Son of a Gun!

Musings on Arsenal Football Club by a Singaporean Gooner (Gooner since 1988)

Will Arsenal sign anymore players? August 25, 2009

Filed under: Transfer Rumours — Son of a Gunner @ 9:47 pm

There are less than a week to go before the transfer window closes and so far, the transfer business seemed to be over for most clubs other than Manchester City, who signed two more players this week.

There shouldn’t be any news until Sunday and Monday, the last day of the window. Arsenal will be facing Celtic tomorrow night and Manchester United late on Saturday. Wenger, being the focussed manager that he is, will not be thinking about any new signings until these two big games are out of the way. I am sure, however, that his targets (if there are any) have already been identified to Ivan Gazidis for him to do his job. Gazidis, on the other hand, has been busy Arsenalising our stadium.

Wenger has hinted there might be one or two more additions on the last day, probably in the last 7 hours or so. I hope we can secure an experienced defensive midfielder on the last day but I will not be holding my breath for it.

Let us look at who might, or might not be coming in.

1 – Patrick Vieira
I’ve mentioned in my earlier posts that I would be very surprised if he joined Spurs, and he had come out to say it. Now that is out of the way, the question is: Will Vieira make an dramatic return to Arsenal, and Wenger’s first ‘repeat’ signing?

Wenger mentioned last week that he had not moved for Vieira but he still has enough time to do so if he decides before the window closes. It is still possible because he would not be a long term hinderance to Alex Song, who is still young. Vieira can also provide the necessary experience in our midfield and impart some vital lessons to aid the development of Song further. However, I have also mentioned that Vieira will be concerned about his playing chances should he return. He knows very well that he need to be playing regularly to stand a chance to be selected for the World Cup come the end of the season.

This problem can be neutralised by his own chances if he is staying at Inter. Although he has proved his fitness in pre-season, he is still not th first choice at Inter. He might think a change of environment might do him good and if he is going to be warming the bench at Inter, he might as well do it at a club where he made his name.

Probability of this transfer: 5/10

2 – Brede Hangeland
Wenger admitted he scouted the player but with Thomas Vermaelen and William Gallas in stunning form, it is no longer necessary for another centreback. There are still Johan Djourou and Philippe Senderos to call upon, and of course Alex Song.

Wenger also said we will not be signing Hangeland this season.

Probability of this transfer: 1/10

3 – Blaise Matuidi
The young Saint-Etienne defensive midfielder isn’t the imposing figure nor the experienced head that Arsenal is crying out for. But his name has been linked all summer. I have mentioned that his style reminds me of a player we already have on our books, Francis Coquelin. This signing makes no sense to me as he has very little top-class European experience and is unproven out of France and hasn’t done anything of worthy note so far. We also have similar youngsters at the club. However, this signing might really happen as top defensive midfielders are lacking and it is clear Wenger rates the player.

Probability of this transfer:7/10

4 – Marouane Chamakh
He has been linked all summer and it still baffles me that Bordeaux did not accept Arsenal’s bid, knowing he can leave for free next season.

He would have been a very useful addition, and he has proven in this new young season that he has added some composure to his gam by scoring 3 goals in 3 games thus far, helping Bordeaux to the top of the table. However, I won’t be losing too much sleep over this as we have enough cover up front. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that our attackers stay injury-free.

He might still arrive next summer. But I doubt there will be any chance of him joining in the current transfer window.

Probability of this transfer: 4/10

I maintain that we need one more good, experienced midfielder to complete our ‘massive’ squad and be competitive for a sustained period of time, as Arshavin mentioned, we are a little short on quantity compared to the other title challengers.

Let us all hope there will be something stirring next Monday. It promises to be a nail-biting final day.

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Final Pre-season friendly: Valencia 2 – 0 Arsenal August 11, 2009

Filed under: Jack Wilshere,Pre-season,Transfer Rumours — Son of a Gunner @ 10:38 pm

Valencia 2 – 0 Arsenal

And so a very fine pre-season run has come to an end with a deflating defeat. Again, I should remind everyone that it is still only pre-season and results are not entirely indicative of the squad’s strength. And the points that I will raise later in this very post will point out why there are still more reasons to be optimisstic than not.

Before I begin, let me again go through some of the biggest happenings since my last real post (let’s hope last weekend would be the last time I fall sick for very, very long time) with some of my thoughts.

Jack Wilshere, whose pre-season form has caught the Premier League-watching world’s wildest imagination, has remained in the news with England coach Fabio Capello saying he might consider including him for the World Cup squad next year. I can understand the degree of the hype leveled on this 17 year-old. If I’m English, I would be overexcited too. England has been starved of international success for decades, every new exciting name is being hailed as the next saviour, or the final piece in the jigsaw that will bring back the World Cup. Yet, on top of all these, there is not the slightest doubt that Wilshere is a special talent with an exceptional footballing quality that excites more than the other England stars who broke through at a similarly young age – Rooney, Owen, Gerrard.

However, he is still only young. Speaking of the senior England squad would be way too soon. He must first be allowed to continue his development in less international scrutiny and to first break into the Arsenal first team more regularly. Despite being a Gooner, I never thought the decision of Walcott being brought into the World Cup squad in 2006 was a wise decision. I always thought that slowed down his progress rather than speeded it. His confidence took a blow afterwards and it took him some time to get back on track. Luckily for us, Walcott is a mentally tough lad. Luckier thing is, Wilshere looks the same. Meanwhile, he has been called up to the England U21 squad and I believe he is one of the youngest there so let’s hope he will continue to develop.

Moving on to transfer rumours:
Patrick Vieira – As I’ve stated in my earlier posts, I’ve doubted that he will return to Arsenal and I’ve aso doubted that he will move to Spurs. I’ve been proven right on both counts with him choosing to stay with Inter. It is a strange decision though, as he won’t be playing regularly at Inter and his international chances might decrease due to that. But then again, he probably didn’t have any other offers at hand.

Marouane Chamakh – I’ve stated in my earlier posts that he remains the most likely next Arsenal signing but it doesn’t seem to be close as well. My earliest post of Marouane Chamakh is the most-read post in my blog with it registering some 408 hits in one particular day when this rumour was at its peak. Bordeaux prefers to think of Chamakh as a 15 million pound striker while Arsenal rates him half the price. I think half the price would still be a price that is too good to refuse. He has one more year’s contract remaining and he would then be free. He is unproven outside of France and he is not exactly prolific. As to why Bordeaux is playing hardball makes no sense whatsoever. Arsene was right to stand his ground on this. In fact I would have reverted with a reduced offer (like 4 million pounds or something) to make a point.

In my earlier post of him, I said he was a rather poor finisher but allow me to correct myself. A technically sound player can’t be too terrible at finishing simply because if you can pass, then you can most certainly shoot. However, he doesn’t possess the composure to finish chances that comes his way. And such composure can’t really be taught. I’m a striker, and I know what I’m talking about. But I still believe he can excel in our new 4-3-3 formation playing either flanks of the attacking trio or even be the focal attacking point. He can be a direct deputy to van Persie. Either way, we will see if we eventually get him.

Moving on to more serious matters, our Champions League draw.

There were a lot of talk about the chances of Arsenal meeting Celtic before the draw was made, and I was already having a really weird feeling that it would really happen. When it did, I was surprised that I didn’t really worry about the tie. We avoided potentially bigger opponents but Celtic can of course still prove to be a banana skin. Before the draw was made, a couple of Celtic bloggers were bragging about their performances against Manchester United last season and said they were not afraid of Arsenal. I doubt their bravado lasts when they saw the results of the draw. They forgot they lost their best player Shunsuke Nakamura to Espanyol over this summer. I have the fullest confidence in Arsenal to score a convincing win in this one.

Finally, to the interestig bits of the match we go!

1 – Adou Diaby started.
Arsene Wenger mentioned before this game that the starting line-up would be a huge indication of how the team will line up against Everton on the opening day of the new season. I questioned in my previous post about Diaby’s availability and that we haven’t seen him for more than a half in the first 6 friendly games. He was in the midfield trio with Cesc Fabregas and Alex Song.

2 – Ramsey and Denilson didn’t play.
Ramsey was the one who caught my eye the most in pre-season with his consistency and his incredible growth in strength and confidence. He played a lot of minutes in pre-season and I expect a much bigger role for him this season. But he didn’t play and Denilson was left out of the squad altogether. It was probably to keep them fresh for the season ahead, or it might be that Song and Diaby are Wenger’s first choice midfield duo to support Cesc.

3 – We conceded only when Cesc, Song, Alumnia and Gallas were substituted.
Of course, on top of the 4 abovementioned big names, our first choice attacking trio of Arshavin, van Persie and Bendtner were also substituted meaning chances of chasing the game were a bit dimmer as well. Gallas is our most experienced defender and arguably the best. Song is our first choice defensive midfielder, Alumnia is our first choice ‘keeper and Cesc is our captain. From what I read, we were evenly matched and even have our fair share of chances but didn’t take them. So when we conceded only when these 4 important players were out, then it means we have less to worry about. Do also remember David Villa, whom Real and Barca are fighting over like a pair of little girls fighting over a limited edition barbie doll, came on fresh in the second half and was the scorer of the second goal.

4 – Walcott and Gibbs played their first pre-season games.
I really can’t wait tosee them both being match fit but right now they need matches. They joined late due to the extended break given to them and would need a bit of catching up. I think Walcott will really excel on the right flank of the attacking trio.

I will try to finish up on my first team squad for the season ahead series before the new season start so my next article will be on our midfield trio, the players who should be playing where and how they can contribute to the season ahead. Rosicky is injured again but this is to be expected given he wa out for so long. For those who keep saying he should retire, I think it is premature and if we have waited 18 months to see him playing again, what is another 6 weeks? Yes, it is a blow nonetheless given how good he had looked in pre-season so far and his presence is essential in the absence of Nasri but luckily for us we have more than a few options in this role. I will discuss more about this in my next article as well.

So, before I end today’s post, here is another trademark Son of a Gunner’s poll!

 

Goodbye Kolo, thanks for the memories July 31, 2009

Filed under: Former Gunners,Transfer Rumours — Son of a Gunner @ 11:51 pm

Kolo Toure was officially Manchester City’s latest signing yesterday. To be honest, I didn’t see this coming even as late as last week although the rumours to his departure started as early as January this year when Arsenal admitted he handed in a transfer request.

For a player who has given so much to the club, the way the relationship ended really wasn’t the most ideal. He lost his place in the first team and his relations with his defensive partner William Gallas had broken down and although after the mid-season transfer window closed with Toure staying and re-affirming his future with the club, they seemed to get back together on professional terms at least. During pre-season, Toure and Gallas partnered each other more than once, making me think they might both be staying. He even led the team out as captain in the friendly the day before he left.

Unlike Ademoneyor, no true Gooner can begrudge Toure leaving Arsenal for whatever reasons, monetary or ‘footballing’, the latter being more Politically-Correct then realistic. No fan would be pleased to hear their new signing joined for the sake of money, it’s like a taboo revealing that in your first interview at a new club. City fans can kid themselves but they know deep down inside, that all these players did not join their club simply because of the club’s prestige, but purely because of money. I’m not going to open a can of worms by saying what I feel about their way of obtaining success, because every club has their own way and their own rights. It’s their club and I honestly don’t give a rat’s ass how they run their club. It is Arsenal I care about.

Anyway, I digress. I want to say, Kolo Toure has been an impeccable professional for us. I love him dearly as a Gunner and I genuinely wish him all the very best except whenever he returns to Emirates stadium. His departure has made me unable to post yesterday (ok, my night class did play a big part in that too) and I am still coming to terms with it. I remember how his horrible own goal against Leeds brought our title challenge to a halt some years back (has to be some time back, do you even remember Leeds?), but he was so incredibly upset after he lashed at the ball madly into the back of our own goal that you can see he was tearing himself apart. I was really frustrated when the goal was scored but after I saw his reaction, my heart went out to him. He went on to become part of that famous back four in that record-breaking run in the Champions League. With Sol Campbell out-of-sorts most of that season, a 25-year-old Toure was the main man in defence and he did not let the team down.

Toure has left us many fond memories, and it should have been more. My fear is that having seen him in pre-season, he certainly looks fitter and leaner than last season. In any case, thank you for all the memories, Kolo.

Well, we have lost two African players and very experienced ones too taking into consideration how young the rest of the team is. A thrd African departure is being mooted in the form of Eboue and I have said before in previous posts that after Toure’s departure, I am no longer keen to see Eboue leave. If he does leave, we are no only short on numbers, we are dangerously bereft of quality rightbacks. In my earlier article on our rightbacks for the season ahead, both Toure and Eboue are high up on the list in being Sagna’s backup but if both are gone we will be left with purely youngsters as backup. Like it or not, we’ll have to sign players if that happens.

The media is of course up to their usual tricks of planting the panic buttons into Gooners everywhere and I’m glad to see only ignorant, jump-on-the-bandwagon, relatively-new gooners are being taken in with the fans of our rival clubs. News of Toure and Ademoneyor leaving Arsenal is sensational enough for them because Arsenal will now appear much weaker than we already are and if they do not have anything else to excite them by, then surely taking the micky out of a rival club would make their pre-season. Let us put things into perspective here.

Looking purely across the top teams one by one:
Manchester United – Lost two players who played an integral part in their title wins last two seasons and the Champions League win two seasons ago. Antonio Valencia, a player who shone in a team without any technical ability, was brought in to replace the world’s best player. He is a good player, but is he good enough to replace Ronaldo? You can argue he is young but let me tell you a cold, hard fact – he is the SAME age as Ronaldo. France U-21 international Gabriel Obertan was another signing. Young and hugely talented, he only served half a season of Bordeaux’s title-winning season as a reserve, before gong on loan to Lorient for the rest of the season. Finally, they signed Michael Owen which was ridiculed by most of the football world but to me their best signing of this summer. Getting a proven goalscorer for free is almost like a riskless venture. There is no doubt in my head Owen will get more than his fair share of goals despite his injury problems. A club like United will suit a finisher of Owen’s ability. But do these 3 signings make United stronger than they were last season? Unlikely.

Liverpool – Pretty much the same squad an the most significat addition is Glenn Johnson. Johnson may be a classy player who is now better than when he was at West Ham and Chelsea, but is still defensively suspect. Álvaro Arbeloa has been offloaded to Real Madrid and Xabi Alonso may yet follow him out. Javier Mascherano’s future is still under speculation. A better team than last season? I doubt.

Chelsea – They made the biggest signing among the big 4 clubs, Yuri Zhirkov. But their own signings are mediocre players not intended for the first team. With their aging players another year older, will that make them a better team than last season? Unlikely, and although I rate Zhirkov highly, I do not see him being the one key factor in helping Chelsea regain the title. Carlo Ancelotti is an overrated manager, with a prestigious club name that attracts the world’s best talents year after year, Milan boasts of some of the world’s best players like Kaka, Maldini, Ronaldinho and now Pato. Despite the huge array of experienced and proven top players, he only won the Serie A once – 5 seasons ago. I don’t see him being a huge success at Chelsea, I’m sorry.

What about us? We signed the captain of Ajax, Thomas Vermaelen. I have seen him in pre-season and I like what I saw. His style suits Arsenal and his tendency to play high up the field which can catch him exposed is one of the few weaknesses he has displayed but I think that will improve with time. Besides, he is still integrating into the team. Wenger knew our defence needed some freshening up and he has gone out and done that. Toure was dropped from the first team for a significant period of time last season and even the biggest Kolo fan would agree he was not up to the task last year. Ademoneyor only scored 16 goals last season, only 1 more than Nicklas Bendtner.

Eduardo has returned, Arshavin will have his first full season having fully adapted to the league, Rosicky is back fit. Nicklas Bendtner now will have more chances to play and will definitely continue to improve, and youngsters like Denilson, Song and Ramsey has another year’s experience. Are we stronger? Yes, we are. While other teams were strong last season, most of them are filled with players at their peak, they can only maintain their strength if they do not add. While we having these youngsters can only get better.

Yes, Gooners worry about players such as Cesc, van Persie and Walcott leaving if we continue to be starved of success. But departures like these are a boost to the young players more than anything els because they see an opportunity to grab a first team spot. Cesc and Walcott came through the same way. And Ramsey and Whilshere are both looking very strong in pre-season, their form no doubt reasons why Wenger is relunctant to spend. Although I maintain having an experienced player will push the youngsters even harder, it doesn’t mean we are any weaker if we do not replace the 2 players who gave very little last season.

Having listed the above, doesn’t the future seem much brighter than what the media would have you believe?

Oh City? I must say I’ve always respected their midfield. But with a manager like Hughes at the helm, I’m not sure they will play a smooth, fluid kind of football we Arsenal can produce. I’m not even sure Hughes can last another season but that is another topic for another day. How fast they can gel and play as a cohesive unit remains to be seen. You can argue they are all intelligent players who can play with anyone but so is Robinho but what happens to him whenever he plays in away games?

I’m not sure Hughes is tactically strong enough to bring out the best in his expensively-assembled squad. To be perfectly honest, I still think they are some way off to challenging for a Champions League place. However, I believe they can now consistently challenge the likes of Everton and Aston Villa -who both, by the way, also did not significantly add to their squad.

To end today’s post, I will put my perspective on the latest transfer rumour: Arsenal going for Patrick Vieira, which Wenger did not rule out. I mentioned in earlier posts that I would be very surprised if Vieira really went to Spurs and I maintain that. As for Vieira returning to Arseanal, I have my doubts as well. I think Wenger was just trying to sound diplomatic. He said the same thing about Thierry Henry last season but we all know he would never return to Arsenal as a player.

I watched the Hannover game and I will review that in my next post. Really looking forward to the Emirates Cup!

 

Interesting hack July 29, 2009

Filed under: Transfer Rumours — Son of a Gunner @ 10:46 pm
Is Daniel de Rossi our new number 13?

Is Daniel de Rossi our new number 13?

Well, no. Daniel de Rossi did not join Arsenal and I would be extremely surprised if we managed to get him. There seemed to be some hacker who hacked into the official website for a short period of time and put de Rossi as an Arsenal player on the official website. But kuddos to the webmaster to correct it early as it didn’t last long enough to cause a much more wild reaction. If you pay attention to the picture above, a screenshot that was taken by another blogger who reacted quick enough in that short span of time it was up, you can see a picture of Henri Lansbury was used.

I understand following the departure of Ademoneyor and the imminet departure of Kolo Toure, there is a lot of pressure on Wenger to spend the money earned and with big names quickly running out of fashion, a new name has to be thought of by the day. The frenzy finally caught up with the above reaction.

As I mentioned yesterday, it pains me greatly to see Toure leave. Other than the fact he is our last Invincible, he was a player who never showed a lack of commitment on the field. Not one second. But if he were to leave, be prepared that Arsenal would not be spending to get a replacement. If any spending is to be done, it would be in midfield and not anyone to replace either Moneybayor or Toure. Now, the fear is even that may not happen.

One canonly hope. But if our utility man Eboue is to join them in departing then I would really think we are short on numbers. And this cannot be supplemented by youth players, as promising as they are. They are just not ready.

But there really is nothing we fans can do but hope for the best. When I first became a Gooner, there was a huge gap in between our titles from 1991-1998. In those years, I was just happy to get double wins over Spurs and to be higher in the league than them. Occaionally getting into Europe would be nice. A domestic cup here and there would be a surprise.

When Wenger came, he changed Arsenal’s fortunes forever. To use one of Wenger’s own quotes “You can be a victim of your own success”. Wenger is now a victim of his own success. Before him, success were mediocre at best. So why shouldn’t REAL Gooners be giving him the chance to make things right?

Let’s get behind our main man. We as fans can only trust our manager to bring us the success the club craves. I believe he wants it as much as any of us.

Tonight, we will have the last friendly at Austria against Hannover 96. I will be picking out the interesting bits again tomorrow to get more of an idea of how our team will shape up next season.

Stay positive!

 

Congraulations Robin! July 13, 2009

Filed under: Manuel Almunia,Robin van Persie,Transfer Rumours — Son of a Gunner @ 10:30 pm
Arsenal Player of the Season - Robin van Persie

Arsenal Player of the Season - Robin van Persie

As I have stated in my previous posts, Robin van Persie really is our Arsenal Player of the Season 2008/2009. Congratulations Robin!

For people who insist he is too injury-prone in the top flight, this has got to be Robin’s best answer. It really isn’t fair to insist Robin is too weak to survive in the Premier League simply because he was out injured for most of ONE season. He came back strongly last season, with a good preparation in he pre-season, and was largely injury-free.

Goals against Chelsea and Liverpool does not happen to an average Premier League player. 20 goals in 44 appearances is not an average figure. To me, there is no one currently in the Premier League with a more talented left-foot (and that includes, with all due respect, Ryan Giggs). And to top it off, he has scored quite a few sweetly-taken goals with his so-called “chocolate foot”.

Him signing a new contract is the best news all summer so far. Although I hope we can see an experienced midfielder come in. I believe he has a genuine affection for the club and he shares the same vision as Cesc and Wenger. Now, the only thing left is to fulfil their ambitions and ours.

Onto other news, Gilberto Silver from Gunnerblog had a good piece on Blaise Matuidi. I just think at 22 years of age, 1.75m tall and playing for St Etienne, a team that avoided relegation from Ligue 1 on the last day of the season, Matuidi does not fit into the kind of top-class, experienced beast that Cesc needs as his partner. I admit I do not know much about Matuidi but from the looks of it, it seems that we already have someone similar, Francis Coquelin. He is younger but one can argue Matuidi hardly can claim superiorty over him in terms of top class experience. I remain unconvinced but at the same time, there really isn’t anyone who fits the bill and is available readily. Let’s hope Wenger work his magic again.

Meanwhile, Manuel Almunia again states he will be honoured to represent England. If you ask me, I think he is easily better than any other English keeper at present. I know there is this huge controversy about how it is inappropriate for a foreigner to represent England. But from where I come from, my national team is composed of quite a few foreign-born talent. Do I despise them? No, I get behind them as Singaporeans. Ditto the then world champions France, with foreign-born talents such as Vieira. I know I have no right to comment on this but I feel as a neutral party, there is nothing wrong in Almunia’s desire to represent England especially since he has little chance of playing for his native Spain. Besides, he hasn’t been called up so it’s a non-issue.

I guess I will leave my posts on players for each position in the first 16 for tomorrow onwards.

 

Melo deal is dead, let’s look to alternatives July 12, 2009

Filed under: Philippe Senderos,Transfer Rumours — Son of a Gunner @ 10:58 pm

Top Arsenal stories the past few days during my ‘down-time’:

Philippe Senderos, who was earlier linked to Fiorentina, Aston Villa and Hertha Berlin, is now rumoured to be targeted by Sunderland. Of all the rumours so far, this to me seems most likely due to Steve Bruce’s relationship with Wenger. Djourou was loaned to Birmingham when he was boss and he also signed Wilson Palacios after recommendation by Wenger. How this will turn out remains to be seen though. The longer Senderos remains at Arsenal, the more likely he will see out his contract with us. And that could mean a second chance which I’m clamouring for.

Knowing Flamini in this situation make me laugh but feel sad at the same time. Soon I will be running a series of weekly posts on Arsenal players who have made mistakes leaving the club and no prizes for guessing who will be among these posts.

As we know, Melo is very close to signing for Juventus and should be officially unveiled as early as Monday. This is a disappointment but at the same time, if a player wishes to sign for a Juventus team in decline and not choose an Arsenal team in which he knows he is assured of playing also shows his own ambition. Since this deal is dead, I think we Gooners should just look forward to other options.

Lorik Cana, as I have mentioned extensively in my previous posts, is not technically gifted enough in my opinion to make an impact at Arsenal. Blaise Matuidi is a player I have not seen in action but he plays for St Etienne, a team whose striker Bafétimbi Gomis is the most famous player, and who ended the Ligue 1 seasonin 17th position. I am definitely not impressed with his credentials. If he is the only option then I think we can look internally for options. Inler is still being linked but I seriously feel he has lost the chnce to join Arsenal since he decided to stay at Udinese the last time we tried signing him. Wenger admitted to approaching him but he decided to stay till the end of the season and I think Wenger has already looked elsewhere and so we can forget about this one too.

Life was looking great a week ago with Melo seemingly a real possibility. I just hope Wenger can pull off a surprise somewhere. This is one position in which we cannot afford not to strengthen and I believe Wenger knows and understands that more than anyone. We will be observing the transfer news closely during this pre-season.

From tomorrow till end July, I will be writing about each position in the first team (including the bench) and who I think should be playing and how they can contribute to the team on the pitch. Please check back for more.

 

Should Emmanuel Eboue be exchanged for Felipe Melo? July 6, 2009

Filed under: Aaron Ramsey,Emmanuel Eboue,Jack Wilshere,Kieran Gibbs,Midfield,Transfer Rumours — Son of a Gunner @ 10:39 am

First, the Arsenal bite-sized news over the weekend:

Kieran Gibbs has become the latest Arsenal British kid to sign a new long-term contract. It does seem like Arsenal never had a problem with left-back, from when Nigel Winterburn (can I just add here that I had the honour of watching him score the equaliser against Liverpool at the Singapore National Stadium in the Caltex Cup all those years ago? Man, what a brilliant lob) retired, we had the likes of Silvinho, then Moneybag Cole, then we have the superb Clichy (who is better than moneybag in my humble opinion) and now we have Gibbs. Nelson Vivas was an unfortunate exception.

A lot have been made of how un-British Arsenal is these past few seasons but nothing has been said about how Arsenal is turning that around, especially with Ramsey (Welsh), Wilshere (English) and now Gibbs (English) signing long-term deals and these are 3 of the best young talents in Britain. Ramsey is a full international and there is no saying that Wilshere and Gibbs won’t be in the years to come. Looks like the Arsenal nay-sayers have to come up with something new. Ha!

Back to Kieran Gibbs, I just want to comment that he must be the find of the season for Arsenal. I first saw him against Internazionale in the Emirates Cup 2 years ago as a left midfielder and I thought he was exceptional against the current Italian champions. But never did I think that he would eventually be converted into a left-back, and with such great results – another Arsene vision. He was fantastic in Clichy’s absence and he only ever made one dreadful mistake against Manchester United which I think can happen to anyone. He also stopped a lot of certain goals on the line from corners. And he is only 19.

The main story over the weekend is Fiorentina’s official statement:
“The director [Corvino] points out that Arsenal FC are the only club that has come close to [Felipe Melo’s] release clause.

“Fiorentina, in turn, has proposed that the clubs reduce the amount of this clause by entering into negotiations the right back Eboue.”

This is the clearest indication that Arsenal is indeed trying to get Felipe Melo but in true Arsenal style, we never release any statement until a deal is struck. Previous rumours have linked Senderos in the exchange package to Fiorentina but the above official statement shows they are interested in Eboue instead.

This article by Football FanCast guest columnist Jimmy Gannon said there is divided opinion on Eboue among Gooners but the truth is there are more who wants to see him leave than not.

And I have to disagree with Gannon that Eboue is a player of grit and graft simply because if you have watched enough Arsenal games you will know that Eboue is technically very adept, but frustrate us not with his lack of skills (which isn’t true), but with his nonchalent attitute and playing style. He dives, and he doesn’t make an attempt to win the balls he lost and only protests to the referee. This kind of attitute won’t do. I can see why Wenger likes him. He is pacy and powerful with tons of skill in both feet, that is why he is wanted by other clubs. But, and i mean BUT, his attitute just isn’t spot on. As for jeering him, I will completely disagree with that as no matter what we have to stand behind one of our own as long as he is on the field. But one cannot disagree that maybe it’s time for us to see him go.

So if Fiorentina wants Eboue to make up the deal, I think we should go ahead with it. Although it remains to be seen if Arsene Wenger is willing to let Eboue go. He is a wonderful utility man to have but we have Ramsey who is equally versatile but much younger and with a better attitute.

The main man Felipe Melo has been silent so far until he revealed over the weekend:
“I can say that only God knows what my future holds if the club decides to sell me elsewhere.”

He speaks about how happy he is in Fiorentina but he has not ruled out a move should his club decide to sell him. I won’t be surprised if this deal works out but again I think it will drag despite Fiorentina’s interest in Eboue as both clubs will now try to work out and agree on how much Eboue is worth so as to activate Melo’s exisiting release clause and that will take time. Hopefully not longer than a fortnight as pre-season begins real soon.

If Melo does indeed join Arsenal, then I will say we are more ready than last season to challenge. Let’s hope we tie up the deals fast!