Injury List Eases To Brighten Wenger’s Mood

Ahead of the trip to Bolton this weekend, Arsene received an injury boost with Cesc expected to return in time to have lumps kicked out of him at The Reebok. The injury list is in danger of reducing substantially in coming weeks. Gael Clichy may make the visit to Bolton but Wenger is reticent in doing so judging by his comments:

Gael Clichy is available and he might be in the squad as well on Sunday. I don’t want to go overboard with Gael because he has been out for a long time but he looks very, very sharp in training.

Had the game been crucial and Traore not coping in his absence, Wenger may well have been more bullish in his outlook, possibly putting his compatriot into the starting line-up.

The modern propensity for squad systems overrides the previous inclination to believe that having three good quality left backs would lead to one leaving. Traore has a versatility which will stand him in good stead in the future, able to fill in on left midfield whilst Gibbs and Clichy battle for defensive supremacy. If Arsene cannot choose between the two, he could organise a play-off using whichever version of FIFA is available for the Xbox.

Nicklas Bendtner is back in training, a fortnight away from returning, presumably in either the Stoke or Aston Villa games. His return will ease the pressure somewhat on the stretched forward line is possibly the reason why no immediate signing has been made. That said, his return will not prevent Wenger spending if he deems it necessary.

The Dane has his critics and can be inconsistent but this season, prior to his injury, he was putting in some good performances albeit on the right hand side of the attack predominantly. van Persie’s absence though may change that. Eduardo has led the line in some games but is used on the wide left of the forward line.

Whilst the interchangibility of positions in the 4-3-3 used this season renders traditional tactical thinking redundant in terms of this player stays in this position, Eduardo is being eased back into the side via Wenger’s usual route of using someone on the flanks, giving them time to acclimatise. Bendtner in the centre allows Arshavin to drop deeper whilst keeping the threat from the Croat up front.

Defensive midfield will be occupying Wenger’s mind more though. Denilson is unlikely to be used this weekend so Abou Diaby‘s willingness to drop into the deeper role in Alex Song’s absence seems the most likely option. Whilst other less experienced players are available, Diaby seems the most likely solution to his short-term problem.

Will the return of these three change anything as far as a new signing is concerned? I suspect Andrey Arshavin hit the nail firmly on the head when he said it will be at the end of the transfer window that any activity in the market takes place, if anything happens at all.

Either path is fraught with problems for the manager; if he makes a signing and that player does not perform, he will be criticised although nothing like to the extent if he does nothing and Arsenal fail to win a trophy.

’til Tomorrow.

Posted on January 14, 2010, in Arsenal, Football, Premier League, Premiership, Soccer and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 221 Comments.

  1. f4phantomphreak

    I think Nikki B. on the wing is a waste of his talents, why is he played a winger?? I mean he’s not lightning fast or anything…. As far as transfers goes I doubt AW brings in anyone, in his mind he has Diaby to fill in for Song, B-52 coming back to lead the line up front so there you have it, well at least thats what me thinks…..

  2. The advantage is they will all be fresh for the second part of the season.

  3. Can’t wait to have Bendtner back. He has grown quite a bit in the past 18 months and is only going to get better.

    I really wonder though if AW will make Everton give up Saha for Senderos now that Lucas Neil is off to Galatasaray. If he does come, how much playing time do u see him getting YW?

  4. Oh forgot…

    welcome back Gael & Capt Cesc ( u prodigious ALL-WORLD-talent u). Should be fun @ ingrate Coyle’s Bolton this weekend.

    AA to score a brace!

    Can Diaby really pay DM? Me thinks his attacking instincts are too strong. But with Cesc, Nasri or Rosicky in CM he might chill at the bk.but i doubt it for 90 mins.

    We’ll see. T’will be interesting.
    Can’t wait


  5. Interesting about the weekend’s game is whether Bolton will convert to Owen Coyles’ Burnley style where they really try to play football instead of hoofball to find the head of Kevin “Elbows” Davis.

  6. lol@ The injury list is in danger of reducing substantially in coming weeks.

  7. With Sol available it may be prudent to test Tom(vermalean) at DMF. Also with Traore and (eventualy Gibbs) to cover LB it would be useful to try Clichey at DMF. He has the tackle, pace and exceptional ability to intercept opposition passes that he would be excellent to break up attacks, and set up counter attacks a La Overmars. Rosicky, Vermalean and Nasri would make an interesting midfield three. Could try Diaby up front allowing AA and Cesc to run at defences. Diaby is not cautious enough for DMF, but the risks he takes may pay off up front.

  8. Tv at dm is nonsence, he would more likely lose possesion in dangerous areas. it’s a non starter.

  9. Watching the cricket Duke? Proper England today.

    Thank God for Collingwood.

  10. Its amazing how Bendtner has now become a world-beater and the saviour of our season while he has been out for 3 months

    In my opinion he has the potential to be a good player but to put all this pressure on his young shoulders is asking too much.

  11. Our best ever defence was made up of 3 CB with one Martin Keown covering in front, standing in at LB and RB and DMF thus match fit and ready to step in as required. The three also provided additional aeriel ability in both defence and attack. TV is not prone to giving the ball away, and the trial would give us that cover if / when needed. Given AW’s reluctance to buy we cannot seriously contemplete Diaby there and Deneilson has shown his weakness already.

  12. Rubbish, KilburnJohn. Utter rubbish.

  13. ponting player of the decade…wtf



  15. 3 CB’s?

    I onlt really remember us playing that at Anfield in ’89 – Certainly don’t remember it being a common thing.

    Moving Vermaelen into midfield is crazy – why move your best players in their favoured position, out of position?

    Makes no sense.

    Surely the most effective team would be to have your best players playing in their favoured positions.

  16. SomeRandomGunner

    ponting player of the decade…wtf

    i thought same too, but who else u wud hav

  17. @ srg
    kallis and no one else

  18. KilburnJohn the movement in our midfield would be to fast for Vermaelen to pick a pass out. While I think he could break up play and maybe play a long ball, and hold on to possession. However I don’t think he necessarily has the quick thinking and feet to play the passing play to get any moves started.

    I think teaching a the wrong sort of player to play other positions, can have a negative effect. Some players are cut out for a Utility role, some are not.

    Perhaps Traore or even Eboue once home. But to be honest our best options by far in song’s absence are A fit Denilson, or a restrained Diaby. I don’t think this is a position we are week in, Nasri could also cope here.

  19. It’ll be good to see Clichy back – i missed him intercepting the ball and then beating three players as he cuts in at high speed!

  20. We are looking at very short term solution, but for a vital part of the season. The two Bolton games and the FA cup gives us a chance to experiment a little, before the season defining (potentially 6 point) games against Villa, Manu and Chelsea, Liverpool. TV flanked by Rosicky and Nasri would shore up the defence. I believe Clichy will move there is the long term when Gibbs is fit and well. AA is forecsating doom mainly becaue he is getting no change from 2 CBs, whilst Diaby may get some, especially headers. AA and Cesc will be a handful for any defence, with CB precoccupied with Diaby.

  21. I disagree on a few points there Killburn but, I think we are down a deadend.

  22. When on form Clichy is one the best left backs in the country – so again, why move a player out of position?

    With a bit of discipline, Diaby can cover for Song while he is away, and as he already plays in Central midfield, a slight adjustment to his style of play would surely be better than moving a defender there.

  23. A few questions for you fellow gunners..

    1. Do you think that Man Utd could ever go under. Would they ever sell Rooney or Old trafford!!!

    2. Would you really want this?

  24. Els you must be mistaken. about this “…However I don’t think he necessarily has the quick thinking and feet to play the passing play to get any moves started.”

    i seem to remember him carrying out such attacking moves at the start of the season.

  25. not that am advocating for him to play DMF. he is doing just fine at the back but if push came to shove it could work.

  26. els

    Man U will never go under wether we like it or not they are one of the biggest brands in the world along with R.Madrid. Their fanbase is massive.If the Yanks decide to sell you can bet a rich Arab ala Man City will buy the club.

    The expreriences of Man utd and Liverpool should make us weary of Kroenke though.The Americans may be great businessmen in their own country and can run American sports teams but they cant run EPL teams

  27. Clichy will not be moved into midfield. He’s our best left-back, and I can’t see either Gibbs or Traore surpassing him in the near future. I doubt those three will all stay at Arsenal in the long term, since every one of them is clearly good enough to play regularly at a top club.

  28. Else no.1 I dont think it would ever happen.not in this decade and B If Real were to offer them a good sum I doubt they’d turn it down all things considered

    No.2- I wouldnt have a sleepless night if it ever happened.I hate them that much.

  29. els
    1 Of course it is possible – bigger businesses than Man U have folded recently, no one is immune from the basic facts of economics.
    2 I wouldn’t care at all if we lost manu, chelsea and Hull for ever. No loss at all.

  30. Billy Gee,

    Nobody is too big to fail. Lehman Brothers went down. Bears Stern went down. Even the fucking Roman Empire went down.

    As they say in Texas; in time every one quits.

  31. If man utd went bankrupt, it would be great news for the world of football, but I doubt it will happen any time soon. The only thing that could put them in danger is the belief that being a big brand can save a business that is losing money. Unless we are lucky enough to see Billy Gee elected to their board, however, they are unlikely to adopt such an absurd belief.

  32. I agree with Ole.

  33. I agree, Man Utd won’t go under.

    Never underestimate the power of a brand, and painful as it is to admit Man Utd is now a global brand. Even if they sell assets, they can rebuild quickly using the brand’s equity.

  34. The Bond issue is a good idea for United, in the long term. It’ll mean a few years of tight belts like at The Emirates but will eventually put them in a better situation.

  35. The election of NJS to their board would also do the trick.

  36. General Motors …

  37. I would mind poliziano.

    I could withdraw ‘management fees’

  38. The American at Villa seems to be running the club magnificently. He even procured or allowed local sponsorship. But I may be mistaken.

    While it’s prudent to be wary of outsiders, Kroenke is no barbarian. He also has an understanding with Gazidis, given their MLS connection.

    ManU aren’t going anywhere. Even if they have some serious structural issues, they would never run out of credit to buy talent in order to compete at the highest levels.

  39. Far bigger brands than man utd go out of business all the time. Once a company can no longer make a profit, its brand becomes simply a byword for failure.

  40. The reality is that the worst its going to get for United is that they may need to keep selling players in order to meet their interest payments.

    Some would say, thats what we had to do.

  41. I don’t think the underlying business is doing badly at Man United.

    Ferguson just has to learn from Wenger how to compete within his club’s means.

    Don’t think they’ll fail though Le Monde claims they’re on the brink.

  42. They won’t go bust. The world isn’t that lucky.

  43. With Song or Denilson in the team, or best of all both, we have great license to commit two midfielders and three attackers to each of our dizzying waves of attack. Without that bona fide anchor type character, all we need be is a little more abstemious in the middle. So if Diaby and Ramsey are picked, or Diaby and Nasri, they probably need to double-up a bit at the back, to give a solid platform for the golden Faberge Egg to glint and seduce ahead of them. Or at least take it in turns to hold back, and to curb their natural instinct to get involved in all the fun stuff. They only need shackle themselves for the away leg – at the Emirates we can throw caution to the wind again and all bomb forward like Brasil in 1970. Party time.

  44. While absolutely any business can go under, I think it would obviously take something drastic for them to completely fold, surely as has been said, some tycoon would always be interested in buying into the biggest sports brand in the world.

    It will all be to the detriment of the club as it is now. I think Man U as we know it could very well cease to exist.

    As much as I despised Man U in my youth, I have to admit that, that is fading with age. Don’t get me wrong I could never cheer them on, but I do think they make the premiership succesful and a good competition for us. Therefore I wouldn’t like them to go under.

  45. First lady, don’t get me wrong I love Tommy. I just think those runs he goes on are timed and chosen carefully, I don’t think he could play in that pos for 90 mins, not in any creative way anyway. No doubt he could stop a lot of play. But like you say why would he play there.

  46. If Man United fold and go to the wall, I think a new club which is not as glamourous will arise from the ashes.

    The truth is that their prospectus for the bonds issue is grim reading and the strategy to pay back is very weak and is based on the hope of winning and retaining the crowds and worldwide fans who will supposedly buy merchandise. They can’t even get past Leeds United in the FA cup.

    But it won’t be straightforward for them to raise funds by selling bonds.

    UK PLC with a triple A credit rating is struggling to raise money in the bonds market. And this with Gordon Brown in charge. It’s not going to be a walk in the park for the Manure. Besides, there is universal recognition that Ferguson will immenently retire and the next guy in the hot seat might not be a success.

  47. Two lessons from the Man U debacle:

    1. Success on the pitch is not a cure-all. The guy at the Online Gooner Kevin What’shisname has gone on and on about how Arsenal had to “speculate to accumulate” and associated codswallop.

    Reality is that in football, the ultimate prize gets you just a bit more than your closest competitiors and the economics of the game does not justify breaking the bank to win that ultimate prize. Which means the ultimate prize is worth more if you achieve it within your means. Just as Wenger always said. Oh my God, that Arsene Wenger. Not content with being a genius, is now a prophet.

    2. Single ownership is risky.

  48. “some tycoon would always be interested in buying into the biggest sports brand in the world.”

    Any tycoon who makes a habit of buying businesses that lose money will not be a tycoon for long.

  49. I know nothing about business, but I am surrounded all day by fuckwits who use the word ‘brand’ willy-nilly. Here’s my layman’s take on ManU’s brand:

    I pray that in a few years people will be laughing at how readily the word, ‘brand’ is flung around today. The word means little more than conception people have of a business or product; like a banana skin, it turns black if the flesh of the business isn’t in good shape.

    If there’s a steady trickle of bad news about the a product or business then the “brand” suffers, and people get cynical about any attempts to mend reputation. Bad football and a couple of trophyless seasons would be dire for ManU, more than for any other club.

    I’d say that ManU’s brand is founded on success, and if they fail to win trophies then the people who were seduced in the first place will look elsewhere.

    Sorry again if that sounds incredibly ignorant!

  50. Tycoons buy failing businesses all the time for a low market value. Then manage them properly to turn them into a profit.

    That’s generally how tycoons become tycoons.

  51. Darius,
    I’m sorry for taking my criticism of your article too far the other day. I suppose I found it hard to stomach; but out of respect for the entertainment you have so often provided for us on here, I should have kept my comments civil.

  52. Precisely, NJS. They buy businesses that they can use to make money, not ones that will lose it.

  53. Poliziano I guess so but surely it would be a slow decline and not obviously a bad choice. Also look at abramovich he has bought Chelsea as a play thing not neccesarily to make cash, or else he would be long gone. The same at Man City, I doubt they will be realistically expecting to re-coup some of the transfer costs being bandied about.

    I am obviously having this conversation to gain opinion, I don’t claim to have any great knowledge here. 🙂

  54. NJS Suppose one buys manu and “tries” to manage properly but fails? Poliziano would be correct.

  55. Everyone is missing the point Sol has been bought to play upfront. DOH!!!!!!

  56. NJS,

    Football is not a modular business. It has many components. And results are less guaranteed because the resources that drive success in this sphere are much limited than in most other businesses except entertainment.

    If you buy an over-leveraged club, you have to find away to get rid of the debt before you can make money.

    Another problem is that few investors actually have a track record of making money in football.

    The only people who’ve made money in football are not the ones driving the groups taking over football clubs.

    Most of the investors haven’t got a fucking clue.

  57. I imagine there will always be some egotistical tycoon that would think they could make a go of Man Utd.

  58. Abromovich as it stands is tired of being a milking cow. Sooner or later if chelsea dont start living within their means is gonna scoot.

  59. Great point NJS.

    Also OneofUs, I work in design and advertising, and increasingly come into contact with the word brand. It’s just a cosy word to talk about how a company is perceived in the market place. But these things do have a massive relationship with success. Your assessment was spot on in my eye’s. Me and my co-workers hate the term ‘brand’ also.

  60. I totally agree Ole that sports is a difficult business to make money in but I don’t think Man Utd will struggle get financial backers.

    It has potential to make money, why do the Glazers own it? they have little or no emotional connection to the club unlike chairmen of old who owned their clubs out of love. It’s just not being managed correctly in difficult economic times. Unlike Arsenal.

  61. Abramovich isn’t a fool. I doubt he ever imagined he could make a profit from Chelsea. The oil pumpers are fools, but even they probably had enough wit to realise that Man City wouldn’t make them money. For both, owning a football club is a game. For them, the football is just a game within a game.

  62. The fact about brands is that a strong brand is worth a companies assets ten times over. That’s why so much time and money is invested into builing and protecting them. The general public love buying into brands, sad but true, and football is no exception now.

    This has turned into a business blog! I only came on to read about our injury situation.

  63. els,

    Media are misinforming you.

    Man City’s owners have stated they intend to make money. They say they’re taking a long-term view, as Abu Dhabi invariably does, but they want to start making money.

  64. Poliziano. I never took any offense about your criticism earlier on in the week. I think we both appreciate that it’s OK to argue our point out. I’m sure if we were in a pub having a drink we’d still have the same discussion and attempt to make our points however diverse, before buying the next drink and continuing with another discussion.

  65. I agree with Poliziano that was

  66. NJS,

    The problem at Man you is not financial backers. They generate a lot of cash.

    The problem is that the owners are raiding the club, and the manager is not cutting his coat in compensation.

  67. Ole then I think they are fools, either that or they have a very very massive task ahead, and they are in for a long haul.

    Even Ivan has a tough task turning us into something big in the states and we at least have some global recognition.

  68. KJ – agree with moving TV to DM, at least as a back up option. Also thought Clichy could fill this role.

    It’s not in Denilson’s DNA to be a DM – he has shown over 2 season’s to be poor in the air and unsuccessful for the 50/50 balls – things TV excels at.

    Although Els brings up valid concerns about TV5’s passing limitations, I believe Arsene selects players who have a great skill sets and TV (like Gallas) was a LB.

    Maybe this is a dead end discussion, but 90 minute match fitness, for these professional athletes, would unlikely be an obstacle.

  69. Hear, hear DS. It’s all just debate, isn’t it?


    I suppose a factor with ManU is whether the most famous club in the world (said through gritted teeth) really does have further unrealised potential or not. And that debt is a massive hurdle to overcome and getting taller every day.
    Anyway, I hope they are humbled, whatever happens.

    @ KJ and Arsesession

    Why make changes and do potentially costly experiments when you don’t have to? If TV moves out of CB position you have a new partnership in TWO vital areas, not just one.

    @ YW
    Another good thing about the LB situtation is that Gibbs prefers to play in midfield and Traore prefers LB.

    I’d be happy with the new confident Diaby in the anchor role. It’s not what he likes best, but he can definitely hold it together for a couple of games. How would you guys view Rosicky in that role? TR7 defends brilliantly. Diaby could then take the fight to Bolton, and Cesc could do his Cescy thang. Am I barking mad?

  70. “The problem is that the owners are raiding the club, and the manager is not cutting his coat in compensation.”

    They’ve also probably lost £20,000,000 in a year on Berbatov.

  71. The Berbatov situation was instructive. Nobody else was in the bidding, he’s not a prolific scorer despite his class, and they paid £30M.

    And even that’s much better than the £30M they spent on Nani & Anderson.

  72. @ fungunner
    agree about importance of chemistry at CB – but the DM is the firewall to the back 4.

    Look at the Everton match – giving up 3 goals with our normal defensive four.

    Don’t see Diaby effective at DM, but would like to be proven wrong.

  73. sorry abt the incorrect scoreline for Everton. 2 goals.

  74. @Fun Gunner.

    Little Mozart is not averse to playing DM and he’s done it on many occasions while playing in Germany or for the Czech national team – usually to fill a gap.

    The ideal situation would be to interchange roles depending on what’s happening on the pitch – sometimes Diaby’s power and drive will do and sometimes Little Mozart will have to conduct the midfield like an orchestra and help weave the magic.

    But if Denilson is out, my sense is that Wenger will go for Diaby, Cesc and Rosicky in the middle of the park (perhaps with Rambo coming in to relieve Rosicky) or vice versa. I don’t see the front 3 changing until Bendy is ready.

    Rosicky will probably play in the middle as opposed to one of the attacking 3 until Song comes back to give more options.

  75. Omigod…

    The DM fetish that so many fans have. Man poo won 3 back to back titles without a DM.

  76. fungunner far from it..You actually make alot of sense.

  77. ole i thought Fletcher was one.

  78. Arsesessio, you are not looking at things objectively. The first goal did not come from open play so cannot be laid at the door of an absent DM. The second, possibly, but that was due to the whole team taking their eye off the defending while chasing the win. That was a mistake that is easily rectified on the training pitch since I recall a similar goal being given up when Song was with us. The team is in the process of adaptation, they need time to do that before being written off

  79. Denilson is more than capable at DM. He’s not Song. But he has his own immense strong points.

    Stop boring us with longshot DM replacement stories.

  80. Firstlady,

    Fletcher is a box to box midfielder. He doesn’t sit in front of the back 4. While Carrick is a deep-lying playmaker, look at his tackling stats and you see he’s not a holding midfielder. He doesn’t tackle much.

  81. Passenal,

    The second goal was due to poor organisation. We had the defence gone forward, and the people staying back to cover were all out of position. A team mistake.

  82. Fletcher can barely be classed as a footballer, let alone a ‘box to box midfielder’. In fact, he can barely be classed as a sentient being.

  83. With the current the finanical market spending lots of bucks may not be a good idea. Everyone is hurting. One of the big clubs is in deep do-do with money. This is great Gale Clichy coming back.
    Lets see how things shake out. I still think Arsenal will win the EPL.

  84. If Fabregas and whoever else is picked in the middle (Rosicky/Nasri/Ramsey), defend with Diaby as a unit, as they do with Song – Diaby will do fine. Talk of his (or Ramsey if he plays there), having to curb their attacking instinct, is true to a degree, but overplayed. It’s not as though they are unruly children, or compulsive idiots who simply cannot help themselves but bolt forward and attack. They are some of the most intelligent footballers in the league, hence their playing for Arsenal, and they can certainly each cope with fulfilling a defensive role for the team, and being disciplined, if that is what’s required.

    As long as we defend as a unit, whoever fulfills the Song role, will do fine.

  85. Passenal,
    did not intend to use the Everton match as the primary example.

    Many other examples where weak play at DM placed undue pressure on our back four.

    My point, for this position we need someone who is strong in tackles & in the air.

    I can see Diaby playing DM, but he will need some support with experience, either Nasri or Rosicky BUT not Ramsey.

  86. @ LA
    Ha ha. We do know Fletcher is a sentient being, though, because he is so hurt at being outed as a professional thug!

    @ firstlady – thanks, that’s a relief! 🙂

    @ Darius Stone
    But if Denilson is out, my sense is that Wenger will go for Diaby, Cesc and Rosicky in the middle of the park
    Yes, that was what I was thinking. It could be fabulous.

  87. @ Ole Gunner

    Denilson is more than capable at DM. He’s not Song. But he has his own immense strong points.

    Stop boring us with longshot DM replacement stories.
    Denilson is not available for our next match, possibly not our next two matches. And Rosicky and Diaby are not exactly “long shots”, surely?

  88. “Fletcher can barely be classed as a footballer, let alone a ‘box to box midfielder’. In fact, he can barely be classed as a sentient being.”

    I think he is best classified as a Scot.

  89. FunGunner,

    Arsene says we’ll know on Friday if he’ll be available.

  90. I think if Denilson’s not available he’ll use Ramsey there again, like he did at Wolves.

  91. Tough game on Sunday, the nerves don’t deal well with no midweek game, it is too long to build up to it.

    Manure are in the turd because Fergie spent huge sums on rubbish. He must have known that there was a time when money would be short, but there is no youth coming through and his signings have flopped. Now thet are selling to cover debts and the old guard are breaking down.

    Ferdinand? He would have been better off with Campbell thus far. Giggs and Scholes will be back because they can’t get anyone to replace them. They will need a new GK, two new Centre-backs, a winger, a striker, and some quality in central midfield this summer. Maybe a right back if that brazilian kid can’t learn how to defend.

    Compare that with Arsene. He dismantled the old team quickly, invested heavily in youth. Now we have the deepest squad in the league, a ludicrous number of talented youth prospects, and the future looks bright.

    Fergie took the titles though, rode all he could out of that team and accepted a fire-sale later. Some would have rather we did the same, rather than sell of the Invincibles.

    If we win the league this year, more titles will follow, and we will be set for a decade with a talented team constantly supplemented from within the club. We need this title though, to keep the dynasty on track.

  92. VaughntheSAGunner

    Another day, another reason comes to mind as to why the signing of Sol has more pros than cons: He is about 6ft’2. Seriously, imagine in an FA CUP fixture in the middle of the so-called ‘crunch-time’ we simply call on Mr. Campbell to replace 1 of the Verminator or Gallas. Defence sorted, in the short term of course. Next up; A CF please!

  93. VaughntheSAGunner

    P.S. anyone else joining the ‘Liverpool-Crisis-lets-sack-Rafa-and-sell-Torres-debate’ on Sky.It really is great fun. Just state that your an Arsenal fan and let rip!

  94. – – – – – – – -Almunia – – – – – – – – – –
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    Sagna – Gallas – Vermaelen – Traore
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    – – – – – – – -Ramsey – – – – – – – – – –
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    – – – – -Fabregas – Diaby – – – – – – –
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    Nasri – – – – – – – – – – – – – -Arshavin
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    – – – – – – – – Eduardo – – – – – – – – –

    Being a massive Rosicky fan, I’d obviously love for him to start, perhaps in place of Arsh – but I think this is most likely.

    The ‘return leg’ looks even stronger with Clichy and Denilson in contention.

  95. Wouldn’t it be great to have the consistency of Offalpool, the financial security of ManU, and the youthful exhuberance of Chelski? If only our manager could conduct the business as well as they do.

  96. Adebayor…adebayoooooorrrrrr

    He got shot in the bus…….

    Cos he’s a f*cking judasss !!!!!!!!

  97. arsenehollis you made manu sound utterly shite there, and as individuals they are. The only reason they come up high in the table is the workrate and organisation. That will be GONE with fergie, and all they will have is a secondrate squad with a Lovely ‘Brand’.

  98. Liverpool should sack rafa and get in Houllier and roy evans

  99. els, did u know that old trafford might be sold off???? Manure even accepted a 5mil quid sponsorship from a nigerian telco. they are skint mate

  100. but rafa signed maxi

  101. where is zap?

  102. “When on form Clichy is one the best left backs in the country – so again, why move a player out of position?”

    Matt, I find it kind of ironic that you’re harping on this point when your icon is a picture of Arshavin.
    Great players play out of position all the time, because it helps the team.

  103. mr blobby as much i hate Ade,i never wish him or anyone else to get shot.

  104. Champions In May

    Stop the hype. Denilson is a good player but can’t play DM. He lacks the physicality to shield the ball from opponents and is weak in the 50-50 balls. He lacks aerial ability as well. His many falls in games are a manifestation of his weakness in strength.

    Well, 21 games unbeaten with him playing DM was not good enough. We don’t want another 19 remaining games unbeaten with so many draws with weak teams that will eventually deny us the title.

    I say, Arsene, try Coquelin or Eastmond in that position now.

  105. nolagunner

    u are right but getting clichy to play in midfield is a big ask. He’s used to hugging the touchline not interchanging positions and stuff. Maybe as a left forward he’d be ok.

  106. zap is on le grove

  107. C I May

    A Moaner arent u?

  108. as for Jabba the fat Waiter , he is the most overrated manager in Spanish football ever.
    He s just a chequebook manager who just spend spend on zillion players.No just with Liverpool,he ve done it before with Valencia and Real

  109. Champions in May,

    How did we finish 4th last season with him in DM. How did we set an EPL record of clean sheets at home?

  110. anything to me blobby?

  111. CiM = Howard.

  112. nasirjonesnasri

    Is Champions in May the new tag, Howard? Seems like a silly name for someone as doomy and pessimistic as yourself.

    And you’re a c*nt Mr Blobby. For some reason I doubt you’ve ever lost a close friend let alone had a close friend die in your arms. Grow the f*ck up, and look up the word compassion while you’re at it, you mong.

  113. nasirjonesnasri


    TV05 and GC22 are not defensive mids. End of story. It’s quite simple. This isn’t FIFA 10 where you can just play whoever, wherever. Diaby is more than capable of dominating that position. Why the lack of confidence in Diaby?

  114. Feels like we’ve had some healthy debate upto early afternoon. And now the twats have arrived.

    Oh well enjoyed it, while it lasted.

  115. Well said nasirjonesnasri.

    People losing their lives puts football into perspective…too much f*cking perspective.

  116. (I swear we have this damn conversation three times a week. )

    Yeah, yeah we heard you…you don’t rate Denilson. Kthxbye

  117. looks like de Guzman, is leaving Feyenoord ( a Player I like the look of) a Wengerball type player, only thing is we genuinely don’t need him. Would be a shame for him to go elsewhere though. He could warm our bench as he’d be relatively cheap I think. Also I think the same about Babel.

  118. I don’t think Liverpool is going to be letting Babel go anywhere with Torres out for 6-8 weeks.

  119. axis he’s out that long?

    I need to make some fantasy football changes.

    I doubt they’ll get the best out of babel. He seems underappreciated.

  120. They have David Ngog as back up, that’s it i think! Voronin has gone.

  121. “My point, for this position we need someone who is strong in tackles & in the air”

    Was Makélélé at 5’7″ (That’s 1700mm!) a notorious header of the ball?

    However much I hated the fact that he ended his career playing for the Chavs, he was a fine footballer, stopped us dominating those early encounters with the Twat’s Chav team, but I never thought he was ‘good in the air’.

    The DM debate is a tragic D**M.

    What I mean is, I think that the guy who plucked TV5 from Ajax, who recently bought AA & Nasri, who moulded players like Song over years, knows what he is doing.

  122. I used Makélélé as he is the supposed arch-typical DM that AFC have required for the last few seasons.

  123. YesYes Toure dosn’t know why Wenger didn’t sign him.

    “It’s not fair I’m ded good n’all totally beter than song, he’s a doyle. And y’ know what our Kolo played there n all. I don’t care cos i’m gunna end up at liverpool or sumit now and they are in a far better position. That’l learn them”

  124. Yés thé mákélélé suggestion makes the cry for a big dm look a bit dumb, as in the same breath people will hold him as the bar. Not realising what they are saying.

  125. Algeria!!!!

  126. yeahhhhhhhh

  127. Most of the people calling for a defensive midfielder don’t want a midfielder at all. They want to play with three centre backs. In other words, they don’t care much for the attacking play that is the signature of Arsenal. They prefer an ultra-defensive team. It’s hardly surprising they don’t like Arsenal’s football. If they did, they would like Arsenal.

  128. lucky goal though- mali have been playing much better

  129. nasirjonesnasri

    The DM argument is just a front for people to vent their senseless hatred of all things Song, Denilson, and Diaby.

    Check out this gem from Geoff today that’s just bursting with confidence and support: “if we go at them with the same team that played Everton, they’ll know what to expect, and we won’t win.”

    Yep you heard it right folks, that same team we put out against Everton simply won’t be able to beat the mighty rip roaring Wanderers.

  130. California Gooner

    Mr Blobby, that’s incredibly idiotic.

  131. Bolton(a)

  132. Samir Nasri suggested that he would be keen to play a more defensive role in midfield and believed that he had the ability to learn new skills. In the Everton game it was noticeable that he was getting back far more than any other midfield player.He is great going forward but he also likes to nick the ball off opposition midfield players and then lay it off. He does not have to ‘sit’ in front of the centre-backs to help them defend.

  133. I agree. Denilson is a great player, a CM but hardly a DM. We have Diaby, Cesc, Song, Denilson all competing for a midfield slot in the first XI and the most likely to be dropped is Denilson.

  134. Reading through the above comments, listening to Arsenal ‘fans’ who wish their teamed played ‘football’ like Chav$ki, I think PZ is correct.

    But the Makélélé Myth pervades even the Mediasphere to a degree that it transcends AFC D**Mers, even ‘pundits’ like the esteemed Alan Hansen talk endlessly about the Makélélé role.
    As if players like Desailly etc. never existed or played in, ahem, CM (how would one define Desailly’s libero masterclass in the CL final against Barca in ’94? DM?), with their own styles and variations…

  135. nasirjonesnasri

    i agree

    I couldn’t live with myself if i was against any of our players- i just support the Arsenal no matter what.

    Also, It’s incredible how bendtner has come back from some dissapointing games last september-november 2008. People miss him now when they would have not minded if he was injured or not last season.

  136. – even.

  137. Supporters and fans always forget that Bendtner is only 21 and can’t play like Drogba or Torres who were no better at 21. Cut the slight on Bendtner please.

  138. Fack off H*ward.

  139. I agree with Finsburyparker @ 5:09 pm.

  140. “We have Diaby, Cesc, Song, Denilson all competing for a midfield slot in the first XI”

    You what now?

    We actually have Diaby, Cesc, Song, Denilson, Rosicky, Ramsey and Nasri – competing for three central midfield spots. And it’s a good thing too because of our injury/acon absentees.

    1st choice Song/Denilson/Fabs for me. Where Song lends himself to a conventional, defence-protecting holding role.

    But when he’s not there, there are other ways to play it. If three of the aforementioned players all pitch-in and we defend as a team, intercepting and stealing possession back with guileful little nicks – we’ll be golden.

    One thing that is often underestimated is Fabregas’ much-improved defensive skills. Even playing further forward, his workrate and application wins us a lot of possession, and the same applies to the rest of the midfield. We defend and attack as a unit.

  141. nasirjonesnasri

    Truly a dunce,

    Stop trying to make people who are positive in their support the club and our players miserable.

  142. nasirjonesnasri

    support *for* the club

  143. Greedybayor can feck off

  144. this blog is awesome.. the discussion of the business side of football was top notch, and ive come to expect nothing bunch from you all.

    again YW, fantastic article.. you have a way with words that makes me regret when I’ve reached the end of each of your posts..

  145. I don’t know why there’s some moaning in some quarters about Sol’s alleged 50k per week. Essentially, we’ve signed an experienced center-back for 800k until the end of the season.

    Sounds like a very cheap solution to me.

  146. lagooner, firstly despite all the media speculation, we don’t actually know what Sol’s deal is and secondly, I bet the ones moaning are the same ones who accuse Arsene of being mean because he does not want to give millions of Arsenal’s hard earned money to other teams for their cast offs!

  147. lagooner is correct…as well – that contract is pay-for-play so it’s not really even that much…

  148. Sorry I’m slow with the responses…

    @els –

    Torres’ operation…

  149. allez algerieeeeeeeeeeee

  150. Passenaal, and the same ones who doom about Arshavin constantly, our best player

  151. Although everyone is entitled to an opinion you will always get the moaners and the people who think they know better than the manager. But when you look at the squad arsene has assembled along with the stadium and training facilities and mentality he has ingrained throughout the club we look to be in a far better long term position than any other premier league club. I may be stating the obvious here but the future is bright.

  152. @ Ole

    OK, got you.

    @ Frank

    Furthermore, Nasri is very hard to dispossess.

  153. @ Matty Boy

    Can’t be said often enough.

  154. Matty Bwoy you are so right partner, and you know this dog.

    Why does Arshavin get picked on? He is our most creative player I just dont understand it

  155. Nasri still has alot to prove methinks, a helluva lot

  156. I don’t think Arshavin is our most creative player, but he’s in the top two or three.

  157. In 21 games this season, Fabregas has scored 12 and got 15 assists. No one else can match that.

  158. play fabregas as a striker and then give his stats poliziano yeah well he sort of played as a 2nd striker in some games last season right

  159. Last season Arshavin single handedly grabbed us fourth spot parner, no one else can match that can they dog

  160. LimparAssist

    You may disagree. Nasri and Rosicky don’t play in the midfield of three. They play in the upfront of three with Ashavin, Eduardo, Bendtner,Rvp, Theo and Vela. While Cesc, Diaby, Song, Denilson and of course Ramsey are in the midfield of three.

  161. Arshavin made no difference to our position in the league last season, although he did earn us some extra points.

  162. What division is Arseholes Football Club in, Truly AFC?

  163. Arshavin was the one who saved our season for us. We would’ve finished outside the top four. True.

  164. poliziano dont you think arshavin is wasted( no adjectives required) as a striker.

  165. Jan 31st, Utd at home. Tough, but eminently winnable. The momentum of which we take into…
    Feb 7th, Chelsea away, and utterly trounce them with a firey little explosion of silk-woven team goals…which takes us into…
    Feb 10th, and a Liverpool that will be visibly bricking themselves, sobbing and waving little white flags by half time.

    Have I had a rush of blood to the head or does that all sound pretty much doable for this squad right now?

  166. limpar you can always add amen at last

  167. Arshavin is why were in the champs league dog, never forget that partner

  168. William: okay, please take your head out of Arshavin’s arse. Yes Arshavin’s direct contribution was fantastic last season (i.e. goals and assists but little from outside play) you have to remember Cesc was out for 4 months and during that period the side were unbeaten but couldn’t score goals.

    Arshavin helped massively but it also shows Cesc’s importance. In fact, in attacking terms he’s probably more important and then it’s out RVP and Arsh.

    But stop; it;s a team thing it’s your starting to get annoying. Like Myles Palmer.

  169. The Brain, why do you and others always make this a competition between Arshavin and other players dog? Arshavin is an Arsenal player is he not? Why do you put him down and make out he doesnt deserve the credit he’s so obviously owed. Show some respect partner, you can like cesc and arshavin you know, its not a competition dog

  170. Passenal: That’s why I said ‘alleged”. My point was that even if he gets 50k a week and is not on a pay for play deal, 800k for the rest of the season for an experienced back-up is astute business.

    It’s essentially like signing him for 500k and then paying him around 18k a week. That would be the worst-case scenario as far as costs go.


    grover1: moan moan moan moan

    grover2: moan moan moan

    grover3: we won 3-0 !!!!! YES !!!!!!

    grover4: moan

    grover2: moan moan moan

    grover1: moan moan

    grover7: moan moan moan moan moan

  172. William; speak for yourself man!

    Arshavin’s been given enough credit, even this season when he himself will say he hasn’t yet performed to what he’s capable of.

    You’re making it seem like a licking competition and just trying to make you see more objectively instead of through Arshavin-tinted, Elton John style glasses!

    It’s a team thing.
    Let’s stop this now. Please don’t reply back also because it’ll get childish.

  173. No-one can say where Arsenal would have finished without Arshavin.

    Here’s the basic stats:

    Arsenal were on course for 67 points based on results before Arshavin at 1.76 points a game. Everton came 5th with 63 points.

    Arsenal averaged 2.15 points a game after Arshavin’s arrival, which would have projected them at 81 points, which would have kept them at 4th.

    It can be argued that Arsenal were already picking up form before Arshavin came. They were unbeaten for 10 games before he arrived, which would have improved confidence before the additional boost that he provided.

    The main reason that Arsenal came 4th was because we had a bigger and better squad than Everton and Aston Villa. Arshavin helped improve the squad but it’s hard to argue on the facts that he saved the season.

  174. competition dog

  175. get down shep

  176. who let the dogs out?

  177. 800k til the end of the season………that’d be niiiiiiiiiiiiiice.

  178. well, it would be a financial loss for John Utaka…

  179. Pompey are well-shafted.

    Utaka’s a big lad, praps we ought to buy him.

  180. That was not me at 6.30pm. Though I am flattered that anyone would want to pretend to be me.

    My main concern at the moment is for the Angola goalkeeper Carlos. His head is so heavy that every time he catches the ball his head slowly touches the ground.

  181. He usually has a helium balloon attached to his head, but FIFA wouldn’t allow it in an international tournament.

  182. @ Muppet on January 14, 2010
    at 8:26 pm

    ha ha ha ha ha

  183. They wear some outrageous clothes in the Almunia family.

    Mr. Almunia is walking one dog, while Mrs. Almunia is apparently wearing another two on her feet.

  184. Blackburn 0-1 A.Villa

  185. The dog’s the smallest of the three.

  186. Blackburn hit the post, have come very close to equalising aswell

  187. Well, Matty Boy, it doesn’t look like Mrs. Almunia has shed any tears over the pair of Basset Hounds she had made into her boots.

  188. i saw a dog once. It barked at me. It scared me. Darned dog, i thought, but i forgave it soon afterwards. True story.

    still BBurn 0-1 AVilla

  189. California Gooner

    What is it with English sports journo’s that they always refer to players and coaches former teams? Today I read: “Former Portsmouth manager Harry Redknapp” was charged with tax evasion. Two months ago it was “Former gunner Thierry Henry” or Adebayor, and when he was playing for us he was “the former Monaco man”. So and so forth. I get that they get tired of repeating the name or the team, but that convention is so tired and silly!

  190. It must be a technique taught at The School of British Journalistic Eloquence. They don’t always reference a player’s former club, but they like to insert some sort of descriptive phrase before a player’s name when he is introduced in an article. Henry Winter, for example, always writes “England bean-pole Peter Crouch.”

    – not before every player, of course. That’s just how he introduces Peter Crouch.

  191. Well Cali Gooner, it’s all to do with column inches and selling advertising space. Most of these stories could actually fit on to 1 line. But as you know they get padded out a little bit with some useless, out of date and patronising information that confirms the journalist as an arsehole and his audience as a bunch of gullible cretins.

  192. Zap @ 9.44pm – that story reminds me of how i met my girlfriend……

    California Gooner – i agree with you but the tax evasion in question took place whilst dodgy arry was at Portsmouth and relates to payments made by former Portsmouth chairman Milan Mandric. got me doing it now! 🙂

  193. It has to be said that this really is the best Arsenal squad I have ever seen. By the end of January early February we will be nosing ahead and then we will win the EPL by a country mile. Wouldn’t be surprised if RvP scores the winning goal in the European thingy final too. Of course it will also be interesting to see how quickly David Villa settles in.

  194. The Almunia’s have already bought a pair of Basset Hound boots to give to Villa as a present when he arrives at Arsenal.

  195. Soccer AM Team Mates with Alex Song.

    biggest moaner no surprise really, but most intelligent……

  196. Villa will prob buy Arshavin a present

  197. notlager, I’ve heard that before about Silvestre. And I agree, it’s no surprise at all about the biggest moaner!

  198. AA23, the biggest moaner! Bwhahahaahahahaha!

  199. but the biggest talent partner

  200. Arshavin himself admits that he is lazy and doesn’t like to train.

  201. he doesnt have to train

  202. What a special manager…Arsene Wenger.

  203. That was really entertaining, notlager. Thanks for posting it.

  204. Very nice notlager. I would love to know what music it is that Nicky Bendtner listens to. I would imagine it to be some kind of Danish heavy metal 🙂 As well as Traore has done under the circumstances, I can’t wait to see Clichy back in action.

  205. There’s an interview on ATVO in which Bendtner discusses his favourite music:

    I haven’t listened to it myself. I’d rather not know, to be honest.

  206. Here’s more to cheer us up.

    How often will Chelsea appear before a court this season?

  207. Whilst it is quiet, I would like to have a word. I want information about the fucker who is falsely using my fucking name on this fucking blog. Now, you bastard, if you come quietly then I will deal only with you. A duel at sunrise possibly if you are feeling dramatic. If not then we are talking family and friends. Last word. Thank you for your time. Now on with your teeny-bop stuff.

  208. Sturridge is on 60 K a week? blimey he only kicked the ball twice for them, Honestly Chelsea are mugs they are absolutely destroying what is good about football. Joe Cole who has been injured and hardly kicked a ball for them, he wants 130 k a week. I don’t blame him he knows chelsea are mugs.

  209. If Chelsea have destroyed what is good about football then we are going to re-build it. Albeit on our own it seems. How sickening that the money goes from one rich mans plaything to another. The only good thing to come out of it is that Coventry get 10%.

  210. Yogi;

    Please join will be easy to follow aclf

  211. He’s already on there adc; add Yogis_Warrior.

  212. Yeah Bendy listens to heavy metal and rock. He said his favourite pre game music is Guns and Roses haha explains that ‘pants around the ankles’ debacle eh?

    I agree this is the best squad we’ve ever had and but i’m with Frank all the way, its just missing a certain David Villaaaaa (Homer simpson drooling voice)

    Can’t wait for the Bolton game. C’monnnnnn

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