Let the season truly begin!!

Even though the season has begun long back and teams have played 3/4 matches each, the real season cannot begin till the transfer window closes and the shape of the teams becomes crystallized. This especially goes for the teams like Portsmouth who bought around 13 players in the window and sold around 11. So after major or minor overhauls in teams across the premier league and the transfer window finally shut on Tuesday we can now concentrate on football rather than the transfer gossip surrounding the game.

I will be commenting on the dealings in the transfer market of all the major teams and am beginning with the layout for Arsenal.

Arsenal sold its leading goal scorer for the last couple of years to Man City but did not go into the transfer market for any replacement. They also sold Kolo Toure and bought Thomas Vermaleen (who by the way is looking like a really good buy by Wenger) as his replacement.

Arsenal could definitely have done with some more good defensive cover both in the centre midfield and centre half positions and a better keeper should have been secured. I know finding good keepers is not that easy but that cant possibly be an excuse. But you know Wenger, and you should know that he will never agree that the existing squad is not good enough or big enough in spite of selling more players than that come in for the last few seasons at least.

I am not worried about the quality of the team we have. They are all good young players who have great futures ahead of them. What troubles me more is the fact that every year we have a few bad injuries to our players and that’s when we are faced with the apparent question of our squad not being big enough and lacking the depth to compete with our Premier league rivals. Why cant we factor in a few injuries and invest in the squad accordingly before hand?

I remember last season too, in January Fabregas was out and we really missed him bad and the team went on to draw a number of matches in a row  till Wenger eventually bought Arshavin on the last day of the transfer window and given some time he was settled he proved to be a very good signing for us. What I never understood then or even now is why Wenger has to wait till the last day of the transfer window to buy a player of Arshavin’s caliber? What is he waiting for? To get a cut price deal or what? I think that’s a big risk and should not be taken when dealing in the market for players of such high class. You never know when a rival might come in and scupper the deal for you.

Frankly speaking If Arshavin had come to Arsenal at the beginning of January, who knows how that bad run of draws might have turned out and we might even have had a chance at the title. Haggling over a million dollars cost Arsenal scores of points and in the broad scheme of things I really wonder if it was all worth it. I am glad that at least this year Wenger had his eyes on Vermaleen and closed the deal much earlier which gave the new joinee time to mingle with the team and helped his integration in the team to a great deal. The result of which is apparent in his performances from the first match itself.

I remember last summer we were trying to get Xabi Alonso from Liverpool who in turn were trying to buy Gareth Barry. Wenger went in with an offer on the last day of the transfer window which was around a million short of what Liverpool wanted. Around 12- 15 million pounds was the amount speculated then. For a player of Alonso’s class couldn’t we have bought him for what it took? For all you know it would have been us selling him to Madrid this year for more than twice the amount we bought him for. And Last season’s results could have been much different with the Spanish partnership of Alonso and Fabregas in the middle. Anyways, what’s happened has happened. We cannot change that but sometimes it pains me to see Wenger haggle over players of the class of Arshavin, Alonso or Nasri. He is too adamant and sometimes his haggling tactics backfire (like in the case of Xabi Alonso) and the negative impact of the same is very difficult to even calculate. Xabi Alonso was a smaller case to point out. Wenger’s policy has cost us many a good players in the past which includes the likes of Ronaldo (Fergie outbid Arsenal), Eto’o (Was offered by Barca in a swap deal for Henry), Wilson Palcacios who had a trial at Arsenal and we suggested him to Birmingham where he flourished and was snapped up by Wigan only to be sold a year later to spurs for a magnanimous profit.

So for all the shrewd deals Wenger has done over the years, he sure has missed quite a few too. Imagine Ronaldo having come to Arsenal instead of going to Manchester united. The last 3 years the title wouldn’t have been at old Trafford. Henry might not have left Arsenal for Barca and what not. But again we should let bygones be bygones and learn to move on.

One good piece of business Wenger has done in the past couple of years is snatching away Aaron Ramsey from under Fergie’s nose a couple of years ago. Ramsey shows so many glimpses of Fabregas when he was that age. I already think its Wenger’s plan to train young Rambo on the lines of Fabregas and groom him to take over the centre of Arsenal’s midfield before we sell Fabregas to one of the Spanish giants for a record breaking amount in a couple of years.

Arsenal teams looks to have good balance this time of the year especially with not many people out with long term injuries. We could have done with a better keeper I am sure, but Wenger decided to continue with his faith in Almunia. Almunia isn’t bad but he is prone to one off errors which can cost us some valuable points.

Defensively I think we are very well covered especially since Senderos could not be offloaded to any team. I still feel Arsenal should’ve stolen Everton’s deal for Johnny Heitinga and brought him to the Emirates and in the process offloaded Senderos to Everton (who were in dire needs of a defender to cover for Lescott’s departure to Manchester City). I rate Heitinga among the very best defenders available in the market today and he would have been a good backup for Gallas and Vermaleen. Anyways we still have Djourou, Silvestre and Senderos as backup for the centre half position. For Right back we have Eboue as a back up to Sagna and for Left back we have Armand Traore and Kieran Gibbs as backup to Gael Clichy. More than enough coverage I guess. Though the quality drop for the backup compared to the first team is immense at some places.

Given Arsenal’s new 4-3-3 formation. I’d prefer Alexandre Song over Denilson as Defensive midfielder simply because Denilson gives away the ball too easily at times. And I continue to say that Song is fast emerging into a great Defensive midfielder for Arsenal. Arsenal recently tied Bendtnar and Denilson to long term contracts and I hear one with revised terms is on the cards for Song too. Denilson can play in this position as a backup in case Song gets injured etc.

In front of Song I would like Fabregas and Nasri to play. Once Nasri is back from injury I would like to see him flourish playing his favored central midfielder role alongside Captain fabulous. Diaby, Denilson, Ramsey and Merida can play as back up for these positions in the absence of Nasri or Fabregas. Merida looked good when he came on as a substitute in one of the matches and he too recently signed a long term contract with Arsenal. Merida sure has potential and just needs to keep working hard in training to impress the manager for more minutes this season.

For the three forwards I would like Van Persie to play through the centre for the sheer reason of his height. Eduardo/Arshavin can play down the left and Arshavin/Walcott can play down the right. Obviously the front 3 formation is very fluid and they will all keep changing positions so as to make runs into the penalty box. As back up to the wide men we have Rosicky returning from injury, Walcott returning from injury soon, young Jack Wilshere with that sensational left foot of his, Carlos Vela, Fran Merida, Diaby, and Armand Traore etc. As a back up at the centre we have Nikolas Bendtnar who scored some crucial goals for the team last season. Then there are Vela and Eduardo who are natural strikers.

I think the squad has a good depth to it when you isolate each position individually. The problems for Arsenal have been when a couple of players face long lay-offs due to injury and there is not enough quality to fill the gaps.

In spite of all that I still think if Arsenals first team players can remain fit for most of the season and especially the crunch matches then we will have a really good season ahead of us and who knows a much awaited trophy might come our way.

Preferred line up: –

 

                                                        Almunia

 

Sagna                        Gallas                        Vermaleen                  Clichy

 

                                                  Alexandre Song

 

                                     Fabregas                         Nasri

 

 Arshavin/Walcott                                                        Eduardo/Arshavin

                                          Robin Van Persie / Bendtnar

 Subs: – Fabianski, Eboue, Djourou, Kieran Gibbs, Walcott/Eduardo, Bendtnar/RVP, Diaby/Denilson/Vela/Rosicky/Wilshere/Ramsey

All in all I can’t say we need to replace some one in the first team (except the goalie) unless it’s with an established world class player. But the bench sure could have been strengthened to a great extent. But still if this Arsenal team cannot put up a good fight for the title as well in the FA cup and Champions league I am sure to be surprised.

 Go gunners go!!!

Man Utd 1 Arsenal 0

Another lame match at display in the first leg of the second semi finals of the Champions league.

Man utd started out all attacking and had a chance just after 2 minutes as Almunia was forced to make a fully stretched save.

Man Utd took the lead from a somewhat unlikely scorer in John O’Shea as he found space after Arsenal failed to clear a corner in the 17th minute of the match.

The goal did calm the nerves at both ends but made the game a lot boring. It was a night of good defense at both ends which was followed by measured attacks.

Almunia made around a dozen saves to limit the scoreline to 1-0. He was a man on a mission to make as many saves as the number of shots that came towards his goal. He did let one go past him from O’Shea but that was more to slack defending from Arsenal that his mistake.

Kieran gibbs at left back was phenomenal. He had to handle Cristiano Ronaldo in the first half and Wayne Rooney in the second half and did he do a fantastic job keeping tabs on both of them. He looked a bit nervous against Middlesborough the other day and i was so not sure about him being pitted against Ronaldo tonight. Maybe all the hype in the newspaper got to the kid. He was out to prove that Clichy should be looking over his shoulders going forward. He had one of the best games of his career without doubt and Weenger would be extremely pleased by his showing tonight.

Arsenals creative 4 i.e. Fabregas, Nasri, Walcott and Adebayor didn’t have much of a game and that was the reason there was no finished product to any of the Arsenal attacks.

Song i think was excellent once again and the more i see of the lad the more sure i am becoming of the fact that he will be one hell of a Star player for Arsenal in the future. Diaby though was disappointing as he kept losing posession and hardly created an attacking move.

Silvestre and Toure were pretty solid at the centre of defense. The defense surprisingly looked pretty good for Arsenal. And that would be a positive thing for Arsenal going into the second leg next week.

I still think Man Utd will prove too much for Arsenal in the second leg. Though i wish Arsenal can nip it with 2 goals in the second leg.

See you next week. Till then Adios…

Liverpool 4 Arsenal 4

What a game there was at display. 7 second half goals and yet not a winner…

Arsenal took the lead from a delightful team move following a error by Mascherano. Nasri took the ball and played a measured pass to Fabregas who then set it up for Arshavin to slot it in the middle for the opening goal of the game.

That was the only goal of the first half. Liverpool dominated the half but Arsenal got the lead.

Liverpool came all guns blazing in the second half and scored 2 goals in the first 10 minutes of the second half through some more defensive errors via a Torres header and a scrappy little finish by Benayoun.

Arsenal got the lead again after Arshavin completed his hat-trick by scoring a quick double, the first of which was a stunning finish to blast the ball across Reina’s goal and past him.

Then Arshavin scored a late goal at the stroke of 90 minutes for Arsenal his 4th of the game and the game was all but won by Arsene Wengers team.

But the Arsenal defense which at times has seemed liked one of the worst defenses in the premier league shattered again to allow Benayoun to score the equalizer in injury time.

Arsenal defense including the young keeper Fabianski looked completely below average throughout the game.

I dont understand what Wenger saw in Fabianski and why he has not gone and bought a decent keeper in the summer or at least the January window.

I sincerely hope Wenger buys a good first team keeper in the summer and also a couple of good defenders.

Arsenal might be cursing themselves to have given away 2 points as they gave away the lead three times after leading at 1-0, 3-2 and 4-3.

Well all said and done the amazing run of games for Arsenal in the premiership continues as they are now unbeaten in 19 consecutive league games.

Bendtnar for me was the weak link as he hardly managed to touch the ball all evening. If there is a player who is lazier than Berbatov it will have to be Bendtnar. He just tries to put on a show of moving around but somehow managed to hardly get a decent possesion of the ball even once…

I am not such a big fan of Adebayor and dont regard him all that highly, but after seeing Bendtnar today i have started to realize why Arsenal fans around the globe regard Adebayor as such a great player.

Wenger, please sell Bendtnar, Denilson and Fabianski in the Summer and buy at least 1 good defender and a good Keeper. Another versatile defender might not be so bad i guess…

Football Manager 09: – Second Coming

Since my earlier post on FM 09 received such positive response, I have decided to write more Football Manager 2009 related posts on my blog…

So here’s an update on the game I have been playing. I had chosen to Manage Manchester United at the start of the 2008-09 season. Been two seasons at the club now. I had purchased Messi (82 Mil) and Andres Guardado (19mil) in the second season itself…I have sold Berbatov and bought Bojan for more or less same amount this season…Also Real Madrid wanted Guardado bad this season coz of his excellent performance for my team in my second season in charge. So I decided to Cash in on him by selling him for 50 milJ. I bought Stevan Jovetic for around 15 odd millions as Guardado’s replacement. I have also bought Johnny Heitinga as the replacement to the tired legs of Ferdinand. To replace Gary Neville, I trained Johnny Evans to play as right defender and he has become a really good right back for me now.

 Also I am training Mamadou Sakho to be the long term replacement for Evra, I dunno why I usually feel the charm of a player ends when he reaches 29/30. So I prefer buying young players to replace the old ones once the senior players start nearing 30.

 I am trying to sell Evra now but there seem to be no takers already for the 29 year old. Also i wanted to buy Fabregas as the centre midfield man for my team, but could not as Arsenal are unwilling to sell him even for 85 Mil. Will try and buy him again for 90/95 mil.

 Also I bought this really promising  young South American AM/FC from Villareal for 10/12 Mil called Roquero. He is good at free kicks and has already scored some really good goals for my team. Also had bought Bojan at the beginning of the season. So now I have got some really good forwards, like Rooney, Bojan, Alex Texieria, Roquero and Tevez. So I am trying to sell Tevez for around 60 mil. So that I have sufficient funds to buy both Fabregas and Pato (remember that I already have around 75 mil as of now). 

 I have already reached the January transfer window and am re-inforcing players for next season. I have already signed the brazilian attacking midfielder from Bremen, Ribas Diego on a free transfer. Also trying to rake in Rosina from Italy on a free transfer, but AC milan, Inter, Roma and Chelsea are interested in the player and have bid for a transfer in January window itself. So I also have bid 20 mil for the player and offered him a great 135,000 pounds a week salary so that he cannot reject joining my team. Then when the transfer is supposed to go through, I will keep delaying it again and again till the end of the transfer window. And when the window closes I will offer him a much lower salary and effectively sign him on a free transfer for the next season. This is a very effective strategy i have been using and works like a charm… 🙂

 Also better way is to keep delaying the transfer till end of season and once the player is out of contract he will join for a much lesser amount. Had once used this technique to sign Robinho when managing Barcelona. When I wanted to offer him a contract in the January transfer window, he wanted a very high salary, somewhere in the range of 125,000 pounds etc. So i kept delaying the transfer and once cancelled, used to offer him a new contract again only to delay it further. This way I pushed the transfer till the end of the season. Then when he was out of contract from Manchester City, I offered him a contract and guess how much he wanted to join my team? Just 55,000 pounds a week compared to almost 2 and half times he demanded earlier 🙂

 I am also on the look out to sign the young Russian Goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev on a free transfer at the end of the season so that he joins me in the January of next season. Lot of good English players will also be out of contract and I plan to snap them up on free.

 Another great way to build up a great youth team without spending much money is to search at the end of each season for youngsters who are out of contract. For e.g. I search for players who are 16 yrs old and sort them by clubs. Then i see players from large clubs like Barcelona, Athletic Madrid, AC Milan, and Real Madrid etc… All clubs from top European leagues are worth a try. Offer contract to each of these top club players and your assistant manager will let you know if the player would be a quality/good/Decent/last resort signing. When starting a new youth club, I always sign all that are decent and above. Once I have a established youth system in place, i offer contracts to only players who would turn out to be good/quality players. This wont cost you a single penny and you can build up a great youth squads. Based on training and potential some of these youngsters can eventually turn into good first team players and if nothing will definitely rake in good transfer revenue for your team.

 I have won the super cup and the club world championship this season already and am well on track to win the championship, Champions League, League cup and FA cup tooJ

 I recently bought a Bosnian player, a defender for around 2.5 mil. He didn’t get a work permit, but has still been added to my club. I don’t know how I can re-apply work permit for him and I cannot even play him in competitive matches. Don’t know what to do. If anyone has faced such a situation and knows how to get rid of such a player or how to get a work permit for the same, let me know.

 I will soon post more about the tactics I use and the details about my team and how to optimize the tactics for effective match play once I’ve figured out how to upload the prt screens from the game here on wordpress.comJ

 

Till then keep looking at the space for more FM 2009 updatesJ

 

Arsenal lose points again…Wonder what Wenger has to say now?

Arsenal drop another 2 points today and I am incensed as i write this post… It hurts to see the team one expects so much from, under perform so consistently.

I am indeed at lack of words and i continue with my stand that Arsenal needed to have completed the signing of Arshavin much much earlier.
Title hopes are definitely lost now. I am even scared to think how stars like Fabregas, Van Persie, Adebayor and the likes will react in the summer if Arsenal miss out on the Champions league spot this season.
Anyways, Arsenal’s and in particular Wenger’s policy of buying young and developing players is not gonna work anymore clearly. Aston Villa and Everton are giving Arsenal the run for the 4th place and sooner rather than later Manchester City will catch up. Definitely not this season, but with the money they have to spend, they may surely get quality in a couple of seasons and soon Arsenal’s 4th place slot will be taken by them.
So Arsenal need to change their policy if they need the Champions league dough to come each season.
Lets at least hope and pray that the Arshavin signing goes through and he brings the much needed creativity to the side.

Please Wenger, do something about the teams performance…

Will Arsenal regret not closing the Arshavin deal after dropping points against Everton?

The Arshavin deal has been the most dragged deal of this January transfer window…

A bemused Arshavin! Laughing at Arsenal?

A bemused Arshavin! Teasing Arsenal?

Arsene Wenger knew of his depleted squad much before the transfer window opened. But he waited till it was open and then decided to go ahead with the pursuit of Arshavin. Now the transfer has hit a lot of road blocks, some because the two clubs could not agree on a transfer fee for the player and later it appears coz Arsenal could not afford the wage demands of Arshavin.
Arshavin is a good player, he may not be the best but he sure is a decent lad to have in ones squad to provide the much needed creativity that the current team seems to be lacking in the absence of playmakers like Fabregas and Rosicky.
Form what I have seen of the guy on you tube and in Euro-2008, I was impressed by the mans goal-scoring ability as well as his dribbling ability.
Now if I had the choice I wouldn’t have wasted time haggling over a few millions with Zenith or a few thousand pounds with the player himself, but would have liked to get in the reinforcement as soon as possible.
Arsenal was a club in crisis just before the January window opened and Wenger should’ve addressed the squad’s depleting condition to the earnest. He decided to be his usual adamant self and maybe, maybe cost Arsenal the Champions league place. The fact that Arsenal lost 2 points at such a crucial time when they were behind Aston Villa by 6 as it is and needed to win every match to be able to catch them.
Now as usual Arsenal will keep waiting for Aston Villa and Manchester united to drop points in their pursuit of the EPL title or even the Champions League place.
Its quite sad to see Arsenal trail behind the leaders each season and hope for them to lose or drop points to eventually be able to win the league.
As an ardent Arsenal fan I would love for once to see the other top teams chasing Arsenal and this should happen nearing the end of the season rather than after the first few matches of the season.
I think Arsenal have made a big mistake in letting the Arshavin deal hanging in the air till so late in the transfer window. Maybe Arshavin could have been the difference between a lack-luster Arsenal side which lost 2 points and a creative Arsenal side which could’ve won all 3 points.
Let’s hope they don’t lose any more points and the signing of Arshavin finally goes through before the closing hours of the Transfer window.

I also heard that Man-City has made a bid of 12 million and Micah Richards for Kolo Toure. I say take it Arsene and we can sign a better defender in the summer or even buy a good defensive midfielder like Miguel Veloso or the likes. 12 million after all is a lot of money for a Manager like Arsene Wenger. I also see no point keeping a player like Kolo Toure who is clearly unsettled at Arsenal and who has not been able to deliver his best all season.

Fifa 09 manager mode

Hi guys…Just got my Fifa 09 PV game copy yesterday and started with the Manager mode striaght away…Had been waiting for it since a long time after i had got a new computer…

I started with my Fav team Arsenal…Game is great to play and much easier to navigate…

Here is a list of some of the young kids in Fifa 09 that are worth the money… (list of wonderkids)

Strikers: —

Arsenal player Carlos Vela – reached a peak rating of 95..

Inter striker Balotelli – reaches a peak rating of 90…

Fiorentina’s Jovetic – reaches 91…

Milan’s Pato – reaches some 92/94 rating

Barca’s Bojan – reaches only 88/89 (i was pretty disappointed to see his low rating..i was expecting Bojan to be the 99 rated player of fifa 09)

Victor Moses: – reaches a peak rating of 91.

These are just a few i have discovered in my first 2 seasons with Arsenal.. will update more later…

Midfielders with peak ratings: –

Fabregas – 93

Jesus Nevas – 96

Ozil – 88

Everton’s Rodnar – 92/93 ( very good defensive midfielder)

Miguel Veloso – 89

Lyon’s pjanic – 91

Lionel Messi – 98

Nasri – 92

Walcott – 84/85( big disappointment again.. the young english star peak rated at a mere mif 80’s…

Ramsey – 87

Wilshere – 87

Ivan Rakitic – 90

 

Defenders with peak ratings: –

Sergio Ramos – 92

Micah Richards – 93

Gael Clichy – 90

Thiago Heleno – 90

E Garay – 88

Kindly note that the players listed above are the ones i have on my team..The list will continue with the number of Seasons i put behind me…

Few startling facts that came to my knowledge after i started the fifa 09 manager mode with arsenal..

Wilshere, Ramsey, Bojan and Walcott peak out only in the mid or high 80’s…

Fifa has the habit of pulling 1 or 2 such surprises..:)

But overall it has been fun… Loving the game already… will post soon and update.. cheers..:)