O Mergulho

Posted in Random Posts with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on August 28, 2009 by shava23

Eduardo da Diver

It just never goes away, doesn’t it? Three days on since “O Mergulho”, or “The Dive” as it would be called back in Eduardo’s native Rio, UEFA have charged our war criminal for “deceiving the referee.” A decision will be reached on Monday, perhaps resulting in a two-match ban for Dudu.

I cannot condone what was done, it really was dreadful. Boruc never made contact with Dudu’s right leg and yes, Dudu deceived the referee with a theatrical performance which would have made seasoned specialists of the “dying swan impression” proud of him. I can sympathise with Celtic and their calls for “justice,” but it is also hopelessly hypocritical in a sense. A fair share of Scottish footballers have dived, yet none of them receives the amount of attention and reprimands Eduardo does get. Rooney and Gerrard, perhaps English football’s two best players, seem to fly every game, but it’s always brushed away with the “he’s let himself down there” line. It seems as if foreigners are the only ones who dive, and judging by such hideous examples as Drogba, Ronaldo and Eboue, I can understand such a perception. But then how come Eduardo, loved by all fans in this country since the horror fracture, has suddenly gone from hero to zero in the nick of time, this being his first ever offence, and yet he is blasted in the way the likes of Gerrard, Rooney, Lafferty, Boyd and McGeady have never ever been blasted, and about to be punished in the way they have never ever been punished. Problem is, he’s foreign and he plays for Arsenal, who few like in this country.

Luckily he didn’t go to this extreme, otherwise imagine what would have been in store for us – and it was also against Celtic.

Cesc 50:50, Eboue Wants to Stick Around, and Dudu Dive

Posted in Gooner News with tags , , , , , , , on August 28, 2009 by samflu

Good morning Gunners!

It’s been a while since I have posted – sorry about that. I’ve actually been doing what I’m supposed to do at work, which is working. Shocking, I know. I have a quick break so I thought I’d write a post. Technically, it’s not really a break, but I’m bored so what the hell.

Will Cesc be fit to face the Mancs?

Once again, this post will include some injury news. Tragic, yes. There’s some good news though, believe it or not. There is still some speculation on whether or not our skipper will feature in the Manure game, and Le Boss has said this on the subject:

“He had a training session today [Thursday] that was quite positive.”

“He will have a definite test tomorrow [today] where we will decide if we include him in the squad or not. Today I would say it is a real 50:50. Yesterday [Wednesday] it I would say it was 60:40 against but he looked positive today.”

I don’t really know if that’s good or bad. The good part is that it went from 60:40 to 50:50. I love speaking in terms of ratios. The gaffer had this to say about other injuries:

“From last night [Wednesday] we have an uncertainty about Aaron Ramsey. He is having a scan at the moment.

“The news was quite re-assuring this morning [Thursday] and we are hoping we’ll get some more [news later]. We don’t think it is a knee injury. We were scared it was a cartilage problem but the news was positive today. It did not swell and he had no restriction of movement. It could be a muscle behind the knee provoked, at first, by a kick on his shin. But we could have some news today that he has nothing at all.

“Rosicky is back in full training but I think a game of that intensity will be too early for him.”

So basically, Ramsey is a doubt and Rosicky might feature. Rosicky! That would be pretty freaking amazing in my opinion. I’d love to see him play, but is it worth the risk? Hard to say.

Eboue and his friend with the black hat

Eboue for Eternity. A campaign I started last year that has approximately 4.2 followers including Dmitri and myself. An immense success, and it gained much publicity when Eboue was booed of the pitch. His popularity rose -92% and I knew the campaign would make it far. It didn’t, surprisingly.

But things have changed. The once much-hated Eboue seems to have matured. Sure, he still practices his interpretive rain dances on the pitch after a rare goal, but he went from clown to class. He isn’t bad – at all. If he was bad, he wouldn’t be playing for Arsenal. This is his year to prove that. The awesome African not only proclaimed his loyalty to the club, but he also claimed that he desires a contract extension. Here’s what Emmanuel said:

“Even when people were booing me last season, I never said I wanted to move.

“The aim is to keep improving and to win a trophy. I have two more years at Arsenal. If they want me to sign for longer, I will do that. I love this club.”

“I am very happy, because I have a new partnership with the fans and now we are all together.

“They understand I will always give 100 per cent for this team and it helps me to know I have the confidence of the boss.

“Last season was difficult. I wanted to give my best and it didn’t always happen. But I have forgotten everything that happened with the fans. Now they sing my name and I thank them for their support.”

Top, top man. We love you too, Eboue. Well, at least I do. I remember the heartbreaking look on his face when he got booed off the pitch – it literally made me tear up. Then again, I’m pretty emotional when it comes to Arsenal. No one deserves that treatment, and I hope no Arsenal player has to face it this season. Keep the booing for the oppostion.

Eduardo the Entertainer

There’s been a lot of fuss on Dudu’s dive. Way too much fuss, in my opinion. According to The Sun (so you know it has to be true), Eduardo is facing a two-match ban after his supposed dive. An official UEFA statement said:

“Having studied video evidence of the incident in question, the UEFA disciplinary inspector decided to charge the player concerned.

“The UEFA control and disciplinary body will examine the case on September 1.”

This is completely acceptable, seeing as Eduardo is the first player to ever dive in a game. Dmitri will be posting an in-depth analysis on this whole situation. Thanks for making my life easier, Dimi.

That’s it for today! If anything comes up, we’ll be sure to post it. Thanks for reading.

Later on, we’ll have a Pre-Match Post for the Manure game up, so be sure to check it out.

Stay classy, fellow Gooners.

Standard, AZ and Olympiakos? Let’s be ‘avin you!

Posted in Gooner News with tags , , , , , , , , on August 27, 2009 by shava23

It is understandable why many a Gunner breathed a sigh of relief as our draw was announced in Monaco, for we will not be meeting up with a European powerhouse, instead treating ourselves with trips to Liege, Alkmaar and Athens. Standard Liege, AZ Alkmaar and Olympiakos may be the champions of their respective leagues, but the Belgian, Dutch and Greek leagues are decidedly second-rate. We should thus expect a smooth passage to the knockout stages.

Now for a quick word on the teams.

Standard Liege. Yes, that is Felliani in the background

Standard Liege have won the Belgian league for the last two seasons. Their best player is playmaker and captain Steven Defour, linked with us for the past few seasons and reportedly approached by Real Madrid this summer. They appear to have been hit hard by the departure of American defender Oguchi Onyewu, formerly of Newcastle, on a free transfer to Milan this summer. According to Arsenal.com, we thrashed Standard 7-0 in the glorious 93/94 Cup Winners’ Cup, our biggest away win in Europe.

AZ Almaar - Champions of last season's Dutch League

AZ Alkmaar won the league last season for only the second time in their history, under the guidance of Louis Van Gaal. Van Gaal and several key players have since left, but star player Mounir El Hamdaoui (a childhood friend of Robin Van Persie in the streets of Rotterdam) remains and Ronald Koeman has arrived to take the coaching reigns.

Olympiakos of Greece

Olympiakos have continued to overshadow Panathanaikos and AEK in recent years. Players of theirs to be aware of are former Villa captain Olof Melberg, Argentine forward Luciano Galletti, ex-Blackburn forward Matt Derbyshire, goalkeeper Nikopolidis and Brazillians Diogo and Dudu.

Champo Group Stages, Here We Come

Posted in Match Reports with tags , , , , , , , , on August 26, 2009 by shava23

Eduardo scores Arsenal's first from the spot

Minutes ago our boys (or men should I say?) cruised into the group stages of the Champions League with a comfortable win over the real Bhoys.

Eduardo broke the deadlock with a dubious penalty after his dying swan impression satisfied the ref and Eboue turned Danny Fox to net the second of the night after a wonderful move from Bendtner and Diaby. The third was similarly sublime, the outstanding Denilson winning the ball in midfield to find Ramsey who set up Arshavin for another classy turn and finish. Donati’s consolation is also worth a mention.

Celtic were no match for us tonight, unable to muster a single shot on target and wobbling at the back whenever we surged forward. But it’s probably fair to say that they had their share of bad luck over this tie, as Gallas’ goal, Caldwell’s own goal and Eduardo’s dive suggest. But as one pundit put it, the Europa League should be their ideal setting at the European level. As for us, it was interesting to watch us briefly revert back to to 4-4-2 and good to see Wilshere have a run out. Denilson and Eboue (fireworks please!) were superb tonight.

The draw’s tomorrow and our first test of the season this Saturday….against Manure.

Injury Update/Transfer Rumours, Reserves Shine, and Loyal Clichy

Posted in Gooner News with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 25, 2009 by samflu

Denilson playing intense Footsies with Brown

Good morning Gunners!

Tomorrow, Arsenal faces Celtic to see which of the two teams will qualify for the Champions League Group Stages. Arsenal have a strong 2-0 lead after the first leg, but, as has been proven many times, anything can happen in football, so the young Gunners must play fully concentrated – depsite their lead.

But first, before analyzing tomorrow’s game, let’s talk news.

Cesc and Kranjar show off their interpretive dance skills

Let’s start with Injury News. It’s nice for us Arsenal bloggers, because whenever there’s a day where nothing really is going on we can always talk about injuries. I hate them, but at least they keep me busy. Today’s injury news are bittersweet. Yes, like the symphony.

Sweet because Fabregas’ scan showed that he did not suffer a muscular strain. Our skipper could even be back for the clash against Man United on Saturday. Wenger said this on the subject:

“From last Saturday we lost Cesc Fabregas who did not train today. His scan was quite reassuring as he has no muscular strain but it will take a few days to settle down.

“There’s a chance he’ll be fit for Old Trafford.”

There you have it. I hope to see him run out with the Captain’s armband at Old Trafford this weekend.

Now comes the bitter part. Well, for one, Cesc could miss Saturday’s game. In my opinion, pretty bitter. What is also bitter is that there are no news on any of the other hundreds of Arsenal players that are injured. Thus, it looks like none of the missing players will be back in time for the weekend. I’m hoping Walcott will make a surprise return. It could happen.

Matuidi on his way to Arsenal?

Transfer Rumours Time.

Yes, our interest in the young Frenchman in green (pictured above) – more commonly known as Blaise Matuidi – has supposeldy been re-sparked, claims The Daily Mail. According to the article, we’re only interested in him because of Fabregas’ injury. Well, we just found out Cesc’s injury isn’t that terrible so I doubt there’s any real truth to this. Still, it would be nice. He could be that DM backup we so desperately need.

Since we are on the topic of signings, this comment made on the squad by Wenger can give us a small idea on what will happen between now and Tuesday – and that is, most probably, absolutely nothing. Le Boss said:

“Today you had Philippe Senderos, Johan Djourou, Mikael Silvestre not even on the bench. Jack Wilshere not involved. Sami Nasri, Tomas Rosicky, Carlos Vela. When you put all that together, it is a massive squad.

“When I give a list of the 18 players, I see how many I have to leave out.”

Arsene is showing off his large squad and his comments hint that it’s big enough. Sort of a slap in the face to Arshavin’s comments on our squad size. Anyway, keeping Senderos and getting Matuidi and maybe Chamakh definitely wouldn’t hurt. But is it necessary? Have your say.

Arsenal Reserves in action

In other news, the Arsenal Reserve team put three past the Fulham reserve team and kept a clean sheet. A goal festival – they seem to be learning from the First Team. The goals came from Sunu (39), Coquelin (41), and Deacon (81). The numbers in the parentheses represent the minutes the goals were scored in, not the players’ age. For a full Match Report, go here.

Clichy doing what he does best

After reading an interview our very own Gael Clichy gave, I felt it was worth mentioning bits of it on here. In a footballing world where money and greed seem to be sole rulers, it’s nice to see a glimpse of faithfulness and class – and that’s exactly what Clichy showed in his interview with the club’s official magazine. Talking about his choice not to go to Real Madrid, the French LB said:

“Leaving for another big club is not always the right decision. Of course it’s always a big challenge – I came from France to England and it was hard for the first year. You don’t lose time as such, but when you go away you have to learn the language and a new type of life, meet new team-mates, and it is always going to be dif­ficult so you have to weigh up the positives and the negatives and when you feel you’re ready, then you go.

“It’s a big pleasure to be linked with places like Real but Arsenal is my club. I feel really good right now and I feel like I’m far from done here.”

Gael Clichy also fully believes the squad will make it far this year, claiming:

‘”I need to win more trophies with Arsenal and I need to give what the club has given me over the last six years.

“It’s not always about money – of course you can always bring more players and experience in, but I think we have a really good squad here.

“If all these players stay fit then, with the addition of Tho­mas Vermaelen, I think we have a great squad. And I’m really not saying that just for the sake of it – I feel that we have a good, strong team and we will show everyone what we can do this season.”

I love you, Gael. He sort of struggled last season, but he’s a world-class left back, and hopefully he’ll get back to that standard this season. With Traore and Gibbs breathing down his neck, I don’t see why he shouldn’t.

That’s it for today’s news. Later on, we’ll put up a Pre-Match post with any extra information that we missed. Thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts and comments.

Stay classy, fellow Gooners!

Former Gunners on the Move

Posted in Random Posts with tags , , , , , , , on August 24, 2009 by shava23

In the absence of much information at the Grove, aside from fears surrounding the condition of Cesc’s hamstring, it is worth mentioning two former players of ours who are on the move – Sylvinho and Sol Campbell.

On his way to Manchester City

Sylvinho will perhaps be best remembered for being displaced at left back by Ashley Cole midway through the 2000/2001 season having only made the position his own in his previous and first season, forcing a certain Nigel Winterburn to leave for Upton Park after thirteen years at the club. Stunners against Sheffield Wednesday and Chelsea (recently voted as the 24th best goal in Arsenal’s history), a consolation goal in the 6-1 drubbing against Spartak Moscow, as well as his usual attacking flair, still linger in the memory. Three quiet years at Celta de Vigo soon followed, during which he faced his former teammates in the second round of the Champions League in 2003/2004. In 2004 he left for Barcelona and played every now and then, facing stiff competition from Giovanni van Bronckhorst and Eric Abidal at left back, but played a full game in this May’s Champions League final. A free agent at the season’s end, he has now joined Manchester City on a one-year contract to provide cover for Wayne Bridge with Javier Garrido.

Campbell after scoring against Barcelona in the Champions League final

Sol Campbell controversially joined Arsenal in 2001 from Spurs on a Bosman, a transfer described by Arsenal Magazine in February as the “second most exciting” in the club’s history. Brought in to deputise for the fading Tony Adams, Sol weathered the “Judas” chants at White Hart Lane to become the “rock” of our defence for the next five seasons. He won the double in his first year, successfully defended the Cup the year after, became an “invincible” the following year and again clinched the Cup in a glorious four year-spell. His last season was hit by injuries and low confidence, but he recovered in time for the second leg of the Champions League semifinal against Villareal and scored against Barcelona in the final. He then played for Portsmouth, winning his fourth FA Cup in 2008, until his release this summer. Rumour has it that he is on the verge of a shock move to Notts County, allowing him to link up with Sven Goran Eriksson, his former England manager and current Director of Football at the club.

Forever Arsenal wishes Sylvinho and Sol the best of luck at their next destinations, as long as they do not come back and haunt us at some point in the future…

Cheeky Gallas, Fab’s Not-So-Fab Hamstring, and Determined Diaby

Posted in Gooner News with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 24, 2009 by samflu

Good Morning Gunners!

It’s a beautiful Monday, but then again when hasn’t a Monday been great? Only 111 hours until the weekend! Woohoo! Work is wonderful, thanks for asking.

Okay, time for the important stuff. First of all, new Forever Arsenal writer Dmitri put up his first post last night. Have a read, it’s really great. The writing style is sort of a mix between Shakespeare, J.K. Rowling, and Dr. Seuss – absolutely mindblowing. Welcome, shava23.

What you looking at?

For those of you who saw Saturday’s game – which was kinda great, by the way – there was an incident between Gallas and Portsmouth attacker Utaka. Utaka outran Gallas to head for a one-on-one with Almunia, but the Portsmouth player fell and appeared to have been held back and tripped by Gallas. The referee saw nothing and Arsenal escaped certain doom as every Portsmouth fan seems to think they would have won if Gallas was sent off. Bullshit, we could have won with eight players, three of those being blindfolded (including Almunia). Anyway, Utaka came out after the game and claimed that Gallas had “admitted” to fouling him. The Portsmouth player said:

“I asked Gallas and he said to me it was a foul. What can you say to that? It’s like everything is going against us. He was smiling, he knew it was a foul but it wasn’t his decision.”

“It was a foul because he pulled me from behind after I ran past him – he pulled me back.”

Arnold tells Utaka to shut up

Stop your whining, Mister. Sometimes calls go your way, sometimes they don’t – it’s part of the game. I love the fact that Gallas was smiling at Utaka. Sort of adds wood to the fire. I think that’s hilarious.

The only good thing about hamstrings is the ham

Now to some rather grim news. Our beloved skipper, Captain Cesc Fabregas of the SS Arsenal, might have an injury that could keep him out for up to three weeks! Notice the “might” and “could” – nothing is for sure yet, so calm down. Wenger said this on the subject:

“He has a hamstring problem. I think he will be short for Wednesday, certainly.

“He is not definitely out, he thinks it is not [too bad]. If it is a little pull he will be out for three weeks, if it is just tightness maybe he can get away for Wednesday. But we will see. In 48 hours we will have a better view.”

There you have it. It could either be nothing or, well, it could be something. Let’s hope it’s just “tightness.” Fabregas out for three weeks wouldn’t be the most amazing news so keep your fingers crossed. We need him for the Man United game on Saturday.

Will he reach his goals?

After an impressive game on Saturday which saw him earn Man of the Match, Diaby has come out to reveal his goals for this season. Wenger has put a lot of faith into this sometimes rather frustrating player – he even compared him to Viera. The Arsenal midfielder said a lot, but here’s the important parts:

“It was my first full game because I’d had a few injuries in pre-season, so to score two goals and have the team winning was a very good day for me. Now I want to stay fit, play the maximum number of games and do really well this season.

“I know it’s a big season for me and the World Cup is in my mind, of course. France have to qualify first but I want to be there and make sure I am in the team so it’s one of my targets for the season.”

“I feel we can definitely challenge everyone this season. We are ready to fight and to get something this year. We talk about winning the Champions League, of course. Arsenal is a big club and as a player you want to win that trophy so it’s in our mind.”

Already talking about winning the Champions League? That’s what I call positive thinking. Let’s hope the team can keep the spirit up and doesn’t lean towards complacency. I agree with Wenger when he says that this could be Diaby’s season. The French midfielder has overflowing talent, but he just doesn’t know how to use it. At times, he is magical, but more often than not, he is frustrating and sort of stupid in his decision-making. This season, he has to prove that he can properly use his talent and make a difference in games. Can he do it? I think he can.

Well that’s it for today. If there’s more news, we’ll be sure to post them up. Tomorrow, the verdict on Fabregas’ injury will be out. Be sure to stop by and check it out. Thanks for reading!

Stay classy, fellow Gooners.