England Away Shirts, Barcelona Fab-rications, Arsenal get Chamakh, and more pre-Liverpool distractions

The Usual Suspects

Hmm…. something about this advertisement just doesn’t seem right?

Um, he’s going to Barcelona…

My best friend’s sister’s boyfriend’s brother’s girlfriend heard from this guy who knows this kid who’s going with the girl who saw Fabregas agree to a verbal contract with Barcelona last night. I guess it’s pretty serious. [The Spoiler]

Oh wait, no, no he’s not

In a stunning reversal, Barcelona have stated flatly that there is no verbal agreement or other agreement to take Cesc this Summer. Which means that a) this was yet another Spanish press fabrication and b) Barcelona covering their asses because Arsenal will sue the shit out of them for tapping up if they don’t deny the link.

When Cesc leaves (and make no mistake he will leave) it will be in a completely classy way and not in this sort of underhanded, back room deal sort of way. And Barca will pay through the nose because as much as Cesc loves Barcelona, he certainly loves the Arsenal and will want to repay us for all we’ve done for him. [ESPNSoccernet]

Mo Chamakh, mo money

According to reports, Chamakh has agreed to join Arsenal this Summer and will sign papers on Friday. I read in the comments here that he’s Europe’s leading goal scorer with his head. I don’t have any clue where to find that stat but if it’s true means that he would add a really different look to the Arsenal attack and a nice respite from the tippy-tappy we currently play.

Oh, and also, he reportedly turned down a bigger money offer from Liverpool for the chance to work with Arsene Wenger. HA!

Hey, maybe just like when Man U beat us to Smalling and then beat us on the pitch this means that since Arsenal beat Liverpool to Chamakh we’ll beat the 3-1 on the pitch? [Mirror Football]

Arsene Strikes Back

You’ve no doubt heard by now that yesterday’s pre-match presser was quite contentious. In fact, it was the most contentious and I would say downright disrespectful display that I have ever seen from the press toward Arsene Wenger and it’s the main reason why I penned the Get your limited edition Chipped Title Hopes pencil holder now! article yesterday.

There was a Scottish reporter who in my opinion basically saw this as an opportunity to treat Wenger like a hostile witness: grilling him, talking over him at times, disrespecting the answers that Wenger gave with childish sniggering and all sorts of huffs and puffs of disapproval.

The American press don’t treat anyone like that, sometimes to my dismay (imagine if they had been hard hitting in the build-up to the Iraq war?) and so I’m not used to the British press and their questions. But here’s the thing, Arsene Wenger doesn’t have to give these interviews or if he does he’s not obligated to give his opinion on everything. So, the press and especially that Scottish fellow should seriously consider calming the fuck down with the distortions and Arsenal bashing lest they find themselves with little to nothing to report.

What am I saying? We all know they’d just make stuff up.

Anyway, Wenger had a couple of bits today that made the papers and they look to have been a bit more respectful. The first is a piece where Wenger addresses the idea that Arsenal are “predictable” and the second is a piece about Arsenal’s finances and why it’s difficult to bring in a big name player. I’m using the dot com sources but rest assured that everyone else is covering the stories as well and doing their best to keep the school-boy sniggering to a minimum.

As for the Arsenal being predictable, Wenger refutes that idea quite nicely:

I believe you have to accept that we lost the games with defensive mistakes, not because of our predictability. Could they predict at the start of the game that the volley of Arshavin would hit the foot of Cech, that Nasri would make a bad control of the long ball when he was clean through, that Bendtner would be brought down? Could they predict all that?

What is predictable is that we try to pass the ball. Now if somebody can prove to me that the purpose in football is not to try to pass the ball, then OK I will believe it. I don’t. It is down to me to make the difference between where we lost the games and where we didn’t lose the games.  I know as well that it’s down to me to live with the criticism of people. But the same people who said that we will not be in the top ten now slaughter us because we are in the top three.

For me the most predictable things in any Arsenal match are that a) people will get away with overly-physical play and b) the press will take Wenger’s post-match comments out of context, go to the opposition manager/players with them and try to get a retort.

As for the signings thing, Wenger unpredictable basically said Arsenal couldn’t afford a top striker in this transfer window. Now, I’ve already read a rebuttal which said that Wenger should have recruited any big body to come in and take pressure off the team, but that’s also simplistic. Sure, you and I can name 10 targets but are they available? How much will they want? Do they want to leave their clubs? Etc.

It’s easy to play Championship Manager from the comfort of your armchair but Wenger’s dealing in the real world. Until we see evidence to the contrary we fans should trust that Arsene and Arsenal’s board have the absolute best interests of the club and the future of this club at heart as evidenced by the fact that Wenger was working to bring someone in.

Is there a game today?

Oh hey, look at that, Arsenal host a little upstart team called Liverpool today at 11:45am (PST). The match is on Setanta and I’ll be down at Doyle’s (surrounded by Scouse) in Tacoma for the live showing.

Predictably, Rafa Benitez is saying that they will try to “smother” Arsenal and hit us on the counter. Which means that Liverpool is set to become a long ball team! What’s interesting about this tactic is that I’ve noticed that it’s not just used against Arsenal, but it’s actually used against pretty much EVERY home team by pretty much EVERY away team I’ve ever seen.

Steven Gerrard has called Arsenal a “wounded animal” prior to the match and well, Steven, shut up. Half that team is lucky to be available for this match after the horrific display in the Merseyside battle. And while you may be riding high after that glorious 1-0 win you have a long way to go before your side can claim that they are legitimate challengers for a top four finish, much less a top three.

Howard “fucking” Webb is in charge of the match and I fully expect he will make an utter hash of this now that he’s been selected to represent England at the World Cup. I have noticed in the last few games that he has changed up his refereeing style a bit and is a bit more “continental,” if you like. Thus, Mascherano and Lucas will need to keep both feet on the pitch if they are to finish the game as I suspect Webb will not put up with the sort of challenges that I saw them make against Everton.

What he will be susceptible to is the guile and cunning of England’s greatest hope for a diving medal in the Summer Olympics; Steven Gerrard. The Arsenal defense will need to keep their toes in if they are to escape without conceding a penalty.

As for the health of the Arsenal side, it’s actually pretty good news. The only short term injury that I know of is Eduardo. Gibbs, van Persie, and Djourou are the only other injuries in the team and they are all basically out for the season. The boss is saying that Bendtner is a bit short and so I don’t expect him to start up front but having a midfield of Diaby, Song, and Cesc all healthy is a huge boost, despite the fact that Arsenal will be playing Arshavin in his favorite role as center forward.

I don’t know what Arsene’s going to do in defense. He’s talked about defense basically non-stop since the Chelsea loss and how it was defense that cost us. Could we see Sol Campbell come in? Fabianski? Could Arsene play both Eboue and Sagna as fullbacks? I don’t know, but I’d like to see what he does. Clichy has been having a nightmare month and Wenger needs to do something about the fact that every team is targeting our left back’s defensive vulnerabilities.

You know what would be refreshing? Clichy plays and on the inevitable fast break he takes a yellow card for the team with a massive tackle on Gerrard. I mean just takes Gerrard OUT.

When’s the last time we saw that?

Right, Liverpool’s going to park the bus, pull out the kiddie pool, and see if they can get chronic cheat Steven Gerrard to dupe Howard Webb into believing that his triple gainer is actually a foul. Arsenal are going to pass the ball, patiently probing for a chance and try not to get caught on the counter.

It’s all very predictable, but given the importance of the contest for both teams should be a good match irregardless. I know I’ll be watching!

WaGs + Body Paint = NSFW

Sports Illustrated is going to page 3 route and has decided (for the first time?) to basically have naked women in their magazine. You could make the case that they aren’t really naked because they are covered in body paint but personally, I wouldn’t recommend trying that argument in front of your boss.

Anyway, if you’re at home, and you’re into WaGs of the World (there’s an American WaG, an English, a German, and an Italian) you might try this Sports Illustrated (NOT SAFE FOR WORK) link.

Get your limited edition Chipped Title Hopes pencil holder now!

The word “fiction” comes from the Latin root “fictio” which in turn came from the word “fingere” which originally meant something shaped or made out of clay. We tend to think of fiction as a novel written mostly out of the imagination but the original meaning, as you can see, is much subtler; creating the same cup out of clay over and over again, with just small manipulations, is more in line with the root of the word. Small manipulations, then, are closer to the original definition of “fiction” that are the grandiose creations we tend to think of when the word is invoked.

In the average Arsenal press conference, everyone has a role. The press, you, me, Arsene Wenger all play our part in this exchange: I’m the wheel, Wenger’s the clay, you’re the consumer, and the press are the fingers which shape the clay. Importantly, the consumer’s feedback is crucial to how the press mold the clay. If you all don’t like the story, you tell them to make it different and they oblige. But, and this is critical, the press only really know how to make a few things.  Oh sure, they can make you a cup but it’s only ever variations on a theme. The themes with Arsene Wenger and Arsenal are: Arsene Whinger’s plate, the Foreign Legion bowl, a Kiddie Cup, the Beautiful Football vase, and a Chipped Title Hopes pencil holder.

So, to produce an Arsene Whinger’s plate, they simply take a press conference where Wenger is highly complimentary of the opposition, decontextualize a quote like “Arsenal dominated” and form that into a nice plate. If you all buy it, they will then make another design and call it a Limited Edition Arsene Whinger’s plate and see if you’ll buy that as well. Last I heard they sold out of the Martin O’Neill Limited Edition, but never fear they have a Michael Ballack edition ready to hit, an Ancelotti Edition and they might even re-fire the old Sir Alex Ferguson Edition. That’s always a big seller.

The Foreign Legion bowl is a big seller around international breaks. The Kiddie Cup is an old stand by and is trotted out whenever Arsenal disrespect either the Carling or FA Cups by playing a full team plus some young players. The Beautiful Football vase is exquisite to look at but it breaks easily, so why exactly you all keep buying that I don’t know. And the Chipped Title Hopes pencil holder has been so successful, it is now on it’s second run with rumors that they might re-run the limited edition Arsenal Drop Out of The Top Four placard which completes the desk set.

This year, they have come out with a special matching set of all of the above items and have even thrown in a few new pieces such as the Arsenal Have No Money To Spend On Transfers Alisher Usmanov bust, the Why Didn’t Arsene Buy Anyone When Arsenal Clearly Needed a (this is a 5 piece set with Striker, Left-Back, Center-Half, Goal Keeper, and Imposing Hard Man all needed to complete the set) coffee mug, and if you act now there’s a bonus gift which is a tee-shirt that says I Bought the Press Hype Dinner Set and all I Got Was This Lousy Tee-Shirt.

Amazingly, it seems that this set is a huge seller and they might even sell completely out with nearly every Arsenal fan wringing their hands over whether they will get one before production stops.

Me?

I’m happy with my This is One Hell of an Arsenal Team Who are Competing for Two Leagues so Fuck the Press pajama set that I made for myself. Sure, it’s not all shiny and new, it’s worn around the edges, and it’s almost 6 years old, but it’s comfortable and keeps me warm at night. And I used the money I saved to secure seats to the Arsenal v. Porto match, which is something that will last a whole lot longer than some crappy Telegraph Chipped Title Hopes pencil holder.