This article is essentially a short summary of some the biggest Arsenal transfer stories of the day (- or the last few days). There are 5 big, and more importantly credible, stories that seem to be doing the rounds at the moment. There are a few transfers in that didn’t happen and some players who look to be on their way out of the Emirates.
“We’ve struck a deal with Arsenal, I’m glad to say but unfortunately our registration went through too late and they’ve refused to allow him to be available for selection tomorrow (against Manchester United).
“I think that will be it in terms of strikers. We’re due to get Andy Carroll back (to fitness) so we should be okay.”
Johan Djourou & Sebastian Squillaci Speaking in his Swansea pre-match press conference, Arsene Wenger confirmed that Johan Djourou and Sebastian Squillaci could be on their way out of the Emirates during the transfer window. Djourou has made only 2 appearances this season and Squillaci has played once. With Vermaelen, Koscielny and Mertesacker all showing good form, Djourou is unlikely to get any game time unless there was a serious injury. Squillaci hasn’t been in the team for a long time.
“Squillaci, if he finds a club, he will certainly go. Djourou might go somewhere as well, that will be decided in the next 48 to 72 hours.”
“We are interested in the services of Johan Djourou, we are also in detailed talks with the player and his club,
“Johan Djourou has told us during those talks he is willing to just accept a deal to bring him over to our club.”
Players in Missed opportunities:
Demba Ba Chelsea have completed the signing of Demba Ba from Newcastle on a three-and-a-half-year contract. Ba had been heavily linked with a move to Arsenal, but contract negotiations with Chelsea began earlier this week and the signing was confirmed on the club website this morning.
Speaking to Arsenal.com, Arsene Wenger confirmed that there was interest in signing Ba, but that he had to choose between Ba and Giroud over the summer because they are similar types of players:
“I like Demba Ba personally, he is a similar type to Giroud who we just bought. It was one or the other one.”
Lewis Holtby Earlier this afternoon, Sky Sports News was quoting Wenger as saying that Arsenal are monitoring FC Schalke attacking midfielder Lewis Holtby. Spurs were also registering their interest Holtby, but Schalke were denying any contact with Premier League clubs and insisting that Holtby would still be a member of their squad at the end of the season.
“We have looked at Holtby, and have played against him.
“Our scouts are kept on alert and the quality of the scouting is linked with that.”
Just over an hour ago it was confirmed that Spurs have signed Holtby on a pre-contract for a Bosman free transfer. Holtby’s contract with Schalke is up at the end of the season and he was free to negotiate with other clubs if he didn’t move from Germany in the winter window. He will join up with Spurs in July.
The news from the transfer window so far seems to be mixed. On the plus side, we are slowly getting rid of some of the under-used players and balancing the wage bill, giving us the potential to bring in replacement players later in the month. On the downside, our rivals seem to be strengthening with players that we have been linked with. Demba Ba could have been a good addition at the Emirates and Lewis Holtby is a good player, although we have an abundance of creative midfielders already. There are also reports that Manchester United are set to beat us to the signing of Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha. There is not much news on the potential signing of 17-year-old Southampton left-back Luke Shaw, but we will keep you informed if there are any changes.
Johan Djourou’s agent has confirmed that Arsenal have received an offer of €10 million for the Switzerland international, who is considering his options after falling down Arsène Wenger’s pecking order. Djourou started only 14 Premier League games last season and recently admitted that he was considering moving clubs in order to guarantee more game time.
Speaking to Italian radio station Radio Crc, Flavio Ferraria said that his client would prefer to move to Italy but would also consider playing in Spain. Napoli are the club that are being heavily linked with a move for the 25-year-old, while there were also rumours last week that West Ham manager Sam Allardyce is monitoring his situation.
“Can Djourou join Napoli? It’s certainly possible, especially as we will be in Italy next week for a series of appointments.
“At the moment Napoli are not on the list of appointments, but everything is possible. If he leaves the Premier League, then he will play in Italy or Spain.
“I saw my client the other day and he was enthusiastic about both Napoli and Italy in general. So far we have received an offer worth €10m, but it is up for negotiation.
“He wants to play for one of the top five Italian clubs.”
The fact that Djourou wants out is hardly surprising; he barely featured for Arsenal last season and when he did it was often out of position. With Mertesacker back from injury and Vermaelen/Koscielny ever present in the starting XI, Johan would hardly get a game next season. I am sure that he would be perfectly competent in Italy, but he is simply not suited to playing week-in, week-out in the Premier League.
Arsène Wenger has given a comprehensive injury update in his press conference ahead of our Premier League match at Bolton this evening.
Thierry Henry and Mikel Arteta are both fighting fit (they both featured against Aston Villa on Sunday afternoon), but Wenger is unsure whether Bacary Sagna will is fit enough to play a significant part in the match.
“He had a normal training session yesterday [Tuesday morning].
“He is still short to play now but it is good news to have him back and I think one or two more weeks practice will get him back to being available again. That is very positive.”
“He is in the squad. Sagna is a bit ahead of Kieran Gibbs training-wise. Sagna is a bit early still but you never know. I might consider it because I have to check all the recoveries of the players who played on Sunday.”
“Johan was back in full training today so he is available.”
Thierry henry/Mikel Arteta
“They are both ready.”
“We have no injuries [since Sunday]. But it was a very demanding game physically against Villa on Sunday and it is important that we recover and prepare well for tomorrow night.”
Arsène Wenger has given an injury update in his pre-match conference ahead of our game against Wolves on December 27th. The game was originally scheduled for Boxing Day, but had to be pushed back because of tube strikes in central London.
Johan Djourou has a little chance of returning to the squad, but Kieran Gibbs has suffered a further setback in his rehabilitation and is sidelined for another month.
Wenger also set the end of January as a realistic date for the return of Bacary Sagna.
Kieran Gibbs/Johan Djourou
“Johan Djourou has a little chance to come back for the Wolves game. Apart from that nobody got injured the other night against Aston Villa but we had bad news yesterday for Kieran Gibbs, who had surgery on his left groin. He will be out for a month.
“It was a blow but first what is important is that if he cannot play you have to make the decision that we had to make and arrange surgery for him. Hopefully it will only be one month because Santos will not come back before March.”
“You could see that he’s a bit ahead of schedule. We have to [be careful] but physically he will be ready very quickly because he worked very hard in the gym. We think the end of January is a reasonable target for him.”
Speaking in his pre-match conference ahead of our match against Aston Villa tomorrow evening, Arsène Wenger has revealed all the latest team news.
The big news is that Kieran Gibbs has suffered an injury setback and will not be available. I honestly did not see see that coming! Huge surprise.
Wenger also revealed that Ryo Miyaichi has returned to full training, although as far as I am concerned, this is almost completely irrelevant because he doesn’t play anyway…
“Kieran Gibbs has unfortunately had a setback and he is not back yet. It’s very disappointing because we had good hope that he would be back for tomorrow’s game, but he is not available.”
“He is out for tomorrow’s game, he has a mild groin strain. [Three weeks] is what we fear, yes.”
“Ryo is joining in normal training on Friday, so he is completely back from injury.”
“We have good news on Sagna because he has started to run again yesterday and today.”
“He has already practiced today and should be available for next week.”
We have also lost Alex Song through suspension (he picked up his 5th yellow card in the Premier League this season against Manchester City). However, Song is only suspended for one game, and I am sure that Frimpong or Coquelin are more than capable of replacing him at Villa Park.
Szczesny – 6 Yet another game where Wojceich didn’t keep a clean sheet despite a good performance. There was not a lot that he could do for the Crouch goal, although he did take a huge gamble by over-playing outside of his area (when it looked like Djourou had the situation under control).
Djourou – 6 A decent performance considering he was playing out of position, but his crossing needs a lot of work.
Mertesacker – 7 Mertesacker’s performances are improving with every game and he looked extremely comfortable when dealing with the Stoke attack. However, the German lost concentration and did not track Peter Crouch’s run as the striker scored Stoke’s goal from a set-piece.
Koscielny – 7 .5– Dealt with Stoke’s ariel threat relatively well, and (despite the decision that was given) did not foul Crouch for the free-kick that led to the equaliser. Koscielny is increasing in confidence with every game and could become one of the stand-out central defenders in the Premier League with a bit of work.
Santos – 6.5 Not an outstanding performance, but he did everything that was required. His defending was better than it has been in previous games and he was always looking to make overlapping attacking runs.
Song – 7 Our makeshift captain had a relatively quiet game. He made a few mistakes and lost the ball on a few occasions, but remained defensively solid as in mid-week.
Ramsey – 7.5 Played two fantastic chipped through-balls (one of which was an assist for Gervinho’s opener) and also had a few efforts on goal himself in the first-half. His performance levels dropped a bit in the second half, but he has put in some strong performances in recent weeks and seems to be hitting good form at the perfect time.
Arteta – 7 Wasn’t as creative as I would have hoped, but gave good defensive cover and had a relatively good game. Mikel should develop into a fantastic midfielder if given a bit of time. Wenger clearly has a lot of faith in him; He has started all of our Premier League games so far this season.
Walcott – 5.5 A typical performance from our Theo. Made a few good runs, but his crossing was poor and he didn’t link particularly well with Chamakh. It was no wonder that he was substituted for Arshavin with 20 minutes remaining.
Gervinho – 8 Scored the opener and set-up both of Robin van Persie’s goals in the second half. Gervinho was involved in almost every attacking play and had a fantastic game where he really showed his true quality in front of the home fans.
Chamakh – 4.5 You know that Chamakh is useless when he leaves you wondering why Wenger sent Bendtner out on loan. Didn’t make anything of the several opportunities that he was gifted in the first-half, and was suitably substituted with half-an-hour to go.
Van Persie – 8.5 MOTM Robin scored two goals in the half-an-hour that he played, showing that Wenger really can’t afford to leave him on the bench in the Premier League. It would have been more suitable to rest him vs Bolton tomorrow evening. RvP did more in his first 5 minutes than Chamakh did in 65.
Arshavin – 6.5 A decent performance from Andrey. He made some good runs with the ball glued to his feet, and created a lot of space for the likes of Ramsey and Gervinho.
Frimpong – n/a Frimpong was only on for a few minutes to give Gervinho the standing ovation that he deserved.
Robin van Persie came off the bench to score twice and salvage victory against a Stoke side that came to the Emirates looking for all three points.
Gervinho opened the scoring in the 27th minute with a calm and composed finish from Aaron Ramsey’s chipped through-ball, but Peter Crouch equalised only 7 minutes later from a free-kick that shouldn’t have been given.
That Stoke’s goal came from a set-piece is not a big surprise. We have one of the worst records in the league at defending set pieces, and Stoke have one of the best at converting them. It wasn’t a free-kick – Laurent Koscielny did not foul Peter Crouch – but I’m not going to make a huge deal about it because we won the match in the end.
In my opinion, Wenger took a huge gamble by not starting Van Persie (especially considering that he could be rested vs Bolton in the Carling Cup on Tuesday evening). With 66 minutes played, and the score level at 1-1, Wenger knew that the crowd would not forgive him if he didn’t make the necessary substitution.
Marouane Chamakah gave yet another lackluster performance, but RvP showed exactly why it is impossible to leave him out of the team. He is the one world-class player that holds the whole team together – I honestly don’t know what we would do without him. Van Persie took just 6 minutes to find the back of the net, following Gervinho’s strong run and cut-back, and the pair linked again for RvP’s second less than 10 minutes later.
We now sit 4th in the Premier League form table, with 12 points from our last 6 Premier League games, and are on a 5-game winning streak at the Emirates. Our Dutch maestro has now scored 30 goals in 36 games in 2011, but does not seem to be any closer to signing a new contract. Theo Walcott has said that he will sit down and negotiate a new deal, but RvP has remained relatively quiet.
If I am completely honest, I think that our captain will leave in the summer. He has already said that he won’t move in January and that he will discuss his Arsenal future at the end of the season. Unless we win a major trophy, I don’t think that it will be possible to keep hold of him given his current form. Even if we do secure a top-4 finish, Robin needs to be at a club that will give him silverware.
All in all, it has been a good weekend for Arsenal. Liverpool drew, Chelsea lost, and United got destroyed by City. Chelsea will now be without José Bosingwa and Didier Drogba when we travel to Stamford Bridge next weekend, although whether that will make enough of a difference remains to be seen.
Arsenal currently sit 11th in the Premier League table, with Stoke occupying 8th.
A win this afternoon should be enough to push us up to 7th (which shows you just how congested the middle of the table is at this stage of the season).
Tony Pulis’s side won 3-0 against Macabi Tel-Aviv in the Europa League in mid-week and will be relishing the opportunity to cause an upset at the Emirates.
Our home form has been relatively solid recently – we have picked up 9 of a possible 12 points from games at the Emirates this season – and Wenger will be hoping that the team show the level of determination that we saw vs Sunderland last weekend.
Carl Jenkinson was substituted early on the second-half of our Champions League game against Marseille on Wednesday evening, and will miss the next two weeks with a minor knee injury.
“It is a minor injury but he is out for two weeks. He will miss the next two games, that means Stoke and Bolton. He has a little chance for Chelsea.”
Kieran Gibbs is out for around two weeks with a stomach muscle strain which he picked up in our win over Sunderland a week ago.
Thomas Vermaelen and Abou Diaby (ankle) are both expected to return to the squad within the next few weeks whilst Bacary Sagna and Jack Wilshere remain our only long-term injuries.
Jermaine Pennant (who always poses a huge threat with his fantastic crossing ability) is suffering from a hamstring problem but may feature depending on the results of a late fitness test.
Danny Higginbotham could also feature following a few successful games with reserves, with Ricardo Fuller (achilles tendinopathy) Stoke’s only player suffering from long-term injury.
The last time that Stoke won at Arsenal was 30 years ago, on the opening day of the 1981/82 season.
Should we win, it will be out 50th win against Stoke in 94 competitive games.
The last draw between the two clubs came in the League Cup on October 23rd 1996 (15 years ago yesterday).
Arsene Wenger has suggested that he may leave Robin van Persie out of the starting XI for tomorrow’s Premier League game against Stoke. Despite scoring 27 goals in 35 games, Wenger concedes that RvP needs to be given some time to rest and recuperate.
Leaving RvP out vs Stoke leaves us significantly short of attacking options. Carlos Vela and Nicklas Bendtner are both out on loan, Park Chu-Young is yet to play in the Premier League, and Marouane Chamakh has hardly been in the most sensational form in recent weeks (or months).
This can hardly be an easy decision for Wenger to make, but you would imagine that he will start with Chamakh and have RvP on the bench. Leaving our star striker out completely would be a huge mistake.
‘It is always a difficult decision to make to rest Van Persie, but I will have to do it [at some point].
“Robin’s scored 27 goals in 35 games, so you always have that dilemma. But as well you know, you cannot continue like that.
“We will assess everybody on Saturday morning, then I make the decision for Sunday. I will have to rotate a little bit.”
Another area where Wenger will be forced to make some changes is defence. Vermaelen, Gibbs, Sagna and Jenkinson are all injured, so Wenger will have to play a bit of a make-shift back four. Johan Djourou played at right-back following the injury to Jenkinson in Marseille, and the Swiss international admits that if he is picked then he is happy to continue out of position.
“I am a centre-back first, but I love my game, I love playing football and when I can play, it’s a relief.
“So if I have to play right back to help the team, then I will do it. It worked out against Marseille because I played the final ball for the goal.
“Obviously it’s tough for Carl and Bacary, but I’ve played there before. I played there in 2008 in games against Portsmouth and Bolton, so I’ve played a few times there. I just want to play football.”
Full match preview and injury news/team and score prediction to follow.