Fingers crossed the Champions League draw favours us this morning. One of Athletic Bilbao, FC Copenhagen, Lille, Besiktas and Standard Liege await us….
We’ve never won that competition but we have lifted the Community Shield trophy a few times and back in 2004 and on this very day, we battered Manchester United 3-1 with Reyes, Gilberto and Silvestre scoring the goals. Silvestre?? Yes, Ashley Cole’s cross got a deflection and the old cart horse got lucky… lol
I’ve set up a Telegraph Fantasy Football League for anyone interested. It’s just a bit of fun and if you want to join in, the league is called Highbury House and the PIN: 8071009.
The Daily Star report that we are close to securing a deal for PSG midfielder Adrien Rabiot. He’s 19 years old, 6′ 2″ tall and French. The poison dwarf wants to sign him too according to the Express.
Edinson Cavani islinked to us too, the players agent, Claudio Annelluci told Uruguay newspaper El Telegrafo:
There was much interest in the player during the past six months. I can confirm that Cavani has heard proposals from Liverpool and Arsenal.
Lastly, the Mirror believe that Juventus have been knocking on the door asking if Jack Wilshere fancies a move to the Italian club.
Talking of Jack Wilshere, here is today’s post:
For lovers of high level intrigues in the espionage world of intelligence and counter-intelligence subterfuge of the Cold War era, The Fourth Protocol is a master class. It comes a close second to the other Forsyth’s bestseller, The Devil’s Alternative as the best novel I’ve read and I’ve read plenty.
When I first watched a full Arsenal match with a bi-spectacled beanpole watching from the technical area, I had same feeling that this man, whose first name, Arsene rings in accord with club name Arsenal, was the man to take the club to the pinnacle of being the best in the world. This happened in 1997.
Seventeen years have gone by and although Arsenal is not yet the best in the world, the signs are quite ominous the North London club is not far off. This assertion is certainly a matter for another write up.
Recently, Arsene Wenger revealed that what he told Aaron Ramsey, transformed him from a pathetic player who struggled all over the pitch, into a world class box-to-box midfielder in less than a year. In simple summary, the gaffer told the Welshman to play it simple to get confidence first, then do every other thing as much as the natural talent permitted. Knowing Wenger as a man who hardly ever made such personal conversations public, I reckoned that was Le Prof breaking his First Protocol.
Now, he has to go further…
In his ranks is another player, blessed with the same ability as Ramsey, one who needs same words in private. This player may even be a greater player than his box-to-box team mate.
Having gone through all football tutelage in Arsenal right from the kindergarten age of seven, Wilshere is one name well revered by everything Arsenal. His early displays promised a player of highest quality. His progress to the main team was heralded. From some perspectives, including mine, the fearless-ball-carrying lad represented a poor man’s version of Lionel Messi. But that’s not taking anything away from dear Jack. Any version of Messi is still world class.
His mazy runs, close control, swift change in direction, fearless take-ons suggested any coach that attempted to clone the England international into the Argentine demi-god could hit pay dirt. Wilshere works tirelessly on the pitch, he’s always ready to receive the ball, always ready to withstand and fly into a challenge and perhaps, it’s the latter qualities that made Le Prof choose to shift from the Messi proto-mold and create a completely different player – a Jack Wilshere.
What came out of Le Prof’s perfecting machine was still excellent. At just 19, Wilshere had made his name pronounceable by any football fan anywhere in the world. At that age, he had faced the Barcelona midfield comprising the famed Xavi and Iniesta in a two-legged affair and never blinked for once. So dogged were his breathtaking performances in those two games that Pep Guardiola, the man who re-invented Barca’s tiki-taka to near ephemeral domination, singled out Wilshere as the brightest spark in the Arsenal team which had surrendered via 3 -4 aggregate.
While Arsenal fans endured in the agony of those trophyless years, every one of them happily pointed in the direction of Wilshere as a proof dear Gunners would rise again. Of course that barren comatose had been banished to history but sadly, our beloved Jack has fizzled out and his contribution to that landmark transition was largely anonymous.
Trying to go into the reasons for this non-envisaged drawback could draw miles of print as it certainly would the ensuing debate. However, like Le Prof talked to Ramsey, Le Prof has to talk heart-to-heart to Jack.
Of course, one would conclude he already has but then we should imagine he woould have long talked to Ramsey before he claimed he did. From Wilshere’s displays in the pre-season games, he hasn’t shown any sign of departure from the Wilshere of last season and I sincerely believe that if he hasn’t already done so, Le Prof needs to talk to Jack ASAP.
If he already has, then Wilshere didn’t understand him, so Le Prof has to invite him over for a repeat conversation before the actual season kicks off. As many times that are required, Le Prof has to get the message into Wilshere’s skull, for in the English father of two, the world of football has a great footballer. Nobody with his technical abilities was ever destined for less – Jack is world class.
And what should we expect Le Prof to tell Wilshere?
Yes, Wilshere has been derailed by injuries but unlike most injuries, he invites his. In just three preseason games so far, Jack has got himself into no less than three career-threatening tackles! I’ve never watched a player who never shied away from a challenge however dangerous. Not even Italy’s Gennaro Gattuso was as carelessly daring.
I recall one league match with Birmingham City. Wilshere, the smallest man on the pitch, tackled the biggest man on the pitch, Nicola Zigic with both feet off the ground. The 6’7” giant landed on his back and lay still while Wilshere continued as if he didn’t make contact. That was courage and fearlessness to an admirable level but those have been the traits threatening to force Wilshere into the dust bin of has-been’s. Believe me, Jack is one of the strongest lads that has ever played the game or he would have long ended his career.
I believe Jack still possesses the footballing ability to be among the very best of his generation but he must learn to be pitchwise and he must learn fast. When he is clearly losing a ball he should let go, instead of that careless challenge that makes fans’ hearts skip a beat. He should know that even Messi doesn’t dribble into impossible situation, release the ball when you perceive a cul-de-sac and not attempt to ride through it, thereby attracting vicious tackles.
Wenger has to make certain this season doesn’t end another of failed promises for Wilshere…it just can’t because the clocks are ticking. And when the gaffer does, we’ll happily await him to break his Second Protocol, with that knowing grin of course, by end of season.
Written by Tai Emeka Obasi