Category Archives: Arsenal

Tee-shirts, ads, and stuff, OH MY.

Come on £15 is cheap are you kidding???

I just wanted to thank all of my readers who ordered and paid for the 7amkickoff shirts. The last batch went out on Monday (late due to my bout with illness) and everyone except my Paraguyan reader should get theirs by Friday. If you don’t get your shirt by Friday, let me know via email (7amkickoff at gmail) and we’ll work something out.

The thing is I have a few shirts left and, well, in all likelihood I’ll be doing a semi-annual rotating shirt for folks to buy, to support the site. So, what I’m wondering is if any of the folks who already bought the shirts wouldn’t mind sending in a picture of themselves (or loved one) wearing the shirt for an ad campaign I’m putting together for the remaining shirts?

Also, please note that I’ve added some affiliates on the sidebar, I’m going to be working on some custom graphics for those as well, so bear with the ugliness for a bit! I will be keeping the affiliates down to a very small number and only select sites that I really dig their stuff and want to support.  For example, I give free ads to both Doyle’s and the George and Dragon, because well, because I like them!

Anyway, enough of me hawking shite to you all, thanks for the support and UP THE ARSE today against Celtic, I know the lads can do the job in spite of the fact that 60,000 Scots can sing “You’ll Never Walk Alone” in unison.

Pre-Match Presser: The Tao of Wenger

wenger

Big match today, and before I get to the pre-match press conference I just want to say with 100% confidence that my American readers will be able to see the game live and possibly in high definition on your local Fox Sports Net (FSN) affiliate. Fox has pulled out all the stops and are wildly promoting their Champions League coverage with water bottles, mouse pads, USB drives, and tee shirts that look like they were drawn in my daughter’s art class. If that doesn’t work, I hear they’re going to follow up with a whist drive, a car boot sale, and a major, and I mean major… leaflet campaign.

Right, now that that’s sorted and you can even go to one location on Fox’s web site to find out who is carrying which game, it’s time to get on with the match preview.

It’s funny how we get different versions of Wenger depending on the mood of the team and the size of the challenge ahead. In yesterday’s press conference we had a clearly ebullient Arsene Wenger, flying high off his team’s 6-1 destruction of Champions League challengers Everton. This is the fun Wenger to cover, he’s philosophical, funny, and even lets his guard down a bit and we gain some insights into the man.

Now, I may be reading too much into this, but there was a point when he was asked about his system of bringing youth players along where he said a phrase that seemed almost well worn. As if he’d turned this phrase over in his hands many times in the past. He said that there are three things which guarantee success: Talent, Attitude, and Opportunity.

Maybe it’s just coincidence that those three words spell out “Tao” but it’s a bit of a strange coincidence if it is. After all, my own readers have pointed out that there’s some kind of connection between the way that Wenger coaches and the Zen Master Phil Jackson coached the Bulls and the Lakers. Yes, I am aware that Zen and Tao are not the same thing, but you get the point.

There’s still a lot of folks wondering about Wenger’s seemingly endless resolve to create this Arsenal team in his own image. Especially in the face of what has been pretty much ubiquitous criticism of that very system for the last 4 years. Rest assured, Wenger heard it, and promptly ignored it:

My belief (in the team) is full. If I had read, or listened too much to opinions I would not have done what I’ve done.

In so many ways this is possibly the truest measure of the man. I have often called him an iconoclast and occasionally even likened him to the founders of the Punk movement for his stalwart position on how football should be played and how a team should be built; football should be total, attacking, beautiful, even graceful movements. To accomplish this players should be technical, precise, quick, intelligent, confident with the ball, and strong and decisive in the challenge. And in Wenger’s world view, the best way to get players who can achieve that is to make them from scratch which will limit the potentially corrosive effect of negative attitude. Then, you throw them in and give them the chance to show what they are made of, whether that’s a 16 year old given a start in a League Cup match, or sticking to your guns for a whole season in order to grow Song and Denilson, he’s going to present players with chances to prove themselves.

Talent, Attitude, Opportunity.

You have to admit it looks suspiciously like the title of the book he’s going to write when he does retire from the Arsenal.

As for tomorrow’s match, he urged us to remember that though the result was great on Saturday, and though his belief in the team is great, it was but one game. He even claimed to see room for improvement both offensively and defensively. When pressed about Tony Mowbray’s supposed cunning plan and keen insight into Arsenal’s new-found pressing game, Wenger deflected from this single game and talked about the need for defense in general, saying

A team cannot concede 37 goals and win the Premiership, no matter how good they are going forward.

True in the Premier League and actually even more true in the Champions League where one goal in the wrong park can make the difference between moving on or going home.

Despite the talk about defense, I fully expect goals today, Celtic are an attacking team owing to the fact that Tony Mowbray is nearly as much of a footballing philosopher as Arsene Wenger and this should present us with some very real chances to score. Conversely, much has been made of the home field advantage and Arsenal have been susceptible to strong wing play which Celtic have in bounds. Look for the crowd to get to their feet every time a Celtic player bombs down the wings and puts in a nice cross.

Wenger feels, though, that it’s down to Arsenal to control the crowd, and to an extent that’s true.

The atmosphere will be very heated but at the end of the day it’s XI v. XI on the pitch and that’s what matters. We have been all over Europe at very heated places and we know by experience that what will matter is how well we play and so, if we play well we can keep the atmosphere low key. It’s only down to our performance.

As I’ve said before, Arsenal went to Fener and played our game and came away with a 5-2 win and polite applause from what is typically an insanely raucous crowd.  I’m not suggesting a similar score line, rather just that an Arsenal goal would go a long way to take some of the wind out of the Celtic crowd.

An average game will not be good enough against Celtic. It is a game we try to win, it’s as simple as that. Because it’s not a game where you can go into it and give 90% and then make up the difference at home.

I couldn’t agree more. It’s an exciting opportunity for Arsene’s current crop of talent and I’m guessing that Wenger has them pulsing with the right attitude.

Talent, Attitude, Opportunity, the Tao of Wenger will be tested today

American TV Schedules Confuse even Americans

There’s a lot of confusion right now as to who’s carrying what and where you can watch tomorrow’s Arsenal match over here in The States. I know previously I have been both railed upon and hailed for my position on ESPN carrying games in America and no doubt this current confusion will only add to the haters. But, if momentary confusion is the price to pay for getting to watch the EPL in high definition, then I’ll gladly pay that price. As Benjamin Franklin once famously said “Those who would give up their high definition for a little temporary understanding deserve neither understanding nor high definition football.”

The kind folk(s?) at Soccer TV Listings have managed to do what I failed to do last week; pull together a single listing for all the football broadcasts in the U.S. Sadly, they are listing the Arsenal match as tape delay and in Low Def on Fox Soccer Channel.

That said, this is where it gets confusing. If you go to msn.foxsports.com and check out your local listings you might find something that looks like this:

Ignore the watersports

See that “FSN 37″ and “FSN 537?” Those are my local Fox Sports Network channels. Normally they play things like Seattle Supersonics games and since the Sonics have left, all we have left to show on that channel is the Little League World Series from two years ago, Competitive Dominoes, Eric’s Little Heroes All 26 Episodes, and The World Series of Watching Paint Dry.

But it looks like, maybe, JUST MAYBE, they’ll be showing some “soccer” tomorrow. I’m being cautious here because I’ve been down this road before with live television broadcasts of football matches here in the U.S. There was an FA Cup match a few years ago that was supposed to be on Setanta, well I was at home and going through the listings, and lo and behold it was on pay-per-view. Well, rather than go to the bar, I thought, eh fuck it, and ordered the match. When the screen was still black 30 minutes into kickoff I knew something was seriously wrong. It turned out that the local TV company had listed a pay-per-view that they didn’t have rights to list.

See, this isn’t a football (American football) game so the TV Guides have a loose editorial policy toward these things and they sometimes list games that they don’t have the rights to actually play. Now, I know that these are both Fox channels, and I know that Fox DOES have the rights to play these matches which is what’s giving me hope that this listing is true. But if it is true, then why is it that when I go to the Fox Soccer web site, they don’t tell me to check my regional Fox Sports station for the Celtic v. Arsenal match live and in high definition?

You’d think that someone might want to advertise the fact that they are carrying a huge Champions League clash live and in high def. It is, after all the only Champions League clash that anyone outside of Sheriffville or Greece gives two fucks about.

That’s why I’m being cautious and saying that in all likelihood the game is going to be shown exclusively on Fox Soccer Channel at 3pm on tape delay. Because the brainchildren at Fox Soccer Channel decided that there was a more important Champions League match that day;  FC Sheriff v. Olympiacos. And if they can’t get that right, well then no doubt they’ve screwed this listing up as well.

Cautiously op(tim)istic, that will be on my gravestone.

There isn’t any Arsenal news this morning and that’s just fine. After Saturday’s festivities a nice quiet day of rest, or two, is exactly what’s needed. Nope, I’m not going to write about it if there’s a story or two about some quotes from some former Arsenal player who polished a turd on Saturday and then went bleating on about how Arsenal supporters didn’t support him, blah blah blah. You’ll have to suffer with the foreknowledge that the Champions League and Premier League’s most offsides man will eventually get an earful from the Moneybags City “faithful” when they see that his price is too high.

Me, I’m going to take advice from Fabregas who said “We are a team, and you either want to be part of it or not. If you don’t, it is best you go.” That lad seems to know what he’s talking about.

As for the transfer news, or lack thereof, there’s still some rumblings about Lescott joining Adebayor in the treasure bath at Man City.  I’ve said it before, I think Lescott is a linchpin to a transfer merry-go-round involving Arsenal and Senderos and someone Arsene has his eye on as Senderos’ replacement. It looks like Everton are lining up Steven Taylor from Newcastle as Lescott’s direct replacement and then would want Senderos as cover. Who Arsenal are eyeballing is anyone’s guess, though I am almost absolutely certain that it will not be some Indian fellow as reported on Goal dot com.

Oh hey, one last thing: remember when I told you that if Tony Cascarino says something that Arsenal should do just the opposite, and Arsenal supporters should think just the opposite? Well in today’s column he’s decided to stick to his Guns (har har) and is still claiming that Arsenal will be, how do the Brits say it, bare shit (?). His logic is that Arsenal play well on nice days but can’t compete when it’s raining, in February. The problem with that logic is that it was February when Arsenal played Sunderland to a 0-0 draw at home and that was a magnificent day, I have the pictures to prove it!

Moreover, it was from December until March that Arsenal went on their unbeaten streak and despite the one week of fine weather that I suffered during my stint in London, the weather was hardly conducive to Arsenal’s supposed fair-weather dandies.

Like I’ve said before, Tony Cascarino is one of the least bright footballing minds and if you ever get advice from him, do the exact opposite.

UPDATE

My local Fox Sports Channel is now listing it on my DVR as “LIVE: Celtic v. Arsenal” and others are confirming that the talking heads on Super Sunday Pus (who incidentally I turned off after the third minute when they started talking about how only teams that spend huge have a chance to challenge for the league, in spite of the fact that the most dominant team on Saturday was the team who spent the least)

uhhh… where was I… oh yeah Super Sunday Pus… those guys were promoting tomorrow’s match on your local Fox Affiliate. Fingers and toes crossed now!