Where will we play the Champs League game, and Wenger has fun with another vapour transfer

By Tony Attwood

Sorry Walter – the chance of a trip down the road for the qualifying game has gone.  We’re off to Turkey.  But exactly where in Turkey I am not sure.  There seems to be quite a bit of info around saying the old stadium iof our opponents s being remodelled with difficulty because it is a site of historic importance, and the new stadium isn’t going to be ready until October.  But undoubtedly all will become clear.

As the seeded team we will play away in the first leg – as always.  And we should have our German contingent ready for the game.  My thinking throughout has been that they are being eased back in to be up and running for this game.  As Mr Wenger said, you can get them back quickly and then lose them again in September, or you can give them a good holiday and then watch them develop through the season.

Theo won’t be available for these two games – but he is going to be available at the end of the month and the papers will then start talking about a crisis at Arsenal as the superstars complain that they are not all being selected for each match.

So this is it – the qualification round for the sixth time.  But we’ve never played  Besiktas before – which meant that I spent a good half hour trawling through the anniversary files on the Arsenal History site for nothing this morning.   Huh!

Anyway, the press are rolling out all that we would expect.  I won’t bore you with all of it, but here is the Independent: “The Gunners were forced to qualify for the Champions League via the play-offs…”   Forced.  ???   No, we came fourth, and that is what happens if you come fourth.

So what have we got on our hosts, apart from difficulty in locating where we are going to play?  Not much I’m afraid except they have Demba Ba in the squad and they are managed by the old West Ham defender Slaven Bilic,  They beat  Feyenoord in the last round.

The Super League in Turkey starts on 30 August so these preliminary games have cut into their summer holidays, which maybe means they are a little less ready – although they have had to play one round already.

Elsewhere, Celtic, who were beaten by Legia Warsaw are back in the draw as the Polish team fielded an ineligible player,   Legia Warsaw are appealing on the grounds that the punishment is far too severe.

Here’s the draw as it stands at the moment.

  • Maribor v Celtic
  • Salzburg v Malmo
  • Aalborg v Apoel
  • Steaua Bucharest v Ludogorets
  • Slovan Bratislava v BATE Borisov
  • Besiktas v Arsenal
  • Standard Liege v Zenit
  • Copenhagen v Bayer Leverkusen
  • Lille v FC Porto
  • Napoli v Athletic Bilbao

And so on to the latest vapour transfer.  Arsenal are getting good at this, taking the micky out of both the press and our rivals in the Prem.  Mr Wenger said that Man U were in the hunt for him, just as Thomas Vermaelen was sorting out the carpets for his new home in Qatar funded Barcelona.  I like that.

The reasons were simple: Barce with all their gas money offered £5m more than Man U.  And the weather is nicer in Barcelona.

The papers will of course all scream that we need another centre back – and maybe we’ll buy one, but we saw some fairly good playing in the defence in recent games, and it would be a shame to hold anyone back.  Of course the vapour could be a phantom, and maybe its a double double bluff but I suspect Arsène Wenger had matters pretty much lined up all the time.

What was so funny in all this was that what Mr Wenger actually said was, “Have we received bids? Yes. I can’t tell you who from but you will know very soon.  Are Man United one of the teams to have made an offer? I think they could be in the group.”

Now that is not a statement that says “Man U are getting TV.”   Not at all.  But that is what the press made of it.

Mr Wenger has also been having a chinwag over FFP, suggesting that several clubs are getting worried about what they can spend and how.

Here’s one of the most interesting bits of his commentary.   “Uefa has lost power because of Europe, because you can have alternatives to go to court outside of Uefa and not everybody accepts the decisions from Uefa. Uefa has to be a bit cautious as well because of television’s financial power. If you kick a club like PSG out [of the Champions League] because they don’t respect FFP, the French TV companies will go to Uefa and say ‘Look, we want our money back’.”

A good summary of where we are I thought.

Finally, just to clear up another left over issue: Djourou.  He has now finally left the club.  The transfer was going through, but there were a few last minute ups and down.   He’s gone to Hamburg.

The books

The complete Arsenal Anniversary series is to be found on the Arsenal History Society site.


21 Replies to “Where will we play the Champs League game, and Wenger has fun with another vapour transfer”

  1. We finally have the squad to play all these games so barring injuries, i am not too worried. Arsene Wenger will surely use his full squad this season to maximum effect, let’s hope all the players are on board and want to set new standards.

    This FFP issue is a joke really. (Was going to write more but)…

  2. A spot more info and the stadium details resolved

    Beşiktaş JK v Arsenal FC
    Tuesday 19th August 2014
    Kick Off: 21.45 local time (19.45 UK time)
    To be played at Atatürk Olimpic Stadium, Turkey

    Match Day 2

    Arsenal FC v Beşiktaş JK
    Wednesday 27th August 2014
    Kick Off: 19:45 UK time
    To be played at Emirates Stadium

  3. Tony you mention “The papers will of course all scream that we need another centre back – and maybe we’ll buy one, but we saw some fairly good playing in the defence in recent games, and it would be a shame to hold anyone back.”

    Well first of all it’s not the papers that scream. It’s the wish of the vast majority of Arsenal fans. When you lose your 3rd choice centre back you simply have to replace him at least with an equal quality one.

    Second, we saw poor play from Monreal (although not his fault as that’s the position that suits him the least), we saw some good play from Chambers but the problem here is where he will deputise primarily? Right back, central defence of defensive midfield? We have also seen some promising play by Hayden but I think the boy can be fourth choice this season.

    And third, with all due respect “would be a shame to hold anyone back” shows your weak point. Too much positive sentiment on anything that has to do with our existing squad. Unfortunately teams in modern football can not progress if they think that way. Being a top team you should be able to offload the weak links (i.e. Jenkinson, Djourou etc) I hate to see Jenko leave but this was the right thing to do.

    I believe Wenger will go for a decend experienced central defender.

  4. @Yiannis

    Yiannis’ comment ‘… you should be able to offload weak links…’ in response to ‘… would be a shame to hold anyone back…’ is reminiscent of what we learned in history a while back; when some militaristic regimes killed or abandoned children considered physically defective so they could have a superior fighting force. Yiannis ought to change his profile picture from that dove to something more appropriate to the ruthlessness that he seems to champion. Wonder how he responded to the Ramsey coming back from a horrific injury and Diaby? “Weak-links”? What I love about Arsenal is that they do not mindlessly adopt such assumptions as “…. in modern football….” If we lose sight of our humanity what would this sport be worth? That is why Wenger is such a venerated manager by world-wide players and fans! Perhaps, I unfairly read too much into Yiannis’ statements and do so purely on the merits or demerits of this one comment. If this is the case I hope this comment is viewed as a friendly nudge; otherwise, my comments stand as they are.

  5. Apologies. Maybe I’m just feeling grumpy this afternoon, but here goes:

    As far as the ‘Vapour’ transfer goes, we have no idea of the size of the final bid United put in to compare to Barcelona’s. It is accepted from most media sources I have read that Vermaelen to United was only going to be sanctioned as a -player plus cash- deal (Smalling?), which United were unwilling to do.

    Logically, if they were willing to make the trade on our terms, Vermaelen would be heading up the M40/M6 for a medical instead, and the selling to a rival cushioned by the player going the other way.

    The next logical consequence is that if we were looking at a swap deal with United, we will replace Vermaelen using some/all of the proceeds. Especially as Wenger has said exactly that: http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/20140801/wenger-i-m-open-to-more-business, only a week ago.

    (You could pull the ‘Wenger lies’ card on that and it might be true, but his answer was matter of fact and not speculative).

    As far as the pickiness over the use of the word forced in the Independent; how else would you phrase it? We could choose to not play in the CL this year I suppose, but otherwise its the playoffs or nothing for us. Thats pretty clear coercion to me.

    As for as the game itself is concerned, I don’t want to junx things by saying it is only business as usual for us, but last season we did play the team that have just finished 12 points ahead of Besiktas in the league….And we beat them 5-0.

    So the prospects are pretty bright.

    Since I’m being picky myself, Wenger was worried about burnout in October, not September (not that it makes any difference to the principle, but, well accuracy).

    I’ve never posted anything this negative on here before, but the tone of the article above came over as the sort of thing you find on the ‘glass half empty’ Arsenal blogs, most of which I’ve stopped reading for exactly that reason.

  6. @Rufusstan

    Everyone connected to football with a modicum of common sense know that 4th place in the league qualifies you with an opportunity to qualify for the Champs league. And, they fight to be able to achieve that. And consider it an achievement when they do. Where in name of common sense and logic does the word or sentiment “force” insinuate itself??? Are you and the Independent bereft of your senses?

  7. We cannot count our chickens before they are hatched. Wenger wanted Ba before Chelsea sent him to Besiktas and they just beat Fenerbache in the CL playoffs so this will be a challenging series, but we have the team to progress.

  8. @Yiannis
    Jenkinson has not been ‘offloaded’ as you disrespectfully state, he has been loaned to West Ham for a season in order to gain playing time and hopefully progress to a suitable level for 1st team consideration next year.

  9. Rufusstan,
    Continuing the reductio ad absurdum, were Real Madrid and Atletico forced to play the final in May? In the same way, are Arsenal being forced to play Crystal palace in the opening game of the season? Am I forced to pay my mortgage every month? Nobody holds a gun to my head. But it would be self defeating and exceedingly stupid not to follow the rules.
    While the verb in question is not wholly inaccurate it is probably one of the least appropriate one could find and is entirely used tendentiously by the author of the article. That is Tony’s point.

  10. @greencardusa — You are missing my point. If you read the Independent article it says exactly what both you say above, and Tony said in the original post.

    My issue was that the word was used to prove that the Independent were talking in some kind of negative or prejudicial way — as in the ‘look at Arsenal they are being made to do something no one else would be made to do’.

    In practice, the word is used without prejudice to define all kind of either-or situations and I felt that Tony was reading far more into the phrase than was actually there.

    We finished 4th so we are forced to qualify.

    After all you are forced to pass a driving test before they let you behind the wheel of a car, or you are forced to get a passport before going abroad, but it isn’t just you; its everyone.

  11. @Clock End Rider — Neither of the teams were Forced to play the game, but both were forced to play the game if they wanted to get the trophy.

    You are not forced to pay your mortgage, unless you want to lose your house. Again, non-prejudicial pair of choices. After all, if you have a pair of choices, and the consequences of one is so severe that it would be insane not to take it, are you not being forced?

    To reiterate, my point at the start being the idea of reading far too much meaning into a single word than is actually there, and drawing larger conclusions than that.

    I’ve been reading and posting on Untold for long enough to feel the: ‘us against the world’ mentality, but it worries me when it can go too far.

  12. Greencardusa
    Great comment in response to yiannis’ insensitive , over the top comments.
    Yes, when I see Arsenal loan out a player like Jenko to gain some valuable playing time or move on a player like Djourou , I emiedetly think of militaristic regimes killing off defective children to improve their fighting forces. I also think of Nazis killing off the “undesirables ” , the slavery and American government’s mistreatment of the American natives .

    Come to think of it, I wouldn’t mind if the Supreme Commander Wenger “killed off” Monreal whom I consider physically defective ( too slow) and perhaps recruited another physically imposing midfielder to bolster his army’s aerial prowess which seems to be inferior to those of the armies of Generalissimo Mourinho and Admiral Pellegrini .

  13. With that Besiktas CL play-of at the back of every Gooners and Gunners minds, I want us to first concentrate seriously on our Sunday’s date with Man City at Wembly. Beating big City to the Community Cup could become a good season appointment for Arsenal, as the Gunners morals will be boosted ahead of playing the big five teams in the BPL with the City game coming first. If the Gunners fail to lift the trophy on Sunday as they did in the Emirates Cup, it will be back to the drawing board and sore post match press analysis all over again.

  14. Whichever better?

    Last season’s 7 defenders – sagna jenkinson mertesacker koscielny vermaelen gibbs monreal

    Or this season’s 9? – Debuchy bellerin hayden Mertesacker koscielny chambers miquel gibbs monreal

  15. @Samuel Akinsola Adebosin — Have to agree that Sunday could be huge for our confidence, especially considering the synchronicity involved in meeting them on the same day last year.

    Looking at the start of last season, ignoring (and maybe despite) the abomination performed by Anthony Tailor on the first weekend, that 3-1 win contributed to us hitting the ground running, and I wonder what a similar boost could lead to this year.

  16. @Tom
    Nice touch, Tom and perhaps assembling a firing squad at the end of each game? As for the US government, i prefer to focus on their abounding current atrocities. The bush does not have to be beaten to bring those into the line of sight; though the plight now of Native Americans are as current now as then.

  17. We definitely need a cb. The current two are an accident waiting to happen as we saw in the big games last year.

  18. Hopefully we can get a draw at least in the away leg – that would set up a good chance to qualify at the Emirates.
    Slightly worried that we will likely not have the German players back for either leg (almost certainly not the first leg)

  19. We are fourthed to qualify through this last qualifying round, not forced. Had it been a media darling, they would have never used the word “forced” but rather “XYZ have the luxury of using these easy qualifiers as practice games”

    As to a central defender, the Boss said very clearly that he would buy one if TV5 was sold. Incidentally, I have found Ignasi Miquel pretty decent during the pre-season games. Monreal was just there to have a run out, but he is not considered by the Boss as an emergency plug in in central defense.

  20. Miquel and Hayden are good enough to be backup. Perhaps a seasonal defender to support Per and Kos. A smart buy of Demichelis by Pelligrini a good example. Arsene already said he will buy if TV leaves. So just sit tight and enjoy!

  21. @greencardusa, comparing moving inferior players on to other teams to regimes killing inferior soldiers is not only disproportionate it’s in bad taste. And as we now have yet more money coming in from TV’s sale and Djourou I would be hoping we either sign a top quality DM or CB. We have a lot of tough games ahead especially if we overcome Besiktas and enter the CL proper.

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