Monday Bloody Monday

I have been drunk. A lot. I have also played some football. I have been busy this weekend trying to balance the drinking of excessive amounts of beer and still being able to turn out for two football matches. It is no easy task. You really have to wonder how Tony Adams and Merse managed it all those years. Still, I got what I wanted; two comfortable wins and a goal to boot. Even playing fullback for 45 minutes was fun, bouncing burly centre forwards off my wiry frame, and overlapping on the counter. It is a doss though. Compared to playing on the wing, fullback is like a walk in the park. That’ll probably upset a few people, but hey, it’s true.

Anyway, I’ve got some catching up to do after the weekend. You will have seen the results of the internationals no doubt, and will be aware that Eduardo and Tomas Rosicky scored for Croatia and the Czech Republic respectively. Thankfully there have been no injuries to report, and it’s good to see Lassana Diarra get 90 minutes for France, even if it was at right back. Hopefully he’ll be up to speed by the time we have to play Spuds and will be ready for selection in the squad.

A quick glance at the news feeds then.

Cesc Fabregas has been voted Arsenal Player of the Month, polling just over 50% of the vote. No real surprise there as the Spanish player has been awesome so far this season, scoring goals and doing his normal trick of being generally amazing. What is surprising though is that the guy everyone loves to hate, Alex Hleb, came in second. What?! I thought I was literally the only person who didn’t want him to go in the summer. Whilst it’s true that he can be the single most frustrating man in a red and white shirt, he has shown flashes of brilliance and I’m certain that before long we will get to see the real Alex Hleb. Once he figures out how to play his game on the right side, instead of the middle, old Hlebby will be a potent weapon much like our departed chum, Bobby Pires.

Another interesting story is that some bloke from America is planning to come and train with us in January. Some dude called David Beckham? I dunno, you may have heard of him, but all I know is that he’s some kind of attraction at LA Galaxy often seen sitting on the bench in a suit. He must be the mascot or something. Apparently, this Beckham bloke is going to train with the first team squad as the US “soccer” season finishes in the New Year and he wants to work on his fitness. Expect to see pictures of a bloke in suit at London Colney on then. In all seriousness, having Beckham at the club might provide some of the players the chance to see a model professional in action and tap into some of the experience the former England captain possesses. There’s no down side to this as far as I can see and if it helps raise the profile of the club a little bit more, then so be it.

Also worth a read (and it is a loooooooong read), is this piece in The Times. It’s all about Arsene Wengers ‘dark side’. The Frenchman is quite the hothead by his own admission and also admits that sometimes he loses it. No shit. However, it is a good read and a good insight into the mind of one of football’s luminary figures. As ever, Arsene comes across as an intelligent and articulate thinker and still seems to have the knack for making everything sound totally reasonable.

Finally, let’s all laugh at They are reporting that Johan Djourou will be “recalled” from loan in January. Yes, quite.

Sorry this is so late. Blame WordPress

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Wenger Signs On The Dotted Line

Morning all,

It seems like there has been a little bit of action on the news front, so instead of writing some guff about what I think about stuff, I thought I’d write something about what other people think based on facts rather than my own spurious guesswork.

I couldn’t write a blog today about Arsenal without mentioning first the excellent news that Arsene Wenger has finally penned a new deal worth a reported £75,000 a week. The four year deal sees the Frenchman staying at the club until 2011, coincidentally the same year that Cesc will either have to sign on again or move on for nothing. At 57, Wenger’s new deal means he will be 61 when the contract expires and we should really start some contingency planning for when he does decide to step down as manager. I am of the opinion that he’ll be offered a position at the club other than manager when this eventuality does occur, but what that’ll be is anyone’s guess. However, he might well decide to sign for another 4 years and retire at the normal age of 65. Hopefully when he does decide to call time on his tenure, he’ll do so as the most successful manager in the history of Arsenal.

I mentioned Cesc above, and there is an interesting story doing the rounds at the moment. In an interview with Radio Marca (Spanish radio causing trouble again – who’da thought) Cesc admits to having talks with Real Madrid in July. When you consider that AW stated during the summer that he did not give permission for anyone to talk to Cesc about a transfer, then you have to wonder what is going on. Surely this is a case of “tapping up” a la Cashley, and as such there should be some action taken by the club/UEFA/FIFA/God. I would enjoy nothing more than seeing Real getting a beat down from…well, anybody. However, Cesc seems happy at Arsenal, saying,

“We spoke for a long time. But it is absolutely not true I struck a deal to join them next year.”

“My decision to stay was clear and emphatic. I’m certain I made the right choice. No matter how long I may live, I will always know I was correct to stay. There were many reasons but chief among them was my respect for Arsene Wenger and the love I have for Arsenal.”

I’m a big fan of Cesc. He’s filling the void as my favourite player that Dennis’ retirement created and with each passing season he goes up in my estimation as a player. Mourinho will tell you that Lampard is the best midfielder in the world, which we all know not to be true, but if you can tell me how, based on this season’s form, that Cesc isn’t the complete package then I will take my hat off to you. I don’t normally wear a hat, but I will put one on and then take it off, as is my commitment to my belief.

It’s not all sweetness and light at The Grove though. We’ve got some disgruntled players in Bendtner and Lehmann. Nicklas is a little peeved at being left out of the squad that faced Portsmouth.

“I didn’t get any explanation. I don’t know why he did that and I’ll demand to know why and have a talk with Arsene Wenger when I get back. But what is said will stay between us.”

Oh he’ll “demand” and explanation will he? Not sure The Boss will like that. No doubt he’ll set him straight and Bendtner will be seen skipping down the halls at London Colney licking a big lollipop.

Also, Jens has the arse. When asked about whether he’s lost his spot as number 1 or if his Arsenal career is over, the German mentalist said,

“Such interpretations really get on my nerves.”

Oooh. Get him. But the stopper also added,

“Arsene Wenger will put me in the team again. I will play again.”

Good attitude Jens. And through his enforced absence and the competition created by Almunia’s solid displays, I expect to see an invigorated Jens back on his game.

Finally there’s some stuff worth reading about Kroenke in The Independent.

And now I’m off to do some work. Lucky me. Happy Friday.

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Internet Valium

Not a lot going on this morning. Not a lot at all. Some of you might be wondering why I didn’t post yesterday, and that was simply because there wasn’t anything really worth talking about then either.

If you count Giles Sunu saying he had offers from Chelsea and Man Utd before he signed for Arsenal or that Lehmann is/isn’t fit, then ok. Perhaps I should’ve posted. But in reality, everyone has offers from Chelsea and Man Utd before we sign them because they are so inept at finding their own talent they try to hijack other’s transfers. And Lehmann probably is still injured. For those who don’t think that he ever was, let me ask you as to why Wenger would lie about it? How in any way would that help the player get over his being dropped? Arsene may be very clever and that, but trying to invent a story out of the whole situation is just laughable. Naivety? Perhaps. But if you can come up with a plausible reasoning behind the decision to fake an injury I will listen to you, but until I hear it from the horses mouth I’ll go on believing that Jens’ Achilles is knackered. As is mine. I can still play though. I just means I’m sore(er) for a few days after, and that is why I imagine he is playing against Wales. Not that he’ll have much to do mind you.

It seems that debate rages all over the internet. A debate so fierce, that literally tens of reasonable comments have been posted. I refer of course to the pages that are running “who is the best team/worst team/most overrated team in the league”. You can filter out about 90% of the comments as they are by fanboys who slag off their teams rivals and big up their own. They amount to nothing much more than spam. But to even ask the question after 4/5 games is ridiculous. I guess it’s because the international break has caused a dearth of good stories and blogs et al are struggling to fill their pages (as am I), but it’s just a hit generating measure. It did get me thinking though.

Where do Arsenal sit then after the first 4 games? Well, in the league it’s second. And that’s only because Derby are pony. But to be fair, we’ve hardly looked like championship winners so far. It’s a good solid start and when faced with a similar one last season, the team buckled. This term we seem to have added an extra level of grit that has enabled us to grind out a result like Chelsea do every week. But we’re still doing it with a bit of style. It’s an extra dimension to our game and the only way to succeed in the Premier League is to evolve your style as the other managers will spot any weakness and pounce on it in flash. After the 2002 double, it was decided at some sort of league meeting that Arsenal would be kicked a lot to stop them playing. And it worked. Now this season, we’re giving as good as we get and still playing good football. And as a result we have been able to get points from games that last season we dropped points in, all the while developing our young squad players who have been well drilled in playing the system that Wenger favours. This is screwing with people. How do you beat a team that can play amazing football, and give you a good ruck too? From our perspective it’s levelled the playing field and a lot of managers that enjoyed success against us in the past with their brand of ugly physicality will have to rethink their game plans for this season. This is not to say that Arsenal won’t get booted all over the pitch and won’t lose a game all season, because we will and we will. But it’ll be a lot harder for teams to intimidate us as the youngsters have that little bit more experience, augmented by the steely captaincy of Billy Gallas.

Deficiencies are still present though. We still lack defensively. We have hardworking players and you can’t take anything away from their effort, but lapses in concentration still occur and at this level of football you will be punished for even the slightest indiscretion. Perhaps it is a preoccupation with attacking or simply lacking the right personnel, but the first choice back four aside, the back up just don’t seem solid enough and that could cost us.

We’re not exactly firing on all cylinders up front either. You can excuse it to a certain degree as all of our strikers are either used to playing alongside TH14 or haven’t played together before. Give them a few more games and I’m sure they’ll click, but we can’t rely on the improved goal scoring ability of the midfield to carry us to the title. Some people will tell you we should’ve bought more strikers, proven strikers, but from what I’ve seen of our 4, I think they are all good players. I do think Bendtner should get given more chances though as he’s always made an impact when he’s been on the pitch.

So who is the best team so far this season? In a word, Liverpool. That’s why they’re top. We’re just behind them though and a shite team from Derby apart, we could even be above them. Don’t get carried away though. If the league was decided after 5 games then what would be the point in the other 33? Let’s just all calm down and enjoy the season. The cream will rise to the top eventually and sometime in May the whole thing will all be over. But until then, there is a fantastic ride ahead of us and let’s hope at the end of it we have William Gallas holding the Premier League trophy aloft in the centre circle at The Grove.

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The Day Today

Morning all.

Let’s start with some football talk shall we? Well, yes we shall.

First up I should probably mention that as expected, Seville overcame AEK Athens in their Champions League qualifier second leg with a 4-1 trouncing of the Greek champions. A resounding 6-1 aggregate win sees the men with the oranges put the UEFA Super Cup defeat by AC Milan and the tragic death of Antonio Puerta behind them to join Arsenal, Slavia Prague and Steaua Bucharest in Group H. Even with the addition of Seville, the current UEFA Cup champions, this group looks decidedly winnable and I really can’t foresee any problems for Arsenal in qualifying from it – probably as winners. Then, no doubt we’ll have to play Barcelona at the first available opportunity. With the way the team is playing at the moment and assuming we get a nice draw in the 16, I see no reason why we can’t reach the quarters or semis without breaking much of a sweat.

And therein lays the answer to the question of why we have so many midfielders. I was pondering this t’other day and couldn’t for the life of me figure out why we’d bought Diarra (who is undoubtedly quality) when we already have Diaby, Denilson, and Flamini. Flamini apart (who I think is still a solid squad player) that is some bench to have. 3 potential first choice internationals just sitting around waiting for a chance to shine when Cesc or Bert are out. But then when you consider that some will get Carling Cup runs, some Champions League experience, FA Cup matches and league games, you can see that we need legs. Lots of legs. There is no question that central midfielders do the lion’s share of the running around and with AW’s youth policy and his buying wicked players policy, I can see him using all 6 players quite regularly. It’s not so much squad rotation, but using the “minor” competitions for giving them experience and then having options available for the bigger matches. This is the only reason I can see that would make Diarra sign for us when he left Chelsea in search of regular football. I expect him and Diaby to partner Denilson in the cup games and “take turns” in subbing on in the league. Either way, I’m happy we’ve got Diarra, and I’m very happy about having such a good central midfield lineup.

Onto the Afghan Hound look-alike, Robbie Savage then.

“Van Persie did a piece in the paper slaughtering us, which is wrong. It’s a man’s game. It’s physical. You’re going to get stuck in and make tackles. And they do that, so it’s very hypocritical of them.”

Who’da thunk we’d be cited for being a bunch of hard men? Anyway, it makes me chuckle that these Blackburn players and their manager keep coming out saying stuff about us moaning. Touched a nerve, have we? Guilty conscience? Either way, it’s still funny that Robbie Savage thinks he can criticise anybody. Take a look in the mirror pal.

Some good news for football. Dennis Bergkamp has been voted into the Football Hall of Fame. Congrats to Den, but also well done to all those that voted. It would have been a travesty if the Dutch legend hadn’t made the cut. Watching him play was one of the most enjoyable experiences of my footballing life. He is, and always will be, my hero. I don’t think there has ever been a player that did what Dennis did in the way that he did it. The special moments are too numerous to recount, but remember the goals against Leicester and that one against Newcastle and you will realise that Dennis was something very, very special and we were all privileged to watch him play in the red and white.  Gefeliciteerd Dennis.

Finally, Danny Fiszman has said he wants to take a more active role in the club and that no oligarch is getting his oily, steely hands on his shares. I promised myself that I wouldn’t write any more on this subject because I think I’ve said all I need to say on the matter, but I thought it was worth mentioning that Diamond Danny is stepping up to the plate and doing the right thing.

Sadly, it’s time for work. I’ll be thinking of you…

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Arsenal 3 – 1 Portsmouth

Another game, another 3 points and another 2 goals from midfield.  Say what you like about Arsenal missing Henry’s ability to stick the ball in the back of the net, the simple fact is that we are righting last season’s wrong of not scoring from midfield.  And doing it emphatically.

The visit of Portsmouth should’ve been a tricky affair.  Pompey are a good, honest Harry Redknapp team consisting of experienced players and the odd bargain basement youngster.  They’ve already done for Utd this season and also ran Chelsea agonisingly close (for football fans – not Chelsea fans).  However, as it turned out, Portsmouth were lacklustre and insipid and thoroughly got what they deserved.

In only the 7th minute a typically sharp looking Robin van Persie latched onto a loose ball that cannoned off a defender and was brought down in the box by David James.  Perhaps a slight case of the yips after the penalty miss against Man City prevented the Dutchman from taking the spot kick himself, but Manu Adebayor calmly placed the ball in the bottom corner with the minimum of fuss.  1-0 and cruising.

Arsenal were knocking the ball around very nicely and try as they might, Pompey just couldn’t keep up with the pace and struggled to assert themselves on the game at all.  They managed a few shots on goal, but nothing of any real note and all were dealt with ably by Almunia in the Arsenal goal.  I have to give an extra mention to Manuel who has looked every bit a top class keeper since his installation as “No.1”.  So much so in fact he has almost banished the memories of his first few seasons from my head.  And that is some feat.  No one was more critical of the Spaniard than I was, but this season The Crossbar King has looked solid, reliable and technically very good.

Ten minutes before the break Arsenal struck again.  A Tomas Rosicky corner was flicked on by Gilberto who’d ghosted into space at the near post and was blocked on the line by a combination of ‘keeper and defender, only to fall at the feat of Cesc Fabregas who duly poked the ball home from all of a foot.

2-0 at half time and the lead was most definitely deserved.  But things got interesting after only 4 minutes after the restart when Kanu got the wrong side of Senderos, and the big Swiss was adjudged to have brought him down.  Straight red for Phil, and we were down to ten.  My first thought was that it was deserved, but on seeing the replays on MOTD2 I think it was a harsh decision.  Phil didn’t trip, pull or run through Kanu – he just got close and the tangle of legs saw the Nigerian fall over just outside the D.  It was reminiscent of the Davis and Cesc incident in the Fulham game that Sanchez got his knickers in a twist over, so maybe a bit of karma was in evidence today.

Down to ten, and Pompey began to rally a little.  But this was short lived when Utaka bumped Clichy off the ball a little too roughly, and from the resulting freekick Cesc slipped the ball to Rosicky past 3 sleeping defenders and the Czech midfielder lashed a low shot into the far corner, hilariously nutmegging Glen Johnson in the process.  However, The 11 men of Portsmouth were not going to roll over and literally on their next attack scored through Kanu in the most bizarre of circumstances.  Trying to control a crossed ball on the turn, the Nigerian somehow managed to ricochet the ball off his standing leg and it flew into the net past Almunia with surprising pace.

The rest of the game saw good chances for both teams, but Diaby should’ve sealed the win with a fourth but inexplicably headed wide from 6 yards after clichy has put the ball right onto his head.

Of the game, Arsene said,

“In the first half we showed tremendous quality, and in the second half we were tested mentally and physically.”

But then he always says that.  He’s beginning to sound like a broken record.

So another win and that puts us second in the table, behind Liverpool (on goal difference).  With Chelsea losing to their “Bolton” and Utd having previously lost to Portsmouth, things are looking good so far.  With The Spuds visiting The Grove for the next game, there’s a chance for us to really get this season off to a roaring start.  Here’s to that.

And here’s to your Monday

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El Dein-ablo and Pompey Preview

Apologies for lack of posting yesterday.  A busy schedule involving mucho grande travelling and beaucoup de things to do meant I was unable to even get to my computer until midnight.  Ho hum.  I’m sure you’ve managed to immerse yourselves with all sorts of arsey goodness in the meanwhile, and in fact are quite bored already with all the David Dein talk.  I for one certainly am.  I am fed up of hearing about him and his dodgy dealings and how this and how that will affect Arsenal Football Club.  I DON’T CARE ABOUT DAVID DEIN.  I think the man is a prick and is essentially Judas incarnate.  He is the devil.

If you need further evidence of his sheer wankerishness, check these quotes of an interview in The Times;

“I know, from speaking to him, that Arsène intends to commit in the next few days. I wouldn’t have advised him to if I didn’t have Arsenal’s best interests at heart.”

*cough* Prick *cough* 

I want to see Arsenal become the best team in the world, and to that end I’ve been instrumental in getting Arsène to sign a new contract.”

*cough* Bullshit *cough*

“I don’t want to be adversarial, just the opposite”

Oh yeah, that’s right Dave.  That’s why you secretly tried to sell the club to Kroenke from under the board’s nose.  Co-operation wasn’t it.  yes, of course.

It doesn’t take a genius to see that these are all lies uttered from the mouth of a weasely little shitbag who’s only interest is getting rich off the back the football team he supports.  Enough of him.  Enough talk perpetuating his media presence.  Enough, enough , enough.

Footballistically, today sees the visit of Portmouth Pirates FC to The Grove.  You have to give Pompey their dues; since their promotion they have become a very solid mid-table team.  Ok, there was a wobble last season but overall Harry’s done a good job for them.  He’s also made it a bit of a retirement home for ex-Arsenal players too.  But joking aside, Harry Redknapp is no mug in the transfer market and has, again, bought well in the summer to augment his squad today will be a tough game.

In team news, nothing’s changed.  The usual suspects are still out, as is Alex Hleb who is still feeling a bit peaky.  Will we see Diarra today?  In a word, no.  But if I were to use 2 words they’d be “probably not”.  It seems unlikely that our new midfielder would feature, but never say never.  Just probably never.

Diarra’s was an interesting signing.  Another CM or RB player adding to the masses we already have in those positions.  To add my version of what’s going on to the billions already out there on the blogs, I see him as a long term Gilberto replacement and general utility player.  I also (like others) think AW’s trying to get some kind of versatile squad together where everyone can play everyone else’s position.  But in a nutshell, I think AW sees Diarra as our Essien.  You all know I see Wenger phasing out Gilberto slowly over the next season or so, and while I like Gilbs, he is reaching the stage where he could be usurped by a younger man of burgeoning talent.

I expect the team to line up thus:

  • Almunia
  • Hoyte
  • Toure
  • Senderos
  • Clichy
  • Walcott
  • Fabregas
  • Gilberto
  • Rosicky
  • RvP
  • Adebayor

Ade should start to counter the height and muscle that Pompey undoubtedly have, but we may well see Eduardo thrown on to have a good crack at them with plenty of time remaining.

That’s it.  Enjoy the match

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