Sunday, 12 February 2012

Van Persie has lost it and should be sold

Robin van Persie's head has clearly been turned by the interest from Real Madrid as his performance in yesterday's match against Sunderland and it is time for Arsenal to cut their losses and sell him to the highest bidder.

No? Not with me on this one? Well, how about this...

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has shown some flashes of brilliance in the few matches he's played for Arsenal so far but yesterday against Sunderland he was poor. He's looked promising but yesterday's inept performance showed that he's inconsistent and we'd do well to sell him now while his stock is high.

Still not with me? How about this...

Theo Walcott was outstanding last week against Blackburn but yesterday against Sunderland he showed his real 'quality' and it's time he went.

I bet that last one has got a few more people agreeing with me. I'm not a Theo apologist - I'm as aware of his strengths and weaknesses as anyone else - but give the guy a chance. The truth is that all of Arsenal's front three were ineffective against Sunderland. Despite playing 120 minutes in midweek, they were fired up and full of confidence thanks to an excellent run of results and ran like demons for 65 minutes, closing Arsenal's attacking players down with superhuman effort. So why pick on Theo? Arsenal fans should support their players. Getting on their backs won't help them play better.

Now that I've got that off my chest, it's time to talk about Thierry Henry - one player no Arsenal fan surely wants to see leave. A few fans questioned the decision to bring him back (never go back, etc., blah, blah, blah), but Arsene Wenger's decision to bring him back to the club he loves has been full justified.

In his short second spell he has made six substitute appearance and scored three goals - a pretty impressive return for someone who is supposedly past it. And what important goals...

His first was the winner against Leeds in the FA Cup; his second was a seemingly unimportant one against Blackburn when were already 6-1 up (but we are now in the top four on goals scored and who knows how important goal difference will be at the end of the season); and his third won us the Premier League match against Sunderland in the last minute.

A lot of fans have said on Twitter and on blogs that they were in tears when he scored, and I was close to that myself. I will be very sad to see him go to say the least.

Au revoir Thierry. You've proved again that class is permanent. It's time that bronze statute of you outside the ground was upgraded to a gold one!

(Picture courtesy Ronnie McDonald)

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Thursday, 9 February 2012

Sink or swim time for Theo

Theo Walcott must be a slightly worried man at the moment. He always looks to me as if he's carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders, but right now he will be feeling under more pressure than usual.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has emerged as a competitor, not only for his place in the Arsenal team, but in the England team as well.

With Gervinho due to return from the African Cup of Nations shortly and Oxlade-Chamberlain impressing everyone with his performances in the Ivorian's absence, who will Arsene Wenger select out of Gervinho, Theo and Ox?

And with Fabio Capello resigning as England manager and Harry Redknapp looking the most likely bloke to take over, it is possible that the new manager will have different ideas than the old one.

If Radknapp does get the job, will Aaron Lennon be given more games? If you were England manager who would you pick for the wide positions out of Walcott, Young, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Adam Johnson, Lennon and a much improved Stuart Downing?

Theo and Young are probably in pole position at the moment. Capello has stuck by Theo when his form has not been the greatest simply because he can see the potential in him, but with tough competitive matches coming up in the European Championship finals, will Redknapp (or whoever else gets the job) pick more on form?

Theo can still be a top class player. He is still young (people forget that) and, despite regularly frustrating the fans who see him continually struggling to fulfil his potential, he has shown steady improvement each season since he has been at Arsenal.

There are two ways that this can go for Walcott. He can go into his shell and loose confidence like we have seen from him on occasions in the past, or he can either knuckle down, see the competition as a good thing and come out a better player.

Personally, I think the competition will be good for the player. Arsene Wenger has a habit of mollycodling his young players and protecting them from too much competition as he believes this is what is best for their development.

Alex Ferguson has a different approach – it's either sink or swim. If a young player isn't playing well enough to get into the team, he will be dropped. Occasionally, this means that young players fall by the wayside, but that probably means that they were never good enough in the first place.

And I believe it gives players a competitive edge – if a player isn't used to fighting for his place in the team then it seems logical that he is less well equipped to fight for his team when the going gets tough.

So, Theo, it's time to sink or swim.

(Picture courtesy Ronnie McDonald)

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