Vermaelen it in…

Well, Thomas Vermaelen is supposedly signing for us today for a reported fee of £10m.  IF this happens, it will be an Arsenal record for a defender and be the second record breaking price that Arsenal paid for a player in less than a year. He’s a left footed, aerially adept, central defender and if he can handle the pressure of being a central defender for the most attacking team in world football he may turn out to be one of those “Wenger signings” where he takes a relative unknown at a bargain price and turns him into a star.

Questions remain as to whether Kolo or Gallas are going to stay and the press is all atwitter with rumors that the former has renewed his love affair with Manchester City. Kolo’s a good defender and would command a decent fee and I’d be sad to see him go, though he is playing in the disastrously stupid ACN this Winter, exactly at the time when the club will need him most (against Pool, Chels, ManU). So, while I would be sad to see him go, it would be a good move for Arsenal.

Gallas is our best defender and our most experienced player. Yes, he’s got some issues, but keeping him on to pass the torch to Vermaelen will be crucial.

It’s Ladies Week over at the dot com and they deserve the attention, what with being the most successful women’s club pretty much ever. But that’s all we have today.

So, what I want to know is who you think Arsenal are going to sign next? Not who you WISH Arsenal will sign — the overpriced overrated and overly old David Villa is not coming to Arsenal — but who you legitimately think will sign for Arsenal. Responses should be realistic, address squad issues (what will happen if your signing comes in, someone will be displaced), and must take into account Arsene Wenger’s management style and footballing philosophy.

So, for example, saying that Arsenal are bringing in Steven Taylor for £18m to play Striker is probably not realistic. You can write whatever you want, but be prepared to be ridiculed!

Right, so get working.

While you’re at it, I want to remind you that you can win a free shirt in 7amkickoff’s very-first-ever-world-premier-competition!

WIN ARSENAL 89 T-SHIRT


‘It’s Up for Grabs Now’…… And the rest is Arsenal history! Brian Moore’s match commentary as Michael Thomas puts away the goal that clinched the ’89 League Championship in arguably Arsenal’s greatest ever match is featured on Philosophy Football’s anniversary shirt. Plus, a diagram of the winning goal and match details. Available from www.philosophyfootball.com we have 5 to be won in our competition, to enter simply answer the following simple question:

Liverpool v Arsenal, 26 May 1989, name the two goalscorers.

Send answer, name, address and preferred T-shirt size to admin@philosophyfootball.com Entries close 30 June ’09, no purchase necessary to enter.
Good luck!

Zidane: a 21st Century Portrait. The best football film ever.

hey, aqui, AQUI!

On April 23, 2005, 17 of the world’s most adept cinematographers and sound engineers descended upon the Bernabeu and focused all of their talents on just one man; Zinedine Zidane. The result is a film that will at times move you, cause you to wander off into your own head, and in the end shock you.

The film has only seen limited theatrical release in the United States and I missed my chance to see it at the IMAX in Seattle and again when it came to Tacoma’s little art house theater. I had been kicking myself ever since. But, I thought in my arrogant American way, it will come out on DVD and I’ll just buy it.  Silly American… I’ve now been waiting 2 years for this film to be released as a region 1 DVD and frankly, I can’t see it ever happening. If it does, I will gladly buy the film. Hell, if any of my readers have a line on where I can get the region 1 disk (legally) I will buy two and give one away here. It’s worth it. This is, after all, my favorite movie since I saw Blade Runner over 20 years ago.

It probably seems like a minor detail because I’d bet a lot of you have universal DVD players, but the fact is that the DVD player attached to my TV is pretty old and won’t play region 2 disks.  VLC player, on my computer, however, is completely universal and that’s what I settled on. So, I went to my local library and put in a request to have the film sent to me from one of the consortia libraries and one week later I got the region 2 DVD: I wasn’t going to pay for a disk I couldn’t play at home, but I really, REALLY wanted to see the film.

It was worth it.

It’s funny. It’s not so much a film as it’s just a piece of art. I mean, yes, there’s a plot but only because football has a plot in a sense. You have your protagonist (Zidane) your antagonist (Marcos Senna) and all sorts of characters coming in and creating all sorts of plot twists (Beckham, Fat Ronaldo, the Ref, etc) but the movie is almost too linear to be a story. Does that make any sense?

It’s more like Warhol’s movie of people sleeping than a story in the traditional sense, but it does have a story and there is character development in a way that most movies now days seem to lack. I guess it’s the story of one day — a day like any other. There’s a bomb going off in Baghdad, there’s a war in Africa. People give speeches they think are important, sign treaties, forget to take the kettle off.  And then, that night, in Madrid, there’s 93 minutes when Real Madrid hosted Villareal and for those 93 minutes that’s all there is going on in the world.

Along the way we learn the subtlety of Zizou, the quiet, what he thinks about while he plays, his grace, his power, his touch, his focus, and his faults. We see the way he kicks the ground with his toes as he paces about the pitch like an animal on the prowl. And through the magic of those magnificent artists behind the camera and the microphone, we hear the roar of the crowd one minute and then next they filter all that out and all we hear is the zen-like breath of Zizou, the thump of the ball as he makes a pass, and the quiet muffled sound of the man as he dribbles around pretty much everyone else on the pitch.

This experience is only heightened by the Mogwai soundtrack, which brilliantly carries us into quiet moments and then loudly heralds moments of action.

Footballistically speaking the film is a masterpiece as well. Zidane’s touch is amazing, I don’t think he lost the ball once, and his reading of the game is spot on. Quietly pacing the pitch, pointing where he wants the ball, accepting the ball and either dribbling around the defender or making the correct pass to a teammate. It’s the perfect portrait of Zidane, the zen master, at the top of his game.

His antagonist is incredible to watch as well. If Zidane is the contemplative, purposeful predator, then Marcos Senna is the perfect all action foil. Marking Zidane the whole game, hell he seems to be marking everyone plus Zidane, Senna is the type of no nonsense, all action, crunching, yet deft passing midfielder that every Arsenal supporter has begged Wenger to buy since Patrick Vieira said his good byes.

If you love the game, if you play the game, you will love this film. If you love film, you will love this film. I can’t recommend it enough.

This is a film you can, no, should, get lost in.

2009/2010 Fixtures List; the good, the bad, and the best travel times for us foreigners

fixtures-list

Well, finally some news that isn’t an Arsenal player denying that they are leaving for Real Madrid. Today’s breaking news story is that the FA has released the 2009/2010 fixtures list. You lucky devils are getting this hot off the presses and chock full of analysis. When is the best time to go see a match? I got that covered.  What’s the make or break part of the season (besides the transfer period!)? I got that covered. In fact, I have the whole thing covered, in my typical “Good, Bad, and Ugly” style. So, without further ado, here’s the Arsenal fixtures list for 2009/2010.

The Good

There’s always a ton of controversy when it comes to the fixtures list and this season is no different. That said, I’m going to ease you into that controversy with the good news, because there is some!

The good news this year is that the end of season run-in is possibly the easiest I have seen as an Arsenal supporter. Starting February 20th, and excluding all of the cup matches, Arsenal finish the season with Sunderland (H), Stoke (A), Burnley (H), Hull (A), West Ham (H), Birmingham (A), Wolves (H), Tottenham (A), Wigan (A), City (H), Blackburn (A), and Fulham (H). That’s 12 matches in a row against teams that a title contender needs to go into thinking they should win. I’m NOT saying these are automatic wins; Fulham, Stoke, Birmingham, Tottenham, and City are all teams that are very dangerous and have either beat this team recently or given us a lot of heartburn. I also don’t expect Burnley, Wigan or Hull to just roll over and let us tickle their tummies.  But you have to play these guys some time and if there was ever a time to play them it would be all in a row, at the end of the season.  Let’s put it this way, I’d rather play those guys at the end of the season than have 7 fixtures in a row against top four clubs to finish our season off.

The Bad

So, the bad news is that just one month before the good run, Arsenal have a terrible run that they will have to make it through. Every season so far has been this way and it’s just a fact of football life that you will have a period in the season that will test your team. Including all scheduled cup matches, starting on January 20th Arsenal have a Carling Cup semi-final (second leg), followed by an FA Cup 4th round, then Villa (A), Man U (H), Chelsea (A), Liverpool (H), an FA Cup 5th round, and then the 1st leg of the Champions League knock out round.

If any part of the season will see Arsenal out of all competitions it will be the month of January 20th to February 20th, which I will either refer to as “Doomsmonth” or “HOLYCRAPWEHAVEAREALCHANCEATATROPHYmonth”.

The other bad news is that right there at the start of the season we already have scheduling conflicts. Arsenal are scheduled to play Bolton at home on the 18th of August while at the same time scheduled to play the Champions League “Play Off” first round. I assume that the Champions League fixture would take precedent and the Bolton match would be rescheduled for the end of the season which isn’t really such a bad thing but still, it means that Arsenal, with all our cup fixtures are going to have to play a metric shirtload of football, right off the bat.

Wenger needs to get this team ready right from the start. Which just exacerbates any injuries suffered in bullshark, retread, fark, conch, competitions like the Confederations Cup.

The good news about that Champions League play off is that they are seeding the competition and Arsenal are the number one seed. The number one seed will be paired with the number ten seed (decided by a pre-pre-qualifier) and that means that Arsenal will be playing against someone like Anderlecht (or lower) rather than all the doom and gloom scenarios that were touted by the press last year.

Best Times to Travel

I consider the following factors in making this recommendation: availability of tickets, availability of extra games, potential scheduling conflicts, and cost to travel. Thus, I almost always recommend seeing a newly promoted team, on a Saturday, where Arsenal could play in the Champions League on a Tuesday, where there aren’t any other competitions scheduled, and during the off season (November to April). Given all those factors, I am recommending us foreigners travel to see Arsenal on one of the following days (in no order):

October 17th against Birmingham followed by a Champions League Matchday 3 on either the 20th or 21st (which would be the best birthday week ever).

December 5th against Stoke followed by Champions League Matchday 6 on the 8th or 9th.

April 3rd against Wolverhampton Wanderers followed by the Champions League Quarter Final on Tuesday the 6th.

March 6th against Burnley, which is also followed on a Tuesday by a Champions League match, however, the Burnley match is currently double booked for an FA Cup Quarter Final match and so that could be a problem. In fact, both of those matches could end up being away matches, in which case you are proper fucked.

Thos are my best bets for you all to get over and see two matches. Remember that Champions League matches are drawn so there’s no guarantee of a home match, but usually you know that plenty in advance and can adjust your travel plans accordingly. I’d say you could jump a cheap flight and see the match in a foreign land but there’s no way in hell you’re getting away tickets to a Champions League game.

Ok, well that’s my run down of the 2009/2010 fixtures list. What do you think are the hot times to go see a match? When do you see trouble in the season? Let us know in the comments below.

P.S.

Don’t forget to get in on the very first 7amkickoff contest, being hosted by www.philosophyfootball.com. Only 13 more days!