Football Monopoly looks at the partnerships that define some of world football’s most talked-about teams, both the on-form and the out-of-shape. Using the board game Monopoly as a model, we assign players to a property set based on their current form and discuss their short- and long-term prospects. Grab the dice and give ‘em a roll, but remember—this is a game of strategy! Just like chess, you’ll be thinking several turns ahead…
The first installment can be found here.
Turn two. Fresh out of Jail, you roll a ten, landing on Free Parking. Unfortunately, your little brother knocks the dice off the table, forcing a re-roll. Little bastard. Second roll, you land on Magenta. Sorry about that.
Properties: Arsene Wenger, Cesc Fabregas, Marouane Chamakh
Description: It’s appropriate that Arsenal should end up on Magenta, a notoriously affordable, but often ineffectual, property set. The perennial underachievers are once again packing their bags on the Premier League season and opening discussion on what changes to make next year. The trophy case in North London is now collecting unsanitary amounts of dust, with 71 months having passed since the Gunners last took home silverware. Given Arsenal’s storied history, the fans have every right to cry foul on the club’s prospects – except they don’t. The supporters, God bless them, have a hypnotic belief that their boys are on the upswing, even if their faith hasn’t been repaid in any of the last six seasons. But what about the rest of us? Should we accept the dictum that good things come to those who wait, or is it time to start playing the blame game? Something’s got to give.
Evaluation: It may be fitting to envision this week’s Monopoly feature using another board game analogy – Clue. There are three culprits in this proverbial murder mystery, but who’s holding the candlestick?
For one, there’s Arsene Wenger. After Ferguson, he’s the longest serving manager in the EPL. To accomplish this as a non-Brit is no small feat, but to hold onto the job after six disappointing seasons is a miracle. The Frenchmen has certainly done well with what he’s given, but questions must be asked about whether his habitual system of cultivating youth will ever actually produce anything more than transfer darlings and middling dowries.
Second, there are the Gunner veterans – Cesc Fabregas, Robin van Persie, Gael Clichy – who have devoted their adult lives to Arsenal football and yet, among them, a clear leader has never emerged. The closest thing there is to a John Terry or Scott Parker at Arsenal is Cesc, but his de jure captaincy is discredited whenever he engages in a speculative conversation about a Barca transfer or passes notes under the table with Puyol and Pique on Twitter (“Will you join our team? Yes/No/Maybe, Circle one.”). Without a natural leader, Arsenal lack the poise and courage to escape a slump and establish consistent results (they’ve won two games since the end of February – against pushovers Blackpool and Leyton Orient).
Finally, there are the Gunner new boys, Wenger’s attempts at appeasing naysayers by signing ‘superstars’ (not so much galacticos as planetarios) like Andrei Arshavin and Marouane Chamakh. Neither player has lived up to his hype or filled the “just what we needed” quota.
They are each, rather unfortunately, paragons of inconsistency, providing class in spurts but becoming anonymous when their performances are needed the most. For his part, Chamakh has scored 13 goals since his move from Bordeaux, but only one of those has come since November. Arshavin hasn’t replicated the form that brought his national side success in Euro 2008, and his goal tally has dropped to just six this year.
Conclusion: Arsenal will likely keep doing what they’ve been doing for years now – farming young talent, placing top four, and failing to win trophies. Would a change in management or a transfer coup help to reverse fortunes? Wenger’s job seems secure at the moment, and the upper brass are unlikely to splash big money (except on some minor defensive reinforcements), so it’s hard to tell for now. Buying this property is a safe bet for some small cash, but it won’t win you the game. A decent investment.
Where would you rate Arsenal on a Monopoly board? What do you think Nasri would look like wearing that little token top hat? And why do people keep trusting me to be banker? Post your comments below, and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @O87Minutes.