Archive for July, 2006

We probably don’t need a left-side.

97 comments July 31st, 2006

A few years ago, we barely had a right-hand-side: all our play went down the left. The way things are going, we won’t have a left-hand-side to speak of next season.

With Robert Pires already departed, The Sun reckons Ashley Cole is on the verge of a £25m move to Chelsea, and whilst I’m not sure about just how close that is, I do know that when a club starts releasing statements from their players about how “great” it would be to sign a player, something tends to be in the offing.

Speaking of statements from players, Jose Reyes yesterday spoke out about the interest from Real Madrid:

“I don’t know where these words have come from but what I would like to say is that I am very happy at Arsenal. I am excited about the new stadium and helping Arsenal challenge for honours.”

I wouldn’t take this quote at face value, though. We all know that Reyes wants away: the radio hoax of last year perfectly demonstrated his unhappiness in England. And it is this same incident that has provoked Reyes to release the above statement: he is hedging his bets. If he ends up staying at Arsenal, he doesn’t want to be castigated like, say, Ashley Cole.

And speaking of Cole, it’s not impossible that he’ll end up at Madrid too. Roberto Carlos has reportedly agreed a deal with Fenerbahçe, and Arsenal may decide to lose out on Chelsea’s cash in favour of shipping Cole abroad.

But with £25m on the table, get used to seeing Cole in blue. And maybe Reyes in white.

Reyes wants to leave (again).

46 comments July 30th, 2006

Don’t pretend you’re surprised. The famously wantaway Spaniard has practically pleaded with Real Madrid to end his hellish existence as an extremely well played star at one of Europe’s top clubs on several occasions, normally on national radio. Today his comments emerge in a newspaper, though I’m not sure yet exactly which it is. I’m guessing The News of the World.

Jose says:

“I’ve always said I want to return to Spain. It’s nothing against Arsenal. It’s a great club that has helped me a lot and the fans have given me their love. But they know I have never adapted to life in England. Neither the climate nor the language has come easy.”

Nor the football. Despite showing glimpses of the form which earned him rave reviews at Sevilla, he has been prone to injury and inconsistency. This, allied to his obvious unhappiness in England, combined with Arsene’s interest in other attacking players, is what led me to believe that Reyes might be for sale.

Since then, the Spanish press have claimed that we’ve touted him around Madrid and Barca, with Real the most likely to bite at around £14m. The versatile Julio Baptista’s name of course continues to crop up, but then when was the last time a swap deal actually happened?

If Reyes were to leave, we’d still have Rosicky, Hleb, Ljungberg, and Clichy all available to play on the left-hand side of midfield. It’s clear he will never settle in England, and in the midst of yet another summer of transition, it may be best to get all the “transitioning” over as soon as possible.

Elsewhere, another former Arsenal target, Marcos Senna, looks set to join Michael Carrick at Manchester United.

Enjoy your Sundays. I won’t, I’m busy.

Fabrice Muamba might play for England, and it’s a fantastic story.

59 comments July 29th, 2006

The second Congo war of 1998-2003 was one of the worst interstate wars in modern African history, implicating more than nine African nations and earning it the nickname of “Africa’s World War“. In 1999, Fabrice and his family fled the Republic of Congo’s capital, Kinshasa, to become Asylum Seekers in Walthamstow, London.

Fabrice was just eleven years old. However, five years later he was a star of school football and signing youth terms with Arsenal. In between then and making his full first-team debut in 2005 against Sunderland, he has become a naturalized British citizen and represented England at youth level. Now his remarkable journey has taken him to Birmingham, where he will play for a season on loan. One need only read Steve Bruce’s excited comments to understand Muamba’s potential. A central midfielder in the Patrick Vieira mould, a successful spell at Birmingham could see him in contention for the Arsenal first team.

For some reason, I don’t feel the same is true of Sebastian Larsson, who is also set to spend the season with Brum. Although undoubtedly a player of versatility and class, he is yet to find a niche in the squad. Perhaps a year of first-team football will allow him to find his natural position, though unfortunately I feel he may end up suffering the same fate as Ryan Smith, who has been sold to Derby for an undisclosed fee. Injuries and ill-fortune conspired against the winger, and he never truly recovered the blistering form he showed as a sixteen-year-old. However, this is yet another contribution to the football league by the Arsenal academy, a feature of the club I’ll soon be writing a full article on. The Rams aren’t finished at Arsenal, with suggestions they could still be after Arturo Lupoli.

So that’s three players out, and David Dein has admitted what we all knew: they’ll soon be joined by a fourth, with talks between Arsenal and Chelsea taking place on the transfer of Ashley Cole. As I’ve said before: the sooner it’s done the better.

Whilst we await any arrivals with great anticipation, the transfer market is starting to click into gear as far as Manchester United are concerned, with Ruud van Nistelrooy leaving and Michael Carrick set to join. There’s been a bit of murmuring amongst Arsenal fans that we should’ve nabbed Carrick for around £3m back in 2004.

There are two things to consider in this argument: firstly, that the signing of Carrick was only being considered at that point because it looked sure that Patrick Vieira would leave; and secondly that the signing of Carrick would have halted the progress of one Cesc Fabregas.

As it turned out, the deal didn’t happen, and now he’s apparently worth £18m to Man U. But Cesc is worth far more to us, Real Madrid, and just about anyone else in world football. Carrick is a more than decent footballer, but Cesc is special. Looking back, you have to say this is another decision that Arsene got spot on.

Hopefully his refusal to pay £10m for Curtis Davies will prove to be another wise move: the defender has now pledged his future to West Brom. Well, at least he’s not going to Spurs.

Finally (sorry for the long-winded nature of this article), barring a second-leg miracle we will face Croatian side Dinamo Zagreb in the Champions League qualifiers. A signing or two wouldn’t hurt us get past them (hint hint, Arsene…).

Wenger: “The prices for young talent are the prices you’d pay for established players.”

56 comments July 27th, 2006

Arsene is right: whilst it’s vital we strengthen, we musn’t pay over-the-odds for anybody: the £10m fees being banded around for Curtis Davies and Yossi Benayoun (interest in whom is probably entirely rumoured) demonstrate just how high the prices for domestic talent are.

As Arsene says:

“We did it for Theo Walcott, for example, but we cannot do it always.”

The need for a central defender who can also play at left-back is the most pressing area, but Arsene is unworried:

“We have Toure, Djourou, Senderos and Cygan. Remember these defenders went 10 games in the Champions League without conceding a goal so I cannot say they are bad.”

Perhaps selling Ashley Cole for an inflated fee might free up AW’s transfer spending somewhat. Don’t forget, we made about £1.6m yesterday due to a 25% sell-on clause for Jermaine Pennant.

Crock-happy Freddie Ljungberg will miss the first few games of the season, which isn’t a surprise to anyone. Fortunately with Alex Hleb and the new addition of Tomas Rosicky he is no longer indispensable to this squad.

My transfer wishes have diminished to the point where I see a defender and a central midfielder as an absolute priority. Somehow, though, I don’t think we’ll get both of those for the £1.6m mentioned above.

And however small our squad might get, we still did the right thing in letting go of this guy.

Cole will definitely be gone by 8th August.

18 comments July 26th, 2006

That’s the date of our first Champions League Qualifier. Chelsea will want him by then to avoid the risk of him appearing for us and becoming cup-tied. Their signings this summer, particularly those of Ballack and Shevchenko, seem to be geared towards the Champions League. If they’re going to spend up to £30m on Cole, they’ll certainly want him available for their European campaign.

I have no doubts, though, that the fee won’t climb as high as the £30m The Telegraph suggest. Anything in the £20m mark would be a significant financial coup: it’s hard to think of a full-back ever going for anything in that region.

For now, Arsene insists there’s been no official offer:

“There is nothing going on with Ashley at the moment. There is no offer and we are not talking to anybody about him. I am always confident of holding onto player, but if you want me to sit here and guarantee he will be an Arsenal player next season I cannot do it. He only has two years left on his contract and we have not made any movement in that regard and when you have a player in that situation you cannot say much.”

The sooner he goes the better, really. With the internationals filtering back to training, a disruptive influence like Cole would be decidedly unwelcome. Having already rid ourselves of Campbell, the next most difficult figure in the dressing room will soon be departing: perhaps our fantastic team spirit of a few years ago isn’t far from returning?

Any fee we do recieve for Cole might be spent on West Ham’s Yossi Benayoun, if you listen to The Independent. I suggest you don’t: the £10m fee strikes me as very high, and a wide-midfielder is certainly not our most pressing requirement (unless, of course, you choose to believe the reports in the Spanish press that we are offering Jose Reyes to Real Madrid).

Last night saw Arsenal play against Austrian side SV Mattersburg, with Tomas Rosicky coming on to make his Arsenal debut. The final score was 2-1, with goals coming from a smart Jeremie Aliadiere left-foot finish, and a subtle lob from Justin Hoyte after a surprisingly good ball from a not-too-terrible Alex Song.

I was again impressed with Armand Traore, who at just 16 was described by Wenger as:

“A young boy with a lot of power. Not speedy, but super speedy. When you consider he’s only 16, it’s incredible power – he can make the difference going forward.”

Young Armand really is one to watch, and certainly looks a darn sight better than his namesake Djimi.

Ashley who?

Previous Posts

Search Gunnerblog

Get your Gunnerblog t-shirts now!

get regular updates from GS with twitter

Top Gunn

Cesc Fabregas
The man in form.

    Retro Arsenal T-Shirts from - Bringing Back The Good Old Days!: Click Here!

Latest Posts

Sponsored Links


July 2006
« Jun   Aug »

Posts by Month

Most Recent Posts

Posts by Category


Powered By

eXTReMe Tracker