A look at the weekend’s papers.

May 30, 2010

Good morning to you all. Hope you have had a nice weekend so far.

 

Friday saw the official unveiling of Fran Merida as an Atletico Madrid player and he was full of kind and respectful words for Wenger and the club, and rightly so. Like Cesc, we took him from Barcelona and gave him a real footballing education. It is nice to see that even though he is just 20yrs old, he still has enough intelligence and good grace to leave the club with his head held high which, again, is the complete opposite of players such as Cole and Adebayor.

 

The Evening Standard is persisting with linking us with Brede Hangeland, but John Cross of The Mirror is fairly insistent that there is absolutely nothing in this link. Time will tell, I suppose. To be honest, I would prefer to see someone like Chiellini sign for us rather than Hangeland. However, I would definitely prefer Hangeland over Newcastle’s Taylor. The latter being a player I have always loathed, so I am praying that we don’t sign him.

 

7am kick-off has an interesting take on the detestable ‘transfer linked’ section on the official website. I really do hope that the club sees some sense and takes it down soon. Though if, as 7am kick-off hypothesizes, their idea is to put it there just to throw lazy journalists off the scent of our true targets it would be a surprising move by the club. I don’t feel that having transfer speculation and gossip on the club’s official site is a good idea. The official site should be bigger and better than that.

 

Elsewhere, Paul Merson has had a bit of a pop at Walcott and his lack of any real improvement. He does have a point, to an extent, but I don’t think that he should be too hard on Walcott as he has spent much of the past two seasons out with injury and therefore hasn’t had a good period of fitness in which to get a proper run of games and training together in order to make the desired improvement. Given a full season of injury-free football, the Holy Grail for any Arsenal player, I am sure that he will improve and develop into the player that we hoped he would be when we first signed him. It’s too early to write him off just yet. Hopefully the help and tuition from Beckham at the World Cup will result in an improvement in Theo’s delivery of the final ball.

 

There is no further word on the potential signing of Joe Cole as mentioned by Arseblog the other day, but it is a possibility especially as he is going on a free. To get two free players in one summer would sort out the attacking element of our team nicely and still leave Wenger with a sizeable kitty to reinforce the defensive side of things. So, we’ll just have to wait and see. Though if Man Shitty step in with a contract offer, we won’t be able to come close to matching it.

 

Reading this article about the debt at ManUre just serves to highlight and reinforce how lucky we are that the board of our club act as custodians and run things in a self-sustaining manner. It also places more importance on the final destination of the shares of Lady Nina. We need those shares to go to someone that feels a responsibility towards the club and its fans, not to someone that will try and leverage any buyout against the club in order to sell that stake on at a profit at a later point and walk away leaving the club in a debt-ridden state like ManUre or Liverpool.

 

Reuters reported yesterday that Diaby is keen to step out of Vieira’s long shadow, by which I hope they are talking in terms of the metaphorical big boots that Diaby has to fill, and not the long shadow that Vieira was famous for while at the club.

 

Mark Schwarzer gave a less than convincing denial of the current rumours linking him to Arsenal. It was a typical move by a footballer to stay on the good side of his own fans but also leaving the door ajar for a possible move, should a formal offer be made. While not being an earth shattering signing, he would certainly be an improvement over what we have, for a year or so anyway.

 

Barcelona have said that they won’t break the bank to sign Cesc. Fair enough, then you should just abandon your plans now and sod off, as you won’t be getting him on the cheap. When you see how much money they blew last summer on the likes of Ibrahimovic and Chygrynskiy, then they can’t start acting all ‘we won’t pay above market value’ now. Besides, they aren’t being asked to pay above market value, they are simply required to pay what Cesc is actually worth. If they won’t, or can’t, do that then they should shut their mouths and sling their hooks.

 

The News of the World is linking us with a young Crewe player called Nick Powell. I don’t know much about him, to be honest, but what with Arsene’s love of signing young players and the new 25 player squad limit and 8 homegrown player quota requirement, I wouldn’t be surprised to see this young player sign for us. Yet another player for the future. It’s what we do. I really hope that we go out and sign some proper players before signing any more kids, though.

 

If you are having serious Arsenal withdrawal symptoms, then I suggest that you download and listen to the podcasts of Arseblog and It’s Up For Grabs Now. Both are very, very good and funny to boot. So, either click on the above two links or go to iTunes and subscribe to them there, though there probably won’t be any new episodes until pre-season gets underway. But, the episodes from the season just gone are well worth a listen.

 

For those with more general football, and premier league, withdrawal symptoms, two more that are well worth a listen are the Guardian’s Football Weekly and Chappers’ Premier League podcasts, both of those are funny and informative. You could also check out the BBC’s Five Live Football Daily podcast, too. Though beware, the latter often has the half-witted opinions of David Pleat, approach with caution, but on the upside it often has Perry Groves on, too.

 

One final thing, check out the comment at the bottom of this earlier post. It has some interesting information about that Uzbek that we all love to hate.

 

That’s that for today, enjoy the rest of your weekend. I’ll leave you with a classic Highbury moment in front of The North Bank. It’s very nice to have a non-Cesc dominated post, hopefully no news is good news on that front.

 

***UPDATE: Arseblog has linked to a picture of the back page of today’s Star newspaper which states that Joe Cole will sign for us on a free. Interesting, if true. It would be a very typical Wenger signing, in that while we all think that he should sign a defender and keeper, he goes out and bolsters the attacking side of our team… If it is true, I guess it means that our next signing after that MUST be on the defensive side of things.

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Taxi for Hill-Wood.

May 28, 2010

A very short post today.

 

Reports are emerging that Cesc made his decision to leave after the comments Peter Hill-Wood made regarding his belief that Cesc may not actually be good enough to get into the Barcelona team were he to join them. Not that he was saying Cesc is a bad player, but there would be a lot more competition for places at Barcelona than he currently has at Arsenal. At the time, The Mirror reported that this had angered Cesc and there are now claims that he has told close friends that this was the tipping point in him making his decision to leave. This was confirmed to me as being more than just speculation by a journalist from the Express.

 

It will mean an awful lot of flak will soon be coming Peter Hill-Wood’s way and I would like to see him put to pasture if his comments contribute to our best player leaving the club. Better that Peter Hill-Wood move on than Cesc move on. P.H.W. needs to learn to keep his views to himself.

 

I think that Hill-Wood meant well when he made those comments. I believe that he was just trying to reassure the Arsenal fans that we would be keeping our best player this summer. However, he really did put his foot in his mouth by making that statement. Hopefully it won’t result in the exit of Cesc. To be honest, I would be really disappointed if this is the reason that Cesc uses for wanting to leave the club because nobody attaches a huge amount of weight to Hill-Wood’s recent year comments.

 

Arseblogger has a good take on what may be happening with regards to the reasons behind today’s Cesc-related story and possible behind the scenes machinations.

 

There is nothing else to report on the transfer front.

 

The only other piece of Arsenal-related news is that Walcott sees Beckham as his ideal role model. Hopefully he will use this inspiration to work on improving his final ball.

 

There, I told you that it would be a short post. Perhaps it’s the shortest one that I have ever written.

 

Have a good Friday. Unless something major happens in the next 24hrs, I will make my next post on Sunday.


Taking it up the Barce…

May 27, 2010

Yesterday saw things get a little more interesting, just a little, mind, on the Tantric Cesc saga. Cesc himself said in an interview that he is more loved at Arsenal than anywhere else and that is probably true, too. If he moves back to Barcelona he won’t find that same love from the fans. He will just be another cog in the tapping up machine that is Barselona. There is a link to a video of said interview in yesterday’s blog. It’s not the best quality in the world, but is adequate.

 

Watching his interview, it was refreshing to see the respect he has and openly showed for the club in comparison to, say, Adebayor. Night and day. It’s a measure of both his love for the club and also a measure of the man. Whatever the outcome may be, Cesc wants it to be as clean and painless as possible. We will never know exactly what was said in that conversation between Arsene and Cesc at Colney a week or so ago, but our captain is doing everything in the right way, even if his bastardo suitors are not.

 

Later in the day, word came through that Barcelona had made an enquiry but had been, rightly, told to go f*ck themselves. I think the whole world knows that they are interested in him so, if you are that bloody interested then make a proper f*cking bid and quit fannying around. Cunt-faced bastardos. Apologies for the swearing, but that’s the beauty or writing for your own blog and not a newspaper.

 

The player himself said that his future is in Arsene’s hands. Thank f*ck it isn’t in Fabianski’s. So, you can read into it what you will. Either it is in Arsene’s hands because ‘Arsene knows,’ or it is in his hands because Cesc has said he wants to go and Arsene is left to do the deal between the clubs. I prefer to think it is the former. It could also mean that Cesc has said that he will stay on the condition that Arsene gets the finger out and uses that newly freed hand to also get the cheque-book out and sign some proper players in order to make us competitive again.

 

Away from the Tantric Cesc saga there isn’t really a lot going on. Things are beginning to ratchet up in terms of World Cup coverage, leaving the transfer mill a bit bereft of interesting Arsenal-related stories. There must be something wrong on Fleet Street as it has been at least 48hrs since I have seen us linked with the likes of Frey, Melo, Tourezzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

 

The Daily Shite Mail links us with some centre-half called Laurent Koscielny. The bad news is that he has Polish roots, hopefully from a different bloodline than Luckarse. But, I have never heard of him before so that means there is probably an 80% chance that we will sign him.

 

Sagna has taken a leaf out of Barselona’s book by saying that Pape Malickou Diakhate, the Dinamo Kiev centre-half we have previously been linked with, would be a great signing for us. He says he is very dangerous at set-pieces, I’m hoping he means in terms of taking both ball and man while making a clearance.

 

That’s about all there is for today. A shorter post than yesterday, but I’m sure you’ll be relieved about that.

 

Talk to you tomorrow. I’m going to sit and bask for a moment in the glory that is Arsenal telling Barcelona to go fuck themselves. Enjoying it while it lasts. Maybe today’s title should have been ‘giving’ instead of ‘taking,’ but I think you got the point.


Barselona.

May 26, 2010

You what Barcelona are? A bunch of f*cking c*cks. Not content with getting Cesc to push for a move, they are more than happy to just sit back and not even bother their arse tabling an offer for the player that they profess to want so much. If I was Cesc I would be more than just a bit miffed to be treated so shabbily by his suitors that also happen to be his boyhood club. They are quite happy to sit back and watch his reputation get damaged with the Arsenal fans. I love Cesc and I really, really want him to stay at the club, but Barcelona are doing their damnedest to make sure that this will be a long, protracted, epic and dirty transfer saga. It seems like it’ll be a tantric divorce. How did we go from Tantric Cesc to a Tantric Divorce so quickly? Sting, take note, this is likely to push the boundaries of stamina.

 

As Gooners, we all accept that Cesc will leave us someday. That’s just a fact of life. He came to us as a 16yr old, we turned him into a man, we nurtured and honed him as a footballer. But, we always accepted that he would, one-day, go back to Barcelona.

 

I’ve been a proper Arsenal fan since I was around 13 or 14yrs old. I was recruited by my brother to redress the balance in our household to two Arsenal fans and two ManUre fans, my father having defected from Arsenal to ManUre about 15yrs beforehand. In my time as a fan, I have gotten just three player’s names on the back of my jerseys. The first was Pires, the second Bergkamp and the third was Cesc. I only get the players I really love on my shirt. I came close to getting Adams on my 1995 home shirt, but for one reason or another, that didn’t happen. I still wish I had done. Anyway, the point is that I love Cesc and I want him to stay and lead this team to silverware.

 

However, I am now having to finally make peace with the fact that we are about to lose our best player, the player that I love most in this current squad. Maybe it’s because he has been here since he was 16, maybe it’s because he is one of the greatest players in the world, maybe it’s a bit of both, but it is going to rip a hole in the heart of the side and also the hearts of the fans when he inevitably departs us, which unfortunately looks like being this summer. The fact that Cesc’s father has said that his son wants top leave seems to be one of the final nails being hammered home in the coffin of our beloved Catalan’s Arsenal career. The full transcript of his father’s radio interview can be seen here. Surely that interview could be used as evidence that tapping up has taken place? How do Barcelona think they can get away with telling him to ignore the clubs that can afford to pay more for him as that’d drive up the price?

 

If he does leave, our final memory of him will be finishing the game against Barcelona with a broken leg. That’s an astonishing feat, and memory, and shows how much he was willing to give for the team. Perhaps a part of him doesn’t want to bow out as Arsenal captain without having lifted a trophy? We can but hope.

 

The way that Barcelona are prepared to drag this whole saga out is really making me angry. They are more than willing to risk damaging Cesc’s relationship with the Arsenal faithful in order to back Arsenal into a corner in a bid to get their man at a lower price. Well, this really is the time for Arsenal to make a stand. Not just a stand for the good of the club, but also for the good of the game. Big clubs like Barcelona and Real Madrid cannot be allowed to bully other teams around.

 

I’ve read reports in papers saying that Arsenal should let him go because we got him from Barcelona when he was 16yrs old and that, therefore, we should accept a smaller fee because we are now selling him back to that same club. The point that those reports fail to properly address is the fact that we paid the guts of £2m for him in compensation, so it isn’t exactly like we got him on the cheap as a 16yr old. The fact that he has matured and developed into the player he is now is irrelevant, the original deal to bring him to Arsenal shouldn’t be linked to this potential deal. Arsenal should receive the full market value for a player of his quality.

 

There is a paraphrased quote from Pires at the bottom of this article in Sport which, I think, says that it’ll be both complicated and difficult to convince Wenger to let Cesc go. I say ‘I think’ because I don’t speak Spanish so that is just my best guess. Super Rob is also quoted in the Daily Shite Mail as saying that he thinks Cesc will stay with us. Let’s hope he is right.

 

Elsewhere, the Mirror makes another very tenuous link between Mertesacker and Arsenal by using a quote in which he says he may be interested by a foreign club that has been playing in the Champions League for a number of years. That could be any decent club outside of Germany, so it is by no means a direct reference to Arsenal. But, the Arsenal link makes for better speculation than, say, Lyon. It’s a bit like me saying ‘I like beer, particularly beer that is regularly sold in bars’ and then someone saying that I have got a job in a brewery, or something. Maybe. But, you get what I am trying to say.

 

The Mirror also links us with another Spanish kid but, to be honest, I don’t want to see links to teenage footballers this summer. I want to see us sign proper men with experience and quality.

 

Some good news, Carlos Vela might be seeking pastures new after the World Cup. Hope he isn’t counting on teams signing him based on his actual  performances on the pitch, or we’ll be lumbered with him. I also have a feeling that his departure won’t be up to him, I reckon he could get the old ‘Spanish archer’ from Wenger.

 

Unsurprising news, but Fran Merida has officially been signed by Atletico Madrid on a 4yr contract and looks set to  be unveiled by them this coming Friday. Good luck, Fran. Hope it all works out for you. When you signed for us, your YouTube compilation video clips were very impressive.

 

UEFA’s new financial fair play rules are set to be introduced tomorrow and will take effect from the 2012-2013 season onwards, though they will be gradually introduced. Basically, clubs will have to live within their means with regard to wages and transfer spending. Spending on infrastructure can still be subsidized by by the owner in the form of equity investment, not a loan. I wish that they were coming into effect from next season as that would put Arsenal in a very strong position. However, we will soon see the likes of Chelsea and City looking to severely cut their costs in order to meet the new financial regulations, which is good news for Arsenal.

 

It’s a long post today thanks in no small measure to Kirin beer, as I wrote the first 700-800 words while drinking last night. Hope you have made it through and are still awake. If so, well done!

 

There is a comprehensive month-by-month season review over at Gunnerblog. It’s good, so check it out.

***UPDATE: The latest on the Cesc situation is that it is, apparently, all down to what Arsene wants to do and what he decides is best for both the club and Cesc. I guess we will just have to wait and see. The video of that interview is here.

Venting done. Take it easy.


Not a lot going on.

May 25, 2010

Greetings from a warm and sunny Yokohama. The post season is a bit quiet this week with just some tenuous transfer links that lack any real meat so far and the still ongoing Tantric Cesc saga. The Cesc thing is going on so long that it will soon make Sting jealous. I’m hoping that it will get resolved one way or the other sooner rather than later. One thing is for sure, regardless of whether it drags on until after the World Cup, it shouldn’t affect our signing of a replacement because now that Wenger knows that Cesc wants to leave, he should be finalizing his list of exactly who could replace him. That list should be drawn up immediately, just in case the worst happens. If Cesc leaves after the World Cup ends then we should be ready to move immediately for the identified replacement, or sign the replacement just before finalizing the transfer of Cesc. But, I won’t accept excuses of having to search for a replacement after Cesc has left. That groundwork should be finalized long before that time comes, if it comes. A Cultured Left Foot has some quotes from Hleb wherein he says that Cesc should stay where he is, no doubt because Hleb himself has found out first-hand that the grass is not always greener.

 

Crazy figures being reported regarding the transfer fee, ranging between £30m and £80m. I think that the actual fee, should it be agreed will probably lie somewhere between £40m-£50m, though I would like it to be on the high side of £50m.

 

Chiellini is making noises about moving on, though it could just be that he is trying to renegotiate a more lucrative contract. That said, he would be a good, strong, centre-half to put alongside Vermaelen. He is a player that I would like to see us sign and one that we have been linked with before, though how much substance there were to those links is debatable. He is also at the ‘right age’ that Wenger alluded to when talking about the signing of Chamakh.

 

The Swiss Rambler had a really detailed and very interesting post about the finances of Arsenal and Barcelona and details the debt at the latter. It’s a good read.

 

As expected, the ‘Nigerian business man to buy Lady Nina’s shares’ story has been dealt a blow by him stating that he had been interested in investing before but now has no plans to do so.

 

Elsewhere, we are being linked with Bolton’s Cahill, again. So, we’ll just have to wait and see what Arsene decides to do.

 

Right, that’s about all for today. Take it easy.


Black Monday.

May 24, 2010

There is absolutely nothing going on today. It’s all very quiet, I have to say.

 

Gallas avoided further injury when he overturned a buggy during some kind of French squad bonding exercise. You do have to question the logic in having your team participate in a buggy race this close to a major tournament, but that is the wisdom of that mentalist Domenech for you.

image 

Yesterday we were linked with a Nigerian suitor who, allegedly, is considering making an offer for Lady Nina’s shares. You’d have to wonder what the logic would be to buy those shares as that would still leave him around 14% short of Kroenke Tonk Stan’s current holding of 29.9% I guess all of those emails that have been coming out of Nigeria for the last few years have been so that he can make a move for Arsenal. I think that we can put this particular story and character to one side for the time being as I would be confident that it is a bit of a non-runner. It just doesn’t make sense, to me anyway, unless he has done a deal to go into partnership with our shady Uzbeki.

 

The Times says that there are eight potential suitors interested in buying Lady Nina’s shares, however I am taking that with a grain of salt as in the same article they also state that shares are changing hands for £10 apiece, but that Lady Nina wants £13. Given that both Kroenke and Usmanov have paid between £8,500-£10,500 per share, we can safely assume that the quoted figure is either a typo or extremely poor research. The article does point out, however, that her attempts to sell the shares may be prompted by a possible change to capital gains tax in the forthcoming emergency budget on June 22nd.

 

Elsewhere, there are some transfer links reappearing about Melo and Schwarzer. The is also a link to Mertesacker. Whether there is any substance to these links or not remains to be seen. Schwarzer would be good for a year or two, giving Szczesny some more time to mature by getting first team experience out on loan, that’s assuming he actually makes the grade to be our no1 in the future.

 

That’s about that for today. There’s nowt going on. The fact that I had to mention the Gallas buggy accident story shows you how slow the news is today.


All’s quiet on the Eastern front.

May 23, 2010

I was going to start off by saying that there was some lazy journalism going on today, but taking a look at the Mail, it is more a case of unintelligent journalism than lazy journalism. Today, they again say that Barcelona will launch a £30m bid for Cesc. Well, if they seriously think that Arsenal will sell their best player, who is on a long-term, protected contract for that fee, then they really are a bunch of fools. Regardless of whether Cesc wants to leave or not, it would be madness to sell for such a paltry fee, especially when you see Aston Villa turning down £20m for square-headed Milner.

 

Newcastle are targeting Jack Wilshere for a season long loan for next season. Whether it is Newcastle or Bolton that he moves to for the season, the most important thing is that he plays plenty of games and gets some more vital experience under his belt. If he went to Newcastle, he would get some good experience of regularly playing in front of a large crowd that places high expectations on their team.

 

One other player heading for the exit door, albeit on a permanent basis, is Fran Merida. I wonder is he regretting that decision a little given that Cesc is vying for a move away. Anyway, it’s a shame that he has decided to go and all we can do is wish him well for the future. He is 20yrs old and you can’t blame him for wanting to play regularly.

 

It was good to hear Wenger say yesterday that one of the reasons he signed Chamakh is that he ‘is the right age.’ Fingers crossed that the other players we sign this summer will be of a similar age, too. Cross every appendage that you can that those signings will be a keeper and a central defender.

 

Having Van Persie up front with one of Bendtner or Chamakh will leave us with a strong aerial presence whichever combination of the three we play with. That is a good thing, as long as we actually manage to get our crosses past the first man and into the box. It will also give the defending team something else to think about against us as the ball may not necessarily be played in to feet, as has been the tendency in the past. Some crossing training will be required in the summer, methinks. Having someone that is both big and strong up front will also help with holding up the ball to allow support from midfield to get forward. One thing I liked about Chamakh’s ATVO interview was that he said that he sees himself as being the team’s first line of defense as well as being a striker. Hopefully he will work hard for the team both offensively and defensively. That would be a nice change from the likes of Adebarndoor.

 

With the attacking side of the team sorted for the summer in terms of additions, we can now look forward to seeing what defensive adjustments and additions are made.

 

The Sunday newspaper websites don’t have a whole lot of transfer news regarding Arsenal. It’s nice to not be linked with Frey etc for at least ONE Sunday. There is an editorial in the Online Gooner that says that Wenger missed a UEFA lunch in Madrid yesterday as he was busy dealing with transfer business. The article speculates that it is probably the Tantric Cesc saga, but I prefer to think that it is more related to a new signing instead. Recently, Wenger said that things should be mostly wrapped up by the time training kicks off in July and, what with the World Cup taking up most of the next four or five weeks, it may be that he is trying to get another one or two in before the World Cup gets underway. Better to be optimistic than pessimistic.

 

That’s about that for today, it’s just gone midday here in Yokohama so there is a chance that more stories may appear over the coming hours as day breaks back in Europe. Enjoy what’s left of your weekend.