Virgin Sacrifice: I presume

November 2, 2012

There are games one anticipates with hope rather than confidence. You know the ones, the top 3 away and of late the trip to the Cave Dwellers. I have never enjoyed our games at the Old Toilet, we rarely do well and when we do it comes as a surprise – yes, we have had some wonderful wins and some sterling performances but on the whole we struggle. We have won once at OT in 10 years (PL) and just 3 times in 20 years.

Then there was last season’s freak humiliation. And before you Kent United fans get uppity, the 8 goals came from 14 shots on target. we had 9, you had 3 corners, AFC 5. A freak result which owed much to good fortune and a dreadful defensive performance from a patched up Arsenal – Traore and Jenks were our FB’s (CJ’s first PL game).

All football fans know that SAF signed a pact with the devil – the percentage of dodgy refereeing decisions and decades of outrageous good fortune are testament to his trip down to the Crossroads but last season the Oil money bought his luck. The Chavs shameful CL victory and MC’s last-second PL win must have shaken The Gorbals  Guzzler down to the tip of his steel toed boots. Having already sold his soul Ferguson is surely looking at other avenues to ensure his team’s dominance over the fickle fates….. see below

Sir Alex prepares for the game

Let’s get the unpleasant stuff out of the way early. Brave Sir Robin. An inspired purchase by SAF, a purchase which could win them the title. For us, a shambles of Titanic proportions. To BSR we are the lover scorned and he will pay the price whatever Mr Wenger says.

What can we expect of today? None of the MU players who conceded 5 (as we did!) midweek will start, as such, Scholes, Cleverly and Carrick will be doing their best to cripple Santi and Jack.  Their defence is said to be shaky but whose wouldn’t given their injuries at CB ? We can but hope that SAF has a meltdown and includes Wooton.

It goes without saying that MU sport some of the most odious men playing today. Evra, Rooney, Nani, Rafael, Ferdinand , Anderson, Fletcher, Young – all  beetle headed baculum (look it up!). I hesitate to put Ashley Young amongst these miscreants but despite being a Gooner, if the cap fits…..

I expect Mr Wenger to take a conservative view; he will not want his team humiliated again – if last season was tough for us, imagine how it was for him.

My Team:

I fully expect to see both Arshavin and Walcott at some point, especially Theo after his fine performance at Reading. But today we will need solidity, should we reach the hour point on level terms I hope AW will bolster the attack.

Much focus will be upon the performance of Jack Wilshire. So much riding upon his stocky frame and the strength of his ankles. If he returns to the form of two seasons ago this Arsenal team will be very, very strong. It is one thing to close down Cazorla with 2 players but having another creative genius allows Arsenal to continue to threaten. We must pray that the referee (Mike Dean – the world is watching) will protect him because you know SAF will be telling his miscreants to kick two colours out of young Jack

It is a great shame Diaby is not fit as this would be his type of game, we will miss Gibbs as well because it is inevitable SAF will target Santos.

This is a game which George Graham would have relished; put the Famous 5 in place of the current back 5 and we would stand a much better chance. Actually, scratch that ….. put Seaman into this team and it would be transformed. The stats show we have conceded just 6 PL goals which is astonishing given our goalkeeping frailty; it is a testament to a team ethic. But and this is a huge BUT, no team wins things without a top goalkeeper and we are lacking. Let us pray to Dennis that AW has a proper GK in his sights this January – watching Julio Cesar perform heroics for QPR last week made me wonder why he wasn’t in our goal.

Today’s Top Man:  I promised you David Livingstone (1813 – 1873) and here he is in all his pomp and glory:

No Beard – Not Knighted

A Scottish Protestant Missionary, he was the first white man to cross Africa. He also tried to find the source of the Zambezi, a 6 year expedition during which he “discovered”/named Victoria Falls and Lake Malawi. He then traveled into the East African jungle where he got “lost” for 4 years. Such was Livingstone’s fame that the New York Herald sent out Henry Stanley to find him. They met on the shores of Lake Tanganyika with Stanley humorously greeting him with the famous words “Dr. Livingstone, I presume.”  Livingstone died in Africa (malaria), his heart was buried in Zambia, and his body brought back to England where it was buried in Westminster Cathedral

BR doesn’t make predictions but he would be thrilled with a point and promises to buy Mrs Raddy something expensive should when we win.

Written by Big Raddy


Arsenal’s Worst Injury News Ever

October 15, 2012

Following Theo Walcott’s worrying injury against San Marino (who knew you could bruise a lung?) this seems like a good time to ask what has been the most damaging injury we have ever suffered.

I don’t mean damaging to the player (because surely Ramsey and Eduardo would jointly walk away with that one… well, hop away at any rate).

I mean damaging to Arsenal’s fortunes at the time.

Yes I know it’s a downbeat subject, but I’m feeling downbeat during this ridiculous two-week interlull*.

I know we’re supposed to be all “Cry God for Harry, England and Saint George” when Ingurland are on international duty, but I really couldn’t give a Gareth Bale’s uncle.

And so to the injuries which, given our abysmal history in recent years, should be a topic close to the hearts of most of us.

Fabregas Fractured

In the 2009-10 season Cesc Fabregas is proving to be an inspirational player. As the final day of March arrives, we are entertaining his DNA buddies from Barcelona in the Champions League quarter final (first leg); we are also sitting just four points behind Manchester United in the EPL, with six games to go. The Barca game finishes a 2-2 draw, with Captain Fabregas grabbing a memorable equalizer.

Unfortunately it emerges afterwards that even as he hit that goal to send the Emirates into ecstasy, he was suffering a leg fracture. Cesc misses the rest of the season and, without him, our form slumps. We lose the second leg in Barcelona and in the EPL we win only two of our remaining six matches to finish the season in third place, 11 points behind United.

If Fabregas had stayed fit, might we have ousted Barca and pushed on to CL and league glory? The answer to the first question is almost certainly “no” and to the second… “maybe.”

Van Persie (1)

Same season, 2009-10, and Robin van Persie is in fine form. He is named Player of the Month for October after a string of goals and assists. On November 14th he turns out for Holland in a “friendly’ against Italy.

A nasty tackle by the Italian defender Chiellini leaves him with an injured ankle and, supposedly, a six week lay-off. Clearly not wanting to become another of the “Disappeared Ones” in the Arsenal treatment centre, Robin pops over to Europe for some treatment with horse placenta and – Bingo! – six weeks out becomes five months.

Would a fit Robin have potentially sent us into the final run-in several points AHEAD of United rather than behind them? With the form he was in – very possibly.

Eduardo Horror Tackle

We probably all remember that day at Birmingham a bit too well. Arsenal are top of the league, the team are looking strong and, surely, glory awaits. Then, within minutes of the kick off, a lumbering Brummie oaf – Martin Taylor – dives in on our in-form Crozillian striker Eduardo and snaps his ankle in two.

The team are traumatised; captain William Gallas sits in the centre circle crying at the end of the game and, subsequently, our form drops quicker then a Towie girl’s knickers on a night out in Basildon.

Could we have won the league in 2008 but for Eduardo’s break? Most definitely YES.

Snap! Ramsey Horror Tackle

It is unbelievable when our boys have to experience an almost identical assault on another of their team mates, Aaron Ramsey, two years (almost to the day) later. In this case the offender is the Orc’s Orc, Ryan Shawcross, and the venue is the Britannia Ground where those classy Stoke fans boo young Aaron as he’s stretchered off to hospital.

In fairness, the team’s reaction was stronger this time round but we still had a disappointing finish to the 2009-10 season.

Did Aaron’s injury make a crucial difference? Given his youth and inexperience, probably not – but with the subsequent loss of Fabregas a month later it certainly didn’t help our midfield options.

Van Persie (2)

Come to think about it, this whole Post could have been about Brave Sir Robin, but I’ll keep it to two. In 2007-08, following the departure of Thierry Henry, it’s BSR’s turn to step into the limelight. He starts just as we would have hoped, with seven goals in 10 games. Then – yes, you’ve guessed – he goes off on international duty and comes back crocked. His involvement for the rest of the season is sporadic, to say the least.

Notwithstanding the trauma following the Eduardo injury, Robin’s full time presence in 2007-08 might well have given us the edge to find our way to silverware.

Ashley Cole

Football’s most charming man misses most of the 2005-06 season through injury, before following the smell of Maureen’s filthy lucre over to West London. We finish third that year, just ahead of the Spuds.

Flamini does a good job filling in in an unfamiliar position, but we undoubtedly lose something with not having Cole’s defensive solidity and attacking threat.

Could we have won silverware with him? A long shot, but it’s a possibility.

Those are the most telling ones from recent memory. There must have been devastating injuries from previous eras but I can’t seem to recall them.

Players just didn’t seem to get injured so much in the pre-Premier League age. Or maybe they did, but they were just pumped full of cortisone and sent out to get on with it: “Bruised lung? You’re havin’ a larf. Here, hold still while I give you this jab… that’s it – now get out there and kick someone.”

For what it’s worth, I believe the Eduardo injury was the most damaging of the ones I have listed.

The team was cooking on gas and I – and many Gooners – really felt the title was there for the taking.

The collapse in the team’s morale after the injury was disappointing (whatever happened to “let’s win it for Stumpy”?) but I do feel that we might have celebrated a 14th league title if it hadn’t happened.

What do you think?

And what injury blows have I missed off?

RockyLives

* © Arseblog


#once a gooner always a gooner?

September 22, 2012

I often come across this hashtag on twitter about former Arsenal players. Usually it’s in reply to Cesc or Henry saying something complimentary about Arsenal. Personally I think Cesc should be #oncebarcaalwaysbarca but that’s just me. I’ve always wondered how Arsenal fans make up their minds about which former players deserve our support/love and which deserve our contempt and the ones we could say neutral. Here is a list. Make your own minds up

Dennis Bergkamp

Real name God. Finished his career at Arsenal after signing several 1 year rolling contracts. The most gifted Arsenal player in my limited experience.

My Verdict Always a gooner

Ian Wright

Ian was top scorer for the Arsenal until Thierry took his crown. Since he retired he likes to wind gooners up on talksh*te and says he’s a Millwall fan but I think his heart is in the right place.

My verdict Always a gooner

Tony Adams

“Mr Arsenal” Spent his entire career at Arsenal. Famously said “Remember the name on the front of the shirt and they’ll remember the name on the back”

My verdict Always a gooner

Patrick Vieira

He came from Senegal to play for Arsenal. He was a great player for us but I feel he’s tainted himself working (and tapping up our players) for the northern oilers.

My Verdict Traitor

Cesc Fabregas

Cesc came to us from the Barca academy when he was 16. It was inevitable that he would go back someday. I think his timing was all wrong. Whatever talent he naturally has, Wenger made him the player he is today (and he’s sitting on their bench)

My verdict Traitor

Ashley Hole

He was the best left back in a generation. Was offered 60K PW by Dein but the board objected and would only give him 55K famously making him swerve his car (if only) and go for a secret meeting with Maureen. Still can’t stop talking about us. I get the feeling he’s a bit bitter despite the trophies.

My verdict Traitor

Thierry Henry

Our all-time top scorer and Monarch. Like Cesc, he went to Barca but unlike the Spaniard he’d helped us to win trophies. He got the CL he wanted and dedicated it to Arsenal. Came back last winter and scored the winners against Sunderland and Leeds.

My verdict Always a gooner.

Robin van Persie

He was with us for 7 years, Spent a lot of time injured, had one season without injury and f***ed off. He grew up as an arsenal fan but the “little boy inside him” was screaming Manchester United.

My verdict Scum

There are plenty more but you get the idea:

Eduardo Always a gooner

Eboue Always a gooner

Freddie Always a gooner

Nasri traitor

Gilberto

Flamini

Lansbury

George Graham

Dixon

Seaman

What do you think?

Written by goonermichael


The Robin song does us no credit

September 4, 2012

I don’t think there is a better or noisier group of away fans in the Premier League than ours.

At the weekend, while the commentators pleasured themselves as they murmured about the “famous Anfield atmosphere” our boys and girls out-sang the Scousers all game long.

They were loud, supportive and funny.

I loved the many choruses of backing for Giroud as he plays his way (slightfully painfully) into the EPL and the hilarious Andre Santos song (“he drives how he wants”).

But for the second week running there was also loud singing of a Robin van Persie song that refers to the untrue rape allegation made against him very early in his Arsenal career (“she said no, Robin”).

I was saddened to hear this particular ditty and I’m trying to figure out why it bothered me (I have felt no such qualms about the songs of abuse aimed at Nasri and Adebayor).

The first thing – and I fully expect some people to heatedly disagree with me about it – is that I feel van Persie deserves more respect from Arsenal fans than many of the others who have angled for transfers in recent years.

He was at the club for a long time and although his glass ankles shattered far too frequently he always tried his best when fit. Last season he proved to be an excellent captain as well as a top striker and played a massive role in getting us to third place. If Robin had had 10% less effective last season we would now be settling in for “Thursday night, Channel Five” to quote another song that was belted out with gusto on Sunday.

He made one silly statement to force through a move – no doubt based on poor advice from one of his management team – in which he dared to assume that his view of how the club was being run was as important as Arsene Wenger’s. But apart from that he was quiet and dignified and has said nothing negative about Arsenal before or since. Nor do I expect him ever to do so.

Some people will never forgive him for going to Manchester United, but I’m sure the club could have sold him abroad if we had been prepared to accept less money, so he doesn’t share all the blame for that one.

(Incidentally, the other galling thing about that transfer is that, seeing United’s urine-poor performance against Southampton, they would be struggling for top four this year without van Persie).

The second thing that bothers me about the rape song is that it is factually incorrect. He was arrested following an allegation that, on police investigation, was determined to be unfounded. He was never charged.

Now I know that terrace songs are not meant to be judged on their accuracy (although it is incontestable fact that the w*nky T*ttenham Hotsp*r did, indeed, go to Rome to see the Pope and he did, indeed, tell them to f*ck off), but this is the equivalent of the scummy fans from Old Toilet and Riot Hart Lane singing about the false claims made against Arsene Wenger in his first days in the Arsenal job.

And let’s not forget that when the allegation was made against Robin he was one of ours. To sing that song now just makes us look like hypocrites. It would be fine to ridicule him for an indiscretion committed while under someone else’s colours, but for something he did (or didn’t do) as a Gooner? Really?

Thirdly, it bugs me that we have adopted a song that was invented by opposition fans who wanted to abuse one of our players. Surely we can do better than tinkering with other people’s sloppy seconds.

Finally I’m against the chant because it feels low class. One thing that has always separated Arsenal, its players and its supporters from other clubs is that we have conducted ourselves better than them. Even now in an age of crazy oligarch spending the way we run our club is a clarion call for sense and integrity.

And in that context seeing Arsenal fans abuse their former captain and hero over an untrue rape charge he faced while he was under our protection just sticks in my craw (not sure where my craw is, but that’s where it sticks).

On balance I would prefer that we didn’t abuse van Persie at all (although I’m probably in a minority on that one) and I would love to see us give him a polite round of applause when he takes the field against us in recognition of what he did for us last season. That would be classy.

Having said that, if the away fans want to abuse Robin (and they, more than anyone, have the right to sing what they want) I would rather see them restrict it to the bit about him being a front bottom. Or wait until he commits some new indiscretion while belonging to Manchester United and lambast him for that.

Or come up with a new chant that has wit rather than classless insult – maybe something about him and Fergie, or him and Rooney.

In fact – how about we try to come up with a new van Persie song ourselves? Any offers?

RockyLives


The revolving door – Where’s the legacy?

August 23, 2012
“…let us sit upon the ground
And tell sad stories of the death of kings”
                                    ~King Richard, Richard II

What a start to the season last weekend. It started with the heir apparent running off before his coronation, continued through a war of attrition in our first game, and ended with us Songless. It’s the two men who’ve left I’d like to address as one word has been bothering me with regards to the way players seem to leave us these days…

Legacy.

I go to games with my dad, who drives 300 miles to games and has been going to the Arsenal for 50 years. I learned a lot about the history of the club, the players who’ve passed through and the managers who’ve overseen it all from him. My dad always…ALWAYS… speaks well of the players of the ‘60s, ‘70s, early ‘80s even…and the late ‘80s, ‘90s and early 2000s he gets misty eyed about them. Players like McLintock, Radford, George, Graham, Rix, Brady, Nicholas, Merson (responsible for a haircut my dad made me have that I’ve never lived down) and more are remembered very fondly……but time moved on and so did they.

Over the last few years we’ve seen a procession of players sold by Wenger. This is nothing new, he did it before the oil barons started throwing their cash at him. Shockingly, even Rioch, Graham, Howe and Neill sold players. The managers before them sold players, too. Were we angry? Rarely. Why do we get so angry now? It’s how they leave.

Brady left us way too early…my dad was gutted, not angry (even though he’d named my brother after him in ‘78!). McLintock went off to ply his trade in west London just two years after captaining us to the Double. George…Derby….Graham? Manchester United. Were people angry? No…disappointed. When Frank Stapleton went to Manchester United, though…that’s recalled with some resentment as he forced through a move to Old Trafford, with the fee having to be set by a tribunal…he was top scorer for three years, part of a team that went to Wembley three seasons on the spin, scoring in game against Man Utd…but now? Persona non grata as far my old man is concerned.

More recently, in the Wenger era, we’ve become Barcelona’s favourite shop. Hleb and Song have left in acrimonious circumstances…Henry and Fabregas only slightly less so, with their moves to Catalonia seen as inevitable by most, although neither move was welcomed. But what about the first two they bought? Overmars and Petit left us in 2000 for the Nou Camp. It was dealt with quietly – we got a pile of cash (by 2000 standards) for two of our best players – and it was very much in the traditional manner of moves, nothing but a sense of disappointment and a shout of “good luck” from Arsenal fans.

Then there’s the moves of Adebayor, Nasri, Flamini and most of all Ashley Cole to make my point. Cole…who admitted to nearly crashing when heard of a derisory £3m a year contract offer from Arsenal is now busy revising history to suit his new, 2012 version of events…it’s no longer about the money, y’see, he left to “win the European Cup”. So what if it’s 6 years later? From his armchair made of cash he laughs and shouts “F*** you, Cole don’t care…whatever…you’ll believe any old crap”. The other three, too, have been portrayed as mercenaries. Adebayor seems all set to fill Bogarde’s place in the record books as most expensive reserve team player ever.

Nasri…same as Cole. Bleats about leaving to win things when everybody knows the truth…otherwise why does he feel the need to go on? Two others have made the same move to Eastlands in the Wenger era…both are recalled fondly, neither encounter the boos and vitriol that the other three do. Clichy and Toure. Why? Because they were “good leavers”. When asked about our club, they’re always complementary. They didn’t force through moves publicly, didn’t badmouth the manager, the board, the fans and have acted with humility. See! It can be done!

RVP is a tough one…can see why he left (29, last big contract, wants trophies…*pukes*…), but not the ridiculous statement made on his website. Did he tarnish his legacy? Will it always be one of injuries and treachery or will we remember the glorious goal at Charlton, his magic 2011 and his decent captaincy?

If he went abroad…I’m sure it would be the latter. But Man Utd?! Sure we’ll find out at OT when 4,000 away fans get to vent their feelings…

As for Song – I remember (although I may be mistaken) early on in his Arsenal days, Wenger tried to sign one of the de Boers from Barca. Bid was turned down and he “threatened to go on strike” according to reports. Wenger refused to sign him after that…honourable. Is a player ever right to force through a move? Will Song’s legacy at Arsenal be one of a bad attitude, laziness and forcing his way out?

With all the transfers out of club over the years…which have left you with the worst memories? And which players do you think handled their exits in a way that didn’t tarnish your memory of them?

Written by Rhyle


Farewell Robin ……. shame it’s ended this way

August 16, 2012

So that’s it then, it’s official, Robin van Persie is on his way.

It’s a pity it’s ended this way, with van Persie (prompted by his agents, Kees Vos and Darren Dein) having forced his way out of the club by publicly undermining the club of which he was captain. It was clear when he came on as a sub against Cologne at the weekend, when the Arsenal fans in the house gave our erstwhile hero the most tepid of welcomes, that his statement had hit home; his hero status had evaporated.

But for all our frustration that we’ve lost our best player to our principal rival, and the sense of betrayal at the way that move was engineered, despite the time and money invested in a player who has had the worst of injury records and who was an under-achiever for years, we should remember the good times. His final Arsenal stats are more than respectable: in 278 competitive appearances (67 as sub), he scored 132 goals (at a rate of 0.47 goals per game) and provided 62 assists. But it should also be recalled that he has only surpassed 11 league goals in a season twice, last season (30) and the one before that (18). And he started more than half the league games only twice in his eight-year career with us.

He joined from Feyenoord for just £2.75m on 17 May 2004, arriving with a reputation as a trouble maker, his relationship with manager, Bert van Marwijk, having long since deteriorated into a feud. After a shaky disciplinary start with us (remember the silly red card he got, playing against Southampton, which prompted that rarest of things, the public Wenger rebuke), van Persie settled into his new position in the front line and began knocking in goals on a regular basis. And what beauties they often were: volleys, sweeping shots to the far post, little dinks over the oncoming keeper, pinpoint shots to the corner, his repertoire included all of them. Scuffers weren’t much of a feature. His cool head and intelligence were obvious. Yes, he is arrogant, but his talent justifies that arrogance. Thierry Henry said of van Persie: “Without going too far he has everything a footballer would dream to have. He can play anywhere he wants. I am not joking, it is up to him and his desire.”  And in January 2006, he signed a new long contract, saying “I am very happy with my team-mates and the boss. In fact a lot of my progress is down to him and his faith in me.”  As we can see from his “I want to move” statement from a few weeks ago, six years is a long time in football.

Here’s a link to a compilation of his Arsenal goals (be warned, the vid is 26 minutes long): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AVzsSNDWRig. There are some real beauties (I’m especially fond of the double at the Bridge last season, the equaliser in the 5-2 against Spurs, a howitzer of a free kick against Sunderland a few seasons back, that near post equaliser in the 2-1 win over Barca and the amazing midair volley against Charlton years back). But looking back through that compilation, it’s noticeable that the last two seasons take up almost half the video. And in a sense, that underlines some of the disappointment about van Persie’s career: he’s been with us for years, Wenger took a rough young diamond and polished him into a real gem, but we never really got a full return from him. Injury after injury robbed van Persie and us of continuity until two seasons ago.

And just when we thought we might be able to have him lead us back to the top, he’s off.

There will be plenty of bitterness expressed about his departure for Man United, and his return to the Home of Football on 27 April 2013 is likely to be a feisty affair. Whatever happens between now and then, it is almost impossible to think that van Persie will return with any of the positivity that came with the return in enemy colours of Henry, Vieira, Pires and Fabregas. He forced his move and has joined one of our main rivals. But personally, I won’t have a go at him when he comes back to Ashburton Grove, I might even applaud him. Our bitterness won’t really have a lot to do with his selfish, disloyal statement, that will be long gone by then; the root of the bitterness will be the helplessness we feel at seeing yet another star that Wenger has created turn tail and join a direct rival. But can we really blame van Persie for that? After all, we exploit other the ambitions of other clubs’ players, so why should we criticise a player who sees a chance to guarantee himself a four-year contract worth at least £40m?

Van Persie’s departure underlines a few things: players, now more than ever, and whatever they say about loving the club and the fans, do not have anything close to the feeling for a club that fans do. I’m sure most players look on us as the over-emotional patsies who fund their gargantuan incomes but even those who have some feeling for the clubs they’re with (and I include van Persie in that group) in the end, and quite rationally, follow their self-interest. Even the big one-club players around usually wanted to leave at some point (Adams and Vieira wanted to go to United, Terry wanted to go to City and Gerrard wanted to go to Chelsea). Gary Nevilles are truly rare things. If we were just to accept that players are not and never will be like us, we’d probably feel a lot calmer about things.

Van Persie has also shown us that we will continue to lose quality players for so long as we don’t win silverware; it’s a chicken and egg thing, since if we still had the likes of van Persie, Fabregas, Nasri, Adebayor, Hleb, Clichy, Cole, Flamini, Diarra and Toure, chances are we’d have been top of the pile by now. But let’s face it, the reality of the Abramovich-Abu Dhabi age is that we’re just going to carry on losing these players until somehow we start winning trophies – just as van Persie learnt from Nasri, so the younger players in the squad (Song, Walcott, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Wilshere) will learn from van Persie. This will go on until the cycle is broken. But in the circumstances, for the club to get £22m to £24m for a player with only one year on his contract and who has publicly declared he won’t renew really is great on the business side. I still wish he’d stayed though.

The transfer is, as many have observed, a weird one for Ferguson. Every United fan I know says this deal doesn’t make sense. They only have two full backs, no defensive midfielders, ageing central midfielders, poor goalkeepers and centre backs who are ageing or flawed. The only departments in which they are well served are on the wings and up front. And yet the want to blow more than £60m on a 29-year old striker with only two decent seasons behind him and lots of injuries. No matter how good he is, that is very odd. I’m sure van Persie will be a success next season, but after that? I doubt it. It does make sense for van Persie though, it is the best route to the pot of gold at the end of his career. I don’t mean that in a bitter way, he’s entitled to pursue his career as he sees fit, he just didn’t need to do it quite like this. Perhaps there will be some after-the-fact PR efforts at appeasing us in the coming weeks.

What now? Well, the first thing for players, coach and fans alike is to dig in: the first game can’t come soon enough now, we need to get going and start showing why we believe in this squad, even without van Persie. And it is a very good squad, capable of taking the fight to our rivals – we’ll be written off by the know-nothing pundits of course, we are every year, but with Cazorla, Podolski and Giroud, as well as the quality players we have, we can compete. One advantage of having gone through these experiences so often in the past six years or so is that we are used to it, we know how to cope.

Will there be a signing to make good the gap left by van Persie? I think so, but I very much doubt it will be a star like Fernando Llorente. More likely Poldi will get the starting slot up-front, with Giroud being a tactical option, and a quality squad player like Clint Dempsey being recruited to provide depth. An interesting rumour that hit newsnow tonight (love those rumours!) was that Javier Hernandez might come our way, having been bumped down to fourth choice at Old Trafford. I really can’t see that happening, but if it did, great, the Little Pea is a proper striker.

So long, Robin van Persie. You promised much, delivered some of it, and spoiled it at the end. I hope your move to Manchester is a disaster on the pitch, but that you get every penny you wanted.

Written by 26may1989


Man in Cologne – Match Report

August 15, 2012

As most of you will have watched highlights or even the full Köln-Arsenal match, I won’t bore you with match details, and will stick to my personal view of the game, and a few bits of information picked up along the way!

Well it was certainly a gloriously day for a game – the sun shining and the wind, which had been gale force earlier in the day, dropped to a gentle breeze.

Köln is a very civilised place to watch a match! You can grab a beer and chillax on the grassed park outside the stadium – no police enforced drinking exclusion-zones here!

Chillaxing pre-match with a civilised beer

The local fans seemed to be in carnival spirit – I guess they were all here to see off Podolski. Interestingly, many of the new 2011-12 shirts worn by the fans have Podolski’s name on the back, even though he’s left. Put simply, he is their Thierry Henry!

The Arsenal fans in attendance were a strangely mixed crew. About half, I would guess, were your die-hard North London bunch. The rest were a mix of noisy Poles, smiley Swedes and a fair number of ex-Pats gooners from the local area happy get to see Arsenal in their adopted city for the second year running.

I normally wait to the last minute to go into the Emirates (one of the many drawbacks of being a smoker), but decided for once to have a look at which players would warm-up for the match. I certainly didn’t expect to be able to drink and smoke in my seat, which was a pleasant surprise!

And so to the action….

Before kick-off, Stevie Bould did ten or so laps of the pitch with Miquel Arteta, so he’s obviously not too far off from match fitness.

All the players looked fit and relaxed in warm-up, with Van Persie taking the central place in an extended one-touch keepy-up exercise.

At kick-off, we had ourselves a triple debut. Carzorla, Giroud and, of course, Podolski. Must be the first on this scale since Overmars, Petit and Grimandi back in 1997.

Podolski looked very sharp and I expect we will see him very early in the season (perhaps even straight away). He gets a massive reception from the Köln fans.

Giroud makes a lot of space – he’s tall and agile and looks like a very intelligent player. Strikes me as a straight-forward Chamakh upgrade.

But it’s Carzorla that really catches the eye. There’s a puzzle in the Radio Times every week with a wheel of letters and one letter in the centre, and you have to make as many words as possible, but always use that centre letter. That centre letter is the closest I can come to describing the role that Carzorla has in the first half. And even when he doesn’t touch the ball, his positioning and his runs make space for the move to progress. His two-footedness is quite a revelation, as is his balance, which seems impossible to read. Expect him to win a lot of free kicks this season from less intelligent centre-backs.

Cazorla’s link-up play with Oxlade-Chamberlain is pure poetry to watch. Fast, penetrating passes which leave the Köln midfielders dizzy.

The Arsenal defence doesn’t have much to deal with, but looks surer of itself that last season. I also believe that we can expect to see Arsenal holding possession much longer this season, and that, based on more passing options being available now, loss of possession will tend to occur lost further up the field. Both of which should help with the goals-against column.

So, three-nil at half-time:

Bouldy-style flick-on by Mertersacker converted by a Vermaelen bullet-header;

Ox wins a penalty which Podolski converts;

Podolski gets his second – a clinical finish from a low Gibbs cross.

The Köln fans sing Podolski’s name for both goals as if he had scored for them!

Half-time brings cool Kölsch beer delivered to your seat!

 A beer? In view of the pitch? It’s unthinkable!

And the second half kicks of with eight or nine changes, I believe (the accumulative effect of the local ale is gradually take its toll!)

Gervinho looks more settled than last season and scores a lovely goal to make it 4-0.

From this point on the game goes into kick-about mode. It’s almost as if Peter Hill-Wood had wandered into the dressing room at half-time and said: “OK chaps, one more goal and then clam it down. Don’t forget we are guests here!”

When RVP comes on at about the hour mark, the booing commences. By two big fellas who hadn’t made a single noise up to this point. A few of the Poles join in – they are by now quite drink! Most of the Arsenal fans tell them to shut up, which they gradually do. The two fat chaps carry on booing, and seem pleased with themselves.

Booooo! Booooo!

So it all gradually grinds to the halt of the final whistle. Vier-null to the Arsenal. Podolski is the very last to leave the pitch and spends a good ten minutes with the Köln fans saying his goodbyes. I expect he will be back here once his Arsenal days are over.

As I walk back from the ground I am accosted by a middle-age couple who wish to show me photographs on their iPhone. I am naturally quite anxious about this. However, it turns out that they had entered a half-time competition for the Köln fans, and had won the opportunity to talk and have photos with an Arsenal player straight after the final whistle. They just didn’t know who he was. The pictures shows a very happy, smiling Robin Van Persie, who the couple said was really funny and joking and talked to them for 20 minutes or so.

Is this the same RVP who was supposed to be sulking in a dark corner of the away dressing room, desperately trying to reach his agent for an immediate move to Old Trafford because he couldn’t stand the boo-boys (or at least that what The Sun would have us believe).

In any case, did we see the birth of Wenger’s Arsenal version 4.0 today? Quite possibly. We will see tougher opposition, and blind refs, and northern swamps, all of which will test this new experiment.

But it’s looking promising. Very promising. Can’t wait until Saturday!

Written through a beery haze by mjc


Arsenal better with or without Van Persie ?

August 10, 2012

The answer to this question seems obvious to me. But I have heard enough contrary opinions here and elsewhere.  Of course, this is all out of our hands, we can only give our opinions – but that’s what we all do here.

With the  recent addition of Santi Cazorla, on top of Podolski and Giroud deals, the media and vultures on the internet and print are making up stories about a van Persie u-turn and re-sign. I don’t believe there is any proof to substantiate this. It’s just one of those suppositions that is interesting enough to grab some attention. Even though it’s very unlikely to happen, it’s worth thinking about.

We don’t know how things will play out with other comings and goings probable in the next few weeks. The changes likely to occur will affect midfield mostly, and defense and possibly a bit on the wings, depending on Walcott’s situation. But if you look just at the striker situation, I think the answer becomes pretty simple.

I’ve heard and read hundreds of comments about how RvP should be “sent packing”, how it’s best for the team, morale, harmony, clubhouse, etc not to keep an unhappy player. Also about how we could use the money. Personally, I never worry about the money situation when it comes to wealthy people or corporations, they will handle that as they wish, regardless of our opinions. I only worry about my own finances. Lastly, about how we would never see him the same way even if he does stay.

I will say this about the current rumours about VP to United – I think it’s all insane. I don’t believe it no matter how many articles are written. It would be one thing to sell to the competition, a ton of money to sell to Man City would not be out of the realms of possibility, because he is a luxury for them, he would play occasionally, and only make them a little better. Another example (not that it would ever happen), but – if you added van Persie to Tottenham, they would still not be good enough to beat us the way we are shaping up. But to sell to United, (which wouldn’t be overwhelming money anyway) it could put them over the top. He could really help them. All the class Arsene has instilled in him could make them much better. I believe, as we stand, we are a better team than United, and if we play up to our ability, we will surpass them this season, and a long time to come. I know Arsene is aware of all this, so there is no reason to entertain their offer. Let them wait another year (or forever).

I prefer to just look at the actual football effect if van Persie leaves. I believe Wenger has stated that Bendtner is leaving. For me, he would have been a solid third choice striker behind Podolski and Giroud, but he even stated himself that he will not play for us again. That leaves Chamakh in that spot.

Now if van Persie were to play for us this season there would be alot of benefits all around. First, the leagues best striker playing in his perfect system again, this time with some actual opportunities to be rested properly. Time for Podolski and Giroud to be worked in slowly. The chance for Pod to get in some time on the wing to give more goal threat from there. Then some talk of mixing in a bit of 4-4-2 for a change. Some chances to experiment with van Persie playing behind Giroud. And- all this along with Cazorla. Tell me that’s not enticing.

Finally, a question that I have posed here before to those (myself included), who were hurt and angered by RvP’s statement, but more to those who say they would never forgive him, or would rather have the money from his sale. How would you feel watching the first match against Sunderland, if van Persie scores one, and/or assists one. Watching him celebrate with his teammates? I have a feeling the players would accept him back happily. Would it matter if it was just for one last season. Would it be that hard to forgive him?

I believe it’s still Arsenal who decides where he plays THIS season. Not the papers, websites or Talksport; not the clubs he may be talking to, and certainly not his agent.  At this point I couldn’t care less where he dreams of going and being paid. Our dream is to have a fantastic season, and to show everyone that Arsenal is back at the top.

Written by jnyc


Van Persie …….. he signs when he wants?

August 4, 2012

I am quite surprised to still find Arsenal supporters who actually believe that van Persie was serious when he wrote that he was not going to renew his contract because he wanted to go to a club where he would win trophies.

Although, I am not 100% convinced that he personally wrote or even endorsed the piece that everyone refers to on the web site that bares his name; I do think on balance that we have to believe it because, quite simply, he has never denied it. Either way, one indisputable fact remains and that is that he has not signed a new contract but in my view it is absolute tosh that the trophy thing is the real issue.

The idea that you are going to automatically re-sign to Arsenal is naïve to the point of being childish.

Put yourself in his and his family’s shoes and the truth jumps out at you. You are 29 you have one last chance of securing yourself a long contract. Given this back drop, 99% of adults with half a brain would shop around, which is exactly what Van Persie is doing right now and if a club offer him a 5 year deal; well, he is going to take it in the same way as Vieira did at Juve.

There is a further similarity between these two players as it raises the same question then with Vieira as now with Van Persie: do Arsenal really want to keep the Dutchman? Well, they didn’t want Vieira enough to match Juve’s five year offer and I don’t believe that Arsenal would be prepared to commit to having to pay van Persie with his injury record for a further five years.

On a side note, has anyone else noticed how we have formed an unlikely alliance with manu over the potential purchase of  RvP. What I mean is that it has suited both sides to let this rumour continue.

There is no way in the world that manu are going to push the boat out for a 29 year old injury prone player with the resale value of a two week old fish. But, to their naive fans that have their heads buried in the sand like ostriches trying desperately to deny a new footballing financial world exists; a world in which they are dwarfed by city and have no more financial clout than we do. Ok, so they probably realise they have dropped in the pecking order to City but there is no way they are ready to accept spending parity with us. To the average manu fan the possible purchase of RvP gives the impression that they are on a higher financial rung than we are which with their annual interest payments is nonsense. What we get is that manu’s involvement will drive RvP’s price up.

When this manu interest evaporates as could other clubs interest in him then Van Persie may well stay but it will have nothing to do with winning trophies, it will be all about taking the best offer on the table.

He’s Robin van Persie he signs when he wants.

Ok, that bit probably gave away the fact that I still have a soft spot for Sir Robin and it would take no more that one swim around the goldfish bowl for me to forget all about the nasty stuff and welcome him back with open arms.

Did anyone else do this? When I read that he was not going to sign a new contract one of my first knee jerk reactions was to zap my favourite game of last season – Chelsea away.

You remember, Terry pretending that he fell over to mask his lack of speed and RvP running on to score. I thought at the time of zapping that there is no way I could watch that game ever again – but now I am starting to think, what happens if he stays? Has anyone else got that game recorded because I am really going to have to come round someone’s house to watch it again?

Written by LB


Will Arsenal Prove van Persie Wrong?

July 28, 2012

At the time you read this, some events may have overtaken it, and I truly hope that is the case. Names in, or names out, either would make me feel good. Like most of you, one of the first things I do each day is check the news about Arsenal. Again, like last summer, this is not a normal transfer season. For me, it’s filled with anxiety, partly because of the betrayal of Van Persie.

But I have to be honest, we can’t blame it all on the RvP situation. To me, we as a club have something to prove, and I don’t mean on the pitch.

When I say we have something to prove, it is to people like van Persie and Na$ri, but also our competitors, media, and football watchers everywhere. You’ve heard the phrases, “big club”, “small club”, etc. Trust me, I am not just talking about spending, I don’t expect us to splash 30 mil on a Hazard or Benzema. It’s about how the club does business in general.

At the close of last season, we were all hopeful of keeping RvP, and watching him end up as an Arsenal great. And I personally was hoping to see a couple moves by the club to strengthen.

I like the early Podolski move. I think he was meant as a more aggressive scoring winger, and RvP back up. After that, I didn’t want to fixate on any specific players, because I see that Arsene is less likely to go for the names thrown around in rumours and the press.

My biggest fear is that RvP was right, and that the team is unwilling, or unable to add some quality to put us over the top. Would we have paid for Giroud if RvP extended with us? I doubt it. But, you see, that’s the point. Giroud is exactly the kind of player a club with ambition would want as another option to mix in or use creatively with RvP. Not inexpensive, but if you are an attacking team, serious about challenging for titles, with an injury prone striker- you should expect an addition like this.

We all envisioned ways of using van Persie with Giroud and Podolski. Let’s face it, it’s less exciting without RvP. On top of that, we don’t know if the club was ever considering us having both.. We will get the answer to this– it WILL BE in the price and destination of RvP, or if he were to stay. I am on record here that keeping him rather than taking a low offer shows everyone that we are not sellers desperate for money, and that the club and Arsene make decisions, not disloyal players.

I worry that we are not closing deals coming in because we are on hold because of RvP’s status. Either we don’t intend to strengthen, or we can’t afford it. That would be bad news for a club of our size. If there is a quality player available, that would improve our line up, or strengthen our depth over the long season, we should be able to do it without selling our biggest players. It appeared we needed to sell Cesc last season before adding Mertesacker, Arteta, and Santos. I considered Gervinho as Nasri’s replacement and profit, so i was satisfied with that.

Just look at our starters at Old Trafford last season. There will always be injuries, of course, but also bans, the annoying African cup of nations, and who knows what else. We already know that we have very important players who will not be ready at the start of this season, like Jack, Sagna, and Rosicky, and he is dealing with an Achilles ! They will all have to be worked in slowly and carefully, for their future health, and the good of the team. I won’t even mention the perennially injured players by name, because I am wishing good luck for them.

For example,Coquelin will be needed at RB at times, so we are not that deep in DM. If we brought in a quality DM, it would free up Arteta to help out in more advanced areas, and get him the rest he needs also. Song would be free to sit out the occasional suspension, ACON, -and again, — I dont want to worry about him refusing to sign an extension this season, he already said no last season, so it would be nice to have someone in place rather than scrambling at the last moment.

Up front, there’s too much to discuss, with Theo, RvP unresolved, and all the rumours going around. Again, let’s keep some pressure off Wilshere and Ramsey. Wilshere- physical pressure, Ramsey- psychological. I’d also like to work the Ox in more than last season, but not depend on him yet.

I know that most clubs have unresolved issues, but I am only concerned about ours. And, our first few fixtures this season are very difficult.

For me, one more good addition would make me very happy, two, and I would be thrilled. I don’t want to speculate, but the names linked to us lately, at AM, and DM, if brought in, would give us incredible depth. They would, in my mind- put us ahead of United and Chelsea.. leaving us fighting for a title with city. As we say, in my humble opinion.

So, the clock is ticking. Will we let our lack of depth, and RvP holding us hostage ruin the beginning of another season, which, in turn leaves us only fighting for fourth again? Or will we show everyone that we as a club, mean business.

Written by jnyc