One of Us Speaks: Bridging the Fàbre-chasm

The Magnificent Malochi is here for another ivory-tickling sermon

In December 2007 one of our plucky young Carling cup sides overcame Blackburn Rovers in the quarter final. It was a breathless scrap in the Lancashire mud on a bitter night against an experienced Mark Hughes team. You’ll probably remember it – Arsenal started well, then gave up their two-goal lead, but battled to 3-2 in extra time. No small achievement when you remember the trouble that lot used to give us…haha: “used to”.

Eduardo got the goals, but it was the performance of the centre half that night that I want to reminisce about. Just 20 at the time, this lad played like a narcoleptic Lothar Matthäus.

There were a few points in the match when he swung at air, mistimed his leaps and watched in wonder as the play passed him by.

But for long periods he defended with so much confidence and authority. And striding forward he was really something to behold – dispatching forensic through-passes, or picking out runners from afar, lofting 40-yard balls that barely called on their recipients to break stride. A few months earlier, out on loan at Charlton, he had produced one of the assists of the season – aiming an immaculate pass from deep that cleaved two banks of lunging Watford defenders for Luke Young to finish in one move.

Of course we’re talking about Alex Song. I went back to the yellowing ATVO library this week, and the Blackburn performance was as eventful as I remembered.

It’s an Alex Song we haven’t seen too much of since, despite his vast improvement in the intervening years. Up to now we’ve known him as a calm presence in front of the back four – blissed-out expression, fond of an attacking raid and prone to the occasional lapse in concentration or off day. Clean first touch, a good passing range, without catching the eye particularly.

I really don’t know if he’s about to undergo a transformation, and suddenly reemerge this season as a devastating creative force from deep midfield. But what we can be sure of is that he’s taking on more responsibility in the build up.

Against Blackburn a couple of weeks back he poked a lovely pass through for Gervinho’s opener. Last weekend he would have claimed another had Theo finished his one-on-one against the typically in-form-for-his-visit-to-Arsenal Jääskeläinen. And on Wednesday night he picked out Chamberlain from the halfway line in the build up to the first goal.

I think what we’re talking about here are matters of self-belief and pecking order. It was only natural that Alex Song should defer to Cesc Fàbregas, one of football’s most perceptive creators. Always one to tailor a system to his players rather than the other way round, I’d venture Wenger devised our formation and whole style of play to harness Cesc’s undeniable ability.

So as you’d expect, right now there’s still a big hole – some might call it a Fàbrechasm – in our midfield, but slowly the players added and those still here will find a way to bridge that gap. It won’t be one player that does it, rather a combination of players meeting in the middle, knitting together by using talents already at their disposal, or perhaps calling on skills that have lain dormant, suppressed during the Catalan’s reign as captain. As Wenger pointed out in 2007 and this year, when a side loses one of its stars other players might surprise you by what they can do.

It’s probably also worth pointing out that on that triumphant night at Ewood Park four years ago Song had Eduardo for guidance. He really helped his younger teammates through – gesticulating and pointing at the space ahead of him. And the Brazilian striker was one of the more astute off the ball runners around at the time. Certainly far better than Adebayor, who was our main centre forward during Song’s debut season with the first team.

So it helps that Walcott has started timing his runs more precisely over the past season. Now with Gervinho we’ve got the kind of twin-flanked pace and movement we were begging for at the back end of last season. It should make life easier for our new central midfield, and at this stage Alex Song has one fewer assist than last season after a sixth of the games. He’s at two in seven right now.

Meanwhile, without wanting to play down the talents of Rosicky, Benayoun or the emerging Frimpong and Coquelin, the other members of our first choice three-man midfield over the next few weeks will most likely be Ramsey and Arteta.

Ramsey probably wouldn’t have expected as many games as he’s had this season, and has started to find his range over the last few weeks, chalking up a handful of assists, linking up better with his teammates and in all ways looking more like the player who broke into the team in late 2009. He doesn’t appear to be a guy with endless reserves of confidence to draw on. And I’m sure that nothing harms a footballer’s self-belief like a shattered leg. So just as in those inconsistent 12 months after he joined the club, Aaron is having to find his feet. Thank Colin Lewin and Gary O’Driscoll that the right one is still attached to his lower leg.

And then there’s Arteta. Having watched him a few times now, I think it’s safe to say that he won’t offer Cesc’s attacking penetration. Rather he’s a diligent team player, finding space, bringing the ball under his spell and moving it on with little fuss. I like the idea that he’ll be able to conduct the course and tempo of play in the middle, kind of like a policeman directing traffic, only a little less static, hopefully. Chalkboards from the Bolton game last weekend show that both Ramsey and Song were more adventurous with their passing.

What’s intriguing right now is how the players we thought we knew are changing before our eyes. Who knows what will greet Messrs. Diaby and Wilshere when they finally respond to the distress call.

’til Tomorrow.

Posted on September 30, 2011, in Arsenal, Champions League, Football, Premier League, Premiership, Soccer, Transfer Gossip. Bookmark the permalink. 108 Comments.

  1. Nice post as always. I think you hit the nail on the head so to speak when you focus on Alex Song. I personally think this might just be the year he truly breaks out and claims the role of not just DM but also play maker for himself. Arteta is a fantastic addition to our squad but as yet is still finding his feet with our style of play, although I must admit he is doing so at a very nice pace. Rosicky at times seems to be rejuvenated aswell but lacks a bit of consistency. Hopefully a few more games will put that issue to rest.

    When will we see Park? Next Carling cup game perhaps? I am surprised he did not start against Olympiacos as I thought we would be resting AA for the Spuds.

  2. I’ve been reading that we are the underdog against Spurs and only RVP and Sagna would make a Spurs starting 11.I never thought I’d hear that. We shall see on Sunday.

  3. 1lc – Keep reading mate as it gets even funnier on some sites, you would swear we were about to play a team that has actually won something of late. Why do we get slated for not winning for 6 years yet noone is slating the spuds? Is it simply that ‘Arry is that well liked by the media? The Old tax dodger himself.

  4. Sorry I just could not resist 🙂

    I was in the White Hart Lane shop the other day, and I saw a sign that said “Spurs: The Glory Years…£200″ I said to the woman behind the counter,

    “Bloody hell that’s a bit steep, how do you get away with charging that?”

    She looks at me and says, “Well it’s £5 for the video..”

    “And £195 for the Betamax player!”

  5. Last one then bed. Promise!

    Redknapp walks into a Burger bar and says, “I want two whoppers”. The guy serving says, “OK,…. you will get into the top four and you will win the FA Cup!!”

  6. A refreshing perspective of Alex, ‘The total package’ and an example of the talents that most Arsenal players are required. (for me, he is captain material – needs to be more vocal)

    As much as I love to watch Cesc perform…….one or two man star squads can stifle the development of others. Having players feel there is no pecking order….will only allow the squad to present more problems for our opponents.

    Sorry to have missed a week of posting…..I’m in the middle of a 2 week vacation, first trip to Italia…….

    Trying to stay caught up with Arsenal issues…..not sure how this RvP going to City came about.

    This kid, Ox, is an “OX”……what talent and confidence……how scouting system and manager are a wonder.

  7. Great post. Hope this transpires in the field in the weeks ahead.

    Song is getting better and better. Wenger has to tell Ramsey and Arteta not to ‘kill the game’ at times. Ramsey holds the ball far too long. At times, he never moves. Just watch some of the passes from Rosicky against Olympiacos. Ramsey never moved with the ball; he stood still.

    I think Bale, Modrich, and maybe Park are the only three players that can be in the first 11 of Arsenal’s team. Wenger has to underline this to boast the confidence of the team.

  8. Referring to yesterday’s discussion, I think it unwise to refer to any player as the best. There are really only three “bests” I know in football today, as in standout players of a generation. Messi, Iniesta (some might argue with this name, but I think he has extraordinary level of skill and contribution to the game) and Ronaldo. Fabregas might come into this picture very soon, within a season, we know his quality in Arsenal. Rooney and our RvP, as well as players like Song, Gerrard and Essien and others across Europe come in the next rung, fantastic players. Song is the most important midfielder at Arsenal, and that’s what is important. He fits. His history for us is a microcosm of Wenger’s epic journey of the last six years, from young bit player to first name on the team sheet, a household name in Africa, in Europe and afar, a massive player in terms of influence, quiet and unassuming, superb. It’s controversial, but I think while he might not be “better” than Cesc, whatever that means, he has been and is more important to Arsenal than Cesc.

    Of course, on current EPL form we are underdogs to Spuds. That means nothing.

  9. As for Arteta, my view is he is better, and will get better still, than we might think. He’s “growing” in the game at Arsenal, fast. Oh, the sacrilege, but he often reminds me of Fabregas, the type of pass Cesc might have made. I watched him many times for Everton, contrary to what Jabba spouts, and his range and quality of “conducting the orchestra” has, I believe, already shown signs of a bigger vision. Of course this comes with playing with better players, but it also comes with the style of Arsenal. Of note, is his ability to read RvP’s runs. I look forward to Arteta using the the dink over the top, a Cesc speciality.

  10. Just Another Luke

    I’m curious. What is an “ivory-tickling sermon” please?

    Ivory as in the keys of a piano or the tusks of an African elephant? Or the teeth of gooners?

  11. Poor old Sagna, already “soooooooooooooooooooo tired” has to tie Bale up in knots this weekend. Bale is not the second coming, but is a handful no doubt, and has a tremendous shot. Modric? Well, whatever. On his day, yes can win a match, but can be a little anonymous too. Adebayor? A big threat, and not to underestimated. Hope Kos is back.

    Should be a cracker! Here’s hoping 3Gs and Theo are back. Will it be Santos or Gibbs? I guess Gibbs for this one, but maybe not.

  12. Just Another Luke

    Santos is our answer to Bale. Santos to start, and Gibbs to come in to steady the ship when we have a 4-goal lead. 😉

  13. Excellent analysis. I have to say that Song was catching my eye all of last season, but one’s perspective on players’ performance is hugely influenced by whether one is watching them with a positive pre-disposition or just one notices them mainly when they miss a tackle/pass/shot (eg vitriolic abuse of Chamakh around me throughout his hard-working and very respectable performance on Wednesday).

    I really do believe Song is one of the top midfielders in the league, with stunning ball control (there is no player I would rather pass the ball to when he is surrounded by opposition players). He has a great ability to drop a shoulder and fool the opposition as to which way he is going, is much more creative than he is given credit for, and, although not notably fast, he has a Gilbert-like knack of drifting around the pitch and ending up in the right place at the right time. His tackling when facing the opposition is outstanding…..his main weakness in my view is a tendency to mistime tackles from behind (or perhaps more accurately attempt tackles from behind which he has no chance of getting away with).

  14. Some quality posts today.

    Just came across this –

    Kroenke told the Daily Telegraph in a rare interview: “Maybe it is one of those times when we have to work our way through, maybe with some young players.

    “Arsene has been really good at developing these guys, people like Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Jack Wilshere. There are some really good players that Arsene thinks can be special.

    “Sometimes you go through periods like that.

    “Arsene’s our man. As an owner, that’s who we put our confidence in.”
    Kroenke also insists it is up to the Frenchman how long he wants to continue as manager at the Emirates Stadium.

    He said: “With Arsene, it’s his decision and only he will know that.

    “He still maintains himself in tremendous physical shape. You have to have stamina and energy.

    “Arsene has great energy and that will always be his decision.”

    “That was between Arsene and him,” the American added. “I like the kid but I’m not going to change his mind. Arsene made the decision.

    “If we wanted to be really hard about it, we could have done but Arsene believed that it was the right way to do it.

    “I also get it on Nasri. If we didn’t do something on Nasri people would be looking at us next summer and saying, ‘Why didn’t you do this?’

    “We bought in a lot of resources that we can use on other players. I honestly didn’t make the decision on Nasri.

    “Of course the board talks about these things but at the end of the day, that’s for Arsene.”

  15. This is actually one of the best posts I have read. Someone’s actually realized how much Song’s improved, probably the most improved player in the squad, even if Cesc and Samir were still in it.

    The one thing I’d say about him is, he should do some laps with Theo in an attempt to get quicker or even just improve his acceleration. That’s probably the only criticism of him I have, he’s now able to commit professional fouls when he needs to and his passes…..oh my. Quality.

    Santos could maybe be used ahead of Gibbs, but Bale’s main asset is his pace, Santos isn’t the quickest of players, Gibbs is definitely faster and won’t be left behind by Bale’s quick acceleration like Santo might be. Anyways, Bale plays on the left and often sticks to the left, Sagna will have the task of stifling the Welsh man’s dynamic surges whilst Gibbs will have to try and fit Lennon into his pocket.

    I just hope Koscielny is back so him and Mertesacker can try and keep Adebayor and van der Vaart quiet, whilst Song moves back into midfield to nullify Modric and Ramsey and Arteta draw Parker out and thread passes through all game long.

  16. Let’s face it we have been written off for 4th place by the media and the bookies – everyone thinks it’s Spurs for the taking – we should be using this as fuel.

    I still believe we will do it – hell I still believe we can get third.

    Still the pragmatic side of me says 4th would be a huge achievement. Make no mistake, this Tottenham side is more dangerous than last year and we are still finding our feet. You would have to be blinkered to think there is not a real possibility of us slipping out of the top 4.

    We are depending on more unknown quantities (hardly a surprise given the quantum shift in our squad) and we are once again suffering the most ludicrous run of injuries (though they aren’t having to much fun there themselves it should be noted).

    I think if we’d had Verm and Wilsh available from the get go the story would be different. Right now it’s heads down, one game at a time, play your heart out football. Our duty is to get behind the players on the pitch unwaveringly, vocally and passionately.

    Great write BTW Yogi – Fabrechasm! Excellent word.

  17. As regards Song – this echoes a conversation I had with a friend last week.

    It’s also worthy of a mention how he was completely written off as a player as recently as the start of this season by Le Grove authors and their vile underlings. Yet another example of a player that would have been thrown to the wolves if their self-trumpeted wisdom was ever followed.

  18. Solid analysis Big Al.

    Alex Song wil only get better. He’s been a gunner long enough to have soaked in a variety of requisite skill all round from the likes of Cesc, TR7, Hleb, VAD2, AA, Gilberto, etc..and it’s slowly beginning to really show. He looks like he’s intelligent, disciplined and constantly works on his game. What more can one ask for?
    He will be great.

    Kroenke finally let the naysayers know what RASERS have always known…

    even if we were in World War 3,

    ARSENE’S GOING NOWHERE!!!!

  19. Incidentally, a “Fabregasm” is something completely different. It refers to a climactic event that took place at the Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper in August 2011 – and the ongoing industrial scale cleanup operation.

  20. Jonny – Big Al (OneOfUs) gets the credit for this one.

    Excellent piece OOU. It’s exciting to think what other aspects of our players games will come out, now they have different teammates with different attributes all around them. I’ve got a feeling that Ramsey’s going to find his scoring boots sometime soon and end the season with 10+ goals this year. When he’s on it, he’s got a tremendous strike. Just needs confidence. with Arteta and Song both rotating and getting forward, we should be able to share a fair few goals round the squad now (not to mention our winger/forwards that are raring to go). No where near as much reliance on 1 or 2 players to hit the back of the net as there used to be. For a striker, knowing that his teammates behind him can share some of the goalscoring responsibility makes a huge difference. It means they aren’t anywhere near as pressured when in front of goal, and can allow more composure and the time to get your head up and lay it off if it’s more appropriate. Knowing that you’re the only good finisher in your front line creates so much pressure on yourself.

    I agree with Big Johan’s post completely. Well said.

  21. … And i suppose it’s the same for the creators in midfield, knowing that others can spray those pinpoint passes (a la Song to Ox) and it’s not all on you, just generally gives you more confidence in giving to the ball to a teammate to try it from their angle. Our squad is so well balanced now imo, there’s a great amount of flexibility and adaptability in this team, it’s great to see.

  22. Thanks Geo – my bad.

    Happy 15th Anniversary to Arsene – I’m sure he’s reading this….

    15 truly unbelievable years.

  23. @ jonny…

    What about 1st..I still believe 🙂

  24. Fact Of The Day

    Today I have learnt, from Radio 4, that that the £18m computer used at the Hadron Colider in 1999 is now equivalent to half an XBox.

    Moore’s Law eh – powerful stuff. Don’t sniff it all in one go.

  25. Anirudh – good on you – you’ll be able to get great odds right about now. You should stick a large sum of money down.

    😀

  26. Gotta be all guns blazing on Sunday.
    Should be a really good game

    vs TOTTENHAM (A) 02/10/11
    01 Sczseszny………Friedel
    02 Jenkinson……….Bale
    03 Gibbs……………..Van Der Vaart
    04 Sagna…………….Defoe
    05 Mertesacker ……Adebayor
    06 Song………………Modric
    07 Gervinho/Ox…….Assou-Ekotto
    08 Arteta……………..Sandro
    09 RvP………………..Kaboul
    10 Rosicky…………..King
    11 Arshavin………….Walker

    SUBS:
    Fabianski…Cudicini
    Coquelin/ Squilly/ Miquel….Bassong
    Santos…….Corluka
    Frimpong….Parker
    Ramsey…..Kranjcar
    Walcott/Benayoun……Lennon/ Dos Santos
    Chamakh…Pavlyuchenko

    based on:
    a. Walcott, Benayoun, Squilly, Kos & Gerv aren’t definites
    b. feel Song needs to be in midfield to counter Modric & Van der Vaart

  27. corr SUBS:

    Walcott/Benayoun/Park……Lennon/ Dos Santos

  28. Hehe..not a betting man at all..but seriously..I think this time we have had our end of season shocker right at the start..with better understanding and key players returning, I believe a great winning run, or an unbeaten run is just around the corner, maybe from 10 games into the season, and we get something like 72/84 from the remaining 28 games, if we can have around 14 points from 10..i think its on..and I also we might see a record low championship winning tally this time around..

  29. Great post. I find Song to be an interesting fellow. I remember him saying he prefers playing defense to defensive midfielder. Which is opposite to Djourou! And yet I wouldn’t be surprised to see him flourish further upfront. Maybe he has the Marcel Desailly potential. The fellow was world class either in the midfield or defense.

  30. Aman, I wouldn’t like to see Jenkinson against Bale – with all due respect to the young man! Song at the back with either Frimpong or Coquelin in the defensive midfield role. If Walcott is passed fit both he and Gervinho should start. Spurs does have an interesting midfield. But the good thing with the North London derbies is that the more passionate team wins most of the time!

  31. What an excellent analysis Big Al.
    Last evening I finally had a chance to watch the entire game on my DVR and I can confirm that Alex Song is now the complete package. Paul N, in particular, has bravely suggested that he us the best all-round player in the League. Even through the red mist of an Arsenal supporter, this is by no means an outlandish claim. But Jibber and Luke and their fellow travellers are so far up the asses of Fergie and the ManScum, nothing but a big price-tag can ever satisfy them in their evaluation of a player’s ability. It puts to complete shame those so-called fans who booed Alex in that fateful game against Charlton at the Emirates in 2006. As recent as last year we had the hysterical criticism by the Le-Shitites and Arseblogger that Song thinks he is Messi because he has license to go forward. As far as they were concerned he should simply sit Makelele-like in front of the back four.Tells you how much they know about football.

    The other observation I made is the fantastic talent we have in Oxlade-Chanberlain. There are comparisons being made with Theo but they are two different players who may well compete for the right-sided attacker. While Walcott may have the superior speed I am impressed by the power of this 18 year old. He was a handful for the Greek defenders many of them, like Melberg, are seasoned rugged players. I was also impressed by his ability to go inside as well as outside. I am not convinced that Theo is as effective inside as he is out on the flanks. But I digress. My point is we had the usual naysayers knocking Wenger for paying £11-12 million for a young player suggesting that we should have doubled and trebled that figure to acquire a name brand player. Rather than support the manager with a track record for identifying talent at a reasonable price, they initially piled on the Ox, just as they did with Song.

    Thanks Big Al for confirming that the misery brigade have completely lost any credibility in my eyes.

  32. Great post.

    This carries on an interesting thread started by posters yesterday and I commend you for running with it. By concentrating on the players that we have, we begin to see our strengths and potential. Fab becomes a void, the interesting thing is how the lads fill it.

    For the benefit of anyone who is blind, short sighted or an Arsenal detractor, Song’s defensive influence over the past few years has been crucial. His skills, touch and anchoring have been great. A few seasons ago he sometimes looked a little clumsy, but lately has really begun to understand that fine line between when to go in and when to find other methods to break down an attack. Last season he even started to get on the score sheet and his assists this year (even from the CD position) have been at times glorious and game saving.

    The main problems for the team have been his backup (when he is not there) and his back line. I think the Frimp showed that he is capable of covering when needed now and we hope the back line starts to get back to strength soon also.

    As all the players leave the shadow of ‘the Chasm’ some will extend their games in unexpected ways and I am sure that Song will in part be extending his attacking ball and I look forward to it.

    The other big ‘unknowns’ are Diaby and to a lessor degree Wilshere. How are they going to respond to a Cesc free environment when they come back.

  33. First time ”poster” here, though I drop by every now & then to read some of the posts. Great post Yogi. I really enjoyed reading it.

    Its so heartwarming to know that Song’s contribution to the team is being recognised & applauded. The guy really deserves every praise coming his way ‘cos he’s taken an amazing amount of stick from fans (including me, i’d admit) in the not too distant past, thought i’ve always kinda liked him & the way he plays.

    Nice one Yogi, more inspiration to your keyboard…; )

  34. Kroenke also insists it is up to the Frenchman how long he wants to continue as manager at the Emirates Stadium.

    He said: “With Arsene, it’s his decision and only he will know that.

    “He still maintains himself in tremendous physical shape. You have to have stamina and energy.

    “Arsene has great energy and that will always be his decision.”

    Now despite this we will be told be the realists that a bad result at the lane and Arsene will be in trouble.
    How I would I have to see the faces of the Wenger hatters today.
    Stan’s statement is the best thing I have seen in a Donkeys age.
    Arsene is here until he no longer wants to be and that is tremendous .Seems Danny Fisman knew what was good for us right up until the end.

    Sky are saying Kossser is out for the weekend.No so good news. 😦

  35. Great piece, OOU.

    Song is indeed getting better and better. Tends to make less mistakes, dwells on the ball less, times his runs better, and even tackles better (he doesn’t do that clumsy clattering thing he does quite as much). His is maturing right before our very eyes into a beast of a player, and that is so nice to see.
    If half our other youngsters can develop in the way he has, we’ll be flying.

  36. Oh,how rude of me not to say what a great piece of writing from 1 of Us

  37. I much enjoyed Kroenke’s interview. I feel much better about him being our owner after reading it. We might not be the dominating force that some people want under him, but we will always be up there.

  38. Is the site broken?

    Not good news on injuries.Pffft.Useless medics 🙂

  39. Ok so Kos definitely out, sqillaci and benayoun back in training, and walcott and gerv decsions to left late..so song at centre half i guess…

  40. Not broken George, just very quiet… people out in the sun I expect! Wish i was too…

  41. PG

    Don’t know where you are but the sun is out and shining here. Who knew hotpants were so in fashion again?

    YW

  42. I’ve hardly had a single Fabregasm for, I dunno, seems like the whole year. Robin van Personally, I doubt I’ll have one again. But, still the goals are indeed flying in, so something must happening.

  43. lol YW, might slip into mine after work… My girlfriend doesn’t really like me in them though, her loss i suppose.

  44. I would risk Squillaci and play Song midfield.

    Yogi, you do know where I am . Blackburn.Not a hot pant to be seen up here. Unfortunately 😦

  45. hey great post. I think Cesc is still in in the team. The cesc we know was broken down into manageable sizes then shared among different players. Today I can honestly say Song grabbed the biggest share.

  46. Don’t tell me PG, now Wenger’s out! Although Kroenke pronounced him fit. We should not only fire the medics, but reverse the roles, put them on the operating table and give Diaby, with a manic look in his eye, a collection of scalpels to choose from, ably assisted by nurses Wilshere and Ramsey. In fact, Gervinho looks like he could wield a few sharp medical instruments with gusto, and I’m certain Arshavin could make some mischief as well.

  47. Is 3Gs back? Is Theo back?
    In which case, we should just play the same team as for Olympiakos, with Gervinho for Arshavin and Theo or Ox. Same difference. Frimpong in midfield is better than Squilly the Madnificent at the back.

  48. Saw this in twitter awhile ago, very funny @goonernick

    “Completed 2 of the hardest achievements on FIFA12 already. Score with Torres and
    bring Tevez on as a sub. Win using Spurs remains impossible”

    made me chuckle

  49. Paul,you know I was kidding about the medics? right?
    Lol,Gervinho looks like he has had a scalpel to his own forehead.

  50. http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/almunia-joins-west-ham-united-on-loan

    Good luck Manuel! Hope he gets some good performances under his belt. Feel sorry for the chap..

  51. Tazlent | September 30, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    Nice comment!

  52. I wonder what makes people think tottenham will roll over arsenal and win. I just dont get it. Why would tottenham win?
    They do no come across as a better team. They do come across as a top 6 team but not a top 4.

  53. West Ham? From playing against CL semi-finals to substitute keeper for championship team?
    If he is too poor for even midtable prem teams, how come he was our first choice for so long?

  54. Henristic,
    Perhaps because of the media witch-hunt ,and stupid pundits like Merson,and gullible fans like …err… i will leave that…creating the impression he was not good enough.
    That does not mean he is not good enough.Now does it?

  55. PD, me too. In fact, I’m normally kidding, and sometimes make a serious remark (in case anyon wondered). You need a sense of ridiculous to live where I do!

  56. You need that where PG lives too..! 😉

  57. Thanks for having my back last night Guys! dups, G69 and George. If there was anyone else, thanks.

    George, never for a moment did I think you were siding against me with sugafree!

  58. I am going to watch Rovers v City tomorrow.It is the only time I can cheer them on when they play one of our direct rivals.

  59. I have never been to Blackburn but it strikes me as one of the last places you would want to see the locals in hot pants. Sorry George, just sayin’!!

  60. Irishgray,you are not wrong there mate.

    My wife just said” don’t be singing (One Arsene Wenger ) at Rovers tomorrow.And she was serious.She is the funniest person I have ever known.(by accident)

  61. lol, Tazlent @1:30..
    .then we sent a fake Cesc back to Barca.
    One with an implosion date set for the night before the first leg of the 1st game of the CL’s last 16!

    AW knows indeed!

  62. Vermaelen due later than expected??anyone know how much later is later??

  63. George – I have to say I disagree with your wife as I think you should proudly stand up at some point during the game and start belting out ARSENE WENGER, THERE’S ONLY WANNN ARSENE WENGER!! Now that would be funny. Possibly fatal too but definitely funny 🙂

  64. I agree with the post.

    Song is immense and will only get better.

    Ramsey will get back to his confident self.

  65. Do it PG, I dare ya!
    And if you do it in hotpants, I double dare ya!

    You must sing loud, very, very loud. You will be an ACLF legend, a historical figure, features, books, movies about you, the “life and times of …” …

    We will sing your name on the terraces, there WAS only one Pedantic Goerge, and he took it tooooooooo far, only one bla bla bla bla.

    You can’t not do it now!

    Good luck! Remember, we’re there with you. Victory or death! You are proud ACLF volunteer for “Operation Certain Death”. We shall never forget you! I wish I was in your shoes.

  66. Shotta at 11.25

    Have you always been this childish?

    Lets set you a task. Try posting without having sneaky little sly digs at people and stick to the point at hand.

    Your a slimy character, Iago -esque. Whispering, abusing, tainting, slurring, attacking.

    Be in the trenches with you? Pah, you’d find an excuse to get carried away from the front line at the expense of your ‘friends’.

    In the future, try to not to abuse, and put words in my mouth when Im not around. Plenty on here dont like me, at least its dealt with in a tasteful manner.

  67. George

    I’m about 120 miles south of you and it’s a hotpant fiesta!

    YW

  68. Poor old Luke (at 3:08 pm). My digs at you are never sly. Pointed and sharp. You are a disgraceful supporter, and the latter word should be applied to you very advisedly.

  69. YW – Rumor has it that the only person who wears hotpants in Blackburn IS George. And that my friend does not a pretty picture make! 🙂

  70. Luke the fluke!

  71. Great point, Geo. As with the absence of Henry, the players who remain post Fabregas will surely come out from under the shadows. The players who have benefited most from the departure of Fabregas thus far, I feel, have been Theo, Song and Ramsey. These players were right at the cusp of breaking out when Cesc was here and now that the attention is evenly distributed they shine through.

    Kenyan, good call with regards to Song being similar to Desailly. However, I think Alex Song is a bit more refined than old Marcel. Marcel Desailly was all power and his brute force was what made him look better than he was. Alex, on the other hand, is a silky player trapped in the body of a bruiser.

    Luke, who are you to be setting tasks for anyone? You were rightly called out for your stupid comments. You even called Diaby a thief, for fuck’s sake.

  72. Can’t wait until hot pants become a fashion must for guys. Winters are going to be hillarious in Miami Beach. How can you see a whole bunch of European dudes wearing their hot pants and not laugh?

  73. Just Another Luke

    Hairy Redprick really has no class. He’s saying that Adebayor will be abused in an attempt to draw abuse which will, hopefully, fire up the player to an impassioned performance. Mind games.

  74. Just Another Luke

    … and in the other corner, we have Arsene trying to cool the situation and have a fair game minus the explosives as much as possible.

  75. George,
    You give waaaay too much importance to the media and pundits? Look how many different clubs try to sign Joey Barton for instance.

  76. Henristic the fact that he (Almunia) played for us is the answer to your question. He was good enough for us (arsenal) who cares if he isnt good enough for others in the premier league?Plus things change, he may not be good enough for us NOW for a number of reasons, like the emergence of the other keepers at the club. Remember when Shay was the alleged second coming of all our goalkeepers troubles? we didnt sign him and most of the blogosphere went nuts but what happened next, he wasnt good enough for city that season and ended up being displaced by Hart, where is he these days? Why didnt other big clubs come calling for him, Atleast Almunia played for a big club and not a mid table one (mancity at the time).

  77. Firstlady.
    I don’t mind Almunia being displaced by a better keeper. But given his experience, surely you’d think he’d find a better placed club than West-Hamon a 1 month loan? Its just,…. weird
    In the Shay Given case that you mentioned, fine he was displaced, but he is now Aston Villa’s 1st choice keeper. Can you not see how different Almunia”s situations is?

  78. Henristic.The media have an great effect on the average football fan.Because the average fan is none to smart.Because the average citizen is none to smart.
    If they were smart most advertising would not work.
    So I don’t put to much importance on the media and pundits.
    Seriously ,people come on here and repeat what Merson or Wright have said as if it is gospel.That is because they are just as stupid as them ,Therefore their” chat shit” opinion makes perfect sense to them.

  79. Given was “bigged up” by the media
    Almunia was “bigged down”
    That is the difference.Can you not see that?
    One is on a par with the other ,on ability,if you ask me.

  80. Chill the Thrill

    Almunia’s last act for this club was sprinting to the edge of the 18 yd box, crashing into Squillaci, and consequently conceding a truly laughable goal. Gotta love ol’ Manuel Almunia. Good luck.

  81. brain, knows is that there are only two successful models for football clubs – the Barcelona method and the Manchester City/Chelsea method. Obviously Arsenal can’t adopt the City/Chelsea model (and who would want them to? They are clubs without a tenth of Arsenal’s character and soul), so they have to imitate Barcelona. But the Barcelona method takes time (it is obviously not a well-known fact that Barca won nothing at all from 1999-2005, a barren spell not dissimilar to Arsenal’s current one, while the project itself was initiated by Johan Cruyff in the late 1980s).There are many reasons why the Barcelona method is preferable to the Manchester City/Chelsea method, the first being that it is more successful – Barca are comfortably the best team in Europe at present, possibly the best ever. The reason for this is that Barcelona produce their own world class players, and instill in them a sense of loyalty to each other and to the club – do not expect Man City to be buying Xavi, Iniesta or Messi any time soon.

    This is starting to happen at Arsenal – Jack Wilshere, England’s best answer to the likes of Xavi and Iniesta, recently rejected any rumours of moving to City by saying ‘Arsenal is in my heart’, while Emmanuel Frimpong testified on Twitter to ‘love Arsenal more than the person who founded it.’ Add to these loyal youngsters the likes of Aaron Ramsey and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, both of whom rejected Manchester United and several others in order to move to Arsenal, and you have a spine of loyal and dedicated players brought up in the Arsenal way, who, hopefully, cannot be swayed by the money that appeals to many other players.Arsenal fans simply need to be patient enough to allow these players to come through. Of course, Arsene has suffered a setback with the loss of Nasri and Fabregas, but neither was a fault of the football club – one player happened to be motivated by greed and the other by his own sense of loyalty to another club. But in the coming years, we will see a young, largely British, team, brought up in the Arsenal way, playing attractive and successful football. And they will do so at a financially secure club, safe in the knowledge that the fate of Blackburn (won Premiership 1995, relegated 1999), Valencia (won La Liga 2002, bankrupt 2008) or Leeds (Champions League semi-final 2001, bankrupt 2003, relegated 2004) will not befall Arsenal.

    To those Arsenal fans with doubts, I would say this: If you don’t support Arsene Wenger, and you don’t support his philosoph, and you don’t support the current team, then you are supporting nothing but a name. And supporting a name is as arbitrary as picking a raindrop on the window and hoping it beats the others to the bottom.

    I, for one, am immensely grateful for the fact that one football club is being run with idealism, intelligence and foresight, and there are no more idealistic, intelligent or visionary than Arsene Wenger.

  82. oskarmatzerath
    Today 03:21 PM
    Recommended by
    8 people
    Arsene Wenger fully deserves such an endorsement. He’s been the architect behind Arsenal’s rise to the elite level of world football, he’s won three Premier Leagues, four F.A. Cups, and led Arsenal to the Champions League in fourteen consecutive seasons. His achievements have been frankly remarkable, he’s universally respected by other managers (in recent weeks, Alex Ferguson, Felix Magath, Christian Gourcuff, Remi Garde, Marcello Lippi and Claude Puel have all recognised him as an all-time great), and without exception his players past and present regard with an almost filial affection.

    What Wenger, and anyone else with a functional brain

  83. Knowing our injury curse I`d hope Almunia has a release clause from this loan. He`s exactly the type of number 3 keeper you need in a squad.

    After last season I`m hoping the 1/2 week delay in TV`s return is just that & no more.

    I`d be tempted to continue with Song at CB on Sunday, Tis a real pity we only have one Song. Too big an ask for Squillers IMO.

  84. oskarmatzerath
    Today 03:21 PM
    Recommended by
    8 people
    Arsene Wenger fully deserves such an endorsement. He’s been the architect behind Arsenal’s rise to the elite level of world football, he’s won three Premier Leagues, four F.A. Cups, and led Arsenal to the Champions League in fourteen consecutive seasons. His achievements have been frankly remarkable, he’s universally respected by other managers (in recent weeks, Alex Ferguson, Felix Magath, Christian Gourcuff, Remi Garde, Marcello Lippi and Claude Puel have all recognised him as an all-time great), and without exception his players past and present regard with an almost filial affection.

    What Wenger, and anyone else with a functional brain, knows is that there are only two successful models for football clubs – the Barcelona method and the Manchester City/Chelsea method. Obviously Arsenal can’t adopt the City/Chelsea model (and who would want them to? They are clubs without a tenth of Arsenal’s character and soul), so they have to imitate Barcelona. But the Barcelona method takes time (it is obviously not a well-known fact that Barca won nothing at all from 1999-2005, a barren spell not dissimilar to Arsenal’s current one, while the project itself was initiated by Johan Cruyff in the late 1980s).There are many reasons why the Barcelona method is preferable to the Manchester City/Chelsea method, the first being that it is more successful – Barca are comfortably the best team in Europe at present, possibly the best ever. The reason for this is that Barcelona produce their own world class players, and instill in them a sense of loyalty to each other and to the club – do not expect Man City to be buying Xavi, Iniesta or Messi any time soon.

    This is starting to happen at Arsenal – Jack Wilshere, England’s best answer to the likes of Xavi and Iniesta, recently rejected any rumours of moving to City by saying ‘Arsenal is in my heart’, while Emmanuel Frimpong testified on Twitter to ‘love Arsenal more than the person who founded it.’ Add to these loyal youngsters the likes of Aaron Ramsey and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, both of whom rejected Manchester United and several others in order to move to Arsenal, and you have a spine of loyal and dedicated players brought up in the Arsenal way, who, hopefully, cannot be swayed by the money that appeals to many other players.Arsenal fans simply need to be patient enough to allow these players to come through. Of course, Arsene has suffered a setback with the loss of Nasri and Fabregas, but neither was a fault of the football club – one player happened to be motivated by greed and the other by his own sense of loyalty to another club. But in the coming years, we will see a young, largely British, team, brought up in the Arsenal way, playing attractive and successful football. And they will do so at a financially secure club, safe in the knowledge that the fate of Blackburn (won Premiership 1995, relegated 1999), Valencia (won La Liga 2002, bankrupt 2008) or Leeds (Champions League semi-final 2001, bankrupt 2003, relegated 2004) will not befall Arsenal.
    To those Arsenal fans with doubts, I would say this: If you don’t support Arsene Wenger, and you don’t support his philosophy, and you don’t support the current team, then you are supporting nothing but a name. And supporting a name is as arbitrary as picking a raindrop on the window and hoping it beats the others to the bottom.

    I, for one, am immensely grateful for the fact that one football club is being run with idealism, intelligence and foresight, and there are no more idealistic, intelligent or visionary than Arsene Wenger.
    Report
    Recommend

  85. that was someone`s answer to kroenk`s interview on the telegraph.

  86. Good pose Karim! I agree, a little more patience is needed. with the youth you mentioned plus others in the youth set up, I see a golden era for Arsenal soon. Oh, and Barca also spend a crap load of money that they dont have on players also (along with unfair amount of TV revenue), lets not forget that.

  87. George,
    You’re getting it twisted. Its not the average fan that is doing football transfers..

  88. No Henristic but it is the average fan who clubs try to keep happy.

  89. Jeez George, thats some le-grove thinking you doing there.
    I hope you don’t really believes that rubbish you’re spouting.

  90. Nice post OOU. Always been a fan of Song since I first saw him several years ago.

    Great win in the CL this week. Sunday’s game is even bigger. Me thinks the Spuds and Scousers and us will be fighting it out for the CL spot. If we can play well consistently especially at home we will be even favorites for a top 4 spot. If the Chavs can be gracious enough to melt down again perhaps we can sneak into 3rd place the way City did to us last season.

  91. I’ve been reading the finacial results foir the year and gazidi’s comments.

    Very interesting.

  92. Henristic,Are you saying that the public perception of a player has no effect on possible moves?

  93. Bill, its not a forgone conclusion that United and City will finish 1st and 2nd. They have looked quite normal of late, especially United.

  94. Just another cracker from Big Al. Nice read. Alex Song for me is one of the more versatile players in the league. He just seems to everything really well. I reckon he could do a job up top if needed as well. The way he shields and passes the ball is one of my favorite parts of his game. Easily one of my favorite footballers and it’s awesome to see him shining so brightly. I never understood the hatred he’s received and continues to receive from the Moaners. Geoff at Le Grove absolutely hates the guy. Really makes you wonder about those numbskulls.

  95. Cbob, what do you find interesting in the results and Gazidis’ comments on them?

  96. Paul-N, any team that unstable defensively and dependent on starting so many young players could lose the top position in the league despite a fast start. It happened to us in 2007-08, so the point is a good one. The league is not wrapped up by any means–it is a long season and if other teams do what Basel did, actually go at and attack ManU rather than roll over routinely, they could have problems especially while Vidic is out. Their keeper may also have ups and downs, just like Almunia did for us. The advantage they have is that there are still a number of veterans there who have won titles and might make a difference if the younger players prove inconsistent or injuries weaken the starting 11.

    As far as ManCity, hopefully the mercenary factor continues to undermine team cohesion. Plus the demands of multiple competitions could still prove a challenge despite the deep squad.

    The main thing for us is to build some momentum, start playing better, and get our injured players back to fitness. If some of our younger players step up as well (the Ox, Ryo, Ramsey, Frimpong, Coquelin), we could yet make our mark on the league or in a cup competition; it is a long road yet.

  97. I think Master Renoog is a fan too. Can’t imagine why.

  98. Nice article, Big Al.

    @YW 1:23pm

    Re hotpants, I agree, when did that happen? (Are these things decided by some secret fashion committee?) I went out in the early evening and – as you said – they were everywhere! Fortunately, I had taken my heart medication this morning.

    @Karim 5:16pm

    I was going to commend you for your heartfelt post, but then, in a swerve worthy of Yogi’s earlier in the week, you reveal that it wasn’t yours! I guess the kudos go to oskarmatzerath.

    @consolsbob

    Yes, I agree. Nice to see the debt coming down further. The drop in turnover is at first alarming but understandable in light of the phasing of the property sales. One would hope that as the new commercial deals start to kick in, the results will be even better next year. (Of course, success on the pitch would provide an even bigger boost!) Do you know what impact the new development on Queensland Road, right next to the stadium, has had or will have?

    @Paul-N 6:38pm and Limestonegunner 9:31pm

    Good points. It is very early days. Even last season, people were crowning Chelsea to repeat following their first few games, and we all saw how the wheels came off in such spectacular fashion. I’m not saying we will finish first or second, but I agree we could. I feel good about this season, despite the somewhat erratic start.

    Even though we lost against Liverpool, I particularly enjoyed the match because I felt I was watching a “new movie”, not the same one we have seen so many times over the past few seasons. This team is, in many ways, re-inventing itself, with the players trying to find out what works for them both individually and as a group. Inevitably, there will be some good days and some bad days, but I’m really excited about having the chance to watch this new team take shape.

  99. One more comment: what an interesting range of posts from the group this week. From Greek (and Trojan) history, to Beowulf and Iago – not forgetting hotpants. Keep up the good work!

    @OOU

    Re “Fabrechasm”, you reminded me of the headline for which I waited in vain after his departure: “No Cesc please, we’re Arsenal!”

  100. Apparently Spurs have the 4th stop in the bag, finito, done and dusted. they are also the best thing that ever happend in London. Oh dear it looks like we’re going to have to fight it out for the 3rd spot with Chelsea.

  101. What’s the “4th stop”?

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