Sweet Dreams Are made of This.

June 29, 2009

The idea that United pulled out of the Tevez deal for any reason other than money is absolute nonsense. Tevez has stated on numerous occasions that he simply wants a five year contract and is well aware that at his age this is the last chance he has to secure one. The purpose, quite honourable in my opinion, is to achieve financial security for himself and his family for the rest of their lives. With this in mind I see no reason why a man from Buenos Aires should have any more loyalty to United rather than City so common sense dictates that he will want to sell his labour to the highest bidder, now here is where it gets interesting.

My observation is that United have had to pull out early from the deal to save face — the worm has turned, they can no longer compete financially with City; so, rather than get into a bidding war, which City would love because they know they would win, and by doing so would be gifted the golden opportunity to show the world that United are City’s financial inferiors — something United are going to try and conceal for as long as they can.

How does this affect Arsenal? ……………….Benzema!

In normal circumstances if Arsenal and United showed an interest in the same player we would have to make an early exit to avoid a bidding war and with it the embarrassment of losing in the same way that United just did over Tevez.

But Benzema is different — he is French and that gives us the advantage. Arsenal, rather than Manchester, is far more his natural home and he is far more likely to be drawn to want play with his French speaking mates rather than the neanderthal grunts of Rooney. United can play the, look how we developed Ronaldo card all they want and we trump it every time with the mention of a certain Thierry Henry.

And so we come to the important bit — money; we should not forget that our club has recently changed ownership. This is the first transfer window when Kroenke and Gazidis have been in charge and my guess is that they are going to want to show off a bit sooner rather than later.

Benzema is a 30 million pound player and at 21 that is a bargain when you think what he could be worth in five years time — a thought I doubt will be lost on our new ownership team. So, with the sale of Adebayor and a nod from Benzema indicating that he would be interested in playing for the good guys, France’s most exciting attacking talent could be ours.

Today I am definitely looking through the wishful thinking window.

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Tell me Lies…..Tell me Sweet Little Lies….

June 27, 2009

The phrase “Lies, damn lies and statistics” was originally coined by Benjamin Disraeli and later popularised by Mark Twain. Last season, more than ever before, statistics were being quoted to reinforce a view on players.

The simple rule by which most bloggers operate is that if a statistic supports your argument, it is relevant, if one is produced that disproves your argument, then those who oppose your view are fools for believing in statistics.

It is said that statistics can’t lie. They are pure mathematics – but are they relevant? There is a whole science dedicated to the study of statistics. Some statistics such as goals scored against goals conceded generally stand alone as something unequivocal. They do not have to be judged against any other criteria and are therefore relevant. Other statistics such as ‘successful tackles’ are only relevant when other criteria are taken into consideration. They are often produced to enforce a belief and may be of no significance at all – statistics that lie!

To create a balanced side, every player has to do his job, and of equal importance, complement and integrate with the rest of the team. This means that the contribution of a player like Gilberto could sometimes be overlooked. He seldom produced stand out performances, but he was a vital cog in the machine. Can statistics reveal something that the observer is unaware of?

Denilson’s stats have been the subject of most analysis this season. He has polarised opinions more than any other player. He’s the highest ranked Arsenal player in the OPTA stats showing him to be the best interceptor in the Premier League, the most accurate passer, fifth best tackler and the fourth most fouled player – yet a lot of supporters don’t think he’s good enough – see paragraph 2. We’ve all heard the ”OK he is the most accurate passer, but they’re all sideways” argument – and that is a relevant point.

Arsene himself used the goals scored against conceded stat to illustrate that our major weakness was in the defence last season and he has signed Vermaelen accordingly. He takes notice of statistics but I’m sure he only considers those he believes to be relevant. For many statistics that can be quoted there will be another which will prove the opposite case.

One stat that can’t be argued with is that Adebayor was offside 43 times last season which is nearly 4 times as many as the next player – RVP with 11. The ‘justification’ for this high figure could be that he often plays up front alone in a 4:5:1, but that doesn’t stand when compared to other premiership players who play in that position. The infuriating thing about that is that there is something that the player can do to improve on this (with the help of the coaching staff). If Ade even halved the number of times he was offside, we would have had 2 more whole games worth of attacking opportunities.

Just for the record, here are some stats from last season taken from Arsenal.com’s season’s review. I have taken a slightly different view of the figures and expressed them all in relation to minutes on the pitch – this throws up some unexpected names!

Goalkeepers:                                                                                                                                                                                                   Fewest goals per game – Almunia

Most saves per game – Fabianski

Distribution success – Mannone

Defenders : Gallas and Toure did well in every category but were not top in any….

Blocks – Sylvestre

Assists – Eboue

Bookings – Clichy                          

Clearances – Djourou

Interceptions – Gibbs

Pass success – Djourou

Tackles won – Djourou

Midfielders: strangely Denilson has the highest scores in many categories but not when divided by his minutes on the pitch.

Assists – Cesc

Successful dribbles – Theo

Goals – Arshavin

Completed passes – Nasri

Pass success rate – Ramsey

Shots on target – Nasri

Tackles success rate – Song

Strikers: –  this excludes Arshavin who would have come top in pretty much every category.

Goals – RVP

Minutes per goal – Bendtner

Assists – RVP

Successful dribbles – Ade

Offsides – Ade

Completed passes – Bendtner

Pass success – Ade

Shots on target  – Bendtner tied with Ade

So make what you will of those – have they reinforced your beliefs or are they just further proof that statistics are meaningless?

My favourite set of statistics at the moment is the new premiership table where we are in our rightful position…


How good are the Arsenal memories?

June 24, 2009

Fair enough the future is in our hands as they say, or perhaps it is in the Bosses – Wenger, or the board with the kitty of cash to spend?
The best and worst times all roll into one when you are so passionate about something you love so dearly – especially The Arsenal.

Some of the worst times are when your favourite player eventually retires (insert Bergkamp or your own favourite retiree here) or leaves the club, or the fans favourite leaves – Henry, Vieira, Pires, etc.  Other indifferent and supremely frustrating times are the off-season/transfer window times of the year when there is no football to give you the weekly or bi-weekly fix. I think back to all those testing times in previous years during the off-season and the how the speculation always went into overdrive about Vieira going, or Henry perhaps going and the heartache I felt at that time. Does the press, etc. not realise how much pain and anguish the fans feel during these times of uncertainty?

I was so confident the year that Vieira went that he wouldn’t be going – I recall that he was used in the marketing campaign for the new kit for that new upcoming season and I felt a sense of relief that he would stay – yet the rumours of him leaving continued and sure enough, he was off to Juve! Gone, never to play for The Arsenal again!

I had my old cheese purchase me an Inter Milan kit with Vieira on the back on her last European holiday a couple of years ago whilst in Milan, just so I could have my own slice of memorabilia of the great man! I don’t wear it that often, but it helps me to keep fresh the memories of the big fella – born in Senegal and plays for Arsenal – Vieeeeeeeeirrrrrrrrrrraaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa – woaahh! I love that great fans song by the way, a few mates and I still crank it up in the pub every now and then, just to get the juices flowing.

So, inevitably there is also Henry to speak about – the memory bank here is infinite or overflowing so to speak! I’m sure I and you all could list down all our favourite Henry goals and plays and that would probably fill up the rest of the blogs until the end of the new season…what a wonderful Arsenal legend, long may his goal scoring record stand in the history of the clubs record books!
I might just list down a couple of wee memories of mine, not necessarily the best goals, but certainly some of the most enjoyable and memorable recollections I’ve kept in the back of my brain:-

1. 2-1 win against Valencia in the CL QF 1st leg of the 00-01 season. Henry scores the equalising goal to make it 1-1 after Valencia had gone ahead. Ray Parlour bangs in a wonder strike from what seemed like 25-30 yards out at the time – I just looked it up on you-tube before and it surely was – absolute gold my friends! I was the equal drunkest man in London that night – my best mate – Johno – and I were in a pub in Victoria near where he lived at the time and we must have had about 20 pints each in celebration of winning that game and giving us a reasonable chance to progress.

2. 4-2 win against Wigan in the EPL at the end of the 04-05 season – Henry bags a hat-trick in the last ever game at Highbury. He kisses the hallowed turf after slotting his third goal – the penalty kick to seal the 4-2 win. I was in my local pub back in Melbourne, Australia and that game didn’t kick off until 1am our time from memory? There was around 5-6 other Gooner supporters in this pub who I had never met before, they had also brought with them 2 of their poor Spud mates. We seconded 2 TVs as close to each other as possible and all huddled around to simultaneously watch our game and the Spuds vs. West Ham game. What a rollercoaster night of emotions of football that was?! How polarising is football, it brings together all kinds of people with the same passions! By the time we looked doomed to finish 5th and to also lose to Wigan, no sooner we had come back to win our game 4-2 and Benayoun had slotted the winner for the Hammers with only 10 minutes to spare with the prior penalty save of Paul Robinson’s on Sherringham fresh in the Spuds minds. I was the drunkest man in Australia that night – dancing on tables in my local pub at 4am in the morning with a bunch of blokes that I didn’t even know? Glory days!

3. 1-0 win against Man Yoo at Old Trafford in the EPL at the end of the 01-02 season. I lived in Glasgow at the time and was dating a Scottish bird who unfortunately was a scum supporter along with her brother and dad. We all travelled down on the Man United Glasgow Supporters bus to the game. Wait to you hear the rest of this story! Of course the tickets for the game were in the scum supporters section, so I was heading right into the lion’s den so to speak. So afraid was I that I would make a muppet of myself and get thrown out or killed if we scored a goal or that I jumped up from my seat in excitement – I actually wore a Man United strip in order to blend in and feel safe! In the build up to Wiltord’s goal, I made sure to put my hands firmly under my legs so they were strapped down securely. Bang – the goal went in and across the other side of the ground – the Gooner supporters went mad! I simply bowed my head down and kept my arms firmly secured under my legs. I remember yelling in my mind with glee my face nearly exploded from the joy and excitement! After the brief bowing of the head I somehow managed to fire off a quick few photos of the goal celebration by the team without any of the scum supporters around me catching wind. Supreme Glory Days!

4. 7-0 win against Everton in the 2nd last EPL game of the 04-05 season! Dennis Bergkamp – one of my hero’s and probably one of nearly everyone else’s hero’s – scores a goal himself and plays a part in nearly all of the other 6 goals to show everyone why he was considered to be one of the best modern day maestros of his era. I also watched this game in my local pub in Melbourne and revelled in amazement at the skill, technique, tenacity and sublime prowess of the man to dominate that game and many other games prior. I think everyone thought he would retire, however it was probably the fans at that game showing their appreciation of Dennis and the result that managed to allow us 1 more season after that of his grace on the football pitch!

Well there you go, a trip down memory lane of some modern day memories from a bloke born and bred in Australia, but having also lived in the UK and experienced the best football league in the world, first hand! I felt like delving further down into the memory banks and listing down hundreds of other experiences of where I was or how I felt when The Arsenal were playing, but there are way too many as you would all presume.

I’ll be 35 this year; I’ve probably supported the Gooners since 1999, so only 10 years, but 10 good years and some of our glorious times during that period. I lived in the UK for a few years from that time, but before that in Australia football wasn’t a mainstream thing to follow, we called it soccer  and loved our cricket, swimming and Aussie rules football! I luckily think I was destined to support Arsenal, as my best mate – Johno- his old man has supported the team for nearly 40 years, so I have always known of them and wondered a lot when I was a young bloke why his Dad stayed up late at night back in the 80’s to watch this FA cup thing on ABC TV? He also had the scarves from family trips to England in his closet and sticker books and cards of players he had collected. I always remember seeing the crest and the cannon emblem.

For me, I always want to win and it can become all-consuming when you invest such a lot of energy, passion and time into supporting your team, even if you don’t live in the same town, city, state or country of where they play. You feel on such a downer on Monday when you realise you went through the weekend and your team lost! I know we want to win more trophies at The Arsenal and quickly – I want it just as much as the next true supporter. Yet when I reminisce about all the glorious memories of the past 10 years (and also listen to the older supporters muse over the glory years before), I realise how lucky I have been to have been allowed to support such a great team and share it with a good mate and other supporters in the pub, at the game or online. Trophies are the number 1 aim; however, I personally have had immense joy in locking in key occurrences of our great club into my memory banks forever!

Friends on the fringe of following football or supporting, sometimes ask me – which club do you hate the most, or despise or love beating, etc?

Rivalry and history suggests Tottenham of course – and we have the other 3 big clubs as well. It such a hard one! I often get so immersed and passionate in developing an answer to give at the time of asking, when I think of times such as Van Nistelrooy hitting Lehmann’s crossbar with a penalty take allowing us to secure a 0-0 draw and not lose the game. Keown was a man possessed that day! I was so pumped for the draw and hated Man Yoo and Van Nistelrooy so much that day (and every other day before and after)! John Terry shits me as well and it was glory days in the FA Cup replay in 02-03 when he scored at both ends to contribute to us winning the game 3-1 with only 10 men for the last 30 minutes of the game. Henry was hit by a missile thrown from the crowd which made me hate Chelsea even more!

And finally – Liverpool! One of my longest serving senses of disappointment and rivalry comes from the FA Cup final in the 00-01 season when with only around 10 minutes to go, I was so happy and nervous that we would probably win, yet Michael Owen pops up with 2 goals and steals the trophy from under our noses. I’ll never forgive him for that and I love every time we play Liverpool and beat them from that day since! I just wished we could have held on recently for a 4-3 win with the Arshavin extravaganza! A 4-3 result in that game would have kept its memories in the stratosphere for years to come!

Cheers – Evo In Oz..

( from Avenell) ..I hope this is okay…..sorry but it didn’t paste in very well for some reason ..  thanks Evo!!!!


My Favourite Shirt.

June 21, 2009

A day or so ago we touched on the subject that this years kits are the worst home and away kits I can remember us ever having.
The home kit in my opinion is wrong, Herbert Chapman changed our kit in the early 1930’s and put white sleeves on and in my opinion that is our traditional colours, not a wide red stripe on the sleeves. At some angles especially when Silvestre is playing he still looks like he is in a Man U kit.

Cue the Hovis theme tune now…. “ When I were lad” My favourite player was Geordie Armstrong who unfortunately died on the Arsenal training ground some 10 years or so ago now. When he ran down the wing the sleeves on his shirt, they used to appear to be inflated, but that may have been my old b/w television that gave that illusion. This was the first kit that I ever owned, it must have been about 1970 I went to a little shop called Lee Sports and Marine and came out wearing the full kit, with  a long sleeve shirt, I don’t think short sleeve ones were available then and I just wanted to play football in it not wear it for leisure like the shirts are today.
It was about the time we got to Wembley and we wore yellow, I don’t think they were called ‘away kits’ in those days just ‘changed kit’ so for us paupers with the b/w tv’s it was easier to spot the different teams. Who can remember the snooker (Pot Black) before the colour tv? “ The light grey is just behind the slightly darker grey” .
So we was in yellow at Wembley in full colour, that’s how I like it to be yellow away but I do understand that market forces mean that the away kit can be messed about with. But not the home kit please!!

My favourite shirts are from about 1986 and they were a breakaway from our old kit maker Umbro. We were to be decked out in Adidas, the trefoil, a proper manufacturer with some style, more like the clothes that everyone was wearing on the terraces. This new kit also coincided with Georgie Graham coming in as manager, the shirts represent a bright new era in our modern history David Rocastle, Paul Merson and trophies luvvly jubbly.. I have the home kits around that era but my bestest shirt has to be the 91’ away kit, yellow with the green/black delta’s on it. The first time I saw it some kid cycled past my house with one on and I had to have one there and then. So I got on my trusty RD350 and went straight down to the Arsenal shop at Finsbury Park and bought one that day.
That has since been worn so much the letters have started to fall off..

I have been disappointed with the Nke shirt era to be truthful, I like some better than others, also I was upset when the club changed to the new badge, it’s a Leeds look alike, a piss poor attempt at modernisation. We are The Arsenal, a club built on tradition and traditional values and that badge does not represent that in my opinion. It really winds me up on Arsenal tv when the use the Victoria Concordia Crescit on an advertisement when they have dropped it from our badge.

I could go on but I would like to hear other views on the shirt debate..

“Do a summersault on your head, whoop”


Player In Red

June 19, 2009

Thomas Vermaelen (born November 14, 1985) is a Belgian footballer who plays for Arsenal as a defender.

Career
Vermaelen started his career in his home country at Germinal Ekeren, which later changed its name to Germinal Beerschot after a merge. In 2004 he moved to Dutch side Ajax and made his professional debut on February 15, 2004 in a 2-0 away win over FC Volendam. It was however the only match he played during the season in which Ajax won the Eredivisie championship. He was sent on loan to RKC Waalwijk for the 2004–05 season. At RKC he was not a first team regular, but had 13 appearances in which he scored two goals.

His breakthrough came with his return to Ajax and won the KNVB Cup. This performance led him into the Belgium national football team. The Johan Cruijff Schaal and another KNVB Cup were added in the following season and in 2007 he won the Johan Cruijff Schaal for the second consecutive time.

Vermaelen recently attracted interest from English club Arsenal FC, and Sky Sports reported a fee was agreed between the two clubs in the region of €13 million on June 18.[2] He joined Arsenal from Ajax for a Undisclosed fee on 19 June


They call him Mellow Yellow

June 17, 2009

Ok he is not Mellow, but he plays in Yellow and we are linked with him.

And yes, I have cheated and used Wikki

Felipe Melo de Carvalho (born 26th August, 1983 in Volta Redonda) is a Brazilian footballer who currently plays as a defensive midfielder for Italian Serie A club Fiorentina. He is particularly well known for his aggressiveness, having collected 17 yellow cards and 3 red cards in his first Serie A season.

Club career

After a successful first season at Almería, Melo agreed to transfer to Italian side Fiorentina in an €8 million transfer for the 2008-09 season. This was confirmed after Almeria’s match against Recreativo de Huelva in the Spanish league. He made his debut in the first leg of the third qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League against Slavia Prague, and scored his first goal in a viola shirt against Atalanta in the Serie A.

Melo has attracted interest from English club Arsenal FC in the summer transfer window. Arsenal are reported to be prepared to pay around £15 million for his services.


Substitute Me for Him, Substitute my Coke for Gin

June 14, 2009

By Rasputin

To quote Roger Daltrey further … “the simple things you see are all complicated” … or are they?

One of the ‘tactical Wengerisms’ that has always puzzled me is the timing and on occasion, the choice of substitutes.

The timing of subs is invariably around the 70-75 minute mark, and the players who are introduced often don’t seem to have time to get into the game. Sometimes players are replaced to conserve their strength for future games and sometimes, (particularly last season) it is in an attempt to win a game or hold on to a lead.

Mourinho would sometimes make substitutions at half time if things weren’t working – was he worried about undermining the confidence of his players or just focusing on getting the right result?

Defensive substitutions worry me and send out the wrong message to the opposition. Our style of play relies on the other side always being wary of our ability to score rapidly on the counter-attack. Swapping a striker for a midfielder is one thing, but bringing on a defender and asking him to play in midfield doesn’t work for Arsenal. We should concentrate on ball retention when we want to preserve a lead – just review the 4:4 against S**s this season for a classic example of giving the ball away unnecessarily.

I think AW is conservative in the timing of his subs. He has often said that he doesn’t want to undermine the confidence of his players and he may consider an early substitution as just that.

After the controversial subbing of Eboue he said: “He is a sensitive boy who wants to do well and cares about the club. He was tired because he didn’t play for a month and on top of that it is difficult when you have the crowd on your back.”

No doubt most readers will recall occasions when they were perplexed by our substitutions, like the times when Theo was taken off but looked our most dangerous player – was he getting tired or being preserved – who knows? Should Arshavin have been brought on at half time in the FA cup semi? – Yes its ‘Championship Manager’ stuff, but debate is healthy.

Arsene’s way is Arsene’s way! He’s not going to change, we all know that. He places huge importance on ‘team spirit’, ‘mental strength’ and ‘belief’, and when things are going well, those qualities prevail. When things are not going so well, should the emphasis be redirected to a more ‘results orientated’ view of team selection?

I only ask the question … I don’t know the answer… I am really looking forward to next season with Arsene at the helm and hope his ‘human’ approach to man management proves to be as successful as the last time he ‘re-built the team’.