Killer puppies, cup changes and Arsecast 304

Killer puppies, cup changes and Arsecast 304

Morning all. It can’t be just for me that the weeks are flying by ridiculously fast, can it? How the hell is it Friday already?

We don’t play until Sunday when we’ve got the chance for some FA Cup redemption against the ‘smashers, and already there’s talk of rotation in terms of the team. It’s a tricky one in some respects. The last two games would suggest that some changes need to be made. You can’t on one hand bemoan the performance of a particular player, and then gripe if the manager thinks about changing him.

I thought the team selection for United was probably the best XI we could have started with, based on everything we’ve seen this season so far. That the manager was so cautious about making changes as the game wore on is another thing entirely.

For Sunday, there’s talk of Fabianski and Jenkinson and Bendtner and Podolski and Gnabry and I understand the need to try something that might spark a bit of life back into the team. But that must be weighed up with our need to play our very best team possible. If Jenkinson is playing because Sagna is carrying a bit of a knock and we want to ensure he doesn’t break down, fine. But if Sagna is fully fit, I think he should play because he’s better.

With no midweek distractions for the Mugsmashers, they’re not going to do anything but play their best team, and we got served by their best team last weekend. We got served, and now it’s on. It’s very much on.

The complaints about Giroud are all well and good – and the bloke looks knackered – but do you play Podolski, unconvincing as a centre-forward every single time he’s played there? Or Bendtner, this season’s Eboue-style clownish, guilt-powered cult hero (and I say this as somebody who thinks he’s a decent player really)? Or Yaya Sanogo, fresh from Ligue 2 and a 5 month injury?

If those options don’t give you pause for thought, whichever one you choose, then you’re a better man than I am (or woman, equal opportunity blogging and all that. I’m not a good woman at all. Legs are way too hairy and I just can’t do heels).

On today’s Arsecast we discuss the need to inject something new into the team and the name of Serge Gnabry is one that cropped up. The young German is inexperienced but highly talented. He’s a round peg for the round hole, and without Walcott all our other pegs are a bit square.

But then you wonder is trying to fillet the team after a bad week an overreaction when they’ve done well consistently this season? We have got good results most weeks. This week feels particularly flat because of what happened at Anfield twinned with the fact we couldn’t beat a United side that are, essentially, like the school bully who is now confined to a wheelchair yet still able to fend you off with his walking stick.

Wojciech Szczesny has been trying to add some measure to the last few days, aware of the frustration felt by fans after two results which have left the team open to questioning. He says:

We are in a good position in the league, and we are still in the FA Cup and the Champions League, so I don’t know what kind of frustration we should have. The frustration should have been a year or two ago when we were struggling. We’re still there at the top of the table. We are going to push for the title. We are still confident.

It’s good to hear and it’s hard not to see his point. 12 months ago things felt a lot, lot worse. Mostly because they were. We’d gone out of the Capital One Cup to Bradford (no thanks to Gervinho, this season’s ‘perhaps we shouldn’t have sold him’ ex-girlfriend that’s looking good going out with another guy but still has all the annoying tics you’ve allowed yourself to forget); an FA Cup exit to Blackburn was just about to happen followed by a painful Bayern rogering at home; and in the Premier League Sp*rs were motoring towards a top four spot at our expense.

Arsenal’s reaction since then has been to win 25 league games, draw 7 and lose just 5. So we can’t ignore there’s been a response and a consistency to the way we’ve played and performed. Yet it’s hard to shake the ‘Once bitten’ feeling, and given the schedule, we could be sitting here next week out of the FA Cup and facing a trip to Munich which is nigh on pointless.

Of course that’s the absolute worst case scenario, but when you’re lying in the dark and you hear a noise you don’t think ‘Oh, that must be a cute puppy trying to inveigle it’s way into my life for super-awesome cuddles and slurps’. It’s a monster who drools acid saliva, has fearsome talons and a blood curdling screech which sounds like Sussudio which he lets rip to ensure you know that he wants to eat your heart. Slowly.

The good thing is that the way we look our situation, and the way the players do, is very different. We might worry and stress and over-analyse a scrappy 1-0 over relegation fodder; they think ‘Clean sheet, win, next game.’

After the draw in midweek they’ll feel like they’ll have put the Anfield Atrocity behind them and, I’m sure, will be out for some measure of revenge because it is embarrassing to get turned over like that by a team you’d previous beaten quite comfortably this season. Let’s hope so. Anyway, there’s plenty more to say about this game, and how we might approach it over the next couple of days.

Now though, time for this week’s Arsecast and I’m joined by Goonerholic and the Man from East Lower to discuss Liverpool, Man Utd, the fear of collapse, Lukas Podolski, Olivier Giroud and if there’s room for Serge Gnabry. Andrei Arshavin reads some mean Tweets and there’s the usual waffle.

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 (this is a much better way to do it as you don’t experience the delays from iTunes). To download this week’s Arsecast directly – click here 29mb MP3).

The Arsecast is also available on our SoundCloud channel, where you can leave comments and such, as well as via the SoundCloud app for iPhone and Android. You can now also find it on the Stitcher podcasting app for iOS and Android. Or, you can listen without leaving this page by using the player below.

And that, my friends, is about that for this morning. Have yourselves a splendid Friday, more here from me tomorrow.

Arsecast Extra – Episode 3

Arsecast Extra – Episode 3

Here’s this week’s Arsecast Extra: I’m joined as always by James from @Gunnerblog. On this week’s show reaction to and discussion of the 5-1 defeat to Liverpool. Plus readers questions about Mesut Ozil, injuries, starting slowly and zombies. Also contains disturbing giant spider imagery

Remember, you can send us questions via which we’ll try and get to each week. Send them to either @arseblog or @Gunnerblog (or both) using the hashtag #arsecastextra. Best to send them Monday morning so they get noticed more easily.

You can subscribe to the Arsecast Extra on iTunes by clicking here. Or if you want to subscribe directly to the feed URL you can do so too (this is a much better way to do it as you don’t experience the delays from iTunes). To download this week’s Arsecast Extra directly – click here 25mb MP3).

The Arsecast Extra is also available on our SoundCloud channel, where you can leave comments and such, as well as via the SoundCloud app for iPhone and Android. You can also find it on the Stitcher podcasting app for iOS and Android. Or, you can listen without leaving this page by using the player below.

Arteta’s fit, Sky are daft + Arsecast 303

Arteta’s fit, Sky are daft + Arsecast 303

How is it possible to have a dream so awesome between the 9 minute snoozes that you wake up feeling mournful because you wanted it to go on for ages but instead the stupid phone went off again and then you have to get up and its cold and not at all awesome like the dream?

The sooner somebody invents a Sky+ kinda thing for dreams the better. ‘Oh, gotta get up. Never mind, I’ll come back to this later!’ Come on all you young scientists, make it happen.

As we play early tomorrow the manager’s press conference took place yesterday and there’s not much in the way of team news. Mikel Arteta is fit, which is hugely important, while Jack Wilshere ‘might’ be available. I suspect he’ll probably make the trip but may start on the bench. There’s no word about Thomas Vermaelen who failed to make the squad for Palace, so I’m assuming he’s out. Our lightness at centre-half worries me, it really does.

I didn’t realise that we’d been the only team to stop Suarez and Sturridge scoring in a game they’d started together this season, and we dealt with them very well at the Emirates. The manager says the best way to stop them is to keep the ball away from them and:

To dominate the game and leave them as few balls as possible. That will be one of our targets of course. At Liverpool the task might be a bit more difficult but the philosophy on our side has to be the same – to master the ball and to have the ball and to dominate the game.

He also spoke about the upcoming DEATHRUN1, saying:

Mentally we are prepared and we have shown a great response throughout the season when we had difficulties. Physically we are prepared as well. It depends how many injuries we have because we need to rotate and it’s important that we have as many players available as we can. Big injuries can of course question the end of the season.

Let’s keep our fingers crossed that we’re not scuppered by tears, ruptures, sprains, strains, pulls, tweaks, niggles, breaks, twists or anything else. If we can keep everyone fit, we’ve got a good chance.

Also, rather hilariously in his press conference, a good week after the window had closed and a full five months before it opens again, Sky couldn’t help themselves but ask him about potential transfers for the summer. The manager’s reply was diplomatic:

You understand certainly very well that at the moment my focus is on Liverpool and not the transfer market.

But it’s like they can’t help themselves. Arsenal are playing 4 games in the space of 11 days against Liverpool, Manchester United, Liverpool again, then Bayern Munich. And they can’t find enough in that to talk about? They really have to ask about transfers which cannot happen for months and which are probably as far from the manager’s mind as what he’s going to have for dinner on June 19th 2014?

They are relentless. Like Principal Skinner when Bart bunks off school, they just keep on and on. Transfer Terminators. I mean, the guy could be under orders from editors and so on, but they really need to put a lid on it at this point. We’re heading into the most exciting part of the football season with incredible football matches for football fans to watch, and they want to focus on tittle-tattle. Pffff.

Anwyay, we imagined a couple of scenarios here where the manager can’t find peace from being questioned about new players.

Beyond all that it’s surprisingly quiet ahead of what’s going to be a really challenging period. The calm before the storm? I suspect there’ll be plenty to get our teeth into as the week goes on.

So, we might as well get on with this week’s Arsecast. I was supposed to be joined by the Mugsmasher to discuss the Mugsmashers, but just like our arrangement was a most excellent Arsenal mug, he broke it. It wasn’t his fault, in fairness, being stuck in work until past 10pm last night is grim, so with another game against that lot coming up I’ll try get him on next week’s show.

All the same there’s talk of horses, the week that was, Tim from Arse2Mouse pops in, we’ve got vintage news, the winners of last week’s t-shirt competition from Art of Football, and the usual waffle.

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 (this is a much better way to do it as you don’t experience the delays from iTunes). To download this week’s Arsecast directly – click here 22mb MP3).

The Arsecast is also available on our SoundCloud channel, where you can leave comments and such, as well as via the SoundCloud app for iPhone and Android. You can now also find it on the Stitcher podcasting app for iOS and Android. Or, you can listen without leaving this page by using the player below.

Right, that’s yer lot. Back tomorrow with a full preview of the Liverpool game and of course a live blog.

ps – Paddy Power are running a new account special for the game tomorrow, check out the details here if you fancy a flutter.

Arsecast Extra – Episode 2

Arsecast Extra – Episode 2

Here’s this week’s Arsecast Extra: I’m joined by James from @Gunnerblog to discuss the 2-0 win over Crystal Palace, the transfer window, not getting a new striker, the odd Kim Kallstrom signing and we take questions from listeners about Olivier Giroud, Arsene Wenger, playing the big teams, being stranded on a desert island and more.

You can also send us questions via which we’ll try and get to each week. Send them to either @arseblog or @Gunnerblog (or both) and you can also use the hashtag #arsecastextra if you really like.

You can subscribe to the Arsecast Extra on iTunes by clicking here. Or if you want to subscribe directly to the feed URL you can do so too (this is a much better way to do it as you don’t experience the delays from iTunes). To download this week’s Arsecast Extra directly – click here 25mb MP3).

The Arsecast Extra is also available on our SoundCloud channel, where you can leave comments and such, as well as via the SoundCloud app for iPhone and Android. You can also find it on the Stitcher podcasting app for iOS and Android. Or, you can listen without leaving this page by using the player below.

Deadline day: will anything happen? + Arsecast 302

Deadline day: will anything happen? + Arsecast 302

You know, I haven’t spoken or interacted with a single Arsenal fan who thinks we couldn’t do with a new face, or two, before the window shuts today.

There’s a genuine feeling that we need something extra in order to compete all the way to May – especially when Chelsea have been active, and Man City are, by all accounts, looking to flex their financial muscles (steroid boosted as they might be) at some point today.

The focus has, for the most part, been on Julian Draxler. A player of incredible potential but one who has only just turned 20. As much as I’d like him, and I really would, I’ve expressed reservations before as to whether he’s the right man to fire Arsenal to the title. He could have an impact like Reyes, providing a real and instant boost; or he could come to a new club after an injury spell, and struggle with fitness, adaptation and, like it or not, the pressure that comes with a £35m+ price tag.

If we pushed the boat out for Ozil it’s because we knew we were getting the finished product. A player who had developed in the Bundesliga and been polished off by three seasons at Real Madrid. If there’s a reluctance to play a massive fee for Draxler now, I do understand it, especially when it might well impact on the budget we have for other things in the summer.

I don’t know what Schalke are looking for exactly. It does seem as if there’s a release clause in the summer, so if I were them now I’d be holding out for a lot more, looking to make hay at another team’s desire to take him before that clause kicks in. Maybe they’re willing to sell but not at the price we know we could get him for in the summer. And although it might sting as others around us go crazy with their bottomless pits of cash, we’re still not a club who can just throw £40-45-50m at a transfer without thinking it all the way through first.

The question now appears to be who we can take in at short notice who might have a significant contribution to make between now and the end of the season. A young striker on loan from abroad? A veteran on the same kind of deal? Or a typically Arsene Wenger out of left field signing? It’s just impossible to know with this club.

Arsene admitted yesterday that we were ‘active’ but not close to signing anyone. Which sounds to me like they’ve made all kinds of enquiries but have yet to make up their minds. Perhaps they were waiting on deals for principal targets to happen or not happen before they pull the emergency chute. Either way, we have to hope that the need to add to the squad is recognised and acted upon, even if we probably won’t get the mega-signing many have been hoping for.

It remains to be seen what will happen between now and 11pm. Obviously I’d like us to bring one or two in. We’ve got deadline day form in years past, so it’s not impossible. Having announced a massive PUMA deal at the start of the week, it would be disappointing to go through the transfer window without adding to a squad that could really benefit from just a bit more depth and quality.

I recognise fully how it’s more difficult to get players in January, and that we might have longer-term plans, but we’re right in the thick of a title fight for the first time in, what, 5 or 6 seasons? There’s a monstrous schedule coming up in February and March, and while I get we have to balance what we do now with what we’ll have to do in the summer, but it would feel a bit like an opportunity missed if we didn’t go for it today.

Anyway, all we can do is wait, bite nails, check Twitter, Sky Sports, under rocks and anywhere else there might be any transfer info. As we here at Arseblog love you dearly and want to ease your pain, we’ll be live blogging the entire day so you don’t have to do all the digging and can just get all the updates in one place:

The Transfer Deadline Day Live Blog.

There you go, it updates automatically when things happen so you don’t need to refresh. Just to qualify this, by the way: we reserve the right to live blog from the pub later because, you know, end of the month, Friday evening, and beer, but we’ll do our best to keep you right up to date until it closes at 11pm tonight.

As I mentioned yesterday, there might well be some activity going out of the club as loan deals are put in place for some players. Already Benik Afobe has gone to Sheffield Wednesday for the rest of the season, while reports from France suggest Ju-Young Park is in discussions with FC Nantes about a loan deal back to Ligue 1.

I’d suggest players like Frimpong, Miyaichi, Eisfeld and others could be part of the action today. Whatever happens, it’ll all be covered on the live blog.

Now though, time for this week’s Arsecast and I’m joined by Tim Stillman to discuss Southampton, transfers and the thorny question of ticket prices (something Tim touches on in this week’s column).

There’s the usual waffle, plus your chance to win a t-shirt from Art of Football (JensThierry and Dennis), so stayed tuned for details on that.

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 (this is a much better way to do it as you don’t experience the delays from iTunes). To download this week’s Arsecast directly – click here 27mb MP3).

The Arsecast is also available on our SoundCloud channel, where you can leave comments and such, as well as via the SoundCloud app for iPhone and Android. You can now also find it on the Stitcher podcasting app for iOS and Android. Or, you can listen without leaving this page by using the player below.

Right, that’s your lot for this morning. Let’s keep fingers crossed for a good outcome to the day, reflections on that and more tomorrow.

Until then.