Arsenal gets Zebretted, transfer roundup and Benfica preview
After the eternal wait, Barclay’s Premier League football is just a week away and the gooners are hoping for the best because Arsenal hasn’t fulfilled all its summer transfer obligations. Checking on the transfer targets set by Sounak Mukhejee in his article, Arsenal has signed a left winger/wide striker that can be an integral part of Plan B but other targets are still pending. Wenger hasn’t signed any defensive midfielder that’ll be an adequate back-up when Song represents Cameroon in the African Cup of Nations next winter. From the preseason games I have watched so far, Emmanuel Frimpong may be drafted into Arsenal’s first team this season. Arsenal hasn’t signed a center back yet but the transfer window shuts in three weeks time so everybody is still hoping that Wenger would clean off this dust from Arsenal’s cheque book to land Samba, Cahill, Captain America or SuperTed.
There are still many pending issues that haven’t been resolved at the club with the situations of Fabregas and Nasri dominating the news headlines everyday. However, the media Vultures have reported that Arsenal has rejected another bid for Cesc Fabregas. The offer is thought to be around £28m with another £5m in performance related add-ons. I still don’t understand why Barcelona undervalues El Capitan with their meager offers. It’s now obvious for everyone to see that they don’t really hold the player with a high regard anymore but it seems as if he’s still keen on making the move to Planet Catalunya. There are reports emanating that he won’t even be fit enough to lead Arsenal out when the Gunners take on Newcastle at St. James Park next week Saturday.
Arsenal has confirmed that Kyle Bartley will be joining Rangers on loan till the end of the season. The bloke recently signed a new contract but it was his own goal that handed the Emirates Cup on a plate for the New York Red Bulls. He has made only one appearance of note against Olympiakos two years ago and he’s probably touted as one for the future. Good luck to the lad as he continues his footballing education in Scotland. Feyernoord is gearing up for talks with Arsenal over the services of Ryo Miyaichi for another season. An official from the club said this,
“I understand that we are top of the list of clubs to loan Miyaichi. Our contacts with Arsenal are good, and I understand that Ryo would like to return to Feyenoord, if he is not allowed to remain in England.”
Miyaichi was very impressive in the match against Malaysia XI but I feel that an extra season out on loan would do wonders to his confidence as well as give him full match fitness. When he arrived last winter, he was sent on loan to Feyernoord and he excelled in De Kuip so it would be in the club’s best interests to send him back to the club where he had his first stint of European football. In other transfer news, Liverpool wants to swoop for Arsenal’s transfer target Lucas Biglia and Arsenal are making inquiries for Everton’s Jack Rodwell.
King Kenny already has a vast array of talent in the middle of the park so if he wants to add the Argentine chum to that list, he should be my guest. Jack Rodwell is an exciting young player that’s renowned for his strength, stamina, composure, work rate as well as his versatility. He’s a product of Everton’s youth ranks and has been at the club since 2006. He’s a natural holding midfielder but he’s also adept playing in the defense. The only ‘slight’ problem about signing a player like Rodwell is that he was born in Southport, which means that he’s English and we all know the kind of exorbitant fees English players command in World football.
Yesterday, the suit-wearing chums at UEFA did the Champions League play-off draws and the results are out. Danish minnows OB Odense booked a date with last season’s beaten Europa League semifinalists Villarreal, Dutch league runners up FC Twente takes on Europa League semifinalists SL Benfica, 7-time Ligue 1 winners Olympique Lyonnais will play against Rubin Kazan, European heavyweights Bayern Munich had the easiest draw with FC Zurich and Arsenal takes on Udinese.
Arsenal and the Zebrette have never locked horns before so it’s going to be a spicy encounter as two footballing cultures come together for the good of the game. Like Arsenal, they finished in 4th place and both teams stand in each others way for a place in the Champions League next season. They have some noteworthy players but the household names in the squad include Slovenia’s goalie Samir Handanovic and Ghana’s Kwadwo Asamoah but the star attraction of their side is the club’s current captain, Antonio di Natale. Since his arrival in 2004 from Empoli, he has played 228 league games and has scored 112 league goals so he’ll definitely be the player that has to be shackled by Arsenal.
On paper, Arsenal is the much better side but we all know that nuts tend to get loose in some games and I’m hopeful that it won’t be one of those days because I’m not looking forward to be blogging about Thursday night Europa League football. 🙁
This evening, Arsenal is going to play its last preseason match before it’s Premier League curtain raiser against Newcastle and many changes have been made in the squad that traveled to Portugal. Wenger released a 19-man squad list for the game and a lot of notable figureheads were missing. Fabregas was left out of the squad thanks to his ongoing saga but Nasri also missed out due to a ‘muscular problem’. Wilshere, Walcott and Gibbs missed out due to health reasons while Almunia, Bendtner and Farmer Eboue stay at home while their agents sorted out the finishing touches of their negotiations involving moves away from Arsenal. Eboue is closing in on a move to Turkey while tales of Bendtner’s move to Portugal have surfaced again.
Arsenal’s records against Portuguese sides are good because the club has had its fair share of meetings with Portuguese teams in recent times. Last season, Arsenal showed taught Braga a very harsh lesson with a 6-0 win at the Emirates but the Europa League finalists exerted their revenge on Arsenal with a 2-0 victory thanks to a brace from Matheus. Arsenal and recent treble winners FC Porto have met a couple of times but the spoils have been shared in terms of the overall head-to-head ratio even though Arsenal has inflicted more damage in terms of the final scoreline. When both clubs met in the group stages of the 2008/09 season, Emmanuel Greebybayor and Robin van Persie scored braces as Arsenal ran out as 4-0 winners but Lisandro Lopez scored his own brace when Arsenal visited Estadio Dragao. Arsenal would have had another shot to take on Porto but they lost in the quarterfinals to Manchester United thanks to a CR7 bullet at home after doing well to get a 2-2 first leg draw at Old Trafford. Arsenal played Porto again in the first knockout round of the 2009/10 season but Arsenal had the bragging rights at the end of the two-legged affair. Porto won the first leg thanks to a Fabianski howler and the ref’s confusion but the second leg at the Emirates was a night to remember. Nasri scored a goal that was nominated for the Ferenc Puskas goal of the year award while Nicklas Bendtner got his first hattrick in Arsenal colours.
The last time Arsenal and Benfica met, the Portuguese won the two-legged tie with a 4-2 victory in 1992. For team news, Wojciech Szczesny would probably be the custodian between the sticks because it seems as if he has been given the nod by Wenger himself. Sagna will start in the right back position while Traore will continue on the left hand side. Koscielny missed out on the plane to Portugal so Vermaelen will be partnered by Djourou in the defense. The midfield will have a new outlook tonight and the possible starters for today’s match will be Frimpong and Song in the holding roles while Ramsey will take the advanced role. I expect the attack to be spearheaded by the captain of the day and the birthday boy Robin van Persie while Arshavin and Gervinho will provide support from the wings.
My expected lineup should be
I’m going to write a special post for Robin van Persie later in the day.
Enjoy the match wherever you’ll watch it.