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:

Join my mini league  at http://fantasy.premierleague.com/ and prove you have what it takes. Join the Gambeano Snitch league with the following entry code: 377771-102013.

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Depending on numbers there may be a prize available for the overall winner. Prize TBC

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Enjoy the first day of the new season people

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Snitch is back, Afc lose, No Sahin, Arshavin to Fulham?

Well what a difference 3 weeks makes, I jetted off for my holidays to the US of A full of optimism we could keep our captain and build on our squad. By the time I touched down in Orlando and found an internet connection our skipper released his infamous letter to the fans. I managed to relay my views at the time but since then I’ve been enjoying my time in the sun with the help of Mickey and his friends at Disneyland. Now after finally flying back, overcoming the jet lag and returning to work I now can resume sharing Arsenal news and my thoughts you with via the blog.

In between the midst of the buzz created by the Olympics opening ceremony Arsenal managed to play a game against Manchester City in Beijing around lunchtime on Friday. A game which the gunners lost 2-0 and produced a number of positives and negatives really. Some of those were the same old we have been used to, defence going to sleep at times, full backs caught out of position for the goals, sloppy passes leading to chances for Man city. We did create a number of chances but the age-old Achilles heel of profligate finishing reared its ugly head. Our second half performance was more forceful and the introduction of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain certainly added more class to the Arsenal team.

In general I won’t start doom-mongering the forthcoming season based on the game. It’s pre-season, only our second game and many 1st team players have not even travelled to Asia. It’s a good exercise especially for the more fringe players and should benefit our players in removing some of the rust. I think the most important thing is the younger players show they can rise to the occasion and give Arsene Wenger food for thought. So far Chuks Aneke has stood out, Eisfeld’s goal in the last game will not go unnoticed and Bartley is getting vital time on the field to stake a claim.

Benik Afobe’s pre-season hasn’t taken off yet as he was quite wasteful against the Malaysian XI and didn’t get as much minutes against Man City but I’m confident he can still show what he can do. Craig Eastmond, a player who must be in last chance saloon got some minutes and it was interesting to see him slotting temporarily into the right back role. It was a position he played in throughout youth, some claimed he wasn’t a great right back and he came to prominence from the moment he was shifted to midfield by Wenger against Liverpool in the Carling cup. I believe the key to his Arsenal future is his potential versatility, if he can produce as cover in the right back role he may just rekindle his place in Arsene’s good books; the ball is in his court.

In other news Arsene Wenger has dismissed news of the imminent loan of Nuri Sahin from Real Madrid. In the press conference after the Man city game Wenger when probed about a deal said:

 “We did not sign anybody today, this report is wrong. We are not signing anybody at the moment, we are not close. In the future you never know.”

Typical Wenger statement really, keeping his cards close to his chest though if a deal was close he may have hinted. If any deal is on the table for Sahin or Santi Cazorla I do hope they get wrapped up pretty quick before any of our rivals come knocking with their blank checkbooks. We do not have good form when it comes to dawdling on negotiations for potential signings (and contract renewals it seems) so let’s keep our fingers crossed some more deals are conducted swiftly and under the radar like they were for Podolski and Giroud.

Another piece of news that surfaced yesterday is the news that Fulham are interested in signing Andrei Arshavin and Yossi Benayoun. Quite an ambitious move by the west London club if true but also slightly disappointing news to hear. Yossi is a player that many gunners fans would welcome back to the club after his stint with us last season, he showed he had what was needed when he got his chance and if available I don’t see why it would be a gamble to take him on unless there are other midfielders in the pipeline that may be signed before the window shuts. I would also be disappointed if Arshavin was to move across London to Fulham, he may be frustrating on his day but I still class him as a premium player that can still make things happen at larger clubs that play to his strengths. That would be a backwards step in my eyes and I couldn’t see that partnership being a success. Who knows, lets see how this one plays out

Enjoy your day people

Do you have what it takes to come out top of the pile in a fantasy league? Join my mini league in the best Fantasy league for EPL at http://fantasy.premierleague.com/ and prove you have what it takes. Prior warning I will win but if you fancy making up the numbers join my league with the following entry code: 377771-102013.

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Euro Fantasy League Challenge – have you got what it takes?

Gooners unite and join me in a fantasy football mini league for Euro 2012

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