Category: Arsene Wenger

Arsene Wenger Gets Special Zipper For His PUMA Jacket

It’s always nice to see when a coach/player can make fun of himself. To a degree it humanizes them and makes them more respectable. Although I still personally dislike Arsene Wenger as a coach I have to admit I found this video humorous and it helps me see him in a slightly different light. His big, long puffy coat has always made me laugh and it is great to know he is aware of it. To see what this video is referencing please watch the video below.

P.S. I’m blogging about this mainly as an excuse to repost my George Costanza/Arsene Wenger photoshop mashup that I still find hilarious but felt no one fully appreciated when I originally put it up (Perhaps there’s not as big of a cross section of Seinfeld fans and English Premier League fans as I originally thought)

Arsene Wenger

 

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Hilarious Arsenal Parody Videos

First off we have Thrift Shop – Arsenal Deadline Day Remix:

The next video is a parody video welcoming Ozil to Arsenal featuring Kanye West’s Gold Digger beat:

Gervinho Began the Summer’s Domino Effect

Transfer deadline day has come and gone and unless you are an Real Madrid, Tottenham, or Arsenal fan, there’s not too much to really comment on.  Liverpool made a couple small splashes by bringing in Victor Moses on loan and grabbing Sakho from PSG.  Felliani became Manchester United’s sloppy seconds when first choice midfielder, Herrera, ended up falling through as well as a last minute bid for Khedira.  Everton were able to reinvest some of the Felliani money and buy James McCarthy while taking Lukaku and Gareth Barry on loan.  A few lower level deals and a few more loan moves rounded out the Premier League action aside from two players – Gareth Bale and Mesut Ozil.

Tottenham

The transfer of Bale to Madrid had been known for some time now since Tottenham were spending cash like Pacman Jones in a strip club (sorry for the American Football reference).  It was well documented that prior to the North London Derby on Sunday, Arsenal had spent a total of £0.00 and Tottenham had spent £100m.  Even with the ridiculous cash outlay, Tottenham was unable to withstand Arsenal’s determination and seemed to lack the cohesiveness (and rightfully so) of a team who had not played many games together.

Now that the Bale saga is over for Spurs, they can finally focus on what they have brought in and not what they were sending out (similar to the Arsenal/Van Persie situation last year).  Arsenal had brought in Giroud and Podolski and seemed to lack the understanding of each other until the second half of the season.  Will it take that long for the likes of Lamela, Soldado, and Paulinho to gel?  Spurs fans are hoping not, but it is a troubling sign thus far that their only two goals have come by the way of penalties and have yet to score in open play over the first three matches, despite winning two of them.  They seemed to lack the offensive spark that Bale had provided for them the last few seasons.  Once again, very similar to Arsenal last season following the departure of Van Persie.  So all is not lost as the season is still young for the new-look Spurs squad.

Real Madrid

Real Madrid broke their own transfer record by combining the previous record holder, Ronaldo, with the current record holder, Bale.  All I have to say is I pity the fullbacks of the opposition.  Good luck trying to keep up with Ronaldo AND Bale attacking from both sides.  Was Bale’s 21 Premier League goals from a season ago worth £85m?  What we do know is that his talent and potential is very real.  Bale should find it easier in La Liga to breakdown defenses like he did so well with in the Premier League.

However, with spending so much money on one player (as well as several other players brought in), it was necessary for Madrid to 1. make room for Bale and 2. recoup some of the transfer fee that they so willingly threw at Spurs.  With an already crowded midfield, Madrid had a tough choice to make as to which midfielder to send out.  They had to choose between Khedira, Xabi Alonso, Modric, Ozil, Di Maria and of course, Ronaldo.  They offloaded Kaka’s high wages to AC Milan and it seemed like at least one more player had to leave the obviously congested midfield upon Bale’s arrival – enter Arsenal.

Arsenal

Welcome aboard: New Arsenal team-mates Lukas Podolski (left) and Mesut Ozil (right) pose with a club shirt

Arsene Wenger had been feeling the heat.  By the end of the transfer window, he started lashing back at the media with his little quips.  Aside from what most Arsenal fans though, he actually did have a plan, even if it did take until the last hour of the transfer window to announce it.  Early in the window, Arsene brought in a young, albeit unproven, striker in Yaya Sanogo and then recently brought back Flamini, neither costing a penny in transfer fees.  Arsenal fans had seen it before and figured that was the last of Arsene’s signings.  However, once the Bale deal went through, Arsene pounced at the opportunity to buy one of Madrid’s world class midfielders, which now seemed like his plan all along.  Was Arsene really talking to Madrid about Higuain early in the window, or trying to sure up a deal for Ozil as early as July?

Despite the obvious excitement for Ozil, Arsene still left some holes in the squad.  With Oxlade-Chamberlain and Podolski out for months, the attacking options come down to Giroud and an unproven Sanogo.  Obviously, Arsene shows tremendous confidence in Giroud and he has produced a goal in 4 of Arsenal’s 5 match so far this season, but it is still a risky proposition to only have one viable striking option.  Theo Walcott has played there in a pinch before, but is much better with his speed out wide.  Could Bendtner actually be an option for Arsene?  The defense is also thin with Vermaelen out for some time.  Gibbs and Sagna have missed significant time the last couple of seasons.  That leaves Nacho, Mertesacker, and Koscielny, hardly a deep group.  Arsene is taking a gamble that his current squad, with the addition of Ozil, will hold up until depth and possibly a top striker could come in January to get a push for some actual trophies – not just finishing top 4.

Gervinho

So how does Gervinho fit into all of this?  Let me spell it out:

1) Roma buys Gervinho from Arsenal making Lamela expendable

2) Tottenham buys Lamela to send out Bale

3) Madrid buys Bale making Ozil expendable

4) Arsenal buys Ozil

In Summary, Arsenal swapped Gervinho + £35m for Ozil – superb business.  In addition, Spurs not only lost their best player and playmaker, they allowed Arsenal the ability to purchase one of the world’s most creative players.

Probably not what Tottenham had in mind when they decided to cash in on Bale.

Cardiff City Makes Massive Statement

Two weeks down, two big upsets so far.  Last week saw Arsenal lose to lowly Aston Villa as the Gunners were odds on favorites to at least get points from the match.  This week provided a thrilling 3-2 upset victory for Cardiff City over Manchester City.  In case you missed the highlights, check them out here:

 

 

Last seasons Championship winners made a massive statement to the rest of the Premier League with this win.  Down 1-0 after Dzeko’s masterful strike, Cardiff showed great resiliency as they kept attacking the Man City defense.  Aron Gunnarsson cleaned up a rebound off Joe Hart to level the scoring at 1-1.  Two corner kicks subsequently found the head of Frazier Campbell as the Man City defenders looked rather unconvincing to say the least.  Clearly Man City misses their rock at center back with Vincent Kompany sidelined for at least a month.  Lescott and  Javi Garcia looked rather lost out there at times, especially on the two set piece goals by Campbell.  With Kompany out for a somewhat lengthy spell, Man City may be in the market for a center half to sure up the defense in Kompany’s absence.

Manchester City will try to right the ship next weekend against another Championship promoted club, Hull City who downed Norwich this past weekend.  Losses to two newly promoted clubs in a row would be a disastrous start for the Premier League runner-ups from last season.  Meanwhile, Cardiff will try to continue their momentum from their unlikely victory next weekend when they face Everton.  Should their confidence continue to grow, Cardiff could be a team to reckon with this season and will hardly be an easy 3 points for the top clubs – just ask Man City.

Liverpool and Tottenham continued their winning ways with each earning consecutive 1-0 victories in the first two matches.  Liverpool have looked comfortable in their wins over Stoke and Villa, but will be tested next weekend as they welcome Manchester United to Anfield, which will provide a good barometer for where the club stands against the top of the table clubs.

On the other side, Tottenham are set up for an early season Derby with rivals Arsenal next weekend.  The two clubs may be distracted for different reasons.  Arsenal look to bring in quality players before deadline day to provide some relief for their oft-injured squad.  Tottenham will be focusing on either the sale or retaining of their highly-coveted winger, Gareth Bale.  At the moment, Tottenham look like the better squad even without Bale, but Arsenal have 5 days to do some business before Saturdays match if they would like to bring in some players before deadline day.  A victory or draw tomorrow will provide a chance for Arsenal to recruit some players wanting Champion’s League action this season.  However, Arsene Wenger’s transfer ambitions seem to be lacking, so the Arsenal faithful shouldn’t be holding their breath.

Arsenal and Liverpool: Tale of Contrasting Starts

Week 1 of the 2013/2014 Premier League season is a wrap.  Most of the usual suspects managed points without a hitch as 5 of the top 7 clubs from last season either won or tied (Manchester City has yet to play).  Interestingly enough, one of the more controversial and most talked about clubs of the summer, Arsenal, was the lone loser of the bunch.  Not only did they lose the match, they lost key players on an already painstakingly thin squad to injury.  What will go down as one of the more peculiar summer sagas in recent memory, Arsene Wenger refused to strengthen his squad prior to the beginning of the season and it cost him – big time.

A 3-1 home defeat to last years table bottom dweller’s Aston Villa is hardly how any club would like to begin a new campaign.  Now Arsene may be forced to enter the transfer market based on injuries to Ramsey, Rosicky, Gibbs and Oxlade-Chamberlain.  The most serious being Oxlade-Chamberlain’s potential to miss the entire season should ligament damage be found.  This is on top of the already injured Arteta, Vermalean and Monreal.  To add insult to injury, Koscielny received two yellow cards which will see him miss a match.  Arsene sure has his work cut out for him before the transfer window closes.

With the latest reports out of Liverpool being an apology from Suarez, all signs point to him staying put, at least for the rest of this season anyway.  Even without Suarez, who is banned for the first 8 matches for pulling a Mike Tyson on Ivanovic’s arm, Liverpool looked well enough without him and pulled out a 1-0 victory over Stoke.  A promising start without their much maligned star player.

With the result, the question needs to be asked: Should Liverpool actually sell Suarez this season?  They looked fine without him and they could use the 45m-50m or so to strengthen an already decent squad.  Is Suarez worth missing out on a potential 50m payday to put up with another 7 banned matches and all the potential problems that may arise throughout the new season only to go through the same saga next summer?  After all, he’s one more chomp away from being banned for an entire season.

The problem is, and what Arsenal have quickly found out, is that there is a lack of striking options available in the market.  It’s easy to look at the Suarez situation and say that Liverpool could take the money and unload a problematic, yet superstar caliber player and invest in the rest of the squad.  The fact is, there’s not many investments to be had; at least the ones worthwhile.  Lewandowski was just given a pay raise to remain at Dortmund after it was a foregone conclusion of his departure to Bayern.  Higuain, Jovetic, Negredo, Schurrle, Falcao, and even David Villa have moved on to “greener” pastures.  That represents almost the entire striking market over the summer.  So who’s left?  Benteke signed an extension to stay at Villa.  Michu could be had for the right price, but it remains to be seen whether he was a one hit wonder last season.  Rooney seems to be the highest profile forward “available” and even his availability is questionable according to Moyes.

Would you swap Suarez to Arsenal if it meant grabbing Rooney from United?  An interesting scenario and highly debatable no matter how unlikely it would seem.  But that is exactly the dilemma Liverpool face when it comes to dealing with Suarez.  It seems like a wiser decision to hope Suarez has a controversy-free season and regains his 2012 form and then sell him next summer when more striking options could be had.   In my opinion, I would keep him and try to push for a top 4 finish.  The effects would be twofold.  Arsenal look like a mid-table squad at best, which would remove a top team from above them while retaining one of the best finishers in the game to make that push for the Champions League.  Should Liverpool actually attain Champions League action next season, they could then either retain Suarez if they think that would make him happy or sell him and then have Champions League football to coax another high profile transfer or two.

On the flip side, Arsenal are quickly spiraling downward after just one match.  Everyone and their mother knows they have a huge cash reserve.  They are more than desparate to buy players now.  Any club Arsenal approaches from here on out will be able to play hardball and force Arsenal’s hand to raise the price on its players.  Arsene sure picked the wrong season to offload so many players while pulling the head-scratching move of standing pat when it came to bringing players in.  Now Arsenal face a shortage of players for their all-important Champions League qualifying match this week.  Should they lose on Wednesday, all hell will break lose at the Emirates.  Which would lead to the seemingly inevitable realization that this may be Arsene’s last season with Arsenal as his potential contract renewal will most likely be questioned by all the Arsenal faithful.

It’s amazing how perceptions can change after just the first game of a new season.  Liverpool go from an above average club with a problematic player to contending for a Champions League spot as well as retaining their star player.  While Arsenal go from a club in great form with a promising young nucleus to a squad in turmoil after injuries and suspect defense.  In summary, Liverpool’s outlook is very promising while Arsenal is, for lack of a better word, screwed.

Transfer Confirmations and Rumors Galore

Since my last transfer rumors post back in June, we’ve seen some players take the plunge and actually join new clubs and others have rumors swirling with different clubs:

  • Cavani is confirmed to be off to PSG instead of the rumored Chelsea
  • Fabio Contrao is now being linked with Tottenham
  • Gonzalo Higuain has been transferred to Arsenal then Napoli, yet nothing is confirmed to this point despite the latest reports saying a 37m bid from Napoli has been accepted
  • Fellaini remains at Everton and it seems talk of his “release clause” being activated was complete BS
  • Manchester United have made a 3rd bid for Cesc Fabregas after we reported they were interested in the beginning of June

So, with those 5 rumors, only one has officially come to fruition.

Recently, I posted about Arsenal possibly splashing some big cash this transfer window.  So far, none of those have happened for Arsene Wenger, much to the dismay of the Gunner’s fans.

  • Higuain (mentioned above)
  • Rooney now looks like Chelsea will be his most likely destination should he leave Old Trafford (IMO, I think he stays)
  • Felliani (mentioned above)
  • Lars Bender looks like he will be staying at Leverkusen, at least for this year
  • Stevan Jovetic is a confirmed Chelsea signing and a good potential Tevez replacement, who is confirmed to be off to Juventus
  • Micah Richards is still at Man City and his transfer rumors have cooled down some
  • Fernando Torres looks to be staying with Chelsea at least for the time being
  • Julio Cesar is still available
  • David Villa has been confirmed to stay in Spain and move to Atletico Madrid

The latest confirmed transfers and rumors involve some players not previously mentioned:

  • The 20 year old Brazilian Bernard has been the talk of the Brazilian media recently with a reported 21m move to Arsenal set to be confirmed after the copa libertores final on Thursday.  He has also been linked with Tottenham and Liverpool.  (Not many outside of Brazil know much about him but he does have some impressive highlights)
  • Soldado is being linked with a 25m move to Tottenham from his current club Valencia, although the latest reports suggest talks have broken down
  • Benfica winger Eduardo Salvio is linked with a 30m move to Chelsea
  • The puzzling rumors regarding Juan Mata continue as a potential Arsenal target (I would put this at about a -3% chance of actually happening)
  • Liverpool have reportedly made an 18m offer for Ajax midfielder Christian Eriksen
  • Aston Villa forward Chistian Benteke received a wage boost to remain at Villa next season
  • Tiago Alcantara is off to Bayern Munich as they add yet another midfielder that is already world class
  • Fellow American Jozy Altidore has officially signed with Sunderland
  • Isco turned down the chance to join Manchester City and went with Real Madrid instead
  • The latest reports on Gareth Bale see a 6 year deal reached with a move to Real Madrid
  • Luis Suarez’s suitors are still reported to be either Arsenal or Real Madrid should Liverpool decide to sell

Next week I will be posting Part 2 (of 3) of my Barclay’s Premier League Predictions.  They will be based on the above confirmed transfers and rumors.  As some squads have had some notable changes, expect the predictions to change from Part 1 posted 6 weeks ago.

Will Arsene Wenger Change His Meager Ways?

The summer transfer window is “officially” open.  For Arsene Wenger, time is running out for his chance to win over his critics and actually put Arsenal’s cash reserves to use.  The media knows Wenger has at least 70m in his war chest this summer.  Knowing that, Arsenal are being linked with more than a dozen different players already.  From Higuain to Rooney to Fellaini to David Villa to even Fernando Torres.  Either Wenger really is changing his spending habits or the media is just spewing rumors because it can (probably a little of both).  Below is a list of players Arsenal are reportedly after and my thoughts on each, in no particular order.

  • Gonzalo Higuain – To me, this seems like the most obvious and likely transfer for Arsenal.  The player wants out of his current team because he has fallen out of favor.  That team is looking to sell and Wenger knows it.  Sounds like your prototypical Wenger transfer to me.  However, he will have to break the Arsenal transfer record, 15m for Arshavin (ouch), to bring him in.  Giroud is a good player, but not the type of player to carry a squad to points – Higuain could be that guy.
  • Wayne Rooney – Another player who has fallen out of favor with his current squad, however, also happens to be the face of the club at the moment.  Wenger will have to overpay for one of England’s most prominent players.  ‘Wenger’ and ‘overpaying’ just doesn’t belong in the same sentence.  Personally, I think Rooney stays at United.  We have heard his name as a possible transfer target for years now and always ends right back where he started.  Going by Wenger’s history, this just doesn’t sound like an ideal transfer.  Overpaying for a controversial player at the upper end of his 20’s.  Why not just pay Van Persie to keep him around?  If I were Wenger and had a choice between Higuain and Rooney, I take Higuain.
  • Marouane Fellaini – Since the departure of Alex Song and the lack of availability of Abou Diaby, Arsenal have been in need of a physically strong midfield presence.  Fellaini definitely checks those boxes to a T.  His release clause is 25m so Arsenal will yet again have to break the bank.  Would he make the squad better?  Absolutely.  Is he worth 25m + wages?  That’s debatable.  However, losing Fellaini would be a huge blow to Everton.  I think there is a slight possibility of this transfer happening as it fills a need for Arsenal, however, for the same reason Wenger won’t buy Rooney, he will not overpay for talent.
  • Lars Bender – One of the newest names linked with Arsenal has been reported by The Mirror.  They say that Arsenal had around a 20m bid rejected by Leverkusen.  It is reported that the club do not want to sell.  You can’t fault a club for not wanting to sell one of its top players.  However, it is worth noting for the next few transfer windows that Wenger will most likely keep the interest in the German and could potentially end up at the Emirates at some point, just probably not during this transfer window.
  • Stevan Jovetic – The young Fiorentina forward has been one of the first names linked with a move to Arsenal since the end of 2012.  I haven’t had the chance to watch much of Jovetic other than some YouTube clips, but from what I did watch, he honestly reminded me of a young Rooney – specifically his skills on the ball and long range shooting.  Jovetic can also play about any attacking position from central striker to attacking midfielder to out on the wing – similar to Rooney.  It’s hard to judge a player simply by watching highlight clips on YouTube, however, what I did see was very impressive and it’s no wonder Wenger is interested.
  • Micah Richards – I actually like this transfer idea.  A player who has possibly lost his starting place at his current club and is, or will be, a position of need for Arsenal as Bacary Sagna enters 30 years of age.  Richards is a young English player who has the physical presence a Premier League defender should have as well as good pace and aerial ability.  Manchester City would be looking to sell and I think it’s the type of “bargain” Wenger typically looks for and at the reported fee of 12m, he wouldn’t exactly be breaking the bank.
  • Clement Grenier – To be honest, I don’t know much about this player except for the fact he seems to be highly regarded by Arsenal and his current club Lyon.  Arsenal have been linked with the 22 year old for a while now, but recently had their latest offer rejected by Lyon.  From a tactical standpoint, this transfer makes sense.  One of Grenier and Cazorla would occupy the attacking midfielder position while the other would be sent out on the wing.  This would be an instant upgrade over Ramsey, who is a good player, but might better be suited to provide depth off the bench rather than a consistent starter.  Unfortunately, it looks like Lyon covet their playmaker too much which would make Arsenal have to up the offer and will so many other transfer targets, that money may be able to be spent elsewhere.
  • Fernando Torres – I was very surprised to see Arsenal linked with Torres.  It is not the prototypical Wenger player.  He has struggled mightily (to say the least) since joining Chelsea.  That’s not to say he can’t still produce some goals, but for his transfer fee/wage package, he’s not exactly a bargain.  I highly doubt Wenger goes out and gets Torres, unless Chelsea were simply looking to offload him for 10m or so, then I could see Arsene take that chance and one that could pay huge dividends.
  • Julio Cesar – During the Confederations Cup final broadcast, the ESPN announcer claimed that a deal has been reached for Julio Cesar to join the Gunners and will be announced shortly.  With Vito Mannone gone and Fabianski potentially seeking first team action at another club, this transfer actually makes a lot of sense.  Cesar showed in the Confederations Cup that he is still a top class keeper in his mid 30’s.  Szczesny is young and still has a lot to learn at the position.  Who better to mentor him than one of the top keepers in the world?
  • David Villa – Villa was more heavily linked over the winter transfer window than at the present time.  Barcelona rejected Arsenal’s bid 6 months ago.  That’s not to say Wenger won’t try again this summer.  I think Villa makes perfect sense for Arsenal.  He would be relatively cheap (considering his age), but is still a clinical finisher and great player going forward who still have a few good years left in the tank.  He could be very dangerous linking up with fellow Spanish teammate Santi Cazorla.

The media strongly links all of these players with a move to the Emirates.  The first 5  players listed would each cost AT LEAST 33% more than Arsenal’s all-time record transfer fee paid.  So, keep that in mind as you read about Arsenal transfer rumors.  I think a lot of Arsenal supporters lose that sense of reality and simply get caught up in the quality of names being thrown around and lose sight of what is actually realistic.

Realistically, I could see Higuain. Cesar, David Villa, and Richards as the most likely newcomers based on price and Wenger’s spending history.  I do believe that Arsenal will end up with one of Higuain, Jovetic, or Rooney, but I highly doubt more than one.

Every transfer window, huge names are thrown around as possible Arsenal targets, yet its supporters are left disappointed and angry at Wenger.  In that way, I feel sorry for Wenger.  He can’t control what the media spews as potential transfer targets.  With that said, he has no reason this summer not to buy at least three players worth 15m-20m.  I think any Arsenal fan would be happy with any combination of 3 players from the above list, which is not asking for too much really.

Will Wenger ever change his transfer tactics?  He has 60 days to prove he can.