Good morning and welcome to another terrific week of Arsenal basted action. It's a big one, we've got a game against Liverpool on Wednesday, followed by the visit of arch rugby league rivals Stoke at the weekend. Those are 6 hugely important points at stake...
Yesterday made Saturdays win all the more enjoyable. Spurs went out to Leeds after putting in a miserable performance at home. Liverpool also embarrassed themselves against Oldham conceding 3 goals in the process as they ducked out the cup.
We have a massive chance to win the trophy... Blackburn at home is a draw that is as easy as they come. No doubt plenty of people will tell you that's a tough game, just like countless people who tried to claim Brighton away (A Championship side sitting 7th) was a tough game. Simple fact is we're a team full of internationals who should be brushing aside far weaker sides with ease.
We beat them, we should beat Blackburn... an FA Cup would be a fantastic achievement for the club. The fans would love it and it doesn't have to come at the expense of 4th.
Rumours are hotting up around David Villa. Apparently he wants out, something that was reported in the press last week... and apparently Arsenal are still desperate to snatch him. He's a great player, he'd certainly add something because he's so clinical, I'm just not sure how he'd figure in our set up. Still, versus Chamakh or Nik B... you really have to say he'd mark a major improvement. We'd have 3 pretty good strikers.
Diame has apparently told friends he'd like a move to Arsenal. £3.5m is such an easy purchase for someone who is fit and Prem ready. We need bodies and we need them badly. 2 still isn't enough, but it could be enough to see us take 4th. The state we're in, that would be massive.
The mess the league is in at the moment is quite shocking. I can't quite put my finger on it. On the one hand, it'd be very easy to blame quality. On the other, I'm looking at La Liga outside the top 3 and questioning how much quality they've got. Still, at the very least it's hugely entertaining, it's only worrying me because there's so much competition for those CL spots...
In other more entertaining news, Usmanov has spoke to L'equipe about stuff he likes doing. Fencing is his main passion. Not the erection of a garden partition between two properties... oh no, he likes to whip his sword out and fight his friends.
"I practiced for ten years. I started school and I went up to the national team of Uzbekistan. I even won some competitions with the sword, including at the USSR. Fencing is, as you say in French, my first love.'
I love that a man so large could have the mobility to fence... I find it strange that fencing can be a passion, but then again, I'm a big fan of golf, so I can't judge. Anyway, this next quote about Arsenal was perfect.
"For now, Arsenal do not seem to need me. But I remain convinced Arsenal should only have one goal for each competition: first place and to win. All other theories are only hypocrisy that covers weakness."
I read far too many Arsenal fans talking about trophies like they're the enemy. That a season is about the taking part type stuff... that Arsenal have had many dormant periods of trophy drought. That's fine, point taken, but the simple fact of the matter is that times have changed. We're no longer that small club that plays at Highbury. We moved, spent out a shed load of cash on creating a master piece of a stadium and we're yet to create any history in it. That's poor...
No one is entitled to trophies every year. However, certain clubs have an infrastructure that demands you at least compete for them. Simply put, if we don't compete for trophies, our business model fails and we die as a club. That stadium is not built around mid-table obscurity. In exactly the same way United's and Barcelona's isn't. You can bleat on about Arsenal's history all you want, but that doesn't disguise the whole point in moving to a new stadium with the finest corporate facilities in the world.... to be the best.
The club of now is about being a market leader. The business model has been designed to maximise revenue from a hugely successful era. We're no longer punching above our weight if we win things, we're par the course. Traditionalists move over, because Alisher Usmanov has it nailed on. Anything other than first is a failure and that's the mentality all the best clubs, companies and business people have in the world.
An interesting snippet into why Thierry isn't wearing an Arsenal shirt at the moment is here... (Do you think Thierry was let go too early posed as a question to Alisher)
"I take your question as a provocation. I do not own enough shares to be the decision maker, I do not have total control. But I like many players, I am in contact with some.
"And perhaps my favorite of all in the last ten or fifteen years is Thierry Henry. He pushes me to buy all the shares of Arsenal. But I cannot predict the future. It's no use."
Very interesting. Thierry sees the problems we're facing under Kroenke as well. Still, I wouldn't get too excited, it'll take a minor miracle for Stan to sell up. He has no history of doing so and it looks like he's grooming his son to eventually takeover.
My final piece is on the banner that was unfurled at the end of the Brighton match reading, something along the lines of 'thanks for the memories Arsene, now do one'. I'm not a massive fan of banners, I think they're ineffective and generally rolled out for the newspaper effect. Everyone is entitled to a protest, but this is the modern era, when people say... 'how else are the board going to know we're hacked off'... well my friends, there's this thing called social media and people like me (who work for digital marketing agencies) can report on exactly how the fans feel for a minor fee. Not to mention the fact that the Arsenal PR machine keep pretty close tabs on Twitter and the blogosphere.
They'll have a far more accurate feel from analysing mass attitudinal data over the last three days than they will over one banner put together by 6 people. Just to put into perspective what you can get from social data... there were 69,000 mentions of Arsenal from the UK this weekend, compared to 552,000 pumped out globally. Arsenal will be paying someone to make sense of this, so they'll know exactly how we're all feeling. It doesn't need a blimp or a banner to air concerns.
Simple fact is, if you want the board to really take notice, that'll only happen if you don't go to the games... or, boo on mass and make the managers position untenable. Neither are likely to happen, so we have to face it, Ivan can't sack Arsene because he won't want that on his CV, Stan won't get rid of him because he makes him too much money... so we're stuck with the manager until further notice.
Right, plenty to chat about. See you in the comments.