Archive for January, 2007

Arsene tells Charlton, “This is your Song”

115 comments January 31st, 2007

He may be quite simple, but at least he is gone.

Yes, I know it’s old news, but it’s still hard.

Seriously though, I wish Alex the best of luck. He’s had plenty of critics, but he performed very well up at Anfield where he grabbed his first Arsenal goal. I’m sure he’ll be watching his young team-mates tonight as they face Tottenham in the second leg of the Carling Cup semi-final. With the score standing at 2-2, we have the slight upper hand with away goals. Spurs know they need to score, and that should make for an open game.

The bad news is that Julio Baptista, the joint top-scorer in the competition, is out:

“Julio Baptista will be absent for this game. It is a big regret for me because he has led the team recently with a huge spirit. His mental strength was obvious in the game at Tottenham because he scored an own goal then he put two in the net at the other end. That is always the best answer you can give.”

He’s likely to return for the game at home to Wigan next week. Emmanuel Adebayor is expected to partner Jeremie Aliadiere in attack. The good news is that Baptista’s fellow Brazilian, Gilberto, is back from suspension and will captain the side. Beyond that it’ll be a similar set-up to the one used at White Hart Lane, with a strong bench backing up a youthful side.

Arsene has been speaking about Theo Walcott’s dip in form, and seems unconcerned:

“He is on the verge of getting over it. When you start no one expects anything from you. Once you are established people expect something special every time you touch the ball. It is part of the maturing process to get over that, learn to deal with it and stick to what made your game strong.”

It’s fair enough: probably for the best thing for Theo is that in spite of some poor form he will start his third consecutive start tonight, so there’s plenty of opportunity for advancement.

For many years, fans have neglected the Carling Cup as an inferior competition. This year, these Arsenal youngsters have given life to a tournament previously treated primarily with indifference. The likes of Aliadiere, Baptista, and Denilson deserve the opportunity to grace the final, and for that reason I really hope we beat Spurs tonight.

Imagine how much it would annoy them too.

If you’re going tonight, sing up for those young lads: for a few of them (Diaby/Denilson etc.), it’ll be there first game at the Emirates. They need your support.

Did we really try and sign Antonio Puerta?

93 comments January 30th, 2007

Both The Sun and The Mirror this morning reported that Arsenal failed in a late attempt to bring Antonio Puerta to the club.  The 22-year old Spain international is a flying winger or left-back, and would’ve provided extra cover on that side in the absence of Alex Hleb and Robin van Persie.

It wouldn’t surprise me if there was some truth in this, as we’ve reportedly been after him for a long time.  However, it seems as though the transfer window is going to close without Arsene splashing any cash, and I can’t say I disagree.  On the anniversary of the signing of Jose Reyes, Arsene now feels the market is inflated beyond any realistic worth.  Any who can blame him, when you read things like this? Putting recent injuries aside, our squad is looking very healthy – so much so that Alex Song has been farmed out to Charlton until the end of the season.  It remains to be seen whether this is a Justin Hoyte loan (where you come back and earn a first-team place) or a Sebastian Larsson loan (goodbye Seb).  I suppose it depends on how well he does.  I’m sure he’ll single-handedly keep them up.

Another loanee midfielder, Fabrice Muamba, says his future is down to him.  With Song, Diaby, and Denilson all vying for those midfield spots, as well as the more established Cesc, Flamini, and Gilberto, you have to say his chances of making it here are slim.

Ondrej Mazuch, on the other hand….

Arsenal 1 – 1 Bolton: Like the North, really…

907 comments January 29th, 2007

…Very drab, very dour.  If the team and the crowd have a reciprocal relationship designed to raise the roof and win matches, then both parties failed yesterday.

It’s not often I say this, but if you weren’t at the game yesterday, you can’t understand how frustrating it was.  The team’s first-half performance was terrible, and the crowd were worse.  It seems that those in attendance had seen the win over Manchester United, and now expected us to roll Bolton over without any support or encouragement.  Half-time was greeted with a muted response; a Thierry Henry backheel that was cleared off the line not really lifting anything but Bolton’s resolve.

I was hoping the second half would change things, but it barely did.  Whilst our performance improved, it took a well-worked Bolton goal to get a bit of noise out of the 60,000 present.  Eventually, our pressure told, with Kolo Toure diving to head home a scrappy equaliser.  Beyond that, our best chance fell to Theo Walcott, volleying wide after a good Emmanuel Adebayor cross.

Walcott, again, was not good.  He is only seventeen and is probably our third-choice in that position, but the bright spark of the beginning of the season seems a long way off.  When this ball dropped to him, as against Spurs, neither he nor the fans had any confidence he would finish.  I’m sure he’ll get over this slump, but yesterday was evidence of just how much we will miss Alex Hleb.

And back to the crowd.  It really disappoints me.  Frankly, I feel embarrassed by the jibes of the away fans, because what they say is true.  It’s bad enough our fans stupidly rowing on this blog (cut it out), but it’s something else entirely when the REDsection are forced to implore their own fans to start singing, with chants like “Sing Up For the Arsenal”, and “We forgot that you were here”.  It’s not been like that at every game, but yesterday’s atmosphere was just horrible.

The frustration of the 90 minutes only increased after the game when it emerged that Julio Baptista may have a significant groin injury that could keep him out for up to three weeks.  To panic buy or not to panic buy?

It really was a painful game.  A bad game, for the first half at least.  It’s not like our players didn’t try, but nothing came off.  Rosicky dribbled well but picked the wrong pass, Adebayor had some very good good moments and some very bad, and despite keeping Anelka quiet Senderos fell over quite a lot (as is his custom).  Maybe we really are afraid of Bolton, fans and players alike.  I know I’m not, but either way, at least we didn’t lose to them, and we have a chance to go to the Reebok and get over this ridiculous hoodoo.  Bolton are good, but if we can beat the likes of Man U and Liverpool, we can beat them.

Fergie’s Stupid Outburst

73 comments January 28th, 2007

Alex Ferguson is always prone to blow his top. However, this time it’s made him look very, very stupid. This is less “mind games” and more the “mind implosion” of the red-faced Scot. Assuming (with little authority) that Wenger had suggested United tire in the last twenty minutes, he said:

“I thought it was a bit petty, coming out with that nonsense. I’m not sure [why he said it]. I think it’s maybe making him look great again. ‘I’m the great Arsene Wenger’.”

Now, let’s just think about this. Firstly, did Arsene ever say it? Arsene says not:

“I did not say they crumble in the last 20 minutes. At half-time [last Sunday] it was still 0-0. I said: ‘Continue to play until the last minute because remember at Old Trafford, we scored in the last five minutes’. Of course, after there was a big analysis that they concede more goals in the last 20 minutes – but most of the time, that is because they lead and teams have a go at them.”

So far, not so good for Fergie’s argument. So where did he get this impression from? Answer: Matthieu Flamini, who in this interview, where he is reported to have said:

“He [Arsene] said: ‘They are not the same anymore after 70 minutes’. Once again, the coach was right!”

Two problems: 1) this interview was with L’Equipe, so a great deal may have been lost in translation; 2) How can Fergie accuse Arsene of making himself “look great again” in the privacy of his own dressing room? It’s not like he came out in front of the press and said it. If it was ever said (and Arsene claims it wasn’t), it was a private comment made to a group of individuals whose respect he already commands. I am sick of seeing Fergie’s outrageous claims reported as if they are fact.


There’s a nice interview with Julio Baptista and one with Gael Clichy, Roy Collins does a great piece on the youngsters and Denilson (who is “very, very close” to a first-team place), and William Gallas says Arsenal are better than Chelsea. Nice one.

Please let’s do Bolton today.  They so deserve it.

Arsene’s Press Conference Summary

47 comments January 27th, 2007

Team/Injury news

  • Robin van Persie could be out for ten weeks following surgery in Holland. Arsene says, “They say six to eight weeks but in our experience it is two and a half months”.
  • William Gallas could be back within “two to three weeks”, though there is no set timetable for his return.
  • Elsewhere, Hleb, Eboue, Djourou, and Lungberg are injured, with Gilberto suspended. Cesc Fabregas, meanwhile might be rested.
  • Jeremie Aliadiere is fit to play.

Transfer News

  • Despite liking the player, Arsene won’t be entering the race for Gareth Bale, suggesting (correctly) that he is overpriced.
  • In light of Van Persie’s injury, Aliadiere will be staying.
  • Alex Song, however, may move on loan: “Diaby is back and Denilson has shown that he is ready to play so, in central midfield, we are a bit congested with Flamini, Denilson, Diaby, Fabregas and Gilberto.”
  • Arsenal and Real Madrid will sit down to discuss the respective futures of Julio Baptista and Jose Reyes. It seems the Brazilian is winning Arsene over, however.


  • Arsene has admitted that Theo Walcott has suffered a dip in the form, saying that when you are 17 sometimes physically you have a period where you feel a little bit less good – and I think he goes through that period now.”
  • He’s also more pleased than me about Michel Platini winning the UEFA Presidency. Each to his own.

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