Ajax 0 – 1 Arsenal Match Reaction and Transfer Talk

Good morning to ya’s.  I hope you’re all nursing suitably large hangovers today after the excesses of Saturday night.  You were probably out celebrating the fantastic winning of the LG Amsterdam Tournament weren’t you?  Or perhaps it was just because it was Saturday that you went and got smashed – we all know Sundays are boring so why not write them off with a banging hangover?  If you are a little delicate this morning, I offer my sympathies, but caveat that by saying that its totally self inflicted and you should know better, so you should.  Of course, all this talk of booze and hangovers has nothing to do with my own state this morning.  No.  Why would you think that?

Anyway, let’s do some match reactioning and stuff.  That’s why you’re really here isn’t it?

Yesterday saw Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal pick up their 2nd trophy of the summer in Amsterdam.  A late Robin Van Persie strike in the 88th minute was enough to see off the former Dutch champions.  By all accounts it was a physical game and the young man from Rotterdam was booted all over the place and even got a couple of elbows in the face for good measure in some kind of intra-Dutch racism.  I can appreciate that people from one town might not like people from another, but when a person is your colleague in the Dutch national side it does seem a bit mental to go around trying to break his legs.  Arsene Wenger seemed to think that the physicality of the Ajax team was a bit off, in particular a tackle from Heitinga that saw RVP carried off on a stretcher, saying,

“I was disappointed with the tackle on Robin van Persie but at least it looks like he is all right. I was disappointed with some of the other challenges, too. Ajax went a little overboard. It helped us to know that there would be suspensions in England if we reacted badly.”

Wenger also showed this his mean side isn’t confined to just getting lairy with Alan Pardew as he confronted Ajax manager, Ten Cate after Robin had been scythed down.  I like the new angry Wenger.  A bit of passion never did anyone any harm.  Cate thought his side had behaved appropriately and commented,

“Why should I say sorry? Arsenal have this stuff in the Premiership every week. Do they think it is easy when they come here? I actually think football in England is rougher and tougher. I have no problems with the way my players behaved.”

I think he would’ve changed his tune had an Arsenal player damaged one of his before the start of the season.  But he does have a point.  Arsenal are often accused of being a bit lightweight, and games like this will go some way to dispelling such talk and help the lads toughen up for the games against the Premier League’s cloggers.

So another good performance, and another trophy won.  This has to be one of our better pre-seasons for a while, and it’s heartening to see such a young side mix it with the big boys.  Good performances from RVP, Eduardo, Clichy, Diaby, Hleb Sagna and even Eboue leave me eagerly awaiting next week when we play Fulham.

In other news, Robin Van Persie, who is not the new Thierry Henry, is clearly being groomed as such by the media.  You can’t move for quotes and soundbites from him, and it looks like he’s going to be the man that sells papers and whatnot for the journo’s.  He does say some good things though, does Robin.  As a former ‘bad boy’ I like how he’s come out and said he was disappointed with Ljungberg’s comments upon joing The Spammers.

“If you play nine years at a club like Arsenal you can say some nice words…If you’re coming up with excuses about Thierry’s departure and about promises from the club it’s a bit weak. I was disappointed and I know a few others were as well. He had a fantastic period, he was once the best player in England, so come on and say some nice things for this club, which is fantastic.”

Back to The Boss now, and it looks like the contract negotiations are shaping up nicely.  Personally, I have never really subscribed to the theory that he’d leave.  He’s not once intimated it, and I think that if he were to go, we’d know about it long before it was made official.  He’s quite an open person, and I think that hints and that would be dropped in press conferences way before an announcement was made.  And seeing as that hasn’t happened, I don’t think there has ever been any real cause for panic.

This is funny.  Especially when you combine it with this.

In dubious transfer news, the Lassana Diarra thing is hotting up.  Chelsea assistant coach, Steve Clarke has said that they don’t want to loose him.  Especially to a rival.  If it’s just a rumour, why say anything at all?  Perhaps there is more to it?  In another link-tastic story combining moment bought to you by Gillespie Road, Valencia are alledgedly after Gilberto.  Could something be in the offing here?  I know were inundated with centre midfielders at the moment, but perhaps a one in, one out, might be on the cards?  We’ll see.

Ok, I’m done.  I’m going to see if Lewis Hamilton has decided to run Alonso off the track.

Happy Sunday

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Emirates Cup Stuff And That

Argh!  There is nothing more annoying than having to re-install software so you can spend a little time blogging about your favourite football team.  I think Netgear are excellent and it is probably my prehistoric machine that is a fault (hello, Santa, are you listening..?) but when you try and update the wireless adapter software and it downloads only to tell you that it fails a validation check, smashing the tower case with your head seems like a reasonable option.  Thing is, it only dents a bit, and your head dents a lot so there is only ever going to be one winner.  But I take pride in knowing I gave it my best shot.  Still hurts a bit though.  However, the sun’s out so beer garden anaesthesia is a distinct possibility.

So to day sees the opening game of the Emirates cup, and the boss has promised us strong teams will be fielded.  However, what with Ade, Theo and Tomas all injured/otherwise crocked, Gilberto off on holiday and Eduardo apparently not having a permit to work, it looks like the teams won’t be as strong as we first hoped.

Eduardo can’t play because the game is in England.  Some people reckon that he can play because it’s only a friendly, but other’s reckon that it still counts as work and therefore he is subject to the normal work permit regulations.  I have to say, I do find it odd that the player has been signed and has already played a part in 2 games in Austria, yet he doesn’t have a work permit.  When Arsene thought that Baptista could actually play football, part of the reason the deal fell through was because of work permit issues, so why has Eduardo been signed when it’s not all straightened out?  Seems a bit weird, no?  He’ll probably get some more game time in Amsterdam and after that it will hopefully be all sorted and we can get back to seeing Dudu in front of goal.  And I’m not talking Jeremie Aliadiaire.  AW is confident that there won’t be any problems with it, so you’d have to think that’s why he pushed the signing through without the permit being in place.

So with us missing all the players that are missing it’s easy to miss the fact that we aren’t missing Niclas Bendtner.  I’m expecting him and RVP to get the full 90 today.  This is a good chance for Bendtner to show us what he can really do and impress the boss while he’s at it.  I think that from what I saw of him in The Championship last season, he looks like a good finisher and a good target man.  He does that the pace of Adebayor, but overall their game is very similar.  However, I am not alone in thinking that he needs to up his work rate to that of something approaching Ade’s to prove really useful.  Perhaps playing in the Premiership for Arsenal will inspire him to do so.  I hope he does because he’s proved he can score goals, even at international level, so to see him fail at Arsenal would be a shame.

It’s also a good chane for Robin to hone his skills for the beginning of the league season.  He was scoring well last season before he got crocked and there’s every chance that he can go on this season carrying that form over.

The game kicks off at 16:15 GMT and is on ATVO (4pm) and Sky Sports 2 (knowing Sky the build up program will start at about 2pm, when they will proceed to talk for 2 hours and 14 minutes about Ronaldinho playing for PSG once, and how they’re French and so is Thierry Henry who doesn’t play for Arsenal)

In other news, Jose Antonio Reyes’ agent has said that he doesn’t think Jose will go to Lyon, which is interesting as reports are coming in that Real Madrid and Arsenal have agreed a fee for the player.  9.2 million Euros does seem a bit crap but it’ll probably rise depending on appearences etc.

The Di Maria saga, whilst getting extremely tedious, seems to have reached a solution.  It appears that Benfica have secured the signature of the Argentine.  To be honest, I don’t really care anymore if he comes to us or not.  To say that negotiations are going well, and then to sod off to another club is a bit Reyes-esque and amidst all the shenannigans with hoax hoaxes etc I’ve kinda lost the will to give 2 shits about it.  Hopefully he’ll be crap and Benfica will be gutted that he’s not the Simao replacement they had hoped for.

Arsene has also responded to the comments made by Freddie Ljungberg.  He said,

He was a great fighter and did extremely well for us. The club did very well for Freddie. But football is a team sport. I didn’t make any promises. The company works well when everybody does what he’s responsible for. The player is responsible for his performance in the team, not the policy of the club

Fair play gaffer.  I would’ve been less diplomatic, and probably said something the papers would’ve had a field day with.  But then I’m not the manager of Arsenal FC.  Yet.

Ok, I’m absolutely starving.  All these software issues and stuff really work up your appetite.  It’s a wonder that more computer geeks aren’t fat.  Wait.  Oh

Clichy Puts The Boot In – Reyes – Rosicky – Captaincy

I noticed that yesterdays post was a bit all over the place.  I would like to blame the hosting or net gremlins, but I can’t.  It was just me being a ‘tard.  Apologies, and thanks to those that took great pleasure in pointing out my inability to use WordPress.  I blame using IE instead of Opera.  Yup, that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.

 That aside, there isn’t a lot going on today, so this will be a quick one.

Gael Clichy has spoken out in retaliation to the comments made by Freddie Ljungberg upon joing West Ham.  Clichy is clearly narked about Freddie saying the club lacks ambition, and in his reposte said,

I don’t think Arsenal lack ambition.  I don’t know why Freddie said that.

“He has had nine great seasons with Arsenal and he’s entitled to his opinion but I’ve got a different opinion.

“For two years we hear Arsenal are not competitive any more but last season we won both matches against Manchester United and drew both against Chelsea with what is supposed to be a young team, so I don’t know what’s wrong with that.

“We know we’ve got the quality, the strength. Everyone is confident, we have signed great players and we are going to have a great season.”

Too bloody right.  It does seem to be conveniently forgotten that against the bigger teams in the league we had a good record and like Arsene said, if you made a mini-league of the top 4 teams, we’d be at the summit.

The Daily Mail is going some way to redeeming itself in my eyes, by saying lots of nice things about Eduardo.  Hopefully they will be saying the same things come May time.  They are also running an interview with ol’ purple nose, Alex Fergusson.  What is interesting is where he says in response to a question about Utd’s rivals, that we have signed “a striker, a midfielder and a defender”.  A midfielder?  Really?

Confirmation that Tomas Rosicky’s hamstring isn’t seriously injured can be found on Arsenal.com.  This is good.  As I said yesterday, I am expecting big things from the Czech technician this season and if he can manage to stay injury free then I am sure there will be a lot of superlatives flying about regarding him.  I can’t wait for the Real Madrid rumours to start.

The Reyes saga continues.  This is getting seriously old now.  He’s a good player and proved he is worth more than the handful of magic beans Real have offered, so why it is taking so long to find a new club for him is baffling.  However, Lyon are the newest side alledgedly interested , and should offer more than the piss-taking £8million Real have tabled.

Finally, I omitted to mention yesterday that Billy Gallas was given the captain’s armband for the Salzburg game.  Why?  Could be because Kolo was a late addition after Djourou pulled out.  Could be because Arsene is thinking about giving him the job full time.  The boss said,

William has all the ingredients needed to be a captain along with Kolo (Toure) and Gilberto. He has a lot of experience.

“Also centre back is the best position to captain the team because you are in a position to see all the problems on the pitch. It is a better position than a centre forward or a wide player.”

Crikey.  Billy G as captain?  Not on my watch.

Ok, that’s yer lot for tonight.  I do so hope you all have smashing evenings

One More Season For Hoyte? Big Phil Gets Felt Up by Old Lady

As the dust begins to settle on the Ljungberg transfer the papers…aren’t really stirring it up. So I thought I would. See if I can’t get my story nicked and splashed all over the back pages.

I was watching Sky Sports News last night after a spot of Pro Evo, which I am finding difficult to play these days as most of the squad have left (I like to keep it real. Man), only to have my beef with Ljungberg exacerbated by hearing him accuse Arsene of telling him that we would make big signings and not living up to his promise.

Freddie said, “Arsenal claimed that despite building a new stadium, we were going to stay on top. For me that hasn’t happened. “Two years ago, when I signed my last contract, we talked a lot about whether we were going to be bringing in a lot of big players. It was a difficult decision but when Thierry Henry left, it felt like the end. It’s all a bit sad. I wanted to stay loyal but I felt it was time to go. We have let a lot of players leave

It’s sad that Freddie felt the need to say that as he’s normally a nice lad, but I guess he felt a little pissed at his role being reduced to that of a squad player and couldn’t resist a swipe at the club. Nevertheless, if someone’s going to pay you £60, 000 a week and give you regular first team football then it can be a tempting offer for a 30 year old.

However, Wenger didn’t so much as hit back, as deftly nudge it through the slips. He said,I’m just looking to develop the players we have here. Just in central midfield, we have Abou Diaby, Denilson, Cesc Fabregas, Mathieu Flamini and Gilberto. On the wings, we can play Aleksandr Hleb, Theo Walcott, Tomas Rosicky and Emmanuel Eboue. So we have plenty. All these players are on the way up, getting better and better. They are not over the hill. Their level is still rising. And it is not necessarily the case that because a club spends £50m they are any better”.

I’m sure Arsene is smugly reassured to know that I agree. All it takes is a couple of class acts and some solid team players to make a title winning team, and in this young Arsenal team Wenger has some beauties. And just because it’s not cost a lot to do doesn’t mean it can’t prove highly successful. But what is interesting is that Arsene mentions Emmanuel Eboue as a winger.

Now there was some speculation about why sign Bacary Sagna so soon after both Eboue and Justin Hoyte had just signed new deals. Perhaps Le Boss’ plan is to play Eboue more as a wide midfielder, with Sagna playing at right back or in a Grimandi style defensive midfield role. With Eboue off to the ACoN, Hoyte is a good man to have around, but how will he fare after the tournament and there is competition from not one, but two good right backs? Now, this is where the stirring starts; hacks get ready on the old Ctrl+C. Arsene Wenger will give Hoyte a season to prove himself a worthy player, or he will probably find himself in the shop window. Reading have been linked in a £2million deal already this summer, but that really is the papers stirring. Hoyte needs to at least have a good run in the side again (20+ games last season), and be assessed against the other two before Wenger decides whether to let him see out his contract.

One player who is being linked with a move away from Ashburton Grove is Phillipe Senderos. The Mirror reckon he’s bummed out at being fourth choice for a centre back birth and Juve are interested. I’d have to say that although I rate Big Phil, I think he’s not progressed as much as he should have and that he could find himself on the move if the right offer comes in.

That’s your lot for tonight.  Easy folks

Freddie’s Off. ****

So it was officially announced today that super Swede, Freddie Ljungberg hs completed a move to West Ham in a deal that could see the cost rising up to £3million.

While it’s true that Freddie’s last 2 seasons haven’t been much cop, with him being plagued by injuries and a noticeable drop in form because of it, he still remains a useful squad player and there’s no good reason why this season he couldn’t have put in some top performances for us.  I’ll conceed that his £70, 000 a week wages are a problem for the club when it’s being spent on someone who is going to play a limited role in the campaign, but with our current lack of natural width Freddie would’ve been a useful guy to have around.  We have some outstanding central midfielders in Diaby and Rosicky and even Hleb is more of a central player, but playing them out wide negates their natural talents as they struggle to adapt.  Cesc and Denilson have both played on the right and left respectively and have shown that their are less then comfortable out there.  Only Freddie and Theo could do a job for us on the wing, and now we’ll struggle without the Swede.  I reckon that Eduardo will tend to play wider a la Reyes, as he’s said as much himself, but we still need to proper winger.  I’m a fan of Quaresma and think that he’d be a good signing; he’s young, quick, established and has the flair required to rival his compatriat Christiano Ronaldo.

I’m not sure there are many players out there at the moment that will fit in with Arsene’s plans.  Ribery would be another Hleb – and we don’t need another player that lacks final product and is prone to giving the ball away.  On his bad days.  Babel  is too much like Theo, and I don’t think we need another one.  Malouda is OK – he’d be alright – but again lacks flair.  Without having to pay huge amounts of cash, Quaresma is a good choice.

 For me, Wenger has to buy another player now Freddie’s gone, and that player has to be a wide player. Aside from some unknown African dude who’s about 12, it’ll have to be a £4-8million punt on someone like Quaresma.  Le Boss has said he’s happy with the squad, but he’s also said that it is small in numbers and with our injury problems last season highlighting this fact that our young squad is lacking in some experience, I’m sure I’m not the only one feeling a little nervous about going into 07/08 without a proper winger.

Both Pires and Freddie have chipped in over the years with quite a few goals, and unless Theo is going to do it (I think he’s a season off) we do need to strengthen in the wide areas.

 Anyway.  So long Freddie.  It’s been emotional.  Don’t get relegated

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?