Friday, 27 February 2009

Adebayor for Chairman of RBS

I wish I had a £650k pension. I wonder what kind of pension package Adebayor is going to have, given that he was thinking about retirement was back in the summer. Maybe Ade should run RBS – that’s be great.

Even though Arsenal still managed to generate increased profit, and delivered a very healthy set of financials for last year, the Telegraph still focused on the looming property loan repayment as a major cloud on the horizon. P Diddy-Wood didn’t hide from the matter in his Executive Statement, stating that we will need to look to extend the terms of the loan;

We are at a preliminary stage of discussions with the banking syndicate about an appropriate extension. In the current financial climate we do not expect these discussions to be concluded quickly, an increased cost is likely to be involved and there can be no certainty that a satisfactory agreement will be reached, but we believe that a positive outcome will be achieved in due course

I don’t think the distinct lack of optimism in his words should cause too much concern, but they certainly do reflect the difficulty in obtaining credit in the current market. And the thing to note, is if we are concerned with extending a £130m loan on some properties of which we have sold a great deal, imagine the difficulties Liverpool are going to have in extending a £350m loan which underpins their whole business. Granted, things aren’t as rosy as they could be but they could be a whole lot more shit-hued if we were Scousers. Or Spuds.

In other news, it appears Arse TV-online is free on matchday this weekend. Although I won’t get the advantage of this (as I’ll be getting to experience the wrath of Stinky-man who sits by us at The Emirates every time Bendtner even thinks about touching the ball) it is good to see the club starting to try more fan-friendly endeavours. The fact they have engaged some blogs to push this promotion also shows a willingness to engage with their on-line demographic. Good stuff – just never place any weight on anything on this blog. Or other ones which rhyme with Le Krove.

Oh, and in a turn of events less predictable than winner of the annual Arsenal Tigger-lookalike competition, Diaby has injured himself again. Useless bastard.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Arsenal 1 - 0 Roma. Half way to Rome?

A much improved performance from pretty much every player on the pitch. And also a much improved atmosphere within the stadium to recent weeks as well. It does make you realise how much fun the Champions League can be, and how important it can be to maintaining the support of the fans. We do get fed up watching rubbish like West Brom coming to park the bus in front of our misfiring strikers. But a team with Totti, De Rossi and Baptista trying to play some football suits both our players and our fans more.

So, as the song goes, we're on our way to Rome (obviously the song doesn't quite go like that) and I am pretty sure we know how to get there for the next leg. Here's hoping we'll find a way to be back there in a few months time.

To the game itself – the intensity in our play from the first whistle was spot-on. We played with a high tempo and looked to carry the ball forward at every opportunity. On the few chances Roma threatened Almunia looked like the #1 so many claim we are lacking. Diaby and Eboue both carried the ball with feet, and with Nasri roaming the pitch and Denilson mopping up and keeping the ball circulating it was hard to see how we have struggled in recent weeks.

I personally felt that Roma were walking a red-card tightrope very early on – some highly cynical “tackles” and an x-rated lunge from De Rossi on Nasri set the tone. But this was Europe and the referees are, unbelievable, worse than the standard wanker-in-the-black we get every Saturday. Theatrical tumbles were rewarded with free-kicks, the second half kicked off with 9 Arsenal players on the pitch (poor Kolo has to leave the changing room last, and I think Billy was just dropping the kids off at the pool) and somehow Mexes wasn’t sent off for bringing down Van Persie when already on a yellow.

However, as is the way of the Arsenal and us Gooners this season there were some complaints. We didn’t take our chances (Bendtner and Eboue the most guilty) and dropped the pace in the last 20 when Song came on. I personally would have put Rambo in there, as he is more suited to replicating the more expansive style of Diaby. News on his injury will be important as the difference in our style when he starts ahead of Song is noticeable.

All in all a good night, and the best overall performance for many a week. I am sure we will follow this up with a spineless 0-0 against Fulham this weekend, but such is a Gooner’s lot.

Sunday, 22 February 2009

The goals have dried up

Robin Van Persie 9 goals in 19 starts

Adebayor 8 goals in 20 starts

Bendtner 3 goals in 10 starts

Nasri 5 goals in 20 starts

I think the above statistics tell the story of our recent problem in scoring goals. While no one can deny that RVP has scored some absolute crackers and put in some very good performances, his goal scoring record could still do with a bit of improvement, the same goes for Ade and Bendtner.

The lack of goals from elsewhere is rather obvious. Without Nasri we've hardly had a goal from a midfielder all season. Obviously the injuries to Walcott and Fabregas have not helped, but they were hardly banging them in before they hit the treatment table were they?

It's easy to try to put it down to one thing, but I think too many things have gone wrong this year to do that. The strikers have been very wasteful in my opinion, the media loves to talk of the lack of creativity without Fabregas, but I think that is just lazy talk, it hasn't stopped our strikers missing sitter after sitter in recent weeks. Eboue's lack of end product is another cause, there's a lot of huff and puff without any end product.

Something Alan Hansen said on MOTD last night rang true, we do lack a bit of tempo and urgency at times, it's all a bit too ponderous and predictable, we need to mix it up with a bit more variety and a bit more directness at times. The centre of midfield doesn't look right, it looked right against West Ham with Diaby dominating the show, but again we were let down by some rather poor finishing again.

There are just too many ifs and buts at the moment. If only Diaby and Eduardo could get fit and stay fit, then I feel we'd have a bit more drive and a bit more razor sharpness in the box. The problem is that if you are going to challenge for the league, you need a squad with more strength in depth. The loss of our midfield drivers in the form of Flamini and Gilberto in the sumer, combined with the intermittent absence of Diaby through niggling injury has left our ship rudderless and lacking direction. The problem is that it's not just a rudder we need at the moment, we need a canon that doesn't fire blanks.

Saturday, 21 February 2009

More points dropped, bollocks

I finally got a half day without having to work and it resulted in a very frustrating (again) ninety five minutes of football indeed. There's no doubt that there were some positives, but there were at least as many negatives from a game which we really had to win if we are to push up the table and try to secure a Champions League slot for next year.

I'll start with the positives, I though Arshavin had a very solid debut, he made some excellent bursts and almost scored with a cracking left footer in the first half. I also thought Nasri had another productive game, he really has developed nicely this season. Almunia didn't put a foot wrong, while we did secure another clean sheet, I am slightly disappointed that Johan Djourou has lost his starting place, he really doesn't deserve to be on the bench given his performances this season. Toure is looking fitter and sharper than he does for a while, and Bendtner had a decent game for Bendtner, but that's not saying much.

The performances wasn't great, but it wasn't terrible, we definitely created enough to have won this game rather comfortably, it's simply unforgivable to miss so many clear cut chances at this level and it's becoming a rather worrying recurring trend. RVP missed when clean through in the first half, Bendtner forced the save of the match with a terrific downward header also in the first half, Toure had one cleared off the line, while Arshavin went close twice. In the second half RVP again squandered some decent openings, Vela too, then Gallas at the death.

If we had had a fit Diaby alongside Denilson running the midfield show I feel the three points would most likely have been ours, Song does not deserve to be scapegoated, however he is clearly not Arsenal starting quality, he's a decent squad player in my opinion. However it was not just the centre of midfield that let us down, it was out inability to put the ball in the back of the net, I know RVP has taken the plaudits at times this season but he really should have scored many more goals than he has done, while Bendtner's goalscoring record is not good enough.

It will be interesting to see what happens when everyone gets back to full fitness. I'd like to see Diaby return in the middle, Arshavin continue on the right, with Eduardo slotting in up top. I also wonder if Gael Clichy is sweating a little over the rapid progress of his young understudy Kieran Gibbs. I'm immensely frustrated but determined to try not to wallow in self pity and gloom, there's certainly plenty of room for improvement but we have been on a slow upward curve of late. If only we could start putting the ball in the back of the old onion bag.

Time for Action

There has been a lot of talk recently that there are signs this Arsenal team is beginning, at long last, to show some improvement. We are not conceeding so often at the back, Denilson/Song/Nasri have 20 games experience under their belts, and with Eduardo/Arshavin/Walcott/Fabregas all just around the corner, there is going to be real competition for places in the team.

Well this weekend is about turning some of that potential into actual progress. With the intriguing Aston Villa / Chelsea game the early kick off, Arsenal will have the small advantage of knowing that result before playing Sunderland. Plus the good thing about the Villa / Chelsea game is that its hard to see how there can be a bad result for Arsenal - the top 4 cannot all win this weekend. And that means we can make some progress to shorten the gap, so long as we beat Sunderland. And beat them we must.

There has also been a lot of negative talk on other blogs about Adebayor this week. Some of the criticism directed at him is justified - it is not controversial to say that the player we have seen this season seems a shadow of what we saw last season. I have criticised him this season for not taking the knocks. But I think we have to be very careful about being too critical of Ade.

No striker scores every game, and even during periods last season when Ade didn't score, the "he's shit" brigade immediately found their voice. The events over the summer did not help matters - it was a PR disaster for Ade, and now, with his fat contract and retirement planning firmly in hand, people seem to expect that Ade will score every chance that comes his way and play terrific football in every game.

Well life is just not like that ladies and gentleman. Adebayor played most of last season in front of Cesc Fabregas, who had a blinding campaign, and with Hleb on one wing and Rosicky on the other for the first half, with an impressive Walcott coming through during the later stages.

This season Ade has been playing in front of more modest fare for most of it. Yes, he could do more to up his work-rate this season, yes, it does seem like he is not giving 100% in every game and that is not acceptable, but for me, if you a going to cast Adebayor into the pit of shiteness, then you need to be able to point at someone else who we could go and sign who will produce the goals.

Adebayor has scored 8 Premier League goals this season, which is not great, but thats the same as Torres and more than Berbatov, Rooney and Tevez. Adebayor is therefore not doing any worse than the other so-called £30m strikers in the league.

In these days when most Arsenal fans are determined to see the worst in everything, I think people have got to remind themselves that what Wenger has done with a £5m player who wasn't scoring goals at Monaco when we signed him is absolutely fantastic.

Adebayor is a top class player and on his day is almost unstoppable. If we can get him fired up before the end of the season, then he could make the difference for us. Maybe a bit more support from the fans wouldn't hurt?

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Nasri in bus seat shocker!

Thursday 19th February is clearly known as bullshit day on Fleet Street (not that any of the papers are actually on Fleet Street anymore), but we have been treated to the The Star going with an Adebayor to Barcelona in the summer story, The Mirror says we are interested in signing Huntelaar from Real, and the The Sun reckons we are after a young bloke from PSG called Mamadou Sakho who Wenger has "been tracking", presumably like a deer over the Scottish Highlands.

On top of that, its widely reported today that Arsenal's first pay offer to Walcott is well below the £50,000 a week that he wants (I bet not by much and I wish Walscott's agent would keep this shite out of the press) and to cap it all off, there is stuff surfacing today that the person who had a bust up with William Gallas in the French squad in Euro 2008, who everyone knew at the time was Samir Nasri, was, in fact, none other than.....Samir Nasri. Amazing.

However, what is great about the Nasri / Gallas bust-up is it apparently kicked-off because Nasri sat in the seat on the team bus that was usually reserved for Thierry Henry, but Henry had been out of the team for a bit and therefore had not been on the bus much, so Nasri had been sitting there. Some time later, when Mr Prima Donna Henry returned to the team and wanted his seat back, Nasri didn't move quite fast enough, so all the old guard French players had a massive strop at him. Unbelievable.

I can't help thinking that the two people who come out of this farcical piece of childish behaviour are Messieurs Henry et Gallas. What a bunch of prized twats they are. In fact, I quite like the fact that Nasri initially refused to move seats - why the fuck would it matter where you sit on the bus? Your professional footballers representing your country in Euro 2008. Grow up.

It does also echo somewhat with Henry's general level of crap behaviour in his last season at Arsenal, where he spent most of the season shouting at his team mates and generally blaming everyone else. This also confirms impression that both Henry and Gallas were not good choices for the Arsenal captaincy. I may be wrong, but I just wouldn't expect Cesc Fabregas to have a "favourite seat on the bus", or to get a strop on if someone else was sitting in it.

At least the England team fall out over proper stuff, like losing massive amounts of money to each other playing cards, or from catching STDs in Wayne Rooney's latest granny-gang-bang. At least that is the sort of stuff that the kids in Essex can aspire to.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Never trust a fat, sweaty Uzbeki bearing gifts……?

Even though all Gooners can probably still hear “HE CAME TO US WHEN HENRY LEFT….” Ringing around the very chambers of our hearts, the big sweaty Uzbeki may be about to darken our days once more.

Although he does not yet have the blocking stake we all assume he is aiming for, he is making the moves to ensure that come the end of the lockdown, he is in prime position to snaffle up the 4.9% he needs. Various news reports and bloggers have gone over the details of this already, but is there actually a consensus on whether his involvement is prima facie a Bad Thing?

Certainly he is of dubious moral standing (well it’s not dubious – he’s an odious stain on the earth), but could we not do with any financial support he would bring? We did get Arshavin, but maybe at the cost of winning 4 more points in January if we had stumped up cash earlier and had him eligible. Yes we saved money, but at what cost to our final league position come May? Would a bit of oil-stained Uzbeki money have come in handy – probably.

Also, as it becomes clear that Man Utd’s squad is just too strong in depth (and let’s not forget that they have spent at least £15m on every one of their first team squad, and are only now bringing through homegrown “talent” like Wellbeck and Gibson) it is likely that we are going to need to spend consistently, not excessively, to sustain a challenge. And no matter what PHW says, we don’t seem to be in a position to do that at the moment.

Now I do not want Arsenal to be taken over, and am proud of our current status as a self-supporting club. But the football world is changing, maybe for the worse maybe for the better, and there is a risk of being left behind as a relic of an older more decent age. Should we accept Uzmanov’s intentions, or woo Kroenke?

Something to mull over in the quiet before the weekend…

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Eduardo brings a glimmer of Silva

Let's not get carried away just yet, but that was an excellent performance from Arsenal last night.

The patchy team news before the game was, perhaps, deliberately so as Eduardo was given his long awaited comeback from the start with minimum media spotlight before the game. Wenger also picked the midfield formation that many have been crying-out for in recent months, with Vela and Nasri on the wings, charging forward with the solid forms of Denilson and Song in the middle. The passing and movement were, at times, first class and Cardiff had no answer. It really could have been six or seven nil and Cardiff could have no real complaints.

I had also forgotten just how good Eduardo is. His movement, control and passing are simply in a different league to that of Bendnter, and I am not being overly critical of the young Dane. Eduardo is simply top class and is technically a far better player than Adebayor too. Whilst Eduardo may not have the physical size of Ade or Nikki B, he his far more adept in making his runs, using his skill and strength when it suits. But first and foremost, Eduardo is a threat around the box. As soon as he gets a sniff of a chance, he wants to score.

That is a completely different instinct to Ade and Nikki at the moment, who seem to be playing deeper and deeper in their desire to get more time on the ball. With both of them playing indifferent football this season, if Eduardo can put another performance like this under his belt, then he will be making a very strong case to be first choice alongside RVP. Hopefully that will also be the massive kick up the arse that Adebayor clearly needs as well.

Whilst Song did not have his best game in an Arsenal shirt, it would seem churlish to dwell on that. Nasri was a livewire, especially in the first half, and it was great to see Arsenal get on the offensive straight from the start. Lets hope we take this momentum into the Sunderland game on Saturday.

Its also going to get interesting when Walcott, Arshavin and Cesc are available. Whilst we can all worry how that team selection issue will resolve itself, lets not overlook that Arsenal have had an appalling injury record over recent seasons, so the idea of having some genuine competition for places will be a relative novelty. If it also means that the services of Comrade Eboue are no longer required in midfield, then thats fine by me.

One odd thing last night was the massive police presence around the Emirates. Clearly the taffs like getting drunk and having a fight, but this was the biggest policing operation I have ever seen at an Arsenal home game and forcing the pubs around the ground to close after the game seemed a bit OTT.

Lastly, big shout out for Amaury Bischoff. What a player he is going to be. The natural successor to Stefan Malz has, at last, arrived. You should be able to watch him most Sunday's on the Hackney Marsh from 2012 onwards.

Monday, 16 February 2009

Cardiff Preview

I think I have already made my feelings on tonights 4th round replay against Cardiff clear enough. Now that we know we would face Burnley at home in the 5th round and then Hull / Sheffied Utd in the quarter final, also at home, then we can see a clear line to the semi finals already.

Team news is patchy at the moment, but with Adebayor, Eboue and Diaby all out, Ramsey and Eduardo considered unlikely to be ready to start the game, and RVP thought to need another rest, the team is going to be a million miles from our strongest XI.

That probably means a starting chance for Vela, Bendtner and maybe also Wilshere. Whilst those guys are capable on taking Cardiff apart, I am also nervous that the fringe players are going to try too hard to impress on this, one of their bigger chances. A lot therefore rests on the more experienced players to take the responsibility for the game, which alarmingly means Denilson, Song and Nasri in the midfield positions, who are not exactly veterans of long campaigns.

That said, our back 5 is looking too solid for Cardiff to threaten for long periods of the game, which should give us a platform to attack. Its long been said, but this time its true - Wilshere only has to stay on the pitch for more than 25 minutes to be more effective that Eboue.

Lets get at them straight from the whistle. It would be nice to be writing a positive match report for a change tomorrow.

Friday, 13 February 2009

Villa Clouds and Silver Linings

Friday, Friday, Friday. Where does the week go? Its almost half way through February already, it will be Spring soon and there is almost nothing of the season left and we have nothing to play for.

Stop right there. There is a massive amount left of this season. I think we were still top of the table at this stage last year, and then look what happened. I am sure there will more to come this season.

The defence, for the first time in years, is looking quite competent at the moment. That is a real bonus for sure. It is also the platform upon which we can build our attacking game, which has been suffering a bit of late.

Given that most of the players will have been involved in the internationals this week, I think we can expect Wenger to make some changes for Monday night's game against Cardiff. The talk is that Wilshere might play on the right, which would be an exciting prospect for the lad. Because make no mistake, the arrival of Arshavin at the club and the imminent return of Walcott to fitness will mean Wilshere is unlikely to get many other opportunities to start games, other than the Carling Cup.

But the focus has got to be on winning the game on Monday, not on giving Wilshere a chance. If he is the best player available on the night, then fine, play him. But I would now like to see Arsenal take the FA Cup seriously this season. The next round against Burnley at home, whilst not to be underestimated, means that we should be looking at a Quarter Final place. If we can get a bit of luck in the draw, then who knows. As things stand, I would love to win the FA Cup this year.

Whisper it quietly, don't tell anyone, but we stand as good a chance as any to win the Champions League as well. The only team that worries me is Barcelona. Can we take Man Utd, Liverpool or Chelsea on the day? We know we can.

That, of course, leaves the small detail of the Premier League. And even old Ted is struggling to be optimistic about that. The fly in the ointment is Aston Villa. No-one said they could stay the distance this far, but they have proved a lot of people wrong so far. Chelsea have to go to Villa Park next Saturday and my money is against Chelsea getting three points. The Hiddink factor may get Chelsea a draw, but I can equally see a scabby late goal by Milner winning it for them. In contrast to Tony Adams, who seems to have a curse on his managerial career, Martin O'Neil is a lucky manager. I really don't think Villa are out of contention for the title.

If Arsenal can, at last, sort out some offensive weapons to complement our solid defensive base, then we can climb up the table. So long as we beat Sunderland, then the worst case scenario is that we are 4 behind Villa (if Chelsea win). We will only be 2 behind Chelsea if Villa win.

And thats why I am now hoping for Aston Villa's success to continue. Chelsea in 5th place having spent £400m - now that's worth fighting for.....

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

You're Fired!

In these crazy days where employees of failed banks are taking tax-payers money as hyper-inflated bonuses, I find it amazing to see how regularly football managers get sacked for "failure".

Tony Adams and Phil Scolari are the latest victims of the short-term narrow minded clubs, for whom everything is about results over the last couple of games. Its worth having a quick look at both of their situations.

Phil Scolari inherited a strong Chelsea side from Avram Grant, who was himself sacked in bizarre circumstances following Chelsea's last-ditch 'failures' to land the League and Champions League titles last season. In the meantime, Big Phil Scolari has lost a whole host of players who (quite rightly) are seeking some mud on their boots during games to go with their fat pay cheques. I don't see how Scolari can be blamed for losing SWP to Man City, missing out on Robinho, or Joe Cole getting injured. Equally, he is not responsible for signing dross players like Malouda (Mourinho). However, the net result is that Chelsea have had no width whatsoever all season and the cheque book has been closed on him. Scolari had one week using Queresma in the squad (on loan from Inter) before getting sacked.

Now, I am not going to say that Scolari is a great manager, but I think Chelsea have completed got what they deserved after sacking Avram Grant, who was a respectable man who got Chelsea playing some attractive football after several years of Mourinho's brand of expensive, boring shite. Its a tough gig for anyone to go into Chelsea now and I hope that they are now in the decline.

Similarly, Tony Adams is the latest victim of a bizarre merry go round at Pompey. To get the sack after 17 games is a joke. Especially when Diarra and Defoe were sold and no money was released for new players. Pompey were 5 minutes away from beating Liverpool on Saturday and I really don't understand what more he could have done.

Of the top six teams in the league, its no surprise that it is comprised of 5 of the 6 longest serving managers - Ferguson, Wenger, Moyes, Benitez and O'Neill. Perhaps amazingly, Gareth Southgate completes that list - having been appointed by Boro in June 2006. All of them, even Fergie, has had his rough patches. But it is yet another reminder that long term success is built on long term stability at football clubs.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Spurs 0-0. No thanks no Comrade Eboue

The dust has not settled yet on this afternoon's 0-0 draw at Shite Hart Lane, but my immediate reaction is that despite a great deal of frustration, we have done bloody well to escape with a point from a Spurs team that was desperate to win.

The headlines are not going to be pretty. Arsenal were pretty poor during the opening exchanges and gave the ball away a lot. That said, there were one or two bright moments and Eboue was finding some joy drifting onto the left wing. In fact, I saw nothing wrong with the goal which was disallowed by Mike Riley, although replays showed there was the slightest of pushes in Woodgate's back. But the massive talking points are Eboue's red card and Adebayor's injury.

The fact that Eboue managed to get a yellow card for dissent early on in the game was pretty stupid. But even as an Arsenal fan I thought he was being a prick towards the ref, constantly going back to the incident and bizarrely trying to make a one man wall where the free kick was being taken from. But having got a silly yellow card, Eboue kicked out at the rat-faced Modric and sent him spinning to the ground. The fact that Modric had trod on Eboue's toe whilst going for the ball seemed to be the reason the red mist descended in Eboue's pea sized brain, but the ref had no choice but to give Eboue a second yellow.

With Arshavin now available and Walcott hopefully back sooner rather than later, this has got to be the end of the road for Eboue. He is a complete twat for making a difficult job all the harder for the rest of the team.

The other piece of bad news was Adebayor pulling up with a hamstring injury in the middle of the first half. I thought it was odd at the time, as it didn't look like he had really hurt himself. I was half expecting the magic sponge to allow him back on the pitch. Anyway, he went off on a stretcher and was replaced by Bendtner, who did his usual routine of frustrating nothing mixed in with occassion moments of looking ok. What surprised me though were the pictures of Ade climbing the stairs back to the dug-out later in the game. I guess his leg may have been heavily strapped under his tracksuit, but he didn't look that bothered. And neither did his team mates as he came to sit down next to them.

Now, I don't think that Ade faked his injury, but I am very unconvinced by him this season. Whilst Dawson took a heavy knock in the first half and was visibly wincing with pain, I am not sure there are many Arsenal players out there who can take a knock and continue the game. Sagna and Kolo are pretty tough, but not many others. Ade, on the otherhand, is turning into a massive jessy. There is something of a sick note culture at Arsenal. If you feel the slightest twinge, or you realise you are not as fast as Corluka, you take a precautionary early bath and look after yourself. As Ade made clear over the Summer, he has retirement planning to get on with.

Anyway, enough of that. The second half was generally much better, and the 10 players left on the pitch did very well. We may have even sneaked a goal towards the end, but massive credit to Almunia as well, who made an excellent save against Modric in extra time.

Mixed feelings overall. A lot of relief that we didn't lose but also a lot of anger that Eboue, yet again, behaved like an utter tit.

Friday, 6 February 2009

Keep it understated

The big game is getting closer and unlike Tottenham have done so far, I'd be pleased if we kept a nice low profile before Sunday. I think it's a cunning move to let the attention stay focused on the spuds, Keane and his fellow scummers can take the spot light, let's leave them to it. The more the spuds big up their own chances, the more the pressure will be on them, and that's great for us no doubt.

Despite all 19 other Premiership clubs having no doubts over the legality of the Arshavin deal, it seems Steve Coppell knows better, I wonder if he's a psychic or whether he's just mouthing off without engaging the old grey cells. Arseblog hits the nail on the head, maybe Mr Coppell is just a very bitter old man.

Sunday's game is huge, we really need the three points and the scum will be right up for it. We'll need to weather the inevitable early storm, so it will be a good test of our slightly more solid defence. We need all our big guns firing, Ade needs to start working as hard as he used to, while the youngsters in midfield will need to be up for a fight. Diaby's absence is a big loss after his sterling performance last week, while I can't see Arshavin starting but don't rule out him being used as a game changing substitute. Come on you reds!

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

The Weekly Chunter

Afternoon all. So, we've signed a midget Russian for £15m who played quite well in the Russian league and put in a couple of good performances in Euro 2008.

Now, whilst I suspect Arshavin is going to turn out to be a good signing, and not the new John Jensen, we must not expect too much him this season. If he hits the ground running, then great. But lets not wobble like Rafa's belly if he takes some time to adjust.

Speaking of Rafa the Kebab-King, Robbie Keane's transfers to-and-from Liverpool within 6 months has got to be one of the weirdest episodes of all time. I wonder how much Liverpool's dire financial situation has to do with this?

Anyway, whilst we bask in the glory of Arsene actually dusting down the cheque book and signing a player, its sneaked out in the press that the first round of negotiations for the Premier League's TV contract have concluded, apparently with Sky paying £1bn for a 92 game per season deal. Sounds good doesn't it? Lots of lovely new money for the clubs to spend. Well I am not so sure.

Football finance is a popular hobby horse on this blog, and whilst we know virtually nothing about it, lets not let any minor details like that get in the way. So here is what we know so far. The Premier League TV rights deal is apparently split into 6 "packages" of coverage rights for live games, which are each sold to the highest bidder, so long as no single company has more than 5 packages in order to comply with EU competition law prohibitions.

Sky have apparently secured 4 "packages" in the first round of bidding, leaving another 2 up for grabs, with Setanta and ESPN rumoured to be interested. Now, the point is that the Premier League trousered £1.7 bn for the six packages during the last round of negotiations in 2006. Sky paid £1.3bn for their 4 packages in 2006.

Therefore, on a simplistic view, Sky's contribution to the pot is already down by over 23%, and unless a bidding war starts between Setanta and ESPN, the overall figure will be much worse.

Again, "who cares" I hear you cry, "its tons of money". Well, the point is that for those few clubs who actually run themselves as a genuine business, such as Arsenal, there will be at least 20% less income next year compared to this year in relation to the money feeding down from the Premier league deal. If that is reflective of what will happen elsewhere in terms of clubs' projected income, then on a current turnover of £250m that means there will be £50m less going through the books next year.

For me, that is a scary thought and this says two things loud and clear:

1. Those clubs that do not run themselves as a business need to really watch out. That is most of the league.

2. This is why we didn't just pay the £20m that Zenit wanted for Arshavin on 1 January. People who do not regulate their spending will go bust.

Lets hope Spurs are the first against the wall. I wonder if Ladbrokes offer odds on this sort of thing....

Monday, 2 February 2009

Arshavin signs

On, off, on, and finally confirmed by the one trustworthy news source that doesn't speak out if its derriere. Hallelujah.

Throughout this saga we've learnt a fair bit about a fair few people. In fact quite a few so called Gooners were slagging off the club, board and manager for having let down the fans; maybe they should have remained patient and saved their comments until the facts had emerged. The mainstream media was also shown to be nothing more than a hollow talking shop full of largely gossip and rumour, very little fact seemed to permeate into the hundreds of stores we've read over the past few days.

Anyway we've got our man, he might not quite be a Palacios or a Bentley, or even a Chimbonda, but he has just about enough quality to push Eboue for a slot in the side.

Arse and chaving

The absolute bullshit in the news this morning makes the media appear very very stupid indeed. It seems that researching a story properly, getting some evidence to back up ones claims and writing something that has a vague basis in fact is very much beyond most hacks these days. A share of the blame must go to the idiots who swallow each different story as if it were true, does experience teach these morons nothing?

The various reports have never added up because there are so many vested interests at work here, the media want to draw in punters, the player and clubs all want as much cash as possible. Goonerboy's interpretation of events appears reasonable to me. Frankly I'd advise you all to wait and see what has happened by the time the window has closed, then make your comments then, otherwise egg is likely to appear on several faces.

Elsewhere I have heard from an important source close to myself that the mainstream media are desperate bastards who will write anything, no matter how untrue, in order to sell papers and attract visitors to their websites. This close source also advises people from taking anything written on these scurrilous websites too seriously, it's not goood for your health and you could certainly spend the time more productively doing other things, such as having a crap.