Have Arsenal Missed A Trick With Mario Balotelli?

Today’s big news in the transfer market is that Liverpool have agreed a £16 million fee with AC Milan for Mario Balotelli. The striker was linked with a few clubs, Arsenal included, and now it looks like his return to the Premier League will be in a Liverpool shirt.

Many have already commented saying it’s a panic buy and too much of a risk, but I for one think he is excellent value at £16 million.

Of course, he comes with his own problems but in some ways I think he is misunderstood and the fact of the matter is he is one of the few players out there (and available) who has that world class talent. Despite his moods, tantrums and inability to put on a bib, you cannot deny the lad has supreme talent on the football pitch (when he wants to).

With the right manager, and the right team, Mario Balotelli can be a force to be reckoned with.

So have Arsenal missed a trick with this one?

£16 million is not much in todays transfer market for a player so talented. We need another striker (or two) and for that price would Balotelli be that much of a risk?

It would be ignorant to assume he’s going to lose the plot like he did at Manchester City, and don’t forget he’s still young – and maturing all the time.

For me, we’ve missed out big time on this one and for £16 million it wouldn’t have been that much of a gamble at all.

Mark my words, come next May people will be praising Brendan Rodgers for his cunning in the transfer market.

Where Does Lukas Podolski Fit Into This Arsenal Team?

When Lukas Podolski arrived at Arsenal in the summer of 2012, he was seen as the replacement for the departing Robin van Persie – he had a hammer of a left foot and was an outstanding finisher. But with the arrival of Olivier Giroud that same summer, he found himself more as a winger, although he did manage to score 16 goals in 42 games which isn’t a bad return for his first season in England.

Last season however he was less of an impact, scoring 12 goals in only 27 games. A better return percentage-wise, but the season saw him play 15 less games than the campaign before.

Arsene Wenger obviously favours a striker who can hold the ball up, and that role is covered by Olivier Giroud. Even when Van Persie was at Arsenal, he had the ability to hold the ball and bring others into play – something that unfortunately Podolski isn’t really renowned for. We also play with one main striker so a supporting role as a second striker isn’t really an option, meaning Podolski has been limited to appearances on the wing.

But that’s an area we seem to be well covered as well, and a position where Arsene seems to prefer others. Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain Tomas Rosicky, Serge Gnabry and Santi Cazorla can all play the “wider” midfield roles and give more in terms to team play. And with the signing of Mesut Özil last summer, we have another attacking midfield role taken up.

We’ve signed Alexis Sanchez who you would think would be one of the main attackers this season, placing Lukas even further down the pecking order.

I’ve heard from a number of sources that staff at Arsenal think Podolski is one of the best finishers they’ve seen at the club for a long time, which is quite the compliment.

The problem is though, that to me anyway, it seems that Lukas Podolski was either a “stop-gap” buy from Arsene to help fill the void of Van Persie’s departure, or (and this is probably more likely) that he has simply not shown enough to the boss that he’s good enough for Arsenal’s starting eleven.

So where do you think Lukas Podolski’s future lies? As a first team regular, a useful squad player or is he looking to leave The Emirates?

What To Do About Abou?

As the new Premier League season is upon us, like many others I imagine I’m taking in as much Arsenal news as possible – logging onto Football News websites, seeing what the latest is on Twitter and looking through YouTube for Arsenal videos.

But this compilation made by Calann Davies really got me thinking:

As well as being a fantastic compilation of About Diaby, it does raise a good question – what can he contribute to Arsenal?

For me, he is clearly a fantastic talent. Watching the video reminds you of just how good he can be, and Arsene Wenger clearly knows he is a player that is capable of controlling games and stamping his authority in any match.

We all hope and pray that About can stay injury free not just because he has the ability to give something special to the team, but also because he’s suffered so much over the last few seasons.

You’ve all probably seen this graphic from TalkSport already, but if you haven’t here it is:

abou-diaby-injury-infographic-600x837

He’s suffered so many injuries it’s unreal – and I have no doubt that the assault in 2006 is responsible for them.

Along with the Champions League Final in 2006 and the FA Cup semi-final against Manchester United in 1999, the dangerous and quite frankly vicious, cowardly and pathetic “tackle” by Dan Smith is right up there with the saddest moments I’ve had as an Arsenal fan.

Back in May 2006, I was outraged by the tackle and the “reaction” from the media at the time.

And I still feel angry about it all, even 8 years on.

Thomas Vermaelen Snubs Manchester United, And We Called It First

With many of the mainstream media outlets believing that Thomas Vermaelen was destined for a move to Manchester United to rejoin our previous captain Robin van Persie, we knew that Thomas would snub Old Trafford in favour for a move to the Camp Nou.

The main reasons for this decision were because of the style of football Barcelona play, which is not unlike Arsenal’s, and the exciting new project Luis Enrique is building at the Camp Nou. Also chatting with Cesc helped finalise his decision.

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Would Thomas Vermaelen Improve Manchester United?

Throughout the summer (and indeed the last couple of years) there has been talk about Thomas Vermaelen leaving Arsenal. For the last two and a half seasons, he’s been second fiddle (or third fiddle, depending how you look at it) to Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker, who have been generally outstanding for us at the back.

Whether that’s down to their off the field relationship, careful planning by Arsene Wenger or luck, the fact is the club captain doesn’t look like regaining a first choice selection.

Which in a way is a shame because he doesn’t seem like a tosser like other players who have left have been. He has apparently (according to Arsene) been the consummate professional off the pitch but clearly not playing a bigger role is painful for him.

And when Arsene talks about players possibly leaving, you know it’s just a matter of time before they do go.

Speaking objectively though, it’s clear he does have frailties to his game which led to his place on the bench; he gets caught out of position a lot and seems to be too concerned about “stealing” the ball from opposing players but doesn’t have the pace to do so – and is something The Boss is much better at doing,

Added to the fact that we always sell our captains (does Arsene plan this?) means he’ll probably be off.

And Manchester United is his likely destination.

He’ll be reunited with his friend Robin van Persie and be part of Manchester United’s new revival under Louis van Gaal.

But will he actually improve United?

He didn’t play much of a part in Belgium’s World Cup, and has been short of first team football for a long time. Arsene doesn’t seem to have faith in him any more and seems to be willing to cash in (metaphorically, as he’s probably only going to command a fee of around £5 million).

United will be happy as they would have “prised another captain from Arsenal” and play it as a major coup over one of their major rivals.

If Vermaelen does join United, it will be strange to see him at Old Trafford but that’s just the way of the world these days – our players seem to leave for United, City or Chelsea.

In the end, if he goes to Manchester then I think most fans won’t be too bothered – he’s a squad player at Arsenal, would provide money which could be spent on other signings abc probably wouldn’t improve United in the manner people would believe.

But what do you think?