Fabregate Should Be Decided Soon

As I’ve said before, I’d be shocked if Fabregas doesn’t get a ban for his part in Phil Brown’s spittergate. After all, Cesc is a member of Al Queda and we can give those fellers no quarter or they will be spitting on our children’s corpses: IT WAS THAT BAD.

There’s also very little news: Adebayor is going to Chelsea (OH GOD PLEASE YES), ManU is ready to win the title IN OUR FACES, Xabi Alonso is the first of a long summer of “not signing for Arsenal” stories, some Argentinian kid is in North London for a trial at Arsenal — and funny enough, he thought he was getting a trial at Arsenal di Sarandi! And finally, there’s a board room showdown brewing! Arsenal’s largest, I mean biggest, I mean fattest shareholder is going to challenge the board to a debt off. He’s worried that the £17m we pay in interest (despite the fact that we have £30m+ in annual cash profits AFTER paying debt, taxes, and salaries, etc AND that we have over £100m in cash reserves) anyway, Usemanoff is worried that the £17m in interest we pay on our £300m debt is holding us back from being more like his favorite club; Manchester United. And so he wants to try to force the board into a one time debt pay down thingy/marketing ploy to make himself look like he’s trying to improve the squad.

I think that the more owners get involved in the management of the team, the worse the team gets. So, he should sit down, shut the fuck up, and let Arsene Wenger build his team.

Anyway, while we’re waiting for the FA to hand out a 100 match ban for Cesc Fabregas raping Phil Brown’s children with spit, I’d like to give you a sepcial treat; Phil Brown’s season in photographs.

They won the first division in order to get promotion into the Premier League

After beating Fulham 2-1 in the first game of the season.

Then Wigan beats them 5-0.

His crowning glory… a 2-1 win over Arsenal.

Followed by a 1-0 win over Tottenham and West Ham and suddenly Hull City are the toast of London Town.

Then Chelsea hand them a 3-0 beat down, followed by a 4-3 loss to United and things aren’t so rosy again.

… followed by a string of losses and draws to a mix of teams. The fall is on.

Then, a stroke of geenious, he sits his players down, in front of the crowd and proceeds to give them a lecture. On boxing day.

They lose this game 5-1.

Not much fun happens until the bust up with old Joe Kinnear, where both managers are sent off.

They lose

They lose

it rains

They lose…

Wenger shakes his hand… again.

Then, Cesc invades the pitch mid-game, kicks in three illegal goals, wearing an Al Queda “bomber” jacket, while spitting on Phil Brown’s dessicated corpse. The world is outraged. Arsenal are banned from playing football for 10 years.

Hull are crushed and go on a loser’s streak

And now, here we come to the last two games of the season and even two wins (against Bolton and United) might not save them from relegation.

Arsenal still might have a say in this as well, if they can eek out a win against Man U this Saturday it will force  Man U to rape the dessicated corpse of Phil Brown in order to win the title on the last day of the season.

That would almost certainly see them relegated.

(Updated to make more sense and remove one extra picture, who knew that preview was my friend?)

Premier League Shoots Scudamores at Common Sense

Do you like my little tiny crown? I am the KING of English Football!

EPL chief Scudamore has been a busy little boy this week, rattling sabers, and proposing all sorts of wondrous rule changes. Changes that he thinks will save English football for Englishmen, stamp out debt, prevent another Leeds United style collapse, prevent unseemly characters from taking over clubs, and even had time to hail the Respect Campaign as an overwhelming success (link works best in Internet Explorer, ugh).

And people say that Arsene Wenger lives in a world of his own.

Let’s start first with the Scudamore/Platini/Blatter idea that the only thing that will save English National football is a return to the failed quota system of the 1980′s. A time when quotas still didn’t help England qualify for the World Cup (’74 and ’78). The problem with this story is that I have written extensively about it and really don’t feel like rehashing those thousands of words. Besides, I just re-read my best post on this topic and, frankly, I have nothing more to add and couldn’t say it better if I tried. Check the link above if you want to see why I think this is a racist, nationalist idea that will not help the English national team, will further overvalue English players, will not level the playing field between smaller clubs and the top four, and will be overturned as soon as one foreigner feels discriminated against.

The second story, then, is debt and Richard Scudamore is having none of it! Not coincidentally, this Premier League anti-debt campaign is breaking into the media at the same time as Alisher Usmanov is offering the club a hot cash injection. This debt issue is yet another story that I have written extensively about and don’t feel like re-hashing at this point. Suffice it to say, the proposal as I read it would have no effect on Arsenal, as we already fit the rules which are essentially an adaptation of UEFA’s rules for qualifying for Europe. No, this rule will only hurt smaller clubs, or clubs that are in real trouble like West Ham; and may even force those clubs to sell off their players.

The story that I’m interested in is the jaw-dropping claim that the Respect Campaign has been a success. In what world? Again, this is a topic that I have written extensively about and there’s no need to re-hash a lot of what I’ve said in the past. But I think that in light of recent events such as with Chelsea’s inability to control their players after and during matches, and the club’s steadfast refusal to even take internal action against their players this latest quote from Scudamore is about as jaw dropping as it gets.

I mean, Chelsea supporters have threatened Tom Ovrebo’s life… and this is the second time, this season, that Chelsea supporters have threatened the life of an official. Is that “respect?”

Or how about the dossier on Drogba, Terry, Bosingwa, and Ballack linked above? The footage is clear, Chelsea acted in a manner that was disgraceful on the Premier League, their club, and themselves by attacking the referee at the end of the game.

The most worrying part, though, is that the Chelsea stewards could not, or perhaps would not, control the situation after the match. Those stewards are there to protect the referee in case that exact thing happens. In case the players attack a referee, which is what the Chelsea players did, make no mistake about it, the stewards are there to protect the ref. To see them feebly try to move a clearly out of control Drogba and then let him come back in and get in the face of the ref was disgraceful and deserves at least as many column inches and at least as much investigation as Phil Brown’s imaginary story that had Cesc Fabregas watering the pitch with saliva as he karate kicked the opposing coaches in his designer thug hoody.

UEFA banning Chelsea from the Champions League for a season would be a light punishment for that display. Anything less is truly a disrespect to the referees and would make enforcing something like their plan to allow referees to stop matches due to racism impossible.  How can a UEFA official feel like a home team’s stewards will protect him from players and the crowd in Spain when the home team stewards at one of the crown jewels of world football (a country which supposedly prides itself on ‘law and order’) allowed a clearly out of control Chelsea team to threaten the ref?

But, ultimately, this is a chronic problem with this team in particular. Chelsea are the embodiment of disrespect in world football. From the disgraceful scrum they started in the 2007 Carling Cup final against Arsenal, to the Ashley Cole incident which started the “respect” campaign, to this latest in a long line of outrageous behavior, and if you throw in the distorting effect of their “magic money,” Chelsea are truly all that is wrong with modern football.

Look for Richard Scudamore to address this problem… never.

There are Dixon the British Press.

Arsenal are down, no doubt, but to listen to the press portray it we are damn near suicidal, or in some cases outright suicidal. I’ve listened to the actual interviews from which most of these doom and gloom reports emanate and I’m not buying it. Take a phrase out of context, plaster it across the top with huge font and sit back and wait for the predictably irate reactions.

Muckrakers at best.

That said, I’ve figured out what this year’s “Copy and Paste Quotes of the Season” are going to be, feel free to use ad nauseum:

Arsenal have not won a trophy for four years

Arsenal lack a holding midfielder

Arsenal need to strengthen their spine

Arsenal need to loosen their purse strings

Also, feel free to add more in the comments, I always need fresh copy. Sorry but I’m not buying any of those “analysis” of this season.

Andrei “baffled” by Arsene

I’m baffled about this myself. Not where Andrei is playing but by how a self respecting journalist could take this quote

My personal plan for my initial three months with Arsenal wasn’t about scoring a certain number of goals or making a set number of assists, I wanted to get the feeling whether I can play in England or not. Sometimes I feel that I can but other times that I don’t. It’s probably because that I play as a left midfielder. I still can’t get used to the idea that I’m capable of playing on the left of midfield – and frankly having to do it keeps me baffled. I don’t understand if it’s only because God is taking care of me, or I really can play so well as a left-winger.

and make this headline: ‘Baffled’ Arshavin hits out at Wenger as troubles mount for the Gunners.

Is he really taking the piss out of Wenger there or is he being misquoted because of his strange choice of vocabulary? Baffled or surprised? I read that as he’s “surprised” that he can not only play in England, but that he is also capable of shouldering some of the defensive responsibilities requisite a midfielder in one of the most physical leagues in the world. Clearly Richard Bright and “SPORTSMAIL REPORTER” above see that quote as proof that Arshavin is upset at playing in midfield and ready to leave Arsenal or whatever else they want to make up.

Don’t act so Petit

“WENGER NEEDS TO CHANGE, says Petit” screams the headline by Setanta’s Captain shiat-stirrer Laurent Picard, but the actual Petit quote is more nuanced, more intelligent than Captain Picard would have us believe.

Arsenal have not won anything in four years [eye roll, ed.]. Everything was done to bring together a young team and make it progress step by step, after Henry’s departure. But, at the end of the day, the transition did not work out.

Arsene is extremely intelligent, he is a visionary. I am not saying that he should change his ways, [emph. added] but if he made slight changes and managed to find a compromise between youth and experience, like Manchester and every dominant team in Europe do, he would find the right mix.

But it means spending more money [eye roll, ed].

Arsenal have their own touch: moving football towards goal. But they reach their limit when they are playing against a team that plays like them and with the physical impact that Arsenal do not have.

Petit is actually saying that Arsenal tried something, it’s fallen a bit flat, and now they need to make some slight changes. Is that really the same as the absolutist headline “Wenger needs to change?” And do we really need Mister Petit to say two of the four Copy and Paste analysis of this season?

Don’t Dixon me, man

Dixon’s assessment of the Chelsea game is a bit strange to say the least. The graphic in the middle of the page clearly shows Nasri at fault for the Anelka goal, and Dixon even singles Nasri out for an over-the-top ball against Everton as well. Moreover, this blog has mentioned severally that Nasri is often culpable for not tracking back and getting involved in the defense the way he should. Add in the known problems that Theo has shouldering his defensive responsibilities and I think there is a well established problem of defensive rotation with certain players

So, how does that translate to “Arsenal lack a holding midfielder?” Bring back a 25 year old Patrick Vieira and he still wouldn’t have broken up that Anelka run, because he cannot be everywhere at once.  And as Dixon points out (in his annoying staccato style) “He [Vieira] made runs forward but when he did you could guarantee Emmanuel Petit would stay there and cover him.”

Right… in the past, Arsenal rotated more effectively.

Which is a coaching problem, as frequent commenter caribkid points out. I have no doubt that Nasri could learn to defend better, but he needs someone there to teach him that and to take the utter piss out of him when he doesn’t.

Buying another holding midfielder does not solve that problem, in fact, it could exacerbate the problems. With Essien behind him players like Nasri might feel like they never have to track back.

Moreover, and this is really, really crucial in my mind, Dixon does say something that I whole-heartedly agree with:

You need someone to break things up; someone with a bit of intelligence who knows where to be in that area, when to push forward, when to support and when to drag someone back.

Vieira was brilliant at that. If he felt exposed he would get hold of someone and get them to help him. [emph. added]

Arsenal need leadership! YES! I’ve been saying this all year, but that’s not what gets copy “Arsenal need to buy” gets copy. The crucial difference between my interpretation and Dixon’s is that he thinks that leadership must come from that defensive midfield spot and given Song’s lack of experience, Arsenal then must buy in order to fill the leadership void.  Fair enough, but I disagree.

I feel like it should come from the more experienced players on the team, players who have over 200 matches under their belts, players like Cesc.

Criticizing Cesc is somehow off the table, and that’s a real shame, because the captain of the team should take responsibility when his team is not playing well. If the team is lacking defensive rotation and understanding of when to attack and when not, is that the responsibility of Alex Song, or is that the responsibility of El Capitan?

Even crazier, Cesc played that position for years and yet still there’s a distinct lack of understanding on this team of how to play that position. How we can take anything away from a player like Song who has literally DOZENS of games under his belt and who has come along so brilliantly this season, while simultaneously leapfrogging over the obvious fact that the captain and one of the most experienced players on the team basically took this season off, is baffling to me.

And I mean baffling in the sense of “baffling” as in “are they so stuck on their Copy and Paste analysis of the team that the only solution is Arsenal must buy?”

Yes, buying another holding midfielder is important. Buying at least one center back is important as well. These players will challenge each other for places on the team and improve our overall quality while increasing the bench depth.

BUT

More crucially, the coaching staff and team leaders need to look at themselves. I said it before and I’ll say it again: Fabregas should not have been allowed to go on vacation after his injury. The fact that he was allowed to go, that he wanted to go, and that he publicly said that he didn’t care about football anymore undermined everything that this team was supposedly building with his appointment to the captaincy.

And all those players that the Dixon’s this world want to replace floundered under the lack of guidance and insight from the team’s most experienced midfielder and captain… and, ultimately, the manager.

Never fear, McFunk is here

I’m not worried, though. I’ve watched the interviews and I think Wenger knows what went wrong. I think Wenger is pissed about the fact that he put so much faith in some of these players and that they let him down. And I think we may see a bit of the old, ruthless, Wenger reappear. We’ll have to wait until after Arsenal’s second vacation, some time around July, to see which Wenger we are going to get: the one hungry to win a trophy or the one willing to grease the squeaky wheels.

I have faith it will be the former.