1) Robin van Persie’s goal after 3 minutes was rather inevitable. It was almost written that RvP was going to score, and there wasn’t very much that we could do about it. If he didn’t score from Vermaelen’s cruddy clearance then he probably would have gone on to score later on anyway.
2) Thomas Vermaelen chose a really bad day to have an off-game. Vermaelen’s clearance was pretty poor, and he gifted an opportunity to the one man on the pitch that we didn’t want to give the ball to. Vermaelen also nearly gave away a second goal when he half slipped and misplaced a pass. There are some people asking whether Laurent Koscielny should be given a few games in defence with Per Mertesacker. However, the fact that Vermaelen is our captain is a big problem; how can you leave your captain out of the team? That said, he has not had a great start to the season and I am not sure that he is actually our best defender.
3) As predicted, Andre Santos struggled vs Rafael and Valancia. However, Lukas Podolski should shoulder an equal amount of the blame because he should have given the Brazilian a little bit of help. Podolski should have been marking Evra or at least making a vague attempt to track his run, but he did very little and the move led to United’s opening goal.
4) Wenger got the team selection wrong. Manchester United have looked a bit vulnerable on the counter-attack this season, so Wenger went and stuck Aaron Ramsey on the right wing, with Theo Walcott on the bench. Walcott is said to have been unhappy about being benched after his performance against Reading and I can understand why. Ramsey lacks the pace for the wing; he is naturally a central midfielder, but Wenger insists on playing him out of position. With no Gervinho and no Walcott in the team, Arsenal lacked pace and our play was slow and obvious. I don’t really understand where Ramsey was supposed to fit into the team.
5) Arsenal were beaten by a header from one of the smallest players on the pitch, from a corner. How can a team that has the height of Giroud and Mertesacker beaten to a header by Patrice Evra? Evra is 5’8″ – hardly a giant. And yet again, we were undone by a corner (or a cross that came straight from a corner).
6) Mike Dean did not hold back on the yellow cards and gave away the inevitable penalty. The first thing to say is that, although the game lacked it’s usual ferociousness, there were a fair few silly challenges and Mike Dean obliged by handing out 9 yellow cards. I think that most of us could have predicted that there would be a penalty at Old Trafford, but the way that we conceded it was particularly frustrating. Cazorla’s hands were in the air, but I would like to ask what the other options were? He was protecting himself. I guess Santi was supposed to just get hit in the face by the ball, which was struck pretty close to him anyway.
7) Wenger made the wrong substitution. I think that we could all see that Jack Wilshere was throwing himself into a lot of challenges (- that is just the way that he plays!), but he was already on a yellow card and we had Aaron Ramsey on the wing. Take Wilshere off, move Ramsey into the centre and bring on Walcott. It should have been simple. In the end, Wilshere’s ban is a blessing in disguise. It means that our talented central midfielder will have an involuntary rest next weekend against Fulham and will be relatively fresh to face Spurs. However, you wonder if Arsenal could have nicked a draw if we still had 11 men on the pitch.
8) Vito Mannone made some great saves. Credit where credit is due. I thought that Mannone had a pretty good game, and it would seem that many Arsenal fans would agree. We voted him the MOTM on Arsenal.com followed very closely by Santi Cazorla. Robin van Perise would surely have scored a second if it wasn’t for a brilliant save from the Italian.
9) Cazorla’s goal was fantastic, but it was too little too late. Had it come earlier it might have prompted a reaction, but the referee’s whistle blew while we were watching the replay. We saw against Reading how a late goal can bring the best out of the team, but Arsenal had lacked urgency for most of the afternoon.
10) As per usual, we can’t blame the loss on a lack of possession. Some websites have us having anywhere from 48-54% of the ball, but we did nothing with it. Even though United won, Fergie was said to be disappointed by his teams performance. I was absolutely amazed that we were only a goal down at half time, and 2-1 was a rather flattering result. It was honestly one of the worst Arsenal performances I have seen since the first half vs Reading or Norwich. The match lacked the intensity that we have seen in this game in previous seasons. Given our poor performance, it might be worrying for United fans that they only managed to beat us by one goal.
Today I am going to attempt to disprove rumours on Twitter which suggest that Robin van Persie was/is on his way to Old Trafford to negotiate terms with Manchester United.
As we reported yesterday, Twitter was full of rumours which suggested that RvP was leaving Arsenal’s training camp in Germany in order to finalise contract terms with United. The Twitter rumours also said that the deal would be worth £220k a week, making him the club’s joint highest earner with Wayne Rooney. As far as I am aware, this news was originally broken in the Spanish press, with both Marca and ESPN Deportes reporting that van Persie could be in Manchester as early as Wednesday evening. However, it is now Friday and if the latest photos on Arsenal.com are anything to go by, our captain is still very much at the club’s pre-season training camp in Germany, warming up for Sunday’s friendly against FC Cologne.
What I couldn’t understand is how Robin could be free to speak to United when, speaking after his side’s pre-season defeat to Barcelona, Sir Alex has made it very clear that Arsenal are refusing to play ball. United and Arsenal are still nowhere near agreeing a fee for the prolific Dutchman. Seeing as I had nothing better to do at 11pm on a Thursday evening, I decided to skim through the FIFA Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players in order to check the rules on player-club negotiations.
According to Article 18 (Special provisions relating to contracts between professionals and club) paragraph 3, United are free to enter contract negotiations with Robin in January and then sign him on a free next summer. He is in the last year of his contract and can leave Arsenal under a Bosman Free Transfer, something which seems to be all too familiar for Arsenal fans. Other than that, I do not think that the Reds are allowed to contact Robin with contract offers until they have agreed a fee with Arsenal – which they clearly haven’t as yet! Don’t hold me to this; I could be wrong as there were 40-something pages of dense legal material to go through.
Contract offers, however, are unimportant if Arsenal are refusing to sell to a major rival. Robin could be offered £1 million a week starting next month, but he still can’t leave Arsenal if the club don’t want him to. Whether or not the club are willing to let him leave on a free next season is an entirely different issue. Not selling to United would be a show of strength because we have not allowed the player to manoeuvre his way away from the club, but it could also prove to be financially viable. Arguably, it could be worth forgoing the £20m fee from Manchester United if we were to win a major trophy this season thanks to van Persie’s contributions. For example, the £2 million in prize money from the FA Cup seems insignificant in the grand scheme of things, but the fact that Arsenal would have won a trophy would give us a bit more bargaining power when it comes to future transfers. This is, of course, presuming that he doesn’t sulk and refuse to play (in which case he is being rather pathetic and doesn’t deserve any sort of respect whatsoever).
If anybody has any extra information on this situation then please let me know in the comments section below. I am sure that there must be somebody who knows more about contract negotiations than I do and no doubt others who will want to prove me wrong. I must reiterate that I am not an expert on the subject.
Speaking at a press conference after his side lost on penalties to Barcelona in a pre-season friendly, Sir Alex Ferguson has confirmed that Manchester United will persevere in transfer negotiations for Robin van Persie, despite the obvious reluctance of Arsenal to sell to one of our biggest rivals.
It was first revealed that United had made a bid for RvP around 3 weeks ago. However, it is not known whether the Reds have made an improved offer or if Fergie is referring to the original bid. It is very clear that Arsenal want to avoid selling to United and, given that Juventus and Manchester City have both cooled their interest, it is now looking increasingly likely that the Dutchman will remain at the Emirates for another season.
The BBC are reporting that Arsenal will not enter into negotiations with United until the offer is at least £20 million, although I think that we should hold out for £25-30m, regardless of the fact that he has only 1 year on his contract. Either we receive a decent price or van Persie doesn’t move. Fergie is not used to having clubs tell him no, and I have to say that I am quite enjoying watching Arsenal hold their own.
“I can’t give you any more information. We have made a bid and they’ve been trying to negotiate with other clubs. We just have to persevere. Hopefully it will come our way. We’re trying our best but there’s no progress at this moment in time.
“I don’t have a gut feeling on it at the moment, I must admit. We’re not getting any breakthrough with Arsenal. It’s difficult to say why they’re operating this way. I don’t know what their thoughts are because they’re not giving anything away.”
This is just the kind of stubbornness that I have been waiting to see from Arsenal. No player is bigger than the club and clearly Wenger has decided that he has given in one time too many. Ever since Robin’s statement a month ago Arsenal fans have been resigned to losing our star player. I don’t think that any of us actually expected the club to put their foot down and say that enough is enough.
Bizarrely, Twitter is flooded with rumours that RvP has left Arsenal’s training camp in Germany and is on his way to negotiate a contract at Old Trafford with wage offer that would make him United’s joint highest earner with Wayne Rooney. How this could be possible if Ferguson has just said that Arsenal won’t budge I don’t know. Surely if Arsenal are refusing to negotiate with United then they wouldn’t allow him to skip pre-season training? The only way to know for sure if van Persie is still there is to have a look when Arsenal release more pre-season photos on the club website.
Given the signings of Lukas Podolski, Olivier Giroud and Santi Cazorla, I now remain hopeful that Wenger can see this through. If we can keep hold of van Persie (and obviously lose some of the deadweight like Bendtner) then we have probably had one of the most successful summers in Arsenal’s recent history. Wenger still isn’t done. There are one or two more decent signings to come. Mark my words: Arsenal are a force to be reckoned with this season.
Santi Cazorla’s arrival at Arsenal has sparked further discussion over the future of Robin van Persie, with many in the betting world claiming the north London club can now do without their star striker this season. Cazorla is manager Arsené Wenger’s third summer signing, with strikers Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud already new acquisitions at the Emirates.
While many have claimed Wenger is spending big money to match RVP’s trophy aspirations and keep him at the club, the pundits on Betfairare now suggesting the boss is building a new squad without van Persie in mind. Wenger has learned from mistakes made last summer, and is dipping into the transfer market relatively early by his standards.
A year ago, both Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri were on the verge of being sold for well over two months. Both players eventually moved on dangerously close to the summer transfer deadline, leaving Wenger to desperately scrabble around for midfield replacements. Although Mikel Arteta has done a commendable job in the centre of Arsenal’s midfield, he is by no means an adequate replacement for the pair who departed.
Arsenal suffered at the start of last season from squad disharmony and weakness in depth, which aided their 8-2 defeat to Manchester United, just three games in to last season. Wenger, having learned from this, has made his moves early this summer. His trio of new stars look set to run riot in the Premier League this season and, with Podolski capable of playing in the centre of a three-man attack, RVP’s place is now somewhat tenable.
Of course, Arsenal will still hold out for the right price for their Dutch superstar, but losing van Persie should by no means be the end of their title ambitions this season or in years to come.
Speaking in a press conference following Manchester City’s 4-0 win over Limerick (No, me neither…), Roberto Mancini has all but confirmed that the Blues are out of the race to sign Robin van Persie, leading to increasing speculation that our star striker will join Manchester United.
The main reason that City will not sign van Persie this summer is because they don’t have any room in the team. Eden Dzeko is looking increasingly likely to stay at Eastlands, meaning that Mancini has 4 fantastic strikers (Tevez, Aguero, Balotelli, Dzeko) to juggle around. As the Italian points out, sitting on the bench is pretty boring and van Persie would have a lot of competition at City. A player of Robin’s quality and in such fantastic form needs to be playing pretty much every game, not sitting on the bench in Manchester.
When asked about interest from AC Milan and Juventus in Dzeko and about the van Persie situation, Mancini replied:
“I’m pleased, as this means we have good players, but it’s pretty unlikely he [Dzeko] will leave.
“He is right to say it’s no fun being on the bench, but when you join a big club then competition is normal.
“Van Persie? No, I don’t think he will come here.”
Now that City have taken a step back, the only option of RvP appears to be Manchester United. Juventus have already distanced themselves from our captain, and the suggestion in the British Media is that he will sign for United at some point this week for a fee of around £20 million. Sir Alex apparently chose to stay in Manchester rather than travel with United for their pre-season friendly in Norway because he wanted to finalize some transfers, although this could equally apply to the £30 million signing of Lucas Moura.
Juve are out, City are out, but United just doesn’t sit quite right for me. I am leaning increasingly towards thinking that RvP will still be an Arsenal player next season, but I couldn’t tell you why. Maybe I am just being slightly naïve/optimistic.
Yesterday Straight Talking Gooners published a poll in which we asked Arsenal fans what they thought Robin van Persie would do given that Arsenal have made (/are making) a number of excellent summer signings and investing in the squad. None of our regular first-team players have left and the team is looking in great shape, but only a month ago van Persie stated that he will not sign a contract extension and intends to leave.
After more than 1,100 votes it has become clear that many Gooners still think that our captain will leave for more money, regardless of the signings that we have made. In this case, any new signings would not have made the blindest bit of difference; he has already made up his mind and is definitely leaving. The big question is whether Arsenal would accept a lower transfer fee in order to not sell to our rivals. Juventus have apparently offered van Persie a very large sum of money, but are left with less to offer Arsenal as a transfer fee.
Close behind were the Arsenal fans who thought that van Persie’s statement in July was simply designed to force Arsène Wenger into spending some money. If this is the case, then you could argue that van Persie’s plan worked. However, I think that this is very unlikely.
In third place were the slightly more optimistic fans who think that he may have changed his mind now that he has seen our new-look team. If he was intending to leave, maybe the signings of Cazorla and Sahin (both of which should be confirmed next week) will have made him think otherwise.
Tied in third place were those who think that van Persie will stay, but only because he does not have any other options available. There are rumours that Juventus are now cooling their interest, while Manchester City still have 4 world-class strikers on their books. In this case Manchester United would be the only viable option, but I do not think that their interest is as genuine as Fergie suggests.
Only a very small percentage of those who took the poll thought that RvP will leave because he wants to win some silverware. There are many more fans who think that his actions this summer are financially motivated. Of course, this is all very speculative. Only van Persie (and arguably his agent/representatives) actually know what is going on and why he released that ill-timed and slightly unnecessary statement last month. He would have been better advised to wait until Arsenal had made some moves in the transfer market. That is, of course, if Arsenal’s summer transfer were ever going to influence his actions in the first place.
Roberto Mancini has insisted that he is not in charge of transfers amid numerous reports that club officials have moved to block an attempt to sign Robin van Persie.
Only a few hours before the London Olympics opening ceremony tomorrow evening, Arsenal face Manchester City in a pre-season friendly at the Bird’s Nest Olympic stadium in Beijing, with van Persie the obvious hot-topic for discussion at the pre-match press conference.
When asked whether he was worried at City’s slow progress in this summer’s transfer market, Mancini replied:
“For this question, speak to the man in charge. I am not in charge of this.
“It is important [to get players quickly] because, after what we did last year, it is important we continue to win. This year will not be easy. It will be harder than last year and for this reason, we need to improve our team.
“I am not the man in charge of this. We have a man who works for this and we hope that they can do a good job.”
The unnamed person in charge is apparently football director Brian Marwood, who has reportedly told Mancini that the club must offload some of their high-earning players before they bring any new players in (which would make sense). The problem City have is that none of the other clubs want to match their ridiculous wages, so they are a little bit stuck.
Pressed for further details about where he stood with the transfer of van Persie, Mancini was tight-lipped and very quick to make reference to the four world-class strikers he has available at City.
“It is difficult to say this at this moment because he is an Arsenal player and he is not our player.
“We know that Van Persie is a fantastic striker, but we have four strikers and with these strikers we won the Championship last year.
“But still, Van Persie is a top player. We can say different things about this – but he is an Arsenal player.”
Having too many world-class strikers is not something that most managers normally have to worry about. The big question is whether Eden Dzeko will finalise a move to Juventus, paving the way for our captain to move half way across the country. I can’t say that I would be particularly pleased if van Persie were to move to another Premier League club, but I still have to concede that it is looking quite likely.
Despite the fact that Juventus are seemingly leading the chase, Twitter is buzzing with rumours that Barcelona are preparing to offer David Villa to Arsenal as part of a cash + player exchange deal in an attempt to hijack a move for Robin van Persie.
Reports in Spainover the last few days suggest that Barca are looking to sell Villa in order to finance a move for our captain. However, it is now thought that they may attempt to cut out the middle step by offering the the Spaniard (along with £13 million) directly to Arsenal. Arsène Wenger has been linked with a move for Spaniard in the past; it was reported last year that Villa turned down the opportunity to play for Arsenal before he moved to Barcelona in 2010. Below, however, I will outline several problems with this potential transfer:
1) Twitter is a notoriously unreliable source of information. News on Barca selling Villa to fund a move for RvP is in the newspapers, but there is very little to suggest that Villa will be offered to Arsenal.
2) Villa’s time at the Nou Camp has been hugely disrupted by a series of injuries, so he has not really shown his true potential over the last two seasons. The 30-year-old broke his tibia at the Club World Cup in December, but is nearing a return to full fitness. In my opinion, herein lies the main problem. Arsenal would be trading one injury-prone striker for another, slightly older striker who has not played a competitive match for more than 6 months. An in-form David Villa is a pleasure to watch, but he is definitely not a viable long-term replacement for RvP.
3) As mentioned above, Villa is 30 years old. It is very rare that Arsène Wenger will offer long-term contracts to players who are past their prime and it makes no sense to replace our captain with somebody who is 2 years older.
4) Arsenal will not pay his wages. Unless Villa is willing to take a serious pay-cut, there is very little chance that he will reach an agreement to move to North London.
As far as I am concerned, Robin should be allowed to leave. The Dutchman averaged 22 Premier League appearances per season in his first 7 years at Arsenal because he was always out with some ridiculous injury. One fantastic season does not give him the right to dictate what goes on at the club; Arsenal is bigger than one player and we will learn to move forward without him.
Podolski and Giroud are good signings, but there is no doubt that we will have to sign another striker to replace van Persie. Villa’s record speaks for itself. He is the Spain’s all-time top goalscorer (with 51 goals in 82 games) and has scored 130 La Liga goals since he joined Valencia in 2005 (an average of 18 a season). However, I do not think that he is the right man for Arsenal. Robert Lewandowski is just one of the players who could be a much better alternative.
In a statement on his personal website, Robin van Persie has confirmed that he will not be signing a contract extension with Arsenal. The early signing of Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud are apparently not enough to convince Robin that Arsenal can mount a credible title challenge; van Persie and Wenger have been unable to agree on how the club should move forward and our captain will probably leave North London within the next two months.
“This is an update for the fans about my current situation. I have kept quiet all this time out of respect and loyalty for the club and as agreed with Mr. Gazidis and Mr. Wenger, but since there is so much speculation in the media, I think it is fair for you guys to know what’s really going on at the moment.
“As announced earlier this year I had a meeting with the Boss and Mr. Gazidis after the season. This was a meeting about the club’s future strategy and their policy. Financial terms or a contract have not been discussed, since that is not my priority at all.
“I personally have had a great season but my goal has been to win trophies with the team and to bring the club back to its glory days. Out of my huge respect for Mr. Wenger, the players and the fans I don’t want to go into any details, but unfortunately in this meeting it has again become clear to me that we in many aspects disagree on the way Arsenal FC should move forward.
“I’ve thought long and hard about it, but I have decided not to extend my contract. You guys, the fans, have of course the right to disagree with my view and decision and I will always respect your opinions.
“I love the club and the fans, no matter what happens. I have grown up and became a man during my time with Arsenal FC. Everybody at the club and the fans have always supported me over the years and I have always given my all (and more) on and off the pitch. I am very proud of being part of this fantastic club for the last 8 years.
“As soon as Mr. Gazidis is back from his 2-week holiday in America further meetings will follow and I will update you if and when there are more developments.”
Robin van Persie
If, as is being reported, the club had no idea Robin was releasing a statement then I am hugely disappointed that a player I used to respect has gone about this in such a discourteous manner. Releasing this statement at this point was an extremely ill-advised move; his lawyers and agents should have advised him to hold off on any decisions until mid august. He should wait to see who else Arsenal bring in over the summer and how he feels after the team have got together for pre-season training. Instead, he has discredited himself with the Arsenal fans and, in my opinion, there is simply no turning back.
Photo by RonMac on Flickr
I don’t doubt that Robin will continue to assure us that he has made this decision for “footballing reasons”. However, I am also pretty confident that those footballing reasons come with a significantly improved contract. How much any financial benefits will have influenced his decision only he will know. I just hope that he is leaving Arsenal for the right reasons.
Surely the one thing that both Wenger and Van Persie have agreed on is that the club cannot move forward if our best players keep leaving. By deciding not to extend his contract, Robin has just made everything whole lot worse.
For those of you who are intent on blaming Wenger, I would argue that it is not a question of Wenger letting these players leave. Players and agents have too much power and able to manipulate these situations very easily. Contracts and loyalty mean very little nowadays.
This news has spawned a series of articles that suggest that Van Persie could be on his way to be Spurs. May I be the first to say that this is a load of shit. Back in the real world, the most likely destinations are Real Madrid or Juventus.
In an article that he has written for The Sun (I have no idea why our captain has written an article for The Sun, but I guess it’s not really worth dwelling on…), Robin van Persie has written about his favorite goal of all time and about the importance of this afternoon’s game against Manchester City.
What is particularly interesting about this article is not only the fact that the chosen goal happens his first goal for the club (rather than some of the more spectacular goals that he has scored), but also that you really get a feeling that he truly loves the club.
That Robin’s favorite goal happens to be against Manchester City is a coincidence, but that could also explain the timing of the article. I have embedded a video (below) in which you will also spot a very young Cesc Fabregas and a Mathieu Flamini who still had a few years remaining on his contract.
“I will never forget how I scored my favourite goal of all time against Manchester City.
“It was October 27, 2004 and it was a pretty easy one, only a tap-in during a Carling Cup tie at City.
“But, for me, it is more important than the very best goals I have ever scored before or since, because it was my first goal in English football, the one that launched my career here. That goal against City was where it all started for me, the strike that kick-started my career here.
“City was only my sixth appearance and I remember the moment so well. Mathieu Flamini squared me the pass and I just finished it all off.
“Eight years on, I’ve scored over 100 goals and I’m proud of every one of them. But that goal still means the world to me. It was a huge, huge moment for me, for my career.
Robin then went on to talk about the importance of Champions League qualification and gave what I think is another indication that he will sign a new contract with Arsenal. Van Persie is giving his all to the club and I think that it would be very hard for a player to be this committed to the club if he knows that there are only 6 or 7 games left before he is planning on leaving. He has everything he could possibly want in North London; the team is looking fantastic, automatic Champions League qualification is well within our reach, and Wenger has suggested that there will be a few big names (including a new striker) joining in the summer so that we can push for trophies next season. I am also more than sure that any new contract offered to him at the end of the season will include a significant pay rise.
“Facing City this afternoon is without doubt our biggest game of the season. Because the difference between success and failure is so vitally important to both teams.
“OK, it might not be about the title race for me or Arsenal but we need to concentrate on securing that third place which won’t bring us a trophy but will land us a big prize – automatic qualification for the Champions League next season to maintain Arsenal’s proud history in the competition.
“The added bonus is we would finish above Spurs and Chelsea. The title might go to Manchester but at least we will be the pride of London.
“It’s do or die now for both of us which is why this game should be so spectacular.
“We will do everything in our power to win and take a huge step towards direct Champions League qualification.