With the news that Bacary Sagna may be on his way out of the club this summer, there has been lots of speculation as to who Arsenal are considering as a replacement right-back. The name which seems to be at the top of the list is Juventus’s Stephan Lichtsteiner, who has become an integral part of the Antonio Conte’s squad since joining from Lazio back in 2011.
The suggestion from some news sources is that Lichtsteiner is one of the players who could be sold by Juve in order to raise funds for a new striker, with Carlos Tevez and Gonzalo Higuain being heavily linked with a move to Turin. However, Tuttosport are now saying that he’ll be handed a new contract. The truth is that nobody really knows what is going on, but all will be revealed in the coming weeks.
All I can say is that I don’t really understand the point of bringing the Swiss international to Arsenal. Lichtsteiner is not even year younger than Sagna, so either we should should sign somebody younger or just offer Bacary a new 2-year deal. However, it all depends on how much Bacary wants out. He may genuinely want to leave this summer or he may just be using a move to PSG etc as a threat to secure a beter new deal at the Emirates.
Carl Jenkinson is beginning to show signs of real potential, so we shouldn’t be looking to sign anybody too young to replace otherwise we could stifle Jenko’s development. Another option is to actually use Jenko as our first-choice right-back and promote Hector Bellerin to the first-team squad. This is an option which certainly would excite many Arsenal fans, as Bellerin has really impressed for the U21′s and in NextGen Series this season. Whatever happens with Sagna, it’s looks to be a complicated situation and I am sure that in typical Arsenal style none of it will be sorted until we are well into August.
The season has only just finished, yet as the days go by it is looking increasingly likely that Bacary Sagna has played his last ever game in an Arsenal shirt. Our 30-year-old right-back only has one year left on his current contract and, with interest from Paris Saint-Germain, Monaco and Anzhi Mackhachkala (among others), does not seem to be overly committed to extending his time in North London.
Given Arsene Wenger’s history of not offering long-term contracts to players over the age of 30, we look to be arriving at a stalemate. While I am sure that Bacary would continue at Arsenal if we offered him a longer contract, that probably isn’t going to be happen and he will need to move elsewhere in order to secure that last big deal to see out the latter years of his career. With only a year left on his contract, he is in a good bargaining position and will be able to negotiate his exit if that’s what he wants. If Sagna does leave, most likely for PSG, then one player linked as a possible replacement is Juventus’s Stephan Lichtsteiner.
“Of course it makes me proud to read PSG are interested. They are a very attractive club,” Sagna told the Daily Star. “Personally, I’ve not been approached by PSG. I don’t know if they have contacted my agent or if these are rumours. I don’t close any door. I could very well extend my contract here in London but equally I could leave at the end of the season. I only have one year left on my contract – we will see.”
While I will admit that this definitely hasn’t been Bacary’s best season in an Arsenal shirt, he does add a lot of experience to the squad. Manchester United provide the perfect example of why you should still offer longer contracts to older players. In fact, Vidic, Evra and Ferdinand (who form 3 of United’s first choice back 4) are all over the age of 30. With Squillaci, Arshavin and Andre Santos almost definitely leaving this summer, the only players in the squad over the age of 30 will be Arteta, Rosicky and Sagna. There are even doubts about whether Rosicky will still be at the club in the summer.
What to do with Bacary?
In my opinion, there is always the option to offer Sagna a new 2-year contract and maybe move him to centre-back. Back in February, Bac was forced to fill in in the centre against Sunderland after Koscielny was injured in the pre-match warm-up. Despite being “out of position”, he put in a man-of-the-match performance as we clung on to secure a vital 1-0 win.
Thomas Vermaelen might leave this summer and Johan Djourou will almost definitely be on his way out. My idea is based on a bit of rotation; you can play Sagna at right-back occasionally while you ease Carl Jenkinson into the team on a more regular basis, and use him at centre-back when there are injuries or players need to be rested. Obviously Koscielny and Mertesacker would remain the first-choice defensive partnership. Let me know whether you agree of disagree in the comments section below.
The news is official today as Sanogo confirmed to Sky Sports that he is looking forward to following in the footsteps of Abou Diaby, who joined Arsenal from Auxerre all the way back in 2006. There have been a lot of clubs chasing Sanogo’s signature, but he has chosen to continue his career at Arsenal next season.
“Arsenal could be a great club for me, I scored nine goals this season with Auxerre and they think I can improve my level in England.
“I am pleased to be following in the footsteps of Abou Diaby who came through from Auxerre.
“There are many teams interested in me, but Arsenal is my choice.”
While I’m on the subject, Sanogo also follows in the footsteps of Bacary Sagna, who joined Arsenal from Auxerre in 2007. However, Sagna will still be at the club when Sanogo joins remains to be seen. With only 1 year left on his contract (- why does that keep happening to Arsenal players??), Sagna is being heavily linked with a move to Paris Saint Germain, with Juve’s Seb Lichtsteiner being touted as a possible replacement. We will have more on that later.
Despite being available on a Bosman Free Transfer, Sanogo will cost us somewhere in the region of £300,000 in compensation because he is under 23-years-old. That doesn’t sound too bad for a player who looks like he has a lot of potential. Maybe it’s not the big signing that we need, but it’s a positive start and I look forward to seeing him in an Arsenal shirt in a few weeks time.
Andrey Arshavin has thanked Arsenal fans and his fellow players via his Twitter account as we near the expiration of his contract with the club and the end of his time in North London.
Despite making 52 appearances in all competitions just 2 years ago, Arshavin was limited to just nine substitute appearances in the Premier League and Champions League during the 2012/13 campaign, as well as two starts in the League Cup.
Arshavin’s fall from grace in the last few years has happened at an outstanding rate. Having been one of the standout performers for Russia at Euro 2008, he became a quickly a crowd favourite at the Emirates after his record-breaking January transfer by scoring all four goals in our 4-4 draw at Anfield in April 2009. However, he seemed to have peaked a little bit too early as his ridiculously poor work-rate and unbelievably inconsistent performances really began to infuriate the fans. There is no doubt that he has (had) the potential to be one of the best players in the Premier League, but what we saw were brief moments of brilliance mixed in with a lot of anonymous performances. To be completely honest, I was surprised when looking it up that he actually made 11 appearances this season, because I don’t remember most of them. His last appearance for the club was all the way back in January, when he played 15 minutes against Chelsea. From what I remember he was actually not that bad.
A lot of articles I have been reading seem to be focusing on the fact that in January 2012 Andrey was booed when he replaced Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain against Manchester United. However, I would like to defend Arshavin because if I remember correctly the booing was actually directed at the decision to replace Oxlade-Chamberlain because he had been one of our best players, not at the player who was coming on.
As far as I am concerned, Andrey still has the potential for a few more good years playing for one of the big team in Russia, most probably Zenit. He has made it very clear that he misses his home nation and even went back there on loan in the second half of last season. There were actually rumours when he joined Arsenal that he wanted to move back straight away because of a misunderstanding about just how much he would be paying in taxes in the UK, but he stayed in England for 4 and a half years. He joined in January (- or February) 2009 and his contract with the club officially runs out on June 30th.
Arshavin has been linked with a move to Sevilla in recent weeks and is also thought to be considering retirement, but I am sure that a few more years back at Zenit are on the cards. Whatever happens, I wish him good luck and thank him for freeing up another 60-65k of wages for us to use in the summer. Now if we could just get rid of Squillaci, Bendtner, Chamakh, Frimpong, Santos, Denilson and Park and bring in some world-class players then we will have had a pretty good summer. Keep the comments coming and remember to like us on Facebook. We have just hit 4,000 fans!
Credit has to Arsene Wenger for the way that he has set up the team over the last 10 games of the season. 8 wins and 2 draws for Arsenal saw us claw our way back from 7 points behind Spurs at the beginning of March to pip them to the last Champions League place by 1 point on the final day of the season.
The 3-1 loss to Bayern Munich and all the way back in February seemed to give Wenger a much needed kick up the ass and reinforced that defensive changes were needed. The result was that Thomas Vermaelen was dropped and Laurent Kos and Per Mertesacker went on to form a much stronger defensive partnership. In fact, Vermaelen has barely made any appearances of note since, other than when Mertesacker was suspended. Aaron Ramsey has also made a fantastic contribution in central midfield in the absence of Wilshere through injury, while bringing Rosicky back into the starting XI was an inspired move that seemed to give the team a big boost.
The game against Newcastle went pretty much according to plan. We needed a win to guarantee 4th place regardless of Spurs’ result against Sunderland and that’s exactly we got. The team was unchanged from that which relegated Wigan last Tuesday, and although Newcastle probably had the better chances early on in the game I always felt that our quality would shine through. The second-half performance was (as usual) much stronger, with Theo Walcott testing Steven Harper from close range at about 50 minutes. Theo then whipped in a nice free-kick a few minutes later which was headed back towards goal by Lukas Podolski and acrobatically thumped into the back of the net by Koscielny.
After that it didn’t really matter what was happening in at White Hart Lane as long as we kept a clean sheet. As great as Bale’s goal was, it was actually completely irrelevant. Walcott hit the post to leave us biting our nails for the last few minutes, but the team defended well and the 3 points were ours. As usual, it sucks to be a Spurs fan and we have our 16th consecutive season of Champions League football.
As I mentioned in the player ratings article we finished this season on more points and with a better goal difference than last year. Podolski, Cazorla, Walcott & Giroud notched 48 league goals between them, meaning that we didn’t miss really the goals scored by Robin van Persie. In some respects it worked out better than last season because we were not so reliant on only one player, but at the same time there were a lot of opportunities that particularly Giroud and Walcott squandered that you feel that a player of RvP’s quality would have scored. The good news is that it looks like we are in a much better financial situation going into the summer than we have been in previous season, so there should be a fair bit of money (- apparently as much as £70 million) to spend on some world-class players. Bring on the summer transfer window.
As you may have seen on our Twitter page, there were 8 changes to the team for our game against Newcastle from team that started the final game of last season against West Brom, which goes to show just how the team has changed in the past year. In my opinion, the changes seem to have been for the best. The team looks more balanced this season and testament to that is the fact that we finished this season on more points and with a better goal difference than last year.
Szczesny 7 – Didn’t actually have very much to do. Although Newcastle broke through our defence a few times in the first half (in particular I remember Gouffran & Ben Arfa making some good runs), their shots were mostly high.
Sagna 6.5 – Worked well defensively and won most headers, but crosses still aren’t great. However, this could be his last game for Arsenal. He only has one year left on his contract and I am prepared to bet that he will move to PSG in the summer. We will definitely miss his physical presence and ariel ability if he does leave after 6 years and 235 appearances.
Mertesacker 7 – Made some great blocks and was pretty solid, especially in the second half as he grew into the game. There were two moments in the first half that he was completely outpaced by Gouffran when he was isolated and caught out by Newcastle’s movement, but Koscienly was covering and otherwise no problems.
Koscielny 9 – MOTM - Koscielny is a defensive BEAST. His tackling was exceptional and there was some excellent technique for the goal (even though it was followed by a very strange celebration!). Interestingly Kos also scored the winning goal against West Brom last season. He was MOTM by far, which is clearly shown by getting 92% of the votes on the Arsenal website. I am sure that we will get lots of offers from him over the summer, but his celebration & the fact that we keep our place in Champions League team for another season is enough to convince me that he will stay.
Gibbs 6.5 - Struggled to deal with the tricky feet of Ben Arfa in the first half, but did his part going forward and improved defensively as the match went on.
Arteta n/a - It was a brave decision to start Arteta if we knew that he was injured, and one which did not really pay off. Mikel struggled to get into the game because of his minor calf problem and was substituted for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain after about half an hour.
Ramsey 6.5 - Excellent work rate as usual, but made a few more stray passes in attacking positions than I would have liked in a game where we really needed to keep hold of the ball.
Rosicky 6.5 - Didn’t have many opportunities to work his magic and was barely in the game.
Cazorla 7 - His close control and passing were extremely impressive, but he didn’t create too many openings because Newcastle closed down well.
Walcott 7 - His running was good (both on and off the ball), but he didn’t quite get the goal he probably deserved. He made an excellent run late on and probably should’ve scored but hit the post. Could have had more one-on-ones if the midfield had spotted his movement and fed him through.
Podolski 6 - Not great as a CF because he doesn’t stay in the box. Kept coming deep and doing a good job there, but that wasn’t his role. Without Giroud in the middle we didn’t have a real presence in the box, but at least Podolski got the assist for Koscielny’ goal.
Oxlade-Chamberlain 6.5 – On for Arteta after half an hour and played well in central midfield. Always full of energy and seems to prefer playing in the centre compared to out on the wing.
Giroud/Wilshere n/a – Giroud held up the ball well as we looked to keep possession in the last 10 minutes. Wilshere wasn’t on for long enough to contribute too much to the game.
This is apparently the 3rd time that we have gone into the final day of the season still fighting with Spurs for the last of the Champions League places.
The” lasagne-gate” incident in 2006 is unlikely to be forgotten by Spurs fans for a short while, but last season Spurs did actually finish in the top 4 and then lost their Champions League place when Chelsea became European Champions. Here’s hoping that this time it isn’t 3rd time lucky for Tottenham.
Newcastle have already secured their place in the Premier League next season with a win over QPR last week, so as far as Alan Pardew is concerned the pressure is off. Whether this will work to our advantage remains to be seen. On the one hand the players could already have their minds already on holiday. On the other hand, they could be further encouraged to go out on a high against their home crowd. However, one thing is for sure; if we are 4-0 up at half time then we should be high and dry. No team can come back from 4-0 down after 45 minutes, especially not Newcastle at St James Park.
It will be interesting to see what happens if we do end up finishing the season in 5th. Many people speculate that the reason that Arsene Wenger still has a job after so long without a trophy is that the Arsenal board see the financial benefits of Champions League football as a trophy in itself. 5th place would not only be a big financial blow but would also be extremely detrimental to our plans to bring in some big-name signings in the summer.
Potential play-off for 3rd place?
As I said in my longer team news article, this actually might not be our last game of the season depending on our result and the result of Chelsea vs Everton. If we win 2-1 and Chelsea draw 0-0 then we will be level on goal difference and goals scored. Premier League rules state that there would then be 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. The FA has now confirmed that the game will be played at Villa Park on Sunday 26th May. That said, I don’t think that a play-off is particularly likely. In fact, I can actually see Everton beating Chelsea. It’s David Moyes last game in charge before he moves to Manchester United and the players will know how special the occasion is.
In stark contrast, Newcastle have the biggest injury list in the Premier League.Cheick Tiote (hamstring), Davide Santon (hamstring) and Steven Taylor (illness) are all major doubts, while Moussa Sissoko (knee) Massaido Haidara (hamstring), Ryan Taylor (ACL), Haris Vuckic (ACL), Tim Krul (dislocated shoulder) and Shola Ameobi (knee) are all out.
Predicted Starting XI
Mikel Arteta will most likely be replaced by Jack Wilshere, who will play alongside Aaron Ramsey. The only question will be whether they have Cazorla or Rosicky in front of them. It all depends on whether Wenger wants to bring Olivier Giroud into the team and which of Podolski or Rosicky makes way. I see no need for any defensive changes from the team that played against Wigan.
Newcastle 1-2 Arsenal Get ready for a tough game with plenty of suspense. Gooners will have one eye on this game and one on the game between Spurs and Sunderland, but Arsenal haven’t let us down in the past and I see no reason why that should start this afternoon.
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.