Arsenal after player who is footballing heaven | Sacking managers | Milan full back available

by & filed under Match report.

Good morning sports fans! How are we all feeling today? Christmassy? Like you’re about to burst? Or just settling into that perma-hangover feeling?

Ahhh me too… If I were breathalysed for the tube every morning I’d have had my season ticket revoked and a £400 fine to deal with.

Anyway, onto the news. Gibbs could be back for Boxing Day. All Colin Lewin wanted for Christmas was a fit full back and it looks like his dream has a chance. He was first choice earlier in the season and he had a few smart games so hopefully he can stake a claim over the next few months and heaven knows, maybe stay fit for more than 3 games!

There’s a good article about Stan and his under-achieving St Louis Rams (Written by Bryan Burwell, I love American names, say that in an American accent at your desk now, go on, it’s great fun). The fans are demanding Stan fire their jerk manager, Stan is saying niente. He’s cleared it with Billy Beane who says the current manager, Steve Spagnuolo (I can’t pronounce that name, boooo), is his hero.

The jist of his thought process is that new managers make mistakes but given time can rectify them. A nice way of thinking I guess. If you invest in someone you believe in and you sack them, you’re actually denegrating your judgement.

Trouble is, how long do you give these days? How long is acceptable when managers are on such monster contracts? In a world where one bad season can undo 5 years good work, how long can you afford to let a manager flounder?

Look at Arsenal. It took a while but in the end, we paid for a lack of football ambition when our two best players said they’d had enough. Our form was that of a club in relegation over 26 games. The club held strong when many wouldn’t, has it paid off? Well, the ship has been steadied no doubt. Will it last? I don’t know… ask Billy Beane. What I do know is Arsene has a great chance in January to make some inspired signings and kick us onto the path of global domination.

We’re sniffing around the Argentine Lucas Biglia. He plays for Anderlecht and he’s reported as creative midfielder though it looks like he plays as a ball winning centre midfielder from the extensive research I’ve undertaken. He’d cost £9million and no one had heard of him before. He’s exactly the sort of player Wenger would snap up.

I say this every year, but we should be sniffing around the second strings of the elite. There are always bargains to be had for good young players cast aside and older experienced players who haven’t worked out. Big teams collect top talent they don’t need. Taiwo, the ex-Marseille full back is struggling in Italy. Barcelona players like Maxwell and Adriano out of the starting line up, Madrid have players like Sahin, Albiol and Altintop not getting games (they might be injured,  but you get my point). I still like Mahamadou Diarra, I think he’s available on a free transfer at the moment. There must be RvDV deals floating around this January…

Still, at least Wenger isn’t ruling anything out and my new best friend Ivan Gazidis did hint at signings. I do like it that Wenger always refers to the economy, a constant reminder about his degree. You know, like irritating friends who drop travel stories into conversations if you’re eating something oriental, like a prawn cracker. Bore off…  no one cares how many pink dolphins you saved in Peru on your 2 week package holiday.

Anyway, my point about the economy is that sure, it’s not in great shape but preaching to people who are actually living the consequences is a bit patronising. When you have £40mill in personal savings you’ll not be affected. When your company has bullet proof TV revenue streams, you’ll generally be ok as a club. We should be using these testing times to hoover up the best talent on the cheap. What’s the point in being the richest and not using your cash wealth to make poor clubs feel inferior and fearful? You know, poor clubs like Spurs who have been delisted in the hope of raising £400million for a new stadium. Good luck with that Levy, good luck!

Follow @LeGrove

Anyway, let me know who you’d like us to sign in January and I’ll knock together a Giles Grimantube report later in the week!

P.S. The Americans have a good way of selling tickets back to the system here.

237 Responses to “Arsenal after player who is footballing heaven | Sacking managers | Milan full back available”

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  1. Gooby

    “It was 1961 and I was walking down Seven Sister’s Road on my dad’s shoulders. I asked him why people were celebrating and he said ‘don’t worry about that son, I’ll take you to see some proper football next year.’ So the next season I went to my first Arsenal game, and the Club has been my life ever since – I’ve been a season ticket holder as long as I can remember. Now – exactly 50 years after first standing on the Clock End – my son plays for the team. It’s unbelievable. It’s a dream come true for both Carl and myself, I can’t tell you how proud I am of him.”
    Steve Jenkinson

  2. Gooby

    if we signed gourcuff and podolski we’d be much stronger.

    torres is too expensive for a backup, that’s a big risk to take imo. Wenger might be able to get him back in shape but it’s not worth £20m

    get gourcuff on loan and poloski for £10m

  3. F4PhantomPhreak

    I really do enjoy reading your blog daily, but (and there is always a but)…. Why do you always put these names of players up for Arsene to buy, then followed by a video clip?? We have never bought any of these yolk’alls and we never will… I guess it’s just me, but it never occurs, I never seen Park on here, or Santos, but to your credit you did have Per M on here severl times… Anyhoo just a thought

  4. Dublin Gunner!!!

    hey gambon. meet ya for a pint? ha wouldnt suprise me if torres goes back to Atl madrid and failco go to chav land! AVB was sniffing around him in the summer.

  5. Mayank

    After Per has joined us the percentage of goals we concede from headers has dropped from 29% to 9%(lowest in the league). Set piece goals have dropped from 54% to 35%.

  6. Mayank

    It’s funny that people think Usmanov is filthy rich because of his business acumen rather than his political connections. If you can fire your editor of 12 years over exercising the right to free press you have no business running a club like Arsenal. Nevermind the money he may or may not bring in.

  7. Squirrel

    We’re getting our hopes up again.
    Probably get beat by city on sunday
    Wenger will then buy another french/african player from the french league that we’ll have to look up on you tube to check out how shit/good he is.
    We are a van persie injury away from our season ending and europa league next season.

  8. Gooby


    the only reason people want usmanov is because he’ll promised to spend money ala shitty. Well maybe not that much…

  9. Gooby


    the only reason people want usmanov is because he* promised to spend money ala shitty. Well maybe not that much…


  10. fabindiangooner

    i think since the verminator has come back ,we hav conceded like just 2 goals in the PL..funnily 1 of them was an own goal by tommy V

  11. frenchie

    vertonghen, gotze, podolski, cissoko all would be nice. i would be pleased with 2 of the 4, especially if those 2 were of the attacking variety.

    i think m’vila may not end up with arsenal. etienne capoue would be the cheaper option. the more i watch of him the more i like.

    i think gotze will be in; he is a marvelous player and does not affect the 25 man squad because he is 19. any adult players would require arsenal to shift someone out. talk of rosicknote interesting wolfsburg, so maybe…

  12. Mayank

    All businessmen are unethical to some degree but to say that makes it okay for someone like Usmanov to own our club is wrong. You have to have a sense of scale. It’s like those anti-piracy ads on DVDs comparing downloading movies illegally to stealing a car.

  13. Pedro

    Mayank, Usmanov has stakes in Groupon, Facebook, Twitter and us… his wealth is related to politics, most peoples is in some way shape or form.

    He’s a visionary… well, the people who work for him are. He’d be a great asset on the board.

    Most of his post mineral success has come in the digital space.

  14. fabindiangooner

    thing is most people are comparing him to kroenke…from what little he has spoken none of i think he has no clue of how a football club is run..hell even his other “franchises” r pretty much crap

  15. Azed

    RR good article. With our full back crisis we could try it.

    more importantly, it keeps JD out of the side….
    swap rosicky with Theo and bring in Torres/Pato

  16. Radio Raheem

    Azed maybe that might work. However, I’d worry about Mertesacker’s mobility in that formation. I think he prefers defending deep. Rosicky isn’t that mobile either. Honestly, I don’t think we have the players to play that formation just yet.

  17. Thomas. it's up for grabs now...

    We’ve all been concentrating on adding firepower and more goal getting options in Midfield and Attack.. An rightly so.. But here are some interesting comparisons from the invincible season after 15 games!

    After 15 games of the invincilbe season we had scored 29 goals.. This season we are on 31 after 15!

    We finished the invincible season on 73 goals and won the title with 90 points. Last season we scored 72 and finished on 68 points!

    We had 10 wins after 15 games of the invincible season this year we have 9..

    The reasons are obvious when you think about it. DEFENCE! We conceded 26 goals all season 2003-04. We are on 23 already this year. Even being generous and saying that OT was an aberation it is still bad. We had conceded 11 after 15 games in 03-04.

    Assuming DJ and Squillaci will be moved on we still need to hunt down another top CB. To add to Per, TV and Koz. Both our 1st choice full-backs are out for months. Our second choices are crocked also (Gibbs and Jenkinson). Both of these 2nd choices are not of sufficient quality. I am impressed with Jenks.. but he’s not the finished article yet.

    To give us some versatility in these positions I think we need another 1st class centre-back. This will allow Koz to switch to RB when required and TV to fill in LB when required although I am much happier with him in the CB position!

  18. Dublin Gunner!!!

    I was just reading this on a site I came across.
    According to Liverpool Uni these are the top and bottom 3 sets of fans in the prem, with noise, passion, away support etc etc included.

    1.Tottenham. 2.Everton. 3.Newcastle.

    18.Chelsea. 19.Blackburn. 20.Arsenal.
    This was defo put up by a smelly spud supporter. I replyed to this by saying that if the spuds r the loudest how come a small team from Dublin shamrock rovers (3000) went to white shit lane and out sang and were way louder than them? An shitty lane was full. And also where is wigan in this Liverpool study? Maybe they got it from desperate scouse wifes?

  19. Radio Raheem

    With everyone fit I’ll start with


    Sagna Koscielny Mertesacker TV

    Arteta Song Wilshere

    Theo RvP Gervinho

    Harsh on Santos I know but that’ll be a solid defence, one that’ll concede very few goals

  20. Samir

    Great stat regarding Per Mayank!
    I’m sure that has something to do with Vermy coming back at the same time he joined though! Great stat nonetheless however 😀

  21. fabindiangooner

    that article about formations just proves that pep guardiola is the best coach in football right nw regardless of the talent at his disposal..way better than mourinho

  22. AC Gooner

    JD Flick

    they needed the money much more desperately then when they sold PV and TH than they do now. So, even though he does like to cash in on players, the situation is different now.

  23. Dublin Gunner!!!

    Thomas I agree totally wit u but its trying to keep them cb happy if u buy an other cb. The inven 03/04 were more hard core defence and were willing to fight for there position. Players now a days are all about the money an play time on the pitch.

  24. Thomas. it's up for grabs now...

    Dublin Gooner.. Yep that’s always a problem.. but it is a great problem to have! Who to leave out and top players fighting for places..

    In that situation some players will always move on.. but generally you lose the worst of the two choices and have to buy again.

    I think I’d be reasonably happy if Kos and TV were playing RB and CB if we had Per & A N Other first class CB in the middle.

    Of course what must not be forgotten is that defence is also a team game and the rest of the team have a contibution to make too in this area

  25. zeus

    That article on formations was written by someone with strong knowledge of tactics, but its probably a little OTT.

    3-1-4-2? How about the good old 3-5-2 which we’ve been seeing for ages.

  26. Josip Skoblar

    Dream10 says:
    December 14, 2011 at 10:29

    Agreed. We might be in a minority here, but that’s also my opinion. Hazard is more talented and versatile player than Goetze, and therefore he should have a brighter future ahead of him. That’s why Real will end up buying him and not Goetze… 😉

  27. Josip Skoblar

    Where do these rumours about Hazard’s ‘attitude problem’ come from? Does anyone know? I keep reading in the French and Belgian press that he’s a nice humble bloke. He’s no Anelka and he’s no Ronaldo!

  28. Josip Skoblar

    Podolski, Remy and M’Vila (more pricey) are more realistic targets. Gourcuff would be another possibility, but he hasn’t been playing well of late.

  29. Josip Skoblar

    It’s a shame then. That’s not how he comes across in public though. Anelka and Ronaldo, you know it immediately that they’re arrogant and self-infatuated!

  30. Delboy

    Think we need 3 players to add to wot we got and get rid of about 4 and we know who they r! We need cover for chez cos our back up keepers r very poor at best! A CB like samba the boy is a beast and chips in with a few goals plus wud be cheap which wenger likes! Then a CF as cover for RVP! Think we av enuf cover in MF plus jack to cum back soon then we wud av a decent 1st 15/16 which is pretty solid! Plus the young ones like.ox,coquelin and miquel and we wudnt be far off IMO! But the most important signing we shud make is RVP,s! Give him a blank cheque and give him wot he wants to stay then we can build a team around him!

  31. Thomas. it's up for grabs now...

    RVP was known to have an ‘attitude’ too! Henry said last week he wasn’t the easiest to deal with.. but he’s matured.. What is Hazard.. 20/21? I wouldn’t put that as an obstacle.

    Once he does it on the field! Although I think I would prefer Goetze first..but Hazard would be an acceptable arrival too

  32. frenchie

    hazard has 6 goals, 6 assists.
    gotze 5 goals, 5 assists.

    if character is the defining difference, gotze is the better option–he is the german equivalent of jack the lad.

  33. zeus

    Gotze or Hazard? Doesn’t matter, neither will come in January or the summer for that matter.

    Wenger has learnt his lesson re spending big.

    Reyes – Dud

    Arshavin – Flop.

    And thats the extent or our big money signings.

  34. IvoryGoonz

    My Xmas wishlist (even if I don’t believe in Santa Klaus anymore):

    Forward: Neymar, Doumbia, Llorente, Leandro Damiao, Leandro (Gremio), or Schurlle – in that order

    Attacking midfielder: Thomas Muller, Willian, Hazard, Gotze, Reus

    Defensive midfielders: Fernandinho (Shakthar)

    Defenders: Vertonghen, Sime Vrsajlko, Aly Cissokho Mbiwa, Balzaretti, De Silvestri, Cassani

    GK: Mandanda, Stekelenburg


  35. Dream10

    I would take Hazard and the attitude that goes with it over Gotze.

    Hazard is a generational talent who looks like he can get it done in the big matches.

    Remember our beloved Thierry Henry was not a saint either. Henry had this arrogance in him. But we had a great leadership system and he FLOURISHED WHEN HE WAS NOT THE LEADER.

    We need more skill, pace, power and athleticism.

    Josip Skoblar— Hazard>Gotze any day

  36. fabindiangooner

    goetze over hazard for me ..think he will fit the cesc role nicely plus he can play on the left..if AOC and miyachi fulfil their potential we wont need a wide player..even if hazard were to go to madrid we could then bid for di maria

  37. Drmaadh

    I Love the energy of that Di Maria. He was running around after the ball so much. And we have arshavin who thinks he’s too good to trek back.

    Di Maria will be hot property if he is benched. We never compete with any one for a player..

  38. Gazthegooner

    Sorenson a must, Vertonghen a must coz of his versitality, Goetz even if he is injured, Padolski. (all realistic)

    Hazard = Real Madrid
    Hamisik = Stay in Italy
    Neymar = Real Madrid
    Mvilla = Barca / Real
    Torres = Get with it
    Tevez = who cares just not at arsenal.

    Oh yes and get rid of dead wood we all know who they are!

  39. Dan Ahern

    Whoa, let’s be real for a second. We’ve all got stars in our eyes about January, but the actual key to making it a good window is sales. We seriously need to get Almunia, Squillacci, Denilson, and Arshavin. And I like Rosicky as a holdup/control experienced player, but we’ve got Yossi to fill that role (yes, I hate Yossi too. he’s only on loan though, if we need that role still we can extend him, and if not, see ya, turd). We also desperately need to trash Chamakh, but seeing as our depth at striker goes:
    1. RvP
    2. PANIC
    …we’re stuck buying first in that case. Anyway, the point is, we have at least 5 slots on the team that are just absorbing money. The sooner we cut our losses with all of them, the sooner we can make a nice buy (or two, god forbid).

  40. IvoryGoonz

    fab: I wish you were right, but I actually think De Gea is the next Casillas too.
    based on many stats starting by goals conceded.
    Every great keeper commits mistakes too (I have a saying for that, even Marilyn Monroe was having a shit from time to time), but his overall performances are very good.

    Goals conceded

    1-Manchester City-15
    2-Manchester United-14
    4-Tottenham Hotspur-18

    And Castrol doesnt disagree:

    and even Opta seems to say it too.

  41. AmericanGunnerFan

    To address Stan Kroenke’s patience with his American football head coach: Typically a new General Manager and Head Coach (two separate positions usually held by different men) are given 3-4 years to turn a team around, depending on how bad the team was when they took over and the circumstances. Generally, a highly-regarded head coach would be given 4 years to get the team into the playoffs. While this is his first head coaching job, Steve Spagnuolo was an exceptional defensive coach and highly regarded head coaching candidate before Kroenke hired him. His team performed above expectations his first season on the job, but, weakened by injuries, has regressed in this, his second, season. He could lose his job at the end of next season if the team does not show improvement. Most American football club owners would retain their head coach if the team were to improve next season, even if the team didn’t make the playoffs–but the expectation would be that the head coach would have to get the team into the playoffs in his fourth season. Continuity of management and coaching is generally seen as being important in American sports, particularly football, with clubs that change General Managers and head coaches frequently having a dismal record and prospects.

    That being the case, I would expect Kroenke to be inclined to stick with Arsene Wenger as long as Arsenal has some success (finishing in the top 4 of the EPL) and the club shows the potential to improve. Given the turnover of personnel last summer and the likely turnover between now and the beginning of next season, I would expect Kroenke to be very patient with Wenger at this stage, giving him time to acclimate new signings into the team next season before placing any substantial expectations on Wenger’s shoulders. IMHO Gooners will likely have far less patience with Wenger than Kroenke at this point.

  42. goonerboy

    Quite agree with Pedro’s comments about Usmanov- he should be on the Arsenal Board. I believe that he will outlast the current owner- who clearly has been brought in by this Board to make sure there is no change.
    No wonder they want to keep Arsene Wenger for ever- he is like gold for them- but he will not last forever.
    We can’t attract top players-at the top of the tree because we dont pay enough. When our young players reach maturity we cant pay them enough to stay.Torres would have to accept a 50% wage cut to play for us- would you?
    Our salaries are now at the same level as Spuds- despite the fact that we have been in the ECL for 14 years + and have had the benefit of 30m + per year and massive increases in income after moving to the new stadium- except we need more players primarily because ours get more injuries.

  43. Splurghh

    “In a world where one bad season can undo 5 years good work, how long can you afford to let a manager flounder?”

    Sounds like a movie trailer. Out comes Rob Sneijder who’s been possessed by a fish.

  44. Thomas. it's up for grabs now...

    Yessss 230th!

    Saw Neymar score a real tasty goal on SKY News this am for Santos in the World Club finals in Japan.. Can see why he’s in demand!

    But if we got him I suspect we would just be grooming him ultimately for Real or Barca!

  45. Stringer Bell

    Long time reader, 1st post

    We have to be realistic. Having too many good players in one position does not work, as they all need to play. For instance, Gary Cahill is not going to come as our fourth choice CB. And we have to consider the future, having too many players in a position will result in some of getting cup games which are usually great for developing young players. (Note: While I don’t agree that future/youth is our number one priority, it is still important)

    Podolski would be awesome.

  46. arsefriend

    For all the talks about Podoski’s potential transfer, it is time to give it a rest.
    The guy is Chamak in disguise!
    Today, in one of his clubs (Koln) high profile game against Bayern, where Mr. Venger was expected to attend to confirm his interest, he was the shi**. His rating by local media 4.0
    I don’t think Venger will bring that clown for free. What a waist of time to watch that game. But it also showed why AV isnt bringing Ribery either, two yellow cards in 20 sec, Wow

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