Posts Tagged ‘Arsenal’

Football

Arsenal will finish above Spurs like last year – so says Mikel Arteta

By Stefano on February 28th, 2013

In case you hadn’t noticed there is the small matter of the North London derby this weekend – a game with added piquancy seeing as the winner will not only have bragging rights but also the upper hand in the race for fourth place.

Spurs seem to be favourites at the moment given the form of Bale and their strong unbeaten run – however no one seems to have told Arsenal midfielder and vice captain Mikel Arteta

He has been talking about how he is sure that The Gunners will finish above their rivals

Arteta has been summing up the spirit of the team that finished ahead of Spurs last season. He told a press conference.

“What we’ve learned [from last season] is that you can never put your arms down because you never know what’s going to happen. You keep at it and they may lose points. That’s what happened last year.

“We kept at it, we had an unbelievable run and we ended up finishing third. We have to look at us first before looking at the rest, and that’s what we’re trying to do.

Arteta also spoke about the confidence the team has following their recent victory over Aston Villa.

“When things aren’t going in your direction, like the Blackburn game [where] you analyse the stats of the game, it’s absolutely amazing that we haven’t won the game. In the Bayern game, they had a spell of 25 minutes in the first half where they were much better. Apart from that, I don’t think the difference was that big.

“Saturday was very important for us. We couldn’t lose again at home. It’s four out of five [wins] now in the Premier League so we’re in a good run in this competition and it’s a massive game coming up on Sunday.

“I think we’re doing a lot of things right, but the things that we’re doing wrong are costing us too much in the games. [If] we are able to cut out those mistakes, I know we have the potential to win the games.”

So what do you think? Will Arsenal finish above Spurs this season?



Football

Arsenal update: the £100,000 per week wage cap is history

By Stefano on February 28th, 2013

In the light of recent financial news it now appears that Arsene Wenger and the Arsenal board are ready to break the self-imposed £100k wage cap per week the club has for players.

The money is certainly there with the club working at a financial profit, yet also having reserves of over £120 million as well as incoming sponsorship money from The Emirates and other sources – which may total more than £100 million – some of which will be used to buy and fund players.

IB Times, among others, says

The Gunners’ Premier League rivals pay well upwards of £100,000 per week to several key players and, in the case of Ivorian Yaya Toure and Dutchman Robin van Persie (for Manchester City and Manchester United respectively) the bill crosses £200,000 per week.

Arsene Wenger has often been criticised for failing to use the significant financial funding available to him, either to sign big-name players or pay existing talent on par with other clubs.

In the past the club have lots out on many key players – Cahil, Mata and Hazard mentioning just the ones who went to Chelsea – because they either bid too low or didn’t offer high enough wages.

If the club doesn’t qualify for the Champions League as remains a real possibility then they will have to compensate players by offering seriously high wages in order to attract the best talent.

Wenger has spoken of his admiration for strikers like Edinson Cavani, Falcao and Stevan Jovetic but all three would almost certainly demand well north of £100k per week to join the club.



Football

Arsenal transfer update: Sunzu confusion, Gonalons linked

By Stefano on February 27th, 2013

There is an interesting story in Here Is The City about the fate of the brilliantly named Stoppila Sunzu. If you remember rightly the Zambian defender Sunzu was apparently all lined up to be Arsenal’s first signing of the window with the association in his own country reporting that a move to North London was imminent.

And then it went odd, very odd. The player seemed destined for Reading and then Sunderland were reported to be interested and then nothing.

HITC asks the question what is going on with the player and puts the blame for the lack of activity squarely at the feet of the player’s team.

It says

The confusion stems around his agents and representatives who appear to have not been doing a very good job of representing their client’s best interests. They had reportedly informed the Zambia international, and any interested suitors, that his contract at current club TP Mazembe was invalid therefore he was eligible to leave on a free transfer.

In fact the DR Congo club, one of the richest football establishments in African football, are requesting a fee of £4 million as his contract is more than legally binding, a fact confirmed by Mazembe’s club president Moise Katumbi in an interview with the BBC last week:

“The matter has been resolved after we went through the contract with everyone and the player admitted his contract was still valid. The problem is that his handlers have been lying to him so that he rebels against us. We suspect they wanted to get all his transfer fees by declaring him a free agent. TP Mazembe is a professional club and we will never stand in the way of our players as long as the right procedure is followed.”

The club are apparently keen to cash in on one of their prize assets and £4 million would be enough to land the player. But it seems that for now at least he is going nowhere.

The Metro has an update on a player who is alleged to be one of Arsene Wenger’s long term targets.

Lyon midfielder Maxime Gonalons has apparently been tracked by Arsenal’s Mr French Football Gilles Grimandi for several months now and has put in a string of impressive performances. He’s a defensively minded midfielder who has only ever played for Lyon. The Metro reckons he will cost the Gunners around £12 million. Arsenal are reported to be tracking several midfielders including Etienne Capoue of Toulouse and Newcastle’s Chieck Tiote.

How would you spend Arsenal’s cash? Check here.



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Arsenal’s top transfer targets – How Arsene Wenger should spend that £70 plus million

By Stefano on February 26th, 2013

Yesterday Arsenal issued its latest financial update - and guess what, the club is in pretty rude health. Profits might have dropped a little, but just look at that whopping £123 million reserve in the bank. And there’s also sponsorship money to be added, plus season ticket cash and maybe even Stan’s idle millions (dream on…).

So the money clearly is there and in the summer the rebuilding programme needs to begin in earnest.

The big question for Arsene Wenger is how much re-building is really necessary? Are we looking at a wholesale clear out of the Arsenal team, or just some minor pruning but with some big name additions?

The rather huge sized elephant in the room is whether Arsenal will qualify for The Champions League? Not qualifying will lose Arsenal possibly as much as £20 million – thought I have seen it quoted as much more.

The more worrying thing would be trying to attract players to a club that aren’t mixing it with Europe’s finest. However Liverpool and Spurs have signed some pretty impressive players in the knowledge that they will be busy on Thursday nights rather than Tuesday and Wednesday.

So, Arsene, here is my take as to how you should spend your cash. Of course I personally think it unlikely that you’ll spend more than £40 million (0ne striker, one midfielder and a keeper), but we can all dream…

My little spree would come in at £120 million with most of that cash going on Cavani and Di Maria and that is assuming we have CL football next year. If we don’t then it comes in at about half that figure. Maybe the latter is more realistic anyhow…

Btw I think we should cash in on Vermaelen as well as losing fringe players like Arshavin, Fabianski, Mannone, Bendtner, Chamakh and possibly Gervinho too – which could generate as much as £30-40.

So what do you think? Who should Arsenal sign?

Goalkeeper

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Ok, so he has made mistakes this season (but then again so has Joe Hart) but for me Wojciech Szczesny should still be an integral part of Arsenal's future. I think the dip in form is temporary and besides has he really been that bad? Arsenal do however need to sign another keeper to replace Mannone and Fabianski both of whom will probably be off in the summer. I think buying a number one keeper like a Reina (who has also been indifferent this season) is not the right move. His stats don't actually compare to the Pole. Instead Arsenal should opt for Sunderland's Simon Mignloet - who would be a snip at around £5 million. Or alternatively sign a keeper with plenty of experience that they can share with the Pole. After Monday's performance West Ham's Jussi Jääskeläinen would be a good bet. So that's £5 million gone already.

 



Football

Too late for Arsenal? David Villa told he can leave Barcelona by club’s VP

By Stefano on February 26th, 2013

Here is yet another thing guaranteed to set Arsene Wenger’s teeth on edge this morning. After spending days chasing the player in the transfer window only to be told that the club wouldn’t let him go, it now transpires that Barcelona are willing to let David Villa leave.

Talk Sports is reporting that he will not be kept at Barcelona against his wishes, according to the club’s vice-president Josep Maria Bartomeu.’

As you may remember Wenger was desperate to sign Villa in the window and it is pretty clear that Arsenal’s lack of firepower (and the not too clinical finishing from Gervinho and Giroud) might be the thing that prevents them from securing a Champions League qualification place.

Talk Sports says that

In an interview with BTV, Bartomeu said: “The coaches hope he is here next season but we will not retain any player that is uncomfortable. In that case, we will talk to him to seek a solution.”

So are Arsenal likely to renew their interest in Vila in the summer? I wouldn’t have thought so. He would have been a perfect fit at a time when the club had a very real (and still unaddressed) problem. Come the summer and Wenger will have a lot of other options to look at (Jovetić, Cavani, Benteke) and a player who is pushing 32 and has been wracked by injuries probably isn’t going to top his list.

He might want Champions League football too – and that may or may not be an issue for Arsenal.



Football

Why Jack Wilshere should be Arsenal’s new captain sooner rather than later

By Stefano on February 24th, 2013

As every Gooner knows the Arsenal captain’s arm band is cursed. Pop it on to your shoulder and with a few months you’ll be off playing elsewhere in Europe. It happened to Thierry Henry, Cesc Fabregas and Robin Van Persie and now we hear that Barca are sniffing round Thomas Vermaelen.

Now there is a school of thought that suggests that Arsenal should cash in on the Belgian. His form, like his fellow central defenders, has been poor this season and there is a theory that being captain has affected his game. It has also caused problems for Arsene Wenger too because, to be frank, there have been several times this year when Vermaelen hasn’t really merited a place in the team and Wenger has picked him rather than dropped him.

Given the issues faced by Arsenal captain then the news that Arsene Wenger is considering giving Arsenal’s outstanding midfielder Jack Wilshere the armband, might not be universally welcomed by Arsenal fans. But to be honest it makes sense and needs to be done sooner rather than later. Firstly it may help Vermaelen. I personally am not too bothered whether he stays or goes – and part of me thinks that a wholesale clear out of the central defence is must for Arsenal to push forward – but it will take the pressure off and will help to concentrate on his game and hopefully recapture the form that propelled him towards the role in the first place.

As for Wilshere, well it is clear that he is the hub round which Arsenal work. His central midfield position is the perfect place for a leader to play. He is the future for the club.

There is also a precedent for Arsenal having a young captain too. Cesc Fabregas was of a similar age when he took the arm band and Tony Adams was just 21.

What Arsenal desperately require at the moment is leaders and Wilshere is someone who will drive the team forward. He is very mature for his age, will start every game and had a huge amount of passion for the club.

If, as seems likely, Arsenal don’t make the Champions League next season, then there will be a transnational year ahead and maybe the re-building starts with Wilshere taking the reins.



Football

How Aston Villa can counter Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere

By Stefano on February 23rd, 2013

Charles N’Zogbia has returned to the Aston Villa side to great effect in recent weeks, collecting three assists and one goal in five games, for a Villa side that lacked inspiration and creativity. Deployed in a ‘number ten’ position behind Christian Benteke, with Gabriel Agbonlahor and Andreas Weimann providing pace on the flanks, N’Zogbia’s direct dribbling has proved useful for connecting midfield and attack.

But few managers play their usual style at the Emirates, with many choosing to sacrifice attacking ambition in order to stiffen the backline or midfield. Paul Lambert is a serial formation switcher and a difficult manager to predict: he played two upfront at the Emirates with Norwich last season, but that was towards the end of the campaign, with Norwich’s mid-table position assured. With Villa still fighting relegation, Lambert might opt for more caution.

He’ll remember the excellent job Barry Bannan did in the first fixture at the head of the midfield triangle, playing an energetic role and pressing as soon as Arsenal’s defenders played the ball into midfield, meaning Arsene Wenger’s side struggled to get the ball forward.

The presence of Jack Wilshere, rested in that game, will make this more difficult, but also makes it imperative that Villa aren’t outnumbered in midfield.

Against an Arsenal side with three talented passers, it would be a huge risk for Lambert to field only two men in the middle. Pushing N’Zogbia wide might be an option, but three proper central midfielders makes sense for Villa this weekend.

This post courtesy of Pick Our Team is by Michael Cox. PickOurTeam is a new type of football community giving fans an opportunity to have a meaningful say on the formation and selection of their team. PickOurTeam is the voice of the fans – collecting views on who should play where and ratings on how the players, manager, and referee perform each week. Every match the findings are compiled and presented back to the fans. The article was originally posted here.

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Forget Reina and Valdes. Stats show that Wojciech Szczesny’s is Arsenal’s number one

By Stefano on February 22nd, 2013

There has been a lot of talk this week about Arsenal players who are apparently not good enough to play for the club. One of the more surprising names on that list is Polish keeper Wojciech Szczesny.

Szczesny, once rated as one of the finest young goalkeepers in the world has apparently become so unreliable that Arsenal are now considering buying a replacement in the guise of Liverpool’s Pepe Reina, Sunderland’s Simon Mignolet or Barca’s Victor Valdes.

Szczesny’s critics point to an indifferent season blighted by industry. Some even suggest that the player’s difficulties stem from the Euro 2012 competition where he was sent off in the opening game against Greece and didn’t feature again for his national side. He hasn’t been the same player since.

Personally I don’t buy it. I am with Wenger on one thing and that is Arsenal needs a British core at its heart built around Wilshere and Waclott and I would include Szczesny on that list too. Sure I know he is Polish, but he has been at Arsenal since 2006 and in many ways he is a core part of the young British clique at the club.

Also I don’t get a lot of the criticism of the player. I think the weakest part of his game is his distribution which is admittedly poor, but this is a small part of being a goalkeeper and is something that he can work on and improve.

Where I think he has suffered this season is being the last line of defence with an indifferent group of players in front of him. he has certainly been busier than previous seasons and that may have made him look like a weaker player.

TalkSport have compiled stats for Szczesny and compared them to Reina and Valdes. In almost every area the young Pole more than holds his own. His shot stopping is very good and his record at catching the ball as good as his rivals.

Ultimately what Szczesny needs is better protection and that means Wenger looking again at the form of his trio of centre backs.



Football

Arsenal update: Sagna exit? New right back lined up, Chelsea’s Nathaniel Chalobah tracked

By Stefano on February 22nd, 2013

So Gunners fans – does Bacary Sagna have a long term future at the club? That’s the question being posed this morning by The Guardian.

The right back,  who was the only member of the Arsenal defence to come out of Tuesday’s game with any credit, is mulling over his future after only being offered a one year extension to his contract.

The big concern is Sagna’s injury record. He has broken his leg twice in two years and given the fact that the player has just turned 30 it seems  that his days at Arsenal may be numbered. The Guardian reckons that PSG will be interested in the player, who has 33 caps for France.

Arsene Wenger has already hinted that Sagna’s future is in the balance. Last week the manager said

“He has criticised his own form recently but the things you never question from Bacary are his commitment, his mental attitude, his desire to win and his intelligence. If he has not been playing as he would expect, it is down to his injury. It takes time to come back, and he has played through a lot of pain – in fact, he is one of the strongest players I have met when it comes to doing that. He’s hugely respected here, and if he’s not at the level we know he can achieve then we are tolerant because we know it’s not down to a lack of commitment. It’s just because he has come back from a long-term injury.”

Arsenal have a potential replacement in Carl Jenkinson, who was superb when asked to cover for Sagna last season. This year his form has been a little more mixed. Sagna is apparently injured at the moment and won’t play on Saturday against Aston Villa giving Jenkinson the chance to remind Arsenal fans what talent he has.

The club are also being linked with another right back in the guise of Feyernoord’s Daryl Janmaat.

According to The Mirror

Janmaat, who has won three Dutch caps, joined from Heerenveen last summer and has been watched by Arsenal who already have a partnership with Feyenoord which has seen them loan players and work together.

The Daily Star reports that Arsenal are planning a shock move for Chelsea starlet Nathaniel Chalobah who is currently on loan at Watford. According to the paper Arsenal believe they can tempt the player, who can start in both defence and midfield positions, to move to North London by offering more regular appearances that he would get at Chelsea. The 18 year old Englishman has been in superb form for Watford this season.

 



Football

Arsenal update – Wenger to stay and get huge war chest, Fabregas hints at return and more

By Stefano on February 21st, 2013

According to The Mirror no matter what happens this season Arsene Wenger won’t be collecting his P45. The Arsenal boss will instead be around for next season and will have a large chunk of cash to spend in the summer.

The Mirror reports that a £70 million reserve is ready for the Arsenal boss to spend big on a series of player. However it also says that if Arsenal don’t qualify for the Champions League that sum will be reduced and only a couple of players will be on the way.

The Mirror says that Arsenal insiders are worried about how the fans’ current disapproval of the Frenchman is affecting him.

Its says

The biggest worry is that the fans – who have begun to turn – will carry on making it tough for Wenger if results do not improve.

The Frenchman has looked under increasing strain, yet those closest to him and within the club believe he is determined to ride out the storm and show he can turn Arsenal’s fortunes around before his current contract expires next year.

Meanwhile Cecs Fabregas has re-affirmed that if he ever left Barcelona he would return to The Emirates

He told Sky Sports

“I haven’t spoken to [Wenger] about that but it is good news for me that he is saying things like that because I was sad when I left. When I spoke with [Wenger] I was happy in a way because I was able to shake his hand and look him in the eye. I would have never forgiven myself if I had left in a bad way. [It's an] amazing club that has given me everything.

“I’m just happy that they have a good memory of me. Who knows? In the future I don’t know if I will come back to Arsenal. If one day I had to leave Barcelona, probably the first thing I will look into is Arsenal, but at the moment I’m very happy here. I could not think of a better team for me.”

Finally Sky Sports had got its team of experts, including several ex-Gunners, to suggest what might happen next to the Arsenal boss. All five pinpoint his transfer strategy as being the main reason for Arsenal’s demise.

However Stewart Robson adds that there has been some mismanagement of the side. He points to how nervous the players look and that Steve Bould hasn’t been given free rein to work with the defence.

He believes that it isn’t the team that is weak but the way they are managed.

Arsenal cannot keep selling their best players, but man-for man, there is not that much difference between Arsenal and Bayern Munich. The difference was that one team was organised and the other had no tactical understanding.



Football

Five things Arsenal fans were thinking at the final whistle last night

By Stefano on February 20th, 2013

A few things that Arsenal fans were thinking at the end of the game last night.

1 That this was their last European home game for a while – Many Gunners aren’t confident that Arsenal will over haul Spurs and/or Chelsea and secure a Champions League place next year. So last night could be the last Champions League night at The Emirates for quite some time.

2 That the defence needs a total restructuring – Not just a player or two but complete restructuring. Sagna played well, but the other three were generally very poor. Vermaelen isn’t the player he used to be, Koscielny might not have been fit, but looked sluggish and Mertesacker simply isn’t good enough. The team needs a defensively minded midfielder to add some protection and at least two new centre backs.

3 That Wenger needs to go – Maybe not today, or even if Villa beat Arsenal on Saturday, but at the end of the season. Piers Morgan might been advocating his removal now, but I think that a lot of Arsenal fans think he deserves the chance to try and turn things around this season. He could then leave with a degree of dignity in the summer. Arsenal need to be thinking about his replacement now.

4 The board that runs their football club is a shambles - Installing Silent Stan was a defensive move to prevent Usmanov from taking over. Kroenke has kept his part of the bargain by keeping quiet and letting the current team manage the club. However they simply aren’t up to the job. There’s no real leadership and no significant injection of cash and Arsenal need those to compete. If Usmanov was the controlling shareholder and brought Dein back they would have both.

5 Wilshere could become the new Gerrard - By that I mean the only realty outstanding member of a largely mediocre team. A player whose loyalty keep him at the club but who would achieve more if he left.



Football

Arsenal update: Tracking Lyon’s Gonalons and Grenier and Bayern’s Gustavo

By Stefano on February 19th, 2013

Arsene has probably got other things on his mind tonight, but maybe tomorrow he will be back to planning on how he will re-shape his squad in the summer. That’s actually assuming he is still holding the reins at the Emirates – you can now get 12-1 from Ladbrokes on the Frenchman leaving or getting sacked.

Caught Offside have picked up on a story from French site Mercato365 claim that Arsenal scouts were watching a couple of players at the Lyon Vs Bordeaux game last night.

Top of Wengers’s list is likely to be defensive midfielder Maxime Gonalons – a man who could be seen as a replacement for Alex Song. the 23 year old is captain of the Lyon team and has played six times for France. He is noted as being a player who is very defensively minded.

Chances are though that another player caught the Arsenal scouts’ eyes last night – Lyon’s playmaker Clément Grenier. The player scored twice and set one goal up. He is quick, creative and versatile.

Lyon are doing fairly well this season but financial issues might mean they have to offload a few of their key players in the summer. Both could be good buys for Arsenal, that is if Newcastle don;t get there first.

According to Goal Wenger is also interested in Bayern Munich’s Brazilian star Luiz Gustavo as another possible replacement for Song. The player has a £15 million price tag is unlikely to play tonight – he is behind Bastian Schweinsteiger and Javi Martinez in the running – and may not have played as often as he would have expected for the German side.

He would be a quality buy and potentially could be a key long-term pillar of the Arsenal midfield.



Football

Christian Benteke’s agent has big plans for the player. Arsenal and Spurs take note

By Stefano on February 19th, 2013

There has been a bit of a buzz about the future of Aston Villa’s Christian Benteke. Now his agent seems to have poured a little more oil on that fire by suggesting that his charge is ready to take the step up to the next level.

The Mirror also suggests that Spurs are now odd-on favourite to land the player who is also being linked with Arsenal and Chelsea.

Benteke’s agent Erik Kismet : “It is normal that if you go to a club and do well, then other clubs will show an interest.

“Christian has shown that he can play in England so why not take the step up to the next level if the opportunity is there?

“At the end of the season, interested clubs will talk to Villa, but it has to be right for Villa, the buying club and Christian.

“If all three parties are agreeable, something could happen, but right now his focus is on Villa, helping them stay in the Premier League.”

Both Spurs and Arsenal are very likely to be chasing a new striker in the summer and Benteke, who has proved he can play in that arena by scoring 15 goals so far this season, will come at a premium given his record. Villa boss Paul Lambert says it will take a lot of money to prise the player away from Villa.

However if Villa don’t win that relegation battle then his exit would be a near certainty.

The player could do a great deal to endear himself to Spurs fans by scoring for Villa against Arsenal when the two clubs meet in the Premiership at The Emirates at the weekend.



Football

Dani Alves urges Barcelona to sign Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere

By Stefano on February 19th, 2013

Yesterday it was Thomas Vermaelen’s turn to be linked with a move to the Nou Camp, today it is Jack Wilshere. For Danio Alves has been saying how much he would love the English midfielder in the Barca team, possibly as a replacement for Xavi or Iniesta.

Thierry Henry, Cesc Fabregas, Emmanuel Petit, Alex Song and Marc Overmars have all, made the move to the Catalan club in recent years and now Alves believes that his clubs should be in for the 21 year old.

Alves told reporters in Spain (which was reported in the UK by Goal)

“He is a great player who we have met playing against Arsenal and without doubt he can reach the height of the players we have here at Barcelona like Xavi and Iniesta.”

“He has a lot of quality and a great personality. If I was given the chance to choose, he is a player that I would sign for Barcelona.”

Alves also saw Wilshere close up during the recent international between Brazil and England.

Wilshere, who signed a new contract last year, is obviously going nowhere for now. However were Arsenal not to qualify for the Champions League on a regular basis it would be clear that there would be plenty of clubs ready to taker the player.

The Daily Mail reports on the parallels between Wilshere and Bayern’s midfield maestro Bastian Schweinsteiger. The paper notes that in many way they are very similar players and that…

Bastian Schweinsteiger once sparkled in the gloom for Bayern Munich and Germany much as Wilshere does now for Arsenal and England.

The midfield battle between Wilshere and Arteta and Schweinsteiger and Kroos tonight will be a fascinating one.



Football

Arsenal’s Laurent Koscielny misses training – who might Arsene play tomorrow?

By Stefano on February 18th, 2013

Some very worrying news for Gunners fans on the eve Arsenal’s games against Bayern Munich. There are reports that French centre back Laurent Koscielny missed training this morning because of ongoing problems with a calf injury.

It has to be said that Koscielny looked fine against Blackburn (fitness-wise) and that this might just be a precautionary move by the Arsenal medical team.

However if Koscielny does miss tomorrow then Arsene Wenger has a tricky decision to make. It will mean that Thomas Vermaelen will be needed to partner Per Mertesacker at centre back, creating a problem as to who will play at left back?

Wenger could move Sanga to that position with Carl Jenkinson at right back, or he could draft in Ignasi Miquel.

Either way it wouldn’t be ideal given Bayern’s awesome firepower




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