A Squad Of Arteta’s Is Better-s
It’s been a while since my last post and this is only a short one so please forgive me if you had planned for one of my epics. I had planned to come back with a really big piece but whilst doing my research I found that I was completely wrong and the blog was a duffer.
I had planned to do a piece in the run up to the West Ham game as we would be facing a Sam Allardyce team that looked at the size of the Arsenal team. It was going to be titled “Are Arsenal Big Enough To Win The League?”. I have seen Arsenal lean towards smaller and more technical players over the past 10 years and was convinced that our average squad height was significantly below the average height for the eventual champions. Our title-winning squads under Wenger were built on a mixture of strength, power, flair, technical superiority and physical dominance. We were a big team and our natural athleticism aided us in overpowering other teams with ease. I spent a while researching the squads of every Arsenal team and the eventual champions since 2002 and calculating the height of every player that would qualify for a league medal (using as many references as possible as different sites have different heights for players) and coming out with a squad average height and an average height for outfield players and I was a little surprised to see that Arsenal have been getting a little shorter over the years but have kept in line with the champions of those years. I thought we had been smaller for years and this year was different as we have a few more “big” players and was building up to saying we could win the league because we have the mixture of the past including the height now but it seems we’ve always had the mixture but maybe it just was with poorer quality ingredients?
However that piece kind of led me onto this piece as there has been a lot made by some bloggers and some journalists about Arteta’s brilliance in his new role and how the “DM” (I prefer holding midfielder) role has changed and destroyers are no longer a necessity if you have intelligent players in those positions. Whilst looking at Arteta for Arsenal for the past year and especially more so since he moved back a bit I have formed an opinion and that is the topic of today’s blog.
I’d like to have a squad full of Arteta’s.
Not because Mikel is extremely intelligent, an excellent passer, a fighter, a winner and a leader. Nor because he has impeccable hair and is an exemplary professional. No, it is because he doesn’t play international football.
When I was younger I loved international football. I believed that there was no greater honour than to play for your country but as I’ve grown older I have grown to loathe international football. I’ll watch it in the summer because there’s nothing else on but between August and May it really pisses me off.
It’s a crying shame that a footballer as good as Arteta isn’t recognised by his country but from a really selfish point of view with my red and white tinted glasses on I really don’t care and I’m actually quite pleased that he doesn’t play for Spain.
Arsenal reap the benefits of Arteta not playing international football and I’d be over the moon if none of our players played for their countries.
I see no benefits to Arsenal when a player plays for his country. In recent years we have suffered as a result of international football in my opinion. For example, Theo was injured on Friday. We lost van Persie countless times to injuries picked up on international duty. We lost Toure, Eboue, Song and Gervinho in the middle of the season to ACON over the years. From a very cynical point of view we lost Fabregas because of Spain and the world cup. The prolonged time spent with Barcelona players made him yearn for something he had previously been happy to wait for. Don’t get me wrong, we all always knew he was going to leave eventually but most of us assumed he’d leave aged 27/28 to be Xavi’s replacement. Winning the world cup gave him a taste of success that Barcelona players promised him he’d have on a regular basis which outweighed his previous desire to captain Arsenal to success.
On the other hand I see many times that Arsenal have benefited from players not playing international football. Nasri was left out of the France squad and he put in a sensational 6 months (ultimately it didn’t work out for us but his performances in those 6 months were crucial). Ian Wright and Ray Parlour didn’t play as much for England as they should despite putting in the performances to warrant inclusion. Did they try harder to get noticed? Possibly and if they did we benefited from it. Belgium didn’t qualify for WC2010 and Vermaelen spent the summer getting fit. Arteta never plays for Spain and will only ever get injured playing for the Arsenal cause.
As a club football fan I love not having to worry about what we’ll do if such and such gets injured playing for their country. I used to worry like mad when van Persie played for Holland and would wince every time another players foot came within 10 yards of him.
I don’t like our players coming back fatigued from international duty and I hate losing important players to silly injuries picked up in needless friendly matches. I would be quite happy if none of our players played international football and all their efforts were focused on Arsenal.
International football used to be the pinnacle of a players career but for me, as a supporter, I think it is Champions League. Club football is about assembling the best possible squad you can with all the available players in the word, international football is doing the best with what you have. Would Spain beat Barcelona if we had two of all the Spanish Barca players? I don’t think so. Would Holland/Italy/Germany/Brazil/Argentina win the premiership over Arsenal, Chelsea, City and United? La Liga over Barca and Madrid? I don’t think they would.
Maybe I’m just being grumpy because the international weekend causes me to have Arsenal withdrawal symptoms but I think a squad of Arteta’s make Arsenal much better-s.
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