Song to leave after all, Vermaelen captain, Jack the new no.10 – AFC

Robin Van Persie news aside it’s quite exciting that the start of the new premiership season has finally arrived. The break in the season has been quite adequately filled through a combination of European championships and the Olympic games but now its time to get down to the real stuff. Sunderland will come a knocking on the Emirates door and the Arsenal faithful will be turning up in their droves to witness what is hoped to be a new dawn. Another captain has gone, Alex Song could soon follow, quality players have been brought in yet we are still in a much better position than last season. The transfer business seems far from done but the preparation for the new season has been a lot more balanced and I cant see why will not end the 1st game of the season with 3 points on the board. I’ve got my ticket for the game and cant wait to take my place in the north bank and soak up the pre match buzz; A chance to see the new boys in the flesh and welcome Thomas Vermaelen as our new skipper.

Skipper

Although it was quite obvious Tom would take on the role once van persie was gone we still awaited the official announcement which was revealed yesterday on the official website. The poisoned chalice has been passed on and I hope that now Vermaelen has taken on the role he doesn’t follow the embarrassing trend of leaving next summer. Vermaelen was the only real contender for the role since he was vice captain last season, he leads by example and typifies the kind of fighting spirit football fans love. Mikel Arteta has been promoted to vice captain and he is another player who fits the mould, I would have chosen either Arteta or Song for the role as vice captain but since the revelation that Song may move on he has voluntarily opted out of the reckoning.

On the song topic we have moved from two days ago when Alex Song revealed his love for the club and how happy he was to yesterday’s admission by Arsene Wenger than there is every chance that Song could leave. In yesterday’s press conference Wenger backed up his admission of Song’s departure with:

“Midfield is an area where we have much more freedom to make decisions”

That answer was in conjunction with the potential acquisition of Nuri Sahin. So it seems we may lose our Cameroonian enforcer but gain a new member in the Real Madrid midfielder. Not a like for like replacement as Wenger maybe has plans for other players currently in the squad to step into that defensive role. Francis Coquelin could continue his development and rise to the challenge if thrown into the role. Wenger revealed Emmanuel Frimpong is three weeks away from starting training which is great news and then we also have Abou Diaby’s return to fitness. On paper we are well stocked for that position in reality it’s not that simple, could interest in Yann M’vila be reignited? Possibly especially since Arsene has a spare £24m in his back pocket now.

In another bit of interesting news, the squad numbers have been updated for the new season and the no.10 shirt which we all thought was being reserved for Lukas Podolski has actually been awarded to Jack Wilshere. A great honour for the young Englishman and the sooner we see him donning that shirt and restoring some legendary status back to that number after it was tarnished by the previous tenant the better.

Jack was overly pleased with the number and explained:

“It’s such an honor for me,”

“Getting the No 10 shirt again at the Club means so much to me as I wore it all through the youth teams at Arsenal.”

Nice touch Jack and I’m sure you will do the shirt service like the last Dutch legend DB10 as he revealed:

“It has a special place for all attacking or creative players. I feel proud to wear it now after some real Club legends have worn it, such as Dennis Bergkamp.”

Podolski has taken up the no.9 shirt after Park was demoted moved to no.30 the move makes sense. No.9 is one of the premier attacking numbers and it would be fitting it went to a player more likely to be in the starting XI. Park appears to be on borrowed time and will probably move on by the time the transfer window closes.

Francis Coquelin has also been rewarded for his rise through the ranks and into 1st team recognition by taking on Gael Clichy’s old number 22.

I hope you guys have done your fantasy league teams for the new season. I decided to finalize mine last night to avoid a possible meltdown of the fantasy premier league website as many of the last minute fans rush to register their team. The exact thing happened last year and the website was forced to start the season a week later to compensate. Get ’em in early to avoid disappointment, use the details below:

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Kyle Bartley joins Swansea. Is project youth failing? – AFC

It’s all happening at the Arsenal now, players are leaving left right and centre. Whilst arsenal fans are still digesting the news of the imminent robin van persie deal to united revealed on Wednesday; news broke last night of the permanent transfer of Kyle Bartley to premiership team Swansea. Hardly the straw that broke the camel’s back but all the same a sign that project youth didn’t bear the gem that all the time and investment warranted.

The scouting team clearly saw something special in Bartley when they plucked him from Bolton youth a few years back, he seemed to be working his way through the ranks at arsenal. He has definitely benefitted from a number of loan moves to improve his game; the most recent gaining big game experience at Ibrox with Rangers. Many thought that would be the high profile experience that would put him in good stead to cope with the demands of representing arsenal.

His promotion to the 1st team this season looked like an indication of a breakthrough season on the cards. The opportunity he had been waiting for ever since joining the club would be realised this season; all be it as 5th choice centre back. Would he have the patience to wait for an opportunity to stake a claim for the starting XI or would the experience of regular 1st team football at the top level with Rangers give him the taste to experience more of that?

It’s clear Kyle saw the latter as the better option and to be fear arsenal fans cannot hold it against him. Regular football in a Swansea team that impressed so many last season how could we convince him otherwise.

You have to question how hard a decision was it for arsenal to agree the deal. Is it that they cannot see the full potential they initially realised when he was first acquired coming to fruition? Have they made a choice between Bartley and Miquel and see greater potential in the Spaniard? Or is it just good will from Arsene to grant Bartley an opportunity for football at premiership level which he could not guarantee at Arsenal in the coming season? Maybe we will never get the full answer but after the departure of promising midfielder Ozzy Oghuzup to Besiktas one does wonder if we are now holding onto the real gems and cutting our losses on the later developers despite the potential they have.

A lot of investment went into many youngsters who never quite took off to the next level at arsenal; players like Vela, Denilson and Bendtner despite their unrivalled talent at a young age have not quite hit the heights that maybe were expected of them. They did of course move up the grade to first team players but the high level of consistency and output expected never quite appeared often enough. They were eventually deemed surplus to requirements and Wenger was prepared to let them go without putting up much of a fight.

There really is a thin line between the benefits of loaning young players out to clubs; it really is the sink and swim test; many go out to lower league clubs and hardly make a ripple at their new clubs. Sometimes it shows that their chances of cutting it at arsenal are heavily reduced if they can’t make an impact at lower level, sometimes a loan move can come too early for a young player and a bit more development is required however the experience in invaluable. Then there are young players that take to the loan move like ducks to water, they really grasp their opportunity and get their first taste of idolisation from fans and teammates. This divides players when their loans are over; they either come back with a fresh hunger and belief they can break into the Arsene’s plans or they return having liked the 1st team experience and yearn for that opportunity elsewhere rather than being patient, playing reserve football and waiting for the opportunities as presented in the carling cup and sometimes fa cup. Additionally after years of assessments the player simply isn’t deemed good enough and informed they can move on.

Over the years I have maybe only seen Bartley play 2 or 3 games for the arsenal and in each one he had produced a gaff that led to a goal. I put it down to rawness at such a young age, he still showed potential and the mistakes which are expected from young players would get ironed out. Maybe those mistakes were becoming repeat offenders? I’m not sure I never watched any of his ranger’s performances and the feedback from others was that he was impressing over there.

Whatever the reason project youth comes under the microscope again, if he clearly wasn’t going to make it why wasn’t he let go a long time ago and if he was deemed a talent why did we let him go so easily (with no doubt a massive selling on fee)? One other factor I forgot to mention was Bartley’s cryptic support on twitter for Ched Evans when the striker was sentenced for rape. He received a major backlash from the fans and eventually back tracked his tweet claiming it was for something else and nothing to do with the trial. Luckily he wasn’t high profile enough for the story to hit the red tops but I’m sure the people who matter at arsenal took note of those events. Support of a convicted rapist does not bode well on the representation of the club.

Whatever the reason I’m sure Mr Arsene will give us the answer one day, hopefully the truth and not the wrapped in cotton wool answer.

Enjoy your day people

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RVP going to Man U, Time to forget the Dutchman – AFC

So the departure of Robin van persie from the Arsenal is as good as done, the reality has kicked in and yes he will be moving clubs to another rival. Last night Arsenal gave the biggest indication yet of the impending move to Manchester United when they announced on the official website that terms had been agreed by the two clubs and the Dutchman was whizzing his way up to Manchester to put pen to paper, fluke a medical and become a Manchester united player.

The fee has been mooted around £20m-£24m for our now former captain and in the grand scheme of things me have made the most out of selling a 29 year old at the top of his game with 1 year left on his contract. Not ideal in any circumstances to be put in a position where you are forced to agree terms with a rival to sell them not only your best player but the best player in the whole league last season. The writing was on the wall ever since Robin released his ill-fated letter to the fans in July declaring he had no intention of signing a new contract. Actually the writing was on the wall when the Dutchman left for the Euros having not signed anything, many fans myself included still held onto the small hope that his mind could be changed if Arsenal showed their ambition with their transfer activity over the summer. Quality players were brought in, some questioned whether they were replacements for our then captain or a signal of intent that we were ready to challenge top place. Whichever the reasoning was it doesn’t matter, he’s gone now but Arsenal are big enough to overcome this loss. The new signings showed positive signs in the last friendly against Cologne and there’s no reason why Robin’s goals will not be replaced by the attacking options we have at our disposal.

On top of the departure there is the possibility that the money received for Van Persie will be utilized in the transfer market. Arsene has not publically stated his transfer dealings are over, many potential deals could have been on hold until the future of van persie was decided. You cannot risk replacing a player who could change their mind and stay. Arsene made no secret of the fact that he wanted van persie to stay and no doubt tried everything in his power to convince van persie he didn’t need to leave. This is probably the reason why any transfer has taken so long to come to fruition. On one hand im glad this will be resolved before the season kicks off I really didn’t fancy the situation we had last season with Nasri, he even played for us in the home defeat to Liverpool before jumping ship; on the other hand I cant help but wonder how much of a force we would have been if he stayed as part of our current squad.

I cant dwell on the regret of what could have been, what we have here is a player who really shoved two fingers up at the fans that have adored him all these years and believed in him despite the continuous injury setbacks; his way to repay them is by defecting to a direct rival. I really feel Robin has tarnished all those years he has put in at arsenal with this move. In the past season when statues have been erected of arsenal greats you would have thought robin would have looked on admirably and been inspired by what he witnessed at the returning Thierry Henry. Players like Thierry and Robert Pires moved on from the club however still maintained their legend status by respecting the club, they still talk highly of the club and they are as big an arsenal fan as you and I.

I don’t begrudge Thierry for wanting to win things on the greatest stage at a time when his was in the tail end of his career, he could have joined a premiership rival, he would never be short of takers but his love for the club was so that he moved abroad to seek his goals. Why couldn’t robin do that? Ok maybe Barcelona and Real Madrid weren’t in the market for a striker of his talents but there were still many big clubs around Europe who could help him fulfil his silverware dreams. It will really pain me to see robin line up against the arsenal one day; this is not how it’s meant to pan out. He really has moved alongside Nasri into the territory of public enemy; all good will is wiped and I certainly won’t have any sympathy if those injuries come back more frequently.

The feeling at the moment is more of disappointment at robin making this career choice rather than despair at the loss to the team. I feel the team will prosper this season; last season it seemed we were so reliant on the Dutchman that any injury would signal meltdown. I see the goals being spread more through the team this time so I do not worry about the goals we have lost through robins departure but I do not relish the added tension to the games against united much like the ones we experienced against Manchester city because of the Nasri factor. We seem to be having more and more fiery games against teams without hating the teams but the individuals on the teams. Adebayor started that trend, Nasri kept it going and now Robin though to be fair United are the enemy regardless of Van Persie.

Good luck Robin, break a leg…

Enjoy your day people

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Olympics done, Song staying, Ryo loan, Bendtner talks – AFC

Oh man, it’s finally over. The Olympics have come, blown us away and now trickled away into history and taken a firm place in our memories. I have to admit in tandem with Euro 2012 the Olympics perfectly filled the inter-lull usually felt in close season. Shamefully the London games filled up so much of my time I never managed to release any posts during the two weeks. A mixture of watching the games and being glued to the computer trying to buy damn tickets to the event meant my attention to the Arsenal took 2nd place. This must be the first time ever in my life I’ve put Arsenal second best but to be fair it all starts for Arsenal on the 18th when Sunderland come to town. I’m fully focused and promise no more distractions.

Now where do I start on the Arsenal news, Robin Van Persie still hasn’t left though after his reception at the Cologne game that potential move could move a little faster now. Personally I wouldn’t boo Van Persie but that’s me, you can’t expect every Arsenal fan to agree with you. I still think there’s a small possibility that he could change his mind and sign a new contract and with that in mind the fans could have maybe greeted Van Persie’s introduction to the game with silence rather than boos. That could be the straw that breaks the camels back though on the counter argument he has publically stated he will not sign a new contract. Lack of commitment to any club would be met with disdain and our ‘current’ captain will need to work hard to win back the respect from the Arsenal faithful IF he decides to stay. We’ve seen it work with Wayne Rooney at Man Utd and so it is proved possible for a player to change their mind. I am in the camp where if he refuses to sign a new contract and would rather go on a free next season then we should sell him now. If he signs a new contract then all is forgotten and we move on.

One thing that has quelled most of the fans fears over Van Persie is the positive performances from the new boys against Cologne. Podolski bagged two goals showing a taster of what we are in store for this season and Olivier Giroud looked very dangerous and was always in the mix for the majority of the time he was on the pitch. He didn’t score as he seemed to have a personal battle going on with the Cologne keeper, he was always on the end of chances, he showed an aerial threat and there’s no doubt the goals will come for the Frenchman.

Apart from the forwards new boy Santi Cazorla looked very tasty in midfield and I have to admit the squad is looking good right now. Playing Cologne is a much different proposition from premiership football but there were still signs of the connection; a telepathy between the established and new players that will undoubtedly reap benefits once the season gets going. Jack Wilshere is still the man and hopefully he will overcome the injuries and resume his excellent career but Wenger did a great thing here signing Cazorla. We couldn’t afford to wait for Wilshere and heap great pressure on him to hit the ground running. Cazorla has instantly taken the burden off and now Jack can concentrate on getting fit whilst Santi can come in and fill the void left by the loss of Jack and Cesc.

Some good news on the Alex Song front as the Cameroon man insisted he is happy at Arsenal. He revealed there is truth to the rumours that Barcelona came a knocking but assured fans that he has no reason to move from a happy place but also revealed his pride at being linked with the club. Song was quoted saying yesterday:

“I am not going to lie if I said there is no interest but I am at Arsenal and I am happy at Arsenal.”

Any player would be proud to be linked with that club; with my rose-tinted glasses off Barcelona are a class team and the envy of all… even lucky Chelski. But now that the man has spoken please can you go away Barcelona.

It’s funny how much you appreciate a player when there’s a chance he can go. We have all grown to appreciate the man over the years; he initially divided fans views on him but has blossomed under Wenger to a valuable first team player. We know his focus could me more tuned to the defensive side of his game rather than his through balls but one thing we can’t deny is since his rise to prominence in midfield we have shaken off the tag of having a soft centre. For a few seasons we were classed as being all tippy tappy with no steel to stand up to the men; now I have seen Alex Song really show his strength in the middle of the park and lead by example. He is not the finished article by any means, plenty still to work on but at 24 now he really has come on leaps and bounds and there’s nothing stopping him from continuing the development. I’m glad he’s staying and im sure he won’t regret his commitment.

Young Ryo Miyaichi has gone to Wigan on a season long loan, this is a great move for the youngster, he gets another opportunity to shine in the premiership and Wigan provides the platform. Wigan surprised a lot of people with their football in the final part of the season; they pulled off some massive wins against big clubs including our joke result at the Emirates. Victor Moses could be on his way and that will only open the door for Ryo to fill the main man role at the club. It’s a good fit for him and I’m sure he won’t let the Latics or Wenger down.

Niklas Bendtner has sort of broken his silence to reiterate he has no intention of staying at arsenal and expects to leave before the transfer window closes. The striker revealed to Danish press:

“Arsenal is not an option and that is something both the club and I agree on”

To be honest I don’t really care what he does. He doesn’t want to play for us, he had the potential to be a true arsenal star but his ego often got the better of him. He wants to leave so he is already in the past. He’s not worth any more wasted words I just hope his advisors will be honest with him and tell him Barcelona and Real Madrid are not knocking on the door.

Enjoy your day people

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Ramsey in good form for GB, Cazorla medical? Afobe to Bolton?

The Olympics really are dominating all the sport news lately, not a complaint from me as I have been enjoying the variety of sports on offer at the moment. The Euros seem like a distant memory now as everyone is hit by Olympic fever. The golds and medals in general are starting to come in for Great Britain after a slow start even the football teams are going their bit as an Aaron Ramsey inspired men’s team dispatched of Uruguay and qualified for the quarter finals. Although I have failed to get overly excited by the GB mens team im happy about the performances Ramsey is putting in for the team. He has impressed in all his appearances so far and that can only do the Welshman good in preparation for the coming season. His confidence had taken a knock last season as his form was quite hit and miss, the fans weren’t shy to let him know about it which only hindered his form further. His form in the Olympics is the perfect remedy for him and his belief is returning with each game.  Good on the lad and i’m sure Arsene Wenger despite his initial objection to team GB involvement of his players knows that this exposure and good form is more positive to Ramsey and Arsenal than a random good performance against a Malaysian XI.

Some reports are suggesting that Santi Cazorla will be jetting into London this week for a medical before wrapping up the final details of a move to the Arsenal. As exciting as that news may sound part of me still wants more proof, where’s that grainy mobile pic of him at the airport? Something, anything please. The whole transfer saga seems a big mess based on the acrimonious meltdown that appears to be going on at Malaga at the moment. Lots of contradictory statements coming from within and outside the club it’s hard to know what’s really going on. All I care about is the guy signing on the dotted line so hurry up Santi and put us Arsenal fans out of our twitter fuelled paranoia and make the rumours a reality.

Great news was revealed for Nico Yennaris yesterday as it was announced that the youngster has penned an extension to his Arsenal contract. Yennaris has been rewarded for his breakthrough into the first team last season. He made a few appearances at a time when arsenal were struggling for fullbacks and he made sure he made a lasting impression when he stepped in to team. One thing you cannot deny about the youngster is that he is arsenal through and through, he is one of the rare breed of players that idolised the club since childhood and many of us have seen the various pictures of him as a kid donning the arsenal kit as a club mascot. He was a junior gunner growing up and is currently living the dream working his way through the ranks. I believe his future will be as fullback despite his main position being a midfielder at youth. Wenger has history of converting players to new positions and I see Yennaris following in the footsteps of the likes of Kerian Gibbs and Lauren. It’s now up to him to take the opportunity and his new contract will act as the perfect motivation to succeed.

Good news on the horizon for another youngster as the rumours of a loan move for young forward Benik Afobe to Bolton seems to be building up credibility. The news of the loan move appeared a few days ago but then nothing materialised. Now reliable youth team specialist Jamie Sanderson from Young Guns Blog revealed that Arsenal have accepted loan bids from Millwall and Bolton for his services. In a situation as such Benik would be mad to turn down Bolton for Millwall. Given the previous successful terms at the club experienced by Jack Wilshere and Ryo Miyiachi a loan at Bolton  would be an ideal opportunity for Afobe. He has served his apprenticeship at league one and briefly at championship level and now I feel an amazing opportunity has presented itself to the gifted forward. For a player I believed was more impressive than Conor Wickam when the Sunderland man was earning plaudits left right and centre for Ipswich and England u-17’s I feel it’s now time for Afobe to show what he can do on a larger scale and prove he was the brighter talent.

Enjoy your day people

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