Thursday 30 July 2009

Poker face?

It never ceases to amaze me just how much criticism Arsene gets at times, imagine if he had actually had a really bad season, by that I mean a Tottenham style season, he would then deserve some stick, but just remember what he's done with limited resources and how the club has been transformed in recent years. So many clubs have spent so much more money on players and achieved so much less than us, this should always be remembered.

Anyways moving on, it appears that Arsene is keeping his eye on the market and there are a few 'possibilities' out there, so any doom mongers who have given up all hope of any more signings will probably have been heartened by this news and Arsene's cheeky little smile at the end of this interview. Our squad is actually pretty large, we can play two very decent sides and still have good internationals left over. I do agree that we do lack a balance in out midfield, Song is the only player there who can really get stuck in and defend, we need more balance to the squad in this regard I feel.

I am completely with Arsene on this one, in that I do not want to see us go out and pay stupid 'Man City' style money on players who are no better than we already have at the club. Some of us have pointed out how we would probably be very excited if we had just signed a young talented Brazilian central midfielder for 25 million, we would do well to remember that we already have a lot of talent at the club. Money does not a player make, one great recent example of this was the ratty one Mr David Bentley.

I particularly enjoyed reading what Walter Smith had to say about Arsene, it made very pleasant reading indeed and it comes from a highly respected and experienced manager:

"Arsene isn't somebody who came in and discarded everyone right away but still did very well. That's good management and I think you can look at him as one of the best we've had in Britain over the last 25 years or so."

Tuesday 28 July 2009

Bye bye King Kolo

I still remember Kolo's debut season, the dates and the opposition don't immediately spring to mind, what stands out in my memory is the amazing enthusiasm that this young lad from the Ivory Coast showed every time he pulled on an Arsenal shirt. He started out as a bit part player, sometimes on the wing and sometimes at full back, he was initially rash, his raw enthusiasm sometimes getting the better of him as he scythed down members of the opposition in a rather reckless manner. However one thing that can be sure is that from those early moments Kolo gained a special place in our Arsenal hearts.

Kolo's enthusiasm was the reason he became a fantastic centre back for us, he worked prodigiously hard to make the best of his talents, those being his raw pace and athleticism, not forgetting his fairly decent right foot. He really came into his own when he partnered Sol Campbell in the 2003/4 season, personally I remember his outstanding performance in the Charity Shield that year, it set the tone for a brilliant season. Campbell was the big strong organiser, while Kolo mopped up the bits, it was a fantastic partnership and mix of abilities.

There have been many great moments since, the nearly Champions League final, the nearly League titles, an FA Cup and much much more than can be put down in words and numbers. He gave away the penalty that saw Liverpool knock us out of the Champions League at Anfield, Kolo was conned by the cheating Babel, how close King Kolo came to bringing the biggest Club trophy of all back home.

The Kolo Toure that we have seen in recent months has not been the Kolo Toure I wish to remember, he has been a shadow of his former self, injuries have certainly not helped, a falling out with William Gallas also played its part, he has looked overweight and unusually cumbersome, slow on the turn and indecisive, most definitely not the Kolo of old. He is now 28 and appears to be well down the pecking order of centre backs at the club, so who can blame him for wanting first team football and a decent pay packet as part of his last big contract.

As it now looks like you're on the verge of joining City I'd like to say a big thanks for the memories King Kolo, you have served the club with great commitment and unparalleled enthusiasm. I will always remember you as that young winger who flew into tackles as if there was no tomorrow, there was always a smile on your face, that's why you got away with yellow cards when the tackles merited reds, it was obvious to even the referee that you are a lovely genuine chap. Thanks and good luck King Kolo.

Good on yer Tel!

It never sounded particularly true that Theirry Henry would have helped out the gruesome 'Arry Redknapp by advising him to sign Patrick Vieira, and indeed so much is Tel's love for Arsenal that he has felt the need to come out and openly declare that he would never help Tottenham in any way. Very well done that man:

"I am Arsenal through and through. I'd never advise anyone to sign for Tottenham,"
"I can't have Arsenal fans thinking I am helping Tottenham in any way. The truth is I was talking to Spurs boss Harry Redknapp and he told me he was trying to sign Patrick from Inter Milan."

"I was very surprised because Patrick is like me. He loves Arsenal."

"I just said that Patrick would be a brilliant signing. But I also made it clear I would be shocked if it happened."

Mind you, all that Tel says is not gold. He seems under some kind of bizarre illusion at the moment which makes him think that Barca's recent success has been based mainly on developing their own young players:

"Just look at Barcelona. We won the treble this year and proved you can succeed by developing your own players and blending them with one or two expensive signings."

A bit detached from reality to say the least Tel. Marquez, Abidal, Alves, Pique, Toure, Henry, Silvinho, Gudjohnsen, Eto'o, Puyol, say no more. True they have four youth team products in their first eleven in Messi, Xavi, Iniesta and Valdes; but to ignore the fact that they have brought in a lot of expensive talent from elsewhere is rather disingenuous. After all when does a player become a product of one's youth system? If they are brought in at 11 years old, is that so different to coming in at 15? You see my point.

Monday 27 July 2009

Zombies versus Gooners and more news

As I wait for kick off I felt the need to comment on John Terry's pathetic defense of his extensive silence, is there a single soul alive who believes that this despicable chav loves Chelsea as his thieving mother? If Terry loved Chelsea he would have spoken out immediately to refute the rumours, he did not, he was silent, his silence spoke volumes for me. This will undoubtedly mean that the Toure-City rumours will not go away. Fergie revealed in the Sunday papers that Adebayor tried to dump city for United having agreed terms with City, that'll further endear him with the City fans I feel.

Elsewhere poor old John Hartson is apparently improving following brain surgery for testicular cancer that has spread, best of luck John. The shoddy media coverage of the shady Usmanov and his underlings has been commented upon here recently, read Arseblogger's essential piece on the BBC's appalling conflicts of interest in this regard, the 'Holic also has some interesting things to say too. Overall it's pathetic what gets passed off as 'journalism' at times, the BBC should now much better than allowing this propaganda to be passed off as objective reporting.

The starting line up against Szombathelyi Haladas was Mannone, Eboue, Toure, Djourou, Traore, Wilshere, Denilson, Ramsey, Song, Eduardo, Bendtner. Obviously there was a fair bit of rust on show, the centre backs didn't look at their sharpest positionally, of note it was fantastic to see Eduardo back and raring to go. A neat move saw us concede early on but the linesman was generous, the goal disallowed. Traore, who looked excellent offensively, supplied a great cross which Bendtner headed firmly and low into the net, 1-0. Eduardo dispatched a second not long after the first, firing into the bottom corner from the edge of the box, the keeper had no chance, 2-0. Eduardo particularly shone, looking keen to get on the ball at all times and razor sharp in front of goal, one stinging left foot volley from an angle demonstrative of the natural finesse in front of goal that this man possesses. Song looked strong in central midfield.

The Hungarians certainly weren't afraid to try to injure our players, one lunge on Wilshere showed just how dangerous and unsporting this game was going to be. Eduardo then banged in a sensational free kick from about 25 yards after Bendtner had been hacked down in typically agricultural fashion, 3-0. Bendtner then got in on the act with a powerful low finish from outside the box, he does appear a lot stronger and more mature than in previous seasons, hopefully this can be his year, 4-0. Then half time came. Overall very impressive stuff from the strikers in the first forty five.

The second half saw Phil Senderos start in his new holding midfield role, Mascherano eat your heart out. Wilshere swapped flanks to allow Arshavin to play on the right side, Senderos partnered Ramsey in the middle, RVP came on to partner Eduardo. A completely new back four emerged which consisted of Sagna, Gallas, Vermaelen, Silvestre with Szcezesny between the sticks.

We dominated possession more in the second period, RVP eventually adding a fifth from the spot after the re-emergent Bendtner had been fouled when clean through on the keeper, 5-0. After that I lost a bit of interest and regained a bit of sanity, this is merely pre season, I should remember it's just about match fitness, my mouth is watering for the start of the competitive action though. The match finished with some excellent comedy, Gallas gave away a penalty when he hadn't even touched his man, the penalty taker slipped as he kicked and the ball trickled harmlessly wide at walking speed.

Overall a good workout. Several positives but several big questions remain. Our strikers look sharp and ready for action, we have a wealth of options in attacking midfield, we have numerous excellent full backs, young Szcezesny looks a capable young keeper, Alex Song is looking very very strong. However who is our best centre back pairing? Does even Arsene know? And who can cover for Song in the holding role? I am sure Arsene has a few ideas, I will wait with interest.

Thursday 23 July 2009

Sensationalism and excessive coverage

Every year I think to myself 'surely meaningless pre season friendlies can't get over hyped more than this in the future?' and each year I am amazed to see that the excessive hype increases by another notch or two. An example of this was Real Madrid's completely inane and meaningless game against Shamrock Rovers being screened live on TV, not only this but the media were commenting on the performances and match as if it were an important Champions League game of real meaning.

Some people need to get a life. Pre season main purpose is getting players fit, obviously these days making some money and hyping the brand is also part of the plan. Performances are very much of secondary importance, obviously if someone is playing like a drain then it can be a bit of concern, but we have all seen in recent years the massive dangers in reading too much into pre season results. In fact there appears very little correlation between pre season results and early competitive results. Personally I find the most interesting aspect of pre season to be trying to see what Arsene is planning for the coming season, for example which young players are getting the games and is he experimenting with any new formations or tactics?

Last year's pre season did show us that our defense was unable to defend the aerial ball properly, I remember Ajax causing us immense problems with some rather hopeful hoofs. So I'm not saying we should ignore pre season completely, but we should see it in perspective and not get too carried away with the scorelines against various lower division outfits. Our fixtures show a few interesting games ahead, but really I will only start caring about the results when we travel to Goodison park in early August. Wilshere's presence in the games so far is hopefully a sign that he will get a few more first team games this year, while young Aaron Ramsey may also get a few more opportunities in the year ahead.

Elsewhere Ashley Cole has opened his rather big mouth again, he's keen that City finish above Arsenal next season. Players like Ashley Cole show rather well the pitfalls of being a stupid chav and being motivated purely by money and the cult of celebrity. He is obviously not the brightest, bless, and is part of a rather pathetic sham marriage, add to that the fact that he demonstrates all the loyalty of a slippery snake called Judas, he really is not the most popular player even amongst footballing neutrals. Personally I'd rather be a poor man than a rich man like Ashley, perhaps he should concentrate his efforts on keeping Chelsea in the top flight next year and persuading the Chelsea-through-and-through John 'king chav' Terry to stay at the club he loves so much for a new multi-million pound contract.

Arseblogger has a good round up of other news, a lot of it seems to consist of tabloid misinformation as usual. The Mail sums up this hypocrisy with one story stating that Arsene must throw money around for the sake of it and another debunking a stupid transfer rumour regarding Nic Bendtner, has anyone heard of the Mail making up transfer rumour and selling it as news?

Tuesday 21 July 2009

Nasri injured, lucky old Arsenal

The club have confirmed that Samir Nasri has broken his fibula whilst training at the Austrian training camp. Not good news. Apparently the injury was as a result of a Diaby challenge, I suppose at least it's a sign that Diaby can have an impact on occassions (bad joke I know). However having a bit of medical knowledge and making a few assumptions that are likely to be correct, it appears that this break is highly likely to be an undisplaced crack at the end of the fibula bone which is a very benign injury. He'll just have to rest up for a few weeks but should be able to start gentle activity by around the six week mark, sometimes they are managed by allowing weight bearing as soon as the pain allows. Personally I'd guess he'd be back playing in the reserves by around the eight to nine week mark. So it's bad news, but it's not that bad, after all we do have a wealth of talent in the attacking midfield department.

Sunday 19 July 2009

Rosicky is back & Midfield Options

I didn't watch the 2-2 draw with Barnet on Saturday, mainly because there was plenty of meaningful sport being provided at Turnberry and Lords, so I will not comment on the game. I am also not going to dwell further on Adebayor.

However, the news that Rosicky has taken part in a competitive game is excellent, as for long parts of last season it looked a distinct possibility that Rosicky's knee problems were a terminal issue for his career.

Rosicky is a top drawer player and I was genuinely delighted when we signed him before the action got underway in the 2006 World Cup. He brings back a level of experience to the midfield that we simply do not otherwise have in those positions. He is also a player who, when fit, would be pushing as an automatic first choice in the starting XI, probably either wide right or left in midfield.

So, how would a first choice 4 across the middle of the park look if I was picking the team (imagine that)? Probably something like Arshavin left, Cesc and Song in the middle and Rosicky right. That formation gives Wenger his trio of small ball players in Cesc, Arshavin and Rosicky, which is apparently what he wants to achieve with his team. Plus I would stick Song into the mix to add some bite.

Nasri, Denilson and Theo are the ones from last season's starting XI who would miss out on the above basis, but I suspect Wenger will continue his policy of regular rotation so that they are playing a lot of game to keep everyone relatively fresh on their toes and to give a air of healthy competition for places.

Denilson started 49 games for Arsenal last year, more than any other player (Sagna and Nasri being the other two to start more than 40) and although he had a dip in form in the second half of the season, overall last year his contribution was quite good. His game is still developing, but he has a good engine, likes to pass, can sometimes tackle and generally maintains a quiet efficiency.

Yes, he sometimes gets his positioning wrong and can get turned too easily in midfield, finding himself chasing the opposing midfielder rather than taking the ball in the first place, but when you consider that he only turned 20 in February of this year, I think we have to recognise that this is a player who could, in fact should, develop over the next couple of seasons into an absolutely top drawer player. Yet most Arsenal fans don't rate Denilson and want Wenger to go out and sign a name midfielder - Alonso would be a popular bet, as would Melo.

Cesc, in contrast to Denilson, had an explosive start to his career and was an instant hit. At 22 years old has done more than many other 'good pros' will do in their entire careers. But a healthy debate can be had on how much more their is to come from Cesc. The contributors on this blog were almost unanimous in their verdicts last season that Cesc consistently underperformed, to the extent that Denilson and Song outshone him for large parts of the season. I also have little doubt that it was Cesc's indifferent form that persuaded Wenger to push Cesc forwards in the crunch games towards the end of last season, rather than any tactical re-formulation of our strategy. And by and large, Cesc in the Gerrard role behind a striker was a disaster. He is simply too slow. Yet most Arsenal fans put Cesc on a pedestal.

In my opinion, Wenger's main job at the moment is not to find someone new, big and strong to play alongside Cesc. Instead, he needs to get Cesc really ticking as a footballer again. He needs to rediscover that yard of pace, that desire to win the ball, to beat a man and to score the goals. I suspect that having Nasri, Arshavin and Rosicky breathing down his neck and saying "I could play centre midfield better than you" will have the desired result, but it might not. And if Wenger is not convinced that Cesc is playing well enough, then he should be rested from automatic selection.

The signing of Vermaelen should release Song into midfield, but the fact that the only physical midfield player we have is Song looks a weakness on paper, but is it really? I mean, if Song is good enough, which I think he is, then why do we need to go and sign someone else?

Plus, if the lessons of the last 11 Wenger summers are to be remembered again, then he will not go out and buy the player that everyone else thinks he should. The evidence of last season shows Wenger's faith in Denilson and Nasri. The amount of midfielders at the club suggests that we are not short of numbers (and I have not mentioned Abou Diaby yet).

So I would be amazed if Wenger went out and bought someone else during August.

At last, good riddance Emmanuel

The fact that I am absolutely delighted that Emmanuel Adebayor has left the club speaks as loud as any words about the Togoan striker's departure, whatever the real reasons for the protracted nature of the transfer, whether it was down to Adebayor trying to move to a decent club or trying to extort yet more money from the club in the form of 'loyalty' payments, I couldn't care less, we simply do not need players who aren't 100% committed to the club. Arsene has commented on the news, obviously he would never criticise Adebayor in public after his move; personally I suspect Arsene is saying one thing but thinking another, just remember that this is the manager who dropped Adebayor at the end of last season and who publicly refused to rule out selling him to a Premiership club. Arseblogger's take on events is spot on, Adeabayor dug his own grave because he became too big for his own boots and too greedy. Cunning work Arsene, we have got rid of a lazy waste of space and replaced him with a large cash sum. I'm just looking forward to the egos interacting at City, how on earth can Hughes keep Robinho, Bellamy, Santa Cruz, Tevez and Adebayor happy without playing a suicidal Ossie Ardiles formation? I wonder.

The pre season campaign started with a 2-2 draw at Barnet, we should obviously be careful not to read too much into these early games as the main thing is getting match fit and not getting results. It was great to see Tomas Rosicky back in action, if he can stay fit then his presence in the squad will definitely be like a new signing, the same obviously goes for Eduardo.
The game saw two very different sides in each half, Vermaelen played the full ninety on his debut and as expected quite a few of our youth cup winning side got a run out. Luke Ayling looked solid at centre back in the second half while Sanchez Watt looked sharp up front in the first half from the highlights, the match report can be read on the Arsenal site here. The boss was pleased with Thomas Vermaelen's performance and he did show some glimpses of his defensive ability as well as his neat left foot passing.

Arsene's interview after the game was particularly revealing, he spoke Adebeyor being a great player without laughing, so his poker face was in action yet again. When asked how close he was to bringing anybody else in, he started off with one answer saying 'we are not very close to bringing anybody else in......' but then he paused and smiled, he then spoke with a grin on his face 'if you mean.....oh.....we are not on the verge of signing anybody'. I would be very surprised if Arsene doesn't bring in at least one more new face, he is wise not to admit this in public, as with plenty of money in the kitty he would be foolish to give anything away. It really frustrates me when people read isolated quotes from Arsene and completely misinterpret them, the big grin on his face said far more than the words on their own.

Thursday 16 July 2009

Mirko Vucinic gold dust

Morning all. Just a quick mention of something that was in the papers this week and made me laugh.

Mirko Vucinic, the Montenegran striker at Roma (who was excellent in both legs against us but missed the crucial penalty) is being linked with a move away from Rome, and one possible destination is Spurs. This is what he had to say on a Roma website interview:

"At the moment it's useless to talk because there aren't any offers," said Vucinic. "If one should arrive I will talk with the club and we'll see.
"Obviously there are places where I would not want to go.
"Tottenham? Let's reject that.

Well said Mirko. Well said. Apart from being quite amusing, its also refreshing to see a player who is interested in more than just his paycheck, since Spurs would no doubt offer him a bagful of money to waste his time at the Lane. Better luck next time Harry.

Tuesday 14 July 2009

Ade-bye-or: mixed emotions?

As the Usmanov propaganda appears to be swallowed whole by the BBC (how can anyone take a report commissioned by the walrus like fatty seriously is beyond me), Emmanuel Adebayor is on the verge of signing for Manchester City, I hear that he is currently being fondled by the Manchester City doctor. I'm just praying that don't decide to scan his head as they may just find the rather vacuous space that I am sure will be his downfall over and over again.

Anyway I've been mulling over Emmanuel Adebayor's Arsenal career and overall I've concluded that his big ego has resulted in massive underachievement. He was never the most gifted of players, his touch frequently let him down, but in his early days it was his fantastic work rate that made him a first choice selection. His first season and a bit saw a lot of effort but not the most clinical of finishing, he only managed around a goal every three games. 2007/8 saw him hit a purple patch as he banged in 24 league goals in 36 games, an impressive tally by anyone's standards, some of these goals were quite magnificent, the goals away to Newcastle and away to Tottenham particularly stand out in the memory.

Then it all went wrong. Emmanuel doesn't appear the brightest and it seems that all the praise went straight to the vacuum in his skull, maybe he had received some bad advice and maybe the hangers on whispered sweet words of encouragement in his ears. The summer of 2008 saw him pimp himself around Europe in a quite disgraceful manner, he seemed to think that one big season made him one of the best around, he forgot that he was not the most gifted of players and that one of the key ingredients to his success had been his work rate. Last season saw him splutter, the effort was sporadic at best, the dismal performance away to Manu in the CL semi sticks in the mind as being characteristic of a player who no longer fought, who no longer cared. We Arsenal fans no longer sung his name with gusto, this summer came with most of us hoping that someone would come in for him and take him far far away from the Emirates.

So what will happen to Emmanuel Adebayor at City? Well, there will be no shortage of egos in that dressing room and no shortage of strikers in the squad. Santa Cruz, Bellamy, Tevez and Adebayor have all been shipped in recently. The competition for places looks more likely to result in toys being thrown out of prams than helping create hungry strikers. In reality Emmanuel Adebayor is a decent striker, he's big, he's strong, he's good in the air, his touch is erratic, his finishing is average, his goalscoring record is good to middling- he averages almost a league goal every other game but remember that many of these were penalties.

If he had it going on upstairs then you could get past his footballing flaws, the problem is that what happens upstairs is very important, if you are to win the top prizes you need a team full of hard working motivated individuals, unfortunately for Emmanuel and City he is not one of these. One's gut reaction to losing a player is often a guide to how good that player actually is, in that context I am delighted that Adebayor is leaving and even more delighted that we are getting a decent wad in exchange for his Togoan greed. I won't deny that there is a sense of a big missed opportunity regarding Adebayor's Arsenal stay, if he wasn't such a twat he could have been a true legend for us, sadly he was and that's that. Hopefully this money can be reinvested more wisely than it has been spent by City.

Monday 13 July 2009

Can City help us out?

The problem known by the name of Emmanuel Adebayor may be about to be solved by the generosity of Manchester City. It's a shame on one level as Adebayor has all the physical attributes needed to be a top striker for Arsenal, unfortunately the bit between his ears has been his limiting factor. His greed and consistent lack of application have let him down. Winning trophies requires a team that is full of hungry motivated players, passengers cannot be tolerated and this is why Adeabyor should go. I don't think many tears will be shed for this greedy and arrogant Togoan.

Strange leanings - Terry vs Usmanov

It seems to me that John Terry has shown his true colours this summer, it means nothing whether he leaves Chelsea or not, it is quite blatant that if he was such a loyal Chelsea man then he would have nipped these rumours of a transfer to Man City in the bud a long time ago. It was not long ago that Chelsea's club captain, the repugnant JT, signed a record breaking 135 grand a week contract. He has several years remaining on his contract, he owes Chelsea a lot in terms of loyalty, but now he can sniff more money around the corner, all this is forgotten and the king chav is clearly thinking about leaving. He could easily come out and stop all this speculation, his current silence speaks volumes. I am disgusted enough by his behaviour as an Arsenal fan, I dread to think how Chelsea fans must be feeling. Roman Abrahmovich should stick him in the reserves for the remaining years of his contract, that would learn the uneducated Judas.

This moves me onto my Usmanov rant. I have done a fair bit of research on this issue and something stands out for me, there is a definite trend for certain newspapers and media sources to be spinning the news in Usmanov's favour. A recent example of this was Steven Howard's comments in the Sun. His comments naively assume that we are certain to drop out of the top four this season and that we should embrace Usmanov's money at any cost, otherwise there will be trouble:

"Far better to take the Usmanov money now, give him a place on the board and circumvent the trouble that is surely heading towards the Emirates."

This take on events is naive at best. It does not even consider the trouble that Usmanov may bring. If Usmanov cared so much for Arsenal FC then he could just give money to the club with no strings attached, strangely a rights issue was suggested which would allow Usmanov to get his fat toes even further inside the Arsenal door. Sky's slant was also strangely biased, taking Usmanov's offer of a rights issue to equate to cash aid, spinning at best and dishonest journalism at worst in my eyes. The board quite rightly told Usmanov to stick it up his fat one, I agree with Arseblogger's take on this, in that Usmanov's comments in reaction to this are rather threatening. ACLF summarises it well too, in fact the overwhelming feeling from all Arsenal fans is that the board should do all they can to keep Usmanov as far away from the running of the club as possible.
I would advise anyone interested in learning a bit more about the delightfully skinny Usmanov to visit Craig Murray's site. Craig was the British Ambassador to Uzbekistan for a number of years and is very well informed as to certain aspects of Usmanov's rather imperfect past. The overt bias shown by the Sunday Times in covering yet more Usmanov stories is highlighted here, Mark Franchetti was the chief culprit and enjoyed some nice food and drink courtesy of the friendly Usmanov before writing his balanced piece. The Sunday Times seems to be getting its facts wrong rather recurrently.
The Sun, the NOTW, the Sunday Times, and SkySports are all owned by the same man, is this just coincidence? Whatever the reasons for this bias, we should be very skeptical of anyone naively encouraging Arsenal to embrace Alisher Usmanov, the man is more than a little shady and I for one would not trust his anorexic frame more than a micrometre. So David Dein and Mr Usmanov, Fats and Orange, or whatever you call your dodgy little business, please stop trying to swing Arsenal fans behind your selfishly motivated schemes, we want nothing to do with you and your kind.

Saturday 11 July 2009

False hope? I hope not

If something sounds too good to be true, it often is and I think this story from the Mirror may well be a classic example of this precise phenomenon. The story appears to be based on no concrete evidence at all, there isn't even a quote from a friend close to the player or even a liar in the newsroom. Mikel Silvestre to Bordeaux? God I would be so so happy, almost as happy as on the day that the mighty Cygan departed for Spain for several million pounds, in fact I remember that day well, I couldn't quite believe that someone was willing to pay money for Pascal Cygan, God what fond memories, it's funny how selling a turkey can be such a satisfying moment for supporters.
Unfortunately I doubt that Bordeaux are interested in a player who has the pace of overweight middle aged business man after fourteen gin and tonics combined with the defensive ability of a young Gus Caesar. Obviously Mikel isn't quite that bad, I'm being more than a tad harsh, but he clearly is not the player he used to be, if Bordeaux had some scouts with eyes then they would steer well well clear of this floundering Frenchman.

This story also made me laugh, Pascal Cygan is out of contract and apparently waiting for Arsene's call! Pascal was not the world's greatest defender by any means, but he did try hard and he clearly does have a bit of a sense of humour, nice one Pascal. On a serious note there are rumours in France about Song interesting Man City, I would like to say that there is no way that Arsene would consider letting our best and only defensive midfielder leaving just before the start of the season, these stories are just baseless speculation in much the same way that the Mirror's story about Silvestre interesting Bordeaux is.

All quiet on the Gooner front

Well, ho hum, not much appears to be happening at the moment, I have decided to make a conscious effort not to link to rubbish stories as this merely increases their traffic which is precisely what they are after, the likes of Piers 'lowlife' Morgan and the Sun rely on this kind of reality which is pretty damn lame in my opinion. The Sun was particularly guilty of more low quality journalism recently as they spun some very sensible Almunia comments into a rather twisted sensationalist story, in actual fact Almunia has only said we need more experience in the squad, shock horror, what a sensationalist thing to say!

The links to Blaise Matuidi continue. He has played for St Etienne for the past couple of years and Gilles has apparently recommended him to Arsene. Skysports were reporting that he had been shown around the Arsenal training ground last week, so if something is to happen I would expect it to happen before next weekend at the latest. I think signing players at this stage of their career is much more sensible than signing someone who has just hit the big time in terms of media recognition. One inevitably pays massively over the odds for the likes of Melo despite the fact that he really doesn't have much experience of European football, someone like Matudi has three years of first team football under his belt and if you can snap this kind of player up just before their fee hyper-inflates, then this is much better business. Stan Kroenke has upped his share stake to just over 28%.

I would urge anyone who has ever bought a copy of the Sun or the News of the World to read the Guardian today and have a look at Channel 4 news exclusive story last night. Obviously one has to be very careful with what one says but one should never forget the power that we have as consumers. If we see a company behaving in a quite disgraceful and unethical manner then simply don't buy their crap, if everyone did this then quite a few scumbags would be out of business pretty soon. It is fairly typical of these big companies to use a lot of money to hire a lot of lawyers in order to cover up various illegal acts. Rupert Murdoch, that lovely man, is refusing to comment on this issue. I'll leave you all to make up your own minds as to whether the News of the World was knowingly and systematically hiring people to tap into phones in order to gather a bit of celebrity gossip. Just don't ever buy the Sun or News of the World.

Our first game of the pre season is next weekend against the mighty Barnet, the bigger games start just over a week after this one. As a result I am sure Arsene will be looking to bring in any new signings within the next couple of weeks. On a positive note RVP's new contract is great news, I also had time to listen to his interview on Arsenal TV and it really was heartening stuff. RVP seems genuinely really happy at the club and his family are very happy in London, he also seems to exude a confidence in the players and manager that will definitely help breed success at the Club. RVP rates Vermaelen and thinks Arshavin will get even better after a proper pre season. There are a lot of ifs and buts at this stage, but if we can get and keep Rosicky and Eduardo fit, if we can bring in one solid central midfielder, if we can keep hold of our big experienced players, then we have a great chance of making some real progress.

Thursday 9 July 2009

Exclusive news - Bulgarian quadroped signs

I can exclusively reveal that 99.999% of the football related stories on the Internet are complete and utter fiction, it never ceases to amaze me just how much crud is churned out these days, the incessant river of football related fiction doesn't appear to be running dry as yet though. Since our ancient ancestors changed their lifestyles from that of hunter gatherers to permanent settlers using agriculture we have seen how the division of labour has resulted in people being able to spend their time doing more and more luxurious and useless things. For example these days we even have people spending their lives kicking footballs for a living, and in some cases this is done in a rather uncoordinated fashion while sporting cockerels on their jerseys. God, there is even enough time for people to spend their time earning a living by writing about those who kick the footballs around.

Anyway I digress, this week we have read stories linking us with numerous players that we have never heard of, we have seen that numerous people are then recycling these fantastical rumours to make more stories and amazingly some people seem to believe what they read, sometimes even losing sleep as to whether the rumours linking us to a one eyed Bulgarian goat are true or not. Strangely it appears that there is quite a demand for this utter rot, meaning that those who invent this rubbish are attracting a lot of traffic to their sites. One of the first utterly awful websites to do this was Tribal Football, one can guarantee that over 99% of their stories are completely fabricated, I just wish people would stop visiting these writers of baseless fantasy.

What's my point I hear you say? Well I don't really have one, I just felt like venting a bit of steam and expressing an opinion, that's the point of sites like ours I think. Maybe we have more power than we think as if we made a conscious effort not to visit sites that routinely make up their 'news' and not to link to these websites, then they may be somewhat less popular than they currently are. I particularly enjoyed Ted's ramblings from yesterday, they sum up the story so far for me.

Onwards to some solid news, the club have announced that RVP has signed a new long term deal at the club, what a boost that is going into pre season training. RVP certainly had a good season last year and also managed to stay injury free, the comments that came with this contract fill me with a lot of hope for the coming season. The club have also announced some more pre season fixtures, the bigger fixtures are coming around in early August with Atletico and Valencia featuring. There are some good photos of pre season training here, as Ted has commented Mr Vermaelen appears to have the icy cold stare of a hardened killer, so hopefully he can begin the slaughtering of opposition strikers next season. Arseblogger has also scooped up an interesting interview with the club CEO Mr Ivan Gazidis. So there you have it, not that much has happened if you only read the more reliable news sources, there certainly is no need to start fretting just yet, jgnore the rubbish and come on you Gunners.

Wednesday 8 July 2009

July Musings

Well, the first pre-season friendly kicks off on 18 July against Barnet, and the new premierleague campaign will begin against Everton away on 15 August - a tricky place to start and no mistake. However, I am delighted that we get to go up to play Manure early in the season on 29 August - its a real chance to take a big scalp, and I hope Arsenal have a real go at Manure early in the season.

And thats because as things stand on 8 July, Manure look like they will be weaker next year. The loss of Ronaldo will be huge and Valencia is simply no replacement. Similarly, exchanging Carlos Tevez for Michael Owen is not a step down in class - its an enormous plummet. Manure have lost two of their crowd favourites and whatever their fans say, they will be sorry to have lost them.

I also genuinely think that Ronaldo is irreplaceable. If Manure could get their hands on Lionel Messi, then they might be able to say they have obtained a player of similar abilities, but I cannot see Barca letting Messi go unless Manure are willing to break the Ronaldo fee. Ribery is a good player, but not in the same league as Messi or Ronaldo, and I cannot really think of anyone else who might be able to step into the fake-tanned uber-chav's shoes.

So, I am pleased to announce from this July vantage point of blind optimism that Manure will be total cack next year, which leaves Chelsea and Liverpool as our only challengers for the title.

Liverpool are in a bad place right now. They have run out of cash and the kebab-man Rafa needs more stray dogs to turn into fatty and expensive treats for the Anfield faithful. Unless Liverpool sort their finances out in the next 30 days, then they are bust. There are no rumours in the papers of a stinking rich Sheikh flying in to save them, instead, the rumours are that Mascherano is off to Barcelona and Real want Alonso. If Arsenal could pick up Macherano then I would almost wet my pants with excitement. No. I would wet my pants with excitement. And I am not saying anything about Alonso. Other than to say I would rather see Giles Grimandi come out of retirement. But I think that a lot anyway.

I have also thoroughly enjoyed Fernando Torres' "recommendations" after the Confeds Cup that Rafa should sign Villa and Silva. Well fuck me sideways Fernando - I bet Rafa the Spaniard had never even heard of these players before your crafty network of international scouts picked them up. What's that? Villa and Silva both play for Spain already and have done for years? What? They both excelled in the successful Euro 2008 campaign and everyone in the western, northern, eastern and southern worlds over the age of 1 month knows that they are good players already? Thanks Fernando. No really. Where would Rafa be without your incredible recommendations.

So, with any luck, we will be signing Mascherano, Alonso will retire to a brussel sprout farm in Astoria, and Liverpool will have no midfield whatsoever next year. Which means that yet again they will rely on Gerrard to dig them out of every damn hole they get themselves into. What an over-talented single-man-team Gerrard is. Unfortunately, unless Real do the decent thing and buy Gerrard, then Liverpool will figure again next season.

So, lastly, Chelsea. On paper, not much difference to last season. Drogba is still there, so is Cashley, so is Terry, Lampard.... sorry, I am going to have to stop there, as the bile is rising and I might spew. What a bunch of utter, utter, twats Chelsea have collected. And thankfully, next season they will be lead by the moron that is Carlo Ancelotti. Remember that this is the man who managed to finish 5th in Serie A with a team that included Kaka. He can barely speak English and his record at Milan was actually quite poor given the vast wealth at his disposal - ok, he won one Champs League, but only one Serie A title in 8 years is not the stuff of legends.

And so, as the massed hordes of Arsenal's defenders begin pre-season training at London Colney, including Gallas, Toure, Sagna, Clichy, Song, Vermaelen, Djourou, Senderos, Eboue, Gibbs, Sylvestre and Traore, I find it impossible to believe that we cannot find 4 players out of that 12 who could form a decent defence upon which our midget army in midfield can build its unco-ordinated attack.

So if we play out of our skins next year, then we may play some pretty football, flatter to deceive for a bit, lose to a couple of shite teams, draw with some other shite teams, and maybe, just maybe, have 3rd place and a decent run in the cups in our sights.

Get up for it Arsefans.

Thursday 2 July 2009

Fantastic signing

As Manchester United are rumoured to be signing the, cough, over the hill, splutter, Michael Owen, Arsenal have announced some fantastic news that will disappoint a host of clubs who were keeping a crafty eye on things, Jack Wilshere has signed a new long term deal at the club.

This boy is a special talent and this is great news. It is certainly worth remembering that players of Jack's age have been nabbed by prowling rival clubs before, for example a certain young Sturridge is in the process of being whipped away from City by Chelsea. When this happens and the fee is set by tribunal, the money on offer is invariably an insult added to the injury. Here's to Jack continuing his rise next season.

Wednesday 1 July 2009

More shock horror

I can't believe it, it turns out that the rumours linking us to Karim Benzema are complete and utter bollocks, well stone the crows that really is a turn up for the books, I am genuinely surprised again. Mr Benzema shall be joining Real Madrid who seem to be printing bank notes this summer. Incidentally I look forward to enjoying every single game which their overpaid players fail to win next season, anything less than the League and Champions League will be a failure for them and I sincerely hope that they win nothing. Their splashing of the cash during the current financial crisis is nothing but disgraceful, and as for Manchester City, don't get me started on them.

Interestingly William Gallas is making sounds that he is keen to stay and fight for us next season, cynically thinking I wonder just how much this has to do with the fact that he only has a year of his contract to see out. Having said that we should keep our minds open, and saliently Gallas was probably our most consistent defender in the latter part of last season until he was sidelined with his unfortunate knee injury. If one assumes that Gallas stays, then that leaves our new man Vermaelen who will surely be a number one pick, as well as Toure, Silvestre, Djourou and Senderos. There is certain to be some more movement in this department before things kick off in August.

Aaron Ramsey has penned a new long term deal at the club, seems a bit weird to me given that he only signed for us a year ago, I guess that's the nature of football these days. It's worth remembering that Aaron is only 18 and has made over twenty appearances for the first team including a start in the Champions League, while he has become a Welsh regular thanks to some excellent international performances. In case you hadn't noticed the club have revealed the rather interesting (I'm being polite) 3rd kit for next season, isn't it delightful?

Finally a brief word for the England U-21s who despite a brave effort got convincingly beaten by the Germans in the final, 4-0 was a very flattering scoreline for the opposition but the game did show just what type of player England is failing to produce. We had a lot of huff and puff but there was simply not the cunning and craft offensively that one needs to open up defenses at the highest level. The midfield trio of Noble, Muamba and Cattermole summed this up perfectly, while the likes of Rodwell and Mancienne didn't start despite having much more ability on the ball than several of the starting eleven. The crafty and skillful technical ball player is something that the English game does not tend to produce very often, the fact that referees allow GBH before awarding yellow cards might have something to do with that I feel. Anyway the final was still a great achievement and Kieran Gibbs had a solid game in the final. Poor old Theo looked a bit lost up front on his own, in my opinion he does look much more at home in wide areas than up top as a central striker.