Posts Tagged ‘Lehmann

16
Apr
08

snews roundup; spotlight Adebayor

Adebayor scores against Charlton

Ade steals the ball from Hreidarsson

I’ll admit it. I’m biased toward the big fella. See, I was there, at Highbury when Ade scored his first home goal. Here was this big guy, lanky, kinda frustrating, but a nose for the goal and the ability to add something new to Arsenal’s, erm, Arsenal. Ironically, he had had several gilt edged chances to score up until that point but his first goal had to wait until a Hreidarsson gaffe gifted him the opportunity and he took it with aplomb. Funny… he’s the same player now as he was then, except now he’s scoring bags of goals.

Ade came to Arsenal in January 2006 (our last year at Highbury) and even though I mentioned that it took him 3 months to get his first home goal, he had gotten a goal in his very first appearance (away to Birmingham).

In a sense, Arsenal were forced to throw Ade on in that first season due to injuries to Robin van Persie and Reyes. And though he finished that first season with only 4 goals and 4 assists he greatly impressed everyone with his work rate, attitude and added dimension that he lent to the team.  Henry noticed he might be special right away:

Manu is the type of striker who is really nice to play with because he shows the ball well and he does the bad [hard] work… He gives us a plus because usually we have players like Dennis [Bergkamp] and Robin van Persie who try to get the ball behind, not really trying to shield the ball and wait for the team to come. Manu has that, so finally we have the striker who we have been looking for that when you kick the ball forwards, he will be there to shield it.

So too did Le Boss:

Adebayor is a bit more in-the-air player. He works hard and overall he gives a little bit more freedom to Thierry.

By the end of the 2006/2007 season, Ade hadn’t quite lived up to expectations: he only scored 12 goals in 35 starts and added only 4 assists. It’s not like he didn’t have his chances, playing alongside Thierry Henry for most of the season, he got 81 shots and only converted 12.

The one hugely positive outcome of that season was the Adebayor/Henry dance.

(There’s some neat assists and goals in there too)

Still, he worked hard, maintained a positive attitude, and played his ass off.

Then Henry left. Then van Persie was injured again. Then his other strike partner had his leg broken by Taylor. And Adebayor was left all alone up front and no one thought he could do it. Here was this big fella who did so well to hold the ball up for his strike partner to get a hold of left without a strike partner. A 23 year old, still a kid, being asked to fill the shoes of one of the greatest Arsenal players of all time with little or no help.

In that context, 26 goals and 4 assists on 118 shots in 37 games (SO FAR!) is a hell of a return. During the period when Arsenal were flying high we all have to admit, it was Adebayor who was leading the team. From December 29th, where he came on as a sub against Everton, to the Feb.11th game at home against Blackburn (that I attended) Ade scored 12 goals — an amazing run.

Since then, I think the toll of playing up front by himself, losing his only other strike partner (Dudu), and just the amazing amount of work he puts in had left him looking a bit jaded. Before the boss rested him, he simply looked unable to overpower defenders as he had done earlier in the season. He also looked tired on his runs and tired legs often lead to blown goals. So, as good as he was during the first month and a half of this year, he was equally and oppositely frustrating for this last month and a half.

I get it when Arsenal fans are frustrated by Ade’s touch. I get it when you get frustrated by his seeming lack of ability to put the ball away. I get it when you are frustrated by his constant offsides. The man is not perfect and the last month has really shown that to be the case.

But the month before showed us a glimmer of what I think we should expect from a fully fit strike duo that features Adebayor; he could be our Drogba — minus the divey, fakey, cuntery. But more than any striker before him, he needs a strong partner to play off of, a goal scoring threat who will take some of the defensive pressure away from him. Because as lone striker, defenses have been able to single him out, harass him, frustrate him, and make him work harder than he should have to to get the goals.

I may be biased because I was there when he got his first home goal but I think even an unbiased person would have to admit that his return in front of goal this season has improved massively. Not only that, but he gives Arsenal an aerial threat that they lacked the last two seasons and a big, strong striker who terrorizes and frustrates the best defenders in the Premiership. You can’t tell me that John Terry and Rio Ferdinand look forward to playing against Adebayor. Those three things alone would be enough to warrant a place in my 5 player spotlight but Ade has another quality that few people talk about: leadership.

I am not the only one who has improved. So have Cesc [Fabregas] and [Mathieu] Flamini, Kolo [Toure] and [Emmanuel] Eboue. Without them, I’m nothing. ‘They have made me the player I am today, the way I played at the San Siro. Every single day in training, they’re telling me what I should be doing. Am I becoming a world-class player? I don’t know. That’s for others to judge. I am just doing what Arsenal ask me to do and enjoying myself on the pitch. I don’t care about achieving individual things. The most important thing is to achieve things with the team, to win the Premier League and the Champions League.

That was his quote right after the 2-0 win at the San Siro. That is a man who’s humble, who knows his place on the team and who knows his place in Arsenal history. That is a man who, despite his prominent role as a striker, chooses to defer to others on the team and highlight their hard work. That is a man who rightly knows that all his hard work would be for naught if the team hadn’t made him what he is this season.
That’s a leader right there folks. A leader who puts the devastation of last month in perspective and who encourages his teammates to take the last 4 games seriously:

You have to show whether you are a man or not. In the difficult moments, that is when you have to come out and show character, personality and play your football. It is difficult, but I know my mum will be somewhere watching the TV, so I have to play for her, all my family and all the people who love Arsenal. We have to win all those games now, to play for our honor and for our fans. The fans have been great to me this season, always singing my name and taking me into their hearts.

Emmanuel Adebayor — one of my top 5 players of the 2007/2008 season.

Not much going on in the news, you probably already heard that Arsenal are 100% certain of signing David Villa from Valencia, or that maybe he’ll go to Liverpool, but Chelsea is right out.

I hate these kinds of stories because they are frustrating to the Arsenal supporters. Every year Arsenal are linked to someone (Babel, Torres, Wright-Phillips, Essien, etc. etc.) and every year that person signs for some other team.

All the Arsenal bloggers and readers ought to boycott those stories. They don’t do a single positive thing for the team, for the fans, or for the club. “Hleb is leaving,” “Villa is coming in,” “Arsenal to sign Ronaldinho!” Nothing more than amateur speculation and rumor.

That settles it. If you want rumor news, go somewhere else. I’m not printing it here any more except as a joke or out of irony. Frankly, I don’t know what I’ll print this summer… I guess I’ll have to be creative!

So that leaves us with two “real” news stories today: Lehmann doesn’t hate anyone, and Mourinho is polishing his Charity Shield in hopes of proving that he’s a better manager than Wenger and Fergie.

Those two stories are good for a laugh, huh?

Until tomorrow.

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22
Feb
08

Birmingham 7am

Good morning.  I spent 4 hours on my motorcycle yesterday, driving around in rush hour traffic.  It was my first rush hours in 6 months and it reminded me that one of the dangers of rush hour traffic is that you get into the habit of looking at the brake lights of the guys way ahead of you.  Then, before you know it, you’re locking up your brakes because the guy right in front of you is completely stopped.

Birmingham is that car right in front of us.  Sure, Birmingham is a Yugo.  But you don’t want to ram your Ducati into the back of a Yugo.  Because the Yugo is going to come out on top.

So, here’s to the boys staying focused on the Yugo in front of us and not putting in a repeat performance of the last Birmingham match.  They are going to be tired.  They are banged up.  The pitch is not going to be as nice as Emirates.  Birmingham are going to play hard.  But they Arsenal are far and away the better squad and three points here is a must.  Especially with Man U playing relegation bound Newcastle.

There’s some bright spots in injury news: Almunia, RvP, and Toure are all better off than previously thought.  Wenger is refusing to say if Almunia will play tomorrow even though he will travel with the team.  Of course, this leads to some great comedy from Lehmann who now thinks he ought to start.  I would start Almunia, because I firmly believe that players shouldn’t lose their starting spot through injury. Also, I like the stability that Almunia provides at the back (though to be fair, Jens was only 10% crazy in the match against Milan).

It looks like van Persie is ready to return but Wenger won’t play him tomorrow.  I miss RvP but I’d gladly not see him play for the rest of the year if it meant he could play every match next season.  As much as I’d like to see Ade and van Persie terrorizing defenders, I want to see the pair play for a whole season, rather than get what we saw against Tottenham; a shell of a great player who hobbles off at half time.

And finally, Toure is reportedly not as bad off as previously thought.  Good.  Here’s to a speedy recovery.

So, tomorrow’s match is an early match and only available in the states on Setanta.  Which means I have to watch the tape delay at Doyle’s.  The owner is also in charge of the pub team and he smartly put the match on at 7am so that I could make the 10am practice.  Thanks Russ.  So for you Tacoma supporters, Arsenal is on at Doyle’s at 7am tomorrow, see you there.

That’s about it for today.  There’s some stuff about Wenger staying at Arsenal for 8 years and some fat guy ate up some more shares of the club making him the fattest cat in the board room.  The first story is just speculation and the second story makes me want to puke.   Nothing to cover there.

Chelsea’s insane owner has lost over £578,000,000 to win “5” trophies (which counts a Charity Shield and a League Cup) and he still claims Chelsea are bigger than Arsenal.  This reporting period sees another £75m in Chelsea losses while Arsenal claim a pre-tax profit of £20m.  This is almost exclusively due to the fact that Chelsea spent £135m of their £200m in turnover on wages last year while Arsenal continues to grow the club through hard work, good scouting and the genius of Arsene Wenger.  I have to say, though, that I don’t see Abramovich leaving the club any time soon but I do see the cash drying up.  No man, not even a Russian oligarch, can spend £100,000,000 a year and get no return.  And when the cash dries up, Chelsea’s fall will be astronomical.  Which will suck for their long suffering fans.

OK.  Now I’m done.  3 points tomorrow puts us just 2 points shy of St. Totteringham’s Day so, UP THE ARSE!

07
Jan
08

Looks like someone has a case of the Eboues

Not much team news this morning and when your team is on top I always say “no news is good news.” Lehmann is still deciding and there is no news about Diarra even though he didn’t play yesterday which Arseblogger points out is very strange indeed; maybe there’s a deal in the works, maybe he just pissed the boss off… I don’t know. No one seems to know.

The 4th round FA cup draw was held and Arsenal got the winner of the Stoke City/Newcastle tie. Let’s face it, as much as we’d all like to see Arsenal kick Fat Sam’s team of cunts off the pitch, it’s going to be Stoke. Newcastle is in serious turmoil and the daily denials about Sam getting the sack only exacerbate the problem. Additionally, they are missing Barton and Martins, arguably their two best players. Either way, it’s a great draw for Arsenal. In other FA Cup news, I’m really looking forward to whichever team Luton face — should be a cracker!

Ahead of Wednesday’s clash with Spurs, Wenger says he is fearless about using the youth team in the Carling Cup. I have to agree, given last season and this season’s performances, these kids are great. I think the only lesson they have left to learn is that the match lasts 90 minutes. It will be an exciting match and there will be plenty more on that over the next two days. I’ll be watching the Carling Cup match at Doyle’s on Wednesday — kickoff is at 11:45 am local time. A little bit of Arsenal America business as well, I think a bunch of us are going to meet up to watch the Birmingham match on the 12th. This will be at the George and Dragon in Seattle. Directions to the pub are on their web site. If anyone wants to carpool to Seattle send me a PM. Most of you already receive email updates from me so… erm, this is a second update!

Ok, now I’m going to get serious for a moment. I want to say just a word about Eboue and then this will be the last time I will be slagging off Eboue. Why? Because I am so often wrong about players. Sure, I was right about Flamini. But literally that is all I have ever been right about. Last season I hated Hleb, Wenger had faith, and now Hleb is, to be fair, a tremendous asset to the team. So, I just have some things I need to get off my chest and then that’s it, no more Eboue hate.

First off, the good: I remember back three years ago when Eboue got his chance. He took it and with force and vigor and was spine-tinglingly good at making runs down the right side. He was great in the tackle and all around a revelation at Right Back for Arsenal. His only niggling little problems were that he couldn’t seem to put in a decent cross when he got in the final 1/3 and he had a penchant for petulance.

The next season he was even better: he learned to cross and the assists started racking up — he had 6 in all competitions. And then you’ll all remember how he stood up to and matched Christiano Ronaldo pound for pound, step for step, and shut him down. I have never been prouder of the man than that match. The only thing left for him to work on was marking on set pieces and the way he would throw Dida-esque dives and fucking stupid ass shit like “slapping” Wayne Bridge in the Carling Cup final.

This season, however, has been a revelation as well — in how poorly a man can play and still keep his starting place. I can’t remember a match where he hasn’t either been stretchered off, only to bounce right back, or gone down and rolled around like he was permanently wounded, only to bounce right back. He’s also the first to get involved in a fracas and often an instigator. But worse than that, he’s seemingly lost the ability to put in a cross, while simultaneously caught Hleb’s disease of last year. You know, the one where you as the viewer see him receive the ball, square up to the defender, and then promptly telegraph to everyone on the pitch and everyone watching on television exactly where he’s going and where the defender needs to be to dispossess him.  Or, he simply passes the ball right into the feet of his defender, which is a joy to watch.  Arsenal build up play, stretch the defense, and Eboue turns the ball over.  Arsenal build up play, stretch the defense, and Eboue turns the ball over.  AHHHHRRRRGHHH!!!!  STOP DOING THAT!

That’s it. That’s my beef with him. He’s a cunty little cheat and he has to learn to be a winger. This is a steep learning curve. Maybe he can do it, maybe not. I don’t know. Obviously Wenger believes in him (to the detriment of Theo I would argue) and I believe in Wenger. So there you have it: I trust Arsene Wenger and he has a plan for Eboue. I’m going to step back and let that plan unfold. So, no more hating on Eboue, from me.

Ok, that’s about it, until tomorrow.

04
Jan
08

Strange days indeed

Good morning — ugh.  I slept poorly last night and so you get an early blog. Huzzah, plbbbt.

Theres some odd news in the transfer market today as it looks like Arsenal are refusing to let want away Diarra leave and some unknown force (the ghost of Seaman past!) is keeping Jens from leaving as well.

First, the Daily Mail is reporting that Arsenal have rejected a £4m bid from Tottenham for Diarra. The article points out that this is the second player to slip through Spurs’ fingers during the transfer window; top four squad indeed.

Even though Arsenal paid £2m for him this is the right thing to do. Spuds need midfielders (oh god, especially holding midfielders) and the last thing Arsenal should do is help an old rival get a solid midfield engine — especially on the eve of the Carling Cup clash. But more than that, it’s being reported that Arsenal are not willing to sell Diarra and some are speculating that this is because of the uncertain contract situation with Flamini.

I think it’s time to admit that I have a bit of a curse. Every time I break down and buy a jersey for my favorite player (always an away strip with their name and number) they leave the team the next year. Only one time (Cesc, woot!) has this curse failed. I have been waiting to buy my Flamini jersey until I take a trip to London. But after looking at finances and with the new baby on the way, I have pretty much ruled out the London trip and yesterday decided to buy my Flamini jersey. So, if he leaves at the end of the year, it’s my fault. I’m still buying the jersey though, because this may be the last time I can get one!  Do you hear me Wenger?  I’m buying a Flamini jersey.  You better lock him up with a 5 year deal or he’ll be off to Juventus or something disgusting like that.  And it will be my fault.

Anyway, I haven’t been too impressed with Diarra’s play and he’s acting emo by whining to the press about not getting playing time. So, I wouldn’t be too sad to see him go. Just, not to Tottenham. Send him to Newcastle, they are looking like they’ll need a replacement for Barton.

In other bizarre transfer news, Jens is simultaneously being reported as starting for Arsenal on Sunday and moving to Borussia Dortmund. Some places are reporting that he’s holding out for higher wages or something. I don’t know. Supposedly,Dortmund is going to have a conference today to clear the whole thing up. If he does move on it would be the fitting end to his Arsenal career to have his transfer saga marked by insanity and uncertainty.

Enough transfer drama.  How about some great news!? Robin van Persie is supposed to be back for the match against Birmingham on the 12th. May he never spend another day on the injured list! (I seriously doubt it)

Another piece of good news is the fine form Eduardo finds himself in. He’s in such great form that Dudu is promising to score 42 goals this season. In fact, he’s guaranteeing hat tricks in every match from here on out. Seriously though, he is a great finisher and literally the piece of the puzzle that so many of us wanted in last year’s Arsenal squad.  S, good for him for putting his head down and playing his way into the starting spot (Diarra, please take note.)

That’s it for now — it’s good to end on a high note. I’ll update the blog if something happens.

Happy Friday.

03
Jan
08

No real news

Good day to you dear readers! You’ll notice that I have a new link in my blogroll — every time I say “blogroll” it reminds me of “bog roll” which as some of you may know is what Brits call toilet paper. One day I’ll get around to changing that from “blogroll” to something else. Anyway, welcome to our new friends from EPL Talk. He seems like a nice enough guy and his blog has a lot of good stuff on the transfer market.

And on that note: the first bit of transfer news is in and Matt Connolly is off to QPR. He will be dearly missed. Actually, he’ll probably be off to a great career like so many other young men who have come through the Arsenal youth system.  Or maybe he’ll just be a tremendous dick like David Bentley.

Barcelona are blowing hot air about Hleb, or maybe Alonso,but certainly Cesc, but they have their eye on Hleb. Yes, Hleb. At the end of the season they will definitely have their eye on him.

So far, that’s it. If something huge happens you can sleep soundly knowing that I will be on it…

I guess I could talk a minute about “Prawn sandwich gate II.” I guess Sir Whiskey Face got mad at the Old Trafford fans for not being behind their team enough during their 1-0 win. Uhhh. OK. So, naturally, the fans are hitting back and comparing Old Trafford to a police state. Now, I find the fan’s reaction particularly offensive. I mean I LIVE in a police state; illegal wire taps, torture, indefinite internment, spying on our citizens. If anyone has a right to over react and accuse their authorities of fostering a police state it’s America — God Bless it. Old Trafford is more like a weekend at one of those all-inclusive places in Mexico. You know, the places where Americans go so they can simultaneously escape America yet not be confronted with anything un-American like poverty, dirt, or Mexicans. So enjoy your prawn sandwich and quit yer bitchin. You get what you pay for and Glazer paid a lot to have a sunny vacation spot in Manchester and he doesn’t want it ruined by hooligans.

OK, to be serious for a minute. I’ve only been to two EPL matches: one at Highbury and one at Emirates and yes, the crowd noise is different in the new stadium. And yes, it does say plainly on the ticket that people who are caught standing will be ejected. Even given these police state limitations on my right to obstruct the view of some 10 year old, both crowds managed to make quite a bit of noise. Far more than I’ve heard at most American sporting venues. Hell, if you want a funereal atmosphere, go watch the Seattle Supersonics play the New York Knicks. I think that game might legally require one of those “may cause drowsiness/do not operate heavy machinery” warning labels. I’m fairly certain that what’s going on here is pining for the olde days of terraces. But you can’t have both a team that buys every expensive player in the world and a working class team, pal. Sorry.

It could be worse.  You could be forced to attend a Chicago Fire match in which the incessant beating of kettle drums and spine chilling drone of those stupid horns is what amounts to “crowd noise.”  I can’t even stand to listen to those matches on television because the boom boom boom and bruuuuuuuu bruuuuuuu bruuuuuu is grating on my very last nerve.  I guess what I’m saying is, Man U fans should enjoy your prawn sandwiches, inflated ticket prices, and solemn atmosphere.  You made a bargain with the devil and now it’s time to pay the price.

Which is yet another reason the Arsenal is so special.

Ok, that’s about it for today.  I’ll let you know just as soon as Lehmann is moved on to Dortmund or whatever gulag archipelago he is to be confined to for the rest of his natural life.  The nut.




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