For some reason I told Pedro I’d write the match report which means my Sunday night/Monday morning has been considerably less relaxing than normal. Thanks a lot guys, no really thanks.
All the talk pre-game was of our exciting new signing Kim Kallstrom and we couldn’t wait to see him make his deb…. wait… what. Oh injured? Already? Oh so he’s gone back to Sweden. Right… #getwellsoonKim.
Arsenal took the laugh out loud fest that was the January transfer window and extended it into February when it emerged that super star signing Kim Kallstrom came to the club with a back injury. I don’t know what happened, but he either arrived with a back injury and didn’t tell anyone… or Arsenal missed the problem. Either way, it seems pretty crazy that we’d take a player on that’s crocked.
Still, I’m not overly fussed, it’s not like he’s pivotal to our success this season… it just makes a mockery of our recruitment process. But there you go… when you don’t have a plan, things like that happen.
Anyway, onto today! Crystal Palace come to town. They were the whipping boys of the league, but now they’re not. Pulis has come in and he’s organised the squad and brutalised their mentality…
‘YOU WILL HATE PASSING. YOU WILL HATE LEGS AND BONES. YOU WILL NOT MOVE OUT OF YOUR OWN HALF’
That’s pretty much how it goes apparently. I can’t remember if it is Pulis or the Bolton Allardyce, but someone told me one of them deferred from playing 5 aside football because it encouraged passing. I’m going to say it’s Pulis because it suits my agenda. Shall we go with that? Ok, works for me. Let’s say allegedly just in case I’m sued.
Arsenal need to bag some points today, Manchester United lost yesterday which is bloody hilarious. Spurs drew, which is superb. So we have to win. I’ve been saying for a while that the most important thing this season is to not get embroiled in a top 4 battle. The quicker we can break away from 4th place, the easier this season is going to be. Today, we simply must take the three points. Then we have a bit of breathing space with the nasty fixture list that’s coming up.
No slow start today. We need to go for it early on and bury them. The issue we have is that Palace have just bought 5 players, they can’t play today, so it means the incumbents will be looking to impress. It’ll be a high octane game, so we need to be at our best and show that we are up there with the best in the country. I’m confident, but slightly concerned about the narrative of a team desperate to stay up.
In other news, one of the German commentators revealed Bayern are looking to purchase Draxler this summer. They won’t mess around with the price. If he’s good enough, they’ll buy him. If we lose out on him because we messed around over the fee, it’ll be hugely upsetting. Sometimes, you just have to punt on top class talent. We didn’t in January because it seems like we tried to secure a bargain… it feels like Ozil was a false dawn at the minute, which is a real shame. Wenger has secured a new deal now…now he’s reverted to master bargain hunter… and he still seems intent on never leaving a transfer window with enough of a squad.
I hope this isn’t the plan for the next three years. I also hope his £8m deal is loaded with incentives that sit outside making cash. I was sitting with a guy from St Louis the other day… he was telling me Stan Kroenke isn’t much liked in the states because he prizes profit over trophies. Wenger and Kroenke are the perfect mix of profitable mediocrity… it’s going ok right now, but I’m getting really nervous about what this season holds.
Fingers crossed Wenger has got it right… I’ll happily have my doubts slapped down with a major trophy.
The real Arsene Wenger stepped forward yesterday and gave us all a taste of mighty fine reality. We had issues within the squad that needed addressing this window and the manager serviced them with Kim Kallstrom. The Swedish midfielder, most famous for being a player with exceptional Championship manager attributes 12 years ago, has joined on a 6 month loan. He’s not played for 7 weeks, so I’m unsure how long it’ll take him to get fit. He’s also not played in the fastest league in the world before. So again, as aimless punts go, he’s right up there with the best panic purchases of the last few seasons.
Now, I’m not going to slate his ability, I’ve seen him play plenty of times before over the years. I know it seems odd that I’d remember a player so unmemorable, but he was so, so good on that computer game, I had to pay close attention when he played. I had similar excitement in watching Javier Saviola, Ibrahima Bakayoko and Robert Pires. Anyway, he’s not very exciting, he’s mostly a solid, functional midfielder… but the press isn’t great around him from the French, who watched him for 7 odd years at Lyon or the Swedes, who’ve sucked up 100 caps worth of his play.
Rafa Honigstein says no Draxler to Arsenal, which pretty much means no Draxler to Arsenal.
The press are saying talks broke down over the fee. The fee we knew from last summer. Arsenal fans now frantically trying to back the clubs stance on not paying the asking price.
Basically, what we’ve done is wait until the end of the month in the hope that Schalke are so desperate to sell, they’ll accept 60% of his value. Now the Germans have said no, we’re in a situation where we have no options.
We never learn when it comes to transfer planning we have. We’ve needed a striker since the summer and we could end the January transfer window with no players at all. But, it’s not like we didn’t expect it.
We have Zelalem and Dan Crowley…
Spending isn’t always the answer…
We have Sanogo coming back…
£37m for unproven talent is risky…
… and hey, yes, £37m for Draxler is a big investment, but so was £28m for Rooney, so was Christiano for £12m (well, for Arsenal at least) so was £54m for Neymar, so was £35m for Gotze. If Wenger believes in his talent, £37m will look like chump change in 5 years.
Still, it’s not over until Jim White says so… so stop moping… there could be a surprise. You know, because Wenger pulls that face in interviews that means he’s schemeing. Right? That means he’s buying an Ozil?
What I mean by this is that the hot rumour in the UK press is that Dick Law is in Germany hunting down Draxlar. My word is that Arsene is still unsure on the fee, so has been back and forth on it. If he wants him, we’ll work our damnedest to get him by the time the window closes tomorrow. I mean, it’s nice that we have more than 12 hours to negotiate a deal for once. We are 100% interested, purchase depends on which Arsene wakes up this morning or tomorrow.
Arsenal ran into a bit of a Premier League block last night when they drew to Southampton away from home. We played badly, we didn’t find our rhythm and individual mistakes cost us a full three points in a game that really… we probably deserved to lose.
We went one down after some shoddy full backery from Monreal who allowed a header in at the near post… the keeper also made a total hash of the goal at his near post. We didn’t really get back into the first half, Monreal spent most of his time making a mess of anything that came his way, it’s like he’d never experienced the rain which made a total mockery of my pregame excitement he’d been given a run in the side.
So the Americans leave us after 20 pretty fruitful years. They were probably the first step in Arsenal becoming a global brand. I remember seeing the new strips on the back of the newspaper 20 years ago. Hooped socks, little lightening flashes embossed down the shirt. Double smart. We were the only team in the league to boast the swoosh of the American sports designer. It raised our game big time. We had Bergkamp, then followed Wenger, then followed the magic years.
They had some pretty memorable kits as well. The gold shirt we won the league at Old Trafford, the blue lightening strike number… the best shirt ever which was the O2 red one. What a great design that was! The designs did tire towards the end though. Such a shame. So we have an exiting partner, but one we can be proud of.
Incoming is an ailing sports brand (Gucci offsetting their poor performance). They’ve struggled to make an impact over the past few years. Arsenal are the prized asset in their portfolio, they’ve paid good money for a team that has done precisely bugger all in 9 years. They’ve bought into potential. If the deal works out well for us, it means we’ll have stagnated as a team. If it works out well for them, it’ll mean they just backed a winner when the odds were pretty weak. Then we’ll all be saying ‘WE WERE MUGGED’… but as I’ve said before, we have no right to have a massive deal. Shirts are sold based off the back of on the pitch success, not an incredible balance sheet.
For them, they’re buying into a club that plays beautiful football loaded with future England stars as well as a club that could attain hipster status in Europe’s biggest economy, Germany. We could push their brand to new levels if we fulfill, or we could be an ugly blight on their already ugly looking balance sheet.
One thing they haven’t factored in is the tubby nature of UK football fans. Man, we love to drink, we love a gut. This skin tight nonsense really is going to put a few fans out of place. I’m blessed that the beer guy gene, so far, has yet to hit me. I’ll be fine, some of the guys that sit around me, well, let’s just say protein shakes will be the half time beverage for they next few months. Not exactly a lot of athleticism going on at the Emirates!
Not that I wear football shirts, I’m not 15 years old… I know that always offends people… but come on, wear a retro shirt or something!
Anyway, Puma are an exciting brand, they’ve less mainstream cool about them, but their sports design looks great and they really aren’t afraid to get creative. A massive win and a deal that let’s us fight with any club for the best players.
Well played Arsene Wenger, great deal brokering.
What? Don’t tell me it wasn’t Arsene’s choice…
Jose has been slagging off our fixture list stating that we get more help than his side do. I read this, and ignored it because I thought it was nonsense. Wenger has fired back with a comment I’m not sure he fully understands.
“You will see Arsenal are behind all the other teams. In the last five years all the objective studies that have been made show Arsenal had less rest than any other team in the top four.
“That is fact. It has nothing to do with my opinion. It is an independent company that made [the study] that shows Arsenal had less rest than any other team in the top level.”
Kind of feel that’s a little bit of a blag… but I don’t think he’s a million miles off. We have had a nightmare schedule this year, mainly because of how our games have been ordered. We’ve played United and City at the back end of long game cycles and we’ve had nasty draws in the Champions League.
Also, it’s worth noting, that regardless of rest, we have less players we can use. That’s not Jose’s fault, but I’m pretty sure if you did a study into players used and minutes played, we’d have more over exerted players from a smaller pool of talent. In fact, I guarantee it, where are the stat geeks to prove my gut feel right?
This is a really depressing draw because it means we’ll have to play Bayern, Liverpool x2 and United in 11 days. What a disaster. No chance to rest really. It’s a horror show. You can’t take Liverpool in the FA Cup lightly because if you lose, you hand them the momentum in the league. It’s bad news. Still, if we beat them, chances are, Arsene will go for the jugular in that competition. We’d have beaten Spurs and a title contender. So at least that raises the prospect of a trophy.
However, we know how much Arsene wants to win the Champions League. To beat Bayern, you must be fresh. Their fixture build up to Arsenal is easy. Nurnberg ( League position: 17th), Hamburg (16th) and Freiburg (15th). Their last game is on the 15th Feb, so we have to pray the FA give us a Saturday game so we can prepare properly. Even then, after a catalogue of 3 intensive games, it’ll still be tough. Bayern can rest their whole first team from the 2nd of Feb as they’re playing 4 of the bottom 5.
WHAT A JOKE.
In other news, Liverpool fans have written to their clubs about the £93 FA Cup tickets… they’ve grassed on us, the slags…
Just kidding. £63-93 is an absolute liberty. I don’t care much for Liverpool or their fans, however, the average wage up there is not what it is down here. £63-93 is a massive layout wherever you live. Clubs really shouldn’t allow a situation where away fans get hammered with premium away priced. I pondered why away fans should be subsidised a few months ago… it could seem unfair to home support… but let’s face it, away fans are hardcore, they live football harder than anyone and they get the ground rocking.
‘Are you saying away fans are more hardcore than home fans’… yeah, I am. Sorry if that statement makes you wet your pants.
Clubs should either all group together and come to a deal on lower prices or they should subsidise their fans according to game. The cost of subsidising 3000 tickets by £35 is £105,000, for big clubs, surely they can bake this into their costs? How much did TV deal money go up by? How much have commercial revenues climbed? Give the fans a helping hand… share the wealth.
It’s the right thing to do…
Anyway, on a final sad note, probably the most depressing attempt at denigrating my site occurred last night when someone dug out a tweet from two years ago that mocked a warning I posted about one of my close female pals suffering an attempted sexual assault at Finsbury Park station. That’s the depths people will go to. Was there any ‘outrage’? No, despite it being retweeted by someone with 6,000 followers. 2 weeks previously, the whole of twitter went nuts because a I had an incident with an overseas fan. Yesterday, nothing. Kind of tells you that anything is acceptable when it comes to Le Grove. Disappointing, because the trolls really are ruining an amazing medium for not just me, but everyone who has an opinion one way or the other.
Still, it’s worth noting, nothing will ever stop me writing what I think. I’ll never tone it down. I’ll never pander to keyboard warriors. It’s just a shame that writing a blog for free going on 7 years about Arsenal can lead to such vitriolic abuse. I’m game for a laugh, I’m happy to debate with anyone, I don’t always think I’m right, I’ve never got into anything more than a passionate debate offline… yet somehow, we’ve got into this sorry situation online where vitriolic abuse is congratulated.
There we go, football blogging is what it is. I’ll just block and ignore going forward. Which is a real shame.
I’m just lucky that despite the idiots, I have an amazing global community of great people who post on the site daily, chat on and offline and make it all worth it.
Have a great day people, and thanks to everyone who does make this a great experience.
P.S. The kit picture is courtesy of @Dazzadub, give him a follow.