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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Van Persie mess, Denilson back on loan, why? Nigeria tour postponed – AFC

Well the past 48 hours have been a bit of a PR disaster for Arsenal football club haven’t they? The biggest hammer blow being the Robin Van Persie revelation that he has made the decision that he will not extend his current contract and therefore signalled the end of his Arsenal career. This news was excellently summarised by my partner in crime Cdrive77’s blog post yesterday.

Arsenal fans are used to losing their top player (and captain) year on year, when will this trend stop? For all the talk of self sustainability that gets spewed out to the arsenal fans time and time again when will this policy transpire into a top team unrivalled by all? We the arsenal fans have had the patience, stuck by the team and manager as we await the new dawn of Arsenal reaping the benefits from the being ahead of the rest when the Financial Fair Play rules kick in.

I admit the financing from a sugar daddy rich owner doesn’t sit well with me, a team should build their own success and buying titles is a major cop-out. I would not like Arsenal to win things that way and besides it’s a bit too late in the day as the F.F.P rules are just around the corner.

What the other big clubs seem to be doing now is building their teams with a strong core that when such rules come into play it will take minor acquisitions to add to the core to continue and grow. This is the part where Arsenal needs to catch up with the rest, if the overall plan is for the future when exactly does the team itself come into the reckoning?

Ever since the new stadium was built the one area that suffered was the playing team, I believe the general plan at the time was minor additions to a highly successful core. What wasn’t in the plan was for the team to disband as rapidly as they did. Many of the players from the invincible’s era were happy winning things, we put the money in for the right players and reaped the benefits. This stopped and so then did the commitment of the players who got us to that standing. They were used to being the best and then suddenly changed to carrying the team as lesser players came in. The emphasis was heavily leaned on the youth and many young players needed nurturing; the bigger players did not favour rubbing shoulders with and carrying the young. The opportunity to rub shoulders with the best as they were used to was more tempting. Once we peaked and conquered the premiership back in 2004 the next step would be to attack Europe and bring in the champions league trophy instead we reached a plateau and concurrent regression.

Winning team

It is from this stage where a team which should have been growing has weakened with each year, the bigger marquee players have moved on year after year and the team itself has suffered as we have had to rebuild to fill voids of those who have left. The key eye for spotting talent from Arsene Wenger has ensured that with every gem that has moved on another gem surfaces and becomes invaluable.

The problem I have is that such a policy cannot last forever; the signs were there last season as we were so close to finishing the season outside the top four for the first time in Arsene’s era. This is the wakeup call the club needed, the scare that would open the eyes of the money men at arsenal that the team needs to be the focus and has to grow. If we lose a massive cog from the team we end up going back to the drawing board. I’m not advocating purchasing players we could not afford in the long run but im happy in the knowledge that everything was done in our power to keep a player. And if those players do not want to be a part of the team then we move on, we don’t honour their wishes and send them on their way with a handshake and a smile. Our focus should be on Arsenal and Arsenal alone. The timing of Robin’s announcement was all wrong and in a way didn’t show respect to the same men who honoured Van Persie’s silence. They protect him while he pissed over them without a second thought; and this is what irritates me as it makes the club look like chumps. We are Arsenal football club and we should call the shots, if a player wants out then we play hardball. Too many players have left over the past few years wrapped in cotton wool only for the club to reveal the bad points of the players long after they are gone. Why tell us at the last AST meeting that Fabregas refused to play for us last season as he wanted to play for Barcelona only? what benefit is there in telling us this last month and not at the time? They might as well have taken that story with them to the grave.

The Arsenal hierarchy need to start doing things differently to avoid turning us into a laughing stock. The team needs to be the focus from now on, do everything in their power to keep the players we build the team around and keep the core together. Let the Robin Van Persie saga be the last year this happens. Self sustainability may be the way forward but without a team you risk falling out of the top four places and that’s where the money stops and trouble starts. We are no longer guaranteed top four and our new acquisitions already have the burden of needing to hit the ground running to ensure we stay there.

Go away…

In other news that further dents the fans relationship with the club is the news that Denilson has signed another season long loan with Sao Paulo. It is well known Denilson had no intention of returning to Arsenal. The club have put the player up for sale however it is alleged no offers have come in for the player. We were in negotiations with Sao Paulo to turn his loan last season into a permanent deal. We were adamant on a price but the Brazilian club wouldn’t budge and in the end we succumbed and granted the player another season long loan. This is the kind of thing that infuriates fans, myself included. Why is the player calling the shots? If Sao Paulo didn’t want the player they wouldn’t be negotiating with us. If there is no budge then the player returns and rots in the reserves until his people can organize a transfer to someone willing to pay for him. I would not be surprised if we are footing the majority of the players wages, it is claimed Arsenal have a clause to cancel the loan if an agreement for his sale can be arranged with another club. We all know that isn’t going to happen so we end up with the Brazilian who doesn’t want to play for us still on our books picking his big wages. Why are we so soft when it comes to transfer negotiations?

In more embarrassing news on the Arsenal front it was announced last night on the official site that the tour of Nigeria is now postponed till possibly next summer. In the announcement the club stated:

“We could not get comfortable on everything needed to satisfy our requirements, so we have reluctantly taken the decision to postpone the team’s visit”

To be blunt these kind of things should be looked into long before announcing any possible tour and game. This is a major own goal by the club and again sends the PR team into the spotlight. I only hope not too many fans have made arrangements and booked flights for the sole purpose of this tour. If so should the club make an effort to reimburse those who possibly could lose money if they attempt to cancel their bookings?

Enjoy your day people

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Good luck Podolski, Super Eagles await, Burton for reserves – AFC

The Euros are drawing to an end; one semi final is out the way with the Germans set to take on the Italians tonight for a spot in the final. I missed the game yesterday but was able to catch the penalty shoot out which was a blessing in disguise. No matter how entertaining a 0-0 draw can be, it’s still a 0-0. The shoot out itself was an event filled spectacle which included saves, misses, sublime chips and player mix ups. Cesc scored the deciding penalty though with him no longer playing for us I don’t share his joy. I don’t want our former skipper to fail I just don’t feel a connection with him now that he is not longer part of us.

Today’s game carries Arsenal interest in Lukasz Podolski and Per Mertesacker so they are the team I’m backing all the way. Mertesacker hasn’t played a part all tournament and probably won’t be involved unless there is an injury to the first choice pairing at the back for Germany.

I fully expect Podolski to play a part today, it was like he and his other two partners in crime Gomez and Mueller were rested against the Greeks however for the big game they will all be back.

Podolski is a man for the big stage and he will show us what he is all about in a high pressure game.

I’m getting pretty excited about our forward line for next season, no offence to these guys but Chamakh and Park as our options up front was a bit of a joke. How we managed to finish last season 3rd with them as our cover laid testament to the important contribution from our skipper Robin Van Persie. Whatever his secret to fitness was last season, whether he stays or goes I hope he passes on those secrets to our new forwards and maybe to Diaby, Rosicky and Jack.

In other news it was announced that our game being played in Nigeria will be against the Nigerian national team. I’m quite pleased about that, the game will be more high profile against the super eagles and more of a stern test in our pre season preparations. Interest in this game will be high and it’s about time Arsenal recognised the massive fan base in Africa and Nigeria particular. Win win situation for both really and if the game is a success we could expect this to be a regular feature for pre season plans.

It has been mooted that Terry Burton is in line to take up the vacant reserve manager position at Arsenal. A nice appointment if it comes to fruition.Burton has deep Arsenal links and would be a popular choice. Neil Banfield did a good job for the reserves if you measure it by the successful transition of young players integrating into the first team squad over the years. Reserve titles may be nice on your CV but one of the main purposes of the reserves is bridging that gap between youth and first team. Development is more important and I feel we do that well here, Arsene Wenger does take interest in the young players and his relationship with Banfield was invaluable in terms of identifying those players that had the potential to make it at Arsenal.Burton will be privileged to join and be part of the organisation.

Other titbits you may already know Olivier Giroud revealed he chose Arsenal ahead of Chelsea. Jack Wilshere is on course to be fit and ready for Arsenal pre season and youth player Alban Bunjaku has joined Sevilla.

That’s it from me, let’s get behind Podolski tonight.

Enjoy your day people

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Giroud is here, RVP not, Nasri to get what he deserves – AFC

We did it; we’ve completed our second signing of the close season with the acquisition of Olivier Giroud. The Frenchman, fresh from France’s elimination from Euro 2012 jetted into London Colney to complete his medical and final formalities of his transfer from Montpellier to the gunners. As is the Arsenal way the opportunity was taken for Olivier to complete a photo shoot, don the Arsenal red and white and give an exclusive interview discussing his transfer.

The transfer was no surprise to Arsenal fans after the deal was confirmed by the officials at Montpellier however there is no better confirmation than seeing the new man plastered across the official Arsenal website. He has definitely raised excitement amongst arsenal fans as we can’t wait to see what the new striker will be bringing to the Arsenal team.

YouTube must have been awash with searches for Olivier Giroud goal montages yesterday as interest in the new guy intensified. I for one had a look at the kind of goals he has scored for his previous club and what I witnessed was a variety of finishes. From deft touches over the keeper to rockets from the edge of the box, there was even an exquisite chip over the keeper with his right foot though that one may have been a bit of a fluke.

With all that aside Giroud gave his interviews, he doesn’t speak full English yet as everything was spoken in French and translated. He managed to say all the things we wanted to hear. It was interesting to hear him say that he has always dreamed since a kid to play in the premier league, I almost thought he was going to say Arsenal but he didn’t and I respect him for being honest rather than telling any fibs.

The French connection played a big part in the signing of Giroud as he admitted his admiration for Arsene Wenger and his legacy at the club. The striker told Arsenal.com:

 “I was attracted by the philosophy of football and Arsene Wenger’s ‘touch’ at this club”

he followed that up with:

“I have always admired Arsenal with its great history and reputation, and I now hope to achieve great things here”.

His admiration for Arsenal was certainly helped by the glowing reference received from former teammate Laurent Koscielny. The two players appeared close during their time together at Euro 2012 and the transfer can definitely be attributed to Koscielny’s work behind the scenes.

Wenger was complimentary talking of the striker:

“We are excited about Olivier joining us and he will add an additional dimension to our attacking options next season”

“Olivier has a very good physical presence and is exceptional in the air, with a great work ethic”

All positives from our manager as he clearly believes in his £12m signing. The only question we have raised from the signing is whether Giroud would be a signing to compliment the talents of Robin Van Persie or to fill the void created by his departure.

It has gone all quiet on the news of our captain’s future, Netherlands were eliminated early and it was hoped this would lead to his negotiations being concluded sooner rather than later. Before the Euros he stated that he will not talk about his future until after the tournament, there has been nothing heard from the Dutchman since.

Understandably he has completed a long season and is entitled to have a holiday and his space. The silence though only succeeds in stirring up the paranoia amongst Arsenal fans as we crave word of whether he is staying or going. I really hope he is staying and the signings of Podolski and now Giroud exhibits the ambition for next season. M’Villa is still a possibility and I’m sure there is still an unknown gem on Arsene’s radar that none of us are aware of, time will tell on that front.

Good news on the Samir Nasri front. It seems the number one former player to really antagonize the arsenal fans since the disappearance of David Bentley is in hot water with the French Football Federation after his foul-mouthed tirade against a reporter in the aftermath of Frances exit from the Euros and his general disruptive behaviour throughout the tournament; the French men in power are not letting it slide.

The in fighting that disrupted the French morale after the defeat to Sweden which in effect conceded top spot of their qualifying group refused to die down and rumours surfaced that Nasri was the man instigator. This culminated in him being dropped from the line up against Spain and it was apparent to all watching the game that the French team did not look in harmony.

Because of this embarrassing exhibition the F.F.F has condemned his actions as intolerable and there is a threat he could be banned from international duty for 2 years.France has worked so hard over the past 2 years to wipe away the memories of the 2010 world cup and rebuild a united squad. Arsenal fans were so happy after that world cup that Nasri was cut from the final squad for the world cup because it meant he was not part of all the negativity and would start the season fresh for us. He did go on to have his best season for us the following season however I wouldn’t be surprised if he still happened to instigate the problems in South Africa from afar. That good season at arsenal only culminated in his ego expanding even further and that cantankerous move to Manchester city

He has always had a reputation for being a trouble maker and was reported to have an issue with Thierry Henry and William Gallas from even earlier in his France international career by disrespecting them over a seat in a coach.

I really hope the F.F.F really throw the book at him with the full 2 year ban, his disruptive behaviour destroyed France’s chances in Euro 2012 after looking so impressive in the opening 2 games. He showed his true colours to all and he deserves to be exposed for what he is.

Enjoy your day people

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Euro 2012 round up 2 days in – AFC

The Euros really are making up for the loss of football in the close season. We are two game days into the tournament and have now witnessed four very enjoyable games. There has been Arsenal interest in all the games so far and plenty of talking points have been raised from their involvement.

The opening showpiece of the Tournament involved hosts Poland and our keeper Szczesny had a game to forget. A very entertaining game all the same and after impressing and taking a one nil lead through a Lewandowski goal, Poland had the added bonus of Greece  being down to 10 men after 2 dubious yellow cards for Papastathopoulos.

Poland and our keeper decided they wanted to make the game difficult for themselves and proceeded to let the Greeks back into the game with a goal that was easily preventable. Szczesny probably shouldn’t have come out for the cross which led to the goal, the resulting melee led to an easy shot for Salpindingis to score the equalizer.

If Szczesny thought it couldn’t get worse it did. The polish defence was caught flat-footed as a ball over the top left Salpindingis one on one with the keeper. Szczesny anticipated a first time shot and flew out with a trademark star jump to block but the player decided to take the ball around the keeper, Szczesny’s momentum carried him too far and he proceeded to upend the player. This resulted in a penalty and a straight red for the pole. The keeper didn’t question the decision and walked straight off. Luckily for Poland the substitute keeper who came on saved the resulting penalty. Amusingly Szczesny was pictured celebrating the save in the tunnel watching on a TV screen. The game ended at 1-1 but was thoroughly entertaining.

The next game in the evening involved the Czech Republic and Russia. Both countries captained by Arsenal players Rosicky and Arshavin. This went on to be another entertaining game which ended up 4-1 to Russia. Andrei Arshavin had a fantastic game. Starting on the left of a front three our no.23 tended to play a freer role compared to what he normally does for the Arsenal. He really dictated all of the attacking play and although he wasn’t on the score sheet he definitely left an imprint on the game. Many gooners must have been wondering why he doesn’t produce that type of performance for the gunners though to be fair a lot more defensive responsibility is required in the Arsenal team. Some players really turn it on when playing with their countrymen as opposed to their club team; Arshavin seems to be one of those players. Though he has had his fair share of criticism when he has played for Russia it just shows he is human and doesn’t produce man of the match performances in every game for his country, but when he is good he is good. Poor Tomas Rosicky tried to rally his Czech Republic team but they were swept away by the more clinical (once Kerzhakov was withdrawn) Russians.

The group of death matches played yesterday were really highly anticipated matches. It was clearly deemed Denmark would make up the numbers in the group as Holland,Portugal and Germany would fight it out for the top two slots.

The Danes first test was against many neutral fans 2nd team Holland. A country with near flawless qualification achieved for the Euros and boasting our very own skipper Robin Van Persie in their line up. The game started off at a slow tentative pace but as the game wore on was slowly dominated by Holland. They bided their time and played some good intricate football, carving away at the Danes. What wasn’t part of the plan was the Danes going on to score the first goal.

I suppose in a similar way to how Arsenal plays their football; they are most vulnerable at the back when they are on top. Robin wasn’t having the best of games and the TV cameras weren’t shy in zooming onto the face of Jan Huntelaar every time something didn’t come off for our skipper. It has become an unwelcome distraction in the Dutch camp over who should be starting up front for Holland in the championships between RVP and Huntelaar. It clearly wasn’t going for Robin yesterday and interestingly Clarence Seedorf pointed out that maybe Robin was trying too hard to impress on the big stage which actually proceeded in affecting his performance. He missed a couple of chances that we have seen him gobble up for Arsenal last season and he also had one embarrassing moment of an air shot when unchallenged. The game actually finished 1-0 though Holland despite a flat performance really should at least have equalised; another culprit from the game was Arjen Robben who seems to have carried over his poor luck and decision-making from the champions league final. Arsenal target Ibrahim Affelay started the game well but faded later on, his start surprised a few due to his low number of games played last season due to injury woes at Barcelona.

Nicklas Bendtner led the line for the Danes and did his part holding the ball up at times and linking play but never looked a goal threat throughout the game. I guess he did what was asked of him by the management but to a neutral his game was easily forgettable and typical. Bad day at the office for the Dutch, wonderful smash and grab for the Danes and yet another fantastic game at the Euros.

Going into the evening game yesterday Portugal and Germany would have been well aware of the result between the Danes and the Dutch. I suppose it was a chance for either country to take advantage of the slip up by Holland. It was a game for many gunners to have a look at Podolski close up. Per Mertesacker wasn’t included in the starting line up probably as a result of all the time he has spent on the sidelines leading up to the competition and the emergence of Matt Hummels.

This game was a rather tense affair as two countries with aspirations of having a good tournament realised what was at stake and did not want to open up too much. Although Portugal was never deemed as strong as Germany they still posed a threat through Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani. Our new Gunner Podolski had an ok game; he fits in well with the German system and showed a very good hard work ethic tracking back helping out his team. That will be a trait that will go down well with Arsenal fans when compared with Bendtner per say as fans like to see effort on the pitch. Podolski was neat and tidy and efficient and though he didn’t score he looks like he will have a goal or two in him as the competition moves forward.

The game itself did fall into a lull as no goals were scored first half and midway into the second half dare I say it the game was getting less and less interesting. Just when fans were calling for Mario Gomez to be removed he popped up with a goal. I believe Miroslav Klose was ready to come on for Gomez the next time the ball went out, luckily for him an opportunity arose from a cross and he managed to extend his neck muscles enough to connect with a cross from Sami Khedira. Game over, well not really as towards the final stages of the game Portugal took the game to Germany as nerves kicked in and should really have equalised when Varela had the ball break free to him only for Neuer to pull off a desperate save.

All in all the least entertaining game of the four but still a decent game that came alive after the goal was scored.

Today it’s the turn of Republic of Ireland,Croatia,Spain and Italy. No current gunners on show but there is an interest for former gunners Eduardo and Fabregas.

Here’s to some more good games in an already satisfying Euro 2012.

Enjoy your day people.

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