The curious case of Alberto Méndez: An ‘Arsenal transfer’s story’

The name of Alberto Méndez is one familiar to aficionados of Premier League stars who never were, that of a Wenger signing who never quite made the grade at Arsenal. In 1997 he was ‘the craziest football story of the summer’, but joined the small list of players including the likes of Stefan Malz and Tomas Danilevicus who came from nowhere but never fulfilled the potential Wenger saw in them. For every Patrick Vieira or Thierry Henry there are hundreds of these, young men plucked from obscurity, very much a hallmark of Wenger’s successful transfer policies.

However, Alberto has a story of his own to tell. Andrey Arshavin may not know it, but this previous incumbent of the number 23 shirt also went on to become a skillful midfielder. Like Arshavin, this season has been a tumultuous one for the German of Spanish descent.

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The Wenger Philosophy: Themes through time. The lens of AS Monaco vs. Galatasaray 1989 Part 2

We continue our in-depth look at Arsène’s time with AS Monaco, after analysing the European Cup Quarter-final his side played against Galatasaray in 1989 earlier this week. That match ended in a 1-0 defeat, even with the firepower of George Weah and Glenn Hoddle on the pitch, in what was surely a formative experience for a much younger Wenger.

The image of a frustrated Arsène Wenger on the sidelines echoes through the years, and although the context is different, and football has changed, that bespectacled visage still betrays the passionate and obsessive personality today as was clear 22 years ago. Wenger often cuts a frustrated figure on the sidelines today, water bottle moments included, and the case is no different here. The enigmatic nature of the man is notorious; as Mark Hateley said (in Jasper Rees’ biography) of Wenger “You’ll never figure him out” ; this mysticism still persists.


During the second leg of AS Monaco’s European Cup Quarter-final in 1989 Wenger cuts a frustrated figure on the bench.

Continue reading “The Wenger Philosophy: Themes through time. The lens of AS Monaco vs. Galatasaray 1989 Part 2”

Astute purchases pay dividends – Koscielny and Squillaci tested by Bolton

In seasons past Arsenal have been stereotyped, not without reason, as defensively fragile and naive. Arsene Wenger has sought to address that this season with the signings of two new centre backs, Laurent Koscielny and Sebastien Squillaci after a clear out of the defensive deadwood within the squad.

Against Bolton the back four was totally untested, consisting of Gibbs, Koscielny, Squillaci and Eboue. Last season the equivalent rotation would have left Arsenal with players like Silvestre at the back, players who never inspired confidence at the best of times.

Koscielny made only his third appearance for the club, whilst Squillaci made his debut, and apart from one obvious error from Koscielny they coped well with the threat of the physical Kevin Davies, Lee and Elmander.

Continue reading “Astute purchases pay dividends – Koscielny and Squillaci tested by Bolton”

Wenger was right not to buy Babel – A transfer window warning

Ryan Babel was a Wenger transfer target in the summer of 2007. The press were reporting that it was a done deal, that Ryan would be joining Arsenal in a matter of weeks. However, the deal fell through, and it looked like the Ajax player would remain in Amsterdam, that was until Rafa Benitez came in with an £11.5 million bid which took Ryan to Liverpool.

Image courtesy of Paul Blank

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A bad week ends, the Eduardo affair and Old Trafford

The dust is settling on what was a bad week for Arsenal Football Club. Firstly Eduardo was singled out for very harsh treatment by UEFA after a dive against Celtic. Then we go to Old Trafford, take the lead and outplay United, only to concede a silly penalty and score an own goal.

Eduardo has now been labelled as a diver and the way Man Utd fans treated him at OT was testimony to Wenger’s description of events as a ‘witch hunt’. Eduardo was booed as he warmed up and the fans made diving gestures to the player. God forbid he ever goes down in the box again, because the reaction will not be friendly and the pressure will be on the referee.

The United game was unlucky, we played well, Arshavin scored a cracker, but the team looked nervous. That nervousness led to Almunia conceding a needless penalty, where Rooney was already nearly grounded before Almunia touched him, and then led to Diaby’s crazy own goal. I thought Diaby was good for the most part of the game, so hopefully he can get over it.

I have to admit I was going crazy when we scored in the 95th minute, just like Wenger, and I felt the same frustration when I finally saw the offside flag below. The sending off of Wenger was farcical and he handled it impeccably. He deserves his apology. See the highlights of the game at Arsenalist.com

The game itself gives me hope, as we are still missing so many attacking players, and the team still played better than Utd. I think we can continue our good form in the coming games.

In terms of Eduardo Arsenal have submitted a 19 page document to UEFA in defence of the player. It seems though that UEFA already see him as guilty and he is going to get a two match ban no matter what. This is a dangerous precendent to set, and if they are to be fair then UEFA must take retrospective action on events in every game – something which they cannot physically do. Sam Wallace puts it nicely in this article in the Independent.

Finally today is transfer deadline day, and suprisingly there is nothing to report on the Arsenal front. I don’t think we’ll see any signings for the top four, but I wouldn’t mind Arsenal snapping up one or two last minute bargains.

What are your thoughts on the way Arsenal have been treated by officials in the last week?

Arsenal Transfer News: Senderos could stay, Matuidi linked – One week to go

Arsene Wenger yesterday hinted that Senderos may have a future at Arsenal this season. Spending last season on loan at AC Milan, he has been suggested as Everton’s replacement for Joleon Lescott, and hasn’t been part of the team sheet so far this season. Wenger commented:

“There is no change with Senderos. If he has not moved before the deadline then he will be considered as any other player in the squad.”

This suggests that he still has a place in the squad if he decides to stay.

Wenger has also stated that we have not placed bids for any players, with just a week to go until the close of the transfer window.

“I have not bid for Matuidi. The only thing I can tell you is that at the moment we are not close to signing anybody. We have still one week.”

We have again been linked with Matuidi, whether there is any truth in these rumours is doubtful, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Wenger has his eye on at least one target to bring in before the week is out.

In other news Lescott has finally signed for Citeh for £22m, taking their spending to over £120m this summer. That’s about a third of all the Premier League spending, which shows how heavily they are investing. That may push Everton to now place a bid for Senderos.

Ex-Gunner Sol Campbell has also signed on at Notts County, seemingly lured by the long term project at the League Two club, and the presence of ex-England manager Sven Goran-Eriksson. The move surprised Wenger, as it is a step down from Premier League football, but Campbell has the chance to play for several more years, and help the club progress.

In any case Arsenal look strong, but like the past two seasons, when injuries strike: we will suffer. The team needs more depth if we really want to be strong contenders for trophies.

4-3-3 is the way forward, plus another Gooner signs for Citeh

The aftermath of the first home game of the season seems to be positive. A 4-1 victory over Portsmouth highlighted the flexibility of the 4-3-3 formation, which has brought us 12 goals in 3 games so far.

The goals are coming from all over the park which is good, as in the past we have suffered from a lack of goals from midfield. Our top scorers in all competitions are now Gallas – 3, Cesc – 2, and Diaby – 2. The strikers we have are proven goalscorers too, the likes of RvP and Eduardo for example.

Defence also seems strong, with new signing Vermaelen looking particuarly solid in the air and on the ground on Saturday.

The 4-3-3 formation looks solid, allowing midfielders to get forward, and the likes of Eduardo and Arshavin to be creative in attack.

Song, Cesc, Arshavin and Wenger all discussed the new system in the Portsmouth matchday programme, and emphasized the redefined roles they will play. They also pointed out that we can switch back to a 4-4-2 when needed.

I think the formation also suits our players, as we have many attack minded midfielders, and a fluid style of passing and movement. The new formation allows us to keep balance in the team, not too defensive, but not leaving the defence exposed either.

On the transfer front things are still pretty quite for Arsenal, but I expect we might see one more face come in the next week or so.

City have signed Silvinho from Barca, increasing their numbers of ex-Arsenal men. I don’t blame him for taking the opportunity, his playing days are nearing an end and he will most likely be on generous wages.

Joleon Lecott is also set to sign for City today, becoming the 3rd most expensive defender on record. I wouldn’t say he was worth £20m plus, but if they have the money then why not.

Thats all for today, should have more stories and a Celtic preview tomorrow. check out Untold Arsenal for a great review of Premier League club debt, makes interesting reading as always.

Parlour praises Arsenal youngster

Just to clarify, this article about Ray Parlour isn’t about him rejoining Arsenal to play alongside Patrick Vieira. It has been a strange summer of transfer activity and rumours for the Gunners, but it hasn’t quite gone that far!

Instead, the former Arsenal midfielder has been giving his opinion on one of Arsene Wenger’s most promising young talents, Jack Wilshere.

In a time when many people’s quest for success is centred around spending ridiculous money on players from around Europe, Arsenal are still trying to produce young talent and Wilshere is a great example of this.

How highly does Parlour rate the midfielder though? Well, very highly it seems. He says that Wilshere was a ‘different class’ during the Emirates Cup, during which he picked up two Man of the Match awards and notched a couple of goals.

Parlour was so impressed with Wilshere’s performances that he believes the 17-year-old can ‘act as a benchmark’ for the rest of the young players at Arsenal. This is a big statement to make about a player so young, but it shows that Wilshere has ability and maturity beyond his years according to some.

Another point that Parlour made was that Wilshere’s involvement in Arsenal’s pre-season has proved that if you are good enough to get in the side, you will do – regardless of your age. This isn’t the case at a lot of clubs, so the youngsters at Arsenal should really push themselves to make an impact as early as possible.

Overall, Parlour wants the youth team players at the club to ‘take confidence’ by seeing how well Wilshere is doing. There are a ‘lot of good players’ at reserve and youth team level, so perhaps a bit of belief is all they need to ensure that they start knocking on the first team door.

By Thomas Rooney

Toure is gone – We now need reinvestment in players

Emotional attachment aside, if it goes ahead then the sale of Kolo Toure to Man City is a good piece of business. £16 million for a player whose best years are behind them and who struggled to perform last season (a very low rank on OPTA stats) suggests that Arsene knows what he is doing.

Toure is set for a medical today at Eastlands and the deal seems likely to be finalised.

It is a blow for the club in terms of experience, but judging  on Wenger’s comments after the Haladas game he sees the sale as necessary. Toure wanted out in January and we have 7 central defenders already on the books. It looks like it will be Vermaelen and Gallas as our first choice, leaving Djourou, Senderos, Silvestre and possibly Song for cover. The cover isn’t top quality, and Vermaelen is new to the Premiership,  but it could work out.

Wenger has some money to play with now, although we may not necessarily see new faces at the club. It would be a confidence boost, for the fans and players, but Wenger seems to want to stick with the current squad.

Bar a Flamini style transformation, Denilson, Song and Diaby are not quite good enough to warrant first choice in central midfield with Cesc. That in my opinion is the only area that needs strengthening in the squad. The profits from our sales leave us with up to £30 mill to spend (or £15 mill if you count Arshavin’s fee). That needs to be reinvested in at least one player.

Wenger is remodelling this team to challenge for honours, but our weakness over the last two years has been a lack of strength in depth and experience. I’m fine with Wenger selling players on, we make a profit, and generally he knows the right time to sell, but these players must be replaced.

Kolo’s departure may prove to be a good piece of business, but the squad still needs some additions.

Manchester City are in town again, this time after Kolo Toure

Fresh from signing Emmanuel Adebayor from Arsenal, Mark Hughes and Manchester City are apparently sniffing around another one of Arsene Wenger’s first-team regulars. Several reports are suggesting that they are set to step up their interest in Kolo Toure after missing out on John Terry.

The defender only has one-year remaining on his contract at Arsenal and this means that an offer of around £15m could be enough to tempt Wenger to sell. Considering that he would be offered around £120,000 per week at Eastlands, it seems likely that Toure would agree to the move.

In fact, you get the feeling that that Toure would jump at the chance to join Adebayor at Manchester City. Not only would he be doubling his Arsenal salary, but it would represent a new challenge for him.

Toure requested to be placed on the transfer list back in January after a fall-out with team-mate William Gallas, after all. This request was rejected by the club, but it did indicate that Toure was open to the idea of leaving Arsenal.

For Arsenal fans, this is a slightly worrying trend. Players seem to be considering moves away from the club far more often than they should be. The Gunners are in danger of turning into a selling club with the likes of Hleb, Flamini, Henry and Adebayor moving on in recent times.

What do we think about the future of Toure though? Is he integral to Arsenal’s future or should he be allowed to talk to Manchester City if these reports turn out to be true? Personally, I think it all depends on the feelings of the player.

If Toure has put aside his differences with Gallas and is keen to start the season as an Arsenal player, any Manchester City offer should be rejected without a second thought. Toure is a major part of the Arsenal first-team and Wenger could do without another player to replace.

If the Ivory Coast international is unhappy at the club though, then perhaps Wenger should listen to what Manchester City have to say. Nobody wants players who are not committed to the cause. Hopefully Toure is, but after his request in January who knows what his feelings are?

The final question I want to put out there is – are you worried by the players being sold by Arsenal? Big names at the Emirates are constantly linked with moves away with world-class players rarely being linked with a move to Arsenal. Is this a concern?

By Thomas Rooney