Archive for February, 2008

Diaby’s return releases Walcott to play upfront

2 comments February 29th, 2008

Abou Diaby is back in the squad for tomorrow’s crunch match with Aston Villa.  With Tomas Rosicky, Emmanuel Eboue, and Eduardo all unavailable, Diaby will give us a much-needed option on the flanks.  In fact, I’d expect him to start on the left tomorrow, with Aleksandr Hleb and Theo Walcott alternating between the right-wing and a supporting role behind Emmanuel Adebayor.

Robin van Persie, meanwhile, remains a tantalising few weeks away from a return:

“We will not rush Robin van Persie back but the news is quite good.  It is very difficult to say [when he will be back in the side]. We go step by step. But he should come back into normal training, very, very quickly now.”

Other than that, I’d expect the side to be very similar to the one that played at Birmingham.  Having not won in three games, victory is vital.  Manchester United are playing lowly Fulham this weekend, so it’s almost certain that we’ll need a win to maintain our lead.

Commiserations to the Arsenal Ladies, who actually lost a game yesterday – something I don’t think I’ve ever noticed happening before.  Sadly it was the League Cup Final, and they were beaten by a stoic Everton defence.

Finally today, the board have reaffirmed that a 25% stake for Alisher Usmanov would have little-to-no effect on the day-to-day running of the club.

It’s lucky we’ve performed so well this season – it’s put all those takeover stories from the Summer right out of sight and mind.  Let’s keep it that way with a win tomorrow.

Theo Walcott is feeling talkative

1 comment February 28th, 2008

After scoring his first Premier League goals at the weekend, you can understand if Theo Walcott is feeling a little bubbly.  So much so, in fact, that he’s been telling about his opinions on all sorts of things, starting with Aston Villa’s Gabriel Agbonlahor.

Agbonhalor, like Walcott, is young, fast,  and feted as the future of English football.  Indeed, in the past eighteen months, Agbonlahor’s progress has moved on a speed Walcott can only envy.  In spite of this, there’s no jealousy on the part of the former Southampton forward, whose quick to praise his U-21 colleague:

“With Gabby you can over-cook a pass and he’ll still get there because his pace is just phenomenal really, it’s a joke. I love playing alongside players with pace. He’s a clever player and he’s got a good finish on him, which helps.”

We’ll certainly have to keep an eye on him come Saturday.

Walcott was also keen to emphasise the squad’s support for stricken Eduardo:

“Of course Eduardo has been on our minds.  It was a quiet coach ride home and felt just like a loss in truth.  We had a couple of days off and then actually went bowling to keep our team-spirit up. A couple of lads went to see him yesterday and reported back to the rest of us.”

I love the idea of the squad going bowling together.  I can imagine William Gallas, after being beaten by a late strike from Cesc, sitting in the middle of the lane crying and refusing to take off his shiny bowling shoes.

What with Eduardo’s injury, fans will be hoping Theo can shoulder some of the goalscoring burden.  The boy himself is confident he can:

“I feel upbeat, I feel confident.  The goals helped and they gave me a boost so hopefully I can take that into Saturday.

It was nice to get a poacher’s goal. My agents have told me I need more of those. Then the second was more about the kind of player I am. Left-foot too, which is something people have questioned me about.

Now I just have to improve with every game and time will tell [if I can fill the striker’s role]. After all, the boss picks the team so when I do play I will just do my best.”

His agents have been telling him he should score more poacher’s goals?  Bizarre.

Alisher Usmanov has spoken about his steadily increasing stake in Arsenal, stating that he will not buy more than 25% of the clubs shares.  Whether that is because that is genuinely the extent of his ambition or because he realises a takeover is currently impossible is, well, bleeding obvious.

Till tomorrow.

Vote Eduardo Carling Cup’s Best Player; Flamini would be mad to leave

1 comment February 27th, 2008

Eduardo da Silva may be out of action, but that doesn’t put him out of the running to win the Carling Cup Player of the Tournament.  After braces against Sheffield United and Blackburn, the Croatian is one of the favourites to win the award, and you can vote for him here.  I think it’s worth pointing out that I’m not inviting spam or a crooked vote, but instead genuinely believe Eduardo would be worthy of any recognition received.

Mathieu Flamini has been linked yet again with a move to Juventus, with The Sun suggesting that Arsenal may have to improve upon their £50k p/week offer.  For me, Flamini would be mad to move.  With Diarra now gone and Denilson and Diaby’s development stalling, he is the clear first-choice partner for Cesc Fabregas.

Not only that, but I’m not sure that he’s the kind of player who could walk into any team in any country and make an impression.  He is doing so well for us because he links perfectly with the rest of the midfield.  His off-field friendships with Cesc, Rosicky and Hleb are reflected in a paranormal understanding on the pitch.

I really hope he signs soon.  In the light of Alex Ferguson’s outburst about Wes Brown’s refusal to sign a new deal, Arsene has remained calm throughout this saga.  Perhaps he realises that Flamini is in the position of power, and the decision ultimately rests in his hands.   Hopefully he makes the right one, and chooses to stay at Arsenal.

Finally, Happy Birthday to arseblog: six today.  It’s a refreshing example of someone building a popular and successful blog not through trashy headlines and hit-hunting, but quality content and a loyal readership.

On which note: Thanks for reading, everyone!

Eduard out for nine months – And The Youngsters Who Stand To Profit

Add comment February 26th, 2008

The club have spoken in specific medical terms for the first time about Eduardo’s injury, and it’s far better news than initially feared, with this sentence probably the most heartening of all:

“It is hoped that Eduardo will be running again in six months time and making a full recovery after nine months.”

I think it’s pretty easy to guess what Eduardo and all Arsenal fans will be hoping for this Christmas – the return of the Premier League’s best finisher to action. When you consider that there were fears Eduardo could face amputation, it has to be considered a very promising prognosis.

If you want to wish him well in his recovery, the club are collating messages for Eduardo here.

In the Croatian’s absence, the striking burden falls heavily on teenagers Nicklas Bendtner and Theo Walcott.  They’ve netted ten goals between them this season, but with Robin van Persie still a few weeks away from a return, they’ll have to be significantly more prolific between now and May.  A contact close to the team informs me that Emmanuel Adebayor is feeling absolutely exhausted having carried the goalscoring responsibility since Van Persie’s injury – if we don’t want him to collapse under the pressure, we need the likes of Walcott to perform in the manner he did at St. Andrews.

Another youngster who could make an impact in Eduardo’s absence, next season at least, is Carlos Vela.  The Mexican provided an assist and a goal for Osasuna over the weekend, and as a left-sided forward or winger, is perhaps the obvious man to come into the squad whilst Eduardo recovers.

My final word on the Eduardo situation for today is to add Jamie Redknapp’s name to the list of idiots that have defended the challenge on the Croatian.  In his Daily Mail column, he called the tackle “innocuous”.  Well Jamie, if I ever meet you, don’t be surprised if a similarly “innoucuous” punch is landed on your smug, Lampard-loving face.

As you may have noticed, Spurs won some sort of trophy over the weekend – a victory which they celebrated with their usual class. Still, I’m sure the irony of those pictures being posted on a Manchester United website is not lost on anyone.

Stephen Kelly: You are an idiot

2 comments February 25th, 2008

Birmingham defender Stephen Kelly has spoken out on Martin Taylor’s tackle on Eduardo, and more specifically Arsene Wenger’s initial comments on the incident:

“That is disgraceful talk from Arsene Wenger. It is terrible. You know the way Martin is. He slid along the ground.”

“Slid along the ground”, did he?  Is his foot on the ground in this picture:

Didn’t think so.  Kelly, seemingly oblivious to reality, goes on:

“It wasn’t a malicious tackle and the reason the ref has sent him off is because he has seen Eduardo has broken his leg.  I don’t think you can send a player off for that. That’s football.”

I’m sorry Stephen, but that tackle is nothing to do with football.  The ref didn’t send him off because of Eduardo’s injury – he sent him off because challenges like Taylor’s have no place on the pitch.

I don’t want to keep going back over it and demonising Taylor, but what choice do you have when idiots like Kelly come out to defend the indefensible?  Alex McLeish, meanwhile, has been bleating to the media about “his [Eduardo’s] studs being caught in the grass” and the fact that “he [Taylor] didn’t feel he made that much contact with Eduardo”.  Arsene Wenger had the good grace to see that his comments were over the mark and retract them.  Will Kelly or McLeish do the same in the cold light of day?  Somehow I doubt it.

Taylor himself has managed to keep a dignified silence, for which I can respect him.  It’s just a shame he is surrounded by so many idiots.

Eduardo, meanwhile, has spoken with great courage about the situation:

“My concentration is on making as quick a recovery as possible. I am determined to overcome this injury.  It was an unfortunate situation but these things can happen in football.  I would like to say how touched I am by the many messages of support I have received and to be surrounded by my loved ones at this time.”

I believe Eduardo will be back, because he has the spirit and desire neccessary.  This is a guy who slept in a freezing Croatian stadium as a teenager.  He’s worked so hard to get where he is today – he won’t give that up without a hell of a fight.

If you want to contact Eduardo, send him an email at by Wednesday, or write to him at:

Eduardo da Silva, c/o Arsenal FC, Highbury House, 75 Drayton Park, London, England, N5 1BU.

I do think those messages will reach him, and furthermore, I think they’ll make a really positive impact on his recovery.  We should get a statement from the the club today explaining the full severity of the injury, and from then on we’ll have to try and refocus on the games ahead.

The best present we could send Eduardo would be a Premier League winner’s medal.

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