After a few weeks of depression, the season ended with a good final day win against Fulham. Albeit, a slightly ghosted away side, but the mood around the stadium was much better than it has been over recent weeks. Things were put a little into perspective after a season in which we’ve done incredibly well to finish 3rd, and to stay in it like we did.
A quick comparison to Liverpool is a prime example. We lost two players in Adebayor and Toure for £41m and only got one in, Vermaelen. Liverpool lost Xabi Alonso, but did acquire Aquilani and Johnson for £40m, as well as a few younger ones… They were challenging last season and we weren’t. They ended up 7th, whilst we maintained a 13th season of top four-ness and automatic Champions League qualification. Oh yeah – and we were still challenging with 5 or 6 games to go.
Perspective is what we need to have. Yes, it’s another season without a trophy, but at the same time, it’s a progress in the clubs history that will confirm us in the future as the best run, richest and most aggressive football club in the world. Debt free.
I’m planning on doing a piece soon on the billion pound title… yes billion pound… That is the difference between us and Chelsea right now. In May 2008, their debt was £736m (see this post from the Guardian), and surely it must stand closer to £800m now… whilst Arsenal started off the same journey with a £400m stadium. In a way, you can say that Arsenal had a £400m handicap, or started with -£400m, whilst Chelsea have an £800m head start. The difference between Arsenal and Chelsea is over £1 billion! I’ll publish that one tomorrow.
But back to yesterdays game and it was a nice game to be at, it a carnival feel, a bumper 100 page programme and a lap of honour appreciate of our support at the end. Nice. And the game itself was also a nice game on the eye, with Walcott trying to impress the onlooking Capello, maybe trying too hard, with Arshavin determined to score a goal and with Van Persie being a creative hub up front with Nasri tucked in below, it was an attractive game to be at…
Our line up was:
Sagna – Campbell – Silvestre – Clichy
Eboue – Diaby
Walcott – Nasri – Arshavin
It seems like Bendtner (groin) and Eduardo (you choose) were both injured so Vela was on the bench, alongside a few youngsters, one of them being Henri Lansbury, who recently finished a loan deal at Watford.
The first goal came by a Shwarzer error that Arshavin capitalised on and instead of squaring to an unmarked Van Persie, struck the ball through the keeper and two or three defenders, to score. Although, yes – he scored – it does pose the question why would you not pass to your team mate who is better placed? Should we read into this? Van Persie did get his goal with a ring ding strike, which their keeper palmed onto the bar, but fell kindly (is that a first?) for Van Persie to score the rebound. An own goal made it three and in the second half, an exquisite chip from Carlos Vela (where have you been all season?) made it 4-0. We confirmed third. Sp*rs lost to Burnley, the world harmony has been restored. A massive shout out to Lansbury – who came on in the second half and played very very well – an awesome player and one for the future, definitely.
In news outside of the game, news coming out from a few papers and online resources indicates the William Gallas saga looks to be finished and that he isn’t signing for next season. He wasn’t at the ground yesterday, where you would have seen all the other injured players like Niklas Bendtner, Aaron Ramsey and Alex Song. Even Almunia was around, but absolutely no sign of Gallas. Rumours were that he is currently on a £80k per week and the new contract, initially for 1 year was at £70k. First of all, William rejected it based on length and then more recently, we’ve come back to him with a 2 year contract, believed to £70k for next year and £60k the year after. Apparently that new improved 2 year deal has now been rejected too, meaning that Gallas will effectively move on within the next few weeks. A saving of £80k per week for 2 years sees us save an £8m outlay, so it has it’s advantages – with Silvestre and Senderos off too, that’s a lot more saving going on too. Just need to get in one super duper centre back and we’ll be okay. I think.
Meanwhile Van Persie has been talking about signing of Maroune Chamakh and is fairly excited about it all…
“I don’t know Chamakh personally but I know him from TV. He looks a good player. He is strong in the air and scores lots of goals with his head. He looks confident on the ball so hopefully the transfer goes through. It is good for all of us to have competition and that’s why I am happy to see him coming.”
And so are we all Robin.
I did read an article on the Arsenal.com site today from Ivan Gazidis (request for an emergency goalkeeper apparently rejected)… and he highlighted the financial stability on the club and insisted that we have the funds available if Arsene wants to spend (er, I think he said he was going to spend, spend, spend but not big)… here’s a little bit from the article:
“We’re now coming to a period, with Highbury Square coming to its completion and some of our other property developments bearing fruit, where the financial health of the Club is secure. That does not mean we have unlimited resources, but it does mean we have sufficient funds to invest. As always we’ll only do this on our timescale, on the basis of our manager’s assessments and not those of the media. We have the youngest squad in the Premier League and we need to translate that potential into results. To the extent that the manager thinks it’s necessary, we will use our resources to supplement the squad intelligently so that we can take that vital step forward. For the most part we’re now in the healthy position that almost all of our young players are under long-term contracts and their futures are secure, as well as their possible transfer values being protected. One or two players are coming to the end of their contracts - William Gallas, for example. Whatever happens, Arsène has identified the fact that the defence has been an issue for us this year, so it’s not difficult to imagine that that’s an area we’re focused on in this transfer window.”
Again, Gazidis highlights the Gallas situation and something I recently heard about in Spain was that Raul has a “contract for life” and Real Madrid, with the clause that he has to make 30 appearances for the club to automatically renew his contract. Arsene could look at this and give over 30′s a contract for life… and if they stop playing the games, the clause would be invoked and thus they would leave… sound good?
Finally, a big shout out to all my fellow Gooners who made it down to The Indian Ocean yesterday for the final day of the season curry – big thanks going to Totti for the organisation and to all the arseblog forumers who ordered the hottest food in the world…
The England squad is announced tomorrow (well, provisional) and it’ll soon be time to move our attention to the World Cup… but there are a few Arsenal related matters to cover over the weeks, so you’ll get some regular instalments of the end of season chatter very soon…
Adios (for now)..