Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Oh for it to be a year today... and contracts, contracts, contracts.

Or, to be more precise, for it to be May 15 2006. Or to be even more precise, any moment on that day before Mr Eto'o and co. decided to break the hearts of Gooner's around the globe.

It's hard to know what to expect from tonight's match. Those promoting the match have, of course, hyped it up as the mother of all re-matches, with action from that memorable 3-3 disgorged all over the TV at the moment. What they didn't show were the turgid, boring performances these two have often knocked out over the years in the Champions League. Anyone remember Milan's victory in 2003? I'd rather not. And the standard of play in the recent Chelski Liverpool semi was hardly scintillating.

Benitez is a very astute tactician and my money is on him playing conservatively, hoping to squeeze out a 1-0 against a Milan side who are likely to give little away. It might be a game where both managers try to nullify the others most dangerous player: expect to see Gattuso snapping at Gerrard's ankles, and Mascherano sticking to Kaka like the proverbial glue. The victors in those contests could decide the match.

I wouldn't be surprised to see Benitez play Gerrard, Mascherano and Alonso together, with possibly only one up-front, lining up his team in a 4-1-3-1-1. If he does, the game will be very tight and cagey; and not necessarily enjoyable.

Who knows, maybe Milan will score and the game will open up; we'll have to wait and see.

In Arsenal related news, it's been a week or so of new contracts. Ade, Eboue and Bendtner have all been handed the customary 'long-term deals', effectively ruling us out of any purchases in the right-back or forward area this summer.

Bendtner should become Baptista's replacement and he's a player with a lot to prove. Despite his goals, I've seen some distinctly middling performances from him at Birmingham. He's clearly got something to him, but whether it's the ability to really perform at a top four club is questionable. And don't believe for a minute the stories of him being linked to Milan or other top sides: those all emanate from his agent, who is also his father. I would say his 'signing' probably means we won't go into the market for a new striker. When fit, we have a pretty decent quartet of strikers now in Henry, RvP, Ade and Bendtner. Here's hoping they can actually stay fit, this year.

Eboue also needs to step up next season. No-one is questioning his ability to get forward and be an attacking threat, but his defensive abilities are still far too suspect for my liking. Maybe he can learn from Clichy and improve this year. Either way, and despite his frequent theatrics, Arsene clearly has a great deal of faith in Manu.

Elsewhere we've, predictably, signed a young, unknown player to potentially be Jens's successor. Whether Fabianski can do this or not is anyone's guess; he could be the new Petr Cech or the new Richard Wright. It would be nice if just once we bought in some established talent.

There are a few stories floating around regarding potential transfer targets. Michael Owen has been mooted but I really don't think Arsene would go for him now. I should imagine Owen will have to stay at Newcastle for at least one more year to show some gratitude for the support the club has given him thusfar. Other than that it's the usual mix of unknown French midfielders, with Gareth Bale throw in on top (so to speak).

I still think we need more players but very little seems definite at the moment. If I get any HOT rumours I'll let you know. And hopefully my website won't break down in the process....


Anonymous said...

I think you mean May 17th. But I get your drift, I've been wishing the same. If only we kept 10 men I think we win that final

Anonymous said...

Oops. I mean 11 men.

Anonymous said...

I would luv it, just luv it if Milan went 3-0up at halftime and won 7-0 by full time.

Anonymous said...

Rosicky was established & a talent

Anonymous said...

Gallas, Reyes, the Beast, Wiltord(I think), Hleb, Jens maybe Richard Wright and Jeffer's were well known talents, established at a decent level.

The manager goes what he thinks will best suit the side and I hope they will be wingers and numbers to replace the squad members supposedly being sold because otherwise the side we already is close to great.

A lot closer then Liverpool are anyway after their poor attacking performance tonight.

Goonerboy said...

Reyes was hardly 'established'. Nor was Jeffers. Gallas and the Beast we only took on as we were being forced to negotiate deals.

Hleb and Jens were; Wright, hmm., maybe. Hardly a glittering ensemble in any case.