Tuesday, 2 September 2008

A gamble too far....

Well the transfer window closed last night at midnight, there were many shocks going on throughout the day, this was also fuelled by the sensationalism provided by SkySports News but hey it added to the fun...

So I went to bed shortly before midnight feeling like a young boy at xmas, any Arsenal transfer wouldn't have been announced/leaked until the early hours of the morning so I thought the sooner I get to sleep the sooner I can wake up and see who we have signed... pretty pathetic huh!
When I awoke I was devastated to find out we hadn't signed anyone, for some reason we did not buy a bloody centre midfielder!!! why, why, why?

This time last year we had Flamini, Gilberto, and Diarra all fighting for that spot alongside Cesc, now they have all left and we haven't brought in a single replacement. Last season no one really expected Flamini would be the man for the job, he surprised us, he was dynamic in the middle of the park covering more ground than anyone else in the league. He was a revelation!

So why couldn't that happen again? Maybe one of Diaby/Song/Denilson will be a new revelation. A saviour. Well the problem is that if Flamini wasn't we knew that Gilberto or Diarra could step in and do the job... we don't know whether or not one of our current three contenders will be able to do that... it is a big big gamble. Lets take a look at the players...


The young Brazilian has featured in every single match since the start of preseason, this would suggest that he is currently the number 1 candidate for the job. Denilson has quick feet, he has a good pass on him, and he has a fair degree of tactical knowledge. He has captained the Brazil youth teams and is hotly tipped to become a regular for Brazil in the future. There is no doubting the fact that he is a good prospect, he definitely is, I still have a little concern about him being the answer though. He is not exactly what you would call an enforcer, he never challenges for balls in the air, and he isn't particularly physically strong. Will he be up for it come the winter months when we have some unfavourable midweek away games?
And where did he disappear to last season... I think he only featured in something like 5 games last season, he went missing for about 3 months without mention... where was he? Can he endure the full campaign... with only 5 central midfield players in the squad he is going to have to!
I am not overly convinced that he is a truely defensive midfielder. Yes he can position himself well, and can put in a good challenge, but I would see him more interlinking with Cesc, with Cesc sometimes dropping deeper, rather than Denilson being a truely holding midfield player. At the moment he has been given the greatest opportunity for the position. Diaby has been injured though and Song had been at the Olympics so he has it all to prove now.


Abou Diaby exploded on the scene at Arsenal. When signed in the summer of 2006 Diaby made an instant impact in the middle of the park, not afraid to make a challenge, was offensively powerful in and around the box, and was looking like a true candidate to become the new Vieira. A broken ankle however put a hold on his career at the end of 2006, and many have said he hasn't looked the same since. He doesn't go in as strong on the challenge now, he doesn't look as confident when in a physical challenge, and he has also looked to lazy and relaxed at times. Despite this blip he did run the midfield during the 2007 Carling Cup Final against a star studded Chelsea which was a great performance until he had to come off, however that is one of the last few games I can remember him playing centre midfield, that and against Man City in the same season.
What is alarming about both of those performances is that he was subbed off injured both times. The guy is as fragile as Rosicky and Van Persie... that doesn't bode well from a central midfield player, especially in the Premiership. Some people consider Diaby as the best candidate to partner Cesc, he is tall, physically stronger than Denilson and if he were to become a box to box player those long legs could really come in handy in both defensive and offensive situations.
Whilst Diaby cannot help his injury record there is one thing he can, and need to improve, his attitude. He need to see more desire, the fire he had when he first arrived. We want to see him chasing back, putting in tackles, whilst also being powerful in moving play forward. If Diaby could do all of the before mentioned then he could become a great central midfield player, unfortunately his injury record is a grey cloud over his potential at the moment.


One Song, we've only got.... So Alex Song. He had somewhat of a productive season last year, not specifically at Arsenal but at AFCON where he starred for Cameroon. He won young player of the tournament where he started off in the Centre Back position but was then moved into the Centre of Midfield. This I would say is very good, he is capable of playing at CB, as we saw in an Arsenal shirt last season, but he is also intelligent enough, and capable on the ball to play in midfield. He may not be stupidly tall, but he has one hell of a frame, in fact I would say his physique is perfect for a holding midfield player. He is tough, rugged, and athletic and is more than willing to get his hands dirty.
Ever since his loan spell at Charlton Song has really stood out, mainly when played in CM, but he has also looked good at CB, the only problem is how often has he played in CM for Arsenal, I mean there has been plenty of chances for him to be player there, even in friendlies, but I honestly can't remember the last time he was played in CM in a competitive match, I'm guessing it was the Carling Cup because his only performance for Arsenal in that position was away to Fulham where he practically got booed off the pitch his performance had been so poor.
Wenger stuck with him whilst many of us scratched our heads, but now, as ever so often Arsene was right, Alex Song is a potentially great player after all. Once we signed Diarra last season many of us Gooners questioned whether this guy had a future with Arsenal, much like we had been thinking of Flamini a few months before... Alex Song is my personal favourite for the position. I like that he has been building a reputation on the International scene at AFCON, as well as the Olympics, and I also like his physique, he isn't going to take any shit. I think that he would fit the role of a holding midfield player the best amongst our candidates, I also feel he would be the best for offensive and defensive set pieces. Whilst he is the best defensively he can still pick out a pass and he isn't slow either... Alex Song to partner Cesc for me.

Now Wenger has made his decision and didn't end up buying anybody. Even if I would have liked a signing like Alonso or Kompany to partner Cesc (which I am pissed off didn't happen) we have still signed some great players like Nasri, and also brought in some experience with Silvestre, we don't need to enter a high state of alert just yet, lets give it time. We need to get behind the Young Guns if we want to stand any chance of winning anything this season. Hopefully it will not be a gamble too far but you do have t wonder given that you could probably count the number of times Diaby, Denilson, and Song have played in CM with your hands and feet in the last 2 seasons. I am anticipating some action in the January transfer window because our squad does look so small now, Wenger does generally know, lets hope he has something to really be smug about come the end of the season, this has to be the youngest squad in Premiership history!

Sunday, 31 August 2008

Back in the Groove at the Grove, Champions League, Transfer deadline

So this week saw the visit of two ex-England managers to The New Home of Football, and we all know there was only going to be one winner, Wenger. McCalren's FC Twente lacked an ounce of ambition, whilst Keegan's Toon side were dismantled by an Arsenal team in full flow.

The 4-0 win against Twente on Wednesday was just the result we needed, a convincing victory and a chance for some of our players to gain their confidence back. Walcott put in an excellent performance, Bendtner showed that no matter how he plays he is always a threat, and of course it was great to see Cesc back in the side. Van Persie had a match to forget missing an open goal, and he looked very close to losing his temper on a number of occasions. He is always a worry for picking up reckless and pointless cards, his nasty side is worse than Bergkamps in my opinion, wouldn't be surprised to see him get sent off this season.

The tie was effectively over after our first goal, so I was already planning potential away trips in my head... of course bottom of that list was Fenerbache... no one wants to travel there, but sure enough we drew them, add that to another hostile away trip to the Ukraine, and a trip to Porto and it looks like we could have some hard away games in the Champions League. That being said some strong home form should be sufficient for us to qualify from the group stages, however Liverpool look like they have got the toughest draw, PSV, Marseille, and Athletico Madrid could result in another tense qualifying campaign for Rafa whose side only just scraped through the knockout stage courtesy of a goal from the Dutch Kevin Davies.

Saturdays match against Newcastle looked like it could be a tough one given the fact they had forced a draw at Old Trafford and had looked impressive in their following league and league cup matches. Keegans visits to the Emirates have not been too good so far and Saturdays game followed that pattern.

Van Persie was back to his majestic best grabbing a brace, whilst Denilson also got on the scoresheet for his first league goal. Cesc wasn't quite back to his best but it was promising to see him back in the side. We played a high defensive line which basically ruled out Michael Owen as any balls over the top would always fancy the pace of our defence over the nowadays slow pace of Owen. Ameobi may as well have not been there, but Nzogbia did look good, he's a player I wouldn't mind seeing in an Arsenal shirt.

The disgrace that is Joey Barton was subbed on with barely 2 minutes left but still managed to make the headlines. He put in an overly aggresive challenged, followed by a sarcastic grin on Samir Nasri, it was no surprise a minute later when Barton was tripped off the ball for the whole of the Emirates to cheer... have that you cunt! Was good to see that Clichy supported Nasri in his action as well, face it Barton, Keegan is the only person who wants you in the game, you are a criminal who should not be in a position to act as a role model, get back in prison.

Sunday brought 2 good results for us with Chelsea and Liverpool both drawing. Only 3 games in and no team has a 100% record and we are only 1 point off the lead so things aren't looking so bad after all... Points will be dropped by everyone this year but we really need to make the most of our favourable early fixtures and get as many points under the belt as possible, Blackburn and Bolton away could be tough but I have the faith in us to come away with 6 points if we have a fully fit squad.

And today is the transfer deadline... 6 hours and 10 minutes left and we still don't look likely to sign anyone.. that means I will wake up tomorrow to see that we have signed not 1 but 2 players. Who, I don't know... Appiah is a possibility on a free transfer and is highly experienced, other than that I have absolutely no idea!... To be honest though I will be happy for the window to shut and for us to know who our squad is!... Man City are making all the headlines so far today, they have been taken over by someone worth more than Abramovich! and have tabled a £32 million bid for Berbatov... this could be hilarious!... It is slightly concerning news in the sense that Man City could pose a threat to the 3rd/4th place spots, and we have not been in the top 2 for the last 4 years... hmmm, not another club with a ridiculous cheque book? It does look concerning for the future of football, we want self sustaining clubs please!