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Should Arsene Wenger battle to hang on to Adebayor?

I have a really simple poll for you today.

Following the ludicrous statements that have been coming out of Emmanuel Adebayor's mouth in the past few days, I've heard a lot of talk among fellow Gooners about what they think of the Togolese striker.

Some fans think he's playing a crafty game to squeeze a bit more out of Arsenal for his wages. Others think he's being a typical greedy player who is ready to dump the club that have helped make him the player he is just to jump ship to a team whose owners pay silly money to players who quite often don't get a game.

For those of you who haven't kept up to date with Ade-cool's words of wisdom, he held a press conference the other day to state that he's happy as an Arsenal player and he wants to stay. However, just a few hours later he was telling journalists that he hadn't made a decision on whether to stay, but that he'd make up his mind next week, with bids from AC Milan and Barcelona expected for the striker.

I'm resisting the temptation to lay into him purely because the 30 goals he netted for the Gunners last season was the most any Arsenal player has had in a single campaign for three years. Undoubtedly he has become an important player for the Gunners, but as we've seen in the past, no player is bigger than the club and I can't see Arsene Wenger being too happy about the mixed signals coming from the 24-year-old.

So should Arsene accept a £20 million-plus bid for the African forward? Should Le Gaffer agree to a pay rise and fight to keep Manu at Emirates Stadium? Or perhaps you're just beyond caring. Vote now or forever hold your peace

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Posted by Gordon Masson on July 1, 2008 10:12 AM in Debate of the Day| Poll
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Should Champion Cesc be made Arsenal skipper?

The Euro 2008 championships are over, Cesc Fabregas has collected his winner's mendal and all of Arsenal's players are now enjoying their holidays before being recalled by the club over the course of the next few weeks.

There are 19 days until the Gunners' first pre-season game against Barnet, but in keeping with his managerial style Arsene Wenger will probably allow Cesc and others who played in the Euro tournament to return to duty a little later to give them a well-earned rest.

However, as the Arsenal squad fly out to Austria and Hungary for pre-season preparations immediately after the Barnet clash, all the players should be back in training my then and hopefully there will be a number of new faces for them to welcome to the Arsenal family.

I'd expect the agents of Spanish and German players will be very busy fielding offers now that the Euros are over and with any luck Le Gaffer will be in advanced negotiations on some fresh talent for the Gunners, as us lowly fans could certainly do with a bit of a boost.

And in the meantime, it would be good to see Cesc's loyalty and professionalism rewarded by Arsene announcing his election as captain for next season, thus making him the club's youngest ever skipper. The 21-year-old proved himself to be an inspirational leader for Spain's midfield during the past three weeks and giving him the armband at Emirates Stadium would not only be a fitting tribute, but it could also help secure his services for many years to come - something that every Gooner would welcome.

What do you reckon? Should Cesc be promoted as Arsenal's on-field leader? Or is it too early to give Fabregas such responsibility? Share your comments here

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Posted by Gordon Masson on June 30, 2008 10:10 AM in Debate of the Day
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Fabregas v Lehmann: who will win Euro 2008?

Cesc Fabregas last night staked his claim as the player of the tournament when he came off the bench to inspire Spain to a 3-0 victory over Russia in the second semi final of Euro 2008.

Spain's win sets up an intriguing final with Germany on Sunday, when Fabregas will face his old team mate Jens Lehmann in the Bundesgoal. Lehmann doesn't officially join new team Stuttgart until next Tuesday so technically Arsenal have two players in the final, while if the newspapers are to be believed, there could be as many as six others among the finalists - Spain's David Villa, David Silva, Raul Albiol and Dani Guiza and Germany's Lukas Podolski and Torsten Frings.

Of course, Cesc's star turn last night will undoubtedly see him linked yet again with a move back to his homeland, so it was heartening to hear that he'd publicly spoken out against his childhood club Barcelona for the "disrespectful"way in which they have been courting his Gunner team mates Alexander Hleb and Emmanuel Adebayor.

Another Cesc Fabregas show on Sunday will have the Spanish giants reaching for their special cheque book, but the 21-year-old seems extremely happy learning his trade under Arsene Wenger, so thankfully for us Gooners, it doesn't look like Fab 4 will be thinking of leaving any time soon. Indeed, he could prove to be a great asset in attracting his national compatriots into considering a move to Arsenal.

As for his battle against Lehmann's Germany on Sunday, I hope that the more entertaining nation wins. That'll be Spain then. And if Cesc can help drive his country to its first major trophy in 44 years, then maybe my one-man campaign to see him given the Arsenal captaincy will finally gain some momentum.

What do you think? Will Spain's flowing football sweep aside Germany or will the more experienced campaigners prevail on Sunday? Share your comments here

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Posted by Gordon Masson on June 27, 2008 10:21 AM in Players
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Would you welcome Peter Crouch to Arsenal?

As transfer rumours go, then this is one of the wackiest I've seen this summer, with a number of newspapers today suggesting that Arsene Wenger is considering a move for Peter Crouch to replace striker Emmanuel Adebayor.

Variously nicknamed as the Stepladder or the Climbing Frame, the 6ft 7 in (that's 2.01 metres for all you metric people) striker may appear ungainly, but there's no doubt he's effective, as he's has been a thorn in Arsenal's side in the past, notably with his hat trick against the Gunners at Anfield in March last year.

In saying that, I'd be astonished if Le Gaffer was seriously looking to sign Crouch as the 27-year-old doesn't exactly fit the Gunners' style of play, although as a desperate measure, having him come off the bench to try to convert some of Gael Clichy or Bacary Sagna's crosses might appeal to Wenger.

The speculation about Crouch becoming an Arsenal player is down to one man - agent Vincenzo Morabito, who said on Italian TV that Wenger was looking at a number of possible replacements for Emmanuel Adebayor, including Blackburn striker Roque Santa Cruz, Germany forward Mario Gomez and Crouch.

Morabito represents Adebayor, so the talk is probably nothing more than a ruse to interest Italian clubs into bidding for the Togo hitman, but given that there isn't a whole lot else to talk about today, it would be good to hear what you lot would think of Crouch coming to the Gunners. Would he be an expensive flop? Or would his height and aerial ability give Arsenal another dimension in attack? Share your thoughts here.

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Posted by Gordon Masson on June 26, 2008 8:35 AM in Transfers
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Which Euro 2008 star would you like to see at Arsenal?

It's a slow news day, with the 'is he or isn't he' saga of Samir Nasri's transfer to Arsenal dragging on and the newspapers still insisting that Alexander Hleb and Emmanuel Adebayor have played their last games for the Gunners.

Until Arsenal confirm anything, I remain sceptical about any and all transfer rumours, but as I said, it's a slow news day, so I thought I'd give you lot a bit of fun by giving you a few names to mull over.

All eight players have been linked with potential moves to the Emirates Stadium during the Euro 2008 tournament and with Spain in such good form, it's not difficult to see why a quartet of their players - Dani Guiza, David Villa, David Silva and Raul Albiol - feature on the list.

Le Gaffer has spoken of his admiration for Russia, so it's no surprise that I've included Andrei Arshavin, while French hitman Karim Benzema has been associated with a move to the Gunners for a couple of years now.

Rounding out the selection are in-form German striker Lukas Podolski and French midfielder Jeremy Toulalan, who is regarded by some as the next Patrick Vieira, although given his nation's poor tournament, if Le Boss did make a move for the Lyon player I'd imagine he'd not want to part with too much cash.

Anyway, I'm sure you lot will tell me if there's anyone else that you reckon should be on the list, but in the meantime, get voting for who you'd most like to see Arsenal sign.

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Posted by Gordon Masson on June 25, 2008 8:31 AM in Poll| Transfers
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Cesc Fabregas makes a further claim for captaincy

If, like me, you watched the snoozathon that was Italy v Spain on Sunday night, you'll probably agree that Cesc Fabregas was the best player on the pitch, despite only coming off the bench to replace Andres Iniesta in the 58th minute.

However, what was even more impressive was the fact that Fab 4 stepped up to take Spain's fifth and decisive penalty in the resulting shoot out and coolly slotted the ball past the despairing Gianluigi Buffon.

Why so remarkable you might ask? Well, by Cesc's own admission, that was the first penalty he's ever taken as a professional footballer. A fellow Gooner friend of mine called that statement into question, recalling that Cesc's first ever game - in the Carling Cup against Rotherham in October 2003 - was the only game to ever go to penalties in the history of Highbury Stadium.

But Fabregas, who became the club's youngest ever player in that game aged just 16 years and 117 days, was replaced after 85 minutes by Quincy Owusu-Abeyie (remember him?), before Arsenal went on to triumph 9-8 in the shoot out.

Anyway, I digress. The fact that Fabregas was willing to take his first ever penalty in such a pressure situation speaks volumes for the young Spaniard and is yet another reason for Arsene Wenger to promote Cesc to the role of captain...


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Posted by Gordon Masson on June 24, 2008 8:50 AM in Debate of the Day
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Arsenal squad numbers suggest there are signings to come

Arsenal today announced the club's shirt numbers for next season and with a number of obvious holes in the first team squad, it looks certain that Arsene Wenger will be wielding the Gunners' cheque book before the campaign begins.

As expected, Manuel Almunia takes Jens Lehmann's old no. 1 shirt, while the other additions involve Carlos Vela taking the vacant no.12 shirt, last worn by Lauren, Aaron Ramsey taking custody of Mathieu Flamini's no. 16 and young goalkeeper Vito Mannone grabbing the 24 jersey.

The vacant no.8 shirt will hopefully be filled by Samir Nasri, but other than that, the first team squad has been whittled down to 30, meaning there is plenty of scope for new players to come in.

Despite the continuing transfer speculation, both Alexander Hleb and Emmanuel Adebayor retain their squad numbers, while Thierry Henry's 14 vest joins 18, 23, 28 and 29 as possibilities for anyone arriving at the club.

Last season's first team squad included 33 or 34 players, so there is definitely room for Le Gaffer to promote some fringe players or hopefully bring in some experience from elsewhere. And with the Premier League allowing seven subs on the bench next season, there's no excuse to limit the first team squad numbers.

For all the shirt numbers, see the next page...


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Posted by Gordon Masson on June 23, 2008 12:10 PM in Players
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