We've Moved!



That's right Redsblog is no more. We are now officially part of TopGooner.com

The new site is only new so may take a while to get things properly up and running but as of now it is officially what I would call home.

So give us time to work out the niggles and restore all the creature comforts but feel free to use what is up and running of the site now.

See you all there!

http://www.topgooner.com

Arsenal to be seriously loaded?

The total cost of the Emirates stadium project is £390,000,000.

This supposedly includes the cost of relocating all the businesses that were on the site and building a new recycling plant as well as the cost of converting Highbury into homes and building homes on the other sites as well.

There are more than 2,000 homes being built across the three sites.

It is reasonable to assume that the average selling price of these homes will be £250,000.

This means that over the next 3-5 years as they finish the redevelopments and sell the properties they’ll receive £500,000,000.

Right?

The stadium will have the highest match-day income of any stadium in the world, which is enough to easily service the debt AND we’re going to have half a billion pour into the club?

Am I missing something?

Walcott left out?


While the big hoo-hah concerning Ashley Cole's exclusion from the Villa game (which is fair enough considering a possible backlash from the fans) goes on, I am more worried about the fact that Theo Walcott has not been included in the provisional squad.

What is the reasoning behind that decision given the fact that Rosicky and Reyes are both out and Ljungberg is being rushed back to be included? Considering his goal for the England's U-21 in mid-week, you would have thought that he would at least warranted a place on the bench.

It also surprises me that the trio of Aliadiere, Song and Traore is included ahead of him. Surely Walcott stood a better chance than Aliadiere- who scored 2 goals in 14 games at Wolverhampton last season. 16 year old Traore is also included but Flamini and Hoyte are most definitely covering at left back.

That's a strange one, any comments?

Site News: Updates, Colour schemes and Dot Coms.

Apologies for the lack of updates to the site on my half at least but I've been working on securing a brand new domain for the site which will open soon. Expect a fresher, brighter design as I've been hearing some complaints about how difficult it is to read the blog.

The new site will be an expansion on this current one allowing more content then just news and opinion, and so I may be on the look out for more help...possibly.

Anyways that is all you may go about your daily business now.


The Community Shield revealed just how much a superior technical side Arsenal is to the two current Premiership powerhouses of Chelsea and Liverpool. Arsenal played a superb game against Zagreb, showing slick interchange and brilliant movement. The Community Shield showed two sides supremely confident in their tactical abilities and physical strength.

Arsene Wenger is a visionary. The Emirates Stadium is very much his project. He has a vision of how the game should be played and his youngsters-and recent signings-all point that he wants his players to be lightning quick and highly technical.

Wenger spotted a future superstar of the game in Fabregas. Fabregas will be the cornerstone of the side, the one who dictates the pace and fluency of the game.

Arsene knows that he will not be able to match Chelsea's spending ability as long as Abrahamovic bankrolls them. Therefore, he is building a side that could play the best football in Europe-although some would say that they already do.

Arsene seems to have set his sights on winning the Premiership in the 2007-2008 season. By then, expect Diaby, Walcott, Merida and Djourou to be superstars of the game.

The thing is that this Arsenal side does not have to wait for next season. They can win the title this season. The Community Shield showed that Chelsea could be there for the taking in this coming season. What Arsenal have to make sure is that it is them - and not Liverpool or Man Utd- that is ready to pounce if the unthinkable happens.

To do this, Arsenal needs another central midfielder to Fabregas, Gilberto and Flamini. Diaby has had a serious injury and while he will be back in November, he will certainly need a period of adaptation to reach his peak.

The fact is that Toure, Gilberto and Fabregas will not be able to play 60 games each next season. An injury to either one of them could deeply hurt Arsenal.

If a Reyes - Baptista swap is a possibility, Arsenal should make it happen as soon as possible. Wenger could transform "The Beast" into an all action midfielder. However, a Madrid-based friend of mine has told me that the reason the deal is stalling is that Fabio Cappello himself is not as keen on Reyes and certainly not for the price being mentionned.

The other player that could still move to Arsenal is Curtis Davies. A quick and athletic English centre back, Davies will be the perfect addition to the already promising trio of Toure, Senderos and Djourou. Davies can also play at left back. The reason that Lupoli has not yet gone to Derby is that Arsenal want him to be the bait to clinch the deal with WBA.

Get those two players and Arsene's grand plan could come to fruition in 2007, not in 2008.

RG looks at our rivals: Liverpool



To continue with our season preview, we will today look at Liverpool. I will look at their relevant strengths and weaknesses and predicted finish- though the one on Man Utd (see here ) attracted a few angry responses from some of their fans.

The Gaffer

Rafa Benitez is quietly turning Liverpool into genuine title contenders. His first season (in 2004-2005) was one where he was himself finding his feet in the Premiership but remarkably ended with the Champions League. Liverpool's strong finish last season points to Benitez's growing understanding of the English game. He won the title twice in his homeland with Valencia when Real's Galacticos were in their peak so it shows that he can produce title-winning teams. Coupled with the FA Cup last season and the UEFA Cup at Valencia, Liverpool would feel that they have finally a manager that can can bring their first title since 1990.

Benitez is a quiet man and he did not self-appoint himself as the "Special One" after his Champions League win. He is possibly having the upper hand in the growing feud with Mourinho, though the latter must have a point that Benitez's Liverpoool can sometimes play a defensive style.

Strengths

They play a tactical game that can even gather more cutting edge this season, especially with the addition of pacy trio Bellamy, Pennant and Gonzalez. Of course, they also have a genuine leader in the centre of the park in Steven Gerrard, who drives them on in most matches. Their strong finish last year, the FA Cup win and the win over Chelsea in the Community Shield will make them start the season with confidence. Sissoko, Gerrard and Alonso forms a formidable midfield indeed.

Weaknessess

Scoring goals could still be a problem as an attacking quintet of Crouch, Bellamy, Fowler, Luis Garcia and Sinama-Pongolle will not frighten many Premiership teams. They relied far too heavily on Gerrard for goals last season but it is believed that Benitez is trying to bring in another striker. Their type of football can look laboured at times and they did not impress against Maccabi Haifa and lost a lot of their pre-season games.

Transfer activity

Bellamy and Pennant add much needed pace to the side while Mark Gonzalez already looks like an exciting signing. They lost Cisse, who I thought was a bit harshly treated as he looked their most dangerous forward at times last season.

Prediction

Will be stronger than last season and they won 11 out of their last 12 last season (though that defeat was against Arsenal) Rank: 2nd

God help us all!

Terrible news today.
Graham "I can't count to 2" Poll is in charge for the first game at Ashburton.
Predictions:
2 Arsenal sendings off
1 Arsenal goal disallowed
1 Penalty for Aston Villa

How will the new stadium affect Arsenal?

Hopefully this time next week we’ll be celebrating our first competitive win at our amazing new stadium. But while it is jawdroppingly impressive it may be worth thinking about the potential effects the new stadium is going to have on our season. Our top three home record at Highbury last year saved us from the humiliation of being beaten in the league by Spurs.

This season I’m confident that our away form will be much better, notice, for example, how for Cesc’s second goal against Dinamo, he wasn’t bumped off the ball like he would have been last season. Improved away results should mean we can be back in the top two, but that’s reliant on maintaining our home form.

We know what our players can do on a larger pitch, they showed at the Bernabéu how the pace that we have in almost every player is used to full effect. Therefore we shouldn’t be worried about the impact of the new ground on our technical game, there are however question marks over the the psychological impact of playing in unfamiliar surroundings at first.

Hopefully we won’t be seeing a repeat of the European Wembley misadventures. Looking at other teams to have moved grounds recently offers little help as the only two of note have been Bolton who’ve done reasonably well since the move to the Reebok and Southampton who have of course been relegated. One important factor that should make all the difference, is the level of involvement Arsene has had in the design and technical aspect of the stadium. It really has been built around him and his team and should fit like a bespoke suit.

As well as the effect on our players of not being at ‘home’ the effect on other teams cannot be underestimated. When we were on our unbeaten run teams expected to lose to us and that was a powerful advantage. This is something we need to regain and the new stadium could be vital in this respect.

The atmosphere at the Bergkamp testimonial was strange to say the least, but that was probably more down to the nature of the event than the crowd and I think that Ashburton Grove has the capacity to become a place that visiting teams find intimidating as long as the fans can find their voices. The faster we get used to The Emirates and make it ‘home’, the easier our team will find it to settle in, the less our opponents will look forward to coming and the sooner we’ll be spilling champagne on the pitch.

The Sunday Mirror is reporting today that Ashley Cole is on his way to our TV screens in an all new fly-on-the-wall TV extravaganza.

The 6 part series will air on ITV in November and filming has taken place since his wedding.

An "insider" whoever that is, claims:

"The series is taking four months to film - and will show how romantic Ashley is. And fans will be able to see how down-to-earth the couple are. They're just a couple of ordinary people living amazing lives.

"They've accepted there will be embarrassing bits, but they're happy to show what goes on in their day-to-day world as the new Posh and Becks."

''It'll show how romantic he is.. and how down-to-earth the new Posh & Becks are''

Well this little excuse for an ego trip takes Mr.Tweedy one step closer to his role as a poor man's David Beckham.

And truly is there anything more romantic than a full television camera crew following you around during your honeymoon? Aaahhhhh.

Cesc Fabregas: A mature head on young shoulders.

On reading Cesc Fabregas' latest comments about his tenure at the club, it reminded me of what I've thought for some time now, that he is a welcome change to the usual breed of footballer we have become accustomed to in the Premier league.

When comparing him to players such as Wayne Rooney who acts like a high-street chav both on and off the pitch and yet is rarely lambasted for it, (e.g. World Cup stamp, Ronaldo becomes the scapegoat) you can see just how focused and sensible a player like Cesc is.

Already he hasn't got his head up in the clouds like your typical premiership prima donna, despite increasing popularity and inevitably, increased attention from other clubs. Cesc is adamant that he will remain at Arsenal, whoever comes knocking.

"I know I am at a big club with a big team - great players and a great manager. At my age - or any age - I do not think there is a better club to be at than Arsenal."

"People have said that I could be playing for Real, and they came to my agent - but I knew there was not a better club (than Arsenal) to play for."
Cesc is confident of Arsenal's chances this season and is not letting any speculation of transfers both in and out of the club prey on his mind, he shows a clear and an overall determination in the team and realises now this is his chance to shine.
"Of course, the expectation is very high this year. It could be a very good year if we win the Premier League or another important competition."

"I realise that it could be my year and Arsenal's year because we have a great team. If you play well, the team will do well and that for me is the most important thing."
And to think, this boy is only 19! I think he will hit the ground running this season and will prove to be one hell of a player and equally a professional both on and off the pitch.

Henry: I really hope there will be some new arrivals

Thierry Henry has made it clear he wishes Arsene Wenger to bring in some new blood to the team before the end of the month. Speaking in his column for the Sun, Henry made no bones about it.

"Along with Sol, Dennis and possibly Ashley, Robert Pires has also left us. It’s a big shame they’ve all gone."

"Before the end of this month, I really hope there will be some new arrivals to follow Tomas Rosicky."

However, Thierry is also confident in the spine of team, made up by Kolo Toure, Jens Lehmann and Gilberto.

"They’re no longer the new guys at this club and there is no doubt those three will help this team build on what we delivered last season "

"Jens is so vocal. I’ll admit this but not all players like it as he shouts and has a go. He had a great year last year and was brilliant in the World Cup. He’s an amazing player to have in the team."

"I can reveal Gilberto will be my vice-captain and, while he’s hardly a screamer, he calms the team down. He’s Brazilian. He’s chilled."

"Kolo is more vocal and, like the other two, forms the backbone of the current Arsenal side."

"So those three have a big role — it can’t just be me as leader. And despite the exit of some great players, I’m genuinely excited about this season."


Despite some questions over his deciding to remain at Arsenal with is basis on youngsters making up the bulk of the team, Thierry is confident he made the right choice.

"I have been asked whether there is any regret in not joining Barcelona but of course there isn’t."

"Arsenal is my club, London is my home. I can’t see myself ever leaving this great city."


Couldn't have said it better myself.

Chelsea are lying liars...Cole bid increased.

Despite claiming quite forcefully that they would "not pay £1 more" for Ashley Cole, Chelsea have reportedly upped there bid by 7 million £1's more.

According to various sources including the Telegraph, Chelsea have re-submitted a transfer in the value of £23 million pounds, closer to Arsenal's original valuation of the player at in between £25-30 million.

So what happens now? Well It's still lower then what Arsenal want but to be honest I don't care any more I just want to see this done and dusted and I'm sure any Chelsea fans reading this agree.

Cracking the Reyes/Ribery Enigma


No pre-season story has had as many twists and turns this year as the ongoing transfer sagas of Jose Reyes and Franck Ribery. With stories coming out every day seemingly contradicting each other, with one person promising to stay and then tomorrow he's on the brink of leaving.

So what the bloody hell is going on?

Firstly let’s look at Ribery. Arsenal had been linked to Ribery leading up to the World Cup, with Wenger apparently using the competition to judge the player; Ribery had also been flirting with a move to Lyon for some time.

After the tournament rumours spread of Ribery joining a host of other clubs including Arsenal, Manchester United, Tottenham (!) and Lyon amongst others. But these were quelled with Ribery coming out Thierry Henry style and committing his future to Marseille.

Only for days later for him to change his mind and say he wants to move to a particular club to play Champions League football. Arsenal were linked with an imminent move, however Wenger categorically denied it and eventually Ribery changed his mind again, claiming he now really wants to stay at Marseille.

And he we are today. My theory on the subject is simple; Ribery (who is not the most loyal cookie in the jar) wanted to leave Marseille, to Arsenal or Lyon. However Wenger had no such interest in a move and Lyon's apparent bid for the player turned out to be false, so Ribery is forced to stay at Marseille as seemingly no-one wants him, and he needs to get the fans back on his side after angering them by threading to leave. And the best way to do this is to commit yourself to the club publicly hence the second statement of wishing to remain...simple.

Now onto Reyes.

You'd be forgiven for thinking Reyes is seemingly suffering from schizophrenia with the amount of contradiction in the press.

There had always been murmurs in the background of an apparent Reyes move to Madrid, but this came to the forefront when Spanish publication, Marca, claimed he desperately wanted a move to Real. Reyes came out on the Arsenal website categorically denying it. The exact same thing happened in the next few days with Reyes claiming he wanted out and then saying Marca made it all up.

All seemed settled then. Until we saw a picture of Reyes in a Madrid shirt posing and clutching the badge. This was seemingly an innocent picture however as it was taken privately before Arsenal's match with Madrid.

And then Reyes didn't play in Arsenal's Champions League qualifier. The match would have cup-tied him if he went to Madrid. However Wenger said he didn't play him as all the talk of his future "unsettled" him. Believable but suspicious.

So everything seemed fine and dandy, until Reyes appeared on both the cover and the website of Marca. And the words "Oh for fuck's sake, Jose!!" sprang to my mind.

And then yesterday he was in the team photo whilst Ashley Cole wasn't, so what does that mean!

My theory then. Reyes wants a move to Madrid but he's had some trouble trying to tell Wenger about it, who wants Reyes to stay. If Real are interested and Wenger wanted rid of Jose he would be gone by now. But Wenger does not like to be proven wrong, he does not want Reyes to be seen as a flop.

Wenger wants to hold onto Reyes and I think will try quite hard to make things as difficult as possible for Madrid to get their man. Hence the recent dangling of a Baptista shaped carrot in front of Arsene's face. With the addition of money plus a Baptista swap it may just be enough to make Wenger forget about Reyes and let him leave.

Well that's what I think anyway....

Hot Prospects II: Nicklas Bendtner (with video)

Continuing on from my last venture into Arsenal's reserve team highlighting the potential of Arturo Lupoli, my attention is switched to that of temporary Birmingham employee, Nicklas Bendtner.

Despite having a surname I still struggle to spell, Nicklas has some talent. Actually that's an understatement, if you haven't already watch the accompanying video with this article and you'll see what I mean.

Having already showed a promising future partnership with Lupoli in the reserves last season Bendter made his first team debut in the league cup in the 3-0 win over Sunderland. Whilst he has yet to score in his few appearances for the first team his record in the reserves is impeccable, netting 27 times last season from 30 starts.

He offers a different option to that of Lupoli in that he has a much larger physical impression, standing at 6'3", this counteracts seemingly the only criticism of Lupoli, in a partnership that gels incredibly fluidly already.

Whilst on loan at Birmingham this season Bendtner has already made his mark. Having scored on his debut and turning up a man of the match performance in his second game.

And the good news is he's due back in January!

Are Chelsea scared of Wenger?

The recent news is that Chelsea have had an offer turned down for Ashley Cole because it was too low. The offer is rumoured to be in the region of £16 million which is ridiculous, seeing as unproven English players can go for £21 million.

Now we all know Chelsea can afford this, we know, Chelsea know, but more importantly Arsenal know. To meet Arsenal's interpretation of Cole's value Chelsea are looking at in between £25-30 million, so why aren't they forking out?

Well you could tell something was up when Mourinho was saying a few days earlier how he was ready to look elsewhere and had the nerve to set a deadline for Arsenal, and now with deliberately undervalued offers Chelsea think they are turning the screw on Arsenal. When in reality they are not. The pressure is not on Arsenal to sell, we don't need the money desperately and there is a possibility Cole could even remain at the club, he's still got 2 years left on his contract.

What I think they are up to is simple. Chelsea do not want to give Arsenal some serious spending power in the form of £25 million+. That kind of money in Wenger's hands is worth at least double what it is to Chelsea...and they know it.

The thing is the pressure is not on Arsenal but Chelsea, Wenger has hinted that if things aren't sorted out by the home leg of the Champions league qualifier Cole will play and probably stay where he is.

Oh well there’s always Wayne Bridge ey?

Chelsea/Cole Statement: "no agreement can be reached"

An official statement released by Chelsea has claimed Arsenal have turned down an offer for Ashley Cole, stating it is too low.

The official statement read as follows:

"Chelsea FC has been in discussions with Arsenal Football Club for some time over the possible transfer of Ashley Cole.

“Chelsea has made a very substantial offer for the player. Although discussions have continued, Arsenal’s valuation of the player does not match Chelsea’s and therefore no agreement can be reached in the current circumstances ."

It is rumoured to be in the region of £16million pounds, and this is coming from the club who paid £21m for Shaun Wright Phillips and a market where English players such as Carrick can be sold for £18m.

Tut.

Franck Ribery: Buying into Disloyalty?

As you are aware the buzz at the moment (and for quite some time now) has been about Franck Ribery potentially joining Arsenal. But with the debate about Ashley Cole's loyalty raging on, isn't about time we looked at what we could be getting our selves into?

Firstly let's look at Ribery's record of previous employers:

2001-2002 - US Bologna
2002-2003 - Olympique Ales
2003-2004 - Stade Brestois 29
2004-2005 - FC Metz
2005-2005 - Galatasary
2005-2006 - Olympique Marseille

So if he where to come to Arsenal that would be an unnerving 7 clubs in 5 years.

He's no stranger to controversy either, having simply walked out on his contract at Galatasary, however he did claim unpaid wages.

His word doesn't seem to be worth much either, a few weeks ago he said this:

"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."

Only for days later to say he wants out of the club.
"My wish is to leave Marseille,"

"I want to play in the Champions League and to keep improving. The (Marseille) club officials know where I want to go and the club I wish to sign for also know it. Now they have to reach an agreement."

Now he's a fine player and I know there are two sides to every story, I'm not one to judge a book by its cover. However with the stories of Reyes and Cole wanting out of the club, this is something to be wary about.

There have been some intriguing comments made to the press recently which partly hint that Ashley Cole's transfer to Chelsea might not be as clear cut as originally thought.

Today, Thierry Henry has been quoted as saying he would like to hold onto Cole if he had the chance, and losing him would be a massive blow. Henry fears a Vieira-esque situation in which the absence of the player last season was a mental loss to the players.


"Obviously we want him to stay. He is one of the best left-backs in the world. We would miss him badly,"

"I don't know anything about the situation with Chelsea. But if he goes there it will look like we are trying to catch a team at the same time as giving them one of our best assets."

Jose Mourinho has also been moaning (shock horror!) and is becoming impatient with the move. He has said he will go elsewhere if a move is not completed shortly.

"If we have no solution about him in a couple of days, we turn the corner and we see other faces."

"Ashley Cole has not left yet, and if he does, we still have players who can come in for him or we can buy...the player belongs to Arsenal, we cannot do anything about it."

Wenger has been keeping pretty tight-lipped other than to say he also wants to see the player’s future resolved, one way or the other, pretty quickly.

If Ashley where to stay it would mean having the best left back in the country, but it would also mean carrying the new baggage he's picked up. He might not get the best reaction or support from Arsenal fans having already burned some bridges.

If a move isn't settled soon he could go for peanuts next year or for free the year after that, we will have to wait and see. But for now the ball is in Arsenal's court.

Reyes not playing - speculation increases.

Jose Antonio Reyes' future is again in question after it was revealed he would not start in tonight's match. Instead he's on the bench fueling speculation of a move to Madrid.

Reyes would be cup-tied for the Champions league if he plays substantially reducing his potential transfer fee.

Tomas Rosicky makes his first competitive start in what should be a straight swap with Reyes.

Now this could be Wenger wanting to let Rosicky start, after all Reyes is going to be more tired then Rosicky who may not play the full 90 minutes, we could just be jumping to conclusions. Then again I could be making excuses, clinging onto any false hope.

If Reyes plays tonight he stays if he doesn't he's gone. That my theory.

Update: Well...I guess that settles that then, Reyes is a goner Gooner.

Arsenal transfer in jeopardy.

On trial, Ghana defender Shila Illiasu's move to Arsenal could now be hanging in the balance after a dispute between the players former clubs.

The defender is said to have impressed Arsené Wenger, who is reportedly looking to complete a permanent move estimated at £500,000. But everything could be put on hold after Illiasu's former club Faisal are claiming a cut in any transfer fee between Arsenal and his current club Kotoko.

It is feared the transfer could be scrapped entirely if the move gets held up in a dispute.

Lay off José.

José Antonio Reyes has again come under criticism for posing in a Real Madrid shirt which is the latest in a long line of rumours of the player apparently wanting away from Arsenal.

But people seem to be getting the wrong idea. Reyes has not said once publicly he wants to leave the club. Those photos were taken before last seasons Madrid game, which makes sense, apparently by a friend. The situation is closer to the Barca shirt wearing linesman before last seasons Champions League final. I almost regret publishing them now as people take a look at the pictures and jumping to conclusions, but it's not as if you wouldn't see them anywhere else.

Reyes has not said once that he wants to leave the club; he is part of a propaganda campaign by the publication Marca. This is the same Marca who seemingly fabricate quotes out of thin air, which Reyes is helpless to avoid. Every time one of these stories comes out Reyes publicly denies it what else can he do?

I admit the whole media roundabout over his future has confused me, the British tabloids adding their own spin to the situation only makes things worse, but from now on, unless José comes out and says he wants to play for Madrid or anyone else over Arsenal, he has my full backing.

There’s no denying Reyes may appear homesick, yet I see him trying to give his all every week running his head off and I think he's just as frustrated as everyone else when things don't work out (although he doesn't go as far to express it as a Thierry Henry style punching the pitch).

Reyes might just be a player to watch tonight, he's obviously got something to prove and some new found critics to silence tonight could just be his night.

Ribery: Arsenal £13.5m move in 48 hours.

The Guardian is hoping to put the final nail in the coffin that is the Franck Ribery transfer debacle.

According to the paper Ribery's agent claims that a transfer to Arsenal for Franck would be "registered with (Marseille's chairman) Pape Diouf within 24 or 48 hours."

The Guardian is a bit more reputable than the tabloids and also quotes from the France Football publication so I take this more seriously than I would something out of the Sun.

I just can't wait for this speculation to end, it's been going on for months now and I'm gettin sick of it as probably you are too.

Marca seem determined to make things as difficult as possible for Jose Reyes, creating gossip and speculation seemingly from nowhere, and this just seems to be the latest in a long line of fabrications.

As you can see from the picture thats Arsenal forward José Reyes posing in a Real Madrid shirt.

Reyes has been linked for some time now with a move to Real Madrid and just when you thought Wenger had done enough to quell the rumours we see this.

But according to The Sun they were taken before our Champions League match against Madrid last season.

But it seems it has little to do with the rumours of José joining Madrid and is more like the Barca shirt wearing ref before the Champions League final. It's simply Jose being duped by the Spanish media again, after all these come from every Spaniard's favourite rag, Marca.

One man's Gallas is another man's Ashley Cole

Despite my general resentment towards the 'Ashley Cole Saga' as the tabloids call it, and a new found discontent towards the player, I feel I must partly try to play devil's advocate and come to the defence of the want-away Gunner.

At least partly...

The reason I'm writing this is because looking around various Arsenal sites and forums, including this one, the general feeling amongst Gooners is that Ashley Cole is Satan incarnate for trying to leave his club and refusing to play, your common or garden Judas, whilst William Gallas is the rebel sticking it to the evil Chelsea management.

But to be honest can you really spot the difference? Both players have become increasingly bitter towards their clubs as time has moved on usually stemming from one incident (whether it be tapping up or playing left back and losing your squad number). Both have refused to train or play for the squad during pre-season. Both are looking for moves to their respective club's rivals, yet in the eyes of many Ashley is seen as the villain.

Why is this? Well to hazard a guess it's all about how each player has handled the situation. So far William Gallas had sent everything through his agent, remaining reclusive to the press and effectively keeping his mouth shut. Whilst Ashley Cole on the other hand has looked to capitalize on the situation. Selling his story to the tabloids to flog his autobiography, filling it with sensationalist quotes such as "I reveal the shattering truth" or "Arsenal fed me to the sharks". Ashley Cole is now paraded in your weekly copy of Heat and various other gossip magazines, marrying his superstar girlfriend and seemingly craving the David Beckham celebrity lifestyle, whilst peddling the National Lottery like a media whore.

Gallas is also expected to take a pay cut should he come to Arsenal, Ashley would get a bumper rise earning most likely around £100,000. Gallas is also even rumoured to be looking into buying himself out of contract, losing millions of his own money. But in the world of Premiership football everyone’s got a wallet fat enough to trounce an elephant, so money is rarely a question.

The killer difference for me is loyalty. Ashley Cole, unlike Gallas, is playing for the club he loved, the club he grew up with and the club that gave him a chance. He owes Arsenal, and yet he feels the need to lunch with Chelsea's finest. And to make things worse we gave him a chance, I cheered him on in Paris and applauded him off the pitch, yet he comes out with this "shattering truth" that just throws everything back in your face.

So this looks like the end Ashley, and whatever happens with Gallas I don't care, the question we have to ask ourselves is do we want to buy into the same attitude we are preparing to angrily toss out the club?

Arsenal vs D.Zagreb: A look at Arsenal's line-up


This is my expected line-up for tomorrow’s game against Dinamo Zagreb, and to me looks like a pretty good team.

Let's start at the top. Wenger has been starting Adebayor and van Persie together in the pre-season freindlys and it looks to have paid off. The two have a much better understanding of each other now and gel well together. I expect van Persie to be the more aggressive of the two, with Adebayor taking on a Bergkamp-esque role of trying to set up an attack.

The midfield looks solid and rightfully so with few problems to worry about. Reyes played his socks off in the first half against AZ Alkmaar but faded towards the end as he tired himself out. I hope to see more of the same but this time he should pace himself. Gilberto can slip back into defensive midfield allowing Hleb and Fabregas to join up to good effect, as we saw in the Alkmaar game. Rosicky is also available and I expect to see him make an appearence but most likely from the bench.

In defence, should Djourou get the nod ahead of Cygan, expect to see a very dynamic and attacking defence all four of them can come forward but I expect the centre backs to leave it to Hoyte and Ebouè to use their pace to come up and down the wings.

My only concern lies in goal. Manuel Almunia fluffed a few shots on goal and crosses in the last game and it's clear the defence don't trust him in the same way they do Lehmann.

Aside from that a strong Arsenal side, but tomorrow’s game is still going to be a tricky one.

Wenger: I'm not finished in transfer market.

Arsenè Wenger has revealed he is not finished in the transfer market just yet as he looks to buy one or two experienced players.

In an interview Wenger claims that he is happy with the youth orientated set up but some experienced shoulders could just be what the club needs.

“I have a lot of faith in my young players,” he said. “You always feel you need experienced players but if you have too many, the younger players will not play. I try to find the right balance between the experienced players and the young players.

“We still have some experienced players out at the moment — Henry, Lehmann - but having said that I will still buy one — with experience. The target is one or two. One certainly.”

When asked if he was in the market for a centre back or left back Wenger replied. “It is a possibility,” he said to both, giving nothing away as usual.

Ashley Cole has the sniffles

Ashley Cole is unfit/sick/injured/resting/etc. and will not be able to play in tommorow's Champions League qualifier. At least that's what Arsenal want you to think.

According to The Times today, Arsenal are expected to make up an excuse from one of the above for why Ashley Cole won't be featuring and cup-tieing himself in the match against Dinamo Zagreb.

In reality we all know this is to buy time in order to get Chelsea to complete a move for the money-grabbing left back and honestly it's a match made in heaven. A club and a player whose sole motivation is money, trampling over any good left in the game.

So expect to see Cole hanging about the subs bench for most of tommorow's game if he even bothers to turn up, despite being named in the squad already.

Hot Prospects: Arturo Lupoli

During the pre-season we've seen some of our brightest talents highlighted in the various friendlies and reserve matches put out by Arsenal. We've also seen some talents move to other clubs, temporally at least, with the likes of Muamba and Bendter going to Birmingham.

One player I wan't to see stay right where he is, is 18 year old Arturo Lupoli. It frustrates me to see this player get overlooked whilst players such as Aliadiere are given chance after chance yet fail to impress.

Lupoli is not a talent that can easily be let go, one just has to look at his impeccable record in the reserves; in his 15 appearances last season he netted 17 goals. In the brief chances he's had to play in the first team he's been able to make his mark, you may remember him scoring in the Carling Cup against Reading last season. He even won the Carling Cup New Talent Award, ahead of Man Utd's Rossi.

I hope the fact he is still at Arsenal rather than on loan like Bendter is Wenger has plans for him this year. It's my belief that Lupoli could fit into the first team this season, since making his debut in 2004 he has come on leaps and bounds.

As it stands he's a big fish in a tiny pond that is the reserve team, perhaps it's time for him to play along side the big guns in the Premiership. I think he's ready but does Wenger?

Arsenè this is not one to let slip by...

Arsenal are going to win the Premiership

A lot of the articles and comments on Arsenal sites have been decidedly negative this summer. The general feeling seems to be that we’ve lost too much talent without replacement to see any improvement on what was our worst season in a decade.

Arsenal fans are looking around and not liking what they see elsewhere. Liverpool's Rafalution continues apace, Chelsea seem to finally have got themselves a striker who’s going to get more goals than their midfielders and while they may have over-paid, Man U have got a good player in Carrick. And its easy to believe that Fergie would whip out the cheque book big style for a v. Nistelrooy replacement that’ll get them those 25 goals a season such as Torres.

However, I think there is a lot for us to feel positive about. Even if the league is more competitive this season I think that most people would admit that its very likely that it’ll be three in a row for Chelsea. What happens this season in terms of league positions is unimportant. What’s important is who first manages to break Chelsea’s stranglehold on the Premiership. And in the same way that Arsenal were the only team to prize it from Fergie’s grip I think Arsenal will be the first post-Chelsea premiership champions.

The current crop of players are not yet fully matured but will in a season or two finish their development into the invincibles mach 2. They have the skill to outplay anyone as they showed last season in the Champions League. The final pieces of the puzzle are consistency and in the case of our young strike force Henryesque finishing. The long European campaign and getting to within 90 seconds of the Carling Cup final (in contrast to Spurs' record breaking fewest games in a season).

The poor finishing we saw from Adebayor and vP will improve more quickly this season, and the understanding is getting better all the time. We’ll be seeing fewer mistimed runs, fewer flicks and step-overs to no-one and with our new back four fewer sloppy goals conceded.

This will be a team that will have been playing together from their late teens, when Cesc, vP, Senderos, Eboue and co. are hitting their peak in their early to mid 20s they’ll have 4/5 years as a group and will be a truly great team. A team that is fast, experienced, skillful, and most importantly hungry for success.

Henry is needed to keep us top 4 and in the Champions League for the next season or two, but when the new team is ready they won’t be reliant on him anymore and we will be champions.

Gallas: I'm leaving & Arsenal are waiting.

The News of the World today is reporting that William Gallas is on the brink of leaving Chelsea with Arsenal a likely destination.

Gallas' agent Pierre Frelot said: "William has decided to leave. Arsenal are interested and we have to find an agreement with Chelsea, even if I know they will do everything to keep him."

"Chelsea have made us a very good offer to sign a new contract but William would like to go and we will see what happens.

"However, I don't know if Chelsea will agree to sell him to one of their greatest rivals."

Gallas' future has been in doubt since he refused to go on tour with the rest of Chelsea in thier pre-season campaign in the USA.

RG looks at our rivals: Man Utd

I will be doing a mini season preview of our main rivals (Chelsea, Liverpool, Man Utd and sadly Spurs) for 2006-2007, with a look at their relevant strengths and weakenesses and predicted finish. We will start with Man Utd.

The Gaffer:

Without a doubt Britain´s most successful manager, Fergie has been at the helm for 19 years- a remarkable achievement in itself.
While the success has dried up in recent years, he has still managed to maintain a challenge at the top and still frighten some opposition managers and journalists alike.


Fergie´s confrontational style has made him many enemies over the years and he has fallen out with many of his players- the two latest ones none bigger than his talisman, Roy Keane and striker Ruud Van Nistelrooy.

Most people - including Man Utd fans- will recognise that this could be his last season in charge and while his fighting spirit is remarkable , there is no doubt that Ferguson is making more mistakes lately.

Some of his recent costly purchases have turned out to be duds- including the `new Vieira´ Djemba-Djemba and the`new Keane´, Liam Miller.

As has his recent attempts at mind games - which are looking more and more like outbursts. Witness the "We are as good as Chelsea, no question¨ and his recent `concern ´ at whether Arsenal will be able to fill the Emirates Stadium. More laughable is how he felt that if he signed Cantona for £1m and Shevchenko went for £35m, then it must mean that Shevchenko is 35 times better than Cantona. Though by his own logic, Veron must be 28 times better than Cantona, Evra 7 times better, Kleberson 7 times better, Ronaldo 12 times better, Smith 7 times better ....

Strengths

Man Utd always play with a high tempo that still unsettle opponents and tend to be high scorers in the Premiership. They made a strong finish last season, with the exception of the defeat at Chelsea. Van Der Sar has solved the goalkeeping problem and of course have stars in Ferdinand, Ronaldo and Rooney.

Weaknesses

There will be more questions raised about Rooney´s temperament this season than ever and Premiership referees will possibly pay closer attention to him. He was sent off in yesterday´s friendly against Porto for allegedly elbowing an opponent.

Winker Ronaldo is guaranteed a hard time in the Premiership this season and the departure of Van Nistelrooy will cost them as he guarantees at least twenty goals a season. The creative aspect of their midfield diminishes every season with the ageing Giggs and Scholes. Of course, though he is a good player, Carrick is no Keane.

Transfer activity

Carrick is a good addition to their squad, as he has a good range of passing and can hold the ball well. However, they definitely have overpaid for him....is he 18 times better than Cantona, Fergie?

They have lost prolific Van Nistelrooy and Quinton Fortune amongst others.

Prediction

They will still be dangerous and Fergie takes much pleasure in beating Arsenal, but there is a feeling of an end of an era in the air. Rank: 4th.

Arsenal cruise to comfortable 3-0 victory.

AZ ALKMAAR 0-3 ARSENAL
Gilberto 34, Adebayor 50, Van Persie 73
Friday 4th August 2006 - DSB Stadium

Arsenal ended their pre-season campaign with an easy 3-0 victory over Dutch side AZ Alkmaar, without ever really needing to excel.

The match started well with Arsenal dominating from the get go. Djourou was unlucky not to get on the scoresheet in the first five minutes by creating the games first chance. Along with Eboué it's good to see defenders coming forward to get on the end of chances.

In the midfield Hleb and Fabregas connected well together with each player relying on the other. The players were in tune enough for one to push forward and the other to create a good ball to get on the end of. In other partnerships I was again impressed with the Van Persie and Adebayor duo that had formed up front. The two are really starting to gel well together with each understanding what the other is going to do.

Reyes looked like he had something to prove today and shone in the first half. He looked very determined and ran his head off, not the mentality of a player rumoured to be leaving the club, he certainly looks as if he's fighting for his place in this weeks Champions League qualifier.

It was Reyes in fact, who opened up the scoring. A deep free kick that looked to be going wide was squeezed past the goal line of a Gilberto header in the 34th minute. Arsenal had christened AZ's new DSB stadium with it's first goal.

Gilberto had a chance to double his tally in the 50th minute after getting on the end of a lovely combination from the Arsenal midfield. Unfortunately for him his finish was weak and blocked by the keeper, Adebayor however was there to pounce on the rebound to poach Arsenal's second.

Robin van Persie looked very eager to get his goal and almost did so 2 minutes later when a shot managed to hit both posts before bouncing out to safety, this didn't put him off as in the 73rd minute he converted a penalty kick.

In all a pretty solid performance, it's easy to see the team weren’t really pushing themselves and fair enough, the last thing we want is more injuries. Some worries however involved the shakiness of Manuel Almunia, the defence never really looked like they trusted him but fortunately he wasn't really tested.

Arsenal sign Barca star...or so it seems.

Fran Merida has been included in tonight's squad for Arsenal XI vs Boreham Wood, seemingly ending the speculation of wether or not he will join Arsenal.

So why have Arsenal been keeping this hush-hush? Any deal should have been completed for Arsenal to name him in the squad.

Hopefully this will be cleared up sooner rather than later.

In the meantime I suggest checking out this video of our new signing.

Update: Apparently Merida scored in Arsenal XI's 4-0 over Boreham Wood. He grabbed the second goal of the game with a long range shot.

Reyes doesn't know if he's coming or going.

What's going on in the crazy world of José Antonio Reyes today? Well I'm sure you may have already read the latest 'quotes' from the player himself saying he now wants to leave Arsenal before he can be cup-tied in Arsenal's upcoming champions league qualifier.

He told Marca, who are not the most reputable of sources:

"He (Arsenè Wenger) has not said anything to me, and I do not know if I am going to play or not,"

"I hope not and that everything can be solved before. It is clear that if I play the move to Madrid would be complicated."

I read an enthralling interview on my in flight magazine featuring Reyes during my last holiday. In which I learned not only did he listen to Madonna but more importantly he missed Spain, "You have no time for a siesta here (London)" was among one of the many quotes.

I don't think these quotes can be shrugged off so easily as last weeks, in which the club was very quick to get Reyes to come out and rubbish the rumours.

So what the bloomin' hell is going on? Reyes is obviously homesick, when you watch him on the pitch he looks like a player with so much potential, being hampered by something. I honestly believe he is much better than he is given credit for and he would excel at a club like Madrid.

Perhaps this is the end of the road for José. But Wenger doesn't take being proven wrong easily, he spent a lot of money on Reyes and I don't think he wants to see his investment end so quickly Reyes and I don't think he wants to see his investment end so quickly and miserably.

Tonight’s game should certainly be very interesting.

Update: And now Reyes is denying any truth in the Marca story.

“I did not say these words,” said Reyes in response. “I’ll tell you once again, I am happy at Arsenal and I am looking forward to the coming campaign. We have a new stadium this season and we are pushing for honours in all competitions. I do not want to leave Arsenal."

There's a reason George Burley is managing Division 1

In what has been a barren week for any worthwhile news relating to Arsenal football club one headline caught my eye this morning. That being "Burley: Theo Could be Mr.Nobody", in other words a collection of stories surrounding George Burley's criticism of Theo Walcott at Arsenal.

Burley believes Walcott has made the wrong career choice in leaving Southampton for Arsenal, comparing him, unfairly, to ex-Arsenal goalie Richard Wright.

I just can't see how Walcott can be criticised for his time at Arsenal without playing a game. There are rumours spreading around Wenger has been far from impressed with Walcott and that’s the reason we have yet to see any sign of him, to me this is ridiculous.

The reason we didn't see Theo play during the tail end of last season is we didn't need to risk playing him. People seem to forget Walcott is still very young, I wouldn't want my first game in the Premiership to have so many expectations and demands required of me. The games in which Theo was available for had so much resting upon the result as we were chasing 4th place.

If Sven played Theo in the last 10 minutes of England's world cup campaign he would have been lambasted by the Press for taking such a gamble and Walcott wouldn't feel any better with the weight of a country on his shoulders.

Expect to see some of Theo next season as he still continues to develop. He learns everyday training along side the likes of Thierry Henry.

All I say is give him a chance, all the majority of his critics have seen of him is around 20 minutes during an England friendly in which the hit 'n' hoof style of Beckham and company didn't suit the player.

I await his full debut for the club eagerly, in which everyone will finally be able to make up their mind on the player, George Burley included.

Upcoming Arsenal Matches: TV Guide

Just thought I'd make everyone aware of the recent developments in the upcoming Arsenal matches that have been picked to be shown on live TV and where you can see them, as some people might be missing out on thier weekly Arsenal fix.

Note this only applys to viewers in the UK.

AZ Alkmaar vs Arsenal - Friday 4th August 2006 6pm
British Eurosport

Dinamo Zagreb vs Arsenal - Tuesday 8th August 2006 8pm
ITV1

Arsenal vs Aston Villa - Saturday 19th August 2006 3pm
Setanta PPV

Hope this was helpful.

Arsenal's Champions League opponents revealed.

Arsenal will face Dinamo Zagreb in the third UEFA Champions League qualifying tie.

Zagreb impressivly saw off Ekranas 9-3 on aggregate tonight after winning the first leg 4-1.

The match will be held on Tuesday, August 8, 2006 in sunny Croatia...mmm.

Thank God he didn't go to the Mancs!

Arsenal legend, Patrick Vieira has completed a move to Inter Milan from Serie B strugglers Juventus for a fee in the region of €9.5 million.

Paddy is now signed up to a four year contract with Italian team, but things almost looked as if he was heading up to play for Manchester United after admitting "anything is possible in football."

Fortunatly, Vieira's reputation as a Gunner was not tarnished in this way and we were spared the awkward transfer as Vieira has decided to remain in Italy.

Which reminds me...Juventus still owe us money for the Vieira transfer I think, David Dein better jump in quick before they blow it all.

Gallas speculation increases with club statement.

In a statement relased today, Chelsea revealed defender William Gallas will not be joining up with the squad to thier tour of the USA, increasing speculation of his future at the club.

Chelsea also said they were considering taking "further action against the player", according to Sky Sports News.

This is certainly intresting news and adds fuel to the Gallas/Ashley Cole swap rumours.

Do not be surprised if Arsenal do not sign anyone

As it emerged that Arsenal have given trial to Ghanaian Shilla Illiasu with a view to a £500 000 deal, it is becoming obvious that this could well wrap up our transfer ins for this summer.

The feeling of deja-vu is all too clear, with this summer looking increasingly like the last one. (see earlier article)

After signing Hleb last summer, Arsenal were giving trial to Phillipe Christanval and only did not sign him because there were doubts concerning his fitness. Arsenal were hoping to sign him for £1m but he eventually went to Fulham.


Shilla Illiasu could well turn out to be another Wenger find, but giving trial to a defender who went to the World Cup would suggest that he is perhaps not highly courted by other clubs.

The £500 000 figure sadly suggest that it is part of a cost-cutting exercise at Arsenal. It could well mean that the £12m transfer limit is real. Hence, the debate about how much exactly Arsene Wenger has at his disposal rages on. (see earlier story on his transfer kitty)

Either that or Wenger feels pretty satisfied about his squad. While most people would say we need 3 signings - a decent keeper cover, an experienced centre back and a tough tackling midfielder (not including a possible Cole replacement)- Wenger feels he has the necessary cover. This is most probably how Wenger feels with the 'problem areas':

Almunia, Poom and 17 year old Manone are 3 reserve keepers to Lehmann.

Clichy, Flamini and 16 year old Traore will be at left back.

Toure, Senderos, Djourou and Cygan at centre back.

Gilberto, Fabregas, Flamini and 18 year old Song at central midfield.

With Illiasu lined up to fill in while Senderos is injured, the squad looks complete in terms of quantity. However, what about the quality of the squad players ?

With both Senderos and Clichy possibly injury prone, it is not unlikely that Flamini will play again out of position at left back and Cygan will deputise at centre back. This will be a frightening prospect for Arsenal fans.

Almunia was found out in the Champions League final where I believe both goals were due to goalkeeping positioning errors.

What happens if Gilberto or Fabregas are injured? Whatever talent Arsene sees in Song, is he genuinely going to play the Edu role this season?

There is no doubt that Arsene Wenger believes he has got enough players in his squad-that is why any major signing can be ruled out. Whether he is right and whether there is genuine strength in depth at the club is an entirely different matter.

Arsenal have revealed some more information on the current injury problem facing the first team squad.

Arsené Wenger expects Senderos, Diaby and Clichy to miss probably the first six weeks of the new season despite their recovery being "quite good".

“In fact the news is quite good for Diaby, Clichy and Senderos," Wenger said. "But the first (of these) players will be back in October, not before.”

It's encouraging news for Diaby who suffered a horrendous 'tackle' at Sunderland last season, but Wenger added he will expect Diaby to take the longest to recuperate out of all his injury worries.

“He is in front of what we expected for him,” said Wenger. “But it is November at the earliest for him.

Thierry Henry is expected to miss Arsenal's Champions League qualifier as he is still short of 100% match fitness and is recovering from a slight achilles problem from the World Cup.

Freddie Ljungberg is expected to also miss the first game of the new season but should recover in time to carry on from there.

“Ljungberg is doing well,” said Wenger. “He may not be there for the first game of the season but (he will be there) early around the start.”



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