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Friday, December 31, 2010

Arsenal well in the mix

With just 4 points separating the top 4 teams in the Premier League, this season’s title race is more wide open and exciting than ever before. Man United, Man City, Arsenal & Chelsea are the sides battling it out to become champions of England and its those in Arsenal football shirts who have come out over the Christmas period and shown their title winning credentials by brushing aside fellow contenders Chelsea on Monday.

The Gunners comprehensive 3-1 win at the Emirates bought to an end their recent barren home run against their London rivals and made people sit up and take notice of their title bid.

Without a Premier League title for 5 seasons, Arsenal have an excellent chance this season of once again being English champions. Currently sitting 2 points behind leaders Manchester United having played a game more Arsenal find themselves in this position even after a mixed bag of results this season.

After home defeats by West Brom and arch rivals Tottenham a lot of people wrote Arsenals title chances off this season. But with their latest win over Chelsea to go with away wins at Man City & Aston Villa, pundits are saying that this is Arsenal’s best chance in years of regaining their Premier League crown.

As with any Arsenal team, they look close to unstoppable going forward; with the likes of Samir Nasri on blistering form for them so far this season. With the influential Cesc Fabregas being in the treatment room on more than one occasion this season, Nasri has really had to step into the limelight and he has done this with aplomb; sitting top of Arsenals scoring charts and putting in some eye catching displays at the heart of the Arsenal midfield with his mazy runs.

Marouane Chamakh has also been a revelation this season for the Gunners following his free transfer move from Bordeaux in the summer. The Moroccan could end up to be the bargain of the season if he continues his goal scoring form throughout the season, but it’s not just his goal scoring that has caught the eye. His link up play is second to none and he brings a slightly different side to Arsenals game, as they can use Chamakh as more of a target man; a style of play which the Gunners don’t usually adopt.

I won’t be fully convinced of Arsenals title credentials until they shore up the defence, as they are still leaking goals all too often. Summer signings Squillaci and Koscielny haven’t convinced me and they have been unfortunate to be without the services of Thomas Vermaelen for the majority of the season.

With Arsenal currently sitting in 3rd, they are well placed to mount a serious title challenge this season. If they can keep the squad fairly injury free and ensure they can take points off of their fellow contenders I think they will be there or thereabouts. This is a very good squad assembled by Arsene Wenger; I’m not saying they are the invincibles of the 2004-05 season, but if they can bring the Premier League trophy back to the Emirates then they will be held in very high regard by the Arsenal faithful.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Arsenal miss out on chance to rebuild confidence

Chelsea certainly aren't experiencing their best run of form right now, but Arsenal are arguably in far greater need of a pick-me-up than the Blues and, as such, the postponement of their fixture at the weekend against Stoke may be another nail in the coffin of their chances of winning their first Premier League title since the 2003/2004 season.

Those using the betfair free bet code may think that this may seem a little over the top at this stage of the season, but the fact remains that Arsenal have already been forced to admit that they suffer from anxiety when they face the top teams, a fact actually confirmed by their own captain. Had the Gunners enjoyed a nice, comfortable victory over Stoke on Saturday, then the pain of their recent defeat at Old Trafford may well have been erased. Instead, however, Arsenal will enter their game against Chelsea with their last memory of a match darkened by the pain of defeat against a title rival.

With their upcoming tie against the Blues undoubtedly a crucial moment in the context of the Gunners' season as they look to stand a chance of staying in the title race for the long-haul, Arsenal know that they need to be at their very best if they wish to stop the likes of Didier Drogba from wreaking complete havoc on them once again. If they allow any nerves to creep into their performance next week, then critics will once again be able to lambast the Gunners for failing to show that they can stand up and be counted when the moment demands it. However, if they win the crucial clash, they may finally put to bed the idea that they are the babies of the big boys in the Premier League.

As Arsene Wenger enjoys looking for excuses rather than solutions, those placing a free sports bet believe that this weekend may just have given him the perfect excuse for another defeat against the big boys.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Arsenal get worst possible draw

It was perhaps inevitable, so much so that even Arsene Wenger called it. Arsenal will indeed play Barcelona in the last 16 of the Champions League.

It is the harshest possible punishment for slipping up against Braga and Shaktar in the group stages, two results that caused them to be the only English side to go through as group runners-up. That, of course, limited the choice of sides the Gunners could face in the next round, with the intimidating trio of Barca, Real Madrid and Bayern lurking in the pot. The Champions League specials suggested any of these games would be a challenge.

A tie against Bundesliga outfit Schalke would have been the best they could have hoped for - though Wenger refused to admit that in a press conference this week, choosing instead to praise Barca, perhaps in the knowledge that it was almost inevitable they would be paired together again.

For the neutral it is the tie of the round. When the two sides clashed at the quarter-final stage last season they produced two memorable matches. The first leg at the Emirates saw Barca dominate the early stages, playing wonderful possession football.

The game looked wrapped up when Zlatan Ibrahimovic put them 2-0 up but a late comeback saw Arsenal escape with a 2-2 draw.

The second leg was all about one man - Lionel Messi. The diminutive Argentinean was in scintillating form at the Nou Camp and almost singlehandedly dismantled Arsenal, grabbing all four goals in a comprehensive 4-1 victory.

Barca would go on to fall at the hands of Jose Mourinho's Inter Milan in the semi-final but such is their form this season - a 5-0 rout of Real Madrid being the highlight - they have been deservedly labelled 'super favourites' for the competition and as you may expect the Champions League predictions reflect this.

Arsenal will be up against it if they want to make it to the last eight this season.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Evra fuels the fire ahead of Monday’s clash

Often when Arsenal play Manchester United, the press have to build the feud between the two sides up in some way. This could be by showing old footage of Martin Keown and Ruud Van Nistelrooy or perhaps the Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira tunnel spat.

Ahead of Monday’s game at Old Trafford though, United defender Patrice Evra has done all the hard work for them by stating that ‘there will be no trophy’ for the Gunners this year.

In an astonishing outburst, the Frenchman continued: "We could lose to them but then what? There is nothing (for them); there will be no trophy, nothing.

"Arsenal are a great club but it has been five years since they won anything and that for me is a crisis."

One thing that should happen after these comments is that Arsene Wenger makes his players fully aware of them. He should tell his players to prove Evra wrong by going to Old Trafford and getting three points.

Then, the Gunners should use this as a platform for the rest of the season. They should aim to look back at these comments by Evra and be able to quash them with trophies. That needs to be the motivation.

In the public eye, Wenger refused to react too much to his countryman’s claims. He said:"We do not want to go into any unneeded talking before a game like that.

"We want to focus on the way we want to play and ignore any provocation."

Behind closed doors though, Spread Betting suggest that Wenger may well turn the comments into a positive motivation for his side. They are aware of the trophy drought and don’t need people telling them about it.

It is time; more than ever, that Arsenal do their talking on the pitch.

United war of words shows fear from Fergie's men

Sometimes, when players come out in public to slate upcoming opponents or state to anyone who cares enough to listen how unafraid they are of the task ahead of them, the impression it provides to football fans is precisely the opposite of what was probably intended, and the same applies to the potential consequences of such comments.

It would seem that this rule applies no more closely to a team than Manchester United, who seem to be doing all they can to prove, despite their apparent intentions, that they're not looking forward to facing Arsenal at Old Trafford on Monday night whilst also providing the Gunners with all the motivation they need to put on a decent display against the Red Devils, who are very narrow favourites right now on odds comparison sites.

Chris Smalling, a man who can't exactly call himself a United legend after mainly appearing in Cup competitions for the club since his arrival at Old Trafford, has revealed that Arsenal should feel "intimidated" ahead of their trip to the home of title-chasing United, who in all fairness hold a formidable record on home soil so far this season.

With Patrice Evra going slightly further in his bid to unsettle the Gunners by ridiculously stating that Arsenal is nothing more than a "football training centre" and, what's more, a side in "crisis" after such an extended trophy drought, it seems that whilst United are focusing upon instigating a war of words, Arsenal are quietly getting on with their match preparations and hopefully laughing off these comments as proof that Sir Alex Ferguson's men need to engage in psychological warfare in order to try to derail a side that has the potential to inflict a massive blow to their title hopes.

Arsenal will do all their talking on the pitch on Monday night and hopefully the faithful Gooners who make the trip up to Old Trafford will themselves be provided with plenty of ammunition to taunt the home fans as the Gunners upset the fixed odds in style.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Can return of Robin end Arsenal's profligacy?

Arsenal are clearly more than capable of creating dozens of chances per Premier League game but they have so far been incredibly wasteful in front of goal this season. If the Gunners are to be successful in their bid to win what would be their first piece of major silverware since the 2005 FA Cup, then they are going to need the services of a player who is able to tuck away the chances the team are creating, and many fans of the club believe that the man who can do that is no other than Robin van Persie.

OK, so Marouane Chamakh has been impressive for the Gunners since his arrival in North London, but it is clear that he is not a 30-goal-a-season striker, or at least not at the moment, which means that Arsenal need another goal scorer fit and firing on all cylinders to help ease the burden on him. Although Van Persie is not a natural finisher in the same way that Alan Shearer or Thierry Henry once were, he has always shown that he is capable of chipping in with his fair share of both goals and assists when healthy. Anyone who has put a Premier League bet on Arsenal willing the title will want him to stay injury free.

It is, however, this latter problem that has so far caused the Dutchman to fail to fulfil his undoubted potential, with Wenger once suggesting that his injuries prevent him from playing any more than one game each week. Although this seems no longer to be the case, the fact remains that Arsenal may not be able to continue to rely upon a man who has so far played almost no part in their relatively successful start to the season and the Premier League best odds reflect this.

However, if the striker can stay healthy, get some games under his belt, and chip in with his fair share of goals, Arsenal may just stand a chance of winning the Premier League this year.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Gunners look for a happy Christmas

Arsenal start December just two points off the top of the league, knowing they will face the two sides ahead of them in the next few weeks against Manchester United and Chelsea. As well as the Gunners’ Premier League title hopes, their Champions League hopes will also be determined this month. Arsenal will host Partizan Belgrade on the 8th, in a game they need to win if they are to progress in the tournament.

First up for Arsene Wenger's men will be Fulham this weekend at the Emirates. Mark Hughes' side have been unfortunate this season and are only a point above the relegation zone. The Cottagers bounced back from their heavy 4-1 defeat at the hands of Manchester City to earn a brave draw against Birmingham last weekend. The Premier League betting still suggests Arsenal should win though.

Wenger will be hoping for a confident display against Fulham as they head into massive games against Partizan and Manchester United in the following two matches. After their heartbreaking defeat to bitter rivals Spurs a few weeks ago, a surprising 2-0 defeat to Braga in the Champions League followed, handing the Gunners rare back-to-back defeats.

A nervy 4-2 win over Villa lifted morale last weekend and a comfortable 2-0 Carling Cup win against Wigan means Arsenal are still very much in the title race this season. Wenger has made it clear that he is confident in his squad’s ability to handle the pressure this season and end the club's six years without a trophy and the side are some people's Betfair Football tips to take the title.

The Frenchman told Arsenal TV Online: "We are in a strong position in every single competition - that means overall the attitude is right, the spirit of the squad is right. I am confident we have the necessary quality, so let's continue to improve."

This year could be Arsenal's best chance of ending Chelsea and Manchester United's domination in the league. The young squad has spent the past few years being labelled too inexperienced to win anything, a fair summation of things in hindsight. The squad looks to have matured this season and there is an aura surrounding Arsenal again.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Arsenal favourites for Carling Cup glory

Make no mistake about it, Arsenal are the overwhelming favourites to win their first piece of silverware since 2005 this season. They are in the semi-final of the Carling Cup and many free bets will be placed on them going all the way.

Arsene Wenger’s men enjoyed a relatively comfortable victory over Wigan on Tuesday night to book their place in the final four, with an Alcaraz own goal and a Nicklas Bendtner strike sealing a 2-0 win.

They will now face Ipswich in the semi-final after the Championship side surprisingly defeated West Bromwich Albion at Portman Road.

The tie will be played over two legs and although it won’t be easy, everyone is expecting Arsenal – who have fielded a stronger side in the Carling Cup this year – to come out on top. A one off match might be a different story, but over two legs, quality should prevail.

Should Arsenal make it to the final, it will be Premier League opposition that awaits them in the form on Birmingham City or West Ham. Both will be desperate to win some silverware, but again paypal betting pundits would have the Gunners down as favourites.

This is not only because of the superior talent they have on show, but in reality, nobody is more determined to win a trophy than Wenger right now. He is desperate to have something to show for his remarkable work at the club and a Carling Cup trophy will do just fine for him.

Perhaps it will lead to more success this season too. They say things come in threes, so Carling Cup, Premier League and Champions League for Arsenal? It would certainly make everyone forget the 5 seasons without a trophy!
First things first though, back to concentrating on the league before all focus goes on the two games with Ipswich.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Arsenal's away days confuse fans

Things aren't looking too bad for Arsene Wenger and his young Arsenal side at the moment. Still likely to qualify for the Champions League, in with a decent shout in the Carling Cup after last night's quarter-final win, handed a nice draw in the FA Cup, and level on points with second-place Chelsea in the Premier League, it's all looking fairly rosy for the Emirates outfit. However, Arsenal fans have been left scratching their heads this season as they contemplate their team's inability to perform well at home while excelling on their travels in the league.

Arsenal, who secured an impressive win at the weekend against Aston Villa, currently boast the league's best away record. They've managed to take 17 points from just eight clashes away from the Emirates but, surprisingly for a club that has traditionally taken full advantage of faithful home support while finding it tough away from home, especially in the north of the country, haven't experienced the same level of success on home turf and the Arsenal betting shows what kind of problems this could cause them.

West Brom, Newcastle, and Spurs have all managed to take three points from Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium, which raises the question of what is going wrong for them at home.

Psychological pressures have been laughed off by Wenger, but with the trophy-hungry Emirates crowd sometimes too quick to moan and groan when Arsenal overplay an attacking move, or a player fails to shoot when in a decent position, could it be that the younger Arsenal players can't cope with the lofty expectations that currently surround the Emirates?

No matter what the actual reason for their less than ideal home form, the Arsenal boss should at least be happy that his side seem to have banished the lack of physical strength and composure for the duration of a game that used to undo their efforts at grounds such as the Reebok and Ewood Park. Anyone who has placed a Premier League bet on the side knows they have to sort out there home form though.

If Wenger fails to inspire his side to home success and turn the Emirates back into the fortress it once felt like, Premier League glory won't be coming anywhere near North London for quite some time to come.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Ramsey and Lansbury look to kick on in the Championship

Arsenal youngsters Aaron Ramsey and Henri Lansbury will be playing regular football in the Championship over the next few weeks. They have joined Nottingham Forest and Norwich City respectively.

Ramsey suffered a horrific injury back in February against Stoke City and the loan spell will act as part of his recovery process. He will be at Forest until January and made his first appearance for the club in last night’s 1-0 defeat to Leicester City.

A statement on the Arsenal website read: “Everyone at Arsenal Football Club wishes Aaron the best of luck during his time with Nottingham Forest and we all look forward to seeing him once again in an Arsenal shirt in the New Year.”

It will certainly be good to see him in a pair of football boots again, pulling the strings in midfield. Perhaps he can work his way into the Arsenal team once he returns in the New Year.

As for Lansbury, he has already made a positive impression at Norwich. He played a very significant part in their 4-1 hammering of local rivals Ipswich Town on Sunday and it looks like he will get plenty of game time at Carrow Road.

The 20-year-old certainly enjoyed his time at Watford last season, so hopefully he will do the same this season at Norwich. He does have a great deal of talent and it is much better for him to be playing competitive football than sitting in the reserve side.

So Ramsey and Lansbury will be putting their efforts in away from the Emirates for the time being, but they will be back and raring to go before long as they look to force their way into Arsene Wenger’s first team plans.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Arsenal look to learn lessons from Eduardo

Whilst Aaron Ramsey is not at the same stage of his career that Eduardo was in, the similarities between their two injuries are otherwise very close. However, while Eduardo has failed to recover properly from his injury in the fact that he hasn't yet rediscovered the kind of form he had been showing before it occurred, Arsenal (who offer great value to win the league if you search for the best odds) are looking to pull out all the stops to ensure that the same does not happen to young Ramsey.

In a change of direction from Eduardo’s recovery, where he was thrown back in the deep end of English football, Ramsey will get a chance to find his feet in the lower tiers of the game at Nottingham Forest. With Championship football likely to ensure that Ramsey gets a sharp reminder of the physical side of the beautiful game, the youngster should have the perfect opportunity to show that he is still one of the most exciting prospects in English football.

Should Ramsey find top form whilst at Forest, fans of both Arsenal and Forest will be pleased to see the youngster getting back to the top of his game as the loan seems to satisfy both parties in the deal, especially with Forest and Arsenal both in need of a bit of extra help to help them upset the sports odds and get them to the top of their respective leagues.

However, if the youngster fails to return to the promising level of form he showed at Arsenal, then we may find that once again a promising footballer has seen his chances of succeeding in the top flight of English football eradicated by a horrific challenge that should have no place in the game.

Wenger lashes out, but are Real just sticking to the norm?

Arsene Wenger is a man who has made a habit of sharing his opinions with the English media in recent years, but his latest outburst against Real Madrid and, in particular, the tactics they employed against Ajax may have made Wenger a few more enemies than he would have wished.

Many top managers face the unwanted and potentially devastating scenario of having the threat of having a key player suspended in vital Champions League knock-out game, so Wenger's attack on Madrid may well be perceived by many as nothing but an attack on common sense in the game. After all, it's not like the move led to a massive upset in the Champions League betting.

With Real Madrid likely to lose out on a fair sum of money should they fail to win their next match in the competition, and the players in question sent off against Ajax for infringements that put no opposition players at risk, managers may be left scratching their heads at exactly what Wenger is moaning about, especially if the tactic is as widespread as many believe it is in the modern game.

However, if this is the case and teams are looking to manipulate the laws of the game to gain an unfair advantage, then perhaps UEFA are correct in choosing to charge Madrid and send out a warning to teams that states deliberate manipulation of the rules is not acceptable. Anyone looking to bet on Champions League winner in coming weeks should remember the players in question could still be banned.

Despite this, it remains to be seen how you can prove that a player has deliberately earned a red card or a booking, and others will argue that instead of rooting this kind of cheating out of the game, it could lead to more horror tackles where players make sure that their infringements do not go unpunished.

Whatever the result of this enquiry and the possible sanctions Madrid may face, the problem of cheating in football is not something that this one effort by UEFA is going to cut out.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Wenger’s Fab gamble backfires

Arsene Wenger knew he was taking a risk of Cesc Fabregas’ fitness when he named him in the starting line up for the Gunners Champions League clash away at Braga.

The Spanish International had complained of sore hamstrings and it was believed he would sit out the match in Portugal in order to be 100% for crucial upcoming league games.

In the end he was a surprise selection, despite other first teamers Robin Van Persie and Andrey Arshavin sitting out the game against the same opposition they beat 6-0 in the reverse fixture last September.

But those who followed the latest scores this week will be aware that the gamble backfired spectacularly and things quickly turned sour for Arsenal the moment Fabregas limped off midway through the second half.

A few minutes later Carlos Vela was brought down in the box but was bizarrely booked for diving instead. Then six minutes later Matheus ran onto a long ball and slotted clear to put the Portuguese side ahead.

With the Gunners pressing for an equaliser in stoppage time Matheus broke free again to seal a famous win for Braga and drag them back in contention in a group they looked dead and buried in a few weeks ago.

Arsenal must now win their final group game against Partisan to ensure progress and will have to do so without captain Fabregas, who now faces up to three weeks on the sidelines, missing vital Premier League games as well.

This is a double blow for Wenger as he knows his side need to bounce back in the league as well following their shock 3-2 North London derby defeat to Spurs on Saturday.

Those who plan to follow the live football scores this weekend should note that they head to Villa Park on Saturday without their inspirational skipper and know their Premier League and Champions League odds have taken a serious hit as a result.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Do Gunners lack the fight needed to win Premier League?

The sight of Arsene Wenger slamming a bottle of water to the ground in frustration (giving Pat Rice a soaking in the process) is perhaps one of the images of the weekend.

It was also the only sign of passion or fight emanating from the Arsenal camp in a game against Spurs they should never have lost. When the live score came in that the Gunners were 2-0 up, many thought the game was up, but they were wrong.

After two battling away wins at Wolves and Everton – results that caused many to tip the Gunners for the title – old flaws were once again exposed at home to their bitter rivals.

At half time everything was rosy and the players should have started the second half with a clear idea of what to do. The must have expected an early barrage from Tottenham who had to try and get an early goal to get back into the game.

Even after Bale’s strike the home side, with the array of attacking talent on offer, had no need to shrink into their shell like they did.

The belief they had gathered in the first period slowly seeped across to the opposition – both on the field and in the stands.

So much so that it was almost expected when Younes Kaboul beat two Arsenal players to the ball to head home the winner late on.

For Arsenal fans it is an all too familiar tale of raised – and then dashed - expectations. Wenger’s hugely talented squad get themselves into winning positions but when it comes to the crunch they appear to lack the fight, both physically and mentally, to go the extra yard.

What is the missing ingredient?

Well for me there appears to be a lack of leaders in the team, Cesc Fabregas apart. Sometimes you need players who can drag the team through difficult periods and make them believe in themselves.

The Live scores could well be reporting on an Arsenal win this weekend against Aston Villa, but until Wenger solves that problem the spectre of Adams,Viera, Henry and co will loom large over his underperforming squad.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Tale of two halves for Arsenal

Arsenal have worked extremely hard in recent weeks to prove that they are finally real title candidates this season after failing over the past few years largely as a result of inexperience and naivety, with Arsene Wenger's young side sometimes missing a crucial element of leadership. Hard-fought wins over Wolves away from home and Everton away from home seemed to prove that the home defeat at the hands of Newcastle prior to those games was a minor blip from which they did well to recover. However, on the evidence of the weekend's game against Spurs, it would seem that all the positive work performed so far this season has gone to waste.

The first half of the North London derby showcased Arsenal's silky skills and possession football brilliantly, with Spurs unable to break up the home side's play. Despite Rafael Van der Vaart and Gareth Bale forced into more defensive positions in an attempt to help out the Spurs defenders with the likes of Samir Nasri and Cesc Fabregas running riot, Arsenal were allowed the time and space within which to weave their magic and they perhaps should have scored more than the two goals they grabbed in the opening 45 minutes.

However, even those favouring the arsenal betting odds will admit that the second half saw naivety and sloppy play creep into Arsenal's style, with complacency allowing Spurs a foothold in the game. After Spurs' opener, Arsenal lost their heads and the sort of composure needed to win the title was entirely missing from their play. When Tottenham grabbed an equaliser, it seemed there was only one side capable of finding a winner.

With tough fixtures coming up against Aston Villa away from home, and a trip to Manchester United also on the horizon, Wenger may find that it's only the inconsistency shown by the other sides in the race for the title that prevents the arsenal odds of success falling behind irreparably over the Christmas period.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Van Persie risks Wenger wrath

Arsenal's injury-plagued Dutch striker Robin van Persie has risked the wrath of boss Arsene Wenger by publicly criticising the Arsenal manager for ignoring his advice to snap up Rafael van der Vaart in the summer.

Van der Vaart did, of course, decide to make the move to North London after being deemed surplus to requirements at Real Madrid, but Spurs were the lucky side that ended up securing his services.

This hasn't gone down well with Van Persie, who has been quoted in the Sun as saying that his "advice was not followed" despite the player making it clear how talented and consistent his Dutch teammate is. The Arsenal odds suggest the club are still in with a chance of winning the title, but clearly the striker thinks things would have gone better with Van der Vaart.

Although every player is entitled to his own opinion, the decision from Van Persie to question the decisions of his manager publicly is a risky move.

Wenger hasn't taken kindly in the past to players deeming themselves bigger than the club, and that's exactly what these comments seem to hint at. Of course Van der Vaart has helped Tottenham defy the Champions League odds this season, but should Van Persie be rubbing his manager's nose in it?

With a couple of high-profile names finding themselves on a fast train away from North London after making similarly ill-judged comments, either in private or in public, Van Persie may yet live to regret his decision to speak out on the issue.
This is particularly the case when you bear in mind the lack of first team action the striker has experienced over the last couple of years.

Whether Wenger, always so watchful of Arsenal's finances, will be content to continue to pay the striker's wages as he fails to recover from persistent injuries and even risks becoming a disruptive influence on the bench, is a question that the Dutchman may not like the answer to.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Almunia out of Arsenal?

Manuel Almunia has always had a strong bond with the Arsenal faithful, who have consistently backed their calamity goalkeeper because of the few top class performances he has managed to put in for the Gunners.

However, with Lukasz Fabianski having displayed performances that have left his doubters beginning to wonder whether Arsene really does know in this instance, and young keeper Wojciech Szczesny proving that he's more than ready and willing to step in should the current Arsenal number one falter, the end could be nigh for Almunia.

With Wenger previously stating that he will not pick anyone based solely on their name and reputation, with only performances seeming to matter, it seems that Alumina will now need to outperform both Fabianski and Szczesny in training before hoping that one or both of them fail to perform for the Gunners in future games.

If this doesn't happened before January then it is likely Almunia will choose to leave the club rather than spend the prime years of his career warming a bench once again at the North London club and the football rumours reflect this.

Although fans of the club are proud to support those who remain loyal to it, as Almunia has done, they are also desperate to see their club emulate the success of former years and re-establish themselves as the top team in London. Arsenal were Andy Gray betting tips for the title this season, so they will have to push on.

If this means sacrificing a man who has shown his love of the club then Arsenal will need to see if they are prepared to follow the example of Chelsea, who ruthlessly sacked assistant coach Ray Wilkins once they deemed him surplus to requirements. If they are not willing to do so, they may find the ruthless nature of the Premier League leaves them failing to taste glory and secure silverware for the foreseeable future.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Koscielny more of a liability than Wenger would care to admit

The most faithful of Arsenal fans may have had to pinch themselves when the rumours started doing the rounds this week that Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is considering breaking the habit of a lifetime in order to splash the cash in a big way to secure the services of Borussia Dortmund centre-back Neven Subotic. However, few other football fans would have been in the slightest bit surprised, such is the worrying extent of Arsenal's woes in their back line.

It seems blindingly obvious to anyone who has watched Arsenal play this season that Wenger needs to set aside philosophy and the long-term "project" he's working on at the Emirates and bolster the Gunners' defence as quickly as possible. The need would not, perhaps, be so great had Arsenal been able to rely upon the talented and reliable Thomas Vermaelen. However, the 24-year-old has been ruled out for an indefinite period of time as his bid to return to full fitness after suffering an injury a couple of months ago suffered a severe knock.

With Vermaelen out of action, summer signing Laurent Koscielny has been thrust into first team action on far more of a regular basis than Wenger would have felt comfortable with before the season started. In fact, Koscielny seems to be the source of many of Arsenal's problems. Not only has he been sent off twice already this season but he has also been at fault for giving opponents clear sights at goal on more than one occasion.

Last weekend, the player's lack of experience was clear for all to see, with Andy Carroll taking advantage of the player's lack of pace, movement, and conviction by firing a header into the Arsenal net. The goal condemned the side to defeat in a match the Arsenal betting tips suggested they would win. Wenger would surely have expected more from a player he paid £8 million for.

For Arsenal fans, this new arrival has provided them with far too many worrying moments than is acceptable for a player plying his trade in the top league
If Arsenal are successful in their bid to attract Subotic, who has been instrumental in leading his side to the top of the Bundesliga this season and is thought to be a man in the mould of United stalwart Nemanja Vidic, Wenger won't have to rely upon players such as Koscielny who simply don't make the grade at the top level. If, however, their bid fails and their fine attacking efforts continue to be undermined by catastrophic individual errors in defence, Arsenal's miserable trophy drought won't be coming to an end any time soon.

Meanwhile, the Everton betting suggests the side are still on for a European spot despite a slow start to the season.

The side are currently 12th in the table, but are just two points off fifth.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Gunners struggling for Ukraine trip

Arsenal have been dealt a blow ahead of their tricky Champions League mission in the Ukraine as they have to embark on the game without their captain.

Cesc Fabregas has struggled with injuries all season, and a new hamstring problem means the Spanish playmaker will not be able to take part as the Gunners take on Ukrainian champions Shaktar Donetsk on Wednesday night.

Arsenal are currently the only team in Group H with a 100 per cent record and top the table. However, they are guaranteed a tough game at the Donbass Arena as Shaktar will look to seek revenge on their home turf after being thrashed 5-1 at the Emirates last time out in the Champions League. The Champions League promotions reflect this.

The prospects of the North London side look bleak without Fabregas, who Arsene Wenger said he "cannot take a gamble on", but it is worsened by the fact there are worries about three other midfielders.

Alex Song, Andrey Arshavin and Denilson all struggling and Wenger could be struggling in midfield as he stated all three need to be "assessed later".
"Alex Song has a problem with his calf which we will assess today, he has a chance not to travel," Wenger added.

"Arshavin has a problem and we might leave him at home and Denilson has a groin problem."

Despite the problems, the Champions League best odds still show the side have an excellent chance of progessing.

The other game in Group H sees Partizan Belgrade face Braga and the latter will be hoping to get a result as they could pull level in second place with Shaktar if Arsenal do them a favour, meaning they will have a great shot at getting into the Champions League knockout stages.

Walcott hungry for cup glory to breed league success

Here's a stat that might surprise you - Arsenal's talented young winger, Theo Walcott, has never won a piece of silverware since his career started.

He's still relatively young, although perhaps less so in the context of Arsenal's squad, but it seems like an age ago that Walcott burst on to the scene at Southampton, earning plaudits from far and wide and eventually signing a deal with Arsenal.

It is therefore unsurprising that Walcott is desperate to win the Carling Cup this season after Arsenal's bright start in the competition. Viewed by many as a meaningless trophy that only minnows in English football care about winning, the Carling Cup is high up on Walcott's list of priorities this season, with the winger believing in the mantra of success breeding success.

In all honesty, trophy-hungry Gunners fans would probably love to win the trophy, even if it was the only piece of silverware they secured all season. However, Walcott clearly believes that overcoming the hurdle of winning the first trophy could open the floodgates for more success. Anyone looking to place a Premier League free bet might want to remember this.

This is clearly a philosophy shared also by boss Arsene Wenger and, despite a few setbacks, his young team are still capable of winning the Premier League this year. Glory in the Carling Cup would boost their levels of self-belief which may not be as high as would be expected at a club the size of Arsenal. After all, the squad is full of young players who don't have the gritty experience of old campaigners such as John Terry and Frank Lampard. People looking to bet on Premier League winner should keep a close eye on Arsenal's form in the coming weeks.

With Arsenal set to welcome back a few familiar faces over the next few weeks, including Aaron Ramsey and Robin van Persie, this is a club with real ambitions. Don't take their hunger to win the Carling Cup as a sign that the Arsenal's expectations have slipped in recent months. It's exactly the opposite.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Arsenal step up title challenge

A great weekend for Arsene Wenger's boys saw the Gunners dismantle Manchester City at Eastlands, to take them up into second place in the league.

The day had started very well for the Arsenal, with City's Dedryck Boyata dismissed after just five minutes for a mistimed challenge on Marouane Chamakh. From that point on the game was an exercise in damage limitation for Mancini's side. It didn't take long for Arsenal to crack the City defence open, a clever one-two with Andrey Arshavin allowed Samir Nasri to smash the ball home, the lead should have been doubled just before half time were it not for Hart's goalkeeping heroics in saving Fabregas's penalty.

In truth, Arsenal had not quite hit their stride in the first half and not dominated as they should have. This was all to change after the interval, where the Gunners controlled the game in a master class in playing ten men. Song nicked a second on 66 minutes, and Bendtner sealed the three points on 88 minutes with a well taken finish. The victory was as much due to Wenger's tactics than anything else, and Mancini's £100 million squad barely had a look in. This wasn't because they played poorly, by any stretch of the imagination, but because when Arsenal turn on the class, on those days when it all just comes together for them, they are unstoppable. The football tips suggest they should be in with an excellent shout of winning the title this season.

The win takes Arsenal to second in the Premier League, equal on 17 points with both Manchester clubs, and five behind pace setters Chelsea, and will look to use Sunday's victory as a springboard for more points against Newcastle and in the derby against West Ham.

On the down side it seems that Thomas Vermaelen will be out for longer than expected, maybe even months, and with a long injury list including Van Persie, Ramsey, Koscielny, Almunia and Frimpong, Arsene will be praying he doesn't take on any more casualties with the tough run coming up at the back end of November and into December, including ties with Tottenham, Villa and Manchester United.

If Arsenal can manage to maintain the kind of form which so comprehensively swept aside City, they could finally put together a decent title challenge this season.
Meanwhile, the Everton v Arsenal betting suggests the Gunners can pick up another three points when the clubs meet in a few weeks' time.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Crisis averted at Gunners

Arsenal have rediscovered some confidence and that is key as they look to battle for the Premier League title this season.

That is the view of Arsene Wenger, who looks to have turned around the mini crisis at the Emirates after successive defeats to West Brom and Chelsea. Victories over Birmingham and then Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League on Tuesday seem to have put their season back on track, and the odds on Premier League winner reflect this.

Arsenal sit in third place in the table, five points behind leaders Chelsea, and face another tough test of their Premier League title credentials when they travel to face big-spending Manchester City at Eastlands on Sunday in what the weekend Premier League betting suggests will be a close run thing.

The Gunners have not beaten City in their last three meetings, and just over 12 months ago they were destroyed 4-2 in Manchester - but at least come Sunday they will have had more rest time as their opponents play in the Europa League on Thursday night.

Wenger claims there is a "good team attitude" throughout his Arsenal side and he feels their season is not back on track.

"We have won our last two games now and that is important because we go into the Manchester City game with a good level of confidence and with some certainties in the way we want to behave," he added.

Arsenal's goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski has outlined the importance of Sunday's clash.
The Pole has admitted the City clash is a "massive game" that the Gunners "have to win" if they wish to win the Premier League title this season.

Wenger weighs up keeper options

Lukasz Fabianski will be hoping he has done enough over the previous four games, to have not only convinced his manager that he deserves to be ahead of the injured Manuel Almunia, but also prove to Wenger he can stop looking for a new keeper altogether. Fabianski has done his case no harm with a impressive performances against Partizan Belgrade, Birmingham and more recently Shakhtar Donetsk.

The Polish stopper is enjoying his time in the first team saying, "I've had a small run of four matches now and I think I'm pretty confident on the pitch now. I think it's always good for a keeper that he plays regularly and hopefully I can continue improving."

Football Betting pundits note how it remains to be seen whether Wenger has been fully convinced by Fabianski’s first team credentials and the Frenchman will probably be still keeping his options open in regards to his number one. Out of favour Manchester City keeper Shay Given has been linked with a January move to the Emirates as has Ajax’s Maarten Steklenburg.

With every other aspect of Arsenal’s team looking strong, Wenger will be desperate to finaly cure his long standing goalkeeping issue once and for all. As it is though Fabianski still has time to continue to attempt to prove his worth to Wenger.

After eight games gone so far this season, The Gunners find themselves in a decent place in the league and the Football odds believe they can mount a title challenge. Wenger’s men will face a stern test this upcoming weekend, when they travel to Eastlands to take on Manchester City. A win will be essential if Arsenal are going to be able to keep pace with the league front-runners.

Plenty left in Wenger's Arsenal

As any football fan, coach, or pundit will tell you, if you want to win the league, you must view it more like a marathon than a sprint and, as a result, it obviously helps to have some extra reserves in your locker. Any team playing well can look like potential champions, but the test truly begins when a side is ravaged with injury, tired, or playing poorly. These sections of a campaign - commonly referred to by optimistic fans and delusional managers as "blips" - often determine the title winner, and when consistency is the key to success, stamina is an essential component.

Luckily for Arsenal, the league's new directive which ensures that a team must pick from a squad of just 25 senior players, including eight home-grown talents, is absolutely ideal. Throughout his tenure as manager at Highbury, Wenger has been investing in youth and, more importantly, talented youth. Now that policy may have paid off. Despite the fact that Arsenal haven't won the league title since 2004, early football betting suggests this wait may well be coming to an end.

The definition of home-grown is "a player trained for three years under the age of 21 by a club in the English or Welsh professional system". This means Wenger's policy of bringing in Europe's brightest young talents at the age of sixteen means that they can come to fruition by the time their nineteenth birthday rolls round. This tactic means Nicklas Bendtner, Gael Clichy, Denilson, Johan Djourou, Cesc Fabregas and Alex Song all qualify as home-grown, despite not having a British passport between them.

Cynics have criticised Arsenal for this approach. After all, the rule was introduced in an attempt to increase the number of Premier League players eligible to play for the England squad – but what loyalty should Wenger have towards the FA or even England supporters? His only priorities should be the Arsenal fans and his own legacy at Highbury - there is no room for sentiment when the price of failure can be so high.

Wenger's approach may not be everyone's cup of tea, but loopholes are there to be jumped through and he's certainly doing well, the football predictions hint the side will also challenge for the Champions League. As long as what he is doing is within the Premier League's rules then he is simply doing his best for his club and their bid to bring the title back to North London - and many believe that this year might just be his year.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Ramsey's training puts a smile on Wenger's face

When Aaron Ramsey suffered a horrific double leg fracture after a robust tackle from Ryan Shawcross at the Britannia stadium last season, some fans feared that would be the last Arsenal would see of the talented young man. However, having now returned to training with the Arsenal squad supporters will not need to wait too much longer before seeing their young Welshman take his place back where he belongs in the Arsenal midfield.

With this in mind, Arsenal will once again be close to their full complement of midfield players, something that fans will hope substantially increases the Gunners' chances of winning the Premier League. Despite Ramsey still needing to show that he can overcome the mental scars he will undoubtedly have when he throws himself into his first challenge upon his return, Gunners fans will be hopeful that the resilient youngster can overcome the odds and make a successful comeback from a career-threatening injury, even if former striker Eduardo fail to find anything near top form again after his horror injury. People who bet on Premier League games should bear this in mind.

If Ramsey can complete his recovery, Wenger will have a player who is capable of joining youngster Jack Wilshere as a leading light for the future of Arsenal and anyone who has placed a Premier League bet on the side will be hoping this happens. With these two potentially working in partnership for the next decade or so, Arsenal fans will no doubt be joining the manager in displaying a broad smile as they continue to watch their young squad develop, especially if Ramsey and Wilshere can work in tandem to bring trophies to the Emirates stadium.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Arsenal start set to secure knockout football

Although fans of the Gunners have watched their side endure a fairly disappointing start to the new Premier League season, they have been able to sit back and enjoy the football that their side has been playing in the Champions League so far this campaign.

Despite Arsenal being handed what Champions league betting pundits describe as a deceptively tricky group (with journeys necessitated far and wide across Europe), the Gunners have so far been able to show the kind of class that has seen them establish themselves as one of the top teams in the competition in recent years.

However, despite being widely regarded as one of the best technical teams in the competition, few experts believe that the Gunners are likely to be lifting the trophy come next May. One of the key reasons for this lack of faith was clear for all to see in Arsenal's recent clash with London rivals Chelsea in their latest Premier League fixture. With the Gunners once again failing to earn a victory against a top Premier League rival, they are likely to once more come unstuck should they happen to encounter one of their domestic rivals in European competition, after failing to overcome Chelsea, Manchester United and Liverpool in the knockout stages in recent years.

Whilst manager Arsene Wenger can correctly claim that his young squad is improving, it is clear that a growing impatience amongst the Arsenal faithful is likely to mean that this season will be the last one during which Wenger can continue to protect his side against criticism from their own fans who are so impatient to see the first piece of major silverware arrive at the Emirates.

Should, however, Wenger be able to overcome the Champions League odds and bring the trophy to Arsenal for the first time, then he will have finally confirmed himself as the Gunners' greatest ever manager.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Gunners' injury crisis starting to improve

Arsenal's bid to win the Premier League title is set to be boosted in the coming weeks by the return to fitness of a number of key players.

In their last game, a defeat to Premier League rivals Chelsea, manager Arsene Wenger had to do without Cesc Fabregas, Manuel Almunia, Keiran Gibbs, Thomas Vermaelen, Nicklas Bendtner, Aaron Ramsey, Theo Walcott and Robin van Persie. People who bet on Premier League games should bear this in mind over the coming weeks.

The loss of that many players would hit any side hard, and their struggles have been evident as they current sit seven points adrift of leaders Chelsea and were beaten at home by West Brom before the Stamford Bridge clash.

After the international break, Arsenal face Birmingham, Shaktar and Manchester City in the space of eight days as they enter a crucial part of their season.

Luckily for Wenger however, it looks like their injury crisis is set to improve as a number of players are getting close to recovery, including long-term victim Ramsey who has been out since February.

Danish striker Bendtner has not played at all this season, but has declared he is "ready to train" and will be back in the next few weeks, while the best news for Gunners fans will be the return of fit-again Fabregas.

The Spanish captain has not played since he injured his hamstring against Sunderland on September 18th. Fabregas has declared himself fit and is looking to return to the first-team to face Birmingham, a match the Premier League predictions suggest the Gunner should win.

Finally, England winger Walcott, who has been out since the start of September, is making good progress recovering from a badly sprained ankle. He is not looking to rush back for the Birmingham game, but instead has his eyes set on the clash with Premier League title wannabes Manchester City on October 24th.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Do the Gunners already have a Fabregas replacement?

Although Arsenal fans would love to see Cesc Fabregas spend the rest of his career at the North London club, most Gooners are realistic enough to accept that he will soon be leaving to return to his boyhood team, Barcelona. Although this may appear to be a nightmarish situation that leaves Arsene Wenger deprived of the heartbeat of his team, Arsenal may in reality already have a tailor-made replacement primed and ready for action.

So far this season, young Jack Wilshere has clearly shown that his time on loan at Bolton has enabled him to develop tremendously as a player, with his cheeky back heel against Partizan Belgrade proving at his tender age that he is already capable of staying cool in the hottest of atmospheres, and on the evidence of his performances to date, Wenger will be able to stick to his policy of developing young talent and building the team around such players. The latest Champions League odds suggest they have a real shot at glory this season.

This approach would enable Wenger to put any cash raised through the sale of Fabregas towards the continuing development of youngsters at the club by continuing to improve Arsenal's scouting networks as well as ensuring that their training facilities are still top-notch and state of the art. If this happens they could look like Premier League best bets for some time to come.

Although Wilshere clearly needs more playing time at the top level and against the best players in club football, he is beginning to show that he is no longer just a young talent but instead a top man for his side, and perhaps for his country.

With Wilshire holding an English passport, Arsenal are finally able to show the widespread benefits of their aim to develop home grown talent rather than simply invest in foreign youngsters. However, with Wilshere only one of a number of youngsters currently being brought through at the club, Arsenal will also need to show that this new talent is capable of not just bringing joy to their manager but also to their fans by winning trophies.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Gunners set sights on Chelsea

Arsenal defender Bacary Sagna knows this weekend's clash with Chelsea is set to be a massive test of their Premier League title credentials, so he has called for his colleagues to step up at Stamford Bridge.

The Gunners currently trail the early leaders by six points and will be looking to bounce back from their embarrassing home defeat to West Brom at the Emirates last weekend.

Both Chelsea and Arsenal recovered from losses in the league to win their Champions League ties on Tuesday, but now the focus switches to Sunday's game and Sagna has stated the tests keep coming for Arsene Wenger's side. The Premier League odds certainly suggest they're in for a tough time.

Arsenal have not won a trophy for five years, and have not had their hands on the Premier League trophy for six, so this season is a crunch one for their French manager. He knows fans may start to get disconcerted if success does not seem on the horizon.

Sagna pointed out "the season is long" and it is no time to panic, even if Arsenal lose to Chelsea and slip back even further in the Premier League title battle.
"Now we need to stay focused and look forward to the next game, and we have to make something at Chelsea. We have to play our football," the Frenchman said.

"We know we have the quality to beat them. It will be an open game, but it will be about us, not them."

It remains to be seen if Manuel Almunia will be able to play against Chelsea, after he picked up an elbow injury in the West Brom game and missed the Champions League win over Partizan Belgrade in a result which was reflected in the football odds.

If the Spaniard fails to recover then Lukasz Fabianski will play in net. The Pole has been much derided for a host of gaffes but was praised by Wenger after the win in Serbia. However many Arsenal fans are still not convinced and will worry if he is likely to drop a clanger in a game that could in the end decide their Premier League title fate.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Nasri blossoms

Samir Nasri again showed his quality by scoring his fourth goal in two games. However, Nasri's brace was in vain as Arsenal suffered a rare home loss to West Bromwich Albion. Although the Frenchman's goals came too late for the Gunners as they lost 3-2, it was confirmation of what a exciting player Arsenal have on their hands.

Since signing from Marseilles two years ago, Nasri hasn't really found the form that gained him the tag of the next Zidane during his time in France. With Cesc Fabregas struggling with fitness at the beginning of the season, Nasri showed Wenger his ability in the middle of the park. With Fabregas returning to the first team, Nasri has proven he can play in the same midfield as his captain. The latest Premier League odds suggest Arsenal should bounce back from the defeat, and Nasri will be a big part of that.

One of the reasons Nasri has taken so long to settle in this Arsenal team could be a confidence issue. At Marseille, Nasri was a big fish in a smal pond, at the Emirates he's just another player, albeit it a skilful one. With the amount of midfield quality Arsene Wenger has at his disposal, Nasri previously found it hard to consistently stay in the first team. This season Wenger has seen the results when he perseveres with the 23-year-old.

Despite Wenger's public claims that Fabregas is committed to the Arsenal cause for the long term, it's highly likely that Arsenal's captain will be Barcelona bound come next summer. In Nasri, Wenger has a ready-made replacement.

Meanwhile, the Champions League betting prediction suggest Arsenal should pick up another three points this week.

They face Partizan Belgrade away, and although it will be a tough tie the Gunners will be confident of getting a win.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Wenger calls for concentration

Arsene Wenger insists he is not getting carried away with Arsenal's current form, as he demands concentration as his side look to win their first Premier League title since 2004.

The French manager knows he must bring trophies to the Emirates soon, as it has been five years since they last won silverware and six since they last paraded the Premier League trophy in front of their fans.

They have had a strong start to the season, after drawing their opening league game against Liverpool they have gone on an unbeaten run in all competitions and scored ten goals in their last two games.

A 4-1 win over Bolton was followed by a 6-0 thrashing of Braga in the Champions League, but Wenger is not getting too confident about his side's chances of glory this season as he knows they could come unstuck at any time, even if the Champions League betting suggest they are in with a chance of success.

Over the last few season it has been Arsenal's inability to beat some of the so-called lesser teams that has seen them fall short in the Premier League title battle, so this weekend's trip to play Sunderland is vital if they want to keep up with leader s Chelsea.

Wenger said: "It is the start of the season and I think it is important that we take encouragement from what we are doing at the moment.

"We will keep our feet on the ground and a good concentration. We have another big test now at Sunderland on Saturday."

The Premier League betting suggests the side can win the title, but Arsenal are currently without some key players through injury and they need to ensure they do not lose ground in the title race as a result. Their attacking potential has to be hampered though by the fact both Theo Walcott and Robin van Persie are missing for at least the next month.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Has Arsene's stubbornness already sounded the death knell for Arsenal’s season?

Having started the season brightly, it may seem premature to suggest that Arsenal are already out of the title race, but some fans would certainly argue the side are trying to win the league with only ten players.

Although this is an obvious exaggeration, many Gooners will feel the decision not to sign a goalkeeper has effectively condemned Arsenal to yet another barren season at the Emirates.

Despite Manuel Almunia putting in a good performance in the recent tie at Blackburn, few would suggest the Spaniard can perform at the highest level consistently enough to wear the shirt that legends such as Bob Wilson and David Seaman once pulled on.

Although Arsenal will probably continue to their ruthlessness in front of goal, they will need to show a level of potency they have failed to achieve over the past few seasons if they are to be successful in overcoming the inadequacies of their goalkeeper. Anyone who places a bet on football games will be aware of Almunia's habit of dropping a costly clanger.

With Wenger having recently signed a contract extension at the club showing that Arsenal have full faith in his ability, it may be the case that Arsenal fans may not have the same level of patience that allows the Arsenal boss to continue to endure a distinct lack of success. I don't think anyone would make them their FA Cup betting prediction this season.

Should success fail to arrive at the Emirates, pundits may well pinpoint Wenger's stubborn refusal to accept his squad's limitations as the straw that broke the camel's back and caused Arsenal fans finally to reject the mantra that Wenger's early success generated: "In Arsene we trust".

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Can Arsene finally get the cherry on top?

"Arsene Wenger's magic, he wears a magic hat, and when he saw the Champions League he said 'I fancy that,'" is a chant often heard coming from the fans at the Emirates on European nights. However, so far, the closest Wenger has come to winning the famous trophy with Arsenal was back in 2006 when his side finished as runners-up to the mighty Barcelona.

This season, Wenger's side has made a promising start to their domestic campaign, emerging from a tough trip away at Blackburn Rovers with all three points, and Wenger has suggested that his Arsenal players are now ready to make the step up into Europe's elite, even if the Champions League betting odds make them outsiders.

Of course, the side isn't without its problems. The squad still looks thin at the back, while captain Cesc Fabregas had his head turned by Barcelona this summer and main striker Robin van Persie is already injured. From the outside, it would seem Arsenal cannot claim they have a squad stronger than the one that received a footballing lesson from Barcelona last season.

However, with Wenger having shown himself capable of getting the best out of his squad, and with the young Arsenal players continuing to improve every year, Arsenal fans will still believe that their side is fully capable of overcoming the Champions League betting odds and triumphing in the competition.

With rivals Tottenham Hotspur taking part in the Champions League for the first time, Arsenal have additional motivation to get further than their North London rivals in the Champions League this season, and any failure to do so is likely to be greeted with anger by the Gunners fans.

However, supporters of Arsenal will take comfort from the fact the Carling Cup odds suggest Spurs are more likely to win that competition than taking Europe by storm.

And given the fact the two sides face each other in the next round of the League Cup, Arsene Wenger will have an excellent chance to dent Tottenham's trophy prospects.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Arsenal injury list lengthy but considered healthy by Wenger!

Arsene Wenger used his pre-match press conference to suggest that he believes Arsenal currently have a good bill of health when it comes to their first team.

However, with the club's current injury list containing Johan Djorou, Nicklas Bendtner, Samir Nasri and Aaron Ramsey, it may finally be the case that Arsene Wenger has shown himself unable to perceive when a club has too many injury-prone players.

With the club having to endure the legacy of last season’s injuries, Wenger has often attempted to ignore the fact that his squad is one of the most injury-prone in history, let alone now.

With the absence of key players for huge chunks of last season - particularly Robin van Persie and Cesc Fabregas, who are both key factors in determining whether the Gunners stand a chance of achieving success - it is almost up for investigation as to what Arsenal do (or don’t do) at their London Colney training ground.

In light of the fact that new signing Sebastien Squillaci spent a large proportion of last season on the sidelines recovering from injury, and the Gunners having little other defensive cover to speak of, it is perhaps telling that Arsenal are viewed as a club with a limited chance of winning the Premier League according to the football odds.

Whilst Wenger used to talk of seasons unbeaten, a season with no injury crisis might well be the thing that Arsenal fans will be calling for as they seek to re-establish themselves as top dogs in both the Premier League and in the capital. Unless this gets sorted, the football betting will not look good for them.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Can Arsene change?

Arsene Wenger is a manager who has shown himself to be a seasoned campaigner when it comes to English Premier League betting, bringing a new level of technical play to the Premier League and introducing diet and health requirements before many other managers had understood the benefits of such an approach. Yet as Arsene grows older, is it the case that he has grown increasingly resistant to any form of change?

Despite enduring his longest time at Arsenal without winning a major trophy, Wenger has maintained the support of the majority of Arsenal fans through his dedication to the principle of attractive football.

However, with supporters of the Gunners growing sick of witnessing the same defensive frailties and injury crises year after year, Wenger’s consistent refusal to go to his chequebook could well lead the team to another trophy-less season. That’s what some football odds are suggesting anyway.

With Wenger seemingly retaining faith in players such as Abu Diaby, a player seen by many fans of Arsenal as the epitome of Wenger’s refusal to strengthen the squad despite his consistently bad performances (that is when he manages to stay fit), even the boss himself has been forced to consider whether his young squad need more investment.

Yet, whilst this question is not a new one, with Arsenal fans suggesting the same thing over the last few seasons, it is finally being asked as to whether it is the team that needs to adapt or, if he cannot evolve his style, it is Wenger who needs to be changed.

With his side in need of a strong start to the season, and under more pressure than ever before from rival sides such as big spending Manchester City, Wenger is all too aware that he needs to find a winning formula and fast, even if that means changing his style.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Almunia refuses to play second fiddle

The penny seems to have dropped for Arsenal goalkeeper Manuel Almunia and he seems to be prepared to accept that Arsene Wenger wants another goalkeeper to help his side go for the Premier League title.

Wenger questioned the Spanish keeper during the summer and Lukasz Fabianski was given the nod in a number of pre-season games, but Almunia was given the spot for the opening Premier League match and will have been disappointed to see a David Ngog shot beat him at his near post to give Liverpool the lead.

The 33-year-old has made over 100 appearances for the Gunners but Wenger has been linked with Fulham goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer – who has handed in a transfer request at Craven Cottage.

According to the Daily Mirror, the Arsenal manager hopes to have a deal tied up in the next couple of days and Almunia has stated he wants to talk to Wenger about his future and he could leave the Emirates if Schwarzer is brought in. The side's Champions League betting odds certainly suggest they need a new stopper.

Almunia, who has split Arsenal fans during his time at the team, has stated he is "very happy" in North London and could not play for another team in the Premier League.

"If somebody comes in, I will have to talk about my future at Arsenal. That is it. I have to work and if one day I am not good for Arsenal, I will talk," the Spaniard said.
"But I am 33 years old and only have a few more years left in football. I would like to enjoy them. I am a keeper who enjoys playing."

It has been six years since Arsenal last won the Premier League title and their young winger Theo Walcott has said the team needs to develop a ruthless streak if they want to make the step-up and beat Chelsea and Manchester United to top spot this season. The football betting suggests they're in for a tough time though.

He has said that playing attractive football is "no longer enough" to guarantee success and a vein of aggression is needed among the Arsenal ranks if they want to win their first trophy in five years.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Wenger set for Arsenal stay

Arsene Wenger looks set to end his career at Arsenal after revealing he is on the verge of signing an extended contract.

His current deal is set to expire at the end of this season, but according to the Frenchman a new one will be signed any day now.

At the age of 60 it seems likely this contract will take him to the end of his days as a club manager, although he has previously hinted he'd like to go into international football at some point.

Speaking about the prospect of signing, he explained that he wants to demonstrate his loyalty to the club and its players.

"I have to show how much I believe in this team by showing my commitment. My situation will be sorted out very soon," he said.

The news will delight the fans who have remained loyal to Wenger throughout the last five trophyless years and who still believe he can add to his tally of 11 tournament wins at Arsenal. For my money, they should be seen as Premier League best bets this season.

He also seemed to indicate he is happy to stay at the club until they decide they no longer want him, although he is not getting any younger.

Wenger arguably has his best shot at winning the Premier League title in quite some time this season, but it will not be an easy task as the best football predictions will tell you.

Manchester United and Chelsea are still strong, while many expect Manchester City to emerge as real contenders this season.

Still, if they can get off to a good start with all the injuries they have, then anything should be possible.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Fabragas is staying with Arsenal

So after a summer of speculation, Cesc Fabragas has finally pledged himself to Arsenal... For now.

Given the noises that have been coming from all parties involved over the past few weeks, it's hardly the world's most shocking news. The Gunners were refusing to negotiate, the player was saying nothing and Barcelona seemed unwilling to submit a follow-up bid, instead relying on the Fabregas's international colleagues to unsettle him.

In the end, it was Arsenal who got their way and there's no doubt the fans will be delighted with the news and the latest football betting odds will reflect what a boost he gives the side.

Speaking about his decision, the midfielder said: "I am a professional and I fully understand that it is Arsenal's prerogative not to sell me.

"I owe a lot to the club, manager and the fans and I will respect their decision and will now concentrate on the new season ahead with Arsenal."

He added that he was "100 per cent focused" on his current club.

Of course, it's not a ringing endorsement of the side and it will have done nothing to dispel speculation that he is set to move on next summer.

However, with Fabregas staying put, Arsenal will have an excellent chance of ending their run of five years without a trophy. The latest Premier League odds suggest they're in with a chance.

Whether success in the Premier League will convince him to stay put for longer remains to be seen, but the Gunners will no doubt be pleased they have been able to hold on to him for as long as they have.

Now they just have to pray he stays free from injury for the whole season.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Defensive headache for Wenger

Arsene Wenger could be facing transfer heartache when it comes to his number one priority for a new defender before the transfer window closes.

The Arsenal boss has made reinforcing his defence a priority this summer as he looks to build a team capable of mounting a serious Premier League title challenge, and has so far brought in Laurent Koscielny from Lorient.

More defensive reinforcements were expected to arrive at the Emirates as Sol Campbell, William Gallas and Mikael Silvestre have all left the club this summer. The Premier League 2010/11 betting suggest Arsenal can challenge this season, but they will need to strengthen their backline.

His next target was reported to be experienced German international Per Mertesacker, who currently plays in his homeland for Werder Bremen.

The centre-half was thought to be Wenger's first choice to partner Thomas Vermaelen in the centre of defence for next season, despite the arrival of Koscielny, but the French manager may have to turn his attentions elsewhere.

Klaus Allofs, the general manager of Werder Bremen, has told the Bild newspaper the club have no intention of selling Mertesacker.

"I have already said on a couple of occasions that Per will be staying on at our club and will go on playing for Werder Bremen," he said.

"Nothing has changed with regard to this and neither Per nor his agent have come to us saying that they have received an offer."

With the Gunners' chances of landing Mertesacker seemingly over and only a fortnight to go until the Premier League season kicks-off then could Wenger turn his attentions to Emir Spahic in order to help the side justify their Champions League odds.

The Bosnian defender currently plays for Montpellier and the 29-year-old has claimed that Arsenal have been in touch with his current side and he hopes any transfer can be "completed soon".

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Is this the year that Arsene really knows best?

Five years since Arsenal last enjoyed a major trophy success and there is a growing feeling around the Emirates and those who bet on football that this might just be the season that Arsenal regain the Premier League crown they last secured back in the 2003/2004 ‘invincibles’ season.

Despite finishing 11 points behind eventual champions Chelsea, the young Gunners squad has grown a year older, and perhaps wiser, and looks to be a more mature team than the one left disappointed on too many occasions throughout last season.

Although Wenger has aimed to bring success to Arsenal by introducing players through the club’s youth set-up, it is clear that the Gunners are going to need to look outside the confines of North London in order to replace veteran defenders Sol Campbell and William Gallas adequately, with both players leaving the Emirates earlier this summer.

With the current online betting frontrunner to replace the pair rumoured to be Werder Bremen’s Per Mertesacker, the Gunners know that whoever comes in needs to be able to adapt quickly to the Gunners' style of play, and potentially the pace of the Premier League, if the side are to make themselves serious contenders for the Premier League crown.

Despite bookies placing the Gunners as 4th favourites behind perennial contenders Chelsea and Manchester United, as well as big spending Manchester City, former Gunner Mathieu Flamini has joined members of the current squad in suggesting that this could be the year that Arsenal finally regain the Premier League title.

With Wenger having only one year left on his current deal, he will surely be more determined than ever to see his youth policy come to fruition by defying the odds and bringing the Premier League to the Emirates for the first time.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Arsenal look to end drought

It’s been a long five years since Arsenal won any silverware. This could be the most important season in a long time for Arsene Wenger. Although Arsenal are widely regarded to be one of the most attractive teams in world football, trophies have failed to follow the plaudits. With Cesc Fabragas’s future far from clear, if Arsenal are to have any hope of keeping their best players they need to challenge for honours this season.

Those planning on betting premier league money on Arsenal should note that they will have one of the Premiership’s youngest squads this season. A lot of the young squad have been playing together for five years though through the youth set-up into the first team.

Wenger will be hoping that they will be able to challenge Chelsea, Manchester United and now Manchester City. With the quality of the youth set-up at the Emirates, Wenger very rarely spends heavily on players.

This summer has seen the arrival of Marouane Chamakh from Bordeaux on a free transfer. The arrival of the Moroccan striker meant that Eduardo was allowed to leave for Shakhtar Donesk.

The only other signing has been the capture of centre back Laurent Koscielny from FC Lorient. With Phillipe Senderos, Mikael Silvestre, William Gallas and Sol Campbell all leaving meaning defensive numbers are low.

If Arsenal are to challenge this season and if those betting championship medals will come their way are to be justified, Wenger may have to invest further on defensive options and a new keeper.

Manuel Almunia and Lukasz Fabianski both failed to inspire confidence between the sticks last season. This will be one of Wenger’s most important decisions.

Cesc Fabregas subject to more unsettling paper talk

Claims that Arsenal and Barcelona have reached a secret deal about the future of Cesc Fabrgeas appear to be a new low in the Spanish side's chase for the player.
According to El Mundo Deportivo discussions between the two parties are so far advanced the transfer could be concluded by the end of the week.

On the face of it, this seems to be the biggest load of rubbish to emerge yet. Arsenal have denied the player is for sale and recently even Barca players have admitted they don't expect Fabregas to join them this season.

However, given the fact that the newspaper also states the Spanish club is acting with "extreme discretion" and the side is convinced their showing any public interest in the player would weaken their negotiating position, the whole thing seems laughable.

It also looks like another desperate attempt to upset a player who was, and possibly still is, completely happy at his current club. The best odds for Premier League games suggest this season will be very competitive, and we need a settled squad.

If the story isn't a complete work of fiction, there are very few places this story could have come from and the most likely seems to be a Barcelona insider.
However, if they are as close to landing their man as they suggest, why would they blow their chances by making it public?

It could just be paper talk or, worse, it could be another attempt to prise Fabregas from London through fair means or foul.

After all, the club have already had their players angling with for his signature, so would it be too much of a surprise if they'd decide to use a newspaper too?

A few words in the right ear are all it would need to lead major headlines and get Cesc thinking, and, if the story turns out to be untrue, the unnamed source gets none of the flack.

The lastest football betting odds suggest that if the player does decide to leave, Barca will be his destination, but that doesn't mean he will go.

Of course, the story would be entirely true but I have a feeling Fabregas will still be an Arsenal player come the weekend.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Xavi gets involved in Fabregas transfer saga

Cesc Fabregas's potential move to Barcelona is not only the most boring transfer saga of the summer, it's also becoming one of the most sport's unsavoury episodes in some time.

Despite having been told on several occasions that the player is not for sale and Arsenal will not entertain any bids. They know that their premier league tournament odds will be affected if Fabregas leaves, but the Spanish giants have not gone away.

The latest face to join the fray is Barcelona midfielder Xavi, who has claimed it is "inevitable" that Fabregas will join his side sooner or later.

Speaking to the Daily Express he said: "If we don't manage to get his signature this season then Arsenal only really have him on loan for a year - because there is nothing they can do to stop him joining next summer."

Barcelona have not given up on signing the player this season, but they are willing to wait, Xavi added.

In response, most Arsenal fans would probably ask what on earth it has to do with him. Xavi doesn't hold the purse strings at Barcelona and it's doubtful he has any influence on the comings and goings there, so why stick his oar in?

From the outside it appears he has been enlisted by those in charge at Barca to increase the pressure both on Arsenal and Fabregas himself. If that's the case, it's a rather underhand thing to do.

Fabregas is more than capable of making up his own mind about things and Barca should accept this. They want him to improve their championship winning odds even further, but this is going to far.

These days, it's almost impossible to keep a player at a club against his will, so if he does want to leave he will.

However, Arsenal will no doubt hold out for what they consider an acceptable price so if Barca are serious about signing the player, maybe they should stop talking about it in the press and get round to submitting a bid which reflects Fabregas's value to his current club.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Fabregas saga to run and run

There is no doubting which transfer story has dominated the paper’s back pages and Premier League Betting articles this summer.

Barcelona’s relentless chase of Cesc Fabregas has been in every newspaper for the last few months. And now the World Cup has finished the stories have started coming even faster than before.

Barcelona have declared their intentions, on numerous occasions, to sign the Arsenal skipper and just about every member of their squad has spoken about their desire to have Fabregas back on board in Catalonia.

The former Barcelona trainee has kept a dignified silence about the whole affair, but the very fact he has refused to come out and pledge his future to the Gunners speaks volumes.

He appears keen on a switch back to Spain and Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola is desperate to get him on board. Arsenal and Arsene Wenger are digging their heels in though.

The Gunners boss says it’s not a matter of money, he just wants Fabregas to stay due to football reasons. Premier League and FA Cup outright betting are more likely to back Arsenal for success with Fabregas on board, after all.

And he’s confident he can convince the 23-year-old that his future is in London. Just how the scenario will pan out remains to be seen.

The decision is ultimately down to the player, because even if Arsenal rebuffs Barcelona’s advances, if Fabregas wants to leave he could ultimately refuse to play for Wenger.

That would then force the hand of Wenger and Arsenal and leave them little option but to cash in on the player they have nurtured for the last seven years.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

A big summer at the Emirates

Arsenal fans will be watching a new-look defence season, it seems.

Arsene Wenger moved last week to complete the signing of French defender Laurent Koscielny and there are a number of other possible transfer targets being linked to the club.

The goalkeeping position is still not sorted, with speculation that Mark Schwarzer could be arriving for £4 million in the near future, while the likes of Udinese defender Cristian Zapata look likely additions.

The 'will he-won't he' move of Cesc Fabregas to Barcelona is still dominating the headlines, but it does seem like Wenger is busy planning and overhauling his squad so they can go for the Premier League title next season.

New defenders are definitely going to be needed at the Emirates next season as it seems increasingly likely that William Gallas, Sol Campbell and Mikael Silvestre will all be on the move, while Phillipe Senderos made the switch to Fulham earlier in the summer.

According to Zapata's agent, the defender is keen to join the Arsenal revolution.

Speaking to calciomercato.com, Massimo Italiano said "It's nice to hear that Arsenal are interested in the player. For several years now, Zapata has been linked to prestigious clubs and that means that he is doing things well.

"He is happy at Udinese but like any other player, he wants to improve and grow. If an offer from a big club arrives, then it will be taken into consideration."

However, with the Champions League betting suggesting Arsenal face a tough qualifying round, the manager will want to make sure his new signings are in place soon.

While Wenger looks to add to his squad, it is also looking likely that a few of Arsenal's younger players could be heading out on loan again.

Owen Coyle has repeated that he wants Jack Wilshere at Bolton, while Leicester and Nottinhgam Forest are leading the chase to get Jay Simpson for next season.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Cesc Fabregas in a Barcelona shirt? Yes, but don't panic

It's a sight no Arsenal fan wanted to see - Cesc Fabregas in a Barcelona shirt, but is a prank by his team-mates really the shape of things to come?

One thing is for sure, as Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique forced the top over his head, Fabregas looked like the most uncomfortable man on the planet. There was a smile on his face and he knew it was a joke, but he was obviously aware of how it would play in certain sections of the media.

But for now, it seems like nothing more than two team-mates enjoying themselves at the expense of another - after all, Fabregas has also dedicated the win to Arsenal fans and players, so he clearly loves the club. Personally, I wouldn't bet on the Premier League losing one its leading stars any time soon.

Whether this will prove to be a parting gift remains to be seen, but it seems that Fabregas did get a taste what joining Barcelona would be like during the World Cup, and it may not have been entirely pleasant.

Admittedly, there was clearly a great spirit in the camp and everyone played their parts when called on. However, Fabregas spent most of his time on the bench while the core of the existing Barca side went about their work. There's no reason to think things would be any different if he moved back to Spain.

Of course, it did have a happy ending as Fabregas came off the bench to set up the goal that secured the trophy for Spain, and that'll mean a lot to him.

It's clear that if winning trophies is his main aim, it's something he'll be able to do at Barcelona. However, it remains to be seen if he'd be willing to drop from club captain to bit part player in order to do so. And besides, the latest Premier League odds suggest Arsenal will be in with a chance of winning the title this season.

For now, if he wants to be a key part of a side which is constantly challenging for silverware and develop as a player at the same time, staying put seems to be his best option.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Vermaelen: Arsenal can win the Premier League

Arsenal will only need a little bit of luck to win the Premier League title next season, according to defender Thomas Vermaelen.

The Belgian arrived at the Emirates from Ajax last summer and played 33 times for an Arsenal side which was in the hunt for first place until the final weeks, when they tailed off and finished behind Manchester United and eventual winners Chelsea.

Another campaign without a trophy means it is five years since Arsenal have tasted success, but the £10 million man reckons it could all change next season.

Manager Arsene Wenger has been scouring the globe for new players. He has already signed Moroccan striker Marouane Chamakh and splashed out a reported £8.5 million for defender Laurent Koscielny.

Arsenal struggled with a thin squad as injuries hit key players at critical times last season, but Vermaelen thinks it people stay fit then the side can mount a serious and sustained challenge for the Premier League title.

"We have to continue what we have been doing, we are working hard. I am convinced that next year we can win trophies with this team," the 24-year-old said.

"We had a lot of injuries, and if we can all be fit for a long time next season, it will be a good year for us."

The Premier League title odds certainly suggest the side are in with a chance of claiming some silverware.

However, Arsenal could be forced to start this season with one player out injured.
Striker Nicklas Bendtner has admitted he is still struggling with a long-term groin problem and he faces a race to be fit.

The problem kept him out of key stages of the Premier League battle last season after he underwent an operation, and it also affected him in South Africa, where Denmark failed to live up to their billing in the 2010 World Cup odds.

Bendtner is due to have a scan at Arsenal when he returns from holiday but it does not look good as he has confessed he can "still feel pain" from the affected area.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Walcott knows fitness is the key

Theo Walcott has made it perfectly clear what he needs to do to get his career back on track – stay fit for an entire season.

As was highly publicised at the time, Walcott missed out on the England 2010 World Cup Finals quad and this was down in no small part to how much his form was affected by several injury lay-offs during the Premier League season.

After England’s disastourous tournament though, Walcott has another chance to really make his mark. During a season where young English players are going to be looked at closely, he has a chance to show why he is a major part of the national team’s future.

As mentioned though, a lot does depend on his fitness throughout the season. Speaking about his aims for the season he says that an ‘injury-free season’ is his first target.

He then said that he wants to ‘give more to the fans this year’ in terms of his own personal form and the team as a whole. As Walcott states, the players ‘want to win something now’ after a few years in the trophy wilderness.

Walcott is only 21-years-old and he is still expected to have a blossoming career with club and country. He just needs that one season where everything kicks into place. Hopefully, the 2010 / 2011 campaign can be just that.

Elsewhere, with the World Cup quarter-finals going on over the next couple of days, it is worth starting to think about World cup semi final betting with the tournament reaching the business end.