Like Arsenal’s season, my blogging has tailed off.
I did catch most of yesterday’s 0-0 with Man Utd, a better than average goalless draw that we bossed without really threatening to win.
As has been pointed out most vocally by Wenger himself, one of the unexpected side effects of what has been a disappointing season is the barracking from the home crowd. I understand where it comes from. It’s a bubbling and building frustration at the struggles of the team this season, made worse by the fact many of us saw it coming. Three players have taken much of the stick – so what does the future hold for them?
Whether dropping Adebayor on Saturday was telling, we shall see. It does feel that way, though. In this season of fan/player turbulence, Adebayor has taken his share of criticism for appearing lackadaisical, and for never having shaken off last summer’s dalliances. If he took one step forward last season, I think we can all agree he’s taken two steps back this term. Part of that may be down to injuries, part down to playing alone up front, and part by being in a team short of confidence, but there’s a lot more to it than that. He’s just not the player he was and he’s not got the same attitude he had.
I don’t have a problem with offloading him if we have a replacement lined up, but whatever you think of him, to lose a player who has scored 16 goals in a bad season – and is capable of 30 in a good one – would require someone of equivalent goalscoring calibre to come in.
So that has to be taken into account before we all jump in our cars, drive Adebayor to the airport ourselves and bid him farewell with a laminated copy of the offside rule as a parting gift.
Verdict: Going – but we need to replace him
It’s instructive that the other striker who has been roundly booed at stages this season – Nicklas Bendtner – has managed to turn things around from a PR perspective. It’s purely effort; where he has chased and harried, Adebayor has not. Even being caught parading his Calvins did him no harm at all. He’s still got a lot to prove but he’s our third highest scorer this season despite some iffy performances, he’s young and he’s one we shouldn’t be letting go in my view.
That leaves us with Eboue, the booee extraordinaire. Since that explosive game against Wigan when he performed his stand-up comedy routine that led to him, as a sub, being himself substituted, he too has turned things round to a degree. Partly because many fans felt they had gone too far, and partly thanks to a trio of goals in two games, but mostly because he upped his workrate, he became an unlikely cult hero who went for a while under the moniker ‘Goal Machine’.
Since then, he’s dropped out the side a bit more and reverted to the role he fits best: utility sub. He’s not a first choice right-winger and he’s not a first-choice right-back, but he’s an experienced jack-of-all-trades who is worth having as a squad player if he is prepared to be one.
Verdict: Scope to stay if he accepts a reduced role
Overall, I think there will be fewer departures than we might imagine. Our squad is not big enough to ditch players without a replacement coming in, so to sweep out 4 or 5 players and still strengthen the squad, you’re looking at Wenger purchasing 6 or 7 players and bedding them all in. I just can’t see that level of activity happening.
As for the booing – well that’s easily remedied if you ask me. Start the season strengthened, and with a squad that has a fighting chance of competing, and all will be well.