Arsenal get fit, what’s your dream XI?

Your Dream Lineup

Arsenal are on the verge of being the healthiest I have ever seen them. Rosicky is healthy and playing both for club and country. Cesc is back with the club tonight after some personal problems saw him jet back to Spain. Almunia should have recovered from his “affliction” by now. Nasri is set to return to training and should regain match fitness in time for the December run in.  Eduardo is on the mend much to the consternation of Slaven Bilic. Song is in such good form at the moment that Frank McLintock  compared Alex Song to the rapacious Peter Storey, who ranked 26th on the Times list of 50 greatest hard men. I could go on.

Incredible as it might seem, having suffered the last few seasons with such devastating injuries,  Arsenal could very quickly find ourselves with lineup congestion! Knock on wood that the boss has this problem.

So, that raises a question; if you have everyone fit, where do you play them?

Now, obviously, this question has a ton of answers. Against a tall opponent you will want to include taller players. Against an opponent who parks the bus, you need skillful players who can break down defenses. Against Chelsea you need a bazooka, three gallons of rotted fish, and a voodoo doll. You get the point, and I concede that no single lineup is best for all circumstances. But you still have one, maybe even two! If so, share them below.

Here’s mine to get you started:

dream-xi

On the bench I’d take Mannone, Eduardo, Djourou, Eboue, Denilson, Walcott, and Wilshere.

Almunia: despite some incredible performances from the backups, he’s our most experienced and solid keeper.

Clichy, Vermaelen, Gallas, Sagna: is there any question that this is our best defensive lineup?

Nasri, Cesc, and Song: Nasri is an underrated defensive player who has a bit of bite to him and also is able to get forward and score goals from long range. Add in his dribbling ability and he is one of our most dangerous players in breaking down the purely defensive teams. Cesc is a no brainer and Song is vital in shielding the back four, don’t believe me? Ask Frank McLintock, he knows a thing or two about football.

Arshavin: why wouldn’t you pick him?

Rosicky and van Persie: picking these two leaves the team without a real target man up front, which means that there will have to be… more passing in order to get the ball up front. But that’s ok, the whole team is built for that!

So, who do you pick?

Transfer Rumors

The Inler to Arsenal rumor has gained ground again, mostly due to his agent’s refusal to negotiate a contract. I do think that Arsenal need a holding mid for when Song goes to the ACN and maybe there’s some truth to this? The rumored asking price of £13m might be a bit steep but as far as I can tell he’s not cup tied in the Champions League. Does anyone know if he played in the Europa League?

Wenger’s going to sign Merida to a long term deal. That’s like a new signing, right?

And finally, in the shock move of the century, Patrick Vieira is not coming to Arsenal in January.

Short blog today, there isn’t much to say (that never stopped me before AMIRIGHT???). See you tomorrow with more of the same.

Beware the teats of Barca, the milk’s gone bad.

Bag balm is simply the best for all your cracked and chapped teats needs. Rub it in and keep those Barcelona teats soft and supple.

I have discovered the joy of Barcelona FC during a Presidential election. With their seemingly non-stop tapping up of pretty much every player in the history of mankind, and especially Arsenal players, I used to get all angry and say things like “die you fcuking cock sandwiches” and “irregardless, this is proff that they just want to take away our middle-fielders and they should be banned from transfers for eternity!” But now, thanks to the internet, I’m much better.

The internet, you see, serves up so much delicious irony and so many bizarre quotes that after a while it just started to sink in; Barcelona are actors in a Catalonian comedy! Take this latest quote from Barcelona’s Berguiristain

Cesc is a player who has the Barca profile. He was born suckling upon the teat of the football here. One day he will end up playing at the Camp Nou. I am sure of it.

That can’t be a serious statement made by a man who is in charge of a multi-million dollar international sporting empire. “Suckling the teat” of Barcelona? No, that is something that only a clown would say. That he then goes on to tap up Ribery and Robinho making mad proclamations such as “If Ribery goes on the market, we’ll be first to know” only heightens the sense of farce.

Of course, no good comedy would be complete without the play within a play: a perfect mirror for the court jester that is Txiki Berguiristain, Joan Laporta and the other cast of folks at Barcelona who so accidentally brighten my day with their madness. The internet delivers here as well with “Barcanews” over at Twitter serving up a delicious foil for the real Barcelona news 140 characters at a time. My favorite?

FC Barcelona to play with 10 men from now on, leaving a place open for Fabregas until he joins in 2028.

See, no need for alarm. No need to get your heckles up. Barcelona’s pursuit of Cesc Fabregas is nothing short of a comic masterpiece. A modern day Taming of the Shrew but instead of Barca playing the part of Petruchio and Cesc as Katerina, they are actually stuck in the introduction. Barcelona are the drunken tinker Sly.

Now, kiss me Cesc.

Arsenal’s international highlights + transfer and other rumors

In case you were sleeping in a rotted old log yesterday and decided to come out and look around today, and check 7amkickoff I have some video of Cesc’s cheeky goal, Senderos’ double, and highlights from Carlos Vela’s wonderful performance against El Salvador. There’s also some club rumors and transfer silliness to get to so we might as well get stuck in.

First off, something is going on with Cesc. He played, and scored, in yesterday’s match but right after the game flew home for “serious family matters.” I don’t really need or even want to know what’s wrong, out of respect for his privacy, but he’s a Gooner and as part of the Gooner family we’re all concerned for him and his family and hope that everything is OK. El Capitan can take as much time as he and his family need to deal with their situation as far as I’m concerned.

In the mean time, you really do have to see the goal he scored, it’s top drawer. His goal scoring form of late is really promising and this goal is something that only guys who are in top form try.

Over in Luxembourg, one of my favorite players, Phillipe Senderos, was busy showing that he’s still got a good head on his shoulders by putting two past the Luxembourgians. These aren’t the most spectacular goals you’ll ever see, he doesn’t rise over anyone in either instance, but they are very well taken and each shows a damn fine touch.

And finally, between the annoying bee sounds from the crowd and the comical 2 minute, three breath “GOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAALLLLL” celebrations, this is perhaps the world’s most annoying footballing video. Watch it with the sound off and fast forward to the half way point, where you’ll see Vela set one up and then score a great poached goal off some comically poor defending.

There are other highlights, Gallas got a goal for France, but they aren’t on YouTube so I didn’t embed them. Go over to 101 great goals to see all the other highlights if you’re into that sort of thing!

On the back page we’ve got some rumors flying about the club regarding transfers and the club infrastructure. It looks like the Spanish press have dropped their Cesc to Barca story and instead have picked up a new line; Clichy to Real Madrid. Reportedly, RM are prepared to offer £16m for the left back and as much as I like Clichy, that’s the kind of offer that the club, even with great cash reserves, would find very hard to turn down. Especially given the form of Gibbs and the impending 6+5 rules that the FA want to impose.

The only other transfer rumor that I cared about today is the Huntelaar for Pavlyuchenko trade and the only reason I care at all is because this Summer so many Gooners were saying that we needed Huntelaar at the club. Now, here he is being called a “flop” and being waved around as a straight up trade for the 4th option on Tottenham’s bench. I watched a couple of matches Huntelaar played in this season and was completely unimpressed but this latest transfer rumor pretty much closes the case: Huntelaar is crap and I’m happy we didn’t waste time and money on him.

As for the club, the press are making some noise about Ivan Gazidis’ interview with the Star on Sunday. There’s some squawking about Ivan’s statement that he wants the club to win something this season but I don’t see that as a warning to Wenger as is being reported. Rather, it’s a broad desire for the club to win something and a belief in the squad as it stands. I’ve been banging this drum all season so far and I really do agree with Ivan and Wenger that this club has all the parts needed to challenge on many fronts. Wenger too has talked about this season being seminal but despite my early season prediction that he might dismantle the team if we don’t win anything this year I’ve changed my mind a bit. There seems to be a deep commitment  to this project and rather than blow it up, I think the club would keep going down this path. The path that put three of the best England U21s on the field in their match Friday. But hey, it’s all pointless speculation, we’re going to win something, right?

The other rumor that I am not putting too much credence in quite yet, despite the fact that I’d really love it to be true, is the idea that Arsenal are going to abandon their tranquil Austrian pre-season preparations and instead are going to travel to either Asia or the U.S.  I’ve mentioned many times how much I’d like this to happen and I think that a tour of the U.S. would do a great deal to both fill the coffers of the club (so that we can not buy players!) and increase the international fan base. That said, Wenger is a creature of habit and I’d be shocked if he could be convinced to abandon his pre-season ritual for a few more pounds. Pleasantly shocked, but shocked no less.

And finally, I didn’t watch the Ukraine v. England game but I did read about it and it seems like the match was pretty much the mad house of racism and hooliganism that everyone thought it would be. With the English FA looking like they are going to report the match to FIFA, I’m thinking that the racists in the crowd may have finally done mortal harm to their country’s hopes for Euro 2012. After some thought, I think that the Ukrainian people don’t deserve group punishment, especially given their economic hard times. I’d much rather that FIFA set up a program to deal with these people across the globe and stick to it: a series of progressively more severe punishments that is well outlined would be a good start. The way they are currently going about it is mealy mouthed at best and at worst could be unfair. I mean, Spain has a recent history of racism staining their grounds and I can only recall a few times that FIFA has bothered to get involved. Punishing all of Ukraine for this weekend’s ugly scenes could be unfair.

Anyway, that’s it for today. I have some cool things scheduled for this week, so stay tuned, and I’ll see you all tomorrow.