Son of a Gun!

Musings on Arsenal Football Club by a Singaporean Gooner (Gooner since 1988)

The mystery of Emmanuel Adebayor June 30, 2009

Filed under: Transfer Rumours — Son of a Gunner @ 9:04 pm

Before I begin today’s post, let me go through some transfer updates:

Felipe Melo seem to be out of our grasp now that he has signed a new contract. *sigh*

Although there is a buy-out clause in his new contract, a player won’t have signed such a contract if he is really keen on leaving, unless there is already a buy-out clause in his original contract, and that it is higher which won’t ake much sense. So, I’d be really surprised (albeit a pleasant one) if he signed for us.

Plus, one of the jokes of this transfer window is recycling an old quote to issue a new story angle. Presenting Andrey Arshavin revealing he’d love to play for Barcelona. A quote taken when he was still at Zenit St Petersburg. Pathetic.

And the last piece of short news of the day is the departure of Amaury Bischoff. I only have two words for this piece of news: Good riddance.

Now to our main topic of the day: the enigmatic Emmanuel Adebayor. Gooners either love or hate him, there seem to be no middle ground on this.

When Adebayor signed for Arsenal in 2006, he joined Arsenal together with Abou Diaby and Theo Walcott. I can remember this vividly because I was at Highbury reading the matchday programme with interviews on all all January signings. At the time like most Gooners, I do not know much about Adebayor but a friend told me his playing style reminds him of Kanu and Wenger described him as “Kanu with pace”, which is certainly high praise.

Adebayor scored on his debut with a header and soon gained popularity not through his prolificacy (he scored 12 goals that season) but through sheer hard work. He was always chasing the ball and was the epitome of defending from the front, something that Henry didn’t do enough towards the end of his Arsenal career and it made them a strange but effective forward partnership. Although it is suffice to say we’d all rather forget the weird dancesteps they both share after a goal.

Adebayor continued to win fans over in season 2007/2008 when he carried on the scoring mantle in the absence of our greatest goalscorer. He scored 30 although he missed many others as well. Fans love him for his tenacity but remain frustrated with his finishing. But he was never a hated figure simply because he worked really hard for the team.

That all changed when AC Milan indicated their interest in signing him. He became erratic and started releasing statements contradicting himself. One thing is for sure, he is a mercenary, which he revealed to a local paper (specifically The New Paper) here. He must have thought admiting his desire to leave for better mony elsewhere in a small paper in a small country will not get him into trouble with his club thousands of miles away. Fact is, since that interview I’ve had my reservations about the man.

Still, when he reported for pre-season training, I as a Gooner stood behind him. Besides, he is an Arsenal player and you can only support him if you’re a fan, instead of jeering at him which will produce more negative than positive. His kissing of the badge at a pre-season friendly was totally unnecessary. Put it this way, if you want to win back the hearts of Gooners, just bloody run your heart out o the field and stick the ball at the back of he net like you have always done and bad memories will be replaced y good ones.

But that never happened after he signed a new much-improved contract soon afterwards. He actually felt he deerved to be paid as well as the great Thierry Henry based on one 30-goal season. Absolutely mad.

Worse thing is, ever since that new contract he never worked as hard as he did before. He was lazy, and his attitute on the field is evident of a man who thinks he had already made it. Maddening to see. Worse was to come when he accused fans of jeering him for other club’s interest in him for which, in his words, ‘has no control’ over. Yet he flirted by saying Milan’s interest in like Beyonce winking to a boy.

Adebayor, let’s face it. If you cannot be as tenacious as before, then you will never fulfill your undoubted potential. Even Zidane worked his socks off in his later years as a professional. And if you already want to move elsewhere, then just go.

My feeling is, he is a good player, but not good enough for us to be disrupted as a club. If he wants to go, we should let him go. Do we need a replacement? I think right now the emphasis should still be on the midfield enforcer and we have enough forwards to fill the role.

Will Adebayor go this summer? My point of view is that he will. What do you think?

 

3 new rumours June 29, 2009

Filed under: New Signings,Transfer Rumours — Son of a Gunner @ 10:36 pm

There are 3 new transfer rumours that surfaced since my last post, which I will cover today one by one.

Franck Ribery – One of the most exciting players at the last World Cup (2006), the pint-sized dribbling expert has been linked with Arsenal even before the World Cup that propelled him to international stardom.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has admitted that Franck Ribery was one of many players that he had missed out on buying, one of many that have caused him many regrets for not bringing to Arsenal.

Ribery is known for his expertise in creating space for himself, close ball control, pace and directness to goal. Indeed, his style of play will suit Arsenal. The question now is, how real is this transfer rumour? Let us take it down piece by piece:

1) Arsene Wenger has never spent more than 20 million quid on anyone in his many years of being a manager.
2) The source is from the Daily Star, known more for it’s sensational headlines and impossibly big span of unnamed sources. Again the one stated in the article is ‘And our source close to Arsenal’s top brass confirmed: “Ribery was on the agenda at a recent board meeting and it could even be a done deal by now. We’re very optimistic.” ‘
3) After Wenger has missed out on signing Ribery, he has since signed Tomas Rosicky, Theo Walcott, Samir Nasri and of course the hugely impressive Andrei Arshavin, all similar players to Ribery in differing degrees.

Put it simply, Arsenal will never sign Ribery for that kind of money especially with the kind of squad that we have at present. So let’s not get hyped up over this one.

Karim Benzema – This young striker has been on every Championship Manager/Football Manager player’s lips for some time due to his impressive statistics in the games. But I never believe until I have seen it for myself. I have watched several of his games when he was just a teenager for Lyon and I must say I am very impressed with him.

He is both-footed, very direct, can head with an incredible leap, great upper-body strength and height, and his overall pace is not bad for a man of his size. I remembered comparing his style of play to that of Fernando Torres, who is as direct.

I would love to see him at Arsenal, but I am going to rule this out because of the same first reason I stated above. Arsenal won’t spend 30 million pounds on anyone, I really cannot see it and Benzema has stated many times that he prefers the Spanish league. So, gooners you can forget about this one too. Besides, we don’t need him now and even if we sell Adebayor I can’t see Wenger re-investing the money on Benzema. A lesser name like Marouane Chamakh would be much more credible. Incidentally this Moroccan is also linked but I’m not sure he is prolific enough to succeed in England.

3) Serdar Tasci – The VfB Stuttgart defender is the latest name to be linked. To be very honest, I Have not seen him play so I cannot comment on how he will suit Arsenal. What I do know is that at 1.86m, he definitely has some height which some idiots insist Arsenal should get.

I think at this point in time, this area is not of the greatest need and we should look at central midfield urgently See previous post). I have a feeling Wenger knows that too and let’s hope something positive develops in the coming weeks.

As for Tasci, it was reported he is targeted by AC Milan and Juventus but if I’m you, I would take it with a huge pinch of salt.

Tomorrow onwards, I would like to do a run-down on our current players in different batches and how they can contribte in the coming season.

 

The missing link June 21, 2009

Filed under: Midfield,New Signings — Son of a Gunner @ 11:43 pm

As promised, I will today be talking about the one necessary signing that Arsenal must make to make us truly competitive once more.

Before I move along, let us take a look at last season’s overral performance in the dfferent areas of the pitch.

Goalkeeper: Almunia has been very consistent last season and so there isn’t really a need to improve this area. At 31, (32 come next season) he still has quite a few years left at the top level. The concern is that Fabianski might not be ready. I know he has a lot of stick last season thanks to a few blunders but let’s not forget he is still only 24. Also, when Almunia first played for Arsenal, I’m sure you remember he was pretty crappy. I think Fabianski might come good, but he’s not ready.

Defence: We covered that yesterday.

Midfield: In central midfield, we have seen Denilson, Diaby, Ramsey, Song partner Fabregas at various stages of last season. Denilson played the most games of the lot, but he isn’t truly a natural partner to Fabregas. This is one area that most Gooners, rightly, are concerned about. The saying goes “the battle is often won or lost in midfield”, and I think this is very true.

I’m very concerned about this part of the team as it certainly is the weakest. I’m not even to go into our attacking players because we have simply to many firepower up front but not enough steel in the centre to steer he ball forward to our firepower up front where the bulk of the talent of the team lies.

So, the missing link is the natural ball-winner as the partner to our captain Fabregas. It is no secret that since Flamini the moneybag left, we have lost a lot of bite in midfield.

Diaby is a disaster last season in central midfield. And this is maddening because this was obviously his best position when he first joined the club. I still remember vividly that he was really pretty good before that horrible tackle at Sheffield United. After that, he still to have lost his tackling technique and improve his other offensive skills, which made him ‘not-midfielder, not-stirker’ in Wenger’s own words. Then what the heck is he??? To me, he was a major disappointment since his return from injury after injury. He never had a long enough run to establish his form and I think it’s high time we think about letting him go.

Ramsey has a much higher chance ot succeeding at Arsenal than Diaby would. He’s much younger and is already an estabished international. More importantly, he is a much tougher player. But he is not ready.

Denilson has a great engine, good technique, and would no doubt improve even further next season. But what he has proven so far is that he is a good understudy to Fabregas, and not a partner to him.

That leaves us with Alex Song, who is one of the most improved Arsena players last season. He was really coming into his own in the last lap of the season but I still feel he has much to learn about his positioning. A nautral ball-winner will know where to position himself in the best possibly way whenever possession is conceded and Song has still not gotten to that level yet. Personally I see him more as a central defender.

So then, who should we be signing for this vacancy? Let us first take a look at what the media has linked us with.

Lorik Cana – This man is a beast. If you think you have seen the worst kinda beastly player in the likes of Roy Keane, Mikael Essien or even Javier Mascherano, then you haven’t seen Cana in action. He is a mad man on the pitch and he gives double of what he receive on the pitch. He certainly looks like he can take care of himself on the field and he looks more likely to bully then be bullied. To me, he looks strong enough for the Premier League but his technique seem to be too poor to be an Arsenal player, so it seems more like a fabrication for me on this one.

Yaya Toure – He is eternally linked to Arsenal even since his brother Kolo joined years ago. When Kolo first established himself in the first team, he spoke of a younger brother who is technically and physically stronger than himself and that he would like to see Arsenal sign him. That brother turned out to be Yaya, and his brother turned out to be quite a scout. Perhaps he should be engaged as a scout now since his first team prospects is no longer that bright. One thing Gooners must know is this, Yaya did join Arsenal for a long trial some years back and he even turned out for the academy side as well as the reserves at Underhill. Fact remains, Wenger did not sign him then. A lot of conspiracy theories exists as to why he wasn’t signed. The most famous of which is that Arsene Wenger didn’t agree to a fee with his previous club. Others say Wenger was wrong to judge him not good enough, or that he has visa and work permit problems. All of which are no longer problems. However, whatever the truth behind the scenes, if it didn’t work out the first time round, it sure ain’t going to work now. Yaya will always be linked, but he will never join Arsenal. And you can quote me on that.

Felipe Melo – Strong midfield battler who looks like he is being groomed to take over Gilberto Silva at international level. I have only watched him a couple of times so it isn’t fair for me to pass judgement. However, what I have seen to-date makes me think he might be a suitable Arsenal player because he battles hard, is not afraid of 50/50 challenges and actually possesses good technique (what am I saying? He is Brazilian). I say let’s look pass his 17 yellow cards and 3 red cards in one season in the Serie A. The Premier League has always been a tougher league so I think he will have no problem fitting in, and we have Denilson to guide him around. Personally, I think there is some truth to this rumour, but whether or not we are successful in getting him is another matter altogether.

Manuel Veloso – I have seen him play in the last Euros and I purposely watched out for him and Gohkan Inler at the Euros as Arsenal was heavily linked to both players at the time. However, I must say I wasn’t very impressed with his performances. He was largely invisible, and not in the Gilberto Silva kind of way. But I can see he possesses good technique and is strong enough to defend the ball, qualities which might have brought attention from Wenger. However, I doubt this move will materialise but who knows for sure?

Gokhan Inler – I must say I was disappointed with what I saw. He wasn’t impressive in the least bit and I hear he is massive for Udinese, but I just can’t see it. The interest is genuine and he decided to stay until the end of the season instead of joining Arsenal last time round. Will he change his mind? I’m not sure and to be honest, I’m not sure I want him to.

From the above, who do you think Arsenal should sign to fill the void?

My personal choice is Felipe Melo, it’s high time we have another powerful Brazilian (not Baptista) to man our midfield so I say bring him to Emirates!

 

Thomas Vermaelen signs June 20, 2009

Good day everyone, I have been blogging about Arsenal on my personal blog since 2005 and since that period of time has seen the emergence of several Arsenal blogs, the personal favorite of mine being Arseblog followed closely by Gunnerblog and Goodplaya and A Cultured Left Foot. Unfortunately, outside of these 4 prominent ones I’m afraid there are many insensititve and poorly written blogs. As I have been blogging about Arsenal anyway, I’ve decided the time has come for me to consolidate all my Arsenal postings in one place instead of on my personal blog.

So on to the first post here.

Thomas Vermaelen has officially signed for Arsenal today.

For many of us Gooners who were crying out for a defensive signing, be it in central defence or in central midfield, this has got to be good news. For all the talk about Brede Hangeland or Sébastien Bassong being the targets, Arsenal went on to sign a player completely out of the media’s attention, which is typical Wenger (See Eduardo). If he turn out to have the same kind of impact as Eduardo did, then I’d be pleased.

All the talk about Arsenal needing height in the centre of defence is very much subjective. Personally, I think there i some truth in it but this tend to be overrated. Let’s put things in perspective: The season before the recently concluded one – our first choice central defensive pairing were Gallas and Toure, and the first choice defensive midfielder was Flamini. All 3 of whom are hardly giants in a league as tough as the Premier League.

But that didn’t stop Arsenal from being a genuine title contender for most of that season, until that game at Birmingham.

What I’m trying to say is, the concerns most Gooners have about Vermaelen’s height is overstated and should for now be left ignored. Let the Belgian show us what he can do defensively. There are world class defenders who are challenged vertically but has superb leap, much like Fabio Cannovaro. I have not noticed Vermaelen that much but I do know he can head the ball well, so let us continue our trust in Wenger on this one.

The biggest question now is, who is best to partner Vermaelen for next season? Let us take a look at the contenders:

William Gallas – For all the criticism leveled on the France international, let us not forget on his day he is a very good defender. Many have said that he is half the defender the used to be when he was at Chelsea. But personally I feel that he should never have been made captain and that has got to be one of Wenger’s few mistakes. Although this is a statement made in hindsight, as when we were leading the table, who were saying it was the wrong choice? It is people’s habit of saying ‘I told you so’ when things go wrong. I feel Gallas still have a lot of offer as his performances after the captaincy was stripped off him was the best he had in an Arsenal shirt. He has the experience too, something which we often complain we lack, so why sell him? But my concern is whether his heart is still with the club.

Kolo Toure – He is one of my all-time favorite players. He always wears his heart on his sleeve and works his socks off for the team. One can never doubt his commitment whenever he plays, even when he is having an off-day he never stop running, never stop trying. Therefore, to hear of his possible move to Manchester City is saddening. However, since his return from the last ACN and after contracting malaria, his pace (which is a big part of his defensive game) is no longer the same. This has affected his consistency against faster, world-class attackers. Will he regain his pace and consistency? At 28, time seem to be on his side but I have a bad feeling we have already seen the best of Toure. I sincerely hope he will prove me wrong.

Johan Djourou – Tall, strong, fast, technically sound. What more do you need of a defender? Experience and consistency of course. This will come with time, and playing opportunities which I feeel should be granted to him, given the current situation. His loan at Birmingham has in fact set him back as he was playing in central midfield for a technically poor side, thus he was quite apparently still adjusting to the pace of Arsenal’s passing when he returned last season. However, there is no doubt in my mind that he will become a top class defender one day. Will that day be sometime next season?

Philippe Senderos – Despite the harsh criticism leveled on him by Gooners all around the world, I actually think he has the qualities to be a top class defender. Most of the criticism began after he was out-muscled and outplayed by Didier Drogba. But tell me honestly, how many defenders in the world can keep Drogba quiet? For all his exprience in top flight football, Senderos is still only 23. Do anyone remember John Terry at 23? He was obviously talented but is prone to mistakes every game. Ditto Rio Ferdinand at 23. Look at the two of them now, best defenders in the Premier League, perhaps in Europe or the world. I say we take Senderos back, and give him another chance and be patient. He will blossom given the time and opportunity and I’d be gutted if I see him succeed elsewhere. The problem is I fear his opportunity is gone the moment Wenger released him on loan to Milan.

Mikael Silverstre – Multiple-title winning defender. That is the best I can say about him, but everyone can see his best years were at Manchester United. His inability to play at the top flight is made so obvious by Torres in that thrilling 4-4 draw last season it’s embarassing. He is not good enough for Arsenal, end of.

After listing the above, who would be your personal choice?

For me, it has to be Djourou followed by Gallas to partner Vermaelen. Toure can be our multi-functional defensive cover, if he stays.

Our next signing (hopefully there will be another one at least) should be a tough tackling, no-nonsense ball-winner. Again height should not be an issue. With that, we should be ready for next season.

In my next post, I will talk about this position, and the targets mentioned by the creative world media so far, as well as my personal choice.

Till then, sons of a Gun!