Transfer run down… Arsene, this is how to plug a leaky Arsenal defence.

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Sometimes someone send in an e-mail that totally catches you by surprise. This morning I’ve got a guest post from Graham Yates about the leaky defence and the best way to go about plugging it.

A super read, enjoy… Geoff will be back on at 0900 with the Villa match preview.

Arsene was given another reminder of the recurring defensive frailties as we lost to Sporting Braga 2-0 in Tuesday night’s UEFA Champions League Group H match to leave us with a bit more work to do to secure safe passage to the round of 16. Interestngly, as I write this, in our current predicament we are only likely to draw one out of these four Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich or Schalke & possibly Lyon.

Granted, injuries haven’t been kind to The Prof, but irrespective of the sidelined Thomas Vermaelen , surely even he is aware that sooner rather than later he will have to find some experienced centre halves which, as well as TV5, includes 30 year old (was once good, but now not so good ) Sebastien Squillaci and 25 year French novice Laurent Koscielny , not to mention Johann Djourou who has been the most consistent and impressive of the three.

Wenger has been linked with moves for Bolton’s Gary Cahill, Brede Hangeland & Phil Jagielka all with Premisership experience, but was quoted a price he was not prepared to pay, as usual. You know how it goes, £4m for Schwarzer, but refuses to pay more than £2.5m, I mean, words fail me.

I have picked out five other centre-halves I feel AW should look at landing. They are all within budget & also age range so I think they are viable options as they are at smaller clubs than Arsenal and just on the verge of long international careers. All the ingredients are there.

Fazio doing a Cesc

Federico Fazio (Argentina)
Club: Sevilla
DOB: 17.3.87 (23)
Height: 1.95cm (6”4)
Value Euros: €7.5m to €10m

The Argentine with Italian citizenship is a complete defender with huge potential. He replaced Squillaci on his departure to the Emirates and appears to have a fantastic future in the game. Fazio can play as a central defender, on the left flank (Bye Gael!) and, like at the end of the 2007/8 season, as a defensive midfielder (Bye Denny!).

He is extremely strong and has very good heading ability. He is also quite fast and mobile for such a big defender, and his tackling ability is superb. His still could do with improving his technique and aggression though. Yet to make his debut for Argentina, but has experience at Under 20 & Under 23 level and has come through Sevilla’s youth ranks though has suffered a few injuries in his early career. We all know that Wenger likes a rough diamond, he is one.

Amorebieta racing Denilson

Fernando Amorebieta (Spain)
Club: Athletic Bilbao
DOB: 29.3.1985 (25)
Height: 1.92 (6”3)
Value: €10m to €15m

The Spaniard (though born in Venezuela) is an immensely strong central defender with excellent positional sense. He is fast and tall, which is a tough combination for opposing strikers to come up against. He has super-strong tackles and great vision for a centre back.

Amorebieta is a versatile defender, who can also play at left-back (Oh dear Gael, not looking good is it?) , and if he continues improving at his current rate, he will be a top, top player. Made debut @ 20 and has played 144 times in the Spanish Primera Liga to date which makes him a consistent Bilbao 1st teamer. Likely to replace ageing Puyol, Capdevila & Marchena and join Pique & Albiol in the Spanish squad after being 1st called up by Del Bosque in August 2008.

Rami after being nipple tweaked in November

Adil Rami (France)
Club: Lille
DOB: 27.12.1985
Height: 1.90 (6”2)
Value: €7.5m to €10m
Only ardent Lille supporters saw the potential of the Frenchman until then-coach Claude Puel gave him his first Ligue 1 minutes on the first day of the 2007-08 season after being bought from Fourth Division Fréjus. By the autumn, Rami had already become an essential component of the Lille defence playing in no less than 104 games scoring 7 goals. He is an extremely stubborn defender, with excellent positional sense and superb distribution and like Vermaelen has free kicks in his locker. His performances caught the eye of current France coach Laurent Blanc, and Domenech before him. Now has six international caps, and Rami looks like remaining at the heart of the France defence for years to come.


David Luiz (Brazil)
Club: Benfica
DOB: 22.04.1987
Height: 1.88 (6”1)
Value: €20m to €30m (Wenger has this sort of money we know that, though value rather inflated as Chel$ki & Etihad City are very interested)

The Brazilian is one of the most promising centre-backs in the world, with Internazionale his likely destination at this stage. Luiz is strong, fast and intelligent, and has the ability to move the ball with grace. He is also blessed with a great leap and good heading abilities and even played primarily at left back in the 2008-2009 season at Benfica. Luiz has such potential that even an injury-plagued two years he suffered from 2007-2008 shouldn’t scare off Wenger. Post World Cup he is now a regular with Brazil and now has 4 caps replacing the ageing and outgoing Roma defender Juan.

Too cool...

Benedikt Höwedes
Club: Schalke
Dob: 29.02.1988
Height: 1.87 (6”2)
Value: €7.5m to €10m

The German is a tall and aggressive centre-back, who is also quick and very good in the air at both ends of the pitch. He started to feature in the 2007/08 season and has been at the club since 2001, but really began to show his abilities the following campaign. Howedes is a versatile player, having plied his trade as a defensive midfielder as a youth player, while also possessing the capability to play as a full-back so much so that he has signed a new deal to June 30th 2014. With more experience, the 22-year-old should get even better and has already made 72 appearances for Schalke and has German caps at all levels from Under 18 through to Under 21’s. He is also right footed which which would compliment the left of Vermaelen, something which Wenger would find attractive. Of the five he looks the most likely to join.


Arsenal manager or neurotic parent? | Rambo gone | Cesc mystery…

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Okay in a  week of the worst football I have seen from Arsene Wenger’s best ever team I have to question the job description of our manager, is he a manager (yes I know he was the best, years ago) or is he a neurotic and over protective parent who can’t see he has ugly kids?

I ask this question because as a true Arsenal supporter, I am beginning to ask myself if he is losing the plot, the rest of the Arsenal management team have quite clearly lost it with the building of new restaurants dedicated to Arsene, whilst ignoring that the executive boxes aren’t being renewed and we are losing our young fan base to teams around us that win things, that people is a fact, only the management are so wrapped up in their own little bubble of outrageous salaries and bonuses they fail to see the woods for the trees.

If Arsene could pick a team that included Diaby, Denilson, Eboue and Song then he wouldn’t hesitate, all children from project youth and all no better than average. Yet Wenger puts them down as better than Pires, Vieira, Dixon and Bergkamp (in order of their playing position if Diaby plays in the hole)

Never mind the fact he thinks that Koscielny and Squillaci are better than Adams and Keown, or Chamakh and Van Persie are better than Henry and Bendtner is better than Wright. But if he thinks that Clichy is better than Cole and Fabianski is better than Seaman then I believe he truly has to sit back and listen to himself.

And before anyone questions the fact he said squad, I can bring in Pires, Freddie, Campbell and Gilberto if you want, however you cut it, it’s a stupid unbelievable statement to make!

Denilson has played over 180 games for us, he’s hopeless at best, how the hell has he got to play that many games, if you then add up the others that are average, it really does show how many players we are carrying, no wonder Cesc wants out.

He says the most important quality he looks for in a player is intelligence, I find that incredible, he thinks his players are smart!

Robin is truly a world class talent, but when do we give up on a striker that manages a third of the season at best? When is it time to say goodbye and bring in someone we can bank on?

When is it time to see all the average players for what they are, average, and sell them, when is it time to stop playing them when the whole footballing world can see how bad they are and bring in what we need? 3 years ago you said judge me in May, I did, but what May did you mean?

Mourinho once said you had the safest job in football, he was right, but it’s unhealthy and bad business, when Arsenal finally realise they are losing support, you’ll be long gone and it will be too late, it’s just a shame the rest of the management team aren’t that bright that they can’t see it.

Blogland has even turned against you Arsene, this is a selection of posts written since we capitulated against the spuds last weekend. Have a read. The Online Gooner (Link) for me is gernerally the website that guages fan feeling at the stadium the best, there are newer blogs calling for change and blogs that have been established for years also posing difficult. Nigel Winterburn and Martin Keown are also making very credible arguments about fundamental problems that a top class coach should not be having.

People who just think that criticising the manager is a hanging offence should look around, if other teams aren’t happy with their teams performances they let their managers go, teams that have done that? ManU, Chelsea, Madrid, Barca, Newcastle, Spurs, West Ham, Milan,Juventus, it’s not heresy to say you aren’t happy with losing.

In other news, good luck to Aaron Ramsey who has gone out on loan to Nottingham Forest for a month. If anything is going to get you battle hardened, it’s a trip down to the Championship. Hopefully he’ll come back raring to go for the new year.

It’s also interesting to read Wenger’s comment about Cesc’s ‘little bit of a hamstring‘ problem. An interesting turn of phrase considering the immediacy of Spaniards call to the bench when he strained himself against Braga. It’s also interesting that he’s going to back in 2 weeks.

Finally, the winner of the Dennis Bergkamp t-shirt competition in associated with Live Breathe Football and Lady Arse is….

Gary Cook

Who answered correctly with the player name of Wim Jonk! We’ll be in touch, well played!


Limited Edition Bergkamp Shirt

Have a great day Grovers, let the jokes roll…

P.S. I don’t even want to mention the lurid headlines on the front pages of many papers around the world this morning. Embarrassing…


Thoughts on Rambo return | Jack and Den apologise + Arsenal t-shirt competition!

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What? You want me to tell you about the amendments to the site? Oh.. ok… but just quickly, there’s a post to be written!

First thing you need to know is that we’ve abolished the contacts in the side bar. Instead, we’ve got a handy submission form in the contact bar at the top of the site. This allows you to type your message out and fire it over to me whilst staying on the site!

Incredible eh?

It comes through to the same place as it used to, so if you’ve got the normal e-mail address and prefer to use that… feel free! Please be careful to put the your correct e-mail addy in , if you don’t, I can’t reply!

I’ve also changed the twitter address, you can now get us @LeGrove . We’ve done this to make it simpler to find us!

We’ve also introduced ‘Like’ Button at the bottom of the post. Click that if you like what you read! The twitter button will also post a link of the post to your feed… which is great if you’re a proud Grover. Maybe not so great if you’re one of the many who slag us off, but secretly read… little perverts!

I’ve had a tidy up with all the buttons in the side bar and you can still e-mail me any spares you might have because the chances are, I’ll find you a buyer.

Onto the post!

So word from the training ground is that everyone is extremely excited about Aaron Ramsey. He’s the great red hope of Arsenal football club and there are whispers that he could be an even better player than Jack Wilshere. According to the stats, he makes more tackles than anyone during game and he covers the most ground. He’s like Flamini with a footballing brain or a hybrid of Steven Gerrard and Emmanuel Petit.

Basically, he’s a big deal.

I’m a little worried about his return…

My big concern is that there are obviously going to be mental scars associated with a return to the hustle and bustle of Premiership football. Not just that, there are going to be the niggly injuries that are associated with a bad injury. He’s a ray of light on a cloudy horizon. I worry about the disappointment that might be associated with Rambo rejoining a team that isn’t playing very well.

It feels like there’s already a lot of pressure on him and an intense spotlight on his every move. I’d like him to come back into a team that is playing well and I hope that the fans are going to give him an easy ride. He’s suffered an incredibly nasty injury… but I’m pretty sure if he gets back to full fitness we could have a player who could take over the Song role that he’s currently having a nightmare with.

Imagine a midfield trio of Jack, Cesc and Rambo. Can you imagine a flat passionless performance with those terriers in the middle of the park? I can’t and I’m getting a little too excited thinking about it…

His attitude is second to none, read the Ramsey interview for the lowdown on where he is with his fitness.

If you don’t think Gazidis is on the Le Grove mailing list, look no further than the apologies from Denilson and Jack Wilshere yesterday. I asked whether we were going to get one from Cesc at the weekend after he apologised to the Spanish fans. Looks like we’ve got what we were looking for and the players should be commended for doing so. I’m not looking for a ‘sorry’ after every game, but when fans have travelled a long way to see you play, it’s the least you can do.

Martin Keown has a written a good piece about what went wrong, I can’t disagree.

The best way they can apologise is for them to pull themselves together and turn in a super away victory at Villa Park this Saturday!

How about a competition? Ok… How about a really tasty t-shirt from Live Breathe Football in partnership with Lady Arse?

Limited Edition Bergkamp Shirt

Ok… let’s go… here is the question.

Dennis Bergkamp was sold to Inter Milan with which Ajax team mate?

Answers send through the contact form, make the subject title ‘BERGKAMP COMPETITION’.

Good luck, competition winner is announced tomorrow!

See you in the comments!

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