The Arsenal goalkeeping mystery
Itâ€™s not often I quote old Shakey, mainly because Iâ€™m not the brightest bulb in the room, but here goes:
â€œIf it were done when ’tis done, then ’twere well it were done quicklyâ€.
For the goalkeeping situation to have gone on this long unresolved is really very odd if you ask me. Itâ€™s clearly now affecting Manuel Almunia, our current number one, who can no doubt see the writing on the wall.
Wenger has been understandably cagey when pressed, but one thing he hasnâ€™t done is come out in full support of any of the current keepers at the club.
But he has, presumably, known all summer we need a new keeper â€“ so whatâ€™s the hold-up? Why wait this long? With all due respect, how can it take so long to sign a 37-year-old keeper from Fulham? Is there something else cooking?
The uncertainty is doing nobody any good.
In the cold light of dayâ€¦
As I sit here two days on, I must admit my views on the opening game at Anfield have changed slightly. At the time, I was frustrated at missing a big opportunity – being ten men up for a whole half as we were – and at not hurting them anything like as much as we should have given the possession we had.
But Iâ€™m often guilty of thinking only of where Arsenal went wrong and not making enough allowances for the opposition playing well. Neither side had many chances but Liverpool did play and defend well. And anyway, since when has Anfield ever been an easy place to go? I think it was a very decent result. We do need to add more variation to our game at times, when we are struggling to get through massed defensive ranks, but the lack of Fabregas, Song, van Persie (for most of the game) and Bendtner are worth a mention.
Youâ€™re alright, Jack
Given he is 18 and was making his first ever start for his club, away at Anfield, I think Wilshere did very well. What I love about him is his ability to scan the pitch, slow things down, and make a pass, all in a split second. Heâ€™s always looking for the forward pass.
Itâ€™s completely unrealistic to expect him to morph into the finished article this soon though. Anyone remember Parlourâ€™s debut at Anfield, or how Adams was in his earlier days? They made mistakes but turned out alright, if I recall.
Blooding players like him is a long process, and one that will entail good games, bad games and a lot of patience. But itâ€™s crucial to Arsenalâ€™s future that young English players do get a chance â€“ and to Wengerâ€™s credit they are increasingly getting them – so we have to accept that it will take time for them to learn and adapt.
18 is an incredibly young age to break into a top football side.
Even at 21 a player is only still learning his trade. Is it fair to write someone like Walcott off, and to dismiss him as having no football brain, on the basis that he has been at Arsenal four years already? How much of that decision-making comes with age and experience? Injury has curtailed his career to just 75 starts in that time â€“ only 15 of which were in the last year.
What age did Song suddenly go from being a hopeless lolloping bumbler to a fine holding midfielder? When we lost badly to Man City in November 2008 in my fury I marked him (and Denilson) down as our worst midfield of all time â€“ yet he had only just turned 21.
A mere 18 months later he was named third in our player of the season poll after Cesc Fabregas and Thomas Vermaelen.
Maybe with some teams spunking cash hither and thither as if it was small change, the patient development of players is harder to do, but coupled with a sensible approach to bringing in experience, itâ€™s got to be the right approach.