25 November 2008

Saying it as it is - Gunners

I can't say it's a scenario I never imagined ever since the suspect temperamental William Gallas took the Arsenal captaincy from the departed Thierry Henry.

It's rather unbecoming of a club captain to air dirty linen in the media. Only M'sian politicians from both sides do that! Hence, Gallas had it coming for him. No doubt he has some points to be taken note, but the manner in which he went about it turns me off. It's good to see Wenger taking action & passed the armband permanently to Cesc. Now, I like many many other Gooners hope that he will beef up the squad come the next transfer window or scarily, we might lose further ground in getting back to where Arsenal belong, at the summit of the English Premier League. I am a realistic Gooner. Should the team perform badly often, we should just call them crap, despite the beautiful football. Otherwise, Arsenal is what they are, the best team in the world. w00t!!!

I attach these 2 articles from the Guardian UK & Telegraph UK respectively, which I agree largely with what's written.

Arsenal needed soldiers and got a centre-forward in pink boots
A soft-centred performance confirms Gallas was right and Bendtner's footwear feeds the stereotype

Daniel Taylor at City of Manchester Stadium
guardian.co.uk, Monday November 24 2008 00.01 GMT

"We need to be soldiers," William Gallas had volunteered in his brutally honest assessment of Arsenal's shortcomings. But what did they get here? A team lacking any form of togetherness and a centre-forward who decided this was a suitable occasion to wear pink boots. They were the brightest shade of Barbie-doll pink imaginable and, unless Nicklas Bendtner was simply being ironic, the ultimate fashion faux pas for any striker who wants to be taken seriously.

Gallas has been accused of a lot of things since the end of last week, but dishonesty cannot figure on the crime-sheet. He had complained of Arsenal becoming a soft touch, of dressing-room cliques and team-mates not being "brave enough in the battle". He has subsequently been accused of traitorous disloyalty and Arsène Wenger was so incensed he effectively suspended him. But who could possibly argue with the gist of Gallas' complaints after witnessing this dishevelled, utterly limp Arsenal performance?

Wenger did not even try, repeating the mantra that there was "nothing to discuss" in a series of post-match exchanges. "We can go on to midnight if you like," he offered at one point. "You appear to be ducking all the relevant issues," he was told, and it is difficult to think there have been too many times when he has looked so unhappy, almost grey with anger.

Leadership on the pitch can come in many different guises, of course, and does not necessarily have to involve players pumping their fists and pushing out their chests. Robinho, it could be reasonably argued, is not just a sublimely talented footballer but an inspirational leader for the way he always wants the ball and to take responsibility, no matter how many opponents are around him. It is known as competitive courage and, for any team to be successful, it is essential.

Arsenal have plenty of footballers with these qualities, just not all the time. Fulham, Hull City, Stoke City and Aston Villa have already exposed this soft centre and, on Saturday, Arsenal conformed to just about every negative stereotype that has attached itself to Wenger's team since he moved on the last of his great tacklers. As soon as the game started to go against them, the players went into a shell and collectively lost their voice, then their shape and, finally, their will.

It was as half-hearted an Arsenal performance as any in the past few years and all this, remember, against a side that had been flirting with the relegation places after one win in the previous eight games. Wenger described it as a "flattering victory" but it was nothing of the sort and Mark Hughes was entitled to be irritated. "He's being a little ungracious saying that," City's manager retorted. "I don't think it flattered us at all. We created six or seven opportunities, they created one."

Wenger hinted that Gallas would "maybe" return to the side for tomorrow's Champions League tie against Dynamo Kiev. Briefly he lifted that hard, impenetrable veneer to insist that "of course" Gallas still had a future at the club, but he would not identify which player would captain the side.

It was obvious he felt let down and betrayed but, whatever the rights and wrongs of Gallas' public criticisms, Arsenal certainly need him back judging by the defensive errors that, for example, allowed Stephen Ireland to sneak in and strike the ball confidently past Manuel Almunia for the opening goal at the end of an error-strewn, directionless first half.

Thereafter the confidence came flooding back for the home side, with Ireland, Robinho and Shaun Wright-Phillips taking turns to torment the visiting defence. Wenger, in mitigation, was missing nine senior players, but it was still shocking to see an Arsenal team capitulate so weakly to their heaviest league defeat for 20 months.

Robinho, who deserves every superlative in the football glossary, doubled the lead when he was sent running clear by Wright-Phillips and clipped a millimetre-perfect shot over Almunia, the kind of exceptionally taken goal that only a small and exclusive band of footballers are capable of. The home supporters had been berating Darius Vassell and demanding the introduction of the out-of-favour Elano inside the opening seven minutes, but the negative vibes were long gone by the time the substitute Daniel Sturridge made it 3-0 from the penalty spot.

A fatal blow to Arsenal's title hopes? Hughes certainly thought so, pointing out that "no team can expect to win the league if you have lost five or six times" - especially, he could have added, when the season still has six months to go. Naturally Wenger begged to differ, but it was depressing to see such a noble football man sound so unconvincing.

As much as they love Wenger, the sorry truth for Arsenal's followers is that Gallas seems to be the club's only employee who is willing to say it how it is.
Man of the match Robinho

The Brazilian now has eight goals in 11 league games and his goal here, Manchester City's second, was his best. "He's one of the few players in world football who get people out of their seats," said Mark Hughes

Best moment The sublime way in which he clipped his goal over the 6ft 4in Manuel Almunia - a difficult skill at any time, but particularly brilliant given that he had been running with the ball

How Gunners' crisis unfolded

Stumped by Stoke
November 1
Arsenal are unable to cope with the Potteries side's physical approach and the dreaded long throws of Rory Delap, slipping to a 1-2 defeat at the Britannia Stadium that Arsène Wenger initially concedes is well deserved. Later, however, the Arsenal manager hits out at Stoke, accusing them of deliberately trying to injure his players

Villa end the revival talk
November 15
The optimism engendered by a magnificent victory over Manchester United and a thrilling display by their youngsters in the Carling Cup win over Wigan is dampened as Martin O'Neill's team outplay Arsenal at the Emirates, winning 2-0. Villa's performance suggests they are capable of stealing a top-four place from Wenger's side

Theo blow
November 18
Theo Walcott, one of Arsenal's brightest performers this season, dislocates his shoulder while training with the England squad ahead of the friendly against Germany in Berlin. He is subsequently ruled out for three months

Gallas blows a gasket
November 20
Arsenal's captain William Gallas makes a withering public critique of his team-mates, accusing them of "not being brave enough in battle". He also makes what appear to be veiled attacks on the attitudes of Robin van Persie, Emmanuel Eboué and Samir Nasri in particular.

Leadership crisis
November 21
Wenger responds to Gallas' outburst by stripping the Frenchman of the captaincy. Gallas remains in London while his colleagues travel to the Premier League game at Manchester City

Embarrassment at Eastlands
November 22
Arsenal go down 3-0 at Manchester City and slip out of the top four. It is their heaviest league defeat since March 2007 but Wenger insists his players 'had a good focus' and claims the win flattered City.


Arsenal's new captain: Cesc Fabregas
The timing and manner of the appointment of Cesc Fabregas as Arsenal captain might have sent shock waves through the club, but his eventual elevation to the position will have surprised no one at the Emirates Stadium.

By Jeremy Wilson, telegraph.co.uk
Last Updated: 11:36PM GMT 24 Nov 2008

Just as Michael Atherton became known as FEC (Future England Captain) in his early years at Lancashire, Fabregas has carried the aura and appearance of a player who was destined for leadership long before his ultimate promotion.

“I always felt he had the qualities of a leader,” said Arsene Wenger, the Arsenal manager. “He has experience and the confidence of the rest of the team. When I played I was a captain. It's not especially linked with age. Most of the time the responsibilities make you grow, make you become more mature and you deal with the situation."

Wenger, though, is already keen to stress that the responsibility of leadership must not simply rest on the slight shoulders of his 21-year-old midfielder. "I don't believe in one man who sorts out all the problems in the dressing room," he said. "He will be one of the leaders in the team. We have to share that leadership."

There is, however, little doubt that Fabregas will relish the chance to follow in the footsteps of men such as Tony Adams, Patrick Vieira and Thierry Henry. After the recent match against Stoke he outlined his desire to captain Arsenal, and on Monday he said: "It is a great honour for me to captain one of the biggest clubs in the world.

"I know it's a big responsibility but together with my team-mates, I know we have the spirit and commitment to get back to winning ways and fulfil our potential."

For Wenger, it is a calculated gamble. He may have some concerns about placing too much pressure on one player, but knows that he must find a personality with the ability to unite the squad.

At a club who have largely built their reputation on stability, diplomacy and a tendency to deal with problems behind closed doors, Fabregas will also be regarded by the majority of supporters as a more suitable figurehead than William Gallas.

Wenger will also hope that captaincy can bring out the best in Fabregas, the footballer. After helping Spain to win the European Championship and being so influential for Arsenal last season, there has been a sense that his form has dipped during this campaign.

Fabregas is certainly confident that his performances will be lifted. In August, after a 3-1 win against Stuttgart in a friendly, he said: "I've shown that I can take that responsibility and if I was made captain, I'd give even more. I don't know where I'd get that little extra from, but I'd try to find it."

Wenger's decision to raise Fabregas' status at Arsenal will also be perceived as an attempt to ensure that he is not tempted by interest from Spanish clubs.

The entire Arsenal project rests on the vast majority of his young squad deciding to remain together and the departure of Fabregas – particularly if the club failed to quality for the Champions League – could have a devastating impact.

While there have been suspicions regarding Gallas' status in the dressing-room, few would also doubt the esteem in which Fabregas is held. "His performance over the last couple of years has been fantastic," defender Gael Clichy said. "It's a good choice from the boss and all the players will give him all the support he needs.

"When he started playing, people said Cesc was too young to have the responsibility in the team. But he's shown he's a key player in the squad and fully deserves this honour from the boss. It's all about togetherness.

"The only thing Cesc has to do is play his best football. I think Tony Adams was given the armband at 19. Now he's one of the greatest for all the fans. I hope Cesc will do the same."


My hope is that all at Arsenal FC sort out whatever that is going on there. The diehard Gooners will stick around through thick & thin, but the fence sitters & light hearted ones will leave once they get turned off with all the messy stuff.

In Arsene we trust, still.

Till later, live long & prosper.

1 comment:

  1. aiya.. kalah kalah laa.. nevermind one... Biasa already what?!