Friday, August 1, 2014

Arsenal Update Ahead of The Emirates Cup

It's been a while since I wrote anything about Arsenal which means I have a bit of catching up to do. Since my last piece Arsenal have signed three more players and got their pre season schedule underway with a friendly in New York. This weekend they return home from training in Austria to play in the Emirates Cup along with Benfica, Monaco and Valencia.

With the marquee signing of Alexis Sanchez already wrapped up Arsenal then purchased Mathieu Debuchey from Newcastle to replace the departed Bacary Sagna. His signature was followed earlier this week by two new arrivals in two days with Colombian World Cup goalkeeper David Ospina arriving on Sunday from Nice and then Calum Chambers arriving from Southampton the next day.

With Lukas Fabianski departing the club another keeper was needed and Ospina certainly fits the mould. Wojciech Szczesny will remain the first choice, but Ospina is good enough to put him under real pressure and keep him on his toes. It leaves Arsene Wenger with two very good keepers to choose from and can only be a good thing for the team.

Chambers is still very young and has only played a few Premier League games for Southampton, but Arsenal have spent quite a lot of money on him. I know it costs more to buy English players and that will certainly have added to his price, but it is a bit of a gamble signing Chambers. He's seen as a right back at the moment but it's thought he can play as a central defender or even a holding midfielder.

With the German trio not returning to training for another couple of weeks and Thomas Vermaelen seemingly not involved in pre season training Chambers might get a chance to show what he can do as a central defender this weekend. His arrival has seen Carl Jenkinson loaned out to West Ham and that loan will hopefully be a good thing for him. The arrivals of Debuchey and Chambers would limit his chances this season, but he might get the chance to progress if he can cement a place in the West Ham team.

The first friendly game of the pre season was away to the New York Red Bulls last Saturday and it ended with a 1-0 defeat for Arsenal. It might have been an away game, but the stadium was full of Arsenal fans as they made their way from near and far in America to see the team we all love. Arsenal hadn't played in the States in 25 years, but hopefully their next trip over there will be a lot sooner with their support growing so quickly on the far side of the pond.

The game itself was nothing much to write home about and the most interesting thing for me was to be able to watch it on a free app on my ipad. I was able to watch it on TV through Apple TV and hopefully I can see any games which aren't available live through this app from here on. Pre season games are all about building fitness and there's still a lot of work to be done on that front with the season just over two weeks away.

Things should be a little more competitive this weekend in the Emirates Cup with Arsenal playing Benfica on Saturday and Monaco on Sunday. There's still a few players to return but the chances are the fans will get their first sight of all four new signings at some stage over the two games. I can't wait to see Sanchez in particular and I think he's going to be a very important player for the team this season.

It's still possible there will be more arrivals before the transfer window closes in a month's time, but it's good to have so much of the transfer business done already. If the rumours are to be believed Arsenal are still in the market for a big signing and it's a pleasant change to see so much investment in the team/squad. As it stands only Chelsea and Liverpool have spent more money than Arsenal and they have both taken in a lot more than Arsenal from the sale of players.

Finally for today I'm running my league in Fantasy Premier League yet again this season and there will be a prize of €50 for the winner once the league reaches 1,000 teams. It's already over half way there and I'm very confident it will surpass the magical 1,000 mark. To join just go to the site and use the code 13125-4843 to join my league once your team is set up.

That's it for today.

See you tomorrow.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Play Fantasy Premier League

The World Cup has just finished but already it's only just over four weeks to the first Premier League game of the new season. With the return of the Premier League we can also welcome back Fantasy Premier League and look forward to another season of the ups and downs of fantasy management. It certainly adds an awful lot of interest to games when you have a stake in the performances of players.

As usual I'll be running my own league yet again and I'll be hoping to have well over 1,000 players in it yet again. There was a €50 prize for the winner of my league last season and that money went to Goran Ivanoski in Macedonia who got his payment through Western Union. Unfortunately I won't be able to offer a cash prize this season after Google decided to remove the ads from my blog unless I can come up with a sponser for the league or the blog.

It's not all about the money anyway and the thrill of playing the game is more than enough for most players. I managed to finish just inside the top 15,000 players overall last season out of well over 2 million players which wasn't too bad. I hope to do even better this season and go all out to try to win my own league.

I'll also be running a head to head league again which is limited to 20 teams and mirrors the Premier League with each team playing each other home and away over the season. I won my head to head league last season and anyone who wants to join in can contact me through Twitter to do so. With all of the players in the league on Twitter I try to post the fixtures every week and get a little interaction going.

I will also be running my predictions league again when the competition starts up and of course I'll be doing my Premier League predictions blog every week too. In that blog I take a look at players who might be good fantasy buys or might be a good choice as fantasy captain as well as predicting the scoreline of every single Premier League game over the season. 

It all adds up to an awful lot of work on my part but I wouldn't have it any other way. You can join my fantasy league on the official site with the code 13125-4843 to join the league after you have picked a team. With unlimited free transfers until the season begins there's no reason not to start tinkering with your team already. Over the next few weeks I'll run through each of the teams and which players I think might be good buys for fantasy managers.

That's it for today.

See you tomorrow.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Arsenal Sign Alexis Sanchez

I must be dreaming after seeing the news last night that Arsenal have signed Alexis Sanchez from Barcelona. It's not that I didn't think he was going to sign, but it's only the middle of July and it's far too early for Arsenal to splash their cash. Seriously though I have to say I was thrilled to see the news and it's a huge boost for the club.

Sanchez has the ability to play in any of the front three positions and he will be a huge asset to the team. The thought of a team containing Sanchez, Theo Walcott, Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey should strike fear into any opponent and rightly so. The attacking ability of those players is sensational and I can't wait to see all of them together in the team.

Sanchez has shown for both Barcelona and Chile that he has the ability and drive to compete with the very best at the highest level and his signing is great news for Arsenal fans. It also lays down a marker about the club's intentions and shows they are prepared to spend money to make the team better. Arsenal have a reputation for not spending big, but they have spent the largest amount of any Premier League club on any single player so far this summer and have two of the top six Premier League transfers of all time.

Sanchez's arrival will hopefully be the first of many this summer and it will surely help to attract other players to the club. Who wouldn't want to play in a team with Sanchez, Ozil, Ramsey and Walcott as attacking players and who have Champions League football coming up this season once they make it through the final qualifying round (fingers crossed). The team needs strengthening in defence though and a defensive midfielder needs to be added along with another striker too.

The signing couldn't have come on a better day for the club with the launch of the new kit by Puma after the deal with Nike came to an end. Arsenal are reported to be getting £150 million over the next five years from the deal and have already invested some of that money in Sanchez. His fee is believed to be in the region of £35 million, but half of that fee was recuperated with money received from add ons on both Cesc Fabregas and Carlos Vela.

The pictures of the new kit are pretty impressive and they should go down a treat with fans. Here's a look at new signing Sanchez in that Arsenal kit and a few others to go with it. 

Yesterday can only be described as a great day to be an Arsenal fan with a top class player choosing to join them despite interest from a host of other clubs. With the FA Cup sitting in the trophy cabinet and the funds there to make the team genuine challengers next season things are looking up. Hopefully those players will arrive pretty soon and the squad will be complete well before the season starts.

That's it for today.

See you tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Three Arsenal Players On Their Way To The World Cup Final

When the World Cup started there were 11 Arsenal players in the tournament and that figure has now dropped to three players who will play in the final. There's still one semi final to go, but there's no Arsenal players in either the Dutch or Argentinian squads and it's left to their three German players to compete in the ultimate game of the tournament. That game will be on Sunday night when Germany take on the winners of the game between The Netherlands and Argentina.

Germany progressed to the final last night with a stunning 7-1 victory over Brazil and are surely going to be favourites no matter who they will play on Sunday. Mesut Ozil was the only one of the three Arsenal players in the German squad to start in a rampant German team, but Per Mertesacker came on for the second half. Lukas Podolski sat the game out again and his chances have been very limited at this World Cup.

Many critics have been unimpressed with Ozil's performances, but I think he has been an important part of a dominant German team. He has started every game and created many chances for team mates, but most of those chances were not taken. His only goal so far came in the last 16 win over Algeria, but he really should have put Germany 8-0 up against Brazil just moments before the hosts scored their consolation goal. He made a great run to get on to a through ball, but he put the ball wide of the far post with only the keeper to beat.

Mertesacker started all of the group games and the last 16 game too, but he lost his place against France after a bout of illness. He was on the bench again last night and the chances are he will be on the bench in the final too. 

From an Arsenal perspective it's great to see three of their players in the World Cup final, but it also means those players will be back to pre season training very late. The players who didn't make it to the World Cup started their pre season training this week and the first real game of the new season is less than six weeks away. By the time the World Cup final is over there will be less than five weeks to Arsenal's first league game and less than four weeks to their Community Shield game with City.

Straight after Arsenal's first league game the team will have a Champions League qualifier and those World Cup final participants might not be back in time to be ready for those games. If they don't get a proper break this summer it will affect their season and could lead to fatigue or injuries. The team might suffer a little at the start of the season as a result, but it has to be for the better in the long term.

It's great to see the pictures of the players back in training (see below) and even though I'm enjoying a fantastic World Cup there is nothing better in football terms than watching Arsenal. Hopefully there will be quite a few additions to the squad over the next few weeks in plenty of time for the new arrivals to settle in and play a part from day one. Mathieu Debuchey looks almost certain to join very soon at this stage and hopefully Alexis Sanchez won't be too far behind him.

Once the World Cup final is over on Sunday the focus will switch back to the domestic game and Arsenal will be top of the agenda again. Hopefully three of the Arsenal squad will have nice shiny winners medals to show off to their team mates along with the FA Cup winners medals from last May. 

That's it for today.

See you tomorrow.