So what did you make of Stevan Jovetic last night then? It was a game of two halves for the Montenegrin striker. In the first half he was sloppy when passing, wandered into offside positions and troubled the England central defending pair very little.
But in the second half, with the arrival of Dejan Damjanoviche dropped deeper, got more possession, ran more at the English defence and created several goal scoring opportunities.
Did he remind you of anyone? RVP perhaps? You get the feeling that he would link up very well with Santi Cazorla with Olivier Giroud as the option as the main striker.
‘Reportedly in advanced talks over a move to sign Fiorentina striker Stevan Jovetic the first Gunners signing of what may well prove to be a very busy summer for the North London side.
Though the La Viola attacker is said to have a host of prospective suitors Arsenal are said to be the favourites to sign Jovetic, with Arsene Wenger looking to bring in the forward to help beef up his strike-force.’
Arsenal can clearly afford him and the money on offer is reputedly £90,000 per week. Like a lot of Montenegrins Jovetic is a big fan of the Premiership and is seemingly very keen to play in England.
What could,possibly go wrong?
Well Arsenal could very easily be gazumped with Man City the favourites to make Jovetic a better offer. But then again the Blues are apparently chasing a number of high profile players including Falcao and Cavani. Jovetic knows that he is Wenger’s number one target.
“If he has to leave, then make it for a real top club. Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United fit that bill, but Arsenal are not better than Fiorentina.”
Which in many ways is a fair point, especially if Arsenal don’t qualify for the Champions League.
There’s also the possibility of a move within Italy too.
It is clear that Jovetic is the man who could ignite Arsenal’s season next year. The club’s lack of firewpower especially when compared with United who have Rooney and Wellbeck (arguably England’s best players last night) alongside RVP is woeful.
Well, possibly not if you aren’t English, but if you are lucky enough to be have been born or live in this wonderful country how are you feeling about tonight’s crucial game with Montenegro.
Is it a must watch because you want to cheer the team onto World Cup qualification?
Or is a must watch because you want to get a really close look at Arsenal’s number one summer striking target Stevan Jovetic?
Over the past few days I have read several Arsenal bloggers who have nothing but distaste for the international games, they see them as an unwelcome side shown that detracts from the real business of the Premiership and Champions League. Some even suggest that we would be better off without internationals.
So what do you think?
Personally I am rather torn. On one level I can sympathise with English men and women who hate international football. Over the years we have seen a generation after generation of England mega stars underachieve in the international game. While rival countries always seem to pull a top performance or two out of the bag (well, at least once every eight years) England invariably seem to stumble though competitions before finally succumbing in rather predictable penalty shoot outs.
England will never ever challenge for anything – even though given the quality of the players in the team they really should. Arsenal might not have won a trophy for eight years now but, until this season anyhow, the team was always in the mix for them.
Then there are issues with the current crop of England internationals. Most Gunners have little love for the older England players – namely Rio Ferdiand, Frank Lampard, John Terry and especially Ashley Cole, and as for the youngsters – who really cares about them? Some come across as being uninterested in wearing an England short and are just going through the motions before they get back to the serious business of club football, utterly oblivious to how much the national game means to some people.
I also wonder if many of the fans that are most passionate about England are supporters of smaller clubs. While the football they see on a weekly basis isn’t that great with, England they get to support a team with some real class – well sometimes anyhow. Someone once likened it to the club team being their wife while England are their bit on the side – more glamorous, exciting and unpredictable. I am not sure I approve of the analogy, but I kind of know what they meant by it.
However I also remember the elation of the two tournaments where England made the semi final in 1990 and 1996. In particular the 90 World Cup was an intoxicating occasion packed with excitement, drama and wonderful, very personal stories. It helped that the players were very likeable too. And as for 1996, from the penalty redemption of Stuart Pearce through to the Gazza inspired destruction of the Scots, it was a wonderful roller coaster ride. If you weren’t around remember how great you felt during The Olympics and times that by ten. The country was having an amazing party.
The Olympics has shown that this country can do a spot of patriotism and play nicely at the same time, so wouldn’t it be great if the England football team could inspire the same feelings?
So I am hoping for a serious demolition of Montenegro tonight. And I don’t care who plays brilliantly and whether they play for United, City or even the Spuds. And if Robin Van Persie wants to pick up an injury while playing for Holland – just like he used to in the old days – well that’s fine by me too.
There have been some mixed messages coming out of The Emirates in the last couple of weeks about the future of The Gunners’ striker Lukas Podolski.
The player, who hasn’t quite shown the form that his manager would have expected him to this season, is now rumoured to be a target for Italian giants Juventus.
Podolski has denied that he is going anywhere, but there is still a doubt over how and where he will fit into the Arsenal team next year especially if the Gunners fail to secure Champions League football.
One possible option to replace him is highlighted by the Metro this morning. Apparently Sevilla striker Alvaro Negredo is once again expressing his desire to play in the Premier League and that has alerted Arsene Wenger.
Negredo has had an excellent season scoring 15 goals in 26 league games and Wenger is rumoured to have sent scouts to keep tabs on the player.
As for the Premiership Negredo says
‘It is a league that I like and sooner or later I will play in it. President Jose Maria del Nido received some offers in January, but decided not to consider them. We’ll see what is going to happen in the future.’
Arsenal are looking for another striker to share the load with Giroud, but if Negredo does sign at least one news source is claiming that Podolski will be on his way.
With that £70 million war chest Arsene Wenger certainly has plenty of options this summer. Arsenal have been linked with several Man City players could pick up a bargain or two if QPR go down or may choose to nab a player (or more) from Atletico Madrid.
Aston Villa’s 15 year old Danny Crowley, whose swashbuckling style of play has been compared to Jack Wilshere, is interesting the Arsenal scouting team – and to be fair Manchester City’s management too.
Arsenal has also been monitoring the form of 18 year old Chelsea defender, Natahaniel Chalobah, who is currently on loan at Watford.
So Chelsea fans – do you fancy having the Special One back at the club? A number of papers are reporting this morning that Jose Mourinho not only knows where his next job will be, but that it will be at one of his former clubs.
The Real Madrid manager is expected to leave the Bernabeu at the end of the season and it seems now that Chelsea or Inter is his favoured destination.
In an interview with Maxifoot Mourinho said
“I have an adventurous spirit and I do not know what will happen next season. It is not easy to choose a new destination, having worked in England, Portugal, Italy and Spain.
“Maybe I could go somewhere where I have been before. Beware of surprises.”
Meanwhile one manager who says that he has no contact with thew club is Chelsea old boy Gianfranco Zola.
He told the Mail on Sunday
“No-one from Chelsea has spoken to me. I am respectful for what Watford have done for me and I am focusing on getting the job done here.
“I really don’t know what is around the corner for me, but whatever happens to me is all down to this experience because I have to prove myself as a manager. I am enjoying what we doing at Watford, enjoying and learning.”
Tomorrow night Arsenal and England fans will get a chance to see how Fiorentina striker, Stevan Jovetic, will cope with Premiership defenders as his Montenegrin team faces England in a World Cup qualifying game.
The player, who is apparently Arsenal’s number one striking target, has also been making positive noises about a move from Serie A to the Premiership.
In response to a question about how he is being stalked by a number of English clubs Jovetic reoplied
“It sure is nice when you are interesting big clubs like Arsenal and Manchester City.
“It feels good because the English game currently has probably the strongest league in the world.
“I’m very comfortable in Italy but the Premier League is at the top of the football world – and perhaps the best.
“We will see what happens in the future.”
So that’s cause for optimism, for Arsene Wenger. However the The Express warns that if Arsenal want to land their man they will need to stump up more money that they have ever spent on a player. The paper suggests that Juventus and both Milan clubs are keen on the player and the bidding may start at £25 million and head northwards.
Meanwhile Caught Offside has an update on a player who has been linked with Arsenal for some time. Kevin Strootman of PSV, a defensively minded midfielder who also has a habit of scoring, has said that he is mulling over a transfer.
“Every transfer window there are clubs interested. But a club must speak to me first.”
Carlos Vela was undoubtedly one of the biggest disappointments of the Wenger era. A hugely talented player with bags of potential, he just never seemed to fit in at Arsenal and Gunners fans only witnessed the real Vela in short bursts.
So that makes it all the more intriguing that several papers are speculating that Arsene Wenger is about to activate a buy back clause in the player’s contract and ship him back from Real Sociedad.
Apparently the buy back clause is a mere £4 million – so it wouldn’t make too much of a dent in the club’s £70 million kitty.
Vela is playing well too. So far this season he has scored 12 times in 26 appearances for the club and been pivotal in Sociedad’s campaign this year which sees them in fourth place in La Liga with Champions League football next year a real possibility.
£4 million for a player in this type of form is a real bargain. So could he be Arsenal’s Michu?
I really can’t see this happening. Even if he does return – and it could be almost against his will – will he replicate that form in the Premeirhsip? I am not sure he will. Maybe Remy, who was linked yesterday is a better cut-price striker deal.
The cash rich Parisians know that Wenger has just 13 months left on his current deal and that he has stated that he won’t leave Arsenal until the end of that time.
However PSG are rumoured to be looking to replace Carlo Ancelotti. So is Arsene going home? Well a lot depends on where Arsene thinks home is these days? The manager has been in London for over fifteen years and before that managed in Monaco (who at the time were one of PSG’s biggest rivals) as well as Japan. I am not sure that Paris is ‘home’ for Wenger anyhow.
The manager has stated that he wants his last job in football to be boss of the French national side, and I don’t think the PSG job is going to detract him from pursuing that and finishing with a trophy next year at Arsenal.
Besides is Ancelotti really on his way? With PSG now top of the French league and in the last eight of the Champions League he seems to be keeping his side of the bargain.
In much of the world, we’ve become quite used to the commonly employed calendar system. We know that this is 2013 AD, and at some point in time there was a year 1AD.
Before that, we had the BC era, which goes back to, well, whenever somebody first named the years in decreasing numbers until you got to 1BC, skipping 0, clearly, because that would have meant having 0BD/AD as a year, which would have sounded like a blood group.
Fans of the England football team, however, follow a similar system to the Jewish calendar, ignoring conventional chronology. Orthodox followers of English football believe the modern era began in 1966. And it’s been downhill ever since.
1966 should have heralded a glorious new dawn, but it darkened pretty quickly. By 1972, in fact, when West Germany wrought revenge for the Wembley brouhaha involving a Russian linesman, and ejected England – not for the first time, either – from the European Championships that year. Worse was to come with failure to qualify at all for the 1974 World Cup, and again in 1978 when we all became honorary Scots, And so on, and so on, and so on.
Argentina and all that…
So excuse the miracle-starved among us for thinking there was a new Messiah abroad when, in 1998, a young boy danced through the Argentinian defence at the French-hosted World Cup match to score a wonder goal.
The boy was Michael Owen: born in Chester on December 14, 1979, and who this week announced his intention to retire at the end of this season. At the age of 11, he joined Liverpool as a schoolboy player, turning professional on his 17th birthday. By this stage there was already plenty of buzz about him. Was he The One? On his first-team debut for Liverpool, Owen scored against Wimbledon, setting the hopes, dreams and aspirations of a nation alive with his arrival.
And then came 30 June 1998. In Saint-Étienne (the French town, not the Sarah Cracknell-fronted indy electro darlings). Aged just 18, he pulled off the goal that had us all convinced he was The One. Collecting a pass from David Beckham, Owen set off on a winding run through the Argentina defence, snaking through it like a raging, coursing river, before letting fly just outside the penalty box, with the ball whistling past goalkeeper Carlos Roa.
While Beckham would get sent off just after half-time for his petulant kickout at the odious Gabriel Batistuta, and the game would end ingloriously on penalties (with Argentina progressing to the quarter-finals), that one goal would be burned in our memories as the start of something new.
The following season’s home Chelsea league fixture against Liverpool was a must-attend. We all wanted to see the wunderkind who’d lifted our hopes that summer.
For Liverpool, Owen would deliver 158 goals in 297 appearances (take note, F Torres). However, by the time the-then 26-year-old made a Mr. Big Pants move to Real Madrid, his star – even with such a prodigious goal record at Anfield – had already started to wain. Some say it had faded by the time he turned 21.
The injury years
Today, Michael Owen may be preparing for retirement with a multitude of records to his name, but the one least likely to appear in his private trophy cabinet is the title of “Most Likely To Be Found On A Treatment Table”. Like a footballing meteor lighting up the night sky, Owen’s early promise did, let’s be honest, fizzle somewhat, thanks to injuries which surely couldn’t have been helped by being thrust onto the world stage so young.
Owen’s switch to Madrid produced a solitary season of just 40 appearances with Galacticos like Zidane, Figo, Carlos and Raul, and a return of just 14 goals. But as inevitable as injuries were, part of the problem was the fit: he just missed the Premier League. Who can blame him?
Returning to England, Owen could have gone back to Liverpool: he wanted to, but the record shows that one Rafa Benitez wasn’t interested. I’ll say no more than that. Instead. Newcastle took him on, until a broken metatarsal playing for England at the end of 2005 led to a year out, and Owen was never the same player again, though 30 goals in 79 games for Newcastle is still not that bad.
After Owen parted company with Newcastle in 2009, Sir Alex Ferguson took a punt and brought the striker to Manchester United. A 30-year-old striker is not necessarily a bad thing. Look at Didier Drogba. But at 30 Owen was, in Premier League years, and old man. Still, he gave Manchester United 17 strikes in 52 games, and another couple of seasons at a top club, before moving this season to Stoke for just seven appearances so far and a single goal.
No one, however, is that surprised Owen has chosen to retire at the and of this season. Injuries not withstanding, the fire that tore apart the Argentinian defence in 1998 has long since been reduced to a flickering flame.
You could argue that the 15 years since Saint-Étienne have seen diminishing returns. But let’s not quibble too much. Some things aren’t meant to last long: Jimi Hendrix only made three proper albums; The Beatles broke up less than 10 years into their recording career; and it is true that a Big Mac is over with too soon. If only for that one goal in France in 1998, we can be thankful that Michael Owen blazed. It was just a bit early, and didn’t last long.
So will QPR escape relegation this season? My heart says yes, but my head thinks they might be heading for the drop.
And if Rangers return to The Championship there might be some significant plundering for Premiership managers on the hunt for a bargain or two, and Arsene Wenger is likely to be first in the queue.
QPR have three players that he has chased with in the past and they could significantly strengthen the Arsenal squad for not an especially huge outlay. And they would probably all sign for The Gunners even if they don’t have Champions League football next season.
Arsenal’s interest in Christopher Samba is well documented. And I think that he could well be the player the Gunners turn to if, as expected Ashley Williams, arguably the team’s number one target joins his ex-boss at Liverpool. His wages might be an issue, but possibly less of one if as expected Arsenal junk their strict wages policy.
Then today The Daily Express is reporting that French striker Loic Remy has a clause in his contract that will allow him to walk if QPR go down.
The paper says that Remy could be available for as little as £4million. The player has scored three times in his six appearances for Rangers and has a reputation from his days in France for being an energetic and deadly finisher.
Arsenal have a trio of strikers – Park, Bendtner and Chamakh – who will leave in the summer and if Wenger does opt for his number one target Stevan Jovetic, he will still be in the market for an out and out striker. Remu would certainly fit that bill.
Finally there’s Junior Hoilett, a player who has had a chequered career at Rangers but is still young – he is 22 – and Wenger (who has expressed his admiration for the player in the past) may feel that he could do a job for Arsenal.
Push comes to shove my favourite unheralded psych pop album of the 90s is the debut from the Orgone Box. It is a power pop tour de force where every track boasts a stellar tune, soaring harmonies and wonderfully psychedelic guitar.
The great news is that it is going to reissued shortly on vinyl. I know there is a CD version but In am not sure that it was ever released on vinyl which makes the news from SugarBush even more exciting.
The record will be out in May and according to the label the track listing is revised and there is one new track. The band’s main man Rick Corcoran has re-recorded a few of the 4 track numbers with new vocals and backing and there is also a totally new version of what is possibly the band’s signature song, Mirrorball.
The album is limited to 500 copies with the first 100 issued on blue and black vinyl, in homage to the op art sleeve. The further 400 will be on blue vinyl.
The album rounds up many of the best songs that the band produced in their early years which are presented here either as singles or session versions that they performed for the BBC. It includes the nearest thing they had to a hit, Jet Set Junta (kind of what Inspiral Carpets) might have sounded like if they had gone to Eton) their classic early single He’s Frank and the record they put out on the iconic El Records label, Reach for Your Gun.
Well after yesterday’s revelation that Yaya Toure could be about to quit Mnan City the papers today are hinting that Chelsea could be favourites, alongside Real Madrid, to land the 29 year old.
ESPN suggests that Chelsea see Toure as the perfect replacement for England international Frank Lampard, who may or many no be with the club after the summer.
Chelsea are one of only a handful of clubs in the world who could afford to match Toure’s current wages which rank at £220,000 a week.
There doesn’t appear to be too much weight to this story, but it is one to keep an eye on.
Meanwhile the Express suggests that Chelsea are a step nearer signing Atletico Madrid’s sensational striker Radamel Falcao after the club had a secret meeting with the player at the weekend.
According to The Express Spanish TV station Punto Pelota claims a secret meeting between Atletico Madrid and Chelsea took place on Sunday to discuss a proposed move for Falcao. There are however a few sticking points namely that as part of any deal with Chelsea, the club want to keep Chelsea’s on loan goalkeeper Thiabut Courtois another year.
Falcao would be a hugely impressive addition to the Chelsea squad. Were Toure to sign too surely Chelsea would start the season being perceived as potential Premiership winners.
It now seems almost certain that Arsenal right back Bacary Sagna will be leaving the club in the summer window with PSG among the favourites to land the player.
But who will Arsenal line up to replace him? The big decision for Wenger is whether to promote the promising England youngster Carl Jenkinson, or to buy a first choice right back.
Goal.com claims that Wenger is set to buy a right back who can challenge Jenkinson and that Sochaux’s Sebastien Corchia and Swansea’s Angel Rangel are top of the list for now.
Corchia has represented France at Under-21, Under-19, Under-18 and Under-17 level, but ironically is being kept out of the full French team by Sagna. He has had an excellent season and at 22 is slightly older than Jenkinson.
If Wenger wants to plump for experience then 30 year old Rangel would be the better option. He has a contract until 2016.
One Premiership player that has certainly caught the eye this season is Aston Villa’s Christian Benteke. There are ongoing whispers that Benetke is keen to move to the north London club and his form of 22 goals this season in 37 appearances means that he is on many managers shortlists.
So Arsenal fans – tell me what you think about Thomas Vermaelen? It seems pretty clear now that Arsenal’s captain is very much Wenger’s third choice centre back behind Mertesacker and Koscielny. And to make matters worse for Vermaelen both players have been talking recently about how they are committed to the club and see their future in London.
Conversely the Belgian defender hasn’t had the best of seasons and his performances have been dogged by poor positional play, wayward passing and misunderstandings with his partners. In spite of this he has apparently caught the eye of the scouts from Barcelona who, if sources are to be believed, have penciled him in as the next player to move from The Emirates to the Nou Camp.
Here then is a quick snapshot of what Arsenal have been like with and without Vermaelen this year courtesy of WhoScored.Com. In some ways it is a slightly skewed view as he has obviously played many more games than he has missed. Nevertheless there is the emergence of a trend that shows that Arsenal’s defences are meaner without the Belgian. And when he has not started Arsenal have not lost a game.
I do wonder if the Mertesacker and Koscielny pairing will be a standard fixture (unless one of them gets injured) until the end of the season. Vermaelen’s dip in form could mean that he becomes the next player to exit The Emirates.
Of course stats only ever tell apart of the story, but it clearly is a interesting read.
The slightly concerning part for me at at least was that it suggests that Jovetic would operate best as support striker behind the main man – presumably Giroud. Isn’t this where Arsenal get the best value from Cazorla though?
Maybe Wenger has plans to turn Jovetic into a more out and out striker. Anyhow with a return of 12 goals from 24 games he has had a pretty good season so far. The site also says that he has created 48 chances and has a passing accuracy rate of 78% which is a little lower than several Arsenal players.
Here’s the chart that shows where the shots have come from.
Also this afternoon the Express is reporting that Fernando Amorebieta of Athletic Bilbao is keen on a move to The Emirates, the tough tackling Venezuelan central defender has been sidelined a little at Bilbao this season and is keen to look for a new challenge.