Gremlins in the system. Revolution number 9

by & filed under News Review.

Hello you sexy little kitten you, god you’re gorgeous.

I was recently chastised by a friend for starting a blog with “Morning all” so I’m trying out different greetings. Let me know what you think of this one.

Its Alex here and sorry to be a day late, the site was down most of yesterday for some reason – I think the internet was angry. James may be posting later, so at least you’ll get two posts today for the price of one!

I hate to be the bringer of bad news but it seems we are saying goodbye to another Arsenal “legend” (and I do use that term loosely). Lukas Podolski is bogging off to Turkey for £2.8m, quite a good deal considering how little Wenger seemed to value him by the end. Also useful to have cleared his £100k a week salary off the books if wage bills are your thing.

How do we surmise Lukas’s time with us? Certainly a polarising figure, a marquee signing at the time, a scorer of great goals, a fan favourite and social media pro, but also… not a number 9, a lazy so and so, and a bit of a liability on the pitch.

I can’t pretend I was never in the pro-Podolski camp. I remember my frustration with the manager in one game two seasons ago when we were in desperate need of a goal, and LP was left festering on the bench. He was finally brought on in the 70th minute, hit the post twice then ambled around the pitch offering no cover to Gibbs and no support to Giroud. That summed him up for me. Potentially deadly but not a player you can carry in your team if you want to win the league.

As has been pointed out on here previously, it’s amazing how much love Podolski used to get from the fans, especially compared to Giroud, who put in 1000 times more effort and whose overall contribution was much more significant.

What Poldi’s transfer does now mean is that the cursed number 9 shirt is available. Players in that shirt (Jeffers, Reyes, Baptista, Park, Eduardo) have averaged something like four goals a season since the Davor Suker days, quite an unbelievable curse really. I’m not the superstitious type so would urge AW to sign a proper goal-scoring number 9 who has work-rate, pace and can hold up the ball. The only problem is there aren’t many of those around – Suarez, Aguero, Lewandoski, Rooney, Costa, Tevez, Ibra and….. Benzema.

Call me naive but out of all those players, Benzema is the only realistic target. If Madrid were to make a move for Aguero for example, they might want to get him off the books. He’d be such an exciting signing and a perfect fit at Arsenal.

Apparently we may also be sniffing around Barcelona’s Pedro, a tidy player but in quite a similar mould to Sanchez. This move is less exciting – the last place we need reinforcements is in the tricky inverted winger department.

Right I’ve literally run out of things to talk about as there is NO NEWS. I’ll return tomorrow with some proper political stuff (exciting!).

You can follow me on twitter @aldo_doel have a great day!


Remembering Le Bob

by & filed under News Review.

Morning kids – James here, covering for Pedro, who is off sampling the delights of Mykonos’ nightclubs and fetish bars.

I hope you all arrived at work safely this morning and didn’t die from the sweltering temperatures, especially if you’re in London. Personally, I love this weather and as someone who isn’t especially sweaty, I am able to fully appreciate the warmth. The state of some folk on the underground is quite alarming though, it must be said; with sporadic moans and saturated brows being wiped like a scene from Dante’s Peak. They are the weak and as evolution theory dictates, they will be the first to fall…

….Onto the football – it’s a relatively quiet news day, and week for that matter, in Arsenal-land. Rumours are circulating of a Sunday paper exposé about Gunnersauras and Rob the Chef having a bit too much fun in the restroom of a well-known Mayfair haunt. Personally, I don’t care about what they do in their spare time – as long as they continue their elite-level performances on match day, they can do as they please.

News ‘broke’ yesterday about players who have been released by the club. Whilst there were the annual raft of kids being slung off who didn’t quite make the grade, Abou Diaby’s association with the club has also come to an end. I have mixed feelings on the situation and view it as something of a dichotomy – I hold sympathy for him and the route his career has taken, but there has been widespread recognition this was the right decision, which echoes Alex’s rather excellent blog from yesterday. Diaby is a player who was divisive and split opinion during his brief periods of fitness, but I do sense there is a case of the Eduardo’s about him – not necessarily his talents, but his performance levels have been over-egged during his absence. When he was good, he could look very special – Anfield away a couple of seasons ago sticks out, as well as in the 2007/08 Champions League tie where he was excellent – but I can count those games on one hand. Whilst he had ability I always got the impression he lacked something mentally – quite possibly a result of the hardships he’s faced with constant injury rehabilitation and breaking down every ten games. The Vieira comparisons were utterly tedious too – he bore some similar traits such as his subtle touch and rangy playing style, but lacked Vieira’s aggression and ability to dominate games on a regular basis.

Many have also seemingly forgotten how wasteful he could be – my abiding memory will be of a player who spun away from a midfield marker, beat a couple of defenders and then slipped a pass out of play. Again, it could well be a manifestation of spending so long on the side-lines and not being able to gain any momentum or rhythm, but unfortunately we will never know.

I do have genuine sympathy with him however and admire his determination to make a career at Arsenal. The arguments of ‘how can you feel sorry for a guy earning £60k a week for doing nothing’ are totally boorish. The amount you earn doesn’t detract from the human desire for professional pride and satisfaction. I also don’t blame the club for standing by him. There have certainly been summers in the past nine years where we haven’t signed the requisite midfielder we need so as to not ‘kill Diaby’, but that hasn’t been the case for some time. I don’t get the impression he has been a guy Wenger has had in his plans over the last few seasons – if he got fit and could play and it was just a bonus and some extra squad depth, but I can’t imagine Diaby has had any bearing on Arsene’s transfer plans for quite some time.

Nonetheless – good luck Abou and thanks for the, albeit limited, memories. Hopefully he can carve out a career elsewhere, go into coaching; or most logically – retrain as a physio.

Meanwhile, it appears that Lukas Podolski’s move to Galatasaray is nearing completion – the fact we’re receiving a reported £2.8m for him is a minor miracle. Hilariously, Podolski’s agent told German rag, BILD:

“Wenger wanted to keep Lukas but couldn’t guarantee he would be a starter.”

Hmmm…I sense some serious ego-massaging of his client in this instance and it’s something of a paradoxical statement – Wenger really wants to keep your client, but won’t play him, despite paying your client £90k a week – something doesn’t quite add up. I must say he’s a player I am pleased to see the back of. Whilst his finishing ability was undoubtedly unparalleled at the club, he just does not contribute enough to general play for a modern attacker. He was lazy as sin and seemingly quite unfit – I recall an away game early last season against Leicester when he replaced Sanogo and was puffing out of his arse within five minutes, despite never breaking out into anything resembling a canter. His social media antics (or his PR company’s) were also irksome in the extreme – his constant professions of love for the club were never reflected by what he did on the pitch – a nothing player who we are better off without.

Speaking of left sided attackers, on this day in 2000 we signed my favourite ever Arsenal player – Le Bob. Pirès joined off the back of strong performances for Marseille (and scoring a hatful for Metz prior to that). His first few months in England fitted neatly into the ‘soft foreign player can’t adapt’ bracket, but when he finally hit his stride – what a player. Whilst I loved Bergkamp, Henry, Freddie and Vieira; the sheer grace and nonchalance of Pirès was staggering. Deceptively quick with his bowed knees, he would glide past players with unerring regularity and his finishing would be the envy of many an elite centre forward. He also played on the wing during the days of the fabled 4-4-2, meaning he wasn’t just an auxiliary attacker – he did it all. His triumvirate with Ashley Cole and Henry down our left flank is one of the seminal memories of that astounding team. His value as a player also appears to be matched by his nature as a man – the image of him lifting the 2001/02 title aloft with the squad bowing to him on the Highbury turf lingers long in the memory and is indicative of how his team mates viewed him. And that hair, that musketeer goatee – the whole package.

To end, I’d like to wish a happy birthday to Sol Campbell. I vividly recall the day we signed him – I was at a school football tournament (playing – not watching like a creepy voyeur) and my football coach told me we’d signed the Tottenham captain. I genuinely didn’t believe him – he was a Tottenham fan after all. It was a masterful signing and a one of a kind – he could have earned more elsewhere and avoided the vile vitriol that followed him ever since – but he bought into Wenger and Dein’s vision for club and took a chance. A fabulous defender – what a shame he’s such an ostentatious, self-entitled Tory-tosser.

On that note, I’ll leave you to enjoy the rest of your Friday and be back with you on Sunday.

Until next time x

Give me a follow @James_Willson2


Bye Bye Diaby

by & filed under Transfer Gossip.

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Morning all! Alex here.

Did you survive the heatwave? How did you celebrate – by eating an ice cream in a company meeting or leaving your favourite pet in the car to catch some rays? I’ve been laid up in bed with the worst man-flu of all time, so the searing heat has really helped things.

To coincide with the hottest day of the year, Arsenal released some players (conspiracy!). Among the fallen were Pedro favourite Jack Jebb and Abou Diaby, the one that got away. Clearly a talented guy who could never quite shake off those injury demons. I’m bored with discussions about whether he should’ve been kept on the books all these years, he clearly had potential and there was the desire on all sides that one day things would work. But this move is best for all parties. It can’t be easy going through what he has gone through, regardless of what he is paid. Having the talent to be a professional footballer but being unable to use it must be a thousands times worse than never having the talent in the first place. He always carried himself in the right way and I wish him the best of luck (I’m sure that’ll mean a lot to him).

In honour of the broken one, I thought I’d list my top three Diaby moments:

1. His goal against Villa in 08. Nice bit of skill, a barn-storming run and he made Eboue look good
2. That one game he had against Liverpool. Best player on the park, we all thought we’d found our new Viera
3. Kicking John Terry in the face. Arguably Arsenal’s greatest Cup moment in the Wenger era.

Share your Diaby memories in the comments below but don’t use the #ThanksAbou because its cringe.

In other news Jose Whatshisface has done a u-turn so big you can see it from space:

“I support the owner’s decision to honour the player in this way” Mourinho said in between drowning a bag full of kittens. “Petr has been a great servant for Chelsea for 11 years and helped this club to win almost everything there is to win.”

In other words, get back in your box little man, Roman is in charge. And as a punishment here is Tal Ben-Haim and Steve Sidwell. Good luck with the league bitch. Jose seems on the brink at the moment. Hopefully this transfer saga will be enough to tip him over the edge, force him into some kind of John Carver style managerial meltdown which will see Chelsea relegated and Fabregas sold to Dundee United.

Transfer sagas are rumbling on. Does anyone really think the Vidal thing is going to happen? From my extensive scouting networks on youtube he looks like the kind of guy we should be bringing in to add depth in the centre of midfield – tenacious, spikey, and another word that means tenacious that completes this triumvirate. However he does have dreadful hair. I can’t help but feel this is one that is being played up because of the Chilean connection.

Also with the signing of Cech – which is absolutely fantastic for so many reasons – it feels like we have bigger fish to fry. I get the sense, and I geuinely have no idea from where, that Dick Law is bobbing around in the Bundesliga this summer. A Reus here, a Javi Martinez there, maybe even a Bender or two? Who knows but this summer feel BIG.

Final thought for the day, who will be Arsenal’s breakthrough player this year? 13/14 was Ramsey. Last year was Coquelin. Could next season be the one where Wilshere or the Ox really deliver on all their potential? Could Theo finally turn into Thierry Henry and net 30 goals? What do you think? I WANT YOUR OPINIONS PLEASEEE.

Right that’s your lot from me. You can follow me on twitter @aldo_doel

Speak soon x