Cesc to coach Sunderland via SMS, or something

First, the awesome news. As my regular reader can tell by the fact that the site took ten minutes to load this morning, I updated the header to the new, improved “Dudu Header.” This is in honor of the imminent return of Eduardo, which I actually read buried in this story about Gallas not playing tomorrow. According to Wenger, Eduardo has been full-contact practicing and just needs a few games before he re-joins the first team. What’s really exciting about this is how ready Wenger is to play him, it must mean that Dudu is scoring bags of goals in practice or something.

Even if he isn’t scoring bags of goals, Eduardo could hardly be worse than Nicklas Bendtner, who, according to my French source, has had his Nike sponsorship canceled after his Carling Cup profiligacy and will no longer be allowed to sport their Pink boots.

Second, I saw the story linking Cesc to Milan yesterday and chose not to report it as soon as I read the actual quote that came out of Cesc’s mouth. It was and is a non-story, if you can’t even get Setanta to bite on it, it must be a fugazi. Irregardless, Cesc issued denial number 7 via the club’s web site, saying:

It is true that I said I admire Milan for their rich history and the way they play football but that is as far as the story goes. I am honoured to be wearing the captain’s armband for Arsenal and I am 100 per cent committed to this Club. My future is here.

Next I expect Cesc’s agent to fly into Manchester and have lunch with some Citeh people so that the press can run “CESC TO JOIN CITEH” headlines.

And why not, Citeh reportedly offered to buy out Iker Casillas’ contract, which has the most retardulous £130m buy out clause, ever.  $250m for a goal keeper? What? Part of me hopes that Citeh come knocking at our door and offer $200m for Fabregas. I know he wouldn’t go but I like to play the “what could Arsenal do with that money?” game. How about pay off the stadium? Buy a bunch of 16 year olds before FIFA crams some new rules down our throats? Sit on the money and say the squad doesn’t need any improvement?

Maybe Citeh will just buy William Gallas. Why not? His best friend’s sister’s cousin’s brother told the Sun that he feels “humiliated” by Arsenal. Let’s start the “Gallas to Citeh” rumours right here and now.

I wonder how much Citeh will offer for William Gallas?

How do I watch Arsenal on TV?

There’s a second story in that link above that has ESPN withdrawing their bid for Bundesliga rights so that they can consolidate and make a huge bid for the EPL rights. Supposedly, ESPN wants the rights to show the games online as well as on their flagship television stations. I love this idea: as an American, it’s my God given right to watch English Football in high def, isn’t it?

B r a k e ? That’s in your car, dummy (not safe for work language)

And finally, Niall Quinn revealed that Roy Keane, the bravest, strongest man to ever mount the pitch, a God among boys, quit Sunderland via text message. After going emo for four days, he finally “manned up” and texted his boss his resignation. I guess you can add craven to the list of adjectives used to describe the great Roy Keane.

Oh, and guess who is coming to town to replace him… Sam Allardyce. I bet the fans in Newcastle support this appointment.

That’s it for today, Wigan preview in the morning and I’ll be liveblogging the match. See you at 7am PST, for the, erm, kickoff.

Ding, dong, the Roy is dead

keane

Roy Keane is a quitter and I can honestly say that I didn’t expect that from him — but maybe I should have.

Roy Keane is one of the greatest rivals I have ever seen play against Arsenal. No matter how hard someone like Joey Barton thinks he is, he can’t hold a candle to what Roy Keane did on the pitch in his time. Sure Joey tackles hard, he knows how to put in a cheap shot or two, and Joey’s not afraid to mix it up with teammates or even just random strangers on the street. But there’s a huge difference between attacking a teenager on the street in Liverpool after a night of binge drinking and standing up for your teammates in the tunnel against a man like Patrick Vieira. Keane would have stood on a ladder to go nose-to-nose with Vieira if he had to.

A terrier, a pit-bull, the ultimate midfield enforcer, the guy you love on your team and hate on your opponent’s, whatever positive label you put on Roy they all fit, but equally you could call him petulant, a dinosaur, a big mouth, a bad teammate, and now a coward. If you look back at his career this latest bout of petulance and impulsiveness really isn’t a surprise. This is a man who infamously slagged off his Ireland teammates on the eve of the world cup — and was summarily fired. A man who tried to use an interview on Man U TV to bash Man U — and was summarily fired. In short, Roy Keane is a huge douche of a man, which is exactly what you want in a midfield enforcer, and exactly what you don’t want in a modern manager.

I suppose the last straw for Sunderland and Roy was the latest battles over his summer signings. Niall Quinn had just appointed a new CEO to oversee transfers, which we all know irked Roy, but it was the right thing to do. Every morning I would see some report from Keane about how great Kenwynne Jones is, how he completes the team, how they needed him back when he was injured. It was mind boggling stuff: Kenwynne Jones is a player who is so one dimensional there’s hardly a point. Keane though, kept the faith and all season hailed Jones as the savior. Someone needed to reign in Keane’s lack of eye for talent.

That said no one expected Keane to be a quitter because he never quit once when he played for United. Further, quitting now almost certainly precludes him from ever coaching Man U. Manchester United can’t hire a manager who bails on the club when the chips are down.

But everyone should have seen it coming, because throughout his career when the chips are down, really down, Roy Keane lashes out. On the pitch, there was virtually no rival, no man you’d rather have on your side (except Patrick Vieira). On the sideline, all of his poor traits were magnified and in the end his worst trait took over and he quit: which is exactly what he’s done at every level of football.

Good bye Roy, there will never be another like you.

Burnley 2-0 Arsenal Youth — the Good, Bad and Ugly

Match Reports

ESPNSoccernet: “The Coca-Cola Championship team booked their place in the last four of the Carling Cup after showing a young Gunners side how to finish.”

A Cultured Left Foot: “It was an evening that the players can look back on without shame. They passed the ball reasonably well, their overall technique, until it came to the final shot on goal, was excellent. In short they lived up to most of the expectations that were placed on their young shoulders.”

The Good

Wilshere and Ramsey were absolutely magnificent: laying on the passes that would eventually be wasted by Bendtner up front, running their asses off, and putting themselves about.

Wilshere is still a bit too slight and often found himself on the ground and dispossessed of the ball to the larger, more experienced Burnley midfielders. But I think he may grow and get stronger, he’s only 16!

Ramsey was always in the right place for the role he played. Wenger had him the holding midfield spot and he did the best he could considering how often he had to mop up Randall’s mistakes in midfield.

Both of these young men show great vision and understanding of the game that belies their years. I expect great things from these players.

The Bad

I really feel bad for young Paul Rodgers: thrust into an unfamiliar lineup on a freezing night in an important game against a hardened opponent would be enough to undo the best men, much less a 19 year old, and to be sacrificed at half-time so that a midfielder can come on and play defense for you must have been truly embarrassing. Even though he had a nightmare match you can see flashes of the brilliance that Wenger saw to pick him, let’s hope this experience spurs him on to better things.

Fabianski also had a bad match, well, Fabianski and Silvestre really. They seemed to lack any communication and more than once got in each other’s way. Sir Alex Ferguson was on the sidelines and must have had a chuckle at Silvestre’s performance — for a defender who is as experienced as he is some of the mistakes he made were the stuff that I would have expected from Rodgers. I’ve heard from some Man U supporters that that’s the bag on Silvestre: he plays hard but he’s mistake prone. Multiple times this season he’s been caught running about wildly and crashing in to Arsenal defenders and it has lead to goals. Let’s hope this is just a lack of understanding and communication and not some kind of thing that he does.

Fabianski looked nervous and spilled the ball several times but it was a very cold night and Jensen spilled the ball several times too. So I’m not sure it was as bad a performance that everyone is marking him down for. The first goal was partially his fault (he should control the area) but it certainly didn’t help him that Silvestre tackled him and piled on, effectively holding him down and letting McDonald have a shot at an open goal.

The Ugly

Leaving Simpson out seemed like a huge mistake because Bendtner was most guilty of the poor finishing that killed the team last night. I don’t know what happened in practice but based on the last game, Simpson deserved the starting spot over Bendtner.

That said, Bendtner started and despite some exquisite service from midfield, simply could not finish. After the third time he dribbled into Jensen during a one-on-one you just knew he just wasn’t going to get a goal. It was a disheartening performance from the player who has started against some of the world’s best teams — with his experience, he should have been the guy to carry the Young Ones but instead he looked like their inferior.

The Boss was clearly upset with him after the match, saying:

We played quite well. We had six one-on-ones with the keeper and we lost 2-0, that sums it up quite well… overall we lost a game we shouldn’t have lost.

They [the Young Ones] expressed their talent and many of them gave absolutely everything. But in front of goal you need to be much more clinical than we were tonight. I felt we were quite naive in the way we took our chances.

Final Thoughts

The team can take a lot of good from this game. Wilshere and Ramsey, in particular, are very young and can look at their performance last night and hold their heads high. Other players need to look at the way they played and work on those aspects of their game that was found wanting.

Tactically, Wenger needs to look at these games and see that Burnley employed similar tactics to Stoke and others that have beaten Arsenal this season. They were very rough on the midfield and got away with quite a bit of rough play and it clearly worked to their advantage. Arsenal need to get their spines up and get back into these kinds of games. At the back, Burnley were able to capitalize on the slightest mistakes and use countering tactics to open the defense. Again, this happens time and again with Arsenal since they seem keen to get 8 attackers in the opponent’s box. It’s score or die with this team and when they aren’t scoring they get beat like they did yesterday.

Finally, Bendtner needs to take a long look at this performance and make some changes to his game. For those of you who didn’t see the game, remember the lucky goal he scored against Kiev? Yeah, he tried to do that three times yesterday. It’s not a clever tactic, it’s not good finishing, and it’s not good goalkeeping to keep it out, it’s just luck when it goes in. Yesterday, Bendtner’s luck, and the team’s Carling Cup hopes ran out.

The good news is that the team have 3 days rest before they face Wigan at home on Saturday. The bad news is that Wigan is going to be looking for revenge for the Carling Cup embarassment and must be watching tapes of Burnley, Stoke, and Hull for lessons on how to play Arsenal and get a result.

Let’s hope Arsenal have been watching the tapes too.