15 January 2015

Conspiracy as players mutiny against Arsène!

HERTFORDSHIRE, England—The Arsenal squad appears to be in open revolt against long-serving and long-suffering manager Arsène Wenger, apparently rebelling against a lack of signings to this point in the January transfer-window as well as in the summer window, when weaknesses in the squad were already well-known. Despite the heroic efforts of Alexis Sánchez, players are on the brink of overthrowing the manager or at least undermining him, choosing January as a month in which to suffer debilitating injuries and lengthy lay-offs due to surgery, all in a desperate attempt to force the manager to sign a player or two ready and capable to buttress the squad.

Rivals' Rundown #21: Where does Arsenal stand in the Prem?

I know that we're all abuzz at the apparent confirmation of Krystian Bielik and other rumours of a less-certain variety, but it's always worth a quick check-in and events that have already occured and what they mean for the future of our status in the Prem.
I’ve done away with the key-matches feature for the moment; it’s just too much for my pea-sized brain to keep track of what should still count as a key-match with certain clubs dropping in and out of contention. Moving forward, as the top-five picture distills itself, I’ll reintroduce it to matches against the top four or five. Again: brain=pea-sized. For now, a decent week sees us smash Stoke and overtake Spurs, while the Manchesters drop points. On to the rundown...

14 January 2015

Bony, Bielik, Benik, and bugger-all...

On one hand, Man City, already in possession of such attacking options as Sergio Agüero, Edin Džeko, Yaya Touré, David Silva, Frank Lampard, and Stevan Jovetić, look to have secured the services of Wilfried Bony for some £28m. On the other, we've loaned out Lukas Podolski and Yaya Sanogo and sold off Benik Afobe while dithering over the potential transfer of 17-year old Krystian Bielik. Ahead of our trip to the Etihad, it's hard to find a more-apt symbol of each club's differing mindsets and ambitions. City, already 11 points above us, may add one of the Prem's more-reliable scorers in a window in which it is "impossible" to make marquee signings. Arsenal, once again mired in a scrum for fourth place, hope to sign an unproven youngster for £2.5m—and we're nickel-and-diming on that.

12 January 2015

Does Arsène the Emperor wear no clothes?

Arsène still one of the best managers in football? There was a time when he unquestionably was, but even with the FA Cup ending a nine-year trophy drought, it's hard to shake the nagging feeling that this man, once one of the most innovative and transformative persons in Arsenal history, no longer cuts such a fine figure. Instead, there have been frequent periods when the shadow he casts over the club is more a pall than pedigree, and that nagging feeling seems to settle in. I've long defended the man without becoming—I hope—an AKB. However, recent news around wage bills, as opposed to transfer-fees paid, has me wondering just whether Arsène does still have what it takes to lead this club forward.

11 January 2015

Middle Earth 3-0 Mordor: setting things right again...

By rights, it should have been 3-0 inside of five minutes. But for a pair of high-class saves from Begovic inside of five minutes, Stoke would have been on the wrong side of a 2-0 scoreline. As it stands, Begovic was the only one standing between Arsenal and a proper mauling, and one well-deserved. Normally, I try to stay above the tribal fray, but I have to admit that Arnautovic's shove on Debuchy—which occured well-after the ball was out of bounds and Arnautovic himself had both feet beyond the byline. Debuchy comes away with a dislocated shoulder, and Stoke emerge with intent announced: win or lose, we are here to injure. With that in mind, a 3-0 scoreline is all the more satisfying.