Archive for the 'Andrei Arshavin is mentioned in this blog' Category

30
Jun
09

The Last Day

A metaphysical dichotomy has forced this unit to overload and shut down ...

It’s an inauspicious sending off of the old blog, I must say.

Andrei Arshavin is all over the press because something he said 6 months ago was reprinted in the World’s Least Reliable News Source. Felipe Melo (L’Equipe) has reportedly renewed his contract with Fiorentina until 2013, all but ruling the player out for an Arsenal transfer. And, as you no doubt know by now, Amaury Bischoff has been released by the club.

As if I wasn’t nervous enough already!

In hindsight, I should have just gotten the damn thing up when I first bought the domain. It really wasn’t that much work and having your own domain, not a page hosted by WordPress.com, gives you so much more flexibility that it would have been worth it. For example, now I can install Google analytics and have detailed reports of where my hits come from, how long they stay on site, what pages they read, etc.

Not to mention advertisements, hey, I want to get a little back for all the work I’ve put in!

I get up every day at 4:30am and continue my research from the night before. If it’s a complicated article, like say one on the 39th game, I have a lot of research to do and sometimes I have to split it over three days. For the RSS feed + jokes articles I just need to make sure my facts are all straight — and even then some things get past me.

Then I write. Depending on the size of the article, depending on the wakedness of my daughter, and depending on the deepness of my hangover/distractions that takes usually an hour, maybe more.

The rest of the day I check the wires, put aside reprts that are important and dream of Arsenal signing some commanding central midfielder who will give big lumps to all the c*nts ooop norf — and the Chelsea c*nts too.

2-3 hours every day… every single day for nearly two years has resulted in 605 posts, 273,000 views, and 4,300 comments. When I started doing this I was getting just 20 views a day and I nearly quit — it was frustrating to have one guy (Matt!) read the blog and tell me how well I wrote and yet see that no one else was reading. Then I got picked up by Gooner News and everything took off. Now, I’m pretty sure I have a following, several folks who come by nearly every day and say something. Sometimes they like what I wrote, sometimes not, but they are always here and that I really appreciate.

Along the way I’ve been called a cocksandwich, learned what a middle fielder is, and banned a few pricks but it’s been a lot of fun. A lot of fun.

It’s just, I want more. I want more people to see the site, more folks to argue over what I said or what they said, more people to know what a cocksandwich I am, more folks from all over the world building this community of people who get up at odd hours to watch a team we all love: Arsenal.

So, I’m moving and it’s going to be good. First, I’ve spoken with Arseblogger and he’s agreed to a link exchange which is, well, it’s fuckin’ excellent. Second, I’m going to keep knocking on the door of NewsNow until I get in, the new site will let me make my pages more friendly for their reader and I’m hoping that will help. Third, we’ll be doing some targeted advertisements and promotions (by the way, today is your last chance to win a free shirt!), things that will get people here. Fourth, we’re going to experiment with some technologies that will help build the community around the blog. And lastly, and most importantly, Arsene is going to sign Lorik Cana and I will have 1.21 million hits on that day and can retire.

So, I’m inviting all of you to join me over at 7amkickoff.com tomorrow morning for our very first blog on my very own domain. Until then, if you’d like to share your favorite moment or your favorite article of the last two years, please do, I promise not to cry and take videos of it and put them on YouTube.

Promise.

Victoria Concordia Crescit.

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05
Jun
09

More fun with statistics, plus Arsenal in for another Toure?

He's ready for his close-up

Lies, damn lies, and Arsenal Stats

The blogoshpere is all atwitter (see what I did there?) about the dot com’s article detailing Arsenal’s supposed statistics.  Ahhhhh, I’m calling bullshiat on this.

I don’t trust statistics that are so obviously false. Denilson completed 164 passes all year? What the hell? Here’s a chalkboard showing that he completed 117 passes… in two games. 164 passes all year would equal less than 5 passes per game. Now I don’t know what kind of fools they take us for, but everyone knows that every Arsenal player completes more than 5 passes per game. Almunia probably completes more than 5 passes per game.

Or how about the stat that Song supposedly had only 17 tackles all season? Hmmm…. Here’s two games where he made 21 tackles and won 17 of them.

So, I have no idea what’s up with those stats, where they got them, who compiled them, how they were defined, or anything. I just know that they are utter garbage.

I mean, who would believe that Adebayor was offside only 43 times?

Lies, damn lies, and football economics

The other day I put up that “transfer anatomy” handout, you remember, the one with the little bit in the corner that shows how much teams have spent over summer transfers?

Right, well yesterday the folks who audit football clubs’ accounts released their findings of last year’s accounts and we got two major stories out of that research. First, Chelsea spent £172m just in wages in 2007. And second, the accountants found that Liverpool lost £43m during the 07/08 fiscal year.

These three things are related, I swear!

What this shows, to me, is that a club, that isn’t Chelsea, has to make a choice: they can either pay high wages, or they can spend a lot of money in the transfer window.  Which, in my mind, utterly destroys the simplistic “Arsenal need to spend” argument.

So, look at the first link there where you see that Tottenham spent £47m in transfers from 2004-2007. I’ve always wondered how they could afford to do that and still report profits, considering the much smaller fan base than Arsenal, the fact that they don’t have a billionaire owner, no European football, and they have a mediocre sized stadium and don’t charge much for tickets. They can afford to do that because they basically pay half the salary that Arsenal pay. Arsenal paid £100m in salary in 2007 and Tottenham paid £50m.

Now, ignore Chelsea and Man U — they spend what they want irregardless common sense, I mean Chelsea is coming close to £1bn* spent over the last 6 years.

A BILLION.

POUNDS.

So, ignore them, they are a reality distorting black hole of a cunt.

Instead look at Liverpool and you can see a serious problem. Liverpool have spent nearly £100m in salary every year and nearly £90m in the transfer market. The other lode stone is that they have a £300m debt that Hicks and Gillette piled on the team when they bought Liverpool.

The point here is that Arsenal and Liverpool have a very similar financial situation; both clubs have large debts (albeit for different reasons), both clubs have large wage structures, and yet Arsenal have saved money every year and Liverpool have borrowed and spent.

And now, the crows are coming home to roost and Liverpool’s debt is due, evermore. I’m not suggesting that Liverpool won’t find someone foolish enough to become a partner with Hicks and Gillette and then they’ll fail. Instead, I see this as a test case. See, Man U has a huge line of credit that they can’t even make the interest payments on due, I believe, next year, and I think what happens here, this year, with Liverpool will be indicative of what will happen with Man U next year.

The second thing I’d like to take away from this is that yes Arsenal are being fiscally prudent by not spending large sums in the transfer market but what I wonder about is the huge wage bill. Who, exactly, are we paying all this money to? Sagna? Clichy? Almunia? Bendtner? Song? Denilson? Nasri? Walcott? Those are the majority of our starters there folks, and they must be making damn good money if our wage bill is £100m.  Furthermore, I have to wonder if any of these players would be willing to take a modest pay cut in order to bring in some more players? They all talk about bringing someone in, but I’ve never once heard them say “I’d take a pay cut if it would help, because I want to win a trophy for the fans.”

And the last thing I want to bring up is just how important Wenger is in all of this. Yes, he’s set this wage scale which is stifling our transfer ability but just the fact that for four years he’s kept Arsenal at a very, very high level of play, all the while helping to manage the books and keep Arsenal fiscally sound for the long term is, I think, going to go down in history as one of the all-time great managerial feats. Compare these 4 years to Rafa Benitez, who’s constant clamor for transfers makes me wonder if he won’t get lumped in with Hicks and Gillette as the three reasons why Liverpool’s future is so uncertain.

I think this gives us all a bit of perspective on why Arsenal spend the way they do and what is likely to happen this summer with transfers. Which is to say, very little. Given our history, what I’ve shown you of the finances,  and the fact that Wenger is increasing our wages yet again (I mean, van Persie did have 10 goals this season, that’s worth another £1m or so a year) I would expect there to be just a little left over in the kitty for transfers. In fact, selling before buying is very likely.

That said, what I’d like to see is the point where the board feel like they are comfortable with the amount of cash in the reserve (at last count over £100m) and they start spending some of these annual profits that you and I are generating for them.  Maybe this year is the year? All signs point to an even bigger windfall over last year, when they netted more than £20m in profits. We’ll have to wait and see, I guess.

Daily Transfer Rumors (The Poop Scoop)

Ah, I love the smell of last year’s rumors trotted out as this year’s signings! Supposively**, Arsenal are again interested in Udinese defender Christian Zapata, which is probably a bunch of crap considering that the player is both confirming and denying that Arsenal are after him.

Meanwhile, the perennial “Yaya to Arsenal” story has risen again.  The player himself has insisted, repeatedly, that he does not want to play for Arsenal. But that isn’t stopping the World’s Least Reliable Newspaper from printing quotes from Yaya saying

It’s true that it would be great to play for a big club with my brother,that would be fantastic but you never know.

Well, if the Sun is reporting it, it must be true.

Meanwhile, in the “Players who are not leaving or coming in” department, Stephane M’Bia is heavily linked to Everton now. I will update the Players Who Didn’t Sign For Arsenal page if there’s confirmation of him signing for Everton. Also, I want to be the first to break the shocking news report that Andrei Arshavin IS NOT re-signing with Zenit St. Racistburg, it turns out that he just likes practicing with his old teammates. This is really a remarkable story, it’s one of those X player is not signing for Y team stories but it’s at the level of ludicrisness that the only equivalent would be Science News printing a story like “Scientists refute the notion that the sky is brown.”

Finally, the Vermaelen saga drags on. I’m starting to think there might be some truth to this story and Vermaelen is the “commanding” center back that Wenger seeks.

Ahem…

That’s it for today, see you tomorrow!

*add up their wage bill at an average of £150m from 2004-2007 = £600m, then add in another £150m in transfers and you get £750m, so sue me if I add a bit of hyperbole.

** unlike irregardless, supposively is not a word

02
Jun
09

Barry going to City, SHOW ME THE MONEY!

No, not that Barry, the other Barry

Ugh… Not much actual Arsenal news this morning but there are a ton of stories about players who were supposedly Arsenal targets who are now headed elsewhere. Love the idea, hate the idea, or tepid about the idea, it’s looking increasingly like the Villa midfielder is not coming to Arsenal and is instead going to be paired with Robinho and a pack of other mercenaries trying to buy their way into Europe.

Make no mistake about it, this is about money. Reportedly, Villa have accepted a mere £12m bid for the player they famously refused to let go to Liverpool for £18m last season. Why? Because I suspect that City offered Barry a huge salary and he told Villa he wanted out. Reportedly, he’ll be getting a £60,000 a week raise which, even a team like Chelsea wouldn’t pay for a player like Barry. Face it, he’s the third or fourth best CM in the England national team, is that worth £5m a year?

No, this is about the money. A player who previously stated a desire to play in Europe as the reason for agitating to go to Liverpool is now signing for Manchester City. I hope he does sign for City, I don’t want scum like that at Arsenal. 

HAVE FUN BACKING UP STEPHEN IRELAND (and Tugay)!

Anatomy of a Transfer

Meanwhile, the chaps over at The Game have put together a lovely little graphic which does quite a job explaining how transfer deals are supposed to happen, and how they really happen. Yay. The real story in that graphic, though, is in the lower right hand corner, I’ll give you a second to find it…

OK

Look at Arsenal there at the top of the list, read across, yes, you read that right, according to that graphic Arsenal have earned £5m if you total up all the summer transfer windows since 2004.  Interstingly, 2004 is the year that Chelsea spent £87m and won the league and it is the year that Arsenal last finished in the top two, which pretty much marks the beginning of the rebuilding phase that we have been in. Interesting, but looking down the list, a few other things stand out.

First, no one, no one, has spent less in the last 4 years than Arsenal. The fact that we’re still in Europe and still turning massive profits is either a feat of incredible management or a huge shame (because if we spent more we could challenge for more trophies — theoretically) depending on which side of the debate you land. I tend toward the first, because all you need to do is look at the list, spending is not a guarantee of success. Tottenham have spent £50m, Sunderland £66m, and Wigan £10m, and their places on the league table haven’t really changed much over those 4 years. If anything, Sunderland’s gotten worse! So, I’m of the mind that it is a feat of amazing management by Arsene Wenger.

Second, that said, sometimes a big bump in spending can get a club over a hump. Chelsea spent £87m and went on to win two league titles, the FA Cup, Carling Cups, some Charity Shields (the most self important of all trophies), a Gillingham Spelling Bee, and School Lunch Program Meal of the Week.  Similarly, Man U spent big back in 2007 and have netted back to back titles, an FA cup, the Carling Cup, a Club World Cup (aka, The Holy Grail), a Champions League, and the love and admiration of billions of fans the world over. My point is that sometimes a bump in spending can have a great effect; of course it has to be prudent and of course there are no guarantees of success (or Liverpool would have won the league by now) but sometimes, sometimes, spending can get results.

You have to buy the right players, you know, like Andrei Arshavin, but SOMETIMES SPENDING WORKS.

Ahem.  (Wenger are you listening?) 

Tony Adams in for Celtic?

I hear tell that Tony Adams is in line to manage Celtic! Well, good for him. It was a shame to see him drubbed out of Pompey after Harry raped the team and left them for dead. Managing a big club, from the start of the season, is exactly the kind of test that Adams need to see if he can go on to be a top four EPL manager one day.

Good luck Tony.

No one linked to Arsenal

Given Arsenal’s last 4 years of refusing to spend big, it’s starting to look like maybe the press are going to ignore us for a season. Sure, they kicked off the Summer Transfer window with a few stories, but those were all recycled  garbage from last year. Other than that I haven’t heard much.

There’s the Vermaelan story I reported on the last few days, Ajax defender and captain, cheapish, Belgian national team, etc. but I have a real hard time believing these stories when you read them at all closely. The one I linked above is probably the most reliable, because it merely mentions that Arsenal are selling Kolo Toure to Manchester City. Some of the other links out there talk about emergency board meetings, Gazidis smoothing things over with Wenger, and of course the oft touted and thoroughly disproved “Arsenal only have £13m to spend on transfers” story which all have Usmanov’s fat finger prints on them.

So, if you’re looking for a signing, I suppose you’ll just have to wait!

See you tomorrow…

29
May
09

Gooner of the Year; Andrei Arshavin

brrrrdtd dttd ttd tdt four goals at anfield

It wasn’t even close. 76% of you voted for Andrei Arshavin in the poll while Robin van Persie was a distant second at 58%. To put it another way, the difference between 5th place and 2nd place was just over 10%. It’s a comfortable win for the little Russian and here’s why.

First, he had to overcome the negative press that those racists at Zenit were spewing in order to make themselves look like the better party in this deal. They tried to make him look like the whiner, like the guy who had been given everything and that they just wanted a fair deal out of it. But the truth was that they foolishly cup tied him in the Champions League, thus devaluing the player, and the fact that the Russian season doesn’t kick off until after the January transfer window meant that Arshavin wasn’t match fit, further devaluing the player in the January transfer window. When Andrei got to Arsenal he immediately gave an interview, where he showed off his impressive English skills, and set about dispelling all the rumors. He wanted to play for Arsenal.

Second, he had to overcome his lack of match fitness. I’m not saying the guy was 200 lbs or something, just that no matter how much you work out it’s not the same as actually playing and practicing at full speed. There was a brief moment where we all thought we might see him against Spurs, only 8 days after signing, but it wasn’t to be. He remained on the bench until Feb 21st, 2009, against Sunderland, perhaps you remember the day? I do.

Here he is, gooner of the year, as photographed by yours truly

Still it took him a few weeks to sort of settle in. The match against Fulham a week later, you could really see that the toll of the Premier League pace had gotten to him.

And then the little Russian went on a tear, scoring or setting up goals in 5 games in a row; WBA, Burnley, Blackburn, Hull, and Newcastle. As he gained fitness, Arsenal started reaping the benefits and the club started winning games. That’s when I think we all knew we had something special, because a fully fit Arshavin was truly something to behold.

Third, he had to overcome the physicality of the Premier League. Speaking of the Newcastle game, does anyone remember Steven Taylor’s vicious attack on Andrei? No?

After the game Andrei simply said “The style of play is hard but not vicious. It is not something that I am used to but I understand it perfectly – you can’t relax for a second.” He had taken his lumps and came up a better man for it.

Which brings us to the final obstacle that he had to overcome; Premier League defenses. Despite Man U’s blistering defeat in Rome, I still believe that in league play the English Premier League has the toughest defenses in the world. If you look at the top four defenses in the EPL, they concede less than a goal a game on average. So, scoring goals, against top clubs, in league play, is very hard. One player scoring two goals against a bottom club is pretty good, but one player scoring 4 goals, against a top club, on their patch, where they had only conceded 10 goals all season?

No way.

Yes way.

I’m not going to put all four goals here, because one stands out as extra special and I don’t want it lost in the shuffle. It’s the type of goal that only the top, top class players take. It’s the type of goal that Gooners of the Year make.

So, for overcoming all those obstacles, for playing beautifully, for scoring wonder goals, and for putting us on your back and securing fourth place, Andrei Arshavin, you are our Gooner of the Year.

Transfer Rumors

My one observant reader will notice that I have put a third page on my masthead, entitled “Players Who Didn’t Sign for Arsenal” it’s my little tongue in cheek look at all the guys that get linked to the club, that the press go gaga over, and who sign elsewhere. Today, we can add one name to that list, some Jerkoff from St. Racistberg, who signed for Chelsea. I’m hapy for them both.

Future additions to the list could be:

Gareth Barry apparently wants to come to Arsenal… for £12m. I would pay £12m for Gareth Barry. I would pay probably £20m for him, just because his passport is that all important shade of Claret that makes xenophobes like Platini and Bleater get all tingly inside. Of course, this has about as much chance of happening as I do of having sex with Christina Hendricks, but hey, a man can dream.

Supposedly, Arsenal are also targeting a striker from Bordeaux named Chamakh. You really have to check out this link, his “highlight” reel is absolutely comical. It’s two videos showing a few dozen missed goals and like one decent chip shot. A striker who misses bags of chances? Rarely do we see Arsenal linked with a man who is so truly ready to jump right into the first team.

Since Brede Hangeland is making noises that he’s going to stay at Fulham and fulfil his life’s ambition of being a second rate defender, the press have turned their attention to Ajax captain Thomas Vermaelen.  Hey, he’s a defender, which is a refreshing change from all the stories linking us to strikers…

and wingers like Marat Izmailov. Signing Arshavin from Zenit seems to have had the knock on effect of getting the press to link us to every Tom, Dick, and Ivan in Russia.

And last, but not least, someone went back into their tickle file and pulled out the name “Mbia.” He’s over 6′ tall, plays as a holding midfielder, and has been linked with Arsenal in the past, practically begging to come to Arsenal in the January transfer window. But, my favorite aspect of this rumor is that when you google “mbia” you get some kind of Municipal Bond Insurance Agency. 

Also, no way.

17
May
09

Women Drivers, Giant Skivers, and War chest Connivers

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

Badge kisser.

Back in August, during a meaningless Arsenal v. Real Madrid match, following on the heels of a summer of seemingly schizophrenic interviews by Arsenal’s then 30 goal scoring target man, Adebayor scored a meaningless goal and promptly ran over to the fans and kissed the badge. Of course, they booed him.

At the time, linked above, I wrote that Adebayor was acting like a jilted lover.  I really thought that the big fella just wanted to be loved. He didn’t get why Arsenal fans would boo him after last summer; in his mind he loved us, he was just doing what he needed to do to get an upgrade to his contract, and now that he’d bagged Beyonce he wanted us back. The thing he didn’t understand is that a lot of Arsenal fans would never forgive him for sleeping around.

And now, he gives an interview that in essence expresses how much he’s hurt that the fans that loved him no longer love him.

I bet it hurts.

I know a lot of people who supported Ade even after the summer debacle only to watch him slowly go downhill all season, put in lazy performances, and slowly erode any fanbase that he might have once had. Like the jilted lover, he just kept spiraling down, deeper into his shell, and became more and more listless. This in turn engendered more and more ire from the fans, and has culminated in the insane interview above.

Like I’ve said before, I was there when Ade scored his first ever home goal, back in March 2006 and so I’ve always felt a bit of a special connection to Adebayor. But if his relationship with Arsenal fans was complicated before, given the interview above, the season we just witnessed, and last summer’s transfer saga, he has managed to simplify that relationship and I doubt there are many left in his fan club.

I know he has one less in me.

Damn Women Drivers

There’s a bit of a bombshell over at The Mail where Martin Samuel interviewed Andrei Arshavin and he.. uh… said some stuff. No, I don’t mean his clear adoration of Barcelona. Nor do I mean his opinion that Arsenal need to buy two players, everyone says that. I mean his disgusting and Neanderthal views on women.

I would never give driving lessons to women. We need to build new roads for them. Why? Because you never know what to expect from a woman on the road. If you see a car behaving weirdly, swerving and doing strange things, before you see the driver you know it is a woman. It is always a woman.

I mean come on! Everyone knows that it’s not always a woman, it’s always a woman ON A CELL PHONE.

(I’m kidding, I love women… to do the dishes, to clean up my room… I’M KIDDING, I REALLY DO LOVE WOMEN.)

How much is in the war chest? As much as Arsene wants.

You will see a lot of stories about how much, or how little, money Arsenal have to spend this summer. I suggest you ignore them all, and just let Arsene handle it, because Arsenal have plenty of money, if they want to spend it. The stories about how Arsenal are skint are nothing more than a vain attempt to sell papers.

Ive been over this ground before but since it seems to come up in every thread I thought I might just remind everyone about the official Arsenal financial reports.  Read them for yourself, start with the 2008 report linked above and work your way back. You will see that Arsenal are basically a profit making machine, earning roughly £30m a year (AFTER tax) every year for the last three (since the new stadium). This annual profitability has left them with a £93m cash reserve.

Now, add in that the half-yearly financials that were released this spring, which showed a £24m pre-tax profit. And add in the fact that Arsenal made it to the semi-final of one of the most profitable Champions League campaigns ever, and the semi-final of the FA cup and I suspect that profits will break the £40m mark this year.

It’s astonishing really.

That money is the reason the board insisted that they don’t care if they miss the Champions League. That money is the reason that Usmanov’s bull about owners paying down the debt is a ruse.

Money is there, and after we sell Adebayor for £10m (that’s a joke, kids) there will be more than enough to buy some big, unheard-of, defender and another central midfielder.

So, can we put this tired story about Arsenal being skint to bed? And could someone please restart the Xavi Alonso to Arsenal rumor?  I like that story.

16
May
09

Man U 0-0 Arsenal; the Good, Bad, and Ugly

Match Reports

ESPNSoccernet: Title in the bag

Telegraph: Carlos Tevez seemingly waved goodbye to Old Trafford as Manchester United claimed their 18th league title with an uneventful 0-0 draw at home to Arsenal.

Man of the Match

This is a tough one because all the players played so well. I was so proud of the way the team played and it was a a bit of a consolation to see the looks on the Man U fans faces as they prayed for a 0-0 draw.

That said, some of the guys were just exceptional. Song as a center back was a particularly bright spot and it speaks volumes of how far the player has come that he looks more assured in defence than some of the more geriatric players. Cesc too looked far better in his more traditional reserved role, paired with Denilson. Denilson too sort of reprised his role from the start of the season — where his bright play had people saying that maybe Arsenal didn’t need a partner for Cesc.

Only one guy can win MotM, and for me (and Setanta!), it was Andrei Arshavin. His crosses, passing, vision, touch, and dribbling were all top class. Arsenal had 4 shots on goal and most of those came from Arshavin threatening Man U’s defense and picking out an Arsenal player or taking on Man U for a shot himself.

I can’t wait to see him fully fit, with a pre-season of practice, playing with a full compliment of world class strikers like Eduardo and van Persie. If these 6 months have shown us anything it’s that the Arsenal attack will be crazy potent with the diminutive Russian pulling the strings up front.

The Good

I loved that one at a time the Arsenal players took turns kicking Evra. I didn’t write about it at the time, but after the loss to United in the Champions League Evra was quoted calling Arsenal “babies.” Like I’ve said before, people who are hyper competitive don’t stand for that kind of stuff and it was good to see some of Arsenal’s players kick him a little. Nothing too dirty, this wasn’t a Joey Barton assault, just little nips here and there.

As I’ve said already, though it can’t be said enough, I was dead proud of the way that team played today. They bossed the champions around, moving the ball nearly at will, defending strong, and taking the game to United… on their home ground… with nothing to play for but pride.

After, the boss put it like this

I believe we played with a lot of heart and desire. When we played in the Champions League I think we were inhibited a bit by the occasion – it was too big perhaps – and in the second leg we had no chance to play the game. Today we showed we have the quality. We played a lot of authority on the pitch.

I would agree, and just add that with a touch more quality Arsenal would have won that match. But think about it… Arsenal took 4 points off Man U this season. Who else can say that?

Exactly.

The Bad

Referee Mike Dean was a disgrace, handing Arsenal 5 yellows for ticky-tack fouls and giving none to United when they committed the same. It was a typical performance from a referee who is scared to make calls against United.

The only thing that prevented his performance from dropping into The Ugly was that he never had the opportunity to award United the penalty he so clearly wanted to give them.

The Ugly

Well, it’s never nice to have to watch your opponent celebrate winning silverware. I hope the image of that burns into each and every Arsenal player’s mind and they come out next year hungrier than ever.

Conclusion

T-minus 1 match before the flurry of reports linking us to so-and-so start flying around. I can’t wait. [eye roll]

See you tomorrow.

12
May
09

There are Dixon the British Press.

Arsenal are down, no doubt, but to listen to the press portray it we are damn near suicidal, or in some cases outright suicidal. I’ve listened to the actual interviews from which most of these doom and gloom reports emanate and I’m not buying it. Take a phrase out of context, plaster it across the top with huge font and sit back and wait for the predictably irate reactions.

Muckrakers at best.

That said, I’ve figured out what this year’s “Copy and Paste Quotes of the Season” are going to be, feel free to use ad nauseum:

Arsenal have not won a trophy for four years

Arsenal lack a holding midfielder

Arsenal need to strengthen their spine

Arsenal need to loosen their purse strings

Also, feel free to add more in the comments, I always need fresh copy. Sorry but I’m not buying any of those “analysis” of this season.

Andrei “baffled” by Arsene

I’m baffled about this myself. Not where Andrei is playing but by how a self respecting journalist could take this quote

My personal plan for my initial three months with Arsenal wasn’t about scoring a certain number of goals or making a set number of assists, I wanted to get the feeling whether I can play in England or not. Sometimes I feel that I can but other times that I don’t. It’s probably because that I play as a left midfielder. I still can’t get used to the idea that I’m capable of playing on the left of midfield – and frankly having to do it keeps me baffled. I don’t understand if it’s only because God is taking care of me, or I really can play so well as a left-winger.

and make this headline: ‘Baffled’ Arshavin hits out at Wenger as troubles mount for the Gunners.

Is he really taking the piss out of Wenger there or is he being misquoted because of his strange choice of vocabulary? Baffled or surprised? I read that as he’s “surprised” that he can not only play in England, but that he is also capable of shouldering some of the defensive responsibilities requisite a midfielder in one of the most physical leagues in the world. Clearly Richard Bright and “SPORTSMAIL REPORTER” above see that quote as proof that Arshavin is upset at playing in midfield and ready to leave Arsenal or whatever else they want to make up.

Don’t act so Petit

“WENGER NEEDS TO CHANGE, says Petit” screams the headline by Setanta’s Captain shiat-stirrer Laurent Picard, but the actual Petit quote is more nuanced, more intelligent than Captain Picard would have us believe.

Arsenal have not won anything in four years [eye roll, ed.]. Everything was done to bring together a young team and make it progress step by step, after Henry’s departure. But, at the end of the day, the transition did not work out.

Arsene is extremely intelligent, he is a visionary. I am not saying that he should change his ways, [emph. added] but if he made slight changes and managed to find a compromise between youth and experience, like Manchester and every dominant team in Europe do, he would find the right mix.

But it means spending more money [eye roll, ed].

Arsenal have their own touch: moving football towards goal. But they reach their limit when they are playing against a team that plays like them and with the physical impact that Arsenal do not have.

Petit is actually saying that Arsenal tried something, it’s fallen a bit flat, and now they need to make some slight changes. Is that really the same as the absolutist headline “Wenger needs to change?” And do we really need Mister Petit to say two of the four Copy and Paste analysis of this season?

Don’t Dixon me, man

Dixon’s assessment of the Chelsea game is a bit strange to say the least. The graphic in the middle of the page clearly shows Nasri at fault for the Anelka goal, and Dixon even singles Nasri out for an over-the-top ball against Everton as well. Moreover, this blog has mentioned severally that Nasri is often culpable for not tracking back and getting involved in the defense the way he should. Add in the known problems that Theo has shouldering his defensive responsibilities and I think there is a well established problem of defensive rotation with certain players

So, how does that translate to “Arsenal lack a holding midfielder?” Bring back a 25 year old Patrick Vieira and he still wouldn’t have broken up that Anelka run, because he cannot be everywhere at once.  And as Dixon points out (in his annoying staccato style) “He [Vieira] made runs forward but when he did you could guarantee Emmanuel Petit would stay there and cover him.”

Right… in the past, Arsenal rotated more effectively.

Which is a coaching problem, as frequent commenter caribkid points out. I have no doubt that Nasri could learn to defend better, but he needs someone there to teach him that and to take the utter piss out of him when he doesn’t.

Buying another holding midfielder does not solve that problem, in fact, it could exacerbate the problems. With Essien behind him players like Nasri might feel like they never have to track back.

Moreover, and this is really, really crucial in my mind, Dixon does say something that I whole-heartedly agree with:

You need someone to break things up; someone with a bit of intelligence who knows where to be in that area, when to push forward, when to support and when to drag someone back.

Vieira was brilliant at that. If he felt exposed he would get hold of someone and get them to help him. [emph. added]

Arsenal need leadership! YES! I’ve been saying this all year, but that’s not what gets copy “Arsenal need to buy” gets copy. The crucial difference between my interpretation and Dixon’s is that he thinks that leadership must come from that defensive midfield spot and given Song’s lack of experience, Arsenal then must buy in order to fill the leadership void.  Fair enough, but I disagree.

I feel like it should come from the more experienced players on the team, players who have over 200 matches under their belts, players like Cesc.

Criticizing Cesc is somehow off the table, and that’s a real shame, because the captain of the team should take responsibility when his team is not playing well. If the team is lacking defensive rotation and understanding of when to attack and when not, is that the responsibility of Alex Song, or is that the responsibility of El Capitan?

Even crazier, Cesc played that position for years and yet still there’s a distinct lack of understanding on this team of how to play that position. How we can take anything away from a player like Song who has literally DOZENS of games under his belt and who has come along so brilliantly this season, while simultaneously leapfrogging over the obvious fact that the captain and one of the most experienced players on the team basically took this season off, is baffling to me.

And I mean baffling in the sense of “baffling” as in “are they so stuck on their Copy and Paste analysis of the team that the only solution is Arsenal must buy?”

Yes, buying another holding midfielder is important. Buying at least one center back is important as well. These players will challenge each other for places on the team and improve our overall quality while increasing the bench depth.

BUT

More crucially, the coaching staff and team leaders need to look at themselves. I said it before and I’ll say it again: Fabregas should not have been allowed to go on vacation after his injury. The fact that he was allowed to go, that he wanted to go, and that he publicly said that he didn’t care about football anymore undermined everything that this team was supposedly building with his appointment to the captaincy.

And all those players that the Dixon’s this world want to replace floundered under the lack of guidance and insight from the team’s most experienced midfielder and captain… and, ultimately, the manager.

Never fear, McFunk is here

I’m not worried, though. I’ve watched the interviews and I think Wenger knows what went wrong. I think Wenger is pissed about the fact that he put so much faith in some of these players and that they let him down. And I think we may see a bit of the old, ruthless, Wenger reappear. We’ll have to wait until after Arsenal’s second vacation, some time around July, to see which Wenger we are going to get: the one hungry to win a trophy or the one willing to grease the squeaky wheels.

I have faith it will be the former.




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