Archive for January, 2009

31
Jan
09

If the house is burning Song will put it out.

I can't watch

If I ask you ‘what does it mean if your house burns down?’ you will tell me ‘why should my house burn down?’ That is exactly the same for me. — Arsene Wenger on why losing 4th place isn’t a big deal.

I would say it was an incredible presser, but in a season of eye-popping incredulity it was not just simply incredible, it was a ludicrous presser. He actually stunned the press with that statement above and for good reason. Here is a man who has been at the top of everything he’s ever done, brushing off the obvious threat of Aston Villa with a statement that defies logic.

If someone asks me “What does it mean if your house burns down” I respond with “Well hopefully everyone gets out, which is why I have fully functioning smoke alarms in many rooms, and once everyone gets out, I call my insurance agent and make a claim. That’s why we have insurance.”

Insurance.

The one thing Wenger forgot to sign up for this summer while he was hemming and hawing over signing a broken Man U center half and a child king from Wales.

But worse, it’s not a question of IF the house should burn down, it’s a question of “Hey dude, your house, I think it’s on fire. There’s a ton of smoke coming out of the kitchen.” and Wenger saying “Hmm… I don’t think so, besides, the timbers are very good they need some time to mature and they will be able to withstand a little fire. Plus that smoke is probably just William.”

“Well, ok, but where there’s smoke…”

I’m all for standing by your team and that’s no doubt what he’s doing — he could hardly come out in January and say “well, yes, that Summer transfer window was a huge mistake, we took a major gamble on Song and Diaby and they turned out to be just a little bit shit, didn’t they?” slap, huzzah, guffaw — but when the house is 2/3 burning don’t bullshit us all and say that everything is ok.

Especially when the facts all indicate that you know that everything wasn’t all right. Why else would they bid for Alonso? There is no more damning evidence that even Wenger himself knew this was a huge gamble than Arsenal’s failed summer bid for Xavi Alonso. I mean, he made a bid for a central midfielder back when we had Cesc, Theo, Diaby, Denilson, Nasri, Eboue (remember how he played in the center of the park? THAT WAS A HOOT!) and Song was still playing center back.

I find it more likely that he’s passed the rule over a few players in this transfer window, he did admit that they made inquiries, and found either the price too steep or the player not interested. So, he’s making shit up now. Too bad he’s such a poor story teller.

He also made denials about whether we’re on the verge of signing Arshavin from Champion racists Zenit but then said that supposedly we’ll know if Arshavin is signing for Arsenal here in just a few minutes (it’s nearly kickoff of the Arsenal v. Wet Ham match). I can’t wait for this whole transfer window to be closed. Just so that I don’t have to hear another preposterous proclamation fall out of Wenger’s mouth.

Match report tomorrow, see you then, unless you’re with me at Doyle’s today! In which case I’ll see you then.

Double check your smoke detectors will ya?

30
Jan
09

Will they fear us if we get Arshavin?

yawn

A West Ham team that is brimming with confidence  having dispatched 6 of their last 7 opponents comes in to the Emirates stadium to face an Arsenal team brimming with false hope after eeking out a 9 game unbeaten run.

It’s almost amazing to think that the team have remained unbeaten for 9 matches and on its face it’s a pretty good run of form and should see Arsenal gaining confidence. But these aren’t the awe inspiring games that we’re seeing from our rivals for the Champions League spot; a 0-0 draw to Cardiff is hardly the stuff of legends. In fact, closer inspection sees that Manchester United haven’t conceded a goal since Arsenal beat them 2-1 in November and Villa have taken all 12 points in their last 4 matches. So, you’ll forgive me if I have to have a laugh when Diaby proclaims the title race is within grasp or Nasri says that all we have to do is “keep winning without leaking goals” and we’ll be right back in it. No. You have to make opponents like West Ham tremble at the thought of traveling to your stadium, then you can start talking about winning the title.

West Ham, for their part, are playing some very good football and pundits are claiming they won’t have anything to fear from Arsenal tomorrow. No one is saying that Arsenal aren’t a talented side, or that there isn’t a threat that Arsenal will start clicking and destroy teams like West Ham; rather that right now, every team in the EPL looks at our past performances and has to be licking their chops to come here and “pull a Hull.”

Ultimately, I’m not going to say it’s a crucial game because, frankly, it looks like the board and the team have thrown in the towel on even achieving 4th place. When you see the board sitting on £90m in cash reserves and not strengthening the squad when it is plain for everyone to see that the squad needs strengthening there’s a disconnect and Peter Hill-Wood revealed exactly what that disconnect is yesterday. As it turns out, the club (payroll, transfers, etc.) is being run as if we didn’t earn £30m a year in Champions League money.

There is no denying that it would be a real financial drain on the club if we didn’t qualify for the Champions League next season. Even if we were in the Uefa Cup and enjoyed a long run in Europe, that would not come close to making up the shortfall.

But although missing out on the Champions League for one year would be a big disappointment, it would not mean financial Armageddon for Arsenal. When we worked out the budget, and did our fund-raising calculations in respect of the new stadium, we did not assume we were going to be in the Champions League every season. That may be an assumption at other clubs, and it’s not for me to comment on the way they are run, but we did not want to get out of our depth in terms of paying our bills. So although it would certainly hurt us in the pocket to finish outside the top four, it would not be a huge shock to the club’s finances. (Emphasis added.)

Suddenly everything makes sense. We’re running the club as if we are West Ham, not as if we are a top four club. No wonder no one fears Arsenal: they are fielding a team, with but maybe three exceptions, is a mid-level squad. You could say that in a sense, we’re punching above our weight, up there in 5th place. We bought a mid-table squad and are nearly up in the Champions League, impressive.

What isn’t impressive is that we’re already seeing some fallout from Arsenal’s failure to re-invest in the team with Robin van Persie reportedly refusing to sign a contract extension unless Arsenal win 4th place. You need look no further than that fact to see why the Arsenal business plan was severely flawed. Because, while it’s a good idea to practice fiscal austerity and Arsenal seem to have that down pat, hell, they could probably last 10 years as a mid-level team in the EPL with the £90m (which will probably be like £110m after this season is done) they have stashed under the mattress, it’s a terrible idea not to re-invest in your company while all of your competitors are growing around you. Already the Arsenal brand has seen some of the shine come off which means less shirt sales and even though they may “sell out” every game due to counting ticket sales rather than the turnstiles, people are already not attending matches, which means less concessions, etc. I’m not suggesting that Arsenal should have spent all £90m on transfers, but some prudent re-investment was clearly necessary as our slump in sales, and slump in performance on the pitch certainly shows.

Where would Arsenal be right now without Robin van Persie? Shudder to think, eh? The thought of losing van Persie might explain why the team seems to be increasing their price in the Zenit deal to get Arshavin on the pitch — going so far as landing the Russian a work permit already. With Wenger stating that the club are going to know before kickoff tomorrow we should finally have an end to this saga one way or another.

The problem is that Arshavin is, in my mind, too little, too late. While undoubtedly a quality player, and certain to add some goals, he’s lacking match fitness right now and still doesn’t solve the problem of Arsenal’s porous defense. In the end, Arshavin won’t be the man to make teams like West Ham fear us again. That’s going to take a whole lot more than just one wing player can deliver, which means prying open the coffers. Unless, of course, they have thrown in the towel on this season.

It sure looks like it to me. Which is a real shame.

Right, so a 7am kickoff tomorrow, the match is live on Setanta, and I will be at Doyle’s. See you there?

29
Jan
09

Everton 1-1 Arsenal; “We’re watching the season unravel”

how-to-play-defense

Match Reports

ESPNSoccernet: Late van Persie Blockbuster

Telegraph: Robin van Persie Rescues Arsenal at the Death

Match Video

Always go to the Arsenalist for your match video! Also give him a clickthrough to his sponsor so he can keep the site going one dime at a time!

Quote of the Day

Timmy knows where the ball is going to land every time, if I could learn how to do that, it would be great. I’m learning from all my team-mates. They are all older than me with greater experience and I am picking up things off them.  But Tim has a similar role to me and I watch him very closely in games and during training. He’s the main man and is so decisive in front of goal. Long may that continue.

Marouane Fellaini attributes hard work, having experienced players show you the way, and good team spirit to his success. Who’d have thunk it?

The Good

Robin van Persie has now had a hand in every single goal that Arsenal have scored in the month of January. Everton, aware of that threat, used three players at nearly all times on Robin and he still scored.

Good? No, great.

He is 25 years old and reminds me so much of Dennis Bergkamp in his first season at Arsenal (who was 26 then). Just a month ago or so, I had a chance to watch those old tapes courtesy of my friend T-Town Alex and at the time I think I said something like “man, Arsenal could use a guy like that now.” If you remember Bergkamp’s first season started out rocky and then he took off, put the team on his back and went on to become an Arsenal legend. I think RvP is doing that same thing right now. While some of the players were sniping at each other yesterday, Robin was busy working hard, tackling, playing defense, making runs, and more than once I saw him leading the team. Where would we be without him? That’s not a pretty thought is it?

I also want to single out Fellaini here, because, well, there isn’t much else positive to say about Arsenal. Here’s a guy who is a central midfielder and Moyes had him playing Adebayor’s role, which he did with aplomb. But worse than just being embarrassed by having a central midfielder making the target man role look easy he made Adebayor, Song, and Diaby look like shiat with his work rate, tackling, ball handling, well, in just about every way. It seems like I say this week in and week out but seriously, Arsene, you’ve got to see that Arsenal need a player like that.

The Bad

If Song and Diaby are the “engine room” of Arsenal, then the engine room has thrown a rod. Put aside for a moment the fact that Diaby got the assist and was Arsenal’s top passer at 86%. He doesn’t dominate anything. Maybe that’s just his personality but he doesn’t act like a central midfielder; he acts like a center forward.

Worse, he’s often guilty of trying cute passes instead of just making the easy pass. These cute passes never work and are frustrating to his teammates. You could see it on their faces and in the way that Adebayor threw his hands up after yet another easy pass was overlooked in favor of some crazy back heel flick.

Your center forward is the guy who makes the crazy back heels, your holding midfielder is supposed to be the rock. The guy who you can count on to make the good decision, the easy pass. You know, keep possession, not throw it away in a dangerous area.

Song, well, when Song tries hard I like him, when he doesn’t try hard, he’s fucking useless. Since we don’t know which Song we’re going to get then overall Song’s just a little bit crap isn’t he? He’d be good on a team like Charlton, we should let him go back there and dominate league 1.

Unlike Song, I feel bad for Denilson. He is a feisty little player who may turn out to be one hell of a central midfielder one day, but he will never, ever, ever, be a wing player. I knew Wenger was going to play him out wide too. Wenger loves playing “defensive” players in the wing role it’s one of the many in his growing list of insanities.

And hey! What about that Nasri, eh? I actually don’t blame him for yesterday’s performance. If Wenger kept Clichy back, once, maybe twice, in a game, then Nasri wouldn’t be called upon to play fullback for 3/4 of the match while Clichy foraged forward and put crosses out of play. One of these days though, a strong wind will knock that ball down and that cross is going to find one of our players and BOOM Clichy will get an assist.

The Ugly

What the hell happened to Adebayor? Last year he played nearly every game like Fellaini did last night and this year he seems like he just doesn’t care. Worse though, he’s now turned to complaining at his teammates when they play a ball in to him and he stands stock still and watches it roll past him.

I literally did a facepalm in the first two minutes of the game when he and Clichy combined on a throw in and Clichy played an excellent ball into space that any striker should be able to reach and Ade just kind of stood there and shrugged his shoulders as the ball went out of play.

I would be tempted to say that Arsenal should have cashed in on him in the summer, except then we’d be left with Bendtner as our target man and, well, Bendtner is crap. And don’t even try to tell me that Wenger would take the money and buy someone else, we all know that’s just not true.

But the worst part of all this is that the goal that Arsenal conceded was just downright maddening. Leighton Baines, who I suppose is Denilson’s marker (who knows anymore, what with Wenger playing a modified 1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1)  was left alone in the box for so long that I think he finished the first two chapters of Ivanhoe before putting in a cross that fell to the unmarked Tim Cahill. Disgusting, couldn’t he read something with a little more literary merit than Ivanhoe?

Conclusion

Everton is a tough team; they have a lot of heart, and they are well organized. Given that Arsenal don’t have a lot of heart beating outside of the chest of maybe three players and are in utter disarray as far as formation it was a lucky escape for Arsenal.

In fact, as I sat there watching Everton outplay Arsenal at every turn, and score despite the fact that they were using two midfielders as strikers, I couldn’t help but think “this is what it looks like to see Arsenal’s season unravel.”

But here’s the silver lining to all this. From now on, whenever Clichy plays a ball into row Z, or Diaby plays a back heel that goes straight to the opposition, or when Eboue is mysteriously introduced, or Adebayor is seen balancing his checkbook on the pitch rather than getting back and trying to win the ball, I’m just going to accept that this is the team that we have.

What else can I do? None of this makes any sense. Arsenal say they have a huge pile of cash reserves and yet they act like a team on the verge of bankruptcy. I mean, surely if I, some cock sandwich AMERICAN blogger, can scout Fellaini over the internet Arsene Wenger, a God among coaches (right?) with a vast scouting network, can see that Arsenal need a quality player like Arteta or Fellaini or Lucas or Diarra or Flamini or FUCK ANYONE BUT SONG in the midfield and go out and buy that person and bring them in and save the season.

No. I’ve resigned myself to the reality that they don’t want to save the season. Either that or the whole club has come down with acute Neurosyphilis and are barking mad. I’m going with the latter, it’s the only thing that explains anyone at the club still thinking they have a chance to win the title.

28
Jan
09

Everton v. Arsenal match preview

Good morning Kickers. Maybe my coffee levels are surging just right or maybe the whole no news on You Know Who is clearing my head, but man, I feel optimistic today! Plus, I had a glance at the last few season’s record against today’s opponent and I have to say, this won’t be an easy match but really we should come away with three points.

Lord knows we need a win what with Villa’s new signing, Heskey, banging in the only goal of a very poor match against a quickly crumbling Pompey.  That win gives the Villains a 6 point lead over Arsenal and even sent Chelsea to 4th place. Villa can’t really be this good can they? Sigh…

Villa’s merits is it’s own post, right now, Arsenal have Everton: an Everton team that, should they beat Arsenal today, could seriously throw the club and the supporters into panic mode. A loss today leaves Arsenal 9 points adrift of the surging Man U and no matter what Everton boss David Moyes says the title race would be widely viewed as officially over for Arsenal.

Moreover, a loss to Everton would further constrict the “top six” and leave the Gunners fighting Chelsea and Everton for that coveted 4th place.  The Gunners would be 2 points above Everton and with Chelsea playing at home and thus almost certainly dropping points against ‘Boro Arsenal would be between 4 and 6 points away from 4th place with just 15 games left.

So, when you hear that “3 points are vital,” now you know why: this year I’ve already said “this is a pivotal game” more times than I care to count, but really this game is pivotal.

One thing that really strikes me is how, for the first time as an Arsenal supporter, I looked to the January transfer window for some help but didn’t understand that the January transfer window doesn’t help very much. There are 15 matches left at this point and for some teams there will be just 14 matches left when the window closes on Monday. So by the time you get a player in and acclimated to the league any challenge for the title or 4th place could very well be over. The best you can hope for is a January signing who is already acclimated to the league and is able to provide a small boost. Heskey has already done that for Villa and was a very shrewd signing for them.

So, in a sense, I can see what Arsene means when he says that getting Eduardo, Theo, and  Cesc back are “like new signings.” I know that I’ve ripped him for saying that but they are proven Premiership talent, they strengthen squad depth, and thus they provide that little boost that is the realistic expectation from a January signing. I’m not saying that a signing won’t help too, just that Arsenal supporters should feel like their club is in a good place. The team has been holding on even though they are missing several key players and the future looks damn bright with Eduardo, Theo, Cesc, and Rosicky coming back — in that order. So, signing or not, Arsenal are in a good place to maker a big push at the end of the year.

Right, but first Everton.

Everton made a great addition this summer in Marouane Fellaini. He’s a hard tackling, no nonsense, box-to-box midfielder and exactly the type of player that some bloggers (ahem) linked to the club during the summer transfer season. I haven’t seen a player like Fellaini in the EPL since Patrick Vieira and what’s funny is Fellaini’s disciplinary record reflects that comparison. Already on 10 yellows, he will no doubt be ready for this match and “get stuck in” early and often. We don’t know the lineups quite yet but I suspect that Wenger will play Diaby and Song in the middle in order to counter the threat and hopefully unlock the defense provided by Fellaini. Nasri and Denilson will be on the wings with Sagna, Clichy and Djourou at the back. There are question marks over Gallas today but if he’s healthy he’s a better option than Toure who is really struggling at the moment.

Everton’s biggest asset is their defense with Jagielka and Fellaini bossing that area and their biggest flaw is their offense with no one bossing that area. That said, they are a very, very solid defensive squad and will look to grind Arsenal down and score off set plays rather than open Arsenal up the way Villa did.

For Arsenal, our best asset is a healthy van Persie. He’s a goal machine against Everton scoring 3 times in his last 4 matches against them. If you want to know how much Arsenal have missed van Persie look at this:  you have to go all the way back to Arsenal’s 7-0 win over Everton in 2005 to squeeze 4 matches out of Robin. Thankfully, this season has been very different from his others (knock on wood) and he has been healthy all year and is just now ramping up his game, like champions always do. Arsenal need a big, big game from him today.

Adebayor is important too, having scored 2 goals in his 4 appearances against Everton and I’m sure he’d love to make up for his fluffer against Cardiff.

Finally, I need to mention that this is always a classic battle: a tale of contrasting styles that usually contains some controversy despite Arsenal’s 5-1-2 dominance over the last 4 years. The last 4 matches have seen 4 red cards with Arteta getting a cheap one for a Cesc dive being the most memorable. The referee today is none other than Andre Marriner who already has the red part of Liverpool in a huff over his controversial decision to rule out a Gerrard goal for a Kuyt offside. That said, he’s usually a fair ref who doesn’t like a whole bunch of argy-bargy so Everton will need to be on best behavior in order to keep Fellaini and company on the pitch for the whole match. Even if the ref gets control of the match early, this is always a cracking affair and both squads are known for late late goals. Don’t leave this match early! I would bet the house on at least one goal in the last 10 minutes.

Anyway, the match is being shown live at 11:45am pst today on Setanta and if you’re a local, head down to Doyle’s for a sandwich, a pint, and a raucous battle at Goodison. If you can’t get off for lunch, then meet up with me at 5pm-ish for the television replay. See you there and UP THE ARSE!

27
Jan
09

Arsenal have NOT agreed to a deal with Zenit — Full Stop

Just as I get in to work, the dot com reports that Arsenal have not agreed to the fee with Zenit over Andrei Arshavin.

Also, they are not worried about the deal because Arsenal are playing Everton tomorrow.

Also, Usmanov has not bought anything, apart from a box of Krispy Kreme’s.

Also, the only place where we should be getting our news about transfers is from the dot com.

Also, no deal is none.

Also, I’m not mentioning this any more, unless he signs for Arsenal and I read about it on the dot com and there is a picture of him holding up the number 613 shirt or what ever “squad number” we have left over.

Full Stop.

I SAID FULL STOP

27
Jan
09

Are you done with the Arshavin thing?

Sick of it all

Yesterday’s blog was meant as a sort of piece of performance art; a commentary on how wild eyed we’ve all gotten over the signing of a man who hasn’t played a lick of football in several months, who’s never played in the EPL, who is undoubtedly a decent player but is by no stretch a savior, who’s fitness was questioned by Arsene Wenger, who’s current club is bat-shit insane AND racist, and who’s agent is really starting to get on my pecs.

I kind of figured I’d deconstruct the entire affair, by making an ironically over-the-top, Twitter-esque, running commentary of the nothing that was going to happen. Make nothing into something to show us all that this was really nothing. Right?

And of course, it turns out that there is something to all this because at the height of my ironic absurdity, things literally got absurd when blogs started reporting craziness like “Usmanov buys Arshavin” followed by Zenit’s absurd (is there something beyond absurd?) statement that the clubs have reached a deal but that the player hasn’t reached a deal even though both parties have previously said that the player reached a deal and it all boils down to the same old crap; Arsenal refusing to cave into Zenit’s insistence that they pay Arshavin’s agent, who is negotiating on behalf of Zenit, a £3m finder’s fee. At least that’s the latest from Gunnerblog who is a very reliable source and has a pretty good piece of speculation today.

At this point, though, I really couldn’t give two fucks. TWO FUCKS. I’d much rather that the club didn’t deal with such a bunch of amateurs and assholes and racists. I’d much rather that Arsenal swooped in on Bolton who are making a £12m bid for Veloso and plucked him from their greasy little pie stained hands and left them lying bruised in a steaming pile of Davies.

But it seems like I can’t escape this gold-plated-turd of a deal. I had a bad taste at the beginning of this Arshavin saga; whenever a player publicly threatens his team over a transfer it leaves me feeling uneasy. Then some of you made some good arguments, which sort of glossed over the whole thing. And now I’m back to “I have a bad feeling about this whole thing” and “this will end badly.” The only facts I have to back this feeling up are the numerous contradictory statements that have come out of the mouths of all three Russian parties in this agreement (Zenit, Arshavin, and his Agent) and we could argue over them until the cows come home.

Let’s not? Let’s instead pay attention to the fact that Arsenal travel to Liverpool to take on a very resilient and currently plucky Everton tomorrow, shall we?

Right. Moving on then — unfortunately, it’s a mid-day match and I have a super busy schedule tomorrow so I cannot get off to see it live. That said, I have a super busy schedule tomorrow so hopefully I can avoid a score line and will be able to see the match with fresh eyes at Doyle’s after work.

If you live in town, come join me around 5pm and watch the replay. You know who you are (only two of you came out for the Cardiff match) and yes, I am shaming you into coming out tomorrow.

Match preview tomorrow, Good-Bad-Ugly on Thursday, and transfer window closes on Monday. T-minus 6 days and we won’t have to talk about He Who Shall Not Be Named ever again, except maybe his name will be the answer to some trivia night question like “Who was the most over-rated, media-frenzied, unlikely to break Arsenal’s transfer record since they had previously refused to pay over that amount for Xavi Alonso who is undoubtedly a better player, transfer target in the history of Arsenal FC?” A long question I know, but it’s only fair as there have been so many crazy ass transfers in our history.

See you tomorrow!

26
Jan
09

Liveblogging the Andrei Arshavin deal deadline

Today is Arsenal’s self imposed deadline for something to happen in the Andrei Arshavin transfer deal. Follow along with me as I obsessively hit “refresh” in my Google Reader, hoping for a nibble of fact in this deal.

6:10 am — ZOMG HAVE YOU HEARD??? Charlie N’Zogbia, who has been angling for a transfer to Arsenal for the last 4 years, has told the world that he would rather play for Aston Villa, because they are going to win the Champions League or something. This is proof for the doom and gloomers that Arsenal are going to miss out on recruiting “top players” and start the downward spiral toward empty stadiums and relegation. No news on Arshavin.

6:12 am — No news on Arshavin.

6:15 am — SPUDS SIGN CUDICHINI!!! Another top player that Arsenal have missed out on. No news on Arshavin.

6:18 am — I should give this mess an intro… done. No Arshavin news.

6:21 am — I have to get ready for work. The FA 5th round draw has been made and if we can get past Cardiff we’ll either face Jay Simpson with WBA or Carling Cup nemesis Burnley. Funny how that works, eh?

6:24 am — nietski newski Arshavin

6:26 am — Philippe Senderos played a whole 90 minutes for AC Milan: I heard his performance was a bunch of Bologna. Uhhh, all the other kids on loan played too, no one scored or did anything spectacular.

6:35 am — @leon, yes, the deadline is Monday, today is Monday! Did you guys hear that Arsenal supporters had a stand off with Cardiff supporters after the FA Cup match? What decade is this?

6:38 am — OMG ARSHAVIN NEWS… Zenit have abandonded their £20m overvaluation of Arshavin and the teams are “locked in talks.” Maybe Wenger heard all of your frustrations about how spending the extra few Million won’t break the bank?

6:43 am — Dan in the comments mentions that the deal is being reported “good as done” in the Russian press. Too bad I don’t speak Russian. :(

6:45 am — I scooped L’Equipe! No Arshavin News, in English.  Also, I went to that Russian newspaper link that Dan supplied and then on to another link and got this (edited for content):

nooooooooooo

THANKS FOR NOTHING DAN.

6:51 am — got to go to work, will check my Google Reader when I get there. How many of you use Google Reader? No Arshavin News.

7:45 am — dang, it’s freezing out here, took me 10 minutes just to warm the car up for my 10 minute drive to work! No Arshavin news, but the comedy of Spurs just keeps delivering; looks like they have signed Chimbonda back from Sunderland. This confirms, what? That Spuds are bat-shit crazy? Who’s next on Spurs “Oh crap we screwed up” transfer list? Gazza?

8:06 am — HA! Not Gazza, Keane! I don’t know, I couldn’t make up something that funny. I just hope Liverpool charge Spuds like £25m for him. Since Arsenal are not doing anything, I have to wonder, does it get any better than watching our North London “rivals” try to assemble the “dream team” that got them to the lofty heights of 5th place 2 years ago and 11th place last year? I say no, it doesn’t.

8:17 am — @Patrick, the odds are 100% that Arsenal supporters will find something to whine about regardless of what happens with this deal. Wenger could buy the entire Man U squad and supporters would complain about something: “Ronaldo doesn’t look like he’s giving 100%! Sell him to Real!”

9:02 am — “first again” goonerforum is recylcing reports that I have seen other places that has Usmanov buying Arshavin. This is not news, this is speculation, news happens when the club report Arshavin has signed.  Also, goonerforum should get their own look — The funny thing about them is that I think they wanted to do a link exchange but I found their content to be, well, stupid.

10:48 am — ArSHAVIN NEWS! Dangit, no it’s not… ESPNSoccernet is reporting the quotes that were attributed to Andrei earlier in the week in a cheap stunt to try to generate hits, just like I’ve been doing! HA HA I scooped ESPN!

10:54 am — Setanta has reported that they will be showing the Arsenal – Cardiff replay on Tuesday the 3rd of Feb.

10:58 am — Micah Richards is denying that he’s coming to Arsenal. There was a ton of speculation that the England CB was the target of Arsene during the summer when he made his famous remarks about “getting someone from the EPL” which turned out to be a failed bid for Alonso. I’m not sure how I feel about Richards, on the one hand I’ve always though he sucked. On the other hand, he’s sucked even more this year than any other. Now would be the perfect time to land him, because I doubt he could possibly suck any more than he does now!

3:37 pm — HOLY CRAP!!!! I’ve been gone all day “working” and suddenly check my gReader an WHAM Shitanta is reporting that Arsenal and Zenit have agreed to terms and all that is left is for Arshavin and Arsenal to agree to terms… {record scratch} what? That’s not right. That’s not what anyone has been saying all along, Arshavin has been saying all along that he’s already agreed to terms and that the clubs need to agree. What kind of football jokers are these Zenit people?

GOD DAMNIT this is going to last longer than a bad case of crabs, innit?

My inside source tells me that Arsneal threw in two black players as a makeweight and that Zenit was so horrified by this prospect that they cut the deal down to £8m. Or maybe I made that last bit up.

Anyway “full” analysis of this massively important and ground breaking development in the morning, I got more stuff to do.

25
Jan
09

Cardiff 0-0 Arsenal; the Good, Bad, and Downright Pathetic

Match Reports

ESPNSoccernet: An Emirates Stadium replay will now be required after an entertaining repeat of the 1927 final, which the Bluebirds won 1-0, failed to produce a goal.

Setanta: City ran themselves into the ground

Man of the match

Ross McCormack. The Cardiff supporter there at the bar turned to me and said that they had signed McCormack for £100,000 which is an incredible bargain considering how well the midfielder played for the Bluebirds.

The Good

There was no news about the Andrei Arshavin transfer saga which is a welcome respite.

The Bad

I really feel for Aaron Ramsey. This kid is only 18 and there he was thrust into the middle of a heated cup tie, against his old team, with the supporters giving him a hard time, and his old teammates roughing him up. He had an Eboue of a game and Wenger was right to take him off, though I can’t quite figure out why the Cardiff fans booed him off the pitch.

His inclusion at the start was very perplexing since Wenger had said the day before that he would only include him if it was for the best and clearly it was not for the best. With Rambo in the midfield the team played the worst 20 minutes I have ever seen an Arsenal team play. No, I take that back. The second worst, the worst was when Arsenal lost 5-1 to Man U and that fuck Nani did the seal dribble and was damn near kneecapitated by Flamini.

A bad day for the young man, but lets hope he learns from this and comes back stronger in 9 days; if Wenger risks him again.

The Downright Pathetic

This is hard because there were so many pathetic players out there today. For example, while Eboue was diving all over the pitch and generally looking like he doesn’t give two fucks, Adebayor was fluffing wide open shots. And when Arsenal did break and get an open shot it inevitably was hit straight at the keeper or right into the crowd. Or how about a defense that was shockingly inept for large stretches of the game and only kept a clean sheet throught the bad luck of their opponents?

It was so bad all over the pitch for long stretches that I actually started to enjoy the play of Alex Song and Abu Diaby. Figure that.

But I can forgive poor play, it happens, what I hate to see is 20+ minutes at the end of the match where Cardiff are huffing and puffing around the pitch and the whole Arsenal team just looks disinterested. Passing the ball side to side and not taking the match up another level. That was infuriating.

Incredibly, Wenger didn’t see it the same as me:

I feel in the first half we started very well, but overall Cardiff had a good committed game and created some chances. In the second half we were on top and it was the quality of their defending and their commitment that stopped us scoring. The pitch, too, was not easy, but it was a great cup game and showed what this cup is about.

Really? Arsenal started well? Nearly conceding 2 easy goals and the midfield in utter disarray? That’s “starting very well?” This has to be his version of a pep talk, because there’s no way he saw that first half and thought Arsenal were positive.

Like I said at the outset, it was the second worst performance I have seen from an Arsenal team and they will have to be a lot better if they think they are going to win anything this season.

Conclusion

Well, Cardiff get a rematch at the Emirates in 9 days and a good bit of the gate receipts, which is good for them. Arsenal, on the other hand, get a crowded fixture list right at the time when they have half the squad out injured, which is bad for them. But hey, it was a clean sheet, and our “not losing” streak is still alive, right?

24
Jan
09

Does it really matter if Wenger signs someone? Really?

it's a tackle from behind!

Supposedly this Arshavin saga will come to some kind of conclusion today and none too soon. The last word I read said that Arsenal made their final offer, which went to the Zenit board, who, either not well versed in English or collectively crazier than a shit house rat, made a counter final offer on Arsenal’s final offer. Zenit are also claiming that there are “other teams” who are showing an interest in Andrei, which the press are saying is Man City.

Ok, first off, if City was interested, City would have signed the player. Given the manner in which Zenit has gone about this I can’t see them being honorable about the negotiations and giving Arsenal first rights. Arsenal’s final offer was £12m plus £3m in incentives so City just need to offer say £15m all at once and they could have the player, I suspect.

Second, and this is fact, Arsenal are at their limit. This is a self imposed limit, for sure, but a limit no less. In Arsenal’s 2007/2008 annual report they listed £93m in cash reserves but the club is not going to spend that money in the current climate, and I can’t blame them: that money is a safeguard against several seasons out of the Champions League. You may not like to hear me say that but Champions League football is not a birthright and besides which buying a player like Arshavin is no guarantee we’ll overtake Aston Villa. We all know that Arsenal have more problems on the pitch than just one player can solve, no matter how good that player is.

So, the board are going to hold on to that cash and spend only profits they make from player sales and other annual profits after tax. Which brings me to the main point here: Arsenal are taking a long term view of this project and one or two or even three years out of the Champions League won’t kill the club.

You can disagree with them, and that’s all well and fine, but this conservative financial model has served the club very well up to this point, winning trophies that the older fans didn’t get but once a decade. Yes, they will lose a significant amount of potential money if they don’t make the Champions League but even finishing 4th doesn’t guarantee the numbers that I see all the time. Numbers like £40m in losses are silly, I’ve been a fan long enough to remember several early exits from the Champions League that certainly didn’t earn even £5m for this club. Arsenal didn’t collapse and the world didn’t come to an end. In fact, a quick glance at the numbers shows that Arsenal would be profitable even if they didn’t play ANY European football.

The other oft-cited argument is that Arsenal won’t be able to recruit world class talent if they don’t finish in the top four. I think Wenger doesn’t care. Arsenal are not out in the market recruiting top talent, they are too busy creating top talent. So, yes, finishing out of the top four means that Arsenal will lose their ability to recruit the David Villas of the world, but it’s not going to stop them from getting the Aaron Ramseys, Jack Wilsheres, and Jay Simpsons and as long as Wenger is the manager those are the players Arsenal are going to be recruiting.

The third argument we hear a lot of is that people will get sick of Arsenal if they don’t start winning something. Maybe, and maybe combined with the global economic slump gate receipts will be lower, television revenues will fall, and there could be a host of other problems. Maybe all that will come to transpire, but if Wenger’s project does what he keeps claiming it will do, those fans will return, gate receipts will go back up, Champions League football will come back, and everyone will hail him as a genius and we’ll all be super happy. If his project fails, the board will replace him and some other manager with a different approach will come along. But no matter what happens, Arsenal are in the financial position to weather this storm.

Wenger’s youth project is so insanely divisive that it’s not even funny anymore. I’m no wide-eyed optimist, nor am I a sheep just following Wenger’s every move. I’m not a shill for the club, nor am I a gloom and doom part time supporter. Most importantly, while I get frustrated that Alex Song is our starting DM and Emannuel Eboue is our starting RM and I write about it and analyze the club, I don’t think for a minute I know more than Arsene Wenger and the Arsenal board. I’m just a supporter and while I’d love to see a player like Lorik Cana at the club, I think we all would, in the end, I support the club. Their plan is logical, responsible, and may actually produce some of the best football the world has ever seen. It could also fail miserably. We’ll have to wait and see and by wait and see I mean “where will Arsenal be in 10 years?”

In the mean time, it doesn’t really matter if he buys players or not; because all of us are right. It could be right to buy players, in the short term, and even in the long term. Having some fresh blood come in could energize the team, having some more older players could provide some leadership, having a new DM could add some steel. All of those benefits could bring Arsenal some Champions League football, which could put more buts in the seats, which could improve our transfer abilities, and could fill out coffers even more. There’s no guarantees here but it could happen. It could also be right not to spend any money and build the team from within as I have outlined above. Both positions have merit, equal merit, and what I’ve seen happening is that both sides are talking over each other.

Let’s all take a deep breath, step back, and try to enjoy Arsenal as a distraction from the insanity of the world right now. If Wenger signs Arshavin, great. If not, let’s just move on, we’re all on the same team aren’t we?

23
Jan
09

Arsenal on the verge of signing?

Arsenal travel to Ninian park on Sunday for an early FA cup match but all that anyone really cares about is the Andrei Arshavin signing saga.  Well, that’s not true some of us care about that, the FA Cup match, and Arsenal signing someone better than Alex Song to anchor the midfield but if you read the papers all we care about is the Arshavin deal.

Well, let’s put it to bed: according to Zenit, Arsenal have increased their offer and the deal will be done on Sunday. Never mind that Peter Hill-Wood said just yesterday that Arsenal made their last offer, Zenit is claiming that Arsenal have increased their bid!

I’m pretty certain that what we’re seeing here is a Zenit club that are basically rank amateurs when it comes to negotiations. Their very public attempts to increase interest from people outside the negotiating room was distasteful and unethical. But worse, they now look like a bunch of clowns as they change their tune every two days. One day it’s “we want £20m, Arsenal are being too cheap, no deal” and the next day they are saying “Arsenal have offered us a good deal we should conclude this in 2 days.”

I say screw this story, there’s too many known unknowns and even some unknown unknowns to report anything as fact. If Arshavin signs anything I’ll report it, if not, f*ck it. I’ve got to put this story down before I lose my mind. I mean, if you thought I was vitriolic against Zenit before for their overt racism and hiring discrimination I am now at the point where I just want to strangle the whole lot of them.

And if you want to go absolutely bat shit insane, all you have to do is listen to Wenger say all the things I said he’d say yesterday.

I am very happy with the squad I have and will only add someone who can give us something special. For the rest I have good players and believe strongly in them. Should we not get what we want, we will accept it as well because I believe we are strong enough with what we have.

I really wish he would have mentioned the fact that they are a young team here but he didn’t, instead he said that Arsenal aren’t really buying anyone because…

At the moment I am more focused on doing well with the players we have than being frenetic about the transfer market. I am convinced there is enough quality inside here to achieve that target.

Wait for it…

We are not close to signing anybody else, but what I see in training is a very determined team of top quality.

Wait for it…

Also the players coming back, like Fabregas and Walcott, there is a little chance that Rosicky will play again before the end of the season, so we have plenty of players coming back who are like new signings.

They are like new signings! If by “new signing” you mean “players who are currently under contract but who have been out for up to a year due to freak injuries and would be coming back into the team but won’t actually be signing anything nor are they new.”

Sometimes I want to strangle Wenger too. I’m in a strangling mood today I guess.

You should also know that Arsenal supposedly have rejected offers for Bendtner and Eboue. Now, before you get too excited, both of these stories come from the players’ respective agents. Moreover, both agents are claiming that the respective clubs contacted the agents and made an offer for the player. Unfortunately, for me, that all adds up to this being the biggest hot air story of all hot air stories.

Anyway, Arsenal have Cardiff on Sunday in the FA Cup, which is something real, something that we all know is going to happen and not some agent’s fantasy. The actual kickoff is 5am and the match is only available on Setanta or one of the P2P sites, which as you all know means a trip to the pub to watch the game!

Doyle’s (listed in my blogroll) is showing the match on a delay because they don’t want to get up at 5am (I don’t blame them) and that’s where I’ll be on Sunday, 7am-ish.

A match will be a welcome respite from the fantasy world of transfer windows, what with all the candy colored Kaka’s and champagne Arshavins.




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