Wenger: Elneny Must Adapt

Mohamed-ElnenyArsene Wenger says new signing Mohamed Elneny must adapt quickly to the physical challenges presented by English football.

Elneny, who arrived from Basle in a £5million deal earlier this month, made his Arsenal debut in their 2-1 FA Cup fourth-round victory over Burnley on Saturday.

The Egyptian international completed the full 90 minutes for the Gunners, and while Wenger was pleased with his overall contribution, the Frenchman feels his new signing has to improve on the physical side of his game.

“I felt he started a bit cautious and played a bit secure,” said Wenger of the 23-year-old midfielder.

“But he became more adventurous, had some good shots on goal, and his mobility and his workrate was exceptional.

“He needs to adjust to the power of the game in the Premier League, but this was a good welcome today and certainly he has learned a lot.

“It will take him some time to adjust to the power side of our game here but his intelligence, mobility and the technical level are good.”

What did you think of Elneny? Did he impress you in his Arsenal debut?


Wenger Welcomes Sanchez Back

alexis-sanchezArsene Wenger hopes Arsenal will reap the rewards of a “good winter break” for Alexis Sanchez after he scored the winner in their fourth-round FA Cup victory over Burnley on Saturday.

Sanchez, making his first start for the Gunners since November 29, set up Calum Chambers for the opening goal of the game before getting on the scoresheet in the second half of a 2-1 success.

The Chile international was given a standing ovation by the Arsenal faithful after he was substituted with 11 minutes remaining following an impressive display.

And Wenger, who is bidding to win the FA Cup for a record seventh time as a manager, believes the Gunners will benefit from Sanchez’s enforced spell on the sidelines.

“He has had a long rest now,” said Wenger of the 27-year-old forward who was an ever-present for Arsenal until he sustained a hamstring injury in their 1-1 draw at Norwich.

“It is true that when he got injured you could see signs of fatigue, and two months’ rest is a good winter break.

“I was not too worried on the fitness front because I kept him out two weeks ago. He was there physically but we had some worries about his muscle, but he came through well and you could see that physically he is ready.”

Francis Coquelin made his first appearance for Arsenal since November after an injury lay-off while new signing Mohamed Elneny was handed his debut.

In total, Wenger made nine changes to the side which suffered a disappointing 1-0 defeat against Chelsea in the Barclays Premier League here last Sunday.

Chambers scored after 19 minutes with a fine finish following a neat through-ball from Sanchez before Burnley stunned the hosts when Sam Vokes equalised.

“At the start it looked like it would be easy because we had a lot of the ball and good opportunities around the box,” Wenger added.

“When it came back to 1-1 it was a different game. I think we were shocked and they gained belief.

“I saw them in their win against Derby and I could see that they were very efficient, a strong team, no weakness, and they have shown that today.

“In the second half I don’t think they created a lot, but we managed to win the game and we looked in control in the end.”


Arsenal team news: Wenger Set To Rotate For FA Cup Tie

ospina-arsnalArsenal boss Arsene Wenger is set to rotate his squad for the fourth round FA Cup tie at home to Championship outfit Burnley this weekend.

According to the Telegraph, youngster Alex Iwobi is set to be involved while new signing Mohamed Elneny is in line to make his first appearance for the club.

Other players that are likely to feature against the Clarets are Calum Chambers, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Kieran Gibbs and David Ospina.

Ospina has not played a Premier League game this season due to the presence of new signing Petr Cech. Chambers, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Kieran Gibbs, meanwhile, have been largely limited to substitute appearances.

Elneny has only been on the bench for Arsenal twice since his move, but his experience with Basel in the Swiss top flight and the Europa League means he should be comfortable lining up against Burnley.

Iwobi, who is just 19 years of age, has started to feature in Wenger’s plans of late. He has made four substitute appearances in the league while he also started in the 3-1 FA Cup victory over Sunderland in the last round.

The Gunners have won the FA Cup in the previous two seasons, so it is obviously a competition that their manager does not treat with disdain.

However, with a Premier League clash against Southampton just three days later, he knows he must do some juggling.


Real Madrid Inserted Anti-Barca Clause In Ozil Deal

ozil-contractLast week Football Leaks lifted the lid on the Gareth Bale and Anthony Martial transfers and this morning they have leaked the Mesut Ozil contract when he moved from Real Madrid to Arsenal in August 2013.

A clause inserted in this deal stipulates that Real have a right of first refusal for 48 hours in the event that Arsenal receive an offer for the midfielder from another Spanish club, effectively preventing Barcelona from snapping up the former Bernabéu favorite.

The document also shows that the total cost of Arsenal’s deal for Ozil could reach €50m. A total of €24m was paid by Arsenal on September 2 2013 (when he signed), €15m was paid a year later and a further €5m was paid a year after that.

Arsenal also had to pay the applicable VAT on top of those sums. In addition, from July 1 2014 onwards, the Gunners agreed to pay another €1m for every season they qualified for the Champions League up until 2020.

What’s more, if the Gunners were to sell on the Germany international for more than what they bought him for (€50m), they would have to give Real Madrid 33% of the profit made on him. According to the paperwork divulged, Arsenal agreed to stump up an initial fee of 44m for Özil plus up to 6m in bonuses – 1m per season in which he helps them qualify for the Champions League over a maximum of six years.


Wenger Blames Costa For Defeat Against Chelsea

Arsene-Wenger-pensiveArsene Wenger bemoaned the influence of Diego Costa as the Chelsea striker once again proved a thorn in 10-man Arsenal’s side.

Costa in September tussled with Laurent Koscielny and Gabriel, who was sent off, and on Sunday drew a foul from Per Mertesacker which saw the German dismissed at the Emirates Stadium in Chelsea’s 1-0 win.

The Chelsea striker then netted his sixth goal in six games to dent the Gunners’ title hopes and extend their winless league run against their London rivals to nine games.

Wenger told Sky Sports 1:

“Mertesacker made the challenge but I said he got Mertesacker sent off, you can not say it’s not true.

“I haven’t seen it again, I said in the first game he got Gabriel sent off and today he got Mertesacker sent off. A fact is a fact, I do not accuse him of anything, it’s just what happened.”

Asked about the incident later in his post-match press conference, Wenger said:

“I said Costa got two of our players sent off in the last two games against Chelsea. Those are only facts.

“Is the decision right or wrong? I don’t know. That is a fact, without accusing him of anything.”

Wenger had not seen the incident again nor spoken to Mertesacker, but described referee Mark Clattenburg’s decision in the 18th minute as “quick and harsh”.

“The referee made a decision and we have to get on with it,” Wenger said.

“I didn’t know if Costa was offside or not, or if Per Mertesacker touched him or not. I don’t know.

“It was of course frustrating, but it’s a decision we have to take on the chin and get on with our job. That’s what we did.”

The Frenchman declined to address Costa’s role further, but rued his side’s inability to make the most of the opportunity against a Chelsea side whose title defence has fallen apart this season.

“I would not compare today’s situation,” Wenger said.

“It was not a confrontational situation like it was at Chelsea.

“It was a fact of a game and a decision of a referee. I don’t think it was linked with any bad behaviour or attitude.

“We come out with a lot of regrets because we couldn’t play with our (full) team, and looking at Chelsea today, there was a lot of room to beat them if we had played with 11 players.”

Wenger praised his team, despite a fifth loss of the season which leaves them three points behind Leicester in third place.

“Despite the disappointing result, we should have even more belief in ourselves after the game,” Wenger said.

“The team were focused and resilient, fighting to the last second.”

Striker Olivier Giroud was sacrificed for defender Gabriel after Mertesacker’s dismissal, a decision greeted by boos from Gunners fans.

“Do you want to make a poll for every decision to see who does what?” Wenger said.

“I made the decision and, for me, it was quite a normal decision. We knew we had to drop deeper and to use pace to get forward.”


Arsenal To Reward Wilshere With New Contract And Raise

JackWilshereAccording to Wayne Veysey over at Football Insider Jack Wilshere has agreed in principle the terms of a new £31.5m Arsenal contract that will keep him at the Emirates until 2021.

Wilshere’s new deal comes with a pay raise from his current £90,000-a-week to £110,000-a-week and run until 2021. Those wages lifts Wilshere into the second bracket of earners at Emirates Stadium alongside Aaron Ramsey and Theo Walcott but behind Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez.

If fit and healthy that is probably where you would put Wilshere if you were ranking Arsenal players. Wilshere has been around the Arsenal scene for so long it is easy to forget that he is just 24.

But the timing of the deal is a bit strange as Wilshere has two-and-a-half years left on is current deal, and he has been out all season with a fractured left fibula. Why not wait until the summer and see how Wilshere has recovered from the latest of a long line of injuries?

Wilshere is expected back before the end of February and there have been reports that Arsenal have rejected an approach from Valencia to sign Wilshere on loan.

Valencia are managed by England assistant Gary Neville, who is a big fan of the midfielder, but the arrival of Wilshere back in the Arsenal squad in time for the title run-in will feel like a new signing.


Arsenal Injury Update: Will We See The Return of Ozil And Alexis Against Chelsea?

ozil and wengerHuge London derby this weekend for Arsenal as they entertain Chelsea at the Emirates on Sunday. Here is the latest team news from Arsène Wenger ahead of this clash:

Injury Updates…
Compared to last week we have no big problems from the squad that was available to face Stoke. The good news is that Ozil will certainly be available. For Alexis the next few days will be decisive but I think this time he will make it to be available for selection.

on Alexis…
The doubt is that he has been out for a long time and [there is] the risk of a setback if you try to go too early. To be clear on all the tests is one thing, after he is clear on training is another thing, and after that the intensity of a big game which you can never repeat in a training session. You can make sure after a certain amount of time that the risk is minimal. I am cautious with him because we cannot afford a setback with him. A setback would mean a very long period out so we don’t want to take this gamble. The signs he has shown in training this week are positive.

on Coquelin, Welbeck and Rosicky…
Coquelin is back in full training today and he is ahead of schedule. He has still a few steps to go through. Welbeck will be in full training next week so that is positive news. It is possible Rosicky will play in the under-21 game [on Friday]. He was a bit sick at the beginning of the week but we planned for him to play tomorrow night. We have a few players coming back because we go into a very important period now for us.

Provisional squad: Cech, Ospina, Macey, Monreal, Gibbs, Koscielny, Gabriel, Mertesacker, Bellerin, Debuchy, Chambers, Ramsey, Elneny, Rosicky, Flamini, Ozil, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Reine-Adelaide, Iwobi, Sanchez, Campbell, Walcott, Giroud


Wenger Praises battling Gunners

Arsene-Wenger-pensiveArsene Wenger saluted Arsenal for emerging from another Britannia Stadium battle with a point that lifted them back to the Barclays Premier League summit.

The Gunners arrived at Stoke with just one win in Staffordshire in the Premier League era for another instalment of a rivalry that was spawned by Wenger’s dislike of the Potters’ tactics under Tony Pulis.

Mark Hughes has promoted a more aesthetically pleasing brand of football since succeeding Pulis, yet Wenger felt their hosts still presented a physical challenge that they were forced to overcome in a 0-0 draw.

In a clash that featured few chances and no yellow cards, goalkeepers Jack Butland and Petr Cech took centre stage with brilliant saves from Olivier Giroud and Joselu in either half.

“Overall it was a battle, an old-fashioned Stoke battle,” Wenger said.

“They made the game very physical, the crowd were up for it, the players were up for it. They went for a very direct game and we had to show physical response, solidarity, fighting spirit, togetherness – which is what we did.

“We lacked a bit of creativity to force the way through and on top of that we missed two or three good chances. They were really up for it, they really tried from the first to the last minute.

“We of course wanted to win the game but, looking at the history we have here, it is a positive result. Looking at the results of the other teams that play at the top, it’s a positive result. But, overall we missed two points today.”

Although Butland produced a terrific stop to smother Giroud before the break, the visitors struggled to create too many chances without injured playmaker Mesut Ozil.

The German was watching on television instead because of a foot injury and illness, yet Wenger expects the man leading the Premier League in assists to be back against Chelsea on Sunday.

“Yesterday morning he was not very well,” Wenger revealed. “He already was not 100 per cent at Liverpool so I decided to leave him out. I think he should be back for next Sunday.”

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Wenger: Elneny Can Become ‘Very Strong’ Player For Gunners

Mohamed ElnenyHe is not a household name but Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger says that new signing Mohamed Elneny can develop into a “very strong player” at the club both in attack and defence.

The 23-year-old Egypt international, signed from Swiss side FC Basel for a reported £5m fee, plays predominantly as a defensive midfielder. But speaking ahead of Arsenal’s trip to Stoke City on 17 January, Wenger said Elneny was a promising young player who can contribute to all areas of the field.

“He’s a defensive midfielder who can contribute in an area where we are short. He’s a young promising player who has already adapted to Europe. He has not come straight from Egypt to England,” he said. “He’s played three years in Switzerland and I expect him to develop with us into a very strong player because he has both sides of the game. He can defend and he can attack. And that’s the way we want to play in midfield.”

Adding another defensive midfield player has been a need for the Gunners since the summer. We all worried about what would happen if Francis Coquelin got injured, and he did, and how Arsenal would cope without him.

The addition of Elneny should help ease the load this season as we head into the busy part of the season, plus with Arteta, Rosicky and Flamini all expected to leave this summer, Elneny plugs one of those holes.


Arsenal Team News: Gunners To Save Alexis For Chelsea?

Alexis-AFCArsenal manager Arsene Wenger says Alexis Sanchez has a chance of returning against Stoke City on Sunday, while also hinting that he might keep the striker wrapped in cotton for another week so that he is 100% healthy for the visit of Chelsea on the 24th.

Sanchez has been out injured since 29 November, when he suffered a hamstring injury in the draw at Norwich City.

“Alexis I would say has a 60:40 chance to be available and be back in the squad,” Wenger said today.

“He has two decisive days – Friday and Saturday. He is fit, he has worked very hard and the decision we have to take is whether to take a gamble or not on his injury.”

While the Gunners has won 7 out of the 9 games without Alexis, his return could ease some of the reliance on Mesut Özil, while also allowing Arsenal to move Theo Walcott from his ineffective role on the left. While there is a case to make that Alexis should play on the right on his return, the form of Joel Campbell is too good to justify dropping him at the moment.

Wenger also revealed that new signing Mohamed Elneny will be available to play.

“Elneny is available for selection, I haven’t decided yet [whether I will play him]. I have to see how everyone has recovered. Elneny is a possibility to be in the squad for Sunday.”

Tomas Rosicky is nearing a return to the first team, but needs game time, with Wenger hoping for the Czech to play for the Under-21s, much as Mikel Arteta did last week. Danny Welbeck is only “2-3 weeks away”, but given that he’s been in this position quite a few times before, skepticism on that front remains appropriate.