Posts Tagged ‘Hleb to Barcelona


Best/Worst of 2008 #5; Hleb out, Nasri in

The transfer window opens on Thursday and we all know what this week holds; a week of speculation about Arsenal’s transfer targets. I’ll put that information at the end of the post for those of you who are interested but really it’s just speculation and please take it with a huge grain of salt.

Instead of just talking about transfer targets or how Steven Gerrard should be banned for life for his part in a bar fight (that’s a joke, kids) for the rest of this week I want to do a top five best/worst Arsenal year in review. One a day, like vitamins for your football mind, starting with the #5 best/worst story of 2008 and culminating in the #1 best/worst story. One more thing, the reason that the stories are both best and worst is because as I was thinking through each of these, with only one exception, even the best stories had a negative component. So, they are best/worst — you’ll see what I mean.

#5 Hleb out, Nasri in

I don’t know about you, but by the time that Alex Hleb raised a hand to Graeme Murty and got sent off — the last act of futility in a career at Arsenal that defined the word — I was well and truly done with Alex Hleb.

Now, before you get all nostalgic and claim that Arsenal could use Hleb this year, “Arsenal need some width!” you might claim. Let me remind you just how bad Hleb was: this was a guy who had 25 shots, SHOTS not shots on goal but SHOTS, in all competitions in his last year at Arsenal. Of course it’s nice to have a guy on the team who passes the ball but Hleb took passing the ball to a whole different level: he routinely passed up wide open shots in order to pass the ball to a teammate.

To his credit Hleb did have a career high 11 assists last year, but it took him two years of utter futility to reach that apex.

Arsene sold him, to his dream team (where he rots on the bench), and used the money to bring in a guy who has almost all of the same qualities that Hleb had. Arsene bought Samir Nasri.

The difference between Hleb and Nasri is glaring: Nasri already has 32 shots, 4 goals, and 2 assists in just 17 games, Nasri took all the corner kicks and set plays on Sunday (and he was able to clear the first defender which we haven’t seen in a long time), and Nasri’s most important quality is that he plays on the left and actually provides width to this Arsenal team. If you remember, Hleb always, always, always dribbled the ball into the middle of the park — I can only guess he did that because he’s was not capable of playing in a cross.

But the best part about Samir Nasri? He scores game winning goals in big matches. I mean, his second goal against Man U was, well… Hleb could never do that.

So, in his first year Samir Nasri has already shown himself to be a better player than Alex Hleb, a great addition to this team, another coup by the Professor, and the #5 best/worst Arsenal story of 2008.

Transfer Targets


I saw a story that said Arsenal are going to buy three Newcastle players: Shay Given, Charles N’Zogbia, and Steven Taylor. I’ll admit that I’m no fan of Almunia but Shay Given? Hmmm… I’m not a very good judge of keepers so I’m inviting you all to comment on this rumor. Given or Almunia, who would you pick and why?

N’Zogbia has been linked to the club before and nothing has ever come from it. He’s a pacy little winger and I think he would be a good addition to the squad even if he is really struggling this year. After all, a guy can’t get any assists if he doesn’t have any targets! Of course, this could also be the press doing the age old “link every French player to Arsenal” trick, so grain, salt, etc.

Honestly, I don’t know anything about Steven Taylor except that he’s tall, he’s a defender, and he plays for a team that has allowed 32 goals.

Does this make any sense to anyone? That Arsenal are struggling defensively and they are going to bring in the keeper and defender from one of the worst defensive teams in the EPL?

The other target that I hear is the every day transfer speculation that Arsenal are going to sign Andrei Arshavin from his racist ass club. Zenit wants at least £20m for Arshavin which is an insane fee for any player, much less a player who’s only acheivement this year is one good game in Euro 2008. One little problem with this rumor is that Arsene told Canal + that thinks Arsenal don’t have the money.  Make what you will of that, I haven’t had enough coffee to figure out how a team that made £20m or so in profits last year, keeps saying that the club and the Highbury redevelopment are separated, and who’s board members insist that the boss has all the money he could ever need, suddenly doesn’t have any money.

Right, that’s it for today, tune in for the #4 top story of 2008!


File under: Ok what the hell is going on?

I woke up this morning, checked the news and see that Milan are claiming that Adebayor’s price tag has dropped by “half” to £19m.  Now, before you get your blood pressure up this story depends on a quote from our favorite dude, Vincenzo Morabito Super Agent.

IF it’s true, it’s a very bad thing.  Adebayor is worth more than £20m and the only thing that a price lower that that means is that the player is seriously unsettled.  It’s possible that the rumor about Yoann Gorcuff being included in the deal is what’s lowering the price, I don’t know.  Hell, no one knows, well almost no one, evidently Vincenzo Morabito Super Agent knows.

If there’s any truth to all this it could also be chalked up to Milan’s attempt to play hardball over this transfer.  Of course, this could all be a load because it was only a few hours earlier that reports had Milan calling the whole thing off.

Meanwhile, Barcelona’s link to Adebayor has pretty much died off, which can’t be helping Adebayor’s valuation, and their interest in Hleb has picked way up, to the detriment of Andre Arshavin.  This has, in turn, prompted the Russian playmaker to turn his affections on Arsenal.  Which has, in turn, prompted me to laugh my ass off.  Arsenal are not paying £24m for anyone, much less a 27 year old who was completely shut down by Marcos Senna and looked to be in such poor shape at the end of the match that Arsene Wenger wondered aloud about the player’s fitness.  There’s nothing in this story unless Zenit lower their price to the £10m range.

Today must be “winger week” in the press because not only is Arsenal linked to Arshavin but they’re also being linked to N’Zogbia and Gareth Barry.  I like both of these players and they would both satisfy Wenger’s close season pledge to buy a Premiership player.  I’d rather Wenger buy Barry than Charles just because Barry is a much more physically imposing player but I think N’Zogbia could be a good player — in a few years.

According to reports, Arsenal are pursuing Barry in a sign and trade deal with Traore Hoyte as the sweetener.  Traore has a lot of potential and I’d hate to see him go, but getting Barry would be a great signing and would see Arsenal pip Liverpool for the first time in my memory.  I don’t think there’s much to the N’Zogbia link because it’s down to the player saying “I’d love to play for Arsenal… or Tottenham” and there’s no indication from the club or the press that Arsenal have signalled any interest. Funnily, a player saying they could play for either Arsenal or Tottenham doesn’t shock me as much as it would the old timers because, as I’ve said before, I see Chelsea more as a rival than 12th place Tottenham.

Charlie isn’t the only player who “would love to play for Arsenal” some guy named Gervinho is also pushing his name around as someone who’d love to play for Arsenal.  Good luck kid!

Sepp Blatter’s Slavery Sideshow

In case you’re still interested in Sepp Blatter’s attack on the EPL there are a couple of stories I recommend.  First, Pele spoke out against Blatter and Ronaldo’s stupid remarks with a single sensible and measured statement “You are a slave if you work without a contract or you don’t get paid.” And second, James Lawton (who often uses Arsenal as a whipping post) has written a damn fine piece on the whole controversy.  Check it out if you’re bored.

And finally…

U.S. national team goal keeper Brad Guzan has apparently sealed a move to Aston Villa.  This is great news for the player and the national team, if you’re into that kind of stuff.  Good luck Brad, and welcome to the EPL.


theo scores on the press

One of the things I can’t quite understand is how the press operates.  I know, “that’s obvious” you say but I mean specifically, how is it that they keep publishing stories like “Alex Hleb is NOT going anywhere” or “Arsenal target N’Zogbia” or “Theo Walcott was an over paid transfer, HAR HAR?”   I would think that people would be drawn in at first and then when they got burned because the story was a) meaningless b) untrue c) a hatchet job d) all of the above then people would stop listening to them.  I think what stories like this do is fill the papers, generate a little traffic and set the stage for later, bigger stories.   So, if Theo turns out to be the best player in England they can run with the “how did we all get it so wrong?” stories and so on.  There’s a lot I like about the British press (they ask politicians hard questions — and there’s bewbs) but the sports section reads like the Daily Bugle.

Anyway, yeah, Hleb is NOT going to Barcelona!  YES!  His agent says he is totally not interested in Barcelona and his is in love with Arsene Wenger.  Or something.

Also N’Zogbia is coming to Tottenham Arsenal! because he’s unhappy at Newcuntsle and his mum lives in London.  N’Zogbia reminds me of Eboue except his vowel to consonant ratio is lower, and he has an apostrophe in his name and he’s shorter and he doesn’t roll around on the ground like a Man United player.  But other than all that, they are exactly the same, quick, aggressive, and with a penchant to turn the ball over in the attack.  Maybe Wenger would want him, I don’t know.  In fact, that’s the point: no one knows.  And no one will know until Arsene Wenger makes an actual statement.  Which isn’t going to happen until Summer, when transfers can happen again, right?  So, this is a completely dead story.

Theo Walcott is worse than Darren Bent and showed us so by scoring a great goal while putting in a “blistering” performance for the England U-21 team.  Wait, what? That’s totally off script!  Damnit. Look, I’m going to keep the faith with Theo a lot longer than I probably should.  It’s irrational and I know that but I’m going to support Theo through thick and thin.  I guess he’s my “underdog;” that player or team who I root for against the odds.  I think he just needs a good run to find his touch and get a few goals and I think he’ll start scoring and people will get behind him.  So, unless he comes out and starts bad-mouthing Arsenal, he’s got my support, so you press people can take your anti-Theo stories and shove them.  Why don’t you go back to harassing someone who’s actually overrated like Darren Bent?

In actual news, Flamini and Diaby were both reported injured last night.  Diaby didn’t even play and Flamini was taken off at 15 minutes.  I was hoping to have a follow up on the Dot Com but they are being tighter than a Huckabee supporter.  Shitanta is trying to say that Flamini may be out up till after the FA Cup clash with Man U, but that’s pure speculation.  Let’s all wait for the boss’ statement, ok?

Yogi over at A Cultured Left Foot has a nice opinion piece on where Wenger fits in the pantheon of all-time great managers in the EPL.  I personally think that all you have to do is tally up his trophies and divide them by the £’s he spent getting them and you can see that the man is possibly the most talented manager England has ever seen.  I think he’s actually earned money in the transfer market whereas teams like Man U and Chelsea can’t possibly say the same thing.  But anyway, take a look at Yogi’s piece, it’s pretty good.

Finally, I’d like to give a shout out to Obama.  He’s the only candidate in the pack who would actually change the way America does business and I, for one, am doing my part to help him win the nomination and then the presidency.  Last night he exceeded all expectations and now we’ve just got to keep pushing forward and work the ball around and stretch the defense and then lob the ball to him so he can put it in the net.

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July 2020