An ugly display

Ugh, I picked up some cold yesterday and feel like utter crap today so short blog for you so I can get back to bed for some sleep.

In yesterday’s “Charity Shield” we got a preview of the season ahead and the presumptive champions were in rare form: elbowing their opponents in the face, scoring unsportsmanlike goals, and surrounding the referee.

I’m having a hard time picking best moments of the match. Is it the delicious irony that Chris Foy spoke to the players before the match about what a success the Respect Campaign has been? Is it the fact that Patrice Evra got elbowed in the face? Is it the fact that after the match the Chelsea supporter’s only recourse is to point to how poorly United acted in order to gloss over the fact that they basically cheated in a friendly?

Tough choice, but considering that I’ve seen nothing but classlessness and indiscipline from Chelsea and the fact that pretty much everyone on the planet would like to elbow Evra in the face, I’m going with the irony.

Yes, Chris, the respect campaign has been a huge success. You got a glimpse of how successful it’s been up close and personal yesterday.

Anyway, enough about those cunts. If that’s to be our top competition this year I’m not overly worried. The “Chelsea diamond” formation was particularly hilarious. What’s it made of? 100 years of compressed shit?

Speaking of 100 years of compressed shit, how about that Tiki Beergutstain? He’s Barcelona’s sporting something or another and he’s decided to go all out and try to get Cesc Fabregas. By all out I mean, not going to spend anywhere near what he’s worth. I’ve heard something about £25m plus other players and considering the fact that they just did a £25m plus Samuel Eto’o for Zlatan, I’m thinking that we should ask for £25m plus Messi and Yaya.

As for bringing players in, the boss is being coy. After the devastating 2-0 defeat to Valencia the boss was in a good mood joking and laughing at all us fans and our insatiable desire for new players. My suspicion is that he’s been planning this now for 8 years and this is the season he’s going to spring his trap. I suspect that his ploy is to finally get Arsenal out of the “top four” and put us in the relegation zone. He’s been a secret Tottenham supporter this whole time.

Or, he’s going to buy Chamakh.

I’m not sure which to believe, I’ll tell you at the end of the season.

As for the Hangeland story, I’m not sure if there’s anything to that. Vermaelen is healthy and the boss is saying he’ll probably feature against Everton. Meanwhile everyone in the team is talking about defense and partnerships and blah blah.

If Wenger bought Hangeland it would mean that he’s looking to have the option to change his back four from the high line, wing-back formation we currently play, into a flat(er) back four. I don’t mean that we’d play the flat line all the time, against the “Chelsea diamond” having wing backs would be essential. Hangeland would just give Arsene another option. I’m not sure how much Brede would be down with playing just against the shit-kickers in the league, but hey, that’s where I’m going with this story.

Anyway, we’ve got international friendlies this week and pretty much everyone except Denilson, Almunia, Rosicky, and Nasri will get injured. Of course, if Almunia gets his passport and changes his name to something more English, like Manny Pickledickle he too could go off to international duty and get injured. I mean, did you see Ben Foster play yesterday?  Vitto Mannone is a better keeper than Ben Foster!

Anyway, I think I’m getting delerious. More of this kind of blogging tomorrow. See you then.

Wenger Strangelove: or how I learned to stop worrying and love this team

The pre-season is officially over with and it ends with a sort of sloppy fart rather that the trumpet of victory that we’d all have liked. Oh well, it’s pre-season and I don’t think we should read too much into it. If we don’t take winning the Emirates Cup too seriously, we also can’t take losing 2-0 at the Mestalla at the end of a grueling training camp with a side full of players who didn’t play a minute together all pre-season, erm, too seriously.

I will say basically what I said in the comments yesterday which is that I thought Arsenal played very well in the first half. Diaby looked a bit rusty and ponderous but he’s certainly bulked up quite a bit since last year. Song looked quite the business breaking up attacks and shielding the back 4. For those who complained about his “fouling” well, that’s what I want him to do! Arsenal need someone like that on this club, even Theo admits that.

Up front we had a damn fine attack which just seemed a little tired rather than lacking teeth as in previous campaigns. Arshavin in particular looked jaded and more than once I was quite disappointed with his lack of movement. But rather than get all up on him about it, I just figure he’s probably never trained this hard in his entire life and since I’ve seen him turn it on more than once I trust that he’ll do it when the chips are down.

At the back, our fullbacks looked fantastic, as they always have, and I would like to be the first to hail them Backary Sagna as possible “hairstyle of the season.” He’s shorn off the beads and now has just gone with dyed braids. It’s quite magnificent.

Questions remain at the center back position and I’m going to just come out and say it: that is not because Djourou or Gallas are crap, it’s because of Arsene’s system. Arsene’s system has seen some of the world’s best center half’s used up and spit out: Sol Campbell, Phillipe Senderos, and William Gallas have all had spectacular mental breakdowns playing in Arsene Wenger’s system. The high line, ball holdery, offense-as-defense system that Arsenal play requires a specific type of center back (someone with quick recovery, is intelligent, who can handle the pressure of being constantly exposed, and is able to make desperation tackles) which, in turn, means that Arsenal don’t generally have the height to defend well from set pieces.

It’s the system and if anyone should come in for criticism, it’s Arsene Wenger. I don’t want to get down on Djourou, he’s a fine young man who gives everything to the cause and is just doing what the boss asks of him. And as for Wenger, personally, I trust Arsene Wenger to see any problems in his system and fix them. He’s the most successful, longest serving, manager in Arsenal history, if anyone sees a problem in this team, it’s Arsene Wenger.

Which raises THE question, the one thing that I’d really like to put to bed here once and for all — can we criticize the team?

Yes, sure, why not? Personally, I’m going to try not to do it this season but I completely understand where that comes from.  By and large the people who criticize the team and the players do so out of love. Maybe they are mad that we don’t play the way we did 5 years ago? Maybe they have a keen insight that I don’t have? I don’t know and really, I don’t care. If people want to get on some blog and talk about what shit so and so is or how worried they are about such and such, let them. Eventually they’ll either stop supporting Arsenal or they’ll learn to stop worrying about everything so damn much.

What I won’t stand for is fans booing at the Emirates, or fans taking the piss out of the manager and players face-to-face. Save that shit for the blogs. In real life, try to be respectful and if you can’t do that then maybe you should find a pack of cunts that would better suit your mentality; Chelsea come quickly to mind.

I also want to mention that just because someone criticizes a player in the comments on a blog, it doesn’t make them “doom and gloomers.” A “doom and gloomer” is someone who worries constantly that Arsenal aren’t going to make the top 6, that Cesc is going to leave half way through the season, etc etc. That term is used quite a bit to describe anyone who ever criticizes anything about the club and has basically worn out it’s welcome with me. Let’s stop using it.

Anyway, my basic approach this season is going to be positive. Positive toward the fans, positive toward the team, the manager, and the club. We have enough people out there being negative that you don’t need it from me as well. I’m not going to be a Pollyanna and I will be honest about a player when he has a bad game, but I think I’ll try to keep it to just that one game rather than see it as a flaw in the player as a whole. Same thing with the club and the manager.

If I have any insight into this club to pass on right now, it would be that I think I can let go of all the criticisms because I think that this club and these players are doing the best that they can with the resources they have. One of the things that Jon Spurling shows us with his book Rebels for the Cause, is that Arsenal have a long and proud history of doing things their own way.  Wenger is just another in a long line of iconoclasts, and I would expect no less of him that to follow in that proud tradition. If the last four years have taught us anything it’s that Wenger is doing this his way, you may not like the way he’s doing it, and that’s your right, but me? I trust Arsene Wenger.

Anyway, we’re going to have a full season preview on Thursday, where I will blow so much lovely smoke up your ass you’ll think you’re a chimney, until then the blogs are going to be relatively light as I expect that there won’t be much news. Try to enjoy the week as much as you can, maybe get out, run around, play a little football, enjoy the end of summer.

Football starts in earnest next week, and I expect so too does the hand-wringing.

Valencia v. Arsenal; liveblogging Manny Pickledickle’s skunky hair

Image courtesy Travis the Septopus

Good day to you all, heard any good news today?

I have a love/hate relationship with players talking to the media. On the one hand, I love it when someone like Steven Taylor finally admits what we’ve all already known for two years; that Newcastle is a joke.

But on the other hand, I hate when Arsenal players speak to the press because the press treat them the same way as everyone else and publish the most incendiary version of the quote possible. Today it’s “Manny Pickledickle, says Chesk is bored!”

Ok, ok, yes, yes, Chesk will probably leave us next year if we don’t win anything. But still… we get enough of that crap from everyone else!

Feed is fired up, be right back!

Oh hey, that picture of Manny is courtesy of Travis the Septopus.

12:10 — So, we won’t know the lineup until 12:20 (PST), while we’re waiting, I’d like to point out the shoutbox on the sidebar. You have to be a registered member to use it and it doesn’t work the way I want it to so I’m looking at some alternatives. If you know of one that you’d like to recommend, please do.

12:20 — Reader haho points out that the lineups are at Arsenal.com.  Looks like Arsenal are playing XI v. I.

12:25 — Wenger’s talking about how this side is going to be very similar to the side that starts at Everton and how this is a test of a wild away atmosphere similar to Everton as well. He left of the Celtic atmosphere which is supposedly wild as well.

12:30 — Haho had the lineup dead on

Manny

Eboue Gallas Djourou Clichy

Song Cesc Diaby

Bentdner RvP Arshavin

David Villa is on the Valencia bench.

12:33 — They’re saying that Vermy’s got a bit of an injury. They are talking about 6’8″ Zigic, who is supposedly the replacement for Chamakh at Bordeaux. IF we sign him.

12:36 — One toke? You poor fool! Wait till you see those goddamn bats.

12:40 — kickoff and Arsenal are in blue, ugh.

12:41 — first minute in and Valencia already showing the game plan; lob it into the 17 foot tall Croat.

12:42 — Both squads have already had corners and nothing comes of them.

12:43 — rain is coming down hard, people are leaving!

12:44 — WHOA, Manny lobs a ball to Bendtner, who flicks to RvP and Robin has a shot o the volley, just wide.

12:46 — Teams are settling down, Jesus, Zigic is HUGE. He towers over Djourou.

12:48 — Zigic gets a ball, drops it for Silva who has a shot which takes a deflection for a corner, Arsenal deal with the set play OK.

12:50 — Bit of an odd moment there as Valencia players play the ball around and Arsenal’s defense scrambles to get the ball away. The odd part was that Arshavin was in the mix and I swear he just stood there and watched as his teammates defended around him.

12:53 — Arsenal are getting frustrated because their midfield isn’t getting many touches. It’s a combination of too many long balls and not enough industry in the middle.

1:04 — Dang database is struggling to keep up with something. I think its best to sign off here and try to figure out what’s going on on the server end. You may get some disruption and I had to disable the shoutbox.  Sorry!

It’s pre-season, we’re all trying to get this stuff worked out.