Sunday, December 20, 2009

Review : Denilson, Eduardo and Diaby on target

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

Goals from Denilson, Eduardo and Abou Diaby earned Arsene Wenger's side all three points in a bad-tempered affair.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But the contest erupted shortly before the break when Nasri trod on the ankle of Richard Garcia as Arsenal prepared to take a free-kick.

Hunt then clashed with Nasri and a mass confrontation took place in front of referee Steve Bennett with Arsenal goalkeeper Almunia sprinting 100 yards to get involved.

Fagan tried to drag Hunt away from the incident as players from both sides became embroiled in ugly scenes. Bennett eventually booked both Hunt and Nasri when the fracas subsided.

Arsenal rubbed salt into Hull's wounds seconds later when Denilson scored from a free-kick after George Boateng had fouled Diaby 25-yards from goal.

Players from both sides appeared to continue their first-half spat in the tunnel as they left the pitch at the interval.

There was already plenty of bad blood between the two clubs stemming from last season when Fabregas was accused of spitting at City's assistant Brian Horton.

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

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

There was more controversy in the 55th minute when referee Bennett awarded Hull a penalty after Mikael Silvestre had been adjudged to have pulled the shirt of Fagan.

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Preview : Arsenal vs Hull City

The visit of Hull to Emirates Stadium will not dredge up favourable memories for Arsenal after they were the victims of one of the shocks of the season when the Tigers came away from North London with a 2-1 win last year, thanks to goals from Daniel Cousin and Geovanni.

It was a result that threatened to expose Arsenal as top-four charlatans and paint Hull as potential European challengers. Fifteen months on, and Phil Brown's improving Tigers are one point above the relegation zone, while his opposite number, Arsene Wenger, saw his side secure an important victory at Liverpool last weekend to reignite their title challenge.

But a glimmer of hope for Hull fans came on Wednesday night when Arsenal were held by promoted Burnley at Turf Moor to sit eight points behind leaders Chelsea, with a game in hand. Wenger's side were uninspired, sloppy and lacking in fight. Just the combination of elements that saw them fall victim to Geovanni's thunderbolt in September 2008.

The Gunners will also be missing captain Cesc Fabregas after the Spaniard picked up a hamstring injury against Burnley and if he does sit in the stands to watch the game, then he would be well-advised to dress to impress. Following an FA Cup tie in March, Phil Brown accused Fabregas, who again was out injured, of spitting at his assistant Brian Horton and questioned the player's attire, remarking: "What was he doing on the pitch [after the final whistle] wearing clothes like that?" Fabregas was cleared of cleared of any wrong-doing.

Arsenal team news: Wednesday's draw at Burnley cost Arsenal the services of Fabregas due to a hamstring problem and he will not play on Saturday, leaving Arsenal without their two leading players as Robin van Persie is a long-term absentee. With Gael Clichy, Kieran Gibbs and Armand Traore out, Mikael Silvestre will continue as fourth-choice left back. Tomas Rosicky (hamstring), Nicklas Bendtner (groin) and Johan Djourou (knee) remain sidelined.

Hull team news: Midfield talisman Jimmy Bullard is still sidelined with a knee injury, but long-term injury victim Ian Ashbee aside, that is the only serious selection problem for Brown who has an otherwise healthy squad.

Probable Arsenal team (4-3-3): Almunia, Sagna, Gallas, Vermaelen, Silvestre, Song, Denilson, Nasri, Eboue, Eduardo, Arshavin.

Probable Hull team (4-5-1): Myhill, McShane, Gardner, Zayatte, Dawson, Geovanni, Boateng, Marney, Garcia, Hunt, Fagan.

Wenger To Let Hot Prospect Out

Arsène Wenger has revealed that Burnley manager Owen Coyle has spoken to him about the possibility of taking Jack Wilshere on loan from in January.

The Frenchman has previously admitted that he would consider allowing his teenage midfielder to leave on a temporary basis during the window if the right club comes along.

Midfielder Mark Randall joined Burnley on loan from Arsenal in January 2008 but only started two matches for the Clarets so Wenger wants assurances that Wilshere will play regular football if he makes the short-term switch from Emirates Stadium to Turf Moor.

"My response [to Coyle] is that it is possible under the condition that he plays," said Wenger.

"For us Jack Wilshere is in a period where he needs to play.

"Burnley is a very good club that I respect. They play good football but first of all Jack must want to do it and then we need to have a good hope that he will play if he goes somewhere on loan.

"I like the idea but at the moment I must say we are a bit short. Jack is involved with us for nearly every game."

Friday, December 18, 2009

Champions Leagur Draw : Arsenal vs Porto FC

Arsenal will take on Porto in the last 16 of this season's UEFA Champions League.

Porto were runners up to Chelsea in Group D of this season's Group Stage after picking up four wins and just two defeats, both against the Stamford Bridge side. Arsenal met Porto in last season's Champions League Group Stage and defeated the Portuguese champions 4-0 at Emirates Stadium but with qualification already assured they lost 2-0 at the Estádio do Dragão.

Our UEFA Champions League 1st knock out round fixtures will be played as under:

1st leg
FC Porto v Arsenal
Wednesday 17th February 2010
Kick Off 19.45 hrs (UK time)
At Estadio do Dragao, Porto

2nd leg
Arsenal v FC Porto
Tuesday 9th March 2010
Kick Off 19.45 hrs (UK time)
At Emirates Stadium, London

Second Round:

VfB Stuttgart v Barcelona
Olympiakos v Bordeaux
Internazionale v Chelsea
Bayern Munich v Fiorentina
CSKA Moscow v Sevilla FC
Lyon v Real Madrid
FC Porto v Arsenal
AC Milan v Manchester United

Wenger Not-Cool With the Wolves

The credibility of the Premier League has been damaged by Mick McCarthy's decision to field a weakened Wolves team against Manchester United, according to Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger.

United beat Wolves 3-0 at Old Trafford on Tuesday night after the visitors made 10 changes to the line-up that had beaten Tottenham Hotspur the previous Saturday.

McCarthy said he had rested his first-choice players to avoid them getting injured ahead of a crucial clash with newly-promoted Burnley on Sunday, but many critics saw the changes as an unfair and an admission of defeat.

Arsenal boss Wenger said: "We will have to compete with Manchester United over 37 games instead of 38. I believe it is a problem for the international credibility of the Premier League, but it is not my problem, it is a Premier League problem."

The Premier League said on Wednesday they had written to Wolves asking them for "their observations" in relation to the team that took to the field against United.

"Once the observations are received the Board will decide whether any further action is warranted," the Premier League said in a statement.

McCarthy continued to justify his selection by insisting he needed to use his full squad to cope with a busy spell of fixtures over Christmas, arguing that Wolves fans would understand his decision if they beat Burnley.

Some Wolves fans chanted "we want our money back" at Old Trafford as Wolves slipped into the bottom three.

Update On Skipper's Injury

Arsenal captain Cesc Fàbregas has undergone a scan on his injured hamstring but manager Arsene Wenger has insisted the worst case scenario would be a ten-day lay-off.

The Spanish midfielder scored the Gunners opening goal in a 1-1 draw at Burnley on Wednesday night but was substituted two minutes before half-time and limped down the tunnel shaking his head.

Wenger confirmed that Fàbregas will definitely miss Saturday's Premier League match at home to Hull City and his involvement in the games against Aston Villa and Portsmouth at the end of the month is also looking doubtful.

But Wenger is optimistic the problem is "not long term''.

"Cesc had a scan today,'' said Wenger. "We have not had the result yet. The only thing that is sure is that he will not play on Saturday.

"Beyond that, it all depends on the scan. Is it a tightness that just presents a small risk on Saturday or is it a slight strain - grade one or two? We'll know that later.

"If it is a tear it is a small one and the maximum would be 10 days. So it is not long-term.''

Denilson could deputise for Fabregas against Hull after recovering from a back problem.

"Denilson is back and available for Saturday,'' Wenger said on Arsenal's official website.

Nicklas Bendtner, Tomas Rosicky, Gael Clichy and Armand Traore will be unavailable, and Wenger said: "The first back should be Traore, maybe for Aston Villa (on December 27).'

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Preview : Liverpool vs Arsenal

Arsenal will be without Emmanuel Eboue for the trip to Liverpool on Sunday but Arsène Wenger hopes to welcome back Eduardo and Abou Diaby for the Anfield clash.

Eboue is the second confirmed casualty from the 2-0 victory over Stoke last weekend. The Ivorian picked up a hamstring problem while Tomas Rosicky has already been ruled out a few weeks with a groin injury.

Speaking exclusively to TV Online on Thursday afternoon, Arsène Wenger added that William Gallas, Armand Traore, Cesc Fabregas and Andrey Arshavin all suffered "knocks and bruises" but were expected to recover.

"We have problems with many players," he said. "If you look at the players who started the game Stoke certainly Eboue and Rosicky will miss this game. Everybody else should make it.

"There are little knocks and bruises here and there. Who could come back? Eduardo and Diaby maybe could make the squad. That is the news we have at the moment.

"Gallas, Traore are still doubts but I think they will make it. Fabregas has a back problem and Arshavin has got a bruised foot too but I think they will make it too."

However, Wenger has ruled out Nicklas Bendtner until 2010. The Dane has been sidelined with a groin problem since the Tottenham game on October 31 and had been close a return.

"Let's say the New Year [for him]," said the Frenchman. "It is quite disappointing because he looked quite sharp and he was short from coming back into the squad."

Friday, December 11, 2009

World Cup Jubilation

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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Review : Young-Squad Control Game Despite of Losing

Arsene Wenger's young Gunners put on a brave display but were defeated by Olympiacos in tonight's final Champions League Group H clash in Athens.

With safe passage to the last 16 already secured, Wenger chose to rest most of his first-team regulars - with 18-year-old left-back Tom Cruise handed a debut and reserve captain Kyle Bartley playing alongside Mikael Silvestre, 32, in central defence.

It was, though, the display of Aaron Ramsey, still only 18 but already a full Wales international, which caught the eye, the teenager relishing in the role of midfield playmaker filled so well by rested captain Cesc Fabregas.

Indeed, but for some better finishing from England forward Theo Walcott - fit again following a hamstring problem - and the wasteful Mexican Carlos Vela, Arsenal's youngsters would have taken a deserved result from the game.

Ramsey, who saw a late effort cleared off the line, will probably be back on the bench when the Gunners head to Liverpool for Sunday's crunch Barclays Premier League clash - but on tonight's evidence, the young Welshman certainly had what it takes to compete at the highest level.

As expected, the atmosphere inside the Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium was white hot as the passionate home support attempted to drag their team into the knockout stages.

It was, though, a bright start by the young Gunners, with an average age of 21 - and that boosted by the presence of veteran Silvestre.

On 10 minutes, Walcott dashed into the right side of the penalty area, but his rising shot was parried by keeper Antonis Nikopolidis.

Olympiacos broke quickly through Argentinean Luciano Galletti down the right, with Oscar Gonzalez touching the all off to Kostas Mitroglou - only for the Greek striker to fire over the crossbar.

Galletti volleyed wide at the far post following another swift counter by the hosts. Walcott, though, continued to look menacing, and again burst into the area, this time on the left before being crowded out by two defenders.

However, Olympiacos took the lead at the start of the second half.

Bartley upended Oscar Gonzalez, but the referee played a good advantage as Leonardo latched onto the loose ball and dashed into the left side of the area before slotting through Lukasz Fabianski's legs to put the Greeks within sight of the knockout stage.

Arsenal should have equalised when Ramsey dashed clear down the Olympiacos left and to the edge of the 18-yard box before cleverly cutting a pass square to Vela - but the Mexican hit his shot straight at the keeper.

As the hour mark passed, to their credit the youngsters continued to take the game to the Greeks. Ramsey's angled ball put Walcott in down the right, but Raul Bravo got across to make a timely block.

From the resulting corner, the Wales midfielder then failed to get any real power with his downward header at the far post. Vela was again wasteful when slipped into the area by Merida, this time firing over the top with a first-time effort when he could have taken another touch. Fabianski denied Leonardo a second with a fine reaction save as the Brazilian cut into the left side of the Arsenal box before.

On 76 minutes, Jack Wilshere, who looks set to go out on loan in January for more regular first-team football, was replaced by 18-year-old Frenchman Gilles Sunu - another from the impressive Arsenal academy production line.

Arsenal's youngsters continued to fight to the end, almost grabbing a late equaliser when Ramsey's close-range effort was cleared off the line following a corner, and will certainly have grown a bit wiser from the experience.

Arsene Wenger admitted the young side he sent to Olympiacos lacked the necessary experience after they went down 1-0 in their Group H clash in Greece.

With the Gunners already sure of taking first place in the group, the Frenchman named an experimental line-up that came off second best against a side playing for their place in the competition.

Wenger told ITV1: ''We had a positive attitude and they tried to catch us on the break, which basically they did. I put that down to a lack of experience rather than a lack of quality. I'm happy with the performance but don't deny we missed a little but in the final ball, or in the finishing.''

Wenger refused to draw comparisons when asked whether Welsh midfielder Aaron Ramsey could progress at a similar rate to Cesc Fabregas, but was impressed by the 18-year-old.

He added: ''I don't like to compare players who are different but he (Ramsey) has a good presence, a good personality and gets in the final third. He improves technically from game to game and that is promising.''

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Andrey Arshavin was INNOCENT!

Arsene Wenger maintains Andrey Arshavin is an "example for everybody'' in his approach to the game as the Russian football union launch an investigation into reports of inappropriate behaviour during the World Cup play-offs.

The Russians, coached by former Chelsea boss Guus Hiddink, suffered a shock defeat to Slovenia as their bid to reach next summer's finals in South Africa came to an end last month.

Following a television report from state-controlled Channel One claiming players had partied into the early hours ahead of the qualification play-off first leg in Moscow, there is to be an inquiry by the Russian football authorities.

Wenger, however, insists Russia playmaker Arshavin - who joined the Gunners from Zenit St Petersburg during the January transfer window - is a model professional. "He is a serious player and I have no doubt about his fitness at all,'' the Arsenal manager said.

"I do not believe a word of what I hear, not at all. From what I see, how he prepares for the games, he is an example for everybody.''

The Russian Football Union, meanwhile, intend to get to the bottom of the reports. A statement on their website,, read: "The RFU sent an official letter to the heads of Channel One and the Marriott Grand, asking them to provide explanations about the reliability of the reported information.''

Meanwhile, Arsene Wenger has every confidence young Gunner Tom Cruise can deliver a star performance on his Arsenal debut in Wednesday night's final Champions League Group H clash at Olympiacos.

With safe passage into the knockout stages already secure as group winners, Wenger will not risk the fitness of any more first-team regulars than needed ahead of the crucial Barclays Premier League encounter at Liverpool on Sunday.

The average age of tomorrow's squad is just 20, at that has been raised by the inclusion of 32-year-old veteran defender Mikael Silvestre, while fit-again England forward Theo Walcott and Cameroon midfielder Alex Song, who was suspended for Saturday's Barclays Premier League win over Stoke, have also travelled.

However, it is the inclusion of reserve-team captain Kyle Bartley, set to play at centre-half, as well as 18-year-olds Craig Eastmond, Luke Ayling and Cruise - the left-back who has yet to make an Arsenal first-team appearance of any form, even the Carling Cup - which will have left Wenger open to criticism of perhaps not giving the European fixture the respect it deserves.

Wenger declared: "I do not care about headlines - for me, there is only one Tom Cruise, and it is the one who plays for Arsenal Football Club. I believe he is a very good footballer, but I would not like him to be under too much pressure.

"If you are in his boots, you would not think for a second that you will play in the Champions League. So it is good for him and the others to get an opportunity in these games.''

Wenger has been cautious in his use of youngster Jack Wilshere this season after the combative midfielder became Arsenal's youngest player in both Europe and the Premier League when introduced during the early part of the 2008/2009 campaign.

The 17-year-old has made just five appearances in total, three as substitute, and Wenger accepts it may now be time for him to go out on loan, with both Scottish giants Celtic and Rangers, as well as Middlesbrough, having expressed an interest.

"Jack has the quality of a top-level player, but he is still very young to throw in every week in the Premier League,'' said Wenger. He is impatient to play and he wants to play. We have had a few enquiries, and there is a real need there.

"However, it is always a sensitive subject to give the players out on loan because you must trust the manager that they will play them - if he goes out on loan and [just] sits on the bench it is better that he stays and practises with us.''

Wilshere Wants MORE Experience

Arsenal youngster Jack Wilshere is willing to secure a loan move, but would only consider an offer from a Premier League club.

Arsene Wenger's policy is to send his young stars out on loan to smaller Premier League or lower league clubs to experience first-team football, with the likes of Jay Simpson currently on loan at QPR and Henri Lansbury at Watford.

And with Wilshere starting just two games this season, both Carling Cup ties, and making two appearances from the bench late in the game, the 17-year-old could be following in their footsteps.

A graduate of the Gunners' impressive academy system, Wilshere is desperate to continue playing in the top flight.

"I would think about it but I think it would have to be in the Premier League," he said. "Not that the Championship is a bad league at all, but it might suit me differently.

"I have seen things about Middlesbrough, Celtic and Rangers being interested and there may be others, but a Premier League side would be better. I would, of course, rather stay and be involved at Arsenal though, so we will see what happens."

Theo In The Squad For The Trip To Olympiacos

Arsenal Football Club has today announced the following 18-man squad for the Champions League Group H clash with Olympiacos.

Carlos Vela
Theo Walcott
Aaron Ramsey
Alex Song
Mikael Silvestre
Jack Wilshere
Lukasz Fabianski (GK)
Vito Mannone (GK)
Fran Merida
Kyle Bartley
Francis Coquelin
Thomas Cruise
Craig Eastmond
Jay Emmanuel-Thomas
Kerrea Gilbert
Luke Ayling
Mark Randall
Gilles Sunu

As we can see it is full of young player in the list. Will it be the youngest squad ever fielded in Champions League history?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Fabregas - We Are A Little Small to Fight

Arsenal skipper Cesc Fábregas has urged manager Arsene Wenger to sign a target man in January because the squad is too short in stature and require "a different kind of option" up front.

The Gunners were knocked out of the Carling Cup by Manchester City last week and were beaten by a powerful Chelsea side in a Premier League clash at the Emirates Stadium prior to that. On Saturday, Arsenal got back to winning ways against Stoke City but the team Wenger fielded had the shortest average height of any club in the top flight at 5ft 10ins.

Fabregas is eager to see Arsenal add to their attacking options and has suggested that the club would benefit if any new signing had a more direct style. Fabregas said: "Throughout the game [at Manchester City], we had a lot of possession but didn't really have anyone to go in behind the defenders. We had a lot of similar players who like the ball into their feet. Sometimes you need a different kind of option."

"Against Chelsea we dominated the first 40 minutes without creating too much. Perhaps we had the same kind of problem and we were a little small to fight against them on crosses too.

"Overall I saw a Chelsea team that was normal but has probably the best striker in the world. Without [Didier] Drogba, their team would not be the same."

With star striker Robin van Persie out injured for five months Wenger has promised to scour the transfer market for a replacement and the Gunners have already been linked with Barcelona's diminutive forward Bojan Krkic and West Ham's 6ft 3ins striker Carlton Cole.

Arsenal to Rely On Youngster In CL!

Arsene Wenger openly admits he will not gamble with the fitness of any of his first-team regulars against Olympiakos in Arsenal's final Champions League group game on Wednesday.

With safe passage into the knockout stages already secure, Wenger will take a youthful squad to Greece to give some of his walking wounded a chance to recuperate ahead of the vital Premier League trip to Liverpool on Sunday.

Forwards Theo Walcott and Eduardo both missed the win over Stoke on Saturday with minor injuries, while Czech winger Tomas Rosicky was substituted at half-time with a groin problem that could keep him out for a month.

William Gallas, Emmanuel Eboue, Armand Traore and Andrei Arshavin all suffered knocks during the 2-0 win, leaving Wenger with something of a selection headache ahead of their midweek match.

However, given that the group is already won and there is nothing other than pride resting on the outcome, Wenger is ready to give those players who helped reach the Carling Cup quarter-finals more big-game experience.

"In the competition as a whole this season, the boys did really well and I am extremely proud of them," Wenger said. "I will give some of them an opportunity on Wednesday, for many reasons.

"At the moment, we have so many players injured that we cannot take any Gambles. Also, you must give players a breather when you can. You will see Fran [Merida], [Jack] Wilshere etc.

"We played Manchester City last week and they had a full side out. For an hour we did not suffer at all. I will try to build a similar team in Greece.

"It will be a great game for them because Olympiakos will play for something, and it is another good opportunity to show that we can do better than we did at Man City."

Mikael Silvestre, 32, is also set to start to help give experience to the younger players, and Wenger believes his value is not recognised.

"He doesn't get enough praise for his attitude and his quality," he said. "Silvestre's commitment to the cause was absolutely fantastic at Man City. People respect him highly in the dressing room. He's a quiet leader.

"He is a positive guy and helps the young players, but of course the best help is to win the games."

Olympiakos, coached by Brazil legend Zico, are currently unbeaten at the top of the Greek domestic league and recently beat arch-rivals Panathinaikos. A draw would be enough to see Olympiakos also safely through to the last 16 ahead of Standard Liege.

Wenger Commented On Arsenal Injury Crisis

Arsene Wenger has conceded it may be no coincidence that Arsenal have suffered from persistent injury problems, even if he has not diagnosed the reasons behind the club's fitness issues.

The Gunners have seen a succession of star names suffer long-term injuries in recent seasons with Robin van Persie and Kieran Gibbs the latest victims. In addition, William Gallas (hamstring), Emmanuel Eboue (muscle), Armand Traore (hamstring), Andrei Arshavin (ankle) and Tomas Rosicky (groin) all picked up injuries in Saturday's win over Stoke City.

Rosicky - who spent 18 months on the sidelines before returning to action at the start of the season - is now expected to be out for up to a month and Wenger is growing frustrated at the constant physical setbacks suffered by his side.

"We pick up more injuries than the other big teams, that is true," Wenger said. "You cannot say there is not a reason for it but we have not found it yet.

"It's the worst season for injuries for us. And they are all in the same area - in the offensive side. Last year it was in the defensive side."

"He's devastated and I am as well," Wenger said regarding Rosicky. "It's a vicious circle when you have been out for a long time. Eduardo had not played for 18 months, Tomas has not played for 18 months. When you come back, one or two games, your body has to get used to producing the energy levels again and it's difficult. Nobody masters that."

Arsenal were forced to field Arshavin as an emergency striker against Stoke and Wenger has already admitted he may have to enter the transfer market as he looks to replace Van Persie. But Real Madrid's Ruud van Nistelrooy, who was a hate figure amongst Arsenal fans during his time with Manchester United, is unlikely to move to North London.

Wenger said: "It would not be the best of starts, bearing in mind our past relationship! You have my number - you can text me all the names you find!"

Former Arsenal skipper Patrick Vieira, who had a number of scrapes with Van Nistelrooy and was dismissed following a clash with the Dutchman in the 2003-04 season, is also unlikely to return to the club, even if Wenger did show an interest in his compatriot over the summer.

"Vieira is not a striker," Wenger said. "I don't think we suffered in midfield (on Saturday) and we have (Abou) Diaby who can come back next week. I don't believe we are especially short there, but we are up front."

Friday, December 4, 2009

Robin Van Persie Injury Update.

Arsene Wenger has received some welcome news on the injury front, with the Arsenal boss revealing Robin van Persie and Kieran Gibbs both had successful surgery.

Van Persie, 26, suffered an ankle injury while on international duty with Holland and will be out for around five months, but Wenger is relieved that there were no complications with his operation. Left-back Kieran Gibbs, who has gone under the knife for his fractured foot, also came through as well as could be hoped.

"Kieran is doing very well,'' Wenger said. "I had him on the phone and it looked to be completely fine. I have not talked to Robin yet but there again the news I got from the surgery was it went very, very well. There was a lot of disturbance on our side recently [about his injury] but the surgery went well.''

Andrey Arshavin has highlighted the problem of holding the ball up in attack without Van Persie. The previously free-scoring team have not found the net in three domestic league and cup games since Van Persie's injury, although they managed a 2-0 win over Standard Liege in the Champions League.

Arshavin told L'Equipe: "Since the injury to Van Persie, we have scored only two goals in three matches. No-one is able to keep hold of the ball.''

Van Persie's absence as a central striker cannot be filled against Stoke tomorrow by Theo Walcott as the England international has picked up a hamstring injury. The hamstring complaint is described by Arsenal as "short term'', and Walcott will be desperate to return as soon as possible as he is yet to complete a match this season after shoulder and knee problems.

Wenger also has Alex Song suspended for the Stoke game at the Emirates Stadium but right-back Bacary Sagna has recovered from his ankle injury.

"We had Sagna out injured but, normally, he will be available,'' said Wenger. "However, Theo Walcott will not be available. He has a hamstring injury. As for the other players we had injured, the long-term ones I do not even speak about. But the players who looked to be shorter - like (Gael) Clichy, (Abou) Diaby and (Nicklas) Bendtner - will not be available. And, of course, Song is suspended for the weekend.''

Van Persie's injury has been part of a controversial fortnight for Wenger. The Frenchman was upset with the Dutch FA for the handling of Van Persie's injury and in the last two weeks there has also been a defeat to Sunderland, a bizarre outburst over players looking ahead to the World Cup and his assertion that Didier Drogba "does not do a lot'' after scoring twice against Arsenal.

The 60-year-old has also been criticised for failing to shake hands with City counterpart Mark Hughes after Wednesday's defeat at Eastlands.

"Whether I like or dislike someone, you have a responsibility to show the right spirit of the game,'' said Stoke boss Tony Pulis.

Bolton manager Gary Megson added: "In my view you can do whatever you want, say whatever you like during the game, but after the game you should shake hands, even if you don't particularly mean it. You should shake hands because people are watching and will draw their own conclusions if you don't. I don't think that is particularly good on Arsene's part and I think he has done it before.''

Arshavin Demands BIGGER Squad?

Andrei Arshavin believes Arsenal's results against their top-four rivals this season show that the current squad is not equipped to compete for silverware.

Arsenal have enjoyed some impressive form so far this season, but they were beaten by Manchester United and Manchester City in the league in August and September and lost to Sunderland and Chelsea in November.

Many have suggested that the 3-0 defeat at home to Chelsea on Sunday showed that Arsene Wenger will need to invest in January if Arsenal are to remain in the title race and Arshavin believes the lack of height and physical strength must be rectified as soon as possible.

"The fact that we have lost against our direct rivals this season signifies that we are not very good," he said in the Daily Mail. "We played good football, but that is not enough. We score a lot of goals, but we always let in one or more.

"We are not good on set pieces, and that is bound up with the fact that we don't have many tall players. Every other team as an advantage over us in this area. Chelsea were much stronger than us when it came to physical power.

"Had we possessed a tall player, things would have been better for us, especially in attack. We had nobody capable of holding up the ball. What can we, and must we, change? Only Arsene Wenger knows."

Wenger has indicated that he hopes to sign a striker in January following the injury to Robin van Persie.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Who Will Wenger Bring In January?

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has slammed the international football setup that has caused him an injury headache and admitted he is likely to dip into the transfer market in January to find a temporary replacement for Robin Van Persie.

The Gunners will be without key striker Van Persie until at least April after the Holland forward suffered ankle ligament damage (which turned out to be worse than first expected) while on international duty.