There’s a lot of talk this morning suggesting that David Moyes is mulling over a move for Barcelona’s Cecs Fabregas. So how might this be good news for Arsenal?
Well the theory runs like this. At the moment, in spite of the arrival of Neymar, Fabregas is committed to staying in Barcelona and battling it out for a first team place. However the more interest there is in the player the more likely I guess that he might feel that he would be more valued elsewhere.
And with all due respect to United he is much more likely to end up back at Arsenal. No one knows, but it seems quite likely that Arsenal have a buy back clause and that would mean that they would be able to scoop up the midfielder for much less than United will have to pay for him.
The Indie said this a couple of days ago…
Arsenal sold Fabregas to Barcelona in 2011 after a long-winded pursuit of the Catalan youngster, but it is believed that a £25 million clause in his contract will see Arsene Wenger have first refusal on the midfielder.
And would Fabregas want to come back? Well he is no Van Persie. Fabregas is clearly besotted with the club, is still on very good terms with the management and players and watches as many of the games as he can. Would Wenger want him Back though, after all there is a school of thought that Arsenal have already replaced him with Santi Cazorla? I think the player’s flexibility would mean that Wenger would find a place for him.
The big worry is that with their current squad Arsenal still don’t look like they will rival United for the title this season. The addition of a couple of hefty big money signings, along with Fabregas could change all that.
Whether those big money signings arrive is another matter. Ultimately I think that in spite of the interest from United Fabregas will try his luck at Barcelona for at least another year. But if he has a change of mind, David Moyes could be doing Arsenal a favour in helping nudge the player closer to the exit door.
The Gunners are convinced they have a realistic chance of persuading the England strikerto join their revolution.
The Emirates hierarchy feel they need to start joining the big boys when it comes to transfers, especially if they want to persuade boss Arsene Wenger to sign an extension, with his contract ending next summer and Paris St-Germain interested in his services.
It’s understood Wenger and Arsenal would like to see a dream partnership of Real Madrid’s Gonzalo Higuain as a central striker with Rooney playing behind him.
Wages of £200k per week have been mooted by The Star, though it is tricky to imagine that Arsenal will match those. The United player may have to take a drop.
If Arsenal do have a chance it will rest on three factors. Firstly Rooney will get the chance to play with some of his young England pals in the guise of Wilshere, Walcott and Oxlade Chamberlain – that might appeal to him. Secondly if he does sign he will have been convinced by the Arsenal board that they really are ready to challenge for honours this season and have the squad to do this.
Most importantly though that the player thinks that London is a better bet for him that moving abroad to either Paris or Barcelona.
After a quite few days there’s bit of an avalanche of Arsenal related news this morning most of which revolves around Real Madrid’s Gonzalo Higuain.
After it seemed as if Juve were odds on to land the striker Arsenal now appear to have assumed pole position with several papers suggesting that the club have tabled a £20 million bid which apparently is a few million more than Juve were offering.
It now seems that Juve will spend the cash on previous Arsenal target Fiorentina’s Stevan Jovetic, and possibly even Man City’s Carlos Tevez.
The Standard does report though that the main problem with the deal has been the managerial situation at the Bernabeu with Real not yet in a position to confirm as replacement for Jose Mourinhio.
The 29-year-old is entering the final year of his contract at the Etihad Stadium and would command a fee of no more than £10m should talks with new boss Manuel Pellegrini conclude with his departure.
The online debate about whether Arsenal should be interested in Man United erratic winger Luis Nani is a likely to shift up a gear today with reports that the player and the club are on the verge of agreeing a deal which will see the Portuguese star move to North London for £8 million. The Metro says that Turkish club Galatasary who were also tracking the player have been priced out of the deal leaving the path clear for Arsene Wenger to take a gamble on a talented the controversial winger.
There may be more chance for Nani at The Emirates if Gervinho makes the move to Marseille which has been reported on by many sources this weekend.
The Gunners have been strongly tipped to make a move for the Belgian international, but Goodison Park sources claim no inquiry has yet been lodged.
So Arsenal’s inability to actually sign a player looks like spilling over into the summer window with Wenger once again cautious with the cash and moving so slowly that he runs the risk of leaving the door open for other clubs.
Of course it could be that he doesn’t rate Fellaini that highly or he has another player in mind, but this saga is certainly starting to irritate Arsenal fans.
The manager’s indecision has also been highlighted by The Express which today revealed
Arsenal opted against signing Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha before he went on to join Manchester United in January.
Ron Noades told the paper, When Steve Parish sold Zaha I was mildly involved in it as I tried to get Arsenal to buy him, but they were not interested.
“I spoke to David Dein as I did not want Zaha to go to Manchester United, I wanted him to stay in London.
“I just thought he was an exciting talent.”
So is Arsene Wenger’s reluctance to spend his war chest starting to annoy you?
After a flurry of activity it seems to have gone a bit quiet on the Marouane Fellaini to Arsenal front. Goal has a theory why. It says that…
The north Londoners are now waiting for Everton to make the Belgium international available for talks in order to begin negotiating terms.
Even if Fellaini agrees a package with Arsenal, the club are in no rush to complete the signing, as most of their key staff, including the medical team, are now on holiday and will not return to the club until the end of June.
It all sounds incredibly laid back. No worries about ex boss David Moyes sneaking in with an offer then, apparently.
Arsenal were also being made to wait by midfield target Olympique Lyonnais midfielder Clement Grenier. The player, who Wenger recently likened to Nasri says he will contemplate his next move when he returns from his holiday.
Catalan paper Mundo Deportivo has a lengthy story on the future of Cesc Fabregas today and fortunately for us non-Catalan speakers much of it has been paraphrased here on Sportwitness.
Several key things emerge. Firstly that it does seem that both Man United and Arsenal have made an approach for the player, but they were just tentative inquiries. Given Cecs’s relationship with both Arsene Wenger and the club I can imagine that both sides would have been pretty candid.
The second and most important thing is that Barca will only sell Fabregas if he wants to leave and it seems unlikely that he does want to go.
A meeting was held on Sunday at Arenys de Munt and friends and family of the player grilled Barcelona’s vice-president of sport, Josep Maria Bartomeu, about reports Fabregas could be playing in the Premier League next season. Bartomeu put their mind at rest and said that Fabregas would only leave if he wanted to.
However Mundo does say that Fabregas has recently become a father for the first time and would rather his family were based in Barcelona than anywhere else. Which is odd as I thought his girlfriend was based in London.
Fabregas himself remains tight lipped about his future.
He is quoted by La Informacion as saying
“I have not opened my mouth ever. It took me a lot to get where I am and I won’t throw it away for nothing. I will say if I want it to be something else, what I really want is to succeed at Barca, it has been my childhood dream.”
Hopefully from Arsenal’s perspective this will resolve the issue for now. I think one of the reasons why Arsene Wenger hasn’t been that proactive in the transfer market so far and especially in seconding a creative striker, was because he was waiting to see if Cesc was to become available. If he is not then the chase for Rooney, Jovetic and others can continue.
In what could be a nightmare scenario for Arsenal fans it appears that David Moyes has made Cesc Fabregas his number one target.
According to The Daily Mail Moyes ‘has targeted midfield as the area in greatest need of strengthening and that Fabregas is one of his prime targets, following an initial meeting to discuss potential acquisitions for this summer.’
The Mail also suggests that United will have a rival for the ex-Arsenal player too in the guise of Man City. It also says that Barcelona are ready to let the player go and that inevitably the Premiership seems his most likely destination.
The news is certain to send a shiver down the spin of Arsenal fans. The thought of both Fabregas and Van Persie lining up against them next season would certainly be massively depressing for Gunners followers.
The question is though – if Fabregas is coming back to the Premiership will it not be to his old club?
There are some goods signs for Gooners to cling on to. Firstly Fabregas is still an Arsenal fan and regularly watches the games either on TV or when he can at the Emirates. Secondly Barca still owe Arsenal money from his, and Alex Song’s transfers.
Wenger himself said in January
“I’m not convinced that he will not one day come back here because he is a real Arsenal man. He loves Arsenal, he watches every Arsenal game.”
Also there are unsubstantiated rumours of a buy back clause which was inserted into his Barca contract.
The question is though do Arsenal want the player back? His skill and vision would certainly rejuvenate Arsenal’s midfield.
I think that the thought of Fabregas lining up for United would be too much for Arsenal fans. But if there is no rooms for him in a midfield brimming with world class talent – well Cazorla and Wilshere anyhow – it might just be where the Spaniard ends up.
So that’s it. Done until August. Or July. Or the end of June, depending on where your club sits geographically or hierarchically.
The 2012-2013 football season is, more or less, over, bar a Champions League Final at Wembley between two German teams (so twice as guaranteed to end with penalties), and the Championship Playoff Final two days later at the same venue.
Has it been a vintage nine months? No. Not when its highlight has been the retirements of a manager and the replica shirt salesman who once played for him.
Not when the Premier League is won four weeks early by an in-development Manchester United, with the reigning champions failing to put up much of a fight.
And not when the wooden spoon positions of third and fourth become so critical to clubs’ fortunes that they become performance objectives in their own right, fought over like the last grains of rice in a famine.
The 2012-13 season has, to be honest, been pretty mediocre. And that mediocrity hasn’t been helped by the recurrence of racism as a core issue, the brief flare-ups of old-school hooliganism, and players and their clubs doing little to protect their reputations from their own behavioural misdemeanors.
Added to that, we’ve witnessed the sorry, greedy, paranoid state of affairs in which by March, 103 English league managers and coaches had been sacked, resigned or, to use that old chestnut, departed “by mutual consent”. What kind of season is it when onetime European champions Nottingham Forest fire four managers, and that chickens-in-a-basket case Blackburn Rovers end up with their fourth their season since August?
Like a Grand Prix, it is rare these days to end a football season feeling completely satisfied. Tired, yes, out of pocket, certainly, but after the requisite 38 games (or 69 if you’re Chelsea…), it’s difficult to look back completely objectively and say “that was brilliant from start to finish”. Because, short of 20 teams taking it down to the wire at either end of table, seasons tend to be as attritional as a French battlefield in 1917.
So, to formerly shutter this term, What Would David Bowie Do? presents its club-by-club end-of-term opinion on the Barclays Premier League 2012-13, in the process offering no apology whatsoever for the longer rant about Chelsea than anyone else (at least it’s spared you a separate post…):
Manchester United (89 points, goal difference +43) Champions
On the opening day of the 1995-1996 season, that football sage Alan Hansen told Match of the Day viewers that “You can’t win anything with kids” after a somewhat juvenile Manchester United team went down 3-1 to Aston Villa. That United team went on to win one of the club’s 11 league titles under Sir Alex Ferguson.
United looked similarly young this season, and history repeated itself with a defeat, at home on the opening day. It would appear that Hansen’s retirement from Match of the Day hasn’t come soon enough. But enough about him.
This may not have been a vintage season for Manchester United, but in his customary manner, SAF fixed his one main problem audaciously by bringing in van Persie, and blooded more youngsters in to the extent that the likes of Phil Jones ended the season looking like he’d been a first team regular for years. United’s season ultimately prevailed, but you have to wonder what a more spirited title defence from City would have achieved, and what if more teams like Chelsea had gone to Old Trafford and played United at their own game.
I’m not going to add to the already universal lament for Sir Alex, save that despite all we have vituperatively aimed at him from the terraces down the years, his remarkable record at Manchester United does speak for itself. Less so Paul Scholes – an inspirational midfielder at times, an unguided cluster bomb on occasion – whose eventual retirement deserves recognition. So, too, David Beckham. OK, he hadn’t played for United in ten years, spending that time in Spain, Italy, California and France shifting merchandise for Adidas, but it was at Old Trafford under Ferguson that one of football’s greatest stars was created, along with a modicum of ability.
Manchester City (78pts, GD +32) 2nd
Chelsea responded to their first league title in fifty years by winning another one in 2006. Manchester City responded to their first league title in 44 years by becoming increasingly dysfunctional, with their much respected manager Roberto Mancini losing his focus (Balotelli) and his political nouse in both the boardroom and the dressing room.
Finishing second is never a bad thing, but as successive managers at Stamford Bridge have found, second is always second best in the eyes of ambitious and success-greedy proprietors who believe that their investments owe them a right.
Getting sacked was an astonishingly cruel outcome for Mancini, but with Manchester United not being as rampant this season as their points and securing the title prematurely might suggest, the 11-point, 11-goal deficit with their neighbours became enough of a gaping chasm to expose a team that could have done much better with the right management approach. To end the season with a management clearout before the final game suggests a poisonous atmosphere
Next stop – The Londoners
With all the talk about Robin van Persie, this would have been a perfect opportunity for his successor at Arsenal, Olivier Giroud, to prove he’s been a decent replacement in his first Premier League campaign. Giroud has been unable to match Van Persie’s goalscoring tally, but his all-round play has been decent.
Giroud’s red card for a clumsy tackle at Craven Cottage last weekend means a three-game suspension, however, and therefore Arsene Wenger has a choice between Gervinho, Theo Walcott and Lukas Podolski upfront this weekend. All three have more regularly started on the flanks, but Gervinho started the season well upfront, and the other two insist they prefer a central striking role.
Walcott’s main quality, of course, is his raw pace in behind. He’s often played well when given opportunities upfront this season, but expect Sir Alex Ferguson to field a centre-back pairing that won’t be sluggish against his acceleration. Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic probably isn’t the right combination, and Jonny Evans alongside Chris Smalling worked well at the Emirates last season.
It’s difficult to see what Podolski offers over the other two he’s similarly direct, and likes breaking onto through-balls, but lacks Walcott’s raw pace or Gervinho’s dribbling ability. Interestingly, the German hasn’t started a Premier League game since January, with some suggesting his lack of work rate and stamina in a defensive sense has frustrated Wenger.
If Podolski isn’t starting on the left, and doesn’t start upfront despite Giroud’s unavailability, you wonder precisely what his purpose at Arsenal is. Gervinho and Walcott seems a better bet, with the duo able to alternate between the right flank, and the centre-forward role.
Is there any need for Robin van Persie to start at the Emirates on Sunday afternoon? Manchester United’s number 20 scored the excellent hat-trick that sealed the club’s 20th league title on Monday night against Aston Villa, and might be given a guard of honour by the Arsenal team that sold him last summer.
But Van Persie still has an affection for Arsenal, respect for their supporters (see his non-celebration in the reverse fixture) and has constantly underlined his gratitude towards Arsene Wenger. There’s no particular reason for Van Persie to be involved this weekend, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him left out of the starting XI.
Van Persie’s hat-trick against Villa also saw him move ahead of Luis Suarez in the race for the Golden Boot and with the Uruguayan suspended for the rest of the season (even an appeal is unlikely to cut the ban in half), Van Persie has effectively secured that award, which was probably the only reason he might’ve wanted to play.
While the Dutchman has largely remained injury free over the past two campaigns, he’s still a player that needs to be rested whenever possible.
Besides, Ferguson might prefer to give playing time to squad members that haven’t been regulars this season: Javier Hernandez has been a brilliant supersub but insists he prefers to start matches, while Danny Welbeck’s tactical intelligence has been useful, but he needs to score more. He hit the winner in this fixture last season, and is probably a more logical starter than Van Persie.
Now in a classic piece of mischief making the Daily Mail is reporting that some of the players aren’t took keen on saluting their former team mate.
The paper says
Reluctant Arsenal players are privately unhappy about giving newly crowned champions Manchester United — and their former captain, Robin van Persie — a guard of honour when they meet at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday – but they are still expected to perform the honour.
A guard of honour is a tradition in games involving teams who have just won the title. Privately, a number of Arsenal players have expressed objections towards the gesture, particularly in front of their own supporters, but it is understood it will still go ahead.
There’s no attribution to the source of the story, so make of that what you will.
The Mail is certainly splashing a little fuel on a fire that could soon rage out of control.
Arsenal need to confirm or deny that the guard will happen and work with the fans to ensure that it goes off peacefully. If fans want to turn their backs on the United players that’s up to them.
However I think that anything that gives United players more determination to win a game that they really don’t need to – whereas Arsenal are desperate for the points – is not sensible.
There is one certainty in football this season and that is that Robin Van Persie will score for Man United when they visit The Emirates on Sunday April 28th.
If his current form is any barometer too it will be the Dutchman’s second league goal in 15 games.
For after a blistering start to the season Van Persie has struggled at United. His overall play has been fine and in many ways he has been unlucky. But one goal in 13 games for the club tells its own story. Interestingly the man who (kind of) replaced him Olivier Giroud has scored seven goals in his last 13 games – and most Arsenal fans would argue that his first season for them has been at best mixed.
It is hard to work out if this mid-season dip is something that RVP suffered at Arsenal. This is largely because in all his years at the club the Gunners only really got two full seasons out of the player. Last year, for example, the longest he went without a goal was four games, in fact it was rarely more than two.
If RVP fails to score next match he will equal Torres’ longest run without a goal at Chelsea.
At the moment it arguably doesn’t matter a great deal. Van Persie’s goals from earlier in the season – and let’s not forget how prolific he was and how many games he won for the club – has propelled the team to the title.
But had it been a much closer race I wonder if Fergie, to say nothing of the United fans, been so forgiving?
There are also rumours of strikers heading to United from Falcao through to Lewandowski. But who are they going to replace – Rooney? Wellbeck?
I do wonder if RVP will be remembered by United fans as a player who excelled for half a season and then quietly slipped out of view.
So United fans – does RVP still have a big role to play at Old Trafford. Or are those injuries starting to catch up with him?
“He’ll be here next year.You can have my word on that.”
The Man United manager added
“There is no issue between myself and Wayne Rooney. To suggest we don’t talk is nonsense.”
Ferguson then explained that Rooney understood why he was left out of the side’s recent game with Real Madrid.
“He understood the reasons completely. Tactically we got it right. We don’t always but we did then. I left out Shinji Kagawa after he scored a hat-trick. I thought I would get more stick for that.”
This always seemed the most likely outcome after several days of wild press speculation. The sad truth for Rooney is that, unlike in 2010, there was no suitable move on the cards. City don’t want him and none of the other north west clubs could accommodate him.
Realistically only Chelsea and possibly PSG would be in the market for him.
The clamouring for Arsenal to sign a striker continues with fans desperate to see someone pull on a Gunners shirt who is clinical, predatory and consistent. Three words that can’t really describe the current incumbent Olivier Giourd.
Giroud has impressed in flashes this season, but for me he doesn’t get in enough goal scoring positions and never ever puts away any half chances. His record of shots to goals converted isn’t bad, but then the number of shots he has is quite low.
He is not a disaster but rather symptomatic of the way that Arsenal are this season – good in patches but lacking consistency.
Giroud then has scored three times in the last ten games he has played for Arsenal, which isn’t the most impressive of records.
Interestingly though there is another Premiership striker who has identical stats and it is not who you might think. Nope not Torres, but one RVP of Man United. The player has grabbed goals against Everton and Spurs in the last two months but it has been pretty slim pickings this year.
It did strike me in the game against Real that RVP was missing something from his game. Chances that you would have expected him to put away this season (and last) went begging. He also had a lot of bad luck – which if Karma does exist means he probably used it all up in the first half of the season.
Martin Samuel in the Mail has worked out that had Arsenal kept Robin Van Persie for another season and his goal rate stayed the same then the situation would be reversed. Arsenal would be top of the Premiership and Man United would have been mid-table stragglers.
Martin’s theory runs like this.
United have gone behind to the first goal of the game in 10 Premier League matches and in seven have come back to win. Of those seven, five have featured crucial goals from Van Persie, including the equaliser against Fulham, a hat-trick against Southampton and the winner against Liverpool.
Now consider Arsenal with Van Persie’s 10 league goals this season added to their total. Supplement a single goal from Van Persie to the draws with Sunderland, Stoke City, Manchester City, Fulham, Aston Villa and Everton; add an equaliser to the one-goal defeats by Chelsea, Norwich City and Manchester United. That is a difference of 15 points, or the current spread between Manchester United (top, 36 points) and Arsenal (10th, 21).
Fortunately for Sir Alex, Kagawa, Hernandez and ironically, Rooney have filed the breach recently, but there is clearly a question over the form of the ex-Arsenal man.
Van Persie is clearly Sir Alex’s golden boy at the moment. But if he goes a few more games without finding the net some of that glow might start to recede.