Arshavin saga gets… fatter?

Not much Arsenal news to report today.

The Arshavin deal is “progressing” I guess. According to several sources, Zenit invited Arsenal’s negotiating team to Russia and they have accepted the invitation and… well.. yeah that’s about it.But don’t let facts get in the way! Arshavin’s “omnipotent” agent claims the deal is done! I am going on record as saying that Setanta does not know what the word “omnipotent” means. In factm I think they have confused omniscience for omnipotence. It’s a minor detail, I know.

I guess the sticking point in the deal was that Arsenal offered £10m in cash plus £5m in incentives. Zenit said, give us all £15m in cash and you have a deal. We said, hmmmm….

Then, according to The World’s Least Reliable Newspaper, Alisher Usmanov got involved.  I know what you’re thinking but hear them out, this is how their logic works: Zenit is owned by Gazprom, Gazprom has a subsidiary company called Gazprominvestholding, Alisher Usamanov sits on the board of that company as Dudedonutholding, therefore Alisher Usmanov is brokering a deal between Arsenal and Zenit for Arshavin.

No, seriously, that’s their logic. Never mind that Usmanov isn’t even on the Arsenal board, much less involved in transfers. He sits on a board for a company that invests money for Gazprom. It’s as solid a connection as The Sun has ever run.

In other transfer news… there is no other transfer news! It’s an odd occurrence I have to say, everyone must be taking Martin Luther King Jr day off.

What else is going on? Chelsea are either for sale or they are not for sale. Supposedly the asking price was £800m, which is a lot of money for a club with no history, huge annual debts and a team of overpaid, underperforming superstars. £800m would get Arsenal I reckon, why would anyone want a Chelsea, when you could have an Arsenal?

What else, Ashley Young is now valued at £82m according to Martin O’Neill, which completely scuppers one of my commenters idea to take him from Villa. Get him now, his price is just going up!

And finally… Evidently, Joey Barton has learned his lesson. He no longer stubs cigars out in teammates eyes or sucker punches them during practice, instead he just attacks them on the pitch, during a game, after they make a mistake!

Right, that’s it, I have the day off and there just so happens to be a Liverpool derby today. Kickoff is at noon and the match is exclusively on Setanta. It should be a good crowd and a good match, so if you’re a local head on down to Doyle’s and catch the festivities.

That’s it for today, see you tomorrow!

Hull 1-3 Arsenal; the Good, Bad, and Ugly

Nasri picks his post

Match Reports

Telegraph: Blushes spared as Arsenal’s late rally sinks Hull City

ESPNSoccernet: Arsenal stutter to victory

BBC: Brown rages over penalty decision

Quote of the Day

Bernard Mendy was a handful with his pace and determination, but overall it was a good contest between him and Gael Clichy. I believe this team goes from strength to strength. Mentally they were up for it, we were focused, united, and ready for the battle. And we gave it a go until the end. Did I mention that this is a young team? They are you know; young young young. — Arsene Wenger

The Good

Where would this team be if (knock on wood) Robin van Persie had gotten another of his injuries this year? In his pre-match press conference, Wenger was asked about van Persie’s injury history and he said that Robin’s tendons and ligaments have all stretched into place and that injury period is behind him. Maybe van Persie is 1/2 man, 1/2 silly putty? It would explain why the papers leave such an impression.

Thankfully Robin’s legs are elastic because I hate to think what would have happened yesterday without him. Maybe Adebayor would step up like he did last year, we’ll never know. What we do know is that Robin van Persie shows week in and week out that he is true class and yesterday’s match was yet another example of that as he garnered man-of -match praise for having a part in all three Arsenal goals. Robin now has 12 goals and 9 assists in all competitions for Arsenal and is running away with player of the year plaudits.

Nasri too had a great match, most of which came after Wenger moved him away from the wing and more centrally. Well, I say “moved him” but it’s more like “unleashed him” because basically Samir was all over the pitch. Now, I’m not saying that Nasri is the new Ronaldo because, well, because Nasri’s not a diving, cheating, whining, little cunt but that free role is the same role that Christiano Ronaldo occupies for Man U: technically a wing player, he’s given freedom to roam and create havoc up front.

Wenger tried this with Hleb last year and it worked pretty well for Hleb too, with the main difference being that Nasri can dribble, create chances and score crucial goals. I know I’ll get stick for this and don’t really care, but there were several times last year when Hleb had the ball in the exact same position that Nasri was in yesterday for the third goal and Hleb elected to pass. If Nasri goes the rest of the season without another goal or without another assist he still will have had a better season than any Hleb ever had; just by dint of the fact that Nasri wins matches.

And that’s the last you’ll hear me compare Hleb and Nasri because there’s no comparison, Nasri is twice the player Hleb is.

The Bad

I don’t care how Arsene spins it, this club has serious problems at the back. How does a club like Arsenal have so many pervasive defensive problems and how is it that we burn through so many extraordinarily talented defenders? Every time I turn on an Arsenal match it’s like watching a little piece of one of our defenders die. Yesterday, we saw Clichy, obviously outplayed by Mendy, let his foot off the gas a bit, Mendy took advantage and put in a superb ball which Hull converted.

Before you get to typing an angry response, let me say that I think Clichy is an enormously talented player and while it was his fault for not closing Mendy down I actually see a bigger problem: Arsenal are the world’s most physically demanding team.

Playing in the fastest, hardest challenging, league in the world Arsene Wenger has designed a system which relies on players like Clichy to not only break down opponents on the wing, but defend against the world’s best attackers (Mendy is NOT one of those, but you get the point).  How players like Sagna and Clichy are able to do what they do week in and week out is just amazing if you think about it.

The problem is that unless you have a world class stopper in midfield to sop up some of the pressure, the entire back line is susceptible to leaking goals off simple mental and physical errors.  That’s what happened yesterday; twice to be fair to Hull.

Wenger isn’t going to change his system at this point so, unless we get a real midfield stopper (Diaby is a joke in that position) there’s going to be a lot more days like yesterday.

The Ugly

Djourou sure clattered Manucho didn’t he?

I’d feel real bad for Hull being denied that penalty if Arsenal won every single penalty that they deserved. But no one wins every penalty. Hell, we don’t even win all of the completely obvious penalties much less the ones like that where in real time it looks like a 50-50 challenge.

Conclusions

This is what happens when you let yourself slip early in the season: every late comeback by Man U, Chelsea, or Villa (all had late comebacks yesterday) puts them closer to sealing their position and leaving us out of the top four.

Unfortunately, consistency is going to be the key to overtaking any of the top four clubs, consistency plus hope that they slip. Right now, Arsenal are getting some consistency from the front players but the only thing we can count on from the back is that they will give up easy goals. Let’s all hope Wenger pulls one of his super signings out of his ass, because unless we shore up the defensive midfield, I fear Arsenal will be left hoping that Villa slip to claim our 4th place birthright.

Hull 0-1 Arsenal; Liveblogging the second half.

lobot

Has anyone else noticed that if you’re a football manager and you wear a headset, you’re probably a failure? At the very least a huge dork. Anyway, second half about ready to kickoff but first these messages from Free Credit Report dot com and Notorious….

Jay Simpson had another good game for W.B.A. in their rout of Boro today. I love this kid, I have to say and can’t wait for him to get a chance with the Arsenal first team. Maybe when AC Milan use the money from the Kaka sale to buy Clichy and Adebayor (that’s the rumor) Simpson will get a run out!

45′ — and we’re off!
49′ — lawl… van Persie tosses the Hull defender to the ground and gets called for a foul for his efforts.
51′ — whoa, Arsenal really putting some pressure on Hull as Adebayor has a powerful left footed shot saved. Good stuff here from all the midfielders — except Eboue!
55′ — Hull sub in a striker, huh, they’ve decided to go for the one point.
57′ — thanks for your patronage H! Inevitably, if I get on Eboue, I’ll get someone complaining about me complaining about Eboue. For those people I have made this

leave-britney-alone-guy

58′ — yeah yeah yeah, Djourou is lucky to get away with that challenge in the box (that was totally a foul).
64′ — Hull are attacking a little more, giving Arsenal more space to work and they are strating to strut a little. Unfortunately, nothing comes from it as van Persie…
65′ — craaaap. Who was marking there? God damnit, this makes me so angry.
68′ — Mendy gets a free kick by fouling both Clichy and Denilson, huh…
69′ — YOU LEAVE EBOUE ALONE is replaced with Bendtner, because what this team needs IS MORE OFFENSE
72′ — Hull earn a free kick in a good place, which we are now referring to as “Pattern 2″ if you remember.
73′ — who was it that wanted Arsenal to play 2 holding midfielders? Looks like you got your wish now that Nasri is moved to the center and Arsenal are playing a three striker system.
78′ — Ugh, Diaby with a terrible shot.
80′ — I can see the press conference now “We were in the game, up, holding the ball, and there was a real chance to score the goal and we lost concentration and didn’t apply pressure at a crucial moment. This is a young team and they will have to learn from this. They are still learning, this is a young team, they are young, we have a lot of injuries, getting Song back will be like a new signing…”
82′ — Nice shot by Nasri. He’s not Jesus, but so far he’s been our savior.
84′ — France surrenders…
84′ — By the way, have I mentioned that defense wins championships?
86′ — Ok, I take the whole “defense” thing back, after some terribly shaky defense where they are blaming each other, shrugging their shoulders, and yelling at each other, Arsenal get a counter attack where van Persie plays in a great ball which finds Bentner’s boot and he scores a goal.  OFFENSE WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS!
91′ — Man, if Hull had any players worth their salt that would have been a goal. Arsenal really look shaky at the back.
93′ — poor fella, Bendtner had his shot saved by the post and on the Hull counter, Djourou marks his man properly and puts the cross out. Good spell there.

Final whistle, thank God.

Arsenal don’t move at all in the table since all the top teams won. Clearly there’s some work to be done defensively to shore this team up and ensure a top four finish. I have to say, Nasri looks like 10x the player Hleb ever was or will be. Sure he could dribble and stuff but Hleb never won Arsenal a game, Nasri won Arsenal that game. Anyway, more on all that tomorrow. We got a win and that’s all that really matters, right?