Pat Rice, Transfers, and a game at Brum.

 Match Previews, Random thoughts  Comments Off on Pat Rice, Transfers, and a game at Brum.
Jan 012011
 

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.

Here’s a link to the story on the site.

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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.

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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.

Arsenally Yours,

Will

Arsenal vs Chelski line ups and odds

 Match Previews  Comments Off on Arsenal vs Chelski line ups and odds
Dec 252010
 

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,

Will

Usmanov, Bendtner talking again and other news

 Random thoughts  Comments Off on Usmanov, Bendtner talking again and other news
Dec 222010
 

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?

Baron Greenback

Baron Greenback

Alisher Usmanov

Alisher Usmanov

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.

More tomorrow

Arsenally Yours,

Will