08 August 2014

Open letter to Man City in which this Gooner admits defeat.

First off, I admit that I'll probably be preaching to the choir for the most part. This is an Arsenal site, and as such, I assume that most of the visitors will be Gooners. So it goes. However, I do compose this in earnest, hoping to wave a white flag, maybe even extend an olive branch, to our opponents in the upcoming Community Shield. It is clear that we are no match for you, on the pitch or off, and we are lucky to simply appear on the same pitch with you. Yes, we may be another Prem club, but on Sunday, we shall be as awe-struck and starry-eyed as if we were a mere Championship club, overawed at the idea of appearing at Wembley, more interested in getting a few autographs from opposing players than in nicking a trophy from them. Honest.

Ted Lasso returns!

For those unfortunate enough not to know, NBC, which started showing Prem matches in the United States this past season, ran an ad featuring actor Jason Sudeikis as a fictional coach of "the Spurs" (which you can watch here). For Amerian Gooners, it was alternately irritating and entertaining. "Why did NBC choose Spurs for its first promo?" we asked. However, seeing the stereotypical American football coach stumble through a half-day of employment as Spurs' manager (which roughly approximates a real Spurs manager's tenure, I'm told), was well worth it. I'm happy to announce, then, that Lasso has bounced back from getting sacked, this time as a commentator. I'll shut my yap now and let Ted take over:

I hope you like Turkey. It's what's we've been served. Again.

Apparently not content at our demolition of Fenerbahçe in last season's Champions League playoff, UEFA has pitted us against Turkish side Beşiktaş, who finished third in the Supr Lig and defeated Feyenoord 3-1 (5-2 aggregate) on new signing Demba Ba's hat-trick. So we're off to Istanbul for the first leg on 19 August and home for the second leg on 27 August, with a trip to Goodison Park sandwiched in as well on 23 August. It's not the toughest draw we could have gotten (which might have been Lille or Atletic Bilbao, but we should be wary all the same. Just who is Beşiktaş, anyway?

It looks like Vermaelen is off to Barça. £10m? Works for me.

Official confirmation is still in the offing, but a saga that has dragged on since the middle of last season looks to be entering its final chapter as Thomas Vermaelen looks ready to finalize a move to Barcelona, continuing a trend of Gunners leaving for the sunnier climes of Spain. There was a time when such moves would lead us to gnash teeth and rend garments, but this move feels quite a bit different. At the risk of slighting Vermaelen, the Camp Nou Express is no longer carrying coveted players but settling for second-choicers. Some may quibble with the reported transfer-fee, but I'd much prefer selling Vermaelen out of the Prem than to a rival like Man U. He may not be quite good enough to crack our starting XI, but if Barça need him, so be it.

07 August 2014

Alexis, Chambers, Debuchy and the decline of "positions"

Caught up in the hype and optimism of new signings and the suggestion of new signings to come, we've asked certain, specific questions: is Alexis a striker? Will Chambers become a right-back, centre-back, or defensive midfielder? Should we pursue a box-to-box sort of DM or more of a holding midfielder? These questions come together to beg one larger question, one whose answers might inspire or terrify, depending on where you stand on things. That larger question: could Arsenal play without defined positions? Before you laugh it off, think about it. In the current squad, we have a fair few players flexible enough in their skill-sets and preferred roles that naming or assigning them a position becomes difficult, if not impossible.

Does the Community Shield matter? Against Man City, yes. Yes, it does.

Sure, the Community Shield doesn't offer the same thrill or prestige of winning the Prem, FA Cup, or league cup, but there's something in it this year that makes the clahs a bit ediger than it might otherwise feel, at least to Gooners. The Shield itself may not signify much, but beating Man City, even in a glorified friendly, is not something to gloss over lightly. For Citeh, indeed, the nouveau riche who have gorged on a orgy of trophies in the last few years might pretend to sneer at the Community Shield, seeing it as just another bauble to be tossed atop the heap and forgotten. This is not to suggest that Gooners, by contrast, lust desperately after it; instead; besting the most-avaricious club in the Prem if not the world is probably the actual trophy we seek.

06 August 2014

We're in for Nastasić, are we? Hmm...

Well, it's not the wildest of rumors, but reports from Italty's tuttosport and England's El Metro suggest that we will make a move for Man City's centre-back, Matija Nastasic. The 21-year old Serb would make for a more-than-capable upgrade on our Thomas Vermaelen (sorry, Tommy) and was good enough to replace Joleon Lescott as a first-choice CB and being named Citeh's Young Player of the Year in 2013. As unlikely as they are to sell him to a league-rival, Citeh have picked up another centre-back, paying out £32m for Porto's Eliaquim Mangala, giving them six CBs in the squad (seven if we count Sagna), and they might be willing to move Nastasic. Would we be willing to pay £15m for him? He's Prem-tested centre-back, something we may have only two of if Vermaelen completes a move to Barcelona (or, yes, Man U).

05 August 2014

Alexis' Song rings out at The Emirates, but which one?

He's only played about ninety minutes across two friendlies. He hasn't scored a single goal. However, already, he has two songs, one a traditional, fan-created one that plays on his last name; the other, a revamped pop-song whose lyrics spin off of his first name. Which should it be? I've already taken to referring to Alexis as, well, Alexis. It's the name he's chosen for the back of his jersey, after all. However, I like my cheek, and I like my bants. It's hard to ignore the traditional route. The "last-name" chant carries with it a nice bit of history specific to the signing of Sanchez that's worth considering.

Michael Owen opens mouth, spews nonsense...

There's no shortage of pundits or journos willing to hold forth on the topic of the day, whether it be something pertinent or something of their own conjurings. Here we are, together, after all, are we not? However, there's a gulf of sorts between those who are paid rather handsomely to blather on and those who are paid little if anything, if not in wages than in insights. With that in mind, I bring to you one Michael Owen, famous if for nothing else than in once helping Liverpool finish behind Arsenal. Good on him for that. Since then, however, he's coasted somewhat on his laurels, weighing in (mostly in favor of Liverpool, where he plied his trade most successfully) on the issues of the day. Most recently, he deigned to share his opinion of Arsenal's transfer-dealings. Spoiler-alert: he's not impressed.

04 August 2014

Khedira, Carvalho, some other guy, and Wenger's Law; is there one more signing in the offing?

After what amounts to a mad-cap July, one in which we added Alexis, Debuchy, Ospina, and Chambers, brought Joel Campbell in,  sold Eisfeld, saw Sagna leave, and loaned Jenkinson out (among others), things seem to have settled down a bit. The arrival of actual football may have interrupted things, but that doesn't have to mean that Arsène has put away his chequebook. Yaya Sanogo's performance against Benfica doesn't prove that we are set at striker, but it may have convinced Arsène that we are. However, rumors continue to circle around us signing a defensive midfielder, with Sami Khedira and William Carvalho the most-often mentioned. However, something tells me we'll see someone else entirely. Who? Can't say. Perhaps Le Prof will pounce on this powerful player soon...

03 August 2014

Arsenal 0-1 Monaco: Again with the set-pieces...

Feh. Why do we bother hosting this thing? I mean, if we can't win our own tournament, what's the point, really? Despite winning the first match resoundingly, we finish second after failing to score a single goal in the "final", allowing Valencia, the putative whipping-boys of the field, to win it. Oh well. Just as Saturday's result proved conclusively that Yaya Sanogo has become the best striker in Europe as well as in Arsenal history, Sunday's result proves resoundingly that Arsenal is doomed in 2014-15 and for a decade or more beyond to boot. I'm sure Arsène is encouraging the lads to update their curricula vitae (that's French for resumé...), the better to prepare them for careers beyond football. Except for Sanogo, of course. He's still gold.

Nuts to Costa, Suarez, or Messi. We have Yaya.

Pick up the prayer-books. The fat lady has sung. The case closed. We can put this one to bed. And so on. In little more than 24 minutees, Yaya Sanogo has put to an emphatic end any debate over who will be the Prem's top striker. Heck, at the rate he's set, he'll be Europe's top striker. There is simply no way to overstate or exaggerate the lad's quality or potential after that display against Benfica; plain and simple, the only conclusion to be drawn is that it proves once and for all that our striker-needs have been filled, and the only real question is how many league goals will Sanogo get. Thirty seems modest. Forty feels a minimum. Fifty? Perhaps more of a dare.