It has begun!!! Silly season is upon us and will not cease until 23.00 BST on the 31st of August. Until then we shall be linked with 452 keepers, 1021 CB’s to replace Vermaelen (because the media tells us he’s leaving), 289 RB’s (because Sagna is leaving and the media don’t do enough homework to know we have Carl Jenkinson on our books), 45 672 strikers (or just multiple variations involving Higuain, Jovetic, Villa, and Rooney), and 3 stories about Isco (created by incessant phone calls to Talksport by an individual under the alias of GLIC). You know what though…I love it! Yes they can get a bit repetitive, tiresome, and leave us more than a little angry when they don’t come to fruition. But what else are we going to do in the off-season? It’s too long to be without the Arsenal, and like any drug addict I need my fix…or I’ll KILL YA!
Wherever I am, a transfer update page is open on my computer screen and updated regularly (I’m sure a lot of your do the same). If there is nothing I’ll sift through the comments on BK to see who has the inside gossip.
Being linked with a player allows us to drift off for a second (or in VCC’s case, drift off for a mini nap) and think about how well he would fit in our team. This can leave us toying with the idea for quite some time. Cesc back??? What happens to Jack? Do we shape the team around him? Is he going to bring the best out of Theo? Will he punch Reina in the face this time if he tries to put a Barcelona shirt on him again? All important questions!!!
Flying the coop:
Stories will definitely be circulating about Vermaelen (captain not starting media assume he’s not happy), Sagna (heading into his last year and media will jump on previous comments and Arsene not signing up older players), and Arsene himself (last year surely he’ll leave blah blah blah).
Then there are the youngsters: Miquel, Henderson and Coquelin may want more game time?
Frimpong is injured again and is out for 8 weeks, will we resign him? (I hope we do, his injury troubles have curtailed his development, but I like Frimpong and I think (given an injury free run) he is good enough to be our future DM.
Djourou: You would assume is unlikely to be in our future plans so is unlikely to leave.
What to do with Denilson (please Dennis help him leave!!!), Bendtner, Park, and Santos? Hopefully all sold to loosen up the wage bill for incoming players.
Squillaci, Chamakh, and Arshavin will be out the door. Will Fabianski and Mannone depart? Hull has been promoted and may line up a bid for Mannone. He enjoyed his loan spell there and I’m sure Hull supporters would love to see him between the sticks again.
Lukas Podolski – £11,000,000 Draw (injuries have meant we haven’t see what Lukas is capable as of yet)
Olivier Giroud – £13,000,000 Win/Draw (team didn’t utilise Giroud fully, good patches and bad. Will come good)
Santi Cazorla – £20,000,000 WIN WIN WIN!!! (absolute gem. Cheap as chips and top little player)
Nacho Monreal – £8,300,000 Win (another shrewd bit of business. Just what we needed with Gibbs’ history)
BSR, Vela, Bartley, Song, Lansbury, and Almunia
Carl Jenkinson – £1,000,000 Win (Improved immensely. Arsenal through and through. Legend in the making)
Gervinho – £10,600,000 Loss (jury is out on Gerv. I don’t mind him but hasn’t shown enough)
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – £12,000,000 WIN WIN!!! (Possibilities are endless with this kid!)
Joel Campbell – £950,000 Draw (still a relative unknown, shown glimpses. Could be another Arsene gem)
Park Chu-Young – £3,000,000 Loss (never really sure he existed. Marketing gimmick no doubt)
André Santos – £6,200,000 Loss (lost me with the BSR shirt swap. Showed glimpses, Monreal is the better choice!)
Mikel Arteta – £10,000,000 Win (new position new player! Real leader and has given his all from day one!)
Per Mertesacker – £10,000,000 Win (slow start but the leader of our defence. Steadied the ship and helped Koscielny)
Thomas Eisfeld – £400,000 Draw (big hopes for Eisfeld. Goal scoring midfielder with a bright future I feel)
Fabregas, Nasri, Clichy, Traore, JET, Eboue
Marouane Chamakh – Free Loss (started well. Lost confidence and went all downhill from there)
Laurent Koscielny – £10,000,000 WIN WIN WIN!!! (top notch defender, only getting better and an Arsene gem)
Sebastien Squillaci – £4,000,000 Loss (collected his pair slip, not suited for the EPL given the stage of his career)
Ryo Miyaichi – Undisclosed Draw (injuries have ruined his chances. Impressive highlight reel. One for the future hopefully)
Senderos, Eduardo, Simpson, Merida
Grade = B
Yes we lost the Brave Sir Robin to our enemies but after his stunt we really had no choice but to get rid of him (I know some of you would have kept him for another year, but it would have been too toxic to the players. Anyway we’ve done that to death).
With his departure we gained Santi Cazorla…and what a revelation he has been in his first season (don’t think so? Read what other supporters think about him below!). With a grade A striker in front of him he will flourish. We have more than adequate cover for Gibbs with Spanish international Monreal. It will be an interesting tussle between the two left backs and hopefully they can bring the best out of one another.
Song was a big loss I feel. I hope he comes back to Arsenal after having a tough first season at Barcelona. Podolski was affected by injuries for most of the season so I don’t think we really know what he’s capable of as yet! Giroud’s form was up and down. He gives his best for the team and will be a handy squad player giving us that PLAN B.
Grade = C
Fabregas couldn’t fight his DNA and finally moved back to Barcelona. It was a massive loss and he left a crater in our midfield! The season long injury to young Jack didn’t help matters either. Fat boy Nasri left also. He set the premier league on fire for 6 months but hasn’t done much since. 22 million for him was a good bit of business. The Ox was a great purchase and will be a world beater in time. Jenks made everyone eat a little humble pie. His spirit and determination is a joy to watch. Arteta and BFG brought with them leadership and much need experience. Unfortunately Santos and Gervinho didn’t deliver. The loss of Clichy hurt given, repetitive injuries to Gibbs and an abdominal injury to Santos.
Grade = B-
Not a whole lot lost, but not a whole lot gained either. Koscielny has the potential to drive the grade higher if he continues to improve. Eduardo had to depart because he was a shadow of his former self.
This week’s Arsenal Archive goes back to 2000. We lost our Dutch left-winger Marc Overmars in the summer to Barcelona for £25 million. How on earth could we replace the ‘Roadrunner’? Simple…go out and sign French ace Robert Pirès for £6 million. Initially he found English football tough to handle, but once he got settled in he never looked back. In 2001/02 he won the Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the year and Arsenal’s player of the season. After 189 appearances and 62 goals Pirès left Arsenal, but he will always be remember as one of the best ever to put on the Arsenal kit. Here’s to you Bobby Pirès, thanks for the magical moments.
One to Watch:
What will become of our Captain Courageous/fearless leader/the Lion of Flanders? Will he continue the captain’s curse and fall on his sword? Or will he put his head down and work his socks off over the pre-season and become the player we all know he’s capable of? I think it’ll be the latter! Vermaelen doesn’t look like a quitter who walks out when the going gets tough. Yes he has been replaced in the starting 11 but run to another club with his tail between his legs…I think not! I expect him to kick Arsene’s door down and tell him he’s ready to fight. Arsenal will be a better team if he fights for his position, not only for his development, but for the benefit of BFG and Koscielny.
My special transfer edition finger goes to the newspapers who print/report nonsense time and time again. We constantly hear ‘sources’ or ‘reports’ etc etc but some of the things suggested in these articles are complete rubbish. Here is a look at which newspapers to look at over the summer transfer window, and which to wipe your behind with [courtesy of footballtransferleague.co.uk (all data collected since 2006)]:
I suppose if you use the scattergun approach you’re bound to be right sooner or later.
‘Pre-Match’ pat on the back:
A pat on the back goes out to any player signed by Arsenal over the transfer window. Welcome aboard, you have made it to the best club in football today. Arsene deserves a lot of credit for his work over the transfer window also. I’m sure he never sleeps and I feel it’s the busiest time of the year for him.
My biggest pat on the back goes to anyone willing to take Denilson off our hands! Please someone take him, I can’t bear the thought of him playing in the Arsenal kit again. It’d be enough to turn a man into a lunatic!
Seeing him watch Jenas as he sprints by. Pat Rice yelling at him to get off the ground and to carry on. Seeing him fall over like he was shot when no one was around…ARGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!
This week ‘Ask the opposition’ returns to help with our transfer window needs. It is designed to get some friendly banter from our opposition fans and get their insight for the match ahead. This week we see returning Chelsea fan CD from chelseadaft.org , James from http://scfc2.co.uk/ (@swansinfo), Paul from tomkinstimes.com, and a host of other opposition supporters from various blogs. Thanks for your help gents!
1) What area/s of weakness does Arsenal have on the pitch?
Redwhiteandermblue (Spurs): I don’t like your new strikers. Podolski’s okay but no more, and Giroud’s a French Andy Carroll, but with less technique. The fact they score is because they’re at the end of a Wenger-trained team with some very talented players in it. I’ve always been a Walcott fan. He made a considerable step up this year, and may continue to improve–I think the question may be how much time he’s willing to put into training. Your defending has improved immensely since you benched Vermaelen. I’m still not a Mertesacker fan. You don’t have a DM, but I’m not sure that’s a weakness. I’ve gotten to like Arteta over time.
Now suffering in Spain (Spurs): You badly need a D.M.
Spurs disciple (Spurs): Arsenal’s weaknesses are that they lack width (even from the fullbacks) and a defensive midfielder – not a role I would ever have expected Arteta to play in is Everton days.
Human being in Croydon (Spurs): Their weakness isn’t on the pitch; it’s marauding around the technical area.
Roo (Spurs): DM, RB and in need of another striker.
Spurs or Sex? (Spurs): I think you lack a clinical finisher, a DM and most certainly a goal keeper.
Alberts Chip Shop (Newcastle): poor goalkeeper and poor defence plus lack of a DCM
Se7en (Man U): GK, centre back, right back, central midfield & wide forward/striker.
Cordon726 (Man U): GK, CB, RB, CDM, ST
CD (Chelsea): I look at Arsenal from the outside in and it’s always been the spine of the team in recent seasons that appears to be the problem. Any side that loses the likes of Fabregas, Song and Van Persie needs to ensure they have players that can replace those people in those areas and I don’t believe that Arsenal have.
Right now, I would say that a holding midfielder and a 20-30 goal a season striker is what the Arsenal need. Arteta isn’t a ball winner, Wilshire isn’t and Rosicky isn’t. Ramsey works hard all game but again, I wouldn’t categorise him as a holding midfielder.
I would play Theo Walcott through the middle up top for a full season as I believe he could be another “Henry” but I’m not the manager. Those are the two main areas Arsenal MUST strengthen this summer to challenge.
James (Swansea): To me, Arsenal seem to lack a real goal scorer and a top class finisher that I would expect from a top 4 club. Maybe Giroud will be that man but you don’t seem to have replaced RVP yet (but that is difficult to do!) I also feel you’re a bit brittle in the centre of defence and lack a real leader back there. I always remember Arsenal sides based upon their defensive leadership and strength but no you can’t have Ashley Williams
Paul (Liverpool): I do think that goalkeeper has been a problem for several seasons, based on what I have seen.
Schad (Southampton): 1. Inconsistency in central defence.
2. Lack of a midfield anchor for the games where it’s needed.
4. Could use a world-class striker, but who couldn’t. Attack is top-four worthy as is, just probably not going to drag you to a title in the near future.
TomW19 (Southampton): Right back, Centre back, maybe also in defensive midfield.
SM (Hull): I think Arsenal’s main weakness at the moment is that they are lacking a solid striker. With RVPs departure neither Podolski nor Giroud has really stepped up and claimed the spot. Podolski hasn’t even really been played up forward.
2) What player/s would improve that weakness?
Redwhiteandermblue (Spurs): Erm, Jovetic or Higuain, to name a couple.
Now suffering in Spain (Spurs): A player like Sandro ( No! You can’t have him)
Spurs disciple (Spurs): If they had Lennon/Ben Arfa and Sandro/Fellaini they would be title chasing.
Human being in Croydon (Spurs): A defensive midfielder is a must (Tiote might slot in well) as well as a decent keeper. Cesar would be a good bet, as QPR have to get rid of him ASAP.
Roo (Spurs): not sure but it’d have to be top top quality.
Spurs or Sex? (Spurs): You never replaced Song, whom I thought was a very good DM. Someone like Matuidi would be great for you. Maybe Song himself would want a return seeing as Barca use him sparingly.
Alberts Chip Shop (Newcastle): Krul / Cesar, Sissoko, Mbiwa.
Se7en (Man U): Cesar/Begovic/Mignolet, Piszcek/Richards, Williams/Vertonghen, Strootman/Fabregas/Cabaye/Song, Jovetic/Alexis/Ben Arfa/Muniain/Higuain.
Cordon726 (Man U): GK- I think Julio Cesar would be a great signing.
CB- Not sure who, but the defender needs to have pace.
RB- either M. Richards or M. Lowton.
CDM- I think Arsenal should try to resign A. Song.
ST- Benteke or Lacina Traore from Anzhi
CD (Chelsea): There isn’t many holding midfielders up to the standard to choose from is there. Someone like Tiote from Newcastle would be ideal but to be honest anyone who is prepared to sit, win a tackle and then give the ball to someone else would do these days!
As for up top for the Arsenal, I would play Walcott there but if you had to bring someone in, why not someone like Higuain from Real Madrid. A proven, natural goal scorer? Just imagine if you were prepared to spend big and you were able to bring someone like Falcao in? Imagine just how many goals he would score!
James (Swansea): I think that Arsenal should try and sign someone like Benteke from Aston Villa. He could be a help I think
Paul (Liverpool): There are some very good goalkeepers out there. Szczesny is fine for his age, but not exceptional, and hasn’t quite got that authority yet. With Reina possibly moving to Barcelona, we may be in for the same keepers!
Schad (Southampton): 1. Kyriakos Papadopoulos seems to be getting tossed around as a possibility for every English club.
2. Someone who is not Morgan Schneiderlin because we will cut you.
3. Someone who is not Gervinho.
4. The usual £40m suspects.
TomW19 (Southampton): Micah Richards, Srna, Sahin.
3) Jovetic or Higuain?
Redwhiteandermblue (Spurs): Higuain, but I haven’t seen Jovetic that much.
Now suffering in Spain (Spurs): Not sure on that one – not seen enough of either.
Spurs disciple (Spurs): Higuain – though neither scare me from what I’ve seen.
Human being in Croydon (Spurs): Higuain.
Roo (Spurs): Higuain.
Spurs or Sex? (Spurs): Giroud has done OK in his first year but I don’t see him ever becoming a threat like Henry/ van Persie and for a club like Arsenal being a “good” striker won’t really cut it. Higuain would be ideal for you guys I think.
Alberts Chip Shop (Newcastle): Jovetic.
Se7en (Man U): Higuain, haven’t seen Jovetic play as much.
Cordon726 (Man U): Higuain if I had to choose, but both are good. I would prefer Benteke or Traore.
CD (Chelsea): Higuain all day. I would take him as soon as he was offered to us; I believe he is that good. You have strikers that have to work hard at their game and others where it comes naturally to them. Higuain is a natural and top drawer.
James (Swansea): Higuain
Paul (Liverpool): Both are very good players. Higuain is a reliable scorer, Jovetic is more versatile and has more flair, playing out wide as well as through the middle. Rafa Benítez wanted Jovetic and Aquilani in 2009, and funds were taking away from him for the former. Instead we went into the season short of strikers and it all fell apart.
More injured than Owen (Liverpool): You can afford but won’t get Jovetic. I think Higuain would be a huge deal for you and fits the style
Schad (Southampton): Higuain; more of an out-and-out goalscorer.
TomW19 (Southampton): Higuain
SM (Hull): I think Jovetic should do quite well for you guys if the move is completed.
4) Julio Cesar or Szczesney?
Redwhiteandermblue (Spurs): Cesar. Szcz has proven to be a good pundit. Too bad about the keeping.
Now suffering in Spain (Spurs): Cesar
Spurs disciple (Spurs): Cesar next season. Chesney will be decent in the future, but still not mature enough for a keeper.
Human being in Croydon (Spurs): Cesar.
Roo (Spurs): Neither.
Spurs or Sex? (Spurs): Julio Cesar is 10x better than Chesney. From what I’ve seen of Chesney, he makes the odd save here and there but is too error prone. Cesar is one of the world’s best, **** knows why he went QPR (money).
Alberts Chip Shop (Newcastle): Cesar.
Se7en (Man U): Cesar, his signing wouldn’t threaten Chesney’s long term No. 1 slot either.
Cordon726 (Man U): Cesar without a doubt.
CD (Chelsea): Believe it or not I would say Szczesney all day over Julio Cesar. He is young, learning the game and is already a good shot stopper. Someone like him will only improve and in time will prove his worth.
James (Swansea): Don’t rate either of them!
Paul (Liverpool): Szczesny. He’s still quite young and should improve with time. Cesar was great but not sure he’s that special anymore.
More injured than Owen (Liverpool): Cesar isn’t great, not messing about here. Szczesney is inconsistent but a better bet. Why pay the wages for a crap Brazilian?
Schad (Southampton): Not Julio Cesar.
TomW19 (Southampton): Szczesney
SM (Hull): I think Cesar is past his best, so I think sticking with Szczesney is probably the best option, though signing Cesar as back up might be a promising move.
5) What player would you buy from Arsenal and why?
Redwhiteandermblue (Spurs): Cazorla, in a heart-beat, if we were willing to pay for him (Ha. Ha. Ha.). We need a first rate playmaker. Cazorla may have edged Mata for best playmaker all-PL, to me. Good as Mata is, he has more to work with. I can only guess you start Cazorla on the wing because you feel obligated to start Wilshire in the center. Your team is therefore better w/o Wilshire. Incidentally, I used to rate Wilshire very highly, though I dislike his chavvy ways. Now I’m afraid he’s joining the list of young players who become injury-riddled through overuse. Too bad, because I don’t want anyone injured.
Now suffering in Spain (Spurs): Cazorla – classy player.
Spurs disciple (Spurs): Cazorla. Exactly the sort of player we need. Next best bets are Wishere and Walcott. The rest I wouldn’t want at all, as they are not improvements on what we have.
Human being in Croydon (Spurs): Cazorla would fit in well at Spurs, as he’s the sort of player we need – a creative midfielder who scores goals.
Roo (Spurs): Cazorla. – Your best player by miles IMO. And scores a fair few goals from midfield, which we lack massively.
Spurs or Sex? (Spurs): I’d take Cazorla in a heartbeat. Looks class
Alberts Chip Shop (Newcastle): Walcott – pace to burn.
Se7en (Man U): We have already signed your best player last year so would have to say Wilshere. Begging for some quality in midfield, great short and long-term option even if he does annoy me a bit.
Cordon726 (Man U): Cazorla – he’s Arsenal’s best player.
CD (Chelsea): I would take Theo Walcott off of you in a heartbeat. Anyone with pace causes problems as Chelsea have seen time and time again. If you can harness his pace and bring the best out of him as a finisher, you could have something really special on your hands. I can see it, I know other supporters can see it, I just can’t understand why Arsene Wenger doesn’t!
James (Swansea): I would love to have Santi Carzola (he would fit right in at Swansea with the Spanish connection we have)
Paul (Liverpool): Wilshire. He’s your best player, and would add something extra to Liverpool’s midfield, especially now Steven Gerard is not as all-action as of old.
More injured than Owen (Liverpool): Obvious. Wilshire, why? He’s the classiest midfielder in the prem for his age group. We don’t need Walcott or Chamberalin as we have options there ourselves.
Schad (Southampton): Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. It’d be fitting.
TomW19 (Southampton): Cazorla because he’s a good player and we need more creativity.
SM (Hull): Mannone. In a heartbeat. Looked great on his two loan spells at the club, expressed interest in joining, and would be a great keeper for us.
For the transfer window psychic prediction I got in touch with my bubbly African friend Yakman again. This is how it went down:
Oz: How many players will be signed in the transfer window?
Yakman: 4…possibly 5
Oz: Interesting! Will Jovetic be one of them?
Yakman: Yes, it looks that way!
Oz: Will Sagna and Vermaelen leave Arsenal?
Yakman: Possibly, but I think not!
Oz: Finally, will the supporters be happy with the overall outcome of the transfer window?
Yakman: Not everyone will be pleased.
Overall I’m excited by what this transfer window will bring. While I agree not everyone will be pleased (some won’t unless we sign Messi, Ronaldo, and Kompany), I think those supporters with a bit of reason will be happy and excited for what next season holds. I have complete faith in Arsene and I think this time we will have the right personnel to win the league. With a bit of patience and luck we’ll make it through this transfer window…I’ll be seeing you at the open bus parade!
“You are my Arsenal! My only Arsenal! You make me happy! When skies are grey!
You’ll never know just! How much I love you! Until you take my Arsenal away!
La la-la laaa-laaa! (OOH!) La la-la laaa-laaa! (OOH!)”
Written by: Oz Gunner