21 June 2014

£8m for Aurier? The rumors pick up steam...

Using the infamously loaded phrase "agreed personal terms," ITV reports that we now just need to finalize a fee with Toulouse to land the Ivorian right-back.  The terse, 54-word report offers enticing news that we're at last looking to stem the tide of players leaving and begin reloading for next season. With Sagna gone to Man City, of course, our need for an experienced right-back intensified. Carl Jenkinson may be a bit older than Aurier, but Aurier is the more-accomplished, complete player. To be able to bring him in at £8m would be a bit of a coup. For comparison, we brought in Nacho Monreal for a similar fee. While this may not be the kind of news Ivoirian manager Sabri Lamouchi cares to hear in the middle of Côte d'Ivoire's World Cup campaign, they do sit comfortably in Group C with a match on Tuesday against Greece. So be it.

19 June 2014

Will the Three Lions sink under its Liverpudlian leanings?

Another World Cup match, another defeat. England's World Cup hopes now hang by a thread after a second consecutive loss, this time to Uruguay. The scoreline was the same was it was against Italy, and it leaves the Three Lions' fate in the hands of the other teams, as they now need Italy to defeat Costa Rica and Uruguay to even have a prayer. From there, England have to defeat Costa Rica to finish level on points with them and Uruguay, hoping to then go through to the next round on goal-difference. What follows comes from the admittedly biased perspective of a Gooner, but the results so far do beg a certain question: has the decidedly Liverputian tilt of the squad undermine the Three Lions' chances?

Guess we should cross Casillas off the wish-list...

What is happening to Iker Casillas? A year ago, I might have merely chalked up the situation to him being Mourinhoed—that special process through which an otherwise stellar player runs afoul of the Specious One's whims and is all but put in the stocks for public humiliation and ridicule. More recently, though, it's been hard to watch Casillas without worrying that his best days have already slipped away from him [edit: insert simile here to equate one's best days slipping away with a ball dribbling through keeper's fingers]. His last few performances have seen him deliver some howlingly bad moments, enough of them to make me worry that, as we seek a back-up who can challenge and/or mentor Szczęsny, we might do better than the 33-year old Spaniard. That hurts to say, because I genuinely do admire Casillas.

18 June 2014

Transfer-targets: Balotelli at £180k a week? That's a steal!

He's one of the most mercurial players on the planet. On one hand, he's capable of delivering devastating goals from almost any distance and in any manner imaginable. On the other, he's the MacGyver of manufacturing mayhem; give him a paper-clip, three ml of Earl Grey, and a rubber-band, and he'll create a conflagration of epic proportions (and that may not be an exaggeration). The idea that we could get him—far-fetched and rumor-based though it may be—should set our faces to stunned. The idea that we could get him for a mere £27m transfer fee and £180k a week should absolutely floor us. Yes, he's volatile. Yes, he's young. However, as we cast about for other options, we may have to pay double that transfer fee and wages closer to £250k per week—if we're looking at the Costas and Cavanis of the world.

Cazorla's considering Atleti? Is he the canary in the coal mine?

A month to the day, we won the FA Cup to bring to an end the hated trophy drought, an apt and glorious bookend to having won the FA Cup nine years prior; let this launch a parallel period afterward that sees future seasons unfold towards a period similar to the beginning of Arsène's tenure. It could be like one of those mirror-images: period of glory capped with FA Cup win, drought in the middle, FA Cup win launches period of glory. That could work. However, even before the dust has settled, it seems we're seeing an exodus of players far more alarming than last summer's, when we could look on with smug satisfaction as the Chamakhs and Squillacis were sent packing. This time through, though, there are sadder partings and alarming rumors, which together threaten to jeopardize the goodwill and momentum generated by winning that FA Cup.

16 June 2014

A boffo bid for Balotelli? But he's bonkers!

One of the rumors now making the rounds is that Arsenal have put in a £25m bid for Mario Balotelli. Whether it's true or not is, of course, another story, as the original source on the this bid is the Daily Express, but after seeing us lose Fabianski to Swansea and Sagna to City, not to mention passing on Fàbregas, the natives are getting restless. Toss in a rumored Vermaelen move to Old Trafford, and we might as well cue the angry mob, which is sharpening pitchforks and lighting torches as we speak. A move for Mario "Why always me?" Balotelli, low-ball though it may be, could be just crazy enough to work. We are, after all, discussing a player just as notorious for off-pitch antics as he is for moments of brilliance on the pitch.

15 June 2014

And again, Spurs teach Arsenal a lesson.

It's happened again. The mighty, money-laden, glitzy megaclub has been laid low by the more-modest, talented but less glamorous squad. Despite assembling one of the best rosters that money can buy, this nouveau riche club, so bereft of history that few can even remenber its existence prior to the late 1980s, has again fallen short of glory, beaten again by the Spurs. Of San Antonio. Of the NBA. If you were expecting this post to compliment the inner workings of a certain lily-livered, lilywhite club from White Hart Lane, well, I apologize. It's just that, with the Spurs' winning their 4th championship in 11 years, they've offered a model for winning that Arsenal would do well to remember, if not emulate.