Posts Tagged ‘Arsenal’


Will Arsenal lose out on David Villa if they don’t quality for the Champions League?

By Stefano on February 5th, 2013

As Arsenal fans don’t need reminding they are currently in sixth in the Premiership and are four points behind Spurs in fourth. Yet many supporters share Arsene Wenger’s confidence that the club will once again qualify for the Champions League.

Many pundits are backing the Gunners too with Mark Lawrenson also confident that Arsenal will see off their rivals.

The penalty for not qualifying would be primarily financial – Arsenal could lose out on £20 million plus of revenue – however it will also affect the club’s ambition to attract big name players, and this in spite of the new tranche of sponsorship money they have secured.

The club are mulling over a bid for Barcelona’s David Villa in the summer. But will he come if there’s no guarantee of Champions League Football? As Spanish paper AS (picked up by Sports Witness here) points out today he could join Atletico Madrid (as a replacement for Falcao who is expected to leave the club in the summer) be guaranteed Champions League football and keep his young family in Spain.

AS journalist Juan Casanez confirms that there was contact between Arsenal and David Villa this winter but says that now that deal didn’t happen there are more options on the table. Atletico Madrid will likely be looking for a Falcao replacement and Villa will be a much cheaper option to Luis Suarez, or even Edin Dzeko. The newspaper says that Atletico sporting director Jose Luis Caminero was in contact with Villa’s agents during the transfer window, with a view to the summer.

Not only are Atletico more likely to qualify for the Champions League, they are also able to offer Villa the chance to stay in Spain with his young family. His wife recently gave birth to the couple’s first son and they have two young daughters, the attraction of remaining in the country is something that AS think will be another advantage.

Arsenal might also find themselves chasing players who are also fancied by Spurs and if Tottenham have the CL slot then they will clearly have an edge over their North London rivals. For example would world class centre backs like Mats Hummels and Fernando Amorebieta join the club? Probably not.

It is worth pointing out that both Liverpool and Spurs have signed world class players without a CL qualification (Suarez being the classic example) but when it comes to top stars, or players in the twilight of their career like David Villa, CL qualification is a given.



Arsenal would be second in the Premiership – if only the second half of games counted

By Stefano on February 4th, 2013

Really great stat from the people at TalkSport who have put together the table showing who would be where if only the second half of games counted.

It turns out that Arsenal would be second in the league behind Man City on goals scored. Man United, in spite of their many late goals this season, would be five points adrift and Chelsea would be down in eighth place.

Well Arsenal fans have been painfully aware of how poor they have been in the first half of recent games and how much better they have played as the game has gone on.

In some games at The Emirates at least it appears that the team only start trying after they have quaffed their half time cuppa (or it more likely sports energy drink these days).

The trend was once again show on Saturday against Stoke when the club had an indifferent first half but created a great deal more in the latter part of the game culminating in that Podolski free kick goal.

It also adds a bit more firepower to those who still proclaim that ‘Arsene Knows’ in that his substitutions have had a very significant in pact in a number of games this season.

As for other surprises in the table – Liverpool in at fifth are higher than you’d expect. No prizes for guessing the bottom two – Newcastle and Aston Villa neither of whom seem to be able to hold on to a lead. Well not until the Geordies got their latest French imports in anyhow.

The table is here.


Arsenal update: Where does the Monreal signing leave Kieran Gibbs?

By Stefano on February 4th, 2013

There’s no denying that Arsenal are looking a much stronger side than they did a few months ago. And while part on this is down to the scintillating form of Waclott, the ever growing confidence of Wilshere and the attacking flair of Giroud the defence has also played its part.

And in particular Arsenal’s key defender this season has arguably been Kieran Gibbs. At the start of the Liverpool, game Gibbs’ Arsenal future looked assured. Not only was he playing well and had signed a new long term contract, but after a series of disastrous performances no one believed that Andre Santos posed any real thereat to his position.

Then disaster – yet another injury- this time to the thigh – and Gibbs is out for over a month and Arsene Wenger – in old school parlance – got his cheque book out.

Nacho Monreal then looks like a superb signing. Against Stoke, a baptism of fire if there ever was one, he looked assured, always in control,  tough in the tackle and imaginative going forwards. Pretty much everything you’d want from a  left back. And it was clearly  no fluke. Take a peek at these these stats here. Monreal has been Malaga’s Mr Consistent. No wonder that Malaga manager Manuel Pellegrini said that he was very sad to see him go.

The big question then is what happen when Gibbs returns to full fitness? Will he be straight back into the team? Sadly the answer is probably no. As accomplished a player as Gibbs is he has never managed a run of more than half a season without an injury and I think that pushed Wenger to move for a number one left back.

There were rumours that Wenger had decided he was going to sign Monreal in the summer anyhow and just pushed the deal forward. This might be true, but had Gibbs been injury-free for the season and Meade started to emerge as a potential replacement then I am not so sure that a left back would have been high of Wenger’s targets.

Wenger has gone on record as saying that he sees Monreal as one of the five best left backs in the world. I am not sure he would rate Gibbs quite as highly.

So I fear for the Arsenal future of Kieran Gibbs. For me he is a superb left back and way too good to be anyone’ s understudy. Who knows what the next six months will bring and maybe Wenger will give Gibbs the nod when he is fully fit.

But I think like Carl Jenkinson, this young Englishman is destined for a season or two not playing anything like as much football as he hoped.

More Arsenal

Who has the best squad Arsenal or Spurs?

Who else did Arsenal try and sign in the transfer window?



So who else did Arsenal try to sign on the last day of the window? Villa? Traore? Capoue?

By Stefano on February 3rd, 2013

As well as the signing of Nacho Monreal Arsene Wenger admitted that Arsenal got pretty close to grabbing another player on the last day of the window. However that player’s club refused to let the player go and the deal fell through.

So who was that player? It was assumed initially to be either Barcelona’s David Villa or West Ham’s Mohamed Diame, but now it appears that it might not have been either of them.

The Villa deal was quite possibly dead several days before the end of the window and although Wenger was making all the right noises about Diame it seems like he changed his mind about the player and didn’t actually make a bid for him.

One other theory that has been advanced is that Arsenal were close to signing Lorient forward Alain Traore but pulled out because the player sustained a thigh injury.

Several sources now claim that player that Wenger got close to signing was in fact Toulouse midfielder Etienne Capoue

TalkSport said yesterday.

The France international had been linked with a switch to England throughout January, with Everton and Fulham joining Arsenal in the pursuit.

And while Wenger landed Nacho Monreal from Malaga, he was also busy trying to sign Capoue but was thwarted as the Ligue 1 club refused to talk.

The 24-year-old’s agent Mino Raiola told L’Equipe: “The Toulouse president didn’t need to sell during this window. The asking price was a barrier every time.”

Well it certainly sounds plausible. Arsenal have been linked to Capoue for a long time. He is also exactly the type of combative midfielder the club needs to add some steel in front of the defence. Moving for Capoue would also explain why Wenger suddenly cooled on Diame.

In fact he must have been very keen on Capoue as he would have probably cost twice the amount that Arsenal would have paid West ham for Diame.

Ultimately though the failure to sign anyone – part from the excellent emergency left back – is a poor reflection on the Gunners’ management team. To have 31 days to sort out reinforcements only for the deal for your favoured player to be scuppered on the last day because the player’s club don’t actually want to sell, sounds very poor planning


Bit late – David Villa wants Arsenal move in the Summer

By Stefano on February 3rd, 2013

If you thought you had heard the last of the David Vila to Arsenal stories now the window has closed – think again. The Sun  is running with a story today that suggests that Barcelona’s want-away striker will push the deal through in the summer.

The Sun says

After a long-term injury last season, Villa has failed to command a first-team place at Barca this term.

He has made just 15 competitive starts — yet still scored 10 goals.

Now the Spain striker wants to be with a team where he will once again be the main man. Villa earns around £110,000 a week at the Nou Camp, so his wages will not cripple the Londoners financially.

The key issue now though for Wenger is whether he thinks Villa has a long term future as a top-level striker.

Villa would have been an ideal signing in the winter – maybe even on loan – to add firepower to the Gunners and help secure a Champions league slot. But a longer term agreement would represent more of a gamble for the London club.

Of course a great deal could happen before the summer. Villa could re-establish himself in the Barca team and Arsenal may become a less desirable destination if they fail to qualify for the Champions League.

Also, until recently Arsenal were not in the habit of offering long term contracts to players over 29. They amended this slightly when signing Mikkel Arteta in 2011 and also making it clear that they would offer an extended deal to Robin Van Persie.

So has Arsene Wenger changed his mind? Not according to The People who have a story that Arsenal have given up their pursuit of Villa and will concentrate on young players in the summer.

The winner is all this is Olivier Giroud. The French striker has been in excellent form of late in scoring nine goals in 24 games. However some Arsenal supporters think that with a sharper more clinical finisher leading the line Arsenal would be scoring twice as many goals given the large number of chances that Cazorla, Walcott and Wilshere are creating.

So do Arsenal need Villa anyway?


Arsenal update: Confirmed Nacho Monreal signs for £8.3 million

By Stefano on January 31st, 2013

Finally it is official. Arsenal have signed a player in the transfer window.

It might not have been the players that the fans hoped for but Nacho Monreal is clearly a quality signing. The club have apparently been tracking the player for a while and according to Arsenal insiders it was likely they were going to complete the move in the summer.

However the injury to Kieran Gibbs and the disastrous form of Andre Santos meant that club agreed the deal earlier than they had planned.

Monreal, who is a Spanish international, comes from Malaga where his team mate up until last summer was one Santi Cazorla.

Monreal is however cup tied in the Champions League, so it will be either Santos or Vermaelen playing against Bayern Munich.

Arsène Wenger said: “We are delighted that Nacho Monreal has agreed to join us. We have been monitoring him for some time now and are really pleased that we’ve been able to agree this move today. Monreal is a strong left-sided defender with good experience at both club and international level. He is a technically gifted player, a good crosser in the final third and strong in the air. Monreal will add quality to our squad and of course, to our defensive unit. We all look forward to him playing for us.”

Here’s the news from the club site

Arsenal Football Club is delighted to announce that Spanish international defender Nacho Monreal has agreed to join the Gunners on a long-term contract for an undisclosed fee.

Monreal (26), who will join Arsenal from Spanish La Liga side Malaga, is predominantly a left full-back and has represented his country Spain at youth level, Under-21s and has made nine appearances for the national team.

Full name Ignacio Monreal Eraso, but known as ‘Nacho’, the defender started his career with his hometown club Osasuna, where he progressed through the youth ranks to become a regular in the first team, making 127 appearances for the La Liga side. During that time he was an integral part of the team which reached the Europa League Semi-Final in 2007.

Monreal’s performances for Osasuna earned him recognition on the international stage, firstly with the Spanish under-21s, where he notably started all his country’s matches in the 2009 Under-21 European Championships, and later became a full international, making his debut for Spain in a friendly win over Macedonia in August 2009.

In June 2011, Monreal signed for Malaga, where he was a regular in the team, alongside Santi Cazorla, which finished fourth in the La Liga, qualifying for the UEFA Champions League for the first time in the club’s history. Monreal made a total of 45 appearances during his time with the southern Spanish side.

Manager Arsène Wenger said: “We are delighted that Nacho Monreal has agreed to join us. We have been monitoring him for some time now and are really pleased that we’ve been able to agree this move today. Monreal is a strong left-sided defender with good experience at both club and international level. He is a technically gifted player, a good crosser in the final third and strong in the air. Monreal will add quality to our squad and of course, to our defensive unit. We all look forward to him playing for us.”

The deal is subject to the completion of formal registration processes.


Arsenal update: No more signings, but Santos could go tomorrow

By Stefano on January 31st, 2013

Unless Barcelona make a sudden about turn on the David Villa bid that’s it from Arsenal tonight. The club are apparently putting the finishing touches to the Nacho Monreal deal which will be announced in the next thirty minutes, but that is the only bit of incoming business the club have done in the window.

There is however an interesting finale which could happen tomorrow and that could be the return of Andre Santos to Turkey.

The Turkish transfer window doesn’t close until tomorrow so there is still plenty of time for Arsene Wenger to offload the player. There are rumours that there have already been conversations with several Turkish clubs.

Beşiktaş are reportedly keen on Santos while his old club Fenerbahçe were linked to the player yesterday.


Sky reports that Arsenal and Spurs target Mohamed Diame is on the move

By Stefano on January 31st, 2013

Earlier in the day it looked like he was staying, but according to Sky Sports an un-named Premier League side have triggered Mohammed Diame’s release clause at West Ham.

It could be Arsenal who have been tracking the player for a while, or maybe it is Spurs?

Fulham apparently have one more signing to announce too. QPR have been mentioned too by the BBC, though this has been refuted by PA.

John Cross on Talksport has said he thinks it is Spurs and that is unlikely to be Arsenal.

More when we get it.

UPDATE – At 8.41 The BBC have denied that West Ham have received a bid.

8.58 – The Telegraph says it is Fulham and not Arsenal or Spurs who have activated the deal

9.24 – The Telegraph now says it is wrong and that Diame is staying at West Ham


Arsenal update: Fernando Amorebieta deal off. Nacho Monreal player stats are very impressive.

By Stefano on January 31st, 2013

It looks like there could be great news for Arsenal fans about the signing of Nacho Monreal. But it less encouraging news from Spain about the central defender Fernando Amorebieta from Athletic Bilbao. which broke the story initially is now saying that the player has changed his mind and wants to stay in Spain for now.

The 27 year old Venezuelan (though he was born in Spain) is out of contract the end of the season and is being monitored by a number of Premiership clubs.

As for Monreal the very useful Squawka has just published his stats for the season and they look really good. He has only been on the losing side three times this season – Malaga are currently fourth in La Liga – has won an average 83% of his tackles and 66% of his headed duels. He has been player of the day more time than any other Malaga player this season – not bad going for a left back.

There’s more here


Arsenal update: Nacho Monreal on the plane to London. Deal done? David Villa has gone shopping

By Stefano on January 31st, 2013

Two quick bits of news at 5.30

As we mentioned earlier Nacho Monreal, the Malaga left back, looks like he is about to become an Arsenal player.

Spanish radio stations Radio Marca has reported that the player is on his way to London to finalise the deal. If so well done Arsene, and his erstwhile team mate Santi Cazorla, and fingers crossed he proves a better buy that one Andre Santos.

Goal is saying that the deal is done. It is rumoured to be a four year deal and that Arsenal have paid £10 million for the Spanish international.

Also the Daily Mail has said that David Villa has been spotted shopping in Barcelona this afternoon. Maybe he was buying his pals leaving presents?


Arsenal reported in talks to sign centre back Fernando Amorebieta from Athletic Bilbao. Maarten Stekelenburg tracked

By Stefano on January 31st, 2013

And the transfer window day at The Emirates has taken another twist.

Jamie Sanderson who writes for the Metro and is usually very reliable for Arsenal news has just tweeted

No news yet but reassured Arsenal are still open for business. #afc have had dialogue today with various agents. Leaving it late.

He has also suggested that the club are chasing  Dutch keeper Maarten Stekelenburg, who is also in talks with Fulham.

The bigger story though comes from Goal which is reporting that Arsenal are in talks to sign centre back Fernando Amorebieta from Athletic Bilbao. A fee of £4-6 million has been mooted.

The 27 year old Venezuelan (though he was born in Spain) is out of contract the end of the season and is being monitored by a number of Premiership clubs.

The player has a reputation as being a bit of tough tackler and has a poor disciplinary record. He is not especially dirty, but can be a bit reckless.

He is also highly rated for his ability to track and snuff out opposing strikers, his power in the air and his passing ability. In short he would provide some very real steel to the Arsenal defence.

Athletic Bilbao recently withdrew their offer of a new contract so Amorebieta is pretty much a free agent.


Arsenal update: Odds on Villa coming shorten, news on left backs, Arshavin exit, and a centre back

By Stefano on January 31st, 2013

Well it looked at one point as if the big Arsenal story would be the signings of David Villa and Mohammed Diame.

A number of sources are suggesting that Arsenal are still talking to Barcelona about Villa.  Also agent Sky Andrew, who has reasonably close links with the club, has told Talk Sport to expect a few big surprises later in the day.

Interestingly at the time of writing he is 11/8 here to sign – and those odds have shortened significantly from 100-30 which they were a few hours ago. Mind you they are 2-1 for him joining Man City.

Don’t hold your breath though.

As for a left back – well take your pick. Malaga’s Nacho Monreal has been mentioned as has Valenciennes’ Gaetan Bong. Weirdly both have played alongside current Arsenal team members. Maybe Arsene had a word after the Liverpool game and asked who the team rated?

One other possible target is Marseille defender Nicolas N’Koulou. Goal thinks that Arsene might sign him and choose to play Thomas Vermaelen at left back.

Finally Russian paper Izvestia is suggesting that Harry Redknapp has tabled a take it or leave it offer with Andrei Arshavin. The player, who is out of contract at Arsenal at the end of the season could join QPR on a deal based on the number of games he plays.


Arsenal and Spurs target Mohamed Diame about to sign new deal at West Ham

By Stefano on January 31st, 2013

A few days ago it seemed like a done deal that West Ham’s Senegalese midfielder Mohamed Diame would be heading to either Arsenal or Spurs.

Goal is reporting that the player is heading for Karen Brady’s office, but not to sign for another club.

Goal says

It is expected that Diame will sign an extended deal on improved terms that will remove the release clause inserted into the agreement he signed when he joined last summer on a free from Wigan Athletic.

Manager Sam Allardyce suggested on Tuesday that there remained a possibility that the midfield powerhouse could leave before Thursday night’s transfer deadline.

However, West Ham appear to have won their battle to hang on to the Senegal international after offering improved terms earlier this month.

So why didn’t the two North London clubs move for a player who would have added some serious steel to their midfield? One theory is that the managers were put off by Diame’s attitude – he was reported to have been late for a key meeting at West Ham and  there were rumours of a dispute with Sam Allardyce which the manager subsequently denied.

It might also be that there was confusion over Diame’s release clause which was widely reported to be £3.5 milion, but in reality was probably a much higher figure.

Or it could be that he is happy to stay West Ham?


Arsenal update: Rumours of a move for Malaga’s Nacho Monreal

By Stefano on January 31st, 2013

The new left back rumours are coming thick and fast now. is reporting that the latest left back to be linked is Malaga’s Nacho Monreal.

There’s no link to any source but again this one might just have legs.

Nacho Monreal is a 26 year old who has been a regular in the Malaga team since 2011. He joined the side when money was no problem – signing on from Osasuna for 6 million Euros.

These days Malaga have cash issues which is one of the reasons why Arsenal were able to sign Santi Cazorla from the team in the summer.

The pacey left back is more defensively minded than Kieran Gibbs and would certainly rival him for first choice left back.

The down side for Wenger is that the player has been consistently linked with other clubs – including Man United – but has so far chosen to stay in Spain.

With several players familiar with another target Valenciennes’ Gaetan Bong, it sounds like Arsene has been asking his squad members who they would most like to play again with…


Arsenal update: is Bong the team’s new left back?

By Stefano on January 31st, 2013

Arsene Wenger stated last night that he would be looking for a left back today, yet other than the obvious – Baines, Shaw etc – very few targets have emerged.

Now the Mail has revealed that Wenger might be looking to his traditional French territory for a replacement in the guise of Valenciennes’ Gaetan Bong.

The Cameroon international Bong, who is familiar face to several of the Arsenal team having played alongside Laurent Koscielny and Olivier Giroud in France’s Ligue 2 three years ago, is a 24 year old who previously played for FC Metz. He gets the odd goal too having scored three times in his stint with Valenciennes.

There’s no source for The Mail story, but it seems pretty plausible and Bong could be picked up cheaply.

Kieran Gibbs is apparently going to be out for three weeks with a thigh injury.

Incidentally  Squawka has some interesting stats on Bong. Their conclusion is that he is just not good enouigh for the Premier League.

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