Archive for the 'Arsenal Takeover' Category

03
May
09

Pompey 0-3 Arsenal; it’s a News News News News of the World

Match Reports

News of the World: Nicklas Bendtner fires up the Young Gunners

Match Video

I would link to News of the World, they claim to be #1 for video, but territorial restrictions prevent us Americans from seeing their video.  As it turns out the only videos I can watch on their site are videos of scantily clad women. Go figure.

Man of the Match

Aaron Ramsey… I KEED, I KEED! Arshavin was brilliant in the roles that Cesc is currently playing on the team; as captain and as the player “in the hole” behind the strikers. I’m not taking anything away from Cesc, but Arshavin showed everyone how that position was supposed to be played yesterday. Everytime I watch him play he impresses me more, his long passes, his short passes, his vision, his understanding of the game, his shooting, his dribbling, basically he’s the complete player.

Basically, Arsenal sold Hleb, who scored a grand total of 7 league goals for Arsenal and who demanded to be played in the spot that Arshavin occupied yesterday for £12m and used that money to buy an actual football player.

The Good

Bendtner scored… Arsenal kept a clean sheet… undefeated now 21 in a row… 4th place secured… 3rd place still within reach… no one was injured… it was a good day!

YAY!

The Bad

Everyone is hailing Ramsey as having a great game but the stats just don’t add up: he only won 1 challenge all day and his passing percentage was below average for an Arsenal central midfielder. In addition, I felt like Wenger subbed him out because by the 60th minute he was looking jaded. Yes, he’s young and he certainly shows flashed of brilliance, but yesterday was not his best game.

Also, Pompey should have gotten at least one goal.

The Ugly

Real Madrid were mauled by Barcelona yesterday and promptly made Arsene Wenger a huge offer, according to News of the World. Also according to NotW, Wenger promptly told them to piss off. This isn’t a surprise because Wenger is under contract and has said time and again that he will honor his contract.

Injury Report

No new injury news, Arsene Wenger is saying that Robin van Persie is a late test for Tuesday but that if he’s not 100% fit, he won’t be played.

We don’t know if Van Persie will be available, if he is 100 per cent fit he has a very good chance, if he is not he will not play in a game of that stature, that is for sure.

That’s a bit of a strange thing to say. I mean, it’s not like we’ll have anything left to play for if we don’t win on Tuesday. Moreover, we need to win 2-0 to go through outright so scoring is crucial. So I can’t see the logic of reserving one of Arsenal’s most prolific scorers, unless the player doesn’t want to play, or… if maybe you think you’ll have to remove him too early.

The rest of the team remains as reported on Friday: Gallas, Dudu and Rosicky are out for the season, Clichy is out for several more weeks (read “the rest of the season unless we play in the Champions League final”), and Silvestre is “short” for Tuesday with a groin pull.

So that’s about it for today, see you tomorrow.

P.S. Newcuntsle lost to Liverpool and are now pretty much assured of going down. I feel bad for the supporters but that’s what you get when you have a team with more criminals and lawbreakers that the Bush administration.

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18
Feb
09

I’m leaving on a jet plane…

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Well, this is it, I leave for the mecca here in a little over 12 hours. The bag is all packed, I’m well rested (read not hungover) and I’m going to head in to work to tie up a few loose ends, get in a workout, drive to the airport, and then sit around for 4 hours waiting for the plane to take off. 17 hours later, if all things go as planned, I’ll be in London, enjoying the fresh air, drizzly rain, insane drivers, and a pint of my favorite real ale.

One administrative note, I typically publish the blog around 7am PST (3pm GMT) so due to the time difference and length of flight, tube to London, checkin time, and the fact that I’ll be drinking straight away,  means I probably won’t publish a blog tomorrow. I’ll try, but no guarantees and if I do it will be a late blog. In fact, my American reader will get the blog “late” every day, my English reader early, and my Asian reader — well, I’d need to do a combination function and complete the square to figure out what time he will get the post. Gods only know what time my Antipodean reader gets these things, it’s like 3 days time difference down there isn’t it? And if you flush time down the toilet it actually goes the wrong way or something. The point is that after this post, things are going to change for a few days.

Right, on to the news!

My loyal reader knows that I never link to articles from The World’s Least Reliable News Source (The Sun). I don’t care if they fit my world view at the moment or not, that paper is scum and I won’t even give them the pleasure of the few paltry hits I generate. Anyway, they are reporting that they got an exclusive interview with Eduardo and that he’s still waiting for an apology directly from Martin Taylor over the incident at Birmingham. Taylor, to his credit, has somehow managed to avoid giving the apology and has even found time in his busy schedule as a father of three/university student/footballer to give a rather long interview to the press about how bad it’s been, for him, over the last year.

Get f*cked, Taylor. If you want to apologize, I’m sure Arsenal will arrange a public or private meeting with Eduardo — your choice. Irregardless, whatever you do, shut.thef*ck.up. No one, NO ONE, wants to hear your sob story. You’re not a hero to anyone. The best thing you could do with your life is apologize in person, like a man, and then refuse to comment on the issue ever again.

Jesus.

The other big story is, of course, THE IMPENDING DOOM OF THE CLUB WHEN USMANOV TAKES OVER!!!

I just want to point out a couple of things here. First, yes, Usmanov is not the type of person I want associated with the team. At all. I wish he never bought shares in the club, but since they are on the open market there’s little we can do about that.

Second, the fact that this is happening at all is simply a function of the amount of money Arsenal are currently worth. The board instability, the fact that this guy is coming out of nowhere and gobbling up shares, the fact that David Dein sold his shares, etc., all of it is about money. Arsenal went from a club worth several million dollars to a club worth several billion dollars. Moreover, Arsenal’s growth and profits have been extraordinarily stable over the last 10 years. If you throw in the fact that Arsenal is the only club in the Premier League who have positive cash flow and a bright future filled with young stars like Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey, you have to say that in times of financial instability like now, Arsenal look like a great place to stash some of your fortune.

Which brings me to the last point: I don’t think that Usmanov wants anything but profit from the team, basically, I firmly believe that Usmanov is a tick. He’s going to hitch a ride, drain a little blood (he’ll probably ask for dividends soon) from the club, and right before he bursts (when he feels the stock price has reached it’s zenith) he’ll drop off and we’ll never see him again.

No one likes ticks, they are gross and carry disease (I got syphilis from a tick, I swear it was tick, or maybe the toilet seat) but at least they aren’t a pack of c*nts who know nothing about football and want to treat the club as if it was their life-size version of Football Manager — or worse, the Abramovich model of turning the club into a piggy bank.

Don’t get me wrong, he’s going to be damaging to the club. With 25% of the shares he now has the ability to interfere with board decisions, make demands (like dividends), and generally be a nuisance but the one thing we can count on is that The Tick (as he shall henceforth be known) doesn’t want to kill the host. It’s worth too much money to him to keep us alive and ticking over. The last thing he wants is fan unrest, team unrest, and Arsene unrest (it would drive down the value of his stock) so he’s going to do small things to extract profit rather than big things that destroy the club.

No one wants a tick on them, but at least he’s not likely to saddle the club with $1.5 BILLION in debt which in a few years will just break the club. So, while it’s gross that he’s burrowing in, it’s hardly financial Armageddon. By all means, let his holding company know that we don’t want a tick on us, that he’s gross, but let’s not freak out over the deal. I’m saving the freak out for when I find out he gave us Lupus.

Now I feel like I need a shower and someone to check me for ticks.

Oh hey, one last thing… I saw this video of the latest “Next Zidane” and thought you all might get a kick (HA!) out of it. He’s only 6 but word on the street is that he’ll be making his Arsenal debut on Saturday.

Ok, now I’m off, wish me luck and I’ll see you all tomorrow (morning, afternoon, mid-day, in a fortnight).

01
Feb
09

A Pair of DD’s: a Dour Draw and David Dein

Eboue comes down with another of his mystery injuries.

Match Reports

ESPNSoccernet: Arsenal’s title bid suffers fatal blow

Telegraph: Arsenal bereft of ideas as West Ham’s run continues

Quote of the day

We will finish above Aston Villa. I’ve nothing against O’Neill. But you ask me who will be Manager of the Year and you have to wait until the end of the year. Villa have played well until now. But you judge a marathon at the end. No one remembers who was leading after 20 miles. — Arsene Wenger, at the Friday press conference assuring everyone of Arsenal’s quality.

The Valtrex

Glossing over an obviously flawed Arsenal squad, Diaby had his best game in the center of the park. He wasn’t a revelation or anything, but on a day when too few Arsenal players had anything to say about a stolid West Ham squad he did at least look lively in the middle of the park. Of course yesterday’s performance only hides the symptoms of this flailing Arsenal team and his stupid yellow card in the 23rd minute means that he will be suspended for the upcoming Spurs match; leaving a barren midfield bereft of one of their “best” players.

The clean sheet Arsenal kept also sort of glossed over the underlying problems on this team. West Ham was content sitting back the whole game and only foraged forward occasionally. So pardon me if I don’t get too excited by a team that kept a clean sheet off the opposition’s 2 (two) whole shots. Not shots on goal, TOTAL SHOTS.

But since there wasn’t much else to celebrate… yippie! a clean sheet!

The Genital Outbreak

It was hugely frustrating to sit there and watch as Villa get a draw, Wenger’s words about them dropping points ringing in my ears, and see the performance that some of these players put in.  I’m sorry, but far from championship quality (we saw that later in the day as ManU held Everton to a 1-0 win) Arsenal look a lot like their closest rivals, Villa. We’re going to have to hope for them to crack and for us to suddenly warm up if there’s any hope of us taking 4th this season.

Vela got a chance to come on and show what he’s made of when Arsenal’s clown (Eboue) when down with some injury that he’s no doubt already recovered from. Vela started well but I think we saw yesterday why Wenger doesn’t play him more; he’s too easy to nudge off the ball.

When Wenger brought Vela on he sort of pushed Bendtner wide, or at least that’s what everyone is saying. I didn’t see it that way, Bendtner was playing as a third striker since he never tracked back to play defense. In fact, according to his heat map, he basically never left the right corner of the pitch.

Not that Bendtner could have tracked back to play defense —  as the Liverpool supporter watching the game said “he’s garbage.” He’s not garbage, but neither is he a quality starting striker on a team pushing for a trophy.

Which makes me wonder why Bendtner got the start over van Persie? We’re not privy to the fitness tests that happen prior to the game nor am I in anywhere near the same league of intellect as Arsene Wenger, so I must assume that Wenger had a good reason for sitting the only player on this Arsenal team who A) seems to give two f*cks and B) has scored and created every single goal in the month of January for Arsenal.

As long as we start Bendtner and Adebayor as our strikers, we deserve a 0-0 draw.

Man, You Got Herpes on Your Face

In a lot of ways Adebayor epitomizes this Arsenal team. He’s hugely talented, having scored 11 goals and gotten 6 assists in all competitions this season. He’s also very important for the heart of the team, I’ve seen him be the only player on the pitch who even tries to win a game. So, it’s insanely frustrating to see him put in the performances he’s put in this week. In short, he’s inconsistent.

Yesterday he exhibited all the qualities that his detractors love to harp on; he was lazy and wasteful. Maybe he’s tired? I don’t know, I do know that all the goals he’s scored this season have been against bottom clubs. Far from “terrifying defenses” as he did last year, top clubs are handling him very well.

I wonder if a week off might not re-energize him and put some fire in his belly?

Conclusion

After the match, Arsene said

We lacked some creativity in the final third, the final pass and from some set pieces. They were very strong in defence I must say with James Collins and Matthew Upson and that’s why we couldn’t score.

I can’t fault the spirit but I believe as well that we lost a bit of sharpness from playing on Sunday at Cardiff, on Wednesday a very physical game at Everton and maybe that was why we lacked a bit of sharpness to score.

Yes, exactly why Arsenal should have signed 2 players in the break: to give us some sharpness, rest players who need it, and add creativity in the final third.

I am worried though since I think that Arsenal might not sign anyone. Not that we will miss out on 4th place, I think 4th place is well within grasps if Arsenal start ticking over. No, more worried that we might do something stupid, like rush Cesc, Eduardo, Theo, or Rosicky back and see one of them suffer an even more serious injury.

Whether we buy Arshavin or not (or even something more surprising like Alonso or Arteta) by-and-large Arsene needs to get the squad we currently have up for these games against our “lesser” opponents and, judging by the lackluster performance of Adebayor, he’s not doing his job. Come on Arsene, lets get the club back playing beautiful football, scoring goals, and striking terror in the hearts of our opponents, you can do it!

And finally, like a bad case of herpes, we had a David Dein outbreak yesterday as well. He doesn’t actually call for Arsenal to be sold to some billionaire but that’s exactly how all the headlines read and what we’ve all come to expect. Let me put this out before it becomes a house on fire: the reason this team is not buying is not down to lack of funds, it is down to lack of will on the part of the manager.

You might not like to hear that, but that’s the facts as far as I can discern them. With cash reserves currently at £93m (and only set to grow as our current Champions League campaign unfolds) the decision on whether or not to buy a player is not about a lack of funds. Hell, with those cash reserves, with our history, and with Arsene Wenger as boss Arsenal could have any player on the planet right now if they wanted him.

So, no sheik with tons of money, false hopes, and a copy of Football Manager in his back pocket is going to change Arsene Wenger. Well, actually, he would change Arsene Wenger; he’d have to get rid of him in order to build his little dream team. Because from what I can tell, Wenger is committed to this youth team project.

Besides, as I’ve argued here extensively, it’s not like the Chelsea/Liverpool model has produced much of a sustained challenge to Man U’s utter dominance either. Sure, Chelsea spent insane amounts of money to win 4 trophies and now look at them; uncertain about the future of the club as the owner looks to be backing out, stuck with bloated wages, aging stars, no youth prospects, and half a billion pounds of debt. I feel very strongly that this is Chelsea’s last year as an oligarch’s dream team.

So I say no to a sugar daddy: what this team needs is just a little more balance on the pitch, not a bigger balance in the bank.

19
Dec
08

Lady Nina Strikes Back

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Following on the heels of Peter Hill-Wood’s vanilla announcement about “board restructuring” yesterday, Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith has made a little statement of her own:

I’m in total shock and very upset about the appalling way I have been treated. The board have no manners whatsoever and my views were ignored on many occassions. I can’t understand why I have been removed in such a ruthless fashion. I have had no proper explanation as to why they wanted me out so much. It is very difficult to accept especially after what my family has done for Arsenal for so many years.

The board removed her and she doesn’t know why? I hardly believe that. What did they do, wait for her to go to the restroom and vote her off the board?

Quick Pete, Lady Nina’s in the loo, let’s vote her off the island!

No, this sounds more like someone posing as the injured party so that when she sells her shares she can make a statement about her heavy heart and how she disagrees with the way the company is being run and wants to spend more time with her family, etc. I could be wrong about this, she did say that she has no intention of selling, but it is a mysterious statement.

Whatever the motivation, the facts are that more shares now exist outside the board than inside with Usmanov and Lady Nina holding more of Arsenal than Stan Kroenke and Danny Fiszman.

Frankly, this makes the board look increasingly hostile and insular. They fired two board members in two years and took an awfully long time to appoint Gazidis as the replacement for David Dein, the first casualty in this boardroom battle. An insular, disconnected, and hostile board is very concerning. No one knows what they are really fighting over with speculation ranging from  selling shares to the appointment of  Gazidis but whatever the issue(s) lets hope they settle them quickly. The last thing this team needs is disarray off the pitch — they suffer enough on the pitch.

Wouldn’t it be funny if the board were fighting over new signings? Honestly, given the vociferous debate here, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least.

Champions League Draw

UEFA held their Champions League draw and Arsenal got paired with Roma. You’re going to have to forget about what happened last time Arsenal met Roma (4-2 on aggregate) because this Roma team is in top form. Roma have won 8 of their last 9 matches in all competitions, dispatching Chelsea 3-1 and Bordeaux 2-0 in the Champions League along the way.

This will be a hell of a clash and Arsenal will need to be in top form to move forward in this competition. But we knew that. This is the part of the tournament where every team is pretty damn good and some are downright frightening.

Transfers

Until the transfer window closes on February 2nd I will be keeping with my summer policy of not speculating or reporting on speculation. 99% of it is stupidity anyway, just look at what Valencia is asking for David Villa: £120m. Arsenal will never, ever, ever pay that much for any player, much less an overrated player like David Villa.

On a related note, this means I’m not going to be talking about whether Arsene should or shouldn’t “strengthen the squad” or any other Football Manager type of stuff. Frankly, it’s tiresome to hear the same things over and over and I’m sure you’re all tired of hearing me say the same things in response. I think we’ll all be happier if we stop arguing over who Wenger should buy, if he should buy, when the sky will fall, and all that pap until we see what actually happens this season.

I’m going to save it for the summer, when there isn’t any actual football to watch. You all feel free to argue away in the forums, I’m not participating.

Tomorrow there will be a preview of the Liverpool match. See you then.

18
Dec
08

Bracewell yourselfs, we’re headed into the maelstrom

We had now reached the summit of the loftiest crag. For some minutes the old man seemed too much exhausted to speak.

‘Not long ago,’ said he at length, ‘and I could have guided you on this route as well as the youngest of my sons; but, about three years past, there happened to me an event such as never happened before to mortal man — or, at least, such as no man ever survived to tell of — and the six hours of deadly terror which I then endured have broken me up body and soul. You suppose me a very old man — but I am not. It took less than a single day to change these hairs from a jetty black to white, to weaken my limbs, and to unstring my nerves, so that I tremble at the least exertion, and am frightened at a shadow. Do you know I can scarcely look over this little cliff without getting giddy?’  — E.A. Poe “A Decent into the Maelstrom

Huge news yesterday has many an Arsenal fan staring into the gaping maw of uncertainty. The first salvo was the sudden restructuring of the Arsenal board and the second shot came in the form of an interview with Arsene Wenger.

To the first, the facts are that Gazidis has joined the board as CEO, Richard Carr is stepping down from the Holding Company board but is staying on at the Football Club board, and Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith has resigned completely and immediately and is no longer a participant in the lockdown agreement.

Obviously, the only story here is Lady Nina resigning and subsequent breaking of the lockdown agreement. If you didn’t know, when Alisher Usmanov appeared on the scene and started buying up Arsenal shares the board instituted a lockdown agreement that basically gives board members the first right to buy any shares that any other board member wishes to sell. This agreement, it seems, was only a sort of a “paper tiger” in that the only teeth it had was that as long as you wanted to be a member of the board you couldn’t sell your shares. It prevented people, like David Dein, from siphoning off shares here and there for Usmanov but if someone was so inclined they could sell all or part of their shares — if they quit the board.

Which is exactly what Lady Nina just did.

Now, no shares have changed hands yet but I’d be shocked if she resigned from the board over a minor disagreement. Her family has a long and proud history at Arsenal and really the only reason to leave the board is to cash in on that history and cash in is exactly what she will do: in the 4 years that I have been following this story, Arsenal shares have gone from £1,500 a share to, reportedly, £10,000 a share. To put it another way, Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith owns 15.8% of a company worth somewhere around £800m or roughly speaking she’s got about £125m worth of Arsenal stock from her initial £20m investment. The temptation to cash in, especially now, must be very powerful indeed.

What happens next is a bit murky, Peter Hill-Wood indicates that some board members want to aquire more shares (Stan Kroenke) but it remains to be seen how much they are willing to pay for them and if they can match Usmanov’s offer — he has been known to pay well over value to get these shares. Also, if Usmanov buys just 5% of Lady Nina’s shares, he would be obliged to make a hostile takeover bid, which the current shareholders could just refuse but would still cause a major disruption.

Both Kroenke and Usmanov surely have taken a hit in the economic turmoil of the past few months so how much of their personal fortunes that they have left and want to risk on Arsenal is unknown. But the one thing that is certain is that if Usmanov does acquire a good portion of Lady Nina’s stocks he would want himself or a representative on the board. Not David Dein I don’t think, Usmanov has enough sense to know that that appointment would be pure poison. But there would be changes at the board level no doubt; Usmanov has publicly stated that Arsenal shares should pay dividends, for example.

At the same time that that Maelstrom was developing, Arsene Wenger was causing a stir of his own in giving an exclusive interview to a group of fans that was broadcast on the interwebz. Gunnerblog has a transcript of the interview and you should check it out if you have questions about Diaby, Denilson, Song, and whether Arsenal will be buying in January.

SPOILER ALERT ——————————————————————–

Wenger likes all of them and he won’t be buying in January.

The one thing that surprised me in the interview is how much he likes Alex Song. When asked who the most improved player has been of the season, he answered Song… Song and Djourou. Man, that’s a real shocker. I don’t know anyone who thinks Song is a good player — oh wait, except me!

My conclusion after reading Wenger’s interview is that he is fully prepared to drop out of the top 4, sure he wants to instill belief in this team that they could win something, but I think deep down he knows that they need more experience before they can win anything.

This is a rebuilding, folks, a rebuilding in Arsene Wenger’s image. He wants to build a youth team that will win trophies for several seasons, and is not going to risk that by bringing in someone in order to win a trophy this year. That doesn’t mean he won’t buy in January, but if he does, it will be a player for the future. And if this is a rebuilding in the image of Arsene Wenger, then I want to be the first to throw my support behind the man. Who better to lead this club through this economic and leadership turmoil than the greatest manager in the history of the club?

Of course, what future the club will have is up to a lady and a tramp. Will they drag us into the Maelstrom?




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