Archive for the ‘Football’ Category


Arsenal centre back options – Steven Taylor and Ashley Williams

By Stefano on June 6th, 2013

The Daily Mail has a bit of an odd one. It has just run with the story that the latest name on Arsene Wenger’s defensive wishlist is Newcastle defender Steven Taylor.

The paper says

He played 25 times last year, his most Premier League games since 2008/09, but the arrival from Montpellier of Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa means he has no guarantees next season.

So the logic is that he won’t be able to get into the Newcastle side next season but still might be good enough for Arsenal… The mind boggles.

I like Taylor though. He played well last season and was, well very solid and largely error-free. But to see him taking any defensive role at Arsenal other than as a replacement for Johan Djourou (or Sébastien Squillaci) seems very unlikely.

The Mail also says that Steve Bould is very keen to add some British players to beef up the back. Ashley Williams appeared to have been a done deal, though that one has gone a little quiet of late. It has been over a week since the papers were running with stories that Laudrup was resigned to losing his centre back.  Maybe Taylor is the cheaper option, and the Arsenal manager is keeping his options open.If Wenger is pinning his faith in Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker as well as Thomas Vermaelen staying and recapturing some of the form he showed a couple of seasons back then Taylor would be a very useful squad member.


Five reasons why Arsenal haven’t made any big signings yet – Wenger, Jovetic, Fabregas

By Stefano on June 6th, 2013

So no Jovetic, Higuain or Rooney. Well not yet anyhow.

Here are five possible reasons why Arsenal still haven’t secured that marquee signing.

1 Arsene Wenger’s contract talks got in the way – Today Arsenal’s CE Ivan Gazidis has said that he expects Arsene Wenger to sign a new contract very shortly. Maybe all the talk about his future was weighing on the Frenchman’s mind and that until it was sorted he wasn’t prepared to make those big signings the fans crave.

2 The Cesc Fabregas factor - I am still convinced that Arsenal were on the verge of signing Stevan Jovetic in the week following the end of the season. It didn’t happen for a number of reasons, but chief among them was the surprise ‘availability’ of Cesc Fabregas. As is well documented if Cesc did choose to leave Barca Arsenal would be his preferred destination. For Wenger to accommodate Fabregas in the team he would need to play him as a second, or ghost striker, which is almost the certainly the role he has envisaged for Jovetic. Until the Fabregas issue is resolved either way Wenger won’t sign a big money second striker.

3 The transfer money-go-round has not quite kicked off yet – There is always a point each summer when some club or other – previously it was Man City and Chelsea and this year it is also Monaco and PSG – start splashing the cash. This then kick starts the transfer market. Were Juventus, for example to sign either Higuain or Jovetic it would make the other one’s position clearer (and knock a few million of their price too).

4 The internationals – Several players, David Villa among them, have said that they expect their futures to be sorted out after the international games finish. Most of the friendlies will be over with a week and then the players and the agents will have time to focus on sorting out their futures.

5 Wenger still doesn’t know who he wants – So is the Frenchman indecisive in the transfer market? Well even if you think so you can’t deny that there have been many players who have slipped through the net because the Arsenal manager couldn’t make his mind up about them – Juan Mata and Gary Cahill being two very good examples. Also even with that stash of cash in the bank Wenger isn’t going to suddenly splash out large transfer sums and huge wages – that just isn’t his style.

If you want a few more…

He needed to offload the dead wood – some of this happened yesterday.

Jovetic can’t make his mind up either – his quotes about coming to Arsenal have been contradictory

He might be about to gamble on one huge signing – Cavani? Rooney?

Season ticket sales are going well – If they hadn’t been you can bet Arsenal would have signed a player before the renewals finish tomorrow

Any more?


Wenger to sign new deal at Arsenal – says CE Ivan Gazidis

By Stefano on June 6th, 2013

There is a fascinating story at The Telegraph which confirms what quite a few people have expected in a while that Arsene Wenger won’t be leaving the club when his contract runs out at the end of next season.

Although Arsenal CE Ivan Gazidis is refusing to give full details about the discussion he has had with the Frenchman he has said today that he does anticipate an announcement “when things are all put in place”.

Here are a selection of quotes that he has given to the Telegraph

“We think we have got a fantastic manager. We hope that he wants to do what he is doing for the long term. I believe he does. I think he is still ambitious, still driven and sees the potential of the club as he looks forward and I think he is very excited by that.

“We have got a lot of confidence in Arsene that he is the right person to take the club forward and I think he will want to do that.

“We have a great relationship and he has a great relationship with the board as well. So, quietly and at the right time, I think we will make an announcement on that

“What I really don’t want to do is have a public discussion about Arsene’s contractual position. That would be a daily, weekly fixture on the public coverage if you start getting into that.

“This is going to happen very quietly behind closed doors, privately and then there will be an announcement.”

“This is a club that has had remarkable consistency in terms of its manager, its football philosophy, its direction. The consistent support from the board and our principal owner for our manager is pretty much unmatched, through some difficult periods as well. So if its consistency players are looking for, I think Arsenal would be a very attractive place to come.”

So Gunners fans how do you feel/ there was a time in the middle of last season when it seemed as if the majority of the fans were thinking about about a post-Wenger Arsenal.

The club had seemed weakened by selling high profile players and then replacing them with players who many fans thought were just not as good had put a huge strain on the team. There was also a growing disquiet about the fact that the clubs hadn’t won any trophies for eight years. It rankled Wenger who seemed to lose his rag at a press conference when asked about his ongoing contract negotiations.

Arsenal now however are in a much stronger position financially although there are still murmurs among the fans that Wenger won’t spend the alleged £100 million transfer budget on marquee signings, but instead keep choosing youngsters.

So Arsenal fans how do you feel about Arsene seemingly staying for at least a few more years?


Another German league player on Arsenal’s radar. Trio depart

By Stefano on June 6th, 2013

Yesterday we reported that Arsene Wenger was mulling over a move for Bayern Munich’s Austrian David Alaba. The player allegedly wants to play in central midfield and with Bastian Schweinsteiger and Javi Martinez already in the team that isn’t looking too likely.

Today though there are reports that Arsenal are in for another Bundesliga player,

According to The Mirror Wenger is keen on Matthias Ginter, a 19-year-old defensive midfielder, from German top-flight side Freiburg in a deal worth £5m.

The paper says

Wenger’s scouts have been tracking Ginter for months and the Gunners have spoken to Freiburg about doing a deal for the 6ft 1in German.

The key issue for Arsenal at the moment is what while the infux of youngsters is both welcome and interesting to the fans – Arsenal have apparently already signed Yaya Sanogo, and are quite advanced in the deal to pick up the ‘new Bendtner’ Alexsandr Mitrovic - it does feel that the manager isn’t concentrating on spending cash on that marquee signings that they crave so much.

The move for Jovetic feels dead, Higuain is all over the place and Rooney was always a non-starter. Bony is possibly going to Portugal while Benteke will cost at lot of money. David Villa could be an Arsenal player soon. But the arrival of a 31 year old isn’t going to assuage fans who want the club to spend big to compete with the likes of United, City and Chlesea.

There will be more money for wages too with Andrey Arshavin, Denilson and Sebastien Squillaci all shown the door yesterday.


Are Arsenal about to move for a Bayern Munich star?

By Stefano on June 5th, 2013

This could be interesting, very interesting. Austrian site has suggested that Arsenal have put Bayern Munich star David Alaba on their wish list.

The site suggests that Arsene Wenger is hoping to lure the 20 year old who played in the Champions League final, to The Emirates by offering a central midfield position. For Bayern he has largely been used as left back.

Alaba is certainly tough in the tackle, and his versatility could prove very useful to The Gunners (he can also play on both wings). But a central midfield role? On one hand it seems very unlikely, but then again the French man has a habit of taking players and finding new positions for them, so I guess this is just about believable.

Alaba’s contract is up in the summer of 2015 and we obviously don’t know how highly he features in Pep Guardiola’s plans.

File this as unlikely, but one to keep an eye on.


Arsenal go head to head with Spurs for David Villa. Could Wilfried Bony be the back up plan?

By Stefano on June 5th, 2013

This afternoon has seen a bit of news on a couple of players who Arsenal have apparently been tracking for ages.

The first is an update from Talksport about the possible future of Vitesse Arnhem striker Wilfried Bony. In case you missed the chat from a few weeks ago Bony has impressed Wenger, and indeed half of Europe with his phenomenal goal scoring exploits last season.

The Ivorian banged in astonishing 31 goals in 30 league matches in the Eredivisie, which has brought him to the attention of not just The Gunners but also Liverpool, and West Ham.

It seems now that the Bony issue could come to a head with Benfica manager Jorge Jesus about to bid for the player. If he does it might then trigger moves from other Premiership clubs.

Bony is likely to be relatively cheap – well compared with the likes of say Higuain, Jovetic and even Benteke. However the Dutch league isn’t really one of Europe’s strongest so the jury is out on whether he can perform something similar in the Premiership.

At the other end of the scale, veteran Spanish striker David Villa has been talking about his future. In news reported by Catalan publication El9 Villa is being chased by Spurs, Liverpool and Arsenal.

Interestingly El9 states that the Spurs are offering the most money with a 15 million Euro bid on the cards, but Arsenal could yet gazump Spurs as they can offer Champions League football.

Villa said…

“I have another year of contract and today I am a Barca player,”

“After the Confederations Cup I will sit down and analyze everything.

“For now, I’m happy to be in the best club in the world.

“I have a contract with them and after my holiday I will see see what happens.”


Fabregas could return to Arsenal this summer – says his agent’s dad David Dein

By Stefano on June 5th, 2013

David Dein may be an ex-Arsenal board member who left in acrimonious circumstances a few years ago. He is also the father of agent Darren Dein who represents, among others, Cesc Fabregas, so when Dein senior speaks about potential transfers it is worth taking in every word

So despite saying that he wanted to stay at Barca earlier this week and arranging a meeting with manager Tito Vilanova to discuss the problem it is by no means certain that the Spaniard won’t be returning to Arsenal.

Quizzed about Fabregas Dein senior said

‘You can never say never in football,’

‘I know Arsene Wenger will try to improve the squad if he can.’

I do wonder if the Fabregas is the reason why Arsenal haven’t put the money down for Jovetic. Since his transfer Fabregas has been playing in a more advanced position than he did at Arsenal and there would potentially be a clash with Jovetic who is a deep lying striker. What do you think?


Arsenal update: Jovetic’s Chelsea link, Capoue, Mitrovic

By Stefano on June 5th, 2013

There’s no sign that Arsene Wenger has made his mind up yet as to who is going to be his marquee striker singing this summer. Rooney and Higuain are still in contention and it might be a long shot but Lewandowski hasn’t yet put pen to paper for Bayern. Then there’s the wild card of Michu.

The one player that Wenger seems to have cooled on a little is Stevan Jovetic and according to a lot of sources this morning Arsenal’s failure to sort out a deal for the Fiorentina striker has let some old foes in.

Chelsea, who in the past few years have nabbed Arsenal targets Hazard, Mata and Cahill, are apparently mulling over a move for the talented Montenegrin.

Jovetic has said that he wants to move on and so far Arsenal and Juventus have been the front runners. This morning though The Times says this about José Mourinho’s tranfer plans.

The newly appointed Chelsea manager has told the board that he wants to make the Montenegro striker his first signing after returning for his second spell at the club and talks have opened with Fiorentina over a £23 million transfer.

I get the feeling that this one is going to go on all summer long.

Another long running saga is the future of Etienne Capoue. The 24 year old French midfielder has also signaled his intent to move on from Tolouse. The player, who is away on international duty, said to L’Equipe.

‘If he (Casanova the Toulouse coach ) wants to keep me, that is good,’

‘That says that he counts on me, that he is happy with me.

‘But it is football. I feel it is the moment to leave, to play in big competitions.’

The player is also being tracked by Arsenal’s rivals Spurs too.

Finally Arsenal are looking to land another talented European youngster, HITC has details on Sky Italia’s reporting that Arsenal are in pole position to sign Aleksandr Mitrovic from Partizan Belgrade.

The 18 year old featured in the Serbian 2012/13 Team of the Season and he scored 15 goals last season.

Here’s what he is capable of.

Arsenal have already apparently signed Yaya Sanogo and Dan Crowley this summer. So for all the noises about buying experienced players Arsene Wenger still seems very keen on adding young players to his squad.


Arsenal update: Michu a new target? Higuain making positive noises

By Stefano on June 4th, 2013

If I had a quid for every time I heard a Gunners fan suggesting that lanky Spanish goal merchant Michu would look good leading the Arsenal line I’d be a rich man.

But does Arsene agree? Well The Mail seems to think he might. The paper is running with a story this morning that Wenger might not just be hoping to raid Swansea for centre back Ashley Williams but Michu too.

The paper says

But Sportsmail can reveal a shock move for Swansea’s prolific striker has been discussed by Wenger and his scouting team.

Well Michu scored 22 goals last season, which coincidentally is around the same number that Theo Walcott bagged, but you get the feeling that with his clinical finishing he would have scored a lot more had he been given stronger service.

Michu isn’t of course the only option. The Mail also reports that the club are mulling over moves for Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema and Manchester City striker Edin Dzeko too.

Meanwhile some interesting new quotes have emerged from Spain that are attributed to Madrid’s want away striker Gonzalo Higuain,

The player confirmed this weekend that he wants to leave Madrid, but we only got half the quote in the UK media and interestingly some of the rest of what he says refers to Arsenal.

Higuain said

“I am leaving Real Madrid, the decision has been made, I feel the time is right and I want a change of scenery. I have not decided where I will go, but the club already know that I want to go. It was my decision. I feel that this is the end of my cycle here.

“I shall choose the next team on the basis of sports projects. Arsenal? They might suit me. I’m still young, I have goals and I will do everything to achieve them. Juve? They are many possibilities. I want to go where I can seriously be put to the test. There are offers and I hope that I hope that they [Madrid] do the best for me and for themselves. Besides I was bought for 15 million and now I will be sold for a figure considerably higher.”

Wenger has been a fan of Higuain for several years, the striker boasts some very impressive stats – 122 goals in 266 games for Real Madrid – he seems a better fit than say Jovetic, especially if Arsenal re-sign Fabregas. I guess much depends on how keen the player is to try his luck in Italy.


Arsenal update: Wenger speaks about Rooney and Fabregas and has Villa signed a pre-contract deal?

By Stefano on June 3rd, 2013

Arsene Wenger has been speaking to Al Jazeera and may or may not have been dropping some pretty serious hints about who he fancies signing in the summer.

Judging by these words I think we can safely assume that Wayne Rooney, who Wenger has previously described as most talented English player he had seen, is on his radar

“Rooney could be an interesting player for everybody in the world, who would turn him down?

“David Moyes’ first challenge is to go in to Manchester and bridge the gap between him and Rooney. If that is feasible or not depends on his personality and if Rooney bears a grudge or not, we will see.

“It will be interesting to see how that will be handled.”

Of course Rooney may end up staying at United, but Arsenal would be a great choice for the England player if he decides to stay in England. His wages might be a problem, but if Rooney is set on leaving United and staying in the Premiership he might have to be prepared to take a hit,

Wenger has also been lavishing praise on another Arsenal target – their former caption Cecs Fabregas

“I think at the moment he’s lacking the confidence of being a regular player,” said Wenger. “Recently he has not been that.

“Cesc is such a passionate player, a player of such quality, that it must hurt him not to play in every single game. That’s what he misses. When you come in and out you never play with full confidence.”

If Fabregas does decide to leave Barcelona it is highly likely that he will return to Arsenal. I think though the smart money is on him sticking it out for another year at least.

There’s more here.

Speaking of Barcelona Talksport is reporting that striker David Villa has apparently signed a pre-contract deal with Arsenal.

Spanish football expert Axel Torres says he has been told by a source that Barcelona striker David Villa wants to move to England, with the Spain international reportedly showing the club’s board an pre-contract agreement to sign for Arsenal.

The ball is then in the Catalan club’s court, but with Neymar in the bag and other possible moves opportunities might be fairly limited for Villa at the Nou Camp next season.


Arsenal update – Jovetic claims, Wanyama keen and Higuain leaving Madrid

By Stefano on June 3rd, 2013

There’s plenty of Arsenal-related gossip so let’s kick off with the biggie.

Stevan Jovetic will become an Arsenal player very shortly! Well so says Caught Offside – so make of that what you will. Apparently Juventus’ campaign to sign the player has hit the buffers and Arsenal are now in pole position to secure the signature of the Montenegrin.

The website says

Arsenal have reportedly reached agreement on a fee for Fiorentina striker Stevan Jovetic, said to be in the region of €31m (£26m), and as personal terms with the player are said to have already been reached it seems only a matter of time before a deal will be completed.

I guess that even with £70 million burning a hole in his pocket Arsene Wenger is still careful with the cash which might be why this deal has gone on forever. It is still a case of I’ll believe it when I see it though…

Lots of sources are claiming that the young Kenyan midfielder Victor Wanyama is very keen on an Arsenal move with a figure of around £10 million mooted. However the Mail also has a story that Wanyama’s mentor Jean-Marie Abeels who has known the player since he was young thinks that the move might be step too far too quickly for the player.

He said

‘He is still young and I have told him he needs to be careful about when he takes the really big step.
‘I think myself that it’s better that he has a step in between before going to the really big level.’

Finally Gonzalo Higuain has put lots of clubs on red alert after confirming that he will be leaving Real Madrid in the summer.

The striker said:

“I am leaving Real Madrid, the decision has been made, I feel the time is right and I want a change of scenery.
“I have not decided where I will go, but the club already know that I want to go. It was my decision.
“I feel that this is the end of my cycle here. I came here for £10 million and I am leaving for more.
“I want to go where I can prove myself really. I have several offers. I hope that Madrid do the best for me and for themselves.”

I think the player is almost certainly Juventus bound but I’d also be surprised too if Arsene Wenger at least didn’t make enquiries about the player.


Moyes is serious about Fabregas. Are Arsenal and Wenger too?

By Stefano on May 29th, 2013

In what could be a nightmare scenario for Arsenal fans it appears that David Moyes has made Cesc Fabregas his number one target.

According to The Daily Mail Moyes ‘has targeted midfield as the area in greatest need of strengthening and that Fabregas is one of his prime targets, following an initial meeting to discuss potential acquisitions for this summer.’

The Mail also suggests that United will have a rival for the ex-Arsenal player too in the guise of Man City. It also says that Barcelona are ready to let the player go and that inevitably the Premiership seems his most likely destination.

The news is certain to send a shiver down the spin of Arsenal fans. The thought of both Fabregas and Van Persie lining up against them next season would certainly be massively depressing for Gunners followers.

The question is though – if Fabregas is coming back to the Premiership will it not be to his old club?

There are some goods signs for Gooners to cling on to. Firstly Fabregas is still an Arsenal fan and regularly watches the games either on TV or when he can at the Emirates. Secondly Barca still owe Arsenal money from his, and Alex Song’s transfers.

Wenger himself said in January

“I’m not convinced that he will not one day come back here because he is a real Arsenal man. He loves Arsenal, he watches every Arsenal game.”

Also there are unsubstantiated rumours of a buy back clause which was inserted into his Barca contract.

The question is though do Arsenal want the player back? His skill and vision would certainly rejuvenate Arsenal’s midfield.

I think that the thought of Fabregas lining up for United would be too much for Arsenal fans. But if there is no rooms for him in a midfield brimming with world class talent – well Cazorla and Wilshere anyhow – it might just be where the Spaniard ends up.


Arsenal slacker to become world’s best paid player – you couldn’t make it up!

By Stefano on May 29th, 2013

You really couldn’t make it up.

The man responsible for one of the greatest ever Arsenal comebacks, who then spent three years offering virtually nothing, looks set to become the best paid player in the world.

According to The Hard Tackle Andrei Arshavin has reportedly signed a deal with Azerbaijani football club Khazar Lankaran on a one year deal that will net him €2million a month. That’s even more than Samuel Eto gets for playing for Anzhi Makhachkala.

There’s no confirmation from the player yet, but at a press conference the club announced…

“Andrei Arshavin really officially signed for our club. We are pleased that our player joins the ranks with such an impressive track record, is considered one of the most talented players in Europe.”

“Arshavin transition from the Arsenal in the Khazar-Lankaran has become a landmark event not only for the club but for the whole of the Azerbaijani championship. Hope that our cooperation will be fruitful. We are absolutely sure that Andrei has not yet said its last word in football. ”

In case you were wondering about Khazar Lankaran – they play in the Azerbaijani championship and have only won the title once back in 2007. The club which is managed by John Toshack is bankrolled by Azerbaijani entrepreneur Mubariz Mansimov and dubbed by the local media as “Caucasian Chelsea”


Are Chelsea about to gazump Arsenal again?Jovetic on his way to the Bridge?

By Stefano on May 29th, 2013

Over the last few years Chelsea have been Arsenal’s nemesis in the transfer market. The Gunners have often made a move for a player only to be gazumped by the Blues who come in offering more money and better wages.

It happened with Cahill and Mata and then last season with Hazard. So is it about to happen again this time round with Arsenal’s supposed umber one target Stevan Jovetic.

I must admit I thought Arsenal were playing a risky game with the Montenegrin. By not coughing up the cash they opened the door for Juve who also seemed to have beaten the Gunners to Higuain too. The club are clearly hanging on making the assumption that Fiorentina won’t sell to Juve and that Arsenal will end up being the only club in for the player and will get a cheap deal.

But if the Express is to be believed

Jose Mourinho will sign his new £12m a year four-year contract with Chelsea on Monday, and wants to challenge the club’s London rivals for Jovetic.

With Falcao off to Monaco and Cavani probably heading for City Jovetic could be the hottest young striker that has not yet been picked up by money bags clubs.

Chelsea never seem to have a problem meeting club’s financial expectations for a player unlike Arsenal whose determination to secure a bargain seems to mean a very paralysis at times in the transfer market.

There are still lots of great players who the Gunners could buy – Bony, Benteke and even Rooney to name a few – but it seems once again that Arsenal are just not competing for Europe’s elite players.

So where do you think Jovetic will be playing next season? Arsenal, Chelsea, Juve or even Fionrentina?


Arsene, if Arsenal sign Ashley Williams, please don’t make him captain

By Stefano on May 24th, 2013

Aaah the curse of the Arsenal captain. Give a player that armband and you can be sure as anything that within a season or two they will be off into the sunset. It happened to Henry, Fabregas, RVP and if the goss is right Thomas Vermaelen very shortly too.

Quite Arsene Wenger never gave it to Squillaci is beyond me…

But what’s this – there’s a new Arsenal captain on the horizon. That man is Ashley Williams and if The Daily Mail is right he will soon be an Arsenal player and possibly even bossing the side next season.

So do Arsenal need Williams? Well yes, and errr no.

If Vermaelen does leave then Arsenal are clearly short of centre backs. Wenger seems to quite like Miguel, but isn’t yet ready to elevate him to the first team. Besides any team competing for all those trophies next season needs three quality centre backs.

Williams has had an excellent season or two, reads the game well, isn’t afraid of the hurly burly and generally would be an excellent buy.

However I do wonder of Wenger has found his perfect centre back combination already in the guise of the BFG and the French fella.They have gelled so well together recently and their understanding seems almost telepathic.

What would concern me, and I guess many other Arsenal fans, is Wenger naming Williams captain then feeling obliged to start him. Unless he is convinced that the Koscielny/Williams pairing is the future it would be a very silly move. Half of the reason why it took so long for Wenger to start Mertesacker and Koscielny was that he felt he couldn’t leave his captain out. As Vermaelen’s form dipped so did Arsenal.

So by all means welcome Ashley Williams to Arsenal. But in my book for now he is our third choice CB. Sure he will get lots of games next year, but please Arsene don’t make him captain…

if you really want to shore up that defence can we please have Capoue?

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