Morning all. It was nail biting on Wednesday, no? Our season looks like it’s going to be as bumpy and ugly as teenage acne from start to finish. RVP’s biscuit legs are holding up though and the man looks like a world-beater. The Russian Saga rages on and its not really worth talking about so fingers crossed for whatever side of the fence your sitting on! Anyway lets have a look at the week that was…
PGL: A stuttering trip to Cardiff. Its added to the number of games we’ve got to play but I’m glad we’re still in it. I’d love to see us win the cup. Not just for the short-term gain of a trophy but I think this squad needs to win something to propel it forward for the next few years. Winning is as much about mentality as talent at the highest level. The occasion clearly got to Ramsey and gave us a reminder of his tender years. Everton was a right scrap. I don’t think we deserved to lose the game but we really didn’t do enough to win it. The two sides cancelled each other out across the middle and very few clear chances were created. Our run in and chase for 4th looks more and more dependant on RVP. He’s the one who has really stepped up and if Cesc can come back and hit the ground running I think we can creep back into the top four.
AH: For me PGL both games this week highlight something that we do poorly and is often done well against us: close down play with tenacity and a high work rate. We saw against Cardiff that even the least technically able team with the right attitude and decent fitness can force the opposition into errors. I just do not see why or how we came to a point where our entire defensive philosophy is essentially, “stand back, stay calm, wait for an error, and watch a goal when one doesn’t come”. This is purely to do with mentality and coaching. It is disheartening for me not to even be able to induge in my usual myopic pro-Arsenal, I love Arsene, everything will come good next game rants, but we missed a big chance Wednesday and sadly I cannot help but think that lays more on the managers shoulders than the players.
FTK: The two performances reaaly sum up the frustration being experienced and voiced from Arsenal fans. We cannot explain the inconsistency from a team that is largely unchanged from last season. I am going to upset people yet again by saying that this is no surprise to me, as I had a raging debate with AH about the squad being weaker after the summer. OK we got Nasri, but the absence of a centre back and a DCM has been so obvious, that Gooners who have been the most loyal Wenger supporters have shook their head in despair. It is noticeable that even the commentators on Arsenal TV online are now openly questioning why we are maintaining the current squad, even daring to criticise Eboue, who really has lost the plot now for all to see. What we as Gooners must not do however is go into self destruct mode. Everyone at the club is unhappy with the current loss of form, but to be honest, look at the facts. Arsenal always for some reason have a disastrous November. This year we lost Theo Walcott for three months on Nov 18th after having that crisis of confidence by conceding two late goals against Tottenham on Oct 29th at The Emirates.
There was widespread self criticism and destruction from many Gooners with the media leading the anti-Arsenal cry. I do believe that this affected our team as we then went on to lose three games in fairly rapid succession followed by losing Cesc Fabregas through injury against Liverpool in January. Yet since then Arsene Wenger and Robin van Persie have managed to go unbeaten in the Premier league since the dramatic loss of our captain, by dropping only four points from the six league games played. (Forget the cup competitions for the moment.) Surely we must take heart from that, and whilst Aston Villa are playing well, lets hope that they take points away from our rivals in the shape of draws. Then we can easily get back into the top four.
In fact I predict that we will finish third or second. Incredulous and open mouthed guys? Well here’s WHY Gooners must not give up hope. The next eight PL games before the crunch game away to Liverpool on April 18th have only three away games against the scum on Feb 8 and West Brom and the Barcodes in March. Otherwise we have West Ham, Sunderland, Fulham, Blackburn Rovers and Man City ALL at home. Now even this squad should be able to win a large number of those games at fortress Emirates, plus the fact that we will see the return of Eduardo, Fabregas, Theo Walcott and Rosicky! Aston Villa still have to face Chelsea, Liverpool and Man Utd before we play Liverpool. The Premier League table could make for very interesting reading by April 4th after the Aston Villa v Man Utd game. I know that I am criticised for banging the Arsenal drum with too much passion, but this is the factual reason why Gooners must NOT give up on their team. If we win all of our home games against teams that have never beaten us at the Emirates(bar West Ham) then we will rip ourselves into the top four with ease! So that is my prediction. If Gooners support their team at the Emirates as loudly as the Away crew do, then we will prevail with relative ease. C’mon Gooners, let’s be positive and lets do this!!!
PGL: A big debate hit the insider yesterday in the shape of a debate about the Youth Policy. Whatever the rights and wrongs of it, it was the author of the piece, and my fellow TGIFer Arsenhollis who made a point that has left me thinking. AH asked about our more experienced players and questioned if they have in fact let the young players and the rest of the squad down. I can’t argue. RVP aside our big players haven’t weighed in with massive performances that have won us games. Ade looks like a fish out of water and seems to be intent on moaning his way through every 90 minutes of football. I’m sure all the players are frustrated but so are we and when us Gooners turn out in force on a Wednesday Night in Liverpool we expect more from one of our ‘star’ players. Ade aside, as AH said, not many of our more established players have impressed this season. It’s a worry.
AH: I have been banging that drum for a while dude, just like the one I mentioned above, shame I wasn’t getting proved right the other way round though. I honestly think that, relative to what we could realistically expect, the players most often criticised on here are actually our best performers. Gallas, Toure, and particularly Adebeyor have been unmitigated failures judged against reputation this year. Clichy has regressed, hopefully a temporary thing. Cesc finally suffered an inevitabe bout of fatigue after three years of godliness. Almunia is the wrong sort of average, a player for Arsenal should be rated for what they do, not what they don’t do – win games dude, don’t be anonymous.
In comparison, Song and Denilson, despite ludicrously harsh early analysis, are winning people over. Diaby is fit at least, give the rest time. Djourou simply proves the point, 22, he has saved our season up until now by stabilising the defence. Walcott was a hero early doors until injury bit. Nasri? Amazing start to a career at the club given age and new environment.
In spite of this people still think that our weaknes s is our youth and lack of signings, it isn’t. Our problem is older, petulant, demotivated players who have let the kids down – that and injuries. A top form Toure, Ade form last year, and a match winning keeper and we are level with manure. Those people who say that the writing was on the wall before the seaosn started maybe have a case, interesting to see how Wenger responds to his error, next season is surely the last on credit.
FTK: Well after my call to arms above, I have to say that Arsene Wenger must take the blame for not unleashing Carlos Vela as super sub on the Premiership. Even diminuitive Jack Wilshere has shown himself more than physically capable of playing in the Premier League. I suspect that Wenger will regret putting so much of his faith in the likes of Eboue, Bendtner and Adebayor. The biggest example was how the youth destroyed a Wigan team 3-0 which was only lacking Emil Heskey in the Carling Cup but the seniors only managed a 1-0 scraped victory.
“It is very difficult to assess what kind of impact the player will have on the club and the results of the club. For example with Defoe and Chimbonda going back to Tottenham there is no uncertainty about their performance, but when I see Rodallega go to Wigan it is difficult to judge now what sort of impact he will have. Maybe he will be an instant success but normally it will take three or four months to settle.”
PGL: Is this AW managing the expectations we might have of a new signing or saying he won’t be buying cause a signing won’t make much of a difference? As that dude on Blind Date used to say “The decision is yours!”
AH: He has a point PGL, people speak as if one guy worth £20 mil is going to make a huge difference, history suggest otherwise. Forget Reyes or Wiltord, even Jeffers, some of our biggest signings. Even Henry, Bergkamp, and Pires had to adapt and think of their quality. It is very hard for attacking players to have an instant effect on a team. How much is Arshavin worth as a 28 year old in the summer unproven outside Russia and with all sorts of quality players much younger available?
FTK: This on/off saga with Arshavin has shown how some selling clubs really take the piss with Arsenal. They expect Arsenal to pay top dollar as they are or were one of the top four and being among the “richest”clubs in Europe. Zenit have by Wenger’s own words been speaking with many voices and saying different things to who ever would serve their cause. It is interesting to note that the Zenit want 15 million up front as opposed to the 12 plus 3 formula from Arsenal. I predict that Arsenal will not budge before Sunday, with Zenit sweating on the prospect of losing Arshavin for a relatively paltry 7 million on a “Webster” on May 29th. So watch this space, if the deal does not go through, we can still save our season for reasons I have explained above, so in a sense I am inclined to agree with AH. I would love to be a fly on Ivan Gazidis’s wall at the moment, because he must be influencing the deal with his intellect and his extensive experience of negotiating in the MLS. To get Zenit to climb down from their “non negotiable” 20 million was some feat! Well done Ivan, if we lose Arshavin, many Gooners will be sad, but is he really going to make the difference in our season given what I have said above? He will take some time to settle into the Arsenal formation, and at the expense of who?
PGL: I’m giving my performance of the week to all the Gooners at Goodison on Wednesday. Start to finish right behind the side. Fantastic support and even when we went one nil down we didn’t get on the back of the side. “Does the Social know you’re here” being chant of the night! It’s a small contribution to our teams performance but right now we have to stand behind a stuttering side. We have had it so good for so long, tuning on the team and manager when they need us most, is treason.
AH: I feel guilty for venting my dashed hopes above, in a hurried attempt to redeem dignity let me praise the away support, Arsene Wenger my lord, Adebeyor, and of course Eboue Emmanuel.
FTK: The Away crew take a bow, you have made Arsenal proud again!
PGL: I’m giving the Friday finger to all those Liverpool fans who have been crowing on about how they are throwing away the title. Did they really think they wouldn’t have a dip at some point? Are they that arrogant? They talk about the title like they have some sort of divine right to win it. Your manager has bottled it, your captain has bottled someone and you won’t be opeing bottles of champagne come May. Hardy Har Har.
AH: Any hysteric who crowed after we lost, oops, drew on Wednesday who decided that was the time to say this team was shit again and that they had been proved right in that judgement. We may not win the title, we may actually have underachieved for our talent and expectation, bt this is a fine side, young and on the up, who deserve 100% support. Rather be in our position than the Chavs, scum, or Scousers frankly.
FTK: I’m with AH on this one. Any fan who comes to the Emirates between now and April who fails to cheer or sits and Boos, should be texted to the Arsenal anti-social messaging service and forcibly ejected…lol
PGL: This week I’m thankful that I’m a Gooner. Simple as that. There is no better feeling than waking up each day, leaving the house for work, sitting down at your desk knowing your not a Spud! With the fixture at Sh* te Hart Lane being on the horizon lets start the grief today. Bentley is banned though so we’ll just have to direct all our grief at the umpteen other w*nkers on there books!
AH: I give thanks every day I wasn’t born a Spurs fan dude.
FTK: Well guys I am thankful for TGIF, and yet again I say take a bow PGL and AH!, because this TGIF is a good feature which Gooners the world over enjoy every week!
***BREAKING NEWS UPDATE 09:30 RUSSIAN MEDIA***
ARSHAVIN TO BREAK DEADLOCK?
MOSCOW, January 30 (RIA Novosti) – Andrei Arshavin is ready to pay back Zenit St. Petersburg half of a $5 million bonus he received for signing a 4-year contract in 2006 to ensure his move to Arsenal goes ahead, Sovetski Sport said Friday.
The paper cited sources “close to the player.” It is understood that the money would be added to the 15 million pounds [$21.5 million] that Arsenal have offered for the 27-year-old St. Petersburg native.
“The contract has only been half fulfilled, and therefore it is logical that he should return half of the sum to Zenit,” the club’s general director, Maxim Mitrofanov, told the paper on Wednesday.
Mitrofanov also earlier suggested that Arshavin should drop his wage demands in order to help the deal go through.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said on Wednesday evening that the Arshavin deal was “90% completed.”
“The deal is maybe 90 per cent completed. However, the final 10 per cent of any deal can be the most difficult,” he told journalists after Arsenal had drawn 1-1 with Everton.
Arshavin emerged from the shadows of Russian soccer last summer after unexpectedly leading the national side to the semi-finals of Euro 2008. He immediately became a transfer target for a number of clubs, including Spanish giants Barcelona, but Gazprom-controlled Zenit turned down bids in the region of $30 million as “too low.”
Arshavin then threatened to go on strike if he was not sold in the winter transfer window. This, coupled with the global financial crisis, saw Zenit drop their price for the forward.
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