Arsenal Are Back – Faults & All

So football is supposed to be fun, you’re supposed to enjoy it. Sure, in the quarter finals of the Champions League, or the final weeks of the domestic season it can get all nail bitey, a bit angsty and talking about football starts to become like talking to a 14 year old about love – it gets difficult.

But it’s pre-season right now, everyone should be sitting back in the glorious sunshine, welcoming players like Riquelme and Thierry Henry to the Emirates, having a bit of fun playing teams you’ll never usually play, seeing some young players, having a few beers seeing new signings get their first runs out onto the pitch… it should be fun.

There were definitely positives to the Emirates cup this weekend – Traore looks, at the very least, to be no worse than Clichy and in fact had a very solid game. Gibbs didn’t explode on the pitch leaving just a smoking pair of football boots either, so there’s something. Fingers crossed for the lad that he doesn’t drop a cup on his foot or something. Jenkinson looks better than I assume must of us expected – solid, clever and defensively aware, the moment when he confidently stepped up to play offside, knowing he was the last man was fantastic. Gervinho also looks very tidy – direct and powerful, he’s exactly what Arsenal have been screaming out for up front, so fingers crossed he mangles a few defences at the start of the season.

In terms of youngsters, Afobe played exceptionally well when given the chance, Frimpong excelled in the middle and Kyle Bartley had a a miserly ten minutes in which to impress, unlucky slicing the ball into his own net. I hope all three get a chance at Arsenal this season – Bartley in particular impressed me on loan at Rangers, and I would consider him exceptionally unlucky if he is sent on loan again, considering we have Sebastian fucking Squillaci at the club. If I was Bartley I’d have already cut Squillaci’s break lines, but I suspect Squillaci drives like he plays football anyway – that is, not very quickly.

Anyway, then there were some negatives. We conceded three goals. From 2 mistakes on Saturday and a bit of good football on Sunday. Sunday’s goal was one of them. It probably could have been defended better, but it was a well worked opportunity and the ball was difficult to deal with. Saturday’s goals were…. scrappy. Again, there was a large element of appalling misfortune, Djourou’s excellent tackle somehow turning into a delightful one-two with the attacker. 1 time in 1000 that ball drops for the striker, but such is Arsenal’s luck.

I still find the “we/Arsenal need to buy a defender” club hilarious. As Martin Keown said over the weekend,
buying a defender doesn’t teach all the other defenders at the club how to defend. They need to work on unity/cohesiveness, watch videos, look at diagrams, understand how defending actually works. So what if we buy Samba, Cahill, Jagielka? They’ll drop to every other defenders level at the club and forget how to head the ball and mark players at corners. We’ve currently got (in order of personal preference) Vermelean, Koscielny, Djourou, Bartley, Miquel, Alex Song, Wenger, Pat Rice, A Stick, Some Grass and Squillaci who can play there. Joking aside, that’s 6 defenders, ranging from excellent (TV), good and improving (LK, JD), young but talented (KB, IM) and shit and should never play (SS). If we bring in another player it means one of the 5 under TV will definitely go, probably our brightest hope Bartley, and this is the most important thing – the rest of the team won’t magically learn how to defend. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times – until the midfield and defence sort out that massive fucking gap that opens between them like Wenger is Moses parting the Red Sea from the touchline, it wouldn’t matter if we have 4 Christopher Sambas at the back.

Anyway, far more importantly for Arsenal is that we dominated the game yesterday and only scored a single solitary goal. It was like watching some of the toothless displays from last season – we should have been 5 goals up by the time they scored. It’s a sad state of Arsenal’s current team, but past the 1st choice attacking players, there aren’t any goals in our side. At all. Ever. That seems a far more important problem to solve to me than whether or not we buy a centreback.

Anyway, like I started by saying, football is supposed to be fun. Debate around it, discuss it, propose solutions to problems that may or may not exist if you want – but some of the stuff I’ve read in the comments here, on other blogs, on Twitter sounds angry, hateful, inciteful and just plain over the top. If football makes you that angry or upset, you’re doing it wrong. Arsenal haven’t just fielded a team of eleven one legged Glen Helders in the Champions League final – they drew two games in pre-season. You might as well kill yourself if that upsets you to the point that you need to call the manager “a cunt” or boo the team off the pitch.

As pointed out by James Maw on Twitter –

Importance of pre-season results:
Spurs in 2008 = WWDWWWWW – season starts – LLDLDLLL.
Chelsea in 2010 = WLLLL – season starts – WWWWW

Anyway, it’s been Monday, I’ve been @Kieran_Delaney, have fun and remember to smile.

  • rado

    Well the game was a bit depressing, we never left first gear which would be ok if we knew that would change come the new season. We often watched 90 mins of passing without intention. When we played the bigger games, united, chelsea, city and united we pressed quickly, committed in tackles and broke with precision and speed and we won those games.. That is the Arsenal way, that is how i rememebr we used to play. Unless we do that, and not control the game by slowing it down and sitting in front of the 11 opposition players in the box passinf sideways, we wont do well.. I think our problems lie quite deep which is concerning, its the set piece training, and its the style of football in which we’ve developed thats killing arsenal. What happenned to our 7 second counter attack idea? This is a bit of a rant but im still feeling quite excited for the new season.

  • agentsmurf

    same personel same tactics awful management, taking 3 off at the same time ,i know its only a friendly but for the sake of 10 minutes u could have given us something to shout about the subs were made the pressing of the ball stopped and as usual we concede from nothing i can watch this drivel no longer i was so bored watching this sideways football, we need some pace injecting back into the team,and we need 2 centre halves to complement vermaelen play three c/halves push the full backs up and get some bodies in the box…..we have been sussed now for 3 seasons dull predictable sterile passing football with no end susceptible to counter attacking its a joke we are in deep trouble just before the goal the ball was in the air in the box for 5 seconds with not ONE arsenal player launching themselves at the ball a f****** joke defensive coaching and a will to win is whats needed.i am getting so frustrated…what does pat rice do ???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

  • yemi

    Mundo Deportivo reports that Barca are poised to make their final, decisive offer for Fabregas. It will be 29 million euros up front, 6 million in add ons and then the club will ask the player to forego 1 million a season in wages to help them finance a deal.

    The other big Catalan paper, Sport, claims Arsenal are insistent that a deal must be concluded by Friday. Finally the clock might be ticking on this saga.

    According to AS, as soon as Fabregas hot foots it across to Spain, Juan Mata will be making the opposite trip as he joins the Gunners from Valencia.

  • Kieran

    Yemi, Mata’s release clause expired on the 31st July. It’s now August which makes any deal very unlikely.

  • yemi

    @ Kieran:
    What of if an agreement has been reached before then ?

  • lornik

    Where can I start recounting my Emirates Cup weekend experience? Well the first day could be a good start, so here goes. My family of seven started their journey two hours before the start of the first game on the Saturday. We had two picnic baskets (to feed three children and four grownups) we arrived forty minutes before the start of the first game.

    For the first time I heard this chant over the weekend… “I am Arsenal till I’m skint”. I feel I understood it finally because to pass the time we visited the Arsenal store. I personally purchased nothing; but my family appeared to have bought the full contents of the shop. There were many bags.

    Today Sunday… we did not bring a picnic basket, but eat food from “Jerk Chicken” on Drayton Park leading from Gillespie Road. I wore my Henry 2005 home shirt, took my seat on row one… West Stand Upper Tier 93 and was prepared to be entertained.

    My personal observation of the two days

    • The booing that lasted five seconds or more to be mollified by applause
    • Our new away kit

    Knock on effect of booing: Bartley did not go straight to the dressing room after the game, but sat on the substitute bench, with his head down… a few moments later both Song and Kosser came to him and ruffled his head… his head dropped lower and as a mother I felt sad for him.

    We ask for British players, and when they come on… they score marvellous own goals at friendlies and we boo them (him). I was embarrassed, why! Because the world was watching and he was our own- his young defender in his first big home game (yes I know he played a CL game away) … shame on you all who booed

    • Arsenal defending on both days – later end of game
    • Toto Squillaci – our defender- replaced with Bartley ( see above)
    • JD – Lapse of concentration
    • Eboue our defender… he got the biggest applause when he came on
    • Nasri couldn’t give a toss and Arsene gave him the Captain armband
    • Chamakh… must learn to turn and strike

    • The King returned – love him – Terry Henry
    • Benik
    • Leroy
    • Frimpong
    • Rosie – yes him
    • Traore
    • Gibbs
    • RVP – Two goals
    • The Big Forehead ( He is going to light the premiership)

    • The return of the King… and his acolytes
    • Cesc…. Barca… DNA … My Arse
    • Nasri bye bye… you can go if you want
    • We have JW19, Bulldog 38 and Leroy Smart

    • Ryo is very slight and gentle looking
    • Cesc on Saturday, looking very healthy
    • Eboue pitch side prayers -three minutes each time
    • Arsene applauded to his seat before the first game on Saturday

  • Kieran

    @ yemi:
    Well it hasn’t, unless both clubs are lying.

  • Kodjo

    The seems to be a gap btwn the midfielders and defence everytime we conceded goals….even though you could argue that some of the players were out of position as a result of the mistakes by JD & SS. Having said that its a friendly game, as such we have to look at things from the right distance. That being said we should have been out of sight by at least 4 goals prior to the equalizer.

    Bartley surely deserves a chance and a run in the team from what i have seen of SS. He (SS) panicks and is not comfortable on the ball. Teams seemed to have worked out that applying pressure on him would yield a turnover.

    Given our style of play Arsene cant just go out and buy a lump of defender….we need a good ball playing midfielder. The case of SS proves he point. We cant just have defender who is ponderous or just hacks the ball out of play needlessly.

  • vj

    Personally on the defender front, I think Wenger may sign a CB, im not a big fan of jagielka, I would prefer a samba or cahill but I do think we need one since Gibbs is bound to get injured and so I would rather Vermaelen go LB and let Koscielny or Djourou partner our new CB

    And about that goal we conceded if you go back you see that eboue loses possession resulting in the corner which leads to the goal, so whether the same would have happened if sagna or jenkinson were there is questionable also, we forget that it was a truly brilliant pass and vision from henry, most players would have just gone for goal…

    As for Cesc issue, Im sure he is leaving but I do hope we sign mata. As Kieran said and what others have also mentioned we lack proper wingers, Gervinho looks the part on one wing, mata would be perfect for the other allowing nasri to play in the “cesc role” with Rambo as a backup. As for strikers, not too happy we havent bought one Im worried that when RVP gets injured CHamakh will not be good enough but again I guess its a “wait and see” situation.

    In the end we need to start concentrating on the league and not on transfers, afterall we are going away to newcastle, newcastle are really weak at the moment, no jey barton, kevin nolan or a proper striker and time for revenge after 4-4 last year, hope that cesc issue and our transfers are sorted out this week, Its always better to have a settled team at the start of the league especially with liverpool and man u in the first 3 games!

  • Gooner Get Ya

    The Mata deal is going down the pan as the price has gone up to £28 million because our board didn’t pay up before the clause ended. Our board are a either useless or lying about how much cash we have! They could have purchased Mata and said F U to Nasri for over £20+ mill and been in profit?? My only conclusion….they are retarded bunch of cretins who have no idea how to negotiate a transfer.

  • Gooner Get Ya

    If we knew about Mata’s buy out clause why not give Barca a deadline before that date for Fab and then buy mata with cash. Then sell Nasri and buy top defender or midfielder with his transfer fee? Crazy!!

  • Kieran

    @ Gooner Get Ya:
    It’s garbage – banks don’t open on Sundays, so the chances of us ever completing the deal on a weekend were 0%.

    What’s actually happened, is that Valencia realised that other clubs were interested and they’ve tried to start a bidding war, an auction, to get more money for the player.

    It’s not Arsenals fault Valencia want to auction the player.

  • yemi

    @ Kieran: That still boils down to the fact that we don’t know how to deal in the transfer market.
    You need to identify your target before the transfer window opens and tie them to an mou. Then when the window opens, complete the deal and shut up. It all boils down to the fact that we want cheap options.If you really want a player, even before the buzz starts, agree a price and pay… Not arsenal. What we will start hearing next is “i could have signed mata”. No you couldn’t if you left it for so long. Alvarez was also a nice prospect and BAM !!! Gone to inter.

  • yemi

    Now i hear spurs are interested (prospect of losing modric), inter are interested (prospect of losing schnieder)

  • agentsmurf

    I have been a great defender of Wenger’s ways of dealing with business, BUT this season he really is making a mockery of things. Why would you wait until deadline day to make a move for a central defender. Particularly when you would need to get the player settled in sooner than normal, as the first month is likely to decide the outcome of our whole season. If it was anything the Emirates Cup made apparent, the three back ups we tested managed to screw up even against a Red Bulls side that would have struggled to make it in the Championship. In fact it doesn’t matter if it is Samba, Jagielka or Cahill – ANYONE would improve our frail back four. And then it is the nonsense with Nasri and Fabregas. We just missed the Mata deadline because we waited for the misfits to make up their mind. What??? Frankly, we are going to need someone like Mata sometime soon anyway, even if Fab and Nas stay for now. In fact it wouldn’t hurt if he got a little bit of time to get used to the PL pace before Nasri went to Manchester. But no! And had this been because of our poor economy, I would have understood it. But it’s not! We are financially in a great position – playerwise, however… If we save money on such a purchase, we are risking losing our place in the Champions League, and that would be WAY costlier. I personally am a fan of Bayern Munich’s stance when their stars are unsettled. They wont be held to ransom, and will not let them go, even when they have only one year left of their contract. Because they can afford to. And so can we with Nasri. I’d much rather have a great season and a secure CL place than the 15 mill we can expect for him now. It would even make sense from an accountant’s perspective. Please, Wenger, let me wake up tomorrow to the news that Mata and a decent central defender are doing their medical check before signing a five year deal with the Gunners!

  • Kieran

    @ yemi:
    I don’t think you understand. Arsenal made a bid. It was rejected. It doesn’t get any simpler than that!

    @ agentsmurf:
    There was no deadline. Ever. Even the player has said, “there was no deadline”. Stop blaming things that didn’t happen on the manager because you don’t like him. He’s not even involved in the business of transfers, Gazides is.

  • lornik

    RE – The Nasri situation..


    No point in having a player at the club who doesn’t want to be here. We’ll still end up paying his wages for a player who will wander round the pitch disinterested. We already have a lot of players like that at the club, we don’t need anymore.

    Take the £22m you Turnip and reinvest!!!!

  • agentsmurf

    our commercial deals are so poor. we recieve less than tottenham for our shirt sponsor. despite being a bigger club and being a CL club – who brokered that deal? i believe we only get 5m a year whilst man united and chelsea earn upwards to 20m per season. the highbury flats project stalled big time – agian poor decisions by the hiercahy. we record profits yet the club try and take the credit for “good management”. rubbish. the club makes profits because they charge the highest ticket prices in the world and unlike over clubs we dont show ambition by spending money. poor commercial deals, no success, highest ticke tprices in the world – the fans money is never reinvested back in the sqaud. im sorry but this is totally poor. we are not a well run club. a well run club provide themselves funds to compete with the best – man united, real madrid, barcelona, all rely on commercial deals. our club rely on milking the fans as our commercial deals are crap which includes our stadium sponsor. apprently we get 15m a year from emirates plus 5m for wearing thier name on our shirt. 20m which is eqaul to what chelsea and united get for selling thier shirt space alone!! – imagine what they could to if they deciced to sell thier naming rights to thier stadium!! well run club what a joke. more like mismanaged by a bunch of dinasours and a cluless american (gazidis). but they still pat themselves on the back believing they do a good job.

  • agentsmurf

    @Kieran: I don’t want anyone to confuse my criticisms of Wenger as evidence that I’m not a supporter of the club. I mean, the more you suffer, the more it shows you really care, right? (Mid-90s song reference there.) But anyway, I do care about the club. And I hope I’m proven wrong, both in the transfer window and on the field. And if we end up sticking with Gibbs as our starting left back, with Traore backing him up, then I hope they become superstars. It would be better for me to have egg on my face and have Arsenal winning trophies, than for me to say “I told you so” at this time next year. But if we all had to be honest about what’s been going on in the personnel department over the last several years, I think we’d all agree that Wenger hasn’t been getting it done. He hasn’t put us in the best chance to succeed, and he can’t blame it on a lack of money either. So maybe in an ideal world, someone else could step in and act as a general manager, while Wenger could stick to coaching. Maybe if that ever happened, I could join the Wenger supporter’s club again.

  • Bonathan

    Well, certainly the signings made so far seem as though they will be a big help. Gervinho looks useful and gives us another dimension going forward. I also think wenger plans to use him as an option for a central striker as well, competing with chamack. He knows where the net is and is quite different from our other attacking options.

    Jenkinson too, as well as being one for the future, looks as though he’ll be a useful member of the squad now as well. Certainly, he will provide a more sound defensive option to cover for sagna than eboue.

    It looks as though fabregas is on his way, and at the start of summer, this is what i expected. I was quite looking forward to seeing nasri in the central role and this juan mata sounds like he could be a nice replacement for the wide position. As long as we ge him that is. I can’t see him going to spurs, but we need to be careful about inter entering the race. Maybe it’s just valencia trying to bump the price up slightly. But there’s no doubt, if shneider leaves, then they will be looking for a replacement

    The worries for me are still a) will we actually sign a good CB, and b) will we keep hold of nasri.

    The CB could be even more of an issue now since losing clichy means we may need TV at LB quite a lot, if not all of the season due to gibbs either being injured, or simply not quite being ready. He had a terrible game against united in the fa cup last year where he still looked completely out of his depth. Wnger has made plenty of noise about signing a CB, and you’d have to think samba, cahill or hangeland would be easily achievable if we really wanted them. Possibly even jagielka since everton have not come out and said ‘no chance’ like they did last year. Everyone has there opinion on who’s best here but personally, as long as we don’t plump for samba, i’ll be happy. I am quite a fan of jagielka actually but he does lack something that most of our cb’s lack, and that’s height. although he’s still very good in the air so maybe it doesn’t matter. after all, keown was only 6 foot 1. jag has plenty of experience and would be a great model for our young defenders to learn from, as well bridging the gap nicely until they are ready. I think both bartly and miguel have big futures at arsenal.

    Then, there’s nasri. And this is the thing that is most worrying. If he goes, who do we buy then?? Would wenger buy anyone? surely we couldn’t replace our two best players with just one. it wouldn’t surprise me if we tried though! Nasri is showing no signs of signing a new contract. We’ve said we would rather let him run his contract down than lose his. But as things get closer to the end of the transfer window, that threat looks likely to be tested to the max. I mean, it’s one thing saying that, but would we really do it?

    Ideally, Nasri will sign a new contract soon. But is that likely?? I really can’t see it. We’ve put him in a funny situation. He’s been tempted by other offers, no doubt. He’s heard wenger say that we’l happily let his contract run down, so why on earth would he sign another now? Why not just wait and see how the season pans out and then either sign one next summer if we win the league, or leave for free regardless.

    At the end of the day, what it will come down to, is city will put in an offer, we’l have to sit nasri down and offer him the best we can, if he doesn’t take it, then we have to let him go. There’s no way we can carry out the threat i don’t think. You are gambling with 20 million for one, and for two, it is likley to be a major disruption all season

  • Bonathan

    what we should really be doing is refusing to sell fabrregas and replace nasri with mata. since fab has years left on his contract, we hold the cards in that situation. as it is, we could be entering a very dangourous game if we let fabregas go first.

  • yemi

    @ Kieran:
    I understand that their bid was rejected, but i also have a problem with arsenal not making proper bids. If you REALLY need a player, go out and get him.
    NOt playing hide and seek, waiting to see if cesc and nasri will stay. and other stuff like dat.