Monthly Archives: July 2007

So Long Reyes, and Winning Things…

Jogging in winter makes you remember that hands are indeed ‘extremities’.

A quick blog today. Most of the news circles around Robin van Persie, as he goes on the PR rampage in upping Arsenal’s title-tilting chances this season. Robin apparently doesn’t feel any pressure or obligation to be the top scorer this season, saying he ‘doesn’t plan’ on the goals he scores. “You play to win things, yes. But I play football because I like it. I will destroy that feeling if I say to myself I have to score at least 20 goals or 15 goals. Things have to come out of nothing and this is what happened against Inter. I wasn’t expecting that goal. It just came out of nothing.

Upon watching his goal again, it occured to me: Even Christiano Ronaldo hasn’t done anything quite that good. It was too subtle for him.

More RVP, more get-on-up-you-gooners talk. He’s really bringing out his youth in his quotes, here – but by the sounds of both him and Cesc, there’s a bit of fire growing in this team’s furnace: “Football is not about age. It is not about money. It is not about those things. Football is about if you want to run for each other, if you want to fight for each other, if you want to really play some ball.”

Cesc reiterates, making a chuckle-worthy comment about what the opposition said during the run of play: “Some of the Inter players were saying during the game, ‘Don’t make me run so much, you play so well’. If some players from Inter say that, it means something. We have a very young squad but we’re not scared of anything and want to win things.” Cesc also makes the mention of having a ‘big squad’, replacing those that get injured. More signings?

Well, firstly, Reyes is off, and much to the fans chagrin, he will not be getting a testimonial match. After years and years of faithful service, the hard-working, battlehardened, never-to-complain Jose A. Reyes is being scuppered off to Athletico Madrid, for a reported £8m. Somebody sack Wenger. Sack him now.

We’re also being continually linked with Chelsea’s Lassana Diarra.  I really haven’t got a clue how he’d fit into the side, utility player or not. Also, it’s worth mentioning that even in the Sky Sports article, absolutely no quotes from anyone are to be found. Expect him to go to Blackburn, Man City or the like.  That, and Kerrea Gilbert is off on a six-month loan to Southend. Not Birmingham, or Norwich, or Wolves – Southend. So begins the end of the Englishman’s Arsenal career, alas – With the famous, chilling words: “Everyone at Arsenal FC would like to wish Kerrea the best of luck for his time with Southend.” Brrr.

That’s about all for today. Hopefully the spamming will stop – comments are allowed only for previously approved IPs. First-timers will be moderated, but even if you’re a Spurs fan coming to tell me how awesome Chimbonda is, you’ll still more than likely get on. I’m just not interested in Franco, ‘tsall. Ciao.

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…’Told you Hleb was Good…

InterTwo matches in two days feels a little wierd. But hey. Action, action, action!

A come from behind 2-1 victory saw Arsenal win the inaugural Emirates Cup in front of 55,000 fans at Ashburton Grove. A quick-reply goal from Hleb and a cut-back-thunderbolt from van Persie late on saw the home side win both the match against Inter as well as the tournement, as Valencia succumbed to PSG 0-3.

Arsenal completely dominated Inter Milan from the start, with Inter’s ‘keeper the difference between full-possession and a large scoreline. van Persie had a shot saved on the half hour, as well as a deflected freekick on the byline batted away somehow. Typical, then, that Arsenal were to concede first early on in the second half – Suazo heading in after outjumping Gallas on 60 minutes. How many times have I seen Gallas beaten to the ball in the past season? Essien’s equaliser against us late on in the season comes to mind immediately (the header, not the wild shot from out west).

It was just five minutes later, however, that Arsenal equalised through Alex Hleb. Breaking through, his initial shot rebounded off of Toldo, and on the second attempt, slotted home for 1-1. At this point, a lot of match reports are highlighting what a brilliant game Hleb actually had – and it seems poignant that he has literally shone in the friendlies when played on the left, but even more so in an advanced central position. Food for thought.

Arsenal left it late, and the best for last, so it seems, when van Persie turned his marker inside-out, upside-down, back and forth to blast into the top corner to win the cup. I only hope there’s more of that to come this season.

An interesting quote after the match from Wenger, responding to possible defensive weaknesses: “We have to work on that. In the air we have to be more efficient because in England that’s an important way to stop goals. For me Senderos played very, very well yesterday and he is good in the air. We have Djourou, who is injured at the moment, as well. So I feel we don’t want to buy a centre back.”

And so ends any speculation over Senderos’ future, one would hope. It’s a short blog due to time constraints today, but thankfully there’s a small break before the last two friendlies. In other news, Wenger plays down him having dinner with David Dein the other night (it’s not like they’re sleeping together or anything), Roeder is apparently ‘on the shortlist’ but no contact has been had with him over any appointment for Director of Football, and Reyes might be off to Athletico Madrid. Please, someone, get that fiasco over with.

And that’s all there’s time for today. Wonder how many spam comments I’ll have to delete when I get back.

Stay well, my pretties.

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Smile on me, Fortune.

Arsenal ended up on the right side of the scoreline in their inaugural Emirates Cup clash with Paris St Germain, running out 2-1 winners in a match they certainly didn’t dominate for any long stretch of time.

Flamini and Bendtner were the scorers, with Bendtner missing a penalty in the late stages that could have seen us go out with a two-goal advantage. A very interesting line up came out in the first half, with Diaby on the left and Flamini on the right. It should hopefully mean Wenger is at least looking for a wide man of sorts – the second half was slightly more interesting when Hleb replaced van Persie, and took up a central attacking role, much like his old Stuttgart position, and the team seemed more comfortable with the changes, which also saw Eboue take up the right wing in front of Justin Hoyte at fullback.

A full match report can be found here. Overall, good to see the finishing improving slightly: PSG mirrored what we were last season, given their first half dominance. But it seriously means we must find at least one wide player out of the hat, somewhere. Diaby/Flamini is just not a title-winning combination for wingers. They just aren’t wingers, for a start.

Post-match, Wenger spoke about ‘the hardworking performance’, Eduardo’s work permit, and the possibility of signing Anelka, interestingly enough. If I have to say it again, Anelka would be a luxury signing that would paper over the cracks, and not solve any pressing issues. Yes, it would be nice to have him competing with RVP, Ade and Eduardo, but he cant exactly play on the wing regularly now, can he?

On Bendtner, Wenger remarked: ‘I felt he of course lacks some experience but we have seen ingredients and think that there is a special talent…He is quick, much quicker than people think and there is a lot to work on and I feel there is good potential.’ Well, so long as he’s quick – when playing for Birmingham, he seemed a little stilted at times, but hopefully it’s just a matter of playing in the right system.

An interesting article on the prospect of Glenn Roeder, of all people, becoming Arsenal’s new Director of Football. It mentions Wenger’s preference to develop youth due to restrictions on spending, but Wenger’s already refuted this, saying “I can bring in who I want and the board do not interfere in that, unless there is a compulsory financial situation that we cannot afford.” Basically, money shouldnt be an issue, unless you’re dreaming of Tevez or David Villa, in the £20-30m range. We’ve never signed players in that price range, and wont be for a few seasons yet. Bloody good players can be bought in for as little as £7m, you know. Interestingly enough, I do believe we’ve spent more than Chelsea this season, haven’t we?

And that’s all for now. If a youtube report props up, I’ll slap it on here for your pleasure. Always, pleasure.

Update: Flamini and Bendtner goals here:

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The Signs are there: Wenger is Staying…

Another chilly morning Down Under…

It’s a Wenger-flavoured blog today – and with good reason (comes good news). Predictably, the journos immediately ask him if he’s staying for the umpteenth time. Again, Wenger has reiterated “I have shown since I arrived here that I am very faithful. I will speak about the future at the right moment. You have to respect my decision.”

A crash-course in key-demographics for you: The part that Arsenal fans will typically highlight is ‘I am very faithful.’ The segment Spurs fans will subtly remark upon is ‘You have to respect my decision.’ Alarm bells! Every man for himself! The fact is, Wenger has done this all before. Prior to the 2003/04 season (Invincible Sombrero), Wenger’s contract was also doing that annoying thing contracts do near to their closure, and the media wouldn’t give up on the fact that Arsenal were heading for catastrophe come the ‘imminent’ Wenger departure. He signed in October, we won the league. In this case, expect Wenger to sign around December/January or so. To win the league? Well, ever the optimist.

How can I be so sure of his staying, apart from precedent? Wenger’s analysis on the team is incredibly encouraging: On the team’s mentality, he remarked upon “…the desire and anger for success, the togetherness of the players have been greater than ever. I am very excited because of what I feel and I saw during the camp. I am impatient.”

Impatient? Screw us all sideways, this is pep-talk and a half! Wenger feels the minimum requirement for this season is the League Title. Yes, the League Title. Unlike those neighbours down the road who are convinced they’re on their way to overtaking us. If it was down to pure, unadulterated ambition, Tottenham wouldn’t come close to the denotation. Darren Bent, of Ipswich Town and Charlton-fame, believes Arsenal need to watch their backs in the forth coming league season. Apparently Tottenham are ‘aiming’ to get forth place. Here lies the crucial difference between the two clubs. Arsenal quite clearly has a different definition of ambition, and one club clearly has a Freudian-case of inferiority-complex.

Back to Wenger, and further evidence he is staying – in spite of whether we get taken over by the Cookie-Monster or Frankenstone – in the form of more Wenger quotes:
“It is important that I concentrate on what is my role. The players and myself are focused on what we want to achieve together. I stay in my role. I don’t have to take part in the financial sphere.”

One has to carefully read between the lines on some other interviews on Arsenal.com. If you want some insider information, look no further than Paul Le Guen. Close friend of Wenger’s, possibly on the shortlist to replace Wenger’s fifth bionic clone three centuries from now, and with a telling quote to spill:
I am optimistic for them. They have a very good team and a very young team. They will do well despite the players who have left. They still have enough good players to have a strong team. I talked to Arsène and he is very confident. He really, really loves coaching this team. I like to see happy managers and Arsène is a manager who seems happy.” Appropriate bits and bobs highlighted.

Yes, it was an in depth view on what we already knew. No, it wont make the speculation go away. But I wont have much breath to deal with any more tiresome speculation, unless it’s just particularly hilarious. Or ironic. I hope for the former.

Meanwhile, ANR reckons Ryan Garry is on trial with Bournemouth with a view to a one-year deal. A little sad, really – injuries robbed him of almost a certain role in the Arsenal team, which could have arrived as early as three seasons ago. That and we’re being linked with Chelsea’s remarkably overhyped and rather mediocre player, Lassana Diarra. I never got what was so great about Obi-Mikel, neither. Oh well. Interestingly enough, we’re allegedly still waiting on a work permit for Eduardo – though that link is pinkfootball.

Arsenal.com continues to claw its way back to the days of 2001/02 when it was actually worth reading through – with the Emirates Cup beginning tonight, three players are set to miss the entire competition (a grand total of two matches in two days), them being Adebayor, Walcott and Rosicky. Apparently they should be ready for the last friendly against Ajax. Two days over two matches means we’ll be seeing two completely different Arsenal XIs playing, as well.

Additionally, Diaby talks about his time with PSG, and it’s nice to see an old, friendly face again. And of course, the small matter of Gilberto being captain.

PSGPSG tonight (I think that’s Afternoon for our European readers…). A slightly more reserve-batch expected in this one, not listing an entire team, but Hoyte, Fabianski, Randall, Traore, Bendtner, Barazite and Walcott might take the field, here. Bit redundant, trying to guess – but there might be less wholesale changes at half time than usual in a friendly, given the space between games.

I trust you’re all sleeping well?

{incidently, the spell checker in Mozilla doesnt like ‘Tottenham’. It suggests, instead: ‘Misbegotten’, ‘Rottens’, ‘Rottenly’, ‘Rottener’ and ‘Hottentot’.}

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Winging it with William

Gooooood morning, Goonerdom.

Somethings can slightly pique my nerves. Ever so slightly. One of those things are the things said by Wenger about ‘not replacing Ljungberg’. *gulp*…bit of a worry, chaps? The opinion on this site is that wingers are needed, and then some, so Wenger saying this could mean two things – One: it’s a smokescreen to stop the media from linking Arsenal to all wingers in sundry, lowering the price before the ‘surprise, surprise’ sneaky-move by Arsene for exactly that; or Two: he kind-of means it. ‘Maybe there’s no other Ljungberg’, or some such-like thing. Or perhaps he’s happy with what he’s got. This will be the third season with such a contentment, and the vultures will really be circling if he’s going to settle for no replacements. We wait in hope. “But it is too early to say…”, says Wenger – little tease, isn’t he?

The other mini-controversy that’s come about was the naming of William Gallas as captain for the match yesterday, and Wenger’s pondering the longevity of such an installment. It was an interesting choice, but seeing as Gilberto captained with distinction for the majority of last season, Wenger will find it hard (as will all of us) to ignore this experience. He’s captain of Brazil, for crying out loud.

Before too many slag Gallas off too much (and by no means am I a huge fan of his, but still), bare in mind that Gallas had a method to his madness in those outbursts last season. I’m particularly remembering the mention of abandoning Arsenal’s zonal marking system for a man-to-man. If anyone knows what he’s talking about there, it’s William. Kolo Toure should be captain before Gallas ever gets it, and Gilberto is still the resounding first-preference for me, but Gallas stepping in as captain for the odd match might just see some kind of ‘difference’ to the defence. Cynically, we’ve seen a huge difference to our defence, in that since William got transfered here, we’ve been leaking goals all in sundry (yes, that’s right, after Senderos got dropped with World Cup injury). I still think Arsene will give the armband to Gilberto.

Alex Hleb talks about his need to ‘be more selfish’ in this article, and most would nod appreciatively. Not much more needs to be said about that; it’s good to see Hleb is aware of his faults as a player, and is trying, at least, to improve on them. I’m still of the belief we’ll be seeing a better Hleb this season. Whether that just means more assists, or a handful of goals, either or would be fine.

And then of course, there’s little Jose Antonio Reyes. Something must have irked him in London that he so desperately wants to get out, even as far as Lyon. Real pity, in a way, if you think of his late-03/04, early-04/05 form, which was quite incredible.

We’ll all go cry for Argentina, now.

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Not Quite 4-0, and Djourou

Sleep was non-existent, last night. As a result, this post will be short but sweet.

So Arsenal lose their final Austrian friendly against a side whose season is already underway, finishing on the wrong side of a 1-0 scoreline. Interesting notes on the match included Eduardo’s first full 90 minutes for Arsenal – in which he was the main threat throughout the match, though the back of the net didn’t seem to mind much, though – Rosicky’s early withdrawal on 30 minutes, Eboue being played on the right wing, Gallas as captain and Djourou’s withdrawal.

As mentioned, Eduardo was pacy and dangerous at times, and on a number of occassions should/would/could have scored. Bendtner had a good moment or two when brought on as well, but it’s not like the ego’s stinging from losing a friendly. Rosicky’s the only worry, and we await news on his injury for the time being. Fabregas was also pulled out of the match beforehand with a knee injury, but the seriousness of it is still somewhat vague. For the moment, everyone else seems unscathed.

Djourou’s withdrawal is interesting, given the constant links with Birmingham. We cannot afford to lose anymore players, particularly Djourou, and our backup is thin as it is. Djourou is part of that, and I can’t see him leaving. Expect me to be running around rooms waving arms frantically if he does, though.

On a completely unrelated note: Feel glad for Frank Lampard’s sake he doesnt play for West Ham anymore

And at this moment here, that is all for now. More news on Rosicky and Fabregas when it comes.

Until times of less political duress…

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I Finally Have a Headline with Senderos In It

So Ljungberg left with some sour comments aimed at the club, keeping up the fashionable “I hate Arsenal” being spouted by a host of ex-players and departures. He’s been unveiled as West Ham’s Numero Seven, incidently – I always said over the years he was the poor man’s Beckham, though that was more down to the Calvin Klein rubbish.

SenderosNews of the day is awarded to the Senderos-to-Juve rumour that’s popped up again. Juventus are seeking to replace Man City’s purchase of Chiellini, who (get this) signed for £6.75million. If Chiellini *snigger* is worth that, Senderos is worth £10million, easily. Not quite what Juve are offering, though. I would be very disappointed to see him leave – a young defender who has staggering potential, apart from what the doom-mongers have to say, and showed this immensely in 04/05, 05/06 (Champions League, much?), and had second-season syndrome a season late in 06/07. So we’re dropping him? I’d very much be surprised to see him go, though it’s worrying that I can’t find him in the pre-season training photos anywhere. Mark Randall does look like the token Francis Jeffers-lookalike every team must have, though.

Wenger has given an excellent interview in light of Ljungberg’s departure, the most telling quotes for me is this: “It’s unbelievable how much money has been spent. There’s a lot of money out there and I’m just looking to develop the players we have here…..Whenever I look at a potential new player, the question I always ask myself is: ‘Is he good enough to win the League?’ If he isn’t, I don’t buy him.”
Well said, Arsene. And he’s exactly right. I just hope there’s a galactic-championship-winger in the pipeline somewhere. Again – the figure spent is completely irrelevant, and the money spent by Man Utd, Liverpool, and even Chelsea on Malouda has enormous potential to be quite embarrassing in the medium term. Of course, not buying the right players for us has exactly the same potential.

An interesting revelation into the patchiness of Myles Palmer’s memory: My question is…’what kick in the face?’. Le Sigh.

In other news, Gouffran is staying with Caen (quote end quote), Nordtveit is quite the fashionista, van Persie is targeting the Emirates Cup as A Sort of Homecoming (to quote U2), Traore is relishing the clash with PSG himself, and Kolo is the party boy we all knew him to be.

Red Bull SalzburgAnd it’s Salzburg later today. 2-0 in the first match, 3-0 in the second, …anyone up for 4-0? A few more ‘mass substitutions’ expected in this one. It really depends on how the first half goes, one would think. So long as everyone’s getting fit and and not getting injured, unlike those little ‘rivals’ down in Durban. Oh well.

Stay well, my fine Gooner chums. And that pesky Liverpoodle I love so much.

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