By Tony Attwood
Having played in a reserve team friendly last week, they were out at it again last night, the old guard. Jack Wilshere, Mikel Arteta, Abou Diaby, and less we forget the youngsters, Serge Gnabry. All playing for the under 21s (in which the rules are that you can have three over 21s playing). Arsenal beat Stoke 4-1.
No sooner are we at full strength in the squad than the vultures appear – and at the moment the vultures are Manchester City, whose transfer team are facing the sack and so are anxious to be seen to be doing anything to boost the Man U squad.
Jack is apparently the target, and given the way the FA and League are proposing to muck around with the rules once more, his value is flying because he was born in England. However Arsenal are reported to be talking to him as well.
Anyway, apparently Man City think they might find it difficult at the moment to meet the whole range of new rules the League and FA want to bring in, so we look like we are going to enter a new phase where “an Englishman is worth ten Johnny Foreigners” and other tripe.
But what are Arsenal players worth? In this article there will be mentions of RVP, Bac Sagna and Samir Nasri, all ex-Arsenal, and all not quite right where they are. Makes you think.
But while they are at it Man City are also going to put in a bid for Raheem Sterling. “We have lots of money and we are going to throw it at people, so if it moves we sign it,” said Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed, although I fear something might have been lost in translation from the Arabic.
But Arsenal clearly have a problem with far too many players fit and ready to play. Indeed the Arsenal fitness crisis will undoubtedly be all over the papers when they read about it here.
However speaking of Man City our old chum Samir Nasri seems to have a little emotional difficulty with watching his club, and left the ground before the end of the game when he was dropped for a match against the might Leicester City.
But I can understand that. The traffic in Manchester can be quite difficult and an early start can help.
However he’s been left out more than he’s been in of late, but at least can say he hasn’t been responsible for Man City’s decline in form since he has not played. He did play half a match against Barcelona and had a jolly good kick at Neymar, and indeed got the last 13 minutes against Palace. Word is Man C want to send him to Juventus – they of the match fixing past.
But now, ponder this if you would. “Arsenal are said to be favourites to land Napoli striker Gonzalo Higuaín this summer.”
Ah, Gonalo Higuaín. Remember him?
“Gonzalo Higuaín is on the verge of signing for Arsenal for £23m. The Argentinian striker is hoping to fly to London on Thursday evening to complete the move”
That was the Guardian on 4 July 2013. It was one of the best vapour transfers of all time, and had all sorts of ramifications – and yet, I admit it, I thought it was true at one stage of the game. Although only for two days.
In that July 2013 article the Guardian said, “Higuaín’s father and agent, the former footballer Jorge Higuaín, told Fox Sports Latin America that a final resolution was close. “We managed to get permission from Real Madrid to negotiate face to face with Arsenal,” he said. “Fortunately, I will soon be able to watch my son play in the Premier League.”
“Higuaín is expected to sign a deal on £100,000 a week, putting him among the club’s top earners, and Arsenal remain keen to pair him up front with Wayne Rooney should Manchester United be willing to let him go.”
Oh don’t those rumours look funny two years on.
Rather sensibly the Guardian is laying off the story this time, but the Independent is in there with both feet today saying
Gonzalo Higuaín to Arsenal is back on. The Argentina international came close to joining the Gunners in the summer of 2013 before opting to link up with Napoli instead. According to reports he’s unhappy in Italy and with Napoli looking likely to miss out on Champions League qualification, the situation is only going to get worse. Arsenal are apparently the favourites to sign him as they look to provide cover and competition for Olivier Giroud.
Clever isn’t it. The rumour wasn’t wrong, but simply Arsenal were not quite fast enough and Arsene Wenger not sweet talking enough. But we have a second chance, but woe betide Wenger if we screw up again.
Here’s another snippet:
Reports further in Italy suggest that while Liverpool have been linked with the striker in the past, their defeat to Arsenal at the weekend may have handed Arsene Wenger’s side the advantage in the race for the Argentine’s signature.
So transfers are decided on the turn of one result? “What are they smoking in Fleet Street?” as they might say in Liverpool.
Elsewhere the Telegraph is running the headline, “Who is Premier League manager of the year” and below that has half a dozen pictures excluding Arsene Wenger but including Fat Sam.
Now Fat Sam Allerdyce is manager of WHU and they are currently 16 points above the relegation spot. They are also 19 points away from a Champions League position. Closer to the bottom than the top.
So on what possible grounds would Fat Sam be Manager of the Year?
And yet he has been talked up into this position throughout the season by… Fat Sam? Incidentally back in February this year, the Daily Mail decided to mull over the issues of the day and announced that Fat Sam would be leaving WHU at the end of the season. They also announced on the same day “Arsenal legend Thierry Henry could succeed manager Arsene Wenger.” Yes, well, you know…
Meanwhile, our ex-players who have left against our wishes continue to struggle. I was talking about Bac Sagna the other day and his lack of games, we’ve mentioned Nasri’s upset a few times, and now (according to the guys in the press who know it all) Robin van Persie is leaving Man U this summer having had six weeks with the sort of injury he has had all through his career. Trouble is that he has another season left on his contract at £200,000 a week.
The papers are saying that Man U are willing to listen to offers. But RVP isn’t, because he rather likes £10.4 million a year, so why should he take a 90% pay cut? If he stays another year he not only gets that £10.4m he also then moves on a free and pockets another huge signing on fee.
The solution for Man U is that they might sell him for very little, but continue to top up his salary to the £10.4m that Sir F Word agreed with him, for the next season. A rather expensive situation, but that’s what you get when a manager is willing to gamble everything on a final throw of the dice.
Anyway, I’ve just realised, I’ve failed to put any WORDS randomly in capital LETTERS. Sorry about THAT.
Arsenal on this day… sad moments for George Graham
8 April 1987: In Graham’s first season WHU 3 Arsenal 1 made it 10 without a victory. It did however end the even worse run of six games without scoring. Arsenal’s goal was a penalty from Martin Hayes.
8 April 2001: Arsenal 2 Tottenham 1. FA Cup semi final. Tottenham had just sacked George Graham as their manager, and brought in Glen Hoddle, but it did them no good in this game at Old Trafford.
Please note the complete Arsenal on this day index is now here.