Blackpool Rocks….- written by BigRaddy

August 21, 2010

Written by BigRaddy

It seems an age since we thrashed Fulham on a bright sunny day at the Emirates. The first home game of the season always creates a frisson of emotions; the excitement of the resumption of  pre-match customs. The meeting with your football mates (those people with whom one has shared so many highs and lows and yet have little to do with our non-Arsenal lives). The road beer as you leave the pub full of positivity and bonhomie for the stroll to the ground. The mounting excitement as one walks the familiar streets of Islington taking the lucky route to the Emirates. The first sight of the season of the magnificent  and ever impressive stadium. Not the homely , welcoming  and stately sight of Highbury nestling on the side of the hill, but the Emirates, a reflection of the new stature of our club – stand-offish, modern, imposing powerful, and above all else Big.

Through the turnstiles and into the ground climbing those dull concrete stairs to the concourse. Another beer and then up the steps for the season’s first view of the pitch. The imagination soars. For me, this is the finest view in the whole world – you can keep the Taj Mahal, the Grand Canyon, The Barrier Reef – the view from the terrace entrance is imbued with such emotion and awe that nothing can beat it.

On to today’s game. It feels like Same Same but Different. Same injury problems, same transfer frustrations, same criticism of GK’s and defence, but some different personnel. Chamakh’ s first game will I am sure bring him a goal and the start of a fruitfull career at THOF. He looks an excellent signing. The same can  be said for Koscielny who sadly (thanks to an awful refereeing decision) is unavailable today.

Who will play?

Doubts surround the fitness of Djourou, Song, Diaby, Arshavin and Cesc, so my prediction is almost certainly wrong!

Blackpool arrive having had an astonishing win at Wigan – perhaps one of the most surprising first day results in many years. Without exception, all the pundits have predicted relegation and an embarrassing campaign for the Tangerines. Having excelled themselves in the run to the play-off’s and then excited us with their attacking, adventurous style, they are surely doomed when playing PL opposition, but last week’s result may be an indicator of an unexpected resolve. Today will be a big test for them.

According to some sources Blackpool is so named because a drainage ditch emptied from a peat bog into the sea creating a black pool of effluent (really!!) at this point on the Lancashire coast (coincidentaly Dublin is Irish for black pool).

Chris Lowe (Pet Shop Boys) hails from Blackpool (as do Jethro Tull, one of the finest bands of all time), and as everyone knows Chris is a season ticket holder at The Arsenal and a proper Gooner – well played that man.

A convincing win today and a chance for the strikers to fill their boots!


Exploited gooners – the final fanshare straw? – written by charybdis1966

August 20, 2010

Written by charybdis1966

As the transfer window nears its end and we all sit and fret about who will be sauntering through the “in” door to supplement our rapidly diminishing squad are we unique in thinking we suffer especially during this time of the year?
Our transfers seem to be such protracted and painful transactions compared to other clubs, or so it seems to your humble scribe, as well as a significant proportion of the Gooner fan base at large.

Maybe it just seems this way because we cannot be objective when we look at our own transfers however the deciding factor in a majority of our transfers appears to be a relatively minor percentage of the transfer fee, as seems to be the case currently with Schwarzer. Of course a number of us will, and perhaps rightly so, say that we will never know the detail of the negotiations, yet it appears to have been the case so often in the past and continues to be so however our intransigence could well end up being self defeating if the gaping holes in our squad are not addressed.

Putting the idiosyncrasies of this case aside it’s palpably obvious that our buying policy has been to get what we want as cheap as possible to the detriment of assimilating new squad members into the squad in a timely fashion or when they are most needed. There’ll be few detractors to the argument that had we acquired Chamakh in January this year we would not have resorted to the lunacy of playing our Meerkat up front, largely on his own.

Hindsight is of course priceless, yet we can only wonder what would have happened to our final league position if our goals hadn’t dried up in the last third of the season if our new forward had arrived earlier.

The inconsistency of our valuation of players viz-a-viz our transfer policy is demonstrated by our sale of Toure/Greedybayor and our current attempt to buy Schwarzer – we overvalue as sellers and undervalue as buyers.

This seems to be prima facie evidence of the correct approach in a buyers/sellers market however if you continue to do this other players in the market, in this case other football clubs with players to buy and sell, will look upon us as skin flints and not just as tough negotiators but ones to be avoided in future.

It can be argued that during the period of financial frugality that has just finished, according to the “We are no long hampered in our spending” messages that come from the club and our manager, it was necessary to adopt this approach but does there seem to be any change this time round?

We were told we would buy early or very later, but how clever is the buying late strategy? What happens is the rest of the selling clubs know we are desperate for replacements in key positions, goal keeper, centre backs and possibly (thanks to our umpteenth injury) back-up defensive midfielder and therefore we can be held to ransom. Also the selling club won’t have time to get a replacement for a squad member who will normally not be surplus to requirements, unless he is part of the Middle Eastland’s exodus or the Real Madrid fire sale of last season’s now out of fashion galacticos, as the Specious one seeks to rebuild the team in his own glorious image.

So the belief arises amongst the disenchanted gooners that we scrimp and quibble about our buying prices and hold out for higher fees when we sell to the detriment of the squad’s integrity and ability to compete meaningfully.

These same fans feel further alienated by the fact that our ticket prices are amongst the highest in the Premier League but very little of that seems to go into investment in the on-field side of the club’s activities and I have to admit to feeling some sympathy to that view.

There is a perception that the club will use every avenue to exploit their fans loyalty by schemes such as having a plaque on a chair or on a paving slab outside the Armoury – fleecing the fans is what I’d call it. Does every club do this? Yes, to an extent but that doesn’t mean the Club can expect the fan base to continually dig deeper into their pockets and proceed with an unseemly haste to pay off the stadium debt early. I don’t propose to delve into the financial ramifications of the Highbury Square development, the “Mortgage” taken out for the stadium and all the other factors that have combined to give the impression to me that reducing and ultimately eliminating debt from our balance sheet is being given a higher priority than it should.

Why should this be the case? Perhaps because a company free of debt is going to be attractive to an investor and a club like Arsenal will, because of its fan base, in the short to medium term have healthy “revenue streams” as Gazidis is so keen to remind us. So are we being fattened up as a club like a turkey for Christmas for a wealthy investor to acquire and gain a return from? In the case of the Manks the Glazers method of gaining such a return was to put new debt on the club to fund their other investments(while drawing exorbitant remuneration for little in the way of executive duties, allegedly) while the ‘dippers Septic owners are holding out for a substantial profit from a new owner before they sell.

And who will have helped our club become so attractive for a predatory takeover?

Well you, the fans.

While Gazidis has no doubt achieved a number of positive things for the club he brings the Septics unique marketing know-how on how to exploit a brand and so his hand is no doubt behind the plaque on seats, named paving slabs and now the fan share idea. While it can be argued that all clubs offer similar services for me this is another attempt to extract more cash from a fan base with the not only the factually correct promise of “owning part of the club” you support, but the false claim that you can have an influence. In any commercial situation minority shareholders are pretty much ignored so someone who owns 1/100th of an ordinary share, as the Arsenal fanshare offers, will have an infinitesimal ability to make any difference to what the Kroenke’s, the Usmanovs or the Bracewell Smiths of the Arsenal world want to do with the club.

This is where the normal rules of business can’t apply – if this were a commercial situation we would have walked away from Arsenal a long time ago as they simply have not (in my humble opinion) given us value for money. However there is a unique “Brand loyalty” which ties all of us football fans, glory hunters aside, to our chosen team and it’s this important factor that has allowed Arsenal to become the cash rich, take-over friendly footballing beast that it now is.
While Club level and the Diamond club give healthy match day returns all will be rosy for the much sought after “Income streams” but continued failure on the pitch could mean the successful business types who populate them will no longer want to be associated with a team that consistently fails to produce success, and by “success” read “trophies.”

This transfer window was supposed to be different in terms of our ability to buy the necessary quality, and maybe convince our home sick, though honourable, captain that our manager is serious in his ambition for the club. The wider implications are that this could mean disillusionment amongst wider sections of the fan base may accelerate.

And while there remains eleven more days for this “ambition” to be demonstrated to me sufficiently for me to invest in the match day experience the signs are not encouraging.

I’ll always be a gooner but the economic reality we live in now means that failure in the transfer window this time will relegate me back to the ranks of the armchair fan as I can no longer justify the cost of the match day experience.

Money to Burn – written by dandan

August 19, 2010

Written by dandan

Morning all. So now a tycoon is about to buy Blackburn Rovers, promising in yesterday’s Times to make available to Sam Allardyce enough money to buy every football kicking assassin on the face of the earth. Rumour has it, that plans are well advanced for the SAS to be co-opted as the latest addition to his hi tech training staff, providing advisors to coach the ‘double tap lets flatten em tackle’, at present being field tested by covert operations.

Arsenal themselves are rumoured to be a target for a takeover and Liverpool are desperate for the injection of life saving capital that new owners would bring. Meanwhile city are buying almost every player another club might want and refusing to sell even the disillusioned ones to any club that might be seen as a threat to their attempted premier league dominance.

What is the point of all these high flyers buying clubs? The one thing they have in common is they are winners, but only four possible trophies are available including the Champion’s League for which you first have to qualify. So are they all playing for a top four finish? Is Wenger right that it is the most important result if you can’t win the darn thing? His argument is based on money, but as these guys are all the progeny of Croesus with money to burn, that argument goes out of the window.

So multiple rich owners, four trophies to be won, how many of these guys will keep throwing money at the problem if they don’t win anything? How long before these clubs are tossed aside along with the grieving fan base to sink into debt induced oblivion.

Could it be that AW’s youth policy and prudence that has delivered our own almost debt free stadium and kept us in the top four thus far, will win the day?

Or perhaps this Indian guy is right to back Sam, after all if his team is the last one left standing he will win by default.

Almunia; Dead Man Walking? ….. and the real stats

August 18, 2010

Since two writers have submitted posts giving their particular angle on Manuel Almunia, we have decided to publish them both to demonstrate how views can contrast and stats can prove anything!

A view on Almunia written by 26may1989

What must be going through the mind of Manuel Almunia? We’re all frustrated and annoyed that the new keeper Wenger is after hadn’t been secured before the season’s opening, but I guess the point of this post is to try to look at this situation from Almunia’s point of view.

Whatever we think of his ability to be our first choice keeper, and I am very much of the view that he doesn’t have what it takes technically, Almunia has consistently shown himself to be a man of dignity and modesty. Unlike his predecessor, Jens Lehmann, or the man who has led the defence in front of him over the last two or three years, William Gallas, Almunia is a genuine team player. He has also undoubtedly improved his game over the last few years, and while not good enough, is not nearly as bad as many would claim.

But he and we know the reality. Almunia is the footballing equivalent of a dead man walking. It’s now a matter of record that Arsenal have officially bid for at least one other keeper, Mark Schwarzer, who would be an improvement on Almunia but not dramatically so. Whether or not Schwarzer joins us, Almunia knows his days as first choice are numbered, and quite rightly it seems he would leave Arsenal rather than resume duties as a back-up keeper.

However, we went into last weekend with a tough and difficult opening match depending on Almunia, a man who can only feel undermined and threatened by what has happened this summer. There’s no point whingeing about the situation, it is what it is now, and it’s obvious Wenger didn’t want this situation to have come about any more than we did. I just hope Almunia’s professional pride enables him to put any feelings of frustration and alienation to one side – he may even be motivated by a degree of defiance.

I feel for Almunia being in this situation but I also believe he has the strength of character to give his best for as long as he’s Arsenal’s number one.

What the stats say by GunnerN5

Most of us have agonized over our goalkeeping for several seasons,  really since the much maligned Jens left us, boy how we would like him back now. This chart shows just how  bad our main man Almunia really was last season.

Unfortunately the complete range of stats cannot be reproduced in the chart above, but the decisive conclusions are as follows:

Almunia was 17th in saves per shot at 87.8% and 8th on amount of goals allowed at 31. What is really surprising is that our defense only allowed 254 shots against Almunia in his 29 games. This (among this group of keepers) was the 5th lowest amount for the season and the lowest shots against per game at only 9. To the writer this indicates that our defense was not as suspect as perhaps we thought and that our goalkeeping was worse than thought.

If, for instance, Almunia had  the same save % as Van der Sar at 94.1% (5.9% allowed) then he would only have let in 15 goals and we would, have most likely, won the league.

I know stats are simply stats but this chart really shows just how bad Almunia was and although Fabianski and Mannone are not shown they were no better.

Hart, Schwarzer and Given were all better than any of our lot!!

Sack Wenger; Win Something – Written by redandwhiteviews

August 17, 2010

Written by redandwhiteviews

Unless you’ve been holidaying with Terry Waite’s old associates or staying with the Fritzls, you’ll know that Arsenal haven’t won anything for five years. You’ll know because every lazy football writer and commentator mentions it every five minutes.

My worry is that people believe the hype – because of his failure to bring ‘silverware’ to the Emirates in recent years, some ‘fans’ are even disappointed Wenger has signed a new deal. Time for a reality check:

No divine right to win the league

To begin with, and despite what the red scousers and the bare-chested idiots from Newcastle might tell you, no club has a divine right to win the league. It’s really hard to do and requires luck as well as momentum. The league invariably comes down to a few points (one point last year, none in ‘89), so a couple of bad games can put paid to your title hopes pretty quickly – in our case it used to be in November, but now seems to be March. So even if you’ve got the Chelsea open chequebook or the £60m-a-year the Mancs spend on players, you’re not guaranteed to win it anyway.

Shit cups are like chocolate teapots… pointless

Although Liverpool listed the Charity Shield among their ‘five cups’ and Spurs still boast of their success in the 1947 Norwich Hospital Charity Cup (click here if you don’t believe me), the Champions League is the only other trophy that really counts. But the Champions League is a cup competition. Any of the top sides can win it – which is why Porto did and we nearly did – and any side can lose it, which is why Chelsea, despite all their cash, never have. My point is that, however much you spend, there are no guarantees.

Building for the future…

To many, Wenger’s tighter than Beth Ditto’s waistband and needs to spend to win trophies. But the decision to build the Emirates has put massive constraints on Wenger. I honestly don’t think he’s got anywhere near the money people think. The board says there’s money to spend, but they would… otherwise clubs would target our players with even lower bids than they already do. That doesn’t mean the decision to build the Emirates was wrong. The 9,000 seats in the posh bit in the middle generate as much income as the whole of Highbury’s 38,000 seats used to. Once the stadium debt is paid for, we will have one of the world’s finest sporting arenas generating enough income to ensure our future for years to come. Around the same time, other clubs will hopefully be paying for the irrational management of their finances during the global financial crisis, and we will be in a position of most clubs’ envy – alive. Until then, the money is not available to take on the likes of Man U, Chelsea and, more notably, Man City in the transfer market. So the goalposts have moved.

The new goal

Our target during this period of paying for the stadium is to keep achieving Champions League football. Anything else will be a bonus. Wenger is spot on that 3rd or 4th in the league is better than winning the League Cup or the FA Cup. Anyone can get lucky and win a cup – Millwall made the final and Portsmouth won it – but a full season sets the men from the boys. The main thing, of course, is that the rewards are so much bigger. Would you really want Wenger fielding his best eleven in the Carling Cup on a Wednesday away at Wigan if there’s a six-pointer for a Champions League spot on the Saturday? Sack Wenger and you might just end up winning some shit… and missing out on the good stuff.

Show a little faith…

Wenger’s record speaks for itself but, if anyone thinks someone else could have done a better job on his watch, (including the idiots who have suggested Jumpy-up-and-down Martin O’Neill should be brought in to replace him), here are a few pointers.

For starters, what do Tottenham, Newcastle, ‘Boro, Sunderland, Villa, Everton, the Mancs, Liverpool, Chelsea and Man City all have in common? The answer is they all have a higher net spend than Arsenal since 2004. Where are their championships, FA Cups and Champions League finals? Newcastle, Boro and Sunderland have been relegated in that time. I don’t hear commentators banging on about their lack of silverware every two minutes.

Chelsea’s have spent £248m since 2004, recouping just £100m. Wenger’s net spend per season since 2004 has been £4m. He’s achieved Champions league football every year on that budget. Every year.

Before moving to the Emirates, we were no bigger than Leeds, Villa, Everton, Newcastle, Man City, Tottenham, West Ham, Liverpool and many others who had stadiums as big as ours and therefore the same income. Arsenal have been in the Champions League for 11 seasons running. Where have the others been? Newcastle have been to Bristol Rovers for league games. Leeds have been to Cheltenham, Hereford and Yeovil.

In summary, Arsenal made a decision some years ago that, rather than stand still with our peers, we would take a punt on building a big stadium to generate long-term higher income and the chance to compete at the very top.

What they saw in Wenger, a man who had already revolutionised British football with his views on fitness, training, diet and tactics, was a man who could not only steer us through the period in which we would have to pay for that plan, but who had the foresight to begin a youth policy which would also give the fans something enjoyable to watch and the chance of success every year without spending money – even if that success doesn’t always materialise. I’ll take security and hope over trips to Cheltenham, Hereford and Yeovil, Carling Cups and the Norwich Hospital Trophy any day. But the commentators aren’t interested in that, are they?

redandwhiteviews was previously known as heffer on this site. This article has been published on his site, but he has allowed us to reproduce it on here for our readers to enjoy.

Losing would have been a very bad start.

August 16, 2010

How often does the first game of the season give us so much to discuss? Away at Anfield was always going to be a difficult trip but we left there honours even after having controlled much of the game. Some of our passing game in the first half was sublime with Nasri doing a great job of running the mid-field.

Two red cards and a goal a peice thanks in part to goal-keeping errors left me feeling that we could have done better. Joe Cole was sent off just before half-time for a late two footed challenge on Koscielny that had me draw a sharp in-take of breath as apart from the not quite fit Song we had no centre-back on the bench. Luckily Koscielny jogged out for the second half.

So with Liverpool down to ten men and Arsenal all over them, the next 45 minutes should have been a walk in the park but three familiar occurances haven’t changed since last season – Almunia is not a good enough goal-keeper, We have loads of possession so the game is great to watch and WE GET INTO GREAT POSITIONS AND DON’T  SHOOT.

Thanks to 26may1989 for some good comments following the game that are being rolled out again here.

International break affected everyone, and yet Liverpool had an inspired (if defensive) second half today, and Chelsea decimated (an admittedly very poor) WBA yesterday. Plus today was another example in a long list of Arsenal games in which we fail to break down determined, well-organised defensive football. These happen often with our best team on the field, so the return to the starting line-up of Fabregas, Song and van Persie may not cure the ill. Our next league games see us play Blackpool, Blackburn, Bolton and Sunderland, so there may well be more tests of this kind very soon.

But the game today was pretty frustrating: a good first half performance, albeit without creating enough chances, but a really slow, turgid second half performance. Nice to scrape the point but a suitably horrible equaliser to cap such a laboured second half performance.

My take on individual performances:

Almunia: 3/10. At fault for the goal and made at least two other big mistakes on crosses, and Skrtel could easily have made it 2-0 on one of them. Sorry to say, because I like Almunia’s character, but hopefully the end of his time at the club.

Vermaelen: 7/10. Solid performance, did little wrong in defence and could (should?) have got a late late winner.

Koscielny: 7/10. Excellent start, worked well with Vermaelen and did little wrong. Very harsh second yellow card.

Clichy: 4/10. Poor performance, lots of weak play and mistakes with little attacking penetration. Would hope Gibbs is brought in quickly, but Clichy can and will do better.

Sagna: 5/10. Not great, not terrible.

Wilshere: 6/10. Tough game for his first Prem start for us. Faded and made a bad mistake in the build-up to Ngog’s goal but was as bright and lively as almost anyone else in yellow before he went off other than Nasri.

Diaby: 6/10.

Nasri: 7/10. Excellent first half, didn’t deal so well with Liverpool’s tightened defence in the second half.

Eboue: 6/10.

Arshavin: 3/10. Dreadful, deadened performance, offered little in attack or covering for Clichy.

Chamakh: 6/10. Tough debut, up against a talented, well-organised defence.

Walcott: 6/10.

Rosicky: 7/10. Great cross for the goal, good effort saved by Reina, improved the team.

van Persie: 5/10.

The real story of the game: Liverpool defended (at Fortress Anfield) heroically, as well as Blackburn or Stoke would have done, and Arsenal failed to break them down despite being a man up for half the game. The result was better than I feared but the performance was worse than I hoped. United and Chelsea will hardly be quaking in their boots watching either us or Liverpool. Cole was rightly sent off but Koscielny shouldn’t have been red carded. Leaves us with a problem next week, as does yet another poor performance from Almunia.

Pool – Arsenal in at the Deep End – written by BigRaddy

August 15, 2010

Written by Big Raddy

First game of a new season, new players, an opportunity to wear our new kit, ….. what is there not to get excited about?

Well, shame on me but I am approaching a trip to Anfield with some trepidation. I am normally confident every time we travel to Liverpool and I am reminded that we opened with a 6-1 victory up there last season (Everton is in Liverpool). But this time there are significant differences, and we all know what they are.

Firstly, Liverpool have finally signed a decent manager. Benitez was quite frankly one of the luckiest men on the planet. Without exception, their Cup victories were fortunate in the extreme (who has ever seen a less deserved CL victory than 2005, exciting though it was). That Benitez spent a King’s ransom and has taken the club backwards is a better indicator of his years as manager than Stevie G beating West Ham. Hodgson on the other hand is (in my opinion) one of the best managers in Europe and will make the Scousers a decent side.

Hodgson has in Reina, Agger, Johnson, Carragher and Aurelio, the personel to create a really solid defence. The signing of Poulsen (whom we should have signed) is inspired. He is a DM who can pass out of defence, is good in the air and above all can be a really dirty b*stard in the Roy Keane mould – expect to see a flurry of cards! With Gerrard in form, Aquilani bedding in, and Cole desperate to show he is worth his wages, they will present a formidable midfield. Thankfully Torres is unlikely to play and N’gog/Babel and Kuyt are hardly clinical finishers.

Secondly, we are not in great shape. Injuries, lack of form, severe defensive frailties and the lack of a reliable goalkeeper are likely to cause  sleepless nights for Mr. Wenger. The injuries are frustrating; when will we start a season with our full squad fit and ready? Song is at best 50/50 to play, and to rely on Denilson again is an indication of a poor summer’s work by our manager (who I am delighted to read is about to sign a new contract). We have been lacking a quality partner to Song for too long, and the possibility of having to start Frimpong is madness, however much of a prospect he is. Should Song be out, we will struggle to win the physical battle in midfield, as we will against any of the top 6 clubs…… we must buy an experienced CB/ DM to have a chance of winning the PL. Hopefully Sunday afternoon will not be a pre-cursor of difficulties to come

Much has been written about Fabregas this summer and I can’t wait to see him play for us this season – I expect him to confirm that he is the best in the World, bar none. He has to play at Anfield for us to win.

My team would be, (though I must point out that I have an unblemished record in this department – never having been right!!) :-

Mr. Wenger usually goes with a defensive team away from home and much as I would like to see Theo get a game, I doubt he will. The questions about RvP’s fitness must preclude him from what will be a tough fixture.

I will be satisfied with a point.

Regular readers of AA will know that I like to give some background about the towns we play in, and this season will be no different. Liverpool was founded by King John in 1207 and he personally designed the street layout (though only for 500 inhabitants). And, this is a brilliant and hard to believe fact….. over 40% of the entire World’s trade went through Liverpool at the start of the 19th Century!! There are many famous Liverpudlians amongst whom are; Rick Astley, the famous Youtube star and Keith Chegwin (Janice Long’s brother), both of whom are Gooners.

Most famous Scousers get out fast and move to Kent/Surrey – Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Cilla Black, Jimmy Tarbuck, Freddie Starr, Anne Robinson, Paul O’Grady etc etc ……. I wonder why??

Do the positives outweigh the negatives?

August 14, 2010

Written by kelsey

So we are about to kick off yet another season and on paper not an easy start at Anfield, yet we haven’t lost to pool in the league since 2007. In a way it is good for us to have this as our opening match for several reasons. It will show us that despite our manager being tight lipped about possible signings before the end of the month, the pressure is very much on Liverpool.

By their standards they had a disastrous season last term and Hodgson will have had little time to access the strengths and weaknesses of his own side, and the daily takeover talk will have surely been disturbing him, together with the want-away Mascherano most probably playing and the uncertainty over Torres’ fitness.

Make no mistake, Liverpool rely heavily on Gerrard and Torres. Whilst we start the campaign with several injuries, we appear to have more options, especially in attack and I would say on paper a better team than the opposition.

As with every season, injuries will be a major factor in our quest for the title. We will have a more potent attack now with the introduction of Chamakh , who judging by pre season, is a very versatile and hard working centre forward. Nasri could be our star man. He impressed me tremendously in our warm up games, and if need be will be an able substitute for Fabregas in this opening game. And then of course there is Arshavin, who on his day is a match winner, and has a habit of scoring against the scousers. My gut feeling is that RVP will start and that can only be a good thing, though I wouldn’t be surprised to see Eboue “our super sub” instead of Walcott lining up as he is full of confidence after his brace in Poland and to me it makes sense to keep him in the side.
The defence more or less picks itself and to say our cover is paper thin would be an understatement. Almunia will be back in goal and the fans will be watching his every move. We can only hope that he has an assured game and has finally developed an understanding with the defence.

There are doubts about Denilson,Song and Diaby and Djourou is definitely out. So the intriguing poser is, will Wilshere and Frimpong be thrown into the deep end?
Regardless of the result, we have the makings of a good season ahead. The Premier League will be even more competitive than last, providing our manager adds strength to the squad in the two positions that have been mentioned by armchair experts for months. Remember, the ‘experts’ said no team could afford to lose more than 3 games last season to bag the title –  Chelsea lost six!

As is the norm, there will be much nail biting as the whistle blows to start this campaign, but I remain positive.


Arsenal’s Phony War is Over.

August 14, 2010

Written by dandan

So the time for talking is done. Preseason training and practice matches are out of the way and the real stuff is about to begin. Many fans will find it hard to sleep tonight especially those of a negative persuasion who struggle to see any good times ahead at all.

But for the Arsenal the last day of the phony war has been brightened by the news that the boss is about to sign a new contract, Aaron Ramsey is making good progress and could be back for the end of October, whilst three of his contemporaries; Theo, Kieran and LJ, are back unscathed from earning their England caps.

No we haven’t signed another new CB and Hughes is playing fast and loose over his goalkeeper as is his way with anything Arsenal. Cesc’s comments re: Sparky’s Spanish skills have never been forgotten, but there are two weeks of the transfer window still left to sort that out. It will only take a couple of new arrivals to cheer many a doubting gooner up.

Sunday is Liverpool day. We have famously won the league there on the last day of the season at a time when the football world gave us no chance. So why shouldn’t we have a good result on the first day of the season? After all, Chamakh, our new centre forward will be keen to show his silky skills to the watching millions as will Laurent Koscielny playing CB alongside TV. He is another player Wenger has plucked from the obscurity of the French league, let’s hope he is as succesful as some of his predecesors.

But the stand out player news for real gooners is that Cesc our inspirational captain has accepted with good grace the clubs refusal to bow to the machievelien tricks of the Barça PR machine and with luck will play tomorrow. His commitment to the cause should never be doubted, whether this be his last year or not.

So it’s good news a plenty. We have a couple of injuries and our gk position has exercised many minds and blogs in recent weeks. It is intriguing therefore to try to name tomorrow’s starting 11, but I will leave that to you fellow gooners to wrestle with today.

I shall sign off with the wish that we at least stay clear of further injuries and play ‘our football’ in the manner that has delighted soccer addicts worldwide for more than ten years. That style has established The Arsenal as the favourite club for neutrals to watch and the second club for most rival fans apart from ‘Arry’s mob down the road.

Come on you Gunners.

Arsenal; Money and The changing Face of Football

August 13, 2010

Written by Red Arse

Money! Money! Money! Like it says in the song “Money makes the world go around”

So, from the point of view of the fan, what has this to do with the Mighty Arsenal, you might ask? Well let’s see. There are three main characteristics in play when referring to money in football;


We use the term in an envious way when talking about Chelski or Manure in particular. How often have you heard the phrases “They bought their way to the Title”, or “Without Abramovich’s money they would have gone bust” or “They bought the Title by hugely increasing their debt”. All of it true, perhaps, but certainly when seen from the perspective of the little green eyed monster. Money!


We are all secretly, and maybe openly, as proud as punch when the Media announce we have the best stadium, or, perhaps, one of the best stadiums in the world. This was made possible by moving the ground to a new site and investing money into a project to develop the old Stadium into modern, expensive, domestic housing for sale at a hoped for great profit.

Suddenly, we were all puffing our chests out like entrepreneurs and talking about the property market and calculating the size of the resultant debt against the returns from the venture in boosting the club’s coffers. Money!

Awe and Incomprehension:

We are all aware of the fact that players cost clubs millions of pounds to buy. We also try to digest the enormity of their monetary salary rewards by breaking down these earnings into weekly amounts. Leaving aside the salaries of the top, top players who reputedly earn as much as £200,000 per week, we also are aware that “average” players can earn around £80,000 per week. That equates to approximately £4,200,000 per year. Over a player’s career of 12 years, that works out at £50,400,000. Yes over £50,000,000! Awesome Money!

Compare that to the average Joe who would be reasonably happy to earn £50,000 per annum. A simple 12 year gross earnings total would be £600,000, which is only a tiny 1.2% of the average player’s income over that period. But wait, the average Joe has to pay tax and N.I. too, which, less allowances, would roughly equal a 30% deduction on his salary amounting to £15,000, leaving a net yearly take home of £35,000, about half the player’s gross weekly wage.

Ah, you say, the player would have to pay huge taxes on his huge salary and that will balance things up. But no, his salary is calculated, in large part, on income received from the sale of his image rights, which are treated as non taxable! Incomprehensible Money!

………..Oh get to the point. We are where we are, it is what it is, and we can do nothing about it.

Well, I have got to agree with that sentiment. So I thought I would try to help Arsenal better fund this expenditure on infrastructure and players. How can we make more MONEY?

One of the greatest changes in English Club football has been to the demographics of their support. We are all familiar with the old black and white films showing supporters “Up for t’Cup”. Almost without exception these supporters were men. Nowadays, most women are financially independent and with the move away from standing terraces to seating and the new stadiums with their much improved facilities, there has been a huge increase in the number of women supporting their clubs. They are every bit as passionate, knowledgeable and vociferous as their male counter parts, and for the clubs they provide a welcome boost to their income. The clubs invested money into their infrastructures and reaped the benefits.

Another huge change to the Clubs’ income, perhaps its biggest, has been its UK and European television revenues.

In addition, television now enables almost every PL game to be shown around the Globe, and this is one area where Arsenal are sadly lagging behind the more enterprising clubs in making themselves available to fans, and potential new fans, elsewhere in the world.

All fans want to see their favourites in the flesh, and even the lower clubs in the PL are making tours to Africa, China, and America. The impact of this is that they are reaping the benefits of increasing numbers of fans and the sale of merchandise to them.

In the future, as television penetrates deeper into these markets, the TV revenue available will increase tenfold for those clubs who have made the effort and gained a toehold now, which will boost their share of the pot in later years.

In addition, revenue from the sale of football kit and memorabilia will produce potentially millions of pounds extra from the associated merchandising of the club and its players through the sale of image rights.

There are at least 2 billion people in the Middle East, Africa, China and America who are potential football fans and if Arsenal managed to get just 1% of these as fans and received only £1 extra revenue from each of them, that would amount to a £20,000,000 increase in their income. Only 1% paying only £1 = £20m! Imagine if this was 10% = £200m? Amazing Money!

So my advice is “Move your arse-nal Mr Gazidis and tell Arsène to pull his finger out and give Austria a miss in the pre-season — tour the world instead”!

Money, Money, Money, makes the world go around!