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.”

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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 InsĂșa 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

"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.”

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