Citeh v. Arsenal Preview — “We need a massive commitment”

Before you start a football game there is always a good chance to win it, but we need massive commitment on Saturday. — Arsene Wenger after the loss to Aston Villa talking about today’s game against City.

Officially, nothing has happened: the lineup reported by The Beeb includes Gallas, the dot com is silent on the issue, and even The World’s Least Reliable Newspaper (I don’t link to The Sun because I find that paper to be vile and won’t generate a single click for them) is left making up quotes that they heard from “a close family member.” That said, this is exactly how I would expect Arsenal to handle this situation. It would be undignified of the club to strip Gallas of the captaincy for publicly humiliating his teammates by releasing press statements and then turn around and publicly humiliate Gallas by releasing a press statement. That’s the kind of thing that a classless organization like Chelsea would (did) do.

So, if he has been dropped (we’ll find out in about an hour) I would be surprised if the boss says anything about it other than a terse “this is an internal matter, we are dealing with the situation” type of statement.

I will admit that I have taken some cheap shots at Gallas the last few days, really it’s been a long time coming. As I said before, I felt like I needed to bite my tongue about the man and the player for this whole season and so in a sense it was a great relief to finally be able to just let it out.

gallas-protestAfter a few days distance from the whole thing I can say that some of what Gallas said was spot on, if it’s true. If there are players who feel like at the age of 22 they have arrived and don’t need to put in any more work, then they should be sorted out. If there are players who feel like they are equals with greats like Thierry Henry, then they too should be sorted — and by sorted I mean sold to also-rans like Tottenham. And, of course, there are players who need to show more fire in their belly — I’ve been saying that for a month!

The problems with Gallas’ statement are multiple though. First, is the problem that Gallas is one of those players who needs to show some passion and I don’t mean just yelling at his teammates, or throwing a temper tantrum ala the Birmingham protest. I mean he needs to be the one attacking the ball in the final third. He needs to be the one who is willing to risk injury to himself to claim the ball in the air and I think he hasn’t been willing to do that lately. Second, is, well, DON’T RIP THE GUYS TO THE PRESS, DUMMY.

I’ll even throw Gallas a bone — one of the things that Gallas probably doesn’t understand is that this generation isn’t like his generation. Growing up, I was never praised unless I did something extraordinary but this generation is radically different: they need constant praise (link to first article I found — it’s a well documented phenomena). Gallas’ authoritarian leadership style just doesn’t work well with people born after 1979. Growing up being told that they were all precious little snowflakes, constantly praised for just doing their job, treated equally, and having rules and ideas explained to them rather than forced on them shaped the way that they expect to be treated by their work place. You can’t scream at Clichy when he makes a mistake that costs Arsenal the game — if you do, you risk losing him forever. These young men need mentors, leaders who lead by example rather than authoritarian dictators who scream at you for every mistake you make. So, maybe Gallas didn’t understand that generational gap, his interview sure seems to indicate that he didn’t get it; wanting players to respect him just because he is older. That’s just not how it works any more.

That said, Arsenal gave Gallas every chance. The moment that will be iconic of the Gallas reign was the Birmingham Sit In. Universally condemned by everyone outside the club, Arsene Wenger protected him and explained away his behavior by saying that he is just a passionate player. Then, this year he’s caught out late smoking a stogie before a match, the boss again defended him. And those are just the highlights. After all the chances he’s gotten I can’t see how he would get away with this latest event.

What happens next is being speculated on wildly. T-Town Alex reports that L’Equipe is linking Gallas to Bordeaux. Some other blogs are speculating that he might have his contract terminated and become a free agent. Doing that would free up $160,000 a week in wages, which could be used to bring in Stephen Appiah. Or, Arsenal could loan him to a French side, or Arsenal could sell him on in January. I find the last option least likely since Gallas is such damaged goods right now. The most likely scenario is a loan or free agent situation… then he can re-join his mates at Stamford Bridge.

I’m sure we’ll all know more about Gallas’ situation at the club here over the next few days. Today, the team has to somehow put all this stuff behind them and come out to play. Citeh has been struggling as of late — since their 6-0 win at Pompey, they have gone L-L-D-W-L-L-L-D. Of course, on the other side teams have been licking their chops to play Arsenal lately as we have put in some very ordinary performances.

The good news is that defensively, Arsenal are actually a better away team than they are at home so far this season — conceding 10 goals at home and only 5 goals away. Add in the lift that sometimes happens when a team has a massive change (if Gallas is actually dropped — which the Beeb is now reporting Almunia as captain and Gallas being dropped) and we could see a real classic today.

To get there, though, “we need massive commitment” from these young lads. There is not doubt that there will be a strange lineup today, some kids may be drafted in to fill the gaps due to injury and big mouthedness. Those kids are going to have to be 111% committed to get a result against City at home. I know that they can do it: Arsenal are a machine, one cog breaks, you insert another. They all have the talent, they have the ability, and today they need to show that they have the desire.

There have been many pivotal moments this season but I think we’re reaching the pinnacle of pivotal moments today. The game that sets the course of the season? Maybe. Go out there and win it!

UP THE ARSE!

Gallas Stripped, fried in butter, makes a nice pan sauce

Following the lead of all the other bloggers who heard from a reliable source, that William Gallas’ cousin’s sister’s girlfriend read on his facebook that Arsene Wenger has stripped Gallas of the captain’s armband I too can confirm that I heard the same rumor (hey, ESPN.com is printing it, it must be true!)

I can also confirm that the same rumor mill is reporting that Gallas is going to be dropped for the match against Citeh.

If this rumor is true then both Nigel Winterburn and Perry Groves were right at the same time.

Arsenal Get Some Good News

Look kids, new masthead!

Look kids, new masthead!

After the week this team’s had we all need some good news and Eduardo being 1 week away from full training is about as good a news as I can imagine. Add in that Theo is optimistic about his recovery and saying that he might be back in 2 months rather than the 3-5 months others have put him out for and we might be able to blow away the demons that threaten to tear this team apart.

2 years ago now, I was chatting with a Man U supporter who was parroting the line about how Arsenal made a ton of chances but never took them. It was the type of thing that you read incessantly in the press and I had a ton of facts to back up my position; that Arsenal scored plenty of goals, the problem was in the defense. Then reality beat my numbers all to hell: I had just returned from England and as usual Arsenal go on a streak of losing — 1-1 to PSV, 1-0 to Everton, 4-1 to Liverpool, 1-0 to West Ham and the season was over, kicked out of all competitions. I had to admit that he was right. Arsenal needed a goal poacher someone who could put the ball in the net when the keeper spilled it, a “fox in the box,” a Robert Pires if you will.

Then as if to just pile on the misery, Thierry Henry left and the world said “Arsenal are dead,” hell, even I was worried! Where was Arsenal going to get goals?

How about a blinky Brazilian who plays for Croatia and keeps goals in his pocket, would that do?

When Wenger signed Eduardo the whole world immediately looked him up on youtube and wikipedia. The thing that stood out, really, wasn’t his goals, they aren’t typically magical, but the fact that his goal scoring record for club and country was simply amazing. 73 goals in 111 appearances is insane, even if you are playing against some of the worst players in the world, which he wasn’t. Add in that he scored 13 goals in 22 appearances for Croatia and scored them against some of the world’s best competition (England, etc) and you might be able to see what Arsene Wenger saw.

Before Martin Taylor broke Eduardo’s leg, he had notched up 12 goals and 8 assists in 31 matches in his very first season with Arsenal. Typically the first year is an adjusting year, but Eduardo wasn’t having any of that: the net looked the same in England as it had in Croatia.

He was the real deal, a bona fide goal poacher and the key to Arsenal’s renewed success — before Martin Taylor broke his leg. Unfortunately, the kid has been out since February 23rd, 2008 with a fractured and dislocated tibia and ankle. At the time, walking, much less playing, would have seemed a miracle.

And now he’s back? 1 week away from joining the team? It’s almost like a dream. Maybe he’ll join Arsenal as a late sub against Chelsea? Maybe Wenger will put him in the Carling Cup away to Burnley? I don’t know yet, but I can say that this is the best bit of news Arsenal supporters have had all month.

Come get us some goals Dudu, Arsenal needs you!

Goodbye Yellow Brick Gallas

Should he? Will he? When?

Speculation is rampant at the moment over the future of William Gallas at the club. I did a search on him on my site and since the start of this season I have mentioned him in nearly every blog. Mostly I’ve tried to bite my tongue because, well, because who the hell else is going to play center back much less be captain? Last season I was highly critical of him beause I didn’t think he was the leader, I thought Flamini was the leader of the team both on and off the pitch. But I tried to put that to rest this year, give him a chance, maybe he’d grow into the captaincy.

He hasn’t. He is the same blame deflecting coward with an over-inflated sense of self and a persecution complex who infamously came to us from Chelsea. I spent some time with William Gallas’ career this morning and looking over the old news reports you could have seen this coming. See, Gallas has an autobiography due out soon and the one thing that’s certain about Gallas is that Gallas always looks out for his best interests. It’s no surprise that on the eve of his book being published he’d be outspoken and critical of his teammates, just like he did when he was at Chelsea. One month glowing in praise for the club, and the next, when he wanted a bigger contract, demanding to be traded. It’s always done to the foreign press, always done on international breaks, and always done to further his own interests. At the time, it was all fun and games to watch Chelsea implode under the collective weight of their egos, but when you’re on the inside of the Gallas shit-storm it’s no fun at all.

The weird thing about this is how enamored Chelsea fans were with him. They loved the dude, said he was the best defender in the world, at the time. And at the time, it was widely thought that Arsenal got the better part of the deal. It was also thought that all the Chelsea squawking about him issuing an “own goal” threat was widely seen as just sour grapes. Arsenal fans swept that under the rug, his defending was pretty good and we were rid of that horrible cunt two timing yambag Ashley Cole.

Then Birmingham… then shitty comments about his teammates lacking fight… then those bizarre pre-match pep talks in front of all the cameras.. then smokergate… how many more things do we have to sweep under Gallas’ rug?

Sorry but I think that the rug is finally full. Opinion is deeply divided, not over whether Gallas is captain material (that’s settled he isn’t) but, over whether Arsene will and should replace him. Perry Groves is adamant that the boss should strip him:

Gallas has been an absolute disgrace, I said a year ago that he should not have been made Arsenal captain. He should have been stripped of the captaincy ever since his behaviour at Birmingham. He has brought into disrepute all the great Arsenal captains of the past. And now for him to have the front to say that we have got to be like warriors! I could name four or five goals we have conceded this season where he has not been prepared to get himself hurt. The goal we conceded against Fulham is one example, the one against Aston Villa, when he got knocked off the ball like an Under 15 defender, is another. Arsene Wenger has to take some responsibility because he is the one who made him captain. He should take the captaincy off him.

I couldn’t say it better Perry. That said, another former Arsenal great, Nigel Winterburn, points out that if you strip Gallas of the captaincy you also have to sit him on the bench.

In my view he won’t sack Gallas. Arsene has put his trust in Gallas to lead Arsenal forward – to suddenly turn round and sack him says I don’t trust you as a player. And if you don’t trust him as a player it also means he’s not going to pick him. Is he going to do that? I don’t think so.

Nigel is also correct. If Gallas is stripped, Wenger won’t be able to play him — because it would mean that Gallas is fundamentally untrustworthy.

The problem is, if he keeps Gallas on as captain, Wenger will lose the respect of his players. How could they respect a manager who lets the captain set such a horrible example?  This is a captain who takes no responsibility for the failure of HIS TEAM, blames others, expects others to do what he won’t do, talks about going to another club WHILE HIS TEAM IS IN CRISIS, and publicly embarrasses his teammates in order to generate press over his new book and deflect blame away from himself. How on earth could you keep that person on your team much less as the fucking captain???

I FEEL LIKE I’M TAKING CRAZY PILLS!!!!

There’s no other analysis, I’m sorry, unless one of you has something mind-blowingly brilliant to say in Gallas’ defense I say we ship him off to Bordeaux on loan… today, he said he’d like to play with them.

I’ll drive, I’ve always wanted to see France and I heard that the beaujolais nouveau is just out.

By the way, Arsenal have a match tomorrow. GOOD LUCK.