Per Mertesacker takes responsibility for team’s improved attitude

October 21, 2017 by  
Filed under Arsenal FC

Arsenal defender Per Mertesacker says that it is his responsibility to make the club’s players want it more.

Speaking before our take on Everton this weekend, the German reflected on the disastrous defeat against Watford, when we were 1-0 up but lost 2-1 late on after an awful second-half performance.

The club captain had a different opinion to Arsene Wenger and Jack Wilshere, when he claimed that his team-mates need to start being better prepared mentally for games.

“Even if you’re exhausted, even if it’s a game where you think you have to make every single step possible to avoid chances, you do it,” Mertesacker told Arsenal Player.

“They [Watford] were coming for us and were having a real go at us.

“Then you need numbers, you need players in the box and players wanting to defend that goal. We lacked that, totally, especially on that second goal.

“I need to do a better job in preparing our players, especially mentally to go that extra step.

“That needs to be done beforehand. Afterwards is easy because anyone can judge us on that performance and can criticise.

“That’s fair play, but we as players and me as captain need to make sure we are aware of that before the game, not afterwards.”

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Alexis Sanchez to Manchester City: Five replacements to the Chilean Arsenal could sign including Julian Draxler

October 16, 2017 by  
Filed under Arsenal FC

Who Should Arsenal turn to if Alexis Sanchez eventually leaves The Emirates. Football Weeks has rounded up five replacement we think could replace the Chile international including Paris Saint-Germain winger Julian Draxler.

With reports claiming that the whole of Alexis Sanchez to Manchester City saga could be the trending in the January transfer window, it’s fair to say the Gunners have some work to do.

Arsenal reportedly face fresh interest from Pep Guardiola’s side in Sanchez this winter, with a cut-price deal of around £20million being in talks according to the Daily Mirror.

Sanchez would be a huge loss for Arsenal, even if the ex-Barcelona striker hasn’t started this season in the kind of form that saw him netted 30 goals across all competitions last season.

Despite Arsene Wenger fighting off interest in Sanchez so far, the 28-year-old will be out of contract at the end of this season and talks of new contract has stalled.

This could force the north London side to sell the forward to Manchester City for less than they’d like, and it’s clear such an influential player would need a top class replacement to take his place in Wenger’s attack.

Football Weeks has rounded up five replacement who could fill that void……

Thomas Lemar

Subject of a £92million deadline day bid from the Gunners in the summer, according to London Evening Standard, could Arsenal reignite their interest in the Monaco winger again in January?

The talented 21-year-old France international impressed in Ligue 1 last season and has not stopped making rounds this season. There were reported interest from Arsenal over the summer months, though a deal could not be reached as Sanchez ended up staying instead.

Thomas Lemar

Still, Arsenal reviving this deal would not be surprising if City are successful in snatching Sanchez away in the middle of the season.

Monaco vice-president Vadim Vasilyev has also been quoted revealing Lemar could be sold in future, though that could likely be next summer and not this winter.

Vasilyev told Sky Sports: ‘I think it would be fair to say Thomas will have a fair chance to an exit next year. January, in football, never say never, but this is not what we’re thinking of.’

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Not recently linked with Arsenal, but a pacey and prolific striker who seems absolutely tailor-made to replace Alexis Sanchez at the Emirates Stadium.

The Gabonese forward also admitted Borussia Dortmund were ready to sell him this summer, he told Sport Bild as quoted via the Metro: ‘There was a time in the window when I could have changed (clubs).

‘We (Aubameyang and the Dortmund board) agreed on this together in all openness but nothing happened.’

Seeing Ousmane Dembele joining Barcelona in the summer, it’s more unlikely Dortmund would allow Aubameyang leave Dortmund in any time soon, but as the saying goes, ‘there’s no harm in trying’ Arsenal could try and give it a go.

Julian Draxler

Julian Draxler has severally been linked with Arsenal on many occasions, with recent report claiming he could have confirm his interest in joining the Gunners via an Instagram post.

According to the Daily Star last week, the tabloid claimed Wenger could Sanchez to Paris Saint-Germain in a cash plus player deal that would see Draxler joining his side instead of selling Sanchez to Manchester City.

A cash plus player would be the best thing since slice bread to end the Sanchez transfer saga as Draxler would slot right in perfectly as an ideal attacker to fill the Chile international boots.

PSG’s acquisition of Neymar and Kylian Mbappe this summer has seen Draxler fallen down the pecking order under Unai Emery’s side, so could well favour the move to north London in January.

Anthony Martial

There have been reports elsewhere that Arsenal could pursue a shock move for Manchester United forward Anthony Martial if they lose Sanchez to Manchester City in January. The 21-year-old has been in great form for Jose Mourinho’s side this season, despite in his new super-sub role.

Martial has been rated as one of the best young talents in world football, the France forward may well feel he is worthy of playing more often, which might seem more possible at the Emirates.

He is capable of playing out wide or deployed as a centre-forward, he is another ideal like-for-like replacement to Sanchez and Martial’s huge experience in the Premier League would serve as a bonus for Arsenal.

Still, there is no possibility of him leave Old Trafford as the Red Devils will surely not want to risk strengthening a rival with such a potentially lethal attacking player.

Raheem Sterling

Finally, the Daily Mirror have also claimed the Gunners could try again to sign former Liverpool forward Raheem Sterling from Man City in January.

Wenger has been a long-time admirer of the England international was top of priority targets to replace Sanchez during the summer, though Pep Guardiola was not interested in parting with his star man.

There’s no doubting what Sterling could do in Arsenal Red and White jersey after his brilliant start to the season for Manchester City, in which he has seen the net six times this season.

This article was originally published on FootballWeeks.com

Report: Man United, Barcelona Ready To Sign Mesut Ozil Next Summer

October 7, 2017 by  
Filed under Arsenal FC, Premier League, Transfers

Barcelona and Manchester United are poised to signing Mesut Ozil when his Arsenal contract expires in summer 2018, according to Goal.

The Germany international became the Gunners’ record signing when he arrived the Emirates from Real Madrid in 2013, but Arsenal and Ozil have been unable to agree on a contract extension during their talks over the last year. As it stands, the former Los Blancos midfielder is able to leave the club for nothing at the end of June, and will be able to talk about signing a pre-contract agreement with other clubs from January.

The German and teammate Alexis Sanchez find themselves in similar situations contractually, though the report goes on to claim the Chilean has “no intention” of committing to Arsenal by putting pen to paper on a new deal. Sanchez has been linked with Premier Leagues sides Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea, as well as the likes of Bayern Munich, Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain, according to Football Weeks.

He is all but certain to leave the club, though the report adds that Ozil’s situation isn’t quite so clear cut. Reports claimed that Sanchez recently turned down a new £275,000-a-week deal are claimed to be false, and Ozil has just bought a new house in London – meaning he is open to staying.

United boss Jose Mourinho has worked with Ozil at Real Madrid in the past – the European champions are another club the player would be interested in joining – and the two share a healthy relationship. While Ozil has revealed Mourinho once labelled him a “coward” in a dressing room row, the Portuguese wrote the foreword in a book recently released by Ozil.

Mourinho is open to signing Ozil to Old Trafford, though there is understood to be a little bit of reluctance on Ozil’s stance in joining the Red Devils, and is set to make a play for him as he looks to bring in a number of new additions for next year. Ozil would however consider a move up north.

Barcelona, meanwhile, are looking for more creativity in their midfield. They failed with several offers for Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho in the summer, and Ozil could be seen as a more affordable option.

Inter Milan eyeing Arsenal’s £110,000-a-week star – reports

October 5, 2017 by  
Filed under Arsenal FC, Premier League, Transfers

Serie A giants Inter are considering a move for Theo Walcott as the England forward begins to run down his contract at the Emirates.

Walcott is currently the Gunners longest serving player earning £110,000 per week, having joined the club with a lot of hype around him from Southampton in 2006. Aged just 17, many tipped him to be England’s next big star but Walcott has struggled to find consistency in his decade in north London.

Now 28, Walcott is moving into his final two years of his contract at the Emirates and Italian outlet Calciomercato report that Inter are more than ready to go for him if he is made available in January. Walcott’s move to San Siro would allow winger Antonio Candreva to leave the club, with Chelsea reportedly interested in him.

Inter have reportedly been following the England forward for a while, and are said to be very keen on him. Walcott has for long been a controversial figure amongst Gooners fans, but can boast a respectable enough 107 goals in 388 games.

He would be tasked with helping the former treble winners getting back into Europe, having failed to even reach the Europa League last season after a seventh placed finish as Juventus again strolled to the league title.

However, his only silverware with Arsenal is three FA Cups, with his best goal tally in a season being 21 back in 2012/13. It’s the only time in his career he’s scored 20+ goals in a season in his career, but a move to San Siro would link him up with free scoring captain Mauro Icardi, who already has six goals in seven games this season, following on from 26 in 41 last year.

Arsenal return to action against Watford at the Vicarage Road Stadium on 14 October in the Premier League fixture game week 8 of the season and will be hoping to be included in Arsene Wenger’s lineup against the Hornets.

Smash n’ Grab – Just What The Professor Ordered!

October 20, 2011 by  
Filed under Arsenal FC, Champions League

Greetings fellow Gooners!

Well, if that wasn’t exactly what was needed I am unsure what was!

Marseille presented tonight’s test and, in truth, they seemed happy to spend most of the match playing very defensive football and hoping to catch us on the break. This is not a new tactic against Arsenal and, as has proved in the past, one that tends to be quite frustrating for our players resulting in heads dropping and lapses in concentration which have a habit of lead to some quite horrible consequences.

Wenger chose Rosicky over Ramsey, probably a choice guided by fitness and experience as much as anything else and Arshavin got the nod over Gervinho, but aside from this, we saw the team that we expected to with Santos and Jenkinson filling the wide berths alongside Mertesacker and Koscielny in the centre of defence, Arteta and Song in the centre of midfield with Walcott and Van Persie completing the line-up.

With the fairly defensive set-up of Marseille, the game was always going to be a testing affair and so it proved with neither side really creating a great deal in the first 45 minutes, although both teams had reason to feel a touch aggrieved after two fairly stand-out penalty claims. One in only the 14th minute when Jenkinson appeared to handle the ball without any real need to do so and plenty of time to get the offending mitt out of the way, and a second shout for Arsenal when, in the 21st minute a corner hit the outstretched hand of Diarra before Van Persie attacked the ball, looping it over the stranded Mandanda in the Marseille goal, only for Diarra to then be the one to clear the ball off the line.

How the referee missed the handball is frankly beyond me as the white ball hitting the black glove of Diarra was surely an easy spot?! But then again, if we had been given that penalty, things might have turned out differently in the end…And that could possibly be the worst thing that could have happened!

What ACTUALLY happened was this…

Arsenal went in at half-time looking frustrated and not a little lacklustre. Marseille had stuck to their task of ensuring that we did not score well as well as looking vaguely dangerous on the counterattack too. Coming out for the second half it was obvious that some magic words had been spoken in the Arsenal dressing room and, not for the first time this season, the break seemed to give us new impetus and an altogether more interesting sense of urgency. There were less of the long hopeful balls to the frontmen that we had seen in the first half and a good degree more purpose and poise in midfield with Rosicky and Arteta really starting to run a tidy shop whilst Song started to push a little further forward. Risky in parts, but effective until the last third of the field where, once again, we flattered to deceive seeing the lion’s share of possession but creating little of note aside from Walcott getting into the box but finding Mandanda up to the task from a tight angle on the edge of the six-yard box.

The old worries began to creep in again and when, in the 62nd minute, we were to be denied any further viewing of the seemingly boundless energy of young Carl Jenkinson (excellently compared to a young Pat Rice by ‘Holic Thanks for that ‘Holic, I actually hadn’t drawn the comparison but you are quite correct 🙂) who went off with a potentially nasty knee injury, hearts must have been fluttering at the sight of Johan Djourou once again on a football pitch in an Arsenal shirt! In fairness to Djourou, he actually stepped up well enough, covering the right hand side of the defence ably enough and getting a yellow card for a challenge that is one of the finest I have ever seen him make!

I have my fingers crossed the injury Jenkinson picked up is not too bad as we can ill afford it with our current injury list and, of equal importance, I am sure we will have to hear from a raft of “supporters” about how Wenger should have bought Richards, Miguel, Alves AND Zambrotta in the transfer window as well as coaxing Gary Neville out of retirement and that his failure to achieve all of the signings is simply an oversight on his part and further proof of his ineptitude and inability to run a football club with any degree of competency! The news coming from the Arsenal camp thus far is that he over-extended his knee and will undergo some tests tomorrow. That said, there doesn’t seem to be the usual panic surrounding this particular injury that we tend to see, so with any luck he will fit and playing again in the very near future.

So, a fairly insipid second half began to unfold, unaided by the french side becoming less and less willing to actually play any sort of attacking football at all. Lots of old habits and worrying habits began to surface. A constant air of impatience from the Arsenal players seeing more and longer balls thrown up towards Van Persie in the hopes that he would pull another magical rabbit out of his shorts coupled with plenty of possession but little end product were compounded by Marseille looking more and more like they would settle for a point thus parking more and more of the bus in front of their goal seemed destined to provide a 0-0 draw and, whilst not a disaster by any means, not the confidence-boosting, spirit-lifting, corner-turning win that we really could have done with. Clearly something needed to be changed if we were going to get the three precious points. Step in Arsene Wenger, the hopeless tactician infamous for having no “Plan B”!

On 67 minutes the entrance of Gervinho in place of Walcott who, to be fair, did get kicked to the ground almost every time he got the ball in anything like a dangerous position, although his crossing was an utter disgrace, upstaged totally in this area by Jenkinson, saw the injection of a new dimension to the attacking play. Good close control with the ball and a willingness to run into the channels without it, thus making himself available for a simple pass – something that we had been lacking desperately at times in the previous hour – gave Marseille a little more to think about whilst also spreading the play across to the wings once again, somewhere we had spent little quality time in the hour or so prior to his introduction.

The third substitution and second of a tactical nature came when, on 78 minutes, Arshavin was replaced by Ramsey who, whilst everybody surely expected Rosicky to move out to the left and leave Ramsey in the centre, seemed to have been given a fairly roaming brief, popping up on the edge of the box, the right, the left and in the defensive midfield slot when Song pushed forwards.

And it was the pair of Gervinho and Ramsey that finally broke Marseille’s and Deschamps’ hearts and filled ours with a joy and almost unbelievable relief that has been missing for a while now!

I know that being an Arsenal fan is a dramatic life and I know that sometimes we would all just prefer some run of the mill, old school wins, but in truth there are times when a touch of the extreme is what we really need to give everybody that “jolt” to take things forward.

And that “jolt” is exactly what we got!

With the referee adding a mere 3 minutes of extra time even after 5 substitutions and a decent stoppage for the injury to Jenkinson, it appeared that a point each would be the outcome and probably a fair one at that. In the 91st minute Van Persie found himself free in the penalty area after a lovely through ball from Gervinho, but when Mandanda proved to be up to the task of stopping him, there was an obvious sense that the last chance of the game had gone by…

…but that wouldn’t be very dramatic, very exciting, very ARSENAL, now would it?!

In the 92nd minute Djourou put in a cross from almost the halfway line that, whilst dangerous, whizzed across the back of Van Persie and a little too far behind Gervinho for him to control the ball. However, his inability to get the ball down would provide to be what may turn out to be one of the most important, though accidental, assists of our season as, right on cue and advancing like an unstoppable train in Arshavin’s position on the left of the penalty area appeared Aaron Ramsey. Collecting the ball cleanly he moved into the box unchallenged and, fooling the goalkeeper into believing that his shot was going across him into the far corner, kept his head and rifled it just inside the near post.

A moment of calm in the eye of the storm from a player who many seem to forget is still only 20 years old and has spent a year of his career in the treatment room after being “Shawcrossed”.

To be honest, I almost couldn’t cheer, at least for a few moments, such was the shock of us actually doing the unthinkable…Pulling off a win in the dying seconds rather than throwing away a lead and, above all, proving that we can “win ugly” too!

There are moments in a season at which you can look back and say “that is where it all went wrong” or “that was the moment that turned things around”. It is too soon to claim that we are past the hump or even ready to mount a challenge on any front, but if the lads needed a big old helping of pick me up, this could well have been it.

All in all this was not the bad performance that the media is already presenting it as. We defended well apart from one or two “moments” that happen to most teams in the course of 90 minutes of football. Koscielny put in a standout shift and was my man of the match whilst Mertesacker again looked like he will just continue to improve until he explodes! We controlled the midfield for the most part with Arteta looking lively and available and Rosicky looking fitter with each passing game and continuing to show why Wenger didn’t choose to let him go when so many said that he should. Van Persie was excellent again, causing numerous problems for the Marseille centre back partnership of Diawara and N’Koulou although the service he received, or didn’t in truth, left much to be desired. Most importantly of all, we kept going until the very last minute, literally, and got the reward that deserved.

After the match Arsene Wenger had this to say on the subject of our late, late show:

“We left it very late but we had a difficult start. We lost some balls in the first half due to the fact Marseille pressed us well.

They didn’t find their fluency but in the second half we took over and I don’t think Marseille were dangerous at all [after half-time]. Marseille defended very well but you could see in the last 15 minutes we created some chances and were rewarded because we kept going and got an important victory.

I felt like we needed to be patient and intelligent. You could see our midfield had experience – we didn’t make stupid mistakes and we didn’t play stupid balls. It’s an important win but you take any win away from home in the Champions League.

We lost two points in Dortmund in the last seconds of the game. We lost a Champions League Final in the last part of the game with 10 men. We are not always lucky but when you face good opposition you need to take your chances.

He is, of course, absolutely right on all counts, but I think there is also another important point worth making here – When Manchester United win ugly in the last minute of extra time it is due to their dogged determination and how that is the stuff of champions.

Let’s hope that this provides exactly the boost that was needed to go out against Stoke on Sunday and show them a performance of champions too!

And on that note I bid you farewell!

Come on you top of Champions League Group F Goooonnnnneeerrrrssss!