Archive for July, 2008

Stuttgart 1 – 3 Arsenal + Bischoff Signs

876 comments July 31st, 2008

I don’t know about you, but seeing the line-up for last night’s match made me feel infinitely better about the forthcoming season.  The likes of William Gallas, Emmanuel Adebayor and Robin van Persie returned to the side, whilst new signing Samir Nasri made his debut on the left flank.  Our squad still has its weaker areas, but it looks significantly stronger when those names are thrown into the mix.


The goals that won us the match, however, all came from teenage substitutes.  Nicklas Bendtner and Carlos Vela have struck up a fine pre-season partnership, and they combined on two occasions and both finished with aplomb.  It’s hard to disagree with Arsene when he argues that he doesn’t need any more strikers.  Adebayor and Bendtner are two excellent target men, Vela and Eduardo are left-footed assassins, and Robin van Persie is a volcanic player capable of extraordinary feats of skill (I count Theo Walcott as a winger, for this season at least).

The third goal came from 16-year old Jack Wilshire, whose involvement in a game such as this one is demonstrative of the manner in which he is being fast-tracked towards the first team.  For those who’ve yet to see him, I’d describe him as a left-footed Hleb who can shoot.  The Carling Cup surely beckons for Wilshere in the coming months.

If there is an area in the squad which is light, it remains central midfield – the fact that Emmanuel Eboue had to play their yesterday is indicative of our plight.  Perhaps that’s what moved Arsene to plunge for 21-year old midfielder Amauri Bischoff.  He has been capped at Under-21 level by Portugal, but a succession of injuries mean he’s barely played a senior game.  Arsene obviously believes in the boys talent, but admits the signing is a “gamble”.  Some fans are up in arms at what they perceive to be a pointless signing, but in this gamble, what exactly does Arsene stand to lose?  There’s no fee of any note, and I doubt Bischoff is earning a comparatively huge amount.  In a squad that seems worryingly short of numbers, bolstering the ranks with an unknown like Bischoff is no bad thing.

Still, a central midfielder is still urgently required.  The longer it drags on the more you suspect Arsene may wait right until the end of the window before taking the plunge.  Arsenal fans everywhere should celebrate Spurs’ signing of David Bentley – not only does it grant us even more license to hate the cocky bastard, but moreover it might have made us up to £7m, which can be reinvested in our own lightweight midfield.  In attempting to get close to us, Spurs may inadvertently help us pull yet further away.

Emirates Cup this weekend.  I’m very excited.

Up and Running and Back in Business

3 comments July 30th, 2008

As I’m sure you’ve noticed, I’ve been away.  But much like Arsenal’s footballing focus, Gunnerblog is very much back as of today.

This evening we face Stuttgart in what is easily the most competetive fixture of our pre-season thus far.  Admittedly, it’s not difficult to be more competetive than the game against Burgenland XI, which ended 10-2 (highlights here).  The game was notable for the finishing of Bendtner and Vela (who got four and three goals respectively), as well as assured performances from teenage midfielders Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere, who helped himself to a double.

Tonight, many of those younger players will be rested as a more familiar XI takes to the field.  The likes of William Gallas, Robin van Persie, and even Emmanuel Adebayor could all be considered for selection.  Kolo Toure and Cesc Fabregas have restarted training back at Colney, and will both be ready for the new season, despite the former suffering an outbreak of malaria.

There will be a familiar face in the Stuttgart line-up: Jens Lehmann.  It will be odd to see him facing us in the opposing goal.  Still, at least we know how to wind him up.

Last night we had to upgrade the server, so there may be a couple of teething problems with The Guns.  Hopefully those should be sorted very soon.

Back tomorrow (I promise).

Szombathelyi Haladas match was never going to be the main event

8 comments July 23rd, 2008

Vela makes his first appearance in Arsenal coloursArsene Wenger does not really regard the first few matches of Arsenal’s pre-season as competetive affairs.  Indeed, not until the match against Stuttgart on the 30th July will a game be treated as anything other than a fitness-gaining runaround.

Nevertheless, some fans (myself included) are so starved of Arsenal action that they will sit through ninety minutes of tedium in order to gatch a glimpse of the red-and-white.  For those who did tune in to the 1-1 draw, the highlights were seeing Carlos Vela make a solid debut upfront, and a sublime assist from Nicklas Bendtner to provide Theo Walcott with our solitary goal.

With these games such non-events, it is often the post match press-conferences which draw the most attention.  Here are the highlights from yesterday’s:

  • Adebayor is training like everybody else
  • Arsene denied that he had spoken directly to Adebayor about his future
  • He refused to confirm or deny whether or not any bids had been recieved for the striker
  • There is no news on new signings
  • The international players will play for the first time against Stuttgart
  • Cesc is the only player not yet back at training
  • Eduardo will be with the squad for the Emirates Cup, though not available to play
  • Arsene also confirmed he needs one central midfielder

I have to say, I increasingly suspect that Gareth Barry might be Arsene’s Number 1 Target this Summer.  The Villa midfielder surely can’t now stay in the midlands, but negotiations between his club and Liverpool seem to have broken down.

However, as others have pointed out, it would be very Arsene to spring a surprise on us all with someone entirely unexpected.

The final bit of news today is that Kolo Toure has reportedly contracted malaria.  The illness can have a varying degree of severity, so it’s probably best to wait for some confirmation from the club before declaring it a ‘crisis’ of any description.  Still, get well soon Kolo.

Video: Barnet Highlights & Wenger interview

4 comments July 22nd, 2008

Arsenal’s first pre-season friendly of the 08/09 campaign only really last 45 minutes – at half-time any first-team players were withdrawn in favour of younger replacements.  Yet the kids who came on did significantly better than their senior counterparts, coming from a goal behind to win 2-1 with strikes from Jay Simpson and Nacer Barazite.

After the match, Arsene Wenger spoke about the future of Emmanuel Adebayor, and potential transfer targets for the remaining six weeks of the window, and you can watch that video here.

The Barnet game was not particularly enthralling, but two players shone in each half – in the first, Welsh debutant Aaron Ramsey showed a great range of intelligent passing from midfield. In the second half, teen prodigy Jack Wilshere showed a couple of neat touches and was involved in most of our good attacking play.

Our international players have since returned to training, but they will not be involved in today’s match against Szombathelyi – details of how you can watch that here.

I’ll be watching the game online, so hopefully there’ll be a write-up tomorrow. Till then.

Goodbye Gilberto Silva (From Gilbertosilver)

43 comments July 18th, 2008

One of the greatest failures in Arsene's time at Arsenal.  Just look at him.  The idiot.On Wednesday, Aleksandr Hleb completed his £12m move to Barcelona, and the news was greeted primarily with cursory shrugs.  Even Arsene Wenger, normally effusive in his praise of departing players, said:

“We are comfortable with our decision to let him go and we are all looking forward to continuing our preparations for the new season ahead.”

Ooooh, cutting.  It’s not that Hleb is ‘bad’ at football.  His technique was exemplary, but something is obviously missing.  When you try and think about the highlights of Hleb’s time at Arsenal, one struggles.  This is partially because Hleb scored so few goals (just 11 in three years), and failed to win a trophy during his stay.  Perhaps those two facts are not unrelated.

Goodbye GilbertoMy indifference at Hleb’s departure was in stark contrast to my sadness at the departure a genuine Arsenal stalwart in Gilberto Silva, who has joined Panathainkos for about £1m.  The Brazilian will most famously be remembered for being Patrick Vieira’s reliable partner in The Invincibles XI but aswell as his League Championship winner’s medal in 2004, the Brazilian also won the FA Cup twice — in 2003 and 2005 – and the Community Shield in 2002 and 2004.  It is an impressive haul.

Gilberto arrived in 2002 as a World Cup winner and immediately gave the side a strategic intelligence they had previously lacked, freeing Patrick Vieira to transform from holding destroyer to roaming playmaker.  After Vieira left, Gilberto forged another effective partnership with Cesc Fabregas – although the Brazilian was often the least heralded of our midfield pairings, the work he did was absolutely invaluable.

Possibly Gilberto’s best performances came in his penultimate season at Arsenal, when the absence of Thierry Henry through injury left Silva with both the armband and armfuls of responsibility.  He responded like a true leader, with eleven goals and performances that led by example if not charisma.

It was therefore a shock (and a shame) that he was overlooked for the full-time captaincy in favour of William Gallas.  After going to the Copa America, he came back to find that his place in the side had also been usurped, this time by Mathieu Flamini.  Despite a traumatic year, Gilberto stuck at it like a true pro, and came back into the fold at the end of the season with some excellent performances.

He deserves every success in Greece, and the fuss have made over his departure is indicative of the esteem in which he is held at the club.  Of course my name is now somewhat defunct, but no matter – it remains as a tribute to a beacon of professionalism in an era in which that quality is sadly absent.

I have to say, I had been coming round to the idea that Gilberto might start the season as first choice.  His subsequent depature leaves us incredibly light and lacking in experience, and it’s clear Arsene will move to sign a central midfielder before the window closes.  My vote still goes for Gareth Barry.

You can hear me talk about Barry, Gilberto, Hleb and more on today’s arsecast.  It’s always a genuine pleasure to do.

Tomorrow, Arsenal are playing a match of football.  It’s all terribly exciting.

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