Barcelona grumbles lead to rumours of return to AFC. Arshavin uncertainty

Some news has been emanating from Spain that a former Arsenal midfielder is not happy at the moment at the prospect of not playing 90 minutes for his team Barcelona. Instantly the first name that springs to mind is that of Alex Song though even the most arrogant player would not be complaining at lack of minutes after three weeks at his new club. No the player in question is in fact our former captain Cesc Fabregas; although the midfielder has started every game for the Catalan giants he has been slightly perturbed by the fact he has been hauled off in nearly every game so far and has broken his silence on the matter.

A strange outburst, surely something must be in the water over there in Spain as it was only a few days ago that Cristiano Ronaldo was voicing his frustrations over something within the backroom at Real Madrid. I know the last time I visited Spain I was advised not to drink the water there and stick to drinking the bottled water only surely with Barcelona DNA Mr Fabregas would be immune to anything suspect about the quality of the h2O flowing through the Catalan taps.

I feel part of Cesc’s outburst could be linked to the different personnel in charge of the first team at Barcelona, initially the Spaniard attributed part of his reasoning for cutting ties with Arsenal was down to his admiration for the man in charge at the time Pep Guardiola. Now that his former idol has moved on from the hot seat you do wonder if all is well in his relationship with Tito Vilanova. I am only speculating here but I hardly believe that Cesc would ever speak out if Guardiola was still in charge. His respect for the man would ensure anything he disapproved would be kept in-house, to speak out like that is a clear sign that 100% respect for the manager is not there.

The outburst itself was not damning of the manager directly and I suppose he was careful to not upset his fellow professionals at the Camp Nou. He did however say:

 “There’s no such thing as a great substitute in the world of football. I couldn’t tell you what makes a great substitute.”

Again I find it strange to find a player not happy despite starting every game; surely to start on the bench would be more frustrating for any player. I know players love to play every minute of every game and especially if you are a striker on two goals chasing a hat trick the last thing you want to see is your number come up on the assistant referee’s board. As a midfielder who has given his all and contributed to the team performance you just have to accept a change in tactics may be required; it’s not always an attack on your abilities but as a team player you have to accept the manager sees a need for change. If the team collapses and concede three goals after you come off then you may be justified to hold your hand up and give it the ‘I told you so’.

This news has sparked rumours of a return of Cesc to Arsenal, that’s a move I can never see happening until Cesc has long passed his peak. The moment he signed the contract to join Barcelona was the very moment he was priced out of any possible move to Arsenal. We could never afford him now, unlike us Barcelona know how to tie down assets and it would take a hell of a lot of money to get him. Despite the place arsenal has in his heart even he knows it could never happen unless it was some sort of loan deal. I wouldn’t read too much into the unrest, I’m sure he will kick on at Barcelona and get over his current irritation.

Andrei Arshavin is again in the news as uncertainty over his Arsenal future will linger until all the transfer windows are closed. I believe the Russian transfer window closes on Thursday and it seems our diminutive Russian attacker will be linked with moves until it closes. He has been named in our 25 man champion’s league squad though it would be suicide not to name him in case any move was to break down last minute, so him being named should not carry any weight to the possibility of him staying at the club.

I would like him to stay and believe he can still contribute to our team over the coming season, there is a place for him in the squad and he offers a different type of alternative to our attacking options. The telegraph paper has gone as far to suggest Arsenal are willing to let him leave on a free to get his wages off the payroll. A ludicrous suggestion, I know we have not been the best at getting money closer to the true valuation for some of the players we let go but the idea of a free transfer is enough to slap who ever wrote that article.

Enjoy your day people

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0-0 draw not disaster, Song exit confirmed – AFC

Well the new season kicked off yesterday, we welcomed Sunderland to the emirates in the baking weather as we hoped to get a good start in the post Van persie and Song era. I had my reservations before the match that it wouldn’t be a stroll in the park against Sunderland; they are no mugs and on their day can frustrate the biggest of teams. Sessegnon is always a danger and caused us problems in the games last season. I still expected a win but a hard fought win, that wasn’t the case as we were frustrated into a 0-0 draw.

With the news of Alex Song’s potential move to Barcelona coming into fruition it was no surprise to see he was not on the pitch warming up with the rest of the squad before kick off. He was probably en route to Spain at that very time and the writing was pretty much on the wall that the Arsenal midfield will never see those blond highlights ever again.

The starting line up did include 2 of the new signings in Lukasz Podolski and Santi Cazorla, Frenchman Olivier Giroud started on the bench. With injuries to Koscielny and Oxlade-Chamberlain Arsene Wenger played his strongest team possible with Per Mertesacker drafted in and Abou Diaby starting in the midfield.

Overall it was a tense game with Sunderland causing some problems with their pace early on. Thomas Vermaelen’s Arsenal took their time to find their rhythm; I guess we had new personnel that still need time to gel into the Arsenal way. Whether time for them to bed in can be afforded is another matter, given the negative press awaiting any games we don’t win the team and new players really needed to hit the ground running. We will constantly be reminded of Robin Van Persie and his goals so the sooner we can make the press see life goes on without him the better.

Podolski didn’t have a bad game however it seemed he wasn’t allowed much space by the Sunderland defence and despite the German showing his strength and close control in tight situations he was never really given any clear opportunities to gobble up. Santi Cazorla really showed how good he was in the game, he appeared to pull all the strings from midfield and showed his shooting prowess with a few chances especially one amazing dribble and shot from 25 yards that was clawed from the top corner by Mignolet. He really does look the part and is the kind of player the midfield could be built around, he has a big part to play this season and will help players like the Ox and Ramsey improve their games.

Competition for places is looking good however we need to gel quickly. Olivier Giroud when he came on in the second half to replace Podolski looked a massive imposing figure and I’m sure once he gets a run will be scoring for fun. Unfortunately the only lasting memory people will have of the striker so far is his miss late in the second half. He was slipped in by Cazorla and without realising he had time on his side he dinked the ball past the keeper and just past the post. In his defence the opportunity came to him on his weaker right foot but I’m sure the player knows deep down he should have at least hit the target. Arsene was in agreement in his press conference after the game when he said

 “Giroud had a great chance on his right foot. I think he had more time than he thought and we expected him to score that one, of course.”

I’m sure he will be fine but the sooner he gets his first goal the better. In the grand scheme of things a 0-0 draw isn’t a disaster, it would have been nice to start with a win but given all the negative press over the past week with the loss of players it was sure to be playing on the teams mind. We will get past this after all we have become experts in rebuilding after the loss of stars.

A quick word on Alex Song, it was made official yesterday that terms have been agreed between Arsenal and Barcelona. The player leaves us and although I initially didn’t want him to leave I wish him well at his new club. He will find it tough to break into the team there and personally I can see his time at the club following a similar path to that of Alexander Hleb. As big as a player Song became in the Arsenal team he was not quite the complete player, he did master a niche for himself playing around much more talented attacking players. Some of those attacking talents he played with clearly rubbed off on him as exhibited by his number of assists last season.

Arsenal fans have a reputation for being a bit impatient whenever a flowing move breaks down due to a stray pass; song was no stranger to the odd stray pass. The Barcelona fans expectation of perfection trumps the arsenal fans ten fold so Song will have to step up his game to another level to make his move a success. I could be wrong and he could carve out a successful spell at the club however if Barcelona are asking him to just act as a shield to the defence then they may need to have a word. Unlike Van Persie moving to a rival I don’t begrudge Song the opportunity to become a Barcelona player. It is a great honor to represent such a big club and the chance to play alongside superstars like Messi, Xavi, Iniesta amongst others would be a hard choice for any player to turn down. Song has moved abroad which I have no problem with, I actually think he is a replaceable player and so do not find his departure as hard hitting of that say Van Persie or Fabregas before him. I will miss his presence due to the amount of time he has been part of the club but his departure is an easier one to recover from with the right signings.

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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