Arsenal: Tight Fisted Scrooges or Profligate Wastrels?

July 31, 2017

The Emirates Cup was a strange mixture of youthful carefree enjoyment in a deeply satisfying and fun filled first game against Benfica, and an inhibited and surprisingly chaotic lurch into the tippy tappy football of the older more experienced players who did not appear to gell in the second game.

It would be pointless to read too much into the games with many different variables conflating to make it impossible to predict what will be the strongest team that AW will put out for the start of the season.

We meet the Chavs, again, next weekend in the pre-season FA Community Shield, with donations going to the Grenfell Tower support fund, a worthy cause.

The problem is that Chelsea gave a very youthful Arsenal team a bit of a pasting 3 : 0 in an earlier pre-season, so-called friendly, and now they will look to go into the new season on a high by repeating the dose at the weekend and in doing so have the opposite effect on our lads.

So what can we make of all that? Well to start with we had several players making appearances in the Ems Cup who may, or may not, be sold on or let go this summer. Confusingly we also had players who played who are looking to leave us, although the manager has resolutely maintained that every one of them, including the ‘flu stricken one, and his dog, will stay, come what may.

All I can say to that is …… hmmmmm?

The stance by Arsene is at least a gamble, because keeping players who are disillusioned with the club, or who are mendaciously wanting to stick their snouts deeper into the money trough demanding increases to their already sky high salaries is risky because angry employees, and they are only employees, cannot be relied upon when the going gets tough.

An interesting side note is that if we keep Sanchez (boo, hiss) and Özil (brilliant but spasmodic) and the Ox (excellent – in patches) then at a market guesstimate, of £60m + £60m + £3om the club stands to ‘lose’ £150m.

Does that ‘don’t care’ attitude sound like the club, or Wenger? Experience tells me no way, José.

Then there were those playing like Chambers and El Neney and Ospina and Giroud and Le Coq who were heavily rumoured to be playing their last games for the Gunners – although we all know how much bollix is spouted through bloody rumours.
What was the point of playing them – if the rumours were accurate?

To cap that, we had oodles of Tyros, young wannabees playing at the tender ages of 17 to 20, many of whom like Reiss Nelson and Joe Willock and Nketiah and Maitland-Niles were making a good fist of their chances to impress the manager – but frankly for all their skill, energy and enthusiasm have not got Chas’ cats’ chances in hell of playing in anything but cup games next season.

Confused? Me too.

Then there is the other side of the club, or Arsene, (indistinguishable?) we spent what seemed to be weeks negotiating the purchase of La Caz, and that tactic revolved around bidding the lowest figure possible, having it rejected and increasing the bid incrementally.
Look it is a seller’s market – ask them what they want – evaluate it and pay it or leave it.
But no – this is the parsimonious side of deal making and it is ineffectual.

Lesson learned? Nope. We are allegedly trying to buy Lemar a very highly rated young midfielder – and blow me down — the same ‘negotiating’ tactic is being used with the lowest, and most implausible bid offered to start with, which predictably gets refused and is currently creeping up in incremental bands.

These club owners are mostly already billionaires – they are not billionaires because they are stupid. They will say what they want – give it to them or gracefully walk away, and stop getting our hopes up.

There we have it – two sides of the same coin – prepared to blow £150m on a year’s worth of playing time from three reluctant if not recalcitrant ‘stars’ who are not for bending, but then farting around over £5m or £10m for Mr Lemar, a player many of us believe is essential for our chances next season – and that defies logic.

So, what is it? Parsimonious nitwits, or profligate spenders throwing good money after bad?

If the various rumours and leaks are mostly correct in these cases, I would sell SOO for £150m (you work it out) – sell Chambers, Giro etc for £50m (if that is what the powers that be have decided) and reinvest that dead £200m into completing the deal for Lemar and then buying at least two others to stiffen the spine (as we pundits call it 🙂 ) at CB and CF and hey presto we are in good shape – if not I will blame Terry. 😀

Written by Zee


The Ups and Downs of Arsenal

July 28, 2017

This is the time of the year when Arsenal, and every other club, seem to be caught in the footballing equivalent of the doldrums, once the bane of every sailing ship known to man, where a relatively calm period occurs out of nowhere, and during which time no wind has the temerity to stick its nose in, and indeed prefers to disappear like ice cream in a hot oven, trapping sailing ships for lengthy periods lasting days, weeks and sometimes months, where for what seemed an eternity to their crews – nothing happened.

The transfer window is the fans version of the fabled doldrums, where during a tedious and seemingly never-ending period, dozens of transfer rumours are offered up by the media and many blogsites, on a daily basis, and then roundly condemned and ridiculed as nonsense by the very same blogsites and sports media who started the stupid stories running in the first place.

Then just to give us a short break, these same rumour mongers announce stories, designed to add more click bait to bolster their media and blog site advertising revenues, they feed us cute stories which are hard to prove, or disprove, as falsehoods often are. The trick here is to base the rumours on stories with just a smidgeon of possible truths, and embellish them with wild abandon and make them into something far more juicy.

Instances of this are: Injured Cazorla out until February 2018 – Lucas disgusted with Wenger for pinching his #9 shirt and giving it to someone else – Wenger bids €100m for Mbappe – and then these gems are swiftly followed up by: Cazorla trains with team, back soon – Lucas to leave for more game time – Wenger denies making any bid for Mbappe – and away we go, with fans pointlessly arguing for or against whichever nonsense proposition catches their eye.

And still the transfer doldrums bear down, trying to suffocate us with their mediocrity.

But wait – from out of left field the clubs decide to join in and titivate our sensibilities by entering the spirit of this nonsense and allegedly willy-nilly start to offer kings’ ransoms for this player or that.

Not your boring common or garden £80m or £100m offers for a striker, or two, obviously, but €200m for Neymar or Mbappe (yes him again) and we all laugh holding our bellies, and scoffing at these crazy stories, until, in keeping with this cornucopia of scrumptious jelly and cream La La Land make believe, the reality squirts out from the asshole of the transfer window – Citeh sign Walker – yes that Walker – from the Spuds, for £55m – now that is both unbelievable and incredible, and shows reality can outshine even the most fanciful banality. Yee Gods.

Any sense of reality just evaporates with that news – but hold on, one of the blogsites today insists that Wenger is still in the hunt for Mbappe. Who could credit that? Tomorrow – Wenger denies bid for Mbappe – and off we go again.

I am on record in saying the transfer window should start after the season ends, and finishes on the 31st July – but I am not so sure. Much as I am consecutively annoyed, intrigued, baffled or sneer at these farcical stories, they do actually give me something to fill the doldrums betwixt the ending of one season and the start of the new one – so let the good times roll.

What say you? 😂

Written by Zee

All Aboard the Transfer Merry-Go-Round

July 24, 2017

What is going on with these transfer bids — and rebids?

A juicy rumour appears out of nowhere linking Arsenal to a player we can all see is exactly what the team need – you know you have seen those tidbits many times – right?
Then the next snippet comes out saying ‘club x’ refuses the bid.

Umm? Usually in short order another juicy morsel floats across the screen saying that ‘Arsenal make an improved offer for player x’ and we await with baited breath for the news that the offer has been accepted and the player to eventually be unveiled at the Emirates.

Except the media swiftly announce with unseemly glee that the new super dooper improved offer has been rejected, too.

That normally cues the delightful blogger rants about tight fisted Arsenal, or dithering AW, or …. Well you get the drift. So, what is really going on?

The above sequence is, of course, made worse by the news that Madrid or Chelsea or Manure or Citeh have smartly collared various top class (and some not too top class) players who will almost certainly improve their squads and simultaneously reduce our chances of winning the premier league.

It is clear that Arsenal are intent on buying new players and have already shown that by spending around £52m on La Caz, but seem to have run into trouble when making offers for Lemar and others, which has increased the fans’ frustration – and let’s be honest the Arsenal fans’ frustration does not take much to be unleashed.

Back to the earlier question; ‘what is really going on?’

Allowance has to be made for the media’s eagerness to invent stories to boost their ‘hits’ and many of the stories of various players that Arsenal have been linked with are absolutely and self-evidently untrue.

However, there are other stories that are so detailed that even the most cynical are led to believe there is some truth in them, no matter how unlikely.
Take for example the stories about Mbappe, and the very detailed news about how much we have offered for him, and the improved offers after the seemingly inevitable rejection and the ‘facts’ that other clubs are also interested or have lost interest in him and so on and so forth.

Like a juicy worm attracting a fish, with the fatal hook artfully concealed, the Gooner fans are drawn into believing that there is something intriguingly possible about this story and fatally their hopes are increased that a super talent is to be ours, only for Arsene to reveal in an interview that no bid has been made for Mbappe, let alone an increased bid, and none will be made as he is sure the youngster will either stay with his club or join one of the Gulf state clubs, Citeh, PSG, or a Spanish club, and you could hear the hopes of the fans crash to the floor.

Leaving aside the manipulation of the media and some copy cat blogs, there must be something else going on, because Arsenal’s campaign to buy La Caz ambled through much the same type of bid-rejection-increased bid- rejection-successful bid before agreeing personal terms with our new centre forward.

On to Lemar, our much desired target, wanted to perhaps replace Santi Cazorla, and we see much the same process being enacted, if the rumours are true in this case.

Why do we need to struggle so much to arrive at the willing buyer/willing seller scenario so that we can acquire the player? Are we really being financially mean? Is Mr Wenger really dithering by being undecided as to whether we need Lemar – or should it perhaps be Mahrez? Oh, why can’t Wenger just simply agree to pay whatever the amount the other club are asking for the player from the outset. After all is said and done (again) they have the power in these circumstances, don’t they?

Now this, I think, is where many of the club’s detractors, and of course Wenger’s too, simply overlook a simple and obvious fact – the majority of the top clubs, and some of those in the second tier, from whom we want to buy relevant top players, are owned by incredibly rich men, known as oligarchs for a good reason, or bottomless money pits, known as state-owned clubs, and we all know who they are, simply do not need the money, however much is offered.

The only way these mega rich clubs will sell their players is if they have a vested interest in doing so – the manager does not see the player fitting in with the team selection or style — the player and the manager do not get on – the player is not getting as much playing time as he wants and is agitating for a move – and so on.

So, these stories of bids and rejections and improved bids are unlikely to be true – it is more than likely a club has to register an interest in a player they want to buy, and wait to see if his club makes its mind up to sell – and letting the other clubs and the player’s agent know, and then sit back and await the club who are prepared to match their transfer valuation and meet the player’s personal terms, while they go through the same process to recruit a replacement.

Financial meanness or dithering do not come into it, so those people giving the club or the manager grief should take a breath and give them, and him, a break. It’s not transfer money that is key here – even £200m for someone like Neymar is just petty cash to these ultra-wealthy club owners – the key is, they will only sell when and if the player is deemed to be no longer of benefit to them.

There are always wheels within wheels in these things!

Written by Zee

Arsenal v Western Sydney Wanderers

July 15, 2017

Lacazette has a new Arsenal striker competitor up front….

…from Per Mertesacker. Thats right, after a fantastic, stand out performance in the FA Cup final, it took Per only 4 minutes to get on the scorers sheet.

courtesy of the Arsenal Gentleman

Welcome to the land Down Under Arsenal. And a great start to the tour with Lacazette also finding the back of the net.

We now turn our attention to how Arsenal will fare in their next game against the Western Sydney Wanderers on Saturday night.

But first a bit of background before kick-off

Two of the biggest exports of Australian football to the EPL were Mark Viduka and Mark Bosnich. Both with Croatian backgrounds and both products of the old Australian NSL (National Soccer League) which has been replaced with the new A-League. Another example of this breed of Australian Football export was Tony Popovic and Ante Milicic. Both with Croatian heritage, both played for Australia and in their retirement as players, both becoming key players in the development and success of the Western Sydney Wanderers. Popovic is coach and Milicic was his assistant (he is now assistant coach of the Australian Team).

Tony Popovic played 123 games for Crystal Palace, was an integral part of the Palace defence and became club captain. Tony also played 58 games for Australia. As head coach of Wanderers (Crystal Palace were at one stage chasing him) since the clubs inception and his background as a player in charge of the defence, this Arsenal game against the Wanderers will be a very different one from the one against Sydney FC on Thursday night.

Firstly, the Wanderers are only 6 years old but already boast one of the biggest and most passionate fanbases in Australian Football (the Red and Black Army) and they are the only Australian football team that have won the Asian Champions League on a budget that would make Arsene Wenger cry.

Secondly, Arsenal might feel obliged to throw a game for good will.

Personally I am hoping that Arsene plays a 3, 2, 5 –


Monreal, Per, Kolasinac

Xhaka, Ramsey

Wellbeck, Ozil, Lacazette, Giroud, Ox

Its going to be a great game for football fans everywhere.


Written by VP of Oz

Arsenal in Australia from 1977 to 2017

July 11, 2017

Let’s start with extracts from Wiki and Original 1977 Programme

The tournament was the idea of English entrepreneur Reg Lambourne, Strata Travel owner Tom Lawrence and Red Star Belgrade FC Secretary General Dr Miroljub Stojkovic and consisted of two competitions. The first (also known as Metro 20th Anniversary Tournament) was a straight knock-out tournament in Singapore, and the second was a mini-league in which the top two teams would play in the final. The first trophy was won by Red Star Belgrade (FK Crvena zvezda) and the second by Celtic, and was the last ever trophy Jock Stein would ever lift for Celtic.

  • Celtic FC Latchford, McGrain, Burns, Stanton, McDonald, Aitken, Wilson, Conn, Glavin, Edvaldsson, Lennox, Doyl, Kay (Manager Jock Stein)
  • Red Star Belgrade Stojanović, Jelikić, Jovanović, Muslin, Bogićević, Novković, Nikolić, Petrović, Savić, Sušić, Filipović, Šestić, Lukić (Manager Gojko Zec)
  • Arsenal Rimmer, Rice, Nelson, Powling, O’Leary, Young, Brady, Hudson, Macdonald, Stapleton, Armstrong, Rix, Mathews (Manager Terry Neill)
  • A select XI from the host nation
  • Australia Reilly, Harris, Wilson, Bennett, Williams, Harding, Barnes, Rooney, Kosmina, Ollerton, Sharne, Nyskohus, Maher, Abonyi (Manager Jimmy Shoulder)

Life without Sanchez

July 6, 2017

So before talking about options for life without Sanchez lets just talk about what happens if he stays. Personally I think this is rather easy. He lines up as the left sided of our double number 10’s (with Ozil as 1st choice to the right of centre) behind our new boy Lacazette. That front 3 should have creativity and goals in it and would be exciting to watch. It could be a title defining front 3 in a formation where they all compliment each other. There is also excellent back up to each of the front 3 players.

In essence I hope Alexis stays but this is far from certain and the most recent rumours are of him demanding £400,000pw. This could just be paper talk of course with no basis whatsoever, but if it were true I am giving it the thumbs down. At that point I am looking to get us the best deal, but what is that?

Probably the worst deal would be a straight cash deal with an EPL rival. A straight cash deal would be better with an overseas club. Probably the best deal would be a swap with another big club. If it were Munich could we nab Lewandowski in return? One of our bloggers described Lacazette as a true 9 ½ so could he adopt the left sided 10 role behind a prolific 9 like Lewandowski? Ditto with Aguero. Could that happen?

Both of those latter mentioned deals would still leave us looking pretty strong with a lot of fire-power even without Alexis. Other possible considerations could be Sterling or De-Bruyne but for some reason they don’t appeal to me quite as much.

With all the Sanchez talk there is another player issue that, although receiving some media coverage, is flying slightly more under the radar. We are in danger of losing Alex Oxlade Chamberlain, a player I really like. It is hard to believe that he has been with us since 2011 yet is still only 23 years old.

In many senses he hasn’t had a dissimilar pathway to Sanchez had to their respective 23rd year. The stats for both are not hugely different, where Sanchez was with Udinese to 23. Sanchez has slightly more favourable stats but then I have always maintained that AOC has been a slight victim of covering a multitude of positions, so a significant amount of games would have been in less favourable positions that would allow him to boost his goal-scoring stats.

Sanchez really only started to thrive as a goal-scoring wing forward from his 23rd year when he moved to Barca. It is time to nail down a regular position for AOC or risk losing him. He was excellent at right wing back but I am still not certain this is the position where we will see the best of him. Similarly I don’t think it is the position he feels is really best for him. We have Bellerin, who is excellent there in our back 3 formation, and I am sure we can find other alternative cover there.

I say that if we lose Sanchez then it is time to unleash the Ox. Give him the opportunity that Sanchez had at that same age to show the world that there is a world class left inside forward in there waiting to burst through, one that as his confidence increases in the position is full of goals and pacey attacking intent.

Is it a risk? Some would say yes and that we need to get some big foreign player to replace someone like Sanchez. But there is a risk there as well. Even some celebrated names have historically struggled in the EPL. There is as much risk in any player coming in as there is in one of our own changing to a new role.

Back up would be required, but Welbeck is adept from the left attacking position. We may need to bring another in though. Perhaps a player that can cover this position but could also cover Ramseys more attacking of the central 2 role. I like the look of Lemar at Monaco but I also like the look of the lad Golovin from CSKA that we have been linked with. World of football describes his strengths as dribbling, acceleration, flair and passing. What is not to like? Even better when listing preferred foot their answer was both.

I wouldn’t be unhappy if AW released AOC and just see if at 23 he is primed to become our own English Sanchez. There are no guarantees in football and sometimes you just have to be brave enough to take a chance on a player and put your faith in them.

Written by GoonerB

Arsene’s fantastic Vision of Beautiful Football

July 2, 2017

So, here we are, a year on and openly or sneakily looking at the myriad of transfer rumours flowing around us, not just about Arsenal, but around all our rivals too – who is buying whom, who is asking for the humongously ridiculous salary and so on.

The season finished on something of a mixed bag of results – some terrific football to win the FA Cup at a canter from Chelsea, the Premier League champions, but all culminating in a somewhat disappointing relegation from the fabled ‘top four’ finish, and thus we are relegated to the Europa League, taking the place of the Spuds.

The cockles of the fans heart were warmed by the scintillating finish to the season by the way the team played at the season finale, and the captivating style of total football that was on show for all the world to see.

Where did this performance come from? Was it a one off? Will we treasure it and hold it to our manly chests as we slip back into the old slip slop ways of yore?

Not if Arsene Wenger has his way!

Looking back to last summer, we can remember the constant and probably unfair criticisms of Arsene for his apparently dilatory decisions in not addressing the perceived weaknesses of the team, at least as far as the fans were concerned.

Where is the desperately needed holding midfielder we need, many have asked, seemingly year on year, season on season? Where is the top notch CF we need? And why are our full backs encouraged to frequently desert their defensive duties and hare upfield in support of the attack?
[OK, that last one is not transfer related, but when were fans logical in their complaints?] 🙂

On the face of it, there appears to be a hotchpotch list of gripes that have resulted in the fulminating anger of the fans spilling over from time to time when results have not gone our way, and this has led to many supporters despairing of Arsene ever changing his spots.

The transfer acquisitions made last summer did cheer up the fans by addressing addressing some of the issues, but it did not take long for the moans to re-start after the first game we lost.

The suppurating anger of some fans has not been helped by Mr Wenger appearing to refuse to explain his vision, his strategy and his tactics in a way that would, perhaps, allow everyone to understand better what he is striving to achieve, and to explain his supposed reluctance to caulk over the defensive and offensive holes in his team by buying more suitably qualified players and addressing the long term issues concerning the fans.

Arsene, like many highly intelligent men when they are confronted with the seemingly incomprehensible angst of fans regarding, what appears to him, as a straightforward situation, sometimes shows an inability to understand why there is even a problem, when his vision, motives and methodology are so obvious to him.
Perhaps he needs to learn to use the English colloquialism “What’s your problem, mate?”

The answer, I believe, lies in his vision of the beautiful game. Football, so he advocates, is not broken down into the micro or macro analysis and management of defense and or offense, he really does see the game as being one unified, flowing, seamless whole. To him there is no need to assign specific responsibilities to one type of player or the other, because the whole team should be capable of defending and attacking as one smoothly working unit.

Every Wenger team is expected to play in a certain way — his way — conforming to his vision, and to hell with worrying about the opposition. He wants to win, and win beautifully, by playing football as an art form with each cog of the team working synchronically like a perfectly functioning and exquisite Rolex watch, and stuff the Timex teams which may be acceptable to the other clubs and other fans.

Therein lies the problem. Most fans want to win trophies to give them bragging rights, and it matters not to them if it was the result of a fluke deflection off someone’s ass, or a bad refereeing decision, or playing against 10 men or whatever advantage the Gods threw at them.
A win is a win, is a win, innit?

But maybe Arsene needs to promote and explain his vision to the fans better, and to reassure them that he does indeed want to win trophies, but also to win them in a style that would make them proud to support a club who fostered such a vision of perfection — a vision of playing beautiful footie.

Arsene also needs to appreciate, if he doesn’t already, that every Rolex or Hublot needs to be made of the very best of materials, and to have a thorough annual overhaul in order to hit the amazingly high standards of perfection they lay claim to, and so too does his Arsenal team. Hence the transfer turmoil every summer when defective parts need to be replaced.

Buying the very best players possible for his team, and leaving others to worry about the cost of doing so, is an essential requirement which not only will make his vision for Arsenal more achievable, but also marry up his desires with those of the loyal fans who crave success and would give their unstinting support to this magnificent project if this was the case. But ….. AW does care about the cost, unlike every other top manager – and that leads to its own problems.

There are very many of us who would love to see this man reach his visionary goal, and not appear in history as just another footballing Don Quixote, futilely tilting at windmills, and not just for his sake, but also for the sakes of those of us who have supported Arsenal all our lives, and will do so until the end.

Written by Zee