Transfer News: More Players Going Than Coming…

Well Arsenal have confirmed the signing of Lukasz Fabianski from Legia Warsaw which has been common knowledge to most Arsenal fan’s for a while now. The addition of an extra keeper has meant that someone had to leave and that someone was Mart Poom, who joins Watford for an undisclosed fee. Personally if I had the choice I would have offloaded Almunia since I think Poom is much better, especially with his experience but at 35 years old I suppose it makes sense.

We also know that Julio Baptista isn’t going to stay at Arsenal, which is hardly a surprise. Arsene did mention a while ago that he had already made a decision on Baptista and obviously he’s just as unimpressive in training as he is when he puts on the Arsenal shirt. It’s a pity really because he’s had a lot of scoring opportunities in the numerous games he’s had and if he could actually score then he would be a useful player for us. C’est la vie…

In other news Arsene is trying to find another club for Jose Antonio Reyes, who Real Madrid don’t want. Athletico Madrid are the favourites to sign him, although the biggest problem is his valuation. It looks like Arsenal are going to have to take a big loss to get rid of him, which is a shame because before Old Trafford he was an excellent player for us.

Since then he was never the same.

And another player who won’t be playing for Arsenal is seems is Mathieu Flamini. He cites being ‘snubbed’ for 3 finals as a reason for not being happy at Arsenal – including The FA Cup, Champions League and Carling Cup finals. And to an extent I can agree with him, in regards to the Champions League and Carling Cup finals at least.

To be pushed out by Ashley Cuntface in the biggest final in World Club Football when you’ve played most of the games leading up to it must have been hard to take. Flamini had played some really solid football in the knockout rounds and played brilliantly against Juventus, Villarreal and Real Madrid. The Carling Cup final was also a bit of a surprised as well, but probably has more to do with the emergence of Abou Diaby and Denilson this season – with the Brazilian looking much more of a prospect than Flamini at the moment.

On the plus side, the impressive Nicklas Bendtner has signed a new 5 year contract with Arsenal, after his impressive displays for Birmingham City in their promotion to the Premiership. It will be interesting to see if he can push Thierry Henry and Van Persie next season though.

And talking about Henry, apparently he’s off to Barcelona again… *Yawn!*

So What’s Your Highlight Of The Season?

For Arsenal Football Club at least, this weekend will signal the end of the footballing season as the final Premiership fixtures are finally concluded when we play Portsmouth at Fratton Park.

So what have we learnt this season?

Have we improved on our last campaign?

There were many highlights this season along with many disappointments.

Arsene’s young guns managed to light up the Carling Cup by reaching the final only to lose against a full-strength Chelsea side, impressively beating Everton, Liverpool and Tottenham along the way.

We also beat Champions Manchester United twice, drew against Chelsea twice and beat Liverpool at home to have the best record against the top 4 clubs.

But of course we crashed out of the Champions League at the first knockout stage and despite impressing in the FA Cup against Liverpool and Bolton Wanderers away, we couldn’t push on and were knocked out against Blackburn Rovers when we were guilty of wastefulness in front of goal.

Something which seems to sum up our season really.

And our inability to beat teams lower in the league remains a problem from last season and our main obstacle in challenging for the league. Away day defeats against Sheffield United, West Ham, Fulham and Everton seem to be the norm nowadays and there’s something missing in the squad – fighters who give everything in every game.

My personal highlight of this season was the win at Old Trafford in September.

Going into that game, Arsenal’s form was poor after failing to win any of their first 3 games while United were flying and had won their first 3 fixtures – and comfortably.

No-one gave Arsenal a chance.

But after dominating the game from start to finishing (and even missing a penalty in the process) Arsenal walked away from Old Trafford with all 3 points – and deservedly so. Adebayor was the man to score the decisive goal on 86 minutes after Fabregas stole the ball from Ronaldo and slipped in a quite brilliant through-ball.

There was fresh optimism after that match – Arsenal had improved on last season and were genuine title challengers! No more lacklustre away days in the North, Arsenal had finally got their act together.

But as the season ends we know that wasn’t the case at all.

So what was your highlight of the season?

Just How Far Are Arsenal From Chelsea & United?

Well today Arsenal had a golden opportunity to beat Chelsea, especially in the 43rd minute when Baptista got on the wrong side of Boulahrouz and got fouled in the box. The Dutch defender was rightly sent off and Gilberto comfortably scored the penalty to give Arsenal the lead.

From then on you expected Arsenal to dominate the game with the extra man but that didn’t happen. Chelsea, seemingly galvanised from the dismissal, stepped up their game in the second half and could have arguably won the game at the death.

As could have Arsenal, when Eboue’s excellent shot beat Petr Cech and smashed the bar.

But the game ended in a draw which on the balance of play was probably a fair result. Arsenal suffered yet again from not taking their chances with Baptista, Adebayor, Hleb and Cesc scuffing tames shots against Cech – who to be honest didn’t have a real save to make.

Chelsea were dangerous in attack and clinical while Arsenal never looked like scoring that second goal. People will point to the absence of Titi and Van Persie but we can’t expect those two to score all our goals – simply put the rest of the squad just don’t contribute enough.

The draw confirmed Manchester United as Premiership Champions and Chelsea as runners up.

But how far are Arsenal from competing for the title?

Since winning the Premiership last in 2003, Alex Ferguson took 3 seasons to find a new team that is capable of winning the league. He lost Van Nistelrooy, Beckham, Keane & Sheringham and replaced them with Saha, Ronaldo, Carrick and Rooney.

When we lost Adams came in Toure, and Seaman was replaced by Lehmann. Football is ever changing and the challenge after any success is to do it again with a new team.

But the biggest players we have lost in recent seasons are Bergkamp, Vieira and Pires.

The problem is that Fabregas is currently filling the Bergkamp and Vieira roles by himself – and a goalscoring midfielder like Pires just hasn’t been replaced by either Rosicky or Hleb. Rosicky’s second season next year will be the real test, while the jury is still out on Hleb.

Next season will be a stuggle if the wide players don’t start scoring. Gilberto is our highest scoring midfielder despite being a defensive player!

I’m not sure about our defence with William Gallas.

I know that’s stupid to say considering he is a fantastic defender and more importantly a winner, but on more than one ocassion he hasn’t looked that great next to Kolo.

Maybe it’s because they’re so used to being next to a leader. When Toure was playing alongside (a fit and focused) Sol Campbell they were awesome, but it was clear Sol was the organiser at the back – and Gallas has always been alongside John Terry who is a born leader.

Or maybe as a team we just don’t concentrate defensively?

Whatever it is, Arsenal’s defence doesn’t look water tight like it has in the past and we’re prone to conceding sloppy goals.

In my opinion, Arsene has some real thinking to do in the summer about the currently squad at his disposal.

Chelsea Preview: Let’s End The Season On A High

Well Sunday marks our final home game of the season.

It’s been another one of those transitional seasons and while most fans will be disappointed there is plenty to look forward to next season.

Thierry Henry and Robin Van Persie should be back, who when fully fit will be like two new signings. Scoring has been a major problem this season and without our two highest scorers for much of the campaign you can’t blame us for struggling.

But at least we’ve secured 4th place and have the chance to play in the Champions League again.

And with Liverpool against AC Milan in this years Champions League Final, are the omens good for yet another Barcelona and Arsenal Final next season?

We can always hope!

But onto the game on Sunday, and we see the reigning Champions visit the Emirates for what should be an interesting encounter.

Ideally, Manchester City will beat United in the derby so that Sunday’s match has an even great significance.

Then it will be even sweeter if we get a result against Chelsea.

Arsene Wenger expects Arsenal fans to show Cashley Cole ‘respect’ if he plays which I suppose is the diplomatic thing to say. Personally I hope he gets the abuse he deserves but with Wayne Bridge being the better left back then it wouldn’t at all surprise me if he plays instead of Cuntface. And funnily enough that’s what Wenger expects.

The early team news is that Tomas Rosicky is only 50/50 for the game, while Freddie is definitely out with a hamstring problem. That means it will probably be Hleb and Baptista in midfield with Adebayor alone up front. Baptista has been hot and cold this season but he does offer a threat in the air which could trouble Chelsea, especially if Carvalho is still out.

I’m personally really looking forward to the game and despite the fact that Chelsea have been poor and looked tired recently against Newcastle, Bolton and Liverpool you would expect them to raise their game against us. What better way to make things better by beating Arsenal in their own back yard?

Despite that though, I’m confident we can beat Chelsea and cap of a miserable week for the Russians.