Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Arsenal Team and Transfer News

- Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger admits hamstring victim Cesc Fabregas is desperate to face Chelsea on Sunday.

"We haven't set any date for his return yet," said the Arsenal manager. "Cesc is not with the group at all; he is with the medical people being treated. He is working very hard.

"Cesc is very impatient, but he is not back yet."

- Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger says Jens Lehmann will make a rare appearance tonight against Steaua Bucharest.

The 38-year-old has not featured for the Gunners since August 19 at Blackburn when he made a second high-profile error of the then fledgling season.

Wenger revealed: "Lehmann will start in goal.

"His attitude has been fantastic and when you look at this man the one thing you cannot fault is he is a super professional. Jens is an example for everybody.

"For every goalkeeper it is good to practice, but at some stage you need to play at a competitive level.

"It is not a present. It is to keep him fit and competitive.

"If Jens plays well it does not create a problem.

"Why should it be a problem if a player plays well? It is a problem if he doesn't play well."

Wenger maintained: "For all of us the only target is to do well for the club - and we can only do that if we perform well.

"Jens' long-term future depends on, when you are 38, what you call a long-term future. We haven't spoken about that.

"At the moment I expect him to play well tomorrow."

However, when asked if he expected Lehmann to remain at Arsenal for the second half of the season, Wenger said: "I cannot guarantee that, like for anybody else."

- Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has hit back at claims from Chelsea rival Avram Grant that his squad cannot handle injuries.

Wenger called Arsenal's first defeat of the season, away to Middlesbrough on Monday, a mere blip and hit back at Grant, saying: "We focus on ourselves and our performances. We played a fantastic game against Aston Villa just two games ago. We had a very average game at Middlesbrough and we lost.

"My squad is very determined and very strong. If you had listened to what people said before the season we would be 10th or 12th in the league and be out of everything. At the moment we are in everything."

- Mathieu Flamini is set to be handed a new five-year contract by Arsenal.

The London Evening Standard says the Arsenal midfielder's current deal runs out next summer and he will be free to talk to other clubs about an end-of-season move from next month.

But the 23-year-old, who moved to Arsenal from Marseille in 2004, is on the verge of being handed a lucrative new deal after proving to be a key member of the team.

Negotiations between Flamini's advisers and the club are at an advanced stage and he could soon put pen to paper on a £40,000-a-week deal. That would put him in a middle band of earners on Arsenal's payroll.

- Arsenal striker Nicklas Bendtner is desperate to stake his claim for a long-term place in Arsene Wenger plans when he plays tonight against Champions League opponents Steaua Bucharest.

The 19-year-old spent last season on loan in the Coca-Cola Championship with Birmingham, and intends to repay the faith shown in him by Wenger.

"Every time I get my chance I want to take it, to show people what I can do," said Bendtner, who scored his first European goal in the 7-0 demolition of Slavia Prague during October.

"When you are in a team which plays such great football like Arsenal, it is really difficult to get into the side, but when your chance comes you have to show you are capable of coming in and playing in the team."

Bendtner reflected: "I will just take it as it comes. So far I have been pleased."

Arsenal striker Nicklas Bendtner believes that remaining unbeaten all season was never realistic.

"When you play in such a tough league, [a defeat] is always going to happen," the Denmark forward said after the defeat away to Middlesbrough on Sunday.

- Arsenal are on red alert after Celtic goalkeeper Artur Boruc admitted today he was ready to leave at the end of this season.

Boruc has been linked with the Gunners and AC Milan in recent months and he told The Herald: "I have decided I am going to leave Celtic in the summer.

"Celtic want more than £10m for me but I think it's too much. I have to see what's best for me."

Up The Gunners!

Monday, 10 December 2007

Arsenal Team and Transfer News

- Arsenal goalkeeper Manuel Almunia has again put his hand up for England.

The Spaniard is a year away from becoming a British citizen and, having never represented Spain at any level, the 30-year-old would become eligible to play for England.

"I would never close the door on people who have shown me so much affection," he told Spanish newspaper El Mundo.

"If I can lend England a hand once the time comes for me to be eligible - and I want to thank the country for the support it has shown me - I don't see why I shouldn't play for them. I don't rule it out."

- Arsenal star Manu Adebayor has revealed he's added several kilos to his frame in recent months.

The Togo striker, 23, admits he struggled to live up to his £7million price tag when he arrived at Arsenal from Monaco in January last year.

But extra training has seen him claim the title of a heavyweight striker in the top flight with eight goals.

"I needed to do something," said Adebayor, now 13.5st. "I needed to build up my muscles to take the blows. You have to in England.

"When I got going, I was a lot more powerful. There is no comparison with before. Here, you don't take creatine, only vitamins to recuperate. But we work twice as much.

"I had to progress. I used to take two metres to control the ball. But now the fans are seeing a new Adebayor."

- Robin van Persie is returning to Arsenal training this week.

"Van Persie and Abou Diaby are not far," boss Arsene Wenger told

"From this week they will be back in normal training."

However Wenger added that a return against Steaua Bucharest on Wednesday "looks early".

"We have to see how he [Van Persie] responds to contact training," the Frenchman went on. "Don't forget he has been out for seven or eight weeks and has had no contact until now so we might have to be a little bit patient."

- Veteran midfielder Gilberto insists he is determined to take any chance that comes his way after admitting he is keen to stay at Arsenal.

The Brazilian made what was only his fourth Premier League start of the campaign at Newcastle on Wednesday night.

Gilberto, 31, has been linked with a move away from Emirates Stadium during the transfer window, but is determined to make the most of whatever chances come his way.

"It is nice to get a chance to play a full game but of course I am doing the best I can to get back in the team," Gilberto told the club's official website.

"I will see what happens but of course I want to play in the first XI and I will do my best to achieve that."

The 2002 World Cup winner added: "A big squad is important. At the moment we have a few injuries, but we have other players who can do a great job.

"The manager needs to change the team in some positions but we keep the same spirit and the same way of playing."

- Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger says Newcastle United's performance in Wednesday night's 1-1 draw was just like watching Bolton Wanderers.

He said: "It was exactly the same type of organisation and the same type of play, very direct, very committed and in a 4-3-3.

"You could feel before the game there was a crisis. I anticipated a different game because you could see that no matter if there were differences within the club, it looked like they had made a real union to win this game and fight.

"I must say on their side, everyone was on board because everyone in their team did fight like mad for 90 minutes.

"They made a fight of it and that's why they got a point from it."

Up The Gunners!

Saturday, 8 December 2007

Arsenal Team and Transfer News

- The PFA are attacking the Premiership's foreign contingent in an official report, it has been revealed.

The Sun says its key findings include an attack on Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger for his recruitment of young foreigners.

It shows the massive increase of foreign players in the Premier League since it began in the 1992-93 season.

Then there were 363 English players (71 per cent) in the Premiership, compared to just 49 from overseas (10 per cent). The remainder were from Wales, Scotland and Ireland.

By last season there were just 191 English players (38 per cent), with 252 from abroad (51 per cent).

It is also revealed only 12 foreign players were involved in the opening weekend of the first Premiership season - last weekend there were 138.

The report concludes foreign players are stifling the development of English kids and will do long-term damage to the national team.

Gordon Taylor, the chief executive of the players' union, had hoped to keep the conclusions of the report - called 'Meltdown' - secret until next week.

- Barcelona newspaper columnists believe Arsenal are laughing at their club over the summer sale of Thierry Henry.

Henry joined Barca for £16.1m on a four-year contract in July having missed five months of the 2006-07 season with back trouble. A related injury left him unable to face Espanyol last weekend and initial reports said that he would be out of action "indefinitely".

The Guardian says Catalan columnists have been biting in their criticism, describing Henry's signing as a "huge con" and "massive error".

The newspaper El Mundo Deportivo, recalling that Arsene Wenger had made £30m on the sales of Emmanuel Petit and Marc Overmars to Barcelona, said: "Arsenal must be laughing themselves hoarse."

- Arsenal defender Kolo Toure has described skipper William Gallas as their "maestro".

"We are defending a lot better together than last season. That's the key," declared the Ivory Coast centre-half.

"It is a collective thing. In any team you have a maestro and at the moment William is doing that job. He is the captain and is leading us really well.

"With all the experience he has got, we try to listen to him. He is 30, has played a lot of games and has won a lot of trophies as well - but the main thing is that we work together. We all try to help each other."

Toure added: "In a game when you are a little bit tired or a little bit weak, you have your friend to help you or say to you, 'come on you can make it'. We all say that to each other.

"As a person it gives you focus from one minute in the game. When you have your friend saying, 'come back on your game, give your best, refocus', that gives you strength.

"At the moment we are doing that all together, from the keeper to the striker. That makes a big difference."

- Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is weighing up a deal for DR Congo striker Tresor Mputu.

Reports in Africa suggest the French coach may be ready to move for Mputu, who impressed during a recent trail spell at London Colney.

The 20-year-old's agent claims an offer has already been made, with a deal close to being finalised.

Mputu - dubbed the next Samuel Eto'o - impressed Gunners boss Arsene Wenger and would cost around £500,000.

The star's agent Bajo Bujani says Arsenal have made an offer for Mputu and are ahead of Seville in the race for his signature.

He said: "While Seville have also shown great interest, I believe Tresor will end up in England.

"Arsenal have given TP Mazembe until Monday to respond to their offer.

"I'm convinced that the deal will be completed after the weekend."

- Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger admits Cesc Fabregas is struggling to be fit for their clash with Chelsea next week.

Wenger has ruled Fabregas out of this Sunday's trip to Middlesbrough, together with Alexander Hleb and Mathieu Flamini, and suggested that he may struggle for the game against Chelsea.

"We have no one coming back for Sunday [at Middlesbrough]," said Wenger.

"And to put a date on that is very difficult. If you ask me who will be the first to come back, then I think it could be Mathieu Flamini. Cesc and Alexander Hleb are on the same line but whether they come back next week or in two weeks I don't know."

Fabregas pulled his hamstring in the Champions League defeat against Sevilla last week and, although the team won well at Aston Villa on Saturday in his absence and secured a battling point at Newcastle United on Wednesday night, Wenger believes that they cannot win the Premier League without him.

"What's true in one game is not over 10," the Frenchman said after the 2-1 win at Villa Park. "In a one-off, of course you can do well. But we want Cesc with us. He's a big player. He is world-class."

Up The Gunners!

Monday, 3 December 2007

Arsenal Team and Transfer News

- Alexander Hleb is unlikely to play at Newcastle on Wednesday.

The Arsenal midfielder limped off during the 2-1 win at Aston Villa on Saturday with an Achilles problem. He had only just returned from a hamstring injury and, in addition, that flared up again on the night.

“He had a kick on his Achilles,” said Wenger. “He had a hamstring problem before but we decided to play him. He had a little recurrence and I am not sure he will be available for Newcastle on Wednesday night.”

Arsenal’s treatment table is starting to become crowded. Robin van Persie (knee) has been absent since October while Cesc Fabregas (hamstring) and Abou Diaby (back) sat out the game at Villa Park. Gael Clichy and Alex Hleb only played after fitness tests on the morning of the game.

“My worry at the moment is that we lose players in every game,” said Wenger. “I hope we’ll get them back soon.”

- Emmanuel Adebayor believes Arsenal are proving the doubters wrong but is refusing to contemplate the possibility of the Barclays Premier League leaders going through a domestic season unbeaten for the second time in five years.

They will head into Wednesday's match at Newcastle boasting an eight-month unbeaten league record with their only reversal during the current campaign coming in last week's Champions League game in Seville when they fielded a much-changed side.

Adebayor said: "I know people are starting to say already that we can go unbeaten but I know the most important thing is keep on doing a good job and keep on playing our football.

"Three or four months ago there were people saying 'we are not sure Arsenal are going to finish in the top four', and now they are mentioning we could go unbeaten for the season.

"The most important thing is to focus on our job. We don't care what people are saying. It is good that people are talking good things about the club and we are very happy about those things.

"But the crucial thing is to keep our head on our shoulders, keep on doing a good job, keep on performing like we are now and at the end of the season we can talk about whether we finish unbeaten or not."

- Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger admits he may need to strengthen his defence in January.

"In midfield we have plenty of players," he said. "The only area we might be a bit short is at the back because we have Kolo Toure and Emmanuel Eboue going to the African Nations Cup.

"We might have Johann Djourou back though. We have the option to recall him."

- Arsenal striker Robin van Persie may not be available until the New Year.

The striker last played for Arsenal on October 7 when he struck twice in the 3-2 win over Sunderland at Emirates Stadium. He injured his knee in the international break that followed and has been out of action ever since.

Gunners boss Arsene Wenger said: "It will be two or three more weeks."
The manager said the problem was bigger than first thought, adding: "There is still pain. He is not close, he has no chance at all for next week."

- Arsenal and Manchester United are being linked with Bolton Wanderers goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen.

The People says Jaaskelainen's future is hanging in the balance with the keeper's contract set to expire at the end of the season.

With 10 years under his belt, the 32-year-old is the longest serving player at the club.

But with contract talks having ground to a halt, the shot stopper now seems certain to quit - with Manchester United and Arsenal both expected to move for the player.

- Arsenal's England U17 defender Tom Cruise admits he comes from a family of Gunners season ticket holders.

Cruise told "I have been an Arsenal fan all my life and so being a part of the Club is a dream come true for me and my family. My dad Tom, mum Stephanie and my brother Albert have all supported me and watched almost every game and I know how much it would mean to them for me to make it as a professional at Arsenal.

"At the moment I am concentrating on becoming the best player I can be. I want to play as many games as I can in the Under-18s, but I want to start some games for the Reserves. I have come on as a substitute twice and been on the bench three times but as a defender I think that I would benefit so much from the experience of reserves football."

- The draw for the FA Cup Third Round was made on Sunday. Arsenal were handed a trip to Burnley.

The tie will be played on either Saturday January 5, or Sunday January 6.

- Arsenal have joined the race to sign highly-rated PSV Eindhoven midfielder Ibrahim Afellay after watching him in action over the weekend.

The 21-year-old has emerged as one of the most talented players in the Eredivisie having come through PSV's youth system.

His former boss Ronaldo Koeman, now at Valencia, is thought to be keen and reports suggest he could make a bid as early as January to take him to Spain.

However, Arsenal now look to be in the running after Arsene Wenger dispatched a delegation to take a close looking at Afellay over the weekend as PSV won 1-0 at De Graafschap.

- Aston Villa captain Gareth Barry says Arsenal are the Premiership's outstanding team.

After their 2-1 defeat on Saturday, Barry reflected: "We were taught a footballing lesson in the first half.

"They showed us how to play the game. There is not a team in the country who can touch Arsenal on that style of football."

Up The Gunners!

Sunday, 2 December 2007

Arsenal Team and Transfer News

- Arsenal managed to hold on against a rampant Aston Villa in the second-half to earn a 2-1 victory.

The league leaders were at their free-flowing best in the opening 45 minutes when goals from Mathieu Flamini and Emmanuel Adebayor superseded an early strike from Villa midfielder Craig Gardner.

But in the second half the Gunners had to show their fighting qualities before coming out on top with centre-backs William Gallas and Kolo Toure in outstanding form.

Gunners boss Arsene Wenger said: "We were brilliant and resilient. In the first half we played some absolutely amazing football. We moved the ball quickly, were accurate with our passing in short spaces and made it difficult for Villa.

"In the second half, the physical contribution from Villa and the fact some of our players dropped off a little bit, allowed them back in.

"I felt at the end of the first half we seemed as if we weren't right on top of things and that made it difficult.

"But this is a big result. Because of the belief in the Villa side after their recent good run, we needed something special.

"Maybe in the past, games like that have been our Achilles heel. But we have improved, have more experience and resilience and we panic less."

Flamini's goal could not have been better timed given the absence of leading scorer Cesc Fabregas through injury.

Wenger said: "He was always in the box looking dangerous, and in fairness in big games he has scored important goals. He did that against Liverpool and Chelsea last season."

Emmanuel Adebayor was full of praise for Arsenal teammate Alex Hleb after yesterday's 2-1 win at Aston Villa.

"He is a very good footballer, we know that, he is one of the main players in the squad," Adebayor told Setanta Sports after the game.

"He has the technique, he has the ability and I think he is one of the greatest players I have played with."

Mathieu Flamini also had positive words for Hleb, who was forced off the pitch in the second-half after a crunching challenge from Villa striker John Carew.

"He is a good friend of mine and he played very well today," said Flamini. "I hope he has not got a big injury and I hope he will be ready for Wednesday (against Newcastle) because he is an important player for us."

- Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is expected to recall defender Johan Djourou from his loan at Birmingham City.

With defenders Kolo Toure and Emmanuel Eboue set to leave Arsenal in January for the African Nations Cup, Wenger is expected to recall Switzerland international Djourou as cover.

- Arsenal keeper Manuel Almunia has revealed that he and Gunners goalkeeping rival Jens Lehmann are no longer on speaking terms.

Almunia deputised for Lehmann earlier in the season while the German international was sidelined through injury.

The Spaniard has since become Arsene Wenger's first-choice stopper, meaning the now fit Lehmann has had to settle for a place on the bench.

"We maintain a distance. There is no dialogue. It's better for me that way. I'm a lot calmer not talking to him," he said in The Sun.

"I'm having the best time of my career, enjoying each game as if it is my last. I like living fully in the present."

Up The Gunners!

Friday, 30 November 2007

Arsenal Team and Transfer News

- Statistics compiled by Eurosport's Champions League European Power Ranking have placed Arsenal as the top club in European football, ahead of Manchester United and Real Madrid.

The ranking takes into account both continental and domestic games, and are calculated using co-efficient:

The standings are as follows: 1 (1) Arsenal - 27.69, 2 (2) Manchester United - 25.71, 3 (3) Internazionale - 22.92, 4 (4) Barcelona - 22.88, 5 (5) Real Madrid - 21.15, 6 (6) Porto - 20.55, 7 (7) Chelsea - 20, 8 (8) Roma - 19.17, 9 (9) Milan - 19.08, 10 (10) Liverpool - 18.72

- Arsene Wenger has revealed he fully expects starlet Carlos Vela to be a part of his first-team squad next season.

The 18-year-old frontman, who is yet to feature for the Gunners, signed from Mexican outfit Guadalajara in January and is spending this season on loan at Spanish side Osasuna.

Vela was one of the brightest prospects from the Under-17s World Cup in 2005, and has netted one goal in three La Liga starts so far this term.

But although he is out of sight, the youngster - who hit eight goals for Spanish Second Division Salamanca last season - is hardly out of Wenger's mind.

"We scout him every week when he plays," said Wenger. "He can apply for a passport in March and normally he will start with us next summer.

"He will straight away be with the first-team and after that it is up to him to get a place in the side.

"I sent him to Spain because he comes from a Mexican culture and it is easier to adapt in Europe. He has what we like here at Arsenal. He is a good passer of the ball and a finisher.

"He has that intelligent movement with very good technique and great pace," Wenger told the club's website.

- Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger says Manuel Almunia is very close to winning a maiden Spain call-up.

Wenger told, "I know that. There are always noises coming out of the camp so I know that this is thought about.

"It is a little bit like the Gregory Coupet story in France where he came late to Lyon and then the national team.

"But overall goalkeepers careers can start late. Sometimes it is down to getting the right chance and the right moment.

"I feel as well he was here in an environment with top-class keepers around him in the team like Lehmann who test you and push you. Certainly Gerry Peyton has helped him as goalkeeper coach as well.

"The conjunction of all these qualities has made him a better goalkeeper. But first of all, he has a fantastic attitude and wants always to improve."

- Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger says Cesc Fabregas will miss at least the next two games with his hamstring strain.

Fabregas is out of tomorrow's trip to Aston Villa and Wednesday's game at Newcastle after picking up a hamstring injury in Seville.

Wenger said: "We are pessimistic for him. He has no chance for next week."

- Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is unhappy with his Champions League touchline ban.

The Frenchman was sent to the stands by referee Eric Braamhaar during the 3-1 defeat in Sevilla on Tuesday night, after complaining about what he felt was time-wasting by home captain Daniel Alves.

However, Wenger watched the closing stages of the match from beside the advertising hoardings near the tunnel, which did not go down well with the fourth official, whose behaviour Wenger labelled as "absolutely shocking".

The one-match ban will come into force for the final Group H game against Steaua Bucharest at Emirates Stadium on December 12, although UEFA could, given Wenger's reluctance to leave the tunnel area, increase it when their disciplinary committee sits the following day.

Wenger declared: "I am not saying I am an angel on the touchline, but I have done much worse than what I did on Tuesday night.

"I am like everybody, sometimes there are periods when I am nervous and explode a bit quicker, but overall I try to control it.

"At the end of the day I know what I have done, and I know I have not done a lot.

"It's like if the speed limit is 60mph, sometimes you are not caught when you drive 70mph and sometimes you are caught when you drive 61. I drove 60 and a half.

"I was surprised that I was sent off for what I said.

"I said it was naive to give Alves time to waste that time. I said 'I bet with you he will sprint in two minutes'. It was less than two minutes."

Up The Gunners!

Thursday, 29 November 2007

Arsenal Team and Transfer News

- Arsenal midfielder Cesc Fabregas insists he has not suffered a hamstring injury.

The Times says Cesc said that he will be fit to play against Aston Villa on Saturday. The midfield player was taken off with a hamstring problem in the second half against Seville.

"I felt my hamstring in the first half," he said. "I kept going, but I felt it again in the second half. I just came off to prevent something. It's the first time in my life I have felt this and I didn't want to take a risk. I'd say I'll be fit for Saturday, but the doctors are always trying to be a little bit careful. We will see the reaction.

"It's hard losing. We want to win, but you will not win all your life. One day you have to lose. We have lost against a good side and that's it. We will try to come back and win on Saturday. We have three important games and the league is the most important thing now for us."

- Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is being handed a Champions League ban after his dismissal during Tuesday's 3-1 defeat at Sevilla.

Wenger was sent from the technical area for arguing with Belgian ref Eric Braamhaar. But he ignored the orders of fourth official Reinold Wiedemeijer to go to the stands and watched the final 10 minutes at the entrance to the players' tunnel.

That defiance is certain to land him in further hot water when Braamhaar's official report reaches UEFA HQ.

A spokesman said: "Article 70 of our disciplinary code states any coach who is sent off during a game must immediately remove himself to the stands.

"That is what happened with Barcelona coach Frank Rijkaard in Lyon on Tuesday. It is no excuse for a manager to say he could not find a seat."

- Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger insists he isn't concerned about any long-term damage after giving up their unbeaten run at Sevilla this week.

Wenger chose to rest the likes of William Gallas and Manu Adebayor and said: "I don't regret taking the gamble, I wanted to expose some players to the top level and that is what I have done.

"I'm not worried about that because we did not have our usual team out.

"I feel we started the game well and went 1-0 up, and then after we became too easy and lost urgency and we were punished, giving two goals away from a position when we were not in trouble.

"After that Sevilla made it a very physical game and they won the battle in the second half because we dropped physically, and because many players who had not played at that level struggled to live with them physically.

"Congratulations to Sevilla, they deserved to win in the end."

Arsenal's 3-1 loss at Sevilla was not only their first competitive defeat since April, but they were also the first goals the Gunners' defence had leaked in seven European matches this season.

Wenger was not overly concerned with those statistics though, insisting he has greater priorities.

"For me the unbeaten record in the Champions League is not important, what is important is to qualify," he said.

"The Premiership is important for us. We had to make some decisions because we have a very heavy programme and that some players have played all the games like Cesc Fabregas (hamstring), who got injured tonight.

"We have a very important December and I knew that we had to make choices between the competitions. For me, December is based on the championship."

- Arsenal midfielder Cesc Fabregas is targeting glory for club and country this season.

Cesc declared: "I want to have a good season with Arsenal, play my best possible to win an important title, because this club deserves it.

"And later to go to the European Championships and win it... I believe that we have a very powerful team for that competition. We are a squad with great desire, very young but with much experience despite of that youth."
Asked also about fresh interest from Barcelona and Real Madrid, Cesc was adamant:

"I am very calm and with the club where I want to be, playing the football that I like and with incredible teammates.

"This club always has treated me phenomenally well and I am grateful to everyone there."

- Cesc Fabregas has defended Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger over his team selection for Tuesday night's defeat at Sevilla.

Fabregas said: "The only team that can do something as brave as that to develop young players is Arsenal. The manager only deserves praise for it. I have also learned from defeats like that in the past when I was a younger player."

Up The Gunners!

Monday, 26 November 2007

Arsenal Team and Transfer News

- Chelsea fullback Ashley Cole admits he was surprised to be booed by Derby fans in Saturday's victory.

But it has not escaped Cole's notice that his return from an ankle injury has left him in the firing line when he visits former club Arsenal a fortnight on Sunday. He said: "I got booed and I didn't even play on Wednesday.

"Compared to what happened to the England guys, I am sure I will get much worse when I go back to Arsenal but I am used to it.

"I'm going there to front up. At Stamford Bridge, Arsenal's supporters threw money at me.

"That was bad but I get it at every game. I love it.

"I'm going there with nothing to prove. They know how good I was when I was with them and what I did for the club.

"It would be nice to go there and shut some people up. It's going to be tough though."

- Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has hailed the attitude of midfielder Mathieu Flamini after the Frenchman won his first cap last week.

"He got his first cap and we are all happy for him," Wenger told "Since the begin of the season you judge Flamini on performances and you cannot fault him on that. He has done a job in every area of his game, defensively, tactically as a team player, and we know as well he can turn up and score a goal.

"I tried to be fair with him, as he considered his future. I could not stop him from leaving but told him if he stays, he knew the rules.

"We can only respect that mental strength and that character and to show on the pitch how good you are. It gives you confidence when you are 23 years old like Mathieu."

- Arsene Wenger intends to give some of his young Gunners another chance to impress in Arsenal's forthcoming Champions League trip to Sevilla.

Tuesday's encounter at Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan Stadium could well decide who finishes top of Group H, with the Spaniards needing only to avoid defeat to safeguard their own safe passage into the knockout stages.

Sevilla - then under the guidance of new Tottenham manager Juande Ramos - were swept aside 3-0 at Emirates Stadium earlier in the campaign but would leapfrog Arsenal with victory on their own ground.

Wenger maintains the likes of Lassana Diarra, Alex Song, Nicklas Bendtner, Justin Hoyte and Theo Walcott will all again be in contention to show what they can do at the highest level.

"Some players will be rested for Sevilla. I will rotate and it will be maybe a similar side to that against Slavia," the Arsenal manager said.

"It is an exciting match because it gives some players the chance to show how good they are in a very different context because first place is at stake. I think it is an important game to play."

Wenger added: "First place is important but I have to try and combine all the situations I face.

"Some players played two games last week with internationals and then on Saturday and Tuesday again.

"You could gain some more injuries and knowing the amount of games we have in December, we have to make a choice."

- LA Galaxy star David Beckham will train with Arsenal during the MLS offseason.

The Sunday Express says Becks will jet into England in January to keep him in full fitness during LA Galaxy's close season, the former Manchester United star will train with the Gunners for an initial four weeks.

Arsenal's superb training ground in Hertfordshire is just a 45-minute drive away from the family home at Beckingham Palace, so travelling after his long-haul jaunts won't be a problem.

Beckham also had invitations to train with West Ham and Watford but 'joining' Arsene Wenger's footballing academy was too hard to resist.

In fact, he worked out with the Gunners in the build up to England's clash with Croatia before he officially joined up with the full squad.

- Arsene Wenger hailed the resilience of his Arsenal side and "special" captain William Gallas after the Premier League leaders beat Wigan 2-0.

The Gunners extended their advantage at the top of the table after seeing off a determined Wigan with two late goals at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday.

Arsenal have now gone 28 matches without defeat, as a side missing six regulars because of injury and suspension showed their determination to mount a sustained title challenge this season.

Gallas struck with a header seven minutes from time, before Tomas Rosicky finished a fine move two minutes later to make sure of a second straight league win which made the most of Manchester United's surprise defeat at Bolton.

Wenger said: "Wigan played well defensively. We needed something special and some patience to find an opening, and Gallas found it.

"He is a forgotten centre-forward because he knows where to be in the box and he can always turn up with a goal when you need it.

"Once again we found the resources to win the game. It is not the first time, so I do not feel it is a coincidence."

- Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger believes they can lift the nation by winning the Champions League this season.

He said: "It would certainly help. I have been in England for 11 years and I am proud and happy when England are doing well.

"In football you have not only joy but a lot of suffering and England are going through that at the moment.

"But football is such a big love for the people in this country and I think they will come out of it."

Up The Gunners!

Sunday, 25 November 2007

Arsenal Team and Transfer News

- Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is confident Theo Walcott has avoided serious damage after being forced off late on in yesterday's 2-0 victory over Wigan Athletic.

"Theo does not look bad," said the Arsenal manager. "The physio told me he had to come off straight away because he was numb as he had been kicked on the nerve.

"He twisted his ankle and we checked it on the X-ray, and he looks all right."

- Arsene Wenger has played down talk of a move for Lazio attacking midfielder Goran Pandev.

After victory over Wigan Athletic, Wenger said: "Pandev? Yes, I know him. No, we're not looking for anybody at the moment."

- Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has hailed the attitude of midfielder Mathieu Flamini after the Frenchman won his first cap last week.

"He got his first cap and we are all happy for him," Wenger told "Since the begin of the season you judge Flamini on performances and you cannot fault him on that. He has done a job in every area of his game, defensively, tactically as a team player, and we know as well he can turn up and score a goal.

"I tried to be fair with him [when he considered his future]. I could not stop him from leaving but told him if he stays, he knew the rules.

"We can only respect that mental strength and that character and to show on the pitch how good you are. It gives you confidence when you are 23 years old like Mathieu."

- Arsene Wenger is chasing Cruzeiro goalkeeper Fabio.

The Mirror says Fabio has an Italian passport through his family ties and is catching the eye of European scouts, including the Gunners.

Fabio said: "I've a deal signed with Cruzeiro until the end of this year but after that I would like to move to Europe and if that happens in January then that is up to the clubs involved.

"I've heard of the interest from Wenger but it is too soon to think or talk about it too much.

"But I'm prepared to make the big jump to European football as that's a great challenge for any player."

- Manchester City are ready to pounce for Arsenal goalkeeper Jens Lehmann.

The Mirror says City are set to move for the 38 year-old Germany international as Gunners boss Arsene Wenger plans to bring in a new keeper when the market reopens in January.

- Arsene Wenger has been impressed with Tresor Mputu during his trial at Arsenal.

The 20-year-old striker has a growing reputation in Africa. He was the top scorer in the Continent's Champions League as his club, TP Mazembe, reached the last 16.

Mputu hit two hat-tricks and amassed an incredible nine goals in his first four games. He also has five goals in 10 appearances for DR Congo.

No decision has been made on Mputu but, when he spoke to, the Arsenal manager seemed suitably interested.

"He is on trial and I have to go down to test him today," said Wenger. "He is a creative player and wants a chance in Europe. He has impressed so far."

- Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has vowed he is "happy to help" if the Football Association want to consult him for advice about the vacant England manager's job but emphasised he is not interested in succeeding the sacked Steve McClaren.

The Football Association will now begin their search for a successor and the soul-searching continues for answers to the abject failure of some of the Barclays Premier League's top stars who again failed to deliver for their country.

Wenger, though, reflected on the experiences of France, who failed to reach the 1994 World Cup in the United States, but then won it four years later as hosts.

The Frenchman, often criticised for a lack of home-grown talent in his own squad, said: "I don't think it is a disaster, but it is a massive disappointment.

"It is up to England to see how they respond to the situation now.

"Immediately, in the present, it is a massive handicap. On the future for the World Cup 2010 it can be an advantage if the right measures are taken now."

Wenger was himself once approached for the England job by the FA, but has always maintained his interest lies only in club football.

"I am always happy to help if I can," Wenger told

"I am not sure I am really gifted for that, but if they want to know my opinion - and it is a confidential one - then I am always happy."

Wenger, who recently agreed a new deal to keep him at Emirates Stadium until 2011, still believes an Englishman would be best suited to the job of national team boss.

"If I was English then of course I'd be interested," the Frenchman, 58, said.

"But I am not so it is a 'no'. That is in line with what I have always said.

"In my opinion, the England manager should be English."

- Arsenal captain William Gallas has revealed he's enjoying working with the club's coaching staff in this season's new role.

"Being captain at Arsenal, I am directly involved in talks with the coach and officials," said Gallas.

"I like those new responsibilities, I really have fun with the talks I have with Arsene (Wenger)."

- Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is confident Eduardo da Silva can take his Croatia form into today's match against Wigan Athletic.

Wenger said: "We have had to be patient with him but I know things will come good for Eduardo.

"Alex Hleb has been with us for more than two years, yet it is only this season that people have seen how good he really is.

"Eduardo has a good attitude and works hard but has had to adapt. And because he is a quiet person perhaps it takes him longer."

Eduardo is due to partner Emmanuel Adebayor at home to struggling Wigan today.

And Wenger rules out any danger of a backlash from the crowd for the hitman's contribution to England's Euro 2008 exit.

He said: "The people in England will understand. He was just doing his job. But Eduardo's success for Croatia will help his confidence.

"He knows he will go to Euro 2008 as a player who counts in Europe at a big club. I am looking for him to come strong in the second half of the season."

- Bolton Wanderers striker Nicolas Anelka admits he regrets quitting Arsenal for Real Madrid earlier in his career.

Anelka, 28, admitted: "If you look now at the situation Arsenal are in and look at where I am, then you could say maybe I should have stayed.

"Of course, I would like to play in that team. Which striker wouldn't like to be part of a team that plays such amazing football?

"But the way they are playing, who's to say I'd even get in that team?"

Up The Gunners!

Arsenal v Wigan ~ 24-11-07

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger was delighted with the determination of his players after late goals secure a 2-0 win over Wigan Athletic.

Skipper William Gallas struck with a header seven minutes from time, before Tomas Rosicky finished a fine move two minutes later to make sure of a second straight league win which made the most of Manchester United's surprise defeat at Bolton.

Wenger said: "Wigan played well defensively. We needed something special and some patience to find an opening, and Gallas found it.

"He is a forgotten centre-forward because he knows where to be in the box and he can always turn up with a goal when you need it.

"Once again we found the resources to win the game. It is not the first time, so I do not feel it is a coincidence."

Wenger added: "The three point gap is good for us because it strengthens our belief that we can compete at the top and we need that.

"We have a strong December and every point we can be ahead at the moment can be very good for us."

Up The Gunners!