Archive for the ‘ Transfer Related ’ Category

Just get Scott Dann!

Arsenal has been looking for a solid defender ever since the start of the transfer market this season. Yes, we signed Carl Jenkinson but he’s just one for the future.

Firstly we were close to signing Phil Jones, but he just chose to join Manchester United instead. Considering Manchester United’s recent successes, no one can blame him.

The rumor of Gary Cahill has just been inconspicuous. First it seemed the rumor was pretty strong, and then the news just kept fading away. His transfer to Arsenal now seems highly unlikely

Then there was Christopher Samba, who was misquoted by The Sun that he expressed an interest to join Arsenal. He came back and quashed it furiously. He might as well be leaving Blackburn, but his price tag may just a bit too much for what he’s worth to Arsenal.

The first bid of 10m was turned down by Everton for Jagielka. He seems to be the most likely defender to join Arsenal as rumour has it that Wenger will re-bid for 15m. That would be an interesting dilemma for Moyes, and only patience will dictate this transfer.

What about Scott Dann? Arsenal has been linked with him for a while now. He was close to a switch to Stoke but it didn’t materialize in the last minute. From then on the likes of Chelsea, Tottenham and Liverpool have also joined the race. I know Birmingham was relegated last season, but they have always been a gritty defensive team. All the Premier League clubs last season found it hard to break the Birmigham defense, especially in St Andrews. The reason for that is both Roger Johnson and Scott Dann were rock solid in defense.

One thing is encouraging is that Wenger is only showing interest in Premier League defenders, those who have been performing consistently and are physically capable of handling the pressure week in and out. He’s not going to risk it with an overseas signing this time around.

If a 10m bid is enough to secure Scott Dann, then Wenger should put in some serious thought to getting the 24 year old centre-back to Arsenal. Let’s face it, time is running out and teams will be more and more hesitant to get rid of their first choice defenders as it’ll be even harder to replace them. Dann would be a strong back-up to both Vermaelen and Koscielny. He would also probably provide stiff competition to Squillaci for a run in the first team!

 

 

PS: Join our Fantasy Premier League for the 2011/2012 season, league invitation code: 169093-63714

Follow me @sharjil

 

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What Effect Did The Pre-Season Games Have On Fabregas And Nasri?

This has hardly been one of our best pre-seasons in recent years. Whether you accept it or not, there is a very pessimistic vibe around the club now-a-days. Anxiety mixed with tension from practically throwing away our title hopes last season still remains. The lack of signings so far, especially in the defensive department, is not helping at all. On top of that, we just lost a trophy in our own tournament which featured far weaker teams than previous pre-seasons.

Of course, the boos were unnecessary and uncalled for. It’s just another pre-season game, after all. The whole point of the matches was to improve fitness levels, try out different formations and experiment with different combinations of players.

I think there were a number of reasons why some of the fans were upset:

1)     Szczesny, Djourou and even Wenger himself have been saying how they have been practicing to avoid conceding silly goals. But, in none of the pre-season games did this show. All we saw was the same shaky Arsenal defense giving away comfortable leads and conceding at the most awkward times. At the moment, it looks like the ‘one defender’ Wenger promised may not be enough.

2)      Arsenal has been poor in most of the pre-season games so far. Yet after each match, Wenger would come out and praise the team as if it was all fine and well. He even managed to squeeze in some ridiculous comments such as ‘we managed to play well for 60 minutes’. Sometimes I feel Wenger intentionally tries to anger the fans! I just hope he acts differently in the dressing room.

3)      According to Wenger, this is supposed to be our ‘most important transfer window’ in a long time. Yet, so far, there is hardly anything that’s been done in the transfer market to A) strengthen our defence and B) replace players who have or are yet to leave.

4)      Squillaci

So, losing the Emirates Cup was pretty disappointing and some fans certainly overreacted to the situation. But there are some delusional fans that have hardly reacted. I remember reading some of the post-match tweets saying stuff like ‘Glad that we didn’t win the Emirates Cup, now the players will want to win the PL title even more’. I’m sorry, it’s one thing to be spiritual but that’s just absurd. How can anyone justify losing/drawing in any game, regardless of its triviality, as being positive?

Some fans went on to say things like ‘I’m glad we are playing this bad, at least this will help Wenger realize how weak the team is!’ If you ask me, losing a pre-season game is hardly something which will bring Arsene to realize the problems within the team. If throwing away 4-0 leads and making ludicrous defensive errors in actual competitive cup matches did not bring Wenger to reality, a mere pre-season friendly surely wouldn’t!

In any case, all this pessimism brought me to think about the Cesc and Nasri situation. Both are apparent want-aways but both have different reasons to leave.

Cesc wants to leave the club to play for his boyhood club Barcelona. In fact he wanted to leave for quite some time now. Reportedly, Fabregas was ready to leave Arsenal last year but cunning Arsene convinced him otherwise. Arsene bought Fabregas for one more year saying that Arsenal would win trophies the following season. Cesc was already frustrated with the lack of trophies after serving for Arsenal since he was sixteen, but he couldn’t say ‘no’ to the man who made his career. So that was that, one more year for Cesc. But as we all know, the trophies never arrived and things are now more unstable than ever in the Cesc transfer saga.

The Nasri situation is quite different. Although it’s clear Nasri is reluctant to sign a new contract, the reason for not signing is still obscure. Some say that Nasri is a typical sports mercenary and is holding up for a big-wage contract offer while others say he would not commit to a club who are not winning trophies and furthermore doing hardly anything to change that.

Surely the current way Arsenal are playing is not helping either of the situations. The same old problems shroud the team and this seems to be clear to all but Wenger. In the last game, Nasri seemed to be in all sorts of disarray. His mind never seemed to be in the game. Cesc  reportedly left the match during half time. The fans losing hope in the team is one thing, but when players themselves lose hope, it’s something completely different.

But, maybe things aren’t as bad as they look. Maybe we will perform when it’s required for us to perform and maybe things will be done to fix all the issues before the start of the season. Maybe…

 

PS: Join our Fantasy Premier League for the 2011/2012 season, league invitation code: 169093-63714

Defensive Frailties Continue – Will Jagielka Save Us?

Arsenal couldn’t even win the Emirates Cup. This year our opponents were much weaker, and they still failed to win it. Two utterly disappointing draws.

It’s true that there weren’t too many goals either. The same old story, Arsenal creates countless opportunities but convert only a few. However, once the season starts we know Arsenal will start to convert more. Nobody has ever been in doubt over our attacking threat. Yet, while the defense disappointed us last season, it’s started failing us again this pre-season.

If our defense looks weak against the likes of Boca Juniors, New York Red Bulls and Hangzhou Greentown, how do you expect to contest for titles? Arsenal’s priority this year in the transfer market was clearly to go out and reinforce our defense, yet there has just been one defender entering the team. While our first choice LB in Clichy left, Wenger announced that our second choice LB was up for the task. Those who saw the match against NYRB would agree that Kieran Gibbs had no impact on the game whatsoever.

A month left in the transfer market, and Wenger will definitely sign a defender. He doesn’t want to name names, but it’s evident he will. The most likely transfer targets so far have been Phil Jagielka, Gary Cahill and Chris Samba. Will a Jagielka just come in and plug our leaking defense? I certainly hope so. I’m happy atleast Wenger is looking at center backs who are established in the Premier League rather than resorting to ones abroad.

If for some reason we don’t see a new defensive signing, or if it’s just a young defender like Carl Jenkinson, all hopes for the coming season are gone. Just a couple of injuries in the backline, and our season would be instantly over. The only thing we can hope for then is that we don’t turn into a Liverpool.

Follow me at @sharjilh

PS: Join our Fantasy Premier League for the 2011/2012 season, league invitation code: 169093-63714

Santi Cazorla – The Ideal Signing

I didn’t know much about Santi Cazorla before his name appearing on the Arsenal radar this week. He often comes off the bench for Spain, but we all know the supreme quality of even the Spanish reserves.

The reason his name is even appearing on the Arsenal rumor mill is clear – Wenger is preparing for Fabregas’s departure. As Mata and Hazard seem less to likely to come to Arsenal day by day, Wenger is looking for the other options.

Villareal’s Cazorla is strongly linked to a move to Malaga (the new Man City of the Spanish Primera), and his availability has sparked interest from elite clubs everywhere. However, is he worth his 20m valuation? Or more importantly, does he suit the Arsenal bill?

He looks to be the ultimate playmaker. Although a bit on the short side (height wise), he always creates his own space all over the field, and more importantly looking for the ball to come to him. Passing is exquisite, whether short or long balls. He does have the tendency to take some rash shots from distance, but his goal scoring record for Spain and at club level is decent. Take note that he’s quite fast too, so blending into the already fast-paced Arsenal side shouldn’t be a problem.

In the scenario that either Fabregas or Nasri leave, Cazorla could be the ideal signing for Wenger. Hopefully Malaga doesn’t snap him up quickly, and then Arsenal could race for his signature over the next couple of weeks.

PS: Join our Fantasy Premier League for the 2011/2012 season, league invitation code: 169093-63714

Why Wenger’s Latest Comments Do NOT Make Any Sense

“Certainly, we will have to find one more defender. I can promise we work very hard on it. In fairness, everybody looks for players.”

“I don’t want to comment individually because I do not want to destabilise clubs. I do not want to do to other clubs what Barcelona some clubs do to us so I wouldn’t like to comment individually on any player”

 “We still try to strengthen our side but I’m already very happy with what we show at the moment. If you look all around Europe at the different clubs there’s very little movement. I will all speed up in August I think.”

”We are traveling [toCologne] with 23 players and 3 goalkeepers. We have a big squad already”.

‘’Looking at [Abou] Diaby, [Cesc] Fabregas and [Emmanuel] Eboue, still behind plus [Nicklas] Bendtner still behind, that’s 27-28 players, we have a massive squad already, there’s very little movement at the moment.’’

These are the latest comments from our Boss, Arsene Wenger. Anyone else feel there’s something seriously faulty about those remarks?

First of all, was our squad good enough to win the league last season? I am talking about the whole squad, not just the first 11. The answer to that question is clearly a ‘NO’. So basically if we have players leaving that squad and they are not replaced, will that strengthen or weaken the squad? It will weaken it.

So far, to improve our squad we have bought Carl Jenkinson and Gervinho. If you think about it, the signing of Carl Jenkinson probably did improve our squad but it did not really correct anything that was wrong with it. Jenkinson is a rightback and as far as I know, our critical problems last season were NOT in that particular position. To be fairly honest, I have no problem with the Sagna/Eboue combo at right back. Point being, although I welcome the signing of this youngster, I feel that he did not really fix any of the problems with our squad. He is just a ‘good addition’.

Gervinho signing for us is different. From what I know, Gervinho is a winger and we did lack width last season. So if Gervinho is a proper winger (we will probably find out today vs FC Cologne), then he will improve and correct some of the problems in the squad. Apparently Gervinho can play as a striker too, so he can possibly fill the void if RVP and/or Chamakh are absent.

Now, IF everything remains the same and we do sign a new defender (as Wenger suggests above), then I would say we have a decent squad for next season. But it’s not all that simple is it?

The real complication arises when players have to leave the squad. So let’s see:

1)     Clichy and Denilson have already left for Mancity and Sao Paolo respectively

2)      Bendtner, Almunia and possibly Eboue to leave imminently

3)      Either Cesc or Nasri or both to leave soon

So basically, FIVE players are guaranteed to be out of our squad next season. And although Arsenal fans are tearing up their hair with anxiety and fear, Wenger is ‘already happy’ with the situation!

He mentions that we have a huge squad already. Ok, but isn’t this pretty much the same squad as last season? Using just logic, nay, common sense, even a retarded person can point out the flaw in Wenger’s comments.

Is he trying to say that the squad, which is the same as last season, has improved so much  that he does not need any new additions? Is that even possible? It’s been just around 3 months since the season ended. In just three months, how much could a player have possibly improved?!

Players like Diaby, Rosicky and RVP will probably be out for long periods during next season as it has been for last few seasons. There will surely be other unpredictable casualties like that of Vermaelen last season. If you deduct five players from that squad, then surely it is something to be alarmed about.

As a wise man once said ‘Always prepare for the worst’, we should too, especially after seven years of failure. But so far, all that I  see is faulty optimism. Wenger is gambling at a time when the stakes are higher than ever. All I can do is just close my eyes and hope it somehow pays off.

Bend it like Bendtner

Our super star striker, Zlatan Ibrahimovic wannabe is finally heading to a graceful Arsenal exit.

I’ve been so surprised over the last one year of his continued insistence of trying to leave Arsenal. His main justification was that Wenger was sidelining him from the Arsenal first time when he feels he is ‘ready’. You’re ready Nicklas, nobody doubts that. That’s why you were Wenger’s first choice striker in the Champions League a couple of seasons back. When Van Persie had been sidelined through injury and Bendtner was available, he was playing. Sadly enough, Bendtner couldn’t live up to his own standards last season and Marouane Chamakh took his spot. Still he continuously got chances, and except for a few quality finishes, he continuously failed.

So I hope he doesn’t blame Wenger, because he did get plenty of opportunities. In fact, a lot more than even the fans wanted.

It’s his ego that is always questionable. On many instances he said that he has the potential to be the world’s greatest striker, and compared himself to the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic (who knows why Ibrahimovic is his benchmark in the first place?). It’s not joke to be of the class of Zlatan. No doubt there was a lot of hype around him. Steve Bruce picked up his potential pretty quickly in his loan spell to Birmingham City. Still, you can’t just go to the press and make over-confident statements like that. Prove your quality on the field first, and others will judge potential and ability. I’m sure he expected ‘top clubs’ all over the world to come knocking after finding out his transfer availability, but that didn’t happen. Hopefully that has brought him back to earth.

Either way I wish him the best of luck wherever he goes. He’s still young, so maybe he will be a top world-class striker one day. If only he was a bit more patient, he could have been an Arsenal favourite.

Scouting Michael Ciani to Arsenal

With Arsene Wenger confirming he will sign a defender for cover to both Vermaelen and Squillaci, rumours of a new center back are more frequent. One of those defenders that have popped up in the media as being in the Arsenal radar is Michael Ciani

He is Chamakh’s former team mate at Bordeaux, and tall too! Standing at 6 ft 2 inches is not a joke. Arsenal are always linked with tall defenders (Gary Cahill for e.g.) but have not signed any in the recent past.

Ciani has been quite impressive for Bordeaux after joining the club in the summer of 2009. He was especially strong and composed for Bordeaux in their Champions League campaign last season and has continued his consistency so far this season as well. So Ciani is definitely not inexperienced in the Champions League side of football. Infact he has already got one international cap. After France’s dismal display at the 2010 World Cup, it looks like Ciani could be looked upon and called up more often to the national side.

Michael Ciani Michael Ciani of Bordeaux gestures during the UEFA Champions League Group A match between Juventus FC and FC Girondins de Bordeaux at the Olympic Stadium on September 15, 2009 in Turin, Italy.

However, is he too expensive as cover for two frontline defenders? Probably. Michael Ciani would be atleast 10 mill and I’m not sure Wenger will gamble on a defender without Premier League experience to use as cover for January. Secondly, Ciani is also French. Arsenal have always been criticized for being the French team of England. It probably is true. Just imagine Clichy, Sagna, Koscielny, Squillaci, Nasri and Diaby in the same lineup. It’s all French. Fans are a bit wary of that and I think Wenger will be too to sign another French player for Ligue 1. It’s probably why we’re hearing more rumours of English defenders being linked with Arsenal, like Cahill, Upson and Woodgate. Not to even forget that Bordeaux will try a lot harder to keep one of their star defenders, after losing both Chamakh and Gourcuff last season.

I personally don’t see Squillaci as being our main central defender. He’s more like Mikael Silvestre of Arsenal type of player. Since Vermaelen’s injury just keeps getting worse and it seems like his role this season will be minimal, we definitely need to sign someone better than Squillaci. Ciani has all the qualities to be a formidable defender in the Premier League and possibly much better than Squillaci as well. So if the Arsenal backroom is as ambitious as they portray to the media, then Wenger should give some serious consideration in signing someone like Ciani. With just a few days left to the close of the transfer window, Wenger has to think quick!