We're in the money… Bentley, Ramsey, Bischoff… Champions League Preview…

I fly to sunny Fiji tonight to join up with one of my best friends for his wedding. Myself and another good friend of mine are the two best men, we’re both flying tonight (albeit in different planes), let’s pray for a safe journey! The journey itself is actually 24 hours in total. We have a little stop off in Hong Kong for some refuelling and a stop over in Syndey (where we’ll stay for a night, it’ll be my only chance to see Australia in the foreseeable future). I’ll reach Fiji on Sunday, so I should be able to write up a blog on both Saturday and Sunday. I’ve managed to secure the services of JAT tomorrow who’ll be bringing you his perspective on the summer so far…

The blog today is called “We’re in the money” and why, I hear you ask? Well, the club, Arsenal, has always been renounced for it’s saving money and doing things the right way. Limiting debt and refinancing any debts where possibles. We’ve halved the wage bill in the last 4 years with big hitters moving on.

In the last few days, we’ve also received an early cash settlement of £200k for Aaron Ramsey, reducing the price to £4.8m and also scoped £7.5m from our arch rivals, Spurs in their £15m capture of David Bentley thanks to our sell on clause. We’ve also settled Theo Walcott deal earlier than anticipated, this time saving millions and also profited from Muamba’s sale to Bolton from Birmingham. Pennant’s move last year pocketed us a few million too.

It’s quite amazing to see that we’ve generated nigh on £10m this summer from other transfer activity and testimony to the structure of the deals we do and the quality of players we produce.

We’ve also been busy and shrewed in the transfer market with the capture of Amuary Bischoff who has officially signed for us this week.

“Amaury is a young, promising player who we have taken a gamble on because he has been out for a long time. We have to get him to a very good (fitness) level.

“He has talent but we’ll have to wait two or three months to get him competitive. He has had two surgeries on his groin so it is a gamble on his talent.”

Indeed, a free transfer, a young player. Someone who Arsene rates highly so let’s reserve our judgement.

Arsene has been talking about the kids and how well they’ve been doing in pre-season and has taken some time to comment on our strike force for the coming season.

“We are not as short of strikers as people thought. We have Vela, who has integrated well into the team, and Bendtner was a force at the end of last season. He will confirm that again this year. In all the areas in total we are perhaps one player short. But up front we don’t need anybody.”

I have to say that I’ve been impressed with the contribution of Carlos Vela in pre-season and it’s clear to see that Niklas Bendtner is improving as a player. With Eduardo to come back and VP and Ade to gain some match practice and Young Theo around, I think Arsene is right about our striking options. In addition, we have young Jay Simpson ready in reserve.

We’ve just signed Amaury Bischoff and that’s a welcomed addition in terms of strength of depth, a player who can play on the right or central. I believe we’re after one more player, a ball winner – either a defensive midfielder or a central defender.

Finally, a quick Champions League preview. Tomorrow, at 1pm, we have the Champions League 3rd Round Qualifier, and it’s going to be an interesting draw indeed. There are some tough teams in the qualifying round… here’s a list of potential suitors:

Atletico Madrid (SPN)
FC Twente (HOL)
Standard Liege (BEL)
Slavia Prague (CZH)
Galatasaray (TUR)
Levski Sofia (BUL)
SK Brann (NOR) or FK Ventspils (LVA)
FK Inter Baki (AZE) or FK Partizan (SRB)
Tampere United (FIN) or FC Artmedia Petrzalka (SVK)
Anorthosis Famugusta (CYP) or SK Rapid Wien (AUT)
NK Domzale (SVN) or NK Dinamo Zagreb (CRO)
FC Sheriff (MDA) or Sparta Prague (CZE) 
Drogheda United FC (IRL) or FC Dynamo Kiev (UKR)
Beitar Jerusalem FC (ISR) or Wisla Krakow (POL)
Aalborg BK (DEN) or FK Modrica (BIH)

I think Athletico Madrid and Galatasaray are teams we’d want to avoid, with Slavia Prague and Dynamo Kiev two teams who could cause an upset too.

Wish me luck, I’ll be on the other side of the world when we next speak…]]>