A couple of curses seem to be plaguing The Arsenal, one may have been solved but the other, I fear, is still rumbling on.
The first in question is ‘The Curse of the Number 9’.
Since Smudger adorned the shirt in the early 90’s, many have tried to undertake the duties of job specification, but none have really succeeded or stuck around long enough to see the job through:
Paul Merson – With Dennis Bergkamp’s arrival in ‘95, Merse was allocated the no. 9 shirt. What followed was a dip in form and a well-documented spiral into drink, drugs and gambling and so the curse began!
Nicholas Anelka – The next to fill the jersey was a precocious teenager plucked from PSG for a mere £500,000. Le Sulk lasted two seasons in the role, before starting the trend of ‘following the dough’ and swanned off to Real Madrid for the tidy sum of £22.5m
Davor Suker – In his prime, a world class player, but when he signed for Arsenal, the sun was setting on his career and with eight goals in 22 games, he was eventually shipped to East London to see out his retirement.
Francis Jeffers – ‘The Fox in the Box’. Signed from Everton for £8m, Franny was supposed to be the answer to our prayers. In three seasons, he dramatically failed to live up to the expectations and was last seen in plying his trade for Newcastle (Australia) as the clubs ‘Marquee Player’?
Jose Antonio Reyes – Another big money signing (£10m) attempt to break the curse came and went. Jose stared with promise, but home sickness and the Neville brothers put paid to any chance of him claiming the shirt as his own and he jumped ship back to Spain at the earliest opportunity.
Julio Baptista – The Beast came with a big reputation and with an outstanding display against Liverpool in the Carling Cup, looked like he might be up to the job. But alas, it was soon realised that his growl was worse than his bite and in 2007 he was shipped off to Roma.
Eduardo – An instant hit with the fans, Ed came the closest to filling Smudger’s boots. That was up until that fateful day in February 2008 when his horrific leg break caused his and Arsenal’s season to crumble. Upon his return he was never the same player and he too was sold onto pastures new.
Ju-Young Park – Basically a PR stunt that went drastically wrong. Signed in a panic, never up to the job, really not worthy of the number and demoted to number 30 this season. I hope shirts sales in Korea went up last year!
And now onto the current incumbent and Arsene Wenger’s resolution to the problem:
‘Don’t give the Number 9 to a Number 9’
Lukas Podolski – ‘False No. 9’s are in vogue and Poldi fits that bill perfectly. He has shown that he has the capability to play anywhere across the frontline. He has the industry, tenacity and ability which fans yearn to see in a player and with 16 goals and countless assists, his contribution to the season was invaluable.
Although not a straight replacement for Smithy, Lukas is a very worthy advocate for the shirt and with developing cast around him, should bring the honour back to The Arsenal Number 9 it so rightly deserves.
‘Don’t ya wish your striker was Po-Dol-Ski, Don’t ya’!
The second and seemingly continuing malediction Is the ‘Captains Curse’
Under Wenger there has been one true legendary captain, many legendary players but only one truly legendary captain.
Since ‘Big Tone’ handed in his Sheriffs badge in 2002, Arsenal have had 6 captains:
Vieira, Henry, Gallas, Fabregas, R$VP & Vermaelen.
While incumbent, Vieira flirted with Real & Inter & finally trotted off to Juventus in 2005.
Henry ummed & arghed with Barca for a couple of seasons & eventually departed in 2007 with badge in hand.
Gallas should never have been Captain (sulking in the midlands proved that) & should never have been wearing number 10. After 1 season, he was stripped of the armband & replaced by a younger model. He then committed the ultimate betrayal & skulked off to The Spuds a year later.
In 2011, the younger model, Cesc, finally went ‘home’ to Barca, leaving The Emirates to again find a new leader.
That we did in R$VP, only to be deserted for a fourth time, this time to Brand United, citing the need for trophies, blah, blah blah !!!
Now The Verminator could to be set to follow the trend & use the same head honcho revolving door, with Brand United or Barca (their’s another trend forming here) again sniffing around London Colney during the summer months. Although TV5 has said he will stay & fight for his place, the cloud still hangs.
This curse must be broken & realistically I can see only one solution.
His name, Jack Wilshere!! He lives & breaths Arsenal & can be the next Tony Adams.
One club, One aim, One goal, Success at Arsenal.
As Tony once said: “I will sign every contract Arsenal put in front of me without reading it”.
I’m willing (or naive enough) to believe that Jack will do the same.
TheSundayMorningGooner: Follow me @wellmington & let me show the world in my eyes