Deadline Day

Who will be unveiled?

Here it is, transfer deadline day – the day that Sky Sports news presenters and reporters go into overdrive and old Bollock Face spends so long stopping to talk to reporters from his car window that he forgets to do any deals until last two hours of the window.

'arry should have watched the road

It’s all very needless hyperbole really but who gives a French Fig about that, it quite simply is brilliant stuff isn’t it? From the agony of being linked to every player to have ever graced a treatment room to the hilarity of Neil Warnock throwing good money after bad on Armand Traore, SWP & Anton Ferdinand (C’mon Neil, seriously?)

And of course you should never forget the utter bullshit stories spoon feed to us via a continuous yellow strip at the bottom of our television screens just to keep us hooked.

You can shove your reality TV & all singing all dancing crap of the world competitions up your hole, this is my twice a year fix of trash TV and time when I give an utter shite about clubs and players I wouldn’t normally give an utter shite about – I’m not too proud to admit that.

What always makes the transfer window even more gripping and entertaining for me is when Arsenal decide to take the plunge and sign some players, and not just teenagers that nobody has ever heard of but actual players that you’ve seen on the telly and stuff – real footballers with real football careers and international caps.

Well since Sunday that is exactly what we’ve been getting.

Ju

So far the club have confirmed the signing of South Korean Striker Chu Young Park who prefers to be known as Ju and will have J.Y.Park on his shirt. I’ve no idea why players can’t just have their actual names on their shirts anymore but to be fair as long as Ju does the bizzo on the pitch he can have ‘Paul Savill is a Tosser’ above the number 9 for all I care.

We stole him from under the noses of Lille and paid Monaco £3m for his services. It’s very much a short term deal because he’ll have to return to his homeland in 2013 to undertake national service, unless he does something spectacular like score a hat trick in the Champions League final which may earn him a pass.

I’ll be honest, I don’t know much about him and if I’ve seen him play I don’t remember it but I like the attitude he has so far portrayed and what he has had to say for himself –

“I will do my best, I will never give up, I will show my heart, I will give everything and hope the fans will support me”

 

Traore looks so happy to be there

Armand Traore has joined QPR on a three year deal – I’ve wasted enough time talking about the Senegalese left back on this blog so until he plays against us and either has a total shocker or the best game of his life this is the last mention of him.

Ze German

German International Per Mertesacker was given leave from the national teams camp yesterday to hold talks and undergo a medical at London Colney after we agreed a deal with Werder Bremen for the big mans services. It seems that everything has been agreed by all parties and the club will announce the signing at some point today.

So no complaining now – He is six foot six, has 75 international caps, has played in two world cups and a European championship and has considerable experience in European competition. Not at all bad for £8m

We’ve been linked with him since he was still at school (or so it seems) and on paper he looks like the type of defender we’ve all been calling for (Apart from the not being English thing).

Also a great dancer

Andre Santos – the Brazilian left back looks set to join us from Fenerbache and with he who I’m not mentioning again off to Loftus Road and Kieran Gibbs still locked in the Flump room for safe keeping it is certainly a position we needed to fill.

Like Mertesacker, Santos has considerable experience at International & European level and should give us some much needed stability at left back – unless he gets sent off or injured during his first game…

So that is three in and one out since Sunday, oh yes – almost forgot. Joel Campbell looks set to spend next season on loan with French side Lorient after unsurprisingly failing to gain a work permit. Anyway as I was saying..

That is three in and one out so far and we still have more than twelve hours to go until the window closes and we are certainly expected to make further additions to the squad. Who they will be is anyone’s guess right now but we all know that a creative midfielder is a must. A deal for Gary Cahill appears likely and unlikely in equal measure because reports keep changing. I wouldn’t be surprised to see it come off, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see it not.

The impossible dream?

We keep hearing that there will be a signing of epic proportions that will blow us away and I am living in a dream world where it will either be Franck Ribery or Wesley Sneijder.

The other impossible dream

Yes I do know how unlikely it is to see either of those deals come off but If after all these years I still believe me and Kylie have a chance (Don’t tell the wife) I’m sure as damn it not giving up this dream just yet.

So we just keep wondering who else will come in, who else will go out? Bendtner to Stoke? Chamakh out on loan? Almunia to Lidl? Squillaci lost in the Hampton Court Maze? WE JUST DON’T KNOW PEOPLE!

Follow us on Twitter for updates and ridiculous Tweets through out the day.

Thanks for reading

Paul.

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Forward, again.

Well if Sundays humiliation has achieved anything at all it is that the people who run our club have awoken from their summer slumber and seem to have finally realised that money must be spent and players brought.

That is all well and good but it certainly should not have taken anything like the magnitude of defeat for Arsene and the money men to burst into life. We’ve heard a few times from Ivan and Arsene that they and others are working hard and clocking up the hours attempting to get players in, with all the movement that is apparently taking place right now you have to wonder just how busy they previously were. They had three month plus to improve the side so why it has been left until the final few days of the transfer window and in the wake of Sundays crushing? It does make me somewhat suspicious.

It’s hard to know from where/who the reinvigorated pursuit of players has come from – On the one hand you may think that the penny finally dropped for Wenger and he has realised that the squad of players he currently has at his disposal are just not good enough as a group (and in a few cases individuals) to represent Arsenal football club and to compete on four fronts this season rather than suffer the embarrasment of the worst season under his stewardship.

It would be so disappointing if everything the Frenchman has done for the club & achieved in his fifteen years was just a side note to a disastrous fall from grace. He deserves better than that. I said yesterday that I think this should be his last season in charge of the side and I stand by that.

I have no personal issue with the boss, in fact I hold him in incredibly high esteem but everything in life runs a natural course and sometimes you have to hold your hands up and say that a change is needed. I would love for him to unveil a new and refreshed vision for the club. To excite us all with it and to implement it but I just can’t see that happening, although if it did I would back it and him as much as anyone.

This late attempt at feasting at the transfer table could have been initiated by the board, whether they saw the game or not they must be well aware of the result and all the implications of it. Indeed the fact that the club have come out and made the gesture of covering the cost of a future away game for all those Gooners who made the trip up to Old Trafford shows that they are most certainly aware that the PR machine must be cranked up to 11 and damage limitation must commence in terms of the corporate face of the club at the very least.

Due to our dramatic decline at the business end of last season we were lucky to get into the Champions League qualifying round and whilst we may have overcome Udinese over two legs it certainly wasn’t an easy passage into the big money rounds and they who count the pounds pence and shillings in the Highbury House counting room know only too well that for all the high praise of the clubs self sustainability model that a season or two without the European honey pot will quickly put a different complexion on our financial longevity.

So having seen or been made aware of the Old Trafford mauling the bean counters, spin merchants and head honchos will be well aware of not only the media reaction but that of it’s partners. At a time when our corporate backing looks paltry when compared to clubs like United and men in suits chant buzz words whilst attempting to shatter glass ceilings and illicit further funds from captains of industry and financial power houses, they can ill afford a collapse of epic proportions where it really matters – on the football pitch.

Equally the club can certainly not afford to loose it’s local and global audiences/fans the people who pay money to attend games and collect merchandise, the very heart and soul of any football club – the fan base.

All of these people have to be kept onside and have to continue to pump money into the clubs coughers hand over fist, the moment that stops or indeed slows down it is only a matter of time before shiny new stadiums are left half empty and the club on the whole begins to look as attractive to players fans and corporate sponsors a like as eighty two year old ladies with a glass eyes false teeth and a blue rinses wearing hot pants and  boob tubes (Unless of course a certain Mr Rooney suddenly becomes one of the above). It matters not how much money those who own the club have in their personal accounts, they certainly won’t want to share it with us.

So in equal measure those who make decisions and those who sign cheques have finally awoken to the reality of the situation. It still stinks that it has taken this humiliation for them to pull their collective fingers out of their arse but there we go, we can’t do much about that now.

It remains to be seen who we will or won’t sign by 11pm tomorrow night, we’re currently mooted to be in talks with so many players, clubs and agents that you wonder what all these ‘negotiators’ must have been doing to earn their corn prior to this.

Let’s just hope that this isn’t just a sticking plaster to appease the offended and the afflicted in the short term and that the club now realise how important its playing staff are and why you need the very best in order to compete and keep those shiny gold coins mounting up, we can never rest on our laurels and stagnate. The club have made much of the word ‘Forward’ during this 125 year anniversary period, it was the motto of the club when it was in its infancy and it must now be the by word for the continuation and reinvigoration of our club. Anything less is simply not good enough.

Thanks for reading. Keep an eye on our Twitter feed for transfer updates during the day.

Paul.

Eight

Down the years, and not just the Sky years, Old Trafford has played host to some real battles between the team it plays home to and the Arsenal – yesterday was less a battle and more an annihilation.

We knew we were heading North with a threadbare squad due to injuries, suspension and lack of investment. We knew that our chances of victory were minuscule at best and we knew that we were most likely set for an uncomfortable afternoon. What we got was an utter farce that completely nails home the reality of farcical summer.

This was our third league game of the season and the side that we fielded looked more like a side you might play with three games to go and the league wrapped up. At times like that you can throw players in, three games in when you’ve yet to win a game or even score a goal you can’t. It is suicidal and pretty much inviting the oncoming slaughter.

I’m sure Wenger has mentioned the players we had missing and has suggested that he could never have foreseen it (I’ve neither seen or read anything post match) but we could all see it coming. We’ve been watching it creep up on us since last season, and as this summer has progressed and our already decimated squad has been dismantled and sold off without any form of proactive restructuring, reinvestment or reinforcement we’ve sat waiting for it all to hit us with the force of Hurricane Irene. Yesterday it did.

We had players out there yesterday that quite frankly shouldn’t have been, some of them, like Jenkinson & Coquelin, you can feel a slight sympathy for. They have been lead to slaughter by Wenger, the man who so often states a refusal to “Kill a players career” as he puts it. Well what the hell does he think this would have done for Jenks? The boy was torn apart yesterday and at points looked like he wanted to be anywhere other than playing for the club he has supported his whole life. He even got a blocking from Theo at one point, that bastion of hard work and relentless slugging.

Young Franny Coquelin was a dim light in a sea of darkness, he equipped himself well and has a bright future. It was telling that when he was withdrawn in the second half the score line was an acceptable 3-1.

Neither of those two lads should be anywhere near our first team this early in the season and in such a pivotal fixture. This was the current league Champions on their own home ground. A team that after winning the league for the third consecutive season saw where weaknases dieted in their side and went out and strengthened. They rebuilt like they have time and again. They did everything we have failed to do. They were without either of their first choice centre backs but had players with the ability to step in and seamlessly fill the void.

We sold our first choice left back this summer and the man cited as his replacement has an appalling history of injuries for one so young leaving us to field a player who has spent the last two seasons on loan and is now set to join QPR for the remainder of this season.

That sums up our club right now. Here we have a player who is clearly not considered to be good enough to play for us but rather than cast him off we sanction loan deals season after season, occasionally seeing him return to the club for a few games in which he demonstrates why he isn’t good enough for the club.

The situation at left back has nothing to do with the sale of players like Cesc & Nasri, we weren’t waiting for them to either naff off or nail their colours to the mask before getting a replacement for Clichy in. Yes it would be brilliant if Kieran Gibbs could come in and be our left back for the next ten years but the truth is he can’t and he won’t, his injury record alone tells you that yet those who run our club are so blinkered to these things that they make no attempt to improve the situation,

It’s like that across the board with our current squad, yes if our first choice eleven (whoever they are now) are all fit then it’s a decent team but we’re reliant on on a group made up of the perennially injured and a handful of teenagers – how did we come to that?

Ferguson demonstrated yesterday everything that our so called “Project Youth” should have delivered by now. A set of experienced players buoyed by a collection of exceptionally gifted youngsters, old heads and young harts.

We have two and a half days to rebuild our squad and save our season from total collapse. It’s not a case of bringing in one or two players, we need real depth in every position because we just do not have it. A centre half and a striker will bring nothing to the table, we honestly need at least five or six players with real experience and ability not promise. Is that likely to happen in such a short time frame, well the last three months suggest not. Which means that we could be in for a long and arduous season.

There is no point In hitting a panic button right now and removing Wenger, the is no one else who will come in and do a better job then he will this season with the players we have at our disposal. But I can’t see how the Frenchman’s reign can continue past the end of this season, he has taken us as far as he possibly could during his fifteen years and it should never be belittled nor forgotten but right now he is seemingly unable to stop the rot that is setting in.

Wenger isn’t alone in this, our board, directors & executives alike are just as much to blame. There is no one for any of them or the manager to be accountable to except the fans and so far this summer they have proved that they don’t listen to us because we have been the warning beacons. We have sounded the alarm to let them know that this storm was coming and they have seeming chosen to ignore it.

We as supporters deserve much better than that, especially fans like those who were at Old Trafford yesterday and sung their hearts and would out during the massacre taking place upon the pitch.

We don’t have a game now until we do face Swansea at home on September the 10th, by that time we will hopefully have a fully fit squad but the focus over the next two days has to be investing in that squad. Wenger often says that he will only add players who are better than what we have, well watch the video of yesterday’s debacle Arsene and then let us know how that isn’t possible.

Thanks for reading.

Paul.

United Preview

So after our European exploits earlier in the week it’s back to Premier League duty today and it’s not a home game against lowly relegation threatened canon fodder (a bit early in the season for that anyway to be fair) it’s a trip to Old Trafford to face Manchester United.

We’ve not won at OT in seven years and with the perilous state our squad is currently in you have to say that the signs are ominous, but hey Liverpool had not beaten us in our own back yard for eleven years until last Saturday so let’s not be too dismissive just yet (There’s that positivity again)

The team news as I have it is fairly mixed – of course we know that due to suspension we are without Alex Song, Gervinho & Emmanuel Frimpong and due to injury we’ll be unable to call upon Jack Wilshere, Kieran Gibbs, Seb Squillaci, Nicklas Bendtner & of course Abou Diaby. And there were rumours circulating last night that Bacary Sagna was suffering an illness but at the time of writing I’m going to assume (somewhat due to hopeful desperation) that it is little more than a rumour or at least not anything bad enough to keep the French international out of the game.

But it’s not all doom and gloom, after limping off during the defeat to Liverpool Laurent Koscielny returns to the side and whilst he was set for a fitness test yesterday the signs are positive that Thomas Vermaelen will be fit to face the champions. Having our first choice centre back pairing available is certainly a boost, let’s hope they’re able to see the game out and even more importantly let’s hope that they’ll be paired together in the heart of our defence. I guess that with Gibbs once again missing from the side and Wenger seemingly uninterested in playing Armand Traore (who has been heavily linked with another loan move), although we may have no choice than to field him tomorrow, we could again see Bacary Sagna (illness permitting) moved over to fill the left back void with Carl Jenkinson once again having to step into the breach as it were and complete our back line.

Now that is not a slight on young Jenks what so ever, the lad has come in and performed admirably in quite testing circumstances and you have to say that each performance has seen a marked improvement from the last. But you have to consider that given the enormity of the step up he had taken and the amount of playing time he has so far undertaken in his short Arsenal career that tiredness will catch up with him. He looks to be a fit guy & I’m sure that pure adrenaline is playing it’s part when it comes to his match fitness but we can’t and shouldn’t expect that to last long term. Again, I don’t wish to do him an injustice but this is Mancheter United we’re playing this afternoon and they will exploit every and any chink in our armoury no matter how big or small that may be.

But if Jenks, who I must add does remind me of a young Rodney Trotter for some reason and must surely take on Tony Adams old nickname ‘Rodders’, starts the game on the bench and Sagna shifts flanks then it may be possible that with Johan Djourou fit we could see the Swiss partner Kozzer and Vermaelen switched to left back. That would most certainly be the obvious option were you looking to field a back four with the most experience but maybe not my prefered choice as I think TV is too good a centre half to be plotted out on the left.

The problem is that you also have to consider that Djourou maybe be required to plug the gap left by the twin suspensions of Song & Frimpong (or Frimpsong if you will) I’m quite sure that Johan has played a few games in that position before and it would certainly add a touch more stability and strength to our defensive area. I can’t really see who else could fill that role this afternoon so I would be amazed if it wasn’t Djourou, I guess he at least has the same haircut as Song if that counts for anything at all? Having said all this Francis Coquelin is in the squad and rumoured to be set for a start (Yep another Arsenal rumour)

If Vermaelen hasn’t passed that fitness test & Sagna is forced to miss out we could see a back four of Jenkinson – Koscielny – Miquel – Traore and that is frightening to be honest so let’s hope he has.

Although it seems that he can’t manage two games in succession these days Tomas Rosicky is likely to be given a midfield birth after his performance in the second half out in Italy on Wednesday night. Not only will that experience be vital we’ll need his creativity as well, it could be the key to unlocking United, if we stand any chance of unlocking United.

So if two of the midfield three are Djourou & Rosicky then I guess Aaron Ramsey will make up the trio. It was of course the Welshman who scored the winner in the defeat of Ferguson’s men at the grove towards the end of last season and at the moment he must be one of the first names on the team sheet.

I must admit that if that is our midfield line up, and it’s the strongest I can think of, then on paper it looks pretty weak if I’m honest and it could potentially be even weaker and inexperienced.

Surprisingly it’s up front that we could maybe be at our strongest, unless they’ve been maimed in the night (you wouldn’t rule it out at the moment) then Van Persie and Walcott will start and I would hazard a guess either Andrey Arshavin will make up the three although we shouldn’t rule out Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain making his debut or indeed Ryo.

So after all of that I think that, as I tweeted last night, trying to pick our starting XI for the game is like trying to name the successors to the thrown if you removed every royal you’ve heard of but I’m going to push my neck out, ignore anything which at this stage is just a rumour and suggest – Szczesny – Jenkinson – Koscielny – Vermaelen – Sagna – Djourou – Rosicky – Ramsey – Walcott – Van Persie – Arshavin.

The bench is anyone’s guess at this stage but young Dutch midfielder Ohuzhan Ozyakup looks set to take up his place on it alongside Fabianski & probably Henri Lansbury. The rest of the substitutes could be made up of youngsters, and maybe Manuel Almuina doing a turn as an emergency striker. Which reminds me that I have neither mentioned or indeed though of Marouane Chamakh – I wonder why that is?

It’s a shame we won’t be seeing Bendtner, I think he would have been up for a game like this given the circumstances. I wonder if at any point in the summer Wenger has made the Dane any promises of regular football which have fallen on deaf ears? Either Nik just wants out or the gaffer has lost faith in him too, either way I still think it’s a shame and think the lad will develop into a quality centre forward.

One player who’ll most certainly be starting is Wojicech Szczesny and he is undoubtedly going to have a busy afternoon but we know that he is pretty much fearless right now and we’ll be putting a lot of our hopes on the Polish keepers shoulders.

We’ll hopefully be buoyed by Wednesdays victory, that seems like clutching at straws I know but we don’t have much else right now.

We all know that SAF believes he knows how to beat us and recent history backs that up, his side have started the season like a whirlwind and after pulling Spurs apart on Monday night they’ll have been chomping at the bit to get at us over the past week. I would expect to see Ji Sung Park start the game, the Korean always seems to play against us and play well at that.

I’ll be honest our chances of victory are considerably slim but I’m sure the players will go out with a positive attitude and will give all they have. We just have to hope that if we are beaten then it won’t be a mauling.

All that this really does is highlight, again, how thin our squad is. I know that we have players to come back from injury and suspension but even if they were all available tomorrow it would in truth be little more than papering over the cracks.

As I’ve said I expect players to come in before the window closes, we know that the club are working on it and the boss has said he wants to bring in three or four including a striker. That striker could be Park Chu Young the Korean who after suffering relegation with Monaco last season was set to to move to Lille. It seems like Arsenal have swooped in to nab the player.

I’m not going to lie, I know nothing about Park so I can’t really give a critique but those who are in the know seem to be giving this the thumbs up. It certainly has all the hall marks of a Wenger signing, unbeknown to most and coming in for a small fee – in this case reported to be £3m.

What is quite confusing is that Park is due to serve two years national service & there were suggestions that Lille we’re set to pay an extra £2m in order for him to miss this. I’ve no idea if that is true or if indeed that would even be possible, who does the money go to the South Korean government?

Well I’m not going to worry about that now, I’m too busy worrying about this afternoon.

Apparently Gary Cahill had a bit of a mare against Liverpool yesterday, I’ve not seen the game nor any highlights. It’s hilarious that Bolton boss Owen Coyle has blamed the poor performance on our failed “bid” for the centre half saying -“I do think it had an effect on him today. It’s the first time I’ve seen him not be the normal outstanding lad that he is”.

Well that’s just not fair now is it, why did we have to come out and make details of our discussions with Bolton public knowledge? Oh yes that’s right, we didn’t it was the trotters boss and that fat little munchkin of a chairman who went around telling all and sundry that we had mooted an interest in doing a deal and had attempted to start the ball rolling with a somewhat low offer. I wonder why they did that, could it be due to the fact they’re desperate to plug their near £100m debt and want to get top whack for their prize asset who could walk away for free next summer? We’ll I’m not sure that opening your fat yaps and pissing off the most likely buyer and indeed the player himself is the best course of action to take in that case.

Reports today suggest we’ll return with a £12m bid and that Bolton will do business for £15m – we wait to see.

We’re linked with Arteta of Everton again. Long suggested as the player we would go for once Cesc had departed it seems the press forgot that (once Cesc had actually departed) until a couple of days ago. There is speculation of a cash plus NB52 loan bid, and as I’ve said before I think Nik heading to Goodison for a season of regular football would do him good but would we have to pay either all or at least a large share of his wages for that to happen, if indeed the picky bugger were to accept the move. Anyway what is the point of the Toffee’s getting a new striker in if they loose their most creative midfield player – oh hold in that all seems quite familiar, maybe I’ll stop there.

I’m persisting with the positive thinking today but it may not be enough, everyone please cross everything and anything you are able to and hope it is. Another defeat this early in the season could be critical. If it helps anyone, Vidic & Rafael miss out for United…

Oh yeah we’ve drawn Shrewsbury at home in the Carling Cup – Ha, the team that plays today could be similar to the team we put out in that tie. Funny right? Oh.

Thanks for reading – sorry for the lack of pictures today, due to the need of eating fried pig and taking a brisk walk while the rain holds off I just don’t have the time (Yes ok, I’m just being a bit lazy too)

Paul.

A little defence of Wenger

Good morning…

Well I have begun writing this yesterday, well it’s today at the moment as I know it but when you read this tomorrow, or today as it is at the time of you reading this, today will be yesterday unless you are reading this at some whole other point in the future in which case I wouldn’t like to suggest what day it might be.. Make sense?

As that was an odd introduction we may as well continue with the Bizarre –

Sir Alex Ferguson came out yesterday in defence of Arsene Wenger. When discussing the recent criticism the Frenchman has faced he of the red hooter said:

“The work he has done in the 15 years he has been at the club is the best in Arsenal’s history,”

“Yes, he has not won a trophy for six years but what does that mean? The quality of his side has not been reduced. He still has great quality in his teams”

Now it isn’t often I find myself agreeing with the Scot but he is absolutely right, in the current circumstances it is easy to only see the negative but we can’t just dismiss all that has come before and in relation to the past Fergie also said:

“The competition is far greater now. When Arsenal and ourselves were going head-to-head, that went on for about eight years”

Again he is right, there are now more than two teams competing for the major honours we have to offer in this country. We haven’t slumped into the disgrace that is Scottish football as many predicted in fact it has gone completely the other way largely due to the amount of money that certain clubs have had to spend. Some of those clubs have found that money via wealthy benefactors & others have spent millions they just don’t have in the hope that it will generate success & maybe in some cases & in some form it has – look at Spurs they played in the Champions League last season after a period of heavy investment but it lasted but one solitary season. Old bollock face thinks the way to reverse things is to go on another massive spending spree, well look what that approach did to his last club Portsmouth. They spent way beyond their means & won the FA Cup & got into Europe now after almost going out of business they’re milling about in the Championship barely staying afloat.

‘arry saw the writing on the wall there & jumped ship to the next cash cow leaving him free to absolve himself of any part in Pompey’s downfall.

It might not always bring success in the form of big shiny trophies but the sustainability of the club and it’s ability to continue to challenge for honours without resorting to the bank account of the never never has to be respected doesn’t it?

I get as wound up as much as the next fan when Wenger says that fifteen years of Champions League football & top four finishes are as good as trophies because they aren’t but we’re not strutting about like Charlie Big Bollocks pretending to be a new footballing super power.

All managers, players & fans want to win trophies but the number of clubs vastly outweighs the number of trophies available each season and as Fergie says there is just so much more competition now days.

It is hard to fight Wenger’s corner, as I’m typing this I can already hear the voices shouting “We should be one of the clubs who win those trophies” – yes maybe we should but in recent times we haven’t been but that is not to say we won’t be again and whilst Wenger may not be the man who delivers that in the end you have to say that Ferguson is right again when he asks of his old adversary “Who is going to replace him?”

Just look at their faces... urgh

Talking of spending money (or not) there was also a story floated about yesterday morning that Arsenal had approached Bolton with a £6m bid (plus add on’s) for Gary Cahill.

This caused outrage across the footballing spectrum from Bolton fans to journalists to Arsenal fans and seemingly even the Wanderers Chairman & manager. Owen Coyle said that the offer had to be described as “Derisory” but he also said that he knew that as a third-party & that there had been no ‘official’ written offer from the Gunners.

Trotters Chairman used his Twitter account to re-tweet a fans outrage at the sum supposedly being discussed. That re-tweet was quickly removed once Wenger, during his pre match presser, suggested that £6m certainly wasn’t the figure mentioned & that he was willing to confront Gartside in order for the man who was once best mates with Fat Sam to prove any of this was true.

Of course this all meant that a number of journalists all got there knickers in a twist over Arsene suggesting he was going to “confront” Gartside & for not spending enough money or offering up enough for a player in the last year of his contract thus comparing that fact to the money we received for Samir Nasri & Gael Clichy blah blah etc…

The fact is Gary Cahill is not worth £17m especially as he is in the last twelve months of his contract & if we approached Bolton with a sum in or around that ball park they would undoubtedly ask for more. Why would we not go in with a lower offer to strategy things moving? In fact it was only a few days ago that Wenger was being lambasted for not making any kind of offer, he can’t do right for doing wrong at times.

Bolton need the money & we want the player, at the moment it’s all just a game of brinkmanship, all parties involved want the best deal they can get – why wouldn’t they?

I’ve a feeling that Cahill will be an Arsenal player come the close of the transfer window but I could be wrong. But Bolton clearly want to sell & are trying to squeeze all they can out of a potential buyer – they’ve been coming out almost weekly during the summer saying how they’ve had no bids in order to garner interest & why come out & make details of discussions known now? Attempts at price hiking? Fair play to them but they’re not in as strong a position as they think they are & they’re most certainly in no position to be making attempts to take the moral high ground.

In fact as Wenger suggested we may not complete any signings & he is right we might not but that isn’t to say (as some take great delight in doing) that the club are not trying to get players in, it’s just that there is no guarantee. We can only sign players if their clubs agree to let them go and that depends on us meeting the selling clubs valuation of the player which could be a million miles away from our own. A player, for the most part, is surely only worth what someone will pay for him? We shouldn’t have to over pay because we are Arsenal & we’ll be torn apart if we don’t spend every last penny the Emirates money vaults might hold. Should we?

Well now it’s Saturday morning & I’ve woken up in Bristol (140 miles from home)

To the vest of my knowledge we’ve still not signed anyone and rumours are circulating that we’re moving away from a bid from Cahill but could be going after Arteta & Fellanini at Everton. Two players I wouldn’t mind seeing at the Arsenal. Centre half, centre forward and a left back still as equally required & time is running out.

What we do know is that even if anyone were to sign today they can’t play at Old Trafford tomorrow but the good news is that Kozzer & TV look set to return – a solid back line is imperative against the champions. Hopefully Gibbs can return at left back and Sagna can switch back to the right.

But I’ll look at all of that far more comprehensively tomorrow morning (bright and early not the mud morning hour I’m posting this!)

One other interesting bit of news is that it is reported that Sol Campbell has been offered a coaching role in the clubs youth set up. That would surely be a fantastic appointment – I know the big man may have started his career down the road but he is to my mind an Arsenal man. Can’t see Ade emulating big Sol in a role reversal can you?

Right sorry about the somewhat random nature if this post – I must stop waking up in far away towns on Saturday mornings!

Thanks for reading

Paul

Travels, Villains & Heroes

Well with Champions League qualification secured, the draw for the group stage complete & a trip to Old Trafford coming up on Sunday it feels like the season has really kicked up a gear after a somewhat whimpering start.

The balls of fate

Lets start with our Champions League group shall we –

It isn’t the easiest group (F) we could have had but it certainly is one that I believe we can qualify from. What immediately strikes you is the fact that we’ll have no marathon travels with our opponents Olympique de Marseille, Olympiacos and Borussia Dortmund being based in France, Greece & Germany respectively. The fact we’ll be playing in local Europe rather than the far off former outposts of the Eastern Block is a real positive as is the fact that we’ll see decent continental opposition visit the grove over the next few months.

You have to look at how our fixture list has worked around these group games and see that as a massive result.

Don't go back to Dortmund... I mean Dalston.

After the home game against Swansea (Sept 10th) we travel to Dortmund to face Tommy Rosicky’s former club on September 13th. The home tie with Olympiacos on September 28th is sandwiched between the visit of Owen Coyle’s Bolton Wanderers to the grove (Sept 24th) and the first NLD in Riotsville on October 2nd. We travel to the south of France on October 19th which is either side of home games against Sunderland (Oct 15th) & Stoke City Rugby Club (Oct 22nd)

Marseille come to London (Nov 1st) just a few days after our annual visit to Stamford Bridge (Oct 29th) & a few days before the trip to the Hawthorns (Nov 5th). We travel to Norwich on November 19th, play host to Borussia Dortmund on the 23rd then have a day out by the river & face Fulham on the 26th. We face Wigan at the DW on December 3rd then travel to Greece for the return against Olympiacos on the 6th before facing David Moyes Everton back at home on the 10th.

So all in all there isn’t a great deal of travelling to be done, even with our away games in the league, which you would like to think will be a real advantage. There is no doubt that the three foreign sides will make life anything but easy, especially when they are on home soil but I think that we can progress from the group and into the knock-out rounds.

Run by Steve Williams

I hope Samir Nasri is disappointed that he has missed the chance of facing his former side, I hope it is eating him up inside, that he didn’t sleep last night and that he’ll have to spend the next six months in a medical room at the United Stadium which is most likely run by someone who was once associated with our club (As that seems to be the way that City operate)

"Yeah, Sky Walker... Like 'im good player, good player"

Speaking of former players & people we don’t like… I see Adebayor has joined that lot down the road for a seasons loan. What a coming together of the forces of darkness that is! I wonder what pop star the Togolese journey man will compare his new club too? I’m guessing if by his reckoning AC Milan are Beyonce then the spuds can’t be anywhere above Susan Boyle? I give it two days until old ball bag face is lauding his new signing as the best striker in Europe & two months before the two of them are slagging each other off in the current bun.

Right enough of horrible bastards we don’t like lets focus on a proper Gooner –

A new hope

Wojciech Szczesny has been talking about the teams self belief & also how his wonder save against Udinese was nothing of the sort. Jeez, he is modest too – what a guy!

The Pole isn’t the only one who has been discussing the sides self belief RVP & Jenks have been at it too whilst Tommy Vermaelen has clearly been reading this blog because he has also started talking about ‘Positive Thinking’.

We’re still being linked with the players we’ve been linked to for months but as yet we’re seemingly no closer to securing signatures, that said it was telling that Ivan Gazidas wasn’t at the Champions League draw yesterday. You can only assume (and hope) that he is busy down in the bat cave attempting to bolster the ranks. In fact David Miles was at the draw and intimated that we are indeed pressing on with trying to get deals done and will be doing so until the transfer window closes.

A foot note to that is that in order for any new player to be eligible for the trip to OT on Sunday deals must be complete in their entirety by mid day today. Doubtful is the word that comes to mind, followed by unlikely…

"Oi! Woolnough, shut it!"

Now apparently Arsene won’t be speaking to the men from the written press today for reasons which are unclear, but on the day that old red nose kissed and made up with aunty  many journos including Matt Law from the Express jumped on Wenger and criticised him for it via Twitter. In fairness to Matt he reigned in his criticism when it was pointed out to him that Wenger was more than willing to talk to him and many others in Italy on the day of the Udinese clash which was incidentally the day we sold Samir Nasri. It’s all something and nothing really but it’s somewhat telling that as soon as Wenger has lifted his reputation out of the gutter, when many said it couldn’t be done, they find a new stick to beat him down with.

Well that’s it for today – we’ll have a bit more of a look towards Sundays clash with United tomorrow.

Thanks for reading.

Paul.

Back to winning ways

Udinese 1 – 2 Arsenal (Arsenal win 3-1 on aggregate)

Udinese – Handanovic. Ekstrand. Benatia (Pasquale 87). Danilo. Isla (Denis 83). Ageymang-Badu. Asamoah. Armero. Di Natale. Pinzi (Fabbrini 63). Subs not used: Basta. Abdi. Doubi.

Goal: Di Natale 39

Arsenal – Szczesny. Jenkinson. Vermaelen. Djourou. Sagna. Song. Frimpong (Rosicky 45). Ramsey. Walcott (Arshavin 90). Gervinho (Traore 85). Van Persie. Subs not used: Fabianski. Oxlade-Chamberlain. Chamakh. Miquel.

Goals: Van Persie 55. Walcott 69.

Le Gaffer

Well that was much more like it wasn’t it!

A performance of real drive & determination flanked by the victory it rightly deserved.

The Gunners line up was not the one I had expected to see but it certainly looked like a side that could get the job done.

Arsenal had plenty of early possession and the tempo was as frantic as it had been in the first leg with both sides looking to make an early breakthrough. You would have though that as we were effectively playing with too defensive midfielders we might have stemmed much of the Italian attacking threat but Alex Song seemed determined to get forward as much as possible & leave much of the donkey work to Emmanuel Frimpong. The Ghanaian, who was yesterday called up by England U21’s, certainly gave another good account of himself, always looking to make tackles & intercept the ball. Some of those tackles were maybe a little meaty for the Udinese players who you knew would make the most of anything that was a bit rash.

Just as last week, at the grove, Gervinho & Walcott were full of running early on but we still seemed like we would be lacking that clinical cutting edge and when the Italians went one up to level the tie I admit I did start to have a little worry. In fact Theo had fluffed a glorious chance to put us in complete control of the tie about half an hour in. The ref, who had an excellent first 45, played advantage after Tommy Vermaelen had gone down. Gervinho attacked down the left flank towards the Udinese goal & managed to cut back and find Theo who couldn’t compose himself and placed his shot straight at Handanovic & although the keeper allowed the ball to rebound into the path of Robin Van Persie he made up for it by saving the Dutchman’s follow up.

You suspected that we may have missed our chance, especially when Udinese scored just minutes later.

Back in the game

It was of course the stalwart Antonio Di Natale who got the home side back in the tie – the captain had already struck the post about twenty minutes in and looked in a determined mood. It was in the 39th minute that the skipper drifted in behind Djourou & was meet with a pin point cross, from Pinzi, which he looped over Szczesny and into the far left hand corner of the goal. From head to net it seemed to take an age as the ball drifted towards goal and at first I thought it had gone wide, but the Italians had taken the lead and were back in the game.

Even though one goal would put us back in the driving seat you sensed that the home side certainly had the upper hand.

It was a slight relief when half time came, between the goal & the whistle we seemed to have lost a little of our composure & with the next 45 being of such importance you worried if this side would be able to pick themselves up and come back into it. Well they certainly did…

Frimpong was replaced by Tomas Rosicky in what was an inspired move by Wenger, the youngster had certainly done himself and his budding reputation no harm but the Czech international had one of the best halves of football his Arsenal career has produced.

Leading from the front

Ten minutes into the second half and the ever industrious Gervinho again found space down the left flank, dribbled into the box and crossed from the by-line, the ball found RVP and the skipper tucked it away from six yards out to put us right back in the mix. The Italians now had to score twice without reply to advance into today’s group stage draw and as the momentum had seemingly switched back to us couldn’t see it happening. Until…

Just three minutes after our goal the Italian team were handed a lifeline in the form of a penalty kick, to say the decision to award it was dubious would be an understatement. From an in swinging Udinese corner the ball struck the arm of Vermaelen, it certainly wasn’t an obvious handball and replays showed that it was more ball to hand than the other way around. I also think that the Belgian was nudged in the direction of the ball, although most likely not in a deliberate attempt to enforce the outcome it did.

The referee, who didn’t show any of the nous he had in the first half, hadn’t even seen the supposed infringement and was informed by the extra official behind the Arsenal goal.

My hero

Unsurprisingly it was Di Natale who stepped up to take the spot kick, now being someone who grew up watching Dave Seaman I always like to think our keepers will save penalties but it’s more blind hope than any kind of true faith. So the little voice in the back of my mind considered that Szczesny could keep the ball out but was quickly dismissed as the Italian struck the ball with real power. I feared the worse, at that moment I knew Di Natale would score and we would be out, confined to Thursday nights with that lot down the road. But, seemingly, out of nowhere a gloved hand atop an out stretched arm appeared to meet the ball and send it over the cross bar.

It was the best penalty save I have ever seen, even better than old Safe Hands against Sampdoria at Highbury all those years ago. It was incredible, the sensation I felt was filled with as much euphoria as any goal has ever produced. I knew, the team knew, everyone knew that there was then no way we would be beaten.

Theo Theo...

Arsenal went on the attack and ten minutes later Theo made up for his earlier failure to score and put the tie to bed. Powering past Udinese defenders he went one on one with the keeper and showed fantastic nerve to hold off from launching his shot until just the right moment. It was a wonderful finish and in all honesty was no less than Theo & the team as a whole deserved. Over the two legs I think we created more and the aggregate score line speaks for itself.

The travelling 400 could be heard clearly and all the frustration of the last six months was not quite made up for but was certainly blown away and resigned to memory.

The Italians had given us a game (two) and were deserving of many plaudits but after Walcott’s goal they began to let themselves down with off the ball elbows (missed by ref and extra officials alike) nudges and snide little fouls. All clear indications that we had the beating of them and they knew they couldn’t come back again.

Thursday nights channel 5

It was such a pleasing victory for the players & indeed the manager, all have had to endure criticism of late but none more so than Wenger.

As I have said this result doesn’t wipe everything under the carpet, there is still the need for new recruits as there was earlier in the day and there are defiantly improvements to be made in the side but whilst it was the men on the pitch who won the game credit must go to Wenger especially for the second half change and performance. The team could easily have come out with their heads down but they didn’t they came out & fought. The addition of Rosicky gave us more creativity and whilst we’re often criticised for having no plan B that was surely as good a tactical switch as we have seen from le boss.

It’s difficult to pick out a man of the match, Vermaelen, Jenkinson & Sagna were brilliant. Gervinho, Walcott & RVP the same whilst Rosicky reminded us all of what he is capable of. But I’m going to have to give it to Wojicech Szczesny because that save was both incredible & inspirational.

The passion that players like the Pole, Jack Wilshere & Emmanuel Frimpong have for our club is incredible, even for ones so young they are true Gooners in every sense and will form the base of our side for years to come.

The draw for the group stages takes place this afternoon and we’ll be lucky to get an easy passage through to the last sixteen but the important thing is we’re still a Champions League team.

Of similar importance is how the team kicks on from here, as we all know players need to come in and I’m sure before the close of the window they will, but the players that we have right now need to use this result & performance as a springboard and take the determination & the confidance with them to Old Trafford this Sunday. United would love nothing more than to bring us crashing back down to earth so lets not let ’em.

Right I must do some work now, which means I’ve run out of time to tell you how much of a massive wanker Samir Nasri is – but you don’t need me to tell you right.

Thanks for reading!

Paul.

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