Apr 232010

Those who believe our season to be over already should remind themselves of the number of back stories coming into tomorrow’s game with City. There are so many I may miss some, but here are the ones that stick out:

  • The return of Adebayor to the Emirates. His first game against us came at the relative sanctity of Eastlands, yet he was still whipped into a mindless frenzy. Lest we forget, he put in an awful challenge on Cesc, stamped on Van Persie’s face, slapped Song and then did that celebration. Now he’s in our town, and the reception will be red hot, irrespective of Wenger’s call for calm. He knows as well as anyone that such pleas are pointless.
  • In contrast, we welcome Vieira back. Sure, we’ve already done that once in European competition, but he is back in the Premiership now, and the greeting he will receive will put the Adebayor catcalls in sharp focus.
  • And then there’s Toure. Still a legend, if you ask me.
  • Van Persie is likely to make his first start since 1946, and Song returns to the squad. After their experiences at the hands of Adebayor earlier in the season, the handshakes could be far more interesting than the Bridge-Terry rebuff.
  • And of course, there is the football itself.

For me, the last point remains the most important. I don’t believe either Spurs or City are challenging us for third, despite the opinion of the worriers, but even though it pains me to say it, I am desperate for Spurs to win the battle for fourth. One simple reason – City have the cash to capitalise on a Champions League place, whereas at least Spurs would have the decency to lose to Dubrunevik Village in the qualifiers.

If City win, they become a far more attractive proposition for the mercenaries they will be searching for in the summer. And if you think that type of player won’t help them, you are wrong – it was exactly how Chelsea started in the Abramovich era (Crespo, Veron et al). They may already be bound for a similar rise, but at least if Spurs pushed them down to fifth it would be slightly delayed. I can live with another hilarious summer of optimism of our neighbours for that.

Looking at the match itself, most of the bookies seem to agree that it will be a goalfest. They also think it will be close,  but after a week of reflection, I expect a reaction from the players tomorrow. The media silence tells you everything you need to know about their mood – our club has made some PR gaffes on the official site this season but even they knew excuses and platitudes were pointless. What we need to see is a totally different performance in the next game.

That drives my bet of the day, which is a 4-0 win available at a massive 40/1 with Sportingbet. I’m tempted to bet on a few scorelines in that range – 3-0, 4-1 etc, as I’m convinced we’ll be seeing one of them tomorrow. We owe City, and the players owe us.

Elsewhere, much of the talk has been around our goalkeeping situation. With Almunia out of favour injured, Fabianski has been given the chance to prove his mistakes of the past were just blips. As we all know, all he managed to do was compound his previous errors to gift Wigan their equaliser.

The consensus everywhere is that he is useless, hopeless, a clown, a muppet, a no-hoper and definitely has no future with the club. Don’t get me wrong, I understand why so many take that view – his mistakes have been so frequent that it is easy to write him off.

But (and I think I’m alone in this) I still believe he can be a top keeper. I’m not sure what it is (it isn’t just blind optimism as I’ve written players off in the past), but something about him makes me think that when he gets over his confidence nightmare, he can finally prove himself. And while I’m certain that at least 90% of you will think I’m an idiot for that opinion, I’d hazard a guess that you never thought Heurelho Gomes would turn out to be a decent keeper either. And his gaffes were arguably more frequent.

I’m not stupid enough to claimthat Fabianski definitely will turn into a top keeper, all I’m saying is no-one can say that he definitely can’t. Call him Song Mk II if I’m right.

And call him Aliadiere Mk II if I’m wrong.

Szczesny is very highly rated, but still too raw to become our first choice keeper, so no matter how much of a shoo in he is for the number one jersey in the future, we need a reliable option for the next few years. If Wenger doesn’t buy one this summer, I don’t think he will for a number of years – he will either abandon both Almunia and Fabianski, or keep faith with one of them for the long term.

If he does decide that we need a keeper to last a few years, hehas previous – signing Lehmann for the final few valuable years of his career. Tim over at 7am Kickoff suggests Marcus Hahnemann. We could do worse.

My prediction is that we won’t sign a keeper – Wenger will point to having four at the club who played first team football this season, and will expect at least one of them to grasp the mantle.

One final thing I wanted to touch on today, and that is the decision to exclude Portsmouth from Europe next season. I’ve thought for a while that although everyone seems to be focusing on Liverpool’s failed attempt to reach fourth, the problem may be worse than that – they may not qualify for Europe at all. Thanks to United lifting the League Cup, fifth and sixth get you in, but Liverpool are in seventh and have a tricky run-in (two relegation fighters away from home, and Chelsea).

Now that Pompey are barred, seventh is good enough, which is highly convenient, don’t you think?

Enjoy the game.

  17 Responses to “City game is huge + keeper thoughts + Europe”

  1. are you mad? we need a goal keeper

    or that geezer from lyon…

    weve got the money go out and get one of the best keepers in the world.. not rocket science

    • None of them.We need Manu Neuer.End of story.

    • If Arsene gets offers of 2 million for Almunia and 4 million for Fab fine, he’ll go out and buy another keeper. But he’s not going to buy one and keep all the keepers he as. And he’s not buying one of the above list, as there’s no way he’s paying £16 million or so for a keeper.

      At least Wenger knows what he’s got. There are better out there – but there are also the next Taibi’s.

      • The sorts of names people are bandying around aren’t happening. Lloris is flavour of the month, but Lyon are perfectly well off and would demand a ridiculous fee for him. Quite rightly. Buffon? No chance. Akinfeev? Again, a club has to want to sell if the contract isn’t coming to an end.

        I’m sure plenty disagree with my opinion that Fabianski could yet prove good enough, but the danger we have is believing some of the ‘magic answers’. Great as Lloris is, for example, some of our fans would have torn him apart for the erratic display against Bayern on Wednesday.

        • Mark Schwazer’s not a bad option if Arsene goes for someone less cheap. He can be a reliable goalie at least for the nxt few yrs

  2. Alan i hope you are wrong for Arsenals sake..

    look at what a good goalkeeper has done for chelsea manu & man city!!

    @daxxjoker just looked that fella up he looks solid iswell..

    • Like Dzeko being the best-buy amongst the strikers,Neuer can be described the same way when it comes to keepers.
      I know Ferguson is interested in himThat old man always do the smart stuff.And if he gets him,I will hate Wenger even more.
      Cause out manager only looks at the shittiest of keepers,like Muslera and Adler.If he decides to go with these 2 morons we have now – we are screwed.Next season we WILL finish outside the top 4.
      If that doesn’t happen this season already.And it is possible.

  3. If we only make one signing in the summer, it has to be a top class keeper. If not then I fear we’ll fall short once again.







    • Far too many changes in a first team – very destabilising. Plus the cost of those five signings is well out of our range.

      Don’t fall for the Toure stories – if we didn’t sign him when we had his brother, we aren’t likely to now.

  5. haha yeah i know pete, hense why i said ‘imagine’ i just reckon that team would be some force…can always dream ahaha.

    i havent heard any rumours of yaya toure since last summer, he doesnt get much game time at barca at the moment, i just think hes the all round defensive midfielder.

    why is it soo fat fetched that he would come to arsenal? he is alot better than song and is physical like campbell..

    i dunno what do any of you think?

    • I don’t think it’s that far fetched that he could have come to Arsenal at some point, but he had two trials here and was never signed. There were rumours after one that there was a work permit problem, but my suspicion is that Wenger found a flaw he didn’t like, or wasn’t worth the money being asked. I also think he’s happy at Barca despite the limited game time.

      I would love to see Dzeko at the club though. It would be an exciting day if Wenger splashed the cash on someone like him!

  6. please please lets have mannone! this seasons mannone highlights;

    With Manuel Almunia struggling for fitness, Mannone made his second Premier League against Wigan Athletic on 19 September 2009. Mannone kept a clean sheet in a 4–0 victory for Arsenal.[12] Mannone also kept a clean sheet in the game against Fulham at Craven Cottage on 26 September 2009, in which he pulled off many good saves and almost single-handedly kept Arsenal in the game, receiving the man of the match award, where Arsenal won 1–0. Mannone said the game was the highlight of his career.[13] He again kept a clean sheet in the 2–0 victory over Olympiacos in the Champions League on 29 September.

  7. realistically. this is what I can see..and will most likely happen to our best starting x1 over the summer.

    —new keeper




    rvp—new striker (Chamakh)—arshavin

    -bench—- – fabianski, djourou, denilson, walcott, denilson, bendtner, diaby

    -wilsher and ramsey will fit in somewhere somehow. maybe denilson or diaby get dropped.

    -chamakh is free and coming
    -new keeper will come in. almunia out, fabianksi will stay as #2
    -new defender will NEED. come into the team will challenge gallas.I think AW wants to keep gallas for his “non-captain leadership”abilities

    -we need some strength and more heart.. gotta drop the dead beats. too many chance to impress but they have failed. 2 performances in 10 matches is a WASTE!!! that is inconsistency that we do not need on our team.

    • That looks almost spot on, from a realism point of view. I know most Gooners want tons of signings, but your teamsheet looks much more likely.

      There’s only one thing I would change – I think if Gallas were staying, he would have signed a new contract by now. It is up in a matter of weeks and I think we’ve seen the last of him in an Arsenal shirt.

      Which makes the need for a defender even more pressing. We are left with Vermaelen, Djourou and Campbell, and only the Belgian is likely to play most of the games.

      Unless Wenger is promoting one of the kids (Bartley, Nordveit), we need two central defenders.

  8. Really?! You think Almunia can be a top keeper?! Are you mad or just very high?! Why doesn’t Vito get another shot? He looked better than any other keeper for us this season!

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