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Play Fantasy Arsene Wenger: Pick your first team to face Stuttgart

Tomorrow night marks Arsenal's first major test of the pre-season when Arsene Wenger's men face Jens Lehmann's new club, Stuttgart.

If Le Gaffer has decided to strip William Gallas of the captain's armband we'll probably find out when the teams take to the pitch tomorrow, while we might also get a clue as to what the Gunners' formation will be this season.

Another issue that might be resolved is Emmanuel Adebayor's future. If the Togo striker is intent on leaving Arsenal, it's unlikely that Le Boss will pick him for the Stuttgart game.

A friendly the game may be, but the true build up to the season starts tomorrow and Wenger will be wanting to gauge the fitness of his strongest 11.

But just who is our strongest line up now, following the departures of Alexander Hleb, Mathieu Flamini and Gilberto?


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Posted by Gordon Masson on July 29, 2008 9:44 AM in Debate of the Day
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Young Guns to look out for at Arsenal next season

It's no secret that Arsenal field the youngest team in the Premier League, but according to insiders, the current crop of youth and reserve players are the best the club has ever had and we could start to see some of them breaking into the first team squad this season.

We've already seen a fair bit of Lukasz Fabianski and Armand Traore, while we've had tantalising glimpses of Henri Lansbury, Kieran Gibbs and Mark Randall, but there are a whole slew of other players that are just waiting for their chance, aside from new signings Luke Freeman, Carlos Vela and Aaron Ramsey.

Unfortunately, unless there are some injuries to current first team regulars, it's unlikely we'll see too much of the emerging teenage talent this season. But as usual the Carling Cup will give us an idea of who we can expect to be pushing for places in a couple of years time.

Gibbs and Randall were loaned out last season and should have benefitted from that experience, while Jay Simpson comes back to the club having been voted PFA PLayer of the Year in League One for his stint at Millwall.

Kerrea Gilbert has already been loaned out to Leicester for the season, having been at Cardiff last year, and I think we'll hear about more loan deals in the days ahead as Arsene Wenger and his coaching staff aim to develop their young stars.

So who are the names to look for in the season ahead...?


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Posted by Gordon Masson on July 28, 2008 8:36 AM in Players
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Who do you want Arsenal's first choice strikers to be?

As you can see from the above poll, I've given you the choice of every possible permutation for the existing strikers in our first team squad, so you can have your say in who should partner who up front for the Gunners this season.

I've left in Emmanuel Adebayor because there's still no definite news on whether he's departing or not, but even if you were to take Manu out of the equation, if our forwards can avoid injury then the options open to Arsene Wenger are pretty sweet.

Personally I think the Adebayor and Eduardo partnership worked best last season, as Eduardo was responsible for the Togolese striker hitting his richest seam of form and it was noticeable how much Ade-cool's goal ratio eased off when the Crozilian's season was so cruelly ended...


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Posted by Gordon Masson on July 22, 2008 9:17 AM in Poll
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Play Fantasy Arsene Wenger: Pick your first team to face Barnet

We're just a few weeks away from the start of the new season and Arsenal's preparations for the next campaign ease into gear on Saturday when the Gunners take on Barnet at Underhill.

The occasion was used last year by Arsene Wenger to introduce Eduardo to the fans, albeit dressed in civvies on the bench, but this year it looks as though those making their way to north London may get the chance to see at least one new signing.

Aaron Ramsey is included in the squad for the game, but fellow summer signing Samir Nasri is not, so us Gooners will have to content ourselves with a sneak peak at the former Cardiff midfielder.

More exciting than that is the prospect of Carlos Vela getting his first game in an Arsenal shirt. That, my friends, is worth the admission money alone...


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Posted by Gordon Masson on July 16, 2008 4:05 PM in Players
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Should Arsenal break their transfer record on Gareth Barry?

Having read that headline back to myself, my automatic reaction is 'No'.

I get frustrated as the next Gooner about Arsene Wenger's frugal transfer policies, but I must admit I also love it when his bargain buys turn into world class players.

A £20 million player coming to Arsenal would be a great shot in the arm for us fans, as it would break the club's transfer record and show that we're capable of competing with the other European giants, but if Le Gaffer was to spend that kind of cash, I'd want the incoming player to be an absolute superstar.

Don't get me wrong, Gareth Barry is a terrific player, but a superstar he is not.

Supposedly, Liverpool have had a £15 million bid for Barry knocked back by his current club Aston Villa, who reportedly want £17 million plus Steve Finnan.

But Villa manager Martin O'Neill now claims that Arsenal assistant manager Pat Rice has enquired about the 27-year-old midfielder, which could push his price higher.

Personally I'm hoping that this is a tactic by Le Gaffer to push up Barry's price so that Arsenal can bid for another target - David Villa, perhaps - knowing that Liverpool's budget is stretched.

And there are two major reasons why I can't see Barry in an Arsenal strip next season: firstly, Arsene Wenger very rarely buys players from another Premier League club, simply because the prices are too high; and secondly, I just don't see what Gareth Barry could add to the current Arsenal squad because we have a wealth of talent in midfield.

Anyway, you might completely disagree with me, so if you have an opinion on this transfer rumour, feel free to share it using our comments section below.

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Posted by Gordon Masson on July 15, 2008 9:41 AM in Transfers
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With Samir Nasri signed, where should Arsenal look to strengthen next?

Another weekend, another slew of stories about this closed season's trio of tabloid favourites - Emmanuel Adebayor, Alexander Hleb and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Of course nothing happened over the weekend, but in the minds of the sports hacks we're another 48 hours closer to three of the most talented players in the Premier League departing for Spain. Or Italy.

Back in the real world, I enjoyed lunch just around the corner from Highbury Stadium yesterday and was delighted to see a youngster wearing the new Arsenal strip with the number 8 and "Nasri" on the back of his shirt.

Meanwhile, the talk among the Arsenal faithful over lunch was who Arsene Wenger might be looking to sign next, or more to the point, which position on the pitch he believes the Gunners need to strengthen.

For me, it's a simple answer - centre back. But I'm going to put it to the test to see what you lot think. I've given you a bunch of options; everything except left and right back, where I think it would be difficult to improve, so vote away and be sure to back up your thoughts with any comments if you feel the need.

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Posted by Gordon Masson on July 14, 2008 9:20 AM in Transfers
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Samir Nasri finally becomes an Arsenal player

French international midfielder Samir Nasri has finally become an Arsenal player, the club announced this morning. Financial terms were not disclosed, but the club says it is a long term deal and Samir will wear the number 8 shirt.

The 21-year-old has been involved in negotiations with the Gunners for several weeks and his former club, Olympique Marseille, confirmed the deal some time ago, but us Gooners know that we shouldn't get too excited until the club makes a statement.

But the talented attacking midfielder will join his new team mates on their pre-season trip to Austria on July 21st, when the likes of Cesc Fabregas, William Gallas and Emmanuel Adebayor are also set to end their summer holidays.

Nasri won the French Ligue 1 Young Player of the Year title last summer and although he already has a dozen caps for France there is obviously a lot of room to improve his game, so I expect Arsene Wenger to develop him into yet another midfield general.

Nasri's arrival more than paves the way for Le Gaffer to release Alexander Hleb, probably to Barcelona, and while I'll be sorry to see the Belarussian go, the way in which he and his agent have conducted themselves proves to me that he isn't in the Arsenal mould, so I won't shed too many tears...


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Posted by Gordon Masson on July 11, 2008 9:54 AM in Transfers
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