What, exactly, is a Trophy Hunter?

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It’s a phrase that is often used as an insult these days about Arsenal supporters who want the Arsenal to spend money on players. Other top Premier League teams such as Man City, Chelsea and United are often put into this category of ‘buying trophies’ and it confuses me!

I respond with, what is a sports team for? Is it not to win trophies?

Apparently with the Arsenal, it’s not to win trophies, those supporters who have been happy for us to finish 3rd or 4th for the last twelve seasons have been happy, because…. we’ve done it ‘our way’, the Arsenal way, not going into the market and buying the expensive goods available but instead buying a bargain, and still being able to punch above our weight but at the end of the day, ending the season trophy-less, apart from two FA Cups, has damaged the image of the club as a top flight entity in World football.

Even Arsène has often said in the past that getting top four is like, ‘a Trophy’. So does that class him as a trophy hunter? Kroenke on the other hand, is happy for all his ‘sports teams’ to remain unsuccessful and just stay as a financially viable ‘brand’. Relying on gullible fans to pay their money and fill his bank account.

I’m not ashamed to say that I want my team to win silverware and sometimes the only way that can be achieved is by investing in the team, if that classes me as a ‘trophy hunter’ in the eyes of some, then so be it.

Let’s take International sport for an example, Rugby, Cricket and International football. The managers of these teams have the pick of the very best players which their countries can offer. So why shouldn’t a domestic football team get the best on offer to enable them to be successful.

Roy Hodgson doesn’t go to the Championship or the League One to pick his team, no, he goes to the best English teams and chooses the top players, and we have the expectations that he will do that. So why can’t I have the expectations that my club will eat at the top table in the best hotel and not just at the local High Street fish shop?

Ultimately, you get what you pay for. At a hotel like Le Bristol in Paris, you’ll get a Michelin star chef, a menu made from the best ingredients and the highest gastronomic delights with unequalled service, at the local fish shop you’ll get Spiros’ fucking uncle chucking some battered cod into the fryer, wrapping it in some paper with some greasy chips, taking your money and saying, ‘Astios’.

If Wenger visits Paris, do you think he goes behind Le Beaubourg in Le Marais, next to Le Piano Zinc gay club and buys Falafel or a Kebab from a street vendor, of course he fucking doesn’t, he’ll go to L’Abeille or Alan Passards’ or Le Bristol, he’s not looking for a cheap meal, he’s looking to eat and savour the best gastronomie in the world.

Dining room at L'Abeille, Paris, france

L’Abeille, Paris

So I’m not ashamed to be a ‘Trophy Hunter’, if that’s what people want to call me, because I want the Arsenal to be the best, and to achieve that they need to win the top honours, and maybe to be able to do that they need to eat at the best hotels, which ultimately means spending large amounts of money.

Caveat: It is sometimes possible to find a quality restaurant with a uprising chef who has yet to earn his Michelin star, a restaurant where you can eat just as well without it being too expensive, however, as in football, it is very rare to find one. Furthermore, a kebab occasionally can be delicious, but it doesn’t stop you wanting to eat at a Michelin starred restaurant.

Bon appétit……..

 

 

 

 

Is this season just an anomoly?

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This season we’ve seen the most unlikely candidates in the Premier League getting to the top, or close to the top and Champions League places.

Leicester of course, relegation fodder last season and this season probably Champions. But we’ve also seen West Ham, Stoke, the Genital Warts from N17 make bids for CL places. Alternatively Man City, Man Utd, Liverpool and the Chavs have all under achieved. We have been the only constant this season, staying in the top four, but perhaps next season we could be ousted.

So my question is…… is it a one off or will it continue next season?

That question probably has several answers. Firstly, if any of the teams mentioned want to improve on this current season then they will have to spend money to make that happen. The usual top four need to invest, firstly they will do that by changing manager. City will get Pep, United will get an improvement on Van Gaal, Chelsea will get someone unless Hiddink gets them CL football next season, Liverpool have already done it with Klopp and the Genital Warts already have a capable manager and so do Leicester.

Secondly, funds will be made available for those teams to buy the players to improve on those who have underperformed this season. The Chavs, United and City will all have a clear out and rebuild.

The likes of Leicester, Stoke, Everton, West Ham and Southampton will be getting extra money from the TV deal and you can guarantee they will invest in their teams. Leicester and the Genital Warts will also get CL money and you can bet with confidence that that money will be reinvested in team upgrades.

Furthermore, the normal mid-table teams will also be getting money from the TV deal and will inevitably invest in team improvements.

So what will be the outcome of all this money coming into the Premier League, well for one thing, the fucking goalposts will be moved. The usual suspects for the top five or six positions will find it harder to win the League or to even get a CL place. Leicester, Stoke, Everton, Liverpool, West Ham, Southampton and a few others will start to take points off the ‘normal’ top performers, and even challenge for the title and CL places. Leicester have shown the way, they’ve shown that it can be done, that will only give confidence to other clubs who usually struggle.

Although I don’t like the idea of all these minnows challenging and making it more difficult for the elite teams, I do think it will be good for the Premiership and more importantly, it will be good for the Arsenal. Next season we won’t just be trying to beat City, United, Chelsea, Spervs and Liverpool to guarantee our top four spot. Oh no, next season we’ll have to beat an improved Stoke, an improved Everton, an improved Southampton, and a fucking improved Crystal Palace if we are to challenge for the title or even just for a CL place.

Next season will have to be a season where we have drastically improved the team, spent some money on quality (expensive) players and keeping up with the Joneses. If not we will be the poor relations and it wouldn’t be unlikely if we end up below the Stokes, the Watfords, the Southamptons, the Evertons and the Liverpools. Furthermore, City, United, the Chavs and the Spervs will all be there as usual jockeying for the top spots because money had been made available to their managers during the summer.

So back to my original question….. Is this season an anomaly?

In normal circumstances, ie: without the TV sponsorship, I would say yes, it is an anomoly…. but times they are a-changing, as Bob once sang. Combine all the ingredients and the fact that some of the normally lower Premier league teams are improving with choice of manager, will have more spending power next season and therefore being able to offer higher wages and to invest in better players, then I think it will not be an anomaly. This is the future and the Arsenal need to make preparations now.

If Wenger is going to remain manager then he needs to spend the money to build the best team possible. It makes me wonder if the rumours about the people upstairs telling him to spend are true. Do they foresee the future? Have they finally realised that to stay at the top a rebuild is necessary? That perhaps the bargain hunting needs to stop and quality expensive players will have to be purchased instead? Because be sure, the other teams have seen the writing on the wall and will do it!

With the TV sponsorship PL teams will get on average £80m plus per season and a consequence will be the transfer market will become further congested and quality players will become harder to find, lower league teams will be able to buy three or four top players priced in the £20 – £30m bracket and compete with the Arsenal on wages.

We may not win a trophy this season, but if the wind of change is as I predict, then next season if we don’t improve and keep abreast of the others, then get ready for a mid-table finish.

Just to finish on some more Dylan songs, ‘The answer my friend, is blowing in the wind, the answer is blowing in the wind’. So, management, ‘When you gonna wake up?’, because if you don’t, you’ll definitely end up on ‘Desolation Row’. I couldn’t resist that last one!

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Buy, Buy, Buy…. Polling Day round two.

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Yesterday I examined which players I thought may be on the Sell list this coming summer. The voting in the poll was fairly inconclusive but Flamini, Arteta and Rosicky were top of the list followed by Walcott and Giroud.

Today boys and girls, let’s look at who may be on Wengers To Buy List. With Flamini, Arteta and Rosicky all reaching semi-retirement age it’s fairly clear that they will all be shown the door this coming summer, plus Walcott and Giroud could also be on the danger list if Arsène has identified a replacement and is sure that he can get him (whoever that player may be?)

I think we can all agree that in defence the team are fairly well covered, that is unless the BFG is coming to the end of his Arsenal career and a new recruit was needed to bed into the side during the summer months.

So that leaves midfield and attack, the other day I put up a pole and asked if we should sell Özil and Sanchez but the overwhelming result, 44.44 % was to keep them and change the team around them. I think this may have to be the case this summer, get rid of some the the underperformers and ageing warriors and recruit players who are hungrier for silverware.

A newspaper article yesterday, ok it was The Sun, (thank you Steve and Cockie) had an un-confirmed report suggesting that Arsène has been told to spend some money this summer and to rebuild the side into a trophy winning team. All speculation but perhaps close to the mark, he does need to rebuild, to get players who can be more effective with Sanchez and Özil as the core creators.

So here is my shortlist of contenders, not a definitive list but some of the better players out there who won’t be too expensive and could be available this summer.

Strikers:

Aubameyang: Team, Borussia Dortmund, season 2015/16  P25 Goals 22. A pacy striker /winger, who has looked extremely good in the Bundesliga this season. Would be a superb replacement for Walcott. BUY

Lewandowski: Team, Bayern Munich, season 2015/16  P26 Goals 25. An out and out Striker, a veritable goal scoring machine. To replace Giroud. BUY

Ighalo: Team, Watford, season 2015/16  P26 Goals14. Has developed into a typical English league striker in the Drogba mould and adapted to the Premier League with ease. Well built, doesn’t get knocked off the ball easily and given the right service, will score goals galore. Keep on the short list to BUY if the first two aren’t available.

Lacazette: Team, Lyon, season 2015/16 played 27 goals 14, last season 2014/15 played 33 scored 27. Not been as prolific as last season but still a good prospect, plays similar to Thierry Henry and would easily slip into our style of play with Sanchez and Özil. I really like him and he would be a definite upgrade on Giroud. Keep on the short list.

 Midfield:

Payet: Team, West Ham, attacking midfielder, season 2015/16 P23 Goals 8 Assists 8. First season in the Premier League, adapted well and is now the engine room of current West Ham team. An excellent replacement for Arteta and /or Rosicky. BUY

Kanté: Team, Leicester, Central defensive midfielder likened to Claude Makélélé but says he styles his play more on Lassana Diarra, who we know got displaced by Flamini at Arsenal. First season in the Premier League and has been a driving force for Leicester. Would be a good addition to compliment Coquelin. BUY

Centre Back:

John Stones: Team, Everton, CB but can play RB as well. There is only one choice for me at the moment for this position, Stones is a young CB with a great future with the right team. Strong, aware and a leader who would be a superb replacement for the BFG and a future captain with the grit and determination we need in the team. However, there are a lot of teams with bigger budgets after him and I doubt Wenger could get him even if he tried. But still, I’d say BUY at any cost.

So that’s my short list, no mega, over priced dream players, just a realistic look at who I think would be good additions and improvements on who we already have. If I was Wenger, (but I’m not) these players would be my targets for the summer. The manager probably has a totally different shortlist (if he has one at all) so it’s pure speculation.

Now Ladies and Gentlemen, it’s your turn, you tell me and I’ll pass it on to Arsène.

Make your vote, and tell me who you’d like to see on the short list this coming summer.

You have multiple choice:

 

 

Sell, Sell, Sell…… Polling Day!

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I fucking hate international breaks, especially at such a crucial period in the Premier League. However, it does give some players a rest and it gives us fans some time to reflect on other matters.

Today I’m looking ahead to the summer, and more specifically, what Arsène will be doing in the Transfer window. Today who should  be sold? and tomorrow,, who he will buy. Because let’s be honest, we do need some upgrades.

Let’s firstly look at who should be going out the door.

Rosicky: Getting on a bit at 35 years old and hardly playing due to continuing injuries. SELL

Arteta: Ditto, ageing and injured. SELL

Flamini: Ditto, ageing, injured and when he does play, a liability. SELL

Mertesacker: Getting close to his sell buy date but a useful squad player. KEEP for another year and then send him back to Dooshland.

Walcott: Has had his opportunity to prove his worth at CF and fluffed his lines. SELL while the price is good.

Oxlade: Has had loads of opportunities to prove himself but doesn’t seem to be improving. SELL

Giroud: Despite having a fairly respectable amount of goals, 12 PL goals this season, still hasn’t gelled with the midfield and really isn’t at a standard where you can say he is top class. SELL

Sanchez and Özil: My jury is still out on these two, both have hit a period of mediocre or bad form and struggling with their mental strength. KEEP both for another season if they don’t both put in transfer requests this summer. If either of them do, then…. SELL

Cazorla: Still playing well but ageing, and if he can stay injury free a good squad player but getting close to his sell by date. KEEP

Every other team member from our squad…… KEEP.

That leaves us with:

Cech / Ospina / Macey

Bellerin / Chambers / Koscielny / Paul Easter / BFG / Monreal / Gibbs

Coquelin / Elneny / Cazorla / Ramsey/ Özil / Sanchez / Iwobi /

Welbeck / Campbell

Plus some of our teenagers who are progressing through the ranks.

Leaves us with a glaring gap in the striker department, a priority in the summer, plus possibly another DM and a creative Box to Box midfielder, though I see Elneny developing that role over time.

Those are my views, now the Sore Arses can decide, remember, Your Vote Counts, well of course it fucking doesn’t, it’s just a bit of fun amongst the fans who have no say in what the Manager or the club does.

You have a multiple choice:

 

Sensational Arsenal…

 

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Arsenal continued their Dr Jackyll & Mr Hyde season yesterday with an emphatic win against Everton. They were top class and controlled the game from start to finish, what a stark difference from the FA Cup game against Watford and the PL game against Swansea.

At Goodison the midfield passing was crisp, the defensive display was solid and the attack got the goals needed to win the game. Yesterday for me proved that Giroud and Walcott need to stay on the bench till the end of the season, Welbeck and Iwobi were excellent and got a goal apiece, the first from Welbz was outstanding and something both Giroud and Walcott would have fluffed.

Sanchez had a bit of a schizophrenic game, he set up the first goal for Danny but I watched him during the first half and once again he gave away possession on 6 or 7 occasions. He continues to run with the ball until he reaches a dead end, fails to pass and then tries to get past an opponent but instead loses possession. Perhaps it’s what most people think and he is trying too hard, but still, I view him as a liability at the moment.

Iwobi had a superb game, my MotM, topped by him getting his first goal for the cluub, he showed why he should now keep his place ahead of Walcott. Le Coq and the Egyptian were both solid in front of the defence and Elneny is definitely becoming the Ramsey / Cazorla replacement. He spreads the ball about with confidence and presses the opposition players when they have possession. Long may that partnership continue.

The defence for a change worked well together, Bellerin and Monreal as usual both put in a good shift and Paul Easter and Kos finally clicked and were solid as a rock in central defence.

Özil was his usual mercurial self, playing some lovely stuff but then disappearing or just strolling about as if he didn’t care, the jury is still out on that one!

The injury to Ospina was worrying but he seemed to play through it so I’m hoping it doesn’t affect him after the international break. Overall, it was an extremely fluid performance, similar to the way we played against Man United and Leicester. I did notice a couple of things however, firstly, we seemed to press more and higher up the field, something which really restricted Everton from getting out of their own half. Secondly, when defending there was more hoof-ball rather than trying to dribble the ball out of defence, again, something that restricted the opposition from gaining an advantage. I sincerely hope both tactics continue, I don’t mind hoof-ball when it’s needed, kick the fucking ball as far up field as possible when there is danger. Both tactics worked yesterday.

Everton in their frustration did revert to dirty play eventually and shame on the referee for not protecting our players and giving more yellow cards. I saw Bellirin get an elbow /arm in his face at one stage and it was a blatant foul that Clattenburg failed to penalise or decided to ignore, Refs really do need to be held accountable for their performances.

If we continue like that for the rest of the season I see no reason why we will not get third or even second place. Although there’s still a mathematical chance we can win the league, I think the eight points (if we win our game in hand) between us and Leicester is a bridge too far, we would have to win a minimum of seven out of our last eight games and Leicester would have to lose at least four of their remaining seven fixtures. They do have Man United and the Chavs away and West Ham and Everton at home, but realistically, I doubt they will lose four.

So it will come down to us or the genital warts from N17 as to who gets second. They’ve got Liverpool and the Chavs away and Man United at home, plus their last game is away to Newcastle, let’s hope Rafa has worked his magic by then and they need to win that game to stay up. We on the other hand, now have a fairly easy run in. Ok, we’ve said that on a few occasions this season and we haven’t been able to do the business, but, and it’s still a big BUT, if we play how we have in our games against Barca, the genital warts and yesterday at Goodison, then we can still keep the cock suckers where they deserve to be, deep in our shadow.

That’s what we are playing for now and if we do well, we could still win the title if Leicester suffer from the pressure and start dropping points. We can live in hope.

 

 

 

Everton v Arsenal, the pre-match.

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Northbank1969 gets a day off today, here is a guest post from Norfolk Gooner.
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Lunch time today sees us kick-off the first of nine games that will more than likely determine the direction in which the club moves in the near future.

Nine games which in a normal season we would expect to comfortably win eight of.

But this is not a normal season by any means.  This is the season where any team can beat any other team and every club must expect the unexpected.

A maximum of twenty-seven points on offer, we need to win a minimum of twenty of them for the season to be judged average.  That is a reasonable run in the FA Cup, last sixteen in the Champions League and third or fourth place in the Premiership with European qualification our usual “trophy”. Even winning all twenty-seven points wont guarantee the Premiership title which is the only thing that can lift the season to above average.

Failure to Qualify for the Champions League will lead to even louder calls for the heads of both the board members and the manager.  More importantly, it could lead to a downward spiral where it becomes difficult to retain our best players and recruit top quality reinforcements which will almost inevitably lead to a slide down the league.

We start the final nine away to Everton, a team that we beat 2 – 1 at home in October, one of those “expected” results.

Without in any way disrespecting The Toffees, they are seen as a second tier team in the Premiership, perhaps slightly underachieving  but working under a good young manager and with brighter prospects following the arrival of new majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri.

Everton have a good mix of players with a solid looking back four some good experienced midfielders and a striker in Lukaku who can be deadly on his day.

It will not be an easy game.

Our manager has a job on his hands to lift the squad following a disastrous few weeks culminating in being dumped out of the Champions League by Barcelona on Wednesday night.

The players have to put all of that out of their minds and concentrate on playing well, doing their best and sticking to the plan.

For Arsenal there are a number of question marks over the choice of starters, the one certainty is David Ospina in goal.  Hector Bellerin and Nacho Monreal should fill the fullback slots and despite two glaring mistakes by Koscielny on Wednesday I expect him to be paired with Gabriel in the centre of the defence. With Flamini apparently injured, there should be no fear that he will be chosen ahead of either Coquelin and Elneny in central midfield.

With Ozil to pull the strings behind Alexis, Welbeck and Iwobi.  I’m sure Ozil will provide the ammunition, we must just hope that the front trio can bury a few of those chances he provides.

Win today and we give ourselves a chance of saving our season, lose and…………..

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Come on you fucking Gunners.

The Soixante-neuf Soapbox

Afficher l'image d'origineShould Arsène ditch Özil and Sanchez?

When they arrived they were seen as our saviours, they were viewed as top quality players, they were what everyone wanted….. high priced world class players who’d both played for Barca and Real Madrid.

For a while they did their jobs well, and to some extent they still do, Özil for example, has the highest amount of assists the Premier League this season, Sanchez to a lesser degree. He has gone off the boil and in my view is now a hindrance, not a benefit to the team.

So what has gone wrong? Özil appears to have lost interest and Sanchez is not performing to his normal level. Has something gone wrong in the dressing room? Have they lost confidence in the manager and his tactics? Have they finally realised that the team they joined is not up to their standard? Or are they just in need of a change to another team?

It’s difficult to come up with any single reason, or it could be a combined mixture of all those questions. But something is going wrong and the consequence is we are not performing as we should every week, inconsistences are glaringly obvious and if something isn’t done then this current season will be a disaster.

So, I leave it to you, the voters, here are the questions in the form of a poll.