Make Do and Mend

Manchester City 4-2 Arsenal

Bit late in the day to add my tupp’orth about yesterday’s match – couldn’t get anywhere near the pooter till now. Obviously, it’s mostly about Adebayor, which is wrong, but there you go.

I only saw the stamp on Match of the Day last night. When you see it in slow motion you can understand why van Persie released the statement he did – and why Arsenal were happy to put it up. It was an intentional jab at van Persie and it was vicious. It’s so blatant that he will almost certainly get a 3-match ban. Couple that with him running 100-yards at great speed (as many have pointed out, something he didn’t do at all last season) to goad the Arsenal fans, and I’d be pretty amazed if he got away with less than five games out.

Listening to 606 last night, it seemed to me that some people were missing the point as to why he is now the undisputed, all-time villain for Arsenal fans. His greediness for a new deal was, frankly, expected – all footballers do it. His two-faced attempts to move to a new club are hardly new either – though he was more brazen than most. No, those aren’t the things that mattered most. But going through the motions was unforgivable – and he did that for most of the season. I’d say most fans can forgive most footballers for their myriad failings so long as those players give it their all. He didn’t. Anyway – he merits no more of my time.

More pressing, frankly, is how we lost again having played pretty well, why we are making so many errors and how we have already conceded eight league goals.

Mitigating factors: 3 away games from 4, post-international hangover, key injuries in creative areas, general play and movement good, unlucky not to have scored more.

But it doesn’t matter how rosy a picture you try to paint. The fact is, we’ve already lost two games we shouldn’t have, against teams that hardly ran us off the park. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a concern. Sure, they were away, and against two sides that will be competing at the upper echelons, but we’ve thrown points away, pure and simple.

Yesterday, we lacked some artistry – in many ways, it was the classic post-international match – but we also made elementary mistakes. Almunia is away with the fairies at the moment, and Clichy had a rotten game. Song should have done better for their second goal, and where was the marking for the third?

But still, it is very early doors, and far too soon to sharpen knives. Fortunately, we’re back in the saddle on Wednesday, then back to the Grove on Saturday. So no time to dwell.

How we could do with Arshavin, Walcott and Nasri back to add to the recently returned Rosicky, though. Two players on each wing – that was how it was meant to be. It’s a classic case of Wenger having to make do and mend – or should that be ‘make Diaby and Bendtner’?

Think of the options those three would have given us had they been fit.

Finally, I had an email telling me that there’s an investigative piece on BBC Radio 5live tonight – sometime between 7.30pm and 8.30pm – on the personal, political and business life of Usmanov. I’ll be listening – no idea what kind of a picture it will paint, but it should be interesting.

Phew! Pre-season is here.

So it all kicks off again, at Barnet, this afternoon.

And while the squad does contain the expected Frimpongs, Coquelins and Barazites of this world, it’s a surprisingly strong 21-man squad when you add Rosicky, Arshavin, Gallas, Vermaelen and Almunia.

How marvellous it is to see Tomas Rosicky back. By my reckoning (with a little bit of help from the worldly-wise internest), he has been absent from the pitch for roughly forty-six million, six hundred and fifty-six thousand seconds. The poor fella has had to rehabilitate for 18 long months, and his treadmill-pounding began just when the world went to the financial dogs. It must have been pretty miserable looking at the looped news on Sky on his sofa with his hamstrings all askance.

Anyway, welcome back the T.

From Tomas to Thomas – it’s a big welcome for our Belgian defender Thomas Vermaelen. As it stands, he has to battle his way to the front by displacing Toure or Gallas – though I’m sure Gallas and Toure will feel threatened too – so we could see some concentrated minds at the back as the competition for places hots up.

(Incidentally, we do have another top Gunner out there – Thomas Cruise. Who will be his wingman?)

(As if the poor lad hasn’t heard that before).

Finally, and I was rather hoping this would have gone away by now, but I am struck by how much of a PR disaster Emmanuel Adebayor is. He and his ‘people’ have managed to go about this on-off transfer so hamfistedly that, in addition to the already lukewarm Arsenal fans, I can’t imagine Man City fans are wheeling out the brass bands in anticipation of his arrival either.

It’s not as if the non-partisan football fans of the world are looking upon him through soft focus either. The press he has received – whether it is fair or entirely fabricated – does not paint him in a pretty light and his advisors have a job on their hands to turn his reputation around.

Some of it’s been pretty vitriolic. Sure, I’d like to see him sold too, but reading some of the stuff I have read online, you’d think he was the most despised Arsenal footballer of all time. Is he really?

It’s all gone sour with him now, and he needs to move on as much as we would like him to. But he’s hardly the first footballer who wants to feather his nest, nor is he the first employee to wish he worked somewhere else and let his performances dip as a result. His obscene weekly salary does not protect him against that.

What City are taking a punt on is a player who – when his mind is right – has the ability to cause havoc. A player who, even in a bad season, can score 15 goals. For their sake, I just hope he wants the challenge there enough to replicate his form of 2007-8. (Clearly, personally I’d rather he forgot how to tie his shoelaces – that would serve the Arsenal best).

For our sake, I hope he realises that there’s no way back at Arsenal and that moving to City, as his only option, is something he should grasp with both hands and get stuck into.