Friday, 30 December 2011

Return Of The King?

I have read many opinions on why we should or should not sign Thierry including many opinions from friends I go to games with.

The argument of wanting to remember Thierry at his peak or not ruin his legacy is a fair one but I for one would risk Thierry’s legacy for a top four finish. I love Thierry; but I love Arsenal football club more.

Saying all that, I would much rather get that permanent striker in which will mean more support for Robin and perhaps show the ambition that Robin wants to see.

But even getting a permanent striker may prove difficult; a potential player will know he will play second choice to Robin and its not like we can pay them 200k to sit in the bench (unlike some; some even pay others to play for someone else but we will leave that for another day).

It’s a real dilemma. Podolski has been rumoured and that would provide a much longer term option and I would be happy enough with that. The downside to a short term replacement is that when March/April comes, Arsenal will need fresh legs and the Podolski type signing can give that where as the Thierry Henry signing cannot.

Being in the away section at Man City, I would have given anything to have Thierry Henry on the bench and bring him on for the last 20 minutes or so. He just offers something different and I know it was only pre-season but he did not look too shabby in the Emirates cup and has been training with Arsenal so only the club know what level he is at.

The other issue that is talked about is what sort of impact this may have on current captain and star man Robin Van Persie. I believe Thierry is a smart man, and a smart man will know he is not the player he once was and knows he will not be the star man. Thierry Henry is not here to replace Robin Van Persie, Thierry Henry is not here to play in Robin Van Persie’s position, Thierry Henry is not here to return as captain. Thierry Henry is here to literally lend a hand when needed.

An Ideal solution would be to bring Thierry in along with a long term permanent offensive player and one that most would be very pleased about.

I know the romantic and emotional personalities among us do not want to see Thierry reputation tarnished but I would be prepared to take the risk if it gives an advantage to Arsenal football club.

After all; how can anyone forget Thierry’s 226 goals for this football club and in case you do forget, there is a massive statue outside!

And if he re-signs, what are the odds on a goal against Man Utd and Spurs at home in January and February respectively? Worth a punt id say. (If he does sign!)

Friday, 9 December 2011

Statue day / Thierry's Emotional speech

A day filled with class from a club with class.

Our day started with a few of us being invited to one of the club level suites and being greeted with a cocktail reception along with a small finger buffet. I enjoyed my Champagne and glass of wine and the Legend DVDs on show.

Ivan Gazidis welcomed us by saying a few words.

We got taken downstairs where we were in a school like queue; we waited around because someone was late... that someone was Arsene Wenger. He then came and signed a few autographs and walked past us along with the directors and chairman of the club.

Then this tall Frenchman, who I am told scored 226 goals for our wonderful football club walked past and shook a few hands (including mine!).

We were taken to each statue separately and speeches were given by Peter Hill-Wood, Arsene Wenger and off course, Thierry Henry.

Thierry's speech was superb, his love for the club was genuine and he broke down while speaking and the crowd helped fill the silence by chanting his name. Thierry ended his speech with his legendary 'Once a Gooner, Always A Gooner' line.

Maria even had a chance to shout her 'Come On You Gunners' which is very well known within Arsenal supporters.

The game vs Everton will also be just as special and I hope all Gooners enjoy the game; After all, its a game we must win!

Here are a few snaps from the day:

Thursday, 8 December 2011

The English Teams In Europe Dilemma

Firstly let me apologise for my absence in regards to blog posts. New job along with the away trips (which have been epic by the way) have taken it out of me!

Watching this weeks Champions League action got me thinking about what I want to happen and what is best for Arsenal football club.

On one hand, our record against English teams in Europe is quite poor. Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool have knocked us out in the past so if we have ambitions to go far in the competition, the lack of English teams should help us.

But the other hand says we will probably not win the Champions League so finishing fourth is a MUST and therefore the more games our rivals play, the better. Yes going out of the Champions League means playing in the Europa League on Thursday nights but do we really think the big teams will play their strongest team? I don’t think so.

For me, Man City and Man Utd are a bit far off and even though a good run off form can see us catch them, it seems unlikely. Chelsea on the other hand, are only two points ahead and if they had gone out the other night then come February, they would have had a real advantage in the league. Imagine having to play a European away game then go to Everton or Liverpool and having Chelsea fresh.

It was one of them dilemma’s I had while watching the games and even though seeing Chelsea go out would have meant, the small club in crisis would be the only English team left in the Champions League, the possible fixture congestion (for Chelsea) can only be a positive.

If Arsenal avoids the two big Spanish teams, then you just never know what can happen.


Friday, 4 November 2011

Punishment In Sport

Looking around sport and seeing the types of punishments being handed out has really got me thinking.

On a day where Cricket has grabbed the headlines, I have thought about punishments in general (sport and society).

I have always been a bit sceptical about the punishments for a straight red card in football. A player can get a straight red card for being the last man and stopping a goal scoring opportunity or equally, a player can get a red card for a leg breaking challenge.

What is the punishment? A three game ban (in most cases). Does a player who has just been caught out of position deserve the same ban as someone who broke the leg of another player? For me, the three match ban should not be so black and white.

Today, the three Pakistani cricketers got a jail sentence but in the big picture, is a jail sentence right?

Take the young lad, M Amir. He was 17 years of age (when he bowled the No Balls) and was obviously leant upon by his captain among others. He was a young player with immense talent and could have been a world star. Coming from Asia, where there has always been rumours of corruption and where poverty exists, you can understand slightly why Amir did what he did; off course it was wrong and he should be punished but most people will have some sympathy.

The three players did wrong and should be punished; some agree with a jail sentence and some do not.

I look at Salman Butt’s 30 months (even though he may only be in for half of that) and think I know people that have done a lot less time for assault. Look in our own sport, Joey Barton was jailed for six months for assault. Which one is worse? Is Salman Butt’s crime five times worse then assault? I am not convinced.

I am a big follower of cricket and follow the Indian and English cricket team very closely and go and watch England play every summer ( more this summer because India were here) so I understand the argument of paying customers being cheated and I agree but is jail right?

Others have been known to actually throw a game; players like Mohammad Azharuddin (who was one of my favourite cricketers when growing up) and Hansie Cronje have been given life bans but interestingly no jail sentence. Both were very high profile players and captains of their countries (India and South Africa respectively). Cronje even passed away in a suspicious place crash which shows how deep the problem may go.

I have been told that these illegal bookies do not take NO for an answer and players worry for the safety of themselves along with their family and this may well be a valid argument but without players coming out who have been approached, it will prove very hard to catch these criminals. No man would enjoy threats to their family and there is a level of sympathy there too.

Other players have come out about how they have been approached like Hollioake, Nixon, Akhter etc and this may help the ICC to stop match/spot fixing in cricket.

I have never understood how life bans (in any sport) can be over turned. Once a life ban is given to a player, it should not be rescinded unless there is genuine proof the original ban was incorrect.

Back to the original point and that about punishments in sport and life generally; I asked the question if spot fixing in cricket should get a jail term and I am still undecided. The thought of having someone who has been convicted of spot fixing next to someone who has been convicted or Murder doesn’t sit well with me.

There are many positives to come out of this type of sentencing. Illegal bookmakers and potential players may just think twice about spot/match fixing. With all the sympathy around Amir, an argument can be made that if he is let off lightly, other young players may feel they can do the same. Young players are likely to be targeted as they may not have the experience or know how BUT at the same time, they should be protected a little.

Harsher punishments may be required if corruption in sport is to disappear but if the courts are to get involved then there has to be some consistency, others who spot or match fix must get harsh sentences and other crimes must have sentences that are deserved for the respective crime.

The question remains, some who assaulted another human being got six months in jail and someone who was apart of a major spot fixing case got 30 months.

Regardless of if you agree on the jail time or not, the three players and any others in any sport who match or spot fix deserve to get punished and I for one, never want to see any players who fix anything in sport play again ever.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Stand By Me...Well Us.

Arsene Wenger today showed the passion that most Arsenal supporters are looking for but sadly it was a stuttering performance from the other board members.

The loudest applause was undoubtedly for Ken Friar as he was awarded his own bust and he looked genuinely taken a back when he saw all shareholders and supporters put their hands together.

Most people know about the respect I have for the manager but his speech did not let his fans down. He spoke with passionate and looked as determined as ever. He explained some of the mistakes he has made but vowed to keep fighting.

The AGM started with a stuttering Peter Hill Wood welcoming and telling us the structure of how the meeting will plan out. He told us that we will be hearing from Mr Kroenke and that was met with smiles from the shareholders, fan share members and supporters in the room.

Ivan Gazidis was first up and paid tribute to Danny Fiszman who passed away earlier this year. Ivan then went on to introduce Mr Kroenke and reminded us that he has been on the board for three years. According to Ivan, Fiszman only wanted to sell to Kroenke because he trusted him and believed his values would be upheld at the club.

Ivan moved to team matters and told the room how the club have added youth and experience this summer however, that takes a bit of time to settle (hinting about the slow start) but insists things are on the up.

He spent a minute talking about the superb achievement of the Arsenal ladies team who won the treble and this was greeted with a round of applause too.

The financial side is always debated greatly and Ivan was quick to point out that the club are in a very strong financial position. The debts from the property side are cleared and bank loans are paid so the only debt remaining is now the stadium, which is manageable according to Ivan. The Asia tour has given the club a platform for future tours and further commercial success. Arsenal, according to Ivan have not stood still and have tied down further commercial deals and developed the Arsenal player which is now in 110m homes in 88 different countries.

The plans for the 125 year celebration are done and dusted in terms of planning but are being kept quiet and the club want to keep it that way for a while yet. Arsenal have added a new medical centre at the training ground in a view to help the science in football too.

Ivan ended by reminding us all that Friar and Fiszman built ‘modern Arsenal’ and he is proud of the club values, style and the ‘manager who always puts the club first’. The club are ‘obsessed’ with being successful (Ivan) but ended by saying ‘a football club is more then just football’ and we must stand together to be successful.

Next came the man who we were all waiting to hear from and that was silent Stan. His first words in public were ‘its great to be here’; even though he only arrived a few hours before the meeting but he said the club is ‘great’. The next bit was the talk of the town after the meeting and that was because Kroenke said he was not sure why he had to speak however, some people think that it may have been a joke as he is called silent Stan but others feel he meant it.

Kroenke paid tribute to Fiszman and vowed to continue on his values and said his spirit will live on. Kroenke says he has had other offers to be involved in other teams across Europe but this did not interest him. He only saw how special Arsenal were after the commercial deals with his US teams. Kroenke feels Arsenal have everything to be successful; good management at the top, a good manager on the pitch and fantastic support.

Stan ended by saying he plans a long term future at Arsenal and says he plans to stay here for a long time and insists he loves London ( even though he has only been to a handful of matches and only arrived today and is rumoured to be on a flight back tomorrow!).

Next on the menu were a few questions from shareholders but to be honest, they were not exactly answered by Hill Wood. There was one about the self sustain model but Hill Wood was certain it is the right way to go rather then being dependent on one person and says the future ‘is in our hands’.

Our very own Darren ( @darrenarsenal1 ) asked about Tom Fox’s bonus and we are told Mr Fox hit his targets; what his targets were you ask? No sod knows.

Other questions included ticket prices and the question what if we fall out of the Champions League positions but Hill Wood said the club will try all they can to stay in the top four places ( like we did not know that!). The Fan share scheme is currently being talked about with the AST and board (however, I am not sure how much talking has actually been done!) and the question of David Dein coming back was dismissed and Stan Kroenke even jumped to the defence of Peter Hill Wood by backing him publically.

Peter Hill Wood ended by re-electing board members but forgot one small matter. HE FORGOT TO RE-ELECT STAN KROENKE! He then had to go back and re-elect him. Classic.

Next up was the boss. In my humble opinion, the boss spoke with passion and tried to explain as much as he could why the team failed last season. He blamed himself for going for all four competitions but felt the team were unlucky in Barcelona and at Wembley. Wenger gave credit to supporters and was thankful of the outstanding backing he has had over the last 15 years and that is one of the main reasons why he has been so loyal to our club.

Arsene Wenger agreed we lost two world class players but feels the new players that came in should not be judged so early. He feels that last season the team played too many games between November and January and felt without Fabregas and Van Persie playing much; it difficult to get over the line.

Wenger thought the rise of Wilshere was important and equally he was always under pressure to buy a new goal keeper but thinks everyone agrees that the matter is now closed.

Arsene Wenger insists the team are ready for a ‘fight’ but feels the club must be united with its supporters. Without being united, you have ‘no chance’ he said, ‘so we must be united’ and stand by and trust him and the club.

The full speeches are on Arsenal player but often you may not get the full picture and see the passion of people when they speak but most in the room agreed that Mr Wenger spoke well and spoke like he really cared.

How the other board members spoke? Well that is for one to judge.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Why Disable Supporters Deserve A Special Mention At The Emirates And At All Football Grounds In The Country

When we talk about football fans, we think about the fans that travel up and down the country watching their team play home and away with relative ease. The financial side of going to football matches hurt most supporters’ during a season as money can be tight but apart from the financial constraints, there are relatively few issues that I personally find that stops me watching my beloved Arsenal team play home and away.

There is a section of supporters that find it much trickier but still do what everyone else does. The disable community at Arsenal and in football generally is massive. I want to take the next few minutes to give them the credit they well and truly deserve.

Home or away, sunshine or in rain, they are there. The uncomfortable journey that may occur is not an issue for these supporters and they do not complain nor really care because they want to just support and watch their team play (even though for some travelling is very difficult). I always see these fans turning up and supporting their team every time I go to a football match (club or Country). The section around the ground at the Emirates which seats wheelchairs is always full of enthusiastic football supporters. I often like to talk to them and listen out for their experiences at other grounds and issues they may have had and some of the stories I have heard are incredible; yet they keep coming back and that is a credit to them and football in general.

I know a few purple members and I often meet up with a few before games to have a chat; I have a cousin who is a season ticket holder who was previously a purple member too so I know a lot of about the Season tickets/purple membership. Purple members put in applications for their tickets and the disability team distribute the tickets.

The away tickets work on points like it does with everyone else but travelling up and down the country takes more effort as some people cannot just jump on a train to get to a ground. Some will need to plan much in advance and get someone to drive them along with finding a parking place which is relevantly close to the ground.

I know some that have to pay extraordinary rates for accessible taxis to bring them to games then have to wait a while after games for the taxis to come and pick them up again. (If that is you, then contact your disable ticketing team who can give you a few mini cabs numbers of accessible taxis that the club may have links with).

With the current climate and the recent poor form yet at Arsenal; the support has remained at its best home and certainly away. The Disable community are a massive part of that and sometimes taken for granted. They deserve credit from all football supporters all over the world as Arsenal is not the only club where the disable community is huge; most clubs across the country and abroad have many communities like this that travel across the country (and world) to watch their team play.

Things like this are what makes football so unique and what makes Arsenal football so special.

Thank you.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

15 Years Wenger + Spurs Away

He may not be one for anniversaries but today is the 15 year anniversary of Arsene Wenger at Arsenal.

15 years ago to the day we saw headlines of ‘Arsene Who?’ in the evening standard and the man quickly proved exactly who Arsene is!

The last six or so years have not quite gone to plan but supporters who were around in 1996 (most anyway) would have taken three Premiership tittles (having never won it before) four FA Cups, runners up in the Uefa Cup and Champions League and being in the Champions League every single year (full seasons). On top of that getting to see the lights of Henry, Vieira, Pires and Fabregas grace the Highbury and Emirates pitch.

In recent months, if you believe everything you see and read, you may think his turned into this crazy mad man who knows nothing but if you look at his record over the last 15 years, you can see his perhaps not as crazy as people have made out.

He has made mistakes; well the whole club has but generally, the 15 years have been quite successful and for that you have to credit and respect Mr Arsene Wenger.

The game of the season (for supporters anyway) is the north London derby and the one at the lane is one of the best games of the season. We have won Leagues there, won games in which record number of goals were scored and also had some real crackers there; none more then last season.

Spurs away is a place where I always think Arsenal can step it up a bit and the more senior players will understand what this game means to us. I expect Robin, Ramsey and Sagna etc to be telling all the players about the expectations at the lane.

Defensively we have looked shaky and the concentration for the goal on Wednesday night was shambolic; not only did we not stop the short corner or attempt to stop it, we let a man have a clear run and leap on goal and gave him a totally free header. Concentration is the key defensively. Song is most likely to drop back which means Frimpong is likely to start in the middle of midfield but I personally have not ruled Coquelin starting either.

I said before the Bolton game that I would take four points from the next to League games but having won against Bolton, I would love to sneak a win at the lane but a draw would not be the worst result in the world.

It’s a game that excites me immensely and a positive result will give players and supporters the boast we really need.

Come on you Arsenal !

Friday, 23 September 2011

My Fear That The Current Wage Structure Will Mean More Players Walk Away

I got wind of the questions that were asked about player contracts in the press conference today and like I mentioned on the fans forum, for supporters like us, it’s very concerning that the bridge between our wage structure and other clubs wage structure is ever increasing.

With Robin Van Persie, Theo Walcott, Thomas Vermaelen, Alex Song etc all inside of two years of their contract expiry, the longer the time goes on the more nervous we all get.

I wish after the Barcelona game, all the top players were offered contracts because bar Cesc, they all may have signed!

I am convinced the club will be working hard to get these contracts signed but with the current wage structure it may prove difficult.

It may be time to take a serious look at the wage structures because keeping players will be hard but attracting replacements may be even harder.

Keeping someone like Robin Van Persie is massive in attracting major talent to the Emirates’ in fact keeping Robin and staying in the top four are the two most important things in my opinion in regards to attracting players of the calibre that this club deserve.

Money is dominating the game so if Arsenal are not competing for trophies (the big ones) and if wages are not high enough then you cannot blame the top players for not coming and the top players we already have for leaving; and believe me, that pains me to say, it really does.

For now, concentrate must be on Bolton and the short term is important. Three big games this week and three positive results may make everyone feel a bit better! Certainly will calm me down!

Let’s hope our form against Bolton at home in the last few years continues and we get the much needed three points.

Come on you Arsenal!

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

If You Think Its Time For Mr Wenger To Go Then Fine But Please No Abuse

Some want him to go and some want him to stay; I have no problem with opinions and views but when any abuse starts, I am out of there (not literally but out of the conversation).

Having been to Old Trafford and Blackburn (away) this season, I have heard the arguments on why Mr Wenger should go and most have been logical but a few then go over board by attacking our most successful manager personally.

The home support is slightly different and overall seems to be undecided on Mr Wenger.

I know football is passionate and when alcohol is involved the passion only increases but to abuse or take the micky out of a man who has won three tittles plus FA Cups is unfair in my opinion.

The man has given me the privilege of watching the lights of Henry and Fabregas along with trophies and finals in every competition we could be in.

Joe Mardon (@thearsenal_) who writes for the Gooner last night talked about how Mr Wenger build the 'modern Arsenal' and he is spot on he went on to say "What ever happens Arsene Wenger is still Arsene Wenger and deserve to be treated as such".

You may think its time for him to go because it has been six or so years since a trophy and the squad does not look as strong as it has in the past so there is an argument and I will not de-value anyone that thinks it is time to move on but I just think there is a way of putting the argument across.

But please, no abuse. I think he deserves some respect.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Swansea / Dortmund/ AST meet- General round up of the last 7 days.

Three points against Swansea was the most important in my opinion, not so much the way we played or the score line, many disagree but I went home pleased with the three points and on as a bonus we got a clean sheet.

The Dortmund game was an interesting one. First half, Dortmund could have been a few up but as the game went on, most of our players stepped up. Song, Sagna, Koscielny were outstanding when defending the one goal lead. Robin Van Persie led the line so well and took his goal brilliantly. In all it was a great point; off course when you’re leading and are pegged back so late on in a game it is disappointing but in the bigger picture it’s a top point.

Sandwiched between the games was the Arsenal supporters trust (AST) meeting and as always, some interesting points came out from it.

Main points included:

  • Fanshare could be paused as there are not enough shares being made available to give to fans who want to join the scheme. Most supporters want it to carry on but unless Mr Kroenke gives shares back (along with Mr Usmanov) then there may be no choice but pause the scheme.
  • The AST will write to Stan and ask him to speak and give some sort of direction for the club.
  • The club and Arsene Wenger have always tried to keep squad harmony high by paying the whole squad well. So it does mean that Abou Diaby is on approx 60k (more then Modric for example) a week and Robin Van Persie is on 70k but this was seen as a way to avoid ego’s and keep morale up. (But some would say it also means that players who are not in the level of Van Persie are over paid and feel too comfortable).
  • There is around 50m in the TPA (transfer proceeds account) according to the AST but with wages and improved contracts to the players who only have two years left i.e. Van Persie, Walcott etc means it gets complicated on what exactly can be spent on new players.
  • The commercial deals with Nike and Emirates only get Arsenal around 15m a year which compared to other clubs is poor. AST think we should be getting at least 50m and that is why the club only break even. The contracts expire in 2014 where Arsenal will be expected to negotiate much better deals.
  • Arteta is a huge signing in terms of money because a 10m transfer fee plus wages means its more nearer 20/25m as he got a four year deal. With Arteta’s age, there is no real re-sale value and that means the club and manager know they cannot recoup much money on the player.
  • The much talked about wage cut taken by Arteta is not that clear cut because he got an extra year on his contract at Arsenal and therefore makes it up.
  • There was a fans forum which consists of gold, silver and red members along with an ethnic minority, a gay and a few other members and the club hinted they are prepared to spend in January.
  • In terms of Nasri and Fabregas; AST feel that Arsenal got a good deal because of the threat of Arsenal reporting Man City and Mancini for tapping up after the Man City manager openly spoke about bringing Nasri to City in a press conference in pre-season. Arsenal also has a sell on clause on Fabregas (if he ever was to move).
  • AST think the club are still paying some of the wages of the players who are out on loan i.e Denilson, Bendtner etc
  • The medical side has been looked at but many members pointed out that other clubs do get injuries and any supporter just looks at their own club but because of the depth of our squad, Arsenal are more affected by them.
  • Finally, the talk of Arsene Wenger’s strategy was talked about and it was agreed that because of the changing environment, i.e Man City and Chelsea coming in, it has made Arsene Wenger’s job of winning the title near impossible by not spending in the transfer market.

We go to Ewood Park and I am pleased I am making the trip because I genuinely think we will win. I think slowly but surely most players are coming back to fitness and we can add Gervinho and Song to the squad that played against Swansea and the team is more then capable of winning at Blackburn. The bench will look a lot stronger here then it was on our last away day too!

Blackburn will be playing for their manager a bit and be desperate to get at least a point so it is important to repeat the start we had last year and try and knock any momentum they get early by scoring a quick goal.

Early start of us all making the trip but Come on you Arsenal !

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Pinch Punch And All That

August for me will be remembered for:

  • Losing our own cup (Emirates Cup)
  • Losing Cesc Fabregas
  • Losing Samir Nasri (but funny enough, I didn’t mind that too much)
  • Losing our first ever game to Liverpool at the Emirates
  • Losing 8-2 at Old Trafford
  • Getting 3 players sent off in 3 Premier League games.

Off course we got to the group stages of the Champions League and did show some of that much talked about mental strength in the second half in Udine but there was not much to get excited about in the month of August.

Overall, August was one of the worst months I can remember as a supporter of the club in recent years but now the month is over and five new faces have come in, I will move on.

September starts with us welcoming Chu-Young, Santos, Mertesacker, Yossi and Arteta to our club and I am happy we have them here. You have 2 captains of their national side along with a club captain and all five are over the age of 26. You could say that is exactly what people were asking for.

The signings do not give you the ‘wow’ factor (however some would argue that Mrs Arteta may) but the players are here to improve the squad. Anyone that went to the game on Sunday or even watched it on TV will have felt very low. I remember looking at the guy in front of me when the subs were read out and we both felt there was no one that could change a game (some will do more then that in the future but are not ready yet) or even help us see out a lead if we got one. Yossi may not be the spectacular signing we wanted but can do a good job when called upon.

The signings of Arteta and Mertesacker are vital. Arteta will give that level of creativity and experience in the centre of the park and Mertesacker will give that much needed height (how many goals came from set pieces again?) and experience. People are quick to tell me he is on the slow side and he may well be but having received very few yellow cards in around 200 appearances tells me he is a good reader of the game.

Onwards and upwards from now; the squad is by no means complete and work in January may need to be done but I feel a lot more positive then I did on the M6 on Sunday at about 8pm.

Now for an injury free international week and bring on Swansea.

Come on you Arsenal. !

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Not Bad For Passionless Supporters Hay Samir?

There was not much to get excited about on Sunday but the performance of the game from an Arsenal point of view was undoubtedly the away fans who didn’t give in from around the 47th minute until the final whistle; choruses of we love you Arsenal could be heard by the 70,000 inside Old Trafford and millions watching on TV.

You would think conceding eight goals would result in people leaving early however that was not the case as the majority of the away section stayed and sung until the end.

Goal scorers Robin Van Persie and Theo Walcott came over to the away support and showed their appreciation at the wonderful support. This was a day that will be deleted from the memory of most Arsenal supporters but the ones in the away section can be proud of the support they provided and certainly enhanced the reputation as one of the best away support in the country.

Theo Walcott and Carl Jenkinson had a bit of an argument on the pitch during the first half and I see no problem in that. It shows both of them care. It would be much more shocking if they didn’t do anything and just ignored it. Theo in particular gets a lot of stick (on twitter and at games) but this season he scored home and away in the Champions League qualifier and scored the first goal of our Premiership season too. If he stays free of injuries, I expect him to have his best goal scoring season yet.

With the news that Arsenal are to practically refund away supporters, my reaction is that it may have just hit home how damaging a day it was yesterday. I did not expect a refund as it was my choice to purchase a match ticket and despite the loss I have no plans to sell my Blackburn away ticket.

Football is like an addiction, I cannot keep away and will always try and go to as many games as I can afford. It is a good touch from the club however, as it may have just hit home how hard this month has been for supporters.

As for transfers, I tend to keep quiet and try not to judge players before they come. When it comes to offensive players, I will never judge a player before I have seen them play for Arsenal in about 10-15 games because the past tells me, that Mr Wenger knows what to look for in offensive players and his record speaks for itself.

Defensively, it is hard not to judge but the rumours of Mertesacker do not surprise me. We are a team that conceded many goals from set pieces and the talk of a 6.6 German international who is a leader coming in is not something I am against. I fully believe CBs play in pairs (well that goes without saying) and the two should compliment each other. Along side Vermaelen, Koscielny looks a superb player but along side Djourou, the pair looks a bit suspect, so partnerships are vital when playing at the back.

We all know it is a big two days for Arsenal but the club do seem to be moving!

Come on you Arsenal.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

What is going on?!

‘If you sell Fabregas and Nasri, you cannot pretend you’re a big club’

Well yes I guess that is true HOWEVER, surely making the world think that the club had no intention in selling both players was just a way of getting £24m for a player on his last year of a contract.

OR did Arsene Wenger genuinely believe keeping Nasri was a better option and the decision was perhaps taken out of his hands?

From personal experiences, I have never quite taken things as black or white in press conferences and with the comments about Cesc or Nasri leaving my first reaction was that the club think Nasri can be persuaded to stay but then maybe it was all about making Manchester City believe Arsenal were prepared to take a risk with Nasri in order to get the best possible price.

Lets be honest, £24m is a good price for a player on the last year of his contract.

As for Nasri, he was a real fans favourite and anyone that knows me or came to games with me last season will know how much I enjoyed singing his song! The memory of him walking of the St Andrews pitch with 3,000 of us jumping, dancing and signing his name will stay with me for a while, but while it was a happy memory then, it is now a memory of much regret.

On Saturday, Nasri was given a good applause by the Arsenal supporters in the ground and that for me showed the class of the supporters. I myself thought I would not have the heart to applause him but he won me around. But now I think about it, Arsenal paid his bloody wages all summer, the least he can do is play a game here and there! It was almost like he was doing us a favour; well he wasn’t. If you tell your boss you will not do any work but still want to be paid, I can only imagine what most bosses reaction would be.

As for the boss and the club in general, your guess is as good as mine in terms of what is going on!

I do notice people are very quick to put all the blame on Arsene Wenger and maybe he deserves the blame but how the board get away with stick amazes me.

After promising us an active summer when talking to the AST but then jetting off on holiday while other clubs did their business early or Liam Brady recently saying that the board are not giving the thumbs up to a higher wage structure must also raise questions.

Before anything, the game tonight is vital. Qualification to the group stages of the Champions League is huge and failure is not an option.

Come on you Arsenal !

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Cesc Fabregas - The Story That Did Not Go Away

His finally gone.

Cesc Fabregas after eight years of service has left Arsenal football club.

Farewell to our club captain and best player (in my opinion anyway). The last month or two may have turned a bit ugly with people having their own opinions on how Cesc, Arsenal and certainly Barcelona have acted but as time passes, I get the feeling people will remember what Cesc brought this club. Feel free to dislike Barcelona as much as you want though!

I do not accept it when people say Cesc did not give 100% when playing for Arsenal. His last season was not his best by any means but after the world cup and the injuries he carried, it was difficult for him.

Cesc played over 300 games or so for this club and his vision, his ability to pick a final ball was something special.

I remember his goal in Milan or the goal vs Spurs, they were my personal favourites but there were others.

Best of luck for the future Cesc; I would wish Barcelona well but after the way they have behaved, I rather not but I genuinely do wish you Luck. You were a world class player.

Maybe one day we will see you back.

Farewell Mr Cesc Fabregas.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

A new season and a new optimism… or not

When asked on where Arsenal will finish at the start of every season I always say ‘1st’; till now that is.

I would probably take 4th place now if I could however, that could change if we add to our squad by the end of the window.

Cesc Fabregas is itching ever closer to the move he has been wanting (if the Arsenal e-mail system magically starts working again!) and Samir Nasri could be off to double his money at Manchester City.

With Cesc, I think most Arsenal supporters understand why he wants to return and even though the last month or two has turned a bit ugly, I prefer to blame Barcelona; I am biased after all!

With Samir Nasri, my feeling is very different. With Cesc going, Samir would be the main man. He would play in the centre and have the team practically built around him. Or he could go and earn 180k a week and be second choice behind David Silva (who in my opinion is much more established at the moment) at Manchester City. Off course Nasri may over take players that play in his position at Man City and be first choice but at Arsenal he is guaranteed being the main man where as, at Man City, with all the money they have spent, it may not that easy; Just ask a certain Manu Adebayor.

I wish we had sold Nasri earlier in the summer and bought Juan Mata, hopefully that is still possible and we have not completely missed the boat.

A centre back is needed and that goes without saying and I still think we will get one before the transfer window closes on September 1st.

As for the season ahead, August seems vital both on and off the pitch. The tricky start with an incomplete squad will be a huge challenge but if Arsenal can pull it off (qualify for the Champions League and get perhaps two wins and a draw or even one win and two draws or two wins with one loss!) and add to the squad, then maybe the optimism will return.

Time will tell.

To Newcastle we go. UP THE ARSENAL!

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Barcelona - More than a club? / Does Cesc need to speak up?

So Xavi tells the media at his football camp about how Cesc is ‘suffering’ at Arsenal and Barcelona put it on their official website.

Theo Walcott tells Sky Sports News that we want to keep our best players but he'd rather not get involved in other players’ futures because it’s their decision. Arsenal does not put this on their official website.

Spot the difference?

Barcelona say they are more than a club but in my opinion they are not showing the class one would expect.

I have been checking back at quotes and trying to get any sort of line from a few journalists I know along with listening to radio shows and without question, Graham Hunter got me the angriest.

Hunter says Cesc is ‘determined’ to leave Arsenal. Erm hang on Mr Hunter, if he's so ‘determined’ then surely a transfer request would have come in?

Hunter then said one of the reasons why Cesc wants to leave is because the medical team have not dealt with his hamstring injuries well enough.

Hunter said Xavi is well within his right to say what he wants and I agree with him, but I did not expect Barcelona to put the quotes on their ‘official’ website.

Hunter hinted that if Arsenal do not let Cesc go to Barcelona, he may consider other clubs like Manchester City; now Hunter may be the expert but I cannot agree with that.

I have never seen Arsenal putting up quotes from players unless they have spoken directly to the website, to the online TV channel or in a press conference where the club were present.

If Cesc is suffering as much as Xavi says he is then perhaps Barcelona need to pay the money Arsenal want.

Usually if a buyer wants to buy something, they ask the seller if they are willing to sell and ask the price. The seller then tells them the price and the buyer has to decide if they will meet the asking price, try and negotiate or refuse to buy. Barcelona tried to negotiate and I think Arsenal have dropped their asking price a bit but now comes a time where Barcelona need to decide how serious they are about Cesc Fabregas and either pay up or shut up, rather then posting their players' quotes on their website.

Now, this may upset Arsenal fans too but if I am honest with myself and fair, then maybe its time for Cesc Fabregas to do something.

I think it may be time for Cesc to speak up; either speak up about wanting to leave OR speak up about Xavi, Valdes and the rest of the Barcelona players' quotes. For over a year, we have had Barcelona players (and Pepe Reina, what it has to do with him, I do not know!) telling us what Cesc Fabregas wants and is feeling and it may have reached boiling point.

If Cesc did come out and tell the world he wanted to leave Arsenal, we would see just how desperate Barcelona are to get him and how much they respect him by meeting our asking price and buying him. After all, they did pay millions and millions of pounds/euros to buy Ibra and even threw in Eto. They have or are close to reaching a deal with Sanchez so they clearly have the money.

I understand Cesc's close bond with Barcelona and genuinely understand why he wants to re-join Barcelona and would not stand in his way if an offer came in but if it doesn’t, I think Cesc has to understand he is under contract and how Mr Wenger has built his team around him.

Before Thierry Henry left, he poured his heart out to Arsenal TV online and wanted to speak directly to supporters to avoid the chance of being mis-quoted and made it crystal clear on why he has to leave Arsenal. I am not saying the same will work for Cesc but it shows that speaking from the heart can help. If he chooses to do that, but Barcelona still do not meet the asking price then that tells him how much Barcelona want him.

It seems like the Barcelona players are using the media to get Arsenal to sell on the cheap and Cesc is refusing to speak up.

Cesc Fabregas did choose to come to Arsenal and also agreed to sign a long term contract and even pocketed £3m or so from a loyalty bonus last summer.

I know some people may not agree with my views above but I think it’s very tough to plan for the season ahead when you have questions over not only your best player but your captain too. I rate Cesc Fabregas so highly and desperately want him to stay because I think with his first proper summer off from football in a while, he may just be the Cesc Fabregas we all want next season so keeping him would be such a boost. We all understand that Cesc Fabregas does love Arsenal but we also understand his bond and his love for his boyhood club Barcelona.....

But, something needs to be done, Arsenal need to know.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

AST Meet

The Arsenal supporters trust survey was released yesterday evening as many members, including myself attending the meeting in Holborn. I along with a few others tweeted many of the results but a full set of results can be found on the Arsenal Supporters Trust website.

Many interesting points came out the meeting. The current tour in Asia is worth about 2-3m to Arsenal which does not sound like much but it is about increasing the brand in Asia and is considered a long term plan.

In terms of revenue, going further in competitions is very important. Just going one round further in the Champions League can be worth about 2-3m (with match day revenue, TV Revenue etc).

The future of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri is still slightly in the air despite Arsene Wenger saying Samir Nasri will stay and he is ‘hopeful’ Cesc will stay too. The Nasri debate was in full flow and it’s estimated that losing him on a free will just cost the club too much. The club may have to keep 20 odd million for a replacement next season which may mean it will not be spent this year. It does look likely Arsenal may gamble and hope they have a good season which will convince Nasri to stay. It’s a massive gamble. If he does not sign then selling him makes the most financial sense.

I do think Samir needs to think long and hard about players that have left Arsenal and where they have ended up but at the same time, he may be waiting to see who else is signed before committing his future. Time will tell.

As for next season, all the club level season tickets are sold out but 2000 season ticket holders did not renew and these were offered to people on the waiting list. From the list, only one in four took up the offer hence why so many people got offered season tickets. Many people who did not take up the offer have either forgotten they were on the list OR have started to share a season ticket (an option that has become quiet popular).

We welcomed Gervinho to the club officially yesterday and I have a punt that this may mean Theo Walcott may just have a chance to play up front this pre-season as Gervinho is not an out and out striker but Theo has the composure and pace to be one. Just a thought.

Up the Arsenal.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Farewell Gael - Thanks for the eight years.

After eight years, Gael Clichy has moved on and has joined Manchester City.

It’s a bit of a strange one because most of the concerns is on the future of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri however; Gael Clichy has been a loyal player for the club.

I think it is fair to say he turned a bit stale in the last few years (some blame the team’s form, some blame Arshavin playing in front of him and some just think his on the decline) but he has still been a player who to me, looked like he gave 100% every time he played for the Arsenal.

I know he was apart of the Invincible squad however, he played second choice to Ashley Cole but regardless has won a championship medal.

I wish him all the luck in the world….JUST NOT AGAINST THE ARSENAL and hope he plays well but City don’t win much!

Up the Arsenal !

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Sammy Nasri : Three options

The na na na na na na song has been sung up and down the country in away sections when Arsenal have been in town and KC and Sunshine has been played frequently during the warm up at the Emirates and I’ve loved every minute of it.

It seems Nasri has three options; sign a new deal, leave this summer (if the club let him) or stay but not sign a new deal (yet).

In my opinion, the third option is most likely at the moment. It seems like Nasri is not ready to sign a deal, otherwise it would be signed already and I cannot see Mr Wenger selling to Manchester United. Nasri must have his reasons for not signing and without knowing the full facts I will not judge him….but I do want him to stay.

It is a strange feeling because it seems selling Cesc Fabregas is a way of keeping Nasri as wages are freed up, meaning Nasri can get a rise and also may mean he can play in a more advanced role through the middle which may appeal to him more.

Saying all that, why would anyone want Cesc Fabregas to go? If Samir Nasri wants to win trophies then Cesc Fabregas staying is the best way to try and do that. It’s a complex situation.

It’s a difficult one for Arsenal too. Sell him now or potentially lose him for nothing (like Flamini). The way I look at it is that selling him will get us around 10-20m maximum and free up around 60-70k a week in wages which means a replacement needs to be found with that price in mind. Are we going to get anyone better then Nasri for that price? I am not convinced.

With Gervinho rumoured as a ‘done deal’ and talks with Cahill and possibly Samba on going, it does show Arsenal are very active and are trying to put right the wrongs of last season. With that in mind, keeping Nasri for another year BUT adding a trophy may persuade Nasri to stay. It would certainly be a massive gamble but is it one worth taking?

Another factor about transfers in general is that Arsenal may not know their full budget for transfers. As Arsenal finished fourth, the Champions League is not guaranteed. If the unthinkable happens and Arsenal do not qualify then this would have a huge bearing on the transfer fund. Off course, we expect Arsenal to qualify but this could be a factor.

As for Nasri, selling him to Manchester United is not really an option for me. Selling them Nasri for even 25m would not make sense as it would only make them even stronger and as a direct competitor, this is something we just cannot afford to do.

The left back position too needs to be looked at because most journalists and people I have spoken too seem to think he is most certainly off, but anything can change. Its football!

Being a Gooner is tough at the best of times but at the moment it’s extremely tough!

Hope everyone has had a good summer so far and enjoy the rest of the summer (a signing or three and keeping our star players will help!)

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Gazidis Promises An 'Active Summer'

Arsenal CEO Ivan Gazidis told us the supporters trust that it will be an active summer at the Emirates.

I was present with around 200 other supporters to listen to what Ivan had to say. As I expected, he did not give much away and it felt he was worried about what would be in the morning papers so all we could do was read between the lines.

Gazidis mentioned an ‘active summer’ three times I seem to recall he talked about a lack of experience in seeing games out and that was the major clue about what sort of players will be bought.

Gazdis was not going to be caught up with individuals but said Arsenal have been in touch with many clubs about many players.

I do think some important issues were raised and will be looked into. The issue of reserve games being played behind closed doors during the winter months cropped up and people that have been to reserve games will agree there is always a good atmosphere and a good chance to see the young talent on show but also talk to other supporters about club issues. The argument from Gazidis was that it helps player development to play on the pitches at the training ground but I also think playing in front of a crowd will aid player development so I guess a balancing act has to be found.

The Arsene Wenger question was asked several times. Someone asked if removing Mr Wenger from the financial aspects of the club would help but Gazidis rejected the idea because he felt Mr Wenger needs to be involved as he is the manager and knows what the club needs. In terms of the future of the manager, a lot depends on if he loses the supporters and if he did; it may be hard to keep him at the club.

I am firmly behind Arsene Wenger and I think he knows what he has to do this summer and I really hope we win something this season so we do not have to even consider his future this time next year.

There was a good debate after the meeting too and the passion for the club is as good as ever.

Come on you Arsenal !

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

End Of Yet Another Season

Fair to say I had that empty feeling as I woke up on Monday morning knowing there was no more Arsenal for a few months; but in a way, I was glad.

I think we all need a holiday and a break from football. Supporters, players and manager and even the stewards look a bit worn out! This has to be one of the more frustrating seasons in recent years because of the dramatic fall from four competitions to one then to none.

The Emirates was a strange place in the latter part of the season, it was very uneasy and very tense and with the results on the pitch, no one can be surprised.

Fulham away on Sunday pretty much summed up the last few months. Robin Van Persie scores AGAIN and some school boy defending meant we conceded two goals.

The best thing about Sunday was the atmosphere in the away section at the cottage and once again it was superb. Chants such as ‘your statue is S***, your statue is s***, it should have been Jedward, your statue is s***’ was a highlight.

The other chant that created a story was about spending money. I didn’t get involved in the chant BUT completely understand it. This squad does need some work and some investment and for many supporters who like me, paid £50 to come and watch the Arsenal on Sunday just wanted to get their message across. What was touching was that straight after that chant, there was a chorus of ‘We Love You Arsenal’ for about a good five minutes and that just showed that supporters are frustrated BUT are still very much in love with the club and only want the club to be successful.

After the game Mr Wenger said we cannot spend 50m on a player and off course the supporters were not hinting that we do but I do believe Mr Wenger knows exactly what the supporters mean but wanted to fob the question off a bit because he has always been quite tight lipped about transfer activities.

In an interview with Arsenal Tv (Arsenals own media channel) he was more open and said he will be active so I guess we just have to wait and see.

With players like Denilson and Bendtner indicating they may leave and with others rumoured to want to leave, the boss has no real choice but to strengthen. In a press conference a few weeks ago, he was asked about conceding late goals and he put it down to experience and said the transfer window is a way of solving it.

For me, it’s not about how much we spend; it’s more about the off course the quality but personality of the player. Take someone like Martin Keown, he perhaps was not the most technically gifted footballer we have had BUT he was a warier and a leader and stood up to be counted for ALWAYS. I think it may be time to look at a players personality as much as their playing quality because we do lack leaders. The right balance has to be found.

You get the feeling this is a HUGE summer for the Arsenal but one thing that we wanted was Jack Wilshere to get a rest and we got that, so wanting a few experience players may follow!

Come on You Arsenal !

Ps. My favourite moment of the season is always at the cottage because when the second half is starting, Mr Wenger always forgets to come out ON TIME rather then his usual 30 seconds into second half but at the cottage, the tunnel is on the other side of the dugout and you have to go right through the pitch and EVERY year Mr Wenger makes the same mistake and is told to run and seeing our beloved Frenchman in a suit running is always a sight that makes me smile!

Have a good summer!

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