Friday, 30 May 2008

Homegrown hysteria

There's been a lot of talk about the big corrupt fat one at FIFA's attempts to introduce a rule that would limit the number of non-domestic players playing for teams, the so called 6 plus 5 rule. Unfortunately for the corrupt fatty the EU have given his proposals the red card, as they contravene EU law:

"1.Freedom of movement for workers shall be secured within the Community.

2.Such freedom of movement shall entail the abolition of any discrimination based on nationality between workers of the Member States as regards employment, remuneration and other conditions of work and employment."

It always seems to be the fault of foreign players whenever our great country fails to qualify for a major tournament. This argument seems a tad simplistic given the quality of player in the England squad, demonstrated by how many Englishman played in the Champions League final. Practically reducing the number of foreigners in our game would just reduce the quality of our league, and damage the Premiership, probably just increasing the number of mediocre Englishman playing and doing nothing good for out national side. While some small countries' leagues would be completely decimated if they were strictly limited in the number of foreign players. There are clearly some very deep rooted problems in the way that the English game fails to encourage and protect technical excellence from a young age, until these problems are addressed, no number of new rules will make a damn bit of difference to the quality available for the national side.

UEFA have been pushing for the introduction of their own limits on players by the introduction of a 'homegrown' players rule which introduces quotas of a certain minimum number of so called homegrown players who 'must have been with the club for at least 3 years and bought in between 15 - 21 years of age'. The EU seem to be happy with UEFA's ideas and they are already upon us. There is certainly no need to panic as the new UEFA rules only mean that Arsenal will have to have eight 'homegrown' players in our 25 man Champions League squad for next season, given that the likes of Cesc, Clichy, Diaby, Traore, Senderos, Walcott, Hoyte, Djorou, Van Persie and Bendtner already qualify or will soon qualify as 'homegrown' players, we will not have much to worry about.

So don't panic, the fat greedy corrupt Blatter and his bribed buddies are very unlikely to get their way with their badly thought out new rules that directly contravene EU law. I have to say that if they did get their way it could be catastrophic for football as whole, not only in the big leagues of Europe but also in the smaller leagues where there simply wouldn't be enough domestic players to make up a decent league. Also just imagine how over inflated the transfer market would become for domestic talent, it's bad enough already. FIFA insist their new rule doesn't break EU law but to me it's pretty clear that it does as, simply look at the clause 2 above, it's hard to see how forcing clubs to start with 6 domestic players wouldn't be blatantly discriminatory as far as players' conditions of employment is concerned.

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Where to fortify castle Arsenal?

I have tried to analyse where our squad is short for next season, obviously the list below is rather subjective and several players can play in several positions, however acknowledging these simplifications this is how I see our potential squad taking shape:

Goalkeepers: 1. Almunia 2. Fabianski 3. Mannone

Right backs: 1. Sagna 2. Hoyte

Left backs: 1. Clichy 2. Traore

Centre Backs: 1. Gallas 2. Toure 3. Senderos 4. Song 5. Djorou

Right midfield: 1. New signing. 2. Eboue

Centre Midfield: 1. Fabregas 2. Gilberto 3. Diaby 4. Denilson

Left Midfield: 1. Walcott 2. Rosicky 3. Vela

Strikers: 1. Adebayor 2. Van Persie 3. Eduardo 4. Bendtner

Young players pushing: Randall, Merida, Barazite, Gibbs, Lansbury, Nordtveit, Simpson.

I have assumed that Arsene will definitely sign a right sided midfielder because this is our weakest position in my opinion, Walcott looks much more threatening on the left while Eboue is simply not good enough to start for us there. The Nasri deal is not done yet but he appears likely to be slotted in on the right of midfield if he does sign. Undoubtedly we need to add more than just one new face, however it's not an easy balancing act to keep all of our big names happy whilst leaving sufficient space for the young talent to emerge into, but also having enough strength in depth to maintain a challenge on several fronts.

There are several unknowns that make it tricky to predict Arsene's hand, for example how likely is Rosicky to make a full recovery following surgery and where does he see the likes of Traore, Song and Djorou playing in the long term? It is almost easier to cross off our areas of strength and work out his plans by using a process of elimination. We're solid enough in goal, while the full back slots are probably one of our main strengths, we also have four very decent marksmen which is enough in anyone's book. That leaves centre back, centre midfield and the left of midfield. I see the other signings coming in these areas, but knowing Arsene I'll probably be wrong.

Rage against the machine

Several days have passed since I last expressed my fury at Arsene Wenger and his inactivity in the transfer market. Yet the propaganda merchants at still reveal no new major signings, instead the talk is of our useless young players who never make it through; while the shiny website that is funded by our supporters money continues to go on about last season as if it wasn't a catastrophic failure, my blood is reaching boiling point and my ears are expressing the most petulant of steam. One has to look to the English tabloids for the reliable facts.

Meanwhile I bet you Arsene is probably sunning himself on the French Riviera, and he's probably got a big suitcase full of banknotes with him that he is determined not to spend out of spite for hard working Arsenal supporters like myself, every second that goes past with Arsene smugly sitting on his pot of cash is like a a knife through the intima of my Arsenal red aorta. Any success we've had over recent years has been in spite of Arsene, just imagine how many trophies we could have had if we'd kept Bruce Rioch in charge. How dare Arsene and the board think in the long term instead of putting the club's future in the balance by recklessly racking up debt on the Arsenal credit card?

Some people have questioned my ability to remain angry and spit vitriolic abuse at the club and manager that I support, I say to them that 90 days is easy when you've been full of pent up dysfunctional rage for many years. These people who question me aren't proper Arsenal supporters anyhow; some of them aren't even English and others do not have the brain power to appreciate my gospel. By the way I don't actually read those other blogs, it's just my extra sensory perception gives me a magical insight into their deluded ways. I also don't have time to do humour.

I love venting my spleen, but even if Arsene were to spend big this summer, sign some top quality players and then win the league, I won't be happy. That would not be enough to satisfy my rampaging desire for spending big and taking over the world. Arsene will never manage world domination and this is why Arsene can be proven to know nothing, QED. I know I am right because everyone else is wrong, it's that simple (you can't argue with that kind of argument and I certainly won't let you); my clever little neurone knows this and he will stick his fingers in his ears and sing it loudly to the entire world. So listen up my apostles and repeat after me........

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Close season rambling

Time seems to go rather slowly in the close season, sort of like in a Hollywood action film when time is slowed down to allow the hero to get his gonads in between the President and the flying munitions, it's just not quite as exciting watching the close season. There are those of us who are optimists who enjoy dreaming of winning every game next season and maybe even Eboue shinning one in, while there are those of us who are a little more pessimistic and who prefer to envisage rather more impending doom than the optimists. Personally one of the most drawn out and painful summers was that of 1996, so many big rumours and no signings, until the news broke that we had signed a 36 year old John Lukic.

I sometimes think stupid things, so maybe this is another one of those moments, but maybe we all sometimes get a bit carried away with the winning and losing, and then forget to enjoy simply the experience of being a football supporter. Now that John Terry's sputum has had time on Carlos Tevez's greasy acne, and the initial high of the win has worn off, how happy will Manu fans be feeling?

Personally I don't get much satisfaction from rubbing peoples faces in my own club's success and the post winning silverware feeling can often be a massive anti-climax. Hypothetically if Usmanov did take over the club, and we then spent hundreds of millions on players with the club behaving like a morally bankrupt mafioso cartel, would you feel proud to be a Gooner even if we won the league? The way one does things and the context of one's success is pretty important in my opinion, it's not just the end result and winning at any cost.

Where am I going with this deranged rambling? You're probably thinking that I don't care if Arsenal win or lose, I'm not saying that, I love seeing Arsenal win; I'm just trying to get across that even if Arsenal were to lose all their games next season, perversely I'd still enjoy being an Arsenal supporter. Don't get me wrong it would fantastic if we could pick up a few trophies next year, I'm just saying if we don't I'll still be getting behind the lads one hundred percent. There's definitely a danger of become a little too obsessed with the end results, then one ceases to enjoy the experience, the great moments, the drama and the supporting; then even if you win the lot, well so what, if you didn't really enjoy it, what was the point?

Fiszman speaks - no surprises

If there's one thing you can guarantee in an argument, it's that if someone tries to polarise it into 'you're either with us or against us' then they're getting pretty desperate, and it's probably a sign that their argument is not based upon Granite foundations. Danny Fiszman has been speaking on about his and the club's support for Arsene's transfer plans. While there is no specific transfer budget mentioned, Fiszman is no fool and the hints are there for all to see:

"I think Arsène answered that question when he said it is not a big name, it is a big talent we are after. I think it is about big talents and committed players."

He also states clearly that the club has a different ethos to Manu and Chelsea, and that we will not be breaking our wage structure to bring in big names. There are always those who enjoy butchering things so that they can be jammed into their own jigsaw. So while the Sporting Life has a very sensible take on events, the Mirror is misrepresenting Fiszman's words. You'd have to be slightly less endowed in the grey cell department to get sucked in by the Mirror though.

So overall it seems the club have things nicely on track and there is no need to to whip ourselves into a frenzy of self perpetuating fake hysteria. Arsene has openly stated that players were going to be brought in, even before Flamini and Hleb were on their way; most of us also knew that there were going to be no super glitzy big names arriving, as Fiszman says it is going to be mean big talents like the Sagnas and Eduardos of this world. Arsene has a pretty handy telescope for spotting this kind of committed talent, and although Fiszman's word are nothing that I wouldn't have expected, they are pleasantly reassuring.

Monday, 26 May 2008

Euro 2008 - a bit of football

Euro 2008 is on the horizon and obviously there isn't much of a buzz around because England have failed to qualify. I am sure that the hosts will be rather glad that the cohorts of lager swilling English louts will not be descending upon their streets in June. The dire football England have played over recent years will be missed about as much as our supporters.

The remarkably bland Owen Hargreaves described England supporters as the most 'colourful and supportive' around when interviewed today on the radio, an interesting choice of words given their behaviour at Euro 2004 and 2000, I guess the blood on their shirts makes them colourful and their ability to wage war makes them supportive. Owen probably couldn't risk offending a large number of Man United fans that make up a significant percentage of these travelling English hooligans.

There certainly promise to be a few decent games in the group stages, especially in Group C which contains Italy, France and the Netherlands. Obviously a few Arsenal players will be in action, Cesc and Spain must have a decent chance of success this time around, while hopefully big Phil can give Ronaldo a tackle to remember. All in all I'm starting to look forward to this little festival of football.

Meanwhile Arsene has made his first signing of the summer, snapping up a young Frenchman by the name of Francis Coquelin. Yet again it appears that the big drawing factor for the player was working with Arsene. One young player who is being tipped to be on the verge of breaking through is Nacer Barazite, a pacey dynamic inside forward with an eye for goal, even though I've only seen him in brief glimpses he does look rather handy. While we while away these close season days, I thought I'd leave you to digest this little quote on censorship, it has a bit of relevance to many forms of media that we enjoy in the modern age:

"Censorship reflects society's lack of confidence in itself. It is a hallmark of an authoritarian regime."

Sunday, 25 May 2008

Sack Wenger and spend a billion

I am an Arsenal fan and under the Human Rights Act subsection 3(iii) I am entitled to demand the immediate sacking of my club manager if we should go anymore than 5.8 nanoseconds without a whiff of silverware, and as a paying support I am also entitled to demand that the club spend millions to satisfy my unquenchable cravings, and if they do not then I have the right to take the club to the European courts, thus forcing them to invest in some quality talent like Franny Jeffers or Glen Helder, say.

Wenger has been found to be seriously lacking of skills in the management department. Firstly he can only speak about ten languages, meaning that we'll have great difficulty in signing new players from countries of a non-Wenger language, ruling out great footballing countries like Australia and Wales. Secondly he does not respect us hard working supporters who fund his lavish lifestyle of football and more football, if he cared he'd spend millions every summer just to keep us happy, it's arguably our money and not the club's anyway. I remember that great time under George Graham when he spent a few million to keep us fans happy, the greats Hartson, Kiwomya and Helder came in, the ecstasy lasted all of five minutes until I realised they were all as useless as Justin Edinburgh's left foot.

The club has also been irresponsible by being responsible under Wenger's reign, while other clubs such as Chelsea have been spending in a completely unsustainable fashion, Arsenal have been left behind in the short term spending stakes, instead they have been thinking in the long term by investing in the Stadium and youth development. How very stupid.

I am furious. When I think of Arsene Wenger even having the nerve to smile it makes me fume, how can a man who has presided over the ritual torture of so many of us hard working class Arsenal supporters have the nerve to enjoy himself in the process? The man is a disgrace, sack him now. I haven't really thought of who to replace him with, I don't do long term thinking, maybe Gary Megson, he's a good all rounder. What I do know is that there are some really good signings to be made out there this summer, we've already missed out on over fifty good signings so far according to Tribal Football, so let's get spending Gooners and let's get that selfish Frenchman out now.

Saturday, 24 May 2008

Good riddance

Some players are complete professionals, and despite leaving always showed respect to the club and fans with their behaviour in so doing. Mathieu Flamini was an example of a good pro in my book, he may have left, but he never behave improperly and did everything by the book, with his agent never trying to unethically engineer a move whilst he was not allowed to. Players like Mathieu deserve no abuse or bitterness, they have done nothing wrong.

The same cannot be said for Alexander Hleb. He and his agent have behaved shambolically in recent months, despite being under contract they have broken the rules in talking to other clubs and said a lot of things in public that have been designed to engineer a move away from Arsenal. There has been the Milan ice cream shambles, the pathetic comments about London not being rural Germany and now some more disgraceful words from his agent.

He may not have gone on strike a la Anelka, yet, but Hleb and his agent have certainly forced the club's hand. Importantly Hleb has two years left on his contract, so he really should be prepared to see it out and behave like a professional, rather than petulantly stamping his feet for a move or else. If he is unhappy living in London then there would have been much better ways to go about leaving the club without speaking to other clubs being Arsenal's back.

Frankly I can't be arsed to be angry with Hleb, he's just revealed his true slightly cowardly colours. He was a player who consistently flattered to deceive, for someone with so much technical ability there was remarkably little end product. Apart from a short burst of goals earlier this season, his goalscoring record has been abysmal while his lack of assists also rather stands out. We don't need players who don't give 100% and don't get stuck in if we are to win the title next season, so good riddance Alex, your unprofessional conduct means you will not be remembered as fondly as you could have been at the Emirates.

Thursday, 22 May 2008

Defending big Phil

Whatever one thinks of Philip Senderos as a footballer, he has always come across to me as a genuinely top bloke on and off the pitch, in fact I don't think I have ever seen a player look so genuinely remorseful after being hashly sent off earlier this season. Big Phil is a good guy and should be shown a little bit of respect by us Arsenal fans.

One blog recently led with the headline 'Nasri signs, Big Phil off, excitement overload!' the other day, more than a touch disrespectful for a guy that has given 100% to the cause whenever he has been asked and who has always been the model professional. Some of us appear to have rather short memories, big Phil did form part of our super solid defence that got as far as the Champions League final in 2006 claiming clean sheet after clean sheet along the way.

More recently he has actually played very well for us on the whole, he came in for Kolo earlier this year and shored up the defense somewhat. Admittedly he was turned too easily by Torres at Anfield, but Torres is not a bad player and overall his errors have been few and far between. He did also play rather well away to the mighty Milan in that famous 2-0 win. There is certainly nothing that he should have to feel ashamed about, even if some rather fair weather fools insist upon turning him into a scapegoat.

Some so called Arsenal fans have been quick to offer Phil their mighty opinion with 'Fuck off and leave' and 'he seems to be an arrogant kind who thinks he's all that'. It seems that the majority of sensible Gooner opinion sees Senderos as a very good young defender who has been unfairly scapegoated. While it is fashionable these days to get carried away with far fetched and tedious transfer rumours about players that none of us have ever seen in action, some of us would do better to show a little bit more respect to some of the top professionals that we already have plying their trade at Arsenal Football Club. It may seem clever to talk of replacing most of our squad with some exciting new players from foreign leagues that have performed well on Championship Manager, however it most certainly is not.

A shame someone had to win

My heart bleeds it really does, it couldn't have happened to a nicer bloke than JT, a man who shows respect to officials week in week out, a man who never tries to cynically cripple his opponents with dirty off the ball antics. Just think of poor Ashley Cole too, another Champions League final defeat, there is no justice in the world.

In all seriousness, there wasn't a great deal between the sides, both sets of eleven c*nts were pretty evenly matched. It was a great shame that someone had to win the game, it would have been much fairer if both sides had lost and so much more enjoyable for the neutral.

The hype surrounding the game was really a little over the top, some people seem to have forgotten that it was only a game of football. However having worked themselves up into such a frenzy, the media then had to continue the pretence that this was to be the greatest game of football ever, it wasn't a bad one by any means, but it was certainly a long from being the greatest ever.

United will go down as legends, even thought they looked second best for long periods. Even though some people deny the existence of luck, United's double owes a great deal to it, while they do have a very solid defence and an exceptional talent in Ronaldo, luck has been the difference between the big three English clubs this season. Having said that, well done to United, winning such a double takes a lot of doing, as well as a fair amount of luck.

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Prophetical transfer musing

The transfer speculation is reaching fever pitch, I particularly like A Cultured Left Foot's amusing take on events. It seems that some people do not learn that there are many boys aout there who like to cry wolf, naively seeing the French newspaper L'Equipe as a printer of the gospel truth. Having spent several closed seasons in France reading L'Equipe, I can tell you that it prints its fair share of complete rot, so trust any newspaper at your peril. Nasri may or may not sign, I haven't a clue, but I will only believe it when I hear it from Arsenal Football Club.

L'Equipe is probably more reliable than the Sun, however that doesn't really count for much does it? The latest name to be linked with the club is an author who died in 1931, I am sure some blogs and news outlets will still swallow this tongue in cheek Arseblog effort down though, nice photo by the way. Arsene has been talking about the influence that referees have been having on the big games this season, surprisingly I am inclined to agree with him on this, there is so little to choose between the top sides that it does often come down to a bit of dodgy refereeing.

If you need some cheering up on this depressing day for football, then you can always have a laugh at Tottenham, or you can enjoy this tackle on Ashley Cole brilliantly executed by his team mate Claude Makelele. It hurts me as much as it hurt Ashley, trust me.

Sunday, 18 May 2008

Play up pompey!

Well done to Portsmouth, I did enjoy watching the cup final yesterday because it was a decent game, and it was played in a pretty sportsmanlike manner without the gamesmanship and cheating that would have taken place if a Chelsea or a Man U had taken part. The Champions League final promises to be a cagey and bitter encounter, it's a great shame the best footballing side got done out of it by some dodgy refereeing and a Ryan Babel dive. It's going to be a hard final to watch, the optimists amongst us will be looking forward to enjoying one of our great rivals losing, while the pessimists will probably not be watching.

The silly season is upon us, meaning that we are being linked with hundreds of players and it isn't even yet the end of May. Frankly I can't be arsed to keep up with the details because the vast majority of them are completely baseless bull. It is worth keeping an eye on what the mighty Arsene has to say, as this is often more revealing than any rumours in the tabloids:

"I think a huge player is better than a huge name, you have huge names who produce very little at the moment. There is plenty of demand from players who want to join us and what we need next year is two or three maybe."

Arsene is quite right. We don't need time big time Charlies for the sake of appeasing some rather mindless fans, fans who are happy to slag off our own players because they believe the odd made up rumour in the Sun, mentioning no names of course Le Vacuum. One particular blog labels Flamini 'a tosser and a greedy narsissic delusional twat and tells Adebayor to f*ck off calling him 'last season's biggest joke'. Some people have more mouth than brains, they would certainly do better to think before letting fly, unfortunately they may be a little short of the grey cells to do the thinking, while the less said about their grammar the better.

We need two or three hungry young Sagna/Eduardo types, players who are not household names, but who are approaching their peak and who will be able to drive us onto some silverware next season. The big names are often not as hungry and keen to prove themselves, while one also has to pay over the odds in terms of transfer fees and wages.

Meanwhile Arsene has hinted that he sees Alexandre Song as a centre back for us, and his solid performances there for us at the end of this season certainly add weight to this argument. Personally I remain to be convinced that a partnership of Gallas and Song or Toure and Song would be big enough for a title winning run in the Premiership. Whoever else Arsene signs we certainly have some rather exciting prospects coming through already, Vela is to be part of the squad next year, while the likes of Gibbs, Randall and Merida will all be part of the squad.

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

The Fabregas show

I was fortunate enough to obtain a backstage pass for the much hyped Cesc Fabregas show that is due to be shown on Sky this Monday coming. I'm not normally one for this type of mildly glitzy occasion but seeing as Cesc, Arsene and a few others might be around I thought it would be fun to head down.

The location was a largish studio just opposite Wembley Park tube station, which appeared slightly decrepit from the outside. Having gained entry and a very exciting photo ID badge, some tasty cold beverages were consumed within while having to endure some rather tinny two step beats blared out by a DJ who had a haircut that was somewhat reminiscent of the legendary Forest player 'Jason Lee', although the pineapple had been replaced by more of a mango shaped crop.

The show itself was rather glitzy and superficial, lacking the content that an Arsenal anorak such as myself would desire. The presenters, can't remember their names as I see no need to memorise the names of unamusing nobodies, blundered along with some rather poorly scripted gags while presenting Cesc's career so far in a rather disjointed manner.

Despite the tabloid style programming from Sky, one thing stood out for me, and that was the impressive young man that is Cesc Fabregas. His desire, commitment, intelligence and incredible modesty were there for all to see. His softly spoken eloquence impressed me and stood out in contrast to the tacky banter from the presenters. He is a great role model for any young kids out there, his desire to educate himself, learn another language and experience a new culture are things that make him a class above so many of his English counterparts. This all came over in the interview despite the lack anyone with a brain being present to ask some decent questions.

Instead of criticising foreign players, out media should sometimes look at what we can learn from some of the magnificent young professionals that travel to our shores to ply their trade. Some of our 'great' English youngsters can barely string a sentence together in their native tongue, while getting hammered is apparently something that we should all aspire to. Enough of the rant, the best bit of the night was when I bumped into Arsene and managed to muster the words 'I'm a big fan of yours' before forcing him into a hand shake. Well done Cesc, keep up the good work my son.

Sunday, 11 May 2008

Birthday card dilemma

It's always satisfying to end the season with a win and a clean sheet, one Theo Walcott goal being enough to see off a determined Sunderland side. All in all a total of eighty three points is pretty impressive by anyone's standards, it's just a shame that we couldn't have mustered five more. Manu won the title thanks to a Ronaldo penalty and a Giggs effort near full time which gave them a 2-0 away win at Wigan, it might not have been their day had Steve Bennett shown a bit of bottle and sent of Scholes for shoving a Wigan player when already on a booking. Obviously Manu thoroughly deserve their league title and it could never be said that luck or dubious refereeing have contributed to their success this year.

I am sure we're in for a speculative close season, how exciting, I can barely restrain myself from buying copies of all the tabloids to see who we're being linked with every day. It seems that some Arsenal commentators are becoming more deranged by the day (here I am referring to Myles Palmer and not the excellent Goodplaya of course), maybe the hot weather has a greater effect on the brains of arty farty fools. Maybe the club should just indulge our Gooner Championship Manager armchair experts by buying a few overpriced Turkeys in the summer, they would obviously then stop abusing their own players at the Emirates as the club had showed it's ambition by wasting money in an irresponsible and short sighted fashion.

On a lighter note, it was recently my birthday and one of my so called friends happens to be a Chelsea fan, and his sick idea of a joke involved buying me a signed photo of Ashley Cole in his lovely Chelsea shirt as a present, I am sure it was completely unrelated to the fact that I bought a delightful Arsenal card for his wife's birthday. Anyway I resisted my initial Neanderthal impulses to rip up the photo, spit on it and burn it. I got thinking, ethically what should one do with such a photo? Would a better option be to sell the photo to some sucker of a Chelsea fan on Ebay and then reinvest the money in Arsenal merchandise or perhaps a pint of cold ale? In this way I would be depriving a Chelsea fan of some money and increasing the quality of life of an Arsenal fan, while also helping Arsenal financially. Anyone got any opinion on this ethical dilemma?

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Ken Friar books long summer holiday

Arsene Wenger recently said this to the Arsenal's Supporters' Trust:

"I must say this year we had among the best attack but we have conceded 31 goals which is six or seven too many," he said. "It's as close as that to win the championship.
"We didn't give more goals away than any other team in the League on open play, nor on set pieces, but where we gave more goals away was on direct balls, in the air, through the middle, and most of the time on second balls.
"On set pieces and open play we were as good as Manchester United and Chelsea. The numbers are available. But we have to rectify how we deal with direct balls. When a team just goes for long, direct balls against us, we have to improve."

Its the usually sensible comments that Arsene is famous for. But he doesn't actually say anywhere that he wants to buy a centre-back. Nevertheless, and lets not let facts get in the way, that is how its been reported. Football 365 run it with the headline that "Arsene Wenger has confirmed that he is searching for a new centre-half". It may be the context of Ken Friar being busy on the phone gave the impression of lots of transfer activity this summer, but the quotes from Arsene don't actually say that at all. In fact, the Ken Friar bit didn't get quoted either.
Apparently its become gospel truth that Kolo Toure and William Gallas are now terrible players and we must sign someone else who is expensive. Immediately. Otherwise we will never win anything ever again and there will be blood on the streets of Islington.
Oh well. Its probably correct that if an excellent centre back was available for a decent price then we should try and get them. It would be nice but I doubt that's going to happen. Come what may, I'm more than happy to nail my colours to the mast and say that Kolo and Billy can work it out.
It appears though that Arsenal fans are now almost unanimous in their demands for a lot of money to be spent this summer. Theres no real consensus where it needs to be spent, but we all want the cheque book to come out big time. There were even a couple of morons at the Everton game chanting "no more kids, no more kids". Well go and watch Chelsea then.
Arsene Wenger has made his entire career based on spotting young talented footballers and playing them in the first XI when no one else would have dared. Any idiot can sign a player from Real Madrid for £30m. It takes unbelievable skill to spot a player at 16 and bring them through like he has done with people like Cesc Fabregas, Gael Clichy, Nic Anelka and Ashley Cole. Or to bring someone unknown from a foreign league like Bacary Sagna. The lists are endless.
Anyway. The cabin fever is clearly here to stay so its going to be a long summer of ranting for signings. Maybe clubs should run an X-Factor style contest to get some imbecile a contract with a bigger club. The morons would happily spend £5 a day each on phone votes to get Jimmy Bullard signed for ManUre ('parented' by Waren Barton in the Sharon Osborne role), or vote for David Bentley to go to Liverpool (you know its going to happen and you know it won't work). The Sun would love it.
Instead, if you actually read Arsene's quote, he just says that we were a bit shit against straight long balls. Yet again, it looks as if the so called football professor has been stealing his best lines from my posts again - its almost a quote from Nails and Stuff (shortly to be released in hardback). On the other hand, its patently obvious to anyone with eyes that we need to be better at dealing with straight long balls. But I reckon Arsene's a regular on AAB all the same.
I almost find it amusing that for all Arsenal's amazing football this season, the simple punt down the middle on the park has been our un-doing. There's no point in getting angry about it and I'm quite sure that anyone else we sign is going to make mistakes as well. We just need to think a bit more about our defending. We sorted ourselves out on set pieces and crosses, so why can't we deal with the long ball as well?

So, in other news, I am going to spend the summer writing a Myles Palmer style auto-biography about Me and Arsene. The blurb on the back cover will go something like this: "me and Arsene think along the same lines. I've never met Arsene but I always knew which substitutes he would bring on and when. Its spooky. Like we're twins or something. So I've written 300 pages of shite that you will regret buying......."
I'll put K-Man down for a pre-order of 10,000 copies.

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

No time for mincing

I reckon it's time to stop mincing around, this summer is a major crossroads for the club, the bull needs to be taken by the horns and we must push on. We simply cannot afford to have another disastrous close season where top players are missed out on and we are still panicking around in August with a squad that is not strong enough to launch a multi-pronged attack on all fronts.

The club needs to get a new managing director in who can bring in the men that Arsene wants and needs, ANR is right on this, however not with the rather stupid comments concerning Walcott never being a patch on Ashley Young. Flamini has gone, and there's no doubt that his contribution will be missed next season, although we do have some fantastic talent waiting to step into his postion.

As always the man known as Arseblogger has hit the nail firmly on the bonce, again, he rightly highlights Hleb's poor return over the last three years and thinks that we should get rid of anyone who is not 100% committed to the cause. I agree, Hleb needs to be shipped out, I suspect he will be and that Arsene is playing hard to get in order to extract a decent fee from the Milanese scummers.

So what should our plan for the summer be? I think we're reasonably equipped as far as goalkeepers are concerned, and Almunia has been one of the most consistent performers in the top flight this year. I see no problems at full back either. Arsene has already hinted that he wants to invest in a tall powerful centre back, and given our slight weakness defending in the air I think this will be a priority in the summer. Unfortunately for the lovely bloke that is big Phil, it appears that his time is up at Arsenal.

The midfield is a problem area. Flamini has gone, Hleb may well follow him, Eboue is not good enough to start, while Rosicky cannot stay fit for a full ninety let alone a full season. That leaves with only Cesc, Denilson, Gilberto, Song, Diaby, Walcott, Vela who have any top flight experience plus a few other youngsters who will be knocking on the first team door such as Traore, Gibbs, Wilshere et al. There are obviously some unknowns, such as where will Djorou play and will Toure be moved into the midfield if we bring a top centre back in from elsewhere? However it is clear to me that we need to bring in a top drawer wide midfielder who can score goals, such as Kranjar from Pompey, plus at least one more player of quality if Hleb is allowed to depart.

Up front I think we're pretty well equipped, assuming that Eduardo continues along his path towards a quick recovery and that RVP can stay relatively injury free for a whole season, as we have Adebayor and Bendtner who have come on bundles this season, plus Walcott who is able to play off a target man. Goals from our strikers have not been our problem this season, but a lack of goals from wide midfield and our propensity to leak soft goals have.

It's easy to sit on the fence and hint at solutions but much harder to come out with concrete plans, so here's what I'd do if anyone was stupid or mad enough to appoint me as Arsenal manager. I'd break the bank to bring in Micah Richards, he's a strong athletic beast who could help us become more formidable at the back. I'd make Pompey an offer they couldn't refuse for Nico Kranjar. I'd also be tempted to tease Antonio Valencia away from the JJB, he's quick, direct and would give us a bit of width down the right hand side. Having said that, Arsene will probably go out and buy three unknowns, then convert them into full internationals before September; stranger things have happened and reading Arsene's mind is not easy, after all if it was then he'd be easy to replace as our manager.

Monday, 5 May 2008

Bitty with mixed emotions

Another three points, albeit a slightly disjointed performance, but Everton are not the kind of side that will roll over and make it easy for you. The goal had a certain wham bam about it, a lovely bent cross from the exciting Traore and a thunderbolt of a header from Nic Bendtner, I don't know why but even watching that kind of goal is extremely satisfying, and I reckon it shows how this current Arsenal side has added another dimension of play to its armoury this season, we simply did not score goals like that a few years ago.

The positives from the performance must come from another mature beyond his years performance from Alex Song, who has a natural ability to read the game and an uncanny instinct at knowing where the danger is coming from next, from Traore's exciting cameo on the left flank and from Bendtner's predatory bonce. Theo is threatening teams when he starts now, which is a big step forward, obviously he still has a lot to learn, but he is on the right track. Denilson is a great talent too, I wish people would give him just a little room to breath, it must be remembered he's still a young kid who has missed the majority of the season through injury.

Mad Jens got the send off that he deserved, he can be a rude, obnoxious, arrogant and offensive man at times, but I love him for his formidable strength of character and he would not be the mighty mad Jens if he had no negative traits, he'd be a boring Alan Shearer like drone, and thank God he isn't that. Flamini is off, I won't get too upset by this, he's been a great professional and always knuckled down to give 100% no matter what has been asked of him, he has had a fantastic season too, but I just wonder whether he'll be quite as formidable for Milan as he has been for us. Anyway I bid him well, it just disappointing he didn't want to be part of something a bit more special at the Emirates.

Saturday, 3 May 2008

I wonder why?

I find it rather strange that Manchester United have given away only one penalty in the league, to Chelsea last week, and have only had two players sent off all season, Ronaldo and Nani. Some would argue that it is because of their rock solid defence and amazing discipline, however having watched them in action a few times this explanation appears a little detached from reality.

Nani's red card was pathetic, his attempt to avoid punishment for his head butt by feigning injury on the floor was beneath contempt. As Wrighty says, I wonder if old Nani will be vilified in the media to the same extent as an Arsenal player would have been for the same behaviour. I very much doubt it.

I have lost count of the number of times I've seen non Manchester United players sent off for two soft yellow card offences, Reo-Coker's red against Manu earlier this season sticks in the mind in particular, however when Tevez or Scholes commits their fifth dangerous lunge with studs showing the referee is always praised for showing common sense and keeping his cards firmly inside his top pocket. In particular Wes Brown, Vidic, Scholes, Tevez, Rooney and Hargreaves seem to frequently escape censure for some rather dangerous play.

The lack of punishment of Manchester United players for blatant intimidation and dissent is there for all to see. Who remembers Rooney telling Graham Poll to f*ck off about thirty times in one game? Owen Hargreaves seems to have taken over from Roy Keane in the intimidating of referee department, while players not coloured in Manchester red are sometimes sent off for the most minor of dissent. I am no fan of Chelsea, but at least the FA has had the guts to punish them for failing to control their players, however when Manu do the same the punishment is strangely absent. It's also strange that any brawls involving Arsenal are punished in ultra draconian fashion, while Manchester United brawls are simply brushed under the carpet.

And as for the penalties, this is really a little strange, I've lost count of the number of dodgy penalties we've had awarded against us this season, the Gallas 'handball' at Old Trafford and the Clichy's clean tackle at Birmingham stick in the mind in particular. I just wonder if those kind of decisions would have gone against Manu in the same circumstances?

Anyways if we're going to win the league we'll need to strengthen in a few areas and Arsene has been speaking out about the need for a bit more aerial power in defence, strongly hinting that he may well be in the market for a tall powerful centre back in the summer. It is also good news that we are going to report Inter Milan to FIFA for their dodgy tapping up of Alex Hleb, it's about time the powers that be clamped down on clubs that routinely break the rules concerning the approach of players under contract.

Friday, 2 May 2008

No ransom please

If one is to believe the incessant rumour mongering in the press then the Flamster is set to join AC Milan, he reportedly wants Arsenal to offer him 75 grand a week, if this is the case then the club should tell him to f*ck off. He's a good player, but the club should not be held to ransom by anyone, certainly not a player, and I have faith that if he does go, then Arsene will find a very capable replacement. Frankly I am also sick of the speculation, it also hurts that so few players seem to value anything other than money these days, whatever happened to loyalty and happiness?

The Bosman ruling was clearly a good thing as players should never have been slaves to clubs, but it seems that things have swung far too far in the other direction, as players have far too much power to walk away from clubs while under contract. I strongly believe that a contract should mean something, and that a player should respect this fact. It is not in the long term interests of football for so much power to be in the hands of the players.

I do not particularly enjoy feeding off rumour, however one that may have some basis concerns a Brazilian youngster named Diogo. Arsene clearly has his eye on South America and having failed with a hefty bid for Robinho a couple of years back, I can see a grain of truth in this one. While I'm indluging in rumour, one player I would like Arsene to sign is a certain Croat a Pompey.

Some news that didn't make the headlines by any means was the story of a few youngsters being promoted to the first team squad, amongst them Jack Wilshere. Henry Lansbury, Mark Randall and Kieran Gibbs were the others. Well done also to Jay Simpson who won the league one player of the season for his outstanding performances at Millwall, quite an achievement. It's not easy to make it at Arsenal but there is certainly a lot of talent emerging that will add a bit of depth to the squad for next season. Sometimes the most exciting additions to the squad happen under our noses without us really noticing, remember a certain young Spaniard?