Hleb tips Arshavin to shine as Derby Day looms

This is a guest post by sports writer Thomas Rooney

Alexander Hleb – remember him? The one time Arsenal man – who moved to Barcelona in the summer – has found time to speak about his former club. In particular, he has had words of praise for new signing Andrei Arshavin.

Shouldn’t he be concentrating on all things Barcelona, I hear you ask! Well, he would do, but to put it politely, he isn’t getting a look in at the Nou Camp. Since moving from Arsenal last year he hasn’t played nearly as much football as he would have liked. Many Gunners may find the following phrase appropriate – ‘I told you so.’

In my opinion, Hleb should never have left Arsenal. He was playing regular football, was part of a team that suited his style of play and most importantly he seemed settled. Despite this, he jumped shipped to Barcelona and if his latest comments are anything to go by – he is regretting it.

Hleb says that he is desperate ‘for more time on the pitch’ and will do all he can do ‘fight for a place in the team’ between now and the end of the season. The problem being that Barcelona are top of the league by a mile and are playing some excellent football at present. Thus decreasing Hleb’s first team chances in the next couple of months.

So, what does the future hold for him? Well, he has admitted that he will ‘see what might happen in the summer’ because he isn’t willing to sit on the sidelines for two seasons on the trot. Maybe you should have stayed at the Emirates then Mr Hleb? I’d be interested to see if he would consider a move back. Would you take him?

Anyway, onto more immediate matters that Hleb has been discussing. He says that Arsenal’s new signing Andrei Arshavin will suit the ‘style of the team’ and that the Russian will prove to be ‘a success’ in the Premier League. Overall, Hleb strongly believes that Arshavin will ‘enjoy his time at Arsenal’.

Speaking of Arshavin, he is all set to make his debut for the club in this weekend’s game with Tottenham. Let’s talk a bit about this eagerly anticipated 144th North London Derby.

First things first – it is a must win for Arsene Wenger’s men. In terms of points to secure a 4th placed finish, in terms of confidence for the rest of the season and in terms of condemning Spurs deeper into the relegation mire – this is a must win game.

Nothing other than three points will do. Some people may consider a draw to be a decent result, but not for me. A similar performance as the wins over Manchester United and Chelsea please Arsenal. Let’s make sure that Arshavin gets off to a winning start so that the team can finish the season strongly.

As far as team news is concerned, Arshavin is included in the squad and could well start the game. Elsewhere, Emmanuel Eboue is fit but Abou Diaby is banned. For Tottenham, Robbie Keane is set to captain the side on his return from Liverpool.

Whatever players are in an Arsenal shirt on Sunday though, they must show the fans how much they care about this game and they must prove that they have what it takes to claw back Aston Villa in the race for 4th place.

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Fabregas thinks the squad is a little thin

Hello Gooners. Fabregas has been talking to the press about our threadbare squad and our style of play compared to Spain.

He raises some quite worrying points about our potential for this season, but he is positive:

“We have a short squad and we are very young, behind me Denilson and Song play, and they are 20. Walcott is 19 and Nasri is 21. Can you imagine I’m the oldest midfielder? Winning will be tough for us because we are not experienced.

“Last season I scored a lot because I had Rosicky, and Flamini who used to run all over the pitch. Hleb as well, who is like my brother. They have gone now and I feel weird. We are more conservative and strong, but with less touches.”

It seems like Fabregas is all too aware of our problems in the squad, and I think he might feel a little more comfortable with some more experienced players challenging for places. Certainly we are lacking cover in midfield right now. He explained Wenger’s policy to the press:

“Arsene Wenger has crystal clear ideas, there aren’t two like him. He doesn’t want to spend money as he prefers to trust youngsters. His idea is that Walcott can’t develop if you sign Cristiano [Ronaldo].”

He was questioned about his differing roles for club and country – the fact that he isn’t an automatic starter for Spain was mentioned:

“To me it is not an issue because I’m aware I’m young, I play differently and must adapt. I’m not an attacker that plays with his back to goal because I haven’t got the body neither the agility to do it. I need to watch what’s happening because I’m not quick neither agile. I rely on my passes and my vision.

“Nowadays we play in 5-4-1 with Spain and at Arsenal it’s always 4-4-2. At Arsenal I can move, do what I think I must do. The gaffer doesn’t make me to do anything. I feel free. With Spain it is different, you touch the ball, make lots of controls. There (in England) it’s more about counter attacks and going as quickly as possible in front of the goal.

“I know who I am. I notice a change when I’m with Spain but it’s normal – I don’t play (in La Liga) and people don’t see me. I am 21 and have so much to learn. I feel so important in England, but you should remain humble when you play football.”

When he plays for Spain he obviously feels like a young boy with a lot to learn, and at Arsenal I think he has some responsibility resting on his shoulders. Maybe it isn’t so good for him to have to be the main player in the squad at such a young age.

On scoring the last gasp header against Sunderland:

“It’s rare because I’m used to scoring set pieces including corners, and I’m not good at headers. But I’d like to improve because a midfielder that can head the ball is more efficient.

“Most of all I must improve defensively. I always want to attack, to score, to deliver, it’s my dream.”

I think Cesc is possibly the best player at Arsenal, without him we don’t tick, but he needs to feel that the club is matching his ambitions, and losing players like Hleb and Flamini has obviously affected him.

He doesn’t know if we can win the league this year with our current squad and that worries me.

The Arsenal Curse – back in action? – David Bentley, Flamini, Hleb..

Bentley needs to eat something
Bentley needs to eat something

Arsenal Insider runs a nice piece here, basically saying – lets all laugh at David Bentley.

The guy has become a hated figure at Arsenal with all his bitter comments about the club and Wenger since he left. After signing for Spurs this summer for about £15 million he is now part of Spurs worst ever start to a season.

They are bottom of the league – of course we have only played 3 games, but it’s still funny!

It is even sweeter because Bentley has made a lot of comments about how we don’t bring through English talent, that’s why he moved. But Theo just scored a hattrick for England, maybe Bentley’s failure at Arsenal is more because of his lack of talent than Arsenal’s policies!

The Spolier also lists some more unfortunate Arsenal leavers – Hleb was injured on his home debut for Barca – out for 4 weeks, they drew 1-1 against Santander.

Flamini isn’t doing great at AC Milan either – 100% loss rate in their games so far, and no Champions League this week, just a UEFA Cup tie on Thrusday!!

Click here to read the latest Arsenal news on ArseSpeak!

Hleb has gone, that pays for Nasri and makes some room

Arsenal and Barcelona have confirmed that Alex Hleb has signed for Barca for a fee around £11.8 million. This covers Nasri’s fee so we are looking good financially this summer. Just need one or two more signings and we should be confident about next season.

Hleb had a medical for Barca at about 7 pm last night and the transfer was then announced.

Wenger was gracious and confident about Alex’s departure:

“We must firstly thank Alex for his contribution towards Arsenal Football Club during his time with us. Alex played a significant role in the three seasons he was with the Club. We are comfortable with our decision to let him go and we are all looking forward to continuing our preparations for the new season ahead.”

A positive comment, he sounds calm enough about Hleb leaving. I said before that lack of goals from midfield was a major problem for us last season, and although Hleb is good, he isn’t irreplaceable, and he didn’t contribute goals.

We now have Nasri to take his position and we will probably sign another midfielder if Gilberto leaves. The other good thing is that now Barca and Milan (Ronaldinho) have spent their cash we don’t need to worry so much about losing Adebayor, who although unpopular, is a key goalscorer for us.

Hleb didn’t say that and training has begun

There’s been a lot said about quotes from Hleb slagging off Cesc Fabregas and Wenger. The comments according to Arseblogger are ‘rehashed’ from earlier reports. That makes sense to me, Hleb wouldn’t just start slagging off his mate Cesc, or his boss, Wenger.

These are the quotes:

“My view of how I should be playing didn’t coincide with the manager’s. I told him last season I wanted to leave and think he was quite upset about it. But ask him. It may turn out he’s happy to see me go. I don’t know where I’ll be next season but I’d prefer Barcelona. It is being negotiated and, hopefully, will be decided soon.”

Hleb may be on his way out but these quotes can’t be true. Hleb has denied the quotes on his website:

“Dear Friends,

I am shocked by some media-reports. In some newspapers it was mentioned that I have attacked Arsene Wenger and Cesc Fabregas. But let me tell you: This is not true! The statements in the papers are definitely not my statements.

I would never ever say something disrespectful about them. And there is a simple reason for this: Cesc is a very good friend of mine and Arsene is one of the persons, I respect most.”

I think he might stay, to be honest.

Also Arsenal players are back in Colney for preseason trading.See all the photos here

Arsenal Tranfers: Amaury Bischoff and Schneiderlin

In the last few days some rumours have been circulating about two players – Bischoff, a midfielder who plays for Werder Bremen, and Schneiderlin, a French U-18 player, who just signed for Southampton.

These are both very unlikely rumours. Firstly Bischoff – he plays as an attacking midfielder – we don’t need that sort of player – and he has hardly ever played for Werder – as he has an awful inury record.

Schneiderlin is a young French player who has just been signed up for Southampton – there are reports from his fan club (cheers GoonerTalk for the link!) that we may be looking to take him off Southampton in a few years – but that seems a little strange – why not just buy him and loan him to Southampton.

Both seem unlikely, I would like to see us bring in a defender to be honest, but I don’t know if Wenger is looking for a defender.

It all depends on what happens with Ade and Hleb – what do you think Wenger should do??

Adebayor is staying at Arsenal – Don’t listen to agents!

Emmanuel Adebayor has yet again denied the rumours that he is leaving Arsenal.

Speaking in Vienna he told the press:

“I am an Arsenal player and have three years left on my contract. “The most important thing for me is to keep on enjoying my football. I’m staying at Arsenal.

This is the second, or third time that he has denied the rumours surrounding him. Morabito is a moron for saying that Ade would be leaving.

It seems obvious to me that Ade wants to stay, and that Wenger wants him to stay.

Milan have said he is their main target for the summer, which is odd, but it is probably just to put pressure on the player and the club, and unsettle.

Also I reckon Hleb will stay too, the transfer rumours which were abounding last month seem to have died down, and realistically it looks like he will be playing for us next season – who wants him? Barcelona?? They say they’re getting Arshavin, so they won’t want Hleb. No-one else is seriously interested.

Barca bid for Adebayor and Hleb? Are Arsenal a selling club?

The news is rife with stories concerning Adebayor and Hleb and whether they will leave.

On Thursday we heard that AC Milan’s sole transfer target this summer is now Adebayor. Barcelona are also chasing his signature. AC Milan scout Ernesto Bronzetti says Milan still have a chance, but that Barca already have a deal:

“Let’s say we have a 50 per cent chance, a lot will depend on the wishes of the player in the end. Arsenal want to sell him to Barcelona, for their own motives. Barcelona tell me they already have an agreement with the player. I only know that the Barcelona president, Laporta, after having been doubted, now wants to shut everyone up by buying a big-name forward.”

“I do know they won’t have the economic means to buy him until they sell Eto’o or Ronaldinho, so I’d advise Milan not to buy either of them or they’ll finance the operation of taking Adebayor to Barcelona.

“(Saying the players weren’t needed) was a massive strategic error. Now anyone who wants to buy those players is maybe going to wait until August 29.”

Ade has come forward to say that he won’t comment, although he has said he will stay before, this media frenzy does worry me:

“Now I do not want to comment on anything relating to FC Barcelona, perhaps later it may be necessary but not now,”

“It is better to wait.”

Barcelona are also interested in Hleb and have reportedly offered about 50 million Euros for the pair. I’m not sure if they will leave, Goodplaya says that we will sell Adebayor if the money is right and replace him with Santa Cruz. I don’t like the idea of that happening, not at all. I think Ade is vital to the team and we need to keep it together – but Santa Cruz would be a quality replacement if he did leave.

Hleb, is a controversial issue these days, Wrighty7 doesn’t want to see him in an Arsenal shirt again after all theat has happened in the last few months. I would love to see him stay, but I would be much less worried about him leaving than Adebayor – simply because in Adebayor we have found a top stirker just at the right time, whereas Hleb is replacable.

If either do leave I will be worried about our ambition to be honest, if that did happen it would seem like we have become a selling club, and that isn’t how you become a successful club. I jus hope Arsenal find the right direction.

Talking of Adebayor there’s a great article on the BBC about his life and growing up in Togo, he seems like a genuinely nice chap.

Anyway, enjoy your Saturday/Sunday, I’m off!

Barca negotiate for Hleb and Adebayor, but will either go?

Barcelona have been involved in transfer negotiations for Alex Hleb for some time now. They are also apparently looking to pick up Adebayor on the way as well.

Hleb seemed more likely to leave than Adebayor. Wenger recently faxed AC Milan to tell them Adebayor ‘is not for sale — not for money or gold’.” and I can’t see that his attitude to Barcelona will be any different over Ade.

According to Barcelona they might not sign Hleb either. Barca vice-President Marc Ingla:

“The negotiation with Hleb is still in progress and despite him being a player with special qualities, if his club are not ready [to sell him], we have other options in mind,”

A lot of the rumours seem to have been started by papers with nothing better to write and fuelled by statements from agents. Players words can also be twisted to misprepresent them as well.

Adebayor has spoken this summer already about his desire to stay as an Arsenal player, and that is the only outcome I can see. Hleb has not been so forthcoming, and his agent said he wanted to leave, but as time passes it looks less likely.

The whole situation will be done and dusted come the end of the transfer window, so wait and see, but don’t be suprised if both of these players are wearing Arsenal shirts next season.

Van Persie linked with Inter + Transfer talk: Ade + Hleb

It has been suggested that Jose Mourinho is looking to sign RVP from us for his new club, Inter Milan.

I wouldn’t be suprised if top clubs are interested, but as you know, here at ArseSpeak we’re cynical and we know that the media aren’t trustworthy. Yes, clubs may want him, but will he actually leave? It is doubtful.

The same can be said of Adebayor, our 30-goal a season striker who has been linked to the other Milan club: AC. Now the president Silvio Berlusconi has said that Ade is too expensive for them.

Silvio Berlusconi:

Berlusconi

“He costs a lot.”

Adebayor is also now in contract talks with Arsenal, so much for that one!

Another bit of news is that Aleksandr Hleb may not be leaving Arsenal after all.

Inter, the original ice cream bandits, who tapped him up in February now have a new manager, and don’t want him. Barca have spent so long bumbling about I don’t know whether it will happen and Real and Bayern were always dubious links. I reckon that there’s a 50% we might see Hleb staying, watch this space!

All in all I don’t think we will lose many more players this summer (maybe Hleb), I hope we don’t. Just be a little critical of some stories you read Gooners.

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