Villa Preview & Rice Paper Talk
Aston Villa arrive at The Emirates, the final whistle signalling the end of the home campaign. For Arsène, following the events of recent weeks it is probably not soon enough.
He had some good news with Pat Rice staying on for another year. For the manager, it solves a problem. I’m sure that Wenger will find a welter of criticism in the decision if he bothers looks online. The theory will be that in retaining Rice’s services, the perceived stagnation in training is going to continue. That no-one can prove that exists is neither here nor there in this theory. It is inconvenient.
Elsewhere, Bayern Munich are turning into the new Barcelona, off the pitch at least. The Bavarians are now linked with Samir Nasri, at least with this story the transfer fee quoted is realistic being £25m. The Frenchman would be in comfortable surroundings, joined by Gael Clichy, Nicklas Bendtner and Bacary Sagna if this season’s transfer gossip all came true.
Other gossip this morning links Andrey Arshavin with a move to Chelsea. Apparently Roman Abramovich has set aside a transfer pot of £80m for Ancelotti (or whomever is in charge) with £12m going on his compatriot. This is apparently a big fee, representing a mere £6m loss on the signing for Arsenal.
This brings the current total of Arsenal’s net spend this summer down to £90m.
Onto this afternoon. I find the final home match of any season an occasion tinged with sadness, the signal that a long football-less summer is imminent. This time, in part it is a respite from the bitterness into which the last month has descended.
For Villa, it is a dead rubber. Yesterday’s results and next week’s meeting between Wolves and Blackburn mean that they cannot be relegated. Sadly it seems that Blackpool will be slipping through the trapdoor as a victory at Old Trafford seems highly unlikely.
Having lost Burnley last season, Premier League survival is not going to happen for footballing sides. Birmingham and Wolves have pumped the ball effectively in recent weeks to put survival in their own hands. It’s not good for football in this country if promoted sides believe that the only way to survive is to ‘mix it’. West Ham and Wigan going will further serve to emphasise this point.
For Arsenal, second place is still achievable. To do so, they need to win by big margins against Villa and Fulham whilst hoping that Chelsea suffer a dip in form today and at Everton on the last day of the season. All the while, Manchester City are lurking. If a lack of focus is evident, the tour of the Far East is going to be followed by entry into the qualifying round of the Champions League.
Thomas Vermaelen is the talk of the team, Laurent Koscielny’s absence making his start a certainty. The Belgian has been missed this season, his experience might have made a difference at St James’ Park or White Hart Lane. He might not, Arsenal were not rock solid at the back last season either.
He is welcome though as it gives competition for places and at this moment in time, Vermaelen is the best centre back at the club. He might be joined by a new face this summer as Arsène has confirmed he will be buying in the transfer window.
Samir Nasri and Cesc face fitness tests which leaves the line-up in doubt but my guess is,
Szczesny; Sagna, Djourou, Vermaelen, Clichy; Fabregas (Ramsey), Song, Wilshere; Walcott, van Persie, Nasri (Arshavin)
A win is essential, a repeat of the performance against Stoke is unacceptable and would tarnish the efforts of this season even more than recent weeks have done. To finish with a kick in the club’s step would make the long summer somewhat more bearable. Quick and decisive action in the transfer market would be a more emphatic statement of intent.
Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it. ’til Tomorrow.
Posted on May 15, 2011, in Arsenal, Football, Premier League, Premiership, Soccer, Transfer Gossip and tagged Arsenal, Football, Premier League, Soccer, Transfer Gossip. Bookmark the permalink. 321 Comments.