Who’s paying Squillaci: Arsenal’s row of coasters is making me sick
By David Swaden
It has been a funny old few weeks. We’ve had: The most one-sided 2-1 you are ever likely to see against Manchester United, a couple of frustrating draws against Fulham and Shalke, a somehow nervy 5-2 and a lacklustre (at best) draw at Aston Villa.
Make no mistake, the Villa game was there for the taking, yet in the end we were lucky to escape with a point. Why? Because we rotated and it didn’t work. Once you scratch even a little under the surface of our first 11, too often you discover a gaping chasm in class.
See Wilshere to Ramsey and Giroud to Gervinho. That means we at once can’t keep our big guns fresh enough, and also can’t rely on their replacements. I want to stick to my guns over the Gunners. Saturday was yet another desperately disappointing performance, but in terms of a result, and a realistic finish, we remain OK.
To expect to place higher than the 3 big spenders is unfair given the way our club is set up. Moan if you like but it’s that simple for me. So with that in mind, a 4th place finish is satisfactory, and despite his protestations to the contrary, I dont believe Wenger feels he really has a title challenging team at his disposal.
Around us, no-one is setting the world alight. Spurs are inconsistent, as are Everton, West Brom are doing great but won’t last and do Newcastle look any better than last year? No.
Teams, with the exception of Manchester United, ebb and flow at the top of English football and always have done. Look at Liverpool for one example. The exception with Wenger is that he is the only manager I can think of who has managed a transition from best of the rest, to the top and back down again. Maybe the fact that he created champions from challengers has allowed him to stick around for the ride on the way down.
But there is something that has been really bugging me, something that I can’t accept, something that was almost lost a couple of weeks ago amongst the Capital One cup drama.
What am I talking about? Our roll of coasters. We genuinely have a welfare dependency problem within our club.
Wasters like Chamakh, Squillaci and Djourou are on upwards of 50k a week, and Arshavin is one of our highest earners despite hardly playing a game. They add nothing, but no-one else will pay their wages so they stay. They know they won’t get the same wages at another club, so have no incentive to put themselves in the shop window. These people earn more than you or I do in a year, per week.
Yet where is their fight, Arsene’s famous “mental spirit”? They stay for the money, refusing to move elsewhere for regular football and a deserved pay cut. It’s disgraceful how they prefer to stay and not play, just so they can collect their wages -your money. If they did have pride as athletes, Chamakh and Squillaci would be long gone and we would have the space to bring in hungry new recruits.
Chamakh, for example, should be an option, he should be a card to play when things aren’t going well. But as it is he’s just, quite literally, wasting a space. That’s why when Wenger needed a lost throw of the dice offensively on Saturday, there was no-one to answer his call.
I can’t believe it is helpful to have this kind of attitude in the squad and I fear that may be one of the reasons we are seeing such a lethargy at various points this season. To succeed, your squad needs a competitive culture, where every level pushes the next and wants to improve. I fear we don’t have at that at the moment, I worry what we actually have is a culture of complacency.
The wasters don’t play so they are rusty, and the rustier they get, the further they become from playing. It’s a vicious cycle. I’m no expert, but I doubt any other Premier League team has this problem quite to the extent that we have at our club. If they do, they are City, United or Chelsea. A lot of argument goes on about Arsenal’s board being only interested in profit. But on this subject, there can be no argument. Both the football and the financial point in the same direction. If we’re meant to be so financially sound, our utmost priority should surely be to address this glaring excess.
So that’s what has my goat at the moment. We need hungry players pushing our first-teamers and able to add real depth when required. In Cazorla, Wilshere, Arteta, Giroud and Podolski, to name a few, we have some really top quality driven footballers in our first team. But we must get rid of this complacent attitude that is poisoning the squad.
As much as I want to see re-enforcments, I also want to see exits in January. But maybe it’s not possible, maybe they will just refuse to budge.
For Arsenal’s sake, indeed for their sake, let’s hope not.