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."

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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