Vieira: The Pretenders and Contenders to his Throne

July 2005. The month and year that Patrick Vieira left Arsenal to join Juventus. The deal was a reported £13.75m and left many Gunners’ fans in shock. The central lynchpin of the Invincible team had been cast aside with no replacement seemingly on the way.

For many, the Frenchman’s departure is a symbol of everything that followed for Arsenal over the next 12 years. A dominant, all-round midfielder who was a genuine leader. Gone. The Arsenal midfield hasn’t been the same since. Of course, it’s not quite that simple. To suggest Vieira was never replaced is a little misleading. In the last 12 years, Arsenal have had a selection of world-class midfielders, albeit of a different ilk from the towering Frenchman.

There is no doubt that Arsene Wenger has made more than a few questionable decisions during his reign. But blaming him for not replacing Vieira with a like-for-like player somewhat misses the point. The root of Arsenal’s failings in the league and Champions League stem further than a lack of leaders. Continue reading Vieira: The Pretenders and Contenders to his Throne

WALCOTT HEARTFELT LETTER TO ARSENAL FAN

Gunners winger passed on his condolences to some loyal Arsenal supporters following the death of their child, whom they had named after the Arsenal star, Theo.

Walcott and the club were widely praised online and in the media when it emerged that Walcott had sent a heartfelt letter to some grieving parents following the death of their son, who was named Theo in recognition of the Arsenal star. Continue reading WALCOTT HEARTFELT LETTER TO ARSENAL FAN

What now for Wilshere?

Traditionally, the January transfer window is a quiet time in terms of player trading, but all that can change when a major tournament is on the horizon. We’re heading into World Cup year and those who are on the fringes of their national squads are eager to get as much game time as possible in order to increase their chances of making the plane.

One of those players is Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere. Back to fitness after a catalogue of injuries, the midfielder continues to be overlooked by Gareth Southgate as younger, untried men are used in Wilshere’s preferred slot. A move away from the Emirates is a possibility but given Arsenal’s mixed start to the season, Arsene Wenger should really be looking to bring this considerable talent back into the fold.

Aims

Continue reading What now for Wilshere?

Anticipating Arsenal’s January Transfer Window

It seems like the dust has only just settled on the ‘will they, won’t they’ speculation regarding Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil leaving Arsenal in the summer. Yet, here were are less than two months before the January transfer window opens, and Arsenal fans are getting ready to jump back on the emotional rollercoaster ride.

It’s not just the future of Arsenal’s two best players that will be on the agenda in January; there are still questions at large regarding squad improvement. With Arsenal constantly one poor result away from a crisis, Wenger will have his work cut out for him early next year. Can he successfully navigate the January window and give Arsenal the best chance of finishing in the top four? Continue reading Anticipating Arsenal’s January Transfer Window

The Season So Far

Twenty-one years. Normally when you reach such a landmark there is nothing but celebration and enthusiasm for what the future may hold. It couldn’t be more different for Arsene Wenger, 21 years now at the helm of an Arsenal ship that is seemingly listing more as each season passes.

Fans at the Emirates are again arguing over Wenger in or Wenger out. The same deja-vu plagues the club each season it seems and it also plagues every journalist, seemingly copying and pasting the previous seasons transcripts over transfer policy/ambition/Kroenke & Usmanov.

We are now a quarter of the way through the season and again the same patterns seem to be arising for the Frenchman. So how have the first two months of this campaign shaped up? What to make of the new signings at the club? Was he right to let Oxlade Chamberlain leave? And what of Sanchez and Ozil? Continue reading The Season So Far

CHELSEA CHASE OXLADE-CHAMBERLAIN

Even whilst Chelsea manager Antonio Conte tells press conferences that he remains confident with the situation at hand despite the season opener loss to Burnley in the Premier League, and the Italian says he is not worried about the lack of more signings this summer, Chelsea are doing everything in their power to land Arsenal starlet Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

The defending champions have spent around £130 million to get four players so far this summer, but more players from the title-winning squad have left, and the 3-2 shock loss at Stamford Bridge increased the pressure for the manager to add players. Continue reading CHELSEA CHASE OXLADE-CHAMBERLAIN

Arsenal Rekindle Pursuit of Juventus Centre-back

Despite Arsenal having some great success in the transfer window so far, it has lacked the impetus expected from Arsene Wenger in what could be his last couple of seasons at the Emirates. They signed Sead Kolasinac for free to shore-up the defence and left-back position and spent a club-record fee to bring in Alexandre Lacazette to finally give Arsenal a true striker.

Now, reports from Italy claim that the Gunners are in pursuit of one of Juventus’ prized centre-backs, Daniele Rugani. With Arsenal’s last two games showing Arsene Wenger utilising the three-at-the-back formation to great effect, defeating Chelsea in both of their last competitive matches to win two trophies, they could do with a centre-back who is more experienced in the role.

Juventus can’t afford to lose Rugani

Daniele Rugani has been in the Juventus system since February 2015, and the club has been moulding him into their next centre-back star. Having been blooded into the first team over the last couple of seasons, the Italian champions have effectively put their trust in Rugani for the upcoming campaign.

This comes after the huge-spending AC Milan managed to claw top centre-back Leonardo Bonucci away from Juventus and the champions decided not to sign a replacement following the transfer. They did get Medhi Benatia from Bayern Munich during the Kingsley Coman negotiations, but since Bonucci left, Juve haven’t signed and kept another centre-back.

This puts the 6’3’’ 23-year-old in a prime position to get a lot more game time, and that appears to be the way in which Juventus are going with him. So, losing him this late in the transfer window could be catastrophic to the team. Due to a fantastic summer of signings, AC Milan have closed in to 13/2 in the Serie A betting. Juventus are still clear favourites, but given the immense talent fluxed into AC Milan, perhaps the odds should reflect a closer race as the challengers certainly have the tools to have a good run at the title.

It’s hard to ignore both Juventus’ six-season winning streak of Serie A and the immense team that AC Milan have built, so this could make for the most competitive campaign for years, which Juventus will not want to be pulled into. Keeping their future star Daniele Rugani is a must if they wish to remain dominant, so they’re very unlikely to let him go.

Arsenal heading in the right direction

The fact that Arsenal are being linked to centre-backs, especially someone as talented and tactically-sound as Rugani, is a great sign and will hopefully bear fruit before the end of the transfer window. Unfortunately, however, it seems extremely unlikely that the Italian giants would let Ruagni leave – they simply need him too much this season.

Much of the other transfer talk surrounds attacking players such as Thomas Lemar, Lucas Moura, and Ousmane Dembele, most likely because of the Alexis Sanchez situation. But, if Arsene Wenger wants to continue down the three-at-the-back route, he will want to sign a central defender experienced with the tactical structure of the formation, instead of relying on full-backs to get the job done over the long season.

If the Gunners do end up getting Daniele Rugani, it would be a fantastic signing, but it looks rather unlikely at this point.

ALL CHANGE UP FRONT

It looks like we’ll have a comletely transformed strike-force next season, with the press going wild with speculation and rumours!

Arsenal are reportedly close to completing the signature of Alexandre Lacazette from Olympique Lyon this summer. The 26-year old was a prime candidate to join Atletico Madrid but after the La Liga outfit lost their transfer ban appeal, things changed. Reports in England and France say the Gunners could complete the deal for Lacazette in the next 48 hours. Le Progress claims the French club president Jean-Michel Aulas has approved of the deal and it could be completed soon.

Another rumour of players joining the club (this time by Calciomercato) is that the Gunners are close to announcing the deal for Leicester City winger Riyad Mahrez. The 26-year old Algerian had an underwhelming season at the club last year and seems intent on exiting the Kings Power Stadium this summer. The Gunners wanted him last year but he opted to remain with the Foxes after their fairy tale season. Continue reading ALL CHANGE UP FRONT

Summer Signings for Arsene to Consider

As we approach the official start of the summer transfer window, all the talk at Arsenal seems to be concerning players who may leave the club. Both Olivier Giroud and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain have been linked with the exit door in recent days and it’s certainly true that Arsene needs to trim some of the deadwood at the Emirates as the 2017/18 campaign starts to appear over the horizon.

More importantly, the squad needs some fresh faces and that was clearly evident throughout a disappointing league season so who is in the frame at this stage? Continue reading Summer Signings for Arsene to Consider

Wenger Turns Back the Clock as FA Cup Final Awaits

Like an old-school dad trying on his first pair of jeans, Arsene Wenger has relented for the first time since his spectacled, waist-height jacket days to implement a 3-4-3 system that is seemingly in vogue this season.

It was in May 1997, when Olive were top of the charts with ‘You’re Not Alone’ and Derby County fans were bidding farewell to the Baseball Ground, that Wenger was last tempted by a three-pronged defensive back-line.

In a match where Tony Adams saw red after just 13 minutes, Dennis Bergkamp’s sublime chip remains the stand-out moment of a day where Arsenal secured a third-placed finish. Continue reading Wenger Turns Back the Clock as FA Cup Final Awaits