With the new season eventually getting close enough to actually get excited about, there are few interesting items to report on Arsenal. Since I last wrote about my favourite subject Arsenal have won their latest preseason friendly 2-1 away to FC Cologne. Like most preseason games it was only an exercise in fitness for the players, and also a chance for them to start regaining their sharpness ahead of the big kick off.
There were some real positives in the game for Arsenal in my opinion, and the performances of Gervinho, Jack Wilshere and Thomas Vermaelen were the real bright spots for me. Gervinho only played for the first 30 minutes of the game, but he took his two goals very well and he looked like he really has something to offer to the team. Both Wilshere and Vermaelen showed enough for me to hope they will be the driving forces in the Arsenal team this season.
Since last weekend Arsenal have finally managed to sell a player, but it wasn't the expected sale of Manuel Almunia or Nicklas Bendtner. Jay Emmanuel Thomas has left the club to join Ipswich Town in a deal believed to be worth around €1 million. There is no doubt that JET is a very good technical player, but his attitude has often been called into question.
He never really got the chances that he might have hoped for in the Arsenal team, but he spent plenty of time on loan at other teams over the last few seasons. In those loan spells he showed what he is capable of on occasions, but he also showed a side to his game which possibly convinced Arsene Wenger it was time to sell him. I thought he might have got a run in the Arsenal team early last season when Arsenal had mounting injury problems, and he was scoring goals for the reserves for fun.
It would appear his attitude just wasn't right at the time, and he got no more than a few minutes here and there as a substitute. That left him with very little opportunity to make the impact he looked very capable of making. From an Arsenal point of view I hope he isn't the first of the youngsters sold to come back and haunt Arsenal.
Besides the exit of JET it looked as if Emmanuel Eboue might be on his way to Galatasaray, but according to the latest reports the Turkish club are unwilling to meet Arsenal's valuation. I have never been a fan of Eboue, and I think Arsenal should be happy to get any fee for him as well as saving his annual wages of over €2 million. Besides the controversy of his non performance against Wigan Athletic a couple of seasons ago, I just don't think he's good enough to play at the highest level.
His tendencies to dive, feign injury, and go missing at vital times have cost Arsenal on swveral occasions. He is seen as the back up to Bacary Sagna at right back, but from what I have seen so far Carl Jenkinson would be my prefered option for that role. He may be only 19 years old with very limited experience, but his fundamentals as a defender already look better than those of Eboue.
Continuing the possible exits from Arsenal is Henri Lansbury (thanks to arseblog news)who looks like he might be on his way to Norwich City very soon. He impressed on loan as they gained promotion last season, but Arsenal's glut of midfielders could severely limit his chances of a breakthrough at the club. He's a player I have always rated, but he has only one year left on his contract and he probably won't sign another one without a real chance of playing first team football.
It would also appear that Nicklas Bendtner has finally managed to decide which club he is joining with Arseblog News reporting he will be unveiled by Sporting Lisbon on Saturday. Bendtner has always managed to score goals when he has played in a central role for Arsenal without ever really being convincing. He has huge belief in his own ability, and I'm sure he will do well in Portugal.
I saw him miss an absolute hat full of chances against Burnley in the league a couple of seasons ago, and I was utterly convinced after the game that he was useless. He went on to score a hat trick in the Champions League against Porto only a few days later just to prove how unpredictable he can be. I still think his FA Cup goal against Ipswich Town last season was Arsenal's best goal of the season.
If Bendtner is sold he won't be directly replaced, but new signing Gervinho can play in any of the front three positions and has been very impressive so far in training. As well as that he also took his two goals against FC Cologne very well last Saturday, and I can't wait to see more of him in an Arsenal shirt. That chance should come this weekend when Arsenal play both Boca Juniors and New York Red Bulls in the Emirates Cup.
Those games will be Arsenal's first ones at home so far in the build up to the new season, and it will be good to see how Gervinho plays in the wide open spaces of the Emirates pitch. The tournament will also see the return of Arsenal legend Thierry Henry, and I have no doubt that the home fans will give him a fantastic ovation. He is Arsenal's all time record goalscorer, and he has always expressed his love for the club even when he left to play elsewhere.
All of that transfer news comes in the wake of the announcement from the club that Denilson has left the club to play for Sao Paulo on loan for the coming season. In my opinion he won't be missed, as I never really rated him as good enough to play for Arsenal either. He will be back at the end of the season I'm sure, but hopefully the pace of the game in Brazil will suit him and he will be sold to them next summer.
All of the transfer activity should make some room in the squad, and hopefully Arsene Wenger can find the players Arsenal need to fill those gaps. The usual rumours persist about defenders, but the only real possibility of a player coming in at the moment seems to Juan Mata from Valencia. If the rumours are to be believed he will sign within the next couple of days.
If Mata does sign it will of course increase the speculation of the sales of either Cesc Fabregas or Samir Nasri, or possibly even both of them. I sincerely hope Cesc stays, but it is anybody's guess which shirt he will be wearing by the start of the season. Nasri is a different matter, as he enters the final year of his contract with Arsenal deciding not to sell him.
It's a huge gamble for Arsenal to keep Nasri, as he could command a fee of roughly €20 million at the moment, but the club not a receive a red cent for him next summer if he still refuses to sign the contract offered to him. The patience of the Arsenal fans has grown very thin with Nasri, and he might not get a good reception from them this weekend. Once a player loses the support of the fans life can become very difficult for him at any club.
Arsenal would not be Arsenal without injuries, and with the new season still two weeks away they are already mounting. Theo Walcott was flown home from Germany with yet another ankle problem, and the club are waiting to hear the full extent of his injury at the moment. It's not a good start to the new season for Walcott, and his reputation as an injury prone player is well earned.
Conor Henderson injured his cruciate ligaments against FC Cologne last Saturday, and it looks like his season might be over before it even begins. This coming season was seen as the possible breakthrough season for Henderson, but he will have to put his hopes on hold for another season at least. His injury reminds me of a very similar situation which Emmanuel Frimpong went throughthis time last year, and he has only just returned to the squad now.
There is no further word on the injuries to both Abu Diaby and Armand Traore, but it doesn't look like either player will be available for the start of the season. It's hardly surprising with Diaby's injury record, but Traore was supposed to be second choice left back this season after the sale of Gael Clichy. It means Arsenal are only an injury to injury prone Kieran Gibbs away from playing Thomas Vermaelen at left back.
If Vermaelen has to play in that position it also means they are very close to playing Sebastien Squillaci as a central defender. The thought of Squillaci playing scares me, and another central defender has to be a priority. Hopefully there is plenty of work going on behind the scenes, and the Arsenal fans will get the player they want very soon.
Finally for today Cesc is still not fit enough to play in the Emirates Cup this weekend which has of course fuelled the rumours of his imminent transfer to Barcelona. There are also rumours of him refusing to play again for Arsenal, but I severely doubt there is any truth in them. The ball is firmly in Barcelona's court, and they can have their man if they offer the market value for him.
As it stands they have offered a lot less than his true worth, and the situation hs dragged on for far too long. Cesc's complete silence on the matter hasn't helped, but as Arsenal captain he will be at the Emirates Cup this weekend I'm sure. Hopefully the chance to mingle with his teammates again will encourage him to stay at the club for at least one more year.
That's it for today.
Here's the highlights from Saturday's win in Cologne with thanks to 101greatgoals as always.
See You Tomorrow.
Finally for today this season's Fantasy Premier League is up and running again. My league has almost 100 teams in it already, but I will welcome any new teams. Just go to the site and use the code 125540-42785 to join my league when your team is set up.
If you have any problems don't hesitate to contact me, and I will do what I can to help. Any teams in the league last season should automatically be included this season, as soon as they set up heir team. Good luck if you're taking part, and remember I will have prizes for the top three finishers at the end of the season.
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