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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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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Thoughts On Dein’s ‘Return’ To Arsenal

By now, you are probably well aware of the acquisition of 14.58% of Arsenal FC by Russian Alisher Uzmanov and his holdings company, Red & White.  You are also probably aware of their decision to appoint the former owner of those 14.58% stake shares, David Dein as their Chairman.

So what does it mean for Arsenal?  Is it good news, or bad?  Well, the simple answer is no one knows.  People have their opinions, and I’m not one to tell you if they are right or wrong, so all I can do is give you my own.

Based on what we do know about Uzmanov, we can assume that he will endeavour to buy up more shares in the club.  People like him aren’t going to be happy with shelling out £75m to just have a slice of the pie.  They will want the whole pie.  And probably the peas, mash and gravy too.

The appointment of Dein as chairman I see as trying to put a ‘friendly’ face on the front of a takeover bid.  Some will argue that Dein was always around as he held his 14.58% even though he wasn’t part of the setup anymore after getting into bed with Stan Kroenke.  But now things are worse.  Now he is doing the dirty work of a Russian oligarch and every single thing he does will seem like an ulterior motive, no matter how much he protests he has the best interests of the club at heart.  And that is what worries me.  He will now be trying to please his new boss, and at the same time trying to realise his vision for Arsenal FC.

No doubt his return will be welcomed by Wenger and some of the players.  If you believe everything you read, there’s a chance Henry will return in January because the reason for his departure is now invalid.  Ok, so that’s not strictly true, and by strictly I mean not at all.  But it is true that some staff at the club will welcome their old friend back.  But as I’ve mentioned, he never really went away.  With his personal holdings, Dein was 14.58% of the club and to that end he had certain rights.  They just weren’t the same as when he was the voice of the board.  Now he’s the voice of Uzmanov.  A third party.  And someone who is not entirely savoury.  You can bet your bottom rouble that the Uzmanov/Dein dream team will not be so quiet and unassuming as Kroenke has been (which is to his credit given the uproar caused by his stake acquisition).  As with all investments they will wanta return from it and given his past history, Uzmanov will expect Dein to make this return significant.

These are testing times for the board.  Now sitting in the shareholder’s meetings are two foreign investors, both of whom have designs on acquiring the whole club as their personal plaything and cash cow.  With an agreement in place that none of the board will sell any of their personal shares (which totals 45%) for at least a year (now probably 9 months) they are ok.  Just wait until that non-selling contract runs out, and all Hell breaks loose.  It’s going to be mental.  And in the middle of it all, the smiling face of Tango-man Dein.

My personal view is that Arsenal is a shining example of how a club should be run.  A board of fans (albeit rich fans) controlling the majority of shares, and a few private investors.  Money is generated solely by the club’s successes and not through some sugar daddy.  All this is now under threat from a big fat Russian and a moustachioed American.  All the years of history and tradition are in danger of being lost in favour of turning the club into the new Chelsea, and if that happens then I’m sure I won’t be alone is losing my passion for the club I’ve supported all my life.  Results and trophies are what it’s all about, but buying your way to them is not something that sits well with me.  We don’t begrudge Man Utd their success as they have earned it over years of good results.  That is what we are aiming for.  Well, were aiming for.  The fact that they are a pack of despicable ***** is largely irrelevant.  Chelsea were always a mediocre club, with little tradition or history and for the most part, just making up the numbers.  Now, you know what happened to them and you know how much they are despised by very large proportion football fans.  We don’t want to be that.  We have been moving in the right direction under Wenger all on our own, and if it is destroyed by these new investors then it will be a hard pill to swallow.

 Oh yeah, you may remember that Arsenal also qualified for the group stages of the Champions League.  We were drawn into group H along with Slavia Prague, Steaua Bucharest and one of AEK Athens or Seville.

I’m off to mope.  Catch you later

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Arsenal Enter Dragons Den

Depending on where you read the quotes, Bernie Ecclestone either “refuses to dispel takeover rumours” or he “plays down interest”. What all this reminds me of is the BBC show Dragons Den. These billionaires are lining up to try and convince the Arsenal board that they are the man that they should trust the club’s future to. You can just imagine the moustachioed Kroenke standing there sweating slightly, moisture collecting on his beautifully trimmed lip rug, wringing his hands as Edleman and Hill-Wood sit there grilling him;

So Stan, you have shown us that you have a successful record in sporting businesses. It makes for quite an impressive CV. I see you have managed to make plenty of cash from a third rate MLS team. Kudos. But what can we expect you to bring to the traditional English game of Association Football that brings so much joy to millions of people in this country“?

“Cheerleaders”?

Er, no Stan. We were thinking more of a progression of the project that brought us the new stadium and has seen us invest heavily in our academy and youth teams

“Oh gees. My bad. OK, I have my business partner here. David, would you come in please? I know, but the sun bed will still be there when we’ve done”

Get out

As it transpires, Ecclestone is also buddies with DD (his daughter is shagging Gavin Dein) so we can expect a similar sales pitch from him when he enters the den. Except he’ll be standing on a milk crate or something.

All this takeover talk is really starting to irritate me. Like itching powder on my scrotum. When you consider that Arsenal are one of the most profitable clubs in Europe, you have to wonder what the need is to actually take one of these jokers on board. It’s not like we’re Leeds. Even with their mafia money, Chelsea operate at a loss. And they haven’t just built an ass kicking new stadium. It will take someone special, someone with class and a vision, to impress the board enough for them to welcome a takeover bid. Someone like Duncan Ballantyne. Oh yes.

There’s a story kicking round on Setanta’s site about Jean II Makoun claiming there was interest from Arsenal, Barca and Man U in him, but he elected to stay at Lille. Yeah.  Sure. I encourage you all to go and read it because it is clearly written by an untrained monkey and is therefore probably cobblers or nicked from some blog.

Which brings me neatly to Arsenal Shorts, who taught us all a lesson in the nature of transfer rumours. I was suckered by it. And so were Sky – which is good – and through them so were many, many others. Good work Arsenal Shorts-writing-and-hoaxing fella!

Hilariously, Julio Baptista might be making a return to the Premiership with Newcastle. If this is true (and what with everything going on it might well not be) then surely it confirms all the suspicions we all had about The Walrus. I mean, did he not see him play? I did, and it made me want to tear out my own eyes and poo my brain out of my ears.

The “Freddie Is Off” rumours are ciculating again. This time it’s West Ham in the frame. Is it me, or are all the clubs he’s being linked with in this country shit? Its sad that his decline over the past season or two has led to him being classed as a player of the calibre The Spammers or Citeh fancy. I hope if he does go it to somewhere like Fiorentina.

Right, I need some lunch. Anyone cooking anything nice?