No defence for no defence.

August 4, 2010

I know the ink is not dry on a contract or even if a contract is being compiled for the signing of Emir Spahić of Montpelier but I find this rather depressing. We’ve lost two world class defenders in Sol Campbell and William Gallas together with Senderos and Silvestre and have managed so far to buy Koscielny to add to our squad. We don’t have a 6’4″ lump in our junior squad waiting to step up so why aren’t we buying one?

What is it about our manager that means that he won’t fix this problem? He must see it, we can all see it, from past  players to current squad members, why would he want to undermine the spine of the team?

We are not going to sign a world class goalkeeper – or even a better one than we already have – and thats a pretty bad situation for a top club to be in. I can slightly understand the logic of not wanting a new keeper and a new centre-back pairing at the same time – the need for good comminication between those three is very important. What I don’t understand is that this situation hasn’t been sprung on Arsène. The failings of our keepers last season cost us the Premiership title so he’s had more than the closed season to be looking around for a new one.

We all say it in hushed voices “If Vermaelen gets injured we’re stuffed” well guess what?  We don’t have to be in this situation and we shouldn’t be. Whatever the reason for  not spending the money now that we have it, can’t possibly be a good enough one.

What is it about buying defenders that gives Arsène such a head-ache? If we can’t defend we get undone, results against Birmingham, Wigan and Blackburn last season show that. I’m all for living life on the edge but spending the last ten minutes of games chewing my fingers with my heart pounding in my chest because we’ve given a goal away and its now 2-1 are going to ruin my health.

Vermaelen is top class. Koscielny we don’t know. Djourou has returned from a year out injured and has so far failed to impress. Before his injury he was fourth choice – Senderos was a more proven centre-back than him.

We’ve spent £8.5m on Koscielny – he may be an excellent find, Spahić may also be an excellent find but this kind of business doesn’t inspire confidence. Arsène – you need some help here, you concentrate on the attack and let someone else help you sort out the defence.

This is an ongoing problem and a serious one and until our defending is brought up to scratch we’re not going to be challenging for the Premiership – it won’t matter how many great goals we score against the others, the ones that count are the ones we let in.

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Goodbye Silvestre, Gallas and Campbell – Boy Wonder Number 10.

July 8, 2010

Its getting exciting now – you know the season is impending when people are making travel arrangements for our annual trip to Barnet.

This week, Arsenal.com put up the pictures of those of the first team not on international duty who came back for some fitness work. It was nice to see Kieran Gibbs back in training, and word is Aaron Ramsey is back running without any trouble. Our latest recruit Maroune Chamakh seems to have a new BFF in Samir Nasri.

Laurent Koscielny is an Arsenal player. To all those who think he can’t be up to much because he comes from the second tier of French football, consider this; Arsenal is notoriously frugal in its spending and yet we’ve lashed out £8.5m for him (reportedly) when FC Lorient only paid £1.5m a year earlier – he’s going to be some player believe me.

While having a look around the site, I had a look at our lovely new kit again – only problem is the large sponsorship font, but beggars and choosers and all that… Anyways, I went into the online shopping section and happened upon something very interesting.

It seems all the ifs and buts are answered. William Gallas, Mikael Silvestre and Sol Campbell would appear to be no longer Arsenal players. In the drop down section that allows you to select a personalised name and number, the options of Campbell, Silvestre and Campbell are no longer available. (Oddly you can still get Gilbert on your shirt – two things, WHY? and he was released last week, memo mustn’t have gone out). I doubt this is because of uncertainty over their contracts, it must be because they are going and honestly none of the three are a shock.

Silvestre no-body will cry over. Campbell was always bound to go wherever he could get a nice signing-on fee (sorry Peaches) and while Gallas has been a good player for us overall, he’s become increasingly injury prone. What is key here, is that all three are CBs. Its a broken record by now, but signing Koscielny won’t be enough. Vermaelen is now our only tried and trusted CB, Djourou is largely untested and coming back from a long lay-off. We don’t know what Koscielny is like, and I won’t sit here and judge before I see just because I’ve not heard of him. Alex Song can play there but he is needed in midfield, so Wenger must be looking at, at least one more defensive signing – none of the youth’s look ready to come up and its far too risky to chance it. Wenger must know this by now.

Aside from Silvestre’s, Campbell’s and Gallas’ numbers being unavailable (at least in the drop down menu) its also worth noting that Robin van Persie has applied to have his number changed for next season. As Arshavin hasn’t applied (he being the other option) I expect the boy wonder to drop down a number next season and become number 10. Bergkamp is his hero and how nice that he can wear the same number at the same club as his hero once did.

That is unless Cesc is leaving and the number is for a new play-maker but all things considered, its going to Robin – why else apply for a change of number?

World Cup is coming to an end and Barnet is just around the corner – new look Arsenal is beginning to take shape, I hope!


French Farce – Will Arsenal Pay the Price?

June 29, 2010

Written  by dandan

So the World cup has for England, like France, ended in tears. A pathetic emasculated display against Germany has left the country bewildered and angry at the limp-wristed performance that undersold all that we love about the Premiership. No pace, no pressing, no organisation. Eleven misfits who didn’t appear to know their place or purpose and a back four that played in such a way that our local pub team would have fancied there chances against them.

All our grievances with them appear to be football based, unless and until the balloon goes up on their return. The only criticism of the manager appears to be that he liked to keep the team sheet to himself until 2 hrs before the match. It would seem he wishes to stay on for the Europeans. Will that happen? Who knows, but we will soon find out following a meeting with the FA.

Oh that France had so few problems! A mutiny within the squad culminating in our former ‘Le Sulk’ launching a half time foul mouthed tirade at the manager, questioning his character, tactics, capabilities and reason for being. Unsurprisingly, Anelka was dispatched post haste to the airport on the next flight home. The next day, after an on field team meeting, the captain voiced the team’s solidarity with the brooding absentee and refused to train. A statement followed expressing their loyalty to France and the fans. This was read paradoxically by the coach, even though he was their biggest complaint. Consequently, the patched up, out of sorts and demoralised team were taken apart and ditched out of the competition by the hometown boys of South Africa.

They have since summarily returned home economy class in disgrace. The whole debacle has resulted in questions being asked in the French parliament and several players have been summoned for questioning by the enquiry.

Caught up in the middle of this sorry tale are four Arsenal players, Sagna, Clichy, Diaby and the out of contract Gallas. How, I wonder, will they react to this debacle? Surely the most shameful episode ever in French football. What kind of mental state will these guys be in when they return for the new season?

The fact that Gallas, (whose mental state is questionable at the best of times) is probably leaving us is a bonus I think. But will the three young Frenchman so important to our success this year have the mental resolve to handle such catastrophic happenings and the likely backlash from their incensed countryman?

Will the press here constantly compare them to the errant John Terry who himself attempted to muster a mutiny at a Press Conference?

Will we as a club suffer from the loss of form in these young men as they try to come to terms with the enormity of the disappointment and the manner of their World Cup exit?

Will we once again pay the price for something beyond AW’s control that has occurred while his players are away on International duty? Not physical injury this time but mental perhaps.


Questions for Arsenal Fans

June 25, 2010

Written by dandan

What is it about so many football fans that they seem to delight in emphasising the negatives  when it comes to their club? It matters not who within the club makes the statement, the built in defence mechanisms that surround the glass half empty brigade immediately activates,  causing them to sharpen their pencils, tear at their hair and default immediately to denial mode.

Unhappy not to be told, unhappier when they are, questioning every statement whilst poo-pooing anything that does not show the ink drying on a newly signed contract. Why do they put themselves through this? Surely it would be better to hibernate for the summer and then access the official site and review the squad when the transfer window closes.

Constructive criticism is one thing, but the inability to accept that there may be a grain of truth in these statements is another. Even if they are not true and some patently are not, the amount of abuse they engender, much of it vitriolic and profane is remarkable. Why if you were a true fan, would you want to fire such loathsome denigration at the team you profess to support?

The great joy of being a fan is discussing the club and yes it is a matter of opinions, but seeing that many of these opinions are often both uninformed and wrong, it does beggar the question why do we get so upset and why so often negative and aggressive?

We are a great club, with a great manager, our future is bright, do we need the abuse, or are we better than that?

Interesting times

Is football itself coming to its senses? Today, bloggers are posting that two out of contract players connected with Arsenal have priced themselves out of the market place.  Joe Cole is reportedly looking for a pay packet in excess of  £100k a week and is said to have been rejected by Man Utd, leaving the field open for Arsenal and the Spuds. Whilst William Gallas too has had his demands rejected, this time with Juventus.

Now I don’t know about you, but I cannot see AW paying an attacking midfielder that kind of money, when we already have a gaggle of players in his position, none of whom are earning anything remotely like that.

It would seem that its down to ‘appy ‘arry to talk the spuds parent company into allowing the kind of excesses practiced at several of ‘arrys former clubs as they boldly marched down the road to insolvency. I doubt it will happen,  these are proper businessmen, not soccer infatuated locals blinded by the glamour of mixing with the so-called stars and celebrities of our game

As for dear William our ever rational ex-skipper, he not only wants twice the contract length we have offered him, but also twice the salary Juventus have offered him.

Could it be that clubs themselves are coming to their senses? Realising that in these difficult times across Europe it is not wise to be seen paying players excessively, when fans struggle to meet the commitments of everyday life, without being mugged for the price of a season ticket.

What, I wonder, would the faithful say if Gallas unable to realise the value he puts on himself elsewhere, elects to stay at the Emirates?

Likewise Joe Cole at Chelsea.

Interesting times it seems…….


William Gallas: Should He Stay Or Should He Go?

June 1, 2010

The day it all came crashing down!

On that faithful day in February 2008 do you remember where you were?

I do! I was in my college abode, going home, home (i.e. to the parents) for the weekend because I had a terrible chest infection.  So there I was, plonked in the couch waiting for my drive – feeling sorry for myself. My housemates felt sorry for me too and said to make me feel better I could turn on Sky Sports and watch Arsenal play while I waited.

Oh, how I wish I hadn’t….

The first bit of commentary I heard was “And we have come to the decision not to show that injury again, it’s so horrific.”

Cue the footage of Eduardo lying on the pitch.

The day only went from bad to worse. Just when it seemed Theo was coming of age, we gave away a penalty that wasn’t which saw our Captain go mad – Gallas was on the halfway line (instead of giving some sort of encouragement to our keeper) kicking the hoardings, shouting and I reckon didn’t even see the penalty hit the back of the net. Gallas then planked his arse on the pitch and Le Boss had to go soothe him into the dressing room after the game.

*Poof* went the three points! *Poof* went Eduardo’s season! *Poof* went our season! *Poof* went Gallas’ time as Captain.

Of course that’s not to mention Gallas’ book where he ripped many of his teammates to shreds – not least Samir Nasri.

Back then, many would have understood if Wenger sold him to the first taker. However, he instead stripped him of the armband and what emerged was a much more mature, more driven Gallas. He became the leader he never was for us as Captain. Toure and Gallas never saw eye to eye. Toure left and Gallas formed a far better partnership at the back with Vermaelen.

Now though his contract is up and we must ask ourselves, is he worth keeping. Should Wenger stop this over 30s nonsense and give Gallas more than a one-year-deal or is it time for Gallas to move onto pastures new.

The simplest way to do this is look at the pros and cons.

Pros:

  • Gallas is experienced. We need experience.
  • He knows what it feels like to win the EPL. We need that winning mentality in our squad. When you win once, you have an even bigger urge to do it again.
  • He has been one of our most consistent performers over the last season and a half.
  • Despite his tantrums, he has become a real leader in the squad. Arsenal lack leaders.
  • He pops in with his fair share of important goals.

Cons:

  • He has become very injury prone (His calf injury could rule him out of the World Cup). Considering his age, it is taking him longer to recover. It is best for Arsenal that he moves on and Wenger is forced into signing a new center back much in the mould of Tomas Vermaelen – mid 20s, experienced, tough, nicks some goals, committed.
  • He is not well liked by the squad – Samir Nasri has openly said so and nothing has been done to refute this statement. Adebayor was causing problems and the squad seemed happier after his departure – would the same happen if Gallas were to leave?
  • He has no problem scoring goals where the ball was “passed” via two handballs and I think tha….. 😳 wrong post 😛

There are many reasons why Gallas should stay or go.

Personally, I think Gallas has been a top defender for us and has formed a good understanding with Vermaelen. However, his injuries do worry me. He has been getting them increasingly over the last two seasons and can no longer be relied upon.

The best situation would be for Gallas to sign a contract extension at the Grove while Wenger also brings in another top class defender so we have three international class center backs. However, this is Arsenal and as I don’t see that happening it might be best that Gallas goes on to pastures new and forces Wenger’s hand into the signing of a new CB.

William Gallas – Should He Stay Or Should He Go? Well, if he goes there could be trouble but if he stays there could be double.