Yes, we can still win the league + who I’d like to see Arsenal sign in January

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Hello and welcome to my first (proper) post of 2009. I hope you had a lovely Christmas and New Year and are geared up for the challenges that lie ahead this year.

As I write to you today I’m sitting on my new work chair at my new work desk that I got from Ikea, working from my new MacBook which I picked up just before Christmas. On one of the walls in my room hangs my new Arsenal calendar (cheers to my brother for that) and I’m currently nursing a ice cold Tiger beer. Needless to say, I feel bloody good.

I must apologise again for the lack of posting over the holiday period. I had intended to keep things running pretty much as they were but a whole host of functions, events and various other obligations meant that this was virtually impossible. As it turned out, I feel completely refreshed and revived and am excited to get this blog going again in 2009.

With regards to the football, there has been plenty going on since I last spoke to you on the eve of the Portsmouth game. On the pitch the boys recovered well from surrendering a two-goal lead at Villa to beat both Pompey (1-0) in the league and Plymouth Argyle (3-1) in the FA Cup. William Gallas was the hero with the only goal against Portsmouth while Robin van Persie repaid the manager’s decision to hand him the captain’s armband in Cesc Fabregas and Manuel Almunia’s absence with a two-goal performance.

Interesting points to take out of the games was the passion shown by Gallas when bagging the winner against Portsmouth, the outstanding performances by Samir Nasri when pushed central in both games and the decision by Arsene Wenger to give Abou Diaby a start as the side’s defensive midfielder alongside Aaron Ramsey against Plymouth.

As I missed both games I’ve had to rely on a lot of feedback from commenters on the blog. The general feeling I get from readers is that although the performances haven’t been perfect it’s been nice to get back to winning games and it’s a sentiment that I tend to agree with. With the injuries to Fabregas, Alex Song, Denilson, Theo Walcott and Tomas Rosicky at the moment our midfield has been particularly stretched and to get two wins since the draw with Villa has been an excellent outcome.

The hope is that the lack of numbers in the midfield will see Arsene Wenger plump for a new player or two in the transfer window and despite reports about the club not having too much money to spend, I think he would be crazy not to buy. With Fabregas gone for practically the rest of the season we desperately need a creative midfielder in the mould of Andrei Arshavin or Mikel Arteta, two players that Arsenal have been linked to since the transfer window opened. Whether it is one of those two who comes in, I don’t know, but the manager would be taking a huge risk to carry on this season without reinforcements.

The other big story involving Arsenal to break since the opening of the window has been about Kolo Toure’s request for a transfer. Wenger has since confirmed the reports about Toure’s request but also insisted that he withdrew it after discussions with club management.

Regardless of the exact truth, it’s appears that Toure is unhappy with consistently being left out of the side. My personal opinion is that although I feel that the best centre-back pairing at the club is William Gallas and Johan Djourou I would hate to see Toure go. He’s not in the best form right now but he is one of the players in the squad who is genuinely Arsenal through and through and although losing him might not directly impact on the performances on the pitch it would be a sentimental blow for both the squad and the supporters.

The other topic of interest has been the loaning of a number of young Arsenal players to other Premier League and Championship sides. Abu Ogogo went to Barnet back in November while more recently Gavin Hoyte and Jay Simpson have gone on loan to Watford and West Brom respectively. As the only player to move to another top-flight team, I think a lot of supporters will be watching Simpson’s progress with great interest. It’s a great opportunity for him and hopefully he can start with a game and a goal against Villa in the next week.

While I haven’t been posting I have been reading all of the comments posted of lately and have noticed a couple of questions directed at me popping up consistently. Those questions are ‘Can we still win the league?’ and ‘Who would you like to see signed in the transfer window?’ and just before I go I’d like to answer both of them.

To the first the simple answer is ‘yes’. I’m a relatively optimistic supporter and although we’re 10 points off the pace I just feel the right signing or two and a bit of luck with injuries combined with a very generous set of fixtures over the next three months makes Arsenal something of a dark horse. With the performances that we have given in the first half of the season we should be miles of the pace and that gives me great hope. What I will say here is that Liverpool do not have the quality to win the league while Manchester United are looking best placed to snatch it. Throw in Arsenal and Chelsea and it’s set to be a very interesting second half of the season.

As for the question about signings I would like two. The first is an attacking midfielder to sit in for Fabregas – someone like Arshavin would be perfect – and the second is a defensive midfielder. My preference for Arshavin comes because of his ability to play both as an attacking midfielder and second striker and the arrogance and confidence he seems to possess in front of goal. He’s a quality player and there isn’t really anyone better around that is available just at the moment.

As for the defensive midfielder my preference would be someone in the mould of Barcelona’s Yaya Toure. I don’t think we specifically need him but an energetic, strong central midfielder who can tackle and distribute would certainly provide stability for our defence. Personally I think Song is doing quite well there at the moment but there are definitely better options that him available in world football at the moment.

And that’s it really. It’s good to be back and I hope you’ve enjoyed a positive start to 2009. Speak to you tomorrow on the blog.

Have your say on Arsenal’s festive period, the transfer window or anything else by leaving a comment.


49 thoughts on “Yes, we can still win the league + who I’d like to see Arsenal sign in January

  1. Pple, nice to have SF on board posting fresh gist in 2009. I will really be happy if our cry for ARSHAVIN eventually scales thru. he will definately better our squad.My plea now is for the Manager to bring in whoever he has signed to blend quickly with the team rather than wait for last day of window b4 announcing name(s). we are too anxious @ the moment.

  2. Couldnt agree with you more… The key is for us to make the signings during this period. I think Arshavin is a MUST and a solid DMF like you describes would complete the squad. Of all the people linked I want Gokhan Inler from Udinese. I do feel like we could use a CB or even Given but that is getting a bit fantasy football like and will never happen. If Wenger brings in Arshavin and Inler for somewhere around 25 million I would be EXTREMELY happy. Hell I would go so far as to say that I would be confident that we will compete for the league. This squad has made immense strides after the near collapse with Gallas. Those 2 additions and I dont see any team being better then us. Not to mention we would be able to challenge in the Champions League as well…

  3. @ MoMONEY – I really don’t know much about Inler but if he fits the type of player that we need then I’d love to have him come in. It’s just a shame these sort of players weren’t signed at the start of the season.

  4. I Don’t think we are going to get Arshavan too expensive both in fee and wages. How about a Right-sided England International who has pace good ball skills is great at crosses and free-kicks also scores some spectacular goals? I’m talking about David B. No not the old has-been but David Bentley! He’s not doing much where he is at the moment, knows the Premiership, knows Arsenal and would be a bargain at around £10 million.

  5. Johno is actually Bently in disguise and after his big mouth spoke how spuds will replace gunners in top 4 he’s now begging to come back and play championship football…sorry bentlyboy u don’t have the class needed at arsenal …cunts go to suntherland or bolton to find competition.

  6. I think Villa have used their Nine Lives already. They are everyone’s flavor of the month at the moment, but I think it is a little over the top and over-hyped in the press and among the pundits. They had better put much more cushion between themselves and the other contenders for the last Champions League qualifying slot, because, frankly, I believe their massively good fortune this season will turn at some point. The last second goals will turn against them. The ref’s decisions have gone their way this season and I sense a few to go against them at some point that will decide matches. An injury to a few of their starters and it could all go pear shaped as they are paper-thin. They also seem to leak goals and this with one of the best keepers in the league running the back. The press and pundits lauded their point against Arsenal at home, but none of them noted it was against what was close to a reserve side for Arsenal. They were gifted an own goal v Hull, and Hull fully deserved a point in that match, but all you read and hear is how wonderful Villa are. This is the over-hyped review at the moment. The press and pundits ride the wave and build you up only to take an unnatural glee in tearing you down later. Villa beware. Arsenal are nowhere near full strength yet and you still have no distance –

  7. i love having nasri and an in-form rvp together. rvp has as much natural talent as any player in the world. he hadn’t started the season that well by as they say form is temporary, class is permanent. it was only a matter of time before he found the form (and then some) which got him described as an early bergkamp. the fact is an on-form rvp is totally unplayable and i’m so fucking glad over the past month or so he’s started to refind that killer sharpness that makes him such a truly special player.

    if nasri can either somehow playwith cesc (sadly i don’t see it working out) or if he can keep improving on the wing i feel there is a potentially unplayable group of players emerging. rvp, nasri and cesc have the potential to be quite unstoppable in the same way henry,bergkamp and pires were. if nasri will keep getting forwards cesc doesn’t need to score because he can put them on a plate for rvp and nasri. and that’s ignoring our horribly out of form but potentially great ade, our returning eddie, our up and coming vela and wilshere. if we can sort out dm and get in a defense coach we can have a fantastic team overnight, literally.

  8. Hmmm no Inler? I wonder what changed Wenger’s mind? I doubt he turned on him as a player so I wuld think this may mean that he isnt looking for a DMF during this window… I hope Im wrong but thats the message I get from that…

  9. It’s been a hard year for Gooners. From potentially winning the League with a team that no-one rated outside the Emirates, to where we are now.

    Even harder for most of us is the fact Gallas is still around.

    Player-wise last year we should have had the best defence in the world – Sagna and Clichy were the best fullback partnership by far in the PL and Toure and Gallas on paper were two of the best defenders in the world. Yet together they could not defend.

    Instead look at how Man U won the league – Rooney, Tevez and Ronaldo scoring whilst Rio (who no matter what the papers say isn’t world class) working incredibly well with Vidic. Wenger saw this at the end of last year and yet brought in no-one but Sylvester – third choice at Man U. Did he try and buy others? Certaily if the rumours we hear are true.

    In reality Gallarse has cost us points against (amongst others) Hull, Fulham, Stoke and probably the title against Man U last season. Add to this he mouths off and provides poor leadership and this does mean he is not fit to play for Arsenal.

    FFS Get Senderos back and play him with Djourou if no-one else is available. At least he tries and tends to have his worst moments against the obviously leaving Drogba.

    There is a culture of laziness at the moment. Send Song and Diaby (both of whom AW has extolled massive amounts of loyalty in return for very little) on loan to a Champions league side. If they can adapt to that and not assume that other teams will capitulate to us then they may stand a chance.

    Buy Flamini back. If he costs us £20m it would be the best signing we could make. He would provide energy, dynamism and grit – all three of which have been lacking at the Emirates. When we have our players fit we have an overload of creativity.

    How to make the most of this? Play 4-1-4-1. A decent back four with a screening player meaning the fullbacks can get forward, giving the ability for Van Persie, Diaby (if he is still about), the ever broken Rosicky, Eduardo, Walcott, Denilson, Ramsey, Fabregas, Wilshere, Adebayor, Vela, Nasri et al to get forward and still have cover. Even Bendtner could do well off of them.

    Perhaps a year outside the Champions League would do us good, the problem is though if we qualify with the team as it is AW may well see it as justification of his policies and we go into 2009/2010 with no new additions.

    Make no bones about it. Arsenal are in crisis. But it is a crisis we have made for ourselves. We have been spoilt by our success.

  10. “As for the defensive midfielder my preference would be someone in the mould of Barcelona’s Yaya Toure. I don’t think we specifically need him but an energetic, strong central midfielder who can tackle and distribute would certainly provide stability for our defence”

    What, like his brother? Seriously, why not kill 2 birds with one stone and play kolo in DM role?

  11. Kolo has played DM for us before. I think that’s a great suggestion.

    As SF says, the guy is passionate about Arsenal and we cannot afford to lose him. So yeah, play him in front of the defence. He loves bursting forward from deep anyway.

    I still don’t see us spending big in the window so refuse to get excited about Arshavin or Arteta. The problem with Jan is that prices are inflated. We should all know by now that Mr. Wenger and high prices do not mix.

    My hopes for the first six months of 2009 are Champions League qualification (I don’t agree that we need a ‘scare’ – many of our players would not be interested in playing in the UEFA cup). Before that though, I would like to see a good run in the cups – reaching at least the semi finals of the Champ league and FA cup to show we are still a top European club.

    Finally, I would like to see Vela given the chance he deserves.

    Happy New Year to all.

  12. cheer up! i thik what arsenal needs at the moment is the right spirit, improve their midfield and defence then get back to winning and yes we can and will still win the league!

  13. wait for it: “Language barrier may slam shut and force Hleb out of Spain at the end of the season” Former Arsenal star Alexander Hleb has admitted to being unsettled in Spain, hinting that he may want to leave Barcelona at the end of the season. The 27-year-old Belarus international says he is not getting enough first team action, and revealed he is at odds with his manager over failing to learn Spanish more quickly. ‘Of course I would like to play more. But you should ask the manager why I’m not in the starting line-up most of the time,’ he said to the media in his native Belarus. ‘All I can do is to work hard and prove that I deserve it. Let’s wait until the end of the season.’ According to Hleb Barcelona boss Josep Guardiola has not said he is unhappy with Hleb’s performances on the field. ‘All he says is that I should start speaking the language as soon as possible,’ said the player.” This article was in the dialy mail.

  14. Just because Wenger said he doesn’t want Inler doesn’t mean thats 100% true. At one point in the summer he said Arshavin was too small for the PL. I think he likes to play down players he likes to keep off competition for them by other teams. Inler wont be Cesc tho, he’d be more of a Flamini style player. I think Wenger wants a more creative player to replace Cesc at the moment.

  15. After watching the Youtube compilation of Arshavin yesterday I realized that he is not comming to arsenal unless he costs less than 8 mill. We already have a player who can do that and then some in Rosicky. Let’s hope he gets back to kicking the damn ball again. He has been injured for so long people have forgotten about him. What Rosicky could do in the EPL, if transformed to the Russian league(no offense) it would be something to behold. For that price I will play Wilshere. He can dribble, go at defenders and shoot. And he can run too with some of the best through passes I have seen.

  16. I think Arshavin is number 1 on Wenger’s list. There probably will be another unknown, but i really hope Veloso is on the same list aswel. Ive been watching him play for a few months now and he impresses me everytime. He reminds me of Flamini (almost same height, weight and posture). Great tackler, great distributor, he is a perfect player IMO. So my wishlist for this term is Arshavin/Arteta and Veloso.

  17. Do you think we will lose Theo Walcott because he wants a contract and we are not offering him one.

  18. @ jay-jay
    N.O.P.E! Not gonna happen. Sell a player like Theo? For just £400k? Hehehe, thats really funny.

  19. I suppose every arsenal supporter wants Arshavin watch video to know about it
    He is a top offensive midfielder. Our current side still is an handful but we lack goals from midfield. Like in midfield we miss an player like Robert Pires. He was one of my favorite and still now he is. We hope we land arshavin. We need one more midfield although as CDM. I trust AW to buy a CDM for his team. But if we can buy I think we should go for Marcos Senna. If he wants to leave. He will come to arsenal with a reasonable price. We know he said NO to M’City. But it will be difficult for him to say now to us. He is a Class apart in is position. I am sure his experience will also allow our young player to develop better. I Hope we get them

  20. Going on about Kolo. I think realistically Arsene will only sign Arshavin this time. No one else.
    In line with that I’d very much like to see him allow Toure a chance at DM.
    We all know that when he first arrived here he played in a DM role but under pressure from Arsene he accepted to be Centre Back and that was that.
    But I feel very strongly that he would make an even better DM for us. Forget Song.
    Kolo can dribble, pass very well(an
    example is his over the top pass for RvP to score against Derby in last season’s 6-2 win), and he can tackle like nobody’s business. He is fairly good in the air also so he can win more aerial balls in midfield. And he can shoot. Fiercely. Someone get Arsene to read this because I think this can solve a lot.
    Forget even Yaya Toure. Give Kolo a
    chance. Please.
    We all know Diaby cannot defend and
    Song cannot attack. So sign Arshavin and give Kolo a chance.

  21. @ Chwaki
    If we dont get any DM then im happy with Song, not Kolo. Song just has to work on his passing, if he improves on that, then he will be a great player.

  22. Why are we so bothered about AV? We are getting to that position where we are punching below our weight. I said it at the beginning of our loss to these small clubs that the awe of big teams that was had for Arsenal will be gone!!! That is the plain reason why we are struggling. I do not want to be heart broken, so I will await whoever AW wants to buy. Like we say in 9ja, “I no send”!!!!

  23. @Gibbs
    Song gives away possession far too frequently to trust him anywhere on the field. How can you possibly want him anywhere near the back. Our center back pairings need as much help as possible and putting song in front of them just makes them struggle more. I think he may have ‘it’ eventually but he needs a lot of work. Song is one player who, if AW plans on keeping him around, could really use a loan spell for more game experience.

  24. Welcome back SF! Arsenal CAN NOT let King Kolo leave the side. He is as we Americans like to call “the inspirational leader” of Arsenal. If Ya Ya would leave Barca that would be nice…hell at this point if Henry left Barca that would be nice…but Eduardo is coming back soon. Arsenal got hit with injuries hard…we DO need help but not at the expense of the future of the side. I want silverware but not if it means spending money/losing players in a foolish manner.


  25. @ John
    I did say that Song needs to work on his passing, he has to improve on that. But on the up side, he does win a lot of tackles and provides enough cover for the defense.

  26. Spanish – good to have you back. After all my Bendtner moaning I just wanted to say I was pleased to see him put in a genuine effort against Plymouth. Nice to see him run. Good on ya Nicky!

  27. Happy New Year to you Spanish Fry and all you gooners.I am undecided about Arshavin. I think there is positives and negatives the main one being i couldnt see the club meeting a valuation above 14-16 million. As for the rest of the team I really feel that this crisis can be deat with internally. It seems that ironically in a season when we can call upon more players in different postions we have have been less consistent in comparison to last year when our options were severely limited. Maybe that is the crux of the matter is we have not been able to field the same team in any match which is essential for building partnerships in all areas of the pitch and confidence. Not new players!!!!

    I think creativity will not disappear in the team just because Cesc is not there Denilson, Nasri, and Diaby, Ramsey, Wislhere are all capable of making telling contributions and finding players with Killer balls. In fact in the past few games Nasri’s vision has been awesome. Also I think pushing Nasri into the centre towards the end of the game and putting Vela on the wings as an impact player in the last quarter will also increase our cutting edge. Why do we need Arshavin when we have got Nasri?

    We need to be patient!The signs are encouraging following the last 2 wins.

    Also we all seem to forget that Flamini and Hleb who all bloggers keep banging on about had 3 seasons to acclimatise to the pace of the game supported by confident senior players before their one wonder season. So why is every one getting onto Denilson and Songs back who have been thrust into a high pressure role of a depleted midfield without any settling in period and who were being badly let down by the senior players who they looked up to for guidance. Song especially looks deceptvely akward and laboured in his movements giving the impression of looking clumsy and lazy which makes everyone think he is uselles but boy this boy grafts.Cesc and Nasri have been giving the ball away just as much. Confidence is lacking here. We are getting better and the form of RVP (world class by the way) is impressive. Wengers faith in the young guns wil be paid very soon!Keep the faith!

  28. @ Gooner4Life

    I agree about Song. I don’t know why some of you like Bendtner but not Song. Song is brilliant in tackles, a bit slow and not the best passer, but he makes up for those flaws with his tackling. But i agree with Gibbs that i hope Veloso is on Wenger’s list because the team needs depth. And i agree with people that say we don’t need Arshavin. I still don’t see him being very good. He had one good season, and a good Euro Cup, but before that no one really heard of Arshavin because he wasn’t doing much before that. He’s a one season wonder in my opinion and would be a shame to waste 20m on him. Arteta would be a better signing if Wenger could pull it off.

  29. Reading Carry’s comment about Hleb I had to chuckle to myself. How often do these players leave Arsenal (the home of real football) and struggle in the new club they’ve gone to? The greedy, ungrateful f*cks become stars with us then piss off with a bag of cash thinking they’re El Supremo – only to sink slowly into oblivion. Hleb, Flamini, Bentley, Reyes, Wiltord. Pires even. And others. Instead of sticking with The Gunners where they were appreciated they’re now whinging about their new managers not giving them a chance etc.
    I wouldn’t want any of them back. Particularly not Bentley who, apart from behaving despicably both to Arsenal and then in-turn to the club he left us for, Blackburn, is completely wrong for the type of player we are looking for now.

    I agree with Ice Baba that Arsene needs to get someone in as soon as possible. As happy as I am with out latest wins they’ve been against weak teams. We’re still struggling and need those reinforcements badly or we’re gonna end up like those guys in ‘A Bridge Too far’!
    I like to think that a couple of talented new players in will put a positive current through the whole squad.

    Happy New Year Spanish – good to have you back – and to all Gooners. We support the World’s Greatest FOOTBALL team.

  30. Do you guys know we had YaYa on trial. i saw him play at barnet when he was on trial. shoulda got him then. thats one of the few mistakes that AW has made, letting toure go that is. also when we have tried to sign him prevously, his brother has treid to influence him, but with Kolo’s state, thats an advantage that we’ve lost.

  31. Pple, my thinking is glued to the arrival of Arshavin to the squad.Wenger said: “I feel that if we do add somebody, we add somebody who has a special class.

    “And I would like to think longer term than just whether that player is eligible for the Champions League this season.”
    Should this happen and 1 world class inclision, PL and FA Cup is a must for us.

  32. Pple, 4 me @ the moment the only “special class” I can name now to the squad is ASHAVIN, based on the fact that FAB4 is out for weeks and the arrow points directly @ him based on the gist making the round “He is the only cup tie player that fits our style of play”

  33. i dont know how you think arsenal have a chance of winning the PL. They just wont and cannot dont it. There team is average at best. Lack experience. And Consistance.

    I bet you regret losing L Diarra. Watched him play for real on the weekend. He was fantastic. Would have really done well for arsenal this season. Only have wenger to blame for not sealing Flamini and not promising LD match time. And then not replacing either of them. Big big big error from the manager.

    Also got to see a bit of Pires play. Hes experience is just what arsenal need. If you have watched the last 2 games that united have won 1-0, you realise how important the experience of players like scholes, g neville, giggs are for those types of tough games. It really shone through.

    I think arsenal should concentrate on the fa cup

  34. So I posted on a Milan blog about Flamini and how he is doing and the responses ranged from he hasn’t shown anything even though he got the chance with Gattuso hurt, to he is one of the 5 worst signings in Milan’s history… If he is truly this out of favor in Italy why not bring him back? I feel like there would have been more talk of this in the media but bringing him back this January would be IMMENSE IMO.

    Arshavin + Flamini = success

    Hope Im not being way too optimistic

  35. I don’t get people dismissing Arshivin. He would be the perfect replacement for Hleb with the happy addition of an unreal shooting ability. It seems some people haven’t noticed that our midfield is NOT creative this season. When I watch I see a lot of standing around and very few actual shots on goal. Nasri looks better in the middle, but until we see him start a game there and not just come on when we are in full counter-attacking mode, it’s hard to judge how good he is.

    Marco Senna would also be fantastic but absolutely will not happen. He is too expensive and he already plays for an excellent team and is well integrated there. I think he was on the Arsenal radar after his excellent game against us in the champion’s league semi-final three year ago and might have been affordable then. But now? No way.

    Finally, it would be nice to get someone (finally) who can score from free kicks. Right now it is RVP (who has yet to do it this year), then … nobody. Those kinds of goals can change tight games.

  36. my concern is rather players who are not arsenal material.the likes of easily fatigued Eboue,slow legged Gallas,adrenalised Djourou. anyway forget Arshavin, our inferiority complex when it comes to money cant let us have him

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