Players Come Through Friendlies Unscaythed, But Wenger Gets In A Ruck

 First up, get over to to read GilbertoSilver’s quality post about a little boy who wanted a new watch.  Sounds weird?  I’m not going t lie to you; it is.  But is also funny as fook at the same time.

 Anyone watch the England game last night?  By Christ we’re shit.  I mean really shit.  The only good thing that came from that game was seeing that Micah Richards is actually real quality.  He’s a gooner too.  I’d fancy us signing him if we’d not gone for Sagna.  In fact, I’d go so far as to say that we still might.  He can play at centre back too, so if Hoyte and Djourou/Senderos don’t make the grade, he is the ideal man to get in.  It is super unlikely to happen though, which is a shame.  But if we do end up securing his services sometime in the future, remember, you heard it here first.  Unless you heard it somewhere else first.  Obviously.

There were plenty of Arsenal players in action for their respective nations last night, and thankfully I don’t have to tell you about a long list of injuries.  It would seem that no one picked up a knock that will affect their ability to play at the weekend, and some even made comebacks.  Sort of.  Emmanuel Adebayor featured in the Togo squad against Zambia and can’t be too far away from making his return to playing in an Arsenal shirt.  It’ll be good to have the big fella back again to provide us with options up front, and more importantly a foil for Robin.

New boy, Eduardo da Silva managed to score for Croatia against Bosnia in the formers 5-3 win.  He only played 63 minutes, but didn’t come off for being crocked or tired which is good news.

Big Phil Senderos’ Switzerland beat RvP’s Holland 2-1 to give the Swiss the bragging rights at Colney before Saturday.

The main point of interest for most Gooners was Jens Lehmann playing against England.  With all the attention on him after the errors against Fulham and Blackburn, the German ‘keeper was under pressure to perform.  Things did not get off to a good start when after 9 minutes Fat Frank fired England into an early lead, beating Lehmann at the near post.  You’d be hard pressed to find fault in Jens’ performance for that goal despite the near post finish.  That said, Myles Palmer has done exactly that.  It was a good strike from close range and the German No. 1 was left little chance.  I thought he did really well to save a header from scouse midget, Michael Owen from nigh on point blank range, and his only real dodgy moment was when a lucky rebound off him fell to Owen who subsequently skied it when  a simple tap would’ve done.  It wasn’t an outstanding performance from Jens, but it was solid and I found myself cheering whenever he saved the ball despite my patriotism.  I think he’ll start against Citeh.  In fact, I’m sure of it after watching him last night, as I’m sure Arsene did.  Want to bet against me Myles?

There were a whole bunch of other players in action, but I’ll leave you to read about that yourselves here.

Arsene Wenger has come in for some criticism from France coach, Raymond Domenech over how best to treat William Gallas’ injured groin.  Domenech wants Gallas to spend 10 days at the French HQ in Clairefontaine receiving treatment, but Wenger reckons that it’s a recurring problem with the captains abductor muscle and is therefore Arsenal’s duty to ensure their player is made fit again at their facilities.  Wenger said,

“I believe it is logical the Arsenal’s players get treatment with the club’s doctors”

Wenger and even Mourinho have previous with Domenech for his demanding too much of their players, so it is unlikely that AW will succumb to the French coach’s wishes.  Expect more posturing and verbals from the Gallic chiefs before this matter is put to bed.

Sticking with the international these, absentee so far this season, Gilberto Silva has been recalled to the Brazil squad that will play friendlies against the USA and Mexico next month.  Hopefully, hell have played some league games for us before then, as I think we really need his experience alongside Cesc in the middle.  Take nothing away from Flamini, but Gilberto is better and that’s that.  For all his admirable work rate and energy, Flamini just isn’t as good at doing what Gilberto does for club and country.

Domestically, Robin van Persie has been given some good news.  Arsene Wenger has said that he doesn’t intend to play him as the sole striker in a 4-5-1 for the whole season.  Good news for Robin, good news for us as I believe that we play better in the tried and tested 4-4-2.  And with the forwards that we have at the moment, playing 2 together will enable them to get the best out of each other and therefore do better for the team.

Right, I’m off to play another pre-season friendly.  It’s raining.  A lot.

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Round-up 04/08/07 + Arsenal vs Ajax Preview

Mornin’ all.  Hope you got a good night’s sleep and weren’t woken up a 6am by your absent flatmate’s recurrent alarm as I was.  Combine this with a mild hangover, and you’ll find the level of unhappiness I feel about being awake this morning.  I want to slip into a narcoleptic coma for the next month or so.  Man, that’d be so sweet.  But, I fear that I will have to remain awake and do stuff today, tomorrow, the next day…    Stupid stuff.  Honestly, if anyone from IKEA is reading then drop me a line – I am your new bed and chair tester.

Footballistically, there isn’t a lot going on today.  It would seem that before games the team go into hiding and methodically go through their preparations, whilst others go about churning out the same old ‘news’ as the day before.  That’s why I thought I’d do a quick preview of tonight’s game against Ajax.

Surely it’s about time I got something right with regard to team selection, and I’m sure that tonight will see a much different team to the one that beat Lazio on Thursday.  With it being the last game before the league season starts and there being a trophy at stake, I’m sure the boss will filed a strong(er) team compared to the previous match.  With Adebayor definitely out, and the boss saying that Bendtner isn’t quite ready for Premier League football, I think we’ll see Eduardo and RVP starting together.  They haven’t really played too much together so far and I get the impression (based on nothing more than my own intuition) that they are the first choice strikers for the team.  Also, I would expect Sagna and Gallas to come back into the defence.  The left back role may go to Traore and we’ll see Clichy on the wing with Eboue opposite, or Clichy will play at the back with Diaby or Rosicky in front.  I’m going to gamble on the line-up looking something like this.

  • Lehmann
  • Sagna
  • Toure
  • Gallas
  • Traore
  • Eboue
  • Fabregas
  • Diaby
  • Clichy
  • Van Persie
  • Eduardo

Of course I might be way off, but that’s what I’d like to see.  Walcott, Hleb, Denilson and Rosicky should all feature at some point too.  With the pace of the left and right sided players, we once again have a good attacking option down the flanks not seen since the days of Lauren and Freddie and Cole and Pires.  Sure, Eboue and Clichy aren’t midfielders, but they have been playing there, and have been making a good fist of it at that.

Onto Ajax then.  Runners up to PSV in the Eredivisie last term, Ajax have a point to prove.  They have a squad littered with quality players and are more than capable of gunning down Arsenal.  True, Babel has left for Merseyside after being linked with us all summer, but they still have Huntelaar, Leonardo, Stam, Heitinger, Vermaelen and Robin’s mate, Wesley Sneijder.  Comically, they also have some dreadlocked bloke called Davids, who many of you may remember being a victim of this.  The greatest tackle in history.  It should be a good game with Ajax having a tradition of attacking football that’s easy on the eye, which is obviously in stark contrast to Arsenal’s style of attacking football that’s easy on the eye.  Oh.  Right.

 News wise, there ain’t a lot going on.  There might be some bits floating around later, but they’re likely to be like the bits you find floating in a dodgy pint, rather than the bits of meaty goodness you find in some tasty minestrone soup.  I’ll update if anything  good happens, so check back

Thanks for reading.  Enjoy the game

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Arsenal 2 PSG 1 – What Does It Mean?

Mornin’ all

Firstly, let me just say that I am not going to go into a lengthy match report type blog.  No, there are much better people than me writing them today. This one is great and there is a whole bunch on NewsNow.

What I am going to do is answer the question in the title of his post.  What are the implications of the players playing where they did and how they did.

As discussed previously, the boss was left a little short in the pocket regarding available players.  This saw Flamini and Diaby playing out of position on the flanks.  We’ve seen these two play in the wide positions before, but I think we can all agree that it’s not their best positions.  However, they did a good job out there, and I for one think that Matty Flamini staying is a real boost for the club.  He’s a useful utility player that will give 100% in any position he’s asked to play, and this was rewarded yesterday when Niclas Bendtner (who did play the full 90 as predicted) chested a ball down to the edge of the area for Flamini to slot into the bottom corner.  With Denilson and Cesc in the middle of the park, Diaby and Flamini had to make the most of their game time on the flanks.  I don’t think that they will be asked to play there too much during the course of the season, but I do think that they are both capable of doing a job there.  There will come a time during the season when we are without certain players and they will have to play there.

Half time substituutions saw Hoyte, Traore, Hleb, Gallas and Eboue come on.  This drastically changed the shape of the team, with Eboue and Clichy playing on the wings in front of Hoyte and Traore.  Hleb moved into a central attacking midfield position just behind Niclas Bendtner.  Gallas was partnered in central defence by Senderos after Toure had made way.  A 4-4-1-1 formation with Hleb ‘in the hole’ is something that I’ve always been a fan of.  I think he is much better suited to a central role as he’s not a natural winger, and this allows him to use his dribbling skills much more effectively and means that his passing doesn’t have to be as precise or that he has to cross the ball.  The thing to focus on is the two wide players.  Clichy and Eboue played really well out wide and it does seem that with the arrival of Sagna we will see more of Eboue on the right flank.  This means that with Clichy able to do the same thing on the opposite side that we will have an attacking midfield that is also able to defend the wings.  I am a big fan of that.  I wouldn’t be surprised if we didn’t see more of it over the coming season, with Clichy playing a more advanced role.  If Eduardo doesn’t get the permit the boss’ hand may be forced into deploying this strategy on a more regular basis.

Diaby moved into central midfield when Fabregas exited at half time and had a stormer.  I really, really rate Abou, but the problem is deciding who plays with Cesc.  Diaby, Denilson or Gilberto.  Obviously Gilberto will get the nod most often as he’ll likely be made captain, but he’s not going to be around forever so one of the younger guys will have to take over.  Who that’ll be is anyone’s guess.  Interestingly, the boss said,

You can learn about the different associations in your teams. Does Denilson work with Diaby, can Eboue play in right midfield. You can risk things you can’t in the Premiership or at least risk things all at the same time when you can only risk one or two in the Premiership.”

The downside to all this is that it is slightly a case of creating players that are jacks of all trades, masters of none.  However, versatility is an attribute that cannot be overrated and it is heartening to see the players perform in unfamiliar roles so well.  It will be interesting to see how the team sets up for Inter Milan today.

Arsene was pleased with the win, saying,

We had many players out today- Eduardo, Rosicky, Adabayor, Djourou – and I also left some on the bench. Overall against a very good Paris team, it was a good hardworking performance.We took control in the second half and won the game normally

News-wise, the boss didn’t rule out more sigings.  He said

We have the potential to do it. If I find the right player, I will take him. If I find two, I will do it. But it is not compulsory. If we do not get them, we do not get them. We have enough quality. That will not be an excuse if I do not get a player, not to compete with the top teams.

Hilarious TribalFootball stories here and here

Sorry this is a bit disjointed and shit, but I’m in a rush as I’m off to Brighton in…ooh, ten minutes.  Still in bed?  You betcha!

Have good days.  Enjoy the match today