Category Archives: Arsenal

Arsenal head into the transfer doldrums

Quick round up of the transfer rumors as I have a work thing.

First, this idea that Arsenal are going to trade Santi Cazorla for Arda Turan (Atletico) is a strange one but for some reason it won’t die. I can’t quite get my head around why Wenger would want Turan over Cazorla. Cazorla is 2-footed, is a proven dribbler, scores important goals, sets up his teammates (has more Premier League assists over the last three years than any other player), and is coming off a huge season where he showed versatility in several positions. Turan is a good player and he is also versatile, dribbles, passes well, etc. The only difference is that Cazorla is slightly smaller and two years older. Other than that, this trade  makes no sense. Oh wait, it was first reported in Metro? Ah.. So can we just ignore this now?

In William Carvalho news: Jesus has said that Carvalho will be staying at Sporting. Hey, unlike Metro, ESPN get their news from a higher power.


Jokes aside, Carvalho’s manager, Jorge Jesus, has said that he thinks William will be at Sporting next year. It’s all just a bit of manager talk, he’s not saying that no one has bid or that William is not for sale, just that he’s planning for William to be with the team next year.

This story, along with today’s news that Ronald Koeman has said there are no serious bids for Morgan Schneiderlin, has sent the good ship DM Arsenal Transfer straight into the doldrums. We’re in the doldrums and in irons. Nothing to do but wait, hope, and maybe harpoon a whale and have it drag us back out to the current. My guess is that whale will be the famed Lars Bender and before you know it, the press will be shouting “thar she blows! A hump like a snowhill! It’s Lars Bender!” And we will have some good-old-fashioned transfer rumors about “Wenger preparing a bid” and “Wenger readies preparations for swoop” or “Wenger changes tack away from Carvalho and onto Bender, here are the 10 reasons Arsenal fans would be happy with Bender, but once you click them you won’t believe what you see.”

There was a DM that was an Arsenal target, and the subject of much blogging, who was sold for a fraction of what he cost Tottenham to buy two years ago. I’m talking here about Etienne Capoue. I started a longer post about Capoue’s fall from grace a few days ago (and the dangers of the transfer market/using stats to say “X player will be good”) and discovered some statistical anomalies which I had to clarify with Opta. I’ll try to finish it tomorrow and I think it will be a good read into why I both love and hate individual stats. Needless to say, the Capoue story is just one of many examples where bloggers and fans get excited about a player and he turns into fairy dust. There have been so many examples of this, especially at Liverpool and Tottenham that it’s actually frightening to think that all these clubs really don’t know much more about player recruitment than, say, me. It seems to me that I’m about as right as they are about these things. Except Arsenal, Wenger still has a magic touch (despite some rather prominent failures).

And speaking of prominent failures… Lukas Podolski is no longer an Arsenal player, he agreed to a multi-year deal to play football in Turkey. To be fair to all sides, I blame Robin van Persie for Lukas Podolski’s failure. If Robin van Persie had shown a modicum of the loyalty and faith that Arsenal had shown him during his 6.5 year injury coma, Arsenal wouldn’t have been forced to buy Podolski, and he could still be in Köln dancing and partying with the locals, who love him so much. Instead, RvP’s Independence Day letter burned all the bridges down and forced Wenger to buy a guy who clearly didn’t have the mental strength to compete at the highest level.

Ironically, as Podolski goes to Galatasaray, van Persie is headed to Fenerbahce — anyone want to wager on which of those two teams is involved in a match fixing scandal next year?

And finally… Arsenal appointed a new fitness coach. This is great. Fantastic. I think. I don’t know. I do know that Wenger took a lot of heat over the fitness of his players over the last decade, he tried to right the ship internally and when that didn’t work, well, it looks like he is clearing house and starting all over. Last season, Arsenal still struggled with injuries, though that seemed to get better toward the end of the season, so it remains to be seen whether or not the new regime can keep Arsenal fit for a full season.

That’s all I’m talking about today. I have to dash.





Higuain duffs, Alexis chips, and Chile win the Copa America

By Tim Todd, Alexis Aficionado 

The Copa America final last night was one of the most exciting matches I’ve seen all season. What made it so exciting was that it was a match played at an unbelievably fast pace, the underdogs won by tooth and nail, there was a crucial coaching error in the 74th minute, and the game was won with an audacious final kick. If you didn’t love watching this game, you probably don’t love football.

Both teams went into this final having dominated their opponent’s in terms of possession. I think the stat quoted was something like 70% for Argentina, 65% for Chile and when two teams who pay similar style of football meet, it’s usually a recipe for an unusual match. One would expect that both teams would attempt to impose themselves on the game but having watched a number of these types of matches now both teams almost always seem to try something completely different.

Yesterday, it seemed like both teams simply bypassed the midfield. Long passes up field were the order of the day and it caused the game to have an almost ping-pong feel to it. The Argentines would hit a long ball forward, Chile would snuff out the attack (mostly through Gary Medel), then the Argentines would press to try to win the ball back in their own attacking third and if Chile broke the press, they would often hit a long ball forward in return. Argentina would then snuff out the Chile attack, Chile would press high up the pitch and force turnovers, or Argentina would hit a long ball forward or start a fast break. That happened for about 120 minutes.

And credit has to go to Chile, mostly, in regards to the level of defending that they were able to maintain for 120 minutes under such a sustained attack. Sure, Argentina did the same but Argentina’s back line are a who’s who of top club players, Marcos Rojo (Man U), Demichelis (Man City), Zabaleta (Man City), and with Javier Mascherano (Barcelona) sweeping up any messes. Those players are expected to defend well. Meanwhile, Chile’s defense was Isla (Juventus) and goalkeeper Claudio Bravo (Barcelona) along with Gary Medel (formerly of Cardiff) and Jean Beausejour (formerly of Wigan).

Gary Medel, in particular, was huge — all 171cm of him. Just 5’7″ tall and looking a bit like a fireplug with a Marine haircut, Medel simply made himself useful on nearly every defensive possession. Whether it was a perfectly timed slide tackle, barging Messi off the ball, taking a foul for the team, stepping into a gap to cut out the through ball, or challenging aerial duels with guys who are half a foot taller, Medel did all of the dirty work for his country: he took out the trash and scrubbed the kitchen floors.

Oh, and I already mentioned Messi, but Argentina’s attack was more than just Messi. They started the match with Angel di Maria (Man U), Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Kun Aguero (Man City), and Javier Pastore (PSG). But Chile just dealt with them in one of the most professional, workman-like ways that I have seen a defense organized.

Argentina had a wealth of talent in nearly every position on the field and had the type of bench that most club teams can’t even dream of having. On the bench they had Carlos Tevez (Juventus), Ezequiel Lavezzi (PSG), and even some smaller club talents like Erik Lamela (Tottenhams) and Gonzo Higuain (currently in the discount bin at Napoli).

And with that great bench, Argentina coach Gerardo Martino, in the 74th minute, chose to take off Kun Aguero — one of the most clinical finishers in any of the top leagues — and put on Gonzo “The Great” Higuain.

To say that Gonzalo Higuain has suffered a miserable second season at Napoli would be like saying that A Nightmare on Elm Street was “a little scary”. Higuain’s career has taken a nearly prodigious fall from grace. Going from one of the most clinical finishers in world football to a player who now routinely misses penalties.

I don’t know why Aguero was taken off in the 74th minute — he didn’t look injured. I do know that since making the move to Man City his minutes have often been limited and he has averaged just 70 minutes per game in Champions League and Premier League play. But why Martino chose Higuain over the much more in form Carlos Tevez is inexplicable.

From an outsider’s perspective it looked like the game was a lock for penalties. And Higuain has been miserable at penalties this season for Napoli, especially in high pressure situations. He missed a penalty in the final match of the Serie A season and it was a penalty which might have ensured Napoli’s place in the Champions League. All told, he was 3/7 from the spot last season, which is incredibly bad for any player much less for your star striker.

To be fair to coach Martino, the only other real choice was Carlos Tevez and he was 2/4 on penalties this season. So, I guess it was a case of damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

And toward the end of the game Higuain had a chance to win for Argentina but just came up short. A fairly poor diagonal ball was played to Higuain as he huffed and puffed to get to the ball on the corner of the 6 yard box but his sliding, diving, shot bundled safely into the side netting.

Alexis Sanchez also had a chance in the dying embers of the game, but after 120 minutes of frenetic football, after the end of a season of frenetic football for Arsenal, which followed on the heels of a World Cup last summer full of frenetic football for Chile, his audacious looping attempt was just a foot over the bar.

And so, it went to penalties but here is where the underdogs had an ace in the hole: the Chilean ‘keeper is Claudio Bravo, Argentina had put on Gonzo and then let him take a penalty, and Chile had Alexis Sanchez. Gonzalo Higuain missed badly for Argentina’s second penalty and Claudio Bravo saved Argentina’s third from Ever Banega. So, up stepped Chile’s inspirational little forward, Alexis Sanchez.

Alexis let out a puff of breath, ran at the ball full tilt, and when the ‘keeper dove to his right, Alexis coolly chipped the ball into the other side of the goal. Alexis had hit a “Panenka” to win his country its first ever Copa America, on home soil, in front of a stadium full of his countrymen who would slaughter him if he missed in such a audacious fashion. But he didn’t and Chile lifted the cup.

Arsenal were linked to both Higuain and Sanchez in the last two years and as an Arsenal fan, I have to say that Wenger has gotten it right in the transfer market for two years now running. He bought Mesut Ozil and the next summer Germany won the World Cup. He bought Alexis Sanchez and the next summer Chile won the Copa America. So, does that mean that Wenger buying Petr Cech will help Czechoslovakia win the Euro 2016 or will Wenger buy Sterling and hand that honor to England? He probably has someone else in mind, a little surprise for us all, like Alexis.



Cool Brew: Schneiderlin and Carvalho still drip drip drip

Here in Tacoma the temperatures have finally reached 33 degrees and like a famous painting by Dali everything here is lobster telephone.

For those of you who are like me and addicted to coffee this time of year you have very few options to get your fix while also staying cool. And by cool, I mean both temperature and also cool in the same way that Snoopy became Joe Cool.

To be really cool take four cups of filtered water, pour it over 1 cup of ground coffee (medium course grind) and let that steep in the fridge overnight. Yes, today you will have to drink hot coffee or maybe iced coffee with a little simple syrup but please don’t stoop to getting an ice cream sundae coffee from Starbucks. But tomorrow, you will have liquid delicious.

The next day you simply filter your cold brew coffee, I like to use just a sieve because I like cowboy coffee (it has grit in the bottom) but if you’re more refined take a coffee filter or butter muslin and pour the brew through there.

Make sure you serve the cold brew over ice, because this stuff is very strong. Also, make sure you bring your spirit guide and know your dosage, I don’t want to be held liable for you ingesting too much caffeine and having a bad trip.

At this point, I was going to transition into a post about the dangers of the transfer market and how fans want players who are then busts (see: Liverpool offloading 11 players this morning, how many of them did you want at Arsenal; see Tottenham offloading 10 players this morning, how many of them did you want at Arsenal?). But I discovered something in my research that made me pause and I have to go ask some questions.

Since that will be a bit of an unsatisfying way to end this blog, let me leave you with this: I read the headlines about Schneiderlin and Carvalho this morning with interest.

The Schneiderlin one is that Southampton want United and Morgan to finalize the deal but that something is stalling. Rumor has it that United’s offer was short of what Southampton wanted but the thing that haunts me here is that I know Schneiderlin is keener to move to Arsenal than to United — I know because Phillipe Auclaire said so — the problem with Schneiderlin isn’t the player, it’s his agents.

So, when I read on ESPN that the Schneiderlin to United deal has stalled a tiny part of me is fantasizing that Morgan is telling his agents to work things out with Arsenal. It’s probably not the case, but I can dream.

I dream because Arsenal haven’t stolen a transfer from under United’s noses since the Aaron Ramsey deal fell through. And because I really like Schneiderlin.

As for the Carvalho story, I read that Arsenal made £20m bid for Carvalho this morning. It’s from an unreliable source so I don’t believe it. However, I do have some information on the Carvalho link which I can share.

I have, for a while, felt like the Carvalho interest was agent generated but after a conversation with someone named Sport Witness on twitter, I feel like maybe Arsenal have been interested for a few years.

Apparently in Portugal, scouts apply for match tickets in much the same way the press do. Thus, they have to register their names with the clubs and clubs, in turn, publish this information. In other words it’s easy to confirm that X scout from Y club went to Z match. And according to the clubs, Arsenal have been to a lot of the Sporting Lisbon matches over the last two years. Arsenal don’t do as much scouting in Portugal as they do in other places, so apparently, when we do, there are a lot of people who take notice.

They could be watching someone else, or they could be watching everyone and just looking for talent. They could also be looking to confirm that Carvalho is worth the price.

Personally, I still have reservations about this deal and I think Arsenal do as well. It could just be simply a matter of trying to ensure that the price they pay matches the value but it seems to me that Carvalho is not really high on Wenger’s list.

While he’s been scouting Carvalho, Wenger has made bids for Gustavo and Schneiderlin. Perhaps Carvalho is just as good as Wenger’s first choice, but that seems unlikely. And historically, Wenger won’t just bid for bodies to fill imaginary roster spaces — no matter how many times people beg him to buy Shane Long because he’s better than Sanogo.

But hey, I was wrong about Cech (I still can’t believe that Chelsea let him go to Arsenal) so, I guess that means Arsenal are signing Carvalho on Monday. You heard it here first! World Exclusive!

That’s all for today, it’s a slow day. Hope you get to go outside and enjoy the summer before football comes back next month and ruins everything for us again.