Who will Robin Van Persie sign for if he is allowed to leave Arsenal?

The transfer saga that will dominate the headlines this summer will once again involve Arsenal and their captain.

This time it is Robin Van Persie when in previous years it has been Cesc Fabregas, however it does still go even further back than that with both Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira getting linked away from the club every summer. I am not going to go into whether Arsenal are a ‘selling club’ or not because they in my opinion work the transfer market the right way by basically living within their means and even though the fans may not like it, they must accept it.

Van Persie has scored 132 goals in 279 games for Arsenal

I am going to focus more on Van Persie and you can see why he is being linked with the champions from a lot of countries around Europe after last season as he was phenomenal and was probably the best player in the Premier League. He scored 37 goals last season in all competitions but Arsenal still failed to win a trophy and you can understand the reason he wants to leave the club as even with his impressive goal tally, they never looked like winning the Premier League (mostly because of a poor start) and were easily knocked out of the Champions League after a very poor first leg.

Most clubs in the world would love to have the Dutchman in their squads but surely there are only a few that he would want to join. Unsurprisingly, Manchester City are the favourites to sign him and out of everyone in the Premier League I personally think this is the only team he would contemplate signing for. City have bought quite a few players from Arsenal including Samir Nasri last summer so they know they can do business with Arsenal and they won’t refuse to sell RVP to them. But in my opinion they would have to sell a striker first as they have Edin Dzeko, Carlos Tevez, Sergio Aguero and Mario Balotelli all fighting for a first team place already. Personally, I would only have Van Persie over Dzeko so I don’t see the need of them signing him but they will probably try anyway.

Juventus are also heavily linked with RVP and you can see it is because they lack a real goal scorer in their team and if they want to challenge for the Champions league next season then they most definitely need more goals in their side with Alessandro Matri only getting 10 league goals and Mirko Vucinic not even hitting double figures, they need someone that is going to get at least 20 goals. Andrea Pirlo showed at the Euros that he can still be a brilliant player and RVP would score goals for fun with his playmaking abilities. At times, Van Persie made Alex Song look like a pass master with his movement so imagine how good Pirlo will look.

Finally, Barcelona are also linked with him and yet again it is not very surprising to see their name come up however some of the rumours are. If they sign the Arsenal man, they may be looking to offload David Villa who is now 30 and has been out for eight months with a broken leg. If I was negotiating this deal I would definitely try and make it a swap deal. I think Villa is a better player than Van Persie and if he can recapture his form before he suffered his injury then he could actually make Arsenal a better team.

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Player of the day- Xavi

Spain have created history by winning their third major international competition in a row and they deserved their victory after yet another scintillating performance.

Firstly, though I did feel sorry for the Italians and it is always sad to see professional footballers crying on the pitch and to see players like Gianluigi Buffon and Andrea Pirlo looking on with tears in their eyes was not easy to watch. They were gracious in defeat even though they lost 4-0 and in all honesty were never in the game. David Silva opened the scoring after some good work from Cesc Fabregas and it was all downhill from there, as Jordi Alba scored a second just before half time after an exquisite through ball from Xavi. The game was almost over and then when Thiago Motta had to go off injured, that was it they had no chance of getting back into it as they had already used all three substitutes. Then the game turned into the Fernando Torres show who had been wrote off a few times during the tournament but the man could be back as he has finished with the golden boot as he got a goal and the assist which he needed to take over Mario Gomez. His finish was superb as he beat the onrushing Buffon with ease then after being played through again he played it to his Chelsea teammate Juan Mata to put the ball into the net.

Man of the match- Xavi- For me he was the difference between the sides and he played slightly different to usual as it seemed like he was told to push on more. Not only did he dictate play for Spain, he also stopped Pirlo playing and made him look his age. His through ball to Alba for the second goal was in my opinion the pass of the tournament and not many other players in the world could have played it with the right amount of weight. It was a perfect performance from him as he hardly gave the ball away and won the ball high up the field. Italy didn’t have an answer to him and he just outshone Andres Iniesta and Xabi Alonso.

Xavi has 115 caps for Spain

Player of the day- Jordi Alba

Spain and Italy are the next two teams to qualify for the knockout stages and eliminated Croatia and Ireland in the process.

Ireland were already out of the competition but they were still looking to win their final game however they were beaten 2-0 by Italy which put a lot on the other game as both Spain and Croatia could have went out. Antonio Cassano and Mario Balotelli scored the goals and sent them through in second place.

Spain as expected had most of the ball in their game but Croatia easily had the best chances and should have had a penalty. Ivan Rakitic should have scored with a header from a wonderful cross from Luka Modric but he sent it straight at Iker Casillas in the Spain goal. The Spanish did not look confident when defending crosses and Vedran Corluka was clearly being fouled as he jumped up for a header late on but the referee missed. However, Corluka should have scored anyway but it hit his shoulder and went agonisingly over the bar. In the last few minutes substitute Cesc Fabregas chipped a lovely ball through to Andres Iniesta who squared for Jesus Navas to tap in. But, this wasn’t the end of Croatia because if they had scored they would have went through knocking out Spain in the process but they couldn’t really create a clear chance.

Man of the match- Jordi Alba- It was difficult to choose a man of the match because of how well Croatia played and if they had managed to find an equaliser then Luka Modric and Gordon Schildenfeld would have been in contention. But I am giving it to the Spain left back who made countless attacking runs and looked more like a winger than a fullback. Spain weren’t at their best with their main players such as David Silva and Andres Iniesta only being on the edge of the game for the most part and with Xabi Alonso and Xavi not being able to find a killer pass. For me the left back looked most likely from the players that started the game to create something and even though his defending at times wasn’t the best, he managed to make a few important interceptions. As said, it was his attacking intent that impressed me and it just shows in the stats, he made 19 successful passes in the attacking third.

Alba has been linked with a number of clubs this summer including Barcelona and Manchester United

Players of the day- Andrea Pirlo and Mario Mandzukic

The games in Group C kicked off and all eyes were on Spain, Italy, Croatia and Republic of Ireland.

The first game saw Spain kick of the defence of their European Championship against Italy in what showed two very different styles of football. Spain with their short, sharp passing style and Italy with their focus more on defending and counter attacks. As expected Spain had more of the ball but strangely they decided to start the game without a recognised striker so they had six midfielders in their starting line up. However, it was the Italians who had the better opportunities and looked the more likely to score the opening goal which they did through Antonio Di Natale who scored with almost his first touch after coming off the bench with a fantastic finish. But, Spain hit back quickly with a very good goal themselves, David Silva slipped through a perfect through ball for Cesc Fabregas to run onto and score past the advancing Gianluigi Buffon. That is how it ended, but not before Fernando Torres missed two very good opportunities to win the game.

Man of the match- Andrea Pirlo- The midfielder proved his worth to the team and a lot of people that don’t watch Italian football would have been surprised that a player of his age still gets into their national side. Bu for Juventus this season he contributed a lot to their title winning side and provided a lot of assists. His game today was slightly different as he got through a lot of work defensively and had to follow the Spanish midfielders around and he was always there putting them under pressure, forcing them into errors. His pass to set up the goal in my opinion could be the pass of the whole tournament as it was perfectly weighted and allowed Di Natale to finish first time.

Pirlo got 13 assists for Juventus this season

In the second game, the goals came at perfect times for Croatia, just a few minutes into the game they scored, then just before halftime they added another. They finished the game off just after halftime. Ireland did manage to pull back an equaliser to Mario Mandzukic opener through Sean St Ledger but were never really at the races, although they should have had a penalty when Robbie Keane was fouled and Keith Andrews put a few efforts wide. The Croatians just looked the better side and they may not be the best at the back but going forward they will cause Spain and Italy problems.

Man of the match- Mario Mandzukic- The striker looked on top form and scored twice (the second one did hit the post and then Shay Given but I think it should be his goal). He caused the Ireland team so many problems in the air and on the floor, Richard Dunne couldn’t handle him in the air and Sean St Ledger couldn’t handle his movement so they will be happy to see the back of him. He even outperformed Nikica Jelavic which not a lot of players have done since he joined Everton in the Premier League so that shows how well he played. I’m sure Croatia’s playmakers Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic love playing with him as he always makes himself available for a pass and wants to get balls both into his feet and in the air.

Mandzukic has 30 caps for Croatia

Chelsea’s best performance for years is enough to beat Barcelona

Chelsea beat Barcelona 1-0 to give them an excellent chance of qualifying for the Champions League final but it is still a tough task.

Di Matteo has now won 10 of his 13 games in charge of Chelsea

First things first, Barcelona were not at their best and even though they weren’t at their best they still dominated the game and possibly should have won the game. They had numerous chances to work Petr Cech who did pull off a few wonderful saves but on the whole they just missed chances, hitting the woodwork and missing guilt edged opportunities. In particular the Cesc Fabregas chance which was brilliantly cleared off the line by Ashley Cole, but in all honesty should have been a goal and Fabregas should never have given Cole the chance to hack it away.

Onto Chelsea and what has on a whole been quite disappointing, it was  a very good performance by them and the goal they now take to the Nou Camp should give them at least a lift and a bit of confidence. Roberto Di Matteo should be getting praised for what he has done because under Villas Boas the team from London were going out of the Champions League and may have not got as far as they have done in the FA Cup. His team selection turned out to be perfect, choosing Didier Drogba instead of Fernando Torres. This was a very big decision and in the end it made the difference with Drogba scoring the only goal of the game. He may have split opinion on his performance with him at times looking very strong and powerful with the Barcelona defence struggling to cope with him then at other times flopping to the floor at the slightest touch. With a lot of controversy about diving at the minute Drogba didn’t do anything to help the situation but in his defence the opposition players were doing very similar things and maybe it was just a little more embarrassing to watch him do it because of his size. However, I thought he had a decent game and held the ball up well and allowed his team to push out at times, he also took his goal brilliantly.

The defence deserves the most praise out of everyone and that includes John Obi Mikel who was fantastic and sat in the back four cutting out a lot of the little through balls that Barcelona like to play. He did give away a few free kicks in dangerous areas but he kept possession well when he had it and nullified the threat of the oppositions attacking players. In the centre of defence John Terry had arguably one of his best performances for a number of years but man of the match for me was Gary Cahill, for a player to play the way he did just a few months after being in a relegation threatened side was unbelievable. I think Cahill is good but I have said it before that he struggles when a striker has clever movement. He dealt with Lionel Messi better than most this season and even when his team were under pressure he bailed them out with a last ditch tackle or block.

It must have been a fantastic night for the Chelsea fans but they and the team know this tie is not over and it will be a lot more difficult in the away leg but at least they have something to hold onto. There is far more optimism that they will be in the final now than there was when the draw was made.

Arsenal’s Mikel Arteta makes it to 200 games in the Premier League

Mikel Arteta is set to become only the third Spanish players to reach 200 games in the Premier League when Arsenal take on QPR.

Arteta will be trying to help Arsenal finish third season

Cesc Fabregas and Pepe Reina are the only other two to reach the landmark but Arteta will be hoping that he will play a lot more games before he leaves England or retires. He first came to England in the January transfer window of 2005 when he signed for Everton on loan with a view to a permanent move at the end of the season to fill the gap left by the departed Thomas Gravesen. He was relatively unknown to English football even though he had a relatively successful spell in Scotland with Rangers but by the end of the season he was well known all around the country as he showed his fantastic passing abilities and his eye for a goal. He scored the first of his 33 goals for the club against Crystal Palace and was then signed by David Moyes at the end of the season for £2 million which now seems like a bargain.

In his first two full seasons with the Toffees he won the Player of the Year award and it seemed to be a pretty easy choice with him scoring three goals and providing seven assists in the 2005-06 season. The following year he arguably had the best season of his whole career scoring nine times and finishing third in the assists table in the entire Premier League with 12. In my opinion, Moyes deserves credit for Arteta’s career in England because he had been playing as more of a holding midfielder for his previous clubs and was just sitting in front of the back four so he could play passes but Moyes changed his game and made him more of an attacking midfielder so his passes would create more chances for teammates to score. In his remaining years at Everton, he didn’t quite hit the same amount of goals or assists but he was still very consistent and was one of the most underrated players in the Premier League. The Everton fans loved him but I think a lot of other fans didn’t quite see how effective he was but in their defence, to see how good he is you probably have to watch him for a full 90 minutes.

At the age of 30, it seemed to me like he was going to stay at Everton for the rest of his career but Arsenal reportedly offered £10 million for him. It must have been hard to take for the Everton fans that he got sold but in their manager and chairman’s defence they got a lot of good service out of him and made a profit of £8 million on him. He already has five goals for the Gunners and three assists which shows that his career is not coming to an end anytime soon. His free kick against Aston Villa was one of the best this season and with him already captaining the side in an FA Cup game against Leeds United, he could still play a very important part in Arsenal’s future.

Thierry Henry- The return of the Gunners legend

With a weekend of retuning legends, Thierry Henry has overshadowed Paul Scholes and looks every bit as good as when he left all those years ago for Barcelona. He may not have the pace anymore but he knows where the space is and he exploited it magnificently in his second debut against Leeds in the FA cup.

Yes it is against lower opposition but Henry did what Chamakh couldn’t in 68 minutes and that was score against a resolute Leeds defence. The way he moved inside the full back was clever and then he showed the finesse to coolly slot the ball past the advancing keeper as he has done so many times for Arsenal.

He might just give Arsenal the spark they need to challenge for honours once again and Arsene Wenger may be glad he brought him back and even just on this one cameo performance may be regretting ever letting him go in the first place.

His celebration showed everyone he still has the passion and wears the Gunners shirt with pride and the way he hugged his gaffer shows the respect he has for the man that made him the player he is essentially. Henry signed for Arsenal after a poor spell in Italy and the fans were probably struggling to work out why Wenger was so desperate to get him and paid then what seemed to be a lot of money which now seems insignificant after all the goals he scored and there have been some special ones. The one that springs to mind the most is when he flicked the ball up for himself and volleyed it past fellow Frenchman Fabien Barthez in a massive game against title challengers Manchester United. Simply, the audacity to try that in such a big game shows that he doesn’t let pressure get to him and he can turn it on in the big games which many of Arsenal’s big stars have failed to do in recent seasons.

Arsenal fans will be wishing that the loan lasts only two months because he could prove the big difference between them winning trophies and flattering to deceive as they have done so many times. If he had been in the team against Birmingham City in the Carling Cup final would the result have been any different?

The frightening thing is if he can produce the goods and strike up a  good partnership with currently the most in form striker in the Premier League Robin Van Persie then Arsenal will once again be a team that everyone fears.

Looking at things that have changed at Arsenal, there is no Fabregas, Pires, Ljungberg, Vieira or Bergkamp so he will have to play alongside the inconsistent Walcott, the promising but young midfielder Aaron Ramsey and the sometimes lazy Andrei Arshavin but what Wenger is hoping for along with goals is that he can mentor these players and teach them things as he did against Leeds, whilst sitting on the bench, Arshavin put a shot over the bar and straightaway Henry leaned into Walcott and gave him some tips on what to do in that situation and the England international seemed to be hanging on his every word.

His teammates may not be as good as they once were but he could still light up the Premier League with a hatful of goals and majestic performances we all know he is capable of. He hasn’t lost his footballing ability. So can he bring the va va voom back to the Premier League