Archive for March, 2009

If I had to bet on two Arsenal players to get injured…

Add comment March 31st, 2009

…then Robin van Persie and Abou Diaby would be right at the top of the list.

It is a personal blow for Diaby, who would have jumped up a place in the queue for a national team starting-spot in the absence of Jeremy Toulalan.  As well as that, he is the middle of perhaps his best run in the Arsenal side since he broke his ankle a couple of years ago.  An injury now, and the return of Cesc Fabregas from injury, could call a halt to that.

Van Persie has picked up some kind of groin problem, and with Nicklas Bendtner also carrying a knock, it’s fortunate that we’ll be able to call on the services of both Eduardo and Emmanuel Adebayor after the International break.

We do have a real surplus of striking talent, and perhaps that’s why West Brom and Arsenal are in talks about extending Jay Simpson’s loan into next season.  The bustling forward undoubtedly has potential, but getting ahead of Van Persie, Bendtner, Adebayor, Eduardo, Vela, Arshavin, and Walcott in the queue for an attacking spot is not going to be easy.

The Arsenal Supporters’ Trust have released a statement on yesterday’s shift in the club’s ownership structure:

“The AST has met with Stan Kroenke and visited his operations in Colorado. We were supportive of him joining the Board and welcome the sporting and commercial expertise he brings to the club. If a sale had to take place we are reassured that it is to Stan. The fact that Stan Kroenke is already a member of the Board at Arsenal should ensure that this change does not create any instability.

The AST has always had a good relationship with Danny Fiszman. We admire the work that Danny undertook in creating the Emirates and are pleased that he has said he intends to continue as a significant shareholder and play a role in the future of Arsenal.

The AST have asked to meet with Danny Fiszman to discuss with him how he envisages the club moving forward.”

The sentence in bold is the one that has the most resonance.  Incredible really how quickly we’ve moved from the Chairman stating we didn’t want “his sort” around, to grooming Kroenke as the future owner.

What with all the injuries and the share-based nonsense, today’s blog runs the risk of being a little sombre in tone.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you The Antidote:

Kroenke takeover moves ever closer

Add comment March 30th, 2009

So today, against all conceivable odds, we actually have some proper, bona fide news.  Danny Fiszman has sold 5000 shares to American investor Stan Kroenke.  That means that Fiszman’s holding drops to 16.1%, with Kroenke’s jumping to 20.5%, making him the board’s highest shareholder.

I have to credit the club, who have backed the announcement with two very detailed interviews – one with Fiszman himself, and the other with the increasingly impressive new CEO, Ivan Gazidis.  The question that opens the interview with Fiszman provides the most telling response:

“I strongly believe that Stan Kroenke has an important role to play in the future of Arsenal Football Club. He has already brought considerable knowledge and experience to the Board, and I have no doubt that he will continue to be an asset to the Club. While I thought long and hard about selling any shares, I believe that Stan’s increased holding is a positive development for Arsenal Football Club.”

Gazidis, meanwhile, has moved to reassure fans about Kroenke’s intentions as regards his shareholding:

“Stan is a long-term holder in everything that he does. In the sports arena he has never sold a share in any team he has had an interest in. I have spoken to Stan and he has a long-term interest in Arsenal and, as I have said, believes in the philosophy of the Club. He is going to ensure we have continuity in the traditions of the Club.”

And Kroenke himself has seconded that sentiment in a typically brief statement:

“After having been invited to join the Board last year I am delighted to be able to increase my shareholding in Arsenal. I will continue to work closely with my Board colleagues to maintain the stable environment in which the Club operates and to preserve the self-sustaining business model enjoyed by the Club.”

I ought to point out at this stage that I don’t feel particularly qualified to comment on the ownership structure of huge companies such as Arsenal.  This is a football blog, not a business blog, and so any assessments I make will be, at heart, speculative ramblings.  That little disclaimer out the way, I think that with Usmanov having overtaken Fiszman as the largest shareholder in the company this probably felt like a good time for a deal to be done – so much so that the lockdown agreement has been overrided for the deal to take place.

One feels that with the threat of the Uzbeki looming ever larger (quite literally), Kroenke is being pushed to the front as the man with the financial muscle to lead the fight.  I’m sure the £40m or so Fiszman has picked up will soften the blow of no longer being the board’s fiscal figurehead.

All this talk of preserving the clubs traditions seems like preamble to a bigger move.  The board are attempting to make Kroenke the acceptable face of foreign ownership, and compared to Usmanov, he certainly is.  That’s not to say I support a takeover, but if the board have to jump into bed with one of the two, then I think they’ve certainly picked the right one.  The same stands if they have to do business with one of them.

More reaction tomorrow.

International round-up with videos of our lads in action

Add comment March 29th, 2009

Adebayor in goalscoring action for TogoTwo of our forwards were in goalscoring action over the weekend, as Emmanuel Adebayor and Robin van Persie netted for Togo and Holland respectively.  Adebayor netted after appearing to foul Andrey Bikey, gifting his side an invaluable 1-0 win over rivals Cameroon.  Van Persie, meanwhile, rose highest to head home in the Netherlands’ 3-0 victory against Scotland.  Neither man’s day was perfect though – Adebayor missed a second-half penalty, and Van Persie was withdrawn after an hour or so with mild concussion.

RVP was wearing his preferred number 10 shirt for Holland, as was Andrey Arshavin for Russia.  Highlights of his performance in the 2-0 win against Azerbaijan can be seen here.

Bacary Sagna and William Gallas played ninety minutes in France’s 1-0 win over Lithuania, with Samir Nasri restricted to a twelve minute cameo.  Neither Abou Diaby or Gael Clichy took to the field at all.

Before I go, I’d like to that 101greatgoals for those excellent videos, and second arseblogger’s single-fingered salute to the News of the World.

Striking news

Add comment March 27th, 2009

My God I hate the International break.  The next few days, unlike the loans I have taken out to supplement by outrageous lifestyle, are guaranteed to bring absolutely no interest.

Picking through the newsfeeds this afternoon, it seems what little news we have is about three of our strikers:

Robin van Persie, ahead of Holland’s game against Scotland, has revealed he was keen to join compatriot Dick Advocaat at Rangers prior to moving to Arsenal:

“When I heard about their interest, I sat by the phone hoping it would ring. I was in a difficult situation at my club and desperate to leave.  Advocaat told me he needed to sell some players before he could buy. That’s why it dragged on and did not happen.”

“Desperate” though he may have been at the time, he must be delighted that he joined Arsenal at such a young age.  Despite the injuries that have hampered the early part of his career, the experience of receiving a footballing education from the likes of Robert Pires, Dennis Bergkamp, and Thierry Henry is presumably every young striker’s dream scenario.  With Van Persie leading our goalscoring charts this season, we seem to be reaping the benefits of Van Persie’s schooling.

Last year’s top scorer, Emmanuel Adebayor, has been linked with a £35m move to AC Milan in Italian publication Il Corriere Dello Sport.  That in itself is barely newsworthy – the Milan rumours were rife last Summer and I think there is a genuine possibility that he could go this year.  What did make me raise my eyebrows somewhat was the suggestion from Adebayor’s agent that he might be unwilling to leave:

“He is an Arsenal player and extended his contract with the club last summer. Since then there has been no new contact with Milan.  The negotiations last summer never came to fruition and everything is over on that front.

Wenger relies heavily on the player. The opportunity for him to move to Milan was last summer, but in the end, Milan signed Ronaldinho instead. Adebayor was very close to Milan at that point.”

I suppose the fact remains that if Arsene decides he no longer needs Adebayor, it won’t really be his decision whether he goes or not.  That said, he returns to action after a ten-game absence tomorrow with Togo – who knows what role he could play in our run-in this season?

Finally, some news on Nicklas Bendtner.  The moral, I suppose, is not to believe everything you read – in the English sports press at least.

Till tomorrow – suggestions on how to get through the next week or so would be very much appreciated.

Look out, folks: Dennis ‘The Menace’ Lachter is back!

Add comment March 26th, 2009

If anything was likely to bring Dennis Lachter crawling out of the woodwork, it was Andrey Arshavin’s remarks about potentially staying at Arsenal for the rest of his career.  You can imagine Lachter’s panic as his prize asset espoused on a strategy that might leave his agent without another hefty payday.  Panicked, Lachter telephoned all of the journalists who were hooked on his every word for that one month at the start of the year.  The only ones to pick up were, to whom Lachter insisted:

“It’s definitely possible he’ll spend the rest of his career at Arsenal…but I can tell you now already several of the biggest clubs in the world already want him in the summer!”

To be honest, I’m not really worried by Lachter’s stirring anymore.  From what we’ve seen of Andrey so far, he seems genuinely happy to have finally joined the club.  I think he appreciates the chance he’s been given, and I think moving on again after all the trauma of January is probably the last thing on his mind.

Lachter, for all his sins, did bring some good news:

“Andrey will be a real diamond next season. Physically he is only at 60% at the moment.  Next season everybody will see and understand the true Arshavin. You’ve seen nothing yet.

Arsene [Wenger] understands this; it’s why he was so desperate to make the signing. He struggled hard against Zenit to get his man. People are now starting to realise why Arsene was so keen to get him for Arsenal, Andrey has class.”

If this is Arshavin at 60%, I’m pretty excited to see him at full fitness.

Another player linked with a move away from the club yesterday was full-back Gael Clichy, first to Milan and then Man City.  With City having signed Wayne Bridge, that duck looks fairly dead, but Milan certainly require youth in the their back-line, and I’m sure Gael would fair better with the Rossonieri than messrs Flamini and Senderos.  That said, I’m fairly sure that a) he wouldn’t want to leave, and b) he wouldn’t be for sale anyway.

Manuel Almunia confirms he is considering taking up British nationality.  I have to say that were he available for selection, I think he would comfortably be England’s Number 1 goalkeeper, but I don’t think it’ll ever happen.  National identity is much less fluid and much more integral than in sports such as rugby, and I don’t think the British public would ever accept a Spaniard wearing the three lions.  Shame, because it’d give me another reason to take interest in the National team…

Finally, yesterday I was able to confirm that I will be travelling to Villarreal, via Barcelona.  Could be a hell of a trip.  I’m more excited than John Hartson in a pie-shop.

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