Monthly Archives: September 2007

Usmanov Increases Stake

A brief blog as we await a hard-to-call West Ham game tonight.

News prior to the local derby centres around Alisher ‘Take it Up with the Hutts?’ Usmanov, who has increased his stake in the club to 25% ownership. The board have met with Red and White – the meeting being described as ‘constructive’ (how so, Mr Fitzman?) – and reiterated their stance on the lockdown agreement that is in place until April next year.

Usmanov’s purchases are intimidating, certainly, and it would be interesting to know who’s selling up – though that would probably result in their lynching in the late hours of the night. The only ‘new news’ that can come out of this saga is what Kroenke will have to say about all of this – the AGM this year will prove to be very interesting.

The only other news prior to the game of any significance is Wenger’s “I wont buy Superstars for nobody” spiel, which can be found here. I particularly love his comparison of football players to tennis stars, in which Wenger remarks:

What people have problems to accept in football, is that it’s like tennis. You can be No 1 in tennis in March and No 10 in November. Football players are the same.

Not Shankley or anything, but it’s at least a swipe at Ronaldinho, who really is nothing more than the drag-queen of football these days. The longer Barcelona remains a laughing stock (well, at least with Ronaldinho), the happier I am.

A-WHU-29SEPAlmost as happy as I’d be with a win tonight. I’m heading out to a nice open street pub to watch it – and I’ll be flanked by Hammers. Always fun.

Pray to whatever gods you adore to bring about the 4-0 romp we all feel coming. In our favour, of course.

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Banana Skins

Writing in a mad rush is only so much fun so few a time…

Not all that much new to report on today. The focus is on the West Ham game coming up, and I am increasingly getting the feeling it’s a big banana-skidder to derail our start to the season. Ability-wise, we’re head and shoulders above the Hammers, but time and time again they’ve played very well against us in recent match-ups. Three wins in their last three games in the head-to-head against Arsenal, so in no way will this game be easy, especially at Upton Park.

Alan Curbishly, West Ham’s manager, is pondering rotating his squad around, and will probably consider a defensive makeup for his squad. The game could see a reunion with former Arsenal favourite Fredrik Ljungberg, but whether his loss of pace will decide against his being chosen against us is one to wait and find out for.

Alexander Song has joined the injury list of Gallas, Lehmann and Rosicky, but Alex Hleb is reported to be nearing fitness, and a late decision will be made on his place in the team once his knee is properly analyzed. Reportedly, Lehmann should reach ‘fitness’ (whatever that means) in a week, when we’ll see a good right tussle for the keeper’s spot; Gallas is reckoned to be ready in ten days, and Rosicky might return for the Sunderland match.

Finally,Wenger has praised the full-depth of his squad in light of the second-string’s victory over Newcastle, saying:

We have shown technical maturity and looked strong in every department. With this team, we can have a chance against anybody.

 Players like Bendtner, Diarra, Denilson and Hoyte are already easily considered part of the ‘first-squad’, and with players like Armand Traore also pushing hard to challenge, the strength in depth is very real and very encouraging. You hear that Man Utd? God, Nani and Anderson are rubbish.

And with that, I run to work. I’m being attacked by ants as we speak! The excitement, terror and revelations there-of…

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Hill-Wood, Gallas and Bendtner all Rabbit on…

Good morning, one and all. A hasty blog so that I can actually get to work on time.

Peter Hill-Wood has done a fair bit of talking lately, speaking about takeover prospects, mostly. If Arsene had left after David Dein, he has been quoted as saying, then Arsenal would have been in foreign hands by now. He says:

 “I would have gone, too. I do think about who would we replace Arsene with and I then shut the thought out of my mind because I have no idea. There aren’t many world-class managers and I think we have been extremely fortunate in having the best one there is.

 

Hill-Wood has also warned clubs that Arsenal will not pay over the odds for players simply because of their new status as the world’s second-richest club – that will be an interesting development come January or June. One to keep an eye on.

 

Keeping eyes on, very much like the way we follow our reserve players so much – the win against Newcastle is actually more amazing than most are giving it credit for these days. Remember all the hype surrounding Newcastle’s signing of Sam Allardyce, and with all the new money pumped into the club how they might be a force in the Premier League now? Arsene Wenger comes along, with a side written off by all and sundry, and beats them with his second string deliberately.

 

God, I love the guy.

 

In other news, William Gallas has spoken about his frustration with his injury-streak during his time with the club, and also how the team is all the better without Henry. With regards to his return, he says:

 

I will be back but I don’t know when. I don’t want to set a target. We are top of the table, though, and playing well so I want to be part of it.

 

And lastly, Niklas “Robbie” Bendtner has demonstrated his cocky confidence (and it’s quite infectious) in this article on Sky Sports. It’s all there’s time for today, but matches are coming thick and fast for the moment, so there’s no time for boredom.

No time, I say!

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That Carling Cup Lure…

How does Wenger keep doing it? No, I’m not referring to the extraordinarily good start to the season, nor am I referring expressly to another ‘giant killing’. I refer to the line of youngsters that he keeps on producing in such a Fordist way, it’s as exciting as it is scary.

So Arsenal overcome Newcastle in a 2-0 win to advance to the fourth round of the Carling Cup. A bullet-header from Niklas Bendtner and a scorching 25-yard drive in the final minute from Denilson sealed a match where the Arsenal ‘youngsters’ dominated Newcastle in large spells, but it was not without a fair bit of heroics neither.

It seems no-one can make up their mind about Senderos’ form. At times, he’s worryingly short of confidence and doesn’t emit much of an assured aura in matches. I still cling onto the brilliance he showed in 04/05 and 05/06 – the old ‘where there’s smoke, there’s fire’, but ‘Ponderous’ is too annoying a nickname to shake away. Phillipe let in several chances for Newcastle early on in the game before Arsenal grabbed the ascendency – but he then balances it all out with a brilliant goalline clearance straight after Bendtner’s goal. Obafemi Martins went completely around Fabianski (who had a good debut), but Senderos arrived to dramatically maintain the 1-0 advantage.

Senderos also escaped a penalty incident when Martins bungled over him – he’s a character events happen around, certainly. Once they got settled, the football produced by the young team was exciting, if slightly unsure at times. Bendtner and Eduardo didn’t exactly hit it off, though they started to form the remnants of an understanding later on into the game, hitting one-twos resulting in a scuffed volley from Eduardo.

It’s tempting to use the phrase ‘first to last’, here – but the team dominated this Newcastle team quite comprehensively, bar some expected hiccups. Eduardo had a shot cleared off the line, and Eboue a shot blocked as well as being denied by a last ditch Taylor-tackle. It was good to see the Ivorian back; Eboue, Fabianski, Senderos and Song all had good games (I really can say that as matter-of-factly as I like).

It’s good to see Bendtner get some vindication at last. And what’s to say about Denilson’s goal? More of the same, you rip-roaring kid. I’m asserting he goes by the name ‘The Real Denilson’ – as Real a Denilson as a certain Manc is a fake.

Awaiting the draw very confidently, now – Chelsea would be a fantastic draw at this moment in time. I do have a ‘pull-your-hair-out-of-scalp’ streak, though.

In other news, Gilberto’s concerned about his place in the team, especially considering he’s on the wrong side of 30. He’s quoted as saying:

I’m not sure whether I will resign when my contract runs out in 18 months. I know there has been interest from Valencia and Juventus. We will see but I still have an ambition to win the Champions League.

And to be sure, playing him in central defence isn’t to anyone’s liking. The return of Gallas (crosses fingers) will see to that being sorted out, but amazingly enough, Gilberto would be kept out of the side by Matthieu Flamini. Who’d have thought? The midfield terrier is having a storming season thus far, and if his competition (I’ve loved Gilberto far too much to ever envisage him as ‘competition’, more like ‘mainstay’) is Gilberto, then the team is rather healthy. It’s a development to watch out for.

On the side, Thierry reckons we have the right stuff to challenge for the title. It’s a bit of a circus over in Barcelona, which is good, because I’ve never ever liked that club. The animosity (instigated by Myles, I presume?) towards Thierry these days is definitely unfounded by some quarters of Arsenal fans – ironically, I think the media have actually got it right when it comes down to highlighting Wenger’s ‘huge gamble’ in letting Henry go. And that’s exactly it, it was Wenger who had the big red button of ‘Sell Thierry’ in the end, not Henry. He gave us season upon season of glorious football, and should only ever be remembered for that. That and his hilarious ‘frenchness’.

Cesc may be ‘liberated’ by his departure (and how!), but Henry should not be made into some kind of bogey-man. We’re doing too well to care.

Rest well in the meantime. And enjoy the new graphics that are patching themselves onto the site, slowly but surely.

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Topping All Tables

So many things happened while I was away, not least of all the ‘Usmanov-effect’ which has seen a whole handful of blogs and Peter Murray quoters silenced on the issue. Very soviet of him, and coming from a pinko-commie like myself, that says something. I myself never quoted Peter Murray’s article, but now wish I had – the notoriety is one thing, but it should really get 100% of supporters against the repulsive Red & White shareholder, and his sickeningly delusioned chairman David Dein.

The financial results are being pored over by Britain’s press – to summarise:

  • Arsenal earn £3.1m a match from Emirates-Stadium income.
  • Operating profits are in at £51.2m for year’s end.
  • Completion sales of the Highbury-Square flats project will total beyond £300m.
  • Turnover profit stands at above £200m, a full  £40m and  £50m ahead of Man Utd and Chelsea respectively.

And Dein thinks our future is in jeopardy.

It’s brilliant, brilliant news. The club is justifying it’s Billion-pound valuation more and more, and the irony is sweet to fans praying that Dein spontaneously becomes a Buddhist monk in preference to global capitalism – the irony is all some of us have, it seems.

Peter Hill-Wood commented on the figures, but said some things in lieu of Chelski’s hilarious troubles that would even make Liverpool fans smile:

I found it very surprising Chelsea only had 25,000 for a Champions League game. Our fan-base probably started in the Thirties and it’s been handed down from father to son and so forth. It takes 100 years to build and about 100 minutes to destroy. You’ve got to be very careful you don’t destroy it. Money is irrelevant to history and how big your club is.

Not usually one to kick a man while he’s down, I really, really am revelling in Chelsea’s mire at the moment, as I’m sure a lot of other people are. Furthermore, a lot are finding it quite hilarious how absolutely screwed over Tottenham is at the moment – doom mongers, where are you now?

 Team news prior to the Carling Cup game against Newcastle, and Tomas Rosicky’s hamstring problem sees him out for a fortnight. We’ve demonstrated enough strength in depth to live without him for a little while, thankfully the Liverpool game (October 28) is a month away. Gallas, Eboue, Lehmann, Rosicky all in contention, surely?

The team will see a smattering of youths and reserves – speculation mounts that Lukasz Fabianski will get his club-debut in goal, with Bendtner, Walcott, Diarra and Alex Song vying for places in the starting XI. Sam Allardyce will not take ‘the kids’ lightly, and has mentioned the right things in saying they’re there on talent alone, age being just a number. The home-ground effect will hopefully see the kids through, though Newcastle are a challenge for the young ones, certainly. An interesting prospect of a game.

Right. Now time to go and fix the rest of this poor, freckled site up. I’m sure you’re all smiley and trouble-free?

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Derby destroyed, A lonely Absence.

An apology for the lack of blogging over the weekend. Was out in the wilderness that is North Queensland in the most gloriously isolated parts of the world. Why blog when you can sleep under stars?

A hell of a weekend to miss, though – and we’ll start with the electrifyingly good news that is by now old news: Arsenal demolished Derby County by a hefty 5-0 scoreline to remain top of the table, two points ahead of Manchester Utd (who rode their luck to a 2-0 home win over the disintegrating Chelsea), with a game to play. Feel good? Better be.

The ball started rolling right from the off. You’ve all seen it since saturday, so a quick roundup will suffice for you baying masses. Diaby hit a bullish rocket-shot into the top corner on the 10th minute, and Derby were in for a turgid time. Good to see Abou finally slot one home, his shots have been full of venom but completely lacking in accuracy. Twenty five minutes came (and I’m writing this deliberately mechanically – beating Derby really felt as easy as reading a manual), Fabregas dinked in a smart ball to Adebayor, who rounded the keeper for 2-0, and his first goal.

Going into the second half two-nil up, it was 3-0 after just five minutes. Eduardo was dragged down as blatantly as you’d like, and Adebayor sealed his place as penalty-le-speciale. Fabregas then did an Henry in scoring his sixth goal in as many games with a peach of a shot from outside the box. Even Bywater’s contact on the ball was not enough to keep it out – this kid cant stop scoring, and it’s an absolute joy to watch. Adebayor then slotted himself into Emirates Stadium history by completing the first senior hattrick for Arsenal, chesting down a long-ball to sidle the covering defender and stroke it home past the keeper.

As simple a matche reporte as ye ever shall read.

It’s all very out of date by now, but that doesn’t take away from the fact being on top of the league, leading by two points with a game in hand, and Fabregas and Adebayor on fire. Chelsea of course, remain on fire, but more in a destructive, oh-god-save-our-souls sort of way.  Remarks re: the match can be found here.

The blog will get back up on its feet again tomorrow morning (in about 12 hours, funny that), with some commentary on the Usmanov fallout.  Fat bastard that he is.

Thanks for baring with me. Normal service resumes tomorrow.

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Injury updates, and Chelsea’s Disintegration

Bugger-all to report on bar some repetitive noises from the Board, from Wenger.

Oh! And injury updates! How we love those. The Derby County game is looking a little precarious with Hleb, Senderos and Rosicky all added to the injury list alongside Gallas, Lehmann and Eboue. Some serious reshuffling will be taking place, with Walcott the most likely to benefit. What kind of team will we be seeing? Strikeforce, central midfield and wingbacks are secured, as well as Almunia deputising in goal adequately for the time being.

Central midfield, ironically, seems settled with Fabregas and Flamini (having a stormer that’s been widely regarded across the blogosphere), and not Gilberto, who looks like he’ll be playing more central defence than midfield anchor. Harsh to think that Djourou could have been getting more first team opportunities with us than with Birmingham, but there’s no way such coincidences can be planned for.

The Derby County game could see Walcott deployed on the wings, with a choice between Diaby, van Persie and Eduardo for left wing. Not the end of the world with the last two, certainly, but Diaby has looked ever so slightly out of sea on the left. Against the Rams, however, should not be something to worry about too much.

The main news doing the rounds is not Arsenal related at all, and is to do with the wonderful sacking of Jose Mourinho. You wont be seeing any sympathy from me with regards to the disaster that is Chelsea FC, or Mourinho, or his anonymous replacement. A good, hearty, “Bwahaha hahaha”, from this side.

In other news, Edelman has gone on about how good financial life is at Arsenal,  but it’s really all same-old, same-old. More news should be forthcoming come the Derby County game this weekend, though updates could be loose on the ground as I make a trip up north for the weekend. Either way, keep the faith, keep poking needles into your Jabba-the-Hutt dolls, and keep your lives all healthy, please?

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