Monday init

by & filed under Transfer Gossip.

Hello and welcome to Monday – I feel like a hot bag of shit this morning, so I trust this finds you in somewhat finer fettle. Due to this, a lack of news and me having to actually do some work, this is a short one today.

So, a new week is upon us, which can only mean another week of banal transfer guff, pictures of players puking their guts up at pre-season and Alexis doing terrible things to his dogs after the excitement of the Copa America victory. On that point, I spent a significant portion of Saturday evening watching vines of his delicious panenka in the shootout (amongst other things).

Remarkable nerve and bottle to pull that off in such a significant moment, with the hopes of a nation resting on his shoulders. I suppose, whilst it is risky and you look a prized tit if you miss; most goalkeepers wouldn’t expect the audacity at such a critical moment. Well done to him – it’ll be interesting to see when he returns to the Arsenal-fold – hopefully Arsene puts his foot down and mitigates Alexis’ enduring thirst for exercise. Strap him to his bed and stick him on a drip of saline solution for a week and he’ll be good as new.

I do have a rather shocking confession to make – I find Alexis’ chiselled abs and body as whole to be rather grotesque. It’s just too ripped and sinewy. Gain a bit of gut, let the love handles lose. I’m sure there are plenty of ladies (and men) who’d disagree with me, but he’s just not my type. Need something to hold on to….ahem.

Onto transfers, there have been rumours circulating that Benzema could be deemed surplus to requirements by Benitez at Real. If there is any truth in this, we should be on it like a fly on a freshly laid cow pat. In my previous post I commented on the lack of quality centre forwards in the market, as evidenced by Liverpool’s ongoing pursuit of Benteke, but Benzema is top drawer. He’s been at Madrid for nigh on 6 years, with the majority of those as their first choice number nine. At a club as ruthless and downright mental as Real, you don’t last that long if you’re not of the requisite quality – he’s a truly top-level performer and would certainly take us to another level. Whether it’s plausible is another matter completely – I do wonder if we’d stump up the kind of money they’ll be demanding for a player about to turn 28 and with zero resale value. That being said, our acquisition of Cech is hopefully evidence of Wenger ‘buying for now’, with the realisation setting in that ready-made solutions are the answer to making a genuine fight for the title.

I’m intrigued to see what further activity there’ll be at Arsenal this summer – save for Cech, there’s been minimal links to incoming players, certainly in comparison to previous seasons. It’s actually been a fairly quiet summer across England’s top clubs. Chelsea and City are yet to make their move, United have signed Depay; whilst Liverpool have been the most active of our rivals, although their business won’t have too many looking over their shoulder. United and City seem to be the clubs that are likely to do the most significant business, with the noise around Ramos ramping up, along with the likely acquisition of Morgan Schneiderlin.

City are likely to refresh their midfield and attacking options, with Sterling being the forerunner to arrive, but their interest in Wilshere (which I hear is very genuine) suggests they are looking to upgrade on Fernandinho and Fernando, whilst also mitigating the gradual slump from Yaya Toure. It will be interesting to see how Sterling does there, assuming it goes through. Whilst he was indifferent at best last season, I think he can be excused due to playing in a makeshift front-line and spending a significant portion as the lone striker/ false-nine. In 2013/14 however, he was electric alongside Suarez and was a critical factor in Liverpool’s surge for the title (and delicious demise, of course). I sense that playing alongside a similarly world class operator in Aguero may bring out the best in him again – time will tell.

Assuming our rivals do the serious business I expect them to, it highlights our requirement to continue upgrading and adding depth to our squad, whilst retaining our top talent. Clearly this is not a squad in need of major surgery – quite the opposite – but stasis would be a massive disappointment for a squad with so much quality and we need to complement what we have accordingly.

I’d also like to briefly touch on the ongoing rumours about Santi possibly trotting back to Spain. This is a non-starter for me and I can’t fathom why anyone thinks this is a good idea. When you’re trying to build a squad to challenge for the title, selling one of your most experienced – and talented – players really isn’t prudent. Not only can he cover pretty much all of the midfield and attacking midfield positions, but he is the only player in our squad who can provide genuine cover for Ozil should he have a prolonged absence. Losing him makes no sense to me at all and given he’s such a unique player, I would be highly sceptical about us replacing him with someone of commensurate quality.

Right, that’s your lot for today – Alex will be taking the reins tomorrow and I’ll be back later in the week.

Until next time.

You can follow me on Twitter @James_Willson2, but I really wouldn’t recommend it.

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