Vermaelen’s potential sale and the comfort blanket of self sustainability

So as we count down to the curtain opener of the Premier League season this weekend, it appears as though the Thomas Vermaelen situation is slowly juddering towards the inevitable conclusion I suppose most of us thought it would.

With both United and Barcelona interested in his services what with them having completely ignored purchasing defenders who were either more useless than a chocolate teapot, or just as old as a Galapagos Turtle, it’s fair to say that wherever Thommy V goes he’s a lucky boy. And might I say, it’s nice for us to be holding the cards for a change, as well as sitting back with our hands behind our heads smirking at the prospect of United and Barcelona engaging in a bit of a bidding war.

Utopia has to be the Belgian eventually moving to Barcelona for somewhere approaching £15million. That would ensure we haven’t offloaded to an English side, but also that we’ve made a profit on a player whose game time has been very limited for 18 odd months.

Look at me, I’m talking about a human being like a commodity, all callous and ‘where’s the money’. After all, it’s not like I will actually personally see any of that cash, and lord knows I could do with a smidge of it to use on my new/old house which has more creaks than Abou Diaby’s knees. And ankles. And muscles. Repeat to fade…

But I guess that is what modern football has done to the average fan. Well, the average Arsenal fan, anyway. We’re all concerned with getting our ‘monies worth’ and the value of a footballer seems to matter. It’s because the more money we get, the more we want reinvented in the club – I know that – but I do wonder sometimes if it helps us grasp tightly on to the moral high ground of footballing sustainability. With the Petro-dollar clubs having had a few years of carte blanche to spend what they want, we Arsenal fans have found solace in the comfort blanket of self sustainability. Playgrounds, offices and pubs across the world have sounded the defence of our straying from the trophy trophy laden path (thankfully we look to have found a cut through back to it now) with the shield of sustainability, so to be able to turn pseudo accountant and extol the virtues of spending what you make whilst managing a debt, has been important in the justification process of the clubs actions.

So when an indoctrinated fan like myself hears of bidding wars and extra cash for The Arsenal, we et all warm, fuzzy and smug inside. Because it means we’ll get extra cash for a player that can be reinvested (I would assume, unless Arsene is playing centre half Russian roulette with our current defenders’ fitness all season) that we know won’t be eating into the coffers and will allow us to maintain that moral high ground status as a buffer in case we don’t see any trophies this season.

There’s still rumblings about a defensive midfielder and various journalists are still trying the old ‘rehash’ or ‘different take’ on the Khedira/Carvalho, but I suspect that their knowledge is as advanced as yours and mine, which means their looking for attention with comments about withers agent in London for talks. It’s clear we’re open for another midfielder, but I think it’s touch and go as to whether we actually get one. I see Arsene doing the whole Gallic shrug thing and picking up a player as long as the price quoted isn’t extortionate in his eyes, but he knows he has the benefit of early business already being done and the fans being placated already, so he can play the waiting game and hope something comes gift wrapped with a red bow on top.

Just to close off on today’s thoughts and to go back to our captain’s almost inevitable departure, I think I’ll go on record to say that I’d probably prefer us not to lose Vermaelen this summer, as he brings experience and quality to that third centre half role. I understand that he would want to get game time and I know Arsene is very good at understanding and empathising with the needs of his players, so that’s why this sale is likely to be inevitable, but I will be sad to see a player who has carried himself so well, been a decent player for us whilst he’s been at the club and from my perspective will be missed.

Especially if the alternative is the injury prone Daniel Agger. A decent player, but nothing more than a different name in my opinion. Let’s see how that one evolves though.

Let’s just hope we don’t have to see him every week for that lot in Manchester.

Cheerio for today.

Not buying conspiracies on kit launch; Suarez is a Scalextric (and we’ll get Hot Wheels)

So it appears that, if you believe the Telegraph anyway (and I’m not suggesting that you, or I do, by the way), Arsenal have already turned their attentions towards snapping up a Bender this summer. Having already practically wrapped up the Debuchy and Sanchez deals – allegedly – we have turned our attention to the next position of strength required, holding midfield.


For as sure as eggs is eggs, Arsenal have shown historically that unless that paper is signed and Stuart MacFarlane has had his way with the newbie, we’re as likely to lose out on a player as to gain one. The ghosts of Juan Mata and Gonzalo Higuain still haunt Highbury House it seems.

But it does appear as though we are reaching a conclusion on the first new recruits. If we do see some movement this week, you have to hand it to Wenger who, despite moronic articles like Andy Dunn’s in the Mirror yesterday, will have followed his public assertion almost to the letter that deals won’t be done until the World Cup is finished. Well, it’s finished for Debuchy and Sanchez, whilst Lars Bender is not with the German side due to injury. If – a big IF at this stage – deals are wrapped up this week, then it’s hard not to tip the cap to Arsené and agree that he showed us his intended hand before the World Cup, so it’s not his fault that we thought he was throwing us the old bluff. Beach soccer indeed, oh Arsené you rascal.

Just make sure those deals are done this week, yeah?

If you believe the conspiracy theorists, they’ll be three signings that will all be announced for the Puma kit launch on Friday, to take advantage of the great PR opportunity. I’m sure there’s a Marketing Department in Highbury House that would love that, but personally I don’t think it will happen so perfectly that way. If you think about how easily information gets linked to the press about players signing, medicals, pictures taken, etc, then if Arsenal get any deals wrapped up on Wednesday they’ll find it virtually impossible to keep it under wraps until Friday this week. So they would probably just announce when it’s done and dusted. Which is fine by me. I’m an impatient supporter and want to see our new signings – whoever they are – in an Arsenal shirt as soon as possible.

If you believe the Brazilian Press – and I’m not suggesting you do (can you see a pattern forming here?) – the Sanchez deal is now being put in jeopardy by the injury to Neymar. It would only be an Arsenal signing that could be affected by not just another transfer deal (Suarez) being wrapped up, but by an injury to another player, causing the selling club to hold on to an asset to ensure they have enough cover in the team. Perhaps I should take a bit of a chill pill and let this all play out without it affecting my mood though, eh? If Sanchez wants to come, if Barcelona want to sell and if Neymar Jr hasn’t broken his back to keep him out for a year, it should still go through. Barca want Suarez – bad – and they’ll do anything to get their man. Just look at Fabregas. They are the footballing equivalent of a spoiled fat kid in a rich family, always wanting the latest toy, to which they discard after a while and look for the shiniest new toy anyway. Suarez is the latest toy. He’s a Scalextric. It doesn’t matter that they already have loads of Scalextric’s, and could really do with Buckeroo, they like the shinyness of the Scalextric and will get it no matter what.

Let them have their shiny racing game. They’ll be giving us a perfectly good Hot Wheels game which they’ll probably regret handing over in a couple of years time.

Maybe if it happens.

Probably if it goes through.

Anyway, that should probably be it from me today, lest I go off into any more childhood trauma comparisons.

Guffannnnrrr!! And praying for those in football purgatory

Sweeping statement of generalism here I know, but if you’re a conveyancing solicitor and you’re reading this blog today, can you explain to me why 99% of your peers are beyond the level of acceptable competence? I know I usually reserve this blog for purely Arsenal musings, but given that “all’ squirt on the Western Front” in that regard, I thought I’d see if I can extract some sympathy from you by telling you some other troubles first.

Trying to move house would be some much more easier if members of the legal profession that I am dealing with either a) used telephones and emails in a correct and appropriate manner, or b) didn’t have to be involved at all in the process. Guffannnnrrr!!!!

(That’s the sound of my exasperation by the way)

Anyway, that irritation out to one side, how are you doing? More importantly, how are we all going to cope, when the end of this week comes and there are no games to watch? I mean, what a welcome distraction from the gutter trash speculation there is that we can talk about something else, eh? But on Friday it stalls for a couple of days, possibly to allow those people not ‘in to’ football to gain some respite, but I say SCREW THEM! It’s not their fault they weren’t genetically programmed right, is it? And besides, some of these people prefer soap opera TV to the beautiful game. SOAP OPERA EFFIN’ TV!!

I do find it amusing that some of the people complaining about the football being on are the same ones that happily sit through soaps that are on every week, of every month, of every year. Yet a tournament comes around once every four years and they’re outraged because their dosage of Corrie has been shifted from their usual preferred times. And these people call you and I OBSESSIVE!!

M’lord, I refer you to my early testimony….


Anyway, back to our footballing dilemma on Friday, to which I’d suggest you make provisions now. If you can, record the alternate game you don’t watch on your Sky+ box or similar, then make sure you’ve got a couple of options to relive during the ‘dark zone’ period. If you don’t have that facility for your TV, then God have mercy on your soul. I will pray for you when you reach football purgatory.

Last night’s round of fixtures produced a Spanish hammering that really meant nothing and the Netherlands picking up top spot in their group by beating the surprise package of Chile. Someone at work told me they would be a dark horse in this competition and with a player like Sanchez in their team, it’s easy to see why, whilst equally frustrating I didn’t listen and stick a couple of quid on them to come out of their group.

Who knows, maybe of the rumours are true they’ll be an Arsenal connection in the team come the end of the tournament, with the arrival of Sanchez?

We’ll see what the Chilean’s are made of when they come up against the hosts Brazil, after they overcame Cameroon, and the Netherlands will take on Mexico in what is two pretty tasty second round ties. I think this Brazilian team is very beatable and with the pace that the Chilean’s have shown in their attack and swift movement of the ball, they will easily provide Brazil with their first major challenge of the competition. In the other game it’s hard not to look at The Netherlands and not see them progressing.

Tonight England take on Costa Rica in what nobody thought would be the deadest of rubber. Indeed, I’m at an event all day with ‘World Cup Networking Drinks’ afterwards, which was supposed to be a nail biting affair in which England needed a draw or victory to progress. Alas it is not to be, but the show (or corporate event rather) must go on, which means as a result I have a bag full of England bunting with a few Brazilian flags to try and even out the nationalism that I’m being forced to erect before kick off. I swear, the looks I was given yesterday as people saw me picking up all the bunting for a World Cup party, it was a mixture of amusement and pity. Almost as if they thought I hadn’t realised that this match means nothing.



Too shouty? Probably.

Look at me, I’ve rabbitted on for this whole blog post, without really ever mentioning the mighty Arsenal. Well, unless you count the pretty obvious stuff about us not having Carlos Vela back, preferring to open Noel Edmunds red box and take the money (Ivan loves a game show I hear, so made the Sociedad chairman play out the ‘Deal or No Deal’ theme music before hiring in a black phone with Dick Law call every two minutes I hear) instead. The best news about that is that it strengthens the coffers even more for signings. The bad news is that – Mesut Özil aside – that never stopped us before from not spending.

That’s it from me. I’m off to try and work out how to ‘tone down the Englandness’ with only a bag full of England paraphernalia and a single Brazilian flag. Wish me luck.

Oh what could have been! A reminder of the Arsenal love and international hate

Well, if you’re English, you didn’t expect anything else other than defeat with little to crow about, did you? Last night’s game against the Uruguayan’s was a classic example of what you can achieve with one world class player in your team.

Luis Suarez should have effectively secured his natures passage into the knockout stages of the World Cup and, unlike his shamefully immoral efforts four years ago with the handball on the line, this time he did it the right way with two goals.

I’ve never liked the guy, but what a good player he is and, having watched Uruguay against Costa Rica last weekend, he really did prove the difference between the two sides. I’d said as much to work colleagues and also my partner in crime for the evening Dave, as I thought that the strength of the Uruguayan attack was more effective than the strength of the English attack, as well as the respective fragilities of both defences. So it proved in Brazil.

There’s some sort of bitter irony that it was Steven Gerrard that assisted Suarez on that second goal. But it was still a sublime finish.

But again I cast my mind back to thinking not of the English performance, but that of Suarez who had we have managed to secure the services of at The Arsenal, we must have been favourites to win the league. Heck, I’m convinced he is a player that gives you a minimum of 12 points a season on his own, which added to our tally would have had us champions with a week or two to spare before the season ended.

Of course it didn’t happen and there is no use dwelling on the past, but last nights performance of the ‘bitey one’ only serves to give me more trepidation about our ventures into the transfer market this summer, where we simply must strengthen offensively with pace, power and a world class finisher.

Skipping back to last nights game, which I watched in a pub garden, realising why I hate international football so much. Surrounded by footballing ‘supporters’, who have no idea about football and have merely turned up to watch ‘Eng-Ger-Land’ and jump around like they were at a Slipknot conference, is certainly not my idea of a good time I’m afraid. There’s something about international football that brings out the most moronic traits in people and I heard stupid comment (“kick it harder Gerrard”) after moronic comment. I don’t recall the last time I had to watch The Arsenal in a pub with stupid people like that. Call me a football snob, but I like to watch the game and engage in intelligent comment with colleagues about formations, individual performances and how to nullify the opposition. What I don’t do is stand with my back to the screen for long periods during the game chanting the name of my team repeatedly just to see if the crowd reacts. It’s sad and pitiful actually.

Keep football for those that love football. Not morons. That’s what I’m going to decree when I become President of the Universe.

Anyway, rant over, on the positive side at least we can all go back to watching this World Cup as neutrals/onlookers at what has been a great one so far. I’m lucky; I have German and Dutch roots so I’ll be voting for one of those two teams for the remainder of the tournament, probably with a leaning towards the Germans because of the Arsenal connection.

Catch the in the morrow.

Transfer insanity and instant reaction

It’s Wednesday, we’ve made it halfway through the week, with just a couple more days until freedom from the shackles of office desk jockeydom.

But the shackles of transfer tedium remain as strongly bound as always, laced with a deadly coating of instant reaction fuelled by the gutter press with a bit of time on their hands in Brazil to fabricate rumours to their hearts content.

Yesterday’s ‘man of the moment’ was Mexico’s shot stopper Guillermo Ochoa who, fresh from a ‘Man-of-the-match’ performance against Brazil, was instantly sky-rocketed into the British tabloid press as a potential target for Arsenal and Liverpool. The ‘keeper is also available on a free transfer from recently relegated AC Ajaccio.

“That ‘keeper played well for Mexico”

yeah, wonder who he plays for?”

“Says on Wikipedia a French team in Ligue 1! And they’ve just been relegated! And it says here is available on a free transfer!”

“Stop the presses and get this online now Neil! The Arsenal fans will love this one so get it online sharpish and make sure you tag the content with any word you can think of that can be keyword searched for by Arsenal fans!”

“Yes boss”

It was a great performance by Ochoa and maybe he could turn out to be a great signing for somebody, but having watched West Ham spunk a fortune on Florin Raducioiu after World Cup 94, I would have thought most people of a certain age would realise the dangers in taking interest in a player who has shot himself in to the limelight at a World Cup like Guillermo has.

Hey, I might be wrong and he might be an absolute gem that rocks up in the red and white of Arsenal this season, but I have my doubts at this moment in time. It’s the same with Joel Campbell too. If he stars against Italy again and adds to it against England, it may all bode well for us Arsenal fans, but until I’ve seen half a dozen impressive performances in an Arsenal shirt I won’t be heralding the second coming of the son of God just yet.

It’s the same with Lukaku. He was supposedly poor yesterday for the hour he was on the pitch (was travelling home from work so I’m not entirely sure), which certainly happens from time to time with the best players in the world, but the knee jerk reaction from fans was, in my opinion, a little harsh to label him a flop after one game at the World Cup. The Belgians as a whole hardly tore apart the Iranians and despite the hype surrounding this competitions ‘Golden Generation’ team, I do wonder if that tag is cursed and we’ll see them flop much like England of the previous decade and Spain of the decade before that.

I have to say I thought Brazil were a lot of huff and puff and possession and not a lot else for the bits of the game that I watched yesterday, but for all the disappointment of the lack of goals in the game, at least we got to see Thierry giving his input yesterday. The mans words are like concentrated awesomeness syrup injected straight into my brain. Sensible, good opinion and an Arsenal legend. What more could any Gooner ask for?

Some signings relatively soon, apparently, which doesn’t then help when Balotelli’s agent says that a transfer to Arsenal could be possible. As I debated with The Dorset Talent yesterday, cue the immediate denial that we were ever interested in him by Arsene Wenger, the speculation trail to go cold on the player, followed by a section of Arsenal fans going ‘ohhhhh’ like we’ve just been told by our mums at the Tesco counter that we can’t have any Fruit Pastels.

I think he’d be a great signing for Arsenal and would give us two years worth of insanity (not the work out I keep hearing about, although a Balotelli workout video, would I’m sure be an interesting purchase for the Christmas list) before buggering off somewhere else. But as I’ve said before, what a ride it would be, and I’d love to see it happen. It won’t though. Not now anyway.

Elsewhere in the footballing world it appears Julian Draxler has tired of not starting for Germany and has decided to try and create his own artificial inflation of his price tag by saying that Arsenal were interested in him and he rejected in the January window, adding that if Arsenal come calling this summer, he would reject their overtures again. Clever PR to keep the Schalke fans on side, but we all know that if any club activates his release clause, or even probably bids in the £30million region and Schalke accepts, he’d be on his way. To my mind the comments from Draxler are designed not to piss off Arsenal or it’s fans, but more to keep the relationship with his existing fan base that adore him, so that when he does move he can say “it was a good move for Schalke and that is why I accepted it. Schalke wanted me to go and that’s why I’m leaving”. I can understand that. Heck, Thierry played his move to Barcelona in a similar way and we still all love him, don’t we?

That’s yer lot for today. Speak to thee tomorrow.

International Stoke City uncovered; building goodwill points

Well I don’t know about you, but I found out that even international football has it’s own Stoke City, as Honduras decided to emphasise the phrase ‘They don’t like it up em’ quite literally. Heck, to add a little bit more integration to the Stoke way of football, they even had a Stoke player in amongst their ranks to show them how it’s done.

I guess in that sense it was no surprise then, that Wilson Palacios was the central figure behind the controversy against France, as he bundled over Pogba inside the box to concede his sides first goal whilst picking up a second yellow of the match. It really becomes something when you see yourself favouring the French because their opponents are playing a brand of football designed to inflict maximum physical damage to their rivals on the pitch. But I found myself supporting a thrashing to show the Hondurans that actually, you can’t boot seven shades of the proverbial out of your opponents and emerge victorious. Honduras were lucky to still have ten on the pitch by the end.

As for a spurious Arsenal connection; Griezmann looked like a handful and, if any of the bazillion rumours on possible signings are true, then we need to have a serious think about snapping the lad up from Sociedad. Hopefully Ivan has been having a friendly chat with the Chairman whilst negotiating some of the release clause details for Carlos Vela.

The other Arsenal connection from yesterday’s games would have been Johan Djourou for the Swiss, but if we’re all honest, that link is probably more spurious than the one of a transfer rumoured Griezmann, because Djourou has got about as much future at The Arsenal as Palacios has of running for the French Presidency. I have to hold my hands up and admit I didn’t watch the Switzerland vs Ecuador game. It’s a delicate balance I need to blend into my household you see; The Management will tolerate a certain percentage ratio of football to everything else and, after a full season of The Arsenal, I need to balance the interest in more football, with the need to keep her on side when the Premier League kicks in during August. My initial plan to over-expose her to international football so that she become immune to the crowd noises that annoy her more than that actual game, hasn’t quite worked, so I think the sacrifices that can be made for some of the less glamorous matches is worth it. After all, when it gets tasty towards the latter stages of the tournament, I’m going to need to have built up all of the goodwill points I can.

Anyway, back to the football, to which at least Olivier Giroud got himself 15 minutes of game time. I can’t see him getting too much time from the start if the front three of Griezmann, Benzema and Valbuena perform like they did last night, so I think he’ll have to contend with a cameo role at this World Cup. I think the problem Giroud will have will be that he’s not exactly an impact sub. Sometimes it takes him a bit of time to get into the swing of a match and, if you’re only given 15 minutes at the end of a game, it’s hard to effectively make a mark. I could see someone like Remy – a bit more pace against tired legs in the humidity – being a very useful player for the final ten minutes of a game, but less so our Olivier. We shall see though.

One player that looks like he’s on is way is Thomas Vermaelen, who United are supposedly after to replace their…well…empty defence. It’s a weird situation actually, because although I don’t have too many qualms about him moving elsewhere, I think about United’s decision to inflict Silvestre on us and I wonder if we should send them a slightly more battered, bruised and weather-beaten Vermaelen than the one they’d be getting. There’s also a worry that with Monreal also linked with a move to Atletico Madrid, and our clear history with not always effectively replacing, offloading another two players, when we’ve still to replace those that are leaving and areas where we already had deficiencies, doesn’t exactly strike me as being the most intelligent move. If those two were to be moved on, we’d have to replace about eight players if we want to be challenging for the title. Can you really see Arsenal pulling that off in one summer?

That’s pretty much it from me today. I’ve completely avoided jokes about Sagna’s new position on the bench, so I’ll say my goodbyes for the day and hope you have a good’un.

The cruel twists of fate

It is a cruel twist of fate that on a day in which I find myself on annual leave I am awoken by the need to address the movements in my bowels at 6am in the morning. Perhaps it is indicative of the last 24 hours that it is like that because, let’s face it, as Arsenal fans we seem to have been run through the emotional mill a bit. Still, after then watching another cruel twist of fate befall the Croatian’s with arguably the most farcical penalty decision you’ll see at the competition before it has even got going, at least I’m thankful I’m not a Croatian Arsenal fan. Sorry to any of you guys if you’re reading this. I feel for you. I really do.

So here I am at 6.30am on a Friday morning penning some thoughts on the day that was yesterday and there’s no way around it folks, we’ve got to talk about the Fabregas stuff. I know, I know, I don’t want to type it as much as you don’t really want to read it, but Fabregas is now officially a Chelski player and has stepped over the line from being a former player that I had affections for, to a player that now carries no real meaning to me. Actually, that can’t be true, because when I saw the news (originally via a picture text message by my brother) on Sky Sports yesterday afternoon my stomach sank and the realisation that he’d be lining up against us next year for the most reprehensible club in the known world set in.

But can we really lay the blame at Fabregas’ door? Is there any blame to be lain anywhere? Many of us have said that we need to look at other positions in our team, other deficiencies that need addressing first, before we can start to look at getting luxury players like Fabregas in. And even in his statement Cesc admitted that Arsenal had a clause and it was not taken. As Arsenal fans we all love to read a little too deeply into the most simplistic of comments, but I read his statement on Facebook yesterday and saw a hint of regret that he couldn’t return to Arsenal. Why? Mesut Ozil I suspect. He is the Arsenal Poster Boy now and the team is being built around him. He’s two year’s younger than Fabregas and I remain convinced he can emulate and potentially surpass the Spaniard’s tenure at the club in terms of what he offers Arsenal. Fabregas was a good player, not a legend, but did a decent job in the most part for us.

I don’t know if it’s the same for you, but the stomach churning feeling I got was almost entirely through an irrational and romantic notion that footballers still had elements of loyalty about them. Very few, we all know that, but I did still believe there might be one or two out there. I’m not suggesting Cesc should have refused to budge and stay at Barcelona, because that wouldn’t have been productive for anyone, but I am a human being and prone to severe bouts of irrationality and this saga has stirred said irrationality once again. I didn’t really think we needed Fabregas and, in truth, I didn’t really want him if it meant that our attentions weren’t directed at other areas of the pitch. I just didn’t want him to be playing for any other English team. I wanted the memories of the player to not be tainted by the fact that he’ll have to line up alongside the Terry’s, Ramirez’s and Mikel’s of this world next season. Like I said, that irrational human trait and slightly spoiled little boy inside me (sit down, Robin) didn’t want any of the kids of have the toy if I couldn’t have it. But those cruel twists of fates began whirring and a player who was once part of our affections turns up at one of only two clubs that I just could not stomach him playing for.

The day was not to end on the Fabregas note, as Sagna also made his farewell gesture through the medium of Instagram and, whilst we all knew it was happening, it still didn’t make it any easier. He’s been a wonderful servant, he goes with our blessing (until he announces he’s signed for Moneychester City next week), we look for a replacement right back and get on with our lives. But even so it still felt like being given another haymaker whilst you’re already emotionally stumbling towards the canvass.

Naturally, Twitter and other social media sites went into meltdown and some of the comments were both unwarranted and ludicrous in the extreme, but most of the sensible people I follow took the two announcements with the degree of pragmatism you’d expect from normal Arsenal fans. What seemed to be the general consensus though, which I was talking with Ben and Steve about on Whatsapp last night, was that Arsene might have just added more pressure to deliver the transfer goods this summer. Perhaps even more than last summer. I’m not sure the rage could be caged until 31st August and a last-minute mega signing salvage the mood for the summer if we replicated the mistakes of June and July 2013. And that’s what is also contributing to  some Arsenal fans being even more worked in to a frenzy I think. There is genuine concern that the club will repeat its mistakes, not strengthen with the required quality that is needed for a title assault and we will find ourselves once again ‘muddling through’ in a scrap for fourth place. Arsene’s assertion that no big deals are done before the World Cup is slowly being eradicated and with Chelski already strengthening in two of the positions they needed to this summer, there is a very real fear that we will bottle it again.

I hope we don’t. I hope that the club really does pull out the ‘mega signing’ that is being whispered amongst some people. The fates may have been cruel yesterday, but at least they were cruel at the beginning of the summer, so we have plenty of time for the club to pull some rabbits out of the hat and retain the feel good factor that came with winning the FA Cup in May. Remember that?

Catch you tomorrow.

The ‘punch you in the face’ days

Eurgh, today can just go back to the shadows, as far as I’m concerned. A late night (family birthday party) and an early start as usual for me today have conspired to deliver me the kind of ‘punch in the face’ feeling that you get when you haven’t had your minimum quota of hours sleep as a Suburban Gooner. This results in a grump Chris.

What doesn’t help is that it’s drizzly, half-hearted rain that greets me on this Wednesday morning, which feels like Mother Nature has decided to have a bit of a lie in and can’t really be arsed to deliver her full wrath on the land.

Oh, did I mention there’s also bugger all going on too, in relation to The Arsenal today? Obviously there are other things happening in the world, like me being forced to earn my magic beans by working in The City today, but don’t cry for me internet. Don’t cry for me.

The club did indeed announce Big Per as the runner up in the player of the season competition and, as surely is the case today, Aaron Ramsey will pick up another winning gong today when the inevitable is announced. Almost as inevitable as a presidential race in Syria, but not quite, methinks.

As I’ve already said previously, it’s a deserved reward for a player who has shown that against all adversity, the heights of success can be scaled. I kind of have a hope that Carl Jenkinson has the same progression now actually. I see similarities in the two players, actually, albeit that Aaron was in the first team at a much younger age. There was promise, a decent enough start to the career, then a major setback in terms of injury, followed by an extended period of recovery which had many questioning whether he would ever really ‘make it’ and now finally he’s blossomed into an absolute star. Barring the injury, Jenkinson’s Arsenal career feels like he’s trodden a similar path: The initial promise, some (shorter term) injuries, not getting too many games and stuttering a bit, to which we now find him with an opportunity to stake a genuine claim for the first team with the departure of Sagna.

That’s why I’ve already said how important I think this pre season will be for him. Get a good one under the belt, and he could find himself first choice for the start of the season, regardless of who comes in.

Eurgh, I know it’s wrong, but I’m sooo going to get me some Sugar Free Red Bull when I get off this tube. And another thing, why the friggerdy frigate are there a bazillion peoples on my train today. CAN’T THEY SEE I’M IN A GRUMPY MOOD? WHY COULDN’T THEY HAVE WAITED FIVE MINUTES AND GOT ANOTHER TRAIN!!!

Ahem, apologies for that, must learn to cage the rage when penning thoughts. I could always delete that last para, but I’m in a ‘canny be bothered’ mood, which means re-reading any of the mindless rubbish I jot down is not on top of my agenda right now.

So, what else can we have a talk about? How about a whacky shout for a signing? Brede Hangeland. 32 years old, decent enough centre half, free transfer after Fulham terminated his wages, and would certainly know his place as a rotational squad player. His position in the squad would be useful and it doesn’t add any Billy ‘Big Balls’ mentality that might come with having to shell out £10million on getting a decent number three centre back. Everyone wins in my opinion. Especially Arsene, as he can keep his cash in his pocket in one troubled position and use it to invest more in other areas. Heck, if he goes out and buys Remy for £8million, he’s got a big old bit of crust for a Bender, Aurier and maybe a ‘heart-over-head’ move for Fabregas too. Simples.

Look what this summer has done to me. I’m talking all things transfers and sounding enthusiastic about it. What I need is for the club to announce a new sponsorship deal. That’ll really give me something to sink my teeth in to.

Anyway, that’ll do for today’s rambliness I think, unless you fancy me carrying on about the morons that are flicking their copies of Metro in front of me without reading them properly? No? Thought not.

Ciao for now.

Stay away from TransFore

The warm fuzzy feeling of an FA Cup trophy appears to already be subsiding amongst some of the online Arsenal fraternity, replaced by the relentless salivating beast that is an open transfer window. I call him TransFore and his wrath will be prolonged and agonisingly dull.

The feel good factor from picking up our first silverware in a while was like a short of transfer morphine to the arm, but that injection is now starting to wear off and I can see some people changing already. Stay strong, brothers and sisters, for this is a long road and we have not even encountered the first hurdle yet.

The Cesc noise kicked up a gear with about seven articles through the day – I’ll not be linking to any of them – that suggested he had already made his decision, bought houses in the area and enquirer to the local primary school about his kid, so far along the line the transfer is. If we’ve learned anything from this internet age, it’s that most people on the internet are speculators, with little (or more likely no) knowledge of the inner workings at any club. If they did, they wouldn’t choose Twitter as their vehicle for communicating to the world.

Then came stories of ‘deals agreed’ with Loic Remy. I actually think Remy would be a decent addition to the team. Not quite the ‘MEGA SIGNING’ that we would have hoped for, but as this summer unfolds I do wonder if the clamour for a mega signing will subside and be replaced with a dose of realism that, if we are to get the four or five players we need to compete in the league, then the £100million we’ve supposedly got will need to stretch a little further.

The most ‘Twittery’ of stories yesterday began in the early evening and centred around an Arsenal fan getting a snap and a video with Ivory Coast right back Serge Aurier. He apparently told this kid that he’ll be signing for Arsenal.

I’ve listened to the video and the evidence seems a little inconclusive if I’m honest. Also, if I’m really honest, I’d question why a footballer like Aurier – contracted to a club – would use the vehicle of a random fan at a friendly as his spokesperson to announce that a deal will be done. What makes me laugh is how all of a sudden there are a few ITKs claiming different stories, like ‘deal done, but will be announced after the world cup’, as if most of the Arsenal world don’t already know they are bandwagon jumping and trying to add a couple of their own frills to a story to somehow legitimise what they are saying…turn it in a bit, it’s boring now…

I don’t know anything about Aurier. I don’t know if we’re anywhere near signing him. I’m deliberately not going to YouTube scout a player with whom to date we have had links with mainly from his side, what with him being an Arsenal fan ‘n all, so I’m not going to give you any insight. What I will say, however, is that the unhealthy obsession (yes, I too get bogged down in it too, so please don’t mistake this for a ‘holier than thou’ speech, it ain’t guv’nor honest) with reading just a little bit to much into everything we see on the interweb.

Example A
“Just seen Gary Cahill in a hotel and asked him if he was going to sign for Arsenal. He said ‘don’t know, maybe’ and then smiled! Here’s a picture of me to prove it”

This does not prove that we are on the verge of signing a player and as that example shows, when Cahill disappeared to Chelski, does nothing but raise hopes of story-hungry teenage Gooners, working them into a frenzy akin to the disease in 28 Days Later

Example B
Dimitar Berbatov ‘liking’ a picture or comment of him in an Arsenal shirt.

This only proves that Berbatov knows how to use social media. It does not mean a deal is ‘close’, ‘breaking’ or even ‘a must have exclusive coming up at 7.30 that all Arsenal fans will want to read’.

Both previous examples from previous transfer windows that teach us only that using a fellow fans ten second picture/video conversation with a footballer should be treated about as credibly (in terms of confirmation of a story I mean, I have nothing against that person, I might add) as a Lance Armstrong declaration of innocence.

Anyway, at least the World Cup is only just around the corner, which should sufficiently pre-occupy us all for a few weeks. Heck, even the friendlies seem to be vaguely interesting at the moment, although I have to confess having not watched many just yet. So maybe you could tell me how our players got on over the weekend?

Cheerio chaps and chappettes. See you tomorrow.

In defence of the attack; attacking the defence

I thought I’d hand over the reins of today’s post to a family friend who gave me my first taste of Arsenal in the flesh when he took me to Highbury in the 90s. Roy has seen a fair few Arsenal incarnations and is never short of an opinion, so I thought I’d give him the opportunity to have my soapbox for a day.

You can follow him on Twitter at RoyThomas16

Now you kids play nice.

Over the last few years I have read and listened too many of the ramblings of the SG team and generally enjoy them although I do not always agree.

Well not only is SG Chris a blogger, he is my Godson and as he mentions often, I got him into supporting the Gunners many years ago.

This week, as part of his season review, he asked the question “did the forwards cost us the title?” or words to that effect! My opinion and answer is definitely not!

I will I think we are very weak in those attacking positions – especially when poor Theo got crocked – and when the trio of Ramsey, Ozil and Theo were flying we certainly had more about us. Yes, I know they are not all forwards, but they more than made up for our lack of attackers as we had very few to call on this season. Let’s not digress too far into the misgivings of last summer now though…

Giroud may not be the best centre forward in the world, but I believe he tried his best, accumulated a good tally, but in some games looked totally knackered. One of his strike partners – Lukas Podolski – was very in and out but his strike record for games he featured in must have been right up there. The trouble with Podolski however, as you’ve probably all noticed, is that he goes missing for long periods. Yes, I agree it only takes one or two pieces of magic to win a game, but so much happens in a modern day football match and these professionals are expected to do more than just have end product. After that the options for support were limited: who would you choose from Bendtner or Sanogo (not really having a go at the young Frenchman, but really our back up no, one for the future maybe but time will tell).

So, with those quick opinions on strikers out of the way, how did we lose the league from my perspective?

Defensively. I believe this defence are poor and I am sure some of you are going to throw STATS around to discourage my opinion. I’m getting long enough in the tooth to know that they mean nothing other than the one that reads ‘Win’ or ‘Champions’.

In a game seeing we have had 65% position and 15 shots on goal and lost 1-0, or having one of the best defensive records by goals against in a season, give me no comfort whatsoever if we lose. Making comments like that are similar to the one that got away for a fisherman, or the golfer arguing that the ball took a bobble going to the hole on a short putt.

This year was no different from the shabby defending than last year. This is a defence that can go to sleep during a match at any time; not many of the top clubs do this. Why? They have a few shock results but not like our capitulation at times. Remember; just eight points stopped us from the title. Broken down those points that cost us through silly mistakes:

17 Aug, Villa: Two stupid penalties and one weak goal

October, WBA: 1-1 with a West Brom player totally unmarked on their goal

November, Man Utd: Although RVP done us over, he ran totally unmarked past three players to score a header, no players even tried to stop him. They were all ball watching.

December, Everton: 1-1, an83rd minute equaliser with Delofeu totally unmarked – another opposition player free to roam again

December, Man City: Enough has been said already. Maybe we were a little unlucky in the end but 6 goals is not a fluke.

January, Southampton: Poor marking on both goals, but second more than schoolboy error SG Chris would have done better (Ed: I’ll have you know I was a half decent ball-playing centre half!)

February, Liverpool: Again, enough said, all defenders asleep and game over after fifteen minutes

March, Stoke: Joke defending for the Penalty (I think he was waiving at his family)

March, Chelsea: again more than enough said about that in the aftermath

March, Swansea: 2-2 and two weak goals bad, with defending after we had got ourselves 2 -1 up in 89th minute, yet we were opened up like knife through butter yet again.

April, Everton: almost Hackney Marsh defending.

This is without some of the cup shockers in all three cups, although we are the FA cup champs so I guess I should give some kudos to the team there. Made us all happy without question (although defensively we were still shocking – 2 -0 down, but dug in, again, defending caused the fright)

Remember, just seven points stopped us, eight to win and of course other teams may say the same but I only care about us.

So think about WBA, Stoke, Southampton, Everton x 2 , Swansea and forget the drubbings this was 14 points dropped from poor defending and it cannot happen at this level, then there are the nine points from three massive losses.

Perhaps this is too simplistic.

Just some observations and horror viewing. If you watch them again perhaps a couple may have been unavoidable but only a couple. Most of the trouble has come from the right hand side looking at our goal when the opposition are attacking.

Let’s hope we get some strength to our defence for next season and one hard stopping midfielder like we used to have in abundance.

Thanks for reading. I am a passionate Arsenal fan and I only want to see the team succeed, but questions need to be asked defensively and with Arsene about to announce his new deal, I hope he has the answers.

Thanks for your thoughts Roy. Not sure I agree with all of them, as every team has off days and sometimes these can be countered by having strength all over the park. Just look at how Liverpool managed to outscore their opponents when defensively they looked shambolic at times. There does need to be some work done to remove the errors in the big games though I’ll grant you that.

Catch you all tomorrow.