Gonzalo Higuain "agrees" to join Arsenal and–sigh. No. Rumor. Back to Wigan.

Apparently, the Prem season is already over and we’ve secured a Champions Leauge berth place by beating Wigan 37-1 and Newcastle 23-0, vaulting past Chelsea into 3rd place. I say this because, isntead of focusing on actually winning these games, people are finding time to dabble in the latest rumors, this one suggesting that Gonzalo Higuain has already agreed to deal. Once you get past the article’s headline, you start stumbling across the familiar phrases: “reports suggest…”, “an unnamed source…”, “close to agreeing…” etc., and the word agrees always seems to be inside quotation marks of the kind that suggest the kind of air-quotes people use to indicate sarcasm, disbelief, or dishonesty. I’ve learned not to click on these links anymore, only going so far as a quick search for “[player name] Arsenal” and reading the 1-2 sentences available in the search results. Frankly, all you’re going to accomplish by clicking on those links is to read a bunch of unsubstantiated rumors, maybe one or two anonymous quotes, and a run-down of the player’s achievements and potential reasons for wanting to leave. If the reporting is particularly energetic, the story might even find evidence of previous links between Arsenal and the player as if this proves anything now. All of that rumor talk reminds me of the Simpsons episdoe in which the giant advertisement-mascots come to life and start destroying the town. The remedy? A catchy jingle: “Just Don’t Look.” Have a gander (key scene at about 5:00).

Good times, that. Look. I’m happy to be wrong. I think Higuain would be a nice addition. However, I have bigger fish to fry (well, at least in the sense that there’s an entire team to beat instead of worrying about signing just one). It’s a worrisome prospect, moreso than it should be. The idea that we feel unsettled facing Wigan is a sign of our own low confidence. For all we know, our squad is positively chomping at the bit and licking its chops, and Wigan’s players are either cowering in a corner or groggily drinking down the hair of the dog and grimly schlepping their stuff to the Emirates, each one thinking up an excuse for why they can’t play: “I stepped on a fork.” “My religion forbids me from playing on Tuesdays.” “My sister’s sitter cancelled so I have to watch my nephew.” And so on. We could go on a rampage of our own, going up three goals in the first 15 minutes, and all of our worrying and hand-wringing would be for nothing.

Wigan plays an odd formation, a 3-5-2, that worked well because (a) City only deployed two strikers in Aguero and Tevez and (b) Mancini was just not smart enough to adjust. They were therefore outnumbered and unable to stretch the defense. If we can convince Cazorla and Walcott to stay wide instead of drifting towards the center, they’ll be better-able to distort that back three and create openings for themselves and for teammates. With the congestion that those five midfielders can create, we’ll need some crisp, quick passing and intelligent movement–in other words, how we play anyway.  I’m not going to spend any more time weighing how Wigan’s FA Cup win and relegation status affect their motivation. We know what we need, and three points today are vital to our position. Therefore, if our attacking middies can stay wide and we can control possession (as we usually do), we should be able to manage the game.

On one hand, it’s a bit of a pickle to be in, needing three points at this point in the season, but it’s not as much of a condemnation of our form as it might seem. Chelsea has spent money hand fist to get to where they are, and Spurs are riding a career-defining season from Gareth Bale. Despite those factors, and despite some of our own mis-steps, we still control our destiny, and I do believe our boys will seize that destiny. today. Come on, you Gunners!

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