Robert Pires left 11 years ago but has still not been replaced.
I am in the city of the red and blue Mancs enjoying a fine 10oz steak with chips and three vegs and a beautiful pint of Peroni. All this for just £12, but I have to put up with hearing that winchy accent everywhere around me though. 🙂
If there ever was one player of the red Mancs I wanted to play at Arsenal, it would have been Ryan Giggs. The only time I ever applauded a MU goal was when the Welsh wizard scored the winner in that unforgettable FA Cup semi-final, almost twenty years ago. Bergkamp had missed a penalty and we should have won the game, but there was Giggs with a mazy run and an unstoppable bullet past Seaman in the top right corner very late on in the game. It did hurt to be eliminated but that was some goal he scored to secure a place in the final for our nemesis. I could only stand up and applaud it.
Luckily, Arsenal have had their own fine left wingers, and Bobby Pires gave Giggs a run for his money every season they played in the same league. RP07 was such an elegant player, not necessarily the hardest working Gunner on the pitch but very efficient with the ball and capable of scoring the most beautiful goals (62 goals in 189 appearances).
Since Bobby left, Arsene has struggled to find a quality, solid replacement for him. Initially, there was Reyes who looked the total part but he got homesick and returned to Spain within no time. Then came a period of austerity due to moving into the new stadium, but Wenger still managed to get another very exciting prospect for the left wing position with the very, very last minute January transfer window arrival of Arshavin. Initially, Andrey looked like a top quality player, and who can forget his four goals at Anfield for us? But I reckon he also suffered some kind of homesickness and after a season and a bit he gradually became less and less effective due to a lack of form, confidence and passion.
For some reason the LW position was cursed, as everybody who was tried there failed in one way or another. Gervinho was exciting to watch with his dribbling skills and fine runs, but also he did not make the position his, mainly due to a lack of finishing of often very easy chances. But then finally, Arsenal got a fine left winger with a fabulous background and enough hunger to devour an entire defence all by himself. Alexis Sanchez was a very good buy and it looked like we now had a LW of the pedigree of Pires.
But no!!! Wenger had to try Alexis in the central CF position at the start of this season and now he does not want to play there anymore, it seems. The versatile and willing Iwobi played more than well in the LW position but it is far too early to say whether he has it in him to become the new Pires. Of course we can also play the now hopefully recovered Welbeck on the left but it remains to be seen whether he is best used there.
It has become clear that Alexis is now fully set on playing centrally and on top of that it looks like his heart is no longer in playing for the mighty red and white. In our four most recent PL losses, Alexis has looked at best unable to change the game round for us, and at worst uninterested to give his all for the team. The latter is of course unacceptable, but it could just be a body-language thing.
Wenger will have to try something different to get this team going again, and maybe it is time to rest Alexis for a while and give Welbeck and Perez a chance to shine for us now. An attack of Perez-Welbeck/Giroud-Theo/Iwobi could give us wings again. Perez cannot become our new Pires; he just lacks the coolness and style of Bobby. I have already called him the new Ljunberg so it would not make sense anyway!! 🙂 But with his contributions through fine assists and important goals, he could make a real difference for us. That man knows how to work and how to play for the team, and that goes a long, long way.
Time to freshen things up and a period of Perez on the left might just be the tonic the team needs right now.