Morning to you all. As you can tell by the deafening silence surrounding all things Arsenal, we’re currently in the thick of the international break. No new developments have arisen from any national team camp, and I’m sure each respective organization wants to keep it that way. Since there really is very little to talk about, let’s take an opportunity to look at what we’ve all skimmed over these past few days.
In an interview with Italian publication TuttoSport concerning Nicklas Bendtner, Arsène was asked a rather blunt question, and I think he handled it rather well.
Q: “If he’s so good, why haven’t you kept him?”
A: “I am convinced that at a team like Juventus, in a very difficult league like yours, especially for the attackers, he can make the final leap in quality. I believe this. We have not sold him, only loaned him, and next year we’ll bring him home.
Q: “Last year he was on loan at Sunderland, he doesn’t seem ready to ‘explode’?”
A: “Do not forget that he is a boy of 24 and therefore the right age to prove who he is. The talent is not missing; otherwise I would not have bought him from Copenhagen when he was just 16 years old.”
For me, that answer brings out everything wrong with this deal. It’s fairly obvious that at some point over the last two seasons, the relationship between Bendtner and club unraveled, and he didn’t want to play for the club anymore. Arsène still saw the potential in him, and in turn loaned him out to let him cool off and continue playing in the hopes that he would return willing to play. Not so. Instead, after a good performance in the Euros, Bendtner capitalized on the opportunity to launch himself into a better club than Sunderland on loan, in Juventus. It was late, and yes it was great, but the self-proclaimed “Greatest Striker In the World” had sealed his move to the Old Lady with very little time to go on the last day of the transfer window. It turns out that so far his transfer is good business for neither team, as we look at Chamakh being our only backup striker when Podolski and Giroud start in tandem, and Juventus have an overweight, overpaid player that they’ve yet to use. So instead of Bendtner getting the chance to play right away, he’s stuck drinking lentil soup and going on 40 minute runs every two hours in order to get into some kind of shape before he puts on a kit.
Back to Wenger’s quote, specifically about bringing him home: what makes him think that sending him out to the Italian champions will make him want to continue playing with Arsenal at the moment? It doesn’t add up at all, which is why I think he’s simply playing his cards close to the chest, because I doubt we’ll see Bendtner play another 30 games in an Arsenal shirt. His heart and commitment isn’t with the team, so it’s best to say our parting graces and move on, which seems to be the plan underneath it all. Nicklas still has a two-year contract to see out, so maybe it’s quotes like these that will either instill some confidence in him, or tell other teams sniffing around that he’s not for sale as of yet. Either way, Arsène’s got it wrong this time. We’ve gotten rid of the wrong striker, and everybody knows it.
On to more relevant players, we see recently that Francis Coquelin is a player who isn’t happy sitting on the sidelines, and issues like this are always two-sided coins. On one hand it’s great that a player as talented as Coquelin is in the squad, constantly making Abou Diaby and even Mikel Arteta look over their shoulders, to a certain extent. Competition brings out the best in our team, but it often leaves a man out in the cold once someone wins out indefinitely, ask Marouane Chamakh.
“I am 21-years-old, I know I cannot be patient any more. This year is the right season to make a name for myself at Arsenal.”
“I have given myself six months and then I will take stock. If I see it is blocked, I will go somewhere else. But for now I know I have the qualities to make a name for myself at Arsenal.”
By “go somewhere else” I’m 90% sure Coquelin is talking about a loan move, which is a step backward for me. Defensively inclined, technically astute midfielders are hard to come by, and I hope Wenger realizes this. I really doubt someone like Scott Parker could dribble his way past two men with the grace of our two Frenchmen, let alone play right back or add much to the team offensively. We’ve got two purebred midfielders who are multi-talented, so I hope they aren’t wasted. It seems Coquelin wouldn’t be used to replace Diaby, but compliment him at the expense of Mikel Arteta. It wouldn’t be a drastic change either, as Coquelin has always been disciplined at the back, and not too shabby going forward. He’s an option that hasn’t been used nearly enough, so I hope we can see him make at least 10 starts this year, alongside gaining experience in the Capital One and FA Cup respectively.
As I said yesterday, our squad looks a group who take nothing for granted, and rely on no one. If their ambitions match their claims, we’re in for a good season, Mistakes have been made, but I’m confident in our current crop of players to get the job done.