In a transfer widow that has been deficient in the transfer department to the tune of one, every transfer rumour pertaining to Arsenal has to be taken with a large silo of salt. There are six days left and counting, not that I’m counting or anything.
And one of the least feasible has to be the one in the NOTW this morning, linking us with a £7m swoop (why are transfers always ‘swoops’?) for Micah Richards. Now, don’t get me wrong, Richards is a player with potential (although he’s certainly having a rotten season), and he ticks most of the Wenger boxes – strong, fast, athletic, young and raw. But £7m for a young player with four years left on his contract? In the context of a market where an almost permanently injured and slightly deranged 30-year-old striker is worth £14m, and a Honduran midfielder worth just £1m last year is now also worth £14m, how can a player like Richards be worth just £7m? That’s why I consider this story to be bunkum of the highest order. As with most incoming transfer stories, I’ll believe it when I see it.
Anyroad, the main business today is of course the fourth round of the FA Cup, a competition I Iove. This is a cup that to me is much more exciting than most of the group-stage games of the Champions League, principally because the fixtures in the former have not been fiddled to benefit the big boys in the same way that they have in the latter. Was anyone blown out their socks by our group stage this year? Despite our general travails, getting through seemed inevitable.
Unlike today, which could be a tough tie indeed. The Bluebirds were last season’s beaten finalists – so their two New Wembley visits compares to our none – and Arsenal need to be up for this in a way that often haven’t been this season in order to get through.
Much talk centres around Aaron Ramsey, returning to his almer mater, and I really hope he starts. It’s hard to fault his first half-season at Arsenal, and strangely enough, our midfield woes have probably been to his benefit this year. In the absence of nailed-on central midfield, he’s been given the chance of his life. By and large, he has been excellent, and for a lad only just 18 to have already had 8 starts and 7 substitute appearances is testament to his ability.
Incidentally, he’s not started a Premier League game but has started 4 Champions League games. Funny how Wenger has used Europe’s most prestigious cup competition to blood his young players.
Despite our slow improvements in the league and Wenger’s protestations to the contrary, we cannot win the league this season and the Champions League, even if you are in the form of your life, gets quite random at the knockout stages, so this competition is our best shot at a trophy.
I’ll take a committed and decent performance – any repeat of last year’s cup shambles will not be tolerated.
Looking forward to this. Come on your rip-roarers…