In Praise of the World Cup

July 11, 2010

Has the WC really been that bad? Germany have been a revelation. A young side playing skilful, organised football and scoring lots of goals along the way.

Argentina burned brightly and, like a supernova, collapsed in on themselves.

The tiny nation of Uruguay (population half of London) got to their first semi final in 50 years through a mixture of skill and cheating.

Others have done well. The finalists of course have risen to the occasion once in a while, though hopefully will do better tomorrow. New Zealand, bizarrely but heroically, managed to leave underrated and above Italy. Ghana flew the flag for Africa, though the others from the host continent were disappointing.

Even the failures have contributed to the drama, coming as they did from the over proud ranks of traditionally strong nations: Italy of course, England having to face the realities of their limitations and most spectacularly and absurdly, France. Never has a tournament shown the value of team play, of the collective over the individual. To me, that’s a good thing.

There have been refereeing errors but fewer than usual. The Lampard “goal” was even good as a means to show once and for all that change is needed.

As for the hosts, I’ve loved the vuvuzelas – South Africans love football, and they’ve shown their passion even after their side (the poorest South African side for years, unfortunately) was eliminated. From the outside, it’s very easy to think sport there is about rugby and cricket, but football is the true passion of the masses. There’s not much I agree with Sepp Blatter on, but the vuvuzela is a distinctly local feature, and I’m pleased of it.

The WC 2010 hasn’t been as good as some (1998, 1986, 2006 etc) but it’s been better than others (1994, 2002). But it is fair to say it’s not been great for Arsenal – those there haven’t performed especially well, several others weren’t even there. And then there’s been the farce of tapping up Cesc.

But overall, I’ve been pretty happy with the WC.

Written by 26may1989

Its not over, its just begun ……..

July 10, 2010

As the World Cup draws to a close I find myself thinking how much of a disappointment its been as a competition. It reaches its climax this weekend, with only one certainty, that there will be a new name on the trophy.

Holland v Spain means that Arsenal fans can take their pick whom to support with one of our players in either squad.  RvP is certain to start – barring an injury –  but Cesc has not started a game so far, although he has contributed briefly  as a substitute a couple of times.  That system has got Spain to the final so I doubt it will change.

But what a strange World Cup it has been, performed in stadium’s sounding as though they were full of swarming bees as the vuvuzelas droned continuously to what the commentators disingenuously called the beat of Africa.  I have heard nothing like it in several visits to that beautiful continent and I fear, had I been there this time, I would have lost patience and done something naughty.

The big stars didn’t turn up, Messi, Rooney, Ronaldo where were they, were they playing? Had they played too much? Was there too much pressure? Were they bored? Something tells me there will be the mother and father of enquiries as to why and what went wrong, immediately the final whistle blows.

No doubt it will include the need for more help for officials, overwhelmed by a game now so fast as to be beyond the power of any referee or assistant to keep up, as emphasised by the England goal that wasn’t. Big changes in that department will certainly happen, whether it is Mr Blatter’s extra guys behind the goal or technology or a mixture of both we will have to wait to see

Goalkeepers: have you ever seen so many goalkeeping errors in a single tournament? Was it the thin air of altitude or the ball maybe? I suspect just rank bad goalkeeping is nearer the mark. Whatever the reason, which keeper would you advise Arsene if asked, to sell the crown jewels to buy? Did any really impress?

The Arsenal players have not covered themselves with glory either and with the exception of the two named above have all seen their sides fail to impress and are off for early holidays. Lets hope we see some benefit from that.

In the case of the French the failure was spectacular, another suitable case for Mr Blatter, and his French friend, Michel Plattini to launch an enquiry into. Bit near home for Michel that one and the repercussions should be fascinating.  I wonder if that had been England what they would have done.

For me the dark side of the whole affair has been the despicable ‘Barça sideshow’ choreographed to unsettle Cesc. My biggest disappointment is the way so many Arsenal fans have bought into it. Given Barça’s proud record in recent years with Arsenal players, I would have thought we would just have called a  ‘plague on all their houses’ and got on with our lives instead of fuelling the fires of discontent and doing the Spaniards work for them.

The most recent comments from Cesc and Xavi in relation to the World Cup and returning home to their respective teams suggest that ‘the battle for Cesc’ is over for this summer at least.

So, on Sunday I will watch the game knowing no matter who wins it’s Barnet at the end of the week, Arsène will be back to add a couple more signings and then the real stuff is soon under way.

Its going to be a Gooner year.

I can’t wait.

Written by dandan

The Barcelona Inquisition,take a tip Cesc and stay with the ones who love you.

July 9, 2010

Day after day there are alleged reports that one by one the Barcelona players have been speaking to Cesc, pleading with him to return home to his roots, yet little or nothing is being published that he might not even get paid initially,let alone played, as quite frankly, Barcelona are in a real mess financially.

The latest report is that the new president of Barcelona,  Sandro Rossell, is travelling to South Africa to meet Arsène Wenger in what is being viewed as a “make or break bid”. Reports suggest that if they cannot reach an agreement with Wenger this weekend, the Catalan club are likely to turn their attentions elsewhere to bolster their squad. That in itself shows me that they are clutching at straws. Quite simply Barca don’t have the funds and in layman’s terms I will try and explain the complex issues surrounding the club.

As of June this year their total debt is 518 million euros, which included “irregularities” of 57 million from the 1990’s, yet they still have made pre tax profits for the last three years.

Their problem is one of cash flow, and hence they have borrowed 150m euros to pay short term payables such as hefty bonuses to the players  but they will need to continue to sell players before they can even think of putting in a substantial offer for a player such as Fabregas. The main issue revolves around the problems at Mediapro, who are seeking bankruptcy protection. The problems at Mediapro, who manage the tv rights for La Liga clubs, are a knock-on effect from problems at the suppliers of cable tv in Spain.  Strangely, Barcelona appear to have a different deal with Mediapro to Real Madrid with only verbal payment guarantees. If one adds to that the fact that players did not get paid in June, how dare they even try and attempt to belittle our club with a meagre offer for one of the best young players in Europe.

The promises by  media companies to be able to pay out large sums to football clubs and their inability to do so in the current climate are surely going to have an affect on football finances world-wide.

If you want to read more about Mediapro click here

In addition have a look at the source below to see Rossell’s reported take on Arsenals behaviour

Cesc, you are being conned, forget Barcelona and concentrate your efforts on a club steeped in history that wants you to be part of the exciting times ahead.We have seen you grow from a youngster to a world class player these last seven years, and if, and it’s a big if you leave us now, you may just regret it.

Written by kelsey

Goodbye Silvestre, Gallas and Campbell – Boy Wonder Number 10.

July 8, 2010

Its getting exciting now – you know the season is impending when people are making travel arrangements for our annual trip to Barnet.

This week, put up the pictures of those of the first team not on international duty who came back for some fitness work. It was nice to see Kieran Gibbs back in training, and word is Aaron Ramsey is back running without any trouble. Our latest recruit Maroune Chamakh seems to have a new BFF in Samir Nasri.

Laurent Koscielny is an Arsenal player. To all those who think he can’t be up to much because he comes from the second tier of French football, consider this; Arsenal is notoriously frugal in its spending and yet we’ve lashed out £8.5m for him (reportedly) when FC Lorient only paid £1.5m a year earlier – he’s going to be some player believe me.

While having a look around the site, I had a look at our lovely new kit again – only problem is the large sponsorship font, but beggars and choosers and all that… Anyways, I went into the online shopping section and happened upon something very interesting.

It seems all the ifs and buts are answered. William Gallas, Mikael Silvestre and Sol Campbell would appear to be no longer Arsenal players. In the drop down section that allows you to select a personalised name and number, the options of Campbell, Silvestre and Campbell are no longer available. (Oddly you can still get Gilbert on your shirt – two things, WHY? and he was released last week, memo mustn’t have gone out). I doubt this is because of uncertainty over their contracts, it must be because they are going and honestly none of the three are a shock.

Silvestre no-body will cry over. Campbell was always bound to go wherever he could get a nice signing-on fee (sorry Peaches) and while Gallas has been a good player for us overall, he’s become increasingly injury prone. What is key here, is that all three are CBs. Its a broken record by now, but signing Koscielny won’t be enough. Vermaelen is now our only tried and trusted CB, Djourou is largely untested and coming back from a long lay-off. We don’t know what Koscielny is like, and I won’t sit here and judge before I see just because I’ve not heard of him. Alex Song can play there but he is needed in midfield, so Wenger must be looking at, at least one more defensive signing – none of the youth’s look ready to come up and its far too risky to chance it. Wenger must know this by now.

Aside from Silvestre’s, Campbell’s and Gallas’ numbers being unavailable (at least in the drop down menu) its also worth noting that Robin van Persie has applied to have his number changed for next season. As Arshavin hasn’t applied (he being the other option) I expect the boy wonder to drop down a number next season and become number 10. Bergkamp is his hero and how nice that he can wear the same number at the same club as his hero once did.

That is unless Cesc is leaving and the number is for a new play-maker but all things considered, its going to Robin – why else apply for a change of number?

World Cup is coming to an end and Barnet is just around the corner – new look Arsenal is beginning to take shape, I hope!

Arsenal Sign £30m Star – should have gone to Speculation Savers!

July 7, 2010

Not much has changed since I last tried to reign in the excesses of those supporters who denigrate our club because we have failed to sign Messi (OK I exaggerate – but they started it).

We had a seemingly well informed blogger (Dudulino) on yesterday who claims to have met Koscielny at the training ground. Apparently he will wear squad number 6. The announcement of his arrival will be made with full fanfare on AW’s return from the World Cup – I believe Dudulino, it is totally in line with the way the club is being run now and for the foreseeable future.

Shock Headline from The Sun “Arsenal eye £40m swoop for Italian Stars” – calm down dear, it’s only a commercial …… to attract readers to a gutter newspaper!

Let me put everyone’s mind at rest. We aren’t going to sign any £30m players – but that’s OK, we’ll still be the Arsenal. We are just a couple of years ahead of the way every other club is going to have to operate. For some (pool) that change may come too late.

In the same way as we showed the Premiership how to play football and introduced new training techniques at the start of Wenger’s era, so we are now showing them how a club MUST be run to ensure survival. Most Premiership clubs can only dream of having a stadium like the Emirates, let alone achieve it with manageable debt.

I am optimistic that Schwarzer is already on his way and we will sign a big right sided central defender – Mertesacker will do nicely. I’m not bothered about Joe Cole, we have players as good as him already. I think a player like Mertesacker could be the last piece in the jigsaw for next season and would raise the intriguing prospect of Vermaelen or Djourou being advanced into the defensive midfield role. We have been linked with Ozil for £20m today (yawn), obviously that would only be a possibility if Cesc leaves.

I’m no saint when it comes to my wish list. I’d love us to sign Torres, but more than that, I want us to continue on this path because I wouldn’t risk the stability of the club for anything, if we did, all the hard work of the last 5 years would be wasted.

I hope my light hearted approach (or should that be reproach?) hasn’t upset any of those who crave signings at any price. We are all gooners after all and even those of you who are foaming at the mouth due to our lack of transfer activity will keep supporting the Arsenal come what may.

Written by Rasp

So, where is Koscielny?

July 6, 2010

The media are having a great time thrashing the Arsenal this morning. Reports that Merida couldn’t wait to get out the door and Nasri didn’t want to come,  coupled with more taunts from the Spanish camp that Cesc has his Barcelona shirt ironed and ready to go have left me feeling more than a little despondant. So, where is Koscielny? The start of the season is almost a month away and we seem to have only two centre-backs to get going with.

With no new good news I started to think about who would run out for the Barnet game. In ten days time I shall be there watching an Arsenal team kick uphill for the first half and downhill for the second half. Yes, it really is like that and there are back gardens that abutt one of the goal lines. Last years game saw the re-introduction of Rosicky as a first-team player and he captained the side in the first half. He looked really good and I was thrilled for him that his strange collection of injuries had been sorted out.

Who will we see to be delighted and enthusiastic about? The first half is usually a mix of first teamers and reserves and then the second half just reserves or whatever they’re going to call them now as we’re not part of the Reserves league. I expect Keiran Gibbs to play and he should get a huge cheer maybe Aaron Ramsey will be there too.  Hopefully, players like Tom Cruise and  Kyle Bartley, who seem to have been around for ever, will  be given the chance to break into the first team if they’re good enough.

Tonight sees Holland hoping to book their place in the World Cup Final. Robin van Persie, along with other Premiership stars, hasn’t set the tournament alight but maybe he’s just waiting for tonight – you know the way we always think that ‘this free kick is definitely going to go in’. My Arsenal heart is with you Robin ……..and tomorrow it will be with Cesc…………just don’t get injured.

It would be nice if the media left us alone for a few days, if players that had departed just said thanks for having me – I had a really great time, sorry it didn’t work out. There is always the future. We are a great club and we will have a great 2010/11 season and its not too far away.

Should we worry about hurting player’s feelings?

July 5, 2010

Footballers are idolised by millions, whether simply as a faceless body wearing the colours, or as a star player worshipped in his own right. Some would say that the money they get paid means they belong to the public or supporters and as such we can say and do what we like, but I wonder what they think as human beings.

I’ve commented on sites and torn pieces out of players because they have not lived up to my exacting standards and I am far from the most malicious in my approach.  I know that the very worst of professional footballers must still be truly gifted and would make the average bloke look stupid yet I yell at the screen as though he’s some sort of deviant. As I write this I’m not absolutely sure where it’s going but I have been reading so many negative comments about players during the summer and it made me think of things from a different angle.

A professional footballer in the EPL probably earns between 20 and 120K a week so in that sense deserves no sympathy from the normal man in the street who struggles to pay his way whilst also finding funds to watch said “star” perform……However as a person has he asked for our money, our support, our allegiance ?

Players are not naive and obviously know what to expect but do they really deserve to be treated the way they are sometimes? Only a couple of days ago I wrote a short piece highlighting just how easy the job is and I wouldn’t dream of suggesting that these boys have a difficult life but it’s the hand they were dealt and are they not just making the most of their given talent ?

I think of players within our squad who have been ripped to shreds in this column alone for their individual performances over the season and wonder if they ever drop in on sites like this and see themselves slagged off by their “fans”. Just imagine for a second that as a young man you fulfilled your dream of playing in goal for the Arsenal, things didn’t go well, but the manager gave you another go and still it didn’t go well…. you logged onto a fan chat site and everyone was slagging you off. Would this fill you with the confidence to go out and show the world what you’ve got?

I suppose footballers are celebrities and like it or not you must accept both good and bad critics but put yourself in their shoes, did a young man who has worked from the age of 8 or 9 to get to the pinnacle of his career really just throw it all away deliberately in a mad moment or was it just a mistake? I don’t wish to defend or condemn individuals but merely wonder what its like on the other side.

I, like everyone, want the team to be all that it can be. Just for a second imagine if a young player who had a bad game were to look at a site such as this and see tens, hundreds or even thousands of messages of support instead of condemnation, I wonder what a difference that would make ?

Written by andy


No Longer The Wonder Of You?

July 3, 2010

Written by BigRaddy

We need a new song to run out to. We have done ever since we moved to the Emirates, in fact I would guess that we have been a much less successful team since the powers that be adopted TWOY (the wonder of you). My guess is that less than 10% of Gooners and none of the team are aroused by this poor example of the King’s work, and surely that is the point of it.

I am imagining the meeting when the new song is chosen ……..

P. Hill Wood would have rejected out of hand anything from the past 20 years. I think he would have chosen a tune with a classical bent, not too highbrow. something traditional with an English theme, Jerusalem would be my bet. And it would be better than what we have at present. 60,000 people singing “And did these feet in ancient times walk upon England’s mountain green” etc. Stirring stuff I feel, though hardly representative of our current squad.

Fizman from the looks of him is more a prog rock. He would be a fan of Free and the driving guitar riff Alright Now could work as could Stone Cold Sober by The Faces, but I see him going for the perennial classic ELP’s Fanfare for the Common Man, a reliable but well trodden path

Gazidis being American would probably look into the great Motown back catalogue and I think he could vote for Martha and the Vandella’s Dancing in the Streets, though perhaps having a blue collar background he would be a Bruce Springsteen man. So the chorus of Born to Run would be my guess for his choice, which would get voted out by the rest of the Board who are unlikely to be Bruce fans.

Mr Wenger is a difficult one. I imagine that he has a cabinet full of Diana Krall CD’s with a few Mozart String Quartets, a bunch of Bach, and the first 3 Sade albums with which to enjoy his red wine . He may well have some early punk/New Wave as well, so a Jam number could fit him – Going Underground or Eton Rifles (actually that works for PHW!), but on reflection he will be aware of the great Arsenal tradition and go with Good Old Arsenal.

Pat Rice would of course suggest some traditional Irish folk. The Scousers having taken the wonderful Fields of Athenry, he could do worse than raid the Dubliners back catalogue and choose The Wild Rover which has the advantage of a clapping chorus. Simple and rousing.

Lady Nina is sure to be a Metalhead. I see her as a huge fan of Metallica and as such The Sandman is an obvious choice, but she would also love the classic metal sound of AC/DC and as such my bet is that she would go for Hell’s Bells or Highway to Hell, both of which in my opinion would be great choices.

As Captain Cesc would have some input, and I think he would check out other sports to see what works…. I recall him going to Twickenham during one of his injury breaks to watch a Calcutta match between England and Scotland. He was sure to have been impressed by the Swing Low Sweet Chariot echoing from the stands and I think he will suggest trying it at THOF. Failing that, he may go for a jumping song like I predict a Riot by the Kaiser Chiefs.

Whatever is chosen, as long as we get rid of TWOY it will be progress. We have suffered this dirge for long enough.

My choice? I go with Lady Nina………..

N.B. This article is tongue in cheek and I have no knowledge whatsoever of our Board’s musical tastes. Fun to imagine though!


July 2, 2010

One of the stated aims of this site is to offer an opportunity for Arsenal fans of all persuasions to air their views on ‘everything Arsenal’ and to stimulate healthy debate. Today’s post is written by a dedicated Arsenal fan who has never blogged before but wanted to share his thoughts with other supporters.

I have supported Arsenal for over half a century (although I don’t really see myself as old). My recent feelings have been that too much of Arsenal’s dirty washing is being hung out in public. The wild “news”, inventions and speculation by the tabloid press have done much to unsettle fans and force irrational views into the heads of the more gullible fans.

If I were to ask me how a keen follower of Arsenal football team might enhance their experience, I would suggest that they throw away their Sun, Mirror, Mail, Star and Express. Trust in the Boss, he has already worked wonders with limited resources and HE DOES WANT TO WIN TROPHIES as vindication of his methods.

Sure, he makes the odd mistake but I think that, even now, he is learning to be more flexible: Be PATIENT – our team’s quality will come through. Only injuries prevented Arsenal from winning the Premiership last season. If we can rotate the squad more readily to take the pressure off of some of our more inspired players, then maybe there will be fewer injuries to hamper our progress.

If new players are to be brought in, bearing in mind the need to use the full squad, I would say that we do not need many. I would like to see Diakhate brought in also, possibly, Van de Wiel. I would also think it wise to sign Schwarzer to buy some time for Mannone & Szczesny to mature and to enable the sale of (at least) one of the current senior pair.

I should also like to investigate the availability of Kjaer as a utility centre-back come full-back and (this one should put the cat among the pigeons) Matthieu Flamini to strengthen the midfield. I think that if the club could persuade Matthieu to return, either permanently or on loan, then Chelski, Manchester Untied, Manchester Citeh and Tottingham Hotshots would all be fighting for the runners-up spot and Arsenal would be winners of all competitions.

Arsenal would be world beaters!

Written by Greybeard

Transitions & Resolutions – from Highbury to Ashburton Grove

July 1, 2010

Written by charybdis1966

“Where are the big signings?” is a cry Gooners are used to hearing or making this time of year, usually followed by “Didn’t we move to our new stadium so we could compete for the marquee signings?”

Times have moved on somewhat for our club, it’s first ever game, as Dial Square, in December 1886(against Eastern Wanderers, to be historically complete) was on a piece of wasteland on the Isle of Dogs thereafter till 1913 we played in various locations around the Plumstead Common area of South East London. As our delightful Spud brethren never tire of calling us Woolwich Wanderers our South London heritage is undeniable, but the move north of the river to Highbury in 1913, due to poor transport links at the time in south London was to allow more spectators to be able to attend our matches. The land south of the river is softer and therefore more difficult to build on, and make tunnels in for the underground tube system that was being rolled out at the time. Hence the tube until recently did not progress far beyond New Cross in south east London.

The subsequent move ninety-three years later to the Grove was essentially for the same reason – to get more bums on seats. As the time to leave Highbury approached the natural reaction was of sorrow at leaving the old place. Yes, it was antiquated, yes it patently had seats, corridors and passages designed for the smaller sized turn-of-the 20th century-sized spectator however there was dolefulness about many a Gooner as the 2005-06 season came to a close.

I remember leaving my place of work at the time during the last few seasons at Highbury in Blackstock Road many a lunch time to join the queue for the box offices in the East Stand where I would be served by bored, disinterested ticket clerks, slumped behind the windows. (You can compare this to the staff at the  Armoury who are aware of at least the basics of customer care, while some of the surliness of old seems to remain at club shop at Finsbury Park tube station).

The closeness of the crowd to the players was an important part of the intimacy of Highbury, I recall seeing Bobby Pires standing just eight feet from me when I had a front row seat for a Coca Cola Cup game – I’m sure I got a few flicks of sweat from his floppy fringe as he swivelled his head one way and the other looking for a player to launch his throw in at.

It was experiences like this, although nothing special in themselves though collectively able to mould our memories of Highbury, that many would fear losing as we contemplated the move. I would plot out the actual move in my mind: leave my seat in the East lower, left turn out of the East Stand gates, left again into Gillespie Road and then follow the bend of the road to the left, past the small park to our new home.

A wise man once said “Life is all about learning to let go, of those dear to you especially” that can also apply to places dear to you and who among us didn’t feel a sympathy to the mood conveyed by those images of our players walking west down Gillespie Road as part of the “Final Salute” campaign directed by AFC?

We’ve all been left speechless by our first impressions of Ashburton Grove even though it initially had an antiseptic feel that took a while to become accustomed to and slowly it’s character is starting to form, of course a trophy winning team will add to that character pretty much instantly.

Four seasons on and it seems that the cash flow situation that has hampered our actions in the transfer market may finally be easing and one would think today we will start to see the events of this transfer window start to unravel differently to those of the last five or six as many players contracts typically expire on the last day of June.

To my mind, the club is at a critical juncture and were there to be a sense of deja-vu about the events of this month and the next transfer wise, i.e. acting like a small time club rather than the elite club we aspire to be, I fear we may struggle to convince ourselves we left Highbury for the right reasons.

New Home Kit (Finally A Beaut!)

(Hope you don’t mind I putting up the pics Chary, Irishgunner).