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by Zain Shahid

The Story of 2008...Sad Times...

The Story of 2008...Sad Times...

As we all know 2008 was one of the worst years in Arsenal’s recent history under Arsene Wenger. We were cruising at the top of the table with a 10 point lead as the year started but with a new year came a complete form slump. Dropping points again and again, Eduardo breaking his leg, Rosicky out, and we eventually end up 3rd despite leading for most part of the season. We also got unluckily knocked out of the Champions League to Liverpool, and were humiliated 4-0 at Old Trafford in the FA Cup. Then came summer and all we sign is young Ramsey who is not part of our first team as for now and Nasri, who is the only good thing that has happened to us this year (apart from that historic truimph at San Siro!). Apart from those two we signed Silvestre, who himself would not remember the last time he played for Manchester United, and Bischoff, who had hardly played for his previous club and has not played for Arsenal apart from a substitute appearance so far. Then this season started and we lost our second game of the season to Fulham, then got into a bit of form which ended at the Emirates to Hull City. Since then we have seen disappointing performances from the club, with only two standout performances against Manchester United and Chelsea. We have already lost more games so far this season than we did all season last season. We are 8 points behind the leaders, once again finished 2nd in the group stages of the Champions League, out of the Carling Cup to lowly Burnley. Luckily there wasn’t FA Cup this season in 2008 otherwise we would have been out of it too! So to sum it up 2008 was a very unlucky year for Arsenal. But luck is not going to betray Arsenal again and again will it?! I don’t think so. We have started the year winnig dirty…we all know teams come and park their bus against Arsenal and in 2008 they had been quite successful in it. However this year we have already been successful of winning against teams that come just to defend twice (if you include late last year’s fixture against Portsmouth in 2009!). We have advanced to the next round of the FA Cup and are looking all set to sign Arshavin. What a start don’t you think?! Last year we could not win against teams that came to just defend; and could anyone have imagined that Arsenal would buy a big name like they are very close to signing Arshavin! So the start is quite good…and if you believe in Lady Luck then maybe 2008 as a whole was meant to be a bad year and 2009 as the start suggests (though I admit it might be too early to start making conclusions) will be a good and ‘lucky’ year for Arsenal! Ok our best player is out but remember what happened when Henry went?! van Persie and company are really coming out of their shell now. van Persie has been producing consistent match winning performances and so has been Nasri. The defence hasn’t looked this good all this season, Vela is really starting to become an impact substitute, Ramsey is impressing, Denilson and Eboue are much improved, and even Bendtner who was hopeless last year has suddenly scored 2 goals from 2 matches in 2009! Eduardo is also back, and once Walcott and Fabregas return they will be like two big name signings for us after returning from long term injuries. So the signs are looking very good I think. Lets just hope for the best! May 2009 be Arsenal’s year!

Now back to the never ending Arshavin transfer speculation! The Russian star expressed his desire to wear the number 10 shirt at Arsenal and also hoped that he wont have a hard time in adjusting to Arsenal’s style of play:

“In some games last season, we played football which was very similar to that of Arsenal. I would prefer my present No 10 but in the team where I hope to move it’s not vacant. So I’m ready for any number they are going to offer me.

“In some games last season, we played football which was very similar to that of Arsenal.

So he wants the the no. 10 shirt in ‘the team where I hope to move’! Now that is awesome news! In most cases players who are to be sold end up at clubs of their choice and it seems Arshavin wants to join Arsenal.

Meanwhile Arsenal target Everton’s Mikel Arteta has dispelled transfer rumours linking him with Arsenal and Manchester City and assured his commitment to the Toffees.

The Rivals

The Rivals

by Zain Shahid

January is here. Sir Alex Ferguson is making use of it but so far no move from Arsene Wenger. But he has been linked with Arshavin, Arteta, Alonso, In|er to quote a few. I would like to talk about what exactly does Arsenal need this January.

I feel we need cover for the central defence. Gallas is good but he has his days, Toure is good but he is not in form right now and seems unhappy at Arsenal, Djourou is good but needs more time to play regularly in the 1st team. Thats where the list ends. I’m not counting Silvestre here because he is just not good enough. He should be played only when none of the other three I mentioned are unavailable. We have Song too, who Arsene says is more of a centre half than central midfielder but I have so far not been impressed by his tackling. I have seen him commit too many fouls which is not something one would want in a centre half so I would rule him out of the list too. We also don’t have the best young talent in this department either. Only Harvard Nordtveidt has been rated as a really talented centre half in our Reserves. So we need a good not too young and not too old centre back. Its a very tough job to find one but Arsene Wenger is quite good at it so if he feels he need to strengthen this area, he will somehow find a good, capable guy to fill in. But there are other departments that need more urgent strengthening so i guess a new centre back should be left till the summer considering the economic depression so we aren’t going to spend much.

Arshavin - Conflicting statements from his agent and Wenger

Arshavin - Conflicting statements from his agent and Wenger

Arsene Wenger has come out to address the transfer speculation surrounding Everton’s Mikel Arteta and Zenit’s Andrei Arshavin. The Arsenal manager said:

“Mikel Arteta is a very good player but we have not made any enquiry about him at all. There is no progress on [Andrei] Arshavin. If there is any progress made you will be informed, I promise you.”

He said no move has been made for Arteta but that there is ‘no progress on Arshvain’. So certainly a move has been made for him. And Arsene said a few days back that he cannot take names of the players he is negotiating with because that ends a 50% chance of signing him. So is it the reason why Wenger is saying no progress has been made on Arshavin so maybe he is hiding it to avoid ending that 50% chance of signing him because if there was no progress then Arshavin’s agent would never have come out and made the statement saying everyone would love to see Arshavin at Arsenal but wait a few days for it. Apart from that he also denied any truth in the rumour that Arsenal are looking for Shay Given. I always thought so because I never expected Arsene to be looking for a goalkeeper which is why I did not mention this rumour in my blog.

Arteta - Wenger not interested in him

Arteta - Wenger not interested in him

Wenger also addressed the issue of the credit crunch saying Arsenal have the best chance of surviving in it. And he also committed himself to the club in the wake of rumors linking him with a move to Real Madrid. He said:

“How many clubs have managed to build a new stadium, have a good financial situation and continue to play at the

top? Chelsea haven’t built a stadium and they lose £100m per year, how do you imagine you can deal with that at Arsenal without going bankrupt? We have to be responsible. The other clubs, except for Man United, lose money. This team is together getting stronger and stronger but what we need to focus on is continually developing and not live in dreamland where we are linked with players of £30 to £40 million because that’s not realistic. It is not that we don’t want to spend. We have gone for a policy that is to develop our young players and we have to show some character and strength and not listen to everybody who comes out everyday with a new name. The players who have made a massive impact here are not always the ones who have cost £30 or £40m. I can cite you players in the last 10 or 15 years who have cost £30m and have been a flop. It is not necessarily linked that you spend £30m and get a massive player. I believe I have shown my commitment to this club. I accepted when we built the new stadium to stay and to commit my long-term future to the club under restrictions. I don’t think anyone can doubt my commitment here and question my decisions and I accept that, but not my commitment.”

Well Arshavin is not for £30m or £40m! I just can’t accept any news that contradict the chances of Arshavin coming to Arsenal! Apart from that I am not an economist so I really can’t comment on the other stuff he is saying except that it seems the financial situation of Arsenal is perfectly fine.

by Zain Shahid

Peter Hill-Wood - Denies an Arsenal spending spree

Peter Hill-Wood - Denies an Arsenal spending spree

Arsenal Chairman Peter Hill-Wood has made another public appearance. This time he said that Arsenal are not going to spend big this January to ensure the business keeps running swiftly. This news comes soon after Andrei Arshavin’s agent said he might be an Arsenal player in the coming days. The Chairman of Arsenal said:

“I don’t think there is a lot of money anywhere. One has got to look ahead – in the future there is probably not going to be much more money coming in. We have got money, but I am not sure we are going to spend it. We’ve got to continue to run the business in a sensible way. It may sound boring, but we are not going to rush out and spend fortunes on people who won’t help us achieve anything better than where we are at the moment. Arsene has a lot of young, talented players at the club and I think he will probably give a chance to one or two of them.”

One thing is for sure now, Arsenal has got the money! But probably now Arshavin will be the only player coming in this January. But he said we are not going to spend on people who are not going to help us achieve anything better than we are at the moment. A quality central midfielder does not fit into this condition. So maybe we might still see Alonso or Arteta coming in. Or maybe as Hill-Wood said Arsene might give a chance to a couple of youngsters so as everyone knows Arsenal’s central midfield needs strengthening so probably Ramsey might be playing more often from now on. But I still hope either Arteta or Alonso join Arsenal along with Arshavin this month and I am sure we will then be challenging for the title, and not just the Premier League but the other two trophies too will be in Arsenal’s sight.

by Zain Shahid

January is just round the corner and Arsenal as always are being linked with a host of players. I have already mentioned most of them in my previous posts. But one thing that I am not pleased with is that no winger has been linked with Arsenal yet. We have seen in the season so far that lack of wide players has been a huge cause for concern. Yet I am surprised Wenger hasn’t made any move in this direction yet. Denilson and Diaby on the flanks has led to a lack of width in matches and that has on quite a few occasions been the main reason for dropped points. We all know Walcott is out for maybe 2 more months, Rosicky out for the season. That leaves us with Nasri and Eboue. Nasri has had his injury problems so far and Eboue is just not good enough for Arsenal I think. So why not buy a winger?  Maybe Arsene Wenger has plans to play Arshavin on tha right wing i guess. Or maybe some secret transfer! I would like to mention here that in the past couple of seasons all the players that Arsenal has bought, all or nearly all of them had been complete surprises for us as they had not been linked with the club before and the transfer jus came out of the blue moon.

Wenger - Might have some huge surprises for the fans

Wenger - Might have some huge surprises for the fans

Now that I have mentioned Arshavin, there is more to his story. Wenger had an interview on French TV where he said “I start feeling the crisis but I can’t spend £40m. We are looking at a creative player and another midfielder.” Quite surprising because Arsene hardly ever reveals his transfer plans. So now we know who is he looking for. The creative midfielder, I have a feeling, is Arshavin whereas the ‘another midfielder’ could be anyone from Arteta to Alonso to Veloso to In|er. But it could be a winger too as he specifically has not mentioned the word central midfielder. Later when he was asked about the Arshavin link he smiled and replied “Be a little patient. From the moment you give a name, you remove 50% chance of success to sign him.” So he has once again not denied it and we all know when he is not looking for a player and that player is being linked with the club, Wenger has been bold enough to quash the rumours. So good news there for Arsenal fans.

I would like to know if you guys agree with me on the need for a winger.

by Zain Shahid

Arteta - Might soon be wearing the red and white of Arsenal

Arteta - Might soon be wearing the red and white of Arsenal

Arsene Wenger is reportedly looking to make a move for Evertons Spanish midfielder Mikel Arteta for £12m. Earlier Liverpool’s Xabi Alonso was on Wenger’s wish list but maybe the high price and the fact that Rafa Benitez is highly unlikely to sell his star player to his title rivals scared Wenger off. Wenger is looking for a good central midfielder so probably there might be truth in this one. With Fabregas out Arsenal need a central midfielder of his type and Arteta and Alonso are very similar to him ( though nowhere near him when it comes to quality:-p) . Even though David Moyes would not want to sell his main player but the £12m might be enough to to convince him to sell, especially considering that Everton are lacking in the strikers department and £12m will certainly get them a good, quality striker.

Apart from that Wenger is also reportedly weighing up a £10m bid for Dynamo Kiev centre back Pape Diakhate. And reports also suggest that Kolo Toure might be on his way out this January.

Future Teammates?

Future Teammates?

Arteta will surely be a good buy if the move goes through. The fact that Wenger said he wants to buy players which can start making an immediate impact and not need settling time hints that this move might be on, or that of Alonso. However this very fact puts Diakhate out of the buying list. I’m not even sure if he is good enough for one of the best clubs of Europe. As for Kolo Toure on his way out (and that too to Manchester City) seems like a joke to me! Why would he swap a club that might well be fighting for the title in the coming months for a club that might be looking to prevent relegation! Money is a factor no doubt, but there are other factors other than money which are more important when changing clubs (which Flamini does not know!). So to sum it up only Arteta might be on his way in and no one on his way out as yet.

Toure - Unhappy At Arsenal...

Toure - Unhappy At Arsenal...