PGL: Good morning all. Transfer silly season is well and truly underway. We’ve been linked to all sorts of players… FTK is responsible for at least two of the popular rumours floating about the net! My feeling is the Russian will come and that will concluded our business. We’ve got a guest with us this week. He goes by the name Elpres, welcome to TGIF dude. Anyway lets get stuck into the weekly round up.!
PGL: Arsene’s Arsenal Ask About Andrei Arshavin. What a sentence! Alliteration is great innit… Well, I for one would be pleased if he does join. Over the Chrimbo, I did a lot of thinking about the current side and I’ve come to the conclusion that the Post-Henry hangover has finally hit. Last season we compensated by a lot of players, Ade in particular, trying to prove they could achieve without the Frenchman but we’re struggling to break teams down, we’re not clinical in front of goal, we’re lacking a bit of pace… these are all things that Henry did for us on a weekly basis. How many times did his magic get us out of trouble? So that’s why I’m the pro-Russian coming in. The lad is inventive, strong, quick and has an eye for goal… these are some of the things we’re missing.
Oh… there was also the news Jack Wilshere finally signed pro-forms. Great news for the club.
EL: Arshavin the Big Issue? Nah got to be Eboue to Inter. Hands off Inter!!! I mean, no wait. Taxi for Eboue!!!
Seriously though the Big Issue for me this week has been the ongoing rumours about Kolo leaving. I would be very sad to see Kolo go as he has been a great servant to the club. However if we are offered £8mil+ for a player who has been in poor form for a long time (since he contracted malaria really) for a player who cost £250k? It would be good business. Its well known that Arsenals defensive frailty has as much to do with shortness in the centre as it does poor player form. I always thought that of our vertically challenged CBs that Gallas would be the one to leave. Kolo would make me sad, but hopeful that real change at the back is coming soon.
AH: For me signings are not the big issue, getting the most out of the talent we have is. Realistically we will get 2, 3 players max. Whether people like it or not, we will still need the current crop to start doing the basics and nitty gritty before we can progress. Crucially, in my opinion, we need to stop leaking goals. This will kill us, if it hasn’t already in the league it will be impossible to go very far in Europe without being able to keep the bed linen free from sticky patches.
FTK:OK Guys, I am really playing the party pooper, let me take you all back to last summer’s Euro 2008 transfer frenzy. Arsenal were linked with around 25 players and among them David Villa of Valencia who wanted to come to play for the Arsenal and then there was Andrei Arshavin. The Russian Arshavin was proclaimed as first good then bad in Arsene’s eyes, mindful of the way of how other clubs would enter the auction and put up the price. One interview with Arshavin sticks in my mind, when he proclaimed his love for Barcelona, and that was where he wanted to go. His price was £20 million. He snubbed Arsenal and even started negotiating with the scum at Shite Hart Lane, and now we are supposed to welcome him with open arms? Well sorry, I am a Gooner, and as far as I am concerned Arshavin will have a lot to prove if and when he comes here. I suspect that he is using our club as a shop window, hoping to get the big move to Spain afterwards. He is being paid £60K a week at Zenit St Petersburg and they want £20 million. Forget it on both counts. Ok at £10 million maybe, but he has even agreed to a cut in his wages, so desperate is he to get into the Premiership. Are we the Arsenal? Well NO-ONE takes the piss like that. I say let’s offer Valencia £15 million for David Villa and they will snap our hands off. Providing Man City don’t want him for £24 million of course. I just see Arshavin as being a prima donna during big televised games, and absent during hard core boring fixtures.
PGL: I’d like to quote FTK here: “In fact I still cannot get my head around the fact that Man United have three £30,million players and a similar squad size, and yet we share the same size wage bill which means that someone needs to prune the expensive hangers on at the Emirates, and perhaps Ivan Gazidis may be the one to do it. “
I got to raise this question again. How is our bill near that of Manures? It looks like we are really overpaying some average players and not giving our top players the wages other players of their caliber receive elsewhere. Is it any wonder heads get turned during the summer? I wonder, for instance, did Ade looking for more money distract AW in his hunt for a replacement for Flamini? I know this is pure conjecture but it had me scratching my head since Monday.
EL: Frankly Im surprised that our wage bill is comparable to Man Utd. I wonder if our stated wage bill includes non-playing staff….its hard to know with The Arsenal….The club plays its cards to its chest and has a hell of a poker face. Something thought definately doesnt add up.
FTK: When you look at the figures, it is important to remember that the overall figures apply to ALL employees at the club, including their pensions. The figures for 2005/6 are ManU 85.4 Mill and Arsenal 83 mill and for 2006/7 ManU 92.3 mill and The Arse 89.7. We had a few more employees than ManU, but those were administrative not playing staff. So given that Wenger operates an Egalitarian wage structure which in essence means that the differential between the highest paid player and the bottom is not very great, then there are some highly paid average players out there, by virtue of cash figures rather than ability. The top players are relatively underpaid with regards to ManU and the lesser players are overpaid. My argument is that being over paid means that you are happy to sit on the bench and not fight for a place in the first team. If you are not truly professional, then results don’t matter until there is a risk that you may be forced to leave the club. The most obvious example relates to our youth. They have a reason to fight and get into the first team, and the Carling Cup display against Wigan was breath taking. The First team takes on the same Wigan team and looks geriatric by comparison. I sometimes wish that Arsene would just let loose the Carling Cup team in the Premiership and we would win more games. I refer to desire and work rate, as shown by the likes of Wilshere and Carlos Vela, they really put Adebayor and Eboue to shame…
AH: How about a non-issue that should be inside insider but seems to have fallen off the radar: youth. I fully appreciate that finishing top 4 is the bare minimum we should aim for or need, but that is not yet a genuine worry for me. Still, somewhere in the negativity the age of this team seems to have been forgotten. Song, Bendtner, Denilson, Diaby are all written off as no good. Personally I think for a group of 20 to 22 year olds they are doing well, especially when you look at how hard the team have struggled for confidence or solidity form the experienced pro’s in the last 2 months. Djourou and Nasri are in a similar boat, they to have shown genuine potential. This is what we are seeing though at these ages: potential. Even off form, let down by senior players, and having their confidence visciously undermined by supposed friend and foe alike they have started to learn there lessons and make the near future look very bright.
“If you go through to the Champions League Quarter Finals and then to the Semi Finals, then you have a choice to make between the FA Cup and the Champions League. But, at the moment, we are not in that position.”
AH: A trophy of any sort would be good for the club as a whole, team morale, and especially old Arsene’s job security/the dummy spitting brigade (Thank you Mr Crescit, hope you don’t mind me borrowing that one.) I think though that unless we can tighten up at the back the luxury of choosing competitions will not materialise.
EL: Our FA cup exit at Man Utd was an extremely painful episode. Not so much the result as the very obvious lack of motivation displayed by our team. Make no mistake, Utd were awesome last year. They are also however a shower of cunts and I never again want to see an Arsenal side show such a lack of desire in an important game. The Fa Cup is one of the great competitions in world football. In which we have a very proud history. The players would do well to remember that.
FTK: Arsene Wenger has to decide on winning a competition, and at present that means the FA Cup or the Champions League. I think that the FA Cup should be our goal, as we do not stand a chance of beating Barcelona if they play at the level of football that I have seen recently. Unless of course, we make decent transfers in this window. The reason why I say that? Because of our defence. “Success begins at the back” and there is no way that the likes of Barcelona will miss opportunities to score when we cannot defend set pieces. Arsene is living in cloud cuckoo land if he thinks that the present team can beat a vibrant Barcelona on it’s day… If the luck of the draw means that we avoid Barca then one on one in the Final we are as good as anyone else, but the FA Cup is there for the taking and it will silence many moaning fans. I can understand the quote as Arsene is obsessed and cannot contemplate leaving this club without having won the Champions League. I remember being in Paris that night in 2006, and I started a chant in the bar at half time, which went “10 men down, one – nil up, we gonna win the fu*king cup!” and we almost did! But we had Titi Henry, who had he not missed that glorious chance, one on one with the Barca keeper, we would now have that trophy in our cabinet. We need to win something this year to create unity in our fan base.
PGL: I’m quite glad AW has decided no to dismiss the Cup. Last season’s decline began with the beating United handed us. Winning is a habit, but its easily broken. We need to go full throttle for every trophy we’re still in for. Momentum is key if we are to have any success this term.
EL: Van Persie’s “chocolate” leg. Lord bless im but hes learned to do things other than stand with it. RVP has been a player with big potential for several years now ,and I think he would be rated as one of the top 3 prem strikers if he wasnt so damn injury prone.
AH: Abou Diaby. Arsenal’s woes in a microcosm, a quality young player who lost so much confidence that even the basics of walking and chewing gum simultaneously became impossible. At its low point Diaby became painful to watch, his excellent display against Utd was quickly forgotten and he was widely pilloried as “bambi on ice”, “masquerading as a footballer”, and “simply not a professional football player in any meaningful sense”. Since being switched back into CM he has excelled, I think, sitting deep but linking play with his dribbling skills and ability to take the ball from defenders. Against Pompey and Plymouth only Nasri comes close over the two games. Perhaps a lesson in the patience needed with and support that should be shown to young players.
FTK: My candidate is none other than Carlos Vela, the guy just moves me everytime he is one the park. PGL, you must be proud to hear the Vela song sung at the Emirates, because even though I penned the final version, I got the inspiration from you pal! “Oh Vela, Vela, our Mexican superstar, he’s better than Cantona! Oh Vela Vela.” Arsene has to start him more and we will see the results go our way. When Aaron Ramsey, Vela and Wilshere were on the pitch against Plymouth, the pace of the play and the beautiful football returned to those levels that would guarantee victory. I loved the Sombrero moments in the Red Section Block six! Take a bow guys!
PGL: FTK I’m leaving you to take all the plaudits on that one. My version lacked the lyrical quality of yours! Only one real candidate here. RVP. He captained the side for the first time and I think it suited him. I’ve never been a fan of the ‘keeper being captain so he’s getting my vote in Cesc’s absence. He looks to have found his feet in front of goal again which has been a relief for us all. His talent has never been in question but now more than ever we need him to stay fit. If he does he can fire us back into the top four and hopefully further through the next couple of rounds in the CL.
PGL: I’m giving the Friday finger to Harry Redknapp. I hated the fu*ker before he joined the Spuds but he never seems to be off the tele since he joined them and it’s driving me to distraction. Sky seem to think he’s a footballing Messiah. He’s won one top-flight honour. That’s it. Get back in your box Harry, your not fit to lace the boots of AW.
AH: The close minded people who refuse to see any good in this team dspite its recent results, in our last 8 competative first team games (ie: excluding Burnley with the kids and Porto without a reason) we have won 5 drawn 3 and led in every tie game. We are nothing but a solid team defence and a fired up Adebeyor away from storming back into this league over the next 10 games. To read the papers you would think 10 players will be shipped out, they wont and they shouldn’t be: a lot of talent in this side, all we miss is the easy bits, not the hard.
FTK: My Friday finger goes to Peter Hill-Wood I’m afraid, when he comes out and contradicts another member of the Board. We know that money is tight, but why state the obvious, and give more ammunition to the Arsenal hating media. Sometimes I just wish that he would just put an upper class sock in it…
EL: Im going to go with Arshavins agent Dennis Lachter and his seeming combination of schizophrenia and oral diarrea. SHUT THE FCU K UP!!!!
PGL: This week I’m thankful that we are at least looking to bring in experience. I was worried we’d be chasing Fabian Delph and another couple of youngsters. The experience issue needs to be addressed more than ever now with Cesc’s absence. It’s also easy to think the likes of Inler would improve us in midfield but are any of the names linked to us better than what we have? Only Yaya ticks that box, as far as I’m concerned, as he plays for a top club in one of the other top leagues if we are going to spend big to solve the current problems we can’t bring someone is who will need time to step up to the level we play at.
AH: Kolo Toure, a warrior for this club in the past, I hope he doesn’t leave and that tomorrow is the first chapter in the story of returning to past glories. He looked very good again against Wigan, the charge from the back when Eboue knicked the ball was vintage Toure: calm but aggressive, always in control of the situation and fluent with the ball at feet. I think that this team is best when Kolo plays, I hope he can keep his place on merit now. (Credance clearwater, Born on the Bayou, just kicked on the stereo, appropriate perhaps? For the smooth, driven groove at least.)
FTK: I want to also thank Kolo Toure for all the years of devoted effort and professionalism that he gave our great club. He will always be the “Crazy Dog” midfielder for me, and the way that he attacked the ball and played for the badge with such passion makes him a real Arsenal legend!
EL: For the credit crunch. I’m sure there are a lot of Gooners who are suffering because of it (for which I do sympathise, unless you are an estate agent) So why be grateful for the credit crunch? Well for a start the cnuts Usmanov and Abromavich have lost a lot (although probably not as much as the poor buggers they stole their wealth from in the first place). I think the days of football clubs living significantly beyond their means are coming to an end. Arsenal are a very well run club. In years to come those crying spend spend spend will realise how shortsighted this view is. Mark my words at least 2 premiership clubs will do a Leeds over the next 2-3 years.
PGL: Ok, we hope that you enjoyed TGIF at the end of a week that has raised the hopes of many Gooners that we will at last be signing a “name” and that the prospects for success will be enhanced as a direct result.