Sunday, January 30, 2011

Arsenal's Cesc Fabregas' Professionalism Stands Out In The Midst Of Torres' Saga

Arsenal managed to overcome a resilient Huddersfield side in the FA Cup to reach the next stages of the historic competition. The Gunners were the favourites in this encounter but they were put through a stern test by the Championship side who fought till the end. Arsene Wenger said it was that sort of a cup tie which provides intense excitement and demands the players to perform to the best of their abilities.

Arsene Wenger had to rotate his squad to keep them fit for this gruelling set of fixtures and the only real gamble he took was starting the in-form Samir Nasri ahead of the experienced Czech captain Tomas Rosicky. He opted to rest key players Theo Walcott, Robin van Persie and Cesc Fabregas for this encounter and yet managed to field quite a strong team.

It is quite unfortunate that Nasri was injured during the game due to a hamstring injury which puts him a doubt for the important Champions League game against FC Barcelona. Fabregas was brought on in the last few minutes of the match and salvaged the game in favour of the Gunners by inspiring his team when they looked unsettled.

The Spaniard has not been at his best for large parts of this season due to recurrence of his hamstring injuries but he does seem to be free from those troubles at present. He has been crucial in still keeping Arsenal in the FA cup with two late penalties against Leeds and Huddersfield respectively. Fabregas is not one to shirk responsibility and despite some criticism, he has been an able leader for the Gunners.

He was strongly linked with a move to Barcelona and according to many sources, he had informed Wenger that he intended to move to Spain. But Fabregas started the season in Arsenal colors and he has promised to stay at least till the end of the season. He has always declared that he does love Arsenal and has admitted that captaining this team means a lot to him.

Despite all the transfer speculation surrounding his future, he has not been distracted on the football field and continues to try his best regardless of what goes behind the scenes. Hs celebrations after that goal against Ipswich which confirmed Arsenal's berth in Wembley showed how much it meant for the young World Cup winner.

In this modern era of Football, there is a lot of emphasis on player power and most of the players can play their cards according to their wishes. Most people have criticised Fabregas for not speaking up about staying at the club but even if he did have a desire to join his boyhood club, Barcelona which is still unconfirmed, he has been very professional in handling the issue.

Robin van Persie and Cesc Fabregas are great friends and the Spaniard said that the first thing he did after winning the world cup was to talk to the Dutchman.He also dedicated his success in South Africa to Arsenal for helping him become one of the world's best attacking midfielders. These were comments he made when speculation was rife that he had played his last game for the Gunners.

He has always maintained that his future lies in the hands of Wenger, whom he considers as his second father. Also, he has never handed in a transfer request and it is clear that he has the desire to achieve success with the club which brings us to the situation of Liverpool striker Fernando Torres.

Torres has had to shoulder the burden of scoring goals almost single-handedly on a number of occasions and it is true that a lot of promises have not been kept but that has not been due to the new owners, John Henry and co. because they have run the club in a dignified manner since taking over the club. The Spanish striker declared that the Reds were the biggest club in England when he committed his future to the club in the summer.

However, it does seem like he has inserted a clause in his contract allowing him to leave in summer for a price of £50 million if the club cannot compete in the Champions League next year. Despite all his statements about the club, he has handed a transfer request and has made it clear he wants to move to Chelsea due to his ambitions of winning the title.

If Torres had moved on in the summer, it would still have caused Liverpool supporter a lot of despair but they would not be incensed by it. The timing of the transfer request has let the club down and hows disrespect towards the club and its supporters who have supported the striker ever since his move from Spain.

Liverpool are currently in good form and are the outside bets to qualify for the Champions League though it does look improbable at present. One of the main reasons why Liverpool have suffered is due to the exceptionally poor form of El Nino who has come to life on very few occasions most notably against Chelsea.

Also, he has enjoyed better form since the arrival of the King, Kenny Dalglish or so it  seemed. It has only been the opening of the transfer window which has injected some life into the striker to remind other clubs that he still remains one of the best strikers in the game.

The fact that Torres wants a move away from the club is easy to understand but his desire to move to Premier League rivals would itself not make it comfortable for the Liverpool faithful. The timing of the transfer request has shown a lot of disrespect towards the club who are essentially left with a lose-lose option.

Fabregas, on the other hand, has always maintained that he does not intend to disrespect the Arsenal supporters which is why he has preferred to deal his transfer speculations directly with Arsene Wenger. There is a good possibility that the Spaniard will leave the club next season but he has shown great respect for the club and Arsenal fans should support him if he still retains the respect and dignity when he departs the Emirates.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Arsenal Future Goalkeepers: Fabianski, Szczesny, Mannone and Wenger's Masterstoke

Arsenal were linked with a number of goalkeepers in the summer including the likes of Mark Schwarzer and Shay Given and most of the Arsenal supporters were let down by the manager Arsene Wenger's decision to not sign an experienced goalkeeper. The Arsenal manager installed the inconsistent Manuel Almunia as the first choice keeper at the start of the season.

Though he had few decent games, his horrendous performance against West Bromwich Albion cost Arsenal vital points in the Premiership and he has been injured since then. Lukasz Fabianski had a terrible time last season where he was responsible for a number of goals and a large section of the supporters wanted the Polish keeper to be sold during the summer.

Almunia's horrible performance and his injury provided Fabianski the chance to start games on a regular basis. Kieran Gibbs conceded a penalty against Partizan Belgrade in the Champions League and the Polish International saved it. It proved to be a turning point in his career as he has been excellent since then.

Lukasz Fabianski

Wenger has always maintained that Fabianski had the talent to be a world class keeper but until this season, it was hard to see why the manager backed him to the extent he did. Fabianski has grown in confidence and has been excellent in many games so far. Like any other goalkeeper in the league, he also makes the odd mistake (which is unfairly criticized by many) but he has had a consistent season and has been responsible in bringing stability to the defence.

He is still young and there are aspects he can improve on but he has shown that he is capable of being the first choice goalkeeper for the Gunners in the future. His confidence has been important for the Gunners and the defenders are relying on him to help them out when needed and there are signs that he is capable of commanding his back line though he has to improve his communication with the defenders and be more decisive.

He has won over many Arsenal supporters who doubted his potential and has been immense this season for the Gunners including some Man of the Match performances. However he has also been injured this season which would normally have presented the Gunners with a huge problem. Arsenal have not suffered despite the injuries to Fabianski and Almunia mainly due to the confident presence of Polish youngster Wojciech Szczesny.

Wojciech Szczesny

Szczesny had a impressive loan spell with Brentford in the Championship and he was determined to fight for his place in the Arsenal team this season. The tall goalkeeper was initially quoted to be unhappy with Arsenal and Wenger for not providing him enough opportunities in the three seasons he has been at the club.

But the Polish youngster was convinced by the experienced manager that he had a future at Arsenal and signed a long term contract with the club. He has subsequently made a number of appearances for the club and has shown that he is one of the brightest young prospects in world football. Szczesny made his Premier League debut against Manchester United at Old Trafford which is arguably the toughest fixture in the season for the Gunners and performed admirably under immense pressure in front of a hostile crowd.

He is a hugely confident lad who believes he must start games regularly which is the attitude that a player should have and his ambition will help him establish himself as the first choice goalkeeper in the future. He has got excellent reflexes, good command of the area and his huge frame enables him to be excellent in one-on-one situations. The Polish youngster has been compared with the legendary Manchester United keeper Peter Schmeichel and though there is a long way to go for him, he has the talent to be an extremely influential figure for the Gunners in the future.

Szczesny is only 20 and at times, he does make the odd error in judgement. The Poland International's distribution (especially from kicking) has to improve and he needs to work on his game but there is enough to suggest that he can be a top level keeper in the future. He is likely to push his senior compatriot for a place in the first team and should he maintain this consistency, there is every chance that he could start games regularly for the Gunners in the near future.

Vito Mannone and James Shea

Vito Mannone had some impressive moments for the Gunners last season but has slipped down the pecking order and has grown increasingly frustrated due to the lack of opportunities. He has been loaned out to Hull City and he has been good for them. Mannone was touted for big things after his sensational performance against Fulham last season but he has not had enough opportunities to show his quality for the club.
With Szczesny and Fabianski in excellent form, it is unlikely that Mannone will have a place on the bench in important games when the Polish duo is fit. The Italian youngster could leave the club at the end of the season if he is disillusioned with his situation with the club and though Wenger believes Mannone has a future with the club, Szczesny's promotion ahead of him and his performances for the Gunners has meant that he is likely to be ahead of him.

Arsenal's reserve keeper James Shea is another talented keeper at the club but he is still considerably inexperienced. It is likely that he will be loaned out to a Championship club in order to gain more experience in the future. Shea is highly rated but if Szczesny and Fabianski improve further, then the rest of the keepers could have a tough time breaking into the squad.

Wenger's Masterstroke was his decision to not sign another Keeper

It was widely rumored that Arsenal would sign a keeper in the summer but the French tactician did not spend the money required to acquire the services of a new keeper and provided the opportunity to the four keepers to establish their place in the team. Though Almunia failed yet again, Fabianski ha been provided with a run of games and has improved considerably. He has grown in confidence and has been excellent this season.

If a new keeper was signed, it is likely that Fabianski would never have fulfilled his potential and his confidence would be further shattered. Szczesny had only one year remaining on his contract in the summer and if another keeper was signed, there was a good possibility that he would quit the club. Arsene Wenger rates the Polish duo highly and could not afford to take the risk of losing the talented keepers in the future.

At present, Fabianski and Szczesny are embroiled in healthy competition for places and though Fabianski is currently the first choice keeper, he needs to perform at a high level to avoid being dislodged by his younger compatriot. Szczesny on the other hand will get his chances in the domestic Cup ties and will be the deputy to Fabianski in other competitions. If he continues to perform like this, it will be a hard decision for Wenger to make.

Vito Mannone has performed brilliantly at times for the club but the emergence of Szczesny has limited his chances of being the first choice keeper to a great extent which is why there is a good chance he could leave at the end of the season. For a club which did not have a single keeper good enough at the start, they have two excellent keepers in Fabianski and Szczesny who will battle it out for establishing their place in the first team on a regular basis.

Arsenal’s Andrei Arshavin: Will the Russian Dynamo leave the Gunners in summer?

Arsene Wenger’s side cruised to a comprehensive victory over Ipswich which ensured that they would be going to Wembley with a great chance of ending their frustrating title drought. Though Arsenal were unable to find the net in the first hour of the game, they managed to find three goals in the space of 15 minutes which ended the stout resistance of the Ipswich defence.

Wenger rested his first choice wingers, Samir Nasri and Theo Walcott and provided starting berths to the creative Andrei Arshavin and the more direct Nicklas Bendtner. The Russian captain has spent considerable time on the bench despite remaining fit because of his inconsistent performances over the course of the season.

Andrei Arshavin was signed in January 2009 and since joining the club, he has been sensational for the Gunners and has often produced brilliant moments for the club. Though he has the tendency to be off-colour on many occasions, he also has the capability to change the outcome of the game with his creativity. One clear example of this would be the Liverpool game at Anfield in the 2009-10 season where he scored a brilliant goal despite not being at his best for most of the game.

In this season, he has clearly not been in the best of form which has led to a lot of criticism and his poor work rate has not helped his cause either. Despite this, he remains the Arsenal’s best player in creating goals with 15 assists to his name. He has also scored 6 goals this season which is not too bad for a midfielder. Wenger has immense faith in the quality of the Russian which is why he is interested in renewing the contract of the versatile midfielder who has only 18 months left on his deal.

Theo Walcott has been used as an impact substitute in the last few seasons when everyone has been fit but he has finally been given the chance the start games on a regular basis for the Gunners. He has done very well this season and has shown signs of maturing and developing into a more complete player. He has already scored 10 goals this season which is his best return in his career and he has done enough to justify his selection in the team. It would take a string of poor performances from the England International to lose his place from here and it is likely that Arshavin will continue to be benched for more matches this season.

Samir Nasri has been Arsenal’s player of the season so far and he can play on either flank comfortably and though he has performed better on the right, he has played on the left to accommodate Theo Walcott. If he is fit, it is likely that he will start the game unless Wenger decides to rest the Frenchman.

Andrei Arshavin is a quality player of great talent and he will not be pleased to be on the bench at Arsenal. If Wenger cannot find him enough games, there is a good possibility that he would leave the Gunners at the end of the season. Wenger has expressed an interest in Lille midfielder Eden Hazard who is a very promising prospect and could sign the Belgian attacker to replace Arshavin in the summer. He has also been tracking the Southampton teenager Alex-Oxlade Chamberlain who can play as a winger but it is likely that he will be signed as a part of a long term project.

The Russian is already attracting interest from various top European clubs including the likes of Juventus and Chelsea while his former club Zenit has also made it clear that they have the door open for his return. Arshavin is a player of immense quality that Wenger will not like to lose but it is unlikely that the French tactician might be able to start the Russian in many games if Nasri and Walcott remain fit over the course of the season.

Arshavin has been booed at the Emirates on a couple of occasions and that could also influence his decision regarding his future of club and those supporters could well regret their decision to boo the diminutive midfielder. He has provided many moments of brilliance and joy to the supporters of Arsenal football club and it will be a sad day when he leaves the club, which will be the case should he not renew his contract in the summer.

Real Madrid: Can Mourinho Resurrect Adebayor's Career and Win Titles In Spain?

It is official that Emmanuel Adebayor has been signed by Real Madrid on loan for the rest of the season and they do have the option of signing him on a permanent basis at the end of the season. The former Arsenal striker has endured a tough time at Manchester City and has spent a lot of time on the bench due to the manager's preference to play Carlos Tevez as the lone striker.

The tall striker emerged as one of the most promising strikers in the world with some stirring performances for Arsenal where he endured a successful spell but things did not go according to Adebayor's plans after a few seasons and he lost the support of the fans. He moved to the ambitious Manchester City, then managed by Mark Hughes in a 25 million transfer move but he has not had a great time in Manchester.

Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho is a person who has immense belief that he can secure titles for the club but he has not been satisfied with the inconsistent performances of Karim Benzema. Though he said that he admires Gonzalo Higuain, the Argentine's injury has meant that the Portuguese tactician has had to play Benzema in more games than he wished for. It is not that Benzema is not talented; he is not the type of striker that Mourinho requires for Real Madrid.

Benzema is young and talented but he is not the finished product and has a lot to learn. Though the Los Merengues are a young team, the former Inter Milan manager will not be pleased with anything less than winning the La Liga and the Champions League. The Madrid no.9 has been given an extended run due to the lack of striking options other than Higuain who is injured but has not grabbed his opportunities despite scoring two hat-tricks this season.

At times, Mourinho has adopted a formation without any natural strikers which clearly underlines the fact that he does not have enough faith in the French International. Though the Real Madrid hierarchy and Mourinho did not seem to agree on bringing a striker in January, the manager has convinced the board to bring in a new striker to bolster their chances of winning titles this season.

Adebayor may not be the striker that Madrid fans wished for and most of them would still have preferred to
have the legendary Ruud van Nistelrooy back in the squad instead of the mercurial African. Though he has not been in good playing form of late having not played enough minutes for City, he is very talented and if he gets his confidence back, he can be inspirational for Los Blancos.

Arsene Wenger is a manager who recognises if a player has good potential and he certainly saw a bright future for Adebayor and if not for the off-field issues, he could still be playing at the Emirates. The big striker would certainly want to prove that he is still a world class player and in Mourinho and Real Madrid, he certainly has the support to do so.

Mourinho has preferred to have a talented target man in his team who is physically strong and can be direct. Adebayor is a volatile individual but the Real Madrid coach has excellent man-management skills and could instill confidence in the Togo striker. He is still only 26 and can improve on his game to a large extent. Diego Milito was not considered a world-beater till he signed for Inter Milan and under Mourinho, he proved his calibre by emerging as one of the best players for the Nerazzurri.

Adebayor cannot wish for a better opportunity to resurrect his career and he has the privilege of working with the "Special One" and could still reach the heights that he is capable of. Mourinho has won this important battle with the Real Madrid board and now that he has got a new target man in the squad, it is up to him to prove that he can achieve success with the resources he has at his disposal.

The Manchester City striker has only been signed by Real Madrid on a loan deal and though the Spanish club has the option of making the move permanent at the end of the season, it is still doubtful if they will opt for the move when prolific Argentine Gonzalo Higuain returns to full fitness. However, it is a golden opportunity for Adebayor to secure a permanent move by grabbing the opportunity to shine for Real Madrid and he has the chance to make history with Los Merengues.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Arsenal FC: Ranking The Top Five Most Important Players for the Gunners

Arsenal cruised to a comprehensive victory over Wigan Athletic with Robin van Persie scoring his first hat-trick of the season. It was a cohesive team performance which strengthened the belief of the Gunners that they can win the Premiership title this season. At the same time last season, Arsenal were struggling to cope with the injury to Van Persie and his absence meant that there was too much pressure on captain Cesc Fabregas.

Van Persie is back to his best after scoring six goals in the last three matches and the Gunners are looking strong with him in the team. They have a settled team combination with Engand Internationals Theo Walcott and Jack Wilshere establishing their places in the first team which is something not many would have expected at the start of the season.

Arsene Wenger is on the market for a defender due to the long term injury to Thomas Vermaelen who has still not recovered from an Achilles injury sustained by him in August. Johan Djourou has been immense for the Gunners and has made a strong case to continue to start games alongside Vermaelen in the future.

With less than half the season to go, the Gunners are still fighting for the title on all four fronts and as Wenger said, they need to keep their best players fit to win titles this season. In this slideshow are the five most important players for Arsenal FC.

5. Johan Djourou

The Swiss International was expected to be the fourth choice defender for Arsenal who would play lesser number of games than the others. Also, he was only returning from a long term injury at the start of the season and it was not known when he would be back to his best form. Djourou has dispelled doubts concerning his quality as he has produced consistent performances this season.

Though he started the season as the fourth choice centre back, he has played in many Premiership games this season and has surely moved ahead of Sebastien Squillaci in the pecking order. Djourou and Koscielny have both been excellent in the recent past and both of them are very important this season.

There is every chance that Wenger might not sign a quality centre back in January which means that Djourou will have a key role this season. When the Swiss International has played, the Gunners have looked solid and they have acquired more clean sheets with him in the team than without him.

4. Cesc Fabregas

The captain is arguably Arsenal’s most creative player and can create goals out of nothing. His vision and creativity is extremely important to the Gunners and he can pick out the runs of the striker which helps him supply killer passes like the one to Van Persie for his second goal. The Spaniard is Arsenal’s leader in midfield and dominates and controls the play from the area.

He has developed a superb understanding with Alex Song and Jack Wilshere and at times, swaps positions with any one of the duo which creates more problems for the midfielders. Arsenal have quick wide players and Fabregas’ through-balls to them helps the Gunners to create more opportunities through them as well.

Fabregas also has the knack of scoring vital goals like the one against Chelsea and gets into good positions. He shares a telepathic relationship with Dutch striker Van Persie and both of them are at their best when the influential Arsenal captain plays behind his deputy.

3. Robin van Persie

The Dutch striker scored his first hat-trick in a long time and has looked extremely sharp in recent games, which is a huge boost to the Gunners. The quality of the forward is undeniable but he is prone to injuries and the Gunners will hope that he can stay fit for the rest of the season. Though Marouane Chamakh has performed admirably in his first season in England, Robin van Persie is the best striker that Arsenal have and they need him to play in the big games.

The Dutchman is also a leader at the club and youngsters look up to him for inspiration. He is also excellent in creating opportunities for others which makes him a very dangerous player. In close games against tough opponents, they might not get many opportunities to score and Van Persie being a lethal finisher is a very important player in these situations.

Van Persie has missed a large chunk of the season due to an ankle injury but has still scored eight goals this season which is very respectable considering he has played very less number of minutes. Also, other attackers benefit from the presence of the flying Dutchman because of his creativity which is vital to the team.

2. Alex Song

Alexandre Song has developed rapidly from being a fringe player to one of the most important player to the Gunners in a span of around 18 months. Though he plays deep as a holding midfielder, he has developed excellent attacking qualities and has provided many moments of attacking brilliance this season. He has scored very vital goals like the ones against Manchester City and Chelsea and has also provided an excellent shield for the defence.

Song developed into a quality defensive midfielder last season but this season has seen him progress further and he has improved his passing, technique and vision. His partnership with Cesc Fabregas and Jack Wilshere has been excellent and the trio have been able to create opportunities for the likes of Robin van Persie and Samir Nasri.

Though Song’s role is primarily as a defensive midfielder, he has developed the instinct to join in with the attacks at the right time which provides Arsenal more threat in attack. The Gunners do not have a proper replacement for Song who provides steel in midfield which is why it is vital that Wenger provides him enough rest over the course of the season as possible.

1. Samir Nasri

The French midfielder was touted to be the next “Zidane” due to his impressive performances as a teenager for Olympic Marseille and has always possessed immense talent. However he has been inconsistent in the past which is why he has been unable to fulfil his potential before this season. He was dropped for the World Cup in South Africa and since then, he has been outstanding for the Gunners showing why the manager made a cardinal sin by excluding him for the important tournament.

Cesc Fabregas and Robin van Persie have both spent a lot of time on the sidelines this season and one of the main reasons why Arsenal still remain in contention on all four fronts is the superb form of Samir Nasri who has scored a total of 14 goals this seasons which is higher than what he managed in the two seasons before this one ( 7 goals in 2008-09 and 5 goals in 2009-10 ). He has scored some brilliant solo goals while many others have been scored due to his intelligent movement and his composure in front of goal.

Nasri’s versatility has also meant that he has played in various positions this seasons and provides a lot of flexibility to the team. Since the departure of Robert Pires, Arsenal have not had too many goal-scoring wingers but Nasri can certainly score a number of goals and he has the capability to produce it on a regular basis.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Arsenal: Theo Walcott's attitude should be followed by youngsters at the club

Theo Walcott was picked for the World Cup 2006 without having played in a single Premier League game in his career. The former Southampton's meteoric rise to stardom could have affected his mentality in a huge way but the England International has till date been humble and hardworking. It is undoubted that the winger is talented and can be immense for Arsenal and England in the future but he has still not achieved the consistency required to be a world class player.

It is clear that Walcott has improved a lot this season and should he continue with his progress, he could be a world class striker in the future. Though Walcott has been criticised by a number of experts and critics, he has not bothered about it too much and it is good that Arsenal's manager Arsene Wenger has backed him throughout his time at the club.

Walcott's problem has been decision making because he makes good incisive runs and his speed enables him to run behind defenders. But he has not made the right decisions after getting the ball from midfield which is why he has received a lot of criticism. Football expert Chris Waddle went as far as to say that the Arsenal winger had no "football brain" which was countered by Wenger by saying that Theo was one of the most intelligent lads at the club.

His inconsistency in the past can be observed in the game against Burnley at the Emirates, last season where he was awarded the man of the match for his impressive performance. In the first half, he got into excellent positions but his crossing was wayward and he did not make the right decisions in front of goal. But his second half performance was brilliant and he should have had at least three assists(and a goal which he scored) if not for Nicklas Bendtner's profligacy in front of goal that day. If Theo Walcott can produce performances like that on a regular basis, he will be a great player for sure.

He has already improved from the previous season and he has scored 10 goals this season despite spending a lot of time on the bench and the treatment room. Walcott has looked more confident in front of goal and it is a sign that he has the ability to play in the centre in the future. Though he likes to play in the centre where he can run behind defenders at will, he as not complained about where he has played and has shown great attitude.

Young players who are the talk of the town believe their own hype which leads to discontentment for the player but that has not been the case for Walcott who has waited patiently for the chance to establish himself in the team. Wenger has maintained that that he had more quality than coming on only as an impact substitute and has started him in a lot of games this season.

Walcott has spent a lot of time on the bench in his Arsenal career which ultimately cost him his place in the England team in the world cup but it has been due to his injuries that he has never had a consistent run of games. Wenger has believed in the forward's talent and considers him to be a integral member of Arsenal's team in the future along with compatriots Jack Wilshere and Kieran Gibbs.

He has not voiced out negative feelings even when he was benched on a number of occasions which shows his professionalism and he only said once in a positive way that he wanted to play regularly for the Gunners. Arshavin's inconsistent performances this season has meant Walcott has started games ahead of the Russian and Walcott has been superb in recent games like the one against Chelsea where he scored one and assisted one.

There are a number of young talented players at Arsenal who will find it hard to break into the first team because of the immense competition at the club. But they must believe that the manager will give them opportunities to prove their calibre and they must wait for their chances. Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey are examples of youngsters who have been given opportunities to establish themselves in the first team.

Despite his rise to fame at a very young age, Theo Walcott has remained grounded and has worked hard to establish himself in the first team. He has signed a long term contract with the Gunners and has been rewarded for his hardwork by starting more games this season. Youngsters must follow his example and must be prepared to work hard. Walcott may not be a world class player as of today but he has certainly shown the attitude needed to be one in the future.

Arsenal Transfer Prospects: The Pros and Cons of Signing Gary Cahill

Arsene Wenger made it clear that he was in the market for a new defender a few days back but there has been no signing till now and with only nine days to go before the transfer window closes, the French tactician will look to bring another centre back to the Emirates. The Gunners have only two fit centre backs Laurent Koscielny and Johan Djourou who are fit and the other two defenders Sebastien Squillaci and Thomas Vermaelen are currently injured.

Djourou who did not play in the previous season except for the final game was expected to play only two games a week for the most of this season. However injuries have meant that the Swiss defender has had to play a number of games and the Gunners have benefited greatly from his impressive form this season. Despite his superb performances, Wenger will want to rest him of possible so that he stays fit.

The Gunners will be in a horrible position if the Swiss International gets injured at this time of the season which is why Wenger needs to bring in another defender. They have been linked with a number of defender including the likes of Christopher Samba of Blackburn and Per Mertesacker of Werder Bremen but one defender who has been continuously linked with a move to the Emirates is Bolton defender Gary Cahill.

Wenger has also stated that he would like to sign a defender who has the experience of playing in the Premiership. In the previous season, Cahill was one of the targets according to reports but he was priced too high which is why Arsenal could not sign him. It is likely to be quite high this time as well but Cahill could be interested in the move which would be significant in reducing the price.

Chelsea's top target remains Benefica defender David Luiz and should they sign the talented defender, it is unlikely that any other top European club other than Arsenal will be interested in signing the English International. Also, the Gunners could loan the talented Carlos Vela till the end of the season which would also interest Bolton manager Owen Coyle.

The Bolton defender has been in superb form this season which is one of the reasons that the club is in the top half of the table. Though it does seem like a no-brainer that Arsenal sign the English defender, let us analyse the pros and cons of signing the talented defender.


Gary Cahill is a quality defender who has proved that he is amongst the best defenders in the league with consistent displays this season. Also, he is quite young at 25 and has a bright future ahead of him. The England International has excellent aerial ability which is important and also makes vital interceptions to break up play when necessary. He is experienced in the Premiership and will fit into the Arsenal without many problems.

He has also got leadership skills despite his age and can be immense for the Gunners in the future if they do sign him. Wenger likes defenders who have decent technical ability and Cahill is one of the few defenders who can bring out the ball from the back to start attacks. He is also eligible to play in the Champions League games this season which is not the case with many other transfer targets like Mertesacker and Vertonghen.


Cahill is a player who will undoubtedly add a lot of quality to the team which is why it is difficult to point out many disadvantages in signing the talented England International. The biggest problem that Wenger would face if he does sign a player like Cahill is how he will accommodate him in the first team. It would mean that the Gunners have five centre backs and it is likely that Sebastien Squillaci might be sold in the summer which is unfortunate for the French centre back.

Koscielny and Djourou have both shown that they have the talent to be successful for the Gunners on a regular basis for the Gunners and both of them deserve to have enough playing time in the future in order to develop into excellent defenders in the future. Thomas Vermaelen is certainly going to be a starter if he is match fit which leaves only one place for the other defenders.

Gary Cahill will be most likely to start games alongside the Belgian while Koscielny and Djourou might not get enough opportunities to realise their potential. Koscielny and Djourou have both shown that they do have a lot of potential but if Cahill is signed by Arsenal, it is likely that the duo will receive lesser playing time in the important competitions.

Will Wenger Spend the Money Required to Sign Gary Cahill?

Arsene Wenger will have to make a big decision this week on whether to spend the money required to acquire a quality defender like Gary Cahill. The French tactician will have to sell one of the two new defensive acquisitions in the summer if they do buy a defender like Cahill. Also, Djourou in particular deserves to start games regularly for the Gunners and he looks to have got over his injury problems.

The French tactician might opt for a quick fix solution and buy a defender of much lower quality like Matthew Upson or Sol Campbell but if Arsenal are to challenge consistently on all four fronts, a strong defender like Gary Cahill could be extremely useful for the Gunners and with the goalkeeping issues finally solved, a quality central defender is the requirement for Arsenal to win titles regularly in the future

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Real Madrid Transfer Prospects: The Pros and Cons of signing Ruud Van Nistelrooy

Real Madrid remained only two points behind the leaders Barcelona in the La Liga thanks to another stupendous performance from Cristiano Ronaldo who has been immense this season. Los Blancos have relied on the influential Portuguese captain for the majority of the goals this season due to the injury to Gonzalo Higuain and the inconsistency of Karim Benzema. Jose Mourinho has plenty of options when it comes to midfielders but he has not got many strikers at the club.

Mourinho is a manager who prefers to have a striker who is technically good as well as someone who has good physical qualities and can hold the ball. His successes with Chelsea and Inter Milan was linked with the consistent performances of Didier Drogba in England and Diego Milito and Samuel Etoo in Italy. He has two good strikers in Higuain and Benzema but the Argentine's injury has meant that Mourinho has no good optional striker from the bench.

Van Nistelrooy does want to return to his former club for whom he scored a number of goals after his transfer from Manchester United. He is reportedly interested to move to Real Madrid but Hamburg are reluctant to release the player whose contract ends in the summer. The Dutchman has a knack of scoring goals and believes that he has still got a lot to offer the Spanish club and his experience could be vital to the Los Blancos to develop young strikers like Morata.

Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho has already admitted that he would like a player of Van Nistelrooy's quality to join the club and that he knows the striker from his Manchester United days. The Portuguese tacticians would like to have someone as experienced as the Dutchman in his squad and if Benzema does get injured, he could still employ the same formation with Van Nistelrooy as the lone striker instead of playing six midfielders.

The deal would not be very costly considering that the Dutchman only has six months left on his contract and is past his prime which would mean that he should cost less compared to many other strikers in the world. Also, Van Nistelrooy is interested in playing again for Real Madrid which would make the deal a lot easier to happen if Los Merengues do lodge a proper bid for him in this January transfer window.


Ruud Van Nistelrooy may not be in his prime but he certainly retains the compsure and killer instinct in front of goal. He still has good physical strength and has a lot to add to Real Madrid. Nistelrooy has also played for Madrid in the recent and it will not take him long to adjust to the rigours of the La Liga and having enjoyed a successful spell with the Los Blancos, he will be confident of reproducing his best under Jose Mourinho.

Also Nistelrooy's experience could be vital to guide young strikers Higuain and Benzema who both have the habit of missing some easy chances which should be converted by players of their quality and talent. The Dutchman will not only provide good cover for these two but would also be an excellent player to have on the bench to create an impact if necessary. With the departure of the legendary Raul, Nistelrooy's presence in the dressing room will certainly provide a boost to the club and his experience could be vital for the club.


Nistelrooy is certainly past his prime and could find it difficult to adjust to the fast game that Real Madrid play under Jose Mourinho. One of Real Madrid's greatest strengths under the Portuguese tactician has been the speed of the counter attacks and with the Dutchman in the team, he cannot get in behind defences like Benzema or Higuain. Also if Nistelrooy is signed, it would end their search for a striker and better strikers could not be targeted if Mourinho and Los Blancos decide to make a deal with the Dutchman and Hamburg.

Also someone like Higuain or Benzema could feel unsettled by the arrival of Van Nistelrooy who is a crowd favourite at the Bernabeu and that could add more pressure to perform. However Jose Mourinho is excellent in man-management skills and will ensure that he gets the best from his players. The other thing to be considered is whether the Dutchman would accept if he is benched to accommodate a younger striker like Benzema.

Can Ruud van Nistelrooy help Real Madrid win the La Liga and the Champions League?

Real Madrid would be severely affected if Benzema does sustain an injury over the course of the season and having a player of the calibre of Nistelrooy will only add more quality to the squad. It is debatable whether signing Van Nistelrooy could prove pivotal to their title hopes but the addition of an experienced player like him will instill a positive mentality in the camp.

Also, Van Nistelrooy has been successful against the best teams in the world and does know what it takes to achieve victory over quality teams. He can guide youngsters to perform better under pressure and can also add a number of useful goals for the club. There is a good possibility that Real Madrid might attempt to sign the Hamburg striker and it would be great for them if the Dutchman does sign for the Los Blancos.

Arsenal Transfer Prospects: Analysing The Pros and Cons of Signing Matthew Upson

Arsenal eased past relegation candidates West Ham United by scoring three goals at Upton Park with Robin van Persie netting a brace. The Hammers struggled to create anything meaningful and apart from a dreadful back-pass from Johan Djourou, the Gunners' defence looked solid and deserved their clean sheet. The victory would mean that they will be on the tail of leaders Manchester United who will play Tottenham on Sunday.

Arsenal have not got enough numbers at the back because of the injuries to Thomas Vermaelen and Sebastien Squillaci because of which Laurent Koscielny and Johan Djourou have to start almost all the games. It is likely that Wenger will attempt to sign a Centre Back to provide good cover for the defense.

Arsene Wenger revealed that Thomas Vermaelen will most probably not require surgery but it is still not known when the influential Belgian defender will be back for the Gunners. Sebastien Squillaci has also sustained a hamstring injury which means Wenger will be forced to try to sign a defender in January. He has also insisted that he prefers a defender who has the experience of playing in the Premier League.

Arsenal are looking for a defender who could add quality to the team as well as add some depth to the squad but with four defenders already in the squad, Wenger could add someone who could be a quick-fix solution. West Ham defender Matthew Upson, who has played for Arsenal in the past, could be targeted by Wenger to provide depth to the team because he will be available on a bargain and also he has a lot of experience in the Premier League.

Upson has played for the Gunners in the past but due to the longevity of class players like Martin Keown and Tony Adams and his own injury problems, he struggled to establish himself in the Arsenal team. Upson was allowed to move on from Arsenal and made a number of appearances for Birmingham City. He then moved to West Ham for whom he has been a key player in the last few seasons.

Arsene Wenger has not signed his former Arsenal players back for the Gunners except in the case of Sol Campbell who was signed in the previous season. But Upson could be targeted by the French tactician because his contract ends in the summer and the Hammers could cash in on the England International and also he has immense experience in the Premier League.


Matthew Upson has got a lot of experience in the Premiership and at the age of 31, he could still have some good years in him. Also, he is good in the air and is a no-nonsense defender which is what the Gunners need. The England International will benefit from playing alongside a centre back like Thomas Vermaelen who has good pace. Also, he has consistently performed at a top level for West Ham United and though he has made the odd error, he has largely been reliable for the Hammers.

Since the defender is available at a bargain, it makes good business sense to sign the England International as he will provide good cover. He will not take time to adjust and if he does prove to be better than Squillaci, then it could mean that the Frenchman could be shipped out in the summer. Upson has worked with Wenger and can adjust to the needs of the Frenchman if he is signed by the Gunners.


The England International is clearly not going to be the first choice defender and lacks the quality of Thomas Vermaelen or Gary Cahill. He could end up as yet another back-up defender like Squillaci who cannot establish himself as the first choice defender. The Gunners concede far too many goals in all competitions and they need a strong and capable defender who can add quality to the team.

It is doubtful if Upson will solve the defensive problems of Arsenal although he will provide decent back-up to the first choice defenders. He does not have great technical ability but he has experience in the Premiership and knows how to bring the ball from the back. He also lacks pace which means strikers who have good pace can get behind the defence and cause problems for them.

Should Wenger go for Upson or should he target a quality defender like Gary Cahill?

Wenger should decide whether he has to opt for a defender like Upson who is essentially a fourth choice centre back or to spend money to acquire a top quality defender to partner Thomas Vernaelen. Upson could be a good business deal for the short term but it would mean that either the England International or Squillaci will be on their way out in the summer because the Gunners will have four fit centre backs and Wenger could promote young talented players like Ignasi Miquel.

The decision taken by the French tactician will also be based on how long he estimates Thomas Vermaelen to be fit and back to his best again. If the Belgian is going to miss the majority of the remainder of the season, then the Gaffer must spend money to acquire a quality defender. But Wenger is more likely to make a deal to sign Matthew Upson instead of spending the money required to attract top quality defenders like Per Mertesacker.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Arsenal Transfer Prospects: Analysing the Pros and Cons of Signing Per Mertesacker

Arsene Wenger has recently confirmed that the impressive Belgian defender Thomas Vermaelen has suffered another setback in training and is not likely to make a return for the Gunners in the near future. He has also clearly stated that he would have to sign a centre back in January to ease the pressure and work load on the other defenders.

With Arsene Wenger indicating that the Gunners need another centre back, it is likely that the French tactician will target someone who will add quality to the defence. In recent days, the Gunners have been linked with a number of centre backs including the likes of Christopher Samba, Gary Cahill and Per Mertesacker. Mertesacker was also linked with a move to the Emirates in the summer but Arsenal signed Laurent Koscielny and Sebastien Squillaci to replace the outgoing William Gallas and Sol Campbell.

Sebastien Squillaci has not been impressive so far while Koscielny is improving with experience. However it would be a great boost to their title hopes if they can sign a quality defender who has the experience. Squillaci has also sustained a hamstring injury which leaves Koscielny and Djourou as the only Centre Backs in the squad and the Swiss International cannot be risked in too many games.

This is the reason why Wenger will be forced to spend money in January though it is unsure whether they can attract a top quality defender to leave their club this month. German International Per Mertesacker has only 18 months still on his contract and could be tempted to move to a top European club like Arsenal at this stage of his career. Also, Werder Bremen are already out of the Champions League and are struggling in the Bundesliga.

Though the German International has insisted that he wants to concentrate on his club for now, he could still move in January if Arsenal make the right offer for the tall defender. Let us analyse the pros and cons in signing the experienced Germany defender.


Mertesacker is only 26 years of age and still has a long and bright career ahead of him. The German International is vastly experienced with more than 70 International caps to his name and is considered as one of the most consistent centre backs in the world. The fact that he has not yet signed for any top European club yet makes him a possible target for Arsenal who could get him at a lower price because he has only one more year running on his contract.

The tall defender would be a huge boost to Arsenal especially during set-piece situations where the Gunners have conceded some soft goals. The giant Centre Back is a leader at the back and his experience is invaluable to the team in the absence of Thomas Vermaelen. Also, he has got the knack of scoring from set-pieces for his team which makes him a goal scoring threat in such situations.

The Centre Back is very good in reading the game and making vital interceptions. He is a very fair player and is a good tackler. He has also got decent technical ability and his distribution of the ball is good. Mertesacker has shown that he has the ability to be a success in top clubs and with Werder currently struggling, he might look for a new challenge in England.


It is hard to find disadvantages in signing a quality centre back like Mertesacker but there are some things which Wenger might consider before splashing the cash on the German International. Mertesacker does not have too much pace and might take time to adjust to the pace of the Premier League. Also, he is not having the best of seasons at Werder Bremen and this could prove to be a major challenge for the defender considering that he will have to justify his hefty price tag. The German International will also be ineligible to play in the Champions League games for Arsenal because he represented Werder Bremen earlier in the competition.

Mertesacker will certainly be a great addition for the Gunners but his signing will spell the end of Sebastien Squillaci’s short Arsenal career who will probably be sold in the summer. This is because Wenger has identified that Koscielny has a lot of talent which is why he spent around £8.5 million to acquire his services. Thomas Vermaelen is Arsenal’s best defender while Johan Djourou has shown everyone that he has a bright future at Arsenal. Wenger might have to sell Squillaci in the summer and also, with four quality centre backs in the squad, it will be extremely difficult for talented youngsters Ignasi Miquel and Kyle Bartley to break into the first team.

One more factor which must be considered is the fact that the Gunners might have to be involved in a bidding war with many other clubs. Liverpool, Manchester United and Chelsea have all been linked with the defender which makes it harder for Arsenal to sign the defender on a bargain. However, Arsenal are a profit-making enterprise and Wenger will have enough money to spend in January.

Wenger’s Decision

The French tactician has been frustrated by the lack of titles in the last five years and that is one of the reasons why the Carling Cup has been considered seriously by Wenger. The reason why Arsenal’s title challenge faltered was mainly due to injuries to key players at important times in the season. With Vermaelen suffering a setback to his Achilles injury, Wenger might be cautious and will not take a gamble. Djourou has only just recovered completely from his injuries but it is better for him to have a lesser work load.

The addition of a quality defender could prove to be an excellent January signing for Arsenal and it will help them boost their chances of winning a trophy. Per Mertesacker’s calmness and experience will add a lot of quality to the defence and though Wenger may have to spend around £15 million, it would be worth the gamble if the Gunners can win a major trophy.