Sweet FA, Arsène’s Choices & Respect Is Due

Arsène had plenty to say in his press conference ahead of tomorrow’s High Noon encounter with Huddersfield. That the match kicks off fifty five hours before Arsenal meet Everton highlights the depths to which the footballing authorities have plummeted.

They know Sweet FA about running the game

2011 has been a fiasco for those who rule the game. Blatter and Platini are both making their views that football should be a summer sport well known, allowing Qatar to host the World Cup in winter. If England were disappointed to lose out to Russia, football as a summer sport is the death knell of the country as a host again.

In England, Sian Massey has been on the receiving end of the lack of backbone that referees are used to. Whilst her withdrawal from the Crewe match in midweek was understandable, to prevent her officiating this weekend simply allows the media to win. Unless of course the PGMO has no intention of letting her officiate again this season to allow the fuss to dissipate.

The Premier League has made a huge error in its fixture scheduling. Everton play Chelsea at lunchtime today. None of the other teams playing in the FA Cup tomorrow has a game on Tuesday. The FA need to explain why they declined the opportunity to reschedule Southampton’s tie instead.

Equally, the Premier League need to explain why fixtures were scheduled this week rather than the week in February when Arsenal play Stoke in the re-arranged fixture? This is a weekend where games are broadcast over the two days rather than crammed into one afternoon. Nonsensical choices by TV companies are going to lead to more fiasco’s such as this week’s decision to fine Blackpool for a weakened team.

At least everyone knows what the rules mean now. You have a 25 man squad but you cannot use it to the fullest extent because the EPL are the sole arbiters of your club’s playing strengths.

Arsène’s First Choice

Arsène has seen the headline writers strut their stuff and wilfully twist the meaning of his words already this morning. Wojciech Szczesny is Arsène’s Number One we are told except they left off the key phrase ‘at the moment‘. It is not hard to see why Wenger said that. Until this weekend, James Shea was the only other fit goalkeeper. No disrespect to the youngster but at this moment in time, he is not competing for the Number One slot in the first team.

When Fabianski returns to full fitness, the test becomes more real. Arsène has to make his decision about whom he believes to be the best goalkeeper at the club. Until then the younger Pole is rightly in situ and as Wenger observed, done little wrong. Equally, neither had Fabianski so it become’s Arsène’s Choice.

Manuel Almunia returning to the squad has underwhelmed and bemused some. It is apparent from the emotive language used by his manager yesterday that the Spaniard is not going to be joining Carlos Vela in leaving the club on loan or permanently.

Wenger spoke of Almunia ‘fighting for his place‘, of Almunia feeling ‘unemployed‘ – a phrase that suggests the Spaniard has not bee injured for all of the time he has been absent – whilst the manager likes him as a man and a player.

In other words, he is holding out hope for the more experienced goalkeeper. The chance to return to first team action regularly is not gone entirely and if you play well, work hard, opportunities may arise. No guarantees but motivation at least. To place a player in a position where there is no hope of redemption leaves him mentally unready should he be needed.

There is though a need for some to show Almunia some respect as a man. He might not be the best goalkeeper that the club has ever had – he is certainly not the worst – but at no point has he conducted himself without dignity, particularly during the unedifying solicitation of Mark Schwarzer in the summer. Whilst he might not be anyone’s choice as Arsenal Number One, Almunia certainly deserves more from supporters than the abuse he receives.

Arsène’s Central Dilemma

Arsène made it clear that he was only looking to sign a centre back on a loan deal as he feels there is plenty of cover under normal circumstances. It all depends on Vermaelen as to whether he has four or five fit centre backs at the moment but surely Arsène, counting Alex Song is disingenuous.

The manager asked why he would want six centre backs on a permanent basis. 2011 has shown him that numbers can quickly diminish. However, Song is a central midfielder and whilst he is a short-term fix, he is not a long-term solution.

Arsène is right to be mindful of the ongoing costs involved with new players but let’s not muddy the waters by playing a first choice midfielder in the wrong position on paper.

’til Tomorrow.

158 thoughts on “Sweet FA, Arsène’s Choices & Respect Is Due

  1. irishgray says:

    * sale – although they may not be for ale at any price as well, will have to check on that!

  2. consolsbob says:

    A look at the chav’s bench today makes your point Irish. A couple of decent players and some youths and how much have they spent?

    Meanwhile the ‘first team’ creaks along with an awful lot of ageing players past their peak and, certainly, past their ability to play 40 matches a season at anywhere near full pace.

  3. Bill says:

    Joshua @ 3:14:

    Agree with most of what you said. I do not understand is the idea that if we get a CB even if we do overspend a little then we will suddenly turn into Man City and head down the path to doom and destruction. I agree completely that under usual circumstances its best not to overpay, and its best to build from within, live within your means etc etc. However, IMO its not good to be so dogmatic about your criteria that you can adapt depending on the situation. Based on recent performance we probably overpaid for Arshavin, but there has been no long term damage. Had we missed 4th place who knows what long term harm that might have been done. Depending on the situation overspending a little to get a player you need is not always a bad long term move

  4. irishgray says:

    You have to feel bad for Torquay’s GK Bevan. He saves 2 penalties and Crawley have a player dismissed, yet they still lose 1-0!!

    I can’t remember if I have ever cheered for S’Hampoton before but I most definitely am now 🙂

  5. Limestonegunner says:

    YW, it sounds like FG is trying to put words into your mouth! 🙂

  6. Gainsbourg69 says:

    Joshua, the spend-spend, buy-buy brigade is also very ill informed. By the time they start throwing around names like Subotic, David Luiz and Hummels, as possile targets who will not break the bank, Wenger has already seen them for quite some time and is instead looking at players who are quality but are overshadowed by these future big name players. Wenger has made staying infront of the hype into an art form but these morons still have the temerity to question his ability in the transfer market. It’s quite unbelievable, really.

  7. Limestonegunner says:

    I expected more Coleridge readers at ACLF.

  8. irishgray says:

    Consolsbob – Speaking of squad depth, Birmingham made 9 changes from the team that beat WHam, and still managed to come back from 2 goals down to win 3-2 at Coventry. So I think the CC final is going to be a lot tougher than some Gooners(myself included) were thinking. On another note, if they had lost 3-2 would they have been fined aswell? Just wondering…

  9. Limestonegunner says:

    We definitely are attractive to young players looking for their first big move. Look at Ramsey coming to us instead of United.

    Chavs haven’t been spending so much the last couple of years but they haven’t been bringing through players that much either. They have a very divided squad-guardian article picked up on this.

    There are a lot of teams who have spent much without success. I think chasing the CL places can be very expensive, apart from spening poorly. Teams like us, United, even Chelsea haven’t had to spend as much annually once our core team is in place and we are established; but you have to continue to bring in and promote younger players, which Chelsea hasn’t yet done.

  10. irishgray says:

    Party at my apartment if U Shited are knocked out!! Everyone’s invited(except James and all his alter egos) BYOB 🙂

  11. Finsbury says:

    Based upon todays performance, ManIOU probably overpaid for Anderson.

  12. Limestonegunner says:

    Gains, they might be uninformed but one player I’ve seen talked about for over a year by some is Hazard, and arsene does certainly seem to have expressed recently that he rates him. But how would any fan know as much as Arsene when it comes to players in Europe, even worldwide? He makes all of us look uninformed. It’s his job and he is fantastic at it.

  13. Finsbury says:

    Based upon todays performance, Chel$ki probably overpaid for Mikel.

  14. Two Owls says:

    Yogi, an absolutely superb article this morning. Very much enjoyed.

  15. irishgray says:

    Dam 1-1!! Owen equalizes Party on hold (for now )

  16. Finsbury says:

    I thought that that 4th place mentioned above was ‘secured’ with the aid of RVP scoring every goal and getting every assist over the winter holiday peroid.
    What do I know? I’m just an Arsenal fan.
    I guess the Sp*ds are still bitter about that one.

  17. Gainsbourg69 says:

    Bill, your plan sounds great. Why don’t you put a second mortgage on your house, sell your car, pick up an extra job and send Wenger all your money so he has a cushion in case he overspends?

  18. consolsbob says:

    Personally I would fine them every time they play as surely the idea of football is to have 11 football players on the pitch at any one time.

    In my experience Birmingham have never met this criteria.

  19. consolsbob says:

    Wasn’t it Anderson who said ” My hair is my Life”?

  20. irishgray says:

    Consolsbob – well put re: Birmingham 🙂 and as for Anderson, well, I just couldn’t be bothred

  21. Bill says:

    G69 @ 6:45:

    He certainly does not need any of my money. There is plenty in the bank already.

  22. consolsbob says:

    This is interesting. Lifted from Talksport ( Iknow but it is almost all quotes)

    Owen Coyle has slammed Carlos Vela’s agent after Bolton’s move for the Mexican striker collapsed.

    Vela was widely expected to seal a loan switch to the Reebok Stadium this week but instead moved to West Brom.

    But Coyle has revealed that a deal for Vela had been agreed between Arsenal and Bolton before the player’s agent got involved with separate financial demands.

    And the Bolton boss revealed this led to him pulling the plug on the deal, saying: “It was my decision.

    “We had permission from Arsenal regarding Carlos Vela. On Thursday night we agreed with Arsenal that we would pay the players salary, we also agreed to pay a loan fee to Arsenal.

    “Subsequent to that I then had a chat with Carlos Vela’s agent who informed me that there was more finances to come on top of that in terms of another fee and player appearances.

    “Anyway to cut a long story short it was out of the realms of possibility. We’re very upfront we have a fantastic relationship with Arsenal, we always have.

    “We’d agreed a deal with the football club and then outside influences meant that the deal was going to be financially far too much.

    “On Thursday night I said to the chairman ‘well that’s it we’ll leave that’, and I stepped away from it.

    “I never spoke to the player himself so I stress there’s no fault at the player’s door or indeed Arsenal football club.

    “It’s just it was getting far too much and I thought it was getting ridiculous and that’s why I stepped away from it.”

  23. Two Owls says:

    Joshua…Excellent post on the issues related to spending in the EPL. I read an article in the Independent some years back that Arsenal were, in fact, near the bottom of the league in spending.

    Having one more goal scored on our defence than Man United is something that I would not have suspected. That has been achieved without our first choice centre back! As you well point out Joshua, despite the lack of spending, Arsenal are not sucking any hind teats.

  24. irishgray says:

    Consolsbob – Very interesting post. I just can’t wait to see how the media twist this into something else.

  25. irishgray says:

    Would make my week if Southhampton could score

  26. Supercod says:

    Mmm, “Inter couldn’t meet Tottenham’s valuation of Gareth Bale”…..

    So they were prepared to sell their prize asset then…

  27. irishgray says:

    Yea that is funny Supercod, after all Arry’s protestations to the opposite they were indeed prepared to sell.

  28. Gainsbourg69 says:

    Lime, I agree with you that we’re all ill informed compared to Wenger’s scouts. My point is that given Wengers ability to pull a rabbit out of a hat so consistently it is pointless to argue about such silly things as overspending on players or Wengers apparent lack of action in the transfer market.

  29. Gainsbourg69 says:

    How do you know how much money’s in the bank or what’s being done with it, Bill? All I’m asking you is to put your money where your mouth is. If you feel that overspending is no big deal give the club your money and see how it feels.

  30. Mongolian Gooner says:

    Just downloaded the original Fever Pitch movie from the internet. Don’t know why I didn’t try searching torrent when I was wishing to watch it for ages now. Really excited.

  31. FunGunner says:

    @ YW
    He’s not a regular CB and that is not where he is playing in the team. To count him as such is ludicrous and weakens Wenger’s argument.
    To say this implies that you don’t think he can do a job.

    The implication is there in Wenger’s words: he has six centre backs including Song and four of them won’t be playing. Therefore, Song is considered a first choice.
    I understand what is going on with this now. AW said:
    “You want to sign a player for four years, all the others are on long contracts and then suddenly you have five and then Song is six. What do six centre backs do? Watch the games in the stands because they don’t play”
    He says “you have five and then Song is six” meaning Song is 6th choice, ie emergency backup.
    Then when he says “What do six centre backs do? Watch the games in the stands because they don’t play”, he means when they are all fit, referring back to the fact that they are all on long-term contracts, as only two can play at a time. He doesn’t mean Song suddenly jumps to the top of the list – he is clearly an emergency CB.

    Mind you, I’m still trying to work out where I’ve stated that Wenger needs to buy. Which is something you’ve categorically stated is something I believe…
    I did not do so. I think I said it would be pointless to buy someone who was not better than Song, but I didn’t say that you categorically believed we had to buy.

  32. FunGunner says:

    @ Finsbury
    forgot to say – yes great rant on Arsenal Vision – I’d read it earlier.

  33. FunGunner says:

    @ YW
    Scratch my first para – having realised how you interpreted Wenger’s words, I see that you are saying that Song is not currently a REGULAR in that position, but as you will see from the rest of my post, I think it’s clear that Wenger isn’t saying he is currently a regular – he is saying he can play there.

  34. FunGunner says:

    @ Irishgray
    This bit is brilliant –
    “He had already made Bolton’s David Jack the first £10,000 player, having allegedly bargained the Wanderers directors down while getting them drunk.”

    Arsene is clearly Herbert Chapman’s lovechild.

  35. irishgray says:

    FunGunner – Yea that part cracked me up too but the part that got me was the bit about goal-line technology. I mean it’s been how long now and we are still having the same debate after every World Cup/Euro finals?

  36. IndianGooner says:

    Thanks for the link.. The response for the goal-line technology was awesome.. Can’t believe the response given was almost 80 years ago and nobody has done anything yet…

    Arsene is indeed Herbert Chapman’s lovechild.. Arsene’s legacy will be mentioned in the same way we do about Chapman’s for years to come…

  37. Two Owls says:

    Regarding the Vela affair and his loan to another EPL team, I remain somewhat dumbfounded on how an agent can intercede on an arrangement between Arsenal and Bolton without the players consent. The Bolton Manager placed all the difficulties at the door of Vela’s Agent with his last minute intercession.

  38. Muppet says:

    Two Owls,

    It’s because the loanee club have to pay the wages. It seems that it’s a not a simple case of paying whatever Arsenal are paying Vela. Maybe the agent was just trying to get what he would get at Arsenal and that was unacceptable. It seems unlikely that they would try to get more. Well… who knows with these agents. !

  39. FunGunner says:

    @ Irishgray
    It’s a cliche, but I’m going to say it anyway – the man was a visionary.

  40. dukegoonem says:

    I dont know if your gunner win this one with fun!!

  41. dupsffokcuf says:

    Two Owls – I believe it was because Vela would have to move to either an hotel or rent an apartment if he played for Bolton. He can commute to WBA as Pires does to Villa

  42. Joshua says:


    Can I just say that your views on Almunia in today’s post are absolutely spot on. I feel that sometimes the fans forget all too easily that the players are human too. Almunia has been very dignified and has not gone around spewing poison in anyone’s direction or briefing the Spanish press on the sly. I may not rate Almunia as a top notch keeper but I do think that his conduct through out his Arsenal career has been exemplary. So very well said Sir.

  43. 1 loose cannon says:

    I think his agent has spoken to both clubs but first choice was bolton, he spoke to them and possibly told them to match West Brom’s offer but they could not so the player headed to West Brom. This is what agents do, they use the bidding war tactics to get maximum for their player. The same scenario is happening with the Kid from Southampton they are using all sort of tactics to get other clubs to bid, and push Arsenal to pay maximum. That is way the Arsenal Chairman said he will not enter the bidding war with united.

  44. steww says:

    Didn’t Southampton play well today? A real treat to watch. Great goal too.
    The opposition were awful and didn’t deserve a draw never mind any more. Right, I’m off to bed to dream of Herbert Chapman.

  45. Limestonegunner says:

    Irish, thanks for posting that article–it was fantastically interesting!

  46. team spirit says:

    Thanks Irish, thats defo an older version of AW!

    See this phrase on transfers for example as well as the reference to character

    Recruitment is all, then. So how do you identify a potential signing?
    ‘I’m always sorry for clubs who have to act hurriedly, for under favourable conditions it is a tricky business. It is not enough that a man should be a good player. The longer I have been on the managerial side, the more I am convinced that all-round intelligence is one of the highest qualifications. Brains today are more important than ever.’

  47. irishgray says:

    Joshua – Very good article. I wonder who it could be?

    Limestonegunner – Most welcome!! 🙂

    Team Spirit – That was what really impressed me too, as I could picture AW giving almost identical answers to each question.

  48. dukegoonem says:

    Bit early , wet the bed did ya.

  49. Frank says:

    Herbert Chapman…there’s only wan Herbert Chapman….waaan Herbert Chaaaapmaaaan….there’s only wan Herbert Chaaaapmaaan.

    You don’t meet many Herberts these days, do you?


  50. poodle says:

    I hear Tottenham is bidding 26M for some striker from Spain? Where do they get the money? Spurs have used so much money latley. Liverpool are spending again with 22M for Suarez “a player they valued at 12M 2 weeks ago” they say. Damn im glad we dont pay 22M for a player we valued at 12M two weeks ago. Im glad we dont get ripped off and conned every time we try to dip into the marked.

  51. poodle says:

    @joshua i did read your link but there is no journalist/author name attacthed to it. Does one have to be anonumus to critisize Sky these days?

  52. DeiseGooner says:

    poodle – they dont have the money — yet! — they are gambling getting into champions league and using the monies they will get from that – the fact that its th ejan window means they will pay over the odds if they want to get anyone – cant see the llorente signing happening though – not sure on Torres one it looks like it might be a goer

  53. Joshua says:


    I think the idea is that an currently active Premier league pro is giving his views on the game anonymously through a column in the paper _ that’s why they’ve called it “The Secret Footballer”. The article was actually on page one of Saturday’s Guardian but I skipped the first page because I thought it was all about Murray in Australia 🙂

    I’d say this though… whoever the player is he is quite a bright spark. I particularly like what he said about the inanities of “pundit speak” making it into popular culture. The number of times you end up with bloggers or commenters mouthing nonsense like “lack of football brain” as if the merely using a meaningless phrase uttered by a ‘plundit’ confers legitimacy on whatever the person may be saying.

    I’m quite interested to know who this player is…he may very well become football’s very own ‘Stig’ 🙂

  54. Joshua says:

    I should read my stuff before I post… too many errors in grammar in such a short post. Apologies

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