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Archive for July, 2011


Local Lansbury’s Arsenal passion should be savoured 42

Posted on July 26, 2011 by Martin @ thegoonblog.com

It is very rare these days that we see an Arsenal player with a genuine connection to the club. A local lad, someone who has known Arsenal all their life, and not just from the start of their footballing education. When Lansbury scored against Spurs last season everybody could see what it meant to him – he is Arsenal born and bred – and suggestions of letting him go without giving him a decent chance in the first team would be typical of the youth project in recent years.

Players like Denilson and Diaby get chance after chance. Arsene would argue that they have talent. Guess what, so does Lansbury, and his connection to the club could be just the thing to get that extra 10% from him – the 10% more than the probably more naturally gifted Diaby would give, or the lackluster Denilson.

When a squad is being assembled you need a mixture of technical excellence, physical presence and grit. Lansbury, whilst not ticking the first two boxes, would almost certainly fill the latter. Football is about passion and there is nothing more passionate than a local lad doing well at his local football team.

The departure of Jay Emmanuel-Thomas may be used as a way of sending a message to the current youngsters at Arsenal. Whilst incredibly gifted, his head is not quite as sharp as his feet and he has paid the price. His £1.1m move to Ipswich town could well be a brilliant bit of business for them, but he certainly needs to show more application than he has done at Arsenal. Wenger offered him a flavour of the first team with sub appearances early on in the season, it obviously didn’t seem to whet JET’s appetite adequately enough from the viewpoint of the boss. A shame, yes, but not a departure that I really care about.

When talking about Henri a while ago Wenger said this:

“I like his attitude, his spirit, his mental strength”

These are three qualities that you could question the team missed at vital times last season, selling Lansbury would be going against his own words – Wenger is not only looking for quality in this transfer window, he is looking to galvanize his squad with qualities. To use a Wengerism, why spend money on these things when you have them at the club already?

Many a comparison has been made with Ray Parlour and you can see why, both a hard working players to make up for their lack of natural ability compared to more technically advanced team-mates – Lansbury would know what Arsenal means, he could also identify with the club as a fan. That in modern football is priceless.

It would be worth giving Lansbury his chance. At least if he lacks the real cutting edge quality to make it at a Champions League club he would give 100%. Can you say that of players who got a much better shot in his place?

I doubt that very much.

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Barca & €ity: Pay up, or shut up 13

Posted on July 25, 2011 by Martin @ thegoonblog.com

How many times over the past couple of years have we seen players and officials associated with Barcelona speak about Cesc Fabregas? We now have the manager of Manchester City pretty much begging Samir Nasri to join him in Manchester.

The first few times it is a bit irritating – after a while it becomes maddening – eventually it’s just humiliating.

Arsenal are powerless to stop it. Reporting them would get nowhere as these two clubs are feasibly the only two destinations for the players for different reasons. Personally I would keep Cesc and sell Samir, however much I would like to see him rot in the reserves for a year – the thing is we just can’t afford it and letting him go for free would blow next seasons transfer budget.

Barcelona officials are in London for this week on business, undoubtedly the main objective is to get some kind of agreement with Arsenal over Cesc. The fact is if they pay £40m they will get him, if they don’t they won’t. Barca have tried to dress up many offers to try and come up with something slightly appealing, but when it comes to claiming some sort of compensation in hindsight (we have signed Barca youth products Jon Toral and Bellerin), they are playing a stupid game. It is worth saying that Arsenal have already paid compensation for those two players, as we also did with Fran Merida and Cesc. All above board – nothing dodgy – unlike Barca’s conduct towards us over the past few years but lets leave that there…

One thing is certain and that is the next two weeks are absolutely huge . We are in the middle of one of the most important summers in the history of the club; it is under new ownership and with two of our best players looking to leave – with no direct replacements in sight – we are at a bit of a crossroads.

Someone – anyone – needs to start getting things into order. The wage bill is horrific in contrast to the quality of players we actually have. Nicklas Bendtner and Abou Diaby (as an example) earn £112,000 per week between them. Now, I am one who thinks that footballers wages are obscene but I understand why they are so obscene. However, understanding why those two players earn that sum of money between them per-week is something I will never understand in my lifetime.

Bendtner, for me, has considerable potential, as does Abou Diaby – but I would sell them just to release those funds. Speaking about Nicklas Bendtner the manager said that he was free to talk to clubs, finding a club to agree to his personal terms may just prevent him moving permanently though:

‘How many will leave the club? I said from the start I will fight to keep everybody. Nicklas Bendtner might go and Emmanuel Eboue might go. They can talk to clubs, but the rest I will fight.’

If a player has to take a pay-cut to move, but at the same time could just sit on the bench at Arsenal picking up huge wages, is there any wonder they are not exactly busting a gut to find a new club? Even if they leave on loan Arsenal will probably still have to subsidise a certain percentage of the wage. Look back to the Eduardo sale, Arsenal had to lower the fee they wanted because of Eduardo’s personal demands – Shakhtar couldn’t afford him otherwise. Taking a hit on the transfer fee is the only way we can rid the club of a couple of the leeches that are kicking about.

Looking at things rationally, Arsenal are a top four club and that is the expectation. Look at the money spent overall (wages + transfer fees) and you can see we just can’t compete financially, still. Premier League betting odds won’t have Arsenal as anywhere near the favourites next season for a variety of reasons, like I have said a few times though, I do feel we will spring a surprise. I won’t get ahead of myself though…

It does seem that things will take shape very soon though. Samir Nasri’s conduct has possibly made his stay a somewhat unrealistic prospect and you can’t imagine Cesc leading out Arsenal next weekend for the first games in-front of a home crowd since the slump at the end of last season. Either way, those situations should be ended shortly.

Not just for the sake of the team, but the club needs a little direction now too.

Some harsh, swift decisions need making along with some positive moves.

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Arsenal need to wise up in the transfer market 22

Posted on July 23, 2011 by Martin @ thegoonblog.com

In under a month, Arsenal embark on one of the most vital August’s under Wenger’s reign. Some may argue it is the most important August under Wenger.

The arrivals of Carl Jenkinson and Gervinho mean that we have added a couple of new faces to the squad, this isn’t where the question marks are hanging though – they are hanging over the heads of Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri, Nicklas Bendtner and Manuel Almunia. Increasingly so, questions are being asked about the manager and his lack of purchases so far this summer.

I find it slightly worrying that yet again we are not offering what players are worth in the market. Sometimes situations can be used to an advantage in negotiations, what Arsenal don’t realise is that clubs know there are a few quid in the coffers, they also know other clubs may willingly pay more for one of their players than Arsenal will.

We have no muscle in the transfer market, we can try to sell our footballing philosophy but apart from that what really can we offer? The best in wages? No. Silverware? No. A chance to play with the very best players? With questions over Nasri and Cesc, that has to be a no as well.

Basically, Arsenal will probably have to pay an extra million or two to get to the point where the club finds it very hard to refuse the first offer on the table – this isn’t the time to be playing games in the transfer market, offering amounts that are in some cases not only insulting to the club but also the player in question. There is a huge difference between Arsenal’s strategy and the incessant crap coming from northern Spain, but there is one common denominator: cash.

In my book Arsenal need to sell Samir Nasri. Losing an asset worth in excess of £20m will not only mean he can’t be replaced but it would also have a massive impact on the transfer budget for this and the following summers for quite some time.

Of course, any improvements made to the squad will be a mixture of youth and new players brought in – Carl Jenkinson has looked a pretty shrewd purchase by Arsene so far in pre-season however, judging a players true defensive ability in at this stage is nigh on impossible. Ryo Miyaichi has also looked to be as good as the substantial hype suggests, there are still massive doubts over the possibility of ‘Ryodinho’ getting his work-permit this year but he has attributes that Arsenal fans have craved for a long time.

The defence is the main area of concern as it seems to be before the start of every season now. Deals for Phil Jones and Gary Cahill have gone wrong at various times – Arsenal matched the asking price for Jones but were turned down in favour of United, and they haven’t met the asking price of Gary Cahill (who would be happy to join) with Bolton looking for a substantial sum. Negotiations for Chris Samba have ground to a halt but it wouldn’t be at all surprising to see Arsenal go back to Blackburn in the weeks to come to see if they can bring Samba in.

The only thing seemingly on Arsenal’s side right now is time. Time, however, will run out pretty quickly. Clubs know Arsenal need to buy, they can hold us to ransom, take advantage of the fact Gooners are crying out for more signings.

Over to you, Arsene.

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