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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Arsenal lead race to sign Southampton star

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger hopes to wrap up the signing of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain from Southampton before the close of the January transfer window.

The precocious 17-year-old is a target for Liverpool, Tottenham and Fulham but according to reports Oxlade-Chamberlain is keen on a move to the Emirates stadium and Wenger is eager to beat his rivals to the signature of the England Under-18 star. Wenger said: “We need an agreement with Southampton, we need an agreement with the player.”

“We are not the only ones on the case, but we try as hard as we can because I like him as a player." The Frenchman added.

Southampton boss Nigel Adkins is looking to hold on to the winger however, and may look to stop any move until the end of the season, but the Gunners remain the football betting favourites.

Oxlade-Chamberlain joined Southampton as a 7-year-old and is looking to follow in the footsteps of Theo Walcott and Gareth Bale, who were also members of Southampton’s youth system. He became the second youngest debutant for the club after Walcott last year and has caught the attention of Premier League clubs after some dazzling displays on the wing, scoring eight goals this season.

Wenger is looking to add to his squad ahead of the race to be crowned Champions this season. Arsenal currently sit just two points behind league leaders Manchester United and football bets will likely be placed on the Gunners pushing for their first trophy since 2005. A convincing 3-0 win against Wigan reinforced their title credentials, and Wenger will look to build upon the club’s reputation of spending their money wisely on promising young talent with a deal for Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Carling Cup could be vital for Arsenal

The Carling Cup might not seem like a big competition to many of the larger teams in the Premier League, but for Arsenal it could be used to turn a corner.

The Gunners are used to winning competitions and having silverware, however it is now six years since they have won a trophy and many Arsenal fans will see this year's Carling Cup as a great chance to stop the doubters from being able to rub that in their face again.

Ipswich won the first leg of the semi-final 1-0 but Arsene Wenger is likely to field a much stronger side for the return match at the Emirates and the away goals rule does not come into play until after extra-time.

While the Tractor Boys may be a much-altered side under Paul Jewell, now playing with confidence rather than fear like under Roy Keane, you would expect Arsenal to have too much strength at home and the Carling Cup final betting slips will no doubt feature their name.

The Gunners are still in the Premier League title race, but are some way behind Manchester United as the side people fancy to win the trophy, and are facing a tough baptism in the Champions League against Barcelona.

That means the FA Cup and the Carling Cup are the two prime opportunities for silverware for Wenger's side this season – so they need to go into this semi-final looking at it as a must-win game and anyone planning to bet on Carling Cup action should remember this.

If Arsenal get an early goals and play to a fast tempo they could blow away Ipswich and book themselves a date with either Birmingham or West Ham at Wembley, and these are both sides the Gunners have brushed aside with ease already this year.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Arsenal finally starting to hit top gear

After stuttering to a defeat and a draw against lower league opposition, Arsenal have come back with gusto to show their Premier League rivals they are still firmly in the hunt to end the season as champions.

With Wenger placing his side's key players back in the starting line up after dropping the likes of Nasri and Van Persie for his team's FA and Carling Cup ties, they Bendtner and Denilson that they will need to step up the level of their game if they are to press for a starting position in the Premier League on a weekly basis.
However, even though some people have questioned the commitment and passion of the sides put out in the Gunners' recent cup ties, few could question their desire to defeat West Ham and march onwards and upwards in the Premier League. If, and it is a big if, Robin van Persie can continue to display the kind of performance that he did against the Hammers, Arsenal may finally have worked themselves into a position that sees them possessing a top class striker in their ranks for the first time since Thierry Henry departed the club.

Add to this the fact that Arsenal now seem to have a Plan B, with the Gunners able to pop long balls into the box for Marouane Chamakh to compete for, and you can begin to see why Theo Walcott has suggested that the club's fans are finally starting to see the real Arsenal for the first time in years, even if it would take a brave man to bet on them to win the title this season.

Despite the confidence that Arsenal fans should have in their side at present, they will have to remember that they need to get some silverware before they know their side has finally ended its drawn out transition from the 'invincible' side to one that can once again compete at the top of the Premier League.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Upson not the right choice for Gunners

Matthew Upson is a player who is clearly a big star at his current club and one who has a wealth of Premier League experience under his belt, but having spent his career never quite reaching the levels that he was expected to achieve, he surely cannot be seen as the man whom Arsenal need to sign as a central defender to provide effective cover for Thomas Vermaelen, who now seems to be perpetually injured.

With Upson over the age of 30 and having not played Champions League football on a regular basis throughout his career, he is unlikely to be able to adapt to the different challenges that a move to the Gunners would bring. The football predictions suggested Arsenal would top their Champions League group, but defensive frailties didn't, and would Upson have really helped out? Compare this to Gary Cahill, who is still at the beginning of his career but also possesses Premier League experience and is a real star for his team, and you can begin to see who Arsenal should be looking at during the transfer window.

Despite this fact, Wenger has made a name for himself by being as frugal as possible, preferring never to splash the cash unless he feels he really has to, which leads most pundits to suggest that he is unlikely to start changing his philosophy now. However, with Wenger also a man who believes in investing in the future, he surely could put Cahill under this particular banner, even though he would also be expected to have a short-term impact at the club as well. With the football betting indicating the club could still blow their chances of landing a trophy this season, something needs to change and soon.

However, with the Gunners currently enduring a mini-crisis, there is only one thing that Wenger cannot deny and that is the fact that he needs to act now to solve his side's defensive frailties.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Bendtner claims Carling Cup can inspire Premier League success

Nicklas Bendtner reckons success in the Carling Cup would be a massive boost to Arsenal's bid to win the Premier League title.

The Danish striker is likely to play against Ipswich in the first leg of their Carling Cup semi-final at Portman Road on Wednesday night. That game will be Paul Jewell's first game in charge of the Tractor Boys and will have to inspire confidence as his new side went down 7-0 to Chelsea at the weekend.

Arsenal have endured an up-and-down campaign so far in the Premier League, while they have also failed to really impress in the Champions League and have the hard task of taking on Barcelona in the last 32, a game the football odds suggest will be very tough.

The Gunners have lost five games so far in the league, with three of those defeats coming at home, but thanks to the topsy-turvy nature of the Premier League so far they sit in third only four points behind the leaders Arsenal.

It has been six years since Arsenal last won a trophy and if they make it to the Carling Cup final they will face either of the league strugglers West Ham or Birmingham - and Bendtner reckons lifting the trophy at Wembley would springboard them to the Premier League title and anyone looking to bet on Premier League winner may want to bear this in mind.

"It would be fantastic to win a trophy early on in the season and have something to show for our work already," he said.

"Last season, Manchester United won it and went on to take the Premier League too. Let's hope we can do the same."

It is looking likely that Arsene Wenger is going to have to sign a new defender during the January transfer window. With Thomas Vermaellen struggling with a niggling Achilles problem and Sebastien Squalliaci out with a hamstring problem that leaves only Laurent Koscielny and Johan Djourou as recognised centre backs.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Can Arsenal Samba to victory?

Arsenal are not exactly renowned for their commanding centre backs and, in fact, might be viewed as not currently having a dominant central defender, with the one contender for that category, Thomas Vermaelen, out for the long term. However, could they be about to find a man who can create a defensive beat that can allow their creative men to dance to victory?

Christopher Samba is not exactly the typical player that Arsenal target in the transfer window, but Wenger is unlikely to forget the fact that his first title winning side in England was one that was supported by the old guard of George Graham, including the likes of Tony Adams, Steve Bould, and Lee Dixon. Although these players were not exactly naturally gifted going forwards, they were more than capable of supporting the more creative members of Wenger's team of the time, something that proved to be a recipe for success. Anyone who has placed a Premier League bet on Arsenal will be hoping they strengthen their backline.

If Wenger decides to splash the cash on Samba, then he knows he would be adding some real steel to a defence that has been questioned numerous times this season already for its lack of mettle. Add to this the fact that he would provide another dimension to Arsenal’s attacking options as he would be more than capable of chipping in with a few headed goals from set pieces and you can see why he could be a valuable addition. The Premier League best odds indicate Arsenal are in with a shout of winning the title, but they face some tough competition.

However, with Wenger a man who is very much set in his ways and insistent that he does not need to sign any reinforcements despite the fact that his side still looks a little too weak to win the title, the chances of Arsenal dancing to Samba's beat seem more remote than Gunners fans would like.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Barcelona target Samir Nasri

Barcelona have identified Samir Nasri as the ideal player to fit into the reigning champion’s side according to reports.

4-4-2 report that the club are chasing the in-form Frenchman after failing to capture his Spanish tem-mate Cesc Fabregas and sent representatives over the Christmas period to watch Nasri in action.

The club, who caused controversy recently by allowing a sponsor on the Barcelona shirt for the first time in their history, almost secured the signing of long term target Fabregas before the start of the season, before the Spanish international then opted to stay with the Gunners. While unlikely to sell, 23-year-old Nasri would command a fee of around £25 million.

The Catalan club are rumoured to be lining up another bid for Fabregas at the end of the season for around £45 million – although rivals Real Madrid have recently been linked with the midfielder. Barcelona are currently atop of La Liga, two points clear of Jose Mourinho’s side, as they look to retain their title.

Barcelona’s Lionel Messi and Real Madrid’s Christiano Ronaldo are locked in a battle for the right to be crowned top scorer in the league, and the addition of Fabregas or Nasri could see the balance tipped in Barcelona’s favour even more.

Arsenal miss out but can take heart

Last season Chelsea went to the Emirates and didn’t even bother with the pretence of sitting back and absorbing the pressure, they just went and thumped Arsenal.

However, this season, Arsene Wenger's players have not only beaten the Blues at the Emirates, but also stopped a side assembled at a cost of more than £200 million from having any shots on target, instead forcing them to sit back and waste eight minutes of time during the last 30 minutes of the game. Of course, few people made the visitors football betting tips to win that game, but they didn't expect them to be outplayed so comprehensively.

What this means is that Manchester City have emphatically confirmed what Wenger has been claiming for years, namely that Arsenal are a team which is now ready to compete for the title again. Although the end result was not exactly what Wenger and his side wanted, the fact remains that they will take a fair amount of confidence from being so utterly dominant against a side which is still likely to be fighting hard for the title come the end of the season and the football odds reflect this.

Add to this confidence the performances of the likes of Walcott and Djourou and you can even begin to claim that Arsenal are starting to see their former fringe players come to the fore, something that a team looking to compete for the title simply needs to happen.

However, despite this optimistic approach, the fact remains that failure to turn dominance into victory and they will have to develop a killer instinct if they are to win the league.