The Armchair Gooner

An Arsenal blog bringing you news, opinion and humour on a daily basis. Well, I'll try at the very least…

Ballsy Arsenal to hold Robin to the remainder of his contract…

All this waiting could turn your hair grey…

Afternoon folks.

I was intending today’s pots to be a simple round up of bits and bobs. Then I came across a story attributed to he highly dubious Goal.com.

In one of those articles that have ‘sources’ and are about as reputable as a 45-year-old prostitute with a penchant for thievery, fresh claims have emerged regarding a particularly ballsy stance by the club we all love.

Allegedly, Arsenal are intending to hold Robin to the final year of his contract. Here’s a bit of the text I read:

A senior Arsenal source told Goal.com:  We are going to keep him and hold him to his current contract ».

When he is 30 it will be easier to re-sign him and in the last year [of his deal], we hope he will change his mind about wanting to leave ”

(If you’d like to read the whole article – including maddening auto-play videos – you can do so by clicking here.)

I’ve got to admit I’m surprised, and slightly refreshed. My first thought was the club would meekly accept his decision, and cash in on him while they still can. Assuming, of course, that there is one iota of truth to the this tory – I’m not convinced at all – I am not sure it’s the right choice.

Robin is a brilliant forward. If he gives us another year like his last, then it will have been unquestionably the correct thing to do. However, that’s a big “if” in my book. Will his heart be truly in the cause? I’m not so sure. Will his detrimental words aimed at the club and his teammates have an adverse affect on certain aspects? I’d say that is more than likely to be the case.

Then you have the biggest question of all; will he reproduce that form, and stay away from the injuries that have plagued the vast majority of his career? There is no way of predicting that, but hindsight and past experience suggest a repeat is unlikely.

I have always been of the opinion if a player want’s to leave, he should be allowed to. No fuss, no hassle, no bargaining; pack their bags and replace them. Loyalty is something of a fallacy in the modern game, Players come and go, and no club should ever be dictated to by, or reliant upon, one player.

However, there is another way of looking at this. If Robin leaves in 2013, he’ll have almost certainly left behind his best years in an Arsenal shirt. At 30-years-old, he’ll be on the decline. His big opportunity for a bumper contract is now, and if that’s truly what he wants, I fully expect him to try and force a move away in the next week – something that would hardly surprise me.

Where this goes now is anyone’s guess. The story could be a total fabrication, but if true, it at least shows there is intent at the club to retain our stars whilst we have a say in the matter. I expect more to follow.

Thanks for reading today, you lovely creatures. Post a comment below with your views on the subject.

Arsenal could/should bid for Neymar and Ganso.

Neymar soon realised sticking dead animals to his head was painful

Evening folks.

Geez. I wish the new season would hurry up and get here. At present. my days consist of hopefully opening up various website, only to be met with crushing disappointment when I discover there’s bugger all happening.

I could mention the interminable saga of Robin van Persie, but, quite frankly, I’m beginning to just wish he’d do us all a favour and leave – all this waiting isn’t helping him, us or the club itself.

What I’d like to talk about is Arsenal’s transfer policy. For years now, we have admirably made do with what we have at our disposal. Financially, we’re the 4th richest club in the world, yet when it comes to transfers, the board seems happier with sustainability and little risk. Selling our stars on for huge prices now seems to be a regular occurance.

I don’t dispute that prudence financially is a smart approach in football’s current climate of mega-rich investors, FFP and uncertainty. You only need look at Rangers as an example of what poorly managed debt can do to a huge club. What I do debate is our insistence on not using what we have.

Arsenal – from what I’m told – have money. If we wanted to shell out £30m on a player, we could. What irks me is that we won’t. Spending somewhere in that region on players like Neymar or Ganso isn’t going to destroy the club – chances are, we’d sell them on after 4 years for a huge profit, anyway.

There has to be a point when we realise that the current model is working to keep the club secure, but it’s affecting our ability to compete. Football has changed drastically since the days of Wenger’s greatest success. Whether we care to admit or not; money rules these days. The clubs that have it – Chelsea, Man City, Madrid and Barcelona – will always be the ones that sign the best players.

I’m not saying we should abandon all the good work we’ve done – not at all. Personally, I believe that the is a medium in which we should operate, and an greater level of competitiveness/player retention would come if we at least tried to slug it out with the big boys. Arsenal are far from a David matching up to a Goliath, Arsenal are far from restricted by anything other than our own policy.

If I asked anyone reading this if a bit of uncertainty financially would come on the back of signing Neymar for £40m – how many of you would be happy to accept that? I’m not suggesting the owners do anything stupid, but I’m getting a little tired of losing world-class players every summer. I’d like Arsenal to start buying them.

That’s all for today, folks. I shall return tomorrow. Please leave a comment or two in the handy section below.

Arsenal need player ‘A’ and player ‘B’ to compete…

Theo loved sticking a wet finger in Gervinho’s ear.

Morning, you splendidly attired creatures. You all look especially lovely this morning. That’s a lovely sweater-vest you have on.

When things are quiet in the world of Arsenal, when footballing news is taken up with John Terry’s court fiasco; on occasion, I truly wonder what I can write that isn’t ubiquitous, or the kind of homogenous regurgitation of news you might encounter elsewhere.

I ponder, and I ponder a bit more.

This morning, I figured I’d just let rip with what comes off the top of my head. Usually, this results in a barrage of abuse in the comments. I’m nothing if not a glutton for punishment.

As time passes, and the season draws ever closer; I begin to worry. My mind is still fresh with the horrors of last summer’s business and the hapless manner in which it was conducted. With Robin’s epic saga seemingly no closer a resolution, I worry a year on, we’ll endure something similar.

After worrying a little while longer, I slap the pessimistic wretch in me. “Have a little faith, James” I declare. “Arsenal made those mistakes once, the signings of Giroud and Podolski already show you there unlikely to make them twice”

And I’m right. We have to have a little faith the club won’t repeat that kind of faux-pas. With a rational head on my shoulders, I start to think of areas in which the team could be strengthened.

Arsenal defence needs work. Perhaps the most underestimated signing thus far is Steve Bould. The man was a defender in the truest footballing sense of the word. He was a integral part of one of the greatest back four’s our club has had, and if there is anyone capable of drumming our troops into order, it’s him. We have the players. Our first choice defence is very solid on paper. What they need is a little bit of organisation – somebody to tell Kieran Gibbs he shouldn’t be strolling around the centre circle when the opposistion are on the attack.

With Kyle Bartley stepping up to the first team, I’m not sure we need any huge investment in that area. Where I think we can improve is midfield.

Firstly, and as many have stated ad nauseam in previous weeks; we need a defensive holding midfielder. Yann M’Vila; he’s the name on everyone’s lips and the guy certain to solve all our problems. Or so folks would have you believe. They’ll be no quick fix here. No one player can come in and make us impenetrable, but a player who sticks to that task and doesn’t wander off up field trying to be Rivaldo would certainly stop us leaking a few goals.

Let’s not forget Wilshere is back, too. He has that creative spark, plus he knows how to put his foot in and win the ball. We might even get to see Diaby for longer than 20 minutes…

The point to all this is simple; I don’t think the current Arsenal squad are that far away from being able to compete. We have good players at the club, and if Robin leaves and we act quickly to replace him, I’d be happy with the sate of the team for the new season. If Arsenal can bring in M’Vila, and a proven striker to share the burden up front with Giroud, we’ll be looking pretty good.

Maybe there’s even room for Theo if he re-signs.

Aplogies for today’s post, it’s not one of my best. Also, apologies if you’re a follower of my Twitter account as I won’t be using it at all for the next week – I shall explain my reasons once that time has passed.

Thanks for reading today, you beautiful bastards. The comments are below. I look forward to being called names…

New away kit, Egyptian on his way, mystery Spaniards and trialists.

“Right. We’ll all look stern and focused. Alex, you can look slightly aloof and wear ridiculously large shorts”.

Mornin’ gorgeous.

The new kit is pretty damn nice, isn’t it? When I first saw it, my initial thoughts were of how much it reminded me of the suit worn by Gene Wilder in the original Willy Wonka film – not the one with Johnny Depp looking like a creepy version of Michael Jackson.

Now, however, after repeated exposure, it’s really grown on me. I do prefer the classic yellow and blue as our away strip, but purple is a bit different, and it’s immeasurably better than last years Wycombe Wanderers-esque debacle.

There’s a fair bit of the usual transfer fluff around today, but nothing I’d consider concrete or particularly exciting. We haven’t bid for Messi, yet. In typically Arsenal fashion, we are being linked to a player I didn’t know the first thing about until I read his bio. That player, Egyptian defender Milo, is said to be – understandably – very keen to move to Arsenal. He plays at left-back, and I’ve truly very little information to offer other than that.

The ‘ITK’ folks will probably have stats.  They’ll probably have a full, comprehensive report on everything from his assist rate to his favourite cheese. It’ll all be made up, mind you. Anyone else getting just a bit tired of that bunch? You know, the people who pomp around Twitter with their self-important declarations and revelry when one of their blatant fabrications actually comes to fruition.  Gets on my chuffin’ nerves, it does. Don’t even get me started on Caught Offside….

One such rumour from one such fellow said Arsenal would be signing someone from Spain. Someone from Spain’s Euro 2012  squad. Of course, this sent network sites into speculative overdrive. Personally, I think it’s bollocks.

There are plenty of players from that squad I’d like, but it won’t happen. So confident I am of it just being another bunch of drivel, I will gladly dance through Bristol in hot-pants and a boob-tube if it comes true. You can hold me to that statement.

In news that’s true, Kyle Bartley has made to the step up to Arsenal’s first team. Good for him. He’s a player I think has that toughness to him we lack at the back on occasion. I hope he’ll get a few chances to impress.

Another with the chance to impress is Caen’s 17-year-old striker, M’Baye Niang. We have the youngster on a week-long trial with a view to transferring him for £5m. “Another forward?” I hear you declare in bewilderment. Yes, but he certainly sounds like one for the future. Granted, there are areas of the squad that need to be addressed first, but if the opportunity is there to have a look at him, then we absolutely should do it. I’m sure there are still other plans afoot to strengthen our midfield.

And that’s about it for today, folks. Thanks for reading. Please drop me some more of your lovely comments in the handy section below.

Is Robin van Persie about to pull a dramatic and bizarre U-turn to re-sign?

Don’t get your hopes up…

Morning, folks.

Yesterday, there were rumours abound. Before I get into having a bit of a blather about them, I’d like to make something abundantly clear; I really wouldn’t get your hopes up. With the amount of opportunists out there happy to utilise misinformation and poppycock to gain a bit of attention for themselves, I was expecting stories of this ilk to ‘break’ at some point. For those of you who haven’t heard, check out the tweet picture I took below:

It’s worth mentioning that, although the story was reported by various sources,  Sky Sports were very quick to take it off their page once they’d published it. That hardly speaks volumes for it’s authenticity. Of course, for all it’s likely mendacity, it does at the very least make for an interesting point of discussion.

A few days ago, Daniel Cowan – author of North London Is Red  and fellow TDKR enthusiast – posted an interesting article about the possibility of Robin “doing a Rooney”. It certainly isn’t beyond the realms of probability that Robin and the feculent, Kees Vos pre-planned his statement to force the club’s hand – either way – or he is feeling a degree of regret having seen it go public and cause a maelstrom of supporter disapproval.

At this juncture, the entire saga is becoming passé and really rather tedious. Like many of you guys, my only real wish at this stage is for a swift resolution. Robin van Persie has dropped several notches in my estimation, and there remains a huge part of me that feels he should leave the club – regardless of any second thoughts on his part. His actions were reprehensible, and they’ll be damage done in some way, shape or form if he does stay at Arsenal. Will others follow his lead? Will offering him a new contract in lieu of such antics only open the floodgates for others to think they can hold the club to ransom should its ideals and ambitions not match their own?

Of course; from a purely footballing point of view, having Robin van Persie at Arsenal next year can only increase our chances of competing for honours. Irrelevant to his behaviour as a person, he is still a world-class player. He’s the club captain, the current PFA Player of the Year and the league’s top goalscorer. If he can continue to replicate that form, he’d be an asset to any side in the world.

Taking those things into account, the question most pertinent is how the fans react? He’s lost a huge amount of support at the club, and received limitless vitriol from Twitter users with a grudge-baring personality and idle fingers. Whether the statement itself was simply an ill-advised attempt to clarify his position to the people that follow him, or a calculated attempt to force his way from Arsenal who wish to hold him to the final year of his contract; things won’t be the same ever again for Arsenal supporters and Robin van Persie.

The question remains; would you be happy to see him stay at Arsenal? Would you prefer to restrict the damage and sell him on?

Personally, I think he has to go. His position is untenable now. Underestimating the damage he’s caused would be a mistake and it’s worth remembering Rooney didn’t take any pot shots at  Man United’s ambition or his teammates during his similar incident. Arsenal FC is bigger than Robin van Persie, and without a remarkable set of mitigating circumstances and a grovelling apology – I’d doubt we’ll ever see either – he should be moved on for the sake of all parties concerned. Players shouldn’t ever dictate the way a club is run.

But, all this is probably press-manufactured horseshit, anyway.

That’s me done for today, folks. The comments below await a few of your responses on the subject. Let me know just how you feel.

Batman, Robin, Transfers, Jovetic, Chamakh and news.

Keeping Arshavin away from Burger King had gone that one step too far…

Afternoon, you splendid creatures.

Thank you, Christopher Nolan. If it wasn’t for you giving me something to salivate over and anticipate, I think I might be letting this interminable misery and doom-mongering surrounding Arsenal get me a little down. As I tweeted earlier today; I think it’s fate softening the blow of losing Robin by giving me Batman to look forward to.

As you might imagine, a great deal of talk at the moment surrounds our Dutch striker. Last night I tuned into 5Live as I was heading home from a day at work in which I accomplished absolutely nothing other than new, uncharted levels of indolence. As I listened to the views on hand, I started to realise something; a great many folks seem to think Arsenal fans are bitter simply because Robin wants to leave.

Not true. If asked, I imagine the average, mildly-pragmatic Gooner wouldn’t begrudge RvP moving to greener pastures had he requested to do so in a respectful manner. He didn’t. He hid behind a cowardly statement that’s intended to serve him and him alone. Had his ‘message’ to the fans been an interview, a personal statement, and not something concocted by a group of morons I imagine there wouldn’t be anywhere near the ill-will for him as there is at present – the majority of which I feel is entirely justified.

A man who was once a hero to thousands, will now leave as a disappointment. Worst of all, I don’t imagine he’ll care one bit when his bank balance comes through the post at a new club.  There are many Arsenal legends, many players who’ll forever be a part of the club and adored by fans. Robin van Persie will not be one of those. He isn’t guaranteed trophies wherever he may go, but it’s certain he’ll leave Arsenal a figure of disdain, not adulation – Manchester City can’t buy that for him.

And that’s as much as I have to offer. It’s a shame, but we’ll move on.

One of his reported replacements has had a fairly huge price tag placed on him today. Fiorentina’s Stevan Jovetic is the guy we’re having a look-see at, and if we want him, we won’t be able to be parsimonious. Sporting director at the Italian side, Daniele Prade, stated in an interview:

“Since the start of the season we have said that we are not selling Jovetic,

“There is, however, an agreement with the player that (should we get an offer) above a certain figure, we will sit down and evaluate the offer.

“So far we have not received an offer for the player.

“He is a top player and we will only consider offers above 30million euros.

“He has the potential to become a player like Francesco Totti.”

That immediately makes me think we won’t bid – unless it’s a derisory offer that includes Chamakh. It was alleged Piorentina had made an offical approach for our Moroccan ponce, but Prade went on to pour water on that fire, too:

“Have we made an offer for Chamakh? We have not made one because he earns 3million euros (per season).

There are too many players at Arsenal that are average and over-paid, and we’ll struggle moving them on because of that. Bastia have pulled out of signing Squillaci due to his pay demands, and we’ll be loaning out Denilson until his contract runs out. I fully expect transferring Bendtner to encounter the same problems.

It gets worrying, as we’ll need to move players on before we can bring reinforcements in. The coming 3-4 weeks I think will make or break our season in terms of the squad. Sit back folks, I’ve a feeling things are going to get far more heated and miserable before we see any light on the horizon.

To use a quote from Christopher Nolan. “The night is always darkest before the dawn”…

Thanks for reading today. Please leave a comment below.

Theo talks, Robin talks. ‘Inception’ your transfer rumours.

“Blah blah blah…”

Morning folks.

Just a quick one today.

This week it’s reported that ‘showdown’ talks will ensue. With some players already reporting for pre-season today, we’re at the point where action or resolution is needed. Theo and Robin are those main points. For me it’s really very simple; Robin has made his position untenable, and Theo has to make a choice.

Allowing proceedings to rumble on will be damaging. Offer Theo a contract. If he stalls, refuses and dithers – sell him. Don’t waste any time pleading or negotiating with Robin – set a price and offer him to the clubs abroad that want him. Tell him if he want’s to stay in the Premiership he can languish in the reserves for a year then go for free.

I’d really play hardball with the both of them. Arsenal is a great club. If neither desire to play here, then it’s “thank you” and “there’s the door”. Effort is far better placed into recruiting players to replace them that do wish to be here. And that’s about all there is to it as far as I’m concerned. Allowing any lengthy saga to continue into August is a repeat of the same mistakes we made last summer, and that will only work out badly.

Lastly today, and purely because it made me laugh, I wan’t to show you the ‘Inception Button

It’s the perfect way to add that little bit of tension to any situation. All you do is say aloud a rumour – “Arsenal have bid for so-and-so” and press the button. You’ll have instant homemade atmosphere and tension – give it a whirl!

Thanks for reading today, folks. The comments are below. What would you do with the contracts of Theo and Robin? Let me know.

I shall return tomorrow.