Arsenal need to be the rarebit in this Lancashire hotpot


As I was waking up this morning I lie in bed wondering what it was that I would write about, after all the last time we played Burnley was a stinging 2-0 defeat in the Carling Cup at Turf Moor. They aren’t quite the same team as that day and nor are we.

But then it struck me, they had won against Manchester United earlier in the year at Turf Moor, I wonder what their home record is…

Away from home it’s safe to say that Burnley are mostly (mostly) a pushover 0-1-7 with their only draw away coming at the hands of the draw masters Manchester City. Worse, on the road this team has only scored 8 goals and have conceded 27 to lead the league in that category. If only we were playing them at the Emirates.

But we’re not, we’ve got to go to Lancashire and get three points tonight, at Turf Moor where these pesky Burnley Bees* have managed a damn fine home record of 5-2-1 scoring 12 and conceding 7. The boss is right to say that the team cannot lose focus today.

Brian Jensen, the Burnley Beast will be between the sticks today and will hope to put on a similar display to the one he put in against the Carling Cup kids, blocking all shots and providing the solid wall for Burnley to spring their counter attacks from.

Arsenal, for their part will be sadly missing our third string left-back, Armand Traore. I told you to cross everything and you didn’t listen now did you? Look at what you’ve done, Traore is out for at least two games (Burnley and Hull). Meanwhile, the boss has said that Silvestre will get a chance to impress everyone with his left-back skills by exclaiming “that’s not good news for Silvestre!”

That’s it, folks, we can’t dip any deeper into the left-back bin than Silvestre, unless you want to play Vermaelen there and put Senderos in the middle.

Pray to your various gods that Silvestre stays healthy.

Meanwhile, starting center forward Andrei Arshavin is impressing many with both his goal-scoring prowess and his pain threshold with the boss exclaiming

I have not met many with his pain threshold. I’ve had a few [brave players] – the Nigel Winterburns, Bouldy, Dixon, Keown – they were tough boys. Andrey is a hard boy too, especially for a forward.

It’s about time we had someone in this team who would take a licking and keep on kicking. Look at the list of names Wenger touted, not a one of them are from this squad, except our center forward, and that’s a bit sad. Maybe his toughness will rub off on some of the others?

But that’s for the future and last night the boss warned everyone, pundits, journos, bloggers, and the players, not to look too far into the future. We need to stay focused on the task ahead, stay vigilant against complacency, and be up for today’s match:

The real message we have given out [after Sunday] is that Arsenal is ready for a fight and that we do not give up. But to think that we can relax would just demonstrate we are not very intelligent. I believe we are.If we have learned one thing from the beginning of the season until now, it is that every single team has to be considered very seriously and we have to be highly committed and focused. I am impressed by Burnley’s home form and it is another big game for us. But I am convinced that, with a great performance, we will come back with the three points.

Exactly right, 3 points are critical today to keep our title charge on track and to prove that Liverpool on Sunday was not a blip but a full on change of attitude in the dressing room. We will need a great performance to do it, the kind that we had during the second half at Liverpool, but I feel it in my bones, this team is ready to do it!

Right, viewing here in my town is limited, Doyle’s first showing today is at 3pm and I will be down there for that. Also, Doyle’s have London Pride on tap and that’s what I’ll be drinking. Stop by at 3pm and buy me a beer!

*I know they are called the Clarets but their mascot is a bee.

Carlton Cole v. Darren Bent: deathmatch for the right to play for Arsenal

I read two articles this morning which got me thinking about Carlton Cole, Darren Bent and them both as potential Arsenal transfers. The first was a blurb somewhere about how Darren Bent has scored 10 goals but in 9 different matches and the second was one of the many speculative articles that are cropping up now that West Ham has received a £50m takeover bid — something about their keeper Green going to Chelsea I think.

Anyway, it got me thinking about the pros and cons of both these players, who have been often mooted as possible January targets for Arsenal. So, I went out and had a look, this is what I found:


Carlton Cole –

  • 6’3″ tall, 170 lbs heavy
  • 26 years old
  • Scored 7 goals in 13 matches for a 54% rate of scoring
  • Notably has scored against Sunderland, Arsenal, Liverpool and Fulham
  • Notched one assist
  • 7 England Caps this year
  • Currently injured, expected to be out until January.
  • Gets injured, a lot.
  • Posed nude for Cosmo to raise awareness about cancer (NSFW)
  • Crucial player for relegation fighters West Ham, also, he’s English. Would probably require massive bid from Arsenal to prise him away (£16-20m)
  • Could be tempted by an Arsenal move since we will provide him with ample opportunity to show off his talents.

Darren Bent

  • 5’11″ tall, 165 lbs heavy
  • 25 years old
  • Scored 10 goals in 16 matches for a 62.5% rate of return
  • Scored in 9 different matches
  • Notably has scored on all of last year’s top four: Arsenal, Liverpool, United, and Chelsea
  • The team’s record in those matches is 2-1-1 for 7 points
  • Notched 1 assist
  • 1 England cap this year
  • Former Spurs player, felt mistreated at Spurs
  • Cost Sunderland £10m in 2007
  • Has one of the funniest Twitters in the Twitterverse
  • Crucial player for Europa League challengers Sunderland, also, he’s English. Would probably require massive bid from Arsenal to prise him away (£16-20m)
  • Could be tempted by an Arsenal move since we will provide him with ample opportunity to show off his talents — and possibly get him more England call-ups.

There’s my comparison, feel free to mention that you’d rather Arsenal buy Klaas jan Huntelaar in January in the comments below…

FIFA’s International Call-up Rules Clear up Essien Mess

I admit that I can be as lazy as your average Journo, though I don’t consider myself a Journo. Point in case, yesterday, 7amkickoff published a story about Arsenal pursuing action through FIFA to have Chelsea investigated for playing Michael Essien “illegally.” Almost every report I read yesterday contained a brief mention that Chelsea could be possibly even docked points for playing Essien though we all know that the the more likely punishment in the form of a sternly worded warning like:

Messers Abramovich and Chelsea, Please do not violate FIFA rules again (again) or we might have to do something that we will rescind later, as we did in the Gael Kakuta case. Thank you and please no polonium in our Corn Flakes, thank you sorry for bothering you thank you…

Sincerely and with all deference, FIFA

I took the whole thing a bit seriously and even went to the Ghana FA web site for some quotes, which even the Telegraph and others (ESPN, etc) didn’t do, so I felt like I had covered most of the bases.

Until one of my regular readers asked if anyone knew which FIFA rule Chelsea had supposedly violated — DOH… Well, yeah, I (and anyone else who reported on the story) probably should have looked that up.

The problem is that the rule itself is actually kind of hard to find, because it’s hidden in a rule set called “Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players.”

Once I found it, the rule itself is pretty straight forward:

Article 5 Restrictions on playing

A player who has been called up by his association for one of its
representative teams is, <b>unless otherwise agreed by the relevant association,</b> not entitled to play for the club with which he is registered during the period for which he has been released or should have been released pursuant to the provisions of this annexe. This restriction on playing for the club shall, moreover, be prolonged by five days in the event that the player, for whatsoever reason, did not wish to or was unable to comply with the call-up.

Basically the Ghana FA (not Arsenal or anyone else) has to complain and ask that the player be banned, FIFA then tells the FA of their responsibility and they then decide whether to ban the player in question. I still think that this leaves a lot of room for corruption and collusion, but that’s a whole ‘nother article.

The Ghana FA is not pursuing a ban, they have fined him and his 2 other teammates and made him apologize. Full Stop.

Oh, one last detail that I uncovered in researching this. There have been two notable times in the past where players have either been threatened with a ban or actually had FIFA ban them; Nicolas Anelka and Mark Viduka.

Both players “pulled an Essien” and refused to show up for an International friendly after their national sides called them up. In the case of Anelka, the FFF threatened a ban but in typical French fashion quickly surrendered and asked the English FA to pursue the matter. They didn’t and Anelka played.

Viduka, on the other hand refused to fly to Venezuela for a friendly and his National association, the Australian Soccer Association (ASA), vigorously pursued a ban and Viduka missed a crucial game against Manchester United. Leeds were relegated that season and have never been back up in the Premier League. There was some fallout among the ASA players, who were angered by the ASA’s treatment of Viduka and perhaps my Antipodean reader(s?) can comment on that.

Irregardless, the point is that it’s the National side who hold all the cards, which makes this Essien flap a non-story as far as I can tell… except maybe we all learned a little about FIFA rules!

Do you think any “real” reporters will read this and learn something?


Arsenal News?

Not really much going on in Arsenal world today. Denilson picked up a back injury and most of us are hoping is not a recurrence of the back problems which kept him out of the side for the last few months. We need him healthy for the dark months of January when Song departs for the ACN.

The good news is that Eboue will be healthy and available and I suspect that the boss will look to replace Sagna with Eboue for tomorrow’s clash, giving the Frenchman a well deserved rest.

I expect the dot com will release Wenger’s presser later this afternoon and so I’ll give a match preview tomorrow.

See you then, if not sooner, since I have another article idea kicking around in my head — maybe it will kick its way out of my head and into the computer?