Will Petr Cech make a significant difference?

July 1, 2015

I think we can all agree that Arsenal have been lacking a truly top class ’keeper since “Mad” Jens left. Some would say that the lack goes back further to David “Safe Hands” Seaman’s departure.

We’ve seen a few come and go, Almunia, Fabianski and Mannone, while a few more have stayed, Szczesny, Ospina and Martinez. All have been given a chance to make the Number One shirt their own. None of them have been entirely successful.

The signing of David Ospina during last summer’s transfer window came as a bit of a surprise to most Gooners, he had had a good World Cup, was one of two first team ‘keepers at French Ligue 1 side Nice but was not happy to share the gloves with the young Joris Delle and so signed for Arsenal for around £3 million. He had a good but not spectacular first season and now seems likely to leave for pastures new.

So we come to our latest recruit Petr Cech, one of the rocks that Abramovich’s Chelsea were built on and a mainstay of the side since he joined in 2004, his 333 appearances say a lot about his consistency as well as his talent. There can be no doubt that he played an enormous part in the many successes that Chelsea have enjoyed since Abramovich injected his roubles into the then ailing West London club.

I don’t think there can be any doubt that Arsene Wenger has signed one of the best goalies in the world. I believe that Cech will bring an air of calmness into our defence and will give some confidence to our defenders. My personal belief is that he will certainly make a significant difference to our team and it’s prospects in the coming seasons.

What do other Gooners think?

Written by Norfolk Gooner.


Benzema for Koscielny anyone?

June 29, 2015

Just a little poser with a twist to follow on from Micky’s post.

I feel we need a top striker but am scratching my head as to who we can get that is :-

1 Top class and able to bring that class to the more robust EPL.

2 Potentially available (i.e current employers are willing to consider selling).

3 Their price is not over-inflated and represents true market value.

4 Their wage expectation is not over-inflated.

5 The player has an interest in joining us.

Most of the viable options have some question mark hanging over them with one of these questions. I have ruled out Suarez and Aguero as we will just not get them from those clubs, even though they tick every other box. Looking at some of the other candidates (that I like) my observation would be as follows:-

Cavani – Likely to be able to adapt to the EPL as he is a reasonable physical specimen. However he is over-priced by PSG due to over-paying for him. Unsure of any real player interest in joining us. Is he still one of the world’s best or has he slipped down a notch? Most likely factor to prevent transfer is PSG’s and his unrealistic expectation with transfer fee and wages respectively.

Lewandowski – Seems top grade and will likely adapt to the EPL due to his physical attributes. However he doesn’t seem surplus to requirements at Bayern and I have not heard of any interest on his behalf, so an unlikely option due to this.

Aubemayeng – Not yet a top proven striker but I feel there is a bit of the “Thierry- convert from decent winger to top striker – Henry’s” about him so would be a very good punt. Wages and transfer fee likely to be reasonable, however recent statements from Dortmund seem to be telling us to do one so this is looking less likely.

Higuain – Seems top class but maybe will not cut it in the EPL, and was considered second to Benzema when at Real so is he truly world class? Recent Napoli chairmen statements will likely make his transfer unlikely.

Benzema – Not without its difficulties but I still feel our best bet. Real seem to be looking for a shiny new toy so he could become surplus and may feel he doesn’t want to play second fiddle. I feel the club willingness and player desire may possibly be there. Players deemed surplus at Real, (and Barca for that matter…Aleeeexiiis :) ), are often still top players but are just victims of the Galactico recycling project. Is a physical specimen so should cut it in the EPL and has excellent link up play to fit with our (well Micky’s and my J ) desire to play with a fluid front 3.

Here is the twist……….

Real seem interested in Kos. Now if Kos said to AW no thanks I love it here then stop it right there and then and move forwards based on him staying. But if Kos expresses a slight interest that shows his head may have been slightly turned then maybe AW should say to Real “You only get him if Benzema is part of the deal”.

I love Kos but in my mind there are maybe 2-3 excellent alternatives to him at a reasonable price out there. The top striker position seems to be scarce and hard to fill at present, more so than the CD position IMO. Is it easier to replace Kos than it is to get a top striker in a straight off deal? Maybe this is our best, if not only, chance of getting that top striker in a reasonable deal.

So what do you guys think?

Written by GoonerB


Arsenal Transfer System Solution

June 26, 2015

The diary says Rant Friday, the mind says relax, all is cool and smokey dopey Glasto weekend.

On the transfer front, I suspect the real action will begin once the Copa America ends, and then the endless haggling will rumble on and on and on.

The really good news is that I have a solution.

Let’s look at the evidence. How many of our 1st XI would get in to the current Champions League winning Barcelona side? You guessed it. None. Maybe two if you are being nice and elastic. In other words, out there somewhere is a player better than we have in any one position. So, here’s the plan and like all great ideas, it is very simple.

Allocate your transfer budget. Say £70M (you’d recoup maybe 30 by flogging players with bad hair and so on). Ok, next step, allocation of funds. Don’t need defenders, so one midfielder, and one forward. Tidy so far.

Attackers are better than midfielders, so 40 on the front boy, and 30 on the other fella.

List all players who may be an upgrade. Reus, Draxler, Benzema, Cavani etc

Ditto midfielders. Schneiderlin, Wanyama, Bender, Vidal, Cavalho and so on.

Then take out a sodding great Ad. in SHOOT jobs section:

AFC OFFER £40M + 160k wages to …… (list potential applicants eligible to apply)

AFC OFFER £30M + 120k wages to …… (list potential applicants eligible to apply)

NO OFFERS. NO NEGOTIATION. FIRST COME GETS JOB.

No buggering about over the numbers. In budget. Get two serious upgrades. We’ll make a system to fit later.

Written by mickydidit89

 


Sir Henry George Norris (July 23, 1865 – July 30, 1934)

June 25, 2015

An Arsenal Blast from the Past No. 21

sir-henry-norris1

Born in Kennington, to a working class family he left school at fourteen to join a solicitor’s firm. Eighteen years later he left to pursue a career in property development, partnering W.G. Allen in the firm Allen & Norris. He made his fortune building houses in south and west London, Fulham in particular. He was commissioned into the 2nd Tower Hamlets Rifle Volunteers in 1896, but resigned the following year. From 1909 to 1919 he served as Mayor of the Metropolitan Borough of Fulham, a member of the London County Council from 1916 to 1919, and as a Conservative MP for Fulham East from 1918 to 1922.

During World War I Norris was a military recruitment officer for the British Army. He served in the 3rd Middlesex Artillery Volunteers and in 1917 he was knighted and given the honorary rank of colonel for services to his country. He was also a prominent Freemason, rising to become Grand Deacon of the United Grand Lodge of England, and a well-known local philanthropist with close connections to the Church of England; he counted the Archbishop of Canterbury, Randall Thomas Davidson as a personal friend.

He purchased Woolwich Arsenal in 1910 and controlled his club like a dictator. Unlike other club directors and chairmen of his era Sir Henry never served on boards to raise his standing in the community, he did things his own way. He made numerous powerful enemies both in and out of football due to his questionable tactics and bullying nature. His company, Allen & Norris, was responsible for transforming Fulham from a semi-rural outpost into an urban jungle. In the process of constructing, renovating and selling houses, he made a large network of contacts in building and banking, many of whom owed him favours. Photographs and written accounts suggest that his physical stature, actions and mannerism’s made him a man to be feared.

The Woolwich Arsenal board welcomed Norris with open arms, having heard of his political ‘prowess’ when he was a director of Fulham. He had negotiated their rapid rise from the Southern League right up to Division Two. Fulham’s rise in divisions took place in only four years and that led directors of other clubs to suggest that the Football League had received substantial backhanders, but no firm evidence was ever found. Sir Henry was already the undisputed master of subterfuge. On buying his majority stake in Woolwich Arsenal, he proposed a merger with Fulham and a permanent move to Craven Cottage to create a London ‘super-club’ but he was blocked by the Football League. Unable to merge the two clubs he set about rejuvenating Woolwich Arsenal and proposed that the club should be moved to North London enabling them to benefit from a local population of 500,000 in the districts of Finsbury, Hackney, Islington and Holborn. Chelsea, Orient and Spurs protested the proposal over concern for the erosion of their fan bases. The Tottenham Herald described Norris as an “interloper”, and a cartoon portrayed him as being the equivalent of the Hound of the Baskervilles, prowling around farmyards in an enormous spiked collar, ready to rip apart the Tottenham cockerel and steal its food.

An FA enquiry was set up to investigate the move but, once again, Sir Henry used his “influence” to stack the deck by appointing many personal friends to the committee and giving them information that would be favourable to Woolwich Arsenal. The committee ruled that the opposition had “no right to interfere”. The Tottenham Herald placed an advertisement begging its readers not to go and support Norris’s Woolwich interlopers stating that “They have no right to be here.”

A group of Highbury residents were equally indignant about the possibility of the undesirable elements of professional football creating a vulgar presence on their doorstep. But true to form Sir Henry launched a charm offensive on the group, assuring them that they’d barely notice a football club in their midst, and in any case, that 30,000-plus fans in the district every other Saturday would be excellent for local business. The next hurdle to cross turned out to be the Church of England, many on the ecclesiastical committee believed football to be ‘ungodly’ and local residents believed that the thought of the Church of England agreeing to a football club buying the land was inconceivable. But Sir Henry went right to the top and offered the church a donation of £20,000, the church committee accepted the offer and the Archbishop of Canterbury personally signed the deed to Highbury.

Highbury construction

With several members of the team killed in the Great War and no football having been played since 1915 Sir Henry’s hopes of transforming Arsenal into a super-club appeared to be in tatters. Having invested over £125,000 into the club, he faced the almost impossible task of rebuilding Arsenal from mid-table in Division Two to his dream “Super Club”. But he was about to pull another rabbit out of his hat. When the FA reconvened in 1919, Norris was full of confidence having just been knighted for his work as a recruitment officer during the war. He was also granted the honorary title of colonel and in the 1918 General Election had been voted Tory MP for Fulham East on a platform of “common decency”, “family values” and “moral strength”.

An FA management committee, anxious to get football back on its feet, proposed that Division One be expanded from 20 to 22 clubs. This wouldn’t seem to benefit Arsenal, who’d finished fifth in Division Two in the 1914-15 season, Birmingham and Wolves finishing third and fourth. It was widely believed that Division One’s relegated clubs, Chelsea and Spurs, would obtain a reprieve but Norris got to work his magic tricks on the committee. He secretly ‘canvassed’ every single member of the FA committee, with the proposal that Arsenal deserved promotion – however Spurs directors were kept completely in the dark throughout and suspected nothing. He also maintained that the Gunners should be rewarded “for their long service to league football”, neglecting to mention that Wolves had actually been league members for longer.

As for relegation-threatened Chelsea, Norris assured the Stamford Bridge chairman that his club would be reprieved as long as Arsenal got promotion. When the vote was taken, Chelsea got their reprieve, and Arsenal received their promotion. White Hart Lane was stunned. Even Tottenham’s parrot, presented to the club on the voyage home from their 1908 South American tour, was unable to cope with the news. It dropped dead, thus giving rise to the football cliché “sick as a parrot”. ‘Lucky Arsenal’ and ‘Cheating Arsenal’ were two of the more complimentary titles bestowed upon the club at the time.

Arsenal 1920

By 1925 Sir Henry had owned Arsenal for close to 15 years and they had still not won any trophies – he was convinced that the problem was his manager Lesley Knighton who he dismissed, shortly before he was due to receive a £4,000 bonus.  Huddersfield Town’s triple Championship-winning boss Herbert Chapman was appointed manager in 1925 but Sir Henry found the 5ft 6in Chapman, dubbed ‘Yorkshire’s Napoleon’ to be a real handful to manage. Chapman informed Norris that if he really wanted to see Arsenal win a trophy in his lifetime, he’d have to spend his cash: his main target, Sunderland’s brilliant striker, Charlie Buchan, was officially worth £5,000, but Sir Henry worked out a deal where he would pay £2,000 to Sunderland up front and £100 for every goal Buchan scored during the season.

Charlie Buchan

In 1927, the Daily Mail ran a series of articles alleging that Norris was guilty of making illegal payments to Charlie Buchan. Norris, they claimed, had given under-the-counter sums to Buchan to compensate for the loss of income he would incur from his move south – the player had to give up his business interests and buy an expensive house in London. The FA was strict about payments made to players, even though everyone in football knew that sweeteners regularly lured players to big clubs. Sir Henry had also personally ‘overseen’ the sale of the team bus in 1927 for £125, which somehow found its way into his wife’s bank account. The revelations were sensational how could such a high-profile member of the Conservative Party indulge in such financial malpractice? Norris challenged the Daily Mail’s allegations in court two years later, but the charges were upheld by the judge. An investigation by the Football Association followed, which uncovered that he had also used Arsenal’s expense accounts for his personal use to, namely to pay for his chauffeur. He sued the Daily Mail and the FA for libel, but in February 1929, the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Hewart, ruled in favour of the FA and the Daily Mail. As a result, Sir Henry Norris was banned from Football – forever.

Knighton, Blyth and Dunn at Norris hearing

After his death in 1934 from a massive heart attack, a kinder, gentler Sir Henry Norris could be glimpsed. His estate was valued at over £71,000 – the equivalent of over £4m today and not only were his widow, three daughters and two sisters taken care of, but Norris also looked after many of the Arsenal staff he used to terrify. Former manager Leslie Knighton was staggered to receive a cheque for £100 from the Norris estate, enabling him to take early retirement. Trainer George Hardy and groundsman Alec Rae received £50 each – over a year’s wages. Rae was likewise dumbfounded, as Norris was “always on to me if the pitch wasn’t quite like the croquet lawn he wanted”. The Fulham chapel where his funeral took place overflowed with friends and well-wishers. The vicar who conducted the service summed up: “Of the dead, speak nothing but good.” To this day, the regulars over at White Hart Lane might beg to differ.

Although Sir Henry Norris died nearly 80 years ago, his name continues to provoke controversy.

GunnerN5


The (Curious?) cases of Joel Campbell, Akpom and Sanogo

June 24, 2015

Here are three relatively young players that AW rates highly…

Joel Campbell had an outstanding WC2014 and then had some decent appearances but he was never really outstanding when playing for us or when going out on loan. Clearly, he is a talented player and he is highly viewed by many. The question is – what shall we do with him? Keep him, loan him or sell him?

Akpom has got the pace and a decent eye for goal. AW rates him and he has had a good career with your youth system like Afobe. Again what shall we do with him? Keep him, loan him or sell him?

Then comes the case (maybe the most curious) of Sanogo. A touted French striker that unfortunately suffered a horrific injury early on in his career…He then recovered and joined us on a free…He has again some potential but he is clearly not ready for Arsenal yet…So what shall we do with him? Keep him, loan him or sell him?

Looking forward to your answers

Written by RC78


Keep the Corporal

June 22, 2015

It is my belief that we should be looking to retain the services of one Corporal Carl Jenkinson at THOF for the immediate future and I will state my case as to why.

What would be the reasons to let him go? Firstly some would argue he is not good enough. Others would say that we are well covered in his position and that there is no place for him when we have Bellerin, Debuchy and Chambers who can all play there.

Out of all our British players the corporal is still playing catch up. He doesn’t yet have the experience of being a regular senior international player and is arguably not yet able to put in performances at the highest level on a consistent basis, as you would expect from the likes of Jack, Ramsey, AOC, Gibbs.

That doesn’t mean though that he will not reach this level and, as with many of our youngsters, it is too early to say whether he will cut it at the top level or not. There have been glimpses that he has that level of performance in him. His recent performances at U21 level have seen him looking like one of the best of the young England players participating. The one game though that above others sticks in my mind was his performance against Bayern Munich in our 2-0 away victory. I believe it was Robben and Muller that were changing flanks to have a go at our young rookie, but he managed to keep both of them quiet for more or less the whole game, which is no easy feat. If that kind of performance is in there and can be replicated consistently then we have a player.

What about the competition?

Bellerin is a fine player and would currently get the nod as first choice but I have 2 things in my mind where this is concerned. Firstly it might be nice to have the option of playing Bellerin as a speedy right winger at times with Jenks behind him. Secondly is the dreaded Barca DNA. I would say there is a good chance that we will lose Bellerin to Spain at some point in the future, and also while he is still in his prime, if not at his peak. If Jenks has developed into that consistent top level player the impact will be lessened, rather than facing the situation scrambling around trying to recruit a new top level player who may need to bed in.

Debuchy? Well he is over 30 so has a limited period that he can provide us with top level cover in this role anyway. Debuchy’s ability to cover at CD and possibly even for Le Coq, (according to RC he played there for Lille which I found an interesting option), means for me that we can keep all 3 with Jenks easing into a more regular role as Debuchy fades / moves on. If Jenks is not as likely to get that playing time right now then I would suggest we get another loan season going while making sure we have him secured on a decent contract term. Chambers can also cover the role but my preference would be to develop him as a CD.

Finally, and perhaps the most important of the lot is the home grown quota rules. This consideration really extends beyond Jenks to all our quality young home grown players. The home grown quota rule may start to bite on some top teams as much as FFP. The team with the greatest amount of high quality home grown players could hold a significant advantage in the next few seasons to come, and we are, in my opinion, in one of the strongest (if not the strongest) positions in this sense relative to our top table rivals. For me it is a hands off to the Chavvies and Northern Oilers with Jenks, Jack, Aaron, Kieron, Calum e.t.c

As always over to you guys for your opinions.

Written by GoonerB


Arsenal’s Oldest Fan?

June 21, 2015

The reason for writing this post is the upcoming 90th birthday of one John Alfred Churchill who has been going up the Arsenal with the Vines family for upwards of 25 odd years. He’s been attending games for a lot longer than that, obviously, but it’s only in the last few decades that he really established himself as part of the family.

The ‘oldest fan’ crack stemmed from a Champions League game against AZ Alkmaar in 2009 when John was a meagre 84 or thereabouts. Our habit in those days was to buy a few cans and sit on the wall alongside the Drayton (the away fans pub), just the other side of the South bridge at the Emirates Stadium. Some Dutch fans stopped to chat on that occasion and remarked on JC’s age, saying that most football attendees in Holland were aged between 20 and 40 and they’d never seen anyone as old as JC at a game. We tried to convince them that John was 104 years old and in their inebriated states were of half a mind to believe us. The next summer I sent John the card below for his birthday; a card he proudly took to his local chippy in a vain attempt to hoodwink them into believing he’d had cards from Her Madge.

1 (4)

Anyway, to get back to Mr Churchill, he was born on the 1st July 1925. Often’s been the time when he’s said that he’s not slept much the previous night due to guilty feelings over the stress and worry he caused his parents as a young lad. On one particular occasion, he hitched a ride in a lorry from London all the way up to Liverpool in the hope of blagging his way on to a ship. The police stopped his escape plan and sent him back to London after informing his parents he was safe and sound.

As a schoolboy, he played on the hallowed Highbury turf during an Islington schools final. His tale from this momentous occasion was that he played left wing, scored a goal but finished on the losing side, the score being 1-0. The punchline to this story is that he scored an own goal from a corner!

His desire to sail the seven seas led him to lie about his age and gain access to a seaworthy position in the Merchant Navy in the early 1940s during the Second World War. He became a gunner, learning how to fire the on-board defensive guns. His time with the Merchant Navy saw him through to the end of the conflict and left him with some shrapnel in his leg which still gives him some problems (when he remembers it’s still there)!

JC’s walking speed has never been that prodigious at the best of times but, for some unknown reason, always improves when he’s walking with a young lady. So we’ve been very happy when in need of a swift walk from the pub to get into the ground before kick-off if the said young lady has been part of our pre-match festivities!

2 (2)

Since I found the marvellous blog which is Arsenal Arsenal, many bloggers have met JC and all have commented on what a wonderful chap the old boy is. My ulterior motive in compiling this post is to get some of you to send him a card for his 90th birthday. I’d love it if he received a few cards from regulars on the blog from all over the country and maybe a couple from overseas, too; more of that later.

After the war JC joined the Civil Service and met my old man and they developed a lifelong friendship from there onwards. When clearing out my Dad’s house we found diary entries about their relationship from way back (fifties, I think), such as ‘JC says he’ll give up smoking if the cost of them goes up anymore’. As a matter of record he gave up about 3 years ago after many failed attempts. One time he tried to convince us that his doctor had advised him to start smoking again because he’d become such a bag of nerves!

My Dad used to have two seats in Block Z of the West Stand Highbury and JC was on his regular list of colleagues and friends he’d invite along to watch a game. The seat alongside my Dad’s two became available in the early 90s. JC was informed, bought the season ticket and thereafter, a regular feature of Saturdays, was JC turning up in his Volvo estate to ferry them both towards Islington.

Back to more recent times, JC’s love of going to the football is less in the actual game itself, but more in all of the familiar faces he sees at home games. He often approaches stewards and policemen/policewomen, touches their lapel and when they look down, brings his hand up to clonk them on the nose. Many of the stewards don’t get caught more than once but they all seem to enjoy the interaction as much as he does.

3 (4)

As I said before, our custom used to be to walk over the South Bridge to the ground, largely because my old man needed to be pushed in a wheelchair to get him to his seat. Passing the burger van on the corner of Aubert Park and Drayton Park, JC often stopped to shout out ‘Buy one, get one free’ or some such nonsense. The boisterous chap behind the counter developed quite an affection for JC after a time, always addressing him as “Colonel” and making cracks about Douglas Bader and other non-PC type jokes.

4 (3)

John has shown little sign of giving up attending games, though he tends to steer clear of evening kick-offs these days, preferring Saturday 3 o’clocks (as most of us do). We will continue to pick him up and take him to The Arsenal for as long as he so desires.

Long may it continue.

Back to my request for birthday cards……if you do receive a request via email to send the old boy a card to commemorate his 90th milestone, I’d be eternally grateful if you could post him something to brighten up his day.

Thanks in advance.

Written by chas


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 554 other followers