Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Arsenal Get Their Man As Petr Cechs In

One of the worst kept secrets in football became a reality testerday when Petr Cech finally signed on the dotted line for Arsenal. They captured his services for an undisclosed fee believed to be in the region of £11 million on a long term contract.

Chelsea weren't overly anxious to let Cech go and Jose Mourinho was apparently not happy at all to see him join a rival. Cech thanked Roman Abramovic in particular for making the transfer happen and it looks like the owner is still making plenty of footballing decisions at Chelsea despite Mourinho's wishes. In one of those funny quirks of fate Cech's first proper game for Arsenal will more than likely be the Community Shield game against Chelsea.

It's great to see Arsenal doing business so early in the transfer window again and Cech's signature has to be seen as a real boost to their chances for next season. It also means the club probably have more keepers than they need and the chances are one of them will be on the way quite soon. There's plenty to be said for both David Ospina and Wojciech Szczesny, but it would seem Ospina looks the most likely to be on his way.

He took over as the first choice keeper in January after Szczesny had a poor game against Southampton and was caught smoking in the showers. He only arrived last summer though and played well after getting his chance, but he might not want to play second fiddle to Cech. If Arsenal are going to cash in on Ospina they might have chosen a good time to get the maximum price after his excellent displays for Colombia in the Copa America. 

I've said before that I'm not sure if Cech is that much better than either Ospina or Szczesny and isn't as good as he was a few years ago. I could be wrong of course, but ever since his head injury inflicted upon him by Stephen Hunt I have thought he lost something in his game. I don't think he's as quick to come off his line as he used to be and he's not as commanding on crosses either. I'm no expert though and I look forward to him proving me completely and utterly wrong as he excels in goal and helps Arsenal to win more trophies.

He already has plenty of winners medals from his 11 years at Chelsea and he's very close to setting a record of his own. I think he needs three more clean sheets in the Premier League to beat the record currently held by David James and it shouldn't take him too long to overtake him. He's still only 33 and goalkeepers tend to improve with age so he has plenty of years in goal for Arsenal ahead of him.

There's still plenty of work for Arsenal to do in the transfer market this summer of course, but the signs are very promising. Cech has arrived nice and early and it gives the club plenty of time to concentrate on their other targets. As players start to move from one club to another there is always a knock on effect and hopefully some of Arsenal's targets will be available sooner rather than later. I could almost write a book on the amount of players linked with the club at the moment, but only time will tell who the real targets are and whether Arsenal can acquire their services or not.

That's it for today.

See you tomorrow.

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Arsenal Still Await Cech Arrival With Schneiderlin Set To Follow Him

It's been a week since I wrote about the latest wheelings and dealings for Arsenal this summer and in truth nothing concrete has actually happened. There is money available to strengthen the squad, but players will have to leave to make way for any new arrivals. As always the rumour mill has been in full swing and it's not easy to separate the club's actual targets from the host of made up stories.

It does look as if the Petr Cech rumours are true though and it seems to be just a matter of time before he signs on the dotted line. A keeper of his experience will be a great addition to the squad, but it could lead to the exit of one of the other keepers. At the moment the rumour mill would suggest David Ospina is the most likely suspect to exit, but it would be strange if Arsenal sold him only a year after signing him.

I'm not sure if the current version of Cech is as good as he was a few years ago and whether he's a better option in goal than either Ospina or Wojciech Szczesny. He is proven at the very top though and has a list of medals as long as his arm to go with it too. Ex Arsenal players are queueing up to declare what a great signing he would be and the general consensus would seem to be that he's the top class keeper Arsenal have needed for many seasons.

With the Cech deal almost tied up the emphasis seems to be shifting to Morgan Schneiderlin and his possible arrival. Yet again he fits the bill for what Arsenal require and it would make sense for both the player and Arsenal if he was to join them. He won't come cheaply though and Arsenal will have to see off competition for his signature from plenty of other clubs if they're going to get their man.

The emergence of Francis Coquelin has made the necessity for a player like Schneiderlin not quite so important with Mikel Arteta hopefully back to full fitness next season too. I think there would be room in the Arsenal team for both Coquelin and Schneiderlin on occasions and he would certainly make the squad stronger. With trophies to be chased on all fronts next season I think it would make perfect sense to being Schneiderlin or a similar player in.

As usual there are plenty of stories linking Arsenal players with exits and the latest player is Laurent Koscielny. If the rumours are to be believed Real Madrid are the latest club to show an interest in the player I consider to be Arsenal's best and most important defender. It wouldn't make any sense at all for Arsenal to sell Koscielny and I would be very surprised if they were to even consider an offer for him.

The rumours of a Manchester City bid for Jack Wilshere still persist and talk of an exit for Theo Walcott won't go away either until he signs a new contract. I would be more than surprised if Arsenal had any intention of letting either player go despite the fact that their chances could be limited at times next season. They both have an awful lot to offer the team and it would cost so much more to replace them than Arsenal could expect to get for either player.

It's quite possible that Lukas Podolski could be on his way out though to make way for new players despite declaring his intention to stay at the club. I think it's more likely for him to be sold while both Yaya Sanogo and Carl Jenkinson look like spending more time out on loan this coming season. Premier League clubs are apparently lining up to borrow Jenkinson who I see as more likely to have a long term future at the club than Sanogo who looks more likely to spend his proposed loan spell abroad.

Finally for today I think it's about time I announced the winner of the competition I ran last week for a copy of Football Manager 2015. The lucky winner was Shaurya Vineet who will be hearing from me shortly in order to claim the prize. Thanks to everybody who entered the competition and read the review of the game by the guest reviewer (my son).

That's it for today.

See you tomorrow.

Friday, 19 June 2015

Arsenal Latest on Wilshere, Cech And More

Another day has gone by and despite the continued speculation Arsenal still haven't added to their squad for next season. There were a couple of exits though with Ryo Myachi joining St. Pauli and Semi Ajayi on his way to Cardiff City. Neither player managed to make the grade at Arsenal despite the promise they showed, but hopefully they will go on to have good careers elsewhere.

They won't be the only departures this summer and it looks like a few players could be on their way out quite soon. Lukas Podolski was loaned out to Inter Milan for the second half of last season and it looks like he could be the first one to move with Galatasaray looking favourites to sign him at the moment. He's done well at times for Arsenal, but I don't think he really reached the heights we would have hoped for in his time at the club and it's probably best that he moves on at this stage.

Another player who could be playing elsewhere next season is Joel Campbell whose future looks to be at another club despite signing a new contract last season. He has been loaned out for most of his time as an Arsenal player and it looks like his next move might be a permanent one. At the moment Real Sociedad looks like the most likely destination for his talents, but there's still quite a while to go before the transfer window closes.

Surprisingly the latest player to be talked about in terms of an exit is David Ospina who is currently Arsenal's first choice goalkeeper. If the rumours are to be believed Peter Cech is on the verge of joining the club and his arrival will signal the departure of Ospina only a year after he joined. I'm not sure how much there is to these rumours and it would seem strange for Arsenal to sell their first choice keeper only a year after signing him.

However, Cech would surely usurp Ospina if he does join the club and Arsene Wenger is known to rate Wojciech Szczesny highly despite the problems he's had. At the moment it's all pure speculation, but it does all sound very believable and who's to say it won't happen. He could continue the exodus of Arsenal players to Turkey with Fenerbahce currently the supposed pacesetters in the race to sign him.

The Cech rumours just won't go away and it looks as if he's as good as an Arsenal player with just a few "i's" to be dotted and "t's" to be crossed before the deal is done. We've been here far too often with other players of course and nothing is guaranteed until we see it on the club site. I'm still not 100% convinced Cech is as good as he used to be, but he is still probably better than any of the current options Arsenal have in goal.

The final Arsenal transfer story of the day was the apparent bid from Manchester City for Jack Wilshere. If the stories are to be believed City have moved for Wilshere after having their offers for Raheem Sterling turned down. They need to boost their quota of English players and Wilshere certainly fits the bill on that count, but they surely don't have a hope of getting him.

Wilshere has spent far too much time on the treatment table in recent seasons and he needs to get a long run in the team so he can show what he can do on a permanent basis. I can't see Arsenal having an interest in selling the future of the team and the fact Wilshere was just fined £40,000 by the FA for taking the piss out of Spurs tells you all you need to know about his desire to play for Arsenal. The only way I could see him leaving is if the club accept an offer and make it obvious they don't want him, but that's not going to happen.

That's it for today.

See you tomorrow.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Arsenal Transfer Latest, Fixtures And New Away Kit

Yesterday was a busy day for Arsenal news with the continued transfer rumours involving Peter Cech in particular and others too. Added to that the Premier League fixtures for next season were released and we got a sneaky look at what appears to be the new away shirt for next season. Just to finish things off we were also treated to a very wealthy Nigerian businessman claiming he intends to buy the club in the not too distant future.

First things first though and despite all of the speculation Cech is still a Chelsea player. He's no longer their first choice keeper though and it looks like he wants to go elsewhere to continue his career. Of course Arsenal aren't the only team chasing a keeper of Cech's undoubted talent and he has his choice of clubs to join.

The story goes that his family are happy in London and he wants to stay there which gives Arsenal the upper hand. Jose Mourinho doesn't want to sell him to a rival though and apparently he wants Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to go in the opposite direction for the deal to go through. I would be shocked if Arsenal even considered that option and they would be better off without Cech if it's a deal breaker.

If the bookies are to be believed Cech is as good as an Arsenal player already as they have stopped taking bets, but we've seen that far too often before without the deal happening. I'll be delighted if Arsenal do sign Cech, but he should only be the first of three or four players the squad needs to have added to it this season. 

The launch of the new home kit went very well this week and now the supposed new away kit has been leaked for all to see. It's a nice looking gold colour and I must say I have some very fond memories of the last time Arsenal had a gold coloured away kit. Have a look for yourselves and see what you think.



In other news Jack Wilshere was given a £40,000 fine by the FA for telling the truth about Spurs, but he didn't receive a ban. I wonder if he might have been banned for a few games if he hadn't scored two goals and put in a man of the match performance for England on Sunday. He'll have to be careful about his conduct in future and keep his opinions on Spurs to himself.

The Nigerian businessman who has his eye on Arsenal is said to be worth £11.5 billion and says he will have the time and resources to mount a bid once he has completed his oil refinery. He goes by the name of Aliko Dangote and apparently he showed an interest in buying a fair chunk of the club a few years ago, but baulked at the price. He's supposedly been an Arsenal fan since the 80s and he says he wants to stop the policy of producing players and selling them on.

Maybe he hasn't kept a close eye on the club recently, but the last time I checked Arsenal were keeping their best players and investing heavily in world class players to improve the team. Anyway he won't be buying too much of the club if Silent Stan decides to keep a hold of his shares and he's not the first person to try to prise them from him. I can't say I'm overly impressed with the current owners, but I would also say that it's better the devil you know and who knows where a new owner might bring the club in either direction.

Finally for today the Premier League fixtures for next season have been released and Arsenal will open their account at home to West Ham on the weekend beginning on Saturday August 8th. It's only just over seven weeks away and there's an awful lot of toing and froing in the transfer market to go through before that game. Some other notable fixtures are a game at home to Liverpool in the third round of games, a trip to Chelsea in mid September, a game at home to United in early October, the first North London derby at home in early November with City at home just before Christmas.

With so many of those games at home in the first half of the season it means Arsenal will have some tough away games in the second half. If they're to win the league none of that makes too much difference though, but a good start would certainly be so much better than last season. The league season will end at home to Villa in May and hopefully that's a sign after last season finished on such a high against them.

That's it for today.

See you tomorrow.