Crockety-Crock: The Champions’ League Comes to Croatia


Yesterday, the club confirmed that Jack Wilshere would be out of action for a minimum of 3 more months as scans showed that the healing process on his fractured fibula was not progressing as well as expected. Unfortunately, setbacks during recovery from serious injury have become the norm for most if not all Arsenal players over the last few years with players like Walcott, Arteta, Ramsey, Koscielny and Diaby all suffering at least one setback in their comeback process.

I am no specialist so it would be difficult for me to criticize the Arsenal medical staff for failing to properly nurse our players back to health. However, several questions keep being raised about how quickly our players are able to come back from injury. Is it the medical staff? Or do we just have a bunch of crockety-crock (yes I made that up) players who break their bones whenever Jose Mourinho moans about anything. My consolation is the fact that we have a beast in Alexis Sanchez who by all accounts is an unbreakable invincible and an ever-present battering ram in Francis Coquelin. 

That said, our attention today turns to Zagreb where we prepare to take on Croatian Champions Dinamo Zagreb at the Stadion Maksimir. This venue was the site of one of Theo Walcott’s finest moments as an England International as he scored a stunning hat trick for the Three Lions in 2008. I wonder if that would play in Arsene Wenger’s mind as he pores over team selection for tonight’s Champions’ League opener.

Héctor Bellerín and Aaron Ramsey have not travelled to Croatia, meaning Mathieu Debuchy and Arteta are likely to start. Wenger may choose to further rotate the team with an eye on the game against Chelsea who also play tonight at the weekend. I won’t be surprised to see starts for Kieran Gibbs and Olivier Giroud. I also expect Per Mertesacker to still be out as he’s been suffering with a virus and crashed his car on Monday…don’t worry he’s fine.

I expect that it will be an edgy game but I believe anything short of a victory tonight will be disappointing for us given that we still have the double-header with Bayern Munich and Olympiacos away to think about. I won’t hold my breath for a whitewash; a clean 2-0 win will do it just fine for me.

By the way did you see the Morata goal last night? Absolutely breathtaking.

Over to you Alexis, do some magic tonight. We deserve it!

Till next time…Victoria Concordia Crescit.

Jack and The Three Lions

The big news of the morning is the fact that 18 year old Jack Wilshere looks set to recieve his first call up to the senior England squad. The in-form midfielder who started all two games at the Emirates Cup looks set to be rewarded for not only his fine pre-season form but also his steady rise to relevance in the English game. His loan stint at Bolton was highly beneficial in giving him the much needed confidence which comes by playing first team games on a more regular basis. His performances in pre-season were roundly praised by Arsene Wenger. He said;

At 18 years of age you can have patience with a player, but I believe Wilshere is stronger than last year. The few months he played at Bolton has definitely given him something. He will be used by us [next season] for sure.

Apparently, Kieran Gibbs and Theo Walcott are also in line for call ups to the squad. Walcott I can understand but I think Gibbs is probably in with a sneak due to the absence of an established back up to Ashley Cole as well as the woeful performance of majority of the England team at the World Cup in South Africa.

Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart who is also expected to be called up is reportedly a new transfer target for Arsenal as the prospect of signing Mark Schwarzer looks ever bleaker. He was one player who was able to escape any form of criticism after the World Cup simply because he did not feature in any of England’s four games at the tournament. The 23 year old who has spoken of his concern about not being guaranteed a first team position at Manchester City due to the presence of Shay Given will be keen remain in Fabio Capello’s plans and not go the way of Ben Foster a year ago.

Arsene Wenger is reportedly on the verge of making a considerable offer for the young Englishman. How that will pan out is uncertain and as usual we’ll probably have to wait till the very end of the window for anything concrete.

Today is the 2010 Members day and my only wish is for Cesc Fabregas to repay the love and trust of the Manager, Players, and Fans by declaring his unflinching commitment to the Club. That to me is the only way we can stop all these Cesc Fabregas to Barcelona stories. Anything short of that will be a disaster for the player, the club and the fans. Even if he doesn’t, I am adamant we won’t budge in our stance – even if it is just to spite Barcelona!

Till tomorrow…Victoria Concordia Crescit.

Summer Holidays, Emirates Cup & Our New Signings

I’ve been away for a exactly one month. Make it two if you consider the fact that all forms of blogging on this website stopped at the beginning of June. Call it a summer break if you will! The amazing fact is that nothing seems to have changed. Arsenal are still adamant that  Cesc Fabregas is not for sale while Barcelona still do not get the point. We did sign Laurent Koscielny while Pape Diahkate seems to have fallen off the radar and it now looks unlikely that we will be signing Mark Schwarzer as new Fulham manager Mark Hughes is insistent that they will not be selling any of their important players. Joe Cole to Liverpool was a strange but not surprising decision while the fact that we were keen to retain the services of a 35year old named Sol Campbell highlighted the dearth of our options at the back. He ended up signing for Newcastle.

Two important events took place over the weekend. First was The 2010 Emirates Cup which Arsenal won for the third time drawing 1-1 with AC Milan and surviving a late comeback from Celtic to win 3-2.  I had seats in section 1 and apart from the Milan-Lyon game where I fell asleep half way through the first half, my eyes were glued to the action from start to finish. Falling asleep during the match had less to do with the quality of the action and more to do with the fact that only that morning I had taken a team of Nigerian Gooners to the semi-finals of The 2010 Emirates Cup Supporters Tournament. We were undone by a late strike from Arsenal Herts & Beds who then went on to lift the trophy.

It is of note that team was called Arsenal Nigeria by REDAction and The Green Gooners Blog by Arsenal Herts & Beds. I’d just like to point out that the team was registered as TheGreenGooner FC and is 100% unoffically Arsenal Nigeria. Just saying!

Up next on Saturday is a friendly against Legia Warsaw in Poland. In the larger context of things, I’m not quite sure how that helps our preseason preparations as I’m sure we could have opposition of the same quality much closer to home. However, I do remember that we always seem to play one extra friendly outside our regular routine of Barnet, Austria and the Emirates Cup. I hear that it might have been included as one of the conditions for signing Lukasz Fabianski. Please don’t quote me on that!

It was great to see Marouane Chamakh get off the mark at the Emirates Stadium. His technique and strength are definitely a plus to us this season. Eduardo’s departure to Shakhtar Donetsk isn’t as big a blow to us now as it was when he first got injured so I guess in the area of our attack we have improved our options. I wonder where that places Nicklas Bendtner in the pecking order. In my own opinion, Jack Wilshere and Emmanuel Frimpong were the star attractions as their talent, passion and commitment only reinforces the facts we already know that they will go on to be great players.

New boy Laurent Koscielny does need to bulk up a bit though as he looks a bit too thin to play in the Premier League. We are still short numberwise in that area and the boss has openly admitted that the we are on the market for at least one more player. Could that be Montpellier centre back Emir Spahic? He is quoted on Bosnian website SportSport as saying that he was an admirer of Arsene Wenger (who isn’t) and hopes his club cooperates with Arsenal. He sounds like a typical Arsene signing!

There really isn’t anything else to report on apart from the usual Cesc Fabregas to Barcelona stories that have been going on all summer and the fact that Sanchez Watt has joined Leeds United on loan again till the end of the season. I think they’ll probably sign him permanently if it goes well. An Arsenal XI also thumped Boreham Wood FC 3-0 in  a friendly with goals from Mark Randall and Benik Afobe.

Tomorrow is the 2010 Members Day and thousands of fans will flock the Emirates Stadium to witness an open training session. I hope Cesc uses this opportunity to reaffirm his commitment to the club. If you aren’t able to make it to the stadium the entire event will be streamed on Arsenal TV Online on Thursday morning.

Finally, the club has announced that Centrepoint, London’s biggest youth homeless charity is the nominated charity for the forthcoming football season. The following quotes are from the clubs official website

Through the ‘Be A Gooner. Be A Giver.’ campaign, the Gunners aim to raise £500,000 to create a state-of-the-art service in a refurbished building in Soho, to be known as the ‘Arsenal Training Centre.’ The Centre will help homeless young people across London to develop essential life skills to get back on their feet and stay off the streets permanently.

The charity will also work closely with Arsenal in the Community on a range of education and mentoring programmes.  A dedicated website has been created so that supporters can follow the partnership at

Till tomorrow…Victoria Concordia Crescit

Bendtner: Double Power or Reverse Adebayor

For some reason, Nicklas Bendtner has decided that the number 52 will bring him better luck in the new season. He is also offering a offering a full refund to anyone who bought merchandise with his old number from any of the Arsenal Stores. Speaking to he said

“I appreciate that a good number of fans have bought their kits for 2009/10 already with names and numbers printed up so I’d like to personally cover the cost of replacing anyone’s shirt that has my previous number. It means a lot to see supporters wearing your name and number, and I want to ensure people aren’t inconvenienced by the change.”

But why 52? Could it be because 26 x 2 = 52 hence he’d be more productive with the number or does it have anything to do with Adebayor’s departure? We all know he never got on well with the Togonian and they had that famous altercation in the Carling cup game against Spurs. Maybe it’s to spite him and to tell the fans that he’s going be the exact opposite as 52 is the inverse of 25! We’ll wait and see.

Elsewhere Theo Walcott was an unused sub as England fought from 2-0 down at half time to earn creditable 2-2 draw with the Netherlands in Amsterdam. Robin Van Persie was withdrawn at halftime. Eduardo was on target as Croatia won 3-1 away in Belarus to help strengthen their World Cup qualifying claims. William Gallas and Bacary Sagna both played for 90 minutes as France laboured to a 1-0 win over the Faroe Islands in World Cup qualifying.

Andrey Arshavin was on the wrong end of a 2-3 home loss to Argentina in another friendly. Senderos also had a  full run-out as Switzerland played out a  0-0 draw with World Champions Italy. Johann Djourou had earlier been withdrawn from the squad.

I can’t seem to find a match report for the Tunisia vs Ivory Coast game which ended 0-0 but an Achille Webo brace secured a 2-0 away win for Cameroon in Austria. Aaron Ramsey played 75 minutes as Wales lost 2-1 to Montenegro in another friendly.

Seems like Alex Hleb is regretting his move to Barcelona. Speaking to ESPN he said:

“For me, leaving Arsenal was not a good move. A footballer only exists when he takes to the field and makes a proper contribution to the team and even though I was part of a Barca squad that was almost unstoppable, it was hard not to feel detached from all the happiness and celebration at the end.

“Barca were my dream club as a kid, but I couldn’t continue with them if the chance to play was not coming. I’m 28 and who knows how much time I’ve left in the game. I needed to move on and the chance to go back to a place that I feel happy in was the best solution.”

Serves you right for leaving! His career has clearly taken a backward step as he is back at Stuttgart on a season-long loan deal from Barcelona who clearly did not want him.

Apparently, Barcelona have offered us 27m for Cesc Fabregas. If it’s true then its a ridiculously low amount to bid. Could they just be testing the waters? If he plays against Celtic on Tuesday then he’d be cup-tied for Europe and they’d have to abandon their bid.

Ray Parlour thinks Andrey Arshavin and William Gallas will be key players for Arsenal in the new season and I quite agree. Defensive stability and attacking creativity are two areas we have fallen short on in recent times. If they are at their best I’m sure they can act that solidity and experience to the entire team. He also thinks we need to strengthen in certain areas (what else is new Ray)if we are to come close in the title race.

Speaking to Sky Sports News, he says

“I’m hopeful, but I think it’s going to be tough for them,” Parlour told Sky Sports News. “I still think they need a couple more players. I think Arsene Wenger’s still looking at the market and saying ‘can we strengthen?’

“A central midfielder for me is vital. Maybe a centre-half.

Neven Subotic (the Dortmund defender we were linked to yesterday) says he has had no contact from Arsenal. Not strange given the fact we are practically linked to every up and coming young player in Europe these days.

Stuart “Psycho” Pearce insists that young Jack Wilshere should not be over hyped. After his herioics in preseason as well as making his U21 debut this week, you’d expect there to be much talk about him everywhere. Speaking to the daily telegraph he said;

“I find it a little bit sad that we over-hype players, because I know what is around the corner,”

However, this is a point Wenger has been making for a while that you need a player to develop at the right pace and should not overawe him as it could affect his progress. I’m glad the England bosses know this and hope they will allow him develop as he should.

Finally, According to the daily mirror, we seem to have called off our bid for Maroune Chamakh after Arsene decided not to raise his intial offer. So who will we sign We’ll see eh?

Till tomorrow…Victoria Concordia Crescit!

Three days to the start of the Premier League season

Three days to the start of the Premier League season, my blog is still not up and running and it’s becoming a worry as I can’t seem to get off Fifa 2009…(oops)

The boss too seems to be rather excited. Speaking to BBC sport, Arsene Wenger shared his thoughts on the season ahead

“I envisage only one order, that is Arsenal finishing on top and all the rest can do what they want. “To rate our potential, look at our pre-season games. We are a team who has a way to play and we are a team who are ready to fight. “Let’s have a go. Let’s not talk too much. We know that people are sceptical about us but I let people talk. Let’s win the games.”

This is heartening and tells of his unflinching support of the team.

That said, news from Switzerland say Djourou has been withdrawn from the Swiss team with some knee trouble. . .hoping it’s not too serious. Switzerland coach Ottmar Hitzfeld told the Swiss FA’s official website:

“We don’t want to take an unnecessary risk shortly before the start of his club’s season.”

Kudos to the Swiss National team for giving player/club consideration at the beginning of a new season. . .usually a row would erupt about should he or should he not play.

In other news, Jack Wilshere made his debut for the England U21’s  against Holland in a game that ended  0-0. Two other young guns Kieran Gibbs (England) and Nacer Barazite (Holland) were also on show with Armand Traore in line to start for France in their friendly clash with their Polish counterparts on Wednesday evening. An amazing 13 players are also away on internationals so it’s quite a busy midweek given that the number is nearly half our first team squad. Hopefully, they’ll come through it without too many knocks.

Congratulations to ‘Dare who got his first Arsenal Tickets (for the Portsmouth game) today…Upper tier and all.

Till tomorrow…Victoria Concordia Crescent