As far as I was concerned Robin Van Persie was dead to me, from the moment he came over to bid us all adieu, at the conclusion of last season’s campaign at the Hawthornes. Mercifully London 2012 proved sufficient a distraction to ensure that I managed to avoid the endless deluge of funeral notices in the media and at the end of the day, I’m just gutted he chose to be interred at Old Trafford.
I’ll be booing Robin as vociferously as the next Gooner, but only because of the Dutchman’s sacrilegious decision to dance with the Red Devils. If I’m honest, if Fergie is foolish enough to spunk up £22.5 million for an injury-prone 29 year old striker, who’s likely to spend more time preening on the treatment-table, than earning his obscene amount of corn on the pitch, it’s hardly bad business.
And putting myself in Van Persie’s boots, can I seriously blame the man for choosing to pocket the best part of £50 million over the course of his Utd contract, whilst discharging himself of the burden of his “big-fish” responsibilities at the Arsenal; where, as captain, he was tasked with singlehandedly keeping the club afloat.
At least “once bitten, twice shy’ Wenger acted more promptly in this instance, to provide us with alternative striking options. We’ll have to wait and see how these work out, but potentially more disconcerting is the alleged imminent departure of Alex Song to Barca, since we’re not exactly overly blessed with obvious replacements in the holding role. Although perhaps this position won’t prove quite so crucial in the future?
With Stevie Bould having learned his trade at the Don Howe school of regimented discipline, hopefully his stern demeanour on the touchlines (the worse they perform, "da meaner" he gets - compared to the benign presence of Uncle Pat Rice) will prove to be just what the doctor ordered for plugging the holes in our positively porous defence. Besides which, Nuri Sahin, or A.N Other just might end up being an upgrade, with Song being so prone to occasional bouts of Dennis Bergkamp delusions and forgetting his primary function.
I must admit that up until last weekend, I wasn’t feeling particularly optimistic, with our most bankable star already spinning out the revolving door, merely waiting for it to stop at a specific exit, all sorts of worrying rumours about the ongoing fitness problems of our most talented prodigy, Jack Wilshere and umpteen million pounds worth of dead-weight wasters such as Bendtner and Arshavin, still stinking up the place, like the repercussions from last night’s curry.
Podolski hardly had me bristling with anticipation following his anonymity in the Euros. Besides, the fact that Lukas departed Bayern to return to the relative security of his home-town team doesn’t exactly scream the winning mentality of a player who’s desperate to leave their mark. While Giroud may have notched plenty of goals for Montpelier last season, but the fact that he wasn’t deserving of a starting place in a not overly prolific French side during the summer, wasn’t particularly encouraging.
I happened to do the letters page for the latest edition of the Gooner fanzine that Saturday and I was seriously struggling to inject a hint of optimism in my comments on all the gloom and doom correspondence. However by Sunday afternoon I was pulling the editor’s leg, asking if I could redo them. I admit it was only a friendly against Cologne and I almost managed to forget that this match was being shown on the box, with all the other sporting hoop-la on the last day of the Olympics.
Yet having thankfully been sent a reminder, I tuned into a first-half performance from the likes of Giroud, Podolski and Cazorla which suddenly renewed my appetite. Who knows if Arsène’s new signings can cut the Premiership mustard, but their efforts to do so are certainly likely to make far more interesting viewing than the same old, same old, downer diet that we’ve endured at the commencement of these past few campaigns.
The Arsenal’s most obvious failing last season was the lack of depth to our squad, which deprived us of the calibre of player necessary to play to Arsène’s tikki-takka philosophy because this entertaining brand of football simply isn’t possible without sufficient players with the necessary composure to retain possession.
In this respect, Cazorla looks very promising and if Giroud, “le buteur de charme”, can work the sort of magic that I witnessed against Cologne, Van Persie’s wake will be very brief.