Tag Archives: besiktas

Besiktas, Champions League Draw, Calum Chambers, New Signings


So we are through. We did it The Arsenal way – the hard way. But we are through. We survived the hell that is Turkey, an awful refereeing performance and a below par Arsenal performance. But the most important thing is we are through.

Alexis Sanchez showed selfless running, challenging for every ball reminiscent of Luis Suarez. Jack Wilshere had his best game since he was a teenager. Santi Cazorla worked hard. Matheiu Flamini did not get booked. Matheiu Debuchy looked an improvement on Sagna.

Some say we should have cruised through, that Beskitas’ season has not yet started, but lets remember, they have played 4 competitive games this season (2 qualifiers v Feyernoord, 2 v Arsenal). That is the same amount of competitive games as Arsenal. They also had an entire week to prepare for us. We had a couple of days.

A battling performance which showed great mental strength.

Champions League Draw

So we are through (have I said that yet?). Now to look forward to the draw, which will be this afternoon at 16.45. Arsenal are in pot one. But who can we face?

Pot One: Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Chelsea, Benfica, Atletico Madrid, Arsenal, Porto.

Pot Two: Schalke, Dortmund, Juventus, Paris St-Germain, Basle, Shakhtar Donetsk, Manchester City, Zenit.

Pot Three: Bayer Leverkusen, Olympiakos, CSKA Moscow, Ajax, Liverpool, Sporting Lisbon, Galatasaray, Athletic Bilbao

Pot Four: Anderlecht, Roma, Apoel Nicosia, Bate Borisov, Ludogorets, Maribor, Monaco, Malmo

Dream draw: Arsenal, Basle, Sporting, Maribor
Nightmare draw: Arsenal, Juventus, Bayer Leverkusen, Monaco

Calum Chambers

Omitted last night, many people criticised the decision, wondering what he had done wrong. But the fact was, it was the right decision. Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny are better individually, and better as a partnership. You play your best players, and Chambers is the 3rd best centre back at the club.

At 19, he is extremely talented, but it is important that he does not get over hyped, with too much pressure put on the lad. There is talk of him getting an England call up for next weekend’s International’s. I would rather he stayed with the under 21’s, out of the limelight. Remember, this is a guy who has played just 3 competitive games at centre back.

His talent is not in question, but his game is still error prone. His slip against Demba Ba in the away leg. Playing the world onside for Everton’s 1st goal, diving in for Everton’s 2nd. He also has a problem under the high ball, often misjudging his jump.

Let him develop in his own time and he will become World Class.

New Signings

So we are through (I said it again). We have banked around £25m. There are now no excuses. We can offer the money, we can offer the success, we can offer top level football. We now need to go out and buy, and buy big.

With Olivier Giroud out till January, we need a striker. Even if the big name’s of Cavani or Falcao are not available, we need to add to the forward line. Go out and get Loic Remy – a proven Premier League striker – who can do the job until Giroud is back. Or Mattia Destro – Maybe not World Class, but Roma’s top scorer last season.

On the other side, I hope we do not waste big money on someone like Jackson Martinez or Danny Welbeck.

We also need to add in midfield and defence. Likely to be a dual player, someone who can be 1st choice defensive midfield, 4th choice centre back, we need someone. Let’s spend big and get in the right man.

Sadly, I would not be surprised if we bought no one. And this could cost us success this season.

Enjoy the draw.



Community Shield, Besiktas, Thomas Vermaelen & New Signings

Community Shield

So the season opener is tomorrow with the Community Shield (or as I still call it, the Charity Shield). It is always an interesting game. For me, it is nor more than a glorified friendly. A chance to give the players a semi-competitive game before the real season opening next weekend.

Last season, we played 7 pre season friendlies, this season, due to the World Cup and Community Shield, we have played just 4. It makes sense then, to treat the Community Shield as a friendly. Interestingly, last season, our last friendly was on August 10th against Manchester City. The exact same date and opposition as this season.

The status of the Community Shield has changed over recent seasons. The change started in 2001, when Liverpool fans claimed they had won the “Quintuple” – League Cup, FA Cup, UEFA Cup, Community Shield & UEFA Super Cup. At the time, they were laughed at, as they had failed to win either of the 2 big ones, and had added two glorified friendlies.

Since 2001, things have escalated. Due to media hype, the game has grown bigger. Another reason is the rise of Chelsea and Manchester City. Where as Arsenal and Manchester United had won many trophies, the community shield was not considered a trophy, Manchester City and Chelsea fans, with their low trophy count, started to include the Community Shield as a major honour.

SkySports News and other media outlets then started to list the Community Shields under ‘trophies won’ columns, and a little look at the List of football clubs in England by major honours won will see Manchester United are listed as having won 60 trophies, yet it includes their 20 Community Shields.

To put it simply, tomorrow is a friendly, yes, it will be positive to win, but it means no more than the friendly with Manchester City next year.


They were my nightmare draw. A decent team, and a horrid journey. Whilst Arsenal travel well in Europe, I do not expect many to make the 2,000 mile £500+ flight cost journey to Istanbul. We should win, but the away match will be a tricky game. With them having already played competitive Champions League fixtures against Feyenoord, they will be a slightly bit more match sharp then us, and with Demba Ba upfront, they have goals.

An away draw, we should take them apart in London. Turkish sides do not travel well, so I would expect us to not only win at home, but also turnover any potential deficit from the home leg.

Thomas Vermaelen

So it seems like Thomas Vermaelen is off to Barcelona for £15million. A good deal for Arsenal, selling a player in the last year of his contract for more money than what we signed him. On the other side, we are selling a senior player, once more selling our captain. But at least it is not to Manchester United this time!

As with everytime a player leaves Arsenal, the mud slinging has already begun “he was useless” “he was not good enough” it shows the crass side of being a football fan. It is like being dumped by your long term girlfriend then sitting bitching about her bad points, which you quite happily ignored when you was with her. It’s petty.

Thomas Vermaelen’s Arsenal journey has come to a natural end. He has got himself a plumb move to Barcelona, and I wish him well. If Arsenal play Barcelona in the Champions League next year, I will applaud him, he deserves that.

New Signings

With the aforementioned Vermaelen leaving us, we are now at least 2 players short. A defensive midfielder and a centre back. Buy one player in the hope of covering both positions would be crazy, especially as our 4th choice centre back is also our right back cover. We need to go out and buy a Vermaelen replacement. Who it will be, no one really knows. We are now 50% there towards having a good summer. We now need that centre back, defensive midfielder and maybe even another striker.

Enjoy tomorrow




Who are Arsenal’s potential Champions League Play-off opponents?

On Friday at 11am, Arsenal will know their fate in the Champions League. Potential opponents are Athletic Bilbao, Lille, Standard Liege, FC Copenhagen and Besiktas. But who exactly are they and what threat to they pose?

Athletic Bilbao

Finished a distant 4th in Spain, 20 points behind the winners Atletico Madrid, Athletic Bilbao would be a tricky tie for Arsenal. Famous for a transfer policy which involved only signing Basque players, they have plenty of exciting talent, with their star man being Iker Muniain. Despite having lost midfield general Ander Herrera to Manchester United, Bilbao will be a trick proposition.

Just a short low cost (until they hyke the prices up) flight, Bilbao is a nice easy journey. And who wouldn’t fancy a few days in Northern Spain?


Between me writing this and you reading this, I could have got a Eurostar to Lille and be sitting in the Northern French city drinking coffee. That is what will appeal to Arsenal fans. Little time off work. Cheap train, there and back in a day. Brilliant!

Lille finished 3rd in France behind the money bags of Europe PSG and Monaco. Since winning the title in 2011, they have regularly sold of there stars, including Gervinho, Eden Hazard, Florian Thauvin, Lucas Digna, Dimitri Payet and most recently Divock Origi to Liverpool – although they have loaned him back. Their main threat is Solomon Kalou. A good side, but should not cause Arsenal any problems.

Standard Liege

The Belgium city of Liege is around a 260 mile drive (and ferry) from London, making it easily commutable by car or mini bus. Getting a train via Brussels is also a realistic option.

Standard Liege would have been a threat 10 years ago, with Kanu and Stam in their side. Unfortunatly for them, they are Brazilian defender Kanu (Full name António Eduardo Pereira dos Santos) and former Wigan centre back Ronnie Stam. When your captain could barely get a game for Wolves, your star midfielder failed to make the grade at Spurs, and your big summer signing so far is 20 year old Tony Watt (who?) from Celtic, you can perhaps understand the challenge, or lack of, that Arsenal will face.

FC Copenhagen

In a similar vein to Standard Liege, FC Copenhagen have a numeorus players who once ‘starred’ in England. Andreas Cornelius signed for Cardiff last summer for £8million, played 8 games, did not score, and was sold back to FC Copenhagen for less than £2million in January. Steve De Ridder includes Southampton and Bolton as his previous clubs. Once managed by Roy Hodgson, they are a side who Arsenal really should beat.

Copenhagen is a wonderful city, but do you really want to be forking out for a flight to Denmark, considering the other destination on offer? Probably not.


The furthest journey of them all. Flights will cost over £500, so unless you already have a holiday booked in Turkey, it is a big chunk of cash to fork out.

With former Croatia manager Slavan Bilic in charge, Besiktas will not be an easy game. It is always tough playing away to a Turkish side, with their passionate and hostile fans creating an intimidation atmosphere. As usual with many Turkish sides, the majority of their squad is made up of Turkish players. Former Arsenal trainee Oguzhan Ozyakup runs the midfield, whilst former Fulham wonderkid Karim Frei (now Karim Koyunlu) provies a threat on the wing.

Their undoubted star money is Demba Ba, recently signed from Chelsea. With him upfront mixed with the Turkish crowd, they are one to avoid.

So who do I want?

1) Standard Liege
2) Lille
3) FC Copenhagen
4) Athletic Bilbao
5) Besiktas