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Should a goalkeeper be a summer target for Arsenal?

Sunday's emotional farewell to Jens Lehmann in my opinion leaves us with a bigger hole in the squad than the departure of Mathieu Flamini.

When it comes to Flattuso, we have a number of players who are capable of stepping into the central midfield role. World Cup winner Gilberto and fellow Brazilian Denilson are two candidates, while the vacant position could be the chance that Abou Diaby has been waiting for - and it should be remembered that Diaby has two French caps, compared to Flamini's one.

But Lehmann's exit means that Lukasz Fabianski will automatically become Manuel Almunia's deputy and while I have no doubt that the Pole in the goal has potential, I don't think he's ready to become a first team regular. And that's exactly what could happen if Almunia sustained an injury - as he does done latterly this season.

So should a keeper be among Arsene Wenger's summer signings? I would like to think so. There are a slew of stoppers who would love to be playing Champions League football, so it shouldn't be too difficult to attract a good enough goalie to challenge Almunia and Fabianski, but who would you urge Wenger to offer Lehmann's gloves to?

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Posted by Gordon Masson on May 7, 2008 11:28 AM in Players| Transfers
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Do Arsenal need to buy English to breed loyalty?

In the wake of Mathieu Flamini's decision to quite Arsenal this summer, a learned friend on mine put forward the suggestion that the key to keeping players that the club develops could be down to nationality.

Now the first thing that came into my mind was that such a sweeping statement was somewhat xenophobic, but allowed to explain his thought process, I could see where his theory has some basis.

It goes something like this: English players do not often take their careers overseas and therefore are more likely to remain at their club. It's not a complicated theory, but when your apply it to some of the Premier League's English internationalists, it seems to hold some truth.

In contrast, foreign players are much more likely to seek moves to pastures new - and not just for the money; there's also the climate to take into consideration.

So I have two very simple questions for you: Firstly, do you agree that signing or developing more English players is the way ahead for Arsenal? And if so, is there anyone in particular you'd like to see on Arsene Wenger's shopping list?

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Posted by Gordon Masson on May 7, 2008 9:13 AM in Debate of the Day| Players| Transfers
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Who should Arsenal sign to replace Mathieu Flamini?

The news that all Arsenal fans were dreading - Mathieu Flamini's free transfer to AC Milan - was confirmed yesterday, leaving Arsene Wenger with his first headache of the summer: who can he find to fill the Flamster's defensive midfield role?

Personally speaking, I think he might try to do it from within his current squad, maybe promoting Denilson to the role, while using Gilberto as back up, if the veteran Brazilian remains at the club.

However, I believe that buying a replacement would be a good idea and unfortunately the departure of Matty to Italy now makes the sale of Lassana Diarra to Portsmouth back in January look very foolish indeed.

So without further ado, let us know what you think of Flamini's departure and who you think would be good to slot into his position alongside Cesc Fabregas in the heart of the Arsenal team?

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Posted by Gordon Masson on May 6, 2008 10:30 AM in Debate of the Day| Players| Transfers
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Poll: Who was Arsenal's Man Of The Match against Everton?

A 1-0 victory over Everton on Sunday ensured Arsenal kept their home record intact by riding out the season without losing a single game at Emirates Stadium.

The tempo of the match resembled something akin to an exhibition match, but it had one significant highlight, when Arsene Wenger introduced Jens Lehmann with 20 minutes still to play, giving the big German stopper his final appearance in an Arsenal top. And the reception that was afforded Mad Jens was truly fitting, as he has been a great servant to the club.

The traditional parade by the first team squad following the final whistle also saw Mathieu Flamini appear on the pitch, just hours before his announcement that he has signed a four-year deal with AC Milan. The antics of his fellow professionals as he walked the lap of honour made it obvious that the Flamster was leaving and unfortunately there were signs that Alexander Hleb might also be saying farewell, although that transfer saga may also take some time to resolve.

On the pitch, Everton should be given some credit, as they brought the game to the Gunners and Lukasz Fabianski had to be on his toes to make some smart saves before his team mates began to find their rhythm...


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Posted by Gordon Masson on May 6, 2008 7:36 AM in Match Report| Poll
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Would you welcome the return of Thierry Henry to Arsenal?

Rumour is rife today that departing Arsenal managing director Keith Edelman was pushed out of the boardroom because of his refusal to free up the Gunners' purse strings.

The news of his departure has sparked fresh hopes that there is about to be a sea change in Arsenal's finances and that the constrictive wage structure under which Arsene Wenger has to operate could be scrapped. That might perhaps allow us to keep Mathieu Flamini at the 11th hour, as well as trying to attract world class players, with the promise of world class wages.

Indeed, Wenger yesterday admitted that contract talks with Flamini are continuing and that he is still hopeful that the 24-year-old will stay at Arsenal.

Now I'm not claiming to have any contacts on the club's board, but the timing of Edelman's announcement is curious. Why not wait 10 days until the season is over?

According to newspaper speculation, Edelman was acting as the club's Ebeneezer Scrooge when it came to transfer deals and contract negotiations, with the Flamster's deal perhaps being the straw that broke the camel's back.

So we may yet get some good news on Matty's future, while one intriguing snippit involves the supposed return of Thierry Henry from Barcelona...


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Posted by Gordon Masson on May 2, 2008 9:10 AM in Debate of the Day| Players| Transfers
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Play Fantasy Arsene Wenger: Pick your team to face Everton

Sunday marks the last home game of the season and if Arsenal can avoid losing to Everton, then it will mark a whole campaign without a single loss at the Emirates Stadium.

The game could mark the final chance for a number of stars to play before their fans, with the likes of Jens Lehmann, Justin Hoyte, Philippe Senderos, Gilberto, Mathieu Flamini and Alexander Hleb all being linked with summer moves elsewhere, but such considerations probably won't come into Arsene Wenger's reasoning for team selection.

If Mad Jens is leaving then I'd hope he's given a final chance in goal as he has been a good servant to the club and it would be fitting if us fans were able to wish him a proper goodbye. Whether Le Gaffer will treat Mathieu Flamini in a similar manner if he's decided to quit Arsenal is another thing, but if the French midfielder signs a new contract, it would provide a great lift for players and fans alike.

Unfortunately Bacary Sagna has been ruled out of the remainder of the campaign with an injured ankle, so we're likely to see the same defensive line-up as we fielded against Derby on Monday, namely Kolo Toure, William Gallas, Alexandre Song and Gael Clichy. I'd prefer to see Emmanuel Eboue at right back, mind you, with Song on the bench as back-up...


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Posted by Gordon Masson on May 1, 2008 9:51 AM in Debate of the Day| Players
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Has Mathieu Flamini played his last game for Arsenal?

There's still no news from the club about where Mathieu Flamini has chosen to play his football next season, but hopefully we should learn something today when Arsene Wenger speaks to the press.

Le Gaffer imposed an end of April deadline for Flamini to either accept the Gunners' contract offer or make a decision on whether he'll be playing his football in Italy next season.

Both Milan clubs have been monitoring the Flamster, with AC Milan reportedly set to offer him £60,000 per week after tax, if you believe the newspaper hype. But Matty's boyhood heroes, Juventus, remain favourites to land the midfielder, not the least because they are assured of Champions League football next season, while Milan are in fifth spot in Serie A with just three games to go.

I'll keep you posted about Flamini's situation as soon as the club or his agent make any public proclamations today. Maybe it's the Thursday morning blues, but I don't expect we'll be hearing the news most of us are hoping for today.

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Posted by Gordon Masson on May 1, 2008 8:22 AM in News| Players| Transfers
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