Alexis the machine; Arsène has a point on technology and transfers

Hey there fellow fan, how are you holding up during this barren Arsenal weekend? Any good? 

I’m feeling your pain, because I feel pretty fed up at the lack of Arsenal too, so we can both be a bit morose with Sky and BT for fudging around with the fixtures. Monday Night Football may give a football fan something to watch after the first day of the working week, but don’t let it be Arsenal, have some other clubs playing. Like Spuds away to Weet Brom or something.

But it is what it is and at least we have Arsène’s pre-match pressed to pour over and dissect to the nth degree. During it he confirmed the situation regarding our current injury status, which is pretty much ‘as is’, so that’s good to hear (in terms of no new ‘set backs’). Le Boss also confirmed that Alexis is almost at 100% match fitness and given that we’re only in to the third game of the season, he really is a staggering example of a footballer. When you think about how most players coming back from the World Cup last season needed a month or even two before they started to look like their usual selves, he continues to amaze and astound us. Quite why Barcelona swapped him for Suarez is beyond me. Perhaps I am too obviously biased, but Suarez and Alexis look evenly matched in terms of what they bring to a team, so it looks like Alexis fell victim to the fact that he wasn’t seen as a ‘superstar’ and the Barcelona (and Madrid) fans and club itself always want something shiny and new. Had Alexis signed from Udinese to Arsenal, had three or four years with us and then Barcelona were looking at him because he’d impressed with us, I’m convinced they would have been after him as much as Suarez. But hey, let’s not complain too much, because we’ve been gifted a truly marvellous footballer. At Liverpool’s expense too.

It will be an interesting game on Monday up against the Scousers, because they have a 100% record and will go in to the game with plenty of confidence, so I expect it will be tough. More on that tomorrow and Monday, but Arsène alluded to the fact that there was perhaps a bit of fortune to their start in the late goal at Stoke, coupled with the incorrect goal against Bournemouth. He worded it very cleverly though, being careful not to sound like he’s underestimating Liverpool, so to avoid giving them the clichéd ‘newspaper cutting on the dressing room door’.

He did have a point about the disallowed goal though, specifically when related to video technology, because we now live in an age where the reaction can be rapid once a decision has been reviewed. Had a video referee messaged down to the referee/linesman whilst Liverpool were celebrating – which was at least 30 seconds to a minute – there could have been enough time to review, see it wasn’t a goal and bring it back as a goal kick. Between a goal going in and the kick off for the restart is usually at least two minutes. Are you telling me that another official couldn’t make a decision in two minutes? Sky Sports were able to, so they also were able to reverse that time decision without any other stoppages that wouldn’t have happened during the goal. But anyway, it’s done, the Premier League/FA won’t change and we have to accept it.

What we also have to accept (although I think some still refuse to) is that we probably won’t be signing anybody at this stage. Paying attention to the ITKs and attention seekers is a waste of time. Decisions can be made so quickly, so quite why the ITKs talk about these transfers as if they are dragging out, shows that they know nothing. “Arsène just needs to decide if he wants to bid”, “the player will travel to London within the next 48 hours” and other such nonsense is, well, nonsense. Arsenal and Arsène aren’t at home right now with a blank piece of paper that reads ‘pros/cons’ on it with Benzema’s face in the middle of the A4 piece. If the club are interested in Benzema and haven’t bid it is because they are assessing the current situation, not waiting on Le Boss’ list and available Easyjet flights to Luton.

I did have a wry smile when Arsène spoke about closing the transfer window before the season starts, because we’d have signed nobody over the last couple of years of that would have been the case!

(I realise that the opposite might also be true i.e.having Özil et al at the club earlier than we did)

I’ve seen a few people getting irate – usually those from the school of thinking that believes Adrian Durham has some relevance – at Arsène talking about the lack of available players. I don’t really understand why. His rationale was perfectly logical. Football has lots of money in it. Football teams that 20 years ago could not refuse a big money bid for their players, are bidding big money for players themselves, so they have the financial muscle to convince players that they have a future by waving the all-mighty-pound at the players who have one less reason to angle for a move. If footballers are as money-motivated as most of the world says, surely Arsène’s comments make sense?

What he was really getting about players for Arsenal, was that there isn’t any available who would improve our first team, which I agree. We don’t want or need squad players, all of the players that are being touted around are just that, so what’s the point in even looking at them?

We’re in a good place right now and a win against Liverpool on Monday night doesn’t mean Arsène has an excuse to not sign players, it means we’re three points closer to that league title challenge we want. Let’s all focus on that, eh?

Catch you tomorrow.

Hoping Welbeck doesn’t go full Rosicky with his injury

Last night I woke up just before midnight to the most brain-stabbingly painful headache at the back of my bonce, I thought my head was going to explode like I was on the Mars surface in Total Recall.

I suspect it was just my body rejecting the 6,624,253rd rumour about Benzema signing. There’s only so much a gooner can take you know?

Anyway, what with people continuing to lose their sh*t over Ottamendi (position we didn’t need to fill) and Pedro (position we didn’t need to fill), I figured taking some time away from football was the best option last night. It was clearly the right choice.

The only real news about Arsenal was the stories of Arsène talking up the qualities of Wellington Silva – something you’d expect given that he wants to give him belief he can make it at the club – at Bolton and I for one will be glad to see him. It will be nice to occasionally switch on to some Championship football with vague interest now and again. Heck, I might even stay up for Manesh on a Saturday evening, maybe.

The current teams news…well…isn’t really team news at all, with Welbeck, Wilshere and Rosicky all still injured and only Wilshere looking like potentially being back any time soon. I have to say the Welbeck scenario is starting to have me worried though. It feels very Rosickesque or Vermaeleny in the whole “we’re not entirely sure why it’s taking so long for his knee to heal” situation. Poor old Tomas ended up missing a season and because of the length of the injury the club had moved on when we finally did get him back. He’s showed signs of the Rosicky pre-injury since then, but he’s never been the same player, which is what concerns me about Welbeck. The longer this goes on, the more likely it feels that he might end up being worse off in the long run. The likelihood that we move on as a club too, is also a possibility and if that happens, it would be a shame for Danny.

I like him. He’s a versatile player, his application and effort is top notch and if only he could have a better final finish on him, he’d probably have usurped Giroud at the top of our formation.

Let’s just hope Arsène sheds a little bit of light on the issue in his pre-match update later today, with that update being a “guys, chill, it’s fine. He’ll be back in no time and he’ll be the same as before”.

Other than that it’s pretty quiet. It’s a bit of a ball ache that we have to wait until Monday before seeing The Arsenal, because it basically means a non-football weekend, even if it does make next weekend more fun because we get two games in a week. Oh what I wouldn’t give for a 3pm kick off. It’s perfectly placed in the day for a few lunchtime beers, whilst still getting home in time for dinner, a nice evening and Match of the Day. Assuming Arsenal have won, of course. But we have to embrace what football supporting life is like these days, I suppose, despite how much it winds us all up.

Right, that’s me for the day, because I’m not speculating about potential players arriving or leaving for that matter. 

See you peeps in the morrow.

Dropping points not so bad? Falling for the click-baiters is though

So Happy Saturday to you. It’s one in which we have to wait a little bit before we get to avenge the defeat last weekend. Sure, we took a bit of a surprise sucker punch from Slaven Bilic’s West Ham, but it was only our first game of of the 2015/16 season (match preview from the guys at Coral) and there’s plenty more football to be played. That doesn’t mean that it didn’t smart any less, so I for one am hoping we can wash the bad taste out of our mouths, with the sweet succulent flavours of three points at Selhurst Park on Sunday.

It certainly won’t be easy. Arsene said as much in his pre match presser when asked about how tough the Premier League is this season. If going the season unbeaten was difficult 11 years ago, it must feel like an almost impossible tasks, when you look at some of the squads that have been assembled. Who on God’s green earth would have thought Yohan Cabaye would be rocking up at Palace three years ago? Or that a very polished Payet would boss a game for West ham at The Emirates? Certainly not me. So despite how clearly annoying it is to drop points at home on the first game of the season, perhaps it is not as damaging as it might have been last season? Who knows. Time will tell, etc, etc.

What is essential is that we get some side of response from the pretty insipid display we endured last Sunday. The passing accuracy needs to be better and we need to see more urgency and potency in attack. The manager has to drive his players forward in that regard, so perhaps he’ll be mentioning the fans in his team talk this week, after explaining about how they don’t want to upset us. Hey, anything that gets us a result is fine by me, so if Arsene has to show pictures of totts in Arsenal baby-grows balling their eyes out, or a little child with his dreams in tatters because we lost a game, then I’m ok with that. Winning is everything people, winning is everything.

Just ask Jose, who clearly will do anything to win, including deflect the performance of his team and make it about an internal bust-up just to get a bit of attention. He really is an odious character. I am loving the way the media are trying to beef up his issues with Wenger and vice-versa though, but Le Boss just isn’t biting. In his presser yesterday he was specifically asked by a journo about the Mourinho issue with his medical team. The question was more loaded than a 12-bore, designed to get a sound bite that can be used to fire in Jose’s direction to see if he can get an argument started. Arsene steered clear of the games though, simply talking about it as an internal matter, that you need the unity of the team and you need to trust the medical department. Cue the various media outlets reporting this as ‘Arsene wading in to Chelsea medical team debate’. Not really guys. He was asked a direct question and pretty much said ‘not interested, thanks’. But let’s not let the truth get in the way of sparking up some sort of perpetual hyperbolic row, eh, guys?

Whatevs. If that’s what these media bods are happy with then you and I just need to make sure we’re savvy to the truth. The first thing I do before visiting any media websites is have a listen to his presser these days, because it tells the real story and you can make your own informed decision as a result. So rather than being click-baited I am a little wiser and a little more laid back when I see a headline that is clearly trying to stretch the truth to its outer limits.

The more important thing for me is trying to work out how I’m going to watch the game tomorrow. The in-laws have bought The Management and I a lovely day at the Red Bull air race in a corporate hospitality area (free bar!) and, upon my advice they choose Sunday rather than Saturday because that’s when the game was originally supposed to be played. Now I’m in a quandary because I’m not missing the game. Sky Go on the phone it is I suppose!

That’ll do for me for one day. You have a good one and remember, avoid the click baiters, stay safe and try not to go mad without The Arsenal on a Saturday.

A chirpy Arsene and the excitement/fear of the unknown; The Premier League begins…

Here we are. After all the summer waiting, anticipating and hoping, we’ve arrived at the start of the Premier League season with the first weekend. It’s a bit of a funny one though, because we’re not playing tomorrow, so it only really half feels like the Premier League starts in earnest today.

The up side is that we get to cheer on any team that isn’t Chelski or Liverpool, whilst hoping for a 5-all draw in the game at Old Trafford with lots of sendings off, a few injuries and big fines for the two clubs that are playing in that part of the North West at lunchtime. If we’re going to look at the glass being half full, at least one of those two teams will have dropped points come Match of the Day tonight.

As for Arsenal and Arsene, we had the customary pre-match press conference and Le Boss seemed to be in a jolly enough mood. This was probably in part down to the fact that a) we’ve had a good pre season, b) people are saying we’re in with a shout of the league, c) he was only half-heartedly asked about transfers, and d) the football is back for him. We all know how obsessed he is with the game, so summer must be a tortuous period for him and most people with which football is their livelihood. So he was probably quite excited to be back – even doing the press conference was probably quite tolerable for him.

We got most of the team news on Thursday, so we know there will be no Jack, Welbeck Rosicky or Alexis, but as expected Arsene admitted that Alexis might be back sooner rather than later. Estimating that he’ll be potentially ready in ten days wouldn’t have surprised anyone, because the Chilean is the embodiment of all good things to do with football. He just loves playing and he’ll be like a tightly wound coil ready to be unsprung next week in training, I’m sure, so that’s all good to hear.

The phrases used by the boss shows just how much he thinks there’s something in this team. Talking about ‘fighting spirit’ and being ‘up for the challenge’ is nothing new for us, but I’ve rarely believed it with such conviction as now. He is being cautiously optimistic about the teams chances of winning our first league title in over a decade, but that’s what you’d expect, because he’ll get pelters if he pulls out another “we could go unbeaten” again and it doesn’t happen. Let’s leave the arrogance and ugly characteristics to the Portuguese in West London.

Arsene also talked about the unknown quantity of the other squads in the division and how we still don’t know how the top of the table will shape up. He didn’t lead down the line of enquiry of stopping the transfer window as soon as the football starts, but it’s certainly something I’d advocate, for that very reason. As it stands, I’d be pretty happy with the opposition that we’re up against, but if there are some mega moves in the transfer market, I don’t know about you, but it does make me nervous. It’s fear of the unknown you see. Before a player has kicked a ball they are a world beater – think Falcao at United last season – but when the football kicks in often so does reality. But because Arsenal haven’t been overhauling their squad like some others, there’s always a bit of a fear that a club like Liverpool could actually ‘click’.

I should probably look back historically and see that root and branch changes don’t usually result in success, but unfortunately I’m an irrational football fan, which you can see by the fact that I’ve been writing all summer about continuity and how I’m pleased we’re not snapping up new players left, right and centre, yet now I’m admitting that I’m nervous of the opposition we face at the top of the league!

That’s why it’s always good to have the football start, because the speculation and the expectation soon give way to reality and as we’ve seen over the last few seasons, the reality is often that Arsenal are pretty decent and pretty consistent. We just need to make that next step now and win the league. Just a small thing….

Arsene was asked about Benzema so I suppose I should mention it, because although he dismissed it as media speculation, the noises about his imminent arrival seem to have picked up again. I’m not particularly interested in that and I’m sick of the ITKs, but talk of him arriving on Sunday amuses me. What, has somebody seen his name on the flight details of an Easyjet plane from Madrid to Stansted or something? Don’t be ridiculous. These people know nothing and so it’s best just focusing on the existing players who will be trying to score us plenty of goals and bag points on Sunday. That’s what’s real and that’s what I’m going to invest my emotions in to.

That’s it from me for today. I have a stag do to prepare for, so I’ll make my excuses and leave you to get on with your Saturday.

Victoria Concordia Crescit – never been more applicable than now

The official dot com site must be as excited about the return to football as us lot, because despite the fact that Arsène’s presser isn’t until a little later this morning, we have a veritable smorgasbord of stories to pour over before Le Boss even takes centre stage.

Thankfully, they’re all positive, unlike the news on Jack’s injury yesterday. The team news appears to be good, with Welbeck and Rosicky back in ‘progressive’ training today, which I for one am thankful for because I’d probably recommend they refrained from ‘regressive’ training. Ahh Shad and his revolutionary fitness and condition ideas, eh?

The return of Alexis and his perpetual motion is also well timed and, whilst I’ve heard a few whispers about him being saved for the month of August, if he’s not at least on the bench by the time Liverpool at home comes around I’d be stunned. I mean, the guy was doing sprint work on holiday for crying out loud, so he won’t be able to be kept at bay for too long. He probably runs in his sleep. It’s a good job he’s got plenty of money and a small frame, because he could afford a bigger bed so as not to injury his lady friend or his dogs.

With or without our Chilean Energiser Bunny, we’ve still got a hatful of options, but the fact he has such desire to return really is pleasing to see. Last season the other players took note and I think they’ll all be trying to have some of his special mojo rubbing off on them, so if it means we’ll have players who are running that extra hard for feel that he’ll make them look bad, then I’m all for it. That’s what competition does for players; they all want to up their game and in a season where one or two pundits are even tipping us for glory, we need all of the drive and determination from the players that we can get.

We also need unity. Arsène had another say about the signing of Theo and Santi and the video was released on the official site yesterday with him talking about the continuity and importance of it to a team. You only have to look at Sven Goran-Erikson’s City, or AVB’s Spuds, or Brendan’s Scousers to see how bringing about root and branch changes to a squad comes with complications. Players don’t know what runs are being made, there might be confusion over positions defensively and sometimes partnerships just don’t work, so I’ll be if you asked ten managers in the Premier League they’d all tell you they’d prefer a settled squad above any amount of transfer dealings. 

Santi and Theo’s signatures were vital to show that The Arsenal is now a collective of people all in it ‘for the long haul’ and wanting to grow together to be successful. Victoria Concordia Crescit folks, Victory Through Harmony. Both seem really pleased too. Whether it’s Theo talking about Arsenal as his second home, or Santi talking about how Arsenal is the perfect place for him, the sense I get as an Arsenal fan is that all of the players are pulling in the same direction. With characters like Gallas and Bendtner six years ago, how can you say that was true for us back then, eh? You can only build friendships, partnerships, understanding and a collective bond with time. It’s only in the last couple of seasons that this kind of comradeship has had the opportunity to grow. The seed was planted three years ago and it’s taken a while for the flower to grow and show its colour.

As for today’s presser, no doubt Arsène will once again be asked about Benzema, no doubt he will once again dismiss it, but I hope we get more positivity about the balance and harmony in the team. That’s what I want to hear from today’s presser, because ahead of the new season, I’m one excited Gooner.

Arsenal blitz Lyon, showing the importance of a decent preseason

Well how about that for a performance from the players yesterday, eh? Six goals, none in reply from Lyon and a table-topping performance at The Emirates Cup 2015.

The trophy’s in the bag, folks, the trophy’s in the bag.

Of course we all know this is a friendly and if we were to face Lyon in the Champions League we’d most likely see a different game with a different result, but what I’m noting from all of the preseason games so far, is that the team are looking sharp, fresh and ready to hit the ground running in two weeks time. That is what we will all be taking from these preseason performances. The better a team looks whilst building up their fitness, the more likely it looks like they will get off to a flyer when the real thing happens.

I remember a couple of seasons ago when we started brilliantly in preseason. I saw an interview with John Cross in which he had mentioned how well Ramsey was playing and how cohesive we appeared as a team during the summer. Low and behold, we started with a rip-roaring first half to the season and Rambo was banging in goals left, right and centre.

That’s what it feels like to me at the moment. It feels like we’re ready to have a proper go at this league. And it’s exciting.

What’s also exciting is the prospect of getting goals all over the park. Arsène mentioned it in his post match press conference yesterday, but the fact that we had six different scorers bodes well for us. He’s spoken of the need to have more goals spread across the team and it looks like the team are responding. Cazorla and Özil (both also scoring in the Asia Trophy) are picking up goals from midfield, Rambo had a really good toe-poke yesterday which was well picked out through a sumptuous pass from Mesut, as well as Iwobi finishing smartly on his left foot after Rambo himself turned creator and found him with a neat pass.

That Iwobi fella looked alright, didn’t he? Very composed, spraying the odd ball left and right, he certainly looks to be one to keep an eye on. The key to his rise to prominence, however, will most likely be how he reacts to a loan spell. Hopefully that put him in the shop window for a few clubs, despite what the manager says. I like the idea that Arsene is saying he’ll stay with the team and has hinted that he’ll potentially be used, but I can’t really see it other than the Capital One Cup and I do wonder if that is the best route for a player, if another Premier League club were to show interest, for example. Surely it’s far better to give Iwobi 30 games in a season playing for a Championship/Premier League club, like we did with Wilshere at Bolton, than to have him kicking his heels until the League Cup comes around (which we’ll play a round less than some Premier League teams because we’re in Europe)?

Hey, what do I know, I don’t know the players personally, I’m just a fan and Arsene will know what’s best for the boy so I’ll not get too worked up. He’s in safe hands.

But anyway, back to yesterday, in which I think a lot of fans will have watched the game and thought that we’re ready. We are. Just look at who played in last seasons Emirates Cup. Our scorers were Sanogo and Campbell on the day we beat Benfica 5-1 and although you look at those two and question how deep our squad was, these days you look at the line up and realise that even with rotation – which Arsene will do again today, there’s no doubt – we have a deep squad. No more littering the team with youngsters who won’t get near the first team, like we were doing four years ago. This competition shows that we have to switch things around and when we do, it’s first teamers and internationals that are playing.

In truth the second half became even more of a testimonial affair than anything else, because we’d stunned Lyon like the pray of a poisonous snake who strikes and then takes its time to devour its prey. Four goals in nine minutes just before half time saw to that. We set up aggressively and it paid off against a Lyon team who will no doubt chalk it down to pre season rustiness, but the same can’t be said of Arsenal. The passing looked composed, Mesut kicked on from where he left last season and pulled the strings and it was great to see The Ox back on track and firing, because if he can have an injury-free season he can be a big player for us I’m sure.

We didn’t see Petr Cech but Martinez did well enough in goal, beating away a few chances and he’s looking all the more like a ‘keeper and not a kid. I’m fairly certain that he’ll be one to go out on loan when Ospina comes back. He has to be, because he’s at an age now where he’ll want to play more regularly and we need to see if he’s going to be the player the club hopes he can be. Or at least do enough to secure a permanent move. Let’s face it, his route to number one is pretty choca-block right now.

So all-in-all a very good performance that underlines the importance of a decent preseason that isn’t interrupted by international competitions, injury or other disruption. Next weekend’s Community Shield should be fun. I can’t wait.

Speak tomorrow.

One heck of a tour, one Hect of a player

Today will be an interesting test for the team because, as Arsène described at his pre-game presser in Singapore, both Everton and Stoke were really up for their game and there were plenty of ‘committed’ tackles going in.

You hear things like that and the first thing you think of as a fan is “I really hope they go easy. It’s only a friendly” because as much as you want the matches to be a bit competitive so the team can get up to speed on their fitness, the last thing we need is to start the season missing players, we’ve already lost Alexis and Rosicky remember.

So whilst I’m looking forward to seeing a more senior XI playing this afternoon (UK time), I hope everyone remembers the real thing doesn’t start for at least a couple of weeks.

The tour appears – by and large – to have been a success and whilst Le Boss is surprised by the facilities, passion, volume of fans, etc, I don’t think there’s many of us online who had the same amount of surprise when seeing the turn out for the friendlies and the kit launch. Football is big business these days and Arsenal are a global brand with a massive online community – the biggest – so for those fans out there who don’t get to travel to see the real thing in the Premier League, this is a great opportunity that they were always going to take. I salute those Asian fans. We are all one big community and I’m glad you got your opportunity to get up close and personal with the players.

As for those players, Arsène has laid down a challenge for Bellerin and with him about to sign a new deal after an exceptional season, this season could be even bigger for him than last. I’d expect Debuchy to start the season as first choice, but if the young Spaniard manages to de-throne the Frenchman by having another consist set of performances, we could be looking at quite a player on our hands. At his age he has all the potential to become a bit of a Lee Dixonesque style legend at the club. As long as he doesn’t do lobbing his own ‘keeper from 30 yards against Coventry!!

He seems to have his head screwed on right though. He comes across very well in interviews and has said about how he himself still has trouble seeing himself as one of the first team squad. Let me tell you Hect, you better believe it because you have some massive potential, my friend.

So too, if you believe Arsène, does Yaya Sanogo. He joins Ajax on a season long loan which was confirmed yesterday by both clubs and the tall Frenchman was pictured in the Ajax kit signing a loan deal for 2015/16. I admire Arsène’s belief in the player and who knows, playing with a better calibre of players, in the Champions League, as well as being under the tutelage of the Master Dennis Bergkamp, he may turn in to that player Arsène believes. But with rumours of Benzema not going away (much will also be made of the comments by Arsène when he said “not at the moment” when directly asked), you can’t help but think that his opportunity may not be made available at the club. Football is often a game of fortune when it comes to players breaking through – Bellerin and Coquelin the prime examples of that – and you just wonder whether the availability of another megastar might end up signalling the end of Sanogo’s chance at the club. Let’s hope Arsène’s right and he does do the business at Ajax though, because it’s always nicer to see young players come through, in my opinion.

Letting Singapore have them for a bit

A pre-season friendly that’s actually on Sky Sports you say? Well jolly good. I think I might just…oh…yeah…right….that work thing I have to do. Dagnamit! Unless…my phone has Sky Go, so maybe, just maybe…

The ever enthralling world of an Arsenal fan during pre season, eh? Probably a bit selfish of me to expect Arsenal to be playing at a time convenient to me over here in muggy England. After all, I get to see Arsenal at convenient times for nine months of the year, so I just ditch my initial irritation and be happy for the Singaporeans. After all, those guys have to watch Champions League football at some ungodly hour, so it’s only right that they get a bit of convenience every once in a while.

It’s probably got more to do with the fact that we’ve all been starved of football for nearly too much, actually, because normally I wouldn’t be batting an eyelid. But if a week is a long time in politics, two months is a life sentence in football, so that’s why I’m quite desperate to see the team line up at the moment.

I think it’s also got something to do with the excitement ahead of this season. We’ve assembled quite a team over the last few seasons and for the first time in a long time, I have not for one second been overly concerned with getting more quality bodies in. Our squad already has quality bodies. We’re very well balanced at the moment. A nice blend of youth and experience, plenty of depth in all positions, so for once when Arsène is asked about potential signings and tells assembled media boss that he will only augment his team with players of exceptional quality, I believe him. I have to admit it stretched the limits of my belief when he would make a statement and follow it up by signing Marouene Chamakh on a free from Bordeaux, but right now, I don’t think there are many players out there that we could pick up for £8-£10million that would be better than the ones we have. We’re looking for superstars now. We’re shopping in the ‘Galactico’ aisle and let’s be honest, we’re only picking one of those up if other big clubs are willing to sell.

And I’m perfectly fine with Arsenal waiting to see if there is a big name out there to compliment our team.

We’re also not a selling club any more. Rumours of Özil attracting interest from Juventus were given short shrift by Arsène in Singapore and rightly so. Juventus may be Champions League runners-up, but the Italian league is a busted flush and Arsène already made his intentions clear with Özil last summer when he declined the option on Fabregas, because of his desire to build a team around the German. Why on earth would be let Özil go? We don’t need the money, although given the amount we paid for him I can’t see us wanting anything less than what we paid plus more, which Juve couldn’t afford. We don’t look like we have a player who isn’t enjoying his football in any way, shape, or form. The transfer rumour was rightly shot down and can happily be filed under ‘silly season nonsense’.

With that all put to bed, the next bit of a circus was around the new kit launch, which I have to say it was a nice (and clever) touch to release the away kit in Singapore. These kinds of kit launches are normally reserved for the outside of the Emirates, but with overseas fans showing just how mad they are for the club, it’s a good gesture and PR move to have it whilst on tour in the Far East.

We’ll ignore the fact that by now releasing a new home and away kit each season the club and its kit manufacturers are finding another way to eek a bit more cash out of fans worldwide. I suppose every team seems to do it these days, so Arsenal are doing nothing new, but in an age where every footballing tradition appears to be slowly whittling away (don’t even get me started on Saturday 3pm kick offs!), it was nice when the club would keep the tradition of alternating kits every odd season. I’m not a parent, but I’m sure it saved plenty of mums and dads a headache when they new the purchase of a £40 shirt was once every year, rather than twice every year. But hey, life moves on, football moves on and besides, it’s not like I really buy kits for myself any more, so I should probably just let it go.

Anyway, that’s all I’ve got for today, on account of my right thumb aching after a bit of a fight with a serrated edge and a piece of Jambon Serrano that I’m down to the bone on after six months of having it. Suffice to say I lost.

Heartbreak for Welbeck and a hint on Theo vs Giroud?

So who’da thunk that FIFA were a corrupt collection of cheating no-good-for-nothing’s, eh? Then, quelle surprise, who’da thought that Sepp would persist with the FIFA elections to ensure his dictatorship remains for another however many years, by not postponing the election process after this latest set of troubles?

Well, everybody, actually.

Even Arsene had his say yesterday and whilst he can’t exactly be as vocal in his comments about football’s governing body, he was a eloquent as ever in talking about the issues surrounding the recent spate of arrests, stating that the worst ting of all is rumours and FIFA should be more transparent and open about telling the world what the issues are and how to address them.

But of course we know they are not designed like that. Heck, they hired a high-powered lawyer to chair an ethics committee, then promptly dismissed his findings when he had serious issues with the way the organisation is run, refusing the publish the results, then glossing over them completely. So what do we expect?

Still, the moral bankruptcy of those in Switzerland who purport to have the sport’s interest at heart are but a small footnote in the most important news this week leading in to the weekend, which is all around the FA Cup, team news and Arsene’s presser, in which he confirmed Welbeck is out. It’s a shame because he had such a great impact in this cup competition by navigating us past the choppy waters of Old Trafford. He’ll be rightly gutted and you have to feel for him. Football is a short career and even if you’re at a team that is towards the top of the division, you probably only get around 10 attempts to play in cup finals if you’re lucky, so to miss out on one for this season will be a big blow.

I thought it was interesting that Arsene talked about the importance and the impact of subs in games like Saturday’s, after he was asked about Giroud and Walcott. If you read my usual ramblings, you’ll know that I’d be an advocate of them both starting, with Walcott out wide, but Le Boss’ comments yesterday suggest that he’ll go with one or the other and see one of Olivier or Theo as an impact sub. Again, my money would be on Theo to be that impact sub. It would be harsh on him given he’s just hit a hat trick, but as I’ve said before, I don’t see Theo and Rambo working in the same team. They would both occupy similar positions in and around the box, so if Rambo is preferred I’d expect Giroud to be given the nod.

As usual the questions were a bit boring and even those designed to be provocative (one guy repeatedly asked about Jose Mourinho’s comments, Arsene expectantly dismissive and moved the conversations along), but we still got a few snippets that we can over-analyse to our hearts content. Arsene talked up Benteke and the importance of him and I think keeping him quiet will probably be the secret to any success we have on Saturday evening. He’s their talisman – super Timmy Sherwood aside! – and will be a thorn in our side for sure. I do wish that the reporters would drill manager’s a bit more than they did yesterday about the opposition. Arsene gave platitudes out to Grealish yesterday and showed that he’s got good knowledge of a player with whom some of us will have only seen once or twice, which is the kind of thing I want to hear in press conferences. Ahead of the FA Cup I’m not interested in rumours about Benzema or whoever, what I want to know is whether Arsene has a clear understanding of the threats that Villa will pose and a clear understanding of what they might try to do. He doesn’t have to give up all of his plans, but if he’s probed about players, tactics of the opposition, etc, surely that makes not a lot of difference to how he will set his team up? It isn’t really going to give anybody a better insight in to who he might pick and it certainly isn’t going to make Sherwood spit out his morning mocha by saying “holy cr*ap, he knows about us. That’s it, we’re all getting in to the Anderson Shelter and not coming out until 5pm on Saturday”.

But what do I know. I’m not a professional journalist. I haven’t hacked anyone’s phone for a start.

Anyway, I think i’ll call it a day and crack on with the household chores for the day. Cheery bye!

Fanciful transfer stuff from presser

Happy Saturday to you and your kin. My weekend started early due to some annual leave I’ve been soaking in for the last few days, but at least there’s been some football – albeit some pretty semi-shocking football on Wednesday – to keep me busy. I’ve been through my thoughts on the midweek action and I’m glad we’ve got another game coming up quickly, because the bad taste bought about by three games without scoring at home need to be readdressed, because it’s not exactly condusive to a positive preparation for an FA Cup final if we fizzle out at the end of the season.

Arsène spoke to the press and as we’d all probably expect with the season drawing to a close and our game tomorrow almost a dead rubber, the focus was on all of the millions of billions of players we’re going to sign, but having watched the presser on Arsenal.com it seemed like Arsène was in relatively good form. To be fair to him, he’s probably happy he gets a summer off from press conferences in which stupid questions are asked by the same people each week.

He can spend the summer answering stupid questions from people in other continents when the squad go on tour instead.

The focus was around Sterling and Cech and unsurprisingly Arsène was non-committal in what he was saying. I was actually more interested in his assertion that Tomas Rosicky would be staying at the club and not only that, but he’d be extending his current deal – a full video can be found on the official site here. That seems a bit of a surprise to me because like Flamini, he’s become a bit of a forgotten man since all of the squad has managed to maintain their fitness since the start of the year. It’s a shame because each time he’s got on I’ve seen a good performance by him, so I’d have thought he’d have been given a bit more game time. But competition is so intense at the moment in the middle of  the park, that Arsène is leaving out very good players on match days alone, so it gives us an indication of how hard it is for Rozza to break through.

I’d be surprised if he’s still at the club by the time a ball is kicked in the new season. I suspect Arsène is simply saying those expectations of him staying because he wants to keep everyone happy, but the one man who won’t be happy is Tomas himself.

As for his impact on signing Cech for us, somehow I don’t think that will impact the ‘keepers decision on where he goes, or whether Arsène wants to sign him anyway. I like that Arsène isn’t dismissing the signing of that of Sterling, but I doubt we’ll be signing either this summer. Sterling will want the mega bucks and so Moneychester City will probably throw a big wad of cash at it, so I can’t see that happening, if I’m honest.

As for Cech, I suspect Chelski are simply publicly playing the PR card, because I can’t see why they’d sell to either Arsenal or Man United. Jose is a man who couldn’t countenance selling/loaning us Demba Ba, so why on earth he would change his tune now is beyond me. It also remains to be seen as to whether Arsène even wants another ‘keeper. It’s all very well you and I talking about it, but we thought we needed a striker a year and a half ago, then another defender in the summer, but Arsène didn’t see it that way. So we do have a precedent.

The team news looks fairly samey from Wednesday night, with Arsène needing to decide how he’s going to rotate based on tired legs. It’s the last chance to impress before the cup final so I think we’ll see a few rotated, but whether Arsène goes the whole hog and swaps his entire team around I suspect is unlikely. More on that particular guessing game tomorrow. For now, I think I will enjoy my Saturday and hope that Middlesbrough make it to the Premier League, because I want to see three Notth East teams and three chances of heading up there next season.