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Archive for January, 2008

Editorial: Gilberto vs. Flamini

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008

Since the start of Arsenal’s 2007-08 season, I’ve been receiving emails from Gilberto fans around the world telling me that Gilberto should be in Arsenal’s starting eleven. These people usually then go on to say that Flamini is actually “Rubbish”, and Gilberto should be given back his place in the team.

I appreciate all the emails I get, and while I don’t reply to them all, I certainly do read every single one. However, the emails which slate Flamini strike me as very strange. These Gilberto fans, who (like me) think that Gilberto is a brilliant player, are emailing me to say how rubbish Flamini is. The falacy should need no pointing out: if Flamini is rubbish, and is keeping Gilberto out of the team, that must make Gilberto even worse than rubbish!

Let me state this fact for any people who are confused: Flamini is an EXCELLENT player. Yesterday’s game against Newcastle United showed this fact loud and clear. He was Arsenal’s man of the match by about 600 miles, and scored an absolutely breathtaking goal. In fact, he has been astounding all season. He may have gotten his chance by luck at the beginning of the season (due to Gilberto’s late arrival from Copa America) – but, by God, how he grabbed his chance by the horns and made the most of it.

So, if the fact that Flamini is excellent is true – what does this mean for Gilberto? Does it reflect badly on Gilberto? Many people seem to think that it does – but this is clearly false. If Gilberto is being kept out by an amazing player (Arsenal’s best), then this actually reflects well on Gilberto. It’s the player equivalent of a country losing to the eventual winners of the world cup: there’s no shame in being knocked out by the best.

Not only is there no shame for Gilbero: it’s actually better for him that Flamini is playing so well. It will give Gilberto no option but to up his game, and improve himself even more in training. If there was no pressure from great midfielders at Arsenal, Gilberto would have no pressure to improve, and he wouldn’t need to put in the effort to play as amazingly as he has done in the past.

Gilberto’s task is this: outplay Arsenal’s best player. It’s not an easy one, but should he do it, he would show everybody how tough a player he is. Gilberto is a man who does not lay down and die at the mere suggestion of competition: Wenger has repeatedly praised Gilberto’s attitude in the face of competition this season, and if he continues his efforts, he’ll eventually replace Flamini again (be that thanks to a chance-inclusion as with Flamini, or by merit alone).

To conclude: Flamini is not rubbish. He’s actually brilliant. And this can only serve to help Gilberto in the long run.

In Defence of Gilberto

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008

This is the editor here. I have been running for the last few years, and I’ve been a big Gilberto Silva fan ever since he joined Arsenal back in 2002.

Last night, Gilberto played in Arsenal’s 5-1 defeat against Spurs. Gilberto’s apparent poor performance (I didn’t see the game, so I can’t personally comment on his performance) was criticised by many for being the main reason that Arsenal lost. Not only this; Gilberto has been criticised all season long for playing badly.

Basically, all the Gilberto criticism comes down to the fact that people don’t think he’s putting in as much effort as last season, and as a result playing badly. These people frequently go on to say that he should be subsequently sold. Here is my defence of Gilberto.

The claim that Gilberto is playing badly is probably a valid claim. I would not pretend that Gilberto was playing well, if he was actually playing badly. To do so would be blind. So, my qualms with the Gilberto criticisms are not about whether or not he is playing badly. My actual qualms are to do with the surrounding remarks which follow these observations.

Firstly, the assumption that Gilberto is choosing to play badly is ridiculous. Practically every journalist which has criticised Gilberto this season has said something like “…A shaddow of his former self, Gilberto isn’t even trying to impress Wenger.” This makes out that Gilberto is choosing to play badly, and thus, choosing to exclude himself from the first team. This is such a ridiculous claim that it makes my teeth itch. To claim that Gilberto’s bad form is simply down to him not “trying” to play as well as he did last season is ridiculous; Gilberto has said countless times this season that he is working 100% to get his place in the first team back – and even if he hadn’t declared this, what motivation would there be for him to play badly? Losing his place in the team to Flamini benefits Gilberto in no way. The only way in which it would, would be if Gilberto enjoyed sitting on the bench. His form last season makes this evidently not true, as does Wenger’s reports of Gilberto’s energetic performances in training.

The truth is this: rather than Gilberto’s form being down to his own fault, it actually has very little to do with him. The reason for his below-par form is this: Gilberto got back to Arsenal’s pre-season late due to being away with Brazil on their Confederation’s Cup tournament, and as a result, wasn’t as fit as the fresh Flamini. Consequently, Flamini started the first few games of the season instead of Gilberto. Gilberto’s lack of match fitness and freshness at the start of the season then became worse and worse as each game went by without him playing. It was a catch 22 situation for Gilberto: he was not able to get into the first eleven because he wasn’t match fit, but couldn’t get match fit because he wasn’t in the first eleven. Despite the apparent obviousness of this argument though, journalists seem to think that Gilberto’s bad form is simply “lack of effort”.

Next up, is the claim that Gilberto should be sold – as some sort of weird punishment as a result of playing badly. The ghastly Pete Gill of Football 365 made this claim last night in his horrible article titled “Wenger Still Unable To See The Invisible Wall“. I quote from his story:

It’s not a coincidence that Gilberto is the only Arsenal player to have started each of the club’s three defeats this season. If they don’t want to suffer any repeat humiliations, Arsenal supporters should consider a whip-round to buy out the Brazilian’s contract.

Such short sighted stupidity makes me want to throw myself off a bridge, but thankfully for this article, I will resist the urge and continue. People like Pete Gill are exactly the type of fickle ‘football fan’ which results in The Sun selling newspapers. Pete Gill is just a fickle football writer, who will react to the smallest glitch of a player or a club, and write a hate-article based on it. I loath his type because of his short memory: he was probably one of the journalists hyping up Gilberto last season when the Brazilian was Arsenal’s best player of the season, captain, and top goal scorer. But fickle minds forget, and how! He now publicly admits that he would pay money to see Gilberto fired as an Arsenal player. I am not saying that Wenger should keep players based SOLEY on past performances, but to throw out a player of Gilberto’s ability, experience and statute JUST because he’s not match fit as a result of not playing would be utter stupidity, and is probably the reason why Wenger has not done so. Wenger recognises that Gilbeto has a good chance of getting himself back into the first team at some point in the future, and will subsequently improve his form, and be of a great use to Arsenal. Contrast this sensible view of Pete Gill, who, if in charge of Arsenal, would no doubt fire every player who underwent a patch of poor form. Under Gill, one wonders if Arsenal would have any players at all by the end of the season. Maybe not, but he would at least be much happier not having to put up with bad patches! Or maybe he would be more upset at not being able to blame any players anymore…

In his article, Pete Gill then goes on to say that Gilberto was the sole reason that Arsenal lost against Spurs:

Nobody came close to matching the incompetence of Gilberto Silva. While Wenger remains perplexingly blind to the wretchedness of the ‘Invisible Wall’, seasoned Gilberto-watchers would have spotted the way he expertly tip-toed out of Jermaine Jenas’ way in the opening minute, gave up on the fourth goal, and then ducked out of challenging Jenas in the build-up to the fifth.

Without drawing attention to his erroneous claim that Wenger is ‘blind` to bad form, and the ridiculousness where he claims that Gilberto is actually trying to make Arsenal concede (can you believe he actually says this?), I’ll just point out something which he failed to mention, which proves that Gilberto wasn’t the only man at fault: Arsenal only scored one goal. Why is he not blaming the strikers? I’ll tell you why. Actually… I can’t tell you why. This is because I don’t know. He just blames Gilberto because, assumably, he is, at best, a bad journalist, and, at worst, completely incompetent when it comes to objectively analysing football matches. (Note: my judgement of Pete Gill extends no further than that of his judgement of football. I do not judge him as a person, only that of which I am privvy to: his views on football, and his journalistic abilities.)

Everything which I’ve said in this post comes down to one thing: if Gilberto had not come back late to Arsenal’s pre-season, he would not have suffered a lapse in fitness, and he would probably have played every one of Arsenal’s games this season, would still be captain, and would be getting praised by people like Pete Gill – who, as one commenter of his article points out, was probably criticising Wenger for leaving Gilberto out of the squad at the start of the season. Nothing else has changed about Gilberto. He is still the hard working midfielder we all loved last season; except that the roll of the dice saw him left out of the squad to the in-form Flamini. This was not of his doing: and to claim that it was, is a gross lie.

Gilberto interviewed in UEFA magazine

Friday, January 18th, 2008

Gilberto’s been spending his time talking to UEFA this week. Here’s the interview – taken from UEFA Magazine (questions in bold, answers not):

Gilberto the man in the middle

What do you see as the biggest challenge facing the Arsenal this season in the Champions League and the Premier League?

Gilberto: We have done our part in the first phase and now have a tremendous challenge against AC Milan in the knockout stages. But you can’t change opponents in a competition like the Champions League, which is why I don’t really think it was a huge issue for us to have qualified in second place. The same happened when we played Juventus in the quarter-finals a couple of seasons ago and we managed to qualify. Milan have a great squad but I also trust in Arsenal’s potential.

What are your best memories in the Arsenal shirt thus far?

Gilberto: Nothings trumps the 2003/04 Premiership, when we finished the season unbeaten, something that had only been done once in the history of English football. It will be extremely hard for any other team to repeat that. I still remember how the team got more and more confidence and suddenly everything seemed to be on our side. Incredible.

As a teenager I wonder how football players from poverty-stricken countries such as Brazil are scouted. How did you end up playing in Europe?

Gilberto: My case is not typical of a Brazilian player, because I was already 25 when the chance to come to Europe came. It was after the 2002 World Cup, which Brazil won. That made clubs pay attention to my work. It has become much more common for Brazilian players to leave the country at younger ages, sometimes without even playing a couple seasons for a big team. I think the chances of success are bigger if you get some more experience at the top level in your own country before thinking of leaving. It prepares you more for what’s to come.

Who do you think is the best English midfielder and why?

Gilberto: Steve Gerrard, not only because of his ability and presence but also due to the fact he is an amazing team player. Liverpool and England are lucky to have him.

How do you guys work on your short passing? You Gunners are perfect at it!

Gilberto: Arsène Wenger has always told us he wants us to move the ball. This has become an Arsenal trademark under him. We don’t do anything special, though. Sometimes there are training sessions in which a player can’t touch the ball more than once or twice. For me the short-passing game is nothing new, because that’s the way things are done in Brazil.

Arsenal have qualified second in their group behind Sevilla, and now have to face FIFA world champions and UCL defending champions AC Milan. What are your thoughts coming into the knockout rounds of the UEFA Champions League and facing such tough opposition?

Gilberto: The Champions League is tough for everybody. That has been proved many times in games where so-called stronger sides had to work their socks off to see off the opposition, not always successfully. Villarreal made it to the semi-finals at their first attempt in 2006. The 2004 final was contested by Porto and Monaco, two sides nobody imagined going that far. You have to respect a side like AC Milan, who are the defending champions and have so many talents onboard, but not fear them.

What is the atmosphere like in the north London derby with Tottenham and how does it compare with others you have played in?

Gilberto: The north London derby is pretty intense considering the atmosphere in English football, but things are different in Brazil. Supporters in my country stand most of the time and they are more vocal. But I really like playing in English derbies and hearing the crowd being more worked up than normal. Even the tea ladies and stewards are more excited on a derby week.

© 1998-2008. All rights reserved.

And that’s that.

Gilberto: I’m staying at Arsenal

Friday, January 11th, 2008

Last night, Gilberto revealed he wants to stay at Arsenal. So, as long as Wenger wants to keep him – he’ll be staying at Arsenal until Summer 2008, at least. Here’s what the Bert-meister said:

I want to stay. I have worked so hard to get back into the team and I hope I can achieve that as soon as possible.

But I know the team is playing well, Mathieu and Cesc are playing well but I will continue to do my job and the Carling Cup gives me an opportunity to show I’m capable to come back.

Always looking ahead, that man. Credit to him. He works very hard, all without any fuss. He is a model professional to all the youngsters at Arsenal who are currently crying their little eyes red because they’re not playing every single game.

(The Mirror reports this story.)

Gilberto: Family give me strength

Thursday, January 10th, 2008

Gilberto was on the Setanta Sports website today, and he said this:

It has been quite bad for me to look at Arsenal playing so well from the bench – but I try to be very positive every day at the training ground and to fight.

The important thing for me at the moment and what makes me very strong is my family.

I have found this is the way to manage the situation at the moment and to look forwards.

I have experienced very hard things in the past and so why not manage things the right way at the moment?

Professional, as ever.

Gilberto Silva Glad To Be Back

Monday, January 7th, 2008

Arsenal midfielder Gilberto Silva has said he is glad to be back in the first team after playing the full 90 minutes against Newcastle United on Wednesday evening. The game ended 1-1 but it marked the return of the Brazilian midfielder who has missed a number of games this season.

“It is nice to get a chance to play a full game but of course I am doing the best I can to get back in the team,” Gilberto told the club’s official website.

“I will see what happens but of course I want to play in the first XI and I will do my best to achieve that.”

The 2002 World Cup winner added: “A big squad is important. At the moment we have a few injuries, but we have other players who can do a great job.

“The manager needs to change the team in some positions but we keep the same spirit and the same way of playing.”

Source: Clicky