The next three matches are the most important matches in Arsene’s time at Arsenal. Never has an Arsenal team been so short of quality players and never has our season hung on thread so early. Three defeats and the fans will be calling for Arsene’s head, three undefeated games and Arsene will have bought time to restructure the squad.
Matters have not been helped by early season suspensions, Gervinho and Song will miss both games against Liverpool and Manchester United, as well as the Swansea City game. To compound matters for tomorrow’s game, Gibbs, Diaby and Wilshere are all out injured, whilst there is a doubt over the fitness of Rosicky. In attack we welcome back our captain van Persie, but that is it.
For tomorrow’s game Arsene must decide as to whether he plays Traore at left back or moves Vermaelen to that position, a move that could reveal our weakness at the centre of the defence once more.
Crucially, will Wenger play Arshavin in the playmaker role? Arguably the Russian’s best games for Arsenal were when he joined and played just behind the striker, this role allowed him to roam around the field and did not require him to track back, something that our little Russian does not enjoy doing. If Arshavin plays in the playmaker role, I would like to see Lansbury employed on one of the flanks, and given a similar task that Ray Parlour used to perform, that is asked to tuck in when we do not have the ball.
Arsene has few options for tomorrow a game that will see many youngsters on the bench.
Both league games will big tests for the Arsenal squad, but I would hope that by the Manchester United game we will have bought one or two more players.
On the transfer front, everything has gone quiet, which in Arsenal terms is normally a positive. Wenger pulled out of the Mata deal once other teams entered the fray, Arsenal are not prepared to enter into an auction which was one of the reasons that we did not sign Ricardo Alvarez earlier on this season. Arsenal prefer to do business behind closed doors and nearly always walk away once a transfer has been leaked. I do not believe the Mata deal is dead, Chelsea may using Mata to force Modric’s hand at Spurs. If Mata does not move to Chelsea next week, expect Arsenal to try to sign him prior to the transfer window closing.
Everyone agrees that a centre-half is a top priority for Arsenal with four centre-halves linked to us this summer, Chaill, Jagielka, Dann and Samba. Samba has probably been priced out of the market as far as Wenger is concerned and Jagielka seems set on staying at Everton, though if we have not bought a centre-back, Wenger will try a transfer deadline day swoop, Everton have financial problems and are unable to enter the transfer market without selling. It was interesting that Scott Dann did not feature for Birmingham City in the Europa League last night. If was due to sign for Liverpool, playing in Europe would not be an issue, but Arsenal would not have wanted him cup-tied. Gary Cahill will go to the wire. No club has made a bid for him, Bolton are in need of money and unless he has a change of heart and signs a new contract, he will leave on a free next summer, something that Bolton cannot afford to allow. Wenger would well tie up Scott Dann soon and then wait until transfer deadline day and offer Bolton £10M-£12M.
Last weekend we were strongly linked with Shaktar Donetsk Brazilian playmaker Jadson, with Shaktar claiming we had agreed a fee for the player. This was flatly denied by Arsene. Is this a case of a selling club trying to generate interest or did Arsenal tell Shaktar and Jadson to keep quiet or the deal is off?
Reports from Italy this week have linked us with Lazio’s Argentina attacker Zarate, with some reports claiming we were discussing terms with his representatives over a possible £10M – £18M move.
On the exit front, Nasri will be leaving to join Manchester City this week-end, Armand Traore has been linked with a loan move to QPR leaving us short of left-back cover and Niklas Bendtner has still not found a club.
All in all a very nerve racking 8 days ahead for Arsenal fans.
At the end of last season we heard that this was going to be a busy transfer window, Arsene Wenger had stated that we lacked some experience, we were weak in defence and all Arsenal fans cheered. At last Le Boss was prepared to spend money to resolve our defensive weaknesses both at the back and in midfield.
All Arsenal fans expected some departures, none of us expected Fabregas to stay and Nasri was 50:50 as to whether he stayed or not.
As the summer entered into full swing, noises from Arsenal were encouraging, from Wenger, Gazidis and Hill-Wood. Wenger then threw cold water on our excitement by stating we were likely to move for players towards the end of July, this then moved to the beginning of August and now we are still waiting.
It was not a shock that Cesc joined Barcelona and it will not be a major surprise if Nasri also follows him out of the door. The major shock for Arsenal fans is that we have not bought a centre-half yet and that Wenger and the board have spent all summer negotiating the departures of players.
Wenger is under pressure from the fans to buy players as was demonstrated on Saturday and probably tonight. Wenger does not know who to buy or is reluctant to spend big money. This is naïve business by Wenger; it is not his job to make money for Arsenal. We should have bought Cahill and Mata before the season even started. Everyone knows this yet Arsene insists that Jenkinsson, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Miyaichi and Campbell are suitable additions to the first team squad.
Arsene has dithered yet again in the transfer market, selling the club’s jewels in return for more under 20 year olds. This is not the sign of a club wanting to challenge for trophies, this is a sign of a club willing once more to allow the manager to indulge in his philosophy of “Youth will Win a Trophy”.
All media outlets appear to be suggesting that Juan Mata should sign sometime in the next 48 hours, which is great news. Also confirmed by our Chairman and this is a rarity, Arsenal never comment on transfer news and every time Hill-Wood speaks it is to say something against the existing players, Arsenal have made an offer for Jagielka.
“We have made a bid for him but they didn’t think it was enough,” Hill-Wood said. “It is very busy but nothing is actually happening. We are trying to buy a few players but it isn’t going to happen overnight.”
What is interesting is the Hill-Wood stated we are trying to buy a few players, this could mean that Mata and Jagielka will not be the end of the buying spree!
The news last night from Costa Rica is that Joel Campbell has agreed to join us after the FIFA Under-20 World Championships. What is still not clear is will Campbell be given a work permit to actually play for us next season. Arsenal appear to have applied for a “special talent” permit for Myiachi, which if granted means that we cannot apply for a second “special talent” permit. Whatever happens the signing of Campbell is great news, he is young, strong and athletic, just what we require.
Hill-Wood also gave an indication as to the frustration over the Cesc transfer, which has rumbled on for over a year. Barcelona have offered us £26M, yes a paltry £26M, not because they have no money, but they are still hurting that he left them for small fee 8 years ago and that since then we have taken a couple more of their academy players. In the eye of Barca the difference in valuations, £14M, equates to £6M for Bellerin and Toral, rather than the €1M we agreed and have paid, and £8M is what we should have paid Barca when Cesc joined us as a 16 year old. Barcelona begrudge paying us £40M for a player who they consider to be theirs! Arsenal need to make a public statement that unless the deal is agreed by next week-end, then Cesc will be staying at Arsenal for the 2011/12 season. This needs to be made clear to Fabregas and his representatives and if they are not happy with the situation then they can speak to Barcelona to increase their offer.
At long last we are seeing some movement on the transfer front. It will be amazing if we go into the new season with Gervinho, Mata, Nasri and Fabregas, that will be an awesome squad.
Another day of excitement for Arsenal in the transfer market without anything actually happening!
Mata has been reported to have tied his colours to the Arsenal mast and rejected Harry Redknapp’s overtures, and nobody actually blames him. Spurs have had their one season In the Champions League, the DVD Box Set has been produced to keep the fans sweet, whilst Arsenal with the acquisition of players like Mata and keeping van Persie fit will challenge for the title next season.
Reports in The Times state that we are going to increase our offer for Jagielka to £13M, this might be more acceptable to Everton, but I still question whether Jagielka is the man for us.
There have been more links with Benzema. It is rumoured that Real Madrid are interested in Tevez and would need to clear out a few players to raise the funds and the wages. The fee is thought to be around £25M for the France striker. This is a player who Wenger rates highly and it could be another Henry situation, whereby his move from France was not a success and Wenger moves in to offer him an escape route.
On the departure front despite the many announcements that Eboue has agreed terms with Galatasaray, there has been no announcement from wither club or player, but a £4m deal has been mentioned in several places.
Antoher player about to leave is our Denmark striker Niklas Bendtner who has been excused from playing a part in our pre-season friendlies to look for another club. Both the Metro and Correio da Manhã have stated that Bendtner is in Portugal and will be unveiled as a Sporting Lisbon player. The fee thought to be In the region of £9M. Bentdner has been slated by many, but we must also ask ourselves was he really given the chance to play in his favourite position, a central striker? Too often he as asked to play out on the wing, when his threat was more aerial and holding the ball.
Another want-away star is left kicking his heals training with the reserves and youth team, this is our illustrious and respectful captain who is also nursing an injury. His beloved Barcelona are not prepared to meet the asking price £35M-£40M. Barcelona are digging in their heals because Arsenal signed Cesc from Barcelona for a nominal fee they are of the opinion that they do not have to pay the asking price. Arsenal fans are resigned to losing Cesc this summer, we just want it sorted out sooner rather than later.
Arsenal’s big week-end is just two days away and Arsenal fans would love to see Mata and a defender unveiled on Saturday before the tournament starts.