Posts Tagged ‘Arsenal’

Football

Arsenal update – Wilshere, Cazorla and others face late fitness tests

By Stefano on April 19th, 2013

After drawing with Everton at the Emirates on Tuesday Arsenal’s game against Fulham at Craven Cottage on Saturday is a must win for the Gunners.

However it looks like Arsene Wenger has got some serious worries on the injury front.

Wenger said “there are a number of uncertainties about our squad. At the back everyone should available. In midfield we have a few people to check like Cazorla, Wilshere and Oxlade-Chamberlain. They will all have tests but I hope they should be alright.

“We have to test Rosicky who was not ready to start on Tuesday. There are a number of uncertainties about our squad but I will sort that out on Friday morning.”

Wilshere doesn’t yet seem sharp enough to playing vital games so maybe a stint on the bench isn’t a disaster. However Cazorla was sensational towards the end of the Everton game and not starting with with either of the players will leave Arsenal short of midfield drive and flair. The situation is made worse by the long term injury to Abou Diaby and the fact that Tomas Rosicky isn’t 100% fit either.

On the plus side at least Aaron Ramsey is playing well and Wenger can start Francis Coquelin alongside the Welshman and Mikkel Arteta with Podolski taking Cazorla’s place on the left.

We’ll find out more at the press conference later today.

Incidentally Lukasz Fabianski is still sidelined so Wojciech Sczcesny will start. The Pole did well against Everton and I really hope that this is the start of him getting his confidence back.



Football

Arsenal update: Kalou and Patricio – two leftfield deals

By Stefano on April 18th, 2013

For a short time last summer it seemed as if Chelsea forward Salomon Kalou would be on his way to The Emirates. However it never happened with rumours that the Blues were reluctant to sell the player to their London rivals.

Well if Arsene Wenger is still keen on Kalou he may have a second chance to sign the player this summer. For Kalou, who is having an iffy season with French team Lille, has made it clear that he wants to return to England.

Speaking to The Sun
Kalou said: ‘I’d love to go back to England. I spent six seasons there and I am crazy about the Premier League.

‘Players’ careers change so quickly — you never know what will happen tomorrow.’

I am not sure how keen Wenger will be on the player now. Kalou might have been a good stop gap for a club with limited finances. It is very clear though that Arsenal need to spend big on a striker in the summer and Kalou doesn’t fit that bill.

Meanwhile there are more murmurings that Sporting Lisbon goalkeeper Rui Patricio, could be on his way to London for around 15 million euros.

Several Portuguese papers have said that thee has been contact between the two clubs.



Football

Is Olivier Giroud a symbol of all that’s wrong at Arsenal?

By Stefano on April 18th, 2013

Arsenal fan Julius @OneGunn3r on his frustration with The Gunners’ French striker.

I have found no player as difficult to write about as Olivier Giroud. Throughout the season I have tried and failed on many occasions to turn my thoughts on the big Frenchman into something digestible on a platform other than Twitter. For me, there are few players in the English game that are as capable of being a culmination of such decline and failure on a club’s behalf. I am hoping to get across not what Giroud is, but what Giroud represents, and how any failings are not his fault.

What can you say about Giroud? Obviously, Olly finds it hard to defend himself when his tongue always seems to hang out of his mouth in an impermeable sulk, but there is certainly much to groan and grin at when Olivier is around. His inability to turn and shoot is comparable to that of a turtle wielding an assault rifle, yet his first time lay-offs are generally important in linking up play. He brings a physical threat brought in by no-one bar Sagna and, at a push, Diaby, but the amount of important chances he fluffs before he actually finds the target are frustrating enough to cut short thought of the positive elements he brings to Arsenal’s table.

I like Giroud. I think he’s a good player. But that’s it. And that’s not the way it should be. Arsenal’s stingy transfer policy is always going to throw up weaknesses in the squad, defence for example. But never under Wenger have we had such a striking problem, in more ways than one. You could graffiti the list of all time great Arsenal forwards along the Great Wall of China and leave little room for an amalgamation of all of Tottenham’s silverware, yet now we are scrapping for fourth once again when the teams around us have improved.

Everton and possibly Spurs, have made themselves better. Manchester United are definitely improved, no thanks to us. We have stood still by selling Van Persie and replacing him with a variety of players. In real terms, that means regression. It is obvious that Giroud should not be the only real option. Podolski and Walcott are hardly viable long term alternatives, whilst the less said about Gervinho the better. The majority of fans seem to agree that they don’t mind having Giroud, but it is ludicrous to suggest he should be the starter when he is so profligate.

A brief Twitter conversation with @kinghenrythefif led to me believing that if we were to spend £30m on a single player, the priority should be to bring in a striker of genuine class instead of continuing with a completely unspectacular player up front. I’m hardly one to speculate with genuine knowledge, but someone like Jovetic or Lewandowski, players (apparently) with real star quality, would revitalise a yearningly complicated club that has creaked for at least three seasons.

There is perhaps not so much emotional baggage attached to the player himself as to what mighty shoes he has been forced to step into. I generally try to encourage players when at the ground, and Everton was no exception last night. Yet the angst all around was clear, and it was hard not to express anger and frustration at the plethora of chances our number 12 missed. Had he not sold Van Persie, or at least bought a replacement who was better than some vaguely talented French striker, we could be several points better off. And who knows? Maybe we could have beaten Bradford and Blackburn. And Millwall, Aston Villa, Wigan and Swansea, on the way to two Wembley finals and one cup. That’s what a great striker could have done.

Giroud is not disliked by many, but the name itself is a microcosm of Arsenal FC. We cannot fault Oliver Giroud for being Olivier Giroud, but we must not feel unable to criticise an average player that occupies a spot once taken by some the greatest strikers in Premier League history. He is at times an asset, but the lack of striking threat has been, for me, a far greater issue than any other fault. Thanks to our transfer policy, it has been another season of “what if”, regardless of qualifying for a competition we are never going to win at this rate.

I left last night feeling empty about our predicament. Until the void up front has been filled, I will remain so.



Football

Song wants Arsenal return says Song

By Stefano on April 18th, 2013

It has been a least a week since the last Alex Song back to Arsenal story so no surprises that Metro has dug out a new angle.

The paper has a quote from Alex’s cousin Rigobert which underlines how unhappy he is at Barcelona and how he longs to return to North London.

‘Barcelona put so much effort into signing him last summer, and Alex turned down many great teams in order to sign with them,’ he said.

‘But this season he has only been a substitute. He is not happy.’

‘At Arsenal he was a leader on and off the field – he doesn’t feel like this in Spain and it makes him feel bad.’

Barcelona paid Arsenal £17million fee for Song last summer, but so far he has been limited to a bench role in Spain, making just 15 appearances.

The paper says that Song is desperate to leave but ‘it’s thought that he would only consider returning to England with Arsenal.’



Football

Arsenal looking to raid Napoli

By Stefano on April 17th, 2013

Arsenal have apparently been eyeing Napoli’s hugely successful striker Edinson Cavani for some time now – but then again so has half of Europe. Now it appears that Arsene Wenger might be about to make move for one of his team mates, versatile winger Juan Camillo Zuniga, when the transfer window re-opens.

The Daily Express reports that the Colombian, who has made 33 appearances for Napoli this season, could be on his way out of the club.

Italian football website Tutto Mercato Web says that negotiations have begun between Napoli and Zuniga’s agent to thrash out a new deal. But they also suggest that as Zuniga is out of contract soon Napoli may decide to cash in on him and Arsenal are among the clubs who are interested.



Football

Are Arsenal better without Wilshere and with Cazorla in the middle?

By Stefano on April 17th, 2013

Depending on who you were talking to last night Arsenal either grabbed the one point that will probably be enough to give them a Champions League place or dropped a pair of points which will let their London rivals back in the race.

To be fair The Gunners were a tad unfortunate. Had Olivier Giroud had his shooting boots on or Alex Oxlade Chamberlain shot rather than passed when coming in on goal from the right they might have nabbed all three points.

One thing was very clear though – they posed much more of a threat after the reshuffle which saw Wilshere and Walcott replaced by Podolski and Chambeerlain. But it wasn’t those two players’ contributions that made the difference – it was Santi Cazorla who sparkled in the middle of the field, rather than on the left where he had been playing up until then.

Of course Everton legs, which had done an amazing job of constantly pressing the Gunners, were tiring. But I think yesterday provided more ammunition for those who think that Cazorla needs to start in the middle with Podolski on the left.

Arsenal seem to have more balance and are more direct in this formation. It does beg the question though if Cazorla is in the middle, where does Wenger play Wilshere? It was another quiet-ish game for the England starlet as he tangled with a very physical Everton team intent on controlling the middle of the field. There were touches of the Wilshere of old, but the player is still clearly not entirely fit.

The Mail yesterday also ran the stats that Arsenal win 55 per cent of games when the midfielder is missing and 51.9 per cent when he plays.

I wonder if Wenger will keep the Spaniard in the centre for the game against Fulham and leave Wilshere out?

It does strike me that the key problem that Wenger has had this year has been how to get the best out of his new signings and especially how they can complement his existing core players. There is a huge amount of work to be done over the summer.



Football

Edinson Cavani drops exit hint – Chelsea, Arsenal and others take note

By Stefano on April 16th, 2013

In form Uruguayan striker Edinson Cavani has dropped his biggest hint yet that he might be on his way out of Napoli in the summer.

The player, who has scored 29 times in 36 appearances this year, told Italian newspaper La Repubblica.

“I’m fine in Naples, but in football there are lots of things to consider. I can only say that I will give my all in this shirt until the last day I wear it.”

The news, reported here and several other places, is likely to alert a host of suitors. Chelsea and Man Cit have both allegedly been tracking the player, while Arsene Wenger admitted that Cavani was a player he’d love to sign back in January.



Football

Arsenal update: Ashley Williams talks begin, Stephan El Shaarawy interest

By Stefano on April 16th, 2013

Goal.com has just unveiled one of their exclusives and they claiming that Swansea’s central defender Ashley Williams, or at the very least his representatives, visited the London club for talks about his future.

Arsenal are reportedly very keen on the Swansea captain as they seek to bolster a defence that has pretty much undermined any chance they had this year of a Premiership title shot.

The site also suggests that Arsenal are keeping tabs on Marseille centre-back Nicolas N’Koulou, 23, who is apparently looking for a move from the French league this summer.

Of course Arsenal will face strong competition from Liverpool for Williams’ signature. The player has a connection with the Red manager Brendan Rodgers. However Arsenal may be able to offer Williams Champions league football, and at 29 the player may be sorely tempted.

Meanwhile there are murmurings, reported by Touchline Talk, that Arsenal, are also tracking Stephan El Shaarawy’s situation at AC Milan.

Apparently the player appears to be unhappy after two years at the San Siro, and could be on his way out in the summer.

Arsenal and Man City are possible destinations, as is Napoli who may need to replace Edinson Cavani (another player linked with both Man City and Arsenal) in the summer.



Football

Arsenal Vs Everton team news – Fabianski doubt, Rosicky and Mertesacker return

By Stefano on April 15th, 2013

Looks like Arsene Wenger has some interesting decisions to make for tomorrow night’s crucial home game with Everton

1 Who to play in goal? Apparently Lukasz Fabianski took a kick to the ribs during the victory over Norwich and is a major doubt for tomorrow. Mannone has been on the bench recently and had a good run earlier in the season, but might it now be the time to recall the out of sorts Wojciech Szczesny?

2 Who to play in central defence? – Thomas Vermaelen had a reasonable game against Norwich but Wenger clearly sees his strongest pairing as Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny, so with the German back after suspension Arsenal’s Belgian captain could be warming the bench again.

3 Who to play at left back? - Gibbs played well against Norwich, though admittedly his crossing was little off. Maybe Nacho Monreal will get the nod tomorrow.

4 How do you accommodate Tomas Rosicky? - The Czech player is available and deserves to be in the side after his superb recent form for the Gunners. But does that mean Wenger will drop Wilshere?

5 Is there room for Podolski and Walcott? Arsenal looked a much stronger team when the pair come on in the second half on Saturday. Walcott may replace Gervinho, but where does that leave Podolski?



Football

Arsene Wenger’s cunning plan for Lukas Podolski

By Stefano on April 15th, 2013

There have been a few rumours about Lukas Podolski recently that he might return to Germany or even try his luck in Serie A. The rumours were further fuelled by the fact that he has only started two games since the end of January.

Arsene Wenger was however quick to praise the German after his excellent cameo appearance against Norwich and insists that Podolski is part of Arsenal’s long term plans.

Wenger said

“He is a quality player and when he comes on you can see that straight away. You don’t get 100 caps by luck. Honestly he has a great attitude. He never moans, he never has a bad phase, he is always positive.”

Interestingly Wenger also revealed that he is working with Podolski, who has been playing mainly as a winger this season, as a main striker.

Wenger said

“I think he can play as a central striker as well. I work a lot with him as a central striker at the moment.”

It is an interesting admission and addresses something has baffled Arsenal fans all season. While Olivier Giroud has had a reasonable first term at The Emirates and has scored goals as well as created assists he is far from the clinical finisher that the Gunners fans are craving.

Conversely Podolski seems utterly clinical when he gets the chance and in spite of his limited appearances has managed to score nine goals this season – about one goal per three games.

The problem for Wenger is that Podolski is not really the type of striker who can hold the ball up and feed other players like Giroud. He also can’t rival Walcott, or many other winger/strikers for pace. His big strength appears to be cutting in from the wing and the unleashing very powerful shots. He is however far from being a traditional winger and quite often tends to get lost in games. His tracking back to help Gibbs and Monreal has also been questionable.

So I don’t think that Arsenal have got the best out of the German this season. Maybe next year we will see him playing more as an out and out striker and that is the role Wenger is grooming him for now.

The key for Wenger then is how do you feed the player? And I wonder if the Arsenal manager has a cunning plan for pairing Podolski with Jovetic? Podolski can yet be an Arsenal legend. But I think much depends on Wenger getting the best out of him.



Football

Arsenal update – Gotze and Capoue

By Stefano on April 15th, 2013

The Daily Mail has a story which suggests that Arsenal have reignited their interest in Borussia Dortmund’s hugely talented midfielder Mario Gotze. Apparently the player has a £30 million release clause in his contract and Wenger is so desperate to land the player that he is ready to activate it.

Of course we have been here before. Gotze was a Wenger target two season ago before he did something that was seen as strange at the time – re-signed with Dortmund. Now it doesn’t look that odd does it – with his team in the last four of the Champions league and some great players Reus, Lewandowski etc to play alongside him.

The rumour is though that the player is now ready to move to the Premier League and that could mean a stint at Arsenal.

If Arsenal did sign Gotze then it would arguably be the club’s biggest signing ever. It would be the priciest but also here is a young player with a glittering future ahead of him who has already proved himself in one of the toughest leagues in the world. You can argue that Henry and Bergkamp were just as big, but then neither player was playing well for their respective clubs when Arsene came knocking.

So is it really going to happen? I take the view that Arsenal do have a good chance of securing both Gotze and Jovetic. Firstly they need Champions League football – or the deals are a non starter anyhow. Secondly the offer and the wages is going to have to significantly exceed what the players are on at the moment. Lastly, and most importantly, Wenger needs to reassure both players that he really does have a vision for the club which will make Arsenal compete with the best in Europe. If not then I think the new signings at the Emirates next season will not come from the Bundesliga or Serie A but from QPR.

The other sliver of hope that Arsenal fans should cling to is that Man City, Chelsea and PSG can’t mop up all of Europe’s top players. For example do Chelsea really need Gotze when they have both Mata and Hazard? How many strikers are City going to sign in the summer? Three?

So for the moment much rests on Arsene Wenger. If he can convince Europe elite players that Arsenal really are back in business then Gotze and Jovetic might yet end up wearing red and white.

The Capoue rumour is also in the Mail too. The Toulouse midfield stopper would be an excellent addition to the Arsenal squad, but I do think that Song could be back at Arsenal next season, especially if Wenger gets him on cut-price deal.



Football

Should Man United fans be worried about RVP’s goal drought? 1 goal in 13 games…

By Stefano on April 12th, 2013

There is one certainty in football this season and that is that Robin Van Persie will score for Man United when they visit The Emirates on Sunday April 28th.

If his current form is any barometer too it will be the Dutchman’s second league goal in 15 games.

For after a blistering start to the season Van Persie has struggled at United. His overall play has been fine and in many ways he has been unlucky. But one goal in 13 games for the club tells its own story. Interestingly the man who (kind of) replaced him Olivier Giroud has scored seven goals in his last 13 games – and most Arsenal fans would argue that his first season for them has been at best mixed.

It is hard to work out if this mid-season dip is something that RVP suffered at Arsenal. This is largely because in all his years at the club the Gunners only really got two full seasons out of the player. Last year, for example, the longest he went without a goal was four games, in fact it was rarely more than two.

If RVP fails to score next match he will equal Torres’ longest run without a goal at Chelsea.

At the moment it arguably doesn’t matter a great deal. Van Persie’s goals from earlier in the season – and let’s not forget how prolific he was and how many games he won for the club – has propelled the team to the title.

But had it been a much closer race I wonder if Fergie, to say nothing of the United fans, been so forgiving?

There are also rumours of strikers heading to United from Falcao through to Lewandowski. But who are they going to replace – Rooney? Wellbeck?

I do wonder if RVP will be remembered by United fans as a player who excelled for half a season and then quietly slipped out of view.

So United fans – does RVP still have a big role to play at Old Trafford. Or are those injuries starting to catch up with him?



Football

Wenger confirms Arshavin’s Arsenal exit

By Stefano on April 12th, 2013

Some sad, but to be honest not that unexpected news this morning. Arsene Wenger has pretty much confirmed in his morning pre-Norwich game press conference that Russian winger Andrey Arshavin will be leaving the club in the summer.

Arshavin was Wenger’s record signing when he joined the club from Zenit St Petersburg in 2009 for £15 million. However, after playing well for a season or so the Russian’s form dipped and recently he has become a shadow of the player that make games like this so exciting.

Wenger said

“He is at the end of his contract at the end of the season and then he will decide what to do, but I don’t think he will stay here because he doesn’t play enough. I must say publicly that I give him credit. He is working absolutely every session 100 per cent commitment and he is an example to everybody because he has been questioned about his commitment.

“If you see him every day, you would respect him for his commitment.”



Football

Liverpool ahead of Arsenal in race to sign Ashley Williams

By Stefano on April 12th, 2013

Ashley Williams is apparently Arsene Wenger’s number one centre half target as he bids to strengthen a defence that has proved Arsenal’s undoing many times this season.

The Mirror though claims that it is unlikely that the Frenchman will get his man with Williams favouring a move to Liverpool.

There appears to be every little substance to the story (which is also covered in a number of other papers) other than a re-iteration of things we know already – that Williams is a massive Liverpool fan who idolised John Barnes and that the player would jump at the chance of working again with old Swansea boss Brendan Rodgers.

Arsenal are wiling to bid at least £9million, though they could potentially offer more give the size of their war chest. They are also more likely than Liverpool to be able to offer Williams Champions League football. Several papers suggest that Liverpool will need to spend £12 million to secure Williams.

If Williams does sign for Liverpool Arsenal could renew their interest in QPR’s Chris Samba or if they want to spend big Borussia Dortmund’s highly rated Mats Hummels.



Football

How Norwich can hurt Arsenal – plan B

By Stefano on April 12th, 2013

Amongst Paul Lambert’s chopping and changing last season, Grant Holt was one of the few constant features of the Norwich City side that finished comfortably mid-table in their first campaign back in the Premier League. His rise through the divisions was remarkable ­ League Two, League One, Championship and Premier League in four consecutive campaigns ­ and with 15 goals in his debut season, some suggested he’d be a decent ‘Plan B’ for England.
After a transfer request and a quick U-turn, Holt laughed off suggestions he wouldn’t be as motivated, having secured a new contract in the summer. But while Norwich haven’t quite experienced ‘second season syndrome’, Holt has.

Just five league goals is a significant drop from last season, with his all-round game also less impressive under Chris Hughton than under Lambert. Since Holt missed a late minute penalty against Southampton last month, Hughton has dropped him to the bench, favouring loanee Kei Kamara as the lone striker. The Sierra Leonean is accustomed to playing on the wings from his time in MLS, and is more of an all-rounder than Holt, able to work the channels on the break.

This will be particularly useful away at Arsenal this weekend, where Norwich will play on the counter-attack. Kamara will hope to pull Laurent Koscielny and Thomas Vermaelen, who hasn’t played for a few weeks, out of position before spinning in behind.

Holt has become used to life as a supersub; his last three Premier League appearances have been from the bench, with his frustration at his reduced role summed up by the fact he’s been cautioned in all three substitute appearances. At the Emirates this weekend he’s likely to be a Plan B. No-one is calling for an England call-up these days.

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

Article originally published here.

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