Nasri nearing exit | The real reason Cesc is staying at home | Udinese vs Arsenal…

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Well hello there fans of football finery. Today, we have much rumour and counter rumour to speak of. We’re at the end of yet another listless Arsenal week and some interesting stories with no substance have been cropping up all over the place.

Firstly though, let’s get straight into the major story and that was the one about our punishment from the footballing over lords for our embarrassing end of season collapse. Much in the same way they condemned us for losing our last three Champions League groups with a last 16 draw against Barcelona, they’ve offered us a similarly hard path into the group stages this season by pairing us up against Udinese, the Italian surprise package of last season.

On the face of it, I’m not worried. Personal opinion is that I’d much prefer to be playing a team of note. That means we’ll turn up, concentrate and give a good account of ourselves. I know we’ve been notorious for dropping our pants in the big games over the past few seasons, but let’s not kid ourselves that Udinese are any sort of powerhouse here. In fact, let’s not kid ourselves that Italian football is anywhere near what it used to be. We’ve taken out Milan and Roma over the past few seasons. Spurs gave a good account of themselves against Inter Milan last season.

The Italians have cut loose a lot of top talent this summer. Alexis Sanchez has left for Barcelona, long-term Arsenal target Inler has left for Napoli and Zapata has found a new home at Villareal. A pretty poor summer by anyone’s standards. They still have World Cup flop Di Natale who has been the top scorer in Serie A over the past 2 seasons, but with a rock solid defence like ours, we needn’t worry!

I’m confident we’ll pass this test, if we don’t, we’re in big trouble on a whole host of levels.

The Cesc Fabregas story continues to rumble on, Barca bid a low, Arsenal tell them what the ‘buy it now’ price is, Barca go back to their fax and argue amongst themselves, leak a few stories and the process starts again. I said last week that £40million is what we’re looking for and Barca aren’t offering that at the moment… so Cesc stays. The fact he’s rejoined training tells you all you need to know about how confident he is at landing his move.

I don’t think Barca want Cesc this season, if they can land him on the cheap, he’ll arrive. If they can’t, it’s not problem, they’ve given someone else the number 4 and they’ve disrupted our season already. They like doing that to us because we keep pinching their young superstars.

I don’t mind what happens with Cesc as long as 1) We get a fair price for him 2) If he stays he’s not allowed the Captains armband 3) He isn’t given a way straight into the first team when he’s fit (much in the same way Rooney was punished last year).

He’s not on the flight over to Benfica. I know people are keen to point out that this is crazy but the contacts I’ve spoken to have said that he’s in no shape to play football at the moment. He’s had a week of preseason, the others have been going at it for 4 weeks. If you play an unfit player this late in the programme, they could pick up an injury.

It’s amazing how many people are on the imaginary injury band wagon now… no one was so keen when I pointed that out earlier in the summer.

The Samir Nasri story doing the rounds is that he had a massive argument with Wenger on a plane as was seen storming down the other end of the plane. Now, if Wenger dropped something he shouldn’t have in the tight confines of the plane, I can understand Sammy’s reaction. If however, they had an argument and Sammy stormed off down the end of the plane… where was he going, he’d have to come back at some point? A very Saved by the Bell reaction. Anyway… rumour has it, he and Wenger are not seeing eye to eye. Players clearly don’t hold the manager in the same regard as they used to, mainly because he’s not giving them the platform to succeed I’d imagine.

Benfica are up tonight, that should be interesting.

It should also be interesting to see if Wenger does have some good news for us next week on the signings front. He’s had another shocker due to his feet dragging ways. I can just imagine how the players feel. New players inject fresh enthusiasm into a camp. The players are watching as the team is taken apart by want-away players and no one has come in. That’s not good for morale and it’s not good for future summers. Next year, this is only going to get worse. Whichever way we look at it, Nasri and Cesc definitely won’t be here this time next year, plus, we’ll have Robin and Theo in their last year. You think they’ll sign up with riches and trophies on offer elsewhere?

I’d be surprised.

That’s why we should sign Mata this instant. Even if Cesc stays we need a player like him to raise morale and be in place should the worst happen. He’s a signing of intent and he shouldn’t be signed as a reaction to a sale. He should be signed to show the rest of the squad we mean business. If we did sign Jagielka and Cahill, again, those guys would be two major shows of strength and ambition. Currently, we’re miles away from competing for the league, if you think otherwise, look at our friend history, he’ll show you what happens when you don’t strengthen in the necessary places.

Here’s hoping for a swift resolution to the summer of hell…

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Fantasy Football…

That time of year has arrived again where we pedal a bit of Fantasy football! We have a £100 prize for the winner, which basically feels like I’m gifting myself and Geoff £50. The league comes with an app for your phone and it’s all very sophisticated! If you fancy your chances…

1. sign up the Metro Fantasy League HERE

2. The Join the below league, using the below pin!

League Name: Le Grove

League Pin: 4450

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Cesc goes through the motions | Stan is in town to do some deals!

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I’ve been asked a few times since yesterday what the Members day was like. It’s a bit difficult to explain because the weather really was torrential, but overall, I’d say the vibe was muted.

The players came out one by one to a name announcement last year, all very cringe worthy, all very NFL. However it was a noticeable ommission this year. Would this be to avoid a chorus of boos for certain want away players? Possibly…

The good news is that Cesc showed up (great pic), the bad news is he looked like he was going through the motions. Everyone gasped everytime he reached full speed during the shuttle rums, mindful his hamstring could blow at anytime taking squad members like Afobe out with shrapnel blows. Nik pulled his legs whiles he was stretching Our other want away star showed his face then scurried down the tunnel with permanent crock Theo.

Highlights of the day included seeing Chamakh having a shot. Nik B scoring a bloody screamer and looking pretty sharp… and watching Afobe demonstrate why he’s so highly rated.

The players finished off the rain soaked occasion by smashing balls into the crowd, rumour has it, Chamakh was told to aim his at the goal. My one groan would be the lack of player interaction. Fans took time out of their week to sit in a rain sodden ground for three hours and the only player who signed autographs was Cesc… For about ten minutes.

Why couldn’t the players spend an hour making a kids summer? It’s not like they’ve got anything else to do is it? It’d be a nice gesture and considering their salaries, not a particularly onerous one.

After is when the real action happened. I smashed 8 sandwiches and two segments of falafel wrap. How many drinks did I have? 2 coffees, 1 tea and a bottle of Arsenal branded water that tastes suspiciously like it’s been bottled at the Islington Park duck pond.

Silent Stan was there rocking a delightful shirt tie combo from Asda’s George range. The American was over for a board meeting, hopefully looking to guide the ship and maybe to sign off a few signings. Parlour and Keown were also on the pitch getting soaked chatting to Wenger about Eboue and his departure.

It was nice to mingle with some of the fans and bloggers after, it was fun for about 20 mins listening to Bob Wilson talk about his love of Seaman. It got a bit embarrassing when it was clear he was filling

Have a great day!

P.S. Matt Scott has put together an article in the Guardian (page 3!) today about football and social media, I’ve managed to land a few quotes if you’re interested. Being a professional Twitter Operator never felt so right!

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Fantasy Football…

That time of year has arrived again where we pedal a bit of Fantasy football! We have a £100 prize for the winner, which basically feels like I’m gifting myself and Geoff £50. The league comes with an app for your phone and it’s all very sophisticated! If you fancy your chances…

1. sign up the Metro Fantasy League HERE

2. The Join the below league, using the below pin!

League Name: Le Grove

League Pin: 4450

 

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Wenger deeply worried that Fabregas saga could derail Arsenal’s season. Head and sand springs to mind.

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What, did I read that right? Are you kidding me Arsene? This could have been sorted out in May. Something like this…

Barcelona – How much for Fabregas? 

Arsenal – £40mil cash, no add ons, no swaps and no part exchanges, £40mil

Barcelona – We’ll give you £27mil

Arsenal – Grow up, £40mil by July 1st or don’t bother come back ever again. End of story. Any longer and it will destabilise the team, pre-season and the player, not to mention it will hack off millions of fans, and frankly Barca, without them, we’d be in the conference league.

Whatever that very, very old, half witted, bloated, butt smoking daddies boy says. Stan do yourself a favour, kick him out or shove him in the attic and feed him fish heads for the rest of his miserable life, he really is that embarrassing relative that messes his pants at a party but won’t go home because he won’t admit he smells.

Once again we have had all summer to buy what we need and once again this club has failed spectacularly, Wenger already has his excuses lined up just like the rubber ducks he pays so much money to, and we can’t get them off the books, again, smart management. But no one ever says a word!

If you like me have watched pre-season, you can see we haven’t missed cesc and that killer pass, because when Cesc plays, we play tippy tappy football.

What we have missed since the invincibles is a credible defence, Squillaci, Koscielny and Djourou aren’t it I’m afraid, I have inside information that says the whole staff know it too, but Wenger’s ego won’t allow him to admit he’s cocked up royally, so we all have to suffer, please don’t think stubborn and massive ego are the same thing.

What happened to the days of sacking under performing managers, ask Terry Neil, Don Howe and Bruce Rioch!

It’s great having Gervinho, but we only got him because Chamakh is so bad, Bendtner is also poor but that’s because he is played out of position, either way we have had to suffer him for years because Wenger said he would come good, now he realises he won’t, he quietly disses him. Oh and remember when he used to quote Denilson’s Opta stats???

We are all so fed up, we applaud Gervinho arriving instead of questioning why we suffered Bendtner for so long, now we are going through the same thing with Chamakh.

I can see no difference between this season and last, we play the same way and defend as bad, we don’t miss Cesc, we miss Adams, Keown and Campbell, that’s what we miss. There are scores of top stoppers out there and we get 3 that can’t stop, smart move for a top manager that.

I can never understand the logic in selling a top player, then looking for a replacement, then using the excuse, ‘they know we have a lot of money so we can’t buy anyone, I won’t pay inflated prices’

We should buy Mata or whoever we like and let Cesc know we don’t give a rats arse about his feelings, this is Arsenal football club, not Arsene’s nursery and ex player roadshow, Sunday’s debacle showed us that.

Yes I know TH14 was a legend, but you know what? He left us for riches elsewhere, he now plays for Red Bull New York and getting 5 minutes for us is all about him and it should be all about us. And like everything else this club does, Wenger said he pleaded with the ref at half time, how long have we known about this fixture? If he wanted that he should have stipulated it last year, when the fixture came out.

I have said before, Cesc will be a crock, I have said before get a replacement in before we decide on him, I have said before we need 2 world class centre backs and we will need 4 throughout a season, TV5 and Bartley will make up the four, and I have said before that Bendtner, Almunia, Denilson, Squillaci and Eboue are not good enough, all are still here and the season starts next week, no wonder we have no money.

But Eboue makes everyone laugh, well so does a plastic turd at a party but you wouldn’t pay that £60k a week and give it an 8 year contract and image rights would you? Hmmmm but I know someone that might!

Denilson by the way says he’ll be back next year, as we are kindly letting him have a year off so he can be near his 3 year old daughter, generous that, never mind Arsenal’s needs, I also bet we are paying his massive salary too.

So a quick report on progress so far boss, we sell Clichy and replace him with one of two players that aren’t as good. We buy in a right back for the future and three 16 year olds, we buy in Gervinho (who does look good) and we are begging Cesc and Nasri to stay, but at what cost, oh and we are trying to sell 4 more.

Oh and I didn’t even bother mentioning the youth players let go or sold.

Me? I’d keep Nasri, but only if he signed a new contract, otherwise I would sell him to the highest bidder, if it were to City I would ask for Richards and De Jong in return or I would sell him for less elsewhere.

Cesc would go to the highest bidder, I’m afraid he has blotted his copybook once to often for me, I also believe he is now a crock, and who’s fault is that? Playing a kid at 16 in a mans team will do that everytime, there aren’t too many young kids that make it through a career, look at Michael Owen.

Jury is out on Gibbs, Ramsey, Wilshere and Theo, time will tell.

Have a great day Grovers, the weekend is looming and we have our last pre-season coming up.

P.S. Make sure you follow the Le Grove Twitter account today as Pedro will be reporting all the news as it happens!

Fantasy Football…

That time of year has arrived again where we pedal a bit of Fantasy football! We have a £100 prize for the winner, which basically feels like I’m gifting myself and Geoff £50. The league comes with an app for your phone and it’s all very sophisticated! If you fancy your chances…

1. sign up the Metro Fantasy League HERE

2. The Join the below league, using the below pin!

League Name: Le Grove

League Pin: 4450

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