Arsene prepares us for the bad news about Arshavin

It’s one of those days. Manchester City and Tottenham are throwing around money like it’s water and Arsenal are sitting on money like it’s, uhh, gold? Fools gold?

First, the bad news is that the Kaka deal is off… no wait, it’s back on and very close to a done deal!

I really hope City sign Kaka because that’s £100m fewer they can spend disrupting the rest of the league with their foolishness. FOOLISHNESS. Oh and yes, I got that link from L’Equipe, which my Google Reader translates for me. Suck it, non-Google reader monolinguists.

Not to be outdone, Spuds are bidding foolishness as well, offering £14m for Kenwynne Mulholland Jjones and £10m for Arsenal reject Wilson Palacios. I just want to mention that if we add up the value of all the central midfielders that Arsenal have let go for free or cheap, I swear Arsenal could buy a Kaka: £15m for Diarra, £15m for Flamini, £10m for Palacios, well, ok, 40% of a Kaka. Still, something doesn’t add up: during the period where we have let go those three players Arsene has kept Denilson, Song, and Diaby. Maybe Song is a £20m midfielder in disguise? Like he’s wearing this facade of being a slow, dopey, slack jawed, careless defensive midfielder but underneath he’s really great? I don’t know. I do know that Arsenal’s problems getting and keeping a solid defensive midfielder is starting to get on my pecs.

As for the Arshavin deal, Arsene is prepping us for the worst.

I am very hopeful … because the market closes at the end of the month, but if it does not happen, it does not happen. We have a few options available although we are not close to any of them – everything is open. Do not forget we have Rosicky, Fábregas and Walcott who are all creative and offensive players and will come back from their injuries at some stage, as will Eduardo. He has recovered very well and he would be like a new signing. For me, he is two to three weeks away.

Wenger is clearly frustrated by the situation and grasping at straws. We all know that by the time Rosicky (never), Fabregas (May), Walcott (March), and Eduardo (February) return Arsenal could be out of the Champions League and may have dropped further in the EPL.

Just as an example, we should have Eduardo back for the first leg of the Roma match and Walcott back for the second leg. Meanwhile there will be somewhere around 6 Premier League matches before both of those guys are back. Plus, Arsenal have to travel to Wales and play Cardiff in the FA Cup, before either of them return.

The point is, it’s brown trousers time, folks, and Wenger pointing out that Cesc is due to return in the last week of the year is disingenuous at best. I’d rather he didn’t say anything or just “we’re trying to sign someone” rather than bullshit me with fantasies of Fabregas dancing around midfielders in my head.

ARRRRGHHHHH I HATE TRANSFER SEASON.

As if you needed more reason to hate the whole transfer market right now, I present you with the best article of the transfer season, it has less meat than a Chicken McNugget (HA! they have since filled it in with flap about Arshavin). I don’t know what else they could add, but I love the fact that it’s a whole link to itself, for basically a headline and a teaser. Sorry, put that in with another article. Hell, put it in with this one about how Inler doesn’t think Arsenal are a top club and that’s why he refused to sign with us. Save me a click please.

Anyway, all of this just goes to show that January is no time to try to shore up the squad and Arsenal are going to need some real luck to get someone in who fits the bill(s). Sadly, right now I think our luck has just about run out.

City goes for £100m Brazilian, owch.

The funniest story this morning is that City offered £91m for Kaka, Gattuso, and Dida.  Gattuso is injured and Dida is shite, so, let’s be honest and just admit that this is a $100m bid for Kaka. Now, depending on who you read, Kaka is either willing to talk to City or has rejected them outright. City is trying their level best to get to the player by offering him an after tax salary of £13m but when Kaka’s agent publicly says

Kaka wouldn’t do anything based on money. He would never do something like Robinho, who, just to earn more, contented himself with a solution that was not a winning one. (emphasis added)

I rather doubt the player will be tempted.

Honestly though, it’s not the money, it’s not that City are struggling to stay in the Premier League, it’s that established Italian players do not want to come to England in the prime of their careers and have their legs broken by the Mathew Taylor’s and Kevin Davies and Joey Barton’s in this league. Add in that the pace of the game and demands of English football are harder than in Italy, that the English refs are biased against foreigners, and the food and culture is continuously a sore spot and really, even £14m after tax isn’t enough.

In Italy he’s a god. In England, he’s a great player on “the other Manchester team.”

Which leads us to Arsenal target Andrei Arshavin. Sadly, news reports are circulating now that say Inter are getting involved in the bidding and if true I think we have to say our hopes for landing the player have diminished. I really wish Arsene would just look elsewhere for a player. Dealing with Zenit is distasteful at the least and at best it’s starting to look like they are using Arsenal to get the max they can from Inter or City after the Kaka deal falls through.

The team would be better served if they would spend their time on getting a player in, for a reasonable fee, who would shore up the defensive end of the squad. Hangelaand is often linked, a defensive midfielder maybe, you know, that kind of player. Maybe if you want to get realy crazy, recall Traore from Pompey and have him compete for Eboue’s spot.

Cesc Hates Football

Ok, not really, but Cesc did make a rather incredible statement in the match program on Saturday against Bolton and rather than cut it up, let me just give it to you whole

Of course I love watching Arsenal, and I will never miss a game when I can help it, but apart from that I’m just forgetting about everything to do with football. Even my girlfriend is surprised because it’s unusual for me, but to be honest when it comes to football at the moment, I am off it until I can start to get fit again.

I just have to be patient and try to enjoy a holiday. In the last five years I haven’t been able to take any type of holiday because even during the summer I have been playing for the national team, so it’s been constant.

I think in six years I’ve only ever had three consecutive weeks without football. That’s not normal for a 21 year-old. For Arsenal and Spain at all levels I think I have played 270 games – for a 21 year-old that’s not normal so I guess at one stage this had to happen. I want to relax as much as possible, and I’m sure I will come back stronger

Wenger gave Cesc some time off to start the season but clearly it wasn’t enough. I think we all saw a dip in form for Cesc at that time and now we know why, he’s burned out on football. I don’t know what Cesc is thinking but it looks to me like the burden that Wenger put on the young man, playing him 250 times before the age of 21 has started to tell. We all have to hope that these 4 months off see him return refreshed and hungry.

I’d also hope that Wenger sees this statement and understands that we need to bring in some experienced players rather than just throw Wilshere, Vela, and Ramsey out there to the wolves.

Yes, for those keeping tabs, I have changed my mind here.

Rapid Links

Simpson is doing well, winning matches, and earning plaudits from W.B.A. He supposedly scored a great goal, anyone have a link? I’d love to see Simpson help W.B.A. stay up this season and then be recalled back into the Arsenal team and give Ade some competition for his target man spot up front.

Spuds are being cautious with Appiah and will test him out tonight in a friendly to see if they want to sign him permanently.  I have to think that there’s something really, really wrong with him if the normally profligate Spurs are being so cautious. So, erm, good job not signing Appiah, Wenger!

Howard Webb admits he was wrong. No, not about the piss poor refereeing at Old Trafford but about his piss poor refereeing in a Wolves/Birmingham FA Cup match where he admitted that he failed to give a penalty for a clear violation. Now, if we could only get him to admit that he’s Wayne Rooney’s bitch we’d all be better off. “Best ref in England?” That’s an insult to England.

What happened to the beautiful game?

History is more or less bunk. It’s tradition. We don’t want tradition. We want to live in the present and the only history that is worth a tinker’s damn is the history we make today. — Henry Ford

I came to love the Arsenal at arguably an inopportune time. Chance put me at a place where I was angry with the cable company for making me pay a monthly charge on my cable modem and the federal and local government put all of my city in a place where we could buy internet and cable television services from them instead of the big cable company. In a moment of anger,  I ditched Comcast, signed up with my city’s cable company and sat back to watch television.

Of course, the television didn’t get any better, but what I did get was all the “digital cable” channels for the same price as basic cable. It was a pleasant surprise, the icing on the cake as the idiom goes. Hidden in those digital cable channels was a small, relatively new channel called Fox Soccer Channel and little did I know the profound effect that channel would have on my life.

Like I said, I came to love Arsenal at an inopportune time. If I had been some kid who grew up in Watford or Wycombe or Slough who’s dad just happened to take me to a game when I was a child, I think it would have been better for me, for my soul, because when I was a child, Arsenal sucked. They sucked ass, and with the exception of an FA cup and an FA cup 2nd place finish in 79 and 80 (when I was 10) Arsenal were a middle of the table team.

Instead, I had to fall in love with a team that had Denis Bergkamp, Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira, and Tony Adams on it, which is simply unfair. For most teams, players like Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira are once in a lifetime players, so to have both on a team at the same time was a coup of epic proportions — and to add in Bergkamp and Adams is just, well, unfair. I picked up Arsenal when they would,  in just a few years time, become invincible and would play the most beautiful football I have ever seen.

How does that become someone’s introduction to football? “Here’s a team who will become the best team you will see in a generation, enjoy a life time of wishing that every team from then on is half as good as the one you’re watching! Oh yeah, and you have no context in which to put this whole experience so you don’t even get to enjoy it while it’s happening!”

That’s not fair. That’s not a standard that anyone should ever have to live up to. It’s like being handed a video game console and playing an entire season on the “easy” setting, against the computer. When your friend inevitably comes over and plays you, it shatters your perception of reality.

I think something similar has happened to the Arsenal team that we see on the pitch right now. I complained the other day, in my Good-Bad-Ugly, that Arsenal had become boring and I have to admit in retrospect, that’s not fair. I’m judging this team based on my experience with The Invincibles which is unfair because both the team has changed and, as Wenger pointed out, the league has changed.

I actually noticed the change in the league when I was watching the Man U/Chelsea match on Sunday. As I was sitting there, picking up the pieces of my lost morning, I saw something very familiar in the way that Chelsea were playing: they were moving the ball quite well, maintaining possession pretty well, but when they got in the Man U final third, United picked up the ball pressure, forced Chelsea to the center of the park, dispossessed whoever had the ball, and started a beautiful, flowing counter. This happened a lot and if it didn’t happen and Chelsea were able to get off a shot, it was either lacking teeth or it fell prey to the old “over elaborate play” problem — then it dawned on me…

HOLY S*&T! CHELSEA HAS BECOME ARSENAL!

I knew that Roman has always fancied his club as the new Arsenal, from the transformation of Arsenal from small club to world classs in the 1990s down to the players that Arsenal had on our squad: if Arsenal was interested in a player, Chelsea simply read about it in the papers and bid double. Chelsea even went so far as to tap up Ashley Cole. I mean, this is a club that wanted to be Arsenal so bad, they fired the most sucessful coach in their history, not because he wasn’t winning, but because the team wasn’t playing beautiful football! That’s insane.

Emulating Arsenal seems like a goood idea, but the problem is that Roman didn’t expect that the entire world would unlock the secret to beating Arsenal: solid defense in a 4-5-1 formation.

And of course the world figured it out, all they needed to do was look at a history book. That’s exactly what happened in the 1930s when teams used to play a 2-3-5 and it was Arsenal who innovated the change! Arsenal started playing a solid back line under Herbert Chapman and won titles with it. So it should be no surprise that teams would see Arsenal playing effectively a 2-4-4*  and say, “ok, let’s play a 4-5-1 to counter that.” They have 9 players defending, we have 8 players attacking. You do the math.

That’s how Fulham ground out a win, that’s how Stoke ground out a win, that’s how Aston Villa ground out a win, etc. Teams like Arsenal have become entirely predictable and their opponent’s response to us has become entirely predictable as well. As Wenger points out, this is only natural, after all, the difference between relegation and staying up is millions of pounds in revenue so teams do whatever it takes to stay up; beautiful game be damned.

Ocassionally, a team playing the 2-4-4 will get an early goal and that throws the whole plan into disarray; because then the 4-5-1 team starts attacking, which opens space in behind them and allows the more offensive minded team freedom to create. But that’s not happening as much for us as it once did, which we can blame on injury, transfers, lack of creativity, lack of a wide player, *ahem* not shifting our tactics when faced with all of the above, and so on.

But yes, the league has become predictable, and yes, the beautiful game is essentially dead; at least when teams come knocking at Arsenal and Chelsea’s door. The only thing that is unpredictable right now is how teams like Villa and Fulham will play each other and, normally, how the top four will play each other. This explains the topsy-turvy season that we’ve had this year up and down the table.

If we want the beautiful game back, Wenger is going to have to inject some fresh tactics, fresh bodies, and a fresh approach to the game. It’s what every great Arsenal manager before him did. Of course, it’s entirely possible that Arsenal will never get the beautiful game back. It’s possible that Arsenal’s beautiful game was just a once in a lifetime thing; a combination of great scouting, lucky buying, a change in diet, good team balance, and having the older players around to Shepard the younger ones.  Moreover, it’s entirely possible that it’s just my spoiled inner child who wants another Invincibles, who wants to switch the Playstation on easy mode and play against the computer one more time — so that I can relive a tradition that never really existed instead of living in the moment and enjoying what we have.

Nah… BRING BACK THE BEAUTIFUL GAME ARSENE!

*We can argue this ad nauseum but basically I see Clichy and Sagna as the only two players providing any width to the team — which is similar to Chelsea with Bosingwa and ACole — making them the midfielders and Nasri and Eboue actually strikers. Just look at how centrally Eboue and Nasri play and how often Clichy and Sagna are wide and deep.