The Cleash

It’s 18 days since I last peered over the blogging parapet. The last time I did there were very few bullets whizzing over my head. Now there’s a full-blown barrage, though I must confess, I’m not sure who is firing at who.

Until someone valued at £10m+ comes in – a big signing, if you will – then the mood will remain as glum as it has become. 18 days ago, my blog was about Nasri, Clichy and Fabregas. This one is too. Nothing’s really moved on.

You could look at the potential exit of Fabregas, Nasri and Clichy in two ways, I suppose. The first would be to regard it as an exodus; a red flag, a dark portent. There are plenty taking that route. The second would be to see it as the coming together of three unfortunate scenarios, all at the same time. Of course, it’s much more pleasant to think of it being the latter.

Looking at the second of those, we have Fabregas, who has long harboured a desire to return to Barcelona. We have Clichy, who has refused to sign a new contract, and we have Nasri, who is acting the giddy goat, partly over money, but perhaps not entirely. That’s football I suppose.

Fabregas would be the real loss. His tenacity, vision and technique are second to none. Unless he is carrying an injury, he is a remarkably consistent footballer. He’s been the lynchpin of this side for a long time. But he wants to ‘go home’.

Nasri is an excellent footballer, a tough fighter, but he is not the finished product. He’s not worth £150,000+ a week, if you ask me. I’d say that even if we could afford to pay those wages. Incidentally, we can’t, at least not without an immediate upsurge in wages across the board.

Clichy divides opinion. He gives his all, he’s quick, he’s a very decent left-back. But he’s not as good a defender as his three long-term predecessors at Arsenal (Sansom, Winterburn and Cole). He is prone to error and his crossing could be better. But at the same time, he is currently better than Kieran Gibbs, he’s better than Enrique (who we have been linked to, not that I should be making much of that), and for a club on a limited budget, which we are compared to some, do we really want to be spending £15m on a new left-back?

Still, the consensus is that that deal is done.

Back to the original scenario though: Players who do not earn as much as some of their peers are easier to keep happy if the team they are playing in has been successful. As our groundhog seasons merge into one, you can see why things have come to a head. From a wages perspective, we are struggling to offer what other teams can offer. Maybe, like the fans, some players have tired of waiting for the promised land. This scenario is not much fun to contemplate.

Until the futures of these three players are sorted though, we’re in for a bit of turbulence.

Overall though, we’re hardly staring down the barrel at the Champions League qualifiers. There’s time – plenty of time.