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Not goodbye, just relocating.

Hello everyone and happy… erm… Wednesday. As most of you have probably noticed, there hasn’t been much in the way of general blogging from me recently and that’s because, to put it simply, I’ve been busy. I’m going to uni this year and I really won’t have the time to blog regularly. Fear not though, there’s a solution!

What is that solution you ask? I’ll tell you. It’s Mikel Arteta’s Small Feet! Or to put it better, it’s this: http://mikelartetassmallfeet.wordpress.com/. I’ll be blogging when I have time there, with the very talented Tom Pyman and Reece… Simo…something. Anyway, it’s all kicking off there so however you follow this blog, be sure to follow MASF! You can also MASF on twitter @MASFBlog. As always, you can find me on twitter @SavageGooner as well.

Fare thee well chums.

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My European Dream Team – Emmet McEvoy

Once again, we’re back for another instalment of ‘My European Dream Team’. A series where young guest writers are invited to write about their European ‘dream team’. The fourth in the series, this time we have Emmet McEvoy who has selected 11 players from across Europe to play together. 

Without further ado, here’s the man himself:

For my dream team I’ve decided to focus on the best young players in the European game. (By young I mean under 25 years of age at the time of writing.) I’ve gone for a 4-4-1-1 formation, relying on the old cliché, ‘attack is the best form of defence.’

Goalkeeper: Wojciech Szczesny

Not the hardest choice. Commanding, superb reflexes, very good in a physical battle. Of course he has his minor glitches, but that’s to be expected for a goalkeeper of that age. He has plenty of time on his side to iron them out and I expect him to go on to be one of the world’s best.

RB: Kyle Walker

A Tottenham player. I know. But I was trying to be unbiased. Last season was his big breakthrough and, I must admit, he impressed me. Good at the back and down the wing, he chips in with goals too (as his goalkeeper in this team will testify, unfortunately).

CB: Mats Hummels

One of the best young defenders in the game at the moment, he reputation enhanced by two title-winning seasons with Borussia Dortmund. He’s particularly good at reading the game, comfortable on the ball and strong in the air as well. An easy pick.

CB: Nevan Subotic

This one was trickier. There are a number of candidates but I’ve gone for Subotic on the basis of his chemistry with Hummels and success with Dortmund. Very good in the air and an excellent tackler, he compliments his defensive partner perfectly.

LB: Jordi Alba

Alba made himself known to a larger audience after some impressive displays at Euro 2012, bagging himself a move to Barcelona in the process. A good defender who’s very keen to attack, chips in with the odd goal and a very good crosser.

RM: Eden Hazard

Not the most popular of players due to his attitude, but in terms of ability he’d walk into most teams in the world. A creative, versatile player with a keen eye for goal, we’ll soon see how he adapts to the Premier League. Nonetheless, an easy choice.

CM: Jack Wilshere

Jack. Boy, did we miss him last season. Classy, creative, gritty, hard-working, a leader even at the age of 20; a lynchpin in the centre of the midfield. His defensive contribution is key in this team. Absolutely top class and was the first name on this team sheet.

CM: Christian Eriksen

One of the game’s most coveted players. The creative force that landed Ajax the Dutch League title last season. Possesses the skill to beat any defender and has a good goal and assists ratio. Expect to see him in the Premier League in the future.

LM: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

OK, I may have been biased here. He hasn’t nailed down a regular spot in Arsenal’s first team but he’s shown he has the quality to play at the highest level. Insanely fast, he loves to take on his man and scores goals as well as setting them up. A versatile player who can play in the centre as well as on the wing. Going to be world-class in the coming years.

CAM: Mario Goetze

The German Messi, according to a certain Mr. Beckenbauer. Another of the game’s most coveted players. Composed on the ball, skilful, bags plenty of goals and assists. Injury cut short his season last year but another player that would walk into most teams in the world. In this team he’ll play the #10 role, just in behind the striker.

ST: Sergio Aguero

Easy choice. He took to the Premier League like a house on fire and his goals played a massive part in Man City’s title win. Deadly from close range, great from long-range too. Likes to run at defenders and sets up goals for others as well. The only surprise is that he’s only 24, it seems like he’s been around forever!

So there we have it. I have a few honourable mentions for the likes of Shaqiri, Reus, Badstuber, Varane who would definitely be included if it was an 18-man squad.

Enjoyed the article? Well, you can follow Emmet on twitter @emmetmcevoy. 

My European Dream Team – Joe Tilley

Now, remember there’s a little series going on where guest writers are invited to put forward what would be their “dream team” consisting of only European players? Well, here’s the third in the series, where Joe Tilley has selected eleven players – all from Europe – to play together in his dream team. 

As you may know, if you’ve been following him on twitter, Joe Tilley is an Arsenal fan. He’s a smart lad. And at 15 years old, I think he’s the chosen one. So, without further ado, I present to you, Joe Tilley’s European Dream Team:

Formation – 4-4-2

Yeah, I’m a traditionalist. My European dream team will be structured with a classic four four two style that seems to be a dying art in modern day football. If it worked for decades before all this tampering and tinkering with formations, why swap now? Anyways, I’m moving off the point. As one of the younger footballing fans, my European dream team will mainly consist of players from the last ten years, so don’t blow a fuse when you see I haven’t included Platini or Cruyff.

GK – Gigi Buffon

There isn’t really any other choice is there? Growing up, there was no room for debate about the best goalkeeper in the world. It was always Buffon and he was so good, no other team in the world could even dream of prising him away for Juventus. It’s only in the last few years with the true globalisation of football on television and in the media that I have been able to appreciate his talents as one of the best shot stoppers in the world and placing anyone else in the goalkeeping slot for a dream team would just feel wrong. Except one Martin Fulop perhaps.

RB – Philipp Lahm

The suitably nicknamed ‘Magic Dwarf’ who is still only 28, is undoubtedly one of the finest full-backs the modern game has witnessed. He combines tough, precise tackling with an impressive ability to attack and score goals a striker would be proud of and he has the enviable habit of producing it in major international tournaments. The Bayern Munich captain, who I’m still not sure of where his natural position is, was in the team of the tournament for both the 2006 and 2010 world cups and has helped Germany develop in to the frightening force they are today. Honourable mentions go to Bacary Sagna, who just missed out.

CB – Laurent Koscielny

So some of my Arsenal bias will seep through a little here, but I don’t believe the affectionately nicknamed ‘Bosscielny’ would look out of place in a star-studded line up like this. The French centre back has improved leaps and bounds in the past year after the horrors of the Carling Cup final to become one of the best centre backs in the league. He is quick, strong and has become a master in the art of last ditch challenges. It’s no surprise Barcelona are rumoured to be interested in his services but thankfully, he looks all but set to secure a three year contract extension. [Since Joe wrote this piece, Koscielny has actually extended his contract]

CB – John Terry

So this will be a controversial one. Off the pitch he may be an adulterer. On the pitch he has been accused (do I have to say wrongfully now?) of racist comments. However, footballing wise, he is a fantastic defender. Regardless of your opinion of John Terry, he always gives 100% for his side and his ability to read and intercept play is admirable. He shines in what is now an average Chelsea defence and I thought he was terrific at the Euros for England alongside Joleon Lescott and no matter how he will be remembered for his off field antics, he will always have to be regarded as a top notch defender. I still despise him though, of course.

LB – Ashley Cole

Again, this could be controversial. The man hated by the majority of Arsenal fans because he ‘nearly crashed his car when only offered £35,000 a week’ isn’t the most popular of figures in football but he is still a brilliant footballer. He is one of the few full backs to consistently deliver for club and country and although he normally makes the headlines for all the wrong reasons, his commitment and ability on the pitch should not be overlooked. He is, in my opinion, the best left-back in the world at this moment in time.

RM – Luis Figo

Before the horrific television advertisements, Luis Figo was actually a half decent footballer. I am lucky to remember seeing glimpses of him at his best and his ability at times was second to none on a football pitch. The ex footballer of the year was the pin up boy for Portuguese football and his impressive career saw him pull on the shirt of both Real Madrid and Barcelona. Skilful, a pin-point passer and at times an incredible finisher. A phenomenal player.

CM – Patrick Vieira

Before his switch to the dark side at Manchester City, Patrick was an Arsenal legend and some of my earliest footballing memories are him running the show in the invincible season. The man who joined Arsene Wenger’s French revolution at Arsenal was immensely talented with a surprising amount of pace in his prime, combined with superb vision and a cracking shot. It’s a shame injuries and fatigue took a toll on his career so early but nevertheless, he was a stunning player.

CM – Cesc Fabregas

Again, of course I am biased but Cesc Fabregas is without a doubt the best player I have ever seen live. He sees thing no one else in the stands, let alone on the pitch, sees and despite the disappointing way he left Arsenal, I will never stop admiring him as a footballer. His commitment and performances never wavered from top class and now seeing him do so well for Barcelona almost makes me feel proud. A poster boy for the current brand of Spanish football and a player I will never tire of watching.

LM – Cristiano Ronaldo

After some deliberation, I opted not to punt for Stewart Downing and instead for Cristiano Ronaldo. I couldn’t really leave him out. As a footballer he has everything. Pace, strength, skill and just as much arrogance to go along with it. Not the most liked player in football but the fact he gets mentioned in the same breath as Lionel Messi for the best player in the world is a credit to him. Since his mega move to Madrid he has come on leaps and bounds and he is probably the biggest factor that contributed to their league win last season. A phenomenal player who will most likely continue to improve.

ST – Antonio Di Natale

I am a firm believer in the idea that your striker is the player whose sole objective to score goals. I don’t think they should drop deep and look to join in the midfield battle. No. In my traditional 4-4-2, strikers will remain as strikers and I don’t think there is any other striker in the world more deadly in front of goal than Di Natale. The man who has 135 goals in 264 league appearances has a lethal eye for goal that all young players should aspire to replicate. Even at the ripe old age of 34, he is capable of changing a game in an instant as he showed with his beautifully taken goal at Euro 2012 against Spain. A great, great striker.

ST – Thierry Henry

Of course he had to be here. The man I worshipped growing up and in my view, easily the best Premier League striker ever. Pace, power, skill, vision, finishing. There was nothing to fault about Henry’s game when he was at his prime. The winger turned striker was the figurehead for a superb Arsenal side in the early 2000s and he scored some of the best goals I have ever seen. His cameo return to Arsenal in 2012 further enhanced his legend status and reinforced the idea that he is one of the best players English football has ever seen. Nothing will ever beat the euphoria created from his returning goal against Leeds. Never.

Don’t forget to follow Joe on twitter @Tilley_96. Hope you enjoyed the article, and enjoy your weekend. 

My European Dream Team – Daniel Speller

Hello everybody and happy Monday evening to you all! You may remember a few weeks ago, I spoke about an upcoming series on the blog where guest writers are invited to put forward what would be their “dream team” consisting of only European players. I haven’t set any limitations on  the team with regards to formation or what the players played, it’s literally just eleven players the writer would choose if they could choose from any eleven in history to play together.

Kicking off the series, we have Daniel Speller. Daniel is [much like myself] a football romantic, although he is primarily a Stevenage supporter. Don’t laugh! He’s also a West Ham fan and, although he might claim to be neutral when it comes to the Premier League, he definitely has a soft spot for The Arsenal. Without further ado, I’ll hand over to the man himself:

Formation: 3-1-2-3-1

GK – Gigi Buffon

A world cup winner, eight times Serie A Goalkeeper of the Year winner, ther

e really was no other man I could choose in place of Gigi Buffon. A dominant shot stopper, commander of his area and having amassed over 110 caps for his country, Buffon is a living legend. Considered to be one of the most successful goalkeepers in history and after Serie A success with Juventus this season (where in which he conceded a mere 16 goals in 35 games), there’s a chance Buffon could yet at the ripe old age of 34, see further success.

CB- Carles Puyol

Probably my favourite centre back ever. Hard as nails, committed as ever, Carles Puyol to me is perfection in a centre back. Great in the air and even better in the tackle, he and Pique have formed a formidable partnership for both club and country in recent years. Bringing stability and leadership to the back three, Puyol and the other two members of the back three would be incredibly hard to beat.

CB- Alessandro Nesta

Classy, old fashioned and a winner of practically everything it seems natural to include Nesta into this side. Forming a solid partnership at international level with Cannavaro at the heart of Italy’s defence and with the inclusion of Puyol into this back three, it certainly has heart. Good in the air, fantastic in the tackle and handy with the ball at his feet, Nesta’s inclusion into the team provides stability and aerial prowess.

CB- Fabio Cannavaro

Hard as nails, good in the air Cannavaro’s been there and done it all. World Cup winner with Italy in ’06, Cannavaro had all the leadership skills required to be a brilliant defender. As aforementioned, formed an awesome partnership with Nesta at the heart of Italy’s defence for many years and alongside he and Puyol in this team Cannavaro brings stability. A back three that displays strength, leadership and a lot of balls I struggle to think of an attack that could easily break them down.

CDM- Bastian Schweinsteiger

Hard as nails and here, there and everywhere, Schweni is in my eyes; the epitome of a defensive midfielder. Fantastic passing range, great in the tackle and genuinely a hard bastard, Bastian Schweinsteiger would slot into many a team. Just behind Pirlo, these two would form the perfect partnership, Schweni sweeping and covering whilst Pirlo pours forward spraying passes left, right and centre. With Andres Iniesta in front, the passing ability of this midfield trio is somewhat exciting to contemplate.

CM- Andrea Pirlo

Pirlo’s one of my favourite midfielders of all time and for me not to include him in this team would be a crime. The man’s passing ability, range and execution is incredible. A quite brilliant set-piece taker, tackler and all round midfielder I do genuinely believe Pirlo could walk into any midfield in the world. Euro 2012 might well be Pirlo’s last crack of the dice on the international stage but after Serie A success with Juventus last season, he’ll have a chance to showcase his many talents on the biggest stage of them all – the Champions League – next season.

CM- Andres Iniesta

A world cup winner, Champions League winner and the winner of several La Liga titles and not even thirty, Andres Iniesta has won it all. Along with Xavi – who misses out simply due to Iniesta better going forward – he sits in the middle of one of the greatest teams of all time. A passing ability that certainly rivals Pirlo, Iniesta has a canny ability to pick a pass with pinpoint precision wherever he is on the pitch. Great going forward and as I’ve aforementioned his passing ability’s up there with the best ever. Slotting into the side just in front of Pirlo and Schweinsteiger, Iniesta in this side provides the conductor role and with Pirlo alongside him the technical ability of this midfield just gets me excited thinking about it.

RW- Cristiano Ronaldo

Best player to grace the Premier League in the last five years, Cristiano Ronaldo is a forward that really has got it all. Athleticism; pace, skill, technique, a great finisher of the ball, power, flair, you name it Ronaldo’s got it. Currently in battle with Lionel Messi for the title of the greatest player in the world and for me, Ronaldo just pips it. When you look a bargain at £80m you know you’re a special player and still at a young age Ronaldo really does have the world at his feet.

CAM – Zinedine Zidane

Zizou had it all. At his prime, no words I can think of could do the man justice. A wonderful passer of the ball (a common theme in my side), a skill-set that I don’t think I’ll see matched for a long time and without a doubt the best finisher of a ball I’ve ever seen (with both feet) it’s easy to see why Zidane is regarded by many to be the greatest player or all time. Scorer of the greatest Champions League goal of all time, Zizou just oozed class. A crime to leave him out of the side, Zidane claims his place at the heart of the attacking midfield. Simply a joy to watch.

LW- Thierry Henry

Thierry Henry is without a doubt, the best premier league striker of all time. Fantastic composure, pace, skill, technique and a finishing ability that at times was simply outrageous, Henry lit up the Premier League season upon season at Arsenal. Stuck out on the left simply to accommodate my favourite player of all time, Henry brings everything to this attacking midfield and if it wasn’t for my hero up front, he’d be playing there.

ST – Paolo Di Canio

My hero, Paolo is in my eyes anyway, an absolute legend. Either boiling hot or stone cold with Di Canio there was no middle ground. His goals against Chelsea, Wimbledon and I’ve got to say Manchester United will live forever in my memory. Let’s all do the Barthez anyone? Fantastic with the ball at his feet and a skill-set that every striker wishes for perhaps it was only his temperament which stopped Di Canio reaching the heights that in my opinion he certainly deserved. With support from the wings and the brilliant attacking mind of Zidane just in behind, this front four would certainly be lethal.

Before I forget, you can follow Daniel on twitter @Daniel_Speller.

Robin van Perfect? Hardly.

Where does one start? It’s all getting a bit repetitive really. Why not just read my blog post from when Cesc left? Well, the first two paragraphs anyway. It’s all just a bit deja vu. I know a lot of people will go into “the board are responsible for this” and “media bans were because of this” but frankly, I don’t care what went on behind the scenes.

It’s not the fact that Robin van Persie isn’t renewing that sticks in the back of the throat, being honest we kind of guessed that would happen given that he’d gone this long without signing. What sticks in the back of the throat is that we all thought he was different. Pictures of him wearing the shirt as a kid. Countless quotes and articles which you can find floating around twitter about how he wants to win trophies with the club and won’t move for money. That’s where it hurts. You thought maybe he’d be one of those footballing diamonds. Someone who would stay at the club no matter what, like Ale Del Piero at Juve. It wasn’t to be though.

And there’s the thing. All those quotes and articles mean nothing now, given how disrespectful his statement was. Eight years he’s spent building bridges with the club and the fans. Those bridges were burnt in a few minutes. It’s bad enough that he released a statement without the club’s knowledge, but the wording of the statement is what really gets me. It’s not like Wayne Rooney just vying for a pay rise earlier this year, it does sound as if van Persie just wants out. Given the comments from Hill-Wood and Wenger in recent days, he felt he had to make a statement of his own. For a player we think of as so classy though, it was pretty classless. Saying Ivan Gazidis is on holiday when by all accounts he doesn’t even take holidays.

As for the “club is not moving forwards in the right way”, it reeks of a smoke screen to me. We made him our most important player. We’re buying players so that we don’t rely on him. We’re trying to shift the “deadwood”. Isn’t that forwards? I don’t think it’s backwards anyway. I won’t get into the “should we keep him or sell him” argument, because I’m not thinking clearly enough to be logical about it.

The question for me is “Where does this leave Theo Walcott?” and possibly “Where does this leave Alex Song?” next summer.

The ball now is very much in the court of Arsene Wenger and Ivan Gazidis. Who do they buy next? Do they sell Robin van Persie? Surely his position at the club in untenable now? This saga might not have ended yet, but at least we’ve got the whole summer to fix this one, unlike last year. Having a squad that’s played together during pre-season and knows each other well could be the difference between a good start and a start like last year’s. What are your thoughts on the matter? Should we sell him? Feel free to comment and share.

As always, you can call me an idiot on twitter @SavageGooner and you can ‘like’ our facebook page as well.

Discussion: Homosexuality – Football’s last taboo?

Hello everyone, I hope you’re all having a nice Monday. Going for something a bit different today, so please bear with me if I ramble at times.

It seems by all accounts that the transfer-o-meter is ticking over nicely, with Giroud now registering at a healthy 96% completion. The rumours today suggest that’s he’s been in London for his medical and that the deal will be announced some point soon, as we were already expecting.

Exciting times of course, but I was slightly let down by an article I saw on the Mirror website recently. It turns out that Olivier Giroud [recently voted the sexiest footballer in France] has posed on the cover of a leading French magazine designed for gay men. Here’s the article, complete with picture for anybody interested.

Personally, I found it a bit strange. Giroud is set to “make waves” in the Premier League. Why? It’s not unusual for footballers to pose without wearing many clothes. Surely it’s not because of the fact that he’s sending out the message that homosexuality isn’t wrong? He says that he “doesn’t see a difference between a gay person and a straight one” and that he hopes he can change attitudes.

A noble idea, so why does the Mirror claim that he could be in for some stick from opposition fans? We live in the 21st century, are we really still that conservative that a player can’t feature in a homosexual magazine without getting abuse from opposition fans?

I know a lot of people shrug it off as “banter”, but for me that’s not acceptable. When Andy Gray and that other guy that isn’t the guy on Soccer Saturday were found to have made repeated sexist comments, they were fired from Sky and castigated by most. They ended up at the only place people like them could really get a job. TalkSPORT.

We know about racism in football as well. It’s usually something the UK handles quite well. Racist abuse from fans usually means lifetime band from grounds and quite often criminal charges as well. [Although John Terry ruins things].

Homosexuality though? Although not particularly obvious, there does still seem to be an air of homophobia in football. Only recently, Antonio Cassano made comments suggesting that he would prefer it if there were no homosexual players on the Italian national team. Why though? If a player said “I don’t want black/white players on my team” he would face disciplinary action. If he said “I don’t want women supporting my team”, he would by widely castigated. Why is it different with homosexuality?

Is football society’s last refuge of “manliness”? Or is it just dominated by old-fashioned dinosaurs who can’t see past the prejudices they grew up with?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter, so please if you have an opinion then leave it in the comments section below.
As always, you can find me on twitter @SavageGooner if you feel like calling me homosexual/homophobic. Alternatively you can like the blog on facebook.
Thank you for reading and as I said please comment below to help foster a discussion.

Rosicky rested, transfer rubbish and Sagna come-back?

Howdy all. I would apologise for the lack of blogging action yesterday, but there wasn’t really much to blog about. Besides which I’m not really sorry and I don’t really want to lie to you lot. With no EURO action last night, we’re all feeling a little bored but thankfully that ends today when the Czech Republic take on Portugal in the quarter-finals. Our own Tomas Rosicky is unlikely to start with reports saying that he’ll be available off of the bench if needed. From an Arsenal point of view that’s obviously better, given Tomas’s injury problems in the past there’s no point needlessly risking him.

Staying with the Euros, Laurent Koscielny will start for France against Spain. Erm… whenever that match is. Friday? Saturday? It’s some day anyway. Which is nice. Benik Afobe is at the Euros as well! The Under-19 Euros that is. He’s the only Arsenal representative at the tournament with Nico Yennaris missing out due to the illness that saw him miss the end of the season. With Afobe taking part, he’s almost certain to miss the pre-season friendly tournament at Southampton and will probably miss the Asia tour as well, although he could still feature in Nigeria. There are rumours that Bacary Sagna could be fit enough to take part in pre-season as well, but it’s better to wait on that one than start speculating I feel.

Some players have started early though, with Benik Afobe starting very early on getting fitness work done at the club. He’s been joined by Carl Jenkinson and [to a lesser extent] Jack Wilshere.

Transfer-wise, we’ve been linked with Hatem Ben Arfa. A good player on his day but not what we need and too inconsistent in my opinion. I doubt there’s much to that story. Arsene Wenger also apparently was willing to bet an iced-cream that Robin van Persie wouldn’t move to Juve. I know I’m a bit late given that it was made public yesterday, but I still don’t think van Persie is going anywhere. As always though, it’s really just a case for us fans of waiting and seeing.

Carlos Vela’s agent says Arsenal are tough negotiators and that Real Sociedad is still Vela’s preferred destination. Arsenal? Tough negotiators? That’s funny? So many people [who obviously know so much about our negotiating methods] have told us that Arsenal are rubbish negotiators! How strange. It almost seems as if… they don’t know what they’re talking about? Surely not. God forbid they’re making things up to suit their own agendas, but that seems unlikely.

A bit of other guff news as well. Something on us trying to improve and diversify our membership structure, which is nice. Also a fascinating piece by SwissRamble [as always] on the new TV rights deal. Worth a read if you’re interested in the financial side of things.

That’s about it I think, no other transfer tittle-tattle going around, but at least there’s some football on tonight. I’m sure most sensible people will be supporting the Czech Republic, given the despicable nature of some Portuguese players. Yes Pepe, I’m looking at you.

Righto, that’s it. You can find me on twitter @SavageGooner if you want to abuse me, or feel free to desecrate the blog’s facebook wall. Until next time.

Bendtner’s pants rumble on, Squillaci is quite expensive, Reece joins the team and Giroud is done! ish.

The rumblings of Nicklas Bendtner’s pants eh? No, not like that you immature children. Where to start? UEFA fined Nicklas Bendtner 100,000 euros for showing his paddy power boxers. On it’s own you can understand that. Sponsors pay a lot of money to advertise their product, so flagrantly advertising a non authorised product has to be clamped down upon. That makes sense. I don’t need to make the obvious comparison to the racism fines because everyone is doing that anyway! The fact that UEFA find unauthorised advertising or turning up to kick-off sixty seconds late is deserving of much heavier fines than racism is a tad silly though, really.

Paddy Power were incensed on twitter. They said they would appeal and that if it wasn’t over-turned they would pay Bendtner’s fine. This has turned out well for them. They’re looking like the good guys, especially if they pay Bendtner’s fine and they’ve got a lot of exposure from the fall-out of Bendtner’s celebration. UEFA have been left looking like the bad guys, but then they’re the bad guys anyway aren’t they? I’m not sure what that makes Nicklas Bendtner? The ugly guy? There’s one to ponder over as the rumblings from Nicklas Bendtner’s pants and their controversial text will surely carry on.

Moving on, Theo Walcott is fit! No, not like that. Well. A bit maybe. He’s not seriously injured though and could well start ahead of James Milner for England tonight? Is that what we want? Will he be able to have the same impact starting as he has off the bench? I’m not sure, but I’ll still be watching. For France, perennial Arsenal target Yann M’Vila is set to start as well, in place of Diarra. A good chance to watch him no doubt.

It looks like Sebastian Squillaci may not be off to Bastia after all. He’s held talks with Arsenal to mutually terminate his contract so that he can move on for free, but Bastia can’t afford his wages according to RMC. Brest and Evian are both rumoured to be interested but we’ll have to see whether either of them can afford his wages. It’s a funny one, I’ve never really thought Squillaci was that bad. I would say he’s definitely not suited to us though. Players with a lack of pace struggle in a high line, unless they have a superb reading of the game like per Mertesacker. Unfortunately, Squillaci wasn’t quite as skilled. Neither was he technically proficient, passing certainly wasn’t one of his strong points. Let’s hope he can find someone who can match his wages and we can get his £50,000 p/w off our wage bill.

Righto then, Olivier Giroud is done. No, this time it really is done. Honest. As we’ve all known for some time now, he’s probably on his way to the Emirates. Several French media outlets are now reporting the deal, after it was initially reported by the reputable France Football yesterday. It seems like it’s a £12.8m move, with Giroud getting £45k per week on a 4-year deal. So that’s the youngest European ever to reach 100 caps and last season’s top goalscorer from Ligue 1 signed before the transfer window has even opened. Oh how I wish we would sign experienced players. You can find all the details here.

Two other bits and pieces then. Firstly, a great piece on an Arsenal great by Tim Stillman. A look at Bob Wilson. Definitely worth a read if you’re looking to brush up on your history of The Arsenal. Also, I promised you a columnist and he’s arrived! Reece has kicked things off here. You’ll find him posting his opinions every Monday!

Right. That’s it for today. As always you can find me on twitter @SavageGooner and the blog is on facebook as well. Laters all.

Strikers, fixtures, injuries and kids.

As the title probably tells you, there isn’t much news at the moment except for some news on strikers, injuries and the fixture list.

 

In Euro action yesterday were a few Arsenal players. Robin van Persie has been somewhat poor for the Netherlands throughout the tournament, but wasn’t helped yesterday when he was shifted out wide to accommodate Klass-Jan Huntelaar. Nevertheless, he was powerless to stop the Dutch being disqualified from the tournament. Where to now? Well, on holiday probably so anyone expecting news on his contract in the next few days is probably being somewhat optimistic. After that? I would be surprised if a couple of quiet matches at the Euros means that everyone forgets his form through the season; I’m sure there are still a lot of people out there interested. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

Speaking about contract worries, why does nobody ever talk about Theo Walcott? Much like van Persie, he has only 12 months left on his contract. He said he would only start discussions after the season ended, so he’s largely in the same boat as van Persie, with regards to us waiting for the Euros to end. Of course, there are doubts about just how much of the Euros Theo will see, after injuring his hamstring in England’s 3-2 match over Sweden. It would seem that he took part in training today in a bid to make sure he’s fit, so we’ll have to see how that goes.

Another injury worry is Tomas Rosicky [there’s one we haven’t heard before]! He’s re-injured the knock on his Achilles that he had from the end of the domestic season and he’s returned to Prague to look at how long it could keep him out. At the moment, it looks like he could miss the last eight of the tournament.

In other striker news Nicklas Bendtner’s Denmark were knocked out after losing to Portugal, but it’s through no fault of the big Dane who had a good [if short] tournament. He’s being linked with a host of clubs and I don’t think his performances during the Euros will have done his chances of moving on any harm. Ironically, he actually looks quite like the more physical “plan B” we’ve cried out for recently. It’s a funny old world.

In other news, Lukasz Podolski became the youngest European in the history of association football to reach 100 international caps, which isn’t bad. We only ever kids, eh?

Finally, the fixture list was released today, which was nice. I’m not a big fan of analysing every single fixture or anything, but a few interesting things. The last time we started a season at home to Sunderland, we won the league! [via @JoshJJames88]. It’s also the third successive season we’ve finished away from home I believe. As you would expect, there are hard matches and less hard matches throughout the season. As we all know though, “there are no easy matches in this league”.

Anyway, that’s pretty much all the news I think. I’ve given the site a makeover to improve it’s self-esteem. As always, you can find me on twitter @SavageGooner and you can ‘like’ the blog on facebook. There might be a new columnist around here sometime soon so… you know. Keep your eyes open. Laters yo.

M’Vila speaks, Giroud replaced and Vela off?

I don’t know about you lot, but I fell asleep during the football last night. I think Russia and Poland were eliminated, which I guess isn’t particularly nice for the Russians or Poles. I think Russia would have looked at this group as one they could have won, while Poland would have thought qualification at home was more than possible with their side. From an Arsenal point of view, Wojciech Szczesny will get an extended break which isn’t really a problem as he can make sure the knock he was carrying from the end of the season is recover, although the future of Lukasz Fabianski is still far from certain. Tomas Rosicky isn’t crocked, but he is kind of semi-crocked. He was on the bench last night, he may have come on or he may not have. I just hope he doesn’t risk aggravating it further. As for Andrei Arshavin, he looked like the Arshavin we all know. Able to float around and weave his special brand of short, lazy, unfit but definitely brilliant magic; before collapsing in a heap every time he’s asked to run ten yards. We can hope that he impressed Zenit St. Petersburg enough for them to want him back as his time in North London is probably at an end.

Tonight, Robin van Persie’s Netherlands side fight for qualification while Nicklas Bendtner will hope his lucky pants can keep him on the score-sheet and Gunners everywhere will be hoping to see Lukasz Podolski play. On a side note, Lukasz Podolski who I believe has just turned 27, could win his 100th cap for Germany today. The youngest European ever to become a “centurion”. Considering the “legends” who’ve represented Germany have mostly reached 100 caps only when well into their their thirties then it goes to show what a feat it is. I for one can’t wait to see him in the red and white of the Arsenal.

Talking about players incoming, Yann M’Vila has been talking about Arsenal. He’s reported to have said recently: “I don’t know what is happening with the clubs, but yes, I would be interested in the Premier League and Arsenal.” If he’s talking that openly about a move, it would suggest that maybe we’re not as close to signing him as some suggest. While we’re the main suitors, maybe we’re looking at other targets as well? Of course as always, the Euros are in the way.

On other transfer news though, it’s starting to look like Oliver Giroud is done. All kinds of PR guff has been spouted by people at Montpellier suggesting we’ve never been interested, which is a sure sign that we’re very interested and that a deal may already be done could be announced after the Euros. Indeed with Montpellier signing Gaëtan Charbonnier, you’d have to think that Oliver Giroud is off somewhere and a little birdy makes me think he’ll be in North London.

Will Carlos Vela still be here? Probably not. Real Sociedad have already said that keeping him permanently will be their main objective during this transfer window and they’re rumoured to have flown to London to present a deal for 3.5m euros plus a sell-on fee to Arsenal. Short of Arsenal’s valuation of the player, but it could be worth it to get rid of his wages, while Nicklas Bendtner has been linked to Galatasaray recently as well.

That’s it news-wise. In exciting news, you could well see a new columnist on the blog over the next few days so keep your eyes peeled! As well as that, there will also be a series coming up during the summer featuring writers talking about their “European Dream Team”. Exciting times, watch this space!

That’s it for now. As always you can follow me on twitter @savagegooner and you can ‘like’ the blog on facebook. Fun, eh? Until whenever.