Thursday, 17 April 2014

Arsene Wenger tips star to become Player of the Season next season

Arsene Wenger has tipped record signing Mesut Ozil to come good during his second season at the club.

The German, who has been out of action for the last five weeks after picking up a hamstring injury in the Gunners 1-1 draw with Bayern Munich last month, is expected back for Sunday's trip to fellow FA Cup finalists Hull City.

In his debut Premier League campaign, Ozil has failed to win over a section of Gooners and some believe has not warranted his £42.5million price tag.

However in 22 league appearances he's provided eight assists and scored four goals himself.

Wenger though believes Ozil will build on his first season in English football and become an even better player in his second.

The Arsenal boss told the media this morning:
"Ozil had a jaded period but I will put him on the list to be Player of the Season next season"
Wenger will put Ozil through a fitness test before deciding whether to play him at the KC Stadium on Sunday.

The Arsenal manager provided a bulletin on the availability of some of his other stars when he spoke to the media earlier. 

Team News: Wenger gives updates on Ozil, Monreal and Gibbs

Arsene Wenger has confirmed Mesut Ozil should be fit to play his first Arsenal match in five weeks.

The Gunners record signing is expected to be available for Arsenal's trip to the KC Stadium to play Hull City on Sunday.

The Arsenal manager also confirmed defender Nacho Monreal was back in contention but that Kieran Gibbs was out.

Neither of Wenger's left-backs have been involved since the FA Cup semi final with Wigan, with captain Thomas Vermaelen used there in the 3-1 win over West Ham on Tuesday night.

Mathieu Flamini will be available for selection again after serving his two match suspension.

Arsenal must fight off PSG, Monaco and Bayern Munich to keep defender

Arsenal must convince Laurent Koscielny to sign a new contract to fight off the interest from Paris St–Germain, Monaco and Bayern Munich.

The Daily Telegraph reports the two French clubs and the European champions are set to pounce for the 28-year-old who signed from Lorient in 2010.

Koscielny has played in all but six league games this season and has created a fantastic partnership with Per Mertesacker in the centre of the Gunners defence.

But the Frenchman is on only £50,000-a-week at Arsenal and the newspaper reports Gunner executives want to put him on a new deal which would see him earn the same as Mertesacker, who signed a £90,000-a-week-deal earlier this year.

Last year Koscielny said:
"I want to lift trophies and to have a winning record. I hope the club will give me the means. If this weren't the case, I'd look elsewhere. I want to win titles and I hope the club have the means. 
"I feel good at Arsenal and if the club can compete with the best, I have no reason to leave. But if it fights every year for Champions League qualification it's hard psychologically to be under such constant pressure."
Koscielny has three years remaining on his present deal until the summer of 2017.

Referee who sent Wenger off for kicking water bottle handed cup final

The referee who helped send Arsene Wenger off for kicking a water bottle during an Arsenal's defeat against Manchester United will officiate the FA Cup Final.

Lee Probert will referee game between Arsenal and Hull on May 17.

The 41-year-old Wiltshire official memorably played a part in getting Wenger sent to the stands in the Gunners 2-1 defeat at Old Trafford in 2009.

The Arsenal boss reacted furiously - kicked a plastic water bottle on the touchline - after Abou Diaby scored an own goal in the game, a reaction Probert took exception to.

Acting as the fourth official that day, Probert called over referee Mike Dean to send Wenger off.

This hasn't stopped the FA handing the official May's showpiece event.

Probert will be joined by assistant referees Jake Collin and Mick McDonough with Kevin Friend as fourth official and Simon Bennett the reserve assistant referee.

Probert said:
"To be given the opportunity to walk out as the referee for an FA Cup final is the highest accolade in English football. It's a massive honour and I am absolutely delighted. 
"It still hasn't really sunk in to be honest. When I got the phone call, I have to say I did shed a tear and look to the sky. The first person I thought about was my dad, who I lost six years ago.
"He was always there to support me throughout my career and it's payback for all his hard work, taking me here, there and everywhere, encouraging me to never give up. When I walk out on 17 May, I know he'll be chuffed to bits."
Watch: Gordon Strachan narrates Wenger being sent off

Szczesny: I just want the trophy - Nevermind if I don't play

Wojciech Szczesny has admitted he would rather Arsenal picked up the FA Cup than play in the final himself.

Arsenal's first choice goalkeeper has yet to play in any of the matches in the FA Cup this season

Instead compatriot Lukasz Fabianski has been picked by Arsene Wenger to start in all five games which have seen him produce man of the match displays in four of the ties.

And with May's Wembley final on the horizon, Szczesny has admitted he'd rather the club picked up their first trophy in nine years than play in the show piece event himself.

The 23-year-old said:
"As an Arsenal fan, I just want to get the trophy. It is not so much, for me, playing in the competition. 
"Lukasz has been doing really well and he was the penalty shoot-out hero at Wembley. I was very happy for him.  
"For us it is massive to get a trophy and I hope we can please everyone at the club."
He added:
"It is up to the manager. Lukasz has done really well and he deserves a lot of credit.  
"I would love to play, obviously, but it is the manager's decision."
The Gunners face Hull City on May 17 at Wembley in the final. 

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Arsenal v West Ham player ratings: Santi & Poldi steal the show

Arsenal v West Ham player ratings
Premier League at the Emirates

Wojciech Szczensy - Had little to do. Commanded his area well. Might have hoped he'd have better luck with the West Ham goal but it wasn't his error - 5

Bacary Sanga - Worked hard for the team as always and danerous in the final third. Will be missed when he goes in the summer - 7

Per Mertesacker - Dealt with the treat of Andy Carroll well. Calm and composed with the ball and seemed to be more on his A game. Perhaps that might be down to the return of his French friend - 6

Laurent Koscielny - Should probably have closed the ball down quicker for the West Ham goal but his attempt to take off Matt Jarvis' head to prevent the ball was admirable. Had little else to do and was probably a good come back game - 5

Thomas Vermaelen - Didn't look out of place like he sometimes can at left back and made up for his error for the West Ham goal by providing an assist for Olivier Giroud's goal. Probably won't be in the team when Gibbs/Monreal returns - 5

Mikel Arteta - Another solid performance from the Spaniard who was taking no prisoners last night. Remarkable that he looked as fresh as anyone else on the pitch despite playing a lot of football in the past week. - 7

Kim Kallstrom - Making his full debut he wasn't afraid to put in the tackles or ask questions of his team mates with his sometimes wayward passing. Looked assured and kept running for the team despite sometimes not knowing where to stand - 7

Tomas Rosicky - His engine doesn't stop turning and neither does the Czech's thoughts about always playing forward. Was unlucky a few of his passes in the final third didn't come off and looked like the Arsenal player who would make something happen in the first half - 6

Santi Cazorla - Looked laboured in the first half where he didn't seem to want to work for the team but produced a much better performance in the second half. A great interception and pass for Podolski's goal. Ran the show after half time - 8

Lukas Podolski - Scored two vital goals and as always seemed to cause fear in the opposition defence when he got into the final third. Both finishes were well taken - 8

Oliver Giroud - Overshadowed Podolski's goals with a wonderful strike of his own, which seemed to be impossible from a player who doesn't always rise to the occassion. Looked refreshed after scoring. Hopefully he's got his mojo back - 7


Aaron Ramsey - Oh how we've missed the Welshman. Seeing him perform against at such a high level after being out for more than 100 days leaves you wishing what might have been. Good assist for Podolski's second goal - 7

Carl Jenkinson - Came on, ran around and tried to get involved. Didn't put a foot wrong in his seven minute cameo - 6

Arsenal invincible: "I just cannot see life without football for Arsene Wenger"

Martin Keown believes Arsene Wenger will have a role in football even if he decides to leave Arsenal when his contract expires this summer.

The former Gunners defender says the Frenchman's love for the game is what drives him on from day to day.

Wenger's two year contract extension, worth £8million a season, remains unsigned. It will be a talking point when the Arsenal board meet this week.

Keown, who was part of the Arsenal team which won the league unbeaten in 2003/4, told BBC Radio Five Live:
"I honestly don't think he [Arsene Wenger] is looking beyond from game to game. 
"It would all come as a huge surprise to him if he didn't get into the top four, just as much as it would have been a huge surprised if he hadn't got to the cup final. 
"That's how he is. He's very pragmatic. He's organised. He's trying to build this team for the future. He loves his football. 
"I just cannot see life without football for Arsene Wenger. 
"There isn't a crisis in every day of the week for him. He's a very calm man to be around. 
"He doesn't assess things as much as we do in the media.  
"At the weekend, watching that FA Cup game, I cannot remember being as frustrated as I was that afternoon ever as an Arsenal fan. 
"By hook or by crook they managed to get through that tie. 
"When ever you win things it always looks perfect, when you look back. 
"But I remember some very nervy difficult evenings trying to become successful in that Arsenal team. 
"It wasn't always pretty. We managed to do it. Maybe there isn't quite the exposure there is now but that would have been a long way back from losing that one and not getting through against Wigan. 
"That's one step. The next step is to get into the Champions League."
The Gunners made a huge step forward in their bid to secure fourth place with a win over West Ham last night. Two goals from Lukas Podolski and a beautiful strike from Olivier Giroud ensured Wenger's men took all three points in their 3-1 win.

Gary Neville tips Arsenal to secure a top four finish

Gary Neville believes if Arsenal achieve a top four finish and win the FA Cup it will have been a good season for Arsene Wenger's side.

The former England international turned Sky Sports pundit has also tipped the Gunners to achieve both goals because he doesn't believe Everton have what it takes to not drop points in all their remaining fixtures.

Arsenal came back from a goal down to beat West Ham at the Emirates on Tuesday night and leap frogged Everton into fourth place by a point. The Toffees have a chance to regain the Champions League spot with a win over Crystal Palace at Goodison Park tonight.

Neville told Sky Sports viewers:
"We've probably expected them to do better having been in the position they were two or three months ago, where there was talk about the title. 
"I think to be fair if they got fourth and if they won the FA Cup I think it would be a great season for them. 
"I think in terms of tonight they've haven't been at their best but they're playing against teams that even if they're not at their best they can win. 
"Everton have won a couple of games in the last few weeks against Fulham away, at Sunderland where they haven't been at their best. 
"I think there is games that they've got: Southampton away, City and United where they are going to have to be at their absolute best to get full points. 
"And I don't think Everton will get full points out of those games and that's why I think Arsenal will get fourth. 
"We'll see. But that is where I think Arsenal have that edge over Everton."
Arsenal play follow FA Cup finalists Hull City this Sunday, followed by games against Newcastle (H), West Brom (H) and Norwich (A).

After facing Crystal Palace tonight, Everton play Manchester United (H), Southampton (A), Manchester City (H) and Hull City (A).

Arsene Wenger reveals why he cannot play Lukas Podolski up front

Arsene Wenger has admitted he's been tempted to play two strikers up front but says he's unable to do so because he's without injured Theo Walcott.

The Frenchman switched to a 4-4-2 formation for the closing stages of Saturday's FA Cup semi final against Wigan, with Olivier Giroud and Yaya Sanogo leading the line.

But it's rare to see the Gunners play with two strikers down the middle and Wenger has explained why he hasn't employed Lukas Podolski in a central role.

Speaking after Tuesday night's 3-1 win over West Ham, Wenger said:
"I am tempted [to play two strikers in the middle] but I have so many offensive players, who all want to go in the middle, and Lukas is the only one who is really a wide player.  
"Rosicky is a central player, Cazorla is basically a central player, and when you don't have Walcott it's very difficult to do that."
Wenger added:
"I played him [Podolski] centre forward a few times and I felt he came a lot to the ball, more like an off-striker than a target striker.  
"But he is a fantastic finisher because he has unbelievable power and a very short backlift.  
"So the one you want to have a chance is him."
Podolski's brace last night took the German to ten goals from 22 appearances in all competitions. 

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Podolski: Today was the first step towards Champions League qualification

Lukas Podolski believes Arsenal's win over West Ham was their first step towards securing Champions League qualification.

The German scored a brace in the Gunners 3-1 win over their London rivals and three points which propels them above Everton into fourth place - for 24 hours at least.

The attacker latched on to a Santi Cazorla pass and then fired a snap shot into the far corner to put the Gunners level after they had fallen behind from Matt Jarvis' opener.

Podolski added his second 12 minutes before the end, combining with Olivier Giroud and Aaron Ramsey to fire a close range shot into the roof of the net.

It was the Gunners first league win in five league games, following the north London derby win over Spurs at White Hart Lane.

Podolski told Sky Sports:
"After the FA Cup is was important that we switch on to the Premier League....we must fight for the fourth place. 
"We want to play next year in the Champions League - it is very important and we must watch from game to game. 
"Today was the first step which was very important, now let's focus on our next game."
The Gunners travel to fellow FA Cup finalist Hull City on Sunday, but not before Everton face Crystal Palace at Goodison Park on Wednesday night as the battle for the last Champions League spot intensifies.

Man of the match Cazorla said he knew what was at stake from tonight's result.

The Spaniard said:
"The most important thing tonight was the win, we need to win all the games."
And on linking up with Podolski for the opener, he added:
"It's easy when I have an understanding with Lukas, always in training every day. The most important thing was the win and now we freshen up for Sunday."

Wenger confirms Arsenal's record signing should be fit for Sunday

Arsene Wenger has confirmed Mesut Ozil should be fit to play his first Arsenal match in five weeks.

The Gunners record signing is expected to be available for Arsenal's trip to the KC Stadium to play Hull City on Sunday.

The Arsenal manager also confirmed French midfielder Abou Diaby will return to full training on Thursday.

However Wenger told reporters he is unsure whether Diaby will play for the first team this season.

Wenger said:
"Abou is back in full training on Thursday.  
"It's very difficult to say [if he will play this season] because he has not played for over a year now, and it's very difficult for me [to decide].  
"He looks physically fine, but he has to play one or two games before I consider bringing him back."

Podolski's brace and Giroud wonder goal secure three points for the Gunners

A Lukas Podolski brace and a wonder goal from Olivier Giroud won Arsenal all three points that put them back into the top four.

The German completed 90 minutes in the league for only the third time in his Gunners career and scored two poachers goals at important times of the game to ensure Arsene Wenger's men got all three points.

The goal of the night was scored by Giroud, who with the deftest of touches first controlled the ball under the pressure of two West Ham players and then shot through the legs of the Hammers goalkeeper.

The north London side go back into the Champions League position for 24 hours at least, until Everton play Crystal Palace tomorrow night.

Wenger made five changes from the side which won through to the FA Cup final. Wojciech Szczesny returned in goal in place of Lukasz Fabianski, Laurent Kosciielny was recalled in place of Nacho Monreal, Kim Kallstrom handed his first start with Aaron Ramsey dropped to the bench, Tomas Rosicky came in for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Olivier Giroud replaced Yaya Sanogo in attack.

The average age of the outfield players was 29 and a half. The oldest starting 11 since May 2003.

From a West Ham corner, Rosicky broke down the right and swung a cross in which Cazorla couldn't control and the chance was gone.

Tosicky was at the heart of the Gunners next chance in the 13th minutes. The Czech international put Podolski in on the left and the German crossed but Giroud was unable to get on the end of it.

Moments later Rosicky was booked for a challenge on Armero.

Arsenal were fortunate not to have had a penalty awarded against them when Carroll headed down a cross in the box and Sagna swung a leg to clear the ball but didn't make contact with it. Instead he caught Matt Jarvis.

The visitors were on the accendancy. They were having the better chances and Carroll was at the heart of everything for the Irons.

Kallstrom was asking questions of his team mates with his passing. The former Sweden international was lifting balls over the full backs and asking Cazorla and Podolski to run on to the ball. However many of these passes weren't coming off.

It appears that no Arsenal player wanted to run forward. The possession game was evident but chances were few and far between.

Giroud had the best chance of the half, given the offside advantage as Cazorla played the Frenchman in but his flick towards goal was saved. Moments later Rosicky played a one two with Giroud but couldn't get a shot away.

The Arsenal crowd increased the noise as the team increased the pressure on the opposition and started to dictate the play as they had done in the early part of the game.

West Ham took the lead in the 38th minutes after some good fortune. Matt Jarvis got the end of a spill from Szczesny after he saved Nocerino cut inside from the left. Arsenal had defenders inside the box, but Koscielny couldn't make contact with the ball to clear it.

Kallstrom forced a save from Adrian after playing a one-two with Giroud. It was the first shot on target from an Arsenal player in the first half.

Lukas Podolski capitalised on a Stewart Downing error as the West Ham man tried to clear the ball from the corner area on the Arsenal right. The former England man's pass was cut out by Cazorla who played the ball straight into the box and Podolski fired off a shot which hit the back of the net.

There were no changes at the break.

Downing had the first shot of the half which was wide. Diame hit one well over the bar. The Gunners were starting to get their passing game going. However it was West Ham with the majority of the chances in the early stages.

The Gunners took the lead with a goal from Giroud. West Ham cleared a corner only as far as Vermaelen. The Belgium pumped the ball into the box which the Frenchman pulled out of the air while being challenged by Reid and Carroll. His deft touch took on his left foot out the Irons players and he struck the ball with his right through the legs of Adrian to score his 20th goal of the season.. A wonderful goal for the Frenchman.

Podolski had a free kick saved after Rosicky was fouled. Diame was booked for the challenged. Moments later Kallstrom was yellow carded for a challenge on Nocerino.

Arsenal were close to extending their leads with a well struck shot from Cazorla from outside the area, but the ball veered wide of Adrian post.

With 25 minutes to go, it seemed the game was finely balanced. Wenger made his first substitution with 20 minutes to go, Ramsey replacing Rosicky.

The Gunners added to their lead with Podolski's second goal of the match. It was a great combination from the German, Ramsey and Giroud. The trio played the ball in a triangle twice, with the final ball being a Giroud cross to Ramsey who played in Podolski who was on shoulder of the last defender and the attacker shot the ball high into the net.

With 12 minutes remaining Sam Alladyce made a double substitution with Ricardo Vaz Te replacing Jarvis and Downing coming off for Joe Cole. The final West Ham substitution was made with seven minutes to go, Carlton Cole coming on for Carroll.

And the English forward won a free kick with his first involvement in the game after being fouled by Koscielny. The free kick found Cole in the box, but his header was off target.

Wenger made his second substitution of the game, with Cazorla coming off for Carl Jenkinson with three minutes of normal time left.

The Gunners played keep ball at the end to ensure they secured all three points.

Koscielny, Arteta and Rosicky available for Arsenal's push for "vital" fourth spot

Arsene Wenger has told his players it is "vital" they secure Champions League football next season.

Arsenal sit in fifth place, two points behind fourth placed Everton, with just five matches of the campaign remaining.

Wenger's men face West Ham United tonight in what is a must win game. The Gunners play 24 hours before Roberto Martinez's side face Crystal Palace at Goodison Park.

And with yet another Premier League campaign going right down to the wire for the north Londoners, Wenger has insisted that securing a Champions League spot is a priority.

He told
"It’s vital to me to do it [qualify for the Champions League]. I want this club to play in the top level competition. For that you want to be in the Champions League. 
"What will be an advantage is our desire to play in this competition because we love the Champions League and just to imagine how much we love it will help us to achieve it. 
"I would like them rather to concentrate on the pleasure to be in it [than worry about not qualifying]. 
"We had a difficult schedule and today the rate of the negative results and negative aspects of the results in the big games is massive. 
"To deal with that is very difficult. When you have a succession of big games one after the other, if you lose the first one you are always in trouble."
Wenger hopes to be able to call on Laurent Koscielny, Mikel Arteta and Tomas Rosicky who all joined in training at London Coleny yesterday.

Gazidis should fight the FA over Arsenal's cup final ticket allocation

Chief executive Ivan Gazidis want the FA to increase the allocation of tickets given to both Arsenal and Hull City for next month's FA Cup final.

The Gunner and the Tigers have been handed just 25,000 for the Wembley showpiece on May 17.

Arsenal have 45,000 season ticket holders at the Emirates Stadium and some will be left disappointed because of the low number of tickets made available to the club.

Gazidis, who sits on Football Association committees, said in a statement:
"We are disappointed many of our supporters and also those of Hull City will be unable to get tickets to the cup final. 
"We fully understand this is the showpiece FA fixture to celebrate the game as a whole, but we also believe the loyal supporters of the competing teams deserve a greater chance to see their team play in what is one of the biggest matches of the season. 
"The balance in the FA’s allocation system is not right. 
"Arsenal have approximately 45,000 season ticket holders and 150,000 members, many of whom come to games. 
"They all give us their loyal support throughout a season but with the FA Cup final allocation at 25,000 there will be many disappointed Arsenal fans, who have supported the Club home and away for years, who will be unable to get a ticket to this historic match."
It is unclear whether the club are fighting this decision with the FA. Last season both Manchester City and Wigan had their ticket allocations increased, with City receiving 31,000 and Wigan 25,000.

Wembley hero: Saturday's win could prove pivotal for our season

Spot kick savior Lukasz Fabianski believes Saturday's win can be a turning point in the Gunners season.

The Poland international's two saves in the penalty shoot out proved decisive as Arsenal progress into the FA Cup final by beating Wigan 4-2 on penalties after the sides were tied after 120 minutes.

The 28-year-old, who has been man of the match in four of the Gunners five FA Cup ties, hopes the momentum and feel good factor created by the Wembley win can have an impact on the Gunners five remaining league games this season.

Fabianski said:
"I do think that Saturday's win could prove pivotal for our season. 
"The main thing is that it means we are winning again, which is a very good habit to develop. 
"I always hoped that I would eventually get the opportunity to change the bad Wembley memories into good ones 
"Recently we have had a bit of a run which was not great and this hopefully puts an end to it and gets us back on track. So it was probably vital for us."

Arsene Wenger has said previously that Fabianski's place in the FA Cup team was decided a long time ago. However that hasn't stopped some fans debating whether his compatriot Wojciech Szczesny should get the nod ahead of him for next month's final.

Fabianski though feels he's done enough to earn his place in the Wembley showpiece.

He said:
"I would be disappointed if I did not get to play in the final. 
"I think that I have done enough during the course of this cup run to merit getting picked to play in the final. 
"We were all acutely aware of needing to end the season pursuing a major trophy. But we cannot lose sight of the equally important need of qualifying again for the Champions League by finishing in the top four in the league. 
"If we do that first, then we can go into the cup final in a really positive frame of mind. And hopefully enjoy the experience of a Wembley final without forgetting that we must win it."
Arsenal will face Hull City on May 17 to decide who will win the FA Cup. 

Arsenal Board to meet and Wenger's contract will be on the agenda

Arsene Wenger's contract will be a talking point when the Arsenal board meet this week.

The Frenchman, has yet to put pen to paper on an extension to his current deal which expires at the end of the season.

The board have offered Wenger a two year deal, with a pay rise to £8million a year.

However Wenger has kept his options open and there is a feeling he may leave at the end of this season after 17 years as the Gunners' manager.

The 64-year-old has never left the signing of his contract this close to the end of the season during his entire tenure.

While the Arsenal Board are keen for Wenger to sign up for two more years, they will discuss what options they have should the Frenchman decide to step down.

Wenger has already hinted he's going to stay, telling reporters yesterday morning he was already planning for next season

He said:
"We are really focused and working very hard. Every day we spend time on that."
Earlier this month a survey carried out by the Black Scarf Movement supporters group revealed the majority of Gooners wanted Wenger to stay at the club, even if the Gunners finished outside the top four and failed to win the FA Cup.

Alvaro Morata, Julian Draxler and Lars Bender head Arsene Wenger's transfer wishlist

Arsene Wenger has admitted he has already started working on planning who he might sign in the summer.

The Gunners failed to sign two of their biggest targets during the summer of 2013 when it looked like first Gonzalo Higuain and Luis Suarez would be moving to north London.

Both deals failed to materialize and Wenger was forced into a deadline day deal for Mesut Ozil, having signed Yaya Sanogo and Mathieu Flamini on free transfers.

This time round it look set to be different with this summer's World Cup also a hurdle every club will have to overcome.

According to the Daily Mail, Arsenal executives have already made contact with Real Madrid over Alvaro Morata. And the Daily Mirror believe Wenger is impressed with Morata's Brazilian team mate Casemiro.

Striker Morata, 21, has scored six goals in 18 La Liga appearances this season.

Meanwhile midfielder Casemiro, 22, has found his playing time at the Bernabeu limited and has yet to start a La Liga or Champions League game for Carlo Ancelotti's side.

Arsenal scouts have been watching the Real Madrid pair throughout the season.

Also on the Gunners radar is Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Lars Bender.

The 24-year-old German international has made 25 Bundesliga appeances this season scoring two goals and has one assist to his name. He also appear in all six of his clubs Champions League group games, prior to their elimination from the competition.

Also on Wenger's priority targets list is Schalke's attacking midfielder Julian Draxler.

The Frenchman was targeting a January move for the 20-year-old but was put off by his £37million buy-out clause.

However Draxler has impressed this season in his23 Bundesliga appearances scoring a single goal and has six assists to his name. It might change the Gunners boss's mind about paying a high price for such a young player.

Scouts have also been tasked with looking at central defenders.

Wenger told reporters:
"We do spend time on next season, we are really focused and working very hard. 
"Every day we spend time on that."

Monday, 14 April 2014

Ozil, Koscielny, Arteta, Rosicky, Bendtner and Diaby join in training session today

Arsene Wenger has welcomed back Mesut Ozil and Laurent Koscielny from injury as the duo trained with the rest of his squad today.

Also included in the session at London Colney this morning were Mikel Arteta, who is a concern for tomorrow night's match with West Ham, and Tomas Rosicky who missed Saturday's FA Cup penalty shoot out win over Wigan.

Nicklas Bendtner returned from his spell nursing a hamstring injury and also on the training pitch was Abou Diaby, who is back after more than a year out with a knee injury.

Wenger was gloomy on the outlook for Tuesday night's Premier League game when he spoke to the media this morning prior to taking training.

He said:
"I cannot give you complete team news because many of them have to be checked today. 
"We have plenty of uncertainties for muscular problems and fatigue. 
"Who could be available who was not in the squad on Saturday? 
"Maybe Rosicky and Koscielny - we'll have to test him definitely today. 
"There are plenty of uncertainties so I have to make up my mind late on."

Wenger added:
"The main uncertainties are Monreal who had to come off with a dead leg.  
"Podolski had a little [muscle] problem but I think he will be alright.  
"Then there is Oxlade-Chamberlain and Ramsey (both muscle tightness). They are the main problems."
The Gunner need to win against Sam Allardyce's team to overtake Everton in the race for fourth place. 

Arsenal look set to cash in on Giroud after Wenger loses patience

Arsene Wenger is set to axe Olivier Giroud from his Arsenal squad for next season after being left disappointed and let down by his off the field antics.

The Sun reports the Gunners manager is set to sell his 27-year-old striker because he smuggled women into the Arsenal team hotel on two occasions this season on the night before games against club policy.

Giroud is the clubs top scorer this season, with 19 goals so far this campaign.

Arsenal would be looking to sell the striker for around £17millon, having brought him in a £13million deal from French club Montpellier two years ago.

According to reports the France international is under pressure from wife Jennifer to find a club outside of England.

However his options would be limited in France with only Paris Saint-Germain matching his Champions League ambitions. The Sun says Italian clubs Juventus and AC Milan could also provide Giroud with alternative options.

The YouTube generation: Fabainski admits doing his homework on Wigan penalty takers

Arsenal's FA Cup hero Lukasz Fabainski has admitted turning to YouTube in order to research Wigan's possible penalty takers.

The 28-year-old was however left to his instincts to guess where Gary Caldwell and Jack Collision were likely to place the ball as the Gunner's keeper couldn't find any clips of the pair taking spot kicks.

The Poland international, who saved two of the four Latics penalties, told Arsenal Player:
"I did look at YouTube and things like that, but I didn’t see anything of Collison or Caldwell on there. 
"To be honest with you I did some homework but none of them [the Wigan penalty takers] were on my list!. 
"The guys who stepped up to take penalties [were different] so I was just guessing. It was more intuition rather than my homework that I’d done. 
"I was surprised that [Jordi] Gomez didn’t step up as the first one. Then I saw Caldwell and Collison taking the penalties, so I was just guessing."
Fabianski is set to play his last game in an Arsenal shirt before a summer move away from north London in next month's Wembley final. 

Podolski hits out at Wenger: I'm not happy always being substituted

Lukas Podolski has admitted: Of course I am not happy always to be substituted.

The 28-year-old was taken off in the 68th minute of Arsenal's penalty shoot out win over Wigan in the FA Cup semi final on Saturday.

The German has only played to conclusion of two of the 14 matches he's started this season: the 4-1 win over Sunderland in the Premier League and the 1-1 draw with Bayern Munich in the Champions League.

And the Gunners £10.9million signing from Cologne has finally spoken out at Arsene Wenger's decision to take him off in eight out of nine of the Premier League games he's started this season, all of his three starts in the FA Cup and in one of the two starts he made in the Champions League.

He told the Daily Telegraph:
"Of course. I play and, in the last games, I always come out and of course you cannot be happy when you always go out after 60, 70 minutes. 
"Of course I am not happy always to be substituted. 
"It’s the decision of the boss. It’s not always easy when you play for a big club but of course I am not happy to always come out and watch from outside. 
"You cannot be happy with this situation."
There were boos inside Wembley when Podolski was substituted in Saturday's game, but its fair to say his performance on the day was average at best.

Wenger faces midfield crisis after Arteta injured in FA Cup win

Arsene Wenger is facing a midfield crisis after it was revealed Mikel Arteta suffered a calf injury in Saturday's FA Cup semi final win.

The Spaniard played for the whole 120 minutes of the penalty shoot-out victory over Wigan but it is being reported he faces a battle to be fit for Tuesday night's Premier League game with West Ham.

The 32-year-old scored the Gunners first spot kick in their 4-2 penalties win which sent Arsene Wenger's side through to their first FA Cup final since 2005.

They'll face Hull City who beat Sheffield United 5-3 on Sunday.

With Mathieu Flamini sitting out the second game of his two match suspension and Aaron Ramsey suffering tightness in his muscles after only just returned to action from a 14 week injury lay off, Arteta's injury couldn't have come at a worse time.

Kim Kallstrom is almost certain to make his full Arsenal debut in the Emirates clash against Sam Allardyce's side and the Daily Mail report Tomas Rosicky is set to be passed fit for action following a thigh injury which kept him out of the FA Cup semi final.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is also a concerned with a groin problem.

Leading coach Verheijen critical of Wenger "incompetence" over Ramsey's FA Cup role

Leading coach Raymond Verheijen has critisied Arsene Wenger's use of Aaron Ramsey during Arsenal's FA Cup semi final win over Wigan.

The midfielder played 113 minutes of the Wembley tie, only his second game since recovering from a thigh injury which kept him out for more than 100 days.

The Welshman was given a run out the previous week at Everton, where he played for the final 24 minutes of Arsenal's defeat to Roberto Martinez's side.

Verheijen, a renowned Dutch coach who worked with Ramsey during his time with the Wales national team set up, believes Wenger was "incompetent" to use the 23-year-old for so long.

He tweeted:

Earlier this month Verheijen told The Independent:
"There is a pattern at Arsenal, and it repeats itself every year, it is a no-brainer. 
"It is a general problem in football, if you do too much too soon, in the first few weeks of pre-season, you develop shorter-term fitness.
"If you do the same amount of fitness work spread over six weeks, you develop longer-term fitness that will last for 10 months."
The Daily Telegraph report Ramsey came off as a precaution after suffered tightness in his muscles but he will be assessed today as to whether he can have any involvement in Tuesday night's Premier League game with West Ham United.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Roy Keane: Arsenal's players shouldn't celebrate beating Wigan

Roy Keane has slammed Arsenal's players for celebrating reaching the FA Cup final at Wembley.

The ITV Sport pundit critised Arsene Wenger's men after they beat Wigan in a penalty shoot out to secure a place in next month's final.

Keane, the former Manchester United captain, outburst came at the end of ITV's coverage as the Gunners players celebrated reaching their first final since they beat the Irishman's former club on penalties in Cardiff to lift the FA Cup in 2005.

He said:
"These Arsenal players need a reality check.  
"They're celebrating. They've beaten a Championship team. 
"We saw last year when they got in the top four they celebrated up at Newcastle. 
"You know, we're talking about Arsenal Football club here. 
"It's about winning the trophies."
The Gunners will face either Hull City or Sheffield United in next month's final.

Fabianski the hero as Arsenal reach the FA Cup final

Arsenal are through to the final of the FA Cup after a penalty shoot out victory over Wigan.

Lukasz Fabianski was the hero after saving two of the Latics' spot kicks and Santi Cazorla sent Gooners into meltdown as his penalty sent Arsenal into their first FA Cup final since 2005.

In a game which didn't see the Gunners perform at their best, no one will worry about how we got to the final, just that we are there.

Arsene Wenger made four changes om the side which lost to Everton last weekend. Fabianski came in for Wojciech Szczesny in goal, Aaron Ramsey replaced the suspended Mathieu Flamini in midfield, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain took the place of the injured Tomas Rosicky and Yaya Sango started up front in place of Olivier Giroud.

And it was Oxlade-Chamberlain who had Arsenal's first chance inside the opening minute.

The youngster cut out a  pass in the middle of the field, played the ball wide to Ramsey and then attempted to get on the end of the Welshman's low cross. Sanogo got a touch on the ball and the Ox couldn't control it and the ball rolled harmlessly through to Scott Carson in the Wigan goal.

The England international was instrumental in Arsenal's best chances in the fourth minute, driving forward with the ball and taking on the Latics' defence by playing a one-two with Sanogo. And then moments later providing a decent cross for Sanogo to head towards goal which was saved by Carson.

Wenger's men had a lot of the possession but little penetration as the sides matched each other in the centre of midfield. Santi Cazorla and Lucas Podolski struggled to get involved in the game at the highest areas of the pitch closest to Carson's goal.

Arsenal's best attacking threat was coming from the right where Oxlade-chamberlain and Sanogo combined. The Gunners were kept ticking over by Mikel Arteta who never stopped patrolling the area in front of the back four.

The Gunners could have had their first goal in the 25th minute from a Cazorla corner which was headed towards the back post by Vermaelen. Sanga was there and unmarked, but the Frenchman was unable to get his left foot volley down and on target.

There was little in the way of creativity from Uwe Rosler's men. Fabianski wasn't forced to make a save in the opening 30 minutes of the game.

Wenger had tasked his full back with little attacking duty. It was a rare occurrence when either Sagna or Nacho Monreal ventured into the opposition half.

Set pieces seemed to be Wigan's best hope of scoring. But Per Mertesacker was instrumental in organising the Gunner's defence. And Wigan had their first shot on goal in the 38th minute but Fortune's effort was easily saved by Fabianksi.

Podolski's biggest involvement was taking a free kick which went just wide in the 40th minute after Oxlade-Chamberlain was felled. Sanogo was set free for a one-on-one chance by Podolski with four minutes of the half remaining. But the Frenchman's first touch was heavy and Carson was quickly off his line to close down the angles.

No changes were made at half time. And Arsenal's first chance was fashioned five minutes into the second period when Cazorla set through Sanogo but the Frenchman couldn't get hold of the ball and it was easily gathered by Carson.

Wigan won their first corner of the game in the 53rd minute. But Sanga closed down McArthur's effort and the danger was cleared.

At the other end Podolski was trying to get more involved in the game but nothing was coming off for the German.

Then in the 58th minutes Wigan had a penalty. Mertesacker bringing down Callum McManaman in the box. Moments before the Wigan attacker had backed into Monreal, causing he full back to collapse on to the pitch. McManaman then brust forward and cut inside the box and the German rashly challenged the Wigan player.

Before the spot kick was taken, Monreal was replaced by Gibbs.

Four minutes later Jordi Gomez had the ball in the back in the net and the FA Cup holders were in the lead. Fabianski diving the right way but  the ball was just out of reach.

Rosler Rosler made his first change of the game, taking off the Chelsea loaned player Josh McEachran and replacing him with Jack Collison, on loan from West Ham.

With 27 minutes to go, Arsenal's season was hanging in the balance. The Gunners had to attack and take the handbrake off.

Aaron Ramsey created a chance from the right for Sanogo, which the Frenchman couldn't put on target, but the wheels were starting to go in a forward motion.

McManaman, argbly Wigna's most dangerous player was substituted with 23 minutes to go and replaced by Nick Powell, on loan from Manchester United.

And Wenger made his second change with Podolski being replaced by Giroud. There were boos inside the stadium at Wenger's decision to bring off the German, but he was peripheral in the game.

Wenger switched to 4-4-2 with Cazorla moved to the left and Oxlade-Chamberlain on the right. He also allowed his full backs to roam, and Gibbs made most use of his freedom to serge forward and create chances.

And the Gunners were moving in the right direction. Arteta set Sanogo free but the Frenchman couldn't get a shot away. Oxlade-Chamberlain had a shot from distance which was saved and Sagna had a cross which was over hit.

With 13 minutes to go referee Michael Oliver awarded a free kick to Wigan outside the area as he judged Arteta to have clipped Powell. The set piece forced Fabianski into a punching save which put the Gunners on the counter attack but Oxlade-Chamberlain couldn't get onto Giroud's through ball. The French striker was taken out by Gomez, who was the first player to go into the referee's note book.

The clock was counting down. With ten minutes to go, Oxlade-Chamberlain took a corner from the right. It was poor but the ball came back out to the England international who whipped in a cross Sanogo's effort came back off the post.

A minute later Gibbs had an header cleared off the line by Stephen Crainey after his effort was saved by Carson. The momentum was with the Gunners and they drew level with a Mertesacker header.

Cazorla took the corner which was headed clear only so far as Oxlade-chamberlain on the edge of the  Wigan box. He shot toward the far post by his effort was off target and Mertesacker, who hadn't retreated from the corner had taken up a position on the back post. He rose above the Wigan defence to head down and beat Carson.

Wigan brought on Gary Caldwell for Ivan Ramis with five minutes to go.

Giroud forced a good save from Carson with three minutes to go, Vermaelen headed an Arteta free kick into the six yard area - but no one was there and Mertesacker headed over from a Cazorla corner.

In injury time, McArthur was bookedd for a foul on Oxlade-Chamberlain. Sanogo cleared a Wigan corner and Giroud couldn't connect with a cross. Collison was booked for a foul on Gibbs.

In 90 minutes it ended level. If the Gunners were going to win the tie it would be in extra time or through a penalty shoot out.

In the first period of extra time, Sango made Carson produce a fine save from a snap shot and had an effort which went over the bar.

In the second period of extra time, Fabianski got a touch of the Almunia's when he rushed out of his box to get the ball of Powell.

At the other end, Oxlade-chamberlain beat Carson but his effort hit the woodwork instead. It just wasn't going to be his day.

With 22 minutes of extra time, Ramsey was replaced by Kim Kallstrom. Cazorla was fouled by Jean Beausejour in the final minute of extra time and booked.

At the death Kallstrom couldn't get his shot away and the match ended 1-1.

The penalty shoot out went as follows:

0-0 Fabianski saves from Caldwell.
0-1 Arteta scores.
0-1 Fabianski saves from Collison
0-2 Kallstron scores.
1-2 Beausejour scores.
1-3 Giroud scores.
2-3 McArthur scores.
2-4 Cazorla scores.

Arsenal go through to the FA Cup final!

Go and win it Arsenal - Failure is not an option

Just do us proud, that was the headline I was first going to use on this piece. But it didn't feel right. We need more than just pride, we need a victory.

I want us to crush Wigan and that is meant with no feeling of ill will towards the Latics or their fans. But they had their trophy win last season and now if we play to our best we can finally win a piece of silverware and get that money off our backs.

A huge victory is what we should expect from a Premier League team up against inferior opposition. This is the FA Cup and of course we shouldn't under estimate the competition's trophy holders, as they did eliminate Manchester City from this competition in the last round.

But these players have got themselves in a great position - a semi final at Wembley. A victory today will propel us into the final where we'll face either Hull City or Sheffield United.

I don't think I've felt this nervous going to an Arsenal game in quite a while. But we've had two bad experiences at Wembley in recent years.

First the FA Cup semi final in 2009 against Chelsea where an 84th minute goal from a certain Ivorian who loved scoring against us knocked us out of the competition. And then in the league cup final in 2011 where we all know what happened after Laurnet Koscienly and Wojciech Szczesny failed to communicate in the 89th minute.

What ever happens today I want us to be in a very strong position going into the final ten minutes. There can be no margins for error. Go and kill off the opposition. Once we score one, score another and another.

So much rests on this result for the end of season run in. Win today and we'll have the momentum to carry us forward in the league to secure a place in the top four. Lose and I don't even want to think about what might happen. Failure is not an option.

How the manager sets up today will be interesting. He's got some calls to make with the players he rated 50:50 (Gibbs, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Rosicky) and also how he shapes his midfield behind Yaya Sanogo who has started up front in the previous two rounds. My guessing is that all three will start.

I suspect it will be:
Fabianski, Sagna, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Gibbs, Arteta, Ramsey, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Cazorla, Rosicky, Sanogo.

Wembley hasn't been given us many happy memories recently. So lets go and make some new ones today.


Friday, 11 April 2014

Arsenal confirm signing of former Barcelona youth team player on professional contract

Arsenal has confirmed the signing of former Barcelona youth team player Julio Pleguezuelo.

The La Masia product, who joined the Gunners last summer, has impressed in his performances for the  under-19s and under-18s teams this season.

The 17-year-old has been rewarded for his development with his first professional contract.

Pleguezuelo, a Spain youth international,  helped Arsenal reach the UEFA Youth League quarter-finals and also the successful run in the FA Youth Cup. Last night he played in the side's 2-1 defeat at Stamford Bridge.

In a statement, the Gunners said:
"Everyone at Arsenal would like to congratulate Julio on his first professional contract and we look forward to his continued progression with the Club."

Arsenal, Sky Sports and the Premier League show disregard for travelling Gooners

Arsenal has announced it's away fixture with Hull City is to be rearranged EIGHT days before the game was to take place.

The Gunner were due to face the Tigers in a 5.30pm kick off on Saturday week, which is being broadcast by Sky Sports.

However due to Chelsea being drawn to play away at Atletico Madrid on Tuesday April 22, the Gunners match has now been shifted to Sunday April 20, with a 2.05pm kick-off.

Chelsea will now play Sunderland in the Saturday 5.30pm kick off on the Saturday.

It means that travelling Gooners who have already paid for their travel to the KC Stadium will have to pay out again for the new date if their tickets are non-refundable/exchangeable.

In a statement, Arsenal said:
"We apologise for the inconvenience caused to our travelling supporters by the late change to this fixture which is completely out of the Club’s control."
There is no mention of covering the cost of travel for those left out of pocket by the change of date. We await with interest what  Arsenal, Sky Sports and the Premier League will do on this front.

Arteta and Podolski dropped. Is this how Arsenal's midfield could line up?

Could this be how Arsenal's midfield lines up at Wembley tomorrow?

This picture taken at London Colney shows Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Tomas Rosicky involved with the rest of the first team squad in training, despite being rated as only 50:50 by Arsene Wenger yesterday.

Earlier in the week there were reports that Kim Kallstrom could make his full debut in the match against Wigan tomorrow.

Aaron Ramsey is almost certain to start following his cameo against Everton last weekend and Santi Cazorla has appeared in all four previous FA Cup matches this season scoring two goals.

So could this be how Arsene Wenger set up his midfield tomorrow? 

"Can't wait for Wembley. These are the games you dream of playing"

Aaron Ramsey has expressed his excitement of playing at Wembley tomorrow.

The Welshman is set to start in midfield alongside Mikel Arteta in the FA Cup semi final against Wigan.

And the 23-year-old, who missed the Gunners last two trips to Wembley in 2009 and 2011 through injury, is looking forward to playing at the home of English football.

Ramsey wrote on Facebook:
"Preparations done. Looking forward to going back to Wembley.
"Can't wait for Wembley tomorrow, these are the games you dream of playing in..."

Ramsey has scored 13 goals in 28 appearances this season.

Parlour: Gunners stars have to step up

Ray Parlour believes it's now time for the players to show they are capable of playing for Arsenal by winning the FA Cup this season.

The former Arsenal midfielder won nine major trophies with the club as a player but questions whether Arsene Wenger's players have given everything to win this season.

The Gunners have slumped in form in recent weeks, recording a single win in their last six league games.

And Parlour now believes it's the players who have to show they have what it takes to perform at the highest level.

He told the Daily Star:
"It's an opportunity for these players to step up. They have to ask themselves whether they could have done a bit more at times this season. 
"Is there enough belief in that dressing room? Do they have that winning mentality? I played with good players who always had that. It's so important. 
"It's a massive game. Arsenal are the favourites now to win the FA Cup. But they've still got to perform. It's a big week for them. They've got to bounce back. 
"But you want to see more fight. If Arsenal play their A-game they will win but if they play like they did against Everton then Wigan have every chance of causing an upset."

Arsenal set to be beaten to signature of defender by Borussia Dortmund

Arsenal look like they've missed out on the signing of German centre-half Matthias Ginter.

German newspaper Bild report that Borussia Dortmund have won the race to sign the 20-year-old who has been watched by the Gunners chief scout Steve Rowley on numerous occasions over the last two seasons.

Ginter has been a regular in the relegation threatened Freiburg side, starting in every Bundesliga game this season.

Arsene Wenger has long been an admirer of the 6'2" defender, who has also played in midfield at times during this campaign.

But it appears that Jurgen Kopp has beaten Wenger and Manchester United manager David Moyes to the signature of the player who was capped for his country for the first time this season.

Arsenal could be without 11 players for FA Cup semi final

Arsene Wenger has revealed he could be without 11 players for tomorrow's FA Cup semi final against Wigan.

Three players: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (groin), Tomas Rosicky (thigh) and Kieran Gibbs (ankle) are rated at 50:50 for the match. They all face fitness test this morning to discover whether they will be available for the Wembley show piece.

Defender Laurent Koscielny (calf) is not expected back until Tuesday, with record signing Mesut Ozil (hamstring) expected to be available for the trip to Hull a week Saturday.

Jack Wilshere (foot) is hoping to start running next week but there is no time scale as to when he might be available for selection.

Abou Diaby (knee) is expected to return to full training soon and Wenger hopes will be available for selection before the end of the season.

Nicklas Bendtner (hamstring)  is also out. As is Mathieu Flamini who sits out the Wembley match through suspension.

Theo Walcott is out for the remainder of the season  with a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament injury.

While there is also doubts about the fitness of Serge Gnabry, who missed last weekend's game with Everton.

Arsenal first team star shows his support for youngsters at cup final

Jack Wilshere watched from the stands as Arsena's under-18s battled it out with Chelsea in the first leg of the FA Youth Cup Final at Stamford Bridge.

Wilshere, part of the team in 2009 which picked up the same trophy, was with his father Andrew as they witnessed Arsenal's Chuba Akpom score the opening goal of the tie early in the second half.

However Chelsea came back with two late goal, leaving the Gunners with work to do in the return leg at the Emirates next Thursday.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Arsenal star Theo Walcott makes big announcement on his Facebook page

Arsenal forward Theo Walcott has announced on his Facebook page he has become a father for the first time.

The 25-year-old announced in December wife Melanie was expecting their first child and today she gave birth to a baby boy.

The couple have named him Finley.

Theo posted on Facebook:
"So over the moon to announce the birth of our baby boy Finley born this morning....  
"It's amazing to be mummy & daddy! 
"Love him so much x"
 Walcott is currently sidelined with a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament injury that will keep him out the rest of the season at Arsenal and of this summer's World Cup in Brazil.

Speaking on Sunday, Walcott said he hoped to be involved in pre-season training with the Gunners and that the treatment he was receiving for his injury was going well.

He said:
"The knee is coming along really well now. 
"It is a long, tedious, six-nine month treatment that I've got to come through but I'm three months in now and taking it week by week because I don't like putting monthly targets on it. 
"I am, though, hopeful of being involved in pre-season and as I am still young, I know my time will come in a World Cup."
Walcott scored six goals in 18 appearances for the Gunners this season, prior to his injury in Arsenal's 2-0 victory over north London rivals Tottenham in the FA Cup third round in January.

Wenger believes Ramsey, Wilshere, Gibbs, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Walcott have what it takes to win the league

Arsene Wenger insists he has the foundations to build a side which is capable of winning the league.

Arsenal have been hit by injuries to key players during this season and disappointing results have seen them slip from the top spot to fourth in the league table.

But the Frenchman believes it is not all doom and gloom around the club following what had been such a promising campaign.

The Gunners boss "We have the basics.
"What is important for us is we have our players back and available. 
"Our main task will be to keep the team together and think 'where did we go wrong?' because there's a lot of positives in our season as well. 
"We have been the league leader 17 times and we dropped off when we lost our players at the important moment of the season, that is what we don't want to repeat."
This season Wenger has extended the contracts of key players like Aaron Ramsey, Tomas Rosicky, Santi Cazorla and Per Mertesacker.

That followed on from the deals which were agreed last season that tied Theo Walcott, Jack Wilshere, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Kieran Gibbs and Carl Jenkinson to the club for the long term.

Wenger wants his imperfect side to show improvement in FA Cup clash

Arsene Wenger has called on his players to produce a big performance to ensure Arsenal reaches the FA Cup final.

The Gunners have been in poor form in the league, with just one win from their previous six games.

But in the FA Cup, Wenger's men have beaten Tottenham, Coventry City, Liverpool and Everton to progress to the last four of the oldest cup competition in world football.

Speaking ahead of Saturday's semi final, where Arsenal will face Sky Bet Championship side Wigan, Wenger said:
"When results are not (going) as well, you can always think you can improve. 
"There is no perfect team and we will always try to improve our squad and our team. 
"This season we lost key players at big important moments of the season, but we have to just to focus on finishing as well as we can. 
"We are in a position where we can still do very well until the end of the season, that is what we want. 
"It is not about next season, it is about this season."
The north Londoners have five remaining league games this season in which to secure fourth place and are ahead of closest rivals Everton by a point, although Roberto Martinez's side have a game in hand.

Players ask Wenger to change his ways over opposition tactics

Arsene Wenger has been approached by a number of players who have requested the team do more work on tactics to curb their opponents, according to a report..

It is well documented that the Arsenal manager prefers to concern his players little with how the opposition play their game and instead focus on how his team will approach theirs.

The Daily Telegraph report "section of Wenger’s squad would like to do more work on the opposition and believe it could help them to start stronger when faced by the Premier League’s better teams".

Already this season Gooners have witnessed maulings at Manchester City and Chelsea where Wenger's sides conceded six goals and at Liverpool where five where shipped. Last weekend's game at Everton appears to have been the final straw, where Everton scored three without reply.

Getting Wenger to change his ways after 30 plus years in management would seem unlikely. He's seen a formula which has worked in the past and works against the lesser opposition.

But given what he's witnessed against the teams in the race for the Champions League positions and the title, he might give it some more thought than before.

Arsenal linked with English forward who's scored 15 goals in 33 appearances

Arsenal are said to be monitoring the recovery from injury of Jay Rodriguez after being impressed by Southampton forward.

The Daily Star report the Gunners made an enquiry for the 24-year-old who has scored 15 goals in 33 Premier League appearances this season.

It's been an impressive campaign for the former Burnley man, who has also been called up by Roy Hodgson into the senior England set up.

However he ruptured knee ligaments during the Saints 4-1 defeat to Manchester City last weekend and the injury has ended his season and dreams of playing in the World Cup in Brazil.

Rodriguez was ruled out for six months after seeing a knee specialist on Monday night.

But the Gunners are said to still be keen on the player, who is also attracting interest from Liverpool and Tottenham.

"When he arrived in London, he did an extraordinary job"

Santi Cazorla has praised the impact Mesut Ozil had on the team following his £42million transfer from Real Madrid to Arsenal.

The Spaniard pulled no punches on Ozil's first campaign in England, admitting the German star had blown hot and cold in a Gunners shirt.

But the midfielder believes that the club's record signing will come good, if people believe in him and give him their support.

Cazorla told Abu Dhabi based website
"He (Ozil) has come at a difficult time. When he arrived in London, he did an extraordinary job and people demanded his best level every match. 
"But when he decreased his performance, the team suffered. 
"Besides, I read a lot of articles about Ozil in Spain that affected him. We need to give him confidence and to show affection."
In his debut campaign with the Gunners, Ozil has scord four league goals and eight assists in 22 Premier League appearances. 

Cazorla snubs Wenger! Pellegrini is the best manager he's worked under

Santi Cazorla risks the ire of Arsene Wenger after admitting Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini is the best manager he's worked under.

The 29-year-old admitted his former manager at Villarreal and Malaga was the man he had learnt the most from in an interview with Abu Dhabi based website

Usually when players are asked who is the best manager they have enjoyed working under  the stock answer is their current one.

However the Spaniard spoke honestly, without any malice for Wenger.

Cazorla said:
"I learnt a lot from of all of the managers I have played for, but if I had to choose one it would be Pellegrini. 
"He’s the coach that has given me the most during five to six years that I worked with him at Villarreal and Malaga. 
"He was the first person who took me to Malaga. We have a great relationship and I congratulate him because he’s doing well. But Manchester has not called me."