Saturday, 31 July 2010

The Arsenal Paper Round: Saturday July 31, 2010

Morning Gooners.

Arsene Wenger spoke to the media prior to the start of the Emirates Cup at the Grove today. It was a chance for the media to question our manager on the Cesc Fabregas saga for the 10,000,000 time.

He said what he's been saying all summer. That Cesc will start the season at Arsenal as our captain. Not only that, but he also challenged him to help Arsenal win the league.

Wenger said:
"I always said Cesc Fábregas will be our captain next year and that we want to keep him. Despite all the speculation last season and the whole summer, nothing has changed. Look at the length of his contract and you will see he has five or six years to go. He has always said he's committed to the club and the best way to show you're committed is to give your best when you walk on the pitch and he has always done that.
"It's important we focus on the targets we have together. There's a great attitude and spirit inside the squad and Cesc Fábregas can help us achieve these targets. He's now 23 years old and has just won the World Cup. I believe he will grow in authority again for next season. The biggest achievement for him now is to help us win the championship.
"We have to remind ourselves that we decided to go with a very young team three or four years ago and we have developed this team. I believe two years ago we were quite far off but last year in April we were two points away from the top. Normally we should be closer again because that development is part of a young team. I know that in England when you do not win the championship it's always about buying but what is important is that we improve individually and as a team because we are a very young team. We are not a team that is at the end of a cycle, we are at the start of a cycle. So our future will be decided not by who we buy but by how much we improve."
Whilst the Daily Mail have some stronger quotes still from Wenger. 
"We do not negotiate. If I want to buy your house and you don't want to sell, you don't negotiate with me, that's completely normal. I always said Cesc Fabregas will be our captain next year and that we want to keep him.
''Look at the length of his contract and he has five or six years to go.I believe Arsenal deserves respect.
"There are all kinds of situations, but I believe what happens after is that when a player stays it is about how much he focused on playing football. It is always in the interests of the player to perform. If he is a champion, he goes on the football and wants to be the best he can. All the rest is a poor excuse for a football player."
I think we can fairly say that he's put this one to bed now, baring any decisions outside of his control like Cesc putting in a transfer request or Barcalona finding some cash hidden down the back of the sofa which would raise their transfer kitty by £20million.

In my mind, once Cesc gets back to pre-season training next week, he'll put all this Barcelona nonsense to the back of his mind and focus on the forthcoming season with Arsenal. They'll be no use him thinking what might of been. He's got a job to do and he'll just have to get on with it.

He's a determined and passionate man, so I can't see him giving anything but 100% for Arsenal week in week out.

Mathieu Flamini, speaking prior to the AC Milan v Arsenal match this afternoon, was asked if he had any advice for his former team-mate. 

"I would tell him to do what he feels, because it's a very personal choice and I cannot advise anything. He will have to do what he really wants. If he stays or goes, I will support him because he is a friend."
Good man Mathieu. I do hate it when footballers come out and tell other players what to do. I like his stance or that of Alex Hleb who said Cesc shouldn't go to Barcelona a couple weeks back.

There were a few other things the manager was asked about during his press conference. One of those was the new restrictions brought in on the number of players over the age of 21 you can have in your squad.

As I posted yesterday, there is a definitive piece on the official site which spells it all out.


Arsene was asked his views and I think you can say he wasn't shy in coming forward with a very good answer as to why we should restrict the trade of professional footballers who weren't trained for three years at an England or Wales academy between the ages of 16 and 21.

He said:
"This is a disastrous decision for football and for the players. I was quite amazed the union accepted it. I'm not a big fan. First, it puts many players without clubs. That's the mathematical consequence. Secondly, it puts the clubs in a weak position in the transfer market because when you already have 25 players and you buy another one, you know you now have to get rid of one.
"You have to calculate when you buy a player how much it costs to get rid of one. The big clubs will always have 25 top players and you will not stop that by this kind of decision. When the big clubs employ a player and he has to go to a smaller club there are only two solutions: the smaller club has to pay above their own potential or the big club pays part of his salary. In either case it's not satisfactory."
And this comes from a man who is developing his own talent and had the foresight to invest in young players, many of them English.

Now I don't care how well England do in international matches, but this rule looks to all purposes like it was planned to try to make clubs develop the next great generation of English players.

However the is the obvious loop-hole which means that clubs can sign a foreign youngster when he is 16-years-old, coach him for three years and then class him as home-grown.

If the FA did care about young English players they would have invested in a national training academy like the French have done and not leave the development to the clubs.


Another topic was whether the current crop of players is good enough to win us the title. Arsene thinks so. But then he would. These are his players and he has a devoted loyalty to them.

I don't think he is blinkered enough not to know we need a couple more players to strengthen our squad for a competitive title challenge. To go into the season with three centre backs would be folly. 

"Do I think we have a team to play at the top? Looking at the players we have, yes.
"Financial consideration does not come into it. I judge whether the players are good enough in the championship.
"It is whether the clubs have better players or lesser players and we can compete with the players we have.
"You look at our squad and we have two internationals in every position.
"We have to remind ourselves we decided to go with a very young team three or four years ago and we have developed this team. I believe that two years ago we were quite far but last year in April we were two points away from the top.
"Normally we should be closer again because that development is part of a young team.
"I know that in England when you do not win the championship it's always about buying but what is important is that we improve individually and as a team because we are a very young team.
"We are not a team that is at the end of a cycle, we are at the start of a cycle. So our future will be decided not by who we buy or need but as well by how much we improve."
Asked if he wanted another centre half, Wenger said: 
"Ideally yes. We have lost Silvestre, Campbell and Gallas and have only signed Koscielny. (Johan) Djourou is coming back so you could say we have got two but are still two short." But Wenger has admitted: "There will be more teams fighting for the title next season.
"It makes it more interesting and open as well – we have seen the start of that last season as well, all of the top teams lost points against the second part of the Premier League.
"That trend could even become stronger. There are the three who dominated last year, then you have Spurs, Liverpool, Manchester City, Aston Villa and you also have one team who is a surprise at the start of the season."
Good. Lets hope at least the defender will a sign before the trip to Anfield. And I'm not talking of a youngster but a top class international with experience of European football at the highest level.

If we don't get a goalkeeper until the end of the window I wouldn't be too surprised.

New Fulham Mark Hughes is reported to have made a move for Boaz Myhill as a replacement for Mark Schwarzer.

But if we don't get Schwarzer before the start of the season I expect Lukasz Fabianski to start in goal.

He's been talking to the official site about working hard to get ahead of Manual Almunia in the pecking order.


He said:
"It [the games] has been quiet except for Sturm Graz when I had two saves to make.
"At the moment I've not had a lot to do in the games but we have the Emirates Cup in front of us so that will be interesting.
"There is a big chance for everyone and everyone as you can see is fighting really, really hard for that No 1 spot."
Insightful as always from the official site.

Two transfer rumours for today. Both involve young players.

The Daily Mail say that Southampton want midfielder Emmanuel Frimpong on loan, whilst Hull are interested in taking Mark Randall on loan.

What has happened to Mark Randall this pre-season. He's not been involved with the first team at all.

And finally for today a bit of team news ahead of the Emirates Cup.

Abou Diaby, Denilson, Alex Song and Nicklas Bendtner are all out injured. But Arsene said those going can expect to see Emmanuel Frimpong, Jack Wilshere, Marouane Chamakh and Laurent Koscielny. 

I'll be watching the game on TV and if you are doing the same join me on Twitter for a natter. Those going to the Grove, enjoy the game.

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