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…