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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Arshavin praying for a Premier League miracle

Arsenal star Andrey Arshavin has admitted that his side might need a little bit of luck if they are to challenge for the Premier League title this season.

The Gunners have suffered with injuries all term and the problems affecting Robin van Persie and Nicklas Bendtner recently prompted Arsene Wenger to admit he may need to sign a new striker during the January transfer window.

Arshavin claims Wenger is unlikely to add to his current squad at the Emirates even though the Russian himself has been playing with a foot injury in recent weeks.

The 28-year-old Russian has said winning a title such as the Premier League or Champions League with Arsenal is his "greatest dream", but admitted he has reservations about the chances of it happening this season.

"To do this we need a miracle - which is to start playing finally with our best line-up! I do not think we have had it once so far this season," said Arshavin.

Speaking about his own injury problems, he added: "Although my right foot hurts me much less than before, I still try to avoid kicking the ball with it during training."

One good bit of news for Arsenal is that captain Cesc Fabregas claims he has fully recovered from his hamstring problem and should be able to feature in the Gunners' next Premier League game against Bolton.

If Fabregas can stay fit, this should provide a boost to Arsenal's Premier League chances.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Premier League title race shaping up

This is shaping up to be the closest Premier League title race ever. There have been tight two-way battles for the trophy before, most notably when Manchester United and Blackburn Rovers entered the final day of the 1994/95 season with the title still up for grabs, but rarely have three teams entered the home straight with excellent chances of glory.

Three points separate the top three and I'm betting there will be a similar range covering Chelsea, Arsenal and United on 9th May. Even Manchester City cannot be ruled out, especially as they face United and the Gunners in April. One way or another, City will play a major part in deciding the destination of the title.

Much has been made of the inconsistency of the top three this term, but in truth this unpredictability has been confined to away matches - Chelsea (28 points from 30 at home), United (25) and Arsenal (25) all have decent home records in common, with slip-ups against Aston Villa by United, and Chelsea by Arsenal hardly major shocks.

So the title will be won on the road and it is fair to say each of the main challengers needs to improve on their travels. The Blues have found goals hard to come by, Arsenal have been too leaky in defence and United have simply been too easy to beat (four away defeats in 11).

The easiest of these problems to fix is Arsenal's. Rumours of defensive strengthening in the transfer market persist, but Arsene Wenger knows that the temporary loss of Alex Song can be more easily overcome than the Didier Drogba-shaped hole confronting Chelsea.

United cannot be written off, but they suddenly seem to have lost their edge, revealing an uncharacteristically soft underbelly that makes a fourth title seem unlikely. The Premiership is up for grabs, but can Arsenal grasp this opportunity? If they can, their 2010 FA Cup odds would seem to suggest that a double isn't out of the question.


Arsene Wenger has warned Arsenal's Barclays Premier League title bid will be "in danger" if they fail to produce their very best in every remaining game.

The Gunners missed the chance to put real pressure on leaders Chelsea, whose match was postponed, when they were forced to settle for a point after coming from behind to snatch a 2-2 draw against Everton at Emirates Stadium through a stoppage-time goal from substitute Tomas Rosicky.

Wenger accepts his team - without both impressive Cameroon midfielder Alex Song and injured captain Cesc Fabregas, who is expected to return from a hamstring problem at Bolton next weekend - did not produce the required standard in the face of a determined opposition.

However, after hauling themselves back into what looks set to be a thrilling conclusion to the title battle, with second-placed Manchester United also dropping points at Birmingham on Saturday, the Arsenal manager expects more consistency.

"Of course, I would have signed for that, to be this close in the race," said Wenger, whose side were some 11 points adrift following the comprehensive 3-0 home defeat to Chelsea at the end of November.

"But you could see from this match that every game is difficult and as soon as you drop your level a little bit, you are in danger.

"That is what happened to us.

"We did not find the speed in our passing to get Everton out of position, and they did very well."

Arsenal had their momentum disrupted somewhat by the midweek postponement of the home clash against Bolton, and failed to find much rhythm in what was their first match since the departure of Song for the African Nations Cup.

Wenger, though, expects his squad to adapt.

"I knew before Song left that he would be missed," said the Gunners boss.

"However, I do not want to draw a quick conclusion because too many players were off the pace.

"We struggled for a while when we lost [Robin] van Persie as well, so we have to find a new balance, new responsibilities, and a share of responsibilities in our game."

Leon Osman headed the visitors into a deserved lead on 12 minutes. However, the midfielder then deflected Denilson's shot past Tim Howard as the Gunners levelled before the break.

A magnificent breakaway goal by Steven Pienaar, finished with an audacious chip, looked to have won it for the visitors on 82 minutes, only for Rosicky to smash home from close range, his shot coming off defender Lucas Neill.

Prior to Rosicky's equaliser it could have been 3-1 when Everton pounced on a loose ball after Denilson fell to the ground clutching his side and released James Vaughan, but Manuel Almunia made a fine save.

Wenger revealed he had told the Brazilian, only just returned from a back problem, if the bizarre situation ever happened again he should try to stop play.

"I said to Denilson afterwards: 'If that happens to you have to commit a handball.' I'm very serious," the Arsenal manager said.

"If you go down, and there hasn't been a foul, you cannot ask Everton to stop their counter-attack and not to score.

"So, if you go down like that, at least put your hand on the ball and it's a free-kick."

Brazil midfielder Denilson, who is 22 next month, believes his injury is not too severe.

He said: "I don't remember what happened. I was just running with the ball and I felt a pain in my side. I couldn't run or stop the ball, but I feel okay now.

"I am going to have a scan and then I will know how long I will be injured, but I think I will be ready for Sunday [at Bolton]."

Denilson believes Arsenal are very much genuine title challengers.

He said: "The most important thing was that we didn't lose. We have one point, we keep the momentum going and we feel good.

"We have more experience this season and we are coming to win this trophy this season."

Wenger, meanwhile, will continue to keep an "open eye" on the transfer window.

He said: "If the right opportunities come up, we will do something, but at the moment I am still only looking." from - football365.com

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


Cesc Fabregas has reportedly been ruled out for another week with his hamstring injury and will miss Saturday's game with Everton.

The Arsenal captain has been out of action since aggravating the injury during his match-winning cameo against Aston Villa on December 27. Although Arsene Wenger has expressed his hope that the Spaniard would return to face the Toffees this weekend, The Times reports that he is still yet to resume training.

'Fabregas has not suffered a significant setback to the injury...although his recovery is taking longer than was expected,' the newspaper reports. 'The 22-year-old is targeting a comeback for Arsenal's trip to face Bolton Wanderers on January 17, when Theo Walcott may also return from a muscle strain.'

Arsenal will also have to do without Alex Song for their upcoming matches due to his African Cup of Nations commitments, but it's hoped that Denilson will be able to return for tomorrow night's meeting with Bolton.

The severity of Andrei Arshavin's foot injury remains unclear, but Nicklas Bendtner has reported he hopes to make his comeback by the end of the month. Both Gael Clichy and Tomas Rosicky could also be available in the near future having returned to training on Monday. from football365