Friday, 15 July 2011

Wenger admits Barca talks over Fabregas - Arsenal to enter bidding war for defender?

Morning Gooners.

Arsene Wenger and his team said goodbye to Malaysia and moved on to China yesterday ahead of tomorrow's second match of the tour. I think what the players and staff have experienced on the Asia Tour so far is that Arsenal are a English club with a truly global presence. Turning up in a country you've not visited since 1999 and having 30,000 people come out and watch an open training session only goes to prove that.

Add another 30,000 fans on match day and even though the club aren't making a vast amount of money from the tour, it shows the appeal of Arsenal goes around the globe.

The experiences the players get from this tour will also hammer home how big a club Arsenal is. We may not have the money to pay the highest wages, but you can honestly say we have a far bigger global appeal than Chelsea or Manchester City.

Upon arrival Arsene Wenger, Theo Walcott and Thomas Vermaelen sat down with the media and the local media gave the manager a standing ovation (not something he's likely to get at his first pre-match press conference at London Colney from the English media.)

Wenger was asked about how the disappointment of last season impacted on him physically and mentally.

He said:
"The last part of it was the toughest of my career. That was certainly the toughest because, emotionally, it was very difficult because we were on a low.
"And then you could see, the last three or four weeks were very difficult.
"It was because I took full responsibility for what happened. I knew at some stage that it was lost and I had so much hope for the team.
"Through November and December, you could feel that the team had really taken off and could win everything. And it was so close."
I have to question whether the manager's mentality after the defeat in the Carling Cup final was one of the reason why we fell away so dramatically. It was visible that the defeat left him low - but did his personal disappointment transmit itself to the players? Did he have the mentality to admit we'd lost fairly to the players and had to move on to the next challenge? Was he a help to that team or a hinderance?

I have the upmost respect for our manager and all he's done at the club. We wouldn't be where we are today without him. But I do wonder if one of the reasons why we fell away so dramatically was down to him not being able to motivate and lift the players for the rest of the campaign. Would Alex Ferguson or Jose Mourinho allowed that to happen?

Hopefully he learnt a lot about himself in that period after February. I know he had high hopes for the team last term but I think we can all say it was flawed in someway because of our inability to pick up points in the league in our games after the Carling Cup final. If he's not prepared to change it, by signing new players, I can only see a repeat of what happened last season.

And hopefully he only said this because Thomas Vermaelen was sat next to him and doesn't really believe it:
"I don't think we are weak defensively but we are an offensive team and sometimes that exposes our defenders."
I think if you asked every Arsenal fan what they'd include on their transfer wish list a central defender would be there as would a player who could play in defensive midfield.

We were exposed all too often at set pieces and that is something you can sort out with extra work on the training pitch. But for me the reason we're looking at Cahill and Samba is their aerial ability at clearing balls. None of our defenders attack the ball like they do and the statistics prove it.

I also hope this season we'll hear less of the manager talking about the squad's age. We've no longer got the excuse of being a young team. All the players have got experience, apart from Jack Wilshere and Wojciech Szczesny but even those two played in some very big games for us last term and held their own.

And talking of the Pole, he's looking forward to the competition of being our first choice keeper next season.

The manager talks about what our new signing Gervinho will bring to the team. It seems his deal is still going through the "regulatory process" so he might officially become an Arsenal player on August 31! Wenger also pays tribute to Patrick Vieira who has hung up his boots at the age of 35. I think it's a shame that Arsenal haven't moved to get Vieira on the coaching staff. Apparently we didn't follow up our initial conversation with him. Which if true is a very sad state of affairs.

There is more speculation around this morning in the Daily Mirror linking us with Jose Enrique. I think Newcastle are trying to create a bidding war between us an Liverpool but I can't see Wenger taking part. I think he's set his mind to let Kieran Gibbs and Armand Traore fight it out for the left back spot.

The Guardian look at Barcelona's finances and suggest they really can't afford Cesc Fabregas and won't be able to match the salary package he currently earns at Arsenal.

The manager - in a roundabout way - admitted we'd held talks with the Spanish champions about the sale of our captain.

He said when talking about Xavi's comments being disrespectful:
"It has to stop of course. If there are transfer negotiations between two clubs I don't think it's helpful to have other players involved."
He could have been talking generally, but I think it's fair to assume that for the first time he's admitted what we all know, that Arsenal are in talks with Barcelona to sell Cesc Fabregas.

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