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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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