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Pining for Pires

Pining for Pires

I think something has become really quite evident in the last few weeks, that our squad just doesn`t have sufficient depth at the moment. The likes of Fabregas, Hleb, Clichy and Adebayor have been asked to play so many games and it really is beginning to tell, in performances as well as results. Liverpool are highly likely to rest players for the match tomorrow and, while I would not advocate the kind of wholesale changes that I think they will adopt, it would be nice to have some flexibility amidst this sea of titanic clashes. Yet with the bolser wood van Persie again injured, we really have little choice in terms of rotation. Yet when one examines the injury list, we see Rosicky (even more brittle than van Persie), Eduardo and Sagna. Nobody disputes the talent or importance of these players, but surely a treatment room with only four players in it should not be an insurmountable obstacle for a club chasing glory on two Lucy Pinder sized fronts? Now, I support the fact that Walcott and Bendtner have enjoyed steep learning curves this season, both look to be fine players and we will benefit enormously from their experience this year. I was all for signing Anelka, but once it became clear Chelski and their filthy lucre were in the race, we were never going to be able to compete.

However, our deficiencies on the flanks have been brutally exposed. Rosicky is an excellent player and seems to be an honest professional, but his constant injuries make me wonder how valuable he is to us considering his wage packet. His understudy is effectively Abou Diaby, who clearly does not enjoy the position and is also a regular on the treatment table. This has got me thinking recently, maybe misty eyed nostalgia has impeded my better judgement, maybe the economics of the situation are beyond my knowledge/ comprehension, but am I alone in thinking that we might have held on to Robert Pires? Hindsight is a wonderful thing I guess, and Wenger pretty much always gets it right when it comes to knowing when to let players go. (I am sure I don`t need to list examples). But I have this nagging feeling that Pires could have been a very valuable player for us this season. I know he began his Villarreal career with another cruciate ligament injury. But one must question whether that was destiny or circumstance, the injury occurred in training, who knows if that would have happened at London Colney. As with economics, medicine is not my strong suit, maybe Pires is a little frailer and more predisposed to gaining such an injury. But a look at his current form has seen him oust Villarreal`s apotheosis Juan Roman Riquelme and become the driving force behind the Yellow Submarine`s title charge. It`s a different, slower game in La Liga, but I am not suggesting Pires might have played every game, but I think as a squad player he may have added some real value to us.

Obviously, it`s easy to think in terms of Rosicky`s prolonged injury spells, but Pires could have given us a real option from the bench. A genuine goalscoring threat with an intelligence and subtlety about him to ghost past packed defences. He also has a guile and grace we are all too familiar with which could have paid enormous dividends from the bench. At the moment, Arsenal have too few attacking options from the substitutes when there are one or two injuries. If we get in trouble tomorrow, Bendtner is pretty much the only solution. With Rosicky and van Persie out of the side, too often Hleb has been the lone cog on the edge of the box trying to eek out opportunities. Maybe I am wrong, but I can`t imagine that the rigours of the Premiership would have provided him with too many problems. He was hardly the most battle hungry of warriors and he lost a lot of pace following his cruel injury in March 2002, but adapted with his intelligence.

Arsenal did not cope with being five points clear at the top of the league and have shown a lack of experience in seeing out a title race (though all is not quite lost yet), I think Pires` experience in this scenario may have filled a void. When he eventually left Arsenal in the summer of 2006, unable to accept only a one year contract extension, I couldn`t help wondering why we didn`t just offer him the two he wanted. If it didn`t work out after the first season, surely we could have just said au revoir and maybe commanded a slight fee for him? Like I say, maybe the voodoo economics are more complicated than that, maybe it would not have worked out at all and this is all pointless reverie and speculative nostalgia. Maybe there`s more to the story that we are not aware of. But in the pompous glory of hindsight, I would suggest that a French wizard should probably have departed N5 in the summer of 2006, and that it should have been Henry. Am I being too simplistic in suggesting that, had we retained Pires, we might well still be top of the table?LD.



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Writer:Tim Stillman
Date:Friday April 4 2008
Time: 3:30PM

Comments

0
I think he wanted to leave and he made that clear after he was taken off in CL final
ajwb
04/04/2008 15:39:00
0
No, you're not being too simplistic at all. It still mystifies me what happened with the negotiations between the club and Pires, I think we don't know all the permutations and facts of what happened because there was room for compromise on both sides, yet neither budged. And Pires has now accepted a 1 year contract at Villareal, why couldn't he do that at Arsenal? There's no question for me that he would've aided our team enormously this season, certainly more than Gilberto. I watch Villareal mainly for him, and he's been so important to them. In a recent interview he said wanted to come back to work for Arsenal.
jaelle
04/04/2008 15:43:00
0
I'm not so sure that was anger as disappointment that he knew his Arsenal career was ending that way. Maybe that was behind it, but the guy still seems to have a lot of affection for the club. His recent comments about Spurs for example and the fact that he bought a house at Highbury. He was always clear that he wanted more than a year and that's where negotiations broke down, but maybe the CL Final had somehting to do with it. Perhaps knowing he was leaving influenced Aws decision to take him off.
Little Dutch
04/04/2008 15:44:00
0
Whilst I agree totally that Pires is one of the best players ever to don your shirt, I don't know whether he'd still be as effective in the Premiership as he once was. I do watch quite a bit of La Liga and I like Villareal. But seeing how Jon Dahl Tomasson doing so well over there reminds me that it's a different league to ours. I think sometimes, it's best for club legends to go before they start to decline.
The_Legend_Of_Zola
04/04/2008 15:48:00
0
Fair comment Zola, but I have a feeling that he would have been talior made for the impact from the bench role. He started to don that role in his last season and all the noises he made suggested he was prepared to accept that so long as he was offered two years. It wouldn't have been the all conquering world class Pires of 2000-2005, but I think he would have added enough to make us an even more formidable squad.
Little Dutch
04/04/2008 15:53:00
0
you never know, I dont really like looking to the past too much as it can drive you crazy with what could of beens. Had we kept him Rosicky wouldn't of arrived IMO so the depth issue wouldn't of been resolved. No question we are so thin at the moment, Menez or Ben arfa would add so much to this squad as both are hugely promising and just as importantly hugely versatile. On a side note do you think Denilson will start tomorrow, haven't seen the lad for ages ?
hazzagooner
04/04/2008 15:56:00
0
You're quite right HG and it's not something I usually do. It was just a thought I had on a quiet Friday afternoon. The more I think about it, the more I think it would have been perfect. All pie in the sky I guess, I just wondered if anyone else felt the same.
Little Dutch
04/04/2008 16:00:00
0
well personally I didn't think he would be able to muster up form that he is displaying at the moment and credit to him for that, its just when Arsene feels he needs to make changes it seems like he wants wholesale ones and doesn't like mixing in a new idea with an old idea hence why there are no invincibles left playing in the starting 11 a mere 4 years or so since taking the world by storm. We really do need to add depth with players who can play wide, diaby and eboue are just not cutting it for me.
hazzagooner
04/04/2008 16:08:00
0
So...If reports of Jose Reyes being courted by Newcastle are true, what are peoples thoughts on Wenger scooping him back and, without Henry bullying him around, and putting him back on the road of development? Althetico and Real both treated him like the finished product, and so he spends long periods on the bench, Wenger treats him like a ball of potential, and he gets game time...
bootoo
04/04/2008 16:08:00
0
This is exactly what I've been saying! We don't have someone like Pires or Bergkamp to come off the bench anymore. We know Bobby probably wouldn't be fit enough to last the whole season, but neither can Rosicky or RvP. It's like having one more guy to share their role on the wing. While many of us keep saying we need to sign a new winger, that's all I'm asking - a winger who lasts half a season, then Rosicky the other half. But of course like LD said, maybe it's a costly thing to do, maybe not, we don't know what happened or how things work exactly in those negotiations. But I do miss Bobby Pires... (yes it's nostalgia too) He's the only former Gunner who I think is worth bringing back like now. But who knows, maybe age is taking its toll and maybe he'll wind down next year. But I still love him as a player and as a true Gooner.
Lou the Gunneress
04/04/2008 16:16:00
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