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Posts Tagged ‘Transfer’

Arsenal: Borussia Dortmund Preview, AST AGM

In Arsenal, AST, Campions League on September 12, 2011 at 9:18 pm

First things First – Dortmund Away

Tomorrow brings back the Champions league format for 2011/12 season and will be held in that big German spare tyre known as Munich’s Allianz Arena.  As German spare tyres go it always makes me think of Helmut Kohl for some reason – I mean, who’d want to be referred to as a big Helmut!

Anyway, moving on, as the journey proper starts in Dortmund and this could prove to be a tricky test.    They’re the champions of Germany (so obviously unseeded and in pot B for the draw) and they are renowned for having quite an atmospheric stadium with both seated and standing areas allowing for a capacity of just under 81,000 fans.  It has also been noted that they haven’t had the best of starts to the season currently sitting at 11th in the Bundesliga after an indifferent start.  Nothing Arsenal fans could potentially imagine of and it’s obviously great going into a game against a team struggling to find form……..oh.

The line-up for Dortmund could be quite interesting and if I were to choose the players on the comical merit of their surnames I would go for the following:

Weidenfeller

Koch – Kringe – Hummels – Piszczek

Bender – Goetze – Großkreutz – Kehl

Zidan – Le Tallec

Arsenal go into the match with a couple of players hoping to be on the plane not making it.  Aaron Ramsey has picked up an ankle injury in training and to be honest I think a rest wouldn’t be a bad thing for Aaron at the moment given the amount of match play he’s had recently.  It’s one think getting an ankle injury that you can recover from but it’s another getting a Jack Wilshere injury that seems innocuous at the time but end up being 3 months on the sidelines.

Tomas Rosicky is also going to be out of the game and I’m sure he’ll be gutted at missing the chance to return to his former club once again. 

So with this in mind the squad that travelled to Germany was only 18 men strong and with Ramsey out it’ll be interesting to see who will play in the centre of midfield.  If Wenger sticks with the 4-5-1/4-3-3 formation then I would imagine that Gervinho would come in for Arshavin and would he be willing to play both Song and Frimpong in the middle with Arteta just sitting in front.  Could you imagine that?  A Song/Pong tag team in the middle of the park and if any player was lucky enough to get between then then SMACK Mertesacker will be straight onto him.  If so, then I would imagine the line-up would be something like this:

Szczesny

Sagna – Mertesacker – Koscielny – Gibbs

Song – Arteta – Frimpong

Walcott – RvP – Gervinho

Tomorrow’s came is the start of a two-match ban extension to the one imposed by UEFA for Arsene not using his own phone to speak to the bench against Sudanese.  Which in turn was a ban for the magnificent performance by Massimo Busacca in the game against Barcelona when he sent off RvP for continuing to take a shot some 100ms after the whistle had blown amongst 95,000 squealing fans in the Nou Camp.  Therefore, Pat Rice will effectively be in charge tomorrow so no doubt we will see lots of flapping of arms from the touchline.

AST AGM

On another note, the Arsenal Supporters trust held their AGM this evening and whilst I was not in attendance the great job of certain Tweeters gave the wide audience a true insight into how the AST keeps the current Arsenal management team on their toes.  And rightfully so.  From the snippets I’ve seen it there were some great insights to many of the questions of the tip of fans tongues:

 

Are the fans committed to the running of the club Yes The fanshare scheme is only a year old and currently has 2,000 members and has invested over £1M.
Does this run against the plans of the current owner(s) Yes Due to demand from fanshare scheme there is not enough shares available (in a capitalist world this must push up the price).  Current owners “cooling” on previous promises for increased fanshare

£2M was raised by selling Armoury bricks (wonder if that includes maintenance outside shop entrance/exit?)

Arsenal unable to meet wage demands of players Not true Arsenal currently 4th highest wage payers.  Current structure though means that persistently injured Abou Diaby is on a higher salary than the highest salary earner at Spuds at £60K a week (A WEEK)

This means that it is hard to differentiate top earners amongst the squad.

New Stadium Hindering Progress Yes/No Arsenal is not getting the same value in the current market compared to other clubs.  The number of partners is currently limited to long term exclusivity deals.  This hinder underlying revenue for club rather than just impacting transfer budget.

Transfer budget currently stands at £50M following summer activity.  Therefore, this has actively not been spent.

Therefore reduced income can only translate to increase ticket prices which impacts fans rather than owners

Reinvestment in the squad is not available No As mentioned earlier, the transfer fund currently sits at £50M.  This is the amount left after recent transfer window.  Money said to be spent only on players that can improve the squad.  However, with revenue linked into aforementioned commercial partner deals the only way to increase revenue would be to have more success on the pitch.  Double dilemma at the moment as current squad does not have the depth to push on through the final stages of the season in 4 separate competitions.  Therefore, no investment, no progress.  No progress, no prize money.  No prize money, no investment, etc., etc.
Arsene not willing to spend money True The transfer policy for the club is between Arsene Wenger and Ivan Gazidis.
Are the board/owners actively managing Arsenal? It would seem not The perception is the Kroenke is not driving decision making at Arsenal and his investment in a strategic one.  All team management and to that extent, the strategy of the club, is driven by Arsene Wenger.

As highlighted above, the fanshare scheme could be at risk due to neither Kroenke nor Usmanov willing to release shares and Usmanov only releasing the same number of shares than Kroenke.  Suggest that only individual purposes are being served rather than embracing fans desire to be more involved.

 

Looking back over these comments there are some big areas of concern. 

The financial power that Arsenal may have had a few years back has gone and whilst it appears that it is not the actual debt of the new stadium that is holding the club back it is in fact the deal that were negotiated at the time that may have lacked a little foresight through the life the of terms agreed.  This will impact the club for the next 3-4 years at least. 

Furthermore, and reading between the lines, there is a strained relationship between Gazidis and Kroenke with Ivan struggling to get Stan to commit to anything or become more involved in the over-arching strategy and implementation.  I have been critical of the squad’s development since Gazidis joined the club and this was before Kroenke was heard of at Arsenal.  There seems to be some conflict here and as to what the resolution will be we will have to wait and see but this dynamic may not be something that will stand the test of time – something will break.

What’s also concerning during the intervening period is that fans can expect additional trauma with transfer situations like the Nasri debacle that was just experience.   Long term contracts needs to be resolved for Robin van Persie, Alex Song, Theo Walcott and Thomas Vermaelen and with the spectre of every Arsenal fans favourite agent, Darren Dein, hanging over these deals then we have some rocky times ahead.  And people still cry out for the return of David Dein………!

There will be more detail on the AST AGM via various channels but I’ve filled in my forms already for the AST and they have a stake at the top table and with the right approach, they have the chance to influence the future of the club.  Thanks to @legrove and @DarrenArsenal1 for the updates during the AGM.

Right, bring on Dortmund tomorrow – love a bit of Champions League!  Until then, Auf Weidersehn Pet.

GG

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Arsenal vs Swansea: Pre-View, Press Conference, Table Predictor, Fans Support

In Arsenal, Premier League 2011/12, Wenger on September 9, 2011 at 10:45 pm

Pre-Season Is Over:

 

As I have been discussing in recent posts the facts tell the truth and Arsenal currently have only 1 point out of a possible 9 due to the slow movement within the transfer market over the summer.  Yes, we’ve seen recent activity and vital strengthening in the final 48 hours of the transfer window but was this at the expense of not getting at least a win against a somewhat inept Newcastle team.  Conceivably, there could have been a chance to have pushed for a point or 3 against Liverpool who really overcome an embattled Arsenal defence who had been reduced to 10 men and lacked the experience and resilience to close out the match to the 90th minute.

So we have to deal with the situation as it stand and whilst we turn our noses up at the old clichés churned out by member of the club taking each game as it come and the next game is the most important one there is certainly a sense that the situation Arsenal find themselves in is somewhat self-manifested.

What impact doe this potentially have on the final league standing come May?  Who knows but looking at the Castrol Premier League Predictor tool, based upon home and away scoring coefficients (hmmm nearly got a bit too technical there), the best we could expect in 3rd.  Better than some pundits would anticipate Arsenal on achieving and it would certainly be an improvement upon last year but we’re too early into the season to be grateful for 3rd in the final league standing and we’ll continue to review this prediction through the season.

As nice as this looks it would be really nice if the folk at Castrol could crunch a few more numbers to calculate when we can celebrate St. Totteringhams day!

Press Conference

 

Arsene’s first main press conference since the transfer deadline passed took place earlier today and included a mixed smattering of questions on missed transfer targets, squad updates for tomorrows game as well as how well equipped Arsene feels the squad is to compete in all four competitions on offer this season.

With regards to injuries, both Thomas’s (Vermaelen and Rosicky) have been added to the injury list sponsored by Diabyshere as well as Ryo (and he hasn’t played yet!).  Vermaelen is expected to be out for 2 months following his “secret” operation and Thomas Rosicky is recovering from a knock whilst on international duty and is expected to returned for the first Champions League fixture away against Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday.  Something tells me he might try to ensure he’s fit for that game……

The team is still also impacted by suspensions with three players out following recent red cards activities.  Gervinmho, Alex Song and Carl Jenkinson will all be suspended for tomorrows game but Frimpong will return to Premier League action.  Whether this will be in the starting line-up we’re yet to see.  Other potential absentees could include both Park and Santos who are both in the squad but face minor challenges to make it onto the pitch.  Park is currently stuck is Paris with visa issues to get into the UK whilst Santos is said to be a little short of match fitness.

This makes predicting a starting IX somewhat difficult but I would expect something along the lines of the following:

Szczesny

Sagna  –  Koscielny  –  Mertesacker  –  Gibbs

Benayoun  –  Frimpong  –  Arteta – Ramsey

Walcott  –  RvP

There is certainly a lot of anticipation as to how much of an impact both Benayoun and Arteta will make on their starts.  Arsene was open in that he recognises both players can complement that style that Arsenal likes to play

“I expect him (Arteta) to make an immediate impact  and even as well, Benayoun as they are technically tidy”

The question was asked of Arsene as to whether the unusually flurry of last minute signings was as a consequence of the game at Old Trafford.  To which his response was:

“Not really and some of the transfers were linked to players going out. Like Santos and Park because I knew Bendtner would go out and Traore would go out.”

He also went to add:

“The squad is stronger if you look at the squad we have now and you imagine a midfield with Wilshere and Diaby coming back plus the players like Vermaelen will come back soon I think we have a more mature squad and that is as well important as we will have players with of experience and a good attitude.” 

In this response he did not really recognise the void that Nasri and Fabregas left following their departures as this was still an area that was recognised as a need for strengthening whilst they were still present so the two new midfielders will offer something different but whether this is still progression in that department is still yet to be seen.

The addition of Mertesacker in the short term only covers over the cracks in Vermaelen’s tendons but they will hopefully develop a formidable partnership when playing together.  Santos is certainly an improvement over Traore and will leapfrog Gibbs and if Park can control a first time ball then he has an advantage of Bendtner already.  So I have to agree with Wenger slightly when he says the squad has become more mature and experienced following recent acquisitions but there is still depth that needs to be added to ensure that this squad has the durability to last the whole season.

This was also something picked by John Cross in the Mirror when trying to validate the so-called Arsenal Injury Jinx.  The fact is that other teams have consistently had enough depth in the squad to carry injurys to the first XI.  What was interesting today was Arsene’s comments about Jack Wilshere injury.  The aforementioned article looks to allay concerns that players are being over-trained and over-played (the so called ProZone Red Area) but whilst Jack’s ankle injury was put down to bad luck he did seem to suggest that he had overused Jack towards the end of the season.  So Arsene is still yet to address this lack of squad depth and we’re still in a scenario where we’re fielding players in the very infancy of the first team careers – we can only hope that this will change furthermore in January.

Expectations from Swansea

 

In yesterday’s post I raised the point that it is usually for a home game against a newly promoted team of Swansea calibre to generate such pre-match interest and this is predominately due to off pitch activities around Arsenal.  However, Swansea have earnt the right to be in the premier League and Arsene is certainly treating them with respect in terms of how he will approach the game.  They’ve not had a bad start to their season considering their aspirations and after the 4-0 defeat on the opening day they’ve started out early in becoming misers for conceding goals with two 0-0 draws in their last games. 

“What they have achieved is absolutely magic, at this moment last season, no-one would have given them a chance, so what they have done is absolutely fantastic.
 


“Swansea are a team who look at the numbers who are one of the four or five best teams in terms of passing ability.”

We will see whether or not Swansea suffer from stage fright and they were certainly very active during the recent transfer window and we shall also get to see if their team will gel quickly. 

However, it’s odds on that Arsenal will win tomorrows game with a greatest likelihood of a 2-0 home win.

  

Fan’s Support

 

Earlier this week there was talk on unrest and splits within the fanbase and protest were being planned against the board outside the ground.  These have been subsequently cancelled now (but I think the billboard poster will still be there) as there has been a realisation over recent days that everyone needs to get behind the team and especially the new additions to the squad.  Football is a results based industry and yes, there have been frustrations that the team have been under-equipped for the task in hand but the only real role that the fans can play at the Emirates tomorrow is to make the atmosphere as raucous as they can and help unnerve the Swansea players so that Arsenal gets the result that it needs.

Bring on Saturday and another afternoon at the Emirates – I can’t think of anywhere else I’d want to be and am looking forward to toasting a victory during post-match drinks.

Come on you gunners!!!

GG

Arsenal Transfer Targets Spotted at Airport

In Arsenal, Transfers on August 31, 2011 at 4:18 pm

Totally reliable, honestly!!!  It looks like Arsene is trying to sign a brand new team and they’re flying in as I type……..

Oh the joys of transfer deadline day titter tattle!!

GG

Arsenal: The Transfer Saga Continues

In Arsenal, Transfers on August 30, 2011 at 10:26 pm

Pre-amble:

For the past two seasons there has been one consistent topic of discussion in the footballing fraternity:

“What is Arsene Wenger thinking?”

“Why doesn’t he recognise that he needs a goalkeeper, centre back, additional creative midfield outlets, and a striking foil for RvP?”

It was plain and obvious for many outsiders to see and painful for each Arsenal fan to ensure as Arsenal XI’s continued to fail when needed to push on and win some silverware.

And the most recent response? During the summer we have seen Arsene ship out Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri, Gael Clichy, Emmanuel Eboue, Jay Emmanuel Thomas and long-term loan deals for Denilson and Carlos Vela.

The replacements? Gervinho, Carl Jenkinson, Joel Campbell, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain all of whom bought the number of Premiership games experience……0 (zero).

Sunday:

Arsenal were given a few home truths regarding the strength and depth of the squad and endure a humiliating defeat at Old Trafford.

Monday:

The morning after the night before. All that could be heard was what changes need to happen and will they happen and if they do, is there enough time.

Monday evening/Tuesday:

It all kicks off and that £100M kitty started to burn a hole in Arsene’s pocket:

Chu Young Park – Monaco striker and South Korean captain was halfway through a medical process at Lille when all of a sudden it was rumoured to be travelling to London to finalise a deal to Arsenal. What this will do for any hope of a future deal with Lille for Eden Hazard is yet to be seen but Park is now an Arsenal player. Chu is 26 years old and has won 53 caps for the South Korean national side (17 goals).

Andre Santos – up to a week ago the Brazilian left back was looking forward to a season of Champions League football until Fenerbache were turfed out of the Champions League for match fixing and now facing potential self-relegation. Arsene has jumped on this opportunity to sure up the left side of his defence having cut loose the eternally under-performing Armand Traore. Santos is 28 and has won 22 caps for the Brazilian national side.

Per Mertesacker – Mertesacker had been linked with Arsenal previously in the summary and it had looked like that was another opportunity lost. That was until Joachim Low confirmed that Per had departed the Germany squad preparation to fly to London to tie up a transfer to the city. Personal terms are said to have been agreed as well as having passed a medical so all that is left is confirmation of a £10M move from Werder Bremen. That and the chance to get away from having to pick up the slack from Mikael Silvestre

If there was one signing that was needed this summer it was a new centre back to compliment Thomas Vermaelen and after all the talk of Gary Cahill and Phil Jagielka this signing is a real coup given the price, players age and national and international experience. Per is 26 and has won 75 (that’s seventy-five) caps for the German national side.

And who else?

It’s difficult to speculate 24 hours before a transfer window closes because there is going to be so much guff flying about that will never happen.

Will we make another supposed bid to Rennes for Yann M’Vila? Have Bolton now burnt their bridges over the Cahill transfer?

Will Yossi Benayoun or Mario Gotze (don’t google it!) being wearing red and white this season? If not, we’ll certainly get a first-hand look of the latter during the Champions League games against B. Dortmund.

There’s also the potential for a few more exits. The futures of Nicklas Bendtner and Manuel Almunia were supposed to be resolved this summer. There’s been more talk recently regarding Bendtners departure but very little for Alumnia. It will be interesting in a curious way to see what happens but if Bendtner does stay he could still have a role to play this season.

Also of late, if rumours can be beleived,u there has been some interest from Europe with Chamakh going to PSG on loan and Johan Djourou to Lazio. I’m not convinced that we can actually lose Djourou given the track record of injuries to Arsenal centre backs but a loan move for Chamakh could be a no-brainer. He’s not performing at the moment and if he can develop a bit more somewhere else then great. If not, going on loan puts him in the shop window for a potential transfer in the future.

Wednesday?

This is all very promising and there is still another 24 hours for Arsene to continue his spending frenzy before the window shuts. There’s still some work to be done as the weekend result clearly demonstrated that the current squad was severely lacking but there is now hope that there will be some more surprises to come. You can only hope that the relative lull in rumours in the past few hours is down to the Arsenal negotiation team are getting an early night tonight before a big day tomorrow. Let’s hope they’ve got plenty batteries in the phone, paper for the fax machine, ink in the pens to complete all the registration form and the premier league office on speed dial for final minute registrations.

Roll on transfer day, it’s nice when you’re involved but if it turns out to be any anti-climax there’s always other channels.

Manchester United Vs Arsenal: 4 Reasons Why Today Was Inevitable

In Preimeri League 2011/12, Wenger on August 28, 2011 at 10:51 pm

What the hell was that!

Here’s my disclosure for today’s post:  I didn’t go to the game today, I do not subscribe to a TVsports channel owned by Rupert Murdoch, I only listened to the game on the radio and followed certain twitter feeds, I shall not be matching MOTD2 tonight.  I am still proud to be an Arsenal fan no matter how much it hurts…………..but today it bloody hurts!!!

Rather than go into the in’s and outs of a game that I thankfully did not have to view I put forward some reasons as to why the result today was inevitable and, in a painful way, might be the kick up the arse this club has gotten away with in recent time.

1.  Arsene Wenger

Turn on the radio and listen to any post-match phone-in and you’ll hear both sides of the Arsene Wenger.  No matter which side of the fence you sit there are some big areas of concern where Arsene seems to be shooting himself in the foot in his current approach to managing Arsenal.

Unwilling to recognize the teams weaknesses:  Time and time again we hear about this team’s massive potential and mental strengthness, however, this has never actually turned into results.  How many times in recent seasons have Arsenal struggled against the title challenging teams as well as against teams that should have been beaten easily.  Yes, there may have been the odd victory against ManUre and Chelsea but for every one of those there has been a Wigan or a West Brom or a Newcastle or a Bolton.  Teams that should have easily been beaten and would have been beaten by Premiership winning teams that have produced that mental strengthness every week to win games against the run of play.

Unwilling to recognise the failings himself:  There was a story of the news the other day about a man who had been sentenced the other day for faking his army career having never served in the army at all.  He had built up such a strong story to convince others that over the course of time he had convinced himself that the lie was in fact truth.  I’m not suggesting that there’s anything untoward in Arsene Wenger’s head but the analogy does hit home and a small dose of humility in that a new course of action may be required with the current squad.  If not delusional, then it would be more concerning that his approaching is complete arrogance and the current situation is entirely deliberate.

Poor morale within the squad:  We’ve heard some concerning stories this week including one in which the club captain sat down with the manager to discuss areas in which the team need immediate improvement.  No progress was be made and RvP was left completely perplexed in the ambitions that his manager has for the current season.  A season it should be noted in which Robin’s contract should be renewed in order to avoid another Nasri situation.  Furthermore, how much should we look into the non-signings of Phil Jones and Juan Mata. After lengthy discussions with both players we now found them playing for two of Arsenal’s main competitors but if money was not the issue then why would they have turned down the chance to play for Arsenal?  See also the “reason” why Nasri and Cesc left, the latter moreso when he in fact took a paycut to join a Barcelona team that still have Xavi and Inesta in their pomp.  It’s not  money but winning ambition.

2.  The Board

Why has the buying power of Arsenal dropped so dramatically?  This has been touched earlier but how much does the current insecurity of the board impact deals?  In the past year we have seen a boardroom tussle between Stan Kroenke and Alisher Usmanov with silent Stan apparently winning the battle.  Yet, what difference have we seen from an outsiders perspective?  By what measures is he deeming successful performance, and by this I mean in terms of investment purposes, because is the slide continues then unrest amongst the fanbase will ultimately result in left money in the coffers on a weekly basis.  Surely success on the pitch equates to success on the balance sheet?  At what point does Stan and the board intervene in either supporting the manager or not?

What role does Ivan Gazidis serve as Chief Executive?  Whilst he was not a direct replacement for David Dein the comparisons in Arsenals emptiness of the trophy cabinet are reasonably tangible and when, in November 2008, Ivan Gazids was bought in to take on a similar role it looked like the rocking ship was being stabilized. In fact, for the MSL power-broker whose crown jewel was brokering the transfer of David Beckham to LA Galaxy.  However, let us look at the signings made at Arsenal since the summer of 2008:

Season 2008/09:  Andrei Arshavin, Mikel Sylvestre, Amaury Bischoff

Season 2009/10:  Thomas Vermaelen, Samuel Galdino, Sol Campbell (2nd time)

Season 2010/11: Sebastien Squillaci, Lauren Koscielny, Ryo Miyachi, Kyle Ebecillo, Maurouane Chamakh

Season 2011/12:  Carl Jenkinson, Gervinho, Joel Campbell, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Of those, only 2 (3 if you include Sol Campbell) would automatically slot into your first team now – Gervinho and Thomas Vermaelen.  Not much return for 4 years work is it.

3.  The Players

The gaps between the players and the fans is becoming really evident now.  It was only 2 years ago when the Arsenal team would join up in the centre circle straight after the final whilstle for a final team talk.  OK, it all feel appart after that fateful game against Birmingham which Eduardo’s horrific injury and Gallas’ final minute tantrum.  However, there was comararde within the team and with the fans.  Nowadays, as soon as the whilstle is blown the players are straight down the tunnel without much recognition for the fans who pay the tickets that fund the wages.  For a club of great history and demand for respect towards the paying crowd this needs reinstilling amongst the current crop of players.  Fine, there are a minority that are still aware of need for a good rapport but the majoirty of players would be found guilty of not giving something back to the fans on matchdays.

Player Indiscipline:  Three premier leagues games into the new season and we have had 3 red cards and 1 retrospective suspension.  I haven’t seen the two yellow cards that Jenkinson received today so cannot comment (and never will) but for the other three suspensions that the team are having to suffer, they could have been avoid.  Song was petulant, Gervinho needed self-constraint and Frimpong’s first yellow could easily have been avoided.  The current Arsenal team need to be more savvy in the way they conduct themselves on the pitch to avoided such penalties because all they do is end up causing harm to the team by making themselves unavailable to play.

Inexeperienced Players:  I said this previously in the Liverpool aftermath, you cannot expect players with little premier league experience to be able to complete with other teams that have built up collective experience of number of seasons.  Add to that the mix of youth and it’s turned into a receipe for disaster.  I have no doubt that given the right football schooling, some of these new recruits will go onto shine for seasons to come but right now it’s like lambs to the slaughter and is coming across as naive management.   Whilst the youngsters should take a lot from the current experience, and (hopefully!!) be safe in the knowledge that it couldn’t get much worse, a club like Arsenal should not be in this position.

4.  Other Teams

Other teams have strengthened and have strengthened early.  ManUre made the majority of their signings at the beginning of the summer and entered their pre-season in the knowledge that their squad was pretty much complete.  Liverpool started in January and have continued throughout the summer.  Chelsea have been slow but this can be put down to Andre Villas-Boas coming in himself part way through the summer.  However, year-on-year Arsenal either leave it very late to make a signing or do nothing at all.  In fact, like the British railway system, Arsenal are now suffering from years of under investment whereas our competitiors having just gotten stronger.  Have a look at the table of net spenders in the past decade.  Arsenal are only trumped by Blackburn in the profit making stakes but the bigger area of concern is the net investment vs winning intent/desire of the club to be able to compete for the best players.  Can you imagine what Arsene might have acheived if he’s kept hold of his most valubale assests and then spent some more money on imporving that squad!!!

Time and again we hear commentators saying that Arsene should be recongised for what he has acheived with the players that he has had.  Fine, but there will not be a asterix next to Arsenal’s permier league standing in the footballing almanacs of 2068 stating *but fair play to Arsenal, they finished fourth but they had to deal with Chamakh up front and Eboue in midfield.

It’s results that count I’m afraid……..

So tonight’s post has been a little bit doom and gloom but reality hurts I’m afraid.  Today has been a time for a little bit of humility and soul searching to find the truth of the matter.  And if the truth hurts then so be it – anything that can make Arsenal stronger should be encouraged.

What reasons are there to be optimistic?  There is a core of players in the squad that are willing to stand up and be counted.  With the current club captain (Lord, let him stay fit) we have the right person to pick up the team and take them on to the next battle.  If Jack Wilshere and Emmanuel Frimpong could be nominated for World Footballers of the Year on the merit of their twitter accounts then they would be battling amongst themselves to be on the podium:

There is a core of players that do share a desire and have true heart for this club that need to rub off on the others in order to this team to evolve and become stronger.  If not, then I’m afraid they need to be shipped out.

Finally, and saving the best to the last, the best performance of the day would go to the away fans.  It’s not the first time that Arsenal fans have done their best to urge on the team midst the face of adversity and woeful defending  but the audible performance would have been heard around the world as 3,000 away fans out sang 73,000 ManUre supporters whilst they were 7-2 up.  To hear “I’m Arsenal ’till I die” was heart warming on a cold day for all Gooners and the club should recongise this.  And this is the point, this club is more than the players on the pitch, the state of the art stadium and the fancy merchandising and branding.  It’s about the soul of what it means to be an Arsenal fan to enjoy the good times and regroup and be strong during the bad and kudos to those who made every Gooner proud to know what it takes to be a fan.  The players who wanted to go off straight at the final whistle should take note.

Jack and Frimpong send their best!

*Jack seems to have deleted his posted so I’ve only got his retweet

So as this post comes to end we shall shortly see the transfer window close too.  Will these 3 days define Arsene Wenger’s career?  There’s only one person that can answer that, isn’t there Arsene…………

Keep the faith Gooners,

GG

When it rains, it pours………..of nothingness

In Arsenal, Liverpool, Transfers, Wenger on August 18, 2011 at 8:40 pm

Been a quiet day today really.

Rained a bit this morning.  Any new signings?  Nope.

Rained a bit more this afternoon.  Nasri gone yet?  Nah

P*ssed it down this evening.  Anything interesting at all?  Anything? Please!  Not a chance

Having a constant in life gives reassurance that the world is still normal.  It proves that there is order in life and reaffirms that British summers are simply lousy.   Yet it’s on days like today the only way to pass away the hours and minutes of monotony is to continually click the refresh button on your browser in the insane hope that your personalised NewsNow feed might have breaking news on the new super, smashing, great, out of this world quality signing, along with his technicolour dream coat.

Alas no, the sky just continues to open its big bulbous belly and rinse away any remnants of the summer that so could have been the one we’d once dreamed of.

In fact, you can tell that the news is a bit light on the ground when the best Arsenal.com can churn out that Theo has been taking part in a book signing at the club shop.

If it were a midweek break for a pointless International friendly then you would be accustomed to some of the fringe players being interviewed on how they are looking forward to proving they can fulfill that under developed ability to break into the first team squad.  Oh……..they’re going to do it this weekend you say?  Really?  There’s no one else who can start?  Wow!

Big responsibility actually and we’ll have a look at what Arsenals starting lin-up might be compared to Liverpool’s tomorrow.

Seeing that Arsene continues to treat August like it’s a pre-season training camp with no new signings coming in so far our pre-season squad will continue to carry on through to the end of the month.

The August pre-season schedule is as follows:

13 August:  Newcastle 0 – 0 Arsenal

16 August:  Arsenal 1 – 0 Udinese

20 August:  Arsenal – Liverpool

24 August:  Udinese – Arsenal

28 August:  Manchester United – Arsenal.

Here’s hoping that Arsenals pre-season continues with its current run of lucky good form so that when the first proper game takes place against Swansea on the 10th September, the team will finally know who will be playing where and also for real points……….ermmmm.

Tomorrow we shall see the pre-match press conference which is bound to include questioning on the lack of a first team squad for Saturday; how much interest does the club accrue on a daily basis from the transfer fund currently being underspent; and will Arsene get his own phone rather than having to borrow from his mate Boro P?

So many questions but not enough answers!

GG

Arsenal could be short on players at the weekend

In Arsenal, Liverpool, Nasri, Wenger on August 17, 2011 at 9:58 pm

Wouldn’t it be nice for just one day to feel confident that your team is going into the big game this weekend with a strong squad following a busy summer of transfer activities.  As we know, the Chief Executive Officer had promised:

“It is very clear we had some shortcomings and in this close season we are going to see some turnover of players. Some new signings will be coming in and some of our existing squad will be going out. As Arsène has said, it will be a busy close season for the club.”

It’s certainly been busy but not in the way you would like to see.  So far we have seen the exits of Gael Clichy, Cesc Fabregas, Emmanuel Eboue, Jay Emmanuel-Thomas and by tomorrow the likely departure of Samir Nasri.  In addition to this, some first teamers from last year have gone out on season long loan with Carlos Vela and Denilson taking time out in warmer climates. 

On top of this, the hard long season is already starting to take its toll on the playing staff with Wilshire, Rosicky, Djoruou, Gibbs, Traore, Diaby all carrying knocks and are unlikely to start on Saturday against Liverpool.  Off these, maybe Rosicky could recover in time.  This is now making both Gervinhos and Songs 3 game suspension even more critical that it may have appeared at the time.

So where does this leave the first team selection?  Tricky!  It could look something like this:

Defence:

Szczseny

Sagna  – Koscienly   –  Vermaelen  – Jenkinson

This was the back four that finished the game at Udinese on Tuesday and maybe Jenkinson is yet not adaptable enough to take the unfamiliar berth on the left.  The only other formation I can see at the back is that Squillaci goes into the centre of defence which TV taking the left back position

Midfield:

Arshavin  –  Frimpong/Rosicky  –  Ramsey – ?Walcott

This does very much depend on whether Rosicky can shake off the knock that he received on Tuesday night.  If not, then I can only see that Frimpong will start and play in Songs holding role but for someone who only made his Premiership debut as a replacement on Saturday against Newcastle this is asking a bit much.  Another consideration would be for Walcott to drop deeper into a 4-4-2 formation leaving our options for……….

Attack:

?Walcott  –  RvP  –  Chamakh

On paper it looks like a weak First XI can be put together but things start to get shaky when you consider who might be on the bench:

Substitutes:

Fabianski  –  Squillaci/Jenkinson  –  Lansbury –  Miyaichi  –  Oxlade-Chamberlain  –  Bendtner – A.N. OTHER

We actually only have 6 substitutes and with greatest respect to the youn lads in the team is a big-spending Liverpool and Manchester United the types of teams that you want to start cutting your cloth against?  It’s also highly unlikely that 2 substitute goalkeepers will be named on the bench.  This is highly embarrassing for a club that claims that it wants to challenge for the title this season.  To have a squad that it so threadbare is really difficult to comprehend and needs to be addressed immediately following another season of hot air and postulating about potential targets that disappointingly never seem come to fruition.

We’re still awaiting for the super quality signing Arsene and on this form maybe two or three before the weekend would be helpful.

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In other news we heard on Friday that Arsenal have agreed terms with Deportivo Saprissa for the signing of Costa Rican striker Joel Campbell we still awaiting final confirmation of signature with the player.  Earlier today, Joel was listed on the Arsenal.com First Team drop down list but this seems to have disappeared.  Apparently, he has desires on the number 12 shirt which is certainly free at the moment and it will certainly be good to see Campbell on the back of an Arsenal shirt once more.  However, fans should still be cautious about Campbell’s ability to adapt to the Premiership considering he age and experience.  Even the boss went as far to say in last nights programme notes:

“Joel is a young prospect, he has talent and he can play right, left or centrally,”

“We took a gamble on him but, from what we have seen, it is worth taking.”

Interesting note for fact facts:  There has now been a Campbell in an Arsenal shirt in the 80’s, 90’s, 00’s and now the 10’s.

With tomorrow being another day of not escaping the Arsenal merry-go-round that will included more transfer confirmation, speculations and likely frustrations it’s all becoming a little bit tedious.  It’s just the beginning and is unlikely to slow down until the close of the transfer window at the end of the month.  Maybe then, we can really have a look at the squad Arsene will have in order to mount a challenge for the league title. 

Let’s just hope we’re still in the running!

GG

 

 

 

Fab Times Were Had With Cesc

In Arsenal, Arshavin, Transfers, Uncategorized on August 12, 2011 at 9:25 pm

Whilst the deal has not been rubber stamped it looks like the inevitable is going to happen as it seems to be confirmed by certain players at Barcelona that Cesc’s departure is/has occurred.  They must be so proud of the ambassadorial role they play for their club with fellow European teams.

Cesc final gets his chance to return to his boyhood club and given their success over recent time as “the best team on the planet” then there’s bound to be the chance to be successful (especially in a two team league).  And there maybe that leaves open a unopen question, despite his mercurial talents did Cesc achieve what he could have done whilst at Arsenal.  Yes, he has an FA Cup winners medal to his name (alongside Euro and World Cup medals) there is a small part of me that will still think, if only……….and that most probably isn’t Cesc’s fault – effected by injuries at crucial times in recent seasons as well as a lack of depth and experience in the current squad that befits Cesc’s quality.  We all hear about the potential within the Arsenal first team but Cesc (and a fit RvP) has already realised that potential and the rest of the team seemed to be played catch-up.

Cesc’s times at Arsenal bought pleasure and delight on regular occasion.  His work ethic on the pitch was staggering and he had the unique ability to turn in game to his advantage in an instance.  I recall at a home game a couple of seasons ago (it may have been Sunderland or Stoke) where the first half was a dour affair and the travelling fans where hopefully that their team could sneak a cheeky away win.  That was until Cesc came on as a half-time substitute and completely changed the game on it head – the Emirates crowd witnessed a Cesc masterclass and pass the home fans and the away team had their breath taken away.

Similarly, when Aaron Ramsay had his leg broken against Stoke you could see Cesc (and the team) responded in the best way a player can and put the opposing team to the sword through persistence and pure brilliance.

And not only was Cesc know for his uncanny knack as being heralded as the master being creator for his teammates but he was also finisher of some amazing goals, some through ability and others through significance. Three that stuck for me were:

1. The goal against AC Milan was the icing on the cake of an enthralling performance at the San Siro in the Champions League

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It’s all a bit crazy at Arsenal

In Arsenal, Cesc, Nasri, Transfers on August 9, 2011 at 10:41 pm

I’m apprehensive about how Arsenal are going to perform during next season.  This coming Saturday there should be huge anticipation about a brand new season, players will have had a good summer break and should be biting at the bit to win something this year to make up for the shortfalls and nearly successes of the recent past (which is far too painful to recall for now). Yet, it doesn’t feel like it.

Instead, we face the prospect of losing the creative spine of our midfield (if Chamakh is to believed) or they may stay (if Rosicky can be persuasive enough).  Others players are supposed to be departing but they’re still being named in the team.  And here lies the problem, where do we turn for concrete information?  Whilst you have to admire Arsenals stance in not disclosing information on new signing until a signing has been completeed, the club recently admitted that they are powerless to prevent the media from creating various frenzies around speculative stories. I am pretty sure they could do a better job in confirming the pure conjecture to avoid confusion – at the time of this posting Arsenal have been linked with 155 potential signings this summer!  I understand that Arsenals scouting network covers many parts of the global but surely if you were looking to bring new faces into the club you would focus on key targets and ensure that everything was completed and successful in the shortest time possible.  I do feel that other clubs in Europe have been more successful that Arsenal in adopting this strategy.

Apparently this week we’re going to potentially see some new faces but I can’t help but feel that this means that we have not leveraged the pre-season friendlies and training enough to embed news players and styles for the start of a new season.  In the past couple of seasons we have had pretty reasonable starts (relatively speaking) but this season the start is somewhat trickier.  We start against Newcastle where the demons of last season second half capitulation need to be put to rest.  This is then followed by the return of Liverpool  who we are yet to beat at home in 3 seasons.  And before the month of August is over there is another home match against a Premier League challenger, Man Utd and you can’t help but think that you cannot waiting for a new team to click when facing such teams.

So yes, it’s all a bit crazy at Arsenal at the moment, the recent changes in the boardroom; players publicly admitting that they have no desire to stay at the club (which hurts when you would like to think that the vast amounts of money would mean that they can actually play for pride rather than concerning themselves with how the household bills will be paid); a lack of conviction in the development and strategy of the team and the club.  But today we live in a crazy world and whilst our civil society is crumbling around us its been quite reassuring to have one constant in life, the goings on of Arsenal FC and whether or not we might hear of that new glimpse of a headline that will give us fans the much-needed hope that our team will put in a credible title challenge this year.  It keeps me going and I still keep the faith, that’s addiction for you!

Later on this week we’ll have a look the squad for this year even though it is bound to change despite some names being included in the Champions League squad.  We can have a look at the strengths and weaknesses of certain positions but trying to nail down actually names to regular positions is currently as reliable at a Mystic Meg prediction.

Until next time!