1) Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Lukas Podolski missed the game through illness. There were no other details given, although I am sure that Arsene Wenger will give us an update in his West Ham pre-match press conference. There is no way of knowing at this point whether they will be available on Wednesday night.
2) Arsenal had a strong starting XI, but the bench left much to be desired. Injuries to Arteta and Rosicky (and the aforementioned AOC & Pod missing) meant that we were not left with a particularly influential bench. Wenger could not really change things on the attacking front, aside from bringing on Arshavin or Ramsey.
3) Yet again, Arsenal were guilty of starting very poorly. Some of the players need to realise that the first 45 minutes count too! The defenders were all over the place and the midfielders didn’t press or track runs. Chelsea were allowed too much of the ball and made the most of some quick build-up play between Hazard, Oscar and Mata. Abou Diaby and Coquelin were particularly guilty of giving the ball away in midfield.
4) Bacary Sagna was once again very poor. Sagna’s positioning for both goals was extremely suspect and he does not provide Walcott with enough support. This is not just a one-off; it has been going on for a number of weeks. I am wondering how long it will be before Carl Jenkinson will be given another chance to show what he is capable of.
5) Olivier Giroud continues to frustrate [me, at least]. There were a number of missed opportunities, including the chance to put us in the lead only a few minutes in. He lashed Walcott’s through-ball wide. His headers were almost all off target and I am just not convinced that he has what it takes to play in the Arsenal team week-in, week-out. Olivier continues to divide opinion amongst arsenal fans. I am not sure that he is all that.
6) Our corners were absolutely terrible and provided nothing but a chance for Chelsea to hit us on the counter-attack. The balls in from Walcott were really poor, and it’s not like we are lacking in height. Mertesacker, Giroud and Diaby are all pretty tall. Our free kicks were not much better. Luckily, Chelsea’s corners were also pretty poor.
7) Jack Wilshere was left very frustrated. You could see Wilshere shouting, trying to get other players to close down, especially in the first half. He is one of our most vocal players and that is why he is so important. He tries to motivate others when we are looking a little flat.
8) For all Chelsea’s possession and shots in first half, the two goals we conceded were very unlucky. Ramires was the centre of both controversial (if I can use that word) incidents. He committed a foul on Coquelin in the build-up to Mata’s goal and then fell over a bit too easily & conveniently for Chelsea’s penalty.
9) Arsenal are definitely suffering from “Second Half Syndrome”. As bad as our first-half performance was, our second half performance was fantastic. However, it was too little too late. If only we could play like that for the whole game. We closed down well, made good runs, and the passing was miles better.
10) Theo Walcott got the goal he needed to silence his critics. Like with Giroud, Walcott’s new contract seems to be dividing opinions amongst Arsenal fans. Is he worth 95k or 100k a week? Well, if he can score 20 goals a season then I would say definitely. His finish was cool and composed. He could have had more if he hadn’t been caught offside by Chelsea’s high line.
11) We have to beat West Ham. After losses to City and Chelsea, we cannot afford to drop more points. Liverpool is going to be a tough game given the form of Suarez and Sturridge. You also have to bear in mind that we are on the same number of points as the Reds (albeit with a game in hand).
1) We head to Stamford Bridge with a win and a bit of confidence. Chelsea drew 2-2 with Southampton and have a terrible home record under Benitez, so anything could happen on Sunday. We have been presented with a good opportunity to get our season back on track.
2) There were a lot of empty seats. As far as I am aware, it was one of the lowest attended games that we have had at the Emirates in a while. Maybe it was just because it’s cold, or maybe because we had failed to win in our last 3 games against Swansea. Either way, the atmosphere at the Emirates was still pretty good, especially in the second half.
3) Jack Wilshere thrives in the No.10 role. Wenger gave gave Jack the No.10 shirt and it definitely suited him to play in that hole between the midfield and the defence last night. Goalscoring is the only thing that is missing from his game, and we saw a bit of what he can do last night. His goal was fantastically taken and will hopefully give him the confidence to try his luck more often when he is in the right position.
“As a team we played well and he [Jack] was in a different position; he was high up and it suits him well. He is at the complete midfielder, he can play anywhere. He is a guy who can dribble and give a final ball, so the closer he is to goal, the better it is. He has quality and enthusiasm, and love for the game. That is the most important thing to me.
“You can always improve in every area – he himself questions [his goalscoring record]. The way he took the goal was fantastic, because he didn’t think too much. Sometimes you miss the chances when you have too much time. He took his chance in a spontaneous way. It’s good that he adds that to his game, because he gets in situations where you have to finish.”
4) Wenger believes in Giroud, despite his mini goal drought. Whether Wenger believes in Giroud enough to stop him buying another striker in the next few weeks remains to be seen. In my opinion, we need another striker. Don’t get me wrong – I like Giroud. His hold up play is good, he can be a real threat and he had an ok game last night. Unfortunately, he lacks consistency. I am just not sure that he is the player that can solve all of our problems. That said, his performance against Newcastle was outstanding.
“I believe in Giroud. He is a threat and he creates chances. Let’s first try to finish the deal with Walcott and then we see what we can do from there.”
5) Francis Coquelin played well in the absence of Mikel Arteta. I doubt that Coquelin will start against Chelsea, but his performance last night certainly won’t have done him any harm. With Lukas Podolski and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain rested, I imagine that Cazorla will move back into midfield for Sunday, with Diaby as the defensive midfielder.
6) Theo Walcott’s contract will be sorted out soon… It’s not like Wenger has been talking about it for a while.
“I hope it will be soon, very, very soon now. I cannot tell you much more.”
1) The Arsenal players underestimated Southampton. I am not sure whether putting 7 past Newcastle meant that the team thought that Southampton would be a stroll in the park, but the Arsenal players were extremely lackadaisical. Even though we had strung together four consecutive league victories at the end of 2012, I was not convinced at any point that we were going to take all 3 points against a team that started the afternoon in the relegation places.
2) Bacary Sagna was poor once again. Sagna had a poor game against Newcastle and an equally poor game yesterday afternoon. His passing was off, his crossing was not great, his defending was weak and he made a hideous hash of the clearance that led to Southampton’s goal.
3) There was very little for Podolski or Gibbs. The ball was always played down the right hand side with Oxlade-Chamberlain; Lukas Podolski barely had a touch, which is strange bearing in mind his impact against Newcastle. Podolski’s anonymity is not always just because he doesn’t impose himself on the game (sometimes he does, sometimes he doesn’t!), but also because he just doesn’t receive the ball.
4) Were we lucky to have got a draw? I am not sure that there was enough of a foul on Laurent Koscielny to deny Southampton a second goal. Originally I thought that it was given as offside, but apparently the linesman was flagging for a foul. I think we were a little bit lucky with that one.
5) Theo Walcott was extremely restricted in the centre. Like Podolski, he didn’t really get the ball and there wasn’t really enough movement. The Southampton defence played well and stopped Theo from making his usual runs. One thing that was very noticable is that he can’t hold up the ball the way that somebody like Giroud can.
6) As mentioned earlier, we won 4 and drew 1 in the Christmas period, which is still pretty good form. The only team above us in the Premier League form guide for the last 6 games is United. However, we appear to be running to keep still. Chelsea and Spurs have taken the same number of points (13) from the last 6 games, and Everton/Liverpool seem to be doing ok too.
7) We need 10 points from next 5 games to keep momentum, and we need to make signings. Hopefully the players will be more up for it against Chelsea, City and Liverpool (who we play in 3 of the next 4 games…). However, we definitely need a few signings in the January transfer window.
8) Speaking of signings, we saw Luke Shaw in action. The 17-year-old left-back is being heavily linked with a move to Arsenal, the idea being that Andre Santos would be on his way out. Whether or not this will happen remains to be seen, but bear in mind that Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain both also came from the Southampton academy.
1) Lukas Podolski missed the match at Goodison Park because he was “under the weather”. The club maintain that he is not ill and he should be in the squad to face Swansea on Saturday afternoon.
2) Theo Walcott scored his 10th goal of the season (- only 2 fewer than He Who Must Not Be Named at United) on his return to the starting line-up after missing the Villa game with a shoulder injury. Theo scored within the opening minute, but was slightly less effective in the second half. If we resign ourselves to the fact that he is leaving then I guess that the goal only bumps up his price if he does go in January. However, I think we would all like him to stay until at least the end of the season!
3) Maroune Fellaini also scored on his return to the Everton team. Fellaini missed Everton’s previous game against Norwich through suspension, having picked up 5 yellow cards already this season, but scored Everton’s equaliser on 18 minutes. Fellaini capitalised on some dodgy defending and curled a long-range past Sczcesny, who I think was unsighted.
4) Laurent Koscielny is out for several weeks with a muscular problem. Koscielny stretched awkwardly within the opening 5 minutes and was substituted for Kieran Gibbs, with Vermaelen moving to centre-back. We will keep you up to date with Koscielny’s injury (and a possible injury to Sagna) ahead of the Swansea game this weekend.
5) Misplaced passes really cost us. It was a misplaced pass that led to Everton’s equaliser and the team really seemed to lack any cohesion and fluidity. The game was a must win (we have now dropped to 7th in the league, behind Spurs and Everton and I don’t think that Wenger will be particularly happy with just a point. I noticed that Sagna in particular was responsible for quite a few dodgy defensive passes, but many of the other players were also to blame. We were very lucky that Everton weren’t able to capitalise on more of the misplaced passes between the back four and grab a win.
Arsenal travel to Everton tomorrow in what must be one of our most important matches at Goodison Park in recent seasons. Recent history in this fixture (see match stats, below) would suggest that we should be capable of taking all 3 points, but neither team is in fantastic form at the moment and this one could go either way.
Despite our hideous start to the season, the fact remains that we are only a point behind Everton and 5 points behind Chelsea. I guess that we just have to count ourselves lucky that the other teams around us have gone through equal patches of bad form. A win tomorrow would see us slowly claw our way back up the table into 5th place. However, there is also the possibility of dropping to 7th if we fail to equal or better Tottenham’s result.
After playing against us, Everton will take on Manchester City and Tottenham. The Toffees in dire need of a result and will really need to be on their A game tomorrow. The result against Arsenal will no doubt have a big mental impact on the Everton players and will affect confidence ahead of their trip to the Etihad.
Arsenal need to be ready for a tough and physically challenging game. In particular, it will be interesting to see how our small midfielders deal with somebody like Maroune Fellaini. As well as being physically imposing, Fellaini happens to be pretty good on the ball. I cannot stress enough the need to create space for Arteta and Cazorla to do their magic. When our two Spanish midfielders are shut out, Arsenal shut down. The good news is that we will have Wilshere back in the team ahead of Ramsey, which will definitely work in our favor.
Arsene Wenger is under no illusion that this game is going to be tough. Despite Everton’s poor run of form of late, they remain serious contenders for the Champions League places this season.
“They are always serious, Everton, because they can give anybody a game. I don’t think any big team in the league goes to Everton and thinks it will be a walk out there.
“For us it’s a vital game every year. They fight at the top of the league every year. They are one of the contenders for a Champions League spot as well.
“It is a period where we establish consistency. To go through with a positive result is very important.
“They have gone through a more difficult spell as well recently. It is just down to us and the quality of our performance.
Team news/Predicted Starting XI
Theo Walcott returns to the squad after missing our trip to Villa Parkwith a shoulder injury. There are no other injury concerns from the 0-0 draw. Given that we have a relatively clean bill of health, we should be able to field what I would argue is the strongest Arsenal starting XI, and still have a pretty strong bench.
Sagna, Vermaelen and Wilshere should all return to the starting line-up after being rested on Saturday. Click here for full team news, including the latest update on Tomas Rocisky.
Our recent defensive record may not be great, but the good news is that we are finally able to field a full-strength back four of Sagna-Mertesacker-Vermaelen-Gibbs sitting in front of Szczesny, who was fantastic against Villa. The midfield of Wilshere – Cazorla – Arteta pick themselves, while the front three is likely to be Walcott – Giroud – Podolski.
Everton have only one win in their last seven league games (W1,D5,L1) and have kept only one clean sheet in their last 10. Arsenal’s defensive record is half as bad, having kept 2 clean sheets in our last 10 league games.
Arsenal are unbeaten in their last 10 Premier League games against Everton (W8, D2) since we lost 1-0 at Goodison in 2007.
Despite all the defensive problems, Arsenal are the only team who have not conceded in the final 15 minutes of a Premier League match this season. We would sit 2nd in the second-half result table, behind Manchester United.
Everton’s two biggest defeats in the Premier League have come at the hands of Arsenal. A 6-1 defeat at Goodison Park on the opening day of the season in August 2009 and 7-0 loss at Highbury in May 2005.
1) Olivier Giroud put in his best performance for Arsenal so far. Giroud’s movement was great and he always looked as though he was in the mood. It’s just a shame that 1) he didn’t take the penalty and 2) his goals didn’t get us a win because defence weren’t up to very much. The Frenchman scored two great headers (the first one from a corner) and forced a great save out of Mark Schwarzer with a long-range effort late on. It is frustrating to see Arsenal do well offensively and so poor defensively. Our problem against Fulham had nothing to do with a lack of goals or creativity.
“Giroud had a very good game, he had presence and won the long balls. He is dangerous and starts to have belief in what he is doing. There were a lot of positives in his game today.”
2) Theo Walcott grabbed another 2 assists and showed once again how important he can be when he is given a start. Theo’s movement is great and he and Giroud are forming a very nice strike partnership. However, we now face a worrying wait to hear whether he will be fit for next week’s game against Spurs. Theo hobbled off with a muscle problem with about 5 minutes left and was replaced by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. He is unlikely to feature for England in midweek.
“Walcott has a glute muscle problem. We nearly took him off at half-time, he nearly went down, but we left him on. In the end, it got worse. At the moment, he is limping so I do not know whether he will be able to join the national team or not.”
3) Mikel Arteta badly needs a break. The first thing to mention is that he did get a nice assist for Lukas Podolski’s goal. However, there is no denying that in contrast to Giroud this was one of his worst performances in an Arsenal shirt. There is no questioning his commitment - he always give 100% – but he looks tired and is clearly starting to suffer the effects of starting 15 games already this season. Only Giroud has made more appearances for Arsenal this season (17), but 7 of these were as a substitute.
Arteta’s passing was off, he got caught in possession on several occasions and generally had a torrid time dealing with Brian Ruiz, who he brought down for a penalty on the half hour mark. After giving away the pen, Mikel played with his head down and should never have been allowed to step up for our last-minute penalty, which he missed. In my opinion, if Arteta is not on form then this could be one of the major contributors to our defensive problems; there is no proper defensive midfielder sitting in front of the back four to make the tough tackles and win the ball back.
4) Somebody else should have taken the penalty. I reakon that many Arsenal fans would have put money on us missing. Sometimes you just get the feeling that things are not going to go your way, and when Arteta stepped up I was not exactly filled with confidence. Bearing in mind that he was on a hattrick, and as the main striker, I thought that Giroud should have taken it. But as somebody pointed out in a comment that I read on another blog, the Frenchman took one against Coventry and missed. Santi Cazorla would have been a good option, or Lukas Podolski. Whatever the decision, Arteta should have been stopped. He was tired and not in the right mindset, having given the penalty away at the other end.
Speaking in a post-match interview, Arsene Wenger confirmed that Arteta is Arsenal’s No.1 penalty taker. After that it’s Cazorla. In his defence, Arteta has scored 10/11 of his most recent penalties, but sometimes it just isn’t your day.
“Cazorla is second on the list, the No 1 is Arteta. If he doesn’t take it it’s Cazorla, or if Arteta wants to leave it to Cazorla. Cazorla wanted to take the ball. Arteta is No 1 on the priority.”
5) Arsenal didn’t deserve a win. If we had scored the penalty, I would have been ecstatic (obviously), but it would have been a slight injustice. Fulham played well and Arsenal were piss poor yet again. We threw away another 2-goal lead, which simply isn’t good enough. We needed nothing less than a win, but this proves to be increasingly difficult for a team that has no idea how to keep a clean sheet.
6) West Brom and Everton both won, meaning that they are now 4 points ahead of us in 4th and 5th place respectively. United also won against Aston Villa, leaving them 11 points ahead of us at the top of the table. Arsenal currently sit in 7th place in the league, with Spurs (a point ahead) still to play against Manchester City, and Chelsea playing Liverpool.
If we were continue the rest of the season in our current form (16 points from 11 games, or roughly 1.5 points a game), we would finish on around 55-57 points. This is probably enough for a 7th/8th place finish. Everton finished 7th with 56 points last season, with Liverpool 8th on 52. While I highly doubt that West Brom will keep their fine form going, I fully expect Spurs and Everton, and maybe Liverpool and Newcastle, to be right up there at the end of the season. We need to start stringing together some good results, and fast.
7) Aaron Ramsey continues to frustrate. Theo Walcott was finally given a start, meaning that Aaron started on the bench, but the Welshman came on for Coquelin with more than half an hour left. His performance was lackadaisical to say the very least. He immediately got himself booked and I was just waiting for him to pick up a second yellow. Sometimes you can just see it coming, the same way that many of us could tell that Wilshere would see red at Old Trafford. Fortunately (or unfortunately depending on how you look at it), Ramsey stayed on the pitch long for the remainder of the game.
8) What are we going to do about Lukas Podolski? Yes, he grabbed a nicely-taken goal, but he contributed little else to the game. Podolski’s movement off the ball is extremely poor, and I can’t even be bothered to discuss his disinterest in defending. He said in an interview after the Schalke game that he really wants to play as a central striker. However, given Giroud’s form and add to that the fact that Walcott has continually made the same comments, I do not see this happening. Lukas can just be happy that he has somehow maintained his place in the starting line-up. The novelty of having him in the team has somewhat worn off.
9) Andrey Arshavin was extremely bright yet again and won a penalty. Arshavin has been making quite a few useful cameos this season. In previous season’s many Arsenal fans doubted his commitment, but this season, unlike some of our other players, he actually puts in some effort and looks like he cares. Not sure if it was a penalty. I don’t think there was much that Reiter could have done about it, but we didn’t score so I guess you can say that justice has been done. I would like to see Andrey play a bit more, maybe starting against Spurs ahead of Podolski.
10) The Emirates is no longer our fortress. In our last few home games we have lost to Schalke and to Chelsea, and only narrowly beaten QPR, which is extremely worrying when you consider that we play Spurs at home next weekend and then Montpellier a few days after. Both games are extremely important – the first game could prove crucial in the fight for the top four and another season in the Champions League, and the second could determine our future in the competition this season.
1) A clean sheet would be nice. Despite conceding only 2 goals in their opening 5 Premier League games, Arsenal have now only had 1 clean sheet in the last 13 matches.
After going 2-0 up against Schalke, we just could not quite hang on until half time. You got the feeling that if we could see it through until the break then Wenger could reorganise the team a bit (maybe make a few substitutions?) and we would come out positive in the second half. However, the goal on 45 minutes from Huntelaar changed the game and gave Schalke some hope. In contrast, I guess that Arsenal went in at half time slightly deflated. Thomas Vermaelen was better than Santos would have been at left-back, but Jefferson Farfan still caused us a fair few problems and eventually forced our captain into an own goal. In Vermaelen’s defence, it was going in anyway.
2) Theo Walcott has reached his half-century of goals for Arsenal, with a nicely taken goal (and a bit of luck) after Giroud’s original effort was saved. However, Theo could not quite do enough to grab us a dramatic late win. This was his 8th goal of the season – not too bad for a player that people say doesn’t have a footballing brain! If anybody is interested, Arsenal.com have done a nice piece on Walcott’s goals; he is apparently the 47th Arsenal player to reach that milestone.
3) Olivier Giroud has announced his arrival in the Champions league. Giroud’s 4th goal for Arsenal and his 1st in the Champions League was nicely taken and set up by Lukas Podolski. Despite the goal, the commentators on ITV (in particular Ray Wilkins) were not particularly impressed – there is just no pleasing some people. In my opinion, 10-15 goals would be a good target for his first season. He is already on 4 at the beginning of November and will only get better once he has settled in, so I have no worries. He also provides a fair few assists too.
4) Qualifying from our Champions League group is still not guaranteed, but we should get there. Arsenal currently sit in 2nd place in the group on 7 points – 1 point behind Schalke and 1 ahead of Olympiakos. A win against Montpellier in our next game would put us in a slightly better position. If Schalke beat Olympiakos and we beat Montpellier then we will finish in the top 2. Hopefully we won’t have to wait until the final game of the group stages to qualify!
5) Theo Walcott may have been voted the Man of the Match, but Vito Mannone put in a pretty fantastic performance. Mannone made some great saves and really kept us in the game. You can only imagine how he would do if he had a slightly better defence in front of him!
If you haven’t seen the game then there are highlights of Arsenal’s 2-2 draw away at Schalke online. As usual, Arsenal player has some good 2-minute highlights, or longer videos for those who are subscribers. Stay tuned for the latest team news ahead of Saturday’s game against Fulham.
1) This match broke the record for the most goals in a single match in the League Cup. Reading are also joint holders of the same accolade in the Premier League, losing 7-4 to Portsmouth a few seasons ago. Arsenal have now scored 13 goals in only 2 League Cup matches. We only managed 1 more than that in 2010/11, when we went all the way to the final.
2) This was exactly what Arsenal needed ahead of our trip to Old Trafford. We fought hard and eventually showed the “mental strength” that Wenger always goes on about. The big question is where that strength was in the first half. Hopefully the players will really feel that they can get a result against United on Saturday.
3) Arsenal’s first half performance (at least until the 44th minute) was an absolute travesty. We defended narrowly and gave Reading way too much time on the ball. We did not close them down properly and allowed the Royals to put in plenty of crosses from wide positions. What I still don’t quite understand is how we got from 4-0 down in half an hour to the totally different performance that we saw in the second half.
4) This was a match that Damien Martinez will surely want to forget; he was less than convincing for much of the game. However, it is worth pointing out that he is only 20 years old and was playing only his second first-team game. I am sure that he will have learnt a lot from this match (maybe he will watch a few videos with the goalkeeping coach?) and it will not happen again. Luckily, we didn’t lose.
5) Like with Arsenal, we saw the best and the worst of Laurent Koscielny. The referee was rather lenient, otherwise I am sure that Laurent would have got his second yellow. He really was riding his luck. His is passion for scoring own goals is hardly pleasing, and Jason Roberts did cause him a fair few problems, but he made up for it with a late goal and a great block right at the death.
6) Olivier Giroud’s introduction made all the difference. Giroud didn’t start to begin with because Wenger wanted to give Chamakh a chance to prove his worth, but the Frenchman came on and scored with his first touch from a corner. He was a constant threat, got his head on anything, made good runs, took some nice long-shots and was at the centre of most of the chances that we created.
7) Maroune Chamakh emerged as an unlikely hero. Maroune was all but absent in the first half, but suddenly came to life at the end of the game and may just have bought himself a bit of time at the club and ingratiated himself with the fans. It was an opportunity to build some confidence and show us what he is capable of, and he did just that. I don’t know where he has suddenly learnt how to finish. Although he did not quite manage to get his Chamakhtrick, he did slot home calmly and then chip Adam Federici from 25 yards out in the final minute. There was even a little evidence to suggest that Giroud and Chamakh could play together in a 4-4-2 formation. Just a thought.
8) Theo Walcott may or may not have scored his second Arsenal hattrick. I doubt that his third goal/Jenkinson’s first for the club will go to a dubious goal pannel because the assistant referee did not flag that the ball was over the line. If that is the case, then the goal belongs to Carl. Either way, Walcott’s performance was fantastic. He was a bit quiet in the first half (as was everyone…), but he got there in the end with a cool and composed finish just before half time. It was exactly what the doctor ordered just before the break.
9) Andrey Arshavin kept his head down and never give up, even though it looked like nothing was going his way. In the end, our Little Russian had the last laugh. He suddenly came to life late on in the game, made some great runs, created space and width, and ultimately provided the cross for the winning goal.
10) Giroud & Coquelin need to read the rules about the League Cup. I am not sure whether they thought that we had earned a replay, or if they thought that we won on away goals, but they decided to throw their shirts into the crowd at full time and looked pretty stupid when they had to ask for them back.
11) Some Arsenal fans left early and missed everything. If the Newcastle match two years ago taught us anything, it is that even the most unlikely of comebacks are possible. I can understand their frustration, but people walked out before the end of the first half. Credit must go to the majority of the away supporters who stayed to watch the whole game. The team relies on our support and it was only a small number of idiots who left early.
12) Thomas Eisfeld and Jernade Meade made their Arsenal debuts. Having impressed on the pre-season tour of Asia and this season for the U21s, Eisfeld was given his chance to show that he can cope with the pressure of first-team football. He was fantastic to watch and added that little spark to the game that we needed; his introduction was just as positive as that of Giroud. His passing is superb. Meade was not on for that long (he came on to replace the injured Ignasi Miquel), but he did a pretty good job in his short cameo.
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Below I have embedded some video highlights of the crazy record-breaking match that took place last night at the Madejski Stadium.
Credit must go to Reading, who put in a strong performance in the first half and gave Arsenal a major scare. Brian McDermot could have just played a boring, defensive game and hoped to nick a winner, but Reading really went at us from the start and took advantage of some truly terrible defending.
At 4-0 down after 37 minutes I don’t think that anybody could have predicted an Arsenal comeback, but Theo Walcott put in a stellar performance and the introduction of Olivier Giroud had a huge impact. There was even a good performance from Maroune Chamakh, who may yet prove to play an important part in the Arsenal team this season.
According to Spanish sports news website AS.com, Arsène Wenger has highlighted the name of Sevilla winger Jesus Navas on his list of players who could be brought in to further strengthen the Arsenal squad. Wenger is apparently preparing a €15 million (roughly £11.8m) bid for the Spanish international in order to test the water and see if Sevilla are willing to negotiate.
Navas has a buy-out-clause of £27 million, but it is reported that Sevilla could settle for around half that. AS is known to be quite reliable, so this transfer rumour would seem to be at least slightly credible.
The suggestion is that bringing Navas to Arsenal could spell the end of Theo Walcott’s career at the Emirates. Discussions over a new contract for Theo have not really progressed over the summer, and it would not be surprising if he was looking elsewhere. Juventus has been touted as a possible destination, while there are also rumours of interest from Chelsea and Liverpool. Even if Theo does stay at Arsenal, he would be free to leave the club on a free transfer next summer if he does not sign a contract extension. Walcott is apparently looking for wages of £100,000 a week, which Arsenal are not willing or able to offer.
In my opinion, Navas would be a fantastic but equally very risky signing for Arsenal. There is no doubt that he would be an upgrade on Walcott, but previous evidence suggests that he may struggle to settle in North London. In 2006 it was agreed that Navas was to join Chelsea. However, he subsequently pulled out of the transfer and announced that he suggesrs from chronic homesickness. The Spanish international has in the past suffered from anxiety attacks brought about when he was too far away from home, which restricted his playing opportunities for the Spanish national team until 2009. Homesickness is one of the main reasons why he has stayed at Sevilla for his whole career so far. I draw a slight comparison to Jose Antonio Reyes, who also suffered from homesickness and left Arsenal because he had “not got used to the language or the weather”.
One player who almost definitely will joining Arsenal this summer is Real Madrid midfielder Nuri Sahin. The BBC and Sky Sports are both reporting that the two clubs are nearing a deal which would see Sahin join on an initial season-long loan, with an option to buy. Jose Mourinho has all but confirmed that the Turkish midfielder will be joining the Premier League to gain some valuable experience, although the “Special One” doesn’t seem to care where he goes.
“The Premier League is a good place for players to pick up certain characteristics which he does not have.
“It is all the same to me though which club he goes to. I just hope that it happens soon for him, as it is best for him. I couldn’t care less if he goes to Arsenal, or Liverpool or Tottenham. I have no preference.”
As Mourinho has confirmed, Sahin has attracted the attention of several Premier League clubs. However, the lure of the Champions League seems to have worked in our favour. Arsene Wenger has confirmed that we are in for another midfield signing and it is looking increasingly likely that this player will be Sahin, not Yann M’Vila. The question I have is if Wenger would then sign Jesus Navas as well?