Pat Rice, Transfers, and a game at Brum.

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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

Wigan Review: One Step Back

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Dec 312010
 

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.

Arsenally Yours

Will

Wigan preview and odds

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Dec 292010
 

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.

Arsenally Yours,

Will