Archive for May, 2009

Footballers are out of control

Add comment May 31st, 2009

I’m not a doctor, but this does sound pretty mental: in order to prevent Robin’s regular muscle injuries, the club is forcing him to have his wisdom teeth removed.  The same operation was performed on Tomas Rosicky, with dubious results.  Apparently Arsene himself is a fierce proponent of the treatment, which only leads me to believe that our manager moonlights as a Tooth Fairy-figure, collecting the teeth of famous footballers then selling them for profit on ebay.

The rest of today’s news centres on Theo Walcott.  In a stunning and revelatory interview with the News of the World, Theo has followed up the Roman Bednar drugs scandal with a disturbing admission of his own:

“And once – and I’ve never admitted this to anyone before – when I was at Southampton I was going on the train to Reading with another player, Jake Thompson. We were 16 at the time but we said we were 15 to get kids’ tickets. We thought we were being clever by buying the tickets on one side of the station and then crossing to the other side of station to get the train. But we got caught and I was scared that we’d be prosecuted for fraud or something and all to wriggle out of paying an extra £2.50.”

Jake Thompson, when contacted by Gunnerblog staff this morning, hung up with a curt “No comment”.

It’s really frightening when you think you know a guy like Theo and then you find out the true extent of what he’s capable of.  Doubtless we’ll be hearing a lot more about this in the days and weeks to come.

As far as on-pitch antics go, Theo is looking forward to representing both the senior side and the U-21s, and Fabio Capello is confident that the player won’t ‘burn-out’:

“He is young.  Stuart Pearce spoke with the players and the player was happy to play with the U21s.

I also understand Arsene because he said he needed to take a holiday. But he did not play during the winter. His holiday was in the winter.”

The weather is absolutely cracking today but it seems to have brought with it a sufficient amount of pollen to induce a sneezing attack that is threatening to cripple me.

Though if it does, I could always just have my wisdom teeth removed.

Loads is happening in football, but not to us

Add comment May 30th, 2009

The media storm around the Champions League has clouded what’s been a fairly eventful week in English football, considering that the season is (for all intents and purposes) over.  Portsmouth and Sunderland have both been taken over by billionaires, Steve Bruce is about to jump ship at Wigan, an England U-21 team will masquerade as ‘Team GB‘ in 2012, and, in news that has rocked football to its very foundations, Saint and Greavsie are back on our screens.

And yet when it comes to Arsenal… nothing.  Pretty much all of yesterday’s news stories were condensed into a single page on newsnow.  Still, with a Summer of boardroom wranglings and transfer sagas ahead, one can’t help but feel this is simple the calm before the storm.

Meantime, here are the thoughts of our beloved Andrey Arshavin on mobile communciations technology in England.  Enjoy:

Bendtner & RvP contracts; Cesc / Barcelona ; Happy Birthday Andrey

Add comment May 29th, 2009

The reason the blog is a little late today is because until about twenty minutes ago, I thought I’d already written it – the reason being that I dreamt about writing it.  Imagine my horror when I logged onto the site (about twenty minutes ago) to be confronted with the disappointing but ultimately reassuring fact that one’s actions in dreams do not impact upon reality.

After the final day at Stoke, Arsene Wenger spoke about renewing the contracts of Nicklas Bendtner and Robin van Persie as being a “priority”.  Bendtner seems keen, but there is still no positive news on Robin van Persie:

“The club and I have not been able to make any headway.”

Now all season we’ve read that Robin’s contract expired in 2010, which would make this current situation very distressing indeed.  However, after the Stoke game, Arsene intimated that the deal runs until 2011, which gives us a little leeway as far as negotiations go.  I still expect Robin to sign in the next few weeks.  (For Arsenal, probably.)

Cesc Fabregas has spoken out in praise of the current Barcelona side, prompting a host of stories linking him with a move there.  To be honest, Barca’s excellence is as likely to keep him at the Emirates as provoke his departure – brilliant player though he is, if there’s a midfield in world football he wouldn’t get in to then it is certainly Barcelona’s.

Arsenal look set to make their first signings of the Summer in Cheltenham’s Jamie Edge and FC Zurich centre-half Martin Angha – though don’t expect to see them lining up in the Champions League Qualifiers, as they’re both just fifteen years old.

Finally, Happy Birthday to Andrey Arshavin, who turns 28 today.  Just two years until Arsene kicks him out for being past it.

This blog was much better in the dream.

Congratulations Thierry Henry & Barcelona

Add comment May 28th, 2009

There’s nowhere to start other than the Champions League Final, which last night saw Thierry Henry finally claim the one medal that until now had eluded him.   It was odd watching Henry triumph for Barcelona – the side who denied him, and indeed us all, a momentous victory in the same competition in 2006.

That night, reeling from the pain of defeat and the memory of two missed chances (warning: distressing video), Henry declared his intention to remain at Arsenal and reject the overtures of the conquering Barca side.  it was a tremendous moment for our club, but gave false hope – Henry was never the same player again, and realising that he might wait a long time to win prizes again at Arsenal, he moved to Barcelona just one year later for a cut-price £14m.

The first season was difficult – Henry’s sciatica held him back and it looked as if he might have begun an irretrievable decline.  But last Summer new manager Josep Guardiola convinced Henry to stay, and in doing so created arguably the greatest attacking trio in living memory alongside Samuel Eto’o and the imperious Lionel Messi.  Those forwards are the beneficiaries of a quite incredible midfield, conducted by Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta.  This season they have dominated the Spanish scene, and last night that midfield’s dominance over United ensured their completion of a historic treble.

I was pleased for Henry, who can now add the Champions League to a trophy haul which includes the World Cup, European Championships, Premiership, La Liga, Ligue 1, as well as the major cups in Spain, England and France and also the domestic league and cup double in all three countries.  On top of that he’s the all-time top goalscorer for both France and Arsenal – it’s only a shame that at his peak he had to compete for the World Player of the Year with the likes of Zidane and Ronaldinho.

I was glad for Sylvinho too, who performed admirably and was visibly moved by his team’s success.

I’m not a Barcelona fan, but as the above probably makes clear I’m a huge fan of the football that they play.  Last night, the pundits on Sky alluded to Barcelona as being the model for the side Arsene Wenger is attempting to build at Arsenal – a theme continued by this piece on Guardian Unlimited.

Whilst emulating Barcelona’s formation would not be the worst idea, at the moment the gulf between the two sides is enormous.  The area of the pitch in which this is most apparent is central midfield, where Arsenal do not have a functional unit to compare with that of Barcelona.  Although he played in defence last night, it does grate a little to see Yaya Toure, a man who I once saw take to the field in an Arsenal kit at Underhill, being the defensive lynchpin in the best midfield trio in World football.  Alas.

In other news, both Theo Walcott and Kieran Gibbs have been named in the U-21 squad for the European Championships.  Many will complain, but I won’t, as it gives me something to watch and then write about this Summer…

Good Luck Thierry

Add comment May 27th, 2009

First stop aboard today’s blog bus is at a congratulatory party for the U-18s, who sealed the Youth Cup win in style with a 2-1 victory at Anfield (video here).  A neat Sanchez Watt finish and an own goal proved the difference on the night, though in truth the tie was over after the first leg.

There are plenty of talented youngsters in that side, though if you had to back just one to make the grade all the smart money would be on Jack Wilshere, and Liam Brady is confident he’ll be in first-team contention sooner rather than later:

“He is a special kid. He has got great awareness with his passing ability and he can run with the ball. He just needs to keep on learning but he is the kind of kid who’ll want to learn and do better. I think he has a tremendous career in football ahead of him.

Jack is going to have a rest now and he’ll be stronger when he comes back. What he does in pre-season will dictate whether the manager feels he is ready to be in his team from the start, but I think it won’t be long before he will be.”

Whilst the eyes of the football world may one day be focused on Jack, in the meantime they are fixed firmly on this evening’s Champions League final between Manchester United and Barcelona.

As much as I admire what this United team has achieved this season, I have to say I’m really hoping Thierry Henry is fit enough to take part and claim the one prize missing from his near-to-bursting trophy cabinet.  I firmly believe that time and perspective will see Henry recognised as Arsenal’s greatest player, and I count myself among the many Arsenal fans who feel genuinely privileged to have watched him play at his peak.

He may not be the only former Gunner on display for Barca, with Sylvinho a potential replacement for the suspended Eric Abidal.

I’ll be watching/tweeting live.  Were the potential presence in the Barcelona line-up of Henry and Sylvinho not enough to help you pick your side, let me present you with the alternative: this man winning.

Forza Barça!!!

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