The Times They Are A-Changin'
So the dust has begun to settle following the inevitable departure of Cesc Fabregas, and as everyone knows by now, Robin van Persie has been appointed his successor as captain. A good decision this in many respects, RvP is the longest-serving member of the squad and the creative and goalscoring onus is undoubtedly on him to drive the club forward as we look to move on from the sagas of Cesc, and (soon) Na$ri. However there are a few caveats to consider. Aside from the injury proneness - just 231 appearances in 7 years, and occasional lapses in discipline (though his on-pitch maturity has improved a helluva lot over the last few years) it is widely believed that his contract is up in 2013. It is imperative that the club ties him down to a new deal before the season is out, or we will likely enter summer 2012 with major concerns over RvP's commitment to the cause and may end up having to sell him. "He's the son of two painters, the Emirates pitch with Arsenal's sub tika-taka stylings is his canvas - he won't have any interest in the materialism and oil money of City" - I pathetically try to kid myself.
To state the bleeding obvious, Arsenal really are at a crossroads. RvP is the final link to the last remnants of The Invincibles - the Bergkamps, Henrys, Vieiras - the young pretenders built around Cesc (and to a lesser extent Nasri, Flamini, Adebayor) and this current team that is far younger, completely undecorated with trophies but with stacks of potential (Wilshere, Ramsay, Walcott, Szczesny). He'll either remain and lead this team to trophies (surely we'll win one in the next few years. Surely?) Or he'll depart next summer and send the club plummeting into further crisis, something utterly unthinkable right now given the events of this summer - that are still unfolding on an hourly basis. Qualifying for the Group Stage of the Champions League will go some way to convincing him the club is still swimming upstream.
He's absent through suspension for tonight's First Leg tie against Udinese due to that unspeakably mental tie-killing, unjust sending off at the Nou Camp in March so Vermaelen will lead the team in a game we simply have to win to restore some semblance of positivity around the club. Turning on the players if things aren't going our way could prove to be too destructive - given that the notion of mental strength is completely absent from this team. Let's get behind them and will on a convincing win to ward off the lingering threat of despair.