Standing out in the blog-world is not easy but, as in most walks of life, true quality will always shine through. So I thought it would be a good idea to get two of the best soccer blogs around, EPL TALK and Arseblog, together for a little chat.
Arseblog was started in February 2002 and its author, Arseblogger, writes everyday from his home in Dublin about the trials and tribulations of Arsenal Football Club. The blog receives anywhere from 20,000 to 30,000 hits per day and at this present time has an RSS feed total of 3,415.
The blog and its podcast, which has guest’s such as the Guardian’s Amy Lawrence and ex-Arsenal star Perry Groves, provide honest, witty and intelligent opinions and has become necessary viewing for Arsenal fans.
Earlier this year the blog joined OleOle.com, the social networking site for football fans, and Arseblogger agreed to talk to me about the move and also about Arsenal’s stuttering start to the season.
How has the move from being an independent blogger to being part of the oleole network? Has it changed how you approach the blog and your content?
I approach it in the same was I always did. I want to make sure I provide an enjoyable read for people each day and to maintain the style that has made the blog popular. One of the things I am very conscious of now is getting it out at the right time each morning. What helped made Arseblog successful was the fact it was published each morning, almost like a daily paper, and that’s something I’ve been keen to continue.
As for the content it’s very much the same. Obviously I have a bit more time to put into the podcasts etc but OleOle haven’t tried to dampen down the more colourful parts, shall we say.
How did the chance to join the oleole network come about and was it an easy decision to accept the offer? What was it that swung it your way?
It wasn’t easy but I saw it as a great opportunity and probably one that would not come around again. It was also exciting to be joining something with such big plans and to be part of the team which would help try to build and grow the main site.
When you started out was it your goal to reach this situation or was it just a creative outlet to vent your opinions about your team?
No, it was really just a personal thing for me. I think if you tried to start something with that specific goal you’d fail because it wouldn’t be genuine. People would see through it as contrived. All it has ever been is my opinion, expressed my way. I have never set myself up as a spokesperson for Arsenal fans, never claimed to be any kind of authority on anything, it’s always just been what I think. Sometimes its heat of the moment, sometimes more considered, but it’s always been honest and I think most fans can recognise that, even if they don’t agree with me. And there has always been an outlet for people to counter my waffle if they want – the comments on the site usually run into 1000+ each day.
What do you think it is that people enjoy so much about your blog and what do you think makes a good blog?
I think it’s a combination of things. The writing style, the opinions, the regular schedule of publishing, the community that has grown around the site, lots of things. Asking what’s a good blog is like asking somebody what’s a good meal. Everyone will probably have a different answer or their own favourite. I think blogs are like that too. Maybe Arseblog is the steak and chips of blogs. Everyone likes steak and chips. Except vegetarians, but they don’t count.
Every Arsenal fan believes that Wenger should have strengthened the squad in the summer. Why do you think he didn’t? Lack of funds or stubbornness to do things his way?
There were funds, no question about it. Wenger was the one who chose not spend. As to why I don’t know. How he let Diarra, Flamini and Gilberto leave, all quality players, without any kind of replacement coming in still baffles me to this day. So I think perhaps he thought some of the young players were better than they were. Maybe he thought Denilson or Song could emerge like Flamini. For some reason he thought the last minute purchase of Silvestre would address our defensive problems. It’s hard to figure out what he was thinking really.
Flamini isn’t the greatest ball-player but his relationship with Fabregas was one that doesn’t come around very often and is one that cannot necessarily be bought. Do you think the board Wenger should have given into his wage demands like he did with Adebayor?
I think Flamini wanted to leave and if you pay him the same as he got by moving on a free somewhere else then you set a dangerous precedent within the squad. I heard he was offered crazy money by Bayern Munich, something like £6m per year AFTER TAX. So it’s safe enough to assume AC Milan and paying him something similar. Arsenal could never have matched that despite offering him a lot of money. But if he goes you have to replace him with a similar player. I know we paid £5m for Ramsey but he’s not a Flamini, more of a Cesc. I find it hard to imagine that Arsene Wenger, with his vast knowledge of football, couldn’t identify one player to fill that gap.
Wenger has made some strange decisions in the past couple of years and now seem to be paying for them. How much longer do you think this can carry on before he is seriously questioned and do you think the lack of someone at the club willing to disagree with him is partly to blame?
I’m not sure there was ever anyone to disagree with him but when things were going well it wasn’t an issue. Obviously things are rocky at the moment and fans disquiet is understandable. I think serious questions are already being asked of him so we’ll just have to wait and see if he can answer them.
What are your hopes for the rest of the season?
Nothing too bad to happen between now and January, some experienced, quality player to be bought during the transfer window and while I think the league is probably beyond us I think we’re capable of winning a cup. So some kind of silverware and a top 4 finish would be acceptable, in my opinion.
You can read the Arseblog everyday at http://www.oleole.com/blogs/arseblog