Arsenal snap up World Cup star.

Sky Sports news is reporting that Arsenal have taken Ghana central defender, Shilla Illiasu on trial.

lliasu's club Kumasi Asante Kotoko confirmed that Arsenal have been keeping informed of the player for some time and have now made a move. If the player impresses he is likely to join Arsenal for a fee in the region of £500,000.

A viable replacement for Campbell it seems, although another african player to lose during the African Cup of Nations.

In a pre-season friendly against Austrian side Schwadorf, it was Arsenal who completed an impressive victory putting seven in to back of the net at the Sportzentrum stadium with Adebayor and Van Persie grabbing two each.

The team featured many first team players with the World Cup early exiters such as Reyes, Eboue, Gilberto and Fabregas returning. But also featured many young gunners allowing them to make a mark on the game and fight for a place in the team.

The team looked impressive even without top gun, Thierry Henry, and various injured players. Adebayor and Van Persie gelled well up front with each looking aggressive in attack and got the goals they deserved with the pick of the bunch being a 25 yard screamer from Van Persie to score the games 5th goal.

Nice to see two defenders get on the score-sheet with Djourou (16) and Toure (53) coming forward during the match.

Reyes looked to have shrugged off the speculation of his future by being very creative and dynamic in setting up chances, he played a part in the first four goals of the game.

Aliadiere still has yet to convince me and today's performance, although had little to do today. My praise however, is reserved for Nicklas Bendter who scored Arsenal's 7th goal of the game midway through the second half and played a part in Hleb's goal who scored the game's eighth.

One player did grab my eye and actually surprise me, believe it or not but that was Alex Song. I have not been one to criticize him but the player has come under a lot of flak since he joined the club, but today he showed the potential he has and could just be a player to keep an eye on in the coming season.

Despite losing a late goal there are, all in all, very few criticisms to make of the team it what was an impressive victory for the Gunners.

Arsenal target ends speculation

Marseille winger, Franck Ribery has put an end to any speculation of him leaving the club by committing his future to the French side. Ribery had been linked with a move to Arsenal in recent months, but today claims he plans to see out the remainder of his contract at his present team.

"I have a contract that lasts for four more years and for four years I am at Marseille. I love this club, the people and the fans." said Ribery.

Reyes is quick to rubbish rumours.

Josè Reyes has hit out at earlier reports of him wanting away from Arsenal FC to join Real Madrid by commiting his future to Arsenal.

Reyes told the Arsenal website:

"I don't know where these words have come from but what I would like to say is that I am very happy at Arsenal.

"I am excited about the new stadium and helping Arsenal challenge for honours."

It makes you wonder where this comes from. The article earlier was directly quoting from the News of the World but it seems now they where fabricating the entire story, and that is why I always take every rumour I hear with a pinch of salt, especially from the tabloids.

Rumour Mill: Reyes and Cole Updates.

The latest to come from the dirty rags that we know as the Sunday tabloids today, feature increased speculation over the future of two Arsenal players.

Firstly Josè Reyes has been linked incredibly strongly with a move to Real Madrid, with the News of The World claiming he is desperate to leave the club. Apparently Reyes told the press:

"I have always said that I want to return to Spain, I have nothing against Arsenal"

"The fans have given me so much support since I joined. But they know that I have not adapted to life in England."

"If Real Madrid want me then that is marvellous...it would be an honour to play for them. Let's see what happens."

One problem for Josè is that I actually haven't heard about any actual interest from Madrid, although another part of the rumour is Madrid is lining up a cash plus player swap for Reyes.

Another interesting turn in the Ashley Cole saga has developed with the news that if Ashley Cole were to make the move to Chelsea they would have to fork out £30 million whilst any club would have to pay only £16 million. This is apparently a clause that was added to the chav's contract after the Chelsea 'tapping-up' scandal.

Coupled with the news Roberto Carlos looks likely to move to Fenerbahce a big left-back shaped hole is forming at the Bernabeu, perhaps it could be filled by a cut price Ashley Cole.

Cole: It is either £30m or reserves

"Negotiations" are under way between Chelsea and Arsenal over the bitter transfer saga of Ashley Cole. The noises coming from Chelsea´s and Cole´s camp are pathetic to say the least.

The richest club in the world has been feeding stories to the media saying that "it would not be held to ransom over the transfer" and that it would not go above £16m for Cole. It also laughed off Arsenal´s suggestion that William Gallas be included in the deal.

This from a club that has just paid £30m for the 29 year old Shevchenko and £17m for Obi Mikel, the 17 year old who did not even appear at Old Trafford. This from the club that paid £24m for Drogba, £24.1m for Essien and £21m for Shaun Wright-Phillips. Not mentionning £7m for Glen Johnson, then an 18 year old West Ham reserve right back. This from a club that tapped up Spurs Director of Football, Frank Arnesen and gave £10m in "compensation" so that it does not have endure the 3 point deduction from the Cole tap up inquiry.

No, Chelsea are saying they will not pay over the odds for a player for the first time in their Abrahamovic era. This for Ashley Cole, widely regarded as the best player in his position, only 25 years of age and of course a full England international.

Then, there is little Ashley.He is all incensed now that Arsenal have reneged on a verbal agreement that he should be allowed to leave for £16m if he wants to. What did you expect mate? You met Chelsea while you were under contract, remember?

Arsenal have done the right thing and told Chelsea to pay up or shut up. By slapping a £30m fee on Cole´s head, they are telling Chelsea to cough up with some of the cash that they have in abundance. If you cannot do that, then stop wasting everybody´s time.

As for Cole, why should Arsenal show him any loyalty? (see earlier article) Why does the transfer have to be on his terms? If Chelsea does not come up with the requested £30m , then there is only one place for Ashley: Arsenal´s reserves. The club should not care what it does to his international career just as he does not care about the club.

Back to Business: Will Cole just go already...

Just to announce I'm back from holidays and the webstie should be back to regular updating regulary again.

It seems I have a lot of catching up to do but luckily it seems that little has actually changed. Ashley Cole is still trying to get away and the news today is that David Dein has confirmed there are some talks going on with Chelsea.

"We have had a couple of very civil conversations with Chelsea and there is nothing else to say on that," said Dein.

But with rumours of a £30 million price tag I would be more then happy to see the money grabbing chav leave already.

Can Arsenal beat the Premiership bully boys?

The run to the Champions League final last season showed how skilful and quick this current Arsenal side is. The Premiership season, however, revealed Arsenal's weaknesses and lack of muscle in the middle of the park.

Arsenal have struggled in the Premiership ever since Alex Ferguson advocated to other managers how Arsenal can and should be beaten. Fergie's disciples in the Premiership, Allardyce and Hughes have copied with success the Battle of the Buffet tactics.

Arsene Wenger's football philosophy is an excellent one. Based on pace, movement and genuine technical ability, Wenger shows the way football should be played. In the World Cup , most teams showed emphasis on the technical aspect of their game and Klinsmann even told the German media how he likes to play football the "Wenger way". The one notable team that seem to hold long balls and physical tactics in high regard was of course England.

The Allardyce, Hughes and Fergie's (and Robson's and Moyes last year) gameplan against Arsenal is not right but you need to deal with it. Arsenal play in the Premiership not in the La Liga. The Premiership can be a tough and bullying league and only a well balanced squad can actually win it. Which Arsenal was in 2004 and Chelsea have been since. You have to beat the bully boys to win the league.

Since 2002-2003, Arsenal have picked up just 4 points out of 24 against Man Utd. Thats 4 draws and 4 defeats in their last 8 meetings! Arsenal have won just 2 times in their last 8 against Bolton.

Most teams now understand that a physical and aggressive approach will neutralise Arsenal's brilliance. Wenger's recent signings have shown nothing as to whether he is trying to address the issue. In fact, that weakness has been exploited to good effect by Premiership opposition ever since Vieira left. Edu was another one that could dish out the tackles but not been replaced.

The brilliance of Fabregas in midfield will not resolve the situation as he is more of a maestro in midfield. Hopefully, Arsene will crack down on the bullies this season by properly replacing the void left by Vieira and Edu. There is still time left until the end of August....

What is Arsene's transfer kitty?

The depth of Arsene Wenger's transfer funds is often the subject of a highly debatable argument by Arsenal fans during the summer. While most seem to recognise that the club's finances is very soundly managed by the Arsenal board, it is clear that an investment of a £357m into a new project would put a hole into the spendings of any club (Chelsea excluded).

The extent of the complex securitisation and refinancing made by Arsenal has been made a bit more clear this week end. The move into Emirates Stadium is a necessary one, that ensures the club moves properly into this century without having to lose the 50 000 tickets a month it currently does.

The move guarentees its long term future and the Arsenal board has at various stages suggested that investment on the playing side will not be affected. However, both the Telegraph and the Guardian have reported that Wenger's transfer budget have been limited to a net of £12m a year over the next 3 years due to the debt repayment scheme in place.

This could explain why Wenger will be unable to make a move for any of the experienced players available from the relegated Italian clubs and is thus bargain hunting again to try to strengthen the squad for next season.

Most commentators would agree that Arsenal need at least 3 players (and not accounting for Ashley Cole's imminent departure to Chelsea) to bolster the already fast and technical side for a Premiership challenge. Three players can seem a lot but depending on your perspective, it can be the difference between a title challenge or a Top four struggle. A centre back , a strong central midfielder and a good reserve keeper can make this Arsenal side ready to wrestle the title away from Chelsea next season.

Whether Arsenal get them depends on how much money is available. If Peter Hill-Wood and Keith Edelman are to believed, Arsene Wenger had a significant transfer kitty last summer and in January (£50m was quoted by Peter Hill-Wood last summer). That was before Vieira was sold for £13.8 and Hleb signed for £9.5m.

If the situation has changed (and by the looks of it has) to make the transfer budget be a net of £12m, then Arsene Wenger has just about £5m this summer -as he has already signed Rosicky for £6.9m and Song for £2.9m. Unless the £16.9m deal for Cole is already being budgeted for transfer ins this season.

Arsenal needs to be careful not to move into a world class stadium without a team to match it. It is a shame if it happens, as this current side is bursting with talent that is only a few adjustments short of being truly world class.

After last season injuries plagued our season you would expect the luck of Arsenal football club to change, however today brings yet more bad news and more work for Gary Lewin.

Arsenè Wenger revealed he expects Philippe Senderos to be out for possibly three months as he recovers from a shoulder injury picked up in the World Cup.

"We have lost Senderos for the next three months," Wenger also revealed more defensive worries, "Johan Djourou and Gael Clichy have had injuries as well."

As if things couldn't get any worse he also revealed an ongoing injury to Freddie Ljungberg.

"Freddie has had an inflammation in his foot; we have to check it with a scan. We will see."

This adds to a list of injury ridden players, featuring Abou Diaby who is still recovering from the nasty 'tackle' at Sunderland last season and captain Thierry Henry who is suspected to have another problem with his achillies after niggling it before France's final game in the World Cup.

Oh well....
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By the way, this should be my last post for a while as I'll be away on holiday. I'll leave you in the capable hands of RG for the time being.

To those who applied to be a contributor I suspect you will have to be patient and wait till I get back, sorry.

Last summer , Arsene Wenger promised the signing of two or three established world class players in the age range of 24-27.He said that we had a lot of young promising players already and it was important to blend it with more experienced players that will adapt immediately to the Premiership.

That was after a season that saw Arsenal began with panache , being tagged as Invicibles and the football of August 2004 till October 2004 was probably the most exciting we ever played. However, then came the Battle of the Buffet debacle, the Colegate affair, the Lauren & Vieira spat and the Wenger and Lehmann falling out.

Arsenal stuttered from November 2004 to February 2005 but a strong finish saw us to 2nd place and the FA Cup.

Summer 2005 did not go as Arsene predicted. Hleb was signed for 10m but the other two world class signings lined up, Baptista and Robinho did not materialise. Shaun Wright Phillips was the other name mentionned but Arsenal never actually bid for him.

In fact, Arsenal did not strengthen properly last summer. Far from that, we lost the influential captain Patrick Vieira and elegant and classy midfielder Edu. While Hleb can potentially become world class and showed his skills in the latter part of last season, he had a difficult beginning to the Premiership. Unable to sign Baptista and Robinho, Wenger did not find alternatives. Instead, he brought in 16 year old keeper Vitor Mannone, 17 year old French left back Traore and...17 year old Song(You know what I think of that by now)

These 3 were hardly established signings and January 2006 saw the signings of 16 year old Theo Walcott, 21 year old Adebayor and 19 year old Diaby.

Summer 2005 began with Arsenal predicting an assault on the Premiership. At the end of that summer i.e beginning of last season, Arsene Wenger decided to lower his ambitions. That is before the season started,Arsene knew he was not going to win the league. It became a year in transition but it did not have to be to quote Arsenal legend, Dennis Bergkamp.

The result? An all time low finish of fourth (under Wenger) and over 30 points behind Chelsea. This season , Chelsea have signed Michael Ballack and Andreiy Shevchenko. Whichever way you look at it, these are two absolute world class AND established players. Liverpool have strengthened further this summer- they finished 19 pts behind us in 2004-2005, but 15 pts ahead last season (a gap of 34 pts in one summer). Reaching the Champions League final was an achievement but Liverpool actually won it with a more transitional team.

If Arsenal do not add two world class signings to Rocisky, a Premiership challenge can be ruled out again for next season. The news that Arsene Wenger has ruled out any potential signings from Serie A and already described Curties Davies as expensive is worrying in regard to where the club wants to finish in the league next season.Does Arsene believe we can catch Chelsea next season ? Or does he want another transitional year?

*updated from june article*

Wenger: No Saviola or Davies for Arsenal

The Times is reporting that Arsenè Wenger has ruled out moves both for Curtis Davies and Javier Saviola, two players linked very closely with moves to Arsenal.

In an interview Wenger said whilst he was interested in Davies a move seems unlikely, especially at West Brom's asking price.

"Davies I like, but (the asking price of £10 million) is too high"

Wenger ruled out a move for Saviola claiming he would have no room for the player in his current squad.

"We are not interested in Saviola at all,"

"I have enough forward players. We have Rosicky, Ljungberg, Reyes, Van Persie, Henry, Adebayor, Walcott, Lupoli, Bendtner, Aliadière¸ so where do I put the strikers?"

Wenger also expects want-away Gunner, Ashley Cole, to remain at Arsenal despite his comments attacking the club.

“When he (Cole) comes back, I feel the most important (thing) is to work hard and not to talk too much, because football is less about talking and more playing and showing how good you are,”

“We have shown many times that we can keep our best players when we want to. We showed that with Henry. When he (Cole) looks back one day, he will see that Arsenal have helped him.

Former Arsenal target Julio Baptista insists he is still being targeted by the Gunners. Baptista, who played a waiting game with Arsenal before he was signed with Real Madrid, claims there is still interest in him but he wants to remain at the Bernabeu.

"It is certain that Arsenal want me, But I have a contract at Madrid and I want to fulfil it."

Although a move to Arsenal looked very unlikely after his agent's comments earlier, today the News of The World has reported Arsenal may be back on the hunt for Franck Ribery. The French winger's agent, Bruno Heiderscheid, today told the newspaper.

"Arsene Wenger closely followed Franck during the World Cup and liked him very much, although he knew his qualities already from Marseille,"

"Arsenal are very interested in Franck, although for the moment they've not made a concrete offer."

In other news Arsenè Wenger has ruled out a swoop on the fallen giants of Italian football Juventus. Wenger says he sees no need to raid the club and it doesn't concern him.

"We cannot afford to do it which is why we are not overly concerned with what is going on at Juventus,"

"It is very unlikely we will make a move for the players because the wages are too high for us."

The Gunnersaurus is a better goalkeeper than Petr Cech


The Gunnersaurus, our proud mascot, today showed his potential by stepping into Jens Lehmann's boots and also did his bit for charity.

The Gunnersaurus saved Alan Davies penalty in Sport Relief for the BBC, with a well taken collapse to his right blocking the ball from entering the goal. He also out classed Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech, who conceded a penalty.

You can support Sport Relief by clicking here.

Ashley Cole is an idiot.

So, he illegally tries to leave his own club by having a secret chat with thier rivals. He goes behind the back of a board and team that gave him his carear. He turns his back on his own team-mates. He does this and wonders why Arsenal get mad at him all of a sudden!

Today the Sun published promotional material from Ashley Cole's autobiography.

"Arsenal hung me out to dry, using me as a scapegoat to get back at Chelsea,"

"The board 'rewarded' me with an insult and threw years of loyalty back in my face."

"I'll reveal the shattering truth about who fed me to the sharks. It changed my view forever on the club I regarded as family."

I will not cheer this man on at Ashburton Grove. Buy yourself out of your own contract if you are so desperate to get out of Arsenal, or go have a chat with Chelsea again I couldn't care less.

This is the only the second time I've actually wanted an Arsenal player to leave the club (first being Anelka), but I can't stand to see this wannabe dirtying our fantastic new stadium.

So Ashley, what have Arsenal done wrong?

Ashley Cole has dealt Arsenal with a hammer blow again. By ignoring the club´s hierarchy demands to amend part of his book, Cole has effectively secured his dream move to Chelsea. In fact, Ashley Cole became a Chelsea player the very minute he went to meet Peter Kenyon and Jose Mourinho in February 2005, just before Arsenal´s crucial clash against Man Utd.

Arsenal were by all means the victims in the tapping-up scandal. Their only home-grown player, the best player in his position in the world went to meet their rivals for the Premiership. Ashley Cole was under contract with Arsenal and met Chelsea illegally.

Ashley Cole revealed the club´s secrets to Peter Kenyon, who immediately leaked them to the media. The tap-up inquiry was more draining for Arsenal than for Chelsea. The media preyed on the "French clique" allegations . The news that all was perhaps not too well at the reigning champions of the time, who just had an unbeaten season, was music to the ears of Arsenal´s rivals and shattered the club´s aura of invicibility.

Chelsea were left with a 300 000 pounds fine ( a pittance in relation to Abrahamovic´s fortune) and a suspended 3pts. Ashley Cole had to give 100 000 pounds (equivalent to one a half week of his wages) . Arsenal are losing the world´s left back for 16.8m to the rivals they want to catch up with.

Not to mention that after the meeting with Chelsea, Ashley Cole has been most definitely disrupting the team´s spirit by sulking in training and being out for 80% of the last season with an "ankle injury".

So Ashley, who has let who down here?

Sure enough, Arsenal erred in trying to take off 5000 a week on a 60 000 a week agreement. More importantly, when you consider that they can afford to give him 70 000 a week, with a reported 16.8m release clause.

But that is not to be compared to what Ashley Cole and Chelsea have done. Note that Ashley conveniently forgets to mention that it was Peter Kenyon who actually "hung him out to dry" by leaking the details of their confidential meeting to the media and reporting it to the tapping-up inquiry.

Ashley Cole has played his last game for Arsenal and is joining Chelsea this summer in a 16.8m deal and on 100 000 a week. He is having a go at the club´s hierarchy, its Vice Chairman and manager Arsene Wenger (who has publicly stood by him at all times) and his situation at the club that made his development, is untenable.

Contributors Wanted: Redsblog is looking for writers

Evening all, we here at Redsblog are currently looking at expanding the site by taking on a new writer or two.

We need someone to post in any of the following; match reports, news, opinions, articles etc.

Obviously only Arsenal fans need only apply.

If you think you're up for it send an Email to:

redsblogwriters@googlemail.com

The official verdict, at least according to the BBC, of the Italian match fixing scandal is as follows.

Juventus - Relegated to Serie B with a 30pt penalty
Fiorentina - Relegated to Serie B with a 12pt penalty
Lazio - Relegated to Serie B with a 7pt penalty
AC Milan - Remain in Serie A with a 15pt penalty and lose Champions League spot.

I believe the floodgates have opened.

Sky Sports is today reporting that Arsenal have tabled an €8 million (£5.5 million) bid for Chievo Verona winger Franco Semioli.

According to reports in Italy Arsenal scouts have been keeping tabs on the player for some time now and feel confident enough to launch a move to bring the player to London. However, Arsenal face stiff opposition, no more so then from Serie A team, Roma. Semioli has previously stated he would choose a move to Roma if the opportunity arose.

"They (Roma) are my first choice for the way they play and the importance of the club,"

In other news, the ongoing speculation over West Brom defender Curtis Davies continues, with Bryan Robson today claiming he isn't going anywhere.

Robson said that he is looking to hold onto the player and previous attempts to lure him away have been refused.

"There's been a lot of interest but Curtis is not for sale, He's got a three-year contract with us and we want to make a good go at getting back out of this division and Curtis is a major part of that."

Robson refused to state whether or not Arsenal had made a move for the player or not.

"I'm not going into individual interest, there’s been approaches for quite a few and they've all been turned down."

Theo Walcott's name had been batted about as part of a potential loan deal to West Brom but the Daily Express today looks to have quashed that rumour. The player's agent, Warwick Horton, told them that:

"I am in regular touch with Arsenal and there has never once been a suggestion of Theo going out on loan, He has learnt an awful lot since joining the club and was delighted Thierry Henry signed a new contract because he loves working with him in training.

"He is looking forward to starting the new season at the new Emirates Stadium and there is no reason why that won't happen."

And finally, the Sun is today reporting that Ashley Cole has refused to invite to Arsenè Wenger to his wedding tomorrow. What a cock...

Quite a few to get through so what better way to start then to quash a rumour that has been going on for months now. Cesc Fabregas is staying at Arsenal, at least that’s what Arsenè Wenger thinks. Arsenè obviously had enough of the speculation and announced yesterday he has no plans to let Cesc go.

"I would like to make it clear that Cesc Fabregas is not for sale and we will not be listening to any offers for him"

“At 19 years old, Cesc represents the future of Arsenal Football Club and we are looking forward to him being a major part of our plans for many years to come.”

In other news another rumour seems quashed, that of Franck Ribery joining Arsenal. Bribery’s agent Bruno Heiderscheid, has denied talks with Arsenal and insists their have been no actual advances for the player.

"I didn't meet Arsenè Wenger neither in Paris nor anywhere else and I didn't get any offer for Franck,"

"Even if some names are rumoured to hire him, like Real Madrid or Bayern Munich, I have not received any concrete offer.

As far as Heiderscheid is concerned Franck is remaining in France for now.

"At the moment, Franck's priority is to have a holiday and some rest. He will be back on July 29. Meanwhile, I have asked to meet Pape Diouf (Marseille Chairman) about Franck. I hope we will do it in the coming days."

The Daily Mirror is today reporting that Theo Walcott is to be loaned out to West Brom as a part of a deal for Curtis Davies coming the other way. The Mirror claims that as Arsenal are only prepared to fork out £8 million for the player who West Brom value at £10 million, a four month loan deal involving Walcott could make up the difference.

And also in the latest on the Lillian Thuram front, Arsenal are supposedly neck and neck with Spurs in the chase for the players signature...Ok it's official I no longer want the player.

Rumour Mill: Striker as good as signed? Cole leaving?

Just a few today, firstly a move for Argentine striker Javier Saviola looks as good as done, according to The Sun.

According to the striker's agent Alfredo Cabrera Brizuela:

“He will make his decision based on football and that points to the Gunners. He will have no problem playing in England because he is a world-class player and will be successful in any country."

He also indicated the move could be completed this week.

"This week is very important because he wants to have a holiday knowing he has his future sorted out.”

The Daily Mirror is reporting that Ashley Cole will sign for Chelsea in a £16 million pound transfer. It claims Cole will drop his efforts to clear his name in the 'tapping-up' scandal in order to make a quick move. The Mirror says a move is likely due to Del Horno being sold for a cut price £3 million.

The Sun is also reporting on some news from yesterday that Curtis Davies will sign for £10 million from West Brom.

Arsenal 2006 need another Sol signing

When Arsene Wenger joined Arsenal in September 1996, he immediately heralded the start of a new footballing culture at Highbury. It moved from the tactical long ball -but successful- strategy of the Graham years to a pacy and technical play.

The one striking moment was when old Nigel Winterburn went against his natural instinct and passed the ball on the floor to the midfield against Coventry in Wenger's first home game.

Armed with the solid back four and Wenger's exotic imports, Arsenal stormed to the title in 1998 to possibly signal the end of the Manchester Utd domination.

However, the shift of power from North to South predicted by Wenger that should have happened from 1998 onwards did not quite happen. In fact, despite being arguably better in 1999 than 1998, Arsenal failed to win anything from 1999 to 2001.

Arsenal should have won a second Double in 1999 but instead Man Utd left with the treble. Arsenal should have won the Uefa Cup in 2000 and the defeat in the 2001 FA Cup final prompted Mr Purist Alan Hansen to describe Arsenal as "nearly men". After three consecutive runners-up and the 1999 FA cup semi-final defeat, coupled with the ageing back four, it was beginning to look like it.

Then came the masterstroke in July 2001. Arsenal was not supposed to be the front runners to win the highest ever profile Bosman transfer battle. Inter and Barcelona both announced a 'Sol' victory and Liverpool were the favourites to sign them domestically. They even announced they were very close to reach an agreement after two favourable meetings.

Then, Arsene Wenger actually paraded Sol Campbell. It was a coup. It was a statement of intent to sign the Spurs captain and after facing stiff competition from Europe's top clubs. By offering Sol a rumoured £96 000 weekly (topped by the mentionned £2m signing on fee) , Arsenal showed it meant business.

Arsenal wrestled the title away from Man Utd in Campbell's first year. Depsite a shaky start, Campbell recovered to added much needed strength and leadership at the centre of the defence and proved himself a giant as Arsenal won two titles and three FA cups in 5 years.

Arsenal 2006 is in very much the same meltdown that Arsenal 2001 was. This Arsenal side is by a country mile the most technically gifted in the Premiership. Some would even say in Europe. What it needs is another colossal signing and the next 5 years could be even sweeter than the last five.

Rumour Mill: Ribery, West-Brom Duo and Bendnter.

Quite a few to get through today, so I'll keep them short n' sweet.

Firstly, there is renewed speculation over Curtis Davies. The West Brom defender is reportedly seen as a replacement for Sol Campbell, who recently left Arsenal. Arsenè Wenger is supposedly lining up a £8 million bid for the player, however as of yet no bid seems to have been launched. As West Brom told the Birmingham Mail

"We have not received any offers from Arsenal for any of our players."

It is also rumoured, West Brom goalkeeper, Tomasz Kuszczak, a Manchester United target could be involved in the deal as Arsenal are reportedly keeping tabs on him. This seems to me unlikely though.

In other news Arsenal are linked with Franck Ribery (Again!), it seems every other day I'm writing something about Ribery so there better be good reason. Whilst there is no new actual development in a move, a transfer to Lyon is looking increasingly less likely each day, with calls of 'tapping-up' driving a wedge between Marseille and Lyon.

Any transfer for Ribery would likely be in the £14 million pound mark as he has been previously valued at €20 million.

Finally Arsenal may be looking to cling onto Rangers target, Niklas Bendtner. Currently playing in the reserves Bendtner, from what I've seen, defiantly has more potential then the likes of Alliadere, maybe even Lupoli.

He had been noticed by Rangers who were preparing a move, yet today chances of a move seem to be dampened according to Rangers assistant manager, Yves Colleu:

"I don't know what will happen with Bendtner,"

"It is too early to say. We try because we know this player, but Arsenal for the moment want to keep him.”

Rumour Mill: One leaving, one coming.

Keeping it quick today as I am in a hurry so just one rumour. As previously reported Arsenal are again linked with Steven Appiah. But today The Sun is claiming, Fenerbahce want to secure the services of ex-gunner Sol Campbell before Arsenal make a move.

It seems clear Appiah wants to come to Arsenal after making no bones about his future.

“No deal has been done yet but 50 per cent of me is coming to Arsenal.

“Clubs like AS Roma, Juventus and Marseille all want me. But I don’t want to go to Italy again.

“I prefer Arsenal — they are my No 1 choice, the Premiership is the league to be in right now and I think it will be good for my career.

“I’m in the best shape of my career and I want to win more trophies. Playing in London would be great but let’s wait and see what happens.”

It seems clear the player wants to come and I would hate to see Sol as a potential stumbling block.

Enough said...

After a recent quiet period of transfer rumours I was pleased to find my mailbox stuffed with them today.

Let's kick things off with long time Arsenal target Franck Ribery dropping one of the most poorly disguised hints of the pre-season so far.

"I'd love to play for a big club in England and nothing would be more ideal than to be with a French coach."

Ribery still looks likely to remain in France however, with a move to champions Lyon looking the most obvious.

"I went to a foreign club too early (in my career) and it was not the right environment for me."

"But this is not the time to speak about my future. I have the World Cup and that is bigger than anything in my life right now."

French compatriot Lillian Thuram could also be on his way to Ashburton Grove. According to the Sunday People (Yes, I know not the most reliable of sources), Thuram would provide adequate cover for Sol Campbell who recently left the club. I find it hard to see Wenger signing a 34 year old, but if it is just for cover for a few months or even a season it could just happen, especially with all the trouble Juventus are in.

The News of the World today has re-ignited the Yaya Toure speculation, claiming he wants to play in the same side as his brother (Kolo).

"I do not want to play for Olympiakos any more. The people responsible are those who don't treat me like a professional. I want to play in the same side as my brother"

And finally he may have inherited the number 4 shirt, but with that comes the unstoppable speculation over his future, mostly from Real Madrid. It was good today to see Cesc Fabregas come out and try to dampen the rumours today claiming he's a gooner through and through.

"I'm not thinking of anything other than playing for Arsenal next season," he told the Mundo Deportivo newspaper.

"I'm an Arsenal player 100%. No-one has told me anything to the contrary."

Although there is a worrying omen for the future:

"Sooner or later I would like to play in the Spanish league as I left when I was 16 and I haven't had the chance but at the moment I am really good in England,"

Campbell has left Arsenal.

I'm sure it's no longer news to any one so I'll keep it short, Sol Campbell has officially left Arsenal.

It's a shame Sol has to bow out after a bad season, but he's been a fantastic player for us over the years and I wish him the best.

The official statement can be found here.

Rumour Mill: Arsenal watching midfielder

The news has again been rather quiet but I've managed to find one juicy transfer rumour.

Arsenal target, Jaime Gavilan, could be on his way to North London as Valencia hit a stumbling block over the renewal of his contract, with team-mate David Silva following suit, albeit to Spurs.

Gavilan, who was on loan at Getafe last season, was expected to sign a new deal at Valencia until 2011 but it now appears this may not be the case.

Valencia's sporting director Amadeo Carboni admits there have been problems standing in the way.

"The club want them to stay and they also wish it to be so. Although, yes, it is certain that there is some problem in the negotiation."

The issue seems to be money, with Silva telling a radio show:

"We deserve something more than what we have. The truth is that, yes, we have received offers from other teams that value us."

The pair are expected to remain in Valencia but if issues aren't resolved the players could be on their way.

Rumour Mill: Arsenal linked with World Cup Captain

The rumours are a bit scarce today but I have managed to lift a few from the gossip pages.

Firstly, Arsenal are reportedly chasing Ghanaian captain Stephen Appiah. Appiah currently play for Fenerbahce and according to the Daily Express could be set for a £7 million pound move.

Another day goes by, another rumour about Cesc Fabregas going to Spain. However this time it seems Barcelona could do us a favour. According to the El Mundo Deportivo, when Arsenal signed Cesc in 2003 from Barca, a clause was added to the contract allowing Barca to choose to veto a move to any Spanish club. Effectively allowing Barca to block Cesc moving to Madrid and to remain in England.

Allez Les Bleus: France are through to the Final

Thierry Henry's French side have qualified for the World Cup final with a 1-0 win over Portugal.

Henry went down from a trip by Carvalho which in my opinion was a cast-iron penatly, the ref though similary and awarded the decision to the French. Zindane stepped up and converted with ease, but the French slid back into thier old ways and began to sit back. France looked like they lacked urgency after the goal, allowing the Portugese to step up a gear and pile on the chances. Barthez's bumbling antics had a few French hearts racing but the French were pretty solid at the back.

In all Thierry played well for the majority of the game but into the latter stages lacked the attacking edge we saw earlier. Vieira is starting to show signs of tiredness but is still playing well above the standard set at Juventus.

So it's an all European final with Italy vs France. Shame there are few Gunners left in the competition but it promises to be a cracking game.

When and why was Pascal Cygan's contract extended?


This week Cygan revealed that he has one more year left on his contract. Signed on a 3 year deal in 2002 when he was 28, this shocking revelation begs the question as to what point did Arsene Wenger feel that he was good enough to warrant an extension to his contract.

If you objectively look at the way he has played over his four hapless seasons at Highbury, you definitely have to wonder on what basis one of the most ridiculed players in the Premiership can be allowed to stay at a highly ambitious club like Arsenal on a rumoured £25 000 a week.

The man is a liability, make no mistake about that. He is prone to make one or two major cock- ups in every game he plays. He is slow and there can be questions about his marking and the general nervousness that he instills in the whole defence when he plays is baffling.

Yet his contract was extended. I was expecting him to be released last year, but he made a similar interview and announced he still had a year left.

This comes after Jeremy Aliadiere cockily announced on Sky Sports that he was offered a new 4 year deal last year. Aliadiere has done nothing at Arsenal and all his loan spells have been unimpressive and two at Celtic and West Ham were unmitigated failures.

There is a definite French clique at Arsenal and that is not right. I wrote this in the aftermath of the £2.9m signing of rubbish midfielder Alex Song on a 4 year deal when Redsblog was still in its embryonic stage:

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... (Article continues here)

Rumour Mill: Saviola, Fabregas and Gilberto.

I've sifted through most of the gossip again to bring you the latest news on the Arsenal transfer front.

Firstly, there is renewed speculation about Javier Saviola, with reports in Spain claiming Barcelona are showing him the door. Arsenal have been previously linked with the Argentine forward so a move could just happen. Saviola however is focusing on remaining at Barca.

"I am preparing myself for doing pre-season with the team."

Again there is yet more speculation about Fabregas to Madrid, and honestly I'm getting sick of it. With his agent claiming Cesc would be "open" to a return to Spain they may just be a slight hint of truth to these rumours. However I would expect to see Cesc jog out on to the new pitch at Ash Burton Grove next season regardless of these rumours.

Finally Gilberto has been linked with a surprise move to French champions Lyon. Lyon chairman Jean-Michel Aulas recently spoke to Gilberto during the World Cup in Germany during a visit to the Brazil squad. Apparently a swap for Mahamadou Diarra could be on the cards.

I would hat to see Gilberto leave as he proved invaluable last season, slotting into a Vieira-ish role extremely well.

Lehmann unlucky as Germany's cup run ends.

Arsenal goalkeeper, Jens Lehmann was perhaps the best player on the German team that lost 2-0 to Italy tonight. The game went to extra time after a 0-0 stalemate and was looking like penalties untill a late double brace by Italy.

Lehmann kept Germany in the game time after time, outperforming the lacklustre defence in front of him. At the end of the day Germany have only themselves to blame for not taking thier chances and having an appalling defence.

Still there was some humour in the night, as I was again reminded of my hatred of ITV commentary when I heard this after Ballack had dived for a challenge:

"He'll have to get that out of his system, they don't dive at Chelsea do they?"



England Comment: Premiership Refs let Rooney down at World Cup


Another tournament, another penalty shoot out exit. However, it could have been all different for England , had it not been for a bout of petulance from Wayne Rooney.

The decisive factor was Rooney stamping on Ricardo Carvalho's groin and despite the treacherous part played by his pal "Winker" Cristiano Ronaldo, this can be seen as a consequence of how Premiership referees conduct their business.

Time and time again, Rooney has been allowed to wrestle, shove or swear at opponents or referees. He swore at captain David Beckham, when the latter was wisely trying to restrain him against Northern Ireland. Arsenal fans remember when he was caught on camera swearing over 100 times at Highbury and still got away with nothing.

Premiership referees like Graham Poll would cajole him instead of booking or sending him off, while the great bastion of morality that is Alan Hansen would disguise it as "UNBELIEVABLE" passion when Rooney is being plain thuggish.

It is understandable that Rooney plays to his strengths but it would have been better if he got sent off in the Premiership every now and then, rather than finding out in the biggest stage of all for England that you will not be allowed to get away with murder.

The ironic part is that Wayne was not sent off for the stamp. He was sent off for shoving the sissy Cristiano Ronaldo. After several replays of the incident, I am convinced that the referee only showed the red card after seeing Rooney pushing Ronaldo. Had he seen the stamp, he would have immediately given a straight red.

The saddening part is that England went on to give their best performance of the tournament and were unlucky to lose with their spirited display against 11 men Portugal. It is a measure of the ineptness of Sven , that England drifted into the boring long ball game plan but bursted into life after the sending off of Rooney.

At times, it seemed that it was Steve McLaren calling the shots and that says a lot about Sven's expensive and fruitless 5 year reign.

As for the rest of the World Cup, Germany seems like the strongest team but the best manager out of the four is Phil Scolari, who is in every bit the Sven antidote.

Arsenal have released official pictures of the new kit, and it's no different from what we have already seen. Also we've seen pictures of the new Goalies kit, I hope Jens likes green... The away kit has yet to be officially confirmed but is expected to remain the same as last years with a new sponsor (Emirates)


Is the grass still greener in España?

Whilst contemplating what to do until the football comes back, I thought I’d trawl through the latest rumours from Spain. Usually comical, these rumours involve Person A from Real Madrid saying he's signed Person X from Arsenal, with usually no truth in the rumour at all.

But it was then that it hit me, why do clubs like Madrid or Barcelona have to lie about their attempts to sign players? Thierry Henry was a done deal for Barca even up to when the ink was still drying on his brand new Arsenal contract. Cesc Fabregas has come out again and again saying he's an Arsenal player and he will remain one, despite apparently signing a 5 year agreement with every Madrid presidential candidate.

Why can't Madrid or Barca sign these players anymore, when under ten years ago they could have anyone they want? Well there are several reasons for this; firstly money, the emergence of Chelsea as the cash-cow of modern football has priced out even the likes of Barca and Madrid. Whilst Madrid can out bid Arsenal for Baptista, they can't out bid Chelsea for Shevchenko.

The lure and glamour has also gone from the game in Spain. Plagued by racism, the league isn't the most attractive option for players such as Thierry Henry, whom you may have noticed is black and an active protester of racism in the game.

There's also the chance you won’t even get a game. When Arsenal sold Manu Petit and Nicolas Anelka to Barca and Madrid, neither made much of an impact. Certainly not the same either made at Highbury. Michael Owen is a good example of this, making most appearances as a substitute in his time in La Liga. Owen's desperate move to strugglers Newcastle showed just how much he wanted out of Madrid.

The amount of players either club has for each position can also hinder a player’s career, why would Cesc or Thierry want to be competing with 5 or more different players for one place?

Certainly the gaps between the top clubs is decreasing. Arsenal could afford the same wages Henry would get at Barca and a player looking for European success would stand just as much chance at an English club then they would at Madrid.

I could go on but it seems the all the glitz and the aura surrounding the Spanish game is no longer attractive to Person X, and I for one am glad for it, the days of poaching others talents could be at an end.

Beckham stepping down: Good move or not?

The hot topic today is that England captain David Beckham has decided to relinquish the armband and hand over to someone else. Beckham said at a press conference.

"I feel the time is right to pass on the armband as we enter a new era under new coach Steve McClaren."

This came as a surprise to me, despite England's exit from the World Cup. But it is a good move or a bad move for England? Well to decide you have to look at what type of captain Beckham is.

Beckham is not renowned for being a Roy Keane style captain, that will scream and yell at his own players as much as the opponents. You could say this is detrimental to the team’s effort as Beckham is too easy and soft on his players when they make a mistake. But, this attitude often backfires, Roy Keane's impatience with his Manchester United team-mates eventually resulted in his leaving the club, Zidane lost his temper with his own players in France's game against South Korea earlier, openly arguing on the pitch and France went on to throw the game away.

Beckham's quiet attitude reflects that of Sven, not one to scream until his face turns red. The last thing you want is a major difference between captain and manager, otherwise there’s a conflict of who or not is leading the players. But Sven is not the manager anymore, now we have a very different animal in Steve McClaren.

Beckham's celebrity icon style is both a good and bad thing, good because it gives the players a respect for him, but bad because it builds up an aura of hype around him, often exaggerating his own abilities. Also when he hands over the armband, he'll still be the biggest name on the pitch, whilst taking orders from Gary Neville or someone.

Which brings me to possible replacements; Gary Neville, I can't see this happening, he's too old for what will end up being a short term role. Wayne Rooney is a large figure, but is too young and volatile, often losing his mind on the pitch. My money is on John Terry, a captain of Chelsea, and will be in the England squad for the next 4 years. Whilst I dislike him personally I can't see anyone else taking the role, possibly Gerrard, we'll soon see.

World Cup: Thierry Henry sends France into the Semi-Finals.

Arsenal striker, Thierry Henry, sent Ronaldinho and Co. back to Brazil this evening by scoring France's winning goal in thier 1-0 over World Cup champions Brazil.

Henry, who previously had a goal ruled out for offside, got on the end of a free-kick unmarked to slot home the winner in the 57th minute.

France played some of the best football I have seen in the World Cup so far, and thoroughly deserved thier victory, outclassing Brazil at every turn.

Zidane and Vieira again proved thier critics wrong by playing some marvelous football, not what you would expect from two players in their 30's. Ribery again looked very impressive and he would be prove excellent in the Premiership.

Hats off to France, poor luck Gilberto.

The World Cup is over for England.

England have been knocked out of the World Cup in typical style, by losing a penalty shootout to Portugal. England lost 3-1 on penalties after the game ended in a stalemate after extra time. The match also saw Wayne Rooney lose his temper by stepping on Ricardo Carvalho's...area, resulting in a straight red card.

Speaking of Portugal, it would be unfair to say they deserved to go out, dominating the match but still allowing England to get back into the game and never looked to be an actual threat. Ricardo looked incredible in goal however, not just in penalties but in defending England's various set-peices and corners.

So four more years for England, maybe Theo Walcott might actually get into the squad for then...

Good morning, there have been some more rumours floating about since yesterday; some are believable whilst some are unlikely.

Firstly, the Mirror is reporting Chelsea are wanting to offload Hernan Crespo. I've heard Arsenal's name batted about but I think this should be taken with a pinch of salt. Crespo is 30, usually way outside the age-range for an Arsenè signing, a move to Roma or Lazio looks more likely.

Again to be taken with a pinch of salt, Reyes has been linked with Madrid. Jose Antonio Camacho, a coach, claims that:

"I have spoken to Reyes and he would love to come and join us, our vice-president has met Arsenal's David Dein and he will receive us on July 3 to close the deal."

Whilst 99.9% percent of these claims by Madrid are usually fabricated entirely, Reyes does appear unsettled in London, so a move could just happen.

In other, more realistic, news Carlos Salcido could be set for a move to North London for a reported £2.8 million. Salcido's name has been put forward by many as a replacement for Sol Campbell should he leave.

In an interview Salcido says he is flattered by the interest shown by Arsenal.

"The reality is that I knew that the Arsenal was... or rather, I know that Arsenal have been interested in me from the Confederations, and there was a good possibility of going to them, but they hoped to see just a little bit of the World Cup Finals to see how I coped"

"I know that Arsenal are a great team, I know that they play in the superior tournaments, and I would be very pleased to go to them."

Lastly, Sol Campbell's proposed move to Portsmouth could be in trouble. VitalFootball are reporting, through an inside source, that the reported £50,000 a week wage is supposedly out of Portsmouth £40,000 a week budget and Harry Redknapp has yet to even meet with Sol.



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