Licking the Wounds Caused by van Persie’s Exit
For those who don’t know, Arsenal has been in this “precarious” situation times without number. Thierry Henry is a name that is echoed with pride due to his exploits in and off the pitch but doomsday was prophesied on Arsenal when he left to Barcelona in 2008.
The season after Henry’s exit turned out to be Arsene Wenger’s best campaign since winning the league impressively in 2004. That unknown lanky forward snapped from Monaco slammed in 30 goals and there were stellar performances from Arsenal’s fantastic quartet in midfield: Cesc Fabregas, Mathieu Flamini, Aliaksandr Hleb and Tomas Rosciky. In the aforementioned list, the first name joined his hometown club, the second departed for the greens, the third’s exit what somewhat mysterious but the last name on this list signed a contract extension (despite concrete offers elsewhere) because he felt “indebted” to Arsenal.
Sadly enough, 83 points wasn’t good enough to win the league for Arsene Wenger’s army but they came close to Champions League glory in the 2008/09 campaign with an inch-perfect spotless record at the Emirates before the semifinal thrashing against You-Know-Who.
Galatasaray, FC Porto and Dynamo Kiev failed to score at the Emirates in the group stages. AS Roma and Villarreal couldn’t score as well in subsequent elimination rounds but the memories of Kieran Gibbs slip to allow Park Ji-Sung score are still as fresh as if it was played last week. Cristiano Ronaldo’s free kick from Planet Venus was very shameful and the final counter attack was the nail in Arsenal’s Champions League coffin.
If my memory serves me right, Darren Fletcher earned himself a red and a penalty was awarded to Arsenal. Robin van Persie stepped up, sent van der Save the wrong way, grabbed the ball, went to the centre circle and slammed the ball hard to the ground. That act of rage painted a picture vividly revealing how another potential trophy had slipped past Arsenal yet again.
Fast forward two years to February 2011, just before the Carling Cup final against Birmingham City. The stage was set to take that trophy drought monkey off Arsenal’s back as they faced off against a team they had gazumped home and away in the league. Van Persie went on to give emotional speech of how he wanted to win a trophy so badly with Arsenal, acknowledging the fact that he could win it elsewhere, but it won’t be our trophy, his trophy.
We all know how that night at Wembley fared. If I didn’t have a great threshold for concealing pain, a guy in mid-20’s would have been seen shedding tears like a kid whose ice cream just fell to the ground.
Move forward to 4th July, 2012. American Gooners were celebrating the independence of their great nation but their smiles turned upside down with his poorly-timed statement. After a month of countless speculation, van Persie has joined Arsenal’s eternal rivals, Manchester United. Goal.com has revealed his bumper contract details that sums up to a whooping £73m in four years.
“It’s never great to lose players of that quality, but he only had a year on his contract so we do not have a choice,”
These are the words of a man hugely respected for his dedication to the sport but he can’t come out confidently and tell us that “he didn’t have a choice”. There was the option of giving van Persie a better offer than the £130,000 put on the table, there was the option of telling Manchester United to go and f*ck themselves…literally speaking and there was the option of letting van Persie see out his contract.
All these options are irrelevant right now.
Despite the exit of an exemplary leader (on the pitch at least), the Arsenal camp is in high spirits and Thomas Vermaelen is expected to be named as the next Arsenal captain pretty soon.
Defenders are always great choices for the captaincy and I see some Tony Adam-esque traits in the Verminator. Like Adams, he didn’t waste time before writing “xoxo” on the contract he was offered last season. Verm is a coordinated, aggressive and vocal individual that can instill confidence and rub off his influence on his teammates. Let’s not forget that he has a penchant for making forays forward to contribute to his team’s attack.
Vermaelen has stated that he was very disappointed to see van Persie seek greener pastures elsewhere,
“I am disappointed because I wanted him to stay at the club, he was fantastic for us in the last year, scored lots of goals and I am disappointed he is going, but we have to focus on the next season with Arsenal.
“We have to fight and I am confident we have a squad to win something.”
Vermaelen also stated that he’s exit will not wreck Arsenal, as those doomsday sayers believe it will.
Like Vermaelen, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has been on the news as well, labeling how things are going well with the lads despite van Persie’s exit,
“In training I’m seeing the likes of Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud, and then we have Gervinho and Theo Walcott too, so it’s looking really good. That brings strong and healthy competition, which can only push us on to do well.
“But we also have a good time and we’re all friends – we’re together as one and looking to achieve the same goal at the end of the season. We all push ourselves to do better and that can only be a good thing.
“We are all fixed on success, everybody is pushing as hard as we can and we all know what our aims and goals are. We have had meetings about how we are going to achieve it and every little detail – physical, psychological – we are looking at. It is looking really positive for us.”
On the bright side, this squad is united and everybody present in the club wants to be at the club, with probably the exception of Alex Song that may soon back his bags and zoom off to Planet Catalonia.
Should Song decide to leave Arsenal, action must be taken swiftly to get a new defensive midfielder, and Arsenal has been linked with a move for Anderlecht’s Lucas Biglia. Not replacing an important midfield engine room cog like Song will be disastrous to Arsenal’s campaign this season.
Amidst all the transfer shenanigans, football will do the talking tomorrow as Arsenal kicks off its Premier League campaign against Sunderland, and a win will go a long way in dousing those van Persie’s backlash flames.
The fans have licked their wounds from van Persie’s exit and the players has follow suit.
Here’s to a great game tomorrow.
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