Softly Softly Catchee Monkey: Wenger Secretly Moving for Bale?

July 6, 2011

Something is going on at Arsenal.

Behind the scenes there is plotting and planning on a scale that has not been seen at the club for over a decade.

Of course I have no proof of this: it’s pure speculation just like 99.9% of what you read in the newspapers and in the Arsenal blogosphere (all sound and fury signifying nothing, to quote old Bill Shakespeare).

But call it a feeling in my water, a tingle from the old war wound, the way the tea leaves are lying at the bottom of my cup: to my mind there’s no doubt – Arsene is up to something.

I really think he is going to pull a transfer rabbit out of the hat – something to surprise and delight the Arsenal faithful and to stick two metaphorical fingers up at his critics.

What could it be?

A secret move for the N17 MonkeyMan himself? He would be an ideal replacement for either Clichy or Nasri. It would be the greatest coup since we landed Big Sol.

Or a marquee signing like Ibrahimovic or Falcao? I know the conventional wisdom is that we don’t ‘do’ marquee signings, but I wouldn’t rule it out this summer.

Maybe it could be a big triple announcement of quality players like Gervinho, Cahill and Mata.

Whatever it is, something’s brewing and I am eager to see it.

So far all the press coverage has been about some of our young, overpaid players who, having failed to deliver when the chips were down, now want to move away for money, glory, or both.

Brats leaving a sinking ship?

Not really, because the good ship Arsenal is a tough old bird and she has weathered bigger storms than this. She will still be afloat long after those players’ careers have sunk into obscurity.

But the concerted media onslaught to incorrectly suggest that we are a club in crisis and facing an exodus takes a hard toll on us supporters, who so far have had a rough summer.

First we got a glimpse of the new away kit. When I saw that strange pattern and colour I thought it was a pigment of my imagination. But no. It really was our away strip.

Then there was the re-ignition of the Cesc-to-Barcelona saga, with all its tedious, morale-sapping predictability.

Then Samir Nasri got kidnapped by that odious scumbucket Patrice Evra on the Riviera (if you don’t believe me, just consider that an anagram of Evra’s name is “Rare Captive”, which is exactly what he had in Sami). Evra proceeded to pour poison in his ear and suggest he should leave Arsenal if he wanted to win things.

Then we had to look on as other clubs (Liverpool, Man United and Man City) appeared to be acting fast and decisively in the transfer window.

Meanwhile at Arsenal… nothing.

I can understand fans’ frustration with the radio silence coming out of our club, but we ought to have more faith. Arsene Wenger has repeatedly said he will be active in the market this summer and I believe he will be. He has known for a very long time that Clichy was leaving – do you really think he has not planned a replacement?

He clearly wants Nasri to stay – but not at any cost. If Samir leaves I would be disappointed, but not devastated. As many have said before me, he had a good half a season and was poor when it really mattered at the business end of things. He’s a quality player, but not as good as he appears to think he is. In fact I wouldn’t be entirely surprised if a move away turned out to be a disaster for him and he was back playing in France in two years time.

If we can get £20m+ for a player with one year left on his contract then that’s pretty good business in my book.

In the mean time I’m prepared to wait it out and let Arsene and Ivan Gazidis do things in their own way: quietly, purposefully and intelligently. I am sure they are doing it – it just remains to be seen what ‘it’ is.

But if you are of the “we won’t sign anyone, we never do” persuasion, get your napkin, knife and fork out and prepare for a big helping of humble pie.

RockyLives


How many central midfielders does Arsenal need?

July 4, 2011

Written by TotalArsenal

The tabloids are full of gossip about Cesc as well as Nasri leaving. Most of us know better than to trust any of the red tops, but say it would actually happen. We would get between £50- 60m in the bank, and then what?

Well, how many central midfielders do we need? The next generation is ready to take over: Song, Jack, Rambo, Diaby and then there are Arshavin, Lansbury and Frimpong, who for different reasons can all be drafted into the two central spots.

If Cesc leaves, we might play more regularly 4-4-2 again, meaning we only need two central midfielders: one defence minded and one attack minded. The pairings of Song and Jack, Song and Arshavin, Jack and Rambo or Song and Diaby etc, all sound mouth-watering to me. The only thing we would be missing is experience in any of the combinations that does not include Arshavin. Yet Arshavin does not seem to be the sort of player who can give 100% focus and dedication to a central midfielder role during a game, let alone a whole season. So that could leave us with a problem as experience in the centre of midfield is essential. However, if we play 4-4-2 we could make RvP captain, play him in the hole (with Bendtner or Chamakh upfront), so he would be closer to the midfielders and lead and guide them where and when necessary. TV could become our deputy captain and even be our DM at times. Both RvP and TV could focus on leadership support to the midfield, if and when required.

Of course, I’d like us to keep either Cesc or Nasri, as it is always hard to get over the loss of two players in one area – in this case the midfield – in one season. Our additional fat/riches are in the central midfield positions, and the money we can make from selling one or two players should be used to strengthen in other areas. In fact, I feel we need to sell either Cesc or Nasri to make space: if we are not selling anybody in that area this season, we could start blocking the further development of Jack, Rambo, Diaby and Song, as well as Frimmpong and Lansbury, who are behind those first four in the queue. The money we would get from the sales can be used to add to our transfer budget, and buy us a quality winger, another CB and maybe a LB.

If I were on the BoD of Arsenal, I would want to sell either Cesc or Nasri, both for financial and sporting reasons. Even if we decide to let them both go (which is highly unlikely), I can see some positives coming from this. Rather than all the talk about a crisis, this is actually a great opportunity to make a few positive changes, whilst sticking to our unique and fantastic philosophy.


Arsenal Pounded out of the Top Four

July 1, 2011

Some transfer rumours are pure fabrication, some are speculation and a very few have genuine substance – having said that, it is unwise to dismiss all the current stories surrounding Arsenal players when they stall over signing new contracts and are a year away from leaving on a free.

Make no mistake, Cesc wants to go to Barca and Clichy and Nasri are looking elsewhere for big money (and possibly the notion that they may be more likely to win trophies). I believe there is truth that manu have shown interest in Nasri, city are looking to buy Clichy and are prepaed to offer Nasri silly money, and pool are also interested in Clichy.

It is likely that all of those clubs can and will offer a better deal to our players than Arsenal will table. The top four is now a case of perm any 4 out of the top five as Liverpool have shown their intent by spending big and spending early. Three out of our four rivals are looking to cherry pick players from our squad with only the canny new manager at chelski biding his time.

We are becoming a feeder club for the other top clubs and that may mean that the miracle of CL qualification that we have achieved on a minimal budget over past years is coming to an end.

Why? Well I think there are three main reasons.

1. We are being outpriced.

2. Some players have run out of patience, they are entering the peak years of their playing careers and want to taste success

3. The aura of Arsène Wenger’s managerial brilliance borne from the days of the Invincibles is wearing thin.

Where does that leave Arsenal and Arsène Wenger? If we sign Gary Cahill, some of my faith will be restored as there are plenty of cheaper options out there and we will have chosen to pay the extra for proven PL quality.

Gervinho looks like a good player, but is he any better as a striker than Bendtner? His price tag and past goals per game record would suggest not. We can only consider ourselves as moving forward if the players we bring in are better than those leaving (and not potentially in 3 years time) and in the case if Cesc and Nasri, that would be a very tall order.

Losing the Carling Cup was a humiliation. To restore belief (not just talk about it) we have to make our mark in the transfer market especially if we let big players go.

Our manager’s reputation has changed in the perception of many from a visionary genius to an over-cautious spendthrift stuck in his ways and if that perception has entered the minds of our players then we are in trouble.

Arsenal may now be being viewed by potential new signees as the most effective way of showcasing themselves to one of the ‘big’ clubs – “one good season at Arsenal and Barca will come in for me”

I know I’m going to be branded as negative, ungrateful, delusional and just plain wrong, but please don’t bother listing all of AW’s achievements, I am well aware and profoundly grateful for all he has done, but now he has to show that he can compete in this new era of football.

Like it or not, our position has changed in relation to those around us and we need to rethink and regroup, or we have to accept the inevitable that the Holy Grail of CL qualification will fall from our grasp.

Written by Rasp


Arsenal sign Baconario Sarnielli

June 29, 2011

Written by Jamie

I am brewing a pot of coffee, steam rising. I have bread product of some kind with Bacon. I’ll be honest, I’ve lost track which one. I still don’t know what is wrong with Bacon between two slices of bread but now it’s all focaccia and ciabatta and I couldn’t tell the difference if you laced one with a month old Estonian herring.

Another thing worth a question is this, when did butter become an optional extra when you are getting a bacon sandwich? Do you want butter? Of course I do, if it’s not too much trouble. No proper bread, optional butter, no red sauce, in future just do me a couple of rashers of bacon and leave it at that.

Of course I want butter, the greasier the better, dripping out of the side mixed with the red sauce.

Today, I dream of Spain, of America, or frankly just about anywhere where sea is lapping to shore. Where I can sit like Derek Trotter in a beach bar drinking more cocktails than James Bond.

Such fantasies while frustrating are slightly more appealing than the alternative. Which is, in reality sitting at my desk getting neurotic about Arsenal’s transfer activity or rather, the lack of it.

If I were on holiday, I wouldn’t be sitting there doing that. I would be in a bar, on a beach, having lunch, exploring an old cathedral, doing a tour of a football ground.

I would even rather be in a Waterpark, Go-Karting possibly even at the same time but I wouldn’t be subjected to this.

If on holiday I would occasionally find myself looking at a two day old report from Steve Stammers in the Daily Mirror while consuming a big cake and cooling VAT looking at a magnificent vista. As if i were some amatuer James Richardson.

Instead, it’s Coffee, Bacon and a Windows vista.

Every TV show yesterday showed a beach, even the Grand Prix.

I look out over London Wall and the day looks lethargic. People move slowly in the heat outside the Museum of London, almost slow motion, Almost as slow as Arsenal’s Summer. A summer of big change, so we are told. Not one player in or one player out by 27th June and don’t give me any of that Jenkinson stuff, i mean players that will definately have an impact next season.

First we are signing Gervinho, then we are not, then we have signed him, now we haven’t even made a bid.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m right behind Le Gaffer but the time it takes for us to sign a player does gives me the ache.

Stars form and burst, giant pandas mate and we still can’t conclude a deal.

We are like a 16 year old geek of the class trying to get his next door neighbours phone number. The President of Lille says we made contact but made no offer. It makes it sound like we rang up and got shy, giggled, said “Gervinho” and hung up.

I watch a lot of European football and I have seen Gervinho play half a dozen times. However despite this and him having the most ridiculous centre parting since “Saved by the Bell” was on TV, a month ago I couldn’t have picked out Gervinho if he, Scott Parker, Chris Samba and Juan Mata had done a conga past me singing “The Locomotion”.

That isn’t to say that he is not a good player.

I watched reports from around the world on the news this morning. War, torture, famine and not one word about Arsenal, Not one word. Selfish BBC.

This summer however for Family reasons, some work reasons and some financial reasons a holiday in June or July or even August is out of the question.

There is nothing quite as frustrating as being told you can’t go to Barcelona when all you want to do is hang out on the beach in Barcelona. Ask El Capitan.

Last year I went away in late November, it wasn’t easy catching the games abroad in November. You invairiably end up in a back street Irish bar sat next to some guy who came for a holiday in 1982 and never went back.

“I had trials” he will say, then you are subjected to two hours of the “I could have been a contender, but the booze, the girls, knee injury, blah,blah blah” speech. By the time Wilshere pops in the fourth at Villa Park you are reaching for the Tequilas.

The overwhelming point is this. Summer is for holidays, Winter is for football.

Holiday resorts in November are full of sadness and storm clouds and sitting around looking at Newsnow in June doesn’t look a lot differnet.

It isn’t going to do you any good come the fixture pile up.

So if you can’t get away and I can’t, then get your sun tan oil and get to your nearest park or pub by the river, or your back garden. Pour yourself a Pina Colada and read a two day old copy of the Daily Mirror and for a moment, just a moment, you might be able to convince yourself that your not addicted.

So Happy Holidays even if they are, only in your mind!


Arsène makes greatest signing of the transfer window – Guess who?

June 16, 2011

Written by Wigan Gooner

I’ll not muck about – it’s Pat Rice.

My reasoning for this statement is as follows, Arsène is facing a summer of upheaval like he has never known at Arsenal. There could be more player movement at Arsenal that I have ever seen in all of my years. Add that to even more expectation, pressure and a new pre-season routine and it is a very different Arsenal for 2011-2012.

The biggest signing was to retain the services of Pat Rice for another year because even if he is known (in some quarters, not my own) as a yes man he has vast experience as No 2 at Arsenal and he has the respect of the squad.

If I can build on that for a second, Arsène is a hands-on coach. He likes to tweak, push and work with his player’s every single day. Every day working to iron out their imperfections on the training pitch and working like that with a squad of 30-odd first-team squad player’s is a massive drain on resource and he would be unable to complete a single training session like that.

Pat Rice and Boro Primorac let him do it because whilst he is working and talking with the player’s they are running the drills and setting up the practice matches. Arsène is their Father, with Pat Rice and Boro Primorac the coaches.

Whilst we can all see the potential improvement a shake-up in the backroom staff might bring, can we afford the upheaval? Haven’t we got enough going on? The settling in period and changes of routine when we are already shaking the Arsenal Castle to the very core foundations? When star players are considering leaving for a few thousand pounds?

He will be buying in fresh players and these players need a steady stable ship to join. Stability aids adaption and London Colney is certainly different to most clubs. Pat Rice is one massive, all-important cog in the Colney machine and without him, I think Arsène would be in more trouble than he’d care to admit.

WG


Arsenal Fans Are Being Misled

June 14, 2011

Here are some facts:

  • Arsène Wenger is dithering in the transfer market.
  • He is paralysed by indecision because so many top players are threatening to leave.
  • Arsenal’s main rivals, by contrast, are acting decisively and boldly.
  • Highly rated players will not join Arsenal because we have not won a trophy for six years.
  • Arsenal will never spend ‘big’ money on a new signing.

I know that these are facts because I have read them in the newspapers. The Mail, the Express, the Sunday Times and of course the down market tabloids. They have all published variations on all of the above statements.

The journalists responsible are professional reporters. They’ll have done their journalism training at Darlington, Cardiff or Westminster (the most established journo training centres) or at one of the in-house schemes run by some newspaper groups.

They’ll have started out with great dreams and ideals of being a top sports writer. They’ll have worked their way up, for the most part, through local papers and news agencies, covering non-league games on rainy, windswept pitches in front of tiny crowds before moving on to the lower divisions and finally getting their big break in Fleet Street, writing about the EPL.

And now they produce these ‘facts’.

For crying out loud, they should be ashamed of themselves.

If these are facts, they’re the sort that would do Joseph Goebbels proud.

Goebbels, for those who don’t know their World War Two history, was the chief propagandist for the Third Reich. Up until 1939 his main narrative was that Germany’s intentions were entirely peaceful. And we know how that turned out.

That’s what propagandists do. They develop a narrative and stick to it. Every event, every outcome, every statement is re-positioned so that it fits the narrative, even when it patently doesn’t, until the narrative has served its purpose.

Arsenal may not exactly be facing the forces of Nazism, but we are facing a propaganda onslaught orchestrated by Fleet Street and other media outlets like TalkSport.

At the start of last season the embryonic idea took form that Arsenal were headed for continuing failure under Arsene Wenger (not least because he allegedly hates to spend money on quality players). As the season wore on this form solidified and became accepted wisdom.

The fact that Arsenal’s transfer activity was severely curtailed for five years because of the cost of the new stadium (and that the manager miraculously kept us competitive in that time while making a net profit on transfers) was gradually written out of the story.

Instead the ‘facts’ became that Arsene was a skinflint; that he was scared of buying established stars in case he couldn’t control them; that he persisted with bringing through young players not because of financial constraints but because he was ‘obsessed’ with ‘project youth’.

There may even have been grains of truth in some elements of this (certainly Arsene has seemed attracted to the idea of creating a squad of young players who grow up together playing a particular brand of football). But essentially a position that was easily explained by the circumstances (lack of money due to building a new stadium) was reframed as being about something else – namely the supposed character flaws of the manager.

The team’s implosion in last season’s run-in added further fuel to this narrative, which is why we have arrived at the point today where our summer transfer activity has been written off by the press before it has even begun.

Barely a week into the transfer window (and with more than two and a half months still to run), the Fleet Street concensus is that we’ve blown it. They tell us that because we haven’t gone out and hurled 15, 17, 20 million quid at whichever over-rated English player the journalists have decided is this week’s great big hope, we are dead in the water.

Let’s not bother turning up next season because these professional reporters have already decided that we’re heading for mid table.

Here’s just one small example of the reporting. I don’t mean to single out Rob Draper from the Mail, but it happens to be the most recent one I’ve read:

“Equally, should Fabregas eventually move, Wenger’s tactics in the transfer market will again come under the microscope. While Manchester United and Liverpool were swiftly into their squad-strengthening stride and Chelsea are poised to pick up the pace, Wenger risks being left standing in the stalls again as the big names head elsewhere.”

The bit that makes me laugh the most is “…and Chelsea are poised to pick up the pace…

This illustrates exactly the issue of fitting the facts to suit your preconceived narrative. Despite Chelsea winning nothing and despite their manager having been sacked and despite them spending 50 million pounds in January on a striker who can’t score and despite the fact that they have done less than us in the market so far this summer, there is no suggestion that they risk “being left standing in the stalls again.” Oh no. They are “poised to pick up the pace.”

Make the facts fit the narrative. There is no anti-Chelsea narrative at the moment so their transfer inactivity can be overlooked.

Frankly it’s just lazy. As was all the triumphalism over Man Utd beating us to Phil Jones’s signature and supposedly proving that promising young players would rather go to Old Trafford than the Emirates… oh, wait a minute… that deal is not even done. Top quality reporting there, lads.

Unlike many Gooners, I don’t believe that most of the sports hacks have an agenda against Arsenal (although some surely have). It’s just that the media move like a school of anchovies. When they change direction they do so as one and it happens in an instant. Pack mentality, if you like (apologies for the mixed metaphor).

But the result is the same: we, the supporters, are being misled by what these journalists write.

So what conclusions can we draw? Well, for me it’s a simple one: let’s not swallow this slapdash, thoughtless reporting and regurgitate it in our own forums. Even when it’s incorrect it can still cause damage and there is a real danger of the narrative becoming real if it’s hammered home hard enough and if enough people fall for it. That is the aim of propaganda.

And finally, I would ask those reporters who find themselves in the privileged position of being able to write about our national sport for a living to remember the ideals with which they entered their profession.

Don’t give in to the laziness; don’t just follow the pack.

Stand up and say: “I am not an anchovy.”

RockyLives


Arsenal…….Gooners or Goner’s…….?

June 13, 2011

Written by Harry

In the midst of one of the biggest summers that I can remember since 97, many questions need answering, Where did it all go wrong? Whose fault is it? Is Wenger the right Man for the job? Which players actually play for the shirt? What are our weaknesses, the list is endless……..

Endless reviews of the seasons have highlighted the moments that the season went wrong. All along and also seasons gone past, there have been moments where our inner belief has floundered, this season for me it eroded alarmingly at St James Park, after which the team then seemed to always believe they had a mistake in them and this hampered them continually………

Rather than drag out the pain that still manifests within all of us gooners and do a full review of the actual games, as we all know that we surely threw away a very easy title win.

There is no arrogance in that statement, its clear to all that we did, but fair play to old red face, Shrek and his team mates, they managed to play with a steel and belief that we clearly lack, they played as if they knew they never get caught albeit with huge portions of luck thrown in, shame for Giggsy he didn’t have the same luck in his private life in not getting caught……

Anyway according to the hordes of mass press ranks, we will be fighting mid table mediocrity and be lucky to stay out of the relegation zone, mighty Arsenal are in crisis, players are leaving in their droves…….

So lets look at all the players who have played for us this season and whether they should stay as a Gooner or whether they should be a Goner………….

Keepers:

Sczcesny: A legend in the making, got his chance due to Fabianski’s injuries and Almunia’s propensity for clangers. A youngster with supreme confidence, should be a firm fixture in the squad for years to come, he will have competition for the No1 spot. Needs to sort out his distribution which is a major weakness. GOONER

Fabianski: Old flappy was just starting to win the crowd over when he had a setback with his shoulder and he was out for the season. A very capable keeper, great shot stopper and will push Chez all the way, rated by the their mutual polish coach as the better keeper.  GOONER

Almunia: Horrendous season, needs to leave for himself and Arsenal, he is a good keeper who has lost his way, he couldn’t make the step up and needs to rediscover himself at a lower level. GONER

Mannone: On loan at Hull and injured, has potential. GOONER

Lehmann: Came in, in an emergency situation. Proved he can play at this level and seems tempted to come out of retirement permanently. Has a winning mentality and his experience would be invaluable for the young poles, although would be surprised if he stays. GONER

Defenders:

 

Sagna:  Solid player who had a good season overall, played with niggling injuries, a Trojan without doubt. Needs to improve his crossing. GOONER

Clichy: Athletic and devastating at full flight on the attack, poor crossing lets him down. But his defending is naïve at best, positionally inept and has a fragility about his confidence, can panic at the slightest sign of pressure. Wenger has tried, but maybe it is time to let him go. Won’t sign contract, am I bothered? Not really, sell. GONER

 

Vermaelen: The biggest miss this season by a country mile, scores goals, defends like a warrior and has steel about him. GOONER

NB: TV6 highlights the need to improve our medical facilities and personnel.

Djourou: Mixed bag this season, always liked and rated him, he is solid and dependable player perhaps who has been hampered by injuries, but he does also have a fragility and a tendency to make mistakes under pressure. Next season is massive for him anymore errors of note and he will struggle to make it at Arsenal. GOONER

Squillaci: I believe at times unfairly blamed, but he didn’t inspire confidence when at the heart of our defence and with belief been key, perhaps he isn’t a risk worth continuing with. GONER

Koscienly: For me, forget the CC mistake, he had a great season and has shown immense promise, he had a messi pocket when Barca came to town. Brilliant man marker and reads the game well, pushes on and supports attacks well. A great back up DM as well. GOONER

Eboue: I have put him as a defender (arsenal.com have him as a midfielder), although he covers  midfield as well. Has a tendency to play the fool once too often, but he is versatile and is a good cover for Sagna. I would keep him: GOONER

Miquel: Only played a couple of times, shown great promise. GOONER

Gibbs: Massively hampered by injuries, Great hope for him and we all hope he will make the step up and claim the left back slot, is he ready for the level of consistency needed? Not sure about that, but he is a great back up and cup player for me, its up to him now. GOONER

Traore: Been away at Juve on loan, if clichy goes, perhaps he could fight with Gibbs for a spot? I would keep if no one else came in, such as Baines….GOONER (Maybe out on loan)

Midfield:

Song: Overall he has come along way since his dark days at Fulham, and he has become a rock.  But if we are all honest he had an inconsistent season. Seemed to drop his head when things went wrong. GOONER.

Wilshere: Stunning season from the little maestro, Young Player of the season, has bite and determination to go with his talent. Stood toe to toe with Xavi and didn’t look out of place. Wenger was right to disagree with his U21 involvement this summer. The big question now is will he maintain his levels, up his levels further and handle the expectations that go with it? GOONER

Ramsey: Only played at the back end of the season due to the horrific injury sustained at the UFC in Stoke. Has shown already in a handful of matches he looks like he will return and fulfil his promise, unlike sadly Eduardo who didn’t. GOONER

Diaby: Enigmatic player who divides the faithful more so than most. On his day he can destroy and dominate opponents, but powerful displays are as common as powderpuff ones, where he has a tendency to throw away possession. We cannot make wholesale changes in one go, for me has one season left to prove himself worthwhile. GOONER.

Denilson: What can I say? Has a over sized opinion of himself, had so much promise and might still make a name for himself, just not at ours, won’t be missed bye bye. GONER

Frimpong: Injured at the start of last season and missed the campaign, will compete with Song, has immense potentialm, should play a lot of cup matches. GOONER.

Eastmond: Doesn’t and has never impressed me one bit, weak at best. Go on loan, toughen up or move on preferably. GONER

Lansbury: Had an impressive loan stay at Norwich, but strangely had to come off the bench a lot. Had started the season with us and scored at the spuds in the CC. Much expected, behind the curve due to long term injury in previous seasons. Big season, should be in the squad. GOONER

JET: Too versatile for his own good, has a suspect attitude, but has an abundance of talent. Should stay at ours and play in the Cup matches and have his attitude curbed by Wenger. GOONER

Arshavin: So disappointing, has the talent to destroy defences. Yes he has more assists than others and does score the odd goal, but he is playing at 70%, more to give (proven in 2nd half against United). Would prefer a more central role. Worth keeping, just if he truly wants to prove himself the great player he can be, if Nasri and Fab do leave, he can play the central creative role. GOONER.

Rosicky: Finally has overcome his long term absence to play a fair number of games, expectations are high and failed to really grasp his chance. A favourite of mine, squad player now, would keep around for experience or allow to leave if he wants: GOONER

Nasri: A dazzling first half of the season curtailed by injury, came back but couldn’t see us over the line. Wants more money and is flirting with United via Evra. It is imperative we keep him, this reminds me of the Flamini / Diarra situation where we lost both. Pay him the 110k if necessary. Must stay at all costs. GOONER

Fabregas: Thanks for the memories, never reached his top level this season, maybe in 2 or 3 games at best. His heart is somewhere else and to be honest I understand, just disappointed that he wasn’t true to himself on the pitch this season. If he did stay I would be only happy, but only if he truly wants to stay, which he clearly doesn’t. GONER

Attackers:

Van Persie: Without doubt our most prized possession, more influential than Fabregas, fights and gives his all for his team. Outstanding scoring run at the end of the season, only down side is the injury prone situation. For me is absolutely world class. GOONER

Bendtner: The self proclaimed Danish Pele, has talent but seems to over complicate situations for me, has been played out of position which doesn’t help, works harder than credited for, but waste easy chances at times. If he does move on I see him been a success, so should we persevere? Either he goes or Chamakh? Had too many chances for me. GONER

Chamakh: Great start to the season, had confidence dented by RVP return, never challenged him by making most of chances when he came on, seemed scared to shoot at times. Worth hanging onto just, 2nd season improvement beckons……. GOONER

Walcott: A better season than many would give him credit for, injuries again have hampered him, but when he plays he can be devastating if played to his strengths. Would prefer a more central role. No longer a kid or just potential, needs to dominate games. GOONER

Vela: The Mexican wonder boy has faltered and taken a step back when he should be dazzling us with his undoubted skills. Went on loan to WBA and they played him from the bench, although he scored a couple. Bring back and give one more chance. GOONER

There are many other youth players I could have added to the list, but I have used the squad list on Arsenal.com. Some long term contracts have been signed by Afobe, Aneke, Henderson amongst others…………..

So moving on, in my humble opinion, should be Almunia, Clichy, Squillaci, Denilson, Bendtner, Eastmond and sadly Fabregas, which should suit their desires as most of them have actually stated that they want to move on. So that’s 7 minimum out of the doors……..

In Wenger, we must continue to hold faith and back him to make the necessary changes and manage this situation with the player’s unrest; in already we have Jenkinson and some more Barca products, is that sensible?

In my next waffle I will analyse what we need and what there is available out there…..?

Harry KB……


Arsenal: Two World Class Players for Every Position.

June 8, 2011

Everybody understands and wants to see competition for places.

Two world class players for every position should surely be the pursuit of every top club.

This is hardly a revelation, there is nothing new about wanting two world class players for every position but just like ideal communism it is a good idea in theory the problem being it simply does not work in practice.

Many clubs have tried to achieve this utopian dream including Chelsea in their free spending hay day. I remember Mourinho saying in a televised interview how important it was for him to achieve this goal for the club – that’s to say two world class players for every position not ideal communism. Lol.

Mourinho failed just like every other manager who has since been and gone at Chelsea. The reason being, of course, is that good players are not prepared to sit on the bench watching their short career evaporate in front of their eyes.

Players want to play.

The idea that the two world class players for every position hasn’t crossed Wenger’s mind is daft to put it mildly, it obviously has and I am sure he is well aware that it doesn’t work: evidence confirms that if you stifle the progress of a talented player he will want to leave.

As romantic as having healthy competition is to us the fans the reality is that it is a very delicate balancing act. One wrong move and you have a disgruntled dressing room at best and anarchy at worst.

When a manager is considering buying a player for a particular position he must consider the effect it will have on the incumbent of that position. If the new comer is better, then the incumbent will naturally fear for his place.

If Arsenal bought Shay Given, for example, who has at least eight good years left in him, do you think that Szczesny would just quietly move to the bench and wait for his turn? You might say he should stay and fight for his place but this is school playground football politics. Szczesny would quickly realise that in order to improve he needs to be playing first team football in a top class league – in short; he would leave at the first opportunity.

If you don’t rate Given, think Petr Cezch or any other experienced keeper who at the moment would be regarded as an automatic first team goalkeeper, the point remains the same – there are consequences to signing new players that must be considered.

The very same situation applies to Djourou, if he is relegated to forth choice he will want to leave and this is the reason I go on and on about the consequences of signing new players.

Someone is bound to say: why should we worry about the incumbent if the incoming player is better and will therefore improve the squad? Any improvement to the squad will be heartily welcomed by me but if the debate is to transcend the school playground wish list then the issue of the incumbent must be understood and discussed.

Many people have expressed a desire to see a new winger; if this hypothetical player were to be better than Walcott then it is reasonable to assume that he would become a fans favourite and in turn Theo would almost certainly spend more and more time on the bench the result being that before long he would want to leave.

Theo should fight for his place — well it doesn’t work like that just look at Bendtner if you want evidence. Of course, I cannot be certain that Nikki wants to leave but is there anyone out there who believes he doesn’t due to the lack of first team opportunities?

There was an interesting little game being played on here a couple of days ago in which people were asked to put forward the two top players on their wish list who they would like to see arrive. One of the names that came up was Chiellini, I asked: do you think Song would be sold if he were to arrive? Some said no which baffled me as the idea that Song would accept playing second fiddle DM in the same way as Eboue plays second fiddle to Sagna seemed unrealistic. In this scenario Song would play equally as few games as Eboue which is not something I would envisage Song accepting and as a consequence there is no doubt in my mind that he would leave.

Herb answered my question as to the consequences to Song, after the hypothetical arrival of Chiellini, in this way.

“As for Song, I’ve never been a fan. I’d love to see Arsenal go back to 4-4-2, it is a more direct and attacking philosophy. It would render Song redundant (unless he was used as a CB), but I don’t rate him good enough to be here anyway, so I wouldn’t mind him being sold.”

Now that is what I call an honest answer, what do you think?

Written by London


No progress in achievements, but plenty to be positive about for next season

May 24, 2011

 

‘Hold on world, world hold on,
It’s gonna be alright,
You gonna see the light.
And when you’re one,
Really one,
Well you get things done,
Like they never been done,
So hold on,
Hold on.’

From ‘Hold on’ by J. Lennon

The season has finally ended: thank god! Seldom have we looked forward more to the end of a season as this one. The Bolton away game smothered the last bit of a fire that started to go out rapidly from the moment we lost to Brum in the CC final a few months ago. The torture is now over; or is it? Unless, the BoD acts quickly and decisively in the transfer market, the next few months will become even more unbearable with (the dread of) key players leaving and the agonising shenanigans regarding new players joining us or not. Furthermore, this year there is no World or European Cup to distract us from the continuous and highly-addictive media frenzy on the comings and goings of players: you know, you should not check Newsnow, Ceefax, the newspapers etc all the time, but you just cannot help yourself. In times like this, like in John Lennon’s simple yet wise words above, we need something to hold on to.

This post is not about an in-depth analysis about what went right and wrong this season. Others are more thorough, qualified and patient than me to do this. Before I go on, it is important to state I am as disappointed as any other Gooner that, once again, we have not won a major trophy this season. This should have been the year for us, at least domestically – just like it has turned out to be the year for Milan and Ajax in their countries who finally both won their first domestic championship since 2004 (YES, a 7 year wait as well) – but it was not to be. We will have to wait another year, maybe longer, and it hurts like hell. Recently, it has also become a lot harder to speak to fellow Gooners, as everyone is so disappointed and there is so much division between us on whether Wenger should go or not. These are testing times for all of us.

Yet, when I start thinking about next season, and I have been doing so for the last 4 weeks, I cannot help but feel mildly optimistic. There are real positives to take from this season, which combined with the fact that we are a young, ‘evolving’ team, should provide us with a solid platform for next season. And now I have put the cat among the pigeons – big style!!

 

The positives

  1. Best away-form in the league.
  2. We have started to beat our big competitors again, albeit at home and not away.
  3. Koscielny and Chamakh had decent-to-good first seasons, taking into account how hard it is to come here and make an impact straightaway.
  4. Song, Sagna and Fabregas had a good season, although Cesc has performed a little bit under what we have come to expect of him, he still had a decent season (see previous AA post ‘Not Getting Enough Cesc’).
  5. Wilshere, Szczesny, Djourou and more recently Ramsey made great progress this season and look ready to become first choice players for next season and beyond.
  6. Vermaelen looks finally recovered from his injury, and should be ready for next season to lead our defence.
  7. RvP has had an incredible few months and kept scoring goals for fun when almost everybody else stopped performing altogether. He looks ready to captain our side in the next season.
  8. Nasri and Walcott have shown this season that they are getting very close to becoming top-quality players. Nasri perhaps more than Walcott, who especially during the first half of the season was simply unstoppable. Walcott appears to be a somewhat slower developer, but has shown enough this season to suggest that more and better is to come from him (and the key question is: is he a winger or a striker?).

These positives form a solid platform but it is obviously not the finished article; improvements/additions are required. However, it is a (rapidly developing) platform nonetheless that not many of our competitors have in place, especially if we are able to strengthen our squad with a couple of both experienced and quality players.

In this post, I am not lingering on about the negatives, especially not about the players who did not perform and most of us feel need to leave the club: not because I don’t care about it, but I would rather focus on our strengths this time. I am also assuming that Fabregas and Nasri are staying, but if they leave this would create one or two extra vacancies as per below, although I cannot imagine Arsene will ever let both go at the same time.

If the positives are translated into our first eleven for next season, it looks like this (4-2-3-1):

                                                Szczesny

Sagna              Djourou/Vacancy       Vermaelen      Koscielny/Vacancy

                        Song/Ramsey        Wilshere/Ramsey/Vacancy

Theo/Vacancy            Fabregas/Van Persie Nasri/Arshavin/ Vacancy 

                                         Van Persie/Chamakh

.

In a 4-4-2 formation it would look like this:

                                                Szczesny

Sagna              Djourou/Vacancy       Vermaelen      Koscielny/Vacancy

Theo/Vacancy Fabregas/Wilshere    Song/Ramsey/Vacancy          Nasri/Wilshere

                                         Van Persie

                           Chamakh/Bendtner/Vacancy

Both formations, 4-2-3-1 and 4-4-2, need strengthening by filling the vacancies.

Defence

As a minimum, we need to recruit externally a tall, strong, fast, yet technically competent partner for Vermaelen. He should compete with Djourou for that position. I have no doubt that Wenger will spend in this area. I would really like to see Koscielny compete with Clichy for the LB position, as he reminds me of Lee Dixon.  However, if Clichy were to leave Arsenal, we might need to spend the money we get for him on a replacement, as Gibbs is not ready yet. Koscielny is also a good replacement for Vermaelen, if and when he gets injured or suspended.

Midfield

The centre of midfield has a great future with Song, Wilshere and Ramsey and Fabregas (at least for the time being). I also have high hopes from Frimpong. However, we need to add an experienced central midfielder who has won a few top prizes in his career, to support Fabregas (or replace him if he leaves), even if it just for a couple of years. He should help to mentor our talents to improve our mental strength when the going gets tough, so we can make the final push towards winning cups. This will be the hardest position to fill, especially if Cesc should leave us. Ideally, I would also love to recruit another quality winger, whether Arshavin is staying or not, but would understand if Wenger would try to fill this position from within his current squad (given the great number of talented midfielders he can pick from and needs to keep happy).

Attack

Finally, I am quite happy with our current strikers, especially with Van Persie and Chamakh. Both Chamakh and Bendtner did not get many opportunities to prove themselves in the second part of the season, and I believe there is more to come from them. In 4-4-2 we would see a lot more of them, no doubt about it.

4-2-3-1 has worked well for us in away games and against our main competitors at home. We should build further on this during the next season. Our home form needs to improve drastically but with a strengthened defence, more experience in midfield, and a more adventurous attacking formation of 4-4-2 against the ‘lesser’ teams at the Emirates, we should make progress here as well. Yet, Arsenal does not need to break the bank: £25-35m (not including possible sales proceeds) should make a big difference.

Although we have gone through a few difficult years, the future is still looking good and we should ‘hold on’. However, we need to learn from the past and move forward. As the Hindu proverb goes: ‘There is nothing noble about being superior to some other men. The true nobility is in being superior to your previous self’.

Come on Arsène, show a bit of humility, do not be scared to adjust your course, and make the necessary changes. Your loyal fans deserve it.

Written by TotalArsenal


Shopping for new players – it’s a cinch !

May 6, 2011

 

Whilst looking enviously on at those teams lucky enough to be in the Champions League semi finals, and of course being repulsed by the theatrics of the cheating/diving/referee harassment at the Bernabeu last week, one other thing cropped up in my mind.

Last summer the clamour for a quality goalie had led to suggestions that we replace one Manuel(Almunia) with another (Neuer) as well as other likely lads to go in goal for us, Stekelenburg, Given and Reina. Reina, it has since transpired, was the subject of a serious bid from us according to Bob Wilson, and not the much loved by tabloid hacks “an unnamed source within the club”.

While the Schalke keeper performed a sterling job in keeping the indigo (scabby) nosed Glaswegians mob to just two goals ahead last week his showing on Wednesday was less than stellar.

I’m sure we can all easily imagine at least two of the four goals being conceded by our Manuel and the outrage from our support would be no less vicious than it was after West Brom away, for example.

It raises the question of how much Neuer’s value has fallen after those high profile clangers and perhaps how we are better off sticking with a known quantity in Chesney.

It’s fair for the fan base to clamour for signings in areas of the pitch where we are thin on the gorund numbers wise and quality wise but what is apparent is that buying a player is not just like ordering an item off Amazon(other web-based retail sites are available) – you find someone you like, then “add to cart”.

Not only does he have to be available, he has to want to join us and his place in the squad must be clarified(first choice, back up or squad player) – I sense Wenger is the sort of man who would honour such promises made by a prospective signing so he may well be ham strung by this “inconvenient” ethic.

Somehow I feel N17’s tax dodger may not have such qualms about players arriving on false pretences…allegedly and IMHO.

After these considerations there is the sticky issue of valuation, which I will swerve around as the arguments for how much cash we do – or do not – have has been done to death and beyond.

What I also feel is that there is a touch of what I call “Other teams players” syndrome, whereby the good other teams players do is exaggerated and the worth of our present players is down played.

This is not to say squad complacency should be tolerated but the disproportionate praising of another teams player, who some Arsenal fans can’t help but feel are better BECAUSE they play for someone else, is what rankles.

A feverish summer of transfer speculation awaits and it may seem a tad premature to focus on this with three critical games left but I’m just imagining the flak that Neuer would have got had he performed for us as he did for Schalke and the slating our club would have got.

The red tops would, in their usual knee jerk fashion, have labelled our new keeper a dud and proclaimed our transfer strategy as proof of Wenger’s senility.