Contracts and Keepers

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You can’t see the wood for the trees when it comes to Arsenal players being offered new contracts, can you? First, misser of two good chances on Tuesday, Charles Vela, earned himself a new deal. And now, talk is of man-of-balsa Thomas Rosickly getting new terms.

Might seem a bit weird to some people.

However, I can see the logic. Charles Vela, as Wenger is keen to point out, has been nurtured for some time, was sent out on loan to Scaramanga – I think it’s in Spain – and is still only 20. We’ve had our fingers burned before by players not being tied down to long deals, most recently with Nigel Flamini and Alex Hleb. Why risk it again?

I doubt Vela is on megabucks, and even if it all goes to pot, so long as he’s on a longish deal then we’re in a better position to get a fair price for him.

It’s a bit different with Rosickly, but the same rules apply. He’s a very talented and hugely experienced player in the last year of deal. OK, so he’s made of polystyrene, but if he gets fit and stays fit and scores goals and generally impresses, then how galling would it be should he waltz off in the summer for the princely sum of zero pounds sterling?

There are those who argue that these kinds of players don’t merit new deals, and while I get the reservations, I still think that it’s marginally wiser to guarantee yourselves a transfer fee than to risk losing them.

Besides, Wenger is hardly likely to offer Rosicky a four-year deal is he? It will be more cautious than that.


I’ve been longing for a keeper battle for some time.

By that I mean a proper challenge for first spot. Lehmann was deposed by Almunia in the former’s final season, and since then Almunia has been largely untouched. Fabianski last season was rather unfairly at times known as Flapianski – so it wasn’t going to happen then.

I’ve always maintained that Almunia, while an excellent shot stopper, is not a world-class keeper in terms of commanding his defence or his area, but he can improve and the best way for any player to improve is to have someone breathing down their neck. It’s healthy stuff.

Several errors and one enforced absence later, and we’ve got an interesting scenario. Mmmm Mannone came in and did well for a young keeper, but really it’s Fabianski or nobody in terms of deposing Almunia.

Yesterday the Pole urged Wenger to pick him at Anfield. I’m not sure that time has come yet, but if Fabianski continues to play well when he gets the chance (and he stays fit – but he plays for Arsenal so there’s clearly no chance of that), then we might see that time sooner rather than later.


Arsenal since about 1979. Thick, thin and all that.