New Season Countdown Continues/More Conversations With Dante

I couldn’t stand the sight of Clown No. 1 raising the Emirates Cup. I’m glad we won but the ceremony had an air of cheapness about it though. It felt like I was watching also-rans from a beauty contest bonding on a night of commiseration. The sad outing was led of course by the homeliest of them all, the unwelcomed poodle walker.

When I see that clown and his understudy, I think of the car bumper stickers that say ‘MY OTHER CAR IS A PORSCHE’. It wouldn’t be so bad if we had a world class No. 1 and those two clowns were just getting some air time to keep their voices fresh. My frustration mounts as we get closer to Liverpool away.

El Cunto asked why that guy is still at Arsenal. I wonder that everyday. Everyday!

He reminded me that my earliest disapproval of the clown didn’t come after failing to hold a lead with only 38 minutes remaining in the Champions League Final. I said he wasn’t good enough and had to go as far back as February 2005, after Man United went to Highbury and embarrassed us 4-2. In Barcelona, he could have made himself an Arsenal legend. He could have shown that being down a man doesn’t mean you have to lose the game. He could have shown some serious spine. He failed miserably.

Two near post goals does not make people remember you for anything but failure. Well, except those who argued with me that he was good enough for Arsenal and that we could win the league with him. And then there were those who said that the goals were not as bad as I was making them out to be. One prominent and very, very successful blogger argued that the goals were not scored at the near post.

That’s when I knew I’d better be more picky about whom I discuss matches with.

The season following the CL disaster, Clown No. 1 and Swiss Miss conspired to lose another final. Two in two seasons! I doubt many people have placed the level of blame on this guy that he deserves for stunting the growth and bashing the confidence of the young players. I state with no hesitation that had we won either or both of those finals – especially the League Cup Final vs. Chelsea because the kids got us there and many featured in the final – the level of belief and resulting thirst for more success could have made all the difference. Instead, we have a group still struggling for identity, a group short on focus and confidence, just like the most fraudulent of goalkeepers to ever wear the Arsenal top. As El Cunto so correctly pointed out, if your spine is weak, so is the rest of your team. We’ve had that motherfucker at our club for too long.

I seethe when I write anything beyond a few sentences about him. I better move on to another topic. Arsene, PLEASE do something.

I caught up with Dante earlier this week. I could sense the excitement and eagerness in waiting for the new season to start. I could also sense a bit more bite this time from the man who always looks cool but can spew venom with the best (or worst) of ‘em. By mid November, I expect him to be fully lathered and spitting fire.

Dante: We are 11 days away from the start of the season and I cannot wait! One trophy down four more to go (League, UCL, Milk Cup, FA Cup)!

Agent 86: [Thinking; I used to be just as optimistic in past seasons. I want the new season as much as anybody but not with that set of keepers we have right now.]

Yeah, man! It’ll be a very interesting season.

Dante: This is how I saw the Emirates Cup:

Wilshere and Fimpong are BEASTS!!! I know I have said it before but they both keep on impressing me. Yes, Wilshere made a mistake when he was obstructed by Fortune but it came to nothing.

Agent 86: I’m glad you brought up Wilshere. El Cunto has tagged Wilshere as a showboat. I don’t see it. The kid has poise and focus way beyond his years. Our colleague (he who shall remain nameless) at 1886 made a good point, ‘what Wilshere did was not uncommon for a young player in the early stages of his career and certainly Arsenal players [young and old] have been criticized for not hoofing the ball and trying to play their way out of danger’.

I’m not worried about Wilshere being a showboat at all. I’d need to see more than just a questionable example of what might not even be showboating before indicting him.

Dante: [With almost uncontrolled enthusiasm] But that VOLLEY!!!!! And the kid has an attitude. Love it!!! We need attitude in the squad.

Agent 86: We used to have attitude. We used to have swagger. You can’t quantify them but they make a big difference. Imagine what teams felt like when they saw Henry and Pires with Bergkamp standing not far away. We need to get that back. We have a few players who can get us there but only time will tell. I have to say I really like what I see in Frimpong. I know he’s still a pup but…

Dante: Frimpong does not let anyone have time on the ball. He doesn’t dribble much but hey, if he loses the ball he will get it back!

The first goal against AC Milan impressed me for a few reasons;
1. Gibbs shielded the ball extremely well while having a player draped over him then to send Arshavin off to the races, this was very good to see from the 20 year old left back.
2. Arshavin; what can I say? What a run! I don’t know what was better, watching that run and final ball to Chamakh or rewinding back to where Gattuso looks like he has been thrown out of a speeding Ferrari. PAAAAAHHH BOSS!!
3. Chamakh’s finish; well taken! He did the right thing and looked calm in front of goal.

Agent 86: [My turn to emote.] YES! Gibbs showed tenacity. Arshavin showed strength. Chamakh showed a good finisher’s cool. It was the first really telling highlight of the (pre) season for me. It was all there – industry, strength, and skill.

Dante: Issues I had with the games against both Celtic and Milan; in both games, we looked tired after about the 75th minute.

Agent 86: To be expected! They’ve been training really hard and some guys played in both Milan and Celtic matches back to back.

Dante: When Frimpong went off in the second half of the Milan game we lost our possession edge, similar to the way we do when Song is unable to play. Theo cannot cross to save his life! He is dangerous but anyone with that much speed is dangerous with or without the ball. Only positive I can take is that he must have got the same treatment about defending Arshavin did because I saw him next to the right back a few times when the ball was in our half.

Agent 86: On current evidence, I’m convinced Theo is not good enough. I don’t know if he’ll ever get there. He plays like a really good athlete who took up the game later than the other kids. He’s got some ability but like it or not, Chris Waddle made a good point about the football brain.

Some Blame Wenger for bad coaching where Theo is concerned. I don’t. I just feel he is what he is. Wenger coached Alex Song. He coached Robin. He coached Cesc. They haven’t turned out too badly. Theo does track back though. I’ve seen him do it regularly.

Dante: For Celtic’s second goal I have two different gripes. Djourou is not ready yet. I have faith he will be later on, but not to start the season with. I know Koscielny will partner The Verminator but no one else has been bought so I shudder to think of Djourou being thrown in early on in the season.

Agent 86: On Djourou; I refer you to what El Cunto posted Monday.

Dante: This passive and active offside **** has to stop. There was a Celtic player off side, being played offside by the whole back line. The ball was played into his general area he ran for it becoming active in the play then stopped, turned around and walked back. Flag never went up another Celtic player ran on and then poor marking after that did us in. What’s the point of playing offside when the passive player can pretend to go for the ball and stop, essentially dummying the defense????

The silly way to fix this is to make all passive offside players signal this by having to stop and re-tie their shoe lace on one shoe before joining the play. The easy way is to take this whole passive verbiage out!

My thoughts on Cesc are as follows:
I’m sick and tired of this!!

Agent 86: I have been for some time. I am disturbed by Barcelona’s latest that Wenger was ready to sign for them in 2001. Yeah, right! They’ve sunk to the depths of _pur_ with this almost signed bullshit.

Chat later, Agent 86

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Arsene Speaks

Arsene’s post match comments were telling. He has said what I have been thinking for weeks. Cesc must make it clear that he is at Arsenal and end the madness.

That alone won’t make Barcelona or Barcelona’s players stop making annoying comments about our captain but it will go a long way to help us all move along, even if only temporarily. Arsene has been fed up with all the chatter but what can he do? “There are a lot of things I don’t master in football and the rumours are one of these things.” He went on to address the tapping up question as well, “They [Barcelona] certainly have a case to answer but it is always the same – how can you prove it?”

So the door remains open for the player to set the record straight. “Cesc has five years to go and that is it…Who can stop the speculation? Only Cesc maybe, I don’t know, maybe not even Cesc.” Quite unsettling!

Common sense says that Xavi, Puyol, and Lerch (with his fucking US navy style buzz cut) should realize that they cannot afford the player. Until such time – and even then there’s no guarantee that we’ll sell – you’d think that they’d go about their business. You’d think that they’d be more worried about the upcoming campaign. Jose Mourinho is not an ordinary manager.

I used to have time for Barcelona. Some great players have worn their colors. They are Real Madrid’s bitter, bitter rival, a status that would endear almost any club to me but that doesn’t make up for acting low-rent and classless.

In other news…

Wilshere’s football instincts were glaring yesterday.
The new signings looked comfortable.
Eboue is to be respected – if Sagna goes down with injury, I won’t fret.
There were no injuries, not that I’ve seen reported anyway.
Wilshere/Frimpong got good experience against Seedorf/Gattuso.
Randall may have given Arsene the green light for a permanent loan.

I was exchanging thoughts with Supah Strikah after the match. He felt that Fabianski might have done better on Pato’s goal. He felt that he didn’t take charge. I commented that it might be harsh to blame him yet I understand the sentiment very well. Let’s be clear. When ever a goal is scored against us, as long as those two clowns are in the nets we will always feel that they could/should have done better. That’s the kind of reputation and support they’ve earned.

Interestingly, Arsene made this point about the goal, “You can’t fault him [Fabianski] for the goal and he did everything else well. The only thing is there wasn’t much command on the free kick. From outside it looked like no-one took charge of the organisation and that’s a little bit down to goalkeeper.” I would add that organisation is also a captain’s job. And it was a bit disappointing to see the taller Djourou mis-time his header and then Vermaelen (captain for the day) beaten to the ball by the admitedlly dangerous Alexandre Pato. Vermaelen can and will do better. Djourou? I’m not so sure.

A fellow Gooner reminded me that he predicted Chamakh would “hit the ground running”. He seems to be settling in nicely. I need to see that, as my confidence is beginning to wane after years of supporting this group unequivocally. The addition of an effective striker is a good thing. Big ups Yardie! You’re right so far.

I just had a vision of Chamakh going nuts when we play Scum, making their shit stadium what Arshavin has done with Anfield. Hopefully our new striker will continue where Bob left off and score against _pur_ for fun, where ever we play them. Having ‘almost signed Rivaldo’ once, now they can claim the same about Luis Fabiano. To compensate for losing out on another Brazilian, Harry Redknapp has bought Anapka, which is a bit baffling. Why do you need another donkey when you’ve got Dawson and King?

So we wait on additional signings as time ticks away. All is not doom and gloom but I’d be really happy if Arsene plugged a few gaping holes. El Cunto said he’d take Friedel. I would too.

Celtic today! The Boss says he’ll play his best side. Oxymoronic since Clown No. 1 will be in goal.

Chat later,
Agent 86

El Cunto the Promoter and the Debut of Conversations With Dante

The Informer has not retired. I sense that he’s not far away, refining his methods, bullying his sauces to get it right, wiping that dried yolk off his handsome face. Trust me. He’ll be back bigger, better, stronger.

Meanwhile, his alter-ego El Cunto is trying his hand at promoting. I began training Monday night for the NYC North London Derby. The herniated discs, pinched nerve, and tendonitis will not stop me playing in this match. If I have any semblance of fitness, I will suit up. It’s that important. Even if I play just ten minutes, I’ll be happy.

We’ll see if I can find enough straps and braces to make a difference. Youth is wasted on the young. Xbox playing, phone text addicted, Facebook junkie little cunts!

The little voice inside my head is saying to forget about playing and go on living relatively pain free. It’s probably right but if this match does happen and is anything like the last time I joined El Cunto for a game, it will be memorable. Two years ago, he organized a 5-a-side that I played in. The temperature was hotter than I’ve ever experienced on a pitch, seriously. Definitely not football weather! To make matters worse, the opposition had three subs for the two 20-minute halves. We had no subs. Nevertheless, despite being down something like 8-2 at Half Time it turned out to be one of the best experiences of my entire life.

El Cunto was nutmegged by some ponytail wearing cnut in the First Half. I could hear the 1886 man, “Oh, It’s like that!?!?” He was not pleased. A Half Time chat, some rehydrating, and a nice breather helped us refocus. El Cunto ran the show. I got stuck in on the ponytail wearing forward – his threat died like a candle blown in the wind but I have to give it to him, he was a decent player.

We pressed on and equalized. El Cunto was on fire. They capitulated. We wound up winning 15-10.

If this NYC North London Derby does happen, put your money on him to shine. And the Bermuda boys are eager to play so it should be fun if nothing else. Me on the other hand, well, just make sure EMTs are on call nearby.

Dante and I chatted the other day. He, like most Arsenal fans these days, has much to say about the current squad. Here are a few samplings from the conversation:

Agent 86: What has stood out for you so far this pre-season?

Dante: Arshavin gets it, after being blasted by an 18 y/o midfielder (Wilshere) for not getting back and doing his part I have seen a slight change in him.

Agent 86: I expect to see serious changes this season where he’s concerned. He owes us. He can be our Messi. I really believe he can be as good as any player in the game today if he puts his mind to it. I suppose it’s about motivation with him. I can’t hide how disappointed I’ve been. I thought we signed a legitimate world star, a football genius.

Dante: Against SK Sturm Graz I watched him point and speak to players about where to be when defending rather than trudging back on the wing head down. This ever so slight change if continued throughout the season could help to ease pressure on the back four.

Agent 86: I agree. There are times when all a defender needs is that little bit extra from a forward or a midfielder to get into a position that changes the opposition’s point of attack and kills a threat. It can be that added effort that gets us a result. Think back to Denilson’s jog back as Rooney and Nani broke away at The Emirates last season.

Switching gears, I‘ve noticed that Frimpong has gotten some very good reviews so far.

Dante: Wilshere/Frimpong instill fear! Not only to opposing pre-season teams but to my delight, in our own players. Our experienced midfielders know Jack is coming, Frimpong is coming, and if it hadn’t been for [insert any number of expletives that equal Northern troglodyte masking as a footballer in a candy-striped top], Ramsey would have arrived! Knowing that these Young Guns could replace you like for like in a game helps to remove complacency from the equation.

Agent 86: Well put! Wenger recently mentioned how you can’t be a top flight footballer without the expectation of having to compete for your place. That as much as anything needs to be addressed. We should have players who’ve experienced competition for places long enough by now. In the recent past, we haven’t had that ‘fear of losing your place’ factor playing in our favor. In fact, it’s time to just stop the general excuse that we are not experienced enough. Even our youngest squad players have gone out on loan and know what’s required of them.

Dante: All the pundits keep on harping on experience, all experience is (these are my [Dante’s] own words not quoted from anyone) is “knowing what you are up against and not fearing it”. Some players in our squad should take a lesson from Mr. Wilshere and Mr. Frimpong.

The conversation moved along swimmingly but we returned to ‘Arshavin the Salesman’:

Dante: I think the thing that will make Arshavin into an unstoppable machine is something simple, A FRIEND!!

At that point, I wandered away in thought. Wow! Could this be the key to sparking our Ruskii genii into action? The idea intrigued me.

Dante: He needs another Russian who is not a female or a pig – as we all know he hates them. He knows Clown 1 is on his way out. Everyone on the squad knows this. That’s why he has never featured*. Arshavin is about himself but when he sees that he can help himself and help the team he is in hence; “I have spoken with Arshavin about Arsenal and London life. He has only had good things to say about the club and the city. He said some very nice things about me going on to be the best goalkeeper in the world – and that he would like me to reach that goal at Arsenal with him.”

Agent 86: I hear you! And if the woman doubles as a pig, keep her from him at any cost. Seriously speaking though, I know that at least one of my colleagues at 1886 has expressed less than positive thoughts on signing Akinfeev but I’m willing to pay for his first 20 minutes’ wages if we sign him. I’d pay the entire first week but with economy and all…

[Clearly not moved by my pathetic attempts at humour] Dante: I watched some of the MLS vs. “The Giants of Europe” such as Man City, _pur_, and Manure. _pur_ will always look bad even if they win 100-0. Thierry did the business again against them on his debut. City looked pathetic and didn’t win a game the whole tour, and United lost to 10-man Kansas City. Now everyone will say, “Oh it’s just pre-season and the stars were not playing.”

Berbatov, Gibson, Giggs, Scholes, Fabio, Rafael, Nani, Welbeck, Macheda, Diouf, Evans, if you know who these players are then SHUT UP!!! STOP CRYING!!!

Agent 86: Cheers Dante! We’ll catch up with you real soon. I’ll work on the jokes if I have time after training for the derby. I promise. Buy the rest of the boys in Bermuda a round for me.

Finally, I found this bit by Arsene interesting:

“Djourou has a small hamstring problem but it is not bad. He should be available for the weekend. Rosicky had a small, small alert. He was supposed to play in the first half but he could have played. I didn’t want to take the gamble, it is only a little problem on his groin and I decided to replace him.”

It reminded me of when a very cynical Gooner (a guy we all at 1886 have butted heads with) once said that Wenger rushes players back from injury. He has far, far fewer sauces than The Informer (who at least can be entertaining) yet was convinced that Wenger was his own players’ worst enemy in that he will make them play while not 100% fit.

I wondered if there has ever been any truth to that when I read the quote above, which clearly shows that Arsene will err on the side of caution.

Chat later!

* Clown No. 1 started the match against SC Neusiedl 1919. Hopefully, it will be his last start in our uniform.

Breezy Austria

– What can we really tell from these pre-season fixtures against lightweight Austrian opposition? This isn’t to slight our opposition or our approach to pre-season. I’d argue that the matches are good for building stamina levels, but the training is what is actually most important.

– Tonight we faced Neusiedl 1919 and never got out of second gear. What did we learn today?

– Carlos Vela really loves to score chipped goals. In fact, I’d argue that 75% of his goals for Arsenal have been off chips.

– Johan Djourou went off injured in the first half. He was not limping badly, so it might have been precautionary. He spent all of last year recovering from an injury. Sol Campbell is heavily rumored to be signing with Newcastle. That leaves us with three regular CB’s (four if you count Alex Song, which I’d rather not). We need to sign defenders. People may be happy to be rid of Gallas, but I’d kill to have him back on the squad. With van Persie given the No. 10 jersey, that’s not going to happen.

– Which naturally leads to Koscielny. He is what every Arsenal blogger has pointed out; he has a slight build. But we can’t really tell anything in these games. We’re not facing class opposition, he doesn’t have much to worry about, any lapses could be due to sheer boredom (even if that’s unprofessional). Point blank, we’re not to learn enough about Koscielny until we see him in the Premier League.

– Wilshere and Emmanuel-Thomas continue to impress. Wilshere’s deft touch is a sign of true skill. Emmanuel-Thomas is a battering ram up front and is an alternative to both Bendtner and Chamakh. Emmanuel Frimpong is also making a case that he’s moved up in the queue past Craig Eastmond. Frimpong’s assured defensive shield duty was noticeable, he snapped into tackles and chased until he won the ball back.

– Manuel Almunia finally started in goal. Vito Mannone saved a tame penalty.

– Nasri is pulling all of the strings in midfield right now, but Cesc is taking a holiday in Spain hearing sweet nothings from his best friend Gerard Pique.

– The Emirates Cup is very soon, we’ll learn more then.

Andrey Arshavin

Some Gooners at the end of last season wanted Arsenal to sell Andrey Arshavin. Their argument was that it was better to sell now before his stock falls. What was their reasoning?

One good game in four isn’t good enough for one of Arsenal’s high profile and experienced players. They wanted to find a player who was more consistent. A player with a higher work rate and better attitude. Many Gooners didn’t like the fact that Arshavin was using his personal website to voice his concerns on controversial subjects relating to his Arsenal career.

The fact that he said that he has always wanted to play for Barcelona at a time when the Spanish champions were openly and illegally trying to sign the Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas, was one of many comments by the Russian that irked Gooners around the world.

It’s like telling your girlfriend that you think her friend is sexy.

My problem with Arshavin is his work rate. The man has a weakness – its tracking back and helping your team out by defending and winning the ball back. Then there’s his lazy attitude that suddenly appeared in the second half of last season. The West Ham game at home last March was a prime example of this.

Arsenal were chasing for the title. After five minutes Denilson puts Arsenal 1-0 up. Just before half-time Vermaelen gets harshly sent-off for tangling with the Mexican Franco. West Ham came out in the second half pumped up and ready to test Arsenal’s 10 men. They were after all fighting against relegation.

Song put in a man of the match of performance. Cesc rallied the troops. Arshavin disappeared.

During the recent pre-season friendly against Barnet, I noticed Jack Wilshere berating Arshavin for not covering or tracking back. Two minutes later, the ex-Zenit Saint Petersburg player cracked shot against the Barnet bar with barely any back lift.

Those two minutes said everything about Arshavin. Here’s a man who can conjure up a moment of magic out of nothing but who is also not willing to graft for the team.

Against Barnet, Arshavin was voted Man of the Match by Arsenal.com subscribers even though he only played half a game. Against Sturm Graz on Wednesday, Arshavin went missing again.

Rumors are abound that the Russian play maker will be offered a new improved contract by Arsenal.

Perhaps this might inject some work rate into his game. If it doesn’t, Jack Wilshere is waiting – biting at the leash.

Keep It Arsenal

El Cunto

If You Spend Too Much Time in Bolton, You Start to Look Like the Locals

Jack Wilshere wants regular first team football next season with a Premiership club.

Bolton are offering him such a wish.

Arsenal are looking for a centre-back – preferably an English one due to UEFA’s homegrown player rule, which only affects clubs playing in the Champions or Europa Leagues.

Bolton have Gary Cahill – an Aston Villa cast-off who failed to make the England World Cup squad. This lowers his price in the transfer market.

But what’s the going rate?

Chris Smalling, who has only played 13 times for Fulham and four times for the England Under-21’s, cost Manchester United 8 million pounds plus a further 2 million depending on appearances for United and England.

Smalling is 20, while Cahill is 24 and only has one England Under 21 cap but over 80 Premiership appearances.

Understandably, Bolton do not want to lose their best defender, just like Arsenal don’t want to sell Cesc Fabregas. Sometimes, you just have accept defeat and try to get the best compensation package from the resulting transfer.

The possible key to the Cahill transfer is if Arsenal loan Jack Wilshere to Bolton for another season.

The Gunners are in danger of losing their creative midfielders with Fran Merida signing for Atletico Madrid, Fabregas wanting to sign for Barcelona, and Aaron Ramsey eight months away from a possible first team action.

If Fabregas leaves then his departure will leave Arsenal with only three attacking central midfielders:

Nasri, Rosicky, and Diaby.

Arshavin could play in that role but his tracking back and marking-up are weak, while Rosicky is too injury prone and lightweight, especially in away games.

The other two players whom I failed to mention are Henri Lansbury – who has just spent a season on loan in the Championship with Watford – and Jay Emmanuel-Thomas (JET). However, even though Arsenal rate both players highly, they’re both inexperienced at the Premiership level and will probably only be used as Carling/FA Cup players or sent out on loan again.

Wilshere is seen as a better fit for the attacking central midfield role. He has an eye for a through ball, he likes to “get stuck in” and has shown with Bolton that he can take the physical demands of the Premiership.

If Fabregas stays at Arsenal, then the Cahill deal looks likely with Wilshire heading off to the Reebok Stadium. If he leaves, then Wilshere will probably stay and fight for his first team place. But Wilshere will demand to be loaned out – Newcastle also want him – unless Wenger can give him first team guarantees.

The centre-back position is now a game of poker. Four senior centre-backs are out of contract in a month. Silvestre and Senderos have not been offered new contracts. Campbell and Gallas have, although the latter will probably reject it. This leaves Vermaelen and Djourou as Arsenal’s two most experienced centre-backs. This helps Gallas and Campbell’s hand with both players wanting better contracts.

Campbell is now considering a move to Celtic who have offered him a two year contract. However, Campbell would rather stay another year at Arsenal but wants guarantees of more playing time and better bonuses. If Campbell and Gallas both leave then Bolton have the upper hand at the negotiating table regarding Cahill. Wenger, therefore, might decide to go abroad in order to obtain his centre-backs and thus retain Wilshere. It’s interesting that Newcastle are offering Steven Taylor as bait for Wilshere.

The signing of Chamakh has helped Wenger’s hand in the strikers department. Wenger tried to sign the Moroccan last summer to replace Adebayor. Both players have a lot of similarities in playing style but Chamakh is a cross between Bendtner and Adebayor. Bendtner showed against Barcelona that he’s not world class – even though he thinks that he is. His ego is big and it’s not just due to the young Dane wearing pink boots or insisting on having the No. 52 shirt.

In Denmark, Bendtner is a huge celebrity due to his romance with multi millionaire Danish Princess, Caroline Fleming who is 13 years his senior. She has two children aged six and three from her previous marriage which netted her 400 million pounds. Bendtner often stays at her Valdemars Castle, which has four museums and 21 art galleries within its walls. The Danish striker is madly in love and will not be happy unless he starts as Arsenal’s central striker. Being a sub and sleeping in Valdemars Castle don’t quite match up.

What doesn’t help Arsenal with regards to Bendtner is that his dad is his agent, plus he’s Denmark’s only goal threat in Group E where they will face Japan, Holland, and Cameroon. If Bendtner has a good World Cup, his ego will grow, thus hiding weaknesses in his game. His first touch is poor – not as good as Chamakh’s – and his chances to goals ratio is average.

The truth is that Chamakh is a better more experienced player than Bendtner and also has less of an ego. The fact that he has played six seasons in Le Championnat and is fluent in French will help him fit in faster. He is currently looking to buy a house in the Hampstead area, and with Morocco not involved in the World Cup, he has nothing to distract his move.

Bendtner is useful. He scored vital goals when Van Persie was injured. He’s also getting better but I see danger signs. It wouldn’t surprise me if he demands a move next summer. However, I can only see Aston Villa or Everton coming in for him unless he improves dramatically. If he does improve then a club like Bayern Munich would fit his style and suit his ego.

But dating a Princess doesn’t make you a King, while scoring against Stoke, Wolves, and Hull doesn’t suddenly turn you into Michael Laudrup.

Keep it real, Nicklas.

Keep It Arsenal

Reviewing the Midfield

Cesc Fabregas – Our captain. He apparently wants out of Arsenal, and the last month of the season is probably the reason why. The 4-3-3 formation was installed to get the best out of our Catalan. That’s precisely what it did. Cesc delivered with goals and assists. His injury situation meant that he missed crucial stretches, but nobody can forget his thrilling cameo against Aston Villa and inspirational 2nd half against pompous Barcelona. I can understand why he wants out. In all of his years, he’s only won an FA Cup and a Community Shield. Meanwhile, everybody whispering in his ear are winning trophies. I think he should stay, but if he really wants out and Barcelona are willing to pay more than they’re willing to, then he’ll depart. He’ll be fondly remembered by me when he does, but his Arsenal career will remain slightly lacking (even if that’s not his fault).

Aaron Ramsey – It seemed as though whenever Ramsey was gifted an appearance with the first choice XI, he failed to impress. He was alright in patches, but he failed to impose himself in any way. He started to deliver on his promise in Carling Cup matches and international appearances with Wales. With Denilson regressing, he was given the opportunity to start alongside Cesc and started to come into his own. He remains very young and is one of the most promising prospects in British football. It’s a great tragedy that Shawcross broke his leg and derailed his career for six to eight months. If Cesc leaves, I could see Ramsey becoming an important player for Arsenal in the next two to three years.

Abou Diaby – This guy is an enigma to me. At times, he’s a dominating midfielder who has silky control of the ball. Other times, he’s injured, ineffective, or absent. He’s made the France World Cup squad though, so this season will be seen as a positive one by some. I would strongly suggest that he faded during the close of the season in a way that was extremely disconcerting. I thought that he could make a vital difference against Barcelona. I was dead wrong. We know all about Diaby’s strengths; I’m not sure we know anything about his heart. He should punish the opposition by dribbling forward with power and tackling with precision. I have the distinct feeling that he can only do that against weaker opposition. He has the talent; does he have the willpower?

Samir Nasri – He missed the early part of the season through injury and has just missed out on a spot in the France national team. Does he belong on the squad more than Diaby does? If you start from scratch, yes. If you look at the needs of the France team, maybe not. Regardless, if the decision was made before the Barcelona match, he would have made the squad. Again, another player who came up short in the period that mattered the most. Often shunted to the wing, his play there has often suggested that we may actually need to sign more offensive players, namely strikers and wingers. He plays better centrally (as every gifted player does due to a wider space to play in), but when he was handed the keys after Cesc’s injury, the machine did not run smoothly enough. He may be given that role permanently if Cesc departs, but he’s more of a foil player. To be fair, he hasn’t been played in a central midfield role alongside a player like Cesc, and that is where he might perform best. On the wing, I’m not certain he provides anything more than good link-up play.

Theo Walcott – On the plus side, it looks like he’ll make a nice living as a writer of children’s books. On the negative, he hasn’t improved at all. He’s brittle, doesn’t cross particularly well, and fades during matches. Despite all this, I still feel as though we could fetch 15 million pounds for him if we sold him. I might be delusional, but if he’s effective in the World Cup, somebody may take that chance. That would result in a 6 million pound profit. He still retains electric pace and can make decent enough runs. The problem is, there are large stretches where you don’t see him on the pitch at all. He’s not like Ivica Olic, where he doesn’t have to touch the ball as much to be effective. He needs to learn how to stay in games, be alert, distribute efficiently, and be spontaneous. A good World Cup can only help, but he has a long way to go before doing the number on his back any justice.

Alex Song – He’s a favorite of ours and a reminder that you should never completely write off a player that Wenger has faith in. Before the season, Wenger suggested he didn’t have the stamina to play in central midfield. Clearly, that was just a motivational jab at Song. Alex Song never backs down, either from Craig Bellamy or Adebayor. He is one of the few players, alongside Nasri, who will stand up for players on our team. He was just as good after the ACN as well. He’s one of the first names on Wenger’s starting XI. He’s two more consistent seasons away from being legitimately world class.

Denilson – Unlike Song, Denilson has regressed. He was one of the most underrated players two seasons ago; he never looked comfortable during this season. For one, he was playing in a 4-3-3 system in which his old self might have been better suited to. He should have had the opportunity to be creative and tidy. What it resulted in was goals from distance and a lot of sideways passing. For Denilson to play alongside Song and Cesc effectively, he needs to be more of an offensive threat. If he’s not doing that, he’ll just be embarrassed when trying to track back against Wayne Rooney. Like the others, he is still young, but his star no longer burns as bright. He can be an intelligent distributor, but with his back being a problem as well, he’s a question mark.

Tomas Rosicky – The fact that he played as much as he did should be considered a victory. That being said, he approached nowhere near his old form. When dribbling forward with the ball, Rosicky is a thing of beauty. His willingness to take shots from outside is a plus. Despite the fact that we don’t shoot from outside of the box too often, we’ve actually scored the most goals from distance. Does that mean we take an appropriate amount or that we should take more? Rosicky was earmarked as a No. 10 type player. Because of his frequent injuries, teams should not be built around him. He can pass, he has a decent shot, and he’s intelligent. But too often, he’s also a non-factor. To be fair, he’s just come off from a lengthy injury, so anything we get out of him is a bonus.

Jack Wilshere – He didn’t get many games for the Arsenal First Team. When playing with us, he still seemed a bit frail, but he has some bite to him. A loan move to Bolton under Owen Coyle was probably the best thing for his development. After a few games, Bolton bloggers wondered whether he was actually any good. Now, Coyle is begging us to let him stay. I’m not certain that he’ll be ready for the first team, so if a loan gives us a discount on Gary Cahill, then I think another year with Bolton might get him very close to earning a spot near the First Team.

Fran Merida – He’s officially off the Atletico Madrid. The new “Cesc” leaves just as the real Cesc looks to leave. He’s had flashes here and there, but we can’t make any definitive judgments about this guy. He has a good left foot and is a good signing for Atletico Madrid. Wenger wanted to tie him down to a five year contract. That means he rated him very highly.

Craig Eastmond – A surprise addition to our midfield this year. It’s interesting that he’s usurped Coquelin in the queue (Francis is being groomed at RB now), and he’s shown promise. For now though, he’s not strong enough and can’t really last a full 90. His hard work has resulted in Premier League and Champions League appearances. He’s being brought up in the right way.