Posts Tagged ‘Arsene Wenger’

Football

Has Arsene Wenger had his transfer war chest cut to £60 million?

By Stefano on April 29th, 2013

Bit of an odd one this, but in an interview with French paper L’Equipe Arsene Wenger not only confirms that he will be at Arsenal next season, but also seems to suggest that he has had £10 million cut from his transfer budget.

Up until now the figure that has widely reported is that Wenger has been given a £70 million war chest. However in the interview it is suggested that the board…

‘will make available £60 million for Wenger to strengthen his squad this summer.’

Hmm, so is that just a typo? Or has someone got their fact wrong? Or will it be £50 million next week now that the fans seem to be pacified and Champions League football looks like a string possibility.

What do you think?



Football

Gervinho, Walcott, Podolski – who should start upfront for Arsenal today?

By Stefano on April 28th, 2013

With all the talk about Robin van Persie, this would have been a perfect opportunity for his successor at Arsenal, Olivier Giroud, to prove he’s been a decent replacement in his first Premier League campaign. Giroud has been unable to match Van Persie’s goalscoring tally, but his all-round play has been decent.

Giroud’s red card for a clumsy tackle at Craven Cottage last weekend means a three-game suspension, however, and therefore Arsene Wenger has a choice between Gervinho, Theo Walcott and Lukas Podolski upfront this weekend. All three have more regularly started on the flanks, but Gervinho started the season well upfront, and the other two insist they prefer a central striking role.

Walcott’s main quality, of course, is his raw pace in behind. He’s often played well when given opportunities upfront this season, but expect Sir Alex Ferguson to field a centre-back pairing that won’t be sluggish against his acceleration. Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic probably isn’t the right combination, and Jonny Evans alongside Chris Smalling worked well at the Emirates last season.

It’s difficult to see what Podolski offers over the other two ­ he’s similarly direct, and likes breaking onto through-balls, but lacks Walcott’s raw pace or Gervinho’s dribbling ability. Interestingly, the German hasn’t started a Premier League game since January, with some suggesting his lack of work rate and stamina in a defensive sense has frustrated Wenger.

If Podolski isn’t starting on the left, and doesn’t start upfront despite Giroud’s unavailability, you wonder precisely what his purpose at Arsenal is. Gervinho and Walcott seems a better bet, with the duo able to alternate between the right flank, and the centre-forward role.

Article originally published here.

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Football

Arsenal update: Fazio targeted, Williams courted, Real Betis want four Gunners

By Stefano on April 24th, 2013

Do you remember Sevilla’s Federico Fazio? If the name rings a bell it is because the player was linked with Arsenal as far back as 2009 after the club sold Kolo Toure.

The central defender was apparently tempted but the club rebuffed a £5.5million bid and the 22 year old stayed in Spain.

Now with Arsenal keen to strengthen their centre back options Fazio, now 26, is on the list again.

The Mail reports that the Spanish club are financially struggling so might listen to offers this time. Arsenal’s bid to sign Swansea captain Ashley Williams is apparently going well with the player impressed by what he has seen so far. If that deal falls through though the lanky Argentinean would be a cheaper option.

Meanwhile Spanish side Real Betis seem quite keen to take a job lot of Arsenal players. The club already has Joel Campbell on loan and would like to at the very least extend the loan agreement  They also apparently want to talk about defender Johan Djourou, midfielders Francis Coquelin and Emmanuel Frimpong, and striker Marouane Chamakh.

I can’t see Arsenal letting Coquelin go and Djorou seems happy in Germany, but Frimpong and Chamakh could be potential movers if the money is right.



Football

Remind me – why did Arsenal sell RVP to United? Wenger’s worst ever mistake?

By Stefano on April 23rd, 2013

I am sure I am not the only Arsenal fan to have felt just a little bit nauseous watching RVP running round Old Trafford last night after not just winning the league but also scoring , well, a hugely impressive hat-trick. If he needed a  game to push him back into the the PFA Player Of the Year race he just delivered it. And after all those games where he couldn’t hit a barn door from six paces…

I personally am dreading Sunday now. Even if Arsenal thump United five nil to turn the screws on Spuds and Chelsea in the race for 3rd and 4th it will still not be ok. Before that the club has to undergo the humiliating experience of watching its once star striker parading round the pitch with his Premiership winners medal – something that he never got close to with us.

It just makes me think once again that what a catastrophic error Arsene Wenger made last summer and how he and the club have in no way atoned for it. We really were sold a pup by a manager and a board who ought to know better.

If we do finish fifth this season the management team can expect nothing but bile from fans who won’t blame the players but those stupid enough to make the huge mistake that has cost the colour so clearly.

So RVP wanted to go – fine. But to sell him to United was unforgivable, no matter how much they gave us. The move seriously damaged the club while strengthening its opponents. Had Wenger then spent thirty million on a striker that could set the league alight then it might have been more acceptable – but we ended up with Giroud, a good player but by no means the finished article. He is Bendtner with a tan and a sunny disposition.

If Arsenal lose on Sunday I think the atmosphere at The Emirates will be utterly poisonous. If Arsene Wenger and the board expect the fans to get behind the team they might want to ask themselves why they sold the fans out so badly in the first place.

Chickens… Roost… You get the picture.



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

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

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

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

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

Arsene Wenger on Walcott and Wilshere injuries and finishing in the top four

By Stefano on March 28th, 2013

It seems like it has been ages since Arsene Wenger’s last pre-match news conferences, but he has just finished his latest with updates on the fitness of Wilshere and Walcott and some stirring words for the Arsenal faithful.

Firstly the good news – Jack Wilshere is on his way back.

Wenger confirmed that the player’s ankle injury will keep him out of the squad but not for much longer.

Wenger said

“Regarding Jack? I think two weeks on Sunday. Not the next game, but the game after.”

Theo Walcott will also miss the Reading game (as will Abou Diaby and Kieran Gibbs) but Wenger isn’t annoyed with England for the pelvic injury the winger sustained while training with the national side.

He said

“Walcott is an accident that could have happened here.”

And Wenger is still confident that Arsenal can finish in the top four and qualify for the Champions League next season

He said: “We’ve got nine games to go – five at home and four away. The form we showed against Bayern was very good. We have a chance to finish in the top four.

“We have the experience of a few years and a special desire to do it together. It’s a good opportunity for us. We want to grab this chance. If we are consistent we will do it. We’re not focused on Tottenham, but the way we want to play.”



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

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 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.




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