First things first today I want to say congratulations to Manchester United on becoming Champions of England for an record-equalling 18th time. As much as I hate those Red Devil bastards – and I really, really do – I can’t argue with the fact that they’ve been the best team in the Premier League this season and thoroughly deserve the trophy. In my opinion Liverpool and Chelsea never really got close to them and apart from a little wobble with a third of the season to run United were the most consistent, most efficient and most talented team over the 38 games. So congratulations to them.
* rinses mouth out with soap and water *
OK, now I’ve begrudgingly given my congratulations to United it’s time to talk Arsenal.
We were, of course, involved in the game that effectively decided the title over the weekend as our boys put in a valiant performance in the 0-0 draw with United. The home side may be the Champions but we were certainly the better side in this match and if Cesc Fabregas’ late strike hadn’t struck the post then it’s possible we could have delayed their celebrations for another week.
We may have failed to win the game but it was encouraging to see the team put in such a spirited performance against a side that had taken care of us so clinically in the Champions League. We had a very interesting line-up with Alex Song playing at the back and Abou Diaby and Denilson helping Fabregas in the middle, while Robin van Persie played the lone-striker role instead of Emmanuel Adebayor, who was left out of the team completely by the manager.
Adebayor surely on the way out
As much as it would be nice to dicuss the positives and negatives of the draw with United the reality is that the situation surrounding Adebayor’s future at the club is far more juicy. I mentioned on Friday that Arsene Wenger had made some rather confusing comments about the prospect of moving Adebayor on in the summer and I really do feel that his exclusion from the squad as his comments in this interview with BBC Focus suggest that he will be leaving.
I strongly suggest that you watch to the interview to make your own conclusions but for those that don’t get the opportunity to I can summarise thusly; Adebayor acknowledged there has been a breakdown with the Arsenal fans but also holds the opinion that he cannot fix the situation. He mentioned the interest by AC Milan and stated that it was not his fault if he was attracting interest, nor his fault that the fans think he wants to leave.
While Adebayor certainly makes some reasonable points I believe that any Arsenal supporter who followed his actions and those of his manager before the start of last season and during this one will be able to pick significant holes in what he has said. He says that it is not his fault that Milan are interested which is fair enough. But when he keeps acknowledging their interest and comparing Arsenal to them in a disrespectful manner then he has to take some responsibility. He seems to have no awareness of what he is doing and the way it looks to the supporters who have loved this club far longer than he has.
A lack of effort
What Adebayor seems to forget in all of this is that the thing that people liked most about him was his willingness to work hard for the team, to chase and harass defenders and provide a mobile focal point from which this team could revolve around. I have been an avid supporter of the striker over the past three seasons – heck, I even have an ‘Adebayor 25’ replica kit – but it really pains me to say that that effort has gone. Without trying to generalise too much, Adebayor has rarely put in the same amount of effort this season as he did in the last and there’s really no excuse for it. If anything, given his huge pay rise last summer, he should have put in even more.
Arsene Wenger may have used the excuse of ‘a small groin problem’ for Adebayor’s absence over the weekend but you really have to suspect there’s more going on behind the scenes. More, even, than a sly dig at the size of Adebayor’s appendage.
My feeling is that Adebayor will be leaving this summer and although he would be a huge loss given what he can provide to the team when he wants to, it’s hard to argue that it would be the wrong decision. Robin van Persie has stayed injury-free for most of this season, Andrey Arshavin would relish the opportunity to play further up the pitch, Eduardo will surely be ready and raring to go for the 2009/10 season while Adebayor’s closest equivalent, Nicklas Bendtner, has had a season of significant improvement. Add to that the promise of Theo Walcott, Carlos Vela and even Tomas Rosicky – who has the capacity to play in the hole – and it’s fair to say that we have reasonable resources in attack.
Anyway, I’d better leave it there for today. I’ve spoken a lot about Adebayor in the last couple of posts but I’m hoping to get back to writing Part 3 of the Arsenal Season Review for tomorrow’s post. I’m sure some of you had been expecting another installment today but things have just been that little bit too interesting to avoid comment.
To leave on a positive note today I have some comments from the manager about the prospect of bringing some fresh faces before the start of next season. Speaking after the Shareholders Q&A from the other day, Wenger said:
“There is money available to buy. Where do I buy or who, that is difficult to speak about because if you come out with that you pay double price. We are rich, but we are not rich enough to do that. However, we will buy.”
Huzzahs all round! Have a good Monday.
Have your say on Arsenal’s 0-0 draw with United or Adebayor’s antics by leaving a comment.