Showing posts with label Dennis Bergkamp. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dennis Bergkamp. Show all posts

12 December 2022

What does Kane's calamity mean for Arsenal? Good times.

As of this writing, the ball that Harry Kane blazed over the crossbar to consign England to a 2-1 defeat to France has been found in near-Earth orbit, having forced the International Space Station to adjust its own orbit in order to avoid the ball. For as high as it sails, the trajectory of Kane's career threatens to follow an opposite course.  This had the makings of a make-or-break moment for Kane, and its outcome may just break him. It could do the opposite, but the circumstances do not bode well for the 29 year old, who is facing the very bleak and very likely end of a career bereft of silverware of any kind.

18 October 2021

At long last, Vieira returns to Arsenal!

It's true, and not for the first time. Some are saying that he may soon be here to stay. Not me, though. That's a bit of madness, but it's understandable, such is Vieira's legendary status, Arsenal's difficulty in finding his "heir", and the fact that we find ourselves mired midtable, just three points clear of Monday's visitors. Of course, on Vieira's first return to Arsenal, his erstwhile friend, colleague, and compatriot Robert Pirès greeted him with a somewhat impertinent tackle that left Vieira frustrated as Pirès launched a counter that saw Henry feed Fabregas for the opening goal in a 2-0 win, taking us one step closer to that 2006 Champions League final. Ever since Vieira left, we've hungered for someone to fill the role from which he dominated and domineered. Ever since Wenger left, many have wondered if Vieira could return as Arsenal's manager. Come Monday, we have have more (or less) to wonder about.

09 April 2015

"The greatest signing Arsenal have ever made and will ever make."

If you've never experienced the jaw-dropping talent, artistry, or achievement of Dennis Bergkamp, I hope you'll indulge in the documentary that follows. Simply put, he might be my favorite Gunner, one who most-fully epitomises what it takes to succeed: technical talent, a flair for the amazing, a humble mindset. With the idea that a picture is worth a thousand words, then, I'll stop typing and encourage you to start watching. Sit back, relax, and enjoy one of Arsenal's all-time greats...

25 January 2015

Tomáš Rosický, Arsenal legend? Yes. A thousand times, yes.

Perhaps no sequence better sums up Tomáš Rosický than that which led to his sumptuous goal. After an innocuous pass that launches an attack deep in Brighton's defensive third, Rosický watches as Giroud's too-cute flick is scooped up, and he pounces on the Brighton defenders too-tame side pass, side-steps a clumsy tackle, and delivers a deft look-away pass to Giroud just inside the area. As three defenders converge (more or less) on Giroud, Rosický floats to the top of the area and awaits Giroud's well-weighted chip, which he coolly volleys home, slicing and swerving around a defender and under the keeper. It's the kind of sequence that Rosický has delivered time and time again—but has he done so often enough to earn a spot among Arsenal's legendary players? Could he enter the hallowed antiquity currently inhabited by the likes of Henry, Bergkamp, and Adams? Why not?

28 August 2014

From the vaults: Leicester 3-3 Arsenal

Here's a famous (or infamous, depending on your point of view and outlook on life) throwback to a match between Arsenal and Leicester City from 1997. Bergkamp scintillated with a hat-trick, but the fight-back that Leicester showed is something to behold. Six minutes of stoppage time saw three goals scored, two from Leicester, to turn an apparent 1-2 win for Arsenal to a 3-3 draw that Leicester City supporters are sure to look to for inspiration ahead of Sunday's clash. 

22 February 2014

The shadow cast by Bergkamp's statue

Today, Arsenal unveiled a statue to commemorate the exploits of Dennis Bergkamp, one of the most-unique and exhilirating players to ever don an Arsenal kit. The moment, cast in bronze, shows Bergkamp leaping to collect the ball on his right foot as Newcastle's Dan O'Brien looks on. It's just one of a seemingly infinite number sublime moments that Bergkamp delivered, effortlessly and poetically, distilling both the athletic and the aesthetic into one. As we lionize him, though, I hope that the long shadow cast by his statute and his career doesn't stretch so far as to obscure the light. He was a once-in-generation kind of player, and it's more than fitting to give him his due. For me, more than Henry, he is Arsenal. His understanding, his vision, his all takes my breath away. However...

21 February 2014

Mesut Özil unveiling, circa 2031

Mesut Özil has gone down in history as one of the Club's greatest players of all time, having delivered a club-record 129 assists from 417 appearances over ten trophy-laden seasons with Arsenal.

After joining from Real Madrid in September 2013, Özil, then 25, made his Gunners debut in the fourth match of the 2013-14 season—a 3-1 win over Sunderland at the Stadium of Light on 14 September 2013. Only 11 minutes into the game, Özil tallied his first assist as a Gunner, collecting a pass along the left flank and slid a pass through the penalty-area for teammate Olivier Giroud to slot home. The assist ratcheted up expectations around the new player to unreasonable levels, especially for a fan-base starved for silverware and weary of player-departures.

12 November 2013

A Bergkampian Giroud needs a break. Thank you, interlull...

Another interlull is upon us. Somehow, however, I can't quite get into the spirit of the season. Seems like Halloween was just yesterday, but all of the shops are already putting up their Interlull displays and merchandise and that one radio station has already switched to all-Interlullian carols and—oh. Nevermind. This interlull does come at a decent time, in all fairness, as our lads must be completely wrung-out after a madcap dash, especially in the last week. I know that losing to Man U is never ideal, and losing to them thanks to a goal from the Dutch Skunk makes it seem that much more distressing, but the reality is that we're still on as fine a run of a form of any club around. Losing at Old Trafford feels like a speed-bump rather than a flat tire. Whereas the previous interlull looked like it might disrupt our momentum (but didn't), this one comes around just in time. We're clearly knackered, if not from the matches themselves but the pressure as well. Each positive result increases the pressure for another positive result, and perhaps a loss pops that bubble and allows the squad to relax a bit.  Here's hoping then that everyone comes back in 12 days' time with a bit more spring in their step.

The only national team with much on the line at the moment would be France, which has to face Ukraine twice, away 11 November and at home 15 November, in a playoff to qualify for the World Cup. Everyone else is either through or eliminated and will play various friendlies here or there. The big concern here is, of course, injuries in pointless matches, but perhaps a more serious one is simply fatigue. Arsenal, as one of the Frenchiest of Premier League clubs, has to wonder about whom Deschamps will name to his side. Facing pressure to advance, he'll surely look to name a full-strength squad, and this might force Olivier Giroud to lead the line despite clearly suffering from the stress and fatigue of being Arsenal's only real option. It would be wonderful to see Benzema or Remy play instead, but we'll have to see what Deschamps does. Speaking ahead of the trip to Ukraine, Laurent Koscielny had this to say of Giroud:
It’s true that he’s not scoring but he is setting them up, like he did against Dortmund, but he’s also playing game after game and hasn’t had a rest, so maybe he’s feeling a bit of fatigue. He’s very important for us—strong and always answers the call on the pitch. If you look at the games, he weighs enormously on the opposition’s defense. All the balls he wins are in the air with his back to goal. He works very hard up front.
mmm, not quite the Flying Dutchman...
It's that last bit, his work-rate, that gets overlooked, especially when he's struggled to score lately. We're still looking for that one, talismanic player who can score goal after goal, even more so after seeing van Persie score against us. However, we then overlook the other contributions that Giroud makes. He might be the best link-up player we've seen since—dare I say it?—Dennis Bergkamp. No, he's not as skilled or as incisive as Dennis, not by a long shot, but when it comes to winning balls or creating chances for teammates, it's been a long time since we've had a forward who fills that role. Van Persie was more of a scorer, less involved in build-up play, and others like Bendtner, Adebayor, or Chamakh are barely worth mentioning. When Giroud struggles as he did at Old Trafford, the entire offense sputters. He and Ramsey (among others) have scored some fine goals, but we've lacked the finishing touch that Podolski might bring, or the defense-stretching pace that Walcott offers. Fortunately, by the time the interlull ends, we could have those two back, and the entire squad should be a bit better rested. We might then see more of the fruits of Giroud's labor.

I'm nervous about the Giroud-Bergkamp comparison for two reasons—one, some are going to misunderstand me and assume that I take Giroud to be as good as Bergkamp. He's not. Few can be. In this one area, build-up play, he may be the best since Bergkamp, which doesn't mean "as good as Bergkamp." Two, I worry about making any comparison to Invincibles-era players because, by their nature, the Invincibles are incomparable. They played some of the most-exquisite football we'll ever see. They also benefit from the passage of time, which burnishes their accomplishments, warming our hearts all the more. Any player who plays for us will suffer in the comparison (and rightly so). There may come a time when individual players, or the squad as a whole, deliver moments as memorable as tose players did. For now, though, let's focus on what we've got—a fine squad in its own right, good enough to be atop the Prem and Group F. There are needs to address, of course, and a lot of football to be played. Who knows? We could falter and again scramble for a fourth-place finish. We could also resume this run of ours and start to look like serious contenders in more than one competition. Time will tell.

Speaking of competitions, it looks like I'm getting trounced in the Football Blogging Awards, at least on twitter, where Futbolpulse's stable of writers is racking up the votes. I'm still hoping that the Gooner family can rally its support by voting for Woolwich 1886. I can't match Futbolpulse's breadth of support but hope I can beat them on depth, as well as quality. If you're with me, I hope you'll vote in one (or more) of the following ways:
Thanks, as always for your visit. 'Til next time

14 October 2013

Benzema, Bergkamp, and Lewandowski...

Sigh. Another interlull day does what it does. I can't even drum up much excitement for the qualifiers. Germany and Belgium are all squared away, but England, France, and Spain still have to keep an eye on the rear-view mirror. The Czech Republic could still sneak in, but Wales and Poland are both eliminated. One might hope then that Poland rolls over for England to assure that England finishes above Ukraine, who travel to winless, goal-less San Marino and its minus-45 goal-differential. Coming on the heels of Ukraine's fans' despicable behavior towards San Marino in the first leg, one hopes that a bit of karma delivers San Marino a famous 10-0 victory. Time will tell.

As for Arsenal news, it's slim-pickings indeed, as the most noise seems to come from what didn't happen or won't happen until January if it happens at all. I refer first to the fake Bergkamp twitter account @DBergkamp1969, which has been suspended after it was exposed as a sham. I'm not sure what would motivate a person to embark on such a fruitless project; I worry about the 20 minutes of my own life that I wasted tweeting #RedknappClaims such as "'Arry knew she was a tranny the whole time he was watching The Crying Game." Comic gold, I'm sure, but was it worth it? I'm sure that whoever set up the take Bergkamp account was twirling the ends of his handlebar moustache as he set up the account and said something like "Curses! Foiled again! If only it wasn't for those meddling kids!" once the account was suspended. Shame on me, of course, for following the account. I'm not sure what I expected to get out of it. Did I think I'd manage to tweet him with a just-right mixture of warmth and aloofness and nonchalance that would inspire Dennis to reach out, not with a tweet, but with a sincere and heartfelt DM? Alas, it was not to be, and it's a bit of a shame that we won't be hearing from him, at least via twitter, because his insights into the game, and his recollections of his time with Arsenal, would make for some beautiful reading. Maybe he should skip twitter altogether and just put out a book...

Elsewhere, there's tall-talk already of Karim Benzema being made available at a "cut-rate" price of £20m and of Robert Lewandowski saying that he "never said that [he] will sign a contract with Bayern" and he "would like to play in [sic] Premier League". Each of these has been seized on by eager minds as doors thrown open to Arsenal. First, Benzema. I'm not wildly enthusiastic about him, certainly not as much as I was for Higuain. He's lackadaisical, and aside from a strong showing against Galatasaray, hasn't done much yet to distinguish himself for a free-scoring Real Madrid. One would think that Higuain's departure would have given Benzema room to make his mark, but, aside from a ridiculous haircut, there's been little positive to say about him. The contrast between signing Mesut Özil from Real Madrid and signing Karim Benzema strikes me. The first is the steal of the season and sent a strong signal about our growing ambitions. Özil is, after all, touted as being among the world's ten best footballers, and for him to leave Real Madrid for any club is stunning. On the other hand, we have reports of Real Madrid actively shopping Benzema at a price two-thirds of what they paid for him in 2009. With the market for strikers what is was this summer, something stinks there. He's only gone for two goals from 26 shots in eight matches, and he's apparently second-choice for the French national team behind none other than Olivier Giroud. Giroud has spoken openly about wanting another striker, and perhaps Benzema would thrive in a new setting and under Arsène's management, but I worry about the locker-room tensions there. That said, it's October, and there's a lot of football to be played between now and January. Let's see how Benzema does—and what he might have to say about joining Arsenal—before we get too worked up about him one way or the other.

In similar fashion, Lewandowski's comments feel exciting at first blush...until we remind ourselves that, again, it's only October, and he's highly unlikely to leave Dortmund in January. Even if he's now talking down a move to Bayern, this is probably little more than maneuvering ahead of any negotiations over wages. If he's seen as committed exclusively to Bayern, this could depress his value. Keeping the likes of us, Man U, and Chelsea interested is a solid tactic for extracting the best deal for himself (and I don't mean that as a criticism).  I've joked in the past that we should sign Lewandowski to save Dortmund the anger and disappointment of seeing him leave for Bayern, the same anger and disappointment we felt when van Persie left for Man U, but maybe there's something to it. If he's dead-set on leaving, we'd be remiss to ignore him. He wouldn't be cheap, of course, and might even look to be the highest-paid player in most squads. As with Benzema, I refuse to get excited about him at this point. I am excited about Lewandowski in a way that I'm not about Benzema, and I think his signing could feel almost as good as Özil's was. His potential appearance at Wembley on Tuesday, in front of as many as 18,000 Polish fans, would offer a tantalizing, up-close view of his talents. However, it'll have to sit on the back, back-burner for now.

Looking past that and back to Arsenal itself, it looks like we could have Rosicky, Cazorla, and Sanogo available to face Norwich on Saturday, and the idea of seeing Cazorla partnering with Özil has me drooling already. We'll take a closer look at the match later in the week. Until next time, thanks for stopping by...

21 June 2013

What Higuain's arrival would mean for Theo

We're all suffering from feverish anticipation as rumors continue to swirl around Higuain. I think we'll hear something important today, something more substantial than the stories peddled by The Mirror, Sun, Marca or other tabloid-ish sources. Without going so far as to jinx it, I think the club has been waiting to get past the anniversary of signing Dennis Bergkamp to avoid risking the "anointing" effect. If the signing had been confirmed yesterday, 18 years to the day after Bergkamp had signed, Higuain would then carry the heavy mantle of replicating Bergkamp's feats, style, and glories, and that's just too much to ask of anyone. Look at how Ramsey struggled to "be" Cesc, or how Theo has labored under the "next Henry" burden (something I'm guilty of pushing). Instead of expecting new players to imitate the legends, we'd all be better served by letting them develop their own identities and their own games.

Speaking of Theo, I look forward to signing the likes of Higuain or some other center-forward (I'm going to continue to hedge because I don't want to queer the deal) because how it disabuses Theo of the notion that he should play more centrally. I've long pushed the concept that he should play on the wing--it suits his abilities so much more than playing centrally. He's incredibly fast, largely one-footed, and small. He's at his best running onto a through-ball to finish or to fly down the wing to create chances for others. Put him in the middle, and he all but disappears. His ball-handling is not strong enough to allow him to take a ball from the air or to receive a pass with his back to goal and then dribble through a thicket of defenders.

However, in his defense, the aura of the center-forward position is not to be underestimated. When you think  of the players who have played there in the last decade, you can understand why Theo would want to: Henry. Bergkamp. Van Persie. Wright. It's arguably the most-glamorous position on the field, the one that demands the most attention and that receives the most opportunities. It's like the lead guitar in a rock-band. Theo wants to be that man, but it's just not meant to be (in my opinion). You could almost see him this year craving that role after it was vacated, even more so after each time Giroud or Gervinho squibbed or fluffed or sent one into the cheap-seats. Theo's mind probably raged, "I would have put that home! That should be meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"  Makes sense. I remember a few times screaming at the set that I could have finished better than Gervinho did, and I'm a 39-year old with a torn ACL.

If we can bring in someone like Higuain, the knock-on effect will benefit Theo in the long run. No longer will he have so much inspiration to crave the center-position as it will finally be filled by someone who knows what to do and how to do it (I'm sure Giroud will improve on this year's performance, but he'd still need time to change perceptions). Like a lot of us, I've written extensively on Higuain's virtues, but one neglected quality is how he'd mesh with the team. His willingness and ability to share time with Benzema and to defer to Ronaldo suggest that he doesn't have so much of the "me-first" quality that players like Rooney carry. Maybe that's a personality flaw that drives excellence--maybe a dominant finisher needs a certain dickishness as part of the skill-set. Then again, Messi. Moving on. Higuain seems like he can come in without stifling Theo's development, and the two could then form a powerful 1-2 punch. Not hero and sidekick, necessarily, but a working relationship that gives both the space and the touches they will need to score.

Freed from always hoping to play centrally, no longer tempted to drift in to "prove" his superiority over Gervinho or Giroud, could encourage Theo to accept his position as a destiny rather than a fate and would allow Theo to focus on redefining the position. It's not for nothing that he scored so many of his 21 goals from the wing (17, I believe). There are few sights more breath-taking than seeing him bolt down the wing past hapless defenders and curl in through the corner of the box. I've argued that this looks to be a break-out season for the lad, and I believe that pairing with a more-dominant center-forward will help that prediction to bear fruit.

27 February 2013

Bergkamp Gets His Statue

Beautiful. To be unveiled, it is hoped, before the 2013-14 season. Pictures are worth a thousand words, so we'll leave it at that:
Oh ,what the heck. Here's more for club and country.