Carl Jenkinson. A Worry.

December 15, 2016

We do not think much about the travails of the modern PL footballer, we assume that the fame, bright lights, supercars, surgically augmented girlfriends  and vast wealth must make for a wonderful life, and in most cases it seems to – but as with most things this is not the whole truth. Let us look at one of our own, Mr Carl Jenkinson.

A gooner all his life with a dream to play for his club, something all of us have dreamt of but in Carl’s case it became a realty, sadly, not bringing the joy he must have assumed would come from his achievement.

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The Birmingham Mail are reporting that Carl is about to be loaned to Aston Villa in January. Does this herald the end of his Arsenal career? Were a couple of quite frankly piss-poor performances enough to convince Mr Wenger that Carl cannot cut it at Arsenal? Perhaps.

West Ham Bob assures me that Carl did well in his first few games at WHU but towards the end they were delighted that he got injured, such was the negativity surrounding his play. Carl returned and got fit, Boosh was injured, Hector got injured, Carl got his chance, failed, Boosh got 20 minutes and Gabriel was brought in at RB. How will that affect the confidence of a man already questioning his abilities? Not well, one would imagine.

Arsenal are known to have a team of top psychiatrist and motivators, they realise how much stress is placed on young men with no life experience other than being lauded for being excellent at football. Just the fact that 80+% of footballers go bankrupt within 5 years of retirement highlights this naivety. Goodness knows how many succumb to addictions in a futile attempt to fill the gap of the dressing room.

Mental fragility is never discussed about top sportsmen but skill is not enough. In golf, there is something called the “yips”, when a player who has previously been able to putt with astonishing accuracy suddenly cannot. It is a nervous complaint and very, very difficult to remedy; it has cost players their careers. As a team sport footballers have less focus but not much.

Carl’s performance against Southampton when he couldn’t find a pass, completely lost his ability to judge where he should be in relation to the play and continually ran into trouble was reminiscent of the sad day when Eboue ‘s form disappeared. Eboue had the strength of character to resurrect his Arsenal career. Can Jenkinson?

On the AFC website today there is a piece on Jenks coming back from rehab, I could be wrong and Carl may well have a glorious future as Bellerin’s understudy, but I fear for him. Above all I wish him well.


There’s Only One ……

October 1, 2014

First things first……

Congratulations to Mr. Wenger on his 18th Arsenal Anniversary. You do not look like a man who enjoys a cream cake and a bottle of Asti Spumante so instead we will take the cheap route and send best wishes.

What a fantastic ride it has been from the DB10 years, through the TH14 years and now onto the DW23 era. Thank you.

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“I left the Afghan coat in the 2CV”

Right, let’s get onto what will be a difficult game. It would be a tough one had we been on form and given our inability to find cohesion this season  …. yadda yadda yadda.

Galatasary are only in the competition because their city rivals and league champions Fenerbahce were very bad boys and not allowed to play in the CL so the Turkish runners-up took their place.  They like Italian managers and have employed both Mancini and Prandelli over the past season – we can expect a compact, counter attacking team. They have some fine players including the mercurial (read unreliable) Sneijder. In Yilmaz and Pandev they have strikers who will cause problems to our brave lads but as always in CL games at The Emirates it will be the quality of the opposition defence which will determine tonight’s result.

And talking of defensive quality, let’s talk Eboue. Tonight should have seen his return to his real home club but instead poor Emmanuel will be sitting elsewhere. His star has faded in Turkey and as far as I can find out Eboue hasn’t even travelled with the squad. Apparently he has been relegated to the reserves. What a shame. It would have been great to hear “You’ve only come to see Eboue” sung once more at THOF.

Onto The Arsenal. Much is made of our injury record and with good cause. Just a few games into the season and we have already lost 4 first team starters (and Diaby is being rested for tonight 😀 ). It must be hugely frustrating for Mr, Wenger to see his squad depleted year after year. However, as always it gives opportunities for others to shine and a few games for the Ozil/Alexis combo to fire.

With so many midfield and attacking options picking a team is guesswork but  …

My Team:1st october

Hard to leave out Cazorla who is such a marvellous player. Perhaps my line-up is too attacking though Alexis is very good at tracking back and helping the midfield. It will be fascinating to see how the team sets up when Walcott returns in just a few weeks.

Against Spurs Ox had a fine game and I expect him to continue his good form tonight. Last season’s injury robbed him of a breakthrough year; at almost 21 he is on the path to super-stardom and a run of games will convince Mr Wenger that The Ox is undroppable (hopefully!). AW predicted that Ox will be a central midfielder …. we shall see.

I am always loathe to predict a victory but if Arsenal are to progress we have to win tonight. 10 points is the target and given the drubbing we got in Dortmund we cannot assume we will beat them at home (of course we will BR – you doomer), so a win and a draw away plus two home victories will be enough.

A win tonight will set us up for a tough game at Chelsea. It will also give a boost to the fans at the Emirates who are starting to lose the feel-good factor left over from the FA Cup win.

On an Anniversary night Let it be So.

written by Big Raddy


You’ve only come to see Eboue.

August 18, 2011

Who has been my least favoured player over the last 3 seasons? Emmanuel Eboue. Who has been my favourite Gooner of the last 3 seasons? Emmanuel Eboue. And herein lies the conundrum. How could such a likeable man become so annoying when he got on the pitch?

We have had many discussions over the months about the efficacy of Emmanuel; what he brings or doesn’t bring to the team, but no-one has ever questioned his commitment to the cause. He swallowed the whole AFC cake, history, tradition, fandom and obsession. He become the totem at the club when not playing, greeted the players when they left the pitch, was the first to celebrate a goal, he has been a Gooner personified. BUT he was not paid to be a Gooner, he was paid a huge amount of money to be an effective footballer and it is this context that he let us down.

This is the man who invented the starfish – lying on the ground as though hit by a piece of 4 by 2. Staring at the ref, beseeching him to take action against the miscreant who was close enough to Eboue to allow him to dive. simulate. I hated his theatrics. I hated his lack of honesty – it was not and is not the Arsenal way. I also found his lack of end product immensely frustrating – for a man who can beat a player both with pace and tremendous skill, he should have had more assists. He has a wonderful engine, can get from box to box in seconds , can drift past opposition defenders with ease but to what effect? He never learned to cross accurately, find a man in the box, nor shoot on target. To be fair, he did become more disciplined in his last season and perhaps Galatasary have signed a bargain.

I was ashamed to be a Gooner when he got booed off the pitch having been brought on in a position he had never played in previously, no Arsenal player should be humiliated in such a manner that AW is forced to replace him. It was a night of shame for all true Arsenal fans. How did Eboue react? He manned up, put in more effort, more training, made himself popular again. Grounds all over the country resounded to “You’ve only come to see Eboue”, such was his resurrection as a player.

It was typical of EE’s luck that he left the club in the same week as someone else who has been hogging the limelight. Few words have been devoted to his 6 years of loyal service, it is a shame because he deserves so much more. This is not a Nasri whose love for the club can be measured in £’s, it is a man who sweated blood for a club he loves.

Eboue’s AFC career was blighted by injury and it was his ankle rather than his lack of talent that forced AW to sign Sagna as our first choice right back. He played 132 games for us and always gave his all, never hid despite the boo-boys, always played with a smile.

I wish him well at his new club, they have signed a Man, not a spoilt brat but some-one who knows how to overcome adversity with a wide, toothy grin.  Emmanuel Eboue is a clown but he is also a real Arsenal man, farewell and thank you.

Written by Big Raddy


Arsenal Pays The Price For Project Youth …… Twice

June 28, 2011

It is widely acknowledged that the strategy of bringing through young players was the only way for Arsenal to try to maintain their prominence at the top of the Premiership whilst paying for the Emirates Stadium.

It worked brilliantly, mainly due to an exceptional balancing act by Arsène Wenger. We did not flatter to deceive – we deceived, and for 5 years we proved the critics wrong. Managers are often applauded for bring their club up a division; well Wenger’s feat certainly ranks as highly.

I don’t believe the term ‘Project Youth has ever been used by AW or the club and is seen by some as an indictment rather than an accolade, but for the purposes of discussing past and future recruitment, I shall continue to use it here whatever your personal feeling is about it’s efficacy.

Arsène Wenger was the architect of the plan and in truth he was just being pragmatic because he had few other choices. He cites many advantages to bringing through young players together, but it is apparent that his growing frustration in the latter part of last season was due to his disappointment that it had not brought all the rewards he had envisaged.

The sad truth about P.Y. is that there is a sting in the tail. Now that we have established a stable financial model, the team built around Fabregas is beginning to crumble and reinforcements are required.

Herein lies the problem. The wages paid and the erratic performances of some of those players has meant that suitors are not exactly queuing for their services, and when they do, the valuation often falls short of what the club would expect.

From past dealings, it does not appear that Silent Stan is likely to throw 30 million at Arsène for a marquee signing and I doubt the manager would spend it if he did, so the club is in the predicament of either hanging on to players who have disappointed or selling cheaply and therefore reducing the funds available for ‘quality’ replacements.

Arsenal is a top European side who perennially feature in the Champion’s League. We generate vast amounts of money on the pitch and commercially but we play a different game from the other clubs and personally I’d rather buy within our means if SK keeps his promise not to saddle the club with debt. If we had debts like Barca or Manu, I’d be more happy for us to spend money we don’t have – what the hell!!,  but when you’ve trodden one path so successfully for so long, why change?

And so we are in a waiting game. Waiting to see what kind of offers (if any) we will get for the likes of Bendtner, Clichy, Eboue, Almunia and Denilson. Waiting to see who of those we have been scouting are still available if and when we sell. Waiting for Barca to come up with the right offer for Cesc …… which may happen sooner rather than later if  recent reports are to  be believed.

There is a world of difference between selling a player who is no longer wanted in which case the buyer knows he can call the shots; and selling a player who you want to keep. In most cases, you are in the driving seat when you don’t want to sell. Unfortunately, when that player only wants to go to one club, even that advantage is diminished.

I expect Cesc’s departure will trigger the purchase of a replacement midfielder, most likely Ricardo Alvarez, in the same way as Bendtner’s sale will create the funds for the possible signing of Gervinho or A. N. Other striker. Balancing (reducing) the wage bill is every bit as important as finding the money to buy players.

The power lies largely in the hands of others. The clubs we are dealing with know this and it gives them the upper hand. So prepare yourselves fellow Gooners for a frustrating summer. Project Youth was the only choice we had in 2006 and it continues to restrict our choices in 2011.

Written by Rasp


Arsenal’s Smaller Squad in 2011/12?

May 4, 2011

We always say we support any player who dons the prestigious Red & White shirt, but is this really true? In all honesty, what were your thoughts when Mr. Wenger took off Theo on Sunday to replace him with Eboue?  Come on – be honest!

I can tell you my reaction, it was dismay. Not purely as a response to AW’s frustrating habit of trying to defend a lead (more of that another time) but because I really thought I had seen the last of Mr. Eboue in an Arsenal shirt. Following his almost unbelievable gifting of two points to Liverpool and single-handedly derailing our PL chances (OK that is an exaggeration!), I firmly believed his AFC career was over. Clearly Mr Wenger disagrees.

This post is not specifically anti-Eboue, who has given sterling service to the club but sadly is out of his depth, rather it is a glance at why Mr Wenger persists with players who are  not good enough to win us the title.

We have players in the squad who are on huge wages and are clearly not value for money. You know who I mean; there are players on loan who will not make the grade, we have a mass of youngsters who will never earn the kind of wages they are being paid on their current Arsenal contracts and we have established stars who are not earning their daily bread.

Last week Arseblog highlighted the difficulties of selling players who earn wages that lesser clubs cannot match, thus we have to wait until their contracts expire and allow them to leave without a transfer fee – how does this help our situation? All Arsenal’s investment in time, coaching and wages goes to another club for nothing.

Yet this situation has been created by Mr Wenger’s Project Youth and his understandable fear that the quality players will move on if not bound by contract. The Flamini fiasco gave him clear evidence of player power when running down a contract.

Our squad is bottom heavy with too few real world class players and too many players with “potential.” Most AFC fans know the stats, we have one of the cheapest squads yet one of the highest paid. This has to change.

How will AW respond? Will he swallow the losses and sell players in the manner of Man City  i.e. we continue to pay a percentage of their wages. It would stick in the craw but at least they would not be available for selection.

So, will my hopes be dashed by seeing Eboue in our Anniversary shirt or will some kind (and blind) Coach sign him in summer? What has become clear is that AW will not win another PL title with players like Eboue and Denilson in the squad. We need some extensive pruning, and there will be many worried (but rich) players in summer.

Written by BigRaddy


Sunk By Our Former Comrade But Its Far From A Disaster

November 4, 2010

So Eduardo scores against us again!

Not as nice a feeling as last time around. Then we were cruising, had the three points in the bag and it was just a weird added bonus that Eduardo scored. Last night his goal meant we lost and failed to secure the win we needed to progress to the knock-out stages with two games in hand.

It was only a minor blip and not a disaster. I said after the game in London that the Ukrainians were a far better side that what they showed when we thrashed them, that it seemed they were willing to lose at the Emirates and go for the win at home, and so it proved. Of course it would have been nice to go through and let the kids out to play in the last two games, but with a stronger team we can go to Braga and win, and we should definitely beat Partizan at home regardless of the players available.

Once again the defensive worries popped up last night. Young Craig Eastmond had a torrid time of it – he never protected the back four and the game passed him by. He’s a game lad and has proven he’s a decent player, but be it lack of match time or just out of his depth, last night was one to forget for him. The much more experienced Eboue and Clichy have just as much blame, if not more, than Eastmond. Willian made a fool of Eboue time and again down the right, and it lead to Eboue giving away the free-kick that they scored from. Then Clichy foolishly played around with the ball instead of hacking it clear and Eduardo scored the second that proved the winner.

We really missed Song and Fabregas, both as a unit and individually. We failed to really get a hold of the ball and Shakhtar really pressured us and closed the spaces last night. We had a few chances to equalize at the end, most of all from Squidgy but he didn’t connect right with the header.

Not a nice feeling to lose but no need to get worked up – I know I won’t be. We have a massive goal difference on the other sides in the group and its still only a matter of winning one of the two games. Look at it this way – if we won tonight we wouldn’t really mind losing the last two games and letting the kids play, instead we just have to give the grown-ups one more run out to finish the job, its hopefully just prolonging the inevitable – we progress.  We are still top – just have to make sure the Ukrainians don’t pip us for first.

Player Ratings

Fabianski (7) – Thought he did well over all. Couldn’t do much for either goal.

Eboue (5) – Oh dear. Got caught out and had to give away a free kick where he got booked and they scored. Not a good night for EE.

Djourou (6) – Did well enough, got in a few timely tackles but too many gaps appeared between him and Squillaci.

Squillaci (6) – Same as Djourou. Should have done better with the free header.

Clichy (5) – Just hoof the blasted thing Gael.

Eastmond (5) – He kept going and is a earnest young man but he needs to start stamping authority on the game.

Wilshere (7) – Good showing again by Jack but again should have done better with his chance. Couple of way ward passes, still feisty in the tackle.

Walcott (7) – Terrified them with his pace for a while and then that avenue was plugged. What a turn of pace for the goal and cool as you like finish.

Rosicky (6) – Did a lot of donkey work and linked as usual but not as effective as we are used to.

Nasri (6) – Involved in all our play and tried to get us moving forward, couple of bad decisions in and around the box though.

Bendtner (5) – Not match fit. Didn’t play much of a part.


2010 Arsenal Embarrassed ……. what went wrong in 2005? – written by RockyLives

September 27, 2010

Last night I typed “Arsenal+Embarrassed” into Google, limiting the search to the previous 24 hours. The number of hits was 31,500, which just about says it all.

I don’t want to join the stampede of condemnation that followed Saturday’s result and I do not subscribe to the theory that our season is over before it’s begun, but I’ll admit to being spooked.

It would be great to put it down to a bad day at the office (the sort of bad day where you realise too late that you forgot to put your trousers on before leaving home), but the flaws we displayed had the whiff of déjà vu all over them. And that’s not the name of a new perfume from Victoria Beckham.

Familiar failings were on display, but when did they become familiar? At what point did the Rolls Royce Arsenal of Doubles, trophies and unbeaten seasons give way to today’s version: a flashy Lamborghini with a dodgy carburetor?

Looking back through recent history a lot, to me, hinges on the group of players who arrived in 2005.

In the year from January 2005 to January 2006 the following players came into our club:

Emmanuel Eboue

Nicklas Bendtner

Armand Traore

Alex Hleb

Abou Diaby

Emmanuel Adebayor

Alex Song

Theo Walcott

Vito Mannone

Mart Poom

We have had good and bad players before and since but there is a certain malaise that seems to affect the 2005 intake and I would love to know the reason.

Leaving aside Mannone and Poom, who are bit-part players, the others, to a greater or lesser degree, share certain failings that have frustrated the supporters and affected results:  lack of focus, lack of awareness, inability to concentrate, bad decision-making and what might be summed up as a lack of pure class.

The likes of Diaby, Walcott, Song, Hleb and Adebayor have looked like world beaters one game and panel beaters the next.

Of the bunch you would have to say that Adebayor was the most successful because he had one good season, and that Theo should be cut some slack because of his age and because he is now (hopefully) beginning to show signs of turning into the finished article.

But the rest – particularly Diaby, Eboue, Traore and Song – have shown a maddening lack of consistency. They can be amazing one minute (Diaby away at Villa anyone?) but on their bad days they seem to lack effort and a sufficient degree of football intelligence.

In fact, with their repeated inability to pick the right option they don’t feel like Wenger players at all. Arsene has always loved players who read the game intuitively – think Vieira, Petit, Pires, Fabregas, Ljungberg and others too numerous to mention.

Of the 2005 batch even Bendtner (whose work rate and effort is beyond reproach) is hampered by what can only be described as a certain lack of class, evident in his poor touch and poor decision-making.

For what it’s worth, I think that in 2005 Arsene took his eye off the ball when it came to transfers.  The sheer scale of the job involved in moving to the Grove must have been all-consuming (it has been reported many times that Arsene pored over every little detail of the new stadium). Added to this was the knowledge that money would be tight for several years to come. Somewhere in all this I believe he did not give the job his usual focus and ended up signing players he would not have signed today.

Of course that could be 100% wrong. Maybe the 2005 intake have struggled because they arrived at the transition point from a great team to a merely good one and could not cope with the expectation and pressure.

Or maybe, joining a team that had so recently been Invincible, they thought success would come automatically to them without having to sweat every drop of blood to achieve it. To use an in-vogue word, maybe they just felt entitled. Up-and-coming players previously at the club, like Cesc and RvP, had had the chance to live and play alongside the Invincibles and, one assumes, to imbibe a sense of what it takes to be the best.

Whatever the reason, our midfield against West Brom had three of the boys of ’05 in it and the failings that have become the trademark of that group of players were evident.  Many of our worst performances of the last few years have led to members of this group being castigated by fans.

Of the outfield players who arrived in 2005, Eboue, Bendtner, Diaby, Song and Walcott are still with us and Traore is out on loan. Who knows, they may end up being instrumental in bringing us silverware, but I’m not banking on it. I‘m putting my faith in the ones who have come after: Wilshere, Ramsey, Nasri, Chamakh, Arshavin, Rosicky, Vela and the rest.

RockyLives