Why Arsenal Are In Pole Position This Summer…

Morning All,

Things are moving quite fast in all the transfers, with Real Madrid, Barcelona (now they’ve admitted David Villa talks, despite Real Madrid agreeing a fee), Man United, Chelsea, Inter Milan and of course Milan all busy in the transfer market. But it’s been relatively quiet in the actual transfer news regarding anything relating to Arsenal – the only hint of a proper transfer is the deal with Ajax over the signing of Thomas Vermaelen, which in itself is not confirmed although highly anticipated.

As I pondered this (for several hours in which included several cups of tea), it suddenly (several hours later) dawned on me that we’ve got the least of the problems out of the top teams in Europe… Let’s take a look – starting with United – a team who, yes they won the title, but in actual fact, none of the teams challenging really challenged them… but this summer, they’ve lost two of their stars of last season, Ronaldo and Tevez, some big names to replace there – and both players are at the top of their game and massive losses. Giggs and Scholes are finally past it, and you can easily add Gary Neville to that list, so in actual fact, they’ve got some serious squad surgery to do.

Take a look at Chelsea and you’ve got way too many egos, some of the world most hated players and a lot of players over 30, some players like Deco and Ballack, surely past their prime. They’ve also got a new manager and that’s going to take it’s toll as they try to settle down. Then of course, you have Liverpool, who this summer have been plunged into serious financial consideration, which makes the Keane sale in January more interesting – their squad is just very much unbalanced, take out Torres and Gerrard and you’ve got quite an average team. Alonso and Mascherano both looking to leave and for financial reasons, it looks like both may just do that. The link with Tevez, in my opinion, is a marketing gimmick.

Then you look at Milan and they’ve got a lot of reworking to do, with

Maldini retiring, Kaka leaving and Shevchenko looking a shadow of his former self, not to mention the recent issues with Ronaldinho and the release of Ronaldo. Inter Milan have lost Figo, Ibrahimovic want out, Mourinho wants the old aged pensioners of Deco and Carvalho – and then you look at Real Madrid, who seem to have to most unbalanced squad around – yes, they’ve got some big names, but Ronaldo and Robben in one team simply won’t work – it’ll take a year, some big ego clashes and a new coach or two before they become a force…

So, looking closer to home at our team Arsenal – it’s very simple to see that we’ve got one of the best teams around, brimming with potential and stars such as Andrei Arshavin, Theo Walcott and Van Persie. We’ve got some of the best young talent in Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri and Carlos Vela… add the returning players of Eduardo and Rosicky to the pool and suddenly we look very strong.

I think Arsene is doing the right thing this summer – firstly, keeping the squad together and then secondly strengthening the two areas where we need a bit of re-inforcement – central defence and central midfield. Think about it… it’s not all bad is it?

In other news…

Cesc Fabregas, having scored for Spain in their 5-0 thrashing of New Zealand, replied to the recent quotes about him and Pep Guardiola and said:

“My future right now is in the same place. Arsenal have already said that I’m not for sale, which fills me with pride. If some day I left Arsenal, it would not be to stay in England. As everybody knows I really want to play in the Spanish league. In England the top four teams are much better than the others and in Spain it is more even.”

You’ll probably hear news tomorrow regarding him “wanting to leave and play in Spain” but in reality, reading closer to the story – he says “if some day” he leaves Arsenal – cite “if” there as the main word in the story… Need I say more?

Til later mes amigos…

  • TheSKAGooner

    It fills me with pride too, Cesc. You’re a Gunner, plain and simple.

  • lady

    some people would say that Arsenal are the biggest losers this summer by standing on the sideline and do nothing to reinforce their squad. i agree with the notion that we do need some additional players in order to strengthen the team not to imbalance it. we’ve seen few years ago Real Madrid having failed to reduce tension in the dressing room due to some of their ‘big’ name players attitude. that’s the difference with Wenger. every player is encouraged to help the team by working together. individual skill is also play the part but no one is bigger than the team itself. we don’t need trouble maker like Ronaldo. yes, indeed he is a great player but his individualistic character will only jeopardize the team in the end. some may not like it, but we don’t come across a player like David Beckham in recent time, whose commitment and professionalism is commendable. are players tend to be more materialistice these days?

  • Pete

    Cesc is a diamond. You can’t buy that sort of loyalty. Ronaldo should take note lol.

    Good points on the top 4 teams Dev. We’re definately about 2-3 good signings away from becoming a winning team again.

    Has anyone heard this Thomas Hitzlsperger story linking him to the Arsenal?

  • Gooner Get Ya

    Real are apparently putting a fair few people, Robben being one of them so it looks like you are right about Ronaldo taking his place.

    Cesc is a legend, but let’s just pray he is in his best form for this coming season.

  • AJ

    Ah this is why we all love Cesc so much. As SKAGooner said, he’s a gunner. But I’m slightly disappointed, I lost my internet for about a day and missed so many posts! :(

  • AJ

    Oh and while I remember, one name that has been linked with us in past seasons, but not this one, what about Toulalan as a signing for the DM position? He’s pretty good, nearing his peak and has got expierence of playing at the top level.

  • Arsefan101

    The problem with Toulalan is that he’s smaller and slower than Denilson! Do we really need him?

  • Fabrez

    I’m glad Cesc isn’t one of those, “For now, I am an Arsenal player but if Barcelona want me, I will go” types! One of my fav players skill-wise and loyalty-wise! And I wouldn’t go for Toulalan…we’ve got similar players imo. And no Pete, not heard of the Hitzlsperger link…

  • Debs

    Yeah, Fabrez. Good on Cesc. But I’m not sure about Sagna though. Cos apparently, he’s like he’s an Arsenal player, but he’s not opposed to a Real Madrid move. But come to think of it, if Sagna were to leave, do we really have any decent RB replacements?

  • Fabrez

    Yeah Debs…Sagna “not agaisnt the idea” of going to Real and Eboue’s future uncertain? *sigh* Surely we’ll have to be in the market for a RB if Sagna left…unless we play young Gavin Hoyte who can play there… But if we want to win stuff we’ll have to buy a class replacement. Good on Clichy tho…he’s another loyal Gunner…at least he distanced himself from the idea of going to Real…

  • Fabrez

    If Sagna leaves and Eboue stays, that will distress me! I much prefer it the other way around. Ideally, for them both to stay is best. But Eboue may stay if Sagna leaves since Eboue’s prob is not playing enuff. Sagna’s departure isn’t Eboue dependent tho… C’mon Arsene…keep the side together!!

  • Francis

    I think wenger should go for mamadou diarra if he has overcome his injuries. he has experience and it will be a bargain buy. sneidjer would also fit into the team at a cut price…wenger take advantage of madrid’s clearance sale

  • p

    Yeah, apparently Arsene’s interested in signing Hitzlsperger, the Stuttgart captain. He’s said to only cost £5 million. Used to play for Aston Villa and has about 40 caps for Germany.

    I have to admit, I’d miss Eboue more as a character than as a player. He seems like a good lad, and I’d wish him well, but I doubt many fans would worry about replacing his footballing ability. I’m a bit more disappointed to hear Sanga’s comments, seeing as he’s only been with us for two seasons.

  • Pete

    Whoops, didn’t fill in my name properly on my last post.

    Also got this from BBC Sport.

    “Thomas Vermaelen’s agent is confident a deal to take the Ajax defender to Barclays Premier League giants Arsenal will soon take place. (Dutch website Ajaxlife.nl)”

    Apparently he’s on holiday til the end of this week, which may explain why there’s not been any news of late about his transfer.

  • Pete

    Yeah, apparently Arsene’s interested in signing Hitzlsperger, the Stuttgart captain, for around £5 million. He’s a central midfielder, used to play for Aston Villa, and got around 45 caps for Germany.

    Have to admit, I’d miss Eboue more as a character than as a player. He seems like a good lad, and I’d wish him well, but I don’t think he’d be missed on the pitch tbh.

  • Debs

    Yeah Pete. Eboue, if he leaves, will be missed more in the dressing room, but not necessarily on the pitch, although I think he’s ok as a squad player. Hopefully the Vermaelen deal will be sorted soon.

    And Fabrez, if both Sagna and Eboue left, we definitely would buy a RB, I doubt Wenger would throw Gavin Hoyte on just like that without any experienced player in front of him. He might be introduced a bit, just like Gibbs was this season, but I’d rather they didn’t leave. Players leaving, especially if they’ve been at the club for more than one season unsettle the team, and we don’t want that to happen again next season.

    By the way, what do you guys think about this comment on Theo? I think it’s absolute garbage. It seems more like Arsene’s warnings against burn-out may have been why he was ineffective for the U-21s… Wilshere’s definitely one for the future, but I think it’s too soon for people to start writing off Walcott. I’ll like to see some of them eat their words next season!

    The Arsenal man has been groomed since an early age as a future star and was lucky enough to be selected by Sven-Goran Eriksson to go the World Cup at the age of just 17.

    But since the summer of 2006 he has largely failed to capitalise on that opportunity. Is it not time to start looking elsewhere for the next big star of English football?

    The answer may come in the form of Walcott’s Arsenal team-mate Jack Wilshere, who to me seems like a natural-born footballer, rather than Walcott’s manufactured version.

    If you look some of the best players on the continent at the moment, they are skilful playmakers with the ability to unlock defences. In this country, we don’t seem to groom players like that anymore. Indeed, Paul Gascoigne was probably the last of that ilk.

    Wilshere is yet to make his debut for the U21s, but surely a call-up cannot be too far away. He is such an exciting player, one who is willing to dictate play, run at the opposition with the ball at his feet and get opposition defences thinking.

    As Walcott has proved, pace is not everything. Intelligence on the ball is needed, and it is in that department where Wilshere stands out.

    One-trick ponies are 10 a penny in this country, but a genuine world-class playmaker is something that has eluded us for many years and something that could finally elevate the national side to the next level.

    It’s time Wilshere was given the same attention and opportunities as Walcott – he would certainly have given Pearce’s side an edge they currently lack in Sweden this summer.

  • zohaib

    ManUtd do need maybe a striker, a winger and a right-back. They have the daSilva brothers coming up in a few years and they have their favorite OShea as a utility player. Then in midfield there’s Hargreaves, Carrick, Anderson, Fletcher, maybe Scholes and Giggs for another season and Gibson and Possebon coming up in a few years. They have Nani, Park, Tosic as wingers. They have plenty of strikers coming up in Wellbeck, Macheda and Manucho. And they have Kuszack and Foster as keepers.
    I think they’ll get a winger, maybe Ribery, unless Real Madrid get him. And if they do get him or someone as good, I think they’ll be pretty strong and not any easier to beat, in spite of losing Tevez and Ronaldo.

    Dev, you forgot to mention that Deco and Carvalho might leave for Inter Milan, which would weaken Chelsea further, and mean they might have to buy to replace them. I wonder why the winger they got on loan from Inter Milan didn’t play much !? But it looks like they don’t really have any wingers apart from the injured Joe Cole and Malouda. They might even sell off Ballack and get someone better. He’s been poor. They don’t have back-up for left-back either.

    I don’t agree that Liverpool are weaker without Gerrard and Torres. People think so but they forget that Liverpool beat ManUtd without Gerrard and Torres in the early part of last season. In fact, Liverpool, without those two, built a reputation of being the ‘comeback kings’ – they’d find themselves a goal or more down and somehow they’d come back and win the match. This happened more than once last season.

    And I’m fairly certain Alonso and Mascherano aren’t going anywhere. Benitez has denied the rumors only a few days ago.

    They’ve got a pretty strong team. Yossi Benayoun is someone who’s been a huge factor, along with the other players, in the outcome of their season. He’s quite under-rated. I even think Liverpool could’ve won the premiership last season if Benitez hadn’t thrown tantrums and fooled around with transfers. Maybe he should’ve kept Keane until the summer. He definitely should’ve signed someone better than Babel. What a waste.

    Liverpool need a right-back (and rumors are they’re getting Glenn Johnson – that’s a good signing for them), they need a striker/support-striker (or they could play either of Benayoun, Gerrard and Kuyt there), they need a first-choice right-side winger (that is one area that they’re not strong at. They have Riera for the left wing but they play Benayoun and Kuyt as right wingers which is a make-shift solution and needs to be sorted), and a better player than Lucas as 4th choice midfielder. They should probably sell Babel and get a good right-side winger. Maybe Robben if Real are selling. They do have enough left-backs in number but I’m not sure they’re as good in quality.

    They don’t seem to have strength in depth and they don’t seem well equipped for when a few starting players get injured. That’s what they need to address.

    The thing about Real Madrid that might not work is the defence. If the big ego’s of Ronaldo and Robben will be tough to handle, the defence is impossible, unless they get better players there. Personally, I think Pepe is over-rated, and I think he’s their best defender. I also think Cannavaro is over-rated (and it looks like he’s leaving too). I’ve actually never seen him play well to be honest. I hear he had a good Confederations Cup but never seen what the hype’s all about.

    I don’t think Sagna is going anywhere. I think it’s either mischief-making again or misinterpretation. He’s just signed a contract and I don’t think Wenger would let him leave, because he’s a great RB and you don’t just find someone to replace someone that good, instantly. It would be a huge mistake if Wenger let him leave. Eboue’s a good squad player as an attacking right-side winger. And he’s decent back-up for RB. And when Walcott starts playing centrally he’d make decent back-up for the right wing after Nasri/Arshavin etc. So I hope he stays, unless we find someone better. I think the problem he’s facing is the one that has to do with off-the-pitch matters. I think he’s been affected by what the average person on the street has to say.

    I don’t think it’ll bring us a fortune but we should still sell Silvestre and Senderos, and keep Toure and Gallas. Let’s hope Vermaelen is a good signing. I also hope to see more of Djourou next season.

  • zohaib

    Debs – I think that bit is very harsh and strong in the language and words used but I think I’d agree with the point that the writer is trying to make there. Walcott doesn’t seem to have as much intelligence on the ball as you’d hope, but maybe some of that is due to him playing out of position, regularly, for his club. I think he’d learn more from playing on the left-wing, where he could cut in if he liked. That said, I think there’s definitely been an improvement in his play. I also don’t think there’s anything wrong with not having creative skills as long as you’ve got other skills, like his finishing, and he’s also got pace. I think he’s a similar kind of player to Ashley Young, a right-footed left-winger who can finish. It remains to be seen whether Walcott can become better and as good as we think he’s possible of becoming.

  • Pete

    Some more brief comments regarding Vermaelen:

    “Thomas Vermaelen’s agent is confident a deal to take the Ajax defender to Arsenal will soon take place.

    The 23-year-old Belgian is currently on holiday but agent Sjaak Swart claims he will soon sit down for discussions with the Gunners.

    “It’s more a question of when than one of if it will take place,” Swart told Ajaxlife.nl.

    A £10million fee has reportedly been agreed between the clubs for Vermaelen, who has a contract with Ajax until June 2012.”

  • Pete

    Zohaib, good to see you posting mate! Some very interesting comments on the top 4 teams.

    I’m more in line with Dev’s article. I seriously think if we get it right in our transfers, 2-3 good signings, then we stand a good chance of being a winning team again.

    Whats unusual in this transfer window is that I don’t remember all 3 of our top 4 rivals being possibly in a vulnerable situation at the same time. Despite the money United are getting for Ronaldo, they’re going to have to make a huge adjustment playing without both him and Tevez, two very strong attacking players. Currently, that extra workload will fall onto Rooney and Berbatovs shoulders. I actually think they’re more likely to sign Antonio Valencia, because I have a feeling Ribery will opt to play for Real Madrid. But also, one thing Dev didn’t mention is Rio Ferdinands’ fitness, and how this may affect te strength of the defence. The guys had a lot of recurring injuries this season, which more than likely will recurr again next year, and with Edwin van der Sar getting on in age too, all of a sudden the solid defence that won them the 08/09 league faces the possibility of becoming vulnerable.

    I actually think that Liverpool are in a pretty strong position at the moment, as really all they need to add to their squad is a proper right winger. They’re new target Glenn Johnson is typically a rightback, but he has a great attacking game and can play on the midfield wing. Kuyt up front with Torres could make a pretty decent partnership too. But with their finances in a mess, they might have to sell one or two players.

  • Pete

    Regarding Theo, I think it’s safe to say he’s definately a confidence player. For example, after he scored that hat-trick for England in November, he was brimming with self belief and was on good form til he got injured training for the international team. I think Wenger and Capello both know how to boost his self belief better than anyone, and I think playing for the U21’s is actually a step down for the lad. As for burnout, I don’t think it’ll affect him that much simply because of his age. Look at how many games Cesc played in his first few years. I do think, however, that it could affect the speed in which he’s develping.

  • Francis

    On walcott he definitely has to vary his game because he is so predictable. this is exactly what gallas mentioned a while back and he got villified for his suggestions. maybe playing on the right wing limits him. 9 out of 10 times walcott feints to the left and goes on the outisde to deliver his crosses. Maybe cutting in a bit more like ronaldo/lennon does would help his game.

    I think it is unfair to compare walcott with wilshere. they are completely different players.

  • zohaib

    Pete, I didn’t mean to suggest that we’re not going to be able to challenge them. In fact, I’d agree that we’re in a pretty good position with our youngsters. But that we need some quality experienced players in central defence and central midfield to really challenge the top teams in every competition.

    And your comment about VanDerSar was the reason why I mentioned Foster and Kuscazk. That’s two keepers who’ve played a decent amount of premiership football. So it’s not like they’ll be weaker at that position. Maybe they’ll need someone to replace Ferdinand in the future but not just yet.

  • Debs

    Good points Francis, and I think he’s started to do that a bit, like in the Kazakhstan game. But he’ll need help from the fullbacks, and this season, our fullbacks haven’t been bombing forward as much as last season. He’s definitely not the finished article, and as Pete rightly said, Wenger and Capello seem to know how to get the best out of him. But I’d really like him to do something special with the U-21s, while he’s there, cos sometimes, one gets the feeling he needs to prove himself, but I’m sure he’ll get there in time.

  • zohaib

    Debs – I hate to disagree but I don’t think we should rely that much on our fullbacks. As has been mentioned before, we become too predictable if our fullbacks keep bombing forward at every opportunity. We need to be more dynamic and more creative like before, when Ljungberg, Pires, Hleb and Rosicky would provide enough options without needing the fullbacks. It slows our play down further and that’s the last thing we need. Walcott needs to improve individually instead of relying on help from others to make his game look good.

  • manoo

    this is what bac sagna just said:
    “I have seen the quotes attributed to me in the French media today and I just want to put the record straight. These comments are not accurate and I’m not aware of any speculation linking me to another club. I am 100 per cent committed to Arsenal.

    “This is a great Club and I’m proud to wear the shirt. I’m looking forward to returning for pre-season training in July and preparing for the challenges that next season will bring. We have a great squad of players at the Club and I know that we can achieve something together at Arsenal, my focus is nowhere else.”

  • Pete

    Cheers Manoo! So far we’ve had Clichy, Cesc and now Sagna bigging up the Arsenal 😀

  • Debs

    I think you misunderstood me, Zohaib. I’m not saying they should do so at EVERY opportunity, but the point I was making, in response to Francis saying Theo should cut in more often, is that he can’t do it too much, cos then, we’d have no width. During the last England game, the only reason Walcott could cut inside a few times, confusing the defenders, was because Glen Johnson came forward. I’m not saying Walcott shold rely on the fullbacks, but when he’s playing as a winger, in order to maintain our width and shape, he’s got to more or less stick to the wings, except if someone’s overlapping. That’s got nothing to do with his improvement individually.

  • zohaib

    Just as I expected – Sagna’s denied the rumors.

    Debs – I think I may have misunderstood you. Sowwie. Now I get.

  • devday

    Debs, spot on with your analysis there… I’m beginning to think this extra football is actually good for young Theo – after initially thinking it was going to burn him out – if you ask me, he could do with the experience…!

  • Randy Osae

    Hey Devday, this is my first visit to your site in over a year and I can see A LOT has changed. When did move all happen?

  • Debs

    Yeah Dev, experience is always a good thing, no matter where it’s gained, even if with the U-21s. There’s so so much pressure on him to perform there, being an England regular, seeing as another such player for Sweden just scored a hat-trick today! and I wonder how he’ll deal with it. I’m sure he’ll be able to handle all that pressure and attention; it’ll just be interesting to see how he does it. For starters, he isn’t speaking to the media too much, just getting stuck in, thus avoiding any extra pressure being put on him.

  • Debs

    No worries Zohaib! :)

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  • Demzz

    this actually cheered me up!! im hooked on this site and ive only been on it 4 an hour.. maybe more but who cares.. gunner to i die..