Posts Tagged ‘Arsenal’

Football

Can Arsenal’s excellent run of form carry them through to 3rd place?

By Stefano on April 11th, 2013

Arsenal fan Julius @OneGunn3r on why the battle for third and fourth is set to get very, very interesting

As our North London rivals can vouch, it is remarkably easy to get carried away on the back of a string of good results. Since Aaron Lennon and Gareth Bale danced round a hapless and hopeless Arsenal defence 37 days ago, the Gunners’ resultant form has been second only to that of champions-elect Manchester United. This has made the race for third and fourth much more interesting, especially when you factor in how awry it has gone for Tottenham.

Villas-Boas (or AVB) confidently asserted that his side’s 2-1 win over an anaemic Arsenal would send his team into an “upward spiral”, and cast us into one of the downward type. Of course, we have heard much from up the Seven Sisters road about a “shift in power”, as if some sort of seismic earthquake rips through Islington whenever a relatively assailable gap appears.

There was even Robbie Keane’s belief that 2009/10 would be the season Spurs were ready to sail past a sinking ship, Arsene Wenger frantically calling for lifeboats and all. Of course, that belief never materialised. Last season, ‘Arry was talking of a similar shift, going as far to say that “If we keep up form, we’ll win the league”. They didn’t win the league. Or finish above Arsenal.

Since that awful day for anyone in red and white at the Lane, Tottenham have won two of the proceeding seven matches. They have only mustered up ten goals in that time and have conceded twelve. In the league, they have won just once in four attempts, failing to even hit the net at home against notoriously bad travellers Fulham. In that time, Arsenal have won four on the trot, including the gloriously disappointing night in Munich and an impressive win at West Brom. With a game in hand, albeit against Everton, that famous gap has shrunk to two points. It is back in Arsenal’s hands.

There will be difficulties for both sides in the N postcode. The Gunners welcome Everton and Manchester United to the Emirates in a fixture list that includes trips to Fulham, QPR and Newcastle, three away fixtures in which we picked up a solitary point last season. It will surely be even harder for Spurs. Should they progress against Basel, they will have to sandwich in another pair of European games on top of visits to Wigan, Stoke and Chelsea and still find a way of beating Manchester City at home.

Technically, both sides can reach the top four if Spurs gain more points than Chelsea and beat them at Stamford Bridge. But unless there is an incredible collapse at the Etihad, Chelsea, Spurs and Arsenal must tussle for two Champions League spots. That obviously cannot work, so one must fall out of the running. If history tells us anything, it is that there will be a lot more twists and turns.

It was at this stage last year when Arsenal had established a healthy lead over Spurs and seemed to be coasting into the top three (the only guaranteed path given Chelsea’s progress in the knockout stages of the competition itself). Hiccups against Wigan, Noriwch, QPR and Stoke allowed Tottenham back into the running, who complied with victories over Blackburn and Bolton.

Had they beaten Aston Villa, Spurs could actually have leapfrogged Arsenal to head into third before the ultimate final day, but an early red card for Danny Rose meant they could only draw 1-1 at Aston Villa. The final day came and went, with Arsenal ending up with the somewhat oddly coveted crown of qualifying for a competition they were hardly going to win.

The rest of the season will be an entertaining spectacle for any neutral. It seems unlikely that both Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur will end up with premier European football next season, and whoever wins the battle will be able to take the bragging rights which Arsenal have hogged since George Michael was top of the charts with “Fastlove”.



Football

Walcott and Wilshere are back for Arsenal against Norwich. But should Wenger start them?

By Stefano on April 11th, 2013

The news from Arsenal just keeps on getting better. The club is in arguably its best form of the season, has a very winnable game against Norwich on Saturday, and now it appears too that the club’s missing star English players are back from injury.

Arsene Wenger has confirmed that both Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott are going to be in the squad for Saturday. The manager told the official club website…

“Jack has joined normal training since Wednesday and Theo should join in tomorrow. They are 90 per cent available for Saturday.”

Wilshere has been out for six weeks with an ankle injury, while Walcott injured his hip playing for England last month.

The only bad news for Arsenal is that two-goal Tomas Rosicky could miss the game.

“The other uncertainty we have from last Saturday is Tomas Rosicky, who has a little hamstring irritation.

“His involvement is yet to be decided as well but it’s fair to say that he is a big doubt for Saturday.”

Rosicky’s absence may force Wenger’s hands on playing at least one of the England pair. Ultimately thought it is a shame to change a winning team, even if they did spend a chunk of the second half on the back foot against West Brom.

Santi Cazorla appears top be playing some of his best football in the more central role that he has inherited since Wilshere’s injury, so I wonder if the midfield trio will be Ramsey, Arteta and Cazorla with Walcott and Podolski on the wings. At least then Wenger has the option of bringing Wilshere on if Arsenal are struggling.

Also Wenger has to think about the upcoming Everton game on Tuesday – a much harder match and one that might have a huge impact on the campaign for Champions league qualification.

Mertesacker is suspended, so Thomas Vermaelen is sure to start.



Football

Four reasons why Arsenal are now favourites for third place – not just Bale’s injury

By Stefano on April 5th, 2013

It wasn’t that long ago that Arsenal seemed to be heading for a Europa league slot with the growing chorus of fans calling for a change of manager.

Well the ‘Wenger out’ brigade seemed to have been silenced by a run of form that has put Arsenal right back in the race for a Champions League slot. In fact even though the club are currently two points behind Chelsea and four behind Spurs (who have played a game more) I think that they are now favourites to even grab third place. Here’s why

1 Spurs injuries – and it isn’t just the headline Bale right ankle – Spurs are struggling with a lot of injuries. Also sidelined at the moment are Younès Kaboul (knee), Jermain Defoe (pelvis), and Sandro (knee) and Aaron Lennon and William Gallas are both having scans on injuries today.

Of course the big problem is Bale. It isn’t that Spurs are a one player team, but it is clear that Bale gives the whole side a huge dollop of self-belief – he has become their talisman. At the time of writing we don’t know how bad his injury is. At best Bale will be out for two games. The likelihood is that it will likely be more. If Bale doesn’t return for Spurs fans there is the nightmare prospect that they might have seen Bale in a Spurs shirt for the last time on Thursday.

2 Chelsea’s cup distractions – There is an irony in that what Chelsea fans see as a disappointing season, might end with an overflowing trophy cabinet. The Blues are a good bet to win both the FA Cup (if they can overcome Man City) and The Europa Cup too. The downside is that the cup run is forcing Benitez into shuffling his squad and as we saw in the game against Southampton it doesn’t always end well for the Blues. So Rafa – what is your priority? Up until now it has been the cups. I think it might stay that way too.

3 Arsenal’s run in – Of the three teams Arsenal have the least painful run in (though Spurs’ run in gets easier at the end). Home games against Norwich and Wigan coupled with trips to West Brom, Fulham and QPR are all winnable. Sure they face Man United, but by the time the Reds reach The Emirates the Premiership could have been won already. If that’s the case there’s a good shout that the Gunners might scrape a point or even a victory. Let’s not forget that Spurs face Man City while Chelsea play Liverpool and Man United away. Then there’s the small matter of them playing each other at Stamford Bridge.

4 Arsenal have most to lose by not qualifying for the Champions League - Of the three teams I think that Arsenal probably want Champions League football more than their London rivals, and this is one of the reasons why they have put together such a good run. If they qualify for the CL then Wenger will get his £70 million bounty which could means that Arsenal make a more sustained challenge for the title next season. Wenger is also eyeing up his future. His contract runs out at the end of next season. How ironic would it be that a manager who has consistently delivered CL football should end his managerial tenure fighting for the Europa League.

Ultimately not making the CL cut would be a disaster for the Gunners. As for Spurs it would mean another season of rebuilding possibly with the money from a Bale transfer, and Chelsea’s big bag of cash should mean that even if they play their European footy on a Thursday night and not a Tuesday or Wednesday that they will still be able to attract Europe’s elite players.

I should also mention that Arsenal are playing their best football of the season at the moment and that’s without their two key Englishmen Walcott and Wilshere, who are likely to give the side another boost when they return later ion in the campaign.

So Arsenal – third place really is yours to lose.



Football

Arsenal update – Wilshere and Walcott news

By Stefano on April 5th, 2013

Not good news for Arsenal fans. That all important run-in is going to be that little bit more difficult as it now appears that neither Theo Walcott or Jack Wilshere will be back for the Norwich game on April 13th.

Arsene Wenger is expected to confirm today that the two English stars are struggling to regain fitness. According to the Express Wilshere has been out since the beginning of March with a foot problem and now looks like he might only make it back in time for the crucial Everton game on April 16th

The same is true for Walcott, who was injured on England duty. Arsenal gave four games in fourteen days starting with a trip to West Brom on Saturday.

Wenger will be encouraged by the fact that the side doesn’t appear to be missing the duo too greatly.



Football

Wenger plots Borussia Dortmund raid and mulls over Arsenal return for Alex Song

By Stefano on April 2nd, 2013

Tonight Barcelona take on PSG in the first leg of their Champions League quarter finals. One player who is unlikely to start is the club’s misfit midfielder Alex Song.

Since signing for Arsenal in the summer Sing has made very little impression at the Catalan club and was even named the second worst signing of 2012 after Real Madrid’s Luka Modric in a poll carried out by Spanish paper Marca.

There are reports though that Song’s Spanish sojourn is all but over and that the player could be heading back to the Premiership, and maybe even Arsenal.

The Express is claiming that Song could be sold for £12.7million and that Arsenal are likely to have first option on the player. Barca still owe Arsenal plenty of money not just for Song but also for Fabregas who signed the year before.

There are also lots of reports that Arsenal are looking to plunder the Bundesliga with Mario Götze and Robert Lewandowski of Borussia Dortmund two of Arsene Wenger’s biggest targets. Lewandowski is the Bundesliga’s leading scorer and would significantly eat into the £70 million wear chest that Wenger has.

Now HITC is suggesting
that another Borussia Dortmund player on Arsene Wenger’s radar is midfielder Marco Reus. The website hints that the deal could depend on the status of one of the club’s veterans Tomas Rosicky.

Reus told The Guardian…

“My idol was always Tomas Rosicky. He used to be phenomenal. He had such a good eye for an opening and knew where his team-mates were, and he was so quick. Rosicky had great technique and was so intelligent and mature.”

Rosicky’s opportunities have been limited this season and it has been widely rumoured that the player will make a switch to the Bundesliga in the summer. However if Rosicky could help Wenger land Reus, who is reportedly keen on a move to the Premiership, he might be staying a little longer at The Emirates. Reus is having a corking seasons with ten goals and nine assists in 27 starts.

Arsenal have also been linked with another Dortmund player in central defender Mats Hummels. There could be a seriously Germanic flavour to the London team next season.



Football

Stevan Jovetic urged to join Man City not Arsenal

By Stefano on March 28th, 2013

Arsenal’s number one target, Stevan Jovetic, has been advised by one of his Fiorentina team mates to head to the Premiership.

But The Sun reports that defender Stefan Savic thinks that the 23 year old should join his old club Man City rather than Arsenal.

And this in spite of the fact that Savic had a difficult time at The Etihad where he failed to secure a first team place.

Savic, said “Jovetic is one of my closest friends and I would recommend City to him.

“They are a rising team, one of the best clubs in Europe. They will win trophies and be in the Champions League every year.”

“It was hard for me there because I came straight from the Serbian league. I won a league title but knew I had to play regularly to improve, so I left — it was my decision.

“It is different for Stevan. He has five years’ experience and could play straight away with Sergio Aguero and Carlos Tevez.”

Jovetic is one of a number of big name strikers that City are pursuing. The club has also been linked with Edinson Cavani and Radamel Falcao.



Football

Arsenal update: More on Ashley Williams, Pepe Reina and Andre Santos

By Stefano on March 28th, 2013

The Daily Mail is returning to the story that Arsenal are pursuing Swansea’s excellent centre back Ashley Williams.

The player reports that the club are going head to head with Liverpool for the services of the player and that Wenger’s chief scout Steve Rowley has been very impressed by what he has seen of the player this season.

Arsenal face a struggle to secure Williams though with Liverpool, managed by Swansea’s ex-boss Brendan Rodgers still favourite to land the player’s signature.

The Mail says

Sources close to Swansea’s skipper claim the Wales international will find it difficult to turn down the chance of a move to a more high-profile club this summer.

The paper also suggest that the club will continue to chase Liverpool keeper Pepe Reina. His move may be partially funded by the exits of Gervinho to Galatasaray and Andrey Arshavin to FK Khazar Lankaran.

Finally it seems that Andre Santos is happy in Brazil and may end up staying.

Santos told Zero Hora as reported by Sky Sports:

‘I’ll do my best to win titles. I have won titles at every club I have played for.

The staff, board and the players have all made me feel very welcome. There is no doubt that I want to stay.’



Football

Galatasaray to offer £12 million for Arsenal’s Gervinho. Time to cash in?

By Stefano on March 27th, 2013

This one should be taken with a pinch of salt, but if true…

According to website webaslan.com, which has been picked up by The Express, Turkish side Galatasaray are ready to offer £12m for Arsenal misfit Gervinho. That is over a £1 million more than Arsenal paid for him back in 2011.

At Galatasaray Gervinho would team up with Ivorians Didier Drogba and Emmanuel Eboue. Maybe the team’s management think that the player could replicate his excellent international form if surrounded by his fellow countrymen.

So should Arsene Wenger cash in? Gervinho has never really set The Emirates alight and besides wouldn’t that money be useful in the hunt for Stevan Jovetic, David Villa etc?



Football

Is Stevan Jovetic to Arsenal a done deal?

By Stefano on March 27th, 2013

So what did you make of Stevan Jovetic last night then? It was a game of two halves for the Montenegrin striker. In the first half he was sloppy when passing, wandered into offside positions and troubled the England central defending pair very little.

But in the second half, with the arrival of Dejan Damjanoviche dropped deeper, got more possession, ran more at the English defence and created several goal scoring opportunities.

Did he remind you of anyone? RVP perhaps? You get the feeling that he would link up very well with Santi Cazorla with Olivier Giroud as the option as the main striker.

At least one news source is suggesting that Jovetic will be an Arsenal player in the summer. Caught Offside says that the clubs are…

‘Reportedly in advanced talks over a move to sign Fiorentina striker Stevan Jovetic the first Gunners signing of what may well prove to be a very busy summer for the North London side.

Though the La Viola attacker is said to have a host of prospective suitors Arsenal are said to be the favourites to sign Jovetic, with Arsene Wenger looking to bring in the forward to help beef up his strike-force.’

Arsenal can clearly afford him and the money on offer is reputedly £90,000 per week. Like a lot of Montenegrins Jovetic is a big fan of the Premiership and is seemingly very keen to play in England.

What could,possibly go wrong?

Well Arsenal could very easily be gazumped with Man City the favourites to make Jovetic a better offer. But then again the Blues are apparently chasing a number of high profile players including Falcao and Cavani. Jovetic knows that he is Wenger’s number one target.

One person who hasn’t helped much though is Jovetic’s team mate Luca Toni. The player said yesterday…

“If he has to leave, then make it for a real top club. Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United fit that bill, but Arsenal are not better than Fiorentina.”

Which in many ways is a fair point, especially if Arsenal don’t qualify for the Champions League.

There’s also the possibility of a move within Italy too.

It is clear that Jovetic is the man who could ignite Arsenal’s season next year. The club’s lack of firewpower especially when compared with United who have Rooney and Wellbeck (arguably England’s best players last night) alongside RVP is woeful.

Let’s hope that the deal is done quickly.



Football

Arsenal update: Podolski for Negredo? Battle for Koby Arthur

By Stefano on March 26th, 2013

There have been some mixed messages coming out of The Emirates in the last couple of weeks about the future of The Gunners’ striker Lukas Podolski.

The player, who hasn’t quite shown the form that his manager would have expected him to this season, is now rumoured to be a target for Italian giants Juventus.

Podolski has denied that he is going anywhere, but there is still a doubt over how and where he will fit into the Arsenal team next year especially if the Gunners fail to secure Champions League football.

One possible option to replace him is highlighted by the Metro this morning. Apparently Sevilla striker Alvaro Negredo is once again expressing his desire to play in the Premier League and that has alerted Arsene Wenger.

Negredo has had an excellent season scoring 15 goals in 26 league games and Wenger is rumoured to have sent scouts to keep tabs on the player.

As for the Premiership Negredo says

‘It is a league that I like and sooner or later I will play in it. President Jose Maria del Nido received some offers in January, but decided not to consider them. We’ll see what is going to happen in the future.’

Arsenal are looking for another striker to share the load with Giroud, but if Negredo does sign at least one news source is claiming that Podolski will be on his way.

Also this morning, Arsenal are said to be one of several clubs competing for the signature of exciting young Birmingham City talent Koby Arthur.

The 17-year-old striker is also being followed by Chelsea and Manchester City, only arrived in Britain from Ghana 12 months ago.



Football

Arsenal plot Atletico Madrid raid and target ‘next Jack Wilshere’

By Stefano on March 25th, 2013

With that £70 million war chest Arsene Wenger certainly has plenty of options this summer. Arsenal have been linked with several Man City players could pick up a bargain or two if QPR go down or may choose to nab a player (or more) from Atletico Madrid.

Wenger has been a fan of Adrian Lopez for a while, but now it appears he could be tracking striker Diego Costa too.

The Madrid team is set for some major restructuring in the summer with the likelihood that star forward Radamel Falcao will join a bigger club.

According to the Express Costa fears that he might not get as many games next season and is contemplating a move to the Premiership.

The Daily Mirror also reports that Arsenal are chasing a couple of youngsters.

Aston Villa’s 15 year old Danny Crowley, whose swashbuckling style of play has been compared to Jack Wilshere, is interesting the Arsenal scouting team – and to be fair Manchester City’s management too.

Arsenal has also been monitoring the form of 18 year old Chelsea defender, Natahaniel Chalobah, who is currently on loan at Watford.



Football

Arsenal update: Mixed news about Jovetic, Strootman mulling over a move

By Stefano on March 25th, 2013

Tomorrow night Arsenal and England fans will get a chance to see how Fiorentina striker, Stevan Jovetic, will cope with Premiership defenders as his Montenegrin team faces England in a World Cup qualifying game.

The player, who is apparently Arsenal’s number one striking target, has also been making positive noises about a move from Serie A to the Premiership.

In response to a question about how he is being stalked by a number of English clubs Jovetic reoplied

“It sure is nice when you are interesting big clubs like Arsenal and Manchester City.

“It feels good because the English game currently has probably the strongest league in the world.

“I’m very comfortable in Italy but the Premier League is at the top of the football world – and perhaps the best.

“We will see what happens in the future.”

So that’s cause for optimism, for Arsene Wenger. However the The Express warns that if Arsenal want to land their man they will need to stump up more money that they have ever spent on a player. The paper suggests that Juventus and both Milan clubs are keen on the player and the bidding may start at £25 million and head northwards.

Meanwhile Caught Offside has an update on a player who has been linked with Arsenal for some time. Kevin Strootman of PSV, a defensively minded midfielder who also has a habit of scoring, has said that he is mulling over a transfer.

He said

“Every transfer window there are clubs interested. But a club must speak to me first.”



Football

Arsenal update: Vela to return? PSG to move for Wenger?

By Stefano on March 22nd, 2013

Carlos Vela was undoubtedly one of the biggest disappointments of the Wenger era. A hugely talented player with bags of potential, he just never seemed to fit in at Arsenal and Gunners fans only witnessed the real Vela in short bursts.

So that makes it all the more intriguing that several papers are speculating that Arsene Wenger is about to activate a buy back clause in the player’s contract and ship him back from Real Sociedad.

Apparently the buy back clause is a mere £4 million – so it wouldn’t make too much of a dent in the club’s £70 million kitty.

Vela is playing well too. So far this season he has scored 12 times in 26 appearances for the club and been pivotal in Sociedad’s campaign this year which sees them in fourth place in La Liga with Champions League football next year a real possibility.

As for whether the player wants to return – Vela has been giving out mixed messages. In February he said that he wouldn’t rule out coming back to London, but also said that he most wanted to stay in Spain.

£4 million for a player in this type of form is a real bargain. So could he be Arsenal’s Michu?

I really can’t see this happening. Even if he does return – and it could be almost against his will – will he replicate that form in the Premeirhsip? I am not sure he will. Maybe Remy, who was linked yesterday is a better cut-price striker deal.

Meanwhile TalkSport are running with a story that PSG are set to try and nab Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger.

The cash rich Parisians know that Wenger has just 13 months left on his current deal and that he has stated that he won’t leave Arsenal until the end of that time.

However PSG are rumoured to be looking to replace Carlo Ancelotti. So is Arsene going home? Well a lot depends on where Arsene thinks home is these days? The manager has been in London for over fifteen years and before that managed in Monaco (who at the time were one of PSG’s biggest rivals) as well as Japan. I am not sure that Paris is ‘home’ for Wenger anyhow.

The manager has stated that he wants his last job in football to be boss of the French national side, and I don’t think the PSG job is going to detract him from pursuing that and finishing with a trophy next year at Arsenal.

Besides is Ancelotti really on his way? With PSG now top of the French league and in the last eight of the Champions League he seems to be keeping his side of the bargain.



Football

Remy? Samba? Are Arsenal sizing up a raid on QPR in the summer

By Stefano on March 21st, 2013

So will QPR escape relegation this season? My heart says yes, but my head thinks they might be heading for the drop.

And if Rangers return to The Championship there might be some significant plundering for Premiership managers on the hunt for a bargain or two, and Arsene Wenger is likely to be first in the queue.

QPR have three players that he has chased with in the past and they could significantly strengthen the Arsenal squad for not an especially huge outlay. And they would probably all sign for The Gunners even if they don’t have Champions League football next season.

Arsenal’s interest in Christopher Samba is well documented. And I think that he could well be the player the Gunners turn to if, as expected Ashley Williams, arguably the team’s number one target joins his ex-boss at Liverpool. His wages might be an issue, but possibly less of one if as expected Arsenal junk their strict wages policy.

Then today The Daily Express is reporting that French striker Loic Remy has a clause in his contract that will allow him to walk if QPR go down.

The paper says that Remy could be available for as little as £4million. The player has scored three times in his six appearances for Rangers and has a reputation from his days in France for being an energetic and deadly finisher.

Arsenal have a trio of strikers – Park, Bendtner and Chamakh – who will leave in the summer and if Wenger does opt for his number one target Stevan Jovetic, he will still be in the market for an out and out striker. Remu would certainly fit that bill.

Finally there’s Junior Hoilett, a player who has had a chequered career at Rangers but is still young – he is 22 – and Wenger (who has expressed his admiration for the player in the past) may feel that he could do a job for Arsenal.



Football

Arsenal update: Corchia and Rangel lined up to replace Sagna, Benteke news

By Stefano on March 21st, 2013

It now seems almost certain that Arsenal right back Bacary Sagna will be leaving the club in the summer window with PSG among the favourites to land the player.

But who will Arsenal line up to replace him? The big decision for Wenger is whether to promote the promising England youngster Carl Jenkinson, or to buy a first choice right back.

Goal.com claims that Wenger is set to buy a right back who can challenge Jenkinson and that Sochaux’s Sebastien Corchia and Swansea’s Angel Rangel are top of the list for now.

Corchia has represented France at Under-21, Under-19, Under-18 and Under-17 level, but ironically is being kept out of the full French team by Sagna. He has had an excellent season and at 22 is slightly older than Jenkinson.

If Wenger wants to plump for experience then 30 year old Rangel would be the better option. He has a contract until 2016.

One Premiership player that has certainly caught the eye this season is Aston Villa’s Christian Benteke. There are ongoing whispers that Benetke is keen to move to the north London club and his form of 22 goals this season in 37 appearances means that he is on many managers shortlists.

Benteke’s Belgian colleague Romelu Lukaku has called for compatriot Christian Benteke to quit Aston Villa at the end of the season.

Lukaku said:

I hope Christian will make a move to a big club so he can improve his game as well.

So would a player with Premiership experience be the answer upfront for Arsenal?




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