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It must be June - Arsenal takeover talk is rearing its ugly head again

You can tell all is quiet in the sports departments of Britain's newspapers because of the major Arsenal stories they are running with today.

First there's the speculation that my favourite player, Gael Clichy, could be on his way to Italy and then there's the story that the winds of change could also be sweeping through Arsenal at board level with the directors lining up a sale to a foreign billionaire.

Handling the Clichy news first, my simple reaction is No Way. Gael seems to be deliriously happy being a Gunner, as under Arsene Wenger he has turned into one of the world's best left backs and unlike some of his peers, he seems to possess something called loyalty.

On the club's ownership, various newspapers are quoting insider sources who suggest that American sports tycoon Stan Kroenke is about to be offered a seat on the board, but will also be offered first refusal on the sale of his fellow directors' shares, paving the way for him to take full ownership of Arsenal Football Club...


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Posted by Gordon Masson on June 20, 2008 9:53 AM in News
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First three months could be key for Arsenal's season

Next season's Premier League fixture lists were announced today and handed Arsenal a three month respite before we face one of this season's top four teams.

The Gunners will kick off the campaign at home against West Brom on 16th August, while the final game of the season will see us face Stoke, also at the Emirates Stadium on 24th May.

And with our first 11 Premier League games involving teams that finished significantly below Arsene Wenger's men last season - West Brom, Fulham, Newcastle, Blackburn, Bolton, Hull, Sunderland, Everton, West Ham, Tottenham and Stoke - Arsene Wengers men will hopefully have amassed a hefty number of points before we entertain current champions Man United in early November.

Of course, once Sky and Setanta get their grubby hands on the fixture list most games will be rescheduled, but the season's biggest clashes have been pencilled in and will fall on or around the same weekends, so the dates for your diary are: Manchester United 8th November (H) and 16th May (A); Chelsea 29th November (A) and 9th May (H); Liverpool 20th December (H) and 18th April (A); Tottenham 28th October (H) and 7th February (A).

So if you're as sad as me and have been holding off booking your holidays, now is you chance to get planning. For the full provisional fixture lists continue reading on the next page...


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Posted by Gordon Masson on June 16, 2008 10:03 AM in News
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Carlos Vela becomes instant fans favourite after Tottenham jibe

Mexican wonderkid Carlos Vela is likely to receive a very warm reception with Arsenal fans when he first pulls on the famous red and white colours, after he displayed a remarkable knowledge of the Gunners' north London rivalry with the Spuds.

Vela's international team mate Giovani Dos Santos has just agreed a £4.7 million move from the glamour of Barcelona's Nou Camp to the footballing backwaters of White Hart Lane, and Vela believes that the 19-year-old will be a hit in England.

"I am happy for him," said Vela. "I hope things go well for him at Tottenham, that he gets the minutes he wasn't given at Barcelona and that he shows what he can do."

Vela has spent his first two years as an Arsenal player on loan in Spain while work permit red tape was sorted out. But despite never having kicked a ball for the Gunners, Carlos has shown that he is a true Gooner with his final comment on Giovani's transfer: "He is a very good player and let's hope he can then move on to a better team."

Class! Welcome to Arsenal, Carlos. With your help maybe the gulf between the Gunners and the Spuds will be even greater than 37 points next season.

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Posted by Gordon Masson on June 11, 2008 8:26 AM in News| Players
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Sagna extends Arsenal deal but chairman questions loyalty of others

Arsenal have announced that right back Bacary Sagna has extended his contract with the club, despite only arriving in north London last summer.

The French international was arguable one of the buys of the season as he slotted straight into the right back position. Sagna joined the club on a four year contract from Auxerre, costing the Gunners a reputed £6 million, which now seems a bargain.

However, Arsenal have revealed that the 25-year-old has now committed himself to a deal that should keep him at Emirates Stadium until 2014, with his salary reputed to have increased to £50,000 per week.

Next in line for contract negotiations are Cesc Fabregas and Emmanuel Adebayor. Fab 4's current deal expires in 2014, but Arsene Wenger is keen to offer the 21-year-old midfield playmaker improved terms so that he can secure Cesc's services for many years to come. Likewise, Le Gaffer is hoping to keep top scorer Adebayor at the club for a few more years with a new deal.

The so-called Webster ruling that allows players to buy themselves out of their remaining contract now means that clubs may be forced to renegotiate player contracts on an annual basis as a way of reducing the risk of their stars walking away. And that's obviously irked Arsenal chairman Peter Hill-Wood, who has called the loyalty of players into question...


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Posted by Gordon Masson on June 5, 2008 10:19 AM in News| Players
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Former Arsenal star Freddie Ljungberg trashes Arsene Wenger

If you believe the stories in the newspapers today, Freddie Ljungberg left Arsenal on such bad terms that he decided to sign for West Ham so he could take out his revenge on the Gunners.

You may be an underwear pin-up Freddie, but you're not exactly brain of Britain - or Sweden for that matter. While I have no doubt that Arsene Wenger was concerned about your injuries, I think he was probably thinking the same as us fans in seeing that you had lost a yard or two of pace and therefore it was time to let you go.

If Freddie had stayed at Arsenal last season, there's not much chance that he would have made it into the starting 11 many times, even if he had stayed fit, which of course he didn't.

But addressing his so-called feud with Wenger, I have one observation to make: surely any footballer who has an ounce of ambition would move to a club which has a realistic chance of winning silverware?! Freddie's assertion that he turned down offers from Italy so he could play as often as possible for West Ham against Arsenal is frankly nonsense. But if it is true, then why would we Gooners want such an unambitious, overpaid player in the squad anyway?

You were a great player at Arsenal Freddie and you were loved by the fans. Perhaps it would be wiser to hold your tongue so that you don't spoil the goodwill that you built up during your nine years with the Gunners.

What do you think of Freddie's attack on Wenger and his claim that he signed for the Hammers purely to play against Arsenal? Share your thoughts here.

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Posted by Gordon Masson on June 4, 2008 9:09 AM in News| Players
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Has Alexander Hleb played his last game for Arsenal?

If the rumours in the press are to be believed, Belarus international Alexander Hleb will be the third player to leave Arsenal during the summer, following Mathieu Flamini and Jens Lehmann out of the Emirates Stadium door.

Hleb's agent has been touting around his client for some time now and despite the 27-year-old claiming he is happy to remain a Gunner, it appears as if the lure of the almighty Euro is proving too tempting for Hleb and a transfer request has supposedly been handed to Arsene Wenger.

Now I'm a big fan of Hleb, but if he is truly unhappy with his deal at Arsenal, then I'm not going to cry too much is he is allowed to leave, especially if the speculation is true that the likes of Inter Milan, AC Milan, Barcelona and Real Madrid could be about to get into a bidding war for the talented midfielder.

With Inter already admitting their interest, Real boss Bernd Schuster has thrown his hat into the ring by saying, "Over the past two months we've made a plan and now we know what we want, but we've also added Hleb. We didn't originally know that he may leave Arsenal but now it seems that he will, and we were surprised by that."

With those European giants mooted to be pondering a £15 million offer for Hleb, the extra boost to Wenger's transfer budget would allow Le Gaffer to bring in someone the calibre of Hatim Ben Arfa or perhaps even Yaya Toure to bolster the Gunners' midfield options.

Do you think Hleb will leave north London? If so, who would you like to see brought in to strengthen the Arsenal squad? Share your thoughts here.

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Posted by Gordon Masson on May 28, 2008 9:14 AM in News| Players| Transfers
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Danny Fiszman reveals backing for Arsene Wenger and talks of hopes and plans for Arsenal's future

There's a fascinating interview on the official Arsenal website today, featuring a frank session with Gunners' power broker Danny Fiszman.

Diamond geezer Fiszman is the biggest shareholder on the Arsenal board and historically has been almost a silent partner at the club. However, last year when the mooted takeover moves by Alisher Usmanov materialised, Fiszman emerged from the shadows to reveal that he plans to take a more active role in the club going forward.

Certainly Fiszman's business acumen cannot be faulted, making him a valuable member of the Gunners' board, but what shines through from his interview is his unwavering support for Arsene Wenger, which is something all of us fans should be thankful for.

Another reason to be cheerful is that Fiszman appears dead against an Usmanov takeover as he slams the idea of a billionaire sugar daddy using the club as an expensive plaything...


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Posted by Gordon Masson on May 27, 2008 10:38 AM in News
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