If media reports are to be believed then Fran Merida has signed a five year contract with Atletico Madrid. He had been negotiating a new deal with us but the contract had not been signed. It's a bit disappointing because he is a great talent but one can understand why he's made the move. Fran is a good all round attacking midfielder, creative and inventive on the ball; however not really pacey enough to be a genuine wide man and more suited to central roles.
The problem for Fran has been the abundance of talent ahead of him in queue for a central attacking role: Cesc, Diaby, Denilson, Arshavin, Nasri, Rosicky, Ramsey. Looking at our squad it is inevitable that some more very talented young players will fly the nest in the next few years, one simply can't find space for them all. Pragmatically in the future we should make sure that transfer fees are gained in the process.
Gunnerblog lists the number of players that have been handed new deals this year and it is quite a list, the fact that William Gallas has only a few months of his deal to run is a bit concerning, especially given his excellent form and partnership with the Verminator. Obviously we don't want players leaving for nothing, but this must be counterbalanced by the need to keep young players hungry to prove themselves; the problem is that these days the fear of losing talent for nothing is resulting in a bit less motivation for the youngsters. Tomas Rosicky has signed a new unspecified contract, it has been good to see Tomas back in the action this season and if he can stay fit he can add some real depth and quality to the squad, bit of an 'if' though isn't it.
This must be one of the most frequently viewed bits of the Arsenal webiste, the old injury list. Being a foolish optimist there are only two players who will be out for a really long period, RVP and Johan Djourou. Denilson, Arshavin, Cesc and Clichy are all pretty close to a return. Theo should not be out for too long, while Nicklas Bendtner is just about to start full training and may be only a couple of weeks. Kieran Gibbs may be another month or two.
The power of TV in determining the fixtures has to be seriously called into question after ITV have forced our away FA cup tie against Stoke to be played on Sunday the 24th of January. It is absurd to play a game just three days before our crucial league trip to Aston Villa on Wednesday the 27th of January, especially when the week before the Stoke tie is completely free. If I am angry about this then I can only imagine how much Arsene is fuming. The Bolton game tomorrow may see the return of Arshavin and Denilson, the most interesting thing will be who covers Alex Song's holding role. In my eyes Diaby is the only man who can do the defensive job, Denilson is just a bit too easy to get past in my opinion, he can melt like butter when defending; although Diaby can be erratic, the lad can defend and it he keeps his discipline he can do the job for us.
Not sure Diaby is the right man to fill in for Song. He has been transformed since he moved into a more forward-looking role and he doesn't have Song's discipline for the defensive role. Denilson would be my preferred option if he's fit. If not, we have no choice but to use Diaby. Ramsey is not quite there yet and, in any case, seems more of a Gerrard type player to me.
Its going to be an interesting one for sure. I suspect that if he can, AW will pick Diaby, Denilson and Cesc in the middle. Whilst we all have some doubts about Denilson, its clear from his number of appearances that AW rates him as a first choice player.
I like Denilson but he has his strengths and weaknesses, and based on these I don't think he can play the holding role.
He is a very good player technically, good touch, excellent passer, plus he makes some good forward runs and has a good shot from distance.
He isn't great in the air, he is a reasonable tackler, but most problematically for me he isn't good at holding people up, he commits to the tackle too easily and dives in too frequently, he also lacks the speed over a few yards to be able to recover when beaten in the midfield.
Diaby has been fantastic in a more attacking role but I reckon he is much better at defending one on one, he's better in the air, he's also stronger on the ball.
Realistically Diaby and Denilson will have to cover in between them and they will both have to play with discipline if we are to protect the back four adequately.
I just don't see Denilson as a Song replacement at all, he just isn't a great defender. I know some people think he is, but from what I've seen he just doesn't do that in games, I think people have an image of Denilson that is very different to what he actually is. He's much more of a Cesc than a Song.
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