An In-depth Look at Greek Super League Playoffs: In Bed With Maradona

If you are interested in world football, then you might just like my latest post over at In Bed With Maradona.

My first article looks in detail at the implications of the Greek Superleague’s decision to introduce a playoff system for European qualification, and the feasibility this might have in the Premier League as it was proposed and backed by some clubs, but opposed by Wenger and Arsenal.

PAOK AEK and the Big Fat Greek Playoffs Last season Premier League bosses controversially proposed a playoff system to decide the qualifiers for the European places. The Greek Superleague or Σούπερ Λίγκα Ελλάδα (literally soo-per liga Ellada) has used a version of the system since 2007-2008, and in some ways, the Greek model could serve as a test for any wider applications…

Continue reading on IBWM

Gilberto signs for Panathanaikos

The transfer season is finally getting moving. Yesterday we heard that Hleb had left to sign for Barcelona and now Gilberto has signed for Panathanaikos. This is madness compared to the dull days of June!

The transfer fee is around £1 million, which is a nice enough sum for a player of his age. Apparently he has now become the highest paid player in Greece too.

“I’m hungry to win more titles, I came to Greece because I have big ambitions, it’s very important for me to be able to continue to give my best. I couldn’t say no to the offer.

“I’m sure we will qualify through to the group stages of the Champions League. I’m excited about being a Panathinaikos player.”

‘Bert played for us for six seasons after we signed him from Atletico Mineiro of Brazil in 2002. He has been a great servant of the club, and unlike certain induviduals he has acted like a model professional even when left out of the side this season.

During those six seasons he became a regular in the first team and plaed 244 games, with 24 goals scored. He won the Premier League in 2003/04 and the FA Cup twice in 2003 and 2005.

For those who think our midfield looks a bit threadbare after the depature of Flamini, Hleb and Gilberto just remember that we have Vela and Nasri who can play in midfield and Wenger is very likely to sign a player to bolster central midfield seeing as we have lost Flamini and ‘Bert.

So a bit of extra cash and an incentive to but a new player for Mister Wenger, and a new start for good old Gilberto.

Gilberto is on the way out, is Barry on the way in?

So reports coming out of Greece say that Gilberto is in Athens for a medical with Panathanaikos. Henk Ten Cate, the new manager wants Bert to bolster his midfield.

Meanwhile Martin O’Neill has been quoted in The Sun confirming Arsenal’s interest in Gareth Barry.

“Myself and Steve Walford both know Arsene Wenger’s assistant Pat Rice. He phoned Steve to ask how the Liverpool thing had gone and said that they might show an interest. At the end of the conversation Arsenal said ‘that’s fine’ and that they’ll let us know. That is exactly what happened.”

So there;s nothing concrete, but it would seem that we are interested. This does make sense, especially as Gilberto may leave.

We looked stretched at times last season and although I have said before that we could cope with our problems by bringing through players like Diaby, it would ease the strain on the squad if we signed a new defensive midfielder

Last season one of our failing points was the lack of depth in the squad and this needs to be addressed if we are to mount another strong challenge for the title and improve on last seasons performance!

What do you think?

Gilberto leaving, Diaby in pole position, or a new signing?

Gilberto may be leaving Arsenal for Panathanikos this summer. There has been a lot of speculation over Bert, mainly due to the fact that the whole season he was sidelined in favour of Mathieu Flamini.

Gilberto decided to stay and didn’t kick up a fuss, but acted professionally. He may be offered a new deal by Wenger, but it seems likely that he is going to leave for a fresh start.
Gilberto is reported to have said:

“I am very happy to come to Greece…Panathinaikos is a big club and if an agreement is reached with Arsenal I will be very happy to join you”

I think Gilberto has been a fantastic player for Arsenal, he’s had some ups and downs, but he has been very consistent, and professional in his conduct.

I respect him and if he does leave then good luck to him.

The question is who will fill the hole. The main candidates already at the club are Diaby and Song. Diaby has more experience and is more versatile, although Wenger has already hinted that Song will be used as a centre back next season.

There is always the option of bringing a player in, names such as Yaya Toure of Barcelona have been bartered around, but it seems more likely to me that Wenger will bring one of the younger players up. His transfer dealings may have peaked with the capture of Nasri.

That won’t be popular, but it might pay off.