he would have racked up nearly 200 games.

When Cesc left us in 2011, it would have only been natural that Mathieu Flamini would step up and become Arsenal captain. 27 years old, been at the club for 7 years, over 300 games played, a central midfielder. He would be the perfect choice.

He would then be sitting here now, in 2013, not as a free transfer, but as a man who is beginning his third season as team captain, beginning his tenth season at the club, with over 400 appearances. He would be captain fantastic. He would be King.

He himself must be wondering why he left us. With being captain, he would be on vastly superior wage’s then he is on now. When re-signing for us in the summer, he agreed £50,000 a week. My bet is had he not left, he would be on twice that. By leaving, he has lost his chance to increase his earning potential, as well as being club captain and a potential legend. I wonder if he regrets it?

On the other side of the coin, he has returned to Arsenal as a better player. Whilst this has to do with him being 4 years older, 122 games for AC Milan has improved him. And look at the central midfielder’s alongside him whilst in Milan:

Andrea Pirlo
Gennaro Gattuso
Clarence Seedorf
Massimo Ambrosini
Mark van Bommel
Riccardo Montolivo

These are amongst some of the best midfielder’s of their generation. OVer 4,000 career games between them, 429 international caps. You could argue that playing with these, AC Milan became a finishing school for Mathieu Flamini, and, with out his move to AC Milan, he would not be the same player he is today. His move highlights how much a player can improve when he is playing, training, every day with better players – it is something Arsenal should learn from, stop selling senior pro’s, let them teach the younger ones.

The signing of Mathieu Flamini is as much inspirational as it was accidental. Arsene Wenger himself has admitted that when he started training with us, there were no plans to sign him. However it is clear that his mind soon changed as our lack of interest in central midfielder’s over the summer showed that in Wenger’s mind, he was thinking ‘is there someone out there better than Flamini.’

He may well of lost his chance to become Arsenal captain, or an Arsenal legend, but if he continue’s in his current manner, he could become an Arsenal great.

Mathieu Flamini – The Man Who Would Be King



Mesut Ozil – Good, but not good enough

So the transfer window is closed. We finally spent some money. A truly world class talent in Mesut Ozil  (I am not going to put the silly little dots about his name) has joined The Arsenal for a club record £42.4million, but I sit here this morning with a bitter sweet taste in my mouth – although that might be the rubbish ocffee I have just made myself.

Whilst the signing of Ozil is a brilliant one. A world class player, just entering his peak, there is a feeling that we could have, no we should have, done more. The beginning of the Scouts Motto is a vow that ‘I will always do my best.’ It is clear that no one at Arsenal was ever a scout, because we have not done our best.

With a reported £80million to spend in this transfer window, we have spent just £42.4million of that. Add in the sales of Gervinho and more, we have raised circa £10million and free’d up hundreds of thousands in wages. A net spend of a little over £30million means there is plenty left in the pot. After last summers transfer window, Ivan Gazidas came out and said:

‘We also kept some powder dry so we’ve got the ability to invest if our manager finds the right opportunities in January.’

We bought a left back.

Now before I spiral too far into the pit of negativity, I am pleased with the players we got in. Emiliano Viviano, whilst I have never seen him play, reads like a player who could challenge Sczcesny. The press reported it as Arsenal signing a Seria B goal keeper. But the truth is he is Italian number 2, and last year was Fiorentina’s number 1 goalkeeper when they just narrowely missed out on Champions League football. The only slight worry is he looks a little like Manuel Almunia! However, why have we loaned him? We are Arsenal Football Club. We should not be relying on loan deals. With the money we have, if Arsene Wenger thinks Viviano is good enough, let’s go buy him and then make a song and dance about buying one of the best Italian goalkeepers.

We then have our 2 free transfer. Flamini and Sanogo. We know what we are getting in Flamini. And he showed what he can give to the team in the second half against Spurs. Going against the grain, I am happy with our midfield starters. Wither Arteta/Ramsey/Wilshere as the 2 central midfielder, and Rosicky/Cazorla/Chamberlain and now Ozil for the attacking midfielder, I struggled to see why we would need to go out and spend a £25million on Fellaini. Or big on a Bender or Gundogan. So the signing of Flamini is smart. It has improved the squad, and you know what you are getting. You know he will settle and he is good enough for the Premier League. And, in theory anyway, coming in on a free should have left money to spend on other area’s of the side.

As for Sanogo. He is a giant of a man and will come good. In his early games, I have been impressed by his movement and work rate. The guy has talent, but it might take him a year or so to get fully up to speed with the Premier League.

And that is the frustration. We essentially sit here with 1 senior striker. Yes, Theo Walcott and Lukas Podolski can cover up there, but neither have been impressive when doing so. A bid for Demba Ba on the final day is not good enough. Especially when on loan. We still had another £40million to spend. Did we do our best to spend it? I think not. And in defence. Liverpool spent £25million early in the day on 2 talented young centrebacks. One of them the highly rates Sakho from PSG. Why were we not in for him? We had the money.

Yes, Mesut Ozil is a brilliant deal. One of the top 10 players in the world. And hopefully the signing of him will attract further players. But at the moment, it feels like I have been given a toy for Christmas with no batteries. And the shop’s do not open untill tomorrow. Except in this case the shop does not reopen until January. We failed to do our best. We are bad scouts.

Finally, how must Robin Van Persie be thinking this morning. Yes, he won the league title last year, but he left Arsenal to play with better players and win more. I said last year, Arsenal will win more trophies during Van Persie’s time at Old Trafford then Manchester United will. And now Van Persie looks around him and see’s Ashley Young, Michael Carrick, Tom Cleverely and Nani supplying him. Whilst at Arsenal there Cazorla and Ozil. The two most creative players in Europe. I wonder if he is starting to regret the move


Why Tottenham will still be in Arsenal’s shadow this season

There have been a lot of envious green eyes pointed in a north-easterly direction at that lot up the road this summer. The sole reason behind this is the near £90m they have spent on incoming transfers, whilst Arsenal have spent just £0m.

True, our transfer window has not gone well with our only signing being that of Postman Sanogo. However, rest assured that there is NOTHING to worry about, and infact their transfer window this summer is reminiscent to our transfer window in the summer of 2012.

Gareth Bale is leaving Tottenham this summer. The deal is done. Both parties are keeping quiet. Spurs recently signed an agreement with Real Madrid this summer. The agreement is akin to being a loser and becoming Facebook friends with the school quarterback. However, the agreement is currently helping Spurs.

By not completing the Gareth Bale deal early, Real Madrid are allowing Tottenham to get in their replacements in without yet having to pay inflated prices. How else could they afford to spend near £90m once the Willian deal is done?

And they have bought his replacements. In has come Brazilian international’s Paulinho and Willian, France international Ettiene Capoue and Spanish international Roberto Soldado. Or when I say ‘internationals’, they have 38 caps between them, despite all being 25+.

In 2012, Arsenal sold Robin Van Persie. Like with Tottenham, we bought our replacements before letting him go. In came Santi Cazorla, Olivier Giroud and Lukasz Podolski. Yet we as Arsenal fans were not happy. We had let go our star player, and whilst we were happy with the players coming in, we failed to get true quality to replace the Dutchman.

You see, like Gareth Bale, Robin Van Persie is a special player. Like Theirry Henry. Cristiano Ronaldo. He has the special ability to create something out of nothing. To win a game on his own. How many points did Arsenal get through a bit of individual magic from Van Persie or Henry? How many did Manchester United get through Ronaldo? And, whilst Bale is not on these 3’s level, how many points did Tottenham get through Gareth Bale last season?

He scored 22 goals, and was top scorer by 11 league goals (Jermaine Defoe second with 11). But what for his stats:

  • Tottenham WITH Bale: 2 points per game
  • Tottenham WITHOUT Bale: 1.1 ppg
  • Tottenham WITH Bale Scoring: 2.6 ppg
  • Tottenham WITHOUT Bale Scoring: 1.3 ppg

Gareth Bale is an individual match winner. The statistics show it. And like Robin Van Persie, it is his consistency that takes him up a level. A player like Willian scores a ‘worldie’ 2 or 3 times a season. Soldado is like Oliver Giroud. Good in the 6 yard box, but will create little for himself. And Paulinho and Capoue are hard working midfielders.

By losing Bale, they not only lose his wonder goals. They lose his consistency. And that is very hard to replace. As Arsenal showed getting in Cazorla, Podolski & Giroud, you might be able to strengthen the over all team, but football game’s are won in moments. And if you lose the man who has the most moments, you will undoubtedly be worse off.

Last season, Robin Van Persie scored a lot of key goals for Manchester United. Everytime it seems he was either scoring the equaliser, the winner, or the 1st goal. He could of been doing that for Arsenal. Gareth Bale was doing much the same at Spurs. Often scoring the key goal in the match. With freightening consistency.

With Bale (all but) gone, I do not foresee any of the current Spurs side replacing his consistency. Yes, Willian will have his moments. As will Lennon. As will Adebayor & Defoe (if they keep them – more later), but Bale had 15 or so games last season where he had moments where he dragged Tottenham forward. They will miss that.

A Spurs fan recently said to me ‘I actually think Spurs have bought in some proven quality.’ I do not know what he was smoking over their, but his definition of proven quality is very different to mine.

Roberto Soldado – A striker who was bombed out of Real Madrid for just €4 million who can not get in the Spanish team ahead of Fernando Torres (14 league goals in the past 2 years). Yes, he might of got 24 league goals last season. But Lionel Messi got 46. Big John Hartson once got 25 league goals for Celtic!

Ettiene Capoue – Once on Arsenal’s radar, if he was so good, why didn’t Arsenal buy him? Or Newcastle? He has 7 caps for France at 25. Diaby has 16 (although when did Diaby turn 27???)

Paulinho – Some no mark from Brazil who was so good that when playing in Lithuania, his side got relegated and, after a ‘single successful; season’ in Poland, so many top European sides were after him that he went back to Brazil. Lets be honest, all everyone has seen of him was against England in a friendly. 25 and only just making his ‘big money’ move to Europe? OK.

Willian – Another Brazilian, who was so good that he followed other brilliant Brazilians into Europe playing for the likes of Barcelona, Inter Milan, Shakhtar Donetsk & Anzhi Makhachkala. Elano MKII

Big fee’s does not mean you are buying top quality. Just ask David Bentley (Similar fee to Paulinho), Gervinho (Similar fee to Capoue), Shevchenko (Similar fee to Soldado) and Veron (Simialr fee to Willian).

And then we have the players Tottenham have let go. Their 4 top scorers last year were:

Gareth Bale – 22
Jermaine Defoe – 11
Clint Dempsey – 7
Emmanuel Adebayor – 5

Now Dempsey has already gone. Bale is on his way. And Spurs will reportedly listen to bids for Jermaine Defoe. that leaves them with just Emmanuel Adebayor. Who some quarters say might also be off (but is unlikely too due to high wages.) That leaves Spurs trying to find 39 goals in comparison to last season. They only scored 66. And there incoming players?

Soldado – 24
Paulinho – 7
Capoue – 7
Willian – 3

Now many will be surprised about Willian. You would think he had more. Well great goals are always remembered. To think, some stil lthink Cheick Tiote has a great shot because he scored a banger v us. That to date is still the only goal he has scored in what is now his 4th season at Newcastle.

Anyway, that was a side note. There incoming players scored 40 league goals last season. But the difference is they were scored in easier leagues to score in (Brazil, Russia/Ukraine, Spain, France). And take into account Capoue had only scored 5 league goals previous, and all of last years came from corners (so only him or Vertonghen can score).

Yes, Spurs have spent a lot of money. Yes, they have a bit more quality in some areas (Paulinho & Capoue are a step up from Parker and Huddlestone) but what they now lack is the start quality. And it is that star quality which gets you into the title race. It is that star quality which spurs now lack which means they are still not as good as us. Arsenal went backwards last season when they lost their game changer. Spurs will go backwards this once Bale is wearing the white of Real Madrid.

Whilst some might say Spurs have ‘strengthened’ simply having more expensive players in their squad does not mean they are stronger.

Let me take you back to my original thoughts. In the summer of 2012, Arsenal sold Robin Van Persie, but signed Santi Cazorla, Lukasz Podolski & Olivier Giroud. Had we moved #forward? Were we #Stronger? Were you happy? If the answer to all is NO, then why are you worrying about that lot up the Seven Sisters Road?