Liveblogging Ball Wipers v. Arsenal

Morning all, how about them Chelsea fans eh? For the first 30 minutes or so they booed Wayne Bridge every time he touched the ball and I really cvouldn’t understand what it was that made him the pantomime villian. Until I realized that every one of those people booing Wayne Bridge were doing so because they actually thought he had done some wrong: after all, they would let John Terry diddle their wives in a heartbeat. I mean, how dare Wayne Bridge rebuke what is clearly an honor in the hearts of the Chelsea supporters?

It’s the only thing that makes sense.

My favorite moment of the match, though, was when Wayne Bridge refused to shake John Terry’s hand. I know it’s not the sporting thing to do, but then it’s not very sporting to bone your teammate and best friend’s girlfriend. I don’t know why more folks don’t refuse to shake his hand, you could always make the excuse that you were afraid of STDs.

How ironic is is that it was Wayne Bridge’s clearance and John Terry’s shockingly poor form at center back for Chelsea which saw Manciti equalize? I mentioned that I felt like Chelsea were “clearly struggling”  during the Inter match and watching them again I’d like to reiterate that assertion. Now, without Cech back there to save them, they are looking like a very average defensive team, who lack a real midfield (what does Ballack DO?), and who rely entirely on magic from Drogba to put teams to the sword. Moreover, they are an extremely indisciplined side and now that they’ve been exposed as a bunch of cheats, led by the cheater-in-chief, they managed to lose two men to red cards. I can only hope more referees see them in this new light, though I highly doubt it.

Anyway, this isn’t a Chelsea, City, Bridge, Terry blog, is it? Arsenal have a real chance to make up 3 points when they take on Stoke in the Potteries in just a little bit and we’re going to have a little liveblog covering the match.

For those of you who have used this software before you’ll know that the actual liveblog doesn’t start until I authorize it and that will be happening around 9am local time. Another bit you should know is that I either have to authorize individual comments or I have to give each person  free reign to comment. I’m not quite sure how to handle that last bit yet because there’s also a problem with time delay; the matches in the States are time delayed by a few minutes so, if I authorize my British readers to comment they will let the cat out of the bag on any big moments in the match.

Basically, if I don’t authorize you to comment freely don’t take it personally.

Anyway, to get into the liveblog click here. Start time is 9am PST and the earlier you get in the earlier I can authorize you to comment, or not authorize you as the case may be!

See you there…

Guest columnist Grimbo: A one man show.

That one man can make a difference is not only a statement from the blindingly awesome series ‘Knight Rider’ it also seems to be the difference between ‘them’ and ‘us’ in this, the weirdest of seasons since Blackburn won the Premiership in ’95. I’ve been having….erm, ‘discussions’ with Gooner buddies about our lack of luck with the squad this year, specifically having RVP out from that pointless challenge in the pointless Italy friendly last year at a time when the man was reveling in a new position, scoring from ridiculous angles and providing a ton of assists as well.

Having RVP up front was a stroke of genius as in the 4-3-3/4-2-3-1 (whatever) having a player that is lethal with his back to goal is invaluable… having the crap luck to have lost him made me wonder what it would be like if ManIOU or Chel$ski lost their main front men, which is something I touched on in the post ‘oversimplifying Arsenal’s issues’. What would happen if Shrek and Drog’bah’ had gotten wiped instead of RVP?

Martin Tyler at Skysports (their resident stat man) was asked what the league would look like if those two divers were out of the picture, well actually what the table would look like if each teams top scorer was removed, and low and behold I’ll give you three guesses who would be on top.

If only RVP had caught a cold prior to the Italy friendly and missed the plane. If only Looney had tripped during filming of the latest Shrek movie and Drog’bah’ had been offered a lucrative job as a WWE wrestler for his ability to fake injury and generally act like a c**t, things might have been very different in the league.

What is interesting is just how decisive their goals have been as opposed to our top scorer Cesc. They have been the single deciding factors in a number of games, literally carrying their teams on occasion with the goals they’ve provided, whereas Fabregas’ goals have generally sealed the points but not won them outright. This of course is not to take away from Cesc’s obvious influence on the game and his assists that do win games, but it is interesting to note none the less.

I sincerely hope this post doesn’t bring out the ‘why didn’t we buy in Jan’ crowd because that argument is to me, old and busted. Let’s say the above scenario did happen and Rooney & Drogba were out injured instead of RVP, I’d bet my left testicle that Red Nose and the Russians would not have dipped into the market either, they would have used their fall back cover regardless and made do. To round up this point, who would we have bought anyway? David Villa will never come to Arsenal because he’d want Ronaldo levels of pay…oh, and he likes Spain, a lot. Chamakh? Well if you ask me he’s no better then Bendtner, and doesn’t even have Bendy’s experience of the English game – so lets just can that argument shall we? We know that whoever would come in would most likely make way for RVP when he’s back, and this would also be a factor, no player (unless they’re going to Citeh for $$$$) wants to be considered cover and/or a benchwarmer.

Loosing van Persie when we did sucked, plain and simple, but we’ve done well without him and you never know; his comeback might make a vital difference if he can heal before the end of the season. By then everyone will have gotten ‘used’ to how we play without him, and that’s a very different proposition as how the squad plays when when he’s fit.

Let the fighting commence…

Stoked on Profits and Losses

Between Arsenal releasing their half annual financial accounting, Wenger giving his presser a day early, and me needing to be in to work early it’s been a pretty crazy morning so far.

The Arsenal profit/debt report is deserving of its own column but I frankly just don’t have the time this morning to read through the entire report and find the aporia. Instead, I’ll just say that my initial reaction is one of surprise. The board are claiming that not only did they turn a profit of £35m on all projects but that sales of the Highbury Square development are going so well that total debt on that project is just down to £13m.

Moreover, the club’s debt at this time last year was a whopping £332m and that has been reduced in just six months to £203m with Gazidis trumpeting the fact that as of today that figure is “well below £190m.” With football now delivering nearly £50m in profit a year and with Highbury delivering nearly £10m a year Arsenal look to be in the greatest financial shape of their entire history. Oh, and that doesn’t even touch on what’s happening at Queensland road where they have already sold the affordable housing to a local trust.

All of this profit is a huge bone of contention among supporters with many asking why that money isn’t being invested in big name players on the pitch and Ivan Gazidis’ answer won’t help soothe those malcontents: we’ve the youngest squad in the Premier League and Arsenal signed 17 players to extended contracts this year.

I’m even starting to wonder what the hell is going on with all the money that this club is generating and until I have a look at the whole report I can’t make a really informed comment there. What I will say is that while the Arsenalization of the Emirates stadium is nice, most supporters who are paying $160 a seat to watch Arsenal in the Champions League would rather that we put money into “Arsenalizing” the squad. I see this Summer transfer window as a real opportunity for Arsenal to make good with their fans and purchase a big name player. Judging from the comments here and elsewhere if they fail to do that and keep reporting record profits they could have a serious fan revolt on their hands.

Gazidis tries to address this and you can check out his remarks on the report in the embedded video below.

Meanwhile, tomorrow marks the return to football where we can all put down the balance sheet for a moment and pick up a ball, and a towel, as Arsenal travel to Stoke for a rugby match played without hands and with a roundy ball.

Wenger is saying that every match Arsenal play for the rest of the season is “like a cup match” to which I reply; well we better not play them like we played them in the cup! You’ll remember that match, that’s where they beat us 20 to 8 in the fouls given category.

We can’t expect any relief from the match official in the fouls department because Peter Walton is in charge. You might remember him from the Everton match, where he allowed Phil Neville to hack down Denilson in the box and gave Fellaini free reign to kick everyone off the pitch. We have broken our Premier League penalty “curse” last week and maybe now that the FA lockdown on Arsenal penalties has been lifted the floodgates will be opened.

We all know what Stoke is going to do tomorrow and thankfully Arsenal have Sol Campbell and Thomas Vermaelen available for a little bit of heading practice. Let’s just hope that the really decent version of Manuel Almunia shows up and is able to punch away some of their direct throws. Which reminds me, is it legal to throw the ball directly into the goal?

As you already know, Gallas, Diaby, and Arshavin are all out for tomorrow and Eduardo’s fitness is going to be assessed today. I’d rather Arsene didn’t start Eduardo irregardless his match fitness. Let’s hold him in reserve in case we need a late, poached goal.

On the other side, Higginbotham and Etherington are out for Stoke which just means that we’ll probably see them bring in some absolute animal like Salif Diao to kick, I mean “mark” Cesc in the midfield. Make no mistake, that’s what we’re looking at tomorrow; the whole team will take turns kicking Cesc Fabregas. It’d be nice if Sol Campbell or someone would take a yellow for the team and just take one of their players out for once. Hey, I know, how about Rory Delap? Not that I’m advocating any form of violence against any of their players that they wouldn’t advocate for ours.

Right, the match is live here in the States on Fox Soccer Channel and it’s the late match. Since Chelsea will be hosting Team Bridge tomorrow we should know where we stand in the table by the time we kickoff at 9:30am PST. I have to say that the early match there (on ESPN2 here) could very well be a real cracker since Wayne Bridge is playing and it seems he hasn’t forgiven John Terry his cuckoldry quite yet. I’ll be tuning in to that for sure.

Meanwhile, over here I’m going to try to do the liveblog but I’ll be honest and say that it’ll mostly be you all just chatting since I get to be Mr. Mom tomorrow and watch the 2 year old all by myself.

That’s it for today from me, see you all tomorrow!