Houston we have a problem: Flamini and Hleb clear lockers

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So without much to talk about in the world of Arsenal, I thought I’d have a look at the worst case scenario for us this summer.

There has been talk of Ade leaving, but I think that is a load of old tosh. Ade has catapulted himself onto the wanted list of most major European clubs this summer and his agent knows this.

Chapter 1 in the ‘Beginners guide to becoming an Agent‘ is titled:

1.0. Why earn less, when you can earn more?

So lets not get our knickers in a twist over this minor problem because at the end of the day, if somone offers you 20k more a year in your current job, you’re not staying loyal to the manager who taught you how to do a pivot table in excel… right?

The problem we have at the moment is that someone is saying to Flamini, here is £20k a week more, oh, and here is another £2million to sweeten the deal. You have to say, that would be pretty hard to turn down. I have faith he will stay, but I had faith that Henry, Paddy, Overmars, Petit and Anelka would stay. I think they call it blind faith or something?

The Hleb deal is also interesting because he has the option of buying himself out of his own contract and getting a signing on fee. Again, I have faith, but lets just say both are greedy bastards and decide to make way.

So what will we be losing?

Flamini is a good player. I like to think of him as Ray Parlour on red bull. He averages 18 miles a game, and rumour has it he runs home instead of getting on the team coach. He has bundles of passion, bundles of drive and he is just about to reach his prime. Since his introduction into the midfield, Cesc has been given more freedom to roam and Arsenal’s attacks have been able to move forward quicker.

He is good, but he is not world class (Yet).

Hleb is a great dribbler of the ball, I like to think of him as Messi with no product. When Messi was running about like a headless chicken the other night I couldn’t help but think of Hleb. The things the man can do with the ball amaze me, he brings Cesc into the game, he pulls defenders out of position and I would say he is just as responsible for the team ticking as Fab4.

Like I said though, he has no end product. No shot and minimal assists. This cannot be over looked, he is there to produce, not look pretty and make the purists go, ‘Wow, he is soooo technically gifted’.

So what are the options from within if both leave?

Flamini internal promotion candidates

Diaby: Patrick Vieira’s younger brother and illegitimate love child of Will Smith. He has been played predominantly out wide this season despite preferring a central role. He is immensely skilful, but a bit tackle shy. He has an eye for the odd spectacular goal, but he also has an eye for a shockingly inaccurate 3 yard pass. Is he good enough to takeover that CM birth? Maybe… but I wouldn’t bet my house on him being a success.

Gilberto: I love him for his loyalty and commitment on the pitch. He is a model professional but some would say he is past it. I wouldn’t agree with them, I think he has a lot to offer the team and his recent form has proved that he doesn’t need to start drawing a pension just yet. There is life in those legs, the question is… is it a step backwards considering our finishing position last year?

Denilson: I don’t get Denilson. He plays some lovely passes, he is quick and does like to stick the boot in every now and then. For me, he has had a bad case of ‘secondseasonitis’. He hasn’t really offered the team that much this year… bar a cracking goal against Newcastle in the Carling Cup and RvP some company in the physio room. He is very light weight for a stocky chap so I think I would rule him out as a candidate.

Hleb internal promotion candidates

Walcott: Theo loves to play down the middle, but with competition stiff up front – a place out wide in the Hleb role could be the only way to secure a starting birth next year. He is fast, he is starting to develop some tricks and he is gaining more confidence with his shooting. I don’t know what you guys think, but I’ve noticed lately that he is trying to thread his passes through the eye of a needle… just like Hleb does. Is Theo impersonating Hleb… to become HLEB! No… because Theo had a shot the other night. A good option though.

Vela: What… the greatest player since God put on a pair of football boots? Oh yes, King of Osasuna… President of Potential… Duke of Youtube…! CARLOS VELA! He did well against Madrid didn’t he? He even has his own blog… how much do I know about him? Zero. Could he be played out on the wing next year? Probably! Would he be good? Maybe… Did I say he played well against Real Madrid? Screw it… he is going to be a sensation! Problem solved!

RvP: Contentious call… but, he does play out wide for Holland and he does a bloody marvellous job too. He could still take all the freekicks, he could score goals from midfield and he could allow us to have a little and large partnership up front (Ade + Eddie, Theo, Vela…). Could he be the perfect solution? I think so… will that happen? Doubtful… he is never fit!

Who could we bring in from outside?

I have no idea! I’ll give you 3 names for each to chew on though:

Flamini replacement:

  • Diarra (Madrid)
  • Veloso (Sporting)
  • Gattuso (Milan)

Hleb replacement:

  • Elano (Man City)
  • Arfa (Lyon)
  • Robinho (Madrid)

I know there will be a minority of people who will come on and moan about the Championship manager type suggestions, but to them I say,

‘Go and blog on Arsenal.com…’

You’ll never get an ounce of transfer speculation over there.

I like talking about potential transfer targets, as do all the Grovers.

So, I have given you 12 names to run the rule over. It’s the age old battle of internal vs external recruitment and Arsene Wenger is going to let you make the decision for him in the comments section.

I hope you have enough to talk about!

Happy blogging Grovers!

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Arfa, Robinho, Barry, Henry and a centre back – pick 2 from these.

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I really believe we will add to the squad, but it won’t be by much, Flamini is key to who he buys and I think if he goes, Barry will join. Robinho or Ben Arfa will come in on the wing and now Barca are out of Europe, Henry’s chances of an emotional return have rocketed, he will though look for an experienced centre back to bring in whilst the kids develop. I can’t see Senderos or Eboue going and I think we’ll hang on to Gilberto until Denilson develops.

Hleb will stay but Lehmann will seek pastures new.

The additions will come from the reserves, who I don’t know, but he really believes in his kids.

We can still win the league, but only if the other two collapse, 2 draws should do it but don’t get your hopes up.

I think he’ll make his signings the week after the Sunderland game and I think he’s been sounding them out already, well that’s what I would do, but with Arsene, who knows? …he does right!

We need a winger for sure, Rosicky can’t be relied upon, if Eduardo comes back early, he won’t sign a forward, with Bendtner and Ade showing signs of being the strikers we can rely on I can’t see him going for Benzema or Villa and that’s why I could see Henry coming home, a bit of experience to help them along.

We do need Adams back though, a defensive coach is what we’ve been lacking and if we can shut up shop at the back, and then we will win the quadruple next season…

Interesting that we had no chavs in the EPL team of the season, and more Arsenal players than from any other club, it shows that we’re not that far off, even if we don’t believe it ourselves sometimes.

There, now I can’t be more positive than that can I?

Good day yesterday Grovers and welcome aboard several new commenter’s, sorry it takes so long to approve sometimes, it’s the system, not us.

Let’s wish the cheating scousers luck over the cheating chavs tonight, they always have the refs on their side so maybe tonight as well eh?


Writing on the wall for 2? – Theo and Cesc at war – Kaka on the cheap?

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That’s how excited I was about this potential bore fest… I noted that Cesc was sporting a new hair cut with some super trim sidey’s… but not to be outdone… Theo has gone pure mutton chop! Seriously Theo, you actually look like you could pass for 15! Excellent news!

So the only shock regarding the line up was that Eboue managed to worm his way into the side! Arsene wont give up on him will he…


Toure Gallas Song Clichy

Eboue Cesc Denilson Walcott

RvP Nikki B

Does anyone think it’s over for Big Phil? Dropped, even for a reserve game and in place of a defensive midfielder. I think Liverpool was the final straw for Arsene and as much as I have defended Big Phil in the past… I think a move could do him good.

There were many goals, so I can’t really go through the whole game… Here are the key points.

The first goal came from Nikki B intercepting a bad pass from Issac Hayes (Stick to soul and South Park my friend), he laid it off to Robin… who slotted it back through to Nikki B who cooly finished. How many of you were waiting to see who would hug him? Well, you’ll be pleased to know everyone did! No surprise Theo was in the huddle… he’d hug anyone, he is such a brown noser.

Did you spot him at centre back?

Derby then managed to claw one back from a set piece. A cross was whipped in from the left, the keeper stayed rooted, song jumped feebly and Nikki B rose about 8 foot high but missed. How many times have I said before…


Oh well, you never felt a shock was on the cards. I did feel for the away fans though… the players looked distinctly uninterested.

Oh, Eboue tried a cross.

Next up, Clichy played a ball about 30 yards backwards to Kolo (I’ll admit I cursed his ball), then Kolo played a sublime chip into the path of RvP who held his line superbly (Take note Ade), took the ball down and rifled home in one slick motion. Great goal, Bergkampesque… but Grovers, there was a price to pay.

After 7 games uninjured, the footballing gods felt it was only fair that they take the boy wonder back… so they gave him a thigh strain. Do not curse the Gods, for they are just testing you (DeeOzGooner, you cursed him yesterday with your insistence on me removing him from Le List)…

Did I tell you Eboue, tried a shot?

So the second half started, and Adebayor came on. We started with a bit more purpose and pinged the ball about in 2nd gear fashion… it was embarrassing how poor Derby were.

Theo burst through the derby defence, held off a challenge, then cut it back to Eboue who tried his best to err… well I don’t know what he did, but he fell over and the ball sat up nicely next to Adebayor who slotted home! He looked mightily pleased with himself… Go Ade!

Then Clichy slotted a ball through and Eboue slid at it… ten minutes after it had whistled past him.

We carried on in much the same way as we normally do, squandering chance after chance… it was amazing how poor some of our finishing was, but we were never in any danger.

Then Derby broke football league rules by bringing on Earshaw, half man, half monster (If Ashley Cole interbred, his kids would all look like Earnshaw)… he unfairly used his monster powers to do what our talented players could not… have one chance… and score.

Some would call it world class finishing, some would say that most strikers only need one chance against Arsenal. The stupid dance was probably one of the most irritating things I have ever seen.

Stick to movies Mr Earnshaw…

Willy G, what the hell was up with that? You are supposed to be our best defender! You’d have never let a crap striker get past you like that at Chelsea. Could he be off if the captaincy shifts? He has been here 2 years, so surely he can buy out the last 2 years of his contract? Never say never…

Well we needn’t have worried, Bobby Pires picked up the ball, cut inside and rifled it into the top corner! GOALLLLLL! Theooooo, Theooooo, Theooooo! He really deserved that didn’t he? Blogger Geoff called me up especially to say that Theo played like Bobby tonight. The more I watch him, the more you realise half his problem is that he looks for the perfect pass all the time… if he’d just speed up his distribution he would be much more effective.

A special mention goes out to Nikki B, who I personally thought had a blinder. He was all over the park, his touch was superb and he loves to get everyone involved. I would be very sad to see him go this summer.

Goal 5, Clichy played Ade through… Ade belted home!

Queue the funniest thing I have seen all season… Ade and Eboue ripping the piss out of A-Lister Earnie’s annoying touchdown dance! How the hell did they do it in time so perfectly? It was Eboue’s best moment of the season! It was the funniest thing Ade has done since he last spoke in an interview! Classic.

Finally, Ade rounded off a solid nights performance by rounding the Derby keeper and slotting home!

Well played Arsenal… the least exciting 6-2 win in history, but who cares! Our goal difference is the second best in the league!

So in conclusion.

We need a 25 goal a season striker… oh wait, we have one! So what if he has scored 24% of his goals against Derby! We have Nikki B and Theo who look good prospects for next year. I don’t think we need bolstering up front, unless of course Arsene can find a decent thigh on the black market this summer… RvP’s has clearly had it.

Fabianski looked weak in goal, being nervous against Derby is like being nervous about taking a penalty with no one in goal… he’ll have to improve if he wants to give the ever reliable Almunia a run for his money next year.

The Midfield looks ok, we are short a decent winger… Eboue is a good dancer, but as a footballer he falls short in many areas.

I think if we need strengthening anywhere it is in defence. Will Big Phil go? Will Willy G go? Who knows… all we know as fans is that Gallas has been shown up a few times since his mental breakdown at Birmingham and Senderos is not going to cut it at the highest level.

Lets just hope the Flamster and Hlebinho sign up for another crack at the whip. We are more than likely going to finish the season 4 points off the top… it is not good enough, but its a marked improvement. If we win our last 2 we will be 15 points better off than last season… make a similar jump next year and we will be taking home some silverware…

So the season has been a disappointment, but at least we won’t be talking about the Spuds over taking us this summer… we are contenders again and hopefully Wenger realises where we need to strengthen this summer.

So here is my advice Arsene, bust out the cheque book Arsene and buy Kaka

“To get the books back in order it would be enough to sell Kaka for £55m.”


See you in the comments section!