Saturday round-up and West Brom preview.

September 25, 2010

Today sees us take on West Brom at the Emirates. Kick-off is at 15:00 GMT and coverage will begin on J-Sports Plus at 22:54 JST.

 

The manager revealed that both Diaby and Rosicky are doubts for the game and were set to undergo fitness tests yesterday. As of yet, I haven’t heard anything with regards to the results of said tests. Though I think that we can assume that Diaby won’t make the game as he has a history of taking time to recover from injury. Perhaps Rosicky will make the bench. Squillaci missed the Spuds game with a muscular problem and he may make the team today. Eboue is also struggling to be fit due to a knee problem. I would be fairly certain that Gibbs will not be involved in the match day squad as there is no point in taking any kind of risk with him. He will probably be back for the game against Chavski, even though the manager has said that he has a chance to be involved in the Champions League game in midweek.

 

That should see us line up with Almunia, Sagna, Koscielny, Squillaci, Clichy, Song, Denilson, Arshavin, Vela and Chamakh. That’s assuming a worse case scenario in that only Squillaci shakes off the ‘small’ injury he had. I think that if we didn’t have so many players carrying small injuries, that Wilshere would certainly have been rested for this game, but I don’t think that we can afford to rest him considering that Cesc is definitely out and there may be a small question mark over Rosicky and Nasri. Though Nasri said after the Spuds game that he should be okay. Who the third man in central midfield will be will depend a lot on the outcome of the fitness tests, otherwise it will go to Wilshere, or one of JET, Eastmond or Lansbury or Nasri.

 

The team needs to re-focus quickly for this game as it is a game in which we must get all three points. We are already playing catch-up on Chavski and cannot allow them to get any further ahead before our against them next Sunday.

 

Yesterday, following the announcement to the club’s finances, there was the inevitable outcry as to why we don’t spend money and that Arsenal has gone from a football club to a business. However, I think that much of the criticism has been grossly unfair on both the manager and the club. Given the number of rich benefactors that have entered the game, had Arsenal stayed at Highbury they would now be dead in the water as they just wouldn’t be able to, or have any future chance to, compete financially. Therefore, the move to the Emirates was vital in order to secure the long-term future of the club, without the need for rich investors. In order to make this move work, the club had to put itself into a scary amount of debt and for this to work we had to embark on a youth development oriented approach to the future. Financial prudence had to be exercised.

 

This approach was accepted in the beginning by most, if not all, fans as we all knew that it was what was needed. However, over time, some quarters became more and more angry and disillusioned with the club and its seeming reluctance to spend. What sometimes has gotten lost in the argument is that in the beginning the money just wasn’t there to invest and then in the more recent years, although the money has been available the manager has not wanted to buy a player that would block the progress of the young players that he had spent the last four, five or six years developing. The manager himself said as much himself in Matt Law’s article in the Daily Express:

“We make a profit because we don’t spend – simple as that. What is unbelievable is that people reproach me for making a profit, but nobody says a word about those who lose money.

I manage in a safe way, but it looks like we are in a business where the quality is to lose money. You know I have the wrong reputation. I’m not scared to spend money, but the job of a manager is not to spend as much money as possible.

To get Chamakh for free – instead of getting credit I get accused for getting him for free. ‘Why did you not spend £20m for him?’ If I bought him two years ago for £20m, then it’s OK. But when you get him for free it’s, ‘Oh, Wenger didn’t spend money again’.”

 

The manager really must feel like he just can’t win. If he spends money and buys players he will either get stick from the fans for bankrupting the club or from the media for fielding a team of foreigners. Likewise, when he is financially prudent and tries to bring through young talent, he gets killed for turning the club into a business and being reluctant to spend. It seems that no matter what he does he will get castigated by someone, so I prefer he continues with the policy he has now.

 

In the same article, the manager went on to defend his youth oriented policy:

“I am reproached for not buying players but, for example, if I buy players Jack Wilshere doesn’t come through, so you cannot have everything. I have a development policy to educate the players and the most difficult thing is to stand up for the policy and play them.

I’ll give you one day the list of those players at the top level who have made careers with me. You will be absolutely astonished – nobody else in the world has made so many careers.

How do I know? First, make a list of the players who started their top-level careers at Arsenal. People like Djourou, Senderos, Clichy, Gibbs, Fabregas, Song, Ashley Cole. If you go all the way back through the names it is unbelievable the number of players who started at this club.

But I speak about me. When I go back to Monaco, the number of players that started with me – Petit and Thuram. When I arrived in England nearly all the Manchester United team had started there, but not recently.”

 

The Daily Mail somehow manage to get a big article today out of the fact that Wenger doesn’t generally share a drink with the opposing manager after a game. Quite why this is an actual story is beyond me. Why would ANYONE want to share a drink with the likes of Pulis or Allardyce? Now, I could envisage him sharing a drink with Ancelotti as he seems like a genuinely nice bloke. But, why would he want to share a post-game drink with two managers that have had nothing but bad things to say about him? Speaking on the matter Wenger told the official site:

“I’ve got nothing against it. When you play away from home you are in a hurry to catch the plane and you are playing three days later. Once I do my press, and my press can last quite a while, I have no time. Most of the time my assistant will go and have a drink.

 
I recognise that [can make me seem aloof] but there’s no bad feeling in that, I just feel after the game you stay on your own and you don’t want to disturb people. I’ve always had that philosophy, even in France. When I arrived here I didn’t know anyone. The managers all knew each other and played alongside each other but when you arrive from a foreign country you don’t know anyone.

I’m not shy, I didn’t even know this tradition existed before I came here. And it’s not that we have nothing in common – we love football and we both love to win. I’m always happy to meet people at the Emirates but away from home we want to get away as quickly as possible. After the game my mind is on the next game but sometimes other managers go quickly as well. When we are at home we always invite them in.”

 

That’s about all I have for today. I’m glad it’s Saturday and that Arsenal are live on TV again. No need to go chasing the stream today.

 

Have a good weekend. I’m off to debate (with myself) whether or not I should go out drinking in Tokyo/Yokohama tonight, or just have a chilled evening at home with cans of Kirin and shouting expletives at the TV.

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Injury updates and a look towards the weekend.

September 23, 2010

As exclusively revealed here yesterday, the scan on Gibbs showed only bruising. We can consider ourselves very fortunate that he will only be out for a relatively short period of time as he is a player that is very important for us this season as we need him to keep up the pressure on Clichy to perform week-in-week-out. Although the injury was feared to be the second metatarsal, which is different to the one he broke before, another metatarsal break would have been a major blow for the player and his development. So, bullet dodged.

 

Hopefully another ten days of rest will sort Vermaelen out and he can make it back for the Chavski game.

 

Enough of the bad news and on to some better news on the injury front. I can reveal that Diaby, Walcott and Van Persie have all started running again and so they are slowly making their way back towards being available for selection. However, as of yet, no date has been set for the return of any of the three players. I suspect Diaby will be the first of those to return, though given his injury history that may be a wildly optimistic prediction. One way or another, the above three players and Fabregas should all be pretty fresh for our traditional hell month, November. I haven’t heard anything on the Bendtner injury front.

 

Looking ahead to the weekend and we will be taking on West Brom at the Emirates on Saturday afternoon. Kick-off is at 15:00 GMT, which means coverage will begin at the much more convenient time of  22:54 JST. I am really looking forward to being able to watch the game at a more sociable hour. The game will be shown live on J-Sports Plus, while at the same time J-Sports 2 will be showing Liverpool vs Sunderland. The early game between Man Shitty and Chavski will be shown live on J-Sports 2 from 20:39. Looks like it will be a decent evening of football for me.

 

The team selection for the weekend should see Almunia, Sagna, Koscielny, Squillaci and Clichy play in defence. Midfield is likely to see Song, Denilson, Rosicky, Eboue, and Arshavin start with Chamakh again being the lone man up front. I think that Wilshere will be rested and Nasri may also be rested as there was a slight fitness worry over him at the end of the Spuds game.

 

The last thing we need is to take risks with the fitness of the players, so it would be prudent to exercise some caution with Nasri if there is any doubt at all over his fitness. Wilshere could also do with a little breather ahead of the Champions League and Chavski games next week. We should learn a little more about the possible weekend team selection over today and tomorrow as the manager’s weekly interview and press conference appear on ATVO.

 

Looking at the Carling Cup this could be our best chance for years to go on and win it. Liverpool, Chavski, Everton and Man Shitty are all out and it would be nice if we could get a favourable draw in the next round. We all know that for any of the big teams, the Carling Cup is the lowest priority, however, this team needs to win something in order to instill that belief and winning attitude. They need silverware, regardless of how low of a priority that competition may be. They need to experience winning a final. They need to know that they can do it. If that happens, it could be the catalyst to start an era of dominance for this team. I know that that last sentence is a bit Myles-esque in its hyperbole, but I really think that once the first trophy comes more will quickly follow. Much like going out drinking at the weekend and needing to use the bathroom, this team needs to break the seal. This is a sentiment echoed by Rosicky in the Daily Express.

 

I have a feeling that Wenger’s team selection against Spuds revealed that he may be coming around to the same way of thinking. Outside factors such as the easing of the club’s debt may also mean that there doesn’t need to be such an emphasis on blooding youngsters in this competition as we are not as reliant on that for continued success as has previously been the case. Or, it could just be that we have seen many of these players playing in the Carling Cup for a number of years now and it doesn’t feel like we are playing a weakened team in that competition anymore. These players are, for the most part, ready for inclusion in the first team squad and so the fruits of previous Carling Cup campaigns are paying off. Maybe it’s a combination of all of the above. All that I know is that I would love to see this club win a trophy this season and if that trophy is the Carling Cup, so be it. We have to start somewhere.

 

Speaking to the official site following the Tottenham game, Rosicky revealed his admiration for Jack Wilshere and he basically echoes the thoughts and sentiments that all fans have for our emerging star:

“He is great talent. For his age he has a great brain and he has a great future. When he has got the ball he is very calm, that’s something that sometimes younger guys don’t have – they panic a little bit or something.

With him you don’t see that though – he is very comfortable with the ball. That’s the first quality you are looking for and he has got that. Obviously we want Cesc in our line-up but all players who started showed that they are ready.”

 

Even though I am Irish, the fact that Wilshere is an emerging English talent does make him a bit more special. I suppose it also helps that the emergence of the likes of Wilshere, Gibbs, Lansbury, JET and Eastmond gives the media one less thing to denigrate Arsenal for. All of these players have big futures in the game, hopefully that future is at Arsenal. The days of the media harping on about Arsenal not fielding any English players, not that that should make a difference anyway as it is about quality not nationality, should be at an end.

imageThe future?

 

That’s a longer post than I had expected to write, so I’d best just stop here. But before I go, check out John Cross’s article on tackling. It’s a good read.

 

Take it easy.


We’ve got Six Fabregas.

September 16, 2010

Good morning. I think that we can all be happy with the result of last night’s game and especially with our performance. The team played really well and it is a great sign that even with so many players absent due to injury the team can still put in top quality performances.

 

Granted, Braga may not be the greatest team in the world and they made the team’s job a lot easier by allowing our players space and time on the ball. But, we shouldn’t forget that they dispatched Celtic and Sevilla in order to get to the group stage and they finished ahead of Porto in the league last season. So, they are by no means pushovers.

 

As expected, the team, lined up in defense with Almunia, Sagna, Koscielny, Squillaci and Clichy. Though, in midfield, we started with Song, Wilshere, Nasri, Fabregas and Arshavin with Chamakh playing up front. I had thought that Wilshere may have been rested for the game as he has played quite a lot so far this season but he had a good game and his cheeky little back-heel for Chamakh’s goal was the icing on a good all-round performance by him. Let’s hope that he can keep his feet on the ground, because if he can do that he will develop into a world class player.

 

The goals came from Fabregas (penalty and header), Chamakh, Arshavin and two for Vela. Fabregas was great again and I think he is now back to his normal level, which is great. I also think that the arrival of Chamakh has made a difference too as his link play, holding up the ball and work rate is something that we were missing up front and it is nice to have a striker that is not afraid to get hurt in order to get on the end of a cross.

 

The most exciting thing about this season is that the team seems to have grown, learned and improved when compared with the last two seasons. That is great to see and it is also good to hear the manager say that we can no longer use being young as an excuse for not winning. The manager, players and fans all know that it is time for this team to deliver, no excuses. I, for one, really have a feeling that this could be a big year for us.

 

I’m not just getting carried away on the basis of last night’s result, but if you look at our games this season we have certainly grown as a team and the only blemish on our record is the 1-1 draw at Anfield, which is never a bad result, especially when you are a goal down with one minute left on the clock. Compare that with ManUre, whereas we are gaining a point late on, they have twice lost points late on.

 

The team has character and is showing signs of a greater resilience. Let’s hope that they can continue this vein of form as we can all remember them starting well before only to let their work-rate drop and as a result the performances and results  reflected that. Hopefully this year they will put right that issue.

 

After the game the manager spoke about the quality of our performance:

“We won the game but I believe as well we played the game we wanted to play, at a high pace, with top technical quality and with a lot of creative attitude and a good concentration and collective spirit. Our game is based on that. It’s our philosophy and, for long patches of the game, we managed to express that. I believe we had many good performances on the pitch. Everybody played quite well, we were sound at the back, Wilshere had a very good game as well. Everybody played well.”

 

I suppose the only real downside of the performance was the poor accuracy of Arshavin’s passing and that is an area that he needs to work on. At one stage his passing accuracy was around 56%, which just isn’t good enough at that level. Defensively we could be a bit more solid, but hopefully that will come as Koscielny and Squillaci get used to the league and each other. Clichy is also a bit of a worry and it can only be a good thing that he now has Gibbs breathing down his neck.

 

The manager also revealed that Diaby has some bruising and ligament damage. We can only hope that they crack out some Oleg Luzhny placenta to help his recovery along and that he is back in training sooner rather than later.

 

Next on the agenda is a trip to the Stadium of Light at the weekend and it is a game where the team will need to stay fully focused in order to keep our current good run going and to keep pressure on Chelsea and ManUre. The game is a 17:30 GMT kick-off, which means that it’ll be a delightfully convenient 01:30 JST kick-off here… I hate when we have a late kick-off, though at least Sunday is a day off.

 

That’s about all for today. Check out Arseblog and Gunnerblog who will probably have a more in-depth report on last night’s game. Though, I suppose that’s what newspaper websites like The Guardian are for.

 

The shareholders’ Q&A session should be taking place this evening from 6pm-7pm, so hopefully there will be some interesting things to come out of it.

 

Right, that’ll do for today. Take it easy and enjoy the feeling of a 6-0 victory in the Champions League.


Weekend round-up.

August 29, 2010

Apologies for no post yesterday. This wasn’t due to illness, nor was it hangover related. It was simply because I went to the beach to drink beer and eye up the local Japanese girls in their bikinis. A noble excuse, I am sure you will agree. Today’s blog may suffer in quality due to my being out in Tokyo until just after 10am this morning, so bear with me.

 

Anyway, yesterday’s game saw us get a nice little bit of revenge over that cunt-monger, Allardyce, and showed that despite letting Blackburn come back to 1-1, we were able to get the second goal and it is nice to be able to win by a one goal margin. However, it is now two goals conceded in our opening three games, so I think there is still some work to be done on the defensive side of things.

 

Victory came courtesy of goals from Walcott and Arshavin, the former actually breaking the net with his shot. Blackburn’s goal came from M. Diouf, the slightly less cuntish one. Theo made some good runs and he played very well overall. Take that Hansen, you fool. On Walcott’s performance, Wenger had this to say:

 

“Theo saw more of the ball last week but today he was still dangerous and sharp. It looks like he’s more confident and his experience is beginning to count.”

 

Robin Van Persie went off yesterday with a twisted ankle and we can only hope that it is a small injury, but not the type of ‘small, small’ injury which results in our players missing a-month-to-six-weeks of the season. Though his missing of the international games is no bad thing at all.

 

After the game, the manager said:

 

“We had a good start but in my opinion we were too nervous dealing with the game of Blackburn. Who would not be unsettled by the kind of game Blackburn gave us today?

Last year we had bad memories here and because we knew they would play the kind of game we don’t like we had not enough confidence to deal with that. In the second half I felt we were calmer. We put the ball well on the ground and controlled it better and it was just a question of time. We had the right resilience and commitment.

If you have ambition in this league you have got to win at Blackburn. If you fail to win at Blackburn – if you go to clubs like that and you don’t win – your ambition will not be respected by the other teams so it was an important test for us. The players are committed and we had that little bit more experience today, even if on just one or two occasions we were a bit lucky.”

 

The importance of yesterday’s result shouldn’t be underestimated. Had we lost yesterday, or had we been held to a draw after being twice ahead, it would have affected the confidence of the team and would have given the media, and fools like Allardyce and Pulis ammo to say rubbish like ‘Arsenal don’t like it up them’ and all of the other rubbish that we have to read every year from that type of idiot manager, which in turn gets endlessly repeated in the tabloids and Sky Sports News, which in turn is believed by the masses. No team ‘likes it up them,’ unless it is some kind of shirt-lifter team. Every team hates it, it’s just that some are better at dealing with it than others.

 

For a more comprehensive report on the game, check out Arseblog, Gunnerblog or Goonerholic, whose links can be found in the top right corner of this page.

 

Speaking about the transfer market, the manager said:

 

“[It has been incredibly difficult, I must say. It’s the first year I’ve felt like this. The clubs who had players didn’t want to sell and therefore there was no movement. I don’t know if it’s the 25-player squad rule, is it the money situations? But there is just no movement. It’s dead.”

 

There is no doubting the fact that the transfer market has been very quiet and perhaps a way of making it a bit livelier would be to limit the transfer window to be open only for the month of July. This would also have the added benefit of all teams being finalised before the start of the Premier League season. In a World Cup or European Championships season, the window could be open from mid-July until mid-August. I’ve never been a big fan of the transfer window remaining open after the league season has commenced.

 

Elsewhere, Tony Pulis is annoyed over recent comments Wenger made about Stoke and, in particular, their missing link between man and ape, Ryan Shawcross. One can only assume that Pulis is going to rock up to the Emirates naked to deliver his letter and will try to fire a head-butt in the process. Sod off, you fool. The real question should be, what the hell were you doing naked in our away dressing room and trying to head-butt one of your own players, whilst naked? Answer that before you start talking about esteem, respect etc.

 

Finally, yesterday’s Carling Cup draw gave us a tasty away trip to Sh*te Hart Lane. It’s a big game and will be a chance for some of our younger players to get experience playing in a hostile environment.

 

That’s about that for today. I’m off to eat some food and to lie on my sofa for a while. Take it easy.


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.


A quick Tuesday round-up.

June 1, 2010

I’m writing this post after work on the train from Tokyo to Yokohama, so I’m not sure how long it will be. Yesterday was a quiet one in terms of Arsenal related news so I decided not to post anything as there really was nothing to say. I’m still trying to figure out if there is much to say today. One thing that did happen, in a didn’t sort of way, was the passing of the deadline which the Star set on Sunday for Joe Cole signing for us.

 

It seems like there is a real interest in him from both ourselves and ManUre. Given that he is a London lad and hasn’t ventured outside of the capital to ply his trade, you would have to figure that we would be slight favourites for his signature, if that side of things plays a factor in his final decision. Would signing both Chamakh and Cole serve to help Fabregas decide to stay for another year or two? His signing, while not entirely desirable, would certainly help to boost the strength of our squad. Luckily, he isn’t as c*ntish as some of his fellow Chelsea teammates.

 

Xavi moved one step closer to being a fully-fledged member of Mensa by saying that he predicted a whole two years ago that Cesc would one day rejoin Barcelona. Well done, Xavi. It is clear that you shouldn’t be playing for Barselona, you should instead by working at CERN. Nothing new or earth shattering in his quote and it’s just more of the usual Barselona skullduggery of trying to get a player to do their tapping up for them.

 

Arshavin has described Arsenal’s season as being nothing special, even pitiful. I’m assuming that he has been misquoted and that he actually was referring to his own performances and overall contribution to the team over the season. Maybe that is the reason we are interested in Joe Cole….taxi for Arshavin? He owes us a really good season next year, if he is still at the club.

 

Gallas missed the end of May deadline that he had been set by Wenger for the signing of a new contract, so it’s time for us to forget about him as an Arsenal player, though I get the feeling that some of us have felt that way about him for a while. Time for our former captain to go and sit sulking on a pitch somewhere else. It never really worked out as we had all initially hoped that it would. Good player but a bit of a mentally imbalanced loon, too.

 

The newspapers are becoming really, really lazy with regard to the Cesc transfer story as we are just seeing the exact same quotes turning up again and again with nothing new to add to the story. It’s all a bit tedious and boring, to be honest.

 

Almost at Yokohama, so it’s nearly time for me to wrap this post up. I’d just like to thank those that sent me messages on Twitter yesterday regarding newspaper (tabloid and broadsheet) reporting and portrayal of UK born players versus foreign players. I’m doing my MA thesis on whether or not racism, xenophobia or unfair bias is used when portraying incidents involving UK and foreign players. If you can think of any specific game/incident where you remember newspapers doing this, please leave it in a comment below. Eg: Ryan Shawcross ‘isn’t that kind of player’ after nearly taking Ramsey’s leg off, but Gallas is ridiculed for a slightly late tackle against Bolton. Oh, it can be about ANY premier league team or player, it’s not Arsenal specific. Thanks in advance.

 

Have a good Tuesday.


Fulham preview and news round-up.

May 8, 2010

The final game preview of the season is here and a little more news has begun to trickle through regarding tomorrow’s game, though it has come more from the Fulham side in that both Duff and Zamora are confirmed as missing out. Both are welcome absentees from an Arsenal perspective as it was Zamora that tortured Sol a few years back in what turned out to be his final game for the club in his first stint here. So, I’m sure Sol will be happy to not have to face him again, as am I, because he has been in good form this season.

 

The manager said that there is a chance that Clichy will play, but to be honest I would rather see him take a chance on Gibbs as it is the final game of the season and even if Gibbs were to have a setback, there is still plenty of time for him to recover before the new season gets underway. Not that I want him to have a setback, but you know what I mean. I think that Gibbs will be the future of the club at left back, so it would be nice to see him get a bit more playing time under his belt before the end of the season.

 

Both Van Persie and Arshavin should start the game, probably Walcott, too, with no other players to return since the Blackburn game. That leaves the manager with one huge decision to make, that being who to play in goal tomorrow? If indeed Almunia DOES have an injury, then it is a choice between Lukarse and Mannone. Neither of those choices fills me with great confidence but, I would pick Mannone ahead of Lukarse as we know that Lukarse has a definite mistake in him in every single game he plays, guaranteed. Mannone may be younger and less experienced, but I would have more confidence in him to do a job for us tomorrow, especially as he had such a good game against Fulham before. It’s crazy that Arsenal are in the situation where we’re hoping our third choice keeper plays instead of our 2nd choice, but that’s where we find ourselves so we just have to get on with it. Pray to whatever god or higher power you believe in that Wenger goes out and buys a quality keeper in the summer.

 

So, our probable line-up tomorrow will be: Mannone (hopefully), Sagna, Campbell, Silvestre (God help us), Clichy, Walcott, Eboue, Nasri, Diaby, Arshavin and Van Persie.

 

I think Eboue will keep his place after looking bright and making some good runs against Blackburn last week. Though we may see Eduardo start in place of Walcott. If that happens, we could see Arshavin and Van Persie starting in the wider positions with Eduardo up front. Van Persie plays out wide for the national team, so he could be a good support for Eduardo, who is likely to play his last game for the club tomorrow.

 

Elsewhere, the boss says that Tottenham deserve their place in the Champions League and as much as it pains me to say it, you can’t really disagree with that. After 38 games, the league table doesn’t lie. But, we’d better not let those bunch of c*nts pip us to third. I was at the Villa game a good few years back on the final day of the season when ManUre clinched the title on the final day by beating Spuds and a bunch of Spuds c*nts came down to Islington to gloat/goad the Arsenal fans. So, we can’t give them the chance to do something similar again.

 

The boss also came as close as he ever has to confirming a transfer without actually confirming it when saying this about Chamakh:

“It is not officially done, but we are confident on the boy. When all is clear we will come out and announce it.”

 

So, we are a step closer to having our first signing officially announced. Now, Arsene, get the finger out and sort out our goalkeeping and central defensive issues, please.

 

Of our current league predicament, the manager had this to say:

“I am surprised because I thought we would make the points before now. I know this match comes after a few disappointing results and of course since we have gone out of the Champions League there was a little downer in our heads. But I think we have enough pride and quality to finish the season well and to secure third place.”

 

It’s the job of the manager and his staff to make sure that the players retain their focus, fight  and desire, despite the disappointment of going out of the Champions League. You get the feeling that there was an air of complacency floating around the club in that they thought that a 3rd place finish was a given. This year should be another lesson to the team that nothing can be taken for granted in the league. But, how many times do they have to be taught this lesson? I wonder can Demento lend his hairdryer to us this weekend, because some of the players need a good kick up the arse.

 

Talking about possible transfers and team progression the boss had this to say:

 

“If we bring some players in then they have to be experienced. I think we have been in the race this year with the team we had. We will be stronger next year just with the internal improvement and with the experience these players will have. The additions will be minimal but if there are some they have to be really top class.”

 

In a strange way it is the final line of that quote that scares me the most, because we have heard the manager say this before and he has then gone out and signed Silvestre. Fingers crossed he means actual quality players this time. They don’t have to be expensive, as long as they are good. Also, I hope that our players actually do learn from the experiences of this season.

 

Anyway, this is the final game of the season, it’s at home, so I hope that our fans will give their all to drag the team across the finish line. The team needs our total support tomorrow. One game, three points. Let’s get the job done.

 

One final note, I’d like to wish Robert Pires (one of my all-time favourite Arsenal players) all the best in finding a new club after Villarreal told him that they won’t be renewing his contract. I still wish that we had never let him go.

 

Take it easy. I’ll be back on Monday.