So the big news yesterday (besides the Special One’s return to Chelsea) was that Neves Denilson has cancelled his contract with Arsenal by mutual consent. Having spent the last 2 years on loan at Sao Paulo, and with only a year left on his current Arsenal contract, the Brazilian midfielder wanted out and Arsenal were probably happy to let him go so that they could clear some more space on their wage bill.
Denilson’s agent spoke to Sky Sports and confirmed the news, pointing out that his client has a number of clubs (both in Brazil & in Europe) interested in acquiring his services:
“I can confirm Denilson and Arsenal have agreed to terminate his contract at the end of this month. Denilson is free to move to another club and a number of clubs are interested in him.
“I do not want to name teams, but there is interest from Brazil as well as Russia, Italy, Germany and Turkey and I am talking to them. No decision has been made and we will assess all offers that come our way.
“If Denilson does stay in Brazil, Sao Paulo has the priority, but I do not rule out him moving to another Brazilian club as well.”
The big question now is where do Arsenal stand in terms of players leaving this summer. We need to lose some of the dead weight (- and I use those words more lightly in some cases than in othres) who are taking up space on the wage bill. The exits of Sebastian Squillaci and Andrey Arshavin have already been confirmed, while it looks to me like both Emmanuel Frimpong and Lukasz Fabianski will also leave when their contracts are up in just under a month’s time. There were also a fair few players from the reserves and emerging from the academy who were cut in the last few weeks. Then we have the issue of players like Bendtner, Chamakh, Gervinho, Park Chu Young, Djourou, Andre Santos and maybe Coquelin. Park Chy Young was the biggest waste of money I have seen in a long time, even if he did bring in a few Asian supporters and shirt sales.
Emmanuel Frimpong made 14 appearances for the club in the 2011/12 season, but just did not quite suit the Arsenal playing style. He has since had three loan spells at Wolves, Charlton and Fulham, so it’s hardly a surprise that Arsenal are not renewing his contract. That Fabianski is leaving can only mean that we are bringing in a new keeper. Lukasz was given some opportunities to prove his worth at the end of the season and I thought that he did quite well. Either Arsenal simply didn’t offer him a new contract or he wanted to move to another club for more game time. I am sure that we will find out which very soon. It looks like the incoming keeper in question could be Julio Cesar, who would provide good experience and competition for Szczesny, but we have also being linked with Asmir Begovic, Iker Casillas, Victor Valdez and Thomas Sorensen this summer.
In one of a number of Arsenal transfer stories that just keep reappearing this summer (Higuain and Jovetic in particular come to mind), the Victor Wanyama story has been gaining some momentum again over the last few days. The Scottish Sun ( – I didn’t even know there was a different version of the Sun just for Scotland!) posted an article saying that we were going to try and sign the Celtic star for £10 million, and Aaron Ramsey has admitted in an interview that Wanyama would be a welcome addition to the Arsenal squad.
“I don’t have a say on who joins us at the Emirates but if at all Arsenal get to sign Victor (Wanyama), I will be the first to welcome him.
“I have watched him play for Celtic, I watched him score against Barcelona and I think he is a great player. Whether he will join us is for other people to decide.
“His name has been all over the British press. He is one player I have read many clubs in England are chasing and I have no doubt he has great talent if top clubs in England are interested in him.”
We all know that Arsenal need to sign a defensive midfielder in the summer. Mikel Arteta has been picking up some niggling injuries and cannot be relied upon to play every game next season, Abou Diaby is out until 2014 (or 2015 or 2016…), and Francis Coquelin doesn’t play. I like Aaron Ramsey in the holding/box-to-box midfield role, and I would love to see Wilshere there alongside him on a more regular basis, but we need somebody else more defensive to protect the back four in slightly more physical games. Wanyama could be that man. He has been a fantastic addition to Neil Lennon’s squad since joining 2 years ago, and has contributed a fair few goals for a defensive mid. His one against Barcelona was probably the stand out. While we’re at it, I wouldn’t mind stealing Gary Hooper too! 82 goals in 137 games isn’t half bad.
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.
Below are my Arsenal player ratings for the game. Feel free to agree or disagree in the comments section below and please remember to like us on Facebook.
For whatever reason, it took until the 80th minute for Arsenal to really hit full throttle and really push for those three vital points. It may have been a slightly controversial penalty, but Norwich should not have had the free kick that led to their goal so I guess we are even.
Arsenal Player Ratings:
Fabianski – 7 Not much he could do to keep out Michael Turner’s header, but made a good save in the dying moments to keep us in the game. Has done quite well in recent weeks as he looks to show why he deserves to keep his place in the team ahead of Szczesny.
Sagna – 6 Had a decent game defensively, and although he did get forward he really needs to work on his crossing if he wants to make more of an attacking contribution. He had one decent cross for Giroud’s header, which hit the bar. Was substituted for Oxlade-Chamberlain with 10 minutes left as we look to push for the win.
Vermaelen – 7 A good performance from our captain, who has spent the last few games on the sidelines. Maybe has to take some of the blame for poor marking for Turner’s goal. Not sure whether he will play on Tuesday against Everton with Mertesacker back from suspension.
Koscielny – 7 Like Vermaelen, his positioning was good and he made some good interceptions, but allowed Turner too much space for the header from the free kick.
Gibbs – 6.5 His crossing was a bit off and he really struggled to deal with the aerial threat of Kamara, but otherwise an ok game.
Arteta – 7 Capped off a cool and composed performance with a well-taken penalty. Take note Adebayor – that’s how you take a penalty! He was, as usual, the best passer of the ball and made more touches than any other player.
Wilshere – 5 Not the performance that we expected from Jack after 6 weeks or so on the sidelines and was quite rightly substituted for Walcott with half an hour remaining. I think that he was just lacking in match fitness and maybe would not have started if Rosicky had been fit.
Ramsey – 8 My MOTM.Aaron has an incredible work rate and is always tracking back when necessary. He made some great tackles and was one of the only players to put in much effort in the first half. I really like him in the midfield alongside Arteta. He has really come into his own while Jack was out.
Gervinho – 5 A typical performance of Gervinho pre-African Cup of Nations. Had the best chance of the game after 29 minutes when he took the ball round the keeper, but his touch was too heavy and the chance was wasted. There were a few other good opportunities which he wasted. Substituted for Podolski with half an hour left.
Cazorla – 7 He didn’t look particularly comfortable on the left-hand-side and kept drifting in towards the middle where he wanted to play. Like Arteta, a nice and tidy performance but nothing spectacular on the Santi Scale.
Giroud – 6.5 Hit the bar with a header from Sagna’s cross in 23rd minute, but was otherwise very anonymous in the first half. Finally came into the game with about 15-20 minutes remaining, won the penalty and scored a few minutes later. I am not sure whether it will be credited as Giroud’s goal or if Sebastian Bassong actually got the last touch. It’s difficult to tell and one for the dubious goals pannel at the end of the season.
Podolski – 7 Hit the bar with a thunderous effort from close range which, on closer inspection, turned out to be a fantastic save from Mark Bunn. Played a nice 1-2 with Oxlade-Chamberlain for the second goal and scored the third to seal the win with a minute remaining.
Walcott – 6.5 Made some great runs in behind the Norwich defence and set up Podolski’s goal.
Oxe – 7 A fantastic assist for Giroud/Bassong’s goal with a great run, a nice 1-2 with Podolski and low whipped cross across the box.
* All of the substitutes played an important part in the win. Credit has to go to Wenger, who clearly realised that something was wrong and made the necessary changes, including taking off Sagna for AOC. I don’t normally agree with all of Wenger’s changes but yesterday they were spot on.
Following our 4-1 win over Reading on the weekend, Arsene Wenger says that he is confident of a top-four finish and securing Champions League football for the 16th consecutive season.
Based on the fixture list for the Premier League run-in, I have to say that I definitely agree. We have arguably the easiest run-in, while Chelsea and Spurs are both still involved in other Cup competitions.
I am aware that Arsenal still have to play Everton and United, but both games are at home and we should be aiming to take maximum points from the other remaining fixtures against West Brom, Norwich, Fulham, QPR, Wigan and Newcastle. Four of these teams are very much in the relegation battle and West Brom, currently in 8th, have had very mixed form since the New Year (W3 D3 L7). In my opinion, the Baggies are only that high up the table because they started the season so well.
Spurs and Chelsea both have a busy run-in. They have mid-week Europa league matches plus Chelsea are now through to the FA Cup semi finals against Manchester City. They could both get further in Europe. While I admit that I would like to see Arsenal progress a bit further next season in the cup competitions, you cannot deny that having a week’s rest between fixtures is a huge benefit (- except for the Everton game which is played on Tuesday). When Rafa Benitez tried to rest some of Chelsea’s key players on Saturday they lost 2-1 away to Southampton.
Whether you agree or disagree with me, leave your thoughts in the comments section below.
“Jack (ankle) is still out and Theo is still out because he has a little groin problem. For this weekend he will be short. He is progressing very well but will not be involved on Saturday. It is one week, basically the next game, for Theo. Jack will start to run again outside next week but it might make two weeks for him – on Monday next week he will have been out for four weeks.”
“We have a little problem with Diaby but I cannot tell you more. But he is out for the weekend.”
“Gibbs is sick and in bed. I don’t know if he’ll be involved or not. At the moment we don’t know. We haven’t seen him in the last three days.”
“He is back here. It is long-term for him.”
Lukasz Podolski & Bacary Sagna
“They are available.”
Losing Theo and Jack at this stage of the season is a big blow, but luckily they both should be back in time to play Manchester United and Everton. We have Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (or Gervinho…) to cover for Walcott, and Rosicky or Ramsey in midfield for Wilshere. Rosicky has been out of favor in recent weeks, so I would imagine Aaron Ramsey will sit in alongside Mikel Arteta, with Cazorla just in front and Podolski/The Ox on the wings. That should be good enough to beat Reading and Norwich! Nacho Monreal will step in for Gibbs so no problems there.
The message from Wednesday night is very clear. Nobody is untouchable. Although I was surprised that both Vermaelen and Szczesny were left out of the team to play Bayern Munich (indeed, Szczesny was left out of the squad all together), it was a bold decision by Wenger that ultimately paid off.
The decision to leave Szczesny and the Verminator out has lead to all sorts of media speculation that they are leaving the club in the summer. However, I am pretty sure that Wenger just did it to prove a point and teach them a lesson.
Thomas Vermaelen needs to be reminded that being captain doesn’t mean that he gets picked week-in, week-out regardless of form. Koscielny & Mertesacker proved to be a good defensive partnership against Bayern Munich as they looked to show why they should be our first-choice centre-backs for the rest of the season. Vermaelen has made a lot if mistakes in recent weeks and is nowhere near the fantastic form he showed in his first season at Arsenal. I am not saying that he needs to be dropped altogether, but a few games out won’t do him too much harm. I also think that Wenger needs to seriously reconsider the captaincy next season, because the Belgian doesn’t do it for me. He is not vocal enough and is somewhat lacking the passion that we have seen in previous years.
In my opinion, Szczesny was never supposed to be the clear No.1. Despite the number on the back of his shirt, Wenger’s comments after the game (that he has seen “a complete mental transformation in Lukasz’s attitude”) would suggest that Fabianski could get a run of games. Also remember that Vito Mannone played 13 games at the beginning of the season when the others were injured. The problem is that we have 3 good (but definitely not world class!) keepers of roughly similar ages. All three have potential but also a lot to learn. However, there is nobody older/more experienced to learn from. Maybe Wenger should consider buying an older, experienced keeper who will retire in a few years to teach the ones we already have. He will probably have to let one of the three go though.
My predicted starting XI only features one change from the team that won against Bayern on Wednesday, with Nacho Monreal in for Kieran Gibbs. Other than that I think that the players on Wednesday proved their worth and should be given another chance to put in a great performance at the Liberty stadium. Also, I thought that it worked really well with 2 defensive midfielders. The change in tactics made a big difference to our game and meant that we really restricted Bayern’s play going forward.
With this years Champions League campaign now well and truly over, Arsenal’s only focus will be on ensuring that we make the most of the 10 remaining league games that ultimately decide whether or not we return to Europe’s elite competition next season.
Despite going out of the competition, the team showed the “mental toughness” that Wenger talks about so often. The performance against Bayern should give us some much-needed confidence and will hopefully prove to be a turning point in what has been a torrid season so far.
Swansea away is never an easy fixture. The Swans haven’t lost at the Liberty Stadium since the beginning of December and will be looking for their 4th consecutive home win. Manchester Untied, Chelsea and Liverpool have all failed to win in Wales, but I am sure that we can be the team to buck the trend.
We play before both Spurs and Chelsea, so it is important that we let them know before they play on Sunday that we are right behind them. Who knows, maybe one of them will slip up?
Arsene Wenger has confirmed that Kieran Gibbs is set be rested as a precaution after returning to action against Bayern in midweek, but Nacho Monreal is available after being cup-tied in the Champions League. Wojciech Szczesny and Thomas Vermaelen were both rested for the Bayern game and may feature, but Jack Wilshere (ankle), Lukas Podolski (ankle) and Bacary Sagna (knee) are all out.
Leon Britton (hip) and Luke Moore (calf) both face late fitness tests. Chico Flores (ankle) and Kemy Agustien (thigh) are both out, but left-back Neil Taylor could return after a long period on the sidelines with a broken/dislocated ankle.
Arsenal have conceded only 13 away goals this season, the joint fewest in the Premier League with Manchester City. Swansea have conceded 19 home goals – the joint worst defensive record in the top half of the Premier League table along with, um, us…
Expect goals. Arsenal have scored in each of the last 7 away games, while Swansea have scored in each of their last 7 home games.
Expect late goals. In the three matches that we have played against Swansea this season, six of the seven goals have been scored after the 81st minute.
Swansea 1-3 Arsenal The team played fantastically against Bayern and will be full of confidence going into the game. We may be missing Wilshere and Podolski, but we still our little Mozart in Tomas Rosicky and the magician that is Santi Cazorla.
Arsene Wenger has revealed the latest team news following our 2-0 win over Bayern Munich and ahead of our Premier League game against Swansea.
If Arsenal can play anything like we did on Wednesday night then I am sure that we will come away with the result that we need. Jack Wilshere’s injury is particularly worrying, but Tomas Rosicky (or Abou Diaby) can cover and then we have a 2-week break until we play Reading because of the World Cup qualifiers.
Bacary Sagna, Lukasz Podolski & Jack Wilshere:
“Sagna and Podolski will not be back. And Wilshere, as we know, is out as well. So the only one who will come back is Monreal because he was not qualified for the Champions League.”
“I think he will be out on Saturday. He had a little reaction on his thigh. He is not injured but we have to be cautious with it. He might be out.”
The squad after the Bayern game:
“Apart from that everyone who played [at Bayern] should be OK. There are bumps and bruises after a game of that intensity but that should be it.”
Earlier in the week Wenger confirmed that Wilshere will be out for around 3 weekswith an ankle injury. Last summer Jack had surgery on his left ankle, and Wenger says that he has been compensating by putting extra pressure on the right ankle in order to protect the left one. However, three weeks never means three weeks with Arsenal, and there are many on Twitter who are suggesting that Jack might not feature again this season.
Arsenal.com have revealed the Arsenal starting XI and substitutes that will take on Bayern Munich in around 45 minutes time.
Contrary to media speculation, Cazorla, Walcott & Mertesacker all start. However, I would like to thank Piers Morgan and Gary Lineker for massively jumping the gun and having a dig at Wenger for resting players. Apart from Szczesny, all of the other players left out of the squad (Podolski, Wilshere & Sagna) are missing through injury.
The team is almost exactly the team that I would have chosen given injuries. A bit surprised that Vermaelen has been left out, but he has been in rather poor form recently so I guess it makes sense. Captain or not, his performances have not been up to scratch.