Sunday, 28 August 2011

Youngsters join squad for Manchester United test -Grimandi says Harzard's too expensive

Morning Gooners.

The squad travelled to Manchester last night, light on experience but not heart, spirit and fight. As we're aware, we'll be missing Jack Wilshere, Alex Song, Gervinho, Emmanuel Frimpong, Sebastien Squillaci, Kieran Gibbs and Nicklas Bendtner.

Given a host regular first team players are out, the manager has been forced to call in members of his reserve team squad, Oguzhan Ozyakup being called upon by the Frenchman to join in first team activities for the first time. He'll be joined by Francis Coquelin and Gilles Sunu who have also made the trip alongside more experienced members of the reserve side in Ignasi Miquel and Henri Lansbury.

We really are down to the kids now. That is how decimated our squad is through injuries and suspension. And if Bacary Sagna hasn't recovered from illness, we will be down another player who has been so reliable in the opening games.

It will be interesting to see who the manager will pick to play in the Song/Frimpong position in front of the back four. With Thomas Vermaelen due to have a late fitness test to make sure he is able to play, Johan Djourou seems like the obvious choice if the Belgium international is fit to play.

I'll preview the team in more detail later today and bring you my betting recommendations.

On player who looks set to join the Arsenal ranks but too late for the trip to Old Trafford is Park Chu Young.  A deal for the 26-year-old South Korea captain happened with a blink of an eye yesterday as Arsene Wenger reacted to bring the Lille-bound player to London instead.

In very much similar circumstances of the deal which brought Mikel Silvestre to the club,  Wenger spoke with his old club Monaco on Friday and the negotiations were quickly concluded to bring Chu Young, who plays as an attacker, to north London. The player was meant to under go a medical at Lille yesterday but left without even saying goodbye. Hot footing to Lille Europe instead for the Eurostar to London.

I know nothing of the player but it does seem to be a deal we've not planned. And you can understand why the manager has made the signing. He's desperate to bolster the squad with players before the window closes on Wednesday night.

But as I said earlier, it does smack of a Silvestre type signing. The defender was heading for Sunderland when Wenger got wind of his availability and signed him up. Not at all planned. A cheap signing to add a body to the squad. And Chu Young was meant to be signing for Lille. They'd done all the ground work before Wenger nipped in and agreed to sign the South Korean.

We'll have to wait and see until after the international break how he fits into our plans. I hope he's a typical Wenger signing though and proves all those people who have already written him off wrong.

So that's one of Wenger's three signings all but done. Now we've got to agree a deal with Bolton to get Gary Cahill to Colney before Wednesday. There was talk post match by Owen Coyle yesterday about the defender being unsettled following our interest. Our formal interest in the player was only made public because his chairman  Phil Gartside got jumpy and thought we weren't coming back with an improved bid for the player and retweeted that fan's view.

I understand we'll go in with an improved bid of around £12m including add-ons for the player but no where near the £17m Bolton are holding out for. With the noise that Arsenal are interested in Cahill from the Bolton end created, I imagine they were hoping other clubs would come in for the player. So far that doesn't seem to be the case. The Sunday Mirror expect our bid to hit £15m with add-ons, which seems rather steep to me.

There is talk from both the Daily Star Sunday and The People about us trying to do a deal with Everton for Mikel Arteta. The 29-year-old would certainly add the experience our squad is lacking and take the burden off Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey.

Both papers suggest some sort of swap deal could be done with Nicklas Bendtner going to Merseyside. A £9m price tag is attached to the Danish international but I wonder what Everton would price the Spaniard at?

A couple of other transfer rumours for today:

The Sunday Mirror say Marseille will only sell us Argentine playmaker Lucho in a £7million deal rather than us pay them a £2m loan fee for the 30-year-old.

Whilst the Daily Star Sunday say we're after Dinamo Zagreb's 19-year-old midfielder Mateo Kovacic.

There is a nice piece in the Sunday Telegraph about Robin van Persie's adaptation to the captaincy by Henry Winter.

And the excellent Amy Lawrence goes through the mire which is Arsenal's summer business in The Observer today.

If you're looking for some extra reading this morning, I posted last night the second in our series of Away Days posts. It's a Gooners experience of going and watching Arsenal against Udinese in midweek. A really enjoyable piece, which also includes a chat some fans had with Gilles Grimandi who talks about our transfer targets including Eden Hazard and Yann M'Vila.

I'll post my team preview later and be back for the live blog of the game from 3.45pm. Please join me if you can.

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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