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- Video: Arsenal 0-0 Boro: Lackluster Gunners drop valuable points
- Teams: Arsenal v Middlesbrough: Cazorla out, Elneny in
- Team news: Wenger’s update on Ramsey, Welbeck, Giroud & Cazorla
- Preview: Arsenal v Boro, team news, line-up & prediction
- [Photos] Arsenal duo step-up injury comebacks in training today
- [Photos] Arsenal boost as injury doubt trains ahead of Boro game
- Arsene Wenger sets comeback date for forgotten Arsenal man
- Arsenal boss confirms fresh injury doubt for Middlesbrough game
Fran, Stan, and Harry
With our Champions League match against AZ Alkmaar looming, I am just going to use today to briefly talk about a few issues facing the club this week, including the Fran Merida situation, the impending, or not, takeover bid, and a look back at the delusion that is Spurs’, and Harry Redknapp’s, view of their side.
We all know the deal with Merida by now. He is out of contract and so, come January, he is free to discuss terms with any club he wants. Of course, there is one club that is already making noise and that is Atletico Madrid, the player’s boyhood club. The other party making noise is, not surprisingly, Merida’s agent, Joseba Diaz:
We only have an offer from Arsenal but Fran Merida has an illness, for want of a better word, and that is Atletico Madrid and you can’t do anything about that. It started in 1996 when Atletico won the league and the Copa del Rey. He slept on red and white sheets, he followed Atletico whenever he had the chance. Even when he was with his family he wore a gold ring with the Atletico badge stuck on it.
Merida’s illness is, I think, for want of a better word, Joseba Diaz. Many of us have watched him develop over the last two years while out on loan and also with the Reserves. It would be disappointing for him to leave the club now, just as he begins to look like he could make a claim for a spot in the first-team. However, the most disappointing part of the whole thing is that he will leave for nothing. When the courts found him guilty of violating his pre-contract with Barcelona by signing for Arsenal, the club paid the €3.2m judgment levied against him. When you consider the money invested in training him, for the two most crucial years in a young footballer’s development, along with the judgment, Arsenal will, for once, come out on the losing end as far as a young player is concerned.
Stan Kroenke has increased his holding to 29.6% after purchasing a further 427 shares for £3.6m. A Cultured Left Foot talked today about the ambiguity surrounding the intentions of Mr. Kroenke. I wrote many, many months ago that I also believed that Kroenke was acting, or being used by the board, as a buffer to prevent the possible takeover by Usmanov. However, I am not quite so sure of that statement anymore.
Of course, just because Kroenke reaches the magic number of 29.9%, doesn’t mean that the Board have to sell; only that he must make them an offer. It seems inevitable that Kroenke will takeover the club, at some point, but, even though he is close to the threshold, it still doesn’t seem imminent. Amy Lawrence made some perceptive comments on Kroenke’s aloofness on the Arsecast a few weeks ago, and I would have to agree with her. I think most supporters would like for Kroenke to make some kind of statement to the supporters. It doesn’t have to be a definitive statement of intentions but showing up at the AGM and basically refusing to speak can easily be disconcerting for those concerned over the club’s future.
Even if Kroenke took over the club, I don’t believe we would see any major changes. Above all, he’s a smart businessman and he can see that what Arsenal are doing, as a club, is working. Gazidis has come in and done a wonderful job and the club is now making strides in many aspects from reaching out to the supporters more, securing the financial side of the club, as well as providing Wenger with the assistance he needs to do his job.
Finally, on to Harry and Spurs… Harry’s sour grapes were on display when he complained that of our 3 goals, “There wasn’t a good goal among them.” He then went on to give the BBC interviewer a hard time after the match. But most entertaining was Harry’s delusional nature put on display. Like Keane’s delusional ramblings from the build-up, after the match, Harry said the club hadn’t “hit a blip. We have 19 points.” That’s all well and good, Harry, but the club had only 7 points, 2 wins and a draw, in their last 6 matches going into the match. That puts them at 15th in the league over those six matches. Not hitting a blip? I’d like to see what Harry would consider “a blip.”
Even before the match, Harry was saying how it should be a really good game because both teams were playing well and were playing really good football. I had to laugh because Harry’s obviously still living in September while the rest of us have moved on to November. Spurs haven’t looked a good side, or at least haven’t been able to secure results, in almost two months. So when Harry comes into the match talking about playing good football having secured only seven of a possible 18 points in their last six matches, one can’t help but laugh.
This is the difference between Arsene and Redknapp. Look at the picture above… Arsene is getting that upset despite the side holding a 3-nil lead over Spurs. At the same time, Harry is struggling to convince himself that the team is in good form having gotten 7 from their last 18 points. For Arsene, nothing is ever good enough, while Harry tries to portray a team with 2 wins in their last 6 matches as “in good form.”
As for us, we sit atop of the form table and trail Chelsea by five points. Three of those points could very well come from the game-in-hand against Bolton, now rescheduled from the 2nd of December because of conflict with the Carling Cup quarterfinal tie with Money City, and the other two points were the two dropped at Upton Park. So, essentially, what separates us from the Chelsea side that everyone feels will stroll to the title, is the points that were given away at West Ham.
Listening to the podcasts this week, Arsenal are now, all of sudden, considered right contenders for the title again. The reactionary nature of the English football pundits never ceases to amaze me. I just find it highly amusing the way teams are completely written off in the first two months of a 10-month season because they blew a lead or lost two very tough road matches.
In America, sports writers would never write off the Yankees for a chance at winning the pennant even if they got swept in a four-game series early in the season. The pundits just make themselves look like idiots. Are Arsenal all of a sudden contenders again because they beat Spurs 3-nil? No. We were always contenders. That doesn’t change because of one or two matches. No team’s prospects can be rightly determined by one or two matches.