Arsenal AGM… all the goss from Wenger, Gazidis and PHW

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I arrived at the AGM expecting a sanitised white wash and to be honest, my preconceived thoughts weren’t a million miles off. It was held just outside the new WM Club. The tea was handed out and the milk was balanced on a frisbee sized table. This cunning plan forced you to talk to whoever you were standing next to so a bit of Arsenal networking went off. I found myself chatting to an SSN roving reporter who seemed as shocked as anyone about the lack of funding on our backline. I listened to the Arsenal press officer tell him the rules about the AGM which was interesting.

I also heard and insight into the power of agents. There was a channel 4 documentary about Tiger wood and how his sports management company kept a whole bunch of things quiet for him because of the power his team wielded in the press. Put it this way, if the two reporters I spoke two know what they’re talking about, Rooney has been a naughty boy and Sir Alex has done him a favour leaking the story as he has…

Anyway, back onto the AGM… I took my seat next to @DarrenArsenal1 and began tweeting the news to  @Arsenal_Legrove

Arsenal had 45 members of the fanshare program in attendance. Every steward thought I was in with that rabble… cheeky buggers.

Net debt fell to £135million, the only payments we have to make now are debentures and out long term mortgage.

I thought there was a slight dig at Usmanov. Gazidis said that the shareholders not demanding a dividend had allowed Arsenal to pay back the debt quicker and function far better than its rivals.

Gazidis spoke about his now world-class commercial management team. Apparently they’re going to take our revenues to new levels over the next few years. Someone did ask how Arsenal would report such healthy profits once the property had all been sold, to which PHW said, ‘our new team of highly technical graduates from West Africa will take care of it’. He also said we can expect 2-3 years more worth revenues from property

Vic Akers had a shout out for putting together a world class ladies team and starching a football shirt with great care and ease. He also bagged himself and OBE. Arsenal Shorts will be pleased!

Someone asked why the cost of financing doubled, apparently it was because the Highbury Square loan was refinanced (I tend to switch off when I  hear numbers, apologies if I’ve got some of this wrong)

There were two pretty shameful questions, one was about the standard of the catering. Get a life sunshine, if you’re going to football for the food and you don’t like it, take a packed lunch. The second was about how loud the PA system was. The guy who asked that question was in his twenties, as punishment he should be put in an age machine and taken to 74, an age where that question would have been acceptable.

Some creep stood up and asked if Wenger would be offered a place on the board, because he clearly doesn’t wield enough power as it is! PHW said he wouldn’t have the time.

An interesting question was about whether Arsenal fans should be expected to pay for ATVO when they pay such extortionate prices for their tickets. Gazidis said his team had recognised this was pretty unfair and would look into it.

Maria stepped up and asked whether Arsenal would be able to play their reserve games at Underhill because they can’t watch them in Colney due to planning permission. Apparently Arsenal will play 4 games there, but Steve Bold and Liam Brady like playing on carpet like pitches in the winter, so unfortunately, no more reserve team football at Underhill.

Someone asked About Lady B’s shares and whether Stan was planning to buy them. Stan sat there sullen and silent. PHW bumbled through the question and said he didn’t know what she was going to do with her shares. The man asking the question said he thought Stan was one of the good guys… not sure why he’d think that, when someone takes the no comment approach on the Bill (Police soap), I normally think they’re guilty of something…

Arsenal appoint Mark Gonnella as Communications Director. He joins from previous role as Corporate Affairs Director at Barclaycard, something that wasn’t mentioned. Hopefully he’ll shake up our PR department!

A more mature gentleman stepped up and went on a mini tirade about the lack of defensive stability we have considering the funds available. He said the keepers were the worst since Jimmy Butterfingers… apparently a famous character from a Dick Tracy cartoon?

Something that angers me is the AKB groans you get when someone voices a question that might put the boss on the back foot. This happened a lot last year, but this year, the groans were quickly over powered by applause. It was a great question and a pertinent one at that. PHW took the question and pulled every AKB line in the book… Wenger knows more than us, there are only 3 players in the world with the technical proficiency to play for us, we don’t want to spend £80million on a player, think of the god damn CHILDREN!

At this point, Arsene took to the mic and freestyled his way through a rousing speech. He announced that he’d signed a new 3 year deal to rapturous applause (no trophy for 5 years and we’re still clapping like epileptic seals, that’s real class eh?). He said he took much ‘advices’ (<– I didn’t have the heart to pull him on a made up word) from Arsenal fans all over the country, but asked us to trust him. He admitted he’s made mistakes but he thinks this team can win this year becuase of team spirit and a maturing core.

He said he preferred to bring players through the ranks because they are educated here and the fit in quicker. I found this a bit of a contradiction. It took Song three years to fit in and it’s still being debated whether he has. It’s taken Chamakh a month! Interestingly he said that money hasn’t been a problem. He has assurances from the board that there are funds available in January if he wants to sign 1-2 players. PHW had earlier said Wenger has never been refused money, he just chooses not to spend it.

There were many questions around big games and why we couldn’t deal with them. Wenger said this wasn’t down to his kamikaze approach to defending, he said it was down to the fact we conceded first then chased the games and lost by more.

“At the top level the team that scores first will win 62 per cent of the time. 70 per cent of the time the first goal scored guarantees you a draw. That means 79 per cent of the time when you score first you will not lose in a ‘big’ game.”

It was a bit of a confusing curve ball. The Grovers (Gambon) got to work on those comments and came up with the following:

Barca 2010 (L)
Man Utd 2009 (L)
Spurs 2009 (W)
Chelsea FAC Semi (L)
Liverpool @ Anfield 2009 (D)
Liverpool @ Emirates 2008 (D)
Man Utd @ Emirates 2008 (W)
Liverpool in CL (L)
Liverpool in CL (D)
Old Trafford 2008 (L)
Stamford Bridge 2008 (L)

Won – 18%
Drew – 28%
Lost- 54%

I make it 15 times weve gone 1 down, and 1 time we’ve won…..so when we go down we tend to win 6.6% of the time, very embarrassing.

We have also kept 3 clean sheets in our last 26 big games (top 4 league games and bigcup games)

So, some strange comments indeed…

Wenger confirmed what I told you on Wednesday. Thomas Vermaelen is out indefinitely. I reported he could be out for the year, when I said that, I meant for the rest of 2010. Wenger blamed poor international pitches. It was the same for the Cesc injury as well. Just remember, LG is where you’ll get the best info!

Wenger said we’d go for ALL trophies this year and that he was confident Cesc loved the club enough to give us 3 additional season. I’m not so sure, Wenger used to be great at keeping players who wanted to leave, I’m unsure as to whether he’s persuasion powers are failing him these days… we’ll see!

He also said he criticises himself, possibly on LG, I couldnt’ get confirmation on that. Cesc will not play in the Carling Cup, but a strong team will be fielded. He will not entertain 2 holding midfielders.

Fair play to Arsene though, he took all the question and gave good answers. I doubt there are many managers in world football who’d do that. He asked us to be optimistic going forward and trust in him… what do you think?

Let us know in the comments!

Happy Birthday Arsene!

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We need to win at City says Tomas + Arsenal AGM Today!

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Little Mozart said yesterday we have to stop with the ‘we were unlucky’ excuses and start to deliver against the top teams, he’s bang on there, if we want to win the league we need to start winning away against the top four, five and six.

We won’t have our best player, Jack Wilshere, but we will have Cesc and Theo and those two can put a dent in anyones defence, with Nasri and Chamakh having a purple patch we are starting to deliver.

I thought Djourou had a good solid game and he is starting to look like the big lump I have been crying out for at the back, if he continues too improve then Wenger will have some tough choices to make, for me always play the form players, not your favourites.

Much was made of our 5-1 win on Tuesday, yes it was awesome, but was I alone in thinking we were average at best until we scored the second? We need to come out the traps on fire on Sunday, we need to have a shot when one is on and not try for the perfect goal, and we need to get an early one too.

They have two players that can hurt you in Tevez and Silva, if we keep them quiet then we can out pass them everywhere else.

I also read that Denilson thinks it’s time that Brazil called him up, hmmmm and that’s the problem with a lot of players these days, Rooney thinks he’s too good for the Mancs, he thinks he deserves more, well as an England fan Wayne, I think you are so far up yourself you’ve forgotten how to play football. First time I can remember feeling sorry for rednose, I sure hope we don’t enquire, there’s about a dozen I’d have ahead of him and 3 of them we already have.

So a big test coming up for our newest centreback pairing, I think they’ll pass the test, the rest of the team is looking slick and I thought Theo looked sharp and somewhat bigger, or was that just me?

Have a great day Grovers, Pedro goes to the AGM later, follow the @arsenal_legrove for all the news as it happens and tune into his full report tomorrow!

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Nasty Verminator Rumours \ Rooney snippet \ Arsenal take Madrid record!

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What a bloody night eh? Arsenal absolutely dismantled the finest defensive unit in Ukraine with embarrassing ease. 5 goals in any Champions League game is an incredible achievement, to have scored 14 in our first 3 games, well, it’s good enough to take Real Madrid’s 8 year record! A stunning achievement in a group that many predicted could be troublesome.

Eduardo returned to field late on and managed to sour the night for me with a late finish, the fans cheered like he was some sort of charity case, each to their own. I find it interesting how the world wide web normally talks about the home crowd at the Emirates as classless prawn sandwichers, yet now they’ve cheered Eddy, they’re classier than a 9 out of ten come dine with me dinner party. I’m pleased Eddy has found another club, he’s a superb character, but I’m a club before sympathy goal person, heartless as that may sound… last night, the last thing we needed to do was concede another sloppy goal.

The line was chopped around a bit from the weekend with Cesc and Rosicky replacing Diaby and Arshavin. Both needed a recharge before the City game and what a pair to bring in eh?

The game didn’t start at the pace many had hoped for. Arsenal controlled possession with ease. The Shaktar attack, though full of flair seemed toothless and easily managed. The Ukrainians were more than happy to defend deep and allow us to whip ball after ball into the box.

Our first goal came from a corner, the Jens Lehamann lookalike in goal claimed it, dropped it behind him, Song pounced and tried a silly trick which hit the sliding defender, rebounded back against Song and into the net! A goal, but boy did he make hard work of it! Song peeled off and made a heart sign to Geoff up in club level!

Arsenal perked up after the first goal, Chamakh cushioning a long ball back for Nasri to volley at the keeper.

Jack showed his pleasant streak again with a nasty ankle cruncher on Hubschman. He complained, but he was lucky to escape card free there. Comparisons to Scholes seem to work on many levels!

Just before the break, Song whipped a cross in off the back of the Shaktar full back, Nasri pulled the ball round the back of his marker, peeled away and roofed it past Jens.

All talk at half time was of Arsenal taking it easy. Within the first ten minutes, Song lost the ball and allowed Luiz Fabiano a one on one which Fabianski did well to save.

Arsenal won a penalty when the same striker thought he’d rugby tackle JD to the ground. If man mountain JD drops, you know you’ve made a mistake. Up stepped El Capitan to bury home a penalty high and left! He ran off towards the cameras to show his mum the birthday card he’d forgotten to send in the post. Very clever!

Arsenal weren’t going to allow Shaktar back into the game. The ball went up the other end, Chamakh laid it off to Jack, he bounded towards goal, played another one two with Rosicky and chipped the keeper as he made an attempt at saving! A sublime finish from the Englishman! It’s like having two Cesc’s in the side!

The 5th goal was pretty humourous. Eboue did well to bring the ball back into the mix with a mazy run, he passed to Nasri who dinked the ball over the Shaktar backline, Chamakh though he was offside as he ran towards goal, realised he wasn’t in the nick of time and put it into the net!

At this point, there were mutterings online that people would like Eduardo to score a goal. As a competitor, I would never want to concede especially when clean sheets are about as regular as a Liverpool win these days. There was also a lot of talk of Eduardo being an Arsenal legend. Steady on there people…

Anyway, anything I don’t want to happen usually does (Megan, how could you get married?), well, sure enough, Squillaci showed a distinct lack of drive to dive in allowing Eduardo to guide finish home. That cost us another clean sheet. We have a worrying trend of conceding this season and against City, there’s every chance conceding one goal could cost us points. Our attackers can’t be relied upon to score 5 every game.

Eduardo received a good send off and the Arsenal fans (the few that bothered to turn up) restored their reputations as the best in the World.

Other Snippets

Rumours are rife on the interweb that Vermaelen could be out for the year. After doing some digging, all I can confirm is that he is struggling with pain in the ankle (Achilles I believe) and there is no time line. I’m pretty miffed, I thought he was bionic? Anyway… at least with the Belgian, you know he’ll be back as soon as he is ready.

Another rumour I picked up a few weeks from a bird on the wire is that Wayne Rooney actually visited the Arsenal training ground and had a medical before he went to United a few years back. Another one we missed out on, but a player Wenger clearly felt he’d get value for money out of. If it’s not about money, could Wayne be a potential target? Unlikely… but we’ve got the money and we paid Thierry Henry £200k a week.

Ratings:

Fabianski: A solid game from the Pole (<–I was going to use a term I’d heard in a US crime drama to describe him, didn’t realise it was racial slur, dodged bullet eh!). I’m not too sure about the flying punch to clear corners, I’d prefer he caught the ball, but anything is better than him turning it into his own net. He’s growing in confidence, lets take it a game at a time. 7.5

Clichy: Not much to do down the left last night, but he got involved going forward and didn’t make any mistakes. 6.5

Eboue: I thought he had a very solid game defensively. Going forward in the second half, though often directionless, he was a threat! You can’t help but smile when he’s on the pitch, he’s the Disney of footballers! 7.5

Squillaci: Should have done better for the Eduardo goal, I’d have liked to have seen him put more of his body on the line. Hopefully he’s saving his courage for the weekend. Did well to soak up Shaktar pressure in the second half. 6.5

JD: Won the team a penalty and played much better than he did at the weekend. JD needs games to improve, lets hope he can stay fit. 7

Song: Bagged an assist, a goal and put in a fine performance in the middle of the park. Commentary raved about how no one sits in front of the back four permanently and Song is bold getting forward. This tactic of players who can interchange to defend sit in front of the defence is one that Geoff has pushed for ages. I’m sure it can work, but I don’t think we have the personnel right now and against the big boys, we’ll get found out. Perhaps this tactic is one for a midfield of Rambo, Jack and Cesc… we’ll wait and see. It worked tonight, Song was brilliant. 8

Cesc: What can you say? The master is back in the team and the passes flowed like hookers at a Carlos Vela hotel party. Our brand of football is noticeably improved when Cesc is in the team and last night he proved why he is the best in the business. 8

Jack: Jamie Redknapp had it right when he said Jack’s nasty streak is going to stand him in good stead. He can look after himself, he cares about winning and his technique is on a different level to anyone else in the English game at the moment. He was involved in everything including tracking back, he even got on the score sheet! This boy is immense and it’s a pleasure watching his game improve game by game. 9

Rosicky: Never quite has the same impact he does when he comes off the bench, but he worked his socks off tonight and he’s very intelligent with his passing and movement. A solid game, wish he could add goals to it! 7

Nasri: A superb goal and a very good game from where I was watching. It’s sometimes difficult to pin-point exactly what he brings to the team. I see reliability, work rate and goals this season. He’s growing as a player and I’m hoping to see more assertiveness in his game as the year goes on. 7.5

Chamakh: To hear people talk about him as average is embarrassing. I think he has great passing, superb movement, he can head the ball and he fits perfectly compliments our set up. A very good game from him last night, I hope he can knock a couple in for us at the weekend! 8

Subs:

Big D: Made a couple of passes using both feet. 6

Theo: Had a nice shot. 6

Arsh: Nearly won a peno. 6

Geoff’s Score Prediction: 10

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