Tag Archives: Arsene Wenger

In Defence of a “true English gent”: Kevin Phillips

"Sorry, the toilet is currently occupied by Master Kevin Mark Phillips I'm afraid Mr S. Gerrard".

 

Referees have it easy, dont they? They hover behind football managers who time and again find themselves awkwardly standing face-to-face with a journalist post-match having to explain another controversial decision made by those in black (sometimes blue, or green, occasionally orange) that has occurred on the pitch. Last night it was Birmingham City general Alex McLeish’s turn to do so and explain just why referee Kevin Friend awarded his side a 77th minute penalty – which Craig Gardner scored to make it 2-2 against Man City, which was the final score – after striker Kevin Phillips fell inside the box after a collision with Patrick Vieira.

In a situation like this, those in question can 1) provide an in-depth analysis of why it was a penalty by saying, “For me that is a penalty because Kevin turned Vieira, has flicked the ball past him, and Vieira has clattered into him”; 2) add a bit of rhetoric to your case, “How is that not a foul?”; and if that doesn’t work and you start to panic 3) say something irrelevant like that your player who was involved in the incident is some sort of a saint or, better still, that “He is a true English gent”.

McLeish, who by the way never lies because he is a true Scottish lad who eats haggis and drinks Im Bru while wearing a kilt, decided to use all three in his defence of Phillips. Because if you were still unsure as to whether he did in fact dive – which, i must add, i don’t – with the first two replies, surely, being told the accused wears a top hat, sips port, has good table manners and is an all-round courteous young fellow is all the proof you need to see that the man is innocent, I tell you!

Too bad Cesc Fabregas isn’t English, hey Wenger? Maybe you could try a true Spanish gentilhombre perhaps?

 

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Who is to blame for Walcott’s omission?

  • Shocked Walcott wishes team ‘best of luck’
  • Martin Keown says Walcott is ‘a one-trick pony’

Arsenal’s Theo Walcott was the surprise omission from England manager Fabio Capello’s final 23-man squad for this summer’s World Cup in South Africa.

However, despite the media’s best efforts to blow up the Italian’s decision, many people in the game saw it coming.

Chris Waddle pretty much called it earlier in the year, when he said Walcott didn’t have a “football brain”.

Okay. So, we’ve got over the shock of Walcott being left out. The real question lies in why has the 21-year-old – who Capello crowned “one of our most important players” back in March – not progressed since his move from Southampton to the Gunners back in 2006?

Who’s to blame?

Former Arsenal defender Martin Keown told BBC 5live he believes Walcott has plenty to work on if he is to fulfill his full potential:

“He has become a bit of a one-trick pony in terms of going for the line. People just double up on him.

“When he has got time and space then he finds it a problem and he has got to sort that out with his game.

Keown, who made 42 appearances for England, feels the youngster’s loss of form is partly down to his current club manager Arsene Wenger:

“Under Capello it seemed as if he has been getting it right in the main, under Wenger, no, there has been a problem, whether or not that is the coaches’ fault, it has to be the players, he has just not played enough games.

I would have to agree with Keown’s observations. I’d also like to add that Walcott has suffered a number of serious injuries in the last couple of seasons. Exhibit A, B and C.

Wenger should be partly blamed for Walcott’s poor performances on the pitch, simply for playing him out of position.

The striker – yes striker not winger – has played on the right and left side of Arsenal’s midfield and has even played at right-back on the odd occasion as a substitute.

He has largely been used to help balance the team out as opposed to playing to his true strengths.

Support

When the Arsenal manager signed him, he said Walcott would eventually lead the line up front.

Well, after four years and now an omission from England’s World Cup squad, I think it’s time Walcott played in his best position and where he prefers to.

After surfing the web in search of support for Theo Walcott, this is all I could find.

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Senderos heading to Celtic on loan

Philippe Senderos: Heading to Parkhead?

Arsenal defender Philippe Senderos could move to Celtic later this week after the player and his manager, Arsene Wenger, said a deal would favour all parties.

The 24-year-old is desperate to gain regular first-team football to help his chances of making the Swiss national squad for this year’s World Cup Finals in South Africa.

Arsenal last week resigned Sol Campbell and Wenger admitted it may be beneficial for Senderos to seek regular football elsewhere with Celtic showing interest.

“There is an interest from Celtic, yes. It may happen,” he said.

“We have Sol Campbell and we have four centre backs.

“Philippe needs to play. He has not played for a long time and he needs to if he wants to go to the World Cup.”

Reports suggest Celtic manager Tony Mowbray is looking to strengthen his defence further, after capturing Dutch centre-back Jos Hooiveld from AIK Solna last weekend.

Senderos said he was honoured to be linked to the Glasgow team and said it would be perfect if a deal could happen between the clubs.

“I am very honoured that a big club like Celtic are interested in me and a loan deal right now would suit me perfectly,” he said.

“My main priority is to get back playing regular football. I really miss that.

“The World Cup this summer is a really big thing for me. I know that if I’m not playing regularly my chances of playing in South Africa will be badly affected.

“It would be my second World Cup and I want to get the best possible build-up to it.

“Unfortunately, I haven’t played a lot of football recently and that’s why I feel I have to leave Arsenal.

“Hopefully something will be in place over the next few days but I’ll wait and see.”

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Vermaelen proves Wenger is the Simon Cowell of football

The Belgium International Thomas Vermaelen has already proved a bargain at £10million, as his club Arsenal go from strength to strength.

Arsene Wenger wanted a defender during last summer. It was the Frenchman’s top target, with money – for once – not an issue. Arsenal fans had been crying out for a no-nonsense tank of a player throughout what was a below-par 08/09 season for the Gunners.

Barely a month had past since the end of the campaign and in came that defender.

Wenger was more than pleased with capturing a player he envisaged as the final block of stone in his aching defensive wall. Arsenal fans have seldom been treated to getting what they want from their manager. A defender is what they all wanted and so, to Wenger, a defender was what they got.

The "Verminator"

The "Verminator"

Only Thomas Vermaelen wasn’t exactly what the Arsenal faithful were anticipating. A relatively young recruit, at 23 years-old the Belgium had only ever been tested in the Dutch league. He stands just under 6ft, yet reports suggested he is a monster aerially both in defence and attack. This was the guy – the tough tackling, no holds bar soldier – who was going to put a stop to the comedy of errors ever present in the Gunners’ back four.

Well, Arsenal fans can be forgiven for feeling a tad pessimistic of the former Ajax captain. However, they cannot be forgiven for doubting Arsene “Simon Cowell” Wenger. Many saw the signing as a failure from the Arsenal boss. Many felt his decision not to recruit an experienced defender like Cannavaro – even the proven Hangeland – was ample evidence showing Le Professor had finally lost it.

Only Vermaelen leapt out of the starting blocks.

A commanding performance on his debut away to Everton, along with a goal to boot, left Arsenal fans murmuring to themselves as to whether Wenger had pulled yet another rabbit out of the hat.

More impressive displays – and cracking goals – followed, resulting in the defender picking up the club’s player of the month for both August and September.

He is already a fans favourite for his never say die attitude, even when the team seem to be cruising. Arsenal’s number 5 is now fondly and harmoniously known around the Emirates as the “Verminator”.

It is a nickname that shows admiration whilst aptly describing the heroic attributes the youngster brings to the team.

The Verminator is a warrior.

He’s the player Arsenal fans dreamt of. He is a footballer who breeds professionalism, tirelessly thriving to be the best, to win every ball, every challenge and every game. His game is built around guts, graft and a touch of class.

Andrei Arshavin, the pint-sized Russia, was the star buy from Wenger in January. His goals have and will continue to grab the headlines from starry-eyed plaudits. The Verminator’s resilience should be heralded in similar fashion. He is the team’s hard man, a key reason as to why Arsenal have started so well and why his partnership with Gallas has blossomed. Where he is the chalk (toughness), Gallas is the cheese (artistry).

As Musa Okwonga pointed out in his book A Cultured Left Foot, every successful team needs a Verminator:

The hard man is a feature of any successful football team: its guardian, its cornerstone, and its dark heart…(they) are the anvils upon which the reputations of many opponents as beaten or broken altogether.

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Van Persie wants speedy recovery

Robin Van Persie carried off injured against Italy

Arsenal striker Robin Van Persie is having horse placenta fluid massaged into his injured ankle to help speed up the recovery.

Van Persie went off injured after 10 minutes whilst on international duty with Holland last Saturday against Italy.

Doctors first feared the 26 year-old would be sidelined for the rest of the season, but a scan revealed that he does not need surgery.

“The prognosis is that I will be out for four to six weeks,” Van Persie told Dutch television station NOS.

It’s a blow to Arsenal as the Dutchman is the club’s top goalscorer, who also picked up the Barclays player of the month for October.

Arsenal already have Nicolas Bendtner and Theo Walcott out injured, and so Arsene Wenger only has Eduardo, Andrey Arshavin and rookie Sancez Watt to help fill the void.

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