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Finally, Walcott Extends his Contract. Cazorla Too

Theo Walcott and Santi Cazorla

I don’t know if this is the right way to go about this, but it’s worth a try.

Picture Arsenal Football Club as a rich bloke that set his eyes on a very young girl called Walcott. He obviously likes what he sees but she’s really young with her best years ahead of her, so he takes her under his care and caters for her as she grows. He sees her doing so well in the world and she’s getting more beautiful by the minute, and he starts to get some feelings, and he wants ‘some’. Then, she gives him.

He wants it after another four years, and she gives him again. He comes around the block for some of that good stuff but she tells him to ‘hold on’, and suddenly he thinks she’s not going to give him anymore. He starts panicking and making all sorts of assumptions and even ponders giving her to another. Now, she has given him what he wanted and he’d have to wait for another four years.

****

According to the official website, Theo Walcott and Santi Cazorla have extended their contracts with the club. Both players have been instrumental to the club in different capacities and while Walcott has been around for as long as I can remember (now the club’s longest serving player), Cazorla joined from SC Malaga in the start of the 2012/13 campaign and his magnificent performances won him the Arsenal Player of the Season award. He continued his great form into the 2013/14 season and last season, his role in the team changed.

With Cazorla turning 30, a few thought that the Gunners would cash in on him – especially with Atletico Madrid on the prowl but the club has signaled their desire to remain with the player and I’m happy he’s going to be around for a long while. He’s a fantastic player and his influence has risen in the club, as he’s currently the third in command behind Mikel Arteta and Per Mertesacker.

As for Walcott, it’s an issue I’ve touched on in the past and I’m happy that we can finally concentrate on the activities on the pitch, rather than the shenanigans off it. From what I’ve heard, Walcott is now among the club’s highest earners and I hope he does his bit to justify that huge pay. With the likes of Aaron Ramsey and the Ox playing on the right wing and Olivier Giroud and Danny Welbeck playing through the middle, it’s going to be very interesting to see how Wenger manages Walcott this season.

That’s Wenger’s headache though and I’m happy he will be having such selection problems. The squad is really huge and Wenger would have to manage them effectively in his bid to challenge for all fronts this season.

Wishing Walcott and Cazorla the very best in the 2015/16 campaign.

Sayonara

 

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Why is Walcott Wasting Time to Sign Da Ting?

Goalscorer Walcott wheels away in celebration as as the fans in the background celebrate his winner as Arsenal see off Everton 

 

So I’m back at work, suffering for a little dose of post-public holiday hangover (the feeling of being in holiday mode when you’re meant to be mentally ready for work) but it would pass. When you have the large amount of pending emails I’m seeing this morning, you’d know that a lot can happen at work between Thursday last week and today, because I spent Friday last week, Saturday, Sunday and yesterday playing the Witcher III on my PS4.

With plans ongoing for the forthcoming Emirates Cup, Arsene Wenger would want to ensure that his squad is a tight-knit bunch and he wouldn’t want any ‘unhappy ‘ players in the squad. It’s a long season ahead of us and Wenger would want to secure the futures of some of the players with contracts that are reaching their end.

From the best of my knowledge, signing a contract is meant to be a pretty much straightforward thing. On one end is the club representatives, telling the player and his agent the terms of the new contract, the number of years and of course, the weekly salary figure. Some clubs even go as far as adding clauses (that usually proves beneficial or troubling in the near future). The player and his agent read the terms, iron a few things out before the player puts pen to paper and bob’s your uncle. Maybe it’s a bit more complicated than I feel it is but when a contract situation becomes protracted it becomes a niggling issue that’s no different from a thorn in a flesh.

Look at young lads like Francis Coquelin and Hector Bellerin that recently extended their contracts with the club. At the start of last season, it seemed unlikely that they were going to make their breakthroughs at the club. Even Arsene Wenger has acknowledged several times that he didn’t envisage that these lads would have exceeded all his expectations. Both players had stroke of luck on their side and latched onto the opportunities that were afforded to them by putting up great performances on the pitch and the club deemed it fit to tie their futures to long term deals – which of course, they signed without batting an eyelid. No issues, no problems, just signing a good ol’ contract and they did.

Enter Theo Walcott – Arsenal’s longest serving player with Abou Diaby leaving the club a few weeks ago. In 302 games for Arsenal, Walcott has scored 76 goals with half a century coming in the Premier League. The club has groomed a relatively raw young talent from Southampton and improved him drastically. I’d say that Walcott isn’t a finished product just yet, as there are some aspects of his game that needs improvement but he’s a player that gives you that unpredictably and edge in a game, especially when the chips are down.

He did well to nail a first team berth in the squad but he suffered that ACL injury that sidelined him for a very long time. His return to the club saw him score a couple of goals but Wenger ‘froze him out’ of the first team for the ending months of last season before giving him rare starts against West Brom in the final league game and Aston Villa in the FA Cup final and he gave his manager something to think when he scored four goals in two games.

This season, Walcott began with a bang as his scored with literally his first attempt on goal in Arsenal’s 3-1 victory over Everton in the Barclays Asia Trophy final. He started on the right flank but drifted into a center forward position to score after anticipating Santi Cazorla’s brilliant overhead through ball. With that effort, Walcott is doing his bit to become indispensable to the team but he’s running into the final months of his contract and he has to sign da ting if he wants to remain at Arsenal.

A player with one year on his contract puts a club in a rather precarious situation in regard to his future and in most cases, drastic decisions are made. Will the club cash in on him and make 20m+ for his services, or will the club play hardball with him and let him on Bosman? Decisions. Decisions.

When he was asked his contract situation, Walcott seemed to be ‘relaxed’ about it,

“I enjoy playing for this club, so I am just letting them crack on with things and I’ll continue playing football.

“We’ll just play the waiting game and see what happens but I’m sure it won’t be long. This squad, for me, is one of the best I’ve been involved in. I want to be part of that.”

This so-called waiting game can take longer than expected but it’s really tiring, bearing in mind that Walcott put the club in the same situation in the 2012/13 campaign. The Guardian is reporting that he’s hoping for a pay rise to match his peers but I don’t know if it would be up to the £140,000-a-week deal the club pays Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez.

It’s also worth noting that Walcott has suffered a lot of injuries in his Arsenal career and this statistical breakdown by the folks at Paddy Power gives an extensive overview of Abou Diaby Walcott’s injury problems.

I hope Walcott signs da ting though. He’s a good asset to the team.

Sayonara.

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What Should We Expect from Arsenal’s English Players this Season?

Will they finally break into the first team setup?

February 14, 2005.

Arsenal is set to play Crystal Palace in Highbury and the squad comes out of the tunnel led by the iconic and talismanic captain, Patrick Vieira. Behind Vieira, I see the mad Jens Lehmann. In no particular order, the lineup had Gael Clichy, Pascal Cygan, Lauren Etame-Mayer, Kolo Toure, Edu, Robert Pires, Jose Antonio Reyes, Dennis Bergkamp and Thierry Henry. Back then, you could have only five players on the bench and the dugout comprised of Manuel Almunia, Philippe Senderos, Cesc Fabregas, Mathieu Flamini and Robin van Persie.

Goals from Bergkamp (32′), Reyes (35′), Henry (39′), Vieira (54′) and Henry (77′) helped the Gunners to a resounding 5-1 victory but the game will be forever remember as the match Arsene Wenger selected an entire squad full of foreigners and pundits wondered if the Gunners were going to produce any English talent for the forthcoming World Cup in Germany. Sven-Goran Eriksson went on to invite three Gunners in Ashley Cole, Sol Campbell and a young Theo Walcott.

Fast forward to July 2015 and Arsene Wenger has a squad filled up with foreign talent as well as some great English players. Arsenal currently has seven “first-team” English players in Kieran Gibbs, Jack Wilshere, Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Calum Chambers, Danny Welbeck and Carl Jenkinson.

Are any of these players the first name you’d see in the first team if Arsene Wenger chooses a squad when everybody is fit? I don’t think so.

It didn’t use to be like this in the past you know? Kieran Gibbs was the heir to Clichy’s throne after he departed to Manchester City but a combination of poor form and his niggling fitness issues paved the way for Nacho Monreal and the Spaniard never looked back. Jack Wilshere’s performances in the 2010/11 campaign were so awesome to the extent he even won the PFA Young Player of the Year award but he couldn’t build on it because he has had a career that has been blighted so badly by injuries. Theo Walcott was Wenger’s first choice on the right wing and he scored a lot of goals for the team but after suffering that ACL injury, he found it difficult to break into the team. The Ox had an extensive run-out this season but injuries halted his progress, Chambers had a great start to the season but poor form saw him lose his place to Hector Bellerin, Welbeck provided a stop-gap option in the wake of Giroud’s injury but he wasn’t a long-term solution and Jenkinson, well, was shipped out on loan because of the new acquisitions.

All the English contingent have their own stories but as it stands, the only way they could feature in the team is when the manager decides to rotate and staunch Arsenal fans know that Wenger doesn’t rotate that much. He’s certainly no rotation god like Rafa Benitez.

So what should we expect from Arsenal’s English contingent this season?

Gibbs should do better this season in challenging Monreal for the left back berth and I really hope he manages to stay fit. Injuries have been a bane to the fullback in his Arsenal career and he still needs to work on his positioning, something Monreal is very excellent at doing. He also needs to work on his output in the final third, because he really struggled to put in quality crosses or key passes when he was clean through on goal.

I consider this campaign a ‘make or break’ one for Jack Wilshere. There’s so much potential for everyone to see but what’s the point of having an asset when it’s more like a liability. Wilshere’s needs to work on giving out the ball in the right time because he has been on the end on some pretty nasty impact challenges due to mistimed tackles from defenders trying to win the ball back. I expect him to feature in the box-to-box role and he has to do his very best when he gets a chance because Santi Cazorla and Aaron Ramsey are ahead of him in the pecking order.

Theo Walcott has to sign a new contract with the club to show his commitment because I don’t think Arsenal needs to go through the drama they did when the club tried to tie him down to a long term contract. On the pitch, he scored four goals in two games he featured as a center forward and he offers Arsenal a different dynamism in attack. It’s going to be interesting to see how Wenger manages the Walcott and Giroud conundrum but if the manager has plans for Theo, I don’t expect to see any addition in this position.

As for the Ox, he needs to improve on his ‘numbers’. I love his directness and ability to take on defenders but the issue I have with the Ox is that he doesn’t rake in the goals and assists on a consistent basis. He’s a player with a lot of potential and he has had his injury worries in the past as well, but he has to do his bit to stay fit and give his manager something to think about.

Calum Chambers had a blistering start to his Arsenal career but he’s way down the pecking order in the right back and center back departments. I expect to see more of the lad in the domestic cup competitions and I hope he latches onto the opportunities he’d get because I don’t expect them to be much.

Welbeck is one lad I have high hopes for but in all honesty he didn’t really prove to me that he has what he takes to lead the line for a club like Arsenal. He needs to improve on his finishing and composure in front of goal. He has age on his side so there’s enough room for improvement opportunities.

Finally, Jenkinson will have to keep doing his thing while he’s out on loan.

I have very high hopes for Arsenal’s English players this season. Let’s just hope they can get the job done.

Sayonara.

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