Hull submit their Spit-gate accounts – what will come of it?

Phil Brown and his chums at Hull have finally submitted their accounts of the alledged Cesc Fabregas spitting incident after being given an extension for submission by the FA. This follows the disapperance abroad of all witnesses – just the one – Brian Horton.

Phil Brown was decidedly shifty when interviewed the morning after the game (read here), and didn’t seem to clearly remember all of his accusations – many of which seemed to stem from a blinding case of bitterness at Hull’s season collapsing in front of his eyes.

Since the original allegations it has become clear that Brown suffers from some sort of memory loss applying to handshakes, and post-match comments, but is a good northern lad, who calls all women ‘darling’ and has very strict dress codes.

Cesc Fabregas has vehemently denied all allegations, and has never spat at anyone in his career, contrary to claims that he spat at Michael Ballack in 2005, which was ruled by UEFA as untrue.

The ‘fake tan man’, as he is known in Hull, has commented:

“We really just want the truth to come out. If the truth comes out then we’ve got nothing to worry about.”

Good for you Phil – you don’t need to worry about any of the disrepute you have brought upon Hull City – a team who before this were high in most Arsenal fans’ estimations.

I can’t see that much will come of this, but if the FA do rule that there was no spitting incident then Hull will be left very red-faced indeed.

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Phil Brown is talking rubbish – listen to his radio interview today

The BBC interviewed Phil Brown today, and he sounded rather sheepish about the furore Hull have caused. Click here to listen to the interview. There are no witnesses to the alledged Fabregas spitting incident. He is now bringing up superfluous facts about Fabregas wearing inappropriate clothing. He can’t even remember what he said last night, he sounds very uncomfortable during the interview.

Another one of his claims, that Wenger has never shaken his hand after games this season is also clearly untrue. See the photos below for proof of Wenger shaking his hand after the 2-1 defeat in the league in September. Also click here for the Eurosport photo.

He is quoted:

“He wouldn’t shake my hand when we beat them fairly 2-1 at the Emirates, he wouldn’t shake my hand when they beat us, fairly, 3-1 at the KC Stadium.”

Arsenal.com have posted Wenger’s reaction here, you can listen to his response on the BBC today. Wenger has a perfectly reasonable explanation for not shaking hands, and the spitting allegations seem to be out of the blue totally. Fabregas vehemently denies them.

This is Brown’s post match press conference:

One word is going through my head – bull***t. This is another Sam Allardyce in the making. Phil obviously learned a lot during his time with ‘Big Sam’.

The FA have now written to Hull to ask them what exactly is going on. This all seems very strange. To be honest Phil Brown sounds like he is suffering from the pressure he is under at the moment.

I think we need to know the truth, these allegations are just Hull’s bitterness towards us for winning. Look at the evidence Phil, it just isn’t there, and you sound like a very, very sore loser.

Arsenal 2 – 1 Hull City Highlights. Bitter Brown’s spitting controversy

Arsenal 2 – 1 Hull City: Barmby 13, Van Persie 74, Gallas 84. Highlights here.

Morning all! Last night provided a satisfying win in controversial fashion. Hull’s early lead, through a lucky Barmby goal, was cancelled out by typically late Arsenal goals, from RVP and Gallas. Arshavin was the all-important factor again in this win; this was the sort of game we would have lost a few months ago.

A twisted Phil Brown had a bit of complaining afterwards which focused on three points:
1. He claims Gallas’ goal was offside, as Djourou headed it last – this is debatable.
2. He was unhappy that Wenger didn’t shake his hand
3. Most controversial of all – his assistant Horton, claims that Fabregas spat on him in the tunnel, and he is taking this to the FA.

Firstly the Gallas goal – it looked like it did come off the goalkeeper’s fist last, so Gallas probably wasn’t offside, but it may have come off Djourou. In either case it has been given, we were looking like scoring a second at some point, and luck, which we have lacked, finally came our way. So I can understand his frustration.

Wenger saw the goal afterwards on the Setanta interview and looked very awkward, the questions asked also focused on the fact he didn’t shake Brown’s hand – this was because Brown had gone off to the away fans and players at the final whistle, that is all.

The most crazy claim is the spitting accusation. Wenger told the post-match interview that this was the first he had heard of it. A very bitter Phil Brown said that Fabregas had spat at Horton:

“I was there and I witnessed it, he spat at my assistant manager down the tunnel, that’s their club captain. Hopefully he’s proud of himself. He spat at his feet.”

Fabregas has now put out an official statement on Arsenal.com.

“I categorically deny that I spat at anybody after the match. I have never done this in my whole career on the pitch, so why would I do it when I am not even playing?

“I can understand the frustration of losing a game to a dubious goal, that has happened to me many times in my career as well. But this is not the fault of me or any of the Arsenal players.”

I can believe Fabregas, I see no reason for him to spit, but we don’t know the whole story. It may be some sort of mix up, which has been misinterpreted. It would be in our best interest to get this sorted out as soon as possible. It would be very sad it if it has happened, but equally stupid if bitter Hull have fabricated this story.

Anyway a great result, with a good performance from Song yet again. I was happy with Walcott who looked dangerous at times too, even though his delivery wasn’t the best. Our best player by far was Arshavin, he created most moves, again showing his value, whilst Nasri and Bendtner showed their class, coming on in the second half and changing the game.

Nasri is looking increasingly effective in the central role late on in games, while Bendtner can drop off into the hole, and Arshavin drift in the wide left area. Our attack looks very convincing even if we were poor in the first half, I think that was down to the suprising nature of Barmby’s deflected goal. The fact that we have so many players who can switch from attack to the flanks and midfield is very exciting. We have kept the momentum up with that win, and now we need a result at Newcastle on Saturday.

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The longest goal drought in 14 years, is Champions League happening next season?

It was the same old story at Ashburton Grove yesterday, Arsenal showed sparks of their potential against Fulham, but ended with another 0-0 draw and just a point to show. I am seriously worried about qualifying for the Champions League now. With 11 games left we are 5th, Villa are 5 points ahead, with a game in hand tomorrow, that could be an 8 point gap. Not what you want this late in the day.

The team don’t seem to be able to grab the late goals we have depended on to pull us through hard games in the past. In the last few minutes this week against Fulham, and last against Sunderland we just allowed them to play the ball around, when we need to attack.

This is the worst season under Arsene Wenger, and he said on MOTD that he is concerned about Champions League qualification, he should be. We are unlucky that we have a lot of crucial players injured, but our poor form at the back end of 2008 is now catching up with us.

It seems that this team can either create goals but concede too many, or keep a tight defence but score none. The club has been through a very, very turbulent season, a glance at the line-ups this year hints at that, and Wenger is struggling to keep the boat from capsizing. I think he has managed to get us into calmer waters, the defence is not leaking goals, but the attack has dried up.

I’m just hoping we can really start our season now. I know it’s a confidence thing, if we can get some goals, get Arshavin to gel, plus Ade, Fabregas, Eddy, Rosicky and Theo all back, then we can push on and start taking points, but 4th place is still a huge challenge. I don’t want to be unrealistic, so lets just say that it can happen in if the team gels, and we start scoring goals.

I respect Wenger’s policies and I think he is having to rebuild this season after shoddy foundations (i.e. Gallas as captain) were exposed this year. We will improve and get better, but I hope that Wenger has learned serious lessons from what has gone wrong this season.

Denilson is the answer! Roma reaction and highlights

Well played Arsenal. A great performance on Tuesday, without Cesc Fabregas in the side, has shown that we still have the quality to win trophies. Denilson now looks like he can fill the Flamini shaped hole in midfield and the defence is full of confidence and beautifully miserly compared to last year.

Van Persie’s penalty (Mexes shove) was the difference against Roma, but it could have been much more as you all know. This shows just what happens when you don’t put 10 men behind the ball against Arsenal (read Nasri’s comments on this).

With a now steady defence, and RVP firing on all cylinders we can mount a challenge for honours this season. I know it is unlikely, but it is still possible, just not the league (see Cesc’s comments on the title here).

On the plus side, Eboue played very well on Tuesday, as well as Denilson who I thought was exemplary and deserves a lot of praise for the way he has developed this season. He was fouled very dirtily by Totti in the second half, I think that deserves an investigation to be honest. Have a look at the video here.

I know there will be setbacks ahead, but this shows you how well this team can play, add in the fact that we have many more attacking players to return from injury and you have a great side, we are close, but not quite there.

Arsenal 1 – 0 Roma, highlights here.

Don’t expect signings this window from Arsenal

Every Arsenal fan is expectant of transfer signings this window, Arshavin is the favourite to sign on, and we might get him, but Wenger is keeping a lid on things at the moment, just in case we can’t negotiate a price for him. He commented today:

“We are nowhere at the moment…That means we are not close to signing anybody. We know what we want to do, we are not close to signing today. We are in negotiations, yes, but we want to respect our principles.
“I am very hopeful that something can be done in a few days because we are half-way to the end. So it will be days, but if it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen.

This basically means don’t get your hopes up because Wenger will happily stick with our current squad if he can’t get the right price. Zenit have been overpricing him, in the summer Barca weren’t able to sign him, and moneybags Tottenham weren’t either, due to Zenit’s overzealous pricing regime. The fact that he is going on strike, and can buy himself out of his contract pretty soon could make the difference this time around, but don’t count on it.

“We want to concentrate on what we are doing and what we have here and how we can improve with the players we have.

“I am not a big fan of the window. I feel one of the aspects to judge a manager is to let him start with a team and let him see how far he goes with that team – or you open completely for the whole season.

“England had the right system because it was open till April and that was quite good. Now it’s cut in two and I’m not a big fan of it.

“We have a few options available, but we are no closer. But I believe we have a strong team and we want to do the maximum with the team we have.

Emphasis is on the “we are no closer” here. Negotiations for Arshavin are stalling at the moment as everyone knows, and Wenger doesn’t like the January window at all, so I wouldn’t be suprised if we don’t sign anyone. Wenger goes on to make a good point:

“We are open and don’t forget we have Rosicky, Fabregas, Walcott, all creative and offensive players who will come back at some stage, and that will be like being in the transfer market.

“Eduardo has recovered very well as well, and like a new signing. He is two to three weeks away.”

So we may see a new face at Arsenal by the 2nd of Feb, but if not we have great players returning from injury. I think if all of them come back earlier than expected then we will have a storng side, but I’m still hoping that we will find a way to sign Arshavin to add some strength to the midfield.

More likely the only new face we will see is DB10 as a coach. He got his qualifications for coaching and he has said that he won’t rule out a return to Arsenal as he ‘loves the club’.

Note: If this post makes you angry you may also enjoy this post.

Where is the Flamster now?

Mathieu Flamini’s emergence at the heart of the Arsenal midfield last season was a revelation. Previously used as a squad player, and with is contract not renewed at the beginning of 07/08 he was available on a Bosman last summer and AC Milan snapped him up.

Image courtesy of tpower1978

This dismayed many Arsenal fans, myself included, and this year, rightly or wrongly, Flamini’s absence has been blamed for some of our inconsistent results.

He did form a great partnership with Fabregas, but don’t forget we also lost Hleb, another key midfielder, to Barca, during the summer – and this has weakened our team further.

Some pundits and many Arsenal fans said he was a fool for leaving, and wouldn’t get games in an AC Milan team with the likes of Gattuso and Pirlo, and he would be playing lowly UEFA Cup  football to boot. I thought the same, and above all I was sad to see him leave Arsenal.

At AC Milan he has had ups and downs, but is starting to look like a real bargain.

Ancelotti, the manager under whom Henry had a miserable time at Juventus before joining Arsenal, is the Milan manager now, and at the beginning of the season he was looking to see if Mathieu Flamini could be pushed into a full-back role. This utility player label was the one he had tried to shake off at Arsenal, and it seemed like he was back to square one at the San Siro:

“I had also played this role a couple of times at Arsenal, but I discussed his matter with Arsene Wenger and told him my natural position is in midfield.”

Flamini has started to get more games in central midfield, after a stint where Gattuso was injured, and is becoming a regular, although he only came off the bench in the 88th minute against Roma at the weekend. He has played in 13 games this season and Milan are 3rd in Serie A, 9 points behind Mourinho’s Inter. Their UEFA Cup campaign is also going well, they face Bremen in the round of 32 in February.

So Flamini isn’t doing badly – he has put in some of his commited performances for Milan – but he has sacrificed Champions League football and a guaranteed first team place. Arsenal’s form has been inconsistent this year, we might not even finish 4th, so although I hate to say it, if Flamini can hold down a place at AC then the move might have benefitted him.

A note: Read Flamini’s stats for AC Milan this season here (i.e. games played etc.!)

Transfer Rumours: Eboue, Yaya, plus Adebayor gives Gallas his backing

Inter Milan have been linked with a bid for Emmanuel Eboue, this is a transfer rumour many of you won’t have been expecting! It seems pretty unfounded – we don’t need to sell players during this window, our squad is threadbare enough already.

The same goes for the rumour that Barca are bidding £45 million for Cesc and Van Persie this summer. Fabregas will be linked with Barcelona as long as he is at Arsenal. The club cannot realistically sell him or RVP and this is just another tactic to unsettle him. If we don’t finish 4th this season things could look rather different though.

Yaya Toure’s agent has told the press that he is going nowhere:

‘Toure is happy at Barca, currently the best team in Europe and he has no intention of moving,’

I wouldn’t disagree with him, if anything it is more likely that Man City will sign him. If Arsenal do sign a holding midfielder then I doubt he will be such a big name.

Adebayor has backed Gallas’ comments earlier this season about our form:

“Gallas has always been like that – he has experience, he has won titles, played in a World Cup final. He doesn’t throw these thoughts around lightly. He said something because it was necessary to do it. “He is indispensable to the team. He is Arsenal’s rock – his behaviour since the armband was taken off him proves that.”

Update: Gallas is now out for a few weeks with a hamstring injury, as well as Silvestre, so Toure will get his chance.

Ade went on to explain our recent form:

“At the moment, when we take the lead, we are scared. We tremble until the final whistle because the team is young and we have conceded several goals in the last few minutes of matches.

I think he is right there, but with results will come confidence. We have looked shaky after taking leads in games, and this is a problem that began last season, at the beginning of 2008 when we lost our lead at the top of the table. If we can regain our confidence we can definitely perform better in the second half of this season.

With injured players like Walcott, Eddy and maybe ??Rosicky?? returning in the next few weeks we should be able to maintain some consistency. As long as we get 4th place this season I’ll be happy, but serious investment is needed for next season.

Ahead of the Cardiff City 4th Round tie Arsenal have been allocated 4000 seats at Ninian Park.

Arsenal open talks for Zenit’s Arshavin: Transfer News

The rumours about Andrei Arshavin coming to Arsenal have been building since the summer, and yesterday Zenit St. Petersburg have confirmed speculation that they are in talks with Arsenal over a transfer for the 27 year old.

Zenit St. Petersburg want £20 mill for him, but the fact that he can buy out his contract soon may mean that we can get him for less, Arsene surely wouldn’t splash £20 mill on him though..

Arshavin – The perfect player for Arsenal’s needs

This guy is perfect for Arsenal; he can play as playmaker, on the wing or upfront.  This means he could cover for Cesc for the next 4 months and turn our injury crisis around, and then play wide right or in the hole when Cesc has recovered. He is experienced, he won the UEFA Cup last year, and is 28 in May – arguably the age when a player is at their peak.

What I’m trying to say is that he ticks all the boxes. We could utilise him anywhere in midfield or upfront, and he is world class, with experience and talent that is ready now, not in 5-10 years.

Dick Advocaat, Zenit manager said this yesterday:

“I am aware that Arsenal are interested but I don’t know any more than that”

“I am expecting Arshavin to leave Zenit for another club. He is a top player and he could play for any team and any of the top teams in England, Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea or Liverpool.”

No doubt today we will hear someone at Arsenal come out to deny the claims, so I’m trying to keep my excitement levels down, but really this would be a fantastic piece of business!

More Transfer Rumours

Upson and Laursen rumours are also circulating, as we search for a central defender.  The problems surrounding Gallas and Toure could mean there is some truth in this, but Wenger’s reluctance to buy in this position recently makes me think we might not.

At the moment we don’t have any facts, just rumours, and more rumours – but this is a transfer window, so what do you expect!?

Arsenal 1 – 0 Portsmouth Highlights. Arsenal get the points that matter.

Arsenal 1 – 0 Portsmouth: Gallas 81

Yesterday we saw Arsenal beat Portsmouth 1-0 with a decent performance. Highlights here.

We played poorly at times, but that is understandable for a squad down to the bare bones, and lacking almost all confidence.

We were lucky to escape some of Pompey’s earlier efforts, but as the game stretched during the second half our quality started to show. Ramsey and Vela came on to good effect, and 10 minutes before the final whistle we saw Gallas rise to put a Denilson free-kick beyond David James.

We lacked the creativity that Fabregas provides, and it might be more telling against better opposition, but with some January investment we can survive.

It was always the result that would matter, having so spectacuarly capitulated in the previous three games. I’m happy with the win, and hopefully we can build on the result.

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