Posts Tagged ‘Arsene Wenger’

Football

Arsenal update: Wenger’s press conference has injury news (Gibbs/Wilshere), update on Villa and more

By Stefano on February 15th, 2013

Arsene Wenger had a pretty busy time of it this morning at the Arsenal press conference fielding questions about upcoming games against Blackburn and Bayern as well as the future of Santos, Villa and more.

Firstly on the injuries, Wenger revealed there was a possibility that Kieran Gibbs could be back in time for the game against Bayern

‘Kieran has a small chance to be fit for the second match against Bayern’

But he also cast doubt on the fitness of Jack Wilshere

‘I will not take a risk [with his fitness], with the rest of the season in mind and what happened before’

As for the game against Blackburn Wenger confirmed

‘The players who will not start are the players who have played many games recently. We are favourites, Blackburn have nothing to lose and they have a squad of Premier League players’

As for Villa, Wenger said

‘I am not on the case. I like the player but at the moment we have some immediate targets’

The door is however still open for Andre Santos

‘Of course he can have a future at Arsenal. That depends as well on the ins and outs during the summer. ‘He moved because he lost a little bit of confidence and he needs to play’

So what do you make of that lot then?

Well it seems that Arsene is focusing much more on the game against Bayern than Blackburn and that Saturday could see some fringe players – Miquel, Rosicky, maybe even Arshavin – get a game.

As for Bayern, the news that Gibbs might be fit is hugely encouraging for Gunners fans. Wenger would have to play Thomas Vermaelen in the left back berth and he is also struggling to get fit.

Personally I think that the comment on Santos makes sense. He has been a good player before, but clearly has struggled this season. He wouldn’t be the first Arsenal player ever to have a drop off in from.

As for Villa, that door it still open, but if I were a betting man the money would be on a younger striker arriving in the summer

 



Football

Arsenal target Stevan Jovetic’s Fiorentina future is uncertain

By Stefano on February 15th, 2013

It seems that top of Arsene Wenger’s striker wants list these days is not David Villa but Fiorentina’s Stevan Jovetic.The 23 year old has been in sparkling form this season, something which hasn’t escaped the attention of Man City’s Roberto Mancini too. Italian league leaders Juventus are also said to be very keen on the Montenegrin.

So there’s good news for the English clubs as Fiorentina’s sporting director Daniele Prade yesterday admitted that he is unsure of the player’s future

“We’re talking seriously with his agent at the moment”, the sporting director told Fiorentinanews.com as reported by Sportsvibe.

“We will see what happens from here until the end of the season. It depends on where we finish in the league, our goals for the future and other things.”

The big sticking point for Jovetic is that he wants to play in the Champions league. Fiorentina are currently sixth in Serie A and battling with the two Milanese clubs for fourth place. If they aren’t successful then Jovetic may choose to force the club’s hand.

Obviously not qualifying for the Champions League would also rule out Arsenal, who face Bayern Munich in the next round of the competition on Tuesday, too.



Football

Arsene Wenger has Spurs in his sights and is ‘ready for a fight’

By Stefano on February 11th, 2013

If Arsenal lose to Spurs when the two teams meet at White Hart Lane on March 3rd it won’t be the end of Arsenal’s campaign to qualify for the Champions league next year, but it will make it very hard for Arsene Wenger’s team to catch their north London rivals.

So not surprisingly Wenger has today been assuring the Arsenal fans that his team know what they are up against and are ready for the fight.

They face a formidable challenge. In spite of their striking issues Tottenham are unbeaten in 10 games and against Newcastle there were signs that they are hitting form at just the right time. Gareth Bale was exceptional, Mousa Dembele was a powerful presence in the midfield and Scott Parker is hinting at the form that made him so effective last season.

However, as every Gunner fan knows, this time last year Spurs were ten points clear of Arsenal when they met their north London neighbours. That catastrophic defeat than sparked off a decline in their form which saw them lose out on a Champions League spot.

Wenger is hoping for a re-run this year.

Asked about the teams attempt to to catch Spurs Wenger said on the club’s website

“There are many games to go. We are in the fight and the game on Saturday showed that we are ready for a fight. Our character was questioned many times. You saw (on Saturday) that we have plenty.”

His words were echoed by keeper Wojceich Szczesny who also told the club website

“I think we proved to a lot of people that we have what it takes to be successful because it wasn’t the best game in terms of quality, but we showed everyone the character and desire we have to get a result.”

Of the three London sides Chelsea arguably have the easiest run in while Spurs, with games against Chelsea, Man City and Everton to come, have the trickiest. Anything less than a draw for both sides could prove a near knock out blow to the loser.

Check out the list of games here.



Football

Bye Bye Andre Santos. The worst player ever to wear an Arsenal shirt?

By Stefano on February 10th, 2013

Andre-Santos-Twitter

Piers Morgan certainly thinks so and tweeted this last week.

No matter though for it seems that Arsenal’s likable but error-strewn Brazilian is on his way out of The Emirates. The Metro, among others, are reporting that Santos has been seen getting off the plane in Brazil on his way to new club Gremio.

Also The Gunners’ German striker Lukas Robert Podolski has possibly let the cat out of the bag by tweeting.

‘@Andre-santos27 We will miss you man, I wish u all the very best £Gunner God bless you.’

So is Piers really right? Is Santos the worst player ever to wear an Arsenal shirt?

Well he has some serious competition and that’s even if we don’t include players who only made one or two appearances.

To be fair he probably isn’t even the weakest link in the current Arsenal squad. That accolade goes to Sebastian Squillaci whose performances for the Gunners went rapidly downhill after his first season at the club.

Or don’t forget that The Gunners still have Park Chu-Young on the books, a player that Wenger trusted so little that he only played him four times.

Not that long ago the Arsenal fans were seriously on the back of Emmanuel Eboué, especially after the end of the 2011 season. There were few tears shed when he was sold to Galatasaray.

We shouldn’t also forget the twin towers of Pascale Cygan and Igor Stepanovs, both of whose names bring a very real shudder to Arsenal fans of a certain vintage.

Further back we need to add Francis Jeffers, the fox in the box who never was. He cost the club £8 million and yet only managed to find the net four times in his three year stint.

And then once you hit the 80s there’s a huge selection of Arsenal should have beens to choose from. The much maligned (though he really wasn’t that bad) Gus Caesar is the tip of a very large iceberg.

So Arsenal fans who else would you put in this category? Bischoff? Carter? McGoldrick. Let us know in the comments.

Here, to kick things off, is my worst ever Arsenal team.

Keeper – Rami Shaaban – though you can make a good case for Richard Wright who was both expensive and disappointing.

Defenders – Mikael Silvestre, Sebastain Squillaci, Pascal Cygan, Andre Santos – I know, maybe we could bring Igor on at half time?

Midfielders – Eddie McGoldrick, Denilson – Is there a case for John Jensen? Maybe

Wingers – Glenn Helder, Jimmy Carter -  Personally I liked Carter, but he didn’t achieve a great deal at Arsenal. Helder had about two good games for the club

Strikers – Francis Jeffers, Park Chu-Young – Also there’s Davor Suker? Kaba Diawara? Christopher Wreh?

Even Tottenham would beat that lot.



Football

Arsenal V Sunderland – five things to watch for

By Stefano on February 9th, 2013

Last year Arsenal’s game against Sunderland at the Stadium Of Light, which was almost a year ago to the day, will be remembered for all the wrong reasons. It was on a very sub-standard pitch that Per Mertesacker sustained an injury which meant that he missed the rest of the season. Arsenal went on to win the game 2-1 and today Arsene Wenger kwows that is it three points or busts for this players – or else that fourth place claim will start sounding a bit hollow.

So what should we be looking for?

1 Who is going to play as central defender? - With Vermaelen injured and Koscielny facing a late fitness test Wenger has a tricky decision to make about who will partner Per Mertesacker. The injuries raise the dreaded prospect (for some Arsenal fans) of a return to the Premiership of one Sebastien Squillaci. Alternatively Wenger could opt to play Ignasi Miquel his 20 year old Spaniard. Wenger has also suggested that Carl Jenkinson might get the nod with his pace and ability to read the game complementing Mertesacker’s physical presence.

2 Can Arsenal turn possession into goals?
– So many times this season Arsenal, have enjoyed a large amount of possession in games and not delivered enough goals. With Sunderland I expect that the Black Cats will try and hit Arsenal on the break as well as use ex Gunner Sebastian Larsson to engineer chances from dead ball situations. I wonder if Arteta will play deeper than usual to counter this.

3 Will Wilshere and Walcott have an England hangover? - Both players were exceptional for their country this week, but how will that critical acclaim affect their game today? Walcott might find his opportunities to break at speed limited with Sunderland playing quite deep. As for Wilshere, surely he is the key man for Arsenal this afternoon as he wangles his way through the middle to create chances for the team’s front men.

4 Expect lots of long range shots from The Gunners – Let’s hope that Podolski, Cazorla and Arteta have their shooting boots on. I think that a packed Sunderland defence could mean that Arsenal’s best bet are shots from the edge of the area.

5 Can Giroud continue his rich vein of form? - The French striker has been reminding Arsenal fans this week that he has started his career at the club much better than a Dutchman whose name I don’t care to mention. Away at Sunderland though is exactly the type of game where Giroud will need to get goals. He has at times squandered chances. He better not to do today as I don’t think he will get too many.



Football

Christian Benteke fancies a move to Arsenal

By Stefano on February 8th, 2013

You have to feel sorry for Villa fans. They are in the midst of a desperate relegation battle, weren’t able to strengthen their squad in the window and now see others clubs circling like vultures around their star player.

Yep, The Mirror and The Star are reporting that Christian Benteke is ready to quit Aston Villa and that his preferred destination is Arsenal.

Benteke has been in scintillating form this season scoring 14 goals, and this in a team that’s not just low on confidence but really lacking forward firepower.

Arsenal have been linked with a series of strikers. The current favourite is apparently Stevan Jovetic, but David Villa is almost certainly still on the radar.

You can see why the Benteke rumours make sense in that unlike Stevan Jovetic and David Villa Benteke has already shown he capable of scoring a lot of goals in the Premiership.

He would probably cost less than the other two as well.

It sounds too like Paul Lambert is already thinking about fending off bids from rivals.

He said at the morning’s press conference

“He’s only 22 and he’s got years and years ahead of him. He’s not at his peak, but what he’s done for me and for the club is fantastic. If someone wanted to buy Christian, they’d better have a few quid in their pocket. He’s not just going to walk out of here for the value he came for (£8 million), that’s for sure.



Football

Chuba Akpom – could he be Arsenal’s long term striking solution?

By Stefano on February 7th, 2013

Over the years the Arsenal academy has delivered some great players. Ashley Cole, Jack Wilshere, Wojciech Szczęsny, Tony Adams to name but a few.

Oddly though the academy hasn’t delivered many great strikers. If you think of the cream of Arsenal’s forward talent – Ian Wright, Thierry Henry, Robin Van Persie – they have all been bought from other clubs in their early to mid twenties.

Might that be about to change though with the massively exciting prospect that is Chuba Akpom. The 17 year old from East London signed professional terms with Arsenal at the end of last year a reward for some superb perfomances for the Gunners’ academy team.

And it isn’t just Arsenal fans who have noticed what potential they player has. Check out the video of Akpom scoring twice for England’s under 19s this week against Denmark. In the first time he was in the right place at the right time to punish a defensive error. For the second, his pace left the defender for dead creating an opportunity that he took superbly.

Arsene Wenger is obviously a massive fan of the player, he told the club’s offcial website in December after putting the striker on the bench for the Champions League trip to Olympiacos.

“He has personality [and] he has quality. I wanted him to be with the first team, taste what it is [to be involved] in a Champions League game, and hopefully he will join us very quickly. It could happen very soon.

“He’s more a guy who likes to participate in the build up, a guy who is brave, a guy who makes good runs and is not a typical goal chaser.

“Where he must improve is to finish things off. But he creates for others, he creates for himself, and just needs to be a bit calmer for the finishing. That’s something he will get easily.”

Akpom is still very much a raw talent, but his power and physical presence along with awareness of those who play upfront with him mark his as a bit special.

What Giroud doesn’t offer at the moment is what RVP had in spades – an awareness of the the right place to be in the box and a foot or two that are clinical when they get the chance.

These are qualities that given time we might come to associate with the youngster. The key though is that he gets his chance. It would be a gamble to push Akpom into the first team squad when he is barely seventeen. But I think he may have the raw talent to succeed and play a role in Arsenal’s push for Champions League Qualification. Who knows maybe current apparent Wenger’s keenness for Villa and older more experienced strikers is also because they can help develop Akpom to become an Arsenal great.



Football

Bad news for Arsenal fans – Sebastian Squillaci could start on Saturday against Sunderland

By Stefano on February 7th, 2013

Some rather worrying news for Arsenal fans. It seems possible that their old friend Sebastian Squillaci could start Saturday’s game against Sunderland partnering Per Mertesacker at the heart of the Arsenal defence.

Sebastian Squillaci hasn’t played for Arsenal in the Premiership this season (he has played just one game in the CL against Olympiacos), but with doubts over both Laurent Koscielny and Thomas Vermaelen his moment may have arrived again.

Koscielny picked up a calf strain during France’s 2-1 defeat to Germany on Wednesday night, while Vermaelen has an ankle knock.

There still sees to be a reasonable chance that at least one of them will be fit for the games against Sunderland but if not Squillaci is clearly in the frame. Wenger could also choose Ignasi Miquel who played a few times in the Premiership last season, and if memory serves me well did a fair job of marking Andy Carroll against Liverpool. The Spaniard has played well when given the opportunity, but the 20 year old’s slow progress does suggest that Wenger has concerns about playing him.

It underlines how annoying Arsenal’s failure to capture Etienne Capoue, who can play in both central midfield and the centre of the defence, in the transfer window was.

Pic Wikipedia



Football

Etienne Capoue very much on Arsenal’s radar

By Stefano on February 7th, 2013

It appears that Arsene Wenger hasn’t given up on the player who turned out to be his main target during the winter transfer window.

The Telegraph reports that Wenger has had scouts dogging the every move of one Etienne Capoue, the powerful central midfield player who is currently at Toulouse.

The Telegraph says

Capoue has been watched extensively and, as well as offering additional physical strength in central midfield, he would provide extra cover at centre-back. Arsenal did not directly replace Alex Song last summer, with Mikel Arteta being largely relied upon this season to perform the screening role in front of the defence.

The article then goes on to outline the club’s current financial situation reporting that Wenger could have a war chest of around £70 million in the summer.

Capoue was apparently player that Arsenal were chasing on the last day of the transfer window. Wenger acknowledged that a player had slipped through his grasp saying that ultimately the club didn’t want to sell the player and he couldn’t push the deal through.

The 23 year old 6 feet two inch player uses his physical presence to impose himself on games – something Arsenal with their smaller midfielders like Wilshere and Arteta are sorely lacking.

Capoue is also king of the long diagonal ball, a ploy that Arsenal don’t seem to be using much this season.

Here is more on the move for the player.

Pic from Wikipedia



Football

Will Arsenal lose out on David Villa if they don’t quality for the Champions League?

By Stefano on February 5th, 2013

As Arsenal fans don’t need reminding they are currently in sixth in the Premiership and are four points behind Spurs in fourth. Yet many supporters share Arsene Wenger’s confidence that the club will once again qualify for the Champions League.

Many pundits are backing the Gunners too with Mark Lawrenson also confident that Arsenal will see off their rivals.

The penalty for not qualifying would be primarily financial – Arsenal could lose out on £20 million plus of revenue – however it will also affect the club’s ambition to attract big name players, and this in spite of the new tranche of sponsorship money they have secured.

The club are mulling over a bid for Barcelona’s David Villa in the summer. But will he come if there’s no guarantee of Champions League Football? As Spanish paper AS (picked up by Sports Witness here) points out today he could join Atletico Madrid (as a replacement for Falcao who is expected to leave the club in the summer) be guaranteed Champions League football and keep his young family in Spain.

AS journalist Juan Casanez confirms that there was contact between Arsenal and David Villa this winter but says that now that deal didn’t happen there are more options on the table. Atletico Madrid will likely be looking for a Falcao replacement and Villa will be a much cheaper option to Luis Suarez, or even Edin Dzeko. The newspaper says that Atletico sporting director Jose Luis Caminero was in contact with Villa’s agents during the transfer window, with a view to the summer.

Not only are Atletico more likely to qualify for the Champions League, they are also able to offer Villa the chance to stay in Spain with his young family. His wife recently gave birth to the couple’s first son and they have two young daughters, the attraction of remaining in the country is something that AS think will be another advantage.

Arsenal might also find themselves chasing players who are also fancied by Spurs and if Tottenham have the CL slot then they will clearly have an edge over their North London rivals. For example would world class centre backs like Mats Hummels and Fernando Amorebieta join the club? Probably not.

It is worth pointing out that both Liverpool and Spurs have signed world class players without a CL qualification (Suarez being the classic example) but when it comes to top stars, or players in the twilight of their career like David Villa, CL qualification is a given.

 



Football

Arsenal update: Where does the Monreal signing leave Kieran Gibbs?

By Stefano on February 4th, 2013

There’s no denying that Arsenal are looking a much stronger side than they did a few months ago. And while part on this is down to the scintillating form of Waclott, the ever growing confidence of Wilshere and the attacking flair of Giroud the defence has also played its part.

And in particular Arsenal’s key defender this season has arguably been Kieran Gibbs. At the start of the Liverpool, game Gibbs’ Arsenal future looked assured. Not only was he playing well and had signed a new long term contract, but after a series of disastrous performances no one believed that Andre Santos posed any real thereat to his position.

Then disaster – yet another injury- this time to the thigh – and Gibbs is out for over a month and Arsene Wenger – in old school parlance – got his cheque book out.

Nacho Monreal then looks like a superb signing. Against Stoke, a baptism of fire if there ever was one, he looked assured, always in control,  tough in the tackle and imaginative going forwards. Pretty much everything you’d want from a  left back. And it was clearly  no fluke. Take a peek at these these stats here. Monreal has been Malaga’s Mr Consistent. No wonder that Malaga manager Manuel Pellegrini said that he was very sad to see him go.

The big question then is what happen when Gibbs returns to full fitness? Will he be straight back into the team? Sadly the answer is probably no. As accomplished a player as Gibbs is he has never managed a run of more than half a season without an injury and I think that pushed Wenger to move for a number one left back.

There were rumours that Wenger had decided he was going to sign Monreal in the summer anyhow and just pushed the deal forward. This might be true, but had Gibbs been injury-free for the season and Meade started to emerge as a potential replacement then I am not so sure that a left back would have been high of Wenger’s targets.

Wenger has gone on record as saying that he sees Monreal as one of the five best left backs in the world. I am not sure he would rate Gibbs quite as highly.

So I fear for the Arsenal future of Kieran Gibbs. For me he is a superb left back and way too good to be anyone’ s understudy. Who knows what the next six months will bring and maybe Wenger will give Gibbs the nod when he is fully fit.

But I think like Carl Jenkinson, this young Englishman is destined for a season or two not playing anything like as much football as he hoped.

More Arsenal

Who has the best squad Arsenal or Spurs?

Who else did Arsenal try and sign in the transfer window?

 



Football

So who else did Arsenal try to sign on the last day of the window? Villa? Traore? Capoue?

By Stefano on February 3rd, 2013

As well as the signing of Nacho Monreal Arsene Wenger admitted that Arsenal got pretty close to grabbing another player on the last day of the window. However that player’s club refused to let the player go and the deal fell through.

So who was that player? It was assumed initially to be either Barcelona’s David Villa or West Ham’s Mohamed Diame, but now it appears that it might not have been either of them.

The Villa deal was quite possibly dead several days before the end of the window and although Wenger was making all the right noises about Diame it seems like he changed his mind about the player and didn’t actually make a bid for him.

One other theory that has been advanced is that Arsenal were close to signing Lorient forward Alain Traore but pulled out because the player sustained a thigh injury.

Several sources now claim that player that Wenger got close to signing was in fact Toulouse midfielder Etienne Capoue

TalkSport said yesterday.

The France international had been linked with a switch to England throughout January, with Everton and Fulham joining Arsenal in the pursuit.

And while Wenger landed Nacho Monreal from Malaga, he was also busy trying to sign Capoue but was thwarted as the Ligue 1 club refused to talk.

The 24-year-old’s agent Mino Raiola told L’Equipe: “The Toulouse president didn’t need to sell during this window. The asking price was a barrier every time.”

Well it certainly sounds plausible. Arsenal have been linked to Capoue for a long time. He is also exactly the type of combative midfielder the club needs to add some steel in front of the defence. Moving for Capoue would also explain why Wenger suddenly cooled on Diame.

In fact he must have been very keen on Capoue as he would have probably cost twice the amount that Arsenal would have paid West ham for Diame.

Ultimately though the failure to sign anyone – part from the excellent emergency left back – is a poor reflection on the Gunners’ management team. To have 31 days to sort out reinforcements only for the deal for your favoured player to be scuppered on the last day because the player’s club don’t actually want to sell, sounds very poor planning



Football

Bit late – David Villa wants Arsenal move in the Summer

By Stefano on February 3rd, 2013

If you thought you had heard the last of the David Vila to Arsenal stories now the window has closed – think again. The Sun  is running with a story today that suggests that Barcelona’s want-away striker will push the deal through in the summer.

The Sun says

After a long-term injury last season, Villa has failed to command a first-team place at Barca this term.

He has made just 15 competitive starts — yet still scored 10 goals.

Now the Spain striker wants to be with a team where he will once again be the main man. Villa earns around £110,000 a week at the Nou Camp, so his wages will not cripple the Londoners financially.

The key issue now though for Wenger is whether he thinks Villa has a long term future as a top-level striker.

Villa would have been an ideal signing in the winter – maybe even on loan – to add firepower to the Gunners and help secure a Champions league slot. But a longer term agreement would represent more of a gamble for the London club.

Of course a great deal could happen before the summer. Villa could re-establish himself in the Barca team and Arsenal may become a less desirable destination if they fail to qualify for the Champions League.

Also, until recently Arsenal were not in the habit of offering long term contracts to players over 29. They amended this slightly when signing Mikkel Arteta in 2011 and also making it clear that they would offer an extended deal to Robin Van Persie.

So has Arsene Wenger changed his mind? Not according to The People who have a story that Arsenal have given up their pursuit of Villa and will concentrate on young players in the summer.

The winner is all this is Olivier Giroud. The French striker has been in excellent form of late in scoring nine goals in 24 games. However some Arsenal supporters think that with a sharper more clinical finisher leading the line Arsenal would be scoring twice as many goals given the large number of chances that Cazorla, Walcott and Wilshere are creating.

So do Arsenal need Villa anyway?



Football

Arsenal update: is Bong the team’s new left back?

By Stefano on January 31st, 2013

Arsene Wenger stated last night that he would be looking for a left back today, yet other than the obvious – Baines, Shaw etc – very few targets have emerged.

Now the Mail has revealed that Wenger might be looking to his traditional French territory for a replacement in the guise of Valenciennes’ Gaetan Bong.

The Cameroon international Bong, who is familiar face to several of the Arsenal team having played alongside Laurent Koscielny and Olivier Giroud in France’s Ligue 2 three years ago, is a 24 year old who previously played for FC Metz. He gets the odd goal too having scored three times in his stint with Valenciennes.

There’s no source for The Mail story, but it seems pretty plausible and Bong could be picked up cheaply.

Kieran Gibbs is apparently going to be out for three weeks with a thigh injury.

Incidentally  Squawka has some interesting stats on Bong. Their conclusion is that he is just not good enouigh for the Premier League.



Football

Arsenal update: Left Back Targets – Forget Baines and Shaw. Why Assou-Ekotto could be a more realistic option

By Stefano on January 31st, 2013

Well it didn’t take long. French newspaper Maxifoot is already suggesting that Arsene Wenger is about to revive his interest today in two of his long term left back targets.

With Kieran Gibbs, who has been excellent this season, out for at least three weeks Wenger faces the prospect of playing Bayern Munich with the frankly, quite disastrous, Andre Santos at left back.

With that in mind French paper Maxifoot is linking the Gunners with a move for either Shaw or Baines.

Its is pure speculation at the moment and it would cost Arsenal a lot of money to prise either of them away from their current clubs, so don’t bet your house on it.

One left back who is closer to home and could be available is Tottenham’s Assou-Ekotto. He has been excellent for Spurs in recent season and there are rumours that he wants a loan move to Inter Milan.

Are there any other Gooners who think that he would be a perfect for a loan move to Arsenal? He could play against Bayern Munich and get a chance to re-start his career.

It is hard to see AVB sanctioning the move but, well you never know.




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