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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Arsenal trophy void set to widen

The gap between Arsenal’s 2005 FA Cup triumph and their next taste of silverware appears destined to expand into the foreseeable future after their shareholders’ meeting last week exposed the full extent of the club’s frugal attitude.

Both majority shareholder Stan Kroenke and squad manager Arsene Wenger outlined the need for financial stability as the driving factor for future success, but at a cost – it appears – of present-day glory.

Kroenke, in a statement following the meeting, said: “Arsenal is a tremendous club with a track record of consistent performance at the top level. That is very rare, but we have managed it. I know that will continue as we move forwards. We have an exciting future and our goal is to win trophies.”

Meanwhile Wenger told shareholders at the meeting: “There are five trophies. The first is to win the Premiership, second is to win the Champions League, third is to qualify for the Champions League, fourth is to win the FA Cup, and fifth is to win the League Cup.”

The rhetoric of these two statements must worry Arsenal fans who crave for a trophy like the haul they won a decade ago. While Kroenke outlined ‘consistent performance at the top level,’ Wenger’s statement that Champions League qualification is more important than a domestic cup is very concerning.
Granted, the Frenchman has kept the club in Europe’s elite competition for more than a decade, ensuring the hefty flow of TV money keeps moving, and the latest champions league group stage betting suggests they will make it to the knock-out stages this time around.

Both men have outlined the niggling concern that they see second-best as good enough because financially it keeps the club healthy. Kroenke may say he wants trophies but selling his best players and not giving Wenger the funds to reinvest is not the way about it.

Wenger has kept the club afloat during the paying-off of the new stadium with young talent just about good enough for fourth place. Now, however, there is a distinct rut in the playing squad and Champions League qualification may not even be achieved this year – mostly thanks to the frugal fiscal determination of Kroenke and co.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Wenger looking for improvement

Arsene Wenger has called upon his team to forget about the poor performance at Norwich City over the weekend by defeating Schalke 04 at the Emirates Stadium in the Champions League this evening.

The Gunners were far from at their best against Norwich and created very little in the 1-0 defeat, which saw them fall ten points off the top spot in the Premier League. Even people who play Pub Fruit Machines would have told you that Wenger’s side were not good enough in Norfolk.

 However, you cannot fault them in the Champions League so far as it has been two wins from two for Wenger’s men.

The Arsenal boss said: "We have a good opportunity, we play at home against Schalke and since we know that we won in Montpellier, our qualifying will depend on how well we do at home.

"Schalke are a solid side with good organisation.

"Up front of course they have Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, Jefferson Farfan, that we know are well, Ibrahim Afellay and Julian Draxler. They are dangerous and play a lot on counter-attacks."

The North Londoners know that this is likely to be the toughest game in the group stages so far as Schalke are also unbeaten in the Champions League. A victory here would put them in superb shape to reach the knockout stages and quickly get rid of the memories from Saturday evening.

Nothing proves there is a good spirit in a squad more than bouncing back after a defeat and taking all three points, especially against a team of the Germans quality.

Aaron Ramsey has been in good form in Europe’s elite club competition as well and he was on the score-sheet in the 3-1 win over Olympiakos.

The Welshman is likely to feature this evening and he has said: “When you have an upset like that you want to get back out there as quickly as possible and put it right."

Ramsey was one of the players that did not have a good game at Carrow Road over the weekend and he will be desperate to come out and show the Emirates faithful just what he is capable of doing on the biggest stage.

It is all set for a superb 90 minutes of football in North London.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Burton hails Wilshere return

Arsenal reserve team boss Terry Burton believes the imminent return of Jack Wilshere to the first team has given the whole club a massive lift.

After years of excitement surrounding the player, the talented youngster finally established himself in the Gunners’ side during the 2010-11 season, making over 40 appearances in all competitions.

He also broke into the England set-up and was seen by many as the man to add some much needed quality to the Three Lions midfield and carry them to Euro 2012 glory.

However, he has not played in the last 14 months due to an ankle injury, an ailment that not only cost him a place in Poland and Ukraine, but also meant he missed out on the once in a lifetime chance to play at the Olympics.

Both Arsenal and England have notably struggled without his composure and guile but he is now well on the way back to fitness and played for the Gunners’ under-21 side in a game at West Brom on Monday.

Thankfully Wilshere didn’t suffer any reoccurrence of the problem and impressed before being substituted on the hour. The London club hope he can feature in the Barclays Premier League again before the end of the year.

Burton was understandably delighted that the 20-year-old came through the encounter unscathed and says his return has boosted everyone at the club, as they look to end their seven year trophy drought.

"You always have to make that first step, and he has done that and that is fantastic,” he was quoted as saying in the latest sport news report.

"He is a quality player, it is great for the club that he has taken that first step on the road towards getting back into the first team.

"I think he is delighted to have been back on the pitch, as we all are,” he added.