View From The North Bank: Arsenal 3 Bolton 0
Apologies for the delay. It can only be explained by my fear that Saturday had been a dream. Three points and a clean sheet? Could it really be true? I’d shunned all contact with the Football world until now to avoid a rude awakening. I was petrified that checking the internet would reveal that we had in fact lost 3-0 to a Kevin Davies hat-trick. Thankfully, it wasn’t a dream, I checked; the points are ours.
This game will forever be remembered for Robin Van Persie’s 100th Arsenal goal. What a player, what a moment.
After a nervy and very much disjointed first half, this ended as a routine and confidence building victory. 3-0 at home to a struggling Bolton side is no more than we should expect. It’s no cause to talk of turned corners but it’s a step in the right direction.
After the game the headlines were more about our new captain’s comments regarding a new contract, than the fact that he just became the latest member of Arsenal’s 100 Club. After what happened in the past with Flamini and then Nasri this summer, contract renewals are going to be perfect fodder for the tabloids. The optimist in me thinks that the stance not to talk about it when we are working hard to settle the team is admirable. The realist in me says that Van Persie is hedging his bets.
I don’t think he is desperate to escape his Arsenal hell, as the tabloids would have it. I do think he wants to see how things pan out. Another top four finish and a few more quid spent in January and my hunch would be that he’ll sign up on a £100k+ p/w contract. There are obvious fears that we can’t pay him what he could get at City or elsewhere however, on £70k a week – and without the wages of Nasri and Fabregas on the bill – we could certainly justify a healthy increase.
I also think people would be a bit misguided to look at the Nasri situation for signposts in this negotiation. Nasri wanted to be made top earner off the back of half a season’s good work and a shed load of potential. Van Persie is already World class. He’s a proven goal scorer and a leader. He justifies, as much as anyone can, a wage over £100k a week and I think the board will realise that. Again, it’s just a hunch but I think Van Persie has a wise head and will value stability over money. Of course, it may be that he wants trophies in which case the ambition of our recruitment policy will need to be in evidence in the next two transfer windows.
The uncertainty around the club doesn’t look like diminishing just yet. Walcott, Song and Vermaelen all need new contracts so there’s a lot of work to do. It could be argued that any player wanting more money needs to prove he’s worth it. If these players want more from us or to catch the eye of an oil rich sheikh, under-performing and carrying on a run of poor results isn’t the way to do it. First thing’s first, lets rediscover some form and then see who deserves a pay rise.
Next up, Olympiacos. The Greeks always add some atmosphere on their travels so tomorrow should be good value. They lost their opener at home to Marseille so the game should be winnable, even if the visitors are trying to make up lost ground.
The boss has just confirmed that the injury jinx is alive and well as Koscielny, Gervinho and Walcott are all out. This will mean a return for Arshavin and probably a start for Park whilst Song will most likely partner Big Per as Ignasi Miquel was injured playing for the reserves.
Wenger has always said that three wins at home and a handful of points away will get you out of your Champions League group. A draw in Dortmund gave us a platform so three points here is essential. A good victory will set us en route to another appearance in the latter rounds and will hopefully fuel a resurgence.
Keep The Faith.