Two bits of news you could probably see coming
For a moment there it seemed that Cesc was gone. AC Milan had made a good offer and Arsene Wenger had acccepted it. Cesc was going to the Rossoneri with Jojo the Unicorn coming to Arsenal as a make weight plus a transfer fee of 75 everlasting gumballs and Ashley Cole’s spleen. For some reason, the deal seems to have fallen apart at the last minute and so we are stuck with Cesc for yet another campaign.
The Cesc transfer rumors have truly ranged from the sublime to the ridiculous this summer. And in almost every case, there wasn’t much credible information supporting the particular story. While the possiblity of Cesc heading off to Barcelona at some point in the future is a disctinct possibility, he has repeatedly made it clear that the time for him to move, if ever, is a long way off. So just when you think the Cesc stories have concluded for the summer, one more story decided to pop up for our amusement. And it was particularly amusing for two reasons.
First, there’s is no chance whatsoever that Cesc’s next footballing home will be in Italy. If and when he leaves Arsenal, it will be for a return to Spain. Secondly, the transfer fee was a reported 30 million Euros. That’s a nice number if you’re buying Xabi Alonso, but hardly the fee we’d expect to receive for Cesc in this market. But we dealt with this rumor yesterday and fully discussed how absurd it was. So why the mention today? Because I read something today that actually got my attention.
It’s one thing for a journalist to make up a transfer story and even some hypothetical details. That’s to be expected. But what I saw today goes beyond journalistic creativity. One story, reported orginally by Tuttosport, stated unequivocally that Arsene Wenger had agreed to sell Cesc and that personal terms were being agreed. It still seemed like rubbish, but to make that statement without caveats or qualifications is really beyond the pale. At some point, there is going to have to be some return to accountability in the media. Apparently, that time isn’t close at hand. Fortunately, Mr. Peter Hill-Wood put a quick stop to the rumors with his succinct statement that they were a fabrication. It’s what we suspected, but it was nice to have it dealt with swiftly and decisively.
Since the media are unable to convince us that Cesc is leaving, they are also trying to convince us that he’s losing faith in the Club. The headlines cry out that Cesc has declared the club to be in a difficult period. While it’s somewhat true that he said we are in a difficult period, as expected, the quote is taken completely out of context. Cesc’s entire statement, which can be read on Arsenal.com, was that the team never starts the season with the goal of achieving fourth place. He went on to say that it’s not a big deal that the club has gone a few seasons without winning a trophy because all big clubs go through dry patches or difficult periods and you could say that we are in one at the moment. Doesn’t sound so sinister after all, does it? Hard to imagine that the media would lead us to believe something different.
Unfortunately, not all the news today was fictional frivolity. It appears that Tomas Rosicky has suffered a reasonably serious hamstring injury. The projections are for a six week absence and I’ve yet to read anywhere whether it’s a setback in his recovery or merely the kind of exertion injury that’s to be expected after a long absence. We must remember, that as good as Eduardo looks at the moment, he had a stop-start return to the team late last season. After a long injury absence, minor problems are to be expected. Arsene himself pointed out just a few days ago that Rosicky is not out of the woods yet. But if this turns out to be related to the initial injury, then it could be a very foreboding sign for the player’s future.
Now before we all get too emotional about the injury, I should point out that at the time of writing this post, the news is still extremely unsubstantiated. The story seems credible solely because of it’s subject matter, but it has not been corroborated by the club. Let’s not forget that just a few days ago, Eduardo was reported to be injured and we learned that no such injury existed. So fingers crossed that the story turns out to be more internet-based rubbish intended to give certain websites a few more hits. If not, it’s another tough break for a player we could really use in the squad.
By tomorrow, we’ll know who we face in the Champions League playoffs and it will be one of the more nerve-wracking Champions League draws. Right now, these are the teams we can face:
Fiorentina, Atletico Madrid, Celtic, Anderlecht, Timisoara
It’s a tasty list. See anything you like? Yeah, I see “Timisoara” too. And we have a 20% chance of drawing them. But because we’re an English team in Platini’s tournament, we can kiss that chance goodbye. All kidding aside for a moment, facing Fiorentina or Athletico Madrid would be somewhat terrifying this early in the season. On the bright side, we would have a league game under our belts while they would still be fine-tuning in pre-season. Celtic and Anderlecht are not the usual pushovers but we’d take them over the previous too. Timisoara would be the prize.
And we owe Timisoara a HUGE thank you. I don’t want to bore you to sleep any more than usual but you must consider this series of events. Timisoara managed to draw 2-2 away to Shakhtar Donetsk to win their qualifier on away goals. Donetsk was one of the teams we COULDN’T face in the playoff. That means that if Shakhtar has beaten Timisoara, not only would we have been unable to face Timisoara, but Stuttgart would have come into our draw based on coefficients. It’s confusing, but think of what tiny Timisoara really did for us. They brought a minnow into our draw AND kicked a powerful German team out of our side of the draw at the same time. There’d be no better way to repay them than a 12-0 aggregate beatdown in the playoff.
So that’s the new for today. For a better understanding of the Champions League draw, just check in with Arsenal.com later for an update. One other thing I want to add. For some reason today I became convinced that we were going to make a massive signing before the start of the season. I still think that Chamakh and Hangeland could come into the team. But I think someone big is coming. I wouldn’t be surprised if that player is Di Rossi. Aquilani went easily to Liverpool and Roma are in serious financial trouble. If there’s any truth to the Di Rossi rumors, I’m inclined to think it could happen. Now I want to make it clear that I have absolutely no reason for believing this. This is purely the work of my imagination. But if I believe it hard enough, maybe that will help.
See you tomorrow.