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Monday, December 17, 2007

Gallas plus £5 million for Cole: what a superb deal that was!

Arsenal's one nil victory over Chelsea was important for the three points won and the psychological gain for this young team to finally beat their mega-spending opponents after three seasons of draws and defeats. However there are some other points that came to mind when watching the game yesterday.

First William Gallas' headed winning goal underlined the evidence that increases game by game that Arsenal definitely got the better of the deal that saw them gain Gallas and £5 million of Abramovich's money in return for Ashley Cole.

World cup-finalist Gallas is now Arsenal captain and has been fantastic this season in focusing and rallying this young Arsenal team to win and keep winning while being superb at the back in combination with Kolo Toure.

Meanwhile, Cole has not yet settled let alone thrived in the more conservative playing style of Chelsea, has been injury-prone, and has even been the subject of player-rotation with the lesser-talented Wayne Bridge.

The deal looked good at the time for Arsenal which was something to be grateful for after the murkiness that surrounded Chelsea's behaviour in tapping-up Cole - and it has got ever better since.

Second was the absence of the ego-centric, insulting Jose Mourinho - I'm thankful that I did not have to put up with his opinions pre and post-match.

Third is the continued excellent defensive and attacking play of full backs Gael Clichy and Bacary Sagna. Aside from their consistency, technique, defensive ability and all round great team-play the thing I really admire about both these guys is their temperament.

I have said this about Clichy ever since his introduction into the Arsenal side - he always looks totally focused and concentrated on the pitch and for me he is a great ambassador for Arsenal football club. I also see similar composed qualities in Sagna - in the heat of battle he is making good decisions and overall is looking assured. It can only be positive for the whole team when your defenders can be trusted.

Finally, seeing RVP, Cesc, Hleb, Adebayor, Rosicky and Flamini all feature yesterday was great in view of the busy Christmas schedule coming up. Having four of these key players missing from the midield/attacking unit did have a predictably marked impact on the creative and attacking dimension of the team so it was reassuring to see the unique Arsenal verve return - albeit a bit rustily - yesterday.

In particular it was great to see the return to Premier League action of the superb RVP after over two months out. He is one of the leaders of this young Arsenal team and his positive influence on the likes of Ade and Cesc cannot be underestimated. His finishing, link-up play, technical ability and character are all fantastic so Arsenal are far the stronger for his return.


Blogger Skipper said...

I wrote about Gallas in the comment section of SKG’s article.
Just to reiterate, I think he is the best leader in the premiership.

I love the way he encourages his team mates but also gives them the kick up the back-side, when required to do so.

I wish Galls was at Liverpool and that is the biggest complement I can give this player.

12/17/2007 1:11 pm

Anonymous Alex Butterfield said...

"I wish Galls was at Liverpool and that is the biggest complement I can give this player."

I was about to say the same, but Skipper beat me to it. At the time of the transfer there was speculation about him coming to Liverpool which was a prospect I was delighted about. Unfortunately for me (and significantly) he went to Arsenal.

It's not long since Arsenal's defense was considered a bit of a joke. But Gallas, alongside Toure, has really strengthened that frail back line.

Your original post is so true also, Clichy and Sagna are a real improvement on, well let's face it, there was nothing to improve on. Eboue at right back? And make-shift left backs?

Scarily for a Liverpool fan like myself, Arsenal's defense is now solid, and with the attacking attributes of the full backs, added to Gallas' goal-streak, they have the defense that is good enough to compliment their attack and mount a title challenge.

On a tangent, I'm begrudgingly glad to see a team playing beautiful football on top of the league.

Particularly in the wake of Sunday's stale (if not quite stale-mate) games too many people are jumping on the bandwagon, criticising the Premiership. Have they forgotten so soon that just last season was one of the finest, closely run title's for years - and this year it only looks more so (and with a different team on top!)

It's strange that the same people accusing the league of being predictable, always the same top 4 etc, are the same people arguing that Man City and Everton are playing better football than the top four and deserve to be in a top 6.

12/18/2007 12:27 am

Blogger Abdul said...

T - have to agree with you that it always looked like Gallas plus £15m for Cole looked like solid business for Arsenal.

I disagree Skipper that Gallas is the best leader in the PL though. Gallas was publicly critical of Arsenal and Arsene Wenger when the chips were down last season. In my book, its during tough times that leaders should be judged, not when the going is good as it has been for Arsenal for most of this season.

12/18/2007 10:11 am

Anonymous Fact Master said...

In reply to Alex Butterfield's last paragraph.

In the last four seasons, the 'big four' have been there at the end of the season 3/4 times (75%). The only exception being Everton, who nudged Liverpool out near the end of the 04/05 season.

Even five years ago when Newcastle came third, this was the only disruption to the same 'big four'.

You could argue that another predictable aspect about the 'big four' is that Liverpool never finish out on top.

Furthermore, looking at the league table in order of form (available on the Official Barclays Premier League website), Everton are indeed playing better than the four teams in question. In fact, they're doing better than all of them. In order (Everton, Man Utd, Chelsea, Arsenal, Spurs, Man City).

With two wins in Liverpool's last five home games, its no surprise at all to see them in 8th place.

So based on the above facts, I don't think what you suggest is strange at all.

12/20/2007 1:40 am

Anonymous Fact Master said...

Sorry for one post after another, but I spotted an incorrect statistic in my comment above. I wouldn't want Abdul or Alex to jump at my throat!

Liverpool haven't won only two in the last five home games. I thought that was wrong when initially typing it - I forgot all about Man Utd the other day!

So just to clarify;
Two home wins in the last SIX home games and two wins in the last SIX matches (home and away).

This would be the same amount of total points in this period as Villa, although they have unsuprisingly a better home record.

12/20/2007 1:48 am

Anonymous Alex Butterfield said...

Thanks for the stats, fact master:

"...two wins in the last SIX matches (home and away)."

Sory but, TWO IN SIX (Home and Away) I think isn't right.

Lost to Man Utd (H)
Lost to Reading (A)
Beat Bolton (H)
Beat Newcastle (A)
Beat Fulham (H)
Drew with Blackburn (A)

"Liverpool haven't won only two in the last five home games"

I guess you meant HAVE won only 2 in last 5 at home.

Sorry but I couldn't resist that challenge...

...but I think you are only proving my point anyway.

The fact that a group of other teams, Everton, Man City and Portsmouth are closing the gap between them and the big 4 this season, as your stats support - and let's face it we are half way through the season and the big 4 have only been in the top 4 spots a couple of times (from memory) - this is contradictory to the attitude that 'the big 4 are always the top four', 'nothing ever changes', 'it's such a predictable league'.

To be honest I don't think all the others are closing the gap that much... I think Man City's results are misleading, they have had an easy first half of the season, and I think they'll drop down the table by the end. Portsmouth are still a ways off too.

Everton (and Spurs also have the potential) are the team that are really breaking the big 4.

They are the team that finished top 4 most recently (2005), and are only improving this season with a first team to rival at least Liverpool's if not Chelsea's too.

My point is that all the people I hear on phone-ins saying that the Premiership is boring and predictable, are the same people saying, 'I go to City of Manchester Stadium and watch our boys show the rest of the league how to play football'. It's so contradictory.

To have 4, FOUR!, teams with the potential to win the league, is pretty good, compared to other top divisions in the world, four is a lot. And there are a couple of teams who could challenge in the next couple of years if they continue their current form.

I think England is blessed with an exceptionally competitive top tier and with a whole host of pretenders to the big four playing out great games every weekend. People see Derby get annihilated every week and use it as proof that the league is boring.

Oh whatever.

I love the premiership, I watch a lot of football from a lot of countries and it's not many other leagues where you see such strength in depth, Spain is the closest, and is my second favourite to watch accordingly, but no other league comes close. (Although the Championship is pretty good too!)

12/20/2007 4:46 am

Anonymous GunnerPete said...

Yes T Willy has become yet another French Icon at AFC. I had my doubts at first with his attitude and ever open mouth but now after the Wenger treatment he has emerged as a grown up leader of men.

Many people were saying that the defining moment of the season for our babes was the past six games, but I believe that it will be the next six. If the team can stay top or very near by the end of January I think we will win the championship.

Spurs will be hard today, harder than usual because they are trying to play football for the first time in years. If we had only the team used against Boro we would struggle but we have 99% of our full squad ready to play and thats not good new for Spurs or the rest.

Merry Christmas to you 'T' and the gang.

12/22/2007 10:46 am

Blogger T said...

Many thanks GunnerPete, and likewise on behalf of the team I wish you a Merry Christmas.

Yesterday was a day when we played below par against a Spurs team that played near their best so I'm grateful for the three points.

Great to see Bendnter do another good impersonation of Duncan Ferguson! I know that you rate him very highly and having had more opportunity to evaluate what he can offer I am increasingly excited about his potential. I will definitely expand on this sometime soon.

We have been on a tough run of games recently and with Pompey and Everton on the road as the next two this will be a month where we would have crossed off a lot of tough games on the league schedule. I hope we remain there or thereabouts going into the spring - but to be honest I'm not looking that far ahead right now - for me I remain committed to the approach of focusing just on the next match.

12/23/2007 10:21 pm


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