This summer it's all change at the Emirates and the Arsenal squad is changing. We've gone through the transition period which saw players like Fabregas, Ade, VP, Rosicky, Almunia, Toure, etc become better players, but this summer, maybe something envisaged by Arsene, it's time to change a few players around, refresh the squad and go full force into the new season.
Arsene, I believe, knew it would be hard to keep some of the team, as he did say that one of the main thing to do this summer was to "keep the team together". He's a man of consistency and would have liked to keep the squad together and add to it. I think we'd have signed Nasri even if Hleb had stayed as Arsene had talked about add one or two players of quality to the squad.
Of course, events have occurred and we've lost three of our players in Hleb, Flamini and Gilberto. I think Arsene was always going to let Gilberto go. Although there is a lot of ambiguity over the actual fee. Today's papers say the fee is £1m, but Sky Sports reported yesterday that the fee was £7.9m. Quite contrasting figures, with the latter being somewhere in the region that Juventus and Milan were talking about earlier this year.
With three "big names" leaving the squad, Arsene has to buy and of course he's started with Ramsey and Nasri. Two players whom I have high hopes for. Nasri in particular is a player of immense quality. Anyone who plays Football Manager or Championship Manager will know that he becomes a "top ten in the world" player... whether or not that is a gage, is up to you. But Nasri is highly regarded and Arsene has a genuine sense of excitement over the signing.
There will be a Barnet preview in the next blog, but there is a lot of hype surrounding Ramsey's appearance this weekend. It will be a prime opportunity to see the 17-year old who has been so widely talked about and featured in the tug of war between us and Man U (oh, and Everton). The new giggs? Let's wait and see. He'll feature in most of the pre-season activity, so by the start of the season we'll know much more about Aaron Ramsey.
The squad in full is: Manuel ALMUNIA (GK), Nacer BARAZITE, Nicklas BENDTNER, Gael CLICHY, DENILSON, James DUNNE, Rui FONTE, Gavin HOYTE, Justin HOYTE, Henri LANSBURY, Vito MANNONE (GK), Havard NORDTVEIT, Abu OGOGO, Aaron RAMSEY, Mark RANDALL, Paul RODGERS, Bacary SAGNA, Jay SIMPSON, Rene STEER, Wojciech SZCZESNY (GK), Armand TRAORE, Carlos VELA, Theo WALCOTT, Jack WILSHERE.
Not only will we get to see Ramsey, we'll also get to see Vela and hopefully a bit more of Walcott. Rising stars such as Jack Wilshere, Rui Fonte and Henri Lansbury are also planned to take part. I'm very excited about this game. It will be good to see Denilson in the defensive midfield position too as he may see himself deployed in that position more often this season...
Just before I go, I just want to talk about Gilberto. You can see how highly regarded he was by Arsene and Arsenal just by the way the website has attributed most of it's real estate to Gilberto pictures, stats, personal tributes and new articles. Compare that to the one post on Hleb and you can gage the difference. Of couse Gilberto will be greatly missed. Thank you GS for the years you've given us and I sincerely you go on win titles with Panathiakos... Arsenal said:
Everyone at Arsenal would like to thank Gilberto for his huge contribution to the Club both on and off the pitch, and wish him the very best for the future.
And if you’re like me and one of those of you who enjoy football football football and of course anything Arsenal related, it’s the London Master’s tomorrow (Saturday)… and there is one hell of a line up in store… In goal will be Vince Bartram and the outfield players will be made up of Ray Parlour, Andy Linighan, Scott Marshall, Danny O’Shea, Eddie McGoldrick, Matthew Joseph and Steve Morrow. Steve’s travelling from Dallas back to the UK to take part, and there is another player TBC, so it’s looks like a very exciting night in store… Just in case you don’t know, the venue etc is London Masters – Wembley Arena – Saturday 19th July 2008, 7PM. You can buy tickets here: http://www.mastersfootball.com/ticket_reg/tickets.asp?id=20]]>