What Barry said to me 6 years ago and why I’m quitting + Poll Results.

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When I was a young lad, I travelled over to Marbella with a few chums. We hung out most of the week in a chav hole bar called Linekers. For those of you not familiar with the bar, it used to be one of the focal points in Puerto Banus. They had sport going on all day, easy women and rich footballers. When we were there we were lucky enough to share our stretch of bar with Lee Hendry and a young Gareth Barry. I was pretty hammered and ended up next to him in the unrinals (Sounds like a George Michael moment, doesn’t it?) … I embarrassingly asked him if he’d ever play for Arsenal to which he replied,

‘I wish… but I don’t think I’m good enough.’

A humble response. Needless to say I didn’t ask that little ferret Lee Hendry if he’d play for Arsenal…

So now the rumour has it that Barry wants to come and play for the Arse. Well, that would make sense to me for one reason and one reason only… his age.

If we can get him at a knock down price, he’ll have two years in him and he could help nuture some of the less experienced players through to maturity. Jet could do with learning from a classy player like Barry… as could Coquelin. Remember, Villa aren’t in a such a strong postion this year… they wont be getting £20million for him this summer… could be a very Wengerish move…

This could be one of my last Saturday posts for a while… not becuase I have a bad case of RSI… not because Geoff and I have been given our own Talk Sport slot… no… because Le Grove are giving you the chance to write a post. Oh yes… during the preseason we are going to reintroduce the failed guest post of a few years ago. I’d like to give the readers and commenters the chance to try their hand at putting their thoughts out to the masses. All you need to do is write me and e-mail, outline what you want to write about and if we like the cut of your jib… we’ll book you in for a slot.

You’ll be reading beleifs from both sides of the fence, hopefully you’ll enjoy it!

We’ll be announcing the winner of the Le Grove fantasy league tomorrow as well!

In other news, Eboue might be off… shame.

Have a great Saturday Grovers and remember, sun tan lotion is for girls.

Poll Results

How confident are you in Arsene’s ability to make us contenders again?

  • Confident: 39%
  • Confident: 26%
  • Unsure 20%
  • Lacking Confidence: 10%
  • Extremely unconfident: 5%

Votes: 2000

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Filling the blanks and shifting the Arsh somewhere else.

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Morning Grovers!

The topic of today is Andre Arshavin.

Since arriving on the scene he has entertained us with his dazzling skills and his endless quotable newspaper talk. Half comediene, half footballing genius… half misogynist… yes, I did the math and it all works out.

The tough question facing Arsene Wenger this summer is what to do with him. The Russian likes to play centrally, it’s where he plays the best and where he is used to playing. Being the centre of attention is how he likes it to be and he’s made that vocally clear. This isn’t a Hleb or Rosicky situation here, this is a truly world class performer requesting he is moved into the middle. So what does this mean for the team?

Well, the way I see it… it means that we are going to be seeing a lot more 4-5-1 next season. I know, I know… it pains us all. However, for me, I don’t see it as a bad thing. A 4-5-1 with the players we have going forward could be a fantastic set up… if we addressed defensive frailties this summer.

If you look at our squad, we seem to be top heavy with creative midfielders. We have Nasri, Vela, Wilshere, Rambo, Cesc, Arshavin, Rosicky, Walcott, Lansbury, Diaby… there is no way we can accommodate all of them unless we play with a 4-5-1… Arsene has been using it most of this season and watching Barca the other night made me think we could be operating in a similar fashion.We have lots of small technically gifted footballer who keep the ball really well… we’ve now added a goal threat into the mix and we have Rosicky coming back into the fold slowly but surely. We’ve lacked a striker with enough nous to play in that system, but I see no reason why Eduardo couldn’t play in the Eto’o role next season?

Robin Van Persie can play outwide or in the hole… Nik B can play in the tougher more physical games… and we have at least 3 other players who can move up top if they have to.

This is how I see us lining up regularly next year… obviously personnel can be interchanged…

Almunia

Sagna Blank Gallas Clichy

Blank

Walcott   Cesc   Nasri

Arshavin

Eduardo

The only issue I see there is defence. There are two possible blanks in the first team next year.

Firstly, there is no question that we need a great centre back to partner Gallas. Kolo is a bit like that old family pet dog everyone loves… he’s stinking the place out… but we love him… so there is no chance we’re going to black-bag-river-thames him… but we’d be happy to keep him outside, letting him in occasionally to make a gust appearance.

The second more contentious issue is the holding role. I think the long term plan for Song is central defence. He’s done better in the second half of the season, but he’s not top class and he doesn’t really have the pace required to make that position his own… which leaves Denilson.

Denilson has great stats, the 16th best player in the league this year… the 5th best midfielder. If actim are to be believed, he must be doing something right… however, according to the same stats, Berbatov has performed better than Torres by 50 odd places… Ryan Shawcross is a more polished performer than Rio Ferdinand (Maybe he can take Kolo’s place?)… and Dirk Kuyt has done more for his team than Ronaldo. Basically, take the stats with a pinch of salt or a smattering of grey…

Denilson is compact, a good tackler, an ok reader of the game and he’s got a good work engine. Does he live to shield the defence? Probably not… Does he have the physical presence to deal with ‘in your face teams’… not at the moment. Could he become great in the next 3 months? The jury is out…

The fact is, Arsenal need a great centre mid to win the league. Someone who can dominate with technical ability and power. Someone who can compete in the air. Someone the opposition fear… someone on the verge of greatness NOW.

You see, great players don’t need statistics to prove their value. Their skills are there for all to see… if you rely on statistics to justify your existence, chances are you’re probably not that great. Can Denilson make the jump to superstar in 3 months? If not, can Wenger sign a defensive midfielder in the same quality bracket as Arshavin because the fact is, one of those two situations has to occur for us to stand a chance of doing any damage in the title race next year.

Wenger can’t afford to make mistakes this transfer window… players wont hang around forever, their careers are too short to constantly live for next year. Thierry winning the European Cup was probably a bad thing… it proved that their can be life after Arsenal and if we continue to play for plaudits instead of silverwarwe I fear we could see others head in that direction.

I had two e-mails and a few messages from people saying that RvP told numerous people at the end of season dinner he was going to wait until he saw Arsenal’s moves in the transfer window before signing up this year. No one is asking for £40mill signings… we’re just after signings that signal our intent… I’m sure Robin feels the same.

Oh, and that singer I was talking about in my post the other day was Pixie Lott if you were interested!

So, tough decisions lie ahead for Wenger this summer… he’s going to have to kill someone’s career temporarily…  but if he makes the right choice, next season could be a very exciting!

Keep em’ crossed Grovers and make sure you e-mail in if you’re interested in season tickets!


Arsenal old boys whoop dire Mancs and pledge their love to us

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Well yesterday was the greatest night since the night before when Arsenal’s kids won the double, watching the hapless Mancs getting humiliated by two Arsenal old boys was almost as good at watching the academy side spanking the scousers at Anfield.

The arse kissing BBC sports correspondent Chris (I only got this job ‘cos my dad was famous) Hollins enthused about them being current world champions and the best Manc team ever yesterday morning, they interviewed all the trailer trash half wits they could find, showed their team practicing, talked to Lou Macari like they were old mates and said bugger all about out kids lifting the FA Youth Cup, not a dickie bird, it goes to show how biased the BBC really are.

Hey dipstick, they only played two games to get the World club championship, and one of the was a Japanese factory team. World club champions my arse.

Watching the other twat on Sky last night was equally funny, he was wacking skippy over the Mancs and how they were so dominant for 7 minutes (sound familier?) as Eto’o wacked in their first goal, at the end he and his boyfriend were talking like they knew all along that Barca were going to win, pair of muppets.

At the end of the Silvinhio and Henry show, TH14 told the world that Arsenal were in his blood and he’ll always love them, he even dedicated their win to Le grove for their unbending support for the maestro over the years, Thierry, we salute you.

Even though the transfer window hasn’t opened yet Arsene has been quick off the blocks to sign, wait for it… …yes, 15 year old wonderkid, Jamie Edge. I know we joked about it, but at least he’s English and not Uruguayan!

The Hangeland rumours won’t go away but honestly, where they come from, I’ll have money that Wenger has said nothing, I would still like Chelleini, having said that I bet Old Red nose is regretting letting Pique go eh? I’d have him in a heartbeat.

Have a great day today Grovers, tomorrow it’s Pedro’s post.

P.S. I have 8 season ticket loans going on… please e-mail in sharp if you want a chance to see your team next year!