"I need it to happen. I've had a couple of chats with Mark (Hughes). It's delicately poised. Who wouldn't be keen to go to Arsenal? At this stage in my career it's an amazing opportunity to play at that level and one I want to take."
- Mark Schwartzer, about a possible move to the Arsenal
Schwartzer’s 37, and has been a solid Premier League keeper for most of his career without ever playing for a big club. He’s used to playing for struggling clubs, which means that he’s required to make many saves every match, and is constantly involved in the action. He’s never had a situation where he’s a spectator for 80 minutes out of every match, but is required to make two or three match-winning saves (usually as a result of our defence’s suicidal impulses). I think there’s a substantial difference in the two roles, and I think it’ll take some adjustment.
Is Schwartzer flexible enough to handle the change?
I like Schwartzer because it means he’ll be the first Aussie signing for the Arsenal. We need some Aussie spirit at the Arsenal. Aussie footy players tend to be complete jerks on the field (playing what the Hawks once termed "unsociable football”), and complete tossers off the field. That seems to be the way a lot of successful footballers approach the game (e.g. Cristano Ronaldo, John Terry), so in the long-run, it might be more beneficial that fielding a team of nice boys like Denilson and Walcott.
But for what it’s worth, I’d like to see us make a big, big signing. You can’t go wrong with an expensive, quality goalkeeper. It’s not an area where you can over-pay. The reason the best keepers in the world are priceless is that the mediocre ones have their flaws exposed every week. And I’m sick of seeing Almunia’s flaws exposed.
I realise I’m getting a bit obsessed with the goalkeeping situation, but it’s an area of vital concern. It’s scary to think that we’re a couple days away from the first game of the season, and we STILL haven’t managed to sign a keeper. It’s insane.
Meanwhile, our Theo wants to make the step up:
So on the 255th last day of my 20s, I had a day off work and decided to do my tax. Never realised how difficult tax can be. Three hours into it, and my head was spinning, my brain was fried and my stomach was churning. And I’ve still only touched the surface. Still have to do deductions, which should be more fun than calculating taxable income.
"It is a massive season for me. After the disappointment of the summer, I know what I have to do. When something doesn't go well for you, just forget about it and move on to the next one. That is what I will do this season. I need to play as many games as I can for Arsenal, week-in week-out and show everyone what I can do. I am 21 now and it is time for me to push on. I am looking forward to the next step.”
Walcott’s got a great deal of talent, but he doesn’t have a great feel for football. He’s the kind of guy who needs 100+ games and a lot of time doing drills before he knows it becomes instinctive. Let’s hope he’s spent his pre-season learning how to cross, whether to cross or to cut inside, when to make runs and where to make runs.
I think this will be a better season for Walcott. He’s had a season to get used to the intricacies of playing in a 4-3-3. And in the long-term, I think playing as an outside forward in a 4-3-3 will suit him better than as a winger in a 4-4-2. Walcott plays best high up the pitch, using his pace to get behind his marker. I love the kid to bits, so I hope he’ll make a breakthrough this year. It’ll be heart-breaking if he didn’t make the grade and we had to sell him.
It’s going to be a painful few days.