Archive for the ‘Football Blogs’ Category

Optimism: hopefulness and confidence about the future or the successful outcome of something. Now, please do not mistake this for ‘delusions of grandeur’, which, when ‘defined’ into Google, reads ‘Liverpool Football Club’.

Being an optimistic fan is often counter attacked by a sarcastic comment (or simply “#deluded”) and since the signings of Lukas Podolski, Olivier ‘everyone’s man-crush’ Giroud and Santi CaTHorla (I doubt Paul Merson will ever pronounce our diminutive playmaker’s name right), I, Daniel Tregoning Blazer have become something of an optimist.

It has been a while since I can honestly say I have been an optimistic Arsenal fan, rather than deluded, bordering on neurotic, one. Every fan has suffered from this grandeur and every season since Patrick Vieira smashed home that penalty against Manchester United to win the FA Cup in 2005 I have, without hesitation, stood by my opinion/delusion that this year will be Arsenal’s…so what’s changed?

Well, this isn’t ‘Arsenal’s year’. BUT next season IS.

Robin van Persie HAS been replaced (sorry to burst the Sun’s ‘Arsenal will cease to exist’ bubble). No, I know we haven’t signed Athletic Bilbao’s Fernando Llorente or Napoli’s Edinson Cavani or re-re-signed Jeremie Aliadiere (we haven’t have we?!) but Arsene has shared the workload. Lukas Podolski, Oliver Giroud and Theo Walcott are capable of 12-15 goals each; Santi Cazorla, Gervinho, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jack Wilshere and the rest of the midfield will easily score 6-10 goals each; according to my Mathematics that makes…a hell of a lot more than 30. So front-line, goals- SORTED.

The midfield (with Nuri Sahin finally signing) is complete. Many sections of the Emirates would argue we need that Claude Makelele defensive midfielder and I definitely wouldn’t say no to a Yann M’Vila or Etienne Capoue signing but it is a luxury a self sustaining business model like AFC doesn’t need right now; I would even argue Mikel ‘future Brylcreem ambassador’ Arteta is our DM? The wealth of options in the midfield is something that even Manchester ‘lets buy every flavour of the month’ City don’t have.

Now, to two words that usually send shudders down even the most positive of Gunners, ‘Arsenal’s defence’. This is an area that definitely is a weakness but not in the proportions that pundits would care for you to believe.

Laurent Koscielny was the 2nd best Premier League defender last season (behind Vincent Kompany) although I’m still waiting for the upper echelons of the media to realise this?!

Now for my optimism to become reality in the Premier League season of 2013/14, Le Profeseur needs to shift Thomas Vermaelen out to left back (*goes into hibernation through fear of backlash at this suggestion*) and here is why; ignoring the fact that the newest resident of Cell Block H, Andre Santos can’t defend and Kieran Gibbs is probably overrated and from the same gene pool as Amaury Bischoff, TV5’s understanding of when to ‘stay’ and when to ‘go’ is, frankly, criminal; for every heroic winner against Newcastle United, there are three or four occasions when our new captain misjudges situations and gets caught out of position but Koscielny ‘mops up’.

So, with Verm out on the left and obviously Bacary Sagna at right back, who to partner Koscielny at the heart of the defence? Phillipe Mexes? Sakho? Why not Per Mertesacker? Okay, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks (or pace) but he is an option I love AFC being able to have. So for me, CB is an issue and the final piece of the jigsaw that will see us back in amongst the trophies.

Arsene Wenger nearly didn’t make it, had to drag several thousand of us ‘kicking and screaming’ to the new era of Arsenal Football Club and admittedly come the end of the current campaign it will have taken seven seasons to get ‘there’ but, boy will it be worth it. You can quote me on that!

Think I’m deluded? Or just want to tell me what your perfect Sunday would be? Then find me on Twitter @DanielTBlazer

We all remember the goal that announced a 16 year old, Wayne Rooney to the wonderful world of football and as that ball nestled in the goal of David Seaman fans, pundits and players alike all began dreaming of what this English sensation could go on to achieve but a decade on from that afternoon on Goodison is Rooney really reaching the potential his talents deserve?

Sir Alex Ferguson delivered a warning to his striker after the Scouser missed another penalty against Bolton Wanderers at the weekend, with the Scotsman declaring “Wayne had his moments but he can do better really,” And you really would find it hard to disagree with the Red Devils manager.

At the age of 26 the world of football really has to stop viewing ‘Wazza’ as the ‘boy wonder’ that exploded into our lives ten years ago and to a certain extent, Rooney himself has to stop seeing himself as this teenage starlet and start playing with an air of maturity because it is hindering the volatile England international, especially when you consider that at the age of 25 Maradona had single handedly won the World Cup with Argentina and Bobby Moore achieved the same feat.

Rooney has experienced it all in football and now Fergie is looking for the former Everton striker to consistently step up and be the leader that his Red Devils side needs, much like the way Ronaldo and Messi do in La Liga, the former Aberdeen boss is desperate for his ‘superstar’ to have the same application and impetus that the two previous Ballon D’or winners consistently have in every 90 minutes.

In the run up to the European Championships Wayne Rooney has to ask himself one question and that is ‘Does he want to be the best player England have or does he want to be deemed one of the world’s greatest players?’ He definitely has the talent to be the latter.

If you want to let Rooney know about me then find me on Twitter @DanielTBlazer

You know those pages on Facebook that clog up your news feeds? Annoying aren’t they. Usually pointless advertising and spamming of my own personal social media space (an oxymoron if ever there was one), however in amongst the adverts making me feel inadequate about my manhood (why these are on a Fifa banter page, god only knows) but one fan asked a question that got me thinking, ‘Who is the best left back in the Premier League?’

Firstly let me say, Ashley Cole is not going to be considered because my twenty year plan to make Cheryl Cole/Tweedy my wife will be ruined if she reads this article about what a wonderful left back he is/was.

Jose Enrique appears to be one of the bargains of the season so far at £6 million, with the Spaniard being key in Liverpool only conceding 18 Premier League goals this season, which is only bettered by Manchester City (16). The former Newcastle United player has defended with maturity and attacked with force, encompassing everything the modern day full back is about, however Enrique is yet to make his international debut which is surprising given his form and Spain’s supposed shortage at left back.

Leighton Baines, arguably the most consistent left back over the last two years or so which has started to earn the defender recognition at international level. The former Wigan Athletic man has an attribute that hasn’t been seen in a left back since Roberto Carlos and that is his ability from dead ball situations, which has proved invaluable to Everton with the likes of Louis Saha making Emile Heskey look prolific.

Neil Taylor has been one of several positives from the Premier League new boys Swansea this year, the Welsh outfit have been a great addition to the world’s best league. The Wales international has it all, the pace, the calmness when under pressure and the attacking tendencies; admittedly at 22 the former Wrexham defender isn’t the complete package but given a season or two at the top level and rumours such as the ones linking him with Arsenal will, no doubt be a common occurrence.

Admittedly I started this article thinking there were going to be five or six decent left backs but clearly I’m mistaken.

Overall, you can’t overlook consistency and Baines has been a solid performer for two seasons now. Although the Englishman may not have the Spanish flair or the ability to reach the levels Neil Taylor can, at the moment you can’t look past the Everton man.

Let me know who you think is the best or just give me advice on how to make Cheryl Cole mine on Twitter @DanielTBlazer

Everyone regained their breath? What a Super Sunday that was, with arguably the best game of the day being saved till last. Manchester City narrowly edged out a valiant Arsenal attempt to take at least a point away from the Etihad Stadium, but what did we learn from that enthralling ninety minutes?

Arsenal are involved in the best games of the season – They’ve lost 8-2, won 5-3 at Stamford Bridge and lost 2-1 in a very entertaining North London derby. The Gunners inability to defend but ability to attack have allowed neutrals to enjoy some of the best Premier League games ever and this campaign isn’t even half a season old.

Wenger never ceases to amaze – In the Frenchman’s post match interview he concluded that “We are now out of the title race” Err sorry Arsene, but were you ever in it?

RVP’s record affected his game – No one even knew such a record existed but a few weeks ago the media went crazy as the Dutchman closed in on Alan Shearer’s 36 Premier League goals in a calender year. Yesterday for the first time, I saw Van Persie seem fixated on this possible achievement and several occasions take the selfish option instead of sliding in one of his team mates much to the frustration of them and no doubt, the fans.

Micah Richards is a shocking defender – *and jump * Sorry, that was me getting off the ‘Micah Richards for England’ bandwagon. The Manchester City right back was terrible yesterday, I mean we’ve always known he was clumsy (probably should have been a penalty against Ramsey) but the Englishman took his inability to defend to all new levels. If Arsenal had utilised the left wing at all they would have found copious amounts of space for Gervinho, Walcott and Arshavin, on so many occasions Richards was tucked inside Vincent Kompany or Kolo Toure highlighting his lack of positioning and tactical understanding. This performance comes after a terrific attacking and defending performance from Glen Johnson earlier in the afternoon.

The Arsenal Utopia is over – For many years Arsene Wenger’s side have been deemed the second greatest passing team on the planet behind Barcelona, however at the Etihad yesterday that myth died. The Gunners passing was far from slick and in the opening twenty minutes it was nothing short of suicidal far from the crisp passing days of Pires, Bergkamp and even more recent such as Hleb and Fabregas, if anything City played the ‘Arsenal way’.

Mancini can’t help but revert to type – This season the Man City manager seemed to cave in and gave the media and the fans what they wanted, free flowing attacking football with all of their striking superstars on the pitch at once. However yesterday the ice cool Mancini went back to his old stereotypical Italian ways; with the score at 1-0 and the game far from won the Italian took off Mario Balotelli and replaced him the versatile but defensive James Milner. The substitution surprised many but worked as Mancini’s side grounded at an Italian scoreline of 1-0.

Gary Neville is a terrible pundit – Oh wait we already knew that.

 

John Terry has looked like Titus Bramble, Frank Lampard has started fewer games than Ali Dia (Google this name if you want a laugh at Graeme Souness…and who doesn’t want to do that), Didier Drogba has been blowing hot and cold more often than Katy Perry and Fernando Torres has just been blowing cold, very cold. What an earth is going on over in the blue half of West London?

Three words, Andre Villas-Boas. Ok, admittedly those words won’t surprise many of you out there and why would it? The former Porto man has come in for more than his fair share of criticism from fans, pundits and journalists alike. Whether it be his confusing tactics, confrontational attitude in press conferences or his choice to defend the impotent Fernando Torres until the cows come home.

So yeah, another generic AVB article right? Wrong. After re-watching the a few highlights from the season so far (because being a student doesn’t allow you to afford a social life on Friday night’s) but this time I was able to watch this time without the bias towards Arsenal, the euphoria surrounding Walcott’s performances and RVP our MVP and as a ‘neutral’ you really do notice a lot more.

I remember Jose Mourinho’s first few press conferences in England and they were very similar to AVB’s confrontational, defensive and borderline aggressive, so perhaps a good omen for Chelsea because the self proclaimed ‘Special One’ achieved great things during his time at Stamford Bridge.

Back to AVB’s press conferences, would a man who should supposedly be scared for his job with Roman Abramovich’s track record really come out and attack the British media and isolate himself further? Whether it be that the Mr Chelski is too preoccupied with his court case, where he stands to lose billions, to really focus on Chelsea but whatever the reason, I can’t help but think AVB knows he has the backing of the 53rd richest man in the world, for this season at least and here’s why.

When a new manager arrives he will obviously want to make his mark and there will be players he will want to move on to pastures new. The problem AVB has is you can’t walk into a club as prestigious as Chelsea and start upsetting the apple cart without good reason,, the Portuguese’s handling of Frank Lampard has caused uproar amongst fans, especially as when the Chelsea ‘legend’ has played this season he has consistently scored and put in some impressive displays. However come January a marquee attacking midfielder signing could finally see AVB get his way with the Englishman.

So the 34 year old’s ‘tactics’ to remove Lampard are still a work in progress however with John Terry the former British Virgin Islands’ manager has managed to achieve want he wanted, and that is for the England international to look vulnerable and replaceable. Twelve months who really could have imagined that Alan Hansen and Gary Linekar would be highlighting a weakness in John Terry’s game on Match of the Day (well maybe Wayne Bridge had hoped.). The high line utilised by AVB has caused nothing by problems for the defensive line of Chelsea and this allows AVB, probably not in January, but in the summer to bring in players he wants, to play the style of football he wants without there being too much uproar due to the inconsistencies in Terry’s performances throughout this season.

A slight kamikaze mission from AVB but sit tight Chelsea fans, twelve months of major overhaul and you could have a man who outstays Sir Alex Ferguson. AVB has a plan and is the man to finally end player power at the Bridge and no doubt bring Mr Abramovich his Champions League.

Loan signings are cheating.  I mean how can Emmanuel Adebayor transform Tottenham Hotspur’s season and perhaps in the long run cost his parent club Manchester City the Premier League title?

For all of the praise the Premier League receives for being the best league in the world, it is fundamentally flawed in that it allows loan deals internally within the same league.

Jamie O’Hara last season joined Wolverhampton Wanderers on loan from Spurs and was a major influence in keeping Wolves in the Premier League. When the tenacious centre midfielder joined Mick McCarthy’s side were languishing in 19th position and eventually avoided relegation by one place and one point. Although you can’t say single handedly that the Englishman pulled Wolves from the brink but you could definitely argue that would have David Edwards and Karl Henry impacted as much in the middle of the park as O’Hara did?

Birmingham City were the team to take the unwanted final place back in the Championship but not because Wolves squad was better than theirs it was because Tottenham Hotspur’s reserves were. How can Spurs influence both ends of the table?

If you can’t loan out players between one Premiership team and another, then league’s such as the Championship are the next best option. The benefits of sending the likes of Adebayor, Jamie O’Hara and Yossi Benayoun out on loan to the lower leagues of English football are huge. Players of clubs such as Cardiff, Bristol City and Watford would learn and gain so much from having players who have Champions League, Premier League and World Cup experience within their team.

At a time where the gulf between Premier League and the Championship is currently criticised as being too big of a step up, surely an influx of experienced international footballer’s within the lesser ranks of English football will help bridge that ever increasing gap?

If we ban in the Premier League surely you’d have to prevent loan deals to teams with the same tournaments too? Adebayor couldn’t join Real Madrid, Quaresma couldn’t join Chelsea and Tevez couldn’t join AC Milan on loan (If the rumours are true). However we would expect Andy Carroll to score for Liverpool before we see a swift decision made by the footballing bodies.

The conflict of interests between loan deals is massive and yet in an era that has seen Serie A basically closed down due to match fixing, the most obvious form of ‘influencing’ games is a legitimate rule within football.

Overall if the rules were to change and internal loans were banned, the team that would benefit the most is Sunderland…as they’d get to send Nicklas Bendtner back.

In recent weeks, Arsenal have been described as ‘a one man team’ and of course this refers to goal machine and captain Robin Van Persie’s influence; so the signs were ominous when Wenger decided to leave the Dutchman on the bench for the weekend’s game against Stoke City. Admittedly, the Gunners didn’t replace the goal scoring threat the former Feyenoord striker brings however, have they have found a ‘Captain Fantastic’ replacement should the obvious happen and RVP and vice captain Thomas Vermaelen get injured?

A very proud Alex Song deputised in the absence of Van Persie and The Verminator. Song described the chance to lead out ‘Arsene Wenger’s red and white army’ as a great way to “show the boss that I am one of the leaders in the team”. Despite an assured performance from the combative midfielder, is Song really the leader Arsenal have lacked since the days of Patrick Vieira?

Like all great arguments there are two sides but drawing up a list of ‘pro’s’ and ‘con’s, well lets face it, is just boring. How about I put Song in different scenarios and see if he is captain material?

If Arsenal (god forbid) suffered the same fate as Chelsea on Sunday and were down to nine men by half time would Song have picked up a deflated side and dominated the second half like Chelsea did? It’s hard to see it. For all his power and steely determination, Song like the majority of the current crop of players, let their heads drop when the team falls behind and don’t dig deep.

Next situation. Cast your minds back to the now infamous ‘Gallas meltdown’ against Birmingham. Ok, it’s not hard to be a better captain then the Frenchman was on that day, but when Arsenal’s season was at a pivotal moment after Gael Clichy conceded a penalty, would Song have composed the team? Can anyone really compose ten ‘headless chickens’?

Although such scenarios make or break captain’s, a real captain will be there for his teammates for the duration of a season. At the moment we don’t have that in Van Persie, let alone Song. However, despite what I’ve said, I’ve always beaten the drum for Song for captain and if the Cameroonian sorts out his lack of discipline with regards to formation as well as cards, then who knows Wenger may just start singing a new song.