The North Bank comes to the Emirates.

July 20, 2010

Yesterday saw the club officially announce the return of the stand names from Highbury. So, from the start of the new season onwards we will once again have the North Bank, East Stand, West Stand and the Clock End, complete with its newly installed clock. It is a welcome return and is made even better seeing as this blog was named after my favourite place to watch games from at Highbury. Below, via Arsenal.com, is the new layout guide for the stadium.

 

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Elsewhere, Joe Cole proved Ancelotti right (in that it was predominantly a financially motivated move) when he signed for Liverpool in a £90,000/4yr deal. Now, of course he will play much more football at Liverpool than he would have at Arsenal but, that is assuming he actually stays fit. His fitness record over the last few years isn’t great and it will be interesting to see whether or not his body can stand up to regular games. Anyway I, like most Arsenal fans, am not particularly bothered that he didn’t sign for us. Word is we offered him £80,000 per week over 2years. At least the fact that we didn’t sign Cole will mean that there is a greater chance for Wilshere to show us what he can do and stake a claim for a regular role coming off the bench in the league and starting some games in the domestic cups.

 

Guardiola spoke a little about Cesc in his press conference yesterday but there isn’t anything new in what he said. However, you just know that Barcelona will not give up until they get their man, be it this summer or one or two summers down the line.

 

It seems that Eduardo has moved a step closer to leaving the club with reports coming out yesterday that he had passed his medical and looks set to sign for Shakhtar Donetsk, for a fee in the region of €7.5m, sometime today. It will be sad to see him go, particularly since his Arsenal career was destroyed by that Taylor tackle as he was beginning to find his feet at the club and show what he was capable of. Let’s just hope that the same fate does not befall Aaron Ramsey.

 

Szczesny has spoken about how he wants to prove to Wenger that he is capable of challenging for the no1 spot. While I really hope that he develops into our future no1, I think that it is a bit early for him to become our first choice keeper. He needs to get some more experience under his belt before that can happen. Though, there are exceptions such as Casillas at Real, but he is very much the exception to the rule.

 

The club should have already arrived in Austria by the time you read this but as of yet I haven’t received any confirmation of those that travelled and those that didn’t. Perhaps the club are trying to keep the names close to their chest so we don’t discover that Almunia hasn’t travelled because he is negotiating a move away? Well, we can but hope, eh? The names of the travelling party should be made public fairly soon.

 

Right, that’s about that for today as I have to get the finger out and begin packing for my 5wk working trip to Korea. I will try to keep making posts here, certainly every Sunday, and I hope to make two or three posts during the week, too. But, I don’t think at this point that I will have time to make daily posts while in Korea. I will be there from July 21st until August 23rd, when I will return to Japan. Take it easy and keep the faith.

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A routine run-out.

July 18, 2010

Yesterday saw the long-awaited return of The Arsenal in the game against Barnet at Underhill. The team ran out comfortable 4-0 winners and were never really put under any pressure. The goals came from Arshavin, Simpson (2) and Nasri. The assists came from Rosicky, Wilshere (2) and the fourth goal coming from a defensive calamity by Barnet. There is no point in going into any kind of great detail on the game as for a better report on it you should check out Gunnerblog whose Gilberto Silver attended the game.

 

Our two new boys got some playing time under their belts and from first impressions it is clear that Koscielny was right when he said, upon signing, that he needed to build up his strength and power. He is a bit gangly looking and will need to build up his muscles if he is to be an effective centre-half in the premier league. That said, he is still very young for a centre half and has time on his side. Also, it was just the first game of pre-season, with new teammates, so it is much too early to make any kind of prediction on how he will fare over the course of the season.

 

Chamakh got a 2nd half run-out and by the looks of the way he plays, he could pick up a few yellows over the course of the season and may not be as prolific as we might hope. But, as long as he helps to create goals, as well as score some, then he will be a good addition to the squad.

 

I though Jay Emmanuel-Thomas had a good game and I was surprised at how big he looked. Though, maybe the midgets around him just made him look bigger than he actually is. I thought Traore was a bit suspect and I am glad that he will just be our third choice left back next season. Frimpong also impressed.

 

In his post match interview, Arsene confirmed that six of the eight players yet to return from their post-World Cup holiday will return on Monday, in time to join the team for the pre-season training in Austria. In a roundabout way he also referred to Koscielny not doing so well with aerial challenges early on but slowly adjusting and becoming a bit more competitive in them. It will take time for him to get used to the English game and bulk up, that’s for sure. He also commented on the fact that Chamakh is good at linking play and involving the players around him, which should suit our attacking midfielders and style of play. I wonder if it means he will spend more time outside the box than in it. Let’s hope that he can get the balance of linking play and finishing a move off right over the season.

 

Although Wenger said all the right things in terms of Cesc staying at the club and any idea of such a move being over, looking at the video it wasn’t the most convincing of statements. However, I may be reading too much into that, but it’s just the impression that I got from watching it. However, in an interview which appears in today’s Guardian, the boss is much more emphatic about the situation:

“There was a lot of unneeded talk. It is not pleasant to read that every day. Now, the story has to stop. Cesc is our captain, he is so important to us and we want to keep him, that is why we were not listening to any offers. It was not a problem of money, just the desire to keep him at the club.

We can only influence our own behaviour and I believe things have now gone straight again with Sandro Rosell. We always had a consistent attitude and were always reluctant to talk about Cesc’s departure. It is very important we give the impression that just because somebody wants a player from us, we do not just give in.

We have shown our love and care for Cesc since the start. I believe Cesc loves the club, has shown his attachment to the club many times and I am very confident the story will end there. We want Cesc to be part of our club next year, and that is it.”

The first sentence in the second paragraph of the above quote is very telling as to the club’s views of Laporta and his regime and is about as close as Wenger will ever come to calling Laporta a c*nt in public. Great stuff. It also has the added effect of forcing Rossell to act appropriately and respectfully if he wants to differentiate his regime from Laporta’s in order to seal a deal for Fabregas at some point in the future. The attachment that the boss feels for Cesc is also evident by his talking about the ‘love and care’ that the club has for, and has shown towards, our Catalan captain. It was also good to see that Wenger wants to show that Arsenal are a big club that can resist the overtures from one of the world’s so-called big two. We need to show the world that just because a club wants to buy one of our players, it does not mean that they will be able to prize one of our prize assets away from us.

 

It was interesting to see the link to Schwarzer being played down, with the excessive fee being asked as the main stumbling block to any such deal going through. That, for me, is good news as any fee in the region of, or above 3m is just way too much money for a 37yr old. I could only justify an outlay of that magnitude if it also included his signing on fee and salary for the duration of the contract. There is also a rumour that Wenger told a fan that he hasn’t decided on his no1 for the coming season. Does this mean that a search for a keeper is still underway? The grapevine indicates that it is, judging from word I received during the week.

 

There are reports that we have had a 14m bid for Jagielka rejected. That’s a lot of money to bid for a player that recently had a serious knee injury. The boss was also very quiet on any alleged deal for Joe Cole.

 

Talking about Gallas and Silvestre, the club expect them to sign with another club while Campbell is currently in footballing limbo. While none of the three have been definitively ruled out, one suspects that out of the three the only one that has a chance of being here when the Premier League kicks off in mid-August is Campbell.

 

Right, that’s enough for today. 1,000+ words is more than enough for anyone to digest on a Sunday. Enjoy the rest of your weekend.


Arsenal are back!

July 17, 2010

Today is the day when things really start to pick up ahead of the new season. The squad for the friendly against Barnet at Underhill this afternoon was announced yesterday and is not all that surprising considering the annual game against Barnet usually contains a fair smattering of youth players along with a bit of experience, excluding some of our World Cup players.The squad for the game is as follows (via Arsenal.com):

 

Manuel Almunia (GK)
Andrey Arshavin
Nacer Barazite
Marouane Chamakh
Johan Djourou
Craig Eastmond
Eduardo
Jay Emmanuel-Thomas
Lukasz Fabianski (GK)
Emmanuel Frimpong
Kieran Gibbs
Conor Henderson
Laurent Koscielny
Henri Lansbury
Ignasi Miquel
Samir Nasri
Havard Nordtveit
Tomas Rosicky
Armand Traore
Thomas Vermaelen
Theo Walcott
Jack Wilshere

 

While the first game of pre-season is pretty much meaningless in terms of the result and overall performance, it’s all about getting some much needed fitness, but I think we would all like to see the team hit the ground running. It’ll also be our first real chance to get a glimpse of Koscielny and Chamakh in an Arsenal shirt.

 

On the transfer front, Barcelona have either changed their tune or have slightly altered their tactics in their persistent attempts to prise Cesc away from us. Whether this is because they don’t, at present, have the required cash at hand to make an acceptable offer for our captain, or because they are trying to mend bridges that Laporta not only burned but also put a wad of TNT under just for good measure. Their newly installed president had this to say yesterday:

“Arsenal feel very hurt by Barca. They don’t want to listen to offers or sell and are not putting the player on the market. There was a strong dispute a few months ago and they have not forgotten it. He will arrive, even if it is not now, it will be next year. We will see. One thing that is certain is we will not go mad trying to sign him. No shareholder would pay 60 or 70million Euros for him.”

 

I think that he is slightly misreading Arsenal’s position, to put it mildly. I am quite sure that the board are more infuriated by Barcelona’s tactics and public wooing of our captain than they are hurt by the whole thing. The final two sentences also say a lot about how much they truly value the player and it must be a bit annoying for the player himself to see Barcelona pursue him like an addict chasing the next fix, but yet to turn around and say that they won’t pay the same kind of money for him that they paid for Ibrahimovic just twelve months ago.

 

Something just doesn’t jive with their line of thinking. They have to get over the fact that he was once a part of their youth system. He left them when he was in his mid teens. It was Arsenal that turned him into the finished article, not Barcelona. It was Arsenal that gave him his big chance to shine in a starting eleven, not Barcelona. So, Rossell, you and you club should either pay the actual market value of the player, or sod off. You won’t be getting him on the cheap. Also, don’t go blaming the last regime for going about things the wrong way and ‘hurting’ us, then in the same bloody quote say that if you don’t get Cesc this year then you will get him next year. Why I oughta!!

 

Apart from the game today, which kicks off at 11pm (JST) and is being shown live on ATVO, there isn’t really a whole lot going on. It’s just a great feeling to have Arsenal back again. The beauty of the World Cup is that it made the time without Arsenal pass quickly, which is always a good thing.

 

Just remember, the overall performance today isn’t what the boss is looking for, it’s fitness and a good run-out. If, as a by-product, we play well, great. Of course, I would love to see them score six or seven, but will settle for just being able to sit on my sofa and watch a pixelated stream of The Arsenal.

 

That’s about that for today. I’m writing this at 11am (JST), which is 3am on Friday night in the UK, so there aren’t many stories in the Saturday papers yet.

 

Just a reminder about some podcasts to check out during the new season. The first being the Arsecast, from Arseblog, which comes out every Friday during the season and should soon be returning from its summer hiatus. Two other top quality podcasts are the Guardian’s Football Weekly and Chappers’ Premier League podcast. Both feature good banter, insightful views and are a very good listen as they are not club specific, so give a non-biased view of the week in football. Finally, you could also check out 5Live’s Football Daily podcast, which is good for a quick round-up of the day in football but can often contain the annoying and retarded views of those such as David Pleat and John Motson, but its Monday Night Club (on Mondays, funnily enough) and Kicking Off (on Fridays) are worth a listen.

 

Have a good one and enjoy the return of The Arsenal. A sunny summer day beckons.


Summer starts here (for me anyway).

July 15, 2010

Greetings from a hot and humid Yokohama. It’s river-down-your-crack hot today, but I am not complaining as I have also started my summer holidays today. So, all is good.

 

Things are a bit quiet on the Arsenal front. I heard a very interesting story last night but that’s about all I can say for the moment. If it comes to pass, we will be a good deal stronger going into the new season. But, as like many stories you hear on the grapevine, they don’t all come to pass. Regardless of whether or not it does bear fruit, I have been very much reassured, just by hearing the story, that the boss does indeed intend to make us competitive again. Sorry for being so horribly vague, but that’s how it has to be. I’ll just leave it by saying that it involves two players, neither of whom have been linked with us yet this summer.

 

Former Arsenal player, and legend, Thierry Henry yesterday signed with the New York Red Bulls on a multi-year deal. He is set to appear on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon today, Thursday, so if you want to submit a question for consideration for Jimmy to ask Thierry get yourself on Twitter and send a message to Jimmy Fallon pronto. I submitted two, no idea if they will be asked. He will make his debut for his new team on July 22nd, against Spuds.

 

There are reports that Cesc actually bought himself a brand new house about a month ago which, if true, would certainly indicate that our captain isn’t ready to leave these shores just yet.

 

It’s all depressingly quiet today, I must admit. Hopefully things will start to pick up in the next day or two. The squad for the friendly against Barnet this coming Saturday is set to be announced on Friday. Expect it to be a young side, along with  some of the players that didn’t go to the World cup and our new boys Chamakh and Koscielny.

 

There is a discussion with Arseblogger on the Young Guns site today, where they talk about the youth system at Arsenal. Check it out.

 

Right just a short one for today as there is nothing much else to talk about. Have a good one.


A short(ish) Wednesday round-up.

July 14, 2010

Not a lot going on today. There is still a little bit of fall-out following the stitching-up of Cesc by those Barcelona Bastardos. Arsenal themselves are remaining a dignified silence, as they have done throughout the entire summer with regards to the whole Cesc situation. The player’s father had this to say about the incident:

 

“It was a day of celebration and anything goes. If anyone misinterprets it, they have to see that it was part of a celebration.

 
"Cesc has it very clear what Arsenal has been and is for him. He is super grateful to them and it has never crossed his mind to do something wrong towards them.

Cesc said what he wanted to do the day after the end of the league so that Arsenal had time to react. It would have been nasty to say it today, when they are almost on the verge of starting the pre-season. But he always did so thinking about Arsenal. It remains to be seen how everything turns out.”

 

From those statements it is clear that the entire Fabregas family has a great deal of respect and affection for Arsenal. While none of us really knows what was said at that meeting between Fabregas and Wenger at their meeting at Colney just before Cesc went off to meet up with the Spain squad before the World Cup, you do get the impression that is was indeed to say that he was thinking that it might be time to move home. There is no evidence that he said he definitely wants to move home this summer, he may just have said that he was thinking about it but that he would leave it to Wenger to decide when the time was right for him to move home. The one thing we know for sure about Cesc is that whatever happens, he will do it in a mature, classy and very respectful manner.

 

One final thought on the Cesc situation is regarding Cesc’s sister. It would appear that some people may have gone over the top in their reaction to the Barcelona shirt incident and may have sent her some messages on Twitter that were out of order. These people should not be doing this and they should feel ashamed of themselves. Cesc’s sister has nothing to do with his career and she should not be getting grief from Arsenal fans, though to be honest I think that those people that sent her rude messages are not true Arsenal fans, they are just idiots.

 

Wenger has spoken about how he still sees Eduardo as part of his plans and that he has high hopes for him in the coming season.

“Eduardo is an Arsenal player and I am expecting a lot from him this season. He had a terrible injury – he went through hell – but I think his work rate is fantastic and his determination, which is exceptional, will be of great use to Arsenal.”

 

I would love it if Eduardo could stay with us and have a great season, but part of me feels that he will never be the same player that he was before his shocking injury and that we should let him move to another club in order to try and revive his career. If he does stay, let’s hope that he can stay free of the niggling injuries that have plagued him since returning to fitness following said injury.

 

As an aside, one thing which is still really annoying me since the World Cup is the praising of Suarez for his handling of the ball on the line in the Uruguay vs. Ghana game. The reasoning for this championing of his actions is given as something along the lines of “his handball wasn’t cheating because he was caught.” Well, I’m sorry, just because he was caught doesn’t mean he didn’t cheat, or attempt to cheat. To use that line of reasoning, Jeffrey Dahmer wasn’t a murderer, because he was caught and sent to prison. Cheating is cheating, regardless of whether or not it was seen by someone. Just because he was caught cheating, doesn’t mean that he wasn’t cheating. Venting done, sorry to drag that up again, but have just been listening to the 5Live Football Daily podcast… The same people that are praising Suarez lambasted Henry. Pricks.

 

Right, that’s that for today. I’m not going to talk about the Frey link as that is a link we have been seeing for years.

 

Take it easy.


Cesc gets stitched up by a bunch of w*nkers.

July 13, 2010

The World cup is at an end, brilliant, but the cuntishness of the Barcelona players that are part of the Spain squad continues unabated. Throw Liverpool’s Reina in with them, too. At last night’s celebrations in Madrid, where Reina was acting as an impromptu MC, he called Cesc to the front of the stage saying something along the lines of Cesc being the future of Barcelona and, on cue, Puyol and Pique (the one that was captured in an intimate, gay, pose with Ibrahimovic  in a photo taken earlier this year) pounced on Cesc and forced a Barcelona shirt on him. What a bunch of cunts and you have to feel sorry for Cesc and the way that they stitched him up. Also, it makes me pray that Reina will get roundly booed throughout each game that we play against Liverpool in the coming season. If you haven’t seen it, and if you want to, here is the video. *SPOILER ALERT: It’ll just make you angry. However, it is clear to see from the video that Cesc was embarrassed by the whole thing and couldn’t get the shirt off fast enough.

 

Thankfully, Cesc will soon be heading off on holiday and away from the shit stirring of those utter ballbags that play for Barcelona. Anyway, at least the whole tournament is over and done with and hopefully things will begin to calm down on the whole ‘Cesc to Barcelona’ and ‘Xavi the DNA expert’ stories.

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Speaking after the final whistle, our captain demonstrated his class and maturity when taking the time to dedicate his achievement to Arsenal and its fans and also taking the time to spare a thought for his teammate, Van Persie.

“All I can say is that this is for the Arsenal players, for the Arsenal fans, for the manager and for all of the staff. I am really proud to have been an ­Arsenal player…to be an Arsenal player. For me, it is for all of them because they deserve it and they have a ­world-famous club. I am an Arsenal player and I am really proud to be able to give this trophy to all the fans. I have had lots of texts and Blackberry messages. My phone is full.

I had a text from Arsene. He said, ­‘Congratulations, you deserve it’. I replied, ‘Thank you very much’, and said this is for all the Arsenal club, ­manager, fans and players who have helped me be where I am today.”

I thought about going to my family, but the first thing I did was go to ­Robin. I had to go to Robin, ­instead of celebrating with my friends, because I think he deserved it as well. It is ­really hard for him as he has been ­injured for a long time. Of course if it wasn’t us that he was playing against, I would be on his side.

Even though I was really happy, I was sad for him because he deserves it as well. He just said ­congratulations and told me to ­enjoy the moment. I really hope he has his chance again and that he wins it. He is a great guy, a great leader, but has been really unlucky with injuries. I really hope he can have his moment next year or in two our four years and that he can win something.”

 

It’s great to see him speak so warmly about Arsenal at a moment when you wouldn’t blame him for being lost in celebration. He exudes class and it really would be a massive loss for the club if he were to leave this summer.

 

In other news the Daily Mail links Besiktas, Valencia and Aston Villa with making a move for Eduardo and perhaps a move would be the best thing for him, in order to help kick-start his career again, especially if we were to sign Joe Cole.

 

With the World Cup now at an end and most people having returned to whence they came by the time you read this, I fully expect things to start moving on the transfer front. The Telegraph yesterday linked us with sealing deals for both Schwarzer and Cole sometime this week. Both deals, if they happen, would require relatively small amounts of money up front, thus leaving Wenger with a still reasonably hefty kitty for the procurement of another central defender.

 

Bendtner announced that his 35yr old missus is expecting their first child and I suppose all you can do is congratulate them both and hope that it will lead to more focused performances on the pitch now that his private life is becoming more stable.

 

Just a short one today as there isn’t a whole lot going on. Hopefully things will get a bit more lively as we approach our first pre-season friendly against Barnet this coming Saturday, 3pm, at Underhill.

 

Have a good one. I’m heading out for some pints in Tokyo tonight.


The end (of the World Cup) is nigh.

July 11, 2010

Greetings from Yokohama. Thank Jaysus it is still Sunday as I don’t think I could face work this morning. Anyway, today sees Spain take on Holland in the World Cup final and from tomorrow onwards things should really start moving in the transfer market for most clubs, hopefully we’ll have a few more deals to announce, too.

 

Talking ahead of the World Cup final, Cesc spoke about how he is looking forward to coming up against Van Persie and how it is a good tribute to Arsenal that they have two players involved in the game. However, it remains to be seen whether or not Cesc will get onto the field. Cesc also took the time to mention how Arsenal are already back at training preparing for the new season while both he and Robin are still finishing last season. Nice to see him keeping Arsenal in mind even though he is about to be involved in the biggest game of his life. One way or another, we will have a World Cup winner in our squad when the final competition ends tonight.

 

Elsewhere, Owen Coyle has again said that he would love to take Wilshere on loan again for the coming season and I must admit that I would be in favour of that in order to get him the games he needs so as to continue his development. He would certainly get more games there than if he stays with us for the season. Then, he can come back to us and challenge for a midfield berth in the 2011/2012 season.

 

Sandro Rossell yesterday demonstrated his lack of intelligence when stating that Barcelona want a short, definitive answer from Arsenal on the Cesc situation. They want a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. Well, all he needs to do is visit the club’s website and he will see the official statement the club made about a month ago. That was about as definitive as you can get with regards to Arsenal’s position on the situation.

 

Some media outlets are linking us with the Udinese goalkeeper Handanovic but I’m going to try and avoid all keeper-related speculation as the same media outlets also ran with the Wenger non-interview interview a few days back without verifying their source. So, it’s a bit like me pulling a tenuous link out of my arse and printing it as fact. Given that Handanovic is 25yrs old, I’d be surprised if Wenger signed him and thereby block Szczesny’s route to the first team for the foreseeable future. If we are to sign a keeper, I’d expect him to be in his 30s, with plenty of experience and would allow our younger keepers to develop some more before being thrown into our starting eleven.

 

In other news, Wenger spoke of his anger at how poorly France played and how unprofessionally they behaved at the World Cup. Though, is seeing a group of French people going on strike such a surprise? Anyway, it still doesn’t excuse how poor they were in each game that they played at the tournament.

 

Finally, best of luck to Robin and Cesc in tonight’s World Cup final. Let’s hope that both are involved and that it is a cracking game. Though, I have a feeling that there is a bigger chance of the former happening than the latter. I’m not all that enthused about the game, I must admit. Neither team has set the world on fire so far, despite each boasting a very impressive record.

 

Right, that’s all for today. I’m going to spend the afternoon debating whether or not I want to get up at 03:30 to watch the game, or to just wait and watch it on MOTD before going to work in the morning. It’s all been a bit quiet on the Arsenal front this weekend, not all that surprising considering the World Cup final is today. Take it easy.