High Noon

November 19, 2010

In my very young years Spurs were the best in the country if not the world, with a team that had it all – speed, craft, strength (what a player Dave Mackay was), super full backs, centre halves (as they were then) a fine keeper and the late , great Bobby Smith upfront. I can still name the entire 61 Double team, such was their impact upon my psyche.

It was touch and go whether I supported the forces of good or evil, my father had gone over to the dark side and encouraged me to do the same. I was taken to  the coven at WHL to be surrounded by waling banshees and devil worshippers. Thankfully I saw the light and was led onto the path of good and righteousness by other family members. Had they not exorcised me I could have been subjected to a life of ridicule and envy, for such is the life of a Spurs fan. How those poor saps made the disastrous decision to support the joke that is THFC is for them to analyse, but I think it must be centred upon low self-esteem and a history of bed wetting.

Last season we lost our record of not having been beaten by them in the PL this century – you may recall they brought out a DVD. In a way it took a monkey off our backs, but it still rankles that our team didn’t perform that night and a Spurs lad scored the goal of his life (poor chap has gone back to a life of obscurity). And then there was the 4-4 (another DVD!) a game which in which we threw away 2 points and allowed an ex-AFC reserve to score the goal of his life – we must stop that habit!

Spurs go into the game with fresh legs thanks to them having so few Internationals, whereas our boys have all (16 of them!) been away playing meaningless friendlies.  Players like Arshavin and Nasri who played 90 minutes will struggle for fitness.

To see the vast gulf in class between our clubs one only has to assess the respective managers. Mr. Wenger is approaching sainthood, whereas Harry is an execrable human being whose only redeeming features are his fit daughter-in-law and his bank balance.

There can be no doubt that at last Spurs have a decent squad, they can play good football and have quality throughout the side. In Gareth Bale they have the best player in the World – the new Messi  (yeah, right….typical Spurs, 10 decent games from Bale and he is worth €50m!!), the Bale/Sagna battle will be mouthwatering. Modric despite having a ratface and the body of an undernourished spaniel is a player who would flourish at Man Utd – he is wasted at the Sh**hole. Jenas is likely to play thanks to Fatboy Huddlestone’s ban, a player who loves a goal against us – he will have to closed down fast. Lemon is quick but crosses like Clichy, Crouch is hated by the Spurs acolytes which sums them up – I like him but hope he has a stinker tomorrow. Same goes for Pavlachenko – actively disliked by his own fans (check out their blogs). Then there is  Van de Vaart, the “New Dennis Bergkamp”, an Real reject who has started well in the PL, he is without doubt a fine player and an excellent signing by Redknapp, our defensive midfielders will have to be very aware of his movement, for that reason I would play Denilson ahead of Wilshere.

Our ex-captain WG will start and I expect him to get a rousing welcome (actually the expected response will be apathy unless he scores). Should (when) Spurs lose tomorrow their fans will focus upon their defence and the lack of their 3 best CB’s, but let us be honest, if King plays 12 games a season he has had a good year, Woodgate isn’t even in their 25 man squad; Dawson it has to be admitted is a loss but they have a WC winner as a replacement!

Our team:

We have had 2 back to back away victories and return to the Grove where our record is surprisingly not great this season. The fighting performances on the road must be continued if we are to win tomorrow. I am told Arshavin is running into good form, and Chamakh is on a fine scoring streak. Fabregas has found aggression to add to his sublime skills and Nasri is the Premiership’s form player. We have easily enough quality to win this game – what will be required is commitment and concentration over the whole 95 minutes.

The North London Derby (NLD) has at last got some frisson back thanks to the resurgence of the devilspawn fro N17, the atmosphere at The Grove will be electric, the teams excited and inspired, and I just wish I could be there….

Here’s hoping for a great game, a decent referee, an early goal, one just before half time to calm the nerves and a victory for the men in the white hats.

This is not a purely a question of football superiority – it is the eternal battle for the triumph of good over evil

COYRRG

Written by BigRaddy

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Arsenal in crisis! …. what crisis?

July 30, 2010

I am really getting fed up with all the dross coming out of the ‘red tops’. Yesterday, they reported that we are doomed for another season as RVP and Fabregas wouldn’t be fit enough to play in our opening game at Liverpool.  They are certain our spending is finished for another summer and our hopes for next season are all but over. They highlight the fact that Bendtner will also miss the opening games, (which we all knew several weeks ago) and Denilson and Diaby are also a doubt.

Some Arsenal sites panic at all this make-believe stuff. The internet has been littered with headline posts calculated to provoke reaction. Our ‘fantasy predicament’ pales into insignificance compared to the mess Liverpool are in, with an injured Torres, and Carragher, Kuyt and Gerrard burnt out after the World Cup. The new manager, Roy Hodgson has an enormous task ahead in trying to produce a side that meets the expectation of the Liverpool fans.

What Wenger actually said was that he would address the situation on the 5th August. He didn’t say that RVP or Fabregas wouldn’t play. Denilson and Diaby  both have slight groin strains but would most probably be available although Bendtner aggravated his groin problem and was always going to miss the start of the season. Luckily we have Chamakh now who it is likely will compete with Bendtner for a starting place in the side any way.

Year after year the media ‘will us to fail’ and try every conceivable method to brainwash a gullible audience, some of whom fall for it every time.

Wenger isn’t stupid, I’m sure he wants to buy where we need cover.  He knew months ago that Gallas, Silvestre, Senderos and Campbell were out of contract and would probably leave, and at the same time he would have assessed our present cover. The pre-season games in Austria will have given him a better understanding of the strengths and weaknesses in the squad .

Look how little activity there is from the top clubs so far this summer. There is a worldwide recession. Most PL clubs are in so much debt that,the penny has finally dropped. The days of buying players at over inflated prices must stop (unless you’re man city) but also, the availability of top players is limited.

Have you seen many who played in the world cup change clubs? City will continue to splash the cash, but making wholesale changes doesn’t always equate to a winning formula .

I feel very confident that we have a good balance now in the squad and will still buy at the least another centre back.

Have faith my friends.

Written by kelsey


Gallas to Return?

July 14, 2010

Has Gallas really gone? We all know he is currently touring the fashion capitals of Europe in search of a two year contract and a wage that will enable him to continue the lifestyle he has become accustomed to — but is that really likely to happen? He can rule out the big four salary payers: Barça, Real, City and Chelsea, they have no interest in him.

So, now what for Gallas?

My guess is that he is in for a rude awakening, that’s if the morning sun isn’t already shining in his eyes from having Juventus laugh his grandiose demands out of town. Still smarting from that embarrassment he might just start looking a bit more fondly at our one year contract, and its suggestive nod towards a second year, with renewed interest.

Gallas has not burned his bridges at Arsenal and he is going to have to work somewhere so why not come back to the warm familiarity of the Home of Football.

Koscielny to start against Liverpool – are you sure?

I am not convinced that Koscielny, a player with so little big time experience, has been ear marked by Wenger as a first choice starter. Well, not at the very beginning of the season any way; I have trouble imagining him taking to the field along side Vermaelen at Anfield and I am not persuaded by the argument that we wouldn’t have paid ten million pounds just for back up. Why wouldn’t we is my answer to that?

There must be a few others reading this who, similar to me, like to cook? Imagine you were in the middle of cooking fish, something I am particularly fond of, and you look in the fridge in search of lemons and realise that they are all past their use by date. To solve the problem you send one son to the shops and another to pick one from the tree in the garden. Taking the fish out of the oven you are confronted with a dilemma — which lemon to use – the answer is, of course, the best one, irrespective of where it came from — the one that will make the meal the most successful.

Hopefully someone reading this will realise that the home grown lemon is a metaphor for Djourou and the purchased lemon being Koscielny – the only thing that Wenger will take into consideration when choosing between them is which one will make the team the most successful.

More new centre back signings – in our dreams.

One thing that I don’t believe will happen is that we will buy a house hold name centre back with more experience than Koscielny that’s to say Mertesacker or Jagielca.

Wenger may pit Djourou and Koscielny against each other to fight it out for the right to eventually play along side Vermaelen but I don’t believe he would buy someone who by reputation will expect an automatic first team place: the effect would be to crush the enthusiasm of the two we already have as they would be consigned to the bench for what could be the best part of the season and quite possibly a lot more. History tells us that Wenger doesn’t do that; he always gives players a chance.

Gallas’ return would solve many problems.

The beauty of Gallas returning is that he could start the season bringing all his experience to bear while gradually handing over the reigns to whoever best emerges between Djourou and Koscielny and even if Gallas starts playing out of his skin the two younger Franco-phones will know that their chance will be coming sooner rather than later.

I genuinely think Gallas’ return is a realistic possibility and is the only reason Sol is waiting before he takes up one of his many offers. If Gallas returns there is absolutely no space for Sol, if Gallas finds another club there is still work for Campbell.

Come back Gallas your team needs you.

Lets see how many people come on today, not having read to the end, and leave a belligerent comment saying I am mad and that Gallas has been released – to them I say this: he may well have been but so had Campbell and look what happened there?

Written by London


Summer Signings – expect to be ‘slightly disappointed’

June 28, 2010

 

Since when did telling it like it is make anyone a pessimist?

I expect to be slightly disappointed by our transfer activity this summer for the fifth season in a row, but I am eagerly looking forward to next season, full of the optimism  and 100% behind whichever Arsenal players take to the pitch.

If I had to stake anyone’s house on it, I would guess that by the time the transfer window closes, Cesc will still be an Arsenal player and we will not have signed any players over the £10m mark. If he goes, we may look for another midfielder but I still would not expect us to pay over £20m for a ‘replacement’ (possibly Gourcuff) even if we get £45m for Cesc.

My disappointment will be that it doesn’t look like we will be in the market for another holding midfielder to protect the back four. A player who could either cover for, or play alongside Song. I don’t think Diaby can concentrate for long enough periods to be a reliable DM and Denilson lacks the physical presence. We need a player who will allow our numerous attacking midfielders to play with more freedom, a system that Brazil have executed very effectively in this World Cup.

In the belief that the deals for Koscielny and Schwarzer are in the bag, this is how it currently stands:

IN IN THE BALANCE OUT
Chamakh Campbell Merida
Ebecilio Fabregas Senderos
Koscielny Almunia Gallas
Schwarzer Joe Cole Silvestre
Player ‘X’ Player ‘X’ Eduardo

Forget about labelling anyone as a pessimist – wake up and smell the coffee …this is how it is……

  1. The dynamic of footballer transfers has become polarised by the emergence of billionaires who see owning a football club as a status symbol, and at the other end of the scale, by the growing debt of clubs at all levels. We are not even going to enter into a bidding situation over a player if the likes of citeh, chelski, Real or Barça are interested.
  2. Our Board and manager are ‘prudent’ in the extreme and have formulated a business model for the club that is held up as THE way to run a football club in the 21st century. As is often pointed out on this site, it is a small miracle that we have achieved the level of success we have in terms of league position over the last five years under the financial constraints imposed due to the building of the stadium.
  3. In terms of priority, playing attractive football that entertains and attracts supporters and TV audiences and keeping the club solvent is more important than winning trophies. Arsène has said that qualifying to the Champions League is ‘winning something’ and in terms of revenue to the club that cannot be denied.
  4. The media and internet community are responsible for 99% of the rubbish that is disseminated regarding transfers, but it is also so pervasive that it is virtually impossible for any club to land a ‘surprise big signing’. All of our recent player acquisitions have been flagged up for weeks in advance. The process is often protracted as we negotiate hard to get the player at the best possible price.

Arsène has come out again and said “We will soon sign a player on the defensive front”. Translated that means the deal for Koscielny is already done and we are just sorting out the fine detail. This will allow the club’s PR department maximise the impact and announce the signing before the end of the WC in line with Wenger’s promise.

Unless one of the major shareholders takes the plunge and makes a successful takeover bid and decides to recklessly gamble their own money on buying players, I expect our involvement in the transfer market for the rest of the Wenger era to be pretty much at the level demonstrated this summer. We are not going to pay £30m+ for the likes of David Villa. The so-called ‘warchest’ was club spin to say that we are in a better condition financially this summer and we can spend some money if Arsène chooses – not that we are going to splash out £40m on a high profile player.

I choose to support Arsenal in the knowledge of these limitations and have to reluctantly accept that winning trophies is not our right or even our main priority. If we do win anything next season it will be a huge bonus. If we don’t, we will be entertained by some wonderful football.

On the positive side, I expect Chamakh to be our top scorer, Koscielny to be another ‘Vermaelen’, Ramsey to return and become a great player and Cesc to give us one more quality season. On the negative side, I expect we will suffer more than our fair share of injuries, we will go out of the cup competitions by the quarter final stages and we will still lose points to the likes of Stoke and Blackburn.

That’s not pessimism, it’s realism!

Written by Rasp


Could we be a stronger team if Cesc leaves?

June 14, 2010

Following Raddy’s article yesterday exposing the press reporting of ‘Arsenal’s behind the scenes dealing’ for the fanciful unsubstantiated speculation it undoubtedly is, I thought I’d be obtuse and join in with the speculation by putting myself in the shoes of a supporter who is prepared to believe some of the stronger rumours that are circulating.

Just for those who may read the headline but not the article, I am not suggesting that we would be stronger BECAUSE Cesc goes to Barca, just looking for the positives IF he does.

Here are some of the mooted changes in personnel at the start of next season if our worst fears are confirmed and Cesc leaves. FC Lorient and Fulham have both confirmed that Arsenal have made an enquiry about their players whereas the Joe Cole story is just a rumour that many are prepared to believe.

Out: Cesc, Gallas, Sol, Silvestre, Merida, Almunia (maybe not sold)

In: Chamakh (already signed), Koscielny, Schwarzer, Joe Cole

Would the balance of those changes make us a stronger team next season?

Starting from the back; even after conceding 4 goals last night, I think Schwarzer is better than Almunia. He’s not top top class but he would give Szczesny the couple of years he needs to grow into our first choice keeper. I’d send Fabianski out on loan to try to rebuild his confidence and keep Szczesny as our number two, maybe giving him the occassional start in the side.

Koscielny is an odd one. I don’t know that much about the player. Arsène is obviously very keen on him, so I suspect he will turn into a gem in the mould of Vermaelen and hopefully bed into the side as quickly. I think he could be better for us than Gallas in terms of motivation, freedom from injuries and aerial power in defence although he lacks experience. A lot rests on the continued fitness of Djourou as it is certain that one, or both of our CB’s will be lost to injury at some stage so we may have to rely on Song to fill in at the back at some stage.

A defensive midfielder to cover for Song is the player I feel we really need but will not acquire, so I hope that Eastmond gets a few first team games as he seems to be the player coming through who is best suited to the role.

OK, Joe Cole is not as good as Cesc, but he’s a clever player who is direct and creates chances for others. He can score goals and play anywhere across the midfield. He has a battling temperament and will give his all for the team. Cole would also allow us to rest Arshavin who I believe was playing with injuries for a lot of last season and struggled to come to terms with the physical demands of  the premiership. The arrival of Chamakh should mean that AA is never called upon again to play the lone striker role.

I fear we have relied too much on Cesc. He has been the focus of our play and this has created scenarios similar to Henry’s last season where players in possession of the ball were clearly looking for Cesc rather than making the quick pass to another available player.

Chamakh will give us a much greater physical presence up front.  He is strong, tall and he can head the ball. The only thing that worries me a little is whether he will be able to build a partnership with RvP (not that we will play 4:4:2), but he is a great link-up player and will be able to play wengerball.

With these changes, the spine of the team should be stronger – certainly at the top and the bottom. The loss of Cesc’s genius would be replaced by a potent attacking force in the final third with the inclusion of Chamakh and Cole. We should not forget Ramsey who I believe will become a fantastic player in our midfield. Diaby should show us more of the attacking brilliance that we witnessed in a run of games last season.  I expect Theo and Nasri to demonstrate their ambition by reacting positively to the disappointment of being left out of the world cup and put in meatier performances next season.

Obviously we will be a far stronger team if Cesc stays and we also add to the squad, but who can be sure that will happen? Consider what the acquisition of Koscielny, Cole and Schwarzer would bring to the team if Cesc leaves. I would expect either TV or RvP to be appointed captain and we would be addressing some of the areas of frailty in the current side.


Fans leave early …. Supporters stay to the end.

March 12, 2010

This is the second edition of ‘Rant Friday’. Last week some new bloggers mistook the piece for an attack on Arsenal. It is simply an opportunity for anyone with a gripe to write a paragraph and get it off their chest.

Rasputin’s Beef

On Tuesday night we witnessed possibly the most entertaining and uplifting display of ‘Arsenal Football’ in the short history of The Emirates Stadium. A game in which the ‘experts’ had said we would struggle.  A game that followed Ramsey’s horrific injury and Niklas Bendtner’s profligacy in front of goal the weekend before. The team were magnificent, everyone played their part. After the fourth goal, a carnival atmosphere enveloped the ground ….. so why oh why, with 10 minutes to go, did thousands of so-called ‘fans’ start streaming out of the ground?

They missed the drama of the penalty and Nik scoring his first hat-trick, but more importantly they didn’t stay to do their duty as supporters and clap our boys off the pitch. The goal celebrations showed how important this game was to them – it had nothing to do with earning £60k a week, it was about playing superb football (and being allowed to play as is seldom the case in the premiership) and winning the Arsenal way. I can have some sympathy for anyone with young children who wanted to avoid the crush, but to the rest who left early I say, shame on you, you are not worthy of our team.

Livers’ Beef

Right first rant and I know this is only speculation but it’s been brought to light that Roma are over here trying to get Gallas on a pre contract agreement, this caused as we know by Arsene’s policy of only giving an extra year extensions to players over 30. Now, in some regards this seems sensible in that players will have to earn a new contract each year but it does make me wonder if this should be extended to players of say 33 or over.

If a players “peak” is 27, 28 then 2 years later they are over the hill or past it? No not really and not in the majority of cases. Players that Wenger inherited when he first came like the back 5 and Ray Parlour were all hitting 30 or already over 30 and they played some of their best football past this age. More recently and the one that hurts the most was Robert Pires who I think we have never replaced. Granted this season he’s in cameo roles for Villareal and not at his best or ok, maybe past it. But it was 2006 we let him go with Wenger ok with this because we had Hleb. Now both have gone and Hleb, for all his trickery and ball control was never as effective as Sir Bob.

We let Campbell go on a free so he could play abroad…….all the way to Portsmouth. Sure his head wasn’t right but are you telling me we couldn’t have done something about it and not wasted 5 years to get him back… oh we’ve not won anything in 5 years right? Even Sol won the cup in 2008. Which now brings me to Gallas. Gallas has turned his career around at Arsenal and plays extremely well with TV so why won’t we just this once give a player over 30 a 2 year contract and if he’s still quality after that then issue the 1 year extensions. I bet Aluminia has 8 years left on his contract…….

All these players that possibly leave on a free because of our policies and there are more than I named (The Dennis 1 year extensions became a joke) leaves me to wonder why it’s such a problem. This never happened in David Deins day…..

Second Rant and a small one.. European games v League games. What are the frigging rules for time added on? 6 subs in the Prem is 3 mins. 6 in the CL is 1 min ..WTF ?

tommystout’s beef

My rant is not about  the Arsenal in particular but the way we are treated by that abysmal radio station Talksport and other associated broadcasters. Adrian Durham in particular has riled me over the years but needling away are the likes of Brasil and Townsend. Please Gooners don’t phone them up and give them the time of day, if they have no one ringing up and defending Arsenal then they will get the message. After all what would a radio station have to talk about if they have no Arsenal to talk about, they’d maybe have to turn on their beloved Man IOU or upsetting other supporters instead, this goes for Liverpool fans too who have had their fair dose of negative air time especially over the past year. Boycott the phone calls and they’ll target someone else, their loss, Arsenal are big news and an easy target, for now!

I’m addressing Talksport because I’m a glutton for punishment and listen to their “white noise” most days, but it isn’t just them,  Alan Green for 5 live has his two penneth. Then there’s Gary Linneker and Alan Shearer for the BBC and then we get to Sky; Smug faced Richard Keys and old hat Andy Gray to name but two, they look for any chance to stick the knife in. What’s difficult to comprehend is that Sky want the viewing figures and the neutrals and lovers of pure football want to watch Arsenal but these “pundits” always do their best to condemn us. Work that one out.

Until Arsenal TV get themselves into a position back on the Satellite medium, where they can screen all of their games live, until that time I will remain a sky sports customer…. Then Adios Amigo!