One week for Arsenal …….. Six months for Walcott

January 10, 2014

Last Friday:

Le Professeur had little good cheer to offer on the injury situation at his Friday news conference. Giroud 90% out, Ozil, Bendtner, Ramsey and Gibbs definitely out. The one bright spot was that Oxlade-Chamberlain is expected to resume normal training next week.

Gilberto Silva was training with the first team, the last ex-Arsenal alumnus to do so was a certain French mid-fielder who then signed a contract and has been an important part of a successful first half of the season, could the “Invisible Wall” be back?

One important bit of news, whilst not exclusively Arsenal related was worthy of note, Mr. Blatter opened his mouth, and for once didn’t immediately put his foot in it, when he launched an attack on cheats.

In his FIFA Weekly column he urged a global crackdown on the “cheating” players who dive in football and even suggested “time penalties” to stop those feigning injury from immediately rejoining the game.

Blatter also reminded referees to continue with play “unless there is a serious injury”. “The ball is in the referees’ court” he said “The instructions are now clear on this matter: if a player is lying on the floor, the opposing team are not required to put the ball in to touch.

I don’t know about other AAers, but I for one would love to see a crackdown on the diving cheats and on the spurious injuries that waste so much playing time. I’m sure one of our stats fans could tell us how much of the ninety minutes playing time is taken up by such antics. I feel sure it doesn’t all get added on to the “injury time”.

Saturday:

Not even a hint of speculation about who we might buy, and Arsene ruled out any approach for Berbatov.

The dreaded sickness bug struck again, this time Giroud is suffering, is it time to buy the player’s lunches from a different kebab shop?

The pre-match entertainment on AA was supplied by Ant and Duck, on their alcohol fuelled  peregrination to the Emirates.

 

Sunday:

No question who has the NLD bragging rights, firmly fixed in the Arsenal camp!

There was a feeling of inevitability about the game from the very start.

Watching at home, it soon became obvious that the poor old Spuds were considerably less than the sum of their very expensively assembled parts. I had spent the early evening watching an excellent performance of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at the Little Theatre in Sheringham, a traditional Christmas pantomime, and later watching Spur’s twin strikers floundering and failing I felt I was again watching two traditional Panto characters, the Ugly Sisters.

One rather sour note towards the end of the game, as Walcott was being stretchered off he, and the para-medics carrying him, were pelted with coins and bottles and subjected to dog’s abuse by the Spurs “fans”. The selfsame “fans” who, last season, had jeered at Bacary Sagna as he lay pitch-side with a broken leg. Walcott’s response, a two fingered reminder of the score, was more than justified in my opinion. The FA would need to be entirely witless if they decide to take action against him.

Two more injuries to contend with, both Walcott and Vermaelen could be out for a while, while the latter is a cut shin, the former could well be a longer term ligament injury.

Hey Ho! Coventry at home is a good draw for the 4th round and will present le Professeur with more chances for squad rotation.

Monday:

There was no definitive news on the Theo Walcott injury, If it’s a knock he could make the Villa game, if it’s ligament damage he could be out for a month. Olivier Giroud is expected to be fit to play next Monday, as will Jack Wilshere who took a knock on an ankle. The scan on Thomas Vermaelen’s knee will be assessed this week.

One piece of definite news, we will not be signing Lewandowski either in this month or in the summer, he’s going to Bayern at the end of the season.

The FA are to consult with Police and “look into” the behaviour of the Spurs fans who hurled not only abuse but also missiles at Theo and the medics as he was carried off on Saturday. Obviously Arsenal were correct in reducing the Swamp Dweller’s ticket allocation for the game. If that’s the way they are going to behave the allocation should be reduced to zero.

The FA announced that they would be taking no action against Theo following his gesture towards the obnoxious crowd of loons purporting to be Spurs supporters.

Tuesday:

On a cold, wet and windy morning what could be worse than to wake up to the headline:-

MY WORLD CUP DREAM IS OVER

world cup over

Theo Walcott sidelined for six months with serious knee injury

Yep! The news we had all been fearing turned out to be worse than we thought, a ruptured Anterior Cruciate Ligament means that Theo misses the rest of the season and almost certainly the chance to play for England in the World Cup Finals.

Dare we hope that Theo could emulate Roberto Baggio who, in 2002, returned from a similar injury in just 77 days? That entailed half day re-hab sessions eleven times a week.

At the moment the plan is for Theo to have surgery in the next week or so, depending on how quickly the swelling goes down, to be back running by June, complete a full pre-season programme and be ready to play when the new campaign kicks off.

Wednesday:

The FA Cup fourth round tie against Coventry City will take place on Friday 24th January, kick-off 7.45pm and will be live on BT Sport.

Coventry have already complained about the Friday evening spot, claiming it will make it difficult for their fans to attend, are so many of them subject to curfews?

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is back in full training, could he feature in Thursday’s U 21 game away to Fulham? Another run out in the following week’s U21 match away to Middlesbrough and all being well, he could be ready for the FA Cup tie against Coventry.

Arsenal U18s thrashed Peterborough 6 -1 in the FA Youth Cup on Monday evening.

Thursday:

Our midfield maestro

Mesut Ozil has been named Germany’s national player of the year following a fans’ poll conducted by the German Football Federation. Mesut has won the award for the third time in a row, beating Bayern Munich pair Phillip Lahm and Thomas Muller.

Theo Walcott has been voted December Playmate I’m sorry PLAYER of the month.

In transfer speculation it has emerged that although both Arsenal targets Diego Costa and Jackson Martinez have release clauses in their contracts (£31.4 million and £33 million respectively) they do not come into effect until the end of the season. The Daily Mail seems to think that we are in with a chance of getting Real’s Alvaro Morata if we pay a £1.7 million loan fee.

Niklas Bendtner may be back sooner than expected, he could resume training in the next few days.

One piece of truly World shattering news, (not Arsenal related) is reported by Sky Sports, Fulham have not made an enquiry for Man City’s Joleon Lescott and, in case any doubt remains,nicole
I can report that I am not dating Lewis Hamilton’s ex,

Nicole Scherzinger.

Bayern Munich received 18 thousand requests for tickets to the Champions League clash at the Emirates despite the price of £62 each, Bayern are to subsidise each ticket to the tune of €30 thus reducing the price from €75 to just €45. Perhaps other clubs could take a leaf out of the German club’s book and help out the away support. What about it Arsenal?

According to The Metro Arsenal teenager Serge Gnabry is a summer target for Borussia Dortmund as they seek to rebuild following Robert Lewandowski’s agreement to join to Bayern Munich. Dortmund manager Jurgen Klopp has been impressed by the attacking midfielder and is ready to splash out on his services as he transforms his side following the departure of the jewel in their crown. Well Herr Klopp Serge is one of the young jewels in Arsenal’s crown so keep your sticky fingers off!!!

That’s it for another week, enjoy the relaxing weekend.

Norfolk Gooner.

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Vote For Arsenal’s Greatest Midfielders Of The Modern Era

July 5, 2013

This must be the most difficult vote, three from the modern era of midfielders is nigh on impossible, whether its the legend of Rocky the strength and skill of Patrick, the sublimity of Pires or the goals of Ljungberg. To choose three from those four is difficult enough and then we add Parlour, Silva and Davis into the mix for good measure and not forgetting probably the best player to grace the Emirates Cesc Fabregas. Any three or four of those will make a decent midfield.

We did consider extending the vote to 4 players for this section but soon realised that in reality most of us would want 7 votes to make sure we voted for all of our favourites.

Look at this list of players and remember how lucky we have been as Arsenal fans, very few fans of rival clubs can boast anything near the quality we had in this era.

Note from ed……..

Apologies for the superfluous extra ‘s’ in Gilberto Silva


Arsenal’s Greatest Midfielders Day 6

July 4, 2013

Continuing our Summer series of articles in search of Arsenal’s greatest ever team, this week we continue our quest for the greatest midfielders to include in our team.  Don’t forget to take the opportunity to choose your personal favourite midfielder by voting in the poll at the end of the week.

17. Robert Pires: 2000-2006.

Robert appeared in 284 matches over a 6 year period.

article-1287109-01C84CBA0000044D-155_468x286Born in Reims France, he is a graduate of the FC Metz youth academy, making his senior debut in 1993 against Lyon. During his six seasons there, he scored 43 goals in 162 matches, and won the Coupe de la Ligue, prompting a £5 million move to Olympique de Marseille in 1998, where he stayed for two year years.

Robert was signed by Arsenal for £6 million in 2000, after stiff competition from Real Madrid and Juventus. Initially his form was indifferent, and he was criticised for his comments that the English game was too physical. By 2001–02, he had fully got to grips with the English game and had one of his best seasons scoring many excellent goals. He led the Premier League assist charts and was voted both FWA Footballer of the Year and Arsenal’s player of the season, as Arsenal won the league title. This was despite not playing the last two months of the season after suffering a cruciate ligament injury in a FA Cup match against Newcastle United. This also ruled him out of playing in the 2002 World Cup with France.

After a lengthy layoff, he made his comeback in November 2002 and was voted Barclaycard Player of the Month for February 2003 and capping off his season by scoring the winning goal in the FA Cup Final against Southampton. He went on to be a crucial part of Arsenal’s quest for the Premier League title in the 2003–04 season, which they achieved, remaining unbeaten and becoming the first English top flight club to do so in 115 years. Robert along with his Arsenal team-mate Thierry Henry was a key player in that season, scoring a combined 57 goals in all competitions. In the 2004–05 season, he finished third in the Premiership goal scorers table and also picked up a second FA Cup winners’ medal after Arsenal beat Manchester United on penalties. His final game for Arsenal was in the UEFA Champions league final against Barcelona, in which he was substituted after goalkeeper Jens Lehman received an early red card.

In May 2006, he agreed to join Spanish side Villarreal. He joined on a free transfer, bringing to an end his six-year career as an Arsenal player. In 2009, he faced Arsenal in the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League, Villarreal were defeated 4–1 on aggregate, but Robert received a warm return from the Arsenal supporters, who sang his name throughout both legs. He was told in May 2010 that his contract would not be extended and he would have to look for a new club during the summer.

He won 79 caps for his country and scored 14 goals. He won the Golden Ball (for most outstanding football) and Golden Shoe (for most goals scored) awards at the 2001 Confederations Cup in Korea/Japan.

18. Freddie Ljungberg: 1998-2007. 

Freddie appeared in 328 matches over a 9 year period.

ljungberg_display_imageHe was born in Vittsjö, Sweden. Between when he was 5–14 years old, Freddie was coached by Olle Eriksson. He credits Eriksson for having a profound effect on his career as well as Brazilian football player, Sócrates. Also in his youth, he enjoyed playing ice hockey and developed a talent for handball; but decided to concentrate his attentions on football. Freddie also did well in academic subjects as well as sports and at 18 he decided to attend university, but struggled to balance the hectic academic timetable with the physically demanding commitments of football. Eventually, he quit university to concentrate on his football career.

He made his senior debut for Halmstad in October 1994 in the Allsvenskan against AIK. In 1995, he played 31 games in which he scored his first goal as a professional player. that same year Halmstad won the Swedish Cup. During his time with Halmstad, he made 139 appearances and scored 16 goals and he also won both the Swedish Cup and League title with the club. After two years with Halmstad, his star was on the rise with interest from Barcelona, Chelsea, Aston Villa, Parma and Arsenal.

Freddie was signed by Arsenal in 1998 for £3 million, Arsenal scouts watched him for over a year and Arsenal’s manager, Arsène Wenger, took the unusual step of authorising the signing after watching him play for Sweden in their victory against England on television, without seeing him play live. Freddie scored on his debut on 20 September after coming on as a substitute against Manchester United. He endeared himself to Arsenal supporters by having a bright red stripe in his hair. (A popular chant spawned from this to the tune of “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons: “We love you Freddie, because you’ve got red hair, we love you Freddie because you’re everywhere, we love you Freddie, you’re Arsenal through and through” Later when he shaved his head this was updated to “We love you Freddie, because you’ve got no hair”).

Freddie became the first player to score a goal at an FA Cup final outside England, when Arsenal lost against Liverpool in 2001 at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. A year later, against Chelsea, he became the first player to score in consecutive FA Cup Finals. He also scored a penalty in the shootout in Arsenal’s 2005 FA Cup Final victory over Manchester United. In 2008, he placed 11th in Arsenal.com’s Gunners’ Greatest 50 Players.

After nine years at Arsenal, Freddie joined West Ham United on a four-year contract, later agreeing to terminate his contract only one year into the four-year deal.

On 28 October 2008, MLS team, Seattle Sounders officially announced they had signed Freddie as their Designated Player for the 2009 season. The terms of his contract saw Ljungberg earn $10 million over two seasons with the Sounders. Much like the contract of David Beckham and as is the norm for professional sports stars in the US, Freddie’s contract allowed him to retain all of his private endorsement money.  In July 2009, Freddie was selected for starting MLS’ All-Stars; selection for the All-Star team is based upon votes from players, coaches, general managers, members of the media and an online fan voting system. Ljungberg received the most votes among fans, a testament to his popularity in the MLS. He was also appointed captain of the 2009 MLS All-Star Team in their game versus Everton.

He was traded to Major League Soccer club Chicago Fire on 30 July 2010, after 15 league appearances, Freddie announced that he would be leaving Chicago at the end of the 2010 MLS season.

He has represented his country at Euro 2000, the 2002 World Cup, Euro 2004, the 2006 World Cup and Euro 2008, and in total he has represented Sweden on 75 occasions.

On 24 August 2012, Ljungberg announced his retirement from football.

19. Gilberto Silva: 2002-2008.

Gilberto appeared in 244 games over a 6 year period.

Manchester+United+v+Arsenal+Premier+League+5LK__Q7P34HlBorn in Lagao da Prata, Brazil, he was raised in a poor family and as a child he balanced playing football with various labour jobs. He began his football career in 1997 with América Mineiro, where good form earned him a move to Atlético Mineiro in 2000. He became a star player for Atlético, playing for three years in the Brazilian Campeonato Brasileiro Série A. He came to particular prominence when he helped the Brazilian national team win the 2002 FIFA World Cup, playing in all seven of Brazil’s matches.

Arsenal signed Gilberto in August 2002 for a fee of £4.5 million. Upon signing Gilberto, Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger said, “What I like was the fact that he kept things simple. He can play all across the midfield but the holding role just in front of the defence is what he does best”. After two substitute appearances, he finally broke into the starting eleven on 27 August. He set a new record for the fastest goal scored in the UEFA Champions League, scoring after 20.07 seconds against PSV on 25 September 2002.

Even though he suffered a lapse in form towards the end of the season, he won an FA Cup winner’s medal, playing in the final at the Millennium Stadium as Arsenal beat Southampton 1–0.

The next season he was an important member of the squad that won Premier League title whilst going the entire season unbeaten. He played in 32 of Arsenal’s 38 unbeaten games during the season. In October 2005, Gilberto made his first appearance for Arsenal as captain, against Sparta Prague. Although Gilberto had a period of bad form during the winter months of the season, his form returned and on 17 May 2006 he played for Arsenal in the UEFA Champions League Final against FC Barcelona, which Arsenal lost 2–1. On 19 August 2006 he scored Arsenal’s first competitive goal at the newly built Emirates Stadium and was made vice-captain of Arsenal in 2006.

Gilberto was called “the invisible wall” his play often went unnoticed as he positioned himself between the two centre backs and the rest of midfield, breaking up opposition attacks before they could gather momentum. He played this role as part of the defensive unit for both club and country.  Both Arsenal and Brazil are both attack minded teams, and he created cover for attacking wing-backs and other midfielders who had a poor record of dropping back to help the defence.

According to ProZone (a data analysis system used by football managers) figures cited by The Sunday Times in January 2007, Gilberto was one of the few midfielders in England to attain “the elite Champions League level” of performance.

He made his international debut against Chile on 7 October, coming on as a substitute. On 7 November, in total he played in 93 games for Brazil.

20. Cesc Fabregas: 2003-2011.

Cesc appeared in 303 matches over an 8 year period.

Cesc was born in Arenys de Mar, Barcelona, he had supported FC Barcelona since childhood and went to his first match when he was nine months old with his grandfather. He began his club football career with CE Mataró, before being signed for Barcelona’s La Masia youth academy aged 10 in 1997. His initial training was as a defensive midfielder playing alongside notable names such as Gerard Piqué and Lionel Messi. He was a prolific scorer, sometimes scoring more than 30 goals in a season for the club’s youth teams.

Cesc+Fabregas+Arsenal+v+Barcelona+UEFA+Champions+ogSuLT1RuEKlSensing that he would have limited opportunities at Barcelona, he joined Arsenal in their Academy, when he was just 16 years old, signing on 11 September 2003. He made his debut for Arsenal not long after, on 23 October 2003, in a League Cup tie at home to Rotherham United. In doing so he became Arsenal’s youngest ever first team player, aged 16 years and 177 days. He then became the youngest goal scorer in Arsenal’s history in a later round of the League Cup, scoring in a 5–1 victory against Wolverhampton Wanderers. He signed his first professional contract with Arsenal in September 2004. He concluded that first season by gaining his first honours with Arsenal when he was in the starting eleven that defeated Manchester United on penalties in the 2005 FA Cup Final.

After the departure of Patrick Vieira, to Juventus, Cesc was given the number 4 shirt and featured regularly in the Arsenal central midfield alongside Gilberto Silva. He made 49 appearances in all competitions during the 2005–06 season.  He also played in the Champions League Final against his former club Barcelona, Arsenal were defeated 2–1. His increased exposure drew transfer speculation during the summer; Real Madrid expressed a desire to sign him despite his long-term contract with Arsenal.  On 24 November 2008, he was named as the Arsenal club captain. However he was ruled out for four months after sustaining a knee injury against Liverpool.

In August 2011, he signed for Barcelona, ending one of the most protracted transfer sagas in recent times. Statistics show that in the 5 years prior to his departure from Arsenal he created 466 goal-scoring chances, made 75 assists and scored 30 goals.

His international national career began when he represented the Under-17 side at the 2003 FIFA U-17 World Championship in Finland. As a result of his club performances, he was called up to the senior squad in 2006. He has played in the 2006 FIFA World Cup, UEFA Euro 2008, 2010 FIFA World Cup and UEFA Euro 2012, helping Spain to become eventual winners in the three most recent tournaments.

Written by GunnerN5 and compiled by Gooner in Exile