British long-distance runner Mo Farah has completed a fantastic Olympics for Arsenal fans with his second gold medal of the competition, this time in the 5,000 metres. A week ago Mo won the 10,000 metres on “Super Saturday”, but I don’t think that I was the only one who knew that he wasn’t quite finished.
Farah won with a time of 13 minutes 44 seconds, becoming only the sixth member of an elite group of athletes who have won both long distance events at the same Olympics.
Twitter is full of congratulatory messages from Arsenal fans, including a few who have suggested that Arsenal should erect a statue of Farah holding his two gold medals outside the Emirates Stadium. This is obviously hugely unlikely; the statues should be reserved for former Arsenal players and managers only, and there are a number of other players who deserve statues. I do think, however, that there is a possibility that he will be invited to parade around the stadium before the opening game of the 2012/13 season against Sunderland.
In other news, Arsenal will play their final pre-season friendly tomorrow away to FC Koln. The Gunners have been at a training-camp in Germany all week, with a squad that includes newcomers Olivier Giroud, Lukas Podolski and Santi Cazorla. The squad also contains Laurent Koscielny, Robin van Persie and Per Mertesacker, none of whom have yet featured for Arsenal in this pre-season. Tomas Vermaelen has captained Arsenal in our previous pre-season games so it will be interesting to see if Wenger continues with this or reverts to RvP as captain. There were rumours on Twitter earlier in the week that the Dutchman had left the training camp to negotiate a deal with Manchester United, although these have been proved to be incorrect.
The match kicks off at 4pm BST and is being shown on both ESPN and Arsenal Player. Wenger’s team choice will be particularly telling as it could indicate who will start next week against Sunderland.
Below I have embedded a video of Robin van Persie’s goal for the Netherlands in their 2-1 loss against Germany on Wednesday evening.
Despite being one of the favorites to win Euro 2012, The Netherlands are hanging on for dear life. Holland lost 2-1 to Germany and currently sit bottom of Group B (the so-called “Group of Death”) with 0 points from their opening 2 games; Bert van Marwijk’s side lost 1-0 to Denmark in their opening game of the Euro 2012 finals.
All four teams in Group B (Netherlands, Germany, Portugal and Denmark) were in the top 10 of the FIFA World Rankings at the start of the tournament.
The Oranje have to win against Portugal on Sunday and hope that Germany beat Denmark just to be with a chance of proceeding, and even then it will come down to goal difference.
Given his fantastic form in the Premier League, I am sure that I am not the only person to have bet on RvP to be top goalscorer at the Euros. However, van Persie does not particularly good record in international competitions (his disastrous game against Denmark provides possibly one of the best examples). The fact that Holland could be out in a games time hardly helps. Luckily for me, I also put money on Mario Gomez.
I saw this video from our win on the weekend on youtube and thought I would share it with my fellow Gooners. It’s the 82nd minute, we are 5-2 up, and our captain decides to show off his skills by retaining possession ball despite a lot of pressure from the Sp*rs players. He even includes a little roulette around Scott Parker at the beginning.
Many reports are emerging which suggest that Arsenal are preparing themselves from a significant bid from Barcelona for Robin van Persie, following a long-term injury to David Villa.
Villa fractured his left tibia yesterday during a match against Al-Sadd in the semi-final of the FIFA World Club Cup tournament in Yokohama, and is expected to spend anywhere from 4-6 months on the sidelines. Villa’s injury, coupled with van Persie’s being in fantastic form and having only 18 months left on his contract, have now led to even more suggestions that Barcelona will look to bring our captain to the Nou Camp in January.
Despite all the media speculation about his future, I am inclined to argue that Barcelona do not need RvP regardless of any injury to Villa; I am not the only person who will notice that their team is not short of fantastic players with an attacking mindset. The Catalan giants have Pedro (who can play as a target man if necessary), Alexis Sanchez (who they bought from Udinese for £20m in the summer) waiting for more game-time, and Cesc Fabregas providing goals from midfield, not to mention Lionel Messi on 27 goals already this season.
However, I fully expect to see bids from Real Madrid and AC Milan in January, so lets just hope that Wenger does enough to fend them off. Call me delusional, but I still remain hopeful that RvP will sign a new contract with Arsenal at the end of the season. As long as Wenger offers him a lucrative deal, which would require a slight restructuring of the club’s ridiculous current wage system, then I think he would seriously consider seeing out the rest of his career at Arsenal. The team is looking very strong and can really push for a major trophy this season if the players put their minds to it. RvP is the player to lead our team to success.
Robin van Persie is shortlisted for the FIFPro World XI 2011, with the final team being revealed at the FIFA Ballon d’Or in Zurich in January.
RvP is one of 18 Premier League players who have been shortlisted and will be competing for one of the two (or three depending on the formation) places available in the team for strikers. There are 15 strikers included in the shortlist, but you would imagine that it is almost impossible to knock Lionel Messi and Christiano off their pedestal.
The nominees were voted on by the 50,000 professional footballers that are members of the players’ unions across the world that combine to form FIFPro.
There are 18 Premier League players on the 55-man shortlist, but La Liga (22 players) has dominated the nominations. Barcelona have 11 players on the shortlist, including their midfield trio of Xavi, Iniesta and Cesc Fabregas.
Only one Arsenal player has ever been included in the team in the six years that it has been running. Thierry Henry was part of a strike force that included Samuel Eto’o and Ronaldinho back in 2006.
RvP will not feature this evening against Olympiacos, having been left out of Arsène Wenger’s 18-man squad that travelled to Greece yesterday afternoon. We have already qualified for the Champions League with a game to spare, so our captain has been given a well-deserved rest.
Arsenal are being linked Loic Remy, who was thought to be on Arsène Wenger’s radar 2 years ago before he joined Marseille.
Wenger needs to sign a new striker in January to boost our attacking options and relieve some of the pressure on Robin van Persie. As things stand, we are very limited up front and suffer when RvP needs to be rested. An example of this could be seen last night in the game against Manchester City. We simply don’t look like scoring when Maroune Chamakh is on the pitch, and Park Chu Young is yet to set the Premier League on fire in the way that Wenger suggested.
Remy moved to L’OM from Nice in August 2010 for a fee reported to be somewhere in the region of €15 million, signing a 5-year contract. He had also been linked with a move to the Premier League, but it is unknown whether Arsenal or Liverpool ever actually contacted Nice to enquire about his availability.
His goal-scoring record is not unbelievable, but 18 goals in 46 games for Marseille last season is decent enough to convince me that he is at least worth a shot. He has played for a few seasons in the Champions League and is a member of the French national team, so the experience is all there. Like Chamakh, he offers a significant ariel threat and physical presence up-front, which potentially make him an ideal striking partner for RvP should Wenger finally decide to switch back to a 4-4-2 formation.
If we do, as I expect, continue with a 4-3-3 formation, we need to buy a slightly cheaper but effective striker to use in games where rvp needs to be rested, not somebody who will force our captain out of the team. A striker in the Eduardo mould would be perfect (If only he hadn’t broken his leg…).
Last season Remy made comments which suggest that a move to Arsenal isn’t impossible. He is a fan of the club, and see’s it as the perfect place to develop.
“I really take pleasure in watching them play. It is an ideal place to continue to progress.
“You never know in football what will happen. But Arsenal are a club that make me feel desire.”
In an effort to relieve the pressure on Robin van Persie, Arsène Wenger has been linked with a move for Valencia captain Roberto Soldado.
It is believed that Wenger has sent scouts to watch the 26-year-old, who has scored 13 goals in 17 appearances this season.
Nicklas Bendtner and Carlos Vela are on loan, Maroune Chamakh is simply not good enough, and Park Chu Young barely plays, leaving us very short of striking options. More often than not, van Persie has been forced to play as a lone striker this season.
Bendtner and Chamakh are expected to be offloaded within the near future. The Moroccan may be sold in January, with PSG looking like the most likely suitors, while Bendtner (who is on a season-long loan at Sunderland) has vowed never to play for Arsenal again.
Soldado joined Valencia from Getafe in the June 2010 as a replacement for David Villa (who had left for Barcelona), and has scored an impressive 38 goals in 61 appearances for the club. However, Valencia remain in financial trouble and may still need to sell some of their best players in order to keep their financial accounts in order. David Villa and David Silva are just two of the fantastic players who left the club due to their difficult financial situation.
Soldado will definitely have my attention in 10 days time, as Valencia travel to London to face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. The Spaniard remains confident that his team can produce a result that would knock Chelsea out of this seasons Champions League.
The fee that has been suggested is somewhere in the region £15 million, although I think that this would be an absolute bargain for a player of his calibre. In my opinion, a valuation of £20-25 million is much more realistic. However, any transfer is unlikely to happen in January. Soldado is in fantastic form and will want to see out the season with Valencia, and would potentially also wait to see if we definitely qualify for next seasons Champions League.
1) We have qualified for the Champions League knockout round for a 12th consecutive season.
We are thus far the only English club to go through to the last 16 of the competition, having topped the group and with one game spare. Neither Chelsea or United are guaranteed a place in the last 16, while Manchester City must rely on the other result going their way to progress (proof, if any, that the Champions League is about experience, not how much money you have spent).
We can now afford to rest some of our key players against Olympiacos in 2 weeks time.
2)A top-4 finish in the Premier League looks to be well within out reach. We have won 5 of our last 6 league games, and 13 of our last 15 in all competitions since the hideous loss to Manchester United. Ignoring our poor start to the season, these statistics are hardly those of a club in “crisis”.
Only Spurs and City have better form than us in the league. As far as I am concerned, City can be ignored; Although European success is difficult, apparently buying the Premier League is a lot easier. I also highly doubt that Spurs can keep up the pace of their start to the season. We have never finished below them in the Premier League, and we are not going to start now.
3) Robin van Persie could still sign a new contract. RvP has said numerous times that he will consider his Arsenal future at the end of the season. Call me delusional, but I still think that he will stay. He has everything that he needs at Arsenal. With a few tweaks to the squad in January and the summer, I see no reason why we can’t challenge for trophies next season, if not this season.
Using Fabregas as an indicator that RvP will leave is wrong. Cesc was always destined to return to Barcelona at some point, but RvP has the opportunity to lead a new-look Arsenal team that has the potential to become world beaters.
*Wenger could even surprise us by changing his wage policy in order to accomodate world-class players like RvP (although this is highly unlikely).
Following his fantastic performance against Chelsea yesterday (during which he scored only his second career hat-trick), Robin van Persie is now the leading goalscorer in the Premier League with 10 goals in 10 games.
RvP looks set to fight it out for the Premier League Golden Boot with Wayne Rooney, Eden Dzeko and Sergio Aguero – all of whom have been in very strong form this season.
Van Persie has scored 28 goals in 27 Premier League games in 2011 – a year which has also seen him set a new record for scoring in 9 consecutive away games and equal Theirry Henry’s record of scoring 18 goals between the turn of the year and the end of the season. He has now picked up the Golden Boot Landmark Award for being the first player in the 2011/12 season to reach 10 league goals and will no doubt continue to fight for the Golden Boot as long as he can stay fit.
The statistics seem to suggest that Eden Dzeko is currently the most efficient striker, although I would be very surprised if he can keep up this form for the duration of the season. Dzeko seems to be playing an increasingly important role in the City team this season, most probably due to the reduced role of Carlos Tevez, but will almost definitely lose out to Aguero and Mario Balotelli in the long-run.
There is a reason that Aguero cost Manchester City £35 million. He scored 102 goals in 5 seasons at Athletico Madrid and is already on 10 in 11 games for City. The most important factor in Aguero’s success is his supply. With Silva, Samir Nasri and James Milner, City are hardly lacking in creativity and I expect that he will continue to play as Mancini’s no.1 striker for the season.
Wayne Rooney needs no introduction. He is always right up there at the end of the season, although he has never actually won the Golden Boot. He scored 26 Premier League goals in 2009/10, but still fell short of the 29 goals scored by Didier Drogba. He looks like he is hitting peak form and is always a force to be reckoned with.
Thomas Vermaelen resumed full training yesterday following two months sidelined with an achilles injury, and could be included in the squad to face Bolton. Should he make it through the game unscathed, there is the possibility that he will travel to Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
“He is back in full training again, he is alright now.”
Kieran Gibbs, Carl Jenkinson & Abou Diaby
Abou Diaby is expected to return to full training within the next few days, whilst Kieran Gibbs (stomach muscle strain) and Carl Jenkinson (knee) are both suffering from short-term injuries. Diaby had ankle surgery in July and will not be rushed back unnecessarily, and both Jenkinson and Gibbs also look set to miss the Chelsea game.
“It looks unlikely that they will be available for the Chelsea game.”
Robin van Persie
Robin van Persie started on the bench in our 3-1 win over Stoke at the weekend as a precautionary measure. As Wenger revealed after the game, RvP is suffering from very minor hamstring strain (muscular tightness) and is likely to be rested against Bolton; We need him back at full fitness to face Chelsea.
“He [RvP] had muscular tightness, I was not even sure he would be on the team sheet [for the Stoke game] but we checked him this morning and he was medically all right to be on the bench.
“The medical team did very well to get him on the bench. They did so well that he got us two goals so I don’t know whether we should give the goals to Van Persie or the medical team!”
Jack Wilshere is progressing well in his rehabilitation following ankle surgery last month. Wilshere has not yet made an Arsenal appearance this season and is not expected to be back until February, but Wenger’s comments are at least slightly encouraging.
”Everything is going to plan. The next steps will be to have a scan but he is on track.”