Thursday, June 30, 2011

Yes, Arsenal IS in a Crisis

This was going to be a post of hope for Arsenal. But now, that's all changed. Just weeks ago, everything seemed great. A huge amount of players were linked with a transfer to the Gunners, Fabregas seemed to be staying, and the same was for Nasri. Now? Manchester City are on the verge of signing both Gael Clichy and Samir Nasri, while Fabregas is almost destined to join his boyhood club, Barcelona. Oh to be a Gooner.

What's happened to this club? Just a few years ago, players like Thierry Henry, Robert Pires, and Patrick Vieira were world beaters, winning just about every competition, bar the Champions' League. And they even got to a final for that. In 2011 however, players like Denilson and Almunia are given free rides on the Arsenal bandwagon and are getting paid wages that other top clubs would laugh at. And instead of selling deadwood like Denilson, Rosicky, Squilacci, Bendtner, and Almunia, teams are picking off Arsenal's top players one by one. This brings me to my point, does the executive board even care about winning? At this point, players who come to Arsenal just use the club as a stepping stone to greener pastures. It's happened in the past with Petit, Overmars, and Henry, and it looks to now be happening with Fabregas and Nasri. Clichy I don't care that much about, he's been utter crap for the last 2 years. As a huge Arsenal fan, I cringe every time I enter a footballing news website. 9 out of 10 times the main headlines are either about Fabregas leaving or another unknown "talent" being linked. Why still buy young talent? Really? What Arsenal needs is established players, not some 16 year old from Sweden. I want a 25 year old Englishman *cough* GARY CAHILL*cough*.

Yes, it's very easy to pin all of the blame on Arsene Wenger. He's the one who's in charge of transfers and players, right? No, while other teams who have billionaire owners, like City and Chelsea, can spend huge sums of cash, Arsenal's new owner, Stan Kroenke, has given Wenger just 35 million pounds to spend. In today's transfer market, that's nothing if he would want to buy truly established players. I mean go look at Liverpool, Andy Carrol for 35 million and Jordan Henderson for 20 million. If Arsene Wenger would want to purchase Premier League players, who's he going to get on the cheap? While it looks like Gary Cahill is about to sign for the Gunners, he supposedly is going to cost 17 million pounds. That's half of the transfer money gone right there. Add the purchase of Gervinho for 12 million and thats almost 30 million already spent. Yes Arsenal might get money from the sales of other players, it's still not enough depending on who is sold. I mean, look at it this way. Fernando Torres cost Chelsea 50 million pounds in January. Arsenal's most expensive player purchased was Andrei Arshavin. Around 15 million. Quite the difference.

Eh, I'm going to end my rant there. It's not like I can do anything about it. I'm just another disillusioned fan. Plus, there are some positives in this whole thing. Arsenal are looking at Christopher Samba, Gary Cahill, and Phil Jagielka for center backs. Gervinho has confirmed that he will sign for Arsenal, and the only reason that Phil Jones chose United over Arsenal is because of location. So not all bad. But then again, to me it's not enough to soothe my anger with the fact that 2 of our top players are most likely leaving. It could only be worse if Robin Van Persie or Jack Wilshere handed in a transfer request. 

Knowing Arsenal's luck, that's what's gonna happen tomorrow in the papers.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Big, The Bad, The Ugly: Footballer's Haircuts

It's been a long while since I've posted on my blog, and I sincerely apologize for that. It seems that I've been soaking in the summer a bit too much, so it's time to get back to business. During the summer, without much football aside from friendlies being played, there isn't much to write about. There are transfer rumors, but 90% of those are crap fabricated by newspapers, so I'll look to avoid those. What will I write about? Probably humorous lists, or I'll go on long rants and try to predict the future of certain teams, players, and managers. To kick off the summer articles will be a humorous article. 

There have many, many terrible haircuts in the history of sports. But for some strange reason, footballers are fond of seeing who can have the ugliest hairstyle. In modern football, players experiment with haircolors, braiding, perming, and the like. So here's a look back at this seasons strangest and just plain ugliest haircuts.

Here, 19 year old Brazilian starlet Neymar shows that it's not only Brazilian football that has flair. With Ronaldo (The REAL one) and Ronaldinho sporting some strange 'do's in the past, Neymar is continuing the tradition with this sky-high mohawk/fauxhawk... thing. 

Next up is Everton's Marouane Fellaini. The Belgian holding midfielder stands out like a tree when seen on the field. I mean, look at the guy, he looks like he belongs in a 1970's disco rather than a football pitch. All he's missing is the aviator sunglasses and a comb.

Racing stripes in hair? That's what Tottenham's Aaron Lennon decided to do. Stretching from his eyebrow to the side of the head, the go-faster stripes are shaved into Lennon's short hair. And actually, it's quite fitting. Along with Theo Walcott, he's one of the Premier League's fastest players. 

Arsenal and Manchester City target Gervinho, otherwise known as Gervais Yao Kouassi, seems to have an absolutely huge forehead. Or atleast that's what his hair makes it look like. He's got an octopus for hair, and it's all held strangely held down with a mere headband.

At Arsenal, strange haircuts seem to be the norm. Kicking off the trend was Bacary Sagna. For every game, bar one, the Frenchman has had these crazy blonde braids in a similar fashion to Gervinho. Like I said about Fellaini, he's amazingly easy to spot on the field.

In tune with the spirit of strange hair, Marouane (Another one?) Chamakh can't decide what to do with his. I honestly can't tell. There's a bit of a mullet in the back, there's a fauxhawk somewhere in there, and then it's slicked down in the front. Ugh, I give up. 

And finally, Johann Djourou's red stripe. No not the beer, Djourou's hair. Showing his love for Arsenal, the Dutchman dyed a stripe of red in his hair to make it known what team he was playing for. As if the jersey wasn't already enough.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Picture of the Day: Fernando Torres

On the last day of the January Transfer Window, Chelsea shocked everyone by purchasing Fernando Torres from Liverpool for 50 million pounds. Being one of the most hyped up transfers, Torres' first 2 months at the Bridge were... how do I say it.... EPICCC FAAILLLL. Maybe that's an exaggeration. But still. The images of Roman Abramovich being hugely dissatisfied when watching Chelsea's matches were pretty hilarious to me. On the other hand, Liverpool got the great end of the deal. With the money they earned, they purchased Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll, with the latter being priced at a hugely inflated 35 million pounds. Despite Nando's poor performances, Chelsea's purchase of him and David Luiz revitalized the Blues, and gave them the drive to recover from their slump and finish their season in 2nd place. So I don't really know what to think about it. Maybe it was a blessing in disguise. A very bad, out of form, lazy disguise.

Am I the Only One Who Likes Mario Balotelli?

Ok, so in my previous post about Man City's Mario Balotelli, I was actually pretty negative about him. The thing is though, that was before he actually got used to living in England, and before he could do some of the funny things he's done. I mean, the guy gave 1,000 pounds to a homeless guy outside of a casino, and helped a kid confront his bully, and resolved their situation. I think that actually makes him a pretty good guy. Granted, he has done some stupid things, like throw darts at youth players, and drive a car into a women's prison "just to see what it looks like", in his words. But that's what makes him unique. What other footballer would even imagine doing those crazy things. He provides me with off-field entertainment, and that's usually after he scores a beautiful goal during the actual match. See? So you can't judge a book by it's cover. Or a player by the tabloids.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Picture of the Day: Wayne Rooney

Oh the Rooney saga. From cheating on his pregnant wife, to nearly getting a transfer to United's hated rivals Manchester City, Wayne Rooney has done it all. That's why I chose this picture, it wonderfully exemplifies some of the money-hungry football players in today's world. During a turbulent time at the beginning of the season, Rooney asked for 250,000 pounds a week from Manchester United in order for him to stay. In the end, the Red Devils' board caved into his demands, showing just how much power world famous players have.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Picture of the Day: Arsene Wenger

Now that all of the major football leagues in Europe are over for the summer, I, to be quite honest, won't have that much to write about. Other than transfer rumors, I'll probably be writing some opinion articles and little fillers like this, my new segment, Picture of the Day. In POTD (I'm too lazy to type it out every time), I'll be finding pictures from the past Premier League, FA Cup, or Champions' League season that I find entertaining. In addition to that, I'll explain why it explains the past season greatly, and why it's funny. 

So, with that said, first up is Arsenal's manager, Arsene Wenger, seemingly yelling at the ground. Yeah yeah, most people say he's lost the plot... maybe he has actually. After another tremendous collapse in form late in the season, images of Wenger that were similar to these were seen far too often. Despite being a HUGE Arsenal fan (I can't stress that enough), I think this picture sums up the whole 2010/2011 season. Yes, we did manage to beat Barcelona, Manchester United, and Chelsea, but we never managed to beat Tottenham, West Brom, and even lost to Aston Villa on the final home match of the season. The "Lap of Appreciation" after the match was cringe-worthy to say the least.

Here's hoping that Wenger manages to buy the correct players *cough*CENTER BACKS*cough* that will be needed to finally lift a trophy for Arsenal for the first time in 6 years. Seriously, I'm tired of getting crap from my friends, who just happen to be Manchester United fans.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Is Arsenal in a Crisis?

Just a few years ago, Arsenal was a huge club, one of the biggest in the world. While that still may be true on the financial basis, it isn't so based on footballing terms. Back when the like of Henry, Adams, Bergkamp, and Vieira were still at the club, young players from lower leagues and teams strived to earn a transfer to join Arsenal. The players who wore the Arsenal shirt played with a passion, fueled with love for the club. Stars such as Tony Adams would never, ever even think of talking up a move to one of Arsenal's rivals. Now? Samir Nasri said about Manchester United's supposed interest; "Do I want to go to Man United? First, we should see if it's real and if it is concrete." This is only the start of Arsenal players beginning to crave moves away from the Emirates. Just before, Nicklas Bendtner and Denilson both stated that they will leave Arsenal this summer. Then again, it wouldn't be that tragic if any of those players left. Bendtner and Denilson haven't contributed in months, while Nasri had three good months of football, and then went back to his usual, wasteful self. 

But the thing that worries me is buying replacements for the players who are ready to leave. It seems impossible for Arsene Wenger to secure players, with their rivals, including United, City, and even Liverpool snapping up some of Arsenal's targets. A perfect example of this is Phil Jones, who was signed by the Red Devils for 16 million pound. Arsene Wenger offered the same price to Blackburn, and even higher wages than Manchester, only to see Jones pick United. This looks like a trend in recent times. Arsenal are linked with players in tabloids, only to see other teams come in interested. Even if the Gunners have a deal in the bag, they can almost never seal the deal. There's always some kind of bickering involving the price of the player, or the wages. To be honest, it's quite a bit annoying to be a fan of Arsenal in the transfer windows. The frustration of hearing the Christopher Samba almost joined Arsenal to heal the ailing defnese was immense for me He revealed that, “I think a move to Arsenal was very close in January but that is life." Why was it that Arsenal couldn't seal the deal? Who knows, but it's most likely something hugely stupid.

Now, I want to talk about the club's current captain, Francesc Fabregas. For the past few seasons, he has been constantly linked in papers and on the internet with a move back to his boyhood club, Barcelona. Despite nearly every Barca player tapping him up, he hasn't come out publicly stating his desire to stay at Arsenal, and hasn't condemned the actions of his Spanish colleagues. That's quite a problem. A captain of such a club as Arsenal should be proud of his team. He should rubbish any claims of him going to Barcelona. But he hasn't. Is is heart even at Arsenal anymore? Sure doesn't seem like it. During matches, he's looked disinterested, and not caring of what happens on the field. Then again, during the Everton match, where the Gunners came back to win, he did launch a tirade against the referee at half-time. So it is possible that he's committed to his current club. The thing is however, that he isn't really the captain type. He makes his impact by how he plays, not his character. I personally believe that the only reason he was given the captain's armband was to keep him at Arsenal last summer. Players like Robin Van Persie, Thomas Vermaelen, and even Jack Wilshere would be more suited to be the captain. They're often seen criticizing the referee, and even their colleagues on the pitch. 

So, will the 2011-2012 season be a tragedy for the Gunners. I certainly don't believe so. If the aspects of the squad that need to be addressed are fixed, then it could possibly be one of the Arsenal's best seasons in recent times. One can only hope.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Premier League Top 4: What's Next in Store?

After all of the excitement, drama, and collapses in this year's Premier League season, Sir Alex Ferguson's Manchester United have once again become Champions of England. Was it really that surprising? To be quite honest, not at all. Despite having huge hope for the Gunners, once again, the season ended dismally, with the single highlight being the victory against the eventual champions. Now, I'll look over the best 6 teams in the Premier League, and make my views clear on what they should do to succeed next year.

Manchester United (10/11: 1st Place, 80 Points): No matter how much I hated seeing them take the trophy again, I have to admit that the Red Devils have been stellar. Despite, in most people's views, having a weaker squad then their rivals; they're able to achieve the success that other teams can only dream of. A midfield of Carrick, Giggs, Anderson, and Fletcher doesn't even begin to send shivers down the spines of most teams, so it seems like that's the one area that Sir Alex needs to purchase players for. One area that doesn't need purchases is the attack, with Hernandez, Rooney, Nani, and Berbatov providing proper cover. Watching Rooney recover from his scandal, I was amazed when he dropped back behind Hernandez and played numerous passes for the little Mexican, "Chicharito" to easily finish off.  In fact, that's what Hernandez has shown he's best at, poaching. Always at the right place at the right time, usually being able to tap the ball into an open net. Those two, along with Nani, will be troubling many defenses for the next few years in both Europe and England. For the 2012 season, I view Manchester United as the favorites to retain the title. The only real signings they need to make are one or two midfielders, especially a creative midfielder, with Paul Scholes recently retiring. With that, they can continue to grind out results, no matter how hard it seems.

Arsenal (10/11: 4th Place, 68 Points): Oh boy, where do I start with my favorite team? At the beginning of the season, nearly everything was perfect. Samir Nasri was just sublime, Marouane Chamakh was providing wonderful cover for the injured Robin Van Persie, and Jack Wilshere was showing the potential to become one of the best midfielders in the world. They were on top of the world in January and February, beating Barcelona in the Champions' League, and strongly contesting the four tournaments they took part in. Then, on February 27th, it all collapsed. Everything. Losing the Carling Cup final to Birmingham City, knocked out of the Champions' League on aggregate by Barcelona, and knocked out of the FA Cup by Man United. They still had the league right? Nope. A late collapse saw them drop from title contenders to fourth place. So what are they missing? Not to be biased, but Arsenal's attack is formidable, one of the best in the league. Robin Van Persie, Samir Nasri, Cesc Fabregas, Jack Wilshere, and Theo Walcott lead a front-line that can terrify even the strongest defenses. But the defense is a completely different story. As much as Johann Djourou and Laurent Koscielny tried, they couldn't contest battles in the air. More than 50% of the goals Arsenal have conceded have been from set pieces. MORE THAN 50%. For a team regularly contesting the title, that's ridiculous. So it's pretty obvious what's needed. Someone big, strong, even a leader to show a path when times are tough. Christopher Samba has been highly linked, and he ticks all of the needed boxes. So what's gonna happen next year for them? I honestly don't know. It depends on what happens in this transfer market. These next few months will be absolutely crucial for a successful 2011/2012 Premier League season for the Gunners.

Chelsea (10/11: 2nd Place, 71 Points): 2010's Champions went into this season being strong favorites to clinch the title. Sadly, for them atleast, a mid-season collapse in form saw them struggling and falling into third place behind Arsenal. Trying to fix that dip in form, Roman Abramovich reached into his pockets, took out 50 million pounds, and bough Fernando Torres. Now, despite the hilarious outrage of Liverpool fans on the internet, the Reds were happy thanks to their new purchases of Luis Suarez and Andy Caroll. Meanwhile, over at Stamford Bridge, Torres was failing to make an impact. Despite this, Chelsea's form improved hugely, and made a late run for the title, but still missed out. This year has been quite peculiar for the Blues. No trophies? Strange for them. What's been the problem? My guess is that their once world class stars are beginning to show the signs of their age, and there aren't any young replacements. Ashley Cole, Frank Lampard, John Terry, Didier Drogba, Nicolas Anelka, and Paulo Ferreira are all 30 or older. Granted, they do have Torres, McEachran, Ramires, and David Luiz, but that really isn't enough. Most of the aging players still have a few years in them, but for Chelsea, it's time to start looking for replacements. They can't rely on the players they purchased 5 years ago for the next few seasons. This summer, my bet is on Roman Abramovich, oil magnate and Chelsea owner, will go on a huge spending spree before the Financial Fair Play rules kick in.

Manchester City (10/11: 3rd Place, 71 Points): Like Chelsea, the Sky Blues are another team who basically bought their success. 12 years ago, they were dwelling in the third tier of British football, but now thanks the a Sheik Mansour they're one of the best teams in England. I honestly don't know what to think of it. On one hand, I like how their success finally managed to throw off United, whom they beat in the FA Cup semi-final. On the other hand, they finished above Arsenal in the table thanks to their 400 million pounds of spending. Me no likey. Let me outline their most likely plan on how to improve the squad in the summer: LET'S SPEND SOME MOOLAH. They also better hope that Mario Balotelli and Edin Dzeko finally step up and fill their potential, because they will also most likely have to fill Carlos Tevez's boots. It seems as if he could be moving away from the Mancs, especially since he was told by Sheik Mansour himself that he is allowed to leave. Recently, the team's squad has really been clicking, and towards the end of the season they were, I hate to admit it, playing some great footy. The midfield trio of Yaya Toure, David Silva, and Nigel De Jong can only improve next season, and can soon look like a formidable squad that any team in Europe would be scared to face, if they aren't already. So what can they do to improve? Other than what was stated above, not much really. Maybe a few big name signings could come in, and knowing City, I'm ready for some crazy transfer news.

Now, time for some predictions. It'll be tough to call a winner for next season's Premier League. Honestly, I believe that Arsene Wenger will make the best transfers for his squad, and will end up winning the Premier League title. As for the other challengers, I wouldn't be surprised if they win other silverware in England and abroad. We'll just have to wait and see.

My Predictions for 11/12:
Premier League Winner: Arsenal
2nd Place: Manchester United
3rd Place: Manchester City
4th Place: Chelsea/Liverpool
FA Cup Winner: Manchester United
Champions' League Winner: FC Barcelona
Premier League Top Scorer: Robin Van Persie
Carling Cup Winners: Liverpool
 Player of the Season: I honestly don't know, probably someone British.
Young Player of the Season: Henri Lansbury