Why is Cesc Leaving?

May 31, 2010

Morning all. With still no clear answers to the ‘Cesc is going, Cesc is staying’ debate – disastrous PR really from a top English club – I thought we could guage the feeling among supporters by having a poll.

Obviously we know that he has a deep love for Barcelona and that a return to his boyhood club was always on the cards. But why now? Barcelona have come calling but he is our captain and well loved by all at Arsenal.  I don’t believe he loves Barcelona more than Arsenal so we have to look for another explanantion.

We have watched him being targetted by opponents for some harsh treatment during the past season. Of course if you’re playing against Arsenal you need to be able to stop Cesc having possesion and working his magic but too many fouls without retribution must surely anger the young man. Where’s the protection?

Cesc and others in the team have consistently gone public over the need to sign a couple of world-class players to complete the jigsaw.  What has Arsène promised him? Does he believe that Arsène will deliver?

How important is money to our Fab4? Barça can offer him higher wages than we ever will and make him a very rich man. But look what we can offer him ………………

At Arsenal he is loved, he is our Captain. If Arsène can fulfill his promise to add to the squad players that will help bring out the best in this team then we will go on to win silverware. But if he leaves we’ll never know.

Capello or Mourinho?

May 30, 2010

Let me make an leap of fancy just for this post. Let us say that the naysayers get their wish and Mr Wenger decides to hang up his tracksuit and take the riches on offer in Italy. What next?  Will the Board insist upon a continuation of the current expansive football policy or will they give way to the whims of a new disciplinarian manager?

The two most talked about and successful managers in World football are probably Mourinho and Cappello. What style of football do they both play? Precisely, and what does that tell us? It tells me that a pragmatic and disciplined approach wins matches. Inter’s remarkable season, which matched in every way the success of the Barca team who are supposedly the best team of all time, was based not on possession and beauty, but on defensive stability and team organisation.

Capello was removed from Real despite taking them to La Liga after the longest trophyless spell in their history, primarily because the Madrid fans detested his playing methods. It is already evident from his work with England that Capello is one hell of a manager, and a man who knows how to take an underachieving team and turn them into winners  – fingers crossed  (44 years is too long, but more recent than the Spuds last league success 😀 )

I have no doubts that either of them would take us to glory, but at what cost?

First out of the door would be Rosicky, Eduardo, Vela, Nasri, and Denilson. These are not the type of player whom one can rely upon to create a firm defensive shield in front of the back four. Gallas is too much of a footballing CB, he would be shown the door alongsde Djourou, and replaced with no-nonsense tough CB’s. Mourinho turned Samuel Et’o from an out and out striker to an all action second striker in the Stevie G mould and he looks an even better player than at Barca (which is a major compliment). Could RvP play such a role – I believe so. Theo can develop defensively and could keep his place.

Signing such a manager would change the ethos of Wenger’s years. It would bring with it the attendant media furore and be very expensive in terms of the new signings required to fulfill the wishes of the manager. However, in order to attain the success that Inter/Barca/ Real/Chavs have achieved , such an investment would be  essential.

But a regression to “1-0 To the Arsenal” ?  …….  what do you think?

A Belated Happy Birthday and the Renaissance of Football

May 30, 2010

May 26 1989, a day never to be forgotten in Gooner history, but also a preface to the modern Arsenal. Here is my story of the evening and why I think it changed the face of our fabulous club.

The run up to the game is embedded in the history books, but no-one can effectively describe the disbelief and despair that echoed around Highbury following the 2-2 home draw to Wimbledon. We had a 12 point lead over Liverpool at Xmas and had seen it whittled away to being 3 points behind. We had thrown away 5 home points in two games against poor opposition. We had choked. Goodness knows the furore had there been blogs in those days – Samaritans would have been busy!

The drudge home after the Dons game was very long. I gave little hope for our chances at Anfield and didn’t even try to get a ticket, but approaching the game I dug deep, sought some “mental strength,” found some fighting spirit.

It should be noted that the game was on a Friday night…. unheard of in those days and rare now.

My wife, thinking that football was a Saturday sport, had booked us to go to a dinner party at her new Boss´s (let’s call him Rupert) flat in the centre of Hampstead. She worked in the media business, and all the guests were from Saatchi & Saatchi.  I told her that I couldn’t attend unless I could watch the game through dinner, her response was to tell me to call Rupert. And here we come to the huge social change that came about that night, and in my opinion changed the face of football forever.

This was the season of Hillsborough, the reputation of English football fans was at an all-time low. If you liked football you were either violent or ignorant and uncultured. Football was for Yobs. Rupert, being cultured and polite, was delighted to hear from me and said that as a guest of course I could watch the game, but ….. I would have to sit at the table with the sound off and participate in the conversation.

We arrived and were shown into a beautiful dining room with a long table and I was sat at the end with a separate table for my 14″ TV. I felt humiliated and less-than, however my addiction came first and I was satisfied. The host had caterers to do the food and serve the wine allowing him to concentrate on his guests. Needless to say., I was at the opposite end of the table to him, due to his assumption that my passion must mean I was incapable of enriching any intelligent conversation.

Seriously, to those youngsters who read this, football fans were viewed as stupid. There were no University courses in Sports Management, no Soccer Academies etc et

So, the first half comes and goes and I am getting tense. At half time people were very “nice” to me, commiserating as though I had lost a pet. Champagne was flowing around the table, some guests went to the toilet to “powder their nose” and I sat there non-communicative, wishing I could find somewhere dark to be alone.

Second half kicked off. Smudger scores. I jump up shouting; they look at me as though I have escaped from a Psychiatric Unit, BUT and here is the start of the change – they got caught up in my passion. Rupert asked me to turn the TV so he could see it. Questions were asked “Who is the tall bloke who keeps raising his arm?”, Why don’t they shoot more? ( 😉 )”, “Why , when Arsenal play in red & white are they playing in yellow and blue?” Needless to say, I was incapable of speech.

The Mickey T moment. Never ever to be forgotten. It replays in my mind in slow motion (as I am sure it does for you). The whole table went mental. Jumping in the air, hugging, back-slapping and shouting. My main recollection was thinking “Where is my coat, I have to get to Highbury…”. but Rupert and his friends were high on the game. They had really enjoyed watching a half of football. They connected! If Big Raddy  – a less thuggish man you could never meet – was a football fanatic, it couldn’t be just razorblade toting thugs that went to Highbury.

I am ashamed to say that I “liberated” a couple of bottles of bubbly, grabbed the wife, and scedaddled as fast as I could to N5. I was dropped off outside the Gunners Pub carrying the champagne which lasted about 4 minutes.  The Fever Pitch film got it right, there was an enormous street party, a feeling of comraderie never repeated. The noise was deafening and I stood on the Marble steps until around 3 a.m. Even at that time the Holloway Road was awash with jubilant Gooners , sharing laughter and booze. Fantastic.

I met Rupert and a number of the fellow guests over the following seasons. All had bought season tickets at Highbury and were as knowledgeable and connected to the Arsenal as any Gooner. Football had become the Cocaine of the Masses!

This is what the Guardian write of the game and the social effect….

“Many cite the match as a pivotal turning point in English football. Writing in The Guardian, Jason Cowley notes how instead of rioting, as had occurred at Heysel with fatal consequences, Liverpool fans stayed on after the game and applauded Arsenal “as if they understood that we were at the start of something new; that there would be no returning to the ways of old”. Cowley describes the match as “the night football was reborn” and that the event “repaired the reputation of football”.

The match is not only seen as the starting point of a renaissance in English football, but also the moment where people started to see the untapped commercial potential of live football on television.”

“Good Old Arsenal We are proud to say that name”

Return to Route One

May 29, 2010

Posted by kelsey

Looking through this season’s goal scorers and trying to make a comparison on yesterday’s debate about Theo  makes quite interesting reading, especially as we were literally scoring from all over the park for the first half of the season.

Who can remember the very first game when we won 6-1 at Everton ? The first 3 goals came from Denilson,Vermaelen and Gallas.

Look at these stats for PL appearances (+ subs) and the goals returned.

Diaby 26 +3 (29) = 6 goals
Rosicky 14 +11 (25) = 3 goals
Nasri 22 +4 (26) = 2 goals
Eduardo 13 +11 (24) = 2 goals
RVP 14 +2 (16) = 9 goals
Vela 1 +10 (11) = 1 goal
Walcott 12 +11 (23) = 3
Arshavin 25 +5 (30) = 10 goals
bendtner 13 +10 (23) = 6
Fabregas 26 +1 (27) = 15
Ramsey 7 +11 (18) = 3

All our other goals came from defenders.

So when we talk about Theo, it is worth bearing in mind apart from Cesc, RVP,  Arshavin and Bendtner, the goals against appearances is not that impressive for a side who nearly always have a high percentage of ball possession.

One can argue that to have scored goals from a variety of players is better than being reliant upon one striker, but several attacking player’s goal ratios are pretty average, and that’s why I feel with Chamakh arriving we might get a more direct route to be more lethal in the box. Any thoughts ?

Should Theo Be On The Plane to South Africa?

May 28, 2010

I’ve been a bit out if the loop this week what with Chav Flower Show to visit but found myself  listening to the Talksport pre World Cup party yesterday evening on the radio. There was lots of talk about whether Rooney is really fit and who should be his partner, why Cashly is the only real left-back now that Bridge won’t be in the dressing-room with Terry and of course who should be first choice to play on the right Lennon or Walcott.

Now don’t get me wrong, I really want Theo to be a huge success – a huge success for Arsenal that is. Will it be good for Arsenal if he has a good World Cup? Will it be good for Theo if he has a bad World Cup? If we could welcome back a pumped-up Theo brimming with confidence to kick on and fulfill his potential that would be fantastic but a crushed Theo, shorn of his self-belief will be useless.

Theo is unproven in my opinion. He has pace, he has the looks, he wears the Arsenal shirt with pride but what has he actually achieved. It was pointed out during the radio show that Capello loves Theo – loves the fact that Theo scored a hat-trick for England and this fact alone puts him in front of Lennon.  This can’t be a good enough reason to give him a starting berth when his form for Arsenal has been almost non-existent. Obviously his injuries haven’t helped him to play  with any consistency but the way the commentators were on his back from the start of the game against Mexico the other night left me thinking that it can’t be a good idea to send a player to the World Cup hoping he’s going to find some form. I fear for him as the expectations are so high.

The accusations are always the same – fantastic pace but no end product. As gooners we have actually seen Theo whip a cross in –  sadly often to no-one in the box – but he can do that. We’ve watched him race down a defender to a ball or track back to defend deftly. We know that he can do these things. We’ve seen him unleash a precise shot that sweetly hits the back of the net and watched as he’s come off the bench to terrify tired legs with 20 minutes to go. He could be Arsenal and England’s not so secret weapon – the secret would be whether his performance would be a success or a failure on that particular day. Which Theo would turn up?

In addition, if its to be a successful day for him, will the other mid-fielders in the England set-up see the signs as only too often they forget to include Theo in the game. He needs them to know he’ll deliver, I hope he’s shining at the England training camp, I hope it won’t be a wasted journey for him as it was in 2006.

If Theo is on the plane I wish him all the luck in the world but if he’s not I don’t think it’ll be a disaster for him or for Arsenal  although its always nice to have one of our own in the England team.

Now Arsenal Must Speak

May 27, 2010

I have been tolerant of Arsenal’s almost total silence surrounding the issue of Cesc Fabregas and his supposed move to Barcelona, but now things have changed.

Up until yesterday there was, literally, nothing of substance to suggest our captain might be wanting out.

Sure, there was endless froth from the newspapers, both here and in Spain, but all based on an unsubstantiated claim by one journalist that Cesc had met Wenger a week and a half ago and demanded a move. The same hack said the deal would be done and dusted by last weekend, so that tells you how reliable he is.

But yesterday Cesc delivered a series of comments that are so enigmatic they have been given diametrically opposed interpretations by different sets of readers.

Here’s what he said about a conversation he had had with Wenger:

“It was probably the greatest conversation I’ve had with anyone in my life.

“I respect him so much and I don’t want to say too much about this.

“He told me to concentrate on my football and to concentrate on the World Cup.

“He told me to leave it in his hands and he will deal with whatever happens with my future. That’s what I’m doing. Just concentrating on football.

“I just want to be focused for the World Cup because it’s the most important thing.

“The rest is the future and I’m not interested in the future. “It’s not up to me anymore. It’s just now about Arsenal and whoever it has to be and that’s it.”

Right, so that’s as clear as Thames mud.

Based on those words I have seen headlines on Newsnow ranging from “Fabregas’ frank Wenger talk reveals Arsenal exit” to  “Fabregas will be at Arsenal next season.”

Comments around the Arsenal blogosphere seem just as conflicted. For some Gooners Cesc is offering sure fire proof that he loves us and isn’t going anywhere and, furthermore, Wenger must have told him about his amazing transfer plans for the summer and that’s why Cesc is staying. Blimey, talk about adding two plus two and making seven.

Others are interpreting the words to mean that Cesc has said he wants off and it’s just a matter of negotiating the price.

The trouble is, either interpretation could be right, or both could be wrong, his words could mean something else entirely.

In these circumstances, and with the issue now out in the open, it is intolerable for Arsenal Football Club not to make a statement on the matter.

Yes, we’ve had a bit of a burble from Peter Hill Wood, bless him, but his words only confuse matters at the best of times.

It is now time for Wenger or Gazidis to issue a statement saying where the club stands on the issue. To do any less is to show utter contempt for the supporters who keep the club going and will be doing so long after Wenger and all the players have moved on.

I don’t care what the statement is as long as it clarifies the situation and puts an end to this febrile sense of uncertainty (although my preference would be for a pronouncement that although we have had an approach from Barca, we have no intention of selling our captain for any price).

We’re waiting Arsenal, and we’re listening. Now SPEAK.


Wigan Revisited

May 27, 2010

Posted by dandan

Strange as it may seem, sometimes being a football fan can be a very lonely business.

Although you are one of millions of like-minded souls if you support a major club like Arsenal, it is still possible to be terribly alone in your own home, perched in front of the TV. Watching moments of triumph and disaster unfold in front of you, particularly when your partner or housemates have no interest or real understanding of just how important these events are. The sheer joy of the interaction with friend or foe being an essential part of the football experience, win or lose the verbal interface increases the agony and the ecstasy and makes the moment unforgettable.

Blogs like this one help immensely if you are lucky enough to have access to the Internet at home. Indeed it was a chance remark from one of our poster’s today, that he goes to sleep thinking of the Arsenal that got me thinking about this.

In my working life I covered some 50,000 miles a year by car in this country alone, always listening to 5 live, I must have clocked up thousands of hours over the years as I drove on Autopilot through the 8 till 10 slot, night after night, heading for home or a hotel bed.

Supporting a club like Arsenal meant that I got more than my share of live commentary’s as we usually did well in all four competitions and were constantly on midweek radio. But still it was not the same, how often did I get strange looks from the occupants of the other cars as I yelled and cheered my way through city traffic. But that is the point, those cheers were nothing but silent mouthing’s to all those who saw me and though I knew the old stadium they were describing, like the back of my hand it still wasn’t the same I was not part of the action.

So where does Wigan come into this, well all you who rail and rant at the what you saw as the capitulation of our club that day, think of all those poor buggers who couldn’t see, but only hear at 70 MPH on some motorway and just how bad they must have felt and know how lucky you were just to be there.

Now one of our posters described it as Snatching Defeat out of the Jaws of Victory, which brought to mind this super poem by Peter Goulding, a real football fan in Ireland who saw his team cock up their run in and lose the last match of the season that would have gained them promotion.

Gloom upon gloom

Snatching defeat out of victory’s jaws,
We threw it away once again.
Draws became losses and wins became draws
And all we have left is the pain.

We thought for a while we’d get out on parole
And walk out, head high, from this jail.
But promotion remains an impossible goal
And suddenly we’re looking frail.

Condemned once again to spend twelve months or more
In this cold and despicable prison,
Staring at walls and the cold concrete floor,
While others in here have arisen.

Conditions down here defy human rights,
The rations decidedly meagre
The minutes tick slow in this cold, lonely nights,
When you’re sentenced to be a low-leaguer.

© Peter Goulding 29th November 2009

So you Gooners how would you be feeling today if that had been your fate. Be happy we have another year in the top flight coming up.