Vermaelen Targets Swansea For A Quick Return To Form

Attention turns to the FA Cup replay with Swansea, not such a bad thing considering the rancour over defeat at the hands of Manchester City on Sunday. The week is being seen as pivotal to Arsenal’s season but I am not sure that the Premier League matches are. With the same fixtures remaining for others above us along with matches against each other, there is ample opportunity for gaps to emerge and close. The question is rather more pointed: can Arsenal close the gaps?

In that context, avoiding defeat at Stamford Bridge is going to be a good result. It would do wonders for the players belief in themselves as well, you would expect. Realistic aspirations for third place would however, require victory. To me that is not even an option at the moment, systematically overhauling teams above us has to be the aim. Anything more is going to place more pressure, more nerves on the players whose confidence appears brittle. They credit themselves for the second half performance but at the same time, the opening phase where they were on the back foot so quickly will prey on their minds. It is easy to blame the crowd for this – and no doubt this a factor – but Jonathan Wilson in Sports Illustrated tackles the subject well. Wilson, whose credentials will no doubt be questioned by those who disagree with him, notes the problems of the reciprocal relationship.

But Swansea is the key match. The Premier League does not rest on one occasion and with the squad seemingly struggling at home, which Arsenal will turn up? It is simplistic but true that the players have to conquer their own nerves, to win their own mental battles otherwise the Wenger era is ending shambolically. And that era, no matter how you like to dress it up, is in its endgame. Some would end it now, most support the theory that the goodwill previously earned decides when that happens. No matter which view you subscribe to, the perception is likely to influence more than the reality. The lack of cohesion and inability to resolve what in footballing terms, is a long-standing issue feeds the chipping away of the aura. My own view is that the football is better but such matters are reminiscent of the times when other managerial reigns have come to (in)voluntary ends. Does Wenger deserve a better legacy than this? Of course but it is up to the players to deliver for him.

They can start by finishing the job against Swansea. Almost is a frequently used word around Arsenal this season, the most recent being the first meeting with Graham’s late equaliser forcing this replay. It is tough to work out what side will take the pitch but in all likelihood, it will be somewhere between the full XI and a League Cup side. The separation of the two teams does not always work with the youth outshining their more experienced rivals in the junior domestic trophy, failures have come most recently when men have been sent to do the job that boys were deemed unsuitable for. It didn’t pan out that way against Birmingham or Bradford.

This time around, there are players who look in desperate need of rests. Thomas Vermaelen observed that the players are used to three matches each week and most are being rotated. Others such as Santi Cazorla just look knackered. For the peripherals such as Ramsey, Jenkinson and Coquelin, this is the sort of game that they need to play, to bring their match sharpness up. But Wenger cannot make too many changes otherwise the cohesion is lost entirely. There is a fine balancing act and too often the FA Cup has been sacrificed to rotation that goes a step too far. Having reversed the policy in the League Cup, it would be nice to see this happen in the more senior cup as well.

Elsewhere, Mohammed Diame is the latest bargain basement signing touted for Arsenal. It seems that support for the player stems largely from Arsenal’s visit to Upton Park. Personally, I haven’t paid enough attention to the player to observe whether he would be a good signing or otherwise but I am sure that he will send goosebumps up as many arms as raise a “meh” of indifference. Rumours of a promising young Hungarian called Hidegkuti are reaching ACLF towers. We’ll look further into those claims during the day.

’til Tomorrow.


456 thoughts on “Vermaelen Targets Swansea For A Quick Return To Form

  1. Evil – Talking about the Terry incident proved sweet FA though. Dzekos was a clear goalscoring opportunity.

    As an aside, the last man bit comes from the “clear goalscoring opportunity” part of the rule. If there is another defender is is debatable if the chance is clear cut or not, as the last defender could get there.

  2. Just watched the Real game which encouraged me to have a look at La Liga table, bugger me Real Betis are in 4th place 3 points behind RM and it seems this is in no short amount assisted by young Joel Campbell stepping up to the plate. Here’s hoping he continues his progress.

  3. Paul/Evil – Answer two questions for me. Just with a yes or a no.

    1. Was it a foul?
    2. Was it a goal scoring opportunity for the striker?

    Don’t add anything else (for now). Please just answer the two questions, then we can discuss from there. Just so I know where you both stand on the issue.

  4. As well as the Laws, Evil, you need to take into account Fifa’s refereeing edicts. But the wording does underline that sending Koscielny off was totally correct:

    “denying an obvious goalscoring opportunity to an opponent moving towards the player’s goal by an offence punishable by a free kick or a penalty”.

    Presuming of course, that it wasn’t for “serious foul play”.

    And no, I would think a definition of clear opportunity would be defined as a clear, unobscured shot / header on goal. So, I would think you need to be facing goal for that to be the case; Terry was not.

  5. @GA
    1. Yes
    2. I can’t answer that question because I don’t know if Dzeko would have gotten to the ball. It was definitely a goal scoring opportunity for Tevez, though.

  6. I think the biggest issue with the terry incident is that nothing happened at all and that happens a lot. That is the biggest problem. Enforce the rules overall.

  7. Bloody hell, are you still at it. Some of you guys could on arguing about, well not very much, all night. It’s almost impressive, albeit in a kind of anal retentive fashion. God bless you.

    Hey-ho. As long as you’re happy.

    Here’s to tomorrow night. COYG.

  8. Well done, GoonerAndy. We have a real game on our hands tomorrow, but importantly we have seen a little glimpse of the future. However you have spent the entire day trying to prove that one of our own players is a complete twat.

  9. Evil – Fair enough. I think it was, as the ball dropped virtually next to him, which is why I think it was a red. Nobody “knows” if he would have got the ball, but he was the closet player to it. I actually think if Kos did not have hold of him, Dzeko would have been volleying the ball.

  10. He’s a character in the Big Bang Theory YW. He has borderline Aspergers syndrome. He’d feel right at home here.

  11. Often it is a matter of words that can bring the matter to a mutually satisfactory conclusion – how’s about;

    It is not entirely inconceivable that in spite of committing a crude foul that denied the Manchester player a goal scoring opportunity that Me Deam might not, subject to the correct alignment of the planets, might not have sent the Frenchman off – on another day – sometimes

    It works for me

  12. Frank – Not really. It was daft of him, but no more than that. Pointing out a player made a mistake is not attacking him as you seem to think. Nowhere have I slagged him off if you have a look. I have just disagreed with people who think that it wasn’t a pen/red card.

    Anyway, must shoot. I have a pressing engagement.

  13. Last word on this. I have seen refs use discretion in football and it seems to me that they are allowed to do it, regardless of the letter of the law. However, you cannot overlook an offense overall and then bring down the hammer on one person. That is total bulls and we all know it.

  14. Bonkers.

    Player commits blatant foul and is sent off as per rules. Three days later, grown men still in denial.

    Sorry if that’s ‘ passive aggresive’ or some such.

    Shall we move on?

  15. @GA
    See, that for me is the small difference. He didn’t look like he is about to shoot/poke the ball in. Compare to this:

    I still think the red card was harsh(primarily because I think that teams shouldn’t be double punished unless the foul in itself would warrant a red card) but in this case I think there would be no point in arguing if Cesc is having an opportunity or not, since he is about to pull the trigger.

  16. Actually this brings me to a different question: what would have happened if Tevez had scored? Would Koscielny still been sent off?

  17. Actually this brings me to a different question: what would have happened if Tevez had scored? Would Koscielny still been sent off?

  18. I don’t think men are in denial, well I am not, men have their own opinions. I can agree that it is time to move on all the same.

  19. I would be appalled to think that Me Dean would be inconsistent on that key issue

    Given the pivotal significance of consistency

  20. Harry

    Aaaah, Big Bang Theory. I take it that’s some young person’s televisual programme. I made a similar observation last Summer to yours. Shows how much people listen to me.

  21. Amazingly, no one has responded to my posts on two separate days that apart from the two red cards, Dean showed himself to be a very biased/incompetent referee. He affected the game nearly as much through his many other decisions. Biggest case in point, no protection for Jack leading up to Kompany’s red. Jack was the most dynamic player on our team and ManCity went out to brutalize him, stifle our creation in midfield.

  22. Tomorrow:

    Rosicky (if available, Otherwise Jack)
    The Ox, Giroud, Podolski

    Bench: Martinez, Jenks, Squillacci, Diaby, Cazorla, Walcott

  23. We have had most of the questionable decisions go our way this season. Some of us are so desperate to blame the refs that we can’t even wait for a bad call to go against us. We have to make an issue about a call that was clearly correct. No hum. Excuses excuses excuses.

  24. Bill the discussion about the validity of the red is separate to the result .
    You dont think the red effected possible outcome?

  25. @Frank
    RE: January 15, 2013 at 11:48 am

    I often read this column and its comments, but seldom post as I have little to add to the lively debates on ACLF. I was wondering, you mentioned websites that specifically drive up support for Arsenal. I know of only Untold Arsenal who have that as their modus operandi. Out of curiousity, what are the others?

  26. YW, it was 7; tied for most any game in the PL and there were (at least) two obvious occasions when Dean called nothing. JW was called for fouling but one time and given a yellow. Some very flagrant yellow worthy fouls were just free kicks. Truly atrocious display.

    The problem with the Kos penalty and card debate is that no general context of Dean’s awful performance has taken place; a genuine evaluation of the refereeing of the whole match has been occluded as we wrangle on and on about just one, albeit significant, moment!

  27. @Yogi’s Warrior January 15, 2013 at 8:57 pm
    RE: proving Mike Dean’s bias

    I believe Untold Arsenal’s referee reviews from last season proved Mike Dean is biased. The new website is, I believe. I believe they also proved that not one referee is biased in favour of Arsenal, they are either biased against or neutral. Another finding is that Arsenal was affored the highest negative bias by the referees.

  28. ACLF has been a great place of late, especially since the loss. Odd. I just love the Arsenal. I have a good feeling about tonight’s game. COYGs!!!

  29. Sorry about the length. I am not the author. Read on …

    Birmingham FC fans are in revolt. Their once proud club has not been well managed – to put it mildly – by “businessman” Carson Yeung, currently awaiting trial in his native Hong Kong, for an alleged £59m-worth of money laundering, and the process is not over yet. It is the degeneracy of British economy and society in a football microcosm – nothing to stop Cayman Island ownership, strange “sponsorships” and lush, anonymous director fees.

    In Britain, there are no legal or governance structures that put football or the fans at the centre of a club owner’s concerns. Rather, in keeping with the wider culture, football is “open for business”. Market forces are deified as the only value worth celebrating and a business – even a football club – is no more than its owner’s private plaything. The result is a moral and economic disaster – in football as in the wider economy.

    Economists call this “rent-seeking” and those who don’t know what the term means need only spend a few seconds surveying the history of the club since Mr Yeung, his son and third director Peter Pannu took it over in 2009. The club is owned by a holding company based in the Cayman Islands, but burdened by vast debts used by Yeung to buy it, now facing financial problems following the problems with Yeung’s business affairs.

    Their sole interest is selling off assets, chiefly good footballers in the transfer market, and now the club, to get their money back into the Cayman Islands – while paying large director fees for unnamed services. What they want is economic rent: a surplus created for doing nothing of value.

    Britain is a rent-seeker’s paradise, as many more football clubs other than Birmingham City can testify. We have created a looters’ charter, with football as a playpen, within which the super-rich can do what they want. A recent flash point is the price visiting fans are charged for their tickets. (Manchester City fans protested at the £62 they were asked to pay for today’s game at Arsenal.) If the price of admission, along with travel, is prohibitive, then the game is played to only one set of supporters in the stadium with one set of chants. The experience of a game shrivels.

    For the rent-seeker, this is emotional sentimentality. Everybody now knows that market forces are irresistible, a perfect justification for putting up ticket prices to whatever the market will bear. Christian Siefert, CEO of the German Bundesliga, told the Observer recently that football is one of the last areas where people are brought together: “We want to have our whole society as part of our football, in our stadiums”, explaining why the owners of football clubs forgo the highest possible ticket prices. It is not a sentiment that Mr Yeung, or the many other foreign owners of British clubs, would share. Why worry about British society? We exist to be looted and privately mocked for our connivance in our own destruction.

    Flexible and free markets, we have had drummed into us for 30 years, are the reason why Britain is now the world-beating economy that it has become and Germany and the European Union are in the doldrums. The Premier League, slavishly following these principles, is self-evidently, or so runs the line, the best football league in Europe. Pity the poor Germans and the daffy Herr Siefert, who worry about who owns their companies and football clubs, care about fan culture and invest in their young talent.

    They don’t welcome “wealth creators” such as Carson Yeung with no questions asked, and because German clubs reserve parts of their grounds for standing room only cheap tickets, they don’t maximise the economic value of their sporting assets. Down that road lies ruin – or so a bevy of economic commentators and Eurosceptic Conservative MPs will rush to tell us.

    But the German approach to football, as with their wider economy and society, is beginning to win admirers, not least among football supporters. There are three German sides in the last 16 of the Champions League this year and fuddy-duddy Dortmund played Manchester City, exemplar of British-style market forces, off the park. What’s more, they care about their fans. It is a great club rather than a sheikh’s passing whim. The Premier League is now considering something very German: capping the prices that clubs can charge visiting supporters. Football as a sport might just, in one tiny step, challenge the law of the market.

    British football needs to go much further. German football clubs require that a majority of votes are exercised by fans. There can’t be Carson Yeungs because they would be outvoted. German clubs invest in homegrown talent. Sixty per cent of Bundesliga players are homegrown compared with 39% of Premier League players.
    The lessons go wider still. Eighteen years ago, I argued in The State We’re In that it was obvious that Germany would outperform Britain economically, just as it is obvious that it will do the same – unless we reform ourselves wholesale – over the next 18. What is so depressing about today’s economy is not just that we stand on the verge of a triple dip recession, but that, like our football clubs, so much of our economic base is organised around rent-seeking.

    Nor do we seem to have learned much. There should be a vibrant debate about how to reproduce in Britain what evidently works in Germany. We need companies organised around long-term business purpose and to create a whole network of public and private institutions, law and practice that buttresses them. Yet the heart of the Eurosceptic, anti-EU case is that, instead, we need to leave to reinforce the market “flexibilities” and “freedoms” that have created such fantastic British success. Let the looting get more intense.

    We are far gone. There is no majority in the Premier League for serious reform. Foreign owners are not going to vote to qualify their autonomy, allow more supporter voice or limit their capacity to compete by offering sky-high player wages. On the other hand, there is a growing argument for change – witness the possible concession on ticket prices.

    It’s the same with wider economic reform. The average size of a British manufacturing firm is 14 people: the majority of large firms and factories are foreign-owned. We have constructed an economy in which the rent-seekers and Carson Yeungs are the majority. It is very clear what needs to be done. The signs are confusing, but, as in football, maybe the grip of the looters is weakening as the evidence mounts of their vandalism. Here’s hoping.

  30. Sav

    You should go through the archives to find my thoughts on the ref’s reviews. By Arsenal fans. Who are interpreting matters. In other words, how do you know that the manner in which they have arrived at their decisions on who is biased, is right?

  31. Sav. Only untold arsenal is unashamedly supporting Arsenal and trying to drive up support. None of the others have that objective. The debate here yesterday reveals a lot abt Arsenal supporters.

    ZP, bery interesting piece. Over here the lines are being drawn between anti and pro Europeans. Personally if the uk gets even close to leaving Europe and I doubt that it will come to that, I will leave.

  32. ZP, I think Keynes made the same point in 1936 (though without mentioning names). There was a brief period after the war when people took notice, but Thatcher certainly fixed that.

    It must be almost cheaper to fly to Spain to watch a match (Barca advertising tickets for 9 euro), than to attend the Emirates!

  33. I agree abt prices but I think that Arsenal will try to sort it out. Things can change, it does’nt always have to be doom and gloom. There are good people abt who don’t sit on their arses moaning or flex their own egos like some notables.

  34. In the context of the article, and assuming it is broadly accurate, there is an intrinic link between building local “ownership” (which is not just about who owns the shares, but about what regulatory framework exists to eliminate rent-seeking and speculation) and building and investing in football culture, with all its social and cultural elements intact (or “social investment”). There is equally a business culture that ensures the primacy of fans interests over those of “player brands”, commercial TV rights, and the agents and other parasites that feed in the trough of “free-market looting”, paid by the consumer.

  35. The obvious response rom an outsiders viewpoint, as I am not English but I have a “stake” too in Arsenal’s future, is that football blogsites (as the fastest method of communicaton) are used increasingly to butress fan and football culture interests, and reach out to each other across tribal (club) divisions, realising that they have common cause.

    It is about economic and social interests, mine and yours or the free-marketeers (rent seekers, speculators) who are commodifying football (destroying in the process its cultural and social values) and controlling both the media discourse and critically the TV rights fast and effectively. Creating player brands (which are essentially identical to any other entertainment brands, they are the key factor in selling the brand) and artifically creating wage differentials that no competitior can match are a strategy towards economic control and have nothing what-so-ever to do with “market rates” or “player value”.

    You see, it is not just about who owns Arsenal and how and why this ownership is exercised. We are directly affected by who owns City, Liverpool, United, Chelsea, right down to the bottom and how all club ownership is exercised in the EPL and to what ends. We have some experience of this at Arsenal I believe. Thankfully, we have not yet been drawn into the “player brand” vortex, but it still affects us.


    “I’ve always found English football very fascinating, for the environment, the crowd and the supporters,” Guardiola said. “In Italy, Latin people will support you when you are playing and when you lose, they kill you. In England I’m always surprised that people always support everything and that is nice. That’s why, maybe, I hope to have the challenge or the opportunity to train there.

    I’m sure he exaggerates a bit, but on the whole its a fair observation. Helps to put into perspective all moaning about how our fans are the worst. Although the same guy who said that also said we were the best at one time. You never quite know with Frank.

  37. I meant to say creating “player brands” is the key factor in revenue generation down the line. It’s a well-known model, the basic trigger for consumer manipulation. The bottom line for certain clubs that inflate player salaries (a decision made by the economists and lawyers that actually control the decisions, not the manager) is to create monopoly, eliminate the ability of competitors to develop equivalent “player brands” (with the odd exception). This is the fastest route to commercial TV and fan income, and subsidiary incomes (merchandising, endorsements), which is the fastest route to revenue generation.

    We spend hours discussing the relative rights and wrongs over the van Persie sale, treating him like a mini-god in the process (falling into the brand trap), but Robin, the exquisite football player, has meantime been reduced to a “brand asset” in the bigger scheme of things.

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