The latest Arsenal transfer news (which I believe started with French radio station RMC Sport) is that the club have all but agreed to sign Auxerre striker Yaya Sanogo on a free transfer this summer. The 20-year-old, who has scored 8 goals in 7 games in Ligue 2 this season, has refused to sign a contract extension with Auxerre and is now free to negotiate with other clubs under the Bosman transfer ruling. However, Arsenal would have to pay somewhere in the region of £300,000 in compensation.
“We are advanced with him, but it is not done. I am very confident. He is a young striker who is promising, and has a big talent.”
What we know so far is that that Sanogo is young, French, injury prone and nobody has heard of him. As far as I am concerned that pretty much makes it a done deal. In fact, he is such an undiscovered talent that, as somebody very helpfully pointed out on Twitter, when you search for him on Google Images you end up with lots of screenshots taken from Football Manager.
The injury problems really worry me, because I have had enough of Arsene Wenger telling us that some of our players (*cough* Abou Diaby *cough*) are on the sidelines, yet again, for an extended period. It is thought that Arsenal scouts were monitoring Sanogo’s progress as long as 2 years ago when he first started making regular(ish) appearances for the Auxerre first team, but then he suffered a horrible broken leg in training, spent 9 months on the sidelines with that and a few other niggling injuries, and the transfer didn’t happen.
This is not the big transfer news that Arsenal fans were waiting for. With Arshavin, Bendtner and Chamakh probably all leaving this summer there is no doubt that we will have cleared enough off our wage bill to hopefully bring in a world-class striker. However, Sanogo will be Wenger’s future plans and I am sure there will be more bigger-name signings on the way shortly.
Arsene Wenger has revealed the latest Arsenal team news ahead of the final game of the 2012/13 Premier League season against Newcastle on Sunday afternoon.
There are only a few small changes from the squad the won 4-1 against Wigan on Tuesday. Mikel Arteta is a major doubt with a calf strain and could be replaced by Jack Wilshere, while Olivier Giroud is back from suspension.
Depending on results, this actually might not be our last game of the season. If we win 2-1 and Chelsea draw 0-0 with Everton then we will be level on goal difference and goals scored. Arsenal and Chelsea would therefore enter into a play-off for 3rd place and automatic Champions League promotion. The team in 4th has to go through the last round of CL qualifiers. Head-to-head results between us this season apparently don’t count, which is lucky for us because Chelsea won at both the Emirates and Stamford Bridge. The game would be played on a neutral ground, probably some time within the next 2 weeks.
“For the weekend, we have the uncertainty over Mikel Arteta, who had to come off just before the end of the Wigan game with a calf strain. Honestly, his chances of being available are minimal. I have to be realistic and prepare for another solution. Everybody else should be alright. There are no other real uncertainties.”
Earlier in the week it was revealed the Jack Wilshere will undergo minor surgery after the end of the season, but Wenger still says that he is an option to fill in for Arteta against Newcastle:
“He is an option yes. We will monitor him until Sunday and I will make a decision very late over what I will do.”
The “Handsome French Bloke” has completed his 3-match ban following a red the last few minutes of our 1-0 win against Fulham.
“I am happy to have him back. He missed some games and will be full of enthusiasm”
The match is live on Sky Sports 1, with Spurs vs Sunderland on Sky Sports 2. This is because the fight for the Champions League is the only thing that has come down to the final day of the season. Manchester United won the league weeks ago and Wigan, Reading and QPR have all been relegated to the Championship.
Unusually, Arsenal have an almost completely clean bill of health at the moment. Abou Diaby is a long-term injury, but otherwise everybody else is available for the final two games of the season. With Adebayor striking late for Spurs yesterday, we now have to win both remaining games to absolutely guarantee a place in next season’s Champions League.
“The news is quite good, we have everyone available. Kieran Gibbs should be back, he has a test today. Fabianski is available as well.”
In a slightly bizarre turn of fate, we can actually relegate Wigan only 3 days after they won the FA Cup against Manchester City. The Lactics need maximum points from their last 2 games, but they will definitely fancy themselves against Aston Villa on the final day of the season. The big worry is that they will be high on confidence tomorrow night following the FA Cup win.
Apologies for the lack of content over the last 2 weeks. I was in the process of starting a new job in Spain for 4 months and still do not have internet in my apartment. Hopefully I can get back to blogging on a regular basis very soon.
Arsenal go into this afternoon’s clash against the Premier League champions without Olivier Giroud, who is suspended for 3 games following a red card late on in last week’s game against Fulham.
Whether this will prove to be a hindrance or a blessing in disguise will be revealed in just a few hours time. It will be interesting to see which of Theo Walcott, Lukasz Podolski or Gervinho will be chosen by Arsene Wenger to take over the central role.
I don’t think that Manchester Untied will have their foot off the gas less than a week after they won the Championship at Villa Park. Even though they are already champions, they can still set the record for most league wins and most points in a Premier League season. Also, games between United and Arsenal are always pretty competitive and United will want to finish their season on a high. Regardless of any changes that may be made to their starting line-up, expect a tough match.
The guard of honour should not be such a big deal. You have to bear in mind that it is simply common courtesy; we would expect the same at Old Trafford if we were in their position. In fact, United gave us a guard of honour at Highbury in 1991. As for the return of Robin van Persie, I think that he should just be completely ignored and treated like any other United player. I am against booing him. For us to lose our best player to United in that way obviously does not sit well with any of the fans, but we have to just move on. That’s football.
My preference to replace Giroud would be Lukasz Podolski, but I have a feeling that Wenger will choose Gervinho, who started the season playing in the centre. Walcott has not been in great form in recent weeks and could even be dropped for Oxlade-Chamberlain. Other than that the team will be relatively unchanged from that which played against Fulham last weekend, but possibly we could go with Carzorla back in the middle and Podolski in for Rosicky. I actually wouldn’t hesitate to leave Wilshere out of the starting XI given that he has been relatively inconsistent/unreliable since his return from injury a few weeks ago.
I am predicting a couple of changes from the team that won at Villa Park because 1) Fergie says that he wants to give some of the “fringe” players a run about and 2) United have a few new injury concerns and other players returning from injuries.
There are some people who are saying that RvP won’t start, either because Fergie thinks that it would be inappropriate and cause more problems or because he wants to give Chicarito a go. I disagree. RvP will almost definitely start. I see no reason to leave him out; this is a match that they will still really want to win.
Arsenal 1-1 Manchester United We have taken only four points from seven games against the other sides in the top five this season, and I am not expecting a win today either. A draw would be a good result given that Spurs drew with Wigan yesterday and are playing Chelsea in 10 days time.
Arsene Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson have revealed the latest team news ahead of the big game on Sunday afternoon.
Despite being crowned league champions earlier this week, the game still holds at least some importance for Manchester United because they currently on track to break the records for most points and most wins in a Premier League season. The importance from an Arsenal point of view does not need stressed.
Unusually for this point in the season, we have an almost completely clean bill of health. Abou Diaby and Ryo Miyaichi are both nursing long-term injuries, while Arsene Wenger Lukasz Fabianski is still out with a rib injury picked up against Norwich two weeks ago, but we are otherwise in pretty good nick. Olivier Giroud starts his a 3-match ban after an unsuccessful appeal, but the rest of the players who featured at Craven Cottage are available.
“The players who played last week at Fulham should all be available. We lose Giroud of course because he’s suspended but that’s it.
“Fabianski is not available. It’s still week-to-week for him.”
The big question is who is going to replace Giroud as our central striker. The choice is Walcott, Podolski or Gervinho. My preference would be Podolski, but I have a feeling that Wenger will choose Gervinho given that he started the season playing in the centre. Walcott has not been in great form in recent weeks and could even be dropped.
Fergie has confirmed that he is likely to make a few changes from the team that played against Villa on Monday night, with Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic both back in the squad and Jonny Evans and Michael Carrick nursing injuries. He also wants to reward United’s “fringe” players with some game time in the closing stages of the season.
“Two of the players played with an injury throughout the [Villa] game, Jonny Evans and Michael Carrick. Next week, I should have Vida and Rio back and I can put Jones into the middle of the pitch and play Vida and Rio together and we’ll get the experience going to Arsenal.
“A lot of younger players have been on the fringes for the last few weeks, and I desperately want them to feel their contribution has been big. Chicharito, Danny Welbeck, Tom Cleverley and Nani – I think it’s important to get them involved in the last few weeks.”
Despite the mention of Javi Hernandez and Danny Welbeck, I can’t see RvP being left out of the United starting XI and missing the opportunity to play against us at the Emirates. It will be interesting to see how the home crowd reacts to his presence. A full match preview with predicted starting XI’s to be published later.
Despite a very poor performance (especially in the second half), Arsenal managed to grind out the 1-0 result that we needed. It wasn’t pretty to watch, and left us biting our nails until the final whistle, but at least we are still moving in the right direction.
Szczesny – 7 Kept his second clean sheet in a row. Had a lot to do including a good save from Berbatov on 20 minutes and tipping Ruiz’s cross over the bar in the second half.
Sagna – 6 Ok defensively, but another poor offensive performance. Can’t cross and was not helped by Walcott, who seemed to be in hiding.
Mertesacker – 7.5 My MOTM, not only because he scored the goal but because he was an absolute beast at the heart of our defence with some great interceptions and clearances.
Koscielny – 7 Got an assist for Mertesacker with a header across goal and is developing a nice defensive partnership with the BFG.
Monreal – 6 Caught out on a few occasions in the first half by Emanuelson, and resulted to a bit of last-ditch defending. Better in the second half.
Arteta – 6 I am not sure whether the foul that led to Sidwell’s red card had anything to do with it, but Arteta was just lacking that spark that he usually has. Looks tired and maybe needs to be rested, but perhaps the game against United is not the right match for him to miss.
Ramsey – 6.5 Made a few poorly timed tackles and conceded fouls, but got forward well and had a few good opportunities. Needs to learn how to finish. Should have had the ball in the back of the net after a counter-attack in stoppage time.
Cazorla – 5 Some of the worst corner-taking I have seen in a long time sums up a below-par performance from our usually creative/lively Spaniard. One of his least-effective performances for Arsenal since he joined in the summer.
Rosicky – 5 Like the other midfielders, Rosicky was lacking his usual spark and looks like he needs to be rested.
Walcott – 3.5/4 Totally anonymous. Didn’t get into the came and played like as poorly as he did against Everton on Tuesday.
Giroud – 4 Hit the post with a shot on 35 minutes, but otherwise did absolutely nothing. The red card was a bit harsh because he actually slipped on the ball, but I dare say that there are more than a few Gooners who will be glad that he can’t be in the team to face United next weekend.
Wilshere/Podolski - 5.5 Both had little impact for the 20 minutes they were on, but at least looked like they were putting some effort in in an attempt to close out the game. Lukas will probably get a start as our central striker next week in the absence of Giroud.
Vermaelen – N/A Only on for about a minute as we defended a corner.
Arsene Wenger has revealed the latest Arsenal team news ahead of Saturday’s crucial Premier League game against Fulham.
If we win at Craven Cottage then we really keep our hopes of top-four alive with just a few league games remaining. Spurs play Manchester City on Sunday and Chelsea face Liverpool at Anfield, so here’s hoping that they will drop both a few more points.
With Lukasz Fabianski still sidelined, Wojciech Sczcesny will keep his place in the starting XI for the time being. However, it is difficult to say whether he will stay there once Fabianski is fit.
Santi Cazorla, Jack Wilshere, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Tomas Rosicky all face late fitness tests, so it will be interesting to see who starts in midfield. As Wenger puts it “there are a number of uncertainties about our squad.” Wilshere has been particularly poor in the last few games, so I really hoping that Rosicky get to start for the first time since his 2 goals against Norwich. I think that Jack is just somewhat lacking in match fitness following 6 weeks or so on the sidelines, and I wonder whether playing him in too many games at the moment would be detrimental to his recovery and development. The good news is that Rosicky and Ramsey have hit form at exactly the right time.
“Fabianski is not back. The keeper situation is similar to what it was before. It is a rib injury. It is game to game for him.
“At the back everyone should available. In midfield we have a few people to check like Cazorla, Wilshere and Oxlade-Chamberlain. They will all have tests but I hope they should be alright.
“We have to test Rosicky who was not ready to start on Tuesday. There are a number of uncertainties about our squad but I will sort that out on Friday morning.”
The bad news is that it is looking increasingly likely that Manchester United will be able to win the league at the Emirates if they beat us next weekend. It all depends on the result of the Spurs/City game and also United/Villa on Monday. I can’t think of anything worse than RvP lifting the Premier League trophy with United at the Emirates.
So the scoreless draw was not really a result that benefits either team, but a result that I think was pretty fair all things considered. Everton played a very physical game and I do not think that it is such a bad point for us when given that was one of the most difficult games in our run-in.
Apart from the United game, we should be looking for secure maximum points from the remaining fixtures (against Wigan, Fulham, Newcastle and QPR).
Szczesny - 7 Sir Chesney was back in the line-up because Lukasz Fabianski missed the game with a rib injury. His positioning was good and he made some good saves/kept a clean sheet. Job done.
Sagna – 6 Defensively solid and dealt well with Mirallas/Anichebe. He was ok going forward except for his crosses, which were really poor.
Mertesacker – 7 Back in the team after missing the Norwich game through suspension. Dealt well with the physical threat of Anichebe relatively well and made some strong tackles.
Koscielny – 7.5 Another great performance from Kos, who is really showing why he deserves to be our first-choice centre-back. His positioning is always great.
Gibbs – 5.5 The polar opposite to Sagna. Really good going forward but defensively a bit poor. He seemed to get into the game a lot more once Podolski came on but really struggled with Anichebe.
Arteta – 7 Another tidy performance from Arteta, who fought an interesting battle with Fellaini in midfield. He linked well with Ramsey and his delivery from set pieces was good.
Ramsey – 8.5 My MOTM by an absolute mile. Aaron is quickly becoming one of my favorite players. He was apparently playing in every position and really looked to drive the team forward. His work rate is incredible; all he needs to add to his game are some goals.
Wilshere – 5 Another poor performance a bit like the one that we saw against Norwich. Looks unfit and probably should not have started. Rosicky anyone?
Walcott – 4.5 Too quiet for my liking. He was almost completely anonymous first-half, but did make a few good runs to make up for it after half time. However, we expect more from Theo. He never really ran at the Everton defence and Leighton Baines had him in his pocket for most of the evening.
Cazorla - 7 The ball is practically glued to his feet as he dances around the midfield, but he was just lacking that final cutting edge that we have seen in so much of recently. Maybe that was because Giroud, Wilshere and Walcott were barely in the game?
Giroud – 5 Held up the ball well, but missed what looked like a sitter and fluffed a few other good opportunities. Needs to be much more clinical in the last few game of the season if he wants to stop Wenger from buying a new first-choice striker in the summer.
Oxlade-Chamberlain - 6.5 On for Wilshere with about 25 minutes remaining and made some good runs straight at the heart of the defence. Maybe worth a start against Fulham instead of Walcott.
Lukas Podolski – 6 On for Walcott but did not have as much of an impact as he did against Norwich on Saturday.
Nacho Monreal – n/a Only on for a few minutes to replace Gibbs. Booked for a deliberate foul to prevent an Everton counter-attack.
Putting aside all the controversy over the penalty and Walcott being offside, Arsenal grabbed an important 3 points in a tough game against Norwich on Saturday to keep their momentum going in the Premier League.
7 wins in our last 8 league games has seen us slowly claw our way back into those Champions League spots that have been so elusive this season. However, a team that is hot on our heals is David Moyes’ Everton, who have not won at Arsenal for 17 seasons.
Everton also enter the game in pretty good form. The Blues have won four and drawn one of their last five league games, and can go level on points with Chelsea and Spurs if they win. The players to watch are the likes of Fellaini, who is a constant threat from set pieces, Leighton Baines and Kevin Mirallas.
As far as I am concerned, Everton need a win tonight more than Arsenal. A draw would not be such a terrible result for us considering the other fixtures between the top teams that still need to be played this season, but for Everton any dropped points are much more damaging. If we win then its hard to imagine that we won’t qualify for the Champions League for a 16th successive season.
Arsenal Tomas Rosicky is back in the squad after missing the Norwich game with a minor hamstring injury. Per Mertesacker is also back after serving a 1-match suspension, but Lukasz Fabianski is a major doubt with a rib injury.
Everton The Toffee’s have almost a completely clean bill of health, with no new injury concerns from the weekend’s win over QPR. Tony Hibbert made his comeback for the U21′s last week after 4 months out with a calf injury and faces a late fitness test, but is likely to be slightly short.
Predicted Starting XI
This is probably the best starting XI that we can put out at the moment. Szczesny will be back in the line-up to replace the injured Fabianski, while I am predicting that Vermaelen will keep his place despite the return of Mertesacker and have chosen Monreal over Gibbs.
Jack Wilshere is left out of the line-up because his performance against Norwich is an indicator that he is really lacking match fitness. I really like the Ramsey-Arteta combination in midfield and Rosicky is too good to leave out of the team. Wenger has also given a few indications that he would consider starting Lukas Podolski up front instead of Giroud.
Arsenal 2-2 Everton As I have mentioned above, I would settle for a draw, especially if we win against Fulham on the weekend. Everton are a tough team this season and I expect a real fight with maybe a few late goals.