The World Cup takes centre stage…

Evening fellow Gooners…

I’m back in the UK a few days earlier than anticipated… I had to give up my trip to Durban to see Nigeria vs South Korea as well as a match in Port Elizabeth to see England take on Slovenia in the last group game… why? My beloved work… No sarcasm intended of course, but when work calls, you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. My trip was an amazing adventure to South Africa that took me to Johannesburg, Rustenburg and Cape Town – I managed to post various times when I’ve been away, so you have already got a small glimpse of what it’s been like, but I will upload some pictures to the blog and to facebook when I get a chance.

In terms of football, today we saw France and South Africa as well as Greece and Nigeria exit the competition. For us, France’s early exit was a blessing in disguise as Clichy and Sagna can do with a rest – they’ve both had long and arduous seasons. In terms of what the hell is going on in the France camp – I don’t know – it’s absolute chaos. Firstly, Domenach doesn’t choose the likes of Ben Arfa, Flamini, Vieira or of course our mercurial talent in Samir Nasri. Then he benches his best player in Thierry Henry for most of the competition. The players and the manager obviously clashed and sending Anelka home and stripping Evra of the captaincy on the eve of their most important game seems like complete idiocy. When Arsene and Domenach had their public falling out, it’s clear to see that it’s the latter who was clearly the insane one. There is probably more to it too, as Eric Abidal revealed all will be revealed very soon. One massive question mark is over the form of Abou Diaby – he looked half decent against Uraguay but ended the tournament looking completely out of sorts. I’m not sure if his form is linked to the issues within the France camp, but it’s not the kind of performance what I want to see out of an Arsenal player on the biggest stage.

Of course, our beloved England take on Slovenia tomorrow, in a game that is simply make or break. I had the honour to attend both of England first two dismal performances and spent literally thousands doing so (where is the appreciation Wayne Rooney?). There will be some changes, but I think we’ll start with Defoe up front and Upson at the back. Arsene still thinks we’ll qualify and had this to say:

“I think England at the moment are not at their best but they still should go through. They looked inhibited against Algeria and they played against a team that tried to defend very well.”

I think it’s touch and go. It’s not impossible that Slovenia can pull off an upset – they did play very well in the first half against the US – but I still think we’ve got enough. I just hope Rooney shows up and that we see a little of Joe Cole.

In Arsenal news, the signing of Laurent from Lorient (can’t spell his surname) is getting closer and closer. His agent said this yesterday:

“I can confirm negotiations are ongoing between the clubs but I don’t know how close they are to finding a deal. Laurent has expressed his desire to move to Arsenal to FC Lorient and has expressed his view to Arsene Wenger. He wants to come and play for Arsenal, and it is up to the two clubs now.”

If Laurent is talking to Arsene, then I can only presume that a deal has been agreed and as we’ve been discussing in the various previous blogs, the fee is around 10 million Euros. Lorient announced today that they have signed highly rated Arsenal youngster Francois Coquelin on a year long loan and many believe this is connected with the transfer of Koscielny to Arsenal. I really do think this one will come through and with Sol Campbell, Mikael Silvestre and William Gallas leaving, it’s a third one in after Johan Djourou returns from injury and Harvard Nordtveit from loan. Although, looking further than those four players, we’ve got Song and perhaps some youth. I wouldn’t mind getting in another face, but am pretty sure 4 centre backs + Song is Arsene’s quota – remember Sol was only brought in when we knew that Djourou wasn’t coming back. Senderos hasn’t been playing for us for two years so again, he’s not a loss.

This summer seems like a bit of a revolution or evolution down at the Arsenal, similar to a few years ago – when a few senior players left. With the aforementioned quartet of defenders leaving, it’s a big amount of experience leaving, but if we look at it player by player, it is their time to go. Gallas apart, all of the other players shouldn’t be first choice players for a big team vying for all honours and in reality, even Gallas looks past his sell by date.

We’ve been linked with the departure of Gael Clichy to Inter Milan and to Barcelona, which I believe is just paper talk – we’ve also been linked with a random Russian player called Renat Yanbaev as his replacement. Interesting rumours, but I don’t there is anything in them. We’ve been linked with the Algerian defender from Rangers, but again, it smells like a rumour too. Rumoured transfer target Hugo Lloris made a mistake for France today and that’s increased the liklihood that he will join Arsenal, as have the rumours around Rob Green. It’s funny that hey? I doubt we’d get either as both would be too expensive and I don’t think Arsene likes Green.

I’ll be back tomorrow and hopefully I’ll have a chance to take a look at more Arsenal related things… til then…

  • KittyGooner

    It sounds like you had an awesome time at the world cup – love reading your updates. Do you think Arsene is really after a goalkeeper and do you think Cesc will stay?

  • devday

    @ KittyGooner:

    Thanks KittyGooner. I think we are looking at alternatives in the GK position as Peter Hill Wood did admit we had tried to bid for Mark Schwarzer so if we had done that, then it looks like we’re actively searching for a new keeper.

    In regards to Cesc – yes, I do think he will stay – I don’t see Arsene selling him this season for sure.

  • CON-MAN

    doubt clichy would go barca, dont they have abidal/alves and highly doubt inter as well, pure paper talk

    that said, please france are out now all our players can get a rest

    and finally dev not too seem to stalker-ish (and this is aimed at everyone who goes to arsenal games) but where abouts do you sit/how often do you go to the emirates? It might seem wierd but I feel I know a few of you guys (and gals?) from this blog just by reading and responding to your comments and would be great to see some of you during arsenal games. Currently Im 3rd yr at uni so only go to the first 4 or so home games, a few over xmas/new year and then a few again over easter

  • devday

    @ CON-MAN:
    I’ve spoken to a few readers about meeting up pre-game and have started meeting at the Tollington (round the corner from the stadium)… join in next season when you get a chance. I personally sit in the upper tier, centre circle (a bit to the right), entrance S – what about yourself?

  • KittyGooner

    @ devday:
    Thanks for the update – I do think we need a new goalkeeper. I hope we sign one. I saw the Hugo Lloris mistake today, but normally he has been solid – I think I read that he only signed for Lyon last season, right? Also, do you think we are going to get another midfielder?

  • devday

    @ KittyGooner:
    If you look at the midfield, you’ve got to look at a trio in the middle of Song, Cesc and Nasri – if Diaby and / or Denilson are our first choice then it’s not good enough. They are squad players. However, Nasri is constantly played on the wings – whether or not that would happen next season is unknown considering our striking depth. In the AM position, I’d say no, it’s covered – but in the DM position, another head wouldn’t go amiss.

    Re: Lloris – yes, Lyon signed him for £8m last season – so transfer unlikely and also much more than £8m if any club wants him.

  • parsi

    Regarding rob Green i agree – dont think he is the player we need, We need someone who will instill a bit of confidence in the back-line and for me Green is certainly not that man.

    Over the last season many knocked Almunia for his mistakes. Well, Robert Green made mistakes that led to MORE goals than ANYONE else in the Premiership.

    So that means he made more fuck-ups than the Spaniard did too. So why do we ‘apparently’ want him?

    Don’t get me wrong, Green is a good keeper but NOT a great one and a club the size of ours need a great keeper.

    People say that the last world-class keeper we had was David Seaman. I disagree. I think Jens Lehmann was world-class too and he was outed quicker than lager turns to piss.

    For me, Joe Hart is a great keeper. Yes, he isn’t in the class of David Seaman or Jens Lehmann, yet, but I have no doubt he will be.

    I don’t think Green can improve his game anymore whereas Hart will just get better and better.

    Englands number one should be Joe Hart. Yes, he lacks experience, but so does Germany’s first choice keeper Manuel Neuer, and if the Germans can use an inexperienced goalie, then so can England.

    With it being well-known that Arsenal made a bid for Fulham’s Mark Schwarzer it is obvious that we after a new stopper between the sticks.

    If we are going to take a gamble then I’d rather take one on Joe Hart and certainly not Robert Green.

  • devday

    @ parsi:
    Hopefully, based on Peter Hill Woods earlier admission that we were in for a goalkeeper, we are looking for one – if so, either Joe Hart or Given – from Man City – could be interesting options – both of them can’t play!!!

  • devday

    Are you ready for England biggest game of the year??????

  • yemi

    welcome back Dev. i hate it when teams put themselves in tight corners. Slovenia just need to play negative football and england are out. See Greece against Argentina, it took so long b4 Greece could be broken down. Suddenly the English team is looking so ordinary, 
No creativity(Joe Cole seems to be the only creative player), Lampard, Gerrard (Same style), 
Crouch, Hesky (Same of same, long balls, route one player), SWP, Lennon, (Speed and no skills) . 
But i hope they qualify

  • ny

    Believe in Almunia….

    U have seen Casilas,LLoris,Green all make mistakes and atleast now we have to reckon we have a good goalkeeper.

  • devday

    Early team news:

    James, A.Cole, Upson, Terry, Johnson, Barry, Lampard, Gerrard, Milner, Rooney, Defoe

  • devday

    Apparently set up in this formation:

    James

    Johnson – Terry – Upson – Cole
    Barry
    Milner – Lampard – Gerrard
    Rooney – Defoe

  • Nick

    I think Arsenal need to zero in and go after Tim Howard with everything they can. He is a fantastic keeper and he commands the area as well as anyone. I think he’d really shine at Arsenal and isn’t likely ever win anything at Everton. He was released by Man U. when he was younger but he’s got lots of EPL & International experience & I think he’d like to be with a top 4 team, his talent deserves it.

  • parsi

    Dev: I hope it is J Hart…Given is still the no1 at Citeh so doubt he comes and doubt they accept a bid. But i doubt wenger goes Hart.

  • devday

    @ yemi:
    Thanks Yemi – I hope all is well.
    It’s an interesting situation – the team news has been confirmed – you’ll see the formation in my last comment. Strange not to see Lennon, SWP or Joe Cole! Let’s hope…

  • devday

    @ parsi:
    Wenger has admitted he likes Joe Hart – the question is whether Man City will sell or not – but if Joe Hart can’t get into the team, then surely he’d want to move?

  • devday

    @ Nick:
    I’m not convinced by Tim Howard – yes, he has made some good saves, but I’m not convinced – his positioning is suspect – especially for the Birsa goal.

  • devday

    @ ny:
    But Lloris and Casillas have consistently made great saves week in and week out, when you’ve got to feel that Almunia hasn’t. I’m not saying he hasn’t made some good saves, because of course, he has, but on the whole, he makes a lot of mistakes.

  • parsi

    Wenger and english just dont go ;-)