Arsene and Wilshere talk + Arsecast 203 (round table)

Morning all,

some interesting quotes from Arsene have emerged from a radio interview he did in France. They’ve been carried via the Twitter account of the President of the Arsenal supporters club France. And if yesterday’s performance by Mr Blatter has taught us anything it’s that Presidents are men of honour and quiet dignity who are to be trusted implicitly.

I don’t want to throw the two gentlemen into the same category by any means but there’s some interesting stuff in there. He talks about Nasri:

With Nasri there’s a little disagreement on the financial terms of his new contract. What is certain is we won’t sell Nasri to Man Utd.

Which tallies with what I’ve heard about the problem. Some suggest it’s because he’s looking for a role in the team that he can only have if another player leaves but what it’s coming down to, as I told you the other day, is money. I’ll leave it up to you to decide if he’s worth what he’s looking for (alleged parity with the very top earners at the club) on the back of one admittedly good spell at the start of this season.

Then he talks about Cesc:

This year, there’s no interest for Cesc. So I want to keep him because he’s the best midfielder in the world and he’s our captain.

There might well be a key word missing there when he talks about no interest, and that’s ‘yet’. The Mirror runs a story this morning saying Barcelona are ready to bid £30m which is all well and good but when £30m won’t buy you a fully grown Andy Carroll they’d want to seriously increase what’s on offer for Arsenal to consider it. And I think they will do that, whether that ends up being acceptable to the club remains to be seen.

As for the rest he says he’ll be trying to buy defenders from the Premier League to help make our defence better able to cope with the Premier League (Cahill? Samba? John O’Shea?), he won’t be going on holidays because he’ll be going to South America to look at players (Copa America?) and that old reliable:

We’ll invest in players who can bring something more to the team, and that won’t be easy.

Which I think it something many fans would disagree with. There are literally hundreds of amputee, club-footed, earless, raised by wolves in a cave in the woods who use growling as a form of communication, footballers out there who have a better scoring record than Rosicky, for example. In seriousness though, I understand he holds his players in high esteem but perhaps that esteem is too high in certain cases and every now and again he needs to take a bit of a risk with a signing. If he will gamble on the potential of the youngsters he’s brought through why not on a player he has to pay actual money for?

And while I accept there’s a lot of work to do this summer I do worry that the manager isn’t going to take any kind of break. I don’t mean he should laze around not bothering to do important stuff but all of us need to recharge our batteries at some stage. He’s no different. Still, he’s a workaholic. Yes, I know, he’s addicted to workahol.

Meanwhile, from Spain, comes £8m in return for Denilson, according to the Mail. Sevilla said to be interested although I’ve heard another team that will be cash rich from a big transfer might also be in the chase. Either way if we get anything approaching that much for Denilson I’d be a very happy man.

Jack Wilshere is in all the papers this morning and the young man speaks well about our season, about what went wrong and about what we need to do for the upcoming campaign. I particularly like the bit about being more aggressive on the pitch (if not exactly the bit about the referees – I’m not sure copying United there is the right way to go). However, there was a time when you knew you couldn’t bully Arsenal, at the moment we have a bit of a reputation as a soft touch, the whole ‘they don’t like it up ‘em’ thing.

Of course nobody likes it up ‘em, in a football sense anyway, and while I will never advocate foul play or dangerous play of any kind, I do think that adding some more physicality and robustness to the team would help a great deal. Players like Wilshere get kicked and they get back up and straight into it again. That’s one way of dealing it and showing you won’t be bullied out of a game (something some of our players could do well to emulate), but having a bit more size and strength in the side, as well as that kind of character, would make a difference. Let’s see what the manager does to bring that about this summer.

Now then, as promised it’s time for the final Arsecast of the season and is tradition it’s a roundtable discussion with the esteemed bloggers from Goonerholic, Gunnerblog, East Lower and Goodplaya. Up for discussion, well, everything. The team’s collapse, the manager and whether or not he’s gone as far as he can, the character and mentality of the team, ticket prices, and the positives from the season. Running at nearly one hour it’s a great big lump of aural arse for you to get your ears around.

As well as that there’s an appearance by Mick Bendtner and the winners of the Pelé Sports competition from the last Arsecast – including those fantastic football boots.

You can subscribe to the Arsecast on iTunes by clicking here. Or if you want to subscribe directly to the feed URL you can do so too. To download this week’s Arsecast directly – click here (38mb MP3) or you can listen directly below without leaving this very page.

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And from there the ‘cast will take its summer break, unless something remarkable happens, and will return refreshed, tanned and with a haircut for the new season.

For today though, that’s yer lot. Have a good one.

Back-ups, minty breakfast and transfer guff

Good morning to you.

The reaction to yesterday’s post was quite conclusive. The vast majority of you think that yes, Arsenal players need to be electrocuted on the top of the penis. I shall prepare a proposal immediately and send it to the club. I expect they’ll ignore it but should we go through next season without a trophy then it won’t be anything to do with what we do in the transfer market this summer, it will be entirely because they have not opened their minds to new methods.

Also, if my computer were to have a penis I would electrocute it this morning. A great big dirty ‘no entry’ sign on start-up. I’ve zapped the P-Ram and all that but the main HD appears to be bollixed. I ran ‘disk utility’ and it basically laughed at me. ‘Haha, this disk can’t be repaired. Fix it and try again’.

I’ll fix it all right. Fix it right in the face. Stoopid thing. Anyway, I have a back-up but what if my back-up is also bollixed? To be perfectly safe, don’t you also need a back-up of your back-up? And then what if the back-up of your back-up is fucked? It’s a never ending story of worry and angst, let me tell you.

As you can gather by this interminable waffle there is little in the way of Arsenal news to be going on with. I expect all the players are away on their holidays, feet up, mojitos in hand, reading the latest John Grisham or doing word puzzles, soaking up the sun in far away resorts like Salou or Bridlington.

Some of them won’t be back, replaced by shiny new players of dubious quality and character about whom we can make up cutting nicknames which highlight their deficiencies. Some of them will, having spent the summer learning Chinese, and it will all begin again, same as it does every year. Until then, or at least until we get things moving on the transfer front, I reckon we’re in for a bit of a dry spell.

As with every year I hope we’ll get our business done nice and quickly. A quick cleaning of the decks, unwrap the new boys and away we go. It all makes perfect sense to me but then the myriad of difficulties regarding your average transfer are rarely taken into account. It’s not just a case of making a bid and flinging over a cheque.

This summer all the clubs in the world know that Arsenal need to go shopping. Our need gives them a stronger negotiating position. And our refusal to be held over a barrel, ever, means that we’d better have a long list of targets. If a club starts acting the goat, looking to extract more money from us simply because they think we’re desperate, then we’ll walk away and look elsewhere. Also, it’s worth bearing in mind that we might be going shopping with a great big wad of money on top of our existing transfer fund and you know clubs will chance their arm a bit.

Then add to that players own foibles and desires, agents looking for their share and a bit more and then a little bit more and a bonus simply for existing and then a percentage of everything because they’re an agent and agents are special, and Arsene’s refusal to countenance a deal that goes beyond his valuation (“We want £5m for this player!”, “No, I value him at £4,999,999.99p, and I will not pay a penny more”. “Ok then, fuck off”), means that it’s just not as easy as all that.

On the other hand, football’s finances are pretty much in the toilet. There are clubs who face bills they can’t pay, sustaining themselves with TV money just to keep their heads barely above water, so perhaps that’s an angle we can exploit. All’s fair in love, war and football transfers. Obviously I hope it all starts soon from a selfish blogging point of view but also because I just like it when we sign players. Mostly. One or two exceptions aside – most of them in recent seasons – a new player is like when you’re waiting for a package to arrive and it arrives and you’re all like ‘Yay, it’s arrived!’.

Don’t we all deserve to open our packages? Then we can compare packages just like in … erm … forget that. Anyway, the point is that we need more mojitos. I wonder could you liquidise bacon and eggs, throw in some mint and some Havana Club and invent the breakfast mojito? There must be a reason why it hasn’t be done.

Aside from all that nothing there’s nothing. Tonight will be the the final Arsecast recording session of this season. A round-table discussion in which we’ll discuss things like how terrible we are, how shit we are, how awful we are, how brutal we are, how many of our players need to be fed to velociraptors, and so forth. However, the guests are not all from thegloomblog.com or ilovearsenalsomuchihatethem.net, so hopefully there’ll be a healthy dose of perspective, wit, humour (gallows as it might be) and common sense to sustain us.

All participants are expected to begin drinking at 4pm this afternoon to ensure a healthy debate. Anyone found shirking their responsbilities in this matter will be dealt with by the man in the bar. And nobody needs that, let me tell you.

Right, time for breakfast here. Where’s my liquidiser?

Do Arsenal players need to be electrocuted on the top of the penis?

So Barcelona won the Champions League final quite easily.

I think it goes to prove that this year we’re much better than United seeing as we actually beat Barcelona. Forget their league title, the true measure of a team is how they fare against the best team in the world, and we beat them 2-1 and they had to pay UEFA to send off one of our men to beat us in the second leg.

I also thoroughly enjoyed Squividic’s performance at the back which also made our old friend Evra look quite shabby too. And Nani’s assist for the third Barcelona goal was sheer quality. Tell you something though, if I were a professional footballer I wouldn’t want to go play for Barcelona. I mean, where’s the challenge? Winning things with them would be just too easy. Every game would be like a general knowledge quiz where the opponent is Eboue, every time.

Anyway, maybe that’s just me. The football season is now well and truly over and we head into the summer with just the hugely important and massively significant European U21s to keep us going. If only one of Arsenal’s best players were selected for that, it would have made it really interesting.

From an Arsenal point of view things seem quiet. The Express churns out probably the laziest article I’ve seen yet this summer. Kroenke’s takeover has been ‘officially’ approved so he’s about to go on a ‘£50m spending spree’ which will start with ‘Christopher Samba’. Zzzzz. Come on, at least be a little bit creative. Everyone knows you can make up any old crap you like when it comes to transfers and if you’re suggesting a man who rarely goes on spending sprees is about to embark on one you could chuck in a better name than Samba.

No! Not Scott Parker. Someone better than that. Anyone. You don’t go on a spending spree for toilet paper and kitchen towels. You buy a Nespresso machine. Or something.

Meanwhile, Alex Song becomes the latest player to reveal that the team’s approach to games is as wrong as wrong can be, saying:

Sometimes we get on the pitch and we think ‘this game will be won easily’ that is something that we have to change. Because when you think you are going to win a game, and you don’t, it knocks the team.

Confidence is a good thing. Belief in one’s ability, also good. Having conviction in the team and your teammates, also an excellent thing, but, as we have addressed on this blog many a time, going out and thinking you just have to turn up to win a game is not. It’s been a problem for some seasons now and it doesn’t seem like it’s a problem that’s being addressed.

I am put in mind of the Tom Sharp book in which Luitenant Verkramp and Dr. von Blimenstein were concerned that South African police officers were having too much sex with black women. So, they decided to use what they called ‘aversion therapy’ to solve the problem. This worked by showing them pornographic pictures of black women and when they got an erection they were electrocuted on the top of their penis. This was supposed to ensure they would no longer desire the women. And it worked. A bit too well though, because it put them off all women and turned them gay, but at least they tried.

Arsenal need to do something similar with regards to this team’s approach to games against smaller clubs. I don’t necessarily mean electrocuting them on the top of the penis, although I don’t rule it out, but something has to change. Do we have a club psychologist? If so I think we might need a new one because, frankly, he’s doing a terrible job.

I may not have any kind of university qualification, I may not have studied and done exams and ‘learned’ but I can guarantee you a few minutes alone with a wet towel and the Arsenal squad and the approach to the smaller games would change. Maybe it’s a kind of in-built arrogance that they have which sees them ‘turn up’ for games like United and Barcelona and not for West Brom and Bolton but by the seven gods of Kajagoogoo they need it beaten out of them. Or have their helmets zapped. It all seems quite simple to me.

Patrick Vieira wants to stay at Man City. I can’t £magin€ why that would be the ca$e.

According to the Sunderland Sun we’re ‘keeping tabs’ on Craig Gordon. He seems injured a lot which would make him a very attractive option for us. Anyway, I’m not sure we need a keeper this summer. I’m all for making SZCZ the number 1 even if he does still have to do a bit of learning.

And that’s really about that for today. Time for more coffee, some breakfast and then I must tend to my *boilk*

Have a good one.

A certain tallness/smallness + CL final

Morning all,

it’s a very quiet one this morning, which is surprising. I mean in the sense that it’s taken this long for there to be a quiet one. A couple of pieces of transfer gossip to tide us over though.

Firstly, The Mail says we’ve made an £8m bid for Christopher Samba who said earlier this month:

Everybody knows that I am an ambitious player. I think a move to Arsenal was very close in January but that is life.

I remain quite unconvinced that Samba is the answer to our defensive deficiencies, to be honest. He certainly adds a tallness that we don’t have, Djourou apart, but beyond that is he really the right player? It seems to me that it became the easy thing to suggest that Arsenal needed a more physical, dare I say it ‘taller’ presence at the back, and who in the Premier League is more physical and taller than Samba?

He had a fantastic game against West Ham towards the end of the season but that is the very first time I’ve ever seen him and thought he was anything other than, you know, very tall indeed. Perhaps I’m wrong, it has been known, and maybe he’ll flourish and make a big step up if he joins Arsenal but he’s not the kind of signing that’s going to make me jump for joy. He’d only out-jump me anyway.

I’d be quite happy for us to add a touch of industrial to our aesthetic, and also to increase our physicality, but I just don’t have it in me to get excited about this one. We shall see, I guess. And don’t ask me who I want either. I don’t know and it’s not my job to want specific players – although I reserve the right to not want them!

Andrei Arshavin says he’ll be at Arsenal next season:

Don’t believe the rumours. Everything is good with Arsene Wenger. I’m not going to leave Arsenal.

I suspect what happens with Arshavin depends quite a bit on what happens with Cesc and Nasri. The former is certainly our most creative player and despite everything Arshavin’s stats, in terms of assists, are pretty good, so to lose those two outlets, and possibly the goals of Nasri, would be way too much.

The thing with Arshavin is that he has a contract until 2013, as far as I know, so the club have his future in their own hands. That’s not the case with Nasri and the Cesc situation is probably going to start getting complicated once Barcelona have the Champions League final out of the way. Already I’ve heard whispers of our supposed interest in one or two of the current Barcelona squad. Perhaps it’s genuine, perhaps they’re being touted as makeweights in any Cesc deal, but I expect things to get busier than Pique with a box of Kleenex in a room full of Cesc photos.

Anyway, whatever you think about the Russian it doesn’t seem likely that we’ll sell him as well as the other two. However, he is training with Zenit at the moment though and as much depends on what happens with others – like a footballing butterfly effect – I also wouldn’t bat an eyelid if he went home this summer. In fact, if it were announced tomorrow that our entire squad was up for sale, as part of Aldi’s Thursday’s specials, I don’t think that’d surprise me much either. I’m so confused. I blame Arsene Wenger.

And that’s really about that. There is the small matter of the Champions League final tonight. I have to say I still find it odd this game is on a Saturday but there you go. I know Barcelona have acted the twat this week at our training ground, and they have some of the cheatiest, divingest players of all time, and Mascherano looks like a throwback to Cro-Magnon man with his enormous teeth which can grind up bone and also fashion basic tools out of granite, and the history between our two clubs has been somewhat fraught in recent years (what with their pursuit of Cesc and their desire for revenge after we somehow convinced them to spend £13m on Hleb), but you know, Evra.

And Rooney. And Ferdinand. And Nani. And Suralex. And not forgetting Evra. Did I mention Evra? So, I’ll be out with the lads from my football team tonight, sitting in a bar somewhere in Dublin, no doubt surrounded by United fans (especially the ones from my football team), and hoping for a Barcelona win.

That’s the great thing about hating everyone but Arsenal. If you get drunk enough you can make hay out of the fact you hate one lot slightly less than another lot and use that to taunt others, before being a bit sick in your mouth and going outside so you don’t have to see the cunts you hate a bit less celebrating. Football really is great.

Hasta mañana, Evra haters.

More transfer guff, picture stealing + Wilshere and Ramsey

Morning all, happy Friday. First let’s get this Puyol/Pique, picture of Cesc thing out of the way.

Crude I know but it does the job. Plus I didn’t have time to ‘shop in Cristiano Ronaldo taking a romantic walk with Shakira. Some may put it down to high-jinks, a pair of footballers having a bit of a laugh, but given the way Arsenal have helped Barcelona this week, opening our training ground and facilities to them, it showed a distinct lack of respect. Which is a shame really but there you go. Not a big deal really, at the end of the day, and it didn’t tell us much we didn’t already know.

Speaking of Cesc, AC Milan say he’s too expensive for them. Well, thanks for letting us know. And apparently we’ve signed two new Cescs from Barcelona but as they’re both 16 and unlikely to feature in first team action any time soon I’ll leave it to the bloggers who specialise in that kind of thing. At the moment I’m not even slightly interested.

The rumour mill is really cranking up this morning with agent of Falcao saying we’re interested in the player:

England are crazy about Falcao. Among the leading candidates are Arsenal and Tottenham. They are willing to hit the €30 million clause. The figure is not an extraordinary value for them.

Erm, I think he might be mixing us up with someone else if he thinks €30m isn’t an extraordinary figure. Has Arsene Wenger even spent €30m more than he’s taken in over the course of his Arsenal career? The most we’ve ever paid for a player is debatable, the Jose Antonio Reyes deal remains our record signing and even then I don’t think we paid full whack due to certain payments being dependent on performance/achievement and the player himself not phoning up Real Madrid all the time.

True story: Did you know the Reyes family filled their house with orange trees and covered the floors in dust just so they’d feel more at home. Honestly, they’d put the central heating on full blast and lie around in their underpants. No really, honest. For dinner they would all sit around gnawing on a leg of jamón serrano.

If Arsene Wenger paid €30m for a player I think I’d build some kind of shelter because it would surely be a sign of the impending apocalypse. The only way he’d pay that much is if he’d already arranged a deal with someone else to sell him for €50m, like some kind of footballing commodities trader. I call agent shenanigans on this one.

The Mirror report we’re after Lille duo (are they actually a duo, like Peters and Lee or Simon and Simon?) Eden Hazard and Gervinho. The young winger is highly rated by everyone who makes lists of transfers we should make but I guess it remains to be seen whether he’s ready to make the step up to the Premier League. As for Gervinho, I know nothing other than he’s going to bugger off in January for the ACN, so I’d prefer we signed someone who, you know, isn’t going to bugger off to the ACN.

Away from spurious transfer stories, England U21 boss Stuart Pearce has questioned why Arsenal didn’t do more to ensure Jack Wilshere was fit and ready for a meaningless summer tournament, saying:

One thing’s for sure – Arsenal have not left him out of the side in the last six weeks of the season, even though the stats have said he’s in the red zone. Arsène didn’t want him to go full stop. What he does with Arsenal next season is irrelevant to me.

Well, firstly Jack is an Arsenal player, paid by the club to play, and we have every right to play him. Secondly, if we didn’t play Jack injuries would have meant a lot more Denilson, and that’s not something anybody should have to endure. And apologies to Denilson fans but on Twitter yesterday the man from East Lower summed him beautifully when imagining the Anfield 89 game as played by today’s lot:

And it’s Denilson, charging through the midfield. He’s stopped, turned, given it back to Song.

Classic. Anyway, back on point. Pearce says that Wenger didn’t want him to go, which is absolutely right, however, at no point did the manager tell Wilshere he couldn’t go. Pearce knows that so he’s being a bit shifty there. And the final sentence sums up why everyone who had Wilshere’s best interests at heart felt he shouldn’t go away with the U21s this summer:

What he does with Arsenal next season is irrelevant to me.

Essentially Pearce has no interest in the consequences of a young man playing a summer tournament after a long season. No interest in what it might mean for the club who pay the player’s wages or for the well-being of the player himself. At the end of the day it was Jack who made his own mind up and I’m glad he made the right decision. Pearce can moan and bitch all he likes but he’s made his position very clear and it doesn’t reflect well on him at all.

Aaron Ramsey talks to Sky Sports, and I have to say this quote made me a bit sad:

If I look back I think I’ve been pretty happy with what I’ve done this season. I got myself back to match fitness and now another game will be good for me. Next season I hope I can get a good pre-season and start off the same as everybody else.

A whole season of his career wiped out, basically, because of that lumbering, window licking, hyperdrooling, mouth-breathing, self-fingering, puppy-squashing cuntbarrow Shawcross. And the Stoke fans booed him. Imagine. Anyway, hopefully the goal against United will be the platform on which he can build for the season to come.

And that’s about that for today. As I told you yesterday the end of season Arsecast will be available early next week, so apologies for leaving a gap in your Friday. That said, you’ll have to get used to it because the ‘cast goes into aestivation (summer equivalent of hibernation, you know. Thanks for my pedantic arseur for putting me straight on that) unless something drastic happens. Like spending €30m on one player, haha!

I think it’s safe to the say the sleep will mostly likely be uninterrupted. Finally, thanks to everyone who bought a print yesterday from the store. Your support is much appreciated and they’ll be in the post today.

Till tomorrow.