Hello again Gooners! Wakey, wakey! Lots to get your head around today! Or maybe not! Maybe it’s time to scream out like Mr Frank Doberman on the Harry Enfield show. Read on and you’ll see what I mean.
TalkSport are showing plenty of determination to keep themselves high in the traffic rankings outside of the transfer window, and why shouldn’t they? They’ve got bills to pay, right? So you won’t see me getting steamed up about speculation. Usually. This time they’ve gone beyond the pale. Perhaps. By linking us with contract rebel, Ashley Cole.
Now, I’ve said before that Wenger doesn’t bring that many ex-players back to Arsenal, but he did recently with Thierry Henry and before that Sol Campbell. But both were short-term deals. Cole wants at least a two-year deal and being the wrong side of 30, he’s more than a tad unlikely to get that at Arsenal. Then there are his wage demands to consider. Arsenal won’t break the bank to bring back an ageing former (dare I say it?) legend. Of course, Cole has become legendary for all the wrong reasons at Arsenal, so there’s no way he’ll be back.
Mikael Silvestre might be a different kettle of fish though. He’s in training at London Colney and I maintain he didn’t do a bad job for us last time around. So if we need an extra body in defence, don’t be too surprised if Silvestre re-joins. Was he really worse than Philippe Senderos, to name just one dodgy centre back we’ve been saddled with? I’d say not.
Talking of fish, boyhood Arsenal supporter Harry Redknapp reckons Theo Walcott ‘can become a big fish at Arsenal’, if played in his right position. That, of course, is centre forward. Harry goes on to say that full backs can handle Theo’s speed of thought and pace better than central defenders and I think he has a point. I’d play Theo on the shoulder of the last defender, where his pace could be most devastating. It could lead to plenty of one-on-ones. And as we’ve seen, Theo can finish. Better than Gervinho, at least.
A former big fish, Cesc Fabregas, hasn’t taken kindly to life as a small fish in a big Barca pond, apparently. I’d take these stories with a pinch of salt, but the upshot is Cesc wants out. Would we want him back? Of course, we would. He’s not like Santi Carzorla, at all, in my opinion. Yes, he’s a creative midfielder, and yes, he’s Spanish. That’s where the similarities begin and end. We’ve seen Cesc play as a false number 9 for Spain. Can you imagine Cazorla playing in that position. No? Me neither.
One player who could do that and lots more is Andrey Arshavin. That’s why I’m relieved that the Russian transfer deadline has been and gone and the meerkat remains an Arsenal meerkat. Quite why the club were offering him on a free transfer is anyone’s guess. I can’t believe it. Also, a loan move to Dinamo Moscow was apparently rejected by Arshavin, according to the Russian club’s manager Dan Petrescu. Meanwhile, we’ve had official word from Russian club Zenit St Peterburg that Arshavin being offered on a free transfer was indeed true. Quoting RAI Novosti, for a moment: ‘Arsenal have allowed Arshavin to leave on a free transfer, which was one of Zenit’s conditions for signing the former player’. Apparently, there was a second condition that wasn’t fulfilled. Only Arshavin knows this second condition, we’re told. What could it have been? No more meerkat adverts?
Anyway, Arshavin will almost certainly leave on a free next summer if he’s not sold in the January 2013 transfer window. Former Gunner Nigel Winterburn reckons we need to start ‘nailing’ down players ‘when they’ve got one-and-a-half years to go’ on their contracts. I make him right. So that means we need renegotiate deals for Wojciech Szczeny, Tomas Rosicky (okay, maybe not him!), Marouane Chamakh (defintely not him!), Denilson (ditto), Nicklas Bendtner (ditto and will be sold soon, hopefully), Vito Mannone (one of three quality goalkeepers of about the same level at the club, according to Wenger) and Bacary Sagna.
Mmm. Bacary. Is he about to breeze off with his old mate Alex Song to Barcelona? Or will Man City come calling? He said: ‘In May, I watched City’s parade on Tv. I saw Samir
[Nasri] and Gael [Clichy] lift the trophy. I want that.’ Will he get it by staying at Arsenal? Not until or if they Fair Financial Play rules kick in. No wonder Wenger is so in favour of FFP. It’s a case of ‘No Poo Poirot’ when websites run that headline!
With or without FFP, though, will our fortunes on the transfer front change that much? Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa reckons Arsenal made a ‘tentative approach’ for his services. But he’d rather go to AC Milan. The Italian club’s £4.75m bid was rejected, but why didn’t the Montpellier captain fancy joining his former team-mate Olivier Giroud at Arsenal? Was it the lack of trophies? Was it the pay packet? Was it because Arsenal’s approach was so ‘tentative’ that it was imaginary. I hope we’ll find out one day!
I’d like to know the same about our two bids for Newcastle Yohan Cabaye. Louise Taylor of the Guardian say we made a couple of offers for the France international midfielder, so she’s either got some pukka sources or she’s just made it up. Maybe we’ll go back for Cabaye in January, if our interest is genuine.
One player who almost certainly won’t be joining is former England U17 international Liam Moore. The 19-year-old Leicester defender is much-coveted, so that means he’ll probably end up at Manchester United. Everton, Spurs and Villa are also interested in the 14-stone youngster.
I’m pessimistic about signing English talent because of the price. United beat us to Nick Powell, and no doubt they’ll beat us to Moore, if the interest is genuine. As Peter Hill-Wood says ‘We can’t spend £50m on one player’. We all know that. We don’t need to be told that. Actions speak louder than words as does inaction. On the transfer front, in Arsenal’s case.
Hill-Wood thinks we could win the league this season, but I don’t share his optimism. Clubs run on shoestrings rarely win trophies. And if they do, they can’t sustain it. And if they do, they’re usually playing in a smaller league than we are.
Hill-Wood’s right about one thing: ‘The Glasgow Rangers example is something we’ve all got to guard against’. Others would mention Leeds United in the same breath. It’s all very well having ambition, but when it involves such a high level of risk, who would back that? I suspect not many of us.
Nevertheless, I don’t understand why he won’t allow Usmanov on the board. If Usmanov is willing to shell out millions on our squad what’s the problem with that? As long as all the paperwork is in place to stop the club falling into financial ruin, what’s the problem? Hill-Wood said that he didn’t think Usmanov would ‘fit in, that’s all’. That’s pretty crass. It’s like objecting to David Dein’s idea of sharing Wembley because it’s a ‘bloody long way’ to go. Dein’s idea would have ensured that we had more money to spend on transfers. Then we could have competed for the league still. It’s a good job I’m not on the board, as I would vote Gunnersaurus in as chairman. The mascot might resemble the present incumbent in some ways, but might be better at PR. Rant over!