Eau de Cologne – Horse Sh*t and Fried Onions

August 12, 2012

Today we take the pitch against Cologne in our last pre season friendly. Arsene’s pre season routine has been upset by the tour of the Far East and the games played there excluded a number of first teamers and most importantly our new signings were left at home to settle in to London life, and find their way around London Colney.

The games in Asia came early in our pre season preparation, clearly we were not match fit, and the games were used as part of the pre season training regime.

The trip meant the cancellation of the Emirates Cup and so we are left with one game to show where we are before the start of the new Premier League campaign.

I have no idea how we will start today, and I don’t think Raddy will be any the wiser come next Saturday for the real kick off against Sunderland. Thats good for two reasons:

1) It demonstrates a new strength in depth.
2) Our opponents will not have a clue either.

I guess the big question is will van Persie feature, my guess is he won’t want to, but Wenger might just make him. If van Persie refuses or plays without commitment it will make it clear to us whether we should keep him or not.

The defence pretty much picks itself when Sagna is fit, but I think today we will see a half each at right back from Jenkinson and Coquelin, for me I hope it’s Jenkinson.

The midfield three of Arteta, Song and Cazorla again picks itself.

It is up front where the questions are asked, any three of Walcott, Podolkski, Giroud, Gervinho, van Persie and Oxlande-Chamberlain could start, and it wouldn’t be beyond the realms of possibility for Arshavin to feature at some point.

This is the final assessment of the team before next Saturday but we should remember it is still a pre season, anything that happens today does not set the tone for the rest of the season, unless of course its a 10-0 win and then I will be rushing down to my local Bookies to put £100 on Arsenal to win the title.

I might just do that anyway as the squad is looking talented and has an experience to it that we have not seen for sometime. I never had an issue with the youngsters we signed and played but there were times where I worried that they were learning off each other and that meant they were going to suffer in their development, the arrival of Arteta, Santos and BFG brought an experience to the squad, this has been added to further by the arrivals of Podolski and Cazorla. These older players who have seen a lot more in football can help the youngsters and bring more responsibility to the team (and also remind them just how lucky they are to turn up at a club with the facilities of Arsenal).

Enjoy the game.

(PS Thanks for the title Chas)

Written by Gooner in Exile

And here are the thoughts of oz gunner who also had a great title 🙂

RVP’s attitude stinks but we’ve got Cologne

Today we play our last pre-season friendly, and all I can say is…about bloody time. It’s as though the off season gets longer and longer. Will he sign or won’t he? Will RVP be here for the start of the season or is he off to Man United/City/Juve/whoever will pay his high demands? Song to Barca or just his agent trying to get him a new bumper deal? I for one am sick of it. Let’s play some football!

I’m not too sure what to expect from today’s game and whether or not we can take much from the starting line-up. I think Arsenal will keep his cards to his chest and use it as one last chance to get some run in to player’s legs. I can’t wait to see Giroud, Podolski, and Santi get a run out and just what they are going to bring to the team. I’d like to see Gnabry and Eisfeld continue with their emergence and get a little game time because both have come with big wraps this pre-season.

How or what involvement RVP has on the game could answer a few more questions. If he sits on the bench for most/all of the match I think we will all start to think it’s a bit like the Cesc scenario, with us protecting him for potential buyers. Personally I think we hold all the cards in this. Man United can’t come up with more money (it’s just all masking their terrible share price drop and keeping the fans of their backs), so he will have to have a blinder of a year otherwise teams won’t be willing to hand over the money for his wages next season. Here’s hoping he has a change of mind and re-signs mid-year and we win it all.

Anyway let’s all enjoy the run out.

Prediction: 0-3 We will be too strong for the division two team

Written by oz gunner


Managers, Flotation and Respect.

August 11, 2012

I was born lucky. Very lucky, and what I’m referring to is the fact that I am comfortably the most buoyant person I know.

I am a floater, and this provides me with top quality thinking time. Wealthy women with small brains pay good money to enter floatation tanks. My tank is free, and it is called The Atlantic Ocean. Last night, as the sun set, I set off into the calm waters beyond where the waves break, pointed my feet westwards towards America and began to think. Naturally, my mind turned to the new season, and in particular, how the Managers of the top teams would affect the outcome.

Well, let’s see. First things first, the transfer mill continues to grind around and around, and will continue to do so, which makes evaluating the teams rather tricky. The Managers, on the other hand, are all in place.

Stability amongst the top three remains. Below us, Tottenham and Liverpool blood new boys, and in many ways Di Matteo is amongst this new breed ( It was at this point that some jellyfish drifted past me, and I spared a thought for Harry Redknapp).

I really hope Spurs get to keep Adebeyor, because he has the potential to upset a dressing room, and following the revolt at Chelsea under AVB, I do not think the Portuguese Man has it in his armoury to control the egos as and when they encounter a blip.

Chelsea under The Italian managed to bludgeon their way to some trophies, but wow did their League form dip. Has he got it? Well one thing history tells us is that time under Abramovich will be in short supply, and the egos that rose up against AVB remain. Oh, and they’ve added the Herculean Ego of Hazard.

Newcastle. Fantastic season last term, but Pardew has a record of chronic inconsistency, and a fragile temperament. Sorry Tooners, but I cannot see it lasting. Liverpool, on the other hand, have a brilliant new and very shiny man at the helm. A believer in the beautiful game, but untried at the highest level. Naturally, I hope he lights up the league with his Swansea style, but it will take time.

I really do believe that with our new men on board, we can look upwards.  Mankins’ City, mmmm. We know about the strength of their squad with its rotational depth, and a manager who I believe is improving his Premiership credentials, however, I’ve just read GiE’s link about Mankini bemoaning the lack of funds, and I smell cracks. Players like to pass the buck, and the moment they sense their manager is not prepared to carry it, then the hierarchy of responsibility comes crashing down.  A couple of early defeats and it will be very interesting to see how much of this responsibility Mankini  is prepared to shoulder. Very little, GiE’s comment would suggest.

Perhaps the most significant contribution a manager makes is to maintain The Respect of his squad. Ferguson and Wenger have it in abundance. I do get the feeling old rivalries are about to be resumed.

Written by MickyDidIt89


Arsenal better with or without Van Persie ?

August 10, 2012

The answer to this question seems obvious to me. But I have heard enough contrary opinions here and elsewhere.  Of course, this is all out of our hands, we can only give our opinions – but that’s what we all do here.

With the  recent addition of Santi Cazorla, on top of Podolski and Giroud deals, the media and vultures on the internet and print are making up stories about a van Persie u-turn and re-sign. I don’t believe there is any proof to substantiate this. It’s just one of those suppositions that is interesting enough to grab some attention. Even though it’s very unlikely to happen, it’s worth thinking about.

We don’t know how things will play out with other comings and goings probable in the next few weeks. The changes likely to occur will affect midfield mostly, and defense and possibly a bit on the wings, depending on Walcott’s situation. But if you look just at the striker situation, I think the answer becomes pretty simple.

I’ve heard and read hundreds of comments about how RvP should be “sent packing”, how it’s best for the team, morale, harmony, clubhouse, etc not to keep an unhappy player. Also about how we could use the money. Personally, I never worry about the money situation when it comes to wealthy people or corporations, they will handle that as they wish, regardless of our opinions. I only worry about my own finances. Lastly, about how we would never see him the same way even if he does stay.

I will say this about the current rumours about VP to United – I think it’s all insane. I don’t believe it no matter how many articles are written. It would be one thing to sell to the competition, a ton of money to sell to Man City would not be out of the realms of possibility, because he is a luxury for them, he would play occasionally, and only make them a little better. Another example (not that it would ever happen), but – if you added van Persie to Tottenham, they would still not be good enough to beat us the way we are shaping up. But to sell to United, (which wouldn’t be overwhelming money anyway) it could put them over the top. He could really help them. All the class Arsene has instilled in him could make them much better. I believe, as we stand, we are a better team than United, and if we play up to our ability, we will surpass them this season, and a long time to come. I know Arsene is aware of all this, so there is no reason to entertain their offer. Let them wait another year (or forever).

I prefer to just look at the actual football effect if van Persie leaves. I believe Wenger has stated that Bendtner is leaving. For me, he would have been a solid third choice striker behind Podolski and Giroud, but he even stated himself that he will not play for us again. That leaves Chamakh in that spot.

Now if van Persie were to play for us this season there would be alot of benefits all around. First, the leagues best striker playing in his perfect system again, this time with some actual opportunities to be rested properly. Time for Podolski and Giroud to be worked in slowly. The chance for Pod to get in some time on the wing to give more goal threat from there. Then some talk of mixing in a bit of 4-4-2 for a change. Some chances to experiment with van Persie playing behind Giroud. And- all this along with Cazorla. Tell me that’s not enticing.

Finally, a question that I have posed here before to those (myself included), who were hurt and angered by RvP’s statement, but more to those who say they would never forgive him, or would rather have the money from his sale. How would you feel watching the first match against Sunderland, if van Persie scores one, and/or assists one. Watching him celebrate with his teammates? I have a feeling the players would accept him back happily. Would it matter if it was just for one last season. Would it be that hard to forgive him?

I believe it’s still Arsenal who decides where he plays THIS season. Not the papers, websites or Talksport; not the clubs he may be talking to, and certainly not his agent.  At this point I couldn’t care less where he dreams of going and being paid. Our dream is to have a fantastic season, and to show everyone that Arsenal is back at the top.

Written by jnyc


Childhood Arsenal Heroes and Villains‏

August 9, 2012

All of us have our heroes and villains, and in every generation there are players who passionately divide opinion, causing us to dissect every possible flawed trait of the human DNA, especially those representing Arsenal.

The first conscious connection I had with Arsenal was the side that won the UEFA Fairs Cup, followed by the ‘Double’ a year later, which was particularly pleasing because we equalled what Spurs had done ten years previous, and I’m sure I read somewhere in statute law that under no circumstances are Spurs allowed to get one over Arsenal for as long as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. I could be wrong, who knows!

Back then, just as it’s always been, it’s the flair players and goal-scorers who grab the glory and headline banners, and every time I played football I was always ‘Charlie George’ who would later morph into Liam Brady.

I was devastated when Charlie George was sold to Derby, with Brady I was more disappointed that as well as opting out to chase the Italian lira, his last act with us was to miss a penalty in our losing CWC final against Valencia. And on his return from Italy he went to West Ham!

My first ‘villain’ was Alan Ball, who was bought to replace George Graham. I had no particular affinity to Graham as a player, but he was part of our success, and not many footballers get to celebrate winning the ‘Double’. ‘Bally’ ticked all the boxes, World Cup winner, tenacious never-say-die midfielder who I’m sure Bertie Mee considered an up-grade, but not someone who would ever lift you out of your seat with a thrilling, barn-storming performance.

I remember seeing a picture on the back of the Daily Mirror, in December 1971, Alan Ball with his trademark white football boots draped over  his shoulder, looking visibly upset at leaving Everton for Arsenal. Like most kids, I was very impressionable especially when it comes to my football team, and that picture said to me that his sadness at leaving Everton out-weighed his ‘happiness’ at joining Arsenal, and I didn’t take to him. Maybe he just arrived at the wrong time and couldn’t inspire us to push on for further success. It clearly wasn’t all his fault, but he ended up captaining an Arsenal side that had been a lot better before his arrival, and that was the only excuse I needed. Well, that and being a young kid.

Jeff Blockley from Coventry was another villain who cost good money, touted as a future star, scored far too many own-goals, and was sold for half what we paid to Leicester. When it finally dawned on Bertie that Blockley wasn’t working he bought Terry Mancini, as a stop-gap to allow for the integration of David O’Leary. It’s hard to think of a good signing Bertie Mee made after the ‘Double’ and relate to them as a hero. As if to prove he’d learned nothing from the Peter Marinello experience, he went back to Hibernian and bought Alex Cropley, who just like Marinello, wasn’t good enough and was sold to Aston Villa.

Brian Kidd was a surreal signing, a European Cup winner at 19, but stalled after that, so much so that Tommy Docherty sold him to us. He was our top scorer for the two seasons he was with us, but it was over-shadowed by our lowly league positions. Certainly not a villain, but he wasn’t around long enough to be given hero status either.

While I’m on the subject of ex MU players, Denis Law is a hero. I and a few of the older generation of Arsenal fans on here were priveliged enough to witness something we’ll probably never see again. MU relegated to Division 2, and it was Denis Law’s goal for Man City against his former club that sent them down. Priceless.

One ex MU player who did do well for us, and won an England cap on the back of his performances for Arsenal was Jimmy Rimmer. He made his debut at Anfield against the all-conquering Liverpool, and had a stormer. He kept everything out and was largely responsible for us coming away with the two points in a brilliant 1-0 victory. He was later sold  (by Terry Neill) to Aston Villa and went on to help them win the title and European Cup.

Terry Neill wasn’t a villain, but then he wasn’t really a hero either. His only crime was that he wasn’t really good enough. It was a strange appointment by the Board, especially as he’d been managing Spurs for two years, and had done nothing, apart from narrowly avoiding relegation in his first season there. I can only assume that it was some sort of reward for having played for us over quite a few years.

A better, braver and more dynamic appointment would have been that of Bobby Robson from Ipswich, who I feel at a club of Arsenal’s stature would have seriously challenged Liverpool’s dominance. Although Neill did buy Pat Jennings (a bargain at £45,000)….and Willie Young!

‘SuperMac’ Malcolm Macdonald was a big terrace hero, and represented a marquee signing, a proper old-fashioned number 9, deadly pace over 100 yards, and a natural goal-scorer too. A great signing whose career was tragically cut-short through injury, which meant we only had his services for two seasons. But at least he was better than Brian Kidd!

Alan Hudson was a huge disappointment but he was originally a Chelsea product that we brought back to London from Stoke, and his heart just didn’t belong. After 36 games, no goals and no desire he was off-loaded to America.

Conversely, Alan Sunderland a midfielder bought from Wolves, converted to a striker by Neill, will forever be remembered as a hero, just for his dramatic last-minute winner against MU in the 1979 FA Cup final, and without ever being considered as a major world-class star, he served the club well, and for £240,000 was relatively good value.

A special mention too for Paul Vaessen,who scored the only goal in Arsenal’s 1-0 win against Juventus in the CWC Semi-final, which created a bit of history as we became the first English club to win away at Juve.

Growing up supporting Arsenal was hard during the turbulence of the 1970’s, especially as all the other kids around me ‘supported’ Liverpool, MU and Leeds. I remember vividly the 1972 Centenary FA Cup final against Leeds. We were under-strength because Bob Wilson was injured so reserve ‘keeper Geoff Barnett had to play in goal. Back then, Leeds were almost as hated as MU, so losing to them was too much for this particular kid to digest. Watching Allan Clarke’s diving header was like a dagger had been plunged into my heart (made even more annoying by Charlie George hitting the bar late on!!!), and it was by far the worst pain I had suffered up to that point of my young life.

At the final whistle I ran from the house, and just carried on running until I couldn’t run anymore, and I cried for what seemed like ages. There was no-one to share the pain with, or anyone who was going to make me feel better, so all the emotion poured out. Speaking strictly from a lads perspective, (and a young kid too), everybody is allowed one cry, two is pushing it, three and you need psychiatric help!

If like me, you grew up supporting Arsenal, you will have many childhood memories of your own heroes and villains. Many thanks for taking the time to share some of mine.

Written by Herb


The Rumour Mill

August 8, 2012

I have posted on here before of my amusement at the intensity of fans during the summer break, I know I am in the minority but I simply cannot be bothered to get wound up by the rumour mill and media circus. Thank god this superb Olympics has pulled so many of the scribes away from their dubious fabrications within the football silly season and directed them to a more worthwhile and fulfilling portrayal of fact rather than fiction.

I am aware that blogs need to feed upon themselves, but the reading of tealeaves based upon todays rumour is surely just about as relevant to Arsenal as Madam Clairvoyants input as she travels the country with the summer fairs, reading punters palms.

We debate and denigrate the activities and statements supposedly coming out of the club whilst agonising and moralising over the leaked utterances of players not noted for their non-football cerebral powers, whilst knowing instinctively that they are merely stocking fillers emanating from a bevy of devious and self-seeking agents, many of whom do not represent the player concerned but have smelt a honeypot and gleefully inserted their fingers in the hope of getting a share of the sweetness on offer.

Fact has no relevance for these charlatans, yet we the fans are moved to cogitate that there is no smoke without fire whilst knowing in all likelihood that it is purely smoke and mirrors which needs no fire as the smoke itself is artificial.

Thankfully only ten days stand between us and the new season and though all our transfer business may not be finalised at least we will be able to debate from a position of strength as to the relevance of the work carried out by the club and officials. They have apparently signed and continue to sign reinforcements whist juggling the movements of existing staff both within and away from the club.

My reading of the blog through this period has engendered a feeling of sadness that so many of our bloggers have lost their trust in the club and its personnel mainly through the constant non information in the form of rumours being constantly recycled.

Roll on the new season and a return for us all to the real world of football.

Written by dandan


Five Arsenal predictions for the start of the new season

August 7, 2012

In ten days time, we will be licking our lips at the imminent prospect of live premier league football.

I have really enjoyed watching Arsenal in the friendly games: not the results, which are meaningless anyway, but the individual performances of our players.

It was great to see Diaby and Arteta again. The former is looking sharp and fit and the latter is still working on regaining full match fitness.

It was also good to see Gibbs and Gervinho looking really sharp and full of desire. Eis-Eis-Baby had two great cameos late on in the game, and it was no coincidence that he scored on both occasions from inside the box, by simply being at the right place at the right time, whilst remaining very cool when it mattered most. The Ox also showed he is getting close to regular first-team footie. There were plenty of other positives too. Arsene has tried a lot of our youngsters and some seem to have made very good progress over the summer.

As I am writing this, rumours are getting stronger and stronger that Santi Cazorla is joining us, and if this is true, Arsenal will have strengthened themselves with a Spanish, a German, and a French international, which will add a lot of experience, quality and attacking thrust to our team.

I also liked what I saw from Ramsey during the last two Olympic games for Team GB, as it looks like he has rediscovered some of the form he showed at the start of last season.

So, how is next season going to pan out? This is always notoriously difficult to predict and I would like to invite you to make your own predictions today, in the comment section below.

Prediction one: We’ll make a strong start.

The first five games are against Sunderland (h), Stoke (a), Liverpool (a), Southampton (h) and City (a). I like it that all the away games are not easy: it means we will be fully focussed from the start. From our last home games against Norwich and Wigan during last season we have, hopefully, also learned there are no easy teams anymore. The best thing is that Arsene has a strong squad to choose from and he is not hindered by having to qualify for the CL this time.

Prediction two: Koz will replace Sagna at the start of the season, at least in the tougher away-games.

TV is like to be named our new captain, which means he’ll automatically play if he is fit. If both Mertesacker and Koscielny are also fit, I reckon Arsene will play all three of them. They are too good to leave on the bench and by putting Koz in the RB position he makes our defence more solid (and less adventurous) and does not have to leave either Koz or the BFG on the bench. As soon as Sagna is back and all three CB’s are fit, Wenger will be left with a bit of a selection problem.

Prediction three: we will play with one striker and five midfielders, and score more goals than last season.

I predict we will play very differently compared to last season. Brave Sir Robin (great name Chas!) imminent departure means we will go back to strong domination of the midfield, with most of our goals coming from our midfielders rather than our lone striker. The lone-striker will be more of a holding striker, who often plays with his back towards the opponent’s goal. The aim for him is to hold on to the ball or bounce the ball back towards the midfield in such a way that the midfielders can move forward and create all sorts of concerns for the opponent.

This will make us less predictable and less one-dimensional and, just as we did in the first half of the 2010-2011 season, we’ll score more goals again. It also means we’ll have a lot of possession again and pass the ball round a lot, but I reckon we will be a lot more direct this season, including players being allowed to shoot more from distance (as we have witnessed during the friendly games already this summer). The midfield fire-power will include the likes of Podolski, Theo, Cazorla, the Ox, Arteta, Ramsey, Rosicky, Santos and Diaby.

From the little footage I have seen of him, Giroud looks like a very capable holding striker and Podolski would be very capable in that position too. I reckon Giroud is first choice and the Pod will start a lot in midfield this season. Chamakh will be our back-up holding striker and I would not at all be surprised if we start with the Moroccan in the first few games, as per rumours that both Giroud and Podolski will be eased into the PL.

Prediction four: We’ll leak significantly less goals compared to the start of last season.

Admittedly, it won’t be very hard to improve on last season’s goals conceded during the start of the season. But I reckon Wenger and Bould will have drilled the team on how to defend as a team, and having our key players of Koz, TV, Gibbs, Mertesacker, Song, Arteta and Szczesny all fit and raring to go is also really good for us. We need to hit the ground running as I expect the Chavs and the Northern Oilers to set the defensive tone from the start with lots of clean sheets.

Prediction five: Podolski will settle in quickest of the new signings and will be our top scorer after the first ten games.

Podolski is a great striker with a very good shots-per-goal ratio. Arsenal play the sort of football were he will be given plenty of opportunities and this combined with his hunger, professionalism and experience means he is likely to hit the ground running. It will be very quickly: Sir Brave Robin van Who?

These are my predictions for the start of the new season. But what are your predictions? Are they in line with mine or totally different? You can let us know by leaving a comment in the section below.

Cheers,

Written by TotAl


Inside Ashley Cole’s Head

August 6, 2012

Poor old Ashley.

The lad is absolutely obsessed with his former club, Arsenal.

You would think, after six years of rolling in Roubles and scooping up a good haul of trophies, that he would be able to get over it.

But some tic of the psyche, some deeply ingrained weakness of character, means he just can’t let it lie.

A couple of weeks ago, showing what a good winner he is, he was bragging about how many trophies he had won during a period when Arsenal had won nothing.

Yesterday he was at it again, this time boasting about the fact that he had won a Champions League medal and telling Arsenal supporters to “get over it.” (We already had. Who wants to be the worst team ever to have won a Champions League? When we win it I want to do it in style).

Some would say he has every right to respond to the handful of Arsenal supporting Twitter trolls who have sent him abuse.

But doesn’t he realise that every top footballer – indeed just about every figure in the public eye – gets that sort of stuff all the time? Yet the vast majority don’t feel the need to respond in kind with their own name calling. Or at least they realise that to do so would bring them down to the level of the idiot trolls.

But Ashley seems happy among the trolls, perhaps because he has many of the characteristics of a fairy tale villain.

I sometimes wonder what drives Ashley’s obsession with Arsenal. Yes, he left under a cloud after being found guilty of participating in a tapping-up meeting (he was fined £100,000 by the FA for that little indiscretion you may recall, although, of course, in Ashley’s eyes it was not his fault). But that was years ago.

And he gets a lot of stick from the crowd when he returns to Arsenal in a blue shirt. But, really, that’s par for the course in the Premier League. All fans like to boo an old boy they feel let them down. But, unlike Ashley, most “old boys” don’t harbour the same antagonism in reverse. The smart ones cause far more pain to  their erstwhile fans by just ignoring them. Ashley, by contrast, rewards the Arsenal fans and fuels the animosity by constantly acknowledging it and responding to it.

The root of this Arsenal obsession must lie somewhere in Ashley’s psychological make-up.

If we were to go on an expedition inside Ashley’s mind, what might we find? Well, first, I expect we would be astonished by the sense of emptiness. All those wide open spaces where nothing much is really happening. We would probably feel like a mouse in a cathedral.

But gradually we would become aware of the hum of synapses working away somewhere. Moving towards the vibration we would soon see a large, vibrant network of connected neural pathways glowing and pulsing with energy. This, of course, is Ashley’s “Football Brain.” And it’s a good one – at least five times the size of Emmanuel Eboue’s Football Brain for example. This part of Ashley’s head is what has made him arguably the best Left Back in the world in the last 10 years.

Moving past the Football Brain we would pass a number of smaller – but still vibrant – centres of activity. These would relate to things like “sex” and “music” and “flash cars” and “havin’ a larf with JT and the boys.” Although not on the same scale as the Football Brain, these parts of Ashley’s mind make-up are all functioning well.

Then we go further in and… oh dear… what are those small, shrivelled things, barely alive at all? Ah! Of course! Ashley’s morals.

Here we find “Loyalty”, pulsing weakly and showing almost no energy, just the occasional quiver if the aural centres detect any mention of the word “Cheryl”.

Beyond that, and almost completely inert, is “Personal Responsibility”. This is the neural centre that needs to be functioning strongly to prevent a person from, for example, driving at 103mph through a residential street in Kingston, South London, or firing an air gun at a work experience student from five feet away, or admitting that agreeing to secret, illicit meetings might be partly your own fault.

Further on, past Ashley’s morals, the mind is just an ashy wasteland, a void of degeneracy and narcissism… until we spot something throbbing ahead in the distance. What is it? It’s throbbing with an intense red light. It’s small, but so very, very powerful.

Could it be…? Yes, it is. It’s Ashley’s Guilt Centre. And, unlike his Morals, it is very much alive. In fact it’s pouring a special kind of poison into Ashley’s heart and soul.

So at last we have reached our destination. This is why Ashley is still so obsessed with the Greatest Football Club in the World. It’s because he is wracked by guilt. Guilt for the wrongs he did us and the lies he told; guilt for abandoning the one club that’s trying to do things the right way, in order to line his own pockets.

And the problem with this guilt is that it sours the taste of every trophy and medal Ashley has ever won since he left the Arsenal.

Winning things through financial doping no doubt provides some satisfaction, but it is a tainted form of satisfaction. It’s like using cheats in a video game or beating someone at tennis by lying about whether the ball was in or out. Sure, it’s a victory, but it’s not a pure one.

Ashley knows that when Arsenal’s next triumph comes, when we win our next title or our first Champions League trophy, it will be worth more than all the baubles that have been bought for him over the past six years.

I know it makes me less than saintly, but I take some comfort from the fact that, in the small hours of the night as he lies on his water bed listening to the gentle snoring of his latest slapper, unable to sleep, in a bedroom festooned with pictures of himself, poor Ashley can’t get those thoughts out of his head. Those thoughts about the Arsenal and how, deep down, he should never have left.

Am I sinking to Ashley’s level by thinking all this?

Would you have done what Ashley did and take off post haste for the big bucks the moment they’re offered?

Is he any different to Robin van Persie?

Should we help Ashley to cure his obsession by all agreeing to ignore him henceforth?

I would welcome your thoughts.

RockyLives


Football rules …… time for a change?

August 5, 2012

The laws of football evolve slowly. Very slowly. Almost at a glacial pace. But watching various sports in this lovely (if wet) summer of Olympics on our doorstep shows how other sports develop and innovate, to preserve and develop the qualities and challenges of that sport. That begs the question: what rule changes could football adopt that would improve it?

The guardians of the rules of the game are the eight members of FIFA’s International Football Association Board. Half of those members are from FIFA itself, the other half from each of the English, Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish FAs – this is one of the privileges afforded to the Brits in recognition of having codified and developed the game more than 100 years ago. Personally, I think that structure should be ditched but that’s not relevant right now.

As a preliminary point, I’m not going to say much about goal-line technology. The case for it at the elite level of football is obvious, and the IFAB and Blatter finally realised that they just had to accept it. The only issue now is working out the most suitable technology. But beyond goal-line technology, what could improve the game?  Here are my thoughts:

Sin-binning:

Field hockey does it. Ice hockey does it. Handball does it. Both forms of rugby do it. So why not football? How often do we see a soft yellow card awarded and a little while later for there to be another incident, perhaps more deserving of a yellow than the first, but which means the referee has a dilemma; should a second yellow be given, with the consequence that the player and his team would suffer the disproportionate punishment of losing a player for the rest of the game? Or should the incident be ignored, despite it meriting punishment beyond a free-kick? Then there are the cynical offences, where a player takes a yellow for the team, knowing that there is no real consequence for illegitimately blocking an attack, tripping an opponent etc. And what about all the abuse handed out by players to each other and referees? Referees seem to feel helpless in the face of the tirades of expletive-laced whinging, obviously fearing that in applying the rules literally they would make matches a farce.

The answer to all of these problems and more is obvious: have a sin-bin, so that players can be appropriately punished; a bit like Goldilocks’ porridge, the punishment needs to be not too much, not too little, it needs to be just right. And removing players for five, ten or fifteen minutes would seem to do the trick.

The IFAB looked at sin-bins in 2009, but rejected the idea, without deigning to explain the reasons. The reason for the rejection might have had something to do with their quaint obsession with having a single body of rules that applies at levels of the game, with a view that sin-bins wouldn’t work on Hackney Marshes etc. That seems to be changing with the goal-line technology debate, so perhaps the IFAB will eventually get round to looking again at sin-bins.

Changing the throw-in:

Any Orcs reading this will be laughing at this point: typical whining southerner, complaining about Rory Delap’s missiles. In fact, I don’t criticise Delap or Pulis, they were just clever enough to spot a way of exploiting a weakness in the rules. But those missiles should not have a place in football. They are a device to get around what the game is actually about, i.e. controlling and using the ball without the use of hands. And they are based on an idea of creating chaos and feeding off the opportunities that come from that chaos. I don’t see that as being something that should be encouraged.

So how about changing the throw-in action, to make it harder to launch missiles? Instead of the thrower getting the leverage of taking a run-up and taking the ball all the way behind his head, make it done from a standing position and with the hands going no further back than the top of the thrower’s head. That way the thrower’s range will be much more limited, and it would encourage real football.

Reform indirect free-kicks:

Isn’t it annoying when a rapid attack is ended by a defender’s foul, the net result of which is that the offending defenders get the chance to regroup while the attacking team gather for the indirect free-kick? Why should the team that has had a player fouled be the one that loses the advantage?

I reckon football should follow hockey, which a few years ago allowed a player taking a free-hit to pass to himself. That means that player can immediately drive into space, since he doesn’t need to wait for his teammates to gather. Opponents that are within five metres can’t challenge or get in the way of the player that has taken the free-hit in that way, else they get sin-binned. This gives the team that has been fouled a real advantage; it creates chances to exploit space to greatest effect. It also means that there’s less complaining at referees, since the priority for the fouling team is to get into defensive position before the opponent drives into space.

Those are my suggestions. Do you have other ideas for improving the game, whether taken from other sports or not?

Written by 26may


Van Persie …….. he signs when he wants?

August 4, 2012

I am quite surprised to still find Arsenal supporters who actually believe that van Persie was serious when he wrote that he was not going to renew his contract because he wanted to go to a club where he would win trophies.

Although, I am not 100% convinced that he personally wrote or even endorsed the piece that everyone refers to on the web site that bares his name; I do think on balance that we have to believe it because, quite simply, he has never denied it. Either way, one indisputable fact remains and that is that he has not signed a new contract but in my view it is absolute tosh that the trophy thing is the real issue.

The idea that you are going to automatically re-sign to Arsenal is naïve to the point of being childish.

Put yourself in his and his family’s shoes and the truth jumps out at you. You are 29 you have one last chance of securing yourself a long contract. Given this back drop, 99% of adults with half a brain would shop around, which is exactly what Van Persie is doing right now and if a club offer him a 5 year deal; well, he is going to take it in the same way as Vieira did at Juve.

There is a further similarity between these two players as it raises the same question then with Vieira as now with Van Persie: do Arsenal really want to keep the Dutchman? Well, they didn’t want Vieira enough to match Juve’s five year offer and I don’t believe that Arsenal would be prepared to commit to having to pay van Persie with his injury record for a further five years.

On a side note, has anyone else noticed how we have formed an unlikely alliance with manu over the potential purchase of  RvP. What I mean is that it has suited both sides to let this rumour continue.

There is no way in the world that manu are going to push the boat out for a 29 year old injury prone player with the resale value of a two week old fish. But, to their naive fans that have their heads buried in the sand like ostriches trying desperately to deny a new footballing financial world exists; a world in which they are dwarfed by city and have no more financial clout than we do. Ok, so they probably realise they have dropped in the pecking order to City but there is no way they are ready to accept spending parity with us. To the average manu fan the possible purchase of RvP gives the impression that they are on a higher financial rung than we are which with their annual interest payments is nonsense. What we get is that manu’s involvement will drive RvP’s price up.

When this manu interest evaporates as could other clubs interest in him then Van Persie may well stay but it will have nothing to do with winning trophies, it will be all about taking the best offer on the table.

He’s Robin van Persie he signs when he wants.

Ok, that bit probably gave away the fact that I still have a soft spot for Sir Robin and it would take no more that one swim around the goldfish bowl for me to forget all about the nasty stuff and welcome him back with open arms.

Did anyone else do this? When I read that he was not going to sign a new contract one of my first knee jerk reactions was to zap my favourite game of last season – Chelsea away.

You remember, Terry pretending that he fell over to mask his lack of speed and RvP running on to score. I thought at the time of zapping that there is no way I could watch that game ever again – but now I am starting to think, what happens if he stays? Has anyone else got that game recorded because I am really going to have to come round someone’s house to watch it again?

Written by LB


Benchwarmers to Gamechangers

August 3, 2012

One of the most difficult things for Arsène Wenger over the last couple of seasons has been looking over at his bench and asking himself just who he could bring on to change the game.

To be fair to Arsène this wasn’t a problem in the early days of his reign he had a first eleven so much better than the rest of the Premier League that when he turned to his bench he was looking to give a rest to the players who had already put the game out of sight.

In the last few seasons as the rest of the Premier League has improved and teams have adapted their game to keep Arsenal at bay he has needed a bench to change the game. Unfortunately due to injuries, want away homesick players, greedy mercenaries and a very tight budget from the Board Arsène  has only been able to look round and see a mixture of youngsters or capable squad players, and none that could be seen as a gamebreaker. Admittedly over the early winter months he could look across to see Thierry and Arshavin and hope they could provide something.

Obviously not every player on the bench is there to change the game, you need one keeper, one defender and maybe two utility players. But then you still have three berths, and unfortunately for the majority of last season we had nothing different sitting on the bench than was already on the pitch, they just had slightly fresher legs (unless the legs belonged to a short Russian) . We had a lot of carbon copies, or players out of form, or players who were not as good as those starting the game. In truth most of the bench was there to only be broken in case of emergency.

But what about this coming season, have the transfers done so far plus the players returning from injury given us anymore from the bench? Whether we lose Van Persie or not the signings we have made already and the further development of the younger players means that Arsène will be able to turn to his bench and actually see players that can change the game, or offer something different to those already on the pitch.

In midfield we will be able to choose a starting three from Arteta, Rosicky, Ramsey, Song, Wilshere, Coquelin, Frimpong, Diaby and maybe Eisfield too.

Up front we will have a starting three from Podolski, Giroud, Gervinho, Walcott, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Afobe, Miyaichi and maybe even Van Persie and Arshavin.

If we start Podolski, Giroud and Walcott up front Arsène can look over and decide more pace is needed so send on Ryo or Gervinho, or more shots from distance, chuck on Ox.

The same in midfield if starting, Song, Arteta and Rosicky, Arsène can stick Coquelin on for Rosicky if he wants to keep possession, or swap out Arteta for Frimpong if he wants some high energy and to get in the opposition faces, or even put Diaby on for Rosicky if he wants to make another substitution in the next ten minutes.

Even though we have only added a couple of players to the squad so far (if reports are to believed this will be a few players by the time you read this) we seem to have the bench to make Arsène’s life a little easier when he is looking to change the game.

So what do you think, does our bench look better this year than last?

Gooner in Exile