Cesc: “Only Arsenal for me”

September 22, 2018

Just as Aaron Ramsey’s contract runs out at the end of this season, Cesc Fabregas’ contract at Chelsea does, too. Now aged 31, would you take Cesc back at The Home of Football? Some have even suggested recently that they might prefer Cesc to Aaron.

Rocky wrote this in May 2013 amid speculation that Cesc might join the Moyes revolution at Old Trafford and it turned out to be the most, or one of the most, popular AA posts of all time. Easy to see why, cheers Rocky. 

We are used to reading rubbish in the silly season, but one story this summer really takes the biscuit.

I’m sure I wasn’t the only one to guffaw over my cornflakes when I read the “Fabregas to Manchester United” stories that are doing the rounds.

At this time of year most transfer-related stories smell of fabrication and are written purely to fill column inches or garner online hits. But even in such company, the Cesc-to-Manchester-United fantasy really does stink the place out.

Before I explain why, let’s just remind ourselves of this quote from Cesc himself, shortly after he departed for Barcelona: “Apart from Arsenal and Barcelona, I don’t see myself playing anywhere else. I will definitely be going back (to Arsenal) whenever I have time to watch games and to see the guys… and if there is one place to go back to (to play), it is Arsenal for sure.”

Cesc was abundantly clear then that he would only return to the Premier League if it was to play for Arsenal.

Of course you might say (and with some justification): “Why should we believe the words of footballers? They are always quick to spout loyalty to a club then equally quick to demonstrate loyalty only to their wallet.”

It was about 18 months ago when Cesc gave the interview from which I have quoted and yes, it’s possible he could have changed his mind since then.

But – unlike Brave Sir Robin and the Fat French Benchwarmer – he is not a player known to be driven by greed (he even took a pay cut to join Barcelona).

However, there are other good reasons why Cesc to ManUre will never happen:

Firstly, why would a world class player join a club that is quite clearly at the high point of its “arc of success” and is about to start slipping down the far side?

United have been good enough to run away with the English Premier League this year, but no-one believes they are a great team. Meanwhile, in Europe, they have fallen even further behind the Continent’s powerhouses than they were when humiliated by Barcelona in the CL final in 2011.

Most perceptive observers believe that United over-achieved in the season just past and were helped by mismanagement and upheaval at Manchester City and Chelsea.

Secondly, one of the reasons for a top player joining United has long been the draw of old Mr Scarlet Proboscis himself: Sir Alexander Chapman Ferguson (you didn’t know his parents gave him a middle name honouring a great Arsenal manager, did you?).

But Cyrano de Fergerac is no fool. He will always have wanted to bow out a champion and not a loser.

Having won the title this year, he undoubtedly surveyed the medium term prospects for his club and his playing staff and did not like what he saw.

He knows that, with their current squad, United will face a real struggle to hold on to their title next year and he also knows that without spending a hundred million pounds or more (which United cannot afford) they have no chance of competing with the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich.

Quite sensibly, he celebrated the title win and exited stage left.

So now any superstar thinking of joining the red half of Manchester has to consider the fact that they will be playing not for the most decorated and successful EPL manager of the last half century. Instead they will be lining up under some bloke from The Simpsons.

The idea of Cesc Fabregas agreeing to play under David Moyes is simply laughable.

Thirdly, if Cesc does want to return to the EPL and if, for some reason, he reneges on his assurance that he would return only to Arsenal, his destination is far more likely to be Manchester City than Manchester United.

The Northern Oilers are likely to be entering the new season under the stewardship of the highly respected Manuel Pellegrini – a much more attractive proposition for international stars than David Moyes. And, of course, for City money is not an issue.

Finally, it was widely reported that we have first option on Cesc if he wants to leave Barca. Do you really think we would not snap him up again given the chance?

So, having (I hope) properly put to bed all the nonsense about Cesc-to-United, there is one Huddlestone in the Room that needs addressing: would we – the supporters – want Cesc to return to The Home of Football and step out again in the colours of the mighty Arsenal?

I have seen comments in Arsenal Arsenal recently with differing views on the subject.

For me it’s a no-brainer. Cesc Fabregas is one of the greatest footballers ever to have played for us. If we can get him back he can only improve us. And his return at a time when we are leaving the period of austerity (during which, let’s remember, he was instrumental in helping keep us even vaguely competitive while the club spent NOTHING on net transfers) and about to enter a new era of competitiveness could be the spark that really pushes us to domestic and European glory.

Do you agree?

Written by RockyLives

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Things we Learnt from the weekend

September 17, 2018

When Lucas Torreira was bought from Sampdoria, a clause was inserted in the sale agreement which would trigger large additional payments if he started a League game before Christmas.

Auba doesn’t appear to like his left wing duties and didn’t look best pleased when substituted.

No-one really knows what happened at half-time at St James’ Park. Torreira came on as sub for Guendouzi, but that still doesn’t explain how virtually every other player came out of the tunnel with a spring in their step, at least two yards quicker and with a desire to actually play some football.

The Ramsey/Ozil conundrum becomes more complex, unbalancing the side with both vying for the same free role.

Sokratis, while not quite in the Usain Bolt category, has not been taking sprinting lessons from the BFG. Catching and dispossessing  Newcastle’s speedy youngster, Murphy, was no mean feat for our Kalamata Colossus.

Sokratis gleefully runs to celebrate our second goal with the rest of the lads

Our next League opponents, Everton, were finally beaten having drawn three and won one of their opening four games. The hammers rode their luck and took chances to make West Ham Bob’s weekend. Jack is back in the sick bay with an ankle knock.

Liverpool and Citeh look strong but the chavs have somehow managed to keep pace by hook or by crook. Burnley are in an early season swamp, as are Newcastle.

The analysis around the spuds defeat centred around Pochettino having a bad game. Is he getting homesick and looking at Spanish weather forecasts with an envious eye? Let’s hope so. 🙂 (yep, I realise he’s Argentinian – his birthplace is called Murphy!)

chas


Toon dooned by a Xhaka boom

September 16, 2018

First Half

Nothing happened. Hopes (and fears) for a deluge of goals were battered on a sea of directionless football from both sides. No shots on target, virtually no shots. Duller than a day trip to Sunderland.

Second half

Another half time sub, presumably a firework or two tactically inserted and a different Arsenal emerged for the second period. The ball suddenly became an important ingredient in the footballers’ toolkit. Torreira injected an urgency and positive momentum that the first 45 had totally lacked.

Ozil and Ramsey, instead of looking like Arsenal’s equivalent of Lampard/Gerrard, started to enjoy finding each other. Every player looked hungry for the ball and keen to find space for a pass when not in possession.

Auba was fouled a few yards outside the area and it looked as though Torreira had decided he fancied a pop. Lo and behold, Granit produced a peach and Arsenal’s first goal direct from a free kick for donkeys. Beauty.

The whole red and white machine was suddenly infused with extra confidence and a second looked likely as Toon heads dropped. Mesut passed the ball into the net 10 minutes later after a blocked effort from Laca and that looked to be enough to see off the demoralised barcodes.

Arsenal, being Arsenal regardless of who the manager is, still managed to give us all kittens in the final 5 minutes of the match. First Cech had to make his first meaningful save from a free header at the back post, before an identical chance was duly despatched as injury time began. Thank Dennis there were only the three extra minutes to endure.

Summary

Guendouzi must have been perplexed seeing the Arsenal side which emerged from the tunnel after half time. It looked one he might have enjoyed playing in. That first period, on the other hand, probably made him grateful he’d been hooked.

Why did we ease off after the second goal? Was the tactic to allow the opposition to come on to us and then to pick them off on the counter? Two goals rarely seems like a convincing lead where Arsenal are concerned.

Anyway it turned out that they were enough in the final reckoning. Another away win, three points in the bag plus two home fixtures next up and things look a whole lot rosier than when we were in ‘crisis’  a few games ago.

Ratings

Cech – more comedy on the floor from Petr’s feet. A couple of dangerous passes followed by humping it up the pitch. Strange. Had little to do with his hands, one decent stop from the header and numerous catches of overhit lofted balls into the area….6

Bellerin – acres of space behind him in the first half. Good job Shkodran is always there to cover with his lightning pace. Still think Lichtsteiner behind him makes sense. Hector is always dangerous going forward though….6

Mustafi – some good stuff in amongst some typically crazy moments….5

Sokratis – stoic and resolute from our stone faced Greek. Made several important tackles, blocks and interceptions plus he even showed a yard of pace. Settling in nicely….7

Monreal – competent without having too much to do….6

Guendouzi – seems to have lost just a touch of his earlier confidence. Though when passing backwards is your only option as it was in that appalling first half, it’s always going to be a struggle….5

Xhaka – grew into the game, usual high number of passes and a glorious peach of a dead ball which sailed into the net….7

Ramsey – completely anonymous and disinterested in the first period. Much better when the football began in the second….5

Ozil – looked especially pleased to mark his 200th appearance with a goal….6

Laca – tried hard to make an impact throughout. Didn’t have a great deal of service….6

Auba – no smiles in the first half and didn’t look comfortable on the ball before finally being withdrawn….5

Subs

Torreira – another 45 minutes for the Uruguayan. Seemed to make an immediate impact with tempo and forward movement….6

Mkhitaryan – tidy in possession without achieving much at all….5

Welbeck – one impressive break but didn’t have the balance to finish off a fine chance….5

Manager – changed things at half time which was much needed….6

chas


Arsenal F.C. – Our record against the Toon

September 14, 2018

This is an incredible accounting of our first ever official league game – it was in Division 2 against Newcastle United and was played at The Manor Field on September 2nd 1883.

The report is courtesy of the brilliant “The Arsenal History” website ……..

Competition: Football League Division Two

Location: Manor Field, Plumstead

Attendance: 10,000

Referee: Joseph Tillotson

Match Report:
Arsenal 2
Shaw, Elliott

Newcastle United 2
Crate, Sorley

Woolwich Arsenal’s inaugural Football League appearance was played at the club’s “new” ground, the Manor Field, having vacated the Invicta Ground during the summer. A bumper crowd, travelling from all parts of London, turned up to witness the first Football League game played in the south of England.

Joe Powell had the honour of captaining Arsenal for this historic game and won the toss, allowing Newcastle to kick off at 3.30pm on a glorious autumn afternoon.
Newcastle started well and caused a commotion in Arsenal’s penalty area from a corner, Charlie Williams fisted away and William Jeffery eventually cleared. But Arsenal drew first blood when, after just six minutes of play, Elliott broke through, fed Charlie Booth on the left wing and his cross found Walter Shaw who, with a terrific shot, put the ball into the net just out of Ramsay’s reach. This maiden League goal was met by rapturous applause from the crowd.

The game then settled down, play was very even with each team playing different styles: Newcastle playing more as a unit whilst the Arsenal players preferred to create their own chances. This was much in evidence as Newcastle had a good spell of possession resulting in Jock Sorely forcing Williams into a good save, and winning a series of corners. In amongst Newcastle’s possession, Arsenal twice broke away and James Henderson was unlucky to hit the post and also headed wide from a Booth cross.

Shortly after the break Arsenal went further ahead when, following an impressive solo run from his own half by Booth, Arthur Elliott beat Alex Ramsay with a stinging shot. There was a hint of offside by Elliott but the referee was not best placed to see it.

Thinking that they had won the game, Arsenal eased off which allowed Newcastle to continually press the Arsenal goal. Powell and Williams seemed to be equal to everything Newcastle threw at them but eventually, after 65 minutes, Tom Crate got through to score through a melee of players.

This goal spurred the Magpies on and they equalised in a similar manner a couple of minutes later through Sorley, despite protests for offside from Arsenal. This resulted in a frantic finale as both teams went all out for the win, but no more goals were scored resulting in a 2-2 draw which, on the balance of play, was the fairest result.

2 September 1893 Woolwich Arsenal v Newcastle United

Line-ups:

Woolwich Arsenal: C Williams, J Powell, W Jeffery, D Devine, B Buist, D Howat, D Gemmell, J Henderson, W Shaw, A Elliott, C Booth.

Newcastle United: A Ramsay, H Jeffrey, J Miller, R Crielly, W Graham, J McKane, J Bowman, T Crate, W Thompson, J Sorley, J Wallace.

Arsenal v Newcastle all time results:

Written by GunnerN5


Ramsey, Contracts and Mr Slime

September 13, 2018

Something has been troubling me, so this is more a line of inquiry rather than one of my indisputable facts.

I do not follow any Arsenal behind-the-scenes action. In other words, I’m not interested in The Board, finances, staff, training or anything much beyond our goal scorers, however, I’m slightly, just slightly, curious about the role of a football agent, who from hence forwards, I shall call Mr Slime.

Fresh in our minds are the cases of Mesut and The Dog Fancier from last term, so let’s look at the current case of Mr Ramsey.

He’s an asset. Last year of contract. So all familiar so far.

We’ve just been through his penultimate transfer window, and it sounds to me like all the power rests with AR and Mr Slime.

Naturally, Slime will be hoping for interest from the world’s finest, all vying for the Welshman’s services, but suppose nothing materialises, then what?

AFC: “Come in…..ah Slime, what an unpleasant surprise, but we’ve been expecting you”

Slime: “My member wants a massive pay rise or we’re talking to The Giants”

AFC: “Thing is Slime, the blower hasn’t sounded once, so we’re thinking of a slight wage reduction”

Ok, so this kind of conversation is doubtful to say the least, but how does it work if there really is no serious interest. Presumably, we have to sign him up so as to preserve wealth, but if there’s a gulf between AFC and Slime in terms of perceived value, where does this go?

Written by mickydidit89

Is Xhaka Pants?

September 12, 2018

Well. is he?

Xhaka has become the butt of the doubters and stands in danger of getting the Eboue, Cygan, Squillaci, Stepanovs or Song treatment. None of them were bad players but only two of them were able to turn the “haters” (horrible modern word).

At Cardiff, Xhaka made 99 passes at a success rate of 86%, almost all of which were forward passes, yet what do most fans focus on? A pass he made up the pitch that led to a goal. Nothing said about the awful defending by the MF’s or the defenders, No, the fault was all Xhaka’s. He was even castigated for taking a yellow stopping a counter-attack,  a tactic we have been calling for. Yes, he has lapses of concentration but he is far and away our best player to distribute the ball after receiving a pass from the CB’s.

What do Emery and Wenger see in him? There must be something as Granit has been first choice for both managers ever since his arrival 3 seasons ago.

The man has a vicious and accurate shot on him. Could it be the coaching which has curbed his ability to score from distance or could it be that he knows the crowd reaction should his shot hit Row X?

Every player needs confidence, they need to feel loved yet the modern fan expects perfection and that pressure can make a player hide. It is the manager who has to help players overcome the pressure.

There are other players whom the faithful have doubts about; Mustafi, Bellerin, Ramsey, Cech and even Ozil. Does open criticism help them improve? My hope is that the players do not watch Arsenal TV which is dominated by airheads.

So, is Xhaka pants? What do you think?

Written by Big Raddy


Guardiola and Emery – a Fair Comparison?

September 7, 2018

Two wins out of four is clearly not the best start but not the worst either. The last two wins have given Emery a bit of stability; his own way of doing things is coming into focus and as such he is now starting to be able to stand on his own two feet. But this obviously was not the case after the first two games; headlines declaring that Arsenal are in crisis were appearing as frequently as daffodils in spring.

What surprised me at the time was that there were people outside of Arsenal who attempted to come to Emery’s aid. Supporters from Man City and even Gary Neville on Sky were not slow in coming forward to defend our man in charge, all insisting that he should stand by his principles and be given time to implement them.

Among the majority of Arsenal faithful Unai Emery seems to have been already given a pass this season for many reasons but standing close to the top is the reason that it took Guardiola a season before he was really able to make an impact.

Like drowning sailors scrambling for life boats I can only assume that the Arsenal supporters who grabbed onto this comparison after our first two games did so in the hope that similar things would happen to us in Unai Emery’s second season.

Guardiola has been elevated to demigod status for the way he got his team to play last season. Arsenal supporters who really should know better have sung his praises pointing to how he resisted buying marquee names such as Ronaldo, Neymar or Messi and yet somehow managed to put together a strong team with an amazing work ethic capable of winning the league all of which demonstrated what a great coach he really is.

Utter Tosh

“Manchester City have taken their summer spending to more than £200m with the signing of Benjamin Mendy from Monaco and increased their total outlay in the transfer market since Pep Guardiola took charge 13 months ago to £385m.” (The Guardian 24/7/17)

The man spent 200 million at the beginning of last season. Two Hundred Million!

“City confirmed over the weekend the £26.5m switch from Real Madrid of Danilo, who is expected to provide cover for the first-choice full-backs Mendy and the £45m signing from Tottenham Hotspur, Kyle Walker. They will line up alongside other expensive arrivals including the centre-back John Stones, signed last season for £47m, and the £34.9m goalkeeper Ederson from Benfica.” (Guardian 24/7/17)

Pep says City hasn’t the cash for a quadruple – January 2018

Money talks, ok there was the Leicester league win but surely that is now understood that it was a one off; yes, I would take one of those one offs at any point of Unai’s tenure but I am not holding my breath.

I certainly intend to stand by Emery regardless of almost any outcome this season but the comparison with Guardiola and the spending power he can call upon is laughable; the only thing that I see that they have in common is that they are both from the Iberian Peninsula and neither of them is Spanish.

A special thank you to GB for giving me something to bounce off of.

Written by LB