Saturday round-up: Benayoun says thanks and Italian keeper linked

There was a time when seeing the world pre-7am on a Saturday meant a very good Friday night. Now it’s just waking up time and the dog has it sorted, let me tell you. Gets up, goes out the back for his morning ablutions, and then straight back to his bed where he’s now snoring like Jens Lehmann. No, I don’t understand what I mean there either. It’s too early to make sense.

It will be a pretty short Saturday round-up for you, mostly because there’s bugger all happening and the Euros are drawing to a close so there’s no filler there either. I think they should have a 3rd and 4th place play-off, and a 5th and 6th place play-off, simply to provide me with something to talk about. Or maybe a novelty game featuring 11 a side with highly trained bears but with one or two Joey Barton bears on each team so it could kick off into a frenzy of fearsome bear swipes and bottom lips sticking out when bears do that scary warning thing they do.

In fact that’d probably be more entertaining that most of the games we’ve seen since the group stages. Note to Platini: less referees, more technology, and increase the goddam bear count. Ireland’s bears would still be crap though, preferring to drink bear ale to, you know, training and stuff. Still, the ultra violence would make up for it.

Away from bears and the like, Yossi Benayoun – probably the least bearlike player in our squad last year, he’s more of a chilled out lemur – more or less confirmed that he wouldn’t be continuing with us next season. Via Twitter he said:

My loan spell with arsenal will be officially over tomorrow. I want to say again a big thanks to the fans and the club.

For the opportunity and the great support and I wish this club all the very best!

Which was jolly nice of him and I have to say that while I’m generally a bit dubious about loan deals in general (not loaning players out, there’s a good reason why we do that), this one was pretty much a success. There was a period when he seemed to lose the trust of the manager, he sat on the bench during those painful cup defeats in Milan and on Sunderland’s ploughed field, but when it came to the crunch Arsene used him very well.

It was something of a surprise to see him start against Sp*rs but it proved something of a masterstroke. In the big game against City he started again and his goals towards the end of the season proved very valuable indeed. In fact, his goal against West Brom on the final day is the second time he’s contributed to Sp*rs missing out on the Champions League. On the day of the lasagne, the final time we played at Highbury, it was Benayoun who scored the winner for West Ham after Teddy Sheringham had rather conveniently missed a penalty against his old team.

It might have been last minute but it was a decent piece of business and he’ll have made a lot of friends amongst the Arsenal support. He’s a good, experienced professional who worked hard and got his reward in the end. I hope some took note of that. He goes back to Chelsea now, of course, and it’s hard not to think he deserves better than that. He spoke earlier in the season about dropping down a bit to play more regularly for a mid-table team, and whoever picks him up will have fine player on their hands. Good luck and thanks to him for what he brought to the side last season.

As today is June 30th, Manuel Almunia officially leaves the club, and with the futures of both Lukas Fabianski and Vito Mannone in doubt, it’s no surprise we’ve been linked with a new keeper. Italian international Emiliano Viviano is being touted in the Italian press as a possible candidate, and at 26 years of age would fit the bill as both understudy to Wojciech Szczesny and somebody who can provide him with the necessary competition for his place.

He’s not the first keeper we’ve been linked with either. In May there were reports we were scouting Norwegian Kenneth Udjus. What’s clear is that Fabianski wants to leave. In almost every interview he gives now he reiterates his stance that his footballing future lies away from Arsenal, while Mannone is also keen on first team football and, with all due respect, probably not at the level required for us anyway. So, with all that in mind, the signing of a goalkeeper who has some experience is an absolute necessity. There are high hopes for youngster Damian Martinez, but it just strikes me as too risky to go into the season without more established back-up.

Anyway, it’s an area to keep an eye on as the transfer window literally explodes into life tomorrow. It may not literally explode. In fact, it’ll probably be like a damp firework going ‘ppppffffft’ but there you go.

Right, that’s more than enough from me. Have a good Saturday, back tomorrow.

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