How many Man City players would get into the Arsenal team? + Match preview.

December 14, 2013

Should be a superb game this afternoon. The best away side in the PL against the best home team.  If the world was a just and fair place we would leave with the 3 points but sadly, it isn’t.

And why do I say that? Because the recent history of the Northern Oilers has besmirched their past. I guess for their supporters all they care about is that City have been re-born, but to those teams who have chosen to take another route it is galling to say the least. But enough of that, this is the status quo and we must live with it. Actually, No, before leaving this subject I need to say one thing – Arsenal are a team with tradition who have found a way to compete without selling it’s soul. Hurray for us!!

In summer when asked who would win the title this season I replied City. To me they have the best squad, the most complete first team and the greatest resources. They disappointed last season, primarily because of a manger who had little empathy with his players.

Let’s look at their squad. Hart remains a terrific player and without question the best English keeper yet he is on the bench. Is it a similar situation to Szczesny’s benching last season ? Only City fans know whether they have more faith in Big Pants.

Across defence their only “weak” spot seems to be who partners Kompany. Any team which can bench Lescott, Richards, etc etc is strong. Same in midfield …. when one has limitless purchasing power a team can take a punt with big money – Rodwell? Here is a lad who looked as though he would be an England regular by now but instead he hardly gets to ride the pine! We know the other chaps, Yaya, Samir, Fernandinho (over €30m!!), Garcia – all fine players and yet in this area we can match them.

Where we are nowhere near as good is in attack. Aguero is the best forward in the PL. Suarez is good but this fellow is tops. No silly stuff just does his job with startling efficiency. We should have bid €50m (plus one) for him. Then there is Dzeko, a player who would be an automatic starter at THOF and yet struggles to get a start thanks to the fine start from Negredo. Negredo cost €20m (ish), Soldado cost €27m (:-D :-D), both Spanish , one has flourished the other looks like a complete waste of money . Another City signing who impresses is Jesus Nava – a Spanish Theo.

Then there is Jovetic, and here I have to apologise because I have to go back to the subject I said I wouldn’t in the second para ….. money. The media stated categorically that we were trying to sign this lad to play alongside Giroud (who knows if it was true) but City signed him specifically to stop him improving our side – no other reason. (they did the same when they cherry-picked Samir, Ade, Gael and Kolo). How many times has Jovetic played?  Three.  22 million of her majesty’s for what?  Perhaps we can buy him in January at a discount. I know Chelsea did the same with Willian but I do not expect a quality club like Man City to stoop to Chav-dom. Do you?

You may be a little concerned having read the above BUT …. we are TOTL and despite a bit a silliness in Naples are in good form. We drew at the Etihad last season in a dour 0-0, and we have much more attacking threat this time round. We are just the sort of team to trouble City due to the pace and intelligence of our attacking midfield.  Much has been made of the absence of Walcott and we must hope he has been rested to be fully fit this afternoon. There is little doubt MC will have the bulk of possession and a counter-attack seems the most likely weapon.

My Team:

city v arse

I have benched Wilshire but the fact he was rested in Italy points to him starting, perhaps with Flamster being rested. Ozil looks tired but has to play, or does he? Santi is so much better playing in the hole. We are starting to have a seriously strong bench and can actually improve the side with substitutions – it has been some time since we could say that.

Just for fun I thought I would see what a combined MC/AFC team might look like. What do you think?

arsecity

So…. in my team there are 7 Gooners and just 4 Blues. Surprising but then I might be biased :-D

Is Negredo better than Giroud? I don’t think so and a frontline of OG and Aguero would be very potent. I do not know enough about the City full-backs to make a fair comparison so I went with my heart and a bit of logic – Gibbs is better than Clichy, and Sagna is top quality. The CB pairing would be the best in the PL  and though Koscielny is not far off Kompany, the Belgian is the best CB and Captain in the league. Goalkeeper is also an area of doubt, all three in contention are fine keepers but TPIG takes it thanks to his form this season. Ozil or Silva/Nasri? Come on …..   DM’s – Yaya is a monster and it was a sad day when he decided to sign for MC instead of us, he is almost as good as PV4. Fernandinho has youth, agility and being Brazilian on his side, as much as I admire Arteta and Flamini they are simply not as good. No place in the team for Jack or Santi or Theo but none are automatic first choice for AFC let alone this team.

So, for the first time this season we go into a game as under-dogs. Can we win? Of course we can, we won in Dortmund. The betting is very much in favour of a home win which given MC’s 100% home record is understandable. Pre-game I would be delighted to take a point.

COYRRG

written by Big Raddy


Now We Can See How Much Damage Van Persie, Cesc and Nasri Did

December 2, 2013

I hope all those who’ve made a career out of knocking the Mighty Arsenal are taking a good look at the Premier League Table.

We’re as high as Nigella and as happy as Wayne Rooney in a bingo hall.

02

Not that I’m gloating… oh no… there’s a long way to go yet, it’s a marathon not a snickers etc etc.

But at the moment I think it’s fair to say that the squad is exceeding what most of us expected for this year.

The optimists among us hoped for a steady build on the defensive tightness and greater togetherness that steered us to fourth place in the second half of last season.

When we signed Mesut Ozil, maybe we dared to hope for a bit more.

But to be comfortably top of the table as we enter December? And to be nine points ahead of ManUre? And 10 ahead of the Tinies? I doubt any of us (apart from Terry Mancini Hair Transplant) would have wagered much on us doing so well.

Which raises the question of WHY?

Why have we shown not just incremental improvement on last season, but a genuine step change in confidence, quality and – most important of all – results?

There are many individual factors we can point to: the emergence of the Welsh Messi as the best player in the Premeirship; the exceptional form of our Pole In Goal; the precision of Ozil’s assist-making; the superb organization of our back four…

But I think Arsene Wenger gave us the real answer last week when he pointed out that this year, unlike the two previous years, we have not taken the Good Ship Arsenal on a new footballing voyage with a big hole below the waterline.

Le Boss said the clear difference this time round was that we did not lose a star player on the eve of the new campaign.

It meant we started out with the same group of players who had done so well from January to May – and threw a genuine superstar into the mix for good measure.

Contrast that with the two previous years.

The summer of 2012 was spent with Brave Sir Robin trying to pretend he was undecided about leaving but finally walking out on the club that paid his wages through so many interminable injury periods. The little boy inside him turned out to be an ungrateful little twunt.

Twelve months earlier we lost Cesc Fabregas to Barcelona (a move, admittedly, that came as a surprise to no-one); but then the unlikeable little Frenchman Samir Na$ri decided he wanted to line his wallet and started touting himself round  clubs with deep pockets, ending up at Petrodollar City.

Both those disrupted summers led directly to disjointed and disappointing starts to the new season. While other teams went off at a sprint, we set off on those season-long races with an open parachute strapped to our back.

We were forced to try and bed in new signings who, in most cases, were completely new to the Premier League; we had to work out new formations to suit the new personnel; we had to turn players from strangers into team mates and heaven only knows what psychological damage was done to the rest of the squad by the fact that our best players had made it clear they wanted out.

Somehow, miraculously, Arsene managed to maintain our membership of the Top Four club by the end of both seasons – but it was certainly no thanks to the Dear Departed.

And looking at how we’re doing now it makes me really angry about those players who left us in the lurch – yes, even Cesc (although BSR and Na$ri were more selfish, disloyal and narcissistic).

Van Persie and Nasri could have made their intentions clear to the club at the end of their last seasons with us. Their leavings would still have been a loss but at least the fans would not have been led a merry dance all summer long and the club and squad could have started rebuilding sooner.

I’m not suggesting we would have had glorious seasons if they had not left but – like Arsene – I feel we would have done a LOT better. We might have fallen short of winning the league, but we might well have been in the mix for longer instead of having to play catch-up with the skinny cock brigade.

The Arsenal revival we’re witnessing this year might have happened 12 months earlier. It’s the very success we’re enjoying now that highlights just what those players who left really cost us.

It’s naïve to expect players to show loyalty and I’m sure many fans take the view that if they want to go somewhere else for more money or a better chance of glory, who can blame them?

I can’t share that laissez faire view. I remain a dinosaur. I expect the adulation and support I give to the players to mean something, even in an age when the youth squad are driving Porsches and earning more in a month than most people do in a year.

And so Van Persie, Nasri, Fabregas: je t’accuse! YOU caused us to have disastrous starts to the past two seasons; YOU gave ammunition to the silly Wenger Out campaigners; YOU stopped us being in a position to fight for the big prizes; YOU hurt us. And WE won’t forget.

Although Cesc can come back if he wants :)

RockyLives


Missing Na$ri like a hole in the bench

March 29, 2012

How much is Arsenal missing Na$ri?

The departure of Nasri at the end of August last year was used by many journalists, and plenty of fellow Gooners, as evidence that Arsenal had become a selling-club and was no longer ambitious enough to compete for the top prices. Seven months on, after a rollercoaster ride of a transitional season so far, it is becoming apparent the sale of Nasri was actually very good business for Arsenal after all.

Wenger was desperate to keep hold of Nasri last summer: losing Fabregas and Nasri at the same time, was far from ideal. Nasri had shown glimpses of his potential at Arsenal, but it was clear to most of us he was no replacement for the Spanish Maestro. The vacant role of advanced midfielder – the one who orchestrates our attacks and dictates play – was meant to be filled by Wilshere or Ramsey, with Rosicky and Diaby as suitable back-up. Wilshere suffered a long-term injury, and it is gradually becoming clear that Ramsey would fit better in a deeper role – the one currently occupied by our new Spanish hero: Arteta. Rosicky has recently found his best form again and has played a big part in our resurgence into the top-4 since February. Diaby…same old story, I am afraid.

The few times Nasri had played in this pivotal position at Arsenal, he had been ok, but not more than that. Yes, he had some fantastic games in the first part of the 2010-2011 season, but mostly in a wide position.

Having watched a few Citeh games this season in which Nasri made an appearance, it’s becoming clear to me that he has not made any progress since he left us. It looks like Nasri will remain a player with a few good games per season, who will operate mainly at the periphery of his new club – that is, mainly on the bench. He is simply not good enough to play centrally and is likely to be played on the wing for most of the rest of his career: would he have stayed at Arsenal, it would not have been any different.

Nasri joined a settled team with plenty of top quality in the squad. Mancini has played him centrally and on the wing, but in both areas he has been pretty ineffective. And there are no excuses for him: he is used to play in the PL, he has got the right age to perform at the required level and he has been fit since he joined the Etihad Oil Refinery (courtesy of Rocky Lives).

Despite of all this, he has had a mediocre season so far. In fact, compared to our three wingers at the club: Walcott, Gervinho and the The Ox, he is performing worst of all of them. In the end, that is where he left a vacancy: on the wing, and in order to answer the question of this post, he needs to be compared to our current wingers:

  Games played this season Goals Scored Assists Goals/Assists per game this season Career average per game
Theo 40 9 13 0.55 0.37
Gervinho 31 4 8 0.39 0.4
The Ox 20 4 3 0.35 0.4
Na$ri 36 5 7 0.33 0.29

Nasri was sold for £22m.Gervinho (£10.6m) and the Ox (£12m) were bought in return. Despite the fact that Gervinho and the Ox are playing their first season in the PL, and have had to find their way in an unsettled team that is going through a major transition this year, they are both currently outperforming Na$ri with a better average of goals and assists per game. Theo has had a significantly better season than Nasri as well. Surprisingly, all our wingers have a better career average of goals/assists per game than Nasri too, which to me is further proof that Arsenal did very good business in selling him last summer, rather than let him run out his contract, hold back the development of the Ox and others, and poison the atmosphere at our club. Two players for the price of one, and they are both better!

So, are we missing Na$ri? Like a hole in the bench! Good riddance and good business all round.

TotalArsenal.


Proof that Arsenal will score more goals this season.

September 5, 2011

Someone questioned on the blog yesterday whether our new line-up would be able to score enough goals, so I thought it would be interesting to compare the goalscoring prowess of the new players against those who have departed based on past performances.

Now I realise that stats are generally just a way of manipulating figures so they masquerade as facts. There are many factors such as playing in a different league, in a different team etc. etc. which completely undermine the validity of the comparison, but I decided to persevere with this lighthearted analysis because we should all be excited by the prospect of a new look Arsenal with more bite in the final third.

I believe the benefits of having a team packed with players who want to prove themselves, who want to play for Arsenal and are unsullied by the grubby attentions of billionaire suitors means that we will at last possess the much vaunted yet ultimately fragile team spirit that evaporated completely in the latter stages of last season.

The following stats are based on the player’s time at Arsenal for those who have left, and games played at their previous club for those have just joined (Benayoun’s stats are from Liverpool as he hardly played for Chelski).

gpg = goals per game.

Likely first team replacements:

Samir Nasri: 18 goals in 86 games = 0.21 gpg

Gervinho: (Lille) 28 goals in 67 games = 0.42 gpg

………………………………………………………………………….

Cesc Fabregas: 35 goals in 212 games = 0.16 gpg

Mikel Arteta: (Everton) 27 goals in 161 games = 0.17 gpg

………………………………………………………………………….

Gael Clichy: 1 goal in 187 games = 0.006 gpg

Santos: (Fenerbahce) 10 goals in 52 games = 0.19 gpg

Assuming that Gervinho, Arteta and Santos will start most games in place of Nasri, Cesc and Clichy, their combined gpg is as follows:

Ex-Arsenalplayers = 54 goals in  585 games = 0.09 gpg

New Arsenal players = 65 goals in 280 games = 0.23 gpg

.

Goals from the bench:

Niklas Bendtner: 22 goals in 98 games = 0.22 gpg

Park: (Monaco) 25 goals in 91 games = 0.27 gpg

………………………………………………………………………….

Henri Lansbury: 4 goals in 22 games (on loan to Norwich City) = 0.18 gpg

Alex Oxlade Chamberlain: (Southampton) 9 goals in 36 games = 0.26 gpg

………………………………………………………………………….

Yossi Benayoun may well be used as an impact sub as a more attacking option to Ramsey or Wilshere, he also represents a greater goalscoring threat with stats of  29 goals in 133 games = 0.22 gpg

Wilshere: 1 goal in 37 games = 0.03 gpg

Ramsey: 4 goals in 37 games = 0.11 gpg

.

So the results are conclusive as you can see - we’re going to score bucketloads more goals with the new line-up.

The defence is also more solid so we should also be shipping in far fewer goals. We at last have a worthy No.1 keeper. Vermaelen is back (how we’ve missed him) and we have the added experience and height of Mertesacker and the class and pedigree of Santos.

The squad has greater depth and balance than we’ve seen since 2006. We have players like Park and Benayoun who can come off the bench and change games, and the emergence of Jenkinson, Oxlade Chamberlain and Miyaichi to keep everyone on their toes. The squad suddenly looks able to fight on all fronts and will need to do just that to keep everyone involved.

We also have 2 more players who can take a free kick in Santos and Park and hopefully we won’t have the ridiculous situation of our leading goalscorer taking corners instead of getting on the end of them.

Forget the first 3 games of the season, we were still reeling from the effect of the long drawn out departures of Cesc and Na$ri and the squad had been decimated by injuries and suspensions.

The new players will make a difference. Our season starts again this Saturday against Swansea.

Written by Rasp


Why City REALLY signed Na$ri

August 26, 2011

Let’s put bitterness and recrimination to one side for a moment and accept that Samir Nasri is quite a good player.

His close control is excellent, he can beat players for fun, he likes attacking the danger areas and he has an eye for goal.

On average, based on last season, he’ll provide an assist once every 10 games, which made him an important player for Arsenal.

Admittedly, not as important as Fabregas, Arshavin, Van Persie, Walcott, Rosicky and Wilshere, who all had more assists last term.

He’ll also get you a goal once every five games, based on his scoring record for Arsenal, which isn’t bad. If he starts, say, 15 games for Manchester City this season he’ll notch up a grand total of three.

He is effective out wide but, if given the greater responsibility of a central midfield role, is left badly floundering as we found out several times last year.

I would have preferred him to stay at Arsenal because he is a decent attacking option, although far from being world-class.

For some of the reasons outlined above, you can see why Man City bought the little Frenchman. They have been accused of having more graft than guile and, on his good days (which were few and far between when it really counted in the second half of last season) he has the skills to unlock an obdurate defence.

But for the money spent on him, City might well have bought any one of several talented outside forwards (Juan Mata, Gareth Bale and Franck Ribery to name but three). Instead they doggedly pursued Nasri all summer long (indeed from January, if some reports are to be believed).

In my mind it raises a question.

City have the resources to buy anyone, so why spend so much effort on a player who has been not much above average apart from one purple patch that lasted less than half a season?

They don’t really need his footballing gifts. It’s not like he’s a game changer for them (as Aguero may turn out to be).

Which brings me to my theory:

City are embarking on this season with aspirations, of course, to become champions of England. But also with a pragmatic ambition to, at the very least, stay in the Champions League with a top four finish.

If Financial Fair Play proves to have any teeth, City will need ECL income if they are to continue to compete at the top-level (and pay the stratospheric wage bill they have accrued).

So, to my mind, a crucial element in their move for Nasri was to weaken one of their rivals for the top four slots: namely, us.

I suspect the same motivation behind their acquisition of Clichy, too.

In a summer when everyone in the know in football was aware that Cesc was undoubtedly leaving Arsenal, I believe the temptation to kick us when we were down was too much for City to resist.

Mancini must feel that he has severely weakened Arsenal, and in the process gained yet another decent squad player in Nasri. Money, of course, is no object. I’m not going to criticise City for it. It’s great tactics – and Machiavelli (no, he didn’t play with Mancini at Sampdoria) would certainly approve.

The funny thing is that I think the Nasri move will backfire. He is clearly a disputatious fellow, as his arguments in the French camp and in the Arsenal dressing room give testament to.

He will bring that attitude to Eastlands, and may well leave behind a more united team at Arsenal. Certainly the spirit shown in the games against Udinese and Liverpool indicates that something positive is happening at The Arse.

However good the individuals were in our squad last season, they had collectively developed a losing mentality. The departures of Nasri, Clichy, Cesc and others have given us the chance to shake up the mood in the squad, bringing in new players not tainted by that negativity.

We won’t really miss the error-prone Clichy (top professional though he was for us) and Gervinho already looks like a more than capable replacement for Nasri – and that’s before we’ve even seen anything of Ryo and Oxo.

I may be wrong. Nasri may have a storming season for City. If he does I will not wish him well, because he has moved only for money and has shown a lack of class in his comments about his former club.

But it’s more likely City have Adebayor Mk II on their hands, and they’re welcome to him.

RockyLives


What is Really Happening at Arsenal?

August 22, 2011

Written by Kelsey

I think a reality check is needed and between us we should try to fathom out what is going wrong at the club. Figures don’t lie and we have won just 2 of our last 13 PL games, which would have been inconceivable in February. Fabregas leaving is going to be a huge miss, and though not replaceable like for like we have had the best part of this year knowing he would leave to find another player as a world-class playmaker.

(Did Arsene know?)

Injuries have been another key factor. Other clubs get injuries but we have a number of players who can hardly string together half a dozen games together in a row before being injured again. Wenger has admitted that on occasions he plays players who are not fully fit – because we don’t have a balanced squad of players some of whom simply aren’t good enough.

Having watched the Liverpool game again I get the feeling that the many fans have accepted that this might turn out to be a disastrous season for the club. Personally I believe with the players available (Kos is out) we will probably lose in Italy and have absolutely no chance at United. I may be proved wrong but the omens don’t look good.

I ask you how many players in our present squad providing they are fully fit and committed and in form would automatically be on the team sheet (I am assuming Nasri is leaving.)

RVP, Sagna, Vermaelen, Wilshere, possibly Gervinho and Szesney, but that’s all.

Kos is improving, Djourou another one who is injury prone and at best is a back up and Squillacci is a disaster. Song is inconsistent. Diaby,Gibbs and Rosicky are injury prone. Arshavin and Chamakh are woefully out of form and have been for months. Walcott just flits in and out of games and is at best a cameo player. Ramsey, Frimpong and Jenkinson will come good but need mentoring and to expect them to play at the highest level at this time is a big ask. Miguel and Lansbury come below the list starting with Ramsey. Traore,Vela and Bendtner are going or are going out on loan
Not fair to comment on Oxlade-Chamberlain as he hasn’t played yet.

So it doesn’t make happy reading.Will one or two signings  make much difference ?

Confidence is at the lowest for years, apart from Vermaelen and a fit Wilshere no one to drive the team on and I am really concerned.
The Emirates is no fortress as seen these last two seasons so home advantage for some reason is not as it should be.
Plenty of questions, but at this moment very few answers.

It would be nice to hear the truthful agenda from Kroenke and Gazidis otherwise known as the Chuckle brothers. Gazidis wants to broaden the name of Arsenal,hence the Far East tour, but surely he should get his priorities in order and deal with our immediate needs by sorting out transfers be they in or out, or is Wenger responsible for that.

PS : This is just my opinion and has no bearing on my support, it’s just doesn’t make sense to me. I take positives with negatives but there is nothing wrong with expressing an opinion which I know many will disagree with.

In the past week AW has been quoted as saying Cesc, Samir and Robin love the club, well so do I and I don’t understand why this is happening.

After writing this post this link appeared  and to me maybe very relevent.Those who want Wenger out should read it.

http://www.thefootballnetwork.net/main/s378/st170548.htm


Wenger on Transfers

August 8, 2011

One of the fuels that has fed the fire of discontent among Arsenal supporters this summer is the sense that we are being misled by the club.

When the club speaks, through the mouth of the Manager or the Chief Executive, some fans refer to “spin and PR bullsh*t” designed to placate the faithful or, more cynically (in some people’s opinion), to con them into renewing season tickets with the hint of big name transfers that will never materialise.

I have been convinced all along that we will still make at least one big name signing this summer (although whether it comes before the season starts is another matter).

But if I question the basis for this conviction, I have to ask myself whether it really stacks up – because I realise it comes from me pinning a huge amount of faith in what Arsene Wenger said in May about being very active in the transfer market.

Why would he lie? What would be the point? (I don’t buy the “get them to renew their season tickets” line). He clearly felt he needed to strengthen his squad, he said he would do so, so why would he not?

The problem is, those who doubt that we will make few if any more signings are also able to point to AW’s words to back up their case.

It seems that we each hear what we want to hear and ignore what contradicts our pre-formed opinion.

So are Arsene’s words really so contradictory? Is he really sending out such mixed messages that some fans can practically smell the dubbin on Juan Mata’s boots, while others hear only tumbleweed blowing through the arrivals room at the Emirates?

There was only one way to find out. Starting from late April I have gathered as many AW quotes about transfers as I could find (apologies if I have missed some). The dates are approximate because some may reflect the dates on which the comments were reported rather than the dates they were made. I have also added a relevant quote about transfers from Ivan Gazidis.

Here they are, with time line…

April 22nd
On being asked at a press conference whether he had as much as £40 million at his disposal:
“Is [that] available? Frankly I don’t know. We have not completely checked out our financial position. The only thing I can say is that the Club is in a healthy financial situation and, if needed, we can make a big transfer.
“I don’t [expect a busy summer] at all. The team is 23 years-old [on average] so why should we expect to have a huge turnover at the end of the season?”

April 23rd
”Why should we sell Cesc [even if we received a ‘silly’ offer]? In our job it is difficult to know what is silly money. We have built our team around Cesc and we have Wilshere now as well and we want to keep doing that.
”We are talking to Nasri and his agent already and we have the same situation with Clichy. We have agreed to speak about it during the summer.
 
I am very optimistic [that they will stay].”

May 1st
In response to a question about whether the team needed more experience:
“The team has accumulated a lot of experience despite their age. They are 23 on average but football-wise they are 26 or 27. I gave them a chance to play at a young age and I don’t regret that. 

Maybe I could have got some more experienced players but it is too easy to say that. They [the current squad] are very close to their peak.
“We need to strengthen some areas but we have the quality. 

At the moment we have to face some scepticism, but we have to keep believing in our strengths. These players all started at a very young age and they should be ready.
“We want, of course, to add what we need to add. I am very cautious with what I say because it can be turned both ways. I feel it is important for the Club that we keep faith in what we do.
“You can see that the players grow when they get the chance to play. Like Szczesny, for example, you can see already that compared to two months ago, he has already grown. It is a law in our game that you can only grow, at some stage, if you play. So people want both, they want to win every game and they want us to produce quality young players. But if Wilshere has grown this season it is because he played. But on the other hand, if you do not win, people say, ‘why do you play young players?’”

May 8th (After 3-1 Stoke defeat)
“Something has gone [and] you could see that today. We have to take a distance and make the right analysis of the season.”

May 15th (After 1-2 defeat to Villa)
“It is down to availability and quality. We don’t rule out any position and we don’t target any special position before the transfer market.
 
We look to strengthen every year of course. But first we look not to weaken because we want to keep all our players, and then we try to strengthen.
“It’s not about the number [of players], it’s the quality. I don’t want to give out a number [we’ll go for]”.
On conceding from set pieces:
“It has been [a problem]. We cannot deny that because we conceded more goals from set pieces than other teams. But you have to consider as well that we conceded 17 penalties.
”It is more about the size of our whole team in some games like Stoke. When you go out of the back three, after that we are quite short, especially when Abou Diaby wasn’t there for big games. When you have the defence plus Diaby and Alex Song, and you go to places like that, you can of course fight. 

Sometimes we’re one or two men short.
“The fans want to win football games. They will not check how much money we spend, they want to win football games. When we don’t, they are not happy and that is completely normal. We will try to strengthen our team, of course, but the best way to keep our fans happy is to win the games.”

May 20th
“We need to add, of course, and we will do. But we have a strong base.
 
We have enough quality to beat anyone in the world, even with the current squad. You have a Champions League Final and only one team has beaten both of them and that is Arsenal.
 
We have a good team and the best away team [in the Premier League]. The loss of the Carling Cup Final had a huge impact on the team and we did not handle it well.
 
It is not catastrophic and do not think we can go to Coventry and find the player who saves Arsenal Football Club.
“I always try to get value for money. That is the job of a football manager. 
 
In England, it is a bit more difficult because player inflation is higher than everywhere else. When you only have a few players at many clubs, the price is too high.”

May 22nd (After draw with Fulham 2-2)
“If you speak about the quality of the Club and the style of football we play we have many offers on the table for players who are desperate to join us. [But] if you speak only about money, we are certainly less attractive than some other teams.
“We will try to buy the right players. Spending is not a purpose, it’s not our goal. We want the right players. We cannot buy players for £50 million and, even if we try to strengthen our team and spend money if needed, that is fact.”

May 24th
“The market will be hyperactive because everyone believes financial fair play will happen soon. So we are quickly doing the last buying before the stores will be closed. And for the first time for a while, I will be very active, too.”

May 31st (French radio interview)
“We’ll invest in players who can bring something more to the team, and that won’t be easy.
“I am very active on the phone. Everyone is in a standby position, where everyone is waiting for the first step, expecting a super-transfer. It will move in late July and early August. Then we will analyse the gaps in each team.”

June 8th (Carl Jenkinson signed from Charlton)

July 2nd
“Everyone wants to make that great signing and I’m focused on those objectives and am very busy on the telephone.”

July 8th
“For me, the best thing is not to talk too much about it. The more you speak about things, the less chance you have to achieve them. The only thing that I can promise you is that we will work very hard and we have had some long nights to achieve what we want to achieve. I can understand [the impatience among the fans].
“Believe me, I know all the clubs in the world and everybody needs the same players for the same positions. If there were an obvious choice, people would have already made their decisions. We are at the top level and therefore need exceptional quality to strengthen our side. I can understand that people say ‘you have money, just go out and buy’. But it’s not only that, we want to find the quality we need.
“I have said many times that we were very close to winning things last season, despite the disappointment we had at the end. I hope that provokes a response from my players. We were so close this time we want to come back and achieve it. 

My responsibility is first of all not to lose players and then to add and make us stronger. 
Let’s hope we can bring in one or two more additions of top quality.”

July 13th
“Yes [I expect Cesc to stay]. As simple as that. I have never spoken about what has happened behind closed doors but Cesc loves the Club. We know the Barcelona story goes on for years now and we have to close that. Now we focus on the new season, hopefully with Cesc Fabregas.
”Yes [I expect Nasri to stay as well]. There is always speculation when a player has one year to go on his contract that he might leave the club but Samir Nasri is very happy at the Club and committed to stay at the Club. I hope he will sign a new contract but I am not the only one to decide that.

”Both of them (Bendtner and Almunia) are possible departures. They are talking to other clubs at the moment. I cannot tell you which ones.

“For us it is important that the team settles, psychologically, as quickly as possible because we have a tough start. We play all the big clubs away in the first half of the season.

 It is important that the players focus on the season and not the transfer market. The players who are here as well will ask ‘will he go? will he go?’ – that is not the way to prepare for the season.

“The plan for left back is that we have Kieran Gibbs, Armand Traore and Thomas Vermaelen can play there too. So we have what we need.”

July 18th (Gervinho signed from Lille)

July 18th (Ivan Gazidis):
“If we found an established world-class player and we thought the economics made sense and he would add to what we could do on the pitch then there’s no philosophical objection to that.
Arsène has no point of principle to show the world that he can build his own team of young players. That’s just not the way it is. 

It’s easy to lose perspective on what Arsène is trying to do, which, I think, is an extraordinary vision but if you look around here, the fans we have around the world, that vision is very attractive and very, very powerful. We should be proud of that.

“We still will be active in this window. We haven’t finished our business at all. We’re just not conducting it publicly; we’re working hard privately.
 
We understand where the weaknesses have been. Financially we’re in a strong position, we have resources to spend. We’re certainly not sitting there saying ‘let’s hold back on our resources’ for some reason, why would we?
 
The resources are there. We’ve got a substantial amount of money that we can invest. The important thing for us, which can be frustrating, is not doing it only in response to a public clamour but in a way that can positively impact our performance next year. That’s the focus now.”

July 23rd
“Certainly, we will have to find one more defender. We [are] working on it.
 
I can promise we work very hard on it. In fairness, everybody looks for players. Everybody looks for the same area and you see that nobody turns up with magic. It’s all about being steady, working very hard on it and being calm as well.
 
I don’t want to comment individually because I do not want to destabilise clubs. I do not want to do to other clubs what some clubs do to us so I wouldn’t like to comment individually on any player.”

July 30th
“Our business will be done sooner rather than later but it is difficult to speak about any individual player because that makes things difficult. I cannot complain about other clubs talking about our players and then do the same.
“I like the player [Mata], but that does not mean we will buy him. The other player [Jagielka] is under contract at Everton. If we want to buy a player, we need first the agreement of their club.

At the moment the rules are constructed in a way where it is basically forbidden to speak about one individual player. I know that not everybody respects it, but I try to do as well as I can.
”At the moment you have two categories of movement, one from zero to 10 million, and one from 30 to 50 million. We are in between. In between nothing happens at the moment, there has been very little movement. All over Europe our industry is basically in a very bad financial situation. All the clubs who live from the money which football generates do not buy. The only clubs who buy at the moment in Europe are ones who buy with money which is not generated by our industry. There are two categories of club – those who travel with sweat and those who travel with petrol. We are those who travel with sweat.”

August 6th
“Ideally I would have finished all [our business] but it doesn’t work like that. We
work very hard, we are non-stop working throughout the summer. I am positive because we have good quality and a style of play that is known by the players. So we want to add not quality but super quality.
“You have to identify the players, agree with clubs to get them out, agree the fee. That means they have to agree with you and they have to find another player before they release their players. In England, it is a lot more difficult to move during the summer because some people are not there. It’s all kinds of things you meet during the transfer market. But I can understand the impatience of people.
And are Arsenal close to a new signing?

 “No, not at the moment. We hope to give you some good news soon. Next week, something might happen.”

So, what conclusions can we draw.

For me it’s the realisation that substantial new signings are perhaps less likely than I imagined. For every positive noise from Arsene, there are two warnings about the difficulty of finding the right players, of getting value for money, of not blocking the opportunities for our youth players to come through, of how we can’t compete financially with some top teams and so on.

I have been listening to the positive noises and screening out the cautious ones.

But I also think the quotes indicate that Arsene intended to buy players and buy them early, but found his hands tied. Tied, presumably, partly by the Fabregas/Nasri sagas and partly by the fact that it has perhaps been more difficult to get his men than he has expected.

Certainly there are inconsistencies in the messages that have been coming from both him and Ivan Gazidis. “We can buy if we want, we have the money… ah, but it’s harder than you think and we have to make sure we don’t stop our young talents from coming through.”

With the quotes all together I can see where the frustration among a proportion of the fan base comes from.

But with Arsene saying as recently as July 23rd that he will “certainly” add one more defender, I expect that to happen soon. Whether it will be a name to quieten the skeptics, or another “experienced” but jobbing CB like Squillaci or Silvestre, only time will tell.

More worryingly, as Arsene himself stated clearly on July 13th, the uncertainty over key players’ futures undoubtedly unsettles the whole squad – and the fact that such uncertainty is still rumbling on as the start of the season heaves into view is surely not a good thing.

RockyLives


Nasri or £20million?

July 17, 2011

The question is clearly a gross oversimplification of the complex chain of negotiations involved in football transfers, but many supporters are prepared to believe that Arsène Wenger means what he says and intends to keep Samir Nasri whether he signs a contract extension or not.

Personally I find it hard to believe that the club would let him go on a free in a year’s time when he could add £20m (or thereabouts) to the coffers this summer.

Even so,  if we accept AW’s assertion that Nasri is going nowhere is true, let’s examine the pros and cons on the assumption that he does not intend to sign a new contract with Arsenal.

Pros if Nasri stays

  • We would have the services of a top player who has been an integral part of our midfield for another year.
  • He could be the difference between us qualifying for the CL or not and the money earned by doing so outweighs the loss of a selling fee.
  • We would not be weakening ourselves and strengthening one of our top four rivals by allowing him to go to manu or city.
  • We would be sending out an important message to the football world that we won’t be bullied.

Cons if Nasri stays

  • We would forego a selling fee reported to be in the region of £20m
  • Hopefully we will still have Cesc in addition to Song, Wilshere and Ramsey. Add to that Arshavin, Diaby, Walcott, Rosicky and possibly Frimpong and it would appear that we have an abundance of midfielders.
  • He could pick up an injury and miss a large chunk of the season.
  • What if he can’t motivate himself such is his disappointment at not being allowed to leave?

Opinions seem to be divided on the issue. I’d be interested to know what the groundswell of opinion among supporters is so please feel free to express your preference by participating in the poll below. The results are open for all to see by clicking on ‘View Results

False premise

It is entirely possible that all the speculation is based on a false premise. The exercise is purely hypothetical and the whole furore may have just been engineered by Nasri’s negotiating team to get him the best deal possible. Many will say “sell him as long as we spend the money to buy a top player (defender)”.

I think the only two alternatives the club should consider are:

We do everything to encourage him to stay including a sizeable pay rise and repeatedly tell the world he is not for sale

or,

We sell him even if it is to a top four rival.

A possible outcome could be that he signs a new contract with a buy-out clause that allows him to leave in a year’s time. This way both parties retain their dignity and Arsenal will get a good price in addition to his services for one more year.

The idea of  a ‘gentleman’s agreement as a form of  ‘contract’ seems to have arisen from the circumstances surrounding Cristiano Ronaldo’s exit from manu. We all know the famous Samuel Goldwyn quote regarding verbal contracts.

I don’t think any top club has ever admitted to striking such a deal which would rely on honour and integrity, both of which are in short supply in the Premiership as Mancini  graphically demonstrated only yesterday. Buy-out clauses (often ludicrously high) are common and may be the norm in contracts with the top players so I would expect any new contract signed by Nasri to include an exit strategy.

I want to keep him and keep him happy. Cesc will almost certainly go back to Barca some time in the next few years and the future of Arsenal’s central midfield may well be in the capable hands of Wilshere and Ramsey, but for the timebeing I want to retain the artistry and experience of Nasri but not at the cost of £20m for one season – that’s too high a price.


Nasri to Captain Arsenal

June 6, 2011

If Cesc Fabregas leaves Arsenal this summer then you should put a tenner on Samir Nasri taking over as captain.

Let’s deal with the ‘if’ first.

There is no guarantee that Cesc will depart, but there are strong hints coming out of the club (and from people connected with the club) that this time he really is going.

Most recently Nigel Winterburn has added his voice to those saying they expect him to leave.

And he apparently bade his farewells to the staff and gave all his team mates a “little gift” as they went their separate ways last month (you know, a DVD of My Left Foot for Robin van Persie, a copy of Humility: The Finest Grace for Nik Bendtner, some Play-Doh for Emmanuel Eboue and a revolver with one bullet in the chamber for Manuel Almunia).

Last year Cesc asked for a move to Barcelona but was persuaded to stay by Arsene Wenger, whom he trusts and respects. I also believe that Cesc is not the type of man to unilaterally break a contract (“doing a Cashley” as it’s known in Brewers Dictionary of Phrase and Fable).

If (when) he moves on, it will only be to Barcelona. Manchester City and Chelsea can dream on and, although Inter may seem like an attractive move, it’s clear Cesc dreams of playing at the club he grew up supporting and where he started his career.

And so to Nasri.

The little Frenchman with the dribbly feet and feisty temperament has one year left on his contract and he’s not afraid to use it.

If he doesn’t re-sign then he knows we have to sell him this summer and, based on his form in the first half of last season, he would not be short of offers. (If potential buyers examine his form in the run-in they may think twice, but I don’t suppose they will).

He apparently gave some quotes after France’s recent international game which suggested he would be open to at least listening to approaches from Manchester United and Manchester City.

So, the first big question facing Arsene and Arsenal is: do we want to keep him?

With Cesc almost certainly going the answer has to be a resounding ‘yes’. Nasri’s form may have dipped in the second half of the campaign, but so did the form of the entire team with the exception of van Persie. Whatever the cause of the late-season malaise that afflicted Arsenal, Samir certainly picked up the virus but it does not mean he is not potentially world class.

Prior to the run-in he was in blistering form and was probably player of the season until Christmas (despite the media’s love-in with the monkey man from N17).

He is also arguably the player best suited to functioning as a direct replacement for Cesc in a 4-3-3 line-up and he has apparently made it known that that is the position in which he wants to play.

IF Cesc leaves then Nasri knows he has a fantastic bargaining position (a) to get a much better financial deal and (b) to insist that he be played in the “Cesc role”. It might well be that his drop-of-the-shoulder, show-a-bit-of-bosom comments to the French press about a potential move to Northern Chavland were a way of applying leverage in the deal negotiations.

Of course it’s also possible that he really does want to leave. Particularly if Cesc moves on, he may be thinking “I’m in a team that can’t seem to win anything; the team’s best player is leaving, which presumably will make it even harder to win things; perhaps I should leave too.”

Footballers have short careers and if they are a top talent like Nasri it’s unreasonable in the modern age to expect club loyalty from them if they think they can be more successful elsewhere.

Unlike we fans, the players still place a huge emphasis on the international game and Nasri might feel his place in the French team will be more certain if he’s playing in a side that’s winning trophies.

Which brings us to the captaincy issue.

What does Arsene Wenger usually do when he has a star player who wants to leave but whom he wants to stay?

That’s right, he improves their deal and offers to make them captain of the team. He did it with Henry and he did it with Fabregas.

In the current circumstances (and, again, IF Cesc goes) it seems almost certain to me that AW will offer the captaincy to Nasri to help persuade him to stay. I suspect he will also guarantee that he can start the season playing centrally in the “Cesc role.”

I would have very mixed feelings about this.

First, I want Nasri to stay so anything that persuades him to do so can’t be all bad. But, second, it would be a disaster to make him captain.

Arsenal of late has been a team crying out for leadership – vocal, old-school leadership of the type best personified by TA6 (with the kind of vocals that are occasionally backed up with a hefty size 12 up the jacksie).

It may be that Nasri has it in him to be that kind of leader and he has just been hiding his light under a bushel. But to me, at least, he isn’t old enough or experienced enough to carry the team forward in the deepest adversity.

Nevertheless, that may well be how we embark on next season’s tilt at four trophies.

RockyLives


How many Spurs players would get in Arsenal’s First X1?

April 21, 2011
Sorry all, Rasp and I are really busy today, we haven’t been offered a match report but BigRaddy wrote this before he went away so it would be churlish not to use it for discussion today following last night’s thrilling 3-3 at the lane.

We had some fun recently with a post discussing how many Man Utd players would fit into our team playing in the same formation as Mr Wenger employs.

Today I will do the same with Tottenham Hotspur :-

Szczesny v Gomez.

We missed our young Pole during his injury, his influence over the defence in such a short time is profound. He bosses the area in a way we have missed since Mad Jens and Seamo. Gomez is flaky, there is no other word for him. He can be excellent – a fine shot stopper and dominates at set pieces but he is prone to regular lapses of judgement. Given that our lad has so far only made one glaring error (and I blame Koscielny for that), it’s the Pole in Goal.

Sagna v Corluka.

Sagna has returned to the reliability he showed a couple of seasons ago and IMO is the best RB in the country. Corluka is a fine player, has good ball skills, a decent engine and can cover at CB, but he is not as good as Sagna.

Clichy v Assou Ekotto

Gael has his critics but remains an excellent full back. Ekotto has a loyal fanbase amongst Spurs fans and has been very good whenever I have seen him. Clichy is the better attacking player and apart from his weekly lapses in concentration is the better tackler.

Centre Backs

It is hard to establish just who are Spurs first choice CB’s. Woodgate and King are fine defenders, in fact The Master (TH14) has said that King is the best defender he played against. But they are permanently injured. This leaves Gallas, Dawson and Kaboul and for the sake of discussion I will drop Kaboul.

Is Gallas as good as Djourou? In his prime certainly, but one must ask why Mr Wenger chose to sell him to our local rivals; obviously because he believes he has better replacements, and a fit JD is a wonderful CB.

Dawson v Koscielny is not so clearly defined. IMO Dawson is the best English CB, I would have liked to see him in an Arsenal shirt, but Kos has the makings of a great player and an Arsenal legend. In his first season he has made silly mistakes but which player hasn’t? Koscielny gets the shirt because he is  better at passing and driving forward the team.

Midfield.

Again it is difficult to decide upon Spurs first choice midfield. Like us they have a glut of quality players but unlike us they have no set go to 4  players. I will choose Modric, Huddlestone, Van de Vaart and Bale. Probably more attacking than Harry would choose as he often plays 2 DM’s (he has Palacios, Huddlestone, Krancjar, Jenas, Pienaar and Sandro to choose from!)

Song v Huddlestone

Easy choice really. Song is amongst the finest young DM’s in world football. He has improved so rapidly over the past 2 years that we noticeably miss him when he is injured. He has a fantastic first touch, good engine, is a decent tackler and is good aerially. Song’s main fault is that he can get too adventurous and in trying to get back to defend makes rash tackles – he has picked up numerous yellow cards this season without making one really dirty tackle. Huddlestone, according to my Spurs mad nephew, is an integral part of both Spurs and England’s future. He too has made huge strides in his career; capable of playing an accurate and intuitive long pass and assisting defensively, he is one to watch – but he is just not as good as Song, and nor are any of Spurs other DM’s

Fabregas v Modric.

We all know the answer to this! Cesc is a genius; the best creative MF in the PL and a World Cup winner. Modric has had a fantastic season and it would be no exaggeration to say that I am sure Mr Wenger would have liked to sign him; phenomenal energy, a perceptive passer, excellent ball control and a player who knows no fear. But sadly not in Fab’s league.

Wilshere v Van der Vaart.

When playing this parlour game there are inevitably clashes that don’t really gel, and this is one of them. VdV doesn’t play the same game as JW. However, if one had to choose a player for our team I would certainly take the reliability of Wilshere. He turns up every game and gives his all whereas VdV goes missing which I guess is why Real sold him so cheaply.

Nasri v Bale.

Both fine players. Both at the start of their careers. Both up for Player of the Year. They have different skill sets which work very well for their teams. Bale could add what we lack on the left of our attack – pace, but Nasri is a better ball player and can beat a player by looking at him. Nasri scores more goals. Bale is the better defender.  I was going to give the shirt to the least ugly player but they are equal in this area as well. I will take a rain-check ….

Walcott v Lennon

Lennon – ugly, no final ball, phenomenal pace. Theo . good looking, developing tactical awareness, even faster. Capello prefers Theo, so do I.

RvP v Defoe/Crouch/Pav.

Robin is better than all of them. True, Crouch is better in the air. Other than that the Dutchman has it all and would prove it if he could stay fit for a season.

Manager:

Wenger v Redknapp.

Credit where credit is due. Harry has done a wonderful job at Spurs. Taking a team that was threatened with relegation to the Champions League in such a short space of time is a great achievement. Had it not been for economic reasons Redknapp would be England Manager and I am sure that if wants it  he will be after the Euro’s. But check out the Trophy Cabinet. Harry –  1 x FA Cup. Mr Wenger  - 4 x FAC. 3 xPL . French League and Cup, Japanese League and Cup.   Mr Wenger OBE voted World Manager of the Decade.  Mr. Redknapp  - Zip.

So the team looks like this:

Szczesny

Sagna   Djourou  Koscielny  Clichy

Song   Fabregas  Wilshere   Nasri

Walcott  Van Persie

Managed by Mr Arsene Wenger OBE

Why no Bale? Because he is so prone to injury, and he is a throwback.

Why no Spurs players?  Check out the table since 94/5

And this site is called Arsenal Arsenal not Dear Mr. Levy ……


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