Walcott: I’ll Play Anywhere For Arsenal

Theo-Walcott-newArsenal star forward Theo Walcott has insisted to the club’s official website that he’ll play anywhere his manager wants him to after again impressing in a central role.

Walcott has for his entire time at Arsenal been played as a winger but in the short instances when he has played as a central forward for the Gunners, he’s done well.

In the final game of last season, Arsene Wenger started Walcott as a striker against West Bromwich Albion at the Emirates. He responded with a sublime hat-trick to cement Arsenal’s place in third.

He then earned himself a starting role in the FA Cup final, once again through the middle, and scored the opening goal during the 4-0 win over Aston Villa.

And during pre-season, he’s been played there and did well again – scoring against Everton in the Asia Trophy final on Saturday.

Now Walcott has admitted that he’s just happy to play wherever he’s asked to, as long as Arsenal benefit from it.

“In modern-day football the three up front tend to change around a lot,” said Walcott, before holding up the national team and Barcelona’s front three – arguably world football’s best attack currently – as examples of how fluid interchanging between attackers makes nominal positions less fixed in the modern game.

“You see it with England and with Barcelona, so we have that sort of trust in each other knowing that everyone can do that sort of role. It’s not a problem at all.

“I like it anywhere. I enjoy playing for this club. It’s well-documented where I want to play, but there’s a lot of competition in that front line. If I’m in a role then I have to do my best there, but it’s another option for the manager. It’s not a bad thought.”

Walcott scored just five goals in the Premier League last season because he struggled to get back from injury. In January 2014, the Englishman tore his knee ligaments but the pacey forward is back and looks as fresh as ever heading into the new term.

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Gunners Make €45m Bid For Benzema

tancrediItalian football journalist Tancredi Palmeri has revealed that Arsenal’s €45-million bid for Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema is true, but the Spanish club are not interested in the deal at the moment.

So illustrate how ludicrous Liverpool’s bid for Christian Benteke was, Benteke’s £32.5m release clause translates into about €47m. Is there a comparison between Benteke and Benzema?

The Gunners have been strongly linked with the prolific French striker and the journalist claims they have made an offer for the 27-year-old forward, who scored 15 goals in La Liga last term.

Benzema’s status at the Bernabeu is growing increasingly unclear as Rafa Benitez appears to prefer either Cristiano Ronaldo or Gareth Bale as the main striker for his Los Blancos side this season.

The question though is whether Benzema is really an upgrade from Giroud? The stats from last season are very similar and considering that is it easier to score in La Liga than the Premier League I don’t see how Benzema is an improvement. Do you?

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Wenger Post Match Reaction

arsene-wenger-afcArsène Wenger  spoke to the media after Arsenal won the Barclays Asia Trophy. Here is a transcript of what he said:

Wenger on the performance…
I’m pleased with the performance because the focus in pre-season is to find the quality of our game back and I think for long periods we played in a very convincing way and the way we want to play – together, with good team play. Everybody shared the same vision on the pitch of the game we want to play. That’s positive.

Wenger on being surprised at Arsenal’s sharpness…
A little bit, because yesterday we had quite a good, strong session and I found the players a little bit tired. They were quite sharp here.

Wenger on the Singapore tour…
I believe first of all that the game tonight was a great advert for the Premier League in Asia. For us it was a perfect trip because we had fantastic conditions, fantastic fans in the hotel every day and overall we came here with 27 players, we had two convincing games with no injury after a week, so that’s fantastic.

Wenger on how the win bodes for the season…
In pre-season you start to build your confidence up and the wins help. [You improve] your fitness, and having these kind of games in the heat helps as well. The quality of the performance provoked a good intensity. For us, it’s a good preparation.

Wenger on if he has plans to discuss Walcott’s contract…
Yes, because he is close to the end of is contract next season.

Wenger on having 27 fully-fit players…
It’s unusual but touch wood I hope it will last. We fly back now and we have the Emirates Cup next week. If we can keep everybody fit, that’s great.

Wenger on the last team winning BAT subsequently winning the league…
If it was as simple as that, everybody would like to play the Asia Trophy every year. I’m long enough in the job to know that it depends on the quality of our performances. But it’s good to increase the level of confidence by performances like that.

Wenger on how much he misses Sir Alex Ferguson…
You know we had some fierce battles but what is worrying for me is that I’m the oldest one now. That’s why I would have loved him to stay in the game.

 

 

 

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Wenger Coy Over Theo Contract

Theo-Walcott-newArsenal manager Arsene Wenger has confirmed he has spoken to Theo Walcott over his contract status, but refused to elaborate on whether the forward is any closer to signing a new deal.

Walcott has a year remaining on his current Arsenal contract, and Wenger said in early May that he would seek to use the player in his preferred striking position if he signed an extension.

The England international — who scored in Arsenal’s 3-1 Barclays Asia Trophy final victory over Everton in Singapore on Saturday — has yet to commit his long-term future to the North London club, but Gunners boss Wenger says he is in talks with Walcott.

“He has one more year left. I have spoken to him about this,” said Wenger following Saturday’s win.

“He is sharp and prepared well. He is like every player — they look fit, close to full fitness. It’s quite amazing how the players are back to a good body shape and a good [level] of fitness because they prepare well.

“Now football has changed – they come back after holidays and they don’t start from zero. They have done their homework and he is one of them.”

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Arsenal win Barclays Asia Trophy

cech-trophyTheo Walcott, Santi Cazorla and Mesut Ozil were on target as Arsenal claimed the Barclays Asia Trophy 2015 trophy with a 3-1 victory over Everton in Singapore.

Although Everton started brightly and came close three times themselves through Arouna Kone, this was a masterful victory by a dominant Arsenal side, who might have doubled their tally before Ross Barkley produced the finish of the night with fine consolation goal.

Both managers Roberto Martinez, of Everton, and Arsene Wenger, of Arsenal, rang the changes from the sides who had triumphed against Stoke City and a Singapore Select XI respectively on Wednesday, with the Merseysiders keeping only three players from the team who had edged out the Potters on penalties, while only Jack Wilshere survived from the
Arsenal line-up which started in the 4-0 victory over the hosts.

Everton started the better of the two sides with summer signing Gerard Deulofeu looking particularly threatening with his pace. In the eighth minute he left Cazorla for dead with a burst of acceleration down the right flank. The Spaniard raced infield, took the ball to the byline and cut it back at the near post for Kone, who was repelled by the recovering Cazorla.

Although they had barely threatened until this point, Arsenal took the lead midway through the first half when Cazorla executed a long, defence-splitting pass from just inside the halfway line into the path of Walcott, who struck a first-time half-volley past advancing goalkeeper Joel Robles.

Buoyed by the goal, and vociferous support from the Arsenal faithful among the 52,107 present at the Singapore National Stadium, Wenger’s charges began to find their stride, putting Everton on the back foot with a sustained period of possession and intricate passing in the final third.

That said, Everton thought they had equalised on 40 minutes when Kone rifled a shot on the rebound in off Gareth Barry after Petr Cech, making his first appearance for Arsenal since his summer move from Chelsea, had reacted superbly to tip Steven Naismith’s header on to the crossbar. Unfortunately for the Toffees, Naismith and Barry had moved fractionally offside as Luke Garbutt sent over his perfectly flighted free-kick into the penalty area.

At the other end Aaron Ramsey attempted to channel Marco van Basten when trying an ambitious volley from the tightest of angles, which flew wide, while Giroud would have been clear and unattended had he only managed to control a sublime disguised pass by Ozil on the stroke of half-time.

Arsenal had dominated the first half and the second continued in a similar vein with Ozil and Cazorla pulling the strings in midfield. Cazorla forced a save from Robles on 52 minutes and Walcott prodded wide moments later when a mix-up in the Everton defence and a wayward shot by Giroud found the England striker with only Robles to beat.

Next it was Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to threaten as the substitute hared down the right wing only for his cross to elude Giroud’s head by inches, while Robles forced a shot from Hector Bellerin over the bar.

Although Cech had to be alert to parry Garbutt’s powerful 20-yard drive, and Kone headed a presentable close-range chance over the bar, most of the action was taking place in the Everton half and it was no surprise when Cazorla doubled his side’s lead on 58 minutes. Following a short corner, the Spain playmaker turned his marker before despatching a low drive past Robles.

Four minutes later two became three as Ozil crowned a wonderful performance by exchanging a quick one-two with Cazorla and finishing emphatically past Robles.

A rampant Arsenal side threatened to make it 4-0 when Oxlade-Chamberlain broke through down the left before sending a cute diagonal chip narrowly wide of the far post but the England midfielder was punished with 15 minutes to go when he ceded possession to Barry. In a flash Barkley was on to the opportunity and laced an unstoppable shot into the top right-hand corner of Cech’s net.

The Blues might even have clawed their way back into the match when Barry met another pinpoint free-kick from Garbutt, only to steer his header straight into the arms of Cech. But Arsenal held on to claim seventh edition of the Barclays Asia Trophy.

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Wenger Going Nowhere Says Gazidis

Arsene-Wenger-SmilingArsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis says he expects Arsene Wenger to remain at Arsenal for years to come.

The Frenchman is entering his 20th season in charge of the north London club, making him the longest-serving manager in the English game by some distance.

Wenger is now closing in on Sir Alex Ferguson, who spent 27 years at Manchester United – and Gazidis says he sees no reason to think the Gunners boss is planning to stand down any time soon.

“He’s been incredibly important for us,” Gazidis told the Straits Times.

“You never know but he’s in great health and he’s doing incredibly well. He’s full of energy and enthusiasm, his hunger is still there, and I’d never put an end-date on it.

“He’s also been a passionate supporter of the club, in a sense a fan of the club. He’s put the club’s progress and development above his own personal interest.

“We believe we have the right man in the club and we’re very pleased that he’s full of health and willing to carry us forward.”

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Koscielny Praises Impact Of Cech

cech-afcLaurent Koscielny says that Arsenal’s back four will be “more serene” thanks to the arrival of Petr Cech from Chelsea.

The French defender will start in front of Cech for the first time in Singapore on Saturday when the former Stamford Bridge keeper makes his debut against Everton in the Final of the Barclays Asia Trophy.

And Koscielny can already tell it’s going to be a profitable partnership as he taps into Cech’s experience.

“Petr has played 11 years in England, and made more than 300 appearances in the Premier League, and has won a lot of trophies.

“He is professional, you felt that in his first training session. He talks a lot, and his position that’s very important.

“He will do well with us and when you have a good keeper like this behind you, you are more serene.”

Koscielny believes his own experience and his partnership with Per Mertesacker will also be vital as Arsenal challenge for the Premier League title this season.

“I have been here six years now, and now I have played more than 200 games. So I have more experience, I know my team mates, I know the club and I feel good with Arsenal.

“When you are confident, that makes you happy and you give yourself for the team and for the club on the pitch.

“With Per we have played together for three years now, and I think it works well. Per is good in the air and when he has the ball in front of him, I can recover behind him, and he has space.

“We have a defence that plays high on the pitch so we need a team who all does the defensive job, and I think we did well on that last year, and we will do it again this season.

“If we play with this pressure all the season we can win a lot of games and not concede too many.”

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Bellerin Signs New Long-Term Deal

Hector-BellerinArsenal defender Hector Bellerin has signed a new long-term deal at the Emirates, the club have confirmed.

The Spaniard played in 20 of the Gunners’ 38 Premier League appearances last term, and has committed his future to the north London outfit.

He made one appearance in his debut 2013-14 season having joined for Barcelona, in the League Cup, before heading to Watford for an eight-game loan spell.

An injury to Mathieu Debuchy last season gave him his chance at right-back, and he impressed with his performances, scoring twice in 28 games in all competitions.

The pacy defender recently insisted he would not ‘do a Fabregas’ and head back to Barcelona. Spain under-21 right back Bellerin said:

“I think that’s a wrong thought because if I wanted to be at Barcelona I would have stayed there. My challenge was to come to England and I came here with everything.

“And I came here to stay and to cement my place in the first team and be here for four more years. If I wanted to have played for Barcelona in the future I would have just stayed there and made my way there.

“I made that decision when I was young to come over here, and I’m not thinking about my future, I’m just thinking about playing for Arsenal and doing well.

“I spoke to Cesc once I got here. He is such a professional guy, at that time he was an Arsenal player, obviously he said all good things about it.

“As a guy he was really happy here. With his help, and the help from the club, we had such a good welcome and they made me feel at home.”

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Arteta Injured Already

mikel-artetaReason 101 why Arsenal need to sign a top defensive midfielder this summer. Mikel Arteta is injured again.

The Arsebal captain is currently hobbled ith a calf problem despite being on Arsenal’s pre-season tour, according to the Daily Mail.

The Spaniard had to have surgery on a problematic ankle injury back in the winter, after suffering with the issue earlier in the last campaign.

Arteta managed just seven league appearances last season and did not play a league game after the 2-1 loss to Manchester United in November, missing a total of 25 top flight matches in a row thereafter.
Mikel Arteta: Petr Cech signing shows how ambitious Arsenal are

The central midfielder, however, was rewarded with a new one-year contract after seeing his previous one run down, but the Mail reports a calf problem is causing him some issues through the summer.

The Mail does indicate that Arteta took part in some training drills with the club on their pre-season tour in Singapore – the Gunners beat Singapore Select XI 4-0 on Wednesday – but, he is unable to participate in matches just yet.

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Wilshere: Arsenal Are Good Enough To Win Title Next Season

Jack-Wilshere-FACup

JackWilshereArsenal finished last season 12 points behind the Premier League champions last term, but the signing of goalkeeper Petr Cech from their London rivals has Arsenal fans and players thinking that gap will be a lot smaller this year.

Jack Wilshere believes that Arsenal now boast a squad good enough to end their 12-title drought and overhaul the dominant Blues.

He said: “Competition is a good thing. Look at the teams who have won the league in the past and look at Chelsea last year.

“They had a great squad and we feel we’ve got a squad to match them now.

“The Premier League is a tough, tough league. Add to that the FA Cup, League Cup and international breaks and players will pick up injuries, so it’s important to have players who can come in.

“I think [it’s important to start well] and without the European qualifier this year, which is almost a season definer, it gives us more time to prepare for the first game of the Premier League and concentrate on a good start.

“We know come February and March we’re always strong, so if we’re in a good position up to then we will be alright.”

One worry to Arsenal fans is that all their title rivals are once again outspending them this summer, but that doesn’t worry Wilshere who added:

“I don’t think it’s a worry what the other teams are spending. Everyone trusts the boss here and if the right player comes up and fits into our team and squad, the boss will go out and buy him.”

Wilshere finished another injury-ravaged season with a bang by scoring twice for England in Slovakia last month.

And he was on the mark again yesterday after scoring a penalty in Arsenal’s 4-0 win over a Singapore XI in the Barclays Asia Trophy.

Rookie striker Chuba Akpom weighed in with a hat-trick but it was Wilshere who caught the eye.

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger said:

“He always had appetite Jack, but he was out for a long time.

“Already in the last two or three games of last season he found his burst back with acceleration. That’s a big part of his game. To be very efficient he needs that and that demands to be physically perfect. He’s getting close now.”

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