Blame Vish!

You can blame my best friend Vish for no post today!! I’ve been up all night re-writing his best man speech for his wedding this Saturday and it’s eaten into my blogging time!!!

Where Have I Been For The Last Week?

Indeed, for the first time in World of Arsenal history, I had officially been knocked off the radar for the best part of a week… you can blame Fahreen and Tal for that! Two great people and dear friends, who’ve now tied the knot! Being an Indian wedding, it lasted about 7 days… hence, no blog since last week!

So, I hear you ask, what the hell has happened in the last week?

Well, despite 100′s of blogs, 100′s of online newspaper articles, an overdrive of Sky Sports and Arsenal.com and of course 24 hours a day,  days a week Sky Sports News…. in reality, nothing much has really happened in the last week… in fact, it’s a bit ridiculous how much speculation is happening.

I asked last week – would Nasri leave? Would Cesc leave? Would we sign Gervinho?

And this week, I say…

Will Nasri leave? Is Cesc about to depart? And will be sign Gervinho?

Do I want to sign Gervinho because he sounds Brazilian? Yes, that is one of the reasons… but a more overwhelming reason is that he’s actually a decent footballer!

So let’s look at these stories one by one…

Cesc: Will he stay or will he go…

Well, the rumours are rife that we will sell if the money is right. I’ve seen the quote (see below) many times, but it’s by a “senior Arsenal source”… and what does that even mean? Who on earth is this source? Barcelona offered around £30m last year, and this year have offered £27m. We want £40m, and until we’re offered that much, we won’t budge.

“The offer was made formally in writing to our chief executive (Ivan Gazidis), and we said no straight away. [We will consider] possibly yes, and if it’s enough then I expect we’ll have to sell.”

But if we sell our best player off the back of a bad season, then what does that say to the fans? At a time when season tickets are at an all time high, on average, the highest in Europe, how can we selling players as well. As much as people say that Arsene will replace him – have we replaced Henry? Have we replaced Adebayor? Have we replaced Hleb? Have we replaced Vieira? Have we replaced Toure? Have we replaced Lehmann?

The replacements for those players have been the free or cheap signings, Bendtner and Chamakh – the rubbish that is Theo Walcott and Thomas Rosicky… and of course, the lameness of Almunia and company… Instead of Vieira we have the potential of Ramsey, Jack and Song – who will all go on to become world beaters… one day…. but not in the last few seasons, and maybe not next season either. We simply don’t replace quality with quality. We replace quality with cheap replacements – if you do that in a house, it will crumble, so Arsene better be warned…

If we sell Cesc, we will not compete for a top four position next season, mark my words. If we sell Cesc AND Nasri, then we’re about as good as Wigan. Nasri and Cesc are two out of our three best players, Van Persie aside. We will not be able to replace them on as shoestring budget. If they both go, we will have major problems next season.

Ray Parlour was in the news yesterday:

“Maybe they should take that and put the money elsewhere in the squad. I do think it’s important though to keep Samir Nasri and it would be a disaster if they lose both of them. If you lose Fabregas, maybe Nasri can step in and play the role that Cesc does just behind the front two.”

At the moment, there is a lot of money in the game. We will find it hard, if not impossible, to compete with Liverpool’s new found wealth, Man City or Chelsea, United, Barce, Real Madrid, Bayern, Milan or Inter… We’re getting gazumped left right and centre at the moment…

And on the note of transfers – don’t you think our approach this summer has been very random and not thought out well? When you look at United – they seem to have figured out what they want, who they need and got deals in place – Jones, De Gea and Young to name 3 and I’m sure more are coming… whereas we seem to be very random…

One day it’s Gervinho (whom we’ve not even bid for yet)…

“We know that Gervinho is keen on Arsenal. For the moment, there has been simple contact, but we have not received a concrete offer yet.”

The next it’s Mata… and throw in a Samba, a Cahill, a Jagielka and whoever else and it’s clear that neither Arsenal, nor the media have a real direction of what’s going on. It looks like Arsene isn’t quite sure who he wants to sell, or who he wants to buy. The Arsene of old would have got his players lined up, but if Arsene is doing what he’s done in the  last 5 years then we’re going to see not much until the last minute rubbish bargains…

Will Clichy stay?

As Juventus announce that they’ve signed a left back and Roma don’t look interested any more, it looks like we may end up keeping the mistake ridden

“We have started talks with Gael and want him to stay.”

Well, that’s good, I think. Make up your own mind on that one… if someone offered us £10m… what would you say?

The Lady Speaks!

Ex share holder Lady Nina Bracewell voiced her opinion on the current board:

“In time we will need a more dynamic pro-active younger board, and a good directional leadership…and a board that knows the game inside out. Not people coming in from abroad who have to take time to learn.”

Surely a swipe at the current board, full of oldies, a swipe at the ownership too – but she does have a point!

I’ll leave it at that for today, but the good news is that I’m back on the blog every day now… so more from me tomorrow!

A Highly Uneventful Weekend… (Gervinho, Samba, Cesc & Jack)

Morning, afternoon and evening to my fellow Gooners…

It’s been a highly uneventful weekend to say the least – the only major event being the failure of England to beat the Czech. Surely Stuart Pearce has reached the end of his tenure as England Under 21 manager. He has been completely useless and really failed to organise his multi-million pound stars into any sort of organised team. I’ve had a lot of “well, if Jack Wilshere had gone” – and I don’t buy it for one minute. Why is there so much focus on Jack Wilshere? If he had gone and had been under Stuart Pearce’s instructions, then nothing much would have changed. But why pick on Jack Wilshere when there are a plethora of younger players who could have gone?

It was interesting to see Henri Lansbury – an excellent young player whose appearances this season and yesterday show why we don’t need to splash out £20m on an unproven kid in Jordan Henderson when we have a better prospect in our own youth ranks.

Outside of the England mess, there have been further developments in the potential signing of Gervinho…. we’ve been told the transfer will conclude in the next 48 hours… hold on, that was on Wednesday last week, oh, and on Thursday last week and oh yeah, on Friday… basically, no-one knows when it will happen, but most establishments think it will happen… eventually. Gervinho has always maintained that he wanted to join Arsenal and just as a reminder, the striker did say this back in 2008…

“I need to keep working and Arsenal will open the door for me. I have dreamed about that club. To play for them will be the best day of my life and I will do anything to play for Arsenal.”

Yep, it was his ambition to always play for us… if we do sign him (I hear it’s less than 48 hours away), then we’ll have someone who wants to play for the team and not for the pay check. It’s unusual to have a player who wants to play for us. Normally they all want to play for Barcelona!

Talking of which…. Peter Hill Wood did update us about the Cesc situation…

“Yes, they have spoken to us about Cesc. They have been in touch. But so far they have not made a bid and we do not want to let him go. But he comes from Barcelona so it is understandable if he wanted to go back. However, they have not made an offer so far.”

A little bit of nonsense if you ask me – PHW should be saying something along the lines of “we’ll do our best to keep him at the club”, not “it’s understandable”… but then again, we don’t need to bother with listened to PHW, do we?

And there is one final piece of info to update you on – Blackburn chairman said this yesterday:

“We don’t want to let Chris go. I’m confident that we can keep him and I hope he’ll stay. I know he has an ambition to play for Arsenal but I hope we can keep him for another year at least and prove our own ambition.”

Interesting news – Samba is keen to come to Arsenal, and I believe we’re keen on him too. Blackburn don’t want to sell and with the millionaire backing, perhaps they don’t need to sell either – I know that the Phil Jones transfer was perhaps triggered by a clause rather than the money, so it may be a struggle (Schwarzeresque) if we did try and sign him…

We’re now in the middle of June and we’re hopefully going to sign at least two players this week…

As the week gets more interesting… I’m sure I’ll give you my opinion on it all…

Cryptic Words From Cesc…

Afternoon All…

So, we’ve finally heard from our beloved captain Cesc Fabregas on his future at Arsenal. There were some interesting quotes yesterday, so first thing’s first, let’s see what he had to say:

“Barcelona are the best team in the world and going there guarantees titles. Any player who says he is not frustrated at not winning titles is lying. I am ambitious. But I owe myself to Arsenal.”

This was a snippet of a slightly bigger quote:

“I’m very happy where I am. If I said anything else to you I would be lying. I’m an Arsenal player, we have a great team and a great coach. If one day I have to leave Arsenal then I’ll speak that same day, not before. I haven’t spoken to the boss. He’s the one who makes the decisions and I don’t know if they want to sell me or not. Everyone has their way of interpreting things, but in these decisions not everything depends on the player. To say anything else would be to lie and to give way to speculations that aren’t true. I have my values and after everything I have lived in the team for eight years, I’m not going to say something that could ruin everything. I have always acted with discretion. I’m in a very complicated position. I’m not one of those who will talk (to the press) so a signing can be sorted out. Last year I think I made a mistake but that’s passed now and you learn from your mistakes. Last year was hard. I came out and gave my position and maybe I was wrong to do so. Barca are the best team in the world and going there guarantees winning titles. Any player who says they are not frustrated by not winning titles is lying. I’m ambitious I’m not going to talk about any team, but you can never say never to anyone because in the future you never know what will happen”.

I’m not exactly sure how you take this, but a lot of the Arsenal sites and a lot of the papers have taken this as “Cesc stays at Arsenal”… but I see a cryptic message within these words. Words that imply that he “won’t say he wants to join Barcelona”, thus implying he does. Heck, he said so later summer, so obviously he does.

Sandra Rossell, Barcelona president threw in some annoying quotes too:

“Cesc? I guess he’d like to join us, like a lot of players would, but we won’t go mad and offer silly fees. Last year we offered 40M for Cesc, this season his value is less. What we can offer will also depend on his salary.”

Personally, like Real Madrid did when they wanted Ronaldo, pay the silly money – give us £100m in cash… and then and only then, will you get your player. Otherwise, just stop talking about him like an obsession! Barcelona fail to remember that Cesc has 6 years left on his contract (well done Arsene for tying him down)… His value is still the same – invaluable!

What do you make of the quotes?

One player who is obviously worried about his place in the team is Johan Djourou – who despite a mid season purple season – has been pretty bad at the end of the season and was frankly shocking for England vs Swizterland. The Swiss defender said:

“I’ve been here a long time, I want to keep my place and become a better player. When you play in the top flight each player has to push himself and battle for his place, and I am no different. I know I can improve and that I have a lot in me, so now I have to improve in time for pre-season and be ready for the team. I hope it’s the case that other players look to me because I have experience, and that the manager continues to have confidence in me. Last season, I had a little shoulder injury at the end, but I think overall it was very good for me.”

Arsene is closing in on one of Gary Cahill or Chris Samba (who would you prefer?). I am pretty sure I’d prefer Cahill. He’s English after all, and has a bit about him. If we did sign Cahill, you would have to presume Vermaelen and Cahill would be first choice, which would leave JD and Koscielny as #3 and #4 respectively. There have been some rumours that we will sign both Cahill and Samba and Vermaelen will move to left back – can you see it happening? I don’t think so… well, if Clichy goes, them maybe, just maybe it could happen…

There is more transfer news surrounding Gervinho and Sagna has backed his acquisition, should it happen…

“This season he was a key player for Lille, and really helped his team to be champions. He’s got a wonderful technique on a football field, and I’m sure he would be welcome.”

Lille general manager, Paquet, did say this:

“We are in negotiations with Arsenal over Gervinho. We received an offer from London and although our intention is to offer a new contract to our striker we will talk to Arsenal.”

Fingers crossed he will sign, he does look good… he is a winner and he’s better than Chamakh and Bendtner. Talking about the Dane, it’s rumoured that he’s in a bit of a tug of war between a £10m bid from Bayern and a £12m bid from Sporting Lisbon. Both agreed to pay his extortionate wages!

I’ll be back later… ’til then… Adios…

An Audience With Ivan Gazidis…

Morning All…

Yesterday was an exciting day for all Gooners as the members of the AST got a chance to meet with and voice questions to the Arsenal CEO Ivam Gazidis. Having flown in from Luxembourg just hours early, it was touch and go – but I made it and I have to say, it was an interesting evening of questions…

There were twenty questions in total, asked over roughly an hour and a half… let’s rattle away with the questions and answers and a bit of opinion thrown in! Here’s the bullet point list of the meeting – mainly from my tweets throughout the evening…

  • First question regarding Nasri & Clichy’s contract situation – who is responsible?
  • Ivan says Arsene assesses technical ability – Ivan says contract decisions involve whole management team… (board and Arsene)
  • Ivan says that Arsenal will not break the bank to keep players such as Nasri and Clichy
  • Second question regarding Arsene’s future – Ivan says club are 100% behind Arsene
  • Arsenal ahead of the game in general but other clubs have caught up…
  • Third question: last 4 transfer windows, have not been very good – should AW be so much related to the money side of things?
  • Third question ask whether AW needs help such as David Dein’s previous roles? Ivan says no….
  • 4th question: Do we spend money if we have it?
  • Ivan: “Every transfer is carefully considered, wages, lengths, fees etc.”
  • 5th question: fans feel disrespected by players, players don’t clap the away supporters – do Arsenal understand this?
  • Ivan: Yes, the game sees a bigger disconnect between fans and players – The club is unique…
  • Silver members have had a 50% increase – is this fair?
  • 7th question about standing sections, AW has previously suggested that he supports it, will Arsenal consider it?
  • Ivan says Arsenal open to standing sections. Key considerations around safety. May be cost prohibitive.
  • 8th question: Will Kroenke take money out of the club? Have loans been taken out to buy AFC? will dividends be issued?
  • Ivan: No dividends will be taken, confirmations that Kroenke has not taken a loan to buy club
  • Continuation of 8th q: Will AFC be “self sustaining” forever?
  • Ivan says self sustainability very important at the moment… But future could change…
  • 10th question: Why do we publish false attendance? Ivan says all clubs do, and that is an industry standard…
  • Ivan says waiting list is very long. A very low rate on non renewals. #astmeet doesn’t quite match fans view.
  • Gazidis – every empty seat in the stadium represents a small tragedy – but cannot change attendance figures
  • Have to publish ‘sold’ attendance levels otherwise fans would be upset at not getting tickets to a game that only had 55,000 ppl attending
  • Ivan has answered every question so far… But I have heard everything before from Arsene and the rest
  • Question 12: why is the current team so unmotivated and why don’t they “turn up” for some games?
  • Ivan says there have been moments where players have an issue with “heart n desire” but more related to experience…
  • Q13: What is the transfer fund? And what does the fund cover? Who covers wages for on loan players?
  • Ivan says budget covers wages and fees, although not to look at the two as separated, budget is flexible?
  • Ivan says we have NOT spent their budgets in previous windows. Money is available and surplus could be too…
  • Q14: Who is Arsene accountable to? Ivan says Arsene is accountable to fans (disgruntled fans murmur)
  • Q14: Arsene seems to have a different view of economics and Arsenal seem to be a training camp for world football, Nasri could be an example
  • Relative efficiency of spending – Ivan’s line, used several times this evening
  • Q15: does AW need help?
  • Ivan says club behind AW, but Arsene not stubborn, constantly challenged and open to it…
  • Q16: AST has been given endorsement by government and Gazidis – does Kroenke support the AST too?
  • Kroenke has supported and will support AST and ga share and similar organisations…
  • Q17: Are there plans for after Arsene?
  • Ivan says can’t answer as media attention and spin would be too great…
  • Q18: Our defence has not been good last season…. Would so done like Tony Adams be a good recruit?
  • Ivan says Arsenal are working on how to resolve defensive issues…
  • Q19: Will Arsenal try and payoff stadium debt early? Ivan says break out fees too high. Loan payback sustainable.
  • Q20: Have we spoken to players? Are we close? Ivan says yes and maybe. Is positive about future of Arsenal.

To summise…

It was a good evening of discussions and questions – to be honest, I didn’t hear anything new from Gazidis that I didn’t already know – but a lot of what I thought I knew was confirmed by the CEO. The issues with Nasri have come down to money and the board are adamant to keep to a budget and won’t be held to ransom. Gazidis confirmed that there will be a lot of summer activity, but how much we don’t know. He said there were a lot of targets.

I managed to speak to Ivan directly after the question and answer session and spoke to him about season ticket affordability and club policies on sharing tickets. The feedback from him was generally positive and confirmed that the club are seeking new and improved ways of ensuring people can come to games, get bums on seats.

Well, that’s a wrap for the moment, I have to admit tiredness has the better of me… there will be more tomorrow, hopefully with a bit more opinion on it!

Adios for now…

 

Silly Season

If there’s one part of the football season I hate, it’s the off-season. Not only do I not get to see my beloved Arsenal play, I also have to contend with numerous rumours about our players- from the probable to the absolutely ridiculous. That’s why it’s otherwise known as ‘silly season’. And I absolutely cannot stand it!

You hear from everyone. From the highly informed to the ill-informed, either on Twitter, on blogs, or newspapers. I hate talking about them, and I’m not even going to mention any of them on this post. I never believe that we’ve signed or lost a player, until they officially sign for us or another club.

But one player who we’ve definitely signed is Carl Jenkinson, and you can listen to his first Arsenal interview here, if you’re an Arsenal member or an Arsenal Player (formerly ATVO) subscriber. I think you can even get as day pass for £1.50! Not bad. Dev already talked about Carl here, so you can find out more about him. But yeah, we’ve made our first signing of the season, so at least we’re active. Carl’s 19, and hopefully the next signing we make will be older than him!

I’m already looking forward to next season, and who wouldn’t, given how last season ended?! I’m not one for being harsh, but last season can only be described as a disaster. It says it all, that our best performance of the season- at the Emirates against Barca- was in effect meaningless, as we lost the tie! And the most spectacular match of the season was the 4-4 Newcastle away loss (it was a draw, obviously, but it sure felt like a loss that day!), and that will ofcourse always be remembered for the wrong reasons.

But that’s all in the past, and we can only look forward. We’ve GOT to improve the squad. Or rather, whichever players are on the squad list from the first day of the season had better give us 100%, 100% of the time. At present I can honestly say that I do not care who comes or goes, because you can have the best players in the world on your team, but if they do not want to play for your club, or don’t care about giving 100%, they’re pretty much useless. I’d rather Wenger signed someone who WANTS to play for us, than someone who has a huge price tag. I certainly won’t mind if both were in one and the same person, as that guarantees a squad improvement!

I think one of the most disappointing thing about last season was the fact that at certain times, it seemed like some of the players just didn’t care. We all know how good that team is, but it takes much more than skill to win things. You’ve , got to want it. Not just the type of want you have for ice-cream on a very hot day, but the type of want that says I’ll do ANYTHING, just so I win that trophy. We got that from some of the players last season, but just not from enough players. I’d quite like to see a change next season. I wouldn’t even mind (well, I’ll mind a little!) if we didn’t win anything next season, so long as I get the impression that the players gave it their all. What I’d give to see that!

But yeah, onwards and upwards. Can’t wait to see which 11 line up for our first game of the season. I’m sure there’ll be a few surprises. Hopefully of the good kind!

Oh yeah, if you’ve got football withdrawal symptoms, the U21 euro championships started today, and it’s on Sky Sports. I’m not sure we’ve got any Arsenal representatives, or at least as far as England is concerned, with Theo and Jack (thankfully!) not included in the squad, and with Gibbs pulling out through injury (isn’t Gibbs the most unfortunate player when it comes to injuries? But I guess it’s to be expected. He does play for Arsenal, afterall…). You can find the upcoming fixtures here.

Already counting down to the first pre-season match against Malaysia XI, just over a month away. Hopefully we’ll have signed a non-teenager (or two!) by then.

Have a good weekend, guys.

Transfers, Transfers, Transfers…

Another passes and more transfer crazyness has happened, with Sunderland’s Henderson moves to Liverpool for £19.25m, Sunderland closing in on a trio of United players, Jones having already joined them and Ashley Young the next one in… Of course, the rumours regarding Arsenal are mega-rife… we’ve got Gael Clichy off to Liverpool for £5m, which would never happen… We’ve got Samba, Cahill and more coming in and of course, Cesc and Nasri off…

In reality, nothing happens at the Arsenal until it happens… as fans we’re kept in the dark until the contracts are all signed and sealed – and in business, it’s the best way to do it… With Phil Jones going to United, I really doubt Samba is coming to us… Blackburn would have no defence…! I know you read the Samba news every day, but I just don’t think it’s going to happen… For us, we’ve got a Clichy, Eboue or Squillaci replacement in Jenkinson and I do think another centre back is on the cards – I just don’t know who!

One player who is very likely to come is Alex Oxlade-Chamerlain, another Walcottesque kid from the Southampton Academy – his father said this yesterday:

“Considering where he was at the beginning of the season and end of last season, to have the clubs we’ve been hearing about looking at him, he’s made great strides. But watching him and watching his performances I think it’s well deserved. He’s only going to get better. A lot of people speak to me and say ‘Maybe it’s too soon, look at Theo.’ But for me I think Theo’s doing fantastic, he’s developing as a player, he’s still developing and he’s only young. To develop at a place like Arsenal can’t be a bad thing. In my eyes, I’d like him to go there as soon as possible, and continue his development.”

He is fast and a winger / striker, so the similarities to Theo are much more real than his background…

Is Chamberlain the answer?

I don’t think so – but he could be part of the puzzle, the solution to the future of Arsenal. Having signed one 17-year old, another one, with similar potential, although welcome, will not win us the title. But the one thing to remember is it’s only early June – we have the whole of this month and next month and hold on, even August – to buy who we need. Yes, it’s annoying that Liverpool and United seem to be more on the case than us – but Arsene and Arsenal have a different style. I just hope it’s not the style that we’ve been like in the last couple of signings – which has basically been bargain basement and a lot of failed transfers.

A lot of this summer will depend on outgoings – players like Denilson, Bendtner, Clichy and Eboue could be off, which will raise a certain amount of cash – and perhaps the likes of Cesc and Nasri may be sold too – no-one knows at the moment – the players nor the club have said anything. I think Arsene should really have a plan around this, so no matter who goes, we have a plan to bring people in. I know we were close to Jones and we missed out, so it’s a good sign that we were willing to spend the money. But Arsene has to act fast and I’d like to see a big name, high profile player come in soon.

Lille striker Gervinho could be on his way in and so could Gary Cahill – I suppose we’ve got to remain patient… easier said than done though, isn’t it…

As I write this, I’m watching Djourou on Sky Sports News… and he thinks we’re on the verge of something big.

“You expect better for Arsenal, of course, but I think that when this long run ends it will just go crazy and we will win everything that is there because this club’s got so much potential. It has been six years, but I am just waiting for the moment. I wanted to win something so bad to say to those people ‘shh, that’s it, it is finished with and we have won something’. Unfortunately I can’t say that now because it is not the case, but it is not even to say that people are wrong, it is for us to show that we are good enough because we know in ourselves that we are good enough.”

The unfortunate thing though, is that Arsene Wenger has been telling us this for years. Looking at the availability of some of our fringe players and looking at how we go about selling players, I often wonder, as an Arsenal fan, if we are a little blind-sighted. Do I think we have a lot of good players because sometimes they play well? Do I think they are amazing and full of potential because Arsene Wenger keeps on telling me? Watching Djourou against England was embarrassing – watching Diaby for France last night wasn’t that different…

But, as soon as the season starts and the transfer window closes, whoever we’ve brought in or not brought in, I will back them 100%.

Today is Friday and we’re one week into June, I know it feels like we’re half way through the window already, but I have to remember that patience is a virtue….

First Summer Signing: Carl Jenkinson joins The Arsenal

It all kicked off yesterday when Carl Jenkinson tweeted…

looking forward to tommorow :)

And then today, at roughly one o’clock, we were all presented with the latest tweet…

cant begin to describe my happiness in joining my boyhood club, a big thank you to all the Arsenal fans who have welcomed me on here :)

He needs to learn to capitalise his sentences, but he is a very interesting player who we have been linked with for quite some time.

Yes, I know Jordan Henderson moved to Liverpool for £20m and Phil Jones to Man United for £16m, but let’s not let that distract us from what Arsene is trying to do. Yes, I know it’s annoying when your main rivals spend money on players – players you’d like to have at your club too. But there are more players available and at £15m, it’s a high price for Phil Jones. We had previously bid £6m last summer, £8m in January and apparently went back with a £10m bid in May. We lost out for probably one of two reasons – firstly the club, Blackburn obviously want the most money, and if Man United end up paying that amount for a player they want, that’s up to them – and secondly, the player himself preferred the move to United – mostly for family reasons baring in mind United’s location.

Arsene is willing to spend £10m, £12m or £16m on a player if he’s right for us, and he was in for Phil Jones, so that can be looked at in a positive way. Real life isn’t championship manager, you can’t just keep on throwing money at clubs and players if you’re running to a budget. I’m sure Arsene has plans for our defensive frailties…

Back to Carl Jenkinson and who is he?

Well, he is a right back by trade, but has also played centre back and I believe, left back too (as the video below shows). He has been signed from Charlton for an undisclosed fee – believed to be roughly £2.5m. Despite only having played 9 times for the first team, he’s a very promising player…

Charlton manager Chris Powell was the first one to praise the kid after his move and said this:

“I want to put on record how much I admire Carl as player and, more importantly, as a young man. I wish him well on behalf of all the staff and players, because it’s a dream move for him. If he grows into the right-back we all feel he could be, we could be talking about a player playing at the highest level for a long time.”

That’s a glowing report from his former manager, and there has been a lot of noise about him and his potential for quite some time. I am really glad we’ve signed him, and he’s a pretty tall player too… Powell continued:

“Carl’s another one who has come from our youth programme, and if he follows in the footsteps of the likes of Scott Parker and Jonjo Shelvey, it will be great for him. We will always look back at his time with us with fondness because he’s been with us since he was an U9 player, and we hope he brings all the values that’s he’s learned here to Arsenal. I’m sure under the guidance of Arsene and his team, he could blossom into a wonderful player.”

Let’s hope the young man lives up to his billing. It would a be a brilliant piece of business if he did…

Let’s watch him in action…

Good stuff hey?

Til tomorrow my friends, til tomorrow…

A Little Less Boring as Walcott Speaks…

Morning All…

Theo Walcott has re-invigorated my daily blog today and made this week potentially much less boring… He’s given us an insight to what the players feel and what they want from the manager. It always seems like the fans are the ones who want new signings and marquee signings. Yes, that is true, we want to have “big” players at the club (no, I don’t mean Fat Frank Lampard), and big players cost big money. Gone are the days where you can find a world class players playing in a lower league in another country and turn them into the next big thing. When Arsene joined, our contacts and scouting was ahead of the rest – but now, everyone, including Bolton, have similar scout networks.

Theo’s recent comments come from not just him, but from the players as a whole, and they want to play with better players. Yes, Theo is a bit rubbish himself, and Cesc and Nasri probably think, “God, come on Theo, just pass it back” or “Come on Theo, make a run past the defender”… but nevertheless, he has shown in spurts that he has something, and the sentiment speaks volumes…

“If we can build our squad and hopefully keep our best players, it will look good for us. We need to win something next season. It has been so long. The fans have waited so long and as players we don’t like seeing every year go without winning anything, especially a big club like Arsenal.”

It funny how the players always talk about Arsenal not winning, when they are the people under-performing. Cesc and Nasri feel the same as Theo, but how many misses did they combine to miss this season – how many fluffs did they fluff – yes, defensively they were let down, but there should be some collective responsibility on this.

Theo continued:

“It’s totally up to Arsene Wenger, he’s the manager and he knows what to do; he believes in the squad. He saw things that us players wouldn’t have seen after the Carling Cup final – he’ll know what to do. Maybe we do need some new signings, a mega signing that’s going to get the fans on board. I’ve heard rumours of Karim Benzema at Real Madrid. Someone like that would help you hold on to your best players, get the crowd on their feet as well. We have to win something next season, if we don’t then I think a lot of players will go I’m sure of that.

Firstly, it’s clear to see that the players want a big signing, and of course, signing Chamakh on a free or Benezma from Real Madrid are two different things. The interesting part of the comment is that Theo thinks “a lot of players will go” if we don’t win something… well, maybe he is one summer ahead of himself, maybe the exodus will start now? But it’s not exactly the right thing to do – it feels like a threat – but a threat we, as fans, can do nothing about.

“A big club like Arsenal, being in the top four, the Champions League and then finishing fourth is disappointing – we need to be winning things, the manager knows that. I think it’s going to be tough in the Premier League next season; Manchester City look very dangerous, Liverpool are looking bright too.  Obviously City winning the FA Cup, they are going to want more and more and they will feel confident after finishing third ahead of us so there is going to be a lot of teams challenging – it’s not going to be easy.”

Theo all but admitted that Man City have overtaken us and that’s also quite disappointing as a fan to hear. You really want to hear that “we’ll be back next season”, and a bit more fighting talk. The worst thing is, Theo is right – we are now the fourth best team in the country and no matter what we think – unless Arsene acts positively in the transfer market, we will be fighting for the same position next season. News that Liverpool are about to sign Jordan Henderson from Sunderland for £20m as well as the additional signings they are linked with – they will be a force next season. And if we don’t strengthen, then we will not be able to compete.

Perhaps a change of formation to accommodate Theo up front is called for?

“I would prefer to be playing up front – I was signed as a striker. Sometimes when you’re playing out wide, it’s difficult to get in the game. I think manager wanted to develop me on the right and I think I’ve shown what I can do this season – hopefully he trusts me and I can play up front next season. I’ll have a chat with him when I come back and see what he’s thinking. I believe I can give something different to the team we haven’t had for a while so why not?”

And it’s actually something that the majority of fans I’ve spoken too are keen to see in action. Theo up front, with Van Persie just behind him. I suppose it hangs on whether Cesc is with us next season and if he’s not, it will be much easier to change formation. Hopefully he will be, and we’ll revert to the previously sucessful 4-4-2… but only Arsene can tell us what’s going to happen!

And just to top it off, despite the ranting and raving… Theo admits that it IS actually the players fault that we finished fourth…

“Our team has some great individual players but maybe as a unit we’re just not doing it. It’s totally up to the manager who is going to come and who is going to go.  Everyone always say about the defence [being the problem] but it’s not just the defence at times it’s the whole team; the way we defend.”

Let’s hope that the manager gets on with sorting this out…

It is our biggest summer ever under Arsene Wenger – isn’t it Theo?

Still Boring…

Morning fellow Gooners.

Kieran Delaney sparked the debate yesterday with a nice Boring article…. (And by that I don’t mean the article was boring, just the title)… and there is quite evidently a view from the fans that Nasri is a money hungry individual, who has no reason to stay at the Arsenal and should move on (if he wants) and go and get a huge wage packet at Man City – as long as we get a decent fee. Well, personally, I don’t agree.

Nasri is a very good player – he’s shown in splurts that he can be world class. Nasri has tried quite hard this season and like many others in the squad, I’m sure he felt a little let down by the players, the way we finished the end of the season. It must be hard for any attacking player to see us collapse so badly defensively and surely he has the right to question whether to sign another contract or not. It’s been said before and today the Guardian are running with the story that Nasri is waiting to see who we sign before committing.

A few people have asked why he should stay… well, here’s your three answers:

  1. He’s enjoying it – he plays with a smile on his face…
  2. He plays in a team which plays excellent football…
  3. He is first choice in the team, respected by fellow team-mates…
  4. He is loved by the fans, we’ve got a great song for him too…
  5. He is friends with the majority of the team and has a good social life because of it..

That’s like awesome points…. and here’s some more…

  1. He is playing for one of the biggest teams in the world
  2. He has an excellent manager
  3. He plays in an amazing stadium

And the list goes on…

I’ve been pondering the decision (if we had to make it) of who we would prefer to leave, Nasri or Cesc… Well, if Cesc leaves, then Nasri will too, but if Nasri leaves, and Cesc stays then we have the better player, you would think? But then surely Cesc would leave next summer, so keeping Nasri would make more sense for the longevity of the club…. Make any sense??

The best thing for Arsene to do is just sign some quality players, make Nasri sign and then push on for honours… simple, hey?

There is a lot of news about Cesc, but most of us have learnt to ignore it… £54m from Real Madrid, Inter or Barcelona… would you take it?

As I said in the title of today’s blog… Still boring, hey?