Posts Tagged ‘Rosicky


Look who’s coming to Porto


Eboue is going to play against Porto. Which should settle all this debate, right? The boss is playing the player and unless there are extraordinary circumstances, I seriously doubt that the traveling Arsenal supporters will boo Eboue. In fact, he’ll certainly get a warm reception and with all the press brouhaha over the incident at the Emirates on Saturday he’ll probably even get a ton of leeway.

I just want to answer a couple of things that have come up here and in other forums so that we can put this to bed once and for all. 1. Where the fans a “disgrace?” 2. Is this a witch hunt? 3. Where do we go from here?

To the first, I say no. Look, I see this stuff here in the comments all the time. Fans, short for fanatics, are passionate about their club. Sometimes they are passionate beyond reason and so, I applaud the supporters who can sit through the performance that Eboue put in on Saturday and not get vocal: that takes a combination of compassion and self restraint.  I couldn’t do it, especially not in that game.

This was a very tense match, the fans and the players were desperate for Arsenal to get a win so as not to follow up a big game win with a “lesser” team draw, or worse. As the game progressed, the tackles got harder, and as the Arsenal pinged balls off the post and generally started letting Wigan get some belief in this match, our tension level rose. There we sat, on the knife’s edge between heartbreak and joy and when Eboue stole the ball from Toure and passed it to Wigan, I think a large number of us broke and saw heartbreak looming. Then when Wenger yanked him, they broke down and acted out their baser instincts.

People ask what would happen if Fabregas did that, or is this just irrational Eboue hatred? Well, I can’t see Cesc doing that, but if he did, I think he would get some stick: he hasn’t been playing up to his high standard this season and I’ve already heard some grumblings. But it’s still not the same: Fabregas has never been labeled by his own manager as a cheat.

Eboue has a long, long history of on-field histrionics which makes him excruciatingly frustrating. One game he’ll be incredible, the next game he’ll be lazy, diving, feigning injury, or stealing the ball off Toure and passing it to the opposition. It’s not a witch hunt, but there is a long history here of bizarre behavior by the player which makes it even easier for the fans to get on his back when he’s had another of his poor performances.

But so what now? It doesn’t do any good to boo him, as Yogi’s Warrior points out, and may even hurt team morale. Given that Wenger is going to play him and play him in whatever position he feels best, there really isn’t a choice: we support Eboue. We tone down the rhetoric a bit, back off him, let him play and get on with the season.

Arsenal still have a lot of work to do this year, next up is taking top marks in our group by securing at least an away draw against Porto. I’ll be there rooting for Eboue to bounce back and put in the type of performance that the club, the fans, and he all deserve.

Enough of this story, right?

News Roundup

The boss has said that Rosicky will be back in March “at the earliest.” So, now it’s March, don’t be surprised if you see April mentioned and then next month, “next season.”

Eduardo is going to play for the reserves on December 16th which is another step closer to first team action. I wonder if he’ll be our Christmas miracle in the Boxing Day away match to Villa?

I don’t know what to think of the fact that Simpson, Hoyte, and Gibbs all might go on loan. There’s not much cover at the full back spot so I’m kind of surprised that he’d loan out those players. Simpson is a no-brainer, with Eduardo coming back there’s no room for him and I’d hate to see him rot in the reserves — he’s got a lot of class and I think a bright future. Maybe Wenger has a defensive target in mind for January?

We’re being re-linked to Alonso, but I’d be shocked if Liverpool allowed that switch to take place. Their midfield is humming along very nicely right now and Xabi is a crucial part of that. That same article mentions that Arsenal are looking to buy Yaya and Kalou, so take it with a HUGE grain of salt.

Heh, I bet Arsene loans out all the youngsters and doesn’t buy anyone in January. Just to piss us all off.

I’ve got to go to work now and I’m going to try my hardest not to boo my coworkers when they screw up. I’ll report back on my success or failure tomorrow.


Eduardo’s back?

Arsenal first team coach Boro Primorac has been quoted as saying that Eduardo participated in some light training with the squad on  Wednesday. Don’t get too excited, yet, kids: he’s got a long way to go before he can play in a full EPL match. His touch, his nose for goals, and not to mention how he handles his first Joey Barton tackle could all take a while to heal.  But the good news is that his bones have mended and he’s out with the team again.

Here’s to continued good health and a speedy recovery.

Rosicky, on the other hand, has had yet another specialist and yet another surgery and is at least 8 more weeks out. Due to the nature of the injury and the length of his recovery so far, I remain skeptical that he will ever play for Arsenal again.


Good news on Eduardo

Arsene Wenger thinks Arsenal’s Crozilian goal poacher, Eduardo, could be playing “competitive football” again as soon as mid-November. Obviously, this is great news. Also obviously, with all the strikers that this team currently has I fully expect him to be brought back into the team VERY SLOWLY. There is absolutely no reason to rush Eduardo back into the team when we are loaded with Walcott, Vela, van Persie, Bendtner, and Adebayor. And the boss has said as much:

What I mean by competitive football is joining in completely with a normal training session. After that he has to come back to match-fitness. But he is ahead of where we expected him to be and that is fantastic news

So, he won’t be in the red and white in mid-November but what this does signal is that this long nightmare for Eduardo may be coming to a close. Fingers crossed.

More good news is that both Gallas and Toure will be available for the West Ham clash on Sunday. Sure, Sagna is not scheduled to return until Wednesday against Spuds which is a bit of a disappointment but after Song’s dreadful performance against a mediocre Fenerbahce squad, I can confidently state that I will be excited to see Gallas in defense (now I need to take a shower.)

It can’t all be roses, can it? There’s also some bad news; the boss has clarified that the Goal-Scoring-Elf (Rosicky) is not really progressing as they had hoped and will be out until January… at least.

Thought you all should know, now back to work!


Racism and Ramsey runs riot over the press

Good morning kickers, we had a greenlight on yesterday which always results in a ton of clicks and a few new readers. If you’re one of those new readers, welcome. Today’s big stories are Cesc has something to say about racism and Aaron Ramsey is the new Walcott.

Cesc Says Spain’s Not Racist

Us Americans like to believe that we live in a post-racist, or even racially transcendent culture. We see stories like what happened in Spain in 2004 with Sean Wright-Phillips and shake our heads in disgust. “That would never happen here,” we like to say.  But it does, Bethel School district, here in the glorious post-racial northern paradise of liberal Washington state is awash in racism. The simple fact is that racism exists in America, just like it exists in every culture.

But just because there are racial incidents doesn’t mean that we are all racists. If Bethel School District has a race riot with 2% of their student population participating it doesn’t mean that the whole school district is racist, does it? No and I think that’s what Cesc was getting at when he sort of mangled the quote that’s making all the rounds today

I don’t know if racism is the word, I wasn’t in the team when that match was played, but one of my team-mates was playing for England and he felt a little upset. They see us as racist, but I don’t think that we are. That is a bit extreme.

This is a tough topic for someone erudite to write about much less for a Spanish footballer, who feels the need to defend his country, to speak about off the cuff so let’s give Cesc a little room here and agree that what he was saying is “even though there have been incidents, not all Spaniards are racist.”

In a sense, I agree with him, what really counts isn’t the reaction of the 1% of fans who are racists but the reaction of the leadership of the team, school district, or other organization. If the leadership doesn’t do anything about it, then it’s pretty safe to say that the whole system is corrupt.

In Bethel, the administration has been working with the teens through education and, if needed, expulsion in order to try to put an end to this. That’s where it gets sticky with Spain. I haven’t seen the type of concerted effort to stamp this out that I’d like to see. First, what has anyone done since 2004? I mean, the FA (who should have been on this issue from day one, demanding change) the Spanish FA, UEFA, FIFA, team hierarchy, etc, what have they been doing for the last 4 years to stamp this problem out? Nothing. It’s a disgrace to see them suddenly refusing to play at the Bernabeu when the problem has been boiling for the last 4 years and very little was said and even less done about the problem.

And now, along comes UEFA and they want to take strong action against Athletico Madrid for their racism. You’re joking, right? This is the same UEFA who allowed a Zenit St. Petersburg to play in and win the UEFA cup even though the manager publicly refuses to hire blacks because the fans won’t have them.

I’m sorry but $30,000 fines and threatening to make teams play in a neutral place (it’s not a done deal yet) is just putting lipstick on a pig.

So, while I agree with what I think the sentiment was behind Cesc’s statement I completely disagree with his analysis. As far as I can tell, given the combined (non) actions of most of world football’s governing bodies, racism is not only very alive and well, it’s basically condoned. It is the shame of the modern game that such sentiment exists and it should be stopped through points deductions if necessary.

King Ramsey the First

Stuart Pearce has said that Arsenal youth, and soon to be Welsh full international, Aaron Ramsey is worth his weight in gold because he makes little tiny shirts out of whole cloth, or something. Meanwhile, some blogger at Setanta also feels like Arsene’s keen eye for talent may have spotted the best player of his generation on the evidence of that same England-Wales game which saw Rambo’s team lose 3-2 and yet him pick up man-of-the-match honors.

I’m happy for the kid that the press have caught on to his obvious talents. Now, his job is to keep his head down, ignore those press clippings, work hard, and help make Arsenal’s midfield of Ramsey, Wilshere, and Walcott the envy of world football. With Wenger’s patient guidance, I have no doubt this will come to pass.

Transfer Rumors, That I Made Up

The Mail is linking Arsenal with Sochaux cum Turkey striker Melvut Erding. I can’t see any credibility to this though, because Arsene has publicly stated that Arsenal have all the strikers they need (RvP, Ade, Bendtner, Vela, Walcott, Eduardo, and all the kids he’s bringing through).

No, the transfer rumor that I’m starting is that either Yaya Toure or Xavi Alonso are going to surprise the world and come to Arsenal in January. Both players have been linked to Arsenal before and both players are making no bones about their desire to leave their current clubs. The speculation in the press is that the two teams will do a straight swap but that seems a bit crazy if you ask me: both teams would have cup-tied players in that case. Unless there’s something seriously wrong with one or both of those players (so wrong that you wouldn’t play them in the Champions League) why would you intentionally cripple a crucial part of your team?

No, if either player moves on, it’ll be to a third party, like Arsenal. Then they could use the money to buy a non-cup-tied player. Come on Alonso — you could rule England at Arsenal with Cesc at your side!

Stephen Appiah is the other player that Arsenal has been repeatedly linked with but again there’s something not right with this story and I am going with “player wants too much salary and/or isn’t really fit.” Last month, he said that he was going to be signing with a team any day now and since then the story has changed pretty drastically from “I was going to sign, but now I’m looking to Italy” to now the wire has gone completely dead.  Since then West Ham have signed Tristan (a forward) and Arsene has publicly downplayed signing anyone else. Sorry kickers, as much as I’d like to think that Appiah would have rode in upon his steed and slew the dragons ‘oop norf’ I can’t see anything but the end of his career at this point. He did play 85 minutes for Ghana on the weekend and talked of being able to play again the next day but I’m sceptical about his fitness to be honest.

And finally, the Thomas Rosicky injury sideshow rolls on for another week. My loyal reader knows that I think his career is done, the injury he’s sustained is so unusual and in such a critical area that I cannot see him recovering (I hope I am wrong). And now, his agent has picked up on the rumor mill and is stating that Rosicky’s recovery is going along just as planned, his career is NOT over, and oh yeah, he’s even got another specialist working with him. Maybe he will play again. I’m not a doctor but I do know that January will be his one year anniversary of fitness. That’s a hell of a long time to be out. Good luck Thomas, yo’re going to need it.

Ok, well, that’s it for today. Until tomorrow.


Blackburn v. Arsenal — preview

Arsene Wenger spoke to the media ahead of Saturday’s trip to Ewood park and the questions were mostly transfer market with a chance of Theo and a smattering of match preview. But, before I get into all that, tomorrow is the very first 7am kickoff of the season! That’s 7am local time and since the only channel in the States that is offering the match is Setanta, I will be posted at Doyle’s (link on the right) tomorrow morning. See you there if you’re one of the locals — or if you’re in town!

Wenger on Supermaket Forces

Wenger and I are of the same mind on this one. How is it that City can come out and say that they will be offering £135m to Ronaldo in January without their being some kind of inquest by the FA? How is that not tampering with the player? And before you non-Arsenal readers (I have a few) point out, as the press did a while ago, that Wenger mentioned Barry and that somehow that’s the same thing. It’s not. You’re full of it. What Man U did with Berbatov and what City are trying to do right now with every player in the league is despicable. Arsene Wenger mentioning that Barry is a good player is a world apart from City saying that they will make a £135m bin, in January, for Ronaldo. The boss, as always put it best:

Football is not a supermarket, we have to all understand that. You cannot come out and say ‘we pay £250,000-a-week to Ronaldo and £135million’, when the player has a six-year contract with Manchester United. It is not possible or acceptable. 

Why bother have contracts at all?

His broader point though is even more important, and that is that there’s a destabilizing effect that money like ADUG is tossing around has on all aspects of the game. Already rumors are flying that Wenger will have to up Walcott’s salary to keep the flies off him next season. That right there is the epitome of destabilization: the kid scored one hat trick in one international game and the next day there’s talk of having to work a new contract to keep him at Arsenal.  

You only need to look as far as City’s new signing, Robinho, and his confusion over what team he really signed for in order to see the end product of this destabilization.

Injury Report

More than just about any other day this year, tomorrow’s team is going to be a mystery. First, the promised debut of new signing Silvestre may have to wait until Wendesday and I won’t be surprised if the guy gets moved back another few days on Tuesday as well — not that this is a pattern with this player or anything. 

Also doubtful is Samir Nasri, who may have some kind of knee injury. The club is being vague, only saying that whatever it was that kept him out of the France match may rule him out for tomorrow.

Rosicky was slated to return this month and was, by all reports, doing splendidly in his recovery. Then Czech coach Petr Rada spilled the beans and told the world that Rosicky’s knee failed him again. I will be shocked if we ever again see this player on the pitch in an Arsenal uniform.

Obviously, Eduardo cannot play yet, but Diaby might get a start tomorrow and in his favored central midfield role. I’m really interested to see 1) how Diaby handles the role; can he tackle without being reckless? can he hold back his attacking instincts? does he have that sort of “spider sense” that the defensive midfielder needs? and 2) will he play the whole 90 minutes without injury?

Which just leaves “rotation” as the reason that a lot of players will or will not see action tomorrow. Fabregas is fresh, having only played a 1/4 of an hour on Wednesday, so I fully expect him to anchor the midfield. Depending on the fitness of Nasri, Theo could (and should) be left out of the squad tomorrow so that he can be fresh for Wendesday.

This means that I fully expect Eboue on the right side of midfield and if’s “Key Battles” is any indication then both Gallas and Sagna will start in defense.

The other two defensive positions are up to the fitness of Silvestre, which means that Toure and Clichy will almost certainly play.

Up front we will see Adebayor (since he didn’t play for fear of death) and his partner will likely be RvP to start with Bendtner coming off the bench; Vela is out because it took too long for him to return from the Americas.

Given all of this, don’t be surprised to see a very strange lineup tomorrow.

The Opponents

Blackburn have proven to be a tough opponent even if Arsenal have run rough shod over them in the last handfull of matches (knock on wood) and I expect that new boss Paul Ince will have them up for the challenge tomorrow. Given the number of players Arsenal had out on Internationals and the fact that they haven’t had a practice together in a week and a half, I am nervous about this game. Arsenal haven’t had a chance to really gell yet and this latest international “break” could set that back a little. Plus, all the injuries and just plain tired legs… ugh.

Meanwhile Blackburn are coming off a 4-1 drubbing at the hands of West Ham and have had a week and a half to prepare for this game. They should be fresh and focused and Arsenal will be tired and distracted, so I’m going to say that a draw would be a good result for Arsenal, a win would be more than we should expect and a loss is not unreasonable.

We’ll see!


It’s a team, stupid

Oh Thomas…  just shut up already.

The World’s Least Reliable Newspaper ™ has reprinted a story from some Czech newspaper which quotes Arsenal’s ubiquitously injured Thomas Rosicky as saying

I hate everyone on the team.  Especially Gael Clichy because he lacks talent.   But also William Gallas because he is a huge baby.  Oh and Arsenal would have won the quad had it not been for those two.

…or something like that.  I don’t know what he actually said because A) I don’t read The Sun (not that I would trust their translation) and B) I don’t speak Czech so even if I were to see the original quotes I wouldn’t know what to do with them.

The important thing here is that Rosicky get on with rehabbing his knee/groin/thigh/calf/whatever and play some football and shut his pie-hole about the team and what went wrong last year.  It’s not his job to complain about teammates, everyone knows that’s why God invented bloggers.

Of course, this whole story could also all just be made up stuff from The World’s Least Reliable Newspaper ™ or a mixture of truth and fiction or… well, Rosicky is sort of denying it without really denying it.  If he were an American he’d just use the old “quotes taken out of context” canard.  Either way, this story is a non-story.  It’s not like Rosicky is actually part of the team, I mean, I haven’t seen him in an Arsenal uniform in a dogs year.

Speaking of injured players, Samir Nasri has been ruled out of the France friendly this week with a thigh strain.  What are the odds that he’ll be fit for Saturday against WoeFulham?

Transfer Speculation

After a summer where the press, literally, went alphabetically through the list of every decent player in the world and linked them to the team, the wire has suddenly and auspiciously gone dead.  This means one of two things; either Wenger is close to spending some of that pot of money he keeps promising us that he has or that he’s ready to stand pat because performances matter more than signings.

I have to admit that this whole juxtaposition of two equal and opposite stories on the dot com is a bit surreal at first glance but if you tease it out you can see what the grand scheme here is; that Arsene recognizes the fan psychology behind wanting a big signing and he’s trying to use that psychology to let you down easy.  In other words, there won’t be a £30m signing before the transfer window closes on September 1st.  There may be a small signing (>£5m), there is very little likelyhood of a medium signing (£5-10m), but there is absolutely no way that Arsenal are putting pen to paper with any team for any figure over £12m.  Here’s the relevant quotes to support my argument, they come out of both articles so bear with me.

Manchester United are in the £20-30 million bracket of the market, Chelsea are in an unlimited bracket, and we have to be in our own bracket – reasonable, but shrewd.

Basically, we balance the budget in the way we run the Club, I have the money available to buy the players, but we go into the competition with that target.

I think you always want to buy the players at the right price.

We have gone three or four years into a different policy [of bringing on our own players] which we have to see through.

Big signings reassure the fans, but performances are better.

And frankly, I agree with the man.  Football isn’t about wealthy patrons running around using the team as their personal prestige pot, outside of Chelsea that is.  For better or worse, Football is a business and it needs to be run as a business.  Right now, Arsenal’s business is in lean times, because they have just used a lot of capital to nearly double their capacity.  In a few years time, that condition will likely change and Arsenal will have bags of money (maybe) but until then, frugality is the name of the game.  Bringing in young men, molding them into team players, challenging for a trophy, and then selling them on for a profit if they ask to leave is what Arsenal is going to be about for the next 5 years or so.  In short, Arsenal are a selling club.  And so what of it?  Everyone says this like it’s a bad thing.

If Arsene Wenger’s talents lie in spotting a good deal and his nose for talent, then it behooves the business side of Arsenal to take advantage of that talent.  Just as any business uses the talents of thier best employees to maximize profits.

We, as fans, need to acclimitize ourselves to this shift in Arsenal because no, Arsenal cannot compete in the transfer market or salary wise with Chelsea and Man U.  That’s not the same as saying they cannot compete on the pitch: this is a solid team and though we lost two very important pieces from last year’s title race, we’ve replaced one (Hleb) with a player who’s not afraid to shoot and score and can put in a decent cross and we’re trying to find a replacement for the other.  Either that will come from the existing squad or from abroad. Either way it’s not going to cost the team £20m to do it.

And I wouldn’t be surprised one bit if next week we see the “This squad is big enough” story.  After all, if the squad were in need of bodies, would the team really let Hoyte and Nordtveit go?


10-2 to the Arsenal!

I have to admit; I’m getting excited for the new season.  I know, we’re three and a half weeks out but I’m still excited and yesterday’s 10-2 drubbing of some pub team in Austria only helped raise the level of excitement a bit.

It’s not the score line that got me excited, it’s the fact that some of the young players looked so good.  Jack Wilshire in particular is pretty obviously a rising star in the Arsenal academy.  Yesterday, all he did was score 2 goals and set up Theo for another.  Now, Wenger has warned us all not to get too excited about the player while at the same time reminding us that Wilshire is the only 16 year old that he’s brought with him to the camp.  It’s too early to say “he’s the next Fabregas” but I would not be surprised at all to see this kid get his chances in the League Cup and maybe even a Premier League start.  Just like Fabregas did when he was 16 (ZOMG!!! He’s the next Fabregas!)

The rest of the team is starting to shape up as well, with only two players still ruled out due to injury; Rosicky and Eduardo.  Rosicky is still recovering from a May knee surgery, which he underwent to correct the problem that had plagued last season with niggling injuries, and will be out until at least September.  Don’t be shocked if that date is moved to October then November, etc etc.  I’m just going to say it: this season really has to be his last chance at the club.  If he’s injured again this year, I say sell him on.  There will no doubt be a significant loss in transfer fees but it has to be worth it when you consider the gaping hole on the right side of the midfield that is filled currently with Eboue.

Meanwhile, van Persie, Arsenal’s other ubiquitously injured all-star, is praying for an injury free season.  Me too, his goal scoring (nearly 1 goal every two games), vision, powerful free kicks, and footballing guile are all needed if Arsenal are going to seriously challenge for silverware this season.

I don’t know who’s going to hold all these sick ward players together now that Gary Lewin is off to be chief Physio for the England national team.  Though I make light of this, it is a tremendous loss for Arsenal.  Gary’s quick thinking is widely credited for saving Eduardo’s foot after he was brutally attacked by Martin Taylor.  Good luck Gary and thanks for 28 years of service to the club.

And finally, Arsenal are rumored to have bid £5m for Goekhan Inler.  I’ve watched him pretty closely in several games and remain unimpressed; he reminds me of a poor man’s Gilberto.  That said, he’s a physically solid player and if Arsenal do buy him we can trust that Wenger will polish him up and turn him into something he currently is not.  If that happens, £5m would seem a good bit of business.

That’s it for today.  There’s a friendly against VfB Stuttgart tomorrow which is supposedly going to be broadcast live via Arsenal TV.  If you live in the U.S. you can NOT watch the match on Setanta, according to my research.  Oh well.

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