Alexis is staying, Campbell is off and I have shirt number OCD
We all have our opinions on shirt numbers and even people who claim they couldn’t care less cringe when they see erroneously assigned numbers – like Milan Baros wearing number 5 or William Gallas in number 10 which is the single greatest crime ever inflicted upon this club.
Some people are precious about shirt numbers in terms of the position of the player but for most the main consideration is the importance and history attached to the number.
Tomas Rosicky, a player whose talent was most deserving of the iconic number 7 jersey if ever I saw one, has ended his Arsenal career and his number 7 shirt was swiftly taken by Alexis. This pleases me for a multitude of reasons. Firstly, it means Alexis is likely to stay. Secondly, his talent is worthy of it. Thirdly, he plays in the right position.
However, rumours abound that Coquelin will take the number 8 shirt as new boy Granit Xhaka will request his favoured number 34. This irks me profoundly.
Arsenal’s number 8 should form an important part of the attack and as much as I like Coquelin, his passing ability isn’t good enough to do justice to that number. It’s a silly thing to get annoyed about but I think my biggest regret during Diaby’s ill-fated spell at Arsenal was not the unrealised potential but the fact he was wearing the number 2 shirt.
The decision to award him a right-back’s jersey saw Sagna given a left-back’s shirt which meant Andre Santos wore number 11. I often wondered where the madness would end. I don’t even like Per wearing number 4 but I guess it’s acceptable because he’s a defender and I love him to bits.
Debuchy is likely to leave this summer and that will leave a vacancy at number 2. I hope that Bellerin asks for it because I don’t think I could stand the idea of a striker or midfielder wearing it next season.
As I’ve nothing better to do before tea-time I’m going to write what numbers I believe each player should have and enjoy reading the abuse I’ll probably get in the comments for being a child.
Goalkeepers: Cech 1 – Ospina 13 – Martinez 31
Full-backs: Bellerin 2 – Jenkinson/New RB 22 – Gibbs 3 – Monreal 18
Centre-backs: Mertesacker 4 – Koscielny 6 – Gabriel 5 – Chambers 15
Midfielders: Xhaka 34 (because he wants it) – Wilshere 8 – Özil 10 (because he deserves it way more than Jack) – Ramsey 16 – Cazorla 19 – Elneny 24 – Coquelin 20 (for the bantz)
Wingers: Alexis 7 – Walcott 14 – Ox 17 – Iwobi 21
Strikers: Giroud 12 – Welbeck 23
9 and 11 would remain free for new signings like Morata and Götze (*dreams*). Where is Campbell you ask? Well, I fear he is off. Many Arsenal transfer rumours are linking us with overseas wide players and there are only so many non-homegrown players we can accommodate. As Arteta tearfully bade the Emirates farewell, and Rosicky revelled in the adulation of the fans and his team-mates alike, Joel Campbell could be found hugging the Arsenal players in turn. Was he saying goodbye? It certainly looked that way. He did not feature towards the end of the season as much as his effort deserved and I can only speculate an impending transfer was influencing that decision.
It would be a shame to say goodbye to Joel just as he started to look an important squad member but if he is adequately replaced then I can make peace with that. As long as his replacement wears the appropriate number of course! It seems so silly but I’m uncontrollably OCD about shirt numbers and I suspect that many more of us are than would like to admit.
Imagine how you would feel if Ospina was handed the number 1 shirt this summer. It would mean nothing as Cech would still be our main starter but people would feel strongly about it. As much as many of us claim they do not, numbers matter. They evoke great emotions and memories. The number 14 shirt is iconic at Arsenal because of how absurdly brilliant Thierry Henry was and if we suddenly handed it to Mathieu Flamini there would be uproar. Affectionately as many of us think of Flamini, he isn’t the one to bear Henry’s shirt. Most people would struggle to name the bearer of number 14 before Henry despite that player’s standing in our history (it was Keown in case you were wondering).
I can’t see us moving too many numbers around this summer but for my own sanity I hope that at the very least we ensure Ian Wright’s shirt goes to a worthy candidate.
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