"Rafa signs Pompey's Johnson"

What? You didn’t think I could let a world class joke like that go could you?

Seriously though, the transfer window is heating up and rumors are now flying faster than ever, though for some reason, Chelsea seem to keep getting shafted in the end.

What?

Ok…

The Chelsea story is an actual story, it’s just that no one is reporting on it. Nearly half the time I’ve been an Arsenal supporter the summer transfer window went like this: Week 1, “Arsenal to bring former great Ian Wright’s adopted son back to Highbury for £8m.” Week2, “Chelsea snap up Shaun Wright-Phillips from City for  record fee of £30m.” Week 3, “Arsenal looking at Ghana star Essien to replace departing Vieira.” Week 4, “Chelsea stun the Premier League again with £35m swoop for Essien.” Something like that, you get the point.

So, regardless what I think of Melo as a player, you can imagine my apprehension when I see Chelsea being linked with Melo. It’s almost an apoplectic reaction, honestly, I feel like shouting “HOLY F*CK PAY ANYTHING JUST SIGN HIM.”

But the truth is that Chelsea are more like a toothless old lion these days: their ocassional roars only frighten if you fail to see them gumming their meat over in the corner.

No pun intended.

The facts is that Chelsea are starting to look like an old team and their director is desperate to bring in new recruits to inject life. The only problem is that his transfer policy (“hmmm, let’s see who the other top four are linked to and bid MOAR”) is both transparent to everyone involved and the prices elsewhere are just flat out better. I mean, why would Glen Johnson want to return to the team which famously snubbed him and, worse, then only showed interest after other clubs were linked? Given an offer of money from his old mercenary club, the new mercenary club on the block, and a club like Liverpool — someone who has actually won a European Championship — the choice was obvious.

The funny thing is that this story is repeating itself ad nauseum this transfer season. Some team is linked to a big name player and suddenly Chelsea’s name is added to the list, only to be swept aside by Real Madrid or Liverpool or the prospects offered by a club like Arsenal. Listen to what Vermaelen said in his interview, he mentions Arsene Wenger as one of the reasons that he came to Arsenal, calling le Boss “one of the top names in football.” Even if Chelsea come in with some huge money offer I still suspect a player like Melo will be given some pause. After all, Arsenal is pretty much the only team where he is likely to get the first team action needed to secure a World Cup spot.

Meanwhile, back up north in Liverpool the Reds are nearly admitting defeat in their bid to hold on to Xabi Alonso. This article lists the transfer fee as £30m and I’ve seen that number as high as £38m. Even the lower of those two valuations is, well, it’s crazy. Just last season, Arsenal were mooted to have bid between £12m and £18m for his services and they had that bid denied. By all accounts Alonso went on to have a tremendous season, but a double the value season? Wow, I wish we’d have broken the bank for him, just the sell on value alone would be worth it!

And you know what? If Real don’t sign Alonso, it looks like they could just get Essien. HA!. That would be delicious, delicious, irony if Essien would leave Chelsea and go to Real. I always thought Chelsea would collapse when Abramovich lost interest but it’s starting to look like they are going to collapse when all their best players either leave for greener pastures or die of old age. Live by the Euro, die by the Euro, I guess.

Which brings me to our beloved Arsenal, where Arsene Wenger is still preaching fiscal prudence and talking about keeping a young squad together. No argument there from me, I like all the players on this team* and think that it would be premature to start breaking it up, so I greet news that Robin van Persie may have signed another deal with open arms.

Meanwhile, the transfer fanatics will be looking for a sign of a signing from Wenger and he has given us one saying

I want to add to the squad and have identified one or two targets. But identifying players and buying them are two different things. Ideally I would like to bring everybody in before we start back in pre-season training in July. I don’t want to leave it until the end of August.

All Arsenal fans should be very excited to hear that, because if he pulls it off it will be a first for me to see the whole team assembled before summer practice starts. The only problem is if we’re after Felipe Melo we won’t be able to negoatiate with him until after the Confederations Cup — which ends the 28th of June. I’ve never seen an Arsenal transfer take less than a month, so maybe we can get him in before August but let’s not get our hopes up.

The other funny thing Wenger said in the interview happened when he hit on the magical £100m “money in the bank” number

I am fed-up with people who think I have £100m in the bank yet don’t want to spend it. How can people think that? The pride of the club is in having moved to a new stadium while maintaining the club at the top level.The policy of the club is that they have backed me in what I do and the way I do it. We now have to be strong enough to stick to that. We cannot pump £100m into it, so we must keep faith in what we are doing.

Well, people think it because Arsenal keep releasing statements saying that they have £100m in the bank! Now, maybe you don’t have that at your disposal, fair enough, but don’t take the piss out of the supporters when they are just listening to what the board is saying. Simply put, Arsene, this is the modern condition: everyone knows what everyone else is up to nowadays, you can’t hide information, especially if it’s in public reports. So, take the piss out of the board. If they said, “Arsenal have to have a strategic reserve of [such and such] in order to stave off possible economic disaster” then I don’t think fans would have a problem seeing this huge number. Sorry, but that’s the kind of transparency that’s needed now days.

Either that or re-invest the money into the damn Highbury development and get that off our backs!

I will break in to our regular coverage if there is a miracle signing, other than that, see you tomorrow.

*ok, I wouldn’t be heartbroken to see Silvestre, Adebayor, and Eboue sent off to greener pastures, but I still, erm, uhhh, like them, as people.

Robin Expected to Sign Soon

Two new signings?

First off, I hope everyone had a wonderful Father’s day yesterday. I had a kickaround, then had some beer, then indulged in some razor clams and some more beer and watched Young Frankenstein with the family.

It was nice, but I was thinking, Father’s day should be held on Saturday so that you can have a hangover on Sunday and be ready to go back to work on Monday. Just saying…

Anyway, while I was consuming my first round of beers, I had a chance to watch the Italy v. Brazil game and check out supposed Arsenal target Felipe Melo. The Brazilians played a sort of 4-2-3-1 and I thought Melo did pretty well, backing up the far superior Gilberto Silva. I’m not sure who that Gilberto guy plays for but we should sign him, he would be perfect.

Seriously though, I don’t think Melo looks the part that Arsenal need. I mean, in 90 minutes I don’t think I saw him put in a single tackle. He had plenty of opportunity, mind you, but he seemed to be coasting behind Gilberto who was everywhere, doing everything. Maybe he’s better than that and had an off night, but I’m struggling to see what he offers that our Denilson doesn’t already have. I’m looking for one of three types of players; the Gilberto type who is everywhere filling in for everyone, a destroyer, or just a solid box-to-box midfielder. The last thing we need is another slow, technically proficient, midfielder.

Oh and hey, I also caught the tail end of this one game, where the USA beat some Egypt team? Was that an important game or something? Because I read that the winner of that game gets to be Spain’s next win.

Wasn’t someone saying that Egypt was going to beat USA 7-0? Hmmm…

Anyway, enough of that International crapola, we’ve got Arsenal “news!”

Robin van Persie is supposedly going to be (like) a new signing any minute now. Yay. Bendtner’s daddy said that he’s NOT leaving the club, not for Roma, even though they are traveling to Rome. Yay. Arshavin says he wants to end his career in Russia St. Racistberg, possibly to be closer to his hairdresser. Meanwhile, the press are pushing hard for Chelsea to buy Adebayor. OMGPLEASELETTHISHAPPEN. And finally, on-again-off-again Arsenal target Blaze Matuidi has asked his directors for a sign over his future at Saint-Etienne, this totally means that Arsenal are going to sign him.  Totally.

Setanta Follow Up

Setanta finally got their US site up and running and they have a statement on the US site that says

As has been widely reported in various media channels, Setanta Sports has today had its agreement to broadcast 46 Barclays Premier League matches in the UK terminated.

This development does not affect our channels and other services in the US.

Setanta Sports in the US is a separate operation that has separate agreement to show the Barclay’s Premier League. Our channels and other services in the US continue to broadcast and our subscribers can still enjoy our programming including the Lions Tour of South Africa and the UEFA U21 European Championship.

New customers are welcome to subscribe to watch some of the world’s best soccer and rugby either by contacting our cable and satellite partners or online at www.setanta.com.

We thank you for your continued interest in Setanta Sports and look forward to bringing you a wealth of sport over the coming months and years.

I guess that’s that and we’ve got another season of Setanta to look forward to over here — because even if the UK enterprise collapses, they may be able to pull off a leaner version in the states. We’ll have to wait and see. For my foreign readers, the UK rights are going up for sale and it’s looking like you all may be watching the games on Sky.

Right, that’s it for today, see you all tomorrow!

Happy Father's Day!

First off, I want to give a shout out to blog commenter and new daddy Travis the Septopus — and of course to all us old daddy’s out there: Adrian, Alex, Caribkid, Russ, and anyone else who ever donated chromosomes!

The real Gooner of the Year

On such an auspicious day I also want to give you guys nothing but good news! So, for example, Man U are being linked to the old-new-Zidane, Karim Benzema. So I went out and looked at his video and then I looked at Juan Seb Veron’s video and I’m convinced that Benzema is not the new Zidane, he’s not even the new Veron. See for yourself!

Benzema

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0RRe42V7HeU]

Veron

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DbwaAR9YhdQ]

SEE! Veron is da bomb! I think Man U should break the bank and sign that guy!

Following on the heels of that world exclusive, I have another piece of exclusive news: Arsenal are going to trade Eboue for Sakho. OHGODSPLEASELETTHISBETRUE.

Meanwhile, Diaby is working out, getting more powerful, trying to get “Vieira like” or maybe “Vieira-esque.” It’s a funny story. I wonder why he felt the need to talk about it at all? Of course, we’d all take it if he was just “Almost nearly Vieira” but as it stands the closest he’ll get to Vieira is when he shines his boots for the national team. Keeping with the theme of today’s blog, though, let’s all wish him good luck! May he come out of the training with 20 inch biceps and legs like mighty might oaks.

And for all you Veloso fans out there, here’s a heartwarming story about how no one has bid for him. I mean, I’m sure it’s not heartwarming for him, but it means that we can all keep the Veloso to Arsenal fantasy alive!

And finally, someone has taken Vermaelen’s first interview off the dot com (BAD BOY) and put it on youtube, get it while it’s hot.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jgzIpWMkHRY]

I’m off to have a kickaround and as a father, I will be expected great service today, scoring 13 goals, and making every defensive play!

See you tomorrow.