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Sil-ly Season

Nothing surprises me in football, even in my relatively young life I have seen the most bizarre things imaginable. I have a tee shirt at home that bears testament with the legend, 'I was there when Jensen scored.' Nothing surprises me......and then Arsenal signed Mikael Silvestre. Well blowme down with a feather, hands up who saw that coming. I know Arsene likes to spring a surprise but this really knocked me for six when Iogged onto the interweb this morning. Now the signing is confirmed on the official site and we've all had a few hours to get our heads around this, I thought no lengthy dissertation is really necessary, just a simple presentation of the pros and cons.

Silvestre is experienced to the tune of 249 Premiership appearances, 40 international caps for France (in the era of Thuram, Desailly and Gallas), four Premiership titles, a Champions League winners medal, an FA Cup and a League Cup.

At 31 he adds experience to a young squad at a cheap price and fills a short term gap as cover for Clichy whilst Traore and Gibbs are able to spend a year on loan or try to play in their more natural left wing position.

This April he played in a Champions League Quarter Final, so he can be trusted to come in and do a job in big games.

His departure weakens United. With Neville permanently injured and the da Silva twins boasting 16 minutes of Premiership experience between them, United's defensive cover looks, well, it looks a bit like John O'Shea. A big injury at the back could see United regret this.

His time at United seems to suggest that he's not a particularly curmudgeonly little so and so. In his time at United, he generally kept his mouth shut and his head down.

He has a great deal to offer our youngsters, until eighteen months ago he had been an established member of United's starting line up. He will require no adaption time and has already played with Gallas. As a cerebral member of our squad this is a low risk and sensible acquisition.

If Ferguson deems him surplus to requirements, why should he be good enough for Arsenal? Indeed, Ferguson obviously doesn't believe he has strengthened us that much or else he would not have sanctioned the signing.

If Robert Pires was considered too old for a two year contract, why has Mikael Silvestre earned one?

Only a year ago, Silvestre suffered a cruciate ligament injury. At 31 how can we be sure he is anything like the player he was? Our medical staff have hardly covered themselves in glory over the last two years and their medical examination of Rosicky can't have involved much more than a cursory kick of the tyres.

It hardly suggests confidence in Traore, Senderos and Djourou. And a 31 year old United reject doesn't quite scream ambition from the rooftops.

Surely our need is for an aerially dominant hulk of a defender to play alongside Gallas or Toure? Silvestre doesn't seem to fit the mould for what we need. Gallas is a fine back up left back.

Gallas, Diarra, Silvestre, is it me or are we signing a lot of French players with weird shaped heads? I mean, that lot could pass themselves off as the cast of that Dan Akroyd film Coneheads.

My view is that I'm not as angered as others are, Silvestre is a low cost, low risk gamble who offers cover and experience across the whole backline. But my issue is not with Arsenal's ambition or anything of that ilk (though I mean it when I say I'm concerned about the Pinky and the Brain style heads), but I'm not entirely sure he's what we really require. It's not what he is, but what he isn't that troubles me. But like I said, it's hardly the signing that's going to send us all to hell in a little rowboat. If Clichy pulls a hamstring next week, this is a smart purchase.LD.

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

The Journalist

Writer: Tim Stillman Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Wednesday August 20 2008

Time: 9:20PM

Your Comments (oldest first)

Change to most recent first
Anyone remember Mario Kart? Silvestre is the spitting image of Toad!
Little Dutch
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20/08/2008 21:22:00

I don't remember him LD and that is more because of the news. My brain is still trying to figure out how AW thinks. I hope the season proves me wrong but he is not what we need to be frank....I'm so sad :(..please cheer me up Le Boss and sign a DM..pleasseeeeeeee :(
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20/08/2008 21:38:00

Henry also has a big melon head. :-) I can deal with this as long as we're still getting a midfielder. I see the pros of this signing, despite the worries about his injury record. Still, it's such a crazy signing. 31 yrs old! A manc who used to diss Arsenal and headbutted Freddie! What a crazy unpredictable manager we have. I've been in shock all day. Now I'm just...well...still shocked!
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20/08/2008 21:39:00

There were times post 2002 when I could have headbutted Ljungberg. The most over rated Arsenal player of modern times. But that's another story. I don't think this is a signing to be sad about, but it's not one to be happy about. Did anyone ever see that Simpsons episode when Homer says to Marge at the end, "I don't know if this is a happy ending or a sad ending." And Marge says, "it's an ending, that's enough." Kind of how I feel about this, it's a signing, that's pretty much all I can say right now!
Little Dutch
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20/08/2008 21:42:00

With his recent injury record this is a huge gamble. It seems Wenger has developed a taste for the wager, what with Bischoff's surprise purchase. The truth is we are bargain hunting because its what we can afford at the present time. If we had the moolah to buy someone like Richards from City we would have done it by now. Clearly were skint.
Wyn Mills
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20/08/2008 21:44:00

Yeah Jaelle I was gonna say - doesn't Thierry have a big brain at the back of his head too? He's just got a prettier face than the other guys... And I'm also with you - as long as we're getting the DM that we desperately need, I don't mind who these backup signings are cos the boss has enough trust to bring them in.
Lou the Gunneress
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20/08/2008 21:45:00

am completely baffled by this one!
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20/08/2008 21:48:00

Why would SAF offload a player on the Gooners the football world asks? Is he crocked or has he no respect for your chances in the league?
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20/08/2008 21:48:00

Hey, would the reason for Arsene's bargain-hunting be that he's saving his budget for a relatively big signing to come? (I'm an optimist..)
Lou the Gunneress
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20/08/2008 21:53:00

Word on the vitalfootball streets is that the arsenal medical test, requires playing a match of Pro Evolution Soccer and table football with the doctors.
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20/08/2008 21:56:00

If you've ever seen this guy play then you'll know hes like David James, expect a costly cock-up each match or two, SAF knows what he's doing ;)
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20/08/2008 22:01:00

Lol thats a different way of thinking about the situation Lou. Personally I think it is a solid defensive acquisition that will help bolster our squad.
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20/08/2008 22:02:00

Why don't we give the player a chance? Everyone has been crying out for experience and for someone like him who is versatile as well as experienced, not too expensive and not likely to be around for long enough to 'kill' the youngsters. Seems reasonable to take a chance on him. LD I thought it was knee ligament damage not a cruciate injury? Also, doesn't Wenger believe that defenders peak later and therefore I can see why he would give a defender a 2 year contract and not a forward player? I'm also sure the midfielder is still coming as this sounds like a last minute opportunity not to be missed not something that has been planned for a while.
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20/08/2008 22:03:00

I view this signing as a positive. Very little upfront risk because of the low cost. We were lucky Clichy was injury free all year and apparently never ran out of gas, but now we have someone to give Gael a comfortable day off from time to time. We have someone who has seen big games but knows he's near the end so he won't be making noise about playing time. Most importantly, we didn't sign him instead of anyone else. Arsene was clear that he wasn't in the market for a central defender even though we all wished he was. Good buy for a stopgap if you ask me. Bischoff is a different story. Low cost, low risk. Either he comes in and turns into a great Arsenal player, a decent player we sell on for a profit, or he never becomes fit and we've lost nothing. Very low risk. These aren't the signings Arsene has been promising. Now give me my commanding DM please. :)
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20/08/2008 22:04:00

"...and their medical examination of Rosicky can't have involved much more than a cursory kick of the tyres." brilliant.
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20/08/2008 22:06:00

Pires was offered a one year contract when less than 6 months short of his 33rd birthday. That would be roughly the same age , all but a couple of months, as Silvestre will be when his contract ends. Also the physical demands of playing in defense aren't as great as playing in midfield - certainly not wide midfield anyway.
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20/08/2008 22:10:00

With the signing of Silvestre, Sanderos will most probably be sold. Seriously who do you guys prefer? My pick is the former. Also, we may not see the signing of a DM after all. There is indication that either Djorou, Song or even Toure may move up to protect the back four. I think Song is more likely
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20/08/2008 22:13:00

OFF-topic: you'll be glad to hear that Clichy did not play in the Sweden friendly. However, Gallas and Sagna did. Apparently Sagna played very well, he provided a fantastic assist for a beautiful Benzema goal. Which means Domenech's finally giving him some serious attention -- not good news for us.
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20/08/2008 22:14:00

GKid I'm serious! Passenal put it better than I did. Arsene should have budgeted for a DM with a reasonable amount set aside long ago (when he let Flam and Gilberto go) cos that's such a glaring hole in the team. But Silvestre and the Bischoff kid (free transfer, just his wages, very limited downside as Smith said) sound like some bargains that Arsene walks down the street, bumps into them, he thought ah good deal, grab and go kind of thing. So I think it's got nothing to do with the DM vacancy and Arsene will bring in a guy to play that more important role.
Lou the Gunneress
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20/08/2008 22:18:00

lol jaelle, I bet Sagna is happy to finally get his chance. Now its Clichy's time too..I have a feeling that Toure will be our new DM..anyone feeling the same?
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20/08/2008 22:19:00

From your keyboard, Lou, to the ears of the football gods, please!
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20/08/2008 22:27:00

How about Toure slotting into midfield? I'm not an expert on Silvestre but I think he'd be a good partner for Gallas, and Kolo will provide presence and that defensive edge to the midfield, saving us £8M-15M in the process by not purchasing Inler, Alonso or Barry. I'm not Silvestre's biggest fan, I think he's past his best, but I do agree this could be good. And when Clichy is feeling just a little tired after 60 lung-busting games, Silvestre can slot in there. With Djourou looking promising and Song apparently having a great tournament in China, things are looking good in the defensive department. Time will tell, but this could be one of Wenger's shrewdest bits of business or a complete waste of time...
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20/08/2008 22:29:00

united reject
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20/08/2008 22:32:00

Just thinking that although Nasri was something like our second highest fee paid, Wenger has "made up for that" you could say with some real bargains. So for under £18M we've signed an extremely promising attacking midfielder, destined for the very top, and energetic, intelligent (British, worth a mention I guess) young midfielder, a young (crocked at the minute) versatile midfielder and a vastly experienced, versatile defender. But of course, if it floats your boat you could pay a little extra for Robbie Keane...
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20/08/2008 22:35:00

Maybe this is the reason for the stopgap signing - to let some youngster(s) gain exp on loan while we have a more solid backup than Djourou/Senderos/Traore/Gibbs to mount a more solid challenge this year? And CB/LB combined, this old head could get some decent games (when he's fit)? e.g. this:
Lou the Gunneress
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20/08/2008 23:02:00

Imagine Ade, Eboue and Silvetre in the starting line up...I feel very sick.
Professor Calculus
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20/08/2008 23:21:00

This is a low risk signing. At best, he provides experience and adds another body to our squad (which I think is 2 players away from competing season long, so thats one down), at worst, he does nothing and costs us a few bob which the club can afford. I agree with LD & Passenal who'v made the more reasoned arguments here. Btw, his preferred position is CB, not LB. So he will be offering competition to Toure & Gallas for a starting place. Now that I find a bit strange coz the only thing that partnership does not do well is handle the long balls, and I dont see Silvestre solving that problem.
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20/08/2008 23:23:00

Pires was an attacking midfielder that had gotton too old and weary to put up with the rigours of the premier League. Rosicky would have vindicated Wengers decision had he not been injured all the time.
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20/08/2008 23:35:00

whatever made manutd let him leave for arsenal...
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20/08/2008 23:43:00

I guess, Rosicky needs company in the medical room. Anyway, it's low risk signing so I'm not as bother as some, but I hope this is not the only "body" that Wenger is suggesting. We still need an experienced defensive midfielder, Inler or Xabi Alonso, perhaps?
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21/08/2008 00:26:00

This has certainly come out of left field, a very big suprise. To be honest i can't really add anymore to what has already been said, He's a low risk signing with a fee of reportedly only 750k, covers CB/LB positions, but i think he will most likely be used as a back up for Clichy. He does admit though his favored position is centre back though. Judging from the interview he gave ATVO I think he might be given more first team opportunities than we think. He says 'I left United especially because I didn't want to spend anymore time on the bench. After 9 years I didn't want to spend an extra one waiting for the testemonial to arrive, its not my mentality and I was looking for a new challenge and when Arsenal come in you can't really say no and hopefully I can get more games than when I was at United' lets give the guy a chance to prove himself with us 1st before we criticise him. The only 2 reasons for him losing is first team place was his injuries over the past couple of years and then the subsequent partnership between Vidic and Ferdinand, and with that experience, who knows, a fresh start in new surroundings might make him a better player for us.
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21/08/2008 00:38:00

does this mean wenger doesnt see kolo and billy as a viable partnership for the long term? im thinking kolo might be the new DM. im not against this signing but i am a bit wary due to silvestre's recent injuries.
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21/08/2008 03:54:00

Possibly the most unexpected signing ive ever seen that, well except the day i saw sol campbell walking up the road with arsene wenger in a suit days after announcing hes a Spurs supporter and would never betray the fans to join arsenal. It may be a clever signing for you guys, but lets be honest he was the weak link in the Utd team for years. You can it now "Arsene theres a 31 year old experienced injury prone defender available". Wenger replies "non monsieur". But Arsene, he is FRENCH!!! " oh la la sign him up"
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21/08/2008 09:33:00

I don't think this changes our starting line-up when everyone's fit, and i don't think that this is the last signing (though AW doesn't seem to read our posts and is clearly his own man, so who knows?) It will certainly be intriguing to see how the season plays out, with one more signing we would have a very strong squad and a lot of versatility. I for one am hopeful, and this signing only bolsters my confidence. (can't believe he wears an Arsenal shirt though. that'll take a while to get used to!)
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21/08/2008 09:40:00

He was never injury prone, he just picked up one BIG injury, that's like saying Eduardo is injury prone because someone snapped his leg in half, total bo**ocks! He is still quick and strong, can play left back, and centre back, has loads of experience and a winners mentality, he also costs less than a pittance, where is the problem. How can any sain, rational Arsenal supporter disagree with this signing. it would be foolish to do so............Huddersfield, he's probably what your teams rather shambolic defence could do with right now aswell!!!!
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21/08/2008 09:51:00

are Traore, Senderos and Djourou good for big games? i am not sure about u, but i dun think they are not consistent enough.
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21/08/2008 09:53:00

i support this signing.
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21/08/2008 09:57:00

matt, I hope Djourou won't go out on loan, i like the guy and i hope he gets the chance to compete. senderos is the one i'm not sure about at all, Traore needs experience imo.
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21/08/2008 10:00:00

Honestly i think this is not a bad piece of business. Has loads of experience that will help our team and will cover at LB or CB if there are any injury concerns. I do not have faith in Traores defensive ability at this point in time and he has said he prefers the LM gig.
Aussie Gooner
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21/08/2008 10:30:00

good, buy, imo. for 750k.
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21/08/2008 11:16:00

Last year we all moaned that while we have got ample talent we lacked a bit of experience at times and we were a few players short in the squad. We add another player with experience for very little. Has to be a plus. Maybe if Wenger brought on some experience in later stages of the Birmingham or Liverpool UCL games we might have finished last year very differently.
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21/08/2008 11:24:00

The same toads moaning last year about our lack of experience will now be moaning about this signing. Fack em, some people will never be happy and unfortunatly, it seems that it applies to Gooners more than any other set of supporters, very, very sad!
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21/08/2008 13:41:00

You're taking the Mik! hahaha, ok i'll go now...
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21/08/2008 13:43:00

A versatile experienced player, definitely not a bad signing possibly an average one but he will be dependable in the face of an injury crisis.
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21/08/2008 16:07:00

BTW who's to blame for this atrocious title. Heads must roll ;-)
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21/08/2008 16:08:00

Silvestre is exactly the type of squad player we've been lacking. Experienced, talented, and versatile. Given the fact he's come very cheap, I don't get how anyone can consider this a bad signing!!!
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21/08/2008 17:30:00

i think its a good signing for you, i think the thing you missed last season was experience and he gives you that. i must say im gobsmacked that fergie sold one of his players to one of his rivals..... he must be going soft :)
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21/08/2008 20:21:00

i still think AW is going to rely on Song, Denilson or Diaby to fill in the DM position. Song is probably going to be the most successful in the role.
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22/08/2008 08:47:00

Imagine Ade, Eboue and Silvetre in the starting line up...I feel very sick. Professor Calculus-----Thats it ProfC, positive thinking eh?
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22/08/2008 11:11:00

nelson vivas / oleg luzny / gilles grimandi / remi guarde all over again. 5 games if hes lucky. our bench has warmer seats too.
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22/08/2008 21:12:00

HuddersfieldYiddo, at least this French wants to play in our team, can't say the same with your sulking Bulgarian. Anyway, with poor performances by Dawson and King wants to go to nightclub on the night before a match, you need Silvestre more than us.
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23/08/2008 08:50:00


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