Wenger looks ahead to transfer window before Arsenal play Liverpool

This is a guest post by Thomas Rooney, contact me at arsespeak(at)gmail{dot}com if you’d like to write for ArseSpeak!

Arsenal have three important Premier League fixtures before the January transfer window opens, but nevertheless, Arsene Wenger has revealed that a significant signing next month is ‘feasible’. Much speculation is due to occur over the coming weeks and such comments from the Arsenal boss will surely exaggerate this.

Speaking about the possibility of a new recruit, Wenger admitted that sometimes a player coming into the club can provide the squad with some ‘extra belief’. This is something that would be more than welcome amongst the current crop of players, it has to be said.

Before any Arsenal fans become too excited about the prospect of a new signing though, it is worth mentioning that Wenger would only sign someone if someone ‘special’ becomes available. When asked whether this was likely to happen, he said that at this moment they have ‘not seen anyone’ that would fit the bill.

This is a fair policy I suppose. Why bring someone in unless they are going to significantly strengthen the squad? It could be argued that the more bodies the better, but there is no doubt that Wenger’s priorities lie in getting the most out of the current squad.

He says that he is more keen than ever to ‘develop the team we have’ because from the majority there is still ‘a lot to come’. All of this is part of a ‘policy we respect’ and this doesn’t look like changing anytime soon.

Instead of weighing up whether to buy a new player of not this weekend, Wenger will be heavily focused on the events at Ashburton Grove on Sunday. Arsenal are eight points behind league leaders Liverpool, a win is needed to keep the Gunners title challenge moving.

We have been here before though. Prior to the games against Manchester United and Chelsea earlier this season, I have sat here and wrote about how Arsenal must win to keep their title dreams alive. They went on to win both of these games, but still sit outside the top four.

This is because their response to each victory was poor. After beating Manchester United, they lost to Aston Villa in the next league game. Then after a dramatic victory at Chelsea, they won against Wigan, but stuttered again with a draw at Middlesbrough.

So, as important as the game against Liverpool is on Sunday, the one that follows it – against Aston Villa – has to be considered equally as important. Otherwise, there is no point winning at on Sunday. Imagine beating the other three ‘big four’ teams, but sitting 5th in the league. That would be so frustrating.

Remember to wear Yellow on Sunday!

By Thomas Rooney

Board changes at Arsenal

The most recent news coming from the Arsenal boardroom is that there are a few changes underway.

Lady Nina, who owns 15.9% of the club is leaving the Board, and the club, after a family association of over 50 years. She is now free from the lockdown agreement which the Board members entered into, and is free to sell her shares in the club.

As the third largest shareholder this is worrying, and it seems likely that she will sell, although whether to Board members, or to Red & White Holdings remains to be seen.

As well as Lady Nina leaving, Richard Carr who owns 4.4% will step down from Director, a position he has held for 27 years.

This is all part of the long term changes which began when Dein left the club, and new holders like Usmanov and Kronke have come in. It is not known the terms on which Lady Nina left but there are hints that there is some unrest at Board level.

As ever Hill-Wood wants to keep us stable and self-sufficient. It remains to be seen if this is possible.

Who owns Arsenal:
Directors’ collective shareholding 41.8%
Daniel Fiszman 24.1%
Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith 15.9%
Richard Carr 4.4%

Peter Hill-Wood (chairman) 0.8%
Lord Harris of Peckham 0.09%
Ken Friar 0.07%
Sir Chips Keswick 0.06%
Keith Edelman 0.04%
Others: Red & White Holdings 24%; Stan Kroenke 12.4%
Remaining shares: approximately 1,200 minor shareholders.

Table edited from the Telegraph

Gunnerblog has views and excerpts from Wenger’s recent webchat with fans here.

Also on Sunday against Liverpool wear Yellow! We want to commemorate the title winning season at Anfield 20 years ago, and REDaction has come up with this idea. Newsletters were passed out at the Wigan game, and Arsenal.com has endorsed it too, so it would be great to see a yellow stadium on Sunday.

Middlesbrough 1 – 1 Arsenal Highlights: Did you expect any better?

Middlesbrough 1 – 1 Arsenal: Adebayor 17, Aliadiere 29. Highlights here.

Arsenal came away with a point from the Riverside this afternoon after another poor display. An early Adebayor header was cancelled out after Aliadiere put in an equaliser, Tuncay picking up a deflected Clichy clearance to cross in.

Update: After pondering over the game I’ve decided I was a little harsh. We did create a lot of opportunities, but we don’t seem to have the strength to be able to get all 3 points in games like this season.

You would have thought that Arsenal having rested players during midweek would have been out of the blocks and at Middlesbrough. But although we played good passing football we yet again lacked any incsiveness or width.

Luckily we are not out of the running for the title, due to Man U and L’pool both drawing today, showing just how good the rest of the Premier League are getting.

However, our inconsistent form, mistakes, and weak squad will never win us trophies. We lack any balance in midfield at the moment, and we desparately need the return of players like Eduardo and Rosicky. Wenger needs to reinforce this team in January, and wisely.

Wenger told the BBC:

“Nobody believes in us but we can show we still believe and keep going. At the moment, my team needs encouragement more than anything.

“Today was a game we would have lost at the start of the season. But now we have a better defensive balance and we are more of a team.

“We just lacked a little bit of that extra little thing that comes with confidence but we are a young team and that is why it is important we just keep belief and keep going.”

I think Wenger has a point, we do lack confidence, the team has a lot of talent, and we are playing better than some games earlier this season, but this isn’t good enough at the moment. We played some good football at times today, but we didn’t get the result.

Arsenal have the potential, but to be winners you need results, and we need that now.

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Arsenal’s finances – an analysis

I came across this link earlier which I think is worth sharing with you.

It goes over Arsenal’s revenue streams, looking at why foreign investors might want to buy Arsenal out. There is also analysis of shareholders.

Click to read the article.

Check the link here at Arsenal Column. Or click the picture above.

Click Here For Our Recent Posts

Hleb Banned, Flamini Rumours

Alex Hleb has been charged with violent conduct by the FA. Click here.

“Hleb was involved in an incident with Reading defender Graeme Murty during the second half of the match at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday 19 April.

“Walton has informed The FA that, had he seen it at the time, he would have shown Hleb a red card for violent conduct.

We have yet to hear from Hleb about why this happened. I have seen pictures but no video, if anyone has a link to a video then post it up!

They haven’t decided how long but I guess it will be three games, which puts him out for the rest of this season. We need his creativity and the midfield is looking strenched right now with so many players unavailable!

Who do you think will fill in for him??

Diaby is another one to add to the injury list after the reserves game on Monday against West Ham. Everyone raved about the performance after Wilshere ‘ran the show’. We won 2-0 and played well.

There are reports that Juve are in the chase for Flamini. All I can say is that this is a rumour, and it really would be very shit if he left in the summer!

Wenger has said how hard it will be for him to watch the Champions League Semi’s. The performance last night would have been hard for anybody to watch it was so boring. The Boss said here:

“It will be extremely painful because it’s our biggest disappointment since I have been here. We should be through despite all that happened.

“If you are played off the park and the team is better than you, then you accept it but when you produce the two performances we produced and lose the games, it is much more difficult to take. I feel we had the potential to win the Champions League and the title this year.”

Arsene really is upset about how our season has finished. I think everyone is. We have played amazing football, and we really really really deserved to get something to show for it.

We just had such an awful run. It’s a pity really, and I think Arsene feels worse than he ever has before, I do too!

Also according to Palermo’s president we aren’t interested in Amauri. We have made one signing!

Why Arsenal Stumbled This Season

The season that started so brightly for Wenger and his young squad ultimately ended in tears. Literally in tears, shed by Gallas on the St. Andrews pitch if you take the results at face value. Unbeaten at the beginning of 2007-08, when and why did Arsenal fade away?

Firstly the goal difference of each match shows a very real drop in league form after the 26th game of the season. The run until then had been near perfect. The first major blip you see for games 10 and 11 was the 2-2 at home to Manchester United and then 1-1 with Liverpool away.

Analysis of Arsenal\'s League Results

Graphs courtesy of Arsenal Stats Centre

The first League loss at Middlesbrough actually came after a 3-1 loss in the Champions League dead rubber at Sevilla away. The Arsenal beat Aston Villa away 2-1, drew at Newcastle 1-1, before succuming to Middlesbrough 2-1 away too.

In retrospect this looks like four fatiguing away games slowly taking their toll. But the team still bounced back. Arsenal lost 1st place on Game 29. Game 30 came against Chelsea where Arsenal slipped further behind.


Arsenal\'s League Positions

A bit of nifty work on Excel highlights the point where the form turned bad. Games where Arsenal scored first are highlighed, because the pattern is fascinating.

The Point Where Arsenal\'s Season Went Wrong

Ananlysis Of The Matches Where It Went Wrong

The first bad result is in the FA Cup at Old Trafford, where a weakened side lost heavily. The Arsenal then lost top spot after drawing at Wigan, having surrendered a five point lead to United at this point.

The Champions League results against AC Milan were a bit of a blip. The players were possibly more focused on these big games than those against teams like Wigan and Middlesbrough.

After Sagna’s injury at Chelsea the team surrendered a lead and then conceded two at Bolton, and this pattern continues, as Arsenal lost their leads in the the next four games. This shows just how fragile the team was, the defence especially brittle.

At home Arsenal only drew during this period, but only scored first there in the two games at Liverpool, the rest all required equalisers.

The terrible run highlighted can be summed up in the fact that in 13 games Arsenal went out of all three major competitions. The confidence of the young squad was affected, but in some ways this was not a collapse. The results don’t show the full picture.

The problems can be simplified into four categories:

Defensive Errors

A key point in the awful form, conceding too many in the last few games. All the goals from Liverpool and Manchester United in the last four games were preventable, stemming from a lack of concentration. I suspect some of it has to do with confidence but concentration is needed.

Squad Depth

The thin squad provided little cover for wingers and few experienced defenders or strikers. Arsenal were predicted to struggle at the beginning of the season so the good form was surprising. The team performed well until the Spring, and showed potential, but it is a common for small squads to fail through the Spring. Here, fatigue showed through in the last month resulting in costly mistakes. The team requires signings of one or two key experienced players who can bolster the squad, maybe three if you count the ‘keeper.

Injuries

This follows on from the last point. Wenger lost an in form Van Persie early in the season, then Fabregas too, whilst in form. Fabregas hardly scored after the injury, and definitely suffered from a break in playing time. Rosicky was key on the wing for the large part of the season, was also injured.

The mother of them all was the horrific leg break Eduardo suffered. Undoubtedly this had a negative psychological impact, as well as ruling out a key striker, who Wenger said, “would be like a new signing”  in the new year.

In terms of defence, the team lost experienced Toure, although Senderos filled in admirably. Then Sagna was also injured, which exposed our defensive problems further whilst desperate measures were taken, playing Toure out of position.

Key decisions

More controversial is the point that key decisions went against the team. This cannot be an excuse for failure, but it does provide some context to compare to the psychological state of the side. At Birmingham, a last minute debatable penalty was given, resulting in two points dropped after a terrible game. Again, against Liverpool in the Champions League arguably Toure did not foul Babel, but a penalty was given seconds after Walcott’s run put Adebayor through for a goal to put Arsenal in front.

I am not slating the players, Wenger, or the club. Almost every player invested a huge amount of effort this season. Wenger was right at the beginning of the season when he said the team could achieve great things. They have played fantastic football regularly this year, and mounted a title challenge.

The side needs to aim as high as possible. They now sit, only four points behind Chelsea after their 1-1 with Wigan. Once the season is over Wenger needs to focus on strengthening the squad and maintaining the quality within the side. The key to success is stability in the team and in management.

There Are Some Positives? Wenger, Adebayor, Toure

Morning all,

Thursday, and I’m still really pissed off about the Liverpool result, and the way that wonder run from Walcott counted for nothing!

Clichy thought it was ridiculous..

I guess that’s just football. The reaction has been a little extreme from some fans.

There’s no way Wenger should go, and the players we have are very good, we just need a few more, that’s all.

I’ve read a lot about people calling for Wenger’s head, saying we should get rid of the team etc etc etc, what a load of crap.

Look, at the beginning of the season we were all saying that following from last year this year would probably be similar, the final phase of the ‘transition’. It’s been better than we would have hoped then, just not as good as it was looking a few weeks ago!

Lets look at it this way:

  1. The team has performed amazingly and we have been much more successful than many critics suspected.
  2. We are only 6 points behind Man Utd in the League so maybe we should push on and try and be optimistic!
  3. We know we are good enough to challenge for everything next year.

Wenger:

“We cannot lose our belief now – let’s not forget we played a very good game at Anfield. And if there is a lesson, it must be that we have to concentrate to the very end.”

Good words Arsene. We did play well, and the players know that, but I think they are probably pretty down right now.

Adebayor knows Wenger can put them on the right track:

“He has more experience than anyone here, and he knows the words to use so that we can come back on the pitch, be more successful and want it more.

Toure:

“We still have the chance for the Premier League and we will try to take it. We know it is not over – we just have to look at the next game and try to win.”

Exactly Kolo!

Injury News

Flamini is probably going to miss the Man U game after the ankle injury he picked up, but I don’t think it’s serious.

Arsenal Out Of The Champions League and Highlights

Two injust decisions cost Arsenal a place in the Semis. First Kuyt’s blatant foul on Hleb in the 1st Leg – Definitely a penalty –  not given.

In the 2nd Leg after a wonderful Arsenal goal – Arsenal had just pulled back to 3-3 on agg. (in front on away goals) Toure brushes Babel in front of the Kop, given! Liverpool go on to win the game. The highlights: click here

Match Report:

Liverpool

Hyypia 30
Torres 69
Gerrard 86 (pen)
Babel 90

5-3 agg.

4-2
(1-1)

Arsenal

Diaby 13
Adebayor 84

We started the match very well, good passing play really put Liverpool on the back foot. We had a few close chances where Liverpool managed to escape.

Diaby got his goal after 13 minutes, he took one touch on Hleb’s pass down the side of the penalty area and then placed the ball between Reina and the near post, Reina got a slight touch but it was in.

I thought then that we could do this and by all means we could have.

We then dominated the match, until the 30th minute when Liverpool got a corner, Senderos lost Hyypia who headered towards the post, over Fabregas’ head.

Liverpool back in it.

10 minutes Flamini went off after a knock to the ankle, on came Gilberto, I wasn’t thinking positivily about this! It looks worrying.

Anyway 1st half ended 1-1, Liverpool started the second half closing every ball down, not giving us any time to settle on the ball.

Then a lull in Liverpool’s play and we were attacking, a long ball forward by them was flicked on by Crouch to Torres, who turned and shot from just inside the corner of the penalty area, his shot went into the opposite top corner. Senderos shouldn’t have given him the room.

2-1 Liverpool (3-2 agg.)

Minutes later an attacking change. Theo Walcott and Robin van Persie on. Abou Diaby and Emmanuel Eboue off.

Adebayor came close later, put through by a pass by Hleb, which had slipped trough the Liverpool back line. It caught him by suprise and he sliced it wide. Horrible to watch this missed chance.

Then with just a few minutes to go Theo sets off on a wonderful run. In my head all I could hear was “its up for grabs nowwww!!” as he skipped past four Liverpool players, ran the length of the field before squaring the ball for Adebayor to slot home. Ecstasy!

Then the worst thing that could have happened did…

Within 90 seconds Toure had a penalty harshly awarded against him as Babel fell in the area.

Gerrard slots it away and I know there’s no way back, our moment of magic was over. Theo’s wonderful assist cancelled out.

We pushed forward trying for an 3rd, at a free kick we left it exposed at the back, Ryan Babel broke, held off Cesc’s challenge and put the ball past Manuel.

Game over.

It was sad to see, we had come so close, but victory was snatched away from us. Even Gerrard admitted afterwards that Liverpool were ‘passed off the park’ by Arsenal, and hinted that they were lucky to win.

If it hadn’t been for the penalty I’m so sure we would have won, but it sums up our season, defensive errors have cost us everything this year.

It was commented here on my preview about the line up, and it didn’t work for us.

  • Top marks for Walcott, Adebayor, Hleb
  • Diaby, good, Flamini, good, Clichy good.
  • Fabregas looked tired.
  • Almunia performed pretty good, went the right way for the penalty, the goals weren’t his fault.
  • Eboue proved that he can’t play in the final 3rd of the field, he is not a right winger
  • Van Persie looked lost.
  • Toure has made a few mistakes but was alright.
  • Senderos was also ok, but at fault occasionally.
  • Gilberto was variable as well, sometimes good touches, sometimes poor.

Click here for Wenger’s comments:

“I felt the game was over at 2-2. Then there was a dodgy penalty and we started to lose concentration.”

World of Arsenal is devasted too – click here..

Manchester United on Sunday at Old Trafford.

Arsenal Vs. Liverpool Champions League. Match 3 of 3

So you all must be getting a bit bored with Liverpool.

I am.

Wenger Benitez, Head to head Part III

Wenger and Benitez Head To Head Part III. Arguably the most important tie of the three too!

CL Quarter Final First Leg 1-1.

Second Leg = Anfield:

We need to win, I don’t want to hype it up too much but this is our best chance of silverware this season and Wenger knows it.

He fielded a weakened team presumably because he wanted to be fresh for this game. Although interestingly did not rest Cesc or the Flamster who really need a break.

I would like to see us go for this line up:

Almunia

Toure Gallas Senderos Clichy

Walcott Cesc Flamini Diaby

Hleb

Adebayor

UPDATE 16:04: I reckon Robin Van Persie will start, after being rested and being included in the squad, Wenger may push Hleb back to midfield instead of Diaby and put RVP upfront.

I think having 5 in midfield with Hleb pushing forward into the hole has given us some good performances in Europe and an attack-minded bench would give us extra options should we need a late goal.

I expect Arsene to go with Eboue on the right possibly though, given recent patterns.

RvP is in the squad, so will probably be on the bench.

Arsene’s Pre-Match comments here:

“We did have a dip recently. But football is strange. Defeat is not unthinkable; you have to accept you might lose. But what is important is that you believe you can win. We have the belief that we can win anywhere in the world. And if I didn’t believe we could win the Champions League, I wouldn’t be here.”

It’s good to hear that Wenger has that belief and I think we all do. We have the ability to go through to the Semis but we need to actually make it happen on the pitch and at Anfield that is easier said than done.

Lets go Gunners.

Who Else Wants To Beat Liverpool? Round Two

Today, Arsenal Vs. Liverpool 12.45pm, Ashburton Grove..

RVP won’t start due to his injury problems…

Mascherano is suspended baecause of his red card against Man U.

Gunnerslive has predicted line-ups here.

He’s hoping Walcott will start on the right ahead of Eboue and so am I because Eboue has really contributed very little this year and I think most people would agree.

Wenger Says:

“There are no problems with Adebayor.”

So that means he will start, fatigued or not, I think that’s our best option. Arsenal-mania reports here that he feels less jaded and ready to go, which is good news!

Wenger also said:

“I believe they will make changes, I am convinced of that. I am not sure whether Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres will play…I believe we can still win the title. Manchester United are an excellent team but they can still lose points… Everything is still possible but the main thing for us is to win our games.”

So optimistic from Wenger, but he knows the position, it is unlikely that we can win the League, but statistically it is still possible.

Some news on Eduardo here from Arsenal Analysis: It seems he is making a better recovery than hoped, and ‘fingers-crossed’ could be back as early as September.

Arsenal Blog thinks Flamini should put pen to paper sooner than later, I have to agree! Click here to read. Insidearsenal agrees here! with a mention of the ticket touts at Ashburton Grove hype that has built up recently in the media.

Arsenal News Review gives some stats analysis here ahead of the game. Interestingly it really proves that we outpassed Liverpool the other night, I just hope we don’t come to regret not taking our chances in the second leg.

But back to today’s game, I will be there, Block 5 Gooners.

Lets get some atmosphere going and get behind the team today!