Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Wenger's D-Day

D-Day has arrived!

After a long and exhaustive summer we arrive at the end of the transfer window and whilst it has been a very mixed bag, despite the recent acquisitions there is still a very underwhelming feeling amongst fans and with good reason.

There are signs that is about to turn around and whilst the arrival of three quality players who are experienced there is every reason to believe more are on the way. Wenger’s priority coming into the home stretch was a midfielder and this has not been addressed. There are many player names being thrown around but as we saw with the arrivals of Mertesacker, Park Chu-Young and Santos anything Arsene does, does not tend to be in the public eye. There is speculation and most of it is just that; speculation but do not be surprised if there are one or two of the names that have been mentioned which we are actively pursuing. It is essential that at least one player arrives in the midfield at the very minimum as this is the area we are the shortest.

Even one player, ideally one capable of taking the creative mantle from Cesc would transform the midfield into a highly competitive force. If you have Jack Wilshire, Aaron Ramsey, Alex Song, Emanuel Frimpong and another high quality, ideally with more experience then you are looking at the basis of a strong central midfield. Our current injury predicament makes that hard to believe but that is a good start. If we add another two, one defensive and one more attacking, then we are looking at a midfield that has the potential to be a force. Of course that is dependant on two arrivals but as I have previously mentioned we are not a million miles away. The outlook of the team would look very different with two high quality players added to the midfield and whilst it is still not ideal given what we have lost, it is clear we will not be too far behind last season in terms of quality.

That in itself is not a good thing as we were all screaming for strengthening of the squad when we fell apart last season but we should still have enough in our squad to qualify for Champions League football.

If my calculations are correct or even close to it seems we still have around £60m - £70m which is more than enough for two world class players. Whether we chose to invest in one, two or even three remains to be seen but one thing is clear, the club, unless some miracle should befall us on transfer deadline day, has not progressed in the way we had hoped in terms of personnel.

That is not to say we cannot perform better than last season at all as our biggest problem against Manchester United was not only personnel but tactical approach and if something is done about this combined with our new additions it is more than possible that we can improve upon last year and potentially win some much needed silverware.

Of course this is all dependant on a willingness to change and one thing Wenger is not famous for is his propensity to change. We have a little over 7 hours to ensure that we not only sort out our inadequacies in the squad but send a statement of intent to all clubs, players and the wider world that Arsenal Football Club is here to stay and nothing is bigger than that.

PS. Happy birthday to Sacchin.. Have a good one!

Goonerverse

Era of the Mercenary


Loyalty is a dying breed in modern day football. Whether it is the money, the mind set, locality or just natural progression of the game, gone are the days when a team could buy a player and expect him to want to remain at the club for the rest of his career.

We are now living in a society which is expectant of continued advancement, whether it be individually or collectively. As an individual you are aiming to make the best of life and in general all are aiming for that next promotion or next step up the ladder, usually accompanied by the highest salary possible. So when footballers do it, it should be no surprise.

Speaking to a number of Arsenal fans and their reaction to the sales of Francesc Fabreagas and Samir Nasri it was interesting to note the regard in which they held both players. One player is considered Judas whilst the other’s decision is respected on the whole. It is strange that considering both players were agitating for a move away all summer they could be treated with such a difference of opinion.

$amir Na$ri completes his move to Man City. on Twitpic
Here are two players who have forced a transfer through as they approach the peak of their careers yet only ones loyalty is called into question. In fact it has been argued that it was pure loyalty on Fabregas’ part that made him want to leave Arsenal. In fact this is the very level of loyalty that is seemingly missing in modern day football.

Here is a player who in spite of money, guaranteed play time and heroic status chose to return to his boyhood team. It has cost him financially but his loyalty to Barcelona cannot be called into question. The strange thing is many Arsenal fans appreciate this show of loyalty even if it was to the determent of their team. The question a lot of them have is; “where are our loyal players?” It seems that English clubs across the country are struggling with “the ambition” of players, there is Luka Modric at Tottenham, Arsenal have had Samir Nasri and Francesc Fabregas, Liverpool had Torres and Manchester United had Ronaldo before that. These are players that are playing football at a high level at clubs which have been instrumental in making their careers and essentially are responsible for making the player. Despite this these players have shown their respective clubs a lack of respect in demanding moves away. Is this an issue of loyalty or is this just a consequence of the times we live in. Even in the wider world we are no longer looking at jobs for life and with much uncertainty in the financial world, an individual is only concerned with looking after number one, should we as fans and observers expect footballers to adhere to a higher standard. Or is this argument flawed.

Should we be expecting players with no concept of the history of the club, no geographical affinity, and no real loyalty to the club before signing to suddenly develop over time? Are these reasonable requests of people we do not know personally yet are then morally offended when these players feel their time has come to move to pastures they perceive greener.

Of course when money is the issue, the average fan who could only dream of earning what they earn in one week over the course of the year get infuriated when salary’s are the issue. I myself have felt that way and have heard “What’s the difference, it’s more money than you can spend anyway” sentiment thrown around on a regular basis. What we are forgetting is that the average footballer will retire at the age of 35 and earning potential is significantly reduced thereafter. Whilst I would accept that this should not be much of a worry for a player earning over £4m annually they have advisors which they trust who would be doing everything to maximise their representatives earning potental and in turn their own.

There are lots of issues involved when considering these players and their desire for departure. In the case of Arsenal’s, Liverpool’s and Tottenham’s players it is argued that this desire has nothing to do with earning potential but the desire is fuelled by their own ambition. This argument of course cannot be used in the case of Ronaldo and Manchester United, as he is unlikely to win, at least in the short term, the quantity of trophies he won at United.

So are there no loyal players left anymore? Is the era of a one club man coming to an end? I definitely do not think so. I feel the current state of affairs has arisen due to the reliance of overseas talent in the league. I for one moment am not suggesting anything as preposterous as caps on players due to nationality as I feel it is not only wrong at a political level but the fact that this will greatly reduce the quality of the Premier League. I do however feel that clubs which have a core of British players, have found it easier to keep hold of their key players, with Manchester United and Chelsea clear examples of this. Of course there will always be professional ambition and as such there will be players wanting to leave and players wanting to join your club, but by being blind to the fact that certain players are unlikely to give you their undivided loyalty is asking for a situation where people feel let down.

I as an Arsenal fan abhor Samir Nasri’s decision to leave us and his conduct afterwards. Should I have been surprised given the number of times it has happened to my club in recent years? Is that because they have all been foreign or is it mere coincidence?  Despite all of these questions it is clear that my view is clouded with regards to these transfers by my own passion.

So where does football go from here? Have we entered a perpetual cycle where by players will come and go as they please without any regard for the club or its best interests? There is certainly a risk that this can happen and if current trends in player recruitment continue it is difficult to imagine a situation where a player will be wholly committed to the team, in sickness and in health. Player’s loyalty is not a quality that is much sought after and if it is even considered when buying a player, it is usually an afterthought.

Players that come through the club of course have the potential to be more loyal to the club. They have that emotional connection to the club that is needed in order to be able to sacrifice certain things to stay at the club they love. Of course this represents its own problems in that there is no guarantee that players of the right ability will continually come through each clubs ranks. Even this though is not a guarantee in retaining players as they are not beyond the lures of greater riches.

On the other side of the spectrum, players are seen as commodities by the club and when they are deemed surplus to requirements they are usually, swiftly and ruthlessly gotten rid of.  In much the same way that players with financial incentives or otherwise want to leave the club, clubs are just as disloyal in the reverse. Surely this in itself justifies why players, in their short career, would like to further themselves the most they can both monetarily and in terms of accolades, if only to themselves.

We all know football fans have the potential to be incredibly fickle but perhaps the most hypocritical of all our sins is holding players to higher values then we ourselves follow. There is barely an entity in the world that would choose to reject an offer of higher value from a rival company. Are we then not expecting too much from our favourite footballers to do the same?

So, as fans do we need to change our expectations of footballers and come to the realisation that the modern footballer has lost the important quality of loyalty or should we continue to be hurt, upset and angry over these issues. Whilst it may seem on the surface futile and much of what I have written is pessimistic, I feel the fans need to continue this level of passion especially in these circumstances in the hope that we may be able to change the mindset of these footballers, even if it is very slightly. If fans drop their expectations that will only lead to a further decline in the loyalty of players and that is something the world of football cannot afford to do.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Signings, signings, medicals and signings.. Finally some signings!


Wow! After a summer of inactivity and frustrations, we see ourselves linked with all sorts of players. Whilst there is no official announcement on the Park Chu-Young transfer it is clear that has all but been finalised and it seems that this is just the tip of the iceberg. I have it under good authority that this signing will be of benefit to the club but am unable to go into detail on him as I have seen little of this player outside of youtube segments.

I have been holding off writing as I was convinced I would have something concrete to write about today but it seems that “What’s,” “If’s” and “but” is all I have for you today.

It seems that there are a number of signings lined up which could see completion, either later today or tomorrow, including Per Mertesacker, Fenerbahce left back Andre Santos, Alex, Benayoun, Gotze and Clint Dempsey?! Of all those mentioned it seems like Santos and Mertesacker are the two deals that will be wrapped up definitely. Also it seems that we are attempting the purchase of a high profile signing with a £35m bid rejected for Gotze. It is unlikely that we will increase this bid any higher but the signs are promising. I look forward to who we are going to sign but I know this is going to beg the question; is this just a knee jerk response from a board and manager that have become complacent? I personally do not think so, it was always likely that our business, rightly or wrongly, would be done following the champions league qualifier. It is clear to all those outside of the club of what action needs to be taken yet the club itself is not panicked and may be slightly deluded into thinking, the course of the season shall correct our deficiencies. This is not panic buying just the result of a mismanaged approach to transfers.

All of the ones linked to us have the ability to improve our team but following a 8-2 defeat that wouldn’t be overly difficult. My major concern though is once our medical team is done with “fixing” Wilshire, how long he will actually last? He is now one of our best players at the club and as such, we need him to be fit and playing week in week out. I am hearing conflicting reports to not only his return date but the actual problem itself. That is never good news in the best of circumstances but with our medical team at the helm; you cannot discount the notion that he is likely to have an injury plagued season. Of course I hope I am wrong and he will be back shortly.

We have two weeks to right many of our wrongs and the first step is in the next 30 hours or so. It seems we Arsenal fans are in for an exciting day or so leading up to 11.00pm tomorrow. The mere arrival of players will lift the team, players, fans and dare I say; Manager. Despite this, it is clear there needs to be much more work done than just the purchasing of new players. It was the tactical ineptness and naivety that cost us so dearly against United. Not the personnel in itself. A conference team could have gone against the same United team with organisation and discipline and managed to concede less goals than us. I for the life of me cannot stress how hurtful it was to watch your team implode in such fashion. To be honest I probably do not need to as you all saw it, but the fact remains, with those tactics it wouldn’t have mattered who was playing, we just got it all wrong.

So, for me, these two weeks are as much about assessing our training methods, match preparation, MEDICAL STAFF and tactics as they are about the arrival of new “super-quality players”. This is one thing Wenger can have no excuses for and it is of the utmost importance that these issues are addressed before we play Swansea at home.

Again a short post, but I will be writing a fairly lengthy piece on the honour and loyalty of players in the modern game which will be posted either later today or tomorrow.

Hope you all enjoy the rest of the day and I shall speak to you soon.

Goonerverse.

Monday, 29 August 2011

The day is darkest, just before dawn.


Morning all,

The most surprising thing about yesterdays result was that we scored two goals. Aside from a 15 minute period in the second half yesterday was as bad a performance as I can remember from an Arsenal team. We lacked any cohesiveness, tactical awareness or any attacking threat but that is nothing compared to the incompetent defensive performance from the whole team. Gaping holes everywhere from the top of the pitch all the way to the defence. The worst part of the whole debacle is how easy we made it for them and how difficult we made it for ourselves. I love clich├ęs as much as anyone and one that springs to mind is we were our own worst enemy.

Gary Neville (can’t believe I am saying this) summed it up best when he declared that there will be less talented teams that come to Old Trafford and Manchester United will play better and not win by such a margin. Whilst it is clear we were truly awful the same cannot be said for United’s brilliance. Hopefully this does not come across as a bitter man blinded by hatred but is said only to highlight the absolute gulf between both teams and that is, finishing aside, without United anywhere near full strength. You take out Phil Jones and Johnny Evans and replace them with Ferdinand and Vidic, it may well have been 8-0.

The worst thing is arsenal fans you can’t even get angry at the players, well apart from Arshavin who was more awful than a pile of excrement from a dog with diarrhoea. The rest of the players either were not allowed to be in the game, far too much was expected of them, or they were set up to be slaughtered ruthlessly by an unrelenting opponent.

It was a truly shambolic display which highlights the need for change. I genuinely feel sick and had one of the most troubled nights sleep whilst thinking of what will become of my beloved Arsenal. Is “Arsene out” really the answer? Is “spend some fucking money” they way forward? There are many deficiencies within the club at present and all were highlighted in one of the most abysmal performances in the club’s history.

However let’s not forget our amazing fans that in the face of misery sang, sang loudly and proudly and did not stop. They were a testament to the arsenal spirit and if the team were half as good as the support the result would have been reversed.

So where do we go from here? It is clear wholesale changes are in order and many of the players did not care, to see Trarore looking delighted at the final whistle made me want to go over and pimp slap him. A new centre back, left back, 2 midfielders, an attacking winger and a new striker.

Will it happen before Wednesday? I highly doubt it and I’m afraid that someone must be accountable. I personally think it is as much the board as anyone but the fact that this result has arisen despite the manager and board having time to sort out our problems only leads us to one conclusion: mismanagement.

I apologise for the shortness of this post but at present find myself unable to write anything more about the club I love. The result in many ways was never in question, lets just hope the manner of the defeat is a blessing in that it forces us to address the glaring and obvious flaws within our squad.

Until tomorrow.

Goonerverse.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

5 reasons why Arsenal can beat Man Utd


Afternoon all,

Manchester United vs. Arsenal Preview

So we arrive at another weekend and yet another huge fixture in the month of August. With some of the negativity quashed following decent if not faultless display midweek, we are once again up against it, against the champions.

I have made my feelings on their squad known in the past but I have to be honest they have looked very impressive thus far. When Ferdinand and Vidic were out I was sure the inexperienced defence/goalkeeper combination would be exposed. Low and behold Ferguson manages to make them play like champions. They have looked composed at the back and frightening going forward. Not exactly the ideal backdrop for a game of this magnitude, especially when you factor the 43,000 injuries and 8,000 suspensions we are facing, of which most seem to come from our midfield. This is going to be a really tough test. I expect Vermaelan will play regardless of the niggle because quite plainly we cannot afford to lose him for this fixture.

Not only will the match be difficult, but so will be the reaction of the media if we lose. Strange that they will be ready to stick the knife in when a team who has been made underwhelming outsiders may lose. Surely they are expecting this, then why the clamour to denounce us and our ways. One person not expecting defeat though, not publically at least is Arsene Wenger. I felt he gave a promising, honest and spirited display at the pre match press conference and does believe his side may be able to get something from the game. I agree, though am not overly confident. It is not all black and white in football and in times like these you can have unexpected results, for instance Man United lost to Liverpool when form, league position and probability suggested otherwise. United had a poor day at the office whilst Liverpool were superb. These results can happen and we have every chance of making it happen with the right work ethic, careful selection, discipline and most importantly a little bit of luck.

Given the problems, particularly in midfield I expect the starting XI to be: Szczesny, Jenkinson, Vermaelan, Koscienly, Sagna, Djourou, Ramsey, Rosicky, Walcott, Arshavin, Van Persie

Whilst if we continue the way we have been playing and United continue in similar vein, logically there can only be one winner.

I however hope to defy logic, and here are 5 reasons Arsenal can beat Manchester United.

  1. Arsenal won in their last fixture against united without Cesc Fabregas. They will have the belief which they have lacked in this fixture for the past few years and I expect them, especially Ramsey to be full of confidence. Ramsey bossed the game in this fixture and whilst it will be away from home this time around, there will be a belief that they can win this big game, one which may not have existed in years prior to last season. The fact that this was done without Fabregas, and he was not missed in the slightest in this fixture.

  1. Rooney needs to marked out of the game, much the way he was by Alex Song. Song, though has his tendencies to ignore the tactics and go wondering at times played a disciplined game last season. He made it almost impossible for Rooney to get a foothold into the game and made the life of our defence easier. For once. This time around however, the only fit DM we have is Colequin who has had the sum total of 0 Premier League starts and therefore surely cannot be risked in such a high stakes game. I therefore see, defensive injuries permitting, Johan Djourou playing that role, one which he claims is his natural position. If he can be as tactically disciplined then we have every chance of blocking out one of United’s main threats.

  1.  Robin Van Persie:  I know this is just one man, but one man capable of creating magic from nothing. He has the potential at any time to score a goal or create something which we may very well need given the lack of clear cut chances in big games. He has the technical ability to even get you a goal against the run of play and if he is on top form it is very likely he will make something happen.

  1. Szczesny/Vermaelen/Koscienly: Assuming the latter two are fit there is every chance they can have another top game. When all three have played together, they have not conceded a goal. Of course this is a different test but if Arsenal are to have any chance today you have to expect that these three will have a big game. Szczesny has been immense since the start of the season and he seems to be the answer to our problems in goal. If he can carry on this sort of form, it will take something special to beat him.

  1. Arsenal have something to prove. You have to realise that all of the headlines and reports of Arsenal’s impending doom will have been read by all of these players. They are well aware what the media think of them and hopefully not aware of what Arsenal fans are saying about the team. Of course it has been with Arsenal’s best intentions at hearts from the fans, and quite the opposite from the media, the players credibility has been questioned as has their ability, commitment and character. They will be very eager to show that they are able to win these big games and should still be considered challengers.

Now whilst I am not saying we will win this game, I am certainly saying it is not a foregone conclusion. I actually do not think we will win and I cannot remember the last time I said that for the life of me. I still believe that we have a chance to win and the 5 points above are just some of the reasons why. I just hope that if we lose that there is some perspective from both the fans and media and whilst I myself will be annoyed due to the lack of transfers, I will not judge our chances until the end of the transfer window. Of course there are exceptions and if we lose 4-0 that will be entirely different, but unlike some people I do not expect that to be the case.

Here’s to hoping I am right about us having a good chance to get a result and have a good day and good weekend.

Goonerverse.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Injuries, injuries and suspensions.. Oh and United coming up! Exciting times!


Afternoon all,

I have been delaying writing/posting this until midday in order to ensure that there is no transfer before I write. Despite our best wishes it seems no transfer has been completed in time to be in the squad for United. Whilst this was not completely unexpected but there was a resounding feeling among fans that at the moment we are in no shape to go to Old Trafford and get a result. Whilst I really am a little worried there is no doubt in my mind we still are capable of getting a result if we perform at our top level over the 90 minutes.

Yesterday we saw the Champions League draw which sees us in Group F pitted against Marseille, Olympiacos and Dortmund in a tough and testing but certainly winnable group. This is excellent news for us as it will provide us with some excellent football to watch whilst not being a group that we should necessarily fear. I for one am pleased with the draw and they all represent stern tests, both home and away which will provide great experience to some of our younger players.

Injury/Suspension news is a little scary going into the match this weekend. It is a little early to know exactly who is in or out at this moment though the injury doubts are as follows. Be warned, those of a nervous disposition should turn away now: Vermaelen, Koscienly, Squillaci, Gibbs, Diaby, Song, Frimpong, Eastmond and Gervinho. Of those Vermaelen and Gibbs are the only ones with a chance but I think Vermaelen may be the only one that makes the cut.

So our team as it stands will look like this: Szczesny, Jenkinson, Vermaelen, Djourou, Sagna, Rosicky, Lansbury, Ramsey, Walcott, Arshavin, Van Persie. He may chose to go for Arshavin in the centre and opt for one of the new wingers out wide but he has seemed reluctant to use Arshavin in the middle despite many opportunities.

In transfer news it seems we have finally made an offer for Cahill. A transfer value of £17m has long been mooted by Bolton. Our opening offer reportedly has started at just £6m. Whilst it is clear though is that these are the start of negotiations and as such this is not what our final offer will be. It is apparent, and has been for some time that we will never meet the £17m valuation they have set. I am guessing Arsenal are hoping to meet somewhere in the middle and I do feel Bolton would sanction the deal as he would be free to leave for nothing in 12 months time. There is definitely a deal to be done I just am not sure how interested Wenger really is. This could just be a speculative effort as we know he rates Koscienly very highly, and based on this season he looks to be on the money. Cahill in that regard would be seen as a squad player and used mostly as backup which is why he may have been so hesitant to offer earlier. What would be great is if Squillaci went in the opposite direction as part of the deal. The links with Hazzardm M’Vila and Ayew continue as well as new ones to Swiss youngster Xherdan Shaqiri.

That is all for the day and unfortunately the post is shorter than I had hoped. Not much to write about without the new signing. Make sure you tune in tomorrow for an in depth preview to the united game as well as “5 reasons Arsenal can beat Man United”.

Enjoy your day!

Goonerverse!

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Was it ever in doubt?


I hate to say I told you so, but I fucking told you so. In yesterday’s preview I stated that the team would have enough to win on the night but not make it simple and that is exactly what happened. 

The match started and within 20 seconds we saw the attacking threat of the hosts. Despite that there was a clear determination to be positive, to ensure they are the attacking threat and boy did they try. In contrast to the first game they saw a lot more of the ball and a lot of it was in the oppositions half as well. Despite that there was a significant threat from Udinese on the break and this was apparent more than ever just before the break. Unfortunately Frimpong did not close down quick enough and a great ball was played into the clinical De Natalia, who finished in some style.

This prompted us to continue our assault and the persistence paid off when Van Persie converted shortly after the break from some fantastic work from Gervinho. It was some great work and one of the few times he managed to get some end product was ably supported by the predator that is Van Persie. Just when you thought it would be simple, Udinese got a very generous penalty but Sczeczny pulled a rabbit out of a hat. It was a truly phenomenal save and one which I feel may have settled the tie.

If that didn’t then surely Walcott’s superb run and finish settled the tie and ensured any embarrassment was spared. We are in the Champions League, but was there any doubt? Sure there was but I’ll be smug as fuck anyway… You know why? Because I’ve had precious little to celebrate in recent memory regarding Arsenal so I shall be happy and I shall boast and I shall emphasise my utter faith that this was the natural outcome.

That is until I realise that despite a fantastic result and performance it was not faultless and it certainly wasn’t against the well oiled machine that is Manchester United. Then comes the sinking feeling that we have lost our best players on top of the fact that no replacements are forthcoming and we are again looking at a very scary prospect.

In all honesty I didn’t doubt that we would qualify for the Champions League but the build up by ITV outdid all their pathetic work in the past. They couldn’t have made our situation out to be any worse if they tried. Hold on, wait. What am I saying? They did try, and for once ITV succeeded.

So with the positives:

Theo Walcott: He was immense. I am one of his biggest critics. I have doubted his technical ability on many occasion but I have to say I was proven wrong on this occasion and hopefully many others; his first touch looked assured and his movement was second to none. He caused them all sorts of problems and despite a big miss was a real positive.

Gervinho: Again looked very threatening and got in behind the defence a few times. His final ball looks suspect at times as does his decision making but as he gets in behind so many times, a final ball success as low as his is still successful when compared to other players.

Vermaelan/Sczeczny/Sagna: Again they all looked world class and in most cases the whole defence did. The only times they were caught out I felt was generally down to the holding pair not working together in tandem. This is natural as they haven’t played together too much but there was too much space in the hole between defence and midfield which resulted in a goal.

Champions League Proper: We have maintained our status as a Champions League club and that is imperative. If only to attract the type of player we need to ensure this continues.

I sincerely hope this is now the case and before long you shall see the wealth of talent that has been linked with us unveiled. I genuinely would love to see some of these players at the club, particularly a player in the mould of Hazard. Whilst my preference is Moutinho, I suspect that won’t happen for whatever reason causes us to not go for any of the world class players we should. Either way, now is the time to move forward, we have ensured that the CL funding is there and as such we must assert our presence in the league as a force by ensuring top quality has been bought in and ideally before the crucial fixture at Old Trafford at that.

I suspect this game will be very different to recent fixtures between the two sides. I would imagine the recent caution shown by Ferguson in these ties will be replaced by a ruthless attempt to take advantage of our current predicament. We still have an injury crisis and unfortunately for us it is in perhaps the most important part of the park, right in the middle of it. So whilst it may be easy to get carried away and talk about how we have fought away our demons, it is abundantly clear, we are unfortunately very short of creativity. What could be worse for the most creative team in the Premiership? Another 10 injuries I suppose but not much else. So we do go into this game with a tag of underdogs and having watched United I am a little worried. More than usual for this fixture, but that is not to say we cannot win. There are always upsets and it is possible we may win and deserve it but without some major investment, ideally before registration on Friday this will be a difficulty beyond the task we have just passed.

With that said, transfer news for the day has seen us linked to Rennes midfielder Yann M’Vila again as well as Kaka and a host of equally unlikely targets. Unfortunately for us, we will probably be the last ones to find out about any deal so speculating is on the whole pointless. It is said though, that the Kaka loan deal is off and it would need to be permanent which I would say pretty much rules us out due to the risk with that transfer. It was fun while it lasted, eh?

In other news, it was interesting to see the comments by Robin Van Persie post match last night. He heaped the pressure on the manager with his comments regarding transfers and that may not be the ideal role of a captain but it is certainly interesting to note. Especially considering the rumours of a “disagreement” between the two regarding transfer plans and whilst it is easy to give those claims credence after his comments, it could well be coincidence and require lots of speculation.

He essentially contradicted the manager and declared his hope that we purchase some top quality given the level of funds we have available to us. Wenger on the other hand was understandably more subdued. He mentioned that although he is trying, he cannot give us any news. That is not to say there are no transfers forthcoming as ITV would have you believe, just he does not want to falsely raise hopes given the current mood. Either way you would hope there will be a very concerted effort to improve things with regard to personnel. Just as important is that it is done before the weekend as we need all the help we can get at the moment. But unfortunately that is all we can do, hope.

 With that I shall leave you to enjoy the day.

Also a big happy birthday to Chetan Sharma, have a good one.

Goonerverse.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Udinese vs Arsenal Preview: The most important game of the season!


"Imagine the worst situation, we lose Cesc and Nasri, you can't convince people that you are ambitious after that"

In shocking news, Samir Nasri completed his proposed move to Man City, despite his being public knowledge for the majority of the transfer window, the shocking news is that there are still people shocked by it. You must have been living under a rock for the entire summer not to have known that this was inevitable but amazingly there are apparently those that didn’t. One thing is clear Arsene Wenger certainly didn’t know about it.

I don’t want to spend too much time on him but what I will say is that we have lost a player of undoubted ability and I know people have said it was only a 6 month patch but what is important to note that this patch was in the absence of Fabregas and most of his success came in that role. In this period people were talking of him as one of the top in the world and whilst this couldn’t be maintained he showed glimpses of brilliance. At the same time Samir Nasri's last assist in the Premier League was in October 2010 at the Etihad Stadium. This along with our win percentage being higher without him suggests it is not the end of the world. At least not until he has not been replaced.

Interesting to see is Frimpong's take on the situation:

Don't know if he will get in any trouble as this certainly isn't "The Arsenal Way" but he has endeared himself to fans. Even after this he quoted Wilshire's "good luck tweet" and annotated with a "PFFFF come on Jack"

It is with that sentiment that I will say it is absolutely imperative we replace him. £20m + £35m + £24m = Lot’s of money to sit on. There is lot’s of speculation and much of the players linked apparently hinge on the result tonight. We need lots of players but there are rumours that Wenger is not allowed to spend, but then there are rumours he is happy with the squad, but then there are rumours we are looking at half of the French league. Nobody knows what the truth is but regardless of anything it is imperative we strengthen the squad because as it stands, when fully fit we are looking at a matchday squad of:

First XI: Sczeczny, Sagna, Kocsienly, Vermaelan, Gibbs, Song, Ramsey, Wilshire, Gervinho, Walcott, Van Persie. Not bad by any means but what do we have to look to on the bench if things aren’t going quite our way.

Bench: Fabianski, Jenkinson, Djorou, Diaby, Arshavin, Rosicky, Chamakh. Again does not look too bad with the exception of Chamakh up front and Djourou at Centre back it is not a bad start. However this is Arsenal and when are we ever fully fit. We will invariably have between four and twelve players out and this is where you see the huge gaps such as they are now. How they would benefit from even two or three top class players.

We need to do something to ensure players want to join us at the same time as keeping the talent we have. The problem is we are entering a vicious circle which will now be difficult to break. We are in a position where our best players want to leave, this will mean other players may be more reluctant to commit, meaning there is an uncertainty around the club which new players would not like to join. To solve this we need to act, quickly, efficiently and aggressively. Like I said on Monday, this is the most important week in Arsene Wenger’s career and it is not starting brilliantly. Let’s hope this changes tonight and continues in emphatic fashion for the remainder of the transfer window.

Also it has been decided that Arsene Wenger’s pathetic Uefa touchline ban decision is delayed. This is the only boost we have had and hopefully this will lead to a more cohesive display. We have to be honest, whatever there stealth communication techniques were, they just weren’t working. Watching the perplexed face of Pat Rice when he turns around was hilarious at the time. I just had no idea the repercussions would be so pathetic.

Arsenal Vs Udinese Preview

We hold a one-nil advantage which is crucial. We have the advantage of not only being one up but having not conceded a goal at the Emirates increases our chances of progression greatly. Despite the host of negativity that followed the result the important thing was the win and the clean sheet. They would have accepted that before hand but why that caused such a furore in its aftermath is indicative of how un-arsenal like the performance was. Despite the lack of possession and control we still carved out a number of opportunities which should give us huge encouragement.

We must approach the game in the same way would any other. We need to get a hold of the game keep possession and dictate the pace. Our midfield trio needs to be less flat and try more inventive passes. This will be difficult given the level of personnel unavailable but not impossible.

Injury news for the game is a bit unclear. Many sources over the past two days have suggested that Wilshire may hand us a boost with his fitness but other sources were suggesting a further two months out due to a set back. Given my past experience with Arsenal injuries, unfortunately I felt more inclined to believe the latter of the two and guess what? We still have Squilaci, Diaby, Koscienly and Gibbs out and as such will really have to dig deep. Rosicky is back in the squad so that is a bit of a boost.

I expect the starting XI to consist of; Sczeczny, Sagna, Vermaelan, Djorou, Jenkinson, Frimpong/Rosicky, Ramsey, Song, Arshavin/Walcott, Gervinho, Van Persie. Not a bad team by any means and one I would expect to be able to win the game. The problem will be if all does not go according to plan then will anyone of the players on the bench be able to step up and make themselves counted. The real answer is that nobody knows as many are untested.

I predict a tense 1-0 victory with plenty of gut wrenching moments so enjoy it ;)

Come on you Arsenal.

Gooners.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Can a manager be bigger than the club?

The club is always bigger than the player. This statement, or some variation of the sentiment has been used by many clubs, players, fans and pundits, usually if a big player has been sold or is unhappy. This phrase has been brandished a lot by many Arsenal fans over the course of the past few weeks, so much so, that you wonder whether it is not in part declared in order to convince the declarer. That however is not the topic of the day though it is somewhat related.

Can a manager be bigger than the club?

In most cases the answer would be an absolutely, unquestionably and resounding YES. However there are rare cases when it is not quite as transparent as that and the issue becomes blurred. There are instances where a manager's success is unparalleled and therefore they become immortal. There are rare individuals in this world that manage to encompass everything that the club represents and in many ways become the embodiment of the club. It literally becomes impossible to imagine the club functioning as an entity without that physical representation. The most obvious case of this would be to look up north at the unimaginable job Sir Alex Ferguson has done. To accomplish so much and yet still have that hunger to further improve the club is something to marvel at. What makes this all the more marvellous is that he has managed to remain unquestioned throughout his career. Well, almost unquestioned. Even managers of such magnitude approach junctures where, despite the enviable success they have achieved, their decisions and credentials are questioned.

This leads me nicely to Monsieur Arsene Wenger. Despite the clear advancements of Arsenal Football Club, not only as a footballing side but as a business as well, he is now under agonising pressure and every facet of his management is under intense scrutiny. This to the man who took Arsenal from the lows of the Rioch era to turn them, almost immediately into title challengers and one of the most consistent teams in the league. With the exception of Manchester United no team has averaged as many points as Arsenal since Wenger joined the Premier League. A manager that defied all odds and created and cultivated a side who were able to endure the rigours of an entire season without suffering so much as a loss. A manager that has been more successful than any of his predecessors even though Arsenal are one of the most successful clubs in England with a rich tradition and history. Despite all that, he stands above all else and has become Mr. Arsenal.

League standings since the start of the Premier League:

                        M     W      D       L       GF     GA     GD      P
1 Man Utd      735   473   158   104   1454    628    826   1577

2 Arsenal        736   394   198   144   1271    670    601   1380

3 Chelsea        736   384   190   162   1219    696    523   1342

4 Liverpool     736   367   185   184    1192   714    478    1286


While this does not in itself make him bigger than the club by any means it highlights the importance he has established even if from a completely PR point of view. If you delve deeper though you realise that Arsene permeates every intricate facet of the club. He is actively involved in, or has final approval over the vast majority of decisions, both footballing related and otherwise. This is a man who not only interviewed but had a major say on the hiring of the man who eventually went on to become his "boss", Ivan Gazdis. This is a man who in many ways has become bigger than the club.

Despite his vast successes in the past the Arsenal fans are concerned, and in many regards, rightfully so. They have one point from their opening two games, a tough tie in order to secure lucrative and prestigious Champions League football, whilst being in the midst of an injury crisis so severe, it could fill an entire outfield team. And the cherry on the top, is a visit up to the old enemy. No, not the one down the road, but the team that was Arsenal's fiercest and closest rivals in Wenger's heyday. There is a dark cloud over the Emirates stadium at present and there are a large number of supporters voicing their discontent. That is not to say it is a majority of supporters, but certainly a large number are clamouring for the head of Wenger. For the first time since his arrival is there any serious discussion amongst fans questioning if he is the right man for the job. 

Wenger feeling the strain
So how could have all this of happened? How do you go from a team challenging on all fronts to a shambolic mess of uncertainty in the space of just 6 months. I think there are many reasons which can help explain such a perceived decline in fortunes which we can delve into and debate until the end of time. For this article however I will be focusing on just one, and how valid it is. 

There are segments of the support and the media which are attributing this almost entirely down to Arsene Wenger. The question is then, why don't the board just sack him and get someone that can do the job? It is understandable with the way modern football is at the moment that many feel this way and think this may alleviate the problem but I for one think it almost ludicrous that anyone thinks this may work.

There is no clarity from the club as to why there have been no real signings and as such there is no guarantee that this will be solved by a incoming manager. There could be issues we are not aware of and despite Wenger's

Many people have argued that Wenger no longer has anyone that he reports to. Due to his standing at the club he no longer has to justify his decisions and he is on a train called stubbornness express and it only stops where he wants to go. Whether this is true or not I do not know and nobody can answer that aside from people within the club but there are people who have recently asked me if I see a Director of Football role as something that may solve the problems or whether it would ever happen.

For those of you not completely sure or in need of clarification, a Director of Football handles player recruitment and then the manager/coach is in charge of the first team, selection training and the day to day management of those players. This is not to be confused with the role David Dean played at the club as he did not identify the talent and thrust it upon Wenger. Just thought I should clear that up.

This idea is interesting for a number of reasons which we shall look at. The fact that this has been so unsuccessful at a number of clubs is an indication of the times for Arsenal fans. So little is the faith in Wenger with some of these people, that they feel he should not be allowed to be in charge of recruitment despite a pretty phenomenal record of bringing talent in.

That aside there are some legitimate benefits and some glaring drawbacks to this approach. I will start with the positives.
  • It will ensure there is transfer activity. With one man appointed with the sole purpose of player recruitment, it is fair to say we are more likely to see activity. His only purpose would be to buy players he identifies to improve the team. If he is not doing that then he is not performing his only function and will be in the market for a job.
  • Arsene Wenger is a very busy man and if someone is handling this side of the business then that leaves Wenger to focus on preparation, training and tactics.
  • A Director of Football allows for another perspective on the teams ability and how they can improve. It is not just down to one person to decide if the team needs strengthening.

So whilst Arsenal fans may think that on the surface this may be a good idea as it ensures investment there are some very significant factors to consider.

  • The manager will no longer be able to control recruitment. Although he will be able to identify players he would like to see at the club, the Director of Football may disregard and bring in a player who the manager doesn't want. We have seen this in many cases where there are differences of opinions between the two and it never really works out for anyone, player, manager or club.
  • With the manager in charge of recruitment he can identify players he thinks will suit the system and tactics he is looking to deploy for the forthcoming season. This would not be the case if the decision was down to the Director of Football.
  • The manager may have genuine targets not acquired due to disagreement.
  • The Director of Football is only there for player recruitment and as such may just buy to justify his position and not for the benefit of the team.

So despite the argument for both sides I would suggest there is certainly more room for error with a Director of Football. It has the potential to create conflict, destabilise the players and create uncertainty amongst staff.

Will it ever happen at Arsenal FC? I highly doubt that while Wenger is in charge at the club any such position ever comes to fruition. This is a man who will want to be fully in control of the team available to him. He is very particular and must be in control of these issues. Rightfully so, nobody would like to manage a team of any kind with people you don't want or need. Whilst it may appease some fans in seeing signings arrive and I agree another force strongly encouraging signings would be welcome especially this season. Surely this force should already exist in the club, should it not? Whether it be in the form of the board or owner there must surely be some conversations encouraging the purchase of players needed.

In the end it comes down to who would be better at identifying the talent. I would agree that this season it seems as though Wenger has not done what was needed but you forget we are not finished. There is just over a week left and this could change everything. For me, there isn't anyone else I would want to be in charge of player recruitment. What I would like to see however is open and honest discussions into the failings of the transfer market with regards to main targets.

It is apparent that Wenger's status is such within the club that he is under less pressure to justify his actions and he is left alone to manage the club. Whether this has led to complacency or not is not clear but one thing certainly is; Arsene Wenger will continue to have almost complete control of the club including he has managed for over 15 years.

Goonerverse

Monday, 22 August 2011

In Arsene We Trust! Do we have any choice? Piers Morgan Vs Frimpong...

Morning all,

Another Monday morning following a weekend of scare mongering in the media regarding anything Arsenal. Arsene Wenger’s future was questioned following a spirited but disappointing defeat to Liverpool and he unequivocally came out in defiance. Wenger is here to stay. That is until he gets fired which some people think may be a matter of time. I think people are getting carried away. This team is not ready for the fight ahead but this is not a situation that is irreparable. It is easy for any on the outside to dictate how he can fix the problem and in all honestly; us fans are probably most guilty of this.

There are people externally looking at us saying what needs to be done and how we can challenge again and to be honest none of it is helpful and none of it in actuality makes the slightest difference. Wenger and the board are the only people that can solve this and not a single person knows what they are thinking at the moment. I read an interesting piece suggesting there is a rift between the board and Arsene Wenger, while the piece raises some interesting points and could make complete sense is just pure speculation based on an unnamed source. Either way it is well worth a read.

All we can do is hope they can do something to alleviate the pain we as fans, the team as players and the club as an institution will certainly feel if we do not sort out some of these problems.

As expected the Nasri transfer is nearing completion which takes us one step further away from where we need to be. We are in such an injury crisis that even had the two players not be sold we would be very thin on the ground and struggle in these games. I am not saying we have the right ingredients at the moment but with 8-10 players out it is difficult to expect that the team perform to their full capabilities. I genuinely think there is something inherently wrong with our medical staff at the moment and this doesn’t help. It could just be lots of bad luck but we need to seriously assess the problems with injuries sustained, particularly in the past three years. To have 8 players injured is an unbelievable number yet is completely believable given our history with injuries. I cannot believe it is just down to bad luck and personnel. There must be something in the training, the preparation or the treatment which is contributing to these injuries.

We certainly have reason to be fearful but at the same time we should not jump the gun. We have shown patience with Wenger for these past few years and I would argue that we are not in an entirely different position to many of the other seasons that have preceded this one. The make up of the team, when fully fit is not far off the level of last season. In fact it could be argued on these showing so far that the team has seemed more organised, one of the main criticisms from last season. We start the season for the first time in years with a goalkeeper fit to wear the shirt. We have essentially replaced Nasri with Gervinho and Ramsey has replaced Fabregas. We have lost a lot but is it enough to not challenge when compared to last season. The worrying this is that others have strengthened around us. Never before has there been a season where everyone around us has been so active all at once. It sounds like the spurs are likely to be very active this week as well. We have just over a week to make a real statement of intent and to ensure we do not fall behind. I have faith but this faith could be proved to be misguided over the coming week or so. It is clear to me that fans would be satisfied with just anyone. I on the other hand do not want to become a club that second rate stars come to when our rivals are signing established internationals. There must be something though. I do not buy that there are not any players available that will not improve the club. I can think of one in fact that is joining a certain West London club for fees and wages which fall very much into our wage structure. Highly frustrating.

Arsene Wenger is not oblivious to the criticisms by everyone in the media. He is aware of what the general feeling is but insists he should be trusted and he is not feeling the pressure. He said after the game at the weekend that:

“We looked a bit naive in some situations, as well. But we have shown a great spirit and we were really unlucky. I don’t feel we deserved to lose the game. We will buy. People feel I’m stubborn. I’m not. I just want to do the best for the team and buy the right players. If I have shown one thing in the last 15 years, it’s that I’ve brought good players here. We will bring as well experienced players. People say “buy” but it’s to buy the right player which is difficult. We have bought players — Gervinho, Chamberlain, Jenkinson, Miyaichi — and you will see during the season they are top quality."

He is clearly feeling the pressure at the moment despite his best denial, as he feels the need to justify his actions consistently, which is something he has not felt the need to do for the majority of his career. He still fails to acknowledge certain things which anger the fans but this would be music to most fans ears. I just hope he delivers on these promises.

In lighter news there was a comical three way war of words if you can call it that between Piers Morgan, Emanuel Frimpong and Jack Wilshire on Twitter. It was petty and proved Piers to be the disgusting creature he is. Look at the pictures below for further details:













Now I don’t know about Piers but this is one person I would not want to antagonise. Be afraid Piers, be very afraid!

In other news we have us being linked with Matt Jarvis from Wolves. I find this a bit difficult to believe given the super quality comments. Also Riccardo Montolivo, has been linked with us again but not finding anything the media says believable. Aside from these little tales there is very little aside from our impending doom and demise in the news.

This could be the most important week in Wenger’s career. Here’s hoping that it being better than the last few.

Goonerverse

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Where do we go from here?

Morning all,




Today marks an important day in the history of Arsenal Football Club. A day in which they can CHOOSE to go forward and continue the great achievements of the club or they can CHOOSE to let it fall apart. Our activity in the transfer market will dictate our immediate future.

Yesterday’s result was directly related to Arsenal’s reluctance to spend any money in the transfer window (so far). We have had to rely in three league debutants in order to compete against a team which have invested in lots and lots of money. I know lots of people are going to point to the fact that we have many injuries and suspensions and also that they never looked like scoring when we had 11 men. This may be true but the result still hinges on our transfer policy. We came into this match knowing the problems with plenty of time to tie up the transfers for anyone needed. That was not done and as a result we had to rely on inexperience and force them all to play without the right amount of time to accommodate them. This is no reflection on them as to be honest the three of them all had fairly good games. It was the sending off that changed the game and that was inexperience all over.

I feel a bit disappointed because even at 11 vs. 11 we never really looked like scoring. It is only at 10 men we felt like conceding though, in no small way down to the incredible Vermaelan. He was genuinely world class yesterday. He handled the very real threat of Andy Carrol all game and with apparent ease. This was a great performance. The other part to looking solid at the back was down to the commanding performance of Szczesny. He was in magnificent form and if it wasn’t for the two mentioned it may well have been carnage.

Also great to see was the support given to the team, even Nasri. We all have very strong opinions on the man but unfortunately it was clear with him playing yesterday, he was our most creative player and the one that looked most likely to make something happen. This was highlighted with a 60 yard run and a good shot narrowly missing. There are many fans thinking he was in the shop window but it would have been easy for him to avoid getting stuck in, in fear of getting injured. We are clearly lacking for players in the middle and are in serious need of reinforcements.

We have got another important week coming up with crucial fixtures and a worsening injury and suspension crisis. With Koscienly’s injury we are looking at a 19 year old or a player as good as my Nan. Squilaci’s name was fearfully mentioned by many supporters around the ground yesterday when Koscienly got injured. It says something that fans were relieved that an untested 19 year old came on in his stead.

So where do we go from here? A week until United with a growing list of injuries? Do we piss and moan or do we get on with it. I for one am not overly excited about the prospect of going to Old Trafford with our squad as it is: Koscienly, Djorou, Gibbs, Diaby, Eastmond Song, Frimpong, Wilshire, Rosicky, Gervinho, all unlikely to feature. That does not include Nasri, who may or may not be out of the club by then. So that is 10 or 11 players missing from a squad so thin it has Posh Spice starting a new diet of starvation due to her competitive and jealous nature.

With that many players out and with the majority of our squad players, sorry deadwood sold, we are looking at lots of young, inexperienced players, yet again. It is not a great prospect so far.

So where do we go from here? Spend, spend and spend! I apologise for the grotesque approach in solving the “Arsenal crisis” but there is no other way around it. We need 1 creative player and another 4 or 5 decent squad players. The likes of Scott Parker have been mentioned and to be honest would he have got himself sent off yesterday or would he have been able to provide the experienced head that we needed to get us through? I really do like Frimpong, and that is not a reflection on his performance as I thought he was one of the highlights but the truth is a Parker would serve us well. He is not “Super Quality” but to be honest he has enough quality to make himself a useful Arsenal player.

With anywhere between £75m and £100m depending on further sales we are in a position where we can buy just about anyone. I know I have said it before but we could literally scrap our wage structure and buy 2 or 3 “super quality”, world class players which would give the fans and squad a huge lift. I am also aware that there is more chance in Joey Barton being voted Sports Personality of the year than us making any marquee signings. Regardless I would be happy with 4 players with lots of experience who can come in and do a job. That much will in many ways lift the spirits of fans anyway. I know we have 7 players unavailable and it is easy to overreact but the problem is we have been in this position before. We seem to have an unparalleled record of injuries at this level and as such need a squad that can cater for the eventuality that we will have a team worth of players on the sidelines.

I previously mentioned that Nasri may or may not have been sold by this time next week and that is because for all intents and purposes the transfer is off, even if it is just for the moment. It seems that the grubby little agent, who in all likelihood caused most of the problems, has insisted on some form of fees not even City are happy to pay. This is apparently non-negotiable as they feel they are already paying over the odds. So it will be interesting to see what happens there. It is my understanding that if the fee remains they want Arsenal to pay for it out of the transfer fee. Could be a blessing in disguise after watching us yesterday but we will see.

Also of interest, but lack of any real truth in all likelihood is the mooted transfer of Kaka on a one year loan deal. According to The People (nuff said) we are looking for a marquee signing to dispel the discontent of the fans. In other news Arsene Wenger will not buy a centre back because:

"I think Koscielny and Vermaelen are a fantastic pair of centre backs but it's very difficult as well because if you buy another centre back and then someone gets injured I have to buy another one. You cannot do that every time you have an injured player."

I think he is missing the point slightly so I am just going to hope he is being cryptic and reinforcements are imminent. Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be any on the horizon as much as I’d like to say there are. We will have to be patient and just hope beyond hope that he does something before the weekend. 1 point from the first three games is not the start to quash the pressure.

Anyway, I am off to watch Sunday Supplement to see what I am sure is going to be an Arsene/Arsenal bashing. :(

Enjoy the day and try not to be too depressed.

Goonerverse.

Friday, 19 August 2011

A Tough Test, Lots of Injuries but not Lots of Transfers

Morning Gooners,

A much finer morning than yesterday and with only 24 hours away from the big kick off, the anticipation is kicking in. It is all very exciting despite the black cloud that is hanging over our preparations. We still haven't found that creative player we all think we need but the other black cloud is finally leaving. It seems that Nasri's transfer should be completed today.

Whilst this leaves us another player down and we can argue the mismanagement of the situation all day, one thing is clear, it is one less thing to worry about and ideally you'd hope we all just move on quickly. £25m is a hell of lot of money for someone in the last year of their contract, which is a great piece of business. The extra income on this transfer in some ways makes up for the Cesc deal, even if it is very slightly.

That leaves us with 11 days until the end of the transfer window to find replacements and improve the squad. 11 days and a shit load of money. There is literally not a player we couldn't sign at the moment if it wasn't for our ridiculous wage structure. I think it is safe to say we are only likely to see one player come in for the two major departures. I hope I am wrong but it seems as though it will only be the one and Aaron Ramsey will be asked to step up. Some have argued that nobody will come in as Gervinho has essentially replaced Nasri and Ramsey is set to replace Cesc. I have a little more faith in Le Professor and expect another player will come in and knowing Wenger, it will probably be someone we haven't heard of or someone who has had one breakthrough season in Ligue 1. For me then the front runner has to be Marvin Martin but like I said, this is Wenger so we will never know until the deal has been done.

This takes us to the transfer news and apart from the aforementioned Nasri transfer there isn't a huge deal to report on. Apparently we are close to signing Lazio's Zarate according to Corriere dello Sport. This essentially says that Zarate’s agent and his brother Sergio are in London to discuss a possible switch. He has been mentioned by a few people but I cannot imagine there is much truth in this but that could just be because anything mentioned in the media rarely comes to fruition. Apparently we are waiting until late in the transfer window to make a bid for Cahill to force Bolton's hand. This is according to the Mirror so is probably not true and to be honest I am bored of hearing his name so will not indulge in further comments.

We have updates on the injuries of a number of our players and the news is mostly bad. Kieran Gibbs will be out for 10-12 days ruling him out of some key matches. This is injury gives us a real selection dilemma. Do we go for Jenkinson, Traore who has his own injury concerns or do we shift out Vermaelan to the left and bring in Djorou who may be fit in time. I would not like to see Vermaelan out there as he and Koscienly are forming a good partnership and with Sczeczny behind them, they look pretty good at the moment. This means we are probably looking at Carl Jenkinson to play at left back. Not ideal for these big games but ideally we need to keep our central pairing the same. Wilshire is definitely out but apparently he may have a chance for United. It is rated at 50-50 at the moment, with our medical team that’ll go down to a 0% chance of him playing so again not great news. Rosicky seems unlikely to play which takes our squad from thin to bulimic. We are looking at Frimpong, Ramsey and a mystery man. This highlights the need for investment. We are looking at crucial games coming up with only two fit central midfielders. This could mean a chance for Lansbury or Chamberlain depending on where Arshavin plays. It is a scary thought and is going to be a big decision for Wenger to make.

Expected starting XI: Sceczny, Sagna, Vermaelan, Koscienly, Jenkinson(First start)?, Ramsey, Frimpong (First start), Arshavin?!?!, Walcott, Chamberlain (Debut/First start), Van Persie.

So as you can see we are looking at 3 different players who have never started at this level. Not the stuff dreams are made of. Can we still beat them, yes of course we can. Is it likely? To be honest I am not overly confident but I wouldn’t be surprised if we won. It is the chance for many to step up and prove their worth and I wish them the best of luck. One thing is clear though; this will be a stern test for the side and will certainly be an indication of where we are as a team.

It is interesting to see, however that Rio Ferdinand was expected to be out for 10 weeks yet he is only going to spend a week or two on the sidelines. If we want to make a real statement of intent how about nicking the United medical team?! Perhaps they can lift the curse of Arsenal Football Club and the long list of injuries that have hindered each and every campaign in the past four years.

I had a lot of responses to the Thierry Henry goals I posted and some people were surprised he scored so many against "top opposition". He was unfairly branded a player who didn't perform on the big stage. So without further ado here is a list of how many goals he scored against top opposition. I have included the Champions League Elite as one, this includes, Juventus, Inter, Real Madrid and Bayern. I have also done a Champions League second tier including, Roma, Valencia, Porto, Lyon and PSV.

Man United - 9 goals - 8EPL - 1CS

Chelsea - 10 goals - 8EPL - 2FAC

Liverpool - 9 goals - 8EPL - 1FAC

Champions League Tier 1 - 7 goals

Champions League Tier 2 - 10 goals

All of which are very healthy in the big matches. Of course looking at this doesn't tell the whole story, not by a long shot. There is only so much stats like these can do. One thing is clear though, it does give an indication of his record in big matches and looking at this it is hard to argue he was every bit as effective in these matches as he was in others.

I shall try and post tomorrow before the match but will be heading up quite early so it may be a late post tomorrow. See some of you at the game.

Goonerverse

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Lack of Activity and Homage to a Legend: Thierry Henry

Afternoon Gooners,

We have had time to let the events of Tuesday night truly sink in and with some retrospect; it was still an awful performance. With tempers calming slightly following the performance lacking any creativity, the transfer lacking any morality, and the imminent transfer of a mercenary, I am still angry. Not at Arsene Wenger but how, as a club, we have allowed ourselves to be put in this situation. We are into the season now visibly weaker than we were at the close of last season with little sign of that changing.

Whilst I am calmer and perhaps as a result a little more objective and a whole lot more accurate in my analysis, it is still clear we need to invest, very quickly, in a creative player, a defender and a striker. That is now the order of importance for me. I am not fully confident this will happen but there are murmurings of many players especially across the English Channel in a country we are accustomed to get much of our talent so there could be some truth in this. The problem being, we have got a crucial game in 2 days time and with the team as it is, with it’s injuries and suspensions we are not in great shape.

If we look at our best possible XI with our squad as it would be:

Sczeczny, Gibbs, Vermaelan, Kocsienly, Sagna, Song, Wilshire, Nasri, Gervinho, Walcott/Arshavin, Van Persie.

Of those we have Gibbs, Song, Wilshire, Nasri and Gervinho out of the team due to injuries, suspensions and greed. So that is 5 players on top of the sales of Cesc, Eboue, Clichy, Denilson and maybe more. That makes the squad that is facing Liverpool essentially a skeleton of the squad available to us last season. Are we capable of winning? I’d still say yes but it would require that all of our players have a blinder and the defence continues its form. It would also require a few of Liverpool’s top guns to have a poor game. Either way it is not out of the realms of possibility we can beat them but it is clear that we are not really in an ideal position and that can, should and must be solved. We have it in our power to change the teams composion and quality but also to lift the spirits of the fans and players alike by making a real statement of intent in our dealings in the transfer market. I just worry that Arsene Wenger finds himself unable to loosen the purse strings and spend money beyond what he values a player at. There is certainly needs to be some re-evaluation of how we conduct our business whether it is Ivan who can not close a deal or a refusal to act by Arsene.

With that in mind here is the transfer news from this morning. Not a whole lot of news aside from the usual suspects plus Mertesacker’s name has resurfaced but it is almost becoming pointless looking for any news. Wenger’s dealings in the market are beyond prediction at the moment so I will only think we have signed someone when it has been announced. Especially as a few days ago it seemed that the transfer of Cahill would finally go through and as yet it hasn’t, worse still it seems he may actually be joining Liverpool so lets take what we read in the papers with a pinch of salt.

Yesterday was the birthday of one of the greatest players to grace the premiership. So in belated celebration, here is a run down of my favourite goals he scored. Might not necessarily be the best of his many audacious strikes but may be in the list because of what they meant to the team or me.

Without further ado here are the Thierry Henry top 10 goals by Goonerverse:

10) While nowhere near the quality of the others this one made me as happy as any other he scored. Left us, then Barcelona, apparently past it but still manages to score his first goal against the old enemy. Classic.

9) This goal has to be in here due to the importance to the team, how he took the goal and the opposition he scored against. The way he took the goal was as exciting to me when I first saw it as it winning us the match. Great goal.

8) Any 40 yard+ strike must get props but to do it on the big occasion against what became our fiercest rivals is why he was a complete legend. Great goal, which looks even better when it is slowed down so you can appreciate it.

7) Another goal against a top club. A scintillating finish from the greatest front man the league has ever seen.

6) The first touch to free himself of the defender is the stuff legends are made of. I watch these goals and get even more depressed about our current state of affairs.

5) I remember the build up to this match… “The galacticos vs one Gunner… can he beat them”. It was one thing being underdogs but the pre match segments were truly awful and infuriating. However, the man that “choked in the big games” delivered another superb goal, in another huge game. Great run, strength, skill and finish.

4) Another HUGE goal. Great skill, control and finish. And putting that Carragher cunt on his arse was awesome. He really could make something out of nothing.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QUXKtf1rdaY 3) The true definition of an individual effort. He picked the ball way up in his own half and makes them all look like the tits they are. What an absolutely special goal.

2) Here is one to rival the best of best from Bergkamp. The control and skill are unbelievable. I could literally watch it all day and it would have undoubtedly taken top spot if it wasn’t in this fixture. This goal really is a wonder to watch and I find myself mesmerised by it each and every time. Certainly technically the best goal.

1) This is my number one goal. Not least because of the unbelievable vision and technique but the fact it was again against United. A lot of people at the time questioned whether it was intentional or not but believe me it was. The way he shapes his body as he flicks it up and the awareness to know where the goal was are all to be marvelled at. The best goal by Thierry Henry and arguably in Premier League history. Thierry we love you and miss you. The greatest number 14 that ever lived.

With that I shall leave you to ways of getting through the hurt of our inability to sign anyone. Enjoy the rest of the day!

Goonerverse.