Saturday, 7 December 2013

Thoughts on van Persie, Premier League shocks and WC Draw

Surprising rumours emerging that van Persie had handed in a transfer request on Tuesday, suggested by former Liverpool defender and football pundit Mark Lawrenson. I say 'surprising', because even though I expected van Persie to abandon the sinking ship, I never thought that he would submit a transfer request in the middle of season. That's just pathetic, and even though we of all people know what kind of a person he is, I never thought that he was shallow enough to leave Moyes in the middle of such a turmoil.

After all, we were in a much worse crisis in 2011, losing Cesc and Nasri and getting hammered 8-2 at Old Trafford in the same month. Yet Robin did stick with us throughout our top 4 struggles, throughout the embarrassments at Ewood park, the San Siro and throughout yet another trophyless season. Even though there was a mammoth of speculation about his contract situations, he kept his head down and pumped goals in, carrying us to 3rd place.

Of course, then he inexplicably decided to burn bridges with the Arsenal community and sent out the "Hey guys, I love you and all, but I want to leave Arsenal, but I'll always be a Gooner, you guys" statement and got transferred to Manchester United. Even though he did justify his statement by winning the league at Manchester (at least for a year), I still can't help but feel that United was certainly not his preferred destination.

I felt (and still do) that van Persie saga was poorly handled by his agents. I still think that they manipulated his mind and fooled him into thinking that sending out such a frank statement was a wise choice. His agents probably thought that an open transfer request would culminate into a bidding war from clubs from all nations, which would leave them with cutting out the best deal possible. They also might've hoped that the Arsenal support would appreciate his honesty and thank him for telling Wenger about his desire to leave in advance so that he could buy Olivier Giroud and Lukas Podolski.

Well, there certainly was no bidding war for Robin now, was there? A Juventus £9m rejected bid, a Man City enquiry turned down, and finally, a £24m agreement with Manchester United. If his agents thought that there was a shred of hope in the fact that we Gooners would respect his decision, that was probably smashed to smithereens when he stabbed us in the back by joining a title rival.

However, in the long run, things worked out pretty well for us, right? We now have an honest, dedicated bunch of talented players, and while a striker is still required, the improvement in Giroud has meant that even a backup for him would be sufficient. Elsewhere, van Persie was left betrayed by Alex Ferguson (ironic, right?) who had conveniently not mentioned the fact that he was to stay only for a year more as Manchester United manager. What's more, he was replaced by a manager who feeds him painkillers before matches and is currently overseeing an abysmal run of form. And doing nothing about it. Their loss to Newcastle means that if Arsenal win tomorrow, van Persie's side will be closer to the relegation zone than to the league leaders.
While this chaos at United is equivalent to a bundle of laughs for me, a little part of me does begin to wonder if his agents are making him take a rash choice again. Of course, I would understand Robin's side of the story if his transfer request turns out to be legitimate. [UPDATE: Moyes rejected these claims. Oh,well, what else was he supposed to say?] He's one of the best strikers in the Premier League, and he certainly does not want to be in a team that are set to not compete for the title this season. However, wasn't that the exact situation that he had going on with Arsenal? What if he does abandon United in January, only to discover that they've been transformed into a title competing side again?

My sole point is that footballers need to add a certain amount of loyalty to their decisions, and have faith that the club will work things out, at least for a period of time. And that van Persie's a shallow prick who deserves every second of misery that he is hilariously earning under a clueless manager. Of course, there is a real plausibility that Lawrenson's source turns out to be incorrect, but I think that we all can agree that van Persie is far from happy at United.

Anyway, screw him. We've got Mesut Ozil.


In other news, the World Cup draw is out, and the focus will be on Group D, a group where England, Italy and Uruguay have been paired together. I actually reckon that England can get eliminated from this group, considering that they haven't really been convincing and dominating in the WC qualifiers. Sure, I want our British core to prosper, but I just don't see that happening in 2014.

To my intense relief, France have been paired with Switzerland, Honduras and Ecuador, and should easily make it through the knockout phases. And yes, I'm a France supporter, but not because of Zidane. I've been one ever since Thierry Henry scored the winner against Brazil back in 2006, and even though I know that they are significantly weaker than they were back then, it wouldn't be classy of me to lecture on van Persie's betrayal and switch teams frequently now, would it?

If you honestly ask me, I would say that Germany are my favourites to win the World Cup. Granted, they have been placed in a tricky group consisting of Portugal and Ghana, but I'm sure that they'll make easy work of it.

According to me, they're the only team capable of toppling the dominance of Spain, a team that seem to be going a bit downhill now. Even though I support France, a huge part of that is down to loyalty (and our French core!), and while I certainly want France to win the World Cup, a part of me knows that that is not a realistic scenario. Instead, I would love it if Germany break Spain's trophy dominance, a dominance that is largely owing to negative tactics and mundane football of late.

Anyway, the World Cup is a good 6 months away, leaving plenty of time to focus on each teams' chances. Speaking of chances, Chelsea's 3-2 loss to Stoke and Man City slipping up at St. Mary's means that we now have a glorious chance to go a mammoth 7 POINTS CLEAR on the top of the table. The match against Everton has suddenly gained much more significance, and I'm finding myself praying for 3 points tomorrow.

Everton are really difficult opponents, and a victory will obviously be far from a given. However, if we do beat them, it would take a load off the coming two fixtures. If we win tomorrow and lose against City and Chelsea, we'll still be on top of the table, albeit by one slender point. It's a wonderful prospect. 

I don't care if we get it by hook or by crook, all I know is that we have been presented by a wonderful opportunity on a silver platter to get some real daylight between us and our two present title contenders. We. NEED. To. Take. it.

Come on Arsenal. The onus is on us.

-Santi (Follow me on twitter: @ArsenalBlogz )

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