According to ESPN, Blackburn Rovers have enquired about the availability of Maroune Chamakh on loan for the duration of the 2012/13 season. Steve Kean’s summer plans have suffered a major setback after their big-money signing Leon Best damaged his anterior cruciate ligament in a pre-season friendly against AEK Athens. Best is not expected back until the new year, leaving Kean just a few weeks to find a temporary replacement.
Blackburn have apparently had two offers for Jordan Rhodes rejected by Huddesfield and have also failed in their attempts to sign Swedish international John Guidetti from Manchester City. However, any move for Chamakh will be hindered by reports that Maroune is reluctant to drop down to the Championship and is holding out for offers from other Premier League clubs.
In my opinion, Maroune might not leave Arsenal at all. If Robin van Persie leaves the club then the Moroccan could actually get some game time. Those of you who are quick to reference his goal-scoring statistics in an effort to justify getting rid of him not looking at the full picture. Maroune’s statistics at Arsenal are highly deceptive.
Photo by RonMac on Flickr
Chamakh’s drop in form coincided with van Persie’s return to the team; how was the Moroccan supposed to keep scoring goals if he made only 1 start and 10 substitute appearances in the Premier League last season? You may remember that Maroune’s 10 goals at the beginning of the 2010/11 season kept us going when RvP was out injured.
If Chamakh is to leave Arsenal then I think it is much more likely that he will move to West Ham. The Hammers are newly promoted and have made a number of great signings this summer- Mohammed Diamé, Alou Diarra and Jussi Jaaskelainen just to name a few. There is also the fact that Arsenal would probably prefer to sell Chamakh than to send him out on loan.
“It is good to have more Spanish players in the team.
“I think that Arteta coming in a good thing. He is a great player.
“Since he has been here, he has been giving me some advice on how to defend and play better.”
I think most Gooners will agree that what Frimpong has said is rather odd. The fact that Arteta is Spanish has very little to do with whether a player is of good quality to help Arsenal and advise our young midfielder. It is more likely that Mikel’s experience and obvious quality are the reasons that he is such a great signing.
Arteta has settled into the side perfectly, and his first half performance vs Blackburn was especially impressive. It is also good to see one of our most experienced players passing on his knowledge to the younger players. It remains to be seen whether Frimpong has the quality to play deputy to Alex Song, who is finally finding his feet in the defensive midfield role. I say this because Song played far too attacking last season, but this campaign (so far) his positioning seems much better.
Bendtner changes tack
An article on PA Sports included some comments from our Danish striker which indicate that he may not be done with Arsenal after all. Nicklas is playing for Sunderland this season on loan from the Gunners, and he made it quite clear a few weeks ago that he has no intention of returning to play for our club. Here are his more recent comments:
“It’s very different from London, but you just have to learn and adapt. I have rented a good house and am probably going to spend most of my time there, as I did in London, and then spend time with my family when I am not playing football, so it’s going to be okay.
“One thing for sure is that I want to play football. I do not want to do what I have been doing before. If it’s going to be the same way I would rather not go back.”
Although he hasn’t stated his love for Arsenal, he hasn’t sad that he will never ever return (despite the wishes of many Arsenal fans). Maybe there was an error in the translation, but I reckon Bendtner is trying to keep his options open. If he were to have a great season for Sunderland, there is always a possibility that Wenger will take him back. He is definitely a good player, but whether he is good enough for Arsenal seems unlikely. Then again, when he did get an appearance last season, he was almost always stuck out on the wing.
Wenger backs Kroenke
Stan Kroenke is yet to make any sort of public announcement to Arsenal fans since he became the majority shareholder – living up to his title “Silent Stan.” However, Wenger has backed the American:
“I feel he leaves us to do the job, he will certainly speak out at some stage.”
I do believe that someone who wants to have an active role in the club should speak out soon if he wants to get the fans on his side. Football should always be about the fans, and Stan needs to show that he understands this.
Bearing in mind that the Arsenal team produced two very different performances in the first and second half, we have decided to give each player two ratings. The first-half saw Arsenal give the performances that we need if we are going to get anywhere this season. The team passed the ball well and moved forward well as a collective entity. The second-half saw a rather more lackluster performance.
It just keeps happening doesn’t it? But this time it was different, the team looked good and we were playing with confidence, composure and we were controlling the game. It was not as if we were lacklustre like we have been in previous weeks. But lady luck just wasn’t on our side. People say that your luck will even out over the season, but it just doesn’t seem like that is the case with Arsenal. Three of Blackburn’s goals were scored due to little skill of their own – 2 own goals and an offside goal. I really don’t know what we have to do to win games anymore. You would have thought that if you scored 3 goals and play good football away from home, you would at least come away with a point.
So what happened?
The first half was good. We started very brightly and created a few really good chances. We managed to hit home after a fantastic through ball to put Gervinho through on goal. It was by no means an easy finish, but he did well. We continued to control the game, and we looked dangerous. And then Blackburn scored. It was out of the blue, but to be fair to Yakubu, it was a quality finish, but totally against the run of play and they did not deserve to be level.
We responded well though, and kept the pressure on. Soon enough, Ramsey cut back for new boy Arteta to smash home. It was a sublime finish, and it was no more than we deserved. We continued to control the rest of the half. Gervinho looked very dangerous, and just before the half drew to a close, he had a chance to put van Persie through for an almost certain goal. Instead of passing to our captain, Gervinho took on a shot, but his effort was blocked. This would have put is 3-1 up. Unfortunately, we would rue this missed chance.
We started poorly in the second half. Arshavin lost the ball 3 times in a very short period. He gave away a freekick, and sure enough, we were punished. The freekick was delivered in, and unfortunately for Song, he could do nothing about it, and it struck his leg and bobbled past an outstretched Szczesny. There are a number of very irritating things about this goal. Firstly, it was an own goal. Secondly, it was against the run of play. We were the team in control in the first half. Thirdly, I am not even convinced that it was a free kick in the first place. Finally, Blackburn tried to play a quick free kick and the referee decided that they could not do this, but he still gave them another chance. Why should they get another shot at it? But we had to accept it, and continue playing.
For the next 20 minutes, most of our players were anonymous, and Blackburn had a good spell, yet they did not look like scoring. But then they got another set piece. Before it was taken, I noticed that there was no one at the back post. The ball was played to the backpost, and sure enough, the ball was fired across the face of the goal and tapped in by Yakubu. Again, a very frustrating goal. There are two issues here. First and foremost, Yakubu was offside as the ball was played to him. Secondly, I really am not a fan of zonal marking. We had about 9 players in the box defending the corner, yet the ball into the box still found an unmarked player. Zonal marking is also a bad idea for another reason. Players will always be able to say that they are not at fault for the goal. They will claim that they were marking their zone, and that they were doing their job.
And then came the fourth goal – it was laughable. We had the ball in the Blackburn box, but failed to do anything useful with it. Koscielny lost the ball, so admirably sprinted back the length of the pitch. Blackburn countered well, but the chance should have been nullified by Djourou – he failed to win the ball with a sliding challenge. The responsibility then fell to Song, but he was lucky not to give away a penalty. Thankfully, Koscielny had managed to sprint all the way back to our box by this time, but unfortunately for him, all he managed to do was deflect the ball into the net. It really was a comedy of errors, and I was actually laughing by the time I realised the ball was in the net yet again.
We did have time to try to rescue something though. We finished with a flurry of chances, and looked as though we may pull off a fantastic comeback. Chamakh was brought into the fray, and immediately we looked like a better side. Van Persie started playing well. Gervinho continued to work his magic, and it was only a matter of time before we pulled one back to make it 4-3. Van Persie put in a beautiful cross and Chamakh managed to find some space between the two centre backs to head home. It was a great finish. I think we have missed Marouane’s aerial ability.
We then managed to work a great chance to van Persie, who was denied by a good save from Robinson. Again, from a corner, a van Persie header was parried away. Chamakh had a great chance with his head, but managed to put the header wide of the goal. Santos also put in a fantastic cross to Mertesacker, who headed over from 6 yards. It seemed as though it was over, but we had one last chance. The ball was lobbed forward and headed onto Walcott by van Persie. Theo then ran towards Robinson. He managed to chip the ball over the keeper, who dived into Walcott – the away fans screamed it in unison, but the penalty was not given. It was a contentious decision, but the ref probably got it right. Robinson dived into Walcott and did not get the ball, but it was a bit theatrical. Walcott was forced to jump over the keeper, and subsequently, his chance of getting on the end of his chip was nullified.
But what can we take from the game?
We played very well in parts. Were it not for some poor decisions, and two own goals, we would have won this game. We responded well when they scored, and apart from that twenty minute spell at the beginning of the second half, we always looked threatening. We did not look like a team that were lacking confidence. I really hope that this result does not affect our performances in the future. It looked as though we had turned a corner, and we need to try to take the positives from this game, and just hope that the results start coming.
Last season, it took 11 matches for Arsenal to fall to 3 defeats. This campaign it has taken just 5. What is so disappointing about today is that we played well and yet still didn’t get a point. Wenger should have ordered the team to sit tight at half time and grind out the victory. This may not be the Arsenal way, but when the chips are down, you need results.
Arsenal have looked very good for the majority of this half. We look confident and the passing is slick. Gervinho and Sagna have had some great link-up play, leading to three good shots from our Ivorian attacker, including one goal. Van Persie has been quiet and yet we have still looked very dangerous in attack thanks to Gervinho, Arteta, Arshavin and Ramsey.
After a lively start from the Arsenal, and particularly Gervinho, we made the breakthrough. Song played a fantastic pass through the Blackburn defence and Gervinho slid the ball through Samba’s legs to put the ball in the far corner. The goal was very well taken despite intense pressure from our transfer target, Samba. Gervinho’s pace got him away from the defence, giving him the time to take the shot on.
Despite Arsenal controlling the game, Blackburn equalised through Yakubu. He scored his first Blackburn goal after a defensive mix up from Arsenal – no change there then! The back line wasn’t in sync – Mertesacker was wrong-footed, Koscielny was behind him and Santos was in a Clichy-esque position, keeping Yakubu onside for a classy finish.
Arteta was the third player to score his first goal for his new club. Ramsey made a fantastic run and had the awareness to cut the ball back to our Spaniard. Arteta had been controlling the game with his passing and control, but Arsenal fans were yet to see his great shooting ability. He smashed the ball into the roof of the net to put Arsenal back in front.
Arsenal had several other chances through Gervinho and Arshavin who both looked dangerous. Gervinho made two mistakes at the wrong time – one time he overhit a lofted pass to Andrey on the break, the other time he failed to square to van Persie when our captain was better placed to score.
Santos looked defensively and offensively strong, apart from their goal. Song, Ramsey and Arteta were linking up brilliantly and Szczesny was typically solid.
The Arsenal team to face Blackburn in the early kick-off today is:
The talk before the team was released was surrounding Ramsey, Santos and Arshavin – would they start ahead of Gibbs, Benayoun and Walcott? I’m very pleased that they are in the starting line up. Gibbs and Theo have been playing quite poorly recently, and Benayoun didn’t keep the ball as well as I’d have liked against Dortmund (although his close control and attacking passing was pretty good).
Arsenal has a great record Ewood Park and van Persie has 8 in his last 10 vs Blackburn.
You can see the match on Sky Sports or listen to it on Radio 5 Live at 12:45.
However, confidence is still low. You could see that in the last two games – the players weren’t passing with their usual flair and arrogance. This is especially true of the Swansea game. In recent years, Arsenal would toy with opposition like Swansea (although last season we did lose to West Brom at the Emirates). The fear of losing was restricting our players, and we were lucky to hold on for all three points.
Arsenal have a fantastic record at Ewood Park, and ironically our new Spanish star scored the decider in the last Premier League game there. Arteta scored an injury-time penalty for his former club, Everton, after Blackburn had earlier missed two spot-kicks, to give the Toffees a 1-0 win.
Ruben Rochina is Blackburn’s new signing and he scored the goal that won his side its only point of the season so far. He is optimistic about the Arsenal game, saying the following:
“Arsenal is a good game but I think we must work hard and I think we can win the game. They are a great team but we have many good players and a good team. I think we can win.
“Next weekend I will try for that, and the other players the same.”
Blackburn lost its first three matches to Wolves, Villa and Everton, but managed a point last week against Fulham.
Manager Steve Kean has been under intense pressure recently, but has recently claimed he has the backing of the owners.
“The owners gave me their full backing and said, If there is going to be a demonstration, don’t worry, we’re fully behind you.“
He has made these comments in light of the news that 1,000 fans are set to make a demonstration ahead of the Arsenal match tomorrow.
Wenger is positive about our chances in the game:
“What is important for us at the moment is to get the points and the best way for us to do that is to play well. Against Swansea we were under massive pressure and we will be again at Blackburn but let’s focus on getting the ball, playing our game and then we will have a chance to win the game.”
On Ryo Miyaichi, who played against Bolton reserves during the week, Wenger said that he “has a chance” to play against Blackburn and Shrewsbury. Miyaichi had a decent game for the reserves, and his highlight was a delightful backheel that set up one of Arsenal’s three goals in a thrilling 3-3 draw. Wenger said that he doesn’t know if Ryo will be in the Blackburn squad, but he will be “on Tuesday against Shrewsbury.”
Junior Hoilett passed a fitness test following concussion suffered after a heavy collision with Mark Schwarzer last week. Morten Gamst Pedersen (hamstring), David Dunn (calf) and Ryan Nelsen (knee) all face fitness tests.
Alex Song and Gervinho return from three-match bans. However, midfielder Aaron Ramsey (ankle) faces a fitness test. Defender Carl Jenkinson is also available following a one-match suspension, but Tomas Rosicky (knee) and Sebastien Squillaci (calf) are doubts. Diaby (ankle), Wilshere (ankle) and Vermaelen (ankle) are all long-term injuries.
Form and Stats
Robin van Persie has scored 8 goals in 10 Premier League games against Blackburn.
Rovers have lost 9 times in the Premier League at home to Arsenal, more than against any other opponent on their own patch.
Blackburn have won just 1 of their last 10 Premier League games against Arsenal, and just 1 of their last 9 Premier League matches at Ewood Park.
It was reported by The Sun that Christopher Samba said the following about his potential move to Arsenal:
“A player who has no ambition to play at a higher level has made a mistake and chosen the wrong sport.
“I don’t know what is happening with Arsenal because I am not dealing with it and it’s not my problem.
“At the minute I am still at Blackburn but it would be a big lie if I told you ‘everything is good and I don’t want to play in the Champions League’.
“I don’t know what the board and the manager at Blackburn are planning or what provisions they have made for signing new players.
“It is difficult for me at the moment because I’m just waiting to see what happens and concentrating on my preparation for the new season.”
Before you get your hopes up, it is likely that such comments are fake. Samba has expressed his anger towards them. He has said, on twitter, that they are not his words:
“The declaration made of the sun about me are totally false never said that nonsense I never mention other club I’m a rovers player and will never mention other club it’s disrespectful,
“Not happy right now.”
I have to say, I admire Samba’s loyalty to his club, but I do not think that such comments necessarily rule out a move for the Blackburn Rovers captain. He has, in the past, expressed his desire to play at a higher level, and has emphasised that he is an ambitious player. Whether or not Samba does indeed join Arsenal is still unclear. Arsene Wenger is also said to be looking at a potential move for Everton’s Phil Jagielka, and Bolton’s Gary Cahill is still a possibility. One thing is for sure, we do need to sign at least one defender. Even Wenger has admitted this:
“Certainly, we will have to find one more defender,
“We [are] working on it.”
I have a feeling that Wenger will sign Samba, and I would be very happy to see him play for Arsenal. He is a very strong, tall and dominant player, and can help strengthen our defence, especially when it comes to defending against set pieces.
1) 9th may 2011 – Samba considers his options and admits he was “very close to Arsenal move” in Januray
“Everybody knows that I am an ambitious player. I am at an age now where I want to try to do something. You only have one career and it would be a shame to not make the best of it.
“I am happy at Blackburn but I will study any opportunities that come my way this year. I’m not trying to move away but of course I would look if it is the right thing for me.
“I think a move to Arsenal was very close in January but that is life. You have to continue. If it happens, it happens, but it wasn’t meant to be and football is like that. I committed myself to Blackburn and will always do my best.”
2) 10th May 2011 - Kean will not be forced to sell by Blackburn Rovers owners
Sources close to Venky’s (Blackburn’s owners) told the Lancashire Telegraph that Steve Kean is under no obligation to sell his key players. It is believed that Venky’s will financially back their manager regardless of any financial gain generated from the sale of their players.
3) 13th June 2011 – Manchester United sign Phil Jones
Manchester United confirmed that they had reached an agreement with Blackburn to sign 19-year-old centre-back Phil Jones; the deal would be finalised upon his return from the Under 21 World Cup. This severely decreases the chances of Blackburn letting Samba move to Arsenal. They have already lost one of their key defenders – they will not want to lose another.
4) 19th June 2011 – Blackburn confirm they want to keep hold of Samba
Speaking to the Mail on Sunday, Anuradha Desai, who was talking on behalf of Venky’s, admitted that although Samba is interested in making the move to the Emirates, the club will do all they can to make sure that he stays.
“We don’t want to let Chris go. I’m confident that we can keep him and I hope he’ll stay.
“I know he has an ambition to play for Arsenal but I hope we can keep him for another year at least and prove our own ambition.”
5) 20th June 2011 – Samba’s price goes up as Hertha Berlin remind Blackburn that they are due 15% of the transfer fee
Samba is understood to be keen to join Arsenal but Blackburn are reluctant to sell the 27-year-old and, with his former club Hertha Berlin due 15 per cent of any transfer fee, are said to want at least £12 million for a player who cost them £450,000 in 2007.
It seems that Rovers have discovered a clause in their contract from when they bought Samba from Hertha Berlin. 15% of the new transfer fee (which would equate to around £1.8 million) will go back to the German club.
I think it is a bit ridiculous that Arsenal are expected to cover the 15% sell-on clause. It was an old agreement between Hertha and Blackburn, and it Blackburn’s responsibility to pay. It shouldn’t make Samba more expensive. Arguably, the sell-on fee should be scrapped because it just further inflates the prices of players in an already expensive transfer market. However, if Wenger really wants to sign Samba, then squabbling over £2 million seems unnecessary. I don’t need to remind you that we paid £9 million for Laurent Koscielny…
Following a conversation with between Samba and Kean, the Congo international is reinstated as Blackburn captain. Kean reveals that he had had a conversation with Samba in which they discussed how Chris felt about the club’s management and future aspirations.
“The way he explained it to me was really good. He said, “I’ve never asked to leave. All I said was that if a bigger club comes in and I’ve aspirations to play in Europe and win things, then it’s something I would look at.
“I stressed that we want to build a squad that gets us into the top half, then next summer we’ll make additions to try and challenge the top six. As soon as he heard that he was much more positive.”
2) 4th January 2011 – Samba criticises new owners and reiterates his desire to leave Blackburn
Despite the conversation that he had had with his manager only a week earlier, Samba spoke openly to the media about the club’s new owners – suggesting that he could move away from Blackburn as he believed that the club wasn’t being run properly.
“This is my fifth season here. I’ve had ups and downs but today I don’t want to waste any more time. New owners have arrived, they have fired the coach when he saved us from relegation two years ago. The least they could have done is come to us and explain their project. They haven’t done that, it’s a lack of respect. I don’t want to be part of it.”
Samba then confirmed his doubt that Steve Kean would be given a transfer budget that would enable him to build to make Blackburn a top 5 Premier League team.
In an interview with French sports magazine L’Équipe, Samba said:
“He [Kean] told me had resources to build a good team. We’ll see. Today I want to go higher and I wonder if Blackburn can take me there. I’ll take time to think.”
3) 7th Januray 2011 – Kean tries to convince Samba to stay and reveals no contact from other clubs.
Despite reports that Arsenal are just one of the clubs readying an offer for Samba, Kean makes it clear that Samba’s future remains in Lancashire. Arsenal were looking for defensive cover, following the long-term achilles injury to Thomas Vermaelen.
“We have not had anybody trying to get any of our players, we want to keep our squad intact.
“Anybody who saw the way Chris played against Liverpool, you certainly can’t fault his commitment. He’s playing with a smile on his face, he’s happy to be back in the team and back out on the grass.
“So hopefully we can convince Chris that we are moving forward and that he is a big part of that.”
4) Januray 18th 2011 – Samba confirms Villa contact
Samba spoke to France Football confirming that Aston Villa had made contact with Blackburn. However, negotiations between the two clubs fell through and the transfer never materialised.
“I heard about interest from Lyon, but there is no contact. However, there is contact between Blackburn and Aston Villa.”
5) 1st/2nd February 2011 – transfer window closes. Samba remains at Blackburn & signs 1 year contract extension.
2 weeks pass without official news of Samba’s move to Arsenal. Following a month of media speculation it would seem that Arsenal’s bid to sign Samba in January failed. Blackburn’s management seemed to have addressed some of the issues that Samba had had and convinced him to stay on at the club.
A month on from stating his desire to leave Blackburn, Samba signed a contract extension which keeps him at the club until 2015:
“I’m in a period of my career where I need to make important choices.
“I’ve made the choice to take the challenge to try to take the club as high as possible, to maintain that position and to be recognised as one of the top clubs in the country.”