Arsenal sign Diarra::Pompey preview::Arseski

So, Saturday morning. My head hurts only slightly. Let’s try and make shape of what’s going on this morning.

We’ll start with the most important thing and that’s the football. After saying nobody would be coming in we made a late, late transfer deal with Chelsea, like we did last season, for Lasanna Diarra. Arsene’s collection of central midfielders just keeps on going. Arsene said:

Lassana is a multi-functional player, making him a great addition to our squad. Not only is he hard working, he has a creative edge and is comfortable playing in the middle of the pitch or at right back

Phew! At least we’ve got cover a right back. That was an area of the pitch that was beginning to concern me. He’s sort of like Makelele, the way he plays, and it will be curious to see how he’s deployed. A long term replacement for Gilberto and with Flamini yet to sign a new deal he could take his role in the side. It’s a strange signing though, you have to say. I’m glad as it adds depth to the squad but doesn’t really address the issue we have with wide players. On the other hand Hleb and Rosicky are doing ok so far so let’s see how it goes. Arsene’s dream of a team made up entirely from central midfielders comes closer to fruition. All we can do is welcome our new boy to the Arsenal. He’ll wear the number 8 shirt.

Team news ahead of tomorrow’s game against Portsmouth sees Alex Hleb doubtful with illness (Polonium210? I kid, I kid) while Gallas, Lehmann, Sagna and Eboue are all out injured. It’s quite a return for some old boys with Kanu, Lauren and BFS all set to start for Harry Redknapp’s side. We’re on the telly too, which is nice.

The other transfer deadline deal saw Jay Simpson move to Milwall on a 6 month loan deal. Best of luck to him there.

Now, onto the other stuff and there’s a mountain of it to get through. As I thought the situation has become rather divisive although most reasoned commentators can see Red and White Ltd for what they are, obvious candidates excepted. The main issue of support for Dein and his new chums comes from the idea that Arsene Wenger would have more money to spend. This is what Arsene had to say about that yesterday:

I feel, in the short term, I do not need more money. You have to see how the game’s evolution is in the next four or five years. But if I wanted to buy a player today I have money available. I said that last week so, on today’s basis, it’s not a problem.

‘But what about the future?’, you say. ‘He says he might need money in four of five years’. Arsene’s response to that:

You have to work with a club’s natural resources. There is no other way. You will not find people for the next 25 years prepared to pump £50m or £100m into a club. That cannot work.

And he’s right too. It’s the whole sugar Daddy thing going on here. Some fans are the pretty young girl who is quite willing to overlook the physical limitations of the older man because he can buy her nice things in the nice shops. What the current Arsenal board have done is set out a plan which will increase the revenue of the club, which will allow the manager to spend more money, which will increase our financial power without crippling the club with debt (yes, I’m aware we have a debt on the new stadium) and without having to take money which some people feel is somewhat tainted. If Abramovich’s money is tainted in the eyes of Arsenal fans then so is Usmanov’s.

The manager also spoke about friendship with David Dein but insisted he would not become involved in any ‘strategic struggle’ and his responsbility was to his best for the club. He also revealed there’d be news on his contract ‘next week’.

Gunnerblog wheeled out the classic David Dein quote yesterday about the Russians parking their tanks on the lawn and firing £50 notes at us. His disdain for them doesn’t seem to have lasted though, does it? Various reports this morning suggest that Dein has been frantically trying to sell his shares and even up to last week was trying to get Stan Kroenke to buy them. They suggest the American was unwilling to do so because of Dein’s proposed ownership structure. Basically, Kroenke wasn’t willing to buy all those shares then install Dein as the front man allowing him to pocket the £75m and still get to play with his favourite toy (James Lawton’s final comment in this piece is good. What’s up with Lawton recently? He’s been quite nice about us). And can you blame Kroenke? After essentially being landed with 12% of something with no value to him when he couldn’t get the required shares to takeover he has been more circumspect in his dealings with Dein.

So with that Dein found Usmanov and Moshiri were willing to give him £75m and allow him to be chairman and representative of his new company. Usmanov revealed yesterday in the Russian media that his intention was to increase his holding in the club. That should come as absolutely no surprise to anyone, it’s just a matter of how quickly they move things. The Independent reports that the club’s largest shareholder, Danny Fiszman, is set to take a more hands on role at the club as the current board consolidates its position.

It has become a massive talking point though. I believe Arseblog, along with another few Arsenal blogs, got a mention in today’s FT as they covered the fan reaction to Red and Shite’s involvement. Heh. FT, how posh. The Man from East Lower gives his view of things. All we can do though is hope that this off-pitch distraction doesn’t affect things on the park because they’ve been going well. It looks like a bloody boardroom battle is on the way but here’s hoping the majority of the headlines are about the football.

Opposition to Dein and Usmanov (who is a confirmed Manchester United fan) will not go away though. Initial reactions tend to be stronger and more vociferous but if I’m not sure opposition to this will die down. The online community through blogs and comments lends a voice to thousands of Arsenal fans across the world and whatever your blog of choice your comments and views can help. I thought the response from the Arsenal Supporters Trust was rather disappointing but their interest is in Arsenal shareholders, which the majority of fans are not. From the reaction that we got on Arseblog yesterday, and reading around some of the other blogs, it seems a large section of the Arsenal fans online are opposed to the concept of Arseski. Let’s hope those views are reflected offline too.

And long may that continue. That’s it from me, have a good weekend.