- Written by Tom Varga
Arsenal don't have a 3rd kit this season. Below is a fake picture circulating the net.
- Written by Rob George
Have you heard the one about the takeover where the former senior management team all kept their jobs despite selling up? Well welcome to the unique world of Arsenal Football Club where they even do takeover’s smoothly and with no bloodshed. Stan Kroenke’s acquisition of 62 per cent of Arsenal’s shares completes a four-year-long saga which actually began with chairman Peter Hill-Wood claiming they didn’t want Kroenke’s sort over here!
Hill-Wood has changed since then and the almost £5million he will pocket for his 400 shares will certainly help while other shareholders have upped sticks and cashed in their chips. It almost certainly means that Kroenke, Alisher Usmanov and smaller shareholders like Arsenal Supporters Trust (AST) will hold the cards in the future, a far cry from just five years ago.
Then, the list of shareholders read, Peter Hill Wood, Lady Nina Bracewell Smith, Richard Carr, David Dein, Keith Edelman, Danny Fiszman, Ken Friar, Sir Chips Keswick and Lord Harris of Peckham. Notice anything? Yep, all very English and the epitome of an old boys (and girls) club, so how did a Yank get in? Well he brought 9.9 per cent of shares from ITV for a start and then made friends with David Dein.
Dein lost a boardroom battle, something which would claim fellow ally Bracewell-Smith but not Fiszman. The remainder held on to their shares and eventually welcomed Stan into the boardroom during which time Edelman departed as chief executive to be replaced by Ivan Gazidis, someone who knew American sport very well and would have more than a passing knowledge of our man Stan.
And now Kroenke has his stake, 62 per cent is likely to be the limit as Usmanov declared on Tuesday that he would not sell despite being offered a reported £200million profit while AST have refused to budge. Despite reports in the press, this is unlikely to be a problem for Arsenal’s new chief who has already stated he wants to work with the fans while all the time knowing that Usmanov is stuck in a corner.
So what can Gunners fans expect? Well it won’t be transfer budgets of £200million a year, a new manager and all that jazz – expect continued housekeeping with the only changes to the commercial side. Already there are rumours Kroenke wants out of the Emirates shirt/stadium sponsorship deal, a 10 year agreement which began in 2006. An increased focus on developing the Arsenal brand in areas such as the States and money-rich China is also on the cards.
It’s highly likely that Arsene Wenger will remain at the helm as well as Kroenke has already placed on record his admiration for the work done by the Frenchman. A look at Kroenke’s record with his American teams shows someone who has never sold up and does deliver, if limited, success. He is not afraid to back his managers either and will aim to put bums on seats as he once authorised the trade in of then NBA star Allen Iverson to his Denver Nuggets side.
That move didn’t work but could have promising signs for Arsenal if Arsene Wenger did fancy a dip into the genuine superstar pool this summer. A crucial factor is that Arsenal’s new chief delegates well and doesn’t interfere but places trust in a front-office team. At the Emirates he appears to have trust in the boardroom with Hill-Wood remaining chairman, trust in the business with Gazidis as chief executive and trust in the football with Wenger.
What about a director of football though? Someone who could link the boardroom, business and football and leave Wenger free to do what he does best, manage and nurture footballers. Someone who has proven to be a negotiator and a confidant to Wenger, someone who will encourage the Frenchman to follow his gut instincts and pay the money for the likes of a young French forward who hasn’t fulfilled his potential (Henry) knowing he could be sold for a profit down the line. Kroenke once had David Dein’s number on speed-dial, perhaps ‘Silent’ Stan’s first move should be to have a chat with his former associate.....
- Written by Rob George
The sad death of Danny Fiszman on Wednesday casts a dark shroud on a week which history could define as crucial in the development of Arsenal Football Club. The man who has done more than most to put Arsenal into the business Premier League has left a legacy which includes a world class stadium and now it seems an owner who intends to carry on the traditions which make the club revered the world over.
But in another way it feels like the torch has been passed from one millionaire football fan to another, albeit from different continents. Fiszman has been hailed as a visionary director and a true gentleman in a warm statement from the club and those sentiments are similar to the platitudes handed out since Kroenke’s takeover on Monday.
Indeed, without Fiszman and his fellow directors, Arsenal may have not been in a position to sell to an American owner and maybe would not have a multi-million pound stadium and matchday revenues of upwards of £3million. Fiszman, a former diamond trader, joined the board in 1992 buying his original eight per cent stake from David Dein. But it was the Emirates Stadium which provoked disagreement between Dein and Fiszman with both men having very different ideas about how Arsenal should move on from Highbury.
Dein favoured a move to Wembley Stadium or to land near King’s Cross while Fiszman always urged fans and the board to consider the merits of land at Ashburton Grove. Fiszman won, Dein lost but his triumph didn’t end there as Fiszman ensured the cost of the stadium would not plunge Arsenal into catastrophic debt and that there would always be cash in the bank to be spent on the team. Meanwhile Dein disappeared from the board and Fiszman arguably took on the mantle of the club’s mover and shaker behind the scenes, a role made popular by Dein.
And when Stan Kroenke first appeared on the scene in 2007, Fiszman did not join in the public condemnation of the American and maybe did want ‘his kind’ here. Indeed Dein and Fiszman both backed Kroenke but again Dein lost out and this time paid with his seat on the board. Fiszman realised the benefits of more money into the club and welcomed the American both to the club and latterly onto the board.
His sale to the American looks to have been one of the last acts of Fiszman’s life before his death at the age of 66 due to cancer. Even in death it appears Fiszman had the best interests of Arsenal FC at heart and his contribution to the club should be honoured in some way. For if there was no Fiszman, there may not be the Arsenal we know today and to me there can be no finer tribute than that.
He is survived by a wife, a family and friends – may he rest in peace.
- Written by Tom Varga
After a disappointing result last week where Arsenal failed to unlock a hard working 10 man Blackburn and some disappointing comments by Wenger regarding the ‘achievement’ of finishing 2nd place, it is important the players send out a message to Manchester United and show them that they will push them to the wire. Arsenal will come up a Blackpool side full of energy and charisma and a manager that could be seen as a poor-man’s Mourinho.
The business end
The so called business end of the season offers far more clarity than the start of the season. Arsenal are in a position where they need to win every game in order to win the title and Blackpool have to fight for their place in the premier league for the 11/12 season. Whilst Arsenal won 6-0 at the Emirates it must be taken into account that an inform Walcott, who netted a hat trick that day, was against a very shell-shocked Crainey – who probably had not seen anyone as fast a Theo, let alone play against him. Some people would scratch their heads at how Blackpool are in the survival battle showing the kind of heart and soul that makes the Premier League famous all around the world.
Time to forget about the past and look ahead
Arsenal have not won a game in their last 5 matches in all competitions which is their worst run of form for 11 months. As Wenger mentioned in the post-Blackburn interviews, it is time to go back to basics and challenge the team to show what they can really do and show they are legitimate title contenders rather than a side to humor United. A lot of people have suggested that Arsenal are only 2nd this year due to the poor form of Chelsea and the beneficiaries of a Man City side that are still gelling together.
Crainey will be thanking God that Walcott is doubtful for the game as he could not handle his electric pace at the Emirates. Sagna is also doubtful which means that it is likely that Eboue will fill in at right back, which could be a potential Achilles’ heel due to his lack of game time in recent weeks. Song has also been ruled out which could be a problem as we’ve seen the Gunner’s vulnerability defensively without his tackling and work-rate in the centre of the park.
Arsene is likely to stay to his preferred 4-3-3, which may be seen as a problem against a team like Blackpool without Alex Song. Wenger has a tendency to try and fit the players he has into the same system rather than making a system that can get the best of his players. Denilson is not a defensive midfielder and Rosicky is not a winger. These cracks show up against hard working teams and Blackpool will be fighting tooth and nail to stay in the top tier.
If ever there was a chance to show team spirit, it’s this Sunday
It’s hard to choose a key player because the whole team played so poorly last week, the whole team needs to bounce back and show their undoubted talent. It is unfair to point the finger at Fabregas whenever the team is lacking, just because he is Arsenal’s best player does not mean that he should be the one that carries this team when the other 9 outfield players are showing a lack of imagination and creativity.
Lee Mason is Sunday’s ref who has dished out the 3rd most bookings in the league this season (76), hopefully it won’t be a stop/start type of game because if both teams go for it and advantages are given this could be an end-to-end game that show the two different sides of the table.
Almunia, Eboue, Squillaci, Koscielny, Clichy, Wilshere, Fabregas, Ramsey, Nasri, van Persie, Arshavin
- Written by Tom Varga
Yesterday saw the return of an Arsenal favourite: Jens Lehmann. A member of the invincibles of 2004 racking up almost 200 appearances for the Gunners and a regular fixture for the German national team until he retired at the end of the last season after a brief spell with Stuttgart.
First of all, Arsenal fans must remember that he is only signed as an emergency keeper on a week to week basis, before any of the North-London faithful complain about solving our goalkeeping crisis this is merely an ‘if Almunia gets injured’ back-up.
Starting with Almunia, who looked set to be leaving in January, he has a lot to play for: his place in the team, his future at Arsenal and his pride. All of which have a direct correlation to Lehmann who has just returned. Manuel Almunia will not want to lose his place in the start XI again after being frozen out for so long, let alone to a 41 year old who has come out of retirement. Almunia will certainly up his level of training.
We’ve seen Wenger have experienced players train with Arsenal over recent seasons such as Beckham, Henry, Pires, Campbell and now Lehmann. The experience and professionalism of seeing such stars train everyday will surely have a positive influence on the squad. However, many times we have heard Wenger say that he would rather let his youth blossom than sign players that block their way, so is it really worth signing Lehmann, who is likely to be sitting on the bench for the duration of his stay anyway, than letting players like Shea and Martinez get a taste of what it is like to prepare for game day? Hopefully, if Lehmann is indeed called upon, he’ll show that he can still play at the top level much like Campbell did last season.
It is highly unlikely that Mad Jens will play, but anything can happen at Arsenal as we’ve seen Almunia, Fabianksi and Szcznesy suffer injuries this season. It is not often a squad goes through 3 goalkeepers, but you can bet that Jens has his fingers crossed that his old rival will give him a chance to show the Arsenal fans that he’s still every bit of the character he used to be during his previous spell. Arsenal fans will however, like to see some ‘real’ transfer business on the goalkeeping front come this summer.
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