Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Reading 2-5 Arsenal - *Inserts Crap Santi Pun Here*

Hello. I do love a good win don't you? Personally I put it all down to the fact I bust out the retired "lucky" shirt last night, it hasn't seen the light of day since that day at Wembley so I was secretly pleased it still fit as well. Overall I think we did well but there are still a number of things that worry me about this side, they go through stages of passing to one and other like they've just met before kickoff, it's clumsy and fizzed at them or its played behind them which kills the fluidity of the move, but last night saw a return to counter attacking football we haven't seen in a long while, whether it's Arsenal waking up or Reading letting them remains to be seen. Podolski played 90 minutes and had returned from being AWOL in Humberside and Theo got his chance up front. Typical Arsene when he's off in Jan or May. Theo upfront was what destroyed Reading whether Theo meant it or not because The Reading defence were wary of his pace and with the centre midfield playing as false 9's it generally meant that Arsenal's trio had the freedom of the pitch to make things happen. "Shit the bed" Arsenal came out to play for a brief time in the second half but Theo's goal settled nerves. Wigan away awaits and a sterner test I'd imagine. But it was just nice to win.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Diving Is A Skill

Delighted to welcome CNN's Kim Newsome to the blog and her first piece talking about Diving and it's place in the modern game. Over to you Kim....

"A few years ago, when I first began working for a sports show on a prominent news network, I was editing training video of a Premier League squad.  My eyes had long glazed over at the shots of muscled bodies doing press ups and stretching, but an oddity made me freeze for a second.  During a routine scrimmage, one of the players, a speedy but sturdy forward, was pushed lightly by one of his teammates and he collapsed to the ground, face contorted in agony, clutching wildly at his ankle.  This motion went on for exactly three seconds, and then he hopped up and continued to play.  I moved the scene back and forth on my editing timeline, looking at the light push to the man's shoulder, and freezing the video at the moment when the player clutched at his ankle.  "He's diving in practice", I said to no one in particular.  I began to watch the rest of the scrimmage session with new interest.  At any point when contact was made, a player would collapse to the ground, hold their ankle for a few seconds and then get up and sprint several yards to retrieve the ball.  Practice.

A few weeks later, while watching a match on television I saw the same player I'd initially identified take a slight hit to the shoulder.  The 6' tall, burly athlete writhed on the ground with the exact same motions and grimaces I'd observed in the training video.  The referee awarded a foul on the spot.

Football players are like any other athletes.  They're trained at a very young age, taught the rules of the game, and also taught (and paid handsomely) to win at all costs.   Footballers learn how to throw themselves to the ground properly, so they won't actually injure themselves.  They learn to sell the dive, but not at the expense of their team or their own bodies.

I remember when Michael Owen was injured in the World Cup in 2006.   The look on his face was not one of grimace and outrage, but he went white with shock and crawled to the touch line for safety- a very visceral, and very human reaction to injury.  It wasn't game then; it was a man in real pain, whose career was in danger due to an opponent's challenge.

At what point do we as fans, media, and the football governing bodies recognize the difference?  

I believe that time will not come.  Diving is gamesmanship and an art taught as often as one practices taking penalties or delivering clean tackles.  Diving is a part of football, just as drawing a foul is a part of basketball, and positioning the arms just so- to avoid a pass interference call is a part of American football.   I'm not openly accusing coaches of teaching players to dive- but the players learn it somewhere; from watching match footage during the week, or from playing on the small pitches as young children.  They know their team will be rewarded if they go down, no matter how muscled their bodies are, or how well trained their limbs are to respond to action.

I'd love to be proven wrong.  I'm pleased every time I see a referee wag a finger and give a yellow card for an obvious dive- but it's not up to each and every referee to police diving.  They know what it is- and some may feel that if they ignore a dive, they may have just ignored a serious injury that could cost them their career and the career of a 21 year old millionaire.  

It's up to the game to change.  As long as there are rules in sports, there will be players looking to get around the rules in any way they can.

Play to win: that's the underlying message of the beautiful game.  I have no outrage when I see a player rolling around on a pitch unless he does it for too long and misses a playable pass, or causes a delay that costs his team a scoring opportunity.   I don't need to be upset-  I know the managers and the media and the fans will be upset for me.   

Diving is part of the game;  an ugly one- but part of the beautiful game nonetheless.
Kim Newsome is a sports journalist currently working for CNN, and can be found at @KimNewsome "

Tuesday, 11 December 2012


Alright kids, I make no bones about this being original but here we go, here's what I've heard going into January, people are speculating that this is the most important transfer window under Wenger, so let's hope it's going to be a good one.

General disclaimer - This is what I've been told etc etc. Might happen, might not.


Arsenal are looking in this area, competition for Szczesny is the requirement here, whether Fabianski is too injury prone or Wenger has lost faith in anyone's guess but here's the names in the frame

Ali-Al Habsi - Has auditioned well for his prospective new team in recent weeks by chucking a few into his own goal. I would see him as being maybe the most likely in terms of price and name value, I don't think Szczesny would kick off too much if he was bought in.

Jose Reina - This link never goes away, whether Liverpool would let him go, wages etc or even would he be prepared to move for competition as his age.

Asmir Begovic - The dark horse in the three. This comes from a very good person so not to be discounted.


Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa - Gilles Grimandi has been seen in Montpellier a few times now and the rumours are that he's watching captain Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa or midfielder Younes Belhanda. Yanga-Mbiwa has recently penned a new deal to maximize the money Montpellier get from him, I always expected him to leave in the summer but Montpellier's elimination from the Champions League may bring this one forward.

Jetro Willems - Controversial one here, while all in sundry believe Arsenal's presence in Eindhoven has been all about midfielder Kevin Strootman, I've been told it's also to run the run over emerging left-back Jetro Willems. Andre Santos faces an uncertain time and could return to Turkey in January so Willems would provide cover and competition for Gibbs.


Mohamed Diame - Thankfully his hamstring injury may see him out for weeks rather than months. Cut-price release fee makes the most sense for Arsenal.

Luis Gustavo - I would love to see this happen. Set the Bundesliga alight at Hoffenheim before moving to Bayern, would definitely give the bite to the Arsenal midfield


Thierry Henry - 6 weeks or 6 months. The Return of the King returns again. Just for how long?

Wilfried Zaha - A Gooner by admission, Zaha is an exciting prospect, whether it's for Walcott or Arshavin to make way if Wilf joins, is another matter and the signing will be judged against which one leaves.

Adrian Lopez - Gone a bit quiet on this one, but release fee of around £12-14m may make this appealing.

So that's it. Going to be a long January ahead, eh?

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Olivier Giroud - A Closer Look

Thanks to Tom Marshall-Bailey (TMB04) for his first and hopefully not last post.

Arsenal seized the advantage after just 52 seconds during their 1-1 draw with Everton at Goodison Park through Theo Walcott. Manchester United raised them by registering a goal of their own after just 35 seconds of their 1-0 win over West Ham, but it was the goalscorer which had most significance.

While Robin Van Persie was scoring another superb individual strike to add to an already bulging collection, Olivier Giroud was struggling to get to grips with the rigorous nature of the English game once more as he was dominated throughout the stalemate by the seasoned Premier League veterans of Phil Jagielka and Sylvain Distin.

The Frenchman has divided opinion amongst Gunners fans since his summer move from Montpellier but has been applauded in some quarters for both his work-rate and the ability to bring a different option to the club's attacking ranks.

Being brought in to replace, arguably, the best striker in the league when arriving from a foreign division was always going to be difficult and caution must be taken when fans form judgments on the 26-year-old, who has yet to properly acclimatise to his new surroundings.

But Gunners manager Arsene Wenger admitted that his side "need some improvement in the final third," and will be concerned by the way in which Giroud failed to use his aerial presence to successful effect against the Toffees, with his inconsistent first-touches and flick-ons failing to relieve the pressure on his defence.

Giroud is supposedly meant to be what Marouane Chamakh never was at the Emirates - a targetman - but his failure to hold the ball up for his teammates, coupled with the inability of the likes of Bacary Sagna and Kieran Gibbs to deliver the sort of crosses he thrives on, made for a frustrating evening for the Frenchman.

The one successful centre he did meet - an inviting ball from Walcott - flew inches wide, despite Gunners fans celebrating slightly prematurely assuming the ball had sailed past a statuesque Tim Howard, much to the Goodison crowd's delight.

Everton had a targetman of their own in Marouane Fellaini, who punished some slack defending to earn a well-deserved draw for the home side with a sweeping finish, showing the awareness and composure on the ball that Giroud craved in his attempts to help his side grab a much-needed winner.

Van Persie's move to United added inevitable pressure to Giroud and established a slightly unfair 'replacement' tag, given the Dutchman's goalscoring exploits for the Gunners last season and for United so far this campaign.

The sense that anything could happen was evident with Van Persie leading the line for Wenger's men, whereas it appears Giroud is being forced to adapt to a system which Wenger has trusted since the Cesc Fabregas days, as the 4-2-3-1 formation leaves him deeper and more involved in play, something not naturally belonging to his armoury.

Of course, it would be a narrow-minded approach to suggest that Arsenal aren't playing to Giroud's strengths in the same way he isn't to the club's, but there has to be something of an impasse if the Gunners are to seal a Champions League spot for the 14th season in succession.

Wenger made the surprise choice of resting Lukas Podolski for the testing trip to Everton, leaving the team without a natural left-footed winger, and the Gunners often found themselves running down blind avenues in an attempt to craft an opening, epitomised by the way Aaron Ramsey crashed into Santi Cazorla during the first-half, when cutting in from the left.

This method of play often worked when Van Persie was able to link up with the midfielders, displaying slick footwork to create chances for himself, as well as showing clever movement to make the space for others to exploit, but Giroud's powers surely lie in the penalty area, where Arsenal have been sorely lacking this season.

Van Persie's moment of ingenuity last night as he turned Winston Reid before seeing his shot deflected home off James Collins was unjustly compared to Dennis Bergkamp's exquisite goal against Newcastle 10 years ago but served as a timely reminder to Arsenal fans of just what they have been missing since his controversial move.

The Gunners must instead look towards the future and hope Giroud can lift the shadow of the man he 'replaced' from above the Emirates and, crucially, the one looming over himself.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Arsenal 0-2 Swansea - Powder may be dry, but not in the Cannons

Probably the most alarming thing about Saturday is that you're not really surprised by it anymore, which in itself is surprising. Swansea won this at a canter, playing fluid, angled football that used to be Arsenal's calling card, but Arsenal haven't played good football in months, even when the results were going against us, we could always hold on to the fact that if we were crap, we were entertaining crap, we're not even that anymore.

We face probably 8 more games before any new faces could arrive, and even then we all know how Arsenal's transfer skills work, so you're looking at the end of a month which contains Manchester City (H), Liverpool (H) and away to Chelsea (A), fills you with oh so much confidence.

Arsene Wenger is starting to look like a man who might be finally bereft of ideas, there's a nasty malaise hanging over the club, from the team to the fans. We are too easy to play against these days, and teams can be pretty sure that Wenger will not change things until the 70th minute so they're allowed to gain a foothold on the match and even though Swansea's goals didn't come until late, they were coming a mile off.

It's quite disheartening writing about Arsenal because it's continuously Groundhog day these days, amazingly we are only 5 points off 3rd position which is the same position as last season (Thanks F365) so there's not reason to panic about league position this early.

I really want Arsene to turn this round, when you consider what he's done for our club and what it means to him, this must be hurting him as much if not more than us, in an ideal world he gets the statue and the great send-off, doing a lap of honour around the Emirates that both he and Danny Fiszman made their baby filled to the brim of supporters standing to applaud an Arsenal legend. He genuinely deserves that so I hope he does what is necessary to achieve this. It's not looking so nailed on these days though. Uncertain times ahead.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Commercial Deals: From A Dummy

Hello, Hello, Hello - I've been caught up in the real world this week and missed the blog detailing the Montpellier game - Went something like this....

Misplaced pass x infinity - Kos hits bar - more misplaced passes - Peep! Peep! - BOOOOOOO! - Peep! Peep! - GOAL - Jacky!!! - GOAL! Poldi - What a hit! - Peep! Peep! - Qualification!

Today saw the start of the road to the Utopic paradise that is 2014 for Arsenal fans, with the announcement of a renewed shirt sponsor deal with Emirates, Arsenal say "Emirates, one of the world’s fastest growing international airlines, and Arsenal Football Club have today announced a new £150 million deal which grants the airline a five-year extension to their shirt partnership with the Club until the end of the 2018/2019 season. 

Brilliant. The deal is one of the most expensive in football history and only see's them trumped by Manchester United's deal with Chevrolet which commences in 2014 and will see them net £45m per season. Considering we're moving from a £5.5m p/a deal to a £30m p/a deal will see a massive weight lifted off the shoulders of The Emirates as Arsenal's only revenue stream.

But What About The Naming rights to the Stadium?

"As part of the deal Arsenal’s home will continue to be known as Emirates Stadium up to 2028" - And from reading things from decent, connected people Arsenal will receive £28m out of the £30m for kit sponsor and £2m for the continuous naming of the Emirates, £2m for naming rights sounds low but if we listen to Commercial director Tom Fox

"As for the stadium naming rights, that will be very hard to resell because it will probably always be known as Emirates Stadium now. Or “Ashburton Grove” to those of you that don’t want to call it that!"

Tom makes a point along with other financial experts that naming rights only really have a big impact on their first deal, Arsenal were hamstrung into accepting a lower than market-value deal to secure funding in the midst of building The Emirates, you throw that into the fact that The Emirates has been known as such since 2004 and couple it with these recent deals, and you'll see that they haven't really missed a trick here.

New York Mets - Citigroup paid £10m per season for the naming rights for the Major League Baseball season (American teams don't have sponsorship on the shirts)

Bayern Munich - Have a 30-year deal with insurers Allianz worth £4m a season.

Borussia Dortmund - £3m a season running until 2021.

In fact, looking at German football where "Naming Rights" are rife, the deals vary between Bayern's £4m p/a to Arminia Bielfield's £400,000 p/a deal and considering the stick that the "Emirates" name has on Ashburton Grove, Arsenal have done well. 

The crux of the issue for supporters is we're fast approaching the time for Arsenal's "Ambitious Board" to put up or shut up, we know of the vastness of their cash reserves that are sitting there now but with the expected kit deal which will garner similar or better numbers than the Emirates deal, the pressure will be on to ensure Arsenal have a squad capable of challenging for the game's greatest prizes, the football side of things must match the commercial side. The final words go to Ivan...

“The original deal with Emirates was a key facilitator of our move from Highbury and this next phase of our relationship will be just as critical to keep us at the top of the game in England and Europe"

Now it's down to Ivan and Arsene to ensure we have the team to keep us at the top of the game in England and Europe. Because we're Arsenal FOOTBALL club, not Arsenal plc FC.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Arsenal 5-2 Them - No need for a pithy title.

No need at all, for Saturday could be the catalyst that boots this team up the arse as we approach Christmas, it could of all been very different had Adebayor not been sent off.

Here's where the first mini-rant occurs and it's aimed at the neutrals who piped up with the "The Referee ruined the game" with the decision. Do me a favour, Adebayor ruined the game for his team with a moronic challenge in an area he needn't have done so, and I'm one billion per cent sure had it been members if their own team on the receiving end, the dialogue would be oh so different.

After the sending-off, Arsenal took advantage, and took advantage of Tottenham's full-backs. Lot of Tottenham fans were salivating over a half-fit Sagna and Vermaelen at full-back, well get your own house in order because there was only one team who took both off at half-time. Walcott's cross led to Per's 1st goal and in a three-minute blitz Podolski and Giroud made it 3-1.

Half time was respite for them as the changes meant they gave it a go and Arsenal sat back and looked a little shaky. Cazorla's goal that started from a Szczesny punt settled the nerves until Bale made it 4-2, then Arsenal played like a team with 10. Introduction of Ox made a difference as his pace exposed Vertonghen a number of times, one of them leading to Walcott cuffing in number 5.

Same score, different day. Montpelier and Villa next. 6 points please.


The North London Derby is a bigger game now than was 10/15 years ago, not to us because they are always the team you want to beat, it makes workplaces, schools etc a lovely place to be for an Arsenal fan post-Derby win. It's a bigger game for the media because every game is now billed as the "POWER-SHIFT" game - where pundits (Who normally have a Spurs affilation) line up to tell us that Tottenham have a better squad etc, how they'll finish above Arsenal (Yaaaawn) etc bets etc etc so forgive me for my naivety but I always thought a power shift kinda had to be when one side was dominant for a prolonged period of time and the amount of "St Totteringham's Days" we've all enjoyed does tell who that is There's no doubt that the gap has closed in recent years and every year now is a battle, but its a battle we've won, lets keep it up.

Man Of The Match

Jack Wilshere - Because he gets the desire you need to play in this game, he knows what it means to lose, Santi was utterly fantastic but the catalyst for all this was Jack getting the game by the scruff at 0-1, a brilliant display, the boy is Arsenal.


Szczesny - 7 - Poor for goal, not Mannone

Sagna - 6.5 - Not 100%, but still solid

Koscielny - 7 - Dave's best game this season

Mertesacker - 8 - Quickest I've seen him run (Celebrating the goal)

Vermaelen - 7.5 - Early scare, very, very solid

Arteta - 7 - quieter than usual, still good

Cazorla - 8 - Wizard, Wizard, Wizard, Wizard, Wizard

Wilshere - 8.5 - See above reasoning

Podolski - 7 - Does it in the big games

Walcott - 8 - Please sign the f^*€$€< contract

Giroud - 8 - Establishing himself very, very nicely.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Without You I'm Nothing....

Stepping onto Swiss Ramble's turf with using Music Lyrics/Album Titles but I find that quote very apt this morning as It should be Football Club's mantra to fans, but it isn't.

Twitter feed was full of tweets and pictures and re-tweets last night of tickets for the NLD which instantly makes me jealous, I love that fixture, I can even remember being on the North Bank as a boy for a boring 0-0 in 96 (Platt scored a disallowed header) on a Monday night but the buzz was amazing, ticket was £12.00 for North Bank Lower, Saturday's game tickets are going for £94.50. People are being priced out of football and it's the salt of the earth, core fan that's suffering.

I simply can't afford it anymore, I've been Arsenal for 25 years now, sure I watch European Football but if St-Etienne lose then meh, I follow them because I have an affinity for the place and some good friends there. But if Arsenal lose, it affects my whole weekend and forthcoming week, and I and you know hundreds of people the same, and they're suffering too.

I started going to football because of my Dad. That's the main reason I love going, the people, the tension, the atmosphere, the anticipation, the last minute goals that have you leaving the stadium talking and not stopping till you get home, only to watch the match again, I have favourite players but they come and go, the shirt, the foundations and the support stay the same but recently in "Modern Football" it doesn't - more and more corporate people are finding their way into football which is squeezing the average fan out.

Now I don't mind the prices going up if the end result is more investment to the team leading to success, but I do mind when it's going to some guy with a really bad wig or dyejob's holding company in Delaware who has no clue about football and never to be seen again. And I really mind when said people have the cheek to look so offended when points like these are written.

It's not just Premier League though, on the weekends when Arsenal were away in the early 90's - me and Dalton Senior used to go and watch my home-town team Wycombe Wanderers (I'm born 30 miles from the Emirates so I'm not sure I'm proper Arsenal, and the Irish thing comes from the fact I have an Irish Passport and 96% Irish Family) - Used to be £6 for Dad and £4 for me - A day out came to no more than £20 - You'd be lucky to get one ticket for £20 now even in the lower leagues - hence the massive problem with attendances and fanbase.

Without You I'm Nothing - Football clubs should listen - But carry on losing their identities.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Aha! Zaha! Huzzah! - Jenko, Frimpong & AST

Woke up this morning to find Wilfried Zaha has become the Lionel Messi / Cristiano Ronaldo incarnate overnight with the way people are talking about him, the fact he's likely to play for Arsenal in January makes it nicer too, understand the boy is a massive Gooner and even though we're struggling in the eyes of many, top youth prospects both here and abroad see us as a viable club to join still, whether its the fact they are learning under "The Great Professor",or the fact we'll probably pay them more than other clubs (This rule doesn't apply to proven players, *deep sigh*) but never theless if everything my Palace mates say about him is true, he'll be a joy.

Jenko signed a new deal, pleased for the boy because Arsenal matters to him as much as it does to you and me, which is a heart-warming thing for a fan to see, does bring out the fans who criticise the club for extending a deal for a player that isn't in the news, but there you go.

Wayne "Manchester United have no interest in Robin Van Persie" "Shades of McGarry" Veysey of "Goal.com" - I've put the website in air quotes because I'm yet to be convinced its not Fictional said Frimpong was to be sold in January as his contract ends in the summer, only to be rinsed by Frimpong himself on Twitter saying that wasn't the case. Frimpong's deal ends in the mythical 2014 where we find the keys to FFP treasure and also he's going on loan to Wolves in the next 10 days, so nice one Wazza.

AST meeting on the normal subjects last night too, you know the people to follow to read about that so I won't Bore you, only thing that surprised me was the revelation that Arsenal haven't paid Corporation Tax due to deferments etc etc. Pretty poor form considering I've spent half the summer sniggering at Rangers for enraging the HMRC.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Arsenal 3-3 Fulham - It's the Same Old Song (Not Alex).....

If ever there was to be a remake of "Groundhog Day" - the casting lines would be full of Arsenal fans because we've been here before (sighs) a lot. The danger is that people start to think that you're overtly critical of Arsenal when results like this happen and when the form does improve, you're then accused of being a fickle fan.

My problem with Arsenal is there seems to be a lack of tangible pressure applied, it took until throwing away a 2-goal lead against Fulham to show there was any kind of fight in them. The manager manages the team as if he has no one to answer to, the board are happy to accept mediocrity in fans eyes, and in turn causes ire because the board are genuinely "shocked" with the fan reaction these days, to sum it up, Arsenal are in a malaise and most people aren't sure where to stem the bleeding from first?

Do you sack the manager? No, because he's the one who holds things together, I'll moan until I'm blue in the face about his lack of tactical nouse until the cows come in but I don't trust that board to replace a man like Arsene Wenger. Not even 1%. While Chelsea sign deals with "Global Energy Partners" like Gazprom, Arsenal sign deals with "Malt Guinness and Betsson". The Board do not run Arsenal as if they consider the club a big one, and that's a worry.

As far as the game, it's standard Arsenal fare these days, struggled a bit, went 2-0 up, conceded at a vital time, transformed into little children scared for their life, go 3-2 down, remember they are adults, equalize and then gloriously blow a chance to win it. We may be under-par this season, but we're entertainingly under-par.

I'll go into seperate facets of the team during the week so I have something to write about with it being International week (WHY? WHY?) but I'll do the ratings and five word summations....

Mannone - 3 - Whisky and Revolver for Vito.

Sagna - 7 - Will miss him when sold.

Mertesacker - 7 - Knows where to stand, thankfully.

Koscielny - 6.5 - A lot better, good signs.

Vermaelen - 6 - Looks miffed to be LB

Arteta - 5.5 - Tried hard, one to forget

Coquelin - 6.5 - Surprised me, tidy, tidy, tidy.

Podolski - 6 - Scored goal, Not much else

Cazorla - 6 - Runs around, still looked knackered

Walcott - 7.5 - Crossed well, has arse strain

Giroud - *8.5* - The White Drogba, beastly headers

Until tomorrow.

Friday, 9 November 2012



The great thing about football is you never have to wait too long to change your fortunes and redeem yourself and after a better performance but disappointing end result against Schalke, Fulham provide the chance to kickstart the season tomorrow.

Injury problems aren't seeming to get any better as Abou Diaby enters week 7 of his "Three Week Injury", Tomas Rosicky is AWOL and no-one seems to know what's wrong and where the hell he is, Gibbs and Szczesny seemed to have trained all weeks according to reports but look to play no part in the game and Chamberlain & Ramsey are doubtful if not out. Not good.

Fulham are a tidy team who will provide a challenge tomorrow, managed by a man who should focus on his own team instead of others, they took 4 points off us last season, winning 2-1 at Craven Cottage and drawing 1-1 at The Emirates, Thomas Vermaelen scoring at both ends.

My Prediction is 3-1 Arsenal.

My Team is:





What's yours?

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Schalke 2-2 Arsenal - Relieved but Disappointed

I nearly tweeted before the game that I would bite your hand off for a draw, but when the draw was confirmed, it left a pang of disappointment, being 2-0 up means you should be able to see out the game.

At least there were positives, Jack Wilshere makes that midfield a better place, he was buzzing all over the place, he was here, he was there, he was everywhere, Mikel Arteta was his normal reliable, dependable self, the only disappointment was Santi, who looks like a guy who needs a rest as he was caught on his heels for the move that brought Schalke back into the game. He looks tired and Podolski looked tired and Wilshere was out on his feet. But when did the first substitution come in.....81 mins?

That was probably the most worrying trend of the night, 81 mins for a change when it was clear that players were flagging...I know what it told me.

1. Very Thin Squad Depth


2. The Squad Depth we do have, the manager is afraid to use it.

Caught in a very dangerous place at the minute because the way players are being used, you can see muscle injuries wrecking our midfield because of overplaying and the managers reluctance to spend on midfield cover now seems a really bad move. Anyway onto the ratings where the match report will play out

Mannone - 6.5 - Adequate night's work from the goalkeeper, no glaringly bad mistakes, wish he wouldn't push the ball out in front.

Sagna - 8 - Thought he was excellent, much praise has to go to Jenkinson this season but when you watch Sagna you realise you're watching one of the best full-backs in Europe.

Mertesacker - 7 - Very good positionally, got a bit of a working over from Huntelaar who squared him up a few too many times for my liking.

Koscielny - 7 - Competent Performance

Vermaelen - 6.5 - Caught very narrow for Farfan's goal and made a tackle which could of ended up as a Montpellier moment but otherwise good.

Arteta - 7.5 - Metronome

Wilshere - 8.5 - My Man of the Match - for a kid who's spent 17 months out, he looks good already, just struggles to go 90 which is understandable

Cazorla - 6.5 - Tired. At fault for first goal.

Podolski - 6.5 - Looks injured, plays slightly better, brilliant cross for Giroud's goal

Walcott - 6.5 - Nice goal but was in-and-out of the game too much for me. 

Giroud - 7 - Ran his heart out and was a brilliant header, looked a bit isolated

Monday, 5 November 2012

Manchester United 2-1 Arsenal - Limp, Lifeless and Lessons Never Learned

I really had to fight the urge not to plaster "This Match Report is Cancelled Due to Lack of Interest, The Players don't seem to care, so why should I?" in big letters across the front page, because it's the same old story lately.

What I find unforgivable was the vibes given out by the team in both halves that anything less than a 8-2 defeat would be progress, at least that was a makeshift team in disarray with a few days left in the transfer window to sort it out. The team looked defeated in body language at kick-off and for a club of Arsenal's ilk it's unforgivable but sadly we've expected this kind of thing these days.

Tactically it wasn't much better either and let's put it out there - Andre Santos is a lovely guy who the players speak very high of - but he's a liability and I really do question the logic and competence of a manager who cannot see the bumsqueaking horror and danger in playing Santos against a team that will adapt to play the team they are playing and use pacy wingers to badly make us suffer, and he might not like it but Vermaelen can play left-back and would restrict the problem. It was easy for Manchester United, Arsenal put out a "Don't Beat Us Too Badly" klaxon out. That should tell you all you need to know.

I'm genuinely worried for the state of the club at the minute, the manager looks like a beaten fighter, punchdrunk and on the ropes from years of not being given the tools to defend and punches coming from nowhere, I don't go into games thinking we'll win easily anymore & even when we're 4 goals up I can't relax.

Am I gearing up for Arsene Wenger's departure from Arsenal? I have been for years and I always saw 2014 as the time for change, he would be seen as the "Gatekeeper" who oversaw the move from Highbury to The Emirates and the shortfall of cash, still managing to get Champions League football against the odds, now I don't even think he'll get that far, he seems demoralized from years with a boardroom who seem to forget its "Arsenal Football Club" - And I do think he deserves better.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Theo-Ry of Evolution

I wrote this for "Pick Our Team" at the start of October, still prevalent now.

The Original link can be found here:


Theo Walcott is one of the most divisive Arsenal players I've known since I started supporting the club. You either love him or hate him, it seems.
I can understand the people who love him because he comes across as a well-rounded, well-mannered young lad who only wants to play football and not get involved in shenanigans and brands like some of his team-mates (looking at you Frimpong, although I've just remembered Theo's children's books).
On the pitch, Theo's searing speed is an attribute few have and watching him over the last 18 months I have noticed his attempts to be more savvy in attacking positions, the link-up play he had with Robin Van Persie last season was sensational.
There is always a flipside though and Theo's lack of a killer finish means he's always going to be looked on as a wide player or impact substitute. His negative attributes include being very profligate and a touch that lets him down at key moments, so I can see both sides of the coin. As Theo trundles into the final year of his contract, even I have swung back and forth on whether he should be kept or sold.
I'm actually surprised it's got this far with Arsenal's penchant for flogging players who make it to the final 12 months of a deal (unless you're a golden oldie like Pires or Bergkamp) and talk of Theo wanting 100k a week hasn't gone down well. Is he worth it?
On first look, the answer would be no, but I think he'll click. I can see the player developing both mentally and physically over the last 18 months and think it would be a stupid mistake if he were to be let go and doubly stupid if it was to a Premier League rival. You just know he would come back to haunt us if he was sold to a Chelsea or Liverpool.
Gervinho's "success" in the false nine position should give Theo hope; they both show the same kind of willingness and attitude, he just needs a go. Whether I think he'll get a go is another story. Gnabry has been involved in match days and Oxlade-Chamberlain's starts, added to the contract stand-off, means we might never find out.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Reading 5 (FIVE) - Arsenal 7 (SEVEN) & 4,013 POTM's

Yep. It did happen. Promise. Swear on my life. A genuinely incredible 120 minutes and even though its the League Cup, the achievement and maybe redemption of clawing back a four goal deficit won't have been lost on the players and the 4,013 people who were miserable after 39 and footballgasmic after 120.

There's genuinely no need to analyse the game, there's no point because none of it made any sense and did anyone really learn anything from it apart from that football is bloody crazy?

What I do want to talk about is my men of the match, all 4,013 of them because they were the real heroes of last night and of our club. Travel delays had meant that most had to change plans because of rail problems in Central London at the drop of the hay, but they still made it. After the dross that had been served up in the last three games, I don't think many would of blamed them for upping-sticks at 4-0 and walking away. But they didn't because that's not what they do. These are the core support who keep our club going when things are both good and bad and on my Arsenal away days I would happily say we have the best set of away fans in the country without hesitation.

Onwards to Man Utd and can I order a no-drama 1-0 away win please? Thank You.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Arsenal 1-0 QPR - Belatedly

Morning all....

I'm currently housesitting for a friend in deepest, darkest Warwickshire this week who doesn't believe in Wireless Internet so these blog posts will be brought to you by the good people at BTOpenzone which actually seems faster than my own home internet, which pleases me less.

It was good to win on Saturday and win in any way possible, a draw or loss would of plunged the confidence to record levels of low so although it wasn't vintage Arsenal, it was a win all the same.

Massive plus point has to be the return of Jack Wilshere, he looked as if he'd never been away, the verve of his passing, the directness of his running and the pinpoint vision is something the Arsenal midfield had needed, it had begun to look jaded and slow the past couple of games. Bacary Sagna returning is also a massive boost, no slight on Jenko but Sagna is one of the best right-backs in Europe and gave Arsenal an out on the right.

The goal was controversial, no doubt but you'll take these things when they are given to you.

This week will be full of Robin Van Persie as Arsenal go to Manchester United on Saturday, but before that it's COC duty and the away tie at Reading. Looking forward to seeing Thomas Eisfeld get his chance, he caught my eye in the U-21 win against Everton where he scored 2 goals and I have a feeling as I said in the summer that he will follow Gnabry in making the bench for first team games before the end of the season.

More tomorrow...

Friday, 26 October 2012

Annual General Meh.....

I feel compelled to write this, which is bad for you and good for me I guess but it's been a prickly few days in the history of our club and the fractious nature of both the AGM and the "Internal Civil War" between sects of fans is not surprising.

If I'm going to make a sweeping statement to kick this off then it's that modern society is lazy, maybe down to the way people are spoonfed everything, maybe down to the way that everything is usually available at the click of a button, however this sweeping statement goes further, it goes into media, it goes into the Saturday Night culture of watching pre-selected "singers" sing when in all truth the path of the "competition" is mapped out already, but it's also going into Sport....and Arsenal.

These days you either seem to be an "Arsenal Knows Best" or "AKB" or from the "Wenger Out Brigade", there is no middle ground and whichever way you sway to puts you in a box with a moniker you'll keep for the rest of your life. The Arsenal Supporters Trust are one example as the people who are strongly pro-Wenger think the AST have agendas to embarrass Arsene, and the other side of the spectrum think the AST are spoonfed by higher powers at the club to keep the Status Quo in turn to access to the big wigs. And there's nothing like the Annual General Meeting to show this up and magnify it ten fold.

First off, I don't know of a single other club who conducts their AGM in a similar, "transparent" way as Arsenal and lead themselves open to questioning with the countries media present, and if there are, then I haven't paid attention enough (Mainly because I don't really care I suppose) so some credit must be divvied up there. However, the sight of a irritated Peter-Hill Wood and nearly comatose Stan Kroenke doesn't ever fill me with any confidence that the club are trying to be dynamic and forward thinking, in fact I see the irony that a club that's well renown for trying to keep it's business quiet ends up with the most talked about AGM every year.

There was a banner from the people who call themselves the "Black Scarf Movement" - a splinter group of fans discouraged at the general direction of the club and the way that modern football is trying to price out the common man. "Kick Greed Out of Football" was the mantra and while I have first-hand knowledge of being priced out, the notion then to spend, spend, spend on players certainly made me feel a twinge on the Ironymeter as well.

Black Scarf's points are as follows;-

1. A season ticket "lite where you are offered a cheaper option season ticket without cup credits

I agree with this because for one thing, our progression in the League and FA Cup has not been far-reaching the last few seasons, we normally end up with less people at these games because of the standard of opposition and if these tickets are then offered up seperately and sold at the same price as the League Cup prices the last few seasons, you're more likely to get 60,000 while not squeezinfg out the hardcore support.

2. Move Away fans to the Upper Tier, let Arsenal fans have the cheapest seats in the ground.

Hard to argue again here since other clubs are already doing this to us, I cite Newcastle and QPR as examples.

3. On renewal, allow season ticket holders a short-term repayment option from May until June.

Arsenal's season tickets are expensive and in an economical time where many people are struggling, £1,000 is a lot of money to put up straight away and again is leading to people not being able to watch their team.

4. Give Season Ticket holders a chance to downgrade to Silver Memberships.

I can't really argue with this either, if you've been following Arsenal like I have for nearly 25 years and are squeezed out financially and then are made to start at the bottom again, it leaves you feeling pretty unwanted and unappreciated for the thousands of pounds and miles you've accrued over the years. 

5. Change the complacent board, Give R&W holdings a say in how things are run.

Probably the only point I'm unsure about, a lot of fans have misgivings over Alisher Usmanov from  alleged tales of his past to the fright of being at the mercy of a Billionaire's plaything. I do think he should be given some role on the board, at which other company do you know is a shareholder who holds nearly 30% and isn't involved in any decisions whatsoever?

I think the problem with Black Scarf Movement is the way they introduced themselves, I understand minority groups in an organisation need to get themselves heard but I've also noticed the way they present things going forward is a lot more professional. A lot of people I've come across on the Internet who identify themselves as BSM are very vocal about Arsene Wenger not being manager of Arsenal anymore, and here's where the clashes start.

I think a club and it's supporters should be able to critique itself when it goes wrong, and praise itself when it goes right and there are things wrong at Arsenal and people are right to point them out, if everybody was to blandly follow the party line then the things that are quite clearly wrong at the club will start as a small problem and then multiply into a bigger one.

I give you the trophy drought - lack of investment in the squad to replace players who are sold to equal ability has moved us further and further away from silverware for seven years, players like Gervinho are expected to replace Robin Van Persie, an aged, injury prone Tomas Rosicky is supposed to fill in for Cesc Fabregas and so on.......

I don't choose to be part of any supporter group for the simple reason I have differing opinions on several different matters, the spokesman for the AST, Tim Payton is a controversial character on Twitter (I've called him out many times) but he is an Arsenal fan of a long time and in any personal dealings I've had with the man, I've found him to be a gentleman through and through, it doesn't mean I have to agree with him though.

Why I'm writing this is because I'm pretty aggrieved to read some comments in the last week about disagreeing with the manager and the board. I'm saddened to read some comments from people overseas telling regular attenders to "shut up" and criticise them from having an opinion which dares to be different to their own, and also disappointed to read comments from those inside the country who question whether someone is a supporter because of location.

Arsene Wenger has been at Arsenal for so long I can't imagine him not being there, and he has done many wonderful things for the club, but he is not some deity figure that does no wrong. There is a malaise at Arsenal, and has been for many years, the direction of the club is questionable at times, the loss of key personnel on and off the pitch are of massive concern but there is much to be proud of too.

It's in cloudy times like this where I enjoy Arsenal games more, I couldn't be more excited about QPR and Jack's return, so whether in Enfield or Eastern Mongolia...Up The Arse!

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

No Fear for Null Vier as Schalke Take All Three

Consistent performances are what we've striven for, what we've been criticized for not doing when we've needed it most, can't argue at the moment for Arsenal have been consistent...... consistently bad for 180 minutes.

It got to one point in the second half where Arsenal's attacking flaccidity culminated in me thinking "Marouane Chamakh might be a good option" - Yup, at that point I needed sectioning. 55,000 people who didn't look or sound like they wanted to be there (Visiting fans aside) watching 7/8 people who didn't look like they wanted to be out there as well.

Plus points....well, um, you know. Per Mertesacker further staked his claim for the very easy title of "Arsenal's best Defender" with a solid, impressive performance, sullied by stepping out but wasn't helped by Santos playing  everybody onside for the goal. Arteta was his normal tidy, efficient self; Jenkinson tried hard as per and there were touches of brilliance from Cazorla. Second goal was classic Champions League away counter attacking as Arsenal piled (?) forward, Schalke broke and squared for Afellay who made it 2-0 very, very easy.

The injuries are playing a part and you can see the loss of fluidity without players like Diaby, Ox, Walcott etc etc but the squad looks awfully thin and short of confidence, even Gervinho's normal get-up-and go was tested in parts of the second half, culminating in him getting yellow for "Simulation" - The attacking side of things is starting to worry as you can't see a goal coming from anywhere.

Also the timing of the subs is now laughably predictable - 72 mins for the first one and it gives the incoming player hardly anytime to get any groove into the game, teams know what to expect from us and it makes us a million times easier to play against. Alarm bells are ringing out everywhere as it seems we only seem to run when we're a goal down and Schalke didn't have to be good tonight either. The difference is they have a striker they can rely on that when he's through on goal....he'll finish, I won't criticise Gervinho too much because he does try and run but you never have confidence he's ever going to do anything when he gets it.

Where does this result leave Arsenal? Dangerously poised in both competition and season as a whole, a difficult away trip to Gelsenkirchen awaits coupled with a visit to Old Trafford. The lack of attempts at goal are also terrifying - Schalke could of left for the airport and I still think we'd of struggled to find the net.


Mannone - 5 - Can't blame for the goals but the confidence he gives the back four is non-existant.

Jenkinson - 6 - Tried Hard

Vermaelen - 5 - Looks out of sorts. Captaincy weighing on him?

Mertesacker - 7 - Looked good. Pulled out of position for Huntelaar's goal

Santos - 2 - Awful. Out of position time and time again. Played Huntelaar onside and beaten for second goal.

Coquelin - 6.5 - Tried hard and got involved by faded.

Arteta - 7 - Tidy. What we have come to expect from Mikel.

Ramsey - 5 - Invisible.

Cazorla - 6 - Flashes of brillance but no-one to help him create anything.

Podolski - 5 - Looks injured and played like he was injured.

Gervinho - 4 - Ran about. Fell over a lot. Lost the ball even more. Booked for diving

Honourable mention for Serge Gnabry who looked like he wanted to do something when he came on.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Schalke Null Vier. A Preview

Schalke are the visitors for Matchday 3 of the Champions League on Wednesday night. Having opened their campaign with a impressive away win against Olympiakos they were pegged back at home in a 2-2 draw with French Champions Montpellier. Arsenal go into the game with maximum points after an away win in France and a home win over Olympiakos.

Previous Meetings

It's been 11 years since our paths have crossed in Group C of the 2001-2002 Champions League. Arsenal won the home tie by 3 goals to 1 while Schalke took their home fixture by 3 goals to 1. In a very rare piece of news both clubs are still managed by the same managers, Arsene Wenger and Huub Stevens

Injury News

Arsenal: Where do we start? Bacary Sagna and Jack Wilshere moved closer to first-team action, appearing in the U-21's 2-1 win away at Everton but the game will come too soon for Kieran Gibbs and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who suffered a minor hip injury in the dismal, shocking, poor & laboured 1-0 defeat against Norwich. (NOPE, NOT OVER IT YET). Throw into the mix that goalkeepers Woijech Szczesny & Lukas Fabianski's injuries and add a dash of Tomas Rosicky's absence with a soupson of doubt over Laurent Koscielny and we're served 90 minutes of fright.

Schalke 04: The only thing I could glean from the German tabs today is that there is doubt over Papadopolous' travelling over for the game and there seems to be problems with both Draxler and Holtby, which is nice for us.


Arsenal played in that game at the weekend while our visitors secured a famous win in the Signal Iduna Park, home of arch-rivals and champions Borussia Dortmund. Arsenal have won 12 from 22 against German opposition while Schalke have only won 3 from 11 against English opposition.


Jonas Eriksson from Sweden officiates his first Arsenal game here but his second Schalke 04 game have overseen their 3-1 win over Valencia in the round of 16 in 2009.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Norwich 1-0 Arsenal - Grim

Can't think of any funny stuff for the headline today. Was Grim wasn't it? I can only dream how grim it was for the (un)lucky folk who made the trip, was very reminiscent of the 1-0 defeat to Ipswich in the 1st leg of the League Cup Semi-Final where the attitude and application were non-existant and questionable and the same as yesterday evening.

It was poor, turgid, flat, leaden-footed, dull, poor again and collectively devoid of any redeeming features both attacking and defending. What troubled me the most (There Was A Lot to choose from in this category) was....

Maybe we underrated the difficulty we would face - Arsene 

Simply an unacceptable thing to comprehend, If I underrate the difficulty of a job where I'm paid big money I am reprimanded, also my manager who no doubt is paid considerably more is definitely told what's expected.

The Worrying thing is this isn't a new problem, there have been many, many times in the past where Arsenal just haven't turned up and shrugged it off as a bad day at the office, maybe there isn't enough pressure on these players to perform, maybe the manager has too much sway and power at the club where it isn't made clear what's expected and everyone has a cosy life with no pressure exerted.

This will cost Arsenal in the long run. It will cost them more than a few players with faces like smacked arses for a few days.

There's no point reviewing the game as it was so bad but congrats must go to Norwich who thoroughly deserved the win, they hassled and harried and took the chance when they needed to. Can always rely on Arsenal to kickstart someone's season.

Schalke at home in the CL this week, not like they've just gone to the home of their rivals and won.....Oh.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

*Exclusive* - Interview with Melissa Reddy.

Bit of a change of speed from me this morning, today is the first in a series about interesting people I have met along my Twitter journey. Twitter has been a very important part in my life in the last few years, it has helped me make some very good friends and some very good contacts.

First in the series is Melissa Reddy, a Liverpool fan who is very prevalent in the South African football media, but enough about my introduction and let Melissa tell you all about herself.

When she’s not busy tweeting f#$% as Liverpool concede another goal due to a defensive brain fart, Melissa Reddy spends her time putting together Africa’s biggest sport magazine – KICK OFF. An expert on South African football and well versed in the European game, her knowledge dvelves all the way down to the builders and painters who ply their trade in England’s non-league. The 26-year-old doesn’t just tweet, read, write, watch and analyse the game, she plays a bit as well. Her left foot is as bad as David Beckham’s vocabulary, but she has her did-she-just-score-that? moments. You can also catch her on SuperSport (South Africa’s equivalent to Sky) or on radio stations 5fm and Metro FM. Or just give her grief about Liverpool by tweeting @1stLadyOfFooty

1.     How did you become involved in Soccer / Football ?
Football has forever been a part of my make-up. I was watching John Barnes in those super tight Red shorts when I was expected to be playing dress-up with Barbie. Professionally, I entered sport reporting in 2007 with TEAMtalk Media, which was Sky Sports’ South African office. I worked across all their divisions (cricket F1 et al.), but once I started working with the football department, they wanted me on their team exclusively.  It was an online environment, where I shifted across ITV, Sky Sports and Teamtalk.com. I used to also work on Blue Square Football, but most of my time was spent on the new South African website we had launched. After four years, in which I progressed from a journalist to head of the football department, I joined KICK OFF. I’m currently the Deputy Editor of Africa’s biggest sport magazine – and that puts a massive smile on my face. I am also an analyst on SuperSport, as well as on our most popular radio stations here in South Africa – 5fm and Metro FM.

2.     When did you decide and what was the key moment in your choice to become involved with the media side of the game?
While I was at university, I did an internship at Summit TV, which is a business channel. While there, all the seasoned journalists used to tell me I should dabble in sport reporting. In fact, wherever I worked, I received the same feedback – writing has always been a strength of mine and my passion for sport was undeniable. So in 2007, I applied for the job at TEAMtalk Media, and got it immediately. I then moved to Cape Town and my life basically centered on becoming the best I could in this field.

3.     Football has always had the stigma of being a "Man's Game" attached to it, have you found any instance where sexism still rears its ugly head on your journey?
We may need a whole new dossier on this subject alone actually. Every exclusive interview I do is obviously only secured in a player’s bedroom, and not because I don’t spend my time asking lifeless questions like ‘how is the mood in the camp?’  I’m on TV and radio because I’m an attractive female, not because everyone that I’ve worked closely with in the industry is well aware of my knowledge. It’s stupid, sickening and shocking in 2012, but it’s still there. And not just for me – I’ve seen the ‘get back in the kitchen’ tweets sent to Kay Murray as well. This is someone who’s hosted the Ballon d’Or, and who will ace it again this year. If you’re good to look at, and don’t put forward your opinions or rock the boat, it’s all good. But if you’re brilliant at what you do, and people know it, you become a threat. Enter sexism.

4.     We can't let this interview carry on without talking about your beloved Liverpool FC, are you pleased with Brendan Rogers' start? Is there anything he could do better? And do you think FSG are providing the necessary support for the manager?
Liverpool Football Club: the longest relationship I’ve ever been in, and an abusive one often enough too. There are plenty of positives from Brendan Rodgers’ tenure thus far – we’re creating a clear playing identity, youngsters are getting the chance to show they belong in the first team, and the manager’s got a great football brain as well as the kind of humility that is stitched in the club’s fabric. Results haven’t always matched performance yet (see Manchester United) and Gervinho’s forehead is bigger than our strike force, but it’s a work in progress.  There’s always things that can be done better, and Rodgers will probably be the first to admit that. Our dealings in the transfer market were largely lacklustre, which is a direct result of last season’s wastage. To his credit though, BR hasn’t sulked – he threw a challenge to Raheem Sterling, Wisdom and Suso, who’ve all accepted with aplomb. FSG and BR share the same belief – Liverpool’s long-term health is more important than immediate gain. It’s hard to argue with that, but it’s also evident that the current squad lacks quality – a little investment in January will go a long way.

5.     What would constitute a good season for Liverpool in your eyes?
This is one of those head-versus-heart and reality-versus-fantasy question. Honestly, if we’re knocking around seventh, *Looks for a bottle of something stiff to gulp down*

6.     Who should we look out coming through the ranks at Anfield?
We’ve seen Sterling, Wisdom and Suso get a regular run out, but for now also keep an eye on Conor Coady, who is also one of England’s brightest young talents. He operates as a centre-back, but also turns out in the middle of the park. We should also see more of young striker Adam Morgan, due to a combination of our forward shortage and his brilliance through the ranks.

7.     And finally, many thousands of people on Twitter follow your account @1stLadyOfFooty, If you are indeed the First Lady, who would you choose to be your president?
The President of Footballdom has to be Diego Maradona. He’d walk through the negotiations with other ‘countries,’ or just chip them, perhaps even blow cigar smoke in their faces … And his sound bites would make those of Zlatan and Super Mario seem as though they were scripted for Teletubbies. Ah, it also means Sergio Aguero would visit the White House often. That’s a nice bonus, eh?

I want to thank Melissa for taking the time out to answer my questions and you can find her on Twitter at @1stLadyofFooty.

Monday, 15 October 2012


Wah. So International football happened this weekend and I can't really say I paid too much interest in it apart from the fact that Ireland are still crap and play dirgeball and the second thing is Theo Walcott's injury. Against San Marino. San. Marino. Out for "at least 2 weeks" with a bruised lung which actually sounds really, really painful. But it's annoying to lose a player in an international fixture.

But I Digress. The transfer stories are picking up the last couple of days; much to may people's dismay as the last window only shut a month and a half ago; but this is absolutely normal because clubs (Arsenal) usually plan strategy meetings for around this time to discuss January dealing so it's no big surprise.

So what do we need in January?

Having a few deja vu moments here as Arsenal identified the need for a striker around this time last season; They tried and failed with Lukas Podolski in January only to purchase him in the summer so maybe that would happen again; however top target Fernando Llorente may not be there in January so I would like to see them be proactive and secure a target sooner rather than later.

Defensive Midfielder?

Pretty clear to me now that Nuri Sahin was cover for Mikel Arteta and not Jack Wilshere, if you have been able to watch Sahin play for Liverpool this season then you'd have seen a similarity in a "deep lying, hybrid DM/Metronome" role, so do we need cover for Arteta?

Absolutely. Arteta's last few years have been hampered with injuries and you can only touch wood for so long.

So It's of no surprise that stories in the media today are ones talking of Arsene's bank balance for Jan and tales of Abel Hernandez/Llorente etc being linked. It seems to me those meetings have already taken place. Let's hope they bear fruit this winter.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Transfer Tombola Time

Djourou to consider future in January & Mannone's Milan Dream

 Calciomercato in Italy have spoken with Johan Djourou's "Italian Representative" Flavio Ferraria about his "client" links with Roma which have been printed in the English Press this morning. I use the "airquotes" because the veracity of my Ferraria's role has been questioned a number of times. Although he denies any deal being done, he does speak of the fact that Djourou will reconsider his future in January and how Italy is of interest to him. Ferraria goes on to say how well he thinks Johan will fit in at Roma, I think Johan will fit in well considering their penchant for stupid defending this season as well.

Meanwhile Vito Mannone has spoken to Corriera Della Sera speaking of his desire to make the number 1 jersey his own, going to to say he would love to return to Serie A one day, and although he is being linked tentatively to Inter and Napoli in Italy, Mannone dreams of playing for his boyhood team AC Milan.

International Break Clear to everyone as Arsenal tediously linked to Alvarez. Again.

The international break is a barren time, especially for club teams, and even more for people who write about club football (WHY DO YOU THINK YOU'RE GETTING BLOGS ON NEWS) so someone somewhere has dipped his hand into the tombola of transfer news to rehash and pulled out the Ricky Alvarez to Arsenal ticket. You can read it here if you want http://www.tuttomercatoweb.com/?action=read&id=390888 - I suggest no.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

International Break: Snoozefest Update

After the highs of West Ham, we are brought down by the impending International fixtures and periodical "PLEASE DON'T GET INJURED" dance we all do. The U-21's won 2-0 last night and was beneficial for the likes of Sagna, Wilshere, Frimpong, Coquelin and Santos to get even more minutes under the belt. Special praise was dealt though for Serge Gnabry who looks like he'll be the next one to make transition from youngsters to seniors, however I am interested to see if Gnabry gets a loan a la Wilshere in preparation for this.

During the snoozefest I'm hoping to bring you some interviews from some characters I have met along my journey on Twitter so stay tuned for that - meanwhile here are the latest new snippets involving Arsenal.

Marquez: Guardiola "Perfect for Arsenal"

New York Red Bulls' Rafa Marquez has stoked the fire on Pep Guardiola's next move

"I didn't yet have the chance to meet Pep in New York," Marquez told SER. "We have been in touch before, to help him move here. 

"He will soon return to the game. I think he'll go to England. He'd be perfect for Arsenal."

Yes he would Rafa, tell him to bring that wee Argentinian fella and the ghostly looking Spanish dude with him as well.

Giroud: "Many more to come"

Arsenal's newly-christened striker in the Church of Premier League Goals Olivier Giroud has spoken of his relief on breaking his duck to French Station Radio Monte Carlo.

"It sounds a bit silly, but seeing the ball in the back of the net was something I was waiting for in the Premier League," he said. "At last I've been baptized, I hope there are many more goals to come.
"Obviously I was expecting things to be a bit complicated because the Premier League is of a very high standard, if not the highest. You have to adapt and even Thierry Henry took some time to score his first goal. It changes quite a lot of things for a striker, playing at the highest level for a big club like Arsenal, you have to be decisive.

Until tomorrow...

Monday, 8 October 2012

Arsenal 3-1 West Ham - Per Mertesacker works for Starfleet


Isn't life just happier and better after a win? First of all I consider myself in the "Bad Fan" category this weekend as I thought it was a 3pm kick-off....but onto the game.

What you think you're going to get from a Sam Allardyce team is usually what you get from a Sam Allardyce team and that's power, fight and restarts and that's exactly what we got. The first half was typical, vintage, lovely Arsenal in the fact we looked classy and composed without looking like we were going to score only to be undone by one moment of genius from West Ham's best player Mohamed Diame.

Diame tucked up Ramsey with a lovely piece of footwork before drawing Per Mertesacker into the "Do I block or stand off?" decision of which he did neither, his finish curled into the top corner beyond Vito Mannone was a thing of delight, but could we get back into this?

I like Olivier Giroud and not just because he is ridiculously handsome, he's a nuisance to defenders and you can see how hard he's trying to impress and he gives it everything he has which as a fan, you cannot be anything but impressed with. However he hasn't got the memo that Arsenal players don't usually attack the six-yard box as his goal proved, lung-busting run at just the right time to flick beyond Jussi to equalise.

I'd of taken a point at this stage, I think it was important not to lose this game after what happened at Chelsea and the patchy performance midweek, Arteta was metronomic again, Cazorla hopped, skipped and jumped his way through midfield but more was to come, Giroud's throughball was calmly, slotted home by Walcott (YES, I KNOW!) and the only sensation more bizarre than watching him slot one in was watching him run through and not worry about it, I knew he'd score. Theo Walcott is the anti-Gervinho

The third goal was just class. There was only one moment of Hammer Time! in the whole game and it wasn't from a claret and blue, it was the tenacity of Walcott to poke the ball to the Spanish Wizard who just wrapped his left round the ball and it whizzed past Jussi. Game over. Job done.

Annoyed at the fact it's an Interlull now but with Mertesacker looking tired and a knock for Gibbs, it may just come at the right time.

Things we learnt:

Per Mertesacker works for Starfleet - He has the uncanny ability to halt Thomas Vermaelen from charging up the field, clearly the man has possession of a tractor-beam and works on the sly for Starfleet

Theo Walcott is the Anti-Gervinho - Coolness and calmness personified with his goal.

And.....Olivier Giroud will be fine - It's annoyed me how many people have had to come out in defence of OG since he's joined. The guy is finding his feet and actually is a very important part of the squad, he is a nuisance, and very empathetic in his build-up play resulting in how often he's involved in goals this season. Let's hope this is the first of many Premier League goals.


Thursday, 4 October 2012

Nearly a Wet Sham,onto West Ham...

Olympiakos have been overcome, and now all eyes on West Ham and a real test of Arsenal's character as they come up against old foe Sam Allardyce and West Ham. Hammers have played some decent football this summer but you can't help think that Big Sam will revert to his "Beat Arsenal 101" Textbook for the game on Saturday.

Set Pieces, Throw-Ins and "Restarts" will be the order of the day and watching Vermaelen and Koscielny vs the Greeks will have Andy Carroll and Sam licking their lips. I think Per will start if he's able to overcome the flu which meant he was taken ill on Saturday morning. Going to have a quick run-through of who I would start if I was picking the team today (Basically if no-one gets laid out before Sat)

GK: Vito Mannone - Vito has kinda reached the "Johan Djourou" level of people realising his limitations as his exposure to the first team grows, had Szczesny came back in after the Man City game, we'd all be wistfully talking about his stint in goal, but he is our most senior goalkeeper.

RB: Carl Jenkinson - Can't believe this kid's progression this season, I always used to have "The fear" whenever I saw the ball go towards him last season but now looks a more assured player and someone who really looks up for the slog, in fact both fullbacks have been key for Arsenal this season.

CB: Per Mertesacker - I've written stuff and said countless times that Per is an important player for Arsenal, not always for the things you see on the ball but for the things that you don't see, the talking, the positional wisdom and also the fact that Vermaelen never goes rampaging forward with Per, now whether that is because Vermaelen trusts Koscielny more or Per shouts at him not to go is another matter.

CB: Thomas Vermaelen - Because he's captain. Needs to atone for his shocker on Wed.

LB: Kieran Gibbs - Probably Arsenal's player of the season and rightly rewarded with a call-up to the senior England squad, links well with Gervinho and Podolski whilst remaining strong defensively.

CDM: Mikel Arteta - First name on the team-sheet. If you're looking for an undroppable player who should be captain, then Mikel is probably your man, looked a bit off-pace Wed due to the ankle knock and lack of prep time.

CDM: Aaron Ramsey - Diaby's injured and I'm scared about seeing Coquelin's naive play against a robust West Ham midfield that could see him up against Diame or Diarra, plus Coquelin seemed to take an calf knock.

AM: Santi Cazorla - Picks himself. Wizard. Always looking dangerous.

AM: Theo Walcott - Soz Theo but it's the wing again for you, but Oxlade-Chamberlain has been poor for a couple of games and Theo's cameo's have me excited.

AM: Lukas Podolski - According to the Twittervine, up to 6 Arsenal players were suffering from flu-like symptoms coming up to Wednesday and I'll bet Lukas was one, scored a good goal but looked a bit lethargic. Still dangerous

CF: Olivier Giroud - DROPPING GERVINHO? DALTON ARE YOU MAD? Well Probably but hear me out - this game is going to be won in the trenches and it's going to need West Ham's defence to be occupied, although his goalscoring record doesn't look smart, Giroud's hold up play and intelligence will be absolute key for a game such as this.

Ars 3-1 Oly - Greeks nearly rain on our Piraeus

It was a win and at first glance, it looks a comprehensive win. It wasn't.

It was a jerky, clunky performance that in truth want very good. But we won "ugly" and I'd rather win "ugly" than lose playing well.

Pluses for the night include the weekly praise for the full-backs. Kieran Gibbs has been excellent this season, but I cannot believe the natural progression of Carl Jenkinson. He looked assured and confident going forward and back.

The other plus (sort of) is Gervinho, he gets masses of stick for his control, but I'd always rather a player makes a mistake by doing something positive than negative, and throw into that the fact he never goes missing and you have someone I can fully get behind.

Olympiakos were determined, well organised and very unlucky to leave London empty-handed and I can only hope we have wrapped up qualification by the time we go to Greece.

West Ham next, that means the Walrus and Restarts. Deep Joy. Per better be stocked on Lemsips.