24 July 2015

Benzema reaches out to Giroud as transfer-talk heats up...

STADE DE FRANCE, Saint-Denis, France—Les Bleus had just finished another arduous training session under Deschamps, and the lads were cooling off, undressing, and preparing to faire la douche. Benzema, having toweled off, glanced over at Giroud, his compatriot and competitor, and sensed an opportunity for a valuable tête-à-tête. After all, there had been much talk of Benzema leaving Real Madrid to join Arsenal, and who better to question on the matter than Giroud? After all, he'd just completed his third season with the club, knew Arsène, and could explain what it is like to play for such a manager. Tentatively at first, sensitive to the conflicts of interests inherent in the moment, Karim approached...

22 July 2015

Sayonara, Szczęsny: loan to Roma might equal an Arsenal adieu...

Wojciech Szczęsny has agreed to a season-long loan to Serie A's Roma, but the deal apparently does not allow Roma a £3.5 million buy-out clause, implying that Szczęsny would return to Arsenal for next season. On its face, the deal might make sense as it gives him a chance to play ahead of De Sanctis (38 y.o.), Lobont (37), and Švedkauskas (21). It both strips Szczęsny of the comfort he's enjoyed over the last few seasons while allowing him to play and develop, albeit without the mentoring and modeling that Petr Čech would offer. That brings me to my stunning realisation...

21 July 2015

Arsenal transfer round-up: Szcz to Roma, Flamini to Gala, but who's coming in?

According to the very-reliable Di Marzio, Wojciech Szczęsny is set for a loan to Roma, with the Italian club offering £715,000 or so for the loan and a £7.15m option to buy him at the end of the 2015-16 season. Coupled with news that Mathieu Flamini has signed for Galatasaray (joining Podolski) and Diaby not being offered a contract, we're seeing a clear-out just as aggressive if not more so than last summer's, when we parted ways in various ways with Sagna, Vermaelen, Bendtner, Djourou, and Fabiański, among others. Those who were once good enough are being replaced. Should Szczęsny indeed be loaned out, Arsène would indeed be staking a claim to a more-aggressive agenda, one that should strike fear into our opponents' hearts.

20 July 2015

Ex-scouse me? With Sterling gone, will Liverpool target Walcott?

After the sale of Raheem Sterling to Manchester City, Liverpool have got to be feeling the sting of losing yet another dangerous attacker so soon after seeing the south-bound Suárez enjoy so much success at Barça, while they stumbled to a sixth-place finish. With Sterling's £43.75m transfer-fee in their pocket and the need for a pacy winger-cum-forward, rumours of Rodgers targeting Walcott might have gained new life. His current contract runs out in June 2016, ramping up pressure to get a new deal signed—or transfer completed. Fortunately, it seems that the winger will put pen to paper on new Arsenal deal in coming days...

19 July 2015

Transfer Round-up: How does Arsenal compare to Chelsea, Man City, and Man U?

There are still almost seven weeks to go in the transfer-window, but there’s been enough activity already to justify a quick assessment of how the transfers in and out might affect the Prem. Man U have been aggressive while Chelsea, Man City, and Arsenal have been a bit more subdued. It’s possible that this is the eye of the storm rather than the storm itself, and we may yet see a hurricane of transfers in the last few weeks of the window. However, more is usually said than done, and, in keeping with that vein, let’s talk through the business that’s been done…

We’ll keep our focus limited to confirmed transfers of the type likely to affect each squad’s starting XI, ignoring the innumerable loans an free transfers that clutter each club’s list.

Čech books his place in the pantheon of Arsenal legends...

Everton were offering only the most dilatory attempts testing our newly signed keeper until 'round about the 40th minute, when Everton got a free kick way out by the touch-line, and Garbutt sent in an in-swinging cross, almost perfectly placed to the penalty spot—far enough from the goal line to prevent Čech coming off his line to claim it, close enough to allow his teammate to seize it—and sure enough, Naismith, that infuriating albino, latched onto it with a glancing header. Had it been Ospina or Szczęsny, we'd have witnessed the equaliser and a very different second half. However, Čech, falling backwards, got fingertips to it enough to deflect it off the crossbar, almost instantaneously earning himself a spot as best Arsenal keeper since Seaman.