Is Anyone Else Excited About Next Season?


It looks like everyone has written us off for next season, and call it blind optimism but I’m excited about the coming campaign.

The bookmakers have given us around 10/1 odds for the league (and some are as high as 12/1) which is bookmaker speak for ‘not a chance in hell’. I mean when Derby visit the Emirates they would shorter odds than that!

I guess the biggest test Arsenal have to face is the strength of the other 3 forces in the league – Chelsea, Manchester United and Liverpool. Until a few seasons ago Liverpool and Chelsea weren’t even in the picture – it was either Arsenal or United for the Premiership.

There’s no doubt that Eduardo da Silva and Bacary Sagna will add to our young squad, and a few more fresh faces would help the cause but the new season could see our team challenge at the top. If you look at our squad, there is so much potential for big seasons from several players:

Robin Van Persie is going to be spectacular.

This will be his 4th season at the club after joining as a 20-year old and without Dennis Bergkamp or Thierry Henry the Dutchman is now the main man. There’s no question about who will partner Thierry – it’s now all about Van Persie – will he be joined up front with Eduardo or Adebayor?

I’m sure you’ve seen his goals from last season. The goals against Manchester United at home and Charlton Athletic away show his ability to score goals without even thinking while smart finishes against Blackburn (home) and Watford (away) display his sheer ruthlessness in front of goal.

This guy is that good.

£2.5 million? That could be the bargain of the century.

Then we have Emmanuel Eboue.

For me Eboue is highly underrated by Arsenal fans. Through out Spain, Italy and France Eboue is thought of as one of the best right-back talents in Europe with his ability to attack down the right and support the attack. He is prone to a bit of playacting which sometimes detracts from his playing ability. There is a question about his defensive qualities but he (along with Clichy) kept Double Player of the Year Ronaldo quiet twice last season.

Gilberto Silva, Kolo Toure and Gael Clichy were the consistent performers last season, and you can rely on them to give everything next season. Gilberto added goalscoring to his repertoire last season with 11 goals which for a defensive midfielder is exceptional. Toure as usual was a lion at the back, although he suffered from a lack of a consistent partner alongside him. Gallas will probably start the majority of games because of his experience but I’m still wary whether he is Kolo’s best partner. I personally think Djourou and Senderos help the team better than with Gallas, but maybe that’s just me.

The jury is still out on Emmanuel Adebayor. There’s no doubt he has the talent to become a decent player and we’ll find out this season whether he’s got what it takes. He only managed to score 12 times last season which when you compare to midfielder Gilberto is comparatively poor.

Then we have the wingers; Rosicky and Hleb.

Alexander Hleb has something to prove this season after a couple of average campaigns. I am a fan of Hleb and on his day his ball retention and distribution is exceptional – just take a look at the goals he set up for Rosicky (Liverpool, FA Cup) and Flamini (Chelsea, Premiership) last season. He knows where to play the ball and is one of the few players in the squad who will hold onto the ball in the final third. I’ve always thought that he had his better games alongside Henry and Van Persie (a la Reading away) but with Titi out of the picture Hleb will have to adjust his game.

Tomas Rosicky is another guy who is a quality player but like Hleb has probably suffered from being played out of position. When both players arrived at Arsenal they were central attacking midfielders but have been groomed to play out on the wings – and whether they are comfortable playing there is still debatable.

I suppose 6 goals each in their time at Arsenal gives you the answer.

Reyes was the only player on our books who gave the side some natural width but he looks destined to stay in Spain, which is a shame because he was a good player.

Then we have the new boys, Eduardo da Silva and Bacary Sagna. With Eduardo we have signed a poacher who has an eye for goal, so we’ll either get a Francis Jeffers or an Ian Wright. God I hope it’s not a Francis Jeffers… The positive is that although it is the Croatian league, scoring 34 goals in 32 games is still impressive, and at least shows he is a natural goalscorer.

Sagna is an interesting signing. With a reported fee of around £7/8 million you wouldn’t think he would be just warming the bench until Eboue jets off to the ACN. People have said Eboue could play further up in right midfield which wouldn’t be the worst idea – and it would at least give Hleb some competition.

And then of course we have Cesc Fabregas, who for the last couple of seasons has been exceptional and is improving all the time. The team basically revolves around Cesc and looks dis-jointed without him in the side. The tempo of Arsenal’s game is dictated by Fabregas and he is simply an unbelievable talent.

How many 20 year olds can say they’ve had 3 full seasons at a top club, a World Cup campaign and Champions League Final under their belt?

He is possibly the most experienced 20 year old in World football today.

I’ve mentioned before that the first 10 games or so will determine how Arsenal’s season pans out but with Arsene’s Young Guns another year older and more experienced why can’t it be our year?

Fabregas – Anelka – Martins – Kroenke – Mourinho

Well Fabregas has been mainly positive over the recent weeks, speaking about the departure of Thierry and how Arsenal will do next season. While few share his optimism about winning the league, you can’t help be caught up in all the hype. He also touched on the patchy home form last season and how Arsenal need to make the Emirates into a fortress. There’s no doubt a new stadium effects form so hopefully Arsenal will be completely settled by the start of the new season.

I’ve been looking forward to the new campaign for a long time now – it will be exciting and intriguing how Arsenal perform without Henry but if Arsenal can get a decent run going in the first 10 games then anything is possible.

Arsenal have been linked with Anelka yet again. I can’t see that happening now since Arsene purchased Eduardo da Silva, who you would assume would be partnered with Van Persie. Adebayor seems to be improving all the time so you couldn’t see him being happy sitting on the bench too much either. I suppose it would depend on Freddie leaving, which looks like isn’t going to happen now.

I found an interesting article claiming that Martin’s ‘snubbed’ Arsenal to stay at Newcastle. If Martin’s loved Newcastle so much would he have signed for them insisting there was a buy-out clause in his contract? And it’s funny I’ve yet to see a single report about an official offer for the player.

There’s also increasing news about Stan Kroenke wanting to meet the rest of the Arsenal board after talking to Peter Hill-Wood and Keith Edelman. The press are getting excited about a possible takeover but who knows? The fact is the guy is a shareholder in Arsenal so it would make sense to at least speak to the other board members to introduce himself.

Finally, Jose Mourinho has said Spurs are in the title race next season – proving yet again that he is indeed an idiot.

Bacary Sagnal’s Arsene’s Vision For The Future


The Future & The Past?

It’s still only July and Arsenal have signed yet another player.

I’m getting giddy as we speak.

And apart from my terrible headline (I’m sorry, I just couldn’t resist) the signing of Sagna looks like an excellent addition to the squad. Wenger said:

“We are delighted to have signed Bacary Sagna. He is a very capable defender and has played consistently well for Auxerre in recent seasons.

He plays mainly at right back, but can also play along the defence or in midfield. He is strong, quick and enjoys defending but also has a good offensive side to his game. He has a fighting spirit and will be a very good addition to our squad.”

So Arsene can see Bacary Sagna playing across the back-four or even in midfield, so his versatility will be a valuable asset to the team. The guy is only 24 just like new arrival Eduardo da Silva so will be hungry next season with having something to prove.

You can also see exclusive photographs here on the official Arsenal website.

But as Arsenal add to their squad it looks like Freddie could be on his way out – possibly following Lupoli to Fiorentina. If he does leave then I wish him all the best because he’s been excellent for the club, and been one of the best finishers I’ve seen.

With Eduardo and Bacary coming in, you just sense this isn’t the end of the signings.

Do you feel it too?

More Gallas & Sagna – Dudu – Babel – Freddie

Well here’s a link to Will.I.Am Gallas’ official website with the interview which is causing so much attention.

I have to say that reading his official site there’s nothing really outrageous in the statements he’s actually made, and he has even acknowledged the costs of the new stadium for restricting Arsene’s ability to splash out big money. Although saying that it’s not Wengers style to spend £20/£30 million on a single player like the other top 4 would.

And on the recruiting front, reports have been saying that the signing of Bakary Sagna will be completed soon – so we could have another player by the end of the day. The article also says that Sagna can also play on the left which could be useful since Gael Clichy is our only recognised senior left-back. People have pointed out to already having Eboue and Hoyte but at centre back we already have Gallas (maybe), Djourou and Senderos to cover Kolo. Eboue will be missing but could be used as a winger with Sagna’s possible arrival – he’s been more effective than Hleb and Rosicky in the few games he’s played further up and Manu isn’t afraid to shoot either.

The Online Gooner has an interesting article on our new Signing Eduardo ‘Dudu’ da Silva which is well worth a read.

Another Arsenal target looks to have been snapped up by our rivals, as Liverpool look to buy Ryan Babel for around £13.5 million. I haven’t seen Babel in action much to be honest although I’ve heard he’s a decent player. Arsene should really target a few crap players and then let the likes of Chelsea, United and Real Madrid get them – that’ll teach them to go after our transfer targets.

Our old striker (no, not that one) has backed Fiorentina’s bid for Freddie. There has been a lot of speculation about Freddie leaving and he clearly wants to stay, but ultimately it’s Arsene’s decision.

Cesc – Gallas – Paddy – Sagna – Fixture Changes

New Real Madrid coach Bernd Schuster has expressed his admiration for Cesc Fabregas, sparking yet more transfer speculation about the young Spaniards future. The interesting thing is that in none of the quotes does he actually say he wants to buy Fab, but of course that doesn’t stop the silly season transfer news.

There’s no way that AW would let Cesc and Henry leave in the same summer.

And if I was Bernd I would be thinking about where he’s going to work next year after Real sack him after one season!

Meanwhile Willie Gallas has shown once again how egotistical he is by claiming to know what’s best for the team. He has his own website for God’s sake. While many will probably support what he’s on about most of you would agree that a public rant isn’t exactly the best way to go about things – and not exactly great for team spirit. If he has any problems he should speak to Wenger privately.

Our old captain has said what most gooners think about young foriegn talent over English youth – it doesn’t matter what your passports says as long as you’re good enough. Would you rather have Patrick Vieira, Cesc Fabregas and Thierry Henry or David Bentley, Jay Boothroyd and Matthew Upson?

Exactly.

There have been many reports recently on Arsenal signing Bakary Sagna, and the players have even come out and said publicly that he wants Auxerre to let him join us. Wenger’s transfer dealings are usually very secret, although it would make sense with Kolo and Eboue missing some of the season on ACN duty.

And finally, a few of Arsenal’s fixtures have been re-arranged to accommodate television rights – mainly to Sky Sports and Setanta. 3 (Pompy, Liverpool & United) will be shown on Sky, while 2 (Sunderland & Reading) will be on Setanta. I don’t have Setanta Sports because Sky is bloody expensive as it is and I probably won’t next season by the looks of it if they’re showing games like Sunderland.