The news that 18 year old French midfielder Alexander Song will be offered a new 4 year contract at Arsenal must raise the burning issue: is there a French 'clique' at Arsenal? It seems most Arsenal fans and commentators agree that Song is out of his depth at Arsenal and some even suggest that he would even fail to make the grade at teams like Sunderland. My opinion is he is definitely not Arsenal quality , yet Arsene Wenger has opted for him in crucial games- playing the full 90 minutes in the 1-1 draw against an in-form Portsmouth at Fratton Park springs to mind. Song had an absolute nightmarish game, losing the ball frequently, made several mispasses, having no real presence and genereally running in and out of position. That he was selected in the next crucial away game at Man City is the more baffling. Song again looked out of his depth, and we were drawing 1-1 , when Cesc Fabregas replaced him after just 58 minutes to give the team some sort of compusure. We eventually won 3-1.

The fact that he has now been signed on a permanent deal after a less than convicing season in both first team games and reserve matches is more than surprising. He has now been given the number '17' , the old number of the former fan favourite, the classy Brazillian Edu. Song has 9 appearances this season to Walcott's (see full story) none and Song has just turned 18 so they are in the same age range. Song also seem to have been fastracked ahead of Fabrice Muamba and Sebastian Larsson.

The fact that Arsene has a soft spot for players from his country cannot be denied. While he has done an excellent job, I do not think that is right. Fair enough he has had some bad experiences with certain English players (Pennant,Jeffers, Wright) but is he himself not steorotyping by overlooking all English players? The fact that there are 14 French speaking players in the squad is a bit perturbing if you ask me as do the fact that English is not really spoken in the dressing room. This can affect team spirit and galvanise the opposition teams and fans and hence why we always seem to struggle against the likes of Bolton and Blackburn.

Pires, Reyes and now Cygan have all revealed that English is not really spoken in the dressing room; this is like working in an office in London with the majority of staff talking a foreign language. Apart from the obvious reasons, "Colegate" affair was also damaging to the team because of the revelation by mischief maker , Peter Kenyon that there is really a French clique in the dressing room; with French players sitting and mixing seperately from the non-French speaking ones. Cliques can never be good in the long term and having one based on language / nationality eventually destroys the team spirit. Hence why the Cole affair has weakened us in a way that opposition teams now know that all is not rosy at Arsenal, while before our free flowing game was matched by the impression of a strong and united spirit, which created an aura of invicibility.

Few can argue that there are not many better players than Cygan & Song. For instance , Aliadiere has another 3 years on his contract at Highbury ; and if he has been here since 1998 , that means his contract has been extended time and time again over the last 7 years , while he has hardly contributed. He has been injury prone and has not overly impressed in any of his loan spells at Celtic, West Ham and Wolves. Yet when his contract runs out , he would have been at Arsenal 10 years. As for the hapless Cygan, he has been here since 2002 and his contract should run out this summer. There has been no news yet about him being released by the club. Will his contract be quietly extended? On what basis?

Former Arsenal player dies.

Dr Kevin O'Flanagan, a former Arsenal player and one of the most extraordinary sportsmen Ireland has ever produced, passed away on Friday, May 26 at the age of 87.

The Irishman represented his country at football and rugby and was also a national athletics champion. After his playing days O'Flanagan spent 22 years as a member of the International Olympic Committee.

Older Arsenal fans will remember O'Flanagan as a talented amateur footballer at Highbury. The marauding winger signed for the Club from Bohemians after relocating to London to practice as a doctor. He scored 18 goals in the post-war season of 1945/46.

The pressures of his medical practice forced O'Flanagan to end his Arsenal career in 1948 but he returned to the English league with Brentford the following year.


Can't say I claim to know him all that well as a player but all us here offer our condolences to his family.

Theo Walcott came on and made history by becoming the youngest ever player to make an international debut for England, Theo made little impact but this was mainly down to chances being far and few between for the teenager who saw little of the ball to make any real effort with. However more positivly, he appeared unfazed by the situation that was facing him and seemed to have a level head on his shoulders. He seemed determined as well often sprinting at the Hungarian goalkeeper when he got the ball. Theo had one very good attempt from an acute angle in the dieing minutes.

The game also saw a staggering three Arsenal players on the pitch at one point, an impressive achievement for a team often slated for it's lack of home-grown talent. Sol Campbell looked decidingly average, perhaps hampering his chances of selection for Germany by gaining a rash yellow card in under 5 minutes after coming on.

Ashley Cole looked impressive and seems back to full fitness and match sharpness, but his place in Germany is already secured. Attention is now diverted to England's final friendly before the World Cup against Jamaica. Sol Campbell will need a starting spot in order to try and prove himself but I fear a substiutes role is the most he will recieve. It would also be intresting to see what Walcott could achieve with the same amount of time Michael Owen had in today's game, who himself looked far from impressive.

All in all a good game for the Arsenal boys, especially Theo Walcott. I hope he is accepted by the England fans who may expect miracles from a 17 year old who is surrounded by media hype.

Tuesday News Round-up

We will start with the news that Newcastle manager Glen Roeder has denied he wants to sign defender Sol Campbell, arguing that he is looking for a "younger defender". Says a lot about Sol's decline in the last two seasons that a club, that has Jean Alain Boumsong and Titus Bramble as their central defensive partnership, would refuse the chance to snap up an England international.

The other news doing the round is that Arsene Wenger is wanted by Real Madrid. That is a total non story based on the quote of a Vice President hopeful (see yesterday's stories ) about how Real needs a complete overhaul of their managerial structure. Perhaps it has yet to dawn on Real Madrid that having "Presidential" elections for their board executives every other year is hardly a recipe for success.

Thierry Henry has praised the talents of French winger Franck Ribery . However, it is rumoured that both Man U and Spurs are after him. I would imagine that if it is really a three-horse fight, Arsenal would win it hands down, what with Arsene Wenger's connections. However, do we really need another winger?

New star Tomas Rosicky expects to be fully fit for this summer's World Cup, after being ruled out for Czech's friendly (see yesterday's story ). It has emerged that the Germans have asked Jens Lehmann about the threat of Theo Walcott. So much for Sven's master plan to have Theo as his secret weapon then.

In other football stories, Michael Owen is likely to start England's game against Hungary tonight , a move that has not gone down too well at Newcastle who feel that England is rushing him. Sven is planning to use Gerrard behind a striker, effectively losing faith in Peter Crouch just before the World Cup. He seems to have just realised that selecting only four strikers in your squad (one definitely injured, one only half fit, one who does not score goals and one yet to start for his club) might not work after all. So long for leaving Darren Bent, Jermaine Defoe and Dean Ashton at home then.

Tuncay on his way to London?

Reports in Turkey suggest that Arsenal have bid £10.3 m for Fenerbahce
and Turkish star Tuncay Sanli. Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger is a huge fan of Tuncay after watching him in the France-Turkey Confederations Cup match, Wenger described him as "an upcoming football star."

Tuncay is an goal scoring attacking midfielder, he scored a hat-trick against Manchester United in their Champions League match last year.

Here is a video clip on Tuncay from


News Round-up

A daily dose of the Arsenal and footie stories this Monday.Eurosport reports that new boy Tomas Rosicky will not play any part in Czech Republic´s friendly against Costa Rica on Tuesday because of a thigh injury. BBC Sport ´understands´again that Real Madrid´s President hopeful Carlos Sainz will line Arsene Wenger as their next boss- see story by Redsquare below. Needless to say that the the Vice-President hopeful is right when he says that Real need a complete overhaul of their club but seems to contradict himself by saying they want a general manager and a head coach in their new structure. What do you need Wenger for then?

Sebastian Larsson reckons that Sweden will shine in the World Cup this summer. I reckon Larsson will leave this summer as a 21 year old midfielder can surely not fancy another season of Carling Cup appearances. Skysports claim we are after Villareal´s Brazilian midfielder Senna (more below)

The Mirror has a story about Sol Campbell may be heading to Fulham this summer. I think it looks increasingly likely that Big Sol will not be playing for Arsenal next season. Note the absence of quotes in the Mirror story though-they could not even be bothered to quote another ¨source close to Sol Campbell¨ this time.

There is a story by Jens Lehmann in The Independent about how he intends to get over the disappointment of Paris. The German keeper was very unfortunate after having an excellent season and being the hero in the run in to the Champions league final.

In other football stories, Wayne Rooney´s injury is still the main headline- will he or wont he play in the quarter finals? That must be a massive vote of confidence for England´s likely pair in the World Cup, injury prone Michael Owen and silky Peter Crouch. Ian Dowie is likely to be unveiled as Charlton´s next manager and I look forward to the "footbalistically minded" bulgy eyed one on Match of the Day next season. In a direct clash of level of loyalty, Sven finds it useful to announce to his World Cup squad that Real Madrid wants to sign him at the same time that RafaelBenitez extends his contract at Liverpool.

Everton will be hoping to beat Wigan for the signature of Robert Huth - after winning the ´battle´ for Andy Johnson. The pair will cost a paltry 14m- thats just 12m more than we paid for our Champions league´s final back four. Talking of which, it has been reported in the week end that Kolo Toure earns only 15 o0o a week at Arsenal. As our most consistent defender, the club should rectify this asap. Says a lot about the man that he has not said a word about it and turned in world class performances whilst surely being one of the lowest paid players in the Arsenal squad.

Arsene Wenger is reportedly lining up a £15 million bid for the Polish-born forward Lukas Podolski who currently plays for German Club FC Cologne who have just been relagated.

Position : Forward
Date of birth : 4 June, 1985
Club: FC Cologne (Germany)
Nationality : German

The gunners have also been linked with 29 year-old defensive-midfielder, Marcos Senna. Real Madrid are rumoured to also be interested in the player.

Wenger to be approached for Real Madrid job.

Real Madrid seem likely to again offer the vacant posistion of manager to Arsené Wenger. This is according to a promise made by Carlos Sainz who is in the running to be Real Madrid president in the forthcoming elections for the position.

When asked if he had approached the Arsenal bosss Sainz was quoted as:

"We are in the process of doing that...we want a complete overhaul of the whole club, you can't start building a house with the roof first. We need to secure a general manager and a coach first who will be at the heart of the club.
Wenger is contracted till 2008 with Arsenal and has previously stated he will fufill that contract.

Just to quell a rumour here...

Arsenal have not signed Andrei Shevchenko!

Although I'm sure you probably figured that out already. This relates to the player appearing on an Arsenal player database but this is only because of Arsenal sharing a database with Sky Sports. So for example any player could be playing for arsenal...for example.

Also we now have four contributors to the blog now so expect more updates during this quiet part of the off-season.

Edit : have now seemed to have caught on and those links probably won't work anymore.

Sunday Paper Review

A round up of the Arsenal and football stories in the papers. News of the world report that Sol Campbell has been told by Arsene Wenger that he will be sold this summer.It has been mooted that crunch talks is due to take place at some stage between the two this week so this one could have some substance in it , though the News of the World was reliably informed by "An Arsenal insider".

The same paper has an interview by Sol saying how he has now exorcised his demons. What is clear that the man has some issues and is prepared to do a lot soul searching. Sam Allardyce also uses the News of the World to have another dig at current bad man David Dein by saying he has too much of an influence. Big Sam reveals that he was interviewed by David Dein amongst others for the England job so a case of sour grapes cannot be dismissed.

NoftW also say we are after Morocco´s Theo Walcott, 18 year old midfielder Adil Chihi yet to play for his club FC Cologne.

According to the Observer, French players including Patrick Vieira and Thierry Henry are distraught at the uncoventional team-bonding exercise by French coach Raymond Domenech. He thought subjecting the players to extreme conditions in the Alpine mountain resort of Tignes might be a good idea-that has not unsurprisingly went pear shaped. There is another piece in the same paper about Wenger and Henry´s rather ungracious post match comments after the Champions league Final.

Liverpool legend Peter Beardsley hails Theo Walcott as the best player in his generation in the Sunday Mirror and praises Arsene Wenger´s vision and talent to spot gems. Robert Pires is convinced Henry will be "fantastique" in Germany. He also says that he knew when he was substituted in the Champions League final that he was not a key part of Wenger´s plans and decided to call it a day.

Sunday people claims that Patrick Vieira is taking the Petit and Owen route by being desperate for a return to his old club. They also say that Chelsea are upping their bid to sign highly rated Man City defender Micah Richards, one of Arsenal´s targets this summer. Sven tells the whole world that Theo Walcott will be England´s secret weapon in the World cup (The Times)

Other football stories are that Chelsea will unveil two forwards this week : Andrei Shevchenko for 35m and Feyernoord´s Salomon Kalou for 15m. They will not sign Ruud Van Nistelrooy who is on his way to AC Milan. Spurs are allegedly after Craig Bellamy and Man City want to offload Joey Barton but there are no takers. Man U want to sign former Arsenal target Mahamadoo Diarra for 18m. Andrew Johnson will be moving to Everton for just 8.5m (thats only 6m more than we paid for Robin van Persie) and the Daily Star bizarrely reveals that we were beaten by Man City for the signature of Lazio´s French midfielder Ousmane Dabo

Will he stay or will he go?

Sol Campbell, the man who has been a mainstay of Arsenal's and Englands defense for the best part of this century looks to be on his way out of both squads. The News of the World today reporting that Arsené and David Dein have told Sol he is free to leave the club as he no longer features in the clubs plans. This comes after weeks of speculation about intrest from other clubs, notably Fenerbahce, whose intrest turned out to be mostly exegerated by the British press. With more clubs being linked however to the centre-back it seems less and less likely Sol will feature for Arsenal next season.

Intrest from clubs such as Fulham seem to favour Campbell, a move across London is a lot more realistic then a move across the continent to Turkey. Arsené has yet to quoted either way about Sol's future but it does not look positive for Campbell. With the emergence of Kolo Touré as a strong defensive leader and the continuing improvement of Philippe Senderos, would Campbell even be able to get a place in next seasons squad?

From my view it seems Wenger is going about this the same way as he did with Robert Pires. Robert has lost most of his pace as he nears his mid-thirties and was told he would not have a place in the starting 11 next year, fortunatly for Robert, Villareal came in with the two year deal he wanted. If any club comes in with an offer for Sol I would be very suprised to see the board turn it down. Pires's fate was sealed with the signing of Tomas Rosicky, so if Arsené is to sign any young centre-backs in the next few days I would fear the worst for Sol.

The question we have to ask ourselves is do we care? Sol, Dennis Bergkamp and Robert are the last remaining links to the past for Arsenés big transition into his new youthful squad with thier new stadium, and I for one am eagerly awaiting the dawning of a new era in the club's history.

Vieira linked with return to Arsenal.

The Sunday People is reporting that former Arsenal captain Patrick Vieira wants to return to the Arsenal.

As per usual with the tabloids this is merely speculation with no direct quotes from anyone on the matter. But the story claims that Vieira has been offered to several Premiership clubs and his prefered option is Arsenal.

Vieira remains unsettled at Juventus who face a mass exodus of top talent due to allegations of match-fixing and face relegation.

What is Walcott doing in the England squad?

The inclusion of 17 year old Theo Walcott in Sven´s World Cup squad has raised a number of unanswerable questions. After the hype and the endless "biographies", young Theo was finally allowed playing time on Thursday against the might of Belarus. Given a fantastic reception, Theo did not look fazed, showed pace and skill, but could not deliver what a whole nation wanted: a 30 minute hat-trick. The fact that he is a 12m purchase and has undeniable talent and outrageous pace cannot possibly explain that he was given a debut for his international team before having played for his club. It looks a certainty he will be given some playing time in the World Cup.

Arsene Wenger has yet to pick him in six months and while one can appreciate that he is blending him into the Arsenal set up, you have to wonder why he was not given any substitute appearance. There were a number of games that he could have played in but Arsene decided against that. Walcott being incredibly impressive , quicker than Henry allegedly and generally said to be unfazed by any opportunity- yet he has been considered a gamble to put in the run in to last season. He was sent by Arsene to meet the England squad while he could certainly have been in the Champions league squad ahead of the hapless Alexander Song. Song has only just been 18 and started -and played the full 90 minutes-in the crucial away game against in-form Portsmouth. We draw that game after Song had a mare.Song also started the clash against Man City and after a shaky 58 m mins, he was withdrawn for Cesc Fabregas. Only then we stepped up several gears. You get the gist of it- Walcott could definitely have played some part this season, especially after it emerged that Freddie Ljungberg has played under severe pain. Walcott is by definition a pacy right winger.

The issue is why would Arsene recommend him to Sven and why would the clueless chap chose to act on this recommendation? The inclusion of an international player should be based on merit and Darren Bent is entitled to feel aggrieved at being omitted. How could he - the highest English goal scorer and only just behind Henry and Van Nistelrooy- be ignored in favour of non -scoring Crouch, beginner Walcott, injured Rooney, Championship goal scorer Andrew Johnson and if i am not mistaken Defoe. This shows how easily Sven can be influenced and do not forget that Wenger and Dein will be blamed by the media if Walcott does not perform in the World Cup.

Thing is I cannot see how Walcott´s selection is good for Arsenal. If he has Rooney Euro 2004 type of World Cup then brilliant. But he is unlikely to have the same sort of impact. Rooney, do not forget, had a season and a half before Euro 2004. The hype and the pressure on Theo could affect him before his Arsenal debut. A poor World Cup could damage his confidence at such an early stage of his career. And make no mistake if he impresses in the World Cup, the media will round on Wenger for not selecting him. A lose-lose situation for Arsene, if you ask me.

Who will be Arsene´s next signing?

Most commentators seem to agree that Rosicky is a great technical player with flair, pace and skill that would tend to fit Wenger's game plan based on free flowing game , pace and movement. With Robert Pires sadly departing for Villareal, Rosicky has been mooted as a direct replacement on the left wing. However with Reyes and Hleb also being used frequently on the left wing, it could be that Rosicky has been signed to play in the hole a la Bergkamp or in rotation with the talented Cesc Fabregas. What is clear is that he is a typical attacking minded Wenger signing.

There is no question that this would not be Arsene´s only signing this summer. If Arsenal want to challenge properly for next season at least another two major signings is necessary. I was actually surprised to see Rosicky being signed, what with the evident skills that Alexander Hleb has displayed in the last few months of last season. It could mean that Wenger is planning to use his European 4-5-1 formation in the tough away Premiership games at the Bolton, Blackburns, Evertons. Make no mistake that Arsenal have struggled away in the last two seasons after the infamous "Battle of the Buffet. Hence why we finished over 30 points behind Chelsea last season and suffered 11 defeats in a season while we have been averaging less than 4 defeats a season in the Wenger era.

A tough tackling defensive midfielder is thus an absolute priority. Gilberto does the Makele role brilliantly but is not a tough tackler nor is Fabregas and with Diaby´s long term injury, an aggressive midfielder is a priority. Song is not Arsenal class and I was very surprised to see Arsene make his move permanent. I actually think we need a British player to avoid us being bullied in the middle of the park (like Lampard and Gerrard do for their clubs)I dont know if Barton or Reo Cooker (perhaps a Diarra or a Dioup/Sissoko type of player will be more appropriate) - is the answer. While we are being occasionally linked with Barton, I cannot see it happening myself for the simple reason is that Arsene does rarely gamble on English players and would certainly not change that for one that is known for being a bit of a nutter on and off the field.

The reason I say an English signing would be useful is because of the obvious lack of communicators on the field since Vieira´s departure. Henry has a tendency to sulk as a captain but you need a talker on the pitch, one that opposition players would fear to bully. The name that has certainly been linked to the Gunners is Curtis Davies. With Spurs keen to sign every single decent English players , they have already made their move with a bid of 3.5m pounds . A figure of 6m might be more appropriate but what is clear is that Arsenal need to actually bid for the player- which we did not do with either Carrick or Shaun Wright-Phillips. A cool customer , an athletic and mobile young English defender, Curtis Davies could actually be a very good replacement for the ageing Sol Campbell. However, he does have admirers and with Spurs firing the first shot as usual , will Wenger make the move for a player that would definitely prefer to sign for Arsenal? Time will tell.

It promises to be an exciting summer!

Cole on his way to Spain?

Barcelona and Real Madrid appear in a straight fight to land Arsenal left back Ashley Cole and both are ready to pay £16m to land him.
Cole has always been expected to be on the move from the club this summer after the fall out over the Chelsea tapping up affair left him less than happy with his Arsenal paymasters.
Both Spanish giants have been looking to land a new left back as the Catalan giants need a replacement for former Arsenal star Giovanni van Bronckhorst, whilst he could step into Robert Carlos's boots at the Bernabeu if, as expected, the Brazilian moves on in the summer.
Arsenal would like to keep Cole but at £16m the blow would be cushioned somewhat, Chelsea are still thought to be interested in the player despite Jose Mourinho claiming recently "no, we are not looking for Ashley Cole", but Arsenal would prefer to sell him abroad.

Arsenal in for Italian keeper?

A Number of english clubs have been linked with third choice Italian goalkeeper Marco Amelia. Amelia currently plays his football for Serie A side Livorno, whose President Aldo Spinelli was recently quoted about offers for the player.

“Amelia does have offers from England, however, the teams interested in him will have to dig deep in order to sign him.”

Whilst no clubs are mentioned directly we should be in the market for a second choice goalie and an eventual replacement for Jens Lehman. However Livorno are determined to hold on to him and it may be difficult for any club to prise Amelia away. But I would watch this space...

Players we will NOT sign.

Theres been a lot of talk in tabloids recently about our transfer targets, as per usual. But with that comes the general, realistic but incredibly unlikely, transfer targets. These isn't like going for your Ronaldinhos or Adrianos but players that if we wanted to we could easily sign. And it's these rumours that are gobbeled up by gullible fans. Lets take a look at some of the players we're linked with.

Michael Owen

A recent Evening Standard article linked us again with the Toon striker. Sure he's a great striker, but unless Wenger were to leave I could never see him play for the Arsenal.

Why? Firstly he's incredibly injury prone. Injuries ruined our season in 2005-06. The last thing we need is to pin half of our attacking hopes on someone whos on the physio's bench more often than the pitch. Secondly, he's not our style of player people say we need a plan B when the open passing game suited to Henry fails (against hackers n' hoofers like Bolton) but Owen is not that plan B. Just because he can score scrappy goals and headers doesn't make him the solution to our problems. We are closer with this plan B with Adebayor. He offers a happy median between flair and scrap. He sets up beautiful assists for the man who is our main striker, Titi. Having two strikers with selfish streaks like Owen and Henry would prove a disastrous mis-match.

He's also 28, would be a very rare age for a Wenger signing. With a £12million release clause some might say it's too much of a bargain to pass on, but I don't think we'd sign him if he were free.

Not that I'm still bitter about the 2001 cup final that is.

Fernando Torres

Now I'm gonna sticky my neck out here and say we will not sign the spanish dynamo. Yes he's a great finisher, yes he's a great playmaker, yes he's got some pace. But he is a player that Wenger would never buy. we'd be likely to pay at least £20 million. That kind of money for a player who will be playing second fiddle to Thierry Henry is something that would never happen. Wenger nevers pays this much for players. The last time he splashed the cash was on José Reyes, a player struggling to live up to the bags of potential he's got. Also no-one seems to take into account our league position and financial restraints, of course he won't go to Spurs but whats to stop him going to Chelsea or Man Utd on a £200,000 a week contract.

David Beckham

Don't get me started with this one. A simple quote by Beckham such as "I like London." is enough to drive the press to "Beckham yearns for return to London." or "Beckhams house-hunting in North London."

We will never-ever-ever sign David Beckham, he costs too much to pay, he's too old and he'd disrupt the bond all of our players have formed.

All it takes is a polite quote from Wenger such as "I admire him as a player" to get the press speculating when of course he's just not burning any bridges or insulting the player, can you imagine Arsene saying about Michael Owen or David Beckham "Well, hes a bit naff really..." ?

Ruud Van Nistelrooy

Picture says it all really.

We hate him...

No really....

We really really hate him.


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