By Walter Broeckx
I don’t follow up all the rumours of the transfer window. On second thoughts I do follow them by the funny way Sir Hardly Anyone presents them at Untold and I find them very amusing to be honest. But when I look around on facebook and on twitter there is no escaping some things. But I am not going to talk about new signings but talk about people who feel like a new signing.
The rumour is that Mikel Arteta has signed or is going to sign another one year contract extension at Arsenal. The captain that has been out for most of the season because of an injury and then some surgery is likely to stay at Arsenal. The 33 year old midfielder who has been appointed captain at the start of last season after the departure of Vermaelen has had a terrible injury plagued season. There really seems to be a captain’s curse at Arsenal for the moment. Vermaelen was more injured than fit after being appointed captain and Arteta has taken that over with the armband. Now after having had a lot of recovery time I hope that Arteta now can stay fit.
What is important about Arteta is that he is the arm of Wenger on the field when he plays. He is one of those players that might turn in to a good manager after his playing days. So having him around in a half coaching job when being around the team and the other players can be of a high importance. He isn’t as quick as Coquelin, doesn’t tackle as good as Coquelin but that is not really surprisingly as he was more a forward midfield player in his younger days and in his first years at Arsenal.
I do like Arteta a lot because he tries to bring some composure to the team when it is needed. And of course he is a strong passer of the ball and keeps it moving from foot to foot. I know his speed has gone down but he now uses more his brains than his legs when it comes to positioning himself on the field. He might not be as effective as Coquelin in breaking up the play but he sure has a good influence on the players around him.
Keeping him is good in my opinion and he will be one of those players that you know you can call upon when needed and that will not be too heartbroken when they have to sit on the bench. At 33 at a club like Arsenal you know that you will find less game time. But as a role model for the kids and in the league cup he can be of the highest importance.
But even more important are the rumours that Theo Walcott is also close to agreeing a new contract that would keep him at Arsenal till 2019. After Theo showing his form in the last two matches of the season just gone, we know again what we have missed for one and a half years. .
We know Theo has his weaknesses. Defending is not really his thing. He is not a player that will go in to the duels a lot to fight for the ball like Alexis does. Sometimes you wish he would do that also but that is a character thing I think. Alexis is a fox terrier and Theo is a bit more of a cuddly dog. That is just the way they are and you can need both in a team.
But Theo really is a great finisher. I know in the months after he came back and sat on the bench a lot he was rusty when it came to scoring goals. As we mustn’t forget that he got injured after being kicked to bits by several Tottenham players seconds before his knee gave way, he might have had to overcome a kind of mental block in his head. That is very natural for any player who was the victim of dangerous fouls and vicious tackles. Players hold back a bit more after that and only after being completely relaxed they start to forget about it and start playing with the needed freedom in their head.
And I think that is what happened when Theo started against WBA. It was as if he was determined to show the boss that he had left it behind him. Wenger got some questions as to why Theo didn’t play more in the months before. But perhaps Wenger had seen the mental block in his play and didn’t want to expose him too soon to the criticism he would get (and did get already) by some part of our supporters.
Theo had a period at Arsenal (the RVP glory year) where he gave assist after assist. If my memory is still a bit good I remember having heard 15 assists or even more in a season and lots of the goal RVP scored was because of Theo providing him with some good chances. And after RVP went Theo started to score more himself. And still gave assists.
If Theo doesn’t get kicked off the field again during the season I really think he can be a +20 goal scorer for Arsenal and have at least +10 assists after his name. Theo signing a new contract resolves any issue for me about Arsenal needing to buy a world class striker. They can be that striker. And with his speed looking back to normal again in the last two matches he will be a threat for most defences.
I’m looking forward to see how Özil and Theo finally really can start to play together. Because of injuries from both players this hasn’t happened a lot during the last two seasons. With both of them having a normal preseason I really think they can start to gel together in to an awesome striking partnership. The vision of Özil combined with the runs and speed of Theo…. where is that water in my mouth coming from….?
Woolwich Arsenal: The club that changed football – Arsenal’s early years
Making the Arsenal – how the modern Arsenal was born in 1910