Written by BigRaddy
The Interlull (tm Arseblogger) allows assessment of the season so far, and despite the paucity of games, we have much to discuss.
I would like to start with our esteemed manager. Apart from the GK blip, Wenger has been very good with 3 top class signings in close season. In my opinion the biggest signing of the summer (or of any summer) was the renewal of Mr. Wenger’s contract. To agree such a long contract (4 years) at his age shows an enormous commitment by a 60+ year old and the level of his love of the club.
It should be remembered that AW could have gone to any club in the World and yet has chosen to stay; for all their wealth and glory neither Barca nor Real Madrid have managed to co-erce him away. Ask yourself this, had AW chosen to take the France manager’s position that he was offered, would France have so badly under-performed and would we be one of the top 6 teams in the World (we currently rank 4th in UEFA’s listings)?
In the games so far we have seen nothing new where substitutions are concerned. At Anfield, 2 subs on 60 mins and RvP on at 76 – Blackpool 3 subs within 3 minutes on the hour, and Blackburn, 3 subs , two through injury/tiredness and one to give Jack a runaround as he was annoying AW by playing with his gameboy. I have to say that I have been infuriated in the past with AW’s subs but this season he has changed things when the need has arisen. Taking off two attacking MF’s and replacing them with Vela and RvP at Liverpool was a very positive move and one which eventually brought results.
Mr. Wenger’s tactics have been spot on as well. The first half at Anfield was the template for what we have seen since, the classic Wengerball of possession, changes of pace, overlapping fullbacks and a high defence.
Almunia. Too much has been written about him, but in my opinion he has played as he always does, pulling of some fine saves but being inconsistent on crosses. The Liverpool game encapsulated Almunia – great saves followed by coming for crosses he had no chance of catching and in my opinion a mistake for Liverpool’s goal – I hate to see a GK beaten at his near post, no matter how hard the shot is. That said, he played a blinder at Ewood, and he is our GK.
The new signings are always under the microscope and I believe we have much to be grateful for. Koscielny’s baptism at Anfield was always going to be difficult, yet he passed with flying colours looking confident and comfortable, linking well with TV and covering Sagna when he attacked. The sending off was extremely harsh, though his first yellow for a full bloodied tackle was a delight to see. He is clearly a tough man, to come back after that dreadful tackle by Cole (as deserving a red card as any we will see this season) shows a determination to succeed at his new club. How he would have fared against a fully fit Torres remains to be seen. He wasn’t bullied by Blackburn and more than held his own with the aerial attacks, but he got badly turned by Hadj Diouf (spit spit) for Blackburn’s goal. One mistake in two games for a newbie is very acceptable.
The signing of Squillaci is very good. I cannot recall seeing him play, but the stats are very impressive. A man with huge experience, played in a CL final and a regular International. I believe he will be the first choice CB ahead of Koscielny in the big games. We have definitely strengthened in the centre of defence, by replacing the creaking limbs of Swiss Phil, WG and Sol with younger players with top flight experience.
Our two full backs have had differing starts. Sagna is in great form, both in attack and defence. One could say that he went missing for Blackburn’s goal but if he is to be an attacking threat (particularly with Theo going central), he is reliant on coverage from others. His is an awkward position because of Theo’s attacking skills outweighing his defensive abilities. How does Sagna choose when to go forward? As he is such a potent weapon both in adding numbers on the right side of attack and in allowing Theo to move centrally , his choices have to be perfect. The space behind him has to be filled by Song or Diaby, and he is dependant upon their awareness of Sagna’s forays.
Clichy has been criticised for his continuing poor form and many call for the emergence of Gibbs, but I think he needs more games to re-establish himself as one of the world’s top left backs. He has been turned too often for comfort and his distribution has been poor, in particular his crossing. However,class will out and Clichy is a class performer. Some of his interplay with with Arshavin is excellent as they become an effective team, I love to see Gael with the ball at his feet in a tight situation and with AA in front of him – they contrive to play almost magical football in turning defence into attack. It is also interesting to note that Blackburn were a non-existent threat down our left.
Vermaelen. Excellent as always. What a find this guy is, already the rock upon which our defence is built. Hard as nails, athletic and a fine reader of the game. The Blackburn game was the test to see if we had learnt to defend continual long balls and he led the defence in a manner the great TA would have been proud of. The signing of Squillaci has extinguished my fears should TV get a long -term injury, at last we have decent cover for this wonderful defender.
3 games. Two goals conceded. We look tight and secure and the communication appears to have improved. The only negative is no defender has scored yet.
Why is everyone worried about our squad for this season? We have 4 world class keepers, the envy of every other side and they will be rotated so that they all play once every 5 games, to keep them fresh and on their toes.
We have Sagna and Eboue who absolutely love each other and they have formed a pact so there is no bitterness whoever plays. Then we have Clichy and Gibbs. Clichy is changing his nationality to Ukrainian as he is embarrassed to be French and he knows that Gibbs will soon be taking over, yes an English left back,heavens forbid,therefore watch for an imminent departure by Clichy.
Song, our most improved player, will surely be in demand by some other club soon, most probably City, with a swap plus cash for the return of Adebayor. Vermaelen should be captain and he is the lynch pin and if he doesn’t get the armband he will demand a transfer, as Cesc has already told him privately that the armband is his.
If we’re lucky Djourou might actually complete one match while Koscielny will come goodif we give him three or four seasons. Traore, can’t go back to Pompey as they are nearly bust. Diaby is fighting fit, therefore expect at least 5 games from him, and I am told he is trying his very best not to break a team-mate’s leg.
Rosicky is only 30 so has at least 6 or 7 years left. Nasri is a star and has progressed so much pre season that another club will rape us yet again for his services. Wilshere at 18 is a future captain of England though he might get the record for the most red cards in a season.
Denilson like Bendtner has been on the nest too much and both will suffer terminal groin strains. Walcott has just realised that the England team he hopes to represent is in fact at football not the 2012 Olympics 100 metres sprint.
Arshavin will spend more time on his own web site and will finish up with his own chat show between games, as he never gets out of a stroll.
Vela wins the glamour stakes but will he actually get two consecutive games as commuting on a daily basis from Mexico will surely take its toll. Chamakh is everything we wished for and no worries about him as yet, as he hasn’t learned the ropes at Arsenal.
Gallas has decided it is better to play for us at 5K a week even if he scores the odd own goal. RVP is our star player, will he, can he, please, last a full season and of course Ramsey will be fit and ready to go in about 18 months.
Footnote: Gibbs,Wilshere and Walcott have made it into the England squad for Wednesday, so they are sure to be rested for a few weeks as we have to limit the younger players’ chances .
Finally there is Fabregas. Watch this space.
Written by kelsey
Written by ArseChicago
It’s surely somewhat paradoxical, but I feel the only way us Gooners are going to stop thinking so much about football is to actually watch it. What separates us humans from the other animals (and those unfortunate sub-human Spurs supporters) is the ability to think about such a wide variety of things that may or may not be troubling us. Thinking about mortality. Thinking about Cesc and his DNA. Thinking about buying Koscielny a round of protein shakes.
What do you get when you mix together several weeks of relatively idle time, about a hundred Arsenal blogs, laughable newspaper fiction, a gaping hole at centre back, and a mercurial, fussy manager sitting on a pile of cash? What you get is an Arsenal fan base thinking. And an Arsenal fan base thinking is an Arsenal fan base in pain (or at the very least, mild discomfort).
I’ve been a full-fledged Arsenal supporter now going into my sixth year, never really missing a match (even watching the taped Stoke match and the Ramsey incident late the afternoon the day I got married this year), and I probably can’t tell you all the interesting things I’ve learned about football. The transfer window and how teams are always contemplating a “shock swoop” or “raid” of a certain player. Holy shite, the diving (Rooney, you c&nt). And, damn, Sam Allardyce, are we sure it wasn’t you that had Princess Leia tied up in ‘Jedi’? And then there’s the Arsenal. I’ve learned that Wenger is stubborn and really likes his players to fit in the overhead compartments of airplanes. I’ve learned that the media and the referees do in fact have a bias against the club. And I’ve learned that we are in fact blessed with some of the most beautiful football on the planet on a weekly basis.
But the other thing I’ve come to learn, and something that’s really manifested itself to me this offseason, is that us Gooners are a hopelessly cerebral, smart, and over-thinking bunch (Highbury Library, anyone?). Are the blogs and the comment posters like myself on the blogs a fair representation of the Arsenal fan population? Because if so, the lot of us have gotten a wicked case of the mental blue balls this offseason, with no big Wenger spending spree to relieve us.
I follow a few of my cursed local teams here in Chicago, none as closely as our beloved club mind you, and I must say that nothing here compares to the passion and knowledge of this fan base and how impacted on a deeply emotional and intellectual level we are about our depth at centre back. Is that why it seems sort of quiet at the Emirates at times? Everyone’s thinking about stuff?
I’ve been reading the Arsenal blogs for some years now, some I like, some not so much. Some extreme, some benign. But this offseason in particular, I think we’ve started to go a bit overboard. Blame it on Barcelona, or Wenger’s frugality, or Capello’s squad not being cuddly and lovable on any level, but we’re spending too much time thinking about the squad this offseason. We all seem a bit disoriented (probably ever since Wigan), a little powerless, very frustrated from the near misses over the last few years. And we all seem to be thinking harder than ever as to how we can alleviate these feelings. Mostly, we can’t stop thinking and talking about what we don’t have.
I’m here to kindly suggest we start embracing what we do have here, and it’s not something I’ve been consistent in doing. It’s not a feeling resignation, but more of a happy abandon. We’ll need some luck, sure, but anyone winning the title will have enjoyed a material amount of luck along the way. There’s still a tremendous amount of hope and the bookies don’t vehemently disagree at 7-1 odds for our boys. And what should give us hope? Actually watching the game we spend so much time thinking about. Did any of you feel the excitement, the pride, a touch of optimism last weekend as the fantastic red and white, under the unusually blue sky, glided artfully across the perfect green pitch? Watching Jack almost nail one out of mid-air from outside the box? Watching Frimpong be a human pinball? Seeing Nasri look like a completely new man? Vela doing what we’ve always hoped? Chamakh and his powerful ballet?
If you spent any significant time whilst watching these matches this past weekend thinking about Cesc or Mertesacker or Schwarzer, then you’re not doing a good enough job watching. We’re just about here. No more thinking about it. Just doing. Win or lose against Liverpool, with or without Cesc, having 2, 3 or 7 centre backs on the team. It’ll just feel good to feel drained after a match again. Too tired to think.
The football season is back with us. The games at the Emirates this weekend enabled AW to showcase his two new signings, both of whom rose admirably to the occasion and gave a good account of themselves. We have a new attacker and defender that are comfortable on the ball and capable of seamlessly fitting into the Arsenal system, whilst adding a much needed touch of aggression at either end of the park.
This tournament last year introduced the chirpy Little Jack Wilshere to a wider audience than those real fans who were already in the know. Having gone to Barnet to watch the reserves play or sad souls like me who having subscribed to yet another pay TV channel saw the precocious 16 year olds awesome, performance against West Ham. Capped with a curling Henry like goal, right in front of the watching AW, sat on his own behind the goal.
Needless to say he was named man of the tournament last year, as indeed he was yesterday, somewhat luckily I felt. He played well enough and his shot on the volley that cannoned off the bar would have been another collectors piece had it been 6”lower. His immaturity showed through when he was conned by a clever body check into conceding a penalty.
His real success this year and the exciting part for many fans was his link up with another unknown from the Academy conveyor belt Emmanuel Frimpong an 18 year old, solid, tough tackling, defensive midfielder who will collect a card or two along the way but looks the warrior many have been crying out for. Together the two took on the Milan midfield and were not found wanting. To young to do it week in week out, but by the season end I am sure will be regular squad members who have a number of first team appearances – ready to become regulars next season.
Theo has taken a lot of stick recently, but I thought he showed on Sunday with two assists, what his pace and crosses can do for us, if only his team mates would attack the far post when he is making for the goal line. He too is far from the finished article but seems to me to be growing in confidence.
Finally, AW stated he was still in the market for a defender and yet still a hard core of Arsenal fans continue to doubt his word. I have been staggered by the number of conspiracy theories that follow AW press conference statements since the transfer window opened. Do we really doubt the integrity of the man that much; how would his constant critics react if they were treated so shabbily, it is not his fault that we are linked with half a dozen different defenders on a daily basis. Shouldn’t we wait until the window closes before we crucify the guy?
It was only a pre-season friendly but having taken the lead after 2 minutes following some wonderful build-up play I felt sure that Celtic were going to get a hiding. Watching the footage of the first goal again I was amazed to see Theo running back to stay on-side before LJ passed to him and he in turn flashed the ball across the front of the goal for the onrushing Vela to tap home. There, you see, Theo does have a footballing brain but sadly that was about the only time he used it.
Theo’s name receives the loudest cheer when the teams are announced, the collective wills of 60,000 people want our No. 14 to be the hero and its still not happening. His crosses were whipped into the box time and time again to no-one. Someone, somewhere has to be learning a lesson from this, if its not Theo then who??? On a positive note he did take a pretty amazing free-kick that he’s obviously been practising and was unlucky not to score.
Another player unlucky not to score was Wilshire who received the ball on the edge of the box from a Rosicky corner. His perfectly executed volley hit the bar and he was quick to head the ball as it returned to him but the keeper was as quick and denied the young mid-fielder his goal. Wilshire is also a hero in the making and there is talk of him being called up to the England squad. If he had scored with this volley he would have cemented his place in Arsenal folklore but I believe he’ll have many more chances to do that.
Thomas Vermaelen is already a hero in my book, he is aggressive in everything he does and the shot he blasted at the keeper must have stung his hands. He scored some great goals for us at the start of last season and I’m hoping that being the caretaker at the back doesn’t stop him getting the chances again.
But there was to be an unlikely hero in this game and it came in the form of Bacary Sagna who scored a fantastic goal in the last minute of the first half. All his team-mates rushed to celebrate with him and a few had wry smiles as they left the pitch for half-time thinking of the chances that had been missed.
It was hard for Arshavin and Chamakh to get any sort of hold on the game when they were introduced late on in the second half but Nasri was busy again playing in the Cesc role. Although Wilshire was awarded MOTM, Frimpong put in another solid performance and I hope he gets his chance. He’s lively and aggressive, had a few misplaced passes but always chased back after the ball.
It was all going to plan – 3-0 up and the party atmosphere was infectious cue panic and a nail-biting finish.
Celtic were awarded a penalty as Wilshire dragged a player down in the box which was skied by Samaras and then the visitors set about ruffling some feathers scoring two goals late on. We were again left with the familiar feeling of having played some beautiful football, created what could have been some amazing goals but we could have been undone by some chronic defending.
Here we go again ………………………….
After many months of speculation which has stirred up so much animosity amongst the Arsenal faithful, it finally looks as though this summer’s biggest transfer saga will not be settled until 2010 at the earliest.
In a statement that seemed to confirm how desperate he is to return to his hometown club, Jack Wilshere said: “It is what I have been dreaming of since I was a little kid, and that was weeks ago. In my heart I want to play for Stevenage Borough. Borough are in my DNA. They are also on my lunchbox. And my pencil case.”
Arsene Wenger was said to be saddened at the not unexpected statement: “There is very little we can do when a player has a desire like this. But I believe that we should expect a fair price for Jack, and that will not happen this year because of Borough’s finances. They may be champions, but they are not rich like me.”
This was taken to be a reference to the ten of thousands of pounds that Stevenage are having to invest in new CCTV cameras at their ground this summer in order to meet minimum Football League arrest quotas.
Meanwhile, in a stunt that was obviously intended to drive a wedge between the player and the Arsenal fans, Wilshere was grabbed from behind by a number of Stevenage Borough footballers during a live charity radio broadcast and was forced to dress up like a chav – the official Stevenage uniform.
One of the Stevenage players said: “It was all a big joke. Little Jackie loved it. We all know that he wants to play his football in our magnificent stadium with our magnificent fans, all within walking distance of North Hertfordshire’s biggest Primark.”
Stevenage’s other sporting genius, Lewis Hamilton, said: “This would be fantastic for Stevenage, and Stevenage deserves it. It such a fantastic, happy place to live, which is why I moved to Switzerland as soon as I got some money.”
Jack Wilshere is 14½
Written by mjc
This is just a bit of fun for a Sunday morning, we’re still around to debate serious Arsenal issues like our lack of defensive cover and whether Arsene Wenger is going to spend any more money in this transfer window.