Would we be happy with Barry at Arsenal?

We all know by now that the close season means one thing – transfer speculation galore. Throughout the next couple of months, Arsenal will be linked with a host of players, the moves for which will probably never materialise.

This is part and parcel of the media keeping interest in football high when there aren’t many significant games. It starts of as a bit of harmless fun, but when Sky Sports News continue to talk about ‘their sources’, it can get extremely annoying.

Anyway, where am I going with this? Well, it seems we may have some transfer speculation with a bit of substance. Don’t be surprised if it drags on throughout the summer, but unlike so many – this one seems realistic. Gareth Barry is reportedly interested in a move to the Emirates.

The Telegraph wrote a piece this morning which claims that the Aston Villa midfielder is holding out for a move to Arsenal in a bid to participate in regular Champions League football. Liverpool are also tracking his progress after missing out on his signature last summer, but it is being suggested that Barry would rather join Arsenal.

Would we want Barry to join though? It is thought that Arsene Wenger would need to spend around £12m on the England midfielder, who has one year remaining on his contract at Villa Park. Is this a good deal for Arsenal? Personally, I think that Wenger could do a lot, lot worse.

Ever since the departure of Mathieu Flamini last summer, Arsenal have been crying out for a holding and battling midfielder player to do away with the problem of being light-weight in the centre of the park. Barry – who Wenger has watched several times over the few months – could be the answer.

Often when a player is linked, I try to picture what role they would play in the team and Barry fits the bill in my opinion. Playing alongside Fabregas, he would look very much at home. It’s hard to say who he could emulate, but I see him as an Emmanuel Petit type figure.

This is purely me speculating though and I would really like your opinion on this. Is he the type of player you would like to be watching at the Emirates? Could he add something extra to the midfield? Which former player could he play a similar role to?

Looking at this initially though, I think it would be a good signing. A midfield of Walcott, Barry, Fabregas and Arshavin sounds pretty good to me. I guess we will just have to wait and see how this one develops.

By Thomas Rooney

What are Arsenal fans’ views on the future of Adebayor?

One of the main talking points as we reach the end of the 2008/2009 Premier League campaign is the future of Emmanuel Adebayor. There has been plenty of speculation about the Arsenal striker’s future with Inter Milan, AC Milan and Chelsea all reportedly tracking his progress.

Sections of the Arsenal crowd booed the Togo striker during the recent defeat to Chelsea and in doing so, made their feelings clear on where they hope Adebayor will be playing his football next season – away from the Emirates. Is this the case throughout Arsenal’s support though?

I am intrigued to find out exactly what Arsenal fans think. Is Adebayor a world-class striker that Arsene Wenger would be crazy to get rid of? Or is he a player that the club should cash in on as soon as possible?

During another season without a trophy for the Gunners, there is no doubt that Adebayor hasn’t hit the heights of the previous campaign. Compared to 30 goals last season, he has only managed to find the back of the net on 16 occasions. In fact, he has only scored in the Premier League three times since the turn of the year.

It hasn’t just been his lack of goals though. Many have criticised him for a lack of effort and commitment to the Arsenal cause. It has, perhaps, looked like he is happy with the fact that his time with the Gunners is coming to an end.

Nothing is certain as yet though and the forward’s future is very much up in the air. Arsenal lost key first team players in Mathieu Flamini and Gilberto Silva last summer, so they should be wary about breaking up a relatively settled side once more.

Surely Wenger should be adding to what he already has rather than selling one of his most talented players? Consistent selection often pays off in the end and if Adebayor was sold, he would more than likely be replaced by an unproven striker trying to make a name for himself in England.

On the other hand though, if Adebayor doesn’t want to be at the club anymore, why should Arsenal hold onto him? If he is kept involved against his wishes, it will surely have a negative effect on team morale next season.

What is your opinion though? A groin injury is likely to rule Adebayor out of Sunday’s game against Stoke City, so he could have played his last game in an Arsenal shirt. Would you be happy if this was the case?

By Thomas Rooney

Arsenal troubles: Retain Wenger and strengthen the squad

This season has been Wenger’s most difficult one at Arsenal, he’s had to cope with an inexperienced squad, injuries, impatient fans, player strops, and at the end of it he has still managed to ensure that we squeezed into the big time yet again next season, as well as taking us to the last 4 in Europe and an FA Cup semi-final.

Now he has to put up with harsh questioning from fans at the Shareholders meeting, and endless speculation that he will leave to go to Real Madrid.

Personally I think it would be awful for Wenger to go. His work isn’t finished at Arsenal and there is more to come. A barren patch is just that – a patch – and we are going to come out of this.

The main thing we need is to learn the lessons of the past two seasons – both fell apart due to a lack of depth in the squad.

We need to sign quality players with experience as Arshavin is asking for:

“We must buy in the summer. Not more potential, but players who are ready to do it now, players like me.

“We need two or three. If Arsenal want to win, they have to do it. We are tired of waiting.

“I believe that out of the top four English teams, when it comes to football, Arsenal are the best.

“They have the best style and the best coach. At the moment, young players come to Arsenal because they see it as a very big team, but if we carry on like this without winning trophies, young players will not want to come.

“Everyone likes the appeal of Arsenal, the football of Arsenal, the young players of Arsenal, but if there is no result they will stop.”

Action has to be taken – sell Adebayor to Milan if that is what it takes, and bring in several new players. Ade has potential, but he doesn’t seem happy at the club – as shown by his interview on the BBC. Best thing we can do is get a large sum of money for him.

He is the only player I could tolerate leaving, if any more go then we are looking at another season of disappointment – and disillusionment among the team.

Stick with Wenger though, stability is the key – what is the rush anyway – surely a team built over years which develops to its full potential and is successful over the long term is more preferable to a quick fix?

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.

Arshavin models a nice number

Look how happy Mr. Arshavin is with his new shirt. I’m happy too.

Our new signing has been speaking to ArsenalTV, and I felt a bit sorry for him, because he is struggling a little with the language, and the presenter was a little condescending. You can watch the video here.

Wenger told the press:

“He is a versatile player with great experience, who will add real quality to our squad. Andrey is an exciting impact player with a huge amount of ability and has been an influential force with both Zenit St Petersburg and the Russian national team in recent seasons.”

So it’s all done and dusted now, no more rumours till the summer please.

Arshavin boredom finally closed. We have a new number 23.

I’m sure many of you were following the transfer deadline day in a frenzy yesterday, as we all waited with baited breath to see whether Arshavin actually would sign for Arsenal.

It seems he has but even now on Tuesday we are waiting for official confirmation from Arsenal!

“Now I can say only one thing – that if I play for Arsenal, it will be at number 23.”

These rumours started in the summer, and resurfaced before the window opened. To be honest I just got bored with it, and I haven’t written much about potential transfers at all because it became so tedious.

What is more interesting is the fact that we now have a new player who can play across midfield and in the hole, and will add a whole new dimension to our game.

When the whole midfield is fit it is going to be very exciting, Rosicky, Fabregas, Arshavin, Nasri etc.. They are all creative players and Wenger will be spoilt for choice.

For now Arshavin can fill the creative hole left by Cesc’s injury, although he will need to build up fitness, as the Russian season finished in November.

He says he will probably wear the no.23 shirt and I think he might just be a breath of fresh air, coming at exactly the right time!

Don’t expect signings this window from Arsenal

Every Arsenal fan is expectant of transfer signings this window, Arshavin is the favourite to sign on, and we might get him, but Wenger is keeping a lid on things at the moment, just in case we can’t negotiate a price for him. He commented today:

“We are nowhere at the moment…That means we are not close to signing anybody. We know what we want to do, we are not close to signing today. We are in negotiations, yes, but we want to respect our principles.
“I am very hopeful that something can be done in a few days because we are half-way to the end. So it will be days, but if it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen.

This basically means don’t get your hopes up because Wenger will happily stick with our current squad if he can’t get the right price. Zenit have been overpricing him, in the summer Barca weren’t able to sign him, and moneybags Tottenham weren’t either, due to Zenit’s overzealous pricing regime. The fact that he is going on strike, and can buy himself out of his contract pretty soon could make the difference this time around, but don’t count on it.

“We want to concentrate on what we are doing and what we have here and how we can improve with the players we have.

“I am not a big fan of the window. I feel one of the aspects to judge a manager is to let him start with a team and let him see how far he goes with that team – or you open completely for the whole season.

“England had the right system because it was open till April and that was quite good. Now it’s cut in two and I’m not a big fan of it.

“We have a few options available, but we are no closer. But I believe we have a strong team and we want to do the maximum with the team we have.

Emphasis is on the “we are no closer” here. Negotiations for Arshavin are stalling at the moment as everyone knows, and Wenger doesn’t like the January window at all, so I wouldn’t be suprised if we don’t sign anyone. Wenger goes on to make a good point:

“We are open and don’t forget we have Rosicky, Fabregas, Walcott, all creative and offensive players who will come back at some stage, and that will be like being in the transfer market.

“Eduardo has recovered very well as well, and like a new signing. He is two to three weeks away.”

So we may see a new face at Arsenal by the 2nd of Feb, but if not we have great players returning from injury. I think if all of them come back earlier than expected then we will have a storng side, but I’m still hoping that we will find a way to sign Arshavin to add some strength to the midfield.

More likely the only new face we will see is DB10 as a coach. He got his qualifications for coaching and he has said that he won’t rule out a return to Arsenal as he ‘loves the club’.

Note: If this post makes you angry you may also enjoy this post.

Bendtner told Bolton line-ups? Plus Arshavin likes Arsenal!

According to news reports Nicklas Bendtner told Fabrice Muamba of Bolton the Arsenal line-ups on Saturday, before they were officially announced. If true, this reveals an unprofessional streak in Bendtner, as dressing room confidentiality is essential to the workings of any football club. Bendtner and Muamba obviously know each other, having played in the youth system at Arsenal and at Birmingham, but even between friends you cannot act unprofessionally on the match day.

The quotes are dubiously sourced from the Sun:

“One of Bolton’s staff told Arsene after the game they knew their team well before the team sheets were handed in. When Arsene asked how that was possible the Bolton coach replied Bendtner told them.

In the end Bendtner scored the winning goal, and I hope that these rumours aren’t true, because it will only reduce his popularity among Arsenal fans, a misguided few of whom are already on his back anyway.

I think he is a great young player, with potential to go far, but like all players he is going to have to work hard to be consistent. He isn’t first choice yet, and only good performances can change that.

Meanwhile Arshavin has been fueling more transfer speculation:

“In some games last season, we played football which was very similar to that of Arsenal,”

“I would prefer my present No 10 but in the team where I hope to move it’s not vacant. So I’m ready for any number they are going to offer me.”

This doesn’t neccesarily mean Arsenal, many clubs have already assigned their no. 10 shirts, but he is hinting at something here. The fact that it’s so blatent makes me think we won’t sign him, and that this is just his way of finding a buyer who will pay Zenit for him – he is obviously desparate to leave and play in a more competitive league.

There’s not much point listening to any of this speculation because it is all just posturing for the media for alterior motives. Until deals are done nothing is certain!

Arsenal’s FA Cup Campaign Starts Today & Wenger has located a player!

Forget the League today. It doesn’t matter how your team is playing in the Cup anything can happen. The FA Cup is a very realistic chance for us to get a trophy this season, and I would take it right now.

Plymouth aren’t playing great, they’re 15th and have only won 1 game in the last 8, but they’ve got 8,500 fans at the Emirates today, and they’ll be up for the occasion. Still, I think most people won’t be expecting any upsets today.

I think Wenger should really go for the FA Cup this season, it is still a prestigious trophy and there’s no way we are winning the League!

Wenger has also been talking about potential transfer targets, he isn’t giving anything away, but he says we have at least ‘located’ some players!

“First of all you have to find the player, identify him, convince him to come here and at the moment that is not easy. We have located a few though.”

The highlights will be up after the game!

Update: Highlights post here

Hill-Wood doesn’t expect Arsenal to spend big as Wenger & Co prepare for Plymouth

This is a guest post by sportswriter Thomas Rooney

It was thought by many that this current transfer window would see a change for Arsenal. Many believed that the club would spend big this month to accommodate for injuries and to try and help the team force their way back into the top four of the Premier League.

However, speaking about the Gunners options in the coming weeks, Peter Hill-Wood has revealed that Arsene Wenger will not be splashing the cash – far from it. Instead, the Arsenal chairman says that the club has got to be ‘run in a sensible way’.

This is fair enough I suppose. No Arsenal fan wants the club’s future finances put in jeopardy because of one massive spending spree. However, can we not expect a bit more transfer activity than usual?

Well, from what Hill-Wood had to say, it seems not. He said that there is ‘not a lot of money anywhere’ in football at the moment and that this will restrict what Arsenal spends in the coming weeks.

The chairman finished by saying that he had faith in the ‘young, talented players at the club’ to make sure that the second half to Arsenal’s season is a successful one. He also hinted that a couple of the younger players, who hadn’t been given much of a game as yet, will get their chance before long.

The fact that Arsenal have talented youngsters cannot be argued – everyone knows that. However, the team is in a situation right now where there is a distinct possibility that it could miss out on Champions League football next season. Is the young talent enough to get out of this predicament?

My personal opinion is that one or two big name signings wouldn’t do any harm. Even if it was the two players that have already been linked – Mikel Arteta and Shay Given. They would both provide valuable experience amongst the Arsenal team.

The thing is, £20m would be needed to prize these two away from their current clubs and going by what Hill-Wood has had to say – this just isn’t going to happen.

Anyway, enough about that! A more immediate issue is that of the FA Cup third round tie against Plymouth tomorrow. The Championship side travel to the Emirates in hope rather than expectation and in all honesty, it should be a comfortable win for Wenger’s men.

As Barnsley proved last season though, anything can happen in the FA Cup, so Arsenal shouldn’t take their opposition lightly. It should be treated like any other game and concentration levels should be as high as ever.

It will be interesting to see what team Wenger puts out, but I would imagine that it will be as strong as possible. Arsenal can’t afford to be knocked out at this stage, after all.

As far as the omens are concerned, everything is in favour of a home win. Plymouth have never beaten Arsenal, they have lost their last three away games and have failed to score in four on the road. Perhaps most significantly though, they lost to eventual winners Portsmouth last season – so perhaps that will happen again this year!

Let’s hope so. Arsenal fans could do with a trophy.