Posts Tagged ‘Arsene Wenger’

Football

Spurs make the first move for Wilfried Zaha – but Arsene and Fergie are waiting in the wings

By Stefano on December 23rd, 2012

Last night Wilfried Zaha added a few more pounds to his price tag. In the game between Crystal Palace and Huddersfield he scored the kind of wonder goal (watch it here) that will have Premiership managers drooling.

It seems to have spurred at least one manager into action with The Daily Mirror reporting that AVB is about to hit Palace with £8 million bid, that’s a guaranteed sum up front of around £6m, plus extras and bonuses Although Palace boss Ian Holloway has continually stressed that Zaha is going nowhere in the window and has even sent hands off messages to Arsene Wenger, if the money gets too high the England starlet is likely be playing Premierhsip football in 2013.

Whether Fergie or Wenger, both long term admirers of Zaha, bid depends much on whether they keep or sell existing squad members. Fergie might need to offload Nani before launching his bid, while Wenger sees Zaha as the perfect replacement for Theo Walcott. Wenger has spent big on Championship players with big potential before. He paid £12million, plus another £3 million in add-ons, to secure the services of Alex Oxlade Chamberlain.

Zaha is reported to be an Arsenal fan, and has lived in London for most of his life, which ought to be music for Wenger’s ears. Then again plenty of Arsenal supporting kids have ended up at The Lane. This is going to be fascinating to watch.



Football

The lowdown on Adrian Lopez – Arsenal’s next striker?

By Stefano on December 23rd, 2012

A few days ago Arsene Wenger told the BBC that he was only looking to buy exceptional players during the transfer window. And then, in words that will haunt every Gunners fan for the next few weeks, he added that exceptional players were hard to come by. So there still remains a possibility that there will be no new additions to the squad in the coming weeks.

One player that Wenger rates as exceptional is Atletico Madrid’s striker Adrian Lopez. The player has been on Wenger’s radar for quite a while now and there seem to be encouraging noises coming from Spain that a deal to secure Lopez is more than a possibility.

But is Lopez the marquee signing that Arsenal fans have been dreaming of. There’s no denying that his form last season, in which he bagged 19 goals, was scintillating. Things however have become more problematic this season as he has been eclipsed by Radamel Falcao (now that would be a marquee signing) and Diego Costa.

The theory runs that cash strapped Madrid are desperate to cling on to Falcao and realise that by selling Lopez they can hang on to their star.

Lopez also fits the Wenger template in so many other ways in that he is young (24), not going to cost too much cash (he has a buy out clause of £15 million, but his wages would be much less than £100k per week demanded by Huntelaar and Villa) and will relish the opportunity to re start his career at another club. There were rumours earlier in the weekend that Arsenal were chasing Barcelona’s David Villa, but while a loan deal might suit both parties, the player is too old and injury-prone to be a long term solution for the Gunners.

So what would Arsenal be getting with Lopez? Firstly he has great positional sense in an around the goal. He is one of those strikers who always seems to be in the right place at the right time. He is also quick – many of the goals he scored for Atletico last year saw him burst through the middle, outpace defenders and then outwit the goalie.

Lopez also scores a lot of goals with his head. The pace and power he gets when heading the ball is astonishing and would give Arsenal another very serious attacking weapon.

What he doesn’t really offer is presence and power. If Arsenal want a striker who will dominate the area and who has the knack of winning that ball no matter what they would probably be better off with Demba Ba.

So while Lopez would be a very useful signing much would depend on how quickly he acclimatise to the Premiership. Arsenal have had mixed fortunes with Spanish players. Cazorla has settled quickly and has become the pulse of the team. But then Arsenal once fielded one of Lopez’s team mates at Athletic – Jose Reyes – and after a sensational start Reyes faded badly.

Yesterday saw two of Arsenal’s other transfer targets in action. Demba Ba put in a powerful performance for Newcastle, while Wilfried Zaha scored a wonder goal for Palace. he really does look like an English Aguerro and he would be a superb replacement for Arshavin. One thing that could tip the balance in favour of Ba is that he has Premiership experience.

Anyhow, here a video of Lopez’s goals last season. Is he the player to ensure that the gunners finish in the top four and start a real challenge for many honours next season?



Football

Is Arsene Wenger right to build his team round young British players?

By Stefano on December 20th, 2012

Yesterday Arsene Wenger confirmed what was a pretty badly kept secret that five of his young British charges including Jack Wilshere, had signed long term contracts at the club. The move surprised very few people. Were Wilshere to follow his ex-colleagues on the road to The Etihad or the Camp Nou, then any talk of Arsenal being among Europe’s elite would surely be over for good.

Of the other four, Jenkinson, Oxlade Chamberlain and Gibbs clearly have big futures at the club while Wenger seems to believe more in the potential of Aaron Ramsey than many of the fans.

Wenger has also gone on record as saying how important a British base is to his team

He said

“I believe that we have a good core of young English players. We couldn’t keep the good core of young foreign players but I hope we will be capable of building the team around these English players and for them to achieve something together.

“I believe as well that when a club gives a chance to young players the players must say ‘let’s do it together’ because if you educate players at some stage their fate is in their own hands.”

This of course is a tad ironic from the first manager to ever field a whole team of foreigners in the Premiership in February 2005.

Also if Wenger believes that English players are more loyal to the club than those mercenary foreigners he would do well to remember that the among the first players who were at their peak who left the club was Ashley Cole in 2006.

Both of those dates are actually very interesting. Arsenal haven’t won a trophy since 2005 and I think one of the reasons (money is obviously the main one) Cole left in 2006 was because he felt more of an affinity with the English players who he had met on international duties at Chelsea than he did with all the foreigners at Arsenal.

British football has changed irrevocably since Wenger first took the reins at Arsenal in the late nineties. Then, his team of scouts who delivered some of the best players in France and beyond, were almost unique in the Premiership. These days everyone has teams all over the world searching for the stars of the future.

There does however seem a logic to building a team round British players. I guess Wenger wants to re-create the tightness and loyalty of the famous five defenders from the Graham era and hark back to the consistency of the pre-2005 days where the bed rock of the team was home grown.

The big question though is – are those players good enough to provide the foundations of the future for Arsenal?

Well here’s a quick verdict on all five

Jack Wilshere – For the first two or three games after his return every time Jack went near a challenge you could hear all The Emirates cringe. It does however appear that he is as robust as he can be at this stage and he just gets better in each game. Surely Wenger will make him captain soon. He is not only the most talented footballer that Arsenal’s youth team has bequeathed Wenger but he is articulate, smart and, for most of the time, level headed. I think he is the future of Arsenal.

Aaron Ramsey – I think most Arsenal fans would agree that Aaron simply hasn’t been the same since that tackle. Sure there have been flashes of brilliance but until his altercation with Ryan Shawcross he not only had confidence, he had swagger. These days he tends to disappear from games at times. And his goal scoring record isn’t what it ought to be for an attack minded midfielder. However, there have been moments this year (against City and Olympiakos) when the old Ramsey shone through. Also Wenger has played him out of position on the wing which hasn’t really been a success. He might not be the player that Wenger builds the team around, but he is a good long term bet for the future.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – Another player who has had a rather mixed season. Again there have been flashes of genius, and the moments when he takes on defenders raises the temperature at The Emirates. Then there have been the games where he has failed to make any impact at all. It’ll be fascinating to see how pivotal he becomes to the team if Walcott does leave, even more so if Zaha is his replacement.

Carl Jenkinson – What a difference a year makes! The young defender, who looked like a rabbit in the headlights a year or so ago, has matured to the point where some Gunners are imagining a day where he takes over at right back from Bacary Sagna. Apart from some obvious mistakes (coughs Swansea) he has been very reliable this year and his crossing and attack player is constantly improving. I think the England right back berth is his for the taking.

Kieran Gibbs – If only he could shake off those injuries Gibbs would be one of the best left backs in England. With Baines unlikely to venture south and Wenger’s last experiment in finding a left back delivering a slightly bonkers Brazilian Gibbs really ought to be a feature in the Arsenal team for a very long time.

I think most Arsenal fans would answer the question about whether Arsene was right to tie up the players with a stroke of the chin. There is clearly a huge amount of potential there, but then there was with Denillson, Bendtner and Vela too. At the moment it seems as if Wenger has made a fairly safe bet. But only time will tell.



Football

Arsene Wenger tells BBC he is confident that Theo Walcott will sign a new contract

By Stefano on December 20th, 2012

Breaking news – the Theo Walcott transfer saga looks like it is about to take another turn. After agreeing contracts with five of his British players yesterday, including Jack Wilshere, Arsene Wenger has now told the BBC that he is ‘convinced’ that Theo Walcott will be staying at The Emirates.

Wenger said ‘I am convinced Walcott will stay and hope that the other players signing contracts will encourage Walcott to sign as soon as possible’

‘My gut feeling is that he belongs to this club. Once he has made up his mind up it will be very quick.’

Of course we have been here before. Wenger has been confident that other Arsenal players from Sami Nasri through to Robin Van Persie would stay too. But it does sound a little bit more optimistic for Arsenal fans.

Wenger also said that the club might buy one or two exceptional players in January and acknowledged that he was under pressure to strengthen the squad. Wenger insisted though that ‘exceptional players are hard to come by at this time.’



Football

Arsenal begin talks to sign Klaas-Jan Huntelaar

By Stefano on December 19th, 2012

We have already had one Arsenal signing (well in the minds of the Zambian FA) yesterday and now it appears that Arsene Wenger is now going after another one – the big one.

Schalke’s potent Dutch striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar is, according to The Times (no link because it is a subscription only paper), beginning formal talks with the Gunners who are mulling over his demands for a £100,000-a-week salary along with a three-year contract. Huntelaar has just six months left on his contract with Schalke.

Huntelaar would in many ways be a perfect buy for Arsenal. He is a proven, consistent goalscorer with poaching instincts that mark him out as one of the best in Europe. The player’s aggressive and powerful approach also marks him out as ideal for The Premiership and in many ways it is a surprise that it has taken him so long to consider the English league.

Huntelaar scored goals for fun at Ajax before having had a torrid time in both Milan and Madrid. His record at Schalke however, averaging more than a goal every two games, has once again made him a target for top European clubs. He also played a key role for Schalke in their victory over Arsenal in the Champions League.

If Huntelaar does sign one key question is how does this impact on the future of Theo Walcott? The England player is adamant that he wants to be considered as a striker and performed well in that role on Monday night’s win over Reading. Then again Arsenal have been perilously short of firepower upfront, and with Huntelaar, Walcott and Giroud all able to lead the line they would boast some serious attacking options.

Interestingly Huntelaar has scored more goals for Holland than his rival Robin Van Persie even though they have made roughly the same number of starts.

Arsenal have lost many of their transfer targets recently with Chelsea in particular snatching Hazard, Cahill and Mata – three of Wenger’s key prospects. So might Chelsea, or another Premierhsip club, scupper the deal? Only time will tell.



Football

Arsenal’s first winter signing? Stoppila Sunzu apparently on his way

By Stefano on December 18th, 2012

It has not been officially confirmed yet, but it seems that Arsenal are on the verge of making their first signing of the winter transfer window. With a view to adding a bit of steel to his midfield Arsene Wenger has apparently targeted Zambian Stoppila Sunzu and there are suggestions from his home country that the signing is imminent.

Sunzu is on his way to London and he told the FA Zambia website

“I will be travelling to England to sign a deal with Arsenal after the friendly game against Tanzania. As we speak, Mr Katumbi’s personal consultant Salomon Eskadela is here in Zambia waiting to travel with me to England.

“I don’t know the details of the deal yet because I have not discussed with both Arsenal and TP Mazembe. However I spoke to both Mr Katumbi and Arsenal Manager Arsene Wenger who assured me that I would not be going to London for trials but to discuss personal terms and possibly sign a contract.”

The player is 23 and yet has been a staple in the Zambian team for several years. He is best known for scoring the winning penalty against Ivory Coast in the 2012 African Cup of Nations. He also has a goal or two to his name scoring 21 goals from his 53 appearances for his team TP Mazembe.

There are likely to be work permit issues to be sorted before he can join his new team.

If he does sign it casts a very real doubt on the future of Emmanuel Frimpong. So is Wenger about to replace Alex Song? Maybe.

Pic from PA



Football

Are Chelsea now favourites to land Theo Walcott?

By Stefano on December 18th, 2012

So the Theo Walcott  transfer saga rumbles on in many ways over shadowing everything else that is going on at The Emirates at the moment.

Last night the youngster got his wish and was started by Arsene Wenger as a central striker. Walcott scored one and looked a constant threat trying to latch on to balls from Santi Cazorla and Mikel Arteta. It is clear that Reading gave Arsenal way too much room to play their free flowing football and that naivety cost them dearly. Still, Waclott seems a better bet in the striker position than Wenger’s other winger turned poacher Gervinho.

Wenger has once again called for Theo to sign a new contract and BBC Radio Five Live were reporting that insiders think that the issue of signing a contract is about to come to ahead this week.

If Walcott doesn’t sign then Goal is reporting that the club in prime position to secure the signature of the England player is Chelsea. In an article this morning here’s what they had to say.

Liverpool, the two Manchester clubs and Juventus are all on Walcott’s trail but they all fall short in one notable area.

“Location is key for Theo,” said one source well acquainted with the 23-year-old’s situation. “He is settled in the South East and would prefer to stay there.”

The article suggests that Walcott will stay at The Emirates until the summer and then sign for The Blues.

The sticking point for Walcott could be his insistence that he wants to play as a striker. Were Benitez to sanction the deal Walcott would run the risk of being frozen out of his preferred position if Benitez’s successor has other plans.  It would make a lot more sense to wait until the Chelsea choose a new manager before signing. Choosing to play as a striker will also scupper moves to the Manchester clubs who both arguably need wide men as they are well stocked with front men.

So where do you think Theo will be next season?

 

 



Accessories, Football

Houllier tells French TV Thierry Henry might not be going to Arsenal – no contact between the clubs

By Stefano on December 17th, 2012

More problems for Arsene Wenger this morning. It seemed as if Arsenal’s greatest ever striker, Thierry Henry, was destined to return to the club for a third spell this winter. Many papers have suggested that this is a done deal and that Henry would be at the club for several weeks and could even play for The Gunners in the Champions league.

However if Arsene Wenger does want the 35 year old in his squad he needs to get a bit of a move on.

For Gerald Houllier who is New York Red Bull’s Head of Global Soccer, told French TV network Canal+ that there has been no contact between the two clubs.

“I find it strange what we hear in the media. If Arsene needed him, he would have called me or (sporting director) Andy Roxburgh, but this is not the case. I do not think both parties need to have this second comeback. Moreover he has become a dad again. I think he will appreciate this truce. ”

So is Henry coming. Do Arsenal need him? Might this be a cameo too far?

Image – PA



Football

Theo Walcott is on his way to United/Chelsea/City/Juve/nowhere

By Stefano on December 14th, 2012

There’s a lot of news about Arsenal’s speedy winger this morning, though, let’s just say that very little of it falls into ‘from the horse’s mouth’ category and you should take it all with a tankard of salt.

Until a few weeks ago it seemed that Theo Walcott would possibly end up at Liverpool leading the line alongside Suarez. Then Arsenal fans were given a  glimmer of hope with Wenger stating that he wouldn’t let the player go and that he would be with Arsenal til the end of the season at least.

Yesterday it seemed that the new frontrunners for Walcott were United who are hoping to rekindle the Van Persie/Walcott partnership that spawned so many goals last season.

Today the baton has been passed on to Chelsea. The Sun reckons that Benitez will test Arsenal’s resolve with a £15 million bid for Walcott (who remember, can walk away for nothing at the end of the season) and that because he likes living in London he favours the westward move.

But what’s this? It appears that Juve are happy to give Walcott the £95k a week has has asked for and we shouldn’t forget City who have been making noises about Walcott for a while now.

And in all this time neither Arsene Wenger or Theo Walcott has said anything meaningful about his situation. Expect this one to (like its subject) run and run.

Pic PA

 



Football

Arsenal CEO Ivan Gazidis tells the fans – Arsene has plenty of money to spend

By Stefano on December 12th, 2012

Some interesting news courtesy of Arsenal expert Tim Payton, who has been sharing on Twitter and BBC Five Live what exactly went on at the Arsenal Supporters Trust meeting tonight.

Over 100 fans turned up to quiz Arsenal CEO Ivan Gazidis about the club’s finances, future and more and, credit to the guy, he apparently spent over two hours answering their questions. Gazidis even kicked off with an apology saying that the Capital One Cup defeat at Bradford simply wasn’t good enough. He also thanked the travelling fans last night and said that he was working to put things right.

The most interesting snippet though is that Gazidis said in no uncertain terms that Arsene Wenger has a sizeable war chest of cash to spend on the players he wants. There are no financial restrictions and that significant funds are available.

Tim Payton was clearly impressed by the  CEO’s openness and honesty. He tweeted.

Ivan brief tonight and best I’ve heard him. No spin. Just apologies & says knows has to be better. Asks fans to give views to his colleagues

Payton was also interviewed by Sky News and told them

“This is the most difficult time in Arsene’s 16 years and both the club and himself need to change direction quickly if his wonderful era is not to end on a sad note.

“The Arsenal Supporters’ Trust cannot fathom why £70m was left untouched this summer.

“Arsene needs to get over his distaste for spending and use the resources that, after all, are provided by the hard-pressed fans who watch the team.

“The AST believe a shake-up is needed. We would like to see new, younger blood added to the board, and they also need to exercise more control and direction over Arsene’s football strategy.

“One man cannot direct all transfer targets, wages, coaching methods and manage the team at games. It’s too much for one man.”

Pic PA
 

 



Football

Are Arsenal fans really serious about wanting Arsene Wenger to get the sack?

By Stefano on December 11th, 2012

Well, what an incredible game. First up credit where it is due, Bradford played like a side at least two divisions higher than their current league status.

However, this should have been an easy win for Arsenal, especially given the strength of the team that Wenger put out, and Arsenal really ought to have had this game wrapped up with many minutes to spare.

Incredibly it took 70 minutes before Arsenal got their first shot on target and it wasn’t until the arrival of late substitutes Oxlade Chamberlain and Rosicky that they looked like a team that really wanted to win.

Were Arsenal really that bad though? Carzola and Wilshere both had solid games but the team lack presence in the middle of the park. Also Arsenal’s front line of Podolski, Gervinho and Ramsey were woeful and for much of the game barely threatened Bradford’s defence at all.

So should sports writers now be penning Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal obituary? Not really. It is inconceivable that Arsene Wenger will leave Arsenal before the end of the season, even if Arsenal struggle to finish in the top four.

The clamour for the club to look for an alternative approach and a different manager will only grow stronger though. Already BBC Five Live has been inundated with callers suggesting that Arsene gets his P45. It won’t happen though.

Ultimately Wenger is paying the price for not properly replacing his star striker Robin Van Persie. He is also discovering that Gervinho and Podolski are not the players he hoped. A serious injection of new talent in the window could change everything though. The team are still in the Champions League and not too far off the top four in the Premiership.

Arsenal fans should be careful what you wish for. The last time Arsenal changed its manager half way through a season, back in 1995, it took two years for the club to properly recover. And the man who transformed the club then – his name was Arsene Wenger. Whether he has the energy or the vision to take the club further in the long term remains to be seen, but he is not going anywhere in the forseeable future. Wenger has shepherded the club through one of its most successful eras, he deserves at the very least to be able to leave with dignity and at his own choosing.

Update – Wenger told the BBC ‘we put a great deal of effort into the game, but it didn’t work for us. Upfront we were not really incisive and didn’t hurt Bradford enough. ‘ Asked whether he thought it was humiliating for Arsenal Wenger responded ‘It wasn’t humiliating more frustrating, I have to give credit to Bradford.’

Wenger is now 4-1 to get the sack.



Football

Are Abou Diaby’s Arsenal days over? And four other footballers whose injuries ended promising careers

By Stefano on December 11th, 2012

If Arsene Wenger is a religious man he must thank The Almighty every night for the current form of Jack Wilshere. After over a year on the sidelines the Arsenal midfielder has come slotted back in to the team perfectly and is looking stronger, keener and sharper after every game.

Wenger has also seen Aaron Ramsey return from a career-threatening injury at the feet of Stoke’s Ryan Shawcross, though Ramsey has arguably never been quite the player he was before that tackle. In fact Arsenal don’t seem to have too much luck as serious injuries also interrupted the development of both Robin Van Persie and Tomas Rosicky.

The player whose condition must be breaking Arsene’s heart at the moment though is Abou Diaby. The Frenchmen had an amazing start to the season and his Vieira like ability to tackle hard and charge forward with the ball seemingly glued to his foot, was a prime reason for the Gunners’ great early season form. Sadly the injuries that have blighted his career since 2006 seem to have finally taken their toll and according to a few of today’s papers Arsene Wenger has finally accepted that Diaby’s career at Arsenal is over.

Wenger said last month ‘He balances our team as he has stature and presence physically when he is there, but clearly his injury problems are a concern.’

That concern has now apparently lead the Arsenal manager into finding a replacement for Diaby with West Ham’s Mohamed Diame a clear front runner.

If Diaby’s Arsenal career is over he joins a rather sad list of players with enormous potential who never quite recovered from a bad injury.

Paul Lake – Man City’s Lake was a superb defensive midfielder or centre back who many pundits believed was likely to play a major role in England’s international team. Sadly, a seemingly minor knee injury sustained near the start of the 1990/91 season following a challenge with Tony Cascarino, was later diagnosed as a ruptured cruciate ligament, resulting in a two year absence. Fourteen operations and only a handful of games later Lake was forced to retire.

David Busst - Coventry’s Busst suffered what is arguably the most horrific injury of the Premiership era when he got stuck in a Denis Irwin and Brian McClair sandwich, resulting in extensive compound fractures to both the tibia and fibula of his right leg. There was a fear that he might actually lose his leg at one point. Fortunately Busst recovered, but his playing career was over.

Marco Van Basten - The greatest striker of his generation? Well we will never really know for the AC Milan/Holland genius never really got over what seemed at the time a basic ankle injury in 1993. He retired in 1995 with 277 goals to his name.

Eduardo - With a few months to the end of the 2007-8 season a buoyant Arsenal seemed dead certs to win the Premiership title. Then came the away game against Birmingham City where the striker Eduardo suffered a broken left fibula and an open dislocation of his left ankle following a tackle by Martin Taylor. The injury was so nasty it traumatised the Arsenal players who let their lead slip and ended up drawing the game. Some pundits believe that the game not only finished Arsenal as serious tile challengers, but also was a defining moment in the career of Arsene Wenger. Eduardo has arguably never been the same player since.

Michael Owen, Owen Hargreaves, Robbie Fowler… Who else was never the same after injuries?

Pics from PA



Football

Five reasons why the title race is not over – Van Persie, the Champions League, Wesley Sneijder and more

By Stefano on December 10th, 2012

So Manchester United suddenly have a six point gap over their noisy neighbours. Coupled with the psychological advantages of beating their local rivals some pundits are already calling the title for the Reds. But there is still a long way to go this season and here are five reasons why the title race clearly isn’t over.

1 City don’t have to worry about the Champions League - If United progress in the competition it brings an added pressure on the team. During those weeks City will be training and resting. You would expect United to possibly drop points after CL games which should reduce the deficit.

2 City will strengthen during the window – It is pretty clear that Mario Balotelli is on his way out of The Etihad. With the controversial Italian gone City will have room to enhance their squad. A key move would be if they were to sign Wesley Sneijder. City’s financial prowess has put them in prime position to nab the Dutchman

3 The Van Persie factor – Without RVP’s late goals (including another yesterday) United would possibly not even be in the top five this season. In almost every season that he has played in England the Dutchman has been out over an extended period with an injury. He avoided a trip to the treatment table last season, whether he can play another full season remains to be seen.

4 City will improve – They have been a shadow of the team that won the Premiership. Surely they will get better as the season progresses.

5 A lot of teams are getting stronger - After their recent run of form you wouldn’t bet against Liverpool being in the mix for a Champions League place. Arsene Wenger won’t have a job unless Arsenal strengthen significantly in the window. Then there’s Chelsea who, if they put a run together are not out of the title race yet. They could all have an impact on the race.

So this weekend has put United in pole position, but you can bet there will be many twists and turns to come this season.



Football

Arsene says no January sale for Theo Walcott – but is he at odds with the Arsenal board?

By Stefano on December 8th, 2012

The Daily Mail has what it is billing as an exclusive today. According to the paper…

1 In spite of the public perception that talks between Theo Walcott and the club are ongoing,  no formal discussions between the two parties have taken place since August 28. The last offer on the table was a five-year £75,000-per-week deal.

2 That Wenger is desperate to cling on  to his in-form winger for the rest of the season knowing that Walcott could leave on a free transfer in the summer. However Wenger also wanted to keep Van Persie and Nasri but he was over ruled by the board and both were sold with less than 12 months on their contracts. So if the board gets its way Walcott will be sold in January with Chelsea  Liverpool and Manchester City the front runners.

All this in spite of strong rumours that Walcott wants to stay at the club.

He might have been dogged by injuries, but Walcott has been very impressive this season and is clearly forming a useful partnership with new striker Olivier Giroud. His crosses from the right have been a source of seven Arsenal goals and he also netted ten himself.

What the fans can’t understand is why the club won’t make an improved offer to arguably the club’s most in-form player. The financial gap between the two parties is apparently only a few thousand a week. The other sticking point is that Walcott is adamant that he wants to play as a striker.

Given the club’s shortage of front men many fans feel Wenger has missed a trick this season not to experiment with Walcott through the middle. What is even more galling for Arsenal faithful is that Wenger was prepared to give Gervinho a striking berth which, apart from brief  flashes of genius, has been wholly unsuccessful.

It appears that Walcott has the respect and support of a large section of Arsenal fans and were he to leave, unlike Nasri, Van Persie, Toure and other Arsenal emigres, the fans would blame the club and the manager and not the player.

Of course the side could pull a huge rabbit out of the hat by signing the highly rated Wilfried Zaha from Crystal Palace. Whether that would be enough for the fans to forget their speedy winger remains to be seen.



Football

Shock stats – If Robin Van Persie had stayed at Arsenal they’d be top and Man United would be 10th

By Stefano on December 3rd, 2012

So says The Daily Mail’s Martin Samuels.

So another difficult weekend for Arsenal in which they were outplayed by Swansea in the first half and then couldn’t find the net in the second only to succumb to two superb late Michu goals.

It was also business as usual – this season anyhow – for Manchester United in going a goal behind and then staging a great fight back to win three points against Reading.

It once again highlights the key differences between the two sides – Mr Robin Van Persie. Just as he scored for fun last season at the Emirates, his goals have propelled United to the top of the Premiership.

Now here’s an amazing statistic. Martin Samuel in the Mail has worked out that had Arsenal kept Robin Van Persie for another season and his goal rate stayed the same then the situation would be reversed. Arsenal would be top of the Premiership and Man United would have been mid-table stragglers.

Martin’s theory runs like this.

United have gone behind to the first goal of the game in 10 Premier League matches and in seven have come back to win. Of those seven, five have featured crucial goals from Van Persie, including the equaliser against Fulham, a hat-trick against Southampton and the winner against Liverpool.

Now consider Arsenal with Van Persie’s 10 league goals this season added to their total. Supplement a single goal from Van Persie to the draws with Sunderland, Stoke City, Manchester City, Fulham, Aston Villa and Everton; add an equaliser to the one-goal defeats by Chelsea, Norwich City and Manchester United. That is a difference of 15 points, or the current spread between Manchester United (top, 36 points) and Arsenal (10th, 21).

Ok, so it isn’t an exact science. For starters United would have another striker, and I don’t just mean Hernandez or Rooney – they would have made a big signing. Also Arsenal’s key problem at the moment appears not be actually getting the ball in the box to their strikers. They simply aren’t creating enough chances at the moment.

It does however underline the folly of Arsenal letting their talismanic captain and goal machine go to one of their biggest rivals. Ultimately Wenger could have kept Van Persie at Arsenal and seen him run out his contract. The Dutchman is professional enough (and savvy enough to know that a good season would keep his price tag high) to have continued his scoring  feats even though both sides knew he would be off at the end of the season. There is of course the argument that his presence in the dressing room would have been a major distraction, but then winning so few home games is a pretty serious distraction anyhow.

Ultimately Arsenal trousered £24 million for selling VP, money that is still sitting in their bank account. Failure to qualify for the Champions League will probably cost the side around that figure and at the moment, and unless they invest heavily in the winter, that’s still a big ask. Also Wenger has seven games to go before he can make any changes, on current form they could be closer to a relegation fight than the CL places.

The event that could change this season significantly would be a Van Persie injury, but there seems to be no sign of that occurring.

So is this another call that Arsene got wrong? Would a Van Persie injury scupper Man United’s season? What do you think?




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