Monthly Archives: August 2007

Sevilla, and “Dein-must-come-back” firmly down the loo.

Gawd, you’d thought it’d go away for once.

The new bogey-man to haunt Arsenal is a firm called Red & White Holdings Ltd , of which David Dein has now been made chairman after he sold his whole stake in Arsenal FC for £75million. Apparently, David Dein has all our best interests at heart in selling a huge chunk of the club to an investment company we’ve all long associated with Arsenal (note: sarcasm), ready for a cosy little hostile takeover. Yes, David Dein knows more about the inside workings of the club than the fans would, but can someone please demonstrate to me how (or why) we are going to use whatever ‘investment’ comes into Arsenal’s coffers? The board recently released a statement saying our profits are double the debt-repayments, and this is not even taking into account the Highbury-flats that will be sold in a few years.

The whole debacle wreaks of Dein-ego, and I’m sitting in fetal position, hands on head, singing myself to sleep in the hope that something can come good of it. None of this ‘Arsenal can be the Man Utd of the 21st century’ (Myles’ predictions are notoriously idiotic) – there is an ‘Arsena’ way of doing things, and even if that must be making your life as difficult for yourself as possible, then so be it. I’d hate for us to jump on a bandwagon for the sake of doing so.

And here, a telling quote: But there is only one club for David Dein and that is Arsenal.” If that isn’t ego, I do not know what is.

Anyways, to some less-glum news that had its limelight stolen by the orange-one – the Champions League draw happened last night, and we’re paired with Steau Bucharest, Slavia Prague and either Seville or AEK Athens. Personally, I really hope Seville gets through, just for the drawcard they present. If not, we cant really lose with AEK coming through neither, though our performances against Panathanaikos a few seasons back left much to be desired. A pretty decent draw, nevertheless.

Manuel Almunia was contemplating leaving for Spain in search of first team opportunities until Lehmann’s ‘injury’, the Daily Mail reports. Incidently, I love the photo they have – real proffesionalism if you can pull off a smile for the cameras while performing the keeper-acrobatics. Anyway, Manuel was quoted as saying:

Two weeks ago I was thinking about leaving. It’s very frustrating when you have the role of the second goalkeeper, or you are the cup goalkeeper. Now, though, I have the possibility of a few more games and I am much more happy. My life is different now. In one day, everything changes.

And here’s hoping to seeing more success to the man. And now it’s off to work – the last seconds of an open transfer window tick away all the time. Until later…

 

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Sparta slink away, Europe opens its doors.

Having had to get to work at sparrows’ hours this morning, I never got a chance to check on the score until a good five hours after the game concluded. It’s funny how your mind plays games and plans for the worst.

It was hardly that, though. A 3-0 win comfortably sees us through to the Champions League group stage, with Sparta nothing more than a silly memory. Rosicky opened the scoring on 8 minutes, effectively ending the tie. His very muted celebration – extremely apologetic, even – showed what kind of weight and sentiment he still holds for Sparta Prague. They used to be a great side as little as 5-8 years ago, and it’s a real shame they have that thug Repka to spoil it all for them, now. Kind of like Ajax playing with Robbie Savage, in a way. Rosicky’s finish was typical of the skill we all know he has, and just wish he’d finish like that more often – a first time sidefooted shot past the goalkeeper’s right, after a darting, dangerous dribble from Theo saw a cross cut up the Sparta defence to find Tomas.

After the goal, the team visibly eased up, with van Persie spurning a half chance, and Sparta getting past the defence once or twice. The result was never in any real doubt after the opener, and once Fabregas came on late in the second half, the pace of Arsenal’s play picked up.

The second goal involved some clever passing-to-self from Eduardo, though I question if that little dink of his down the left flank could be done against sterner opposition. Nevertheless, it was clever, Eduardo following the wingplay up with a cut back pass to Fabregas, whose finish was also rather sublime – pray to whatever deity you choose, but pray that this is a marvelous sign of things to come for the team. Finishing for the night was generally very good, and the result is giving the season some really good momentum, now. Come the 89th minute, the goal we’ve all been waiting for (thankfully, not too long neither), when Denilson’s cross from the right saw a stretching Eduardo nudge the ball in with his raised leg. Falling to the floor in relief, it wasn’t bad enough that his teammates saw fit to induce a rather carnal display on the new boy, but once they were all out of their pile, Eduardo decided to ‘go for seconds’ on Adebayor…very arousing, I’m sure. Hey, Freddie Mercury was a strange fellow, but brilliant. Let’s not get such frivolities in our way, now.

Later, Wenger was full of praise for the team, but particularly Theo Walcott, who had a blinder of a first half, reportedly. In short, Wenger went on about developing Walcott’s technique in the wide channels, which will be the same techniques he’ll need for when he begins to play centrally. The whole of what he said can be found here.

That, I’m afraid, is all there is time for today. A solid win, and one that gets us all on a bit of an ante, now. Long may it continue.

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Soliciting Ourselves to Strikers…

A glut of news today! My job so much easier. In some rather perculiar / tiresome / bizzare news, an Adriano loan offer from Inter Milan (which apparently has been made to a number of clubs besides us) has been rejected by Arsenal out of hand. Reportedly West Ham are now making serious bids to loan him for the season, which will bring about predictable calls of last season of “why haven’t we signed Masch/Tevez/Adriano” again, our ambition called into question, and such like things. In response to the offer (seemingly confirmed by Wenger’s response), Wenger said that the loan deal required our loaning back a player to them -believed to be Matthieu Flamini – which was out of the question. As for the need for a striker (and remember, the Championship Manager-hungry media always prefer strikers/attacking midfielders for transfer rumours), Wenger quashed it immediately, saying:

I have bought Eduardo Da Silva. I already had Emmanuel Adebayor and Robin van Persie and I brought Nicklas Bendtner back. I still have Theo Walcott and Abou Diaby can play through the middle. Why should I bring more forwards in? I have big faith in my squad and they’ve proved me right so far this season.

And apart from the quirk about Abou Diaby in my mind, it’s spot on. A defender would be nice to bring in, as well as Diarra, but a striker is just not necessary, and difficult to accomodate.

On Diarra, incidently, it looks quite likely he’ll at least leave Chelsea. As to whether we’re the one’s who are going to end up with him is another matter entirely – the only reason I keep my eye on this one is that it will add depth to the squad, especially seeing as we need more utility players to cover for niggly injuries. Flamini is definitely one on the list, but Diarra will be an assertive competition for Matthieu.

In some more downheartening news (or utter crap, you tell me), Jens Lehmann is ‘considering his options’ after being dropped in favour of Manuel ‘Sun God’ Almunia. Frankly, I can’t really pay it that much credence, rumour wise, for a number of reasons. Firstly; he has a whole season ahead to get his head straight, his confidence back and his arse firmly back into the starting lineup. Secondly; there is no way that Wenger will sanction his sale when all we have is Fabianski as backup. Thirdly; Arsenal are not wrecking his chances for German selection, it’s his own two fumbles that have cost us two points in the league that are doing this. I’m sure he’s mature enough to know that he just has to sort his head out in training, and within any number of games he’ll be back – unless of course, the Sun God proves himself to be a fine goalie, which I have a hunch he’ll be for a few games yet.

Wenger’s done his soundbytes for the day, speaking on both Tomas Rosicky and Johan Djourou. With regards to Rosicky, Wenger believes he is not at ‘optimum shape’ yet, and that a string of games without injury is important for his development into the squad. Which is what we’re all hoping for, essentially. Several fans have slated Rosicky for his latest performances, against Sparta in particular – yes, the left side of that match was rather anonymous for most of it, but the Fulham and Man City games, for me, have been very encouraging on his side of things. Give it a bit more time before conclusions are drawn.

On Djourou, Wenger simply wants the young defender to be playing regularly. Worryingly, he is not worried at all at the prospect of Gilberto or Alex Song in defence.  Importantly, however, Wenger sounds like he’ll opt for Jourou as first choice replacement for Kolo Toure in January, saying

I wanted him to be experienced. I know Kolo will go in January [to the African Nations Cup] and I want Johan to play.

Which would sate the anti-Senderos camp (why are we all so factioned up?), but it’s good to hear he’s in Wenger’s plans. We all just wish we weren’t so thin on the ground at the present time.

On an aside note, Liverpool are reportedly after the one and only Julio Baptista. As hilarious as that news is, it can be tempered with the rather exceptional display the Kop paid to that little Evertonian kid in the news, recently. I’d hope we could do similar classy things for Tottenham. They need all the happiness they can get these days.

And that’s your lot. Sparta Prague tonight, and I…really don’t want to jinx anything with my predictions. Fingers crossed.  Fare thee all well.

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Preach to me, Ade…

Only a slight improvement on yesterday’s no-show with regards to news, and I say only slight…

Adebayor has spoken about his partnership with Robin van Persie and how it can make up for Thierry’s absence and then some.

Give us time. We understand each other off the pitch, so we are just trying to do it on the pitch. I hope we can score plenty of goals. I just want to do my best – if that is 15 goals or 20 goals, just as high as possible.

Another much maligned member of the squad (we have a few, these days), I’m confident Ade can hit the 15 mark at least – which is about the same as we can expect from Eduardo (note: no 30-goal fantasies from Myles Palmer, who incidentally is the leader of the anti-Adebayor bandwagon). As for van Persie, we have to be a bit more delirious and hope for 25 goals or so. It’s tough, almost too much to ask, but heck. People went bananas over Nani, why not us?

Overall, Adebayor’s interview does not reveal too much that’s new, other than the fact the team cannot underestimate Sparta Prague in tomorrow’s return leg for Champions League qualifying. Sure, two away goals is healthy, but Steau Bucharest won the Champions Cup in the eighties, i.e, anything can happen.

Arsene Wenger has spoken about Arsenal’s reasonably good start to the season, comparing it to last seasons’ troubled affairs. He says:

At this stage of last season, we had only two points and were already under mental pressure. A team like Manchester United are big enough to deal with that and come back. But we were a very young side and it was a bit too much for us. It was important to get a good start this time and we have done that.

And it’s all generally true. Man Utd’s position is quite hilarious, but make no mistake that it should only be temporary. Still, it is shooting themselves in the foot. As for us, even the ‘easy’ fixtures we have ahead of us in the form of Portsmouth, Tottenham and Derby mean we have to concentrate like foreign-exchange students in big libraries. Portsmouth and Tottenham are challenging, difficult fixtures, irrelevant of who’s hosting the match, and it’d be so bloody typical if Derby decided, ‘just for a change’, to turn up against us.

Not much else apart from the fact some blog is linking us to Urby Emmanuelson. Yawn.

Stay well in the meantime, pups.

 

 

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Getting Physical

Not much to report today: a redefinition of ‘slow news’, I think.

William Gallas has spoken about the need to get physical (yet again) with the upcoming Sparta Prague game.

“Sparta were physical but to be honest I think we are a physical side when we need to be. We were against Fulham and again against Sparta. I said to the players that sometimes we are going to have to play a physical game – it depends on who we are playing.”

 

It hints at the fact the team may start adapting tactics to different opponents, which is subtly unWenger-esque. Though it isn’t wholesale changes, more of a tactical methodology. It’s encouraging, is what I’m trying to say. The match itself should be interesting – will complacency creep in? The Emirates supporters have tended towards the European approach (particularly against Chelsea) when it comes to letting the opposition know how well they can whistle. If they can be made to feel less welcome (and I definitely include ‘not gifting them an away goal in the first five minutes’, here), it might just blunt any over-physicality Sparta might employ. I just hope this is the case, instead of letting our own players know exactly how to play football. It remains laughable, still.

 

On team selection, I can only hope Senderos regains fitness soon. Gilberto is not a natural central defender, and the Djourou loan has been castigated enough throughout the blogosphere. Alex Song? I shalt not rile.

 

An interesting article in The Times with regards to ‘the courage to fail‘. Quite liked it, myself. For now, that’s really all there is. If some news occurs later in the evening, I shall update. Stay cozy in the meantime.

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Last Season Written All Over, Only…not.

What a frustrating night. Get over to the uncle’s to watch the footy on the big-screen, only to find we cannot get the Active to work because (cue Daniboy) Austar don’t have nuttin’ until September 8. A night filled with Gamecast and sporadically watching Chelsea and Portsmouth bore the hell out of each other (though, Portsmouth did themselves proud).

A 1-0 win to see us keep up our encouraging start to the season, and it’s hard to make up the mind about some facets of the game, isn’t it? An 80th-minute Cesc Fabregas winner from a sweet, sharp angle brought as much relief as any after a missed van Persie penalty and plenty of faffing around around Man City’s box.

As lauded as their defence is, Man City really were looking like clowns at one stage, and it’s very infuriating that we could not put them to the sword because of it. Richards and Dunne were desperate at times, as Kasper Schmeicel looked quite clueless dealing with crosses in particular. Man City were not without their fair share of chances; Petrov and Mpenza in particular spurning good chances.

One player to really shine (and a well timed incidence it is too) was Manuel Almunia. Two very good saves off of Petrov and Schmeicel (of all people, right at the death) meant he’s made the right start to any run in the team he’s going to have, now. May the sun bounce off your head like so many angelic fluffs, ‘Munia.

Still, mix and match what to make of the game itself. In the end, we won, with a clean sheet (albeit with Gilberto in defence – would have preferred giving Senderos a better go). But we’re still driving the stadium fans up the wall with the “shoot, shoot!” wails getting very noticeable as ever. The win is encouraging, no doubt – I just hope it’s not encouraging the wrong thing. Still, Hleb was very good value for his assist – he still vindicates my faith in his dribbling ability, which had the defenders very unsure throughout the game. A bit too much sideways passing, though.

Adebayor’s return to the team was good, in parts – one backpass of his splitting the defence wide open, but there’s still a bit of rust to be rid of in time. Gilberto in central defence means he isn’t as effective a player in closing down the opposition, relying on the hard-working but less gifted Flamini in front of him. I really would love to see Senderos given another go in defense with Gilberto in his proper position.

As for those bemoaning our lack of signings, I ask who we would really want that would change the team mentality. A winger would cross more, but I see no reason why Clichy and Rosicky wouldn’t try any of that anyway. The only signing that’s been bandied about that would make any real sense, really, is Chelsea’s Diarra, funnily enough. A utility player to bulken up the squad ever so slightly. Frankly, with the new scrappy mentality the team’s acquired, a winger would not make too much difference. We’re still creating chances, whether you like it or not.

All for today, have to say. News and other whatnots tomorrow, of which time I cannot say the blog will be posted. Probably early morning for the Euro-readers. Here’s hoping.

Ciao for now…

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Wenger’s Feeling Jol-ly

An interesting morning’s news to say the least. We’ll start with Wenger, who’s been chatty per usual leading up to the Man City game tonight. Firstly, he’s refuted any know-it-alls who are jumping to conclusions with regards to Wenger’s contract and David Dein. In response to the speculation, Wenger stated “There are no major problems. And it’s not linked with David Dein. I’m friends with David but it is not connected with my contract talks.” I did not immediately feel that such questions even deserved a response, but he’s quelled the little paranoid voice on his shoulder for now, I guess. Wenger has also come to the aid of (of all people) Martin Jol, saying the circus that is Tottenham Hotspur needs to show more patience. It’s a wonderfully philosophical article that reminds me why I like football so much.

Jumping in against Wenger, however, is the young upstart we all used to like, David Moyes. He goes on to say that Blackburn are a ‘commited’ team (euphemisms are handy things), and that Wenger generally needs to shut his trap. Being a manager of a team that are also generally made up of rednecks with very little skill themselves (Arteta, Johnson, Cahill: exempt), you’d generally feel empathy for similar teams to you. And blinded to your own similar flaws as well. Clearly the pro-Blackburn brigade just handily ignore the sock puppet that is Robbie Savage. Moving right along…

Update: Why everyone is against Wenger is beyond me.

Transfer rumours see Arsenal and Man Utd reportedly interrested in Toulouse’s Moussa Sissoko, and Mourinho (with the recent purchase of Belletti *shudder*) may be looking to offload Lassana Diarra, now.

Man CityManchester City tonight, then. League leaders, for once in their lives, and they’re not doing too badly, as some might suggest (…really?). They had a fortunate win against Man Utd at Old Trafford last time out (most wins at Old Trafford require some degree of fortune), and despite the array of new attacking talent at their disposal, they still play relatively defensively. I can see Arsenal winning this match, by hook or by crook, due to two things: One – if Man City play overly defensively, they’ll have to adapt to a very new strategy for one match, which against quality opposition could be their undoing. Gilberto, Diaby, Adebayor and Rosicky all return for the match, with Gilberto and Rosicky expected to start. Gilberto’s return could see Geovanni and Elano’s threat neutralised somewhat, and shots from distance really have to be canceled out. Secondly – if they resort to an attacking play, it will be very naive a strategy, as we should slash most teams to ribbons if this were the case. An Arsenal win? 2-0 isn’t very farfetched.

Some housekeeping before I finish – blogs may be shifted into the evenings or late afternoons from now on: That means early mornings for the European readers. Moving house sees me without internet for a month or so, and it’s libraries for me, like the good student I am. And with such an arrangement, hyperlinking to stories may be minimalised in future, so as to give you a more indepth read in the limited time we all have. The stories are all easily accessible on Newsnow, anyway.

In the meantime, all one can scream and shout is “Go you riproaring up-the-arse Red (and white)s!”.

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