Archive for April 9th, 2010

End of week thoughts: Messi, Chamakh, RVP, & meeting Theo

1,086 comments April 9th, 2010

We might have seen the best of Messi
I haven’t talked too much about the Barcelona game – I felt the stats spoke for themselves.  Of course most of the post-game talk has been about Lionel Messi: a remarkably talented player who, it’s worth pointing out, was only prevented from following Cesc Fabregas to Arsenal by some spectacularly frustrating red tape.

He is obviously a superb player – one of the top two in the world – and has the chance to be remembered as one of the all-time greats.  His finishing against us was astonishing, though I was glad Arsene pointed out that only defensive mistakes gave him those opportunities.  Simply put, he punished us every time.

One of the caveats that seemed to accompany his performance was, “and he’s only 22”.  I think this is something of a red herring.  The Times’ Oliver Kay points out:

“The long-accepted wisdom is that players peak between the ages of 26 and 30, but this is at odds with an uncomfortable reality that has begun to emerge in recent years. This largely overlooked phenomenon can be seen in the list of winners of the Ballon d’Or … Through the first four decades of its history, the award, with a few exceptions, went to players between the ages of 27 and 33. But, of the past 13 winners since 1997, eight — including four of the past five — have been aged 26 or under.”

Messi is not reliant on his pace, but he is doubtless helped by his explosive acceleration.  I’m not contesting that he’s an astonishing player, but I’m not necessarily convinced that he’ll improve significantly beyond his current level.

Signing Chamakh would be an exciting prospect
Another Champions League goal for the Moroccan was the latest demonstration of his ability.  To sign a player leading the line for the French champions and European quarter-finalists – without a fee, let’s not forget – would be some coup.

Vela seems the man most likely to suffer
If Chamakh does arrive, at least one forward seems likely to leave.  With Carlos Vela reported to have missed the flight to Barcelona because he forgot his passport, one would have to imagine that might be another step towards the exit door.  It’s the sort of youthful folly Arsene doesn’t take kindly to, as the likes of Jermaine Pennant have found out in the past.

Van Persie and Djourou could make a difference in the run-in
Both players will make a return to full training in the next couple of weeks – Robin even sooner – and I’d be surprised if we don’t see them on the field before the end of the season.  Van Persie could be a useful impact player between now and the end of May, whilst Djourou could help fill the gap left by the calf injury to William Gallas.  I’d guess we might see Robin back in the squad for the Man City game on the 24th.

Meeting Theo this Sunday
In just a couple of days I’ll be meeting Theo Walcott for a quick chat at the London heat of Nike’s Tear Up The Pitch event.  If you have a question for Theo, simply contact me via email or twitter and I’ll put the best suggestions to the man himself.  Cheers all, and have a good weekend.

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