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Monday, April 30, 2007

Fulham get too greedy and Clichy is the main man!

Fulham panicked too early and were wrong to sack Coleman when they did. They were not really in such a dire state or in a relegation dog fight like a few of their neighbours in London. Now they brought onto themselves what they were trying to avoid!

In yesterday’s game they dug their own graveyard and got too big for their boots. After they were gifted an equaliser they got too greedy. They went all out for the win and opened up at the back allowing Arsenal and do what most teams deny them, but what they can do very well. To counterattack!

Yet it could have been game over by the end of the first half. It was the same old story again with Arsenal dominating, playing the beautiful game, creating chance after chance but failing to take them. And the scorer of Arsenal’s first goal was the main culprit. Although he took his goal very well he proceeded to miss all the sitters that were created for him.

And we have seen before how the plot of this story usually develops. What we did not expect was not that Fulham would equalise but the manner with which they did! One of Lehmann’s weaknesses resurfaced again: coming off his line when there was no need for it and in a situation which did not have the potential to create danger.

We have at this site argued that Lehmann is a quality goalkeeper but not when he puts performances like that! Let’s hope he returns to his best next week when Arsenal will have the chance to prove that they are a better team than Chelsea and put the final nail in the coffin of their aspirations of winning the Premiership.

The games to goals conceded ratio is nearly one this season which implies that there is a real need to get the defence sorted out. But in our opinion what is needed is more organisation than new players. And this is relatively easier to achieve than buying new defenders and trying to integrate them into a cohesive unit. Now that Gallas has had a season with this defence we would expect him to provide the calm leadership that has been lacking in the past. Also Ebuoe is beginning to find his form again after the injuries he had during the year. With another season under his belt we expect great things from him next year.

But the most improved player in the Arsenal team is Gael Clichy. We think that he is better than Cole was at this stage of his career. His positioning has improved and his pace allows him to correct any mistakes he may make. And his forward play and crosses are excellent.

Arsenal showed that once they start converting their chances and kill teams off they will be serious challengers for next season. Failing to kill teams off has at least been accepted as a weakness by Wenger after the match! Thank god for that! Let’s hope he does something about it during preseason training.

Of course when the heavy guns return from injuries and a few well chosen additions to the squad are made then we may see Arsenal going two or three up in the first half again as they used to do in the Premiership winning seasons. And judging by the way the team has been performing of late we can really see that happening next season
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Sunday, April 29, 2007

Arsenal Vs Fulham. Give Aliadere a try

As a CL birth is now almost secure it becomes important that Arsenal keep winning and putting in good performances. They are a young team and still lacking self confidence so they have to prove to themselves really that they can beat teams such as Fulham. Especially at the Emirates where a lot of points have been dropped against middle and lower table teams this season.

We still believe that a 4 5 1 formation should be continued even for a game that looks like to most punters a home banker. There are two reasons for this.

Firstly we don’t think it is a foregone conclusion, as Fulham will be playing under a new manager and experience shows that players respond to a new coach; and this manifests itself in the first few games. So we should be expecting a strong spirited performance from the Cottagers.

Secondly, as we have argued before, a 4 5 1 formation suits Arsenal better with the current players at Wenger's disposal. Yes we know that Baptista could play up front with Adebayor but we do not consider the Beast a good enough player to put on the red jersey as those of you who are regular visitors to the site will know by now! And even if Ljumberg had been available for today's game still we would not be advocating his inclusion in the starting eleven!

Unless Wenger wants to try a youngster from the reserves we would like to see Aliadere given a try in the wide midfield position (where Rosicky would have played). Aliadere we believe has the skills and pace required to play in this position. Wenger’s insistence in playing him through the middle has contributed to his ineffectiveness this season and to calls for him to be sold. We think he may surprise a few people.

Fulham are likely to play with one player up front, adopt a defensive formation and try and nick a goal from dead ball situations. So Arsenal’s defence will have to be at their best in defending under these conditions. On the other hand we consider Rosicky’s absence an important loss for Arsenal but if the rest show enough determination in front of goal then he should not be missed
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Friday, April 27, 2007

Wenger is in denial… again

Arsenal’s disappointing season has now been blamed on the new pitch! Wenger is arguing that the players could not feel at home and needed time to get accustomed to the new surroundings!

But surely one can not really blame a whole season of under achievement on just the new stadium?

Wenger in denial seems to be a characteristic typical of him.

Here are some of the excuses he has used at various times this season to explain the disappointing results.

The defensive attitude of the opponents.

Hell what do you expect them to do? Roll over and ask for mercy? The onus is surely on the coaching staff to work out ways and playing systems to break them down.

And can someone tell us what formation and tactics did Arsenal employ against Villarreal in the semi final of the Champions League? Or even that shameful Cup Final against Man Utd that Arsenal won on penalties? We consider it shameful, by the way, for the negative way Arsenal approached the game and for how much it went against the principle of playing beautiful football.

Time wasting by the opponents.

And please does anyone know what did Lehmann get booked for in the home game against Bolton? Or do you remember the various occasions that Arsenal players took the ball to the corner flag and kept it there to waist time especially during the premiership winning seasons? The beautiful game and how to make it better


The fracas in the Carling Cup Final.

The fighting and the ensuing disruption of the flow of the game in the Carling Cup Final affected the players, limiting the chance of a comeback.

Hell the youngsters lost, even if they played the better football, because Chelsea had strong, experienced and seasoned players out there who know how to win games when things are not going for them.

The World Cup and Henry’s overuse by Mr Domenech.

Yes Henry was probably too tired after the World cup and he did aggravate his injuries. But the Premiership is full of international players and a lot of them played in the world Cup. And a lot of them play for Man Utd, Chelsea and Liverpool and you did not see their managers blaming any bad runs on the World Cup!

Need we go on?

The real reasons of course are what every football pundit knows. The distinct lack of experienced players in a thin squad, the need for the youngsters to find their feet, the almost obsessive infatuation with walking the ball in the net, the failure to kill off teams when they were on top and the lack of strength and determination to crank out wins when not playing well.

Need we go on again?

Please add your own if you feel the need!

"The Arsenal takeover: There is a price for everything'

Although we do not think that Arsenal needs a huge investment in the team there are a lot of you out there that have been complaining that they are falling behind the other big clubs. What Arsenal certainly needs to do however is to run the club’s business efficiently so that the servicing of the loans is catered for. And it is generally accepted that the Americans know very well how to do run sports businesses. Especially with regard to marketing the brand in the home and more importantly the international markets.

As David Dein once said in a TV interview "after seeing how the Americans operated their sport, I felt we were light years behind" which probably accounts for his alleged support of Kronke’s takeover bid for Arsenal.

However if the takeover is highly leveraged (i.e a large proportion of the buying consideration is financed from borrowings rather than from own capital) then there is the danger that the club’s revenues, through the issue of dividends, will be used to pay the loan installments and starve the team of the investment in players over the coming years.

The prospective investor will argue of course that due to his expertise and know how, revenues and profits will be increased to such an extend so as to service the club’s own borrowings, invest in the team and leave enough for dividend distribution to service the personal loans raised for the purchase of the shares.

But can the club’s turnover increase so dramatically so that it would create so much available cash to service the existing debt for the stadium of about 260m as well as an additional (personal)debt of 450m?

The above figures have assumed that all 62.219 shares are bought at about 7.000 each and are financed from borrowings rather than own capital. But it will all depend, of course, on the structure of the business plan and the proportion of the debt financed from borrowings.

Remember Arsenal do not need a new stadium as some other premiership clubs. So they do not necessarily need someone to inject capital for this purpose alone. They might however need capital to ease the financial burden related to the stadium.

Although it may not appear possible at this juncture, the current Board may eventually decide to listen to Kroenke or even to other suitors as to what they have to say. There is a price for everything! And from the current shareholders’ point of view, the strictly business decision as to what price to sell their shares will have to take into account all the additional revenues that are expected to come on stream irrespective of what kroenke’s contribution to boosting revenues will be. And by this we mean the following:

- the additional 15m that will become available for each premiership club next year from the football league as part of the renegotiation of the overseas TV rights
- the 33m now frozen, as part of the Banks’ requirements, that will be released in two years time
- the profit that will be made from the Highbury redevelopment in a few years time, some say about 90m
- and most important of all, the additional net cash that is now coming on stream from the Emirates revenues especially when the financial burden of the borrowings for the creation of the stadium begins to ease.

All the above can be factored in the asking price. The methodology is as simple as that (though more difficult to estimate in money terms as it involves some uncertainty). Then it’s a matter of negotiation with the prospective buyer. Theoretically in the strictly business sense, if the shareholders get the price they value the club at then they should sell. The money of course will go into their pockets and not the club.

On the other hand the Board can take the supporters point of view and act unselfishly if you like. It can negotiate a deal with Kroenke, or any other aspiring suitor, where the takeover financing scheme and business plan for increasing revenues and profits takes into account the sensitive issue of using the cash for paying off personal debt.

They could insist that the company will not be de listed i.e made private by the investor buying all the shares himself (Man Utd was de listed after the takeover). They could sell only a proportion of their shares (so as to pass control on) but keep a seat on the Board. This will have the effect of reducing the amount of money the investor will have to borrow to buy the shares. Dein’s shares for example can stay with him if he joins Kroenke in the management of the club.

They could negotiate for an additional capital injection from the new investor in order to pay off part of the club’s debt and ease the financing burden. Now that would do very nicely!

They could agree a certain minimum amount of cash be made available for investment in the team every year. Even a dividend policy could be jointly agreed beforehand to allay any fears of cash strapping.

It could be a combination of any or all of the above or indeed a lot more other conditions. The more conditions demanded of course the more their bargaining position will be compromised and the more the selling price will be affected. Or indeed the investor may even be put off.

As we have written in other postings on the issue we are not necessarily against foreign or new ownership of the club. 95% of the coaching and playing staff are not British and it would be hypocritical to refuse selling on grounds of citizenship. But it has to be done correctly and with the future of the football team and the club at heart.

Monday, April 23, 2007

It’s always fun going to the Lane!

Our resident season ticket holder at the Emirates (South Stand: Row 5) was with the away supporters at the Lane! Here are his “hands on” impressions about the game (which do not necessarily match those of the earlier blog on this fixture)!

“Late Friday evening I got a call from a friend asking if I wanted a ticket for the game on Saturday lunchtime. I almost jumped inside the phone and snapped his hand off!

Firstly, I have to say I don’t completely agree with what was posted on this blog regarding some aspects of the game. For a start the formation employed on Saturday was 4 4 1 1 with Freddie playing just behind Ade and not a traditional 4 4 2.

I do agree however that for the personnel available now, 4 5 1 is probably our best formation; but it’s not a formation that we can adopt when Fabregas is not on the pitch. Cesk is literary the engine of the Arsenal machine and dictates the tempo of the game extremely well. He has a calming influence on all the other players and makes every single player on that team look better than they actually are. The sign of a great player. Also, Rosicky got injured; it was not a planned substitution.

I have a bone to pick with everyone now, regarding Hleb.

I generally agree with the criticism he got over the last few games and I also agree that in the first half he was very poor. This, coupled with the fact that Eboue was more worried about Lennon than going forward, made our right side almost obsolete.

However this was rectified when Cesk began running the game and Eboue decided that Lennon was not a danger worth considering. As a result both Eboue and Hleb came much more into it, tormenting The Queen and Rocha. Especially Rocha, who had no clue how to deal with this attacking threat from the right getting himself stranded, mostly in between the two, allowing them to tear him apart.

Ade should have had a hat trick at least! The good thing however is that at last we scored from a set piece. I have been to a few away grounds over the last few years, Old Trafford, Craven Cottage, Villa Park and Stamford Bridge to name but a few. I have never heard a ground go so quiet after the Adebayor goal. It was like being back at the Highbury library!

Baptista came on mid way in the second half and was anonymous, but even with 10 players we proceeded to pass them into oblivion continuing to miss chance after chance. But when Baptista headed hopelessly wide with Robinson in no man’s land we all knew deep down that they were going to nick one!!!!! Surprisingly even after we conceded very late on our whole away section was relatively upbeat.

On the other hand the wildly excessive celebrations of the Spuds helped us realise what a really huge gulf in class still exists between the two teams!

Despite what Robbie Keane is spouting on in today’s press.”

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Wenger gets the formation and the substitutions wrong but Fabregas makes Arsenal tick.

Why was Arsenal not really playing well in the first half but changed it round in the second?

The usual reasons why a team, down on the score, comes out in the second half rejuvenated include a rousing half time speech by the manager and of course the need to go for it as they have got nothing to lose. Yet for Arsenal’s game against Tottenham there are additionally two significant reasons. They are interrelated but can also stand on their own.

The first and obvious one is that Fabregas came on late in the first half and started dictating the game as only he knows and can. Before his introduction there was, dare we say it, no leadership, no direction and no grand puppeteer to pull the strings. He makes Arsenal tick and is the most influential player in the squad. We put him ahead of Henry in this respect. The worrying thing is that there is no adequate replacement for Fabregas at the moment leaving a big gap if he ever becomes unavailable for long spells. Maybe Denilson in a few years?

Yet we feel the second reason is just as important and it involves the formation. Wenger started the game in a 4 4 2 set up with Ljumberg supporting Adebayor up front. As we have advocated before, a 4 5 1 formation suits Arsenal for the moment since the right players are not currently available to play other systems.

4 5 1 can of course be a flexible formation when players have the mobility and the nous to interchange places and transform it into a more creative system. And Ljumberg is not really up to it having lost his pace and with it his ability to score. So you can see where we are coming from. The forced introduction of Fabregas for Ljumberg due to the recurrence of the latter’s hamstring injury proved to be a defining moment for the way the game progressed from then on. The formation either intentionally or by default was switched to 4 5 1 and everything clicked in place and ticked like a clock. In fact this is the reverse of what happened in the game against Man city where Diaby’s injury forced the introduction of Baptista and a switch to 4 4 2 from 4 5 1. Arsenal did not look as effective from then on.

Again we are of the opinion that Wenger got the substitutions wrong. Taking out Rosicky for Baptista in the 66th minute removed a very committed and potentially dangerous midfielder. In addition it left Arsenal’s most under performing player on the field! If rather he took Hleb off and switched Rosicky to the right then he might have stuck home one of those shooting opportunities that fell to Hleb late on in the game when Tottenham opened up at the back searching for the equaliser.

And putting Senderos on for Hleb in the 90th minute when the defence was not really in need for reinforcements removed Arsenal’s counterattacking capability even for those four minutes of injury time! It’s alright to be wise after the event but hell this beginning to be like a de ja vu? Remember the Reading goal at the Emirates?

Again chances were created but their conversion was not up to standard. As we said before it would have been much more worrying if there were no chances created. Its letting the goals in that is worrying. This needs careful attention if Arsenal are to be serious challengers next year.

Wenger Holds the key to Arsenal’s Doors

Arsene Wenger has expressed his sadness at Dein’s departure from the club. They have been locked together for the past eleven years ever since Dein plugged him out of Japan and reintroduced him to Europe. They have been plotting Arsenal’s fortunes since then and they have been rather good at it.

What has been underpinning this success has been the stability and consistency throughout the club. This has now been cracked and it looks as it is about to be shattered to pieces with severe consequences for the team’s fortunes on the football field for now and in the future.

What has happened so far is only the beginning. As we have indicated in our previous postings Kroenke is very likely to mount a bid sooner or later with, what now looks like, Dein’s blessing and probably his 14.6% shareholding on board.

The current Board’s intention of holding onto their shares for a year is comical and naive! What is likely to happen is that the club will face a year of extreme uncertainty and instability which is bound to find its way on the playing field. More importantly it may result in other departures in crucial positions like management and playing staff! This needs to be avoided like the plague. And this is where Wenger holds the key. Sooner or later he will have to take sides. Who will he back? Kroenke or the current Board? This decision will be even harder if Dein openly joins forces Kroenke.

In our opinion Wenger has now become the most important person in this struggle for power. He will undoubtedly be coveted by both suitors to remain with the club. And therefore he alone can help tip the balance one the way or another. If he were to let it be known to the current Board that he is in favour of Kroenke (and Dein taking over) then its game over! And all the shenanigans and turmoil that are bound to have followed over the next 12 months will have been avoided and Arsenal will return to normal again but with more money for Wenger to spend on players!

And we believe that this is what he should do!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Wenger and the Board are in denial!

First they tell us that the alliance with Kroenke's football team in the USA earlier in the year is only to exchange players and knowledge through the creation of a football Center of Excellence in the States and that Kroenke will not be buying into Arsenal!

Then they tell us that Kroenke's 1% purchase of shares from Fiszman this month is only an investment and nothing else. And what has actually happened? Kroenke buys 9.99% worth of shares from ITV. We all know that a bid is imminent. We predicted it last month!
A bid for Arsenal is on the cards. Reading between the lines….and we feel anyone with some experience in the financial world would have seen the signs early enough. What we all thought though was that Fiszman would be the one to sell to Kroenke not Dein!And now they tell us that the Board, except Dein, will not sell for a year! This is what club announced today:

"In light of recent speculation with regards to the ownership of the club, the remaining board members, who together own 45.45% of the issued share capital of the company, would like to reassure the supporters, shareholders and employees of Arsenal Football Club that they remain long-term holders of their interests in the club. To this effect, they have entered into an agreement not to dispose of their shares for at least one year and have confirmed that they intend to retain their interests on the expiration of this period."

A year is very very long time in the world of football and of course in business. The question is what will happen, as is now likely, if Kroenke buys Dein's share of 14.6% to add to his 11.6% to make 26.2%? He will have a sizeable part in his hands which he can use as a springboard for persuading the Board to come round to his way of thinking.

Also note that the current Board (excluding Dein of course) are not in control of 54.54% of the club's shares! Kroenke therefore can now start scooping up these shares outside the ownership of the Board putting even more pressure on the Board to sell when the year ends.

As we wrote before we are not necessarily against foreign ownership of Arsenal. Some of the comments on our previous postings by readers have made the point that Man Utd, Liverpool and even Chelsea have not suffered from being sold. Man Utd are on the way to a Premiership title and maybe on to other triumphs as we speak!

In our previous posting on the issue we wrote:

"What will Wenger’s position be?
Does his earlier statement that Kroenke’s is looking at Arsenal as an “investment” mean that he could be hostile to all this? He should not be. It may in fact turn out that more money may now be made available to him than what the existing Board were willing to release. Kroenke has in fact splashed out the money for his other “franchises” and has paid huge sums to buy players (even at the expense of incurring expensive fines) and bring success."

The worrying aspect of course is the uncertainty that is bound to be created during this crucial year. Will there be attempts by Kroenke to get the Board to talk? And will this uncertainty spill over to the coaching staff and the players?

We hope not.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Same old Arsenal…

You know the Arsenal song “good old Arsenal”.. We just changed the words to reflect what we felt last night watching the game. A lot of pretty patterns woven around the pitch, a goal up and then the players take their foot off the gas and assume that the game is won. Is this not the pattern that characterised nearly all of Arsene’s teams over the eleven or so years he is at the club? When the team consists of younger players who are prone to mistakes, a one nil to the Arsenal can not feature prominently down the list of Arsenal’s fixture results.

Yet they could have wrapped up the game much much earlier than when Fabregas decided to take matters into his own hands on the 73rd minute. Lack of leadership on the pitch was again evident last night and it was very obvious during the spell prior to and immediately after conceding, when heads dropped a little bit. Even with Henry in the team this is an ingredient that has been sorely missed since Vieira’s departure. Can Fabregas take up the mantle?

As we have advocated before, a 4 5 1 formation even at home suits Arsenal for the moment since the right players are not currently available to play other systems. And 4 5 1 can of course be a flexible formation when players have the mobility and the nous to interchange places and transform it into a more creative system. And of course Diaby last night was not, as some baffled commentators before the game were saying, the forward player in a 4 4 2 line up. He became, after Fabregas, the most influential player on the pitch until his injury forced him out of the game as early as the half hour mark. But he had done enough by then to create the first goal winning the ball in midfield in a, dare we say it, Vieira way. Clearly Wenger will have a nice problem next year in how to accommodate both Silva and Diaby in the same eleven. Or will one have to give way?

Clearly Diaby’s exit and Baptista’s introduction into the game affected the way Arsenal played. It changed the formation into an orthodox 4 4 2 where not only Diaby’s force and tackling were missed but Baptista’s lack of control and relative static approach affected the team’s effectiveness going forward.

There were three other weaknesses in the team last night which are not new of course but they need to be addressed if Arsenal are to challenge next year.

Defensive errors are becoming quite common and their source is not only from the relatively less experienced Clichy and Eboue. Lehmann’s kick out of his area was pathetic but Toure’s concentration was lacking because he was taken aback by Barton’s return of the ball to Johnson just outside the area. As a result Toure was easily bypassed thus forcing Eboue to come out of position in order to cover, allowing Beasley to steal in behind him for the goal. A championship winning team cannot afford to make such na├»ve defensive errors and certainly cannot concede on average nearly a goal a game! The exact ratio for Arsenal is 0.91 as compared to Man Utd’s 0.69, Liverpool’s 0.66 and Chelsea’s 0.59 per game!

Hleb again put in a tepid performance and only contributed positively when things were on the up especially for Arsenal’s 3rd goal. But he needs to improve significantly if he is to avoid spending time on the bench next year.

Lots of chances created again but their conversion was not up to standard. We are not worried about this at the moment as when the goal scorers return this can be rectified. Especially if the forward line is complemented with quality signings in the summer. We would have been deeply worried if there were no chances created!

Its letting them in that needs looking into!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Bogey team no more!

At least Arsenal took matters into its own hands and played with some more purpose and determination than of late. Fourth place is now almost secure and a win on Tuesday against Man City will, to all intends and purposes seal it and allow Arsenal to even challenge for 3rd place.

In our last posting we suggested three things that were needed in order to beat Bolton. Arsenal did play 4 5 1 and this worked well as the midfield dominated and distributed the ball very well. The game was not played particularly in a fast tempo as we suggested it should and for this reason the opponents were allowed to get their men behind the ball in time to form that “bus” in front of their goalkeeper.

But the worst was that Arsenal again did not defend the long looping balls that we all predicted will be utilised by Bolton. Even a free kick conceded by Arsenal on the half way line and even beyond, inside the Bolton half, resulted in an aerial assault into Arsenal’s box! The inevitable result is “another fine mess you got me into Stanley”. Ok on this occasion it was on Eboue’s side of the pitch and not Clichy’s as we expected (in our preview of the game we opted for Gallas to play at left back to deal with the long diagonal balls). But hell it was a goal wasn’t it? From a long ball? On the full back? How many times will Arsenal concede a goal from these situations?

Hleb again was ineffective and lacking in confidence. He should have been dropped as we suggested. But Adebayor showed good control of the ball and some nice touches. However he needs to develop that killer instinct in front of goal. Arsenal is a team that plays “total football” and this means that all the ingredients need to be in place and functioning properly in order to achieve the end result. This is why Arsenal find it difficult to win ugly or when they are not playing well. It is an all or nothing approach. And everything is geared to play in a particular way. That is why there is no plan B! But when it works it really works and opponents are blown away.

We will leave you with this happy note.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

What Arsenal need to do to beat Bolton

At least it’s in our hands as Henry has said yesterday. This is billed as a game for 4th place but we all know that it really should not have reached this stage at all. Battling it out with Bolton, Arsenal’s bogey team will not be easy as we all know.

What does Arsenal need to do to beat them?

First:

AW should play 4 5 1. Yes at home. Because he hasn’t the wide players to play 4 4 2. We have said it before: round pegs in square holes do not fit. And Diaby is a central midfielder not a forward or a winger! A 4 5 1 line up will counter Bolton like for like not allowing them to outnumber Arsenal’s midfield. Hleb should be left out. His form has dipped and I can only suspect that he may be talking to other clubs possibly from Germany. Or the recent news that there is a dispute between his original club Minsk claiming a signing on fee from Arsenal may have affected him. Fabregas, Silva, Diaby Ljumberg and Rosicky should in our opinion be the five in midfield.


Second:

A fast tempo is needed due to Bolton’s high average age compared to Arsenal’s. Arsenal need to play as in the FA cup replay at Bolton where young legs and a very fast pace adopted right from the off outrun and outplayed Bolton’s ageing veterans.

Thirdly and finally:

Arsenal should be prepared to deal properly with long diagonal balls to Kevin Davies. He is pivotal to Bolton’s style of play. No one else in the Bolton team can play this role as effectively as Davies. They pump long, almost looping, balls to him from anywhere in the park and they all gather round for the scraps. Ugly but effective. For this reason Clichy should be dropped and Gallas play at left back to deal with the long balls. Similarly Senderos or Djourou should start with Toure in central defence. We would prefer Senderos due to his aerial ability but we suspect that he is out of favour and we expect that he may be thinking of moving on.

Do all these and 1-0 is a very achievable result.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Arsenal sale will be sooner rather than later!

Well we saw it coming and we told you about it! A bid for Arsenal Holdings Plc is now in our opinion imminent. And Stan Kroenke already the owner of 11.26% of Arsenal’s shares (after he bought ITV’s 9.99% holding) looks like he is acting with Dan Fiszman’s blessing, as predicted in our last posting on the matter, The times they are a changing……Arsenal to be sold.

We said: “If he has already convinced Fiszman to sell 1% then probably they have agreed for the remainder of the shares to be bought later or for Fiszman to support the bid and remain on the Board.”


Dan Fiszman apparently has sold his house in Hampstead for 20m. He has been living in Geneva as, what we would assume, a tax “exile”. Obviously Fiszman is breaking ranks from the rest of the shareholders.

Members of the Board now may be considering entering into negotiations with Kroenke while Fiszman’s 24.1% holding and his apparent alliance with Kroenke is hanging above them like a damoclean sword.

Kroenke has made a very courageous investment of 43m PLUS an additional undertaking of 23m to buy half of Arsenal Broadband from ITV. That’s a lot of money (66m) to pay if you are not expecting to lodge a successful bid and take control of a company. Certainly keeping it there as an investment (as Wenger naively suggested) does not fit in with Kroenke’s investment profile and business behaviour.

He already owns five sports franchises in the USA including the Colorado Rapids MLS side. He is obviously a “hands on” entrepreneur so why would he “lock” 43m worth of his valuable resources in a company where he could not influence its future profitability and returns to equity?

All the above make us suspicious that for him to have made this move he must be feeling very confident of succeeding and pretty soon. Probably sooner than a lot of people are expecting.

Will all this affect the football side of things?

If there is prolonged haggling over what price the existing shareholders will be willing to sell and what role they will play in a new Corporate Arsenal then this uncertainty may spill over to the players and the coaching staff. So it is important to get it over with as soon as possible.

What will Wenger’s position be?

Does his earlier statement that Kroenke’s is looking at Arsenal as an “investment” mean that he could be hostile to all this? He should not be. It may in fact turn out that more money may now be made available to him than what the existing Board were willing to release. Kroenke has in fact splashed out the money for his other “franchises” and has paid huge sums to buy players (even at the expense of incurring expensive fines) and bring success.

A contrary issue is how Kroenke will finance the take over. If the bid is highly leveraged (i.e he borrows most of the money than putting up his own) then the prospect of squeezing the finances at Arsenal to service those loans may indeed affect the footballing side of things.

Existing shareholders of Arsenal please note.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Arsenal need more than 15 shots on goal before they can score!

The heading of our last posting unfortunately proved very prophetic! Will West Ham do the double over Arsenal?

We thought not but then again we should have allowed hard data to reveal what every opposing team knows this season. Arsenal need more than 15 shots on goal before they can score!

Our resident season ticket holder on the South Stand (Row 5) of the Emirates took his seat for the Hammers game in anticipation of a bumper win. Here are his hands on impressions and thoughts.

It’s the same old song…….Arsenal dominate but they lose.


Was I wrong or was I wrong!!!!!

We played reasonably well on Saturday against West Ham but very early on you could see that we were lacking in confidence in front of goal. Gilberto was back fit, which made the balance of the team a lot better than the previous weekend at Liverpool.

We started the game very well pressing in the middle of the park not allowing West Ham to settle. A host of chances were missed starting off by Cesk in the first couple of minutes, then all the midfielders followed suit. Hleb passing – to an opponent - instead of trying to score, Freddy uncharacteristically missed when clean through with the keeper, Adebayor shot over after a cut back from, Eboue, Rosicky went close from long range.

Arsenal continued to dominate but the Hammers grow in confidence in our failure to score. Right on Half time Lucas Neil played a long diagonal ball to Zamora who took it early catching Jens out of position. We need to start defending a lot better in those sorts of situations. Toure GET CLOSER and ATTACK THE BALL. Lehmann STAY ON YOUR LINE…..

We were behind again with the first shot on goal by the opposition.

Some exceptional goalkeeping from Robert Green and some poor finishing by the Arsenal meant it was not possible for us to come from behind on this occasion and save the game.

The last team to win at Highbury is the first to win at the Emirates.

We have a problem this season with our finishing being poor from midfield and my biggest worry is that I do not see how AW is going to improve that.

Strange team selection at Newcastle.

This was our worst performance in a long time. Newcastle stuck men behind the ball and we did not have the inventiveness to get behind them on a regular basis.

Strange decision by AW to start with Diaby as a second striker, at the moment it looks like he is trying to find a place for him in the starting line up for next season. Or it smells of desperation! Arsene do not put squares pegs in round holes please.

Hleb is a man badly out of form and I think he would benefit from a couple of weeks rest. Not as bad as the West Ham game in this one but went missing for large periods.

Adebayor looks toothless up front; he needs Henry to create space in order to be effective. Baptista and Ali again ineffective when they came on, AW seems to be losing his faith in the beast.
At least we didn’t concede on this one!

Doom merchants to the for!
We wish to remind all those doom merchants again, that there are a lot of things right about Arsenal. AW has assembled a young and very gifted squad which will be around for the next ten years.

As analysed before (
Arsenal's transfer targets) AW needs to add, at the most, three experienced players to supplement the current squad: a goalkeeper (if Lehmann leaves), a pacy winger and a forward. And we mean experienced. Not young players who have to ask permission from their parents to play in evening kick off games..

When the inadequacies of the team are rectified Arsenal will challenge once again for the title and will keep on challenging for years as the young players mature.

So don’t despair. Be patient and you will be rewarded.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Will West Ham do the double over Arsenal?

For the first time this year some of us are dreading the thought of taking our seats at the Emirates this Saturday. Silly if you think about it we have faced a lot better teams this season and none of them managed to go away with the three points.

We have not got good memories of West Ham in recent times as Pardew got the better of Wenger last year at Highbury – Nigel Reo Cocker run riot that day – and of course the now infamous Tussle following Marlon Harewood’s winner at Upton Park earlier this season.

West Ham are coming off two straight wins and Carlos Teves seems to have found his feet netting three in his last three games. He is a street fighter and the heart beat of the team who has managed to get the rest of the players to play his way. He is going to be a big danger on Saturday.

As long as Teves is kept in check and the Arsenal players don’t give the ball away as they did against Liverpool we should be all right. West Ham’s biggest weakness is at the back where they are not mobile enough which would allow Arsenal’s wide players to cause problems.

Not sure what is happening on the injury front but if Gilberto is not fit then Diaby should play in the middle, where he belongs, along with Cesk. Also we have a feeling that Wenger will prefer Ali rather than Baptista. We would stick with Hleb (he is surely going to play better than at Liverpool) and bring Rosicky in on the other wide midfield position.

Good time for one of our midfielders to find their scoring boots as well.

Prediction: Tight game but don’t forget there is likely to be a “reaction” in response to the recent tepid performances and the criticism the Arsenal players faced.

Arsenal to power through at the end: 3 -1

Three goals? Did we just write that? They must have put something in this coffee…

TEAM

Lehman,
Eboue, Toure, Galas, Clichy,
Rosicky, Diaby, Cesk, Hleb
Aliadere, Adebayor

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Arsenal couldn’t beat a pub team!

What a shambles PSV were last night against Liverpool. They were playing like a pub team and Liverpool took them apart. Granted they were missing Alex, desperately, but as Yan Molby said on Radio 5 Live “the Arsenal supporters.. what they must be thinking …that they could not beat this lot”. And that is exactly what was probably in many Arsenal supporters’ minds watching the game.

Liverpool had in addition two other necessary ingredients during the game. Goal scoring ability and proper defending. Not that the latter was really needed but as we always say “good defending, like good refereeing, always goes unnoticed”. And when you compare Arsenal’s defensive performance against the same team then you know what we mean. And as far as goal scoring is concerned we all know how ineffectual Arsenal were in their tie with PSV and of course for the whole of this season.

Can Liverpool go all the way? They are certainly capable and they have now bolstered their midfield with a very important player –Mascherano- a player Arsene was interested in signing a few seasons ago after he was impressed with him during a pre season tournament in Amsterdam.

Chelsea have the toughest tie in our opinion. They are not as penetrating as they used to be when they had Joe Cole and Duff. Joe Cole is likely to be on the bench tonight and with Robben not available then their options, especially if they need to turn the game round, will be limited. Trying to play through the middle, as they have tried to do this season by signing Ballack, will jeopardise their chances. But they are a strong team with determination and when you are strong in these areas things can happen for you.

Manchester United will be bolstered by the return to the squad of Saha. But is he fit? Will he play? Probably not. so their attacking options are very limited. Add to this the absence of Vidic with O’shea playing in defence tonight and it does not look good for Man United.


Good luck to them all.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Reasons to be cheerful. Arsenal to challenge for the title next season.

We wish to remind all those doom merchants that there are a lot of things right about Arsenal. AW has assembled a young and very gifted squad which will be around for the next ten years. No other premiership team has so much talent on its books. Do not forget that the youngsters went all the way to the final of the Carling Cup.
As analysed before ( Arsenal's transfer targets) AW needs to add, at the most, three experienced players to supplement the current squad: a goalkeeper (if Lehmann leaves), a pacy winger and a forward. And we mean experienced. Not young players who have to ask permission from their parents to play in evening kick off games..
When the inadequacies of the team are rectified Arsenal will challenge once again for the title and will keep on challenging for years as the young players mature.

Anelka for sale ?

An interesting piece of news came out of Bolton recently. It quoted Sam Allardyce saying that if the right price was offered he will let Anelka go! Reading between the lines it seems that Anelka wants out as he has done in all his previous employments. He has not stayed at one club for more than two seasons. We think and have written about it before, Anelka should be considered seriously by AW as he has significant skills and goal scoring ability that will enhance Arsenal’s forward line significantly.

The beautiful game and how to make it better.

Our suggestions with regard to improving the beautiful game,
The beautiful game and how to make it better which appeared in a previous posting were picked up by the Independent Newspaper (because we sent them on)! One item made the list of readers’ suggestions that the newspaper published. This related to less serious offences in the penalty area for which we recommended that a secondary penalty be awarded.

A friend has 8 shares in Arsenal!

A good friend is the proud owner of eight Arsenal shares that were bought more than 25 years ago for a pittance. Now they are worth thousands of pounds. But more importantly he is wishing that he may end up holding the balance of power if a prospective buyer requires a few more shares to take control of Arsenal
!