Category Archives: Gervinho

QPR v. Arsenal Preview: Hoops on Toast? & Transfer Spin Speculation

Queens Park Rangers have always been one of those clubs I have found it difficult to dislike. Bowles had charisma and buckets of flair. They used to be sponsored by Guinness. I even had a soft spot for Paul Parker at one point – I was young. All that goodwill (or on the worst days, ambivalence) has been eroded recently, however. First their new owner throws his cash around in a most vulgar manner, and then he hires Mark Hughes.

You’d have to go a long way to find any Gooner with a nice thing to say about Sparky. ‘Gobshite’ would probably be one of the nicer descriptions. And although our recent form has been very good (to say the least), and he’s been talking us up in the run lead up to this game, you can be morally certain he’s looking forward to this game, because there’s nothing he likes more than trying to get under our skin.

His chances of bringing our winning streak to a halt will be hampered by the fact that Cissé is an idiot and is banned, and also by injuries to players like Helguson – who has outscored Zamora so far this season – and Campbell. Their recent form hasn’t been great, as you’d expect from a side in the relegation zone: they have one win and one draw in their last six games. But those points were picked up at home against Everton and Liverpool, and they’re making much of the latter in their build-up. I daresay Barton will start, however, as Hughes will send him out as agent provocateur (which is french for ‘irritating tosser’) in midfield, and I expect Mackie is champing at the bit to make an impact again.

It seems likely that Koscielny will start, though I would recommend that he sleeps in a cottonwool-lined sleeping bag wrapped in duct tape tonight, to ensure no twisting of the knees can occur. The rest of the team (almost) picks itself at the moment: Chesney, Sagna, Vermaelen, Gibbs, Arteta, Song, Rosicky, Walcott and RVP. The only question should be: who do you pick from Gervinho, Ramsey and the Ox? For me it has to be either Gervinho or the Ox – both offer more width than Ramsey, and although Gervinho is less of an attacking threat at the moment his overall team play and defensive work against Villa last week should earn him the start. Not that I have anything against the other two, far from it.

I’m not going for a scoreline prediction for two prinicipal reasons: 1) I’m always wrong, and 2) I’m not particularly bothered about the scoreline, as long as we win. It’s all about points at the moment, so if we scrape by with another last minute winner from – well, from anyone – I’ll be happy. Mind you, my ulcer won’t be.

Mikel  Arteta has made an interesting observation in an interview with Sport magazine which I came across courtesy of Arseblog News (where would we be without it?). He’s reiterated his feeling that our best form would follow once we got over key injuries, and he clearly feels that this issue is of greater importance than the acquisition of new players.

Now, I’m not one to subscribe to conspiracy theories, but I can’t help wondering if this isn’t linked to Arsene’s recent repetition of the ‘Quality not Quantity’, ‘We will spend if we think it’s right’ and ‘Where would we be if everyone had been fit’ mantras. Are we being given a clear message, albeit in an obscure, murky, indirect, vaguely suggestive sort of way?

At the beginning of last summer we were told that there would be some players coming in and more leaving. At the moment the situation is quite different in the sense that there a some players out on loan who clearly do not have a role to play in our future, but are too expensive for other clubs to buy. At the moment we are faced with the need to persuade our best player to stay, as opposed to last year soul-destroying struggle to fight off the repeated attempts of a bunch of shabby Iberian motherfuckers to shame us into flogging our best player at a ridiculously low price. Then there were others who wanted out for oil money, whereas at the t moment the squad seems relatively settled.

Thus, I think it is highly unlikely that there will be several summer signings. Podolski, it seems clear, is on his way. Perhaps another defender might be added, but I would enormously surprised if we acquired more than two senior players who could step right into contention for a first team place. It seems to me that the noises coming from Arsene and now Arteta reflect this likelihood, and we are being gently prepared accordingly.

In the meantime, let’s hope for a jolly serving of Hoops on toast tomorrow. (Sorry, I couldn’t help using it again). And if Joey sees red again, well that would be just fine.

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Filed under Arteta, Friday Night Preview, Gervinho, Koscielny, Ramsey, Transfer Bollocks

Arsenal v. Villa preview & other asstd. titbits

Alex McLeish brings his stuttering Villa team to the Grove tomorrow in what could prove to be a significant day in the battle for Champions League positions.  T*******m travel to the Bridge for the day’s Clash of the Arseholes, and with a bit of luck they’ll enter into bitter combat with each other for a debilitating no score draw. Failing that I’ll settle for the spuds being sent home with a point by a heartbreaking injury time own goal by The Best Player In The World Who Happens To Be Welsh.

Villa are currently in 15th position for the principal reason that they are not very good at scoring goals – they have found the net only 31 times in 28 league games. Surprisingly, though, their goal difference is only -4, and they have been pretty tight defensively over the last four games, conceding only three goals. So given their attacking limitations, which are compounded by the loss of Bent for the duration, it seems unlikely that they’ll be gung ho tomorrow and look to take us on. Instead, I daresay McLeish will be parking his pockmarked, ginger-roofed Caledonian bus at the edge of the area, and looking to use Agbonlahor’s pace for counter-attacks. N’Zogbia is doubtful with a knee ligament problem he picked up in training yesterday.

Fortunately we do not appear to have any significant injury problems following the win at Everton. Personally, I’d rather see Ramsey on the bench and Gervinho or the Ox starting on the left hand side. Hutton should be targeted in particular; he got himself sent off when we played them last December and either Gervinho or the Ox could give him a torrid time if they go at him.

If we play with the same level of urgency we showed in attack for the first 20 minutes on Wednesday we should profit – mental discipline will be crucial, and the players are going to have be utterly focussed and committed. We cannot take Villa for granted and on too many occasions in the past few seasons we have seen ineffectual performances follow a win. But there’s no reason why we shouldn’t claim all the points tomorrow.

Moving on, it has been very encouraging to see promising young players going out on loan over the past couple of days: Chuks Aneke has gone to Preston, Benik Afobe to Reading and today Yennaris joined Notts County. These are promising developments for each player and they can only benefit from the experience, provided they don’t end up being kicked from here ’til next Thursday by some lower league clogger and put out of action for the long term. The manager had some interesting points to make in todays press conference regarding the size of the squad and how this influences our involvement in the transfer market next summer. The mantra – as it was last year – is “quality not quantity”. Arsene pointed out:

“…don’t forget we have many players out on loan and we have not had Jack Wilshere or Abou Diaby for the whole season… These players will be back and it means that number and quality-wise we are strong because we are in the position we are in without these players.”

Observations like this lead pundits, journos, hacks and fans to subject them to the same kind of feverish analysis that resulted in the Engima decrypts 70-odd years ago, by sheds full of tweed-jacketed Oxbridge boffins at Bletchley Park. From where I’m sitting (in my navy blue 125th anniversary track top, by the way – no tweed here) it seems pretty obvious from his comments that he doesn’t intend to sign a midfielder. So assuming that the Podolski deal is pretty much sorted, that means – perhaps – one additional signing, and the obvious thing to do would be to get another centre half in place of poor old Squillaci. So that would mean two top quality signings in the summer, rather than the four suggested by Marco Van Basten. I think I could live with that, but will it be enough to sway Van Persie?

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Filed under Friday Night Preview, Gervinho, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ramsey, Transfer Bollocks, Van Persie

Newcastle 0 – Arsenal 0: picking up where we left off?

As I’m sure you’re aware, the season began today with a no-score draw at St James Park, an unsatisfying result from a game that appeared to follow a very familiar pattern. We dominated possession and passed the ball a great deal, but failed to create a lot of scoring opportunities. The opposition tried to keep their shape and close us down; when they did have possession they looked fairly impotent. It’s going to be a long, long season for Toon supporters, but that’s their problem.

There were some positives. Gervinho started and became the focus of much of our attacking play. He caused Newcastle problems on both flanks, and when he develops a better understanding with his teammates I should think he’ll get plenty of assists. Of course the first thing he’ll have to understand is that when he gets the ball into good wide positions he’s going to have find Van Persie, because there’s not likely to be many other attacking teammates in the box to aim at.

The downside – apart from our inability to score – was obviously Gervinho’s red card. If there was any clearer demonstration why Joey Barton should not be an Arsenal player, this was it. Having reacted aggressively to Gervinho’s fall  in the Newcastle area (by picking him up off the deck by his shirt), he then dropped as if he’d been shot when Gervinho stupidly slapped his cheek, and told the ref he’d been punched. I’m not defending Gervinho – if you put your hand into another players’ face you’re likely to be dismissed. But Barton showed the football world once again why he fully deserves his reputation as a cunt and I do not understand why anyone would to see him in an Arsenal shirt. Song was lucky to stay on the pitch after he deliberately trod on Barton’s ankle in the first half. Was this why Barton contrived to get Gervinho sent off in the second? I wouldn’t be at all surprised. Anyhow, Gervinho gets an automatic ban for a straight red. Ironically Newcastle didn’t look any more likely to score with the man advantage.

Defensively we looked pretty good, I felt – but as mentioned above, Newcastle didn’t create and didn’t really pressure us. But Chesney dealt with things pretty decisively – he didn’t get flustered and looked confident. Vermaelen and Koscielny played well as the preferred options at centre-half. Frimmers made his debut as a late sub and was fine. Arshavin was, I felt, largely ineffective and gave away possession too often, though he did provide an excellent chip to put RvP through on goal. Rosicky was industrious without being incisive. Song was both solid and lucky, as mentioned above. RvP didn’t get much to work with.

The other notable point from the game was the behaviour of the away fans. “Spend our fucking money” was the clear message from the travelling Gooners, and rightly so. AW is quoted on the club website as saying:

“Everybody looks for centre backs in the whole world…People with unlimited resources look for a centre back… We have specialised people to work everywhere but we are not in a supermarket where you go to a shelf and you ask where are the centre backs or the strikers.”

These are not the sort of observations that are likely to appease those Gooners who are already deeply frustrated by the club’s inability to address the weaknesses in our squad. He goes on to say:

“If a player is interesting the top clubs, he has a fantastic value. If there is no interest from these clubs he is £3-7million…The same player can be worth £30-50million and £3-7million. There is no logic in the market any more. In football it is very difficult to set the price for the players.”

It sounds to me as though he is addressing the Cesc issue indirectly here, by attempting to justify to supporters why Fabregas is being sold to Barca for less than his market value. I believe he’s also offering an explanation as to why he is seemingly unable to countenance buying a centre-half, being unable to match the valuations of the selling club/s. It’s worth noting, perhaps, that Gary Cahill scored for Bolton today, which will certainly not do anything to weaken Bolton’s bargaining position should Arsenal bid for him. Which we won’t, I daresay.

Not to worry, it’s only Udinese next in a crucial CL tie…

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Filed under Frimpong, Gervinho, Match Day Postmortem, Rosicky, Song, Szcesny, Vermaelen