Lie-ins are good. Still got a poxy pain in my ear though.
The futures of Flamini and Hleb are causing the most discussion this morning, so we’ll deal with the individually. We’ll start with the free scoring Belarussian:
Hleb: Arsene Wenger was very, very angry when talking about Hleb and Inter Milan, threatening to go to FIFA if clubs spoke about wanting Arsenal players in the the future. Inter coach Roberto Mancini has denied saying anything at all about Hleb but with the ice-cream situation, Hleb’s agent talking about a move and all the speculation you do get the feeling Hleb is hardly whiter than white in this situation.
Rumours last night that Hleb was leaving, a fee had been agreed and that Hleb was going to rent out his house added fuel to the fire but we should remember the source of this rumour was the same one that said Harry Kewell was going to sign and that we’d sold Sol Campbell to a Turkish club for Â£10m. That’s not to say Hleb won’t leave but it’d be prudent to take that one with a pinch of salt.
The manager’s anger at Inter Milan though makes me believe there’s more than just speculation regarding Hleb and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he left.
Flamini: On Flamini the manager said:
I believe he wants to stay and we want him to stay. We have made him an offer, if it’s not good enough we will know soon.Â I respect our wages structure. We do not play – a little bit more, a little bit more. We have made an offer. We think it is decent and that is it.
The ball is well and truly in Flamini’s court, as it has been for some time and that’s what makes me pessimistic about him staying. Reports in Italy say he’s snubbed Juventus and agreed to join Milan but then reports in Italy could say the sky is blue and the grass is green and you’d still not quite believe it.
With Gael Clichy saying it would be a big blow to lose Flamini and the simple fact that he’s had lots and lots of time to make a decision about his future without committing to Arsenal it would be a surprise to me if he decided to stay. A nice surprise but a surprise nonetheless.
So we have one midfielder who has been absolutely fantastic this season and one experienced midfielder of undoubted skill but little end product on the point of leaving the club. As I said on yesterday’s Arsecast if I could choose it’d be Flamini every time. I think it’s easier to replace Hleb with a player who can offer more in terms of goals and assists than Flamini whose energy and workrate isn’t easy to find in most central midfielders. To be honest I think now is the right time for Hleb to go, both for him and for us. I think the opposite in the Flamini case.
The other worrying thing is that both these players are friends off the pitch, along with Cesc, Rosicky and others. There’s a lot to be said for playing with guys that you like away from the Saturday grind as well. You’ll go that extra mile, run those extra yards etc.
We keep hearing the manager saying his first priority is keeping this squad together. I’ve read press speculation in the last few days about Gilberto and Senderos too. Whatever happens we cannot lose 4 players of that experience, who add depth to our squad like that. The manager seems to have his work cut out for him. Anyway, we’ll see what happens.
Ahead of the Derby game there’s the news that Bacary Sagna won’t play again this season after his injury against Chelsea. It’s a shame but he’s been a big success this season and I’m looking forward to seeing him continue where he left off when the new season begins. Who plays in goal on Monday night is still to be decided but the boss wants to take a look at Lukasz Fabianksi and I’m curious to see him in a league game too. I liked the look of him in the Carling Cup games I saw him in.
In other news William Gallas says Arsenal’s slump is not his fault and that him being a big baby at Birmingham had nothing to do with it. I respectfully disagree.
Thierry Henry coming back? Arsene Wenger says you can never say never but I can’t see it happening.
Tony Adams is out of contract with Portsmouth in the summer, he’s currently number 2 to Harry Redknapp. He’s thinking about his future and hinting that he might be able to offer something to Arsenal in terms of defensive coaching. He says:
I just feel that people donâ€™t realise that the best back four win the league. Weâ€™ve kept more clean sheets at Portsmouth than Arsenal have, but Iâ€™m not going to question the great man. I love the club, it was part of my life for so many years and if anyone at Arsenal wants to invite me back, Iâ€™m willing to give it a shot. Iâ€™m fully prepared and willing to do what I have to do.
There was a time when Martin Keown was doing some coaching work at Arsenal, defensive coaching work. It coincided with a back four of Eboue – Kolo – Senderos – Flamini setting a new Champions League record for games/time without conceding a goal. I suspect most people nowadays would poo themselves if we sent out that back four to play Real Madrid or Juventus.
Could Tony Adams bring something to the club? No question. Does our defence need sorting out? Absolutely. Could players like Sagna, Senderos, Toure, even Gallas, learn from one of the best defenders Arsenal and England has ever produced? You’re damn right they could.
His point about the back four is a good one. For a couple of seasons now we’ve looked capable of conceding at any time, our central defensive partnership (Kolo and Gallas) is wrong and to have somebody with the mentality and attitude of Tony Adams at the club would be incredible. While some players think sitting and crying and throwing tantrums has nothing to do with how a club performs somebody like Tony Adams in the dressing room would be rousing those players, not letting them feel sorry for themselves. It’s hard to argue that we need that kind of spirit at times. Bring him back.
Finally, Sp*rs have signed long-time Arsenal target Luka Modric. A fee of over Â£20m has been agreed and before anyone asks ‘Where do Sp*rs get that kind of money?’ the answer is that it will come from the sale of Berbatov in the summer. As for Modric, he’s now officially a cunt. Next.
Right, that’s it. More tomorrow.