What If… Arsenal Players Were In Game of Thrones?

Arsène, first of his name, born of the house Wenger, son of Alphonse, keeper of the purse and warden of the North (London).

Arsène, first of his name, born of the House Wenger, son of Alphonse, keeper of the purse and warden of the North (of London).

Let’s take a minute to escape the humdrum banality of transfer-rumour madness to consider something of a far more serious matter. I can’t stress how many sleepless nights I’ve lost to this topic and so finally, in an attempt at some form of catharsis, I’ve assembled my thoughts into the form of written words, themselves grouped to form sentences. I should hope that the following will act as therapy to those whom this issue has also been so troubling.

Thomas Vermaelen would be…

Vermaelenselmy

Ser Barristan Selmy

It seems only right to start with our captain. Vermaelen, like Selmy, enjoyed a fantastic start to his career. He was impervious in defence and attacked with bravery and panache when called upon. Overall, a classy customer who was feared up and down the land. Then something went wrong. Vermaelen found himself threatened and in the same way as Barristan the Bold, was ousted from his position of importance. We all know that he’ll return to greatness, but will he have to follow the steps of Selmy and go elsewhere to achieve it?

Wojciech Tomasz Szczęsny would be…

Theon_&_Dagmer_2x10sczczzs

Theon Greyjoy

Though not born of House Arsenal, Wojciech has been a loyal servant to the club from a very early age in much the same way that Greyjoy nobly served House Stark of Winterfell for many a year. Both Greyjoy and Szczęsny often speak before they think, yet are clearly gifted and able. Despite this, they often seem overly cocksure of their own ability. Both could do with knuckling down and letting their swords/hands do the talking.

Laurent Koscielny would be…

Jaime-Lannister-jaime-lannister-29827959-500-500KOS

Jaime Lannister

Kos, like the incestuous son of Tywin, found himself exiled for a time during the campaign just passed. Despite this, we saw flashes of the brilliance that make him one of the tidiest Knights defenders in the land. Knows how to get stuck in but has that certain je ne sais quoi which renders him different from the majority. Cool as a cucumber at all times. He’s the guy that you really hate if he isn’t on your side.

Per Mertesacker would be…

gregor-cleganePER

Ser Gregor Clegane

Funnily enough, I have often heard fans on the terraces refer to Per as ‘The Mountain That Moves’. Whilst he may not say much, Clegane is a frightening customer to come up against. Strong, composed and fucking tall, both Clegane and Mertesacker defend the realm/goal with little fuss.

Additionally, the two seem to have a penchant for merciless torture by fire – The Hipster has it on good authority that it was in fact Mertesacker who caused Carlos Tevez’s devastating facial burns. If you believe the rumours, Per came to blows with Tevez in a Burger King whilst on a family holiday in Buenos Aires many years ago. The Argentine allegedly referred to the German defender as ‘el hombre jirafa desgarbado’ – roughly translated to ‘the lanky giraffe man’. Incensed and in a fit of rage, Mertesacker threw Tevez over the counter and slammed his face onto the nearest grill, holding it in place until it was left looking like that of ‘The Hound’ Sandor Clegane.

Kieran Gibbs would be…

Bran-and-Hodor-bran-stark-30082401-1280-720gibbo

Brann Stark

Gibbs has been around for some time now and is still some way to fulfilling the initial potential we all saw in him as a youngster. Has the capacity to do great things, but like poor Brann finds himself debilitated on a fairly routine basis. Though Gibbs may lack a half-giant to carry him upon his back, the treatment table at Colney has been a sturdy companion for the past few years. If he can rise above the persistent niggles that so often plague him, he could go on and emulate the supremacy and prowess of his father international superior.

André Clarindo dos Santos would be…

Samwell-Tarly-nights-watch-29721687-631-449santos

Samwell Tarly

Andre, of House Santos, eater of donuts and Head Jester to the realm. Fat, irksome and completely pointless. Samwell’s lineage may be fairly esteemed, but like Santos his presence adds no purpose other than to irritate. Even a spell of complete exile in the Night’s Watch  Brazil couldn’t detract from what a useless berk the guy is. Like a bad smell, he seems determined to stick around. The army beyond the wall cannot arrive soon enough.

Jack Wilshere would be…

Robb-Stark-robb-stark-34106840-1200-1180jack

Robb Stark

From a very early age both Robb and Jack were destined to do great things. Both became fearless and respected warriors before adulthood. Intelligent and astute tactically but also regarded as one of the toughest in a battle. Named by all his followers as the King of the North (of London).

Mikel Arteta Amatriain would be…

Bronn-game-of-thrones-22077692-1024-576arteta

Bronn

Though he may not be as magnificently coiffured as our fine Spanish lynchpin, Bronn shares similarities to Mikel, first of his name. Both have been around the block and are experienced, composed and confident. Both are incredibly reliable in a battle. Both had an incredibly rough child and killed for the first time before the age of twelve.

Santiago “Santi” Cazorla González would be…

lo-game-of-thrones-22153978-763-428santi

Ser Loras Tyrell

There’s a reason this dude is nicknamed ‘the Knight of Flowers’. All the guys want to be him and all the girls want to bone him. Saying nothing of his sexual persuasion, Santi is perfectly matched to Ser Loras. They’re both extravagant, tricky and skilful with a natural flair and exuberance. Both are going to grow into their roles and get better and better. I would genuinely love for Nike to feature a plaid of flowers somewhere on our next away strip, just to see Cazorla rock it. That or a cape. There are far too few capes in the Premier League.

Lukas Josef Podolski would be…

Jorah_MormontLuka

Jorah Mormont

Unquestionable quality, yet still something of an enigma. Both Lukas and Jorah have fantastic CV’s, but both find themselves in something of a quandary, not entirely sure what their position is. Once this can be decided, there is no doubt that both men will reign supreme. How long this process will take remains to be seen.

Gervais Lombe Yao Kouassi would be…

krystal-young-khal-drogo-tumblr-1023506Yao

Khal Drogo

During his period across the narrow sea, Gervinho, like the fearless Khal himself, was an impressive species to be marvelled at. However, Khal Drogo’s fatal flaw is his fear of the sea, whereas Gervinho’s fatal flaw is his fear of the goalmouth. Because of this fear, the directness that characterises Gervinho’s play seems to all but vanish at the first sight of goal.

Phew. I’m glad I could get all that off my chest. It’s a great relief.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream – Assessing some potential signings.

'What angel wakes me from my flowery bed?'

‘What angel wakes me from my flowery bed?’

Of course you will have noticed, but save for the gloriously entertaining Confederations Cup, there’s been very little by way of football these past few weeks. In such times of hardship, we’ve been subjected to the ‘news’ that Theo Walcott has been on the most laddishly boisterous stag party that we could have expected from the rambunctious Berkshire scamp. It seems as though Theo’s reputation as a maddened party-animal will be safely upheld through reports of his latest endeavors, as explained in this genuinely profound article from The Sun, whereby “The lads were downing Coronas, cocktails and shots from 11am to 6pm” – I mean, steady on boys. Let’s hope for the sake of the team that Theo and his pals can recover sufficiently from these obscenely debauch acts in time for pre-season.

Alas I digress. The beautiful game has been put on hold for the time being, excepting for the footballing equivalent of an in-form Mike Tyson competing twelve rounds against Phillip Schofield. All that’s left in its place till its safe return is cricket. Cricket and the endless ditherings of a million ‘ITK’ sources on Twitter, spouting this and that about a vast myriad of players – some familiar, some you’ve only heard of through many hours of ‘research’ on Football Manager 2013. Deals are close we’re told. Personal terms are ‘agreed’, bookies are slashing odds, players are announcing their intentions, chairmen are praising player X, managers are praising player Y. It’s all rather exciting. And of course 95% of it is nothing but pure conjecture, the wild fantasies of imaginative hacks up and down the land, looking to fill pages and sell papers.

But there’s always that famous phrase, ‘if you can’t beat them, join them.’ For want of anything better to talk about, let’s do just that. There are a number of names that for whatever reason are consistently linked with The Arse. Some of these sound fantastic, some less so. Without adieu, let’s jump in and have a look at some of them.

Gonzalo-Higuain-Goal

“A sweet-face man; a proper man, as one shall see in a summer’s day.”

Gonzalo Gerardo Higuaín

If you read everything you believe, this one is as good as done. Reports vary as to both the price we’ll pay Madrid (somewhere around £20million) and the amount we’ll give him in wages (anywhere from £115-150k per week, depending on where you’re looking). Should the deal go through, this will quite easily break our current transfer record and unequivocally operate as a statement of intent. I really can’t see any reasons why you’d oppose the signing. The statistics are great and are evidence that Higuaín is a striker of the very highest calibre, having a goal every 88.9 minutes over the course of his career. Since he signed for Madrid in 2007, only Messi and Ronaldo have scored more goals in La Liga. 107 goals in 187 appearances speaks for itself and is especially impressive a feat when you consider the fact that he’s often shared strike duties with other centre forwards, notably Karim Benzema.

His style looks to perfectly suit our own, with quick movement and fantastic anticipation. Most important of all though – he is a natural goal scorer with an ability to find the net. It really goes without saying that we’ve lacked a high-class goalscorer since the departure of RVP. Though Higuaín is a different player, he’d be a hugely important acquisition for the club moving forward. Though we’ve already added one striker to the squad in the form of young Frenchman Yaya Sanogo (who scored in for his country in the U20 World Cup on Friday), this is presumably one for the future. At 25 years of age, Higuaín is very much for the here and now, being the perfect age to join and make immediate impact heading towards the peak of his powers in front of goal.

One aspect that I feel has been slightly overlooked is the way any potential move could impact Giroud. Facing fearsome competition for the central striker berth can only force the latter to improve his game. Whilst the Frenchman had an incredibly stellar first term, the addition of a world-class forward to the team means he’ll have to further up his game if he hopes to appear regularly.

Hipster Seal of Approval Rating: For the price, there’s nobody better – 91%

"Cupid is a knavish lad, Thus to make poor females mad."

“Cupid is a knavish lad,
Thus to make poor females mad.”

Wayne Mark Rooney

Mmh. Really? Are you sure Wayne Rooney could actually ever play for Arsenal? This one is a strange one, but I must admit the more this story builds the more it intrigues me. There’s plenty of interest across the market for the player, with Madrid, Chelsea and PSG all reportedly interested in signing the glossy-haired scouser, with his face like an inverted wagon wheel. If rumours are correct, we’re in discussions with the player over a deal worth approximately £175k per week and a humungous £7million signing on fee. Initially, you’d completely dismiss the idea but we know Rooney wants out of United. Most likely, he’s not keen on the prospect of playing second fiddle to Van Persie. Fair enough.

Could he do a job for us? I’m still undecided on what his exact role would be, but feel that undoubtedly his signing would benefit the team. He’d surely provide goals, but there’s just something not right about the whole thing. For a start, he’s never come anywhere near close to fulfilling the kind of potential we’d all expected in the wake of that goal. I can’t help but view Rooney over the course of his career as somewhat overrated and think there may be smarter options out there for us, especially considering the masses of cash we’d be lumping on it. His penchant for pasties, booze and sniff during the summer months would be a concern. Furthermore, he really is an absolute buffoon. I’d definitely struggle to cheer Rooney in an Arsenal shirt, mainly because he’s such a moron.

Hipster Seal of Approval Rating: Personally doubt the rumours concerning this one. For me, something of a gamble – 72%

"Nay, faith, let me not play a woman; I have a beard coming."

“Nay, faith, let me not play a woman; I have a beard coming.”

Marouane Fellaini-Bakkioui

Again, a player we’ve been very strongly linked with in recent times – so much so, that we’re now favourites to sign the Belgian, whatever the fuck that means. With a fee in the region of £24million being suggested, this would be another giant signing for Arsenal should it go ahead. He’d add much needed verve, bite and crucially power to our midfield. 11 goals and 5 assists in 31 EPL games last time around shows his class.

There are real questions as to where he’d fit in exactly, should he sign. Some suggest that the signing would begin the phasing-out of Arteta from the starting XI, however I can’t see this myself. Arteta has established himself as crucial to the team, a metronomic force in the middle of the park, keeping things settled and contributing perhaps more than anybody else in terms of recycling possession from midfield (Mikel made 2517 passes last season in the league, more than any other player).

I’d suggest that another player we’ve been linked with fairly routinely in Asier Illarramendi of Real Sociedad is a more ‘typical’ Arsenal player being a diminutive, quick  and decisive passer. He certainly impressed in the recent European U21 Championships, playing a deep-lying role for a triumphant Spanish setup. Illarramendi is a pure defensive-midfielder, who is adept both in the tackle and at passing the ball (his passing accuracy at the Euro’s was over 95%). Illarramendi becomes an even more enticing prospect when you consider that he’d be available for under half of what we’d need to pay in order to acquire Fellaini. Also, there’s the possibility of the youngster being tutored by our able vice-captain and moulded into one of the very finest DM’s in the world.

Should we decide to splash the cash, it’s difficult to pin down the Belgian’s best position. Fellaini’s overall ability lends himself to a box-to-box role, contributing equally to both defensive and attacking phases of play. At only 25 there is huge potential for Fellaini to join us and run our midfield for the next six or seven seasons. Additionally, he’s proven in the air, so would add options in both attacking and defending set pieces (in the rare instance Walcott ever manages to clear the first man).

Hipster Seal of Approval Rating: Could well be the ‘new Vieira’ we’ve waited so long for, but there are interesting alternatives that may appeal to Wenger’s economic values – 83%

"I will roar you as gently as any sucking dove; I will roar you, as 'twere any nightingale."

“I will roar you as gently as any sucking dove; I will roar you, as ’twere any nightingale.”

Ashley Errol Williams

OK. I’ll admit it – I can see why people would link Williams with Arsenal. He had an excellent campaign with Swansea last year, who play in a similar way to us favouring controlled, possession football. However, put simply I don’t think he’s good enough to play for Arsenal. When you factor in the muted transfer price of £10million, my interest drops even further. Granted, Williams is a strong and dependable Premier League centre-half. If we could get him for half the price Swansea are after, it’d perhaps be more of a goer. In saying that, he is their captain and they’ve every right to try and get the best price they can for him – I just hope it isn’t with us. Should it go ahead, I’d truly hope it would be as supplement to Koscielny, Mertesacker and Vermaelen and not spell the end for the latter. Selling Vermaelen would be a huge mistake for the club. TV5 still has much to offer us and if he can get over what was admittedly something of a nightmare season last time out then there’s no reason why he can’t offer genuine challenge to our two established first-choice centre-backs.

It’s not that I’m against us signing another defender, because that couldn’t be further from the truth. In an ideal world, we’d definitely sign an additional centre-half and have four players in the squad who can play that position – you can discount Djourou, he’s had ample opportunity to prove his worth, a good player who’s not quite up to scratch. By having choice of four solid centre-backs, we’ll avoid having problems when the inevitable happens and injuries pile up. Though he performed incredibly well there when called upon against Sunderland last year, the less Sagna has to play in central defence the better.

There are alternatives we can consider – the best in my mind being Angelo Ogbonna of Serie A side Torino. Ogbonna is a 25 year old Italian of Nigerian descent, who is attracting serious interest from Juventus. If it were me, I’d act quickly and take the money we’re supposedly offering Swansea for Williams and snap up Ogbonna. In fact, they’re fairly similar players in the way they approach the game. But put it this way, in Football Managerspeak, Ogbonna has the potential to be much better than Williams and a leading premier division defender. He’s also three years younger than the Brit and in my mind a far, far more viable purchase for the club. Bottom line, Williams is the wrong option. The fact that he’s British is overstated as a factor of importance. You pay a premium for players of Williams’s ilk, simply because he was born in England. For me, the wrong approach.

Hipster Seal of Approval Rating: Wenger, take the £10million and spend it on a defender of genuine international quality (preferably one based in Torino) – 40%

***

Whatever happens with players coming in, its crucial that we offload further driftwood from the squad in order to free up some wage money. Though we’ve done well to already ship off Denilson, Arshavin and Squillaci, there’s still more work to be done. The amount of utter tosh that Wenger has compiled over recent years being paid staggering wages really is nothing short of incredible. When you see the figures, its staggering. Wenger has developed a reputation over the years as an astute economist and most of this reputation is well deserved. However, paying the likes of Squillaci £50k per week to play one game a season is frankly embarrassing. Arshavin was on £78k per week. 78 thousand pounds! What did he do with it all? Judging from footage of the past year, at least 30% of that figure went on building huge reserves of jam tarts. Jam tarts and lard.

But what of the merry band of miscreants we’ve still got left? There’s still plenty of ‘talent’ to be dismissed:

"The course of true love never did run smooth."

“The course of true love never did run smooth.”

Marouane Chamakh – £60k p/w (£3,120,000 per year)

Back in 2010, after the Moroccan forward had enjoyed a fantastic season up-front for Ligue 1 team Bordeaux, there weren’t many Arsenal fans who had a problem with Wenger signing the player on a bosman. He was tall and great in the air – something we missed, so all was rosy. Three years on, I’m sure everybody is in agreement that signing Chamakh was a mistake. A big shitty mistake with an incredibly odd hairstyle. Despite a good start to his career where he filled in ably for an injured Van Persie, scoring some important goals, it all went to pieces very quickly. He’s scored three goals in the past two seasons.

The figures make for grim reading, having cost us well over £10million since joining. I’m sure there’s something sweetly ironic with the fact that Chamakh is a qualified accountant, its almost as though he predicted he’d be spending most of his adult life doing nothing other than sitting and counting his own vast wealth. As the saying goes, nothing in life is free. Even with that said, very few things in life are proposed as ‘free’ but actually cost ten million quid.

"Lord, what fools these mortals be!"

“Lord, what fools these mortals be!”

André Clarindo dos Santos – £60k p/w (£3,120,000 p/y)

“Ooh, a Brazilian left-back, he’ll be just like Sylvinho!” was the common cry from Arsenal fans up and down the land when Wenger picked up the chubby-but-plucky defender from Fenerbahçe in August 2011. It made sense – we needed cover for Gibbs, who was still struggling (as always) to maintain full fitness and stay injury free. Again, it didn’t take long for the truth of things to become woefully clear to all and sundry.

Dearest André’s career with us has been rubbish, to put it lightly. I can’t even be bothered to go into it in detail, you know the story. Completely not interested in anything other than claiming a paycheck. Was farmed out back to his homeland at the back end of last season – let’s just hope we can figure out a way for him to stay there permanently. Another instance where Wenger’s calculator must’ve been on the blink.

"So quick bright things come to confusion."

“So quick bright things come to confusion.”

Nicklas Bendtner – £50k p/w (£2,600,000 p/y)

Oh Nicklas. You with ‘wonderkid’ potential on so many editions of Football Manager, alongside Carlos Vela. You could’ve been great. Though he’s certainly entertaining, I can safely say his entertainment value isn’t quite worth the £2,600,000 the club pays him in wages. Another one who could do with a slight massive attitude adjustment, but in honesty I think his fate with Arsenal was sealed with the signing of Giroud, who does everything that Nicklas promised he’d do, without ever actually delivering.

"To live a barren sister all your life, Chanting faint hymns to the cold fruitless moon."

“To live a barren sister all your life,
Chanting faint hymns to the cold fruitless moon.”

Johan Danon Djourou-Gbadjere – £50k p/w (£2,600,000 p/y)

Unlike the players I’ve mentioned thus far, I can’t really fault Djourou’s approach in the time that he’s been with us. Put simply, he’s a good defender who isn’t quite good enough to play at the very highest level. Say no more.

PCY-Arsenal

“My Oberon! what visions have I seen!
Methought I was enamoured of an ass.”

Park Chu-Young – £50k p/w (£2,600,000 p/y)

Words fail me.

If you add up the players on this list, it’s a staggering £14million worth of yearly wages! What the hell. If we can somehow get rid of them, it’ll put us in great stead to bring in additions of genuine quality. When you consider the amount we’ve spent on complete turd like Park, it makes paying Rooney £175k p/w look like peanuts, it really does. The trouble is, who on earth is going to take these players on, knowing they command such ridiculously high wages? It’s something of a problem, but let’s all hope that its an issue that be ironed out as pre-season draws ever closer.