Arsene holds a press conference, says nothing

I've got a cunning plan.

Whelp, this is it, some sort-real-ish continental-esque football is going to take place in the Emirates stadium this morning and Arsenal are involved. So, yesterday, Wenger gave a press conference, ostensibly, to talk about the game but of course, when it comes to Arsenal it’s not about how we play, for the press it’s about who we are/aren’t/might buy.

The opening scene is Arsene Wenger, flanked by a clearly uncomfortable Backary Sagna, sitting at some surreal looking angled desk. Everything looks off kilter and uncomfortable, but the first question is fired and right away we’re into it.

The good news for today is that Clichy and Rosicky are both healthy and will play today.  Huh, OK, Tim 0-1 Wenger, I reported that Clichy was still injured yesterday, cocked that up didn’t I? I had a reliable source tell me he wasn’t injured and I chose to ignore him, won’t be doing THAT again!

The boss did say that Diaby is injured but it’s minor and he should play next weekend. Wenger calls it a “little knee problem” and I have to wonder on a guy that big wouldn’t little knees be extra devastating? Maybe little knees would explain why he’s always injured at the start of the season.

And then there it is 1:14 into a 20 minute presser and the press start asking about squad depth, which is code for “ZOMG PLEASE TELL US YOU’RE GOING TO BUY SOMEONE SO WE CAN SELL NEWSPAPERS!!!one!!1!!”

Wenger used the Like a New Signing defense and quickly parried that question with an Eduardo. He said they were worried about Dudu but that the second surgery made him all better, he’s now Man Plus. I’ll be wearing my Eduardo strip today and I hope he gets a quad-trick.

Sagna shifts in his seat and looks nervously around as a photographer takes their picture.

The boss mentions Rosicky as well, HA SUCK IT PRESS CORPSE, he used two Like a New Signing defensive maneuvers on your asses, pack it up fellas, you aren’t getting anything out Wenger today.

Next, some dum dum tries to trick Wenger into saying he’s buying someone by asking if he’s going to re-invest the “good business”  Arsene did by selling Ade and Toure for a gajillion dollars profit back into the squad.  “Do we want to buy, do we need to buy, we have the money” responds Wenger. Seriously, you guys aren’t getting anything out of him.

I think the press is rusty, maybe this is their training camp, because they don’t seem to have the man figured out yet and so the next question is direct “Will you use some of the money to buy Patrick Vieira, erm, maybe??”

I’ve said in the past that Wenger gets a bit of a kick out of these press conferences and these are the kinds of questions that he really loves. You can tell, he gets a big ole shiat-eating grin on his face, and calmly says

I don’t want to speculate too much on who will come in, but I promise you do we sign anybody that you will be the first informed.

He left off, “amateurs.”

Someone asked about Maraoune Chamakh and I finally get to hear his name pronounced by another human being! I have been calling him CHAM-kah in my head all summer, but this guy called him cham-ACK similar to shellac. Which suddenly makes a lot of sense!

Thanks for clearing that up, guys!

Oh yeah, le Boss dodged that question as well. DUH. And in a vain attempt to put this entire line of questioning to bed says “The only thing I can say is that we are NOWHERE NEAR signing anyone at the moment.” That’s his emphasis, folks, 3 minutes in and this presser is over!  Right?

“Arsene can I ask, do you think you need another striker, though?”

Damn, persistent little guys aren’t they? Didn’t you hear the part 2 minutes ago where he said that Arsenal have “8 defenders, 8-9 midfielders, and 4 strikers, plus the kids?” Did you miss that part?  Or how about the part where he said that he felt the squad was deep enough to compete for honors and that Eduardo and Rosicky are back? Dudes, we’ve been over this…

Wenger takes the other approach, though and just names 6 top guys who play striker: “van Persie, Bendtner, Eduardo, Vela, Walcott, and Arshavin.”  I have to agree with Wenger on this one, if we do buy cham-ACK I’d put huge money on Wenger converting him to some other position. Holding mid? He is good with his head!

Blah blah blah “we’re no where near signing Patrick Vieira” and then…

“Arsene, listening to you now, has a familiar ring about it…” oh good, someone who’s been here before “in terms of players you’ve let go and quality you say you’ve retained…” hmmm… where’s this going, I don’t like your tone “what makes you think with the squad you’ve got that you can push on from last season?”

It’s a fair question, I guess, from an outsider’s point of view. But from my perspective it’s a pretty shiatty thing to say because it’s couched in this sort of press driven hysteria that Arsenal are no longer a top club. It’s part of this tradition that leads to stupid statements like there’s no longer a top four but rather a “top three.” And, “Wenger must look to Spurs for a solution” and “Arsene Wenger must buy or Arsenal will stagnate.” The last of which is a “column” by former Chelsea man and Republic of Ireland fraud Tony Cascarino. I have always maintained that if Tony Cascarino says to do it, we should do the opposite. Tony wants Arsene to buy a bunch of big name players (hey, like Chelsea!) and Wenger laid out in this press conference the exact opposite, describing why he thinks this squad will win honors he said:

The squad, as you described it, is very young. [We will challenge for honors] Because this team has improved a lot since the beginning of last season, we played 21 games unbeaten from November until the end of the season [not entirely true, they did play 21 unbeaten but lost at the end of the season to Chelsea, pretty badly I might add -- TB]. Because we have been to the semi-final of the Champions League and the FA Cup, and, uhh, we have as well, a squad, which I believe is very ambitious.

The squad has the basic quality, all the players are international players [not true, Denilson and Almunia, the two positions that folks want filled, are not internationals -- TB]. They are all under 23 [again, not true, Silvestre is under 34 -- TB] so the best timing is now. As well, because we have developed a style and culture of play that they accept.

Our focus should not be on who can help us from the outside but how strong are we from inside.

That sums it up right there folks. You want to know what’s going on at this club and that’s it. He stretched the truth a little in places but the basic sentiment is right on.

As he’s said before, this is the season for this group of players, after this year if Arsenal don’t show marked improvement the boss has hinted that this experiment might come to an end. Whether that means that he will leave or that he’ll blow the team up and start over, we don’t know, but I think the boss has a plan if this team doesn’t show up.

Personally, it’s one of the things I’m most excited about as we get closer to the start of the season; I think we have the quality in pretty much every position, and I want to see this team stuff a trophy down the doom-and-gloomer’s throats.

The good news is that we’ll know pretty much right away what shape this club is in, there are 3 really tough away games to start the season off: Everton, Man U, and Man City. Add in the Champions League qualifiers and the month of August won’t be make-or-break but it will certainly show if this team has the mettle to “push on.”

I think they do, Sagna, who answered a question in the presser, thinks they do, the team thinks they do, and most importantly, Arsene Wenger a man with possibly the keenest footballing mind on the planet, thinks they have what it takes.

Who cares what shite like Tony Cascarino thinks? We’ve got Wenger on our side, the guy who has single-handedly won as many trophies as Chelsea have won in their entire 100 year history of being a pack of c*nts. I’ll take those odds any day.

Right, there’s a game on here in a few minutes and I’ve got to get dressed (I blog in the nude, it’s quite magnificent, really) and get down to Doyle’s. T-Town Alex is going to be there along with a few others so, if you’re in town get on down here and cheer on the boys.

It’s going to be a good year, folks, let’s kick it off with some silverware!

Bordeaux, Your Striker is on My List

My friends wonder why I call you all of the time
What can I say
I don’t feel the need to give such secrets away
You think maybe I need help, no, I know that I’m right
I’m just better off not listening to friends advice

When they insist on knowing my bliss
I tell them this
When they want to know what the reason is
I only smile when I lie, then I tell them why
(because your kiss) your kiss is on my list
(because your kiss) your kiss is on my list
Because your kiss is on my list of the best things in life
(because your kiss) your kiss is on my list
(because your kiss) your kiss I cant resist

Evidently, Arsene Wenger called Bordeaux president Jean-Louis Triaud and told him that Marouane Chamakh was on his “list of strikers:” preposterous popcockery, I say.

I have a dear friend, Everton supporter but we’ll forgive him that indiscretion, who, when absolutely shiat-faced will start telling people “you’re on the list.” Then he will promptly write your name down on a scrap of paper. If you get “on the list” a second time, for gods only know what transgression, you then get “crossed off the list.” Maybe, just maybe, this is the list that Mr. Triaud was referring to?

Maybe Wenger took the night off, got a couple bottles of wine, you know Boones Farm, some ice, and a pint glass and put in the old tapes of the Invincibles season and got proper drunk. Then in his fugue state, grabbed the phone and called Jean-Louis to tell him he’s “on the list.” It’s the only thing that makes sense.

OR!

Bordeaux could be trying to increase Chamakh’s price in the sale to Sunderland.

You pick: drunken Wenger booty call OR transparent attempt to boost sales price.

Meanwhile, the other side of the press corpse is pushing hard for Arsenal to buy Daniele de Rossi, because, wait for it… wait for it… because he’s valued at £30m. No seriously, that’s the reason: Arsenal have £30m (from the sales of Toure and Adebayor minus the purchase of Vermy) de Rossi is worth £30m, and Roma is in financial trouble, ergo, Arsenal are buying de Rossi.

The de Rossi story reminds me a lot of the David Villa saga that’s been going on now for like 14 years; the reporters don’t have anything to go on so they fabricate this intricate web of financial intrigue in the vain attempt to make it look like there’s something going on.

That said, I have watched de Rossi for years on YouTube and he’s exactly what Arsenal need, he’s a ball breaker:

That’s pretty much it for today in the fake transfer news, well, there’s this one story where Arsenal will sign Patrick Vieira and Blaise Matuidi simultaneously and try to fuse them together to make one super midfielder: experienced but full of youthful vigor.

But that story’s crazy, right?

Oh, and there’s some news that Eboue’s transfer to Fiorentina is off because Arsenal want too much from him. I wanted to say something about this the other day but forgot. From what I’ve seen so far this season, Eboue looks faster, slimmer, and actually was the lone bright spot in the second half of the Hannover game. £10m for a player with his versatility, heart, and engine is actually pretty cheap and I’d rather we kept him.

New favorite word

Ineffectualness: adj. Not producing the proper or intended effect: Futile.
cf. Emmanuel Adebayor in front of goal.

Injuries

The club received good news about Thomas Rosicky the other day and the midfield maestro should be playing for Arsenal this weekend at the Emirates cup. Turns out his “injury” was just Wenger being cautious with the player, since he’d been out of commission for 18 months.

Still in the injury room, apparently, is Gael Clichy. If you remember, he suffered a back injury at the end of last year and it supposedly hasn’t healed. I had been asking around about his fitness and today is the first bit of news I’ve seen about him all summer and it’s not good.

This injury explains why “Gerry” (my new nickname for Silvestre) was featured at left back all pre-season. We may need to get used to seeing Gerry or Vermaelen at left back for a while but let’s hope not.

Emirates Cup

The Emirates Cup kicks off tomorrow morning with Rangers v. PSG at 6:30am (PST) followed by Arsenal v. Athletico Madrid at 8:30am (PST). The matches are being carried live here in the states on GolTV which I don’t have because I don’t have sattelite TV.

I have a call in to Russ at Doyle’s to see if they have GolTV and if they will be open in the morning. If they don’t or aren’t then I’m sure I can catch some dodgy stream of the game online.The ArsenalTV Online is strictly an audio feed which I suppose I could make do with. You know, pretend it’s the 50′s or something and the only way I can catch an Arsenal match is on the radio.

I will update this space for the locals if Doyle’s is open tomorrow.

DOYLE’S IS HOSTING TACOMA GOONERS FOR THE EMIRATES CUP TOMORROW AND SUNDAY– CLICK HERE FOR DIRECTIONS

Photos of the new pitch look absolutely brilliant and I’m excited to see some action on it in the morning, hopefully on a real television.

I do want to put a fly in everyone’s drink and caution you against watching this tournament and thinking that this is how Arsenal are going to play all season. I know a lot of people are saying that this is the first real test for the team but in reality this is just another friendly, and the rules are skewed to benefit Arsenal.

Arsenal decided that “shots on goal” (a fan’s suggestion) would be the tie breaker in the event of a tie after points, goal differential, and goals have already been taken into account. Wenger’s been beating this “shots on goal” concept for a while as a remedy to the way the EPL is played. But the reality is that parking the bus works. Arsenal used it against Man U to win the FA Cup in 2005. Wenger claims he hated doing it but it worked and I suspect he’d do it again if there was a trophy on the line.

So, don’t put too much stock in this weekend’s festivities as a harbringer of things to come, after all, no one parks the bus in from of goal in a freindly, much less in a friendly tourney where shots on goal are a decider.

Two weeks at Everton, now, that will be a different story.

Top 5 targets for 2009/10 #4, January 23rd to February 16th

From January 23rd to February 16th, Arsenal face Aston Villa (a), Man U, Chelsea (a), and Liverpool in the league which is bookended by two FA Cup matches and the first leg of the first  Champions League knock out round. There is no more crucial part of the season for me: January 23rd to February 16th could easily decide whether Arsenal are going to win some silverware or go home empty handed again.

There is some speculation that the reason Arsene has gotten rid of Adebayor and Toure (and possibly Eboue) is because they will be out seriving their countries at the African Cup of Nations during this crucial period.

That theory only really makes sense if the club buys someone who will be around during that crucial period. Because, what sense does it make to let someone go for the whole season, just because they won’t be there for a crucial month?

If the ACN plays into it at all it’s more likely as something that will make it easier to swallow these transfers than as the impetus behind them, sort of the “spoon full of sugar.” It’s more likely that Wenger has looked at the schedule and then evaluated each of these player’s desire to play for the club and then took a look at the offers and was all “HOLY CRAP! Arsenal will make how much???” and sold the players. So, I’m reluctant to say that the ACN plays into it too much.

Back to that crucial period, I think it will be entirely possible for Arsenal to get 8-10 points in the league over teams who are our rivals for top honors. The Villa away game was a tricky fixture last year but they have lost Barry and Laursen this year. I’m not saying we’ll roll over them, their manager knows how to score goals on Arsenal (park the bus and punt over the top), but just that they are weakened and this is in our favor.

Similarly, Man U have lost crucial players and not replaced them. Sure, Rooney can be the all action guy that Tevez was and Bobblekopfh is a languidly dangerous threat at all times but they have certainly lost their free kick threat in Ronaldo, and a player with pace and skill to break teams down on his own.

Chelsea? Well… They signed another Jerkoff to their stable and they have added a decent coach and they looked pretty good playing against American teams on psuedo-grass (the grass was layed over a pad and then over the turf).  So, again I’m not ruling them out, they are a tough team, however, for that fixture they will be missing Dogbag, Essien, and Mikel to the ACN. I don’t know too many teams that could cope with the loss of three of their best players and hope to win a ton of games.

Still, away at fortress Stamford? Who could dream of ever winning there?

And Liverpool, oh my, I don’t want to give away too much of the season preview that I have been brewing but Liverpool are in serious trouble. This morning’s reports are that Alonso handed in a transfer request which is basically a player’s last move in getting out of their contract — it usually costs them millions of dollars in loyalty payments. At the same time, Mascherano is basically saying that he hates it in England and wants to go to Barcelona. Those two players were absolutely crucial to the modicum of success that Liverpool achieved last year. I don’t see them both being replaced in the transfer market, one guy, sure, but both? So, again it’s not a cake walk, but at this moment, it’s not looking like the battle roayle that it could be.

Unfortunately, the FA Cup and Champions League matches I can’t really make a comment on because we don’t know who we are playing or even where we are playing them. They are “must win” matches though, I can say that!

So, there you have it, that’s why I think the late January to early February period is a crucial period for the club. The way things are shaping up, we have a pretty good opportunity to take points off rivals and place ourselves deeper into other tournaments. I’m sure Wenger’s already on it.

Transfers

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the official transfer of Kolo Toure yesterday. Kolo was one of my favorite players at Arsenal and the last of the guys who played with the invincibles. He was a crucial part of Arsenal’s run of clean sheets in the Champions League which saw us through to the final and for that magical run I will always be grateful.

He was a classy player who always did what was asked of him and who I think all Arsenal supporters loved. I will be terribly surprised if he has a negative word to say about Arsenal as he winds his career down at City. Good luck to him, except when we play each other, and here’s to him doling out many lumps to everyone but Arsenal.

Good luck King Kolo.

There’s a funny story circulating about Patrick Vieira returning to the club. Funny because it comes from Ian Wright (who heard from a source who heard from a source), because it involves breaking of one of Arsene’s supposed cardinal rules (never look back), and because, not to put too fine a point on it, he’s past it.

I had the distinct pleasure of getting to watch a ton of Serie A games last year because Fox Soccer Channel plays them before and after EPL games and what the hell else are you going to do at 5am while you’re writing your Arsenal blog? And I can say that definitively, Patrick Vieira is past his prime. Hell, he was past his prime when he went to Serie A in the first place, and now he’s kind of a disaster and hard to watch. I know that’s not the most popular thing to say, and I’m not saying I won’t welcome him back, but maybe what I’m saying is if he signs don’t expect too much.

What I think would be brilliant is to sign him as a sort of player-coach. Who better to turn Song into a world class DM than Patrick Vieira? Who better to bring Diaby along than the guy he’s supposed to be emulating? It’s brilliant in that regard. But on the pitch he could only be used in very limited quantities.

In some ways I’d rather he went to Spurs. I mean come on, he could be our mole! Who better to ruin them from the inside than Patrick Vieira?

Of course, I’m joking about that last bit. In all seriousness, I think all of us would love to have him back and no one will be disappointed to see him, as long as we keep our expectations in line with reality.

And finally, flush with all this cash, the boss is cautioning Arsenal supporters against the notion that “buying means sucess.” Yeah yeah yeah… what else is he going to say?  ”Now that I have £40m to spend, we are targeting players left and right, anyone want to make an offer???”  No, he’s being cautious.

There are reports that Rosicky picked up a knock against Barnet, which would explain his absence since, and the speculation is that he’ll miss the Emirates Cup this weekend. The boss said Rosicky will play this weekend. Add in the absence of Nasri due to injury and it’s starting to look like an already thin midfield is even thinner — at a time when Wenger has said we need to get off to a good start.

I’m not suggesting a panic buy, but a guy like Alonso would only add to the team. Wenger’s aware of that and has stated that they will add if they see the right deal come up. Personally, I’d rather we spent now than waited until January to re-enforce this team, there’s quality out there, go and get it. According to the link abover Wenger is looking at “several possibilities” so it seems he’s well aware of the issue.

Anyway, that’s it for today. I suppose we’ll do this again tomorrow…