January Transfer Targets Pt.1.

Transfer targets. This two part post is an attempt to inveigle some of you to give us your ideas of where the team needs strengthening and more importantly, why.

Goalkeeper: We have signed an experienced Italian GK whom no-one knows about nor has seen play as back-up to our two Poles. Can’t see the point in that at the moment. Fabianski is a very good deputy to Szczesny who has been on top form so far this season. Apart from a poor game at home to AV, TPIG has been very good – just what we want to see from such a young keeper developing his skills. His decision making in terms of coming for crosses is a bit conservative (IMO) but he has eradicated most of his “Hollywood” tendencies.

Szczesny’s failings remain distribution, though he is definitely improving. His kicking lacks accuracy and as such he is tending towards the safe option of throwing to the wings in order to create a counter-attack which is fine as we are not a route one team.

images

Viviano in training for the Bench

My guess is that Viviano was signed in the knowledge that Fabianski will move on sooner rather than later. Without having seen him play it is impossible to judge but International caps for a country renowned for good keepers is a decent testimonial.

Transfer Target?  No need, though I do accept some people are less than 100% secure about our No.1.

Full Backs: Starting on the left we have Gibbs and Monreal. I would suggest that after Ramsey, Gibbs is our most improved player and fully deserves his call up to the England squad. Monreal must wonder why he signed as he would surely have expected to be first choice given his high transfer fee. But that fee is further proof of Mr Wenger and the BoD’s commitment to creating a high quality squad. Having a player of Monreal’s ability both as left sided MF and LB cover is insurance in case Gibbs suffers yet another injury. Vermaelen has shown he is a capable understudy should both get crocked.

Unknown

The New Lee Dixon?

Right Back: Bacary and The Corporal.  Sagna is back to his best and Arsenal must make him sign a contract extension – whatever it costs, because he has AFC experience and is a senior pro, plus he can teach Jenkinson how to become a world class RB. As of today, The Corporal has much to learn; his crossing is poor, his defensive awareness average and his tactical nous lacking, yet, he has huge potential. The man has considerable energy, is a Gooner and clearly wants to learn BUT …… would you be happy to see Jenks start over a long period of time if Sagna gets injured (which as an older gent he is prone to be)? I wouldn’t.  And this is where the genius of Mr Wenger raises it’s shiny pate – we have The Flamster, who is worth every penny of his, no doubt, huge salary.

Transfer Target:  Once again, no need.

Centre Backs: Mertesacker, Koscielny, Vermaelen (& Sagna in emergencies). I love The BFG – he has brought a level of a calmness to the defence not seen since …. ermm ….. the last CB who was calm! But the other two? Koscielny is prone to a rush of blood and too often has given away silly fouls in potentially dangerous areas – just look at his push in the penalty area last Sunday. A red card and a penalty already this season is not what we want from what is an exceptional defender. He has pace, superb awareness, hence his high interception count, and is strong both in the air and in the tackle.  Vermaelen is too good a player to sit on the bench and yet his career has been in reverse for almost 2 seasons. I love his rampaging style and his clenched fist attitude but he is so focussed upon winning that he can neglect his defensive duties. Sagna? A decent option and hasn’t let us down but we need a specialist CB. The decision to let both JD and Miquel go out on loan is baffling in the extreme

Transfer Target;  I think we need to buy and buy someone in BFG’s class. If we really are going to challenge for the title we have stop conceding silly goals. One clean sheet in the PL and that against the Hapless Hotspurs is simply not good enough especially considering how well our GK and FB’s are playing. I realise Kozzer is a crowd pleaser and that he gives his best every time he plays but quite frankly, we need better. I would sell TV (even if he is Club Captain) and spend big in January, hoping for the new CB to bed in by March – ready for the CL Final in Lisbon.

Player Suggestion;   Williams at Swansea has been mentioned but I don’t think he is good enough. I want top quality not decent PL. My choice would be  Neven Subotic of Borussia Dortmund. Yes, he would cost a lot but he is only 24 and already played 36 times for Serbia. He lived in the USA (representing them at youth level) and as such is fluent in Americanish. Or better still, how about his more mobile partner – Mats Hummels, also just 24, he is  fantastic player and already an automatic starter for Germany. If he won’t come mid-season, please Mr Gazidis make him ours in summer.

images-2

You heard it here first.

One would have to ask why they would leave BD but, as we know, money talks and the opportunity to join the German Invasion at AFC must be appealing. Buy, Buy Buy.

My next post will concentrate on the other areas of the pitch and who knows, with this excruciatingly long Interlull (©Arseblog) there could be a “Should Paul Lambert be the Next AFC Manager?” post to follow!

written by Big Raddy

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100 Responses to January Transfer Targets Pt.1.

  1. Gööner In Exile says:

    A fine summation Raddy, I have been ruminating over wing possibilities myself which may be your post 2 so will not put my thoughts here.

    I think you have summed up the defensive areas perfectly.

    According to Twitter we have agreed a deal to take a highly rated young Bristol City keeper, if true it probably further negates the need for any signings between the sticks. In reality we need a No 1, a capable No 2, and a third to break open in emergencies, no PL club has more than that for two reasons…..keepers like to play and play every game, unlike any other position on the pitch they need to be tested, and they don’t care if they are not winning trophies as many fine keepers finish their playing careers with huge respect but no silver to show for it, the second reason is obviously cost, having 2 No 1’s means paying a lot of money to one player who is likely to warm the bench for an entire season, unlike any other position it is not rotatable, well it is bit it doesn’t work, and they can’t be used elsewhere on the pitch.

    As for the defence I am still happy with BFG and Koz and can only see a benefit of signing someone if they are better than what we have, as you say the sale of Vermaelen could allow for a bigger spend. Altho I fear United are also going to be in for centre backs come January judging by Vidic and Ferdinand’s performances, if Dortmund have been eliminated by is from the CL both mentioned players could be available as the Dortmund empire appears to be crumbling with players leaving for pastures new, and others angling for moves away.

    Full backs I am satisfied I think Jenks has a hard task coming in behind Bacary but if he is allowed to have a run he often starts to look more convincing. Full back is a key area on the pitch for the way we are set up to play, hopefully he can continue to do an adequate job.

    With all these targets we have to ask what happens to what we have got already, would Koz hang around for long if demoted given there has allegedly already been interest from other clubs.

    It is a careful balance to strike acquiring new players, especially if we want to retain an identity.

  2. Williams at Swansea has been mentioned but I don’t think he is good enough. NONSENSE.
    Ashley Williams is a class CB and voted Swansea s player of the season for the fourth season on the trot.
    He a great player and he is also captain of Wales and he can defend tackle and pass what more do we need .
    And he’s not very old and I think he will leave Swansea soon where he goes I’m not sure but I’m hoping he goes to us

  3. Norfolk Gooner says:

    Good morning to you all,

    Oh dear, BR you’ve opened the floodgates of speculation. :(

    Still as you’ve done so I’m going to do some too. I was one of those calling for a top class ‘keeper so was a bit disappointed when we signed Viviano, but since then Szczesny has been on top form so no need for one now.

    Totally agree about full-backs, but we must get Sagna signed up to a new contract.

    One more centre-back would make sense, either of Raddy’s suggestions would do.

    Not sure about your suggestion for an upcoming post though. :D

  4. And the corporal as u call him is an average player.
    He would not be in my squad he’s to clumsy and can’t read the game very well .
    The new lee Dixon that’s a laugh ,more like the new Dixon of Dock green .

  5. Simon says:

    Bit early for transfer speculation isn’t it!?

    Having said that, I don’t think we need another CB, yes, koscielny can be a bit rash when it comes to the last ditch stuff, but next to the BFG, 99% of the time he plays well.
    As for jenko, he needs a good run of games to get a little bit of confidence and understanding with the rest of the defence

  6. kelsey says:

    “My next post will concentrate on the other areas of the pitch and who knows, with this excruciatingly long Interlull (©Arseblog) there could be a “Should Paul Lambert be the Next AFC Manager?” post to follow!”

    bump :)

    Keepers intrigue me.

    I believe Fabianski is on his last year and has had a yo yo career at Arsenal, so maybe he is off and the Italian will come into his own.

    Our number one Pole, if nothing doesn’t lack confidence,is still very young,has improved this season,but still has his lehmann moments,but looks the real deal.

    Why sell vermaelen ? he had one poor season which doesn’t make him a bad player,but we do concede a little too often and again I think that is partly due to a lack of understanding as a unit, and Kozzer’s rash moments which seem to happen a little too often.

    Sagna IMO has been our best defender so far this season and that in itself makes the gulf between him and Jenkinson quite apparent.
    Jenkinson is still very young and if we are seriously looking at winning the title, and why not, we have cover in Flamini, so agree with you Raddy.

    Arteta is my main worry. He is getting older, slows play down dramatically and was injury prone at Everton so one needs to monitor him after his recent injury and wouldn’t be my automatic choice in the team.

    You find some of Wengers decisions baffling ;)

  7. GoonerB says:

    Cheers Raddy, you know there is nothing I like more than a post that invites me to play fantasy football manager.

    Goal-keeper – agreed, leave alone for the moment

    Full-backs – agreed, leave alone for the moment, unless we are due to lose Sagna of course, but I would be more inclined to decide what to do at the time, rather than pre-empt it in January, once Jenks and maybe even Bellerin are assessed more.

    Centre-backs – partially agree. I agree more with Kelsey and think TV is slightly under-estimated. I still see a top class CD who just hit a poor run of form. You can’t be certain that any replacement will actually be better than TV at the level we require anyway. There are a number of CD’s that look good at their current clubs but may find the step up in level to us doesn’t see them look quite so astounding, and in reality no better than TV. I would leave this area as is in terms of senior CD’s but source a young promising CD who can hopefully look to challenge for a regular 1st team spot in a couple of seasons time.

    Your intended post on Paul Lambert will tie in nicely with one I am penning Raddy titled, “Tony Pullis, the next Arsenal manager – the pros and cons”. I am having a slight problem as currently I have more cons than a Paul Newman movie with an egg eating scene, and less pros than Karaoke night at the Romford Dog and Duck. Any suggestions from anyone on how I can balance it out a bit?

  8. kelsey says:

    Don’t throw the towel in, GoonerB .Can’t wait to read “Tony Pullis the next Arsenal Manager” :)

  9. chas says:

    Nice one, BR.

    I think the defence is ok at the moment and in terms of spending in January, the priority has to be on a striker but that’s for another day. I can’t imagine us spending big on Subotic or Hummels.

    How about a post entitled, ‘Fat Sam, is he just fat or would he seal up our leaking bilges?’

    Why you got to go and say fifty eggs for? Why not thirty-five or thirty-nine?
    I thought it was a nice round number.

  10. Red Arse says:

    Just been catching up on the comments on the previous Post.

    I agree with you, BR, that the comments were, overall, conducted by all parties in a very moderate and mature way, altho’ the opinions were very different.

    My impression, like yours, is that WATA was courteous and expressed himself well even if he had caused something of a furore by expressing opinions that were guaranteed to cause dissatisfaction.

    The main problem, it seems to me, is that the unchanging views expressed by WATA have been aired countless times before, and so have the responses to him.

    It appears to have been, yet again, a dialogue of the deaf with many, tho not all, of the regulars responding angrily to what read like a hymn of praise to Ferguson and Man Untd, whether that was intended, or not.

    The solution may be for WATA to continue to air his opinions, however factually inaccurate or hackneyed some bloggers find them, and any AAer who finds them anathema can simply choose not to respond.
    Consequently, those who agree with WATA can chat with him to their hearts’ delight. Solved!! :-)

    Now, back to your delightful Post, oh Big Raddish! :-)

  11. GoonerB says:

    Nice clips Chas. Have you seen the “Carrie” coffee shop prank clip? Not sure if it has been put up on the site before but I found it rather amusing.

  12. Red Arse says:

    Chas,

    Rumour has it that you do not necessarily require water, or indeed a wet suit to conduct your duct tape surfing. :-)

  13. TERRY MANCINI HAIR TRANSPLANT says:

    Herb

    If your reading Herb, i would like to apologise for my remarks to you. You have always been courteous and friendly with me and never disrespected my views as I done yours. I also regard you as a blogging friend, so please accept my apology.

    My only defence is that at the time of posting I was watching that Waterloo film with Rod Steiger playing Napoleon.

    Napoleon / Steiger was winding me up, so in my desire he receive a damn good thrashing I somehow got confused.

  14. weedonald says:

    Great idea fomenter BR:

    1) We are fine between the posts.
    2) Kos is a wild card at times but is usually superb with Per, so if it isn’t broken don’t mess with it. Vermaelen is a winner and Sagna has already said that his future is at CB so we have strength there…no need for more bench-warmers.
    3) Jenks will take time, just like Gibbs did so lets give him time….Flamini can cover there very well….so unless in juries pile up, we don’t need more bench-warmers there either.
    4) wenger has to balance his need for an immediate transfer against the number of youth and reserve players coming up. It is a tricky situation given that we tend to pile up injuries over a 38 game season BUT unless there is an Ozil quality player available for any position needing strengthening, then he will likely stick with what we have for the moment.
    5) We have Sanogo,Cazorla, Diaby, Walcott, the Ox and Podolski coming back over the next few weeks so we will get an injection of core players and that will help enormously.

  15. LB says:

    Happy, happy, happy, different style of striker please.

    Good read as ever BR

    Can’t wait to read the reasons why we should have Paul Lambert as our manager.

  16. Jamie says:

    Great post Raddy.
    I disagree with your idea that we need a CB.
    I remember a recent post by Mr. Didit saying we need to concede a few more goals if we want to win the title so how about playing our under18 back four for the next few games:-)

  17. Bayonne Jean says:

    Nacho is an interesting case. Leading up to a World Cup, where almost everyone wants to play for their country, for players to be selected, they should be playing regularly for their club. Monreal’s game time is being suffocated by Gibbs’ great form, and the irony is that Gibbs is still at best third choice LB for England, behind A. Hole and Baines. Woy will only take two LBs; he almost has to take Baines for his free kicks, and could cause a controversy with his senior players and who knows who else if he drops the Chelsea guy.

    TV5 may be victimized in the same way. And what of the midfield trio of JW, the Ox, Theo, all of whom will likely not get consistent playing time, with Ozil, Ramsey, Arteta, Rosicky, Flam all in the mix.
    Would Ox be the odd man out for England selection?

  18. chas says:

    Jamie,
    You’re dead right.
    West Ham have only conceded 5 to our 8 and they’re 13th.
    Case proven, the more you concede, the higher up the table you are. :)

  19. Norfolk Gooner says:

    What’s all this nonsense about Lambert, Pulis, Allardyce etc being the next Arsenal manager?

    You all know that it was only the colour clash between the reserve team toilet walls and his orange tan that prevented Phil Brown being appointed years ago.

  20. Gööner In Exile says:

    Lambert, Allardyce, Brown, Pulis? Come off it lads.

    I’m still gutted we didn’t get Dave Basset instead of George Graham, I mean Bassett had taken lowly Wimbledon from 4th division to 1st division very quickly, we should of let Howe stay on and appointed him instead of Graham, if only the BoD could have waited for Basset to complete his Wimbledon journey.

  21. Norfolk Gooner says:

    I agree GIE, but having failed to get Basset, shouldn’t we have stuck with Bruce Rioch? instead of appointing an unknown, non-elite nonentity like Wenger. I blame David Dein for all our ills. :D

  22. evonne says:

    Good post, thanks Raddy
    I am happy with the current squad and cannot see how we could improve it, unless we bougth Messi and perhaps Manuel Neuer.

    Peaches would probably be delighted with Hummels :)

    Same applies to the next manager – cannot see anybody that could even shine his shoes. Blinkered? So what :)

  23. evonne says:

    Terry – so you don’t have cousin George? I like the guy already

    Morning Rocky – yeah, Czech’s hat had me in stiches. Interestingly enough nobody else at home thought it funny

  24. Big Raddy says:

    Quiet day and almost certainly a thumbs down for this post – at least I don’t have to write Pt 2 :-)

    Bets part of the post was the Viviano caption.

    Clearly the Lambert post will create more interest.

  25. TERRY MANCINI HAIR TRANSPLANT says:

    Hi evonne

    Yes, I have a cousin called George, 23 of them in fact.

    I will bring him along to the tavern some day so you can meet him. Unless its the last day of the month, then he will be busy blocking the traffic on Bounds Green High Road dressed as Napoleon serenading angry drivers with Love Me Tender

  26. TERRY MANCINI HAIR TRANSPLANT says:

    Fine post Raddy

    The only additions i would like is another tall centre back and striker who can unlock defences.

    Suarez and Williams would be very nice.

    With these additions, our current probability of winning the league of 97.5% would shoot up to 99.9%

  27. evonne says:

    terry – I love ‘unusual’ characters :) Ordinary people that have a part time job and think yoga is exciting are no fun whatsoever

  28. chas says:

    I don’t know about anybody else, but I find this exciting.

  29. chas says:

    Especially with the sound off.

  30. Red Arse says:

    I would have her as our next manager, Chas, neither Wenger nor Ferguson can give you what she does. :-)

  31. RockyLives says:

    Very good interlull debate starter BR.

    Quite clearly we need a striker in January so I have no doubt AW will move decisively for a central midfielder or a goalie :)

  32. RockyLives says:

    Don’t take it personally BR – it’s quiet all round Arse-land during an interlull.

    So you’re not getting away without writing part 2 that easily :)

  33. RockyLives says:

    Redders
    @8.10
    Wise words from Wichita :)

  34. evonne says:

    no chas. Watched with the sound on and off, and still nothing. Weird if anything. Why would anybody want to do that??

    Back to football – poor Poles are almost certainly out of the WC, but they still need to endure humiliation from Ukraine and UK. Someone posted the other day that WC and EC are pointless. I don’t think so, in fact I think it is only true if you are a Club supporter, preferably an obsessive one. I know many people who love internationals, take great pride in watching and some travelling around the world following their nation.

  35. Double98 says:

    This is how it works

    Reporter: Jack. What Day is it?
    JW10: Its Thursday

    headline

    Fag Ash Jack takes a swipe at Kiwis

    Jack Wilshire stoked the colonial fires today, by questioning the residents of New Zealand and indeed Western Samoa’s very grasp of reality.
    “Its Thursday afternoon” he says smugly despite many Kiwis and Maori living life 12-14 hours ahead of GMT.
    England’s favorite maori centre Manu Tuilagi, currently holidaying in his native Samoa was asked his opinion.
    “its Friday Morning” he said grimly.

    Later when put to Jack Wilshere, he stirred the xenophobic fires further. “Of Course he’d say that…” a clearly rattled Jack said “Hes not here” when asked on twatter by england’s adopted mountie, Greg Rusedski to clarify “here”. The self styled, great white hope of english football said with no shame whatsoever “England”.

    The Queen who is nominally head of both The United Kindom AND New Zealand is said to be in tense discussions with herself over this high profile slur by a degenerate, tobacco wielding man with a name that that in itself is almost too english.

    Pressure mounts for Jack to change his name to Muhammed Lopez Singh Goldstein to properly represent the people he claims to represent.

    Jack Wilshire is already being billed as the new face of the elite timeist campaign “Keep GMT for the English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh, Icelandic, Faoroe Islanders, most of the Portugese and some others”
    “We’re simply not central european” he said despite the fact that many people living in central europe need time as well as space to help interpret the universe as anything but an instantaneous blur.
    “Look, I just want to concentrate on my football” he said simultaneously offending blind people who cannot look, ADHD sufferers who can’t concentrate as well as billions of people who like other sports AND ultimately anyone who coudn’t be described by the deliberate, non inclusive and disrespectful use of the words “I” and “my”.

  36. Double98 says:

    :) Thanks evonne

    Its true tho

  37. evonne says:

    Tell me! I once said to GiE that Scandinavians are boring and he called me a racist! The cheek of that man! If he was only my size ….

  38. Double98 says:

    Ha..Generally speaking will get you into a lot of trouble.

    I once was a door to door sales man and wished someone a happy christmas.. Turns out they were a Jehovahs Witness and i had offended them.

  39. evonne says:

    thanks for the tip Double, now I know how to get rid off them constantly knocking on my door

  40. Red Arse says:

    Brilliant D98. :-)

    Don’t forget tho, the Interlull hits some of the less than gifted journalists hard too, and getting into a faux froth (no not fox!) :-) impresses no one other than their dim witted alter egos.

    Everyone knows they should have just asked Rocky for some good copy, and me for some good coffee. (I know that last bit is bollix, but I wanted to show some solidarity with fellow dim wits!) :-)

  41. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Desperate to get onto the blog. Hopefully in an hour or so.

    Raddy,
    You know how to arouse me. Transfer gossip. Am thinking.

  42. Gööner In Exile says:

    Kozzer ruled out of France game.

    Maybe we see Vermaelen next game. Have to say I agree with others he is not a bad defender but he wants to lead, whereas BFG has to lead the defence. Therefore that presents a problem and why selling may be better bet.

  43. Red Arse says:

    Hi Rock, :-)

    Your 4:39, Actually, there is a 6 hour time difference between Wichita and the UK time zone.

    My head is in a spin as I have been forced to travel around a lot by my lovely but effusively insistent relatives, many of whom are bigger than me, and that’s just the girls! :-)

    It has been brilliant meeting everyone over here, again, as they are such fun guys.
    On the other hand, when a guy made a pretty innocuous, booze fuelled comment about my ‘mid-Atlantic’ accent at a BBQ a few days back, my kin took exception, and I had to stop them before it got out of hand. Sheesh!!

    Now I know where my sometimes short tempered family working in the UK get it from. :P

    Hi GN5, :-)

    I had a look back at some of your ‘historic footballer’ Posts last week, and enjoyed re-reading them, and showing them around too.

    Glad you enjoyed your recent holiday, too.

  44. Shard says:

    Hi BR.

    Nothing like some transfer talk to get some hits eh? :P

    I agree with you on the GK front. Szczesny is obviously seen as a long term No1 candidate. Fabianski is a good back up but he’s going to look to move. Viviano, I’ve only really seen him play once, for Italy, and he was playing well and being bigged up as Buffon’s successor. The lack of demand for him might indicate that he’s lost his way a little bit (or perhaps Italian league is just skint) But I think we’ll make his move permanent if he trains and performs to an acceptable level. I would like to know how Real Madrid did it with Casillas when he was growing up in the first team. What sort of backups did they have over the years, and how did they keep them happy.

    I disagree with you about the CB position. We need good players and to bemoan one of them being on the bench because someone else is playing better at the moment is not the way to look at it. No one is too good for the bench. TV has it in him to take over again. His recent comments have suggested he’s up for the challenge. I would like to see another CB bought ideally, but I think we got in some 19 year old from Charlton, and with Miquel as well, that should be enough to be a 4th-5th choice CB along with Sagna filling in there (if he stays)

    As for Williams, he’s good but not top class, and for some reason, I have never seen Subotic as anything great either. But what do I know?

  45. JanMan says:

    Interesting post from BR and a great talking point. I agree we should leave the goalkeeping position alone and I also feel we are ok and have enough options at CB. You are not going to get the top class style of CB that we would be looking for in the January window! I feel we should look at another fullback as Jenkinson is a long way from the end product. I think he should be more concentrated on learning the art of defending as opposed to his bombing runs forward where 9 times out of 10 he loses the ball or makes a poor cross! Don’t get me wrong, I think he has a great future with us but he needs to learn and master basic defending skills first. To be honest all we should be looking for in the January window is another striker and not necessarily a replacement for Giroud but more of a back up. As the injured players slowly return I believe our squad is actually in pretty good shape.

  46. jnyc says:

    One observation. I think vermaelen as 3rd cb is very good in general. BUT we can see Arsene is very afraid to give any rest to merts, because he has no faith in the combo of koz and tommy, and we have seen why.

    merts with vermaelen is fine, but it doesnt make a great rotation if u cant rest our bfg — this past weekend for example. This is a flaw in the rotation.
    maybe sagna more often to rest Per.

  47. dandan says:

    Very thoughtful post BR here is another one to think about, puzzling, wonder what went wrong at the Emirates?

    Gervinho enjoys remarkable Roma reinvention after Arsenal arrivederci
    The Gervinho in a giallorosso jersey looks completely different to the one in red and white who got tangled up in his own dribbles
    Gervinho celebrates scoring for Roma in their 2-0 Serie A win at Sampdoria on 25 September.
    Gervinho celebrates scoring for Roma in their 2-0 win at Sampdoria on 25 September. Roma lead Serie A with a 100% record. Photograph: Carlo Baroncini/AP
    It speaks wonders for the absolute trust that the directors of Roma had over the summer for their incoming coach, Rudi Garcia, they were able to ignore their gut reaction to one of the most important names on Garcia’s wish-list. The conversation between Garcia and Roma’s sporting director, Walter Sabatini, might have gone something like this …

    Sabatini: “So, Rudi, it looks like we are going to sell a few players, maybe Erik Lamela, Pablo Osvaldo and Marquinhos … Who would you like us to try to buy?”

    Garcia: “Gervinho.”

    Sabatini (raising both eyebrows, and trying not to wince): “Gervinho? The guy at Arsenal? A little on the – how to put this – erratic side?”

    Garcia: “Gervinho.”

    Sabatini (gulping): “Oh. Right. Um. OK.”

    Some weeks later, with Roma top of Serie A, on a stunning winning streak, and with a reborn Gervinho being so breathlessly admired by the locals that a writer in Il Romanista swooned that “Africa has its Messi”, Sabatini reflected on a move that owed everything to the connection between player and mentor. “I would not have signed Gervinho for any other coach,” he said. “Garcia specifically requested Gervinho, a player he had worked with and won with before at Lille. Because of that request we worked to bring Gervinho in. It was not an easy negotiation process, either.”

    Gervinho in a giallorosso jersey looks completely different to the version in red and white who often seemed to get tangled up in his own dribbles and had a tendency to develop a dizzy spell when through on goal. Roma’s Gervinho looks more powerful, more pacy, more precise than he did during two seasons with Arsenal. Playing on the right of an attacking trident, with Francesco Totti probing centrally and Alessandro Florenzi on the left, his piercingly quick forays have become an instant hit in Serie A. The goals, and assists, are flowing.

    He is playing with the enthusiasm of a man who has returned to a happy place. Gervinho has not come home in a physical sense because Italian football is new to him. But he has come home in a footballing sense. He feels absolutely at ease with Garcia. He feels implicit trust, which has given him the freedom to play without any anxiety. “I knew exactly what I was looking for when I joined Roma: the chance to play more, a coach who showed faith in me and a club with high ambitions,” Gervinho explained. So far, so good.

    His Arsenal years can be filed away in a drawer marked “baffling”. That is the case for Arsène Wenger, too. For a long time the Arsenal manager was certain that there was a gem hidden away beneath Gervinho’s unpredictability. But the weeks and months only seemed to make the code to unlock him even more complicated to decipher.

    After an unwelcome start – he was sent off on his debut at Newcastle United after being wound up by Joey Barton – Gervinho began to make headway until the Africa Cup of Nations interrupted his progress. A flurry of goals at the start of his second season, when to general amazement he was positioned as a false nine, was encouraging, but his impact tailed off again and the Emirates crowd couldn’t help airing their frustration. Fluffing his lines in front of an open goal in a Capital One Cup game at Bradford (which Arsenal went on to lose), and lying forlorn on the turf, summed up which way things were going.

    Gervinho looked like another one to add to the curious list of players who came to Arsenal and appeared to go backwards (Andrey Arshavin and Marouane Chamakh also turned from respected internationals into the butts of jokes).

    Wenger has often trotted out the maxim that confidence is the “hardest thing to gain and the easiest thing to lose” and the more he looked at Gervinho, the deeper he felt that particular problem. When Roma called, it felt like a reasonable solution for everybody. “He looked to play with a lack of confidence, especially at the Emirates,” Wenger said. “He is a very creative player, an instinctive dribbler and for that you need a lot of confidence to be completely efficient. I felt that in the last six months it was very difficult for him to express his talent in a confident way. Then you sit there and think: ‘Do I bring him back or does he need a new challenge to get that confidence back?’ and I did not want to stop him from getting a new chance.”

    For Wenger, it was a harder decision than some may imagine. As a manager he had witnessed numerous examples of players reaching new levels with a switch of clubs. It was something of a speciality in the first act of his Arsenal tenure, with Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira and Dennis Bergkamp perfect examples of the benefits of a new chapter. Wenger accepted Gervinho needed a similar opportunity. He knew a fresh challenge would be an easier one than overcoming the doubters (and the player’s self-doubts) at Arsenal.

    Garcia is delighted that he and his protege (this is the third time he has signed Gervinho) have been able to flick the conviction switch so quickly. Gervinho still has his moments where his unpredictability is too enigmatic even for his team-mates to figure out, but overall his contribution to Roma’s attacking play has been a revelation. “He is a lad who needs confidence,” Garcia said. “We must understand that the scoring opportunities he creates don’t exist without him there. He can get some wrong but I prefer to have him there because I know he’ll create those opportunities. Gervinho has more experience now, is happy with his Roma team-mates and it’s easier for him to play.”

    This week, he headed back to Ivory Coast for the first of those scintillating World Cup qualification duels against Senegal. He sat on the plane wearing a maroon cap with his own name on it, and a sizeable medallion round his neck. That is not a look anyone without plenty of confidence can pull off.

  48. GunnerN5 says:

    Hi Red.

    We are now one hour apart in time zones. Peaches has been archiving the series that GIE and myself put together in the summer. It’s a huge compliment when a labour of love gets that much attention. I’m thrilled that you still find it to be good reading.

    I’ve never been to Wichita, I guess the closest I’ve been would be either Denver or Dallas.

  49. evonne says:

    wa-hey!!!!!!! I am soooo proud
    Best female U-17 footballer in Europe for 2013 is a Polka Ewa Pajor, brill, absolutely brill!

    http://www.uefa.com/womensunder17/history/season=2013/goldenplayer/index.html

  50. arnie says:

    Great work, Raddy. Apologies, late into the flow today. The last sentence was pure class: “hoping for the new CB to bed in by March – ready for the CL Final in Lisbon” :D :D

    On GKs, fully agree. I think Viviano cannot be that bad. We will find out soon enough. About Fabianski leaving, not so sure. GKs have a long playing career, so opportunities will come. And it is difficult to leave as well because other keepers may play into their 40s. Anyway, happy if he would stay.

    On defence, I will speak my mind, again, even if it is a bit provocative. First, I am a bit surprised that Verms has not been given a run in. I would have thought a bit of rotation with Kos would have been good. Maybe, based on GiE’s info, the change may be necessitated by injury. Oh dear!

    Second, on the left, I think given our clipped wings, Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal Wingers conumdrum, perhaps Monreal can be given a run in upfront. Oh dear! I expect brickbats now! But, in that case, some cover may be good, particularly if it is someone who can play CB/LB.

    Neven Subotic/ Mats Hummels may be useful. Have not seen much of them, will do soon enough when we play BD, but does anyone have a video (Chas?). No worries about them not leaving Borussia Dortmund, the moment they play Arsenal they will know where the future lies. And GiE, no worries about ManUre looking for defenders, at least not until Moist holds fort!

    Third, on the right, I think Jenks is OK in defence. Yes, he let Anelka off a couple of times, and this could have been a disaster, but generally he is fine and impriving, I think. The problem if when Jenks goes on teh overlap. He does OK until he reaches the box, but then runs out of ideas, and cannot manage to get a decent cross in. It is a problem, and yes it will probably be sorted when Theo returns, but at the moment with Sagna out of action, it is not brilliant.

  51. arnie says:

    Evonne: pretty good, is she signing for Arsenal ladies? I was going to ask where your loyalties would lie on Tuesday, but now I know. But it is not UK the Poles are playing (it is England), though UK rhymes with Ukraine …. :D :D

  52. arnie says:

    Evonne: dont know Polish, what is the comparison with Wayne Rooney, Cesc Fabregas and Toni Kroos of the Wiki site for Ewa Pajor?

  53. Nice e va va vonne……I`d like to polka dot !. hahaha

  54. Obviously……and Polka face !. hahaha

  55. evonne says:

    arnie – not sure what you mean

    TCM :) Polish female = Polka, Polish male = drunken womanizer

  56. arnie says:

    Evonne: the Polish wiki site for Pajor (http://pl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ewa_Pajor) has references to these three players, and I wanted to know the connection.

  57. evonne says:

    ok arnie, I see arnie

    That’s actually a good pub quiz question: what do Rooney, Cesc, Kroos and Pajor have in common ?

  58. chas says:

    I’m not sure why I’ve never seen this before. :)

  59. evonne says:

    simple – you were too busy watching vids of his wife

  60. Haha love our car wash centre-back ;)

    Thanks Raddy for the post. I’m not sure I can begin to think about transfers but I would quite like Giroud to have a no 2 although Podolski and Nik together coming on at 72 mins could be a plan. Nik can hold it up, although he doesn’t work as hard as Olly, and if he can find the Pod we’re in business.

  61. Micky and Raddy – just in case you hadn’t noticed the Everton game has been moved to Sunday. I know you we’re planning to watch together.

  62. arnie says:

    Peaches: yellow card, that is part 2, to be published soon….. The suspense is building up.

  63. Has anyone got any thoughts for a post for tomorrow?

  64. arnie says:

    Peaches: :D :D dont worry, nobody noticed, quiet day on AA

  65. GoonerB says:

    Just popped on to say that having breezed back through some comments that D98’s 4.52 was brilliant. Should have been a post during this inter-lull.

  66. arnie says:

    Everyone seems to be waiting for part2…

  67. Part 2 won’t be here for a few days so ……….

  68. GunnerN5 says:

    The following may not be everybody’s cup of tea but it speaks well of the man and his ethics.

    ……………………………………………………………………….

    Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger built his reputation in England on unearthing talented foreign prospects and turning them into Premier League stars, so he understands perhaps more than anyone Jack Wilshere’s expressed unease at calls for young foreign-born players to become eligible to play for England.

    Wenger built his reputation in England on unearthing talented foreign prospects and turning them into Premier League stars.

    Not everyone was impressed. Selecting an entire match-day squad without an Englishman for the first time in Arsenal’s history in 2005 helped stir a debate over foreign players that continues to this day.

    For Wenger, it’s a complex issue in a world where national identity has become increasingly blurred.

    “We live in a global world,” Wenger pointed out. “I have players who have three different nationalities. And at the end of the day I ask them, ‘Where do you really feel you belong?’ And that is for me where you are from.

    “I have boys who have come from Africa. Many immigrants now come to Europe, they stay four or five years in one country, then they move to another country and they have three different passports,” he said. “At the end of the day, I believe you are from the country where you feel the most comfortable with the culture of the country.”

    Pressure in football takes a toll on managers in different ways. For Wenger, it’s meant less time for the prayers that were such a big part of his childhood.

    The Arsenal manager is currently trying to end a trophy drought stretching back to 2005 that has sorely tested the patience of the club’s fans. Although the task has not shaken his religious beliefs, it’s not been without its consequences either.

    “I prayed a lot when I was a kid because I was educated in a Catholic area,” Wenger said. “Religion was very strong to us, to ask the priest if I can play on Sunday afternoon … now I am a bit less (religious) because when you are under pressure you only think of our game. How can I win the next game? And you try to be a bit more pragmatic.”

    The religious upbringing in eastern France, has left Wenger with a principled outlook that he has tried to uphold in his football career.

    “Belief is important, and I am forever grateful for the values my religion has given,” he said. “And basically if you analyze it, all the religions spread good values and positive values, and that is important that you find that in our sport.”

    The 63-year-old Frenchman was speaking on a visit to London’s Jewish Museum surrounded by an exhibition exploring the role of British Jews in football: Football, fans and faith.

    Wenger talks fondly about how “in every religious community sport is an occasion for people to get together and of course defend the values.”

    For some in football, in an era of rapidly expanding pay packets for players and ticket prices for fans, the sport can seem to have lost its soul. Wenger is not so disconsolate.

    “Sometimes you see that professional football has moved a little bit away from very, very important values that have existed at the start of the game,” he said.

    “The values that are important in the game today are the same (as always),” Wenger said. “It is a respect for others. It is learning to lose. It is learning to cope with pressure. It is learning to cope with a team sport. So that is exactly the same. Of course the environment is completely different. Why? Because of professionalism and the money.”

    With an economics degree and as a long-time advocate of greater financial responsibility in football, Wenger has tried to adopt what he calls a “socialist model” for Arsenal’s wage bill.

    That becomes harder when the need the deliver success saw Wenger break Arsenal’s transfer record last month to sign Mesut Ozil for €50 million ($66 million). Retaining the best talent in the squad also requires salaries to rise in turn.

    “I always say to the players, ‘Forget the money,'” Wenger said. “What is important is how well you play together, what you share together is much more important. The money is only a consequence of your experience. The real experience is the game.

    “And I see that with many players who have stopped their careers. It’s not the money they miss — because they have money. It’s that kind of experience. To share the values of our sport, to share the values of being together. And achieving something together.”

    Wenger never reached a high enough standard as a player to be called up by his country. Success has instead come from the dugout, although his team’s last trophy was the 2005 FA Cup — and it hasn’t won the Premier League since 2004.

    This season started with jeers at the Emirates Stadium when Aston Villa inflicted a defeat that prompted questions about how long Wenger would remain in a job he has held since 1996.

    However, since that opening day setback, Arsenal has reeled off 10 successive victories in all competitions before drawing a West Bromwich Albion on Saturday. His side entered this two-week international break at the top of the Premier League.

    There is no gloating, though, at proving wrong the fans who seemed to lose faith in him.

    “It’s not a personal battle,” he said. “My desire is I love to win. I love to do well. I just feel I am happy if I can give some pleasure and happiness to people who love Arsenal. That is my main target. When I don’t achieve that I am very disappointed.”

    Plucked from the relative obscurity of Grampus Eight in Nagoya, Japan, Wenger has delivered three Premier League titles and four FA Cups over his 17-year reign.

    As for the future, it’s one he clearly envisages in his adopted homeland.

    “I can see the rest of my life in England, why not?” Wenger said as the interview drew to a close.

    “I feel comfortable in this country because we share a common passion for football and as well I am very thankful for this country for having accepted me and giving me a chance,” he added. “I am happy on the football pitch.”

    And he shows no desire yet to leave it.

  69. arnie says:

    GN5: Fantastic!!!! made my evening! :D :D

  70. GunnerN5 says:

    Arnie,

    The simple fact that you are happy brings a smile to my face.

    AW is a one off and irreplaceable, regardless of the mutterings from down under!

  71. dhakka09 says:

    Well written, Big Raddy. Plenty of insightful comments by everyone as well; a pleasurable read :)

  72. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Finally get on.

    Raddy, thank you. Still think Verm may come good (enough for 3rd choice CB), so I’m very happy with our back 5 squad.

    Some great comments yesterday. I love your attitude Evonne :-)

    Sooo, England tonight eh. Wouldn’t mind watching if they had one exciting player, but they don’t, so I won’t.

    Peaches/Raddy. Thanks for the update on Everton fixture. Off to check time.

  73. MickyDidIt89 says:

    16:00 KO. Good.

    Chas,
    I’m not feeling too flexible this morning, and it’s surfing this evening. Any thoughts on a vid that may be useful.

    By the way, I felt the yoga clip you put up yesterday would have been more useful had the girl been better looking and wearing less.

  74. Gööner In Exile says:

    GN5 thanks for posting that link, and thanks DD for that post on Gervinho.

    The only quibble I have with that article on Arsene is the “first non English squad”.

    Journo’s fail to mention the first non English team to play in a FA Cup Final in 1986:

    Grobelaar (S Africa)
    Lawrenson (Ireland)
    Beglin (Ireland)
    Nicol (Scotland)
    Whelan (Ireland)
    Hansen (Scotland)
    Dalgliesh (Scotland)
    Molby (Denmark)
    MacDonald (Scotland)
    Johnston (Australia)
    Rush (Wales)

  75. dhakka09 says:

    Folks, to amuse ourselves during this Interlull, let’s play a small Spuds rapid-fire round of question-answers collected from around the web. Try to solve these without looking at the answers and score yourself. You might even win a prize :)

    Questions:

    1) What do you call a Spud fan with half a brain?
    2) Why does the Shite Hart Lane pitch look so green and lush?
    3) What’s the difference between a Spud fan and a bucket of shit?
    4) What does a Spud fan do after he sees his team win a cup?
    5) What’s the difference between Bigfoot and the Spud defense?
    6) Why do Spud fans carry lighters around with them?
    7) Why would an abused kid want to go live in Shite Hart Lane?
    8) Why did Post Office recall their latest stamps having pictures of Spud players?
    9) You’re locked in a room with a lion, a crocodile and a Spud fan. You have a gun with 2 bullets. What do you do?
    10) Why does no fan in Shite Hart Lane drink coffee during a match?

    Answers:

    1) Gifted
    2) Because they put 100+ million worth of manure on it every week
    3) The bucket
    4) Turns off the Xbox
    5) Bigfoot has been spotted several times
    6) Because they’re always losing their matches
    7) Because they rarely beat anyone
    8) Because people couldn’t figure out which side to spit on
    9) Obvious. Shoot the Spud fan – twice
    10)Because all the mugs are on the pitch and they haven’t won any cups either.

    Well, how did you do in the quiz? I’m thinking of awarding first prize winner a Spud jersey and the second prize winner two Spud jerseys ;)

  76. evonne says:

    dhakka – name a charity first

  77. Gööner In Exile says:

    Peaches, Rasp there’s one in drafts for you . :D

  78. dhakka09 says:

    evonne: that’s a true Arsenal fan right there, Perry eating Murray for lunch like a boss :D thanx for the link

  79. MickyDidIt89 says:

    dandan

    Great Gerv article.

    I’ve watched quite a few clips of him in Rome, and he’s clearly loving his football there. Very pleased for him.

    Reckon it didn’t work out at Arsenal primarily because of the boo boys at the home games. Actually, they nearly made me quit going.

    Happily, all is well for me and Gerv :-)

  80. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Nice work Exile.

    I was going to suggest some regular International break slots, starting with “Slap and Tickle Friday”.

    Ok, so I haven’t worked out the content, but hey, the title works :-)

  81. chas says:

    Micky,
    Sun salutations and a few spinal twists will help you warm up.
    You probably know a heck of a lot more about yoga for surfers than I do.

  82. Norfolk Gooner says:

    Peaches/Rasp,

    Friday’s News Round up e mailed to Arsenalnuts

  83. Morning all

    Thank you Mr Norfolk and GiE for sending posts, I’ll use one today and one tomorrow if that’s ok with you.

    It would be good if there were a couple more in the cupboard to stop me nagging for the next few days …….. ;)

  84. Mr Norfolk – I can’t open yours can you copy and paste to an email please.

  85. chas says:

    I’ve had problems before opening Word documents.
    If they are saved as Word 97-2003 type, they seem to be universally ‘openable’.

  86. Its a ‘wps’ chas, a programme was suggested to open it but I’ve been caught out like that before – an army of trojans usually comes too – so I’m not keen to go down that route.

  87. 26may1989 says:

    Hi there. Sorry I didn’t visit yesterday but an excellent post from the wannabe viking.

    I disagree re Koscielny though. He may not have played particularly well so far this season but, in the last two years, I think he has ranked alongside Kompany and Vertonghen as the best CBs in the PL. Interestingly, all three have looked ropy this season. But I would struggle to think of a better CB than Kos.

    When I say that, I include the excellent Hummels, who has also not been very good this season. (By the by, he was sent off last weekend for putting in exactly the same challenge that Malumbu made on Wilshere: in Germany, the result was a penalty and red card without any dispute from Dortmund; in England, play on and congrats on a supposedly good challenge.)

    Now, what’s this about yoga………

  88. chas says:

    Ahh, peaches.

    Apparently there is a Microsoft converter that’s free as in here.

    http://www.groovypost.com/howto/howto/convert-microsoft-works-wps-files-to-word-docx/

  89. Big Raddy says:

    Delighted for Gerv that he is doing well at Roma. Seems like a nice boy.

  90. 26may1989 says:

    Exile, re your 6.34am comment and the first non-English team, you highlight a point of confusion in all this debate.

    There’s a degree of hysteria right now about whether there are too many foreign players in English football. The BBC published some data yesterday, breaking down by nationality the minutes played and number of players in each of the PL, the Championship and the SPL. The headlines spoke of less than a third of the PL being English. Cue beating of John Bull’s breast, the nation is going to wrack and ruin, etc etc etc.

    But take a look at the actual data and a different story emerges. The English game has always been the British and Irish game, right from its 19th century beginnings. In fact, many of the innovators back then were Scots, including (if memory serves) the gents who set up a club called Dial Square, which became one of the most beautiful and wonderful institutions around.

    And when you tot up the figures in the BBC’s data for Scottish, Northern Irish, Irish and Welsh players, as well as English players, the truth is that 45% in the PL are British and Irish. In the Championship it’s about 80% and in the SPL about 85%. And that’s without looking at players who may have been born on and grown up on these islands but who might have chosen to play for ancestral homelands, in the Caribbean, Africa etc, and who therefore no longer count as British or Irish.

    Of course there are plenty of foreigners in the game here, and we are all the stronger and better off for it, but the “problem” isn’t nearly as acute as is suggested.

    It’s also interesting to see this debate flare up when it comes to a lad of eastern European descent possibly being encouraged to play for England based on residence. Where were those complaints when Owen Hargreaves, born and brought up in Canada and then resident in Germany, was chosen to play for England?

  91. Norfolk Gooner says:

    Peaches, Cut, pasted and e mailed. sorry for the delay.

  92. MickyDidIt89 says:

    26

    “excellent post from the wannabe Viking”

    He has many other costumes in his basement. Yip, he’s one of those, is our BR.

  93. Norfolk Gooner says:

    26, didn’t Hargreaves have English antecedents? The whole row about Manure’s youngster is a bit of a red herring. FIFA rules state that a professional player must have lived in the country for five years after reaching the age of eighteen. So I can’t see him waiting five years when he can play for Belgium now.

  94. We have a New Post ………………

  95. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Chas
    ROLF of the day so far for this “You probably know a heck of a lot more about yoga for surfers”. Yeah, right.

    Oscar and I recently joined the Bude Waveriders Surf Club. First Meet did not go well. They all assembled on the beach, then some Nazi with a whistle explained that first thing was a warming up run to the end of the beach and back, followed by some stretching exercise.

    I nudged Oscar and muttered “Fuck that”. By the time they got back from their jog, they were two members short. Said members were bobbing around 200 yards out in the Atlantic.

  96. Wow that was strange. I just wrote an very long comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn’t show up.

    Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again.
    Anyhow, just wanted to say fantastic blog!

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