Posts Tagged ‘Arsene Wenger’

Football

Worrying stats highlight Arsenal’s poor form when Thomas Vermaelen starts

By Stefano on March 20th, 2013

vermealen graphic

So Arsenal fans – tell me what you think about Thomas Vermaelen? It seems pretty clear now that Arsenal’s captain is very much Wenger’s third choice centre back behind Mertesacker and Koscielny. And to make matters worse for Vermaelen both players have been talking recently about how they are committed to the club and see their future in London.

Conversely the Belgian defender hasn’t had the best of seasons and his performances have been dogged by poor positional play, wayward passing and misunderstandings with his partners. In spite of this he has apparently caught the eye of the scouts from Barcelona who, if sources are to be believed, have penciled him in as the next player to move from The Emirates to the Nou Camp.

Here then is a quick snapshot of what Arsenal have been like with and without Vermaelen this year courtesy of WhoScored.Com. In some ways it is a slightly skewed view as he has obviously played many more games than he has missed. Nevertheless there is the emergence of a trend that shows that Arsenal’s defences are meaner without the Belgian. And when he has not started Arsenal have not lost a game.

I do wonder if the Mertesacker and Koscielny pairing will be a standard fixture (unless one of them gets injured) until the end of the season. Vermaelen’s dip in form could mean that he becomes the next player to exit The Emirates.



Football

Arsenal update: Alexis Sanchez for Thomas Vermaelen swap? Striker Carr on radar

By Stefano on March 20th, 2013

There’s more buzz about the Alexis Sanchez to Arsenal transfer this morning with several papers suggesting that the Barca winger/striker is one of Arsene Wenger’s top targets for the summer.

Wenger has been helped in his quest by the former sporting director at Udinese, Fabrizio Larini, the club where Sanchze made his name.

Larini thinks that his former protege should join The Gunners because their style of football complements the way that Sanchez plays.

“Sanchez needs to play the ball on the ground, just like Arsenal. That would be his ideal game. I do not know his current situation at the Spanish club. But his fitness problems have definitely limited his performances.The only thing that these teams will have to consider is that he is a player who needs freedom to play his way. In teams that have particularly rigid patterns of play he might have a few problems,” Larini said.

Several papers are also suggesting that one way of bagging Sanchez would be to include him as part of a swap deal for Arsenal centre back Thomas Vermaelen. The Belgian has been out of sorts this season so a new start in Spain might appeal to him.

The Mail also reports that Arsenal are tracking the Dulwich Hamlets striker Daniel Carr. The player, who the paper claims is one of the hottest prospects in non-league football, was apparently on his way to Liverpool but Arsenal are keen to hijack the move.



Football

Italian website says Arsenal will raid Barca for players. But might Man City cast offs be a better bet

By Stefano on March 19th, 2013

It is a story that has been bubbling under for a few days now, but a number of sources are now saying that Arsene Wenger is looking at buying a job lot of Barcelona players in the summer.

The latest news source to confirm The Gunners’ growing interest in players from the Catalan club is Italian website Tutto Mercato.

It suggests that Wenger has his eye on winger Alexis Sanchez, defender Martin Montoya and former Gunners midfielder Alex Song.

Song, we know all about. His Barcelona sojourn has been a disaster and the player is keen to get back to the Premierhsip. Arsenal is the obvious port of call, but both Song and Wenger will have to resolve some of the issues that precipitated the player’s move to Spain last summer. I wonder if there are better, more defensively minded holding midfielders to be considered, but I don’t think too many Arsenal fans will be too disappointed to see Alex return.

As for Sanchez, great things were predicted for the Chilean when when he landed at Barca, but they just haven’t materialised. These days he is marginalised as a squad player which is waste of his undoubted talents. With Arshavin out the door in the summer he would be an obvious replacement.

The article also mentions Barca defender Martin Montoya, but it could also have namechecked keeper Valdes and that man Villa.

I guess that Barca still owe Arsenal a fair chunk of cash for the Song and Fabregas transfers and that offloading a few players would be quick and easy business for them. But then again I thought that might be the case with Villa in the winter window too.

As much as all five are great players and would undoubtedly grace any future Arsenal team I wonder if Arsene Wenger would be better off shopping closer to home. Man City are supposedly on the verge of a huge clear out and there are several players that would be ideal for Arsenal. Unlike the Spaniards they have lots of Premiership experience and unlike a lot of the current Arsenal team they are used to winning trophies.

So Micah Richards, Joleon Lescott, Edin Djeko and even old boys Kolo Toure and Sami Nasri are worth looking at, especially if Arsenal don’t make the Champions League cut this season.



Football

Arsenal update: Chelsea star is shock target, Jovetic update, how bad is Wilshere injury?

By Stefano on March 19th, 2013

Arsenal’s search for a keeper in the summer continues and the latest name to be linked with a move to The Emirates is a real surprise.

IB Times says that top of the list is Chelsea’s 30 year old stopper, Peter Cech.

The theory runs like this. Chelsea want to replace Cech with a younger keeper and have just the man in Belgian goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, who is currently on loan at Atletico Madrid.

Cech may then leave in search of regular first team football and may fancy a move across the capital.

To be fair I am not sure that Chelsea would sell Arsenal on of their key players – the only player in recent time to have gone from being a blue to a red was Yossi Benayoun who the Gunners had on loan not long ago.

Also there are plenty of other names on Arsenal’s keeper wants list from Bergovic to Valdes. We’ll have to wait and see.

The Metro says that Arsenal are facing increasing competition in their bid to sign electric Montenegro striker Stevan Jovetic. Wenger is reputed to be willing to pay over £20 million to land the Fiorentina striker, however the player’s form has alerted both Man City and Juventus. Jovetic has scored 12 times in 27 appearances this season.

Interestingly England football fans will, get a chance to see how good the player is as he will start in the Montenegro team that takes on England in the World Cup qualification game next week.

Finally the old rumours about Jack Wilshere injury are back. ESPN are reporting that the club has hit back against those who believe that Wilshere might be out for the rest of the season.

“Nothing has changed in Jack’s recovery, there’s no setback or further damage to his ankle and no concern about any long-term problems.Jack was told to rest and we are still on course for him to resume training and be available for selection for the home game against Reading.”

Then again yesterday we looked at how Santi Cazorla is responding to playing in the middle again and whether playing the two of them together might be a problem.



Football

Is the David Villa to Arsenal story dead if Barca offer him a new contract?

By Stefano on March 18th, 2013

The Daily Mail this morning is running with a story that Barcelona are about to offer Arsenal target David Villa a new contract. The 31 year old was hankering for a move in the transfer window as injuries had pushed him down the Catalan club’s pecking order.

However after some excellent recent performances the club have decided that they want the striker to stay at the Nou Camp and the Mail says that a contract extension – his contract expires in 14 months is on the cards.

So should Arsenal fans be concerned? I don’t think so.

Villa would have been a superb addition to the squad on loan during the winter window and I think his goals would have guaranteed a CL placing for the Gunners. However the team needs some new younger striking blood, and as he is likely to be priced out of Napoli’s Edinson Cavani Arsene Wenger has identified Fiorentina’s 23 year old Stevan Jevetic as a more suitable long term replacement for Robin Van Persie.

I think the door on the Villa transfer for Arsen Wenger shut over a month ago. Besides if Arsenal fail to quality for the Champions League I can’t imagine that Villa would sign anyhow.

Of course the story may have more twists and turns, especially if Vila is dropped again.

But I don’t think Wenger cares too greatly now anyhow.



Football

Arsenal update: Vorm in, Mertsesacker out…

By Stefano on March 18th, 2013

Arsenal’s search for a keeper continues and the latest name to be thrown in the ring is the man who they put two past on Saturday.

Arsene Wenger is apparently now keen on Swansea’s Michel Vorm ,who at the very least would be a replacement for Lukasz Fabianski and may even supersede Wojciech Szczesny as the Gunners’ long term number one.

He wouldn’t be that cheap though. The player has three years left on his contract and several other clubs, including Barcelona, are apparently interested too.

Meanwhile German club Wolfsburg have targeted Arsenal’s Per Mertesacker for a summer move. The defender, whose performances have been inconsistent for The Gunners this season, would be reunited at the club with their sporting director Klaus Allofs who previously signed the player for Werder Bremen in 2006.

Allofs said

“Everyone knows what I think of Per. If he is for sale, he will always be of interest. He was the leader at Bremen and I also believe he is the leader in the Germany team. If he is for sale, he will always be of interest.”

There is a strong possibility of a serious shake up of Arsenal centre backs in the summer with Thomas Vermaelen allegedly a target for Barcelona.



Football

Why Fabianski should keep his place in the Arsenal team for the Swansea game

By Stefano on March 15th, 2013

Arsene Wenger sprung a surprise in midweek, leaving out first-choice goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny for the trip to Bayern Munich, and selecting his fellow Pole Lukas Fabianski instead. Fabianski performed well Arsenal’s ultimately futile victory, making a couple of fine stops on his way to a clean sheet, and now Wenger faces a selection dilemma ahead of Saturday’s trip to Swansea.

Although Fabianski has played understudy to Szczesny in the past couple of campaigns, he was originally Arsenal’s number one, and it’s highly likely Wenger will select him at the Liberty Stadium. Fabianski retains many admirers at Arsenal, both for his goalkeeping ability and his professionalism since being demoted to back-up, and it would be a surprise to see him dropped after such a fine display.

His major weakness is his inability to command his penalty box, and therefore a trip to a side like Stoke wouldn’t be the ideal game him. But Swansea are the complete opposite, keeping the ball on the ground and threading passes through to Michu, so the job of Arsenal’s goalkeeper will be about shot-stopping, rather than claiming crosses.
That plays into Fabianski’s hands. He lacks the physical capabilities and sheer presence of Szczesny, but is probably better at making saves. Szczesny has conceded some poor goals in recent weeks, so Fabianski deserves his chance, and should start this weekend

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

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Football

Arsenal update: Wenger names squad for Swansea – more injuries

By Stefano on March 14th, 2013

Arsene Wenger has just given Arsenal.com the scoop on who is in the squad for the game against Swansea this weekend, and it isn’t great news.

Firstly none of the players already out are going to be back for the crucial tie.

Wenger said

‘Sagna and Podolski will not be back. And Wilshere, as we know, is out as well. So the only one who will come back is Monreal because he was not qualified for the Champions League.’

Monreal’s return is of course a massive relief because guess who is injured again? After playing very well for much of the game against Bayern, Kieran Gibbs is going to get the weekend off

Wenger said

‘I think he will be out on Saturday. He had a little reaction on his thigh. He is not injured but we have to be cautious with it. He might be out.’

On everyone else Wenger said

‘Apart from that everyone who played [at Bayern] should be OK. There are bumps and bruises after a game of that intensity but that should be it.’

The game against Swansea could define the season for Arsenal. Dropping any points at all could see them start to drift behind Chelsea and Spurs in the race for Champions League places. Arsenal last played at Swansea in the FA Cup earlier this year where they managed to secure a draw. The season before The Swans won 3-2 in a very memorable game.

Interestingly Swansea also have a game against Spurs coming soon.

 



Football

Spurs’ AVB says English clubs will one again rule Europe

By Stefano on March 14th, 2013

After Arsenal’s brave, but still very painful exit from the Champions League at the feet of Bayern last night, Spurs boss Andre Villas-Boas has been talking today about how he believes that English clubs will bounce back in Europe soon.

In referencing Arsene Wenger’s warning that this season’s results were “a massive wake-up call” for English football AVB told the Evening Standard.

“I’m not sure it sets a pattern for the future. We speak about the game between Manchester United and Real Madrid and had United won they would have been in a good position to go on and win the trophy.

“We would have wanted to see more because it doesn’t look very good for the English teams but it can change. I don’t imagine Premier League teams will stop being able to compete in the Champions League. We had last year’s winners in Chelsea and not so long ago [in 2008] Manchester United, too.”

Tonight Spurs take on Inter Milan in the Europa League with a 3-0 advantage from the home league. Talismanic winger/striker Gareth Bale is suspended but Spurs ought to really have the firepower to hang on to that lead against an Inter team that have only won only two of their last eight Serie A matches.

A solid victory could set Spurs up for yet another crucial game this time in Premiership against Fulham.

If the side drop points as they did against Liverpool last week, it would open up the race for third and fourth place with both Arsenal and Chelsea ready to pounce.



Football

Will Liverpool and Arsenal be competing for the same players this summer?

By Stefano on March 13th, 2013

There’s an interesting interview (reported by The Telegraph and others) where Brendan Rodgers talks about his transfer plans for next summer.

First up Rodgers doesn’t see a major restructuring of the team which has hit form recently.

“There is no doubt there is a natural rebuilding that will come with the likes of Jamie Carragher retiring. I am happy with the squad if I can then put another three or four quality players to it,”

In words that echo a certain Arsenal manager Rodgers states…

“It is quality we are after, not quantity. We see Coutinho and Sturridge’s quality in January, if we bring in another three or four players of that quality and add that to what we have got then we have got a strong squad.“You want between 20 and 22 players. I’m talking about two in every position and your three goalkeepers. Then below that having young players who can support that.

“Of course you have an ideal target, but we are getting to a situation now where, for me, you have to have three players and if one doesn’t come off you have to be comfortable with the other two. If you get one of those you are happy. There is a lot of terrific work going on with the scouting department getting those lists together.

There are more interesting parallels with Arsenal too. At the current time it seems unlikely that either side will be playing Champions League football next season which will mean that they are unlikely to compete with Europe’s big guns for the likes Jovetic and Cavani. Also, as Wenger knows all too well, both managers will be painfully aware that the Continent’s top sides could be targeting their marquee players.

One player that the two clubs are likely to tussle for is Ashley Williams, the in form Swansea centre back. Rodgers’ relationship with the player could give Liverpool the edge, especially if neither side has Champions League football on the table.

Williams would be a tailor-made replacement for Carragher bringing solidity and leadership to the heart of the Liverpool defence.

There are several other players that both clubs could be competing for.

Ajax’s Christian Eriksen will be on his way to the Premiership next season and could interest both sides. Arsenal are also very keen on another possible Liverpool target Alexis Sanchez of Barcelona and Bilbao’s controversial centre back Fernando Amorebieta could end up at the club that doesn’t land Williams.

The big question for Rodgers is how much money he feels he needs to spend to create a squad that will be challenging, at the very least, for Champions League football next season. The interview suggests that he will have a £20 million kitty. Is that enough? If  Rodgers wants more then the club will have to sell players. There are fringe players, like the out of form Skrtel, who could prise some cash, but there remains the option of cashing in on the club’s prize asset – Luis Suarez.

It would be massively unpopular with the fans but Suarez’s sale could add a significant wodge to that the cash reserve. Bayern Munich are rumoured to be interested in the player while the Daily Mail reported recently that Atletico Madrid are targeting Suarez to replace Radamel Falcao should he leave the La Liga side.

It might free up funds for the club to launch a bid for Xabi Alonso of Real Madrird, who could rejoin the club he spent five seasons with to finish his career. The 31 year old has certainly been in sparkling form for the club. Rodgers would also have to invest heavily in a new striker or two.

Is it a gamble worth taking?

It will be interesting to see of the club manage to offload flop striker Andy Carroll this summer. Liverpool paid £35 million for the player and it will be fascinating to see how much of that money that manage to recoup.



Football

Arsenal update: Victor Wanyama, Micah Richards and St Etienne pair targeted

By Stefano on March 11th, 2013

A couple of days Alex Song ago hinted that he might like to return to North London after his disastrous season at Barcelona. But according to the Metro Arsene Wenger isn’t tempted. He has set his sights on
Celtic’s combative midfielder Victor Wanyama.

The Keynan has been very impressive this season, especially in the Champions League and Wenger is keen to land a player that he knows could be secured for less than £10 million.

The deal that could change all this is if Barcelona follow through with an offer for Arsenal captain Thomas Vermaelen. It could then mean players heading to The Emirates (Song, Villa?) in return.

Another player who could be wearing red and white come the summer is Man City’s Micah Richards. The player who has been a long term target of Arsene Wenger could be leaving City in the summer and may possibly be seen by Arsenal as a replacement for Bacary Sagna.

The Mail reports that in addition to Richards, Maicon, Wayne Bridge, Scott Sinclair and Roque Santa Cruz are among those likely to move on.

Although he is undoubted talented the player has struggled with a series of injuries that have kept him out of the City team.

Finally The Mirror reports on how Gilles Grimandi has been spending his time recently. Arsenal’s scout has apparently been keeping tabs ion the St Etienne pair Stephane Ruffier and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

French international keeper Ruffier has had a great season with St Etienne among the meanest defences in Ligue 1.

Meanwhile Gabon centre-forward Aubameyang is the second top scorer in the division.



Football

Arsenal update: Song return, Vermaelen to Barca, Real defender targeted

By Stefano on March 8th, 2013

Today’s Arsenal news is all about Spain. The big story is that, unhappy with his lot at Barcelona Alex Song is pondering a move back to The Emirates.

Less then a year after questioning the player’s commitment and attitude Arsene Wenger is reported to be happy to welcome the Cameroonian back to London.

Song, who has been pretty much sidelined by current Barca coach Jordi Roura, is apparently very keen to leave with PSG also monitoring his situation.

Arsenal are of course in need of a solid and powerful defensive midfielder – though there is a question mark over whether Song fits that bill. In his last season at The Emirates he was chastised by the manager for pushing forward too often and not maintaining his position.

One possible deal could see Song return to Arsenal and Belgian defender Thomas Vermaelen head the other way - with Barca adding a few million pounds as a sweetener.

The move might make sense for Vermaelen whose form has been poor this season.

One replacement then could be Real Madird’s Raul Albiol. The player has featured less and less for the side this season and may also be looking for a new challenge. The Daily Mail thinks that Arsene Wenger might be tempted.



Football

The low down on Arsenal target and France’s hottest new young striker

By Stefano on March 7th, 2013

What with Giroud scoring just three times in 10 games – the same btw as an ex Arsenal striker – The Gunners are in dire need of a clinical striker. Earlier today Andraes Cornelius was linked to the club, but now TalkSport have suggested that a player in a slightly more competitive league could be on his way to The Emirates.

Auxerre’s Yaya Sanogo is without a doubt the talk of French football at the moment. This after he scored seven goals in one week in February including putting four past Laval and then hitting a hat-trick seven days later against Tours.

And the youngster’s contract expires in the summer – a fact that has alerted numerous clubs around Europe including Arsenal and their French scout Gilles Grimandi.

The Daily Star even thinks that Arsene Wenger accompanied Grimandi to see the player this week to secure his signature.

It is quite astonishing that Auxerre haven’t nailed the player down for a few more years given his track record. In an astonishing run for the French Under 16s team in 2009 he score 18 goals in 18 games.

Auxerre have been fairly slow in accommodating Sanogo in their first team. This is largely because he spent over a year sidelined by an injury in 2011. He has been playing more regularly for the club this season and in fourteen starts has bagged an impressive eight goals.

Auxerre seem likely to get relegated this year so Sanogo will almost certainly be on the move.

The video shows him scoring some rather spectacular goals one of which was for France against England.



Football

Arsenal’s next captain? Ashley Williams? The Guardian thinks it could be on the cards

By Stefano on March 5th, 2013

Arsene Wenger has his eyes on Swansea’s captain and central defender Ashley Williams so says The Guardian.

There’s no mention of a source or a quote from Wenger but the paper says…

Wenger has identified the Wales captain as someone with the leadership qualities to control and organise Arsenal’s defence in a way more reminiscent of when the club built a large part of their success on having a dominant figure such as Tony Adams, Martin Keown or Steve Bould in the heart of their back four.

Interestingly the article also discusses Wenger’s lack of faith in his current trio of central defenders and suggests that the Arsenal manager was keen to bring a player in during the transfer window.

It also adds that neither Thomas Vermaelen or Per Mertesacker seem capable of taking charge of the Arsenal defence.

It concludes that Williams, who is contracted to 2015, would cost in the region of £8m and is also being tracked by Liverpool.

So, if this is true then why did Wenger not approach Swansea in the transfer window? Surely given Arsenal’s financial resources if he was that disappointed with his trio of centre backs he could have signed a player, maybe even Williams.

Arsenal clearly need as leader too though parachuting Williams in as not just as a new recruit, but also as a captain, sounds like it could be problematic.

So what do you think? It wouldn’t surprise me if Arsenal bid for the player in the summer, but he is just one on a long list of centre backs.

Pic from Wikipedia



Football

Wenger stopped Bould’s defensive sessions – says BBC’s David Ornstein

By Stefano on March 4th, 2013

If you look at the number of goals that Arsenal have conceded this season, it hardly looks like a club in a defensive crisis. The Gunners have let in 32 goals, that’s just one more than Man United.

The figures are however slightly skewed by the Arsenal defence’s excellent start to the season. They played five games and let in just two goals and their opponents included Liverpool and Man City.

The BBC’s David Ornstein has a theory as to why this is. On Radio Five Live this evening he claimed that sources in the club had told him that the great start was in part due to Steve Bould running defensive training sessions with the team. Ornstein said that the Arsenal assistant manager worked with the players on positional play and marking and it had paid dividends for the side.

However after the early games Arsene Wenger chose to stop the Bould sessions and Arsenal went back to the more traditional training methods that Wenger has employed throughout his tenure as manager.

Ornstein’s insists that there is no rift between Bould and Wenger and that players are behind the manager.

However if this is true, and given the BBC’s high editorial standards I am sure they would not have let Ornstein say what he did were there not a lot of truth in it, it doesn’t reflect very well on the club.

Ornstein also suggested that lack of communication among its defenders and Arsenal’s failure to replace Alex Song have further compounded the side’s defensive frailties.

So what do you think? Does he have a point?




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