Saturday, 1 January 2011

Arsene opens Arsenal's transfer window - Eboue signs - Bendtner transfer madness

Morning Gooners.

First of all. Happy New Year. Lets hope 2011 is more successful that 2010 was for everything Arsenal. May I thank you for your continued support of the blog, which I never imagined would be quite so successful as it has been.

I have plans to make the site even better in 2011, so stay with me for the journey.

I would also like to apologise for the lack of normal service round here. However I promise that everything will continue the way it has in 2010 for 2011 and that I'll be back to blogging and posting first thing from now on.

Now onto the more important stuff. Arsenal Football Club.

The main news to bring you is that Arsene Wenger has left the door ever so slightly open for the club to bring in a new signing in the January transfer window.

The manager said:
"There's still a big chance we won't sign anyone because it's difficult to find better players than what we have, but if there's an exceptional opportunity, you never know."
Now I remember him saying similar stuff back at the end of August. He doesn't want to unsettle the present squad. We know how fragile the confidence of professional footballers is - Cesc said as much after the Manchester United defeat.

But even so he's moved to add some element of speculation to the proceedings of January for us. From all that I've heard we're very unlikely to be brining anyone in. There is very little noise coming out of Arsenal which implies they are looking to do any deals to sign players.

I would argue that our squad is strong and when you consider some of the names that aren't included on the 20 players named in the Premier League squad list. There is room to bring in new players and still comply with the Premier League rule which was adopted this season. We can still sign four players over the age of 21 who are not classed as home grown. And perhaps even buy a "homegrown" player who is older than 21...

It is not true to suggest that we would have to sell someone in our squad to allow a new signing to take their place. Even so, at the moment it looks unlikely we'll do any business on incoming players.

Yesterday Arsenal announced that Emmanuel Eboue had signed a new long term deal with the club. The manager also explained the reasons why he decided to let Havard Nordtveit leave the club.

There is also talk of Manuel Almunia leaving the club. At the moment it is very much up in the air as to whether the Spaniard will be at the Grove at the end of January. But his ankle injury won't help him find a new club. On top of that, Vito Mannone has returned from his loan to Hull City with a thigh injury which could keep him out of action for up to four weeks.

The manager has already said he is not prepared to let one of his goalkeepers go and needs three in his mind to compete effectively. So Almunia's departure is linked to his and Mannone's return to full fitness by the end of the window. If that fails to happen in time, it will be again the case that Mannone leaves the club on loan.

Crazy transfer rumour alert. Fulham have offered us £5 million for Nicklas Bendtner according to The Sun. Now if Bendtner were to leave Arsenal I would suggest a bid in the region of £20 million would be in order considering his age and pedigree. Anyway, never going to happen, especially after the Dane said on Wednesday night he would stay and fight for his place until the end of the season.

One player who could be off in January is Carlos Vela. He's had little playing time this season and with the manager keen to keep the Mexican, a loan move to another Premier League club could be something the player needs to shake him out of his comfort zone. It's easy to forget he's just 21 years-old and has plenty of years ahead of him. However I think 2011 will be the defining moment for him in an Arsenal shirt. He's really got to compete for a first team starting position. Otherwise he'll be moved on to make way for someone who can.

Elsewhere the manager has spoken of his decision to rest certain players for the Wigan match and how he'll have to rotate again later this afternoon at St Andrews. And why he thinks the Premier League should have a winter break but not until after the Christmas and New Year period.

Finally there is news about the possible departure of assistant manager Pat Rice. He's out of contract at the end of the season and the manager says he wants him to continue with the team. I know there is talk that the manager needs a fresh set of eyes at what he's doing and a different voice to question him, but if Rice is the man he wants, then I think the club should do all it can to keep him in position.

I'll be back later with a look at who I think will be in the starting line ups for this afternoon's game with Birmingham City. Remember it's a 5.30pm kick off. I hope by then those of you who have hang overs will be in a better state.

Follow Ashburton Grove on Twitter, chatting Arsenal throughout the day. To receive the blog everyday you can subscribe via e-mail or take the RSS feed to your favourite reader.

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