Gallas – Walcott – Dunn

William Gallas has admitted that his injury is worse than previously thought.  The club reckoned that he’d be out for 3 weeks, but gallas reckons it’s more like 6.  Talking to French paper, L’Equipe, Gallas said,

 “I believe it is over for Italy.  You will not see me again until October. It is a bad blow, it is always difficult to accept, but now I have to rest.”

Right then.  Brilliant.  Captain out injured for a long time.  Hmmmm, where have I seen this before?  To be fair to Billy G, whilst I was all for getting rid of him this summer because of his whinging and his mediocrity last season, he’s turned things around, and has even looked like being quite a good captain.  It is  a blow that not only our captain, but a first choice and experienced centre back will be missing fo such a long time.  Hopefully, Gallas is just telling porkies and it’s really not as bad as he’s making out, but if it is, then we will be seeing a lot of Big Phil Senderos over the next few weeks.  If you cast your minds back 2 seasons, Phil partnered Kolo Toure for a long time and managed to get us to the Champions League final.  He’s a good player, but one who is susceptible to lapses in concentration and these really, really need to be cut out if he’s to make the grade. He does bring ariel prowess to the defence though, and in a team that genuinely lacks height, that cannot be underestimated.  When he gets a good run of games, Phil can look like a class player but he struggles when thrown in at the deep end.  Hopefully breaking him in this season against teams that don’t contain Didier Drogba might be just what he needs, and with hard work on the training ground he could prove some of the naysayers wrong.  If he doesn’t get his act together, we might find ourselves ruing the decision to let Johan Djourou go out on loan.

Whether AW is up to some japery is unclear.  What is clear though is that he has definitely said that he’s surprised that Theo Walcott didn’t make the England squad.

“I was surprised last week when people were talking about a striking crisis in England and nobody mentioned Walcott…”It has taken him some time but now in the last week I can see he is really coming back [from a shoulder injury]” 

Now, Le Boss could be making a subtle joke about Theo’s inclusion in the World Cup squad and all the uproar that caused, or he could be being 100% genuine.  Sometimes it is hard to tell with the laconic Frenchman, but from wha I’ve seen, he really is a big fan of Walcott’s and to be fair he does have a point.  With all the injuries to front men for the Germany game, Theo was in with a shout of selection due to two simple facts:

1. He’s a striker

2. He’s English

He probably doesn’t merit a place on current form, but we all know what he can do on his day, and I’m sure McClaren does too.  He also has the added bonus of being able to play on the wing too.

Finally, hideous git David Dunn has been spouting shite about Arsenal being moaners in the Mirror.

“It’s getting a little bit funny because every time we play Arsenal, they’re the ones who say we’re violent. But we’re not, we’re committed and that’s what you would expect from any team.  It always seems to be the Arsenal camp who come out with that kind of comment. I wouldn’t be so sure Alex Ferguson would say that and he would expect that from his team as well.”

He obviously doesn’t remember 3 days ago and the comments Fergie made about Ronaldo getting lumps kicked out of him.  And will someone tell him that being commited doesn’t constitute allowing your team to foul and cheat your way around a pitch.  When he follows it up with statements like,

“They have better players than us with more ability going through the team so we have to close that gap and make it into a little bit of a battle.”

You can see that the man is as stupid as he looks.

Ok dudes.  That’s it for today.

Peas out.  Or whatever those krazy kidz say

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Points Dropped As Jens Takes His Eye Off The Ball

Another game, another calamitous goalkeeping error from Jens Lehmann.  You can say what you like about the team needing more players, wingers, another centre forward etc, but it doesn’t matter who’s playing if your ‘keeper is going to make mistakes like Jens has in our two league games so far.

Obviously, today’s blunder will spark fervent debate about who should play in goal for Citeh’s visit on Saturday, and blah blah blah zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.  At the end of the day, and assuming that day is his day, Jens is as good as any ‘keeper in the league.  What should be considered is the damage dropping him will do to his confidence and whether it is worth potentially finishing his career with Arsenal right now.  Because that is effectively what will happen.  A vote of no confidence from the boss, good performances from Manuel or Lukazs, could see the German No.1 benched for a considerable chunk of the season and will he really want to sign for another year after that?

Wenger likes Jens.  Probably not in a going to farmer’s market’s to buy sausages and jams together way, but footballistically speaking.  Arsene has always stood by Jens, and I expect him to do the same again this time.  When all’s said and done, no-one is infallible and every ‘keeper makes mistakes over the course of a season – Jens has just got them in early.  Remember, Lehmann had a blinder from the second minute onwards against Fulham, making some good saves.  He also played a part in setting up Hleb’s goal against Sparta and his contribution to the team off the pitch should not be underestimated either.  Ok, so he is probably clinically mental, but he’s a good ‘keeper and this is just a blip.  Unless it isn’t.  And in which case I hope the Boruc rumours are true.

 Game-wise, Blackburn did their usual of being shit and kicking us.  Well done them.  Arsene described it as ‘violence’.  It wasn’t quite that, but there were some agricultural tackles flying around and I thought our lads did well not to respond too much to the provocation.  RVP did go through Stephen Warnock, but then you would, wouldn’t you?  I’m just surprised Robbie Savage can still walk.  On the whole though, Blackburn disrupted the game as much as possible, and got lucky at the end thanks to a gift from the big German.  as such, it really annoys me to hear Mark Hughes’ opinion of the game.

 “It was very competitive and I thought we dominated the game. We were the better side. We showed great character and equipped ourselves well against a top side.”

Who’s he talking to?  Seriously.  Who does he think is going to believe that?  At best I hate Mark Hughes.  Always have – just look at the clubs he’s played for if you’re uncertain as to why.  I also think he’s a shite manager, and his tactics are so transparent, insofar as he doesn’t have any.  Except instructing his players to go out and kick people because that’s how he played the game.

You can listen to what Arsene thought here.

Brilliantly, Gallas is injured.  Again.  2/3 weeks put with a groin strain.  Tidy.  It’s good to see that both he and Tomas Rosicky are picking up exactly where they both left off last season.  With Johan Djourou off on loan at Brummingham, Big Phil will most likely fill in at centre back during Billy G’s convalesence, as he did today.  And in true tenuous linking stylee, here’s the team for today:

  •  Lehmann
  • Sagna
  • Toure
  • Gallas (Senderos 24)
  • Clichy
  • Walcott (Bendtner 73)
  • Flamini
  • Fabregas
  • Hleb
  • Eduardo (Denilson 65)
  • Van Persie

Subs: Almunia, Song Billong.

Right that’s about it.  Catch you tomorrow

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Friday Round-Up 17/08/07

Man, am I tired.  It’s been a long week.  Well, the usual 5 days broken down into handy 24 hour chunks, but it seems longer.  A lot longer.  I’m supposed to be going out and getting drunk as per the Friday night ritual, but really, I’m just in the mood for cocoa and bed.  Don’t tell anyone though – don’t want to loose my street cred.  Wait…  Oh. So it’s Friday, and we’re not playing until Sunday.  That means we have two choices; 1) go over the Sparta game again, or 2) do a quick round-up, have a wash and hit the pub.  Hmmm…  Number 2 it is then.

After the game on Wednesday, Cesc “The Hatchett” Fabregas was giving props to Gael Clichy for his contribution in setting up the opener.  To be fair, Clichy deserves all the praise he gets because his was an excellent jinking run after intercepting a loose Sparta pass.  Clichy has come on leaps and bounds since A. Hole went and joined the Russians, and it pleases no one more than me to see him getting the plaudits merited by his performances over the last 12 months.  Add to this Gael’s ability to talk to the media like a seasoned pro, and you might just see the number 22 shirts flying out of The Armoury a little quicker this year.  The future France number 3 has been talking about the topic de jour of how hard Arsenal are these days.  Like nails.  Or that thing in your fridge that might once have been cheese but now looks like it might actually have a finger off you if you try and throw it out.  And if anyone knows about losing fingers, it’s Clichy.  Speaking in The Guardian, Gael said,

“Maybe they think this is the way to play against Arsenal, however, we have to show that we are not the same team as before and are ready for the challenge.  Everything is about mentality and we believe we have the quality in our football. We showed it against Sparta and will do it again on Sunday.  We are waiting for the challenge and we are waiting for the teams to come. Every weekend, we play against a side like this in England. This season, we believe we have the football quality and the physical quality.”

It’s become a little old hat, going on about the physical nature of the games we play against “lesser” teams.  But it is worth saying that against teams that couldn’t out football us, and who would just kick us, we’ve shown that we’re more than up for it.  That, in my opinion, is exactly what’s needed.  If the side can gel and still play the type of football we’ve become famous for, then we might just surprise a few people this season.

And who should be up next to put this theory to the test?  None other than our old friends Blackburn.  One of the biggest bunch of cloggers in the league.  If Cesc can recreate the meg on Savage and then boot him in the face, I will be a happy man.  And I will start using the phrase “The Cescanator”.  A lot.

Squad-wise, we should have Eduardo and Denilson back, but Adebayor, Diaby and now Emmanuel Eboue & Tomas Rosicky look like missing out.  It’s ironic that the day after Tomas comes out and says that he’s confident of having a good season if he stays injury free, we learn he’s injured.  Perhaps that’s not irony.  Perhaps that’s just a pain in the hole.  With Eduardo not having played much, The Boss is hesitant to start him.  Fair enough really.  That means we’ll probably see the 4-5-1 again.  Who will play on the left in Rosicky’s stead is anyone’s guess, but it will likely be Denilson or Hleb.  I’d rather it be Denilson because he’s wicked, and Hleb is much better on the right than the left.  And that’s saying something.  Hopefully Alex will be in the middle again, just off RVP (who will hopefully not get isolated as in previous games).  We may even see starts for Theo in the 4-5-1 or Bendtner in a nominal 4-4-2.  I’ve been impressed with the lanky Dane so far this season.  He sometimes looked disinterested at Birmingham (who can blame him), but this term he’s been very good and although Arsene says he’s not ready yet, if ever there was a time to give him a chance, it’s now.  But with Eduardo waiting in the wings, I would be very surprised to see Bendtner come on. That’s pretty much yer lot for today.  Have a good Friday night.  Mine’s a pint of Guinness

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Official – Gallas Is Captain. What?!? + Wenger’s Contract

This morning sees the official announcement that Arsene Wenger has made William Gallas captain of Arsenal.  The debate over who should lead the team at the start of the 07/08 season has raged ever since the sale of Thierry Henry to Barcelona, with opinion split between camps supporting Gilberto Silva or Kolo Toure.  No one really thought there were any other choices other than the man who lead the team for the majority of last season and captained his country to the Copa America recently, or the languid Ivorian who has been arguably our most consistent player since his arrival in 2002.  There were murmurings that Gallas could be in with a shout of getting the armband, but no one really thought that a player who openly criticised the team, the transfer policy, who was average at best last season, who was injured a lot last season and who has only been in the side for a year after joining from one of our bitterest rivals, would be given the most important role the manager can bestow.  Including me.  Gallas on his day is a quality defender, and I had high hopes at the start of last season when he started brightly and even scored a goal early on in the campaign after a maurauding run forward.  I thought that, yes, we have done well in capturing his signature.  But that soon fell by the wayside.  His absence through a series of injuries compounded our problems at the back, so much so in fact that we ended up having Phil Senderos at right back at one point.  And we all know what happened in that game.

If you had asked me yesterday to pick a captain, I would have said it would have to be Gilberto Silva.  He stood in for Henry last season and did a magnificent job, and has recently shown his credentials as leader by captaining Brazil to the Copa America.  There is no bigger honour than captaining your country, and if that country is Brazil, then it takes on even more kudos.  But, Gallas has been given the job.  My first reaction was negative, but upon reading the bosses comments, I think I am warming to the idea.

“[The captain] will be William Gallas. There will also be two vice-captains, Kolo Toure and Gilberto.
“I feel centre back is always the best position to lead on the pitch and it is Gallas who has more experience at the back. But Gilberto has always been a great captain and Kolo Toure has a stature too.
“As well I made a decision that I want all those experienced players, along with Jens Lehmann, to be involved off the pitch. Players like Jens and Gilberto can play the role of a club captain. They can have a very strong impact mentally on the team. I want them to take on that responsibility.”

Gallas in undeniably a winner.  But so too is Gilberto.  The only difference is playing position – and Gallas plays at centre back, so you can see why Arsene plumped for him.  The Boss has also given roles to Kolo and Gilberto, as well as Jens Lehann, so that all bases are covered.  The four most experienced players all have a part to play in leading the team on and off the pitch, helping to guide the younger players towards success.  I can’t fault that.  It makes perfect sense.  The only reason that Billy G will wear the armband on the pitch, is because he has the temperament to do it.  Kolo and Gilberto just aren’t as vociferous or aggressive as the Frenchman, and his appointment should add some steel where steel needs to be added.

Another reason that Gallas got the nod is probably this.  If Gilberto is out until September, then we would be starting the season without our proper captain.  And that’s no good.  Consistency is vital, especially at the beginning of a campaign.  And on that note, another reason that the Brazilian missed out comes to light.  Sort of.  That reason is Abu Diaby.  The young centre midfielder has looked impressive playing in a central role in the pre-season games and I expect that Arsene is going to use this season to give him some more game time in that position.  Diaby and Cesc are the future of the Arsenal midfield, and the Spaniard is almost un-droppable due to his uncanny ability to dictate games and turn them in our favour.  That means that the older Gilberto will have to be sacrificed.  It’s saddening that Wenger would be so ruthless towards a player that has served him so well, but looking at the bigger picture, you’d have to say that he’s right.  Gilberto only has a few years left playing at the level we’ve become accustomed to, whereas Diaby has about a decade.  It’s a whole long term vs short term thing.

So Gallas is captain.  It remains to be seen if he is a good one.  But with the backing of Kolo, Gilberto and Jens, I’m sure that questions over his ability to do it won’t be as plentiful as they were with Thierry Henry in charge.  I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt, and he’s already been going some way to erase last season’s aberrations from our minds, as discussed here.  Also, Wenger knows what he’s doing.  Only he really knows how well Billy fits into the team dynamic, and you have to trust the double Double winning, unbeatable boss.

And if you’re still feeling apprehensive, take a look at this.  The normally FOS, James Lawton puts down his “I hate Arsenal pen”, and uses some common sense.

It already feels like it’s going to be a good day

UPDATE:FeedBurner feed added.  Subscribe link is at the top left of the page

 UPDATE 2: Arsene Wenger has revealed he will sign a new contract soon.  When pushed on how soon he replied,

“Soon is soon. I do not want to be unsettling. I’m highly committed to the Club, I have shown that many, many times in my life. I don’t think anybody can question that.”

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