Flamini, parting shots

Flamini says that Arsenal could have kept him if we had offered him a new contract earlier.

“Last July I told Arsenal I wanted to extend my contract so, of course, I would have signed if they had offered me a deal – but they didn’t.

It all comes down to the fact that he was basically a fringe player till this season. Le Boss was going to offload him, he stayed, but we didn’t offer him a new contract in the summer, because we wanted him ‘to prove himself’.

Basically we didn’t believe in him, and at the time that seemed to make sense. Now at the end of the season Mathieu has made his point.

If we had had a little more belief we would still have him, but when a big club like Milan comes calling with sacks of money, you don’t turn it down. Especially if you feeling a little more than unappreciated by the club you’re at.

We used him, and now he has used us.

Wenger must be feeling a little stung after the happenings this season. Flamini left, and Diarra went, leaving us bare in central midfield. No real likely candidates within the sqaud to take the role on a long term basis. Gilberto will still be here, and theres Diaby, but I think we will see a new face for that position.

Fabregas’ new contract – The result of Flamini’s move?

Fabregas is likely to sign a new contract at Arsenal after the problems we’ve had this year with Flamini and Hleb.

Cesc already earns about £60 000 a week, but to keep him at the club it looks like Wenger will have to be a bit more competitive and may offer up to £100 000 a week.

Sagna has been offered a new contract, and Clichy just signed a two year extension, he had this to say:

“We’re at the end of our discussions. Everything’s going well because my intention is clear: I want to stay at Arsenal.

“I would love to have a career here like Patrick Vieira or Thierry Henry, to stay many years at Arsenal and leave my mark on the club.

It seems that Wenger has realised that to keep the best players at the club we need to have them on contracts which rival other big clubs, but we don’t necessarily have to blow our wage structure in doing so.

We have great players, who on the most part realise that what we have at Arsenal is quite special, and that Wenger can bring the best out of a squad, but when big offers come, such as Milan’s for Flamini, they may be tempted.

I would say though that the Flamini situation was exceptional, in that he was a fringe player for 3 years, and was going to leave in the summer.

That was why his contract was not renewed, and then when he played so well this season Milan were able to pull him away with a hefty wage packet, and a chance he couldn’t have dreamed of last summer, when it looked like he was joining Birmingham!

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Wenger’s key issues this summer. Transfer targets

Arsene Wenger has some key issues this summer, which need to be fixed before we can be successful. These are a few I came up with, add more in the comments if you know more things which need doing!

1. Holding on to our current players.

A key issue, we need to make sure the squad is happy and settled before the new season starts. Flamini’s depature has caused some concern, so we need to get everyone together and a have a common deisre and vision. If Hleb wants to go, then let him. Just make sure we replace and don’t lose more important players.

2. Replacing

This has come up as an issue after we have seen Flamini leave, and now Hleb under intense speculation.

We need to replace Flamini, of course Gilberto can fill that role, as he does wnant to stay on at Arsenal, but he is not a long term option. What do you think?

3. Finding in a winger who can score goals.

At the moment we have Rosicky, Van Persie, Eduardo, Walcott, Eboue and Hleb (he’s off) who play reasonably reguarly on the wings. Three are strikers; RVP, Eduardo and Walcott. One is most definitely a defensive player; Eboue, and two are midfielders. This means that we have very few players who can specialise in playing on the wings, as we used to with Ljungberg and Pires.

The stikers can score a lot of goals, but we need players who can come in and score from midfield. Rosicky is regularly injured, and hasn’t been a prolific goal scorer. Hleb is off to Milan, because he wants somewhere more peaceful than London, and he doesn’t score anyway!

When we have won titles in the past we have depended on goals from midfield to support the stikers. An extreme example is C.Ronaldo , who has basically pulled Man Utd to the title with his goals, as their strikers haven’t scored any.

We may not need to buy anyone for this, players like C.Vela may be pointed to but I think a signing may be preferable for Wenger.

Any suggestions?

4. Reconstructing the defence.

This is a sticky issue. We have seen a catalogue of weak defensive errors this season, which let us down, especially in long ball situations. Gallas and Toure have looked awkward playing together this season, neither really attacks the ball, and this has been a problem.

On the flanks we have Sagna and Clichy who are the best in the division and cover. What we need is for Wenger to have a think about how to restructure our defence into a good unit.

We have a great defence when going forward. When actually defending they do struggle in the centre especially. Wenger says he wants to buy a defensive player so we may see some changes.

If Wenger can do these things we will definitely be a stronger side next season.

Five Of The Best 2007/2008

Five of our best players this season. Love them or hate them I think most people would agree!

1. Fabregas

The centre of our team, we rely on his creativity and passing, he is arguably our biggest player.

2. Flamini

He has left Arsenal for a fat contract at the San Siro. He was most improved player in the squad.

He is like a crazy dog who doesnt stop running! He covers a huge amount of ground every match. Constantly winning the ball for us in midfield and redistributing. He is also an excellent passer of the ball, although his technical abilities are overshadowed by Cesc.

At the beginning of the season was a squad player, he became an integral part of the squad. We will have to replace him now!

3. Clichy

Amazing in defence and attack. His runs and crosses provide a huge source of attacking creativity. Tireless, pacy and always back to cover the defence.

4. Sagna

Our other full back, newly signed this season, fitted in seamlessly and made right-back his own.

He adds attacking pace down the right, and can cross well. He is like Clicky in that he is very good defensively, but fast and attack-minded.

5. Adebayor

A striker who sometimes comes under criticism. He is our top goalscorer, leads the line, holds the ball and can head the ball or shoot, he has allowed us to diversify our game and has flourished since Henry left. You can argue with a 30 goal season!

I could mention almost any of our players, with a few exceptions, but these are the pick of the bunch for me!

Arsenal transfer speculation as Hleb’s agent talks

Yesterday morning we were greeted with these words from Alex Hleb’s agent:

“Alexander is preparing to make one of the most important moves of his life””He is leaving Arsenal even though they want to offer him a new long-term contract and better conditions. Only time will tell if leaving is the right decision, but there’s no way back now. Everything will be cleared up in the next two weeks.”

As we all wondered whether he would do a Webster, Arsene has hit back:

“It is not as simple as it looks, this Webster clause, you can’t just come in next day and buy out, there is no rule that says that.

“You should not forget what clubs can do, you have to first go to a Fifa tribunal and if you don’t agree with Fifa, you have to go to Acas. It takes a lot of months.

“You can be banned for the whole period if it’s not done in a proper way.”

He also said here:

“I believe 98 per cent of this squad will be here next season. And the two per cent have already gone.”

Well, Wenger has to be optimistic, it must have been a big blow to lose Flamini, but I am sure that we will find players to fill the gap, he’s after a midfielder and a defender, I’m not sure who, but people writing us off will only make us stronger to be honest with you.

These people will see what happens next season, and so will we!

Forget the hype. Arsenal can be successful + Hleb and all that

We all know the famous saying; “Arsene Knows”. Reading some articles you would think that only total idiots can agree with this, and Arsenal are doomed.

How many times do we have to hear this rubbish?! Arsene Wenger is the best manager Arsenal have ever had. He has brought unprecedented style, attacking football at its best, unearthed gems in players no one has even heard of and won heaps of trophies.

I agree, we have been through a barren patch these last few years, but this year we saw an incredible improvement and in 2005/2006 we got to the Champions League Final.

If you look at the facts it shows Arsenal are building a team of champions, centred around players such as Cesc Fabregas.

Now that one player has left, Flamini, we hear that the squad will fall apart and again that we will be crap next year. Weren’t we hearing the same things last year?

Granted, Flamini has been a revelation this season and will be hard to replace, and there is some speculation about Hleb’s future, but come on. We have a striker who has scored 30 goals in his first season as the main striker, arguably the best midfielder in the world, in Cesc Fabregas, and loads of up and coming youth talent.

Get real is what I say, Wenger would agree with me. Yes, we should be worried about our club, but speculation gets you nowhere!

Wenger has given a bit more detail about the Hleb situation:

“What people say about the buy-out clause, it is not as simple as it looks,” said the Frenchman. “It is much more difficult and the clubs are reluctant to do that.

“We want to keep Hleb, we want him to be part of our team next year. It is as simple as that. We have lost one player, we do not want to lose more.”

Yes it really is that simple, we want to hold on to him and the media do not realise the complexities of football, to use an over-used phrase – this isn’t Football Manager.

Arsene knows what he’s on about, listen:

“If you are a winner you say ‘you beat me now in a game but give me a chance to come back and beat you’. That’s what I expect of a team. If they cannot do that then it means I was wrong completely in my whole judgement of this team.

“But I hope that 95 per cent of the team, the core of the team, says ‘come on, we have only just lost’. And it is ‘just’ because we were leading at Manchester United, we were leading at Chelsea and we were leading at Liverpool in the Champions League, and every time we just lost a little bit of focus and lost the game.

“Let’s come back and show we are winners. That is the real target of the team.”

Inspiring stuff, Wenger does know, because we were close this year, how many people thought it was going to be our season, almost all of you reading right now I bet you. So lets come next season (hopefully with a signing or two) and show what we’re made of.

Arsenal’s Youngsters For Next Season

Whatever happens now we will finish in third place this year (click here for league table), and trophyless again.

Not all is bad though, our squad has matured and we have seen a vast improvement in the quality of football and the results. 3rd place is one up from last season, and the QF of the Champions League is one stage further. Had luck been on our side we would have gone further.

Now Flamini has become the first departure of the summer we wait and see who else will come and go. I’m not sure who Wenger will sign, I am pretty sure that we have seen the last of Lehmann and possilbly Gilberto.

At this stage the future of the club is in the balance. Lose players like Hleb, and the squad will be greatly weakened and unsettled. Keep the majority of the players and sign a few more gems and we could be very successful next year.

A few players who I expect to come through more next year are:

Nicklas Bendtner

A very good player, good passing and can run at defenders as well at being great in the air. He has scored 9 this season, and although not a perfect partner for Adebayor, he will start more next season.

Theo Walcott

One of the top young players in the Premiership. His style and pace are fantastic. He has started more and more this season and proved himself, i.e. at Anfield. Expect him to start on the right wing, and more up front next year. Maybe some more goals too.

Alex Song

Badmouthed by some fans, he has proven his quality in the new year, first at the ANC, and then with some good performances in defence. A possible replacement for Flamini, or maybe a new centre back

Armand Traore

Looks like he may get a chance on the left wing after his conversion from left back. He looked good coming on against Everton, and provided the cross for the goal. Him and Clichy would be a menacing duo on the left flank, pace, power, and passing in attack and defence.

Carlos Vela

Another much talked about player. He has done well on loan at Osasuna, and Wenger will recall him next season possibly for a starting line up. Don’t know loads about him. Let me know your impressions in the comments.

Just a quick summary, if you think of any more then feel free to add them in the comments section.

Also congratulations to Arsenal Ladies, double winners, the most successful women’s team in the land.

Flamini: Going, Going, Gone: Signs For AC Milan

It’s official, the Flamster has signed a four year deal with AC Milan, the saga is finally over.

The deal keeps him at the San Siro until June 2012. Flamini told reporters:

“I am very happy, thank you very much”

I hope he is, Serie A is a very different place compared to the Premier League, and Milan are not guaranteed to playing in the Champions League next year. He will be in competiton with the likes of Gattuso, Kaka, Pirlo and Ambrosini for a place, which will be hard.

He has been a key player for us this season, I wish him the best at Milan, but I am very sorry to see him go. We need to find a replacement for him, either through signing them or bringing them from within our current squad.

Wrighty7 suggests Alex Song. I was thinking the same thing. He is a good player who has improved greatly this year. He is a natural defensive midfielder, but can he do the same job for us that Mathieu did? I’m not so sure.

Flamini left Marseilles in a similar way, not having signed a professional contract, we managed to get him without paying a fee, even though he had promised to sign a new contract at Marseilles.

I’ll leave you with the words of his coach at the time, Jose Anigo:

“He’s a traitor – this is a beautiful treason.”

Flamini In Milan. Highlights Arsenal 1 Everton 0

Highlights here.

The game itself was a little dull, Bendtner got a good headed goal and we won 1-0. Wenger said:

“You could see that it was a little bit an end of season game.”

It was, we played some good, football at times, but nothing special. A few points though:

  1. Song had another solid game at centre back, I like him more everytime I see him.
  2. Jens came on for the last few minutes, obviously a farewell appearance.
  3. Traore came on and did well down the left wing, his cross set up Bendtner’s goal. I wouldn’t be suprised if we see him there next year, he looked exciting!

Gallas Strips At Arsenal, Emirates Stadium

Gallas Gets Naked

The players came out to do a farewell lap of the pitch, Gallas threw his shirt into the crowd just in front of me, I didn’t get it though, Jens staying on afterwards, and getting a standing ovation from the fans. He said:

“I had one or two tears in my eyes, It was a great farewell for me. This farewell will always stay in my heart.”

He has been a great player for, even if he is mental. I hope he does well in the future.

Flamini seemed a little awkward, and it seems he has flown to Milan to agree terms with AC. No suprise there, we could see it coming. Not much we can do, he was fantastic this season, but we’ll just have to find a replacement.

Flamini To Decide On Contract, Wenger Wants To Stick To Wage Structure

Arsene Wenger says Mathieu Flamini has the weekend to decide whether to stay with Arsenal or leave on a Bosman at the end of the season.

Theres been a lot of speculation about Flamini leaving, and I thought he might have already gone, but Wenger says:

“At the moment, we have no news from him but at the latest we expect it to be decided over the weekend.

“He tells me he wants to stay and I want him to stay but it will be down to numbers as well as we want to respect our wage structure.

“It is important to keep the core of the team together. We have shown we have the quality and now we need to improve in certain areas.”

We do need to stick to our wage struucture and no player should be above that, we have seen the results of financial mismanagement at clubs like Leeds. We have done well under the current structure and we are still growing.

What we cannot do is start to make exceptions to the rule which would cause chaos. Flamini is a good player but he is not irreplacable.

Wenger has a good point about keeping the core of the squad together and I would agree, so I hope Flamini stays true to us and stays. SAying that, no player is bigger than the club and the Flamster cannot hold us to ransom.

I would think Mathieu is feeling split between the club and the money, because all the players have talked about the great spirit of Arsenal and the way the club is going. If he stays then great, if he goes, we’ll just have to get over it.

What do you think, should we break our principles to keep one player happy?