The Chronicles of Charsenal are back! Remember, this a fictitious account based on the video game Football Manager 2012. If you're not into that, or the thought of a Arsenal-Chelsea merger horrifies you, you don't have to read it. If you're just going leave negative comments, please don't. You're not going to change our minds, and you risk the laser.
Chapter Three: 03 August 2011 - 31 August 2011
The international break has started badly for young Charsenal manager Alexander Singer, with reports from the U-20 World Cup that Spanish U-20 international Oriol Romeu has suffered a neck strain. Thankfully, the injury will only keep him out of action for a week or so. Thirty-one Charsenal players have been called up to their senior national sides, with John Terry, Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole, and Theo Walcott representing England. As the first round of matches takes place on his birthday, Singer will be hoping to receive the gift of his important players returning uninjured as he looks ahead to a tough opening fixture away to Liverpool. A match at Anfield is always a difficult proposition, and would only be made more difficult with key players missing. Charsenal will finish the month with league matches home to Queens Park Rangers, and away to Fulham. The period will also see an end to the English transfer window, though Charsenal aren't expected to bring any players in in this window. A few players may yet leave, however.
Unfortunately for Charsenal and Singer, his birthday did bring news of some injuries, with Thomas Vermaelen suffering a twisted knee in Belgium's 4-0 defeat of Slovenia, Tomas Rosicky sustaining a gashed leg in the Czech Republic's 3-1 defeat to Norway, and Josh McEachran receiving a bruised thigh as England defeated Ecuador 1-0 at the U-20 World Cup. On the fortunate side, none of them will be out longer than two weeks. The highest-profile Charsenal player to score on international duty was vice-captain Robin van Persie. The striker scored the opening goal in Holland's 2-2 draw with England at Wembley. Elsewhere, Johan Djourou scored for Switzerland in their 3-0 rout of Liechtenstein, Wojciech Szczesny was only deemed good enough to represent Poland at U-21 level, and Laurent Koscielny won has first cap for France, coming on as a substitute, though he largely disappointed.
During the press conference ahead of his first game as Charsenal manager against Liverpool, Alexander Singer expressed his desire to see his team get a good start to the season by converting their pre-season form into league results, saying, "I'm hoping for a good showing today, and a good result to match. We've had a good break, and need to turn our pre-season form into results in competitive matches." When discussing the pressure of making his managerial debut in a tough stadium like Anfield, Singer stated, "I'm trying to keep calm and remember it's just one match." Asked whether matches with rivals such as Liverpool make the Barclays Premier League more special, he responded, "They make the competition much richer, of course they do. They bring out the passion in the fans, and fans make such a difference to the atmosphere of a match. Players thrive in a good environment." Singer went on to state, when asked if his first eleven was already set, "I have an idea of who my best players are, but there will be chances in the coming matches for everyone to prove they're in the best eleven." Despite being a new manager, the upheaval surrounding the club, and the sheer difficulty of the challenge ahead of him, Singer confidently predicted his own team as eventual winners of the title this season. Such a statement is to be expected, of course, but only time will tell whether it is anything more than a statement of intent from Charsenal.
After a weekend of spectacular results, such as Stoke holding Manchester United 2-2 at the Britannia, Manchester City defeating Blackburn 4-0 at the Etihad, Wigan thrashing Sunderland 4-1 at the Stadium of Light, and Emanuel Adebayor scoring both a brace and two own goals in Spurs' 3-3 draw away to Wolves, Charsenal's season kicked into gear at Anfield. The starting eleven was Cech, Sagna, David Luiz, Terry, Cole, Song, Lampard, Ramires, Walcott, Mata, and van Persie in a 4-3-3 formation. Liverpool lined up in a 4-4-2 with Reina, Johnson, Carragher, Agger, Jose Enrique, Kuyt, Lucas, Adam, Downing, Carroll, and Suarez. After a nervy opening half in which neither team really made any inroads, Charsenal took the lead in the second minute of first-half stoppage time. Lampard won the ball in midfield, and found the wide-open Theo Walcott on the right wing with a pass. Theo crossed the ball into van Persie, who scored past Pepe Reina from three yards out. Luis Suarez equalised for Liverpool in the 53rd minute with an excellent strike from the edge of the box. Singer made his first change of the match when Mikel Arteta replaced Frank Lampard in the 59th minute. His final two substitutions, Fernando Torres for a tiring van Persie, and Aaron Ramsey for an unimpressive Ramires, came in the 66th minute. Though Charsenal had a series of narrow misses through Mata, Walcott, van Persie, and Torres, it was the Spanish striker who managed to win it for Charsenal on 84 minutes by stealing the ball on the halfway line, bringing it into the box, drawing out Reina, and crossing to Walcott for the easy tap-in. Though it was a nervy finish at 2-1, Charsenal managed to hang on to give Singer his first win at Charsenal. Apart from a strong spell from Liverpool at the start of the second half, Charsenal were in control of the match. With one assist and one goal, Theo Walcott was named Man of the Match in the win against Liverpool, which leaves them just fifth in the table, but importantly, level with one serious title rival, and already ahead of the others.
Slightly dampening the high spirits at Charsenal were reports of injuries to young players Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Emmanuel Frimpong. Chamberlain suffered a minor leg injury, and will be out for a few days. Frimpong, on the other hand, has torn his calf, and will miss between three and four months. Singer also received word that out-of-favour German defender Per Mertesacker rejected a loan move to Valencia, and the crushing news that star winger Juan Mata will miss at least five weeks with a torn groin muscle. Luckily, though, Charsenal's schedule is relatively light, and Mata should be back before the Charsenal season's next big tests, against Newcastle and Manchester United. In the press conference ahead of Charsenal's first home match of the season against Queens Park Rangers, Singer responded to comments by Manchester City and Liverpool managers Roberto Mancini and Kenny Dalglish, who expressed their opinions about the upcoming Charsenal - QPR match. Both predicted an easy win for Charsenal, and Singer agreed, maintaining that a win would show the quality of the Charsenal squad on the back of their narrow win against to Liverpool, and that quality would lift them to the Premier League title. Singer shocked journalists by declaring his dislike for Dalglish before suggesting that Liverpool could struggle in their match against Tottenham Hotspur. Singer also denied the speculation that Charsenal were in for Schalke's Peruvian forward Jefferson Farfan.
In their first home match of the season, and the first in their newly-opened Regent's Park Stadium, Charsenal took on QPR. Because of injuries, and it being a London derby, Charsenal put out a strong line-up in their familiar 4-3-3 formation, with Cech, Sagna, David Luiz, Terry, Cole, Mikel, Arteta, Lampard, Walcott, Gervinho and van Persie starting. QPR lined up in a 4-5-1 of Paddy Kenny, Luke Young, Fredrik Bjoerck, Matthew Connolly, Armand Traore, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Alejandro Faurlin, Joey Barton, Shaun Derry, Petter Vaagan Moen, and DJ Campbell. The game got off to a disastrous start for Charsenal on three minutes, as Petr Cech failed to deal with Joey Barton's corner, allowing it to fall to Campbell, who couldn't miss from three yards out. Charsenal nearly equalised fifteen minutes later as David Luiz headed van Persie's corner just over the crossbar. Fifteen minutes after that, Charsenal had their equaliser! After a spell of sustained pressure. Van Persie received the ball on the edge of the box and laid it off to Lampard, who rifled the ball past Paddy Kenny from thirty yards out. On the stroke of thirty-nine minutes, van Persie put his team ahead with a blistering free kick from the edge of the area. It was the last significant action of the half, and Charsenal went into the break with a 2-1 lead. Charsenal had the chance to go 3-1 ahead shortly after the break when Kenny dropped Walcott's cross, but Gervinho never really had the chance to get a clean shot, and only managed to hit it back to the keeper. Just after the hour mark, Robin van Persie took a knock in a challenge with Barton, and had to be replaced by Fernando Torres, though it's not expected to be a long-term injury. Later on, the Charsenal manager shifted his formation to a 4-2-3-1, swapping Ramires for the flagging Arteta, and Ramsey for John Obi Mikel, who was largely unneeded against a non-threatening QPR attack. On 82 minutes, an error from David Luiz nearly allowed Jay Bothroyd to level the scores again, but Petr Cech was up to the challenge, saving well. In the final five minutes, Charsenal had two great chances to seal the win, as Walcott set up both Torres and Gervinho with excellent crosses, though Kenny saved brilliantly from Torres to deny the home side, and Gervinho lashed wide from close range. Charsenal did manage to hold on for their second 2-1 win if the season, though. The Regent's Park side will definitely be hoping that man of the match Robin van Persie, who finished with a goal and an assist, won't miss any significant time with his injury. The result lifts the Londoners up to third in the table behind a surprising Wigan and Aston Villa, and three points ahead of their nearest rivals for the title this season.
In the week following the QPR match, Alexander Singer and Charsenal received some good news. Dutch striker Robin van Persie was declared fit, named in the Premier League team of the week, and that Belgian defender Thomas Vermaelen has resumed full training. Later in the week, however, they were drawn into a not-so-straightforward Group F in the UEFA Champions League featuring A.C. Milan, Zenit St. Petersburg, and Maccabi Haifa, but got a relatively-kind draw in the League Cup, a third round tie against Reading at Regent's Park Stadium.
For the match with Fulham, Singer made two changes from the team who beat QPR, with Vermaelen returning in the centre of defence in preference to John Terry, who had had two poor games to start the season, and Ramires in place of Lampard. Fulham started in a 4-4-2 of Schwarzer, Grygera, Hangeland, Hughes, Riise, Ruiz, Murphy, Baird, Dempsey, Dembele, and Zamora. The match started catastrophically for Charsenal, with Fulham scoring through Bobby Zamora in the fourth minute. Charsenal were level just three minutes later, though, as a Walcott cross from the right somehow snuck inside Schwarzer's near post. Charsenal should have been in front in the tenth minute when Gervinho played in van Persie with a pass over the top on the counter, but the Dutchman only struck the far post, and Fulham cleared the rebound. After a five-minute spell of frantic defending, Charsenal began to build in attack again, ultimately finding Ramires with space in the area, but the Brazilian's shot was well-saved by Schwarzer. Fulham dominated the rest of the half, with Charsenal only getting one good chance, Ramires finding van Persie in space, only for the Dutchman to fire his shot wide. Despite the pressure, Charsenal managed to make half-time with the scores still level. Singer's half-time talk didn't get the result he'd hoped for, with Danny Murphy scoring in an empty net after Petr Cech came out of his goal and got stranded, but just five minutes later, following a foul by Grygera, Charsenal were level again. Robin van Persie's free kick found David Luiz, whose shot rebounded off Schwarzer to the feet of Thomas Vermaelen. The Belgian duly put the ball in the empty net to equalise for Charsenal. It was to be Vermaelen's final action of the match, as he was substituted due to fatigue moments later, replaced by Laurent Koscielny. The ineffective Gervinho was replaced by Charsenal debutant Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain at the same time. Charsenal had a gilt-edged chance in the sixty-fifth minute, when Ramires shot hit the post and rebounded to Koscielny, who shot wide from five yards. Robin van Persie was substituted for Fernando Torres moments later, having wasted several good opportunities in the match. The change brought an immediate sense of urgency to Charsenal, with only a fine Mark Schwarzer save from Theo Walcott denying Charsenal the lead. In the seventy-second minute, Fulham's Aaron Hughes handled in the area, and referee Mike Jones wasted no time in pointing to the spot. Fernando Torres took the kick, and the Spaniard scored past a diving Schwarzer, who had guessed correctly. Just seconds later, a defensive error by Brede Hangeland allowed Walcott to seal the win for Charsenal with a good finish from fifteen yards. The goal killed off the match, and there were no further good chances for either side. Charsenal won 4-2 in a match in which they looked lost for the first forty-five minutes, but slowly clawed back control throughout the second half. Theo Walcott, with two goals, was clearly the Charsenal man of the match. The result brings Charsenal top of the Premier League, at least temporarily, having played a game more than their rivals.
Despite several assertions to the contrary, there have been reports that, after three tight games, Charsenal manager Alexander Singer feels he needs to shore up his squad before the end of the transfer window. So far, though, the only confirmed deals are the loan of out-of-favour German defender Per Mertesacker to Valencia for the rest of the season, and a pair of youngsters to lower-league clubs. There are unconfirmed reports that Charsenal are close to signing Willian from Shakhtar Donetsk, and of bids for a few other players whose identities are yet to be confirmed. No matter his transfer plans, Singer will take heart from the fact that his team is already three points clear of their title rivals, and that Theo Walcott played well enough to be voted into the team of the week.
As we suspected, Charsenal have made a splash in the transfer market! They've signed Croatian midfielder Ivan Rakitic on a four-year contract worth £65,000 per week in a deal worth £23,000,000. Reports suggest that the London club, who are a bit short on cash following the recent merger, will pay the fee in monthly instalments to Sevilla over the next four years, as the club feels their cash flow will have increased by then. They have also completed their deal for Willian, which, while unconfirmed, is believed to be in the neighbourhood of £8,000,000, with wages around £36,000 p/w. With less than 24 hours left in the transfer window, will Charsenal make any further signings? There are plenty of rumours, but there is very little actual information coming out of Regent's Park at the moment.
Despite earlier speculation that they were finished in the window, news is emerging from Charsenal that they have made another signing with just minutes left! The details haven't been released as yet, but we are told it's a big one! As reported with the Rakitic deal, Charsenal, due to their financial position, will probably be stretching the payments on the fee for their new player over a considerable period of time. We expect to learn more tomorrow, as Charsenal have scheduled a press conference for the morning, where it's hoped Singer will be unveiling his new signings.