By Tony Attwood
Carlos Vela was 21 last March, according to my maths, and yet it seems like he has been here for centuries.
In fact he came in in 2007/8 but didn’t start playing for us until the following season. Year on year his stats are
- 2008/9 – Starts 10 – Subs 19- Goals 6
- 2009/10 Starts 6 – Subs 14 – Goals 2
- 2010/11 Starts 0 – Subs 3 – Goals 3
Of course it is last year with the injuries that made it feel like he had been and gone, and it non-breakthrough made that goal against Sheffield United in the Diddly Cup seem so 20th century. But seemingly without my noticing he did actually pop up 20 times and get a couple of goals.
This season so far he’s got two sub appearances in the league plus a wonderful goal against Notlob, and now here is again scoring twice last night.
As you’ll know, some goals at a game you don’t see particularly well (mostly because they are scored 10 miles away up the other end and the old eyesight isn’t what it used to be) but by chance the last goal last night was perfectly situated from where Johnny Neale and I were sitting, and it was quite extraordinary to see. It really looked as if he was not expecting to get the ball, saw it and thought “ah the ball” and put it about six inches inside the post. Utter perfection.
He looked rather pleased too.
It is, of course, a funny old game, but it really does seem as if we have another striker sitting there firing on all cylinders.
According to the official web site we have five strikers,
- Van Persie
which as I have noted before does not include a certain Mr Arshavin, who is listed as a midfielder.
If we put our Russian pal in the list, and take out those who cannot play just now we have, by simple deduction and advanced calculus
which actually seems like quite a decent line up, up front. A fair old front three you might think.
Except I don’t think we are playing 4-3-3 at all at the moment. It is 4-2-4, with two of the front four dropping into midfield when the need arises.
In fact sitting in block 99 what struck me was the way people kept popping up all over the place. Nasri as the last line of defence, Nasri moving foward, Cesc as centre forward, Eboue as Eboue; it was really quite varied.
But back to Carlos. Was it just the injuries last year? Has it (injuries aside) been a natural progression from 18 year old to 21 year old, now ready to show us what’s what? After all just because Oor Jack started scoring bendy goals for the reserves when he was four does not mean that everyone can.
(I did an interview with Jack last year in which I asked him how long he had been playing football professionally. He said, “Since the age of four. I don’t know what I did before then. Just mucked about a bit I suppose.”)
(actually I didn’t and he didn’t but it would have been nice if it were true).
I guess the awarding of the number 11 shirt to Vela says quite a lot, and if Vela keeps up this level of performance it will be like having signed a fourth player in the summer. Well, actually a fifth, because there’s Jack.
And then there’s JET. He has just scored four goals in three games for the reserves – which I know is only the reserves, but this game was against Manchester City Elite, as their reserve team are now known. Here’s what the excitable Arsenal web site said.
“Emmanuel-Thomas took one touch before curling a wonderful shot into the top corner past the outstretched Gonzalez to make it 1-1.”
Ah the old wonder goal. Good stuff then.
Picking out the future Carlos Vela (as in young man who will burst upon the scene) is a pointless and fruitless exercise which I indulge in with vigour. I think he is now here, arrived, on the scene, ready to play regularly, and all that stuff. A winning goal in the cup final perhaps.
But to change tack once again, the team from the 1-1 draw with Manchester City Elite included Wojciech Szczesny, Johan Djourou, Ignasi Miquel, Craig Eastmond, Chuks Aneke (c), Jay Emmanuel-Thomas, Roarie Deacon, Benik Afobe.
Leaving aside Djourou who is obviously in the game to get some match practice, I think there are seven names there to conjure with.
How curious the world is. We actually seem suddenly to have quite a bit of talent when last year were total rubbish and couldn’t hit a barn door with a hedgehog (I know that as I read it on a web site so it must be true). And what on earth will we do when all the dead and injured (people not hedgehogs) return and expect to get a place in the games? That of course is when we need another club in which everyone can play.
Pedro Botelho, our left back left winger on speed, plays for FC Cartagena and was in the team that beat Barcelona II 5-1 last weekend in the Segunda Division where Barca B (or Barca II – the names seem interchangeable) play. If only Arsenal were allowed to have a team in the Championship, then we could really see some development.
That we can’t do this actually goes back to a time in the 19th century when Woolwich Arsenal were the only pro league club in London and the Southern League was being formed at the fifth attempt. Arsenal attended the meeting and proposed that the numbers could be made up with Arsenal Reserves playing in the League. It was turned down by the other giants of the game (teams like Ilford) as being “wholly inappropriate and unwelcome”, and its been a non-goer ever since. But I think it really does hold us back.
Anyway, three home games scored 16 let in 1. Not bad. And one lovely abiding memory from last night (apart from stupidly losing my car keys on the train on the way to the ground, and having to get a neighbour out at 11.30 to meet me at the station upon my return to the wild wastelands of Northamptonshire) was a Braga free kick in the second half to the left of the penalty area as I look at it from behind the goal. Almunia wanted a wall and he got one. Jack Wilshere and Andre Arshavin. Two giants of the game.
A lovely touch.
Finally, a word of apology from Billy the Dog. Billy rather childishly predicted a 5-1 win in his column yesterday, and of course was completely out. It was just like that time a year ago when he predicted the opening match of the season as Everton 1 Arsenal 7. I don’t know where he gets these wild flights of fancy from.
If you have been, thank you for reading.
Arsenal, Braga and the issue of the missing apostrophe. Phil Gregory’s preview
Arsenal vs the Arsenalistas. Billy the Dog’s match preview and commentary on the issue of the players’ car park.
- Arsenal has let in one more goal than at this stage last season, and that’s a disaster
- Arsenal continue to make more progress than the rest of the big seven
- Arsenal v Tottenham; the team and some rather jolly recent history
- We are running out of referees, and the reason is the PGMO.
- Arsenal v Tottenham: the key fact the media won’t to tell you – and why they won’t