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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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Are Hleb and Adebayor now former Gunners?

Once again it's all quiet on the Arsenal front with nothing but speculation in the newspapers about who is leaving and who is joining the club.

Our poll yesterday asking you if you would take Thierry Henry back to the club saw the majority of you (64%) wanting him back in some shape of form, while 36% toed the club line that you don't sign former players.

Nearly 28% of you wanted a part exchange deal for Alex Hleb, 15% would like a part exchange for Emmanuel Adebayor and a more pragmatic 21% would simply buy Titi back.

It's all pure conjecture and a bit of fun, I know, but I'm just wondering whether Hleb and Adebayor have already said goodbye to their team mates. The official Arsenal website had photos of the first team squad back in training yesterday and while the images were limited, none of them showed the duo.

Arsene Wenger has granted the players involved in Euro 2008 some extra days off, but that didn't affect Hleb or Manu and with all the rumours surrounding them you'd think that capturing them back in training with their colleagues would have been a priority if they were there.

Perhaps I'm reading too much into it, as there were a number of other big names missing from the photos, but Hleb in particular missed the final three games of the season and has therefore had a longer rest than most, so I'm wondering if we'll ever see pictures of him training at London Colney again.

What do you think? Have we seen Hleb and Adebayor play their last games for Arsenal? Share your comments here.

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Posted by Gordon Masson on July 10, 2008 10:04 AM in Debate of the Day
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Poll: Would you take Thierry Henry back to Arsenal?

I have a simple poll for you today. With Barcelona supposedly interested in two of our star players, I'm just wondering how open us Arsenal fans would be to the prospect of Thierry Henry returning to his spiritual home?

The Gunners certainly have the upper hand in any negotiations with Barca, as quite simply they want something that we have and while I personally hope that Yaya Toure is included in any deal, the prospect of Titi coming back isn't beyond the realms of possibility.

Much has been written about Henry's first season at the Nou Camp being a failure, but what most reports haven't pointed out is that Thierry was Barca's top goalscorer last season. He notched 19 goals in all competitions, despite being played for the most part as a winger, so although it wasn't up to his usual high standards, I wouldn't exactly call it a failure.

Anyway, it would be interesting to hear your thoughts on such a deal, so vote away and feel free to leave any comments in the usual manner.

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Posted by Gordon Masson on July 9, 2008 8:25 AM in Debate of the Day| Transfers
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Is Arsene Wenger hoping for a change in club ownership?

Q. What does Arsene Wenger have that the Arsenal board of directors do not?
A. An ongoing friendship with former Gunners vice chairman David Dein

So what, you might say. Well if there was any accuracy whatsoever in the comments attributed to Le Gaffer in yesterday's News Of The World newspaper, it would seem that Wenger might slowly be coming around to the idea that the club might benefit from a billionaire taking over at Arsenal.

Personally I hate the idea of a foreign sugardaddy coming in and throwing several hundred million pounds at buying trophies, but having closely followed what Arsene has said over the past decade, his comments - if reported correctly - signal what could be construed as a cry for help.

The News of the Screws claim that Wenger told them that Arsenal is a selling club and that because of the financial strain the new stadium has put on the club's resources, then us fans should expect our best players to be sold. And he wasn't just talking about this season, he was talking about the next 17 years!

"The strategy of the club is to sell every year and to buy less expensive players," Wenger reportedly said. "We have to free up - for 17 more years - an annual surplus of £24 million to pay for our stadium. The club's strategy is to favour the policy of youngsters ahead of stars."

Now by my calculations, the club should easily be able to achieve a £24 million surplus every year based on gate receipts and TV money, meaning that player sales should not be part of the equation, so I have a theory about what Wenger was up to...


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Posted by Gordon Masson on July 7, 2008 9:30 AM in Debate of the Day
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£30 million for Adebayor: would you take it or leave it?

According to newspaper reports, Barcelona are set to table a "take it or leave it" £30 million bid for Gunners' striker Emmanuel Adebayor in a desperate attempt to take the 24-year-old to the Nou Camp.

Take it. Bite their hand off, is what I say. £30 million for a player who has shown time and time again this summer that loyalty is an alien concept? Arsene Wenger would be mad not to, in my opinion.

If the rumour is true - and let's face it, it's a pretty big if - then there could be a very sound reason why Arsenal are playing hardball on the deal. Barcelona club president Joan Laporta faces a vote of no confidence this Sunday and is anxious to pull something spectacular out of the bag to appease the club's massive membership.

Intense speculation linking Man United's Ronaldo with Barca's arch rivals Real Madrid, has left the Catalan club's fans baying for blood after a disappointing season, but Laporta sees Adebayor as the magic ingredient to kick start his team and he could be prepared to break the bank to do it...


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Posted by Gordon Masson on July 4, 2008 8:50 AM in Debate of the Day| Transfers
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Is a big name signing a priority for Arsenal?

Knowing what we all do about Arsene Wenger, there's little doubt that he's scouring the planet to find Arsenal some new talent that he can work his magic on and turn into a world class player.

Last season he found us Bacary Sagna and Eduardo, the year before that it was Tomas Rosicky, Denilson and Alexandre Song, while three years ago it was Emmanuel Adebayor, Abou Diaby, Alexander Hleb and Theo Walcott.

At the moment, the new players coming in include Aaron Ramsey, Luke Freeman and, of course, Carlos Vela who should hopefully begin his Arsenal career in the pre-season friendlies.

But after another trophyless season, us fans are needing a bit of a shot in the arm and while I'm not saying that Le Gaffer's brand of football is anything but the best, adding an established world star surely cannot be a bad idea, either for the team or commercially. Otherwise we run the risk of permanently being a team in transition and if that is the case - indeed, if we have another season without silverware - then I can foresee a few more players becoming unsettled and seeking pastures new.

What do you reckon? Should us fans be demanding a big name signing? Or should we be content with relatively unknown players being the only players to come to the club? Perhaps you have a superstar in mind as a potential Gunner. Share your thoughts here

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Posted by Gordon Masson on July 3, 2008 10:14 AM in Debate of the Day| Transfers
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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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