Latest Premier League Gossip: Arsenal, Manchester United, Manchester City, Tottenham, Fulham, West Ham, Birmingham, Middlesbrough, Derby, Chelsea’s Mark Apostolou provides guest coverage of the Premier League rumour mill daily, or whenever he can be arsed.

It seems that Arsenal could be set for a takeover of the Russian kind (AFP). It is claimed that billionaire Alisher Usmanov could be about to battle with Stan Kroenke for control of the club.

Could David Dein be on his way back to the club? Who knows, I don’t claim to have a huge knowledge of the financial ramifications behind recent moves at the Emirates but it does look like something significant could be brewing.

How do Arsenal fans feel about the latest investor and what his involvement might mean to their beloved club?

Would it matter to Gunners fans that their latest investor is a mad Manchester United fan? News of the World reports. Probably not – as long as he’s not a Spurs supporter, too! Usmanov’s London office is apparently chock-a-block with United memorabilia, so at least he’s not trying to hide his colours. However, there are some concerns within the club about the gas and steel magnate, whose fortune is estimated at $5.5 billion by Forbes magazine.

A source close to Arsenal, speaking on condition of anonymity, said inquiries were being made into Usmanov, especially in the light of Thaksin Shinawatra, the former Thai prime minister who bought  Manchester City and who is the target of an arrest warrant by his own country (AFP). Watch this space, I am sure things will hot up in the boardroom in the coming weeks.

Martin Jol is understandably upset at his Spurs side’s late capitulation in the 3-3 draw at Fulham. (Independent). “You can’t concede goals like the third, from a throw-in,” he rapped. ”We have to cut out these mistakes, they make it difficult to win games. I can’t say we are unfortunate all the time but we have to defend better. If it is a wonderful attack with lots of one-twos….. but a corner kick?”

The Dutchman’s job is supposedly still on the line, but he’s right to feel aggrieved as his side could easily have come away from the last two matches with six points instead of the one they managed.

West Ham
chairman Eggert Magnusson is certain the team will succeed because he “feels semi-English” (Observer). And club owner Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson explained in The Guardian: ”We are close to England, only two-and-a-half hours away from you, so we sometimes consider ourselves as semi-English. We know the culture. We are not coming from Asia or far away. I’m wondering whether with foreign owners it’s about where you come from. It might be more of an issue if they don’t, for example, play so much soccer in America.” (The Guardian)

With regards to investors from countries where football is not thought of as highly as it is in Europe, Gudmundsson may have a point. However, there is an argument that one’s interest in a sport doesn’t really come into it. Football is, after all, a business and I guess the most crucial thing a chairman or owner must posses is a knowledge of how to run a company, or in this case a football club.

Bungling Arsenal keeper Jens Lehmann tried to make a deadline-day return to to one of his old clubs in Germany, Schalke (Mail on Sunday). However, Arsene Wenger was loathe to lose the veteran shot dropper as he needed more time to find a replacement.

Expect Jens to get a run-out in the Carling Cup, where he will no doubt struggle to deal with a cross shot and end up wrapped around the post with the ball nestling in the back of the net. There is no doubt that Lehmann has had more good days than bad over this entire Gunners career but now it seems time has run out for the 37-year-old keeper.

You can always count on Birmingham boss Steve Bruce to give it to you straight and when asked about his side’s performance in the 2-0 defeat at  Middlesbrough, he said there were “absolutely no positives” and that his side were “woeful” (Independent). This makes a pleasant change from the efforts of some coaches to convince you that being soundly thrashed does in fact serve some purpose.

Derby County manager Billy Davies could take note after his observation following his side’s 6-0 drubbing at Liverpool. ”I am very confident that in time we will get it right in this division,” he said. Surely once goals number four and five hit the net he must have been wondering when that time will arrive.

The Scot then went on to announce: “I have said that our season will not really start until the transfer window ends; now it is over and we have got players in.” This desperate attempt at clutching at straws could have been averted had he started the game with man-mountain Darren Moore, although to be fair Liverpool were awesome. Still, you couldn’t help but feel sorry for Rob Earnshaw as he sat on the bench. Surely he should have been stuck on the pitch for at least a consolatory goal for the fantastic Rams fans who sang their hearts out for 90 minutes.

Apparently Chelsea will sign Barcelona superstar Ronaldinho next summer, according to the Daily Mail, who claim the Brazilian spent a great deal of time in talks with Barca president Joan Laporta in a desperate attempt to secure an immediate move to Stamford Bridge. Huge sums of money have been banded around this transfer, including a £50m fee and an incredible £200,000-a-week wages. Now it appears that all this will have to wait another year, and no doubt we will then have to add another 10% to these figures to take into account football’s speedily increasing inflation.

Portsmouth‘s Gary O’Neil had just paid a £5,000 annual membership fee at Wentworth Golf Club before he was sold to Middlesbrough (Sunday Mirror). That probably relates to two or three days wages so try not to feel too sorry for the midfielder. Still it does mean that anyone who looks vaguely like 24-year-old O’Neil could probably sneak themselves a free round of golf.

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