New born indoctrination; Benzema would not be like Özil situation

Eugh. Full of cough/cold and relatively little sleep, coupled with the fact there’s bugger all happening in the Arsenal world, means this is one heck of a crud-diddly-udd way to start the working week. The only saving grace of positivity for today was that a new family member entered the world last night in the shape of a new nephew for yours truly here. 

The only down side is his dad – my brother – is a West Ham fan and so the child will probably never know the awesomeness of being a Gooner. It will be a shame. If he found his way to the world of Arsenal I could lavish him with so many stories about a wonderful club. But instead he has to be raised sporting claret and blue and shouting ‘irons!’ In an unsavoury and somewhat irritating manner.

Maybe I’ll get lucky. Maybe he’ll naturally gravitate towards the right way. As long as he doesn’t stray into the path of extreme darkness and start favouring Chelski though, I suppose, because that really would put both father and uncles noses out of joint. In fact, it would probably mean needing to rip our noses off, set fire to them and shoot them out of a cannon in to the River Thames if there was any hint of a West London interest. At least that my brother and I can both agree on.

Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to have my influence on the wee nipper, but I’ve made a promise with the sibling not to confuse the child. So whilst he is still looking like a potato and unable to tell us his preferences, then I’ll get a few snaps in an Arsenal baby grow and accept the poor nippers fate.

Anyway, anything else to talk about? We could look at the Benzema rumours, but does anybody believe that it would actually happen? I mean, really? There’s been a lot of talk about Ramos to United in the last few weeks, but if you look at most of the more respected journos (I know, I know, ‘ha!’ right?), a lot are hypothesising that this is a ploy from the Ramos camp to get a better deal at Real by toying with United for their affections. I think it’s similar for Benzema. He doesn’t have as little left on his contract as Ramos, but with a new manager in and talking of Ronaldo playing as an out-and-out number nine, his agent briefing the press that he might consider elsewhere works in his favour to both sound out potential suitors but also to test Madrid’s desire to keep him. 

Even if the plans for Ronaldo are to move him to a good ol’fashioned number nine, are Madrid really going to let go their other option in that position? Not to mention the fact he’s one of the best at it in Europe! 

Sure, we all thought similar of Özil and I remember us first being linked to our German and thinking ‘we’ve got no chance’ in a similar way that this Benzema story has pushed its way front and centre, but unless they have another megastar signing lined up like they did with Bale when we got Özil I can’t see it happening. 

So that’s it for today from me. I need lemons, honey and a way to indocrinate new born babies without parents or anyone else knowing.

Alexis’ success good for us?

Alexis Sanchez will be a happy boy today, after chipping the winning penalty to see Chile win the Copa America, so after a season of somewhat success at Arsenal just gone (and I say ‘somewhat’ not because of his personal success, or the teams, but I get the feeling the squad are all happy with the FA Cup but expected us to do better in the league) he can feel very happy with life at the moment.

He’s integrated in to a new team with consummate ease, he’s leathered in an FA Cup final goal in May and has notched himself a winning penalty for his international team too. The hope is that this will just provide more hunger, more determination and more motivation to help Arsenal succeed with our goal of winning tghe league next season.

Of course, we know from this time last year, that winning international competitions doesn’t actually always mean a good thing for returning players. Big Per admitted he found it harder to motivate himself after the extreme highs of the World Cup and Mesut Ozil also suffered with form before getting injured and then returning the superstar we all know he is. But whilst you cannot rule out such dip in form for Alexis, I don’t think there’s many of us that would think that he’ll be in the same category as our two Germans, simply because of the personality he is. He is an Energizer Bunny. His effervescent presence is amazing and it wouldn’t surprise me if he is calling up Arsene this week and telling him he’ll not be doing a holiday this summer, that he’s just going to go straight in to the next season with pre-season training now.

But we know that can’t happen. We know that he’ll need a rest and he’ll need to let his body recover, which means that he’ll most likely be given a month by Le Boss to rest and relax, before rejoining his treammates in training at the beginninng of the season. The only problem we’ll have there, however, is that he’ll probably need another month to get back to full match fitness. It means there’s a chance for others to prove themselves and so I do wonder who will be given the nod in that position during the early months of the season. The Ox on the left with Theo on the right? Welbeck? He’d be refreshed and ready to go after an injury-hit end to the season. perhaps Arsene will experiment with a new formation? That’s something that I’m sure will have my old friend Dave Seagar will be excited at the prospect of, I can tell you.

 

 

Should we be pleased with the fixture tampering by TV companies?

It’s bloody typical that the start of the season for me is choca-block with things I can’t get out of, like stag dos, weddings and other such family occasions. But, what is more bloody typical is that having already made my plans to unfortunately offload my tickets to a couple of games, I find myself now frantically trying to undo my own efficiency because Sky and BT Sport have had their wicked way with the fixture list.

Sunday lunchtime football against West Ham and Monday night against Liverpool means that in theory I could still make both games. I suspect I’ll possibly have to miss out and there’s consolation in the fact that Arsenal are on TV every week for the first month of the season, but given that I’ll be starved of live football by the time I get to rock up at The Emirates (for me there is nothing quite like the whole experience, pre match chin wagging, smells, sights, etc, of going to the games) I’ll have come back from my second sojourn to Pottugal in September.

Despite the fact that this fixture tampering will mean I can still watch all the games with consummate ease wherever I am, I still long for the halcyon days of 3pm kick offs every week. I know I should just get on with my life and know that they’re never coming back, but it still doesn’t stop me from pining for it, you know? Michael Jackson has long departed from this earth, but I still wish I could watch him sing live and in the flesh.

Perhaps we should all take it as a positive sign. Sky and BT clearly think there’s enough about this Arsenal team this seaso. To challenge for this title, which is why they are snaffling up every game until September in which to show Arsenal. With our existing squad and the additional of a top-notch ‘keeper, the bookies may be thinking us challengers. That’s nice, isn’t it? I do prefer when you’re completely ruled out and you challenge from a position nobody thought you could, but there’s a reason bookmakers are all in business and it’s not because they take punts on things. They’re usually right for a reason and whose Chelski will be odds on again in 2015/16, I’d be interested to see where they place us.

The only two rumours worth a look today appear to be the Rosicky stuff to Sparta Prague and the Pedro stuff to Arsenal. On both accounts we have players who have only recently just had extensions to their contracts agreed which is weird, because on both accounts you have players who have been shunted further down the pecking order last season, so whilst both had extensions sorted, you have to wonder if it was to protect their values as assets rather than because the club has plans to push them back in to the first XI. Whilst I can see the logic in doing that with a 27-year-old Pedro, I don’t think there would be much cash you could glean from a Rosicky transfer, so I’d guess that the only way that transfer is going to happen is if Tomas himself says he’d like to head home. Arsène is the type of guy that wouldn’t stand in the ‘Little Mozart’s way if he did decide he wanted more game time, so if a bid came in from the Czech club it would be a decision for the player that could see us lose somebody in a similar fashion to the way in which we acquired Cech. But hey, whilst we love Rosicky, we all know that he’ll be a peripheral player next season. So perhaps there’s more than a bit of general speculation to that one.

Anyway, that’s yer lot from me today. I’ll catch you tomorrow.

Poldi’s end is nigh, Campbell’s career may not be dead and I must finish my flux capacitor

London black cabs everywhere will be a little less cheery in their disposition this morning, after Lukas Podolski’s agent confirmed that he’ll be making the switch to Turkish football to play for Galatasaray this summer. I think we all knew it was coming, but the fact that Poldi’s agent said that they had a long and good chat with Arsène Wenger about his future – in which Le Boss apparently tried to convince Lukas to stay – shows a little bit about why players love Arsène. He does tend to treat them all with respect and in a week in which much back-slapping has been happening at Chelski for letting Cech go to Arsenal, it should perhaps not be forgotten that Arsène has a history of looking after players. “Make love, not war” is clearly a motto that the Frenchman seems to adopt. Certainly more than his odious Portguese counterpart.

It’s a good move for all, in truth, because it generates a bit of cash, gets a hefty earned off the wage bill, plus means that there’s one less quandary for Arsène to ponder over when it comes to the 25-man squad rule. By-and-large you’d have to say he’s hardly been a success, particularly as his value seems to have dropped from £11million three years ago to £3million now, but at least the German international has left us with plenty of positive memories of his thunderous left foot. Let’s just choose to remember the good things. It will make everyone’s outlook on life so much more sunny.

The other question mark at the top end of the pitch would be How do you solve a problem like Joel Campbell? Not quite a year to the day, but certainly come the beginning of August, there was a clamour to see the player start more regularly for Arsenal last season. But after half a season hardly ripping up trees at Villareal, having signed a new deal, one does wonder if we should have cashed in whilst young Joel’s stock was so high last summer.

After all, World Cup’s are not just festivals of football, but opportunities to put a player in a shop window and usually if a player plays well you see a selling club often command top dollar. It’s easy to say in hindsight (especially as I was one of those people who thought Mr Campbell should have been given more time. Perhaps it was due to the surname with which I still have multiple affections of given Arsenal’s past) that we should have cashed in because his value probably wouldn’t have increased, but after what we’ve seen with Coquelin and the transformation he’s had, I’m inclined to wonder who else could prove everyone wrong when all of their chips appear to be down.

The Coquelin situation has kind of thrown the whole deck of cards up in the air when it comes to young players, hasn’t it? I mean, what you thought you knew about a player of a certain age has suddenly seen you think twice, no? I know it has for me. Sure, defensive midfield is probably a position where you’re afforded a bit more leeway than up top, but even that Arsenal fan Harry Kane has proved that you can’t always predict how a player will evolve.

I am still of a mind to believe that Campbell will slowly disappear further and further away from the first team, but it wouldn’t surprise me if Arsène has a very good look at him in pre season before shipping him out on another loan or permanent deal.

Cue a hat-trick at The Emirates Cup and the hyperbole brigade out in force to implore the manager to give him a shout. That is, assuming we have injuries I suppose. After all, we’re now at the stage where we’re no longer blooding youngsters in the first team, unless they are exceptional talents like Bellerin. So whether or not there is a clamour to see a player like Campbell get game time compared to a year ago remains to be seen.

I know we might all be getting to the stage where we’ve had so much Cech news that we’ll soon be guilty of Cech over exposure, but he’s had a little bit more to say on the official site about how long he can see himself playing for. He’s said he doesn’t think about retiring and wants to play for another seven years. That would take him up to 40 and about the same age as van Der Saar and Seaman before they hung up their gloves. I can certainly see him going on that long and if we have him as our first choice for that period of time then the £11million outlay would be worth it, but in a way I hope it doesn’t get to that, because I’d like to see Szczesny step up over the next 18 months. If Cech is number one for seven years then there’s no doubt the Pole won’t be at the club but perhaps on a slightly more morose note, it would mean that his career which showed so much early promise, did indeed stagnate and move backwards. For a guy that has been with the club for so long and broken in to the first team from the academy, I’m sure no Arsenal fan would want to see that, regardless of what anybody might think about his attitude. So whilst I’m hopeful we’ll feel like we’ve got our money’s worth out of the Cech deal, I’m also equally hopeful that we’ll see a gradual changing of the guard over the next three years, with Wojciech emerging as the world class ‘keeper we all want him to be. Again, the benefit of hindsight now would be useful, as we can all know what happens and if required not stake so much emotional investment in Woj. 

I must get back to finishing that flux capacitor. 

An Arsenal career gone but not forgotten and one still on and should not be forgotten

It may have been news that we were already aware of, but yesterday came the confirmation that Abou Diaby was finally being released from his contract at Arsenal, and is now in the process of finding a new club. Rumours are abound that he’s on the verge of signing for FC Dallas in the MLS and perhaps this is exactly the type of move that could be good for him. New scenery, nicer climate that may treat his fragile body better, as well as an opportunity to become an absolute beast in a weaker league. I think most people will wish him well.

His time at Arsenal will, unfortunately, forever be defined by the closing stages of an away game to Sunderland in 2006 in which he was scythed down in a malicious challenge by a guy who shouldn’t have remained on the pitch and now doesn’t even grace Premier League pitches. Nobody would know it at the time, but the actions of Dan Smith have cost a very good player a regular career in the top flight.

Diaby was good. It’s impossible to know how good because of the circumstances that befell him, but I saw in sporadic matches, the type of player who could drift past players effortlessly with the ball, whose body belied his overall ability and somebody who, if he could only have maintained fitness for a prolonged period of time, could have potentially have been as good as Vieira. He was a different type of player and earlier in his career the comparisons led him to publicly state so, but I’m talking about the impact he could have had at Arsenal.

It’s a shame that it has to end the way it has, but it’s the best for all parties concerned, and Arsenal have certainly done more than enough to support Abou. After all, it’s not like he goes off to America short of a non or two, eh?!?

The rest of the news out there still seems to be focused around Petr Cech. On the website our new signing has spoken of the reaction of the Arsenal fans, as well as the possibilities at the club. Away from the official site and stepping in to deepest, darkest realms of evil, Jose has finally spoken about the transfer. His words probably came as no surprise, as he publicly supported the ‘keeper and wishes him well, but with Jose there always has to be something reflected back at him or his club, so in the statement it was about how amazing Chelski are to put the wishes of the player before anything else. It was an attempt to turn his back on the fact that Arsenal have improved and since the deal was announced he has probably gnashed his teeth down to stubby stumps, so I’m not surprised that he’s tried to spin a story his way. Whatever. The important thing is that we’re on cloud nine at them moment and with the Community Shield exactly one month from today, we’ve already got some football on the horizon to look forward to. Goody.

Carl Jenkinson looks to have his suitors upped by one this morning, as West Ham have expressed interest in his signature for another season and I hope the club do tie him down to another deal before he goes, because I still believe he can have a role to play. Bellerin may have stepped forward in the queue (typical Spanish!) for regular right-back football at Arsenal, but with Debuchy turning 31 by the time next season comes around, one more years experience of regular football for The Corporal will do him good. I’ve always said I thought him a good player and with more games under his belt he can get better, so in my mind it would be mad to sell him off to a club like West Ham just yet. Let him get his experience away from Arsenal and then, much as I hate to reference a Spud scenario, like Ryan Mason who didn’t break through in to the Spud first team until he had gone through a number of loan deals – or even Le Coq’s experiences on loan before breaking through – let those be an example that he can still have the belief that he can make it at Arsenal.

That’s pretty much all I gots for today for ya. Podolski may look like he’s on the brink of a move to Turkey, but there’s no point in writing his Arsenal career obituary until it’s actually happened, so I’ll say ‘toodle-ooo’ to you.

Arsenal don’t sign ‘ALL the players’ shocker

You can tell this is the calm after the transfer storm that was Monday, because there ain’t a lot going on right now, friend. I mean, when one of The Evening Standard’s main Arsenal stories that I had a look on News Now this morning is one in which Petr Cech’s day of signing is video montaged on to a webpage so we all have a click and watch, you can tell evening the professional backs are scraping the barrel for news. 

Heck, even in non Arsenal-related transfer news it all seems quiet on the Western Front, with Sky Sports this morning reporting that United are yet to go back to Southampton with a concrete second bid.

So…basically what you’re telling us, Sky, is that nothing has happened?

In which case, I too, can confirm exclusively that Arsenal have not made official bids for:

  • Leo Messi
  • A clone of Thierry Henry
  • Ralph Macchio from The Karate Kid
  • Jon Snow’s corpse
  • All seven of the dwarves – Snow White simply couldn’t release any of them I’m afraid
  • The man who hands me a copy of The London Evening Standard every day at Waterloo station.

With these revalations now out in the public domain, you have no idea how good I feel, like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I thought it might have been the early morning shock to my system, coupled with a slightly underdone bit of last nights dinner, but it turns out is that it was just those transfer speculation gems that I was holding back for you. Phew.

There’s some stuff on the official site which is a bit more info from the big man himself talking about how he could have signed for Arsenal, but had difficulties because the Czech Republic was not part of the EU at the time. Gosh-dammit, Janet, why couldn’t those bean-counters in Brussels have worked faster and harder, eh? If they’d have just pulled forward the entry into ‘the club’ earlier, we’d have avoided all of the Almunia’s and Fabianski’s and probably be in the same position we are today, albeit with that £10million+ back in our bank accounts!

But it doesn’t matter. We’re here now and everybody’s happy. Well, for now, that is. There’s always next week when a player who we weren’t in for, probably wouldn’t improve our team, nor be any kind of major impact signs for another one of the ‘big’ clubs and we end up seeing a small section of Arsenal Twitter meltdown like its just been sprayed with molten lava from Volcana (been reading Marvel Secret Wars lately). But until that happens we should just continue to bask in the awesomeness of what we have around us at the moment. It’s sunny, we’ve just signed a proven and excellent ‘keeper, plus we’re FA Cup holders. I just thought I’d throw that in there because it’s easy to forget that we win trophies now. Y’know, what with it happening every season these days.

Yep, things are all right at the moment, aren’t they? Arsenal have finally got the hang of this ‘transfers’ malarkey. Sign one just before a heatwave in England, let everybody feel good, then just as the dust begins to settle, we’ll be at the Community Shield forgetting all about signings (maybe) and just focusing on the football. Happy days.

And on that cheery note, I shall bid you adieu. 

No surprises any more, but it’s still good we’re making statements like Cech

So yesterday, after all of the speculation, endless retelling of his impending arrival and all-round media bluster, Arsenal confirmed that Petr Cech was officially an Arsenal player.

I, like you, am very pleased. I’ll talk a little bit about the signing in a sec, but as I chewed the fat with a fellow Gooner in the office yesterday, I could not help but pine for the ‘old days’, when a transfer came out of the blue. Thanks to social media and the ever-instant access to information that we all now have, the Cech deal got to a stage where we all knew it was happening, it was just a matter of time. There was no “bloody hell, we’ve signed Bergkamp!” about the announcement yesterday, nor a legendary surprise like the one Arsène gave the media when introducing Sol Campbell to the assembled hacks, who thought we’d be announcing Richard Wright instead.

Perhaps I’m just guilty of being a little too nostalgic, but I preferred ignorance, because the positive surprise and excitement I got when any big name player signed for The Arsenal ten to 15 years ago was much greater than these days. Or perhaps I’m just getting a little older and longer in the tooth.

Whatever. The important thing is that we’ve gone big on bringing in an established and ‘world class’ goalie who can only improve our team. It is a position that many of us thought Arsène had sorted three or four years ago, but after an indifferent season for Szczesny and well documented off-pitch antics, the Pole’s position as number one has been usurped indefinitely for now it seems.

His response – I have to say – was the right one. He praised the signing and publicly, at least, said he’d be pleased to learn from such a player. That is what most Arsenal fans had assumed would be the position that Wenger would take, so it appears as though Szczesny seems to have accepted the challenge, whether or not he feels it’s still the case if he hasn’t been playing much come December, we’ll have to see. When you’re number one for as long as he was, do you want to slot comfortably back into a number two’s shoes? I’m not sure you do and with the Euro’s coming up next summer, it is quite strange to think of the turnaround between Fabianski and Szczesny as to who will most likely play in between the sticks for Poland.

If Szczesny seems to have accepted his role of deputy, what now of Ospina then? Clearly three goalkeepers with aspirations of football doesn’t fit, as we have recent examples of which when Viviano rolled in to town in what most Gooners now call his ‘gap year’. Something tells me Ospina won’t fancy a gap year and so it’s only a matter of time before he asks the boss for an exit. It is a shame because I don’t really think he’s done anything wrong, he just hasn’t really smashed Szczesny’s chances of winning his place back in to touch. It’s strange because it just feels like he’s a player who’s name wasn’t quite top billing enough to excite the fans and an increasingly ‘big name’ hungry modern fanbase who want to see stars or ‘Galacticos’ of varying degrees at the club they support.

But Cech is not just a big name, he’s a big game player too, and this new ruthless Arsène would have thought long and hard about this signing I’m sure. But ultimately, Le Boss will have come to the conclusion that sentiment is no longer soup de jour at Arsenal. He’s always said through countless interviews that if we could find a player in a position that will improve the team, then he would look at bringing them in. That’s what happened with Özil. Most of us thought we needed a striker that pre-season, but there wasn’t one Wenger deemed to be quality enough out there that he could get, but there was a Mesut Özil available and we got him. And aren’t we all glad he did!

The same happened last summer. There were plenty of people who thought Podolski was good enough as a wide left option. Sure, he didn’t do much else other than end product, but when you have somebody who is that good at finishing, do you need an upgrade? You do when that upgrade is world class. So Alexis came in and has been a revalation. 

Now we have Petr Cech. He will bring experience and quality to a defence and perhaps – although not the same mega money as the last two summer signings – he can have the same positive impact on the team as Özil and Alexis have had. We may well go out and buy another big name player who costs £40million, but it may be the Czech stopped who is the most significant acquisition this summer.

From a personality point of view he comes across very well indeed. Humble to the support of the Chelski fans (many of whom don’t really deserve it given the response I saw from some), whose at the same time talking up his new club, he looks very much a calming influence. And he’ll not need any time to settle in, either, because he’s already based in London and he’s even got one of his bezzie mates in the squad in the shape of Super Tom. I particularly liked the part of the Cech interview yesterday when he said that Rosicky’s influence helped to convince him to talk to Arsenal. 

Super Agent Rosicky. 

What it does show you is the influence that other players have on their fellow pros. Sure, it isn’t the main factor behind any deal, but these things can have an impact. It does make me find something positive in the international breaks though, that’s for sure!

Anyway, I’ve spent the last week and a half talking about Cech, so it’s time to start talking about something else tomorrow. Maybe we can speculate over a possible Theo Walcott contract signing, eh?