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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.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

European attackers eyeing up North London

It is expected among many fans that a number of new faces could arrive at Arsenal this summer as Arsene Wenger looks to build a team that can win the Premier League title next season.

The Gunners pushed Chelsea and Manchester United close last season but ended up finishing third, and the absence of star striker Robin van Persie for a large period was a contributing factor.

In his absence, Nicklas Bendtner and Eduardo failed to impress, with at times even small Russian winger Andriy Arshavin being forced to play as a lone forward - which really did not work against bigger teams.

So Wenger could be on the lookout for striking reinforcements this summer and it is interesting to hear that two possible targets have both expressed a desire to come and play for the Gunners.

The French manager has already tied up a deal for Marouane Chamakh, but Nice striker Loic Remy would rather join him at the Emirates rather than take his place at Bordeaux. Neither player was called up to help France justify their World Cup 2010 odds, but this could be a plus point.

Remy told French newspaper L'Equipe that he loves the "atmosphere and stadiums" of the English Premier League and has Arsenal as his preferred destination.

Meanwhile over in Italy, 19-year-old Inter Milan striker Mario Balotelli has said he would be interested in a move to Arsenal, who are known to be long time admirers along with Manchester City.

The Italian Under-21 striker said: "I don't know if I will stay at Inter, we will see.

"I am happy that I am liked by Arsenal, because they are also a great team."

Whether either, both or neither of these strikers end up at Arsenal next season it looks obvious that Wenger is looking for quality to reinforce his side's Premier League title bid next season.

As it seems the manager has plugged one problem position in signing Laurent Koscielny from Lorient to partner Thomas Vermaelen in the centre of defence, so it remains to be seen whether up front could be the next area to be given his full attention.