Posts Tagged ‘Arsenal’

Accessories, Football

Arsenal planning double raid on Liverpool – goalkeeper and winger on Wenger’s radar

By Stefano on December 15th, 2012

There has been a lot of Arsenal-related transfer news in the last few hours. Though today it isn’t all about where Theo Walcott will spend the next part of his career, but about the list of players that Arsene Wenger is after in a bid to add steel to his rather brittle squad.

The Mirror has a run down of those targets and the likelihood of them arriving at The Emirates. It lists the usual suspects;  Huntelaar, Zaha and Southampton’s Luke Shaw, but suggests that Montpellier’s Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa is likely to end up in Italy.

The Mirror’s big story is that keeper Pepe Reina’s move to Arsenal is gaining momentum. It does point out though that there may be sticking points.

It says

Wenger tried to sign Reina two summers ago and Arsenal believe there’s a chance Liverpool will be willing to cash in and go for Birmingham’s England prospect Jack Butland as a replacement.

Spain international Reina, who has had an indifferent season, is on £110,000-a-week wages, which is likely to be a major issue for Arsenal.

Arsenal are also been strongly linked with another Liverpool player who apparently has an exit on his mind.

The Sun says that the Gunners are reported to be lining up a bid for want-away winger Raheem Sterling. The youngster has 18 months left on his contract but is allegedly not keen on signing a new deal. The article suggests that Arsenal will offer Theo Walcott in a swap deal for the talented winger. Manchester United are also keen on Sterling, but then they have also be linked with Walcott and Arsenal’s other key target Wilfried Zaha.

Meanwhile The Mail suggests that the Gunners are still very keen on West Ham’s midfielder Momo Diame, and that Arsenal are trying to use a loan move deal for out of sorts striker Marouane Chamakh as bait. The Morrocan striker was superb in his last season at Bordeaux and showed flashes of genius in his first couple of months at The Emirates. However his form for Arsenal since then has been woeful. The Mail also reports  that Arsenal are chasing Toulouse right back Serge Aurier as a potential long term replacement for Bacary Sagna.

Finally The Metro suggests that Arsenal are about to announce new long contracts with its quartet of young British stars. Jack Wilshere, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Aaron Ramsey are all about to pen to paper and Carl Jenkinson apparently signed a new contract a few weeks back.

 

 



Football

Why Liverpool can still qualify for The Champions League

By Stefano on December 14th, 2012

After the recent win against West Ham, Steven Gerard emphasised that he is certain that Liverpool can qualify for The Champions League this season. He told The Liverpool Echo…

“We’re building slowly towards where we want to be. We’ve got two home games now against Aston Villa and Fulham. If we can capitalise and make it 12 points out of 12 then we will find ourselves a lot closer to fourth.”

“It’s a platform to build on. We just have to focus on Villa now. Come the end of December we’re really looking to be close to that fourth position.”

I don’t think this is blind optimism on his part, there are quite a few reasons why Liverpool will finish top four and maybe even press Chelsea for third place.

1 They are now on the cusp of a putting a run together. Remember the Reds’ start to the season and games against Arsenal and the two Manchester clubs? Things are going to get a bit easier for them now with the next five opponents being Villa, Fulham, Stoke, QPR and Sunderland all of which are very winnable games. Three or four wins on the spin should get confidence levels up. Rodgers told The Indie

“If we can arrive in January in and around that top four then we can really put our foot to the floor, when the confidence will be improved even more and players will be aligned with what we’re trying to achieve. I believe we can have a good second half of the season.”

2 Their rivals are still not consistent enough – Arsenal are all over the place at the moment, Everton and Spurs keep tripping up and none one, apart from maybe Steve Clarke, believes that West Brom will be in the mix come the end of the season. Fourth place is Liverpool’s for the taking.

3 The team seems more comfortable playing Brendan Rodgers way. It has taken some time for the team to adapt but the Reds are starting to suit the manager’s preference for a quick, pressing game. Key players like Johnson, Shelvey and Allen are hitting form and Gerard finding the net again is great news for the Reds.

4 They will strengthen in the Winter break. Not replacing Andy Carroll was borderline calamitous. Liverpool need at least two forward players, one to play along side Luis Suarez and another for cover. Daniel Sturridge looks like a great buy and Tom Ince could be a very useful squad player.

Pic PA



Football

Walcott Crucial for Gunners’ Reading Trip

By Stefano on December 14th, 2012

On Monday night, Arsenal return to the scene of their incredible 7-5 win over Reading in the Capital One Cup, and will be desperate to bounce back strongly from their embarrassing midweek defeat to Bradford City.

Arsene Wenger’s team selections this season have generally been predictable, but he’s struggled to decide on his best right-sided midfielder. Theo Walcott has started there five times, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Aaron Ramsey four times each, and Gervinho has played there on three occasions. Walcott missed the Bradford defeat with a calf injury, but seems likely to be fit for his game at the Madejski.

If Walcott is available, Wenger must pick him. Walcott hit a fine hat-trick in the 7-5, and his raw pace will be crucial up against Reading’s Nicky Shorey, who lacks speed. Playing Walcott and Olivier Giroud together gives opponents a positional dilemma: the natural approach against Giroud is to push the defence high up the pitch, keeping the Frenchman away from the penalty box, but Walcott’s speed makes a high defensive line problematic.

Despite his lack of starts, Walcott remains Arsenal’s joint-highest league this campaign and their most prolific assistor, and while Wenger might be reluctant to pick him because of the ongoing stand-off regarding a new contract, Arsenal can’t afford to do without such a key attacking weapon.

If Walcott is injured, Wenger should turn to Oxlade-Chamberlain, telling him to stay wide and dribble at Shorey. Out-of-form Gervinho would also offer pace, but Ramsey would be a negative selection: left-back is Reading’s weak spot, and Arsenal need to attack it directly.

This post courtesy of Pick Our Team is by Michael Cox. PickOurTeam is a new type of football community giving fans an opportunity to have a meaningful say on the formation and selection of their team. PickOurTeam is the voice of the fans – collecting views on who should play where and ratings on how the players, manager, and referee perform each week. Every match the findings are compiled and presented back to the fans. The article was originally posted here.

Pic from PA



Football

Theo Walcott is on his way to United/Chelsea/City/Juve/nowhere

By Stefano on December 14th, 2012

There’s a lot of news about Arsenal’s speedy winger this morning, though, let’s just say that very little of it falls into ‘from the horse’s mouth’ category and you should take it all with a tankard of salt.

Until a few weeks ago it seemed that Theo Walcott would possibly end up at Liverpool leading the line alongside Suarez. Then Arsenal fans were given a  glimmer of hope with Wenger stating that he wouldn’t let the player go and that he would be with Arsenal til the end of the season at least.

Yesterday it seemed that the new frontrunners for Walcott were United who are hoping to rekindle the Van Persie/Walcott partnership that spawned so many goals last season.

Today the baton has been passed on to Chelsea. The Sun reckons that Benitez will test Arsenal’s resolve with a £15 million bid for Walcott (who remember, can walk away for nothing at the end of the season) and that because he likes living in London he favours the westward move.

But what’s this? It appears that Juve are happy to give Walcott the £95k a week has has asked for and we shouldn’t forget City who have been making noises about Walcott for a while now.

And in all this time neither Arsene Wenger or Theo Walcott has said anything meaningful about his situation. Expect this one to (like its subject) run and run.

Pic PA

 



Football

Barcelona has highest number of its players in European elite leagues – but you’ll never guess who is second

By Stefano on December 13th, 2012

A few years ago I wondered if Arsenal had the highest number of its ex-players in the Premiership. It seemed that every club had their own product of the Arsenal youth team whether they be a Sidwell, Hoyte or a Bothroyd.

However the latest figures of who has the most of its players (ok you can call some of them rejects) playing in Elite Leagues across Europe have been compiled by the always excellent Sporting Intelligence and you can guess who is top.

Yep those crafty Catalans of Barcelona have produced 38 players at top-flight clubs in either Spain’s La Liga, England’s Premier League, Italy’s Serie A, Germany’s Bundesliga 1 or France’s Ligue 1.

The post classifies the words ‘produced’ as

A player spent three or more years within the development programme of the club in question specifically between the ages of 15 and 21, which are considered a footballer’s most important ‘formative’ years.

The big surprise is whose academy is in second. Nope it is not Arsenal (a lowly 13th), United (5th), Bayern Munich (6th) or even Real Madrid (3rd,) but French side Olympique Lyonnais which has 31 players in the elite leagues. The list of their ex players is hugely impressive and you can see it here. I guess their high showing, along with the even more unlikely Stade Rennais who nabbed 4th, is because they not only ship out players to other French teams but also get their best players snapped up by English and Italian teams. Notable graduates from the Rennes academy include; Petr Čech, Stéphane Mbia and Jimmy Briand.

Aston Villa, Spurs, West Ham and Newcastle all make the 40, but there’s no sign of moneybags Chelsea and Man City.

Pic from PA



Football

Secret talks? Is Fergie lining up Pep Guardiola as the next Man United manager?

By Stefano on December 13th, 2012

There’s an intriguing bit of journalism from the Daily Mirror this morning which seeks to add one and one and make seven.

According to the paper Pep Guardiola is now in the hot seat not for a job in London with Chelsea or even Arsenal, both of whom could be looking for managers come the summer, but United.

And how does the Mirror come to this conclusion?

Sir Alex Ferguson will spend next week in New York… raising the intriguing possibility of fresh talks with Pep Guardiola.

Manchester United boss Fergie will fly to the States after Saturday’s game against Sunderland, to conduct business in the Big Apple relating to his role as the club’s ambassador to the Americas.

Ferguson owns an apartment in the city – where his eldest son Mark lives with his young family – which makes him a neighbour of former Barcelona manager Guardiola, who is renting a property overlooking Central Park for a year.

So they will be in same city at the same time. Also one of Fergie’s sons is Guardiola’s neighbour. On that evidence it seems like a dead cert that the ex Barca man will be leading the Reds out next season then.

Seriously though the hot gossip in Spain is that Guardiola will end  up managing a Manchester and not a London club. The thoughtful, and rather stylish Spaniard, is unlikely to want the lack of job security offered by Chelsea and although he has good relations with Arsene Wenger and the Arsenal board, it is unlikely that he would take a job of a team that wasn’t in the Champions league – a very real prospect for Arsenal next season.

Fergie can’t go on forever and as attractive as Jose Mourinho might seem, both the Scot and and his board would probably favour a less controversial figure.

Btw don’t take The Mirror too seriously – it was predicting that Pep would be an Arsenal man yesterday.

Also check out why we think that Pep is the most stylish man in football.

 



Football

Arsenal CEO Ivan Gazidis tells the fans – Arsene has plenty of money to spend

By Stefano on December 12th, 2012

Some interesting news courtesy of Arsenal expert Tim Payton, who has been sharing on Twitter and BBC Five Live what exactly went on at the Arsenal Supporters Trust meeting tonight.

Over 100 fans turned up to quiz Arsenal CEO Ivan Gazidis about the club’s finances, future and more and, credit to the guy, he apparently spent over two hours answering their questions. Gazidis even kicked off with an apology saying that the Capital One Cup defeat at Bradford simply wasn’t good enough. He also thanked the travelling fans last night and said that he was working to put things right.

The most interesting snippet though is that Gazidis said in no uncertain terms that Arsene Wenger has a sizeable war chest of cash to spend on the players he wants. There are no financial restrictions and that significant funds are available.

Tim Payton was clearly impressed by the  CEO’s openness and honesty. He tweeted.

Ivan brief tonight and best I’ve heard him. No spin. Just apologies & says knows has to be better. Asks fans to give views to his colleagues

Payton was also interviewed by Sky News and told them

“This is the most difficult time in Arsene’s 16 years and both the club and himself need to change direction quickly if his wonderful era is not to end on a sad note.

“The Arsenal Supporters’ Trust cannot fathom why £70m was left untouched this summer.

“Arsene needs to get over his distaste for spending and use the resources that, after all, are provided by the hard-pressed fans who watch the team.

“The AST believe a shake-up is needed. We would like to see new, younger blood added to the board, and they also need to exercise more control and direction over Arsene’s football strategy.

“One man cannot direct all transfer targets, wages, coaching methods and manage the team at games. It’s too much for one man.”

Pic PA
 

 



Football

Are Arsenal fans really serious about wanting Arsene Wenger to get the sack?

By Stefano on December 11th, 2012

Well, what an incredible game. First up credit where it is due, Bradford played like a side at least two divisions higher than their current league status.

However, this should have been an easy win for Arsenal, especially given the strength of the team that Wenger put out, and Arsenal really ought to have had this game wrapped up with many minutes to spare.

Incredibly it took 70 minutes before Arsenal got their first shot on target and it wasn’t until the arrival of late substitutes Oxlade Chamberlain and Rosicky that they looked like a team that really wanted to win.

Were Arsenal really that bad though? Carzola and Wilshere both had solid games but the team lack presence in the middle of the park. Also Arsenal’s front line of Podolski, Gervinho and Ramsey were woeful and for much of the game barely threatened Bradford’s defence at all.

So should sports writers now be penning Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal obituary? Not really. It is inconceivable that Arsene Wenger will leave Arsenal before the end of the season, even if Arsenal struggle to finish in the top four.

The clamour for the club to look for an alternative approach and a different manager will only grow stronger though. Already BBC Five Live has been inundated with callers suggesting that Arsene gets his P45. It won’t happen though.

Ultimately Wenger is paying the price for not properly replacing his star striker Robin Van Persie. He is also discovering that Gervinho and Podolski are not the players he hoped. A serious injection of new talent in the window could change everything though. The team are still in the Champions League and not too far off the top four in the Premiership.

Arsenal fans should be careful what you wish for. The last time Arsenal changed its manager half way through a season, back in 1995, it took two years for the club to properly recover. And the man who transformed the club then – his name was Arsene Wenger. Whether he has the energy or the vision to take the club further in the long term remains to be seen, but he is not going anywhere in the forseeable future. Wenger has shepherded the club through one of its most successful eras, he deserves at the very least to be able to leave with dignity and at his own choosing.

Update – Wenger told the BBC ‘we put a great deal of effort into the game, but it didn’t work for us. Upfront we were not really incisive and didn’t hurt Bradford enough. ‘ Asked whether he thought it was humiliating for Arsenal Wenger responded ‘It wasn’t humiliating more frustrating, I have to give credit to Bradford.’

Wenger is now 4-1 to get the sack.



Football

Arsenal to sign Nani. Walcott to United. Has Arsene Wenger completely lost the plot?

By Stefano on December 11th, 2012

Ok, so it is just weeks before the transfer window moves from being a squillion speculative articles to a precious few days when deals can be done, contracts signed and managers re-asessed. So we are still in silly season mode.

One story that Gunners fans probably hope is the product of a over active imagination is the mooted move of Manchester United’s out of favour winger Nani to Arsenal for what one paper says could be around £20 million and others are suggesting might be a straight swap for Theo Walcott. By the reaction of Arsenal blogs and forums this really would not go down well.

What Arsene Wenger and the Arsenal board need at the moment is to re-earn the trust of the Arsenal fans. Signing Nani would torpedo that potentially for good.

Ok, in the interest of balance let’s look at the positives. Nani is undoubtedly a talented player who had his moments at United. I remember him tearing Arsenal apart at a game at The Emirates a few seasons ago.  He has also had several years experience of playing in the Premiership – unlike a lot of Wenger’s mooted signings – so there would be no settling in time. He is also quite a marketable player. If he were a success expect to see lot of shirts with his name on around The Emirates. In these recessionary times we shouldn’t forget that Nani is lot cheaper to display on the back of your shirt than say, Oxlade Chamberlain!

Many Arsenal fans though have a real downer on the player believing that his inconsistency betrays a very real talent. From laziness through to a propensity to fall over at the slightest nudge he doesn’t seem in any way to be the answer to Arsenal’s rather pressing problems.

Even if he weren’t playing for United I guess most fans would be aghast at the signing. But taking a reject from one of the team’s biggest rivals makes you run the risk of being seen as a laughing stock.

Over the last three years Arsenal have sold their best players and replaced them with signings who are on balance 20% less talented. Carzola may be great but he is not Fabregas. Giroud is no Van Perise and Gervinho no Nasri. Nani is a downgrade on Walcott – 20% less talented, committed and useful.

To make things worse one possible option would have Walcott going the opposite way in a swap deal. Losing Walcott would be terrible. Losing him to a Premiership club would be disastrous. Losing him to the team that already has the player he teamed up so well with at the end of last season is unforgivable.

I am sure that most Arsenal fans are hoping that the Nani deal is little more than a bit of old school paper talk and that Wenger has Zaha already lined up. If Nani does end up at The Emirates though and isn’t amazing in his first four games, then Arsene Wenger might find that even fewer people, still subscribe to the Arsene Knows creed.

Btw here’s why tonight’s game against Bradford could be the Gunners biggest game of the year so far.

 



Football

Now Fergie wants Zaha at United, and has a cunning plan to land him

By Stefano on December 9th, 2012

In case you hadn’t  noticed the transfer window is now just three weeks away and one player who is set to become one of the most in demand over that period is Wilfried Zaha.

The Palace winger has long been a target for Arsenal and now it appears other premiership clubs are keen to land him too. Step forward Sir Alex Ferguson who not only has a £10 million bid in the pipeline, according to the Mail, but also is willing to let Zaha stay at Palace for the rest of the season. United have already done a similar deal 2010 when they bought £8m defender Chris Smalling from Fulham but allowed the defender to stay at the club.

The deal could prove very attractive  to promotion chasing Palace whose boss, Ian Holloway  is adamant that he doesn’t want to let Zaha go in the transfer window.

It could be hugely bad news for Arsenal who appear to have earmarked Zaha as a replacement for Theo Walcott, who seems destined to be leaving the club in the window. Wenger clearly would want Zaha in Arsenal colours a lot sooner than August.



Football

Arsene says no January sale for Theo Walcott – but is he at odds with the Arsenal board?

By Stefano on December 8th, 2012

The Daily Mail has what it is billing as an exclusive today. According to the paper…

1 In spite of the public perception that talks between Theo Walcott and the club are ongoing,  no formal discussions between the two parties have taken place since August 28. The last offer on the table was a five-year £75,000-per-week deal.

2 That Wenger is desperate to cling on  to his in-form winger for the rest of the season knowing that Walcott could leave on a free transfer in the summer. However Wenger also wanted to keep Van Persie and Nasri but he was over ruled by the board and both were sold with less than 12 months on their contracts. So if the board gets its way Walcott will be sold in January with Chelsea  Liverpool and Manchester City the front runners.

All this in spite of strong rumours that Walcott wants to stay at the club.

He might have been dogged by injuries, but Walcott has been very impressive this season and is clearly forming a useful partnership with new striker Olivier Giroud. His crosses from the right have been a source of seven Arsenal goals and he also netted ten himself.

What the fans can’t understand is why the club won’t make an improved offer to arguably the club’s most in-form player. The financial gap between the two parties is apparently only a few thousand a week. The other sticking point is that Walcott is adamant that he wants to play as a striker.

Given the club’s shortage of front men many fans feel Wenger has missed a trick this season not to experiment with Walcott through the middle. What is even more galling for Arsenal faithful is that Wenger was prepared to give Gervinho a striking berth which, apart from brief  flashes of genius, has been wholly unsuccessful.

It appears that Walcott has the respect and support of a large section of Arsenal fans and were he to leave, unlike Nasri, Van Persie, Toure and other Arsenal emigres, the fans would blame the club and the manager and not the player.

Of course the side could pull a huge rabbit out of the hat by signing the highly rated Wilfried Zaha from Crystal Palace. Whether that would be enough for the fans to forget their speedy winger remains to be seen.



Football

Forget Europe – Arsenal’s number one priority should be The Capital One Cup

By Stefano on December 4th, 2012

Tonight a significantly under strength Arsenal team gave Olympiacos a run for their money in Athens. Ok, so the Gunners had no answer to the second Greek goal, but there were some encouraging signs for Wenger in the sprightly performance of Alex Oxlade Chamberlain and especially the attacking football of Tomas Rosicky, whose direct style they have missed terribly.

On Saturday the Gunners face West Brom in what it already being billed as a win or bust match for the team. Lose that game and the clamour for change at the top will grew significantly louder. Ironically though as important as the Baggies’ visit is it is the game next Tuesday that may prove to be of greater significance for The Gunners.

The Arsenal cup drought now extends to seven seasons. If it is not going to be eight Arsenal will either have to win the FA Cup or the Capital One Cup. I am assuming that any number of European teams will be too strong for them and that the Premiership title really is gone now too.

So the Capital One Cup presents a great opportunity for Arsene to get his hands on some silverware. A win against Bradford, which even an under performing Arsenal side should surely manage, would propel the team into the last four. Of the remaining seven teams the only side that Arsenal really need fear is Chelsea and heaven knows what type of state (and indeed who the manager might be) they will be if they qualify for the semis.

The thing about the Capital One cup is that it does provide a club with chance to feel like they are winners. The current Arsenal squad do not have the look and feel of a team of winners, though many players have actually got any medals to show for their footballing endeavours, including; Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Rosicky, Arteta, Podolski, Giroud and Arshavin. The sad part is that none of them were with Arsenal.

Win one competition and the trophyless fog that has descended over The Emirates will be lifted for good. Also Arsenal have a bit of history in using the League Cup to kick start a run of success. George Graham’s first silverware was the League Cup Final of 1987 where they beat Liverpool 2-1 with both the goals coming from Charlie Nicholas. Two years later Graham had his hands on the Championship title and the FA Cup and European success, as well as another league title, followed soon after.

Someone else who knows the value of the League Cup is Fergie. Back in 2006 Manchester United overcame a Wigan side to win the trophy, a game which in many ways reignited his managerial career and lead to a run of Premiership titles.

Finally there is also the feeling that the team might bury that awful moment in the 2011 final when a defensive error gifted the trophy to Birmingham City.

So don’t expect Arsene to be playing down the Capital One Cup, it could be Arsenal’s most important competition this year.



Football

Why Manchester City need the Europa League like a hole in the head

By Stefano on December 4th, 2012

So Champions League Group D, aka The group of Death, has turned out to be a bit of a mare for City. With no chance of qualification Mancini’s men will clearly be glad to see the back of it tonight too as they head off to Germany to face group leaders Borussia Dortmund.

Even if it was a game that City needed to win, it would still be a very tough call. Dortmund have been hugely impressive in the CL this year including drawing 1-1 with the Blues at the Etihad Stadium in October.

Bizarrely though City could still continue their European adventure this year as they have an outside chance of qualifying for the Europa League. With Dortmund and Real Madrid having already qualified from the group, City need to beat the German champions and hope third-placed Ajax fail to win at the home of the Spanish title-holders.

Roberto Mancini is certainly playing lip service to the possibility of winning. He said: “We will try, but we need to win in Dortmund and it will not be easy because Dortmund are in a good condition.”There is the Premier League, and the Europa League if we can go in it, and also the FA Cup. The season is long and it is important.”

There is also the chance of a good win sparking off some self-belief in the team, something that seems to be sorely missing this season in spite of the Blue’s impressive home record.

And true to his word Mancini has sent a decent squad over to Germany, unlike Arsene Wenger whose Arsenal squad who play Olympiakos in a fairly meaningless game tonight, features a group of players several of whom are not even regular in the Gunners’ reserve team.

If Mancini has any sense though he will try and play for a face-saving draw or 1-0 defeat. City need the Europa League like a hole in the head. The Premiership is quite possibly still their’s to lose. Their only real rival at the moment are the quieter neighbours and their form has been inconsistent too. Sure the Europa League is still a trophy and it would continue to give City that European experience they so sorely lack. But at the moment it would be a distraction that Mancini really doesn’t need.



Football

Shock stats – If Robin Van Persie had stayed at Arsenal they’d be top and Man United would be 10th

By Stefano on December 3rd, 2012

So says The Daily Mail’s Martin Samuels.

So another difficult weekend for Arsenal in which they were outplayed by Swansea in the first half and then couldn’t find the net in the second only to succumb to two superb late Michu goals.

It was also business as usual – this season anyhow – for Manchester United in going a goal behind and then staging a great fight back to win three points against Reading.

It once again highlights the key differences between the two sides – Mr Robin Van Persie. Just as he scored for fun last season at the Emirates, his goals have propelled United to the top of the Premiership.

Now here’s an amazing statistic. Martin Samuel in the Mail has worked out that had Arsenal kept Robin Van Persie for another season and his goal rate stayed the same then the situation would be reversed. Arsenal would be top of the Premiership and Man United would have been mid-table stragglers.

Martin’s theory runs like this.

United have gone behind to the first goal of the game in 10 Premier League matches and in seven have come back to win. Of those seven, five have featured crucial goals from Van Persie, including the equaliser against Fulham, a hat-trick against Southampton and the winner against Liverpool.

Now consider Arsenal with Van Persie’s 10 league goals this season added to their total. Supplement a single goal from Van Persie to the draws with Sunderland, Stoke City, Manchester City, Fulham, Aston Villa and Everton; add an equaliser to the one-goal defeats by Chelsea, Norwich City and Manchester United. That is a difference of 15 points, or the current spread between Manchester United (top, 36 points) and Arsenal (10th, 21).

Ok, so it isn’t an exact science. For starters United would have another striker, and I don’t just mean Hernandez or Rooney – they would have made a big signing. Also Arsenal’s key problem at the moment appears not be actually getting the ball in the box to their strikers. They simply aren’t creating enough chances at the moment.

It does however underline the folly of Arsenal letting their talismanic captain and goal machine go to one of their biggest rivals. Ultimately Wenger could have kept Van Persie at Arsenal and seen him run out his contract. The Dutchman is professional enough (and savvy enough to know that a good season would keep his price tag high) to have continued his scoring  feats even though both sides knew he would be off at the end of the season. There is of course the argument that his presence in the dressing room would have been a major distraction, but then winning so few home games is a pretty serious distraction anyhow.

Ultimately Arsenal trousered £24 million for selling VP, money that is still sitting in their bank account. Failure to qualify for the Champions League will probably cost the side around that figure and at the moment, and unless they invest heavily in the winter, that’s still a big ask. Also Wenger has seven games to go before he can make any changes, on current form they could be closer to a relegation fight than the CL places.

The event that could change this season significantly would be a Van Persie injury, but there seems to be no sign of that occurring.

So is this another call that Arsene got wrong? Would a Van Persie injury scupper Man United’s season? What do you think?



Football

Why defeat to Swansea might be the catalyst that kick starts Arsenal’s season.

By Stefano on December 1st, 2012

On the way home from the Arsenal game today I heard the following exchange between a pair of middle age Gooners. One said ‘that’s it now we can only expect Arsenal to be like they were in the 80s under Don Howe.’ The other fella responded ‘What no league wins, just the odd cup?’

It then struck me that Arsenal had actually been in this position for seven trophy-less years. It is just that the fans are only beginning to realise it… However in spite of the boo boys and the general pessimism in and around the Emirates today I actually think we might remember the Swansea defeat as being the catalyst that kick started Arsenal’s season.

The logic is this. Wenger had gambled on winning today and the next home game against West Brom which he hoped would propel Arsenal into the top four. They would then put a run together and maybe even press the Mancunians towards the end of the season.

What happened to day was that an exhausted looking team – especially Carzola, Arteta, Podolski – failed to get into gear in the first half and then didn’t take their chances in the second. Swansea were the better team for much of the game and ironically had more possession than Arsenal and played in a way that you’d expect the Gunners to play.

We have of course been here several times already this season and it is clear the Arsenal team, although full of good players, is failing to gel in a way that previous Arsenal teams have.

Ultimately what today did though was ensure that come the Winter transfer window Arsenal will have to spend and spend big. Without an investment in a new creative midfielder, one, possibly two strikers and even another defensive midfielder Arsenal will finish nowhere near fourth. Ivan Gazidis must know this now and any arguments between Wenger and Gazidis about whether there is money to spend are surely redundant given the investment from the new Emirates deal. Maybe there will be the odd high profile loan deal too – Fabregas back? You heard it here first!

Quite frankly the one thing that can save Arsenal season is the arrival of some big marquee signings that can add bite to the team and instill confidence in some excellent, but under performing players. Wenger can talk all he likes about the return of Thierry Henry. What he really ought to be focusing on is signing the next Henry.

So, as depressing a result as today is for Arsenal fans it should ensure at the very least some big deals are on the cards. Had the team won today and beaten West Brom the situation would have been less clear. Wenger, not the most flexible of men, would at least have a case foe carrying on with Plan A. Now for Wenger and Gazidis it is crystal clear. That Champions League place really is in the balance.




©2012 Shiny Digital Privacy Policy
-->