28th May 2016: Ricardo Rodriguez and Duvan Zapata linked
Saturday salutations. Another day, another couple of players linked with moves to Arsenal this summer.
This time it’s the turn of Wolfsburg left-back Ricardo Rodriguez, and Napoli’s Columbian striker Duvan Zapata. My initial thoughts on the two reports, leaving aside their accuracy for a second, are ‘do it’ for the former and ‘I’ll pass’ for the latter – not that I’ve seen an awful lot of either player.
As always with players I’ve seen little of live, my views are based on YouTube compilations, but whilst Rodriguez is a player who I think would not only replace Kieran Gibbs in our squad, given the England international’s been linked with a move away in recent months, he’d probably dislodge Nacho Monreal from our starting selection sooner rather than later.
With Zapata on the other hand, I’m undecided, but leaning towards labeling him a south American Christian Benteke. I think we can, and should be doing, a lot better with our striker budget. If we’re looking to raid Naples for a forward, Gonzalo Higuain or at a stretch, Lorenzo Insigne and Manolo Gabbiadini are the players Arsenal surely ought to be setting their sights on.
Moving on and Sir Alex Ferguson has been praising his former rival Arsene Wenger, calling the Frenchman “fantastic”. The Scot said:
(Wenger) has been fantastic. Now he gets a lot of criticism, but I admire that you’re not going to bend to the will of the critics. He stays with what he believes in. And I think people who do that are outstanding coaches. When you talk about consistency, Arsene’s never changed the way that his side has played. I think he inherited a team when he first came to Arsenal with Steve Bould and Martin Keown and Tony Adams – fantastic warriors – but his team evolved when they started getting players like Thierry Henry, Robert Pires, Emmanuel Petit and Sylvain Wiltord. There was a change in the culture of the team. They became a magnificent team. Arsene has never changed in the type of player he wants or the sort of play he wants. It’s always about penetration from runners off the ball, good passes into angles for the strikers.
Hmmm. I’m not quite so sure Arsene hasn’t changed in terms of the style of play of his teams and his prototype player. I mean for a start, we were always set up in a 4-4-2 formation in Arsene’s early years and have been some variant of 4-3-3 for years now.
What I would say is he’s always strived to set his teams up to play in a pass-and-move manner, but the reality has far-too-often been very different at times. It’s a widely-discussed point that Arsenal aren’t nearly as physically-imposing a team as we once were but then from a purest vantage-point, some of the best football we’ve played under Arsene wasn’t, in my opinion, played by the team of Henry, Vieira and co.
Our 1-0 win at San Siro in the 2007-2008 for instance, was a lesson in good football, handed out to the then reigning European champions on their own pitch. It’s a balance we need obviously, between the beautiful and the beastly. Hopefully this summer’s transfer market will be where we rediscover that elusive equilibrium.