Quiet Calm Instead Of Transfer Nerves

An apparently decisive week where Cesc will meet with Arsene over his future, ask for a move and facilitate the lowering of any transfer fee to €40m (plus €5m in add-ons), or else. Barcelona’s mouthpieces in the media are trying to threaten Arsenal into submission as Rosell’s deadline of their Asian tour – why couldn’t they have left this morning to give us all some peace and quiet?

Apparently, the Spanish media believe Arsenal needs the money for liquidity purposes as the Catalan board tries to paper over the cracks of its own financial incompetence by telling their gullible followers that all of the big clubs are in the same boat. The answer is: No, we’re not.

The final match of the Austrian Training Camp is tomorrow and the central defensive issue will not go away. The chorus of concern about Koscielny has grown with observations about his physique, the lack of experience, aired to the detriment of the player. We have not seen him in action meaningfully on a regular basis and he represents a step into the unknown, a leap of faith that not so long ago everyone would willingly have taken but now seem reluctant to do so en masse.

Koscielny is positive about himself but then so was Senderos and we saw how quickly – and sadly – that confidence seeped away, principally at the hands of Didier Drogba but on other occasions too, bearing the brunt of anger over defeats that were not necessarily down to his individual failings.

The Franco-Pole told Arsenal.com that he liked “physical challenges and I’m a player that can anticipate situations. I feel that I read the game well and one of my strengths is challenging for the ball in the air.”  There is a misconception that English football is the only league where the ball leaves the ground. Yet that is not the case.

Arguably, it is the most physically demanding national league where the diversity of playing styles has been found wanting at a higher level but requiring a certain robustness of players. His lack of experience suggests that he is a squad player yet perhaps this is to easily dismissive. Wenger has a history of finding gems – as well as duds such as Stepanovs – and the apparent lack of physicality could be compensated for with an outstanding ability to read the game. Until he is seen in action in a competitive match, assertive judgements should be withheld.

Johan Djourou is seen as the principle beneficiary of the absence of new signings. I would suggest that he is Gallas’ heir apparent. The question mark over the Swiss international is his absence for a year through injury. Yet that injury was not as a result of a malevolent challenge such as Taylor’s on Eduardo nor has there been any indication thus far of any recurrences like those suffered by Rosicky. Yet these are the two benchmarks by which Djourou is judged.

None of that should mask the fact that numbers are light in the centre of defence. Quite a few names circulate and I find it inconceivable that Wenger has not had all of them scouted; whether he wants to sign them only he knows. There is an obvious gap to be filled following Gallas’ departure, Wenger has no doubt identified whether or not there is an internal candidate or fresh blood is needed.

The manager has added to the uncertainty, albeit in an unintentional way. Having publicly stated that there is no clear Number One at the club, trying to motivate those already at the club but feeding the fears of supporters about other positions as well. Will he move to seal any transfer dealings this week? Certainly it is his best opportunity to do so with internationals reporting for duty in the immediate aftermath of the friendly in Poland.

Playing their cards close to their chest works for Arsenal for the most part. Sometimes it is detrimental in the short term as speculation plays into the hands of those with differing agendas. The coming fortnight will be a solid indicator of whether any fresh faces are to arrive.

’til Tomorrow.

Posted on July 26, 2010, in Arsenal, Football, Premier League, Premiership, Soccer, Transfer Gossip and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 199 Comments.

  1. I really thought that Iniesta had said all for now.

  2. Was I supposed to say 1st>

  3. Isn’t it strange how two of the most ‘robust’ looking centre backs bought by Wenger (Stepanovs and Cygan) both turned out to be disappointments and the one which caused the most concern physically (Vermaelen) has turned into a hero.
    What people tend to forget is that our so-called defensive weakness in the air shows itself most at set pieces when other players from midfield and attack, notably Diaby and Bendtner are brought back to bolster the defense. The addition of Chamakh should help things further.
    In open play, which is 99% of the game, it’s about speed of thought and action and that’s where the likes of Gallas has proved his worth time and time again.
    The further addition of a ‘tough, no nonsense’ CB to repel the likes of Stoke and Blackburn would, of course, be welcome. But in Europe such players can be a liability.

  4. Flint McCullough

    As you say no one can really come to any conclusions about LK until he has played several “meaningful games”. We have punted £10m on him, which is the difference in the low cost gamble with Steps, who turned out to not be AFC material but had a reasonable career elsewhere.

    If Campbell is playing for us next season then we are probably complete at CB, with maybe an all purpose defender being sought. Perhaps a Grimondi to play anywhere at the back or DM. A quality squad player. The problem is not too many top players want to sit on the bench for too long.

    Goalkeeper is still a problem. We all know Almunia is Lukic & not Seaman but where are the Seamans? We could be making all this fuss to find out that we were better with what we have now. It will be interesting to see how this one pans out. I have a feeling that Fabianski could leave a lot of egg on a lot of faces by the end of this season. Many top ‘keepers of the past have suffered similar starts including Pat Jennings (at Spurs) & Bob Wilson.

  5. The word from people out in Austria is that Koscielny has been impressive in training. He has been marking Chamakh who is excellent in the air – didn’t he score the most headed goals last season? He really should be given a chance to prove himself. But it’s typical of the ‘Football Manager’ generation that despite not having seen him play, they’ve already decided that they know he will not be good. You would think they could put their gift of prescience to better use.

  6. Yogi's Warrior

    Flint, you can’t judge him until he has played competitively. Friendlies are a hopeless guide to form. We have to give him a chance before he is written off. YW

  7. Flint McCullough

    Does anyone have any statistics about conceding from set plays? Are we actually worse or indeed better than most. Chelsea conceded quite a few.

    Our defensive problems are to my mind not so much to do with personnel but rather to do with playing so high that any punt up-field or down the flanks can put us in one on one situations. It is one of the the costs of our high possession fbs forward style of play. It is noticeable in the youth team as well. Dominate play, 1 careless pass, hoof – concede.

    That is where the work is needed & why a traditional big bollocks CB is not likely to work for us.

  8. It does seem curious that, with so many experienced centre-backs leaving the club, Wenger should buy a totally inexperienced player like Koscielny. Surely one of the biggest lessons to come from last year (and previous years) is that we concede too many goals and lacked the composure to hold onto a lead. Koscielny looks ill equipped to deal with the bombardment that is sure to come his way. Pulis, Allardyce and McLeish must be rubbing their hands together after watching him in pre-season. I could understand Wenger taking a punt if the defence was sorted, but it isn’t and for £8 million? Is this another example of Arsene’s seemingly masochistic desire to buy players that no-one has heard of and turn them into stars or will it turn out to be a masterstroke? There is evidence for both outcomes in his transfers over the years. I don’t like the look of our central defensive options or our CM power. Denilsen is much too weak and Diaby too flakey for me. The goalkeeping problem is one that will give Arsenal supporters sleepless nights unless it is properly addressed soon. To try and grab a bargain here is misguided and will end in disaster. This is it! The season coming up will, I think, decide Arsenal’s future for the next few years. To fly in the face of what is so clear to everyone with a customary arrogance, will see Wenger gone if the team doesn’t win anything. It’s going to be a bumpy ride unless he buys the right players. I think we need another 3, at least, to be competitive.

  9. we’re all talking up/down koscielny yet he hasn’t kicked a football at the ems!
    All we know is:

    1.he has had a meteoric rise in football (leaguewise)..that has to be a positive about his game.
    2.he is lacking in build but supposedly makes up for it in his ability to read the game..its easier to bulk up than learn the game

    good luck Kos!

  10. we’re all talking up/down koscielny yet he hasn’t kicked a football at the ems!
    All we know is:

    1. he has had a meteoric rise in football (leaguewise)..that has to be a positive about his game.
    2. he is lacking in build but supposedly makes up for it in his ability to read the game..its easier to bulk up than learn the game

    good luck Kos!

  11. Yogi

    When I read this article on elshittydeportivo, at first I thought my spanish is not as good as it used to be, then after reading it again I realised they are just full of shit! They think because they had to borrow 155 million Euros to pay wages, all club are in the same situation! Poor barca fans who are lied to and made believe they are the best run club in world football! We should send the mundo deportivo a link to Arsenal’s financial statement so they can cry upon reading our cashflow!


    I can’t wait for the season to start so football takes the headlines and all this rumour mill stirring all this shit comes to an end… at least until January.

  12. Carmelo Pace malta.

    Honestly chaps,reading some of your letters( as i said, some )realy irritates me,give the bloke a chance,most of you hjavent even saw him play,and already have doubts about his ability,and there are players in the squad ( sagna,walcott) who are not worth their wages,yet still some of you never mentioned their weaknesses,and why? this panic about wanting a new keeper,alright almunia i agree he is not the keeper we want,but fabiansky is and will be TOP CLASS KEEPER,YOU HAVE TO BEAR IN MIND,that BEING A BENCH WARMER,ESPECIALY FOR A KEEPER IS VERY DETRIMENTAL to the player,so stop your moaning and look at the brighter side,yes we have a good squad to make us happy come next season.p s dont fortget scescney and mannone,if you understand what i mean.

  13. Good morning Arsenal fans. Good morning Adam.

  14. Adam- Thats the same story every season but yet we magically seem to compete in one way or another. Stop your panic and show your support. The only player that we’ve been linked to that would be a great addition to our team is Akinfeev. Other than that I can do without Jagielka, Schwartzer, and whoever else the silly season has linked us to. I have a good feeling about Koscielny but we must be patient with him. Nordveit also looks like the real deal so the future of our defence looks very bright indeed.

    For some reason I was also just recalling when Gallas flipped out on Djourou in the 08/09 season. Showed that Djorou had character when he didnt take that shit and vented back.

  15. adam

    are you in Wenger’s staff? Are you a mindreader? I don’t think so, so shut the fuck up! You were probably saying to same thing last year about Vermalen.

    Why do so many so called gunner fans feel the need to trash some of our players? Just enjoy the beautiful football on display even if it’s someone you haven’t heard of or just go and support Man shitty if you want a squad full of mercenaries who will jump ship as soon as there is a bigger pay cheque offered to them!

  16. Carmelo. No reason whatsoever to get irritated. These are only opinions yes, but they have been informed by experience. If you believe Fabianski will be a top class keeper, that’s fine. I merely ask for the evidence. Goalkeeping errors cost us about 12-15 points last year at my reckoning. They can never be completely eliminated but if you believe that Arsenal can sustain a serious title challenge with Fabianski in goal then I merely beg to differ. Good morning Steww

  17. adam

    Shut up.

    Is this another example of Arsene’s seemingly masochistic desire to buy players that no-one has heard of and turn them into stars or will it turn out to be a masterstroke?

    What a joke of a comment. There is no manager around that can guarantee that every transfer made turns out to be a star signing. If you seriously think Wenger purposefully looks to transform players think again. You do know Vermaelen is Belguim Captain and was Ajax Captain. Hardly unproven?

    Kosc was young player (or young defender) of the year in France. We all know he could well be only a squad player. But so too were Flamini, Diaby, Cesc, Clichy, Almunia, Bendtner, Van Persie and the rest at one stage.

    The only disaster around our club is the fans like yourself who open their trap without anything meaningful to say. You are pathetic mate.

  18. gunnerluc. I am not on Wenger’s staff and I wasn’t saying the same thing about Thomas Vermaelen last year and I resent you telling me to shut the fuck up. I am not trashing players at all. If you took the time to read what I wrote I said we needed more experience at CB. I do enjoy the beautiful football but I would like the club to win something. If you have nothing constructive to add why don’t you keep your filthy mouth closed.

  19. The trouble for Koscielny is that once people have drawn their conclusions about him, they’ll only see the evidence which supports their opinion. Anything else will get disregarded.

  20. Chris Goona. Thank you for your customary insults. If there is anyone pathetic around here it is yourself and your inability to actually read anything without thought.

  21. all interesting stuff! good posts. (adam apart)

    my hope is that aw signs an experienced dm thus freeing-up song to be our utility player, covering cb and dm.

    but i won’t hold my breath.

  22. Fine article YW. You always seem to sum up every piece of Arsenal news in a very balanced way.

    What is your personal predictions for the coming season. This is assuming that we don’t have as many major injuries to our key players.

  23. adam

    To be perfectly honest, I sort of drifted off after reading that joke sentece. What are you trying to achieve by spreading pessimissm.

    Don’t you take any enjoyment out of supporting Arsenal? I am extremely excited like many for the season to get going. This is why I can’t understand why supporters like you prefer to believe all the bull shit you see in the papers.

  24. Mike E

    What about Denilson, Ramsey, Diaby, Eastmond, possibly Frimpong too.. who can all slot into that position when Song is out.

    Don’t you think another CB who knows the position better would be best?

  25. Adam

    Forgot to mention.. Customary insults are rightly directed at customary ‘ill-informed’ supporters.

  26. Anywhere else and I would detest name calling and insults but if you come onto an Arsenal supporting blog and insult our manager and players you get what you deserve Adam.
    I don’t know who you support but I’m sure they must have blogs of their own.

  27. Adam, tell me how you can do the following assessment of Koscielny after 90 min against Barnet and Graz?

    “Koscielny looks ill equipped to deal with the bombardment that is sure to come his way. Pulis, Allardyce and McLeish must be rubbing their hands together after watching him in pre-season. I could understand Wenger taking a punt if the defence was sorted, but it isn’t and for £8 million? ”

    You tell me you are not thrashing our players but in your post you said:

    “Denilsen is much too weak and Diaby too flakey for me. The goalkeeping problem is one that will give Arsenal supporters sleepless nights unless it is properly addressed soon. To try and grab a bargain here is misguided and will end in disaster. This is it! The season coming up will, I think, decide Arsenal’s future for the next few years. To fly in the face of what is so clear to everyone with a customary arrogance, will see Wenger gone if the team doesn’t win anything.”

    I’m sorry if I misunderstood you but in substance what I understand from your comment is:

    We need to buy a 7 foot nehanderthal defender because otherwise we are doomed. Denilson and Diaby are shit and are not up to the task and if we don’t splash the cash soon on overhyped player we will win nothing and we should sack Wenger, the most successful manager in Arsenal’s history.

    I’m sorry if I offended you but it just pisses me off when I see those type of comments. Wenger said he knows our problem last season was the defence, he surely realised there is a problem with the goalkeepers moral. So let wenger do the work he is payed for. Wenger knows better if Koscielny is up to the task, if he believes he is worth it, the minimum is to let Kosc show his worth. Anyway I believe if no CB comes in that it will be Djourou who will be lined up as Vermalen’s partner to let Kosc time to adapt to the physicality of the game.

    We all know another CB and maybe a goalkeeper could be useful addition but I trust Wenger knows it and is working on it! It does not help to write your team off before the season even started! We all know Wenger likes to do his transfers quietly so why not wait and see!


  28. steww

    Its what I find most hilarious about these kind of supporters (if they are!?).

    They are very quick to slag their own team off believing they have a right to insult them, but they get offended when you direct criticism back at them.

  29. Nice column, and especially appreciate the point about the negative atmosphere that may await Koscielny.

    Seems extraordinary how some people can watch Kos on a television for 2 halfs in early season friendlies against low level competition, and already they can see a world of things AW cannot. Probably Arsene is too close to the situation, what with the glacially careful scouting, and then watching the lad train every day and all.

    Actually, sort of like last year when he made that reckless decision to take an over-the-hill Sol back. Of course, he had closely watched his familiar old soldier train every day for 2-3 months, but what insight does stuff like that give him?

  30. It’s the silly season Chris. Nothing to do but trawl the net spreading their anti Arsenal poison.
    This time of year I can feel the optimism and excitement building and nothing these defeatist morons can say will ever dilute that.

  31. Adam- Sorry man not trying to gang up on you or anything but you said: “If you took the time to read what I wrote I said we needed more experience at CB.” Where before you also said: “It’s going to be a bumpy ride unless he buys the right players. I think we need another 3, at least, to be competitive.”

    If your going to bash our team at least do it in consistent and rational manner rather than have schizophrenic panic attacks about our ability to compete. Every team can be improved and no one way of doing things is 100% correct. But the way I see it is that Wenger is playing a very intricate balancing act that can all be undone by panic buying and rash decisions. Offcourse we can do with some cover if the right player is there but right now it seems that were better of using what we have rather than trying to hunt down someone that ‘fits the bill’ of some delusional Arsenal fans.

  32. 2 team predictions for the Emirates Cup:

    Team 1:

    – – – – – Fabianski / new GK? – – – – –
    Eboue – New CB – Vermaelen – Gibbs
    – – Rosicky – Denilson – Wilshire – – –
    Walcott – – – Chamakh – – – – Arshavin

    Team 2:

    – – – – – – Schwezny / Almunia – – – – – –
    Nordveit – Kosc – Djourou – Clichy/Traore
    – Lansbury – Diaby/Eastmond – Frimpong –
    Nasri – – – Bendtner/Thomas – – – – Vela

    Including Bendtner and Denilson is going by Wenger’s comments saying they are only a week behind. I think Sagna should feature too, maybe half or 60mins of a game. Much will depend on who returns for tomorrows games.

    I just enjoyed predicting, even though it is very premature!!

  33. Chris

    You’ll have to wait until after the game in Poland to find out my thoughts on the coming season…


  34. YW you sound unconvinced on the defensive side of things, as they stand. You’re making me a bit nervous. But I feel we are very close defensively with the recent purchases and developments.

    1. I maintain that the first thing AW and medical staff would assure themselves is the state of Djourou. I find it inconceivable that chances would be taken. Therefore, I conclude Djourou is physically in shape. The rest is about his fitness.

    2. I maintain that Wenger would never, and has never taken big chances on players for 10m. AW is extremely cautious in this respect; he’s not really a ‘risk-taker’. The few defensive duds, years ago, were not expensive, and stop-gaps anyway. I would hazard a guess that Wenger has been watching Kossy for 18 months, closely last season, receiving reports throughout. Wenger is straight on players. When he has few doubts he usually reports accordingly. Noticeably he reported on Kos; saying this is a good player.

    There is zero evidence that size matters as much as tenacity, positioning, agility and ‘toughness’.

    3. Campbell’s return to the fold (confirmed?) is I think more critical than people imagine. He will not start the majority of even many matches, but his solidity in attitude is what marks him out. His contribution in training is going to be decisive.

    4. I don’t see the big difference between Nordveit, if reports are true, and they are true, and any other emerging highly ‘rated’ defender. It sounds right to me. A year in Bundesliga to judge his attributes, we asume he ‘passed’, and then promotion to first team back-up.

    5. Song.

    6. I still think we are getting another defender.

    7. Wenger an analyst. He will have had his staff finding out precisely the causes of ‘preventable goals’. We are amateurs when it comes to this, we base our opinion on perception and memory. We say we are poor at ‘high balls’ and ‘set-pieces’ – whatever. But only careful study reveals the truth of 3500 minutes playing time in 38 EPL matches and 41 goals conceded. My gut is that he is mainly concerned about preventable goals emanting from midfield and defensive positioning lapses, and especially at critical times in matches (match ‘turning’ goals) when we are attacking.

    If Koss reads the game very well, as well as Campbell let’s say, I suspect this is exactly the answer Arsenal is seeking.

  35. Good morning, steww! Your counter-attacks are getting far too subtle! Made me laugh, like yesterday’s lacing-up-at-the-back one, and also the “did anyone get past reading….?”

  36. steww

    I agree, and thats how it should be. We should always be positive when going into a new season. I generally think that the majority of supporters can sense something special may happen.

    We all seem to be analysing the defence a bit too much, ignoring the fact that we have quite a talented team with a lot of experience now. We have youngsters who have grown up playing Champions League football and are Internationals.

    Cesc, Van Persie, Bentnder, Djoruou, Gibbs, Theo, Nasri, Vela etc …

    Maybe only 2 or 3 will really shine this season of the lot who still havn’t made their mark. This I include the likes of Nasri, Theo, Vela, Bedtner, Diaby.. these kind of players who we rate, but they ain’t quite got the reputation of a world beater just yet. Even saying this now I know Theo, Bentdner, Nasri and co have won games on their own. The next step is for them to take these clips of brilliance and turn it into consistency.

    The momentum we are building in pre-season will aid the consistency for the start of the season, this is why we always come out all guns blazing. It is my favourite time of the season, I can see us really destroying all teams that come in front of us. Starting next weekend at the Emirates Cup, then Liverpool away.

    I am very confident in our team we have, but obviously I hope Wenger strengethens or sorts the areas that need attending too. GK and CB. If Sol signs could be our last addition as Nordtveit looks pretty handy.

    I have my fingers crossed he finds possibly another defensive type signing who can really add something to our team/squad even.

  37. YW

    Fair enough, my personal opinion is that with the quality we have going forward. Good cover to the wing back positions, excellent cover in midfield, all we really need is one decent CB to add to our squad to make us complete.

    Obviously a World Class GK would be a huge signing, but it looks unlikely, and it would be a bonus.

    I think with the added experience to our squad players, the return of Rosicky & Djourou, addition of the Chamakh, and a hungry Nasri/Theo/Arshavin who have a lot to prove. I believe it will be our year.

    Our quality has gone too long with no rewards. Mentally and physically they are ready, they are hungry for success, and they have the experience of the title races now to be able to cope when we get past March.

    People are looking at City, who to be fair done well last season have added a lot of quality. I believe they will go one step further, but their lack of team cohesion and experience in a Premiership title race for many of their players will hurt them at the end. We have all the ingredients to challenge, I say this assuming one more CB will be brought in!

  38. Thanks mingus. As long as someone appreciates me!

  39. Obviously Chelsea and Man Utd will prove tough competition. Man Utd for me will not be able keep up this season. I can’t see the aging legs of Scholes, Neville and Giggs having the same affect on the rest of the teams performance.

    The likes Raphael, Gibson, and Hernandes etc do not fill me with that much hope for their ambitions of lifting the title. You never know with United though, they grit to pinch games always keeps them there. I just feel it won’t be enough

  40. Just when to check the official stats for last season of L1 ww.lfp.fr which have a pdf of 76 pages with all the stats. It states there that Kosc has the highest rate of ball won in the league with an average of 19 ball won per match.

    I agree with you steww and ChrisGoona, I fell we will have a great season which willmakes the usual anti arsenal propaganda eat their words.

    We have some world beaters in Van Persie, Cesc, Arshavin. Some woung players with something to prove in Walcott, Nasri, Bendtner, Song, Denilson, Diaby, Vermalen, Djourou, Clichy, Sagna. Older players who can come back to their best level in Rosicky possibly Campbell, Almunia. And some young talent who want to shine on the big stage with Wilshere, Eastmond, Fripong, Gibbs.

    There is so many reason to be hopeful that I can’t wait for the match against liverpool to have another stormer against a Merseyside and shut up the likes off Lawrson et al and all their believers who trash Arsenal with the arguments they heard on the telly or in the Sun or Daily mail.

  41. I think too much emphasis is put on experience and not enough on quality. Sunderland have just signed a player that has played nearly every match of his 300+ career in the premiership a great experienced player, no Titus Bramble. Ledley King is stacked with experience, would you want him? no? then what about Matthew Upson? err again no thank you. If Campbell has re-signed we have 4 decent centre halves + another 2 with good potential. Can anyone name me Chelsea’s 4 + 2 or Man u, Man City, Spurs, Liverpool, Evertons, Villa. It just seems at Arsenal we want 100 players. We currently have the largest professional squad in the premier league 58 players, yet when we talk about letting a player go, everyone wants to keep him, when we sign a player everyone wants him to be a first choice internmational, well we already have about 20 of those, how many do you think we can keep happy? I agree we need and deserve a new no.1. A keeper that is first choice for his country. I also believe we need another DM, whilst Song is good, any injury to him and we are drafting in players that do not even get in their country’s U21 side in that position. If Campbell and Vermaelen are out we bring in Djourou (CH for switzerland or Nordveit CH for Norway U21 or Koscielney CH for France in their next match i am sure) Summary: This is the order of importance for new signings, assuming we have signed Campbell, if not the CH becomes no.1 importance

    Holding Midfielder
    Winger (to give us something different)
    Centre Half
    Right Back

  42. When you look at the two teams we can line up it doesn’t look that bad?

    Sagna Djourou TV Clichy
    Cesc Nasri
    Walcott RVP Arshavin

    Eboue Kosc Nordveit Gibbs
    Wilshere/Ramsey Diaby/Rosicky
    Bendtner/JET Chamack Vela/Traore

  43. Zimpaul

    It’s all a leap into the dark, a lot of unanswered questions. Will Almunia or Fabianski rediscover their form? Is LK good enough? Has JDs injury had a negative impact on his career? Because of the understated level of opposition so far and that it is away from the TV cameras or The Emirates, it is hard to get an indication of those answers. Some will be given over the coming weekend.

    Above all else, there is no guarantee that the same level of injuries as last season won’t be suffered. This is as crucial as anything else. Have we got enough cover at CB?


  44. Interesting post.
    Many points to ponder, but the one that strikes me and just about everyone else, from the comments above, is Arsenal’s supposed inactivity in the Transfer market. I was wandering around the Sky News site and found a list of All EPL transfers to date,
    If you check it out I think we are more active than 75% of the EPL teams already.
    Citeh apart, there are alot of Loans and Frees out there and very very few Marque signings. Maybe everyone else has decided to follow Aresenals lead?

    Keep up the good work. Oh and I have been told that size isnt everything, it’s what you do that counts. But my ex-girlfriend was laughing into the duvet at the time!

  45. No personally I don’t think we have enough cover at CB. Only a couple of injuries and we may end up having to choose one of Sol or Haavard (who i think is the deal but raw) agaisnt the barca scums at nou camp. I honestly am not very keen with this idea. I think it will do Haavard a world of good if for the next couple of seasons he is allowed to bed in playing all carling cup games and some FA cup games.

    That said if Wenger decides to go in with this set of personnel I will be more than happy to get behind them.

  46. I don’t necessarily want new signings, definitely not average Englihsmen at upward of 15M pounds. I will be much more confident if we can just convince Gallas to continue.

  47. I think Wenger is in the market possibly for both a defender and a goalkeeper but i think that they are some good defenders available, I doubt there is many good goalkeepers available on the market.

  48. Keysersoze

    Going by how long Gallas has taken to sign, it is obvious he would much rather be somewhere else, and probably on a longer and more attractive contract.

    Campbell seems to have stalled also, he seems to use his wedding as an excuse, but he would have signed ages ago if he wasn’t weighing up his options – in search for more playing time.

    I think Campbell will be with us personally. If Wenger will sign anyone else, I am not so sure.

  49. I have offered up myself as a defensive cover. I don’t need much, a new pair of boots and 10k a week would be so nice. I only need to disguise my cricket bat as a medical device of some sort. Oh, and I may need to do something about my glasses. These are minor details. I will continue my forays onto ACLF and report ‘from the inside’.

    Sorted IMO!

  50. Chris

    I don’t blame Gallas for wanting a longer contract and on the basis of the wages being quoted, it an occasion like those of Pires and Gilberto where the age issue is too dictatorial. Obviously the club need to operate within a budget but 25 games a season out of Gallas gives time for rotation and experience to be gained by younger players.

    You may not like his personality but last season until his injury was quite possibly the best of his Arsenal career.


  51. I’m so excited about the new season. As Gunnerluc says:

    When you look at the two teams we can line up it doesn’t look that bad?

    Sagna Djourou TV Clichy
    Cesc Nasri
    Walcott RVP Arshavin

    Eboue Kosc Nordveit Gibbs
    Wilshere/Ramsey Diaby/Rosicky
    Bendtner/JET Chamack Vela/Traore

    Only, I think you will see Diaby with a prominent role as a defensive mid with attacking attributes or whatever. Ditto Rosciky if he hits form.

  52. Perhaps Wenger is waiting for Gallas and Campbell final stuff before getting panicky.

  53. That is the fook-up thing about If.
    If I was manager of Arsenal I would ….
    If, most of the doomers were managers they would certainly bankrupt the club, with vitually a signing every week as is currently happening at Man City.
    Like Zim Paul, rather than Ifs, I am confident in the decisions of Wenger are based on solid analysis and the judgement of experience.
    And fook-off with the Ifs.

  54. YW, Gallas was offered a longer contract with Arsenal but with a pay cut. He wanted to still be paid at the same level throughout. The fact he has still not signed anywhere else just goes to show it’s not all a bed of roses out there.

  55. YW,

    I agree to an extent. But it’s quite telling that Gallas has since failed to reach agreement with 3 other clubs. We know he’s going for his last big payday. Absolutely valid to aim to do that, but it’s clear he’s making money his overarching consideration.

  56. My point of agreement is that it will be just easier to keep Gallas and let long-term planning take its course. Where I’m a bit unsure is whether he shouldn’t himself acknowledge that he’s 33 years old and keeping him is a risk to the club. There are injuries you will struggle to or fail to recover from at 33 that you wouldn’t have at 29. Also the club has had to recruit or has to recruit his long term replacement, which will cost money.

  57. YW

    I have no issues with Gallas, I actually like him as a player and I am sure he would continue to be a solid CB for us. Last season he was amazing, his best like you said.

    My point is he has stalled on this contract offer all season long, Wenger gave him a deadline for the end of May. If we signed a replacement we wouldn’t be even speaking of him right now. His problems in the squad may have also had a bearing on Wenger’s thinking to not improve the contract offer.

    He seems to have more faith in allowing Djourou the playing time, getting Kosc in as back up.. and possibly one more experienced cover. Maybe Sol, while Nordveit plays backup too.

  58. Passenal

    Apparently Panathinaikos offered 3 years with less money per week than Arsenal. I think he would like a big pay day but also some certainty that he is going to be in one place for more than a season.



    No movement on the ‘Wenger actually buying someone good front!’. Always pretty quick to get shot of real talent and quality though .. .. Edu, Pires, Gilberto, Flamini, Eduardo etc, etc., Didn’t exactly bust a gut to keep Vieira or Henry. But won’t ever sell Diaby, Denilson or Bendtner in a million years!

    He fails to see the bloody obvious, football is primarily entertainment and fans want at least some box office!

    See this also .. ..

    Arsenal have decided not to sign Udinese goalkeeper Samir Handanovic – agent
    Slovenian’s representative claims Gunners will not make a move…

    Arsenal have cut short their plans to make a move for Udinese goalkeeper Samir Handanovic, claims agent Federico Pastorello.

    Slovenia’s World Cup goalkeeper was linked with the Gunners, but their reluctance to invest has left his agent with a sceptical view, believing his client will remain with the Friulani.

    “Handanovic will not be moving. Arsenal have decided not to spend money to buy a goalkeeper,”


  60. 10K ZimPaul? I’m offering myself for 1K! I’m built, quite quick, and desperately want to face Drogba. I’m ok in the air, half decent passer of the ball, but my first touch can let me down. On the other hand, I make really wonderful tackles.

    Come sign me Arsene! I won’t be beeter than what we’ve got, but my phyisque will keep the doomers happy until they see me miss a volley!

  61. I know Arsenal FC is probably too strict with their contract policies for players in their 30’s but I kind of understand the reasons. We can’t just give a 80K/week 3 year contract to gallas and hope he don’t get a serious injury because it would mean that if the player want to fuck us he can stay in our payroll until the end of the contract, sitting on his arse. Don’t get me wrong, Gallas is high up in my list of top players of last season and I believe he can offer good service for another 2 years but he has to understand Arsenal can’t do a big gamble like that.

    It is not like Arsenal hasn’t an history of loyalty towards its players look at Berkamp for example, he accepted this rule and got at least 4 contract extensions until he decided he was too old for another 1 year stint. If Gallas really wanted to stay with us he would have accepted this rule. He could even get his wish and play another 3 years at top level.

  62. “No movement on the ‘Wenger actually buying someone good front!’. Always pretty quick to get shot of real talent and quality though .. .. Edu, Pires, Gilberto, Flamini, Eduardo etc, etc., Didn’t exactly bust a gut to keep Vieira or Henry. But won’t ever sell Diaby, Denilson or Bendtner in a million years!”

    Interesting name there, Eduardo. Now who else thinks that a week back DelBoy would have put Dudu in the second bucket along with Diaby, denilson and Bendtner?

  63. I think Delboy doesn’t think about the words he forms.

  64. I was really graceful of Bergkamp, but I can sort of understand where others are coming from. It is easy to blame someone like Gallas for holding out for 2 years contract. But if we put ourselves in the other pair of boots what would happen? Say the star young midfielder wants to commit his services for only one year at a time because of the inherent risk of being not allowed to move?

  65. DelBoyEssex,

    No movement on the ‘Wenger actually buying someone good front!’. Always pretty quick to get shot of real talent and quality though .. .. Edu, Pires, Gilberto, Flamini, Eduardo etc, etc., Didn’t exactly bust a gut to keep Vieira or Henry. But won’t ever sell Diaby, Denilson or Bendtner in a million years!

    Flamini left on a free. He had a very patch career for Arsenal until his last season. Wenger gets slammed if he signs a player who hasn’t fully blomossed to a long-term contract and slammed if he loses someone on a free. You can’t have it both ways.

    Eduardo for 6 million? Good deal for a minor Arsenal role player who needed a fresh start. Diaby and Bendtner showed improvement last season but need to show more consistency. We can’t tell how much Denilson’s back injury affected him last season as he certainly looked better the season before last.

    You are completely wrong on Vieira and Henry. If anything, he kept them both one season too long and saw their values decline as a result. Two of his rare mistakes in the market, but both made for understandable reasons.

    Edu left because he wanted more playing time and couldn’t break into our midfield.

    Gilberto looked off the pace in his last season with us, and performing week in, week out in the Premier League was getting harder and harder for him. Considering the way Song has shone since Gilberto’s departure, it made even more sense for him to be let go.

    Finally, Pires left due to him wanting a longer contract. His performances since leaving haven’t made a compelling case for Arsenal needing to have kept him.

    Amazing that you overlook all the superb signings Arsene has made and how astutely he’s managed offloading most players at the right time.

    In other words, from what you wrote and from what you left out, you have no idea what you’re talking about, DelBoy.

  66. patch-patchy

    It’s early hours in the U.S….

  67. Gunnerluc

    Panathinaikos observed that they offered him £25k per week for 3 years and he wanted £35k.


  68. DelBoy

    You need to work on your charm, and how to talk the talk. You are a disgrace to the name you go by!

  69. YW

    How much did we offer Gallas?

  70. Arsene was prepared to go against his usual policy so a 2 year contract at Arsenal on a reduced wage was a good offer for Gallas particularly with his history of at least one significant injury per season since he has been with us. He is probably looking for an opportunity to be first choice with commensurate wages whereas the Arsenal offer was probably predicated on the basis that he may no longer be automatic first choice. I suspect his ego would have found that difficult to accept.

  71. wenger’s obviously deciding between buying another centre back and buying a new goalkeeper.

    in the grand scheme of things, i think a new centre back would probably be more valuable than a new goalkeeper.

    almunia and fabianski are decent shot stoppers. they’re not always the best at commanding their areas, they can show poor judgement and can lose concentration too, but these things can be improved on with coaching and experience.

    i’m much more worried that we don’t have enough in central defence. there are just too many question marks and not enough certainties in our current crop. i think just one more big solid lug like mertesacker or hanagelaand would turn us into champions.

    with our current defenders, i don’t think even the best keepr in the world would win us the league.

    buy in defence arsene!

  72. YW

    That’s why I believe he won’t get a better all round offer than the one Arsenal has offered him.

    If I understand well he wants a two or three year contract. A last big paycheque. And be in an attractive league. He has to make sacrifice as he can’t have all three.

    Pana can’t offer him more money and the league is second rate at best. Juve has a good challenge to offer but won’t pay him what he wants. He won’t go to the UAE because the league is shit. Finally Celtic, I doubt could offer him the money he wants and well the challenge is not so great as it is basically play the old firm derby and otherwise not so attractive football.

    I’m pretty sure, we are offering him more money than all the deals that has been quoted, plus challenging for the EPL and the CL and if he do well he will probably can get another year on the same deal at least! After two years with us he can always do a canavaro and rob the UAE of their petrodollar.

  73. i never like gallas, he’s a quality defender who showed the youngsters they were not being aggressive enough, but he’s just not arsenal. let him go and do his thing somewhere else.

  74. On CB’s:

    I think I’m going to look forward to the prospect of seeing Nordveit play for AFC.

    Did you all see that pass, to Gibbs I think.
    Kjær who? A fun looking last ditch slide as well.

    List of recent big signings by AFC for lots of wonga:


    A season ago, $iteh paid C£25M for Lescott.

    In other news, Rednose admits he has ‘misplaced’ his Ruby slippers.
    FC Glazers’ Gimps were blown away by the 10-men of the Kansas City Wizards.

    Berbatov looked good value for £30M.

  75. and enough of this arshavin down the left bollocks please wenger

  76. gunner17

    where do you expect him to play?!

  77. he should be smack bang in the middle behind the striker and the wide players, he’s a number 10 all the way. he doesn’t like it on the left, he looks restricted there. if he played centrally in the gap between midfield and attack, he would have a wider range of passes open to him, and he could dictate the attack more. he’s probably the most talented player we have, why marginalise his influence and play him where he’s not as comfortable as he can be? i’d even play him over RvP, physically he’s much more relaible.

  78. Zimpaul @ 10:05:

    My concern with our defense comes from looking at our teams recent history. In the last 6 years our teams position in the table for goals conceded has been 1 (invincibles) 3, 3, 4, 5, and last year tie 6th. This is not slagging on our players, or being negative, it is statistical fact. This slow erosion of our defense has occured with many different players. The only constant has been our coaching staff.

    Arsene has said he will improve the defense this year and we all hope he will do what is needed, but he did say the same thing after 08/09 season and last year we were statistically worse then the year before.

    I agree completely that we have to give Kos the benifit of the doubt, however even with him we are very thin at the back. However, even with great players the team has to somehow learn to defend as a team. Your thought about the coaching staff making every attempt to analyze and stop preventable goals is logical. However, that same analysis could have been used for the last several years and it apparantly has not helped. Lets hope this year is different.

  79. Keysersoze,

    If I were Gallas I’d stay at Arsenal where I was being paid good money. I’d have taken a pay cut and a 2 year contract. I’d keep my family where they’ve been for 10 years and I wont end up degrading my own worth and sense of dignity by being touted around Europe like Yaya Toure-

    I understand why he’s going for a big payday. I just think he can end up with an omelette on his face-.

  80. gunner17,

    Arsenal play the 4-3-3. In that 4-3-3, the position behind the main striker is occupied by Cesc, and other players who actually make play, by doing things like passing, assisting etc

    Arshavin will play on the left, where he’s played at least half of his footballing career for clubs and country.

  81. gunner17

    We tried him ‘smack bang in the middle’ and he struggled. Talent alone won’t allow a player to make it through the middle. It requires a huge stamina too, have you ever seen Arshavin run up and down non-stop for 90mins?

    He is talented, his dribbling is excellent, his technique too. LM is where is playing in pre-season, my bet is he will continue there. I think you need to trust Wenger’s judgement on this one mate. Arshavin wasn’t exactly wasted there when he put 4 past Liverpool

  82. if i were gallas i’d fuck off and smoke cigarettes and have tantrums someplace else, because that unprofessional baby-pram bullshit doesn’t fly at arsenal.

  83. Oh come off it Bill. I seem to remember Chelsea winning the league last season despite conceding a record number of goals compared to recent champions, and despite not having conceded the fewest goals. Instead they won by smashing in over 100 goals.

  84. i don’t remeber arshavin ever being played in the middle behind the striker for a run of games…

    he did a shift up front when we had everyone out injured, and it was not his forte…

    but i say give him a run in there behind chamakh or bentner…

    besides, he’s taking up space on the left that would be much better filled by nasri, rosicky, or vela.

    i really hope he doesn’t just get parked there marginalised for the whole season. what a total waste of talent that would be.

    also he’s an amazing counter attacker…we need to play more counter-attacking football to get the best out of him. and walcott and vela.

  85. Ole:

    Chelsea still had the 2nd best defense in the league.

    If we score 100 goals and have the 2nd best defense in the league we will probably win. I think we have a great attack but so does Chelsea and ManU. Looking at the table for the last several years it is most likely those 3 teams will score a relatively similar number of goals. However, we also know that Chelsea and especially ManU will play great defense and both concede around 25 – 30 goals. The number of goals both conceded last year was unusual. If we concede 14 – 16 fewer goals this year we will probably win the league. Can we do that? History argues against us. Lets hope things change.

  86. The Spanish are the perfect example, as much as I now hate to mention them.

    They don’t really have many great defenders in their team.

    Pique, Capdevilla, Xavi, Iniesta, Villa, Puyol, Ramos, Busquets, Alonso, Torres, Cesc, cant remember the couple other regulars. All are technical good, maybe Puyol and Pique you can say otherwise. They pressure the opponents right from the front so that is their defence. Defending as a team won them the World Cup, and it has served Barcelona well also.

    They probably have a smaller team than ours, less physical players, and less players who are good in the air. Ok the league is a lot different for Barca, but they still play champs league and its never a problem, and Spain play against all the other national teams.

    Many have said it before, we need to pressure high up when need be, and kill games off, like we did at the start of the season. This does’t mean we must go gung ho like Barca and die after 60mins for the other team to beat us! Too many times we have let our pressure go wasted is my point, when in this formation and the players we have we should really finish teams. Pressure as a team when we have to, and defend as a unit.

    We need to learn as a team to be a defensive unit. Maybe now with Vermaelen and Djourou featuring more often, as well as the positionnaly aware Kosc we can have some order in this area. Our team can graft when need be, we just need a bit better organisation at times.

  87. gunner17

    With the arrival of Chamakh you are clearly mis-guided by even thinking Wenger would play AA there. It won’t happen, if it does I will hold my hands up. Van persie could well slot behind Chamakh at one point if he proves to be a definate starter.

    When you have players like Rosicky, Cesc, Van Persie who all play in the 2nd striker role. They have a better engine, have a lot of experience playing centrally, and are better defensively, you cannot simply say AA will work wonders playing there.

    I have never known such a small player to get much luck in that position. You forget Bergkamp was quite a big guy. Arshavin is best at 1 on 1s also, 90% of the time he will beat his player when he has time to take him on. Why lose that and slot him in the middle?

    Just sounds crazy to me.

  88. YW @ 1 PM

    Worth saying that the quoted figures are after tax.

  89. Ole Gunner – If I were Gallas I would have also probably done the same as you (although was he offered a 2 season contract? I thought the rule was 1 season over the age of 30). I am just saying that I can understand what Gallas’ thought process is in not agreeing to tie down. It is not blatant disloyalty that we can accuse a few other players of, it is just a choice which has its own merits that we can acknowledge, even if not agree with.

  90. Arshavin might do an excellent job as a “trequartista” (I think that is the role gunner17 is getting at). But Arsenal’s system does not have a Trequartista. It has central midfielders (Cesc, Diaby) and wing forwards (Arshavin, Nasri, Walcott, Rosicky, sometimes Bendtner).

  91. Great stat, gunnerluc. “Kosc has the highest rate of ball won in the league with an average of 19 ball won per match”… that’s the kind of non-bullshit, useful comment I can get behind.

    Cannot wait to see him pogo up two clear feet above Kevin Davies and smash the ball 30 yrds up field with his head. That’ll shut everyone up.

  92. So if the entire shower of French World Cup Fauntleroys have been suspended… does that pretty much make Sammy Nasri a nailed-on starter in this next round of pointless international timewasters?

    We’d be mad not to withdraw RVP and Cesc from that crapshoot.

  93. So if the entire shower of French World Cup Fauntleroys have been suspended… does that pretty much make Sammy Nasri a nailed-on starter in this next round of pointless international timewasters?

    I think he might have been a nailed on starter regardless. They have got rid of Domenech.

  94. What a way to go, I know people are slamming the French players for their acts, and rightly so. But Domenech has gotta be the LAST manager you want at your club or your national team now. Never known such an incompetent manager.

    From his team selections, to man management, to tactics.. what does he boast that got him the job in the 1st place!

  95. Bill,

    You told me unless you had the “best defense” you couldn’t win the league.

  96. Blanc’s emphatic reaction to this question was interesting:

    “Have you been in contact with the former manager”, he was asked after explaining to the press that he (Blanc) had spoken with various players in the French WC squad (this was a few weeks ago):


  97. I reckon we are good to go.

  98. Bill @ 1:54 & 2:13pm – The goals conceded last year are skewed by the fact that 09-10 season was the 1st we played the 4-3-3 system. It is blindingly obvious that our execution of the system was way inferior toBarca (lets give the scum some credit) who adopted that system long before us. Zonalmarkingdid an analysis to show how frequently Vermalean, for example, got pulled out of position leaving space for the ball over the top. Not to mention our injury woes all over the park which explains to some degree why we were not as aggressive in the high pressing game in the latter half of the season. IMO, our possession game is not as effective as it is in Spain because of the tolerance by English refs for unfair physical contact, especially from the back.
    Now I hope this may mitigate your fears but somehow I doubt it.

  99. IMO, our possession game is not as effective as it is in Spain because of the tolerance by English refs for unfair physical contact, especially from the back.

    Thats the most sensible comment on the blog today for me.

  100. Ole, shotta – why do you bother answering, he’s a wind up?

  101. Each time I see a photo of JD playing without strapping on his knee I am buoyed by a great fortitude for the season ahead.

    I think Verm-Kos lead the pecking order at present. Based in part on squad numbers, and secondly on Kos coming into the summer off the back of a full season of top flight football.

    I still half expect another defender to come into the fold before September 1st. Perhaps a utility player. For example; with City seemingly set for a firesale, Nedum Onuoha might fit the bill. Not blessed with velvet touch or anything, but a 6ft centreback with experience in the right league at both CB and ‘DM’.

  102. …Sorry, should’ve added: Oi, Wengker! Sign ‘im up!

  103. Keysersoze

    Referees play a minor role in why the English game hasn’t developed into a more stylish way of football. I don’t think we can blame them for everything!

    Yes they contribute to the fact that players go out to stop certain teams playing, using dirty tactics. We cannot hide from the fact that most of the English players are taught to play in this manner.

    It is a bigger problem than simply being the referees attitudes. It is the attitude of English football, accepting leg breaking tackles, accepting tackles which may or may not get the ball, and generall accepting thuggish play.

    Its why Mourinho will find it a much more tougher task to satisfy the Real Madrid faithful if he sticks to his guns and plays his usual style of football. They will probably demand him to leave if he brought such football to the club. Inter Milan accepted it as they were hungry for success and saw that he could bring it. I doubt Real would after sacking Del Bosque after winning the Champs League!

  104. Ole:

    Again you twist my words. Look back in the archives regarding what I have said.

    In the last 10 years the PL winner has had the best defense 7 years and the 2nd best in 3 years.

    If we score 90 – 95 goals and have the 2nd best defense I think we will probably win. The former is certainly within reason. The latter will be much more difficult for us.

    Teams that win play well on both sides of the pitch. Mourinho Chelsea were brilliant defensive teams but they also scored enough goals to be in the top 2 in the league. Mancs with Rooney and Ronaldo were brilliant attacking teams but they were also brilliant defenders. Ancelloti’s Chelsea were the best attacking team in the last 48 years in the PL but they were still good enough to be 2nd best defensive team. Barca is a an incredible attacking team but they are also very efficient defenders. Arsenal is a brilliant attacking team but our defending has not been good enough for several years. Last year we switched to a new system but that can not explain the 5 years before.

  105. adding to my last post…

    the Spanish generally do not tolerate such tactics, and set out to play football. Most the teams there play attractive possession football, where as in England we can’t hold possession, we lump long balls up to a Heskey type, or run constantly into blind alleys looking to put a cross in. We are limiting ourselves by teaching young players to take the art out of football.

    We need to seriously open up our way of thinking, after the World Cup it is pretty obvious that major changes must be made. What has been done?

  106. Why are we not linked with Hangeland yet? Silly season feels incomplete without ‘Hangeland going to Arsenal’!

  107. Wow. It’s like déjà vu all over again.

  108. Bill

    You are telling me an attack which consists of Malouda, Drogba, Anelka, and Lampard is the best in the last 48 years. How have you come to this conclusion, through goals scored? If so that is remarkable.

    I would have thought the invincibles who killed off teams within 20mins would have been worthy winners for that accolade. I maybe biassed being an Arsenal supporter but with Henry, Bergkamp, Pires and Ljungbery their is no comparison mate.

  109. LA @ 3:01 pm – The only problem I see with Onuoha and other “name brand” defenders in the market is every club and agent in Europe knows Arsenal is in the market for a defender (possibly goal-keeper) and they want to milk us for an inflated price. By now, every Arsenal supporter should know that AW does not play that game.
    BTW – In a pre-season game yesterday betw City and NY Redbulls, Onouha was playing right back. Read into that what you may.

  110. Chris – Probably teams should have the option of playing the way they like. Yes, blatantly dangerous stuff that threatens people’s careers should be discouraged, but playing a physical game should be fine as long as the referee deals with it properly. Taking the example of the world cup final, the Dutch took a chance with a physical game and almost clinched it but for Robben’s misses. Fair play to them. But at the same time they were shown something like 9 yellow cards (given by none other than our Webb, surprise!) which hampered their game, and finally cost them dearly. The problem is, unlike the case with the Dutch, in the English game this is indeed a low risk strategy because unless there is absolute mayhem no ref would have the balls to show 9 yellow cards and 1 red to a team. Having watched the premier league on a weekly basis, I can guarantee that the level of physicality shown by the Dutch would have resulted in no more than 5-6 stern warnings, and another 5-6 yellow cards in a normal premier league weekend. And it is up to the referees to implement it.

  111. Actually if it was not Webb officiating, I would put money on a straight red in the fisrt half itself in that world cup final. This would have cleaned up the rest of the game, and given an advantage to the team playing non physical football. The refs have choices to make in every game and the choices decide how the games run out. English referees are softer on physical tactics, it is no use blaming the teams or the system. It is the job of the referees to deal with it regardless.

  112. Bill,

    Trackback, trackback, trackback….

    I do quite remember you saying we couldn’t win last season because we didnt have the “best defense”.

    Whereas, much effort was put into getting you to understand, that a lot of the time, the team that scores the most has a very good chance of winning the league, as does the team that concedes the least. And your elevation of one over the other was down to your philosophical preferences.

    All the rest is nonsense, and it was torture to hear you banging on, while we were racking up the points that we couldn’t win because we didn’t have the “best defense”.

  113. I need this picture explained: http://www.arsenal.com/assets/_files/scaled/498×346/jul_10/gun__1280149649_training26072010_19.jpg?ic=ea0103T

    What has Rosicky done to Frimpong? Why is Pat looking amused and Arsene looking bemused?

  114. it was torture to hear you
    As was, is and ever shall be. Its subtle trollery, but refusing to understand the simplest facts put to you over and over and over again, no matter how polite you pretend to be, is trollery nonetheless.

  115. Shotta, yes, that’s the danger. I’m just thinking that come the final few days of the season, if City haven’t offloaded sufficient personnel in order to shoe-horn their bloated register of mercenaries into an eligble squad – then they’ll have to start accepting lower than market value bids, or else stick a bunch of decent players in the reserves… which is of no benefit to any party.

    I think the match against the Red Bulls was pretty much a shop-window exercise with this in mind. Stephen Ireland was made captain… as if to emphasise the point.

    I’ve no idea whatsoever if any City player fits AW’s plans, but I can see a few bargain basement deals going down over the coming weeks.

    It’s a bit of a shame that goalkeeper seems to be the only position they haven’t massively over-bought in. Ho-hum.

  116. I think City will wrap up a few loan deals towards the close of the window. Even if they sell tehy will not sell to premier league rivals as they clearly don’t need the money.

  117. http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/eng_prem/8848630.stm

    ‘Tottenham have launched three new kits every year for six seasons in a row.

    The north London club have also decided that a different sponsor will adorn their home, second and third kits for Cup games this season, meaning there will be six shirts on offer, costing £45 each on the club’s website.

    Arsenal and Liverpool are the only teams who are releasing a new kit this season, who did not do so last term.’

    So this is how the C*nts fund their vast squad of tear-inducingly average players.

  118. Stephen Ireland as back up to Ramsey? Onuoha as back up to Nordtveit? Roque Santa Cruz as back up to Bendtner? SWP as backup to Theo?

    I look at the entire Man City team, and I swear, there is not one player I’d take. I’d have taken Kolo but…..

  119. I have my doubts Ole. It is all right releasing new kits, but to generate revenue you also need a market for those kits.

  120. Even a club as spendthirft as Manchester City will eventually recoil from the reality of a business model that sees them paying a player £160,000 a week to play football for a different team.

  121. Probably Kompany as a deputy to the Djourou as well as Song? needs to take a pay cut though.

  122. the 3:43 comment is in response to Limpar and not Ole.

  123. Good point, ‘Soze.

  124. Ole @ 3:26 pm – I have been tracking that thread with you and Bill. I’ve got to say a discussion with Bill is like arguing with a wall. I am convinced he wants us to play Mourinho football and he wont be satisfied until we pay over the odds for 4 name-brand central defenders and an equal number of defensive midfielders playing Two Banks of Four (TBOF). Then he will blame the fans for defensive naivety when they stay away from the Emirates in droves and people like me just cancel our expensive subscription to our satellite tv providers.

  125. I’m not sure if this ties in with the Spanish/English football styles, but here’s my two cents on it.

    In England, the vast majority of the games are played during the day-time. This suggests that the people who watch these games look for an exhibition of “testosterone”. In other words, the physical, no holes barred type of game is more appreciated, as it appears to be more of a sporting contest.

    In Spain, the majority of the games are played at night, after sundown. This suggests that the people who go to watch these games are looking for entertainment, and this models the style of play which is very much geared to entertaining football.

    It may also explain why diving is not as harshly looked upon in Spain, because at least it is entertaining, whereas in England, it is unsportsmanlike.

  126. If Man City don’t win the league this season, they should face automatic relegation for trying to buy the league and failing woefully. There spending, I hear is now close to £400M net

  127. Interesting thoughts about the day/night kick-offs, Aaditya. I’m pretty sure you could write a whole book on this subject.

    On the diving thing, I think it is less about entertainment for the Spanish spectator, and more about appreciating the cunning involved in pulling the wool over the referee’s eyes in order to achieve advantage. There is a special word for it in Catalan which I’ve forgotten (roughly shrewdness) and this quality ranks among the very most prized of Catalan attributes.

    It’s the same at the corrida; where the biggest cheers of the bullfight are reserved for the matador who evades the horns of the bull by the narrowest margin.

    This goes at least some of the way to explaining the popularity of a scumbag like Xavi – who can often be seen narrowly evading a challenge, hitting the deck and soaking up the applause. In fact it’s his f*cking speciality.

  128. OK off point…

    should I go for

    Verm or Djourou in defence

    Cesc or Nasri in mid

    in my fantasy football team?

    I have the first options but i’m tempted by each of the others.

  129. els, Verm and Nas. I don’t see Djourou as a starter, even with the squad as is. And Wenger has said that Fabregas won’t be firing on all cylinders until September – which might mean curtailed minutes in the first few games, or it might even mean he’s rested.

  130. If Djourou does edge ahead of Koscielny with a good Ems Cup then he’s an absolute snip at 4.5. O! Fantasy Football… Back in the game for another 9 months. Do you really want to do it to yourself?


  131. Ol safe hands

    Up front I’m happy enough, in midfield I’d like another strong ball winner but would just about make do with what we have. In defence I feel we could do with 1 more, preferably Premier lge experienced, right footed centerback who can do a job on the right when required.

    As for goalkeeper, well I simply cannot accept the possibility that we may not add quality to this blatantly obvious hole in our team. Our keepers have cost us at least 6 Premier Lge games between them for the past 2-3 seasons, it’s embarrassing. For me it’s not a question of if we should but rather “who we should”. How can a team that is littered with overall talent be so inept between the sticks? Beggars belief!

    Fed up with seeing us throw away points due to goalkeeping incompetence. Defensive errors are bad enough though often we under estimate, or refuse to aknowledge, an opponents virtues in finishing.

    However when you witness yet another Almunia clanger or Fabianski flap, it starts to seriously piss you off. Why are they still there at all, let alone being given the Arsenal number 1 shirt. As number 2’s I’d accept the level of cack but as our first choice it it simply not acceptable, surely.

    We will win nothing with those 2 in goal, not even if their both in goal at the same effing time!

  132. Now name 1 keeper who didn’t make a mistake?

  133. Then name one who could have pulled of a performance like that of MA in the first leg against Barca? Oops sorry doesn’t fit your agenda so match saving performances not included.

  134. Ol safe hands .

    I have a feeling you are not going to be very happy when the season starts and Almunia or Fabianski is in goal.

  135. Too bad for Gallas, Toure claimed his “Oil City” spot earlier, Gallas can’t go there for a big pay day now.

  136. Guys, is there a working stream for the game?

  137. Oh, its tomorrow. My bad.

  138. Ol safe hands

    steww. Whilst I appreciate Manuel had a good game against Barca (1st leg) he did also have a good few of those shots fired straight at him and new little about them. But fair enough it was a good night for the waiter and for that I applauded him at the time. He also did well against Barca in Paris to be fair, well, untill he let 2 in at his near post that is.

    Their’s not a keeper that “didn’t make a mistake” but fuck me their’s definately a good few that make less than him, are paid less, and more’s the point aren’t in goal for the Arsenal.

    “Match saving performances” are very much my concern, they are a bonus with any keeper and their frequency is what makes the difference between a number 1 and a number 2 goalie. The problem here is that dear Manuel is unlikely to have more than 1 or 2 of these games in an entire season across all competitions. Hold that up against the number of stupid mistakes and you might as well have David poxy James in there quite frankly. That’s simply not good enough for a top keeper.

    He’s a decent shot stopper on his day and generally an ok keeper. However he is not a top quality goalie, none of the top 6 clubs would swap theirs for him and he should not be our number 1. It’s not down to effort it’s down to quality.

  139. Does any one remember Brazil when they always had problems with flaky goal keepers? It didn’t stop them from winning the world cup. Any one of our astute pretend goal keeper experts out there explain why is that?

  140. Well if Wenger doesn’t add another cb and keeper were up the johnothan creek.

  141. Brazil’s keepers were always severely underrated. Taffarel and Dida are the ones I’ve known since I’ve been watching, and they were both top quality for Brazil.

    Dida’s always had a couple of errors in him, but he’s just spent 10 years at Milan. No mean feat.

  142. It just isn’t possible to claim that Almunia had a good season last year. There were too many annoying goals conceded, like that header vs Man City away and the equaliser at Brum. He’s not that old for a keeper, and I do think he was very good in 07-08 and 08-09, so it’s likely he’ll turn it around if he gets his head straight.

    I’d say that Fabianski’s a better bet long term. He needs games and a bit of luck.

  143. I have always defended Al but when he threw that one in against brum and pretty much ended our title chances that was it. i knew i was in the wrong and that those i was arguing against were right…he isnt good enough and neither is flappers. we need a keeper there is no doubt about it. if we start the season with these two as our keepers were doomed. as blunders will happen again and f*ck us….again.

  144. I checked my crystal ball and it says if we start with either LF or MA we’ll run away with it, so actually there’s no need to worry.
    I’ll check the tea leaves if anyone likes just to make absolutely sure.

  145. OOU, I agree Almunia did not have a good season overall. He had serious personal problems and he was also forced to play through injury due to the lack of viable alternatives. If he is over the personal issues, there is no reason to suppose he can’t return to his former level. Fabianski was very unfortunate to be injured at the same time Manuel was missing as he would have had a good chance to establish himself as genuine competition for the number 1 spot. But when he did get his chance he came across as over-eager to impress and therefore made rash decisions and errors out of nervousness. I have seen him play a few times in the Carling Cup and his strengths have been his ‘sweeping’ up at the back, bearing in mind the high line our defence keeps. He was outstanding in the game against Wigan a couple of seasons ago in his general command of the box and shot-stopping. That double save still sticks in my memory. But of course that was before his two errors against chelski in the FA cup semi. Since then, his confidence appears to have taken a knock with a consequent down turn in his performances. Hopefully he can regain his composure with a run of games and some support from the fans.

    These are the things Arsene is probably considering during the Austria training camp and pre-season games in order to help him make a decision about the goal keeping position. I’m glad I don’t have to make the decision!

  146. Amen to that Passenal! I’d hate to have the responsibility. I think your post is the most reasonable and level headed I’ve read on our goalie situation.

  147. Vincent Kompany would be a brilliant signing if Man City can be persuaded to part with him; he’s very accomplished both at centre-half and in the defensive midfield position.

  148. After watching Joe Hart against Sporting Lisbon, if he had been Almunia his performance would have been crucified. Weak dive for the first goal, and an embarassing misjudgement on the second.

    I would love to see a world-class keeper to take over from Almunia next season, but there’s not a single keeper in the Premier League who would inspire me with confidence right now as our #1.

    Cech (it’s a cliche, but he’s not the same since his accident) Van Der Saar (this season might be one year too many) Hart (still makes ‘young goalie’ errors and unproven at a big club) Given (does not command the area on crosses). The list goes on….

    Friedel, Schwarzer, James: all past their best
    Gomez: Unpredicatable
    Howard, Hart: not proven consistent at a big club
    Robinson: No comment needed

    I can see why Reina has his supporters, but I’ve personally never been a big fan, and I don’t recall many games where he’s been able to turn the game in favour of Liverpool.

    Interestingly, while not the best source, look how Arsenal’s keepers rated according to Four Four Two.


    Definitely a change is needed, but it might need to come outside our league.

  149. Craft Bison

    Amen to Kompany, but as he’s contracted to 2014, hard to see why City would let him go to a rival.

    Maybe we can send over TV to scare the crap out of Garry Cook. Unusual to have an all Belgian CB pairing, but I like the idea.

  150. Limpar, I’ve gone for hidden option ‘c’ eventually.

    Nasri & Cesc, my third arse player is RvP (as always).

    I have a feeling Johan is Wengers first choice.
    All this talk of Chamankh and Koscielny coming straight into the fold may not be too true. It’s not often that wenger throws somebody straight in is it. TV did but I think that had Johan not gotten injured this time last year he may have shared the ganes out with TV.

    Anyway thanks for your help mate. I cant wait for the season now. AAAAAAArghghghghghg hurry up.

  151. Passenal is spot on about our keeper situation. The other thing she didn’t mention is that throwing Al under the bus is not AW’s modus operandi and is inconsistent with his strategy of recently signing two of the best young goal-keepers in Europe and grooming them to eventually take over. I suspect Al will be given the same chance as Mad Jens. He is No. 1 at the beginning of the season and must prove himself. If not, he goes to the bench.

    Duke and co., if that happens and you burst a blood vessel, it is not AW’s fault. Too many have forgotten how good Al was in 08-09. Too many have lost all perspective; in one breath they admit that we didn’t defend as a unit and in the next they blame Al for all the defensive errors. Save that hysteria and schizophrenia for shallow-minded fans at le groan and elsewhere.

  152. Limpar, I’ve gone for hidden option ‘c’ eventually.

    Nasri & Cesc, my third arse player is RvP (as always).

    I have a feeling Johan is Wengers first choice.
    All this talk of Chamankh and Koscielny coming straight into the fold may not be too true. It’s not often that wenger throws somebody straight in is it. TV did but I think that had Johan not gotten injured this time last year he may have shared the ganes out with TV.

    Anyway thanks for your help mate. I cant wait for the season now. AAAAAAArghghghghghgh hurry up.

    This may be a duplicate but first it didn’t let me post it. Sorry if it is.

  153. This Kompany talk is music to my ears. Iv’e been banging on about him since his Anderlect (spelling) days. I think as people have said it would be a great signing and a good utility player to be added. Man C didn’t exactly use him all that much either did they?

    I’d play him over DeJong in midfield every time.

  154. haven’t heard anythig much about how A.R is doing….anybody heard anythig ?

  155. trev apparently according to the Welsh camp he has started running and light training. I don’t know if that is old news but that’s the last i’m aware of.

  156. Me either, Passenal!

    There’s no doubting Fabianski’s ability; he’s physically imposing, got a great span, and we’ve all seen his reactions.

    But here’s the thing that worries me about him coming into this season – It’s the effect he’s had on fans, the opposition and referees during his troubles.

    Fat Sam knew before the Blackburn game that he could stretch the rules against us. I fully believe that both those goals were fouls – he was impeded both times, but the perception was that Fabianski’s a dodgy keeper and if he falls to the ground when he gets bumped by their rugby league players then it’s legit because he’s a “flapper” (And I thought he was the wrong sex for that!).

    Even Arsenal fans thought it was wrong to feel hard done by after the Blackburn game, but this is surely the only big league in the world in which teams can get away with that stuff.

    Fat Sam will have brought up Fabianski in his team talk and just by being there he encouraged them to do things that they wouldn’t otherwise have tried. I’m sure that Pulis, O’Neill and McCarthy will have taken ideas from that match.

    Still, I think it’s rectifiable – he just has to get some matches behind him, make it clear it was just a form thing and change people’s perceptions.

    And is it me or are there fewer of the classic Bolton and Blackburn sides in the league this season? I couldn’t think of more than four managers who resort to that kind of stuff.

  157. Shotta

    Jens had 2 games: Fulham and Blackburn. That means MA has Liverpool and Blackpool. If MA doesn’t play tomorrow, I can’t see him starting at Anfield. AW has to start playing the first choice XI (excl. Cesc & RvP) for three of the next four friendlies – not the whole match but at least 1/2 to 3/4 of it so that cohesion and understanding can be built, especially in defence. GK is key to that & if MA isn’t in goal, he is not first choice at the start of the season.


  158. Whoops, that went a bit wrong. I didn’t spend the whole time writing that – I was walking the dog!

  159. thanks els. hoping it could be a big season for him and hoping he recovers good. luck to him.

  160. OOU

    They may start out passing but put them into a relegation fight and few teams will stay up playing that way…


  161. Yeah, I suppose so, YW. Tony Mowbray comes to mind. And in truth, Birmingham have now got that Zigic monster, while Newcastle and West Ham have Andy Carroll and Carlton Cole, and they’re all ideal strikers for hoofball.

  162. Shotta,
    What two best young keepers are they then??
    and i agree we should throw Al under a bus…good idea!!

  163. which

  164. Let’s not forget we have a couple of strikers that will be ideal for hoofball, except we’ll only use it in the last 10 minutes if desperate. Chamakh and Bendtner will be able to do all sorts of damage at the end of games if we’re looking for the winning or equalizing goal. The difference with them is that they’ll still be able to do damage on the ground too.

  165. That is very true OOU – it is not going to be easy for him to turn that perception around, but Eboue has shown that with hard work almost anything is possible.

  166. im affraid fabianski has a rep for being a dodgy keeper now and every shite team we play with him in the team will target him, could be detrimental to us.

  167. Based on what we know (and assuming at least a Sol return), here’s what looks to be the most imposing line-up we could put out.

    Fabianski, Sagna, Clichy, Campbell, Vermaelen
    Song, Fabregas, Diaby, Chamakh, Bendtner, Van Persie

    This line-up would threaten even the best defence on set-pieces.

  168. Nasir Jones-Nasri

    Fuckin hell, Bill. That horse you’ve been beating for months on end has been dead for quite some time now.

    Give it a fuckin rest already. There’s got to be something else (preferably something positive about the Arsenal for once) swirling around in that brain of yours.

  169. The best young keeper in the world is Wociejh Szczesny.

  170. “The best young keeper in the world is Wociejh Szczesny.”

    Until he plays for Arsenal and makes a mistake or is ‘taken out’ by the opposition while the referee stands there with his whistle in his pocket.

  171. YW @ 8:37 pm – Concur. Tomorrow’s preseason game and the Emirates Cup tournament will give us a good idea of AW’s thinking.

    Duke – Too bad you hold Fabianski and Wojciech in such low regard. As for Big Al – he has always been doubted (remember Lehman) and I am sure that is his biggest motivator.

  172. dont think this will b popular……. but for me i would have given dudu time and vela a chance over bendtner.

  173. I was just looking at Shaktar Donetsk official website – their next game is against Arsenal!

  174. yeh, cool. now have sd on favourites. blood pressure still up over dudu.

  175. Wait and see!
    So easy to get pissed off at Wenger’s Scrooge cameos during transfer windows but he might just buy us a big fuck-off turkey or two at the last minute! (I mean top player when I say turkey by the way.)
    I don’t know what Koscielny is like, so I’ll not talk about how he’ll perform in our team – which is crap defensively, front to back.
    Maybe we just need one of a good CB, a confident keeper or a decent DM to have the required effect on the rest.
    Were our keepers crap because of what was in front of them? Were our defenders crap because of what was behind them or because of what was in front of them?

  176. I think we should have a whip round and all chip in to buy Scott Parker, i’d absolutely love him at Arsenal. I imagine Villa will make a real attempt at getting him if Milner leaves although there’s rumours Spurs are interested. I would hate to see him at there, he’s too nice a bloke. A few of my Hammers mates are pissed at their board for mentioning they’d let him go for the right price, at the start of the close season he was “Mr.West Ham” and “100% not for sale”, not to mention he appeared on most of their promotional materials.

    Secondly, I just want to take my hat off to Bill. Day in day out he says things we don’t necessarily all agree with, but he never loses his rag or even swears but just argues his points well and is entirely consistent. It proves all the trolls who come on and claim we only have room for an AKB mentality on this blog are talking shite. Talkshite.

  177. Wtf, Lucas got called up for Brazil but Denilson didn’t?

  178. I don’t usually go in for a ‘second team’ trevor, but I think Shaktar have just moved into that spot. I’ll also be a temporary SC Braga supporter when they play Celtic in the CL Qualifiers and of course anyone but Birmingham FC.

  179. Decent DM blah, blah, blah. We have Song. We have Denilson (who played in that role very well in 08/09 and might actually be the second coming of Gilberto), we have Eastmond, we have Coquelin. Why the f*ck do we need another DM? And who do you propose? If you want to mouth something that resembles the word mellow phonetically, please, just go and support Juve if you love that player so much that you can’t stop talking about him for years.

  180. Exactly why would you want to down grade to a decent dm when we have a world class dm?

    Also you didn’t even have to add frimpong to that list.

    I also would like to give Bill a pat on the back. I often disagree with him, but hats off to his view and opinion. He sticks to his guns and I you are guaranteed a decent discussion with him. Nobody should have negativity toward him. If anybody who has an alternative opinion to the majority (shrinking) take note of bill for somebody who deserves respect in his view.

    Well done Bill (hope this doesn’t sound wank)

  181. my third team, up until i was seven anyway, was grantham fc. – the gingerbreads. ( sorry ) we once beat swindon 6 – 2. or it may have been the other way round !

  182. Did Flam ever express any regret over leaving us like Hleb did?

  183. There is nothing admirable about saying the same thing over and over and over again ad nauseum in my opinion. It’s like the sound of vuvuzelas at the WC irritating but ultimately easy to ignore.

  184. Passenal but in his mind that the same as you stating that our midfield is as creative as anything the premiership has ever seen. He believes it and voices it to get people to think like him.

    He’s wrong, obviously. But he’s wrong correctly.

  185. I agree with Passenal on this. It is OK to put your opinion over but it becomes a real drag when you do it day after day, month after month. We all know about our lapses in defence over the last few seasons. Wenger is trying to sort it out.

  186. Well ok if we all agreed with him and he still banged on then it would be boring. I don’t get on here as much as i’d like recently, maybe I shouldn’t comment on how often he does it. He does seem to raise the issue when people are talking about his area of the pitch.

    Maybe your right. I f@cking hate bill 🙂 haha only kidding. Bet his ears are burning.

  187. I honestly think you guys would be more wound up by him if he was inconsistent with his opinions.

  188. When you look at regular posters on this blog, it’s about 80% AKB/10% Somewhat Critical Fans/ 10% Spuds or Spudalikes.

    The blog would be better with a 70% AKB/30% Somewhat Critical Fans mix but the balance isn’t too far off as it is.

    Having said that, I don’t see why someone should have their head snapped off for suggesting another DM in the mould of Song is important for us to have. None of Denilson, Coquelin, Eastmond, Frimpong would work as a 2nd DM against a top team away against a top Premier League or European team alongside or instead of Song (if injured or away).

    It’s a glaring hole that needs filling. Diaby has shown he can do it on occoasion and maybe this season we’ll see it every week from him. Until then, I’m sure I’m not the only one who would welcome one of Inler, Kompany or even Melo to act as insurance for a Song injury or as his partner for a crunch game.

  189. Actually, lagooner, you are wrong. Denilson has proven time and time again, that he can work very well together with Song (or instead of Song) against top teams. The home game against Barcelona ring any bells?
    I agree that Coquelin, Eastmond, Frimpong might not be ready yet for the pressure that a match against a top team brings, but it is only a question of time until one of those steps up.

  190. Göteborg Gunner

  191. Nasir Jones-Nasri


    Denilson is more than capable of filling that mystical second D**M you critical lot love banging on about. He’s a stud and can play anywhere across the midfield, no matter the competition. I don’t care who the opposition is, Denilson has shown his class time and again. Wenger’s got it covered. You were probably one of those Song doubters from last off season banging on about how we needed to fill the D**M position because Song wasn’t adequate. Chill out and let our legendary manager do his job. You do your little office cubicle job or whatever you got and keep blogging like you’re some kind of manager, and he’ll keep doing his job in real life and have us competing for everything under the sun like we do every year. If that’s not good enough for you, and you’re unable to notice the skyward trajectory this great club is on then that’s your own fault and you might wanna pick up another club/sport.

  192. I’ve never been a Song doubter, and I think there’s a reasonable discussion to be had whether Denilson is the answer alongside Song in big games.

    I do remember the Barcelona game and they ran rings around us for much of the game. Probably not the best example to reference…

    I like Denilson, but something happened to him last season (maybe it was the back injury) that caused me to question whether he can do the job for us long-term.

    NJN-There’s no harm in discussing players who we would like to see play for Arsenal. That is not inconsistent with supporting Wenger. I have been 100% supportive of our manager on this blog, because I think he’s a genius and his heart is with the club.

    Now lighten up NJN, and quit being so joyless. We have a new season coming, and if I think I would like to see someone else alongside Song, who the hell are you to tell me otherwise?

  193. EvilFiek-I love how you are so certain of your opinion. Your rightness inspires me.

  194. I see the Denilson situation a different way personally. I think that when he plays alongside Song they compliment each other perfectly; Song is the tough tackling type while Neves relies on his reading of the game to win the ball back. When they’re on the pitch together this works a treat (and it’s certainly not the case that we’re “wasting two players on the same job” as some doomers stated last season) but on the admittedly rare occasions where Deni doesn’t win the ball back through foresight alone he’s not the type of player who’s going to chase back like a lunatic until possession’s ours again. This isn’t a criticism, it’s playing this way that he has the stamina to play his game the way he does for the full 90 minutes (Arshavin memorably describing him as being like a duracell bunny comes to mind). With that in mind I don’t think it’d hurt to have someone in the Flamini mould as back up for Song, someone who can play headless chicken to Deni’s laidback Brazilian. I reckon with a little more discipline Diaby’d be more than capable but at the same time i’d be reluctant to curb his attacking instincts.

  195. els, I’m not Pollyanna; I can be critical – usually of the performance not personal attacks on individuals. But if someone claims to be an Arsenal supporter yet never has anything positive to say about the team and can only focus constantly on what they consider to be the short comings of the team or individuals it gets boring. It’s not like there is anything that he can do about it. Nothing is perfect. If you decide to support the team, try getting behind them for a change and occasionally keep your reservations to yourself. This is a public forum so why give succour to the opposition?

  196. Lagooner

    I think you will find Denilson only played the 2nd half against Barca. He came on as a sub at half time. So I Think EvilFiek was correct in his comment.

  197. In the first half Barcelona ran circles around us, passes finding their man time and time again creating countless chances. And when we finally got the ball back, we couldn’t keep it long enough to string two passes together.
    That changed when Denilson came on in the second half. His interceptions, man marking and passing played an integral part in our game and helped us turn the match on its head. His contribution was immense.

  198. According to the Spanish media half the clubs in Spain are in deep trouble, including Barcelona. Where are they going to come up with the money?

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