Well, hello and welcome to the new home of Leper’s Messiahs.  It’s been nearly a week since the shift from the old digs over at OleOle and whilst a week of relaxing in the temporarily exclusive residence on Online Arsenal has been all well and good, the time has clearly come to myself into gear and sort out the new gaff.

Much like when you move house, it’s still a bit of stuff everywhere waiting to be sorted out.  Cutlery needs to be found in whatever crate its lurking in at the back of the van and for the next week or so we may be eating our dinner off of an upturned cardboard box instead of a table but nonetheless, here we are and very nice it is too.  Well so much as I can say that having written all of 140 or so words so far (although, WordPress has a little gadget that tells me this, which I think I’m going to enjoy).

As I was saying yesterday over on OA, apart from the technical issues that OleOle occasionally presented, the time has simply come for something a bit different on the blog and hopefully this will be the place to make it happen.  Of course I suppose there is every chance you’re reading this on OA, in which case at the risk of being a bit spammy, come check it out.

So with this being my inaugural appearance in the new gaff, I thought I’d hold off until this afternoon partly so I could tinker around with settings and such (before coming up with the shockingly original red and white scheme and the same picture I used for a header on OleOle!) but also because Arsene Wenger’s press conference was due to take place earlier ahead of Arsenal’s trip to Liverpool tomorrow, and therefore there was likely to be some news worthy of discussion.

I suppose if we’re starting anywhere it may as well be with Arsene’s comments regarding the departure of Andrei Arshavin’s move to Zenit St Petersburg on loan.  A week or so on from the strangest piece of transfer business most of us can remember the club doing and I still can’t really make sense of it.  I mean, I know his form and his attitude have been poor, but I struggle with the logic of letting him go at absolutely no benefit to ourselves whatsoever.  I know Zenit have paid a decent upfront fee for what is essentially a short term loan and that this should pave the way for a badly needed permanent transfer but that being so, why could this not have been arranged in January when Arsenal might have used the freed up squad space and wages to bring in some kind of replacement or other reinforcement.  Well, the manager explains it thus according to Arseblog News:

“I just felt he needed to play. When you are 30 and you do not play regularly, you drop your form and when you come on every time you have to produce something special.

“At that age it is very difficult. I felt he just needed a bit of confidence to play again.”

The manager hasn’t said anything that’s not true I suppose, the games he gets for Zenit should help him sort out his form a bit but that’s not really going to do us any good because we’re almost certainly going to sell him in the summer.  In the meantime we’ve let a player go that despite all his flaws very occasionally wins us a point or two as he did at Sunderland less than a month ago.  It just seems very odd to me.  On the positive side, other players now have a chance to step in and make a difference in his place such as Gervinho, Benayoun or indeed the darling of the fans (which isn’t meant as a criticism) Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Elsewhere in the squad and the news is a bit clouded on the injury situation ahead of tomorrow’s rather important game against Liverpool.  Arseblog News reports that despite the positive outlook given by Arsenal’s official website the manager has concerns over the fitness of Robin Van Persie, Thomas Vermaelen and Tomas Rosicky, although there is some sort of blue moon in the sky as Abou Diaby is fit to play.  Nonetheless those three names are a problem.  Rosicky, according to the manager will probably make it but in losing Vermaelen and Van Persie (potentially) our side suffers badly in terms of quality that we need on the pitch.  It’s a tremendous frustration that both of those players were known to have knocks in the build up to international friendlies this week and both were risked by their countries.

Now, international friendlies are ridiculous (something the manager has talked about today in his conference) and countries often unnecessarily risk big players in them but I find it strange now with Euro 2012 more or less around the corner that they are still at it.  If you aggravate a player’s injury now it’s conceivably that you risk their availability in June for the tournament.  It seems to be asking too much to ask international teams to keep the interests of the clubs that pay these players wages in mind, but I would have thought they could be relied on to look after their own interests.  What help is it to Holland in Van Persie misses games and has his form interrupted just before such a big tournament?  Admittedly I didn’t notice if Belgium qualified or not for Euro 2012 but they certainly knew Vermaelen was less than 100% fit this week, why take the chance?

Arsene also spoke about a subject that in my opinion receives far too little attention but has been in the news just lately due to the difficulties of Portsmouth and Rangers, and that is of course the financial health of the game.  Speaking of the need for just a bit of common sense, Arsene said,

“There is a big, big urgent call in our job for good management and big control of the quality of the management,”

“Football cannot be immune because the whole of society suffers. Those who could get sometimes comprehensive attitudes from the banks before will not get them anymore. 

“I believe that it’s sad to see a club like Rangers being in the situation they are in today. A club of that size, of that support, to be basically in danger of disappearing, it is amazing.”

And it is amazing that such a situation could happen, and it’s a symptom of larger problems in the game.  I remember years ago, before the world’s economy took a sharp nosedive people used to say that the financial situation in football was not sustainable and that the bubble would burst one day.  And the thing is I don’t think that it’s a hypothetical possibility, I think that the bubble has indeed burst.  But still, reckless spending continues and short-sightedness from poor management (and I’m not just talking club managers) as well as irresponsible lending to clubs has put some teams on the brink of extinction.  Big clubs in tens and hundreds of millions in debt,  other clubs unsure as to whether they’ll be able to finish their season, and still the appetite for spending money that nobody has is insatiable.

Whatever else you can say about Arsenal, our club is one of the few that has been responsible, one of the few that is unlikely to see a situation like the Rangers one as long as we keep going as we are.  But what use is it to us if everyone else is falling apart?  It’s everyone’s job – every club, every league, and indeed every association to work to get clubs on a footing where these situations don’t have to be a fact of life, where clubs are not in danger of extinction.  I suppose it would help if the world governing body of football itself wasn’t a corrupt and financially reckless institution but there you go.

Anyway, tomorrow there’s quite a big game on, we face Liverpool at Anfield with it all to play for in terms of our ongoing mission to finish in the top four.  There’ll be a closer look at that game tomorrow.  In the meantime though, take it easy and I’ll return soon.

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