Friday, August 31, 2007

Lassana Diarra signs for Arsenal!!

The official Arsenal FC website,, has released an article which officially states that Arsene Wenger has signed Lassana Diarra from Chelsea for an undisclosed fee. This comes as a surprise deadline day signing after Arsene Wenger earlier claimed that he would not sign any new players. Wenger, however, does have a reputation not only for making signings on the last day of transfer windows, but also for conducting business in secret.

This secret was not as well kept as some of his others though, and I in fact wrote an article about the possibility of Lassana Diarra coming to Arsenal not too long ago. The 22 year-old Frenchman will be a welcome addition at the Emirates as he can play both in the midfield and in defense. We now have plenty of cover at right back, and even a replacement for Gilberto if necessary, as Diarra is a fairly competent defensive midfielder - although he prefers to be played as an attacking midfielder (where we already have enough options).

Lassana Diarra is a great new signing, and I am very happy to hear that Arsene went forwards with this signing, as I was worried about the thin cover of our backline, and especially about an injury to Gilberto. Diarra should be far better as a defensive midfielder than Mathieu Flamini was. I hope to see great things from him in a few years time.

Who was Arsenal's greatest signing this summer?

Are Arsenal really going to miss Henry this season?

There is no doubt that Thierry Henry was one of the most beloved and influential players ever to grace Highbury (and Ashburton Grove for a few games last season). His pace, creativity, and clinical finishing made him the best striker ever to play for Arsenal - and for many, the best striker in the world. While many doubted his leadership skills, there were none who could doubt his incredible talent. However, after spending a good part of last season injured and scoring only 10 goals, Henry's departure to Barcelona came as no surprise.

It was a huge blow to Arsenal, and many people claimed that Arsenal's spot in the top 4 would come to an end without our talismanic striker. Others fooled themselves claimed that our strikers would do better without the pressure on Robin van Persie and Emmanuel Adebayor. It was clear to me though, that our front line would struggle, despite the incredible class of Robin van Persie. Without Henry to take penalties and free kicks, we were sure to score less off of our set pieces, and there would be no Henry to conjure up magnificent goals out of nothing.

However, van Persie has been doing an excellent job at filling his shoes, both this season and last. His strong left foot makes him a huge danger on free kicks, and his tendency to score from long range is reminiscent of his departed partner. I even think that van Persie has a good chance at taking the golden boot from Chelsea's Didier Drogba this season. However, it is unlikely that he will be as prolific a striker this season as Henry was in his seasons with Arsenal.

Who, then, will pick up his mantle? Not new signing Eduardo, but rather our midfielders. While I was initially disheartened by Henry's departure, my hopes for our team were lifted up by our pre-season friendlies and our first three matches of the season. In the first three games of the premiership we have scored 4 goals - 2 from van Persie, one from Hleb and one from Fabregas. In our Champion's League qualifier away against Sparta Prague, Hleb and Fabregas scored the only goals in a 2-0 win. In the return leg, Fabregas struck again as did Tomasz Rosicky. This newly found striking power in our midfield comes as a relief after next season in which Hleb and Rosicky scored only 3 league goals each and Fabregas scored only 2. Fabregas is currently our top goalscorer! Who ever thought we would be saying that?

I will have confidence in our ability to become champions if our midfield continues scoring goals. After all, our invincibles season saw a large amount of our goals come from Pires and Ljunberg.

Poll Results: Arsene Wenger is indeed the right manager for Arsenal

Well, today marks the end of the first poll that this blog has been posted (the blog itself has only been up for a week). Thanks to you guys I've had almost 500 visitors from all over the world view my blog during that week, and I hope to have more in the coming months. I especially want to thank those of you who either voted in the poll or commented on an article. I would like to do my best to write articles that you, the readers, find informative and entertaining, so any constructive criticism would be greatly appreciated. Note the word constructive there, by the way, and try and refrain from destructive criticism.

The results of the poll were overwhelmingly in favor of Arsene Wenger as our coach with 92% of the 68 people who voted saying he is the right manager, while only 5 people thought he was not. I was glad to see that my first article was agreed with, and I will be putting up a new poll soon.

Anyway, I just wanted to thank you for your participation with my blog, and I hope to see more of you guys in the future!!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

David Dein sells his shares of Arsenal to Red and White

David Dein, the former vice-chairman of Arsenal, today held a press conference in which he stated that he had sold his 14.58% stake in the club to Red and White. Red and White, jointly owned by Russian businessman Aliser Ushmanov and London-based investor Farhad Moshiri, purchased the shares for £75million, and instated Dein as its chairman. Dein has reported that there is no "current intention" to mount a takeover bid, but there have reportedly been funds set aside by Red and White to purchase more shares of the club.

Dein, who had been an important figure at Arsenal prior to leaving the club, has said that this move does not mean that he is losing interest in the club.

"I have not lost my passion for the club; indeed, it is greater than ever. My ambition remains to play an active role in Arsenal again. My immediate intention is to work with others to provide the financial resources necessary to turn the vision of Arsenal as the world's number one club into reality."

Arsenal managing director Keith Edelman has stated that the board of directors (which together controls a 45% stake in the club) will hold firm to its earlier agreement that no stocks will be sold for a year after Dein's departure, and is confident that their share is enough to hold off any attempted takeover bid.

However, it is speculated that Red and White could team up with American billionaire Stan Kroenke who controls around 30% of the club. If they were to join together they would control a total almost equal to the 45% that the board shares. This would let them make some major decisions in the club, even though it would not be enough to launch a takeover.

I think that this move is a good one on Dein's part. First of all it will encourage Arsene Wenger to re-sign, as one of the major reasons for the rumors of his departure was the fact that Dein had left the club. If Dein and Kroenke (and Red and White) were to purchase Arsenal, it would be under foreign control, following the suit of many other major Premiership teams, including Manchester United and of course Chelsea. This would inject a large amount of cash into the clubs coffers and most definitely allow for some high-profile signings, although with Arsene at the helm, we are unlikely to buy anyone overpriced. I think overall, having David Dein back would make any takeover a good move for Arsenal.

Arsene Wenger wants Walcott as a central striker and Eduardo as a winger

In his post-match conference after yesterday's 3-0 drubbing of Sparta Prague Arsene Wenger discussed how he would be using Theo Walcott and new signing Eduardo da Silva in the future. Wenger has stated that he wants to use Eduardo as the goalscoring left-winger that Arsenal have been missing, while he hopes to convert Walcott from a winger to a central striker.

I think it would be great to use Eduardo as a left-winger. He played some of the Sparta Prague game out on the left flank, and while he did not cross the ball like an out and out winger, he often cut in, took on a defender, and then cut a pass back into the center of the penalty area - it was in fact a move just like this which set up Cesc Fabregas' goal. Eduardo would do well as a winger who pops into the box for to score his own goals as well, as he is obviously an excellent striker as well. I feel that this would be the ideal position for him. As Wenger said,
"I found him more at ease on the left flank, where he had tricks of a winger, and then through the middle. He's a great striker, you know, and you could see that." A combination of a striker/winger would serve Arsenal very well.

Eduardo was not the only one who showed promise in the Sparta Prague game - Theo Walcott also showed some of the quality that got him called up for England's 2006 World Cup squad. His blistering pace was reminiscent of the recently departed Henry, and although he is young, his runs caused the Sparta defense a whole lot of problems. It was a cut back from Walcott that set up Rosicky's goal in the 8th minute, and Walcott supplied many chances for others as well. Wenger would like to try some of his magic on Theo, by converting him to a central striker as he did to Henry.

"In the future he'll be used more as a central striker. He can make a difference for England because there are not many strikers in this country who have his qualities or pace.

"If a defender is one yard behind him Theo will never get caught. He makes good runs along the line of the defence and he will be able to use that more when he plays through the middle.

"But it's good for him to learn the job on the flanks."

I haven't seen much of Walcott in a central striker position, but with all of his talent, I'm sure that he will be able to function well in any attacking spot on the pitch. I just hope that Arsene can do with him what he did with Henry. At 18 years old, Walcott still has quite a future ahead of him...

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Why Arsene Wenger Loaned out Johan Djourou

I was very unhappy when I heard that Arsene Wenger had loaned Johan Djourou to Birmingham. As an Arsenal fan, I really like to see the Arsenal youth develop at Arsenal, the club which probably has the brightest young prospects in world football. I was not the only one who was shocked and disappointed when Djourou was loaned out. Djourou is one of the most promising young central defenders in the Premiership (alongside Micah Richards of course) and as such I was hoping to see him get some games this season.

However Wenger defended the decision yesterday, saying "I knew when Djourou left that Alex Song can play in there and Gilberto has played in there already,” said Wenger. “I wanted him to be experienced. I know Kolo will go in January [to the African Nations Cup] and I want Johan to play."

It is good to see that Wenger has him in the plans for the time that Kolo Toure is gone, although I suspect that we may see a lot of Gallas and Senderos if neither of them is injured. What worries me is the talk of Song and Gilberto in the central defensive position. Alex Song should be nowhere near the field until he gets some more experience, as he is not at all up to Arsenal's high standards. For some reason Wenger has faith in him, so I feel he deserves a chance, but that chance should not be in the heart of our defense - a defense which gave up more goals by far than any of the other top four last season. Gilberto on the other hand is a hard tackler, and would make a good defender. However, we have nobody who can effectively replace him in the defensive midfield role, where he shields our defenders better than anybody else. For this reason, I think that Djourou should have remained in our squad - not to mention his height: at 6 ft 4 in he would be very useful in defending set pieces and crosses.

While nobody could have foreseen the injury of William Gallas (despite his injury proneness last season), I still think that it was foolish to let Djourou go. He may get more experience at Birmingham, but as he is one of our brightest prospects for the future, I would like to see him fashioning a partnership with Gallas and Toure, and maybe even Senderos.

I just can't wait until I get to see Djourou play in Arsenal colors in January (not that I want Toure to go or anything - he's a quality defender)

Now that we've qualified: The Champions League Draw Possibilities

Now that we've qualified (after cruising over Sparta Prague) I think it's about time to discuss the possible draws that we could face in the Champions League group stages. The way this works is that UEFA randomly draws one team from each pot into each group, so you get a team from pot 1, a team from pot 2, a team from pot 3, and a team from pot 4 in each group. Here are what the pots look like.

Pot 1:
AC Milan
Inter Milan
Real Madrid
Manchester United

Pot 2:
Sevilla/AEK Athens
PSV Eindhoven
Werder Bremen

Pot 3:
Schalke 04
Steaua Bucharesti
CSKA Moscow
Sporting Lisbon

Pot 4:
Shakhtar Donetsk
Dynamo Kiev
Slavia Prague

Even the teams in pots 3 and 4 are quite competitive, so it would be possible to be drawn a horrible group like Arsenal, Sevilla, Celtic, and Fenerbaçe. However, we could also end up with AEK Athens, Steaua Bucharesti, and Rosenborg, a fairly easy challenge.

Personally, I would like to see a draw of 1 fairly difficult teams and 2 "easy" teams. The reason that I don't want all of our challengers to be "easy" teams is that we never seem to do our best against sub-par opponents. Take last season for example, in which we won the double against the Champions, drew Chelsea home and away, and beat Liverpool 3 times across the course of the season (although we lost to them once); while we lost to teams that were closer to relegation than to European spots.

I think the ideal draw would be something like PSV Eindhoven (for revenge), Steaua Bucharesti, and Rosenborg. That way we would be pretty sure of getting through to the next round, but we would be kept on our toes by PSV, and we would be able to get our revenge. I guess we'll have to wait and see how it goes tomorrow...

What do you think would be the ideal draw? PSV for revenge, or AEK for a (hopefully) easy way through? Post your comments here.

Arsenal vs Sparta Prague - 2nd Half Review

First half Review

Arsenal beat Sparta Prague 3-0 in the home leg of their Champions League qualifying round, to easily make the group stages. Goals from Tomasz Rosicky, Cesc Fabregas and Eduardo da Silva cleaned up the Czech team, who's normally influential (and controversial) captain, Tomas Repka, had little effect on the game.

Arsenal began the second half without making any substitutions, instead sticking with the side which had almost completely deprived Sparta Prague of chances in the first half. However, Sparta Prague came out much stronger in the second, dominating the early minutes with lots of possession in the attacking third.

After winning a corner, a Sparta player sent the ball in, almost resulting in a Robin van Persie own goal, which was well saved by Almunia. Minutes later, Pavel Horvath took a nice dive in the eighteen yard box, appealing for a penalty. The replays showed no contact at all, and the referee saw nothing amiss.

Arsenal still had some possession though, and Theo Walcott tried to add Arsenal's second with an optimistic drive from a good 30 yards, which went well over and to the right of the post, never troubling Postulka. Tempers rose a bit as Tomas Repka's first significant contribution to the match was a yellow card for dissent when one of his teammates didn't receive a free kick after an admittedly dubious looking challenge.

Sparta Prague continued to press however, and in the 57th minute, Rezek played a nice ball in, which was Almunia reached just in time to smother the attack. After the distribution however, a slip in concentration from Phillipe Senderos gave Sparta a good chance, but the resulting cross was cleared by the recovering Senderos, and the resulting corner ended up in the hands of Manuel Almunia.

Because of similar moments of uncertainty in the Arsenal defense, Sparta actually managed more chances than us in the beginning of the second half, but good recoveries made it so that Almunia was not troubled in goal. It was clear to Arsene Wenger, though, that his side needed some urgency injected in it, so Robin van Persie was taken off in favor of Emmanuel Adebayor and Diaby - who had performed admirably in the midfield - was taken off for the young spaniard, Cesc Fabregas.

A few minutes later, Jan Kolar replaced Rezek for Sparta Prague, and Denilson replaced goalscorer Tomasz Rosicky for Arsenal. the subs for both teams brought purpose to their sides, as Fabregas put a little bit too much weight on a through ball to Adebayor. In the 78th minute Kolar had the ball stolen off his foot by Clichy in the nick of time when it seemed sure that he would score a goal.

It wasn't long before Fabregas had an even greater effect, scoring from 15 yards out after Eduardo brilliantly cut through the Sparta defense and cut back a pass which Fabregas stabilized, and then shot into the back of the net. Minutes later Walcott received a yellow card for a push into the back of a Sparta defender, and Sparta seemed to be after a goal, when Kolar was once again dispossessed by Clichy in the penalty area.

However, the fun was soon over for Sparta Prague as Husek got a yellow for a shirt pull on Adebayor. Just minutes before the end of the match, Eduardo finally found the net. Fabregas supplied Denilson with a nice pass, after which he played the ball to Adebayor, got it back, and crossed the ball right into the path of the onrushing Croatian-Brazilian who made no mistake from a few yards out.

So Arsenal made it 5-0 on aggregate in their qualifying match, making it into the lucrative group stages of the Champions League after a convincing performance against the tough Czech side!!!

Arsenal vs Sparta Prague - 1st Half Review

Arsenal dominated the first half of our Champions League qualifier against Sparta Prague, as they went to the dressing room 1-0 up. Sparta Prague was limited to only one major chance, as Arsenal kept the lion's share of the possession, knowing that they were up 3-0 on aggregate after winning the away leg 2-0, with goals from Cesc Fabregas and Alex Hleb who were both rested today, starting on the bench.

An early short back pass from Justin Hoyte gave Almunia a bit of a scare, but he managed to come out in time to clear the ball - one wonders if Jens Lehmann would have been able to do the same. Arsenal's goal came in the 8th minute Tomasz Rosicky slotted home after a brilliant cutback from Theo Walcott, who has been troubling the Sparta Prague defenders all game with his blistering pace.

In the 19th Robin van Persie should have made it two after a great cross from new signing Eduardo, but couldn't steer the ball towards the goal after stretching to reach it. Instead he steered the ball into the ground from about a yard out, after which it bounced over the crossbar.

Soon after, in the 25th minute, Sparta came close after Libor Dosek supplied Marek Kulic, who's shot was blocked, resulting in a corner, which was promptly wasted. 4 minutes later, the first card of the match was shown to Kulic after a rough tackle on Justin Hoyte. Robin van Persie took a teasing free kick which was barely cleared by the Sparta defense for a corner. The corner however, was not delivered as nicely, and ended up right in the hands of Sparta goalkeeper Tomas Postulka.

In the 33rd minute, Sparta had another rare chance, as Pavel Horvath shot just wide of the post. However, it looked as though Almunia would have had the ball covered had it been on target. Just a minute later though, Jan Rezek was supplied a brilliant ball from the midfield as Gael Clichy was caught out. He wasted Sparta's best chance of the match after he successfully lobbed the ball over the hands of the onrushing Almunia, only to see it go just wide of the upright.

Arsenal was back to its domination towards the end of the half, with Robin van Persie supplying a brilliant pass to Kolo Toure in the penalty box. Toure had no sense of urgency however, and took a few too many touches, allowing the ball to be stolen away by the Sparta Prague defense. This was the last of the big chances for either side, as Arsenal will look to begin the second half, sure of qualifying for the Champions League group stages.

Second Half Review

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Arsene Wenger rejects Adriano loan move

Arsene Wenger has publicly stated that he rejected a loan offer from Inter Milan which would have seen troubled Brazilian striker Adriano come to The Emirates in return for an unnamed player.

Wenger told reporters, "He [Adriano] is not needed. I was not out there [in the market] to take a striker on loan.

"If I find the right player with the right quality I will always take him. With Adriano they wanted to give you a player and also take one from your squad.

"It would mean losing a player and then get one in who you were not desperately wanting. It is nothing to do with the quality of Adriano."

The player that Inter Milan were asking for was not revealed, but it was likely promising young striker Nicklas Bendtner, who Arsenal fans would be loathe to see in any colors other than the red and white of Arsenal. It seems as though Adriano would also be unhappy with the move, having stated that he would like to leave Inter permanently, rather than on loan.

Adriano was furious with Inter manager Roberto Mancini for not telling him that he would not feature in Inter's plans this season sooner. However, after being rejected by Arsene Wenger, it seems as though he may have to stay at the San Siro for another season.

I don't think that we need a new striker, and I am glad that Arsene Wenger didn't do away with one of our young talents in favor of an inconsistent performer.

Transfer Rumors: Emanuelson and Boruc

According to the Sunday People Ajax left-back Urby Emanuelson is now on trial with Arsenal. Supposedly, if Arsene Wenger wants to pick him up after the trial he will cost the club somewhere in the region of £5 million, a pretty decent price for such a promising youngster. However, it seems as though this rumor is completely untrue, as the article stated that he had been on trial before this week - but he played for Ajax during their 4-1 drubbing of Heerenveen on Sunday. While we may still be in the market for Emanuelson, he is not on trial at Arsenal.

Another rumor, this one thrown up by Sportingo (whose source is the Daily Mail), has once again linked us to Celtic's incredible shot-stopper, Artur Boruc. He is also being linked with Aston Villa. It is very likely that we are only being linked with him based upon Jens Lehman's blunders, so unfortunately, while I would be very happy to see this deal go through - Boruc is a quality keeper - I doubt that it will materialize. Not only is Wenger unlikely to make a bid for him, I can't imagine that Gordon Strachan would let one of his best players go for a reasonable price.

So there you have it, todays Arsenal transfer rumors. And what do they amount to? As usual, they tell us that there is very little chance of us buying anyone (although I still have my hopes up and would like to see both of these two at Arsenal).

Monday, August 27, 2007

Obafemi Martins is NOT coming to Arsenal

According to The Sun, Newcastle striker Obafemi Martins has admitted that he is flattered by the link with Arsenal, but he is fully committed to Newcastle United. He told The Sun that he wants to stay with Newcastle and fight Michael Owen and new signing Mark Viduka for a spot in the starting 11.

Martins had been linked with Arsenal throughout the summer because of the get-out clause in his current contract, but as I argued in my post about signing a new striker, he would be surplus to requirements as far as I am concerned. While I rate him highly, he is not worth his £13 million price tag, since Arsenal don't really need a striker right now.

What do you think? Is failing to land Martins a mistake like missing out on Ribery and Babel?

Arsenal vs Sparta Prague - Match Preview

On Wednesday afternoon, Arsenal face Sparta Prague at the Emirates in their home game of their 3rd round qualifying fixture for the Champions League. Having won the away match 2-0 after goals from Cesc Fabregas and Alex Hleb, Arsenal are heavy favorites to go through to the lucrative group stage of the Champions League. The win was far from convincing however, as the Czech team controlled the first half and the opening minutes of the second. It took a moment of brilliance from Gael Clichy to set up Cesc's 72nd minute goal, and Hleb's second didn't come until injury time.

Nonetheless, it is the result that matters, and Arsenal will be happy coming into Wednesday's game with a two goal advantage. Also, with Adebayor, Gilberto, Eduardo, and Denilson (who were all out for the away fixture) all back from injury/fatigue, Arsene Wenger will have many more options to choose from. Our manager may even give some of Arsenal's younger players a chance by resting players such as Robin van Persie.

After a last-minute win against Sven-Göran Eriksson's previously undefeated Manchester City side, Arsenal will be fairly confident of qualification for this year's Champions League. If Sparta are to stand any chance of winning this match, they will have to fully shut down Clichy's marauding runs into the attacking third, as well as the defense splitting passes of Hleb and Fabregas.

However, it is possible that Arsenal will be weak in defense, although both Philippe Senderos and Bacary Sagna should be available for the match after recovering from minor injuries suffered before and during Saturday's win over Manchester City. With the error-prone Jens Lehmann out for two weeks, and controversial club captain William Gallas out for over a month, Arsenal will have something of a makeshift defense, which may be exploited by Sparta's front line.

Arsenal should prove nearly impossible to overcome though, and I'm guessing that the scoreline will come out 2-1 in our favor, for an aggregate win of 4-1, and a spot in the Champions League group stage.

By the way, here's a link to the goals from the away leg for those of you who are interested.

Edit: Arsene Wenger today told that Sagna would be sidelined for the match, but is likely to return for Sunday's premiership clash with Portsmouth. Senderos however, is fit, and is likely to start alongside Kolo Toure against Sparta Prague.

First and Second half reviews

Do we need a new striker? If so, who should it be?

Despite having bought Eduardo da Silva and having brought Nicklas Bendtner back from loan this summer, many fans believe that we need another striker to deal with the loss of Thierry Henry. With Arsene Wenger claiming that he wants to play with two strikers, some believe that we need to sign a new striker. Arsenal has been linked with Obafemi Martins, Robinho, and former Arsenal man Nicolas Anelka amongst others. With Bendtner performing admirably during the pre-season and Eduardo looking comfortable in an Arsenal jersey, as well as the fitness of Robin van Persie and Adebayor, I think we are pretty set on strikers. I don't think that we need to bring in any new strikers, and I will go through each of the three men above telling you why they don't belong.

Obafemi Martins - Rumors about the transfer of the 22 year-old Nigerian have been abundant, in large part because of the £13 million buy out clause in his contract. Even now, it is rumored that Arsenal have placed a £9 million bid on the player, although it is unlikely that Big Sam would accept such an offer (even if it were true). At 22, Martins would be a typical Wenger buy (although he has already proven himself in the Premiership with 13 goals last season in 36 league appearances. While he is an excellent player, he is not the type of player that Arsenal need right now. At 5 ft 7 in Martins would be short even for Wenger's current team of midgets. While he is good in the air he has little to offer that can't already be gotten from our current strikers. He may be better than Adebayor and Bendtner right now, but Bendtner has great promise, and in my opinion Adebayor doesn't deserve a starting spot anyways.
Edit: Obafemi Martins is not going to leave Newcastle

Robinho - Robinho plays as a winger or a second striker more than an out-and-out striker. Arsenal don't need a second striker (as we have Hleb who is brilliant playing in that position) and while we do need a winger, we don't need Robinho because of his price tag. While I wouldn't mind seeing Robinho at Ashburton Grove, I don't think that he would warrant the huge price-tag that Real Madrid would be sure to slap on him. A player like him (someone selfish) would be appreciated, but with such a huge price tag and small frame (5 ft 9 in) I would rather see Morten Gamst Pederson or someone similar join us.

Nicolas Anelka - I don't think we need too much of an explanation why Anelka shouldn't rejoin Arsenal. The former Arsenal man was rumored to be Arsene Wenger's first choice as a replacement for Thierry Henry (I'm not quite sure why), but his sulking attitude would make him more of a liability than anything else. He showed us in his two seasons at Arsenal that he is a great player, but his attitude is the type that rips a team apart - not what Arsene Wenger wants.

So there you go. I don't think we should buy a striker, although a winger would be a welcome addition to our squad. However, I don't think that we should be splashing Chelski-like amounts of cash on players like Robinho (unless of course Abromovich decides to buy Arsenal).

What do you think? Do we need a new striker? Who should Arsene be going after?

Urby Emanuelson to come to Arsenal?

Rumor has it that Arsene Wenger is poised to make a move for talented Dutch international, Urby Emanuelson. Although he is fairly well-known (and not French) the Ajax left back fits almost perfectly to Wenger's mold - he is only 21. His experience, however, belies his age. He has played 61 matches for Ajax since his debut in 2004, and has also played 6 matches for the senior Dutch national team. He was also a member of the Dutch U21 team which recently defended their U21 World Cup crown. In the U21 World Cup, Emanuelson was named to the UEFA Team of the Tournament, following his impressive displays at right back. To top it all off, he was recognized as the Talent of the Year at Ajax Amsterdam, an award recently recieved by the likes of Rafael van der Vaart and Wesley Sneijder.

So, he seems fairly qualified for a 21 year-old. The real question, though, is do we need him? Well he would be an able replacement for Armand Traore, but it would seem like a waste to have two of the most promising young left backs sitting on the bench waiting for Gael Clichy - one of the best left backs in the premiership - to get injured or suspended. My verdict: if we sell Traore, then Emanuelson would be a great buy - and the trade from Traore to Emanuelson would certainly be a trade up. However, if we intend on keeping both in our squad, it would simply be squandering talent (unless of course Arsene Wenger manages to work some of his magic by transforming one or the other into a player of a different postion - a left winger perhaps?) Wenger has said that he is not looking at any new players, but it would be great to see Wenger back in the transfer market, so lets hope this rumor is true.

Edit: The Sunday People is now claiming that Emanuelson is currently on trial with Arsenal.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Arsene Wenger: "I am not in the market for any new players."

Arsene Wenger spoke out on the possibility of new signings at, saying "I am not in the market for any new players." This will come as a disappointment to many gooners, including myself, who were hoping that Wenger would bolster the back line, sign a left winger, sign a striker, or any combination of the above. I'm hoping that it the ambiguous way it was said means that he is not currently in any negotiations, rather than what it seems like: that his involvement in the transfer window is over.

This comes as bad news soon after it was announced by
Managing Director Keith Edelman that Wenger was close to signing a deal. Edelman also commented on the financial status of the club, saying:

"We are generating more money out of Emirates Stadium than our debt repayment.

"Therefore we are more profitable at Emirates than we were at Highbury and therefore we can invest more money.

"We will have the largest gate revenue in the UK and when our results are produced (in September) and you see the amount of cash the business has got, some of the comments that have been made over the summer are very wide of the mark.

"We're in very, very good financial health and we're financially very strong as a club."

This would lead me to the conclusion that Arsene has plenty of transfer funds to work with (as has been previously stated by various Arsenal officials), but as usual, the frugal Wenger sees no reason to further invest in a squad that has been tipped by many to be stripped of its Champion's League place by the underachieving Spurs. I trust Wenger, but I seriously hopes that he splashes some cash before the end of the transfer window.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Wenger to sign a new defender

I'm not going to lie, I completely made that up, but one can always hope right? I wasn't able to watch today's game as I was dropping my sister off at college, but a 1-0 win against the undefeated league leaders is never bad right? Not exactly. We won the game, but it proved that we have a very thin back line. I was always against Djourou's loan move, and the reason why was shown today.

Our defense at the end of today's game consisted of Kolo Toure, Clichy, Gilberto, and Flamini. Thats right. Half of our defenders were actually midfielders. It's nice that Gilberto is back, and I'm sure that he stood in well for the injured Gallas and Senderos, but he plays best as a defensive midfielder. Flamini, who's inclusion in the first team I already doubted, has no place in the back line.

It's great that we have Sagna the line-up, as he can play at left-back, center-back or, where Wenger has been playing him so far, right back. I also like the inclusion of Senderos (even at Gallas' expense) because his height is helpful in defending set pieces and he seems to form a better pairing with Toure than Gallas does. But with Gallas set to be out for more than a month, our back line looks decidedly thin. We should have kept Djourou, but I think the best move now would be to go for another versatile defender like Sagna. That way we can keep Gilberto and Flamini where they belong, in the midfield and on the bench respectively. - on the bench.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Walcott vs. Bendtner

Following Theo Walcott's surprise call up to Sven-Göran Eriksson's World Cup squad, he has been followed by an incredible amount of hype, being tipped to become the next Henry at the tender age of 18. Of course though, in an Arsenal side inundated with young talent, Walcott is not the only promising young striker. 19 year-old Nicklas Bendtner has been recalled from his loan at Birmingham, and is now part of Arsenal's first-team squad.

Few would agree with me on this, but I believe that Bendtner has even greater potential than Walcott. In his Emirates debut, a friendly against PSG, Bendtner scored Arsenal's first goal and assisted Mathieu Flamini's winner. Possessing a strong header (and a large height advantage at 6 ft 3 in) Bendtner is a huge threat off of set pieces and crosses, but at the same time troubles defenders with his dribbling and strength on the ball. He has the potential to become the target man that Arsenal have been lacking in their previous two seasons.

Walcott though, could be the one providing him with killer crosses. Wenger is not yet sure whether Walcott is best as a winger (where he has been deployed in most of his Arsenal games) or as a striker. With his incredibly acceleration, Walcott has enough pace and trickery to cause huge problems for any defense, and at the age of 18, Theo has plenty of time to develop into the next Henry - or the left-winger which Arsenal have been missing. However, one thing that Walcott lacks is the killer instinct which Henry had. While he has an impressive record of 4 goals in 7 games at the U21 level for England, he has been unable to score a league goal for Arsenal in 17 appearances. There is no doubt however, that Walcott will mature to become a force to be reckoned with.

It is impossible not to rate both of these Arsenal youngsters highly, I have to give the nod to Bendtner, if only because of his aerial ability. What he lacks in pace he makes up for in height, and unlike Emmanuel Adebayor, Bendtner has no problem putting away his headers.If Arsene Wenger manages to fend off the approaches of Inter Milan (and many more clubs to come) Arsenal will, without a doubt, have one of the best strikers in the Premiership.

Arsene Wenger: "You Need Two Strikers"

Many Arsenal fans have been delighted with the free-scoring start which Alex Hleb has had this season. Hleb has found himself more than comfortable in a supporting role in the 4-4-1-1 system which Arsene Wenger has chosen to use for much of the pre-season as well as Arsenal's first two league matches, scoring 2 goals in 3 matches since Arsenal's first EPL game against Fulham. Hleb's remarkable run of form, which also includes a goal against Ajax in a pre-season friendly has lead me to believe that the correct managerial decision would be to drop the 4-4-2 in favor of the 4-4-1-1 which has been bringing out the best in Hleb this season.

We have genuine quality in the form of Robin van Persie, who could easily win the Golden Boot this season if he stays fit, and with a superb creative dribbler such as Hleb, Arsenal's new system could see Hleb scoring more and more. However, with Adebayor's return imminent after a groin injury, Wenger has told, "I cannot isolate Robin van Persie up there the whole year. It does not work on a longer period. It can work in some games but it cannot be the basis of your game. You need two strikers." I was dismayed upon hearing this, because unless Wenger opts to play an unlikely 4-3-1-2 formation (which would further weaken our play on the flanks) Hleb will no longer have the freedom to play in the center. Unfortunately, despite Hleb's brilliance on the ground, he is not a good crosser of the ball, and therefore does not work well on the right wing - where he was played last season and managed to score only 3 goals. Hleb's tendancy to cut in towards the center of the pitch means that he is not nearly as useful on the wing as he is in the hole. Arsene must realize this at some point, and either play Hleb in his preferred position or not at all.

Adebayor is not good enough to start for a team of Arsenal's stature, and while I rate Nicklas Bendtner and Eduardo highly, one is not yet ready for such a big role in the Premiership, while the other has yet to prove his ability at the highest level. If Arsenal are to see the best of Hleb this season, we must play him in the hole, supporting a lone van Persie up front. If it ain't broke, don't fix it... other than Lehman's blunders we've had a fine start to the season, and until we are comprehensively beaten, I would like to stick with the formation we have been playing.

Lassana Diarra to be allowed to leave Chelsea?

Well, according to Chelsea manager, Jose Mourinho has stated that he would like to offload one player after the purchase of right back Juliano Belletti. Chelsea now have two players for every position, except for right back in which they have Belletti, Ferreira, Glen Johnson and more importantly, stand-in right back Lassana Diarra, who upon his signing was tipped to be the next Claude Makalele.

Diarra, who has been linked with Arsenal throughout the summer, who prefers to play as a defensive midfielder, has already stated his will to leave Chelsea, and would be a welcome addition at Ashburton Grove. In our first two games this season, we have been without a good defensive midfielder due to the fatigue of Gilberto Silva after the Copa America. His replacement, Flamini, has played solidly but has failed to do what Gilberto does best: protect the backline. Unlike Gilberto, Flamini allowed too many shots from 20-25 yards out, failing to smother dangerous attackers. Diaby is also no Gilberto. While he is physically similar to the great Patrick Vieira, he is more of an attacking midfielder, and often neglects his defensive duties. While Gilberto is in the line-up for tomorrow's game against, it would be nice to have a little cover for him in case of injury or suspension. A perfect person to cover him would be Diarra.

At 22, Diarra would be a bit old for a Wenger signing, but still young enough to be able to be molded to the Arsenal style of play. Although he is a bit short, something that many Arsenal players suffer from, his versatility would make him a great squad player, to fill in for any injuries in the midfield or right-back, in a decidedly thin-looking Arsenal squad. I can only hope that Arsene Wenger will pounce on this chance to sign a young player who could plug many gaps in our squad. I'm looking forwards to seeing Diarra in an Arsenal jersey.

Do you think that we should sign Diarra? Do we need cover for Gilberto or is Flamini good enough? Would Wenger be willing to sign him? Leave your comments below.

Update: Arsene Wenger has signed Diarra

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Wenger to sign a new deal!

As I checked last night I was surprised to find an article similar to this one (I don't remember exactly which it was which I first read) stating that Arsene Wenger, Arsenal's manager since 1996, has agreed to sign a new 3 year deal worth a total of £9 million. Following all of the rumors that Wenger was going to leave after this year, it was great news to hear. Stability is always important at a club, and having a manager who is destined to leave often affects the way a team plays.

However, with all of the rumors, I had already given a lot of thought to the effect that Wenger's resignation could have upon the club, but I hadn't yet decided whether it would be a positive or a negative. Now don't get me wrong, I fully appreciate Wenger's contributions to the club, and he is without a doubt the most successful manager that Arsenal has ever had. However, after successive 4th place finishes in the Premiership and a lack of summer signings, many Arsenal fans (admittedly including myself) began to doubt his ability to lead the club to silverware. His lack of experienced signings has been troubling and has lead to two fourth place finishes being labeled as 'gap years' for the young guns to gain some experience. However, despite these two gap years, many football pundits believe that Arsenal will lose its place in the top 4 to the likes of Everton, Newcastle, Manchester City, or the hated Spurs. While I firmly believe that we will retain our position in the Champion's League spots, this is a bit disturbing, and many people place the blame on Arsene's unwillingness to sign established players at a premium.

Not all of Wenger's transfers are viewed in this negative light however. Many people agree that Wenger is the best manager at scouting out upcoming talents, signing Vieira for £3.5 million, Pires for £6 million, and Freddie Ljunberg for £3 million. While many people are upset about his frugality, it is impossible to question the fact that when he does spend money, he spends it well. Even this summer, the signing of Bacary Sagna has done much to bolster our back line, Lukasz Fabianski looks to be one of the brightest goalkeeping prospects for the future, and Eduardo may add the clinical finishing that our squad was missing last season.

However it is not his signings that make a fan want to keep Wenger. It is the mesmerizing brand of football which his clubs play that first attracted me to Arsenal, and it is this same football that would be sorely missed at Ashburton Grove if Wenger were to leave Arsenal. While he may not sign any big names, he has certainly made many lesser known players stars, and his brand of football has made Arsenal the big name when it comes to attractive football. Rarely relying on long balls, Arsenal's slick passing make Arsenal the most entertaining team in the Premiership. While silverware would be a welcome addition, I will stand by Arsene Wenger as long as he continues to fit players into his mind-numbingly beautiful style of football.

What do you think? Is it worth playing attractively and missing out on silverware? Is it possible to win and play beautifully? Is Wenger the right manager for Arsenal?

Edit: Update on Wenger's new deal