Does Arsène Wenger have sun-stroke?

July 13, 2014

Morning Gooner’s

Has Arsène been out in the sun to long? Playing Volley ball on a Brazilian beach in searing heat, God he even had a smile on his face. Here we have a man who for all the time he has been with us, he has only ever had Arsenal football club on his mind, and now we see a demented 64 year old prancing on foreign shores in, wait for it, swimming trunks of all things, bearing his ripped six pack, and ogling Brazilian beach babes, bugger me, he thinks his Ronaldo.

Sun stroke can affect people in different ways, some are sick as a dog, some have hallucinations, and some spend money which is not normal to them. Well Hallelujah, Wenger needs a holiday like this before every transfer window. I have to wonder what he does at night but I don’t think I would believe it.

Here we have a man who has always spent Arsenal’s money like its his own. He is known as the tightest Premier league manager, he goes down in the world of football Managers as one of the most steadfast boring buggers you could wish to meet, but a bit of sun and the man has turned into a jet-setting  spending machine, someone said he also offered to buy a drink.

We have to get him back, and get him back quickly,  as the way things are going we will start to look like a club that have ambition, people will start to talk, the press will have a field day. I can see the headlines, Wenger on his hols, drinking and partying into the early hours, and low and behold, scantily clad babes rumoured to be on the same floor at his hotel.

What of Arsenals future? The stiff upper lips of Arsenal FC, I can see their faces, What the hell is he up to out there, prancing half naked on the beach, without a tie, what is he doing, just glad he hasn’t an Arsenal logo t shirt on.

Arsène Wenger is showing us, that there is still life left in the old dog. He has signed that new 3 year contract and when people of his age take time out and start enjoying life they start to realise that its not always best to carry on the same way you always have. Life is very short and if you don’t start grabbing the bull by the horns you can easily slide into oblivion.

Arsène has had a taste of victory with our latest FA cup win, 9 years he had to wait, sometimes he may have thought he would never see another. After a bad defeat on the opening day of the season he bought us Ozil.

Arsène, as normal, came out and said this was a disappointing result but we are focused and we have belief and we are together. Many of us thought O my God not another season of misery, don’t lie that’s what you thought. Well low and behold Arsenal dug in they started to pull together, within a few weeks we pulled that defeat back and was heading the table, yes it was touch and go at times and the top of the league changed hands a few times but we were always there, come Christmas we were still there, we had seen the so called big clubs all have catastrophes and we were still up there in fact in front of them.

Injuries of course is what stopped our progress and injuries just as we hit the top so called teams, a few high scoring results against knocked everybody’s socks off and heads went down. We lost our top spot and to be honest we never came near to getting it back, but we did hang in there, we got fourth spot and we won a cup. That is a lot more than many thought after the Villa game, and look at us now FA cup holders and now in the market for 30 odd million pound players.

Yes Arsène and the boys have been holidaying but the time to start work has never left them, they will be coming back to training knowing that new blood is also coming and a new season awaits. Wenger would have got over his sunstroke and he will be pushing for more of the same, could this be the year for the league, keep spending Arsène and it most certainly could be.

Written by Steve Palmer

 


Is Thomas Vermaelen still needed?

July 12, 2014

Before it starts slipping from memory I want to show my respect to Thomas Vermaelen for the vital role that he played for our wonderful club last season and the inspired decision it was, to not only keep him captain, while injured, but to allow him to collect the FA Cup at Wembley; even though, he didn’t play a single minute.

Vermaelen FA Cup

We all know the football saying that you are only as good as your back up well this is where I am coming from on this one. In my opinion it was vital that TV was kept on side and happy, ready to go if called upon.

It would have been so easy to have passed the club captaincy to either Arteta or Mertasacker during the long unfortunate periods of injury that TV suffered last season; but no, Wenger persevered with him and rightly so in my opinion.

Vermaerlen is still a very good CB and could still become a vital part of a first choice paring. This may be hard to imagine with the CB partnership of Mertasacker and Koscielny looking stronger than ever.

But, let’s not forget that there was a time, not so long ago, when this site out of respect and admiration had a picture of Vermaelen leaping like a salmon placed permanently in the top right hand corner.

vermaelen leaps

The question now is what to do next? Personally, I think it is essential that we keep him others might think an upgrade is the way forward.

Over to you.

Written by LB


Alexis Sánchez – Arsenal’s greatest ever signing

July 11, 2014

OMG, however excited you were about the signing of Ozil how much more excited are you about the signing of Sanchez? This is big, Gooners, this is a great signing for us.

gun__1405013789_sanchez_trainingkit2

Come on, on a scale of 1 – 10, no actually no even starting at 1, starting at 5, how much more excited are you about the signing of Sanchez than you were when we signed Özil?

If you haven’t had a chance to think about it yet here are a few reasons why, as a Gooner, you should have a smile like the wide-mouth frog and be skipping along wherever you go today.

1. Early signing – Arsène has been on the beach for weeks and although the rumour mill has been rumbling along who’d have thought we’d have a player sorted before the World Cup final?

2. A striker – Arsène has bought us a striker, this is unusual because we really need one and often in times of need we’ve been disappointed.

3. Not just any striker – Sanchez is a classy striker, not a winger that wants to play through the middle, he’s a proven goal scorer and he’s going to be scoring goals for Arsenal.

4. He only wanted to come to Arsenal and this is what he said …….

Sanchez said: “I’m so happy to be joining Arsenal, a club which has a great manager, a fantastic squad of players, huge support around the world and a great stadium in London. I’m looking forward to meeting my new team-mates and to be playing for Arsenal in the Premier League and Champions League. I will give my best to Arsenal and want to make all the supporters happy.”

Sanchez new kit

This is what Arsène Wenger had to say about our shiny new toy (copyright LB)

Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger said: “As many people have seen during the World Cup this summer, Alexis is a fantastic footballer and we are delighted that he is joining us at Arsenal Football Club.

“Alexis will add power, creativity and much quality to our squad and we are all looking forward to him joining up with us in a few weeks. He has consistently produced top-quality performances at the highest level for a number of seasons now and we are all excited to see him integrate into the Arsenal squad. I’m sure all Arsenal supporters will join me in welcoming Alexis to our club.”

Arsène has looked happy and very relaxed in Brazil and now we know why. Hopefully there are more new signings to come.

Have a very nice day :)

peachesgooner

 

 


Alexis Sanchez to sign for Arsenal?

July 9, 2014

Yes it’s a only a question at the moment but what would Sanchez bring to the party?

To give him his full name, Alexis Alejandro Sánchez Sanchez , so good they named him twice, 25 year old Chilean born striker who currently plays for Barcelona.

Alexis Sanchez

To start with he is a goal scorer and a provider of assists, his World Cup stats are played 4 scored 2 and 1 assist. His record in La liga last season was a .72 of a goal every game, when assists are added it becomes 1.09 goals or assists every game. Those figures put him fourth in La Liga behind Ronaldo, Messi and Bale.

He can play left, right or centre and can play deeper if needed. He has pace both on and off the ball and is expert at picking out his team-mates with clever passes. He has always been noted for his work rate and has the acceleration and outright pace to get onto the excellent balls played in by Mesut Ozil.

For a player to score 21 goals in a season playing for a team that fields a player of the calibre of Lionel Messi takes some doing. Could Arsenal use him? A resounding yes.

If we do get him, he’ll be in direct competition for a starting place with the likes of Cazorla, Oxlade- Chamberlain and Wilshire. Given the injury problems of the latter two that may not be a bad thing. In addition, there has been talk from Cazorla’s camp that he would welcome a move back to Spain.

What do AAers think? Will he fit in? Will he put a few noses out of joint? Will he help us win trophies?

Can Arsenal sign him? At the moment it seems we are the favourites, Sanchez wants to come to Arsenal, the clubs have agreed a fee of around £32/35 million and his salary shouldn’t be a problem, but Juventus are sniffing around so it’s not yet a done deal.

We just have to wait and see.

Written by Norfolk Gooner.

 


Olympics football Part I. Youth development

July 6, 2014

This seems a somewhat strange topic to write on, given that Great Britain has had an arm’s length relationship with Olympic football. Hence some comments are in order. A couple of weeks back, GN5 wrote a fantastic post on the first World Cup in 1930, which Uruguay won. Before that date, national football was the domain of the Olympic Games. Uruguay had won both the 1924 and 1928 Olympics gold medals in football.

Encouraged by GN5’s post, I did a bit of background research on the Olympics. This turned into a Gargantuan project, and in the process I unearthed a lot of interesting insights that were largely new to me. This information I plan to organise into a series of 3 posts to fill in part of the lean “transfer” ( :razz: ) season. My general argument is that staying away from the Olympics has been to the detriment of England team’s World Cup prospects. You AAers are the best judge as to how persuasive this argument is.

Today is the first of the three, focusing on youth development. The second will focus on Arsenal stars in Olympics football. The third will be on the controversies behind, and future prospects for, British involvement in Olympics football.

What does Olympic football have to do with youth development in football? Quite a bit, I would argue. Indeed, Olympics football is now the equivalent of youth World Cup in national football. Since the 1992 Barcelona Games, men’s Olympic football has changed from an amateur tournament to an under-23 competition, with three over-age players allowed per squad. Qualification for the main draw is based on under-21 competitions.

With England’s failure to progress beyond the group stage this year, the focus is firmly back on youth development. Olympics, anyone? FA? Dyke, Pearce, Hodgson? :)

At the outset, let us have an Arsenal focused perspective. In the 1912 Olympic Games, as host nation, Great Britain entered the men’s football competition after a long break. Opinions on whether professional players should participate in Olympic football varied, but the mainstream view is that Olympic football is for amateurs not professional footballers.

In April 2012, David Seaman said: “[As a player] if you get the option it’s a big decision. … Obviously representing Great Britain would be a massive honour, but I was a professional for 22 years and I don’t think I would have done it. I don’t think it’s for professional footballers – I’ve always felt it should be left to the amateurs.”

A year before, Wenger in March 2011 said: “In the professional game we see the Olympics football as an obstacle rather than as a motivation. … I think the Olympic Games is not about football, it is about track and field. Football for me never looked to be a highlight of the Olympic Games.”

That may well be a valuable perspective, particularly when it relates to senior professional footballers. However, two issues remain. First, the above mainstream view is not inconsistent with a youth developmental perspective. Do major footballing nations use Olympics football for grooming young players and providing them experience at the world stage?

Second, what about scouting? Can the Olympics be used to identify young footballers who would be future world stars?

To explore these issues further, I report the uptake from Olympic squads for some leading footballing nations in the 2014 World Cup, focussing on members from the corresponding Olympics teams from the 2012, 2008 and even 2004 Olympic Games.

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Argentina men’s football team participated in the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Games, but not 2012. 7 out of the 37 players in those 2 squads were included in the 23 in Brazil 2014. Mascherano 30, Zabaleta 29, Gago 28, Lavezzi 29, Di María 26, Messi 26 and Agüero 26. Let us not forget some other prominent names from 2004 as well who were probably too old by 2014: Ayala, Coloccini, Tevez, Heinze and Figueroa.

Indeed, what a remarkable collection of stars? I have included current ages in the list above so that one can have a sense of how the Olympics were used for youth development.

Ah, well, the sceptic among you may say, maybe Argentina were a bit different. Not in the slightest. Here are some other national sides.

Brazil participated in the 2008 and 2012 Games. 7 of the 35 players in those two squads are included in the current World Cup team. Thiago Silva 29, Fernandinho 29, Marcelo 28, Hulk 27, Neymar 22, Ramires 27 and Jô 27. Similar pattern to Argentina.

Mexico. Of the 36 players in the Olympic squads for 2004 and 2012, 7 are included in the 2014 World Cup squad. Ochoa 28, Herrera 24, Peralta 30, dos Santos 25, Jiménez 23, Reyes 21 and Ponce 25.

Italy. 2004 and 2008 Games. 7 out of 38 players in the 2014 World Cup squad. Chiellini 29, Candreva 27, Abate 27, Marchisio 28, Barzagli 33, De Rossi 30 and Pirlo 35. Similar pattern, but note the difference in the ages. Is there a transatlantic divide? Perhaps not, just the fact that the current Italy side is getting on a bit.

Belgium, only the 2008 Olympic Games. 7 out of 20 in the current squad. Kompany 28, Vermaelen 28, Fellaini 26, Mirallas 26, Vertonghen 27, Ciman 28 and Dembélé 26. Yet again, youth development in focus.

Uruguay. 7 out of the 18 in the 2012 Olympic Games squad. Coates 23, Cavani 27, Suárez 27, Ramírez 23, Hernández 23, Lodeiro 25 and Ríos 32.

For Switzerland, the current World Cup squad has 5 members out of the 18 in their 2012 Olympic Games. Benaglio 30, Mehmedi 23, Drmic 21, Rodríguez 21 and Schär 22.

Portugal. Only 2004 Games. 5 out of 18. Meireles 31, Alves 32, Costa 33, Ronaldo 29 and Almeida 30.

Spain participated in the 2012 Games. 4 out of 18: de Gea 23, Azpilicueta 24, Alba 25 and Martínez 25.

Costa Rica, only the 2004 Games. 3 out of 18. Umaña 31, Myrie 26 and Díaz 30.

At the other end, the Dutch under-23 team competed in the 2008 Games. However, none of the players are included in the current 2014 World Cup squad.

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What about England? Great Britain does not usually participate in the Olympic men’s football event. But they did so at home in 2012. Here is the squad.

Great Britain 2012 Olympic men’s football squad (starred players over-age): Jack Butland 19, Neil Taylor 23 (Wales), Ryan Bertrand 22, Danny Rose 22, Steven Caulker 20, Craig Dawson 22, Tom Cleverley 22, Joe Allen 22 (Wales), Daniel Sturridge 22, Craig Bellamy* 33 (Wales), Ryan Giggs* (c) 38 (Wales), James Tomkins 23, Jack Cork 23, Micah Richards* 24, Aaron Ramsey 21 (Wales), Scott Sinclair 23, Marvin Sordell 21, Jason Steele 21

Only one of the above 13 eligible players (5 players in the Olympics squad were Welsh) were included in England’s 2014 World Cup squad. Daniel Sturridge 24. Most importantly, several players who would have been eligible were not included in the Olympics squad: Wilshere, Welbeck, Smalling, Henderson, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jones, Sterling, Barkley and Shaw.

Why was the Olympics competition not used to groom young English players for the World Cup? Was this a missed opportunity? It seems so. Stars of the 2012 tournament included, among others, Peralta and dos Santos for Mexico and Neymar and Oscar for Brazil. Likewise, the stars of the 2008 Beijing Olympics men’s football included Aguerro, di Maria, Lavezzi and Messi (Argentina), Ronaldinho and Jo (Brazil), Dembele and Mirallas (Belgium) and Kalou (Ivory Coast). Whither youth development, FA?

Finally, here is a question for Arsene. We know you are having a gala time in Brazil. We also recognise that you take pride in developing young players. The World Cup has largely established stars, and hence is perhaps not particularly suitable for scouting. But, what about the London Olympics in 2012? Where were you at the time Arsene? Did you watch football in the Games? Who did you see and admire? Which of those young stars are we signing?

Written by Arnie


The Quarter Finals part two – vote for today’s winners

July 5, 2014

Both of today’s matches offer the chance of an upset. Argentina were one of the pre-tournament favourites whilst Belgium are one of the surprise teams to reach this stage. In the second match we have, to my mind, the surprise of the tournament, Costa Rica winners of the group containing Italy, Uruguay and of course England versus Holland.

If Eden Hazard can produce his best form there is a chance, a good chance, that he can get a few good crosses in for the likes of Lukaku to get on the end of.

Of course, it will be vital for Belgium to keep Lionel Messi quiet and Axel Witsel just might be the player to do so. The problem for Belgium is that in addition to Messi they have some other very effective players. Angel Di Maria for one and perhaps the sneakiest player in the game Mascherano, he is so adept at the shirt pulls and ankle taps as well as the outright assaults that I’m amazed he manages to stay on the pitch for so long. Higuain has had a disappointing time so far, perhaps he will come good today.

I would love Belgium to do it, but fear Messi and Co. will have too much fire power. So a Germany/Argentina semi-final looks to be in prospect.

Next up Costa Rica versus Holland. Should be a straight forward win for the Dutch side, shouldn’t it?

If Arjen Robben performs to his usual standard we can expect at least one penalty, most refs seem to award one after two or three of his expertly performed tumbles. His other scoring option is to cut in from the right and unleash a ferocious left foot strike into the far corner of the goal. Costa Rica need to be aware of his proclivity for diving as well as be ready to crowed him out on the edge of the box. Junior Diaz and will have to be a bit more defensive minded than usual and will need back up from Umana and Borges. There is also the threat from van Persie, and not just from his elbows, we all know his capabilities, and he will take some stopping.

For Costa Rica, Ruiz must try to use his pace to get behind both Kuyt and the Dutch defence to feed Joel Campbell some balls to run onto, the Arsenal youngster has a good eye for goal and it would be nice if he could get one or two today.

This is going to be a tough game for Costa Rica, I think Holland may just have too much fire power and nous for them to overcome. Holland to go through.

Norfolk Gooner.

 


Whilst Arsene watches scantily clad babes, he also plots his goals‏

July 3, 2014

Morning Gooner’s.

World cup this, World cup that, fans all over the world are excited by the enthralling football they are seeing. The host nation Brazil was celebrating their win over Chile, while I sat and watched with not much interest. I watched a hard fought out game that went to penalties, the first game with penalties, and some good penalties too, but also some very dodgy ones as well. Like all tight matches this one was decided on the last shot of the day. The Chilean player hit the upright and the ball bounced away from the goal, the Brazilian fans went berserk.

Personally I was hoping for a Chile win, they were the underdogs but I have a heart and I was rooting for them, although I never had much interest in the result, I was surprised how disappointed I felt. Maybe being an ex footballer myself, and suffering many demoralising defeats actually makes you realise just how painful defeat can be, but of course you need to win finals as well to appreciate the victories as well, In my case not to many.

I have of course got to bring in our own club, after all this is an Arsenal blog and while we have the close season we know that Arsene will not keep us informed about the possible ins and outs. Arsene is currently employed as a pundit but he is of course watching all the top players in the world, so its like a Busman’s holiday.

As supporters we realise that some of our players are moving on, and of course Arsene knows that only to well while he is working in Brazil and recuperating on the beach feasting his eyes on all those scantily clad Babes, sorry got carried away there. We do of course hope he has his targets in his sights.

Arsene has just signed a new contract, late of course but he signed it. He has just tasted victory of the FA cup, that must have tasted very sweet for him, I can remember the look on his face as he climbed the steps at Wembley, he looked like the kid in the sweet shop left alone to chose anything he wanted. As I saw Wenger hold that trophy I had the feeling that he was never as happy as he was at that moment. Yes he had won that cup before, and he has won other cups and leagues, but that cup was a very long time coming, and the disappointments over those years was I bet how that missing Chilean player felt.

As I said before, Arsene has signed a new contract, so I can only assume that he has been given the ok to to buy replacements. Arsene brought one player last season, but he brought a record breaker to the sum of £42.5 million> Now that has been unheard of from Mr Skinflint but he did. I must admit I was knocked sideways when I heard the news, I had waited, logging into blogs and Arsenal news and the papers the  media and anybody and everybody for a snippet of news, I expected a striker, and he buys a midfielder, not just any midfielder, a £42 million midfielder.

I  felt  I knew what Arsene would do, I thought buy a striker, but no, and after I calmed down I wondered why he had done what he had.  Arsene had Giroud, Sanogo, and Bendtner and we had strikers in reserves as well, but they still had time left on their contracts. Sanogo was raw but showed promise Bendtner had one season left and Giroud had done all that had been asked of him, he must have felt that he had that position covered.

Theo was the player that Arsene was hoping would feed off of Ozil and with The Ox with his powerful runs and Gnabry who had also shown promise he must have felt Ozil was the key. As we all know we did pretty good up till Christmas but injuries to our speedy front men hit us hard, yes we scraped the FA cup but Theo missing half a season The Ox out for some time even Giroud missing a few games and hardly a show from Gnabry we struggled.

This season Bendtner will be gone  our reserve striker has been released which opens the door for a striker, Bacary leaving was on the cards I think we all knew that and Jenks is still not the finished article so another space. Fabianski leaving was also on the cards he must have had the hump when Viviani was loaned in, but Arsene used him in the cups and he never let us down in fact he showed what a fine keeper he is. Viviani has been released so we need a keeper. I hoped we would keep Kallstrom as he had something about him, but he too has been let go. Maybe Diaby getting back to fitness may have a bearing.

So my summary is that Arsene should be looking for a Striker, a Right Back and a Goalkeeper. I figure £42m for them should cover it, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see another couple of loaners, just in case of injuries.  Will Arsene surprise me again this season, Probably.

Written by Steve Palmer

 


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