Arsenal prepare final swoop for ‘The Owl’

The signs indicate that this week Arsenal will renew their attempts to sign the man once voted ‘Most Owlish Player in the Russian Premier League (2005/06)’: Andrei Arshavin.

Owl?

Let’s start by clarifying the facts – I had a Spanish teacher who once came out with the entirely nonsensical but somewhat endearing phrase, “What you know, is what you know”.  This is the same man who once translated a bit of Spanish as follows:

“And what you’re literally saying there, is to ‘deep breathly’.”

Anyway: what we know is what we know.  And this is what we know Zenit & Co have said:

And this what we know Arsenal have said:

  • Nothing, really.

Ah.

So what do I think will happen this week?  Well, there isn’t much evidence to go on, and what evidence we have is somewhat contradictory.  For example, the fact that Zenit have invited us to Russia is no guarantee that we’ll be able/willing to meet them there.  It’s equally possible that Advocaat is simply not aware of negotiations at board-room level, and that a meeting is scheduled.

I don’t think this is a transfer that will go to the last minute.  There are too many uncertainties about it.  For one thing, it’s not like Arshavin can pop up the road for a medical an hour before the deadline – he’d have to come over from Russia.  Throw in the fact we’d have to sort him a work permit, and it looks like this week could be make or break for the deal.

In which case, perhaps Ken Friar and Ivan Gazidis will be dispatched to see if they can broker an agreement.  Our opening offer was reportedly £10m with £3m in add-ons.  You’d have to think that anything hitting the £15m mark, allied to Arshavin’s own desire to leave, would be enough to force Zenit to relinquish their grasp on Russia’s most talented footballer/owl.

Arsene has pursued this player since the Summer, when he followed up a brilliant UEFA Cup campaign with some stunning performances in Euro 2008.  At that stage it seemed Arshavin was well out of our price range, especially with competition from Barcelona and Tottenham, but with those vultures having sated their appetities elsewhere, and our need for creativity greater than ever, his arrival would now make plenty of sense.  When faced with the choice of Arshavin or Eboue for the right wing, there can only be one reasonable answer.

I have a feeling this isn’t the last time I’ll be talking about this story this week.  It could be painful – I’ve invested in it now, and thrown all my eggs into this awkward Russian basket.  That never tends to turn out well – I’m sure we all remember Baptista, and even Xavi Alonso just a few months ago.

Don’t let me down this time, Arsene.  Send your boys out eastwards and bring me The Birdman of Petersburg.

Van Persie’s hassistrick sees Arsenal keep pace

Nasri fires in the vital second goal

Hull City 1 – 3 Arsenal (Adebayor 30, Cousin 65, Nasri 83, Bendtner 86)
Highlights here; Arsene’s reaction
here

There ought to be a word for a hatrick of assists.  Seeing as there isn’t, I think I’d better take it upon myself to introduce one.  Ladies and gentlemen, I give you ‘The Hassistrick’.

They were three moments of real class from Van Persie: a whipped corner for Emmanuel Adebayor to head home, a turn and through-ball for Samir Nasri to put us back in front, and a one-two with sub Nicklas Bendtner to set the seal on a fine result for Arsenal.

After Villa, United, and Chelsea all picked up victories in hugely improbable circumstances, we had to win to prevent ourselves from falling six points behind the top four.  I feel we responded to the challenge with one of our best performances in some time, inspired by the front pairing of Adebayor and the aforementioned Van Persie.

It was those two who combined for our opening goal. Shortly after the Dutchman’s thunderous free-kick had been tipped onto the bar, he swung in a corner which Adebayor rose impressively to nod back across goal and into the net.  The towering climb was part of an all-round performance from the Togolese striker that was as good as any display he’s offered this season – Arsene’s comments about him needing to step-up seem to have had an immediate impact, which can only go down as good man-management.

Later in the half a good move ended with Eboue (who was up to his old, rather distressing tricks – the principle trick being managing to go an entire game without completing a pass) firing wide.  However, we were not able to assert our dominance by adding to our one-goal lead.

The second half was a very different affair – Hull were sparked into life by a goal for which Gael Clichy has been heavily criticised.  He’d been given a torrid afternoon by the pacey Bernand Mendy, and as a cross-field pass was launched towards the right-winger, Gael was so worried about Mendy going outside him that he backed right off the former Bolton man.  However, this allowed a cross to be swung in, which deflected off Clichy onto the head of Daniel Cousin, who finished expertly, just as at the Emirates a few months ago.  An error from Clichy, and not his first of the season, but I still hope there’s no truth at all in this story.

Hull’s team and crowd were revived, and they could even have had a penalty after a clumsy aerial challenge by Johan Djourou on Manucho.  However, we managed to find an extra gear.  Eboue was replaced by Bendtner, and our attacking threat was instantly more potent.  First Van Persie swivelled on the edge of the box and slipped in Nasri, who finished brilliantly on his weaker foot; then the front three combined to put the icing on the cake, with Bendtner netting his second goal in consecutive games.  One would imagine the Dane will get a well-earned start in the FA Cup at Cardiff.

I think the scoreline was a fair reflection of our supremacy.  Hull aren’t the side they were at the start of the season – but then, anyone who realistically thought their early form would last has about as much logic in their head as Harry Redknapp does in his transfer policy.  We, meanwhile, are putting a little run together that shows signs of promise in the battle for fourth place – it’s worth Aston Villa will be without Ashley Young for the next three games after he was sent off at Sunderland in a game they were a little fortunate to win.

That is the battle we’re in – not the title race.  The difference between us and a side like United is clear: they’ve managed to keep ten consecutive clean sheets, whilst we are always liable to concede a silly goal like yesterday’s.  Their success is built on the back of their defence – our achievements would have to be in spite of ours.

Tomorrow the transfer madness resumes.  Be here or be happy.  I know which you’ll choose.

This oughtn’t be about revenge

Arsene Wenger is insistent that today’s game against Hull is not about revenge (for this, if trauma has blocked it out):

“On Saturday we just want to continue our progress, it is not about revenge at all. We feel we are on a good run so we want to be quiet and focus.”

Abou Diaby might not neccessarily agree, as arseblogger points out, but unsurprisingly I believe that Diaby is wrong and Wenger is right.  Wanting “revenge” on Hull City would make us seem somewhat pathetic, like a lion declaring a vengeful war on the mouse that bit it.  Today, as Arsene says, is about continuing our progress and, in doing so, asserting our dominance. 

One would imagine it’ll be the same team that faced Bolton, with Kolo Toure skippering the side alongside Johan Djourou, and Diaby and Denilson playing in the centre.  Robin van Persie will start with Emmanuel Adebayor, who Arsene is hoping can recapture the form of last season.

I know I said I wouldn’t be talking about Andr*i Arsh*vin until Monday, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be interested to read this.

I’m confident today.  Hull seem to be playing without the freedom and fortune their start granted them, whilst our own decline seems to have halted.  Three points might not be ‘revenge’, but it’d still do very nicely indeed.

I will not be mentioning any potential signings until MONDAY MORNING

As I type, reports are suggesting that Kaka has signed for Manchester City. Everyone, it seems, has their price.

There isn’t a vast amount of Arsenal news around today – Arsene insists he has transfer targets other than Arshavin, but he might well just be trying to put one over Zenit.  They’ll be more likely to sell if they believe he has deposited some of his eggs in other baskets.  Howevr, Arsene did confirm that Brede Hangeland and Jimmy Bullard of Fulham are not on the radar.

I need a break from the transfer window – it’s doing my head in.  Tomorow and Sunday’s blogs will be all about this weekend’s tricky looking game at Hull.  They’re not in the best of form, and we certainly owe them for what happend at the Emirates Stadium earlier this season.

That’s all for now.  Don’t forget, you can catch more regular updates over on Twitter (I don’t get paid for plugging that.  I just really really like twitter).

Happy Friday to you all.

Alex Song could be like a new signing

Hello all.  I’ve had a truly miserable day.  I won’t go into it, but suffice to say if the tone of this blog is a little down-beat, then you can blame the world for its barely-disguised conspiracy against my being.

Arsene Wenger has revealed that Andrei Arshavin’s protracted move from Zenit St Petersburg is not imminent, saying:

“We know what we want to do, but we are not close to signing today because I would tell you. But there is no basic news. There again, we are in negotations yes but we want to respect our principles.”

It is unclear if he means our principle of not making public any impending signings, or our principle of not really buying anyone at all, ever.  Still, he does describe himself as “very hopeful” of a deal.  Interestingly, the BBC have downgraded that to just “hopeful” in their headline.  Such curmudgeons, the beeb.  Arshavin’s highly infuriating agent claims there could be some movement “early next week”, which leads me to believe that’s when our next official bid will be tabled (and inevitably rejected, when Zenit receive a fax offering them £10 of Woolworth’s vouchers and a tangerine).

Arsene claims the injured quartet of Fabregas, Walcott, Rosicky and Eduardo are like new signings.  I don’t know about you, but I happen to think some new signings would be a lot more like new signings.  We can but dream.

It’s quite lucky we’ve managed to put this run of seven league game’s unbeaten together, otherwise people would really be panicking.  But many of those results have hardly been convincing – we’ve scraped 1-0 wins at home to Wigan, Portsmouth and Bolton, and showed our defensive frailties in the game at Aston Villa.  Our problems may seem to have evaporated, but even my small knowledge of the hydrologic cycle tells me that stuff that’s evaporated eventually condenses and comes pouring down as horrible, horrible rain.

Still, at least Alex Song could be fit for the game at Hull.  He’ll be like a new signing, I suppose.