Am I the only one not saying goodbye to Eboue through a haze of rose tinted spectacle sympathy? He was a liability, an idiot of the highest order. What promise he did show at right back was snuffed out with the arrival of the consistent Sagna. Eboue was never ever an attacking midfielder. Too much of a headless chicken for that. Incident prone, overly theatrical and groan worthy in his feigned innocence after he had rolled around the turf for the umpteenth time.
The disgraceful antics against Liverpool in double secret overtime were the cherry on the cake. That he lasted as long as he did at Arsenal is just one of the reasons why we have underachieved in terms of trophies.
Yeah a good bloke and all that; I’ve heard it said often enough, but I’m not interested whether he saves Dolphins or does charity bungee jumps. Stefan Effenberg was horrible but I wish he had played for us. I’m not judging Eboue the man I’m passing judgement on Eboue the footballer and as far as I am concerned he was systematically found wanting.
Anyone remember those Eboue free-kicks? Excruciating weren’t they? His 5 league goals in seven season tell their own story. The supposed clown with a heart iof gold does not wash with me; one of the main talents Wenger cites is 'intelligence' sorry but I don't see that when I see Eboue perform.
It is exactly the Eboue model that has been disastrous for us; potential wrapped up in too much patience and too high wages, with long contracts but without having to deliver. I say goodbye to Eboue and am only downhearted that he didn’t go sooner and that more aren’t going with him.
In these dark days let's reflect on the undoubted highlight of last season, when the unbeatable were beaten. It's worth remembering, particularly after the hiding they gave ManUtd in the Champions League final, that we beat them and were not flattered by the result. It's also relevant that Wilshire looked more than comfortable, That RVP really is world class and that Arshavin 'can' be top notch. What a night
Surprisingly this forthcoming season a lot of the clubs have half decent new kits. foregoing the usual horror show garments in favour of a bit of subtlety, however yes, there are some right horrible bits of schmutteer in the offing. Have a look at these lot
I have long suspected that Barcelona have a pact with EUFA & ITV, a pact drawn in blood at a secret Catalan location. The cabal of Barcanists meet in secret to find ways to expound the Barca faith. In ITV’s case it is a drooling sycophancy shouted from on high for all terrestrial viewers to hear and comply with: “do they do ordinary?” “The little Argentinean genius “That goal was sheer Barca” “Messi, Messi, LIONEL MESSI!!!!” “Oops I’ve just come”.
EUFA adore the cult of Barca, turning blind eyes, making allowances, ignoring cheating both on and off the pitch and, indeed doing their work for them in the tapping up department.
Diving shamelessly, influencing referees, making illegal approaches, turning the sprinklers on Morinho and getting opponents sent off are just some of the transgressions that Barca are guilty of yet they are immune to punishment.
Of course, their owners, management and players also feel its okay to ceaselessly bang on about a player that is under contract at another club; they are the chosen ones and therefore pardoned for all wrong doing.
Nobody who has a grasp on their faculties can doubt the ability of the current Barcelona team. That’s not the issue. The issue is that, like lizard rulers of society, this club is in dangerous territory, the tentacles of their power reaching out unchallenged.
The only way to make a dent in the Biederbeck group of football is to beat them on the pitch. This requires ability but also having eleven men on the pitch and a referee that is not carrying a Catalonian gold coin in his back pocket. Arsenal did this; beat the ‘unbeatable’. Given a second chance the ten men of Arsenal could not prevail; although a late B52 opportunity spurned, would have made a world of difference.
So it behoves all right minded football people to reach the standards on the pitch that Barca have set, the rest of their insidious influence is out of grasp so the pitch has to be the place to fight the power.
Is it a case of having the players and finding a system, or having a system and finding the players?
Possibly when Wenger arrived at Arsenal and evaluated the merits of Seaman, Adams, Dixon, Bould, Keown, Winterburn, Bergkamp and Wright it made perfect sense to employ a 4-4-2. Perhaps he had the young Vieira in mind to be the combative fulcrum of central mid field. Maybe he knew that in Petit he would have the perfect compliment to Patrick. In terms of a straight through the middle striker who would thrive on through balls, he obviously had an eye on Anelka. In a 4-4-2 you couldn’t want more than Marc Overmars, and although Parlour was never great at crossing he had an infatigability that the system needed.
The 4-4-2 worked and the first Wenger double was secured. Key to this system was the two man midfield and with Vieira we had Gilberto with Edu as understudy. The benefits of the system reaped reward in silverware. So good where the players that came in that the system was able to function flexibility with Henry ghosting in and out and Bobby & Freddie in front of Lauren & Cole causing defenders nightmares. When the back four was transformed Campbell was key, and alongside Keown and then Tourre defending was prioritised.
Then Wenger had a revelation; or so it seemed. The new method would be centred on Fabregas’ gifts and therefore there was no place for Flamini, Diarra or Gilberto, Wenger thought.
Wenger dismantled the key components of the Invincibles far too quickly and sacrificed experience for the potential that the thought his new breed and system would deliver.
It never came to pass. What is ostensibly a flexible formationhas become a stylistic straight jacket as power and experience have been disposed of in order to fulfil a theory; that’s basically what Wenger’s dogma started out as.
In the six years that have passed the system has come first with Wenger buying players to fit into his dreamscape. Quality players who do not fit the ‘compact’ ‘technically good’ blueprint slip through the net time and again. The centre of this 4-3-3 universe has always been Fabregas and should he, as looks likely, depart will Wenger be forced to rethink?
In the English domestic league, which is clubs bread and butter, 4-4-2 is king. In the weekly grind of mediocrity, of teams playing for a point, 4-3-3 hits the brick wall, it fails to breakthrough, it misfires. The problem is that Wenger has only the players that can fit that system and when variety is needed we are found wanting.
So returning to my opening question: ‘Is it a case of having the players and finding a system, or having a system and finding the players?’
I think that maybe the answer is find the players that suit the league you and play the system that suits them, and importantly, to compete in that league on an equal footing of power and experience; the rest will follow.
There was also an interesting table of the top twenty Players in terms of assists in Premier History. David Beckham came 1st with an assist rate of 0.57. Interestingly Arsenal had 3 players in the top 5.
4th Dennis Bergkamp 0.46
2nd (joint) Thierry Henry 0.56
2nd (joint) Cesc Fabregas 0.56
What this shows is unclear but perhaps it's an indication of the importance of, in Arsenal's case, not only having a mid-field player who creates chances for others but a striker that does. It also shows that in the top ten the majority have been in title winning teams; that Cesc, at number 2, hasn't is clearly not based on his own contribution as a midfielder that the stats would tend to imply, and therein, perhaps, lies some of the reason behind his current state of mind regarding his future. The player with the joint second most assists in a leagues history should have a title I would have thought.
What we learnt today 3.
There we are a mere twenty days until the season kicks off and we are still unclear about the futures of Nasri, Fabregas, Bendtner, Almunia and Eboue. We are still to sign the central defender/s we badly need.
What we learnt today 4.
That the Arsenal fan is so disheartened that The Emirates cup, an opportunity for a couple of days relaxing at the Emirates stadium, is struggling to sell tickets. Radio adverts a la Chelsea are being broadcast. Gord 'elp us. What else did the club expect?everyones skint after paying for season tickets and pissed of by lack of change in AW's approach to the coming season.
"Well, yeah... I was sittin' here eatin' my muffin and drinkin' my coffee when I had what alcoholics refer to as 'a moment of clarity...'"
Let’s try and get our heads around this. Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri are under contract to Arsenal Football Club. Neither player has made an official transfer request. Barcelona have both, informally and officially made an offer for the services of Fabregas; the price offered has been deemed unacceptable, therefore until such time an offer is made that Arsenal feel is appropriate Fabregas remains under contract. As regards Nasri, having not put in a transfer request, Arsenal, until such time as someone makes a financial bid that the Club find acceptable, retain the player under the terms of his contract.
EVERYTHINGTHING ELSE IS TOTTALLY AND UTTERLY SECONDARY TO THESE FACTS
It really is that simple.
Bendtner and Denilson have expressed a desire to leave the club. Denilson is on loan and Bendtner remains under contract until Arsenal feel that there is an acceptable offer made or feel that they would prefer to dispense with the players services.
CUT AND DRIED, NO?
Almunia, Diaby and Eboue have not been mentioned in any official terms as to their futures. Rosicky has been.
AGAIN, IT’S EASY ISN’T IT?
The players that have been signed have been signed. Speculation exists over a number of potential signings based on little else but conjecture.
I recently bemoaned a lack of characters in our current Arsenal squad, lack of players that bought a sense of fun and identity. One such player was Freddie Ljungberg. From his debut against Manchester United when he came on as a sub, he managed to get booked, have a shot that flew high wide and handsome and then chip Schmeicel to make it 3-0; what a debut. Freddie was a constant thorn in Manchester United’s side scoring many a goal against them. When Freddie got sent off in a bad tempered game at WHL he flicked the Vs and booted his way down the tunnel; this made him a legend.
His Red haired goal scoring exploits that led us to a double and memorable capture of the title at Old Trafford. His post match swearing after the FA Cup win against Chelsea. His tussle in training for Sweden. His crazy fashion sense and his willingness to have a tear up on the pitch. All these things were what we loved about Freddie. That’s why he had one of the greatest terrace songs ever; ‘we love you Freddie, because you’ve got red hair…’
Freddie popped up with crucial goals, he gave assists and he got stuck in he had a great engine and gave his all.
That’s what’s missing; more Freddie’s. You need players like him, not just a good player as evidenced by his contributions in hostile territory like WHL, Old Trafford and Anfield, but a player who loved playing for the Arsenal. The great Arsenal side he played in was an amalgamation of many things and Freddie was a key ingredient.
Being an Arsenal supporter feels like being trapped between a bad episode of the Apprentice with Wenger back in the boardroom for the seventh times, and the Stargate sequence out of 2001: A space Odyssey. It’s baffling, unfathomable and some of the decisions being made are, in the words of Lord Sugar “Bloody ridiculous”
I know, let’s give Barcelona another two weeks to stump up the money for our captain; that will bring us nicely round to August 1st a mere 12 days from our opening fixture. How about buying a young striker no one has heard of, after all we don’t have a problem defensively do we? How about the Nasri situation; after all he is a one man team so no problem taking a £20m hit on him. With City richer than Richie Rich we should be squeezing every penny out of them for a player who clearly wants to vamoose. Then we come on to the names that it’s to boring to repeat (you know who I am referring to anyway) they are still at the club; Hurray!
Nobody has the faintest idea what is going on. Gervinho has signed; a player that no one had ever heard of but now, as we are so desperate for new blood, people are claiming he is the resurrection. So we’ve added an Ivorian with a Brazilian and a Fin with an English name. On the evidence of the last game we are clueless on set pieces. This player is linked with coming, that player is linked with going; the left arm doesn’t know what the right arm is doing. “It’s a bloody shambles”
I don’t know what’s going on. No sod does by the look of it.
Still uncertainty about Cesc and Nasri, runour about Eboue and Denilson getting the elbow, no bids for Bendnter and Almunia. Oh, and no sign of defensive reinforcements, young players that no sod has heard of in the mix; so business as usual I guess. It's also worth pointing out that Shay Given has gone to Aston Villa for £3.5m, I can't help but think that for half the fee we got for Clichy, Given would have been a sensible investment, but what do i know?
It’s generally considered that the top clubs in England have traditionally been Liverpool, Manchester United, Arsenal, Everton and Tottenham Hotspur, it’s also reasonable to add to them Chelsea and ManchesterCity post investment.
When the statistic is trotted out ad naseum, that Arsenal haven’t won a trophy for six years, it is not an untruth, however, let’s look at some of the other top clubs. It’s fair to say that the quality of a team is best gauged by their Championship credentials. Achievement in cup competitions is harder to define as it is not always the best team that wins in a knock out contest.
Of this elite group of teams Manchester United have shown consistency, Spurs haven’t won a league title in 50 years. For Everton it’s been 24 years. ManchesterCity last won the title 43 years ago. Pre-Abramovitch, Chelsea had not won a title in 50 years and most notable is that Liverpool have not been Champions for 21 years.
For Arsenal it is 7 years since being unbeaten Champions.
The argument regarding EUFA Champions Leagues, FA Cups and Carling cups has merit but needs to be looked at on individual quirks; qualification by not winning the league, easy cup runs, vagaries of refereeing. The true test is the League, and in Arsenal’s case we are far more recent winners than the majority of our peers. Just worth bearing in mind that we are not in double figures compared to Everton, Spurs, ManCity and Liverpool.
The time factor is raised again and again; rightly so, but when all is said and done it is unpalatable that we have failed to take silverware in our last 25 attempts however, in the one trophy that shows that you are the best, we don’t come close to the time deficit of most of our fellow ‘top’ clubs.
“Exceptional” these are Wenger’s words used to describe Patrick Vieira who retired from the game today.
This was the man that, in a team with the likes of Bergkamp, Henry, Pires and Campbell, was the Captain. From his first appearance as a sub against Sheffield Wednesday to his final kick of a ball for Arsenal Vieira was outstanding.
Captain of the Invincibles, one man Mid-field, muscular & athletic Vieira had everything. Never afraid to be an enforcer, never scared to get his hands dirty he was also languid and skillful.
In the pantheon of great club captains he is right up there.
Forbes magazine has rated Arsenal as the 7th most valuable sports franchise in the world assessing the club’s worth, following Stan Kroenke’s takeover, at $1.19 billion. Last year the Gunners placed 8th in the rankings valued at $1.18 billion.
Bayern Munich (19th), Barcelona (26th), AC Milan (34th), Chelsea (46th) and Juventus (49th) are the only other football sides to make the top fifty.
Is it fair to say our achievement does not reflect our position? I think so
The countdown continues. No new defenders. No additional keepers. No takers for the dross in our squad. No more clarity over Nasri. No more clarity over Fabregas. A couple of players bought who are unknown quantities.
Funny thing is that when I see Ramsay, Vermaelan, Wilshire, RVP, Sagna, Song and Cszesny I find myself seeing some character; some cojones, I see some players that I can believe in. Players that are capable and not third- raters idling on top dollar. Not deluded individuals cruising on Wenger’s yacht of misplaced belief.
Add some quality to that skeleton, excise the Charlatans and big heads and I can imagine an Arsenal team that I will be happy to applaud. That’s the frustration. Even though I believe we are miles away from being where we need to be, I can see a glimmer in these guys. I feel a recollection of watching Arsenal and recognising each member of the team feeling that connection. I recall what it’s like to feel that you are not just watching a group of individuals; imposters in Arsenal shirts. If only Mutiny was an option.
Today is four weeks, a month, 4 weekends until the start of the season. Time to work on those set pieces and defensive duties, integrate the new players, get on each other’s wavelengths, carry on without those that have moved on. Time to get ready to hit the ground running in a packed August. Time to try out new formations and personnel in Pre season tournaments. Time to have got over last season’s calamities; time to make those necessary changes gel. Time to gain confidence in the young players promoted from within. Time for the Captain to rebuild belief for the task ahead. Time to put business matters to one side and focus on success. Time to instigate those changes that were glaringly obvious last season, and get used to them before the real stuff begins in a month.
Except that’s not the case at London Colney ; Unsure about who’s going and who’s coming in, no sign of the defenders and goalkeeper we obviously need, no idea what our starting eleven will look like, Denilson and Bendtner still on board along with Almunia. No notion of formation, no sign of changes or deficiencies addressed. No clue. The current Champions have all these things in place and are ready to rock; that’s great, let’s just give them a head start then.
One month to go to the most important Season in Wenger’s career. Is he ready? Are we ready? Doesn’t look much like it to me.
We are currently amidst stories about players who, to use the common vernacular, are ‘bigging themselves up’ about how much they are worth. Their puffed up egos and avaricious agents fuelling their pomposity thus leading to the inevitable conclusion that they are worth far more than their peers. These sporting celebrities believe that their view of their own merit is all that matters and high wages, they feel, are linked to their perceived stature and therefore a big club with a chance of winning things is their rightful destination. Conveniently overlooking their own lack of contribution in achieving anything at the clubs at which they currently ply their trade.
With this in mind I want to talk about a great Arsenal player. A player who was worth it. A player who, among a team of quality peers, was incredible. Thierry Henry.
For a substantial period Henry was scoring goals and making goals for Arsenal. Were we to have a similar system to American sport; a hall of fame if you will, Henry would be ahead of all comers in the assists category. What Thierry also gave the club was a superstar with all the attendant excitement.
As in most things reflection gives you a greater appreciation of past achievements and Henry was the best striker in the world during some of his Arsenal time. He was also, unusually so, a team player, which again highlights his attributes. Pace yes, frighteningly so. Consistency, power, athleticism, grace under pressure; he had the lot.
Yet, as is some peoples way; there are those who criticise. A knackered Henry failed to score when we were one nil up in the Champions League final, yet that is to overlook his solo goal at The Bernabaue without which we would have not have made progress that year.
‘He’s not a big game player’ was sometimes heard; balderdash! Knocked out of Europe and FA Cup in a week, losing against Liverpool at home Thierry turned it around magnificently. Decisive goals in Europe and against the great Manchester United side, goal upon goal week after week, this is a player that was a pleasure to watch and a player who showed loyalty and a genuine feel for the club.
As the current silence coming out of The Emirates becomes more and more depressing a little dose of Henry is an instant pick me up. Watching some of the clips of him in action is an exhilarating experience and is a reminder of what having great, really great players can do to a football club.
Nasri and many others should think about how good they actually are, how invaluable they are to their clubs. They should ponder what it takes to become a legend; after all sport isn’t just about the money, its glory and affinity also. Who ever doesn’t want to play at Emirates anymore should go. Not because they are worth it but because they are not worth it.
“I’ve seen most things in this league, for the last twenty five years, I haven’t never seen anything like him”-Andy Gray