Swiss Steel, Russian Roulette, Dutch Courage & More Transfer Chat

The World Cup fallout continued with Laurent Blanc suspending the entire French squad for one match – a meaningless gesture since the fixture in question was a meaningless friendly against Norway – which helps Arsene to a degree as he knows that three of his players are not in danger of being crocked before the visit to Liverpool. Were there to be rests given to a few others then the week before Anfield might not be as pointless as it was originally conceived.

Johan Djourou has decided that aggression is the answer and is looking forward to being the ‘daddy’ of the team. Quickly hiding the pool ball in the football sock behind his back:

I thought that we were looking quite solid. But it is true that 41 goals is too much when you are playing for the top places. I think sometimes we are missing a bit of aggression. It is not that we are not good enough, because the team is good enough. We have top players at the back, top players all over the pitch. It is just that we have to be stronger as a unit.

As much as finding a new centre back is a priority for Wenger – William Gallas seems set for Celtic now – it the cohesion between the back four and midfield that needs resolving as well. Whilst the back four held a good line in the early part of the season, injuries began to impact upon that and at times, the straight line was more twisted than a corkscrew towards April and May.

I am not suggesting that Wenger adopt the extreme measures of George Graham by tieing everyone together with a rope but there is scope for a leader in the back four. This season, I think it will be Vermaelen who deferred to Gallas and Campbell to a certain extent last year. He did not need to for he adapted quickly to the English game; now he can assert himself irrespective of his defensive partner.

Djourou is almost back at square one, twelve months on from his injury:

Now it is time to step up and start. I will always say that but now I am mature enough. We will have to see with the injury because when you have it for so long it is difficult to come straight back into things. But I played 90 minutes against Strum Graz and it went well. I have to get other games under my belt and hopefully I will be ready.

How quickly that chance will arise depends on the transfer market activity undertaken by his manager. If a new centre back does not arrive before the start of the season, Djourou would probably be in the Pole position to partner Vermaelen, physically more ready for the English game than Koscielny appears to be. Concerns have been raised about his build but there were criticisms of Vermaelen’s height which proved to be wide of the mark.

English football is obsessed with a neanderthal being at the heart of the defence yet height is no guarantee of being good in the air, see Peter Crouch’s career for proof of that. It seems that Wenger though is after a little more experience than can currently be offered, Everton apparently willing to discuss terms over Phil Jagielka or not, depending on which news outlet you read / believe.

The goalkeeping conundrum is full of near misses at the moment. David James will not be the experienced gap-filler that Mark Schwarzer appears to be and Igor Akinfeev wants to move to Arsenal or Manchester United. Or quite possibly anywhere should a suitable offer be received by his current employers although he prefers London as an abode as it is in his DNA. Maarten Stekelenberg at £4m represents a better deal than Schwarzer at the same price but is hard to conceive that Ajax would put such a low value on their goalkeeper, especially after a decent World Cup by the goalkeeping standards on show in South Africa. Further up the pitch, The Sunday Times reports that Mesut Ozil is available for £10m and wants to come to Arsenal or Manchester United as Barcelona and Real Madrid are doing their shopping elsewhere…

Backhanded confirmation that Cesc is staying emerged from Barcelona – or tacit acknowledgment that the Catalans won’t be able to muster the funds to buy him – in the form of Iniesta’s comments:

He is a special player and I hope he wins the title at Arsenal this season. For them to win Cesc will have to stay fit and injury-free but he deserves to finish with a title.

Apparently the Arsenal supporters are close to his heart which seems to be more important than any make-up of his DNA. However, Cesc is going to have a very short conversation with Wenger this week in London – shame the manager will be in Austria for a lot of it – about a move to Barcelona. I doubt Wenger will be too chuffed with the notion of his star player doing a daily commute of a couple of thousand miles but if it keeps him happy…

’til Tomorrow.

Posted on July 25, 2010, in Arsenal, Football, Premier League, Premiership, Soccer, Transfer Gossip and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 73 Comments.

  1. first 😀 .. and nice post

  2. Second gun

  3. bigbrovar-

    you didn’t read YW’s post before you posted, c’mon! I know you’ve been knocked for your hunger to claim first spot, but don’t worsen it by pretending you read YW’s post first! I’m sure you went back to it after you claimed top spot, but let’s be honest here….

    By the way, nice post, YW…

  4. YW-one mistake though. While we do get to avoid injuries to Sagna, Clichy and Diaby, what’s the likelihood of a few more players from the squad getting called up in their place?

    I can see Nasri, Koscielny and maybe even Traore being called up, so maybe it’s not such great news after all…

    As for Koscielny, I think he’s going to be groomed for at least the first year and was not signed to be Vermaelen’s first-choice partner. If the stories from last season are true, we might not even have signed him if we had picked up Smalling to be one of our 4 CBs.

    This still feels better for us, though. Koscielny can back-up Vermaelen and Djourou (who at 23 could still be our long-term answer alongside Vermaelen) will fit this season behind our much-anticipated new first-choice partner for TV.

  5. LAG

    They were the one’s I’d hope would get the rest as well…


  6. Stekelenberg for 4 mil? Ozil for 10 mil? Is there some kind of sale going on in the transfer market?

  7. Seems too cheap to be true. Fecking bargains…

  8. Perhaps Arsene has been out in the night and put diversion signs up for other clubs, forcing them to Harrods whilst he sneaked into Poundland for his shopping this summer…

  9. YW

    and there I was slamming BB for not reading your posts carefully enough…

    On the subject of the French team, it’s interesting to note how far Flamini’s profile has fallen based on the below article:

    This is on top of him being rumoured to be lined up by Newcastle and A.Villa for a 5 million transfer. Still for 5 million, he would be a tempting signing…

  10. Players are cheaper the closer they get to the end of their contracts. It’s also pretty clear that Oezil’s not that keen on staying at Werder. Meanwhile Stekelenburg’s never been all that highly-rated.

    We’d only go in for Oezil if we sold Cesc. Stekelenburg’s sort of meh.

  11. good stuff.

    i hope we sign a stop-gap goalie in his 30s so as not to block the way for ‘chesney’ for toooo long.

  12. It’s also a sign of the harsh financial times. Other than man c no one is really spending. Ozil might find that staying put is his best option at the moment.

  13. Flint McCullough

    “I think sometimes we are missing a bit of aggression”

    Djourou appears to be addressing himself as much as anyone else. He is 2 years behind where he should be & that bit of extra toughness is the ingredient he needs to become the real top top player that he has the potential to be.

    I am really looking for him to step up this season.

  14. Wenger needs to be a bit more open! Tell us if he will buy……this crap of we are in the market lookin – shit main!!!……he will buy no ONE

  15. Oh and I have no idea what a hypothetical contract is. Cesc should be wary – it sounds like a scam.

  16. Someone help Lasylays on with his coat please. Yep that’s the one, laces up at the back.

  17. I don’t think that Stelkenberg had a great world cup, it was the Dutch defence which was outstanding, but I guess since the “save” of the World Cup was made by a striker its difficult to be too critical, but I think we can do better. A keeper was fairly impressed with was the Swiss guy always seemed to have things under control, a bit of an iceman, like the Verminator.

  18. @Lagooner u are right am so sorry 😦

  19. The player’s sale is due to the fact that only Man shitty would pay over inflated price for players but now that they have 37 players for a 25 man team tells every club they won’t see some petrodollar this year. Ozil for 10 mill could be a good buy and the Skentelenburg price seems much better bargain than for good old retiring Schwarzer.

    Iniesta makes me laugh so much, in definitive he is saying that Barca are too kind to leave us cesc one more year so that us fans can enjoy him one more year and so that cesc can leave with a trophy in the bag. What he don’t realise is that if we bag the EPL or CL, cesc’s price will go to the roof and skint barca will struggle even more to find enough pesetas in the sofa to pay the 80-100 Million cesc will then cost.

    I really think Djourou can be a hit this year, he is good, has all the qualities needed and Wenger trust him! Last year Wenger told him I’m selling Toure but not buying anyone coz you are ready.

  20. Dont be hysteric Lasylays. That will help none.

  21. Flint,

    I agree wholeheartedly. Djourou is a player who seems to have all the physical attributes to become a top class centre back. Tall with natural athleticism. If he can overcome a checkered fitness record and get the mental aspects of his game right he could be a belated return on our youth set-up.

    His pace and mobility could make him a perfect foil, to Vermaelen’s controlled aggression and defensive anticipation. With Vermaelen stepping up to the role of leader of the back line, our side could healthily develop despite the loss of some experienced heads.

    Interestingly, it would seem Arsene’s business is not done but I am very hopeful that our current stock is very close to wrestling some silverware to the Emirates. By aggression, we are not just referring attitude and intent on the pitch, but the mental belief the squad is ready.

  22. We should have a serious go at signing Akinfeev.

    Its kind of funny, how even when Barcelona are acknowledging Cesc is an Arsenal player and praise Arsenal, it is with great condescension and arrogance.

    Patronisingly wanting Arsenal to win the title, for Cesc’s last year. Give me a break.

    Gracias, but no gracias.

  23. Having said that, I hope we do win the title. For Cease, and for everyone.

  24. sell cesc, rosicky and fabainski for 52 million.

    Buy ozil, melo, Akinfeev, Mertesacker for same money.

    GK akinfeev, malmunia,mannone, szczesny
    DF Vermaelen, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Djorou, Clichy, Sagna, Gibbs, Eboue, Nordveit
    MF Song, Melo, Diaby, Nasri, Arshavin, Ozil, Denilson, Walcott, Ramsey, Eastmond. Wilshere,
    CF Van Persie, Camakh, Bendtner, Vela

  25. How many people read beyond “sell cesc, rosicky…” be honest, now.

  26. I did read his recommendations. But thats as far as I went.

  27. Gunnerluc- Dont read too much into that figure quoted by sky about the size of Man City’s squad. Yes there is 38 (now 39 with the signing of Kolarov) but quite a few of these are u21 so do not count. In fact they have 19 foreigners and 14 home grown. The maximum amount of foreigners you can have is 17, they have already loaned out one of their keepers, meaning that they need to off load at least one foreigner (jo, caceido or etuhu looking favourite if not all 3) The big cull will be the home grown players but even then if the 3 above leave either on loan or sold, they will only need to sell 4 of their 14 home grown players (Vidal, Logan, SWP & Bellamy) would be all they would need to shift, unless of course they sign Milner in which case Stephen Ireland or Nedem Onuhoa could make way

  28. Rosicky & Fabianski plus £10m for Honda & Akinfeev i would have some of that! (That £10m is the Dudu cash and the £4m we are about to waste on Schwarzer)

    Why not buy Ozil and loan him a back for a season, that is basically what Barcloanya will propose with Cesc

  29. Don’t you just hate personal recommendations..

  30. I don’t understand why would people want to sell Rosicky when he is finally looking like he regained his pre injury form.

  31. @ steww at 10:27am

    ha ha ha! Laughed my head off!


    The 38 all count for the reason that they’ll all want/need to play. And Man C aren’t even in the Champions League so they won’t be playing as many games as the top sides.

  32. @ gunnerluc

    Agree. We’ve nursed him through the worst, why not reap the rewards. And he’s finally got a decent haircut as well. We’re keeping Little Mozart.

  33. FunGunner,

    Man City are in the Europa League. They will have a lot of matches to play. More than clubs playing in the Champions League

  34. I think she was talking about games that the players actually want to play in. Just kidding.

    Can’t think why anyone would want to get rid of Rosicky. I thought lack of experience was meant to be one of the problems with this squad.

    I like Honda and Oezil, but they’re definitely not the kind of players we need at the moment.

  35. Actually, to be honest, I had completely forgotten about the Europa League.

    But thanks for offering me some cover, OOU!

  36. And talking about the kind of players we need, is it just rumour about Campbell staying, or is there a bit of substance behind it?

  37. John Cross reported it, Fungunner

  38. How much Man City has spent so far? I am too lazy to do the arithmetic. But it is a stupendous amount. 38 players, more than half of whom are midfielders.
    Sounds like SUGA, Joe, bc and Lasylays are doing the advising. Seriously.
    Honestly, isn’t this a stupid and unsustainable way to run a club. Throwing petro-dollars at every over-hyped mercenary in the transfer market. It is not only the transfer fees but the fantastic wages.
    In contrast we make one or two purchases a year while we slowly integrate the youths from the. It is pathetic that so many fans and stupid bloggers are infected by junk economics that pervades English football. Clubs are going into administration left right and center because they are indebted up to their eyeballs by spending way above their means.
    Right in front their eyes is a genius nurturing a youth policy that will make us perennial champions in years to come. Yet we continue to to believe that if we don’t spend, we can’t win.
    If you doubt me take a look at JET, one more on the conveyor belt:

  39. change ur blog pic, dudu is gone…

  40. critic, how about a decent mourning period in respect for the player before consigning him to the cyber-dustbin? It’s not like he left under a cloud.


    This Ye Olde Transfer Saga, it sure is getting nasty (according to the ever reliable John Cross).

  42. No harm in Iniesta hoping that Cesc gets a league-winner’s medal in his last season for Arsenal – provided that he’s happy to enjoy watching him getting a league-winner’s medal in all the seasons between now and then.

  43. I think AW is done buying. The irony is that Oezil would be a good buy…for next year.

  44. The prospect of Djourou and Vermaelen partnering in central defence is an exciting one. Koscielny also seems to offer a viable alternative to our defensive options in the same way that Chamakh has declared that he’s happy to play Wengerball, but if needed, he can also play ugly.

    Buying new players who compliment what we already have will always provide options to improve the squad, but the key thing is that the team has to continue building on the collective effort over the last few years.
    I get the sense that Djourou’s sentiment is widely shared within the squad who must be tired of being considered the also-rans and ‘nearly’ men who get condesendingly dismissed with that “they’re lightweight” nonsense and they can’t hack it.

    I think the team’s biggest challenge this season will be to maintain consistency as a solid unit as opposed to the notion that we will guarantee success by having wholesale personnel changes.

    Regardless of who else is added to our defensive setup, I think a partnership of Djourou and Vermaelen deserves some good mileage.

  45. hey DS quite a while… does stone cold Friday return with the season?

  46. Team Spirit. Good to be back.

    Stone Cold Friday will be back for the next season from the Friday before the prem.

  47. Hey darius – I have been amazed by how few people realise that in Johan Djourou we could have the answer already. Maybe I’m wrong – I certainly don’t know enough about pro footy players to say for sure. Arsene may think we need someone even more experienced but with his time at Arsenal and internationally with the Swiss I think he’s ready.
    Height, composure, speed, strength, experience, schooled in the Wenger way – oh and TV5 next to him. What have I missed?

  48. Djourou looked sharp the few times he could play at the back-end of the last season and maybe you are right. Maybe he is the answer to the CB problem. He would even fit SUGA3s standards!!

    Anyway, if Campbell stays I think we have sufficient depth at CB. TV5, Djourou, Koscielny, Campbell, Nordtveit + Song, who can play there. That is five natural CBs. No top team would have more back up.

  49. Steww, my thinking is that Wenger is looking at it from a squad capacity point of view. We will be playing over 60 games challenging on all fronts and in previous seasons, we’ve gone in with inadequate resources to cover for injury, suspensions or fatigue.

    If you look at the 2 pre-season games we’ve played, Wenger has been rotating Vermaelen-Koscielny, Vermaelen-Djourou and Djourou-Koscielny – and it’s been interesting to see their respective chemistries.

    I don’t think you can gauge much from the amount of pitch time they’ve got together yet – maybe by the end of the Emirates cup next weekend you will be able to see how they compliment each other better with quality opposition from Milan and Lyon.

    Wenger has said he still wants another defender to double up across the back with Eboue-Sagna at the right, Clichy-Gibbs out left and another signing to join Djourou, Vermaelen and Koscielny in the middle – which I think actually makes sense.

    I think a lot of people are still so disillusioned from the anti-climax of last season, there’s a feeling that a top notch signing or a big money signing is the only answer. I mean, people didn’t even give Vermaelen a chance because he cost £10m and yet he turned out to be the signing of the season in the entire EPL. Koscielny is not being given a chance because he is not a familiar face and name. Djourou is still being over-looked because he has had injury issues and has been in the shadows when fit.

    But our main problem if we’re to be honest was the lack of consisstency in executing a viable defensive strategy. The team didn’t defend well enough as a unit, and lost focus in pressing the ball better. During those transitions when we lost the ball, we also lost defensive discipline, hence the devastating counter attacks.

    I’m not too sure how much that will be resolved by changing personnel as opposed to good old fashioned training and drilling to make us a more solid unit.

  50. EvilFiek.

    I forgot about our elderly statesman Mr. Campbell. I actually think his most valuable contribution will be in the dressing room and with keeping the team spirit and mental fortitude in check. Occasionally, he will be required to graft for us on the pitch, but having solid defensive options augmented by Sol Campbell’s experience and wisdom is certinly worth a £30K a week contract to Sol.

    I would even go as far as suggesting Wenger should perhaps offer him a player/coach role to help with drilling defensive discipline and fortitude to those young men.

  51. nice! 🙂
    do check up on my blogs at call this “shameless self-publicity” 😛

  52. “I think a lot of people are still so disillusioned from the anti-climax of last season, there’s a feeling that a top notch signing or a big money signing is the only answer.”

    I think you’re right Darius. There seems to be a lot of pessimism around the blogosphere and when Arsene passes up Akinfeev’s ‘come and get me plea’ it will only get worse. The clamour for a new goal keeper is becoming deafening and there seem to be very few prepared to give Almunia and Fabianski another chance.

  53. okay DS… welcome home LOL

    i defo think JD is ready to step up… its not like he hasn’t played in the first rem before his injury worries before now and except he is not fully over them then with those stepping up from among the youths, i think we are covered, but if we get that pier guy along with phil lahn i will be happy cos i think they are great players and can only add to us!

  54. Passenal i just happy its AW in charge and not some of the blog writers.

    What the fulham guy adds to us i am yet to see… by very simple maths, he conceded more goals than arsenal last season, so how does that translates to us conceding less with him?

    They should leave Almunia alone.. i believe he will get back to his form of the seasons before last

  55. I guess what he brings Team Spirit is PL experience. He knows how to play against the Blackburn’s, Stoke’s etc of this league. He is also old enough that he would not kill the chances of the younger goal keepers we have whilst giving genuine competition for the number 1 spot. Almunia had his best season when he had Jens breathing down his neck. Last season he had no real competition and even played through injury because of it, which may have contributed to some of the errors. Also if the rumours about a coaching role are true, it would be good to have someone with top level experience in that role.

  56. I am rather in favour of keeping Al and Fab. This is going to be our 3rd new CD pairing in the last couple of years. Gallas – Kolo, Gallas – Varmaelen and now Varmaelen – ? This is not good for developing a good understanding between the gk and the defenders and a new keeper will only worsen it, I fear. I think it is no surprize that Almunia’s last decent season was when he had two experienced and long term CBs playing infront of him.

  57. Passenal – I expect collect mass suicide at the beginning of next season when Manuel Almunia takes the field with the gloves on. If it happens, i.e the mass suicides, it won’t be such a bad thing as we would have gotten rid of a large mass of mindless hysterical bloggers who have given their collective wisdom to the idea that Big Al was the beginning and end of all Arsenal’s defensive failings last season. But I for one don’t see AW changing his strategic approach to the goal-keeping role. Al holds the job until one of the kids eventually takeover. In fact I expect something like what happened to Mad Jens; Al must prove he is number one at the beginning of the season. If he screws up he will be relegated to no. 2.

  58. You’re probably right shotta, as long as they don’t start with any lame ‘protests’ at the Emirates or further undermining of the goal keepers confidence with jeers etc. They may not be perfect, but then no goal keeper is as we saw at the WC. Defending and preventing goals is a whole team responsibility.

  59. Passenal, Shotta, tan, Team Spirit – together you make the argument for Almunia to retain the No.1 spot very well. I agree. If a new keeper is not forthcoming of course it’s not the end of the world. Almunia is a fine keeper who had a difficult season.

    However, with so much detail behind the Schwarzer story, and it being carried now by the Times, who at least have some measure of credibility left… coupled with the same paper reporting that City dismissed an enquiry from Arsenal for Joe Hart earlier in the summer… and it starts to look more and more ominous for Big Al. We do seem to be out there and ‘active’ as AW says.

    We shall see, but if we’re making ripples like that, I’d say it’s only a matter of time before we have an offer accepted on one of our targets.

    Yes there’s a dirth of ‘World Class’ *cringes at the cliche* keepers about… but if your requisite is a Schwarzer-style veteran to act as temporary steward – or at least give Manuel some bona fide competition… then the pool does get a little larger.

    Jussi Jääskeläinen has always been a Premiership favourite of mine (at the risk of sounding like a broken record)… but maybe he’s too important to Bolton.

    Akinfeev’s come-get-me is the latest in a tediously long line but it’s an exciting thought to my mind nevertheless.

    Obviously if the right player isn’t available for the right price, then that’s that. But to me the signs say we’re out there looking, and I’d back us to make something happen by September 1st.

  60. I agree LA, it does seem like we are ‘active’ on the market. Whether Almunia would stick around and deal with the competition remains to be seen though. My only concern is the effect of so many changes in defence, which is probably why Arsene is looking at a GK with PL experience in order to minimise any settling-in period required. I can’t see Akinfeev fresh from the Russian league being the right choice though.

  61. I know nothing about this guy and and not advocating a transfer just yet but with a record like this at 24 he will surely hold his value should we want to sell him in 2-3 years time (not great logic for buying him I know…). And 3 years in football is a bloody long time, about 765 dog years.

    — 3x Russian Premier League Winner (+2x Second place)
    — 4x Russian Cup winner
    — 4x Russian SuperCup
    — Euro 08 Bronze Winner
    — UEFA Cup winner 2005 (Best Eurocup goalkeeper 04-05, beating DUDEK on second place)
    — 5x Times Russian Goalkeepr of the year (Lev Yashin Award)
    –2x Champions League Quarterfinilist
    –Youngest Russian player ever get in the National Team (18 years old and 2O days in 2004)
    –No1. Goalkeeper Captain of CSKA since he is 17

  62. But does he speak English word?

  63. one of many question marks that an incorrect answer too would probably nip any advances in the bud… it is a very impressive record however so thought I would share.

    I would add however that players moving from the tougher northern european and eastern block countries would probably not need so much time to adapt to premiership life. He is obviously mentally strong so I’m not sure if that would be the problem here.

  64. I think the language issue could be a big problem word. Communication within the defence is paramount.

  65. where’s been everybody today??just done reading the comments,now off to bed..

  66. by the way i’m with you on that one passenal.language could be an obstacle to a good defensive understanding.lets stick with almunia and if we dont get mettersacka (spelling) or maybe jagielka,djourou would be great imo.

  67. Just read the full Akinfeev quote. He is basically whoring himself to only the two top clubs in the world that have a goalkeeping problem. He says no to Juve, but I guess that’s just because they have Buffon. Am I being cynical? Perhaps. He is a top keeper though, absolutely no doubt about that….

  68. Göteborg Gunner

    Impressive record also means a high transfer fee and bigger wages. Agree re the language problem he might have.

    Yes tan you’re probably right.

    I would be gald if he comes but I won’t mind Almunia either. I don’t know why I can’t see him as a bad goalkeeper when almost everyone else does. And since almost everyone has established already that Almunia is pants, if he is played he will always be under huge microscopes.

  69. thank you for that

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