The Kobe Bryant syndrome

Good morning internet inhabitants.

Today while lurking around the Twittersphere, like a man standing on the brink of his restraining order perimeter, I saw some of the usual Gooner grumblings.

“this transfer window has been fucking awful”

“if we don’t make 2 more signings then this is worse than last year”

etc etc

Now clearly this level of discontent is not unusual amongst the ranks of the Arsenal, but what was slightly unusual is that I was slightly taken aback. I don’t think that this window has been that bad really. I mean obviously if you look at one incident in isolation, say (hypothetically) a man I used to love leaving for a club I have little love for, then it’s been fucking awful. But as a whole, I’m a little more positive.

This positivity may be a surprising reaction to a late night of solitude and the Smiths, so by having a look at the to’ings and fro’ings I’ll try and justify my cheer.

Alex Song is off. This was a kick in the nuts due to the nature of Mr Bilong’s rise. A typical “Wenger project” plucked from the french wilderness for a tuppence. Countless disappointments endured, only for him to leave after Arsenal have the temerity to ask him to wait until the new season for a contract extension to his contract with 3 seasons remaining. A player happy to accept a long term contract on 55k a week when he didn’t deserve it, unable to wait a couple of months for a pay rise when he did.

It’s only natural that with football it’s not long before your analysis is tangled with emotion, and as you may have guessed I’d of liked a little more loyalty. If I lay emotion to one side and look at it from a purely squad perspective, I’m not sure we’re at that much of a loss.

With Song there was always questions over his commitment and while this questioning was portrayed by Song and his “people” as a desperate bid to cover the Arsenal arses, there are many reputable sources who talk of Song dancing into the changing room at 2-0 down.

He always attempted the spectacular passes, which looked terrific on Match of the day but caused him to surrender the ball to the opposition far too often. This meant that Arsenal were always susceptible to the counter attack when he lost the ball as he was generally out of position when on his glory rambles. There is one situation which springs to mind where Arteta was injured in the build up play; Song took the ball from him, ran up to the box, tried an elaborate chip, lost the ball, stood and watched as the opposition raced past an injured Arteta to score on the counter.

Arteta was and is the real defensive linchpin in the Arsenal midfield. It’s clear from the first two games of the season that the midfield is much more solid in spite of the loss of our most physical midfielder. The loss of physicality is more than compensated for by the increased ball retention and  discipline. The loss of creativity more than compensated for with the addition of Cazorla. Cazorla also tends to defend from the front, pressing and tackling the opposition on the edge of their own box, relieving pressure on the more defensive midfielder’s and stopping potential counter attacks at source, before they can build up momentum.

The other major loss would be Mr Persie. Now clearly RVP was a supreme talent and there’s no amount of selective recollection that can change that (I’ve tried). However towards the end of his Arsenal career he was suffering from what I’m going to call “the Kobe Bryant syndrome”, the same syndrome suffered by Henry towards the end of his Arsenal career. RVP was just so much better than the other attacking players last year that all our focus was on him. If there was an attacking move then a lot of the time it would be a case of “GET THE BALL TO RVP” instead of taking time, working it into the best position and then releasing him. This massive dependence on RVP did make us incredibly predictable. All you had to do to completely nullify our attack was to have your Defensive midfielder and Centre Back double up on RVP. Who else was going to score? Now while this is hardly an awful scenario to be in, our replacements for RVP ,while possibly not a direct replacement of quality, definitely give us more options in attack. Now we’ll get goals from several sources; from Podolski, Giroud, Cazorla, The Ox, maybe even Gervinho. (At time of writing we’re a little stuck on 0 goals, but I have faith). So the team should be much more balanced and, hopefully, dangerous.

This article was not meant to be a “call for positivity from fans”. I fucking hate all that shit. If a fan is negative, he generally has reason to be, the false sense of superiority held by the eternally positive is maddening. There are lots of reasons to be annoyed about this summer.

We have had cast iron proof that regardless of how much has been done for a player by a club his loyalty is only to himself. That for all their talk, when the deal is on the table their words are a cheque which cannot be cashed.

“forget Barcelona, if I ever had to leave Arsenal I’d cry”

“I don’t have the inclination to go anywhere. This is the best team for me to be in.
“The bottom line is that I want to win trophies with Arsenal, not with anybody else. I know you can win trophies in many countries and in many ways, but I want to do that in our way and in an Arsenal shirt.
“I’m sure I could win things at another team in another country, but would it feel like our trophy, my trophy? I’m not sure it would. Anything we win here will come from the heart and that’s what I want.
“It’s my dream and I see no point in speaking about other teams when I have these dreams. I think other people know that about me; I’m just hungry to win with Arsenal and that’s it.”

We also have a major player days from being able to leave on a free transfer, so it’s not exactly a fucking lolfest down at Ashburton Grove. But I still think that .on balance. we go in to the new season stronger than we went into last season and that has to be positive.

Still, wouldn’t hurt to spend some money eh?

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