Archive for June, 2009


“Rafa signs Pompey’s Johnson”

What? You didn’t think I could let a world class joke like that go could you?

Seriously though, the transfer window is heating up and rumors are now flying faster than ever, though for some reason, Chelsea seem to keep getting shafted in the end.



The Chelsea story is an actual story, it’s just that no one is reporting on it. Nearly half the time I’ve been an Arsenal supporter the summer transfer window went like this: Week 1, “Arsenal to bring former great Ian Wright’s adopted son back to Highbury for £8m.” Week2, “Chelsea snap up Shaun Wright-Phillips from City for  record fee of £30m.” Week 3, “Arsenal looking at Ghana star Essien to replace departing Vieira.” Week 4, “Chelsea stun the Premier League again with £35m swoop for Essien.” Something like that, you get the point.

So, regardless what I think of Melo as a player, you can imagine my apprehension when I see Chelsea being linked with Melo. It’s almost an apoplectic reaction, honestly, I feel like shouting “HOLY F*CK PAY ANYTHING JUST SIGN HIM.”

But the truth is that Chelsea are more like a toothless old lion these days: their ocassional roars only frighten if you fail to see them gumming their meat over in the corner.

No pun intended.

The facts is that Chelsea are starting to look like an old team and their director is desperate to bring in new recruits to inject life. The only problem is that his transfer policy (“hmmm, let’s see who the other top four are linked to and bid MOAR”) is both transparent to everyone involved and the prices elsewhere are just flat out better. I mean, why would Glen Johnson want to return to the team which famously snubbed him and, worse, then only showed interest after other clubs were linked? Given an offer of money from his old mercenary club, the new mercenary club on the block, and a club like Liverpool — someone who has actually won a European Championship — the choice was obvious.

The funny thing is that this story is repeating itself ad nauseum this transfer season. Some team is linked to a big name player and suddenly Chelsea’s name is added to the list, only to be swept aside by Real Madrid or Liverpool or the prospects offered by a club like Arsenal. Listen to what Vermaelen said in his interview, he mentions Arsene Wenger as one of the reasons that he came to Arsenal, calling le Boss “one of the top names in football.” Even if Chelsea come in with some huge money offer I still suspect a player like Melo will be given some pause. After all, Arsenal is pretty much the only team where he is likely to get the first team action needed to secure a World Cup spot.

Meanwhile, back up north in Liverpool the Reds are nearly admitting defeat in their bid to hold on to Xabi Alonso. This article lists the transfer fee as £30m and I’ve seen that number as high as £38m. Even the lower of those two valuations is, well, it’s crazy. Just last season, Arsenal were mooted to have bid between £12m and £18m for his services and they had that bid denied. By all accounts Alonso went on to have a tremendous season, but a double the value season? Wow, I wish we’d have broken the bank for him, just the sell on value alone would be worth it!

And you know what? If Real don’t sign Alonso, it looks like they could just get Essien. HA!. That would be delicious, delicious, irony if Essien would leave Chelsea and go to Real. I always thought Chelsea would collapse when Abramovich lost interest but it’s starting to look like they are going to collapse when all their best players either leave for greener pastures or die of old age. Live by the Euro, die by the Euro, I guess.

Which brings me to our beloved Arsenal, where Arsene Wenger is still preaching fiscal prudence and talking about keeping a young squad together. No argument there from me, I like all the players on this team* and think that it would be premature to start breaking it up, so I greet news that Robin van Persie may have signed another deal with open arms.

Meanwhile, the transfer fanatics will be looking for a sign of a signing from Wenger and he has given us one saying

I want to add to the squad and have identified one or two targets. But identifying players and buying them are two different things. Ideally I would like to bring everybody in before we start back in pre-season training in July. I don’t want to leave it until the end of August.

All Arsenal fans should be very excited to hear that, because if he pulls it off it will be a first for me to see the whole team assembled before summer practice starts. The only problem is if we’re after Felipe Melo we won’t be able to negoatiate with him until after the Confederations Cup — which ends the 28th of June. I’ve never seen an Arsenal transfer take less than a month, so maybe we can get him in before August but let’s not get our hopes up.

The other funny thing Wenger said in the interview happened when he hit on the magical £100m “money in the bank” number

I am fed-up with people who think I have £100m in the bank yet don’t want to spend it. How can people think that? The pride of the club is in having moved to a new stadium while maintaining the club at the top level.The policy of the club is that they have backed me in what I do and the way I do it. We now have to be strong enough to stick to that. We cannot pump £100m into it, so we must keep faith in what we are doing.

Well, people think it because Arsenal keep releasing statements saying that they have £100m in the bank! Now, maybe you don’t have that at your disposal, fair enough, but don’t take the piss out of the supporters when they are just listening to what the board is saying. Simply put, Arsene, this is the modern condition: everyone knows what everyone else is up to nowadays, you can’t hide information, especially if it’s in public reports. So, take the piss out of the board. If they said, “Arsenal have to have a strategic reserve of [such and such] in order to stave off possible economic disaster” then I don’t think fans would have a problem seeing this huge number. Sorry, but that’s the kind of transparency that’s needed now days.

Either that or re-invest the money into the damn Highbury development and get that off our backs!

I will break in to our regular coverage if there is a miracle signing, other than that, see you tomorrow.

*ok, I wouldn’t be heartbroken to see Silvestre, Adebayor, and Eboue sent off to greener pastures, but I still, erm, uhhh, like them, as people.


Robin Expected to Sign Soon

Two new signings?

First off, I hope everyone had a wonderful Father’s day yesterday. I had a kickaround, then had some beer, then indulged in some razor clams and some more beer and watched Young Frankenstein with the family.

It was nice, but I was thinking, Father’s day should be held on Saturday so that you can have a hangover on Sunday and be ready to go back to work on Monday. Just saying…

Anyway, while I was consuming my first round of beers, I had a chance to watch the Italy v. Brazil game and check out supposed Arsenal target Felipe Melo. The Brazilians played a sort of 4-2-3-1 and I thought Melo did pretty well, backing up the far superior Gilberto Silva. I’m not sure who that Gilberto guy plays for but we should sign him, he would be perfect.

Seriously though, I don’t think Melo looks the part that Arsenal need. I mean, in 90 minutes I don’t think I saw him put in a single tackle. He had plenty of opportunity, mind you, but he seemed to be coasting behind Gilberto who was everywhere, doing everything. Maybe he’s better than that and had an off night, but I’m struggling to see what he offers that our Denilson doesn’t already have. I’m looking for one of three types of players; the Gilberto type who is everywhere filling in for everyone, a destroyer, or just a solid box-to-box midfielder. The last thing we need is another slow, technically proficient, midfielder.

Oh and hey, I also caught the tail end of this one game, where the USA beat some Egypt team? Was that an important game or something? Because I read that the winner of that game gets to be Spain’s next win.

Wasn’t someone saying that Egypt was going to beat USA 7-0? Hmmm…

Anyway, enough of that International crapola, we’ve got Arsenal “news!”

Robin van Persie is supposedly going to be (like) a new signing any minute now. Yay. Bendtner’s daddy said that he’s NOT leaving the club, not for Roma, even though they are traveling to Rome. Yay. Arshavin says he wants to end his career in Russia St. Racistberg, possibly to be closer to his hairdresser. Meanwhile, the press are pushing hard for Chelsea to buy Adebayor. OMGPLEASELETTHISHAPPEN. And finally, on-again-off-again Arsenal target Blaze Matuidi has asked his directors for a sign over his future at Saint-Etienne, this totally means that Arsenal are going to sign him.  Totally.

Setanta Follow Up

Setanta finally got their US site up and running and they have a statement on the US site that says

As has been widely reported in various media channels, Setanta Sports has today had its agreement to broadcast 46 Barclays Premier League matches in the UK terminated.

This development does not affect our channels and other services in the US.

Setanta Sports in the US is a separate operation that has separate agreement to show the Barclay’s Premier League. Our channels and other services in the US continue to broadcast and our subscribers can still enjoy our programming including the Lions Tour of South Africa and the UEFA U21 European Championship.

New customers are welcome to subscribe to watch some of the world’s best soccer and rugby either by contacting our cable and satellite partners or online at

We thank you for your continued interest in Setanta Sports and look forward to bringing you a wealth of sport over the coming months and years.

I guess that’s that and we’ve got another season of Setanta to look forward to over here — because even if the UK enterprise collapses, they may be able to pull off a leaner version in the states. We’ll have to wait and see. For my foreign readers, the UK rights are going up for sale and it’s looking like you all may be watching the games on Sky.

Right, that’s it for today, see you all tomorrow!


Happy Father’s Day!

First off, I want to give a shout out to blog commenter and new daddy Travis the Septopus — and of course to all us old daddy’s out there: Adrian, Alex, Caribkid, Russ, and anyone else who ever donated chromosomes!

The real Gooner of the Year

On such an auspicious day I also want to give you guys nothing but good news! So, for example, Man U are being linked to the old-new-Zidane, Karim Benzema. So I went out and looked at his video and then I looked at Juan Seb Veron’s video and I’m convinced that Benzema is not the new Zidane, he’s not even the new Veron. See for yourself!



SEE! Veron is da bomb! I think Man U should break the bank and sign that guy!

Following on the heels of that world exclusive, I have another piece of exclusive news: Arsenal are going to trade Eboue for Sakho. OHGODSPLEASELETTHISBETRUE.

Meanwhile, Diaby is working out, getting more powerful, trying to get “Vieira like” or maybe “Vieira-esque.” It’s a funny story. I wonder why he felt the need to talk about it at all? Of course, we’d all take it if he was just “Almost nearly Vieira” but as it stands the closest he’ll get to Vieira is when he shines his boots for the national team. Keeping with the theme of today’s blog, though, let’s all wish him good luck! May he come out of the training with 20 inch biceps and legs like mighty might oaks.

And for all you Veloso fans out there, here’s a heartwarming story about how no one has bid for him. I mean, I’m sure it’s not heartwarming for him, but it means that we can all keep the Veloso to Arsenal fantasy alive!

And finally, someone has taken Vermaelen’s first interview off the dot com (BAD BOY) and put it on youtube, get it while it’s hot.

I’m off to have a kickaround and as a father, I will be expected great service today, scoring 13 goals, and making every defensive play!

See you tomorrow.


Setanta collapse begins

Adebayor just wanted to Upgrade to a bigger contract WHY DON'T YOU LOVE ADEBAYOR ANYMORE???

Yesterday, amidst all the good news for Arsenal supporters, there was an announcement by the English Premier League that they are cancelling Setanta’s contract for the 2009/10 season owing to the fact that Setanta could not make a £10m scheduled payment. The rights to some 46 matches are now going to be repackaged and sold to the highest bidder with Sky sports and ESPN the two most likely contenders.

Ok, but here’s where this gets complicated.

From what I’ve gleaned, there are multiple types of rights for these matches. There are rights to broadcast in England and Ireland (from here on out “The Isles”) and there are rights to broadcast in Asia, and rights to broadcast in America. Evidently, and I may well be wrong about this as I cannot confirm it due to the fact that is all kinds of broken (it’s stuck in an infinite questionnaire loop), the games that were terminated were only EPL games broadcast on The Isles. I poked around on the dot US site but could see nothing approaching the type of press release they have done on the English site, so the speculation that this change might not effect American viewers could be spot on.

Of course, if Setanta collapses completely, which at this point is pretty likely given the huge financial hit they will take from not being able to broadcast EPL matches plus the fact that they can’t secure funding because they owe £50m in taxes, then all bets are off and the American content will probably be sold off to the highest bidder as well.

Personally, I don’t think we’ll see much drop in coverage. The EPL is a cash cow in the U.S. and any broadcaster would be foolish not to bid on the games, especially if they are being offered at a discount. If Sky wins the contracts then we will most likely be relegated to watching re-runs of the matches as Sky currently only has one channel in the U.S. — Fox Soccer Channel.  And Fox Soccer Channel is the worst kind of low rent broadcaster. If they win, we’ll probably never see football in HD.

Given the horrible programming, plus the reluctance of Fox to spend on upgrades, I would say that as long as Tommy Smyth is kept away from the microphone, most American football fans would rather have ESPN win the contract than Sky.  If ESPN wins, we might not get all the matches, but they do have several channels, two of which are HD, and if they could parley the built in audience that Setanta has generated, with a brand new HD season I think they could have a real winner.

ESPN is a stable, huge corporation and they could really do the EPL up right. No more “Upgrade” commercials run 60 times in 15 minutes! So, I think it’s in all American Arsenal supporter’s best interest to push ESPN to buy the American rights to the EPL and broadcast them. If you have a few seconds, click this link and contact ESPN and let them know how you feel.

The Poop Scoop

There’s precious little transfer news this morning. I guess Ryan Babel is tired of warming the bench at Anfield and has let it be known that he wants to play for Arsenal.  Frankly, I think he’s shown that he is not Premier League material and I’m happy Arsene didn’t splash the cash on him when we were linked two years ago. Of course, if anyone could rescue his career Arsene could do it, but we’d need a really good price.

Africa Cup of Nations

I was thinking about the Vermaelen purchase last night and how Arsenal will be losing 3-4 players to the ACN next year and I’ve come to the conclusion that Vermaelen isn’t coming in to displace Toure and Gallas but rather to provide much needed cover for them. Think about it, Wenger can bring Vermaelen along slowly while playing the shiat out of Toure and then when the ACN takes Toure, Song, Eboue, and possibly Adebayor (he’s on the outs again with Togo) Vermaelen can step in and fill the roles of either Song or Toure. If he’s as good as Wenger says and Wenger makes sure to get him a bunch of games before January (but not burn him out) he will be a great player to have at a crucial time in the season, when we are losing all the rest of our defense to the ACN.

Frankly, it’s the perfect way to bring the guy along in his first year.

Meanwhile, that means that Arsene is unlikely to let Gallas and Toure go anywhere, unless a sizable bid is made. He doesn’t need to replace them. They know the system and signing Vermaelen gives Arsenal cover against their departure at the crucial part of the season.

What this might herald is the retirement of Silvestre. OH PLEASE GOD!

Still, the ACN does mean that Arsenal have an even greater need for a Midfield partner for Cesc, if Song is supposedly one of the options there, then he will need cover when he leaves in January as well.

Who will it be Arsene?

Don’t Forget to Enter to Win!

‘It’s Up for Grabs Now’…… And the rest is Arsenal history! Brian Moore’s match commentary as Michael Thomas puts away the goal that clinched the ’89 League Championship in arguably Arsenal’s greatest ever match is featured on Philosophy Football’s anniversary shirt. Plus, a diagram of the winning goal and match details. Available from we have 5 to be won in our competition, to enter simply answer the following simple question:

Liverpool v Arsenal, 26 May 1989, name the two goalscorers.

Send answer, name, address and preferred T-shirt size to Entries close 30 June ’09, no purchase necessary to enter.

Good luck!


We’re all hoping it’s a sign of things to come

So, it’s official, Thomas Vermaelen has signed for Arsenal. I am as excited to see him play as I am to see what other moves Le Boss makes this summer. I’ve never seen Arsenal act this agressive in any transfer market. They are almost always last to sign players, looking around for a bargain, and frustrating us supporters with their talk of how so and so can fill in at such and such position.

So, signing the Ajax captain, who plays in a position that everyone agrees we need for an Arsenal record transfer fee is huge. No, not just huge, this is the most definitive signal from Arsene Wenger that he’s changed course a bit that I have ever seen. Wenger himself heralds the chage thusly,

Thomas is a great signing for Arsenal Football Club, and we are all delighted that he is joining us. Thomas is a solid performer with good experience of Champions League and UEFA Cup football and is also a regular with the Belgium national team.

Thomas is primarily a left-footed centre back, but he’s multi-functional and can also play at left back. He is strong technically with a positive winner’s attitude and I have no doubt his arrival will strengthen our team. Thomas Vermaelen will be a huge asset to Arsenal.

Here here, may the Boss’ vision prove correct once again.

Welcome, Thomas, you’re a Gooner now and we all support you.


Vermaelen it in…

Well, Thomas Vermaelen is supposedly signing for us today for a reported fee of £10m.  IF this happens, it will be an Arsenal record for a defender and be the second record breaking price that Arsenal paid for a player in less than a year. He’s a left footed, aerially adept, central defender and if he can handle the pressure of being a central defender for the most attacking team in world football he may turn out to be one of those “Wenger signings” where he takes a relative unknown at a bargain price and turns him into a star.

Questions remain as to whether Kolo or Gallas are going to stay and the press is all atwitter with rumors that the former has renewed his love affair with Manchester City. Kolo’s a good defender and would command a decent fee and I’d be sad to see him go, though he is playing in the disastrously stupid ACN this Winter, exactly at the time when the club will need him most (against Pool, Chels, ManU). So, while I would be sad to see him go, it would be a good move for Arsenal.

Gallas is our best defender and our most experienced player. Yes, he’s got some issues, but keeping him on to pass the torch to Vermaelen will be crucial.

It’s Ladies Week over at the dot com and they deserve the attention, what with being the most successful women’s club pretty much ever. But that’s all we have today.

So, what I want to know is who you think Arsenal are going to sign next? Not who you WISH Arsenal will sign — the overpriced overrated and overly old David Villa is not coming to Arsenal — but who you legitimately think will sign for Arsenal. Responses should be realistic, address squad issues (what will happen if your signing comes in, someone will be displaced), and must take into account Arsene Wenger’s management style and footballing philosophy.

So, for example, saying that Arsenal are bringing in Steven Taylor for £18m to play Striker is probably not realistic. You can write whatever you want, but be prepared to be ridiculed!

Right, so get working.

While you’re at it, I want to remind you that you can win a free shirt in 7amkickoff’s very-first-ever-world-premier-competition!


‘It’s Up for Grabs Now’…… And the rest is Arsenal history! Brian Moore’s match commentary as Michael Thomas puts away the goal that clinched the ’89 League Championship in arguably Arsenal’s greatest ever match is featured on Philosophy Football’s anniversary shirt. Plus, a diagram of the winning goal and match details. Available from we have 5 to be won in our competition, to enter simply answer the following simple question:

Liverpool v Arsenal, 26 May 1989, name the two goalscorers.

Send answer, name, address and preferred T-shirt size to Entries close 30 June ’09, no purchase necessary to enter.
Good luck!

Zidane: a 21st Century Portrait. The best football film ever.

hey, aqui, AQUI!

On April 23, 2005, 17 of the world’s most adept cinematographers and sound engineers descended upon the Bernabeu and focused all of their talents on just one man; Zinedine Zidane. The result is a film that will at times move you, cause you to wander off into your own head, and in the end shock you.

The film has only seen limited theatrical release in the United States and I missed my chance to see it at the IMAX in Seattle and again when it came to Tacoma’s little art house theater. I had been kicking myself ever since. But, I thought in my arrogant American way, it will come out on DVD and I’ll just buy it.  Silly American… I’ve now been waiting 2 years for this film to be released as a region 1 DVD and frankly, I can’t see it ever happening. If it does, I will gladly buy the film. Hell, if any of my readers have a line on where I can get the region 1 disk (legally) I will buy two and give one away here. It’s worth it. This is, after all, my favorite movie since I saw Blade Runner over 20 years ago.

It probably seems like a minor detail because I’d bet a lot of you have universal DVD players, but the fact is that the DVD player attached to my TV is pretty old and won’t play region 2 disks.  VLC player, on my computer, however, is completely universal and that’s what I settled on. So, I went to my local library and put in a request to have the film sent to me from one of the consortia libraries and one week later I got the region 2 DVD: I wasn’t going to pay for a disk I couldn’t play at home, but I really, REALLY wanted to see the film.

It was worth it.

It’s funny. It’s not so much a film as it’s just a piece of art. I mean, yes, there’s a plot but only because football has a plot in a sense. You have your protagonist (Zidane) your antagonist (Marcos Senna) and all sorts of characters coming in and creating all sorts of plot twists (Beckham, Fat Ronaldo, the Ref, etc) but the movie is almost too linear to be a story. Does that make any sense?

It’s more like Warhol’s movie of people sleeping than a story in the traditional sense, but it does have a story and there is character development in a way that most movies now days seem to lack. I guess it’s the story of one day — a day like any other. There’s a bomb going off in Baghdad, there’s a war in Africa. People give speeches they think are important, sign treaties, forget to take the kettle off.  And then, that night, in Madrid, there’s 93 minutes when Real Madrid hosted Villareal and for those 93 minutes that’s all there is going on in the world.

Along the way we learn the subtlety of Zizou, the quiet, what he thinks about while he plays, his grace, his power, his touch, his focus, and his faults. We see the way he kicks the ground with his toes as he paces about the pitch like an animal on the prowl. And through the magic of those magnificent artists behind the camera and the microphone, we hear the roar of the crowd one minute and then next they filter all that out and all we hear is the zen-like breath of Zizou, the thump of the ball as he makes a pass, and the quiet muffled sound of the man as he dribbles around pretty much everyone else on the pitch.

This experience is only heightened by the Mogwai soundtrack, which brilliantly carries us into quiet moments and then loudly heralds moments of action.

Footballistically speaking the film is a masterpiece as well. Zidane’s touch is amazing, I don’t think he lost the ball once, and his reading of the game is spot on. Quietly pacing the pitch, pointing where he wants the ball, accepting the ball and either dribbling around the defender or making the correct pass to a teammate. It’s the perfect portrait of Zidane, the zen master, at the top of his game.

His antagonist is incredible to watch as well. If Zidane is the contemplative, purposeful predator, then Marcos Senna is the perfect all action foil. Marking Zidane the whole game, hell he seems to be marking everyone plus Zidane, Senna is the type of no nonsense, all action, crunching, yet deft passing midfielder that every Arsenal supporter has begged Wenger to buy since Patrick Vieira said his good byes.

If you love the game, if you play the game, you will love this film. If you love film, you will love this film. I can’t recommend it enough.

This is a film you can, no, should, get lost in.

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June 2009