Archive for the 'Martin Taylor tackle on Eduardo' Category

20
May
09

He loves us, he really, really loves us!

I'm thinking of a mineral.

Arsene Wenger IS NOT leaving.

As I was perusing the morning news stories, feeling smug in my knowledge that Wenger was going no where, I tried to imagine what it would have been like if I woke up this morning and read a headline like… Wenger Releases Statement: I Need to Fulfil My Real Dream! and I could only come up with one word: Football Apocalypse.

Now, I realize that technically that’s two words but if you squash them together real close using negative kerning you get something like ‘footballapocalypse’ which pretty much sums up how I felt. I wondered if I’d even bother carrying on as an Arsenal blogger, I mean, what would be the point? Arsene Wenger is all I’ve known as an Arsenal supporter and to have him leave like that would be devastating.

Thankfully, we don’t have to worry about this until next year when some prat stands up at the shareholder’s meeting and suddenly thinks he’s talking to one of his mates at the pub and lets out some stream of stupidity. Then we get to do this all over again.

Just to recap what Arsene Wenger has done:

3 EPL Titles — the same number that Chelsea has had in their entire history
4 FA Cups — the same number that Chelsea has had in their entire history
4 Community Shields — one more than Chelsea has had in their entire history
Champions League Runners-up
UEFA Cup Runners-up

And this year he took a team of rag tag youths and half legged geriatric Suburbans and got them to the semi-final of the FA Cup and the Champions league. All the while spending about as much money as it would cost to feed the team at Denny’s.

Let’s face it, Arsene Wenger is the best thing that has ever happened to this club. Someone should throw a parade.

Eduardo Setback

The club released an official statement that Eduardo has had to have “simple revision surgery” on the ankle that Martin Taylor tried to destroy. Follow up surgeries are routine and I’m thinking this is a great time to do this. Yes, he’ll miss scoring a dozen world class goals for Croatia, but it means he’ll be back and 100% just in time for pre-season.

On to the important stuff

Thierry Henry is racing to be fit to face Man U in the finals and I’m rooting for him to be so well rested that he comes in, scores a hat trick, and finishes the game with a shot so thunderous that when it ricochets off the post it decapitates Rayne Looney, kneecaps Cronolda, and finds its final resting place in Sir Alex Ferguson’s nutsack.

I’ll be at Doyle’s, wearing my Thierry Henry Arsenal strip.

And one final little bit of news. It turns out some new fangled news aggregator has picked up the blog and I’m now getting 3 times the number of hits per day. I basically jumped from 1000 hits a day to 3000 hits a day. This means, of course, that my loyal readers will be seeing a lot of new comments in the comment jar from people who don’t really understand my sense of humor and haven’t been reading the blog very long.

Let’s all try to get along as best we can and remember that I love you all like children — which means that I love some of you more than others but I would never say which ones, publicly.

01
May
09

Friday Pre(i)sser

Bit of a different format today, owing to the deluge of news that always happens on a Friday so let’s get stuck in, shall we?

Injury Update

Eduardo and Silvestre are both out for Saturday. Dudu is being rumored to be out for the rest of the season with his  groin strain while Silvestre will be a late test for Tuesday. I had wondered why Eduardo was such a late sub on Wednesday and I think now it’s clear: he’s never really been fully fit since ‘recovering’ from Martin Taylor’s horrific tackle. And that makes sense. He needs time to get the tendons and muscles back into shape. More rehab, more light practice, rest, recovery, etc. I don’t know a single Gunner who isn’t proud of the courage that Dudu has shown this year and would gladly wait to see him fully fit at the start of next year. Get better Eduardo, we’ll wait.

Robin van Persie is another who’s going to have a late fitness test to see if he can play on Tuesday.  Either way, I doubt he’ll start and instead will need to reprise the super-sub role he played against Cardiff. I know, Man U are not Cardiff, but I mean get a goal, like he did against Cardiff.

Gallas and Rosicky remain out for the season, and the boss is now saying Clichy will be out for three weeks as well. That basically means that Arsenal are without Eduardo, Clichy, Gallas, and Rosicky for the rest of the season.

Fabregate

Cesc has spoken out about the FA charges against him saying that if he should be suspended then 8 others who came on the pitch should be similarly suspended. The FA responded by basically saying, it’s not that you came on the pitch it’s how you acted.

With that said, I am now confident that Fabregas will get a 3 match ban here, the same amount that Martin Taylor got for intentionally breaking Eduardo’s leg.

Because those two things are equivalent.

Maybe next time he should come out and break a player’s leg. At least then he’d deserve the ban.

Transfer News? In April?

The papers are all reporting that Wenger will sell Adebayor and buy Roque Santa Cruz.  The selling point in this story?

Wenger has been an admirer of the 27-year-old for some time. He had Santa Cruz scouted and is particularly impressed by the player’s work-rate after studying his ProZone statistics.

Well, Wenger is a lover of hard work, how do you think Bendtner keeps getting a shot?

Speak of the Devil

Bendtner is featured in this week’s free video on the dot com. A word of warning: clicking that link caused my browser (Firefox) to crash. Actually, that’s about what I’d expect, even Bendtner’s videos suck.

Almunia for England

And finally, the big story of the day is that Fabio Capello would not rule out Almunia should he get an English passport when he becomes eligible in July.  Legally and morally, I don’t see how he could exclude him.

First off, my name is Tim. I’m an American, and I’m a Gooner. I’ve been a Gooner now for 10 years. I’ve seen matches at Highbury and the Emirates and I fly every year to see my beloved Arsenal. I also support France in world competitions, rather than the U.S. team, because, well, because I want to. And so I think I have a bit of a unique perspective on this Almunia situation.

Whether Almunia wants to become an English citizen or not is about choices and not about birthplace. That’s just the way the world is today. The old days of nationalism are dying slowly and people now have more freedom than ever before to choose the country they want to naturalize in. Personally, I’d like to see it be even more open. I have never understood why capital could move freely from one country to another but people were restrained by quaint old notions of borders. So, if Almunia wants to become an English citizen and renounce his eligibility to play for Spain, knowing the stick he’s going to get from xenophobes and nationalists, then I say more power to him.

Moreover, the old notions of “identity” that surrounded certain things, like being a Gooner meant that you were probably from North London, have changed radically as well. Now, you have millions of Americans, Indians, Chinese, Africans, and Spanish devoted to following English teams and thus the identity of English clubs are no longer associated with place. When you have millions of Africans wearing Liverpool shirts and identifying with Steven Gerrard it both takes a bit away from that old identity as “scouser” and adds something new to their identity. Again, you can wring your hands about this, you can jump on the Platini xenophobe bandwagon, and you can scream about how your identity is being taken over by Yanks and the Africans. But unless you are willing to stop broadcasting English games around the globe and shrink the English game back into something provincial and small (something that will never win a world championship) then you’re going to have to deal with the fact that football is a global sport with a global following. And that means that clubs now have global identities. And more radically, that national teams now have global identities.

Other countries have already accepted this change and I have no doubt that Croatian fans love their Brazilian born striker.  It’s time for England to let go of the old, small way of looking at football and join the modern world. And time for fans to embrace their future England Number 1; Manuel Almunia.

Tomorrow’s Match

Right, so that’s it for today. Tomorrow’s match kicks off at 7am (PST) is being broadcast on FSC. I’ll try to do a quick update before kickoff and then do a liveblog of the match. If you’re into that sort of thing, join us here at about 6:30.

See you then!

14
Mar
09

‘Kolo, we’re going to win’

My co-workers make me sick, maDe, made, sorry about that. My co-workers made me sick by coming in to work while coughing up a lung. And now, I’m sitting here, unable to sleep, but tired, coughing up what little lungs I have left, high on nyQuil.

This will either be the best or worst blog. evar.

My two favorite quotes ahead of the match today are the one in the headline, spoken by Eduardo, and this gem from Wenger

To be professional is to do what it takes for your team to be successful, no more than that. It does not mean that you go to paradise together. (emph. added)

To the first, after an injured Eduardo missed his penalty, he came back to the group, clearly distraught and instead of the woe is me that we saw from Ronaldo last year in their penalty shoot out with slippy boots Chelsea, simply said “Kolo, we’re going to win.”

I’ve been calling for a leader to step up on this team and it looks like we finally have one; a man who overcame the horror of Martin Taylor’s lunge to step back on the pitch and face hundreds of Taylor’s and score on them with flair.

Guts, Dudu’s got guts and sometimes guts are enough.

I’m also quite liking this Toure renaissance. Yes he spoke out about his feud with Cappy and I don’t like that, but he didn’t reveal much and in fact said that what happens in the locker room stays in the locker room. It was exactly the kind of clear the air that was needed.

Now, he’s out here, geeing up the club with all this positive talk. I see a lesson there for us gloom and doomers and the folks who like to jump on us: in ‘Merica we say, you get more flies with honey than with vinegar. Never mind that I don’t like flies because flies means fly eggs and fly eggs mean maggots, which are gross.

(BRING IT HOME, NYQUIL)

The point is, we could all use a dose of positive thinking and certainly some of the signs are there so it’s really good to see our stand-in captain saying really positive things. Sort of shining sunshine on those of us who have been a bit negative  of late.

I have some maxims and one is that “In a leadership vacuum, leaders always emerge.” It looks like we’ve got a few leaders suddenly emerging, and that give me great hope.

And them of course, you have to have a laugh at Wenger’s quote. “Go to paradise together” what does that even mean? Screwing on top of a rainbow? Unicorns and ponies for everyone?

I don’t get it, is that a French-ism?

Maybe it’s the nyQuil, but for me it sort of conjures up Kolo and Gallas walking off into the sunset, hand in hand, bluebirds are tweeting nearby and unicorns look up from grazing in a field of poppies by a deep blue lake.

No wait… isn’t paradise Kolo and Cappy raising Ole Big Ears while streamers pop-off near by and Cesc drinks from a giant glass of champagne held up by Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott and the final score was 13-0 and everyone scored except Eboue who scored a hat trick and the press write about Arsenal’s “miracle season” and we all go off into the summer sun singing

“We love the Arsenal we do, we love the Arsenal we do, we love the Arsenal, we do, oh Arsenal we love you!”

In that case, I actually want Cappy and Kolo to go to paradise together.

Back in reality, Arsenal face Blackburn today and they will need all the positive imagery they can muster to overcome Sam’s lump and crunch football.

I’m imagining an early goal from Arshavin… that would be a mini paradise wouldn’t it?

13
Mar
09

Big Sam Hoodoo Has Actually Been Dead for Years

either that or he's checking his tonsils.

Good morning kickers, quick blog today because, well, because I feel like it.

Straight in with a two footed tackle to the shins, our opponents on Saturday (Blackburn, a pack of no talent hacks plus the greatest diver of all time) are talking shiat because they had a huge win over, erm, Fulham on Wednesday.

Half man-half shrew Stephen Warnock has sounded the alarm bells and said that they plan to run Arsenal off the pitch because both teams played on Wednesday but Arsenal played 30 minutes more than Blackburn and that means Blackburn have an advantage.

Yeah.

I just want to point out two things:

  1. No Sam Allardyce team has run Arsenal off the pitch in nearly 2.5 years (Nov. 2006).
  2. “You should have been in the dressing room after the game – it was like we’d just won the World Cup final. The atmosphere was brilliant.” — Theo Walcott talking about the team atmosphere after the Roma match.
  3. While Arsenal did play a bit more than Bolton, I mean Blackburn, they have better squad depth and Wenger’s rotation will see fresh, quality legs like Andrei Arsaviour coming in to the match.

Now, I know that that’s technically 3 things, but I think we can sort of conflate them into two things: Arsenal are on a three game win streak (Roma is a loss but you can’t tell me that’s not a win) and Blackburn can go f*ck themselves.

On the injury front, it turns out that Eduardo pulled his groin in the Roma match (which might account for his soft penalty) and is back out for a couple of weeks. Sad, but that’s how that works: it takes time to get your body used to playing at the top level after having your leg broken by Steven Taylor.

Who Wenger will play is up for debate, feel free to hash it out in the comments.

Finally, Diaby has said he doesn’t mind being dubbed the “new Vieira” despite looking nothing like him and playing no where near the same style of game. Yeah, sure, he’s the new Vieira. Kind of like “New Coke” was the new Coke and everyone hated it.

Actually, I like Diaby and he’s grown a bit in my estimation the last few matches. I kind of touched on this when spoke about how both Song and Denilson both seemed to play better with Diaby in there rather than each other. But look, it’s a string of three games, I’m not getting ahead of myself and hailing him as the new anything until I see some more consistency. That he says “What I must do is work as twice hard in order to improve” goes a long way toward raising my hopes that he will one day be the new Vieira. But for now, I’d settle for him just being the New Diaby.

Irregardless, the match is on Setanta tomorrow and the 3pm GMT kickoff is actually at 8am PST — remember, we should be GMT -8 but owing to the ridiculous fact that we start daylight savings early over here we are temporarily GMT -7, also, this is where I usually make a joke about how Bush ruined time for America.

I can’t make it down for the live match because I’m being a responsible father but I’ve asked Doyle’s if they can record the game for me. We’ll see, maybe I can get down there around noon and have a pint and watch the game. Drop me a note in the comments if you’re in the same boat for some reason.

Ashita Mañana.

18
Feb
09

I’m leaving on a jet plane…

fuzzy

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).

13
Feb
09

Happy Friday the 13th

Well, this is boring.

Ahead of the Cardiff match on Monday, Arsene Wenger gave his Friday press conference and completely failed to say anything provocative. Oh, he talked about Tony Adams (hire him please) and Phil Scolari and how William Gallas is a great professional (’tis true) but come on, give us something! Tell us that Cardiff are cheats or that Dudu is absolutely going to start or that Denilson is suddenly the best player on the planet, something.

I guess it’s not meant to be.

Here’s what we do know: Eduardo is not Eduardo, he’s someone else, someone who refers to himself in the third person. This confusion is giving Wenger pause over whether he can include him in the Cardiff match on Monday — the player is registered as “Eduardo” and no one is sure if “not quite Eduardo” is registered with the FA and thus allowed to play in the FA Cup rematch.

For me, “not quite Eduardo” is a lot better than “not at all Eduardo” so I’d play him, irregardless the rules. Watch, he’ll get “not quite a hat trick.”

Seriously though I’m not putting any expectations on the player and he’s asking us to be sure we don’t ask too much too soon. Fair enough, I hope he gets better and is able to come back. If not, he will always be fondly remembered. That said, I wish him Godspeed in the recovery, it’s an understatement to say we need him right now.

How’s that for the most ambivalent statement ever?

Something I’m not ambivalent about is being sick and tired of Diaby being in the recovery room, and just in time for Cardiff, he’s out with a thigh injury. Why can’t this player put together a string of, say, 15 games?  And what’s wrong with his thighs? Why is he constantly injuring his thighs? Maybe he should wear those American Football style thigh pads. Not that I think he’s great or anything but with all the other injuries to the midfield and after Rambo’s performance at the last match Diaby would have been a welcome pick in the midfield.

I can’t believe I just said that.

But seriously, we all know what’s going to happen. Wenger is going to pick Song and Rambo in the middle, Nasri wide left, and DENILSON WIDE RIGHT!!! Vela? No. Wilshere? No. It’s going to be Denilson. It’s not that I hate Denilson, I like the kid, hell he’s our best player (!) but he’s not a wide player. Maybe Arsene will suffer a blow to the head and play Vela or Wilshere wide right. I’m not going to hold my breath.

Now you see why I miss Diaby?

Ok, now that you’re thouroughly depressed, here’s a story about how Chelsea are still planning on being solvent by 2010 despite the fact that their annual losses are over £60m and their payroll is 70% of their turnover. I love the fact that they are still paying Jose Mourinho and that the figure above doesn’t inlcude the reported £15m they need to pay Scolari. Not long now, Goonahs, Chelsea will be in a major fiscal crisis and it will be 1 down, 3 to go.

That’s it, see you tomorrow.

12
Feb
09

Time to crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of the women.

Arsenal's new defensive midfielder

Good morning and thanks to everyone for the comments yesterday. I enjoyed reading all of your arguments for and memories of the beautiful game, no matter where it’s played. I’ll also admit that I watched a little of the USA – Mexico game and frankly there were some good moments so, maybe I was being a little harsh.

I’m still wary of what I see as the inherent nationalism of international football and I can guarantee you that I will never get up at 4am to watch an international game — well, maybe if France make it to the World Cup final and is rife with Arsenal players, maybe then I’ll get up and cheer them on. What is it the French cheer for their team? Allez?

I especially liked Craig’s description of me as a barbarian in tights. YES! That is pretty much how I play football, like a wild-eyed barbarian killing machine. Actually, some young kid who came to play with us called me a “caveman” because of my crazy hair so I’m torn between “caveman” and “barbarian.”

“Tim the Barbarian” hmmm….

Also, I do in fact have tights. They are called “long johns” here in America and it is customary to wear them when you’re playing football on frozen tundra. Enough about that, internationals are over and the last thing you want to hear about is some long haired caveman running around in tights — unless it’s a new defensive midfield signing for Arsenal.

Arsenal were kind enough to put together a list of all the international action that our squad faced and here’s my executive summary; none of the Arsenal players did anything outstanding except Eduardo. I can’t find anything that explains why Giovanni Dos Santos got a run out but Carlos Vela wasn’t even included in the Mexico team. From what I saw, Dos Santos showed why he can’t even make it into the starting lineup for a Championship bound club like Spurs. If you know why, please post in the comments.

Regardless, the big story was always going to be Eduardo. Even if he only played 10 minutes and just kind of trundled around on the pitch the story of Eduardo returning from Martin Taylor’s horror tackle was going to be headline news.  But Dudu did more than just make a cameo, he put in a half, in a tough game, and was able to set up the go ahead goal. Let’s not put too much pressure on the man but if he can do that on Monday against Cardiff I think all Arsenal supporters will breathe a huge sigh of relief.

After the match, Slaven Bilic warned us all not to get too excited:

It is extremely important that Dudu returned well and seemed to have no moments that caused him harm, he is good and healthy. It is clear that he is not yet in top form but with him we are far more dangerous.

With Adebayor’s slip in form last month (and now injury) Arsenal certainly need a little more danger. It’s the perfect time to get Dudu back even if he’s just playing at 80%.

Arsenal have Cardiff on Monday and a gang of us are going to be at Doyle’s since it’s President’s day. If you’re a local, come on down. After that, Arsenal face Sunderland and as most of you already know, I’ll be in London for the match. I’ve got to get cracking on the planning so if anyone has a suggestion of something to see/do let me know. I know this is crazy but I love pie (meat pie) so if you have a suggestion I’d love to hear it.

It’s a critical time of the season and after the Sunderland match Arsenal have Roma in the Champions League. Unfortunately, I’m not going to be in London for the Roma match next Tuesday — Arsenal could use a Barbarian to slay The Beast.

Oh, and one last thing, the Telegraph put together a list of the top 10 worst managers in EPL history and 50% of them have been Spurs. Suck it, Spuds!

Right, that’s it, see you all tomorrow — I’ve got to slay some snake people.

10
Feb
09

It’s a mad mad mad mad season

As if to punctuate the madness of this season both Tony Adams and Phil Scolari have been sacked by their respective teams, ostensibly for failure to perform but in reality because the braying of the supporters got to their respective owners and they chose the easy way out of a complicated problem.

In Pompey’s case you could make an argument that Adams probably wasn’t ready to manage a Premiership team. He hadn’t really distinguished himself at Wycombe and even under Harry he hadn’t really done anything to show that he should be a head coach. Simply put, he needed more time before he took over a team. But worse than just being a raw recruit to the job of management, Pompey promptly pulled the rug from under his team; selling Diarra and Defoe and then cutting the purse strings before Adams could  bring in anyone of any quality. It says a lot of the man that he stuck by the team after the owner basically told him he had to perform a miracle. In fact, it may be a flaw that he stuck by that team, by sticking around he let them make him a fall guy — you gotta have more spine than that to succeed as a manager in the Premiership.

Scolari, on the other hand, simply fell prey to the insanity of Roman Abramovich. Roman Abramovich has a hard-on for Arsenal. He saw how Arsenal went from middle of the pack club to perennial league champion challengers in the 1990’s and early 2000’s and wanted to replicate that form with Chelsea. If he pulled it off, just like Arsenal, the club’s value would skyrocket, he’d have a room full of trophies, and everyone would hail him as a genius. What he failed to see is that Arsenal didn’t buy their way into that status, they took the long, hard road to the top of the heap: hard work, dedication, hunger, a stellar youth program, a tremendous scouting network, all components of Arsenal that Roman abandoned for the quick fix of simply buying a few trophies. That’s a house of cards and as the cards got older and the winds of chage blew through London it had to collapse.

I’d feel bad for Scolari if he wasn’t 173 years old and about to receive a £15m payout for the honor of being sacked. I honestly don’t know what Roman expected to happen this season. That team was built by Jose Mourinho for one purpose; to play and win English football. They are not ever going to be able to play Arsenal style football when human refuse like Lampard and Mikel are patrolling the midfield. They aren’t beautiful footballers, they are the kind of players who will grind you down and get a win. To win trophies in England you need to have some (more than one, Arsene) English national team players and you need to be able to put in one goal and shut down your opponents with stiff defense. Jose knew that and he built a team to do exactly that. Paradoxically, to win things in Europe you need to play more like Arsenal than Chelsea — OR — be like Man U and be able to play in a variety of ways.

I don’t think Roman really understood that, so, his insistence on playing “beautiful football,” like his true love Arsenal do, led him to bring in Phil Scolari. As I pointed out a few weeks ago, Phil, Gods bless him, tried his best to emulate Arsenal — right down to the horizontal-passery-ball-holdery-bullshit that is currently plaguing Arsenal. This went over like a fart in church with the Chelsea faithful: if you think Arsenal fans are shrill crybabies who are insanely demanding of their club, you should check out the Chelsea folks — they are complete lunatics.

Hey Roman and Chelsea supporters, here’s a clue, you’re not going to sack your way to a Champions League trophy. In fact, you’re going to sack your way through all the good managers and leave yourself with no one wanting to take the job. Now that the transfer window is closed, and the crazy transfer money has dried up, the only reason I can see to take the reigns at Chelsea is to get that inevitable payout when Roman fires you in 6 months.

So, I feel a lot worse for Adams in this than Scolari if for no other reason than Adams is at the start of his coaching career and Scolari is at the end. Adams’ sacking could have a much more deleterious effect on his career than Scolari’s sacking will have on his. Plus, well, it’s nice to have Arsenal’s troubles out of the papers for a few days and see the Chelsea supporters squirm under the spotlight. I mean, Avram Grant is being linked to the club again for Christ’s sake!

But with Theo coming back by the end of the month (I was hoping to see him on the 21st, but it looks more like the 28th before he’ll be ready) and Eduardo getting a run out with Croatia on Wednesday Arsenal have two players coming back into the fold just in time for Arsenal to strip Chelsea of their Champions League place and seriously question the resolve of Mr. Abramovich and his band of Chelsea-come-lately supporters. Given all that and the sudden availability of Mr. Adams, maybe Arsenal should open the door to Tony?

He could hardly make our defense any worse and as I always say “defense wins Champions League places.”

That and, irregardless.

22
Jan
09

Forget Arshavin, Jack Wilshere is like a new signing! Plus, Eboue gets a new contract.

Animated GIF of Wilshere scoring a wonder goal.

Oh man, I had a good sleep in today: I hit the snooze button twice! So while I normally get up at 4:30, I got up at 5:30. I’m not complaining though, the reason I slept in was because I got up at 1:30 the day before to buy my match tickets for the Sunderland game. That’s right, yours truly is heading to balmy London for vacation — I wonder if I should pack a Speedo?

Anyway, you’re not here to hear about me in a Speedo (which is a magnificent sight) you’re here to hear about the latest transfer news amiright? Right.

Let’s see, Arshavin is praying to the God than isn’t his omnipotent agent that a deal will go through that takes him out of Russia. What are the stages of grief anyway? Doesn’t it go: bargaining, threatening, praying, and then acceptance? It better have acceptance in it somewhere because despite the one report that has Zenit going from the lead role in 300 to Monty Hall in saying “let’s make a deal” Arsenal are steadfast in their valuation with Peter Hill-Wood publicly saying that they have reached the limit they are going to spend. I have to think that the Zenit position is just there to save face. They know Andrei can buy out his contract in November, and so he has them over a barrel a little bit but not as much as many will claim.

First, he can’t go on strike. Well, he could, but if he did that then he might not qualify for a work permit in England (depending on national appearances). Second, he can buy out the remainder of his contract, but only in November and remember Zenit are a bunch of disgraceful human beings. I have no doubt that Zenit would keep Andrei in court for months while they haggle over his price. That’s the threat Arsenal used on Hleb. Plus, there’s still the summer transfer market to go through and I’m confident they could sell Arshavin in the summer for £10m. So they lose a few million, which brings me to my final point, so they lose a few million. HA! They don’t care. They don’t need the money. Make no mistake, this isn’t like Valencia and David Villa, where the club is over-pricing their superstar because they need the money. Zenit is doing this because, well, because they are a bunch of whackos.

In his little statement Peter Hill-Wood sounded a lot like a jilted lover by saying that there were “other fish in the sea” but the truth is that there are other fish; Fabio Simplicio could be a set up man to challenge Diaby/Denilson and Stéphane Sessegnon could be a good wing player to challenge Theo (when he comes back). Now, as for a hard man, well, as Mae West said “a hard man is good to find.” As soon as I find one I’ll let you know.

While we’re waiting for PHW to grab his fly rod and fish us a hard man (seriously, this is getting a little gay – ed.) we should celebrate “new signing” Eduardo and his first full 90 minutes of play. He still hasn’t scored (he had a goal disallowed for offside yesterday) but getting out there and playing for 90 minutes and giving yourself chances to score are huge, considering the damage that Taylor inflicted on him. The player feels ready to go out and play first team football, but I’d like to see him get a goal in reserves first. Sorry, but I’d hate to see him rushed back and something horrible happen.

The player who does seem ready for some first team football is Wilshere. Well, some folks are tipping him and after watching his audacious outside of the boot left footer (obviously in the GIF above) I’d be tempted to agree with them, except I kind of think Vela is ready-er and more naturally a wing player. Irregardless, I think we’ll see a bit of both players in the weeks to come, the squad is that thin.

By the way, I found that animated GIF over at Gunnerblog.

And finally, the most incredible story of the day award goes to… it’a a fight to the death! In the periwinkel blue corner, it turns out that City could have signed de Jong for £2.3m if they had just waited for his release clause to kick in this summer. Instead, they put up £19m to get him right now, incredible stuff.  In the red corner, Arsenal turned down an offer from Athletico Madrid for Eboue and instead are racing to give him an improved contract. Let me put this as diplomatically as I can; Eboue has not done anything this season to warrant a pay raise. Not one thing. He’s done his job, he’s done what he’s told to do, but I haven’t seen anything from him that warrants an improved contract.

Ok, that’s as diplomatic as I can be. In my heart I’m screaming “I don’t care how little it was, TAKE THE OFFER” but you probably already knew that.

Ok, so that’s it for today, we’ve got the Friday press conference ahead of Sunday’s game tomorrow where I’m sure Arsene will be all “we’ve bid what we can afford” and ” we live in the real world” and “this is a young team” and “Cardiff will be a tough match.” If he says anything new, I’ll be sure to report it.

Until then!

21
Jan
09

Arshavin deal off — what is Arsenal’s back up plan?

I'm pulling my hair out to Andrei

Gunnerblog is reporting that the Arshavin deal has essentially fallen through. Not that he needs any backing up, he’s usually very reliable with inside information, but the story is being picked up more widely and so I feel confident that the clubs have reached an impasse. Well, I say “the clubs have reached an impasse” but in reality Zenit has jerked Arsenal around.

We all knew what they were doing when they revealed to the world Arsenal’s bids; they were basically keeping us at the table, trying to drive up the cost of the player, while very publicly soliciting a higher bid from a club like City. Reputation be damned. Integrity — who needs it?  Zenit were going to squeeze every last penny out of this deal and they didn’t care who they used along the way.

Arsenal were pawns.

If you need any further proof that Arsenal were duped and used by these scumbag, lying, racists just witness this quote from an insider:

Arsenal don’t understand what is going on at all – no-one is answering their phone-calls or returning their faxes. What can Arsenal do? It is becoming clear that Zenit are totally nuts. Arsenal might wait one more day, possibly two, but Zenit seem to be football jokers.

In the civil world you don’t make someone wait a week before you return a fax, you don’t tell someone you’ll call them tomorrow and not do it.  Zenit don’t care about money, they just seem to have made up their minds not to sell. They have just been playing games, showing they’re tough.

I swear at any moment we’re going to find out that when the Arsenal negotiators got to the table the Zenit chairman was dressed in nothing but a red cape and leather skirt. And when Ivan Gazidis presented Arsenal’s reported £15m offer, the chairman wheeled on him, kicked him onto the floor and screamed “20! WE SAID 20!!!! THIS IS ZENIT!”

this-is-zenit1

If there is any good news to come out of this it’s that, erm… well… it’s that we get to go to Arsene Wenger’s back up plan!

Which is?

Mate Toth.

I really, really hope this is true. I’ve been following Mate Toth now for, erm, 6 minutes, and he is the best defender I’ve never seen. On a related note, I think that squad number 91 is available which just happens to be the year Mate Toth was born.

What do you think he’ll put on his shirt? Mate? Toth? I’m really hoping he picks Mate, because if he picks Mate the jokes could go forever, mate.

Defensive Mid/Holding Mid/Box-to-box Mid, whatever, let’s get one!

I’ve noticed that lately, box-to-box, defensive, holding, whatever-you-call-them-midfielders have become very expensive: Spurs just paid £14m for Wilson Palacios, Mascherano cost ‘Pool £19m, Felliani cost Everton £15m, and Diarra went for £20m.

Even if you take into account the inflationary costs that Spurs typically pay for players (£31m for bench players Bent and Bentley, selling Defoe for £10 and buying him back for £15, etc, etc.) these latest transfer figures show that a solid central midfielder is going to cost at least £15m. Partially this is because these players have become fashionable (Liverpool play with 2 at all times) and partially this is because this historically undervalued position is now just coming to light as a mainstay of championship quality clubs. Little clubs are no longer going to sell off  for cheap a hard working central midfielder just because he doesn’t have the deftest of touch.

Given this, I wonder what Song’s value is on the open market and I wonder where Arsenal are going to find a good midfielder for their cut rate offering price of under £10m?

If Wilson Palacios is worth £14m then isn’t Song worth like £10m? And isn’t that, like, totally insane?

I have no idea who we’ll find for the price of a Song, but if Mate Toth is any indication, Wenger is digging deep into the bowels of Europe searching for just that guy.

Or, we’re just going to have to sit around hoping that Theo Walcott returns to 100% form, that Denilson/Diaby/Song works out, and that Eduardo gets his mojo back. If not, it’s going to be a long 4 months.




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