Wenger: Buy Buy… or Bye Bye

August 30, 2011

Today’s post was written before the late night news that we are in the process of signing Brazillian left back Andre Santos.

This is a huge two days for Arsène Wenger and Arsenal.

At the time of writing, no further signings have been announced despite speculation linking us with Leighton Baines, Alex, Kaka, Andre Santos, Yossi Benayoun and the usual suspects like Cahill and Samba.

So, here we sit, still in shock from the most humiliating thrashing of any Arsenal team in our lifetimes; anxiously hoping we sign somebody – anybody – to lift the spirits.

Regular readers will know I lean towards a generally optimistic view of Arsenal under the stewardship of Arsène Wenger.

Lately my optimism has taken a battering. It’s now as fragile as a Kieran Gibbs hamstring. It’s feeling a bit Traore (pulled all over the place) with a dose of Jenkinson thrown in (twisted inside out). And it’s even going all Arshavin (lumbering about pointlessly in a half-arsed way before having a little rest).

It needs to pick itself up and get back to being Vermaelen again (powerful and confident).

One thing that would help my optimism would be for Arsenal to finally, belatedly do what the manager promised us all at the end of last season: sign experienced players who can move our team to the next level.

Because right now the worry is that we have moved to the next level – but it’s the next level down, not up.

Today, with the 8-2 defeat still inflicting the sort of afterburn normally associated with a late-night vindaloo, it’s hard to avoid feeling that the two Manchesters, United and City, have moved significantly away from us in terms of playing quality. We may yet keep pace with Chelsea and Liverpool – time will tell – or we might find ourselves sucked down to the level of Aston Villa and (dare I say it) the Spuds.

Our results since the Carling Cup Final do not make pretty reading – we have won two out of our last 14 competitive games.

But we still have most of the players who were good enough to beat Manchester United and Barcelona last season (let’s not forget how heroic the likes of Jack Wilshere and Laurent Koscielny were in the Barca game at the Emirates).

This can still be a good season – maybe even a trophy-winning season – but only if reinforcements are brought in. Never mind “super quality” – we just need solid, battle-hardened professionals who can provide a platform for our super quality youngsters to flourish on.

No matter how much Arsène believes in his young players, it’s clear that the whole squad needs a massive morale boost. There is a real fear that a drubbing like Sunday’s will harm the development of some of our talented young ‘uns.

They need older shoulders to lean on and they MUST be brought in.

Arsène promised he would do it early. Unfortunately he didn’t tell us that his idea of “early” was a bit like the Americans’ idea of “early” in helping us out “early” in the two world wars.

If he buys well, he can have the last laugh (and God, after the flack he has taken, how I would love to see him holding up some serious silverware at the end of this season).

If he does not, there is a real danger that no BUY BUY will mean BYE BYE – possibly sooner than any of his loyal supporters might like to think.


Cahill’s Ban Should Be Extended – written by RockyLives

September 14, 2010

So Gary Cahill is appealing against the red card awarded for his foul on Marouane Chamakh.

Good. I’m delighted. Bring it on.

By appealing, Cahill leaves open the option of having his three-match ban for a straight red extended by the FA committee that hears his appeal. And make no mistake – he deserves to have the ban extended.

If you’re in any doubt, take another look at the challenge (you can view it on arsenalist.com). Cahill comes in late and from behind on Chamakh, who has just executed a sweet back-heel into the path of Arshavin.

Watching it live (and from high up in the West Stand) I thought the red card was harsh and, at first glance of the replay, you’re tempted to agree. One of the reasons it doesn’t look so bad is that Chamakh just gets up and gets on with things without any histrionics (Eboue, please take note). Chamakh’s not badly hurt – so it should be a yellow card at most, right?

Wrong. Take another look. Cahill dives in with both feet off the ground, which is a definition of recklessness. His left foot takes Chamakh’s left ankle, his right foot takes Chamakh’s right ankle. Neither foot gets within nodding distance of the ball.

By a small miracle of timing both Chamakh’s feet are off the ground at the moment of impact. Now play back the tackle in your mind and imagine what the outcome would have been if either one of our Number  29’s feet had been planted at the moment of impact: with Cahill’s flying, uncontrolled lunge, Chamakh would surely have had ligament damage at the very least and possibly even a broken ankle. We would have lost him for several weeks or several months, at a time when we are also missing Robin van Persie and Nicklas Bendtner.

That he was not seriously injured was a pure fluke. Cahill’s challenge was dangerous and stupid and the instant red card proffered by Stuart Atwell was a rare instance of good refereeing by the ‘up and coming top ref in England’ in a game in which he was generally out of his depth.

He correctly adjudged that he should punish the intent, not the outcome. By doing so he may just save some other professional from having his leg snapped by the likes of Cahill later on in the season.

I don’t need to remind anyone of the horrors our players have faced in recent seasons from wild, uncontrolled challenges by brutish defenders. Cahill’s was a collector’s item of the species and three games on the sidelines is the least he deserves.

Following on from the Joe Cole dismissal in our first game of the season, the Cahill red card gives some hope that referees have discussed how to protect creative players and have agreed among themselves to act quickly and decisively if they see reckless lunges like Cahill’s. Quite how Atwell managed not to dismiss Robinson for his even more dangerous challenge on Abou Diaby a short while afterwards will, however, remain one of the great mysteries of football.

When Cahill gets to stand before the FA, let’s just hope they have the intelligence to study the video properly and the balls to act accordingly.