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Posts by Will
There’s a news article on the official site about Pat Rice’s future at the end of the season:
Arsène Wenger has stressed that he “200 per cent” wants Pat Rice to continue in his role amid speculation over the Assistant Manager’s future.
Wenger’s right-hand man has given more than 40 years of service to the Club, having joined Arsenal as a 15-year-old apprentice in 1964. Rice went on to make 528 appearances for the Gunners, winning the Double in 1971 and lifting the FA Cup as captain in 1979.
It may be contract talks, and “Wenger doesn’t think Rice’s situation bears comparison” [to Ray Wilkins] -
He will be at the end of his contract at the end of the season. He will not go anywhere else. So will he stay or stop? I don’t know. I hope he will continue. Yes [it is Pat’s decision]. In this case I am the Club and I want him to continue. I want to persuade him…He wants to be sure he can be completely 100 per cent committed. He must think as well [about his age]… in fact he’s my age!
From my side, there’s no hesitation. I want him 200 per cent to continue. It’s only a desire from me. I know how valuable he is for the Club and for me, and I want him to go on. He’s not a guy who does half or thinks half. He gives absolutely everything.
At the moment there’s more chance he remains at the Club than he leaves. There’s a 90 per cent chance that he will go on [stay]. It’s important to keep him, as important as keeping a big player.
I’d be gutted if he left; he embodies everything the players need to know about the club, and concerns I have about continuity if he were to go scare me silly.
Oh yes, and we might buy someone in January but only in exceptional circumstances; AW says that he’s happy with what he’s got, but that he hasn’t ruled out signings. Totally non-committal in a really annoying way. I really dislike the agent-incited auction that is a modern day player transfer. It’s because we have class that we don’t announce any signings until they’re completed, unlike Citeh for example. Despite this a month of fairly pointless media-driven speculation begins for Arsenally Yours. All transfer rumours will be accompanied by my bullsh*t-meter.
Meanwhile, we’ve got a game to play at St Andrew’s today at 5.30. After the disappointing draw with Wigan, a much stronger side faces Birmingham,a team who last lost at home on the 2nd October. Since then they’ve beaten Chelski, and drew with Sp*rs and ManUre.
I expect Chamakh to return along with the unsuspended Fabregas. Arshavin and Nasri will join the Moroccan, with Jack and Alex Song joinging the skipper. We’ve got to show the determination we showed against Chelski, and we must put any thoughts about management to one side.
As for the odds, I’m on for Birmingham HT, Arsenal FT at 25/1 with BlueSq as my long shot, but also interested by 3-1 to us at 14/1 with the same company. Combo is tempting! I’ll see tomorrow.
I’ve found it hard to begin this post. What do you say in response to such a very disappointing performance and result? I’ve seen various comments in the media and on blogs about the line up, most of them criticising AW for fielding a ‘weakened’ or ‘second string’ team. It wasn’t either, it was squad rotation based on the necessities of the fixture list brought on by the idiotic FA. ManUre had a longer rest. They always seem to get a better deal from the FA, or am I alone in thinking that?
That said, such drastic changes resulted in the right-footed Eboue at LB, and the midfield trio of Diaby, Denilson, and Rosicky who offered little creativity. Ironically, Diaby’s injury improved our performance, as Wilshere came on and added urgency and inspiration to midfield, which qualities (Diaby,) Denilson, and Rosicky failed to deliver with any consistency over the 90 minutes.
I’m sure you’ve all seen the highlights by now so I won’t bore you with a breakdown of the game. If you haven’t seen them, go to the excellent Arsenalist. It wasn’t a bl**dy penalty, N’Zogbia dived like Tom Daly, and the ref bought it.
Suffice it to say that all the positive aspects of the Chelski game were forgotten. There was little collective desire, a complete lack of unified pressing of the opponents when we didn’t have the ball; virtually no organisation in defence; and we didn’t have any leaders on the pitch. It seems the squad needs another visit from Jacob Marley, aka George Graham.
Admittedly only 2 outfield players that faced Chelski started against Wigan, so hopefully those that didn’t play are rested, and the importance of the qualities we showed against Chelski were made even more clear to those that played as well as those that didn’t.
The only positives we can take from the game are that Arshavin scored for the first time since September and had some excellent patches; v Persie came through the game without an injury; Bendtner got a run-out; and err… that’s it.
In terms of negatives, apart from everything I’ve already mentioned, Diaby picked up a calf strain and will be out for 2-3 weeks. A real shame, as I believe a fit Diaby offers us something that currently only Song provides – a genuine box to box hard tackling midfielder. Pity his legs are made of polystyrene.
What is more troubling than the fact that AGAIN we missed a chance to get to the summit of the league is the lact of communication and leadership on the pitch. Cesc was rested, but in the absence of our captain, no-one t=picked up his mantle. Fabregas is never overly vocal, but whoever wears the armband, having a vocal player in the back 5 is not just a plus, it’s a necessity.
In the Sun, AW is quoted as saying:
There was no need to concede the corner which led to Wigan’s second goal. We have to make a bigger effort to communicate better.
I tell you what, Arsène, there was no bl**dy need for their second goal at all – I have no idea what the f*ck Squillaci was doing. One thing he wasn’t doing was looking at the effing ball, that’s for certain. Anyway, in typical Sun style they blamed it on the lack of good spoken English among the players. I don’t care if they shout to each other by Tibetan throat singing, they just need to start shouting, and someone needs to take charge.
In midfield and up front, the lack of drive, pressing, leadership and tracking back was blamed on a lack of leaders on the pitch. After the game AW said of our set-piece organisation:
It is a concern because nobody looks from the outside to take charge on the organisation side. There is no voice when the focus drops a little bit. You don’t feel that anybody takes charge on alertness and we need to communicate much better than that.
I’d like to see our Pole between the sticks becoming more vocal at the back. As I said above, we need one of the back 5 to step up and ensure everyone knows what they’re doing, and that everyone does it well.
In terms of the midfield and attack, and in Cesc’s absence, I’d like to see the boy Wilshere pick up this rôle. He’s a driven, technically gifted player whose talents include a great awareness of others, so he’d be ideal.
On Saturday we go to St Andrew’s, another potential away banana skin. They haven’t lost at home since the 2nd October, and let’s not forget that in between then and now, Chelski went to St Andrew’s and came away without any points. Their defence hasn’t conceded more than one goal for 6 games. We need a better team, and a better team performance than what we had against Wigan if we are to get the win we need.
I hope we see the benefits of having rested most of the ‘first team’ in Birmingham on Saturday.
Against the Russian rabble from Fulham, we took two big steps forward. Against Wigan we took one step back. Time to start marching forward, or we risk losing sight of the Manc clubs at the top of the league.
A bit of a rushed post today, I’m afraid. Trying to juggle the work, family and blogging aspects of life is proving a little tricky today.
The big question is what kind of teams will appear at the DW Stadium tonight. Will the real Arsenal turn up – the side we saw demolish Chelski the other night? Or will we fail to turn up in any meaningful sense? We need to ensure that we keep our workrate and concentration levels the same as we did on Monday night, and then I can’t foresee any problems at all.
There’s a similar question as regards the Wigan team. This season they seem to vacillate between quite good and shockingly bad. Will we see the side that lost to Chelsea 6-0 at home, or the side that beat Sp*rs at WHL? On average though, they’re hardly a dangerous side, scoring only 15 goals in 18 matches.
As I said, either way I can’t see a problem AS LONG AS we compete at the same levels as we did the other night. However, the boss is sure to ring the changes. Cesc is suspended. Others are nearly there. There has hardly been time for players who featured on Monday to recover.
So I reckon for the Arsenal:
Fabianski – Sagna – Djorou – Squillaci – Clichy – Song – Denilson – Fabregas – Arshavin – Chamakh – Nasri
Wigan may have something like:
Al-Habsi – Gohouri – Caldwelll – Alcaraz – Figueroa – Cleverly – Thomas – Diame – McArthur – N’Zogbia – Rodallega. As the inimitable Arseblog would say, “meh”.
I hope that “meh” doesn’t come back to bite me.
The Arsenally quid is feeling bold and I fancy us to score 3 with no reply. That’s 8/1 with Ladbrokes. I’ve got a strong feeling that little Sammy Nasri will score tonight, but he’s only 11/8 to score any time. Might be worth a few pennies though.
It was Christmas night. All was quiet at the Emirates, as the players trudged through the halls. It was Theo who first noticed the bust of Herbert Chapman change. The familiar face of the great man morphed the features of a man few of the current Arsenal squad knew well. Then it spoke or rather screamed at them.
“What the hell are ye daein’? And what the f*ck happened against Spurs? If I were still the boss, you’d all a been cleaning booots fr’ae week, ye wee slinkit timrous beaties, ye.”
“Mais qu’est-ce que c’est que ça? Aah, George Graham. T’as prend un bribe aujour’hui?”, asked Koscielny, as the French players sniggered and the English one/two looked bemused.
But then silence from the squad as the bust grew to the size of a man, its shimmering features turning purple. No-one knows what Graham whispered in Kos’s ear, but he would never speak of it, not even till his dying day.
“Come with me, and see how real men play”, the spirit spoke, and all of a sudden the squad were at Wembley, 1993, FA Cup Semi-Final vs Sp*rs. The squad were amazed by the collective passion, the organisation at the back and the workrate throughout midfield and attack. They jumped for joy as Adams scored the winner.
“Nous pouvons jouer comme ça. Peut-être un peu plus de la haîne à Sp*rs – ce n’est pas un mauvais idée, ils sont vraiment les bell-end” said Squillaci.
“Speak English you Fritalian bell-end,” retorted cheeky Jack.
“He said we could play like that, and maybe a bit more hatred for Sp*rs wouldn’t be a bad thing. They are scum after all,” translated Sagna.
“Aye ye can, and aye, ye should play like that,” said Graham. “Now, let’s look at the present. Ye haven’t beat Chelski or ManUre for a few years now. So pull ye fingers out ye arses and start playing like we all ken ye can. Time tae look to the future.”
Everything shimmered for a moment, but nothing seemed else seemed to happen. Then Robin looked up and saw a sign above the ancient bust of Chapman – Property of UzbekInvest.
“Oh my God, what happened?” said Robin.
“Can’t ye guess Robin,” the ghost replied, “Ye all f*cked oop. Ye played like boys against men, ye lost your Champions League place at the end of 2011 – tae fookin’ Sp*rs – for shite’s sake. And so ye lost yer captain to Qatarçelona, and yer gaffer to the same place. And the noo, Arsenal is mid table shite. Fans are leaving in their droves, and some fattie from fook knows where owns oor club. So fookin’ wake up, play with some spirit and beat that rabble from Fulham!”
And with that, the ghost of Graham vanished, and the squad left for their homes in Hertfordshire with an ever-burning desire to play better. To compete all over the pitch, to defend with organisation, to track back properly, and to make the most of goal-scoring chances.
And they did beat Chelski. All the players were on top form, playing with the words of Graham burning in their ears. Alex Song got one, so did Cesc and Theo. Ivanovic scored for Chelski, though. Some say Koscielny thought he saw Graham in the stands and was paralysed by fear. From keeper to striker, all played well, and the spectre that was our record against Chelski and ManUre was buried.
But would they forget the lesson they learned that fateful Christmas Eve at the Grove when it came to play the likes of Wigan? Time will tell, dear readers, time will tell.
Apologies to anyone Scottish! I’m off to spend the Arsenally quids I won yesterday – 13-8, 5-2, and 18-1. Ker-Ching!
It’s Christmas Eve and Arsenally Yours is preparing to don his Santa costume and sneak into the Arsenally little one’s room and leave a stocking. My agent tells me that Santa doesn’t have to be pissed to do this; I disagree, it’s a crucial part of the St Nicholas tradition. She’s good at her job, my agent, but she does like to have a nag about my eating and drinking.
Anyway, it’s about 36 hours till we face the Russian rabble from Fulham. The stats give us a mixed picture. Chelski have only won 2 of their last 9 but Drogba has 12 goals in 10 starts against us. We’re at home where our form this season has hardly been spectacular. Chelski’s away form is pretty poor though – the last time they won away was against Blackburn at the end of October.
The news regarding the Chelski line-up is that fat Lamps returns. So we can expect something like:
Cech; Ferreira – Ivanovic – Terry – Cole; Lampard – Mikel – Essien; Anelka – Drogba – Malouda
As for us, Fabianski returns, as does Diaby. I hope that we’ll start with both Chamakh and van Persie. So I expect:
Fabianski; Sagna – Koscielny – Squillaci – Clichy; Nasri – Fabregas – Song; Arshavin – Chamakh – v Persie
Comparing the two teams as I’m predicting them shows two important points.
Firstly, that Chelski will probably start with two defensive midfielders while we’ll most likely just have Song in that position. Against the better sides, sometimes we start with two ourselves so it’s possible we’ll have a middle three of Denilson, Fabregas, and Song with Nasri, Arshavin, and Chamakh up front.
I’m not in favour of making these concessions to other teams and compromising our attacking options. If we keep the ball and our front three apply themselves to their defensive responsibilities then we should ahve the confidence to start with a middle three of Nasri – Song – Fabregas.,
Another point – and a very positive one, is a comparison of the likely benches. If my team predictions are accurate, we’ll have Walcott, Diaby, Wilshere, and Bendtner (maybe v Persie too) warming the bench. Chelski, however, will have Kalou, Zhirkov, Benayoun, and Sturridge. I know which bench I’d rather have.
Key to this match will be putting a lead on the Drog. Kosquilny® will both have to be on top of their game. Song will have to restrain his striking instincts and attend to his defensive duties. I fear that Drogba’ll put himself on Koscielny rather than his more experienced countryman. In which case we’ve got to pray for an intelligent and strong performance from the young Frenmchman.
As for the odds, the bookies only favour us by a small margin. Even given their current form Chelski are widely available at 7/4, whereas most have an Arsenal win at only 6/4. That doesn’t interest me much. I’m tempted by 13/8 on a home win with Bet365. I like the look of Nasri at 9/4 to score at any time, especially given his good run of form, but the Arsenally sensible quids will be on the captain to put one away at some point – 5/2 with Ladbrokes. We may well get a pen at some point – I’ve got the feeling that Terry will scythe down one of our players, and Ivanovic is hardly the world’s most accurate tackler. Ladbrokes also have 3-1 as the correct score at 18/1 and that’s my long shot.
Le Boss is concerned about how the FA will use Jack. I do think that the amount of U21 football that Theo played last year had an effect on his form. I really hope that the FA will deal with him sensibly. It’s not in their interests to burn him out or injure him.
In the Guardian, Arsène speaks of the large number of fixtures we have in January:
I’d say for us January is a vital month because we play many games, because we are involved in the FA Cup, Carling Cup and the championship. The way in which we can focus in every game will certainly decide our season.
Let’s keep that focus on destroying those Russian-backed upstarts before we start thinking about the new year.
I’m off to give the Arsenally little one his second ever stocking. I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas with you and yours. Make sure you plot your escape from distant relatives to get to the pub/telly at lunchtime on the 27th. I already have plotted mine and it involves an inescapable crisis at work. There are occasions when you should keep your agent in the dark, and this is one such occasion. I hope she’ll be too busy with her siblings to notice me and the Arsenally little one slipping away to our local. Fingers crossed.
Have an Arsenally Merry Christmas,
Have yourself an Arsenally Christmas,
Let’s kick Chelski’s arse!
From now on defensive woes be out of sight…
Have yourself an Arsenally Christmas,
No more injuries!
Please don’t break – van Persie’s legs or Fabregas…
Have yourself an Arsenally Christmas,
Cheer on Wenger’s boys!
Let’s score five and send them back to Fulham sad!
AW on how Chelski is a must win game.
More on team news and betting to follow later.
Merry Christmas, Gooners!
I did promise a bit of a Chelski preview but that can wait until we actually hear something about the team news and indeed whether the game will go ahead at all.
In the meantime, there’s really very little going on. It’s snowing lots here, and in the next door county it was apparently -19°C. Bloody hell. I hope that the ground staff can grit the area around the Grove so the game is actually played on the 27th and not sometime in March.
Alisher Usmanov wants to buy more shares so that he ends up with a blocking stake of 29.9%, according to the Guardian. He wouldn’t be able to get enough of a share to force a takeover, because if he were to, there would be a shareholder vote, which he’d lose (I hope!), and then have to sell back shares until he had 29.9%, which would be a disaster, financially speaking. A blocking share would be worrying, particularly as he cis in fact Baron Greenback, scourge of Dangermouse and Penfold. What decisions would he block and why? What on earth is his agenda besides killing posh mice?
Hopefully his interest is honourable, financially motivated yes, but moderated by some love of the club. But what love of the club can he have? An Uzbek in charge of Arsenal? Please no. We will have to wait and see. There may well be no immediate truth to this story, but it’s always been reoprted that he wants a controlling stake in our beloved club. The concern has to be that he’ll emulate Hicks & Gillett and the Glazers. I just hope that there are provisions in place to prevent that sort of thing from happening even if Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith decides to sell her stake to him.
There’s more detail on the finances regarding Usmanov here.
Bendtner has been mouthing off again, this time saying good things:
I want to get back to 100 per cent, get back into the squad and take my chances when I get them to prove I should be there.
Presumably this will be followed in a week by a quote in which he slags of the management, other players, the fans and my mum. The arrogant mouthy git. Seriously though, I’m bored Nicklas, please just play the game and keep your thoughts to yourself.
In other news, and according to the Mail so I’m taking this with not so much a pinch of salt as a mountain of salt, we’re considering signing another Southampton speedy winger/striker, Alex Oxlade-Chaberlain. Hmm. For £10 million. No wonder AW has again reiterated that we’ll only sign players if the price is right.
Mario Balotelli’s arrogance has reached new levels as he was proclaimed the best young player in Europe, and claimed that he’d never heard of Jack Wilshere. I’m not going to say who by, because that would in some small way draw attention to this disgrace of a decision. He’s just not the best young player in Europe, by a long shot. The fact that he’s mates with Micah Richards inevitably means he’ll promise much but deliver little. He also says that only Messi is better than him. Honestly. Tw*t. I hope Jack introduces himself with skill first and the odd bone-crushing challenge second on the 5th January, when we host the Premier League’s nouveau riche at the Grove.
Hi folks, have we been saved by the snow? I’m glad the players now have a chance to prepare properly for the visit of Chelski next Monday. But the fact that we’ll have to play an extra match, and one against Stoke, is hardly good news as we approach the season of good cheer. Knowing the way our fixtures always fall at the worst possible time, we’ll probably have to face them two days before we play Barça in February. At which point Shawcross will break Fabregas and v Persie’s legs in an ‘accidentally late’ challenge before doing Nasri’s cruciate as he walks off for an early bath.
We’ve signed an 18-year-old Japanese striking wunderkind, Ryo Miyaichi, who’ll join us in January. Accoding to his wikipedia page, he’s still at High School! I hope he accustoms himself pretty quickly to daily training and life in England, and doesn’t miss his books too much.
You can see some clips of him here, but I have to say they’re meaningless – until we see him against proper opposition, we can’t really say a lot with any certainty about his prospects. He does show some good touches and a bit of pace, it has to be said, and what’s more he did – apparently – get some interest from other big European clubs.
But the cynic in me did raise his ugly head when I saw this in the Guardian:
Wenger, who coached the Japanese side Grampus Eight before joining Arsenal in 1996, also said that “it’s very important that Asia is represented at our club”.
Now I’m all for expanding our global appeal, and I’m very aware of how we lag behind other leading English clubs in terms of our commercial success, but should we really sign a player, if putting him on the pitch is a financial and not a football decision? If he plays a few Carling Cup games, then that doesn’t disrupt our Premier and Champions League standing, but what about the English strikers who are excelling in our academy? Do we need him at the expense of one of the youth players we already have?
On which note, Steve Bould’s youth team destroyed Darlington to move into the fourth round of the FA youth cup a few days ago. Chucks Aneke got a hat-trick, and Benik Afobe grabbed a couple while for me, Özyakup showed some great touches in midfield. Like Miyaichi, the test for our youngsters will come against better opposition. Here’s the highlights:
Cesc has something to say here in the Guardian about our mental fragility against the big teams, and most recently ManUre.
Sometimes we seem scared of losing these big games – we don’t really go for it and we’re tempted to drop back and see what the opposition do.
A worrying thing for our captain to say, but at least he recognises the problem. He should, as club captain, do his best to put a stop to this and try to ensure the lads are confident, and that we play our game, rather than responding to the oppostion’s.
I think a large part of this mental fragility could be down to the Home/Away, divide. Away there’s less expectation on us to play our own game and not respond to the opposition, whereas at home, we’re expected to play our own brand of attacking football. Perhaps this provides some explanation for our contrasting home and away form. We need to be more confident wherever we play, and make others dance to our tune. Easier said than done though.
I met a fairy today who granted me only one wish. I said, “I want to live forever.”
“Sorry,” said the fairy, “I’m not allowed to grant wishes like that.”
“Fine,” I said, “I want to die when Sp*rs win the league.”
“You crafty bastard” said the fairy.
Back with more on Chelsea tomorrow.
Good morning all. Everything’s been chaotic at work so I’m sorry not to have posted sooner. Plus I”m feeling minging. Anyway.
As the Arseblogger pointed out they haven’t won any since ’75 when Arsenally Yours was a glint in the milkman’s eye. They may throw up problems with their long throws and their fouling and their general horribleness but we need to be able to cope with that, cope with it well and bang a few in the other end, giving the tw*t in a cap something to moan about.
There’s also their wide players to consider, Jermaine Pennant and Matt Etherington. I know the former will no doubt want to show how wrong we were to get rid of him. Their aerial prowess doesn’t just come from the back, they have Ricardo Fuller as well, a player who’s impressed me at least all over the last couple of seasons.
Is Stoke the team to start Djourou against? I would have said so, but there again I’m hardly the Boss. His aerial ability would be useful against long throws, long punts upfield, long goal kicks, long free kicks… do Stoke ever keep the ball on the ground? We shall see.
Expected line-up: Szczesny – Sagna – Koscielny/Djourou – Squillaci – Clichy – Song – Denilson/Wilshere – Fabregas – Nasri – V Persie – Chamakh
More on UEFA, conspiracy theories and Barcelona on Monday.
Well it’s begun to sink in. Our top two opponents, 7 years, 11 played, 1 draw. That record has to change and that can start just after Christmas when we face Chelski.
In the meantime there’s the visit of Stoke. It’s ridiculous that the buildup to this match will inevitably be focussed on how Stoke play. That surely only exacerbates how the Stoke players will approach the game. Tony Pulis, that dickhead in a cap, will use any negative press or media statements about how they play to emphasise how “Arsenal don’t like it up them” and that they should ignore what’s been said and just focus on breaking a few players legs.
Shawcross is just a thug. I like the physical side of the game, and in my long-gone very much amateur playing days I remember leaving the boot in just to make a point. But I wasn’t playing at anything remotely resembling the top level. Violence on the professional pitch is better left in the past.
The modern game is faster, more skilful and more exciting; much the better for the greater discipline demanded of the players.
That said, a hard legal tackle has its place. But that’s very different from the kind of lunges we’re used to seeing from the likes of Stoke. If we’re on the receiving end of that kind of physical abuse, then we have to give as good as we get, but only so far as is legal. A game that ends up being little more than a violent brawl is a long, long way from the style of play that we’ve succeeded with and that AW has spent the last fourteen years instilling into our club.
So, bring on the Pottters, but let’s not the game devolve into some press-induced riot. We need to concentrate on our own game, and not concentrate on bringing our game down to the level of the likes of Stoke.
Szczesny might well have forced a dilemma into the boss’ mind, but only by coming out with some comments in the Guardian. I’m not a fan of players mouthing off every time they play well, and I don’t think it will impress the boss. He’d be better just getting his head down, but that said, he did play well, and it’s good that Lukasz has someone him pushing for his spot.
In the Express we’re going to build a new training centre in America thanks to Stan Kroenke. A good thing, no? I’d rather we built a new training centre in North London. There are a number of good reasons to build another youth centre in or near London, and not in the states.
There’s all the talent that goes to clubs from QPR to Orient and into West Ham’s youth set-up for example; there’s doing something for the game in the club’s heartland; and there’s even Stan Kroenke not doing something that is in national terms self-centred if not self-serving as well.
We could simply try more training programmes with all the grass and artificial pitch centres across the greater capital area.
I know we have a world class training centre of our own for established, reserve, youth and academy players, and ‘the States is a growth market’. But British and especially London kids need to be the priority even for a club as big as the one we love.