As Gerrard and Henderson both struggle with injuries, was it a mistake for Liverpool to sell Jonjo Shelvey? Plus, thoughts on Arsenal, Everton, United and Chelsea's strikers...
They're a team full of loan players and ageing has-beens...can Roberto Martinez do better than David Moyes in the long term? Plus, more on Man United and...
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I have to say that I am genuinely staggered that there are still Arsenal fans out there as naive as young Tom Goldenballs. While being amused all through his mail about how he has swallowed wenger's guff hook line and sinker, the final sign off was a classic: (that transfer budget is only getting bigger, the next few years will be exciting ones for Arsenal fans). If the irony of that statement has escaped you Tom, a large (or growing) transfer budget will only be exciting if it is spent. You know, on players and stuff. Rather that sitting in a bank account. Or do you mean it will be exciting, because when interest rates invariably rise in the coming years, Wenger and the rest of his bean counting chums will be getting a very decent rate of interest on a very large sum. Yes, exciting for the fans indeed.
It is absurd to think that you just agree that there are no players to improve on what you have. Ridiculous! How can you possibly believe that?! You don't even have enough players! If you don't think Arsenal can find better CB's than Mertesacker and Koscielny, surely they can find someone who is a better CB than Aaron Ramsey! What's that you say? Oh, it's because of injuries, well yes, that is going to happen, was Wenger born yesterday?! There isn't a better right back out there than Carl Jenkinson? You couldn't have signed Stekelenburg or Mignolet or Julio Cesar or Begovic who are all better than your current keeper?
But maybe you're right. Why not just sit where you are, get fourth and be happy without buying anyone. Because you're guaranteed fourth aren't you. Aren't you? What?! You're not guaranteed fourth?! There surely can't be too many arsenal fans left eating their sh*t sandwich with a massive grin on their faces like young Tom are there?
AS Camden (Excited about Norwich and Aston Villa this season) MUFC
...In reply to Tom this morning, churning out how great Wenger has been for us.
Tom, he has won 3 leagues in 17 years. All the positives he has done for this club are mostly off the pitch. No one is arguing that he isn't an Economical genius, and has done great for the club. But from a managerial perspective and in terms of honours, considering he has been the manager of Arsenal FC for 17 years, his C.V should be way more impressive than it is.
He has failed drastically to deliver success on the Pitch, and that is what a Manager's job should be.
... I just read "Tom (that transfer budget is only going to get etc etc) Goldenballs reply and it smacks of typical AKB comments.
The long and the short of it, Tom, is the Wenger and Co have been using an optimistic future as currency with the fans for too long.
It is now devalued. The fans can't trade in this anymore and need action. Particularly following the end of season statements from Gazidis indicating that the time for patience is over and exciting developments are as good as here. Complaints about the market state, play valuation and so on are none of my business nor my concern. Nor should they be the concern of any other fan, Arsenal or otherwise.
It seems that a gold fish memory is required to be an AKB, wiping minds clean each summer so the repetitive rhetoric can be viewed as fresh and honest. Wenger repeatedly cites Man U's lack of summer signings, conveniently forgetting that they are the incumbent champions. A champion's performance on the weekend showed that signings will be an embellishment to an already accomplished side.
AFC, on the other hand, have a depleted squad that huffed and puffed over the line in May. And that was the third placed loser line. Our signings are a must.
Convenient lapses in mentioning supporting fact is Wenger's forte and has been adopted by AKBs. Don't preach patience when we have been so for seven or eight years. Don't complain about the market nuances when you have had ample planning time. Don't state that new signings wouldn't have influenced Saturday's game when the impact on the fans alone could have spurred Arsenal to three points.
The simple truth is that Arsene is living like North Korea, complaining about the rest of the world, isolated from reality and unwilling to fix the internal problems. Wenger Out is the only possible solution and provides the best route to progress. At a minimum a new boss will put winning back at the heart of the club's agenda, something that is clearly forgotten during all this talk of profit, stability and so on.
By the way F365, Russian mobile operators seem to treat your site as porn. Anything you need to tell us.
Alexander (Arsene Out) Tovey
Not Having A Go, But...
I liked the mail from Tom (that transfer budget is only getting bigger, the next few years will be exciting ones for Arsenal fans) Goldenballs, he has given his opinion and tried to avoid a knee jerk reaction but I have to disagree with some points.
Firstly, he says Wenger has never failed us. Arsenal is a football club who by the mid 2000's were capable of challenging the best teams in the world (mainly thanks to Wenger). 10 years on the same cannot be said. We are miles off the best teams and our trophyless spell, for me, counts as failure. Obviosly the stadium, commercial deals etc are great but they should be assets we use to challenge for trophies, otherwise what's the point??
Also he says this is "a season in which we cannot be expected to win the league because the players to push us to that level are not available". We might not be able to challenge but we can start closing the gap and can anyone argue that the signings of Higuain or Gustavo but to name two would help? These two players were clearly available given their transfers!!
And it is strange how confident you are of us qualifying for the Champions League this year. We have been getting closer to falling out of the top 4 for the last few seasons, we have a smaller squad than last year, our rivals have added quality and we already have a full injury table. Nothing is cerain about Arsenal in the top 4!!
I hope Tom doesn't think I'm having a go, because I would love nothing more than to be wrong and coast into the top four this year. I am also not a "Wenger Out". I just think we need to be realistic about our goals and where we are in relation to them at this point in time, which is nowhere close enough!!
So we've waited all summer to bid for two players Moyes knew inside out from his last club. "Haven't had long in the job" looks more that slightly foolish now doesn't it? I've mailed in before with this point, but Uniteds transfer conduct this summer has been an absolute shambles, and I strongly suspect it has more to do with Gill leaving than Ferguson. Having said that, I'm reluctant to let Moyes off the hook because these errors are ridiculous. We look like we have no idea what we are doing - what's with the penny pinching over a few million? We could have bought Fellaini with the minimum of fuss for his clause, instead waiting to bid less to save the cost of one Bebe.
At United's level, you buy a player to improve the squad, not because they represent "value for money" - look at Soldado, Cavani, Falcao, the money quoted for Bale - better players have gone for half their amounts, but it was necessary to pay it. Following the Arsenal business model is not the way Man Utd should be operating, Wenger actually sounded pathetic with those quotes the other day, it looks like Moyes won't be far behind in repeating them if this carries on. We might as well just sign promising league 2 players we can sell for a profit to championship clubs if that's our philosophy from now on...
A few observations from the opening weekend:
* Nobody quite does "fans in crisis mode" after a defeat quite like Arsenal. My Facebook news feed was awash with Gooners wailing about the end of the world, after one loss. It's ultimately very likely they'll still come fourth though, and all this hand-wringing will be laughed off at the end of the season.
* Spurs benefitted from a soft (but correct) penalty decision, while Arsenal gave away a soft (but correct) penalty. Does this mean that Spurs are now a bigger club than Arsenal?
* Had it been a) earlier in the match and b) not immediately preceding an excellent goal, would more be said about the reducer Michu put on Wayne Rooney? The live coverage on Sky showed him picking himself up unhappily, and Match of the Day showed an image framed of him apart from his jubilant teammates, but presumably it didn't fit the narrative that he couldn't run to join in the celebrations because an opponent had gone through the backs of his ankles.
* The other image of the final goal was of Welbeck and Cleverley celebrating together. Welbeck took his goals well, and tracked back, but between the two of them they conceded possession a few times. Swansea did not play badly, taking the game to Man Utd and on another day might have come away with something (oh for a left foot for Wayne Routledge for his early chance).
* Crystal Palace can claim a slight moral victory by losing by the fewest of any promoted side. They will still go down, but last season they seemingly played at their best when it seemed like the whole world was writing them off.
* The difference between Palace's weak squad and those of others who will struggle is that the Glaziers (I'm bringing it back, at the expense of the pre-match display) have a squad of players who haven't played at this level before, with obvious exceptions. Other teams have more players to have failed at this level, but perhaps this "learning curve factor" could work in Palace's favour.
* Not to be outdone by its rich cousin, the Championship threw four promotion contenders at each other this weekend. Nottingham Forest beat Bolton 3-0 (Nick Miller may have mentioned this), while Reading and Watford drew 3-3 - if the whole game was as compelling as the highlights package on the Football League Show, then it would have been a corker.
* I've missed proper football over the summer. Even if my lot lose every week, which is entirely likely, I'm glad it's back.
Ed Quoth the Raven (Glaziers taking the field to Blondie's "Heart of Glass", anyone?), CPFC, Notts
So far today there have been more stories that have followed a similar pattern: mid-table-ish club (Swansea, Everton, Newcastle) reject top-4-ish club (Arsenal, Man U) bid for one of their star players.
It was adroitly pointed out in W&L this week that the new TV deal has meant that clubs like Southampton can bring in players like Osvaldo, but I also think it means that teams like Everton can get a bid for someone like Baines and tell ManU to stick their bid someplace rather naughty.
There will always be players who want Champions League football but I think the value of being able to match wages with the big boys is quite underrated.
I don't believe it will break the top-3/top-3/top-5 hegemony, but it's encouraging that we may see a lift in quality and some clubs who are able to turn good scouting into long term success, rather than just see their best players immediately poached.
Impressed By Liverpool
A great result for Liverpool. Before Saturday we hadn't won on the opening day since 2008 and had only managed 2 league wins against Stoke in 10 attempts, so it's lovely to get two traditional banana skins out the way in one swoop and come away with 3 points. Some good football as well with both sides contributing to an entertaining game (possibly the first of its kind in a Liverpool v Stoke fixture).
I was very impressed with all of our new signings. Aspas has the right sided terrier role and the look of a cult hero in the making, so bank on him to score about eight goals a season with every one of them being vital. I was worried when it became apparent that Toure was destined for the first team, but on the basis of that one game (not a great sample size admittedly) a prospective new CB would be eyeing Agger's spot, not Kolo's. Finally, the mailbox was doing sliding doors moments a while back - those penalty heroics could prove to be a huge moment for Mignolet as he had looked shaky for most of the game but his confidence will be through the roof now.
I can't have been the only one astounded to see Stoke actually playing some football with the likes of Nzonzi and Whelan knocking it around nicely in the second half. Proof if it were needed that Pulis alone was responsible for their former 'style'. I've got a Blackburn supporting friend who raves about Mark Hughes and thinks he's just been really unlucky and badly advised since he left them. If Stoke are getting the Blackburn Hughes and not the QPR one they'll do well this season.
On some other games - Arsenal always start slow, Jedinak is an absolute beast, Southampton nailed on for a top 8 finish, both Sunday games were incredibly dull and I hope Chelsea lose the title on goal difference.
Jon Gibson LFC (penny for Suarez' thoughts at 5.50 on Saturday)
PS Give grumpy Arse fan Matt a break. Having watched Szcz, Almunia and Fabianski turn out for his gooners over recent years it's no wonder he thinks shots against = goals against.
Who Arsenal Could Have Signed
I'm not an Arsenal fan but talking about my team (Newcastle United) and the transfer window just makes me want to cry. Plus Newcastle haven't lost a game (admittedly we haven't played either) so I can't complaint.....yet
But given Arsene Wenger and the board at Arsenal made it very clear there was money to spend this summer and he has only brought in Yaya Sanogo and his purchase was more than offset by the sale of Gervinho to Roma. So the net spend would be in the plus column, typical Arsene/Arsenal most would agree.
Linked today Michu and Richards but are we talking too little, too late now?
But If I remember rightly there was a mythical figure banded around in June and July, something to the tune of £75 million was mentioned (it could well have been b*llsh*t mind). But given there appears to have been genuine bids made for both Higuian and Suarez we have to assume that cash is there (plus they have the increased spending power that selling/releasing 14 players gives you)
Without going too far into hypotheticals (IE we have no idea how much Swansea want for Michu and Williams or Everton want for Baines and Felliani) I've looked at transfers that HAVE actually happened within the Premier League and looked how Arsenal could and should have spent them coins, now I know this can't include the potential for a player/s not wanting to play for Arsenal or agreeing terms on a contract
So with my Football Manager or Fantasy Football hat on, I'm now Arsene of Arsenal and my team would have been as follows:-
GK: Simon Mignolet (Purchased from Sunderland for £9m)
RB: Bacary Sagna
CB: Laurent Koscielny
CB: Steven Caulker (Purchased from Spurs for £10m)
LB: Kieron Gibbs
CM: Gary Medel (Purchased from Sevilla for £10m)
CM: Jack Wilshere
CM: Santi Carzola
FW: Theo Walcott
FW: Roberto Solado (Purchased from Valencia for £28M)
FW: Pablo Osvaldo (Purchased from Roma for £15m)
£72m well spent I would say. And that would leave options on the bench such as Rosicky, Ramsay, The Ox, Arteta, Giroud & Podolski. Loans bids for Vydra/Bent/Remy could have been options as well and even slighty lesser players like Fer, Luna, Pieters and Downing could have all improved Arsenal's squad.
Chris (fixing problems nothing to do with me since.........this morning) Newcastle
Now that we've had 2 mailboxes of crying Arsenal fans out of the way time for a bit of focus on the big winners of the weekend. Villa. I think everyone bar us Villa fans were surprised by the win at the Emirates on Saturday. But we knew how good our team is attacking wise, especially on the counter attack. I was very confident we were going to show massive improvement this season and finish in the top half. I fully believe that is our achievable goal this season.
The progress of players like Delph and Gabby has been great to see. Gabby especially is perfectly suited to our 4-3-3 formation, not clinical enough to carry the burden of main goal scorer and with slight weaknesses with crossing and defending to make a proper winger in a 4-4-2. So his role allows him more freedom to find and run into space and use that blistering pace. While Tony Moon, how do you end up there son? Who cares nice finish. Bennett was the big weak link in our defence last season, constantly targeted by opposition teams. So it's great to have Tony Moon enjoying a strong debut. Hopefully he'll prove a solid signing.
This season is going to be enjoyable. We still have nothing resembling expectations bar staying clear of a relegation fight. While we are a dangerous team away from home due to our counter attacking, we've made a couple of good additions to the team in Tonev and Helenius who will be of importance in home games where some opponents will prove hard to break down.