Date:Saturday January 13 2007
Here on Vital Blackburn we try to bring you the top interviews and we have been successful again. Vital Arsenal`s editor has been good enough this week to sit down and answer a few questions about the Gooners, Rovers and Saturday`s game.
It would appear that the Gooners are nervous about the threat of Gamst Pedersen and are fully aware of the capabilities of Brad Friedel. However, Rovers need to be careful of The Beast 'biting back` and the obvious threat of Henry and van Persie. Plus it would appear Benni McCarthy is going to have to work hard to continue his goal scoring exploits when he faces the formidable centre back pairing of the rock, Kolo Toure, and the cool Johannes Djourou.
Enjoy the interview today:
Arsenal seem to be having something of an inconsistent season. How would you rate it to date?
Many Gooners are frustrated by our form over the past 2 seasons, but me, I`m happy. What ever anyone says, we are in a period of transition, but that`s no bad thing. Sir Alex Ferguson has spent the last 3 seasons rebuilding his side, and it`s through gritted teeth that I say he has done a great job, indeed I believe they`ll go on to win the title. As strange as this may sound, when I look at the Man Utd side it excites me, not because it`s that great but because I can see them winning the league, yet in one or two years time I believe our team will catch, and surpass Fergie`s boys. Our players are better & I can wait for the glory days.
Claims have been made against Arsenal this season that you are incapable of 'lowering` your game for some of the less glamorous clubs in the Premiership such as Sheff Utd, Watford and Bolton(with all respect to Bolton), how true do you think these accusations are?
I`m not sure what`s going on to be honest. It`s too easy to jump on the 'red top` band wagon and say "Arsenal don`t like it up em` or we can`t handle the physical game, but that`s just bollocks. If you look at all the games we`ve lost this season, we haven`t been out muscled once, we`ve just been crap, plain and simple. What makes me laugh though is that the commentator and pundit refer to the Bolton`s and Sheffield United`s as teams who show 'true English grit` yet when Arsenal look to play physical we`re branded as 'dirty` and 'same old Arsenal, always cheating`.
Henry is awesome, that goes without saying, but who else really stands out in the current Arsenal set-up?
Now you`re asking. Being an Arsenal fan I know I`m biased, but we have many many top players who are just as important as each other. Robin van Persie this season has been deadly, and to date is our top scorer so far this season. Gilberto provides vital cover for our back four and has chipped in with the goals too. Fabregas has proved that he is one of the top midfielders in the world and all at 19 years of age. But probably most the most important player for me over the last few years has been Kolo Toure. I`m not sure of the statistics, but I`d wager he`s played more games for the Gunners in the past two seasons than any other player. And with the demise of Sol Campbell and the rise of Djourou, Toure has held us together magnificently. Probably one of the best central defenders in world football.
From a selfish point of view, I`m a big fan of Julio Baptista and I was very excited when Arsene brought him to the Prem but why hasn`t it worked for him so far this season? Does he have a future at Arsenal? Granted he smashed four past Liverpool but what does that really mean for him?
I`ll make my stance straight away. Anyone who says it hasn`t worked for Baptista at Arsenal is wrong. The dude has made four starts for Arsenal and scored five goals. That`s a better strike rate than both Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp. The problem for me is that the Spanish game is far less physical than our own, and when Julio came over he just wasn`t fit enough. Ever wondered why the Spanish football team are such under achievers? Mark my words, the Beast will bite back.
Which young prospect are you most excited about at Arsenal and Fabregas is no longer a young prospect?
19 and not a young prospect? Wow he must be good!! Johan Djourou. How good is he? He`s also 19, a full international and probably the coolest player I`ve ever seen playing in one of the most important positions on the pitch. When he first arrived at Arsenal, Arsene Wenger told the press not to bother asking about the player and just to forget about him. I think Wenger didn`t want the prying eyes of the world spotting what looks to be an awesome footballing talent. He`s ready now though, and fresh from signing a six year contract, I think we have a world star in our midst.
How are you guys finding life at your new stadium? At this early stage do you miss Highbury or does the magnitude of your new coliseum eclipse the cauldron of noise that was created back in Finsbury area?
Coliseum!?!? I like it!! Personally I love it. Of course I miss Highbury because it holds so many special memories for me and millions of other Gooners. At the moment the fans are still finding their feet, but the atmosphere gets better week after week. The last match I went to was Spurs at home and the noise was deafening (Not from the away end. Over hyped and overly stupid bunch) my ears were ringing for the rest of the day. Obviously there will be games when the crowd are quiet but that happens at every stadium, anyone who says otherwise is a liar. It makes me laugh when relegation fodder like Sheffield United come to our place and suggest the atmosphere was crap when they went, but honestly, how do they expect us to get excited about the visit of a bunch of flat cap wearers? That said, there`s no stadium in the world that could reach the decibels of Highbury!!
What is your assessment of the current Rovers side and how do align yourself with comments attached to Rovers that they are bully boys, over-physical and play long ball football?
I`ve been to the last two away games at Blackburn and we won one and lost one, both hard fought games. That said, I wouldn`t brand you in the same league as Bolton (bunch of cloggers) and when you came to Highbury….Ashburton, a few weeks ago Hughes had the gonads to try and play some football. Ok so you got hammered, but the score line flattered to deceive. You were inches away from claiming a 3-3 draw yet went home on the end of a drubbing. You play some nice stuff now, and mix it up a little.
If you could choose a single Rovers player to take to Arsenal, who would it be and why?
It`s got to be Pederson hasn`t it. What a player he is. I love his technique (especially that volley against Man Utd) and so often he comes up with the goods. But if you`d said to me I could take anyone player out of your team for the match on Saturday it would be Brad Freidel. Seriously, why does he always play so well against us? I remember a game a few years ago, we had 23 shots on goal and scored 1, you had 1 shot on goal and beat us 2-1. WTF is going on?!?!?!
Finally, after your fortunate victory over the Rovers at The Emirates when you scraped through to a 6-2 drubbing, what would your prediction be for Saturday`s game?
After all the things I`ve said about our world class players, you`d expect I`d predict a massacre in favour of Arsenal wouldn`t you? Well over on Vital Arsenal we have a little prediction league going on, and for the past few weeks I`ve been predicting Arsenal losses and we`ve been smashing a few teams, so with that in mind I`ll say 2-1 to Rovers :P
Date:Saturday January 13 2007
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