Gourcuff is Not the Answer, but Flamini’s New Deal might be…

Starting the day with some Teutonic team news: Jens Lehmann is set to be recalled for tonight’s line-up against Steaua Bucharest, although it is far from a permanent reinstatement. From Wenger’s vibes, Almunia is being rested in preperation for Sunday’s Chelsea clash, and Lehmann may have to pull out all the stops against Steaua to even get a look in. How many shots he’ll actually have to deal with is another question, but Wenger has had nothing but praise for the German, saying:

At the moment I expect him to play well tomorrow. His attitude has been fantastic and when you look at this man the one thing you cannot fault is he is a super professional. Jens is an example for everybody. For every goalkeeper it is good to practice, but at some stage you need to play at a competitive level. It is not a present. It is to keep him fit and competitive. If Jens plays well it does not create a problem.

Why should it be a problem if a player plays well? It is a problem if he doesn’t play well. For all of us the only target is to do well for the club – and we can only do that if we perform well.

Which, given his ‘humiliation’ rants to the press, is a bit confusing to hear. Wenger notoriously protects his players in spite of what they may say to the press, and Lehmann is just proving the rule. The keeper certainly has frosted up the previously glowing relationship he had with the fans with his comments. Despite this, a commited performance tonight is all one can ask from him.

The commitment line follows with a new Arsenal favourite about to be awarded with a new contract. Mathieu Flamini looks set to sign a new five-year deal with Arsenal after some tremendous performances since the beginning of the season. The young Frenchman has established himself as a critical cog in this Arsenal side – my hat is doffed to the man, and long may his form continue. Estimates in the papers cite his new salary as close to £40,000 a week – I could do with that myself.

Another young player doing his damn-near best to get into the starting lineup is the Danish Robbie Williams Nicklas Bendtner, who is eyeing up more starts in the first team. Admitting it’s no easy task, Bendtner has stated that whatever chances do come his way, he plans to take – certainly a different fair from the rumours we were hearing of his ‘demands’ for first team action.

It also certainly rules out the rediculous Chelsea links that popped up a number of days ago – this kind of talk surely shows that he knows his current limits as a young player, and is willing to work his way into the team. No bench-warming temptations for the Dane, sorry to say.

Sky Sports have popped William Gallas’ comments on Arsenal’s charity of choice, Treehouse, back on the web. Though they were made a few days ago, it never got reported on Third-Gen, but it’s worthwhile to reflect on how Gallas has adapted to his new club, his captaincy, and how the club’s class rubs off on the most unexpected of people.

Of course, the reason why you’re all here is to read about the new big player that we’re being linked with (again), being Yohann Gourcuff of AC Milan. Both the Daily Mail and the Telegraph have linked us with the player we trailed two years ago when playing for Rennes, only for him to favour a move to the match-fixing Italian club.

Of course, neither papers provide any quotes from ‘unnamed sources’, and while he may be struggling to be making his way into Milan’s ageing side (as gifted a player as he is), it’s seeming a rather fanciful signing. He would more than likely feature on the right wing should be purchased in the January window, in place of the ACN-destined Eboue.

My only fear with such a player (apart from the fact he is cup-tied) is that he reminds me a bit of Ljungberg in his pomp, perhaps with a slightly more lethal shot. The fear stems from whether such a player is able to slot in effectively and provide well for the team. It certainly would be nice to sign another player or two to cover for all the defenders we are losing for ACN – but how Gourcuff would even fit into the team is a mystery for now.

Best to leave this firmly in the ‘rumour’ category, in spite of all the Sportingo’s Tribalfootball’s papers jumping on it. Especially given that David Villa’s linking to Spurs by the same paper lists us as ‘having the edge’ should we make a bid ourselves. Exactly how many strikers do we need? And for how many pounds sterling?

Another rumour, for the fun of it, links us with the prodigal Gillingham fifteen-year old Luke Freeman. Arsenal are favourites to add the youngster to their academy, with Reading and Manchester United competing for his signature.

Chelsea and Liverpool, of course, played their Champions League matches this morning. Congratulations to Liverpool, who did exactly what they had to do, and what we had to do in 2003/04. Where we beat Inter Milan 5-1 in the San Siro, they went and beat Marseilles 4-0 away from home. So congratulations where they are due.

Chelsea, on the other hand, played out a 0-0 against a doomed Valencia side at Stamford Bridge. A review of the match suggests that Pizzaro’s wastefulness rules him out of Sunday’s match at the Emirates, while Shevchenko failed to live up to that scintillating finish against Sunderland with a frustrated display. Wright-Phillips and Lampard were linking up dangerously, and Joe Cole and Kalou are players that need to be kept quiet at the moment.


Previewing tonight’s Steaua Bucharest game, and Wenger has said that his touchline ban for tonight’s game will not matter all that much, given that the match isn’t exactly the most important of our history.

With Chelsea very much on the horizon, the side going in today will have a lot of players rested, making guessing the team tonight slightly perplexing. The big news centres around Lehmann’s temporary reinstatement between the sticks, but also the good news that Diaby and van Persie may very well feature tonight, probably coming off the bench. Cesc and Hleb remain absentees, as well as Flamini, who was widely expected to make the squad for this match. Fingers crossed he is ready for Chelsea.

121207BUCAs already said, picking the team is a little guessy, with only Lehmann a guaranteed start. I’ve picked Gallas, Eboue and Rosicky to remain in play, with Alexander Song to replace Toure on the centre-right. Should Gallas not play, Senderos should take his place.

Midfield remains as tricky as ever, but Diarra should keep his place alongside a choice of Gilberto or Denilson. If the Arsenal preview pics are anything to go by, Gilberto is starting tonight, but his performance against Middlesbrough was particularly lacking. A time to make amends, certainly.

Bendtner should partner Eduardo in an interchangeable 4-4-2/4-5-1, with Eduardo slipping back into the left on occasion. He certainly needs to learn to protect the man behind him more, and we are all waiting for a big performance from the new signing. Hopefully it is coming soon.

The bench should see Almunia, van Persie, Diaby, Senderos, Walcott, Sagna and Toure all waiting for a go, with van Persie, Diaby and Walcott the most likely to come off of it.

That’s all for now. Hopefully there’ll be a win coupled with Sevilla losing, but as mentioned before, it’s mostly irrelevant. I’m off – keep the flags flying high for me.




Filed under Arsenal, Blogging, Champions League

20 responses to “Gourcuff is Not the Answer, but Flamini’s New Deal might be…

  1. Arsenal1508

    Contract year for Flamini. Need to prove performances for more than one season.

    Think about Kanu and all those other players we gave new contracts too after having good seasons…then becoming crap the following seasons.

  2. Steve

    That would be so stupid, offering Flamini a one year deal. He can wait 3 weeks and sign a huge deal with another club and move for free in the summer. Why would he only sign a one year deal? It doesnt make sense. I dont understand what planet some people live on. Yes, Kanu was awful after a new contract but I would argue that was a one off. Henry signed a new deal in May 2003 and I would say his three years upto 2006 were his most productive. When Pires signed a new deal in the Summer of 2003 he was also magnificant. Cesc, the DAY after signing an 8 year deal performed out of his skin in our best performance of last season, away at Reading. New contracts are there to protect the club, motivate the player and tie him to the club for the future.

  3. Steve

    Also, be VERY surprised to see Tomas play. He has had a lot of games recently and seeing as his injuries are all to do with muscle problems, I doubt he will play

  4. Nicodemus

    I’d be shocked if Tomas started or even featured. I think the entire back line will be given a breather as well. Gallas and Tomas are very injury prone. I don’t think they’ll be risked. Hleb and Cesc are going to miss our next EPL game so that leaves Tomas as the creative force. He’s one of the most important players right now.

  5. bal

    yea flamini is a great player…he deserves it…
    and rosiky and gallas shud not play..let senderos adn gilberto get in there..

  6. marty

    rest any one starting on sunday and let the 2nd gen kids play

  7. smith

    great article. We have’nt signed anyone outside the price 12m since buying henry. Dont keep hopes high and it is a slight possibility that he might play for us. A great trasfer deal would be highly rated Marcos Valbuena who worked extremely hard against liverpool in the cl. Flamini is a great player. Gourfran is better than eboue and he looks like the next pires. buy HIM!!!!!

  8. Just on Gourcuff, although I don’t think he would be signed, he is a class player. I have to say he’s nothing really like Ljungberg, he’s more in the Kaka mould; a definite No 10 and quite a big lad at 6’1. He’ll be a top player in years to come but I don’t think he’ll be leaving Milan unless they want to fast-track Alexandre Pato into the first team.

  9. jammathon

    No news on Eagle Street, Spanish Fry? :p

    The comparison to Ljungberg was made with Myles Palmer’s famous ‘Bermuda triangle’ comment in mind – Hleb and Eboue have linked up beautifully in a new found danger on the right wing, and Sagna is hopping into that link up play wonderfully as well.

    I was merely speculating as to whether Gouffran would find that connection as well – Ljungberg, once Bergkamp left, was deserted on the right wing. That was the connection being made. The players are moderately different from each other for sure.

  10. Howard

    I don’t like your comments about Jens. Jens is far the better Gk, has won us titles and cups and is German international. Arsene has given a lot of chances to Almunia but to be honest he’s not up to the task.

    He can’t save us any points. He can save all ordinary shots required of a goalkeeper but when it comes point saving shots like the one pulled by Jens at Old Trafford last year, Almunia flops. Almunia is weak with low shots at his near post, near him and through his legs. He panicks in big games. MANU 2005 when we were beaten 4:2 with him in post. CC and CL finals and the recent MANU game.

    In the Boro game his rush-out from the sticks made Toure to panick and concede the penalty. He’s not up to title chasing quality.

    I think this is the beginning of the end for Almunia and with the Chelsea game coming, another big game, Arsene has seen enough to realise that Almunia don’t have the temperament for the big games. So stop slating Jens, he’s the better GK even though he’s bad attitude, shooting foul with his mouth all the time.

    I personally believe his punishment is over and his rehabilitation has just began.

  11. jammathon

    I’ve always loved Jens. The save against Villareal had me screaming, waking the neighbours up (penalty save was made at about 6:30am or so, local time), and he will always be my favourite keeper.

    His barking to the press, one would imagine, could only have a destabalizing effect on the team – at a time when we’re topping the table when no-one expected us to. Completely unnecessary, and he has a lot of things to do to win back some quarters, in a diminishing scope of time it seems.

    Those slating Almunia, on the other hand, fail to register performances against Tottenham, and Liverpool (especially), where he was acrobatically excellent.

  12. Howard

    You mean against Spurs when Almunia rushed out several occassions unnecessarily and Toure had to bail him out? Jammathon, is that it?

    He panicks in the big games and flops. I’ll prefer Jens till summer when we can buy another top keeper after releasing Jens. Almunia is not suitable for the No.1 position.

  13. Goofle

    Gouffran is a player who can pass, move, shoot, cross and has a great delivery. A lot better backup than Eboue and Walcott.

    If he tries hard enough and adapts well, he could take Rosicky’s place in the team.

  14. jammathon

    Howard, Jens has done similar things all too often. Look at how he deals with corners as prime examples, big or small games. Almunia got his rush perfect when Robbie Keane broke loose (wrongfully called offside).

  15. Howard


    Jens has won title and cups for us, performed excellently in the big games. He’s also played in the world cup for Germany and is still German’s No.1 Gk. Almunia can’t even get a look inside the Spanish camp let alone being given an opportunity because they know he’s not up to it.

    I shake when Almunia is in the sticks as I know any dangerous ball will get in. No ability to save us points like Jens did last season at Old Trafford.

    My vote goes to Jens in the big games. You think Almunia can win us the title? He’s incapable

  16. jammathon

    All I’ll say is that Wenger is spot on in not including Jens, who will continue to undermine the team ethic with his underhand comments.

  17. rockypires

    First time post.
    Ya agree Spainish fry Gourcruff is class act, pace,skill in abudance and could be moulded into a Pires type as he arrives late in the box.
    Most defenitly would love to see him sign. and also he prbably will become available as he duck is waiting to get his chance at Milan.
    Team for me tonight would be

  18. Casicky

    come on!!!!do you actually think we can sign Gourcuff rom Milan when we cant get that young Gouffran from Caen???what planet are you on???NO really what planet are you On???

    Ryan Babel
    Franck Ribery
    Yohann Gourcuff

    its all fantasy,why dont we blog bout facts!!!like what the hell is up with our physio dept,is it we are so unlucky or is it they not experienced enough for this level.and when will Rosicky actually come good???and is Eboue to valuable Wenger is scarede to tick him off incase he sulks????

    some realistic things please!!!

  19. Impressively bad guess today with the team.:P

  20. jammathon

    Heh. The one time thus far the team has been guessed correctly, we lost to Middlesbrough. :p

    Consider it a good thing. So long as I get no more than 2 players wrong, Im happy. So should you. *shakes fist*.

    Blog to be finished soon.