Previous names: Dial Square, Royal Arsenal, Woolwich Arsenal

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Are these the top four players for Arsenal in January?

By 1970’s Gooner

January was a better month for Arsenal FC when compared to December where the first defeat of the season was inflicted by Middlesbrough and points were also dropped against Newcastle at St James Park.

In January we saw a rejuvenated Arsenal helped by the return to fitness and the first 11 of Fabregas and Flamini. The low point however was the 5-1 defeat by Tottenham in the semi final of the Carling Cup.

In the League the only points dropped were at home against Birmingham but there were wonderful performances against West Ham, Fulham and the two games against Newcastle.

During these games we have seen certain players that have been outstanding and stood out from the rest. These are my top four for January.

4. Eduardo da Silva

The real deal; the real fox in the box that we have been missing. What a goal he scored against West Ham. Control with the chest a little swivel of the feet and bang one nil up!

Eduardo is really coming on at a much faster pace than one could have anticipated. They say it takes 6 months to a year for a non British player to acclimatize to the football in the premiership. He is doing it at double the pace.

He obviously got a lot better the more games he played which have allowed him to get acquainted with his fellow players and the ferocity of the Premier League.

These are his highlights during the month:

-has scored against Burnley in the FA Cup (in that relaxed style he adopts in front of the goalkeeper),

- laid on a beautifully weighted assist for Walcott to score the equalizer against Spurs in the semi final of the carling Cup at The Emirates,

- created the third goal against Fulham for Rosicky,

- won the penalty from which Adebayor scored against Birmingham

- it was the rebound from his shot against the post that Adebayor picked up to score his first against Newcastle in the Cup

- and finally it was from his screen on the Newcastle defender that allowed Adebayor to race through and score his second against Newcastle in the same game

Not a lot is it?

Eduardo stats (for all league games so far)

Total passes 259

Accurate passes 198
Passes successful 76 %

Assists 2

Attempts at goal 18
Attempts on target 6
Goals 3

Tacles 11
Tackles won 7
Tackle success 64 %

3. Gael Clichy

He has got a very deserved call up in the France squad at last. Domenech has finally realized what us gooners have been witnessing week in week out.

Clichy is a young gun but he keeps putting in performances like a wise old head. A consistent performer at the top of his game putting in top quality defending coupled with offensive forays and penetration on the wing.

He plays well with either Hleb or Rosicky on the wing as they tend to come infield to join the midfield thus allowing more space for the young defender to surge forward.

What a find by Wenger. I have said it before: Ashley Cole, thanks for leaving Arsenal mate….

Highlight of the month for Gael is his wonderful cross for Adebayor to score his first header against Fulham

Clichy stats (for all games so far)

Fouls 26

Tacles 99
Tackles won 83
Tackle success 84 %

Assists 4

Total passes 1125
Accurate passes 933
Passes successful 83 %

Attempts at goal 7
Attempts on target 2

2. Emmanuel Adebayor

Adebayor showed glimpses of what was to come in January during the pevious months with the wonderful goals he scored notably at Aston Villa and Newcastle away and against Spurs at home.

But he exploded in January. Not only has he continued his scoring streak he has improved his all round play enormously with his control and lay offs to fellow players improving enormously.

These are his highlights during the month:

- a goal against west Ham from an acute an angle as you can imagine

- his two beautifully headed goals against Fulham away

- the three goals he scored against Newcastle at home (for the league and the Cup)

This guy is hot. He keeps scoring and once you get into the habit it gets easier and easier as the confidence level soars.

Adebayor stats (for all league games so far)

Total passes 800

Accurate passes 629
Passes successful 78 %

Assists 1

Attempts at goal 73
Attempts on target 27
Goals 16

Tacles 15
Tackles won 11
Tackle success 73

1. Mathieu Flamini

He's not just been amazingly awesome; he's been our most consistent player and hasn't had a single bad game all year.

When he doesn't play the midfield always seems to look weak. We give away more cheap goals, seem to lack pace and there's no bite.

Not only has he been defensively brilliant this year, he seems to be much sharper and quicker on the ball and a technically more skillful player.

He runs a thousand miles more than his colleagues, sweeps up in defence at dangerous moments and also goes forward when required.

His assist of a precise cross onto Adebayor’s head for him to score Arsenal’s first and decisive goal against Newcastle in the recent League game was outstanding.

But the goal he scored in the same game was beautifully struck from 25 yards and the moment the shot left his boot you knew it was going to fly in the top right hand corner.

Flamini stats (for all league games so far)

Total passes 1157
Accurate passes 997
Passes successful 86 %

Assists 2

Attempts at goal 28
Attempts on target 8
Goals 3

Tacles 55
Tackles won 34
Tackle success 62 %

Choosing between these four has been very difficult. Clichy has been quite impressive and Eduardo has really come on. But for me the real difficulty was choosing between Adebayor’s goal scoring and Flamini’s all powerful box to box performances. A very difficult choice indeed.

You can “voice” your opinion by leaving a comment and also vote on the poll we have set up on the matter.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Flamini is undroppable and one of the best players in the League

By Ryan (The Flamster) Hill

Who would have seriously predicted it?

I think I and many other Gooners thought he always had fantastic commitment and work rate, a great attitude and some decent ability but I must admit I didn't think we'd miss him if he left last summer.

SO wrong.

He's not just been amazingly awesome; he's been our most consistent player and hasn't had a single bad game all year.

When he doesn't play the midfield always seems to look weak now. We give away more cheap goals, seem to lack pace and there's no bite.

The best thing about the Flamster is that opposition players are terrified of him. They often give the ball away cheaply just when they hear his foot steps behind them.

And I love nothing more than seeing yet another misplaced pass because someone was shit scared that he was gonna get them any moment.

Not only has he been defensively brilliant this year, but he seems to be much sharper and quicker on the ball and generally a technically more skillful player in general.

His assist was something any winger would be proud of and let's not forget that he's just as good at right AND left back as in Central Midfield. I can't believe what a player he's turning into this year, he's playing like the captain and ruling everything.

There're few things I like more in the world than saying I was well off the mark when it came to predicting a player's potential as not really being good enough for the arse.

Top marks Matty, now sign a f***ing 6 year contract and we can all forget about a Central Midfielder again any time in the next well....6 years.

Ed: This is a comment left on our site which we thought deserved to be published. Thanks to Ryan (The Flamster) Hill for that.

If you have something to get off your chest on this subject or anything else about Arsenal then leave a message in the comments section with your e mail address and we will get back to you.

Thanks for all your good words recently about the site.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Player analysis and ratings Vs Newcastle. Flamboyant Flamini Flames the Emirates up

By 1970’s Gooner

They say that patience is a virtue. And Arsenal were very patient tonight. They kept probing and playing their passing game until eventually Newcastle caved in. But they didn’t cave in due to asphyxiating bullying pressure like Manchester United tends to put opponents under.

No, they caved in due to Arsenal’s superior football technique. This is more pleasing as it is a superiority that is borne out of pure football.

It is however an attribute that is risky to possess because if the team is having an off day then it may find it difficult to switch to any other style of football. It is also risky because you are always exposed to the sucker punch (remember Birmingham at the Emirates)?

So it was just as well that Newcastle were again toothless with Owen still looking out of match practice. Alan Smith was also not much of a partner as he was obviously instructed to drop back into the midfield. And as is his usual style he sacrifices what little football he knows for tenacity and fouling.

Still Arsenal needed Flamini to play probably his best game for the team in order to overcome a resolute Newcastle side where Butt was outstanding in his midfield destructive role.

Flamini however was outstanding in all aspects of his game. He did not put a foot wrong or a pass astray.

He was excellent in his midfield role running a thousand miles more than his colleagues, swept up in defence at dangerous moments and chipped in with an outstanding assist of a precise cross onto Adebayor’s head for him to score Arsenal’s first and decisive goal.

Make a note of this. Arsenal have scored from another header!

Flamini was also flamboyant and you don’t always say that about him. But the goal he scored was beautifully struck from 25 yards and the moment the shot left his boot you knew it was going to fly in the top right hand corner. It’s the kind of goal every one of us dreamed of scoring as a kid.

I have not witnessed a more complete performance from an Arsenal player this season yet. I think he deserves a 10

Adebayor impressed me a lot tonight. His control was very good, he held up play well and brought his team mates into the game. Scored a beautifully taken goal. 9

Eduardo was below par. He found himself in a few dangerous situations but fluffed his chances. 6

Diaby on the other hand is improving every game. This is because he is now becoming a team player and is using his strength and skill for the benefit of the whole. He is still a little bit slow to release the ball but at least he is releasing it and on most occasions to the right player. 7

Hleb was again full of trickery and kept himself on the wing and in this way helped keep Newcastle stretched; which was the intention of course.7

Fabregas was again below par with his passing needing more accuracy. He is not bossing the midfield the way he used to at the beginning of he season. He looks a tired player to me but when can Wenger rest him?

Nevertheless even if playing below par he still is quite influential. He is back in the goals again and this may kick start his come back. 7

Gallas doesn’t look like he needs a rest. He was commanding in the air and on the ground. He relaxed a little bit too much in the end when we were 3-0 up and nearly let Ameobe in but Almunia saved well. 8

Senderos on the other hand keeps failing on his distribution. Any ball he tries to pass that will be more than 10 yards he gets wrong. He either passes to an opponent or puts his colleague under pressure.

Nevertheless this would give an unfair view of his contribution in the game. He was otherwise faultless, strong in the air and on the ground. 7

Clichy again gave an almost faultless performance. What else can I say! Wenger seems to produce these type of left backs one after the other. Ashley Cole, Gael Clichy, Armando Traore and Evina (if you watch him for the under 18’s you will know what I mean). 8

Sagna is back to his best. Strong in defence and was penetrative going forward beyond the opposing fullback. 8

Almunia was and looked very safe. He was comfortable in the air and on the ground. But he is also lightning quick out of his area playing almost as a sweeper. 8

Man of the Match: Mathieu Flamini

Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea: Six factors that will affect the outcome of the title

By 1970’s Gooner

The second round of the Premier League has begun. At this stage of the proceedings Liverpool are lagging behind by 14 points from the top.

It appears that their chances have diminished and if they are to have a realistic chance of winning the title the other top three will ALL have to slip up badly. This seems unlikely.

The analysis that follows therefore considers six factors that will affect the run in to the title for the three leaders.

1. Ugly Betty but pretty effective

This is an attribute that characterises all championship winning teams. To be able to churn out results when the team is not playing well.

Manchester United have been able to win games when not at their best as was quite evident at the beginning of the season.

This was when Tevez was still trying to find his feet and Ferguson was still trying to accommodate both Roonie and Tevez in the same 11. Examples are the home win over Tottenham, the two wins over Everton and the away win at Liverpool.

Chelsea seems to have carried on where Mourinho left. A rock solid defence which provides the springboard to score the crucial goal to clinch the game. We have seen it often this season notably against Birmingham, Bolton, West Ham and Newcastle.

On this issue Arsenal seems to have improved this year.

The best example is the away win at Aston Villa where the second half performance was hard graft with Arsenal “winning ugly” in direct contrast to the beautiful performance of the first half. The 4-1 mauling of Everton at Goodison Park and the victories over Chelsea and Spurs at the Emirates also stand out.

Not much to choose between them here.

2. To absent friends

Everyone, inclusive of Arsene Wenger, thought that the team to suffer most from the absence of key players to the Africa Nations Cup would be Chelsea. This indeed is very logical as they have three (if not all four) key first team players away on duty.

And they are very important players in the Chelsea line up: John Obi Mikel (Nigeria), Didier Drogba, Saloman Kalou (Ivory Coast) and Michael Essien (Ghana).

However the results have still to back up this theory. Notable examples are the hard fought victories against Tottenham and Birmingham.

If Chelsea manages to get away with it for another two weeks then they will indeed be real title contenders. Their remaining games until the African players come back are Reading (h) Portsmouth (A) and Liverpool (H).

Arsenal have lost three players to the ANC ( Toure, Eboue and Song) but really its Toure’s absence that may hurt most. Will Senderos (Djourou is out injured) be able to stand in without making telling mistakes as he has sometimes done in the past? He has been fine so far.….

Arsenal’s next three games before Toure returns are Newcastle (H), Manchester City (A) and Blackburn (H).

On the other hand Manchester United have only one player (Manucho of Angola) on duty in the ANC and he hasn’t kicked a ball for them yet! So they obviously have an advantage over their main rivals.

3. You are only as good as your bench

They say that in football you are only as good as your bench. And in the marathon that is called The Premier League the strength in depth that exists in a team’s squad is a very important determinant for the title race.

Chelsea seem to have the best squad in this respect. There is the addition of Anelka in particular and the expected returns to first team action by the likes of Terry, Lampard and the ANC absentees.

There is also Cudiccini, Ferreira, Wayne Bridge, Ben-Haim, new signing Ivanovic, Sidwell, Ballack, Makelele, Malouda and Pizzaro to name a few of the “reserves”.

By contrast Manchester United seem to be lacking adequate cover in the defensive positions. O’Shea, Brown, Piquet and Simpson although good players cannot really be compared to Vidic, Ferdinand, Neville and Evra. Remember when Piqué played in defense at Bolton?

There is also a deficit in the forward positions. Saha although a very good player is injury prone and therefore cannot be relied upon to be a fit replacement should Rooney or Tevez become unavailable.

Giggs could play in that role but he is a much more effective player when deployed as a wide midfield player.

And if Ronaldo should become unavailable Nani and Park are there; but really Ronaldo is irreplaceable and his absence if it happens may prove to be a big loss.

Arsenal also have a deficit in the depth of the squad. This is more apparent in the central defensive positions and in central midfield.

As discussed above the cover for centre back rests on Senderos and Djourou who have not really convinced yet.

For the midfield positions it is very difficult to think that anyone can replace Fabregas and Flamini with anywhere near the same effect. This was quite evident when these two became unavailable for a run of games recently where Arsenal dropped points at Newcastle and Middlesbrough.

4. Room for improvement?

Manchester United are playing at their full potential. Ferguson has got them performing at their maximum efficiency and it is difficult to point to an area where a significant improvement can be achieved considering the resources available.

So the question that is raised is: Will Manchester United manage to maintain this form till the end?

Will Ronaldo who is on top of his game and has sometimes won games single handedly be able to maintain the impressive form he is in at the moment for another 15 or so League games? Will Van De Sar, Ferdinand, Vidic, Rooney, Tevez? I personally have my doubts. But you may think otherwise.

On the other hand Chelsea have not been playing at their full potential. Injuries to key players have seen to that. There is definitely a lot of room for improvement there when Terry, Lampard and the others return to action.

Arsenal also have not been at their top best, yet they are sharing top spot with Manchester United. Although Fabregas started the season on top form he has gone off the boil recently.

His distribution has waned and his goal scoring has disappeared. There is room for improvement there alright.

In attack although Arsenal has scored the most goals in the premiership (along with Manchester United) there is still room there to improve.

Van Persie has been out and it was not until recently when Adebayor and in particular Eduardo begun to click into form that the attack became more productive.

When Van Persie returns Arsenal’s attack will become more potent especially if Wenger finds a way to accommodate all three forwards (Eduardo, Adebayor and Van Persie).

Arsenal is a relatively young side that is improving all round at a fast pace even from game to game. This factor should not be overlooked.

5. Mind the gap

All well and good. All three teams have certain attributes that are important in the title race but the gap that exists between Chelsea and the other two, although only four points, is a difficult enough distance to cover.

It’s not by any means unachievable of course, as leads as high as twelve points have been squandered before, as we all know.

But for this to happen it requires both front runners to falter and at the same time for Chelsea to be almost faultless. And this is even if Chelsea have home games against all their rivals to come.

There is certainly not a lot of room for error here. The merest slip up and Chelsea will fall further behind.

Manchester United and Arsenal however are locked at the top. They can’t afford to slip up but at least they start on an equal footing.

6. Done it before, got the T shirt and the video

Experience counts. Having been at the top before and involved in a tight title race means a lot. Nerves and anxiety will inevitably set in and the team that knows how to handle it will have a better chance of being successful. Manchester United and Chelsea are ahead of Arsenal on this count.

Manchester United have done it last year (and many times before) and Chelsea still contain the nucleus of the team that were champions two seasons ago.

Arsenal surprisingly have a few players from the last Championship winning squad, the Invincibles of 2004 (and also the Champions League Final squad), like Toure, Gilberto, Fabregas, Senderos, Robin van Persie, Lehmann, Flamini and Clichy.

However they are still a young team and when compared to the other two relatively short of title winning experience.


It’s difficult to decide which of the above will have a bigger bearing on the championship race. All of them can potentially become significant title deciding factors by themselves.

For example, either Arsenal or Manchester United, who don’t have a lot of strength in depth, may get a bad run of injuries which may allow Chelsea to come back at them.

Or Chelsea who is already four points away from the others may slip up unexpectedly and get left further behind.

Or Manchester United manage to maintain their recent form and simply walk away with the title.

And Arsenal recapture the form of the beginning of the season and continue improving so much that they surpass their rivals at the post.

Take your pick.

My thinking on the matter is:

-Chelsea’s four point deficit may prove too difficult to make up in the end

- Manchester United will find it difficult to maintain their recent performance levels

- Arsenal will carry on improving at a faster rate than their rivals

Monday, January 28, 2008

Arsenal holding talks with Woodgate at lunchtime today as Spurs are livid

By Aries

As you all may be aware Arsenal have made an 11th hour bid for Jonathan Woodgate.

Apparently an Arsenal official rang Keith Lamb, Boro’s chief executive and asked him if it was too late to make a bid for Woodgate by matching Spurs offer!

According to The Northern Echo Lamb then disclosed this bid to Spurs sporting director Damien Comolli, who was once working for Arsenal and Arsene Wenger. He and the rest of his colleagues at Tottenham were livid!

Arsenal are prepared to match Spurs offer of an 8m pounds transfer fee and a three and a half year deal for Woodgate with wages of 60.000 pounds per week. The player is reported to be heading for talks this lunch time with Arsene Wenger and his team.

"We agreed a fee with Tottenham, Newcastle and another club but we left it up to Jonathan, he could stay or go." Lamb said to TalkSport.

This follows reports in the press recently linking Arsenal with another centre back Everton’s Jeolean Lescott whom I would consider as more viable alternative than Woodgate.

I have followed Lescott’s rise to football “stardom” when he first appeared for Wolves as an 18 year old and I always thought that he was good enough to play for Arsenal.

Woodgate on the other hand although a very good center back happens to very injury prone as his record with Leeds, Real Madrid and Middlesbrough clearly shows.

However I remember having similar feelings when Arsene Wenger signed a winger called Overmars who was very injury prone and had not played competitive football for a long time.

Everyone was raising their eyebrows but he turned out to be one of Wenger’s most successful signings.

Arsene knows as they say…..

This 11th hour move for Woodgate however must be probably connected with bad news about Toure who was stretchered off the Ivory Coast’s game against Benin two days ago. I hope it is not of course.


Arsenal have reported that they are not interested in signing Woodgate nor did they approach Boro with an offer.You can read up about it at

Also to those who seem to believe that this article on Arsenal Analysis is a fabrication: The iformation used for this article as the post mentions is the newspaper "Northern Echo" and you can read the relevant article here.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Vela is ready for the Premier League Walcott not yet

By 1970’s Gooner

I watched the game between Sevilla and Carlos Velas’s team Osasuna last night as I am sure a lot of Arsenal fans did.

The game was played at a terrific pace with a lot of passion, hard challenges and high intensity from both sides. It was like watching a Premier league game.

I had made of point of watching Carlos Vela before so that I would be able to form my own opinion of the lad.

He was after all a relatively recent Arsenal signing and obviously any youngster who is spotted and signed by Wenger must have the special qualities of exceptional technique and skills (coupled with a good character).

When Vela signed a permanent deal at Arsenal at the beginning of the year Wenger was 100% convinced of his ability.

"He's top class. I like his intelligence and his pace. He scores goals but he can also create them. "He's a special talent and I believe 100 per cent that he will make it at the highest level."

So I watched him during the summer in the FIFA Under 20’s World Cup which took place in Canada but I was not that impressed.

He was not involved much during the games and stayed peripheral to the action. He was however deployed more in the centre forward areas of the pitch or just behind the forward rather than the wings.

He played in all five matches but Mexico were knocked out at the Quarter-Final stage by eventual winners Argentina.

He has since been loaned out to Osasuna in Spain (he was on loan previously to second Division outfit Salamanca) and has been almost a regular for Osasuna in recent games.

So I made the point of watching him in action again against Real Madrid last month a game which Osasuna lost 3-0.

I was very pleasantly surprised and hugely impressed with his performance as he was a constant thorn on Real Madrid’s defense who had their hands full to contain him. They more often than not reverted to fouling him. He was that quick.

On one occasion he nut megged Sergio Ramos from a very tight position on the corner line and left him wondering where the ball was.

He reminded me of a committed and energetic Reyes who was forever dribbling past his marker with pace and ease only to be felled to the floor unceremoniously. He looked like a carbon copy.

He was playing on the left hand side of midfield, as an out and out old fashioned winger. Osasuna’s counter attacking tactics suited his style of play very well. And he certainly ran the line with exceptional technique and skill.

He put in a similar performance last night again Sevilla. On this occasion it was the highly rated and much sought after transfer target, left back Daniel Alves who had to endure the young man’s pace and trickery.

Alves spent a lot of the game bombing forward and then trying to catch up when his team lost the ball which was reckless enough as Vela is quite fast anyway. It was no wonder that most of Osasuna’s threat and goal originated from the left hand side of Sevilla’s defence.

This game came after Arsenal had taken care of Newcastle in the afternoon. And since the Osasuna clash against Sevilla had a lot of the characteristics of a Premier League game I couldn’t help comparing Velas’s performance against Walcott’s inept showing which preceded it.

Ok Walcott played better than in his last outing against Spurs but still looked a long way behind in his development than Velas did against Sevilla.

The difference was obvious to me. Walcott looked shorn of confidence and on occasions was not strong enough to keep the defenders from brushing him away.

He also lacked good control of the ball (which as a result meant that Arsenal’s attacks kept breaking down until he was moved to the flank) and was not near as penetrative enough as Vela was.

In contrast Vela looked assured, full of confidence and trickery and was able to go past his defender with more ease.

In fact when he was moved to the middle of the attack late in the game he was strong enough to hold the central defender breathing down his neck and use his skill to hold the ball. In this way he relieved his team of the pressure they were under.

If he were with the Arsenal squad right now I think he would have been starting the games and not Walcott. He is that ready.

Both Walcott and Vela are very young boys but overall Vela looks far more advanced in his development and is able to cut it against the big boys.

Walcott is still a work in progress.

(Contrary to a lot of, what proved to be totally unfounded, speculation on the internet, Vela will not return to Arsenal now but in the coming summer. Earlier in this article I likened him to Reyes. Let’s hope when he comes back he takes to the English weather better than Reyes did).

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Toure injury fears reported to be easing

By 1970’s Gooner

Kolo Toure, moments after teeing up his brother,Yaya to score the Ivory Coast’s second goal on the 44th minute was stretchered off holding his groin.

The injury looked bad but the player himself has been reported to have said after the game that he expected to recover in time for the next match against Mali in Accra on Tuesday!

This now is confirmed by a team official who said he expected Kolo to be available for the next game.

“His injury is not important. When he first came off it looked bad but now he is okay and recovering. We think he will be fit for the next game on Tuesday" said Ouattara Hego, general secretary of the Federation Ivoirienne de Football.

This assessment looks rushed to me as it comes even before the player has had a chance to have a scan that would have determined the extent of the injury.

If a player comes off a football pitch holding his groin unable to walk then it looks pretty serious to me. Usually with a mild groin strain a player will probably be out for two to three weeks. If it is more serious then the recovery may take 6 weeks or longer.

If he makes the mistake of playing with the injury then he runs the risk of aggravating it even further and may be causing long term damage.

I am sure Arsene Wenger will have something to say about this.

Player analysis and ratings Vs Newcastle. Adebayor hot on the double

By 1970’s Gooner

Adebayor is on a hot streak. He keeps scoring and once you get into the habit it gets easier and easier as the confidence level soars. I think he might be forgiven for the spat with Bendtner at Spurs last Tuesday. 9

Walcott was almost as anonymous as the origin of a lot of the comments left on this site! He started in the middle but as in last Tuesday’s game he couldn’t keep the ball and the Arsenal attacks kept breaking down. And in football as we know all the parts of the jig saw have to be in place for the team to be able to perform at its top best.

It wasn’t till the unfortunate Rosicky got injured and replaced by the impressive Eduardo that Walcott’s incompetence on the day was displaced in other less central areas of the pitch. 5

Eduardo is really coming on at a much faster pace than one could have anticipated. They say it takes 6 months to a year for a non British player to acclimatize to the football in the premiership. He is doing it at double the pace.

You might wonder why I am eulogizing so much about Eduardo when clearly Adebayor run the show in attack. The answer is that Robin Van Persie is out with an injury which we don’t know how long will take to clear. They got it wrong the last time he came back so this time they might take their time about it. He will also need time to get back to full fitness.

It is gods send that Eduardo therefore has been scoring goals and has began contributing so well to the cause. 8

A very well deserved praise must also go to Senderos. He was faultless both in the air and on the ground.

He seems to me to be a type of player that needs a run of games to get into his stride. He was better with his distribution too.

He is another important squad player that will be really needed now that Toure’s injury at the ANC might sideline him longer than the actual tournament would have. 8

Hoyte is another player that I think needs a run of games to find his feet. He made up for his inept performance at White Hart Lane. He covered well defensively and also went forward. 8

Lehmann looked assured under the goalposts. He didn’t have too much to do but what he did he did well. His decision to stay until the end of the year is another godsend for Arsenal as Fabiansky’s performance the other night left a lot of doubts for me. 8

Gallas was again steady and strong. He is also guiding the young guns in defence next to him especially Senderos who seems to play well when he is next to an experienced old head. Remember Senderos’s mistakes against Tottenham were made playing against another youngster Djourou (and vice versa of course). 8

Clichy is a young gun but he keeps putting in performances like a wise head. I keep eulogizing about him every week but I can’t help it. Strong and wily in defence and powerful going forward. Is there anyone out there that agrees with me? 9

Another factor that was missing at Tottenham was the fighting spirit and protection given to the defence by Flamini.

The difference was so obvious. He not only runs a lot of miles he is also very tenacious and along with Fabregas fight like hell to win the ball back when it is lost. 8

Fabregas is returning back to form but he is not quite there yet. He was much better in he second half when he started spraying the ball around as well as only he knows how. 8

Finally Diaby was again too slow on the ball often choosing to hold on to it rather than make the obvious pass. However he was doing it a lot less than of late and as a result he was more of a team player than before. There is no doubt this boy is a very good player and when he is given his chance in the middle of the pitch he will be a revelation. 6.5

The most pleasing of all is that the team is back to winning ways. It was very important to bounce back after that drubbing at Spurs.

Man of the Match: Adebayor

Friday, January 25, 2008

Kolo Toure stretchered off the Africa Nations Cup

By 1970’s Gooner

Kolo Toure, moments after teeing up his brother,Yaya to score the Ivory Coast’s second goal on the 44th minute was stretchered off holding his groin.

The Ivory Coast went on to win the game comfortably with the impressive Drogba scoring the first goal in the 40th minute.

The Toure brothers combined for the second, with Kolo, in one of his last actions before going off, picking up the ball at the back post after Yaya had missed heading home a corner.

Kolo then showed great feet to control possession before sliding across a lovely low pass that his younger brother was able to tap into the net.

Drogba set up Dindane and also Keita for the third and fourth goals of the game.

It could have been many more goals scored for the Ivorians as Benin got a consolation goal.

Kolo’s injury will have to be assessed but if it is a mild groin strain then he will probably be out for two to three weeks.

If it is more serious then the recovery may take 6 weeks or longer.

The tournament lasts till the 10th of February which is only two weeks away giving Toure hardly enough time to recover.

In fact his participation in Arsenal’s game against Blackburn on the 11th of February and also nine days later against AC Milan in the Champions League is now doubtful.

Let us hope that his injury is not as serious as feared.

Wenger watches Mputu's trial as young gun scores in the friendly

By Aries

As first reported on this site Tresor Mputu’s club,TP Mazembe, have been invited by Arsene Wenger himself to London for a series of friendlies, including Arsenal.

Mputu has already finished a ten day trial period at London Colney last November but as yet there are no official news. This is after Wenger himself stated that he was impressed with the player and the player’s agent predicting that the deal was as good as done!

This new “trial” was intended to give Arsene Wenger one last opportunity to have another close look at Tresor Mputu in action against strong opposition in as real a match situation as possible.

The friendly game took place yesterday in a climate characterised by bitter winter cold and very strong winds.

Arsenal fielded a reserve side but this didn’t stop them winning the game by a goal scored in the 53rd minute by Mark Randall with a shot from outside the area. Mazembe’s defence thought that James Dunne was in an offside position but the referee ruled their protests away.

After the match Arsene Wenger acknowledged the job done by the technical staff of Mazembe and the direction the club is taking.

“It is really rare to meet a similar club coming from Africa. I say it because I have many African players. The only thing which is necessary to correct is the vision in the last thirty metres of the pitch”.

And to show how seriously Wenger takes such trials he had even timed certain players during the game!

He said “The players have to be fully committed and not spend half of their time on the pitch walking. I timed certain players, they more walked than they ran”!!!

Tresor Mputu did not have a good trial. He carried a thigh injury with him before he came to London which the medical staff of Mazembe thought had cleared. It flared up again and this affected his performance.

According to the coach of Mazembe, Santos Muntubile, Mputu’s injury and the cold affected the overall performance of his team.

“We were affected by the cold, and then, Treasury Mputu played at only 20 % of his normal capacity, because of his wound in the thigh” he said to radiookapi after the match.

Mputu has a host of other clubs interested in his signature, including Standard Liege of Belgium and that is where Mazembe and Mputu are headed after their series of friendlies in London.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The myths about Adebayor and Bendtner

By 1970’s Gooner

There is a lot of bullshit being published by the newspapers about the Adebayor vs Bendtner “affair”.

Myth number 1: Adebayor head butted Bendtner

Although photographs in the press show the Arsenal players involved in a mild confrontation, the footage of the actual alleged butt itself is difficult to discern.

The video shows captain Gallas stepped in to try to calm matters down before himself being confronted by the angry Bendtner. Juding by the video footage they will have a hard job deciding what happened as it is not clear at all.

Myth number 2: Bendtner had blood on his shirt and a gash on his nose

There is nothing on the TV footage and in any of the photos to indicate that Bendtner has indeed suffered a gash on his nose nor is there any blood on his shirt.

Myth number 3: Adebayor told Bendtner 'I'm only on because you are so s**t'

Yea I can actually confirm that this is indeed what Adebayor said to Bendtner. A Danish friend of mine close to Nicklas and his family actually confirmed to me that this is true!!!

BULLSHIT of course.

And if you believe this then you will believe anything. Where do you think this quote has originated form? In that well respected and trusted daily newspaper called the Sun! Where else? From a source!!

Read what the paper says:

A source said: “The first thing Adebayor said to Bendtner was ‘I’m only on because you are so s**t!’ "He has been on Bendtner’s case for a long time.

“The pair do not get on and it finally boiled over on Tuesday night when Adebayor came on as a sub with the team 4-0 down.

“Bendtner ignored him — but when Adebayor said the same thing again later on, Nicklas gave Manny the finger and it all kicked off.”

What should Arsenal do?

Nothing has been confirmed yet. Yes there has been an altercation but it may be no more than that. Arsenal should wait and see what the FA come up with. If they deem that there should be a punishment then accept it. But only then, not before.

In fact the latest news is that the FA will not take any action! They probably have seen through the myths!

The Sun should be asked to retract that story too.

Mputu comes back on trial at Arsenal again as Wenger has second thoughts

By Aries

As first reported on this site Tresor Mputu’s club,TP Mazembe, have been invited by Arsene Wenger himself to London for a series of friendlies, including Arsenal.

Mputu has already finished a ten day trial period at London Colney last November but as yet there are no official news. This is after Wenger himself stated that he was impressed with the player and the player’s agent predicting that the deal was as good as done!

This new “trial” will give Arsene Wenger one last opportunity to have another close look at Tresor Mputu in action against strong opposition in as real a match situation as possible.

TP Mazembe arrived in London last Sunday and have already began using Arsenal’s training ground preparing for their series of friendly games.

Arsene Wenger himself welcomed his guests and told them to feel at home. According to TP Mazembe’s official site Arsene Wenger said to Mputu:

“I hope that this time you really consider yourself as part of the family and I shall again want to see you work as you did last time”.

Interestingly enough Mputu was recommended to Wenger by his long time friend Roland Scheubel whose judgement about potential talent is highly thought of by Wenger.

When Scheubel recommended Wenger look at a young Ivorian, Wenger listened. He needed little convincing to give Kolo Toure his chance and a transfer fee of around £150,000 was soon paid to his club, ASEC Mimosas. The rest is history.

Scheubel has been at London Colney to meet up with Mazembe and Mputu. He is pictured here with Mazembe’s Financial director Salomon Idi.

Arsenal’s friendly against Mazembe is scheduled for today, Thursday 24th January and it provides Mputu with one last opportunity to impress Wenger and make his dream to move to the Premier league a reality.

But he has a host of other clubs interested in his signature inclusive of Standard Liege of Belgium and that is where Mazembe and Mputu will be continuing their series of friendly games after they leave London Colney.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Wenger’s “top class” Vela scores another goal for Osasuna (plus video)

By 1970’s Gooner

Osasuna grabbed three crucial points last Sunday with a 2-0 victory over Athletic Bilbao. Both sides played out a tense match in a thick blanket of fog, with few chances in the first half.

Osasuna did most of the attacking but things got a lot easier for the hosts midway through the second half when Fran Yeste was sent off after head-butting Osasuna defender Miguel Flaño.

Osasuna took advantage of their superiority and only five minutes later Dady managed to break the deadlock after firing in a free-kick which deflected off a defender.

Arsenal’s Mexican winger Carlos Vela extended the advantage two minutes later with a powerful volley ensuring a key victory for Osasuna which moved them away from the relegation area.

Vela’s goal on the 68th minute, which you can see on the video on the right hand side of this page, was a beautiful volley from inside the area low on the goalkeeper’s left. This is his fourth goal of the season which comes as reward for his positive all round play.

Having watched him on a few occasions for Osasuna this year I can see why Wenger has described him as “ top class”.

"He's top class. I like his intelligence and his pace. He scores goals but he can also create them. "He's a special talent and I believe 100 per cent that he will make it at the highest level" Wenger said when he signed him on a permanent deal at the beginning of this year.

Contrary to a lot of, what proved to be totally unfounded, speculation on the internet, Vela will not return to Arsenal now but in the coming summer.

Video footage of bust up inconclusive as Adebayor apologises

By 1970’s Gooner

Although photographs in today's press show the Arsenal players involved in a mild confrontation, the footage of the actual alleged butt itself is difficult to discern. You can make up your own mind by watching the video of the incident here (on the side of this page).

The Football Association have requested television footage of the clash after referee Howard Webb confirmed he had not seen the entire incident.

The video shows captain Gallas stepped in to try to calm matters down before himself being confronted by the angry Bendtner. Eventually referee Webb had to intervene to restore order.

Apparently Bendtner had blood on his shirt and a gash on his nose. Adebayor was also restrained from going down the tunnel at the end of the game.

The video will be shown to Webb for his opinion. Should he indicate action would have been taken had he witnessed it the FA can then retrospectively issue charges.

Juding by the video footage they will have a hard job deciding what happened as it is not clear at all. However Adebayor has in the meantime apologised to Bendtner:

"I am sorry for the disagreement with my team-mate Nicklas. It was a mistake. We want to focus on the games ahead and rely on our squad's great togetherness to achieve a fantastic season” he said.

Spurs celebrated like kids last night as though they had won the Champions League, the Premier League and FA Cup. They seem to forget that it was mostly kids they were playing against.

Granted they played very well but as I said in my preview of this game, on many occasions in football you play as well as the other team let you. And Arsenal’s kids were not at their best last night.

Shocking performances from Walcott and Diaby coupled with goalkeeping errors at crucial points in the game proved too much for the young guns. Still this is why Wenger bloods them in at the deep end.

This experience will stand them in good stead for years to come as they take up the mantle of keeping Arsenal at the top of English and European football which is where Arsenal are destined to arrive.

The same cannot be said of Tottenham however who may have to make do with fourth rate Mickey Mouse Cups.

Spurs look to Wembley in Mickey Mouse Cup, Arsenal to the title and beyond

By 1970’s Gooner

It shows how big a gulf there is between Spurs and Arsenal when Wenger fields his B team throughout a competition which has been jokingly named the Mickey Mouse Cup while Spurs played their first eleven throughout.

They even rested their key players for this semi final second leg so that they could be ready to battle it out against a bunch of kids!

Arsenal’s B team reached the final last year losing narrowly against another first eleven, those of Chelsea! This year they steamrolled teams like Newcastle and Blackburn and battled hard to get a draw in the first leg of this semifinal.

Yet Spurs celebrated like kids last night as though they had won the Champions League, the Premier League and FA Cup. They seem to forget that it was mostly kids they were playing against.

Granted they played very well but as I said in my preview of this game, on many occasions in football you play as well as the other team let you. And Arsenal’s kids were not at their best last night.

Shocking performances from Walcott and Diaby coupled with goalkeeping errors at crucial points in the game proved too much for the young guns. Still this is why Wenger bloods them in at the deep end.

This experience will stand them in good stead for years to come as they take up the mantle of keeping Arsenal at the top of English and European football which is where Arsenal are destined to arrive.

The same cannot be said of Tottenham however who may have to make do with fourth rate Mickey Mouse Cups.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Arsenal can march to the final as Wenger drafts in experience for Spurs

By 1970’s Gooner

Let’s face it; in the first semi final at the Emirates we didn’t play well at all and we didn’t deserve to still go into tonight’s second leg at White Hart Lane with a real chance of reaching the final.

Arsene Wenger for reasons of prudence coupled with a desire to blood his youngsters early in at the deep end, fielded a team that lacked the necessary experience and nous to overcome a resolute and avenge seeking Spurs first team.

We nearly paid the price. But that is usually a good price to pay if the youngsters learn a lesson that will stand them in good stead in the near future when they will be called to take up arms against the big boys.

And this is a theme that is recurrent in all of Wenger’s teams over the years. A lot of his players begin young, inexperienced but fantastically skillful and they end up maturing into champions.

This theme was clearly in evidence last night at Birmingham where the young guns were pitted against opponents that you would classify as men in football yearspeak.

Birmingham had among others Forsell, Parnaby, Gary McSheffrey, De Ridder plus Colin Doyle in goal who all added a solid first-team edge in their ranks. But still the young boys of Arsenal gave them a run for their money and were on level terms until reduced to 10 men.

By fortune more than design Wenger’s hand is being forced to select some more experienced first teamers for tonight’s clash.

This is because Senderos who would have started along with Hoyte in central defence has a broken nose and Gallas the only other injury free (or ANC free) center back would surely have been protected for the more important contests that lie ahead.

This is just as well because one of the more glaring weaknesses that was evident during the first leg was the central defensive partnership of Djourou and Senderos.

They were very square and did not really work as a pair. Berbatov and Keane run them rugged with Berbatov dropping deep to receive the ball and with his trickery dictate play.

If Gallas had been in the line up things would have been a lot different in defence. He would have brought organisation, positional awareness and leadership.

This is what he will bring tonight.

As will Sagna who may have to play at right back as Hoyte looks like been drafted in the middle of the defence.

The other weakness that was apparent during the first leg also looks like being mitigated tonight.

Robin Van Pesie was not match fit and did not contribute much. At least for tonight Bendtner may be paired with Eduardo or with Walcott.

We would all probably prefer Eduardo but I think that Walcott with his pace will be more of a threat to the Spurs defence as he proved in the first leg by surging through the middle to score the equaliser. Eduardo may be kept on the bench for protection and also to be brought on if needed.

The absence of Eboue to the ANC is also, in an indirect way, forcing Wenger’s hand as it limits the options available for the wide midfield positions. By playing Walcott in the middle there is a slot available for either Hleb or Rosicky. Diaby will probably tale up the other slot on the left and be detailed to cover for Traore when he bombs forward.

The inclusion of another first team player in the line up such as Hleb will be very useful by adding experience and he will also be able to help Denilson organize play. I would for this reason choose him over Rosicky.

According to the above description the team line up for tonight may look like this:


Sagna Hoyte Gallas Traore

Hleb Denilson Gilberto Diaby

Walcott Bendtner

The bench will, according to Wenger, contain more first teamers. These could be among others Fabregas, Eduardo and Rosicky.

The starting eleven contain youth and experience in good proportions something that was clearly missing during the first leg.

Sometimes you play well because the opponents allowed you to; and this is what I believe happened during the first leg at the Emirates. This is unlikely to be repeated for this game. If the Spuds couldn’t beat us then I doubt it if they could do it tonight.

Prediction: Away win 1-3



2 Abou DIABY
3 Bacary SAGNA
10 William GALLAS
13 Alexander HLEB
16 Mathieu FLAMINI
21 Lukasz FABIANSKI (GK)
25 Emmanuel ADEBAYOR
26 Nicklas BENDTNER
30 Armand TRAORE
31 Justin HOYTE
40 Vito MANNONE (GK)

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Blackburn: Domovchiyski to Levski “Let me play for Blackburn”

By Aries

As you may recall Levski’s Nicolay Dimitrov has been on trial with Arsenal last month and a decision is awaited from Arsene Wenger this coming week.

This will be taken after Arsenal’s scout Bobby Bennet sends in his report from Israel where he was sent to watch Dimitrov play today in a friendly against Dynamo Kiev.

Similarly Dimitrov’s colleague Valeri Domovchiyski has had a trial with Blackburn which finished last week. Mark Hughes however is still not sure whether to offer a contract to Valeri. Blackburn will in fact be offering to keep him on loan for a further six months until they make their minds up.

Levski however are not that keen as they want to sell the player outright. This has angered Domovchiyski who desperately wants to play in the Premier League.

"I really want to play in the Premiership. I doubt that anyone would turn down such an offer," the striker said yesterday on coming back from England to the Bulgarian journalists waiting at the airport.

"For the moment they say they can take me only for the summer and they'll send an offer to FC Levski in a couple of days. I hope to reach an agreement with the management when they call me to talks," Valeri said.

Domovchiyski said he was not worried about the tough competition at the Ewood Park.

"FC Blackburn have many good players. It will be tough, but I am not scared. I'll claim my place among their strikers. Everything in the team is perfect. All you think of is football. We had a practice with the assistant manager.

Mark Hughes was just watching on us from outside. I was quite surprised by the physical fitness of their players. They are working out in the gym all day.

And I'll work out like them if the management of Levski let me join Blackburn" he said.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Player analysis and Ratings Vs Fulham. Arsenal score goals from crosses!

By 1970’s Gooner

What we were all asking for from last season was variation in Arsenal’s play. Variation in the built up towards the opponents goalmouth so that defenders and midfielders would not be too sure of what Arsenal would do with the ball.

Too often in the past we would try and knit the pretty patterns and more often than not try to get through the middle of their defence. All they had to do was to pack the midfield and tuck in front of their goal.

Now we are seeing the crosses come in from the wings and we are witnessing headers at goal. And it was from crosses from the wings that all three goals were scored at the Cottage.

The first was from excellent work from the left from the impressive (again) Clichy who put in a beautiful cross in the heart of Fulham’s defence and Adebayor rose above everybody else to leave Niemi stranded. It was a very similar goal Adebayor scored at Aston Vila.

The second was almost a carbon copy of the first with good work on the right wing by Hleb who put in a precise cross in the same spot where Clichy had put his for the first goal. Again Adebayor rose above everybody else to head it home.

Fulham did not offer anything going forward even after they switched to 4 4 2 with the giant Kuqi coming on.

The third goal came after excellent work from the penetrative Eduardo who sprinted into the by line from the left leaving defenders behind him. His low cross was powered in by the on coming Rosicky who made a lot of ground to get into the area.

Arsenal worked the wings well something that was missing against Birmingham where Walcott was pretty ineffective. Against Fulham however Rosicky, although not having a spectacular game, provided that width and Eduardo was also having the same effect on the other side when Hleb was coming in field.

He impressed me with his close control and passing which have vastly improved. He seems to be much more at ease with the way Arsenal play and is beginning to fit in quite nicely.


Not much to do but his handling from crosses oozed confidence. 8


Very good defencively and got forward a lot more than in recent games. 7


Another sterling performance. Did not put a foot wrong and got forward quite a lot. Put in a beautiful cross for the first goal. 9


Solid. 8


Another good and strong display. He will feel a lot better for having put in a good performance for the second game running. I have a feeling he will prove equal to the task of filling in Toure’s absence. He has to improve his distribution however. 8


The usual full of running and energetic performance. 8


Still below his best. A few passes still going astray and is not running the show as much as he used to before. He would have found it difficult if the opponent was more physical and more pressing on the ball. 6


A solid if unspectacular display but at least stretched the play on the wing, did not give the ball away, helped back in defence and scored the third goal! 7


Full of trickery and helped organize the play along with Fabregas. Put in the cross for the second goal. 7


Improving all the time as he gets used to the premier League and its tight and physical marking. I can see what Wenger saw in him to pay 7.5 m. Van Persie’s absence might not hurt us that much. Created the third goal with a beautiful run on the left wing crossing for Rosicky to score. 8


Very impressive with his headers for the two goals. But, as with the Newcastle game where he scored a very good goal early on, his contribution for the rest of this game was average to me. He needs to improve his control and hold the ball up rather than try and lay off the pass immediately. Still if he can play averagely and score two goals every game we can’t complain can we? 7

Man Of The Match: Clichy

Friday, January 18, 2008

Arsenal's scout, Dimitrov’s agent and Levski’s owners converge on Israel training camp

By Aries

The story so far: Bulgarian Nicolay Dimitrov travels to London Colney for a week’s trial late last month. According to his club Levski he leaves a good impression.

This is verified by Arsene Wenger himself in a fax sent to the player’s club. Arsenal also ask for permission to send a scout to Levski’s training camp in Israel.

Levski arrange friendly games against Dynamo Kiev in Israel so that Arsenal’s scout can watch Dimitrov in action.

Enter the Scout

Levski’s official site has issued a statement on 16th January verifying the scout’s arrival:

“Arsenal FC has sent today a scouting coach to Eilat, Israel, to watch PFC Levski forward Nikolay Dimitrov in the training sessions and match vs. Dynamo Kyiv on Sunday 20 January 2008”.

Bobby Bennet is the Arsenal scout that has already traveled to Eilat in Israel and has even been staying at the same hotel as the Levski players.

In fact according to Bulgarian sports paper “Gong” he has even been at each training session watching Dimitrov very closely.

This is Bobby Bennet enjoying the sun at Levski's training ground.

He is expected to make a general evaluation of Dimitrov's performance by this Sunday where he will be watching Levski play against Dynamo.

He has refused to make any comments to Bulgarian journalists.

Enter the agent

Dimitrov’s agent, Traiko Sokolov, had accompanied Dimitrov to London for his trial.

He has now traveled to Israel so that he could be there if Arsenal's scout wants to discuss the possibility of Dimitrov signing for Arsenal.

“I have traveled to Israel for Dimitrov but I cannot comment for now. Probably after Saturday” he said to sports paper “Gong”.

Enter the Levski hierarchy

Todor Batkov is the owner of Levski and also of the newspaper "Standard".

According to "Standard" Batkov and the honorary president of the club Michael Chernoy will visit Israel during the weekend to watch Levski's friendly against Dynamo.

Are the scout, the agent and the Levski owner converging together for a reason?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Wenger to reconsider Mputu signing in Arsenal's friendly game against Mazembe

By Aries

Tresor Mputu, as has recently been reported on this site, has finished a ten day trial at Arsenal but as yet there are no official news.

This is after Wenger himself stated that he was impressed with the player and the player’s agent predicting that the deal was as good as done!

However, as reported, this delay has energised Standard Liege of Belgium who had shown a very keen interest to bring Mputu to Belgium prior to Arsenal “high jacking” the player.

But there are also other suitors to Mputu’s signature.

According to the official Standard Liege site it appears that a firm offer has in the meantime been made for by the Tunisian club l'Espérance

Fabio Baglio, Mputu’s agent has since denied this!

“It would surprise me that the transfer is successful, he said. “There remains a very small chance that he can land in Standard Liège, but the most likely is that Mputu remains for six months more in Mazembe (his club), before finding a good European club. "

Is this good European club to be Arsenal again?

Press reports from DR Congo as well Mputu’s club,TP Mazembe’s official site have published the news that Arsene Wenger himself had invited the club to London for a series of friendlies, including Arsenal.

It states: “TP Mazembe will be the first African club to be officially invited to face a big English team; Tresor Mputu will be captain for the game”.

For the coach of TP Mazembe, Muntubile Santos, this invitation is deemed to be very timely, since it will allow his team to prepare against the “big” teams in London, prior to the team’s first game in the Africa champions League in the middle of February.

This information was revealed to the press by the president of TP Mazembe Moise Katumbi who read out the letter received from Arsene Wenger himself!

The deputation of TP Mazembe, will consist of 25 persons and is going to stay in England for two weeks as from January 20th.

They will play a series of friendly games in London which Arsene Wenger has even offered to arrange, inclusive of course of Arsenal.

This will give Arsene Wenger one last opportunity to have another close look at Tresor Mputu in action against strong English opposition in as real a match situation as possible.

If he decides to sign the player the dates for the friendly games are such that will allow enough time for him to make his mind up.

After London, Mazembe will be moving to Brussels where they will spend one week. A match against Belgian club Standard Liege is already arranged for this purpose.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Arsenal HAVE to win the league this year

By Eros, Arsenal Analysis resident season ticket holder

For the first time this season I left the Emirates feeling extremely frustrated that we had surrendered two points and with it top spot, to one of Fergie’s chums. Mc Leish practically admitted after the game that Sir Alex gave him a game plan on how to play against us.

What is more frustrating however is that Birmingham’s tactics were not anything to write home about. They did not have any kind of game plan going forward nor were they overly physical. They basically defended deep to try and negate Ade’s and Edie’s pace and got a lot of bodies behind the ball.

They defended well, extremely well but they were only able to get a result because we were wasteful, arrogant and thought that after we scored they’d roll over so that we’d win the game.

Once more our passing game was not there, the quick simple short exchanges kept breaking down, Cesc was not dominant as he usually is and we were not helped by the fact that our right side was practically non existent.

Theo was a liability on Saturday. He was never threatening, had no variation in his play and constantly did the same thing when he got the ball: Checked and passed the ball backwards!!!

On the rare occasions he tried to use his pace, he always made the wrong decision, instead of running into empty space he run straight into defenders consistently losing the ball. He should have been taken off a lot earlier.

I also though that Wenger made a mistake by pushing Eduardo wide when Bendtner came on. Eduardo was the most likely goal threat and he was largely ineffective on the right.

I was also surprised to observe that even though Eboue is not having a great season his mere presence on the pitch helps our play.

His explosiveness gives defenders problems and even though usually he has no end product he can not be ignored thus helping to stretch play and create more space in the middle. We were very narrow on Saturday making it easier for Birmingham to defend against us.

Wenger was visibly frustrated and he correctly said that we had our worst game of the season.

I thought he was extremely conservative in his bench selections, one of Diaby and Gilberto should have been dropped for a more attacking or creative option.

Failing that since Theo was not providing any width I thought that trying to employ Sagna and Hoyte together was our next best option.

Win the title this year

Many people have the opinion that even if we don’t win the title this year the experience will stand us in good stead for the future. This might be the case but I have some concerns I’d like to express!

1) All three titles under Wenger came before not after major tournaments. We usually start well but we run out of gas by the end of the season.

2) We usually loose key players after major tournaments either through injury or otherwise. Cesc is going to spend the whole summer with his Spanish friends who will no doubt try and turn his head away from the Emirates.

3) Wenger stated on record that he is ‘hopeful’ that Flamini will be here next year. That statement does not fill me with confidence, and if we loose Flamini we will have to adjust the way we play. This might be the reason why Wenger is very reluctant to let Diarra go even if a hefty profut will be made on the transaction.

4) Both Man U and Chelsea will benefit from England missing out of the European Championship but we won’t. And both will again outspend us in the transfer market.

5) Benitez will definitely get the sack by the summer and the law of averages says that Liverpool will get it right at some point and they will seriously challenge for the title in the next few years making it even harder to win the league.

We have been top of the league practically all season and with 16 games we are only behind on goal difference. We have not played well since we won away to Aston Villa but we have found a way to win the majority of our games. At some point we have to find our rhythm again and start playing devastating football.

Games between the top four

Cristiano Ronaldo has been on fire since he came back from early season injuries, he has dragged Manure by the scruff of the neck out of sticky situations and he and their defence have kept them in touch and now put them on top of the league.

Can he keep playing like that for the next 16 games? I don’t see why not. He has after all been consistent for the last 18 months.

Chelsea are only four points behind and with Anelka in their team they are again serious contenders. They currently have players away in the ANC but they should be able to cope for a few weeks; Ballack came back after injury and SWP is probably playing his best football since his move from city

For the first time in a long time who ever wins the most points out of the games between the top four will probably win the league.

United have a slight advantage because they have two games at home (Liverpool and Arsenal) and we have one (Liverpool). For some reason I think that Wenger has Chelsea’s number this season and I fully expect us to win at the Bridge.

I cannot predict the future but I have had a hunch for a while now that if we win at Old Trafford we will win the league.

I can only dream of another day like the one that clinched the league at the Theatre of Dreams!

Brazilian wonder kid Dentinho: "Arsenal came in for me"

By Aries

Brazilian wonder kid Dentinho has revealed that Arsenal made an approach for him last year but his club Corinthians did not want to open negotiations for his sale since it had sold another of its star players, William, to Shakthar Donetsk, of the Ukraine.

“Arsenal made a proposal but Corinthians did not agree for them to negotiate. I was not bothered, I think that my moment is going to arrive” Dentinho said to, a Brazilian sports site.

The proposal was for 3m pounds plus a profit from a possible future transfer.

“I have the will to play in Europe, certainly. I am still young and have still a lot to achieve here with Corinthians. I have not even won any trophies yet" Dentinho said. He is the one on the right of the photo.

Lulinha, Dentinho’s fellow player (on the left) is also reported to be on Chelsea’s radar but the President of Corinthians, Andrés Sanches, has already warned that he does not intend negotiating the transfers of the two players this year.

However this might be tactics on his part to get the maximum transfer fees for his players as the club is in financial difficulties having been relegated to the second division in December 2007.

Dentinho has made four appearances for Corinthians this season, scoring one goal. He is regarded as one of South America’s top talents.

Dentinho Personal Fact File:

Full name : Bruno Ferreira Bonfim
Date of birth: January 19, 1989 (age 18)
Date of birth: Sao Paulo, Brazil
Height: 1.75 m (5 ft 9 in)
Playing position: Striker

Monday, January 14, 2008

Portuguese midfielder flies in for Ipswich trial

By Aries

Ipswich has formally requested from Ricardo Fernandes and his current club APOEL Nicosia to grant him permission to undertake a trial period at Portman Road. His club have already given their permission.

Fernandes, 29, played for Sporting Lisbon where he was hailed as one of Portugal's brightest young prospects.

After only one season there he was signed by Jose Mourinho and became a key member of Porto who famously won the double of the Champions League and Portuguese League title during the 2003-2004 season. He came on as a substitute during the Champions League Final.

During his one season at Porto he made 18 appearances scoring one goal. He is noted for his surging runs, accurate passing and is considered lethal at set pieces.

In his first year with his current club he has scored 9 times with an amazing 30 assists. In his second season Ricardo scored 13 goals as he helped APOEL to the League Title.

According to the APOEL FC site the trial is expected to last until Wednesday, 16th January when the player will return to Cyprus.

Ricardo Fernandes Fact File:

Date of birth : April 21, 1978 (age 29)
Place of birth : Moreira de Cónegos, Portugal
Height: 1.74m
Weight: 65Kg
Playing position: Attacking/Creative Midfielder

Levski's coach denies Chelsea interest in Arsenal trialist

By Aries

The story so far: Levski winger Nicolay Dimitrov spent a week last month at London Colney undergoing trials with Arsene Wenger and his boot room staff. Afterwards Dimitrov and his club made statements to the effect that Arsene Wenger has been impressed by the player.

Arsenal sent faxes to his club Levski asking permission to watch Dimitrov during a friendly match against Dinamo kiev at their winter training camp in Israel.

“The Independent” comes out only last week with the news that Arsenal are likely to make an offer for the player.

Now “Tribal Football” publish a story that Avram Grant is interested in the player himself and his fellow player Domovchiyski (currently on trial at Blackburn):

“Chelsea to look at Levski Sofia pair Dimitrov, Domovchiyski” Tribal Football’s headline read.

In their story they state that Levski assistant coach Emil Velev confirmed to Bulgarian sport paper “Sport 1” that he received a phone call from good friend Chelsea coach Avram Grant asking about both Dimitrov and fellow striker Valeri Domovchiyski.

Well we have news for you.

Levski assistant coach Velev has categorically denied to the same newspaper that he ever made such a statement!

‘I have not talked about Nico (Nicolay Dimitrov) and Domo (Valeri Domovchiyski) with Grant” he said.

“I conversed with Аvram Grant a couple of days ago, because we know ourselves from the time that I spent in Israel. The writings in the media are though absolute guesses.

We did not talk about Nico or Domo. He told me that he was thinking about signing Berbatov or Аnelkа. He only asked about Israeli player Eli Zizov whom he knows from Israel”

In fact the Bulgarian sports paper “Gong” has also published the same story with Levski’s assistant coach denying the statements he is supposed to have made.

They also publish a photo which has been doctored to show Grant and Levski’s assistant coach arm in arm!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Complacency will get you anywhere but the title (plus player ratings Vs Birmingham)

By 1970's Gooner

There are four points that need to be made about this game.

The first concerns the complacent attitude of all the players in the team who seem to think that they only have to turn up for the game and victory will be assured. This was also apparent at the Burnley FA Cup game.

This attitude is further reinforced when Arsenal go one nil up especially against the so called “smaller” teams. It seems to be a trait that has characterised a lot of Wenger teams in the past especially last season but it has also reared its head during this campaign. Remember the two goal lead that was surrendered against Sunderland at the Emirates?

The second point that needs to be made is Theo Walcott’s contribution during the game: Non existent. It was like playing with ten men.

The third is that Senderos is obviously not to be blamed for the goal. He was busy marking their tallest player Jerome most probably under instructions prior to the game.

It was Flamini that was at fault by attempting to impede O’Connor rather than manage that by jumping with him. In fact Senderos had a very good game, one of his stronger performances.

The goal was similar to the goal conceded at Goodison Park where a corner went through the defence undefended. More work needed on the training pitch again.

The fourth concerns Diaby. This guy is loosing his way. He was brought on for Sagna presumably to stretch the play on the right wing but he did anything but that. He kept coming infield, crowding an already heavily congested middle of the pitch especially in front of Birmingham’s area. The area that we desperately wanted to decongest!


Had another good game. Was not at fault for the goal and he is very quick to come off his line and act like a “libero”. I like that. 7


An improved performance. Got forward a lot more than he has in recent games. 6


Another strong and purposeful performance. He is one of the younger members of the team but he is one of the most consistent. 8


He is another one who is consistent. Went forward at the end to try and get the winning goal. Nearly did. 7


As expected when next to an experienced and fast centre back he upped his performance and had a very good game. Strong on the headers and also in his tackles. 7


A bad day at the office. One of his ineffective performances. Lacked penetration and purpose. 4


Apart from his role in the goal conceded he had his usual strong and purposeful performance. 6


His usual domination of the midfield area is slowly coming back but still not there yet. He tried two shots from outside the area but missed the target. At the beginning of the season these kind of shots were on target. He looked a bit tired by the closing stages of the game. 6


Had a good game full of trickery and positive forward drive. Tired in the second half. 6


Apart form the penalty kick a very average game from the big man. 5


He is getting used to the Premier league and the physical part of the game. He is now able to withstand the defenders and hold the ball up laying passes off to his teammates. This is a good sign as he has not had too many starts. His header in the first half should have been to the side of the keeper but at least his positioning was spot on. This aspect of his game is also getting a lot better as shown by his positioning to accept the ball inside the area which led to the penalty. 6

Man of the Match: Clichy