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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.

Posted by Gordon Masson on May 1, 2008 8:22 AM in News| Players| Transfers
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D-day for Mathieu Flamini. Will Arsenal get to re-sign the Flamster?

It's decision time for Mathieu Flamini, with boss Arsene Wenger wanting to hear the 24-year-old's plans for next season before the end of today.

According to various reports, Mathieu has been offered deals by Juventus and AC Milan that could see him earning €4 million per year, or about £3.2 million in real money. Wenger has stated that he doesn't want to break Arsenal's pay structure and to match such a deal the Gunners would have to pay the Flamster about £60,000 per week. But for me that would be perfectly reasonable, if it was to persuade the midfielder to stay.

What people forget about the Arsenal pay structure is that it has been broken before. Sol Campbell arrived at the club on a free transfer from Tottenham and was paid somewhere in the region of £110,000 per week to make up for not getting a signing on fee. Last season, Thierry Henry became the club's record earner, on a salary of about £120,000 per week. And Arsenal's highest player at present is supposedly William Gallas, who is said to be on £90,000 per week.

So if Arsenal are determined to hold on to Flamini, there should be no excuses. Obviously I don't know what's going on behind the scenes, but the reports are that he has been offered a deal that would be worth about £55,000 a week, so if that's true I wouldn't blame the lad for moving on...

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Posted by Gordon Masson on April 30, 2008 9:40 AM in Debate of the Day| Players| Transfers
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Poll: Who was Arsenal's Man Of The Match against Derby?

Arsenal strolled to victory at Derby last night, but while our football was pretty to watch, the frailties that have left us trophyless this season were all too apparent again.

Yes, we had a weakened side out against the Rams, but they are the worst team the Premier League has ever seen and yet they still managed to score two goals against us. That's only the fourth time Derby had scored more than once in the league this season.

Lukasz Fabianski made his league debut, but I can't fault the Pole in the goal for either of Derby's efforts, as that was more down to our defenders losing their concentration - something that has happened all too frequently this season.

At the other end of the pitch, Emmanuel Adebayor hit a hat trick to take his goal tally to 30 for the season, with Theo Walcott, Robin van Persie and Nicklas Bendtner notching the others, but it could - and should - have been so much more, with only woeful finishing, notably from RvP and Theo, letting us down...

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Posted by Gordon Masson on April 29, 2008 9:58 AM in Match Report| Players| Poll
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Should Arsenal break transfer record for Gareth Barry?

According to various newspaper reports, Arsene Wenger is considering parting with £15 million to sign Gareth Barry as a potential replacement for Mathieu Flamini.

Flamini has until Wednesday to make up his mind on whether he will sign a contract extension at Arsenal, or leave for Italy at the end of the season and the sounds coming out of Emirates Stadium are that the Flamster has all but left the club.

Cue the rumours that Wenger is set to break Arsenal's transfer record by submitting a £15 million bid for Aston Villa skipper Barry.

Personally, I can't see Wenger parting with that much cash for Barry, even though I can see he might be a good replacement for Flamini. But if Wenger is even contemplating spending a fraction of that £15 million on signing a defensive midfielder, I just can't understand why he wouldn't use it as a signing-on bonus to keep Flamini at the club...

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Posted by Gordon Masson on April 28, 2008 11:37 AM in Debate of the Day| Players| Transfers
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Could Thierry Henry's declaration of love persuade other Gunners to stay?

The legend that is Thierry Henry has spoken again of his love for Arsenal Football Club and seems to have dismissed speculation linking him with a move back to the Premier League - unless, of course, it's back to the Gunners.

I'd take Titi back in a second, but Arsene Wenger has a policy of never re-signing a player, so I think any speculation that Henry will return to the club will be short lived.

However, it's great to hear what our record goalscorer has to say about Arsenal and I reckon he's made the comments in an attempt to persuade those of his former team mates who are pondering a summer exit that the grass is not greener elsewhere.

In an interview with the BBC's Football Focus, to be broadcast tomorrow, Henry talks about having only one club in his life and hints very strongly that he'd like to return to that club, if at all possible.

So what, you might say. Well, Henry may currently be a Barcelona player, but the influence that our former captain has on his former team mates should not be underestimated and they'd do well to listen to him when the time to sign a new contract comes around...

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Posted by Gordon Masson on April 25, 2008 12:10 PM in News| Players| Transfers
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Play Fantasy Arsene Wenger: Pick your team to face Derby

While the rest of the Premier League resumes normal service this weekend, Arsenal have to wait until Monday evening before getting back into action when we visit lowly Derby for what should be an easy win.

Arsene Wenger has hinted that he will rest those Gunners who are due to take part in Euro 2008, while he has also said that he wants to give Lukasz Fabianski a run in goal, so we know to expect changes for the trip to Pride Park. Wenger isn't usually one for sentimentality, but if he does opt for the Pole in the Goal, then I can see Jens Lehmann getting selected for our final home game against Everton, to let us fans say what could be a final farewell to the madman.

Wenger was at the reserves game on Monday when our young Guns won 2-0 against West Ham thanks to an inspired performance by 16-year-old midfielder Jack Wilshere. The English teenager is drawing comparisons to Alexander Hleb in his style of play and the way in which he set up Rui Fonte for the Gunners' opener, before curling his own goal into the top left corner of the visitors' net, must have impressed Le Gaffer.

He's perhaps a bit too inexperienced to merit a first team squad place at the moment, but Wilshere has the potential to be a great player and Arsene always says that if a player has the talent, then age is no barrier...

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Posted by Gordon Masson on April 25, 2008 10:17 AM in News| Players
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