Archive for the 'Martin Taylor tackle on Eduardo' Category



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.

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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.

16
Jan
09

Hull v. Arsenal preview and Wenger’s Transfer Targets

Good morning kickers, I have the day off and the whole family had a good sleep in. So that’s why the late blog.

Anyway, Wenger ran the gamut today, talking about transfers, rumors, Kaka, and erm, who is that team we play tomorrow? Oh yeah, Hull City, god, they suck don’t they? This should be an easy game, like playing Stoke, or Fulham, it’s almost like having a game in hand, right?

Am I forgetting something?

Anyway, here are the highlights of Wenger’s exclusive pre-match interview.

Defensive Balance Helps Them Grind Out Wins

I believe that as long as you keep a good defensive balance, and don’t concede a goal… you have always a chance, since you have so much possession, to score one.

This pretty much sums up Arsene Wenger’s footballing philosophy over the last two years: keep the ball and eventually you’ll score. He talks about “defensive balance” but when you watch the games and see Clichy and Sagna effectively providing the only attacking width on the team, “defensive balance” is a lie. Well, maybe not a lie, but at least it’s a Wengerism. I think when he says “defensive balance” it means “Clichy and Sagna are free to go forward and as long as we have one or two players who stay near the half-way line, the team is balanced.”

The problem is that the team isn’t balanced and Wenger doesn’t even see it. He’s asked about the possession stats against Bolton and he admits that Arsenal’s 77% possession was a record for them. Morever, Arsenal had 680 some passes in that game, most of which were sideways.

This is a function, Wenger says, of the fact that teams who feel insecure about their league position are trying to secure their place in the table and do so at all costs. Wenger says that right now you’re going to see a lot of these 1-0 wins for the top four teams against lesser opponents until March when things start to “open up a bit.”

There’s a real logic here in that last bit, I’ll admit, but only if some separation starts to happen at the bottom of the table. If the whole table stays bunched up like it is then this same 10-men-behind-the-ball (the Aston Villa playing style) tactic will continue to prevail.

None of which changes the basic argument that all Gooners have been having for the last year: should we shore up defense or offense.

I’m saying both. What say you?

Nasri in the Hole

He [Nasri] is a player who likes to go left, right, and is very versatile… and has a lot of invention, with the ball. [But also] Samir is incredibly quick, because he is as well very good on the ball. So, he uses more the second aspect of his game than the first one. His runs off the ball can be deadly, but he likes so much to come to the ball that he doesn’t use his pace to go in behind the defenders. We are trying to balance his game.

I think we all sort of knew the first thing about Samir, but I haven’t seen any evidence of this super pace that Wenger claims. Worse too is that Arsenal are in desperate need of runs off the ball, and getting in behind defenses.  So, in the hole or not, Arsenal need Nasri to start balancing his game without the ball.

Irregardless, I like Nasri in the hole: which sounds really gross.

Bring on the Vela

Most people who watched the Bolton game credited Vela with changing the game and of course, the big question, then, is “Since Nasri plays in the middle, Diaby is shite, and Vela is a game changer, why doesn’t Vela play more?”

Wenger says that he was reticent to use Vela early in the season because he felt Vela wasn’t physically ready for the rigors of an EPL match. He’s ready now to start using him more because he feels like the player has come along greatly. I got the sense that we’ll see more Vela over the next few months, both out of necessity and because Wenger sees him growing and becoming a man, or as he puts it “a different animal.”

Transfers

The big question on everyone’s mind is who are Arsenal going to buy? With the second question being, how close are we to signing Andrei Arshavin?

To the second question, Arsene flat out said, he isn’t talking about it and we are not close to signing Arshavin. Arsenal are in negotiations with Zenit but that is all.

I firmly believe that Arsenal’s only hope for signing Arshavin lies in Man City landing Kaka. Because if City don’t land Kaka, they will certainly look elsewhere for a playmaker and Arshavin is pretty much the best option out there. There is no way that Arsenal could outbid City nor could we come close to satisfying Arshavin’s wage request so they would win that contest every time: Champions League football be damned.

Fortunately, the Kaka deal looks more and more likely, despite the protestations of the player. The transfer fee is reportedly up to £108m which no club could realistically turn down. That amount of money would buy a whole new team of decent talent, pay off 1/3 of a new stadium, and basically ensure top flight survival for several years.

Throw in that the player is supposedly being offered £100m in wages (60% of which would go to him, after taxes) over 5 years and really, this is an irresistible offer isn’t it?

That leaves us with Arshavin, and the boss says that “nothing has fallen through and we are very positive” which I’m taking to mean that the racist assholes at Zenit are stringing us along until they can get a better offer. If nothing better comes along, then on the last day of the transfer market, Arsenal will… maybe get the player. Maybe they’ll just have him killed or whatever they do in Russia. Wenger as much as admitted that this deal will probably happen on the last day.

Arsene did admit that he’s in for other targets but flatly denied that we are in for Hangelaand and Bullard from Fulham and Diakate from Lazio. YAY, three more targets we can put to bed!

Who will play against Hull?

Wenger ruled out Gallas and Silvestre due to injury and there is a test today for the others — basically the test is for Song, who is like a new signing if he comes back.

Eduardo scored a hat trick in a closed door practice but Wenger is not ready to throw him back into a game quite yet.  He’ll play on Tuesday in a reserves game and Wenger will assess the situation then. I may have been off on my assessment that Eduardo will return in February and we might see a cameo against Cardiff at the earliest and if not, then Everton almost certainly.

As for the tactics that Hull might employ Wenger sees a Hull side that came in to Arsenal and played a 4-3-3 but who have lost a ton of confidence and are starting to crack. Given Phil Brown’s dust-up with Kinnear the other day, I have to agree that the pressure seems to be getting to them and so I fully expect Hull to play a 9-1-1.

It’s funny, but you know who Phil Brown reminds me of? Alan Pardew. Hull City’s form right now reminds me of the form West Ham suffered late in that season as well. If you remember that 2006/07 season, though, Arsenal were beaten at home by West Ham 1-0 after they had been beaten earlier in the season and were looking for revenge.

It will take massive concentration to avoid that kind of slip again tomorrow.

Conclusion

Late kickoff tomorrow and the game is on Fox, so I’m going to be doing the liveblogging thing. This means no early blog here tomorrow, but join me here at 9:15 PST for comments and general fun. See you then.

02
Jan
09

Best/Worst of 2008 #2; Taylor Breaks Eduardo’s Leg

Lord, I am so tired... how long must this go on?

It was the maddest moment of one of the craziest games I have ever not seen. The injury to Eduardo meant that the game ran over Doyle’s allotted recording time and so as I pulled on my coat to leave with Arsenal up 2-1, I finished my beer and Russ said, “do you know what happened?” Then he told me how Arsenal gave up a penalty in the last minute and of Gallas’ reaction and I knew then that this would be one of the biggest games of the season. I rushed home to check the post-match interviews and fall out: it was bigger than I thought, it was like an atom-bomb had gone off in the dressing room. Wenger had branded Taylor a dirty player, Gallas had lashed out at the advertising on the sidelines, and Eduardo’s leg was being sewn back together.

It’s a game that should have been remembered as the day that Theo Walcott announced himself, scoring his first league goal to equalize and then scoring the second goal to go ahead after an amazing run. But instead of the articles praising Walcott — who clearly has a penchant for scoring in controversial games as his first Arsenal goal came in the Carling Cup final against Chelsea — there was no shortage of negative press about Arsenal’s Gallic protests.

The English press are normally biased against the Gunners, which I maintain is attributed to the fact that the English are still upset that the French ruled them for hundreds of years and forced their language on them, but the post-match feeding frenzy after this match was the high water mark of anti-Arsenal press. I’m still upset that the English press refused to use the active voice when describing Taylor’s tackle on Eduardo. To this day they describe the incident as “Eduardo broke his leg.” It is an intentionally deceptive statement and is like describing a drive-by shooting by saying “the innocent bystander shot himself.”

I won’t even go down the road of the god damn sympathetic press that Martin Taylor got. Or about how English managers like Steve Bruce said things like Taylor’s tackle wasn’t even a yellow card. Suffice it to say that pretty much every article and opinion piece focused on what poor losers Arsenal are, what a horrible person William Gallas is for showing his emotion and on and on.

Lost in all that was the fact that Eduardo nearly lost his leg to a horrible tackle from Martin Taylor. Something which he has only recently (sort of) come back from. The team, though, has not recovered.

At the time of the Birmingham match, Arsenal were leading the league by 6 points. After the match they fell into a pattern we have become all too familiar with this season: play teams like Villa or ‘Boro or Wigan and get 0-0 or 1-1 draws, punctuated by incredible wins like the 2-0 over AC Milan, only to come back and slip against Premiership opponents. Draw, draw, win, draw, draw, loss, win, draw, draw, loss, loss — from toast of the world to also rans: in the span of a few weeks Arsenal are knocked out of all 4 competitions and it all goes back to this one moment in Birmingham.

Birmingham showed the character of the team in that when the chips are down Arsenal gives up, starts in-fighting, and is more likely to take their frustrations out on an advertising hoarding than on their opponent’s net. That said, there might yet be a silver lining here.  Because as I write this Eduardo is probably working out somewhere, trying to get fit to play again.

And Eduardo’s comeback from Taylor’s near career ending tackle should be a point of inspiration for this team. Eduardo’s hard work, determination, and courage to even get back on the pitch after such a horrific event should show these young men what it means to really love the game.

If it doesn’t then nothing ever will.

It was difficult to pick this as the #2 best/worst moment of 2008 because it is obviously such an influential moment but there was one thing that shaped Arsenal’s year even more than Taylor’s tackle on Eduardo.

17
Dec
08

Gallas loses his joie de vivre, Eduardo finds it.

Good morning, I hope everything is going well with you wherever you are. Here it is “snowing” and “freezing” which actually means that we have had weather below 40F and there was a 1/4″ of snow. This in turn means that the men who typically wear shorts all “winter” will have to bust out their extra long pair of shorts. It’s a tragedy and I’m prepared for the Governor to declare a national emergency at any moment.

Meanwhile, on a foggy night in London’s Underhill sports complex, an Arsenal reserve side featuring the long awaited return of Eduardo da Silva took on some kind of Portsmouth team and won 2-0. I will be the first to admit that when I saw the score line I fully expected to see Eduardo’s name next to at least one of the goals, but it wasn’t to be. In fact, he only played 45 minutes because he tweaked his hamstring, which puts him out for two weeks. His hope is to return for the FA cup match in January, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the man out of the first team until the Spurs match in February.

Reports indicate that he looked pretty good out there which is to be expected since hopes are high at the moment and any flaws were bound to be overlooked as the halcyon glow of a triumphant return clouded minds (and even lenses). I’ll just say that Eduardo is a tremendous talent, a relentless finisher, and a key asset to Arsenal’s title aspirations. Whether he plays or not is probably irrelevant as his long journey back should provide an emotional lift to a team that are struggling under the weight of all our expectations magnified by the constant roil of the London press. Despite the odds, Eduardo never gave up, he wants to play football, he loves playing football; how is that not inspirational?

Unfortunately, given the fact that Arsenal play 1st place Litterpool on Sunday and 4th place Aston Villa away on Boxing Day this team will need to stay in the title race without him on the pitch. So, let’s hope the emotional lift is enough to sustain the team until we can get him back and scoring goals.

Transfers

Much speculation is surrounding both Gallas and Bendtner with Italian clubs supposedly interested in both players.

Juve is reportedly interested in Gallas and Arsenal is reportedly asking for Chiellini in return. This deal will not happen.

First, Juve would be fools to take a head case like Gallas. He’s a good defender but there’s something wrong with him emotionally: he’s the guy who sent Arsenal into a tailspin last year with his Birmingham sit-in and he’s the guy who sent Arsenal into a tailspin this year with the Tottenham half-time bust up. If there’s a shit-storm at Arsenal over the last two years, William Gallas always seems to be at the eye. Who wants that on their team?

Second, I’ve watched Serie A football now for a couple of months, usually while typing the Sunday blog — NOW I’M AN EXPERT ON THE TOPIC, and compared to the EPL, the Serie A is a walk in the park. Contact is basically forbidden, movement is minimal, the pace is insanely slow, and since every team is leaking goals at rate that would embarrass even Arsenal, defenders aren’t really asked to do much.

Add in the favorable tax breaks, the good weather, the food, and the fact that English women have filthy vaginas (hey, don’t kill the messenger) and I seriously doubt that many Italian players want to come to England.

I do see Gallas leaving, but rather than bring in some big name, I’d bet Wenger recalls Senderos. Now, put aside your prejudices against the man and think about it… ok, it’s crazy but exactly the kind of thing Wenger would do. And you know Senderos would be happy to play backup, he’s done it before so don’t be surprised if you see big Phil back in the red and white!

The other speculation is that Inter are lining up a bid for Bendtner.

He would fit right in with the slow pace, deliberate style, and outright laziness of Inter.

The huge transfer story of the morning, though, is that Diarra got his wish and used Pompey as a stepping stone to a bigger club, with Real Madrid reportedly offering somewhere between $13.5m – $36m (£9m – £24m) for his services. This is really a crazy story. I know that a lot of us Arsenal supporters had a real hard on for Diarra after he put in, like one good performance in the Carling Cup but is he really one of the top 3 or 4 holding midfielders in the world? A guy who couldn’t get a game over Flamini, a player who now sits on the bench at AC Milan, is suddenly worth 6 times what Portsmouth paid for him? I guess he did play on a team that won the FA cup, so that must explain it.

Seriously, Diarra is a fine player who reminds me of a sort of poor man’s Makalele, mostly due to his short stature and the fact that he plays in the same position and not because he’s a proven winner.  He has a good engine and what he lacks in passing and offensive awareness he makes up for in hard work. Arsenal could certainly use him right now, but he’s no £20m player. If he’s worth £20m, you can forget about Arsenal buying anyone who has ever accomplished anything ever again. I mean come on, Arsenal wouldn’t pay £18m for Xavi Alonso, who has won a lot of silverware against the world’s best players.

What’s also strange is that as talented as he is on the pitch, he’s the world’s least trustworthy player off the pitch. Everywhere he goes he’s always angling for a new deal with another team and as soon as he signs he’s quick to rip his old team.

Huh… in a certain way, he reminds me a lot of Gallas: he’s at the eye of every shit-storm. Again, why would you want a guy like that on your team?

The only part of this story that makes me mad is that Arsenal didn’t get paid $30m to offload him! Oh well.

And finally, I would be remiss if I talked about transfers and didn’t mention Andre “the great hype” Arshavin and his possibly transfer to Arsenal. He’s not coming to Arsenal and I don’t want him.

This whole saga is just comedic. This is a player who may be the most overrated player in modern history. A guy who’s sole claim to fame is one good game in Euro 2008 and a UEFA Cup!

I’m glad he’s not coming to Arsenal. In fact, I would be pissed if Arsenal did business with that club. Zenit St. Petersburg should not be allowed to play sanctioned football while their coach talks openly about discriminating against black players because the racist ass fans would riot much less be allowed to do business in the transfer market. If Arsenal ever gave them a dime while they had an open policy of racial discrimination I would be shocked and dismayed.

Ok, long post but that’s because I got up early when the baby started crying — no William Gallas was not spending the night, I have an actual live 7 month old baby that cries at night.  William Gallas is a 31 year old baby that cries at night.

See the difference?

16
Dec
08

Everyone writes us off, except Patrick Vieira

take-that-keano

As usual, with any lull in actual football there comes a flurry of activity in the press. For the last three years each of these spells has been primarily negative for Arsenal and this one is no different.

What I can’t understand is why the headlines never match the quotes, like this one from ESPN: “Rio rules Arsenal out of race for title

Reading that headline I fully expect a ganja induced tirade about how Arsenal lack the quality, need to spend big, and are going to drop out of the top four and fire Arsene Wenger. Instead the quote is:

It is not beyond Arsenal but it is my personal opinion that it will be between the other three this season.

So which is it? Are we written off or not?

Or this gem from the Guardian: “No one scared of Arsenal any more, says Vieira.” Wait a minute, that’s not what he said, he actually said:

One of the problems for Arsenal as well is that they are conceding too many goals. I think that teams now play against Arsenal knowing that they can score so that can be a little bit psychological.

Far cry from “No one scared of Arsenal any more.” Every team that faces Arsenal know that they are in for a good fight. Sure, there are teams that have taken points and as Zola pointed out yesterday, that’s more down to clubs figuring out how to play them. Please note that Zola points to all of the “big four” as teams who clubs have figured out, not just Arsenal.

I really like what Patrick Vieira actually had to say about our young team as it comes from the outside and flies in the face of the conventional wisdom I read every morning. Basically, he urges the fans to have patience, support these Young Ones, and appreciate the talent we have because we probably aren’t getting anyone new. Read it for yourself, it’s pretty good stuff.

I especially like his estimation of Denilson. This young Brazilian is often the butt of criticism with places like Arseblog now offhandedly calling him out for not being a quality player. But Vieira, who’s opinion about Holding Midfielders I hold in the highest of esteem, sees it otherwise

When you look at the talent of Flamini and the talent of the new Brazilian guy [in midfield], Denilson, it’s not the difference. He is really talented but maybe he needs more time to express himself. He needs to learn more because the more you play, the better you will be.

Denilson has put in some very good performances and some poor ones as well, but there’s no denying the talent or commitment of the player. He lacks the pace of a real wing player and yet when asked to do it, he’d play anywhere on the pitch. The only thing he’s lacking is that last little bit of killer instinct on both ends of the pitch, well, that and the size that Song brings.

But more importantly is that the team doesn’t seem to be playing as a unit right now and that exposes the frailties of every player on the pitch; with me even calling out Cesc.

But I’m thinking that it’s our long term injuries and some misfortune at the outset has cause this team to get mixed up in ways that is not conducive to team play. Think about it, the entire squad of Wing players are currently injured; Nasri, Theo, Eboue, and Rosicky have all had various long and short term injuries. Sure, Wenger should have seen that Rosicky would be out for a large portion of the season and that Eboue might not be up to snuff but still you can’t expect all four of them to go down. And so, we end up with Diaby and Denilson on the wings. All credit to them for trying but that is clearly not their best position. This throwing players in to unfamiliar roles makes it very difficult for the team to gel and also undermines their individual belief.

Given all that, it’s no wonder the team are struggling, but do they lack the quality to win the league? Really?

Dudu to Play

It’s now being confirmed that Dudu will play tonight. Hopes are high, but let’s be realistic, he was moments away from losing his leg after Martin Taylor’s horrific tackle. Let’s all wish Eduardo the best of luck and give him some room to breathe, he may never be the same again and we all need to accept that.

Other injury news has Theo coming back in February and Rosicky is seeing yet another specialist though there is no time-line shift on his return with “March” as his supposed target. No surprises there.

Also, you may have missed this story but Arsenal signed a big name defender to a long term contract yesterday: Hoyte the Younger.

Right, that’s it, I have to brave the treacherous ice covered streets of my city and go to work.




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