A New Rock Solid Defence – are we still one short?

June 30, 2010

The stress of the transfer window is clearly exacerbated when you’ve watched your experienced keeper – Manuel Almunia – make a series of howlers in the previous season and you hear how your manager is not really looking at a replacement. In addition, knowing that four centre-backs – Campbell, Gallas, Silvestre and Senderos – are possibly not going to be around for the start of the new season, the apparent inactivity by Arsenal has been difficult to witness.

Quite frankly, for a team like Arsenal, lacking a class goal-keeper is a ridiculous situation to be in. We have a number two – Fabianski – who is also of the flappable nature and a number three – Mannone – who was called into action and heroically kept us in a game against Fulham but wasn’t felt to be ready to play more than a few games. Our fourth choice keeper – Szczesny –  has everyone raving about how great he’s going to be but is currently too young and inexperienced.

So, reports that we could be interested in signing Mark Schwartzer from Fulham are interesting. Do we need 5 goal-keepers? Who’s going to make way for him? Surely if he is to be our new No.1, Almunia or Fabianski must be moved on…………..

But it is the centre-back pairing is causing even more debate. We are linked – and I suspect he’ll be unveiled very soon – with Laurent Koscielny from french side Lorient and we have Johann Djourou available fighting fit – for now.  Who should be first choice partner for Thomas Vermaelen? Senderos has already gone but we have no idea if Gallas and Campbell are staying or going. Gallas played his best football for us last season and Campbell was a revelation adding spirit and desire to the team. They both have high wages and I suspect they’ll both be hampered with injuries next season so we don’t need for them both to stay but one would be nice.

Koscielny may cost us £8.5m which is not money being spent for him to sit on the bench so I assume he will be our new No.6 and the first choice partner for Vermaelen. Djourou will be back-up together with either Campbell or Gallas. But what if they both go? Ooops we’ll need another CB – Anton Ferdinand anyone? What if they both stay? It must be doing Arsenes head in. Either way I’m looking forward to welcoming Koscielny to be part of our new rock solid defence but we still need one more……………..Silvestre?????????

Yesterday, Rasp and London got all excited at the thought of the new centre-back pairing being Djourou and Koscielny and Vermaelen being pushed up to partner Song in front of the back four as our new long awaited DM. Now that does sound like a plan, only then we’d be two short at the back. Go figure………….see you in the comments.

Following last nights Spain v Portugal game I’m compelled to say – Cesc, we love you, we’d never leave you on the bench for a whole game, come home, don’t even think about playing in Spain – not yet anyway, wait until they really need you.


French Farce – Will Arsenal Pay the Price?

June 29, 2010

Written  by dandan

So the World cup has for England, like France, ended in tears. A pathetic emasculated display against Germany has left the country bewildered and angry at the limp-wristed performance that undersold all that we love about the Premiership. No pace, no pressing, no organisation. Eleven misfits who didn’t appear to know their place or purpose and a back four that played in such a way that our local pub team would have fancied there chances against them.

All our grievances with them appear to be football based, unless and until the balloon goes up on their return. The only criticism of the manager appears to be that he liked to keep the team sheet to himself until 2 hrs before the match. It would seem he wishes to stay on for the Europeans. Will that happen? Who knows, but we will soon find out following a meeting with the FA.

Oh that France had so few problems! A mutiny within the squad culminating in our former ‘Le Sulk’ launching a half time foul mouthed tirade at the manager, questioning his character, tactics, capabilities and reason for being. Unsurprisingly, Anelka was dispatched post haste to the airport on the next flight home. The next day, after an on field team meeting, the captain voiced the team’s solidarity with the brooding absentee and refused to train. A statement followed expressing their loyalty to France and the fans. This was read paradoxically by the coach, even though he was their biggest complaint. Consequently, the patched up, out of sorts and demoralised team were taken apart and ditched out of the competition by the hometown boys of South Africa.

They have since summarily returned home economy class in disgrace. The whole debacle has resulted in questions being asked in the French parliament and several players have been summoned for questioning by the enquiry.

Caught up in the middle of this sorry tale are four Arsenal players, Sagna, Clichy, Diaby and the out of contract Gallas. How, I wonder, will they react to this debacle? Surely the most shameful episode ever in French football. What kind of mental state will these guys be in when they return for the new season?

The fact that Gallas, (whose mental state is questionable at the best of times) is probably leaving us is a bonus I think. But will the three young Frenchman so important to our success this year have the mental resolve to handle such catastrophic happenings and the likely backlash from their incensed countryman?

Will the press here constantly compare them to the errant John Terry who himself attempted to muster a mutiny at a Press Conference?

Will we as a club suffer from the loss of form in these young men as they try to come to terms with the enormity of the disappointment and the manner of their World Cup exit?

Will we once again pay the price for something beyond AW’s control that has occurred while his players are away on International duty? Not physical injury this time but mental perhaps.

Summer Signings – expect to be ‘slightly disappointed’

June 28, 2010


Since when did telling it like it is make anyone a pessimist?

I expect to be slightly disappointed by our transfer activity this summer for the fifth season in a row, but I am eagerly looking forward to next season, full of the optimism  and 100% behind whichever Arsenal players take to the pitch.

If I had to stake anyone’s house on it, I would guess that by the time the transfer window closes, Cesc will still be an Arsenal player and we will not have signed any players over the £10m mark. If he goes, we may look for another midfielder but I still would not expect us to pay over £20m for a ‘replacement’ (possibly Gourcuff) even if we get £45m for Cesc.

My disappointment will be that it doesn’t look like we will be in the market for another holding midfielder to protect the back four. A player who could either cover for, or play alongside Song. I don’t think Diaby can concentrate for long enough periods to be a reliable DM and Denilson lacks the physical presence. We need a player who will allow our numerous attacking midfielders to play with more freedom, a system that Brazil have executed very effectively in this World Cup.

In the belief that the deals for Koscielny and Schwarzer are in the bag, this is how it currently stands:

Chamakh Campbell Merida
Ebecilio Fabregas Senderos
Koscielny Almunia Gallas
Schwarzer Joe Cole Silvestre
Player ‘X’ Player ‘X’ Eduardo

Forget about labelling anyone as a pessimist – wake up and smell the coffee …this is how it is……

  1. The dynamic of footballer transfers has become polarised by the emergence of billionaires who see owning a football club as a status symbol, and at the other end of the scale, by the growing debt of clubs at all levels. We are not even going to enter into a bidding situation over a player if the likes of citeh, chelski, Real or Barça are interested.
  2. Our Board and manager are ‘prudent’ in the extreme and have formulated a business model for the club that is held up as THE way to run a football club in the 21st century. As is often pointed out on this site, it is a small miracle that we have achieved the level of success we have in terms of league position over the last five years under the financial constraints imposed due to the building of the stadium.
  3. In terms of priority, playing attractive football that entertains and attracts supporters and TV audiences and keeping the club solvent is more important than winning trophies. Arsène has said that qualifying to the Champions League is ‘winning something’ and in terms of revenue to the club that cannot be denied.
  4. The media and internet community are responsible for 99% of the rubbish that is disseminated regarding transfers, but it is also so pervasive that it is virtually impossible for any club to land a ‘surprise big signing’. All of our recent player acquisitions have been flagged up for weeks in advance. The process is often protracted as we negotiate hard to get the player at the best possible price.

Arsène has come out again and said “We will soon sign a player on the defensive front”. Translated that means the deal for Koscielny is already done and we are just sorting out the fine detail. This will allow the club’s PR department maximise the impact and announce the signing before the end of the WC in line with Wenger’s promise.

Unless one of the major shareholders takes the plunge and makes a successful takeover bid and decides to recklessly gamble their own money on buying players, I expect our involvement in the transfer market for the rest of the Wenger era to be pretty much at the level demonstrated this summer. We are not going to pay £30m+ for the likes of David Villa. The so-called ‘warchest’ was club spin to say that we are in a better condition financially this summer and we can spend some money if Arsène chooses – not that we are going to splash out £40m on a high profile player.

I choose to support Arsenal in the knowledge of these limitations and have to reluctantly accept that winning trophies is not our right or even our main priority. If we do win anything next season it will be a huge bonus. If we don’t, we will be entertained by some wonderful football.

On the positive side, I expect Chamakh to be our top scorer, Koscielny to be another ‘Vermaelen’, Ramsey to return and become a great player and Cesc to give us one more quality season. On the negative side, I expect we will suffer more than our fair share of injuries, we will go out of the cup competitions by the quarter final stages and we will still lose points to the likes of Stoke and Blackburn.

That’s not pessimism, it’s realism!

Written by Rasp

How Good Is The Premiership Really?

June 26, 2010

Written by peaches

If you were asked who the top ten world class players were in the premiership I’m sure your list would include Rooney, Torres, Cesc, Lampard, Drogba, Anelka, Van Persie to name a few – no spuds of course – yet all these players have failed to live up to their expectations in South Africa this summer.

Season on season they light up the premiership for their clubs and yet none of them, so far, have been able to grab a game by the scruff of its neck and make things happen. Mind you, our Cesc did put though some lovely balls to David Villa last night who strangely didn’t say thankyou for a single one.

The theories for this lack of sparkle are many – playing at altitude, training at altitude and the Jubilana ball are all being given as reasons why the tournament isn’t seeing the best of our stars in addition to the fact that ours is the biggest league and we play more games than anyone else. But maybe when compared to the South Americans the Premiership isn’t as good as we think it is.  I thought England did OK against Slovenia – they couldn’t have played any worse than against Algeria – but I find watching Argentina and Uruguay far more inviting.

How many of the Premierships world class players would get into a Fantasy Argentina Side for example?

Why didn’t Drogba or Anelka do for their countries what they do for Chelsea week in week out?

As an England supporter I want Rooney to do really well (cough, splutter) but as an Arsenal supporter I want Cesc to weave his magic for Spain and Robin to bury a few in the top left-hand corner for Holland to delight the millions that will be watching world-wide. Although its a double-edged sword having Cesc do well as obviously his talents are not really appreciated by Spain.

I want the players that we watch week in week out to be a credit to themselves and to the Premiership that is lauded as the strongest league in the world – its not happening so far. Is that because they’re really not that good by comparison?

Questions for Arsenal Fans

June 25, 2010

Written by dandan

What is it about so many football fans that they seem to delight in emphasising the negatives  when it comes to their club? It matters not who within the club makes the statement, the built in defence mechanisms that surround the glass half empty brigade immediately activates,  causing them to sharpen their pencils, tear at their hair and default immediately to denial mode.

Unhappy not to be told, unhappier when they are, questioning every statement whilst poo-pooing anything that does not show the ink drying on a newly signed contract. Why do they put themselves through this? Surely it would be better to hibernate for the summer and then access the official site and review the squad when the transfer window closes.

Constructive criticism is one thing, but the inability to accept that there may be a grain of truth in these statements is another. Even if they are not true and some patently are not, the amount of abuse they engender, much of it vitriolic and profane is remarkable. Why if you were a true fan, would you want to fire such loathsome denigration at the team you profess to support?

The great joy of being a fan is discussing the club and yes it is a matter of opinions, but seeing that many of these opinions are often both uninformed and wrong, it does beggar the question why do we get so upset and why so often negative and aggressive?

We are a great club, with a great manager, our future is bright, do we need the abuse, or are we better than that?

Interesting times

Is football itself coming to its senses? Today, bloggers are posting that two out of contract players connected with Arsenal have priced themselves out of the market place.  Joe Cole is reportedly looking for a pay packet in excess of  £100k a week and is said to have been rejected by Man Utd, leaving the field open for Arsenal and the Spuds. Whilst William Gallas too has had his demands rejected, this time with Juventus.

Now I don’t know about you, but I cannot see AW paying an attacking midfielder that kind of money, when we already have a gaggle of players in his position, none of whom are earning anything remotely like that.

It would seem that its down to ‘appy ‘arry to talk the spuds parent company into allowing the kind of excesses practiced at several of ‘arrys former clubs as they boldly marched down the road to insolvency. I doubt it will happen,  these are proper businessmen, not soccer infatuated locals blinded by the glamour of mixing with the so-called stars and celebrities of our game

As for dear William our ever rational ex-skipper, he not only wants twice the contract length we have offered him, but also twice the salary Juventus have offered him.

Could it be that clubs themselves are coming to their senses? Realising that in these difficult times across Europe it is not wise to be seen paying players excessively, when fans struggle to meet the commitments of everyday life, without being mugged for the price of a season ticket.

What, I wonder, would the faithful say if Gallas unable to realise the value he puts on himself elsewhere, elects to stay at the Emirates?

Likewise Joe Cole at Chelsea.

Interesting times it seems…….

Eboue: The Tears of a Clown

June 24, 2010

I have to admit that I find Eboue difficult. Everyone can admire the way he has turned the Arsenal faithful and become an icon at the Emirates. He has more songs than any other player, which is astonishing considering we have had the genius of Fabregas. When we first sang “You have only come to see Eboue”, it was ironic, that is no longer the case. He has gone from leaving the pitch in a flood of tears to being our touchstone.

Eboue is admirable in so many ways. A family man, a religious man and a happy man. The team joker, the dressing room darling. He has shown that with dedication, hard work and non-stop action, it is possible to resurrect a career. But, and here is the rub, he has that other side which we all find so frustrating. Eboue is our Steven Gerrard – our own Greg Louganis . the man could have won an Oscar for some of his acting over the past few seasons. It is embarassing and is not the Arsenal Way. However, my purpose is to look at Eboue as a footballer and what he brings to the team.

EE has been at Arsenal for 6 years, played close to 200 games but has yet to establish himself. A natural Right back, he has developed his game to become a general dogsbody, capable of filling any role apart from GK, and he could well be a better GK than what we have! He has pace and can beat a man at will. He is our best right sided crosser which will be important given the arrival of Chamakh. The man appears to be the perfect squad member; capable of covering a multitude of positions, and in particular be back-up to Sagna.

In my opinion, our season fell apart because our squad wasn’t good enough. Our first team have qualities that could well win the PL. but with the unfortunate run of injuries, players who are on the periphery of the team got the opportunity to shine. The rest is history. It became clear that our squad is not strong enough, incapable of competing with the likes of Blackburn and the Spuds, and Eboue, the most experienced of this bunch (sans Sol) did nothing to indicate he is worth a first team slot.

It is strange that we have yet to develop an outstanding youth right back. We are blessed on the left with 3 fantastic players, but rely upon Eboue should anything happen to Sagna.

Wenger had concerns about Eboue otherwise he wouldn’t have signed Sagna, yet there is a feeling around THOF that EE should start ahead of Sagna, primarily because he brings extra potency to the attack, but I believe when Walcott is playing, Sagna is the better bet – he is more disciplined in his positional play and is a far better defender.

The media is full of rumour that Barca are interested in signing Eboue. Can you really believe it?

The Ivory Coast played him in an advanced position in the World Cup and he was close to anonymous – tried hard, went on mazy runs, but had no cutting edge.

I believe Eboue has a place at Arsenal, purely as back up RB. He has no end product, runs into blind alleys and panics the moment he gets in the penalty area. That he gives everything for the shirt is not in doubt and his arrival as sub certainly raises the energy level of the team.

My ambivalence stems from my concerns that he just isn’t good enough for the Arsenal. Good player, yes, but good enough…. No.

Is Hugo Lloris Really The Answer?

June 23, 2010

Yesterday, France exited the World Cup pretty much as they entered it – just a tad embarrassed.

Those whose heads should bow in eternal shame are Sidney Govou, Franck Ribery, Patrice Evra and everyone’s friend Raymond Domenech. It was a complete disgrace and to be honest you’d have to really feel for the French fans who went to South Africa. The tricolour that had “shame” written across it said it all. Hopefully for the sake of French football Blanc can wipe the slate clean and start all over again. If the French public are patient hopefully he can do it – old heads like Henry, Gallas and Anelka will retire while embarrassments like Evra should never don the famous blue again.

Happily, I can report that the Arsenal contingent tried their best unlike 99% of the rest. Sagna and Gallas at least looked interested and ran (while others stayed in a jog), Clichy as always gave it everything while its hard to know when Diaby is trying or not because he always gives off the same vibe so we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.

Another one of the French players who survived with his persona in tact is one who has lately been mooted as the next big thing in the goalkeeping world. France’s number one, Hugo Lloris, has been linked with Arsenal so often I’ve lost count. A lot of the blogs seem to really want him too. I wanted him – up until the World Cup started. Once again it seems to be a case of watching a couple of games and basing judgement on those snippets (I include myself in this folly).

Lloris is a top keeper – actually wait, he’s a top SHOTSTOPPER!

As he did for Lyon in the Champions League, he did for France in the World Cup. He proved himself to be a more than ample shotstopper but once those crosses started coming in he would flap at them like a mad man, remind you of anyone?

What is the point in replacing Almunia with someone who isn’t any better at crosses (watch the 1st South African goal from yesterday) but who may be a slightly better shot stopper? The EPL is made up with a lot of teams who will throw a tall player up front and either play route one football or spread it to the wings to try and get crosses on to the head of their target man. Hence, we need someone confident under high balls. Lloris, in my opinion, isn’t that man.

He is young and I’m sure he will improve in the next few seasons but I think we have all agreed we don’t have time to wait. We need a strong, stable keeper now.

Watching Lloris makes me appreciate how hard it must be for Le Boss and the scouts to try and find a top player especially a keeper. But the joys of it is that I can moan and bitch about it while watching those youtube clips and saying we should have signed Lloris already – seeing the shiny parts of his game while ignoring the major flaws. Meanwhile the gaffer and his boys have to face the brunt of it if he spends £10mil on someone and it doesn’t work out. Ah well, that’s what he gets paid £5million a year for – c’mon boss make it happen, get us a superman ‘keeper.

When did the sportmanship die?

June 22, 2010

Written by dandan

Once upon a time I had a hero called Dennis Compton, he was the archetypal sportsman, besides playing football for Arsenal and England, he also played a bit of cricket for Middlesex and England and in between, fitted in 5 years fighting in the Second World War.

Coming from a less than privileged background, he joined the Lords ground staff and played cricket in the summer and football in the winter. Winning League championship and FA Cup winner’s medals with the Arsenal, whilst at the same time being the most loved English cricketer of his generation. An attacking batsman who, devoid of all the protective gear of today, faced the most feared fast bowlers from all around the world on pitches left uncovered and open to the elements at all times. Compton accumulated a vast number of runs and a reputation for his bravery, sportsmanship and the ability, and like Ian Botham, he could party all night and carry on batting next day as though he had spent the night in his bed.

He was the David Beckham of his day, the first man to advertise products as a result of his sporting fame. He was known right up until his death in 1997 as ‘The Brylcreem Boy’ – the hair cream he advertised throughout his career. He never made any real money and had to work in the media after his retirement to keep the wolf from the door.

I met him a number of times in the years prior to his death and he was never less than polite and a joy to talk with and listen to.

I mention this just as a comparison to Messrs John Terry and Nicholas Anelka, wealthy football players who wouldn’t know a sportsman if they fell over him on their way out of whatever nightclub is the flavour of the moment.

These gentlemen, having both been chosen to represent their respective countries in the World Cup. An honour recognised as the pinnacle of any professional player’s career, and the dream of every kid or fan that ever kicked a ball.

They have debased that honour by criticising the team’s management not just within the confines of the team, something that although not encouraged is at least accepted in certain circumstances but deliberately in Terry’s case, in front of the full media circus.

The fact that it matters not to either of them if they never play again, being as they are financially secure for life, does not detract from the fact that these were the actions of two bitter and selfish men.

How should their actions be viewed when judged against the like of Dennis Compton and what does it say about the values of the game we love?

So when did the sportsmanship die, is football alone in its cynicism and love of self?

Does cricket still have it? Remember the actions of Freddie Flintoff and Brett Lee in the last home Ashes series.

Golf certainly still has it, as all golfers report any personal transgression, with instant expulsion from the sport for any failure so to do.

Should Terry and Anelka be treated in such a manner? Anelka was sent home, should John Terry have received a similar response? Capello, ‘the strict disciplinarian’ has come out and said that Terry made a mistake, but maybe his worth to the team makes him less dispensable than Anelka.

Arsenal’s Best Transfer News Ever

June 21, 2010

When a transfer announcement sends tingles down your spine and leaves a smile on your face for weeks then you know it’s something special. I’m old enough and lucky enough to have experienced that sensation on a number of occasions. So, as we sit by our computers this summer waiting to be transported into football heaven by the news of a stunning new signing for the Arse, it seems like a good moment to consider some of those great out-of-the-blue transfers of years past.

To be clear, I do not mean the signing of players who turned out to be brilliant – so there’s no room here for Thierry Henry (who arrived after being a bit-part winger during France’s ’98 WC win) or Patrick Vieira (rescued from anonymity and mediocrity in Italy). We certainly welcomed those signings and hoped they would turn out for the best, but we hardly thought “that’s it – the title’s in the bag.” I’m talking about how things felt at the very moment the player was signed, without the benefit of hindsight.

So here goes: in reverse order, the 10 most exciting incoming transfers in my Arsenal supporting memory.

10.  David Seaman (from QPR, 1990)

When George Graham did the brown paper bag business to land Spunky it was a surprise to most Gunners as we were pretty happy with John Lukic.  But Seaman was already being talked of as the best young keeper of his generation and his arrival was a signal of intent: if we were going to be the best in the country, we needed the best goalie in the country.  The 1990/91 season proved how good a move it was.

9.  David Platt (from Sampdoria, 1995)

The 1994/5 season had ended in failure and disgrace for us, with Graham sacked for his aforementioned activities in the paper bag area. More of a crime, as far as many of us were concerned, had been his teams’ style of play during his last couple of years in charge. A midfield including Morrow, Hillier and Selley was about as daunting for our opponents as going 12 rounds with Noddy. It was hard to be optimistic about the season ahead – but then Bruce Rioch was appointed manager and two quick signings were enough to get us fired up again. One of them was Platty, one of the heroes of Italia ’90 and a player who had excelled in Serie A, winning the UEFA Cup with Juventus before joining Sampdoria. Good signing? Well, at least we’d heard of him.

8.  Dennis Bergkamp (from Inter Milan, 1995)

Before anyone starts saying he should be higher up the order, I can tell you that DB10 is my all time favourite Arsenal player. And when he joined us in the same summer close season as David Platt, I was thrilled. I knew him as that incredible Dutch player who had single-handedly destroyed England and who had scored 103 league goals in 185 outings for Ajax. But in the couple of years immediately prior to joining Arsenal, Dennis’s star had waned at Inter (a goal return of 11 in 52 starts over two years tells its own story).  I hoped he’d be brilliant – and I was overjoyed that at least he was a step up from signings like Eddie McGoldrick and Glenn Helder – but I didn’t know he would turn out to be a once in a lifetime player for us.

7.   Pat Jennings (from Sp*rs, 1976)

With my Irish family background I had always loved Jennings, even though he played for them. He was so patently brilliant, with hands the size of dustbin lids and a voice as deep as the Mariana Trench. In 1976 the Spuds came to the conclusion that Big Pat was at the ‘last orders’ stage of his career and sold him to us. Oh, how we laughed eight years later as he was still there between the sticks at the mighty Arse, with three FA Cup Final appearances under his belt.

6.  Ian Wright (from Crystal Palace, 1991)

When you’ve just won the league you really want to hear that your manager is not sitting on his laurels but is strengthening the team to keep momentum going.  Wrighty’s signing was a great statement by George Graham. He was obviously a brilliant striker (his supersub performance for Palace against ManUre in the 1990 FA Cup final stands out in the memory) and he seemed just the man to push us on to a period of true dominance. Little did we know that it would take seven more years and the arrival of a professorial Frenchman before Wrighty would ever get a champions medal.

5.  Charlie Nicholas (from Celtic, 1983)

In the 1982/83 season Charlie scored 48 league goals for the Hoops in 74 games – an amazing return for a young striker. He was Scottish Player (and Young Player) of the year and Liverpool and ManUre were desperate to sign him. (The Liverpool-based Scottish players conducted a campaign of persuasion not dissimilar to that of the Barca boys in their attempt to woo Cesc). So when it was announced he was coming to Highbury it was Scotch whisky all round.

4.  Malcolm Macdonald (from Newcastle Utd, 1976)

I nearly cried with happiness when I heard we’d signed Supermac. The dynamic Londoner who’d made his name with the Geordies was a perfect blend of pace, power and skill.  If he couldn’t out-sprint defenders he just ran over them. He was a brick wall with a Formula One engine. Just a year before joining us he had scored five goals in a single game for England (against Cyprus).  It was obvious he would lead the Arsenal line for years to come. Sadly, after two seasons as top scorer, a knee injury brought his career to a premature end.

3.  Davor Suker (from Real Madrid, 1999)

Yes, younger readers – in those days players left Madrid to join us. Suker was a superbly gifted Croatian striker who had been a sensation at the 1998 World Cup in France. I was driving down the A1 after a visit to relatives when the news came through on the radio that we’d signed him. My fist-pumping and screaming caused great alarm to drivers in adjacent lanes. He never really lived up to his promise with us (although I fondly remember one stunner at home against Villa) but, on the day we signed him, life felt good.

2.  Clive Allen (from QPR, 1980)

It was one of the strangest transfer episodes ever in the history of our club, but when the young striker signed for us the press were universally agreed that, going into the 1980/81, season Arsenal would have the strongest attacking line-up in the league: they called it the SAS attack – Stapleton-Allen-Sunderland. I was on Cloud Nine when he signed. And then on Cloud One (?) two months later when he left us for Crystal Palace without ever having kicked a ball in anger. There was talk of a dodgy deal by which QPR were not able to sell him directly to Palace and in which we agreed to act as go-betweens, but it was all very strange. It didn’t turn out all bad though – we did get Kenny Sansom from Palace in part exchange, who became arguably the best left back we’ve ever had.

1.  Sol Campbell (from Sp*rs, 2001)

Oh what bliss, oh what joy, oh what schadenfreude. Big Sol was far and away the best player at the Spuds for the previous few seasons. He was their talisman, their captain, their heart and soul. His contract was at an end, he had told the Spuds fans he would not leave, some of the biggest clubs in Europe wanted him – and he joined one of them: Arsenal. What a coup, what a masterstroke. Spuds fans of my acquaintance literally could not bring themselves to speak. It was finest piece of David Dein and Arsene Wenger teamwork ever.

That’s it. Older supporters may want to suggest names from the ‘60s and earlier who don’t appear here. Others of you may want to challenge my ordering or insist on other signings who should be in there. Feel free to disagree… that’s the point of blogs like this.


My mate Nik Bendtner

June 20, 2010

Imagine you are in the pub having a quiet drink in the corner on your own. An Arsenal player walks in and seeing your scarf/shirt asks if he can sit down at your table and have a chat and a few beers. After the initial shock and the thought  “Is he trying to pick me up?”, you settle down to an enjoyable evening drinking and chewing the fat. My question is which player would you choose to join you?

This is inspired by the discussion about Cesc and his potential to upset the dressing room on his return to THOF. Would he? Could he? Has he the strength of personality to influence the dressing room? And from there my thoughts went to “how do we know what Cesc is like” or any of the players? Does their pitch performance give any indication of their personality ,and if so who is the player I would like to know?

This has nothing to do with who is my favourite player, it is who would I like as a friend. For example – Sagna. Would he be the sort of chap whom I could empathise with? Sadly not –  the blonde braids  rule him out. Gallas? – looks a bit surly to me and doesn’t smile much – the sort of bloke who likes to start a fight.

I have narrowed it down to four …. Eboue, Arshavin, Rosicky and Bendtner. I think these three could be really entertaining company. All good for a laugh, and in Arshavin’s case highly intelligent. Eboue has a fine sense of the dramatic and when he smiles, he lights up – plus he is the joker in the squad, however I struggle to understand his English, so I would have to rule hím out. Arshavin has a degree and a life away from football. His website is hugely amusing and he appears to be a rounded personality. A family man and a rebel – an attractive mix. Rosicky is another intelligent man and clearly has an eye for the ladies – have you seen his wife!. He smiles and laughs on the pitch and yet can be steely and determined.

But it would have to be Nik. A man who can destroy an Aston Martin and the next day go to work in his second car, the Porsche; a man who at the age of 22 is dating a stunning Danish Baroness (and one of the richest women in the world); a noted beer monster, and a guy always up for a party. Plus, he can be serious and speak intelligently about a range of subjects. You know you would have a laugh with Nik.

Who would you choose?