Posts Tagged ‘Gallas captaincy


Best/Worst of 2008 #4; Arsenal 4-4 Tottenham

pardon me for being frank, but this picture makes me want to puke my guts up

When Arsenal hosted Tottenham on the 29th of October it was a tale of two seasons. For Spurs, theirs was a season of high expectations, quickly followed by failure and derision that had culminated in the firing of Juande Ramos and appointment of Harry Redknapp. For Arsenal, despite a couple of blips against Fulham and Hull, hopes were still very high for the senior team and the world was delighting over the exploits of Wenger’s youth team. It took just 90 minutes for Tottenham to expose Arsenal’s frailties in the game that shook Arsenal’s 2008/2009 season.

It started about as bad as a game could. David Bentley, a failure of Arsenal’s academy and constant press loudmouth scored the goal of his lifetime. I mean that in the most derisive sense possible because it wasn’t as much a great goal as it was an utter failure on the part of Arsenal’s defense. From the failed clearance to the fact that Almunia was caught out in no-man’s land Arsenal failed completely. To his rat-faced credit, Bentley did strike the ball well but had any component of the Arsenal team had their head in the game it would have been a wasted shot. Unfortunately Arsenal losing their heads has since become a familiar theme.

But the worst part, the part that stings the most is the knowledge that no lead is safe in the hands of this Arsenal team and Spurs amazing comeback proved that to the world. Up 4-2 and seemingly cruising, Arsene hauled off Walcott, van Persie, and Nasri and put on Eboue, Diaby, and Song — you know, to shore up the defense.

Within one minute of the final sub Tottenham scored twice and shredded the once great Arsenal defense. Of course, the final scoreline is not all the fault of the three subs but it’s no coincidence that those three players are singled out for the most fan derision. It seems like those three are most likely to be on the pitch when some once in a lifetime defensive frailty is exposed.

Letting Tottenham back from a 4-2 lead and exposing our supposed defensive players for the quality they truly are would be a huge enough pivot point of the season yet this game had one more surprise in store for us. Several weeks later, in what is easily the biggest fallout from this game, William ‘Cappy’ Gallas decided to let the whole world know, via the French press, that there was a huge dressing room bust up at half time of that game. Gallas threw in some stuff about disrespectful players and people who think they’ve already arrived when they haven’t done as much as his Greatness, and how when he was a kid he had to kick the ball up hill, in the snow, both ways. Oh yeah, and they should all GET OFF HIS LAWN!

Wenger was left with no choice but to strip Gallas of his captaincy. Cesc was the obvious choice and was quickly appointed. Yet, the problem is that despite a brief upturn there still seems to be some unrest at the club over who leads the team and how they do it. Now with Cesc out for four months with an injury the leadership gap at the club is more glaring than ever.

Defensive woes, a leadership gap, and Diaby, Eboue, and Song exposed for their lack of polish. It didn’t all happen at once, but I can think of no better game that highlights those three stories of 2008 than the 4-4 draw against Tottenham.

Transfer News

Reports have hotted up around supposed Arsenal transfer targets Shay Given and Andrei Arshavin. This morning the Telegraph (who are fairly reliable — for an English newspaper) is reporting that Arsenal have offered £8m for the Newcastle #1. He supposedly wants £60,000 a week in salary but I don’t think that would be too much given Arsenal’s bizarre salary structure. Rumor has it that Spuds and Citeh are also interested in Given, Spuds because their world class keeper is on his way back to PSV and Citeh because everyone on the planet is linked to Citeh.

Meanwhile, multiple sources are reporting that Wenger is “mulling over” a bid for Arshavin. I’d rather he mulled a bid for someone like reported Real Madrid target Antonio Valencia from Wigan. The price tag has to be better and we don’t have to do business with those unseemly racists at Gazprom.

Bad news for the people who wanted Arsene to call up Arteta from Everton, it seems like they are reluctant to let their best players leave for some reason. We all knew that was going to happen, really. Everton would be fools to let Arteta go and unless Arsenal did something like unsettle the player and force their hand (which supposedly we don’t do) I can’t see Arteta joining us for less than something like £20m. More?

Worse though is that that article indicates Mark Hughes is in the market for pretty much the exact same players that Arsenal are in the market for: Premiership tested players. This means that Arsenal are likely to end up in a  bidding war with Citeh over at least one if not more than one player.

This is strongly reminiscent of when Abramovich stormed in to the league and basically just waited for Arsenal to make a bid and doubled it. Remember that year? I do, it was a nightmare.

Part 3 of the year in review tomorrow and I’m sure there will be more transfer rumors. See you then.


Sign me a Song

Following his rearguard defense of Eboue, Arsene Wenger is pulling an “I told you so” in regards Alex Song.

I can show you articles in newspapers which said that [he] was the worst buy I have made but you will see in one or two years that he will be a great player for Arsenal.

So, you saved the clippings did you? Well then, smarty pants, where will Alex Song achieve this greatness?

Trust me, if I make a decision it is because I know all the characteristics of the player whether they are physical or mental characteristics. When I put a player somewhere, I know why I do. If I play Song at centre back it is because I believe he will be a great centre back for Arsenal Football Club. In Song’s case, he can play in central midfield. But can he play 60 games there? I am not convinced

So, wait a second, is this story about Arsene or is this about Song?

First of all, it’s a bit early to start saying that Song will be a “great player” for Arsenal. Hell, it’s a lot early. I’m still unconvinced by the guy in any position — much less in central defense. I’m sorry, but central midfielders can make mistakes but central defenders cannot. Alex Song has made a lot of mistakes at center back and frankly they come down to a lack of vision and defensive awareness. To some extent, those are two things that can be taught, but if vision and awareness don’t come naturally to a player and the chips are down, he/she will revert to their natural state and goals will be conceded.  I am not knocking experience. Experience is the second leg of the tripod that makes a great defender. I’m just saying that he has looked shaky in defense because I don’t think it’s his natural position. I think he’s naturally a central defensive midfielder. Besides, the guy has a talent going forward.  Isn’t that talent wasted having him play in front of goal?  That’s my bag on Song.  Play him in midfield or don’t play him at all.

But then, I’m just some guy on a blog.

“Trust me” Arsene says. Ok, you’re rarely wrong. Here I go, closing my eyes and blindly trusting you…

Wait… I really wonder what his motivation is for this latest outburst. It seems to me that this is more about him and people respecting him and his judgment than about Song’s ability. It doesn’t make any sense any other way. “If I play Song at centre back it is because I believe he will be a great centre back for Arsenal Football Club.” Yes, just like you knew that Flamini would be a great left back, Theo a great right wing, and Toure a great right back?

You are a great manager, Wenger. Your ability to spot players and get them to shine in new positions is unequaled. Are you wrong about Eboue and Song? I’m not going to presume to know. I do know that even if you are wrong about them, it won’t matter, your track record is so solid that even a colossal cockup like starting Alex Song at CB couldn’t tarnish it.  But please, do it for the right reasons and not out of some pig-headedness.

Ok, back to closing my eyes and trusting Arsene Wenger.

The Poop Scoop:

The British press seems to be too busy with the Christianochester Ronaldited controversy to speculate about Arsenal’s transfers. Personally, I really hope he does go to Real Madrid, because United would go from title contenders to 4th place contenders if that happened. And what with the planned exodus of Chelsea’s “galacticos” Arsenal would have to be press darlings and at the very least predicted by the media to finish second place, to Tottenham.

Regardless of their busy schedule with the Ronaldo story, there’s some team news to report: Vieira has warned Arsene not to strip Gallas of the captaincy or else Gallas might not be motivated enough to give 100% next time he kicks some advertising boards and has a midfield pout. My take? Strip him of the captaincy. A real captain will take the demotion and dedicate himself to overcome that set back.

Vieira goes so far as to warn that Gallas might quit if stripped. Good. There’s no room in the squad for a player who has his friends make threats for him in the press.

Meanwhile, Wenger is saying that a big player is better than a big name. I agree. We need a 7’10” monster of a player who can squash tiny little Man U players under one foot. In reality Wenger is simply saying “I am not paying more than £8m for anyone just because they are a household name.”

I guess that means Veloso’s £24m price tag is right out then. I nearly choked when I saw his valuation that high.  £24m for Veloso is just plain irrational: he doesn’t even have a decent YouTube video yet, just a bunch of sappy love songs put to pictures gleaned off the intertubes. Even Chelsea doesn’t spend money like that. Now, Tottenham, on the other hand.

Or how about £14m for Nasri? On the one hand, he has a YouTube compilation of his greatest moments.  On the other, they’re all a bunch of dribbling attacks that end in saves.  But hey it’s a video, break the bank! Judging by the video, he’d be a natural replacement for all the goals that Hleb didn’t score.

So, that’s the poop scoop for today. Another day, another NOT signing.



I lied!

Well, I was going to do a post match blog but so much happened yesterday that I feel obligated to “report” the “news.”

Basically, the Boss gave his usual pre-match Friday press conference and said some very unusual things.  Normally very reserved and tight lipped, Wenger rambled on about Theo, Gallas, Flamini, the pain of losing, Senderos, and David Villa.  YIKES.

The fan’s favorite whipping boy, Senderos, received a boost from Wenger yesterday. Arsene explained why he rested him for the Man U match saying,

Senderos is a genuine and dedicated guy, of course he was extremely disappointed by his performance at Liverpool but only time will get him over that. He is very strong mentally but the first mistake he made at Liverpool played a big part in the second one. Everybody is a confidence player and the young even more so because they have less experience to rely on.

He has enough experience but it has been so intense. He has had a lot of critics. He had two outstanding games against Milan home and away and then on Sunday he was not good anymore for anything. That’s not right but it’s our job. If a guy makes a mistake because he doesn’t care you treat him differently. But he made a mistake and he cares a lot

Wenger is dead on here.  Senderos is not the best defender I’ve ever seen at Arsenal, but there’s nothing wrong with the kid — and he is just a kid.  But a lot of Arsenal “supporters” love to jump all over Senderos whenever Arsenal lose a match.  He made a mistake, get over it, and get over yourself.  Arsene Wenger is a tremendous judge of talent.  I’ll take his opinion about our players over some guy on the internet any day.

In the exact opposite direction, a lot of stuff is being made of Wenger’s statement about Gallas’ captaincy.

I cannot answer that question at the moment. I want to analyse the season after it has finished. At the moment he will be my captain until the end of the season.  I believe he has learned a lot this year and I can only say that his commitment and desire to do well was exceptional. For the rest, I wouldn’t like to go into any individual assessment at the moment.

It was a leading question and this has to be the most honest and diplomatic answer possible.  I know that I have been pretty critical of Gallas in the past and I think I’m going to follow Wenger’s lead here and give it a rest.  I will say this: the only way I can see Gallas accepting the captaincy going to another player is if that player is a world class player and widely recognized leader.  Which is to say, Wenger would have to buy John Terry or the like OR Gallas will have to be traded.  My money would be on the latter.

Speaking of signings, Flamini has refused to put pen to paper so far and Wenger is getting restless.  In fact, he gave the midfielder until the end of April to sign the terms. That’s such a highly unusual thing to do, publicly set a deadline for a player to sign a contract, and really makes me feel like the curse of the shirt is in full effect and Flamini will be going elsewhere next season.  I guess we’ll have to wait and see…

Oh yeah, read my lips: Arsenal are not buying David Villa.  Arsene figures that Walcott and Bendtner will do the job up front and besides… As many of us have been saying, it’s not a LACK of goals that’s the problem.  What Arsenal don’t want to turn into is another Tottenham where 4-4 draws are the norm; and that’s when the team is on.  The point here is two-fold: press speculation is almost always wrong and usually just used to boost the player’s transfer value and Wenger knows where the weakness is in the team.

Theo, like Wenger, figures he should play up front and he’s ready to do what it takes to get there.  The linked article is long and rambling but the more I hear come out of Theo’s mouth the more I like the kid.  Instead of whinging to the press about playing time or going down to Ladbrokes to have a wager with his pals and then wondering why he can’t break into the first team he goes to the boss and asks “what do I have to do to get some playing time?”  That’s real maturity there.  Kudos to the boy.

Lastly, Nike is doing some campaign with Cesc.  UGH.  It’s hideous.  The “no more mr nice guy” video in the link actually made me cringe.  Who comes up with this shit?

Well, that’s it!  I have wasted an hour, brought you some “news” and now I can go watch the tape of the Arsenal game!  WOO HOO!

Up the Arse!

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May 2020