Monday, September 13, 2010

Jay-Z wants to invest in the Arsenal

I'm not a businessman,
I'm a Business, Man
Let me handle my business, damn

- Jay-Z, a potential investor in Arsenal FC

What does it say about me that I get excited about the idea of Jay-Z becoming an investor in Arsenal FC and having a seat on the board? Am I so besotted by celebrity culture? Are my thoughts so superficial that I think Jay-Z’s genius as a rapper and his talent as a successful Business will automatically translate to the Byzantine world of football politics?

I hope not, but I’m not sure.

I don’t get excited about the prospect of having a fat Uzbek oligarch with alleged criminal links on the board. I don’t get excited about having a skinny American with pretensions of a global sporting empire on the board. I don’t get excited about Danny Fsizman, Peter-Hill Wood, Sir Chips Cheswick or anyone else on the board. I did get excited about foxy Nina Bracewell-Smith on the board, but she’s been kicked off. However, I am genuinely excited by the idea of Jay-Z at the Arsenal.

Here’s what Jay-Z said about it:

Actually, I think Jay-Z would fit well with the Arsenal board, if he ever got on it. It’s a bit cynical of me, but I think that at his heart, Jay-Z’s a businessman. He buys and sells. He likes to make a profit. And in the Arsenal, he’s come across probably the only football club in the world which makes money and which has the ability to expand. It’s a good business opportunity.

And the moment, the Arsenal board are only interested in coasting along and making a profit. It’s been paralysed for the past five years with in-fighting. The old members are just marking time and waiting for the market to pick up again before they can dump their shares. Usmanov and Kroenke don’t have the funds to buy the Arsenal outright, but don’t want to give up their 30%. So we’ve got a board that’s content with the status quo, paying down the loan and earning a tidy profit every year.

It’s a good match-up.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

I didn’t see us beating Bolton 4-1

"From the two games against Blackburn and Bolton, two years ago we would not have taken six points.”

- Arsene Wenger, pointing out the improvement in the Arsenal

I'm pleased to say that I was wrong. In the end, we beat Bolton quite comfortably 4-1, with goals to Koscielny, Chamakh, Song and Vela. It wasn’t as comfortable as that scoreline suggests with the last two goals being scored in the last twelve minutes, but still, it’s a good result and one that I’m very pleased with.

Since as I slept through it, I’m not going to comment about it.

However, I am going to comment about Wenger’s aforementioned quote. I actually attended Blackburn away and Bolton away during the 08-09 season. We won both games 4-1 and 3-0, or something similar. I remember we were great going forward, but we were terrible going back. In Blackburn away especially, they played right through our midfield and sliced us open. It was a case of the Arsenal being great at the things that Wenger is passionate about, but terrible at the things he dislikes.

So, have things really changed? We’re still good going forward. We’re probably a lot more effective going forward now that we’ve converted to a 4-3-3. But we’re still unsteady in defence. I remember watching the Blackburn match from a couple of weeks ago, and I was genuinely fearful whenever the opposition had the ball. I don’t trust the defence, I don’t trust Song when he’s roving upfield, and I definitely don’t trust Almunia. There are just too many liabilities for me to ever feel comfortable with this team. Without some sort of defensive tactical discipline, I always think we’re one slip-up away from conceding.

Okay, we showed a bit more resilience. Song and co. are 2 years’ more experienced, and that shows up in their play. They don’t crumple in games “up North” when things go bad. They score more late goals. They try harder when the mood suits them. All these things are a natural consequence of having played 60+ more league games.

But is that enough?

I’d feel more confident in the team if we got ourselves a goalkeeper. And if we could nail Song down in front of the defence. And if I knew we could trust Koscielny and Squillaci with the centre-back positions for the rest of the season. And especially if we could stop conceding weak goals from corners, set-pieces and fast breaks down the flanks.

I’m probably being a bit harsh. We’ve got 10 points from 12, and we’re second on the league. We’ve played two of our bogie teams and got 3 points from each. We’ve played Liverpool away and got a point from that. So we’re not too bad. We could definitely be in a much worse position.

So on the 225th last day of my 20s, I had deep, serious thoughts about buying an iPhone 4. I have an embarrassingly old phone which serves my needs quite well, and which is virtually indestructible. I don't really use it, other than for SMS and the occasional call.

And yet, I was playing Veggie Samurai on a friend's iPhone this afternoon, and I realise I really want a phone which would enable me to dice numerous digital vegetables as fast as manically possible. I want a phone which would enable me to access youTube videos on the go, watch highlights from Premier League matches, check Facebook and email every five seconds. I want something sleek and black and coated in shiny, cool glass.

I realise it's just irrational, but I don't seem to get over Apple-related tech-lust. The last two times I had it, I succumbed to a MacBook and an iMac respectively. There's something so seductive about Apple products. You know that they're expensive, that Steve Jobs is probably evil, and there are cheaper, more effective equivalents out there, but still… there's nothing on the market that's as cool as an Apple product.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

I’m going to try to register with newsnow

On the advice from Stewie from a couple of posts ago, I decided to apply for entry to again. I tried once before when this blog was called “Fucking Arsenal”, but they decided to reject me... for reasons unknown. I figured that I might have a better chance this time around, with a new name and more polite language. I’m a bit apprehensive because what I write can only be loosely defined as “news”, and probably more accurately described as "snippy, cowardly insults directed at men I wouldn’t have the guts to insult in real life”, but I’ve never found the website that catalogues those type of blogs.

So wish me luck. It’s going to take a while because I have to register with a website tracker called Alexa first, but I’ll get there. And then, maybe I’ll become famous on newsnow.

I was looking at the the editorial standards, and came across something funny:

I’m left wondering why they decided to single out Liverpool supporters? Is there an abundance of poorly-written Liverpudlian blogs out there, or are they just the more dire? Or is there some sort of English snobbishness at play, something too nuanced for me to pick up?

Oh, and we’re playing Bolton tonight. I don’t think I’ll watch the match because I would like to sleep. It’s going to be a difficult match. Vermaelen’s out, which means we’re sending two unprepared Frenchie centre-backs up against one of the standard bearers of clod-hoofing Ingerland. And van Persie and Walcott are both out as well, which means we’re left with Chamakh as our lone striker and Arshavin and... (blank) as supporting wide players. So goals will be hard to come by and our defence will be shaky.

It’s going to be a tough match. I’m wondering why, in only the 4th match of the season, we’re suddenly down to our last centre-back pairing and our last genuine centre-forward? Why do we always get injuries to the same players, at the same time, for the same reasons? Has the curse of the Arsenal Medical Team struck again?

Arsene Wenger thinks that we can do it, though. He said:

But then again, he’s hardly going to say that we’re fielding two inexperienced centre-backs, one inexperienced centre-forward, and a liability in front of goal, and we’ll be lucky if we can get away with a win, is he?

Let’s go Arsenal. Let’s win this one for the injury list.

Friday, September 10, 2010

van der Vaart is trash-talking Arsenal

"Arsenal have a great team also, a lot of great young players. But I think our squad is not worse than Arsenal's so I think we have a good chance to win against them. And not only win the game against them but also, over the whole season, we can aspire to beat them.”

- Rafael van der Vaart, dissing the Arsenal before he’s even played for Tottenham

The above is an example of a dumb footballer quote.

Somewhere in the nether-regions of cyberspace, there’s got to a website dedicated to stupid things said by footballers. A lot of footballers say a lot of stupid things. Actually, a lot of people say a lot of stupid things. It’s not surprising - if you stick a microphone in front of anyone, chances are you’ll catch a nugget of gold at least once a week. For every Barack Obama, there’s always a George W. Bush.

It makes me feel sorry for van der Vaart. Here’s a guy who’s played for Ajax, Hamburg and Real Madrid. He’s been dumped at Tottenham, and before he’s played a single game for them, he’s been pushed out in front of the media and told to make a disparaging remark about the Arsenal. He’s got no idea what he’s talking about. He’s probably heard a lot about the Arsenal from van Persie, and he knows that we’ve got a squad of highly promising youngsters. And he knows Tottenham wear white and... well, that’s probably it, actually.

So van der Vaart is pushed out in front of a media throng, eyes blinded by flash-photography, and made to tell the world that Tottenham are just as good as the Arsenal. I’m a bit angry about it, actually. van der Vaart is feeling a bit insecure about his place at the club, and he’s prompted by PR people that the best way to ingratiate himself with the Spuds is to diss the Arsenal. It’s a cynical exercise by the Spuds, and designed to exploit van der Vaart’s naiveness. It’s a remark designed to rally the troops, stir up the opposition (us), make the Spuds feel like big men... but the only long-term effect is that it’s going to make van der Vaart look a bit foolish in twelve months’ time.

Dissing the local rival is a time-honoured initiation for new players. But there are better ways to ingratiate yourself with fans. There are smarter ways, classier ways, and funnier ways. Two in recently memory involve Arsenal players dissing Tottenham: firstly, Arshavin saying “Pavlyuchenko is not my friend"; and secondly, Vela saying that he’s pleased for dos Santos for joining Tottenham, but that after he establishes himself, he should “then move on to a better team”.

Now, I’m not trying to say that Tottenham lack the intelligence and class of the Arsenal, but you know, if all the evidence points that way...

So on the 227th last day of my 20s, I did my tax, picked up my passport, and lost a little bit of my sanity. The GOMD flew out sometime in the morning, and she’s been on my mind the whole day. I keep seeing her face everywhere I go. I keep wishing I could’ve said something more. It reminds me of the Freedy Johnston song, Bad Reputation:

Suddenly I’m down in Harold’s Square
Looking in the crowd, your face is everywhere
Just turning around
Do you want me now?
Do you want me now?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Fabianski wants to start against Spuds

Lukasz Fabianski wants to challenge for a place in the first team. For this to happen, I think he's got to do two things: firstly, displace Almunia as Arsenal's no.1 keeper; and secondly, limit his fuck-ups to one or less a game. It's a bit of a nightmare that it's very possible to achieve the former without necessarily achieving the latter.

He's setting the Tottenham Carling Cup tie as his breakthrough game. It's turning into a bit of a red-letter day for us. Tottenham are starting to emerge as a serious rival to us. There's been talk about Tottenham having a better squad than ours. It's a chance to gauge the strength of our Academy youngsters against "top 4" opposition. And now, it seems like it's another chance to witness the comic stylings of Lukasz Fabianski.

Fabianski said:

Let's hope Fabianski doesn't really mean it when he says he'll treat the Carling Cup match in the same way as his other matches. If so, he'll: give the ball to the referee to allow the Spuds to shoot without him being ready; run out of the box and keep chasing opposition players; flap hopelessly, helplessly and haplessly; add to his growing collection of youTube memories. If so, we're probably going to score four and concede even more. Yes, it'll be exciting, but I'd rather we be boring and progress.

I quite like Arsenal in the Carling Cup. It's a nice chance to see our youngsters have a chance. I'd like to see Wellington strut his stuff come January 1st, so I hope we'll still be in the Carling Cup next year. And for that to happen, we need Fabianksi to approach the Tottenham tie in a different manner to which he is accustomed to - we need Fabianski to play like a fucking goalkeeper.

All in all, though, I'd rather Wojciech Szczesny in goal.

So on the 228th last day of my 20s, I had a one and half hour gap in the afternoon. Had a nap in the staff room and felt very refreshed afterwards. Might have to schedule one into every day from now on.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Arsenal Medical Team has it in for our players

"Arsenal's medical team will today assess the extent of the ankle injury Theo Walcott picked up during England's 3-1 win over Switzerland in Basle."

- the Guardian, reporting about Theo’s rolled ankle

Theo Walcott rolled his ankle when England played Switzerland last night. He’s going to be taken to the Arsenal Medical Team to be assessed. The consensus seems to be that it’s a two week lay-off. However, that’s before the Arsenal Medical Team get their hands on him...

I’m beginning to suspect that the Arsenal Medical Team are suffering from some weird sort of Munchausen by Proxy Syndrome. Our medical team must be doing something to sabotage our players. There’s no other explanation for the serial mis-diagnoses, ineffective treatment, poor rehabilitation and recurring injuries. There’s no other way that Gallas could’ve been out for four months for a hamstring tear. There’s no other way that van Persie can keep getting the same sort of injuries for the past five years and not have any sort of treatment (other than have his wisdom teeth removed) to strengthen his legs or protect his body. And there’s no way that Theo Walcott would need two weeks or more to recover from a rolled ankle.

Then again, I suppose two weeks isn’t that bad. Knowing the history of the Arsenal medical team, it could very well be something that stretches off into the new year. And that’ll be a real shame, because Theo’s just beginning to come good.

In related new, Robin van Persie will be out until October. With Walcott out, and Bendtner out, it’s down to Chamakh to lead the line. Turns out out nicely-padded squad on paper is paper-thin in real life. Isn’t it interesting that the players who have been with us most (i.e. the ones with the most contact with the Arsenal Medical Team) are the ones who are the most injury-prone? van Persie’s been with us since he was 21. Bendy and Theo have been with us since their teens. Chamakh has been with us a couple of months. And who’s the only striker left standing?

Someone, please investigate the Arsenal Medical Team!

In unrelated news, Rafael van der Vaart is “despondent” that he was taken off during the Netherland’s qualifying game. He has the novel thought that a player who is playing well should be allowed to play out the game. He forgot the rule of thumb when it comes to picking international sides - anyone who plays for Spurs is shite. Sorry Rafa, but you’ve got to get used to it. You’re a talented player and deserve a spot, but this is what happens when you become a Spud.

So on the 229th last day of my 20s, I had dinner with a mate. I’d invited the GOMD to come along as a way of sending her off before her trip, but... she was busy. This time around, I think she was genuinely busy, but I don’t know. I’m getting to the point where it doesn’t really matter one way or another. But the restaurant’s on a hill, with a view of the city. And I spent most of the night looking out at the city, wondering if I could see her in her office building if I squinted hard enough. And when we left, I glanced back at the city and wondered if she was still slaving away at 9:30pm, or whether she’d given up and had taken the train home. She’s apt to very long workdays, is the GOMD.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Martin Keown thinks that Ashley Cole had a soul... once

"Contrary to what many people think, I found Ashley very likeable and willing to learn when he came on the scene at Arsenal. He had a great deal of respect for senior players because he was an Arsenal fan living the dream just training with us."

- Martin Keown, on his days playing alongside Ashley Cole

Keown’s article about Ashley Cole begins the same way most stories about serial killers or paedophiles tend to begin - Ashley Cole was a lovely boy, and no one would’ve suspected that when he grew up he would’ve: killed people; raped kids; or played for Chelsea.

I suppose everyone starts off as lovely kids. It’s what happens to us in life, and the choices we make, that determines whether we turn out good or bad, likeable or horrible, an Arsenal legend or a conniving Chelski mercenary. Some people are lucky enough to stumble across the right choices, some are wise enough to figure it out from the start. Most of us get it half right and half wrong, and we end up being a mixture of good and bad.

And then, some people end up like Ashley Cole.

There’s a lot to like about Ashley Cole’s game. He’s determined and hardworking. He’s talented, and he makes the most of his talent. He’s one of those rare full-backs who can defend. And he’s a big game player. As Keown says:

As late as 2005, Ashley Cole had it all - a star player for the club he supported, a future captain, a member of the greatest team in the world - and then he threw it away by acting like a dick. He gave up certain legendary status at his boyhood club, just to earn a little bit more at another club. In the history of dumb, unlucky choices, this has to rank pretty high.

Actually, considering he managed to date, marry, then divorce Cheryl Tweedy, I’d imagine Ashley Cole features quite frequently in the complete list of dumb, unlucky life choices.

I wonder if he ever regrets it. I kind of doubt it. A footballer’s life is probably lived in the moment. And at the moment, Ashley Cole is a double-winner with Chelsea, a Champions League finalist from 2008.... and with a wage that probably doubles what he’d be earning at the Arsenal. So the adrenaline’s pumping, and the trophies are gleaming, and there’s not a thought in the world for the price he paid in order to join a club like Chelsea.

I wonder if he’ll think about it when he retires, and the whirl of footballing celebrity grinds to a halt. Maybe he’ll have two cabinets in his study, one with his Arsenal stuff and the other with his Chelsea things. Maybe he’ll take a look at the two combined, and wonder whether winning an identical set of blue-themed medals was worth the dissonance in his career.

Then again, maybe not. He is the kind of guy who gets so upset over a £55,000 a week contract, after all. A guy like that probably isn’t the right guy to think deep introspective thoughts about the nature of loyalty, fidelity and a sense of belonging. Actually, I think it’s more likely that Ashley Cole will spend his retirement hanging out in Miami, snorting cocaine off a hooker’s backside with rolled-up $100 bills.

But that’s just me being presumptuous.

So on the 230th last day of my 20s, I saw a patient who talked incessantly, incoherently, repetitively about the loss of his front bridge and the gaping hole in the front of his mouth. And I sat with him and listened to him ramble for half an hour. I went through all the treatment options several times until he understood and decided what was best for him. And when he left, I felt so sorry for him.

I was just like him two years ago.

It was about another girl then, and another situation. And I liked this girl so much that the gears in my head slipped their chains and I went spinning off into madness. And I know exactly what it feels like to have thoughts spin through your head so fast that you can’t get traction, and you’re propelled helplessly along until your neurones get fried from overwork. It’s not pleasant, and when I was finally over her, I made a pact with myself to never get worked up like that ever again.

But now I’m thinking about the GOMD, and wondering how it’s all going to pan out. She knows I like her, and she knows I like her a bit too much. She likes me, or at least she doesn’t hate me, but still, she doesn’t like me enough to ever think about it. And I’m wondering if making acronyms for unattainable girls is really the best use of the last 230 days of my 20s. Maybe I should just move on. After all, the difference between humans and mammals should be that we learn from our mistakes.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Ryan Shawcross thinks Wenger doesn’t like him

"He's obviously got something against me. It's just weird. He brings my name into it. He always seems to have a problem with Stoke, our manager and certain players.”

- Ryan Shawcross, a lovely lad who doesn’t understand why Wenger thinks he’s a bit of a thug

A few weeks ago, Wenger made the comment that Stoke played like rugby players and that Ryan Shawcross is a dangerous player (or something like that - I didn’t read the story, so I’m not sure). And now, someone has told Shawcross about this story, and he’s a bit baffled as to why Arsene Wenger is so angry at him. I mean, Ryan’s a lovely lad without a malicious bone in his body, and he’s good to his mum and nan as well, so why does Wenger have it in for him?

It is a bit weird, Ryan. I mean, the only reason I can think of is that you hacked apart Aaron Ramsey’s leg last season. But that was widely acknowledged as an accident. And everyone felt incredibly sorry that breaking Ramsey’s leg made you feel so upset. So for Wenger to bear a grudge against you, and to think that you’re a dangerous player, is a bit much. It’s all ancient history, innit? Water under the bridge, and all that rot.

And anyway, Ramsey’s doing okay, isn’t he? He was only going to be out for several months, and he’s got the rest of his career to look forward to. It might take him a year to get back to match fitness, and a few more season to catch up on lost development time, but he’ll get there in the end. So what’s the big deal that you crippled a promising young footballer when he was on the verge of making a break-through in his game? It was an accident, and accidents happen all the time.

A bit like that incident with Heurelho Gomes, I suppose. Foreigners don’t like it up ‘em, and that’s what Ingerland players do, innit? They stick it up ‘em. If foreigners don’t like, they can always go back to foreign-land.

I like Ryan Shawcross’ attitude, though: criticism doesn't bother me, unless it's a false accusation like this one. Bravo, Ryan. That’s the mental toughness we’ve come to expect from defenders from up north.

So on the 231st last day of my 20s, I went to work, worked, had dinner with a couple of friends from uni, went home. Need to get some sleep. Been listening to Celebration, from MGMT. It doesn’t have a stand-out song like Kids from Oracular Spectacular, but I like it. It’s quite complex, and layered, and strangely catchy. It’s like an electronic version of an Arcade Fire album.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Barca coulda, woulda, shoulda signed Cesc; but didn't

"Barcelona did all they could to sign me but Arsenal told me I had to stay, that there was no way they were going to let me go. In the end I had to stay — but the content of my conversation with Arsene Wenger will remain private."

- Cesc Fabregas, staying at Arsenal

I suppose this is the story of the day. Cesc Fabregas spoke to a paper and told them that Barcelona wanted him but Arsenal refused to let him go. Cesc Fabregas spoke to Arsene Wenger in confidence, and then he went to South Africa and won the World Cup. And then he came back to the Arsenal and played with an ambitionless team bouncing between 3rd and 4th place.

If you drain it of melodrama and concentrated on the facts, it's actually quite a prosaic story. Cesc wants to go home. Barcelona want him, but Arsenal don't want to sell. Cesc has a long-term contract. Cesc is professional enough that he won't go on strike, or refuse to play, or whatever. Cesc will stay at Arsenal until such time that Barcelona stump up enough money to force Arsenal to change their minds. This is a story that gets played out at every club in every league in every country in the world.

On one hand, I don't want to see Cesc leave unless we get proper compensation. Barcelona's final offer (£33m) is insulting. Cesc is a European and World Cup winner, the natural replacement for Xavi, and a symbol of Catalan superiority. He's priceless... or at least so pricey that he's worth much more than £33m.

On the other hand, I don't see the point of keeping hold of Cesc for another season if we don't capitalise on his talent. We have one of the best playmakers in the world on our hands. We could've reinforced the squad with a few choice signings, and had a major tilt at the league this year. But we didn't. We sat on our hands and bought in as many players as we let go. It's clear we don't have serious ambitions for the league. And it's clear that we didn't retain Cesc to help us win the league.

It's pretty disheartening for all concerned if the only reason we kept him was so we could get a better price for him next year.

So on the 232nd last day of my 20s, I talked to the GOMD for what will be the last time in 6 weeks. She's going overseas on the Friday. And I'm going overseas on the day she comes back. I'll miss her. She is very... special.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Miyaichi’s no Inamoto

Arsenal have just signed 17 year old Ryo Miyaichi. He’ll join us in December when his contract with Chukyo University expires. He’s a tricky left winger with speed, dribbling ability and an eye for goal. And from the only photo I’ve seen of him, he has the kind of awesome helmet hair that only an Asian can appreciate:

I think it’s remarkable the change in attitude with Japanese signings. I think the last Japanese player we bought was Junichi Inamoto in 2001. He played one season with us, was cut adrift, lit up the 2002 World Cup, and then spent the next eight years wandering around Europe. He’s currently back in the J-League with Kawasaki Frontale.

Back in 2001, Inamoto was largely seen as a commercial signing, someone who was foisted upon Wenger unwillingly. No one believed he was signed on footballing terms, and it didn’t help that he didn’t feature in many games. He was awesome in the World Cup, but by then, it was too late, and he’d already left the Arsenal.

In 2010, no one is suggesting that Ryo Miyaichi was signed for commercial reasons. Instead, Miyaichi is thought of as just another promising youngster who has been signed by a manager overly obsessed with youth. In the last nine years, Japanese players have earned the right to be considered “real” footballers, rather than commercial investments.

In the 9 years since the 2002 World Cup, we’ve seen a lot of really good Japanese players playing in the top leagues of Europe. From Hidetoshi Nakata at Roma, to Shunsuke Nakamura at Celtic, and now with youngsters like Keisuke Honda at CSKA Moscow, they started and starred at top clubs.

I think it gets easier for each subsequent generation to break through. The first few players are fighting perception and stereotype. It takes a remarkable talent to join a foreign club, in a foreign country, with a foreign culture, and then compete against 24 other professionals for a contact and playing time. And if a player has no frame of reference, no previous example of players who’ve done it, it’s extremely difficult to flourish.

As with the case with Inamoto, who had this to say about his time at Arsenal:

I don’t think Inamoto’s a bad player. He showed his ability in the 2002 World Cup, and he spent 8 years travelling the leagues of Europe. He probably wasn’t Arsenal first-team calibre, but if you look at our side in the early 2000s, it was remarkably strong. Not a lot of players in the world would’ve got into that side. However, Inamoto was awe-struck by the quality of the Arsenal (as was the rest of us) and couldn’t believe that he was worth a place in that side. So, he couldn’t make that leap from young hopeful to established squad player.

I don’t think Miyiachi’s going to have that problem. Firstly, because the players he’d be trying to displace are Nasri and Rosicky, not Pires and Ljungberg. Secondly, because there isn’t that inferiority complex anymore. Nakata and Nakamura have showed that Japanese players compete in the best leagues in the world. Honda showed as much ability as anyone else in the World Cup. Thirdly, no one thinks he’s been signed for anything other than his footballing talent.

It’s pretty amazing to see how far things have come.

So on my 233rd last day of my 20s, I worked, went home, napped, and woke up. Difficult to find stuff to write about in the interlull. Might go back to sleep, and maybe some interesting news will build up in the next few days.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Barcelona don’t really want Cesc

"Both the club and the player did as much as possible. Our second offer was €40 million. From the moment Arsenal said they didn't want to negotiate, we respected their position. We would have liked to have signed him, but we weren't able to negotiate. It wasn't a disappointment - it was simply impossible. Thanks to the conversations, we have re-established contact with Arsenal.”

- Andoni Zubizarreta, about Barcelona’s interest in Cesc Fabregas

So it turns out that Barcelona offered £33m for Cesc Fabregas, but we rejected them. They respected our position and didn’t make another bid. They just held microphones in front of all the Barca players and Cesc’s entire family and got them to ask Cesc to leave. That’s what principle looks like, Barcelona-style.

I’m surprised Arsenal would consider opening up dialogue with Barcelona again. Sure, Cesc is going to go back sooner rather later, but if I was Arsenal, I would’ve ignored Barcelona for a few more months and made them sweat a bit.

I’m not sure what’s going to happen in 12 months time. Barcelona are heavily in debt, but they’ve got the knack of pulling out a big signing every year. Barcelona don’t really need Fabregas at the moment, and Arsenal really need him now. But the frenzy around Cesc-to-Barcelona is so intense that Barcelona are obliged to make a serious bid every season. What’s the bet that Barcelona makes another £33m bid next season, shrug their shoulders when it doesn’t work, and then move on to find a replacement for Puyol?

In other news, The Sun is written by a bunch of idiots. The FA introduce a rule designed to promote home-grown players, and The Sun mistake it to be a rule designed to kick out every dirty, smelly foreigner from the pure fair lands of Ingerland. So they get a bit angry when Arsenal - which had the foresight to prepare for this rule five years ago - has a squad which is tailor-made for the new regulations. The Arsenal have a squad of 70 to chose from while Chelsea only have 19 players? You’re having a laugh, aren’t you?

So on the 234th last day of my 20s, I didn’t have to work. I have Fridays off now. Caught up with a friend I hadn’t seen in a year. He’s got an awesome job, travels all around the world fixing stuff. I realise that there’s more to it than that, but from the outside, seems amazing.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The home-grown rule will help us

I'm thinking about the FA's new home-grown rule. When it was first proposed, Arsenal were one of the only clubs who took notice of it. We planned accordingly, and invested heavily in youth. And now that the home-grown rule is in effect, it looks like it was worth the investment. When you consider the number of good-quality youngsters we can call upon, we've actually got one of the deepest squads in the Premier League.

I don't like it - I'd rather we went out and bought a goalkeeper, to be honest - but the bright side is that we're going to get a chance to see our kids play this season. Considering we're three games in the season and we're down to our last central striker, we're definitely going to see the likes of Chuks Aneke and Sanchez Watt fairly soon. And considering the injury-proneness of the rest of our squad, we're going to see the rest of them soon as well.

So it's kind of exciting.

And we probably have a significant advantage over most other clubs. When the games start piling up and the injuries mount, the rest of the league is going to be scrounging around for spare bodies from their academies. The Arsenal, however, will have the luxury of selecting from a cohort who have already had experience in the Carling Cup and have won youth leagues and FA Cups. So it might compensate for our lack of a quality keeper.

I remember the UEFA home-grown rule was one of the big considerations in Football Manager transfer strategy. It meant that I always scoured the world for the best European u-18s, so that they'd qualify as home-grown players. I derived a perverse pleasure from seeing a bunch of young Frenchies qualify as Arsenal home players. Eventually, I stopped buying experienced players and just stockpiled u-18s every year, hoping that some of them would make the grade. It was amazing to see these youngsters, whom I'd plucked from obscurity, turn into world-beaters. Makes you feel really proud.

I guess Arsene Wenger feels the same way.... only in real life.

So on the 235th last day of my 20s, I need to sleep. Been a long day. Wish it was tomorrow already.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

We haven't signed a new keeper

The transfer window's closed and we haven't signed a goalkeeper.

We're in terrible trouble. We were very, very close to signing a great goalkeeper, but we got priced out at the close of the transfer window, and we didn't have the time to look for another one. It's a shame, but what can we do? Arsene Wenger tried the best he can, and we can only applaud his tireless efforts to find someone who's better than Almunia or Fabianski.

It's a crying shame we don't know Superman. It would only take a few days to bid for a good goalkeeper, have the bid accepted, have a medical, and sign and present the new player to the public. Superman can reverse time by flying backwards around the Earth really fast, and give us the time needed to get the goalkeeper we need. It's a no brainer, but then again, if we buy Superman we're going to kill JET or one of our other kids.

It's a bit depressing, but then again, what can we do? We've a season ahead of watching Almunia concede near-post goals, fluff corners, get really anxious in big games and fall apart. And as an encore, when Almunia becomes "injured", we can always watch the comic stylings of Fabianski. We just have to grin and bear it, lay back and think of England.... they're even more of a fucking joke.

So on the 236th last day of my 20s, I went to work, left early, had dinner with my brother's family, and came home. Threw out a dodgy smelling lettuce that had been sitting in the fridge for a couple of weeks. Weighing up between tidying the house and going to sleep.