In, out, shake it all about…

Afternoon All,

It’s that time of year when the squad gets shaken up, fringe players leave, promising youngsters sign new deals and we hopefully get a few additions to the first team squad. Well, today is that day. James Dunne, Rui Fonte, Abu Ogogo, Paul Rodgers, Rene Steer, Vincent van den Berg and Anton Blackwood have all been released as well as the mercurial Amaury Bischoff – who looks even more unfit now than when he joined – he sounds like the kind of player that will never make it, but this time last year, maybe worth a gamble… We also signed up four of our kids on long term deals – Luke Ayling, Craig Eastmond, James Shea and Cedric Evina have been handed professional contracts.

Back in the world of “will he / won’t he” – Felipe Melo has now signed an extension to his Fiorentina contract which will see him stay with the Italian team until 2013. Interesting news is that he has inserted a buy out clause into his contract. The buy out clause is reportedly set at £21m – a figure that is much higher than a team such as ourselves would be willing to pay.

“Fiorentina announces that its sporting director Pantaleo Corvino met in Milan with Felipe Melo’s agent and an agreement was reached to extend the player’s contract until 2013 with a buy-out clause also included.”

A lot of agent talk does circulate around the premise of attempting to renegotiate a players contract at their current club and we can see this happening with the Yaya Toure, Samuel Eto’o, Felipe Melo and of course last season with want away Adebayor. Interesting that the buy out clause was announced today on the site, that is not normally the case – but maybe they’re looking to sell at their price or keep the player.

Elsewhere in the wonderful world of post-season, Cesc has been linked with a move to Real Madrid, Barcelona and now Milan, whilst Ade has been linked with a move to Inter or AC Milan too – Arshavin has been surprisingly linked with a move to Barcelona… it does get a little comical now and again, doesn’t it?

And finally, more rumours are linking us with Serdar Tasci – a young German defender who has earned rave reviews this season.

Press reports in Germany suggest Arsenal are in deep negotiations with Stuttgart in order to sign their star defender Serdar Tasci. The 22-year-old has also been tracked by Italian giants AC Milan and Juventus after a superb season which has seen him break into the German international side on a regular basis.

But the player saying:

“I have to admit I’m flattered that clubs like Arsenal, AC Milan and Juventus have had their eye on me in the past. But I’m not getting carried away with this. I’m focused on Stuttgart and looking to return to action following my knee injury.”

Mmmm, looks like I’m clutching at straws… Rumour truth rating… 3/10?

Til later…

* Hoping there is some actual news to report *

Sunday Round Up…

Evening all…

I’m back from my 3 cities in 3 days trip to Prague and Birmingham (quite a contrast I know) and back to London… apologies for the lack of WOA action in my absence but I’m back and scouring the world to see what is going on in the world of Arsenal. I did pick up a few newspapers on my travels and very interesting reads on various Arsenal related subjects.

The main stories I read were in relation with Van Persie and his love for the club – his past and his present – his highs and lows and how he wants to be at Arsenal and sees this as his home. He explains how working with Arsene Wenger has been amazing and he not only changed his footballing career, but also changed his life completely. At Feyenord, Van Persie had a stint in prison, had an affair, went clubbing on a regular basis and was known for hanging around with the wrong crowds. But now the Dutchman is a pure vegetarian, and someone who doesn’t drink and doesn’t go clubbing at all. He’s got a very strict diet, a great work ethic and has been getting better year by year – his lifetstyle by choice in a quest to be the best footballer in the world.

Most newspapers also touched on the stories linking Emmanuel Adebayor with Milan once again following a supposed conversation between Galliani and Arsene where apparently Arsene was “happy” in his discussions. As we all know, Ade would be happy if he left the club and fans would also be happy (mainly because of his disloyalty and courting of any club even thinking of possibly signing a striker) and it looks like Arsene is also happy… maybe? So the will he / won’t he saga that is Adebayor’s departure from Arsenal looks like it may happen, but who knows hey? If a club did come in and give us a decent offer – I could see Arsene selling, Inter Milan, Milan or Barcelona could be possible destinations – but I really don’t see the sense of selling Eto’o for £25m and then buying Adebayor for the same amount – it’s not good business…

We’ve been linked with Karim Benzema and a replacement for the Togan international – a story which has so little reality to it, it’s quite funny – some newspapers citing us as “front runners” because the French striker would prefer to join us and Man United and Real Madrid may not be able to afford the striker – due to debt repayments and high spending respectively. Really? Hmm, considering United have just sold Ronaldo for £80m and Real Madrid have just spent £140m on two players and were willing to part with another £37m for David Villa, it’s nonsensical to think a) we’re the front runners for his signature b) we’d spend anywhere near as much as those two on a young player like that and c) that we’re even really interested in the player….

We have just spent about £8.4m of our £13.9m budget (according to the figures that we know about) and are maybe trying to buy Felipe Melo with the remainder (plus Senderos), which are the two players we need – really, unless we sell Adebayor, we won’t be buying anyone else, and if we do sell Adebayor, we will surely look to may a profit rather than increase our debt…

Okay, time to get some zzz’s and recover from the jetlag, I’ll be back tomorrow…

Arsene talks about Arshavin as Ljungberg has a word…

Morning All,

Yesterday was an interesting day of football, as the USA beat Spain 2-0 to progress to the final of the Confederations Cup, definitely an upset, I totally expected Spain to beat the US, but the American team played in the same vein as they did against Egypt… very impressive – with Brazil vs South Africa tomorrow, it could be a very different final than many people thought!

I’m off to Prague tomorrow for a stag do, so either I’ll find some sort of Internet access at some point during my travels or the faithful JAT will take over for a day or so… you’ll find out tomorrow no doubt…

On to today and I have to say that there has been some really good commenting at the moment, some really good feedback from regular commenters and new readers, keeps me very engaged in your thoughts throughout a busy work day – thanks and a message to let you know your feedback plays a big part in making this site what it is…

So, Arsene has been quite vocal, recently revealing his plans to sign one or two players in addition to the signing of Vermaelen and the intent to keep the squad together – pretty much what I wanted to hear. He’s also touched on the signing of Arshavin and what the signing meant to him, the player and the rest of the management down at the Grove…

“As soon as I met him I was convinced he was the right man for us. Andrei Arshavin came in and he had had no real preparation before we signed him, so we kept him in training for three weeks. In fact his first game was the goalless draw against Sunderland, but he was still getting fitter. After that he made a very quick impact. The 4-4 draw at Anfield was a massively spectacular game. It was a game in which we just got caught again in the last minute, but in fairness on the night, Liverpool didn’t deserve to lose. They played at a top pace – it was a fantastic game. Andrei Arshavin got four goals at Anfield – four great goals. He showed what he is about, speed, finishing, character and personality. It was a great night for him.”

Interesting words from Arsene, and the signing of Arshavin has seriously re-ignited a lacklustre Arsenal team. The signing changed the dimension of the team and added another level of excitement to the team and the league. I for one, am very excited to see Arshavin play next season, fully fit and with a team built around him – and by that I mean by that a team that knows how Arshavin works and plays with him to maximise the Russian’s potential…

If you look at the team in it’s entirety, we’ve certainly got a group of amazing players… and I do have a good feeling about next season.

Golden oldie, Freddie Ljungberg has added his comments to the barrage of quotes and comments we’ve been hearing recently, from Pires to Adams, from Dixon to Winterburn and now Freddie… the ex-Sweden International spoke about how “every year we had to win something” and the fact we haven’t for so long is surprising. Freddie goes on to say that finances are tight and that may be a big factor in what’s happening at the Emirates.

Take a look at the video (if the ESPN embed system works) but all in all, it was a very still interview, with not too much said.

And finally, Theo’s also been in the news… apparently not too pleased about his lack of playing time with the Under 21 national side, but he was brutally honest about his game against Finland.

‘It just didn’t go for me against Finland. Even my parents booed me off! Sometimes you are flying and sometimes you do nothing then a bit of magic happens. That day just didn’t go my way. I wanted to show what I could do coming off the bench against Spain. I was disappointed not to start but that showed I can achieve great things in this team.’

Theo’s performances have been inconsistent recently, but when he’s on fire, he’s really on fire…

Okay, til next time…

Oh, one more thing… just to let you know that we’ll be launching a competition very very soon to win one of 5 sets of Arsenal bottle covers. Check out the prizes here…  http://www.staychilled.com/acatalog/arsenal.html. The sets are worth £8.99 each and they’re a really good accessory for the summer, we’ll be launching the competition as soon as possible so stay tuned…

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Wenger Speaks… And so does Ade’s agent…

I won’t touch on the “Robin Van Persie has signed” yet as there have been been no official news from the club…

But there has been some discussion from Arsene on various aspects of the club, the formation, signings and plans for next season… He started off with the formation, so let’s take a look at what he’s been saying…

Next season we will play the formation and system that most suits the players and the balance of the team. That means it’s not rigid. It can evolve throughout the season, depending on circumstances and personnel. If you play with Theo Walcott for example, you are more tempted to go for three midfielders because Theo is more of a forward than a midfielder in a 4-4-2.

The thought of playing a 4-3-3 certainly springs to mind when Arsene discusses this – of course, it’s something that we’ve done last season – the only problem is that we’d did with the wrong players in the positions… and of course, we hadn’t really practised it pre season. I’d prefer us to master one formation that try and master two formations – it’s a known fact that if you ask a player to play in two different formations, he will not have a naturally formation, and therefore will be constantly adapting his game rather than getting on with the game itself.

For example, playing a 4-3-3 with VP, Arshavin and Theo “up front” and Diaby or Cesc behind the striker doesn’t work – Why? Because, Theo has been playing in a 4-4-2 since he’s played football, so when he plays on the wing, he plays too deep, changing the 4-3-3 into a 4-5-1 – as the wingers are deep, that means one player – that player being Diaby and sometimes Cesc being the “spare” man and moving forward, which basically means we end up with a 4-4-1-1 with the extra midfield player in the hole.

We’ve seen it many times last season and it really didn’t work – my view is that we either need to retrain our side to play 4-3-3 and that means changing the mentality of players such as Theo Walcott to play more forward – but it’s a change of style too and not something I think we can keep on changing week in, week out. Personally, I’d prefer a 4-4-2 with a real defensive midfielder in the squad, but hey I’m not the boss – but I do worry about Arsene’s recent remarks on the formation.

Arsene went on to speak about the forthcoming transfers…

Ideally I would like to bring everybody in before we start back in pre-season training in July. I don’t want to leave it until the end of August. I want to add to the squad and I have identified one or two targets. But identifying players and buying them are two different things. We lost Hleb and Flamini last summer and we have had to rebuild. We don’t want to have to rebuild again so I want to keep all the players together for next season. I don’t want to lose anyone.

And his statements are very positive. Having already brought Vermaelen in, it’s clear he wishes to add more players to the squad and also finally acknowledge the element of rebuilding that was evident this season. He mentions he has identified “one or two” targets and if the boss is to be believed then he’s not looking to strengthen up front, so you’d expect a defensive midfielder and another defender, which would raise questions on whether we will sell players as the boss does say “I don’t want to lose anyone” – but is he referring to any of his top players, and happy to lose players such as Silvestre and Senderos?

One of the top commenters (May and June will be announced together), AJ has recently taken the poll “If you were Arsenal manager, who would you pair with Thomas Vermaelen in central defence?” and there was overwhelming support for Kolo Toure… the results coming in (so far) as: William Gallas 25%, Kolo Toure 56%, Mikael Silvestre 1%, Johan Djourou 3%, Alex Song 2%, A new signing 14%… where was Senderos?

Arsene also spoke about Niklas Bendtner and the improvements he’s made last season:

“Nicklas has made big improvements since the start of the season. He has become an important player for this club. When Nicklas is really switched on and focused, he is a handful for any defence in the world. He has shown that in the second part of the season. People forget how young he is, but I am sure he has won many people over in the second half of the season.

And I’d have to agree with Arsene, I do think Nicky B has come along a lot since last season, but I also agree in the statement “when he is really switched on and focused” because we all know how frustrating he can be when he has one of his off days… more to come from the Danish striker next season, no doubt.

Back to transfer news and more news from Ade’s agent again yesterday when he spoke about Ancelotti, saying:

“He would like to work with Ancelotti, but Chelsea have not contacted us”

Still trying to get a move sorted – and it’s “much a do” about the same as last season when Adebayor attempted to court all the big European clubs without dividend – but this season he’s asked the fans why they don’t like him and reconfirmed his future to the club but then gone and asked his agent to find him a new club. Players nowadays, hey? What can you do?

Talksport’s Gabriele Marcotti says Melo’s off to Arsenal…

For those of you who listen to the radio, you may tune in now and again to Talksport… and if you do you may be familiar with Gabriele Marcotti – an Italian with an American accent who surprisingly knows a lot about football. He’s also featured on Eurosport and Channel Five’s football shows…

Yesterday he was asked about Melo and what his thoughts were and he basically talked about how Arsenal were the club who were leading the race for Melo’s signature and that Arsene and respresentatives of the club are due to speak to him after the confederations cup tournament ends later this week.

Some news regarding the transfer is that we’ve actually agreed terms with Fiorentina and that this doesn’t include a swap for Senderos – although Fiorentina are interested in the Swiss International – a deal may happen shortly afterwards. Also, news is that the player has agreed terms with us but that contradicts the previous statement that we are going to talk post Confederations… contradiction sometimes means that it’s a made up story, or sometimes means that it’s all done, but we’re just waiting for some t’s an i’s…

Mixed signals from the player and his agent, whilst publicly trying to keep a good relationship with Fiorentina and additional keeping a “professional” image…

“Obviously it is a good thing that great clubs are interested, as it shows that I worked well. But as I said, I have a good relationship with Fiorentina, with the directors and the fans.”

He has reportedly spoken to Maicon asking about Inter and Gilberto Silva asking about Arsenal, so I wouldn’t discount a “Inler” stance were career progression wasn’t an option!

Let’s stay close to this one, there may be something in it!

In other news, Liverpool have reportedly agreed the signing of Glen Johnson and that’s a good bit of business for them, but at £18m, I’d rather have 3 Sagna’s any day of the week. It’s a bit of the usual usual with the other transfer news with Ade linked here and there, but no-one really interested, Tevez linked with Chelsea and Barcelona although many people think he’s already signed for Man City to join £18m Santa Cruz… yawn… yawn… speculation, speculation…

And the Setanta Premiership debacle has been resolved as ESPN has bought the rights to the games which were previous Setantas… the BBC web site reporting:

ESPN has bought the rights to show 46 games in next season’s English Premier League that were to have been shown by struggling broadcaster Setanta.

Disney-owned ESPN has won the two packages of games shown on Saturday teatimes and Monday evenings. Both will be sold to customers through BSkyB.

Not sure how that will affect Arsenal TV Online – I hope I don’t have to sign up to another sports package with ESPN to watch those games, as I need to keep Setanta for my Arsenal TV Online addiction!

I’ll keep this one short for now as I plan to get back to the office at some point, upload some nice pictures and continue with another piece later…

Til then…

Do you agree with The Times Top 50…?

Morning All,

It’s Monday (again) and the weeks post season are certainly flying past… If you’ve been watching the Confederations Cup, then you may have seen Arsenal target Filipe Melo in action again alongside Gilberto Silva for Brazil as they beat Italy 3-0 to progress to a mouth watering tie against the hosts, South Africa in the semi-finals. All three goals coming in an eight minute spell at the end of the first half with a Luis Fabiano double and an own goal from Liverpool player Dossena. It’s been an exciting tournament so far and a test run for next year’s World Cup. With USA and Spain the other semi final, it could be a Brazil vs Spain final and that would be a match not to be missed.

Back home, the Times newspaper has released the “Top 50 Arsenal players” and it’s a list that makes for interesting reading…

The top five being:

5. Thierry Henry

4. Patrick Vieira

3. Alex James

2. Dennis Bergkamp

1. Tony Adams

Personally, as I scrolled through the pages, I really thought I’d see Thierry Henry as number one and was actually quite surprised to see the ex-Portsmouth manager as number one. No discredit to Tony but Thierry would have been my number one – the years he gave us were simply amazing, some of the best football I’ve watched in my life. But at the same time, Tony Adams was a rock at the heart of the Arsenal defence for many a year.

The notes alongside Thierry read:

How can a player who smashed practically every club goalscoring record at the club be as low No 5? Well mostly because the four players above him had a greater impact on the history of the club, laying the foundations to lift Arsenal to new heights. Henry joined a side that was a penalty miss and a point or so away from back-to-back doubles. Mind you, there were times when watching him that you could believe you were watching the best player in the world.

And Tony:

Four Championships, three FA Cups, two league cups, one European Cup Winners Cup. An impressive haul that doesn’t even come close to describing the influence Adams had over the best part of 20 years as an Arsenal player. George Graham built his team around him, he was the man Arsène Wenger had to win over to ensure that his French Revolution didn’t flounder immediately. At his best, Adams was a superb defender and, most importantly, a fine organiser of a defence with the ability to get the best out of those around him on the pitch (but it would seem, not in the dugout). He would easily be the first name on the Greatest Arsenal XI teamsheet, so makes an obvious No 1 here.

It got me thinking… who would be my top 10 all time Arsenal greats – and of course, I don’t have the first hand vantage point of seeing the golden oldies but my Arsenal career (if that’s the right word) spans 25 years or so and within that period, I’ve been graced with the likes of David Rocastle, Micheal Thomas, Paul Merson, Ian Wright, Robert Pires, Thiery Henry, Dennis Bergkamp amongst others. So who would feature in my all time XI… so here goes: (based on players at their peak)…

Seaman

Dixon – Campbell – Adams – Clichy

Pires – Vieira – Merson – Overmars

Bergkamp – Henry

Maybe a little controversial, especially as when speaking to my peers about this, my inclusion of Dixon over Sagna heavily questioned, but yes, the current TV presenter Dixon, took my vote based on his years of consistency and 100%… with Sagna having only been at the club for 2 years, he couldn’t feature as the best right back in the last 25 years, it just wouldn’t make sense. And then my inclusion of Merson was also something that a few people had raised their eyebrows against – but Paul Merson, in his peak, playing the football for which he became famous for, was an amazing attacking midfielder with audicious vision and creativity…

Who would your top players be? What would be your best XI in the last 25 years odd?

I’ll be back later today or tomorrow with a round up of news and rumours circulating the team, but for now I’ll leave you with those thoughts…

Adebayor transfer may happen, as Walcott progression becomes evident…

Morning All,

It’s been around about a month since the season ended, and in all honesty, I have to admit it’s flown past. Since the end of the season, a lot has happened in the footballing world with the crazy transfers that we’ve already seen. Back home, of course, things have been quite stable – and we’ve strengthened in the department that we definitely need to do something with.

Arsene did say at the end of the season that we wouldn’t buy any attacking players “if nobody left” and based on reports from Wolfsburg and Bordeaux we have enquired for the strikers, Dzeko and Camakh respectively – of course, that raises the question why? And it’s becoming serious now – either we are selling Adebayor or Van Persie is off – the latter may happen if Arsene cannot get the striker to sign a new contract.

My gut feeling is that Adebayor will leave if any of the strikers do – simply based on the interview with the BBC in which the striker said that he can’t see how he will ever win over the fans. Subsequent to that, the player’s agent said that there were no offers to discuss, but if a big club did come in, he would speak to Arsene – a clear signal that his agent believes his future may lie elsewhere. In the Sun today – not that I should believe anything that the tabloids write, you’ll find a story regarding Ade and the link to Chelsea – apparently Ancelotti has been thwarted in his bids to sign Kaka, Pato, Dzeko and Tevez and is now focusing on getting Adebayor to the club – maybe this is just paper speculation based on the fact the Ancelotti has talked highly of Adebayor in the past.

More recently, AC Milan club owner, Silvio Berlusconi has revealed Arsenal striker Emmanuel Adebayor could be signing for AC Milan… talking about possible transfer targets he said:

“There is a good chance we will get Adebayor.”

It’s a very brief statement, but it shows that there is interest – and of course, we know it’s two ways.

Back to the tabloids and this is what they had to say today:

“CHELSEA are poised to launch a £25million bid for Arsenal hitman Emmanuel Adebayor. The Blues, who failed to land the Togo striker last year, have been frustrated in their hunt for major names this summer. Brazilian star Kaka snubbed the Londoners in favour of Real Madrid – and Valencia hitman David Villa seems certain to do the same. That has left new Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti  still looking for a world-class target man, with Adebayor, 25, suddenly at the top of the Italian’s shopping list. The ex-AC Milan manager almost took the Emirates star to the San Siro last year.

News coming out from the rumour mill is that it’s a two horse race between the London and Milan clubs and our interest in other strikers all but confirms that there is something happening in that department.

One player who will greatly feature for us next season is of course Theo Walcott and he’s shown for the main and England U21 teams that he is getting better – and of course that he has pace to burn. I’ve been pleased with his performance last season and without him, we did lack some pace going forward last season – the thought of having the four players, Arshavin, Nasri, Walcott and the forgotten man Rosicky on the wings next season is mouth watering. But Theo – who will eventually be a striker – has more to learn and the summer games will do him good for next season and of course for England in next year’s World Cup – something that the young striker (who is still only 20) has talked about:

“It’s just good to be involved in the tournament and it’ll be a great experience for me, with the World Cup hopefully to come. I missed it a couple of years ago, so it’s nice to be involved this time and I think we have the potential to win it. It’d be great to bring a trophy back to England.”

And if the player continues in the same vein as he has been playing through next season, both Arsenal and England will benefit.

Finally, Eboue has dismissed a link with PSG saying he wants to stay at Arsenal, but again talking about his lack of first team football. Of course, there will be speculation, but if we can keep hold of him, then he will add to the squad depth – something that we need going into a tough season.

Okay, that’s it for now, have a great Sunday… til later…

A Grand Old Saturday At The Emirates…

Morning All,

It’s a grand old Saturday at the Emirates today as we’ve signalled our intent to correct the fallacies of last season and maybe the season before by making the defensive signing that we’ve all wanted for some time. Arsene has looked at the best defenders in Europe and we’ve known about our interests in the likes of Zapata amongst others – but the boss has decided that the Belgium International, Thomas Vermaelen is the man to fix our defensive problems.

The more you think about this signing, the more it makes sense – the player is young in terms of a footballing career, but old enough in terms of Arsenal to bring experience and maturity to the team. The player was captain of his team, which in itself brings a level of experience, leadership and confidence to the squad. His leadership skills are something that are required in a back line short of confidence and in our squad, we’re beginning to create leaders all over the pitch, something that we’ve really added with this signing and the signing of Arshavin in January.

The player and manager have been very delighted with the move and the player is also confident we can win trophies.

Players, such as Robin Van Persie, and I’m sure previlent in other members of the squad want new, decisive signings to be added and the Dutch striker has commented on his personal preference of signing Vermaelen. It’s a signal that Arsene wants to correct things in the squad that aren’t right – and if you remember Cesc saying earlier in the season, that the boss will make the signings he needs to ensure we’re challenging next season.

Something I briefly touched upon in the comments, but I think the next signing we have will be that of Van Persie – as essential it is to get new quality players in, it is equally important to keep the best of what we have and Robin definitely falls into that category.

Coupled with the signing of Vermaelen is the rumour that Kolo Toure is on his way out – to Man City – and I really hope that it’s just paper speculation. Toure is Arsenal through and through and players like that are hard to find. It’s like when you’re an employer and you’ve just hired someone, ploughed bundles of time, energy and training into getting them into the person you need them to be, and then for them to get up and leave for pastures new. I’d rather have someone who wants to stay than someone using the club as a stepping stone – we all know that Toure alongside an established centre back is a good combination – the Toure-Campbell partnership winning us Premier Leagues and getting us into the final of the Champions League – maybe Vermaelen is a more suitable partner than Gallas.

Of course, that does raise the question of which defender will leave, with Toure, Gallas, Silvestre, Senderos and Djourou the other 4 centre backs in addition to our new signing – many fans believe Senderos will be on his way out as will Silvestre – but I think the gaffer may throw a surprise with the departure of either one of Toure or Gallas. It’s hard to speculate so I’ll leave Arsene worry about it – at the moment, we’ve brought someone in who is very good and in a position we’ve been lacking, so we’ve got to keep our faith in what Arsene is doing and underatand that he can see the team issues just as much as we can.

In other news, the young hotshot tennis player, Anna Keothavong has revealed that she is a big Gunners fan – with her favourite player being Robin Van Persie – for his looks as much as his ability. The current England Womens #1 has talked about her love for the club saying:

“I haven’t been to The Emirates. I drive past it the whole time. I would love to go there and watch a game but I haven’t had the time yet. I call myself an Arsenal supporter. I should know more than I do – the rest of the family are more fanatic than I am. If anyone from Arsenal sees me playing and wants to invite me to a game, I’d love to. I’ve got a shirt with my name on the back and No 1. That’s a start.”

And I think any of the Arsenal players who follow tennis will surely be on the phone at some point next season – I’m sure Keothavong will have a lot to offer and Wimbledon may be her real breakthrough.

More reaction to come on the Vermaelen signing – but now we’ve signed him, who would you like to be next through the Emirates turnstile?

Thomas Vermaelen is an Arsenal player…

It’s official now… Thomas Vermaelen, former captain of Ajax is an Arsenal player now… here’s what Arsene said:

Thomas is a great signing for Arsenal Football Club, and we are all delighted that he is joining us. Thomas is a solid performer with good experience of Champions League and UEFA Cup football and is also a regular with the Belgium national team.

Thomas is primarily a left-footed centre back, but he’s multi-functional and can also play at left back. He is strong technically with a positive winner’s attitude and I have no doubt his arrival will strengthen our team. The player will be a huge asset to Arsenal.

And the player also spoke:

“I’m just so happy to be joining Arsenal. This is a great Club with a world class manager, high quality players and a fantastic stadium. Everything is set up for Arsenal to be very successful for years to come and I joined this Club because I know Arsenal will be challenging for trophies.

“I have had a good taste of the Champions League during my time with Ajax and this is something I am looking forward to experiencing again with Arsenal. I’m also looking forward to playing in the English Premier League, which for me, is the best league in the world. Also, I just want to assure the Arsenal fans that I will give everything for this Club and I hope we can enjoy winning some trophies together next season.”

Ajax have revealed information about the fee:

Ajax and Arsenal FC have reached agreement about the transfer of Thomas Vermaelen. The transfer has a total worth of 12 million euro, of which 10 million fixed and 2 million variable.

10 million euros (according the current exchange rate is £8.4m) which is very good business for a captain of a top side and a player with such experience at International and Champions League level… (that’s a quarter of what Rio Ferdinand cost)…

So what are your thoughts? Who is next? Who will be off?

A lot of people say that Silvestre and Senderos are on their way out – but do you think Gallas or Toure would accept being second fiddle to the new boy?

Vermaelen Signing Imminent As Defence Gets A Revamp

Afternoon All,

The news coming out of Belgium is that Thomas Vermaelen will be flying to London later today to undergo a medical at the Emirates. The deal is done, the terms are agree and subject to a medical, the player is ours. It’s been a tough one, the partnership of Gallas and Toure on paper should work – but over the last two seasons we have seen it’s vulnerable and it’s going to be very interesting to see which one of the two players is dropped.

“The signature is not there yet, but everything is in order. On Friday I will fly to London to undergo a medical. Then I hope to sign.”

And the player himself his very excited about his imminent move to the Emirates, citing today as one of the best days of his life.

“I feel so proud. Arsenal is a fantastic club, and as a child I watched them play. On Friday, if I go to Emirates Stadium I will be seriously impressed. This will be a big change in my life, next year I will suddenly be facing the best strikers in the world. This does not scare me, I will give everything my body has. This is one of the best days of my life.”

Arsene has obviously decided to reshape the defence and Vermaelen is the first signing in that department – maybe Bassong will be the second (according to some reports) as he recently admitted he was talking to two Premiership clubs, whilst Toure has been linked to Man City. As I’ve said countless times on the site, I think letting Toure go will be a mistake as he’s Arsenal through and through – personally, I’d like to see the four players at the back Toure, Gallas, Vermaelen and Djourou – whether the former first choice pair will accept not being first choice is another matter all together.

Senderos is another defender – the player will be returning to the club – but news is that Fiorentina are interested in the former Milan loanee, and that could open the door for a exchange for Felipe Melo – although the Brazilian enforcer has given mixed signals to whether he wants to stay in Italy or move abroad.

Back home, well back to things closer to home, and despite being  dropped from the starting line up, Theo Walcott stole the show as he came on as a substitute as the England Under 21′s beat Spain Under 21′s 2-0 in the European Championships. The player deployed on the left of midfield show amazing pace to push forward in the final third, and found James Milner with a great cut back to make it 2-0 to the three lions – if was a great performance by England and we’re now into the semi-finals of the competition.

I’ll leave you with a quote from Arsene, as he talks about the beautiful game…

“Every manager needs to have a global vision of the game he wants to play, and to make it as simple as possible. I am a great lover of a game based on technical skill, mobility, movement. I Iike a dynamic game, and I like a creative game, so I try to build teams and to scout players who are built around that kind of skill.

Of course, the gaffer has a job to do in the defensive department this summer but that won’t let him change his focus and how he wants the game to be played.

“How do you develop creative players? First with the technical skill, secondly, by encouraging them. The first thing a player loses is the capacity to dribble if you don’t work at it in training. Dribbling is linked with confidence and if you do not allow your skilful players to work on that, they don’t produce it in the game. And we must encourage players to be audacious in matches,  because most of the players who are creative sometimes are inhibited in the big games because they have a big responsibility on their shoulders.”

And with players such as Arshavin, Nasri, Walcott, Rosicky, Vela, Eduardo and Van Persie, Arsene has some of the world’s best creative talents at his diposal.

I, for one, can’t wait to see how we do this summer and simply can’t wait until the next season kicks off.

Transfer News Hots Up…

Morning All,

It was a strange day yesterday as the fixtures were announced, which sees us have a tough start and a tough end of January / beginning of February… but as they say, you’ve got to play everyone twice, so it is a matter of us dealing with what we have. It’s just a little bit tough when you play all three of your main rivals in a 10 day period, thanks Fixtures man!

Away from the news about the fixtures, there’s been a bit more news on the transfer front, and having all but signed Thomas Vermaelen, our attentions can be turned to other targets, namely the defensive midfield position and the striking berth… of course the striking area is somewhere where we are flourished with riches but of course, if someone goes, they must be replaced.

Apparently we’re back in and seriously back in for Chamakh, according to Philippe Auclair – some sort of journalist – although his name rings a bell (I suspect he is also related to some sort of footballing agency but I can’t remember)… and this is the news you may see on a few web sites…

Bordeaux striker Marouane Chamakh’s proposed move to Arsenal may be back on, according to France Football journalist Philippe Auclair. The 25-year-old, who has earned 50 caps for Morocco scoring 15 goals, netted 13 times in Ligue 1 to help secure a first league crown in 10 years for les Girondins.

So either we’ve had an offer for Emmanuel Adebayor or Robin Van Persie is not signing his contract, the latter would be a real blow – and I can’t seem to find any news from Arsenal or Dutch related sites to say anything about the subject. The link with Dzeko looks like a deal that will never happen with Chelsea, Man City and Milan – all very “rich” clubs and clubs we’d find it had to compete with a on financial level – all serious rivals for the Bosnian’s signature.

In the defensive midfield position, a position which does need strenghening, we’re supposedly looking at only one player to fill the void left by many many players departures over the last few seasons. Whilst I think Alex Song has come along tremendously over the last two seasons, I think he’s the only “real” defensive midfield with Denilson, Cesc, Nasri, Diaby and Ramsey all players who like to play in the attacking midfield role… of course, the player we’ve been linked with is Lorik Cana, and a recent posted by Pete in the comments read:

“I will talk with my family and my representatives. It will then depend on what I want to do. I believe that if I want to leave, everyone at this club will respect my decision. It is not certain that I will be terminating my contract though. I am in no rush. Of the possible destinations in the future, England and Germany are the two leagues that attract me the most.”

Actually, pardon me for forgetting, but we’ve also been linked with Felipe Melo (and Fiorentina may be interested in Senderos which would make a deal easier) and both players look very good and we could really do with either in the squad – I do believe we’re on our way to signing one of them… earlier in the season Cana said he wouldn’t move, but his recent statements show that he may be looking to do so now as interest hots up… And of course, there is one other player, Miguel Veloso – but it doesn’t look like we’re interested nor does it look like any of the major European teams are – with his only offer coming from Bolton – and they’re struggling to match the £17m fee.

It’s coming to the second half of June now, and it would make sense for any signings to be made in the next two weeks as our training starts in July, so we’ll have to stay tuned over the next week or two as if we are going to sign someone, it may happen soon…

In other news, Eboue dismissed reports that he wants to leave citing a good relationship with the manager and the fans (despite reports to the contrary) but said if a big club, like Inter Milan, came along and offered a fee for his services, he’d be interested in a move like that… interesting words, and I’d like him to stay as we do need the cover at right back and right mid (and left back and left mid) – did you know Eboue started off his career as a centre back – okay, let’s not go there!

And finally a word for Kieran Gibbs – I have to say you’ve seized your opportunity in a very similar way to how Clichy took over from Cole – congratulations on your efforts and may you continue in a similar vein next season… but it’s a position that all of a sudden looks very congested, with Clichy the #1 choice and Traore returning from his loan at Pompey – who knows what will happen next season? But I for one want to see more of Gibbs, I’m just not sure how Arsene will manage it all…

The player saying this over his chances:

“It’s hard to think at the time and put the blame on anyone else. I felt disappointed after that but I’m trying to forget about that now and this is the tournament I am in. I look at the season as a big success for me personally, I’ve got my experience in and played in some big games that I wanted to play in.

“On the other side, for the team, after what happened in the Champions League I felt disappointed, not for myself but for the team and the people I thought I had let down. I received a lot of support after that and that got me through it for the rest of the season. I think it showed a mental strength to come back from that, especially straight after. It will be difficult because when you play week-in week-out you get used to it and it would be different coming off the bench again. I’m still 19 and he (Clichy) is a world-class left-back. I’ve still got a lot to learn from him and I don’t think it will be too disappointing for me to continue learning from one of the best left-backs in the world. I enjoyed it at Norwich (during a loan spell in the 2007/08 campaign). Would I go again? I would go again if the manager wants me to, if he feels I need more experience before going back in at that level.”

And that’s a very humble view of his season and his future… with our injuries, I’m sure you’ll get a chance at left back and left mid – and I fully expect Gibbs to allow Clichy to have a rest when required (something that the Frenchman hasn’t really had the opportunity to do recently) as well as take centre stage in our Carling Cup and FA Cup runs – I’ve also been impressed with the players dribbling ability as he’s got quite a bit to offer going forward…

Okie dokie… happy Thursday and speak later…