Posts Tagged ‘Theo Walcott’

Football

Wenger’s winter shopping list – the six players who could re-ignite Arsenal’s season

By Stefano on December 30th, 2012

On one level that was a pretty impressive display by the Gunners against Newcastle. However before we get carried away and start predicting great things for the club in the new year it is worth noting the following. Firstly, injury-crippled Newcastle aren’t far off relegation fodder at the moment. Secondly Arsenal were poor for much of the first half managing only a couple of meaningful chances in addition to their goals.

There are clear holes in the team which need filling and Wenger, for all his talk of only signing exceptional players, knows this to be the case. No matter how big the new sponsorship deals are, not qualifying for The Champions League will blow a huge chasm in Arsenal’s financial plans and at the moment Arsenal look like a team that could well finish fifth or even sixth.

Also the pressure on the manager (and the board too) from the fans is starting to increase. What was the odd murmuring from disgruntled supporters a year or so ago is now a crescendo of discontent and it is an issue that needs to be met head on this January.

So, to help Arsene out a little, here are the six players who I think could transform Arsenal’s season. Obviously Arsenal would be unlikely to secure all six, but they are clearly missing a striker, a defensive midfielder, a wide player (especially if Arshavin goes) and a left back (if as expected Santos heads to Turkey).

This lot should realistically cost £30-40 million in signing on fees and a significant wad in wages. However that should still leave  plenty of cash for more rebuilding, and in particular that marquee striker signing, in the summer.

So who have I missed?

Pics from PA

2 David Villa

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Picture 5 of 6

Are we into fantasy land here? Well signing the Spanish superstar on a permanent deal is unlikely, but a loan would make sense for everyone. Arsenal will have a lot of cash to play with in the summer, so maybe then it is the time to think about that marquee striker signing - Lloriente, Falcao (in Wenger's dreams) etc. Until then the number one priority has to be qualifying for The Champions League while getting the most out of Arsenal's existing attacking options. Both Walcott and Giroud are starting to look like they are capable of scoring a lot of goals, so Wenger needs to keep their momentum going. Villa would not be able to play in The Champions League, but I think he would be brilliant at leading the line in the Premiership. His arrival would certainly create a buzz around The Emirates and inspire the belief that Arsenal can mix it with Chelsea and City as well as Spurs and Everton. It just doesn't feel like it is too much of a gamble. The hard part? Well that's persuading Barcelona to let him go,



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Why Spurs now have a stronger squad than Arsenal – and this from a Gooner

By Stefano on December 27th, 2012

Up until this season if you had suggested to an Arsenal fan that their pals at the other end of the Seven Sisters Road had a stronger squad you would have probably been chased all the way back to Edmonton.

However, as the season progresses and Arsenal’s results and performances get weirder and weirder, it has become painfully obvious to a lot of Gooners that the superiority over their neighbours that they once took for granted, might be about to come to an end.

At the time of writing both teams are, along with Everton, the key contenders for that fourth Champions League slot. If you asked me though who I think will be hosting Champions League games next season I’d say it is more likely to be Spurs – and this from a Gooner. And it isn’t just me. Catch them in a more reflective moment and many Arsenal fans would agree that their worst fears might soon be about to be realised.

I have gone through both squads and compared the Arsenal and Spurs players (to be fair I am way more familiar with the Gunners, but I have watched a lot of the Spuds on the TV this season) and the sad part is that, while it is still pretty close, in certain key areas, Tottenham have the edge. There is probably a greater number of Spurs players who I wish were wearing red and white than probably since the late 80s, and fewer Arsenal men that Spurs fans covet.

So, take the tour and say what you think in the comments. Like most Arsenal fans I remain optimistic, but that optimism is born out of two things – 1 A feeling that we have managed to sneak a Champions League slot so many times before. 2 That Ivan Gazidis isn’t kidding when he says that Arsene Wenger has plenty of cash to spend in January. Whether Arsene spends it though is another matter.

Images PA

Goalkeepers - Spurs

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Picture 1 of 7

So who is the best North London keeper? It is a bit of a moot point recently given that Wojciech Szczęsny has been out for a chunk of the season with injury and that AVB can't decide if Hugo Lloris or Brad Friedel is his number one keeper. Friedel's contract extension though might partially answer that one though. To be honest it is hard to choose between the three of them. I really love Szczęsny and like most Arsenal fans are desperate for him to succeed. He is a step above Almunia at the very least. What gives Spurs the edge though is that they have two quality keepers, Arsenal have one plus Mannone... A quality signing - Reina? - could even things up a little, but at the moment Spurs have the edge.



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

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?

 

 



Football

Walcott Crucial for Gunners’ Reading Trip

By Stefano on December 14th, 2012

On Monday night, Arsenal return to the scene of their incredible 7-5 win over Reading in the Capital One Cup, and will be desperate to bounce back strongly from their embarrassing midweek defeat to Bradford City.

Arsene Wenger’s team selections this season have generally been predictable, but he’s struggled to decide on his best right-sided midfielder. Theo Walcott has started there five times, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Aaron Ramsey four times each, and Gervinho has played there on three occasions. Walcott missed the Bradford defeat with a calf injury, but seems likely to be fit for his game at the Madejski.

If Walcott is available, Wenger must pick him. Walcott hit a fine hat-trick in the 7-5, and his raw pace will be crucial up against Reading’s Nicky Shorey, who lacks speed. Playing Walcott and Olivier Giroud together gives opponents a positional dilemma: the natural approach against Giroud is to push the defence high up the pitch, keeping the Frenchman away from the penalty box, but Walcott’s speed makes a high defensive line problematic.

Despite his lack of starts, Walcott remains Arsenal’s joint-highest league this campaign and their most prolific assistor, and while Wenger might be reluctant to pick him because of the ongoing stand-off regarding a new contract, Arsenal can’t afford to do without such a key attacking weapon.

If Walcott is injured, Wenger should turn to Oxlade-Chamberlain, telling him to stay wide and dribble at Shorey. Out-of-form Gervinho would also offer pace, but Ramsey would be a negative selection: left-back is Reading’s weak spot, and Arsenal need to attack it directly.

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 posted here.

Pic from 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 to sign Nani. Walcott to United. Has Arsene Wenger completely lost the plot?

By Stefano on December 11th, 2012

Ok, so it is just weeks before the transfer window moves from being a squillion speculative articles to a precious few days when deals can be done, contracts signed and managers re-asessed. So we are still in silly season mode.

One story that Gunners fans probably hope is the product of a over active imagination is the mooted move of Manchester United’s out of favour winger Nani to Arsenal for what one paper says could be around £20 million and others are suggesting might be a straight swap for Theo Walcott. By the reaction of Arsenal blogs and forums this really would not go down well.

What Arsene Wenger and the Arsenal board need at the moment is to re-earn the trust of the Arsenal fans. Signing Nani would torpedo that potentially for good.

Ok, in the interest of balance let’s look at the positives. Nani is undoubtedly a talented player who had his moments at United. I remember him tearing Arsenal apart at a game at The Emirates a few seasons ago.  He has also had several years experience of playing in the Premiership – unlike a lot of Wenger’s mooted signings – so there would be no settling in time. He is also quite a marketable player. If he were a success expect to see lot of shirts with his name on around The Emirates. In these recessionary times we shouldn’t forget that Nani is lot cheaper to display on the back of your shirt than say, Oxlade Chamberlain!

Many Arsenal fans though have a real downer on the player believing that his inconsistency betrays a very real talent. From laziness through to a propensity to fall over at the slightest nudge he doesn’t seem in any way to be the answer to Arsenal’s rather pressing problems.

Even if he weren’t playing for United I guess most fans would be aghast at the signing. But taking a reject from one of the team’s biggest rivals makes you run the risk of being seen as a laughing stock.

Over the last three years Arsenal have sold their best players and replaced them with signings who are on balance 20% less talented. Carzola may be great but he is not Fabregas. Giroud is no Van Perise and Gervinho no Nasri. Nani is a downgrade on Walcott – 20% less talented, committed and useful.

To make things worse one possible option would have Walcott going the opposite way in a swap deal. Losing Walcott would be terrible. Losing him to a Premiership club would be disastrous. Losing him to the team that already has the player he teamed up so well with at the end of last season is unforgivable.

I am sure that most Arsenal fans are hoping that the Nani deal is little more than a bit of old school paper talk and that Wenger has Zaha already lined up. If Nani does end up at The Emirates though and isn’t amazing in his first four games, then Arsene Wenger might find that even fewer people, still subscribe to the Arsene Knows creed.

Btw here’s why tonight’s game against Bradford could be the Gunners biggest game of the year so far.

 



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.




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