Cazorla, Carzola, Cathorla, Catharsis

West Ham 1-3 Arsenal

A fine win that purged last week’s blues, proved a few points and left the ball bang in the middle of the interlull fairway ready for a crack at the green at Norwich in two weeks [Sort out this metaphor lunacy – Ed].

It doesn’t always compute that if you spend proper money you get a proper footballer (cast your eyes all over the Premier League for evidence to the contrary), but it certainly helps and there can be no disputing that our £16.5m outlay on Santi Cazorla is money well spent.

His goal, which well and truly sealed the three points of an up-one-end, down-the-other kind of game, was the sort of rip-snorter that flounders a goalie so much he doesn’t even bother diving properly. “Shall I extend my arms and pretend?” asks the man between the sticks. “Not much point”, he concludes. Just delicious stuff and the kind of goal that would grace any match.

Yesterday was no doubt a cathartic moment for one of the other prongs of the new signing trident [Did you hear me? – Ed]. Olivier Giroud has missed some gimmes – Sunderland and Chelsea at home, off the top of my head – and despite hard work and some good hold-up play, has not looked much like the kind of man who could get us 20 goals this season. So his expertly-taken goal yesterday will do him wonders (as the celebrations suggested). Started by him and finished beautifully.

When talking about selling van Persie the other day, Wenger confessed that it would always be hard to replace someone in the form of their career who scored 37 goals last season, but he had bought Podolski and Giroud and “That’s 40”. So he replaced one player who got nearly forty with two players who together got 40. A gamble but clearly he was trying to replace goals for goals and so far, I don’t think we’re doing too badly. Van Persie has flown out the blocks and has seven goals; Giroud and Podolski have six and are both still settling in.

And what about the other scorer? Walcott came on in the 61st minute (about as risqué as Wenger gets unless someone is injured) and his directness paid off – Giroud’s lovely pass set him off and his finish for the second was ice-cold. “I want to play for this club and hopefully something can happen very soon,” he said*. Lord knows what to make of that but as I have said many times, he has a lot to give and I hope he stays.

*The more I think about it the more this sounds like something he said a few weeks ago, not yesterday. Anyone see him say this yesterday?

Without looking utterly at ease – we were a Mannone misjudgement and a Nolan skew-wide short of the game potentially having a different outcome – Mertesacker and Vermaelen marshalled things well and we were good value for the three points. The goal we let in, while a lovely finish, left Ramsey a bit red-faced and I’m not quite sure what Per was trying to do by moving away from Diame but there you go. Easy to say when you’ve not got Diame bearing down on you I suppose.

All in all a good day at the office and I leave you with another talking point from Capability Mike.

I bet you ten pounds that Sagna is sold at the end of the season

Jenkinson’s been good, hasn’t he? Really good. Then again Sagna is magnificent. But how long can you keep a Jenkinson down? Yet another tricky but pleasant decision for Wenger to make.

London looks good sometimes doesn’t it? I took the photo above on the South Bank yesterday.

The Mercury is rising

A very good morning to you on a humdinger of an English summer’s day. 30c+ days are like Chamakh goals in this country – we get a few in late summer then nothing at all for the rest of the year. The new season is upon us too, which means we have one of those glorious crossovers of high summer and football. I like those a lot.

Feeding time at the transfer zoo

Quick word on those who’ve left or might: We start the new campaign without van Persie, of course, which is no real surprise. In many ways it’s better it happened before the season started and didn’t Nasri on until the end of the month. I wish he hadn’t gone where he went but as Wenger said, “We had to act, and that is what we did”.* So he has gone. Life’s too short to tie yourself up in knots about these things. He was a terrific player for us, a goalscorer par excellence, and having given eight years of service you cannot say he flitted in and flitted out like a will’o-the-wisp. The end was messy, but last season was serene. £24m represents good business.

*Note to Arsenal: Worth fixing the reasons why this keeps happening, if you can. Thanks.

You could of course apply the same ‘having to act’ financial logic to Walcott’s situation too – I can’t see us letting him run his contract down either so something will have to give there in the next two weeks. Nobody seems quite so worried about this – should we be?

Then there’s Song – that’s an interesting one. For me this came right out of the blue. We don’t need to sell him, but Wenger hardly seems to be standing in his way. If it’s an attitude thing then I’m all for this new-found Wenger ruthlessness – Song is replaceable. And despite a midfield that is in numbers well-stocked, I think Wenger would try to replace him like-for-like as we are short of fit and experienced specialist defensive midfielders.

Season’s greetings

That’s for the next week or so though – it’s going to be a hectic month. Now though, it’s all about the season’s opener and I’m genuinely excited by what promises to be a forward line with plenty of options. We have an attacking midfield and strikeforce that has the potential to be very flexible, at least in principle – players like Rosicky, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Podolski, Cazorla, even Diaby can go wide or central. Arshavin (if he stays), Walcott (in his mind anyway) are to a lesser degree not rooted to one sole role either. In Giroud we have height in the forward line – hopefully a more reliable kind of height than that offered in recent seasons by Bendtner and Chamakh.

Combine those options with a more rigorous attitude to defending and there’s plenty to be excited about. Losing van Persie is a blow to our goalscoring potential and no doubt to our esteem too, but despite the same high-profile departures that we see pretty much every year, this summer’s proactive purchasing has, for me at least, meant there are far more positives than there are negatives.

I won’t even begin to try to predict a starting eleven. That we are not able to is a promising thing, no? We have options.

Here’s to three points and the dawn of a new era.

I can’t wait.


There’s been another massive blank slot in my blogging compendium, but you’ll forgive me: I didn’t want to endure the daily pains of the transfer window, so I didn’t. Well that’s an element of it – another is the Olympics, the viewing of which I could safely win an Olympic gold in. Canoeing? I can now watch it and whoop. Judo? I’m jumping up and down and fist-pumping like a total arse. Shooting? Bullseye! I don’t know whether it’s because it’s just sport, or whether it’s because it’s in London, or whether it’s because there are 24 live channels available on all the machines I own bar my Commodore 64, but I have been bug-eyed in front of the whole ruddy lot.

I went along too, as you can see. Table tennis (the 3-year-old was on Angry Birds after about three minutes), hockey and water polo. Water polo! They are trying to drown each other and people are cheering. How can this be allowed?

The organisation has been exemplary, the volunteers bright-eyed, the buzz infectious. The only downside at the Olympic park were the prices, which made the Emirates look like a soup kitchen. Thai green curry in a box and a 330ml plastic bottle of Heineken? £12.80p. Don’t tell Gazidis.

What I’m trying to get to anyway, albeit roundaboutedly, is that I have only really had half an eye on Arsenal for the whole summer, and I can recommend it. Podolski and Giroud came in – top-notch experience, sorted early – and I nodded earnestly. Robin released his statement and I sighed sagaciously*. I thought then that the furrows of the summer were being ploughed sensibly by the club, and with today’s announcement about Cazorla – hardly a secret, but now it’s official – the cobwebs have well and truly been blown off.

This has all the marks of a superb signing and at a decent price. Pedigree – not in dispute (he was in Zonal Marking’s team of the season, which is good enough for me). He’s creative, he plays for Spain, he’s at the top of his game at 27, Pires and Cesc advised him to come and – dash it all – I’m all excited.

Frankly, if Pires advised me to jump off a cliff I’d do it, so it’s heartening to see that Cazorla is similarly deferential.

Maybe above all else though, this feels like a marquee signing, a statement of intent, and though there are bound to be twists and turns to come this summer, my overriding sensation is that Wenger means business and that whatever happens now, we are as prepared as we can be. I’m excited now in the way I never was last summer, and there’s nothing like pre-season optimism, is there? It’s brilliant news.

Right in time for the launch of the new purple away kit, to be launched by Rizzle Kicks. Purple! Rizzle! These are giddy times indeed.

*I’m not really sure what sagaciously means