Archive for the ‘Football’ Category


Arsenal update: Real fans sing – ‘don’t sell Ozil!’

By Stefano on September 2nd, 2013

At the time of writing Mesut Ozil is being prodded and poked in Germany as he prepares to complete his £42 million move to Arsenal. He has effectively been pushed out by the signing of Bale and the retention of Di Maria and Ronaldo.

It is worth noting though that Real fans are not happy about his departure. The BBC’s Spain football writer Andy West reporting from the unveiling of Bale had this to say

“Interesting to hear Real Madrid fans at the Bale presentation breaking away from their lauding of the Welshman to launch into a chorus of ‘Don´t sell Ozil’.

“Might be a bit late for that now, but it shows how highly Madrid fans regard the German playmaker. Big boots for Bale to fill.”

It underlines what a key player Ozil could be for Arsenal.


BBC confirms Ozil medical at Arsenal after agreeing personal terms

By Stefano on September 2nd, 2013

Big news Gunners fans. After failing to tempt Mesut Ozil a few years back, it now seems certain that the German will be an Arsenal player very soon.

The BBC has just confirmed that the player has agreed personal terms and is about to have a medical.

This from the BBC

Arsenal have agreed a £42.4m (50m euros) deal with Real Madrid to sign Germany midfielder Mesut Ozil.

The 24-year-old has agreed personal terms but must undergo a medical before Arsenal can complete what would be a club record signing.

So all those rumours about Ozil not wanting a move and Man United sniffing around proved to be baseless and Arsenal finally have a marquee singing.

Who do you think will be next?


Are Man United in for Arsenal target Ozil? Confusion at Sky Sports

By Stefano on September 2nd, 2013

Possibly the worst news that Arsenal fans could hear today would be that Man United had made a move for Real Madrid’s Mesut Ozil, Arsenal number one target.

And there were rumours that the Reds had made an offer for the player but hadn’t been able to agree his personal terms ie wages.

Well this morning Sky Sports seems to be a tad confused as to whether United are going to movie for the German playmaker. After stating first that Moyes was about to make second offer LadyArse is now saying is now saying that that rumour isn’t actually true. I am not entirely sure where the normally reliable LadyArse has got that info from but this one is going to run all day.

UPDATE – It seems that the club has denied an interest and thhis has been confirmed too by this tweet from Guardian journalist Daniel Taylor.


Liverpool confirm Sakho signing

By Stefano on September 2nd, 2013

The first big-ish signing of the morning for a Prem club has just landed with Liverpool confirming that they have signed French international Mamadou Sakho on a long-term contract. The rumour is that he cost £12 million.

This follows the deal for Tiago Ilori, who has cost Liverpool £25m.

Sakho told the club’s website: “I’m delighted to be here. I’d like to thank everyone for the welcome.

“I came here because the project that is in place at Liverpool interests me. I’m really looking forward to playing my first game.”

The Paris Saint-Germain defender is a much needed boost to the Reds’ defense.


Who will Arsenal sign today?

By Stefano on September 2nd, 2013

So Gunners fans? Who do you think will be pulling on a red and white short by the end of the day? There are of course a host of players who the Gunners are supposed to have spoken to, however that might not be all. In the last minute scramble in summer 2011 Arsene Wenger signed five players in the last 48 hours not all of which had been linked with the club until hours before their signing.

Here’s a quick update as to where we are now.

Mesut Ozil - The biggie. But it seems that the proposed £40 million move might be on the skids – well that’s what Spanish paper Marca thinks saying that the player doesn’t want to leave Spain. Also there remains the spectre of David Moyes intervening and ruining Arsene’s day.

Draxler - There has been so significant news since Sunday lunch time on Draxler when the player was alleged to have said that he wouldn’t rule out leaving Schalke for Arsenal. If the Ozil deal goes pear shaped, then this is the one that seems most likely.

Angel Di Maria & Karim Benzema – I wouldn’t put money on these two players unless Real seriously start chasing Suarez. Then Real surely will have to lose one of them to fund the deal.

Demba Ba – I’d love to think that Arsene was going to pull out a massive left field striker sighing, but this one has ‘loan deal when all else has failed at 10pm’ written all over it. The same is true for Saloman Kalou too. I think Ba could be a useful addition to the squad, but again his signing won’t excite the fans.

Emiliano Viviano – Done deal apparently

Abel Hernandez - This one is another potential trolley dash at 10pm

Yoann Cabaye - Expect this one to live up if other deals fall through. Wouldn’t completely write this one off if Ozil and Draxler don’t land.

Wayne Rooney - Surely not.

Burak Yilmaz - Lazio have come in for the Galatasary striker, but I wouldn’t be against him ending up in the Premier League if he hasn’t confirmed the Italy move by lunchtime. And his most probable destination would be a post Suarez Liverpool, or an Arsenal that hasn’t tempted any other strikers.

Michu/Ashley Williams – Surely that boat has now sailed…


Marca says Ozil will snub Arsenal and stay at Real Madrid

By Stefano on September 2nd, 2013

Arsenal fans, just when it all seemed to be going so swimmingly the Spanish paper is now reporting  that the 50 million Euros target Ozil is now London-bound and that he has chosen to stay in Madrid.

Of course Marca has been wrong before and there are still plenty of hours left for the player to, ahem, change his mind, but this could mean that Arsenal don’t end the window with that marquee signing that their fans have been craving all summer.


Fabregas returns, and four other Arsenal transfers that aren’t going to happen

By Stefano on August 29th, 2013

Ok Arsenal fans – time to reach for those straws.

With an injury list that is growing by the day, a manager who seems to have forgotten where he last left his cheque book and the small matter of a London derby against free spending Spurs days away- things are looking grim.

Here though are a few long shots for you to cling to. Not one of them is likely to happen, but then again we did sign five players in the last few days of the 2011 window (sighs) and who would have predicted that?

1 Cesc comes back to be with Matty – The theory ruins like this. He is still not sure about his future at Barca. Moyes is coming back in for him with a bigger bid and Arsene has just brought his best mate Matty back to Arsenal. On deadline Cesc comes to his senses and is an Arsenal player once more.

2 Suarez finally gets real, not Real – The Uruguayan has been a bit quiet of late, but with days to go, and with no sign of that Madrid bid materialising, he pushes for a move to Arsenal who get him hours before the deadline for £45 million.

3 Higuain realises he is pasta intolerant – He has already had an altercation or two on Capri which has upset his club’s owner. Just maybe he’ll realise that life in Italy isn’t what he expected and angles for a last minute move to North London thereby saving Wenger’s face as he hasn’t signed any other strikers.

4 Lewandowski becomes even more of a mercenary - The lanky Pole admits that having pretty much agreed to joining Bayern next season he can’t in all honesty play for Dortmund this year. And he surmises that if you are going to behave like a mercenary then you might as well do it for better wages in London. For one year only, obviously.

5 Robert Pires comes out of retirementHe is still pretty good you know.


Shock – Arsenal make second summer signing. Flamini is back

By Stefano on August 29th, 2013

There was a lot of talk about this last night and now it appears to have been confirmed by the papers at least. Matty Flamini is back at Arsenal and is on a £40/50k a week deal.

The ex Arsenal star, who left the club for Milan on a Bosman is back with his old manager Arsene Wenger after impressing Le Boss when training with the side last month.

So what do you think Gunners fans. Flamini is 29 years old and could potentially be at his peak. It remains to see though whether his stint at Milan has taken its toll. He played in over 20 games for the side last season, but they couldn’t agree a deal with him.

What possibly swung it for Flamini – in addition to costing zip all – is that he is versatile and can play in left and right back positions as well as in his core central midfield berth.

He is a good insurance policy too given that four of Arsenal’s midfielders – Diaby, Rosicky, Wilshere and Arteta are all a little injury prone. At the very least he has a lot more experience than say Coquelin.

So are you glad to have him back?


Will Arsenal sign a marquee striker? Surely not even Arsene Wenger believes it now

By Stefano on August 28th, 2013

Two words I really hate – marquee signing. They have dogged me all summer. Been my first thought in the morning and have kept me awake nights. And still, with hours to go now, unless you think that a lanky Ligue Two player on a freebie fits the bill Arsenal still haven’t made a marquee signing.

And you know what I am beginning to think that even Arsene Wenger is starting to realise that it is not going to happen. Sure Arsenal can strengthen the squad by adding Cabaye and Flamini, but a marquee singing, let alone a striker that is going to rip through Premiership defences,  forget it. There simply isn’t anyone.

Most of our best bets – Jovetic, Higuain, Bony, Benteke etc have either made their move or signed new contracts at existing clubs. Suarez and Rooney simply aren’t going to happen and Lewandowski is hardly going to fancy moving to the Premiership for one season before joining his old buddies at Bayern. Even Jose has suddenly got very protective of Juan Mata (Ok, so I know he isn’t a striker, but I’d love to see him in the hole behind Giroud).

Our only throw of the dice is if Madrid realise that they will have to ship players out to fund moves for Bale and Suarez. And ironically none of the trio seem very keen on a move away from Spain anyhow. We have been there before with players who didn’t really want to come (Reyes, Baptista etc) it never really works does it?

So it seems that Arsenal’s whole summer windows transfer strategy rests on a massive bid for player in the last 48 hours, who almost certainly won’t take the bait. Wenger will then be able to affect his gallic shrug of the shoulders and Arsenal will once again just about cling on to fourth place. If we spend more than half of the mooted £100 million war chest I will be amazed.

It will all come back to bite the club and the manager too. Defeat to Spurs on Sunday, with no reinforcements looking likely on Monday, and we will be back to fans having a pop at each other in the East Stand. It was very noticeable too how small the crowd was last night – I wonder if lower attendances could well become a feature of this season.

So what do you think? Has Wenger still got a master plan? Will we sign a marquee player. Is Sanogo really going to be our second choice striker this season?


Arsenal legend Robert Pires moonlights for Greek amateur team – scores ace goal

By Stefano on August 27th, 2013

Robert Pires – what a legend! The Arsenal player was always hugely popular with the red half of north London. And it seems that he is a very decent chap too. I remember stories of him giving away to tickets to fans in sold out games at Highbury and more.

And now this – he was apparently spotted in the stands at a game in the Greek town of Rafina. He was then persuaded to come on and play for Storm Rafina in the second half – his first game since 2011 – and this is what happened. Legend!


Arsenal’s 2013-14 season – five reasons why it could be a disaster

By Stefano on August 15th, 2013

Personally I have a fairly optimistic view of the world so I believe that in spite of Arsene Wenger’s dithering in the transfer market Arsenal will have a much better season than last year. You can read that one here.

However there is some pretty compelling evidence that I have chosen to ignore. In some ways we might be in for a re-run of 2011 – calamitous starts, last minute signings, embarrassing defeats to our rivals. Hope not, but for the more pessimistic – or some would argue realistic – here are five reasons why things could go very badly wrong.

1 The season is about to begin and Wenger hasn’t strengthened the squad - This would not be the end of the world as the team finished last season strongly, but with a very tough season defining game in Turkey imminent, to say nothing of a game against Tottenham the club arguably needed their key players already embedded in the squad. Were Arsenal to lose badly in Turkey and maybe even get knocked out it would probably be very hard for the club to attract a marquee signing anyhow. There are still plenty of Arsenal fans who subscribe to the AKB Arsene Knows Best theory, but the Frenchman’s most loyal lieutenants must be harbouring doubts about the club’s lack of transfer action.

2 The team seems as injury prone as ever - Is it just Arsenal? Probably not, but the club does have a lot of injury prone players on its books. It even bought a new one in the guise of Sanogo. A serious injury to Wilshere could be disastrous, and if Giroud got a knock the club would be very short of firepower. Does anyone also believe that Diaby, and maybe even Rosicky, are capable of little more than cameos. Throw in injuries to Vermaelen, Sagna and Arteta even before the season starts and that squad looks a little skinny.

3 The gulf between Arsenal and the big three has grown wider - They may all have issues with new managers, but Chelsea and Man City have seriously strengthened their squads and Man United look pretty solid again. Beating City in an exhibition match in Finland is one thing, but when the action gets serious will the Gunners have it so easy?

4 Tottenham have bought well
– Roberto Soldado, Paulinho, Nacer Chadli, Etienne Capoue and maybe more to come – if I had a quid for every Arsenal fan who has tweeted that they wouldn’t be too upset had we signed those players I’d be a rich man. There remains a very good chance that Bale will stay too and even if Real do break the bank for him Spurs could finish the transfer widow on a spree that could compensate for his departure.

5 The atmosphere at The Emirates this season could be poisonous – Picture the worst case scenario. No major signings, an early CL exit and defeat to Spurs. It would take a lot to convince Arsenal fans not to blame Arsene Wenger personally for not addressing issues that everyone else is convinced needs resolving. Chants of ‘Wenger out’ could seriously undermine not just the manager but the players too. In that instance fifth place would look like a trophy!


Arsenal’s 2013-14 season – five reasons to be optimistic

By Stefano on August 15th, 2013

Should Arsenal fans be optimistic about the new season?

A number of British newspapers have now compiled their predictions as to who will finish where in this season’s Premiership.

By common consent Arsenal are due to finish fifth and lose out on a Champions League slot to their North London rivals Spurs. However are those predictions way off the mark? Are there good reasons to suggest that Arsenal can mount a serious title challenge as well as stand a chance of some silverware. Here are five.

1 Jack’s back - It may be a while before he is back to full fitness but Wilshere is certain to play a massive role for Arsenal this year. Maybe Wenger will play him in a more advanced role and give him rein to wriggle past defenders in the way he does so effectively. If Wilshere can have an injury-free season then Arsenal will a have a chance of silverware – he really is that pivotal to them now. In some ways this is why it is so essential that Wenger strengthens the Arsenal midfield. Sure the club has 16 year old Gediom Zelalem coming through, but to overplay Wilshere in the way that Arsenal have arguably over stretched Arteta would be madness.

2 The forwards are on fire – A mate of mine who has been very negative about Arsenal for a few years now thinks that this might actually be a good season and he believes that the key will be Theo Walcott. The player was superb for much of last season – once he had sorted out his kerfuffle with the boss – and the goal for England yesterday was classic Theo – lots of pace but with an excellent finish. However he might not be the top scorer this season. Olivier Giroud has been expecting high profile competition to arrive all summer. But he will start the season as the club’s number one striker. And if he can continue the excellent form he has shown pre-season then I think it is safe to expect a glut of goals from the player.

3 Arsenal are enjoying a great run of form – The end of last season was really rather special – unbeaten in their last ten games was clinical stuff. Arsenal have looked convincing pre-season too. There have been no major departures to unsettle the team and if the Arsenal of the latter end of the last year shows up this season then the club could have a serious crack at the title.

4 Arsenal’s rivals all have issues - New managers for the Manchester clubs and an old one for Chelsea could mean that they start the season tentatively. Man City may have bought well, but as last Saturday underlined new players may take time to settle.

5 The cheque book still hasn’t come out - There are still two weeks for Arsene to grab those marquee signings as well as strengthen the defence and midfield. Surely the club knows that is it doesn’t sign anyone the outcry from the fans and the media will be huge. Maybe it won’t be Suarez, but it might still be someone very exciting.

If you are still not convinced then maybe this feature that predicts a disaster, might be more your point of view.


A theory. Arsenal’s game plan – Michu now, Suarez next week?

By Stefano on August 14th, 2013

Time is starting to run out for Arsene Wenger to make his marquee signing. Several papers have said this morning that the club will continue with there pursuit of Suarez, but will look at other options.

The names that are mentioned are the usual suspects; Michu, El Shaarawy, Dzeko and at a very big push Rooney.

Wenger has already missed out on Higuain, Bony, Cavani, Jovetic and although Lewandowksi remains a very feint possibility the player seems to have his heart set on a move to Bayern next year. The Sanchez rumour appears to have died down too.

The interesting question is whether Arsenal can afford to buy one of the above and still have money to offer Liverpool a huge sum for Suarez with the hope that the player will sign before the deadline. Especially if they sign Gustavo and maybe even a centre back.

Here’s a conspiracy theory. The Suarez deal will go to the wire for three reasons. Firstly Liverpool will do all they can to hold on to him. Secondly until Real sign Bale there remains the possibility that he could be on his way to Madrid. Thirdly it is unlikely that Suarez will sign for Arsenal until they have at least secured the group stage of Champions League football and that almost certainly won’t be until August 27th.

The fans however are desperate for reinforcements. If the start of the season goes badly and Arsenal fail to beat Villa and lose in Turkey, then there will be huge pressure on Wenger to buy. So just maybe Arsenal will sign Michu, who would be significantly cheaper than Suarez, and can also play as a more creative player than just as a striker, to pacify the fans and as insurance in case his number one target doesn’t land.

Then Arsenal will push Liverpool to the wire in a bid to sign Suarez. If it doesn’t work out then at least Arsenal will have bought a quality striker.


Arsenal ready to sign Higuain, but put deal on hold for Suarez says BBC reporter

By Stefano on August 9th, 2013

Arsenal’s failure (if that is the right word?) to sign Gonzalo Higuain from Real Madrid is still shrouded in mystery. Did Real really put the price up? Were they waiting for new manager Ancelotti to be installed before the deal could be sanctioned?

I don’t know where he is getting his information from but the BBC Sport journalist David Ornstein has posted a new theory on Twitter.

He said

“Understand #afc did not make offer for Higuain. Agreed personal terms but put deal on hold to prioritise Suarez, Napoli pounced #bbcfootball.”

It certainly sounds plausible, and to be fair Real could still have hiked the price up. Ultimately I wonder if Wenger thought that Suarez could force his way out of Liverpool for 40 million plus one pound and that even if he ended up paying twice the amount he would have for Higuain, he would be getting twice the player.

To be fair Arsenal are nowhere near as short of upfront as some of the media is saying today. If Giroud were to get injured or start the season poorly Podolski and Walcott can both play through the middle and Chuba Akpom is clearly an exciting prospect who will get first team run outs this year. Then there is of course Yaya Sanogo. Still, Wenger will face a huge backlash from the fans if Arsenal don’t sign a striker this summer.


Arsenal face Fenerbahce in the Champions League qualifier

By Stefano on August 9th, 2013

Well there is plenty for Arsene Wenger to mull over after it was confirmed that Arsenal will play Fenerbahce in the Champions league qualification tie.

The first leg will be played on the 20th August in Turkey with the following leg on the 27th at The Emirates.

At least the club managed to avoid the nightmare ties of PSV Eindhoven. Any trip to Turkey is a difficult one and there will be a few familiar players for the Gunners to re-acquaint themselves with in the guise of Dirk Kuyt and Raul Meireles.

But it should be a tie that Arsenal will win. I bet one Luis Suarez will be watching the game very closely.

Interestingly should Fenerbahce progress they might still not reach the group stages as they were handed a two-year European ban by UEFA over domestic match-fixing in June. They re-admitted to the competition pending an appeal at CAS, but if they lose the appeal they will be eliminated. Could this mean that Arsenal still sneak through even if they lose?

The last time Arsenal played the Turkish side was in 2008 when a 5-2 away win for the Gunners was followed by a 0-0 draw at the Emirates.

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