We don't think AVB will be opening his mouth even if Arsenal lose at City but there will be plenty asking questions. It's also a big weekend for a Spurs side yet to claim a scalp...
Considers Alan Partridge circa 1992 a style icon and enjoys over-vaunting the England team, English players or English teams in Europe. It's Andy Townsend...
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Woah There! Arsenal Still Better Than Liverpool
In response to Simon (wishing for Wenger at LFC someday...), Ireland, apparently you couldn't find any players in the Arsenal team that would improve Liverpool, or any top 6 club's.
I suggest you either visit an optometrist or remove the useless appendage on top of your neck from your derrière, and inspect a little bit closer
Without resorting to an entire list of the deficiencies in this argument comparing specific individual players to another I shall simply request you observe exhibit A - Santi Cazorla, who would quite comfortably walk into any team in the league (possibly barring Chelsea and even then he offers a more polished product than their kids)
This is without Wilshere, Koscielny, Arteta, or Walcott who would all quite comfortably displace members of the Liverpool squad. Not to mention there are two players from your first team I would happily accept in the Arsenal team and one just joined from Sunderland.
Granted Arsenal aren't the powerhouses of yesteryear where the entire team would walk into everyone's team excluding Man United but please I have two requests don't try dismissing this as a talentless team only pushed on by Arsene Wenger's immense motivational activities and for christ's sake please don't ever pick up a copy of 'Where's Wally' as your visual inabilities may lead to library fine induced bankruptcy whilst you search.
Kris (Feeding the trolls) Arsenal
When You Put It Like That
Graham Simons, Norf London thinks the answer to Arsenal's problems is to sack Wenger, replace him with (2 games in Europe experienced) Bould and bring Djourou and Bendtner back into the team and re-sign Flamini on a free.
That's what he thinks will be a positive move.
Arsenal Are Going Backwards
It seems as if some people (i.e. Simon the Liverpool fan from Ireland) are falling into the dangerous trap of saying Wenger is doing a great job and that he's a wonderful manager because he's finished 4th season after season. Don't get me wrong, Wenger qualifying for the CL for 16(?) seasons in a row is impressive, and even more impressive considering the squad he has had the last few years. Wenger has always, and still is, a very good coach....well he's very good at coaching Plan A at least.
However, what Simon fails to acknowledge is that finishing 4th season after season when you went through an entire season unbeaten less than 10 years ago and haven't won anything since represents quite a fall from grace. Yes the current Arsenal squad isn't very good, but that is a squad assembled by Wenger. Is there any player in Arsenal's team now that would have got into that 'Invincibles' side? No. In fact, based on the squad of players they had last season, most Arsenal fans seemed pretty happy finishing 4th...if anything some fans thought they overachieved. The complaints don't seem to be how the team performs week in week out, but rather the quality of the team that is put out in the first place.
Spurs have improved in the last 10 years (with a significantly smaller turnover) to the extent that Arsenal have regressed. Wenger is famously responsible for the majority of important issues at the club, including transfer dealings - which, perhaps tellingly, is not how most other big clubs operate nowadays - and so the failure of the club to progress in the last 10 years is his fault. With the resources he has had at his disposal, Arsenal should at the very least be competing for the league. Perhaps the answer is a Director of Football to assist Wenger and allow him to do his talking on the pitch, but I can't see him relinquishing that sort of control. He doesn't even seem to think anything is wrong.
I'm a Spurs fan and I never thought I would be happy for Wenger to stay at Arsenal. Such was his impact in his first 10 years I was desperate for Real Madrid or another big club to lure him away. Now I'm not so sure. Yes they keep finishing above us, but Wenger is the reason we have been able to get so close to them. Arsenal will still represent an attractive proposition for any new manager, and if/when a new manager does come in and has £70m to spend on new players, would any Arsenal fan be happy with them winning nothing not even challenging for the league? And would that manager last 8 years? Wenger earned some breathing space for what he achieved in his first 10 years, but I can understand why Arsenal fans think his time is up.
I mean, he didn't go in for Lloris because he had Szczesny......LOL (and thanks).
New TV Deal Isn't All Good News
To start with, I'd like to say I really enjoyed the F365 Focus on the new TV deal. Mainly because it gave me hope. Hope that maybe, just maybe, Financial Fair Play wont be the death knell for competition as I suspect that it may be, setting in stone the top, high earning clubs in their current position from now until the rapture. Maybe, just maybe, the high amounts of television wonga paid to everyone in the top flight will offer genuine competition between clubs, without the need for a sugar daddy to sweeten the deal. I then shifted my gaze a little lower at the Championship, and at the mind-boggling increase in Cardiff City's T.V revenue...1300%! A £64M cash injection, for finishing bottom, and then upwards of over £60M spread out over four years as 'parachute payments' (or, as I like to more commonly think of them, 'Financial Mis-management and Bad Contract Payments').
This puts the three relegated clubs at such an advantage over the Championship clubs that I struggle to see past those three getting re-promoted. What I do foresee however, is a multitude of Championship clubs taking huge financial gambles on getting into the Promised Land, and woe befall any of those who reach for the stars and miss. I really fear an 'Icarus Syndrome' if you will, where we do see clubs go bust trying to escape the Championship, or being badly mis-managed and then left to rot by 'generous benefactors', hoping to taste the fruit that the Premier League has to offer. Maybe this wont happen. Maybe I'm just worrying too much. I hope so.
Liam, Brummie in Cornwall
...Interesting article today from Daniel Storey regarding the increased TV rights deal for clubs which have seen them pocket more cash and allowed them to spend, spend, spend. Storey is right, the arrivals of Osvaldo, Wanyama, Van Wolfswinkel, Bony etc certainly highlights the new found financial power of mid-table clubs such as Norwich, Swansea and Southampton. Not to forget that Spurs have also added impressively to their squad and look like to break the top four domination of City, Chelsea, United and Arsenal.
This all sounds great and judging from the opening weekend fixtures we are in for one hell of a season, but there's a serious drawback to this new found wealth... Where does this leave the young English players?
Now I'm an United fan but I'm an England fan first, I'd give my right testicle to see England lift the World Cup just once in my lifetime, but with this increase in TV revenues it now looks even more unlikely to happen than ever before. As we have already seen so far this transfer window, clubs are looking abroad to find new talent and because of their new found financial power they are able to do so. The financial uncertainty in La Liga makes Spanish players cheaper to purchase for PL clubs, which is why there has been a sudden influx of Spanish players this transfer window.
There's also uncertainty in the Serie A firstly with Inter and now Roma looking to remove expensive players off of their wage bills. You can also look at Ligue 1 with Lyon going through a period of financial uncertainty and selling off most of their once successful team. The examples are everywhere for people to see and whilst this current financial climate exists PL clubs will continue to pick up bargains from foreign teams with struggling finances. This will inevitably lead to an even larger of foreign players and the young English talent won't get a look in.
England were already falling victim to the consequences of a financially strong Premier League and these latest developments will only harm young English players futures further. The FA must act fast before we waste this young generation of talent.
P.S, I really hope Will Hughes stays at Derby this season, he's far too young and has too much talent to sit on a PL teams bench.
Why Can't Liverpool Secure Their Top Targets?
Discussing the finer points of missing out on yet another target it struck me. Under FSG I don't think we've signed any senior player where we faced competition for his signature. Every player we've signed it seems like we've been his only option, and every time someone has gone up against us for a player they have won.
The list of senior players signed under FSG reads: Suarez, Carroll, Downing, Henderson, Adam, Enrique, Coates, Borini, Allen, Assaidi, Sturridge, Coutinho, Toure, Aspas, Alberto, Mignolet (ignoring a handful of free transfer squad players). Although you can't necessarily rely on what's printed in the papers as the whole truth, I don't remember anyone else competing for any of these players; they've been mostly under the radar (or bought for several hundred times their true value, in the case of the Dalglish/Comolli spree).
Contrast with players we have seemingly been in for but had opposition: Willian, Sigurdsson, Dempsey all went/are going to Spurs; Forren and Ramirez chose Southampton; Mkhitaryan Dortmund, Diego Costa Atleti. I'm sure there are a few more. Fair enough that with the exception of Southampton all these clubs can offer a vastly superior career move, but we are a relatively rich club so you might expect to be able to tempt at least one big player. It works for the Russians and Monaco after all.
This makes me keep coming back to Moneyball. The four signings we have made seem to fit this approach - they are not top tier players so not likely to be overvalued, they fill gaps in the squad at lower wages than those they are replacing, and the process is likely to be efficient and low key. Meanwhile FSG want a big name but after the CAD (dropping the H as I like Henderson, even though he runs like a little T-Rex) debacle they are wary of going in all guns blazing, so as soon as there is the threat of a bidding war we are backing slowly away.
The problem with this is that you simply cannot sign a marquee player without competition. Once Willian is confirmed at Spurs then I can't think of any player who is available, would come to us and would significantly improve our first team so it looks like we'll be facing the season with no first XI improvement. This places a ceiling of 6th on us as I can't see us improving our record against the better sides without that extra marquee signing.
I shouldn't complain about sensible financial management given how close we came to administration not three years ago, but if we realistically want to challenge for the top 4 we will need to break this habit at some point.
Jon Gibson LFC (unless we're just waiting until Spurs have spent all their money before we go after our real targets)
Trying To Find Logic
I think I may have an interpretation of Arsene Wenger's comments and actions that paint him in semi-positive light (or at least not mad).
Simon from Ireland touched on the point this morning that Arsenal are 4th because Arsene wishes them to be. Assuming this, everything else starts to make sense. So while it is perfectly reasonable to laugh at his assertion that there are no players available that are better than the ones he currently has, this could be translated instead as there are no players available that realistically get them to finish 3rd. Finishing 4th by 1 point and 10 away from 3rd is viewed as the same as finishing 4th by 10 points and 1 away from 3rd. Those additional points are effectively worthless and there is no point in spending millions on players to try and achieve them.
What I think we're seeing from Wenger is an admission of defeat, that Arsenal are unable to compete with Chelsea and the 2 Manchester clubs, so why bother trying. The clubs aim is to be just marginally better than Spurs and possibly Liverpool. Wenger clearly believes that is already the case; it certainly was last year, we'll have to wait and see if he's right again this year.
Arsenal fans are right to be disappointed by a lack of ambition, but you have to admire the cold logic of it.
Rob G, Guildford.
...To an extent I agree with Simon in this morning's mailbox. Wenger is doing a great job with limited resources, and Arsenal are arguably successful because of rather than despite him. I was chatting today with a Turkish Fenerbahce fan about Arsenal's team and trying to identify players he might have heard of. He immediately said "Henry" to which I obviously replied that he'd long since retired.
I mentioned Podolski because he's an established international, then I started to struggle and I was greeted by blank looks as I asked if he'd heard of Walcott or Wilshere.
The fact is that Arsenal have never been a team full of household names (outside Britain), but they have become a team of nobodies. Being world-famous does not guarantee success, because fame can come for a number of reasons - Suarez, anyone? - but it is important to maintain your international profile. Let's face it, football is all about money, and foreign Premier League fans are becoming increasingly prevalent, but why would a young child growing up in Turkey, China or wherever choose to support a team of nobodies?
Arsenal need to make a statement to the world, because every successful team had to have a bit of swagger about them. They are not Schalke or Porto, happy to be a big fish in their own small pond, they should be aspiring to be a global giant.... Olivier Giroud and Mikel Arteta just don't cut it in terms of international profile.
Jamie Bedwell, Cheltenhamshire
Sounds Like A Crap Yo-Yo
In response to Chris Neill - [Yo Yo players e-mail] - you've basically just described virtually every transfer, ever, and tried to invent a new name for it.
How many transfers deviate from the template of "good young player rises through ranks of lower team, then bought by team higher up the food chain" - the player then earns a place in the team, or fails and floats away to a lower team again.
If I bought a yo yo that went up once, stayed at my finger for two years then lowered itself 5 centimetres, I'd ask for my money back.
Also, as far as improving the England team, as has been said before I think it would be much better for our selection options if more players were willing to move abroad to play for top clubs, instead of being either hovered up by the same old top six English teams (to often disappear into the reserves for years) or stagnating at lower level clubs, where they won't reach their full potential without regular European experience.
I support West Ham, and I would love to see more of our players in the England squad - but I know Roy won't pick them because , by and large, they are not quite good enough, and mostly have very limited experience of playing outside the Premier League.
Tom Rayner, WHUFC
In this morning's mailbox, we have an Everton fan who is quite rightly pleased by seeing some attacking movement and a Wigan fan giving out, banging 'the isn't Martinez great' drum and bizarrely attacking David Moyes. Who knew that Wigan fans had an issue with Moyes?
Let's take these in some semblance of order. To the Mighty Thor (genius name) yes, Martinez has improved Everton offensively already, but this was against a Norwich team who took quite a few shoeings last season and didn't have their best defender playing on Saturday. One swallow doth not a summer make and all that, but it was a positive start. You lot ain't Barcelona yet, nowt wrong with some optimism though.
As for Peter, aren't you just a little ray of sunshine. I get you hold Martinez in high regard and winning the FA Cup was indeed a huge achievement, one I give him full credit for. But remind me, where did that get Wigan? Games against Middlesbrough and Ipswich (no disrespect intended) in the Championship. Everton were a complete shambles when Moyes took charge (remember Walter Smith Everton fans?) and it is thanks to his 'mediocre' side that Martinez has anything at all to work with, and I shall look forward to Everton's defensive evolution with interest. Defensively, Wigan were atrocious over the past few years and a combination of dumb luck and some spirited performances kept Wigan up in the Premier League. Under Moyes, Everton built foundations for a successful football club. Let's see how Martinez gets on once he has to replace Fellaini with James McCarthy before we start singing his praises too loudly shall we? Why weren't Liverpool fans keen for Martinez to take over last year?
As a United fan, I'm happy with the Moyes appointment and he has started well, admittedly with some tougher tests to come. Keeping a team with hardly any (comparatively) financial resources in the top half of the Premier League is anything but mediocre, given how some teams have spent their way to the Championship and beyond. As for Man United standing still, there are two weeks of the window left, I think we will be fine but appreciate your concern. As much as Peter (and others no doubt) want to see the Empire crumble, we will have a chat in May and count up the trophies then.
Conrad Wiacek, MUFC