Fulham preview. Podolski aha. CB love in. Evil transfer gossip

by .

Why not?

Why not?

Morning good morning! Alex here, emerging early from my winter hibernation – a lot like the John Lewis bear. I’m tired, hungover and when I find the bastard rabbit that woke me up I’m going to kill it.

It’s been a while friends so I thought I’d do a quick preview of today’s game then run over some issues with you. Agreed? Ok great thanks.

Today sees a visit from perennial nonentities Fulham. If they were a country they would be Switzerland, completely neutral. They arouse no anger or joy in me whatsoever. They did have a good run in the Europa League a few seasons ago but other than that they’re a bit meh.

Running through their teamsheet is like playing the 2007 version of Football Manager. There are a lot of players who used to be quite good – Berbatov, Duff, Sidwell and yes Super Scotty Parker – but are now a bit shite. They did have that chap Ruiz who could pull off a trick or two but I’m not sure where he is now. They have a dislikeable manager who lured RVP away from us to Man Utd.  But when you think about it he did that knowing Ferguson was going to retire and that Robin would end up being coached by Phil Neville and scrapping for a Europa League place – so actually fair play.

(NB I realise that by being so rude about what is actually quite a decent club I’m completely jinxing our chances of an easy win today but as I said I’m hungover so I’ll take my chances.)

On our side few of the walking wounded seem to have returned with the boss confirming Rambo, Michael Arteta, and Vermalalaem won’t be seen this side of the Coventry game. Mind you if there was a time for key players to be out and get a bit of a rest this is it. We should have enough in the locker to beat teams like Fulham and Coventry. It’s the fixtures after that – Chelsea, City, Bayern – that we want our star men ready and raring to go.

Rosicky and Monreal did train yesterday though so hopefully they will be options from the bench otherwise we will be looking quite light. In terms of a starting line up I’d go with something like:


Sagna  Mert    Kos      Gibbs

Wilshere          Flam

Podolski          Ozil                 Cazorla


However I expect we may see Gnabry get the nod ahead of Podolski. I’m not sure I understand the issue with Podolski. Obviously the manager sees him in training and knows a lot more about the player’s workrate than you or I but there is no denying that when played on the left he can be decisive in terms of goals and assists.

Not only that, but his presence helps lift the team – remember all the “Aha” stuff? How funny was that! Ok not very but the squad seemed to like it (we’re talking about footballers here not the board of directors at the National Theatre).

Anyway that’s not to take anything away from Gnabry. The young German has really taken his chance in the games he has played in. He’s not being raved about in the same way that Januzaj or Andros Townsend are but I think that is probably better for him in the long run.

Nonetheless the Podolski conundrum is a strange one. I really hope he can prove himself to Arsene and he stays on, though you have to think an addition like Julian Draxler would see him pushed further down the pecking order and eventually out of the door. It is a shame. Though he is bench warming and constantly gets taken off after 70 mins he rarely complains and clearly loves the club.

I watched Arsene’s presser this morning and something that he touched on, and others are also touching on in a totally appropriate way, is our defensive stability. I tweeted after the Villa game that the Mert Kos axis is our best CB partnership since Campbell and Toure – that’s nearly a decade! Crazy to think it’s taken that long to find the balance but it certainly seems to have happened now. They are both fantastic defenders in their own right (my fave stat is that before he came to us, Koscielny had 100% tackle completion rate in League 2 for the whole season. That’s ridiculous)

But they also compliment each others’ styles perfectly and they seem to have taken each other to the next level. It’s lovely to see but it also seems to have made the whole team more composed when we don’t have the ball.

There have been quite a few occasions this season where we have gone 1 or 2 nil up and both the team and fans have surprisingly remained calm. I say surprising because in the last few seasons as an Arsenal fan, taking the lead was actually the scariest part of the game because that is usually when we would go to bits. Clichy would trip over his laces. Denilson would fall over in the centre circle like he’d been shot. Squillaci would head butt his teammate. Eboue would ruby tackle a striker in the penalty area in the 99th minute. The result that always sticks in mind is the 4-4 versus Spurs where we Clichied it up conceding two goals in extra time. What a nightmare.

This season though we never seem to get nervous under pressure and we see games out comfortably. While that can be attributed to the way the whole team defends and a change in training, you have to think having a solid CB pairing is a massive factor.

Anyway back to today, we have enough to beat a very average Fulham side. Man City will spank Cardiff but Chelsea have Man Utd. The minnows could cause an upset so there’s a chance for us to put some space between us and Mourinho’s shower of bastards. Just a thought on Chelsea… media darling Jose says he wants to build a dynasty at Chelsea, in the same way Arsenal have. Yet on the same day he loans out a young player Ryan Bertrand and re-signs a player for £21m. Nice one mate.

Final word is on transfers. Now I know talking about transfers is a filthy habit and anyone who doesn’t #trustthemanager is scum but I would quite like us to sign someone. Draxler looks like a real player and the sort of signing that would lift the whole team. Is he exactly what we need? Well no, but neither was Ozil and that worked out ok. While there seems to be positive developments in terms of new contracts for Mertesacker and Sagna it would be nice to have another body at the back as cover. Someone like Vertonghen who can play at CB and RB but ideally younger and not from Spurs. But fuck it, I’m allowed to dream, so if I was being spoilt I would love us to sign Vertonghen, Cabaye, Draxler and Morata on loan. That would give us the squad depth and quality to smash the league and challenge for the Champions League. Obviously that is never ever going to happen but a boy can dream cant he? Who would you like to see? Answers below please (lets keep it within reason too we’re not going to be signing Ibrahimovic, Ronaldo or Tom Cleverly anytime soon).

There is probably more I could right but the Paracetamol is wearing off. I’m off to the game later with Pedro to hear him extol the virtues of the red zone and consider how many Nicklas Bendtner’s could dance on the head of a pin, but I’ll be back again tomorrow with a match report. Follow me on twitter @aldo_doel (please do it, im desperate for twitter love).

PS Just wanted to check the le grove parody account is still going? Oh yeah it is. Super funny stuff but spare a thought for the guy behind it who has to trawl through five years worth of posts to look for material. Could we have a whip round to see if we can pay for a holiday for him?

1,091 Responses to “Fulham preview. Podolski aha. CB love in. Evil transfer gossip”

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  1. Revving Kevin

    Dear SUGA3
    Don’t take it personal I was generalising about what was said pre-season about our players, which was a. Common theme. You saw it. You will notice that I do not get personal and call people rude names but will defend this club and those associated with it.

    I have supported this club since 60’s and I am embarrassed by the type of support we now have. When you look at those teams that spend every season playing for a top half finish or to survive in perhaps a lower division, you have to admire those supporters. Here we are improving and top if the league and every day it’s a moan and an argument. We should be mates not enemies.

    Now, I may think my wife is ugly but if somebody else calls her that I will fight her corner.

    I love Arsenal. I support my players and don’t like them being constantly slagged off as does happen on here daily by a core if WOB’s for some reason. I get the Manc ring leaders game but not true supporters. I believe Gooners should read our motto and unite, not gang up on the manager, the players and each other when things are going well.

  2. Radio Raheem

    Oh, in my list of reasons why our defence improved, I forgot to mention we got rid of Song and brought in Arteta to be the holding player.

    Arteta did most of the holding even when Song was here. I think Wenger gave Song the freedom to go forward a bit more. This might have been due to Arteta’s mobility issues and Song’s penchant for the looped pass that served us so well that season. I preferred Song playing the holding role he did with Jack and Cesc the season before that. Mind you 16 assists for a DM playing CM wasn’t too shabby.

  3. Nasri's Mouth


    If there’s a release clause, you offer the amount needed to trigger it, you don’t offer £1m more, or £2m more because your FD starts having kittens.

    By all means criticse the naivety of believing the clause was actually there, or suggest that Suarez was using us to trigger a move to Real Madrid, but please stop about the £1.

  4. hackneylad

    SUGA3January 19, 2014 13:11:46
    “Revvin,what about that pathetic £40,000,001 bid for Suarez? I mean, how can anyone treat a business partner like this seriously?if anything, it just made them slam the doors in our faces and fuck us off back to the end of the queue, right behind Everton :lol:”

    Or complete an utter speculation as they weren’t willing to sell and didn’t have to…

    But we could of bbbb bbb bbb bought him for 55 million (the crazies stutter)

    So lets imagine liverpool sell suarez for that amount they then buy another striker for say 30 million.

    They lose out on CL football without suarez so they lose out on 30 million revenue from qualifiy for CL football.

    At this point they have made 25 million of Suarez but lost 30 Million for not qualifying.

    Now lets change the story and Liverpool refuse to sell as they knowledge Suarez is there best hope of securing champions league football, they know of the huge financial ramifications of it…

    Hence they say no to all bids.

    Its that simple.

    Liverpool may of sold to money similar to the Bale Mark.. but not for 55 Million.

  5. drunk fanboy

    Opinins always get dressed up as fact, but there is only one ‘true’ fact and that is Wenger is….*snore*

  6. SUGA3


    regarding that ‘one can’t buy players like avocados’ nonsense:

    – ManYoo 8:2 drubbing, abracadabra, a number of players in within the space of days

    – Villa loss at home for the opening of the season, pure vitriol from the stands, risk of fans revolting, shazaam, Ozil in

    you were saying?

  7. Nasri's Mouth

    @Radio Raheem

    Song had (has) the ability to be an excellent midfielder, but he lacks the defensive responsibility that Arteta shows. Gilberto was a similar player. They both played for the team first.
    Song could tackle, he could harry players, he could see the pitch around him (his passing showed that) but he just couldn’t be the player that held back when needed or bust a gut to get back when he did get caught out of possession. IMO they’re skills that can be learnt. He didn’t seem to want to learn them.

    But like I say Arteta’s just one reason. It was an addition to the list of reasons why we’re so much better defensively, and why simply shouting the name ‘Bould, Bould, Bould’ is badly missing the point

  8. Revving Kevin

    Suarez, oh no that’s it I give up!

    There is no point debating with you. You hate Wenger and I doubt winning the treble will appease you.

    I have no idea why you are so unhappy and in such utter denial but you are. Have a good day grinding your axe.

  9. hackneylad

    In the land of make belief called Narnia.

    The team of magic reindeer bid 55 Million gold coins for the beaver with the giant teeth from the team of the cheeky thieves.

    In this wonderland in this tale the thieves for some reason sell the beaver even though he is there only hope to secure entry into the dragons cup… even though they know entry into the dragons cup would secure them riches which would far exceed those gold coins.

    It’s a fucking fairy tale honestly.

    We never would of got that beaver.


  10. hackneylad

    SUGA3January 19, 2014 13:23:37
    hackneylad,regarding that ‘one can’t buy players like avocados’ nonsense:- ManYoo 8:2 drubbing, abracadabra, a number of players in within the space of days- Villa loss at home for the opening of the season, pure vitriol from the stands, risk of fans revolting, shazaam, Ozil inyou were saying?

    Mate you actually don’t belong in reality your not a member of the sanity club.

    I said its not easy to buy WC players….

    After 8.2 Was arteta ect world class no….

    It’s harder to buy WC players for some reason…? Wonder why that is? derrrrrrp derrrrrp.

    Do you follow football we only signed Ozil because we were trying to buy Real Madrid players all summer, We had An agreement we would buy Di Maria or possibly Benezema, Real Madrid fucked us because it then transpired they couldn’t get either player to leave. We then found out through Real of Ozil’s discontent we managed to buy him… because of the previous agreement with the club, we had a plan in place and we adapted it when and where necessary

    So Reactive? no. fucking adaptive mate, if you want to use the Ozil signing as a stick to beat Wenger your a very weird sad man.

  11. Nasri's Mouth

    Lukas-Podolski.com ‏@Podolski10 47s
    It’s an honour to wear the 9 for this club! #afc #arsenal #london #gunners #proud #lukaspodolski… http://instagram.com/p/jWj3YzuJym/

    Can’t believe it, just after Wenger gave him another chance he’s being bloody confrontational again!!!

  12. Radio Raheem

    Nasri’s MouthJanuary 19, 2014 13:27:56

    Yeah the ‘Bould’ thing is and always will be silly.

    My point was Arteta’s role now isn’t that different from what it was when Song was here. Has he improved with more experience playing that position? Perhaps. If Song did not show the defensive discipline the team required it may be because he was playing out of position. The improved Ramsey is more suited to that position as we have seen, there is also a better balance in the team to compensate for weaknesses elsewhere. Given the players we had Song was more a plus than a minus, even his lapses in defending were more beneficial than not given the contribution he made in the attacking third.

    You raise good points with the factors you describe, taken singularly and in aggregate, just the Song-Arteta one I disagree with.

  13. jasongms

    “Do you follow football we only signed Ozil because we were trying to buy Real Madrid players all summer, We had An agreement we would buy Di Maria or possibly Benezema, Real Madrid fucked us because it then transpired they couldn’t get either player to leave. We then found out through Real of Ozil’s discontent we managed to buy him… because of the previous agreement with the club, we had a plan in place and we adapted it when and where necessary”

    pure speculation , don’t presume that by reading the back page everyday you are privy to our transfer dealings . it’s amazes me no end how people spurt out conjecture like it’s 100 % factual ….

  14. Nasri's Mouth

    @Radio Raheem

    IMO DM is Song’s best position. He’s even been suggested as a CB back up. Barca thought he was a DM. Having said that maybe he thinks of himself as a box2box player

  15. salparadisenyc

    Nasri’s MouthJanuary 19, 2014 13:49:17

    Odd with Podolski, his enthusiasm is bordering on manic. Clearly an intelligent man one has to think its all for Wenger in their mini tete-a-tete. Have to say the channelled aggression on the pitch yesterday was kind of amazing, damn near took off Steklengergs head with that left footed wild bore of a shot.

  16. hackneylad


    The point remains if you are using us buying Ozil as a stick to beat Wenger then you are a sad bitter loser.

    It’s wonderful we bought Ozil and Wenger had something to do with that, no matter how much you deny it, hate it and berate it.

  17. Keyser

    Song went from playing alongside Wilshere and Fabregas to us trying to make-do with Arteta and Ramsey.

    Song was never the quickest but he had the stamina, it wasn’t because he was languid or lazy it was simply a matter of speed, our transition defence has been one of our biggest problems, at the same time our transition attack is part of the reason why we’ve got a reputation for attacking football.

    Song was asked to play further forward as both Fabregas and Wilshere were more comfortable taking the ball from the defence and playing it forward, we do that now to with Ozil, and Cazorla both dropping deep.

    Song at 22 could hack roaming upfield and getting back, Arteta simply can’t, this isn’t a slight on him, he’s getting on but if you look at him in his younger years while he may have been smart and canny enough to be defensively responsible he was also the player that drove the team on from deep in an attacking sense, if he himself couldn’t push forward, it’s a bit unfair to ask Song to not only learn to be more defensively reponsible in the year he’d also racked up 10-15 assists trying to supplement our attack.

    There’s a theme with players that leave us, some are genuinely good enough to adapt to new teams, but almost all won’t quite find the same consistency they did with us right away. I think it’s interesting the way Song progressed with us, we saw all the mistakes and gradual improvement and I think he left us with most of the raw ingredients to be a very good player.

  18. Keyser

    “Clearly an intelligent man one has to think its all for Wenger in their mini tete-a-tete.”

    Seriously if it wasn’t soo sad, I’d actually be interested to know where people conjured it up from.

  19. salparadisenyc

    “Seriously if it wasn’t soo sad, I’d actually be interested to know where people conjured it up from.”

    If yesterday was any type of marker one thought is Wenger is managing the man, winding him up for the back half and is primed to unleash him.

  20. Radio Raheem

    IMO DM is Song’s best position. He’s even been suggested as a CB back up. Barca thought he was a DM. Having said that maybe he thinks of himself as a box2box player

    I agree. As a pro he’ll do as he’s told. The few times I have watched him for barca he has played as a DM hardly venturing forward. He seems to be recovering from the poor first season he had.

  21. Simon

    Whenever I hear someone say we bought Ozil because of fan pressure you can forget about a discussion. Astonishing delusion even for a football fan.

  22. Simon


    Utter bollocks.

    Wenger was right about villa game though wasn’t he? And the fans were wrong. Who can be big enough to admit it now?

  23. Simon

    Ivan: we better blow 40m the fans are revolting.

    Wenger: yes, I agree. It’s got pretty bad.

    Ivan: when the fans are in this kind of mood we better just do it.

    Wenger: you are right. The fans are right. I’d rather not buy but . Fuck it. Call Madrid – let’s spunk it on a single player. Now.


  24. jasongms

    hackneylad / excuse the carry over from the last thread …

    mate I’ve been singing Ozil’s praise for years and i’m still amazed he’s playing for us ,so kudos to Arsene for bringing him in ..

    That doesn’t excuse our amateurish handling of the summer transfer market . That being said it’s done and dusted …

    What most of us are concerned about is our lack of options up front and the seemingly unwillingness of the manager to do anything about it ! I don’t know about you but I have grave concerns about our squad leading up to the February /march schedule. It’s not good enough to come out and say it’s all to hard /players aren’t moving etc etc … we should have had our targets in place at the end of summer and as soon as the market opened , brought those /that player’s in ….

    Now there’s 11 days to go until the close of the transfer market , do you honestly believe that if we don’t bring any player’s in ( notably a striker ) that we will win the league or cup’s ?

  25. Salvage

    Nasri’s Mouth January 19, 2014 13:14:23

    Or we could have signed Negredo the season that RvP left. We had the financial ability to be shopping in a higher league than Giroud.

    We signed him for ~£10m and he’s probably a £15m-£20m player so it was a good deal, but we ought to have been looking at spending £25m on someone who turned out to be a £35-40m player

    There’s always a ying for a yang.
    Excellent Point.