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.