A routine run-out.

July 18, 2010

Yesterday saw the long-awaited return of The Arsenal in the game against Barnet at Underhill. The team ran out comfortable 4-0 winners and were never really put under any pressure. The goals came from Arshavin, Simpson (2) and Nasri. The assists came from Rosicky, Wilshere (2) and the fourth goal coming from a defensive calamity by Barnet. There is no point in going into any kind of great detail on the game as for a better report on it you should check out Gunnerblog whose Gilberto Silver attended the game.

 

Our two new boys got some playing time under their belts and from first impressions it is clear that Koscielny was right when he said, upon signing, that he needed to build up his strength and power. He is a bit gangly looking and will need to build up his muscles if he is to be an effective centre-half in the premier league. That said, he is still very young for a centre half and has time on his side. Also, it was just the first game of pre-season, with new teammates, so it is much too early to make any kind of prediction on how he will fare over the course of the season.

 

Chamakh got a 2nd half run-out and by the looks of the way he plays, he could pick up a few yellows over the course of the season and may not be as prolific as we might hope. But, as long as he helps to create goals, as well as score some, then he will be a good addition to the squad.

 

I though Jay Emmanuel-Thomas had a good game and I was surprised at how big he looked. Though, maybe the midgets around him just made him look bigger than he actually is. I thought Traore was a bit suspect and I am glad that he will just be our third choice left back next season. Frimpong also impressed.

 

In his post match interview, Arsene confirmed that six of the eight players yet to return from their post-World Cup holiday will return on Monday, in time to join the team for the pre-season training in Austria. In a roundabout way he also referred to Koscielny not doing so well with aerial challenges early on but slowly adjusting and becoming a bit more competitive in them. It will take time for him to get used to the English game and bulk up, that’s for sure. He also commented on the fact that Chamakh is good at linking play and involving the players around him, which should suit our attacking midfielders and style of play. I wonder if it means he will spend more time outside the box than in it. Let’s hope that he can get the balance of linking play and finishing a move off right over the season.

 

Although Wenger said all the right things in terms of Cesc staying at the club and any idea of such a move being over, looking at the video it wasn’t the most convincing of statements. However, I may be reading too much into that, but it’s just the impression that I got from watching it. However, in an interview which appears in today’s Guardian, the boss is much more emphatic about the situation:

“There was a lot of unneeded talk. It is not pleasant to read that every day. Now, the story has to stop. Cesc is our captain, he is so important to us and we want to keep him, that is why we were not listening to any offers. It was not a problem of money, just the desire to keep him at the club.

We can only influence our own behaviour and I believe things have now gone straight again with Sandro Rosell. We always had a consistent attitude and were always reluctant to talk about Cesc’s departure. It is very important we give the impression that just because somebody wants a player from us, we do not just give in.

We have shown our love and care for Cesc since the start. I believe Cesc loves the club, has shown his attachment to the club many times and I am very confident the story will end there. We want Cesc to be part of our club next year, and that is it.”

The first sentence in the second paragraph of the above quote is very telling as to the club’s views of Laporta and his regime and is about as close as Wenger will ever come to calling Laporta a c*nt in public. Great stuff. It also has the added effect of forcing Rossell to act appropriately and respectfully if he wants to differentiate his regime from Laporta’s in order to seal a deal for Fabregas at some point in the future. The attachment that the boss feels for Cesc is also evident by his talking about the ‘love and care’ that the club has for, and has shown towards, our Catalan captain. It was also good to see that Wenger wants to show that Arsenal are a big club that can resist the overtures from one of the world’s so-called big two. We need to show the world that just because a club wants to buy one of our players, it does not mean that they will be able to prize one of our prize assets away from us.

 

It was interesting to see the link to Schwarzer being played down, with the excessive fee being asked as the main stumbling block to any such deal going through. That, for me, is good news as any fee in the region of, or above 3m is just way too much money for a 37yr old. I could only justify an outlay of that magnitude if it also included his signing on fee and salary for the duration of the contract. There is also a rumour that Wenger told a fan that he hasn’t decided on his no1 for the coming season. Does this mean that a search for a keeper is still underway? The grapevine indicates that it is, judging from word I received during the week.

 

There are reports that we have had a 14m bid for Jagielka rejected. That’s a lot of money to bid for a player that recently had a serious knee injury. The boss was also very quiet on any alleged deal for Joe Cole.

 

Talking about Gallas and Silvestre, the club expect them to sign with another club while Campbell is currently in footballing limbo. While none of the three have been definitively ruled out, one suspects that out of the three the only one that has a chance of being here when the Premier League kicks off in mid-August is Campbell.

 

Right, that’s enough for today. 1,000+ words is more than enough for anyone to digest on a Sunday. Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

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Two deals done. How many more to go?

July 8, 2010

Today marks the earlier than expected return to blogging following my World Cup hiatus.

 

So, yesterday finally saw us officially unveil one of our most widely expected, but least commented on in an official capacity, transfers of the summer, that of Laurent Koscielny. As usual there has been no confirmation of the actual fee paid, but it is believed to be somewhere in the region of £8.5m-£10m, which represents a good turnaround for Lorient as they just paid about £1.5m for him a year ago. Let’s hope that the deal turns out to be as good for Arsenal as it was profitable for Lorient.

 

Anyway, he will wear the no6 shirt and, considering those that have worn that jersey before him, there are some big boots to fill. At just 24 years of age, his best years as a central defender are most definitely ahead of him. Hopefully, he will be able to make the transition from Lique 1 to Premier League and become a mainstay of our central defence for the next eight or nine years. Unless, of course, Wenger goes out and signs someone like Chiellini whereby Koscielny would then become a mainstay of our bench for the next seven or eight years.

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The player himself seems delighted to have joined us, which I for one am taking as evidence that Silvestre won’t be at the club next year. It’d be hard to be so delighted if you knew you had to look at the Elephant Man in training every day. He also appears to have eyebrows that look like thick strips of Velcro, so one can only assume that these act as some kind of adhesive device to which the ball will stick once he gets his head on it. The player himself had this to say about his arrival:

“It wasn’t a difficult decision to make. It is exceptional to have a club like Arsenal wanting to sign you. I don’t believe any French player would have refused to come and play for Arsenal. It is a very big club that plays in the Champions League and it is always near the top of the Premier League. Arsenal is a reference for football and we all know the quality of their game.

The decision was quickly taken. I took the decision the day after hearing about their interest in me. I know the club have the means and the ambition to get that Premier League title and to go as far as possible in the Champions League.

 
It is nice for French players to come and join a team like Arsenal where there are so many other French players. It will help me to integrate easily in the team. I have great respect for Arsene Wenger. He uses lots of young players and he allows them to play.

 

Taking time out from his duties at the World Cup, Wenger had this to say:

“Koscielny is a central defender with great ability who performed extremely well last season for Lorient. We identified him as a very strong centre half, who has made big progress very quickly. He has shown he is mentally strong, he’s a fighter and a very strong competitor. Koscielny is a great addition to our squad.”

 

That leaves us with Vermaelen, Koscielny and Djourou as our recognised centre backs going into the pre-season training. Therefore, you would expect that it is an area that the club are still looking to strengthen. Just who they may have in mind to fill that fourth centre half berth well, your guess is as good as mine at this stage. I have a feeling that the other players we sign this summer will be Premier League based. I imagine that Campbell will only be resigned should we be unable to find a suitable player at an even more suitable price in the post-World Cup transfer market. One thing is certain, his skipping out on pre-season training in favour of going on honeymoon won’t do him any favours in securing a new contract with us.

 

One player that is unlikely to be coming is Joe Cole as I think that if we were really in for him, we would have sealed the deal already. Maybe Arsene declaring his interest in Cole was an attempt to get buffoons like Redknapp to follow suit and waste some of their own transfer budgets on his huge salary and signing-on fee, not to mention huge hat’s for Cole’s Silvestre-shaped head.

 

Last week saw the club unveil the new home shirt for next season and it really is a nice jersey. This is the first season for a while where I have really liked both the home and away shirts and am considering buying one of each, though I am not sure if I will be getting Cesc’s name on the back this time around because, regardless of whether he stays this summer, it is clearer than ever that he is seriously considering his long-term future. Maybe the news of financial strife at his boyhood club will help him decide to stay with us for another year or two. I certainly hope he will stay for a few seasons more. Realistically though, if he does stay this summer, I think we will just have him until the next European Championships when he will again be relentlessly tapped up by all and sundry in the Spain squad, prompting his return to Barcelona. Maybe this is the ideal time to get Van Persie on my jersey.

 

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One thing that crossed my mind over the past few days was how, with the new UEFA financial rules soon coming into play, can Man Shitty pay the likes of Yaya Toure a reported £200,000 per week? Crazy money for anyone, let alone a defensive midfielder. It will be interesting to see what their wages to turnover ratio is next year.

 

Reports today are linking us with Shaun The Sheep Wright-Philips, but I am hoping that they are as wide of the mark as a John Jensen shot. We really need to sign players of a higher caliber than him.

 

Right, that’ll just about do for today. I’m off to enjoy what is left of the afternoon sunshine. I’ll be back on Sunday with a look at the papers and other assorted thoughts.