Arsenal have been accused of being easily bullied and lacking bottle at times, and they are points that are easy to understand. The addition of a tough tackling hard man to their midfield is something that has been suggested for quite a while now, and to some Arsenal fans the man to fill the role has emerged.
Newcastle United have decided to unload Joey Barton on a free transfer despite the fact that he still has a year left on his contract. He has pleaded his case on Twitter to anyone who will listen, and he claims the owner and the board have let the players and the fans down. There's probably some truth in what he says, but it looks like it will spell the end of his time at the club although he claims to love it and the fans too.
Some Arsenal fans are of the opinion that Arsenal should make a move for Barton, as his attitude and commitment on the field might install the fighting spirit which seems to be missing at times. I don't think Barton is a particularly bad footballer and he could possibly add the bit of bite that is missing at times, but in my opinion it would be a huge mistake for Arsenal to sign Barton. There is just no getting away from the person that he is, and I honestly believe it would damage the club to sign him.
I'm not going to link the YouTube footage of his assault on the man in Liverpool which got him a six month prison sentence, but I've seen it and there was nothing brave in what he did. He eventually only served 77 days for the offence, and he didn't get any further time to serve for the assault on Manchester City teammate Ousmane Dabo. Does a hard man attack a teammate from behind in training and almost gouge his eye out?
Even on the football pitch he has had his moments where he has shown his true colours, and lashed out at opponents. Ask Abu Diaby how he feels about Barton after the challenge by him on Diaby during Arsenal's 4-4 draw away to Newcastle last season. Diaby had no doubt that Barton was intentionally trying to seriously injure him, and he was absolutely right too.
I have no doubt that Arsenal could do with some bite at times, but that doesn't mean they should sign a player who will do nothing to further the aims of the club. I'm sure he would love a chance to play in the Champions League so that he can kick a better class of player than he is used to kicking. I would imagine Barton would be ideally suited to playing for Stoke City where he can showcase his talents at kicking and injuring opponents.
What sort of example would Arsenal be showing to their players and fans if they decided to sign a player with Barton's past, and who is to say his troubles with the law are behind him. If he is found guilty of yet another assault the chances are he will spend a much longer spell behind bars. For me the possibility that he could add something to the team is far outweighed by the prospect of him transgressing on or off the field yet again.
The Champions League third qualifying round finished last night, and Arsenal now know their potential opponents in the final qualifying round. The games will be played later this month, and Arsenal will play against either Rubin Kazan, Udinese, Odense, Twente or FC Zurich. None of those teams will be easy opponents for Arsenal, but I hope it's not going to be Rubin Kazan or Udinese.
No disrespect to the other three teams, but Arsenal would be clear favourites to beat all three of them over two legs. Udinese would be a tougher prospect, but Rubin Kazan could be a real banana skin for Arsenal. Their season started in March which means they should be in full flow already, and their performances over the past few years in the Champions League have been very good at times.
Arsenal have a poor record away from home in Eastern Europe, and they could really struggle against a Rubin Kazan team that play attractive football. Less than two years ago they managed an away win against the mighty Barcelona in their Champions League group, and they drew the home game against them as well. Arsenal will have to be at their very best in their second and fourth matches of the new season if they draw Rubin Kazan.
There's not an awful lot Arsenal fans can do but worry about who their potential opponents might be. With a home game in the Premier League sandwiched between those two games, and a trip to champions Manchester United afterwards it will certainly make for an interesting start to the season.
The club announced yesterday that Kyle Bartley had signed a new contract, and he's seen as a possible star of the future. He's a central defender and that's a position where Arsenal have struggled in recent seasons, but his chances may well be limited for a while yet if Arsenal manage to buy the defender they are chasing. He did well on loan to Rangers last season, and there is a possibility that he will spend another season on loan there or elsewhere.
Finally for today members day is taking place at the club and there is speculation that no team photo will be taken, as the future of too many players is in doubt. In particular Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri are by no means certain to be Arsenal players in the coming season, but also Nicklas Bendtner, Manuel Almunia and Emmanuel Eboue could be on their way out too. There were reports on Turkish TV last night that Eboue had agreed to join Galatasaray, and that both clubs had agreed a fee too.
I'm not Eboue's biggest fan and I don't think it would be bad business for Arsenal if they get the fee reported to be in the region of €4 million. It would leave the club in a break even situation so far this summer in the transfer market, but the real business has yet to be done. As the new season draws even closer that business looks like it will go right to the wire, and Arsenal will have to take their team photo for the new season on September 1st.
That's it for today.
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.
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Here's a look at one of Joey Barton's typical challenges.
See You Tomorrow.