The striker issue isn’t black and white

Howdy there you, hope you’re doing hunky doory, if that’s even how you spell that??

Yesterday I had a bit of a ‘life is different to back then’ moment, so I thought I’d bring myself back in to the here and now and reflect on Arsene’s presser yesterday and the Champions League draw, which will once again see us pit our wits against Borussia Dortmund, whilst also taking on Galatasaray and Anderlecht. It’s no surprise that Chelski got a buy into the group stages, but in all fairness we can be pretty happy with our lot given that, the Germans aside, it’s a group that we should be looking to qualify from. It would be nice if we could go through as group winners for a change, so one would expect that the head-to-head against BVB will be a decider on who tops the group. The first game will be at Dortmund in a couple of weeks time, so it’s up to the team to try to replicate the 1-0 victory in Dortmund last season to get us off to a flying start.

In the meantime, there is a game this weekend against Leicester and then the small matter of a home game against the reigning champions, so there’s plenty of time for us to get into our rhythm before the Champions League starts. Not. It’s fair to say that we haven’t exactly hit the ground running as yet, but with the injuries having a part to play in the stuttering beginning to the season (unusual for us as we have tended to always start strongly and fade away towards the end of campaigns), we need to start clicking into gear and doing so quickly. That comes with matches, with new players being able to bed in and with established players finding their form, so this weekend’s game against newly promoted opposition represents a chance to lay down a marker. More on suspected team line ups tomorrow, but Arsene did confirm that both Arteta and Gibbs will continue to be missing until after the International break, which will mean Monreal and the Flamster continue to deputise.

We all know about Giroud and his long-term absence, so it was not really a surprise when Arsene was once again quizzed about finding a replacement up top. He, as would be expected, extolled the virtues of the talent he already has available in Sanchez, Walcott, Podolski, Campbell and Sanogo. Later on, I think in an interview which wasn’t part of the afternoon presser, he stated that there were too many strikers and he would only look to bring another one in if one went out. Whilst there will be those that will wonder whether that means a potential loan move for the raw Sanogo, or a permanent move for the clearly unflavoured Podolski, I suspect that the comment was designed to explain to the masses that Arsene really isn’t looking for another forward at all. Further evidence to this school of thinking can be found in the words of the BBC’s David Ornstein, who has always been seen as somewhat of an unofficial mouthpiece for the club, as he confirmed that Arsenal are after a centre-half or defensive midfielder.

Whilst my initial reaction to Arsene’s assertion that he has enough strikers and that only ‘top,top top quality’ would do (although I must question this definition given that Gervinho managed two seasons at the club) was to be slightly aggrieved, upon some reflection about the possible options out there, I could kind of understand where Arsene is coming from. Giroud’s injury is certainly a big blow and we will no doubt feel his absence, but his absence is something that we all feel needs to be replaced with somebody for the here and now, and therein lies our problem. There are plenty of names being kicked around amongst arsenal fans, but the reality is that any player coming from any league other than an English one, will need time to bed in, which is time we simply don’t have. Just look at Sanchez; he is still finding his feet, still needing to hone his radar so that he latches on to Ozil passes, etc. Any new player brought in from another league is going to go through the exact same process. So we are effectively back to square one because we don’t address the here and now in terms of finding a goalscorer instantly.

“But what about finding one from the Premier League?” I can almost hear you say, but again, I’m not sure what other options are out there that will be suitable for our style of play and the way Arsene is setting up his team. Remy and Bony are names that come to mind, but both are different to Giroud as strikers, so if at the moment we are looking at finding somebody to fit our existing style, then they won’t work. The truth of the matter is that there aren’t really many Giroud-style replacements out there – certainly not in the Premier League – that you and I would see as worthy upgrades. So it does leave the manager in a bit of a quandary as to what to do. Unless his plan is to change the attacking philosophy, to which I think Tim Stillman put the most eloquently in his blog on Thursday this week over at Arseblog Towers. If the plan to adapt the style is therefore needing to be accelerated, I would have to wonder if, actually, Arsene is right, and we do have enough players up top when Walcott arrives. The only caveat I’d place on this however, is that Walcott is an injury prone forward and if he breaks down again, we’re back to square one, with a lack of pace up top and a reliance on Sanchez to bed in a lot quicker in his debut season.

I don’t really ever pertain to have any answers, I’m just an observer, but what I do know is that we need to start hitting top form soon if we want to win that all-elusive Premier League trophy. I know that in some sense Arsene is right – it’s not always clear cut – not always black and white when it comes to football systems and finding players from other clubs that can fit neatly into the right gaps that Arsenal have in their team. There is a balance to be found and players to fit systems, but just because a player like Remy, for example, looks good in a Newcastle or QPR shirt, doesn’t always mean he’ll automatically fit in at Arsenal and bag 15 goals in the first half of the season.

That’s all from me on that today I’m afraid. Things to do and all of this pondering is giving me a headache. Cheerio folks. until tomorrow.

Lamenting the (possible) exit of the Prince

Sunderland may have helped to amuse me a little yesterday afternoon by picking up a point against a United side that we all hope can continue to be a bit short of ideas for the season, but by the time I laid my head on my pillow in the evening as Sunday drew to a close, I only had thoughts of potential disappointment.

Yep, it appears that there clearly is no smoke without fire and Lukas ‘Prince’ Podolski could be on his way out of Arsenal, with Juventus the apparent destination for our popular German. I’m sure you, like I, will be disappointed if this move actually comes off.

I think most of us suspected that Poldi might be offski this summer, but as the days ticked away and no rumours surfaced, I’d hoped that he’d have at least another year at the club. But it seems the absence from the entire squad on Saturday was another indicator that Arsene feels he’s not quite the right fit for the team any more.

It will be a big shame, because I like what Podolski brings to the club. Goals. In abundance. I’ve always said that we know exactly what we get with him and not a lot more. He is a natural-born finisher and if he gets 20 games in a season you can pretty much guarantee that he’ll get at least 10 goals. Goals win football matches. They are the hardest part of the game to master and when you have a player that is all about that in your team I think you simply must find a place for him. Think about Arshavin who, let’s face it, was all about mazy dribbling and finishing, but nowhere near on the level of Podolski in terms of end product. He seemed to stick around Arsenal rotting in the reserves for about a year longer than he should have done, so I suppose Arsene is looking at that situation and thinking that he doesn’t want to have a high-profile, high-earner, player who doesn’t contribute.

But that’s my issue: he CAN contribute and we all know it. Coming from the bench he could be quite a potent weapon I feel, so why isn’t Arsene considering him?

Perhaps it’s because of his technique and style. We all know that Arsene likes all of his players to be very highly gifted technically; it suits our style and quick interchanging of short passing. Podolski has never really been that great in that respect, so perhaps his Arsenal career was always going to be short-lived. He has also been known to be described as lazy because he doesn’t always track back. But my issue with that is that you have that from players like Mesut Ozil, so surely that can’t be another contributing factoring to his eventual Arsenal exit, can it?

I saw a Tweet yesterday from Arse2Mouse stating that the potential move to Italy was an interesting one because it meant that Arsene essentially needs at least 15 goals from Alexis this season to break par. I understand the sentiment and agree to an extent, but know that it doesn’t always work like that, as goals can be shared around a team to fill a void (a la The Dutch Bloke and the goals shared between Walcott, Giroud, Podli and Cazorla in the immediate aftermath season of the League after he left). It does seem strange that Arsene would put that pressure on the newer players in the team – Campbell and Alexis specifically – and expect them to immediately make an impact. Perhaps with the additional game time they will get as a result of one less player in their way it means that Campbell will step up, but he hasn’t exactly been a scorer of vast quantities of goals to this point, so I’d be surprised if he suddenly started banging them in. We know Alexis can score plenty of goals, but he needs time to bed in, so are we to rely on Ramsey and Giroud for the first part of the season whilst the squad knits itself together?

I’m just a bit worried is all. We haven’t exactly set the world alight yet – which is fine because it’s still quite early in the season – and we’re offloading players up top that have the experience and ability to bang in goals for the team. There might be some that say this could be a positive move because it means that another striker could be bought in, but as someone else said on my Timeline yesterday, this move is more fat-trimming than clearing the decks for another arrival. We’ve spent all summer being pleased that we’ve upgraded the squad with the additions, but we all also recognised that these have all been like-for-like replacement upgrades. That’s fine, but when we hit March this year, we were running out of bodies through injury, which given our injury record ever since The Invincibles, I have absolutely no hope (new fitness coach aside or not) that we won’t once again have a large number of absent players come the new year. That’s when a player like Podolski could be gold dust.

Here’s something to leave you with: last season we couldn’t find another forward player, so we kept Niklas Bendtner hanging around the training ground for a whole season taking up space. AND he even got some minutes on the pitch despite the fact the club, the player, the manager and the fans didn’t want that to happen. Why is it that was left to happen, but we can’t find a place for our natural-born finisher? Bit baffling.

Anyway, enough moroseness for one day, you have a good Montag.

Cheerio.

Everton away: Media narratives; points battled for

Yesterday was a day of recovery from a heavy Friday night which completely punished my body. I’m not as efficient with the amber nectar as I used to be it seems. As a result, doing anything that didn’t involve sleeping and water wasn’t on my agenda, even blogging suffered. I also had to prepare myself physically for entertaining The Management’s family with a full Sunday roast style dinner. The net effect was that I didn’t even manage to watch the game yesterday in real-time, having to settle for watching the game in full after the family had departed late last night.

Why am I telling you this? Well, mainly to explain that I find it very interesting how the end result affects the general narrative of a match, as well as the response from the media and fans. I am not somebody who can wait for something. When I was eight I knew my parents had a Lego pirate ship in their bedroom wardrobe fully six weeks before it was my birthday. It was annoying having to wait for it, but the very fact I was getting exactly what I wanted meant that I was contented.

I started off yesterday evening in full belief that I could avoid all contact with the outside world and watch the game as if it was in real-time. But the Lego pirate ship peaking boy inside me came to the fore and I switched on the radio at intermittent periods yesterday as I was cooking the dinner. What I heard from the commentators was an Arsenal team that were completely out of sorts, that didn’t deserve to pick up a point and yet by the end had smash and grabbed their way to a draw against a good Everton team. So it was with some reluctance that I watched the game yesterday late afterwards, knowing the result, which certainly took some of the worry out of watching Arsenal, but also gave me a different perspective.

For example: Everton. Described as composed on the ball, deadly going forward and thoroughly deserving of their 2-0 lead by half time. I’m not quite sure I saw it that way come the first half. Ozil switched off at the back post for the first goal, whilst for the second, there was most certainly a foul on Mertesacker and then an incorrect decision given by the lino (I am still not comfortable with calling them referees assistant) not to call Naismith offside before he slid the ball under Szczesny. The decisions were so obvious that even Jamie Redknapp had to admit them at halftime and full-time. By the time full-time analysis appeared on my TV screen, it showed that in the entire match, Everton had mustered just two shots on target which was both of their goals. Yet the media love a David vs Goliath killing and they love a sequel, so perpetuating the idea that we were watching a repeat of last season’s drubbing was easy for them.

I don’t think we played well at all yesterday. The passing was off, there were too many players that played at a six out of 10 pace, we were trying to be too intricate in the final third. The triangle passing football we play which gifts us such viewing pleasures as the Norwich/Wilshere goal last season looks amazing when it comes off, but it felt like there as a lot of that which just wasn’t finding it’s man yesterday. But then again, that might have had something to do with the fact that Everton scored their goal and sat 11 men in front of Arsenal and defended in numbers. Sit deep, tight and in numbers and you can frustrate this Arsenal team. So it proved.

The second half provided us with a bit more by way of opportunities, with Olivier Giroud the chief protagonist in a number of good opportunities going begging. He got us the winning goal and for that we should all be grateful, but his limitations will once again provide us with frustration this season I fear. That’s why I’m interested to see how we line up with both Theo and Alexis fully fit. An Alexis that does not, strangely, only last until half time. In the first half he ran his guts out and pressed high from the pitch. He did look slightly off-key (only slightly though), but again it’s interesting how the limitations of some commentators become more obvious when you re-watch the action. Alvin Martin, for example, was giving Mesut Ozil a savaging and saying that Alexis was by a million miles the better of all of the Arsenal players in the first half. Firstly, I think Ozil was quiet, but he did not stand out as the worst performer in my opinion. Secondly, I suspect that the reason he saw him as a stand out performer was not because of his play in thee final third with the ball, but because he was perpetually in motion throughout the half. That is his game and part of it, but for Alvin Martin, from an era when a player running around a lot was the sign of a good player, that’s what his barometer of success is.

But what about Ramsey, eh? What a player he’s going to be this season. Providing he isn’t Shawcrossed by anyone, this kid is going to bang 20 goals for us this season. He’s got that instinct to find the right places inside the box and you can see why he’s being compared to Fat Frank, who would always be that player arriving on to balls into the box, as well as be known for his engine in the Chelski team once he’d dropped the timber from his midriff that he carried in his early years. It’s why his departure from the team through suspension on Wednesday will be a massive miss. When that type of ball is slid in by a Cazorla or a Ozil on Wednesday, will there be anyone on the end of the ball to get there? I hope so. I really do. But I’m not so sure.

So let’s look at hindsight. Let’s ignore all of what went on yesterday and look solely at the point we gained at Goodison. Was it a good one? I think so. It was a point that was hard fought and the late nature of the comeback might even give the players more belief that they can turn anything around. Remember how United were always the ‘sign of champions’ with their late goals? There won’t be many teams that don’t rock up there and beat Everton off the park. That fixture is out-of-the-way and it also means that we have already arrested (if only a little) the worrying trend from last season of losing away from home to every team in the top seven (except the Spuds). We may still go on to lose the rest of the games away from home, but the important thing to keep hold of now is that we have already amassed more away points from that top five than we did last season. At this early stage of the season the importance is picking up points. The fluidity can come in September. We have an important game against Beisktas on Wednesday now, followed by a another away trip to Leicester on Sunday, where another break occurs before a chance to properly get our form going by beating Moneychester City at home.

Catch you tomorrow.

Embracing every advantage

Happy Friday you sexy Gooners!

Well, where to start today, eh? How about last nights breaking news that the most irritating tracksuit-wearing, baseball-cap loving, rugby-football adopting manager has thrown a diva-strop and walked out of Crystal Palace?

If I’m completely honest here, the only reason I am even penning half a thought towards that irksome individual, is due to the close proximity of a certain opening game of the season in which The Eagles visit our home turf on Saturday. Otherwise, it’s fair to say his name wouldn’t even be a footnote in today’s blog, especially as I have no idea how to create footnotes in WordPress.

Quite what his departure – oddly not actually official yet but effectively true what with every media outlet reporting it as such – will do to the Crystal Palace team I’m not sure. It’s quite easy to make an assumption that Palace will throw down their weapons tomorrow evening, but football is never an easy linear equation, so I’m still not expecting anything but a difficult game in which the opponents are extremely tough to break down.

Perhaps their Chairman Steve Parish is secretly an Arsenal fan, because I seem to remember a similar scenario with Ian Holloway just before we visited Selhurst Park last season, so maybe Parish is looking to hand any psychological advantage to The Arsenal that he can?

If I sound a little but too gleeful at the prospect of Palace potentially being rudderless, then I apologise, but in many ways I’m a petty, petty man, and any advantage that the team I support can gain is a-ok with me. It’s why I secretly fist-pump when a player gets sent off when we are playing that team a week of two weeks behind. And although you never wish injury on any person playing the game (well, maybe), there are times where an injury to a rivals key player has been greeted with a comment of “that’s a bit of a touch” from yours truly.

I am somebody who will embrace an advantage for Arsenal like a comforting hug from a parent after you’ve opened up your knees because you we’re slide tackling on gravel that time.

We should have enough to beat Palace without the circus that is now engulfing their club, but this little bonus for us is always handy, so I’ll take it.

What we all really need now is for Arsène to give us an update this morning which includes the words ‘Koscienly’ and ‘fit’ or ‘available for selection’, because he’s the one doubt from last weekend that we really could do with having back. With Chambers performing admirably in place of the German party animal Mertesacker, we looked assured enough, but despite the apparent limitations of the opponents tomorrow, we could really do without the worry that our back four will be fullbacktastic in it’s composition.

An almost inevitable section of the press conference will be dedicated to the prospect of transfers, for which we will get the inevitable “we are not close to signing anybody” commentary from Le Boss which will infuriate some, worry others and cause a bit of shoulder-shrugginess from the most of us. The important thing is that we have enough about us this season to be very excited for the nine months ahead and anything else is just added bonus to the good business already secured. I concede we do need another centre half though, so pull you’re finger out Arsène!

There’s some mutterings of Edison Cavani that appear to be doing the rounds, but I see that as nothing but paper talk, because he’s not looking for another striker and I fully expect the door to be closed on that line of questioning should the hacks decide to go down that route.

There really doesn’t seem to be that much more happening at the moment, other than the Ox’s 21st birthday, so I’ll wish him well wherever he is at the time of me writing this, and do the same to you.

Adios amigos.

The player boost of a big name

With the dust still settling from the euphoria of the Sanchez signing on Thursday evening, there’s nothing like a bit of player commentary on the signing to keep the likes of you and I enthralled with what Arsenal have achieved this week, so it was that the Mikel Arteta and Aaron Ramsey comments begin to seed their way through mainstream media for us to gorge ourselves on.

It’s always pleasing to see the players talk so glowingly about signings like Sanchez. It shows how highly they rate players of his ilk and also gives you a very real indication of the boost his arrival will have on the club even before he has even struck a ball in anger. I hope he does strike a ball in anger. Straight at Nasri’s face in the Community Shield in a few weeks time.

This kind of boost is exactly what we all needed as the World Cup draws to a close and the rhetoric coming from Ivan Gazidis about the work ‘not being finished yet’ is all the more pleasing to hear. It shows the club are taking this summer very seriously in terms of delivering a squad that is capable of challenging on multiple fronts and the strong links to Remy, Khedira, Bender and Debuchy (who by all accounts I know is done, but I suspect the club are riding the crest of the Alexis wave, before hitting us with another adrenaline shot of transfer goodness early next week) are most welcome at this early stage of the summer.

Supposedly the oil-whores are sniffing around Khedira with a view to adding yet another midfielder to their burgeoning ranks. Much like the Liverpool/Sanchez rumours that surfaced a couple of weeks ago, I’d trust that if Arsene is after Khedira then the conversations have already taken place and he’ll have a good chance of landing his man. I’m not so sure about Khedira though, if I’m honest, because he is much more in the Ramsey mould than the natural defensive midfielder who can slot in to the full back slots. He’s intelligent enough to do it, but that is in the same way that Arteta is not a naturally defensive midfielder, but has been able to adapt his game over the years. I suppose I shouldn’t be too worried; Arsene took a wide playing Thierry Henry and turned him into the greatest centre forward the club has ever had, so if there is willing from Khedira to become that midfield enforcer that we need, I think it would be a good signing. I’d probably prefer a Lars or Sven Bender though. But that’s mainly because I’ve watched a couple of ITV3 highlight shows of the Bundesliga and seen Lars slot in at right back and look so natural.

Speaking of right backs, I really have no idea why we have this Javier Manquillo link coming our way from Atletico Madrid, unless Arsene has lost faith in Jenkinson and is looking to cash in. IT would be a shame because I still think he has the potential to break through, but as somebody on Twitter mentioned to me yesterday, perhaps he is being considered as a convert into the centre of defence. He certainly has the build for it, but whether or not Le Boss could just wave a magic wand and voila, we have a back up to Per and Kos, I’m not so sure. He’ll need games in that position and that would mean a loan spell is agreed with the player. There’s talk of him going in at Newcastle, but i’d expect him to operate as a replacement to the departing Debuchy, which wouldn’t give him any real experience as a centre half if that is where Arsene sees his future. Again, second guessing what Arsene’s plans are is like turning water into wine, and we haven’t had one of those guys doing it for us for a couple of thousand years.

Tonight we’ll see one of the single most pointless football matches in all history – third/fourth place play off. I could understand it’s existence if, like the Olympics, there was some kind of Gold, Silver and Bronze system in place, but there isn’t. You’re playing for ‘pride’. I’d wager both teams would rather be playing on the beach with their family members whilst on holiday. But, like any football fan, I’ll still tune in tonight and watch and hope that there’s a decent game on display and no diving Robben’s. Again, might need a bit of that water to wine fella in that instance.

That’s all from me today. I’m moving house on Monday so I have a flat to deconstruct. Cheerio.

Brazilians don’t excite; targets seem very ‘Arsene’ like

In some sort of weird reversal of expectancy, it appears as though the two games that were played yesterday afternoon and evening were the opposite of what I expected. I thought with talent on display in the France verus Germany game,it would be by far the most entertaining match to watch, so I was a bit gutted that it was on earlier in the evening when I was travelling back from a day at the office. That’s not to say that the Brazil versus Colombia game didn’t have any superstars on display – evidently there are a few on either side – I just felt that a Franco-German slug-fest would provide more entertainment.

As it was I found yesterday’s evening game quite good, as the Colombians did their level best to upset the odds and turn over the Brazilians, whilst not really creating a string of chances. This Brazilian team doesn’t really capture my imagination at all and, when they scored quite early on through a shoddy bit of defending from a corner, I hoped the Colombians would react a bit better than they did. Particularly James Rodriguez. Mind you, the Brazilians must have done their homework on this referee, because the tactical and rotational fouling for persistent digs at Rodriguez was as blatant and obvious as an Adrian Chiles stupid remark. The Spanish referee did little to quash the Brazilian tactics of slowing the game down, even reserving his yellow card for James Rodriguez when he made his one and only foul of the game (I think), whilst also downgrading what looked like a clear red by Julio Caesar to a yellow for the Colombian penalty.

So it’s a Germany against Brazil semi final and despite the fact the German’s haven’t ripped anyone apart other than Portugal, I hope (and think) they serve a bit of a humbling to the Brazilian team, who will certainly be feeling nervous after Neymar was ruled out of the competition with a back injury. It was a pretty shocking challenge when you look at it for the second time and, given what has happened to the recipient of the foul, you do think it’s rather ludicrous that the Colombian player wasn’t penalised further for his actions.

It’s Belgium vs Argentina tonight, for which I’m hoping Belgium do a number on the Argies, plus Holland versus Costa Rica who I think will probably have gone as far as they probably can. This is beginning to feel like it could be the Argentinians year to me. Messi has finally turned up to a tournament, they have great firepower throughout the squad, plus they could have an easier route to the final by beating Costa Rica and then potentially Holland in the semi’s, of which I feel the Dutch are nowhere near as good as the Argentinians.

Arsenal news is unsurprisingly light on the ground, but there was some chatter online last night that Debuchy had announced to journalists from TF1 that he would be joining Arsenal. That’s all well and good with people suggesting this, but I can’t find any specific reference to any quotes on any website, neither in the British press, nor the actual TF1 website. Although, I must confess that my French isn’t so much rusty, as it is non-existent, so I may have been navigating their website totally wrong. It does seem as though this is a very Arsene Wenger signing and, if the deal is done quickly, it at least means we can all breathe a sigh of relief that the club are actually looking to tie up deals as quickly as possible. With so many media outlets now reporting this deal as ‘done’ (L’Equipe are saying so too), it does seem as if there is no some without fire on this one so I think we should all be pretty pleased that there’s Premier League experience coming straight in to slot in to the team.

There’s nothing really new from any of the other reports going on at the moment. A lot of re-hashing of stories and re-populating of information for the sake of it right now, which you can tell when places like the MIrror start referencing other media outlets as the rumour mill goes into full ‘he-said/she-said’ territory. I like the sound of a Debuchy, Sanchez, Schneiderlin and Remy summer,all of which seeming feasible for Arsene, but bringing in that many players in one summer would be a surprise to me. Particularly Remy if we get Sanchez. Arsene really fancies a bit of Sanogo as understudy to Giroud and I suspect that if a deal for Sanchez were to be done, we’d see him playing wide right or left of the Frenchman. Having the pacey Remy in the squad doesn’t really seem to me to be as worthwhile when you have players like the Ox, Gnabry and eventually Walcott to come back, as we’d be stifling someone’s longer term route in to the first team. Hey, I’m not trying to be all Arsene Wenger in my hypotheses, I’m just trying to work out what the reality of any situation would be. I think it would be that if we get Sanchez and Debuchy, unless there is any other kind of exit like Vermaelen, that could in theory be all there is kids. Whether that represents a good summer or not I’m not so sure. I would probably say ‘only just’, but that’s much like last summer was ‘only just’ salvaged by the Ozil transfer. We’d effectively have only bought in one extra player if just the Frecnhman and the Chilean came in; Sagna for Debuchy is a clear ‘one-in-one-out’ replacement and so doesn’t make us stronger in terms of depth.

I’d like to see our squad all remain (including Vermaelen) in tact this year, with a front man, a ‘keeper, a defensive minded midfielder and potentially a young and up-and-coming centre half ideally, but I suspect that Arsene would be happy with Sanchez, Debuchy and maybe a clear seconded-choice ‘keeper from the Outer Hebrides or some place that few have heard of. We’ll just have to wait and see until he makes his first move. I just hope he does it soon.

Anyway, catch you tomorrow, with some more thoughts.

I don’t wan to be a reverse Paul

I think that whichever team I get behind, they are destined to failure. I fancied seeing Ivory Coast through earlier in the week, yet they were undone by a dubious penalty in the last minute, so the very fact I publicly stated a preference for the Russians must surely have been the contributing factor to their downfall. Their draw with Algeria saw the North African’s go through and, having been stuck in the nineties belief that Algeria were a whipping boy (thanks to various incarnations of the Mega Drive’s FIFA International Soccer) to be dispatched with consummate ease, my whole international values system has been thrown into chaos. I don’t think we’ll see a Costa Rica vs Algeria cup final (assuming they wouldn’t meet before hand – permutations have never really been my strong point), but it has added to the spice of this competition, and we have seen a fabulous competition so far so I have to be grateful. Now, if my adopted nation of Germany could just win the darn thing, that would be grand. But after backing a few stumbling horses so far, I’m beginning to get worried for their chances. I feel like I’m like some sort of ghost of Paul the Octopus, except I was born before him, so perhaps I’ve just had part of his spirit transferred to me.

Dear World Cup, don’t make a me a reverse Paul. Say that I haven’t had part of Paul’s spirit transferred across from Germany.

Urgh, transfers, even I can’t get away from them when I try and fashion irrelevant stories about marine creatures. Unfortunately for Arsené, it seems as though the wheels are turning at most clubs, with United effectively spunking £60million on Herrera from Bilbao and Shaw from Southampton (although that’s not been confirmed as I write) to bolster their ranks, to add to the fact City and Chelski have both now been active in the market. I say ‘unfortunately’ for Arsené because, let’s face it, his assertion that no business is done until after the World Cup has been revealed to be the fallacy we all suspected.

Still, we aren’t even in July yet, so there is plenty of time for the club to ‘wow’ us with some kind of mega signing. The only problem we have is the form the club have shown from last summers shambles. I’ve said it before a few times and I’ll keep saying it: the real worry from Arsenal fans that I speak to in the real world is that we are repeating the mistakes of last summer and previous summers. We don’t really want a transfer Groundhog Day, but until the club make that first announcement, that feeling just won’t go away.

It probably didn’t help from a PR perspective, that Arsené was snapped on a beach playing beach football, on the day that United made signings and Seamus Coleman signed a new deal at Everton. I know signings can be made without the manager present – heck, as somebody pointed out last night Van Gaal is in Brazil actually managing a team – but it doesn’t help to cage the rage of those detractors that enjoy sticking the knife in and adding to their published works of ‘Wenger Out’ reasons as to why there needs to be a step-change at Arsenal. In many ways he’s on a hiding-to-nothing until the club start showing some movement; but even then in some peoples eyes it should be the ‘right’ type of signing.

Lord knows what that means to some people. For me personally, the ‘right’ type of signing is somebody that will instantly strengthen our team and give us more depth in places like the front three or at right back. Names are an irrelevance to me. Sure, a big name will make you feel better now in the summer when they are announced, but when the games start and these players take to the field the price tag won’t make them any better footballers. Their adaptation to our style of play, the new attributes they bring to the team, plus their motivation to succeed, that is what will make them better footballers.

It’s a day away from football today and, after over two weeks of consistent gameage, I have to say it feels a little flat if I’m honest, such has the success of this World Cup been. Hey, this competition has even weakened a ‘rival’ as a result of Suarez’s antics, with the Uruguayan due to miss at least until October before he’s eligible to play for them. Perhaps Liverpool will be looking at offloading their star talent, but i don’t believe the stories about his value being reduced, because even missing the first part of last season didn’t see him not finish as the leagues top scorer. Barcelona and Madrid know that and they will park the transgressions of Sir Chomps-a-Lot in favour of getting him In this summer I reckon. If they include Sanchez as part of the deal then that would soften the blow, but with Arsenal sniffing quite vociferously around the Chilean, I would imagine the Catalan’s would fancy a bidding war rather than a swap deal plus cash. So there’s still a chance that we could be in the driving seat there.

I think that’s pretty much me done for the day. Bye-si-bye!