Posts Tagged ‘Arsenal’

Football

Arsenal update: the club is tracking Celtic’s Victor Wanyama

By Stefano on February 13th, 2013

Commiserations to Celtic who were pretty unlucky and the victim of some iffy refereeing in their Champions League game against Juventus last night.

But with progression in the CL unlikely and a rather uneventful stroll to the Scottish Premiership a cert again next year the English vultures are starting to circle.

And top of the list of players who could be heading south is the Kenyan Victor Wanyama.

According to The Mail Arsenal apparently had the powerful holding midfielder watched last night and are mulling over a move for him in the summer.

The club are painfully aware that they have never replaced Alex Song and although Mikkel Arteta and Aaron Ramsey can both play in the holding role they lack the physical presence required when Arsenal need to be more defensively minded,

The paper also suggest that the club are keen on Etienne Capoue, who they apparently almost signed on transfer deadline day and West Ham’s Mohamed Diame.

I suspect that the Arsenal scouting team might be spending a fair bit of time in Glasgow in the coming months.



Football

Arsenal’s finest CL moment remembered – beating Real Madrid at the Bernabeu

By Stefano on February 12th, 2013

I must admit to not having been to too many of Arsenal’s away Champions League games, but when we drew Real Madrid in in 2006 a trip to the Bernabeu seemed like too much of an opportunity to miss. A huge game in Spain against a very strong Madrid side. Besides I did enjoy watching real at the time. And anyway I have never had any affection at all for Barcelona. The way in which the club seemed to be constantly circling round out best players (both then and now) made me a clear White when it came to El Classico.

It was a strange time for the Gunners. Like a lot of Arsenal fans at the time I was amazed by just how good we were domestically yet baffled that we couldn’t translate that form into European success. And that made the Highbury faithful quite realistic/cynical (delete as you see fit) when it came to the big European nights.

I remember arriving outside the stadium that day imagining that we might just sneak a draw but fully expecting to be sent home with our tail between our legs by a Real Madrid team that included Raul, Zidane and (the porky) Ronaldo. Fortunately we were spared Beckham who was getting over an injury.

Besides no English team had come to the Bernabeu before and won. Even though Arsenal had perhaps the best striker in the world at that time, Thierry Henry, at the peak of his powers, it was still massive ask.

To make matter worse if I remember rightly it was quite a make shift team too, with no recognisable left back – sound familiar? – Mathieu Flamini filled in. Jose Antonio Reyes, who was mid way through his last season at the club and would be Madrid bound in the summer – also started, and in the middle of the park was young Spanish midfielder called Cesc Fabregas.

Nevertheless when the game kicked the team seemed possessed. Henry should have scored with a header early on and Ljunberg and Reyes both went close.

Half time came and I still couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Then things went crazy. Two minutes after the re-start Cesc Fabregas intercepted a pass and threaded the ball through to Henry. The Frenchman then muscled his way past a couple of defenders, held off Sergio Ramos and planted an angled shot that gave Iker Casillas no chance. It happenned so quickly after the break that quite a few Arsenal fans missed the goal as they were still not back in their seats.

There then followed what was possibly the longest forty odd minutes of my life as Madrid pushed forward to try and grab an equaliser, but failed to get past the Arsenal defence.

When the final whistle went the travelling Gunners – there were about 3,500 of us, were ecstatic. Yet that excitement was tempered by the fact that we knew we had to go through all it again at Highbury. Fortunately a very edgy game finished 0-0 and Arsenal progressed on their way to their first and only Champions League Final.

After the final whistle I caught a glimpse of Beckham and also Júlio Baptista. Nicknamed the Beast he had already been linked with a move to London and would join the Gunners in part exchange for Reyes that summer. Sadly he remains as one of Arsene Wenger’s most disappointing signings, though his goal tally of 10 in 15 games wasn’t disastrous.

If anything the Madrid game was the one in which Arsenal fans started to believe that they could actually challenge Europe’s finest. The confidence levels for the next two games against Juventus and Villreal was sky high and really the team should have won the final in Paris.

It is a moot point whether the Madrid of 2006 would beat today’s team. Back then they had great strength in depth, though they didn’t have the brilliantly unpredictable Ronaldo (just the porky one who was past his best by then).

Three years later Liverpool became the second English team to win at the Bernabeu thanks to a headed goal by (kind of) Arsenal legend Yossi Benayoun. Incredibly the Reds beat Real 4-0 at home, which underlines just how far the Merseyside team has fallen in less than four years.

I wonder if United will become the third English team to beat Real in their own back yard? I wouldn’t bet against them.

Pic from Uggboy



Football

Arsenal vs Bayern Munich – Wilshere ok, but who will play left back?

By Stefano on February 12th, 2013

A week today Arsenal take on Bayern Munich in what is one of three classic Champions League encounters involving British sides this month. Having won their group, and also knocked Arsenal out before, the in-form Germans will start as clear favourites but Arsenal will hope to make things very tricky for them with a decent win at The Emirates.

On the injury front there’s good news and bad news for The Gunners. Jack Wilshere is apparently fine after only suffering a dead leg against Sunderland. He is in theory available for the game against Blackburn Rovers in the FA Cup this weekend, but I would be amazed if he didn’t start on the bench.

Meanwhile Laurent Koscielny has recovered from a minor calf injury and he is also expected to be available for the Blackburn game to play alongside Per Mertesacker.

So where though does this leave Arsenal’s other main injury doubt Thomas Vermaelen?

As you may recall Arsenal have a massive problem at left back against Bayern with Gibbs injured, Monreal cup tied and Santos now back in Brazil. Vermaelen has played at left back before and would be a dead cert to start. Goal reports that he is back in light training this week, but with the prospect of Arjen Robben bearing down on him it is a big ask to start back against Bayern.

Wenger could play Sagna at left back, with Jenkinson on the right, or alternatively use Spanish youngster Ignasi Miquel.

It is a really tough call for the Arsenal manager.



Football

Arsene Wenger has Spurs in his sights and is ‘ready for a fight’

By Stefano on February 11th, 2013

If Arsenal lose to Spurs when the two teams meet at White Hart Lane on March 3rd it won’t be the end of Arsenal’s campaign to qualify for the Champions league next year, but it will make it very hard for Arsene Wenger’s team to catch their north London rivals.

So not surprisingly Wenger has today been assuring the Arsenal fans that his team know what they are up against and are ready for the fight.

They face a formidable challenge. In spite of their striking issues Tottenham are unbeaten in 10 games and against Newcastle there were signs that they are hitting form at just the right time. Gareth Bale was exceptional, Mousa Dembele was a powerful presence in the midfield and Scott Parker is hinting at the form that made him so effective last season.

However, as every Gunner fan knows, this time last year Spurs were ten points clear of Arsenal when they met their north London neighbours. That catastrophic defeat than sparked off a decline in their form which saw them lose out on a Champions League spot.

Wenger is hoping for a re-run this year.

Asked about the teams attempt to to catch Spurs Wenger said on the club’s website

“There are many games to go. We are in the fight and the game on Saturday showed that we are ready for a fight. Our character was questioned many times. You saw (on Saturday) that we have plenty.”

His words were echoed by keeper Wojceich Szczesny who also told the club website

“I think we proved to a lot of people that we have what it takes to be successful because it wasn’t the best game in terms of quality, but we showed everyone the character and desire we have to get a result.”

Of the three London sides Chelsea arguably have the easiest run in while Spurs, with games against Chelsea, Man City and Everton to come, have the trickiest. Anything less than a draw for both sides could prove a near knock out blow to the loser.

Check out the list of games here.



Football

The March games that will decide Arsenal and Spurs’ season

By Stefano on February 11th, 2013

It should still be an open race for third/fourth place at the end of March. But while Spurs should still be in a strong position, anything less than near perfection for The Gunners could be disastrous.

And why Arsenal’s game against Swansea could prove to be just as important as the one away at Spurs

February is a fairly quiet month for Premiership football with clubs distracted by the Champions league Europa Cup, and FA Cup.

But as for March… Well chances are that many of the key games that will have a massive impact on the Premiership table and especially who qualifies for the Champions league, will be decided in that month.

If we assume that United wining the title is pretty much a done deal and that City will recover and finish second, then third and fourth paces are the key battles. And at the moment it is three London clubs and two Merseysiders who will decide who ends up where.

Arsenal

It could be argued that Arsenal have the easiest run out of all the teams competing for third or fourth place (although Chelsea have some very winnable games too). For starters they have two home bankers – though if this season’s record is is anything to go by they are by no means a done deal – and some winnable games in April and May too.

The three games then that could change Arsenal’s season, though and effectively make April and May an academic exercise, are away at Tottenham, at home to Everton and then away at Swansea.

A defeat against Spurs followed by any points dropped against either Everton or Swansea would effectively kill off their Champions league aspirations. So it is essential that they grab a point at the Lane, I think they might manage this. However their stretched squad could then struggle at Swansea.

I think they will enter April very much in the race for a Champions League slot but still the outsider reliant on their rivals dropping points

Spurs

Let’s face it Spurs fans. That Champions League spot is yours, if you can keep the momentum going. Assuming that Spurs win away at West Ham and bag three points at home to Fulham they then face three very tricky ties in a row – just like Arsenal.

I can’t see Arsenal beating Spurs, or the other way round, so a draw in that game is most likely. If Spurs win that game and then beat Liverpool the week after they will be in a very strong position. I wonder though if the games away at Liverpool and Swansea will end up as draws.

Even so this will leave Spurs in fourth place and ready for a hard month in April that includes against Chelsea, Man City and Everton.

The importance of Swansea

As for Chelsea I think they will still be in third place come the end of March, but with their two London rivals waiting for them to slip up.

Unless they can pull off an impressive away win at Arsenal and beat City at home I think Everton will drop out of the race. As for Liverpool they are probably too far off the pace to make a serious challenge.

So while the Spurs Arsenal game could produce a serious blow to one team’s CL hopes, I wonder if it is the away games at Swansea that will finish one of the London sides off.

Swansea have only lost twice at home this season and have drawn with Chelsea, Liverpool and Man United (as well as Arsenal in the FA Cup).

Arsenal

Arsenal V Aston Villa WIN

Tottenham V Arsenal DRAW

Arsenal V Everton WIN

Swansea V Arsenal DRAW

Arsenal V Reading WIN

11 points – 55 points at end of March

Spurs

West Ham V Tottenham WIN

Tottenham V Arsenal DRAW

Liverpool V Tottenham DRAW

Tottenham V Fulham WIN

Swansea V Tottenham DRAW

9 points 57 points at end of March

Chelsea

Man City V Chelsea LOSE

Chelsea V West Brom WIN

Fulham V Chelsea WIN

Chelsea V West Ham WIN

Southampton V Chelsea DRAW

10 points 59 points at end of March

Everton

Norwich V Everton WIN

Everton V Reading WIN

Arsenal V Everton LOSE

Everton V Man City LOSE

Everton V Stoke WIN

9 points 51 points at end of March

Liverpool

Liverpool Vs West Brom WIN

Liverpool V Swansea WIN

Wigan V Liverpool WIN

Liverpool V Tottenham DRAW

Southampton V Liverpool DRAW

Aston Villa V Liverpool DRAW

12 points 48 points at end of March



Football

Bye Bye Andre Santos. The worst player ever to wear an Arsenal shirt?

By Stefano on February 10th, 2013

Andre-Santos-Twitter

Piers Morgan certainly thinks so and tweeted this last week.

No matter though for it seems that Arsenal’s likable but error-strewn Brazilian is on his way out of The Emirates. The Metro, among others, are reporting that Santos has been seen getting off the plane in Brazil on his way to new club Gremio.

Also The Gunners’ German striker Lukas Robert Podolski has possibly let the cat out of the bag by tweeting.

‘@Andre-santos27 We will miss you man, I wish u all the very best £Gunner God bless you.’

So is Piers really right? Is Santos the worst player ever to wear an Arsenal shirt?

Well he has some serious competition and that’s even if we don’t include players who only made one or two appearances.

To be fair he probably isn’t even the weakest link in the current Arsenal squad. That accolade goes to Sebastian Squillaci whose performances for the Gunners went rapidly downhill after his first season at the club.

Or don’t forget that The Gunners still have Park Chu-Young on the books, a player that Wenger trusted so little that he only played him four times.

Not that long ago the Arsenal fans were seriously on the back of Emmanuel Eboué, especially after the end of the 2011 season. There were few tears shed when he was sold to Galatasaray.

We shouldn’t also forget the twin towers of Pascale Cygan and Igor Stepanovs, both of whose names bring a very real shudder to Arsenal fans of a certain vintage.

Further back we need to add Francis Jeffers, the fox in the box who never was. He cost the club £8 million and yet only managed to find the net four times in his three year stint.

And then once you hit the 80s there’s a huge selection of Arsenal should have beens to choose from. The much maligned (though he really wasn’t that bad) Gus Caesar is the tip of a very large iceberg.

So Arsenal fans who else would you put in this category? Bischoff? Carter? McGoldrick. Let us know in the comments.

Here, to kick things off, is my worst ever Arsenal team.

Keeper – Rami Shaaban – though you can make a good case for Richard Wright who was both expensive and disappointing.

Defenders – Mikael Silvestre, Sebastain Squillaci, Pascal Cygan, Andre Santos – I know, maybe we could bring Igor on at half time?

Midfielders – Eddie McGoldrick, Denilson – Is there a case for John Jensen? Maybe

Wingers – Glenn Helder, Jimmy Carter -  Personally I liked Carter, but he didn’t achieve a great deal at Arsenal. Helder had about two good games for the club

Strikers – Francis Jeffers, Park Chu-Young – Also there’s Davor Suker? Kaba Diawara? Christopher Wreh?

Even Tottenham would beat that lot.



Football

Arsenal V Sunderland – five things to watch for

By Stefano on February 9th, 2013

Last year Arsenal’s game against Sunderland at the Stadium Of Light, which was almost a year ago to the day, will be remembered for all the wrong reasons. It was on a very sub-standard pitch that Per Mertesacker sustained an injury which meant that he missed the rest of the season. Arsenal went on to win the game 2-1 and today Arsene Wenger kwows that is it three points or busts for this players – or else that fourth place claim will start sounding a bit hollow.

So what should we be looking for?

1 Who is going to play as central defender? - With Vermaelen injured and Koscielny facing a late fitness test Wenger has a tricky decision to make about who will partner Per Mertesacker. The injuries raise the dreaded prospect (for some Arsenal fans) of a return to the Premiership of one Sebastien Squillaci. Alternatively Wenger could opt to play Ignasi Miquel his 20 year old Spaniard. Wenger has also suggested that Carl Jenkinson might get the nod with his pace and ability to read the game complementing Mertesacker’s physical presence.

2 Can Arsenal turn possession into goals?
– So many times this season Arsenal, have enjoyed a large amount of possession in games and not delivered enough goals. With Sunderland I expect that the Black Cats will try and hit Arsenal on the break as well as use ex Gunner Sebastian Larsson to engineer chances from dead ball situations. I wonder if Arteta will play deeper than usual to counter this.

3 Will Wilshere and Walcott have an England hangover? - Both players were exceptional for their country this week, but how will that critical acclaim affect their game today? Walcott might find his opportunities to break at speed limited with Sunderland playing quite deep. As for Wilshere, surely he is the key man for Arsenal this afternoon as he wangles his way through the middle to create chances for the team’s front men.

4 Expect lots of long range shots from The Gunners – Let’s hope that Podolski, Cazorla and Arteta have their shooting boots on. I think that a packed Sunderland defence could mean that Arsenal’s best bet are shots from the edge of the area.

5 Can Giroud continue his rich vein of form? - The French striker has been reminding Arsenal fans this week that he has started his career at the club much better than a Dutchman whose name I don’t care to mention. Away at Sunderland though is exactly the type of game where Giroud will need to get goals. He has at times squandered chances. He better not to do today as I don’t think he will get too many.



Football

Christian Benteke fancies a move to Arsenal

By Stefano on February 8th, 2013

You have to feel sorry for Villa fans. They are in the midst of a desperate relegation battle, weren’t able to strengthen their squad in the window and now see others clubs circling like vultures around their star player.

Yep, The Mirror and The Star are reporting that Christian Benteke is ready to quit Aston Villa and that his preferred destination is Arsenal.

Benteke has been in scintillating form this season scoring 14 goals, and this in a team that’s not just low on confidence but really lacking forward firepower.

Arsenal have been linked with a series of strikers. The current favourite is apparently Stevan Jovetic, but David Villa is almost certainly still on the radar.

You can see why the Benteke rumours make sense in that unlike Stevan Jovetic and David Villa Benteke has already shown he capable of scoring a lot of goals in the Premiership.

He would probably cost less than the other two as well.

It sounds too like Paul Lambert is already thinking about fending off bids from rivals.

He said at the morning’s press conference

“He’s only 22 and he’s got years and years ahead of him. He’s not at his peak, but what he’s done for me and for the club is fantastic. If someone wanted to buy Christian, they’d better have a few quid in their pocket. He’s not just going to walk out of here for the value he came for (£8 million), that’s for sure.



Football

Patrick Vieira and Dennis Bergkamp on their way back to Arsenal?

By Stefano on February 8th, 2013

Huge news for Arsenal fans. It seems that a club legend is on their way back to the club possibly to take over the youth development role that will be vacated by Liam Brady in the summer.

However which legend is it? Take your pick.

The Daily Mail has run with the story that seems very plausible that Arsene Wenger has been sounding out Patrick Vieira about a return to the club that made his name.

Vieira has been Manchester City’s football development executive for two years now much to the chagrin of Arsenal fans. The issue for Vieira is whether he fancies a return to a hands on role in developing young talent over than rather more ambassadorial role he has at City.

Meanwhile Goal believes that the youth team job will be an internal promotion but that another Arsenal legend could be back in the fold in a different guise.

It says

The Gunners’ academy No.2 David Court, Under-18s manager Steve Gatting and Under-21s manager Terry Burton are the leading contenders to replace Brady, who has run the academy since 1996.

Club legend Bergkamp has also been considered to take over at the Hale End base but the Ajax assistant manager is being targeted for a senior role in Arsenal’s first-team set-up.

David Court played for the Gunners in the 1960s and has been working closely with Liam Brady since 1996 and in many ways is a sensible promotion.

As for Bergkamp he is assistant manger at Ajax and is looking to manage in the Premiership at some point. His arrival would give more fuel to those who believe that Arsene Wenger will soon be installed in a less hands on role with one of his proteges replacing him as manager.

At Ajax Bergkamp headed the youth system before being promoted to work with the first-team under current manager Frank de Boer in June 2011.

Pic Wikipedia



Football

Chuba Akpom – could he be Arsenal’s long term striking solution?

By Stefano on February 7th, 2013

Over the years the Arsenal academy has delivered some great players. Ashley Cole, Jack Wilshere, Wojciech Szczęsny, Tony Adams to name but a few.

Oddly though the academy hasn’t delivered many great strikers. If you think of the cream of Arsenal’s forward talent – Ian Wright, Thierry Henry, Robin Van Persie – they have all been bought from other clubs in their early to mid twenties.

Might that be about to change though with the massively exciting prospect that is Chuba Akpom. The 17 year old from East London signed professional terms with Arsenal at the end of last year a reward for some superb perfomances for the Gunners’ academy team.

And it isn’t just Arsenal fans who have noticed what potential they player has. Check out the video of Akpom scoring twice for England’s under 19s this week against Denmark. In the first time he was in the right place at the right time to punish a defensive error. For the second, his pace left the defender for dead creating an opportunity that he took superbly.

Arsene Wenger is obviously a massive fan of the player, he told the club’s offcial website in December after putting the striker on the bench for the Champions League trip to Olympiacos.

“He has personality [and] he has quality. I wanted him to be with the first team, taste what it is [to be involved] in a Champions League game, and hopefully he will join us very quickly. It could happen very soon.

“He’s more a guy who likes to participate in the build up, a guy who is brave, a guy who makes good runs and is not a typical goal chaser.

“Where he must improve is to finish things off. But he creates for others, he creates for himself, and just needs to be a bit calmer for the finishing. That’s something he will get easily.”

Akpom is still very much a raw talent, but his power and physical presence along with awareness of those who play upfront with him mark his as a bit special.

What Giroud doesn’t offer at the moment is what RVP had in spades – an awareness of the the right place to be in the box and a foot or two that are clinical when they get the chance.

These are qualities that given time we might come to associate with the youngster. The key though is that he gets his chance. It would be a gamble to push Akpom into the first team squad when he is barely seventeen. But I think he may have the raw talent to succeed and play a role in Arsenal’s push for Champions League Qualification. Who knows maybe current apparent Wenger’s keenness for Villa and older more experienced strikers is also because they can help develop Akpom to become an Arsenal great.



Football

Bad news for Arsenal fans – Sebastian Squillaci could start on Saturday against Sunderland

By Stefano on February 7th, 2013

Some rather worrying news for Arsenal fans. It seems possible that their old friend Sebastian Squillaci could start Saturday’s game against Sunderland partnering Per Mertesacker at the heart of the Arsenal defence.

Sebastian Squillaci hasn’t played for Arsenal in the Premiership this season (he has played just one game in the CL against Olympiacos), but with doubts over both Laurent Koscielny and Thomas Vermaelen his moment may have arrived again.

Koscielny picked up a calf strain during France’s 2-1 defeat to Germany on Wednesday night, while Vermaelen has an ankle knock.

There still sees to be a reasonable chance that at least one of them will be fit for the games against Sunderland but if not Squillaci is clearly in the frame. Wenger could also choose Ignasi Miquel who played a few times in the Premiership last season, and if memory serves me well did a fair job of marking Andy Carroll against Liverpool. The Spaniard has played well when given the opportunity, but the 20 year old’s slow progress does suggest that Wenger has concerns about playing him.

It underlines how annoying Arsenal’s failure to capture Etienne Capoue, who can play in both central midfield and the centre of the defence, in the transfer window was.

Pic Wikipedia



Football

Etienne Capoue very much on Arsenal’s radar

By Stefano on February 7th, 2013

It appears that Arsene Wenger hasn’t given up on the player who turned out to be his main target during the winter transfer window.

The Telegraph reports that Wenger has had scouts dogging the every move of one Etienne Capoue, the powerful central midfield player who is currently at Toulouse.

The Telegraph says

Capoue has been watched extensively and, as well as offering additional physical strength in central midfield, he would provide extra cover at centre-back. Arsenal did not directly replace Alex Song last summer, with Mikel Arteta being largely relied upon this season to perform the screening role in front of the defence.

The article then goes on to outline the club’s current financial situation reporting that Wenger could have a war chest of around £70 million in the summer.

Capoue was apparently player that Arsenal were chasing on the last day of the transfer window. Wenger acknowledged that a player had slipped through his grasp saying that ultimately the club didn’t want to sell the player and he couldn’t push the deal through.

The 23 year old 6 feet two inch player uses his physical presence to impose himself on games – something Arsenal with their smaller midfielders like Wilshere and Arteta are sorely lacking.

Capoue is also king of the long diagonal ball, a ploy that Arsenal don’t seem to be using much this season.

Here is more on the move for the player.

Pic from Wikipedia



Football

Man City tracking Edinson Cavani – but likely to face stiff competition

By Stefano on February 6th, 2013

Man City will be looking for a striker to replace Mario Balotelli in the summer transfer window and it seems that their number one target is Napoli’s extraordinary Edinson Cavani, a man who has scored 27 goals in 26 appearances this season.

Blues coach Angelo Gregucci recently told a Naples radio station – which was also reported by the Manchester Evening News - that Cavani was a target for the Blues but he acknowledged that they would face a tough battle to sign him.

Gregucci told the station:

“City will definitely have competition for Cavani, who is dominating the Italian league with his goals and sacrifices for the team and whose contract has a £55m buy-out clause.

“Edinson is scoring a huge number of goals this season, and it will be difficult for City to take him. The ten biggest clubs in Europe all have Cavani in their sights.”

The Blues secured at least £20 million for Balotelli, but will may need in the region of £50 million to land Cavani. Many top European sides including both Arsenal and Chelsea are said to be keeping an eye on the player.

In the past City have also been linked to Atletico Madrid’s free-scoring Radamel Falcao, a player who is also interesting Chelsea.



Football

Arsenal’s Olivier Giroud on those David Villa/Klass-Jan Huntelaar rumours

By Stefano on February 6th, 2013

Olivier Giroud, who is back in France as a member of Didier Deschamps’ French squad, has given a very revealing interview to French paper L’Equipe.

He talks among other things about his desire to do well at Arsenal and his overall form, but also about how the possibility of Arsenal signing another striker during the transfer window played on his mind.

In an interview translated here by SportsWitness Giroud said about Arsenal’s winter transfer targets.

“Yes, Huntelaar, but also Villa. The English press speak a lot. The coach is not really conducive to buying in winter. It would be hypocritical to say that I did not think (about it). After, I always thought the coach would give me time, I do not see the grass growing under my feet.”

Although many Arsenal fans were pushing for the club to sign another striker, Giroud’s recent form possibly did enough to persuade Arsene Wenger not to push too hard for his targets.

Giroud says of his recent form

“A bad period for me without finding the way to the opponent’s goal (5 league games without scoring). Then there were discussions on the extension of Walcott who wanted to play at the top.

“Then, facing Newcastle, in the 7-3 victory… I am on fifteen minutes from the end, I scored two goals, missed the hat-trick. But, it’s going better.”

I wonder if the possibility of another striker arriving at The Emirates has pushed him to try even harder.

It will be fascinating to see how the rest of the season works out for the amiable Frenchman. He is playing in the knowledge that Arsene Wenger has a sizable war chest to spend on a striker liked Edinson Cavani if he feels it necessary. Giroud is also going to be constantly be compared with his predecessor Robin Van Persie whose form this season, like last, has been scintillating.

So is Giroud the new Van Persie? Or just a replacement for Bendtner? Only time will tell.



Football

Bacary Sagna “100% devoted” to Arsenal – but do Gunners fans care?

By Stefano on February 5th, 2013

Amidst all the talk of contract renewals for Robin Van Persie and Theo Walcott in the last twelve months very little has been written about the contract situation of another senior member of the Arsenal squad – one Bacary Sagna.

The right back’s contract will run out in summer 2014, which in theory will make him a top target for European clubs come the next transfer window.

Today Sagna moved to quell speculation that he would be leaving The Emirates. Saying that he was “100% devoted” to their club Sagna told French paper L’Equipe (which has been reported widely including by ESPN) he is happy at Emirates Stadium.

“I’m 100% devoted to my club. I’m only thinking about defending Arsenal’s colours until the end of my contract. The supporters are annoyed with me when they hear my name linked to PSG, but I haven’t got anything to do with that. I’ve had no contact whatsoever.”

Sagna also said that he had “tears in [his] eyes,” when he was called up for the French squad – the first time he has been included in a year and a half.

So Arsenal fans, the 29 year old wants a new contract? But does he deserve one? Sagna’s form this season has been inconsistent. There have been games where he has been sublime, yet in others his distribution poor and his defending second rate. Waiting in the wings is young Englishman Carl Jenkinson who in December signed a long term contract with the club. He has continued to look sharp and capable each time he has deputised for the Frenchman this season.

So do Arsenal need to renew Sagna’s contract? Personally I think it might be time for Sagna to move on. Arsenal would get a reasonable sum for the player in the summer and that money could be invested elsewhere – maybe a commanding central defender in the Mats Hummel mould would be ideal. In Hector Bellerin, a product of the Barcelona youth academy Arsenal have a ready-made understudy for Jenkinson.

So is time to cash in on Bacary?




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