Posts Tagged ‘Arsenal’

Football

Arsenal update: Goalkeeper gossip, Wilshere on Chelsea and why Wenger might drop Giroud

By Stefano on February 18th, 2013

There’s lot of Arsenal news this morning with the papers dominated by recriminations over the defeat to Blackburn and previews of the game on Tuesday against Bayern Munich.

Jack Wilshere has been talking eloquently about both subjects.

On the Blackburn game Wilshere said

“It’s obviously disappointing to go out of the FA Cup. We know what this trophy means in England and we wanted to go all the way.

“We created a lot of chances we’re just disappointed we couldn’t put it in the net. “They probably created one chance and they got a lucky goal but that’s the FA Cup. Giantkillings going on all the time in this cup and it happened today.”

On the game against Bayern, Wilshere said that he hoped the Arsenal team would find inspiration from an unlikely source – their West London rivals Chelsea

“They weren’t having a good season and ok they got a bit lucky in some games but they showed great character and we need to do that now. We need to come together as a team. We’ve got good leaders here we’ve got a good team atmosphere and I think that’s going to help us now.

Meanwhile Bayern Munich’s Bastian Schweinsteiger has tackled the Chelsea issue straight on saying that the German side are much stronger this season. He told The Daily Mail.

“We are hungry to win the Champions League. This team have been to the final twice and didn’t win. We have more experience and we’re moving towards our aim. Compared to the final against Chelsea, we are stronger. We have more good players and we are stronger on the bench. This is a crucial point.

“In the final, Chelsea brought on Fernando Torres and Florent Malouda and that helped them win the game. That’s a big difference to last season. We have more options to change.”

The Guardian has a round up of all the latest Arsenal related transfer news. Not that any of it is what you would call proper news. The big issues seems to be around the future of Wojciech Szczesny. Is Arsene in for a new keeper? Well according to The Guar the main names in the frame are Barcelona’s Victor Valdes and Liverpool’s Pepe Reina. Both of which seem pretty unlikely.

Finally Goal has an interesting take on who might play for The Gunners against Bayern. It is pure speculation of course but the website thinks that Wenger might drop Olivier Giorud, who had a turkey on Saturday, and play Theo Walcott down the middle.

Its rationale is this

Arsene Wenger believes his strongest offensive weapon in the last-16 first-leg encounter is a pacy, mobile front three that can hit the runaway Bundesliga leaders on the counter-attack. The Arsenal manager is believed to be leaning towards starting with a front trio of Theo Walcott, Lukas Podolski and Santi Cazorla, although he could revise his plans following training on Monday.

Goal also thinks that Aaron Ramsey will get a start too which would explain why he didn’t play on Saturday.

I think there might be legs to this one. Bayern are probably more susceptible to pacy players who catch them on the break rather then old school strikers like Giroud who could be easily marked by their superb defensive paring.

We will find out soon enough.



Football

Rumours of Thomas Vermaelen to Barcelona? The Arsenal captain’s curse again!?

By Stefano on February 18th, 2013

Here’s an interesting question for Arsenal fans. Would you cash in Thomas Vermaelen for a Barca player or two?

Well that’s the rumour that has been picked up the Daily Mirror which suggests that the Catalans are lining up the Arsenal defender as a replacement for Eric Abidal who is unlikely to return to to-level footballer after his illnesses.

In return The Mirror suggest that Arsenal will be offered several Barca players including David Villa.

The paper says

Wenger has gone cold on the idea of signing Barcelona striker David Villa. However, the Spanish giants will try to reignite his interest if it will help get a deal for Vermaelen done.

Barcelona have already put around £40million aside for new signings in the summer and that pot will grow if they can offload Villa, versatile defender and midfielder Adriano and young forward Cristian Tello.

Vermaelen, 27, is under contract at Arsenal until October 2015.

So Arsenal fans what do you think? Might this be a sensible move for Arsene Wenger? It is clear that Thomas Vermaelen isn’t the commanding figure he was a couple of seasons back. There are even those who think that the Arsenal captain isn’t part of the best defensive pairing which they believe to be Mertesacker and Koscielny.

Then again it would be tough to replace a player with his skill and experience.

It is interesting too that this could end up being another example of the curse of being captain, for several players that Wenger has given that role to has left the club not too long after.



Football

Five conclusions from Arsenal’s FA Cup disaster

By Stefano on February 17th, 2013

arsene-screen

Although a feeling of discontent has been fermenting at The Emirates for several seasons now it is not too often that you hear boos at the end of a game. I heard boos yesterday, a lot of them.

As has been endlessly documented by the media in the last twelve hours Arsenal’s failure to push past Championship side Blackburn Rovers now means it is very likely it will be eight years without a trophy.

For as club the size and the stature of Arsenal is that acceptable? I am not entirely sure. Remember the Gunners went years in the 80s without a trophy and nineteen years in the 70 and 80s without a league title. No club has a divine right to silverware.

However, as has also endlessly been pointed out ,Arsenal fans pay handsomely for their lack of success. They left a beautiful historic stadium several years ago as they were told that the club needed bigger revenues from home games or else they wouldn’t be able to compete. It must feel like they have been sold a pup.

Personally I don’t think that the club is in crisis just yet. A sizable defeat to Bayern on Tuesday followed by losing at home to Villa – now that would be a crisis.

So what went wrong yesterday. Here are five conclusions.

1 Wenger got his team selection wrong – Personally I do not feel like he got it too wrong. The team that started should have been way too strong for Blackburn, and that really was a fluke result. Given his concerns about Jack Wilshere he should not have started. As for Theo and Santi, yes they could have begun the game, but in Alex Oxlade Chamberlain and Tomas Rosicky Arsene had two high quality ready-made replacements. Perhaps the big mistake was not playing Podolski as he has linked so well with Giroud of late. But then Gervinho had a great AFCON, so you can see why Wenger was keen to give him a full game.

2 Arsenal didn’t actually play that badly – Ok so who you going to blame? The defence? They were fine apart from one misunderstanding. The midfield? Diaby had a solid game and had several shots on target and was unlucky not to get on the score sheet. Rosicky played reasonably well and Aterta was solid. What let Arsenal down yesterday was their front three.

3 Arsenal are paying the price for not buying a striker – If I had been Wenger I would have told Barca that unless Villa joined Arsenal on a loan deal with an option to buy in the summer that he would never sell them a player again and that any Arsenal player who might be Spain-bound would be heading for Madrid. Even without Villa Wenger and his team had thirty days to find a striker and failed.

On one level you have to admire the belief that Wenger has in Giroud. It is clear that buying a proper RVP replacement – or even an second string striker – would have unsettled him. The French striker is though a work in progress. He has a good goals to chances ratio, but the diffuclty for me is his lack of pace, and perhaps more importantly his positional sense, means that he just doesn’t get into enough goal scoring positions. Yesterday Arsenal seem to be just peppering the Blackburn box with passes and crosses, but no one was there. Giroud may end up as an Arsenal legend, but at the moment he has a long way to go. Ironically Arsenal’s likely failure to qualify for the Champions League will mean that the high profile clinical striker won’t come anyhow. One last thought. What happens if Giroud sustains an injury against Bayern? Who will lead the line then?

4 Something is not clicking with Alex – Remember when AOC first played at The Emirates? His confidence was infectious. He seemed to have a huge amount of self belief. That confidence seems to have been dented and yesterday he was once again a shadow of the player Arsenal fans got so excited about last season. I am sure that he will be an integral part of the team going forward, but there is clearly something that isn’t quite right.

5 Wenger doesn’t really care that much about the FA Cup – At the press conference he stated the importance of fourth place. The tragedy is that I think if you gave Arsenal fans a choice between winning the FA Cup and missing a CL season and finishing fourth they would plump for the former. And as important as that Bayern game is he must know in his heart of hearts that Arsenal are not CL contenders. On the way home fro the game I heard some fans talk about how excited they were about Tuesday. Not that Arsenal would give the Germans a game mind, but to see the team that they think will win this year’s CL. Now that’s sad, really sad.

Anyway, what do you think? Did Arsene get the team badly wrong? Is he right to have so much faith in Giroud? Let us know in the comments.



Football

Did Everton and Arsenal pay the price for their FA Cup cynicism?

By Stefano on February 17th, 2013

Perhaps I am an old fuddy duddy, but it made me want to feel very queasy listening to David Moyes and Arsene Wenger talk in their pre FA Cup weekend press conferences. I am not a fan of either clubs, but if it was my manager I would feel the same. How dare a manager of a club, especially the size of Arsenal and Everton, tell fans that their priority is not winning a trophy but finishing in the top 4, so the money comes rolling in…. So much for the fans giving their loyalty and support day after day and their hard earned cash week in week out – you’d think a day out at Wembley and a chance of a trophy would be a priority as a chance to say thanks. Alas no, the modern day club is all too caught up in reaching for the pot of gold in the vein hope it will happen.

So, no real problem with Wenger and Moyes being honest – that’s one thing, but in one day they have knocked further nails into the coffin of the FA Cup. Surely someone somewhere can get in amongst the Premier League managers and tell them a decent bit of PR will cost them nothing… not only that, what sort of message does it send out to fans? Football is about winning – winning honours, and as yet I have not seen any club have an honours roll that includes finishing 4th in the Premiership – perhaps someone will soon.

Perhaps it is all just a sign of what is wrong with the game we love – I say game, it ceased to be that some time ago. A Carling Cup and FA cup final appearance was never enough for the Fenway boys at Liverpool – they wanted top 4, so Kenny Dalglish was sacked and in came Brendan Rodgers to finish probably lower than last season.

Laughably Spurs did finish 4th but that was not enough for Daniel Levy, who wanted a longer term vision or whatever – anyway, Harry was dispensed with and in came AVB. It is just all so wrong. Whatever your club, ask yourself what memories come to the fore as a fan… it is winning, trophies, the captain holds that cup aloft, silly jigs around the stadium and drunken players atop the bus next day….. Not the board of directors smiling to themselves dreaming of the riches of the Champions League….

This is why I believe that Wenger and Moyes should be charged with bringing the game into disrepute – for disrespecting fans, showing a distinct lack of understanding of what fans want… Arsenal fans ask yourselves – trip to see Bayern Munich, trip to Wembley to try and win a trophy. Everton fans – a qualifier in Vilnius or a trip to Wembley?? For Arsenal fans Wembley is a distant dream again anyhow.

Over to you!



features, Football

Why Chelsea have the best celebrity fans – but Arsenal get the Hollywood A List

By Stefano on February 16th, 2013

noel-640-80

Simon Poulter of the always excellent What Would David Bowie Do? on football’s oddest celebrity fans – not that Noel is odd…

Good Evening…er….Molineux

Shortly before referee Massimo Busacca got the final Group B match of the 2006 World Cup underway – pitching Sweden against Sven Goran Eriksson’s England – I suddenly became aware of having my photograph taken. Quite a lot.

A large number of people in front of my friend ands I at Cologne’s RheinEnergieStadion were snapping away as if we were royalty. Rock royalty.

Three minutes into the game, Peter Crouch came on to replace the already-crocked Michael Owen. From behind me came an explosion of Mancunian fury: “What the fook is ‘e doing?!”. It was Noel Gallagher. For the next 30 minutes, up until Joe Cole settled everyone’s nerves with a quite spectacular goal, almost every England touch was described invariably by the guitar god to my stern as “shite”.

As every football fan knows, The Bloke Behind You is always the best source of entertainment. And thus Noel proved to be. You sort of wished he could be behind you at every match. Except that would mean taking out a season ticket at Manchester City.

Raquel Welch and Chelsea?

Chelsea regulars like me rarely go long without a celebrity sighting: I recently had a ‘moment’ when Mick Jones (the punk icon, not the lead singer of Foreigner) pitched up two rows behind me in the Upper East Stand of Stamford Bridge. During Chelsea’s ‘Swinging London’ era, it was commonplace for the ultra-fashionable to fit in an afternoon watching Chopper Harris kick lumps out of Billy Bremner’s shincaps (reciprocated in kind, of course).

It was rumoured that Sophia Loren was a fan, that Raquel Welch had shown up during shooting of One Million Years B.C. (hopefully not in the chamois bikini she wore for that film), and that even Steve McQueen had once paid a visit.

Today you will most certainly see the likes of Suggs (supplier of Chelsea’s 1997 official FA Cup song, Blue Day), Tim Lovejoy, Johnny Vaughan, David Baddiel, Fiona Phillips, Alec Stewart, Sean Locke, Phil Daniels and, occasionally, Damon Albarn shuffling out of (and into) the Bridge with the rest of us mere mortals. Lord Dickie Attenborough remains the club’s Life President, and he has certainly not been alone in the luvvies patronising the club.

Canadian rocker-come-photographer Bryan Adams, who lives on the Chelsea Embankment, is also an occasional patron of Chelsea. The diminutive Canadian once stood in front of me at an FA Cup Final involving Chelsea, trying to disguise himself with a fishing hat and a trenchcoat, while oblivious to the fact the six-foot blonde he was with was drawing attention his way in any case. Still, hats off.

From Madonna (Guy Ritchie allegedly introduced her) to presidents (Clinton, while an Oxford Student) and prime ministers (John Major), Chelsea has attracted plenty of celeb interest over the years. But the club is far from alone.

The FA Cup usually flushes them out. Sometimes, without any effort. The BBC’s traditional pre-Cup Final coverage always includes awkward interviews with scarfed-up TV personalities desperate to appear down with the beautiful game.

Chirpy Scouse comedians

If Liverpool are involved, you can bet the house on Jimmy Tarbuck tearing himself away from the golf course to ‘ho-hoh’ his way through a few gags about Bill Shankly and John Lennon.

Speaking of the latter, conspiracy theorists have noted that, for a city like Liverpool, with two major football clubs separated only by Anfield Park, The Beatles were clever enough to avoid swearing any allegiance to either the Red or the Blue team. George Harrison was once quoted as saying dryly: “There are three teams in Liverpool and I prefer the other one.”

Pop and football have, at times been strange bedfellows. While Paul Heaton’s patronage of Hull City should never been in doubt, Michael Jackson’s support for and even vice-presidency of Exeter City is one of the more bizarre tales of music and the beautiful game coming together. Jackson was once paraded at half time at Fulham by his friend and club proprietor Mohammed Al-Fayed. Curiously it prompted a verse of “I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles”. Can’t possible imagine what they meant.

Perhaps the most famous – if unlikely – rockin’ football fan has been Elton John. At various times, Sir Elt has been chairman and proprietor of The Hornets, though today he is a happily settled Life President alongside Graham Taylor, his team manager during his periods of proprietorship.

Another unlikely club boardroom visitor is Robert Plant. Percy is a lifelong Wolves fan, and, since 2009, a very involved club vice-president. Odd to think that he has no interest in reuniting Led Zeppelin permanently, but he’s happy to administer the half-time tombola at Molineux.

Strangely, though, for what is to be considered the national sport, football has not been as prominent in the lists of pop star likes and dislikes as one might expect. There is, of course, Rod Stewart and his tearful support for Celtic (mostly manifested from a distance, seeing as Rod lives in Los Angeles for most of the time), while there is the dubious example of Chiswick-born Phil Collins supporting QPR in the 70s (though Brentford would have been closer) before pitching up at White Hart Lane some years later as, apparently, a Spurs fan.

London clubs, in generally, have rarely struggled to attract the great and the good to their terraces.

Chas’n'Dave and co

Spurs have been spectacularly blessed with famous supporters, ranging from the hardcore like Bruce Forsyth and cockernee-kneesup merchants Chas’n'Dave, to actor Warren Mitchell (whose TV character Alf Garnett was, famously, an ‘Ammer), the Colombian literary giant Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Patsy Kensit, er…Ray Liotta and Norway’s King Harald V.

White Hart Lane could also easily open a musician’s enclosure, where you could expect to see Jeff Beck (even though he comes from Chelsea country, Carshalton), Adele (well, she’s everywhere else), the former S-Club 7 person Rachel Stevens, Andrew Ridgeley, The Jam’s Bruce Foxton (Paul Weller, for the record, is a Chelsea boy), All Saints’ Shaznay Lewis, Emma Bunton and Paul Young, clearly defying the attention of his hometown club, Luton. Somewhat disturbingly, Status Quo’s Francis Rossi is a Spurs fan, despite coming from Crystal Palace territory.

Hollywood A Listers at The Emirates

Across north-east London to the Emirates Stadium, Arsenal boasts a very different celebrity clientele altogether. You could start with the unexpected – Dale Winton (although with his skin hue, he’d be a better fit with ‘The Tanners of Leatherhead FC) – before noting Arsenal’s affinity with the North London literary set (obvious example being Nick Hornby, on whose football obsession formed the basis of an entire writing career) as well as decidedly un-blokey media types like Sir David Frost and Piers Morgan (the target of much Twitter sledging by Lord Alan Sugar).

The problem with Internet-based research is that you never know what is merely plausible and what is utter nonsense. With Arsenal, there’s a thin line between the two. Because, if you were to believe it, the club has a solid following of Hollywood A-listers: Demi Moore, Matt Damon, Spike Lee, Sarah Michelle Geller, Kevin Costner, Keanu Reeves, Jackie Chan, Owen Wilson.

London, it would seem, holds a disproportionate dominance of clubs with celebrity support, or at least clubs with prominent celebrity support. For every singular Sean Bean supporting Sheffield United, or Stephen Fry following Norwich, Arsenal could – like Spurs – fill an entire section with thespian talent: Colin Firth, Gillian Anderson (well, she did grow up in North London), Saffron Burrows, Hugh Laurie (oh, don’t you pray for the day “Is there a doctor in the house” bellows from the Emirates tannoy system?), pasty-faced vampire Robert Pattinson, national treasure and Bubbly Blonde™, Barbara Windsor, Idris Elba (who grew up in West Ham country with a Manchester United-supporting father). Music is no stranger to the Gunners, either, with Roger Daltrey (despite hailing from QPR territory), Roger Waters, Mick Jagger, Kemp brothers Gary and Martin, and John Lydon old holding a candle for the Gunners. Preposterously, Jay-Z and Sean ‘P-Diddy/Puffy/Puff Daddy/Whatevernext’ Combs are all said to be a fan of Arsene Wenger’s red-and-white army, though what evidence exists to support this claim remains to be seen.

I started this section on famous Arsenal fans by mentioning the bizarre notion that Dale Winton is amongst their number. Let me close with the equally strange by suggesting that there is some evidence, somewhere, that Arsenal have drawn the support of both the Queen (yes, she of the Olympic parachute stunt) and her Action Man grandson, Harry. Making no leap whatsoever between the Prince and this next example, it is also understood that Osama Bin Laden was a Gooner. And, no, I didn’t mean “goner”.

Around London, there are obscure pockets of celebrity club endorsement: Leyton Orient, so often the forgotten son of London football, claims the comedian and Fighting Talk regular Bob Mills as it’s most prominent fan; Crystal Palace has David ‘Kid’ Jensen, while Fulham has ‘Diddy’ David Hamilton, who also works as the club’s half-time announcer.

Beyond London, beyond even the Midlands (Frank Skinner, Adrian Chiles at West Bromwich Albion, Jasper Carrott at Birmingham), we return to the north-west.

Madchester

Manchester’s two main teams have enjoyed no end of attention from celebrities, ranging from the genuinely passionate (Gallaghers Liam and the aforementioned Noel – who now must have separate boxes at Manchester City) to the suspiciously arriviste (Justin Timberlake, once photographed in a Man U beenie hat).

Compared with Arsenal, Manchester United doesn’t fare as well as you’d expect for celebrity fans, or at least fans who are out in the open. Prominent supporters include Ian McShane, whose father played for the club, Angus Deayton, the Guildford-born smart-arse, Sweden’s Ulrika-ka-ka-ka-ka-ka Johnsson, chirpy Oxford musical contrarian Thom Yorke, and Eammon Holmes. Man U’s celebrity ranks were recently augmented by Usain Bolt, who regularly tweets manically about the Reds, and was – possibly jokingly – offered a trial by Sir Alex Ferguson, presumably eyeing fastest man on the planet as a long-term replacement for Ryan Giggs.

So, with the FA Cup stirring back to life this weekend, with clubs like Luton (former TVam presenter Nick Owen and, famously, Eric Morecambe), Millwall (principally, Danny Baker) and Barnsley (Darren Gough, Sir Michael Parkinson) entering fifth round ties, be on the lookout for ITV cameras hunting high and low for bescarfed, rosette-adorned celebs, and be waiting, equally, for unfunny comments from Messsrs Chiles, Dixon and Southgate in the studio as a consequence.

To discover which teams British Rock Royalty,  from The Beatles to Coldplay, support go here



Football

Arsenal update: Benteke and three others linked, Parlour has a ‘funny feeling’ about the FA Cup

By Stefano on February 16th, 2013

Morning Gunners. First up the best of the transfer gossip. The Sun is once again linking Arsenal with Aston Villa’s in form striker Christian Benteke, but then spoils it by saying that Spurs are tracking him too.

To prove the point there’s a bit of flakey quote from his agent who says

Kismet Eris said: “It is normal that if you go to a club and do well, other clubs will show an interest.

“Christian has shown he can play in England.

“So why not take the step up to the next level?

“Right now his focus is on helping Aston Villa stay in the Premier League.

Can’t see this one myself.

If you don’t fancy Benteke no worries as Caught Offside pinpoints the three players it believes will be Emirates bound come the summer. Two you know all about – Etienne Capoue and Stevan Jovetic. The third is PSG’s centre back Mamadou Sakho who is apparently eyeing up a move to the Premiership. Sahko is frustrated as he is not getting many games for PSG at the moment. Were he to sign for Arsenal he would probably be fourth choice centre back too.

On to today’s game and there’s plenty of speculation as to who will start with all sorts of fringe players from Miquel to Arshavin predicted to get a game. It is a game that many pundits think that Arsenal will win. In particular Gunners’ legend Ray Parlour thinks that this could be Arsenal’s year.

In an interview for Bwin picked up by Ladyarse he says

“I’ve got a funny feeling Arsenal could do it this year, they’re desperate for a trophy, they haven’t won a trophy for eight years.

“I think Arsene Wenger’s taking these cup competitions a lot more seriously than he did in past years, I mean you look at the other cup competition and he really put a strong side out, I know they got beaten by Bradford, but you can see the intent, they’re having a go this year.

“It won’t be an easy game against Blackburn but I expect Arsenal to win the game.”

It’ll be interesting to see where Arsene plays Gervinho today. Might he rest Olivier Giroud and Theo Walcott and play the Ivorian through the centre with AOC providing the ammo from the right? Or will he replace Podolski on the left.

We will find out soon enough.



Football

Wenger admits Arsenal tried to sign Gareth Bale from Southampton, but rated Theo Walcott more important

By Stefano on February 15th, 2013

One other really great snippet from this morning’s conference which has been picked up by ESPN and others is that Arsene Wenger had admitted that Arsenal were looking to sign Gareth Bale from Southampton, but instead determined Theo Walcott to be the better prospect.

And it is a decision that he doesn’t regret.

Talking about signing Theo Walcott from Southampton in 2006 but not taking Bale too Wenger said :

“At some stage, we were looking to take the two if possible. We got Walcott, and I am very happy with that. Look, if I tell you the number of players we did not sign that we should have signed, you will be amazed. It’s the same for every club – you sometimes miss out on players.”

In words that will probably anger a few spurs fans Wenger said that he feels that while Bale is a brilliant player he isn’t the third best player in the world behind Messi and Ronlado as has been suggested by some papers today.

“He has the potential to develop and to get close to the players you compare him to, but Ronaldo and Messi?

“Messi has won two or three Champions League titles. He has won a few championships. He scored more than 90 goals last year. Let’s not go too quick [in comparing Bale to Messi]. You are always very quick here, but let’s slow down a bit.”

Bale was in sensational form for Spurs last night scoring twice in their win over Lyon in the Europa Cup.

Tottenham play Arsenal in what might turn out to the the Champions league fourth place decider on March 2nd.

Pic James Boyes



Football

Arsenal update: Wenger’s press conference has injury news (Gibbs/Wilshere), update on Villa and more

By Stefano on February 15th, 2013

Arsene Wenger had a pretty busy time of it this morning at the Arsenal press conference fielding questions about upcoming games against Blackburn and Bayern as well as the future of Santos, Villa and more.

Firstly on the injuries, Wenger revealed there was a possibility that Kieran Gibbs could be back in time for the game against Bayern

‘Kieran has a small chance to be fit for the second match against Bayern’

But he also cast doubt on the fitness of Jack Wilshere

‘I will not take a risk [with his fitness], with the rest of the season in mind and what happened before’

As for the game against Blackburn Wenger confirmed

‘The players who will not start are the players who have played many games recently. We are favourites, Blackburn have nothing to lose and they have a squad of Premier League players’

As for Villa, Wenger said

‘I am not on the case. I like the player but at the moment we have some immediate targets’

The door is however still open for Andre Santos

‘Of course he can have a future at Arsenal. That depends as well on the ins and outs during the summer. ‘He moved because he lost a little bit of confidence and he needs to play’

So what do you make of that lot then?

Well it seems that Arsene is focusing much more on the game against Bayern than Blackburn and that Saturday could see some fringe players – Miquel, Rosicky, maybe even Arshavin – get a game.

As for Bayern, the news that Gibbs might be fit is hugely encouraging for Gunners fans. Wenger would have to play Thomas Vermaelen in the left back berth and he is also struggling to get fit.

Personally I think that the comment on Santos makes sense. He has been a good player before, but clearly has struggled this season. He wouldn’t be the first Arsenal player ever to have a drop off in from.

As for Villa, that door it still open, but if I were a betting man the money would be on a younger striker arriving in the summer

 



Football

Arsenal and Spurs to scrap for German midfielder Sebastian Rode

By Stefano on February 15th, 2013

The Daily Star has an interesting (but let’s be honest rather speculative) story this morning about how Arsenal are going to rival Spurs in the race to sign Eintracht Frankfurt’s German midfielder Sebastian Rode.

The 22-year-old midfielder has been excellent form this season which will be in the minds of the Spurs management team who tried to sign him last summer. The paper says that Arsenal are interested too, but has no source for their story.

The youngster has eighteen months on his contract and clearly has ambition beyond Frankfurt.

“The interest is known to me. I’ll keep my feet on the ground and not start dreaming,” he said.

“Eintracht Frankfurt and I have agreed to postpone the talks so I can concentrate on my football.”

Bayern Munich are also said to be monitoring the player .

This one seems like a long shot for any London team at the moment. The paper doesn’t have any links to either Arsenal or Spurs, so I’d take this with a big pinch of salt. Arsenal, and Spurs are monitoring players all across the continent, but that doesn’t mean that they are anywhere near signing any of them.

Rode would however clearly fit both sides requirements for a tough tackling central midfielder.



Football

Arsenal target Stevan Jovetic’s Fiorentina future is uncertain

By Stefano on February 15th, 2013

It seems that top of Arsene Wenger’s striker wants list these days is not David Villa but Fiorentina’s Stevan Jovetic.The 23 year old has been in sparkling form this season, something which hasn’t escaped the attention of Man City’s Roberto Mancini too. Italian league leaders Juventus are also said to be very keen on the Montenegrin.

So there’s good news for the English clubs as Fiorentina’s sporting director Daniele Prade yesterday admitted that he is unsure of the player’s future

“We’re talking seriously with his agent at the moment”, the sporting director told Fiorentinanews.com as reported by Sportsvibe.

“We will see what happens from here until the end of the season. It depends on where we finish in the league, our goals for the future and other things.”

The big sticking point for Jovetic is that he wants to play in the Champions league. Fiorentina are currently sixth in Serie A and battling with the two Milanese clubs for fourth place. If they aren’t successful then Jovetic may choose to force the club’s hand.

Obviously not qualifying for the Champions League would also rule out Arsenal, who face Bayern Munich in the next round of the competition on Tuesday, too.



pick of the blogs

The World’s priciest mobile phone, Valentine’s Day disasters and Football’s top 12 romances

By Stefano on February 14th, 2013

Top stories from Brandish and our pals

The Clash’s incredible 1979 New York shows and the story behind that pic

The best Valentine’s Day disasters – punch ups, murder and Spaghetti attacks

The mobile phone that costs £7,000 – and it isn’t even 4G

Football’s 12 top romances – John and Frank, Ronaldo and himself and more

10 conclusions – Man United V Real Madrid

Realchester Madnited – A composite of the best players of the two CL giants

Loads of rock stars support Arsenal, very few support Man United and which team The Beatles supported

Cool retro cycling gear from, wait for it, H&M

The latest on Arsenal’s injury woes – and who Wenger should play against Blackburn

Very cool festival jacket from Liam Gallaher (and he has played a few) and some cool lightweight coats

Hands on with the latest Adidas Boost and SpringBlade running trainers



Football

Arsenal injury update – and who should play against Blackburn?

By Stefano on February 14th, 2013

This Saturday Arsenal welcome Blackburn Rovers to The Emirates for an FA Cup clash they are desperate to win. The FA Cup remains the bit of silverware most likely to end the club’s seven your trophy drought.

Yet Arsene Wenger has plenty on his mind when it comes to deciding who is going to start in the line up. For three days later Arsenal face a much tougher challenge in the guise of Bayern Munich who visit The Emirates for the first leg of their Champions League tie.

Wenger also has quite a few players coming back from injury, so he needs to decide does he risk them against the Championship side on Saturday and keep them for Bayern game.

First up then here’s what Arsene said this morning to the club’s website about the various injuries.

Thomas Vermaelen – He is looking quite good and is possibly back for Saturday. He should be in the squad.

Jack Wilshere – He is having tests today [Thursday] and tomorrow. He is looking better. He is still a doubt for Saturday. He’s got a kick on the thigh.

Laurent Koscielny – That is a problem. He has a test today and tomorrow exactly like Wilshere.

As for the others

Ramsey is alright. Sagna is alright. Jenkinson is suspended. Diaby is available again and all the other players are alright.

The really good news than is Thomas Vermaelen’s recovery. It would make seen to put him on the bench and save him to play at left back in the Bayern game.

If we consider that Koscielny is likely to be a non starter on Saturday and that he need to be preserved to play alongside Mertesacker on Tuesday, Wenger could try Miquel against Blackburn. Monreal will be able to play left back and Sagna at the right.

If Wilshere is left out of the squad then Arsenal’s midfield could be Arteta, Cazorla, Diaby with Walcott and Podolski on the wings.

Wenger can also pick Gervinho, who had a splendid AFCON and could well feature.



Football

Arsenal update: Barcelona want €20m for David Villa. Is he too expensive now?

By Stefano on February 14th, 2013

Is this the end of the David Vila to Arsenal story? It certainly feels as if it might be that way.

Catalan newspaper Mundo Deportivo, which has been reported in the UK here, has stated that Barca have put a €20m price tag of their star striker – way more than the £10m (€11.5m) that Arsenal were reported to have bid in the transfer window.

So if Arsenal want to land the striker they will have to smash their transfer record to secure a player who will be 32 in December.

There’s still plenty of the season left and Villa may yet platy an important tole for the Catalan club’s bid for La Liga and The Champions League, but if that is not the case the striker, who has struggled with injuries, is very likely to push for a transfer.

The player was apparently very keen to move to London, but the chances of him becoming a Gunner now see remote. It could be a last desperate attempt by Barca to get as much money for the player as possible, so it will be fascinating to see how clubs respond.

Wenger has recently reiterated that he is looking at many strikers across Europe and that Stevan Jovetic, who is also interesting Man City is likely to be his number on target.



Football

Arsenal update: Henry wants to come back, Fabregas not so sure

By Stefano on February 14th, 2013

Arsenal’s talismanic French man is apparently keen on a third stint at the club. At a press conference this week he reiterated his desire to be involved with Arsenal in any role

Henry said

‘All I know is that I will be involved in the game for sure and hopefully be involved with Arsenal because that is the heart talking there, that’s the team that I support. Forget about me as a player, that’s the team I support.

‘In any type or shape, if I can go back to the club I would love to do it, but it’s not up to me. That would be a desire, more a desire than something that can be officialised, I still have two years playing here and then I will see.

‘But I would definitely love to be back with Arsenal.

Henry was also dismissive of Arsenal fans who have been critical of Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger this season.

‘For me, it is difficult to hear, difficult to see, but for me the boss will always be Arsene – always great for me and I know what he has done for the club,” he said.

From this point it is hard to see exactly where in the Emirates management structure he would fit. But many Arsenal fans would love the idea of their favourite son returning possinbly as a manager in waiting under Arsene Wenger’s tutelage.

One player who won’t be returning any time soon is Barcelona’s midfielder Cesc Fabregas. The Spaniard has been to several of Arsenal’s home games this season and watches each game on television. There were rumours that he might even be considering a loan move back to his old club.

Wenger also said last year

“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.”

However Fabregas has underlined his desire to stay at Barcelona.

He told Spanish paper El Mundo Deportivo:

“I went back to Barcelona to stay forever, if possible. I fight with all my might to stay here as long as possible. I’ve already lived experiences abroad and I have done well.”

One person



Football

Gary Hooper wants a move to Spurs – who are also eyeing up Osvaldo

By Stefano on February 14th, 2013

Yesterday we mentioned how Arsenal and other clubs were tracking Celtic’s Victor Wanyama. Now it seems that one of his team mates might also be mulling over a move to the Premiership.

Gary Hooper, who is you your remember was the subject of five failed bids from Norwich during the transfer window, is rumoured by the Metro to be ready to push for a move to the Premiership with Spurs his chosen destination

The Metro says

Hooper is understood to have made it clear to manager Neil Lennon that he won’t be signing a new contract at Celtic, and was reportedly promised a summer switch if he didn’t push through a transfer last month.

The ex-Scunthorpe striker duly obliged, and despite Liverpool, Newcastle and a string of Russian clubs all showing an interest Hooper has told his agent to try to negotiate a switch to Tottenham.

Hooper was on the books at Spurs as a youngster but never quite made the grade there. Having been a success in the Champions League this season with Celtic Hooper would quite possibly get a second shot of the competition with Spurs, providing they continue their current vein of form.

Spurs apparently made enquiries about the player on transfer day but were put off by the English stars £10 million price tag. It seems that they may be ready to pay the money this time.

It is depressing news for Celtic fans, but Hooper has made it clear that he has ambitions to play more regularly for the national side and the BBC acknowledged on Tuesday England boss Roy Hodgson is only an occasional visitor to Glasgow.

Meanwhile The Express is suggesting that Spurs are also going to chase another one of their winter transfer targets in the summer. Roma’s Pablo Osvaldo has scored 11 times in 18 games this year but the Express says Roma are willing to sell him because of his poor disciplinary record.




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