Franklin D. Roosevelt’s pre-match advice.

September 23, 2012

There is a belief that today will have a big impact on how the season will develop for Arsenal, I understand why but do not agree. This is just a 3 point away game – same as any other. Yes, MC are Champions and rivals and one could say this is a 6 pointer but we have seen teams win the title whilst losing to their direct opposition; consistency is the key to winning the title, ask SAF.

And what is point of the above? Well, it is about pressure, pressure causes fear and fear results in our not playing to our highest level.  Think of the young Theo Walcott. First games he was superb and we thought we had signed the next Overmars, but Theo was too young and impressionable to cope with such expectation and suffered accordingly. Thankfully he has rediscovered some of his youthful verve and precocity, assisted but the new kid on the blocks maturity. Fear messes you up  (I was going to use language Peaches’ mother would have found offensive 🙂 )

Today is not a Championship decider, far from it; a loss to Norwich/WBA will do as much damage to our pretensions. But, of course, we are not going to lose…..

Manchester City: MC come into the game on the back of two tough away games. I thought they played very well against Madrid and were unlucky not to get at least a point, however they were fortunate at the Orcs and we must hope they perform as poorly today. I fear that if both teams play to their maximum potential we will lose. City have a truly stellar team particularly in attack, however there are weaknesses – Maicon or Kolarov are susceptible to pace. Clichy we know is prone to the odd quirk. Sadly, Kompany has proved himself to be an excellent defender – possibly the best in the PL.

€400m buys you a very good side, in fact it buys you the title of Champions. It can buy you YaYa Toure, a colossus of a player, and the will o’ the wisp talents of David Silva. A front line of Aguero, Tevez and/or Dzeko is potent but we have a defence which on a good day can cope with their movement.

Which brings me onto the manager. I liked Mankini, he seems to be a principled man, a deep thinker about the game and he has that wonderful Italian brio, BUT in my eyes the Tevez palaver lost him any kudos he had. How can a manager bend over to a player like that? Pragmatism is one thing, public humiliation another. Would Mr Wenger have given Tevez another chance? Ask Pennant, Bentley, Song, etc etc Diss the Arsenal and you get shown the door – no matter how good you are. Watching Tevez kiss the badge is sickening. If any manager could be arsed to deal with Tevez’s advisors he would be anywhere but in Manchester, but no-one would take the risk of signing a flake, a brilliant footballer but a flake.

Arsenal: Koscielny or Mertesacker or Vermaelen? The playing of BFG midweek would indicate that Mr Wenger will start with Koscielny and TV. That said, Kos has no pitch time and BFG has been superb so far, plus there is a 5 day gap between games. Tough decision and an important one. Will AW risk an attacking midfield or go for a more defensive set up with Coquelin instead of Diaby? Diaby was poor second half in France, but he gives height to the midfield which could be important at set pieces. I would like to see Coquelin but expect to see Diaby 🙂

The full backs pick themselves though I would love to see Santos get a game  – he offers something extra insomuch as he is a better crosser than Gibbs and can play left side midfield.

Should AW continue with The Gerv in the centre or bring back Giroud? Will OG’s aerial expertise trouble the City CB’s more than the pace and unpredictability of The Mekon? The Ox or Theo ?

My team:

The bench is getting stronger as players return from injury. We must hope Don Vito gets through unscathed. Good as Shea is, he is not ready for such a high profile game watched by a billion people.

Just loved this man – a season ticket holder in the West Stand

My hope is that we play our possession passing game and not revert to the second half performance of Tuesday. Should we continue to play as a unit and work hard  in City’s half, we can win this fixture. If we sit back and defend it will be a long afternoon.

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” (FDR Inaugural speech 1933)

COYRRG

written by Big Raddy


#once a gooner always a gooner?

September 22, 2012

I often come across this hashtag on twitter about former Arsenal players. Usually it’s in reply to Cesc or Henry saying something complimentary about Arsenal. Personally I think Cesc should be #oncebarcaalwaysbarca but that’s just me. I’ve always wondered how Arsenal fans make up their minds about which former players deserve our support/love and which deserve our contempt and the ones we could say neutral. Here is a list. Make your own minds up

Dennis Bergkamp

Real name God. Finished his career at Arsenal after signing several 1 year rolling contracts. The most gifted Arsenal player in my limited experience.

My Verdict Always a gooner

Ian Wright

Ian was top scorer for the Arsenal until Thierry took his crown. Since he retired he likes to wind gooners up on talksh*te and says he’s a Millwall fan but I think his heart is in the right place.

My verdict Always a gooner

Tony Adams

“Mr Arsenal” Spent his entire career at Arsenal. Famously said “Remember the name on the front of the shirt and they’ll remember the name on the back”

My verdict Always a gooner

Patrick Vieira

He came from Senegal to play for Arsenal. He was a great player for us but I feel he’s tainted himself working (and tapping up our players) for the northern oilers.

My Verdict Traitor

Cesc Fabregas

Cesc came to us from the Barca academy when he was 16. It was inevitable that he would go back someday. I think his timing was all wrong. Whatever talent he naturally has, Wenger made him the player he is today (and he’s sitting on their bench)

My verdict Traitor

Ashley Hole

He was the best left back in a generation. Was offered 60K PW by Dein but the board objected and would only give him 55K famously making him swerve his car (if only) and go for a secret meeting with Maureen. Still can’t stop talking about us. I get the feeling he’s a bit bitter despite the trophies.

My verdict Traitor

Thierry Henry

Our all-time top scorer and Monarch. Like Cesc, he went to Barca but unlike the Spaniard he’d helped us to win trophies. He got the CL he wanted and dedicated it to Arsenal. Came back last winter and scored the winners against Sunderland and Leeds.

My verdict Always a gooner.

Robin van Persie

He was with us for 7 years, Spent a lot of time injured, had one season without injury and f***ed off. He grew up as an arsenal fan but the “little boy inside him” was screaming Manchester United.

My verdict Scum

There are plenty more but you get the idea:

Eduardo Always a gooner

Eboue Always a gooner

Freddie Always a gooner

Nasri traitor

Gilberto

Flamini

Lansbury

George Graham

Dixon

Seaman

What do you think?

Written by goonermichael


Where does Szczesny stand?

September 21, 2012

I have to say, I have been astounded by some of the recent criticism of our keeper, and not just on the usual self-hating Arsenal blogs. It’s funny how after a short injury, and one poor showing, fans not only jump on one of our guys, but re-write his past history as well.

It’s important to let you all know, I actually have appreciated Mannone for a while now, and think he might have a real future. Maybe a great number 2 for us, or who knows, possibly more. Alot of people wrote him off last year because of one big error. But in pre-season matches, 3 matches this season, and a few that I watched this summer from a couple seasons ago, He appears pretty solid to me. His record on loan is quite good also.

Back to Szczesny. First off, believe me when I tell you that 80% of the comments I’ve read on the blogs this week forgot that he actually gave us the first clean sheet against Sunderland, giving Mannone credit for three, and complaining (after the fact) that Chezzer got the start against Southhampton. But more importantly, talking about his arrogance and attitude. For me, give me a keeper with arrogance (confidence), taking charge on set pieces. With no sign of fear or doubt in his eyes. You know what I’m talking about. Almunia had that look of doubt, even though he tried to hide it. When I see that look, I lose confidence, as I’m sure the teammates do. I believe oppnents also sense it.

Another thing everyone was talking about was Szcsesny’s distribution. Horrible this past Saturday, the worst I’ve seen from him – yes, but everyone is now saying that it’s been a huge weakness in his game. Why don’t I remember anyone mentioning this last season ? Because, although he could be better at this, he’s actually not been bad, and still very young for this level. Good enough for it not to be brought up by the fans who think of him as the number 1 since he took over. Also, something like distribution is certainly not going to be overlooked by Le Professor, more important to our game than most teams.

And someone wisely pointed out here the other day something I thought about his mistake against Southhampton, allowing the goal. That is – I believe he has had a rib injury, which when you go arms stretched out high, leaves sore ribs very exposed to contact, and might have been part of the reason for the mistake. Even if not, it was just one goal in a match where we could afford it. I don’t want to be negative, but in the Liverpool match, Mannone let a header drop right in front of goal, and we were lucky it didn’t cause a problem, as well as not collecting another one higher.

I think everyone, like me, was so disappointed not to get the clean sheets record, that they simply took it out on our Pole. I’m not saying he’s untouchable as number 1, and I love competition, if only to keep the back-up sharp. But, to me, it would take more bad performance before I lose confidence in him. I couldn’t care less about what happened for the Polish team, or what he tweets. For the record- I was rolling on the floor laughing when he tweeted at Ramsey about his golf outfit.. a hilarious joke between friends, slightly irreverent, maybe just better off the internet. But sense of humour is part of team chemistry. If he starts acting like Alex Song, then I will worry.

Lastly, let’s not forget that he played the final few matches last season with a shoulder injury, and the whole season with a very undisciplined defense. Even though many of us suspected that the talent was there in our defenders. We also went through long stretches with players out of position because of four fullback injuries. And again, while so many of us complained about allowing 49 goals last season, only on minor occasions did we have complaints about the goalkeeping. With a number like that, most fans would be calling for the keepers head, yet most transfer window dreamers were only hoping for a strong backup, to keep Szczesny on his toes.

How quickly public opinion changes.

johnnie (jnyc)


Will Arsenal finally fulfill its “Potential”?

September 20, 2012

We’re off to one of our best starts in the Premier League, 8 points out of 12, unbeaten, and only one goal against in the first four games.

Our defence has been very solid, pivoted around exceptionally strong performances by our center back pairing of Mertesacker and Vermaelen. they along with Gibbs and Jenkinson, thanks to the coaching of Steve Bould, have gained a new positional sense, and are stirring up memories of our famous back four.

Before I go overboard I must remind myself that neither Sunderland nor Stoke tried to play offensive football which made our defensive task a whole lot easier, but that’s happened to us many times before and we’ve fallen foul to a sucker punch and had a goal scored against us – so credit is given where credit is due.

The mid-field is pure magic, who could have guessed that a five foot six, two footed Spaniard would make such an enormous difference to our team? Santiago has fitted in better than O.J. Simpson’s glove.

When have we seen a stronger more in depth mid-field? Diaby has a renewed sense of purpose, Arteta is a master technician and seems to thrive in the company of Santi, Ramsey is looking like the player he was developing into, pre Shawcross, Coquelin is a star in the making and we have Rosicky, Frimpong and Wilshere in the wings awaiting return.

What an offensive display we put on against Southampton, simply as good as I’ve seen in 65 seasons – and that is not an exaggeration. Of course I recognize that we played against a defensively weak team – but they were the same team that scared the poop out of the Manchester sides.

Podolski does not just look the part – he IS the part and has improved in each of his games, on Saturday Gervinho put in a masterful display of football – and long may it last. Walcott has to get off of the fence and make a decision on his future. We need fully committed players, i.e. Oxide who gives everything he has in every game.

Giroud will come good, but the longer it takes for him to score the tougher he’s going to find life in the Premier League.

In spite of Saturday’s display I fear for our lack of depth up front, the only other strikers in our squad (until the January 2013 transfer window opens) are Arshavin, Chamakh and under 21’s, so the last thing we need is an injury to one of our main strikers.

Goal keeping has been our Achilles heel for several seasons and our reliance on a 22 year olds confidence level is a tad scary, Mannone has looked like a good replacement and after that we only have Fabianski. It looks like a major omission in not bringing in a top shelf keeper during the summer.

Can we win the Premier League in 2012/13?

Even though I have very positive vibes about our team and our performances I feel that lady luck, and good refereeing decisions, will play a huge part in our fortunes this season.

Injuries to our strikers could hurt us badly and shaky goal tending could be our downfall, the type of errors made against Southampton will cost us points against any of the top teams.

Talking about the top teams, who I see as Arsenal, Man U, Man C, Chelsea, Liverpool, Spurs and Newcastle, I fully believe that our games against them will tell a bigger story.

I’ve broken our schedule down into 4 segments to highlight our games against each of them.

During the 1st segment of 10 games (Aug 18th to Nov 3rd) we play Liverpool (won 2-0) back to back games against Man C and Chelsea and then Man U.

During the 2nd segment of 9 games (Nov 10th to Dec 26th) we only play against Spurs.

During the 3rd segment of 10 games (Dec 29th to Mar 9th) we play Newcastle, and then in consecutive weeks, Man C, Chelsea and Liverpool, and finally Spurs.

During the 4th segment of 9 games (Mar 16th to May 19th) we play Man U and then Newcastle on the final day of the season.

So, in a segment sense, our 1st and 3rd segments are critical with the 3rd segment being immense with 5 out of 10 games being against the top teams.

Having the 3rd segment (Dec 29th to Mar 9th) as our most difficult is not all bad as it falls during the winter transfer window (Jan 1st to Jan 31st) which give us an ideal opportunity to bring in new recruits to strengthen the squad.

All in all I feel that a top 3 is our most realistic goal but I would not be shocked to see us win the league – however I feel that a Cup is our most realistic chance of a trophy.

Written by GunnerN5


Gervinho and Podolski clinical finishing saves our day: match report

September 19, 2012

Montpellier 1 – 2 Arsenal

Firstly I should say I got it totally wrong with regards to the team selection tonight. I was convinced that Arsene would prioritise our game against Man City and would give the likes of Podolski, Cazorla, Gibbs and Gervinho a rest, or start them on the bench. He did the opposite by playing his strongest team from the start and with hindsight, despite the fact that most of the aforementioned players appeared to be very tired in the second half – something I was anticipating – Wenger definitely made the right call tonight.

These are the sort of games that can go either way, but I am convinced had we not played our strongest available team tonight we could have easily lost two or even three points, and even then we had to rely on a large dollop of luck to come away from la douce France with maximum points against a very spirited team. Maybe Arsene learned from Man United’s mistakes last year, when they thought they could cruise through their CL group with weakened teams, and ooh how they paid for it! Lol.

In order to qualify in the Champions League, we normally need to win our three home games and get something out of one or more of our away games. It also really helps to start well in order to gain momentum. We managed just about to do that and we should be happy, but our display in the beautifully named Stade de la Masson was far from convincing, and I think we will need to analyse it further properly over the next few days (I have no time tonight to watch the game a second time, so I am afraid you will have to settle for my initial findings and gut-feelings about the game).

I believe that key to it all was our midfield not functioning properly on the night, and especially Diaby, despite no lack of trying, failed to repeat his phenomenal performance against Liverpool two weeks ago. I guess it did not help that he collected a yellow card in just twenty seconds after kick-off, but Abou looked rusty throughout the game: he struggled at times with keeping possession as well as safeguarding the shape of our midfield. Arteta was our rock once again and as usual he put his body and soul on the line. Cazorla had some strong moments, but especially as the game went on, he seemed to disappear for large periods.

As a trio, though, they lacked shape, calmness and composure: we were unable to dominate play in midfield for large parts of the game, and it almost cost us dearly.

 

First Half

Not totally unexpected, Montpellier started the game without any fear and with a clear game plan. From the first minute, they did not allow us to control the game by passing the ball around as we have become so used to again this season. They started with a high line and were keen not to allow us to build up attacks from the back, or even just to pass the ball around towards the midfield. Very often Montpellier committed two players to attack any of our players who were in possession of the ball, and our usually so effective triangles were constantly broken up.

It also did not help at all that our captain, who has been so good at leading by example this season, made an error of judgement after eight minutes, both in terms of taking an unnecessary risk – there was no need to take on Belhanda there and then – and in the execution of his tackle. Diaby’s yellow card and TV’s foul that led to the penalty, which was put away with ooh-la-la cheekiness of the highest order by Belhanda, somehow set the tone for what turned out to be an uncomfortable evening.

Luckily, we were able to convert our first proper chance to level the match, and it only took us eight minutes since we conceded to do so. A beautiful, smooth move through the centre of midfield which had started with Diaby who passed the ball to Cazorla; the Spaniard then found Giroud at the edge of the box, and the ex-Montpellier player managed to put a very good through-ball in to the unmarked and on-site Podolski. The latter had time to pick his spot and fool the keeper in the process, and he showed his experience when he slotted the ball with apparent ease past Jourdren: 1-1, game on!

This appeared to have bamboozled the CL-inexperienced French team, and Arsenal went for the kill once more only two minutes later. And it was another beautifully worked goal. When the opposition is hunting us down and triangles are being suffocated, the only thing that seems to work sometimes, is taking on a player of the opposition and move into the space behind him. Jack Wilshere did this so well against Barcelona in that famous home CL win two years ago, and in Gervinho we have another player who excels in it (and the Ox is not far behind too).

Gervinho made a quick and smooth move to go past a player of the opposition near the right sideline, after which he passed the ball to Giroud. The latter did not manage to reach the ball but it bounced perfectly of the leg of a Montpellier player into the path of Jenkinson. Incredibly, from the moment Gervinho passed the ball to Giroud he sprinted into the box, as you would expect from a typical fox-in-the-box kind of striker. I think it is fair to say that most of us had not pictured him like that! Jenkinson delivered a razor-sharp cross into the box towards Gervinho who, with only a metre between him and the goalkeeper, stayed calm and finished with deadly accuracy: 1-2 to the Mighty Arsenal and it all looks very promising for us again.

However, after going in front we fail to continue controlling the game, even though we don’t give away much either. They simply keep a lot of their players in our half and make it really difficult for us to find our passing game.

The throughout the game very impressive, Cabella, probably had the best chance in the first half for Montpellier with a well-placed, low shot, after a fine run across our box, that just whizzed past Mannone’s left post.

Second Half

I expected Arsenal to start the game a lot more organised and more capable of holding on to the ball, and to be able to dominate the game again. But we were never able to sustain possession and take control again of the game during the second half, which is a bit worrying.

Just after the restart, Diaby had an unfortunate slip in the box, leaving Cabella with a golden opportunity to equalise, but the 22 year old lacked the composure/experience which is so important at this level, and was demonstrated so incredibly well to him by Gervinho, and especially, Podolski earlier in the game. Although, it is fair to say he was simply unlucky when his lovely, bergkampesque attempt to chip Manone hit the bar rather than the back of the net in the 54th minute. I think we might see more of Cabella in the future.

The same lack of composure was shown by the equally promising talent of Belhanda (also 22 years old) late on in the game: after a rare mistake by Mertesacker in the box – at the end of a fine move by Montpellier – Belhanda was left with space and time to take a first touch and pick his spot – he does not keep his shot low to the ground but shoots right at the arms of Mannone, who does well not to panic and keep hold of it. That could easily have been the deserved equaliser for Montpellier, but luckily we escaped once more.

Other than Diaby’s fantastic, surging run from our own half all the way to the penalty box; where he fed the ball to Cazorla who could have done better with his shot on goal, we had very little to offer in terms of our attacking efforts.

In the end we held out and can now move on to the next game. Suffice to say, Wenger and Bould have some work to do with the team, as we are unlikely to get away with a repeat of tonight performance against Man City on Sunday.

Player ratings:

Mannone: I really liked him tonight, even though he did not have to make many big saves. He was calm and oozed confidence: 7.5.

Jenkinson: Tenacious, solid performance and a great cross for the winner: 7.5.

Mertesacker: Really read the game well and was desperate to keep discipline and order in an increasingly becoming disorganised team: 8.

TV: Silly mistake to give the somewhat harsh penalty away, but recovered well after that and worked well with Mertesacker to just about stay in control in defence: 7.

Gibbs: Less dominant and present this game than in previous games. I felt he left TV too often exposed this game: 6.5.

Arteta: Reads the game as well in midfield as Mertesacker does in defence. Another solid, totally committed performance: 8.

Diaby: As per the Match Report comments; below par / too rusty on the night: 6.

Cazorla: Not his best performance this season, but his class still shone through at times. He seemed to disappear a lot in second half: 6.5.

Podolski: He also seemed to disappear a lot in the second half, but took his goal very well when it really mattered: 7.5

Giroud: Great assist for the all important early equaliser and worked very hard all over the pitch. He did not get great service on the night and will feel frustrated not have come close to scoring a goal against his former team: 7.

Gervinho: Instigated and finished fantastically the second goal. Worked hard to help out midfield and defence and was a joy to watch: 8 and my Man of the Match.

Total Arsenal.


Can Arsenal win at Montpellier’s Carrelet?

September 18, 2012

I love the late summer CL fixtures. Warm nights and the opportunity for fans to watch decent football midweek.

Our first game is challenging – playing the French champions even sans OG will be difficult. A compact ground filled with 33,000 fervent fans awaiting  (what I believe will be) their first CL game.

Montpellier: I have to admit to knowing almost nothing about Montpellier HSC. I have been to the town and didn’t even know they had a club! We all know about their fairy tale La Ligue win last season but beyond that? Mbiwa, the captain is much admired and it is unlikely he will be at the club next summer.  Another player known to English fans is John Utaka who was signed by Portsmouth in 2007 for £7m and given a wage of £80k a week …. yes, you read that correctly! More than Theo is being offered in 2012!! You will not be surprised to read that Utaka was signed by a man who has a Rosie account. Montpellier’s most famous ex -player is Eric Cantona – shame he couldn’t make it in the English game.

The night’s talking point will obviously be the return to Stade de la Mosson of Oliver Giroud. It will be a special night for him and I expect OG to mark it with at least one goal.

Montpellier’s form is poor. They have won just one of five games in La Ligue, the latest resulting in a 3-1 loss away to Reims.

Stade de la Masson. Home of the French Chapions

Arsenal: There are so many possible permutations of the team tonight but I will start at the back and with our ‘keeper. Mannone will play due to an ankle injury to TPIG. It would have been interesting to see which GK would start had TPIG been fit.

The Corporal has been outstanding, an astonishing improvement in one so young and inexperienced. He isn’t the finished article yet but he deserves to keep his place. Centre back is not so simple;  Mertsacker is quality but Koscielny is too good to leave on the bench. I would play Kos tonight and Per on Sunday when it is likely Djeko will start.  Despite Gibbs improvement, I would prefer to see Santos start tonight. He is a better crosser (Gibbs must keep practicing) and OG needs something to feed on.

Midfield is also difficult to predict. My choice would be Coquelin, Cazorla and Arteta..  Diaby’s height will be important on Sunday – no risks should be taken with our fragile Bambi – and Coquelin is an able deputy who performed very well on Saturday. However, Ramsey ‘s vibrant substitute cameos are evidence of a player in good form.

Upfront we finally have options. The Ox is likely to be rested having played 2 Internationals and on Saturday. Assuming Giroud starts, The Gerv will not play centrally, so I expect the team to line up like this:

My Team:

And what a  bench….. O-C, The Gerv, Merts, Gibbs, Shea, Diaby, Ramsey.

Mr Wenger usually likes to get the 2nd round qualification achieved as soon as possible and as such I expect him to play our strongest team despite the difficult fixture on Sunday. For once, playing Tuesday will help us.

I was going to write a “where are they now?” feature for this season, it is on the back-burner at the moment but here is a taster. This gentleman is currently living in sunny Malta and owns a pub….

Fashion can make a fool of Heroes

It is hard to know what to expect of Montpellier, they could be excellent and win the group or be whipping boys. A poor start to the season does not mean that Montpellier are a poor team (AFC 2011) and tonight will be one of the biggest nights in the clubs history, they will be playing in front of a full, expectant stadium and be desperate to start their CL campaign well.  Should be a good game.

COYRRG

Written by Big Raddy


Deluded Vertonghen and the Myth of “Arsenal Tried to Sign Me”

September 17, 2012

It’s a brave man who openly defies the word of God, especially when it comes directly from the Divine Being himself.

So no-one can fault Jan Vertonghen for courage.

Apparently when considering his future, the Belgian-born Ajax defender sought – and gained – an audience with the Almighty to ask whether a move to Arsenal or Teetering Horseparts would be the better option.

The Holy Dennis told him, emphatically, that he should not go to the Godless lands of N17. But once he had got up off his knees, we all now know that fearless, Godless Jan chose not to heed that advice.

And what happens to people who ignore the word of God? The Bible has the answer:

“…since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity.”

Romans 28-29

Just turning out in that awful shirt with a skinny chicken balanced on a basketball is almost a perfect definition of “being filled with every kind of wickedness.

Not that I’ve got anything against Vertonghen in particular, other than his choice of club. He seems a decent enough defender, though not in the same class as our own Lion of Flanders.

But I am interested in his need – and that of other players before him – to make a big issue of the fact that “Arsenal wanted to sign me and I turned them down.”

Kevin Mirallas, now at Everton, said something similar at the tail end of the summer transfer window.

I don’t doubt that in their egotistical heads these players believe Arsenal wanted them, so they are not actually lying. But they are misleading themselves – or have been misled by their selling clubs and agents – if they think they were a priority for London’s top club.

It’s the same problem that plagues the news wires all during the summer and winter transfer windows: players, clubs and agents fall over themselves to suggest that Arsenal is “after” certain individuals.

Some of the reports are downright fabrication, often from agents trying to put their players in the shop window. For them, the idea of being linked with a club like Arsenal adds noughts to their player’s value.

But I am equally sure that many of the reports of Arsenal’s interest have a grain of truth to them.

As a club competing at the highest level for the biggest prizes, you would hardly expect us to have just two or three targets and leave it at that. Such an approach would leave us exposed to the whims of players, the machinations of greedy agents and the vagaries of an open market.

Instead, I would imagine we “enquire” about dozens of players. In some cases we may approach a club simply to find out whether, in the future, the club would consider selling a particular footballer; other times we may want to know about length of contract and so on.

The vast majority of these players will never come to THOF, but our club needs to keep across their availability in case other deals fall through or unexpected departures and injuries blight us.

Arsene Wenger’s knowledge of players is legendary and I would bet he has dialogue with other managers about players on a frequent basis.

With the classier outfits these discussions stay secret, but there are plenty of classless people in football, which means many of our vague enquiries are leaked as news stories that we are definitely trying to buy player X or Y.

Returning to the Belgian Blasphemer, you have to ask yourself why on earth we would have made a serious attempt to sign him. We already have three of the best centre backs in the Premier League and our fourth choice (Djourou) is greatly under-rated by many fans who only remember his poor showings at full back last year (if you doubt me, go back and read some of the match reports when he was playing regularly at centre back. I did, and he gets a lot of rave reviews).

Perhaps we wanted Vertonghen as an alternative to Djourou as fourth choice, but that seems unlikely.

Far more probable is that we were keeping tabs on him in case one of our first choice CBs suffered a major injury in pre- and early season.

But with Laurent Koscielny – arguably the best CB in the league last year – currently unable to get a starting spot, Vertonghen – if he was ours – would not even get on the bench.

One last theory (which I kind of like) is that maybe we were making enquiries about him just to annoy the Spuds and to help push up the price they would end up paying for him.

Either way, I do not believe for a moment that we were seriously after Vertonghen, so the idea of him “turning down” Arsenal is all in his head.

Regular readers will know that the sensationalist and often inaccurate reporting of our club’s affairs is one of my big bugbears. The succession of stories claiming as fact that we are trying to sign this or that player fall into this category.

It wouldn’t really matter except that some people – including some Arsenal fans – use these essentially false stories as sticks with which to beat the management and Board.

It never ceases to amaze me how people can whip themselves into such a lather of fury about a supposed non-signing that has been nothing but a fiction all along.

Whip… “We haven’t signed Llorente…” whip… “what does that clown Dick Laws actually do?” whip… “we have no ambition” whip… “we’ll be lucky to finish in the top half this year.”

I suppose it’s a kind of sado-masochism: fifty shades of twat.

Anyway, my point is: please, please don’t always believe what you read even – maybe especially – if it comes from the mouths of footballers who have no reason to wish well of Arsenal.

RockyLives