Tough Everton game up next for Gunners

Match day today, the Gunners face a tough game away to Everton at Goodison Park. To gain three points tonight would call upon all the players bringing their A game with them. We are boosted by the news that Theo Walcott returns to fitness and should play a part in the game. We badly missed the outlet of Walcott’s pace on Saturday and his return is a timely boost to the team. He has become an important part of our attacking game and maybe finally reaching the level of consistency that has been missing from his game over the years.

The fact that he has reached this not playing in his preferred central role is worrying for all those wanting him to sign a new contract. It has come to the point where his departure would be a massive loss to the team, we need him to sign a new contract and by that we need to keep him happy. Money shouldn’t be an issue, given the multi million pound deal signed with Fly Emirates last week.

We will need to keep a close eye on the developments as time moves ever closer to the midseason transfer window. One thing that can’t be read into too much is the talk of the selections for the 2013 calendar. The fact Theo is not included on the calendar could be down to mere coincidence. Each month contains a single player, that’s 12 players from a squad of 30 strong, some players will miss out, it’s simple maths.

Calendars and club catalogues can draw all sorts of confusion just by who is selected to front the pages, I would not stress myself trying to predict our transfer dealings based on a calendar. Right now in my office at work I have an Arsenal calendar with the November picture of Samir Nasri and Robin Van Persie celebrating a goal. Can’t even bear to look at that thing, Calendars are more hassle than they are worth.

Everton will have Fellaini back after serving a one match suspension, it will be important that the defence are fully focused to contain the threat of the Toffee’s in form player. The two recent clean sheets will be a welcome psychological boost to the defence, the threat stems throughout the Everton team from the quality delivery of Baines from the wing to the trickery of the likes of Pienaar and Mirallas. Even though our past few games against Everton have been positive results the performances themselves have required hard ground out ethic. On paper we have every chance in reality it’s 50/50.

In addition to Walcott there’s a chance for fresher legs to return to action against Everton: Jack Wilshere, Bacary Sagna, and Thomas Vermaelen may be utilized. Although we never suffered any injuries from the Villa game Arsene clearly had tonight’s game in mind when he made his team selection on Saturday. It may have slightly backfired given the result at the weekend but there’s a chance to put things right tonight. With players returning from injury Arsene Wenger has more of a luxury of players to select for the game than in past weeks, it may work in our favour, hopefully it will keep the starting eleven on their toes and inspire a great performance from each of them.

In other Arsenal news Emmanuel Frimpong has been given clearance by FIFA to represent Ghana at international level. The Arsenal youngster has made no secret of his desire to represent the country of his heritage. It’s a shame he turned his back on England but you cannot deny anyone the right to represent their country of birth. Some things are bigger than football and his decision is one made from the heart. It may cause problems in future when you consider the African Cup of Nations but for now he is not part of the current first team and so his recuperation from injury is priority, once he gets to the level he has the potential to reach then we can curse his absence from the team.

He seems to be doing ok on his loan at Charlton, he certainly won’t be given any easy treatment by the league one opposition, and he will be a marked man due to where he is on loan from and his status in the public. The experience will only make him stronger and more hungry to make up for lost time.

Another boost to the team is the return of Tomas Rosicky to full training. We have been robbed of the services of Rosicky all season after an injury picked up on international duty with the Czech team during the Euros. His return will be a welcome additional and it is hoped he gets into the groove quickly once he returns to first team duty. Arsene said of Rosicky:

“Rosicky is back in the squad, not quite match fit but in full training. He needs a game or two in the reserve team. He has not played for six months but he is fit.”

It will be great to have him back, we have certainly missed the alternative dynamic to the midfield that Rosicky and Diaby can bring. Between the two we may get the opportunity of one or the other available for future match day squads continuously. Diaby is around 4 weeks away from returning to training so fingers crossed they both return and stay a little longer with us.

Enjoy your day people.

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Kalou to join on free? Giroud linked – AFC

Could Salomon Kalou be the answer to any of Arsenal’s needs? It has been reported that Kalou’s contract will run out at the end of the season and will be available for a free transfer. Arsene Wenger has long been an admirer of the Ivorian and fits the profile of an Arsenal buy in terms of the costs involved for his acquisition.

 In the grand scheme of things Kalou would be a good purchase as a squad player for Arsenal, he has bags of premiership and international experience and could add something as part of the team but not necessarily as part of the starting XI.

He plays for the Ivory Coast with Gervinho and maybe they could strike up a good relationship on the pitch for Arsenal as they do for their country

 The question is if Arsenal has not made moves early enough would Kalou be more tempted to start a new challenge abroad similar to his former Chelsea teammates Anelka and now Drogba. Once you are available on a free there are plenty options to take and it will be down to the individual on what challenge he would like next. He’s at an age where the final payday in the sun is a few years away to take. At 26 he still has plenty to offer whichever club he joins and should not have reached his peak as yet.

 The big question to ask though is: has he ever shown the potential to prove he can be a big influence on a team, a big team. Throughout the past few seasons and I guess during his whole Chelsea career he has been a player that has always been on the fringes of the first team. More a small cog that helped keep the team functioning; if he were to move to Arsenal I can only see him playing a similar role at the emirates.

 I would take him to Arsenal as a squad player but this would be communicated to him before he signed anything. No point promising him the world and ending up with an unhappy player on a big wage when he is not starting each week. He would need to prove himself with his performances and earn the right to be a starter.

 Gunners fans are most likely to be divided on the acquisition of Kalou, given we have not ironed out the future of our Skipper Van Persie there will be questions on whether Kalou is the type of player to keep out captain happy and wanting to stay.

Further news developed last night in the French press that Arsenal has been working on a deal for Oliver Giroud from Montpellier. The deal will involve a fee of £8million and Chamakh. Giroud is an interesting player and having recently won the French Ligue 1 with Montpellier will have the winning mentality which always helps. He has also been capped in the past season for France. There is no guarantee he will be a success at Arsenal. The transition from French football to premiership football is not always an instant success and the better players tend to hit the ground running whereas other players still need some time to acclimatize.

The prospect of paying less for Giroud by using Chamakh as a makeweight may please both parties. Chamakh has in fairness lost his way at Arsenal. The chances of him recapturing his early Arsenal form seems to diminish with each game he plays in the Arsenal colours. He definitely would benefit with a move to another club to rebuild his confidence and reputation.

Montpellier would benefit from having a ready-made replacement for Giroud; on top of that Chamakh has a proven record in Ligue 1 and would hopefully fit in straight away.

 It will be interesting to see how this one plays out. We are in the midst of silly season and so all alleged links should be taken with a pinch of salt until we hear word from the officials involved with the teams.

 Enjoy your day people

Almunia, Hoyte out, Wilshere back before next season? AFC

So Arsenal have started their summer clear out. It was announced on the official website yesterday evening that seven players were to be released. Of those seven the most high-profile names released were that of Manuel Almunia and Gavin Hoyte. The other players not offered new contracts were Rhys Murphy, Sean McDermott, George Brislen-Hall, James Campbell and Jeffrey Monankana.

Almunia despite his critics has been at the club for the best part of 8 years, Making over 170 appearances for the club. Biding his time as an understudy to Jens Lehman it is fair to say when his chance came to stake a claim for the no.1 jersey he never quite fulfilled the role to the expectations of the Arsenal faithful.

Not an awful keeper by any means Manuel fell victim to not being the great keeper that was required by a club of Arsenal’s standing at that time. Many pundits and fans alike make the claim that the basis of a great team starts with having a great keeper. A keeper valuable enough to win games for you by presence, organisation, agility and 100% concentration.  Almunia never quite ticked all those boxes convincingly and therefore struggled to win over the fans and pundits.

Jens Lehman’s boots proved quite big ones to fill, mistakes did start to creep into his game towards the tail end of his Arsenal career and it was at this point where Arsene Wenger decided to promote within rather than sign a high-profile replacement.

It’s a shame Almunia never took his chance as first choice and despite putting in 8 years on the books his Arsenal career fizzled out to what seems like a swift exit out of the back door. A keeper that will always be remembered for not doing enough to save THAT shot in the champions league final there is no doubt he will look back himself with regret at what could have been.

Gavin Hoyte the other (sort of) high-profile player released by Arsenal seemed to have been around for an eternity. News of Gavin’s release is less of a surprise since last week he already said his goodbyes to Arsenal via Twitter.  His profile was probably raised more by the fact his brother played for the Arsenal. It was claimed at one point he was a better prospect than his brother when coming through the youth set up so a big career was probably foreseen. I believe at one point he was even made captain of the reserve team however throughout his young career injuries have gotten the better of him. When given the chance to shine out on loan he hadn’t really grasped the opportunities with both hands. Still only 21 he still has plenty chance to carve out a decent career for himself though it may seem more likely in the lower leagues.

Rhys Murphy career definitely has been defined by all his injuries, I believe if it wasn’t for that he may have been given more opportunities in carling cup squads and such like. The injuries however restricted his chances and development. He made a couple of loan moves to Brentford and Preston North End and at one point seemed close to signing for Glasgow Rangers. Nothing concrete materialized but again Rhys is another player that if he can overcome the injuries could carve out a decent career and fulfil the early promise he showed when part of our FA youth cup winning team from 2009.

Best wishes go to Almunia, Hoyte, Murphy and the other players released in their future choices.

We were also hit with the news about Jack Wilshere’s knee. Although the knee surgery received in the Swedish clinic was a success it is rumoured recovery will be 2-3 months. Strictly a rumour as word on the official site is Jack will be on course for a summer return. I suppose we will have to wait and see as Arsenal has a history of getting return dates slightly wrong. We really need Jack back next season and I have my fingers crossed this will be the last of the injuries that require an extended period of time out.

Now that the futures of the end of contract personnel has been decided next on the agenda will be which players that are still under contract will be moving on. How much money was freed up from the release of these players yesterday? Not a great deal I presume. Almunia would have been on a decent wage whilst the other players being on the fringes of the first team squad would never really warrant bumper contracts at that stage of their careers.

Every penny counts with Arsenal and I’m sure they have already planned where the money saved on the release of these players will go. Let’s hope it goes more towards players that will be part of the team next season rather than a bargain purchase that doesn’t quite work out like Park.

Enjoy your day people.

Podolski is here. RVP talks today – AFC

So Lukas Podolski has done some promo for the Arsenal. The official site released some video of the German in his first official interview as an arsenal player. Although the deal was announced a while back you still can’t help but get excited at the thought of Podolski turning out for Arsenal when you catch sight of him wearing the kit.

I mean the actual interview itself was no different from your standard Arsenal interview for a new signing. Lukas proceeded to say all the things we wanted to hear and tick all the boxes to satisfy the fans. This to me is such an important signing and very shrewd piece of business conducted by Arsene and his team.

It goes to show we do have the pulling power and that we can be crafty enough to nip in and get signings of big players. This is not the potential we have become accustomed to signing over the last few years. This is a player for the now, a full international with an impressive record for a major country in world football.

Can this Podolski signing be another piece of evidence to prove the Arsenal strategy for signing players has evolved from future to right here right now? I certainly hope so. Too many times over the past few years heavy resources have been poured into developing the future stars of Arsenal only for their heads to be turned at the very stage when they should be the leading members of the team.

We have lost too many players because of this and have had to reinvest in youth to get back to this stage. On the other side of the coin many players deemed for bright futures have failed to live up to expectation.

Any signing is a gamble at the end of the day but if we continue to add the odd experienced quality to complement the raw potential the right balance will enhance the team growth.

One significant thing to notice with the signing of Podolski is the countries in which the club is targeting for players.

Germany has always been a leading force in world football and currently boasts an envious batch of highly talented young footballers coming to prominence. I am encouraged by the fact that we are targeting players from this country as opposed to the star player from Kazakhstan per say.

Per Mertesacker was the catalyst to us attracting German players to our club.

Of course he offers a lot more to the club than attracting his mates but it always helps attracting foreign players to your club when you already have a countryman on your books.

Eisfeld is on the books, we have long been targeting Mario Gotze. A German core is not a bad thing at all.

Germans are known for their professionalism and winning mentality. The kind of mentality which belongs at big clubs. We are a big club and will return back to where we belong at the top of the table before too long.

I refuse to take notice of anything said by Samir Nasri. The guy is a massive waste of space and I’m ashamed to believe I used to cheer on this guy and sing his name from the stands. Karma will have something planned for him.

Robin Van Persie is set to have his much-anticipated talks with the Arsenal men today; it will be just as nerve-racking to gunners fans as we were on Sunday. This is a massive set of talks that could have repercussions on the whole dynamic of the Arsenal squad. If he were to decide to leave the Arsenal we WILL need a replacement. Podolski should be deemed as an addition of quality to build on our 3rd place finish not a replacement for our golden boot winning, top scoring captain.

This was one of the situations that left us in so much despair at the start of last season. The uncertainty over Fabregas and Nasri left us feeling somewhat underwhelmed when players were linked as they were seen as mere poorly shaped plugs to fill massive holes.

We do not need that for next season, we need to do everything in our power to keep our captain and build. If unfortunately he has already made up his mind to go then we must think long-term and buy a replacement of equal standing and sell RVP as early as possible. We cannot let this drag out; we cannot beg him to see out one last year on his contract.

As much as I love Van Persie if he feels the need to fulfil ambition elsewhere then we need to sell him ASAP. Wenger is a man of honour and will not stand in his way and hold him to ransom. We will need to rebuild as soon as possible.

Dont let go Arsene.

I have a gut feeling Van Persie is staying with the Arsenal. I believe today’s meeting will serve as Wenger and his team convincing our captain that Podolski is just the start. Robin will be assured that we will be bringing silverware back to Arsenal and that he will not regret signing a new contract.

England squad for Euros should be named today. Heavy rumours that The Ox will be included. Will be interesting if true but I will wait until confirmation before passing my views on what impact they may have.

Enjoy your day people

Sleeping is for wimps, Arsenal are playing – AFC

The big day is here, our cup final in a way. So much hinges on one game. The guarantee of champion’s league football if we get third, the future of Robin Van Persie as an Arsenal player, the pulling power of higher calibre players, the pressure back on Arsene.

We as football fans are a very fickle bunch, we go through so many highs and lows throughout a season. Silverware or a strong finish at the end of the season and we dismiss all the lows. Failure at the end and all highlights are quickly forgotten. Taking into account how badly we started the season even the most diehard fans would never have envisaged us ending up in third place. We went on such an amazing run during the final third of the season to put us in this position but lately have somewhat stumbled to some less than satisfactory results.

If we had a crystal ball back during the darks days of the early part of the season we would take the position we are in ‘3rd place with a win at west brom to secure it’ we would literally bite your hand off for that.

Being in this position now and with so much to lose as well as gain; the sense is if we do not pull off the result today there will be a massive feeling of disappointment amongst all gooners. The Wenger out backlash may resurface, well actually not may it will most definitely resurface. Every aspect of what happened this season will be examined with a microscope and the overall assessment of this season will be a massive failure. Pat Rice is gone so I wonder if his last days will be viewed with celebration of his commitment to the Arsenal or will the cyber rotten tomatoes be thrown his way.

I mean every season without a trophy can be deemed as failure but on this occasion to see the turnaround from where we were at the early part of the season 3rd place would be a pretty acceptable outcome in my books.

There is such a fine line between absolute doom and absolute joy today that all gooners are very nervous today. We believe but we also have doubt.

I mean, I didn’t even expect to blog today due to the fact that I took part in the London Moonwalk across London in the name of breast cancer. I donned a bra and walked the streets with 15,000 women (not quite the men’s fantasy you would think) from midnight. I arrived home at 4.30am and went to sleep. I woke up 8.30 and although a little sore I could not get back to sleep. I am up wide awake and blogging.

Like back in the day when you had a big exam and the night before it was one of the most uncomfortable and sleepless nights

I have Arsenal on my mind. I love my club and cannot stop thinking about today’s game. Let’s hope Arsenal pass their test today.

Come on you Gunners!!

Sleeping is for wimpszzzz…..