Monday, 28 December 2009

ARSENE WENGER is poised to launch a £12million January bid for French international striker Andre Pierre Gignac.

Arsenal's front line has been hit by an ankle ligaments injury to Robin van Persie, which will see him miss the rest of the season, while Nicklas Bendtner is sidelined with a knee problem.

Gunners boss Wenger has admired the 6ft 2in Toulouse forward for months and believes that with the French club struggling in their league, he can snatch his man despite him being contracted until 2013.

Gignac is unhappy after managing just five goals this season after grabbing 24 in 37 games last term. He is keen to get away from Toulouse - especially as Wenger would double his wages to £40,000 a week at the Emirates.

The striker has netted four times in 10 outings for his country.

A source close to the negotiations said: "He's been happy at Toulouse but knows this is the time to leave and the prospect of Champions League football is too good to resist."

Arsenal will be seeking to build on their four-match unbeaten league run at home today to Aston Villa today, who have not lost in seven games.

But the injury worries are mounting, with influential captain Cesc Fabregas a doubt due to a hamstring problem. The Spain international has been missing since the December 16 draw at Burnley and withdrew from training on Thursday due to the problem.

"There is still an uncertainty about him," said Wenger. "He was supposed to practice on Christmas Eve but he still had some pain in his leg.

"We still don't know if he will be available for the squad. It is 50-50."

Tomas Rosicky remains out, along with full-back Gael Clichy (back) and Johan Djourou (knee).

However, there is good news for Wenger with Armand Traore ready to return after his hamstring problem.

Wenger added: "Compared to the Hull game, we have Traore available again. But he is the only one back."

[+/-]

Arsenal 3 Aston Villa 0  

Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas came off the bench to inspire the Gunners to a 3-0 win over Aston Villa which hauls them back into the Barclays Premier League title race.

The Spaniard, who had been out with a hamstring problem, netted a superb free-kick on 65 minutes and then scored a fine breakaway goal before being substituted as a precaution.

Abou Diaby netted a third in stoppage time at Emirates Stadium, curling in a low effort from the edge of the area after a powerful run.

Villa - who had already beaten Chelsea, Manchester United and Liverpool this season - looked dangerous on the break but could not make the most of their best spell of pressure midway through the second half.

Arsene Wenger's men are now just four points behind leaders Chelsea, and with a match in hand on the sides around them - a position which looked inconceivable following their defeat here against the Blues at the end of November.

The hosts started brightly and Brad Friedel saved well from defender Thomas Vermaelen at the far post following a corner, before Croatia striker Eduardo shot straight at the Villa keeper after collecting the ball from Diaby and turning in the box.

dipping effort

However, Villa - winners at Old Trafford just before Christmas - are a well-organised unit under Martin O'Neill and the physical presence of England forward Emile Heskey caused the Arsenal defence cause for concern.

Following a swift counter-attack by the visitors, Ashley Young saw his shot deflected behind off Alex Song.

The Cameroon midfielder - set to head off to the African Nations Cup next month - was lucky to only get a stern talking to by referee Phil Dowd after hauling down Heskey as Villa looked to break quickly again.

From the resulting free-kick, Villa had the ball in the net, but only after Richard Dunne bundled into Manuel Almunia, the effort correctly ruled out for the foul on the Arsenal keeper.

Arsenal, though, were soon back on the offensive, with Nasri's dipping effort deflected over and Song then just off target from the resulting corner.

Denilson was bundled down right on the edge of the penalty area but the Brazilian's effort hit the wall, then Bacary Sagna's follow-up flew over.

At the start of the second half, Diaby's run down the right was halted by Young, who picked up a yellow card for his troubles which rules the forward out of the Liverpool match on Tuesday.

swept home

Eduardo's deep free-kick was pushed away by Friedel before the Villa defence scrambled the ball off their goalline following a corner.

With 33 minutes left, Denilson was replaced by Fabregas.

Eduardo was unfortunate to see his close-range effort cleared by Warnock after a clever exchange with Andrey Arshavin down the left.

Friedel then denied the Russian with a full stretch save after Fabregas had weaved into the area, and Dunne cleared as Eduardo looked to knock the loose ball in.

On 65 minutes, Arsenal were awarded a free-kick 23 yards out when Dunne tripped Fabregas - and it proved costly as the Spaniard stepped up to curl a sublime effort up over the wall and into the top left corner.

Arsenal were lifted by the goal and looked full of confidence as they poured forward - and fittingly, the skipper helped Arsenal wrap up the points.

In the 81st minute, after a spell of Villa pressure, Traore hit a long diagonal pass out to Theo Walcott on the right. The substitute dashed forward before touching the ball into the path of the onrushing Fabregas, who swept home a 12th goal of the season.

The Spaniard, though, appeared to have aggravated his hamstring problem and was replaced by Aaron Ramsey for the closing stages.

Almunia made a brave save to deny Gabriel Agbonlahor, before Diaby netted Arsenal's third goal in stoppage-time, finishing low from the edge of the area.

[+/-]

Arsenal 3-0 Hull City  

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Arsenal moved back into third place in the Barclays Premier League with a comfortable victory over relegation-threatened Hull City at the Emirates Stadium.

Goals from Denilson, Eduardo and Abou Diaby earned Arsene Wenger's side all three points.

But the Gunners also had to give credit to goalkeeper Manuel Almunia, who saved a penalty from Geovanni when the home side led 1-0.

Hull, who beat Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium last season, had the first opportunity within the opening minute.

Craig Fagan's 20-yard shot was just off target but Hull were clearly in the mood for a battle.

Moments later Almunia had to deal with a free-kick by Stephen Hunt as the City midfielder looked to surprise the Arsenal goalkeeper at the near post.

The home side were clearly missing the midfield artistry of the injured Cesc Fabregas but Samir Nasri should have put them ahead in the 15th minute but shot tamely at Myhill.

little time

Hull had enjoyed much of the possession in the early skirmishes but they had little reward in attack.

Arsenal finally shook off their lethargy in the 23rd minute when Eduardo tried to curl the ball beyond Myhill and into the corner of the net. But the Arsenal striker's effort was a yard wide of the target.

Wenger's side, without a string of first-choice players, found it difficult to break down stubborn Hull, who gave their hosts little time to settle on the ball.

A cross from Hunt in the 39th minute almost reached Fagan but Almunia collected the ball before the City striker could pounce.

Arsenal had found little rhythm in their play and Myhill, apart from a couple of long shots, had been relatively untroubled.

Denilson then scored from a free-kick after George Boateng had fouled Diaby 25-yards from goal.

Hull replaced Nick Barmby at half-time with Seyi Olofinjana but nearly went two behind straight after the re-start.

shot wide

Eduardo worked an opening for himself from Andrey Arshavin's pass, but the Croatia striker put his shot wide with just Myhill to beat.

In the 55th minute, referee Bennett awarded Hull a penalty after Mikael Silvestre had been adjudged to have pulled the shirt of Fagan.

But Almunia saved a poor Geovanni spot-kick and then Hunt headed the rebound wide of the target.

Worse was to come for Phil Brown's side in the 59th minute when Diaby broke into the penalty area and pulled the ball back for Eduardo to tap home.

Arsenal wrapped up the points in the 80th minute when Diaby played a one-two with Arshavin and fired past Myhill.

Hunt almost scored a consolation goal for the visitors with three minutes remaining but Almunia saved his volley.

The Arsenal goalkeeper's clearance then put substitute Theo Walcott in the clear at the opposite end but the England youngster put his lob just wide.

[+/-]

Arshavin scorcher condemns Reds to defeat  

Monday, 14 December 2009

Andrei Arshavin returned to Anfield, the scene of his four-goal blitz last season, to score the winning goal in the 2-1 encounter with Liverpool.

Rafa Benitez will be livid with his players and the referee Howard Webb after his side dominated the first half, and led through Dirk Kuyt.

Steven Gerrard was brought down in the visitor's box early on when he knocked the ball past William Gallas but was caught by the defender.

Despite there being obvious contact - confirmed by television replays - referee Webb waved away appeals.

Holland international Kuyt pounced on goalkeeper Manuel Almunia's poor punch from Fabio Aurelio's free-kick to fire home from ten yards, four minutes before the interval.

But five minutes after the restart Liverpool gifted Arsenal the softest of equalisers when Cesc Fabregas released Samir Nasri on the right and when Glen Johnson, with Theo Walcott at his back, tried to intercept the cross which had taken a slight deflection off Jamie Carragher he succeeded only in turning it past Reina.

Their position was strengthened further in the 58th minute when another error by Johnson, who miscontrolled Fabregas' shot under pressure from Arshavin and allowed the Russian to nip past him and fire in a shot off Reina's right-hand post.

[+/-]

Arsenal Tracking David Villa & Edin Dzeko - Report  

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is reportedly keeping a close eye on Valencia forward David Villa as well VfL Wolfsburg striker Edin Dzeko as he looks to strengthen the Gunners' striking options in January.

The Daily Mirror reports that Dzeko was watched by Arsenal scouts in the Champions League against Manchester United last week, whilst Villa has been on Wenger's radar for some time.

West Ham United striker Carlton Cole is also apparently on the Frenchman's hit list.

Villa has been linked with moves to England on a regular basis, though Spanish giants Barcelona and Real Madrid are also believed to be interested in acquiring his services.

Wolfsburg are now out of the Champions League and may well decide to cash in on Dzeko, 23, as Wenger looks to compensate for the loss of Robin van Persie for much of the rest of the season due to an ankle injury.

[+/-]

Arsenal link with £15million C.Cole  

Monday, 7 December 2009

West Ham’s Carlton Cole is being linked with a £15million move to Arsenal according to the the Daily Mirror. Arsenal are desperately lacking in strikers after Robin van Persie was ruled out for the season. Nicklas Bendtner is not expected back for a few weeks and Eduardo is struggling with his fitness and his form as he endures his longest goal-drought in an Arsenal shirt. The situation is so bad that Arsene Wenger was forced to play Andrei Arshavin as a lone striker against Stoke on Saturday with the young Mexican Carlos Vela the only option from the bench.

Cole himself is injured and not is expected to return till the New Year but he has been in great form this season and Arsenal are lacking a player with his considerable power. West Ham are not looking to sell their star-striker given their delicatge position in the league but their financial situation is no secret and their resolve will be sorely tested by a bid in the region of £15million.

The England international has really found his form in the last 12 months and is highly rated both by Gianfranco Zola and England boss Fabio Capello. Arsene Wenger is notoriously thrifty and will only spend money if he believes a player can really improve his side and Cole’s ability to hold up the ball and physically impose himself on defenders would certainly add something to Arsenal’s game. Unlike many of the other strikers being linked with Arsenal, Cole would be available for the Champions League.

[+/-]

Arsenal 2-0 Stoke  

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Arsenal leapfrogged Tottenham Hotspur into third place in the Barclays Premier League with a morale-boosting 2-0 win over Stoke City.

Andrey Arshavin, who was by far the Gunners' best player, slotted home from a tight angle in the first half minutes after Cesc Fabregas had missed a penalty on his 250th appearance for the club.

After a largely frustrating second half, impressive substitute Aaron Ramsey sealed the win with a cool finish 10 minutes from time.

The Gunners started brightly and Fabregas put Arshavin through one on one with Thomas Sorensen but he came out to block the Russian's shot.

Stoke's first meaningful attack came eight minutes in when Manuel Almunia had to come out and punch away one of Rory Delap's trademark long throws.

Delap's throws were the Potters' main attacking option and Almunia looked nervous as he struggled to deal with the defender's third throw of the match 11 minutes in.

shot straight

Arsenal were then given a golden chance to take the lead in the 20th minute when Arshavin was tripped by Delap in the box and referee Mark Clattenburg pointed to the spot.

Fabregas stepped up to take the penalty but Sorensen stretched to his left to palm the ball around the post.

Six minutes later, Arshavin made amends for a mis-hit by slotting the ball home from a Fabregas pass to pick up his seventh of the season and give Arsenal the lead.

They then came agonisingly close to doubling their lead straight after the goal.

Armand Traore slipped in Fabregas, whose shot rebounded off Faye onto the post. The ball then fell back to the Spaniard, who lashed the ball towards goal only for Emmanuel Eboue to accidentally block the ball on the Stoke line.

Arsenal felt they should have had a second penalty on the stroke of half-time when Samir Nasri's pass brushed Faye's hand but Clattenburg waved away the Gunners' appeals.

Tuncay turned neatly on the edge of the box but shot straight at Almunia for Stoke's first attack of the second half as the rain started to fall on the Emirates pitch.

striker's shot

Arshavin, who continued as Arsenal's lone striker despite Carlos Vela's introduction, continued to pose a threat and forced Sorensen into a fine save shortly after.

Tuncay then broke the offside trip to latch onto Liam Lawrence's long ball down field but he lacked pace and composure, allowing William Gallas to track back and block the striker's shot.

Arshavin was unlucky not to add his second when his shot was deflected onto the bar by Stoke captain Faye.

The home crowd sensed the Gunners needed a second and it came with 11 minutes left when Ramsey picked the ball up on the edge of the box, jinked inside and calmly stroked the ball past Sorensen.

Fabregas and Arshavin both had chances towards the end for the Gunners while Gallas finished the match hobbling with what looked like a thigh injury.

[+/-]

Arsenal chase Edin Dzeko.  

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Edin Dezko, Micah Richards, Robert Green, David Villa and Steve Sidwell are all rumoured to be on the move in January.
Arsene Wenger will step up his search for a new striker to pump fresh New Year's impetus into Arsenal's fading season.

The Gunners looked lightweight in attack during yesterday's 3-0 defeat to Chelsea at the Emirates Stadium and they are now 11 points behind the leaders.

Robin van Persie's ankle ligament damage means he is sidelined until April and with Nicolas Bendtner also stuck in the treatment room, Wenger knows his team lack a cutting edge.

Wolfsburg's prolific finisher Edin Dzeko could be a solution and the Arsenal manager is an admirer of his qualities in the penalty area.

The only drawback is Dzeko would not be available for the Champions League where he has been in sparkling form, scoring three times in five group stage matches.

Manchester United have been linked with a surprise move for Manchester City defender Micah Richards, if the Eastlands outfit decide to sell the England international.

He is also reputed to be a target for Tottenham where he may be further cover for injury-prone central defenders Ledley King and Jonathan Woodgate.

Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti says he does not expect to make any new signings in January, unless his side suffers any injuries.

But as the transfer ban imposed on it by Fifa for inducing Gael Kakuta to break his contract has been suspended by the Court of Arbitration for Sport it is more than likely he will be given cash to bring in new faces just in case the ruling goes against the Blues before the summer window.

Valencia striker David Villa and Atletico Madrid finisher Sergio Aguero are top of the hit list and one or the other could well be signed along with Bayern Munich midfielder Franck Ribery.

Cash-strapped West Ham are ready to offload England goalkeeper Robert Green in January if they receive a bid in the region of £5m and Wolves are ready to make a move for Aston Villa's £3m-rated England under-21 international midfielder Craig Gardner.

Everton boss David Moyes is chasing PSV Eindhoven's Serbian striker Danko Lazovic - after giving up on his countryman Milan Jovanovic, who plays for Standard Liege.

And new Portsmouth manager Avram Grant is ready to bring in former Chelsea midfielder Steve Sidwell from Aston Villa if on-loan Jamie O'Hara returns to Tottenham.

Grant may also go back to former club Chelsea in an attempt to take ex-Manchester City striker Daniel Sturridge down to Fratton Park for the rest of the season.

Glasgow Rangers forward Kris Boyd is another target with the Ibrox club also expecting renewed interest from Birmingham City.

[+/-]

Arsenal 2-0 Standard Liege  

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

First half goals from Samir Nasri and Denilson gave Arsenal a 2-0 win over Standard Liege and a place in the knockout stages of the Champions League.

Arsenal dominated the opening exchanges with their usual crisp passing football in the group H clash, but their best chance of the opening 15 minutes came via a goalmouth scramble.

A corner was whipped in which was met by a Andrei Arshavin header which was blocked on the line. The ball fell to Carlos Vela who struck the post before William Gallas saw his effort blocked by keeper Sinan Bolat. The ball rebounded to Thomas Vermaelen, whose shot hit Arshavin on the line and went wide.

The visitors came desperately close to taking the lead on 21 minutes when Dieumerci Mbokani cut inside the defender and his shot rebounded off the angle with Manuel Almunia beaten.

On the half hour mark, Cesc Fabregas whipped in a cross for Gallas to head wide, but by heading the ball, he clashed heads with Arshavin leaving both of them requiring a few minutes treatment.

Arsenal took the lead after 35 minutes when a floated ball caused Landry Mulemo slip as he was trying to change direction, which let Nasri in to place his half-volley past the keeper.

The home side were well on top, and they were centimetres away from extending their lead on two separate occasions in the space of three minutes.

First of all, a slide rule pass from Nasri set up Arshavin to hit a first time shot which curled just wide of the post.

Two minutes later, Arshavin turned provider to play in Fabregas, but his cross-shit evaded the sliding Vela and the far post.

Arsenal doubled their lead in first half injury time when Denilson unleashed a 35-yard swerving effort that deceived Bolat and flew into the roof of the net.

Axel Witsel had a great chance to pull a goal back five minutes into the second half after latching onto a quick free kick, but his tame effort was easily kept out by Almunia.

A piece of magic from Vela nearly helped Arsenal net their third goal, but he badly scuffed his shot.

Arsenal coasted the remainder of the half with their lead never looking in any real danger, apart from when Zoro Gohi-Bi struck the post.

The visitors were reduced to ten men in the closing stages when Medhi Carcela-Gonzalez was dismissed for a tussle with Fabregas, and Arsenal saw out the final few minutes to qualify for the knockout stages of the Champions League as group winners.

[+/-]

Sunderland 1 Arsenal 0  

Monday, 23 November 2009

England striker Darren Bent fired title-chasing Arsenal to a first defeat in 14 matches as Sunderland battled their way to victory.

Bent struck 19 minutes from time to seal a tight contest after the Gunners had failed to make the most of the possession they enjoyed at the Stadium of Light.

It might have been different had keeper Marton Fulop not denied Tomas Rosicky with a vital fifth minute save.

But the Black Cats battled all the way to the whistle to condemn the visitors to defeat for the first time since 12th September.

Tomas Rosicky and Samir Nasri repeatedly linked with Eduardo and captain Cesc Fabregas, while Aaron Ramsey and Alexandre Song kept Lorik Cana and Jordan Henderson occupied in the middle of the field.

The Gunners might have been in front as early as the fifth minute when Fabregas expertly turned Bacary Sagna's deep cross into the path of Rosicky, who forced a good save from Fulop with a well-struck volley.

agonisingly wide

Fabregas whistled a 13th minute drive just over the bar, but Fulop was a relieved man after Song and Eduardo had combined to carve their way into the penalty area with 32 minutes gone.

The pair exchanged passes on the edge of the box and Song continued his run, only to just fail to get a touch to Eduardo's shot as it ran agonisingly wide of the post.

In the meantime, Sunderland had created two chances of their own, both of them falling to Steed Malbranque from left wing crosses.

The first saw him fire just over from full-back George McCartney's ball in, but he skied the second, with Andy Reid this time the provider, high over the bar.

Arsenal resumed in much the same vein as they took the match to Sunderland, although they were still unable to pierce the Black Cats' defence.

But Sunderland produced a flurry of their own, full-back Armand Traore just managing to cut out Henderson's 52nd minute through-ball to Bent and keeper Manuel Almunia coming from his line to claim possession with Reid putting William Gallas under intense pressure seconds later.

under threat

Almunia's goal came under threat once again five minutes later when Reid drilled a long-range free kick just wide, and the Irishman then skied a snapshot high over the bar.

Wenger's response was to replace Ramsey with Andrey Arshavin, and Bruce quickly followed suit when he withdrew Malbranque and sent on Fraizer Campbell.

But it was Sunderland's newcomer who made a swift impact with 71 minutes gone, although he did not know a lot about it.

Bent's header from a Reid corner cannoned back off his legs at the far post and fell perfectly for his strike partner to smash it home before Almunia could get there.

Wenger immediately sent on Theo Walcott and Carlos Vela for Rosicky and Eduardo, but it was Arshavin who very nearly came to their rescue with three minutes remaining.

The midfielder got to Song's cross at the far post, but he could only direct his shot into the side-netting.

[+/-]


Saturday, 21 November 2009

Robin van Persie is on of several key players missing for Arsneal's trip to face Sunderland.

The Gunners are boosted by the return of midfielder Denilson after the Brazilian's recovery from a back injury.

Manager Arsena Wenger is without left back Kieran Gibbs so Mikael Silvestre is ready to to slot in.

Sunderland head into their clash with Arsenal without suspended duo Kenwyne Jones and Michael Turner.

The Black Cats will welcome Lorik Cana back from suspension while Bolo Zenden could shake off a hip injury to return.

Manager Steve Bruce could be without goalkeeper Craig Gordon (hip) so Marton Fulop is on stand-by.

John Mensah has recovered from a calf injury and could be involved against the Gunners.


Sunderland (from): Fulop, Bardsley, Da Silva, Nosworthy, Ferdinand, Turner, Richardson, McCartney, Reid, Malbranque, Henderson, Campbell, Bent, Healy, Murphy, Meyler, Reed, Cana, Zenden, Mensah, Carson.

Arsenal (from): Almunia, Sagna, Vermaelen, Gallas, Silvestre, Rosicky, Song, Fabregas, Nasri, Arshavin, Eduardo, Fabianski, Vela, Traore, Eboue, Denilson, Ramsey, Senderos, Wilshere, Walcott.

[+/-]

Arsenal transfer target Mesut Ozil: 10 things you need to know about Cesc Fabregas' replacement - plus video of him in action  

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Reports have circulated today that Arsenal have earmarked Mesut Ozil to be Cesc Fabregas' long-term midfield replacement. But what do we know about the undisputed rising star of the Bundesliga?

1) Mesut Ozil was born on October 15, 1988 in the German city of Gelsenkirchen and is a skillful midfield playmaker who can also operate on the wing.

2) After playing for various local sides, his big break came when he joined Schalke 04 as a 17-year old in 2005. As a youngster, his initial appearances were limited to the German League Cup (he'll fit right in at the Emirates, then...), but he quickly broke into the first team, helping Schalke 04 to a second place finish in the the 2006-07 Bundesliga season, and even appearing in the Champions League.

3) Things started to go wrong for Ozil at Schalke when he refused to sign a new contract. When dropping him from the first team had no effect, Schalke had little option to cash in on their prized asset. And so, after just 37 appearances, Ozil joined Werder Bremen on the 2008 January transfer window deadline day for €4.3million - the most expensive transfer fee ever paid for a German teenager.

4) Six months later he missed out on a title win again, as Werder Bremen finished the 2007-08 in second place, this time behind Bayern Munich. To date he's made 48 league appearances for Werder Bremen and chipped in with 7 goals.

5) Unlike many of his potential new young Arsenal teammates, Ozil does have a winner's medal to his name. He starred in Germany's equivalent of the FA Cup last season, scoring the only goal of the final as Werder Bremen beat Bayer Leverkusen 1-0.

6) He wasn't quite so lucky in that season's UEFA Cup final, however, as his Werder Bremen side went down 2-1 to Shakhtar Donetsk after extra time.

7) Ozil is widely regarded as the future of German football, and is known in Bremen as "der Neue Diego" - a reference to his Brazilian midfield partner. This is why:

8) Despite being the son of third generation Turkish immigrants, Ozil pledged his international future to Germany from an early age. He made his his Under-21 debut as an 18-year old, and was an instrumental figure - not to mention goalscorer - in their 4-0 demolition of Stuart Pearce's young Lions in the 2009 European Championship final. Here's his effort:

9) By that time Ozil was already a full international, having made his debut in a friendly against Norway in February 2009. He's won a further four caps since, and bagged his first goal for Germany during this 2-0 friendly win over South Africa in September.

makeArsenal transfer target Mesut Ozil: 10 things you need to know about Cesc Fabregas' replacement - plus video of him in action

10) He's been linked with most of Germany's top sides and several in England - including Manchester United, Manchester City and Aston Villa. However, Ozil has gone on record as saying he'd prefer to sign for... Barcelona.

"I've found Barcelona fascinating, ever since I was small," he told the German press. "Signing for them is a dream of mine." Although if Cesc was to head to the Nou Camp, who's to say Ozil's thoughts wouldn't turn to the Emirates instead?

[+/-]

Arsenal 3 Tottenham Hotspur 0 In London Derby Match  

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Tottenham Hotspur travelled to the Emirates for the North London derby that saw David Bentley start against his former club.

Robin van Persie gave Arsenal the lead three minutes before half-time. Bacary Sagna’s low cross was attacked by the Dutchman who poked the ball past Heurelho Gomes.

The Spurs keeper will feel that he should have done better as he was beaten at his near post whilst getting a hand to it.

Less than a minute later, Arsenal scored again. A good counterattack from Cesc Fabregas following a Spurs kick-off saw him beat Gomes and give Arsenal a two goal lead.

It was shocking defending from Spurs who practically gifted Arsenal a two goal advantage. It was the sort of play you would expect to find in your local park, not a Premier League football stadium.

Sagna and van Persie combined again to give Arsenal a third on the hour mark. Sagna’s low cross was this time was completely missed by Gomes and van Persie had the simple task of passing the ball into the empty net.

There was no question of whether it was poor goalkeeping on this occasion as-Gomes should have done better. Arsenal were always going to score when he failed.

Arsenal will be extremely happy to have beaten their local rivals comprehensively showing the gulf in class and why they are considered one of the 'Big Four' and Spurs aren’t.

Tottenham will be bitterly disappointed. Not only did they lose to their fiercest rivals but they gifted them three goals. Their defending at times was terrible.

[+/-]

Arsene Wenger claims Arsenal are 12 years ahead of derby rivals Tottenham  

Saturday, 31 October 2009

Arsene Wenger last night stoked up the north London derby after claiming Tottenham are a dozen years behind Arsenal.

Wenger dismissed Spurs captain Robbie Keane’s claims that Tottenham have caught up with the Gunners and are ready to overtake their bitter rivals this season.

The Arsenal boss said: “I don’t share that opinion. How do you measure the dimension of a club? Success. Exactly.

“So if you look at success historically, they have a lot of work to do. We have been 12 consecutive years in the Champions League so once they have done that they can say, of course, that they are similar.

“They have the potential, the supporters, they are a big club. But what comes next is the consistency of achievement. At the moment nobody would deny that Arsenal is in front of them.

“In our job it is about performances not about opinions and so I believe the most important is what you do on the football pitch.

“The Tottenham supporters will have their opinion, the Arsenal supporters will have a different opinion, that’s part of the game. But what is the most important is the quality of our performance today.

“Tottenham are a big club, they invest massive money every year, why should they not be a threat? But we have always managed to get in front of them.

“I am happy with the players I have and I don’t compare with the Tottenham players. I have a strong belief in them and I believe we have the strengths to win the championship.”

Wenger yesterday went out of his way to try to avoid stoking up any bad feeling before today’s derby but still made his point that Arsenal are well ahead of their fiercest rivals.

During Wenger’s 13 years in charge at Arsenal, the Frenchman has won three league titles and four FA Cups - and that includes two Doubles.

Tottenham, in contrast, have never finished above Arsenal during that time, have only won two League Cups, have not beaten Arsenal in the Premier League for ten years and Wenger has only ever lost to Harry Redknapp once in 23 meetings.

The statistics and record books back up Wenger’s argument but there is no doubt that last season’s incredible 4-4 draw at the Emirates felt like a defeat to Arsenal and victory for Spurs.

Former Arsenal trainee David Bentley scored the opener with a 40-yard wonder goal and Wenger’s men were 4-2 up with 88 minutes on the clock before letting it slip.

That match had huge ramifications for Arsenal as it heralded a desperate slump in form. William Gallas was also stripped of the captaincy after blasting team spirit and revealing dressing room bust-ups after that game.

Wenger still remembers it painfully - but has no doubt that will avenge the result today.

He said: “It took us some time to recover from that. Don’t worry, every time we don’t win I suffer. You suffer more when you think you have won the game and the team comes back.

“It’s difficult to know what the impact was from that game. After that, we lost at Manchester City. It took us some time to recover from that.

“Redknapp has done a good job because they were fighting not to go down. He has shown through his experience and his intelligence that he can do it.

“But I believe that we are in a strong position in every competition we play in and for us it’s a good opportunity.

“Don’t forget that we have a game in hand, so the table doesn’t reflect completely the reality. For us it’s a good opportunity to take out distances and to get into a stronger position in the league.”

[+/-]

Fran Merida strike helps Arsenal beat Liverpool  

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Arsenal 2 Liverpool 1. So in the end, both managers kept their powder dry for this pulsating Carling Cup Fourth Round encounter at the Emirates stadium, with Liverpool's Emiliano Insúa and Dirk Kuyt being the only players on either side to have played in the weekend's Premier League matches. But if anything, the game was all the better for the mixture of starlets, fringe players and returnees from injury who played, all eager to impress their respective gaffers.

The home side welcomed back Samir Nasri from a broken fibula suffered in pre-season training, and handed a debut to Craig Eastmond, an 18-year-old English winger. Both teams started brightly enough, with Kuyt and Jay Spearing having efforts for the visitors, and Spaniard Fran Merida and Nasri going close for the Gunners.

But Arsenal broke the deadlock on 18 minutes when Merida, from the same Barcelona production line as Cesc Fabregas, shot into the top right corner of Diego Cavalieri's net from outside the box for his first strike for the Gunners. The 19-year-old had been set up for the goal by Eastmond, the pair recreating their feats for Arsenal's youth team.

Liverpool struck back within minutes, when Insua also scored a debut goal for his club. Set up by a knocked down ball from Ryan Babel, the Argentinean let fly from distance with a volley that dipped and swerved a little and which left Lukasz Fabianski for dead. Arsenal pushed to take back the lead before half time, with Merida and Nicklas Bendter both forcing Cavalieri into saves, but the teams went in level.

Arsenal were soon back in the lead after the interval, when a move instigated by the effervescent Eastmond and Merida looked to have run its course until the giant Dane Bendtner bundled past Martin Skrtel in the Liverpool defence and shot home past Cavalieri. Both sides continued to attack, with Rafa Benitez showing his hunger for a result by first bringing on the livewire Yossi Benayoun, then, with ten minutes to go, giving Alberto Aquilani his long-awaited Liverpool debut.

The Italian immediately showed signs of why Benitez had splashed out £20m on him, playing a couple of delightful passes and having a shot on goal which appeared to have been blocked by Philippe Senderos's hands, but referee Alan Wiley waved away appeals for a penalty. The 25-year-old did enough to warrant a mention in dispatches from his manager afterwards: "The players showed passion, character and quality - Aquilani was one of these players. You can see he can pass the ball and make a difference in the final third."

Meanwhile for Arsene Wenger the match was another display of the rich seam of talent at Arsenal. "The young players have all shown so much quality," he told the Times. "Merida is 19, Ramsey is 18, Eastmond is 18, so they are all very young. It was a game of top quality, which gave the people what they paid for. The players were up for it, the passing was good and to play in a game of that quality, they deserve a lot of credit."
By Bill Mann

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Nasri set for first Arsenal start of the season  

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

France midfielder Samir Nasri could be set to return to first-team action for Arsenal when they take on Liverpool in the Carling Cup on Wednesday night.

Nasri suffered a broken leg during pre-season training in July but made his comeback for the reserves last Tuesday. And, having been named among the substitutes for the 2-2 draw against West Ham United on Sunday, he is now in line to make his first appearance of the season.

Goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski could also make his first appearance of the season as he looks to fight for his place after recovering from a knee injury.

"It has been a frustrating time for me because of the injury but it's gone now and I need to look forward to the future," Fabianski said. "I want to get back into the team, fighting for my place really hard.

"I want to show my quality and, hopefully, win a trophy with Arsenal. I can think about this now that I am completely fit, which is the main thing. I want it to stay that way."

Philippe Senderos and Mikael Silvestre are expected to be involved alongside a number of youngsters such as Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey, Carlos Vela and Fran Merida.

By Soccernet staff

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Six newcomers to world football's top table  

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Lots of the usual suspects are in the running – Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka – but there are a few newer names that some fans may still want to familiarise themselves with.

Without wanting to give too much away with regards to who finished where and whatnot, we at Talentspotter Towers have picked out six new entrants to the Top 100 who may not quite be household names yet – but that we think could well be in the coming months and years.
Dmytro Chygrynskiy
Club: Barcelona
Age: 22
Nationality: Ukrainian
Position: Centre back

It’s safe to say that not too many people expected Barcelona to go out and spend £22 million on a defender of limited experience at Champions League level – but the Ukraine captain is very highly regarded both in his homeland and in Catalunia.

The 22-year-old was at Shakhtar Donetsk from 2005 to this summer, when he made his dream move to the Nou Camp. He was a key part of the Shakhtar side that went on to lift the last ever UEFA Cup last season - seeing off the likes of Tottenham Hotspur and Werder Bremen along the way.

Chygrynskiy is a cultured, composed and physically commanding centre half. He is also a very intelligent player, with good reading of the game and promising leadership qualities (he first captained Shakhtar at the age of just 20). He has superb physical and technical qualities and potential to become even better.

Zvjezdan Misimovic
Club: Wolfsburg
Age: 27
Nationality: Bosnian
Position: Midfielder

Misimovic caused United problems at Old Trafford last month

While strike duo Grafite and Edin Dzeko picked up all the plaudits and headlines – there’s more to Wolfsburg than just a deadly front line. Acting as a playmaker, providing the much-lauded duo with a lot of their ammo, Zvjezdan Misimovic was as integral to his sides’ surprise Bundesliga success as his Bosnian compatriot and his Brazilian striker partner. The 18 assists he chipped in with over the course of the league campaign were testament to his input.

What he lacks in pace he makes up for with his expert vision and eye for the perfect pass, and Manchester United certainly found him a nuisance in their Champions League encounter at Old Trafford last month. His aim for this season should be to continue his rise of the previous 12 months, and then he may well find himself in demand from the continent’s elite group of clubs.
Lucho Gonzalez
Club: Marseille
Age: 28
Nationality: Argentine
Position: Midfielder

Arguably the best player in the Portuguese League in the 2008/09, Gonzalez made the somewhat surprising move to Marseille in the summer of 2009, having previously been linked with Liverpool and a host of clubs in Italy and Spain.

Nicknamed ‘El Comandante’ due the way he celebrates his goals, saluting the fans as if he was the commander of a ship. However, he dislikes the nickname and explained he only celebrates goal like that as a joke to his son Tomas: he pretends he is searching him in the middle of the crowd.

Nevertheless, the Argentine midfielder is the player every coach dreams of: he can defend, attack, has perfect positioning and plays for the team.

At 28, he may not have time on his side, but Gonzalez will surely still have aspirations of playing in one of Europe’s more established leagues in the not too distant future.

Jesus Navas
Club: Sevilla
Age: 24
Nationality: Spanish
Position: Winger

Navas was a regular in the Sevilla first team by his late teens, impressing with his close control and electric pace. He played a focal part in the years of unprecedented success Sevilla enjoyed under manager Juande Ramos, including back-to-back UEFA Cup wins in 2006 and 2007.

The winger is known for his severe bouts of homesickness, which have affected his trips to training camps and games abroad, and therefore hampered his international career thus far. He initially refused to take part in the club’s 2007 pre-season tour of the United States, citing personal problems with anxiety and stress. Although he did eventually agree to travel in a bid to confront his problems, it is still an issue that could damage his hopes of being a real success at the top level.

Marouane Chamakh
Club: Bordeaux
Age: 25
Nationality: Moroccan
Position: StrikerThere was probably more rumour and speculation surrounding Chamakh’s future than any other player in world football over the summer, but the Morocco forward remained at Bordeaux, despite being linked with the likes of Arsenal, Spurs, West Ham, Blackburn and Sunderland.

Chamakh plays just off the shoulder of the last man in the opposition defence – always ready to pounce on any openings, and he will generally punish the opposition if given a sight of goal. In the past he has played with a big centre forward alongside him, but his recent success has come playing as the lone striker in Bordeaux’s attack.

The Moroccan also provides a massive aerial threat. He combines his excellent heading ability with great jumping, strength and agility – which would stand him in good stead should he ever make that move to the Premier League.

Andre-Pierre Gignac
Club: Toulouse
Age: 23
Nationality: French
Position: Striker
Gignac probably isn’t the highest profile player in the current French set-up, but he proved he is well worth his place with two expertly taken goals in Les Bleus 5-0 win over the Faroe Islands on Saturday.

The striker combines power with grace and, despite built like a brick ‘outhouse’ and strong as an ox, is also good in the air and possesses some nifty footwork. In scoring 24 goals for Toulouse in last term, he became the club’s highest scoring player within a single season.

He may still have some work to do to improve his all round game (his left foot and positional play could do with some improvement), and at the moment he may tend to try and cover more of the pitch than he perhaps needs to, not unlike Wane Rooney, but he certainly has all the tools to become one of Europe’s most deadly strikers – which is quite possibly why the likes of Chelsea and Arsenal are said to be watching him closely.

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Turan keen to become a Gunner  

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Galatasaray midfielder Arda Turan is interested in joining Arsenal next summer, according to the player's agent.

The 22-year-old winger has made 86 appearances for the Istanbul giants - scoring 22 times - since breaking onto the first-team scene in 2004.

And with the youngster having already represented the senior Turkey team on 34 occasions, after featuring at every level from U16 to U21, interest in his services inevitably increased, with the Gunners and Liverpool linked with moves for the midfielder earlier this summer.

A transfer to either failed to materialise, with Galatasaray desperate to keep hold of the prize asset.

However, Turan's representitive, Ahmet Bulut, has revealed that the player is keen on working under Arsene Wenger at the Emirates Stadium, and would be willing to sign on the dotted line in 12 month's time.

“At this moment in time I have no contact with any clubs. I had a lot of interest in the summer for him, but the club did not want to sell him," he told Sport.co.uk.

"He is now the new captain of Galatasaray, so I don't think he will be sold in January. However, I do think he will be sold in July.

“In the summertime Arsenal made contact regarding him, but the club did not want to sell. He is interested in working under Arsene Wenger because he is very good at working with young players, and Arda wants to work in England.

“Arsenal are interested, and if they want him, Arda's first choice is Arsenal.”

[+/-]

Arsenal down Fulham 1-0  

Sunday, 27 September 2009

LONDON: Arsenal rode their luck on Saturday as Robin van Persie’s goal and a fine performance from young Italian goalkeeper Vito Mannone secured a 1-0 win at Fulham. Van Persie gave Arsenal the lead in the 52nd minute with an impressive strike low into the far corner from Cesc Fabregas’s pass, but it took several excellent saves from Mannone to preserve the victory. Nonetheless, the win helped Arsenal move up to fifth in the league table. afp

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Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Mexican youngster Carlos Vela came off the bench to inspire Arsene Wenger's young Gunners to a 2-0 Carling Cup victory over 10-man West Brom at the Emirates Stadium.

The 20-year-old marked his return from an ankle injury when his shot set up Sanchez Watt for the opener in the 68th minute and then added a tap-in after Mark Randall's clever chip came back off the crossbar.

After a positive start the Coca-Cola Championship leaders were up against it after former Gunner Jerome Thomas - who twice won the FA Youth Cup while at Arsenal - was sent off after 37 minutes for a needless slap on Jack Wilshere.

Wenger had once again given youth a chance, his team with an average age of just over 20, while also bringing in experienced defender Philippe Senderos - starting for the first time since May 2008 after a loan spell at AC Milan - and veteran Mikael Silvestre captained the side.

Senderos - who could have joined Everton during the transfer window - had an early chance when he headed over at the near post following a corner from the left.

With Watt and French teenager Gilles Sunu Arsenal certainly had plenty of pace in attack, while Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey - both with plenty of first-team experience already - provided the trademark quick passing through the midfield.

Polish goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny, 19, made the first meaningful contribution on his debut when punching a corner clear at the near post and he was stretching in the 15th minute as Robert Koren's angled 20-yard drive flew just wide.

Watt came within inches of opening his Arsenal account when he stabbed Wilshere's cutback goalwards, only for the ball to bounce agonisingly off the inside of the post and into Dean Kiely's grateful arms.

The match had suddenly sparked into life, West Brom midfielder Simon Cox the next to test Szczesny with a low drive.

The Pole produced another fine stop to turn Koren's shot behind, which was creeping in.

The youngsters were rattled - and Kerrea Gilbert hacked the ball off the line after a corner caused panic in the Arsenal six-yard box.

Arsenal responded well, with Wilshere again driving at the Baggies rearguard.

On 31 minutes, Wilshere again made space for himself with another positive run, and his 20-yard shot was just off-target.

West Brom swung a free-kick into the area which Szczesny dropped under pressure at the far post from Leon Barnett, but fortunately Kieran Gibbs - who had played in the Champions League semi-final defeat to Manchester United last season - was on hand to clear.

West Brom continued to look dangerous on the break, with Thomas' run down the left forcing Szczesny to make an important block.

However, the 26-year-old was shown a straight red card in the 37th minute after he clashed with Wilshere, before then slapping the midfielder in the face while he was on the floor.

Cox also went into referee Lee Mason's book for his protests.

Cox headed over for the first real chance of the second half when well placed in the six-yard box before Wenger made a change in the 58th minute.

Mexican striker Vela and Randall came on, replacing Sunu and Francis Coquelin.

The game continued to be scrappy, as the visitors closed down the space quickly.

It took a moment of Premier League quality from Vela to finally help break the deadlock.

The 19-year-old showed great close control to create space for a shot from the edge of the penalty area, which Kiely palmed wide, and Watt followed up to smash in his first senior Arsenal goal.

The Mexican then got the goal he deserved after 75 minutes.

Randall's 20-yard chip came back off the underside of the bar - and Vela was alert enough to get in between Barnett and Kiely before knocking the ball over the line.

The Baggies missed the chance to pull a goal back with 10 minutes to go when substitute Chris Wood fired wide at the far post - which just about summed up their night.

Carling Cup Third Round


Arsenal: Szczesny, Gilbert, Senderos, Silvestre,Traore (Barazite 69), Wilshere, Coquelin (Randall 58), Ramsey,Gibbs, Sunu (Vela 58), Watt.

Subs Not Used: Shea, Bartley, Eastmond, Frimpong.

Booked: Senderos, Ramsey.

Goals: Watt 68, Vela 76.

West Brom: Kiely, Zuiverloon, Olsson (Meite 80), Barnett, Jara,Thomas, Koren, Dorrans, Teixeira, Moore (Wood 74),Cox (Mulumbu 61).

Subs Not Used: Carson, Bednar, Reid, Martis.

Sent Off: Thomas (37).

Booked: Cox.

Att: 56,592

Ref: Lee Mason (Lancashire).

[+/-]

Arsenal 4-0 Athletic  

Sunday, 20 September 2009

ARSENAL drew a line under recent controversies by recording a straightforward Barclays Premier League victory against Wigan, helped by Thomas Vermaelen's double.

What they needed was a regulation win, and Wigan's limited attacking ambition at the Emirates Stadium meant they were perfect opponents. In the end it was down to Vermaelen to grab the limelight, with the defender scoring his third and fourth goals of the season, the first a powerful header and the second a delightful curling finish. Emmanuel Eboue and Cesc Fabregas completed the scoring.

[+/-]

Arsenal comes from behind to beat Standard Liège  

Thursday, 17 September 2009

LONDON: A giant banner greeted Arsenal on Wednesday night with a simple but imposing message from the ‘Ultras’ of Standard Liège. “Vendetta”, it simply read.

Most of this Arsenal young team probably had little idea what it meant, but the home supporters were determined to ensure their team clearly understood the humiliation that Arsenal had inflicted with a 7-0 victory on their previous visit to this part of Belgium some 16 years ago.

Having taken a 2-0 lead inside five extraordinary minutes, Standard were poised for redemption, but the script was ultimately written for Eduardo – a player who had not even been expected to play following the two-game Uefa ban – to complete the most unlikely of comebacks with the winner in a remarkable 3-2 victory.

Amid all the recent controversy regarding Eduardo’s alleged dive and Emmanuel Adebayor’s antics at Eastlands, the actual football – and specifically Arsenal’s two consecutive defeats in Manchester - was in danger of being forgotten. Not here, although even in victory, Arsenal again looked highly vulnerable in defence and have now managed just one clean sheet in seven matches this season. Familiar problems persist.

Manager Arsène Wenger had suggested at the end of last season that he would add defensive steel and experience to the squad, yet his response was to simply sign a 23-year-old Thomas Vermaelen and allow Kolo Touré and Emmanuel Adebayor, two of his senior players, to leave.

While Eduardo started after having his two-match Uefa ban overturned, the involvement of Standard’s Axel Witsel was equally contentious. Witsel, a Belgium international team-mate of Thomas Vermaelen, has been suspended domestically for eight games after a horror challenge had inflicted a double fracture on the leg of Anderlecht’s Marcin Wasilewski but was cleared to play in Europe.

With Witsel excellent in midfield, Liège’s collective motivation for their first ever appearance in the Champions League was immediately obvious and overwhelming. Upon walking around the old-fashioned and compact Stade Maurice Dufrasne on Tuesday night, Wenger had noted to the Belgium media that he anticipated what he called a “chaud” atmosphere. He was not wrong.

The stadium was like an inferno as the two teams emerged and there was little doubt which side were the most fired up.

While the Standard players were flying into every challenge, Arsenal looked strangely nervous and individual mistakes were quickly forthcoming. Eduardo inexplicably conceded possession after just two minutes, with Eliaquim Mangala gratefully pouncing to shoot beyond Mannone from the edge of the penalty area. Arsenal looked shell-shocked and their lethargic re-start was instantly punished. Milan Jovanovic surged in front of William Gallas, who seemed to stumble and glance the Serbia international's heels.

Referee Eduardo González was satisfied that there had been contact and pointed to the penalty spot, with Jovanovic sending Mannone the wrong way.

Above the 2-0 scoreline on the stadium’s giant television screen was a time of just 4mins 1secs.

The squad that Wenger exudes such faith in was being badly exposed. In mitigation, eight potential first-teamers are currently injured, prompting Wenger to include five teenagers among his seven substitutes. The most surprising selection was the preference for Emmanuel Eboué above Bacary Sagna at right-back, although most heart-warming was the inclusion of Tomas Rosicky for his first club start since he lasted just nine minutes of the 3-0 win against Newcastle on Jan 26, 2008. You would have to go back even further – 22 months to be precise – for his previous Champions League match.

At the time of the injury, Wenger had diagnosed the problem as “strange” rather than serious. It proved both and Rosicky, who had two operations and spent an entire year troubled by constant pain, has since admitted that he feared his career was finished.

The man nicknamed ‘The Little Mozart’ has been missed. His guile, trickery and goal-scoring threat are obvious but, of greatest importance in such a young squad, is his stature and experience. Here he played to the right of Wenger’s fluid 4-2-3-1 formation and it was his influence that gradually gave Arsenal a foothold in the game.

Increasingly they assumed a stranglehold of possession and, on the stroke of half-time, created a lifeline when Abou Diaby span quickly to elude Mangala.

He then fed Nicklas Bendtner, who calmly guided the ball beyond Standard goalkeeper Sinan Bolat.

Arsenal, though, showed they had learned little from the opening 45 minutes when they almost gifted Standard another goal at the beginning of the second-half. Alex Song failed to find Gallas with what should have been a simple pass, allowing Dieudonné Mbokani a clear sight of goal, although his scuffed shot was blocked by Gaël Clichy.

Standard, though, were generally dropping deeper and deeper, with only a last-gasp challenge from Mangala denying Bendtner. An equaliser was becoming inevitable and it arrived in the 78th minute after Vermaelen, on returning to his native Belgium, converted a goal-mouth scramble. Replays suggestedthat at least one Arsenal player was in an offside position, while Song also appeared to handle the ball.

Standard were now utterly deflated and, from a Cesc Fàbregas corner, the ball then rebounded off Eduardo’s knee and beyond Bolat to give Arsenal the most uplifting yet unconvincing of victories.

[+/-]

Arsenal's Eduardo wins appeal against Uefa ban  

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Eduardo da Silva, the Arsenal forward, has won his appeal against a two-match ban imposed for diving in a Champions League qualifying match against Celtic.

The Croatia international had been punished after it was decided that he unfairly won a penalty in the game at the Emirates Stadium. But Uefa has overruled the decision, making the player available for his club's first group-stage matches.

The ruling body said in a statement: "Following examination of all the evidence, notably the declarations of both the referee and the referees' assessor, as well as the video footage, it was not established to the panel's satisfaction that the referee had been deceived in taking his decision on the penalty.

"Therefore, the decision of the Uefa Control and Disciplinary Body of 1 September, in which the player was suspended for two Uefa club competition matches, is annulled."

[+/-]

Manchester City pass first real test  

Monday, 14 September 2009

Manchester City passed the first real test of their Premier League season on Saturday with a 4-2 win over Arsenal to extend their 100 percent record.

"There were a lot of eyes on us today, people saying it would be a proper test. We went out with the right attitude and good mentality and that shone through," manager Mark Hughes told Sky Sports.

"It was a great day for everyone connected with City. The atmosphere was magnificent and that really drew us on.

"We didn't give up that many chances and we were always a threat. We were devastating on the break, all in all it was a great team performance."

Three second-half goals in 10 minutes by Craig Bellamy, Emmanuel Adebayor and Shaun Wright-Phillips ensured victory after the teams were level at 1-1.

"It was important we made a mark today and we did that, we were good value for the win," Hughes told the BBC. "Now we have to sustain that performance from now until the end of the season."

Adebayor, who joined City for 25 million pounds from Arsenal in the summer, upset the visiting fans when he ran the length of the pitch to celebrate in front of them.

"To a certain extent it's understandable given the last 18 months or so, there was a lot of pent-up emotion there," Hughes said.

"But he's already apologised for it. It's an emotional game and he just let his emotions run away with him. It would be a shame if that incident overshadows what was a great game."

Adebayor, who has now scored in all four of City's league wins, told Sky Sports: "I shouldn't have done what I did but the emotion took over me and I'm sorry for what I've done. Scoring today made me feel freedom but I'm sorry, it was a big mistake and these things won't happen any more."

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger had few complaints about the result.

"We made some concentration mistakes and we paid for it," he said. "They were a bit sharper and in defence we were a bit shaky, some players looked tired."

The Frenchman said that City had played well but when asked if they were good enough to crack the top four, he said: "It's too early to say."

[+/-]

Sheikh Mansour has committed £770M to his Man City  

Sheikh Mansour has committed a mind-blowing £770 million to Manchester City since taking control of the club last year, it has been revealed.

The Times says City’s billionaire owner has committed £770.986 million, which includes the £200 million it cost to buy the club, the £342.786 million committed on players’ contracts and £10 million spent on improving the Carrington training headquarters, City of Manchester Stadium and the club’s academy.

Mark Hughes, the City manager, has spent £140 million on six leading players this summer and £218.2 million in transfer fees in total since Sheikh Mansour’s takeover, during which time City’s annual wage bill has more than doubled to just under £95 million.

[+/-]

Wales 1-3 Russia: Andrey Arshavin inspires crucial victory  

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Wales made Russia fight all the way for a World Cup victory that keeps them hot on the heels of Germany in the race for top spot in qualifying Group Four.

The Welsh youngsters produced a spirited display and were more than a match for the Euro 2008 semi-finalists, who took the lead after 36 minutes when the excellent Andrey Arshavin created a fine goal for Igor Semshov, despite some impressive early play from the hosts.

Wales forced their way back into the game when defender James Collins scored on the near post from Aaron Ramsey's corner, before Sergei Ignashevich belted home a free-kick with 18 minutes left and Roman Pavlyuchenko added a third in the closing seconds.

Russia sent on Tottenham striker Roman Pavlyuchenko for Semshov after 70 minutes, and two minutes later they regained the lead.

Kerzhakov went down for what looked a soft free-kick against Gabbidon a yard outside the box, and Sergei Ignashevich drove the free-kick straight through the wall and past Hennessey.

Wales immediately replaced Gabbidon with an extra striker in Sam Vokes.

But Pavlyuchenko almost made it three with a dipping drive that crashed against Hennessey's crossbar.

Russia sent on Alexei Rebko for Kerzhakov with seven minutes left, with Wales still battling away for an equaliser.

A last-minute strike from Pavlyuchenko gave Russia a far more flattering scoreline than the match deserved. Wales - who long ago had conceded any realistic chance of qualifying for the finals - now know that it is mathematically impossible.

[+/-]

Arsenal's Rosicky back on pitch after 20 months  

Arsenal's Czech midfielder Tomas Rosicky made his first competitive appearance after 20 months on the sidelines when he started Wednesday's World Cup qualifier against minnows San Marino.

The 28-year-old, who has scored 19 goals in 68 games for the national team, has been out of action due to injury since January 2008 and has not played for Arsenal in the Premier League since then.

Czech coach Ivan Hasek called up Rosicky to give a boost to a team that is struggling in fifth spot in Group Three, seven points behind leaders Slovakia.

"I am convinced he will be all right. It's been five weeks since his (last) muscle injury, so there's no risk," Hasek told reporters on Tuesday.

"I've also talked to (Arsenal) manager Arsene Wenger and it's possible that Tomas will play against Manchester City on Saturday," he added.

Last Saturday, Rosicky watched from the stands as the Czechs drew 2-2 with neighbours Slovakia in Bratislava.

The Czechs have to win their last three qualifiers -- at home to San Marino, Poland and Northern Ireland -- to stand any chance of qualifying for next summer's tournament in South Africa.

Rosicky last played for the Czech team in November 2007, when his side beat Slovakia 3-1 in Prague on the way to Euro 2008.

[+/-]

Marouane Chamakh to replace Adebayor?  

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

LONDON: Arsene Wenger has been linked with making a bid for Chamakh, who he regards as a well-suited replacement for the departed Emmanuel Adebayor, for much of the summer but the Frenchman will not improve his original offer of £5 million.

Bordeaux are understood to want £8 million for their striker who, with only 12 months remaining on his contract, would become a free agent next summer.

According to the Evening Standard, Chamakh's representatives have been in London this week and are confident a deal will be completed in time.

West Ham are the only other Premier League club to have been linked with making a move for the 25-year-old, but on more than one occasion, Chamakh has outlined his desire to move to the Emirates.

Meanwhile, in a bid to fill the gap left by Kolo Toure Wenger is prepared to pay £12 million for Subotic, who at 6ft 4in would be a welcome influence to Arsenal's backline. But Dortmund have said they will accept nothing short of their £18 million valuation.

Unwilling to pay over the odds for any player regardless of the money they have come into through various summer sales, Arsenal have identified Newcastle's Steven Taylor as another defensive option.

Only one more departure is expected at the Emirates after Wenger told Philippe Senderos he was free to talk with other clubs. Hull are favourites to sign the Swiss international to replace Michael Turner.

[+/-]

Arsenal win against Celtic 2-0  

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Arsenal beat Celtic 2-0 at Celtic Park on a night when nothing went right for Tony Mowbray's side.

Arsene Wenger's side scored two fortuitous away goals to leave Celtic with everything to do in order to qualify for the Champions League group stages.

The Gunners opened the scoring two minutes before half-time when Cesc Fabregas’ free kick deflected into the goal off William Gallas’ back.

And Celtic's bad luck continued when captain Gary Caldwell but the ball into his own net after a fast, low cross from Arsenal left-back Gael Clichy.

Celtic: Boruc, Hinkel, Caldwell, Loovens, Fox, Donati (Fortune), N’Guemo (McCourt), McGeady, Brown, Maloney, Samaras (McDonald). Subs: Zaluska, Naylor, McDonald, Fortune, Flood, McCourt, O'Dea.

Arsenal: Almunia, Clichy, Gallas, Vermaelan, Sagna, Denilson, Song, Fabregas, Arshavin (Diaby), Bendtner, Van Persie. Subs: Mannone, Diaby, Eduardo, Ramsey, Silvestre, Eboue, Gibbs.
Arsenal beat Celtic 2-0 at Celtic Park on a night when nothing went right for Tony Mowbray's side.

[+/-]

Arsenal eye £6m Rafael van der Vaart  

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Arsene Wenger saw his Arsenal side produce a stunning riposte to doubters with a 6-1 win at Everton and then prepared to spend a portion of the £38million raised in the transfer market after Real Madrid's Rafael van der Vaart revealed he hopes to move to the Premier League.

Goals from Denilson, debutant Thomas Vermaelen, William Gallas, Cesc Fabregas (2) and Eduardo saw Wenger's side romp to victory on the first day of the season as title rivals Chelsea recorded a last-gasp 2-1 win over Hull and Manchester City won 2-0 at Blackburn.

Despite Arsenal's dazzling start, Wenger is considering strengthening the squad with 26-year-old midfielder Van der Vaart, who is available for just £6m after becoming involved in a bitter dispute with Real.

Wenger has allowed Emmanuel Adebayor and Kolo Toure to leave for £38m and has been criticised for spending only £8m on centre-half Vermaelen.

Van der Vaart would be a welcome addition, with Tomas Rosicky and Samir Nasri injured, and yesterday the Dutchman said: 'I really want to come to England.

'There are a number of clubs with offers, where I can go in Germany, Spain and Italy. I have also had a request from Martin Jol to go back to Ajax. But none of those options appeal to me. I want to go to the Premier League and I know where I want to play.'

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Arsenal trash Everton by stunning 6 goal  

Arsenal got their season off to a great start as they tore poor Everton apart at Goodison Park with a stunning display.

The visitors were three ahead at the break through Denilson - from the edge of the box - and two headed goals from Thomas Vermaelen and William Gallas.

Things got worse for the Toffees in the second period when Fabregas grabbed two for himself to underline an outstanding personal performance.

Eduardo netted the sixth before Louis Saha scored a consolation goal in injury-time for Everton.

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arsenal has been bid for subotic  

Thursday, 13 August 2009

NEVEN SUBOTIC has had no contact from Arsenal regarding a move away from German side Borussia Dortmund.

The highly rated central defender, 20, was reported to be on Arsene Wenger's shopping list following Kolo Toure's £16million move to Manchester City.

But Subotic's agent, Stephen Kelly, claims he knows nothing of the Gunners' interest in his client.

Kelly said: "There is nothing in the reports linking Neven with Arsenal.

"I don't know where this has all come from.

"He only recently signed a new five-year deal at Dortmund and it would take big money for any move to happen.

"I have had no contact with Arsenal and I have spoken to Dortmund and they have told me that they have had no contact with Arsenal whatsoever."

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Uche joins Etuhu at Fulham  

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Nigeria midfielder Kalu Uche is set to join English Premier League club Fulham for a reported fee of around GBP2.5 million.
The London club agreed the fee with the midfielder's Spanish club Almeria on Monday night, according to The Times.

Uche, 26, has had spells in Europe with Espanyol, Wisla Krakow and Bordeaux.

He won two league titles with Poland's Krakow before being farmed out on loan to Bordeaux and will join his compatriot Dickson Etuhu.

The former Enyimba man made his international debut for Nigeria in a 2-2 draw with Angola in 2003, and has gone on to make 15 appearances.

[+/-]

Premier League - Countdown: Arsenal  

Tuesday, 11 August 2009


- Manuel Almunia -

Bacary Sagna - William Gallas - Thomas Vermaelen - Gael Clichy

Theo Walcott - Cesc Fabregas - Denilson - Samir Nasri

Robin van Persie - Andrei Arshavin

BACK-UPS FROM: Lukasz Fabianski, Vito Mannone, Philippe Senderos, Mikael Silvestre, Johan Djourou, Armand Traore, Kieran Gibbs, Alexander Song, Abou Diaby, Tomas Rosicky, Nicklas Bendtner, Emmanuel Eboue, Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey, Eduardo, Carlos Vela


In - Thomas Vermaelen (Ajax, undisclosed)

Out - Kolo Toure (Manchester City, £16m), Emmanuel Adebayor (Manchester City, undisclosed), Havard Nordtveit (Lillestrom, loan), Fran Merida (Levante, loan), Amaury Bischoff, Rui Fonte, Abu Ogogo, Paul Rodgers, Rene Steer (all released)

POSITIVES: Arsene Wenger's ability to rebuild a side is unparalleled, and if any manager can cope with the loss of senior players Kolo Toure and Emmanuel Adebayor, it is him. He has some outstanding youngsters, including 17-year-old Jack Wilshere, while Andrei Arshavin might just be the most entertaining player in the Premier League.

NEGATIVES: Four years without a trophy is too long, and Wenger knows it. Patrick Vieira has never been adequately replaced, and while Alex Song has the physique he needs to prove he has the intelligence and the temperament. Nearly slipped out of the top four last season - Manchester City's massive spending means that it could be a long way back if they miss the Champions League this term.

VERDICT: Wenger continues to make the most of the resources at his disposal, but without a big cash injection the Gunners will not contend for major silverware. They are too canny to lose fourth place to City, however. 4th.
Mario Hajiloizis / Eurosport

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Bordeaux await Wenger contact  

Bordeaux chairman Jean-Louis Triaud has rejected reports claiming that Arsenal have made an increased bid for Marouane Chamakh.

The two clubs have so far failed to agree a fee for the Morocco international, who has made no secret of his desire to leave Ligue 1 this summer.

Gunners boss Arsene Wenger is unwilling to meet Bordeaux's current asking price of around £10.2million as Chamakh has entered the final year of his contract.

It has been suggested a renewed bid of £7.7million has been offered by Arsenal, but Triaud claims he has not spoken with Arsenal for some time.

He told L'Equipe: "I have not had any sign of life from Arsenal. I am waiting. If Arsene Wenger really wants Marouane, I suppose he will finally get in touch.

"Contrary to what has been said, I am not aware of a €9million offer.

"Will Chamakh stay one more season? I don't know. In front of me I have a player that wants to leave.

"Possible replacements? (Manager) Laurent Blanc has got his list, and he will use it if needed."

[+/-]

Roman Jets Out For £40million Ribery Raid?  

Getting a bit lively in The Transfer Tavern as Ian McGarry from The Sun tells us, that Chelsea owner Roman Abramovic is set to fly out to Germany to “make a £40million raid” on Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich for Franck Ribery.

It said, that the Blues chief called Bayern general manager Uli Hoeness over the weekend and made his intentions clear on luring French International Ribery to Stamford Bridge from the Allianz Arena, with Abramovic prepared to smash the British transfer record to land the winger.

“Uli was taken by surprise by the phone call but was very honest and courteous with Mr Abramovich,” a senior Bayern source is quoted as saying.

“We are still resolved to keep Ribery but Hoeness agreed to meet with Abramovich in Germany to discuss any offer.”

Ian claiming, that Sunsport revealed last month, Premier League champions Manchester United along with Chelsea would make offers for 26-year-old Ribery this summer. Abramovic said to have taken the lead as the Red Devils are yet to make a bid.

It said new Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti had been promised a big-name signing by the Russian billionaire this summer, but has seen offers for Brazilians Alexandre Pato and Kaka end in failure.

Ribery apparently favouring a move to La Liga giants Real Madrid, with Bayern afraid the French star might have signed a similar pre-contract to that of Cristiano Ronaldo and make the switch to the Bernabeu next summer.

So what sort of liquid lubrication helped this one along? Will Abramovic manage to lure Ribery to the Premiership in a £40million deal? Should this rumour Fly or Die?

Player Profile & Video Franck Ribery>>

[+/-]

Arsenal Boss To Test Boards Commitment With £15 million Defender Bid?  

Rumours flying everywhere in The Transfer Tavern as someone from the Daily Mail tells us, that Fulham have “put a £15million price-tag” on defender Brede Hangeland to ward off interest from Premier League rivals Arsenal.

Sportsmail claiming, that the Cottagers are set to demand £15million for the Gunners target as the fight for Norwegian International Hangeland is set to hot up this week.

It said Fulham boss Roy Hodgson could have found a defender to fill any void left by Hangeland in Magnus Troest at Serie A side Genoa, with the Premiership club also interested in Robert Huth at Middlesbrough, but Stoke are also in the hunt for the Boro defender.

So what sort of liquid sauce was at the source of this tale? Are Fulham really going to tell Arsenal to cough up £15million for Hangeland? Should this rumour Fly or Die?

[+/-]

Arsenal Bid €7m for 6ft.5in Argentine defender  

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Arsenal has failed with a €7m bid for Sevilla centre-back Federico Fazio.

Fazio (22) is a giant at 6ft.5in and Arsenal wanted the big Argentine defender to replace Kolo Toure & Phil Senderos who is due to sign for Everton before the weekend.

Fazio is contracted until 2012 and his agent Eduardo Gamarnik insisted: “The situation’s clear. Federico doesn’t want to be sold or loaned.”

Gamarnik has confirmed that Sevilla have rejected a bid of €7m from an unnamed club (Arsenal) for the defender.

Fazio had an injury-plagued second season in Spain during 2008/09, but coach Manolo Jimenez is an admirer of the Argentine’s ability and wants to retain him, as the club returns to the Champions League.

Gamarnik, told newspaper La Razon, “Fazio will play in Sevilla next season. [Chairman] Del Nido has had offers, one of seven million, but it was not accepted. He will play more games this season.”

[+/-]

arshavin double safe gunner to beat atletico madrid  

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Andrey Arshavin came off the bench to net a late brace as Arsenal beat Atletico Madrid in the Emirates Cup.

The Russian, introduced in the second half, produced two superb finishes as the Gunners maintained their promising build-up to the new campaign.

There was also a welcome home return for Czech winger Tomas Rosicky, who had been out of action for some 18 months with a string of niggling injuries -- and his availability for the build-up to the new campaign will be a welcome boost to manager Arsene Wenger following the loss of Samir Nasri to a broken leg. Wenger had named a mixed side, which included Vito Mannone in goal and Robin van Persie, last season's leading scorer, as captain with Cesc Fabregas one of 10 subs.

[+/-]


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