Rambo Strikes Late

A late winner away from home, three points and climbing to the top of our group – what more could we have asked for last night?

The match itself, whilst not a total doozy, wasn’t a shining example of European football at it’s best so I’m not going to try to force anyone to re-live it through written word. Instead lets focus on the Television coverage and a few of our players…

Saving the savage ‘slagging-off’ for last lets start with the players –

Aaron Ramsey – The young Welshman has come in for a little criticism of late which I think has been harsh, but not totally without merit. At no point has Rambo lifted up Andrey Arshavin’s blanket and asked ‘Can I hide under here with you?‘. The Welsh skipper keeps going and gives his all in every game he plays for club and country. I know I keep saying it but with the Spaniard gone and Jack out injured  a lot is being asked of Ramsey this season. I was thrilled that he got the winner right at the death after coming on in place of Andrey Arshavin in the 78th minute (The Russian had given another outstanding impression of the invisible character portrayed by Kevin Bacon in the film Hollow Man) Given that the chance came so late on Ramsey showed great composure to put the ball past Steve Mandanda and win the game, had the chance fallen to someone else we may have been cursing at the final whistle rather than celebrating. That brings me on nicely to…

Theo Walcott – It’s not happening is it? At times it happens, but then for the majority of the time it fails to happen and we all forget those rare occasions when it does happen. There were few clear-cut openings in front of the L’OM goal aside from the one that produced the winner, but the best of the rest fell to Theo and he chocked. For someone who repeatedly states a desire to be played down the middle he really doesn’t do his chances of being picked to play there much good when he wastes the kind of opportunities like last nights or  the one against Bolton last month. I saw some people were asking yesterday why there was so much surprise around AOC’s omission form the 18 man squad, well in my view it’s because the Ox should be there putting pressure on Theo because no one else is. I suggested in yesterday’s post that he should have been replaced by Gervinho and may have been more effective coming from the bench late on but it seems the Arsene still won’t listen to me. At the moment it’s almost taken for granted that Walcott will start out on the right, I’m not sure how much of a fight he is having to put up in order to keep his place – seemingly none. I think the biggest problem is he either has it in him and shows that on a regular basis or the times when he has looked mustard will just start to look like a fluke. It’s all a little similar to Ashavin really and at a time when we’re maybe lacking a bit of creativity from midfield and we’re failing to provide sufficient support for Van Persie up front we can hardly afford to carry one player let alone two.  But it’s not impossible for a player to take the bull by the horns and show a marked improvement, look at…

Carl Jankinson – I was delighted by Jenk’s performance at right back last night. There were suggestions prior to the game that the youngster should be dropped to the bench and a centre half take his place on the right but you’ve got to play players in their best positions and not only that but you could clearly see that after completing the game against Sunderland on Sunday, and admirably so, Jenkinson grew in strength as the game went on last night and it was a real disappointment to see him leave the field with a knee injury in the 62nd minute. We’ll wait to see what the reports are on the extent of that injury today but I really do hope he’ll be fit to face Stoke on Sunday, the more he plays the better he’ll become. He is improving as a defender but you’ve also got to applaud his crossing, we saw it out in Asia in pre season and he delivered again in that department last night – as Arse2Mouse Tweeted last night why not see if he can be as prolific with his delivery from corners? Fair play to Johan Djourou also, he did well when he came on in place of Jenks. If the former Charlton lad is out of this weekends clash with SCRFC then the Swiss would be my choice to deputise because frankly…

Laurent Koscielny is far too good a centre half to be fannying about as a makeshift right back. The Frenchman was absolutely outstanding last night, our best player by a country mile and certainly the Man of the Match. Again he is a player who has come in for criticism at times and again I’ve considered that criticism to be harsh and in the main totally unfounded. The £10m we paid Lorient in 2010 looks an absolute bargain, especially when you consider that from before we signed him and up until this summer we were being urged by many to spend £15m and upwards on Jagielka or Cahill. I know which player I would rather have and as I said in a post a while back, I believe that Kozzer and Vermaelen can forge an outstanding partnership at the heart of our defence. Last night was Koscielny’s 54th game for the Gunners and in truth not even Arsene could have envisioned that a guy who just three seasons ago was playing in the French second division would have clocked up so many Arsenal appearances in such a short time. He has formed a solid partnership with Per Mertesacker, who was also on fine form again last night, and it will be harsh on the big German if he is relegated to the bench once Vermaelen returns but it would be even harsher on Koscielny. The level of performance he produced last night should come as no surprise to anyone, yes he is prone to the odd mistake but which player isn’t? It reminds me a bit of Martin Keown, rightly regarded as an Arsenal legend now it took a while for the defender to be given the plaudits he deserved upon his return to Highbury.

I’m not going to go into so much detail with every player, I thought they all performed well last night so I’ll just say briefly that…

Mickey Arteta put in another dogged shift in midfield, I know he has always had that in his locker but you have to give credit to him, he may have thought, as many did, that he was going to shoulder the creative burden this season but he is yet to be afforded much of an opportunity for that in the short time he has been at the club but has dug in and performed the task assigned to him as well as you could ask. Tommy Rosicky continued his renaissance, it’ll be interesting to see where he starts Sundays game and despite the early and needless booking Alex Song had another good game in the heart of our midfield. RVP gave his usual committed skippers performance but in truth didn’t get much support up front, Szszesny was rarely called into action but was ready and alert when he was and lastly Andy Santos blew hot and cold in my opinion. The Brazilian in him comes out during those surging sorties into the opposition half but as a defender he has yet to float my boat and at this moment in time Kieran Gibbs, when fit obviously, would be my choice for that birth.

So in summary we got what you want from a Champions League away game – three points. The bonus is another clean sheet, topping the group (for now) and keeping our good run going. Despite our flaws five wins out of six is good going by any standards and if we can take advantage of our extra days rest and put Stoke to the sword on Sunday then things will continue to look brighter.

So finally I’ll say a quick word about ITV’s coverage last night – Shocking.

Actually that is maybe a little unfair, it’s the hosting, the punditry and the commentary that are shocking.

About thirty seconds in Martin O’Neill took the opportunity to reaffirm the fact he doesn’t like Arsene Wenger. Clive Tyldesley told us it was the first time Wenger had managed an Arsenal side on native soil since 2002 thus clearly neglecting the 2006 Champions League final, which he no doubt commented on, was held in Paris before Adrian Chiles rounded things off by suggesting that after a last gasp one nil win Arsenal fans will start to think our team is better than it is…

Great stuff ITV Sport you have once again proved to the nation why you are the television equivalent of John Terry…

Thanks for reading.

 Paul.

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Arsenal 2 -1 Olympiacos

Afternoon Gooners,

Well that was a somewhat scrappy win last night all in all but the important thing is, it was a win. That’s three on the spin now.

The last time we put together a run like this was the six game period between January 15th and February 1st when we beat West Ham, Leeds, Wigan, Ipswich, Huddersfield & Everton.  So in some ways you could say that we are starting to find a little form, but given the fact that defensively we look as suspicious as David Pleat on a walk through Soho so you also expect that form to dissipate at any time.

There were a couple of surprises in the starting eleven, Robin Van Persie and Aaron Ramsey were named on the bench and replaced by Marouane Chamakh and Tommy Rosicky respectively as even from his place up in the directors box Arsene Wenger had one eye on Sundays trip to arse end of North London (I obviously don’t mean ‘arse’ in an Arsenal sense)

Judging by the sides he has put out in our last two games against the Greek Champions you have to wonder if Wenger rates them very much, in fact by the time we travel to Piraeus in early December we could see a second string fielded, if qualification to the knock out round has been secured.

The game started well with Arsenal taking an early lead thanks to Oxlade-Chamberlain. The youngster was making his European bow last night and it took him a mere eight minutes to over take Theo Walcott as not only the clubs youngest ever scorer in European club footballs glamour competition but also the youngest ever Englishman.

AOC took a pas from Alex Song on his chest, he cut inside and managed to keep possession before cutting back in and firing a low shot through a defenders legs and into the back of the onion bag. Quite what Theo Walcott would have made of seeing someone cut inside with the ball and unleashing a shoot we just don’t know, but hopefully he’ll have made a mental note of trying to replicate the technique upon his return from injury.

It may have been all the excitement or it may have just been typical Arsenal but within minutes Olympiacos had a great chance to Pegg us back but thanks to a Mickey Arteta goal line clearance we kept our lead. What was pleasing about it was seeing the Spaniard following the traction of the ball, he moved along the goal line following the play thus meaning he was in the right place at the right time. All to often have we seen players stand static as if glued to the post at times like that.

Arsenal regained their composure and started to take look as if they would get a foot hold in the game. With just twenty minutes on the clock Andy Santos put us two goals to the good. Rosicky played the ball to the Brazilian who sprinted with it at his feet down the line before squaring for Chamakh. The Morroccan saw the ball blocked by an Oly defender and ping back towards Santos who stepped over the obstacle of an opponent who had gone to ground and fired in with his weaker right foot. 2-0 and we were maybe all preparing ourselves to see the Greek side collapse like their national economy.

Well the Greeks are obviously able to spot disorganisation from a mile away thanks to their country’s financial turmoil and rather than sporting ly bailing us out and letting us off the hook they decided to take advantage of our ramshackled attempts of defending from a set piece. From a corner David Fuster was left totally unmarked and whilst his leap and header were certainly impressive, the fact that no one was on hand to even attempt to pick him up was not so.  Two goals to one and you got the impression that the Greek side sensed a come back was not impossible. We held out until half time, but it was far from pretty.

The second half saw a marked improvement in our performance, especially at the back. Pat Rice, once again deputising for the suspended Arsene Wenger, must have given them a kick up the arse at half time. That said, Olympiacos certainly had chances to level the scoring. Our centre back pairing of Mertesacker & Song looked as impressive as any of the pairings we have seen this season at the back, neither made any false moves or suffered any mind farts. I’m not sure I’ll be too pleased to have to start with the pair alongside each other on Sunday but if that is the case then their second half performance should give them a morale boost.

Fairly late on RVP replaced Chamakh and I have to say that I thought that the much maligned Moroccan had his best game in an Arsenal shirt for a long while. Much of what he tried didn’t come off but he kept trying, his head didn’t drop and you at least knew he was taking part in the game. If he continues like that goals will come, he is looking sharper and just needs the shot in the arm finding the back of the net would be.

So we held out for our first three points of this Champions League campaign and we;ve now got a few days to rest and work on our defending from set pieces before the derby on Sunday.

With that game in mind let me tease you with the news that we have a fantastic guest writer tomorrow who has put together something that will really whet our appetites ahead of that game against our local rivals. Do not miss it.

Thanks for reading – I’ll next be posting on Sunday morning due to a stag weekend in Edinburgh. I’m already envisioning that I’ll be doing so from the comfort of my bed in some Scottish hotel room whilst in a very alcohol educed fragile state, so apologies in advance if all it consists of is the ramblings and complaints of a drunkard.

Paul.

 

 

 

 

AST – BVB & Talking Heads.

Well this morning I’m a little bleary eyed and would like to be at home drowning in coffee and Pro Plus but instead I’m at work drowning in a sea of unrelenting voices – I’ll never understand why people feel the need to be so noisy so early in the day?

My tiredness is due to attending last nights Arsenal Supporters Trust meeting (Well actually it’s due to going to the pub after the meeting and getting home six hours before I was due to get up)

It was the first time that Dave & I had attended an AST gathering and I have to say that if you are a member it is well worth getting along, and if you’re not a member then join now. It really does give us supporters a voice and a line to the club and not only that but it also allows for a better understanding of certain club issues and dismiss some of the stories bandied about by the press, a few of those that I found significantly interesting last night were –

  • Mickey Arteta did not take a pay cut to Join Arsenal – The Spaniard had three years left on his contract at Everton and Arsenal have given him a four year deal worth £70k pw.
  • As Arteta has no resale value he will cost the club £25m in total
  • The club made a £15m profit during the transfer window which puts the Transfer Proceeds Account (TPA) at around £50m.
  • Abou Diaby earns £60k per week which is significantly higher than the £48k Luka Modric earns down the road.
  • Arsene Wenger is in total control of all footballing matters including player purchases, sales and salaries. This includes the spate of late signings made by the club as the transfer window closed. There was no pressure put on Wenger by any board member, executive or owner before or after the 8-1 mauling at Old Trafford, in fact up to that point Arsene was content with the signings he had made earlier in the summer but in the wake of that result and the injuries sustained by Jack & Tommy the manager decided to change tack.
  • The fan share scheme has gained more than 2000 members in less than a year but as there is a shortfall of available shares the scheme may have to be paused. Indeed the best source of available shares are those of the dearly departed.
  • After initially backing the fan share scheme Stan Kroenke has cooled his interest since taking control of the club, Alisher Usmanov has followed suit. The Russian has mooted that he would match any funds/shares committed to the scheme by Kroenke and indeed is doing just that at the moment, the joint level of investment by the clubs major shareholders currently stands at 0.
  • Usmanov is a regular attendee of games and now has a ‘Super Box’ at the Emirates having knocked through and joined two boxes. The money for this came from his own pocket.
  • The AST are in constant dialogue with the club and in particular Ivan Gazidas, further meetings are planned and the trust are pushing for Stanley to address the supporters and set out his ambition and direction with regards to the club

Fellow bloggers Le GroveAshburton Grove have also posted their thoughts on the meeting which I recommend reading, if you haven’t already. And also cast an eye over  this piece by Gooneroobs.

And so on to tonight’s Champions League game against Borussia Dortmund –

On paper this is arguably our toughest game of the group stage, Dortmund are the reining Bundesliga Champions and whilst they saw the departure of a key player this summer with Nurit Sahin moving to Real Madrid, the German side certainly have a squad capable of reducing the impact of that loss. In Mario Gotze they have a readymade replacement, who is himself much sought after and was subject to interest from Arsenal. But while Die Schwarzgelben are certainly strong in midfield where they have Sebastian Kehl, Shinji Kagawa & Sven Bender as well as Gotze, It’s at the back that I believe they are at their strongest and in particular the centre back pairing of Neven Subotic and Mats Hummels.

We’ll need to be at our attacking best against the two solid centre halves and Mickey Arteta, making his Champions League debut for the club, could hold the key to unlocking the German defence and creating openings for the likes of Van Persie.

That said the Borussians last line of defence is equally as talented as any of their outfield players. Whilst Roman Wieldenfella may not be a household name the young goalkeeper has certainly caught the eye of former Arsenal stopper Jens Lehmann who has called for his compatriot to be installed as the number one of the German national side.

In defence Per Mertesacker should be able to provide us with the inside track on our opponents having just switched leagues and the big defender should be right at home facing players he is familiar with.

Whilst we see Alex Song and Gervinho return to the 18 man squad we’ve lost Aaron Ramsey and Tommy Rosicky to injury. With the attacking threat the German side pose I think it likely that we may see the reappearance of Frimpsong tonight, the pair would allow an extra level of protection to the back four whilst similarly allowing our attacking players to get forward. However in order for that to work both Song & Frimmers will need to be disciplined enough to work in tandem and the Cameroonian in particular will have to curb his own attacking instincts.

My line up would be – Szczesny – Sagna – Koscielny – Mertesacker – Gibbs – Song – Frimpong – Arteta – Walcott – Van Persie – Gervinho.

I’ve been lucky enough to contribute on the official club websites ‘Talking Heads’ preview of the game along with Dan Roebuck & Martin Hayes and you can see that by clicking here.

As I’ve said in the preview I think we’re capable of nabbing three point but I would certainly be happy with one. It promises to be a great game, both sides like to play attacking football so we can expect it to be end to end stuff.

Thanks for reading & enjoy the game wherever you’re watching it.

Paul.

Jack: Why… and what now?

Sunday’s revelations that young Jack Wilshere is going to be out until November has been met with much distress by many an Arsenal fan. Injuries are of course a part of the game, and every club has them. The question we all seem to be asking is; why do we always seem to get more than anyone else? *This morning we’ve awoken to the news that Thomas Vermaelen is set for another spell on the sidelines, but we’ll get to that at the end of Dave’s post (Paul)

Jack loves a tackle

Let’s start with Jack. One of the things that endeared him to us all (apart from his fantastic vision and skill) is his ability to take knocks – pick himself up – dust himself off – and get on with the game. I’m sure Wenger had no intention on him playing the 50+ games he did for club and country last year. It was a culmination of Wenger being under intense pressure, other players having injury’s (Cesc/Rambo/Diaby/Rosicky) and ultimately Jack playing in a manner that was making him undroppable. It’s very easy (and I see many doing it) criticising the manager in hindsight, but if Arsene had dropped him last year, we all would have been up in arms demanding the reintroduction of our talisman, which at the time he undoubtedly was. It does show, however, why Arsene was so against him going away with the Under 21’s. Personally I don’t understand why, after getting his way about the U21 situation, he didn’t give Jack an extended holiday and let him recover fully. I could then go on to say how we should have brought Arteta/Benayoun in July so he wouldn’t be missed as much, but I’d just be covering old ground.

At the end of the day the manager made his decision, and now he must deal with the consequences. I’m sure he regrets playing him ‘in the red zone’ but what choice did he have. If he’s rested him for any of Liverpool (H), Spurs (A), Bolton (A) or United (H) last season there would have been mass hysteria amongst the fans.

Going on to the larger picture of the injury history we’ve had over the last few years, I’m a little bit undecided. Firstly I’m in no doubt that our players are some of the fittest in the game. It’s one of the reasons we seem to be able to cause major problems in the final ten minutes of the game but, like a precision piece of machinery, the more highly tuned and intricate it is, the more chance there is that it will go wrong. There is also a school of thought that we just seem to have accumulated fragile players (although I think that’s a little bit too simplistic).

The good doctor

I have heard people criticise our medical team, but I refuse to believe that we haven’t got the best we can get in that department. I’ve always felt a little bit sorry for Colin Lewin. Since his cousin Gary (still the only physio I’ve heard have his name sung by fans in the stands) went to work full-time with the England set-up, Colin seems to have taken flack from some quarters as if to suggest he isn’t as good a physiotherapist. Now, this might be true, but none of us really know. What I am sure of is that if Colin wasn’t as strong as Gary, Arsenal would have replaced him before now. We do have a wealth of experience in the medical team. Club doctor Gary O’Driscoll (who is also Brian O’Driscoll’s cousin) has worked for the Irish Rugby team and the British & Irish Lions as well as Arsenal. Although rugby is a totally different sport with different injuries, if he felt we were doing something wrong then I’m sure he would make it known or at least be attempting to improve things.

Bad techniques?

The one thing left to analyse is our training techniques. We all know Wenger has been credited with revolutionary training systems since he arrived in England 15 years ago. It is now, however, coming under scrutiny. Wales’ Dutch conditioning coach (Raymond Verheijen), who has a huge amount of experience in both domestic and International football, has openly criticised Arsene Wenger’s set-up. He seems to think we train at too high an intensity. I suppose you are then in the catch 22 of not being as fit (as I’m sure that’s why our players can keep going when others can’t) or having more injuries. I don’t know enough to judge it myself, but I do know Arsenal have had their training independently reviewed recently, so maybe times they are a changing. It doesn’t bring Jack back any quicker though does it!?!

So, we have to get used to life on the pitch without young Mr. Wilshere for now. Let’s face it at least we have an alternative option now. Obviously, in the immediate future, a lot depends on what condition people return from International duty in. Rambo has almost been expected to take on the mantle this season, somewhat unfairly as he & Jack are different types of players, and the Welshman has a massive (and I’m sure bruising) game against England to get through unscathed tomorrow night before we can start counting on his inclusion against Swansea. I’m sure many people will assume that Arteta will just slot into the advanced midfielder slot and therefore be a direct replacement for Cesc. If you have watched Arteta over the years for Everton though, since he moved centrally from wide right, he sits a lot deeper than people realise (much the same as Jack). He also is a lot more combative than people give him credit for (much the same as Jack). In fact, I think our new signing would be more comfortable filling Jack’s boots than he would Cesc’s.

A new hope

This still gives us the problem of who is going to fill the advanced role of the midfield trio. Well Yossi ‘No medical’ Benayoun could play that role, but I’m not sure having two new signings in the midfield straight away would be wise. This is especially poignant as the third is likely to be the young and inexperienced (albeit highly regarded) Emmanuel Frimpong. I think for the Swansea game (injuries permitting) Rambo will play and he and Arteta will share the playmaking responsibilities. Are we then in danger though, of getting into a similar position with young Aaron as we are with Jack? He is (along with Monkey Boy Bale) the poster boy of the Welsh team and at the moment I can’t see him getting much rest!

There is a school of thought that Arshavin should be given the chance to show what he can do centrally. The Swansea game would arguably be an ideal time to do this, but with the start we’ve had I think we just need to get three points and build.

What is the Russian for 'Pull your finger out'?

I always get a little bit restless during the Interlull, but I can’t wait for the two home games we’ve got coming up. We will get the chance to see all the new signings (if not against Swansea then against Shrewsbury). Plus I think many of us see Saturday as a chance to get back on the horse again after licking our Manchester United inflicted wounds. League wise, we are entering a three game run where we should be looking at a minimum 7 point haul if we want to take something substantial into the derby on the 2nd October.

Either way, it’d be nice to talk about football again rather than transfers and injuries.

Thanks for reading.

Dave

*Well sadly its injuries that are once again the major Arsenal talking point. As reported at the top of this post Thomas Vermaelen is set to miss the next two months after undergoing surgery on his ankle in Stockholm yesterday.

Broken again

It’s a major blow to both the player & the team, we’ve only just got used to having the Belgian back after he missed much of last season with an achilles injury.

It seems that this is just pure bad luck, the centre half took a kick in the game against Udinese and has failed to recover sufficiently during the intervening fortnight leading the club to sanction surgery in the hope that Tommy can avoid another lengthy enforced absence. The nature of the injury and indeed the medical procedure undertaken to treat it are not as yet clear but all this means that Per Mertesacker is going to have to hit the ground running & form an understanding with Laurent Koscielny.

Instant impact required

There are still many Gooners adamant that we should have signed Gary Cahill ahead of the German, or indeed as well as, and no doubt those voices of discontent will now be crying out again and will go into hyper drive should the German international make even the smallest of mistakes in his first few appearances for the club. If there is indeed an error made by the giant German then I hope that there isn’t a flurry of outrage and cries of ‘Not good enough’ because we’re once again asking a player to step into a team devoid of some of its best and most pivotal players, expecting new additions to instantly fill the breach and look as if they had played in this team their whole careers. Hopefully that is what will happen but we can’t go heaping expectations or indeed throwing tantrums and call for heads to roll at the sight of slight mishaps.

With any luck Vermaelen will be back much sooner than two month window that has been suggested but until then it is yet another center back partnership for the Arsenal – Mertecielny.

Paul.

The new fellas

So as one window closes another one opens, or so they say. Actually it might be doors not windows, but in this case it matters little because it is certainly the summer transfer window that has closed and will remain closed until the winter transfer window opens.

Windows don't open at the grove

Anyway it is neither windows nor doors I wish to talk about today. It’s dust, or rather the settling of it. Because now it has all settled down we can actually get back to the very simple matter of watching people kick a football and more importantly the people we’ll watch kick said football.

By now we all know enough about our early (in Arsenal time) acquisitions Jenkinson, Gervinho & AOC – we’ve even seen them play already. Oh yes, we signed Joel Campbell as well didn’t we, hmm. You know, I get more sceptical about the Costa Rican and the likelihood of him ever playing for the Arsenal with every passing day. But I don’t know why?

Anyway it is the five players who came in post OT that I want to look at a bit more, especially as we won’t be seeing much of them over the next week or so unless you’re willing to find a stream of their national sides games.

The kidnappers have made me hold this shirt

The first to arrive in the wake of the United defeat was Park Chu Young. Or you can call him Chu Young Park or Young Park Chu although he wants us to call him Ju Young Park…

It was actually the eve of Old Trafford that we first started to hear rumblings that we had pinched the Korean literally from under the noses of Lille. JYP had undergone part of his medical with the French Champions ahead of a proposed move with relegated Monaco and was thought to be in a hotel room watching the French version of ‘One man and his dog‘ (Although he assumed it was some kind of interactive dinner menu)

They call him 'Le Cat' in France

Dressed head to toe in black Gilles Grimandi crept into the Korean strikers room and knocked him out with chloroform before tying him up and bundling him into the back of an old Citroen Normale – It was completely needless because Arsene Wenger had only asked Giles to give Park a lift to the airport. Apparently officials from Lille actually did give chase in an attempt to stop the Korean talking to us.

As I previously said I really don’t know much about Ju aside from the fact he is Ji Sung Park’s cousin and he is due to return to his homeland in two years to undertake national service – frankly I can’t possibly base a profile of the man around those two facts. Can I? No..

Well the only other info I have on him is that he is the current captain of the South Korean national side and he has pledged full alligance to the Gunners cause and he was a snip at just £3m.

While he may not be regarded as a prolific scorer of goals he is certainly regard as a player with a footballing brain (which is very different to a ‘footballers brain’ such as those retained inside the heads of Paul Merson, Chris Waddle & Ryan Shawcross). At six foot he’ll add some much needed height to the side but must be wary of heading the ball in case he damages his IQ of 150.

He’ll be contending with Marouane Chamakh for the role of RVP understudy number 1 (if you can call it a competition right now?. I could probably get a game ahead of the Moroccan) now that Nicklas Bendtner has moved to Sunderland on a seasons loan – supposedly the Danes dream move… Of course it is Nik.

Along with Ryo, JYP will certainly help to bring in the cash from the far east but that is not Wenger the economists sole reason for signing either.

Better than Juan?

The next to join the ranks was Brazilian left back Andre Clarindo dos Santos (I’m assuming he’ll just have ‘Santos’ on his shirt?)

Again I know little about him (Am I even qualified to do this?) but what I do know is the amount of experience he brings to the side. After starting his career with Brazilian side Figueirense in 2004 he moved to Corinthians in 2008, either side of loans at Flamengo & Atletico Mineiro, before moving to Fenerbache in 2009.

Whilst at Fenerbache Santos competed with perhaps the worlds most famous left back, Brazilian legend Roberto Carlos. In fact Santos managed to make the left back berth his own and Carlos moved back to Brazil & Santos’ former side Corinthians.

It was during his time with the Turkish side that Santos made the breakthrough into the Brazilian national side. And had mixed fortunes under former boss Dunga. After making in roads and appearing in the Confederations Cup, the pre-curser to the World Cup, in 2009 he was left out of the side that competed in South Africa for the title of world champions a year later.

Since Dunga was replaced by Mano Memezes, after the sides disappointing showing on the biggest stage of them all, Santos has worked his way back into international favour and to date has 17 international caps.

There is no doubting that the left back position was in desperate need of strengthening. You’ll know I wasn’t too disappointed to see Clichy leave us but I was also unsure of Kieran Gibbs ability to make the role his own. It’s no slight on the young Englishman’s footballing ability, it’s just a sad fact that we’ve not seen enough of it due to his persistent injury problems.

With only the now departed Armand Traore as back up, along with the none too popular option of shifting Tommy V across to LB, it was one of the areas of our side most in need of reinforcing. That the club have gone out and signed an experienced Brazilian international to follow in the steps of Sylvinho and Juan (remember Juan?) is impressive indeed and allays some real fears.

Ze German

The third man in was German international giant Per Mertesacker.

All summer long we’ve been linked with Gary Cahill, Phil Jagielka, Chris Samba & Scott Dann and at one point or more we we’re supposedly only hours away from signing one or more of them. In truth we had bids rejected for Jagielka and Cahill but I’m not sure how much of a real interest we had in the other two, who will now link up at Blackburn.

Mertesacker has been linked with us on and off for a few years now and I must admit I thought it was one of those lazy stories that journos used to fill column inches. I think that the fact the six foot six centre back has won 75 international caps for Germany tells you pretty much all you need to know about him. To achieve that in just six years is no mean feet and certainly confirms that we do not have another Seb Squillaci on our hands as some have strangely suggested.

As we’ve mentioned he is tall, real proper actual tall and that is something we’ve missed from our back line for a fair while now. His height doesn’t make him just a defensive version of Stoke super striker Peter Crouch, and by that I mean he isn’t just a lanky gawlper, he’s strong and won’t be bullied by Ork like centre forwards. His positional play is as efficient as his heritage suggests and he isn’t a slouch on the ball either.

£8m is a snip when you look at the £15m & £17m Everton and Bolton wanted for Jagielka and Cahill. Imagine if either of them had 75 England caps, fees of £40m upwards would be floated about which is utter madness.

My biggest concern with Mertesacker comes with the Koscielny – Vermaelen partnership in mind. Now I can’t see Ze German wanting to sit on the bench in all but FA & Carling Cup games but at the same time I’m slightly reticent to see the Kozzer & Tommy task force broken up when it is starting to show promise. That said, it was an experienced CB we wanted and it’s an experienced CB we’ve got so I guess this was always going to become an issue but it is most certainly a good issue as opposed to one of those bad ones. We all hate those don’t we?

The next in was maybe the biggest surprise of the five, even when you consider that a hell of a lot of us had never heard of JYP.

Yossi

Yossi Benayoun has joined on a season long loan from Chelsea, and for the most part I think it’s a decent move. We knew we were light in midfield especially from a creative standpoint and the Israeli certainly reduces that weakness.

As captain of his national side it is yet another leader on the pitch and the fact he has played in England for six years means he doesn’t need any time to adjust to the pace of our game. His time here after moving from Racing Santander has been quietly impressive but without really moving any mountains. But it isn’t often that a bad player slips through the Ajax academy and Yossi is certainly not that.

He’ll add that creative guile we’ve seemingly been missing so far this season and while others may differ I kind of want to describe him as a mix between Samir Nasri & Tommy Rosicky. I expect him to create more goals than he scores but he certainly has the ability to get the ball in the onion bag which is a massive bonus.

One for the ladies

If he had been our only midfield signing, then, without doing the man a disservice, I think we may have been disappointed somewhat but he wasn’t because he came in just a short while before the club announced the signing of Spanish genius Mikel Arteta.

Maybe the little midfielder can’t be described as a ‘wow’ signing but it was most certainly the one that got us Gooners most excited on Wednesday.

For as long as Cesc was linked with a move back to Barca Arteta was linked with filling his compatriots boots (So that is forever) but this summer his name appeared to have been omitted from the list of so-called pretenders to the throne until the last few days of the transfer window.

Reports suggest that we first went in on Tuesday with a bid of £4m which was quickly rebuffed by Everton but the Mersey men must have made it known that they were prepared to do a deal because we went back in the following day with an improved bid of £10m. There was a point during the malaise that it all seemed to have died a death and it created a distinct air of disappointment. It was the player himself who pushed for the move to happen and if reports are to be believed he has taken a cut in wages in order to make the move, which speaks volumes of his desire.

Like Benayoun Arteta already knows this league inside out and can make an instant impact in our side alongside Jack Wilshere. There is no doubt that he could slip into the Cesc role with ease but it remains to be seen if we’ll line up like that this season. I would imagine that he’ll take over corner and free kick duty from RVP which will be a relief, mainly because we may now score from set pieces a little more regularly.

He has everything needed to be a hit at the Arsenal as long as he doesn’t suffer any long term injuries. At 29 this is his last chance to have a crack at top level football (sorry Everton) and with that in mind you can understand why he pushed for the move after six years service with the toffees. Oh and of course he brings Mrs Arteta with him…

HELLO!

So in all the fantastic five are just that in my view. They give our squad everything it’s been crying out for and I think they all have a winning mentality and the desire to achieve as much as possible in the game. I am very much looking forward to seeing each and every one of them in the red and white this season. If only the curssed internationals weren’t delaying that.

If you like numbers and you believe they may either back up or destroy everything I have written above then take a look at these stats on all our new signings on the official Arsenal website.

Thanks for reading.

Paul

It’s a signing frenzy

Morning all.

Well the transfer window has closed, it’s been locked and the key has been well hidden, not to be seen again until the end of the year.

Jim White just couldn't take it

What a whirlwind the past few days have been, it was as much an un-Arsenal like turn of events as we’ve seen since – well since I can’t remember when to be honest with you. It’s just been crazy.

It all started of course with the capitulation of our weak and feeble side at Old Trafford on Sunday, we were completely on our knees after the game, and during most of it to be honest, and we were staring into the distance of what looked like being an incredibly long and difficult season. Our team had been dismantled over the proceeding months and we were crying out for reinforcements who looked unlikely to arrive.

"My name is Ivan & I'm a transferholic"

But then incredibly, instead of continuing to work on statements which would suggest how busy the club had been and how hard they had worked in attempts to bring new players in blah blah etc, they actually put on their buying hats, heated a pot of coffee and blew the dust off of the Highbury House telephones. Phone calls were made to such exotic places as Bremen & Istanbul…

You can imagine officials at Fenerbache picking up a ringing telephone and enquiring as to who was on the line.

Hello” came an odd British/South African/American accent “It’s Ivan Gazidas here from Arsenal Football Club, we’re interested in signing one of your players

The team sounded familiar somehow but to the best of anyone’s knowledge this caller wasn’t a recognised name in the buying and selling markets of European Football. Then a long forgotten memory was sparked and in the recesses of minds a name was thrust forward and puzzled silence was broken by a reply –

Oh yes of course, Arsenal, yes we know you. Perhaps it would be best if we were to speak with Mr Dein?”

Ivan, used to recieving this kind of response would normally hang up the phone at this point and suggest we focus on our youth players but he had the grit between his teeth and would not be deterred.

“No Mr Dein is no longer with us, he is currently sitting a top an incredibly large pile of money whilst also attempting to take the moral highgorund” He was feeling empowered now

I’m in charge of these matters now days and would like to start the bidding for Andre Santos at two mini milks and a an Almunia

Thankfully, flanked by a supporting cast of twenty, Ivan soon got to grips with the old negotiating game and whilst he realised that he should have got more for Cesc Fabreags, and no one in their right mind would ever sign Almunia, he wasn’t going to let anything stop him.

Five days later and here we are with five new signings, yes that’s right FIVE. Obviously I mentioned Park, Santos & Mertesacker in yesterdays bog.  Well those deals were confirmed and publicised by the club at varying points yesterday while the rest of us attempted to keep up with the ten million rumours doing the rounds regarding who would be next to sign up to Arsene’s revolution.

One of the early rumours was that Keisuke Honda was at London Colney having a medical, that was soon dismissed by all concerned.

We then shifted our focus back towards Gary Cahill at Bolton and within the space of a few short hours the deal was supposedly on and off more times than a light switch until it was finally confirmed that it was most definitely off and having shat their pants Bolton went whoreing at ‘arrys door. However the player himself wasn’t prepared to sink so low.

If I tell you about all the other whispers and rumours that did the rounds yesterday then we would be into tomorrow by the time you finish reading it, so lets skip to the end.

Little Spanish wizard

We certainly left it late but we finished the day with the loan signing of Yossi Benayoun from Chelsea on a seasons loan and at the very last knockings nabbed Mikel Arteta from Everton for a reported fee of £10m.

The signing of the Spaniard had looked doomed to failure earlier in the evening but it seems that it was the players desire to join us that pushed Everton into reluctantly selling.

I know that it is maybe disappointing that we didn’t pull a worldy out of the bag and even more irritating that we couldn’t have done any of these deals earlier in the summer but I have to say, given that what’s done is done, I’m more than happy with the business we have managed to do over the last couple of days.

The players that have come in all have vast experience and will really bolster the team. We’ve no idea how quickly all concerned can adapt to the changes of scenery, league etc but given the calibre of said players  I’ve very few fears on that score.

The Israeli Messi

When you add Arteta, Yossi, Mertesacker, Santos and Park to our earlier purchases of Gervinho, Jenkinson & AOC and in turn add those five to our squad  having subtracted those who have left or are unlikely to play due to injury (I’m looking at you Abou) then you have to say we certainly don’t look any weaker than we did last season. I’m not 100% sure we look any stronger but hey-ho.

It is the experience of the majority of our signings that impresses me as much as anything else, Jenks & AOC aside these are grown men who have all played the game at its highest levels and have done so with a degree of success for the most part. I’ll be looking at the new fellas in a little more detail tomorrow (along with the departures) but we have to congratulate Arsene, Ivan and all those who must have worked their little red & white socks off over the past few days. We haven’t gone out and added more “Potential” to the side we’ve added class and experience and we’ll be all the better for it I’m sure.

Our season really begins in earnest at the grove on September 10th when we face Swansea, from then on the games come thick and fast so we’ll have to hit the ground running to make up for our poor start, especially in terms of  the league. Personally that game can’t come quick enough and I’m sure that goes for all the new Gooners too.

Thanks for reading.

Paul

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