Friday, June 20, 2008

I'm not a betting man; but if I was...

I would definitely put a bit of money on Turkey. Just like Greece four years ago, they keep on pulling off the improbable results. They've only been ahead for two and a half minutes in the entire tournament, quite a feat if you think about it, yet have reached the semis, albeit one against the machine that is Germany. If only the English team had half their bottle, we might actually be in the tournament. Croatia badly, badly missed Eduardo up-front, with the hapless Olic missing a hatful of chances. And without wishing to engage in too much schaudenfreid, lets hope Modric's penalty was a sign of things to come...

Anyway, aside from that, another quiet week, all in all. I say quiet because when you filter out the crap, nothing really has happened until this afternoon when Gael Clichy signed a new deal. Truly excellent news, and while Gael had the odd slip-up last year - the Birmingham nightmare springs to mind - he's just about as good a left back as you'll find in the world at the moment. He certainly seems to be on an upward curve when compared to old Cashley.

Other non-news-news from this week:

The Samir Nasri transfer may have happened. I know this because several blogs have repored that: he boarded a plane to London/the Marseille chairman said so/the BBC said they 'understood' it had happened/ some guy my mate knows apparently saw Nasri in a McDonalds on the Hollloway Road wearing a 'I love Arsenal' over-sized cap. Until it's on, he hasn't signed, but even I am now hopeful that this saga may finally end next week. You just know he's going to be rubbish after all this.

Elsewhere, Barcelona have offered us a mighty pot of gold for Adebayor, apparently, and as Adebayor hasn't had 'I LOVE ARSENAL' tattooed to his forehead he may be on the move. Who knows/cares at this rate. If we're being offered anything over £20m for him, I say take it: he's had one good season in the Prem, and he's no where near as irreplaceable as people think, even if I would prefer him to stay.

Hleb is still here, despite trying to get his agent to flog him to half of Europe. Who knows, he might still be here next week, still telling us how much he hates busy old Lahndun.

No other real transfer news to report, so we'll probably announce the signing of someone next week, knowing us. If you've heard a rumour let me know so I can sell it to a tabloid.

One final thing. If you're tired of the plethora of non-stories at the moment, go to It's a site which takes NewsNow and filters out the rubbish. A very good idea, and Mean Lean over at Arsenal Vision takes the credit (I think). Check it out, and hopefully GoonerBoy is actually on there...

Til later.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

We don't need David Villa, but is there anyone else we should pick up at the Euros?

David Villa has been one of the best strikers in Europe during the last few seasons, and after Valencia's disastrous season in La Liga he is very much on the market. In the shop-window or not, his performances so far at the Euros have caught the attention of a fair few prospective buyers.

Crucially, he seems to quite like us. I can't be bothered to look up the article, but he stated a few months ago how much he likes our style of play - as about 40,000 other players have stated recently - and that he would certainly not be opposed to plying his trade at the Emirates. Cesc also came out recently to say how much he'd like Villa to sign for us.

But do we really need him? On the one hand, it'd be foolish to say we don't need a player who's a proven goalscorer at every level - domestic, CL, international - and who is approaching the peak years of his career. I don't doubt that, if we did sign him, he'd probably knock in about 20 goals in his first season. Moreover, if we don't sign him, there's a strong chance he'll be playing for either Chel£ea or Liverpool next season. A partnership of Torres and Villa at Liverpool would be rather terrifying, while the Chavs seem certain to lose one, if not both, of Drogba and Shevchenko this summer. A partnership of Anelka and Villa could be equally formidable.

But watching Villa's goals so far this summer, something struck me.

We already have a player like him: Eduardo.

Whilst there are the worrying doubts about whether Dudu can ever return to the level of performance he began to hint at in the months before his terrible injury, Villa's goals, and finishing prowess, reminded me of Dudu's prowess in front of goal. While one could argue that Villa has a more complete overall game, I'm not sure that justifies splashing out £25m+ on him, especially if van 'balsawood legs' Persie can stay fit for more than 5 minutes next season.

The money would be better invested elsewhere, and a few players have caught my eye.

*van der Vaart. A superb midfield player, who perhaps plays a little too centrally to justify our purchase, but could be a great replacement for Hleb and the perma-injured Rosicky if we could successfully deploy him on the flanks. He has a great range of passing, always looks comfortable on the ball, and I bet we could pick him up on the cheap from Hamburg.

* Boruc. Ok, so Faianski might become as good as him in a few years, but Boruc looks the natural successor to Jens, both in terms of temperament and ability. Talking to someone who is a goalkeeper, we agreed that Almunia makes quite a few unnoticed errors during games - such as his inability to be decisive or dominate his area when high-balls are whipped in. This is opposed to Jens, who is a far more solid overall keeper, but who has made more noticeable errors recently due to age creeping on him.

* Toulalon. Impressed me during the friendly with England, and one of the few French players not to come out of the tournament looking completely inept. Worth a punt, and would seem a ready made replacement for Flamini.

* Podolski. Having a rotten time of it at Bayern, and might be available at a cut-price fee. Whether we could adapt him into a left-winger, as Wenger would inevitably try to do, would be interesting, but he certainly seems to know where the net is.

Any other suggestions? I would say Sneijder but he would easily cost around £30m by the time this tournament is over. That van Persie looked quite good as well, wonder who he plays for...

Friday, June 13, 2008

Ramsey signs; Nasri possibly signs; Lewin goes; Horrible kits released.

Yes, I'm back, after a prolonged absence. It's at times like these I doff my cap to Arseblogger for keeping up the blogging in the face of the putrid non-news that has been steadily emanating from the media outlets since the end of the season. I could not bring myself to write until, well, something happened.

If we were to believe all the crap coming out of the blogosphere this week - which is now where national newspaper journalists pick up around 90% of their information - Adebayor would have signed for AC Milan for £32 million, yes £32 million, Hleb would have gone to Barca in a part-exchange for Yaya Toure, and we would have also picked up Roque Santa Cruz with the spare change from the Hleb and Ade deals.

Hmm I say. Hmm.

If Ade really is demanding a £100k per week contract, then adios. But until anything is proved I think we should really regard the Milan story as a little silly. Hleb, on the other hand, is clearly becoming desperate for the final big money move of his career, but, problematically, scoring 11 goals in 3 seasons as an attacking midfielder has meant he doesn't have a line round the block to sign him up. After all the rubbish he's come out with recently, if he does stay he should be on the bench for the beginning of next season due to his lack of respect for the club. I backed Alex for a long time but he's been a coward on and off the pitch since at least January. As for Santa Cruz? Very good player, but has a bad injury record, and let's not forget that Benny McCarthy scored 29 goals for Blackburn the season before Cruz arrived.

Right, spleen vented.

In actual news, we announced our first signing of the season today. 17 year old Aaron Ramsey has jetted in from, er, Cardiff. I wonder if the Daily mail will hammer us for signing another non-English player?

Aaron is quite a versatile player, and local Welsh journalists have likened him to Bryan Robson: a kind of all-action, ball-winning and passing midfielder. He can play anywhere across the midfield, and also in defence (he was being played at right-back at times for Cardiff last year), but his preferred position is centre-mid. Back up for cesc or his new partner? Who knows. One thing's for certain: he can't be worse than Eboue, and at £5m he could well be a bargain.

Samir Nasri should also be joining, and according to the Young Guns blog has signed a pre-contract. Can someone tell me what a pre-contract is? Surely if you have enough time to sign a pre-contract, you can sign a contract? Why must things be so complicated. Samir looks a talent, and is probably earmarked as the replacement for Hleb, if Alex does skedaddle. There is talk of Athletico Madrid trying to hijack the deal - possibly as revenge for us nicking Rosicky off them at the eleventh hour a few seasons ago. Again, the jury will be out on him until he arrives, but he's done well enough to get into Raymond 'crazy' Domenech's French squad so he must have something to him.

So that's one/two signings, and Carlos Vela, who will also be arriving in the summer. Three midfield players with a combined age of 55.

I still think we need an experienced central-midfield ball-winner - possibly in the Yaya mould, although Toulalon has looked good for France as well. On top of that I would also say that buying a centre-back who's taller than 6' might also be an idea, especially if there are questions about Senderos's and Gallas's mental strength after last season. I like the look of Mertesacker - 6'6" German CB - who also says he likes the way we play.

Gary Lewin has left after decades of great service, and we should all thank him for what he's given to the club over the years. This season alone, he may well have saved Eduardo's career with his quick thinking. It will a difficult position to fill, but Colin Lewin, Gary's cousin who is already on the club's staff, is mooted to be his replacement.

Finally, the new kits are out. Both are awful. The away shirt - a horrible, garish 'tribute' to the 1989 Anfield victory shirt - looks like a training top. The home shirt looks like it got mixed up with Charlton's home kit. After the great home shirt we've had for the last two seasons, I suppose it was too much to hope that we'd have a nice shirt again.

So, to end the post, a short message to Nike:



Til Later.