Enough with the season previews (Arseblog has the best Arsenal season preview I read) and baseless transfer talk, let’s get it going. We’ll be able to tell pretty quickly about the capabilities of this Arsenal squad. They play at Everton, Celtic, and Man U in the first two weeks of the season. There will be a lot of pressure on Wenger to make some signings if the team disappoints in these first few encounters (especially at the much-discussed center-mid and center-back positions).
As for tomorrow’s game, Walcott, Djourou, and Diaby are out. My preferred lineup would be a 4-3-3 with Clichy/Gallas/Vermaelen/Sagna at the back, Cesc/Song/Arshavin in midfield, and Eduardo/RVP/Bendtner up top. Ideally, Arshavin would play up front but the injuries to Walcott, Nasri, and Rosicky warrant him moving back. I’d like to see Ramsey or Wilshere get some time but not the start. Given the injuries and it being an away game against a solid Everton side, I’ll be happy with a point. It should be the best game of the weekend. Lastly, the Times has an interesting article on Wenger. An even better read is the full transcript of the interview; as you can imagine, Arsène is a pretty interesting cat. Some of my favorite exchanges from the interview:
Applied to football, though, what you are saying suggests there should be global rules that are consistent. For example, you could have a maximum wage in football.
It does not look like that at the moment at all. But people continue to accept that 50 people in the world own 40 per cent of the wealth. Is that defendable humanly? Can you accept that when two billion people have two dollars to live per day? I don’t believe that will be accepted for much longer.
So how do you square these beliefs which are quite egalitarian, socialist even, with your work in football which is a completely dog-eat-dog profession, which many think epitomises what is wrong with the capitalist system?
I also think we live in a competitive world, and I love competition. People who are competitive should get rewarded. But the money I am talking about is nothing to do with football players. Football players are small earners compared to these people. They are not a world problem. The best football players in the world still earn very little money compared to people who really earn money.
What I mean is that we have seen the first signs in America during the economic crisis of people revolting against the bonuses, and Barrack Obama said it cannot be acceptable to pay such a huge amount of money anymore. It is the first sign. Even in America, a pure capitalistic country, it is not accepted. It is the first time I have heard a president of the United States say something like that. It will take ten, 20 years but there will be common sense. In a competitive world not everybody can follow the pace, you will leave people out. We now accept that we must take care of these people. You cannot let them die in the streets, people will not accept it. And that is right, too.
So when you look at Chelsea and Manchester City, how do you feel?
I am not envious.
Is it also hard to remain where you are, and to aspire to win, yet retaining a commitment to very attractive football? I argue with a guy at my local who says if you would just compromise and be pragmatic Arsenal might win more.
Yes, but if I asked you who was the best team in the world you would say Brazil. And do they play good football? Yes. Which club won everything last year? Barcelona. Good football. I am not against being pragmatic, because it is pragmatic to make a good pass, not a bad one. If I have the ball, what do I do with it? Could anybody argue that a bad solution like just kicking it away is pragmatic just because, sometimes, it works by accident?
Would you describe football as artistic then? Do you see an aesthetic quality when you watch it, not just functionality and efficiency? Does it move you?
I believe the target of anything in life should be to do it so well that it becomes an art. When you read some books they are fantastic, the writer touches something in you that you know you would not have brought out of yourself. He makes you discover something interesting in your life. If you are living like an animal, what is the point of living? What makes daily life interesting is that we try to transform it to something that is close to art. And football is like that. When I watch Barcelona, it is art.