Le weekend.

August 27, 2010

Yesterday saw the draw for the Champions League league take place and it has left us with a hefty amount of travelling to do. I didn’t work out the distances myself however, courtesy of @Sebinho9 on Twitter, we are set to travel 3,181 miles, Chelsea 3,019 miles, ManUre 2,875 miles and Spuds will only have to travel 1,292 miles. So, in terms of travel, we got a pretty bad draw especially when you consider the games we have immediately after each group game.

 

We play the first game at home on September 15th to Braga and then travel to Sunderland the following weekend. Game two is away to Partizan on September 28th and is followed by a trip to Chelsea. Game three sees us take on Shakhtar at home on October 19th with a trip to Man Shitty that weekend. Game four is away to Shakhtar on November 3rd and is followed by a trip to Villa. Game five on November 23rd is away to Braga and is followed by a home game against Newcastle. The sixth, and final, group game is home to Partizan on December 12th and is followed by an away trip to ManUre.

 

So, as you can see, we have some really difficult games immediately after some long away trips in Europe and it is sure to test our squad to its limits. On paper, we should be able to top the group, but when you consider the games we have in the league after each tie, we are sure to rest some players for some of these games therefore making the topping of the group a little less straight forward than originally anticipated.

 

Game one, we are at home and then travel to Sunderland, not too bad. Game two away to Partizan and then back for a game at Stamford Bridge isn’t ideal, but at least it is closer than Shakhtar and also Chelsea are just across London. Game three is home to Shakhtar and away to Man Shitty that weekend. Game four we are away to Shakhtar and then away to Villa, so you can see a bit of rotation for one of those games, if not both. Game five sees us travel to Braga and then home to Newcastle that weekend, again there will probably be some rotation for both of those games, especially when you consider that games four and five bookend the month of November, a month that traditionally marks the low point of our season in terms of both injuries and results. Finally game six, in December, is home to Partizan and followed by an away trip to ManUre. For the final game, we would be hoping to have already qualified and therefore be able to rest some of our key players ahead to the trip to Old Trafford.

 

Yesterday also saw the manager’s weekly press conference take place, a day earlier than usual, no doubt due to the fact that the Blackburn game is a lunchtime kick-off on Saturday. I am still waiting for it to appear on ATVO, but it seems that the manager was a bit vague with regard to the signing of any more players. He neither said we definitely would or definitely wouldn’t, he just said that, at the moment, there is nothing going on.

“We are where we are – we have four great keepers and it is important we give confidence to them for the next game. I do not rule it out but at the moment I say I am not in a position to sign anybody. At the moment, it is all dead.”

Read into that what you will. John Cross, who attended the press conference, will be appearing on today’s Arsecast, so maybe he will be able to shed some light on what the manager said ahead of the video being posted on ATVO.

 

The press conference did finally result in the official announcement of the signing of Sebastien Squillaci and hopefully he will add some quality and experience to our back line. The manager had the following to say about the player and transfer:

“We needed a centre-back of quality and experience and at the right price – he was all of that. He is a real defender and is good in the one against one, good in the air, and can score goals on set-pieces as well. I believe he will be suited to the English game. He will train with us on Friday morning but will not be involved on Saturday. I made a bid on the day Sevilla played in the Champions League, so he did not play as he was waiting for the transfer.”

 

Team news ahead of tomorrow is that only Bendtner, Ramsey and Nasri remain unavailable. Denilson has returned to the squad following his injury. I think it’s safe to assume that Almunia will continue in goal.

 

That’s about that for today. The boss has less than a week to get the finger out and sign a new keeper and, at this stage, I’d settle for Schwarzer ahead of signing nobody, though he would be far from my first choice. I’m still hoping that we sign Given before the transfer window closes. Who knows, maybe Warren Barton was right… The links to Pepe Reina seem to have gone quietly away just as quietly as they arrived.

 

Enjoy your Friday and take it easy.

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Sunday round-up.

May 16, 2010

I’m a bit knackered today after a ten hour marathon beer session during and after a Yokohama Baystars game yesterday, so this post will probably be shorter than usual. Well, I say that, but what with my propensity to waffle it could be the usual length.

 

A quick look at the papers today, and when I say papers I mean their websites as I don’t have access to the papers themselves here in Yokohama. Nasri revealed that he doesn’t talk to Gallas and that he isn’t the only one to not hold El Crapitain in the highest of regards. If, as looks increasingly likely, Gallas moves on when his contract expires, then maybe some harmony will be restored to the dressing room. It’s just a shame that we won’t get any money for him, but at least we will get his high salary off our wage bill. That’s a saving of something like 4m a year, money which can be reinvested in the likes of Chamakh and whoever else we sign in the coming weeks and months.

 

Jack Wilshere says that he’d be happy to go on loan to Bolton again next season and I hope that he does. It would be great experience for him and he would certainly play more games there next year than he would if he stayed with us. That would take him a step closer to our first team when he returns at the end of next season. It would be good for him to have another year at a club that isn’t as big as Arsenal, that way he will appreciate the club more when he comes back.

 

We’ve also been linked with a move for Jagielka and I think he’d be a decent signing for us. He’s experienced and is the right age. It would be good to have one or two English players in the team, too. Who knows, we could have Gibbs, Walcott, Jagielka and Hart in our starting eleven next season. Of course, that’s assuming that Arsene relents and actually goes out and signs a keeper…

 

I could talk about the Cesczzzzzzzzzz, but I have said all that I am going to say on that matter already but, if an when something concrete happens, I will comment on it if necessary. Until that time, it’s not worth commenting on. Right now I have it filed away under the double heading of ‘Tabloid shit-stirring & Barca presidential campaign candidate pandering.’

 

We have, yet again, been linked with a move for Gourcuff, though how much truth there is in the link remains to be seen. He’s good, he’s French, so it is inevitable that he gets linked with us.

 

I’ve seen a mention of plans for a protest at the Emirates Cup should Wenger fail to sign a quality goalkeeper before then. Seriously, is that a route that we want to be going down a few weeks before the new season gets underway? We should be starting the season with an air of positivity around the club, not under a cloud of pessimism and protests. If Wenger does sign a quality keeper, I’d be delighted. But, if he doesn’t then we will just have to suck it up and get behind our team and our keepers. If fans get involved in protests about not signing a keeper, that’d destroy the already fragile confidence of our current first and second choice keepers. Plus, if we start holding protests, that puts us at the same level as ManUre fans. We should strive to be better and more dignified, more Arsenal.

 

Right, that’s about that for today. Take it easy.


Super Sunday? I hope so.

May 9, 2010

So, here we are, the final day of the season and, despite our supposedly easy run-in, we find ourselves needing a result against Fulham today in order to secure third place. Frustrating, yes. Unbelievable, yes. Infuriating, yes. Depressing, most certainly yes. But, that’s where we find ourselves and the players now have to roll their sleeves up, put in a shift and secure the points needed to prevent ourselves being pipped to third by Spuds.

 

I know I said yesterday that I wouldn’t be doing a post today, so think of this as an end of season bonus post to make up for the lack of posting throughout the season. It’s going to be a short one, I think.

 

Being in Japan, I don’t see all of the newspaper articles that you may see back in Ireland and the U.K., but the rumour is that Gallas could be on his way to Roma with Big Sol, as expected, being offered another year at the club. I have to say that another year for Sol is totally deserved given his form since re-signing in January. It’d be good to have him around the team for another season and hopefully he can give some good advice to the other defenders in training. Who knows, he could end up being our defensive coach once his playing days are done. Though, given Wenger’s phobia of all things defensive, that may not happen. We can but hope.

 

Does anyone else find the music played for the ‘Weird and Wonderful’ item on ATVO extremely childish and very shit?

 

In an ATVO interview Walcott hit the nail on the head when saying that the big teams have brushed us aside when playing us this season and we really do need to inject some steel and also a killer instinct into the team, going into next season. We have to learn to kill teams off when we have the chance. Remember the days when The Invincibles used to be three or four goals up before half time, sometimes even before 30min? We need that kind of killer instinct again. We need teams to fear us again. Teams facing us now know they don’t need to fear us because we have a lot of obvious weaknesses which they can exploit. Overall, the team is shorter than it used to be, so it is easier for teams to out-muscle us. We need a big more fight. We need to stand up for ourselves when teams try to bully or out-muscle us.

 

I have found myself using a line made famous by Droopy on countless occasions this season when watching Arsenal, that is: ‘You know what? That makes me mad.’ This has generally happened when watching Lukarse in goal. Of course, that is a watered down version of what I’m thinking at the time but, after the fact, that is what it translates to. We need to get some of the old Arsenal back.

 

I don’t want to sound too negative as there are also a lot of positives to take from the season. We can look at the huge improvement of Song, the immediate impact of Vermaelen, the fantastic performances of Van Persie and Cesc and even, dare I say it, the Eboue Redemption. Nasri has shown signs of improvement, though he is still not consistent enough just yet. Of course, I shouldn’t leave out Big Sol in terms of success stories this season as he has been outstanding for us since January. There was also the emergence of Ramsey to challenge for a first team spot until Chewbacca almost tore his leg off. So, we can take a lot of heart from these things going forward into next season. Let’s hope that Theo can make the same magnitude of improvement next season as Song did this year.

 

If we do secure third place this season, then you would have to view it as being an improvement. Yes, there are still many areas of the team that needs strengthening, but it would be an improvement nonetheless.

 

Three points today, that’s what we want. Come on Arsenal, finish the season on a positive note.

 

Right, that’s enough for today as it has already been a much longer post than I had planned. Take it easy.


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.


He is the Walrus, goo goo g’joob.

May 3, 2010

So today sees us take on that horrible walrus and his bunch of journeymen. I always hate games against his teams because they never have any interest in actually playing football against us, they just want to kick players. There’s also the fact that he deludes himself into thinking that he always outwits us tactically, which is a load of c*ck. Instructing your players to kick the other team off the field isn’t tactically outwitting anyone. Though, of course, it never gets labeled as that, instead it is called ‘committed’ or ‘getting in their faces’ which gives it the misleading notion of being a good trait for a team to possess. Let’s hope we blow them off the field today and stick it to their hateful manager.

 

I don’t expect the team to change much from the one that faced Wigan. The keeper and back four should be the same. In midfield, I think that we will line up with Diaby, Song and Nasri in the middle, as Denilson has been ruled out for the rest of the season. I would go with Walcott and Van Persie out wide and Bendtner up front in order to give us a bit more aerial presence.

 

Almunia is still ruled out with his phantom wrist injury and it’s quite possible that he has played his last game for the club. I like Almunia, he seems like a very nice guy but, to be honest, he isn’t the required standard to be the Arsenal no1.

 

I also expect Arshavin to be out for the remainder of the season, joining Vermaelen, Denilson and Gallas on the list of muscular injuries, which seem to be one of our fortes.

 

For the kicking journeymen, Emerton, Grella, Samba and Diouf may all return. So expect some spitting and kicking from the latter.

 

I heard a rumour that the pitch at Ewood Park hasn’t needed fertilizing since the walrus took over as manager as his players do enough sh*t-kicking on it for that not to be warranted.

 

I won’t comment on the Arshavin quotes until they have been verified one way or the other. Though I suspect it’s a bit of agitating by an agent looking for a payday rather than the player himself.

 

Right, that’s it for today. Come on you Reds!

 

(One final note, the ‘walrus’ moniker comes courtesy of Arseblog. If you haven’t already read that site, check it out. You should also check out Gunnerblog, Goonerholic and East Lower)


Kroenke Tonk Stan making a move.

November 5, 2009

So our now good friend Kroenke Tonk Stan has today brought his holding in the club to 29.9%, edging him ever closer to the 29.99% threshold that would require him to make a formal offer for the club.

It’s interesting to see him edging closer to that mystical figure, but to be honest I don’t think that he will do anything until next May or June as waiting until then would result in him saving some £88m as he could buy shares at the £8,500 mark as opposed to the £10,250 (if my memory serves me correctly) that he would be required to offer should he hit/pass 29.99% before then as the latter figure is the highest sum he has paid for shares in the last few months and which takeover rules dictate that he would be required to pay.

No point in speculating any more at this point as due to Kroenke Tonk Stan’s silent ways we don’t really know what his plans are. All we do know is that he does things in a much more dignified and Arsenal-esque way than that big fat Uzbeki. If he does make a move at some point, the most important thing is that he doesn’t do it by burdening the club with huge debt like has happened to ManUre and Liverpool.

Last night saw us give AZ Alkmaar a good seeing to with a great performance from the team which saw two more goals from Cesc, who really is in fine form of late, with one each for Nasri and Diaby. It was good to put in yet another strong performance and we seem to have made the Emirates a bit more fortress-like this season, which is good to see. Perhaps it is finally starting to become our real home now, although Highbury will never be forgotten as it was such a magical place to watch a game.

Anyway, short and sweet today. Have things to do.

Take it easy. I’m off to listen to the Rolling Stones…


Another three points would be nice.

October 3, 2009

Greetings from a rainy Yokohama. The weather has been a bit rubbish over the past day or two, but still warm so I suppose I can’t complain too much.

 

The midweek Champions League game saw us dominate and beat Olympiakos 2-0 with goals from Robin Van Persie and Arshavin and assists coming from Eduardo and Cesc respectively. The Arshavin goal, although clearly offside, was a great finish.

 

Thursday saw Wenger become the longest serving manager in the club’s history and it is fitting that the man who has brought about the greatest seismic shift in the fortunes of the club and the quality of football that it plays should go down in history as our longest serving manager. Clubs that change their manager at the drop of a hat should take note; faith and longevity breads improvement and success.

 

This weekend sees us taking on Blackburn and that cunt Big Fat Sam. He couldn’t even bring himself to pay the boss any kind of meaningful compliment on his achievement. At least Fergusmoan gave the boss a better compliment. So, let’s hope that we stuff those cunts on Sunday.

 

Eduardo and Almunia are out of the game tomorrow, as are Denilson, Djourou, Nasri and Fabianski. However, Bendtner should recover from his car accident last Sunday and Walcott is in contention for a return to action. Arshavin has alluded to a niggling knee injury and let’s hope that is doesn’t escalate and keep him out of the side.

 

Elsewhere, Cesc says that the boss is a god, Xavi says that Cesc should zzzzzzzzzz. there has also been some talk that someday Henry will return to Arsenal in some capacity and I for one would love to see that happen. He was, and still is, a true Arsenal legend and for him to still watch reserve and youth games on Arsenal TV while in Barcelona shows that he still has a strong love for the club. Hopefully he can come back in some capacity after he hangs up his boots at Barca.

 

That’s about that for today. Take it easy.