England relieve the pressure on Arsenal supporters

June 19, 2010

Well what a load of rubbish our national side dished up last night. My immediate post match reaction was all about anger and disappointment rather than logical analysis – just like when Arsenal have a poor game. Of course it’s all football and not surprising that the emotion is similar when watching England as watching Arsenal.

Arsenal will always come before England in my heart, but I’ll watch a game in the park and find myself urging one team to win even though I’ve never seen them play before.

All this got me thinking about the parallels between a poor England performance and a poor Arsenal performance.

The big question that applies to both is….. are the players to blame or the manager?

Did Capello become a bad manager in the last week? Do we have a different Arsène Wenger in charge compared to the one who orchestrated the Invincibles?

The England side lacked balance. Players were played out of position – Gerrard wide left; Heskey just a magnet for the long ball with no end product; Lampard there just for his reputation. Joe Cole was the only player available who could produce some magic and he was left sitting on the bench. I’m 100% sure that if Theo had been on the bench he would have been brought on last night, but he wasn’t even in the squad – BIG mistake.

The manager clearly failed to say anthing to make a difference in his half-time team talk and he didn’t select the players from the bench who were capable of turning the game around. I don’t buy the argument that the players are overpaid prima donnas who couldn’t care. To me they looked like they wanted it too much, were scared of failure and could not handle the pressure despite their wealth of experience. I consider Capello to be the most culpable for England’s poor performance.

Arsenal too have been guilty of fielding sides that lack balance and using players out of position. We have favoured players who by all accounts are brilliant in training but fail to reproduce that form in matches. We have looked clueless and lacking in a plan B, so logically, one would expect to apportion most of the blame to the manager – and as we are all aware, many supporters take that view to extremes.

Here I think the comparison falls down. Unlike Capello, Arsène is answerable to a Board who’s first concern is the future and financial stability of the club and possibly if I am cynical, the potential future value of their investment. The candy coated PR that Arsenal churn out is blatantly aimed at giving the message thay want us to swallow rather than a true account of activities behind the scenes and Arsène is a pawn in that process. I believe he is currently making statements regarding transfers that he knows are unlikely to come true.

Yes Arsène has made some bewildering team selections and persevered with players who many believe will not make the grade. Sometimes as in the case of Alex Song, he has been proved right andin other cases the jury is still out. But he is the manager and he is paid to make those decisions.

Some of the media mongrels are already calling for Hary Redknapp to replace Capello. Although I’d like to see it simply because it would be great to hear all the whinging totnum fans, I don’t believe he has ability to manage much above the Championship.

So thank you very much Mr. Capello, you have made the self flagellation of being an Arsenal supporter in the transfer window just a bit more tollerable. I wonder if Mr. Wenger has a wry smile on his face when he witnesses the fierce condemnation that his contemporaries Domenech and Capello are being subjected to.


Keeping the Pride if Cesc stays

June 18, 2010

Good for Mexico, France need a miracle now to get out of their group so says their hapless manager Raymond Domenech. He looked almost as stupid standing on the touch-line at a loss for how to improve his team as  Shteve McClaren did under his umbrella.

Make no mistake, the French side is still packed with world class players, but with divisions in their camp that stopped them playing for the shirt and having cheated to get to the World Cup finals its probably right that their journey ends quickly.  What I find worrying is the manner of their departure. Footballers should play for the shirt, club or country, whatever is going on behind the scenes between other players or their feelings about the manager and his decisions.

The management of the French Football team has to take reponsibility for leaving Domenech in the position knowing that he’s failing to get the team to play for him, but equally, the players have to look at themselves for failing to put in the effort. If this can happen at International level, it can happen at club level too.

I’ve moaned about Arsenal players not doing their job properly, not working hard enough, not earning their money on the pitch. I’ve always felt that the relationship that exists between Arsène Wenger and the Arsenal players is very special. They want to play for him, they want to do well for him – the fact that he’s the manager of Arsenal comes second. The young men that he recruits into our team will have a love of Arsenal because of him too – because of the way our football has developed under his management. I feel, when the time comes,  we will need one of his disciples to carry the torch into the future, but thats in the future.

The feeling that there may be disharmony in our camp if Cesc stays is a real one. Certain sections of supporters and the media will be waiting to pounce on anything that looks like Cesc or any of the other players aren’t pulling their weight. Arsène Wenger is going to need all his beloved psychology to maintain a stable club and team. I would be disgusted to think that our players were not pulling on the red and white and playing with pride.

Les Bleus should be ashamed of themselves this morning.


Wouldn’t you prefer to watch the Arsenal?

June 16, 2010

Written by dandan

Having watched just about all the world cup so far, I find myself reduced almost to a state of depression at the dreadful garbage being consistently served up in the name of football, although to be fair last tuesday’s North Korea V Brazil was an improvement. That game aside, match after match have been timid affairs devoid of any risk taking. Unless, as in the case of poor Rob Green a mistake gets made.

Where is the skill, the excitement, and the ambition even to make a telling pass? All the things we were led to expect from supposedly the cream of world football are missing.  Unfortunately dross is dross no matter what banner it is played under.

It then occurred to me that there are clubs in our own premier league who serve up fare like that every week. Long balls, constantly soaring over the heads of an almost redundant midfield, aimed for the big guys in the penalty area in the hope that a knockdown will fall kindly and be bundled into the net. On the rare occasion an attacker does get a ball to feet he immediately goes to ground feigning a foul, seeking a free kick in the hope that their match winner the dead ball specialist can carve something out of nothing.

At the other end busses are parked across the goal as Chelsea’s special one famously put it. Negativity rules it seems, we shall not lose, winning is all.

Well not from where I am it isn’t, football is supposed to be an entertainment, the fare we are being served from South Africa is most definitely not that and deserves the continual giant raspberry being blown by the never-ending cacophony of the vuvuzelas.

Why do I feel like this? Because I have been spoilt in the past decade watching the wonderful Wengerball. Real entertainment this, risks included. Breathtaking movement, sublime goals, annoying mistakes and skilful individuals, whose artistry leaves the watcher mesmerised and amazed at the sheer magnificent’s of this the truly beautiful game. So stark a contrast is this, to that we have watched over the past week as to be almost unrecognisable as the same game.

Our detractors tell me we have won nothing for five years.

Really? I believe we have won over thousands of new fans around the world who would much rather watch us than this daily dose of a non-event that is the world cup. Call me what you will, stick to your negative safety-first style if you must, be bored witless in the cause of not losing.

But we are the Arsenal and win or lose. I cannot wait for the new season and some real entertainment at the home of football.


Dennis Bergkamp – “would you fly if you could walk on water?”

June 16, 2010

Morning all. Yesterday, irishgunner wrote this fantastic post about Dennis Bergkamp which unfortunately NewsNow didn’t pick up until early evening. As many of our regular readers might have missed it, we have decided to keep it up for a while longer and so have published it this morning under a different title. Apologies to those of you who are experiencing deja-vu, it’s that good, reading it twice won’t be a hardship.

Watching the World Cup always brings out the romantic in me. By that I mean it makes me think of the greats that I as a young one wasn’t around (and thus lucky enough) to see play. Those type of players who I feel are better than any that play nowadays.

A lot here could name them better than me, but I’ll throw out a few: Pele, Alfredo di Stefano, Zico, Bobby Charlton, Franz Beckenbauer, Liam Brady, Johnny Giles, Ferenc Puskas, Gianni Rivera, George Best and Teofilo Cubillas among others.

In my head, they are perhaps twice as good as they were on the field. I feel like I have missed out on something and the grainy footage that plays on my DVD player doesn’t do them justice. Last night after Germany demolished a static Australia, I sat down and instead of pining to “have seen Brady play at Highbury just once” I actually thought how lucky I was to have seen some of the players I have seen over the years.

I was born in 1986, got caught up in the football fever that swept Ireland during Italia 90 before becoming a Gooner in 1994. During that time I’ve seen some wonderful players: Maradona still had a bit left in his legs during the early 90s. There was that wonderful AC Milan team of Rossi, Baresi, Maldini, Rijkaard and Weah and the insane skills of Zidane, Raul, Ronaldinho and Ronaldo (the Brazilian one) in their prime.

At Arsenal we had some of our own players who were above others on the field. One stands head and shoulders above the rest – the Iceman, DB10!

Dennis Bergkamp’s arrival in London in 1995 saw the beginning of a new dawn at Arsenal as the club began to look to Europe for more talent. Some say that it was Wenger who gave the go-ahead for Bergkamp’s signature, others claim it was David Dein but lets give the credit to Bruce Rioch. He was manager, he was there when Bergkamp first held aloft the wonderful red and white.

The Dutchman came to us under a cloud. At the time he was the second most expensive signing in the world after Inter Milan paid Ajax £12million for his services in 1993. He flattered to deceive in Italy and just two years on arrived in North London for £7.5million. During the very early days, many claimed that Arsenal had wasted what was then a decent sum of money – now it is seen as one of the biggest bargains in football history.

It took Bergkamp seven games to score his first goal for the Gunners (against Southampton) and during this time he went through a tough transitional period, but then he got going, oh how he got going! He got going so much after that there was literally no stopping him.

In 423 games he scored 120 goals and I have enough confidence to say that NOT ONE of them were run of the mill tap-ins. Bergkamp didn’t do run of the mill, he did majestic, he did magical, he did genius. I have studied English Literature in college, read the greats like Byron, Keats, Shakespeare and Joyce, yet I still struggle to find a superlative to do justice to the Iceman. It seems utterly useless to even try now, so I’ll go through some of the goals he scored and you can try and put an adjective on them in your own head.

1. September 1997. His hat-trick against Leicester is voted as the first, second and third best goal of the month on Match of the Day.

2. 1998 World Cup. Long ball by Frank de Boer, Bergkamp controls it with one touch – dismissing the Argentine defender Ayala in the process – then smashes home.

3. March 2002. With his back to goal Bergkamp receives the ball from Pires, he sends the ball one way before he twists the other, rounds the dumbfounded Nikos Dabizas of Newcastle and slots the ball past Shay Given.

I remember watching the Newcastle game live on television. When Bergkamp did what he did my jaw dropped and hit off the ground – I only managed to get it back up last week. Yes, it was THAT good!

But just talking about Bergkamp’s goals is like just talking about Michael Jackson’s dancing. They are merely the icing on the proverbial cake. Michael Jackson was much more than an extremely talented dancer – he was a songwriter, a singer, an entertainer. Likewise Bergkamp was more than a goalscorer – he was the songwriter, singer and entertainer in our pack. Some of the passes he tried to play were ridiculous – to even think of attempting these passes was madness but it was crazy that he could actually carry them off. He created goals and found space for teammates like it was going out of fashion.

And for 11 years, ELEVEN YEARS it was Arsenal fans and Arsenal FC who benefited from his genius. It was US who got to watch him week in and week out while everyone else just wished they would have taken a punt on the man who nobody in Italy wanted. Nobody else got him after us either – we had all Bergkamp’s wonder to ourselves. So never, ever forget just how lucky we were to see that.

Dream of Puskas, Pele and Maradona, wonder now at Messi, Kaka and Torres but remember that once upon a time everyone else was doing the wishing. Dennis Bergkamp is the most technically gifted player to ever ply his trade in English football and he did so at the home of football. Some say his career was marred by the fact he wouldn’t fly and thus missed out on some vital European games. Well let me end this by asking you a simple question: would you fly if you could walk on water?


Gooners of 1995-2006, Never Forget How Lucky We Were!

June 15, 2010

Watching the World Cup always brings out the romantic in me. By that I mean it makes me think of the greats that I as a young one wasn’t around (and thus lucky enough) to see play. Those type of players who I feel are better than any that play nowadays.

A lot here could name them better than me, but I’ll throw out a few: Pele, Alfredo di Stefano, Zico, Bobby Charlton, Franz Beckenbauer, Liam Brady, Johnny Giles, Ferenc Puskas, Gianni Rivera, George Best and Teofilo Cubillas among others.

In my head, they are perhaps twice as good as they were on the field. I feel like I have missed out on something and the grainy footage that plays on my DVD player doesn’t do them justice. Last night after Germany demolished a static Australia, I sat down and instead of pining to “have seen Brady play at Highbury just once” I actually thought how lucky I was to have seen some of the players I have seen over the years.

I was born in 1986, got caught up in the football fever that swept Ireland during Italia 90 before becoming a Gooner in 1994. During that time I’ve seen some wonderful players: Maradona still had a bit left in his legs during the early 90s. There was that wonderful AC Milan team of Rossi, Baresi, Maldini, Rijkaard and Weah and the insane skills of Zidane, Raul, Ronaldinho and Ronaldo (the Brazilian one) in their prime.

At Arsenal we had some of our own players who were above others on the field. One stands head and shoulders above the rest – the Iceman, DB10!

Dennis Bergkamp’s arrival in London in 1995 saw the beginning of a new dawn at Arsenal as the club began to look to Europe for more talent. Some say that it was Wenger who gave the go-ahead for Bergkamp’s signature, others claim it was David Dein but lets give the credit to Bruce Rioch. He was manager, he was there when Bergkamp first held aloft the wonderful red and white.

The Dutchman came to us under a cloud. At the time he was the second most expensive signing in the world after Inter Milan paid Ajax £12million for his services in 1993. He flattered to deceive in Italy and just two years on arrived in North London for £7.5million. During the very early days, many claimed that Arsenal had wasted what was then a decent sum of money – now it is seen as one of the biggest bargains in football history.

It took Bergkamp seven games to score his first goal for the Gunners (against Southampton) and during this time he went through a tough transitional period, but then he got going, oh how he got going! He got going so much after that there was literally no stopping him.

In 423 games he scored 120 goals and I have enough confidence to say that NOT ONE of them were run of the mill tap-ins. Bergkamp didn’t do run of the mill, he did majestic, he did magical, he did genius. I have studied English Literature in college, read the greats like Byron, Keats, Shakespeare and Joyce, yet I still struggle to find a superlative to do justice to the Iceman. It seems utterly useless to even try now, so I’ll go through some of the goals he scored and you can try and put an adjective on them in your own head.

1. September 1997. His hat-trick against Leicester is voted as the first, second and third best goal of the month on Match of the Day.

2. 1998 World Cup. Long ball by Frank de Boer, Bergkamp controls it with one touch – dismissing the Argentine defender Ayala in the process – then smashes home.

3. March 2002. With his back to goal Bergkamp receives the ball from Pires, he sends the ball one way before he twists the other, rounds the dumbfounded Nikos Dabizas of Newcastle and slots the ball past Shay Given.

I remember watching the Newcastle game live on television. When Bergkamp did what he did my jaw dropped and hit off the ground – I only managed to get it back up last week. Yes, it was THAT good!

But just talking about Bergkamp’s goals is like just talking about Michael Jackson’s dancing. They are merely the icing on the proverbial cake. Michael Jackson was much more than an extremely talented dancer – he was a songwriter, a singer, an entertainer. Likewise Bergkamp was more than a goalscorer – he was the songwriter, singer and entertainer in our pack. Some of the passes he tried to play were ridiculous – to even think of attempting these passes was madness but it was crazy that he could actually carry them off. He created goals and found space for teammates like it was going out of fashion.

And for 11 years, ELEVEN YEARS it was Arsenal fans and Arsenal FC who benefited from his genius. It was US who got to watch him week in and week out while everyone else just wished they would have taken a punt on the man who nobody in Italy wanted. Nobody else got him after us either – we had all Bergkamp’s wonder to ourselves. So never, ever forget just how lucky we were to see that.

Dream of Puskas, Pele and Maradona, wonder now at Messi, Kaka and Torres but remember that once upon a time everyone else was doing the wishing. Dennis Bergkamp is the most technically gifted player to ever ply his trade in English football and he did so at the home of football. Some say his career was marred by the fact he wouldn’t fly and thus missed out on some vital European games. Well let me end this by asking you a simple question: would you fly if you could walk on water?


Could we be a stronger team if Cesc leaves?

June 14, 2010

Following Raddy’s article yesterday exposing the press reporting of ‘Arsenal’s behind the scenes dealing’ for the fanciful unsubstantiated speculation it undoubtedly is, I thought I’d be obtuse and join in with the speculation by putting myself in the shoes of a supporter who is prepared to believe some of the stronger rumours that are circulating.

Just for those who may read the headline but not the article, I am not suggesting that we would be stronger BECAUSE Cesc goes to Barca, just looking for the positives IF he does.

Here are some of the mooted changes in personnel at the start of next season if our worst fears are confirmed and Cesc leaves. FC Lorient and Fulham have both confirmed that Arsenal have made an enquiry about their players whereas the Joe Cole story is just a rumour that many are prepared to believe.

Out: Cesc, Gallas, Sol, Silvestre, Merida, Almunia (maybe not sold)

In: Chamakh (already signed), Koscielny, Schwarzer, Joe Cole

Would the balance of those changes make us a stronger team next season?

Starting from the back; even after conceding 4 goals last night, I think Schwarzer is better than Almunia. He’s not top top class but he would give Szczesny the couple of years he needs to grow into our first choice keeper. I’d send Fabianski out on loan to try to rebuild his confidence and keep Szczesny as our number two, maybe giving him the occassional start in the side.

Koscielny is an odd one. I don’t know that much about the player. Arsène is obviously very keen on him, so I suspect he will turn into a gem in the mould of Vermaelen and hopefully bed into the side as quickly. I think he could be better for us than Gallas in terms of motivation, freedom from injuries and aerial power in defence although he lacks experience. A lot rests on the continued fitness of Djourou as it is certain that one, or both of our CB’s will be lost to injury at some stage so we may have to rely on Song to fill in at the back at some stage.

A defensive midfielder to cover for Song is the player I feel we really need but will not acquire, so I hope that Eastmond gets a few first team games as he seems to be the player coming through who is best suited to the role.

OK, Joe Cole is not as good as Cesc, but he’s a clever player who is direct and creates chances for others. He can score goals and play anywhere across the midfield. He has a battling temperament and will give his all for the team. Cole would also allow us to rest Arshavin who I believe was playing with injuries for a lot of last season and struggled to come to terms with the physical demands of  the premiership. The arrival of Chamakh should mean that AA is never called upon again to play the lone striker role.

I fear we have relied too much on Cesc. He has been the focus of our play and this has created scenarios similar to Henry’s last season where players in possession of the ball were clearly looking for Cesc rather than making the quick pass to another available player.

Chamakh will give us a much greater physical presence up front.  He is strong, tall and he can head the ball. The only thing that worries me a little is whether he will be able to build a partnership with RvP (not that we will play 4:4:2), but he is a great link-up player and will be able to play wengerball.

With these changes, the spine of the team should be stronger – certainly at the top and the bottom. The loss of Cesc’s genius would be replaced by a potent attacking force in the final third with the inclusion of Chamakh and Cole. We should not forget Ramsey who I believe will become a fantastic player in our midfield. Diaby should show us more of the attacking brilliance that we witnessed in a run of games last season.  I expect Theo and Nasri to demonstrate their ambition by reacting positively to the disappointment of being left out of the world cup and put in meatier performances next season.

Obviously we will be a far stronger team if Cesc stays and we also add to the squad, but who can be sure that will happen? Consider what the acquisition of Koscielny, Cole and Schwarzer would bring to the team if Cesc leaves. I would expect either TV or RvP to be appointed captain and we would be addressing some of the areas of frailty in the current side.


Lies, Damned Lies

June 13, 2010

“It is understood” …. a euphemism for “the reserve team coach’s hairdresser’s boyfriend believes that…….. ” or even more likely “this reporter is stuck for a story line and has made this up ….”.

Summer transfer rumours drive me mad.  So much of what we read is pure fantasy, a product of a fertile imagination, the addition of two and two to make five. The examples are endless as seen by the rumoured transfer bar on this very site.

One may believe that these fabrications are innocent but they have a direct affect upon the poor saps who read  them, and the reason I am writing this post is because I am one of those poor saps. Today I read a lengthy article on our favourite subject this summer, the will he/won’t he go to Barca saga. In this article it stated that Arsenal were sick of dealing with Laporta and had started negotiations with the incoming Barca President (Rosell) with a view to selling Cesc next summer. My first thoughts were “OK, we get another season”, my second thoughts were “how has this journalist sourced this story?”. I re-read it. No quotes from any one involved, no statement from either club, much innuendo and one “it is understood.” Who understood?

Let us look at the Joe Cole story. Apparently it is almost certain he will be playing at the Emirates next season. Who says so? Admittedly there is some logic to it, the fact Cole is a good player on a free makes him an attractive target for our parsimonious manager, but we are well blessed in his chosen position (AA, TR, Vela) and are we likely to pay €100+k a week to him? Most probably these are stories placed in the press by Cole’s agent to alert other clubs to his availability, using the Arsenal name to strengthen their negotiations. But I am a pawn in their game. I go to work thinking  “How will Joe Cole fit into our current team? Who gets dropped? Where will Arshavin play if Joe signs? etc etc.” I can’t help myself!

May I take a paragraph of your time to go back in history?

Around 2500 years ago a Greek philosopher named Plato wrote  “The Republic”, in which he looked at the perception/nature of justice within the individual and the State (The Greek Republic). Based upon the teachings of Socrates, he notes that one’s viewpoint is dependent upon whether one is “inside or outside,” that is, whether one has direct knowledge (inside) or one’s knowledge is second hand (outside). His point being that unless one has direct knowledge there is always a tendency towards a skewed version of the facts, and that one bases one’s opinions and perceptions based this mis-truth.

We are definitely “Outsiders” and as such base our opinions upon the fallacies produced by journalists with questionable agendas. ( I must point out that The Republic is a treatise on happiness and justice and I have used a small section of the book to make my point! ).

As I wrote in a comment a couple of weeks ago. “Until you see Mr. Wenger smiling at the camera with his shiny new player holding an Arsenal shirt, it is just bulls**t”

On a serious note, I ask myself this – “If the back pages are full of lies and fantasy, is it likely that the front pages are equally fanciful?” Now that is a frightening prospect


South Africa 2010 Will Not Be The Send Off OUR Thierry Henry Deserves

June 12, 2010

SCREW YOU BARCELONA! SCREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEW YOU!

Ahhhhhhhh I’ve just wanted to say that for some weeks. What a proper pain in the arse they are – first they buy Overmars, Petit, then Henry, then the ice-cream man and now they want Cesc. Stop trying to be us!!

Cesc should know better than want off to Spain – okay you might win a medal or two but your personal career could slump, just ask Hleb or indeed Thierry Henry.

We are all upset that Titi decided to up ship and move to Barcelona in 2007, he should have been Bergkamp MKII, the guy who ended his career in North London. Henry moved on for a meager amount but honestly you know it and I know it, he was never the same Henry.

Rumours abound that Henry failed his medical at Barcelona but they signed him regardless albeit for a far lower price for a player who had been the best in the world (although never recognized) for the previous couple of seasons. Just as when PV04 left, Wenger knew parts of Henry’s body was broken – we had got his best years.

Never at Barcelona have we really seen the Henry that electrified Highbury, the EPL, Europe, the world. The sad thing is, Henry may well not get the send off he deserves either – his career has seemed to just peter out, fading away to be replaced by memories.

Henry’s problem comes in the way he plays the game. Bergkamp, Cantona, Zidane could all go out on a high because their bodies let them. Their game was based on being five seconds ahead of everyone else – Henry’s is based on GETTING THERE five seconds ahead of everyone else. So while Bergkamp could play the game in his head, Henry had to play it with his body and now his body is broken.

Sadly, Henry knows this better than anyone else. Why else would he feel the need to handle the ball twice against Ireland in the World Cup qualifier? The REAL Henry would have stretched out those never ending legs of his, nipped the ball back into his body and stuck it into the net. But not this time, this time he couldn’t – he had to cheat to help his country.

Now, this isn’t a whine. Yes, I’m still upset that the Rep.Ireland lost out but my anger is not aimed at Henry (though it was at the time) my anger is aimed at the idiot that calls himself the French manager and the muppets at FIFA and UEFA who chose to overlook what Henry did saying they couldn’t challenge the referee’s decision – funny how they felt differently when it came to Eduardo’s “dive” against Celtic isn’t it?

What is most upsetting is not what Henry did, or who he did it against, its most upsetting that he had to do it. Besides, while it was a sly handball we all know only one man can handball in a match and I’m going to leave it to my man Kanye West to say it best:

*NOTE

So now its World Cup time and it could be a ignominious end for the great man. Commentators and critics won’t let him forget the handball. The Captain’s armband has gone to the ever unlikable Patrice Evra while Henry has been dropped to the bench in favour of Nicholas Anelka.

France have a good side, a side capable of beating anyone on their day – but they have a dreadful excuse for a manager who I once heard couldn’t manage his way out of a paper bag. They might get through their group but despite it being easy on paper I’d not be so sure.

Nasri is already sure of a long summer while Diaby, Sagna, Clichy and Gallas could have an extended one too. Its said that Henry is off to New York after the tournament – his sitting on the bench while Jeffran came on against Inter Milan suggests this is true – the death knell to any hopes of a good send-off.

Henry’s career might end quietly but lets make sure its always remembered. Screw the handball and screw Barcelona – lets remember and make sure the world remembers the goals against Manchester United, Spurs and Real Madrid. Lets make sure the world remembers the Henry stare after he scored a goal. Lets makes sure the world remembers that for three seasons he was the best player to grace a football field because from Arsenal fans, that’s the very least Thierry Henry deserves.

*NOTE: If you don’t get the picture check out “VMA, Kanye West, Taylor Swift” on youtube.


Samba de Denilson

June 11, 2010

If there is one player who divides the Gooners it is Denilson. A young man in whom Mr Wenger continues to have faith in whilst the vast majority see nothing above the ordinary. Why?

Some history. Denilson was born in the poverty stricken favelas of Sao Paolo, raised by his father – his mother dying when he was 10. Footballing ability kept him out of the drug gangs though many of his contempararies died in street gun battles. This is a tough kid. He came to Arsenal on the back of fine performances for Sao Paolo in the Copa Libertadores, as an 18 y.o. reserve team player the fee of £3.4m appears very generous to say the least. Arriving at Arsenal with no English, he must have been terribly homesick and fearful. Denilson seems to be a very shy lad and has consequently struggled to establish his persona on the team.

Denilson has played over 100 games for Arsenal which comes as some surprise. In fact he scored on his 100th appearance – the cracker against Standard Liege. He would seem to be an integral member of Wenger’s squad and as such it is interesting to analyse his input, because many do not see how he improves the team.

AW says of Denilson that he is a cross between Rosicky and Gilberto Silva. He can play “the Invisible Wall”, and be creative. He certainly has a powerful and accurate shot. It is often pointed out that statistically Denilson is one of the most efficient midfielders in the PL, his pass completion is excellent, he is one of the most succesful tacklers and his pitch coverage is also very good – though it is in this area that Denilson has come under the most scrutiny. That the referee beat his trackback for the Rooney goal at THOF last season opened him up to damning condemnation, this was proof of Denilson’s laziness and lack of application. Poppycock. Lack of concentration – certainly, rank poor defending – definitely, but laziness? Not in my opinion. Denilson is one of the hardest working players in the PL ….. and his stats prove it 😉

Of course people say his excellent pass completion is due to him passing sideways and delivering short balls to Cesc or Nasri/Diaby. Well, that is his game and what he is paid to do, Cesc has better vision and part of Denilson’s job is to get the ball to his Captain as often as possible and as quickly as possible.

Our no.15 scored 5 goals in 25 appearances last season and all were from outside the box. Surely this is evidence of his value to the team, for aside from RvP, who else shoots?

What Denilson lacks is the ability to impose himself upon the game, his slight physique is a major negative compared to Song, and he hasn’t huge pace. Nonetheless, he is a fine tackler and it should be recalled that he at just 22 y.o.  he is very young for a DM. Plus he has suffered with back injuries over the past 2 seasons which have hindered his development.

I am not suggesting that Denilson is the answer to our DM problems, but he is a fine back-up and will hopefully continue to develop. He was our 6th highest scorer from only half a season’s games and that from a deep lying position. Furthermore he will surely learn to concentrate for 90+ minutes after his MU humiliation.

As to his future at Arsenal there must be some doubt. The purchase and initial development of Ramsey will caste a shadow upon Denilson’s future. Ramsey (assuming a full return to fitness) is a wonderful prospect and sure to be an integral member of the first 11. He has what Denilson lacks – visibility – you know when Ramsey is on the pitch, whereas Denilson like Silva is “invisible.” Will Denilson accept a bench role?

I see a fine player in the making but a player in the wrong League. Sadly for Denilson, he is too lightweight for his position in the team and Song has proved this. I would keep him for another couple of seasons to see if he bulks up, and to shepherd in the arrival of Ramsey. Then sell him to Spain where I would expect him to have a fine career.


Cesc Has Done Nothing To Be Ashamed Of.

June 10, 2010

I am getting more and more alarmed by a growing number of Arsenal supporters turning up on blogs and leaving hateful comments about Cesc.

“Fabrégas is just a money grabbing wannaway. Sell him now and get some players in who appreciate what wearing the Arsenal shirt means!!”  (JSP)

Has Cesc ever said that he wants to leave? No, is the answer to that question and more pertinent he has never said he wants to leave to play for Barcelona; that being the case, he has done nothing to be ashamed of in my opinion and I for one would welcome him back with open arms.

GnarlyGeorge9 suggested that there is no smoke without fire. This is often the case but it is worth remembering that it was two muck raking journalists Guillem Balague and Graham Hunter based in Spain who lit the match and our very own manc loving media fanned the flames along with a few blogs whose principle writers claim to support Arsenal. Cesc has never said he wants to leave.

This should not be confused with the answer he gave to the question posed by a sneaky journalist while being interviewed in his home town Arenys (on the coast, about twenty miles north of Barcelona), which went: “Where would you like to play after Arsenal?”, now as I said this was in his home town, which is as pro Barcelona FC as the Holloway Road is pro Arsenal on a Saturday afternoon; he answered sheepishly “to Barcelona”. But as I said this is not the same as saying that he wants to leave.

If you think about it Cesc’s position is far more difficult than first meets the eye because he cannot be sure that Arsenal will not sell him if the price is right and that possibility is incredibly important when assessing the rights and wrongs of this situation.

We all know that when it comes to selling a player every club has their price, a fact that both Cesc and his agent, David Dein’s son, are well aware of; they are also equally aware that Barcelona are capable of making an offer that Arsenal cannot refuse. So, let’s not kid ourselves, if the price were right Arsenal would sell him. As to the amount, my guess would be seventy million pounds.

This being the case it is impossible for Cesc to simply come out and say that he wants to stay at Arsenal and see out the rest of his contract. The problem with making that statement is that if Arsenal subsequently choose to sell him the Barcelona fans will think of him as a player who didn’t really want to join them which I am sure you would agree would not be the best way for any player to endear himself to a new set of fans.

The only thing that Fabrégas has said on this subject is that he wants to focus on the World Cup and that he is leaving his future in the hands of Arsène Wenger. Now this is where the fact of having David Dein’s son as an agent pays dividends. There is no doubt in my mind that this statement was arranged in conjunction with someone who really understands Arsenal.

Here’s my long shot: Barcelona are not serious about this signing; they were forced into it by the muck raking journalists and only out of shame have they made the derisory offer of 35 mill. My hope is when the incumbent president Joan Laporta leaves at the end of this month and Sandro Rosell arrives that he very quickly makes clear that it is not his intention to pursue this signing. With that being established, I then expect Cesc to be presented to us by the club as the biggest summer signing – something that as a season ticket holder would make me very happy.

Not convinced — Barcelona really want him I hear you say, well do they?

Much has been made about how we stole him from under their noses with offers of houses for family members here in London and reassurances of first team football but if that was all it took I see no reason why Barcelona couldn’t have made the same offers — and a whole lot more for that matter; I mean, there has never been any doubt who he and his family support so what would it take for you to give up an opportunity to play for Arsenal?

Cesc was not wanted by Barcelona then and while this laughable offer of 35 mill is on the table (and it is) I am not convinced he is wanted now, something that will not be lost on Cesc himself.

It is off course possible that Barcelona could increase their offer to 70 mill a figure as I said that Arsenal would not be able to refuse, a figure that would force Cesc to ride off into the sunset, not a happy scenario but one that raises the question:  would that then make Fabrégas the bad guy? Not to me it wouldn’t.

By London