What did Wenger say about defenders, and the issue of bent football clubs

I am about to leave for a holiday for a couple of weeks – out of the rain of Northamptonshire to the sun of Italy.

During this time I am leaving the site open so that comments can be posted by those who have posted before. However anyone new posting, or anyone posting with a link elsewhere won’t get through (most of the spam that hits the site has links in it which is why that rule is put in).

I’ve taken other steps to try and stop the silly mob from messing up the debate – but some might get through. Sorry about that.

Anyway, maybe no one will have anything to say over the next two weeks, but if you do, please feel free – in relation to what lies below or anything else.

So, two points before the great journey south…

Yesterday a comment was left on the site which troubled me. Troubled me because it seemed to show that Arsene Wenger had come out with a very unusual statement – one very unlike him – which was something of a hostage to fortune.

The comment was that “At the end of last season [Arsene Wenger] claimed he’d identified the squad’s weaknesses and this would be rectified via the transfer market. He also said he wanted to keep the squad together, but add to it in crucial areas.”

I wrote back and asked to correspondent where this came from – hopefully not coming across too aggressively in my request, and certainly (in bringing this up again) not wishing to go high and mighty and point out some minor error in the quote or prove I was right.

Reports of what people say are not always exactly right, and often it is a slip of the memory, but also we all know how the press will manipulate (when not actually inventing) what has been said.

I have managed to find what I believe is the piece referred to, so here’s the original, taken from Arsenal.com on May 8 2008

‘Arsene Wenger has identified Arsenal’s key weakness this season – defending long balls.

The Arsenal manager is a renowned number cruncher and it’s no surprise that he has been scouring the statistics to find areas which must improve before the next title race gets underway in August.

Wenger has already acknowledged that his team have “lacked a bit of maturity” at times this season, notably when they surrendered the advantage in big games against Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester United. At the shareholdres (sic) Q&A this week, the Frenchman was more specific.

“I must say that we had among the best attack but [with one game to go] we have conceded 31 goals which is six or seven too many,” he said. “It’s as close at that to win the championship.

“We didn’t given more goals away than any other team in the League on open play, nor on set pieces, but where we gave more goals away was on direct balls, in the air, through the middle, and most of the time on second balls.

“On set pieces and open play we were as good as Manchester United and Chelsea. The numbers are available. But we have to rectify how we deal with direct balls. When a team just goes for long, direct balls, against us, we have to improve.”‘

Now what is interesting is that in the days following, that piece was reported on a number of blogs and in the press, but as it was reported, so the comments about buying players was added. In the original Wenger identified the problem – but he didn’t say that he would buy players to overcome that problem.

On other occasions, he did speak about keeping the squad together but on this I think we have to be slightly more cautious, because public statements about players are often mixed messages. Only a silly manager (I think here of the Renknapp variety) criticises a player he wants to get rid of. Doing that reduces the value, and so he talks the player up. I’m hardly working on the same planet as Wenger, certainly not in the same league, but if anyone criticises one of my staff I always defend them to the customer, irrespective of what I say in private. I think that’s quite common.

I’m not trying to say Wenger made a perfect call throughout last season, but trying to balance hindsight with what was known at the time. The club had ended up four points behind the winners, and (according to the boss) let in half a dozen more goals than they should, from long balls. It’s logical to stay with the squad you have – it was hard to foresee such a level of injuries in the midfield and defence as we got.


I have, from time to time, let slip that I feel that corruption is rife in football. Of course I can’t say, “word is that XX is ripping off money from club YY by taking a percentage on each and every transfer” because I’m liable to be sued and taken off the face of the blogsphere.

So when three ex directors of Derby County are sent to prison for fraud having taken over the club seemingly for this very purpose, it is an opportunity to look a little deeper.

The game was this: these professional men (accountants etc) took over the club that was in debt for £3 and put themselves in positions of power (chief exec, finance director etc) and then paid themselves £125,000 plus VAT each. They “forgot” to tell the board how much they were paid.

The money was then channeled around various off shore accounts and companies: an obvious fraud.

The judge, Ian Alexander QC, said of the three, “You, like so many people who commit business and professional crime, somehow give the impression that you do not believe the rules apply to you, and that what you do in your business life is perfectly acceptable.”

Now here’s the interesting bit, because the directions brought in a £15m cash injection via ABC Corporation, registered in Panama, but without anyone knowing the real source. Some say it came from Michael Hunt, the former MD of Nissan UK who got eight years inside for tax fraud. More illicit money sloshing around.

As we watch other deals go on, clubs change hands, directors move in with talk of pumping millions in, we never have any idea (or if we do but can’t say) which ones are real and which ones are using the club as a quick way to launder a load of cash. We know that people who commit frauds will then use the courts to their advantage, will bully and behave generally like Bates was found to have done recently with a Leeds director (although of course no one is saying Mr Bates is guilty of anything other than the libel of which he was found guilty and on which he has to be £1.5 million court costs plus damages.

My point is – when money emerges from unknown sources, when people come in to rescue a club, when previously unknown professionals talk big – sometimes there is something stinking underneath. Derby have just emerged from hell, but there are a lot of other clubs still being run by such men.

I’ll contribute some more thoughts in a couple of weeks – unless of course my hotel has an internet connection which is not overrun by old men try to do their own line banking.

Very last thought: Ayling apparently put in another great show last night at Lincoln, and scored the winner. I’ll stick with my prediction of him as the guy who breaks through this year. And Coquelin.

Best wishes, and thank you for reading.

Tony Attwood

99 Replies to “What did Wenger say about defenders, and the issue of bent football clubs”

  1. I was watching 2002 premier league.which arsenal played chelsea.cn we hv that kind of outstanding quad.we hv been having problem of Dm,CA.OH no i jst dnt wnt heart break.because it b a disaster 4 problems to come.blame the board do nt blame wenger.all the money goten wia is it.they is curruption in d board.

  2. enjoy the holiday Tony. Always nice to see that someone is taken care for what is really said.

  3. Tony, Wenger did say more than twice he wanted to keep the squad together. He also said we will buy defenders and players with experience.

  4. Have a great holiday mate. My holiday starts on the day of our opening game. Just need to explain to the family what we’ll be doing that afternoon.

  5. Your holiday means there will be little if any positivity across the web on Arsenal. For 2 weeks I will have to live with doom and gloom blogs and poor journalism.

  6. Try A Cultured Left Foot, Gooner. Apart from this site, it is one of the only other positive blogs.
    Now, how to view Nasri’s broken leg in a positive light……?. A chance for Barazite or Wilshire, perhaps.

  7. I think there is plenty of cover For Nasri. thats proberbly the Strongest position we have.

  8. I am unflinchingly optimistic until the mathematical possibility of the title has been confounded, and then I’m a realist and never a pessimist so the dreadful news for poor Samir has upset me but not dented my confidence.
    I’m upset for him of course, he’s had his bedding-in season and could have really shone this time round. Instead an injury interrupted season beckons and we saw what that can do to players in Walcott and Ade’s performances after they lost momentum thanks to injury.
    The thing which is so annoying is our stinking luck with injuries. One step forward two back it feels like sometimes.
    I agree with Faron; if TR7 stays fit and if Diaby is finally over his injury nightmares we are well placed, if not then I like Mingus’ attitude – bring on the youth.

  9. Have a great holiday Tony. And thanks for all the encouragement your blogsite give to the likes of us who want to keep our sanity in the face of so much gloom & doom erupting all over the blogosphere. I hope that you find internet connection over where you are going.

    We’ll see you in two weeks.

  10. mingus, I would add Arsenal Vision as the other positive Arsenal blog.

    Enjoy your well earned holiday in the sun Tony.

    Re the corruption in football, it’s only a small step from financial fraud in the board room to bribery to influence the outcome on the pitch, yet no one wants to take the possibility seriously.

  11. Oh yeah the dolce vita is great!

    Gelatos by the Lakes…….lovely.

    Nasri’s injury may have solved a Wenger headache for the start of the season.

  12. Ok Guys, i know its a bit lame, But Lets see who can get it right. To predict What Le Boss’s actual Side is going to be against The Toffee men (Remember: not what you want it to be). Assuming he doesnt buy another player that is.

  13. Faron,

    a bit of a pun there when you say its a bit lame,more importantly,we have to consider the old chestnut,injuries and of course 5 pre season games before we go to Everton.

    I have scanned Arsenal FC this morning for an update on injuries,and the screen is blank.Furthermore there are so many differing reports or fabricated stories about who is fit and who is injured.for example i read that vela had splintered a bone in his ankle whilst playing for mexico, and that he would be out for 6 to 8 weeks,and yesterday another report said,it was only bruised and he may miss out on the semi final.though having said that i doubt he would start.
    Playing it safe my team would be Almunia,Sagna,Gibbs,Toure Gallas,Denilson,Song,Fabregas,Arshavin,Bedntner and Van Persie.

    There is no news on Clichy,since he injured his back.

    The Senderos situation is a bit up in the air,will he stat?

    Fabianski apears to be injured so Mannone would be on the bench.

    Rosicky unfortunately will not be ready though he may make the bench.

    Eduardo,expected to play in The Emirates Cup


    Bit of fun,but at this time it’s a bit of a guessing game.

  14. Yes agreed. I was wandering if AW was to change things around a bit thats all. But he does love his 4-4-2 doesnt he. To be fair i was just starting something off. Do you think Gibbs could see off Clichy this season or is it a seson to early?

  15. Faron,

    I have been very impressed with Gibbs since he came into the side,and the unfortunate slip in the CL semi,didn’t seem to effect him the following game.

    We have a tradition of producing good left backs,but in both cases(Gibbs and Clichy)they are very attacked minded which especially in Clichy’s case,sometimes leaves him in no mans land when perhaps he has ventured to far upfield and is vunerable to the quick counter attack.I would think Clichy will remain first choice,but there is not much between them.

  16. Hi Faron, Adam Smith; Though there is not much between Clichy & Gibbs, however, Clichy still slightly shades it for me. And that is down to experience.

    Hopefully, Gibbs will continue to get games, probably as sub to enhance his experience. Then I have no doubt in my mind that the boy will eventually be better than Evra, Clichy and Cashely Cole all put together. He has supereme confidence and a good head on his young shoulders, which will stand him in good stead.

  17. I think Gibbo is likely to score a few more goals too. Even though its not priority. Clichy has a good attacking brain and cross’s the ball well, but he doesnt seem to stick it in the back of the onion bag as much as id like him too.

    Adam, your spot on with The left back thing. As far back as Kenny samsom for what i can remember. I feel for Traore a bit as he will be put out on loan again or sold.

  18. Doubt Traore will be sold, amazing prospect even on the left wing for us. And he is younger than Gibbs, albeit by a few months so time is on his side

  19. Nothing is wrong with Eduardo. He may start the next friendly. Why, in your opinions did the tabloids say he is out for Two month? Surely they know that is not what Arsene Wenger said. Why do they always have only negative news to carry about Arsenal? Why are they so intent on inciting the Arsenal fans to mutiny? Can you guys comment please!

  20. LRV, the reason is simple. Its the usual anti-Arsenal media trying to make the moaning Arsenal fans(can we call them fans??) to cry more for signings and for other clubs fan to cheer up… 🙂

  21. I dont believe for a second that its Anti Arsenal press, Every clubs supporters seem to say stuff like that, They cant dislike every team!

    I think it a lazy Journo reading last years news.

  22. Faron, I’m sorry if it felt rude but my point was that the Press has misinterpreted Wenger’s comment regarding Nasri’s injury on yesterday’s article on Arsenal.com.

    What Wenger meant was Eduardo is available for the two months that Nasri will be out. His actual comments were: “But the options are Tomas Rosicky who is back. And in [those] two months Eduardo will be back as well. We do have offensive options but we don’t want to lose important players before the season starts.”. This was mis interpreted by the press that Eduardo is injured.

    To recify this, there is a new article published today which says “Eduardo hungry for starting place on Monday” which also says ““Eduardo should play on Monday,” confirmed Arsène Wenger after the 7-1 win at SC Columbia earlier this week.”.

    Sorry for the strong words as I’ve been really pissed by the media during this off-season with articles of many of our players leaving this summer almost every day.

  23. Faron & IndianGooner: I do believe that it is a combination of both. Lazy journalism plays a big part. But I also believe that the press is yet to get over this accusation they leveled at Arsenal that we love playing foreigners rather than English/British players.

    I also think that they are not comfortable with the fact that Arsene Wenger, being French, enjoys so much support. No foreigner should rival their great ‘Sir Alex’. It would be huge news/sales for them were the fans to mutiny and request for, or engineer, the removal of Wenger.

    They go easy with ManU, Chelsea & Liverpool because their golden boys of the England set-up come from these clubs. Dont you guys think so?

  24. LRV, You have put some more points which I missed. During the last few years(or Wenger years in other words), the press have published more negative stories regarding Arsenal than positive and that is why I sometimes call them anti-Arsenal. Remember PV4 getting the stick initially when he got few red cards..

    Liverpool is no longer as favorites as they used to with the Press couple of years back. This was after the comments from Benitez last year during his bust-up with Sir Alex.

    I’m looking forward to a Great season for Arsenal with the players we’ve and will enjoy the pleasure of watching AA, Cesc, RvP, Dudu, Rosicky play the Wengerball we all Love and have been waiting for some time even though we saw glimpses of that during the last couple of seasons.

  25. LRV, I disagree. Time and time again i hear ‘They dont like us’ on radio stations forums and Sky sports. But i dont just hear it from Arsenal Supporters, I hear it from Liverpool, Man U, Aston villa, Chelsea and even the Spuds say it. I think its just an easy thing to say when there club is getting critisized or get bad/poor press.
    If you listen to talksport, you listen to how many supporters say those words during the season.

  26. I must admit that I do not listen to talksport at all. However, I still believe that Arsenal is especially targeted.

  27. Like I said in another reply in another thread: the English press doesn’t like “french” very much.
    Almost every year the tabloids have a good go at the “french” and their “strange habbits”, speccialy in the sumer season. And becouse The Arsenal has a lot of french players and, for God sake, a french manager it is an easy target.
    And if it would be just “lazyness’ from the reporters… then they are a living disgrace.

    PS: Being from Belgium, living in a country where the Frenc speaking minority has a lot more to say then the dutch speaking majority…I’m not a big fan of anything being French…in my country. But once past the border I’ve got no problem with nobody in the world, be them french, be them English or whatever country you may come from. 😉

  28. Glad to hear that Walter. I just sincerely hope that the boo boys will leave their boos at home and support the boys so that the team can perform and win something with “our wengerball” syle. Then the lot of them will shut up; and our club, team, and fans’ endurance can be vindicated.

  29. I’m not that familiar with the British press, though I read its flagship papers such as the FT, the Guardian and the London Times, so please correct me where my opinion is ill-informed.

    We’re talking about 2 separate issues: 1) whether the press is anti-Arsenal and 2) if so, whether it is because we’re “Afro-French.”

    For 1), I think the way Arsenal has been conducting business is very anti-glamor. Our stars aren’t the Ronaldo type on and off the pitch. The ones who wish to be such (Cashley) leaves sooner than later. We don’t do preseason tour in Asia or the US to promote our image. Our biggest star – Fabregas – spent his early years with an old Scot landlady and is dating his boyhood sweetheart. Theo is living with his parents and driving a Golf. The media want something like an astronomical transfer figure, a sex scandal, a player with a monstrous ego to put on their headlines. This culture makes us look agriculture and unattractive to the media. I guess the lukewarm relationship is natural that way, rather than a conspired bias.

    For 2), that Arsene and his French connection alienated the press (and fans of other teams) in the early years is indeed well documented. But if you put things in perspective, Arsene is now the second most popular figure with the media beside Ferguson. Arsene, I would argue, is now very British for the British public – a cosmopolitan technocrat, pragmatic and anything but exotic, albeit sometimes a “sore loser” (but as he slowly teaches us, great winners all are closeted “sore loser”).

    Our French players like Patric and Titi also earned respect and love from the public. But notice, these are not only excellent players, they are also great interviewees who understand what the media expect from them. They speak clear and straightforward English. Their body-language meets normal standards for what a footballer is supposed to be. They work to look like non-controversial, even boring, public figures.

    This is what Gallas, Ade and to an extent Kolo couldn’t achieve – and what I meant earlier by the cultural gap. These guys could not hide their private thoughts, emotion and cultural differences in talking to the public. They make themselves easy targets for being depicted as egocentric, unprofessional, and too exotic to be reliable.

    I guess any society has hidden prejudices that would make us cringe to know we actually have them. As fans it’s important for us to recognize and confront these prejudices head on. At the same time, players should also take their share of responsibility. They should know their limit and keep their profile low instead of fighting the power if communication is not of their strengths.

  30. Sadly Nhan Le I think you are correct. There is no point in hoping that the British press will improve, we just have to hope our less telegenic media savvie players are kept from the limelight.
    The players are quite tightly controlled, at least the younger ones appear to be. Witness the Nic Bendtner interview where the team PR person gave him a very stern dressing down for having gum in his mouth, pointing out that this wasn’t the first time he’d committed this heinous act during an interview – the whole thing was broadcast unbeknownst to either the PR woman or big Nic. It was quite an eye opener though, and makes it more surprising when some players make incautious remarks to a press core hungry for any hint of controversy.

  31. Oops Faron, I should recheck next time!! That being said, I think Gibbs is a bit overhyped because he is English. Traore had a fantastic first half of season with Portsmouth and is great going forward, although he may lack a bit in defence. However, Arshavin is the kind of player who always covers for the defenders, notcie how often he was in a left back position while Clichy/Gibbs were attacking. While his defensive talent is not great, he is willing enough to be there to at least stall the attack to allow other defenders rectify the situation. Same with Rosicky when we play him on the right, and this was how Wenger intended to allow us to play such attacking fullbacks. Hence, Traore can be a useful option for us, while Gibbs goes on loan to get some first team action.

  32. Nhan Le, looking at things from the outside you miss a lot of the nuances. The English hatred and suspicion of the French is deep and of long standing. Whilst it may appear to an outsider that Arsene is ‘accepted’ by the British, it is far from the reality. The press resent him for being so erudite and putting most of the ill educated morons with poison pens to shame so they are only ever waiting for an opportunity to stick the boot in and bring the Frenchman down to their level. I am also deeply disturbed by your last point because you are basically blaming the players for being ‘foreign’ whereas it is not their problem, but the problem of those xenophobes who can’t handle anyone who is not exactly like them or able to pass as one of them by denying a fundamental part of who they are.

  33. Tony – I don’t know whether you will be checking in during you holiday (if you are, are you mad?) but on the off chance that you do and you have not seen the newspapers, the Telegraph has reported today (Thursday) that Liverpool have been granted an extension on their loan with RBS while negotiations are ongoing. It does make you wonder if their financial position is so good why are RBS not willing to just lend them the money?

  34. Marc @ 1:13am – To be precise the Telegraph article did not say they were granted an extension to the loan. Rather the opening sentence beneath the headline states “Negotiations between Liverpool owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett and RBS over refinancing a £350 million loan may extend beyond Friday’s deadline.” Hope I am not being too pedantic.

    One thing abundantly clear this summer is Benitez has very little to spend compared to prior years. Lets discount the 17 Million the purchase of Glen Johnson as that figure seems to have been inflated to account for money still owed to Pool by Pompey. If they should lose any of their key players like Alonso and Mascherano as rumored, I am afraid they, not Arsenal, are the most likely to fall outside the Big 4.

  35. don’t believe the hype:

    I don’t blame players for being foreign. I blame a couple of them for not riding the wave. Part of getting people to understand you is to first understand what they expect from you.

    What I meant to say is this. If you look at Cesc and Arshavin (the latter with limited English), you’ll see how wise they are no matter what the interviewer throws at them. I don’t think myself can give better answers than they do regarding matters of 1) transfer, 2) my teammates’ performances and 3) my club’s transactions on the market. I think when you’re a “celebrity” and do not have that ability to be boring in front of the press, you should keep your profile low like Bac and Gael. They barely talk to anyone but the official site.

    On Arsene, I don’t see anything “French” about him being erudite and highly educational. If anything, stereotypes make you believe so. On the other hand the English tabloids may be loaded with shenanigans. But in which other countries are tabloids not so? I can also tell you that there are a significant minority over this side of the pond who hate anything intellectual it it appears to contradict the Good Book. Isn’t it quite a prejudice to assume that only the Brits have the right to be stupid?

  36. Concerning the “boo-fans”. If you come to the Emirates twice a year, like I do with the Arsenal Benelux fans, then I can assure you that I enjoy every second of it and that it never would come to my mind that on those rare and seldom occasions when I can see them live in action I would never ever boo one of my players or the manager. Every chant I sing along and I try to make as much noise as I can. The soar troath is for the next day. 😉 I think a lot of those boo-fans just dont realise how lucky they are that they can see them play almost every week.
    The only time I boo at the Emirates is when that old, retarded and blind referee gets it wrong again 😉
    Mmmmmmm, I cant wait to the season to begin and over here the tension of knowing wich games we will have tickets for is rising.

  37. Aaditya, I dont reckon Arsene thinks Gibbs is overhyped. He’s not scared of big tackles thats for sure.
    I think the trouble with Clichy and Traore is the fact they see going forward is the priority. Dont get me wrong mate i think Traore will be world class, and id love for him to stay. But he’s very much like Clichy. I also wonder if he’s thinking of using Traore as a out and out winger? I saw Portsmouth using him there against the Spuds, and i think he got on the score sheet.

    On the Press issue. Everywhere you go, wether it be Spain, Italy or America. they all have xenophobic papers. We need to get over it. It will never go away.

    But i still think your all wrong with this Anti-Arsenal thing.

  38. @ Faron – Yes, Traore did score against Spurs and Pool playing on the wing, and I suggested the possibility of playing him there. If our slightly defensive minded fullbacks (Silvestre and Sagna) play with Walcott and Traore on the wings, it’s an intersting case for a 4-3-3 with Eduardo up front, although in truth, this could take at least 4 years to materialize

  39. Hi Everybody! Sorry I disappeared yesterday. Some emergency came up that took me away.

    Faron: I apologise for my rant at 4:08pm yesterday. I had just finished speaking with an Arsenal fan who admitted that he was one of the boo boys. I made him realise the effect the booing was having, definitely adverse, on the player, and the ripple effect that has on the team in general. So when I was commenting straight after that discussion, my thoughts overflowed unto the comment. I hope you guys know that it was not directed at any of you.

    Nhan Le: Your first point at 5:58pm yesterday was a good point. I admit that our team is not, all things considered, a glamour team. We do not have the peacocks, a la Ronaldo, etc. This may be boring for the press, which may, in effect, breed negative coverage.

    Your 2nd point, as clarified by your comment of 3:43am today, is also a valid one in my opinion. The French/English suspicion, and hatred (for want of another word), go a lot deeper than we can fathom. I experienced the hostility first hand when I went to France with my wife. I will not even pretend to be able to explain it. The mistrust is deep. Players must, however, be professional enough to learn the ‘gift of the gab’.

    Arsene is very astute in his handling of not only the press, but his fellow managers as well. That’s how he got the respect of Alex Fergie. One thing that I am begining to be sure of is that the English press will not stop egging Arsenal fans to mutiny against Wenger. This is so that they can them say “We told you Sir Alex Ferguson is the best manager in the premiership.”

    The press will always be the press, whichever country you go. However, deep seated sentiments and perceptions do always play a big roll in their xenophobia.

  40. The reason we are not good enough is that we are taking full advantage of our youth system. The likes of Ramsey and Wilshare, even Sympson are playing regularly is just a waste. Going forward, we should look for new players at 15-17 years of age only. Anyone older than 28 should be cleared out right on their birthdays. Also, we need to apply the same policy to non-playing staff. Coach should not be over 45. Board members over 55 should be shown the door, too. I believe youthful body and mind would suit us much better!

  41. Not sure my last post will show up. If it does, it was just a joke. Every summer has been frustruting. I guess we have to get on with it. I just need to point out one thing that the days we can discover sheap raw talents are gone. Everybody has learned the trick. AW needs to come up something new, something creative. We all know money is not out strong point.

  42. Name an example of another club that has ‘learned the trick’ of unearthing unheard of talent in the style of Arsene Wenger please? What is frustrating about the summer apart from a lack of football and pointless lies and speculation in the press?
    The only downside to this summer has been Nasri’s injury. With EDS and TR7 back I cannot wait for the next season, and there’s the small matter of us signing the Ajax captain…

  43. Hopefully tonight we will see Eduardo back in action. -:8 cant wait. And also some more of Rosicky. Ramsey looked good last week and I think he will be stepping up this year.

  44. Steww, There is no one like Wenger in that way is there. Which is a great Talent to have. However i would like to start seeing the benefits of the Youth that are coming through as The Club have put so much Time and money into this Academy.

  45. This season, I seriously suspect, is our season.

    Yo Tony! If you are reading this, I hope you are enjoying your holiday. I have emailed a piece to you. If it is possible to, could you please help put it up so that we can have something fresh to debate? Cheers!

  46. LRV
    Looking forward to reading that. But tonight should give us something to debate. Oh boy am I looking forward to it.

  47. velavelavelavelavelavelavelavelavelavelavelavelavelavelavelavela
    this is what you’d be hearing if you turn youtube on to look for the Mexico-USA game. he was a class difference from everyone else in the game and the joy for Mexico. one hallmark chipped goal and 2 assists – absolutely amazing.

  48. Enjoyable first half tonight. Nice to see the sharpness in front of goal already, both Nic and Eduardo looking deadly. Obviously it’s only a friendly, a glorified training session really , but some players are looking great. Traore looks like he’s very quick and has put in some great crosses and Ramsey is everywhere. Denilson, of course is just calm and controlled, like the pulse of the team, you might not notice it all the time but boy would you miss it.

  49. Hhan Le – Agreed. Vela is class, period. Talk about “a cultured left foot.” The Americans made the mistake of not keeping a defensive minded wing-back in front of him at all times and they paid, big-time. The only problem for Arsenal is Mexico being in a dog fight to qualify for the World Cup and Vela will be flying back and forth in the early part of the season, starting with the qualifier vs the USA in Mexico on August 12th.

  50. Vela will be world class. I saw some pictures on youtube and he looked good. He is getting stronger aswell and his body is looking like a man now, which wasn’t the case a year ago. His skills have always been great. Looks good.
    A fit Eduardo will always score goals, lets hope and pray he stays fit.
    Bendtner is looking great at this point. He scores all different types of goals: simpel tap in, rounding the keeper, header, shot from outside the box…. if he can keep his composure and coolness he is showing now and bring it on in the PL he can score +15 goals.
    And then we still have Van Persie, Arshavin, Walcott, Vela…
    Strange game yesterday: we didn’t start that good but we were lethal in front of goal. In the second half we tore them apart but messed up when we had to take our chances.

  51. Bendtner/Eduardo combination up-front was lethal for Arsenal in the 1st half yesterday. But Eduardo/RVP combo did not work as well in the second half. I hope we get several combos to work. Our attack will then be awesome.

  52. Not often you can say Arsenal weren’t all that – but they were lethal in front of goal. Maybe it’s plan ‘B’! I know it was just a warm up but it’s still great to be watching the team again.

  53. LRV,
    I don’t disagree with you but remember it was more a fitness and training game and at 4-0 up at half time our forward line was in cruise control.Not a time to be too critical.

  54. Looks like AW has all but confirmed that Kolo will be leaving for Abu Dhabi Citeh. After yesterday’s match he said that we have 6 or 7 centerbacks and we’ll all know more in 24 hrs. With the reported 15-16 mill, that’s abt 40 mill we’d have taken from City for, at the end of the day, two average players. Kolo has never been the same since he got malaria after the last African Cup of Nations. And I think he’s probably been a little distracted with the whole Gallas thing and his form has suffered. No one can say that he’s the same player he was when he was part of the invincibles. He makes too many mistakes and I think everyone would have liked Gallas to have played near the end of last season rather Kolo in all those big games. That shows how much he’s fallen. I like Toure. I think he tries to give his all for us all the time but sadly the man is not the player he once was. He’s humble, works hard and shows he has a real passion to be an Arsenal player. It might just be that he’s gone stale and a change of scenery for him and little more in the coffers for us will do everyone good. I still think we’ll see a couple of more departures. Senderos and Eboue are probably at the top of the list as well. Silvestre…maybe. AW coyly mentions that he’s looking at “opportunities” to bring in players. Usually he doesn’t give anything away. I reckon we’ll see at least 2 new faces before the window closes. There is NO CHANCE that we potentially let 3-4 players leave and not spend at least part of that money.

  55. I’m quite pleased with Eduardo and Nic, at least regarding their converting ratio. 2 of their goals yesterday were highly technical (Nic’s header and Ed’s shot to the post) and would have gone in whoever the keeper was. So as Adam said, in a tougher game when defenders are better, we might not have scored 4 by half time. The techniques on show were still a very promising sign.

    I’m worried about the defense. We were shaky even against relatively unimaginative opponents. All of our CB seemed able to win one-on-one situations, in the air or on the ground, but there was a lack of good positioning and balance – whether it’s Toure-Djourou or Gallas-Vermaelen. I really hope the team sort this out as quickly as possible.

    Senderos was surprisingly confident in midfield – strong, good with anticipation and confident with his dribbling. He’ll need to be more alert and consistent with his passing to be a serious contender for that holding position, though. I had good memory of Senderos winning our last FA cup and would want him to have another chance for staying with the team. That chance is unfortunately looking thinner by the day.

  56. @Adam Smith: I am not critical at all. I like what I saw, combo-wise, in the first half. I just want the players to develop several partnerships that will put us just one step above the rest.

  57. Arsene Wenger surprised us when he successfully converted Kolo Toure to Centre Back. I suspect that he may yet surprise us again. I also suspect that Djourou may play more than a bit part role this season. I’ll wait to be proved right or wrong as the case may be.

  58. Le boss has announced that we have plenty of cover for Kolo when he departs, With 6-7 centre backs. That to me tells us that he wont be signing Hangeland. Shame, I think we could do with the height. As most of our Centre backs are quite small. Still Maybe Arsene has a Master Plan?

  59. Faron: I can only think of Two reasons why Wenger may not want Hangeland.
    1. Purely to do with lack of pace. Arsenal often keep high-line defence that require pacy defenders to quickly track back in cases where forwards get behind our defenders. However, If he could use Silvestre, who is slower, I see no reason why he should consider Brede too slow.
    2. He may want to give Djourou more playing time. Bringing in Brede Hangeland may stifle this plan.

    I can’t think of any other reasons. However, as I said yesterday, he may yet surprise us pleasantly.

  60. To be honest Djourou was beginning to look like the real deal to me last season. With TV now on the books and the vast experience of Gallas and Sylvestre, the shield of our new DM Senderos(!) and back up from Song, well … even if the media speculation about Toure is true I think we’re fine.

  61. Arsenal died the day Patrick Vieira left. He was a leader and a smart man. He knew they were in decline so upped and left for Italy to win loads of trophys, something he wouldnt of done at Arsenal. I think he found Wengers obsession with youth tedious, and with no markee signings (only Arshavin since) he wanted to get out of there quick. Big up to Thierry Henry for staying the extra couple of seasons, he gave it his all but just wasnt good enough, so like Vieira, he left for another country and has won trophys galore since. I agree with what people are saying, Arsenal are in decline, and this season will probably see them slip out of the top 4. Next Fabregas and Van Persie will be sold to fund that huge massive debt they have for The Emirates and before you know it, we could actually have another Leeds/Newcastle on our hands, although chances are a rich Arab or Russian will come in to stop the rot.

  62. Is anyone Sad or Bothered that Kolo has gone. I for one think it was a good time for kolo to go. Since he caught Malaria and came back from the AN he hasnt been the same. I havnt been sad to see a player go since TH left. But i thought we missed a trick when diarra left.

  63. Well folks, Toure is gone. Bye bye King Kolo! The last of the ‘Invincibles’ is gone. Thank you for your love for the Arsenal and your true dedication, as well as your excellent service. You will be fondly remembered.

  64. Folks, this may be odd, but I have a feeling that Le Boss does not want to go through the agony of loosing any player to the African Cup of Nations this season. Two potential losses to the ACN have already been sold, Adebyewhore and King Kolo. Rumour has it that Eboue, another potential ACN loss, may soon follow. If that is true, no ACN loss. Doesn’t it look plausible?

  65. Look at the date of the ACN from 10th untill 31 januari and then look at the fixture list for that period. Fa cup games+carling cup + Bolton, Everton, Villa, MU, Chelsea and Liverpool in that period or just after that.
    In that period we will also have our usual injuries so it could well be that we loose 6 or 7 players in that period of the season which could brake us down.
    So now maybe it only will be Song that is missing and who will be missed.
    I would like to make a bett that if AW signs someone, it would not be an African player.
    I remember he was already annoyed a few times and expressed is feelings about the timing in the middle of the European season.

  66. I have deliberately refrained from making any comment about our recent transfers because these are generally business decisions by the club that we as fans have very little insight. Given how our club keeps its transfer business very secretive, this is a statement of fact, not an opinion. However there has been such hysteria and emotionalism in the blogs about the Ade-Kolo transfers I think a little perspective is warranted. Some common threads:
    * The transfer of a player is both a business and footballing decision. Fan like or dislike of a player is not a tipping point in the process. If that was so, Sylvestre, who is roundly slagged in most blogs, would have been shown the door with Ade, while Kolo who is a fan-favorite would have been retained.
    * Arsenal, like any properly run club, will always take advantage of the opportunity if there is a club willing to pay over the odds for any player. Man Utd did the same with Ronaldo while unwilling to pay over the odds for Tevez. Similarly Milan was willing to part with Kaka. Fans may wish to engage in self delusion and revisionist thinking, by slagging the departing player as a mecenary or whore, but as far as the club is concerned the sale price exceeded the value of the player. Good Bye and Good Luck.
    * Every player has his price regardless of his proclaimed loyalty to a club. Cue Kolo Toro. It may make it easier to overcome the grief of losing a favorite player by denying the lure of money but it is what is, DENIAL.
    Fortunately for Arsenal Football Club, AW has built a youth system that is second-to-none in England. Unlike all of its competitors, the club does not have to splash mega-cash in the transfer market to replace good players lost on transfers. Rather, we have an excellent track record of promoting from within, along with one or two key purchases, and not lose our competitiveness and ability to challenge for the top prizes in England and Europe. Of course the media and bloggers will spread doom and gloom about our imminent demise, only to be proven consistently wrong over the past four years.

  67. shotta-gunna: In Adebyewhore’s case, selling him is both a footballing and business decission by the club. For the fans, it is a welcome relieve. I am an ardent advocate of supporting our players who want to play for us. But when a player does not show any desire, does not put in any effort, becomes disruptive, values his own ego more than the team’s collective goals, then he deserves everything he gets from the fans. You see, we, the fans, put in our hard earned money to watch the team play (even those who have never been to the stadium pay sky or some other TV station to watch), we bear the disappointment of each failure, and the pain of opponents gloating at our expence on occassions. For Adebayor to shift the blame of his failure on us is hard to swallow.

  68. Shotta-Gunna
    The reason Why Adebayor was critized by supporters, Is that he openly flirted with other Clubs.

    Also, who are these players “who got promoted within”.

  69. Almunia, Clichy, Djourou, Cesc, Denilson, Song, Walcott, and in the near future Bendtner, Vela are players who came to blossom form within when older players left. You could also say this was the case with Adebayor.
    I personnaly think AW will buy. Check the last sentence in arsenal.com : “The official confirmation of any new addition will appear first on Arsenal.com.”
    This would only appear if Arsenal and AW are trying to buy someone. If they would have no intention of buying someone they could have left this sentence from the site.

  70. Only three of those players you mentioned actually came through the ranks (Cesc), all the others were bought and put in to the reserves. Vela Hasnt claimed his place in the side (But no doubt he will). Djourou hasnt concreted his position yet.

    Like i said before we are only just reaping the benefits of the Youth system.

  71. Im getting so Argumentative. i hope Tony comes back soon so i can read summit intresting.

  72. Isn’t coming from the reserves or youth and getting in the first team “promoting from within” ? Anyway thats how I understand it.

  73. Yogi Warrior from A Cultured Left Foot has a great article on Denilson.


    I know Tony is a big fan. So am I, but I also like Song very much. We know from Diarra and Gilberto how difficult it is to keep players when they do not get a game. Two players for one position is fine, but I hope that we do not acquire a third!

    We have four players for attacking midfield, Cesc, Rosicky, Diaby and Nasri. The only area I see a problem is right back. Eboue sure looked like he was leaving after the Hanover game. Maybe Justin Hoyte is ready to step up? Anyone know what he has been up to?

  74. Football has lost a gem in Sir Bobby. May his soul rest in peace.

    Faron: not long to wait now! Just a few days more and Tony will be back.

    This De Rossi stories; how in God’s name do this papers come up with so much rumour?

  75. Our attack is looking magnificent. Our kids are displaying precocious talents. Jack rips the opponent apart. Eduardo is… well… like a new signing. Merida plays like he just loves Fabregas to bits. Arshavin? Plays almost like he’s from another planet. I won’t even say a word about fabulous Fabregas. Song puts a few doubters to shame. Hell, even Mr hugehead (Silvestre) puts in a decent defensive show.

    The prem? Oh yes, we can!

  76. This was harwarming performance today agains a side like we are going to meet a few in the PL.
    Football is a teamsport but you couldn’t ignore some outstanding performances today.
    Cesc: he lookes sharper then a year ago and I think after his setback year he will come to the years where he will deliver everything he promesed to be.
    Arshavin: sometimes you think where has he gone and then he gets involved and he tears the opponents to peaces.
    Eduardo: how nice to see him play as he does for the moment. I’ve broken my leg playing football when I was young (centeruys ago 😉 ) and I know how important that 2nd operation would be because all that orthopedic material is important at first but once healed it hampers your movements and stiffens your bones to much: Eduardo is back in town and he will score.
    Wilshere…. well what can you say. I once described him as a copy from Dennis Bergkamp, then he looked to have the same quality like Cesc and I even see signs of Liam Brady in him as well, sometimes I see hem doing things that Johan Cruyff did when he was his age or even older…. the way he played today at times he looked like a younger Lionel Messi version… well lets just say : He is just Jack Wilshere and he will be a great star on the world stage of football in the future. And we have the privilege to have seen him blossoming and coming trough our ranks and be proud of him.
    The rest off the team also was up to it and Fran Merida also made a big impression today, he’s not affraid to shoot from outside the box (sometimes a miss in our game) and has good vision as well and is a good passer of the ball and looks strong for his age aswell.
    The future looks bright, the future is ours: Go Arsenal, go Gunners, go Gooners.
    Looks like I’m getting a bit carried away, aint it. 😉

  77. walter – Nothing wrong in getting carried away from time to time. As for Jack all we need to do is give him time, the only thing I can see holding him back is unrealistic expectation fortunately in Wenger we have someone who will do the right thing however long it takes.

  78. Indeed one wishes that Jack plays week in week out and delivers, but that just is not possible. The problem is, that every time he gets his chance… he just shows us his quality and its like a drug in a way… you always want more.
    But I really hope that he gets his chance a few times this season… and that he delivers on those occasions.
    But he is in good hands, maybe the best hands we and he could wish.

  79. I waited patiently for the Emirates Cup to show me what my team can do. Now I can’t help getting carried away or over the top, at least until the Valencia game. Why? Because the blooming doom & gloomers wound me up all through the off-season. Those kids basically rammed it up their throats. And… Oh yes! Heaven knows we can. I will cheer our boys till kingdom come.

    All hail to our new ‘Liam Brady’

  80. I too had been waiting for the Emirates Cup for the last week or so and it really paid off.. Everyone looked like they had to prove we’re a strong team and they did well even though it is just pre-season. I really loved the way we played in the last couple of games. It reminded me of the invincibles. The way they interchange positions, the fluid movements, the link-up.. it all reminded of the team of few years back. Wengerball is back to its best..

    Other good points were the performance of the Younger of the young guns(Wilshire, Merida, Watt, Ramsey & Traore) and the return of Rosicky & Dudu. Dudu was back to his best and Rosicky wanted to make up for the lost time. Eboue too played very well and I’m begging Wenger not to sell him. We need him. He can be a back-up to Sagna as well as give something to the attack with his runs. Moreover, he keeps the ‘fun-factor’ in the team.

    This season is going to be a good one and I’m even more excited for it than I was couple of weeks back.. I would say we’re better equipped this time than others.. Struggle to finish 4th?? No way, I would say we would fight for the title.. This Emirates Cup is the start of a Magical Era for Arsenal FC.. 🙂

  81. Faron, where are you mate? You are very right. We are just reaping the benefits of the youth system.

  82. I’m not sure if anyone else has noticed but since the first games I think our front line is doing a great defensive job as well. I’ve seen them chasing the defenders and denieing them time and space. And bij chasing I dont mean the strolling on the pitch like Ade used to do but really putting them under the pressure. To do this you have to do it like a team and they look like a team these days. On many occasions when we lost the ball, we gained it back rather quickly with that approach.
    I think it’s important we keep doing this.

  83. If we scream for expensive signings, lets just check, how much it would cost us if we didn’t buy those kids, and we buying them now….
    How much would cost Cesc now, RvP, Clichy. What will be price of Jack, Aron and Fran after this season… What is price of Gibbs and Traore….
    For me they worth even more than all Citeh signings + you dont have to worry how they will adjust to your play … they are ours anyway.
    One silverware won, more to come..

  84. Armin Medic, exactly right!
    Imagine what the media would have to say if we signed from another club some of the younger players who are on the verge of breaking into the 1st team. How much would we have to pay for Djourou in a season where mediocre defenders (no offense to him, but eg Michael Turner from Hull) are being talked about as multi million pound signings? How much for Wilshire or Merida? How much for Song?
    I for one am much more optimistic about the forthcoming season after spectating at the emirates cup.
    As a fully signed up memeber of the lord wengers supporters club I dont give the ranting and gibberings of the doom and gloom merchants much weight at all in terms of where we finish this coming season (we’re going to be behind city…. villa will overtake us… we’re at a level of the smaller mid-league teams… blah blah blah) but my opinion of our easy hold of at least 4th spot with the possibility of better, has metamorphised into – at our best we are at least a match for anyone else and allowing for a bit of luck with injuries (and please God, we’re owed surely…) we’ll be pushing all the way again. Top two for sure. Champions? we’re in with as good a chance as anyone!
    strength in depth? tick.
    creative players? tick.
    ability to switch tactics to unlock stubborn defence? tick.
    quality defenders? tick.
    greatest manager in the world? you bet your sweet ass!

  85. Absolutely agree, Christianjimmy, that we will push for top 2 all the way this season.

  86. Indian Gooner, Spot on mate.
    Armin Medic. Right on the money.
    Cristianjimmy haha brilliant mate.
    LRV. Im still recovering from what i saw at the weekend, What a performance by the wee Fella. What A goal by Ashavin. What a return by Eddy and Thomas.

    To be honest guys im completely overwhelmed by it all and very excited for the Premiership to begin.
    I have a funny feeling people are going to see JW play a lot more weather you like it or not. He didnt play 135 minutes for nothing.

  87. Waltergooner: I too saw the noticeable difference where everyone was tracking back. And once I can swear I saw Eddy coming into the midfield to defend! Perhaps Wenger decided this as a better way to defend rather than buying new players as many(or few??) suggest..

  88. Starting line-up in the Ranger game: in midfield and attack, everyone except Song was of Cesc’s height or shorter – and we played against a team that would resemble a muscular mid-table muscular EPL team.

    On the one hand, I don’t think we have even seen half of the possible number of formations the Arsene can put out there. On the other hand, the message he’s sending to his younger players (a message that the media would never understand): keep the ball on the ground and height won’t matter. As you all point out, our attacking players worked hard to crowd out opponent’s possessions when they lost the ball. This tactic significantly limited the number of direct balls into Arsenal’s box – our one obvious weakness in the game. In other words, the solution to direct balls seem not to be putting taller and stronger players in midfield but to nullify the launchers of hoofs by faster, more enthusiastic runners up front. Working just fine so far.

  89. And then to think that Tony missed all that. He will be delighted I can imagine. 😉
    I also think the Rangers game was the biggest test from the preseason. They would be a decent midtable team in the EPL, play the kind of football those teams play and we outplayed them.
    If we can keep defending as a team with all the players working we force those teams to give the ball back to us or they hoist it forward just to get rid of the buzzing mosquitos that are surrounding them. It takes a lot of energy but with the options we have to bring on fresh legs in the same position we should be fine and continue this for 90 minutes.

  90. I agree, what we sow against Rangers is, probably something, we ll be faced to, in at last, 20 games trough season.
    Just now I cant wait to see how will Vermaleen look beside Gallas in “real” game…(I guess Valenica will be best to test)
    Did anyone notice, but seams to me Silvestre turn to be decent player in friendlies we played. Not spectacular, but he won all he had to. And as well playing on full back he had decent role, as defender and in attack.

  91. Hi Tony, this is more in relation to the original article rather than the following discussions.
    I am pretty sure that Wenger came out after the loss to Chelsea at the Emirates and said he would invest in defenders. I remember the BBC headline “Arsene Vows to Strengthen” or something like that.

    This summer he has been pretty open about his intentions and targets in the transfer market. I wonder why.

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