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Udinese Preview: We’re looking short already 16 August, 2011

Posted by lasagnechef in Arsenal News.
15 comments

Tonight is the inconvenient yet incredibly important Champions League qualifier. We haven’t had any problems with this fixture in recent years racking up aggregate scores of 5 or 6 goals but if we did ever come unstuck it would be a disaster to go out at this stage. In a period where we need to be attracting some big talent to the club, if the lure of Champions League football is not there we will struggle to make any strong additions.

Udinese could prove to be one of our tougher qualifiers, they’re a decent side finishing 4th in Italy last year and they have Di Natale who was top scorer in Serie A last season. We will still go into this match as favorites but Udinese will be no walkover.

We could talk about their strengths and weaknesses but I’m a little bit worried about the state of our own side. We’re missing a fair number of vital names and I’m just got my fingers crossed that we can cope without them.

Obviously, we’re without Fabregas (I must make note of not saying this again), van Persie and Nasri are suspended, Wilshere and Diaby are injured and Rosicky will face a late fitness test. To add to that Wenger also has a touch-line ban meaning he will undoubtedly move from the bench to two rows behind with the fans in Block 1. It’s still an inconvenience though, it means he can’t stand there arms folded glaring when we’re not doing well.

Those handful of players missing illustrate just how thin this squad is. Without Robin we’ve got Chamakh, Gervinho or even Bendtner who need to perform through the middle. Chamakh hasn’t really impressed that often since his run of form around this time last year, Gervinho obviously has just joined and we can’t rely on him yet and Bendtner has had one foot out the door all summer.

Also with Wilshere, Nasri, Diaby and potentially Rosicky out it means the midfield will have to be three of Song, Ramsey, Frimpong and Lansbury. We really need reinforcements in this area. Hopefully Wenger will be working on bringing in a midfield replacement in the next two weeks because that is a very light looking midfield indeed.

What worries me more though is come the weekend you can add Song and Gervinho to that list of absentees, as they’re both banned from the incidents at St. James’ Park. Wenger says a lot of crap but when he says things like ‘this squad is massive’ it infuriates me. Hopefully it’s just part of the spew he dishes out to the press because we have far from a ‘massive’ squad. Hopefully we can get through these next few games with what we have while we look to bring more men in.

All this goes without saying that Wilshere could be ‘Vermaelened’. Every limb in my body is crossed that this is not the case.

So with that, here’s how I think we will line up tonight:

Szczesny
Sagna – Koscielny – Vermaelen (c) – Gibbs
Song – Lansbury
Ramsey
Walcott – Gervinho – Arshavin

With that team we could have Song playing his normal defensive midfield role, Lansbury providing the bridge between defending and attack and Ramsey playing that ‘Cesc role’ (another term that needs to be eradicated) that he did rather well in against Man United last season. Up front a lot of people are predicting Chamakh at centre forward but I think it might be Gervinho. The way Wenger has been talking him up suggests he rates him a lot and with his three match domestic ban coming up he might as well play him now and not worry about having resting him.

I’ve gone for Vermaelen as captain and I hope that is the case for the coming season. I’m fairly confident that van Persie will be handed the armband but I’d like to see Belgian take the position. We’ve been missing a captain with his attitude for a long time and I’d hope that his presence in that position could inspire the team in games which we start to lack focus and commitment. As I said I still think it’ll be Robin but I’d like to see Wenger surprise a few people and pick Thomas.

Edit: Robin van Persie named new Arsenal captain. No surprises there then, Wenger says Vermaelen will work with hi as his vice and I guess everyone can be leaders on the pitch they don’t need to wear the armband. Good luck to Robin, he is a proper Gooner after all.

As worried as I am about our squad, I think we should be good enough to get a result tonight – especially at home. A goal, or two or even three would be great but we need to make sure we don’t concede. That defence did well against Newcastle at the weekend so I trust them to give another solid display tonight. I haven’t mentioned the defence in this post because we have no injuries to the first choice pick but if you think about it there’s no one behind them really. Wenger really needs to get spending, and quick. So many departments need addressing it’s rather worrying. However as he would say, the time now is to focus on the upcoming game and not potential ins and outs.

I’m looking forward to my first competitive game back at the Emirates tonight. There were some bad memories there last season but hopefully I’ve left those behind with my old seat and a change of scenery might bring around a change of fortune. I’m in Block 6 nowadays and I’m looking forward to a bit of sing-song later on, but wherever you’re sat whether it be around the stadium, at the pub or at home get behind the boys because this game is hugely important.

Thanks for reading. Come on Arsenal!

Thanks and goodbye, Cesc. 15 August, 2011

Posted by lasagnechef in Arsenal News.
14 comments

Well today has been a long time coming but no one can really be surprised about the departure of Cesc Fabregas to Barcelona. The biggest surprise really is that it has taken this long; I was convinced he’d go last year and even more surprised that we left it this late to finally accept Barcelona’s measly offer.

We’re receiving just €29m that could rise to about €35m which means he’s left for little more than Andy Carroll cost Liverpool. The extra fees come from €1m over 5 years from Cesc himself and the extra cash is paid if Barcelona win something like two La Liga titles and a Champions League.

As rubbish as the fee is we’ve received for one of the best midfielders in the world, this transfer has never been about money. We never at any stage have been desperate for cash and unlike so many transfers recently the player himself has not left for wage reasons, in fact I believe he’s on less money at his new club. This transfer has always been about the simple request of a man to return to his home town.

We’ve always known that Cesc would one day go home; maybe some of us just hoped it wouldn’t have been so soon. His departure is nothing against Arsenal in any way, I believed him when he said in today’s press conference that he will always have Arsenal in his heart, he will always be a Gooner and will continue to watch Arsenal play whether it be on TV or in person. Call me a sucker but I believe that.

Some people are a little pissed off about Cesc’s actions but put yourselves in his boots. Imagine you joined the Arsenal academy as a youngster, took up an opportunity abroad and loved it, developed well and became their best player. Then halfway through your career Arsenal came calling back asking you to come home, you’d jump at the chance wouldn’t you? Seeing Cesc kissing the Barcelona badge today hurt, but I’m not mad at him for that – it’s his club and his home town.

So today instead of anger and resentment I’m full of sadness and thanks. We’ve been lucky to have Fabregas at our club, we’ve been lucky that we managed to pick him from Barcelona and have him develop to our benefit. Those 8 years have included some wonderful memories. From the early days watching this Spanish kid break into the team with all this potential, to putting Vieira on his arse in his comeback game, to all the performances and goals against Tottenham, the massive goals in the Champions League vs. Milan, Barca and others, the 3-2 winner over Bolton and the late equaliser against Sunderland, these are all just a few things that come to the top of my head, there are countless more special moments to look back on. It’s not just the goals and the highlights that you can look back fondly on but every single minute he was on the pitch for Arsenal, with or without the armband he gave everything and it was that spirit for which he was so loved.

Cesc also said today that his biggest regret was not lifting any trophies as Arsenal captain and I think that is echoed by the fans. It would’ve been great to see Cesc of all people lead us to our first piece of silverware since 2005 but unfortunately it wasn’t to be.

So thanks for everything, Cesc. As much as I loathe your new employers there will not be any bitterness from me towards you. Just please, don’t turn into a cunt like some of your new colleagues.

So, time to move on. After losing your best player, for any club attention must turn to who you are going to bring in. Unfortunately, tonight is not that time because there are more departures on the cards. Samir Nasri could also leaving in the next few weeks and what a tragedy it would be to lose both he and Cesc in one summer. Well it’s a terrifying reality. It seems Samir ‘Na-Na-Na-Na’ Nasri has already lost his favour with the fans as a section of away fans this weekend turned his chant from, “Samir Nas-er-i – Nas-er-i” to, “Samir you’re a cunt – you’re a cunt!” To which he has replied to on twitter today:

I heard what the fans were singing about me on saturday and it is really disrespectful because i’m still a arsenal player

I can’t condone the chants myself. Samir is right actually, while he remains a player of the club we should be more respectful. I’m not saying those fans should be silenced because they can sing what they like they’ve paid to be there but I think they should consider their words. I don’t think he’s a cunt, I just think he’s very money hungry and shallow. I’m gutted about Samir I really am because he showed for a couple of months last season how good he can be but he’s got a bit big for his boots requesting the kind of money he’s after. Maybe we’ll let him have his wish and move him on to City or maybe we’ll keep him, move him into Cesc’s vacant position and hope he and the fans can repair their relationship. We’ll wait and see.

One more departure looks close to completion this week and that Emmanuel Eboue to Galatasaray. The club have confirmed they are in negotiations so unless anything drastic happens I reckon this will be done in the next couple of days. With Eboue going and Traore going off injured for the reserves tonight it highlights just how weak we are in the wing back positions. And I don’t care what Arsene thinks Carl Jenkinson is not ready for regular League and European action.

That should do it for tonight, more on who we need to bring in and who looks to be going out soon. Sorry about lack of updates recently, it’s been a difficult period for me. I’ll be back tomorrow for an Udinese preview.

Until then.

Gervinho & Afobe in Köln squad, Cesc not + defender speculation 23 July, 2011

Posted by lasagnechef in Arsenal News.
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Yesterday the team travelled to Germany to face FC Köln in today’s 2.30pm (GMT) kick off. The squad included Fabianksi who has recovered from last season’s injury, new signing Gervinho and youngster Afobe who has returned on loan from Huddersfield. It’s a chance for both strikers to impress, both will be looking to get some game time and both will be aiming to put on a good show.

It’s my suspicion that Benik Afobe will go back out on loan this season, whether it be next month or January but with no resolution on the Joel Campbell situation there’s evidence to support that there’s space in the squad for a young striker. I doubt there’s room for both he and Emmanuel-Thomas so he’ll be battling it out with his reserves team mate for that spot.

Speaking of Campbell, the latest word on the grapevine Twitter is that we might’ve agreed a deal for him to come after the U20 World Cup. There we no concrete quotes to support the story though so it’s still a case of wait and see on that one.

As for Gervinho well he will certainly be in the first team squad and Wenger has backed him to make an impression this season:

“He looks to me like he has adjusted very quickly. Let’s hope it goes quickly for him. You never know, some players take six months and some players take two weeks.

He does seem a very typical Arsene signing; an African forward who’s done well in Ligue 1 ready to step up to the Premier League. After Chamakh’s good start last season I’m kind of hoping Gervinho will have the same impact this season. Marouane was thrown in at the deep end really when van Persie picked up his customary injury and did very well being relied on that early, his form and appearances faded away as the season went on and I don’t really know what to expect of him this year. Here’s hoping that not only can Gervinho emulate Chamakh’s form in front of goal but also Robin can stay fit so we don’t have to rely on him or anyone else!

As nice as it is to see the new additions to today’s squad eyes were always going to be focused on the inclusion, or rather lack of Cesc Fabregas. We weren’t surprised to see he didn’t travel to Germany and the official word is he hasn’t recovered from a muscular injury. Whether that’s true or not only they know but it does seem as if he’s being spared just as he was for the Asia trip.

There has been a number of reports saying Barcelona representatives were in London this week to discuss the transfer. I’m starting to suspect that an agreement might be made as soon as next week and with Barcelona offloading Bojan it looks like they could be getting some funds together. With this dragging out as long as it has I could see us accepting anything over £35m just allowing us to move on from the saga. It would represent a small victory for the Catalan’s picking up a player of such quality for that price and would go completely against the current market but we are not desperate for cash – only for a resolution.

When asked about the possibility of Cesc and the other outgoing transfers this is what Wenger had to say:

“The position at the moment [with Fabregas] is a ‘no comment’ situation because there is no movement at all.

[It is] not completely [sorted that Samir will stay] but I want him to stay. He knows that. Hopefully we can sort that out in the coming weeks.

Alumina has been contacted by a few clubs, Bendtner as well.

As long as the situation is not settled, we have to focus on the coming season with the players we have. The players who are uncertain, it is difficult for them to focus on being completely committed.”

That last sentence is very telling. There are a lot of quotes coming out saying the squad is not unsettled by the rumours of players leaving the club but maybe that’s because they’ve been rather excluded from pre-season preparations. It seems as if Arsene is already preparing for departures by not including the want-away stars in his squads.

As with Fabregas, Bendtner, Almunia and whoever else may be nearing an exit I hope it is done sooner rather than later. I hope for our’s and for Cesc’s sake a deal can be agreed next week so we can just move on and prepare for the new season. It’ll give us time to evaluate our squad and hopefully make new additions accordingly. The longer this drags out the more tedious it gets and the less time we have to look to replace.

As for incomings, Wenger says we are after a defender. Praise the lord! With Clichy left for pastures richer and Eboue also rumoured to be leaving we could really do with a wing back. Not only that but we’ve been crying out for an established centre back for ages now, Squillaci is not the answer and with all due respect we are going to struggle if he gets in the side.

Apparently we’ve made a £10m bid for Phil Jagielka but Everton will be looking for nearer double that. If it were up to me I’d raise that bid to 16 or 17 million and see if that gets money-strapped Everton thinking. It would show ambition to make a signing like that and I’d feel a lot more comfortable about the defence with him included. Not that I think he’s God’s gift as a defender or anything but he’s a lot more solid than some that I’ve mentioned and I think having he, Vermaelen, Djourou and Koscielny as our centre back choices would be a good thing.

As for a wing back well we’ve brought Jenkinson in but he really shouldn’t be in the first team this season; maybe Caring Cup but I would hope nothing more than that. On the other flank I do rate Gibbs and recall rating his as a better option than Clichy at one point last season but we don’t know if we can rely on him yet due to his ongoing injury problems. Behind him there’s just Armand Traore and I wasn’t expecting him to be with us when the season starts.

There’s a lot of transfer business to be done between now and the start of the season, both outgoing and incoming. I tipped this as being a busy week for deals to be done but not a lot has been achieved. Maybe next week is the one, or maybe the one after that, or we’ll be stuck in this endless tedious that surrounds every transfer window nowadays.

Thankfully, we can forget about all that rubbish for this afternoon at least. I’ll be tuning into Arsenal Player this afternoon I hope for the FC Köln friendly, if you’re not lucky enough to have the service I should be reporting from my Twitter.

I’ve seen Gervinho is wearing 22 today, that’s my lucky number – maybe I should do some live football betting on a debut goal.

Pep claims Cesc negotiations – Pay up or piss off 19 July, 2011

Posted by lasagnechef in Arsenal News.
7 comments

“This year Arsenal has agreed to negotiate and we are working on it. Barcelona has made an offer, Arsenal another and we have time until August 31 and we’ll try to reach an agreement.

The club has saved money to try to sign him. We will try until the end to bring him. I hope that eventually everything can be arranged. But sometimes things cannot be done. We will fight to the end to try to get Cesc because we believe he will improve the team and the squad.”

Today saw these quotes from Pep Guardiola revealing that Arsenal and Barcelona are in the slow and drawn out process of negotiating the transfer of Cesc Fabregas. In one respect it’s almost pleasing to know that there is some discussion to try and sort this out but I think most Gooners are of the opinion now where we just want the right bid for the player or they can stop wasting our time.

From what Guardiola is saying there is sounds like they’ve made a bid, we’ve rejected it, told them what he costs and that’s as it’s stood since then. That’s backed up by these quotes from Arsenal chairman, Peter Hill-Wood:

“I am not sure how keen they are. There are still stories in the (Spanish) press, but they don’t talk to us. They’ve made one offer, which works out at around £26m, but that was ages ago.

But at the moment our situation is very straight-forward: we don’t want to lose him. Obviously if they come up with an offer which was a very good offer we would have to think about it. We have told them a number of times that what they are proposing is unacceptable and yet they haven’t moved on it.

I don’t approve of what they are doing, but unfortunately it seems the way of the world right now. It has become a real bore and an unnecessary interruption to what we are trying to achieve,” added Hill-Wood.

Well put, sir. I don’t even need to explain why £26m is not enough for Fabregas, frankly that’s a joke of a bid. We should reply with a £29m bid for Messi and see how that sounds to them. Because they’re of this deluded impression that they own the player anyway and they are the sole bidders for him they can name their own price. The thing is we’re in no hurry to sell, Cesc’s got plenty of time left on his contract and we don’t need the money; unless a proper and decent offer comes in he will remain with us.

Arsenal will sympathise with Cesc and will allow him to go back home where he clearly wants to go but we’re not going to lose out on tens of millions of pounds to do so. So right now Barcelona either need to show just how much they want our captain by paying up or they can fuck off and stop pussyfooting around. These 20 to 30 million pound bids are just a waste of an email.

And this from Guardiola, this you can also shove:

“The position towards Arsenal is with the utmost respect. Also to the player. We always try to approach from positions of utmost respect. We have a style to do things.”

Bollocks do you, you’re only style is to act utter cunts. That ‘more than a club’ slogan is pathetic. Show some class. Their players are constantly coming out talking out our captain and as employees of the club they are representing them so there is no ‘respect’ whatsoever being shown.

Anyway, I hope that the two clubs genuinely are negotiating the transfer and they’re listening to the price we’re setting. It’s insulting to Cesc himself these measly bids, they should get off their high horse and pay what one of the best (and not yet peaked may I add) midfielders in the world is worth or do one.

In other news it looks like the signing of Costa Rican teenager, Joel Campbell is off the cards after he failed to show for our last meeting with the striker. It seems as if his head has been turned considerably by a bid from Man United and we’ve given up on him. It’s a shame but I’m glad we’re remaining strong about this, if he can’t be arsed with us then why should we with him. He might go on to be a good player but if he’s being distracted by money at this early stage then it could be a future bullet dodged.

His father is now saying that no decisions will be made until after the U20 World Cup so basically they’re looking to get a big a payday as possible out of this. Maybe we’ll get back involved then but I doubt it you know.

Who will we chase now instead? I have no idea. I saw on twitter that we could (emphasis on ‘could’ there) be looking at Lyon’s Miralem Pjanic but other than that I don’t know where our scouts are looking now. Gazidis says we’re still very much in the market for players and suggests that signings will still be made so we’ll just have to wait and see. At the end of the day it’s a good thing that there’s not loads of rumours floating about, the more quiet we can keep things the more likely we are to strike a deal for players without the interference of other bids.

I still think we could do with a number of players but I can understand us waiting because we need to see what’s going to happen with Fabregas, Nasri and Bendtner etc. Times running out though, the season is just three and a half weeks away but I expect things will kick off rather soon.

Thanks for reading.

A busy week for transfers? 18 July, 2011

Posted by lasagnechef in Arsenal News.
5 comments

With Arsenal now back from Asia and back in London there is a chance this week for some real transfer business to be done. We’ve all known that Gervinho would be signing for some time now but with Arsene Wenger and the club photographer back in the building he was officially unveiled on the website this morning. He’s signed on the typical ‘long term contract for an undisclosed fee’ but it is rumoured to be around £10m and looks like the replacement for back-door lingering Nicklas Bendtner.

All I can say I’ve seen of him is YouTube footage but he looks like a decent dribbler, has a trick in him and has a good eye for the back of the net. ‘Gervinho’ is a nickname given thanks to this Brazilian style of football and hopefully he can transfer this style of play to the Premier League. He scored 18 goals and made 10 assists in Ligue 1 last season and has been one of Lille’s top players the last couple of years. I’m excited about this signing and hopefully he can ‘do a Chamakh’ and make a difference right away. Our first glimpse of the player might be this weekend in Cologne.

Being of Ivory Coast nationality, he is quite likely to go missing along with Chamakh in January for the African Cup of Nations. We’re looking to fill that void by signing 19-year-old Costa Rican Joel Campbell. If you’ve been reading Gunnerblog this past week you’ll know plenty about him and he looks like an exciting player. And if you haven’t read it, then pop over there.

The latest is that advanced talks were taking place between the player’s agent and Arsenal executive Richard Law the past couple of days and it looked like we were on the verge of shaking hands on a deal when another English club came in with an improved offer. It’s quite likely that this other club could be Chelsea or Manchester City and if they’re getting involved we will struggle to match them financially. However I’m hoping that our record with young players and the fact we’ve had a representative out there for days now will secure us this signing. Unless there is a late twist in this story, I expect a decision to be made this week.

I guess we should check the latest on the Cesc Fabregas saga and last time I checked he’s still an Arsenal player… The Barcelona players have been actively tapping up Cesc with public statements again and last week Wenger declared his disgust for Xavi’s recent comments, you’ve also got Pique coming out saying we should be talking about Cesc by coming out talking about Cesc and there’s also the Mayor of Fabregas’ home town accusing Arsenal of kidnapping Cesc and holding him hostage. It’s almost hilarious.

Officially nothing has changed so there’s nothing to report. Until we get an offer that matches his valuation we won’t sell him and we don’t need to sell him. £40m would be disappointing but acceptable and to quote a banner seen at the Weekend’s game in China vs. H. Greentown, “Barca pay 40 million for Cesc or go home and wank!”

The current captain didn’t travel to China due to fitness problems but I think we all share the suspicion the real reason he didn’t go was to protect him from injury jeopardizing a move. I don’t know, he could genuinely be injured and if he is then it really says a lot about his fitness. Wenger said he’s not sure if he’ll be in the squad to face Cologne yet, it goes without saying it would be nice to see him.

The official word from the club on both Fabregas and Nasri is that they will not be sold although you’d expect them to say that. My understanding is that we’re waiting to see what happens with both situations and we will do everything to stop them both leaving. If we lose one I think we will cope but to sell them both would be extremely damaging to the team. This really could go down to the final day of the window but we’ll just have to wait and see. How terribly exciting…

And finally, Denilson is going home. Or should that be: ‘And, finally Denilson is going home’? Anyway, it looks like he’ll be going to Sao Paulo on loan for the season and then we’ll see what happens from there. On Twitter Denilson said it is a dream come true to be going home and I wish him the best of luck there, I really do. It’s a shame it didn’t work out for him here but it’s the best for both parties if he moves on now. I expect this deal to be sorted out shortly.

That should do it for today; I’m expecting a busy week so speak to you soon.

Football’s Back! – Malaysia XI 0-4 Arsenal – 13/07/11 – (Friendly) 13 July, 2011

Posted by lasagnechef in Arsenal News.
4 comments

Finally, the beautiful game of 22 men kicking a ball round a pitch is back and the bullshit games of transfer rumours, speculations and lies can be forgotten (for 90 minutes). I haven’t been around much recently and that’s largely down to me just being sick and tired of the same old transfer window rubbish. I used to love the summers; the speculation, the rumours the excitement of potential new players but I’ve grown out of it now. I just can’t stand Sky Sports News’ and the tabloid’s consistent and transparent lies and it’s totally put me off. I think I’ve written once or twice since the season actually ended which is kind of sad but that’s just how I’ve felt.

However today was our first piece of action of the 2011/12 campaign and I was glad to get involved again. Our pre-season kicked off in untypical fashion; the traditional pre-season opener vs. Barnet has been scrapped in favour of a money-spinning Asian tour. It’s a shame not to be able to make the traditional trip to Underhill but at the same time nice to see us in a change of environment and hopefully creates a bit of revenue for the club.

Earlier this afternoon we faced a Malaysian XI allowing a run out for the complete 23-man squad. We started with Szczesny in goal and Jenkinson making his first appearance in an Arsenal shirt alongside Vermaelen, Kosicielny and Gibbs in defence. Song, Wilshere and Ramsey made up the midfield and up front it was also a first look at Miyaichi who was joined by Walcott and Chamakh.

We took an early lead with a penalty from Ramsey, Wilshere being brought down inside 5 minutes and Aaron tucking the spot kick away. Walcott had a chance to make it 2-0 but the ‘keeper came rushing out like a mad man and did just enough to put Theo off, thankfully avoiding to break his leg. Theo did eventually make it 2-0 in the 37th minute; Ramsey with a great lofted through-ball and Walcott finished well lobbing the ‘keeper.

There were 8 changed at the break which meant we lined up with the following; Mannone, Jenkinson, Squillaci, Djourou, Traore, Frimpong, Denilson, Ramsey, Miyaichi, Rosicky and Vela. Nice to see Traore, Frimpong and Vela back in the side and all three had decent games I thought. Vela didn’t looked greatly improved from his loan spell with West Brom however he was in the thick of the action for his 45 minutes and it was Carlos who made it 3-0 in the 58th minute. And you’d never guess it, it was a lobbed finish from the Mexican. However just a few minutes later he proved that his chips are his only speciality as he couldn’t guide an open header in front of goal into the back of the net.

Halfway through the second half saw the introduction of Sagna, van Persie, Arshavin and Nasri. They replaced the only remaining starters Jenkinson, Ramsey and Miyaichi, plus Denilson who also made way after a mere 20 minutes. Apparently he stormed right down the tunnel refusing to sit back on the bench with the others. To be honest I was surprised he traveled to Asia in the first place after his quotes at the start of the summer, I thought he would’ve stayed at home with Bendtner and Almunia to find a new club. Well after today it looks like he might’ve had enough. Oh well!

The extra quality from those subs showed immediately and we came close to scoring on a couple of occasions. I was impressed with Nasri who looked like we was trying especially hard to get involved and to get on the score sheet. After the game Wenger hinted that we would keep Samir despite his contract running down, I expect Arsene’s plan is to convince him to sign up over the course of this season but we’ll see.

The 4th came right at the end, a good bit of work from Arshavin from the left resulted in a deflected cross that fell to Rosicky and was an easy headed finish for Thomas. So 4-0 it ended and a good run out for the squad. Our next game is lunchtime on Saturday and hopefully we’ll see a bit more of the likes of van Persie and Nasri in that one.

For the first friendly of the pre-season campaign I was fairly impressed with the performance. There were some nice balls being played and quick attacking moves. It really should’ve been 5 or 6 but you have to be happy with the 4-0. Mannone and Szczesny didn’t have a great deal to do really. However the defence were a little sloppy at times, Jenkinson worked hard but showed there’s still room for improvement and the whole defence could do with a bit of work on their offside trap sharpness. However it’s the first game and you can’t be too critical.

It’s just great to have the football back.

News Round Up – Nasri, Cesc, Gervinho & more 10 June, 2011

Posted by lasagnechef in Arsenal News.
18 comments

It’s everyone’s favourite time of the year, the summer transfer window! Full of ludicrous claims, greedy players and frantic internet searching. Well frankly I’ve had quite enough of it, I used to enjoy an exciting transfer window but nowadays they’re a pile of wank. I can’t stand the speculation, the hype and the now apparent personalities of some players; I like to try and pretend that footballers aren’t all money-driven bastards, but at the end of the day a great deal of them are, especially in the league which we chose to support our team in.

Not saying that description is entirely true of Samir Nasri, but it does seem a lot like that doesn’t it? It’s a hard one because he’s a player that the majority of fans grew to love this season and he’s very quickly burnt those bridges. His behaviour recently stinks of Adebayor, and Hleb actually – which is not what we expected or wanted from our latest sensation. He’s said on his twitter not to listen to the rumours but the fact is there are direct quotes from the player and they go a little something like this:

“I don’t know if I will sign a new contract. Anyway, the discussions are ongoing. For the moment, I don’t think about this. We will speak about it after the match with Poland (last night).

Do I want to go to Man United? First, we should see if it’s real and if it is concrete,”

Fantastic. No denial there of anything, in fact just fuelling the Man United rumours most likely to force us into giving him that massive pay-rise he wants. Sky Sports now ‘understands’ that he is United’s top target and will offer £10m for him. Whatever happens with Samir, I really don’t think Arsene will sell him within England at any price. He just wouldn’t do it to Arsenal.

Like I said, I’m really bored with all this transfer rubbish and anything more I read is going to make me get angry or think Nasri is a cunt. Speaking of which, on his twitter he replied to an Arsenal fan saying something like, “Come say that tweet to my face and we’ll see who’s the c***.” Have to say that made me laugh. If I were a footballer and people starting calling me things I wouldn’t bother holding back. Anyway he said he would speak after the Poland match, which was last night so we’ll see what the latest is soon I guess. I’m at the stage now where I couldn’t care if he goes or stays, just make your fucking mind up.

As for our other star midfielder lingering around the exit doors, there is the usual speculation about Cesc Fabregas. And by that I mean you have the standard crap from Pique and Iniesta which is so bog standard I can’t even be arsed to link you to it, it’s out there if you want it. Barcelona came out recently saying they’ve only got about €45m to spend this summer and I would like to believe that if they want Cesc they’re going to have to give us every penny of that. If we give him away for anything less than that then I’ll be a bit gutted with our salesmanship.

It’s another one that we’re just going to have to wait and see on but the tabloids have been claiming their crap. You’ve got some saying the deal will be done by Monday and you’ve got some saying they’ll offer us cash + a player to bring him ‘home’ with names such as Bojan, Thiago and Montoya being offered. I’d settle for cash and a player but not just some random reserve player, someone who we actually need and can utilise.

The two scenarios with Nasri and Cesc are interlinked; one will dictate the result of the other. Arsene Wenger will do everything to avoid losing both of his best midfielders; but if we do, well lets see what happens then.

Enough about players leaving, lets have a look at who might be coming in. TalkSport have just announced that we’ve signed Lille striker Gervinho for £10m. They offer no evidence to support the move so there is unlikely to be any truth in the story whatsoever but we have been linked with the player recently. It’s nice to see us talked about looking at players of Gervinho’s quality but until I hear something from Arsenal or Lille I won’t go printing any shirts yet.

We’ve also been strongly linked with his teammate at Lille, Eden Hazard. Again a nice story to hear but we’ll wait and see on that one. He could potentially be a replacement for Nasri or Fabregas so I’m guessing we wouldn’t make any moves for Hazard until we knew what’s going on with our own.

We have made one signing though, Charlton’s young defender Carl Jenkinson. He’s hardly an established player but it looks like he’ll slot in as Sagna’s back up and hopefully after some time he can fight for a place in the first team. He can play all across the back four but it does seem like right-back will be his preferred position. It’s nice to see a proper Arsenal fan sign for the club though, his Dad is a season ticket holder of 40 years and he was raised a Gooner, he’s even been to games this last season. He’ll join in with the first team for pre-season training and I’m excited to see how well he does. You can watch an interview with Carl here.

We also look to be signing Theo Walcott mk.2, Oxlade-Chamberlain from Southampton. This one’s been on the cards for a while now but The Mirror reckons we’ve landed him for £12m. Again, lets wait until the club officially announce something because there are still rumours of United’s interest. He seems an exciting player though and without having seen much of his football I’ve decided I want him. So there.

It would only be right to end today’s post with more speculation of a departure. Liverpool have apparently offered £5m for Gael Clichy. It doesn’t seem a lot on the surface but with a year left on his contract and many, many mistakes in recent season’s to boast, it might not be such a bad deal. Personally, I’ve always had a strong connection with Gael and despite his errors I’d still quite like to see him stay. I will be sad to see him leave if it does happen but maybe it is for the best, if we get in a decent replacement then it might strengthen our defence somewhat and that’s what’s important. Lets just see how this one develops.

That’s it for today. Sorry for the absence again, I just have struggled to get into all this transfer bollocks and until something concrete comes out I expect I will continue to give minimal amounts of shit. Thanks for reading guys, speak to you soon.

The Cannon End of Season Awards 2010/11 31 May, 2011

Posted by lasagnechef in Arsenal News.
14 comments

Hello, I’m back again and it’s that time of year for my end of season awards. I’d like to say these award winners were picked by you, the readers but I’m far too lazy for that, these are my picks of the season, let me know if you agree or disagree. It’s been one hell of a season with ups and many more downs but there are still imaginary awards to give out. My one and only rule is that it’s one award per player, some might’ve overlapped but lets give the others a chance… ay Jack.

 

Player of the Season

So my player of the year is young Jack Wilshere. What a season it’s been for him and only his first as a first team member. There was some competition for this prize, I’ve got down here Nasri, van Persie and Sagna as his rivals but no one can touch Jack in terms of consistent good performance through the season; Robin might’ve taken this one if he has remained fit but that’s the way the cookie crumbles.

He was Arsenal.com’s player of the season too and he’s obviously become somewhat of a fan favourite. He is probably not our most technically gifted player but he is definitely up there – his ball control is incredible, he has great vision for a guy who has just got into this team and without a doubt he is our hardest worker. I’m a sucker for anyone who gives their all for Arsenal and that’s exactly why I love Jack so much. There is so much more promised to come from this guy, which makes it pretty exciting to be an Arsenal fan. I wouldn’t be surprised if I make him my 2011/12 player of the year again next season.

 

Young Player of the Season

Well if weren’t for him winning my main prize then obviously Jack Wilshere would be taking this one as well. Surprisingly there aren’t that many other condensers for young Gun of the season but my stand out man is Roy Szczesny. It’s been a great season for the young Pole as he has all but established himself as our no.1 thanks to Almunia’s poor performances and Fabianksi’s injury. Ever since returning from his loan at Brentford the fans have been calling for him to pull the gloves on for the first team and since being given his chance you can’t say he’s let us down.

He hasn’t been perfect, but he looks a solid ‘keeper capable of making great saves and I expect him to improve with games. Next season will be a vital one for him, next pre-season he will be expected to outperform fellow countryman Fabianski for the no.1 spot but I’m expecting Roy to be the next Polish sensation since Mr.Sheen.

 

Worst Player of the Season

I think this is a prize that many fans would wish we had a few replicas of to dish out but I have to pick just one. My shortlist includes Almunia – for his costly errors, Squillaci – for the same reasons, Denilson – for his lack of footballing ability, Rosicky – for his total drop in form and Eboue – for being a totally deluded idiot. Well I have to pick one and personally I’m going for Denilson. As far as I’m concerned I’ve totally had it and I’ll be gob-smacked it Wenger doesn’t cut his losses with this one in the summer. He had an okay season a couple of years ago but being dropped has done him no good whatsoever, he can’t even fucking pass a ball anymore and seeing him live, in action, fucking up everything he had to do at The Hawthorns this season was the final straw for me. Denilson, in the politest possible way, fuck off please.

 

Most Improved Player

Again, this is an award with Wilshere’s name all over it, or failing that Szczesny but thanks to my stupid ruling neither of them can have it. Instead it’s a chance for Djourou, Nasri or Fabianksi to take the imaginary stage and read out their imaginary speech. Samir Nasri had a great start to the season, he was our best player back then but unfortunately it was exactly that – back then. He went through that great run of form that faded out very quickly which was a big disappointment. I really hoped he’d get back to his best but it didn’t really happen so hopefully next year he can sort that out. I’ve been really impressed with Djourou this season actually, after missing the whole of the previous season through injury I didn’t think he’d prove so influential in the campaign just gone but it was great to see, more next year please Johan.

However my award for most improved player though goes to Lukasz Fabianksi. As his nickname, ‘Flappy’ suggest he hasn’t really been the best of ‘keepers we’ve had at the club, until this season. After Arsene decided enough was enough with Almunia he gave Fabianski the chance to step up and for a little while we all saw what the manager was talking about. He really was great; it was like we were seeing a completely different player. Unfortunately for him though, he injured his finger in a pre-match warm up and that was the last we saw of him. He’ll be back this summer though, eager to earn that place back.

 

Most Disappointing Player

My biggest disappointment has to be Thomas Vermaelen. It’s an odd choice for this award as his performances were not lacking – it was his attendance. I’ve picked him though because I believe his injury and resulting months of absence were a massive downfall in our season. It’s been a year of bad defending and maybe some of that might’ve been helped with Tom in the side. To say I’m looking forward to a full campaign from him next season is an understatement.

 

Best Summer Signing

The nominees for this award are Chamakh, Koscielny and Squillaci. I think we can rule out the latter there but you have to say that all in all the other two had decent debut seasons. Marouane kicked off his Arsenal career really well and got bags of goals in the opening few months but eventually he got a bit tired and that form died off but I was still impressed with his contribution and effort in the latter stages of the season. However for his all round performance it has to go to Laurent Koscielny. I know some Gooners aren’t his biggest fans but he has done remarkably well for his first season in the Premiership and despite a few silly mistakes he’s made some fantastic tackles and great headers. It’s a hard task to come to a new club, a new division and be expected to play nearly every game and play it well so he’s done really well when you consider the circumstances. I believe in Laurent and I think next season will be a much improved one on his part.

 

Un-Sung Hero

I was tempted to give this one to Chamakh because people started giving him a bit of stick towards the end of the season but it’s easy to forget his vital contribution at the start and also to not notice his commitment despite lack of goal towards the end. However this award is made for Bacary Sagna, he’s one of our best players but being in the position he is in he will never get the praise he deserves. He’s started to get a bit more appreciation to be honest and most people do notice the job he does but as a right back he’ll have to do something special to be player of the season. Just keep it up Bacary, you’re doing a great job.

 

Biggest Cunt of the Season

This is one of the new awards for this season and there were plenty of nominees. You’ve got your usual lot in there, Spurs, Chelsea, Stoke, Birmingham, Nani and the expression ‘Mental Strength’. However my winner of the ugliest award in football goes to the referee at the Nou Camp, Massimo Busacca for that red card awarded to van Persie. It was a total joke of a decision and I will never understand the rationale behind it. It completely ruined a great game and you never know what might’ve happened if we’d remained with 11 men. Massimove Cunt Busacca, you are a massive cunt.

 

Hero of the season

Not to be confused with the Un-Sung Hero award, this is almost the Sung Hero Award if you like; which goes to the man who was most heroic this season and stopped us from being ever shitererer. I’ve gone for Robin van Persie who went on an incredible goal scoring run since he returned back from his traditional yearly injury. He’s broken the record for consecutive goals scored away from home and has been our outright source of goals the second half of the season. He single-handedly kept this team in it at times and if it weren’t for him then we probably wouldn’t have even qualified for the Champions League. Keep it up Robin, just try bloody not get injured! With him fit for a full season I reckon he might get near those amazing goal rates of Thierry Henry.

 

Goal of the Season

For this award I personally like to weigh up the quality of the goal quite heavily with the importance of it. There have been some brilliant strikes this year but the one that springs most to mind for me is Arshavin vs. Barcelona (2-1). It was a brilliant counter-attacking move, the passing and vision in the build up was exquisite and the finish was so cool and so calculated. Most players in Arshavin’s position would’ve blasted it, probably high and wide but he curled it expertly low into the far corner but you have to credit Nasri with a great assist also. It was also an indescribable feeling seeing that goal in and to go 2-1 up on Barcelona. For these reasons it’s my goal of the season and I’m sure none of you will pass up the opportunity to watch it one more time:

 

Low Point of the Season

Unfortunately, I’ve got a long list of contenders for this one. There was some really awful results this season including the 3-2 vs. Spurs and the 4-4 vs. Newcastle. However from my long list the one that stands out the most is the Carling Cup Final defeat and the resulting collapse of our season. It is not a big trophy, we all know that but it was hyped up to be the ‘stepping stone to greater things’ and propel this side into the one we all know it’s capable of being. Obviously, that didn’t happen and it ended up being the ‘stepping in cow shit in your best shoes’ and totally destroyed our season. We won a grand total of two league games following the cup final loss and I think was the biggest factor in our title collapse.

The manner of defeat was just awful too, although we hadn’t played our very, very best we we’re looking like we would beat Birmingham in extra time then WHOOPS a big fat mix up between Szeczesny and Koscielny and we’ve allowed Martins to score into an empty net in the last minute. It was one of the most disappointing matches I’ve ever had the displeasure of attending and there’s nothing more you could really say at the time apart from a series of expletives.

 

Highlight of the Season

So it turns out the highlight of the season was that Arsenal 2-1 Barcelona home win. To beat the European champions was indescribable and I’m just glad I was lucky enough to be there. I know we didn’t win the tie as a whole but we have to take what positives we can from this season and to beat them was just brilliant. I hate Barcelona, with a passion and for us to get one over on those fucking cheating, Cesc-stealing, ridiculous diving, paella-eating wankers was brilliant. It showed just what we were capable of on our day and left us all hoping we could do it. In the end it didn’t happen but it’s still nice knowing we beat the eventual winners.

 

Word of the Season

Disappointing
[dis-uh-point-ing]
1. To fail to fulfill the expectations or wishes of.
2. To defeat the fulfillment of (hopes, plans, etc.); thwart; frustrate.
3. To bring or cause disappointment.

And that’s pretty much what it has been like to be an Arsenal fan this season. Roll on the next one.

The Cannon is 5 today: A look back on the half decade 18 May, 2011

Posted by lasagnechef in Arsenal News.
9 comments

Five years ago this very day, on a May afternoon back in 2006 in Borehamwood I sat down at the desk and signed up to a Blogger account and put my finger and thumb to my chin to think up a name for an Arsenal blog. Back then I thought every name was taken, what must it be like now trying to come up with a title! I think I was about two paragraphs into my first post when I decided to scrap the whole idea and turned off the computer. So with now no intention to write a blog, I suddenly came up with the name The Cannon and I thought I’d give it another crack, this time on WordPress. So I sat and wrote the very first blog and to be quite honest with you I never thought it’d last; however the very next day there was some big, big news and that was that Thierry Henry would be staying; and from there the blog continued. There are blogs out there that have been running for a lot longer than me but 5 years is a bit of a personal milestone so it’s only fair to give it a mention I think.

I just want to start by saying thank you to everyone that has visited the blog over the years, it sounds a bit soppy but without the readers there would be no blog, I mean there would be no point in doing it would there? So I really appreciate every hit I get and I love seeing feedback from all round the world. I never thought that the blog would grow as quickly as it did and it was that early burst of interest that kept me going.

It’s been a very busy year in my personal life but no so much on here because of that. There have been a couple of (only very slightly football related) mental breakdowns in the past year that have resulted in some periods of absence but I think people are used to that now. There was a bad blip from late last year where I posted only once in October and then not again until the beginning of this year, and I regret that. In my, ‘hibernation’ lets call it, I lost a great deal of my readership and I’ve been working ever since to try and resurrect the blog but I know it’s a long process. I can see this busy period in my working life coming to an end soon so hopefully it’s back on track for the foreseeable future.

So the blog being 5 today, means that 5 years and one day ago I was in Paris for the 2006 Champions League Final where a 10-man Arsenal lost late on against Barcelona. It was heartbreak for all Gooners but I still think it was just a fantastic occasion to be involved in and I had an amazing time travelling across the Channel to support the Arsenal. Winning the trophy that year not only would’ve arguably represented our greatest triumph as a football club but also would’ve meant a piece of silverware, something we haven’t picked up since the FA Cup a year prior to that.

I was at that game in Cardiff when Paul Scholes missed his penalty in the shoot-out and Patrick Vieira stepped up to score the winner from the spot with his last kick in an Arsenal shirt. I remember it clearly I was up in the top tier of the Millennium Stadium right next to the United fans; despite how well I can picture the scenes they still seem fucking ages ago. 6 years ago this month we last won a trophy, ouch. We’ve come pretty close in that time including two Carling Cup finals, one against Chelsea back in Cardiff and also this year’s final vs. Birmingham at Wembley. I was present at both of those finals too and this year should’ve really been the year that we turned the saying from ‘Arsenal haven’t won a trophy in six years’ to ‘Arsenal have only won the League Cup in six years’. A last minute calamity between Koscielny and Szczesny meant we gifted it to the Brummies and we continue in our search for a big silver thing.

We’ve been involved in a few title races in those 6 years too but our lack of one of those big silver things has dented our confidence. Every time it has been the same old story – promise so much but fall miserably at the end. This year in particular has been the most solid example of that. Only a month or two ago we were in a position where the destination of the title was actually in our hands, now you have Arsenal.com running stories headlined: Champions League – What if we finish 4th? It’s a sorry state of affairs that we’ve allowed it to happen but our form has been so, so terrible since that Carling Cup defeat that we’re now looking to finish not second, not third but fourth.

So what’s next? In 2011/12 are we going to just stroll out and do exactly the same thing again? Well, frankly I don’t think it will be that easy. Man City are going to strengthen like you wouldn’t believe, as will Chelsea to an extent I imagine, United will build upon this year’s triumph and Liverpool are looking to break back into the top four. It’s going to be a challenge not just to fight for the league title but also to remain in the top four. I think for these reasons there needs to be some serious improvements for next year otherwise things are going to go from bad to worse.

I’m not the one to tell you how we’re going to do that but transfers are a start; they are not the solution, but they will certainly help. Mentions this week of Scott Parker haven’t been totally dismissed by me, he might not be the quality of player you’d hope we’d bring in but if we had a few more players with his mentality we would be in a much stronger position. We need more men that are willing to give their absolute all on the pitch and fight for the team – for that reason I wouldn’t actually mind us putting a bid in for Parker. He could be a back up to Song that we so desperately need plus show one or two what it means to actually earn your money as a footballer.

It’s set to be a busy summer of ins and outs but I also hope Wenger is working on a strategy for the future. Something in his philosophy isn’t working and I hope he’s not blind to that. I have a feeling (or it could just be a hope) that he’s going to be a bit more ruthless in the future and that might be shown by him cutting his losses on some disappointments this summer but we’ll see.

It’s a worrying but very interesting future ahead of us, and I look forward to the next 5 years writing about it. Thanks for reading, as always.

Villa thoughts from the East Stand: the fans aren’t happy 17 May, 2011

Posted by lasagnechef in Arsenal News.
13 comments

This is usually the part where I apologise for disappearing again and round up what I have missed. Well I’ll tell you where I’ve been, I’ve just come off the back of one of the busiest working weeks of my life, so busy that I didn’t have time to write a blog, didn’t have time to catch up on the news and didn’t even have time for the luxury of sleep. I could’ve written on Friday or Saturday to preview the Villa game but frankly I felt inept having not read a line of Arsenal news in the week prior and I was catching up on some much needed sleep! Plus i went to watch Bournemouth vs. Huddersfield on Saturday in the League One Play-Offs for a bit of a change of footballing scenery.

It’s not like me to have avoided Arsenal news for so long, I’m sure that you’re just the same spending every day on different blogs reading up the latest news, gossip and opinion. It was kind of weird not having that last week but I guess it was a bit convenient as it sort of comes at a time when Arsenal isn’t exactly all bliss and wonderful. Since we last spoke we’ve gone and lost to Stoke and Villa, just two more losses to add to the huge pile of disappointment this year.

I was at the game on Sunday and it was a rather strange atmosphere, it all kicked off with the protest march outside the ground before the match, which almost set the tone for the day. I was in the ground with about half an hour to go until kick off and the stadium was rather empty at this point. In fact by the time we had kicked off it still hadn’t filled up and that was the way it stayed. It was still about 80%-90% full but there were empty red seats scattered all round the ground which just goes to show unless there’s been an epic flu outbreak in the North London area then a great deal of fans have seen quite enough for one season.

Then of course we were 2-0 down inside 15 minutes and that never turned around so people were pretty grumpy, including myself. Then late in the second half came the usual announcement of the attendance, which they claimed was 60,023, which is an absolute joke. I’ve been to the ground enough times to know what 60,000+ looks like and that was not it on Sunday. That number denotes there being a packed-out stadium to the eye and that’s not what we had, it was definitely a 58,000-59,000 number yesterday. They’ve done this all season though; they announce the attendance as the number of tickets that got sold not the number of people that turn up. Why are they doing this? Are they scared to show that they’re losing support or are they just unaware of the definition of the word attendance? The number should represent the number of fans that attend the match, not including those that had a valid ticket for the game and didn’t bother going along.

Anyway it’s a silly thing to get caught up on but the announcement of this number sparked a large portion of the crowd to start the boos and jeers. You could hardly hear the announcer say, “Arsenal Football Club would like to thank you for your continued support…” for all the boos ringing around. This led on to chants of, “6%, you’re having a laugh!” And, “Spend some fucking money!” There were others that I couldn’t quite make out but there was definitely hostility being directed at the directors’ box and bench. I’ve since heard that you could tell Wenger picked up on these chants and looked like he felt quite uncomfortable by them. In one way I want to say ‘good’ but another part of me feels bad for him.

I can’t remember this well another time when I’ve seen such a majority of fans turn against the club like I’m seeing at the moment. The disappointment on the pitch combined with the price hike in the stands has left most fans bitterly angry. I have this strong feeling that we’re starting to become more like customers to the club than fans and sometimes that gets to me.

I’m not trying to say that I’m part of that percentage of fans that are actively campaigning against the club and I’m not one of the thousands that booed the team on Sunday but I’d say I’m in the large majority that feels like something isn’t quite right and I’m utterly disappointed. Unusually for the final home game of the season there were fans leaving with 10 minutes to go this weekend, any other game I’d just think it was normal but not this one. Then on the final whistle it seems the majority was heading for the exits and only a few stayed behind to watch the ‘lap of appreciation’. Given the opportunity, I have always stayed behind for this, I don’t know why I just quite like to see the players off one last time ahead of a boring summer but this time around after the final whistle I upped and left. I was pretty gutted about our performance and it typified the way we had failed this season and I just didn’t see any reason to hang around this time. You could say I was a bit depressed with the way everything had gone, I was genuinely upset walking up those stairs and although I had to think for a minute whether I wanted to stay or not I think I did the right thing.

I think this was the feeling that most felt however some did stay behind. Some stayed to applaud the players off as they came round and thanked the fans for their support however a staggering number seemed to stay behind simply to boo their team. I’ve seen videos and highlights from this lap and you can hear boos quite clearly through the applause. It’s a bit sad really I think, I mean as fans we have every right to show how we feel but for those people to go out of their way to boo the team was a bit wrong. I think what those people should’ve done what I did and head for the exits, I think the shock of the amount of empty seats for the lap would’ve hit home to the players and manager much stronger than a few boos. That’s just my opinion.

I’m not going to lie but earlier on Sunday I was thinking ‘this is our chance to wave goodbye to Cesc’ but I didn’t stay to bother. It’s sad thinking that I might not ever see him play again but oh well. His season is over, he wont be playing at Fulham either so we may have just seen the last of Cesc Fabregas in an Arsenal shirt. It’s going to be an interesting summer and he is just one of a few that could be going through the exit door at London Colney.

It’s set to be a busy, busy summer for Arsenal. In terms of transfers we desperately need to strengthen yet again and especially with the price rise fans are going to be angry if we don’t spend that extra money. I’m not quite sure who we might look to bring in yet, but there are a few names already being talked about for the exit. Fabregas, Nasri, Clichy, Bendtner, Arshavin, Rosicky, Gibbs, Denilson and maybe a couple others all have some probability of leaving this transfer window. Over the next few weeks Wenger will be having talks with some of these players about their futures and don’t be surprised if a few of those names are no longer with us come August. If there are to be departures I hope they are sorted out quickly though, I can’t be arsed to go through a whole summer of speculation and I the sooner they’re gone the sooner we can look to replace. All this talk is for another day and another blog post though.

It feels very much like the end of the season but we’ve got one more game to go away to Fulham. We’ve got pride to play for now and the small matter of automatic Champions League qualification which is now out of our hands.

Thanks for reading.

Stoke Preview: Just beat the bastards 8 May, 2011

Posted by lasagnechef in Arsenal News.
7 comments

Those of you who read Friday’s blog will know that I’m pretty busy with work at the moment. Well I thought that I should mention as some kind of disclaimer that I haven’t been to sleep yet, I’ve been up all night working so if anything seems a little strange there’s your explanation. I’m pretty jealous of you people waking up this morning to this blog but I guess my lack of sleep if my own fault for putting things off for so long. Some things never change.

Anyway, enough of that and more Arsenal. The squad got the train up to Stoke yesterday and Robin van Persie tweeted this decent bit of news to us:

I can’t wait to see Tommy in action today. He might not start but it’s good to know that that achilles is finally sorted and he can concentrate on playing again. We could do with his fighting spirit and all round mentalness! However the focus today isn’t going to be on Thomas Vermaelen, it’s obviously all about Aaron Ramsey and Ryan Shawcross. Wenger has tried to play the story down but there’s no avoiding it really. Arsene has said that it will be good for Aaron to go play and even dropped his two favourite words in saying that the Wales captain is mentally strong.

I can only guess, but I would imagine Aaron is quite up for this one. I think he will be going out there to show that’s he’s back and that’s about it really. I’m not expecting him to lamp Shawcross in the chin or anything, although I would very much enjoy that. He seems a pretty calm and professional guy and I think he’ll just get on with it, do his job and play to the best he can.

As for Stoke though, they’re still very bitter about what Ramsey did to Shawcross. I mean how dare he put all that stress and unhappiness on poor Ryan and the mental trauma it inflicted on him must’ve been just awful. I’ve read some ridiculous stuff on Stoke forums this week, there are people out there fully willing to boo Aaron for whatever their reasons are and there’s even people going as far as advocating him breaking his leg again. I know not all Stoke fans are the same but I can pretty safely say they are a massive bunch of cunts.

Since Stoke joined the Premier League we has formed a little rivalry between the clubs. The managers, the fans, the players, the staff – everyone at Arsenal and Stoke hate each other. I’ve caught the bug and I hope we destroy them today. I loathe Stoke City and whatever misfortune they get is fully deserved in my opinion. It’s going to be a pretty heated game on and off the pitch this afternoon, I’m excited.

We’re without Fabregas, Diaby and Nasri plus I haven’t heard how Djourou and Clichy are doing either. I know Djourou travelled because there was pictures of him getting a massage up on twitter yesterday but I’m not sure on Clichy. It’s not going to be our best line up but it’s one that should be able to beat Stoke:

Szczesny
Sagna – Vermaelen – Koscielny – Gibbs
Song
Ramsey – Wilshere
Walcott – van Persie (c) – Arshavin

I’m not very confident about my guess of the team this week. Vermaelen and Gibbs there could easily be replaced with Djourou and Clichy depending on fitness. Also Walcott and Arshavin don’t strike me as the sort of players for this game either; Theo’s pace could be devastating against Stoke’s defence but I’m worried about the pairs ability to fight. We’ll see. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Bendtner start in what could be one of his final games for the club.

However that midfield I am confident about. It’s the trio that faced United and did so well and I’m backing them to continue that form into today. They just worked perfectly, Song did the right thing and just hung back sorting everything out and making it hard for strikers to get through to our back four whilst Wilshere and Ramsey alternated in attacking runs and sitting back and it all worked like a well oiled machine.

I always have that niggling concern of will the players be up for it? Too many times we’ve dropped points from not turning up against less glamourous opposition and to be frank I’m fucking tired of it. I have a feeling that today we’ll be alright though, as I said the atmosphere will be pretty intense today and it’s a game that both teams just really want to beat the other. As in the winning and losing sense rather than the fighting sense…well hopefully.

I would love nothing more than to shut those fuckwit Stoke fans up by beating them today. Hopefully the players feel the same. I’m off back to work now but I’ll be tuning it at 2 o’clock this afternoon for what should be a tasty game.

Come on Aaron, come on Arsenal. Let’s do it.

News round up – United, Stoke, Ramsey and ticket prices 6 May, 2011

Posted by lasagnechef in Arsenal News.
1 comment so far

Hello and welcome back after another traditional unexplained break by The Cannon. I have good reason though I promise, I’m in the final few weeks of my degree course and things are pretty hectic at the moment. Well they should’ve been hectic for a long while but as is usual with me I’ve put everything off to the last minute and I haven’t even had a minute to think about the blog never mind write on it. So I apologise to those of you left disappointed – I’m back, for now.

I’ve missed a fair bit in the time I’ve been gone. Firstly we beat Man united, which is always good. ‘Always’ is probably not the best choice of word seeing as it’s not very often we put one over on our Mancunian rivals. It’s a shame that we blew it against Sunderland, West Brom, Blackburn, Liverpool, Spurs and Bolton to make the match last weekend almost pointless but you have to try and enjoy beating United all the same. The result didn’t really make me think what might’ve been though, it’s obvious how much this team feels the pressure and with the pressure well and truly off we were able to come up with a result. As much as I thought we were going to lose I wasn’t surprised that we won under the circumstances. That doesn’t make any sense does it? I know what I mean anyway.

So despite that result we still look out of the title race unfortunately. Wenger said today that we need Chelsea to win on Sunday but I think he knows deep down we’ve blown it already. Chelsea kick off at Old Trafford immediately after our game at Stoke and a second loss on the bounce for United would allow Chelsea level on points with them. It’s quite remarkable that they’ve got into a position for that to happen, I guess you have to take your hat off to Chelsea for their recent form; it’s where we have failed. If we were to win at Stoke then a Chelsea win would put up three points behind both of them. A great position it sounds but with just two games to go I wouldn’t get too excited and go online betting on Arsenal to be Champions. Plus there’s the whole if we win at Stoke too…

The Britannia has been a tricky ground for us in recent years but we won there last season and I’m hoping we can do it again. We’ll be without Fabregas, Diaby and Nasri, however we managed to beat Man United without most of them so surely we can do Stoke. Also Djourou and Clichy are doubts but Vermaelen could return to the squad. It’ll be great to see Thomas again if he does make it; it’s been far, far too long. Wenger admits that he would’ve tried to bring in a replacement if he knew he was going to be still out which is kind of frustrating to hear because I never got the impression the manager was left so out of the loop with the situation as much as the fans were. It’s decisions like that which may have ultimately cost us silverware this season but there’s no point in getting hung up on it now I guess…

So with Fabregas out Ramsey will continue in his place and there is a fair bit of hype about his return to Stoke 15 months after that terrible leg break. Arsene has tried to play it down but there is obviously going to be something said about it. I hope that it’s all positive though, I hope Aaron uses it as motivation to have a good game and show not only everyone else but himself that he has fully rehabilitated and found his form again. I read some hilarious but shocking stuff on a Stoke City forum today, they’re still so bitter about what mean old Aaron did to innocent little Ryan Shawcross it’s unbelievable. I can’t actually comprehend that they’re discussing booing him for what he did. Actually maybe I can, how dare he break his leg at their ground?! It’s a joke.

I guess we’ll see if there’s any drama on Sunday but I think Ramsey is professional enough just to treat it as another game and hopefully, like I said, if anything he uses it as motivation to have another good game on the back of last weekend.

Moving on and there’s been a lot of talk about the rise in ticket prices announced this week. There’s a 6.5% rise on tickets for next season which doesn’t sound like much but when it comes to renewing season tickets we’re talking about an extra few hundred quid. They’re saying that the rise is in line with inflation but it’s not like anyone is getting a pay-rise in line with inflation or that what goes on, on the pitch has improved considerably. Had we won something this season then it might’ve been slightly justified but it’s all come a bit out of the blue really and it’s a decision which will price many fans out of seeing their club.

It’s not just that though, Red and Silver Memberships have gone up in price considerably too. Red has gone up to £31 and Silver up to an astonishing £49. I think that it’s absolutely ridiculous that they charge that much money for the simple privilege of being able to buy tickets. It’s a joke really. So that’s a 6.5% rise in ticket prices but a 25% rise in Junior Gunners, 50% for Silver and 55% for Red. They’ve kept that one quiet haven’t they?

It’s frustrating because as Arsenal fans we have no choice. It’s not like we’re just going to all jump ship because it’s got too expensive. We are (well most of us are) Arsenal fans customers for life so we’re suckered into this. They can charge us what they like and we’ll have no choice but to pay it if we want to see our team. I will reluctantly pay it, most of us will but it’s sad that some people will have to give up going to see Arsenal because they can no longer afford the cost. I know there are reasons for the rise but it’s harsh on fans to get the money from them when there’s been all this talk recently of millions of pounds exchanging hands for shares and sponsorship deals. In the past year or two we’ve given out a lot of new contracts and along with other expenses the money has to come from somewhere and unfortunately it’s us.

I’m going to leave that discussion there because there’s not much we can do about it and also this blog is getting pretty long. There may be protests etc but at the end of the day the rise has been put in place and they’re not going to change it now. We’ll just have to cut the costs elsewhere by not buying a half time pie, not buying the shirt and not buying the programme (which is going up to £3.50 a pop I hear). But knowing me I’ll end up buying all three of those things anyway…

Talking of the new shirt, just quickly before I go I got an email from Nike with some photos and videos that you might like to see. The photos you’ve probably seen/I can’t be arsed to upload them all but I’ve uploaded the video to youtube for ya.

Okay thanks for reading, I’ll speak to you soon.

My thoughts on a quiet yet intense week 27 April, 2011

Posted by lasagnechef in Arsenal News.
4 comments

I’ve struggled to know what to write the last couple of days. We are currently in one of those customary periods of silence from the club following a disappointing result so there isn’t a great deal to talk about or any news to discuss. It’s probably for the best though that Arsenal.com goes into hibernation for the week, you don’t want to anger fans further with silly articles – and there are a lot of angry fans out there. It is strange though that in the build up to a match that was the biggest game of our season just a couple of weeks ago there is this deathly silence.

So basically I haven’t really planned what I’m going to write today, I just thought that I’d sit down infront of the keyboard and type whatever comes out. It’s partly due to the lack of news but it’s also a good exercise for me to release some feelings I have. I could start previewing the Man United game but frankly the match isn’t wetting my appetite much at the moment.

What has been the main point of discussion doing the rounds on the Arsenal blogs is pretty much the state of our football club. Many are upset with how our title hopes have so dramatically and depressingly fallen and with that there always comes anger. It’s been a few days since we lost to Bolton now and I’ve calmed down quite a bit. I’ve accepted the position we’re in and that’s that as far as I’m concerned personally.

However some extremists have taken our recent failures as the final straw and there’s even a protest being organised for the final home match of the season, against Aston Villa. The group, ‘Where has our Arsenal gone?’ or the black scarf brigade, as some are calling them have published  this press release detailing their grounds for protest and will march before the Villa game to make their voices heard. However as The View from N5 points out, all their arguments for protest are quite ridiculous really. There’s stuff in there about the club not making enough commercial revenue, a mention of the kits we wear, a call for Peter Hill-Wood to get the sack, something about moving the away fans to the upper tier and some other bits that you can read for yourself if you haven’t already. They do talk about the rumoured rise in season ticket prices which is something that all fans are going to be upset about and I see their point there but it hasn’t even been officially announced yet.

I can’t say that the points they outline are enough reason for a protest march. We’ve seen plenty of football protests in recent years but we’re not in as bad a position as any of those clubs. For that reason I find it somewhat embarrassing that a group of fans are choosing to do this, it’s good that we care about the club and we will fight to resolve problems but I just don’t think this one is right. The papers are going to pick up on this and the opinions of a few fans will be taken as the opinion of all of us and I can see a big falling out ahead. Also how silly is it going to look with people holding signs saying, “We’re fed up with the lack of revenue the club makes through commerical deals! But we don’t want to pay for it by buying new kits every season!”

I guess we’ll see how that all turns out in a few weeks. To be honest I was a bit surprised when I read that statement the other day that there was no mention of Stan Kroenke or any takeover issues. Now that would be something that I could understand protesting against, not that I’m saying I would be joining in that march but I can understand how Gooners might not agree with it. I’m also surprised that there was no real mention of on the pitch matters which to me is what is most important. They do say that we need to buy two world class players to propell us to the next level but most people know that it’s not just as simple as that. You can’t just go to Madrid and ask for Kaka just because we want him. I also loved this line:

We want to see Mr Wenger repeat his early successful years with the club.

Haha! Well obviously.

It’s on the pitch matters that interest me most, obviously I care about the business of the club, how we are run and all these types of things but I’m just a football fan at heart and I get my kicks out of going to watch Arsenal play, not worrying about our financial revenue. Our fall from a title winning position has been quite dramatic and quite depressing. I have tried to remain optimistic for as long as possible but I’ll admit now that the challenge is over.

It’s all down to this run of draws that we’ve been on. It absolutely ridiculous. I can’t make my mind up what it is down to, the performance hasn’t been up to scratch recently and although sometimes you saw the players look like they really wanted it the overall attitude has not been right for this title fight. Everyone has got their theory about why that is, be it lack of experience, lack of quality, being paid too much, not enough competition for places, formation, personel or whatever else you think it’s down to. Personally  think it is a mixture of all of these things plus a total lack of mental strength.

You can tell that this is something that Wenger thinks is very important just from the amount of times he mentions mental strength, attitude and desire but somehow he’s not inspiring it into his players. This drop in form at the business end of the season is becoming too familiar now and once again it has been our downfall in our hunt for our first trophy since 2005. I think we have massive issues with confidence and I believe we were just a few minutes away from solving that problem this season. It’s a kind of catch-22 but we need the confidence gained from winning silverware to be able to win silverware. We almost achieved that this season in the Carling Cup and I’m convinced that if we hadn’t of made that disastrous error in the last minute of the final we’d have gone on to win it in extra time and things would be a lot, lot different right now.

There’s no point in keeping on thinking back to that now, I guess all we can do is hope to put it right next season and I hope Wenger takes the Carling Cup are seriously as we did this season. If we could’ve won that it might’ve propelled us on to greater things in 2011. However now I’m just hoping that 2012 can be our year of triumph whether we need to win the League Cup on the way or not. I’m already thinking to next season, but this one ain’t over yet. We still need results to keep us in the automatic qualification spots, dropping to 3rd or even 4th will be further damaging to our already in-tatters confidence so we need to get behind the team and support them right up until the final whistle on 22nd May at Craven Cottage.

A few so called supporters this season have lost touch with the definition of their description; we’re there to support the lads and do everything we can to help them win. It’s pretty simple. After 22nd May that is the time for questioning, that is when we can look to change personnel, add experience, add quality and sort out issues with the team. Up until that point though I hope you’ll join me in supporting the team to the end. I am not 100% happy with how things are going for us at the moment but the summer is the time to question who should remain at the club and who shouldn’t.

Well that’s more than enough babbling on for this afternoon. Thanks for reading Arsenal fans.

Bolton 2-1 Arsenal – 24/04/11 – (Premier League) 25 April, 2011

Posted by lasagnechef in Arsenal News.
8 comments

Well that’s it; done. I’ve come to get used to the title race coming to the end but this year I really hoped we could go all the way and despite hoping and hoping after draw after draw it is finally over now after yesterday’s loss to Bolton. In a way it’s pretty relieving, no more hoping and dreaming, just whatever happens happens and we look forward to the new season.

It’s all very similar to the way it fell apart last season, a bad April month taking us from a great position to completely out of it in the space of a few weeks. It’s kind of depressing, but it was coming really. It’s been coming since we lost the Carling Cup final, since we drew 4-4 with Newcastle, since we lost a 2-0 lead to Spurs, since we lost a 3-1 lead to Spurs, since we scored against Liverpool in the 98th minute and didn’t win… I could go on and one but all of these games are examples of where our confidence has been absolutely destroyed, hence the terrible run in. Wenger keeps going on about our mental strength but it is our complete and utter lack of this that has been our downfall. I now can’t stand it when Arsene mutters those two words in the hope that if he says it enough it will be true, well it’s not – we’re in pieces and we need sorting right out.

However – all that needs to come in the summer though. I understand the frustration at the moment, that comes with falling out of the race for silverware but there’s nothing we can do at the moment. The summer is the time for change and I hope it is a very busy summer indeed. But we’ll leave that until then, all we can do now is try and enjoy the rest of the season as much as we can and just support them in the race for 2nd or indeed 3rd.

We started the game really brightly yesterday, we came out flying and it caught Bolton out a bit. I thought we should’ve had a penalty early on when Walcott was brought down but it wasn’t to be. We kept pressing though and we looked likely for an early goal. After time Bolton found themselves back in it; with every one of our misplaced passes and defensive slips the home side’s confidence grew as ours limped.

We had a few chances but the way things were going I wasn’t surprised when Bolton opened the scoring in the 38th minute. Sturridge the scorer from a corner after we failed to keep it out. They probably deserved their half time lead, we started well but that counts for nothing and they looked the more dangerous in the first half. Cesc had a shot blocked and I think we had one other chance but Bolton were almost through on goal a couple of times and really should’ve scored earlier than they did.

We needed to come out in the second half and sort it out but we nearly made it a whole lot worse. Djourou conceded a very soft penalty and it was up to Szczesny to keep us in it – and he did saving Kevin Davies’ poorly struck spot kick. If that had gone in then I fear what might’ve happened but we actually equalized not long after the penalty save. A nice drive towards the box, into the feet of Nasri who laid it off for Robin again who struck it low inside the post. A nicely taken goal and it looked like we had some confidence back. We spend most of the second 45 in Bolton’s half of the pitch, we were going for the winning goal and we were desperate for it.

However again just like the first half, every time we failed Bolton improved. They were catching us out on the break a few times showing us that we were still in danger of losing this one. Wenger threw on Chamakh in the 64th minute taking off Alex Song, there was no doubting that we needed to win.

Out best chances came to Samir Nasri. First he found himself clean through thanks to a great lofted pass from Cesc or Robin, can’t remember. I thought, ‘Goal.’ Had to be. Samir from earlier in the season would’ve stuck that in whilst already thinking about his celebration but he struck it right at the keeper and the demise in his form in front of goal epitomizes the dip in the whole team’s attitude. A few minutes later he had the chance to put it right when Chamakh nodded it down for Samir in front of goal but again he couldn’t put it away. I couldn’t fucking believe it.

We were desperate for a goal, I wanted us to score so much. Not just to keep us in the title race but to at least make next weekend’s game a bit more exciting. I had almost conceded the title after the Spurs game but I still hoped that we might keep the race interesting by beating Bolton.

Instead it was a 90th minute header from Bolton to put the cherry on top. There was no coming back from it, there was no way we were going to score two goals even in the 5 minutes of extra time and with that poor defending from yet another corner went our 2010/11 season.

So instead of hoping to at least keep next Sunday’s game versus United interesting I now find myself thankful that Chelsea overtook us so that United can’t win the league at our ground this weekend. God it’s fucked up being a Gooner.

The collapse since the Carling Cup Final has been incredible. I always said that winning that trophy would give us confidence for the rest of the season but the way we lost it ended up being a larger blow than anyone could’ve imagined. That last minute cock up between Szczesny and Koscielny has cost this season dearly and we all just need the season to just be over now.

It’s very sad to know it’s all over and I don’t see myself bothering to go again this season. It’s not that I’ve given up on them or anything like that or I can’t be bothered to go because we’re not in a title race. I just can’t really afford to spend that much money on a ticket, travel, food and drinks just to let down by the same mistakes time and time after again. It’s getting fucking boring and it’s making me skint!

I’m craving change; I’m utterly fed up of seeing us fall at the same hurdles every game, month, season. A change of manager? Who knows, to be honest right now I wouldn’t mind. A change of players? One or two positions still need serious sorting out and if Wenger can’t see it now then he really has lost it. Maybe something else needs changing, but now is really not the time. Lets just try and enjoy what’s left of the season because I know in two or three months I’ll be missing the bastards again!

Oh it’s tough being a football fan an Arsenal fan. But we keep going and our next target is to try and end the season on some high with a win over Man United.

Thanks for reading.

Spurs Preview: A massive North London derby 20 April, 2011

Posted by lasagnechef in Arsenal News.
9 comments

The North London derby is always vitally important to any Arsenal or Tottenham fan but today is yet another one that is just that little bit more special. A win always means everything to both sets of fans but we’re at a point in the season where we genuinely need the points, never mind fan pride. With Man United dropping two points at Newcastle last night we have an opportunity to close the gap which we must take. We’re not going to get a lot of chances to catch up on United so we have to take them when they come. We’re seven points behind them today so a win tonight could bring that back down to a much more manageable four. Four points is definitely a title race position especially when United have to play Chelsea and us.

Spurs are desperate for points too though and they will take confidence from beating us at our place. They can go level on points with Man City in 4th with a win over us tonight and they will be desperate to not only get back in the Champions League but end our title hopes. Let’s be honest, a loss tonight would pretty much be the end of it, there’d be a slim hope but nothing more than that. Also a loss for us and a win for Chelsea against Birmingham tonight would see us drop down to third, which is a bit shocking.

Lets not think about losing though, we have to have our eyes on the prize. We’re in a title race and we need a win at White Hart Lane – if the players aren’t up for it tonight well then they’re never going to be. We might have some complaints about Liverpool but that’s behind us now, we need to take confidence from Newcastle’s result last night and close the gap. Wenger says, “I still believe it is absolutely important, essential that we give absolutely every drop of blood to do it.” I hope that ambition is shared with the players. You’ve probably seen this interview with Cesc Fabregas that emerged yesterday and he talks about a difference between pretty football and winning things. This season was our chance to make the step up, we may have missed it but we’re still in there and I hope Cesc et al. have got the desire to make it happen this season.

We might not deserve the title this year but so fucking what, I want it. It’s still doable and to come from behind in the position we’ve been in would be great. Imagine what winning the league would do to the players, that experience would be invaluable. A win at Tottenham would be the perfect catalyst to the end of season run, Wenger spoke about trying to remain unbeaten until the end of the season but it’s wins we need. Three points tonight would set up a massive game on May 1st between Arsenal and Man United so lets make sure we’re in that position come May and win tonight.

In the reverse fixture earlier in the season we lost a 2-0 lead to lose 3-2. That fucking hurt, and I hope it hurt the players too. They should be going there tonight not for revenge but just to put that right. We cannot let them take more points off us, it’s just not right. We’ve played there already this season in the Carling Cup, it was 1-1 after 90 minutes but we ended up beating them 4-1. We need to show that kind of dominance we showed in extra time that night, we need to remind them who owns North London and who is the team celebrating 50 years without winning the league.

It should be a pretty decent team playing tonight. There’s some great news that PFA right back of 2010/11, Bacary Sagna is back, not only will that strengthen us at the back but it means we’ve got no clown ready to give another 100th minute penalty away. Vermaelen is a bit short for tonight, it would’ve been great to have a player of his calibre available but Wenger is right not to rush him back. I feel that Jens Lehmann might fill his kind of void tonight, I’m sure the German will be making his voice heard in the dressing room. Arseblogger this morning speculated that Wilshere could be rested after Wenger spoke of Jack’s fatigue. He was withdrawn early against Liverpool and he did look quite tired. I think he’ll start him tonight though, his desire to win is something that we need tonight and hopefully that can rub off on his elders.

So here’s how I think we might look:

Szczesny
Sagna – Djourou – Koscielny – Clichy
Song – Wilshere
Fabregas (c)
Nasri – van Persie – Arshavin

I’ve chosen Arshavin over Walcott for tonight, I feel that (if he’s up for it) he can offer us that little extra something special out of nowhere which might be what wins the game. Theo was a little bit disappointing on Sunday but I’ve always preferred him as an option from the bench anyway. However it might be a good idea to start him though to deal with Gareth Bale on his wing, Theo is good to deploy there not only to track Bale’s runs but also to use that space on the counter. It’s up to Wenger – Arshavin or Walcott; now I’ve thought about it more I think he’ll probably go for Theo but we’ll see.

Talking of Bale, Wenger says he and Van der Vaart are their main threat. Bale is decent but I can’t believe the hype over him this season. It’s an absolute joke. He won the PFA player of the year for basically one hat trick against a tiring, and shit Inter Milan side. And they lost that game anyway! I saw a stat recently that he’s got the same amount of assists as Van der Sar in the Premier League and that says a lot. He is going to be tricky down that left hand side but I really don’t rate him anywhere near some people do. After saying all this he’ll probably go and score tonight but fuck him, the chimp-looking, banana-peeling shit cunt. As for Van der Vaart, he’s a good player but gets tired easily, mark him out of the game and we’ll be fine. Tonight is about closing down every player in possession, think back to when we beat Chelsea in December, I want a performance like that tonight – I want to see the players really want this as much as the fans.

The nerves/excitement have kicked in already, I’m buzzing for this one. It could be a massive disappointment but at the same time it could end up being the result that we look back on as the one that changed our fortunes in the title race. I’m being optimistic but I believe we can do it, I’ve seen how we can fuck things up in the past but I truly think we’ll go there tonight with a huge desire to win. I wish I could be there tonight with the couple thousand Gooners travelling down Seven Sisters Road. I was after a spare but it doesn’t look like I’ll get one now so Sky Sports and a few beers it is.

There’s nothing left to say now, it’s up to the players to win this one for us. Believe in them and they will deliver. COME ON YOU GUNNERS.

Oh and finally…

The wanky Tottenham Hotspur went to Rome to see the Pope,
The wanky Tottenham Hotspur went to Rome to see the Pope,
The wanky Tottenham Hotspur went to Rome to see the Pope,
And this is what he said…
FUCK OFF.
Who’s that team we call the Arsenal,
Who’s that team we all adore,
We’re the boys in red and white and we’re fucking dynamite,
And Harry Redknapp’s mother is a WHOOOOORE!

Arsenal 1-1 Liverpool – 17/04/11 – (Premier League) 19 April, 2011

Posted by lasagnechef in Arsenal News.
4 comments

I’ve had a couple of days to calm down from this one but to be honest I was never really angry once I left the stadium. I was fucking furious at Eboue for that ridiculous push and the rest of the team for not just booting it out whenever possible but then I soon went into the all too familiar state of disappointment. I’m just about beginning to accept being constantly let down, it sucks but it’s been a recurring theme. If I earned a pound for every time I’ve used the words frustrating or disappointing in response to Arsenal then, then I could probably buy us a more intelligent reserve right back.

Although Eboue is a fucking idiot, you can’t blame the result all on him. Yes, he was the one that conceded the most stupid penalty I’ve even seen with my own eyes but once we’d gone 1-0 up in the 97th minute there should’ve been no chance for Liverpool to come back. We had just a few minutes to hold out and surely that’s not too much to ask? Oh, it is? Okay. Is it so much to ask to stick your boot through the ball just the once when there’s literally seconds left to play? That’s too much as well is it? Fucking hell are we trying to work counter attacks with one minute to go and 1-0 up now are we?

I asked before the game if we would stand up and show how much we wanted to the title and I guess we didn’t want it enough, especially not in those final few minutes. I’m not saying we didn’t try to defend but if it meant that much to us there would’ve been no team able to get through us never mind how weak our defence is. Well it didn’t happen and it ended up 1-1. I’ve almost accepted the result because it was 0-0 for so long and a draw looked likely but it’s just such a shame to take the lead and lose it like we did.

We dominated the most part of the game, Carroll and Suarez didn’t click and without Gerrard I’ve never really been that scared of Liverpool. We looked alright but we didn’t create enough proper goal scoring chances and Wenger has admitted it was a bit of a problem. He also said that Liverpool had a lot of men behind the ball defending which is also true. They did make it quite difficult for us and I’m surprised they played so negatively but I guess it worked if they came for a draw.

Over the course of the game, other than the penalties there were only a handful of chances for either team. Liverpool had a couple of half-hearted shots and we hit the bar from a header, had one disallowed for offside and the best chance was from a little flick from Fabregas to van Persie in the area but he couldn’t score one-on-one with Reina.

It was a frustrating game, Liverpool didn’t deserve anything but we weren’t doing enough to take the points for ourselves. I’ll just move on to extra time because that’s where all the action was; At the 90 minute mark it looked like it was heading for 0-0 unless there could be any late drama in the 8 minutes added on for a head injury to Carragher. We won our penalty when Cesc burst into the area and was tripped whilst dribbling – definite penalty. Robin van Persie had what looked like the chance to keep us in the title race. It was a massive, massive penalty and when he sent Reina the wrong way and stuck it perfectly inside the post he ripped his shirt off and the ground went mental. It was a huge goal and one that surely, surely would win it.

There couldn’t have been long left to go, but we knew we were going to have to soak up a bit of Liverpool pressure. They did plough forward and we defended it but we didn’t just boot it away, instead we fucked about with it on the edge of our own box, gave it back to them and then conceded a very dangerous free kick. It was surely one of the last kicks of the game and it was too unbearable to watch for a lot of people. In the end the free kick wasn’t good but what followed was infuriating and hilarious. The ball dropped to Lucas but had no choice to run away from goal towards the left corner flag. Eboue was tracking him but for some reason far beyond my intelligence he ran into the back of him allowing him to go down for a penalty. He definitely dived and made the most of it but I probably would’ve given a penalty too, Eboue stupidly just went into the back of him.

I mean if he’d let him run and given it a few seconds I reckon that could’ve been it, as Lucas got the ball, referee Andre Marriner was probably thinking about blowing up. He saw the foul though and had no choice but to give the penalty. It was a chance for the returning Szczesny to make himself a hero but Kuyt scored and the final whistle blew immediately.

I have no qualms about the 11 minutes of added on time. It all makes perfect sense, there was a minimum of 8 minutes and then there was the foul for our penalty, the time it took to take it, the minute or two of celebrations, the minute before they took their free kick and other things it was perfectly acceptable to still be playing past the 100 minute mark in my opinion. He could’ve blown the whistle after the free kick but there was probably about four or five seconds between that being taken and Eboue’s foul.

We’ve had some terrible, terrible luck this season but I feel like a lot of bad days could’ve been avoided if we had just been more cautious. We’re very accident prone and it has ruined our season. I’m upset because I don’t know if this group of players will ever get a better chance to win the league with Chelsea being as shit as I’ve seen them since before Mourinho and Man United having terrible away form. Also I don’t know how long this group will be together also, it’s possible for quite a few players to leave this summer, some for better some for worse but what really worries me is if both Nasri and Cesc leave. We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it though.

It’s disappointing times yet again but we must pick ourselves up. Another loss and it really is over. Our next game is Tottenham away and how much they would like to inflict the result which ends our title hopes. We can’t let that happen, and after what happened in the home game against them this season I’m expecting the players to finally show some fight. If we can show it in just this one game then I’ll be slightly relieved.

We might have to win every game until the end of the season and three points at White Hart Lane is a good place to start. Szczesny believes we’ve got what it takes, I just hope the rest of the team does. This North London Derby is huge and I’d be lying if I’m not a little nervous.

See you tomorrow for the usual build up. Until then.

Liverpool Preview, Spurs 50th Anniversary & RIP Fitszman 17 April, 2011

Posted by lasagnechef in Arsenal News.
10 comments

Sorry for the lack of posts this week, I’m going through an extremely busy period work-wise at the moment and I got a bit carried away with that. Also this is going to have to be as quick a match preview as possible because late last night I got offered a ticket for today and my train is leaving Bournemouth in an hour.

So what’s the news? Szczesny, Djourou and Song are back which is a big boost for the defence. We had more good news in that department this week as Vermaelen has returned to full training. He won’t be involved today because he hasn’t played in months but Wenger has changed his stance on the Belgian and says he could still play a part this season. Sagna, Ramsey and Rosicky are likely to miss out today with niggles, hopefully they’re back soon especially Sagna.

So with that, I see us looking like this and it looks like quite a decent side again:

Szczesny
Eboue – Djourou – Koscielny – Clichy
Song – Wilshere
Fabregas (c)
Walcott – van Persie – Nasri

For once we’ve actually got options so you could see any of Arshavin, Diaby, Bendtner, Chamakh or Squillaci starting or being decent options from the bench. Apart from the injury that will keep Sagna out for the second successive game it’s been a pretty good week for injury news and I’m confident going into this afternoon’s game now.

It’s a huge match today, Liverpool always is but we’re very much at the business end of the season now and points are more than vital for both teams. It should be an interesting one, our recent form hasn’t been great but hopefully the win at Blackpool wil inspire a bit of confidence today. As United played in the FA Cup yesterday, today’s game will take us level on games played. A win would take us a very tasty four points off the top but a loss would leave us a very bleak seven points behind. With so few games left a result like that could mean the end. After Chelsea’s win yesterday they’re now just a point behind us too (also played one more) so we need to win to keep them off our backs also.

I do think we can win today and before I go I might bet online on a 2-0 Arsenal win. If we can keep a clean sheet with that stronger looking defence then I think we’ll do it, plus the attacking threat of Walcott, Nasri, van Persie, Arshavin and Fabregas should be dangerous enough to score goals. It really could go any way but I’ve got a good feeling about today.

In other news well today is the 17th April 2011 and do you know what that means? It’s 50 years ago today that Tottenham last won the league. A lot has happened in 50 years, for example we’ve won the league title six times and have challenged for it for the most part of that. Today might be a nice anniversary for Spurs fans but it’s even bigger reminded for us of our dominance. ’61, Never Again. I haven’t got enough time to go into this too much but I kind of feel that they don’t deserve the time anyway, just a short reminder that yet another decade has past since they won the league and we’ll carry on with our business trying to win for ourselves it yet again. Here’s to another 50 years! Hey you never know, Nike might bring our a commemorative shirt for it.

And on a more serious not this week saw the sad and untimely death of board member and Arsenal visionary Danny Fitszman. The man did so much for the club that he will unquestionably be remembered forever. In fact I wouldn’t be making the pilgrimage to The Emirates Stadium today if it weren’t for Danny and that legacy will live on for decades to come. I wish I had more time to pay my respects to him but I’ll try get over to the newly re-named Danny Fitszman bridge later today. It’s a shame that the unveiling ceremony came just too late for Danny to be there or see the plaque but plans have been in place for this for some time so he will have known that his name will be proudly imprinted on the bridge to Ashburton Grove and be seen by hundreds of thousands of fans young and old. Thank you for all you’ve done Danny, rest in peace.

Right I better get myself off to the station now. Lets get them three points today lads, lets do it for Danny, lets do it for the 50th anniversary, lets do it for the league title; I have a feeling today will be another test of how much we really want this.

COME ON YOU GUNNERS.

Arsenal in Usmanov’s hands, why United must win tonight & competition winner 12 April, 2011

Posted by lasagnechef in Arsenal News.
5 comments

The future of Arsenal Football Club still hangs in the balance today. We’re still waiting on Usmanov’s next move and it’s slightly ironic that it’s his action now that will have the biggest impact on the club’s future. Kroenke has been forced to make an offer for all remaining shares, Usmanov could sell up and walk away with a profit or choose not to sell and most probably not ever move off that 27% mark. If he sells, Arsenal belongs to Kroenke, if he doesn’t then not a great deal has changed apart from the small matter of a few hundred of million pounds.

I was shocked last night to log onto Twitter and see the strange and sudden warming to Usmanov that was going on. Somehow Kroenke was suddenly the bad guy and Jabba the Hutt was going to be the saviour. It was quite bizarre, I don’t get how he can be genuinely getting positive spin off this. I saw some rubbish about him planning to give shares back to fans or something but I feel like I’m being a bit gullible to believe that.

There was an Arsenal Supporters’ Trust meeting last night and there they agreed that they will not be selling up to Kroenke and instead campaigning for supporter ownership. Now for that to happen we basically need Usmanov to not sell because then it would all be over. So I think this is where he has become the good guy, people need him to keep his 27% to stop a complete takeover. But then at the same time you’ve also got Kroenke saying that he doesn’t plan to take Arsenal off the stock market and he believes in the importance of small shareholder fans. There just seems to me to be too much going on, too many conflicting ideas and too many promises set up to be broken.

I can’t decide what is best for us. Kroenke sounds like a reasonable guy and if anyone has to take us over then I guess I’d want it to be him but then I think that for Arsenal to be owned by a single owner doesn’t seem right. I feel like we’re far too important for that and once in control he has far too much power over something so precious. At the end of the day there’s not much I can do about the whole situation and in times like this in life I tend to just sit back and just let what happens happen. I don’t know what you think about that but it’s just my way of thinking, there’s no point in getting upset about something you can’t control I think. I guess I could start up or join in a campaign for or against Kroenke but I can’t decide what I want right now so I’m just going to sit on the fence and watch the world go by and wait on Red & White’s next move.

There is evidence to support the theory that Usmanov won’t sell up. Upon hearing of Kroenke’s offer for Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith’s 16% the Uzbekistani offered an improved price for the stake. Stan offered £11,750 a share whereas the improved offer was £13,000 a share adding up to just under £130m for her stake. It’s a considerable offer but Lady Nina said she did not want to go back on her agreement with Stan and will be selling to him. So it does look as if Usmanov isn’t giving up just yet. We’ll see what happens in the coming days, weeks or months but at the moment no one knows what’s going to happen.

Lets move on to matters on the pitch, after all that’s what matters most in the long run; Jack Wilshere reckons Man United’s involvement in Europe will eventually effect their Premier League form. He says that we have the advantage by having a week’s rest between games. This is true, however United could be out of Europe tonight if Chelsea play well at Old Trafford. It’s the second leg of their quarter final tonight, Man Utd are 1-0 up going into that but it’s not unthinkable that Chelsea can turn that around. If they do then the league leaders will be in the same position as us with a week’s rest between games and this weekend they’re playing in the FA Cup anyway so fatigue from tonight will have no effect on their league form. Plus, next week we have a midweek game against Spurs so we will be the ones without a full week’s recovery.

That’s why I’ve been hoping United progress in Europe, the only way it’s going to effect the Premier League is if they get into the semi finals. And which game falls between the two semi final legs? The one against us. So that will be an advantage knowing we’ll be more prepared for the game plus it could effect their other matches – they might be tempted to rest players against Everton the weekend before the first leg and they play Chelsea the weekend after the second leg so that might have a knock on effect there too. You’ve got to take what you can get in the season run in, that’s why I’m cheering on United tonight in the hope that Europe and the league gets too much to handle.

There’s also this story about an argument between van Persie and Diaby at half time in Blackpool this weekend. I’ve never got this term ‘blast’. “So and so BLASTS another guy!” Don’t really get it, sounds a bit stupid I think. All I can imagine is van Persie with a Super Soaker in the dressing room at half time with a very wet Diaby. Anyway yeah apparently Robin was reminding Diaby about his costly red card at St. James’ Park and having a go at him for picking up a silly yellow just before half time on Sunday. If true, then I guess it’s good to see that the players are passionate about these games and know the importance of them. Diaby said he would learn from his sending off against Newcastle, it changed the game resulting in disastrous circumstances so you can understand RVP’s frustration. But then again, it could all be made up bollocks.

Okay regular readers will know I’ve been running a competition this week to win a retro shirt from Toffs. The competition ended at midnight last night and the answer to the question: What year is the earliest Arsenal shirt from that Toffs currently offer on their online store? was A. 1913 not B. 1927 as many people put, you need to look closer I’m afraid! There were quite a few people who got it right though and I’m going to now open a new tab and select a winner at random… LIVE. Oh how exciting.

And the winner is… James Warrener. Well done James, I will be in touch about choosing your shirt and getting that to you as soon as possible. Thanks to everyone for entering, I’ll try and get another competition up and running soon. I’ll also see if I can get a discount code for you guys on the Toffs store, until then though all the shirts are still available to buy if you really had your heart set on winning one you can check them out by clicking on the banner below.

That’s it for today then. It’s going to be weird cheering on Man United tonight but at the end of the day I fucking hate John Terry. So it’s acceptable.

Thanks for reading, speak to you soon.



Kroenke thoughts + Blackpool 1-3 Arsenal – 10/04/11 – (Premier League) 11 April, 2011

Posted by lasagnechef in Arsenal News.
2 comments

So yesterday was a pretty eventful day for Arsenal, we beat Blackpool 3-1 ending our run of draws which is pretty good but that was quickly forgotten as Stan Kroenke looks like launching a takeover of the club. The three points at Bloomfield road were vital in the short term but yesterday saw the biggest announcement financially involving Arsenal in a long time and it is set to change the future of the club. So I guess it deserves a bit of a mention…

Yesterday it was announced that the American would be buying out Danny Fiszman’s and Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith’s shares which bumps Kroenke up from just under 30% to nearly 63% of shares. He will now make an offer for the remaining 37% but those shareholders are currently under no obligation to sell. The majority of that 37% is held by Alisher Usmanov’s Red & White Holdings who currently own 27% which is just enough to stop Kroenke reaching the magic 75% mark which would mean he could force any remaining shareholders to sell.

The ball now lies in Usmanov’s court, although Kroenke is stood waiting, racket in hand, in a much bigger court. Red & White have no obligation to sell but they could cash in now and have made a profit on their investment or they could keep the shares but have no real say in the club or anything like that. I can’t guess what they’re going to do but it does look now that sooner or later Arsenal will become yet another club to be owned solely by an investor. I’m no financial expert whatsoever and I’ve never really had much to say on this whole business in the last couple of years. Partly because I don’t understand the stock market well enough and secondly because it’s out of our hands really, whatever happens will happen and we’ll just have to accept it.

I’m perfectly happy with the club being run as it has been for years, with the club jointly owned by numerous shareholders. I’ve never really properly thought about what it would be like under a single owner but it does seem that if it is going to happen then Stan Kroenke is probably the best man for the job. He wants to keep the current board, he will make no personnel changes there although they would no longer be shareholders of the club – just employees, he has also promised not to put further debt to the club’s name by using loans to complete the buyout and the man has plenty of experience in owning sports clubs. He currently owns a club in just about every top sport in America including our US football partners the Colorado Rapids. He will also bring valuable input into our commercial sector which will be used to grow the worldwide brand of Arsenal to generate revenue, that will mean pre-season tours in places like Asia and America rather than our usual low-key Austrian training camp. I know already we had plans to tour Japan and surrounding countries this summer but I think that might be falling through after the recent disaster there. This isn’t a Chelsea or Man City style takeover though, we might see some cash investment in terms of transfers but don’t expect him to be our Abramovich or anything like that. I think Kroenke will be a lot more sensible and will be looking at the long-term future of the club rather than short-term investment.

It’s all very early days but it does look very much like the beginning of a takeover. The next step now is to see how Usmanov reacts to this, he could sell up to Kroenke and be on his way, he could stay put and decide not to sell or he could launch a counter bid. Now as accepting as I am with all this news, a takeover attempt from Usmanov would not be anywhere near as welcome and would cause up quite a stir. I’m not sure if he’s actually eligible to buy Fiszman’s shares as part of the lockdown agreement anyway though but I’m not exactly sure how all of this works as I mentioned.

Lets move on anyway and leave it at that. Those are the facts and that’s that for the moment. I don’t want to dig too far into it because not only is my knowledge going to get badly shown up but we have a game to discuss!

So three points then yesterday and we’re back on track. There were no slip-ups from United or Chelsea so our position in the table is unchanged but we kept up the pace which was important. We’re still seven points off the leaders with that game in hand. Dropped points yesterday would’ve been a disaster but we’re still there going into two massive games against Liverpool and Tottenham.

You could say we were a little bit lucky yesterday but I feel like we’ve deserved a bit of luck recently. We did well to get an early two goal lead but when we inevitably let the home side back in it we were on the ropes for a while and did well not to concede. I guess if you’re a Blackpool fan you’d be livid at the chances missed yesterday or the lack of penalties given but for once luck was on our side.

We never should’ve got into that situation though. Blackpool started the better side but we went 1-0 up in the 17th minute and doubled the lead three minutes later. Diaby almost lost the ball just outside our box but managed to win it back and the ball found its way out to van Persie on the left who took it into the box and put a great ball across to Diaby who had carried on his run and tapped it in for 1-0. In the 20th minute a great pass and move on the right and drive into the box from Eboue put him in a shooting position and what a clinical shot it was with the left foot to make to 2-0. Two unlikely goal scorers but two great goals and we had a (fairly) comfortable two nil lead. We really should’ve gone in at half time about 4-0 up though, we dominated for the most part and thanks to some good goalkeeping, a bit of luck and us not getting a shot away when we should’ve done, Blackpool kept it at 2-0 until half time. Nasri will be disappointed not to have scored yesterday and Robin will fell like he could’ve had more too.

After missing all those chances to put the game to bed it was inevitable that Blackpool would find a way back into it. They ended the first half well and carried that on into the second. Five minutes into the half they got one back, Taylor-Fletcher the scorer after the referee played two advantages in the build up, one of which was Lehmann bringing down DJ Campbell in the area before the ball was put in the net. With no ‘keeper on the bench Less Mason could’ve easily sent the German off and left us in a bit of trouble but thankfully he allowed play on and didn’t go back to book Jens. Almunia was apparently injured in the warm up handing Jens a shock 200th appearance for Arsenal, which meant there was no goalie on the bench and afterwards Robin van Persie said he would’ve been putting on the gloves if Lehmann was sent off. As exciting as that would’ve been I’m glad it didn’t materialise!

As to be expected, an extended period of Blackpool pressure followed that goal and on another day we might’ve gone back to 2-2. Had that been the case and we ended up drawing I think we might’ve been waving goodbye to the title so I’m glad we held out. Wenger brought on Walcott after an hour in an attempt to keep the home side back or catch them on the break and it was the latter that worked in the 75th minute. Squillaci made a good tackle at the back and gave it to Diaby who showed good strength to keep the ball and turn up the pitch clipping it to Fabregas, he touched it first time on to Theo who was away down the wing and in a matter of seconds we had turned danger into attack. Walcott was in loads of space running freely towards goal, RVP kept up the pace and Theo was able to pick him out with a good ball and Robin made it 3-1. Game over.

There was still time for one last shock, Gael Clichy got caught in possession on the edge of the box but Lehmann did well to come out and get a good block on the shot showing that he’s still got what it takes after an otherwise fairly quiet game.

So next Sunday we face Liverpool at home and what a game that is set to be. I have to say I fancy us and hopefully we could have some players returning from injury next week. If we’re lucky we could have all of Szczesny, Djourou, Sagna and Song back making us a lot stronger in defence – or certainly less for us to worry about! Plenty of build up to that to come plus undoubtedly more news on the takeover situation. We haven’t got a game in 6 days but it’s set to be a busy week. Come back tomorrow where I will be announcing the winner of the Toffs competition, you have until midnight tonight to enter that one so make sure you get your emails in if you haven’t already.

Thanks for reading, speak to you tomorrow.

COMPETITION: Win a Toffs retro Arsenal shirt 8 April, 2011

Posted by lasagnechef in Arsenal News.
4 comments



Hello to everyone on this fine, fine Friday afternoon. What a glorious day, I’ve missed this sun I really have. Sorry for those of you stuck at work, the weekend is set to be a belter too. I’m here to try and make your weekend even better by giving you the chance of winning a Toffs retro Arsenal shirt of your choice. All you have to do is answer this simple question:

    Q: What year is the earliest Arsenal shirt from that Toffs currently offer on their online store? 

    Is it: A. 1913, B. 1927 or C. 1950

If you know the answer email your entries to: competition [at] the-cannon.com replacing the [at] for an @ sign.

If you don’t know the answer well click the banner at the top and you never know, the answer just might be there. I’m not saying cheat, just look for reassurance I guess. The prize is a Toffs retro Arsenal shirt of your choice so you can have any one of those beauties, I’ve got a few myself actually and you can’t go wrong – they never go out of date because they’re already out of date! If that makes any sense.

Good luck everyone, I’ll close the competition on Monday at midnight (GMT) so get your entries in. In the last competition I ran I didn’t get loads of entries to be honest with you so give it a go you never know you might win. Please enter just the once though. The winner will be announced on Tuesday.

A quick round up of the news and we’ve got some fresh injuries surprise surprise. Song is out and Sagna and Walcott are big doubts for Blackpool. Cesc Fabregas is fit to start but it’s a shame we’ve picked up more niggles.

I’ll fully look at the news tomorrow and build up to an important game in Blackpool. Speak to you then, make sure you get those entries in.

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