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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William Gallas Is No Idiot + Wednesday Round-Up

Stupid work.  Stupid job.  I’m in a really bad mood today, after I started out all bright and cheerful.  I hate it when that happens – you go into work actually not minding being there, and then things happen that make you want to draft a resignation letter and walk out right that minute.  Gah!  I can’t believe I’ve got to go back there tomorrow and suffer it all again.  I sometimes wish I’d been better at football as a kid – then all I’d have to worry about now would be trying not to swerve off the road if I only got offered a £5000 weekly pay rise.

Anyway.  Enough of that.  Onto some football.

Mouthy git, William Gallas, is proving that he’s not stupid.  No, far from it in fact.  The astute Frenchman has realised that the fans were getting a little narked about his constant complaining and mediocre performances, combined with lengthy periods out through injury.  For a player of his obvious talents it was a little galling to hear him criticise the younger players in the team, when he wasn’t showing what he could do on the pitch either.  Now, he’s clearly realised that we expect more from a seasoned international player – thanks in no small part to the power of the internet.  Gallas has hs own website.  He ran a poll recently asking what his most memorable moments were in the season gone.  I don’t know what the winning option was, but I can assure you it wasn’t “His uncontested leadership of the Arsenal defence” or “His magnificent 3 registered league goals”.  More likely, the winning option was “His absence through injury”.  This, combined with the weight of opinion floating around the internet that he was being a dick, must’ve filtered in to the brain of the net savvy Gallas.  Now the Frenchman has become the Official Youth Spokesman™ for the club.  Speaking at a Premier League event, Gallas said,

“This season, the young players really, really want to win one trophy. They won’t be bullied this season. They don’t want people to keep saying Arsenal are just young kids. When I train with them, I don’t see them as young kids. I see only players who are ready to fight.”

Sure, he caveats his comments with “this season”, but it is a nice change to hear one of the most experienced players in the squad get behind his teammates.  For way too long, Gallas was a bit of a twat, insofar as he would constantly blame shift, never admitting that he himself should shoulder some of the criticism that was aimed at the gunners – particularly the defence.  This term, he seems keen to take on that responsibility and with it the currently vacant captain’s role, by adding,

“I have a lot of personality. When I’m on the pitch, I want to win everything. I want to fight because I like to win. I don’t like losing. Sometimes, you have to speak with the other players and explain to them how they can be in joy at the end of the game.”

I’m not really sure who is the best man for the job of captain.  But I reckon Gallas, if he can practice what he preaches, would be a good choice.  And that’s taking nothing away from Kolo or Gilberto, who are both in with a good chance of wearing the armband for next season.

Another player who can’t seem to shut his gob, but for the right reasons, is Robin van Persie.  Henry’s replacement (soundbite-wise) has been bigging up little Theo Walcott.

“I have been practising with Theo since June 18 and I can assure you that he is up for it big time. “When we were doing tests over the summer it was very hard. We were running every day with the fitness coach and I could see it in his face he was really going for it…His ambition is one of the biggest things about him. He is just 18 but I see in him a big, big desire achieve his goals.”

The Guardian is running an article about the 10 best summer signings.  They’re not in any particular order (as far as I can see), but featured among them is a certain Mr da Silva.  It remains to be seen whether he can really live up to the hype generated by his storming season at Zagreb last time around, but the player himself says he’s not afraid of what awaits him ove the coming months.

Arsene Wenger has given his backing to Gael Clichy for a France call-up.  The young left back had a great 06/07 season, and really grew into his role.  In the pre-season he seems to have picked up right where he left off, and augmented this with some great displays playing on the left flank.  If he continues to develope at this rate, and if Gallas can show he’s prepared to step up and put in some big performances, then we will finally be able to laugh at Chel$ki and their “second best left back in the league”.  All the while counting our clean sheets and our extra £5million we found down the back of Arsene’s sofa.

Another player off on loan, this time to Colchester, is Matthew Connolly.  Break a leg, Matthew.  Actually, on second thoughts, don’t

Right.  That’s it for today.  Have a good ‘un

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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