Parlez-vous français, Manuel?

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What’s the state of the defence? I was asked that question on today’s round-table arsecast, in which the ‘Holic, Goodplaya, Gunnerblog and I were participating.

Overall, I think, the additions of Koscielny and Squillaci are good ones. Yes, we have lost experience in Gallas and Campbell, but Squillaci is no rookie and Koscielny, for me, has great energy and is at an age when a) he’s ready to play and b) he can still learn. We shouldn’t forget though that he needs time to settle in and should allow him some leeway as a result.

I read somewhere (wish I could find it but can’t) that since 1996 Wenger has signed 26 French players. Clearly, many of those have been staggering successes. Petit, Vieira, Henry, Pires were all world class, to name but four. We made £23m in profit from Anelka – kapow. Wiltord, Flamini, Grimandi; I’m plucking names out of thin air now, we’ve had a lot of decent players from over the channel. The success to failure ratio has been heavily weighted in Arsenal’s favour (the Guillaume ‘Willy’ Warmuz of this world have thankfully been few and far between) – France has been a fertile hunting ground.

The trend continues today, with Nasri and Diaby in the middle (Song too speaks French) and Chamakh bedding in up front. But it’s our defence where the French speakers are packed these days.

Both of our new centre-halves are French, of course, plucked from the country Wenger knows best. Our first-choice left and right-backs are French, and Vermaelen, though Flemish, is a Belgian and it must be safe to assume he parleys a bit of the français himself. Djourou is a French-speaking Swiss, Eboue is a French-speaker from the Côte d’Ivoire, leaving us just with the firmly English Kieran Gibbs, the indubitably Spanish Manuel Almunia and the unquestionably Polish Lukasz Fabianski.

So what, I hear you say? So what indeed – this is a moot point of Interlull proportions and I’m not entirely sure I know where I’m going with this myself.

Of course, on the pitch English is the lingua franca and so it should be in a polyglot side drawn from all four corners of the globe.

But when the frites are down, it must be tempting for our defence to give it both barrels in French, mustn’t it?

With this in mind, and given one of the criticisms of our number one is that he doesn’t engender the full trust of the defence ahead of him, it might be a good idea for Manuel to swot up on a bit of French invective. It would be especially useful when responding discourteously to a referee – I can’t imagine there are that many English referees fluent in French spoken with a Spanish accent.

Either that, or he could just adopt the approach to speaking French that generations of English have adopted in the past – talk slowly, and loudly… in English.

Vive la difference, Manuel – here’s to a commanding season.


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

This Post Has 16 Comments

  1. Tall Defender

    1 Garde
    2 Vieira
    3 Grimandi
    4 Petit
    5 Warmuz
    6 Anelka
    7 Henry
    8 Nasri
    9 Pires
    10 Gallas
    11 Clichy
    12 Sagna
    13 Wiltord
    14 Koscielny
    15 Chamakh (French born though plays for Morocco)
    16 Flamini
    17 Squillaci
    18 Traore
    19 Diaby
    20 Diarra
    21 Silvestre
    22 Aliadiere
    23 Diawara (French born though played for Guinea)
    24 Cygan

    Any more?

  2. East stand lower

    David Grondin a left back is another

  3. RotorGoat

    Wow, top work Tall Defender. I’ll give it some more thought.

    And good work with Grondin too.

  4. TCP_13

    Coquelin, Sunu, Evina and some others in the academy?

    Anyway, wasn’t the French-English disparaging that Ashley Cole hated the most during his time here?

    What’s the chance of similar thing to happen again?

  5. Illybongani

    Francis Coquelin

  6. RotorGoat

    I always thought the thing Ashley Cole hated most when he was here was ‘only’ being offered £55,000 a week.

  7. Govindraj Umarji

    That & the obscene & obnoxious amounts of money that he felt Henry was getting paid

  8. Tall Defender

    Yes, Grondin, Coquelin and Sunu would make it up to 27.
    I was thinking of Frenchmen who have been signed by Arsene and who have played at first team level at least once. (Yes, I know Squillaci has not played yet but I think we can say he has not been bought as a young trialist who has to prove himself in the reserves).

    Ashley Cole left because he was greedy for more money and because Jose Mourinho illegally turned his head, effectively poaching him. Had Abramovich never bought Chelsea, Cole would still be an Arsenal player IMO.

  9. Mik

    I dont get the point. The only problem is Kos doesnt speak english so until he learns may not be able to communicate with Manu effectively. However all the rest speak english so they can talk together. For me the name of the game is football and it doesnt matter where the players have come from. We are the pride of the football world considering how the club is run and our style of play but we dont really appreciate it.
    The total cost of the many french players we’ve had is no where near the cost the top 5 english player Martin O’Niel bought for Villa and is the output of these players comparable.
    Believe it or not but our ranking in world football will never be so if we had nearly all home players

  10. oparsenal

    Well done, as always, mate.

  11. Arsenal Samurai

    It seems that we never signed French goalie. Time to add Fray and Lloris to the Arsenal ranks.

  12. Phil Dash

    Warmuz was a goalkeeper….or so they say 😉

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