Thursday 14 June 2012

Arsenal could cash in on rivals' instability, Squillaci & Park

It is not normally the business of this website to discuss goings-on at other clubs. However the departure of Harry Redknapp at Spurs and the appointment of Roberto Di Matteo at Chelsea gives us Arsenal fans something to chew on. From our point of view, we need to know whether Chelsea and Spurs will push as hard next season for our much-coveted Champions League spot.

Looking at Spurs first, you have to say under Redknapp they were much more formidable despite not winning any trophies. You just have to look at their finishing league positions under Harry to realise. He bought wisely and his team played attractively, hence the link to the England manager's job.

Luckily for us, the Spurs chairman Daniel Levy has a tendency to self-destruct, in my opinion. It makes me appreciate the stability offered by the Arsenal Board of Directors who have stuck by managers and not dismissed them at the drop of a hat or a point. Stability maybe boring to some but at least it leads to success. Ask Manchester United!

Lots of Spurs fans are fearing the worst, and unless they can appoint someone as good as Jose Mourinho I think the only way is down for them. All the names being bandied about as Redknapp successors are inferior to Harry and I think the best they can hope for next season is a mid-table finish. It wouldn't surprise me if they sacked their next manager halfway through the season. Trigger-happy chairman tend to do that.

Talking of trigger-happy chairman, how long can Di Matteo stay at Chelsea as boss? Not that long is the answer. He's been given a two-year contract and I will be surprised if he sees that out. The Di Matteo has a huge challenge on his hands next season as the team is in transition. However, I expect Chelsea to finish above Spurs but below Arsenal. That, ultimately, will not be good enough for a Roman Abramovic.

We have to thank our lucky stars that our board have more about them than the chairmen of our London rivals. So for once, I'd like to praise our board the sterling work they've done. However, there is always room for improvement, so let's hope we take the opportunity this summer to put some distance between us and the two teams down the road.

There is some encouraging news on the transfer front with Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger refusing to comment on the possibility of the club raiding Montpellier for striker Olivier Giroud. claim that Wenger was asked the question on French TV. He apparently told TF1: "I won't say anything to you. Even under torture!"

We are hearing a deal worth €14.8 million is set to be concluded shortly with some websites claiming that the 25-year-old France international striker will temporarily leave the French training camp in order to put pen to paper on a €60,000 per week deal. I can't see it myself, I think we will have to wait until France are knocked out of Euro 2012. As long as it happens before the Premier league season begins, I will be happy. Perhaps that is the "exciting news" that Arsenal CEO Ivan Gazidis is promising.

Meanwhile, moving out of the club could be Sebastien Squillaci. Newly-promoted Bastia want the French defender to add experience to their back four for their forthcoming Championnat season. There is also interest from Evian (good for rehydration) and Brest (cue smutty jokes). Most fans will be happy for the 31-year-old to move on at any price after an unsuccessful stint at the Emirates.

The word "unsuccessful" brings to mind Park Chu-Young. Arsenal's South Korean striker is in hot water it seems regarding the controversy surrounding his military service, or lack of. He recently told a press conference in his native country: "I understand that there was a huge controversy concerning my military service. I would like to apologise for all the trouble this caused, and for letting people down.

"I learned a lot about football while playing with AS Monaco for three years. I started dreaming of learning more in Europe as a football player. But even though I delayed my military service, I never plan to emigrate or avoid it altogether.

"I submitted a handwritten letter to the Military Manpower Administration pledging to fulfil my military duty, and I promise again that I intend to honour that."

Who knows, perhaps, the furore this has caused has affected Park's form. When he was granted a ten-year residence permit in March this year by the principality of Monaco it meant that he could delay his military service until 2022, by which time he will be 37-years-old.

However, now that he has been named in South Korea's Olympic squad, there is a possibility he could be excused military service completely. Well, if South Korea team manage to win a medal that is. Park seems to be really going for it given that he's now training in Japan, having outstayed his 60-day permission to remain in South Korea while resident in another country.

From an Arsenal perspective, we can only hope that Park plays well enough to secure himself a move to another club with us recouping most of the transfer fee we paid out last summer.

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