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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Wenger to fight for Fabregas

It must be the end of the season. Cesc Fabregas is being linked with a move away from Arsenal.

The Gunners captain, as ever, is expected by many to leave the club this summer with a move to boyhood team Barcelona being discussed again.

However, Arsene Wenger is in no mood to sell as he looks to improve his squad and will do everything he can to hold onto his man.

The Frenchman said: “I expect him to be here, and I will fight very hard to keep him here. You have always to fight when you have a player of that quality. You must always fight to keep your players.”

Wenger’s cause will of course not have been helped by the fact that Arsenal’s season took a dramatic turn for the worse after losing the Carling Cup final to Birmingham in February.

Since that day, they crashed out of the FA Cup and Champions League and in the Premier League, they dropped to 4th position having been title contenders for the majority.

This means that there is no guarantee of Champions League football next season; again, this is something that won’t help keep hold of Fabregas.

Wenger was keen to defend his team though, saying a move elsewhere wouldn’t necessearily be of benefit to the Spaniard or for any other player perhaps wanting out.

He said: “What guarantees you that if you go somewhere else you will win trophies? The biggest pride for a captain is to be committed to his club and deliver trophies with his team.”

“A player who changes his club every time he is frustrated or when he doesn't win a trophy, goes nowhere.”

It certainly is crucial for Arsenal that they hold onto their skipper. They want to be searching for players, perhaps wearing adidas Football Boots, to play alongside him rather than for his replacement.

Overall, it is an extremely important summer for the club with one of the main tasks being to keep hold of Fabregas and build a team around him.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Is Denilson leaving the first sign of recovery at Arsenal?

Although the sounds coming out of Arsenal in recent weeks have been fairly negative, the reality remains that the imminent departure of Denilson from the club is the first public acceptance by Arsene Wenger that the wheat needs to be separated from the chaff at Arsenal FC.

Having had to endure a parting statement from Denilson that the club does not match his ambitions (or perhaps that his inability to perform at the top level means that he has been picked far less frequently in recent times by the Gunners as he has been awful in every game he has performed in), the Gunners now have at least one space in their squad to fill up as they seek to keep their squad at the level it needs to be at in order to challenge on several fronts. Those following the Arsenal betting will know a shakeup is needed.

With Scott Parker being frequently linked with the club in recent weeks, Wenger must regret his decision not to sign the combative midfielder after he left Newcastle United and when he had a few more years left in the tank. However, with Parker a born leader and a man who knows when to hold back rather than bomb forward, unlike the effective but not world class Alex Song, it still seems an investment well worth risking. After all, no one is going to make Arsenal Champions League betting tips unless something changes.

However, with Wenger unlikely to be happy paying the reported £6 million asking fee that Spurs and Liverpool will be more than happy to cough up, the chances are that the 6.5% ticket price increase is not going to be spent on bringing the England man to Arsenal, and instead Wenger will seek as always to sign an unknown player who in all likelihood will need a good season or two in the Premier League before he can cope with the physical demands of the league and will leave Arsenal staying in the cycle of trying to play catch-up on the cheap.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Kroenke maintains buy out offer

Arsenal’s majority shareholder Stan Kroenke’s unconditional offer to Arsenal’s other shareholders remains open despite a full takeover bid by the American not forthcoming.

Kroenke Sports Enterprises moved close to controlling stake last month after buying additional shares month, with KSE’s stake now at around 63%.

Kroenke was then obliged to make a formal offer to buy up any remaining shares at around £11,750 a share, but had no takers, and a statement revealed that the offer would remain open.

KSE is pleased to announce that the Acceptance Condition has now been satisfied and the Offer is therefore unconditional in all respects," it read.

"The Offer, which remains subject to the terms set out in the Offer Document, will remain open for acceptances until further notice."

Kroenke’s intentions remain unclear, however major shareholder Alisher Usmanov has publicly stated his refusal to sell up to the American businessman, insisting he would keep hold of his stake in the club.

Arsenal fans remain opposed to the club falling into private ownership, and have urged shareholders not to sell up to Kroenke.

The 63-year-old became a member of the board in 2008 and retains overall control of the club.

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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Is Kyle Bartley the forgotten man at Arsenal?

Even though there is a lot of talk about Arsenal needing to sign a new centre back over the summer in order to give themselves a chance of success next season, there seem to be a few people who have forgotten that Arsenal have got a rather handy centre back finding his way at the club fairly successfully in the form of Kyle Bartley.

With Bartley currently making a big impression at Rangers, where he has progressed from being a promising player to one who is now really regarded as a top player who has genuinely helped Rangers to secure a Scottish Premier League title against all the odds, Arsenal fans could be forgiven for looking forward to his return. Those placing football free bets will know the side needs to toughen up at the back.

Although the SPL cannot be described as anything like as technically challenging as the Premier League, it is a league that many Arsenal players might find challenging, purely because it presents individuals with a real physical battle. With Bartley showing he is no slouch and can stand up for himself when he needs to, and if he can take this skill and keep up with the increased pace and technical challenges that the Premier League brings (something that he surely must be able to do after his time training with the Gunners), then maybe, just maybe, he can prove that Arsenal don't need the likes of Gary Cahill to take them to the next level and instead, Wenger can actually successfully develop a centre back with some old school qualities at a football club that seems to shy away from embracing the darker arts of football to its own cost.

If this can manifest itself next season, then a Thomas Vermarlen and Kyle Bartley partnership could well be seen as being as physically competent as some of the other top partnerships in the Premier League.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Szczesny holds his own

The goalkeeping position at Arsenal has been under question ever since the first retirement of Jens Lehmann, but it now finally seems to a be a question that has an answer, and that answer seems to be in the form of the commentator's nightmare that is Wojciech Szczesny, the young Polish goalkeeper who has made the position his own in recent months.

If Szczesny wishes to carry on showing he is capable of making the grade at a top English club, however, he will need to prove that he can pick himself up from the Carling Cup final defeat earlier this season that left him a broken man, while also proving that he can be a leader despite his tender age. Those thinking about place a Premier League bet on Arsenal should bear this in mind.

Should Szczesny do this successfully and display his assets as both a shot stopper and a keeper who can turn defence into attack effectively, then he will not only be considered as a decent young prospect, but also a man who can emulate the likes of Edwin van der Sar by becoming a mainstay in a major team for the next twenty years. Arsenal were Andy Gray tips to win the title this year, but the lack of a top keeper hurt them.

However, even though the chances are that he will succeed at the Emirates, especially given the fact that the crowd are firmly behind the young keeper, it is often the case that players don't end up getting what they had hoped for or deserved and, if this is the case, yet more questions will be asked about the goalkeeping position at the club and why Arsene Wenger has not gone out to spend a fair amount of money on buying a top quality goalkeeper who doesn't need to spend time developing at the club.

Wenger lashes out at Merson doping claims

Arsene Wenger has hit back at claims made by former Arsenal midfielder Paul Merson that cast doubts over the club’s medical procedures under the Frenchman.

Merson claims that during his brief spell at the club with Wenger at the helm, he saw players injected with a yellowy substance, while Wenger himself handed out a “dark tablet” which was super-strength caffeine.

The England international played under Wenger for a four month spell before joining Middlesbrough at the end of the 1996/97 season.

But now the Arsenal boss has reacted angrily to Merson’s claims, and insisted: “I cannot take that comment seriously."

I don't know how many players have played here over 15 years, 200 maybe," said Wenger. It is absolutely ridiculous to put any suspicion on the way we treat the players and respect the players' health.

"Some of them stayed for 10 years. Paul Merson stayed with me for four months, so I think it is better you ask people who have played for five, six, seven, eight, nine years here how we behave medically.

"I personally give them nothing. If they don't want to take anything, they take nothing.” He added.

Wenger went on to insist he would “resign tomorrow” if Merson could find one player to back up his claims.

Merson played 423 times for Arsenal, scoring 99 times in a career that was dogged by alcohol, drug and gambling addictions.

Arsenal’s form meanwhile continued to dip after they lost 2-1 against Aston Villa on Sunday. They could still lose out to Man City in the race for third place and be forced to go through the qualifying stages of the Champions League.

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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Van Persie the man who deserves real praise, not United stars

Javier Hernandez and Dimitar Berbatov have attracted plenty of praise for their cutting edge in front of goal this season. With Manchester United having all but tied up the Premier League title, it's easy to see why the duo have been the subject of overly enthusiastic praise. However, when it comes to admiring the effectiveness of Premier League strikers this season, it's worth looking further south than Manchester, North London to be precise.

Robin van Persie seems to fly quietly under the radar, sendings off against Barcelona aside, but since making a long-awaited return from injury for the Gunners earlier this season, he has wasted no time in simply getting the job done in front of goal. In fact, the striker has scored a total of 16 Premier League goals this season, with those goals coming in under 1600 minutes of league action. With those stats averaging out at one goal every 99 minutes, his figures compare favourably to those of Berbatov and Hernandez. Those who have downloaded the Betfair Blackberry app may have noticed this.

With Van Persie also managing to score in the Gunners' last eight league away games, the question that surely arises is precisely how Arsenal would have fared had they been able to rely upon a fully fit Van Persie for the duration of the season along with their best players in all positions on the pitch also fit and raring to go. Those who visit a mobile betting site before next season should bear this in mind.

If Van Persie, Thomas Vermaelen, and Cesc Fabregas, should he stick around for another season, can manage to go an entire league campaign without injury during 2011/2012, improving the quality and experience by just a couple of small yet crucial notches throughout the Gunners' formation, then perhaps Arsenal fans will find that the answer to their current problems doesn't lie in wholesale changes throughout the squad after all.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Nasri sick of losing

Samir Nasri is ready to start winning trophies after a career of finishing just short of silverware. The Arsenal midfielder – who came second in the PFA Player of the year awards – has been speaking about his frustration of not being successful in tournaments.

It may well have been a good season for him personally with regards to his performances on the pitch, but it appears he would have swapped this for a Premier League, FA Cup, Champions League or even Carling Cup winner’s medal.

Speaking about what has ultimately been a disappointing season for Arsenal, he said: “I don't care if I'm second or even the best player in the league, I would have preferred to win the Premier League.”

“I have won nothing since I became a professional footballer at Marseille - I have always lost in the final or finished second in the league.”

This is obviously extremely frustrating for him and it is good that he is determined to win things, but he does have a long career ahead of him and plenty of time to win silverware.

With regards to his Premier League form, this season has arguably been his breakthrough year, so he needs to build on this over the next couple of campaigns. If he focuses on maintaining and improving his own game, he gives the best contribution he could to Arsenal’s chances of winning trophies.

The Frenchman will be wearing the Arsenal 125th Anniversary Kit next year and he should do so as a very focused professional. He should take the disappointment of this season and turn it into determination to be part of a successful, trophy winning side.

With regards to this campaign, it might not be a trophy, but Arsenal and Nasri need to aim to finish 2nd in the Premier League. They have worked all year to challenge for the title, so to finish 3rd would be hugely disappointing.

Next up for the Gunners is a difficult trip to FA Cup finalists Stoke City on Sunday afternoon.

Wilshere to clash with Wenger?

Jack Wilshere has excelled in the Arsenal midfield this season, with manager Arsene Wenger regarding him as one of the first names on his team sheet, but he is also an individual now risking facing the wrath of the Frenchman.

The issue stems down to the fact that the young midfielder has expressed his desire to play for his country this summer at the European Championships for the Under-21s, even though he has already broken into the senior side. With Wenger believing there is therefore no reason for the player to continue his involvement with the Under-21s, since in the Arsenal manager's opinion the youth squads exist solely to feed the senior squad with talent, it would seem that Wilshere's priorities are somewhat different.

Wilshere has revealed that he will never say no to a call from his country, even if that call comes from the Under-21s but has conceded that the Arsenal manager will need to be involved in any eventual decision. After all, anyone who has followed the football online betting will know that Theo Walcott seemed to take a step backwards after playing too many international game.

Andy Carroll, who has scored a goal at senior level yet was also included in the provisional squad for the Championships, is also facing the same quandary. With Kenny Dalglish not quite as outspoken on this issue as Wenger, it would seem likely that he would nevertheless prefer for one of the players whom he believes Liverpool's future will revolve around to be kept fresh for the start of next season.

Should the players both appear on the international stage this summer, it could well be Arsenal and Liverpool that hold long-term grudges against Stuart Pearce.