Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Cesc's goodbye -Bendtner handed recall? -Wanted by Wenger Hazard, Ruiz and Ayew

Morning Gooners.

With the Cesc Fabregas transfer saga finally put to bed yesterday with his official unveiling as a Barcelona player.

Cesc said:
"I spoke to [Wenger] on Friday to say goodbye and got very emotional because he has been like a father figure. I couldn't even talk when I wanted to say how grateful I was for what he has done to me, so I had to send a message afterwards saying thanks for everything.  
"If it was not for him I would not be here today to live my dream. I will never have enough words to say how grateful I am. I went from being a boy to a man and they gave me absolutely everything in football."
He added:
"I am sorry I couldn't say anything for the last two and half months, Arsenal would not allow me to talk to them, I was disappointed and upset about that but it had to be like that. I was very, very sad to be leaving. I spent a third of my life there – eight years."
It's interesting to read we've asked for a by-back option in the contract. Not  that Cesc is ever likely to leave Barca now. The manager has admitted we didn't get Cesc's full market value. But that's probably down to how he and Barca clouded all summer.

We can thank him for his eight years of service but now we have to move on. Tonight we have got a huge game. A tie which if we fail to win over two legs will  leave us playing Europa League football and that doesn't bear thinking about.

The manager has said he will "bring in one or two players because we are a bit short" but has yet to name any names in the media, ruling out moves for Jadson and Carlos Tevez. However there haven't been any times we've heard the manager speak about this transfer targets openly.

Wenger said:
"Everybody says to me, 'Buy' and I'm not against it. But when I ask, 'Who?' then there is a no-man's land. 
"What I want to say is we are not frightened to spend money but we have to be convinced that the player is better than what we have. Just spending money is not a target that is defendable.  
"I don't know if you watched our two centre-backs [Laurent Koscielny and Thomas Vermaelen] at Newcastle on Saturday but I'm not convinced we have a lack of quality there."
I don't think any Arsenal fan would question the quality of Koscielny or Vermaelen, but you have to look at our strength in depth as a squad. Djourou had a good season last term but has since lost his way. And not many Gooners are convinced with the quality of Squillaci - personally I think he gets unfair criticism.

We need to look at the players we have and ask whether there is competition for places within every position. At the moment I don't believe there is.

The Daily Mail believe these are the list of players we are targeting:

Phil Jagielka , Everton. Age: 28. Cost: £18million.
Gary Cahill, Bolton. Age: 25. Cost: £15m.
Scott Dann, Birmingham. Age: 24. Cost: £8m.
Christopher Samba, Blackburn.  Age: 27. Cost: £15m.

Marvin Martin, Sochaux. Age: 23. Cost: £9m.
Eden Hazard, Lille. Age: 20. Cost: £25m.
Jadson, Shakhtar Donetsk. Age: 27. Cost: £15m.
Joey Barton, Newcastle. Age: 28. Cost: Free.

Bryan Ruiz, FC Twente. Age: 25. Cost: £13.75m.
Andre Ayew, Marseille. Age: 21. Cost: £11m.

The manager has already shot down a lot of those names. But it will be interesting to see how he proceeds in the transfer market this week. After tonight's game, you would have to hope he'll concentrate on adding some depth to our squad.

Team news for tonight is that Tomas Rosicky faces a fitness test later for a groin injury. I would expect him to come through that and play. Nicklas Bendtner could be set for a surprise recall according to the Daily Mirror. At Members Day the Dane looked the sharpest of our attackers and with Marouane Chamakh still not back in form, I can see there could be a possibility of Bendtner starting. Although what would that do to the Moroccan's already fragile confidence.

We're without Samir Nasri and Robin van Persie who are both suspended.

The Frenchman went on Twitter to damage his  reputation with Arsenal fans even further by saying:
"I heard what the fans were singing about me on Saturday and it is really disrespectful because I’m still an Arsenal player."
I think respect is a two way street and earned. If Nasri signed the contract he was happy with when the club put it in front of him in October, we wouldn't be in this situation. Nasri has strung the club along for months and it's time we got rid of him. Manchester City's CEO has not confirmed or denied their interest.

Elsewhere Emmanuel Eboue is close to a move to Galatasaray according to The Sun.

If you're in the least bit interested in Theo Walcott's love life, The Sun have day two of extracts from his book.

Alex Song has been charged with stepping on Joey Barton. However Saturday's fifth official has faced no charge by his FA employers.

For a new feature on the site, Inside The Formation, Joss Bennett looks at Gervinho's impact at St James Park.

If you can bring yourself to read anything else about Cesc, take a look at Sid Lowe's piece in The Guardian.

A full team and betting preview will be posted later.

Finally, if you're not able to make it to the game tonight and would  like to be kept up to date with what's going on at the Grove, join us for live text commentary of the game and interact with other Gooners. We'll be kicking off at around 7.30pm.

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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