Archive for the ‘Football’ Category

Football

Arsenal update – Barca say no to Villa, so Wenger to chase Adrian Lopez?

By Stefano on January 14th, 2013

Well Arsenal fans, it was nice to dream, but it seems pretty definite now that Barca’s David Villa will not be joining the club in the transfer window. According to Goal Wenger had a team ready to jet off to Spain this weekend, but they have put their passports away for now.

The player is understood to be quite keen on a move to The Emirates, so maybe Wenger will be back for the striker in the summer. Shame as he would have been a brilliant loan signing.

Assuming that Arsenal do still buy a striker in the window – and it is by no means certain given recent pronouncements from the manager – the favourite would now appear to be Atletico Madrid’s Adrian Lopez. One of the reasons why Lopez is so attractive is that he is a versatile player who can start anywhere in the front three. His striking skills would provide serious competition to Walcott and Giroud at The Emirates as well as putting pressure on Gervinho. Hopefully it would mean the end of Ramsey’s days as a winger too. Last season Lopez scored 19 goals in every competition.

He is not the marquee signing that Arsenal fans are calling for, but he might prove to be an excellent addition to the squad.

Lopez has a £14.7m release clause in his contract, but Wenger hopes that the striker, who has appeared only a small number of times for the Madrid side this season, will put pressure on his club to see the move through.

Goal.com reckons that the club will start off with a bid of £10 million, but £12 million would be enough to prise the player from Atletico.

Interestingly Lopez secured his place in the Atletico team at the expense of another player who is very familiar to Arsenal fans – José Antonio Reyes.

So is this a smart move for Arsenal? Or will it end in tears like the Reyes signing? Tell us in the comments.

Pic Wikipedia



Football

Five postive things Arsenal can take from the 2-0 defeat by Man City

By Stefano on January 14th, 2013

At face value Sunday was not a good day at the office for Arsene Wenger’s men. A 2-0 home defeat to a team who last won away against them in 1975, to say nothing of lost points in the  race for fourth place.

However, call me an eternal optimist, but there were some positive points that I think Arsenal can take from the game against Man City.

1 Wilshere is back to his best – His performance yesterday was sensational. His movement both on and off the ball was superb and much of his passing exquisite. On countless occasions he took the ball turned and glided past City players, many of whom could do nothing but resort to knocking him over. Sure there was that awful moment when he got caught on his ankle, but he is obviously pretty resilient again. If Wilshere gets injured Arsenal’s season will be over. He is their best player at the moment by a country mile.

2 Flashes of form from Ramsey – The jury is out on Abou Diaby’s  comeback yesterday. His passing was sloppy and he lacked match sharpness. However for Arsenal fans just seeing him get though a game while occasionally showing signs of his genius-  those times when he moves forward and the ball just sticks to his foot – is probably enough for now. The irony is that it was the player who replaced him almost got Arsenal back into the game. Ramsey had his best half hour for the club in ages. His passing was inspired and there were many times when he shielded the ball in difficult situations when there was no one to pass to .The vision which delivered that ball to Walcott where the England player’ shot was cleared off the line was vintage Ramsey. If he can only keep this form up he could prove to be vital to the Gunners as the season progresses.

3 Wojciech Szczęsny looked sharp - Ok, so his distribution wasn’t what it should have been at times, but Arsenal’s Polish goalkeeper must have heard the rumours about possible signings. He could hardly be blamed for either goal and when called on made a series of decent saves. In an indifferent season this was one of his better games.

4 The Emirates really got behind their team – With the side down to 10 men and 2-0 down it could have all gone a bit flat. But at times the atmosphere in the stadium was electric, and the players responded to that passion.

5 The Arteta injury will surely force Wenger’s hand in the transfer market - The Spaniard is out for three weeks now. Diaby is not strong enough to play ninety minutes – and if he does who knows what shape he will be in at the end of it? And Arsenal have a big run of season-shaping fixtures. Surely Wenger will strengthen Arsenal’s midfield. Has that Yann M’Villa signed for anyone yet?



Football

Liverpool considering Wesley Sneijder transfer says The People

By Stefano on January 13th, 2013

A few days back Inter Milan’s Wesley Sneijder issued a ‘come and get to me plea’ to the Premiership’s clubs. But with Dutch player’s weekly wages of £160,000 there didn’t appear to be any takers. Now, in spite of a possible deal with Turkish team Galatasaray, The Sunday People is reporting that Liverpool might be about to launch a bid for the player.

According to The People

Kop boss Brendan Rodgers thinks he has a good chance of luring the 28-year-old Holland star to the Premier League – even though Inter have already ­accepted an £8.2million deal from the Turkish side.

Sneijder, who has fallen out with Inter bosses, is stalling on the Gala deal because he would prefer to play in England – and Liverpool are ready to offer him the chance.

Apparently Kop managing director Ian Ayre has been talking to the club’s owners to see if a deal is possible. The Reds would be securing a world class player at a cheap price, well apart from those astronomical wages.

If Sneijder were to take a pay cut it would certainly spur Man United and Arsenal, both of whom have tried to sign the player in the past, into action.

Before Liverpool fans get too excited no other papers are running the story.

Image Wikipedia



Football

Arsenal transfer update – Diego Milito a target? Wenger thinks Fabregas will return and Walcott contract details

By Stefano on January 13th, 2013

Arsenal are in need of striker, Inter Milan need to slice their wage bill and lose a few senior players. Betting company Ladbrokes  have added one and one and made 33 – because that is the age of Arsenal’s alleged new target Diego Milito.

The veteran Argentinian striker hasn’t had much of a look in in Milan recently and could be available in a cheap deal. There’s no denying the player’s quality – he’s bagged almost a goal every two games across his career. But is Wenger really going to sign a 33 year old?

Sounds ludicrous until you think that Arsene considered signing a 35 year old in Thierry Henry and also brought Sol Campbell back to the club aged 35. Milito would bring some serious experience to The Emirates and he is a player who has among other things won the Italian treble – which Inter secured in 2011 and Milito played a major role in.

Milito could in theory be added to the squad without upsetting the current pair of striker Walcott and Giroud.

Meanwhile Wenger has also been talking about how expects Cesc Fabregas to return to Arsenal at some point.

Wenger said

‘I’m not convinced Fabregas won’t come back here one day. He’s an Arsenal man. He loves Arsenal. He watches every Arsenal game. Barcelona was his home town where he grew up and you have to accept this, especially as Barcelona are the best team in the world. He won’t return in the next two or three years but, after that, maybe.’

Finally The Mirror reveals that one of the main problems in finishing the deal with Theo Walcott has been the length of time the player wants to commit to. Apparently the player only wants a three and half year deal which means that in eighteen months they would have to consider starting new contract talks. The club want to tie him down for four and half years.

Pic Wikipeda

 



Football

Arsenal transfer round up – Real Madrid youngster loan deal? Ezequiel Lavezzi targeted, M’Vila battle

By Stefano on January 12th, 2013

Arsenal’s quest to sign a new striker continues and this morning sees several old names thrown back into the to mix.

The one that seems to have the most momentum is a loan deal for Real Madrid’s youngster Alvaro Morata. The player has been on Arsene Wenger’s radar for a while (he was a target last summer apparently) and he doesn’t seem to be getting too many games at the Bernabeau. The 20 year old did however score for Real at the weekend against Levante. Here he is in action.

A couple of websites are also mentioning PSG’s out of favour Argentinian striker Ezequiel Iván Lavezzi. Again Wenger has tried to sign the player before. He might stand a better chance now given his poor form at Paris St Germain, he has only bagged two goals this season. The tricky part is likely to be the fee with PSG keen on recouping as much of the £24 million they paid Napoli as possible.

Finally a slew of clubs from QPR to Newcastle wanting to secure the services of Rennes’ combative midfielder Yann M’Villa. However there is no word from The Emirates on long term Arsenal target. The Mail thinks that he will be bound for Loftus Road.

Pic Wikipedia



Football

Arsenal update: Has Arsene Wenger lost the support of Arsenal fans?

By Stefano on January 12th, 2013

So does Arsene still know? After seven trophy-less seasons and the exodus of many of the team’s highest profile players many Gunners fans aren’t so sure.

The Daily Mirror reports that a group of Arsenal fans think it is time for Wenger to change his approach or leave the club. In fact nearly 50% of them want him to go now.

The survey was undertaken by the Black Scarf Movement who have been active in the last few months in expressing their dissatisfaction with both the board and the manager, so those figures, while not too shocking, are actually probably fairly unrepresentative of Arsenal supporters as a whole.

Raj Patel, of the group told the Mirror: “We are not an anti-Wenger group, but we are responsible for what our fans want and what they are thinking.

“The overwhelming thing for us is that the percentage of fans who want a change of board is in the 90s and the same goes for those who want [share-holder] Alisher Usmanov to have a place on the board.

“Our members, from this survey, clearly feel that the current board is achieving financial stability without being able to compete on the pitch – football is all about what you do on the pitch.”

The survey can be seen here

Even if they aren’t necessarily paid up of members of the ‘Arsene Go’ club there is clearly a huge amount of dissatisfaction among the fan at the way the club is being run.

As an Arsenal fan at the moment I see a club lurching from crisis to another with a manager who has a nasty habit of saying things that enrage the Arsenal fans.

Van Persie slip

The latest slip is in The Sun and concerns the incredible form of the Emirates’ favourite Robin Van Persie.

Wenger said.

“It is painful to see Manchester United so far in front of us.”

“You know when you sell Robin van Persie to United that will be the case. He is one of the best strikers in the world and you know he will score goals. He got 30 for us in the league last year.”

These sound like the words of a man who had nothing to do with the sale of the player six months ago to one of Arsenal’s direct rivals. Had Arsenal held Van Persie to his contract, or sold the player to a club out side the Premiership then United would not be that far ahead of Arsenal. Of course the club would be £22 million worse off but…

Also painful is the protracted contract negotiations with Theo Walcott. I know these things can take time, but the team really should have had this wrapped up prior to the transfer window. If Walcott does decide to leave then Arsenal will need some reinforcements and quick and a last minute scramble – like the undignified mess of August 2011 – would be a nightmare.

Then there’s the lack of activity in the transfer market. Arsenal have a fixture run in January which is going to stretch their resources, and yet while our rivals have strengthened their squads, Arsenal seem a long way away from buying the striker, defensive midfielder and left back they so desperately need.

To cap it all The Sun has a story about how the Arsenal 2013 diary features one Robin Van Persie. Ok it is a small thing, but it seems to reflect the chaos that engulfing the club.

Things may be calm and ordered at The Emirates and we might even go on to finish third and scrape a trophy or two (but I don’t really believe that either), but that isn’t the impression of the way things are the moment.

Personally I think, along with probably the majority of Arsenal fans, that Arsene has half a season to sort things out. If Arsenal don’t qualify for the Champions League at the very least, then it might be time to have a re-think, and that may or may not include Arsene at the helm.



Football

Arsenal rival Fulham in chase for Dutch keeper

By Stefano on January 11th, 2013

It seems that Arsenal’s search for a new keeper didn’t end with speculative moves for Pepe Reina. According to an Italian paper Dutch international goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg fancies a move to the Premiership and Arsenal and Fulham are competing for his £3.5million signature.

The story broke first in Gazzetta dello Sport (Stekelenburg is current at Roma) which suggest that both Arsenal and Fulham are negotiationing with the club to sign the player.

Stekelenburg has had a tricky few years in Roma since moving in summer 2011 and these days warms the bench behind Bogdan Lobont. Dutch manager Bert van Marwijk rates him though for since the retirement of Edwin van der Sar from the national team, Stekelenburg has been the first-choice keeper.

Whether he would be warming the bench at The Emirates is a moot point, but Arsene Wenger certainly needs serious competition for Wojciech Szczesny.

Pic from Wikipedia



Football

Arsene Wenger ‘cautious, but optimistic’ that Theo Walcott will sign

By Stefano on January 11th, 2013

If you thought it was a done deal then think again. In spite of endless speculation that the player was on the verge of re-signing for Arsenal, manager Arsene Wenger has told reporters (and it has been confirmed by BBC Radio Five Live) that he is ‘cautious, but optimistic’ that Theo Walcott will sign a new contract.

In some ways the news that the deal still has a way to go is not surprising given that Arsenal are linked once again with several new players including Palace’s Wilfrioed Zaha, who would be a direct replacement for the England winger/striker

Wenger full statement was…

“We’re on a good road with Theo’s negotiations. I’m more optimistic this week than last week. The discussions have progressed smoothly but slowly. As long as nothing is signed, you are cautious. I’m optimistic we’ll get to a happy conclusion.”

Pic from Wikipedia



Football

Ashley Cole in Real Madrid talks with PSG waiting in the wings

By Stefano on January 11th, 2013

There’s a huge amount of speculation this morning about the next move of Chelsea’s England left back Ashley Cole. According to the Mail he has his heart set on a Spanish swansong.

The paper is reporting that the 32 year old who will not be offered a new contract at Chelsea could be on his way to Real Madrid with his agent already in Spain having talks with the Spanish club. Madrid’s rivals Barcelona are also tracking the player as are big-spending Paris St Germain, which are managed by Cole’s old Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti.

The Express says that there is still a lot of ground to cover before Real get their man.

The uncertain future of Real boss Jose Mourinho is a possible complication while PSG, managed by another former Chelsea boss, Carlo Ancelotti, are ready to match any offer.

Several other papers including The Guardian, suggest that Cole, along with his fellow England international Frank Lampard, could be making the journey north to Manchester United. Fergie is also a huge fan of the player and United already has a growing, but influential groups of 30 something players.

I wonder if PSG are actually the perfect club for the player. They would have no problem with his wage, his relationship with Ancelotti was apparently very good and Paris is just a short train ride away from his London base. Also Cole moved from Arsenal to Chelsea at a time when the balance was shifting in favour of the West London club. PSG are in the same situation that Chelsea were half a decade or so ago and with their existing staff, and the resources to add more quality players you wouldn’t bet against them having a very serious crack at The Champions League within the next couple of year.



Football

Arsenal update: Wilfried Zaha talks and ‘favourites’ to land Loic Remy

By Stefano on January 11th, 2013

After a couple of quiet days the Arsenal transfer rumour machine has been very active in the last few hours linking the club with several new signings.

The Indie has a pair of stories claiming that Wenger has made a move for the talented Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha, while it also suggests Arsenal are now favourite to scoop Marseilles’ experienced striker Loic Remy.

Zaha had been assumed in the last few days to definitely be United bound, and Wenger himself poured a bit of cold water on the  rumours a few weeks ago. Now it appears that the chase is back on.

The Indie says

Arsenal have certainly been active observers of the winger, about whom United have opened discussions with Palace, with the north London club’s chief scout, Steve Rowley, present at several of his games.

Admittedly no other papers are saying that Arsenal have a chance to land the 20 year old – the rest are going with him signing for United and being loaned back to Palace for the rest of the season.

The Indie, and a lot of other papers, also have the story that Arsene Wenger is making a late move to sign Marseilles striker Loic Remy. The 26 year old, who has been chased by QPR and Newcastle is apparently an Arsenal fan and would cost the Gunners in  the region of £10 milion.

The paper says

In his first two seasons Rémy scored 37 goals in all competitions, but this campaign has been a struggle.

Inter had been keen on a move for the forward, but they preferred to offer a player as part-exchange in the deal and that has not appealed to Marseilles. Wenger is also keen on Anderlecht holding midfielder Lucas Biglia.

Lastly David Villa showed some form last night in scoring two excellent goals in Barcelona’s 5-0 Copa del Rey win over Cordoba. According to the gossip Villa wants to go, Barca want keep him and Wenger is in two minds. I don’t think we have heard the last of this yet.



Football

Breaking: French newspaper says Marouane Fellaini will be a Chelsea player by the weekend

By Stefano on January 10th, 2013

Some bad news for United, Arsenal and, let’s not forget, Everton fans. French newspaper L’Equipe is reporting that the Blue’s talismanic midfielder Marouane Fellaini could be a Chelsea player by the end of the week.

The report, which has also made the BBC sports news , is that that the 25-year old will sign a five-year deal with the club, for a fee of £22m. He will earn £4m a year.

It has been widely reported that the player has a £22 million transfer trigger fee and it seems that Chelsea are prepared to meet it.

Fellaini has made a total of 155 appearances for Everton, scoring 29 goals. His form this year has been scintillating.

Arsene Wenger is known to be an admirer but it seems unlikely that Arsenal would match the asking price. With the move seemingly imminent will Fergie make his move now?



Football

Is this the best team goal of the season? Nope, not Barca or Arsenal, but some Greek kids

By Stefano on January 10th, 2013

Yep it is a contender for the best team goal of the season, but there’s no Iniesta pulling strings, Walcott speeding through the middle or Van Persie finishing in style. It is actually a bunch of Greek kids from the AO Giannina club, who kick off and then Tikki-taka the ball all the way though to the opposition’s goal. They take 20 passes and the opposition, Atromitos, don’t get anywhere near the ball

It is utterly sublime, and augurs well for the future of Greek football. Now what are the odds on a repeat of the 2004 Euros win?



Football

Arsenal update: David Villa deal back on? Afellay targeted. Shaw going nowhere. Diaby back against City?

By Stefano on January 10th, 2013

Barcelona President Sandro Rosell may have told Arsene Wenger that he is not prepared to sell Spanish international striker David Villa in the window. But it seems that hasn’t put the Arsenal manager off. Caught Offside is reporting that Arsenal are still engaging with Barcelona in discussions about Villa and want to sign another of their players.

Long term Gunners target Ibrahim Afellay is apparently back on Wenger’s radar and the club are said to be very keen on the versatile attacker who is currently on loan at German side Schalke. Afellay struggled in his first season at Barcelona though his loan period – which has yielded four goals in 13 games – has been slightly more successful. The player was also a key man in Schalke’s recent Champions League victory over the Gunners.

There are very few hard facts on the Caught Offside story, so make of that what you will. But Afellay has been on Wenger’s radar for a while and could be picked up relatively cheaply. And as for Rosell’s pronouncements on Villa, how many times have clubs, especially Arsenal, gone back on their word when the right deal came along? We’ll have to wait and see.

Another of Wenger’s targets is happy to stay where he is for now anyway. Southampton’s highly rated left back Luke Shaw told the club’s website he is staying put.

“I’ve spoken with the chairman about a long-term plan for me at the club and just to end all speculation, I will be committing my future to Southampton.” 

“I’m not going anywhere. I think Southampton is the place to be for young kids like me.

“I’m playing in the Premier League in the first team and that’s what anyone wants to be doing and I just want to carry on doing that.

“If you look back, you’ve had Ads [Lallana] come through the youth system, and now he’s captain of the first team. Prowsey [James Ward-Prowse] has just signed a new deal and that’s what I want to be doing.”

Finally Arsenal’s injury-prone midfielder Abou Diaby played 65 minutes of the club’s most recent Under-21s league game without any reaction from his thigh problem. He may even make the squad to face Man City at the weekend.

Pic Wikipedia



Football

Arsenal update: Walcott to sign before the City game, plus two new transfer targets

By Stefano on January 9th, 2013

The Theo Walcott deal story is now everywhere and even the BBC is reporting that the winger/striker will sign very shortly.

It reports

Arsenal are ready to stretch their rigid pay structure to push through a new deal for Theo Walcott, which could be signed ahead of this weekend’s Premier League clash with Manchester City.

Press Association Sport understands the Gunners are ready to make Walcott among the highest-paid players at the club with a five-year contract worth around £90,000-a-week, which would be boosted by lucrative add-ons.

Goal, and several other sources suggest that Walcott’s team is at Arsenal’s London Colney training ground and that a deal will be agreed in the next 24 hours.

Meanwhile Caught Offisde is running a story that Arsene Wenger will eschew big money targets in the window and is instead tracking two lesser known players.

Apparently the Arsenal manager is keen on Guingamp midfielder Giannelli Imbula, who is yet to make his debut for the French side. The source of the story is ESPN journalist @LaurensJulien who says that the fee could be as much as £7 million. Sounds unlikely…

Another player linked to Arsenal today is Mainz Hungarian striker Adám Szalai. The source of the story is German paper Bild which claims that Wenger is chasing the 6ft 4in target man who has scored nine teams already in the Bundesliga this season.

Neither story seems very credible, but there is very little noise about new signings coming out of The Emirates at the moment.



Football

Arsenal update: Walcott to be offered £25million to stay. German defender linked

By Stefano on January 9th, 2013

Worryingly for Arsenal fans keen to see Arsene Wenger strengthen his squad it has been a fairly quiet morning for transfer rumours. The big one is the seemingly never ending saga of Theo Walcott and his new contract.

In an exclusive – ain’t they always – The Mail says that player will get a five-year deal worth in the region of £88,000-per-week, plus a £3million signing-on bonus, and that the club are now confident he will ‘sign da ting.’

The rest of the article says nothing new, but if true, it does seem as if the deal might be about to be done.

If it is then Wenger, Gazidis and co need to get their skates on. There is a big run of games looming and still no signings. Yesterday Barcelona President Sandro Rossel confirmed that his star striker David Villa, was gong nowhere in the window, so is it all back on for Atletico’s's Adrian Lopez? It is all quiet on that one.

TalkSport have linked Arsenal with one new player this morning, but it is not striker. The website says that a plethora of interested Premier League parties have been alerted by Schalke defender Benedikt Howedes’s decision to shelve contract talks with his Bundesliga club, including Arsenal.

The player, who has won ten German caps, is a central defender who would rival Laurent Koscielny, Per Mertesacker and Thomas Vermaelen for a place in the side.

On one level this sounds unlikely given the talent Arsenal have at the back. They have however leaked six goals in their last three games, so maybe Arsene is pondering a change.




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