It’s a long one today – (that’s what she said)

September 17, 2010

Yesterday saw the annual shareholders Q&A taking place with the manager. There wasn’t a huge amount of new information to come from it, but it is always nice for the shareholders, who are also fans, to ask questions to the manager and hear what he has to say. For more detailed comment on, and quotes from, the Q&A, check out The Goon Blog which has a three part post on the event: Part One; Part Two; Part Three. Arsenal Insider also has an in-depth post on the evening.

 

Wenger spoke about how Almunia and Fabianski were exposed to a lot of pressure in the summer, but neglected to mention the fact that all of that pressure was put on them by the manager himself by carrying out his open quest to sign Mark Schwarzer, always refusing to confirm who would be the club’s no1 for the current season.

 

There were some questions about signings and club ownership but the manager did a Matrix style dodge of the latter by just saying that he is a club employee and it is not his position to try and influence the ownership structure of the club. Regarding signings, he said that he is happy with the business that we did in the summer and that he always makes sure to meet a player before signing them. Unlike Ferguson, who signed Bebe without even having seen the player, neither in the flesh nor on DVD. I don’t understand why someone would sign a player without ever having seen him play or met him, especially when you consider that millions of pounds are at stake.

 

Anyway, on the financial side of things, the manager defended his spending policy by pointing out that in his time at the club we have built both a state of the art training ground and a new stadium which are the envy of most clubs across Europe. Whilst this is a very important point to remember, it also seems clear that there has been some money there to spend and the frustration that the fans feel, and vent, stems from the fact that we know there is money available and that over the past few seasons we have always been just one or two signings away from being a trophy winning team, but the necessary player investment has not happened, or at least the investment that the fans have perceived to be necessary anyway. Knowing the team is so close to being great, but for the required investment not to happen is hard for fans to take.

 

However, the manager should be applauded for keeping the club in the Champions League, and competitive, throughout the transition phase from the start of construction on the Emirates until now, despite such a restricted financial environment. To an extent, I can understand the slight reluctance to spend the available money as he knows that if the signing doesn’t work out, then he has chucked money away that he couldn’t afford to chuck away. Unlike someone like Redknapp, Wenger thinks long-term, but fans think short-term and get frustrated. He did reveal that the club is trying to get him to look at lucrative pre-season tours and it is something that he is open to as long as it isn’t in the same year as an international tournament and that it is for the right reasons.

 

There is an article in The Daily Mail where Keown talks sense and Townsend talks through his chocolate starfish about Wenger’s call for players to get more protection. The frustrating thing about this whole issue is that people are conveniently ignoring that Wenger isn’t calling for more protection for Arsenal players, he is calling for more protection for ALL players and an end to reckless tackling where players have no intention to play the ball. There is a difference between a hard and fair tackle where a player is honestly going for the ball, and a tackle where the player is more interested in stopping the other player than going for the ball. Anyway, it seems like the media and the English managers have once again begun circling the wagons and Wenger’s calls for change will get lost under the tag of ‘whinging.’ Warning, the above link has a horrible picture of the Eduardo injury towards the bottom of the article. Surprise, surprise, Graham Poll also misses the bigger point that Wenger is trying to make.

 

Following Wenger’s calls for a crackdown on bad/reckless challenges the media have, predictably, trotted out the xenophobic and moronic views of Allardyce and Coyle. The former being a long-time walrus lookalike and the latter probably being a bit bitter that he didn’t get Wilshere on loan again this season. I’m just waiting for them to complete the unholy trinity by cracking out the comments of Pulis over the coming weekend, whether or not the article with his comments will come with a picture of a naked head butt remains to be seen. Googplaya talks a lot of sense on the issue here.

 

Speaking of stupid tackles and recklessness, Aaron Ramsey has been talking about his comeback from injury. Fingers crossed that his recovery continues without any major setbacks, though I suppose some niggling muscular injuries are to be expected:

“No, I won’t have any second thoughts. I’ve seen the X-rays, I’ve seen the scans and the leg is strong so I won’t be thinking about the injury when I go in for a challenge. I have started running now and I have had good days and bad days but it is coming along and hopefully I can get back soon. There is no pain anymore.

The only good thing to come from this is that it has helped me realise how much my career means to me. Now I can’t wait to get back training and playing.”

 

Jack Wilshere has been talking about his breakthrough into the first team and how much he enjoys playing alongside and learning from Cesc. Let’s hope that he will have more than just this season to learn from our Catalan captain:

“It is perfect playing with Cesc and Alex in midfield. Playing with people like Cesc Fabregas makes it easy for you. He will talk to you and talk you through games. You saw what Cesc could do against Braga – it is perfect for me to learn from him.

It is good to get games and hopefully I can push on from here. I am just trying to break into the Arsenal first team. Last year, I had to go out on loan to get some games because there were some world-class players at Arsenal, but I have come back with more experience and the boss thinks I am ready to challenge for a place. All I can do is challenge and show them what I can do.”

 

On the injury front, there must have been some flying pigs over north London on Wednesday evening as the team came through a full game without picking up any new injuries. The news got slightly better when it was revealed that both Vermaelen and Diaby have been penciled in to be back for the West Brom game. Though it is disappointing that Vermaelen won’t be available for the trip to Sunderland tomorrow and his recovery has been a bit slower than expected. The squad for tomorrow’s should be the same as for the Braga game but there should be some rotation of the starting eleven.

 

Cesc and Clichy have been talking about how they feel that we can win the something this season and the fact that the Champions League final is going to be taking place at Wembley just serves as extra incentive to do well.

 

Right, I think that I have written enough for today, hopefully you have managed to stick with it until the end.

 

Have a good Friday. I have a busy weekend of high school festivals during the day and evening drinking sessions ahead. I will TRY to make a post tomorrow with a match preview, but may not have the time.

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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.


Theo Wal-nott & Ramsey signs on.

June 2, 2010

Greetings from a warm and sunny Yokohama. A bit of news to get on with so I may get on with it.

 

The big news of the day yesterday was the exclusion of Theo Walcott from the England World Cup squad. It was a surprising move by Capello and I imagine that Theo must be absolutely gutted. However, given Theo’s form he shouldn’t be all that surprised. He still has a lot of developing to do. Unfortunately, he won’t get the benefit of three or four weeks of advice and coaching from David Beckham, which begs the question; if Walcott isn’t going to the tournament, what do they have Beckham there for? I had assumed that he was there to help Theo, but I guess Capello has different ideas on that. It was interesting to hear that, at the beginning of May, Baldini told Wenger that Theo was going to the World Cup. So, what happened between the start of May and yesterday? Did Theo manage to play his way out of things during their training camp? Martin Keown has said that he isn’t surprised that Walcott hass been left out because he is a bit of a one-trick pony.

 

On the plus side, it means that he can have a full summer of rest and have a proper pre-season with us and actually be fit and fresh come the start of the season in August. The ol’ cloud and silver lining and all that.

 

It was also announced yesterday that Aaron Ramsey has signed a new contract with the club. It’s great news and obviously means that there are no real long-term fears about his injury. I really hope that he can come back and develop into a key player for us. Who knows, we could be closer to having a starting eleven including Gibbs, Wilshere and Ramsey than you might think. Give it two or three years and I think that they will all be regular first team starters. Am I being a bit overly optimistic? Ah sod it, it’s summer, the time for optimism. Hopefully Theo can also develop and become a regular starter.

 

Ramsey had this to say about his time at the club so far:

“I’m very happy here. It’s a great Club and I’ve learned a lot so far since I’ve been here. I think there is still a lot more to be learned and I am happy here. Every player wants to play in a team where they can play football and I feel that this is the way it should be played, so that’s one of the reasons I signed a new contract.

I think he (Wenger) has helped me massively so far. I think I have still got areas I can improve on but generally I think I have improved as a player and I had just started to show that and started to play a bit more in games but unfortunately then the injury came.

Regarding his injury, he had this to say:

"It was very frustrating. But there was nothing I could do about it. The way I think about it is that it has happened now and there is nothing I can do about it so this is my challenge now, to get back. That is what I am concentrating on.”

 

Apart from that, there really isn’t a lot going on today, all is quiet on the Cesc front which, to be honest, is a bit of a relief. It’s nice to get some respite from the shitfest that is Barcelona tapping up our captain. Still not a single word from either UEFA or FIFA on it. Surprise, surprise.

 

The Daily Shite Mail is reporting that we are considering sending Francis Coquelin to Lorient on a season-long loan in order to push through a deal for their defender, Laurent Koscielny. Can’t say that I am all that bothered about this rumour as I know nothing about the player.

 

Right, that’s your lot for today. Take it easy.


A chance to rebound.

May 10, 2009

Today sees us take on Chelsea at the Emirates in a game which gives us the perfect chance to rebound from the crushing disappointment of our exit from the Champions League. However, Chelsea will also be looking to do exactly the same and their exit from the competition must have been much more psychologically crushing than ours due to the manner of their exit.

 

The boss has said that he will stick with Gibbs for today’s game and i hope that he does because he is certainly a better prospect at left-back than Silvestre.

 

At the back we should therefore line up with Almunia, Sagna, Toure, Djourou and Gibbs. In midfield, I expect Song, Cesc and Nasri to play in the middle, with Song taking up the more defensive role thus leaving Cesc and Nasri more freedom to get forward. Walcott and possibly Van Persie may operate on the flanks, with Bendtner up front. Well, I hope that he starts with Bendtner up front as the young Dane will have a bit of a point to prove to the fans after his mid-week escapades. Though, it is more likely that Adebayor will start up front.

 

I think that Vela and Ramsey will get some playing time today, too. At this stage, I think it is important to give players like Ramsey, Vela and possibly Wilshere some proper first-team playing time ahead of next season.

 

Let’s hope that Arshavin can overcome his illness to play some part in today’s game.

 

In the Guardian today, Amy Lawrence talks about how Drogba is just the kind of player that Arsenal need. While he is a loathsome, diving cunt that I would hate to ever see wearing an Arsenal shirt, a player of similar stature and ability would be great for us. We need strikers that are willing to put themselves about and work hard for the team.

 

Despite Arséne’s comments on Friday that the players don’t know what is best for the team, Almunia has again come out and voiced his dissatisfaction with how we have done this year and that things need to change.

 

The young players are internationals and have been playing for Arsenal for a long time. They have played many games. They should have the experience now.

“Everybody is concerned by what happened against United. We need to be criticised. We need to do some self-analysis because Arsenal is a big club and we are not here to lose. Four years without a trophy is a long time. It’s too much for the fans – they deserve something more from us. Every time a team is in a bad situation you need someone to find a big solution.”

 

He went on to say:

“We played crazy from the start. We played more with the heart than the head. United didn’t do that. Can we compete with them next season? I don’t know. We’ll have to see what happens in the summer.”

 

He is right to say that this team need to be criticised, because they have been molly-coddled  a bit too much by the manager and they need to know that they have to start performing and delivering. They excuse of youth can not, and should not, be tolerated next season. This squad have been together for a few years now and the honeymoon period is now most certainly over. Time to deliver. It is a very big summer for the club in terms of transfer activity and maybe a look should also be taken at our coaching positions and maybe the assistant’s position, too. When I see Pat Rice sitting next to Arséne i just get images of Phil Neal sitting next to Graham Taylor in the infamous “Do I not like that!” documentary. He comes across very much as a ‘yes man’.

 

Reports in the Daily Star link us, yet again, with Fulham’s Brede Hangeland who I think would be a decent signing for us and could definitely strengthen our defence, given his performances for Fulham this season.

 

It appears that some tosser Portsmouth fan spat into Theo’s water bottle during the game at Fratton Park. Filthy bastard. That’s just not on, by all means shout abuse at someone, but spitting INTO a drink is out of order. I’m sure that the media won’t say much about it but, if they do, I am sure that Mark Bright will say that he’d rather get an elbow in the face, a broken arm, rib and leg and dislocated shoulder rather than have someone spit in his drink. We can but hope…

 

Even Alisher Usmanov is sticking his big fat oar in by saying that we need to invest heavily in the squad to catch up with ManUre. While despising the big fat Uzbek, I do agree that we must invest in this squad, but it need not necessarily be heavy investment as long as we get the right quality.

 

Reports in papers suggest that Wenger has between twenty and forty million to spend this season, but I imagine that this figure has been plucked right out of each journalist’s over-imaginative ass.

 

Lee Dixon has a good article in today’s Times and he is spot on with everything that he says. I must admit I like Yaya Toure and was impressed with him when he played for Barcelona against Yokohama Marinos (not the best of teams, I must admit) in a friendly a year or two ago.

 

Non-Arsenal related news, it was great to see Stoke beat Hull yesterday and with West Brom winning it sets up the possibility of Middlesbrough, Newcastle and Hull being the teams to be relegated. How great would that be?! Fingers crossed it’ll be ‘howay (with) the lads’ to the Championship next season.

 

If you don’t already, check out these other Arsenal blogs, they’re very good and offer well-balanced opinions. Arseblog; Gunnerblog; Goonerholic; East Lower.

 

** UPDATE: hahahahaha. Thankfully our players just have belt and gravity issues.

 

** UPDATE 2: The domain name for the site has now changed to http://thenorthbankblog.com

 

That’s all for today. Take it easy.


Welcome to The North Bank! It’s a big weekend for The Arse…

March 21, 2009

Being a Gooner in Japan isn’t easy. Kick-off times generally clash with the last train home, thus making watching The Arse in the pub a bit difficult. Though we tend to get almost every Arsenal game shown live on cable/satellite, so I can’t really complain too much because the option is there to watch the game in the confines of my own apartment.

Anyway, looking forward to today’s game, it really is a game where we need to take all three points and make the most of Villa’s loss of form and our continued unbeaten run. It really is due to Villa’s recent collapse that we have regained fourth spot and not our own unbeaten run as, while we remain unbeaten, our form hasn’t exactly been setting the world on fire.

Team news indicates a probable return in goal for Almunia and Eduardo will also be involved in the squad, although he probably won’t start. So, I expect us to start with Almunia, Sagna, Toure, Gallas and Clichy at the back. The midfield line-up will depend on whether Wenger goes with a 4-4-2 or a 4-5-1. Should he go with 4-4-2, I’d expect to see Arshavin, Denilson, Song and Nasri start with Van Persie and Bendtner up front. Though Diaby may start in place of Song, but if you consider that Song seems to be The Golden Child, I think it is fairly certain that he’ll get the nod.

A 4-5-1, would probably see us line up with Arshavin wide right, Van Persie wide left, Denilson, Song and Nasri in the middle with Bendtner up front by himself.

Expect to see Eboue to make his obligatory appearance at some stage too. Though, to be fair, he has been doing better in the last few games he has appeared in.

The loss of Walcott to injury, again, is a massive blow for the team as he really does offer us something that no other player in our squad can. However, at this stage we can just cross all appendages that his injury isn’t as serious as we all fear it may be. If he is out for the five weeks, as hypothesised by Wenger at yesterday’s press conference, then it really is a big blow for our aspirations. However, with the return of Fabregas, Adebayor and, potentially, Rosicky these players may help to offset the loss of Theo.

Early Newcastle team news seems to suggest that Owen will be dropped in order for them to play a defensive 4-5-1 with Martins leading the line. This is a shame as they would have been less of a threat with Owen in the starting line-up. Hehehe.

Elsewhere, we’ll be hoping for Spuds to do us a favour by getting an unlikely result against a resurgent Chelsea. I suppose a draw in the Liverpool v Villa game would be the best result for us, assuming we win today, in order to put light between ourselves and Villa and while also gaining ground on third place. A result for Portsmouth against Everton would also be welcome as it would, if nothing else, sicken Moyes.

Oh, given that week that’s in it, it would be a gross dereliction of duty if I weren’t to say that I hope Wigan stuff Hull in tomorrow’s early kick-off. Phil Brown really is a despicable, lying piece of sh*t.

Anyway, there are still a few hours until kick-off which gives me plenty of time to go out and get some cans of beer in for the game.

Right then, that’s your lot for today. Come on you Reds!!!