Wanted: new midfield, por favor

So, no surprise that Mathieu Flamini’s move to Milan was confirmed yesterday. That’s not important any more though.

What is important is how the manager replaces him. What Flamimi did this season was allow Cesc to flourish in a more attacking role and I think it’s vital that whoever comes in has to be able to do that as well. I don’t see anyone at the club who can perform that role in the way that Flamini did so you’d have to think the manager will be looking elsewhere to find that kind of player. It is way to early to start the speculation about who that might be. We have the whole summer ahead of us to build up names then get disappointed when we sign somebody else.

What is interesting is that some newspapers are reporting Flamini has left for a £50,000 a week deal at Milan, leaving some fans to question why Arsenal couldn’t match that kind of money. Remember that Flamini left on a Bosman so the deal he did with Milan is worth a lot more than £50,000 a week. It strikes me that there’s a bit of shit stirring going on here, perhaps from those it would suit if Arsenal were seen to have ‘no money’ and some friendly journalists to help spread the ‘crisis’ stories. Be very clear, Arsenal may have a wage structure but it doesn’t mean players don’t get a paid a lot of money. Even with the arrival of Chelsea and their obscene money I doubt there was a better paid Premiership player than Thierry Henry.

The Times, one of those papers, also reports that Alexander Hleb has apparently confided in teammates that he and his representatives have concluded a 4 year deal with Inter Milan. He’s apparently frustrated at Arsenal’s lack of silverware, which is quite ironic because I’m frustrated with Hleb’s inability to do anything to help us win silverware. It seems likely that he’s going to invoke the Webster clause to buy out his contract and frankly I couldn’t care less. If he goes, even if we were to replace him with a cheap hacker from the Championship, the chances are that player could manage more than the pathetic 3 league goal return we got from Hleb this season, and his even more pathetic 11 goals in 3 years at the club. Say what you want about his quick feet and unbelievable skill on the ball, his end product just isn’t good enough. He’s obviously not committed to the team, let him go if he wants. The Independent runs the same story.

With doubts over Gilberto’s future as well we could start the season having lost 4 midfield players. Flamini, Hleb, Gilberto and Diarra whose departure is likely to cause much debate over the summer. Why did the manager let him go when Flamini’s future was still up in the air? I really don’t know the answer to that but you have to imagine the circumstances where any manager would sell a player they’d just bought a couple of months earlier were nothing short of extraordinary. Diarra’s behaviour forced the issue, complaining about lack of first team football just weeks after joining, and his apparent refusal to play in the FA Cup was the final straw. A decent player but absolutely lacking in the kind of character you need at the highest level. He failed at Chelsea, he failed at Arsenal, with the greatest of respect perhaps he’s found his level at Portsmouth.

Anyway, it certainly promises to be an interesting summer ahead but we still have one game left to play this season. We know that 2nd place is now out of the question after Chelsea’s win over Newcastle but the aim has got to be the 83 points and to keep the momentum going. Don’t forget the 49 game unbeaten run came off the back of an intense disappointment, similar to this season. We lost the title at home to Leeds, of all fucking people, with that big fat Viducunt scoring a late winner. Now, I’m not suggesting we’re going to do similar next season but let’s not lose sight of the fact that this isn’t the first disappointment we’ve ever suffered and it won’t be the last.

Jens Lehmann says the goodbye he got at the end of the Everton game will always stay in his heart. The German says:

I had one or two tears in my eyes. It was a great farewell for me. This farewell will always stay in my heart. There are more memories than only just playing, there is the reception of the supporters. The respectful kindness of the supporters.

Cheerio, Jens and in the Mirror he suggests that players will come and go this summer, hopefully to make Arsenal successful.

Congratulations to the Arsenal Ladies who won the FA Cup yesterday to add to their league triumph. Silverware! Arsenal silverware!

Finally for today if you fancy going along to the Cesc Fabregas TV show I’ve got two pairs of tickets to give away. No doubt you’ll have already seen some of the clips, including one where Cesc gets set on fire and does some ball juggling (is it just me or is that really not the kind of thing you want to see your best player doing?!), so if you want to go along to the recording, which takes place on Tuesday May 13th in London, then simply answer the following question:

‘Scarface Begs’ is an anagram of which Arsenal footballer’s name?

Answers by Wednesday night to [email protected] and I’ll announce the winners on Thursday morning. Please be aware that you do have to be able to attend this show, the prize is the tickets only, first class air fares, hotel stays, massages, 5 course silver-service dinners and post show cocktails are NOT included.

Right then, until tomorrow, Arsefans.