Bredeland unlikely, Sanchez Watt oh so Dirty.

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When will this season ever end?

First, Arsenal crash out of the league-running in mid-November. Then we do well enough to reach the semis of the Cup and the Champions League and even give ourselves a chance at snatching third before being given lessons in street smart football and then…

We have to put up with two finals that we can only wish we were a part of. Manchester Utd vs Barcelona, as well as Chelsea vs Everton.

Sleepless nights in the lead-up to Arsenal vs Barca and the Toffees, anyone? I wish!

Alas, it was not to be, down to the faults and bad fortunes of a number of parties.

Instead, we’re left to rot away on our couches and watch others kick around for a coveted trophy, or worse, go to work and listen to weasely manc-supporters act like they have any breadth of football knowledge when they’re not watching rugby league on the sly.

But we pay the price for our club’s faults, like every fan must.

Trophies: Lofty

Trophies: Lofty

Yet there was a glimmer of hope last night, with Arsenal’s young gunners winning the Youth Cup after a 6-2 aggregate win over Liverpool.

Best of all, the 2-1 second leg win marked (to the day) St Michael Thomas Day which has been covered enough for you to know how special a day it is.

I think enough has been said about the talents of a young Jack Wilshere. He looks a special, special little player and I can only hope he keeps his head down, does not get too carried away with any delusion of grandeur and becomes the player we all hope he’ll become.

But three players really stand out to me this season from the reserves.

The first – Jay Emmanuel Thomas: An imposing player with style, pernache and just a bit of goof-off about him, he has both likeable and frustrating qualities, but looks like he’s capable of something special whenever he rampages forward.

The second – Francis Coquelin: Sometimes appears as a blur on the pitch, closing down and snapping at players’ heels, quick as a flash. Give him three years, he might just sneak into the team somewhere.

Finally – ‘Dirty’ Sanchez Watt: A striker blessed with great pace and smooth finishing skills, he’s done enough to impress the gallery of a very knowledgeable Arsenal fan base.

Reviews short and sweet, you’ll notice, but there are others like the always-excellent YoungGuns to give really in-depth reviews.

Also, I keep them short so as to curtail my expectations just a little bit. I had high hopes for Jeremie Alliadiere and Sebastian Larsson in years gone by and they just could not quite make it.

And by ‘just could not quite’, I sincerely mean that they were a very short distance from making a future for themselves with the Gunners.

Yet you see the teams they ended up with and what divisions they now ply their trade in. Even Jermaine Pennant isn’t missed.

My point is – it’s all such a fine line between success at the top and an every-man’s career somewhere in the middle.

And most of it, I’d bet, is mental. If these players get too big for their boots and start believing their own hype, you can almost certainly bet it will be curtains to their red-and-white careers.

This certainly looks the most talented batch of players produced in North London in a decade, maybe more, but they also seem the most susceptable to taking in the media hype.

Brede - highly touted, but could reject Arsenal

Brede - highly touted, but could reject Arsenal

Onto first team matters and rumours abound that Brede Hangeland, Norweigian defender extraordinaire and Fulham servant, is willing to reject an Arsenal approach to stay with Fulham.

EDIT: I’ve just realised I mistakingly typed the headline as ‘Bredeland’, but have decided against changing it. It seems to gel together nicely.

Sometimes players find their clubs and become great players within that setup. Some go for the ‘big move’ and find it does not work out at all.

The man could be happy where he is, or it could all be complete codswallop. But I’ve turned a leaf with regards to transfer rumours.

This summer, I’m going to try and enjoy them as much as I can.

If my armchair-Wenger devil wants to play, then so be it. Last summer was awful, not only for the lack of proper signings, but also because of the horrible negativity that abounded in the fans’ corner.

We’ll see where that goes, this time round.

Coming up in another blog (and they’re coming regularly now, just you watch!), I’m going to preview which defenders would most suit Arsenal’s needs.

Until then, I bid you farewell with a view to something sweet.



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Who could teach Lorik Cana to tackle? Wenger? Keown?

Some quick housekeeping: You can now follow Third-Gen on twitter! Look up @thirdgenblog for more frequent updates.

There’re a few speculatively linking Arsenal to purchasing one Lorik Cana, the Albanian centre-midfielder from Olympique Marseilles.

Several amongst us are already sold by the tigerish tackler who seems to know nothing about self-preservation. Then again, he seems to know nothing about the sanctity of life either when jumping into one of those leg-breakers.

With the malaise of heart and effort on show from Emmanuel Adebayor, it’s understandable to see why transfer-window addicts covet Cana like we do.

"My name is Lorik Cana. You killed my brother. Prepare to die."

"My name is Lorik Cana. You killed my brother. Prepare to die."

But in a team that desperately needs defensive re-enforcements yet does not drill its players in enough defence routines, what effect would Arsenal FC, as a club, have on Lorik Cana?

The Wenger Effect:

Both Arsenal’s style of play and Wenger’s coaching would convert Cana from being a player who gets red-carded four times a match to a player sent off once every five matches (preparing for the worst, here). 

The team over the years, despite its flaws, has developed a keen sense of intercepting counter attacks when put under pressure. The best examples that come to mind are the 2-0 win over AC Milan and the recent 0-0 with Man United. 

In both games, Arsenal players seemed to catch every opponent’s pass short and put further pressure on the other team. Interestingly enough, both those examples were away from home.

Point being made is that Arsenal’s quick pace allows the players to tackle front on, rather than having to track back and come from behind as Cana seems to be forced to do. 

It’s almost as if the man has an obsession with tackling from behind, as if he were playing Australian Rules Football. In both codes of the game, he would be sent off.

So either the team’s front-on style of play would lessen the need for him to destroy someone’s calves, or Wenger steps in.

Criticise the manager as much as you want, he has proven himself many times to man-manage effectively.

And even Lorik would think twice of confronting one of France’s greatest managers.

So if the man cannot get the orders into his head to cut down the Robbie Savage antics, he’ll have Wenger to contend with.

Granted, it’s not ‘Sir’ Alex, but we could do worse.

The Keown Effect:

If anyone could find the soul-mate to end all soul-mates in Lorik Cana, it could just possibly be Mr Martin Keown.

The man that tightened up a makeshift defence of Flamini, Senderos, Toure and Eboue to set a Champions League clean-sheets record, could be the man to turn the cluster bomb Albanian into smart bomb Cana.

That, or just teach him how to show the bastards who’s boss:

Jesus loves you 'this much!'

Jesus loves you 'this much!'

Though if anyone has seen the Keown segment in ‘Wenger’s XI’, they’ll know that this guy could make a recovery tackle like no other.


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“Wenger must leave for the good of the club”


Well, we might as well think up SOME replacements. With all the negativity around, let your imagination run wild here.

In the meantime, I might pose the question for the comments section: Are you an Arsenal “Fan”, or a supporter?

Give your reasons in the comments box. Wenger is not the only man accountable in the whole wide world.


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WENGER OUT, and how to calm the #@&% down

A quick, almost arbitrary post as I poke my nose back into cyberspace.

All that can be said is that those were two distressing lessons in reality for a team just…not ready for any type of elite-level football.

3-1 against Man Utd, before a 4-1 thumping (regardless of the bright start) at home to Chelsea can only have woken up those on the inner-rings of Arsenal’s heirachy.

Make no mistake, there is no way Wenger cannot see that this side needs re-inforcements.

He will say things in public like ‘I believe in my team’, but that is just good man-management so as not to trample on already sattered confidences.

‘Abject sorrow’ is the only way I can describe Arsene Wenger’s facial expression against United. More of the same against Chelsea.

Contrast this back to that horrible thumping we got in the Champions League against Bayern Munich in Germany, in the 04/05 season.

3-1 read the score, and Wenger was furious.

Here were experienced, splendid players, plying their trade for the Gunners, having won the league undefeated the season prior.

And he was livid. Furious. Angry.

Not ‘destroyed’, like the picture his face painted in the last two games.

If an angry expression has anything to do with wrong tactics, wrong attitude – yet with supposedly the right players – a ‘destroyed’ expression only hints at one thing for me.

Some home truths have hit home.

Bloggers like the enthusiastic Le Grove, myself and others have said that this team can go places if extended upon by adding experienced players into the mix.

Denilson and Song (I used to throw Diaby in there as well, but now I don’t know anyone who believes in him anymore) could learn so much from a Lorik Cana. Look at the affect Andrey Arshavin had on this side, playing in a position we did not really need to boost.

Wenger knows these truths. What he says in the press does not have to be what he means. Just because he is avoiding expensive signings does not mean he will not buy. And it does not rule out quality (Sagna and Eduardo spring to mind, as do so many of the stars he made).

Calls for Wenger’s resignation are as premature as much as they have no contingency. There are no well-known managers that could really replace him, yet. He may be the cause of the problem, but he may be the only one to lead us out of it. Perhaps he could be digging us deeper still, but he must be given the chance.

He has earned that much, at least.

Decrying other fans as ‘immature glory hunters who can jump ship to Chelsea’, or, the older chant “AKBs get out” is not the way to go. Some fans may be younger/older and others more patient/impatient, but we’re all in this together.

But supporting Arsenal is also about supporting its values (and this is not some lesson in silly nothingness – just look at Chelsea the other night), and one value enshrined around here is stability.

Manchester United showed Ferguson a lot of faith before everything started to click into gear in the early nineties, and it’s reaped riches. Arsenal must do the same.

So lets all take a read from the little book of calm and play it cool. The season’s timely end is near, and with it comes frustration, dissapointment and a time to reflect.


PS: I return to regular writing in June. Expect a sparse assortment of thoughts between now and then.


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Two reasons why Aston Villa pose a threat to Arsenal

'Gab and Young

Just in case any of you were getting complacent.

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Chelsea do have their funny side…

I am going to go on a little diversion from the other voices out there that spotted Ray Wilkins’ delightful irony yesterday, lambasting the man for calling up Arsenal and their youngsters as ‘devaluing’ the competition. No such harsh words from me, I’m afraid. Just some kind whispers of understanding.

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Which Carling-Cuppers will make it into the Arsenal big-time?

For all the moans and groans Arsenal Football Club recieve over their club’s lack of strength in depth, and ultimately, experience, in the Premier League, you really have to oggle at the sheer senselessness of Arsenal’s performances in the Carling Cup.

Initially pegged back for the first 10 minutes or so, the young side (averaging 19 years of age with the 22-year-old Fabianski the senior player) started to dictate the tempo as well as any senior Gunners team could, against a robust, compact and experienced Wigan side.

Match reports can be found on the official site, as well as the ever-excellent Cultured Left Foot – but in short, it was young Englishman Jay Simpson (a player famous for scoring the first hattrick at the Emirates in the youth cup) who slotted a neat brace after a stellar pass from the astounding Jack Wilshere, and hard work, pace and flair from Carlos Vela for the second.

Vela himself added a third four minutes later, but to put it like that is a crime against good taste. The goal took the breath away as he chipped the excellent Chris Kirkland for his only goal of the night. The first touch to recieve Aaron Ramsey’s skidding pass, the burst of pace from two-thirds up the pitch, the angle, and the peach of a finish oozed with Maradona-esque class. Only, it was all on the left foot.

Hype, sure. Sometimes I get ahead of myself. But so begs the question: Which of these players actually look destined for the Arsenal first team, in x-number of years?

Lukasz Fabianski

Still has some way to develop, but the talent is undoubtedly there. A magnificent double save from De Ridder and Zaki was a blatant sign of match-winning potential. It helps that he’s practically been earmarked to succeed Manuel Almunia, which will take no longer than ’til the end of next season.

Gavin Hoyte

Was quick, agile, and defensively astute. But we know his brother is Justin Hoyte. Which means we actually know two more things: He’ll hopefully continue on the top-professional attitude his eldest had, and he could be little more than an underwhelming squad player. Wenger does rate him, though, and he’s very young. More time in the cup, in the reserves and on loan means there’s not much to say on Gavin at this point in time.

Alex Song

Already considered part of the first team squad, but will find it more to his benefit to grab hold of one position, scream in a tribal roar ‘I claim this land!’, and stick to it. Is it defence? Is it midfield? From what I’ve seen, it’s midfield, with defence a mere utility. If Flamini had just settled for a utility role after the 05/06 Champions League exploits, he may never have achieved his full potential (or, ironically, a move to the match fixers). Song also needs to learn how to jump straight into games when coming off the bench (something that has cost the team a number of times), a problem he does not seem to have when starting.

Johann Djourou

First team plays against Spurs: Concede 4 goals. Djourou plays against Fenerbache: Clean sheet with reserve keeper in scoreless draw. First team plays against Man Utd: Awesome match which, thankfully, we win, but concede a goal in injury time. Djourou plays with a bunch of kids against Wigan: Another clean sheet. What does this kid have to do to get in to the first XI? Though we may not like to admit it, Gallas and Silvestre may yet prove to be a good enough partnership (who am I to guess Wenger’s justification?), but Djourou, without a shred of doubt in mind, has to be our future lynch pin. Tall, pacey, with accurate passing and can head a ball. Sign him up!

Kieran Gibbs

Suffers from the Armand Traore syndrome in that he’s not really a left back. More of a Gio van Bronckhorst type who belongs up-field and in on goal. An exciting display of this youngster’s talents and one who I am now finally convinced by. He always looked a bit lightweight to me, but last night looked genuinely dangerous going forward. Pity about the defensive positioning. But, as Ashley Cole proved, attacking instincts may remain, the defensive side can be taught. Is his career dependent on Martin Keown signing on as a coach?

Aaron Ramsey

In a word: Yes. The future is Red and White, Dragon on Flag, Welsh Rambo, ladies and gents. A pocket-gladiator who stands up to those double his age. A rasping shot. Twinkle-toe skills. In your face aggression. This boy stands up for himself. This boy dominates. This boy is the real deal.

Jack Wilshere

As is this kid, incidently. Passing, dazzling dribbling and perception beyond that of a mere 16 year old. Patience is all I can plead for with regards to ‘Little Jack’ – He’s not ready for the Premier League yet. But he will be, soon. Wow – just, ‘Wow’.

Mark Randall

I cannot make up my mind if he has the skill but less the intelligence, or vice versa. While clearly gifted, Randall does not strike me as the Arsenal-type of gifted. Try imagining him as a 27 year old, and we might have a decent squad player who can gel a good side together every now and then. But frankly, I’m still waiting for that ‘special something’ that does not feel like it’s forthcoming.

Fran Merida

This is where it gets interesting. No player came into the Reserves setup with more hype than Francesco Merida, and so far, we have not seen what youtube said we would. A smart player, a crisp passer of the ball, but I have not seen the kind of shots he hits for the Reserves when playing in the cup, bar the one against Blackburn last season. Still, the talent is there. But just because he had hype does not mean his future is as plotted as some other players might be.

Jay Simpson

I feel Jay has a future at a number of clubs from at least mid-table, maybe even as high as a team chasing 5th or 6th in the Premier League. His performance was bright, strong and troublesome to the Wigan defence, but he had the advantage of having nothing to lose. It’s well discussed amongst bloggers that these kids will be truly tested in a Premier League environment where the stakes are significantly higher. Still, I know no-one that was not pleased for the Englishman and his brace. He needs a bit of luck on his footballing journey. He has one worth looking forward to, whether that be at Arsenal or another Premier League outfit.

Carlos “Kiss my Boots” Vela

I have rediscovered religion. It is the church of Carlos. All hail the wonder that is.

To summarise: Those that (I think) will ‘make it’, with phat gold chains, snarling r&b grins and hoochies cavorting their stuff: 

Fabianski, Djourou, Gibbs, Ramsey, Wilshere, that Mexican-God-Guy

Those who, for no lack of effort or skill, will not ‘make it’, taking up a more clean boy-band allegory:

G.Hoyte, Randall, Simpson

With question marks of possibility hanging over Alex Song and Fran Merida.

On another note: great to be back. My last major semester of university is out of the way, and I can now focus on my new job at a certain Australian online news-provider.

Let me know what you think of the new design – I’m quite used to scathing criticism, so go nuts.

You will see me in a day’s time. I’m doing all I can to be back, baby.


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