Wenger Post Match Reaction: Referee Got It Wrong On Ramsey Goal

Wenger-New4-AFCArsenal manager Arsene Wenger left frustrated by Michael Oliver’s decision to disallow Aaron Ramsey’s early goal during the goalless draw against Liverpool on Monday (24 August).

The French boss admits Brendan Rodgers’ side dominated the first-half but believes that the goal of the midfielder earlier during match could have changed the whole game.

“Yes (It was not offside). I cannot say the opposite. It was a regular goal. It was a period of the game where we maybe had the most problems defensively but it’s a regular goal. I can’t see why it was cancelled. It’s clear and on that front. You cannot say that Liverpool can complain,” the manager said after the game.

“I didn’t ask (Oliver) for any explanation. What does it change? It’s about decision-making and he got it wrong. I could see live that he could not be offside. He started his run behind his man. I could see it from where I was but I thought maybe the angle on TV was different. It was not and I must say that Liverpool played well in the first half. We were insecure defensively and we gave them many balls. We created trouble for ourselves but even in the first half we had chances.”

Wenger was forced to deploy Calum Chambers and Gabriel Paulista in the hearth of his back-line after Per Mertesacker was ruled out with illness and Laurent Koscielny with a back injury.

The former Southampton defender made some mistakes in the first-half of the game but managed to overcome the situation in the second.

The manager admitted he was tempted to replaced the young defender at half-time but hails his response in the second half of the game to help his side secure a clean sheet.

“He (Chambers) responded well. It was important for him. You sit there and you wonder how far he can go without losing competitive confidence. In the second half he did well. He’s a good footballer and he will come out of that stronger, with the belief that when he had difficult moments he can come out of it stronger,” he said.

“You’re always tempted. I wondered whether I needed offensive players on the pitch. I knew that the most important thing for us was to get to half-time at 0-0. We knew the second half would be different.”

Meanwhile, Wenger admits the Gunners once again lacked clinical up front after his side failed to score in five of their last six Premier League home games, including the defeat against West Ham in the first game of the campaign.

“That will not last. It’s a fact, I agree but I believe that we know we can score goals and that will come back,” he said.

“The sharpness is missing a little bit in some players. I would like to give credit to Liverpool as well. They defended well, they were quick to close us down and we had problems getting out of position. With the domination we had in the second half, as long as you don’t score the first goal, the team doesn’t come out. We had the chances but we are still missing a little bit of a spontaneous attitude to finish what we start well.”

“We have started very averagely, I must concede, because we have four points after two home games. Maybe we won the most difficult game away from home. At home at the moment we haven’t scored.”

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Arsenal Still Winless At Home This Season

cech-saves-afcArsenal and Liverpool had to settle for a point each after a richly entertaining game of two halves beneath the Emirates Stadium drizzle implausibly finished 0-0 on Monday. With Arsenal centre-backs Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny absent – the former ill, the latter laid low by a back problem – Liverpool dominated the first half, hitting the woodwork twice and seeing Petr Cech produce an astonishing save to deny Christian Benteke.

The hosts took control in the second half, Alexis Sanchez striking the post, but Liverpool held firm for a result that left them two points below leaders Manchester City – the only team in the English Premier League to have won their first three games – and three points above Arsenal. A goalless draw seemed an improbable outcome for much of the match, such was the sheer number of chances, but having seen his side beaten 2-0 by West Ham United in their first home game, it was Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger who would have been the most relieved to avoid defeat.

The evening’s first bombshell landed when Arsenal’s starting line-up was announced, revealing that Mertesacker and Koscielny would both miss a league game for the first time since a 2-1 loss at home to Wigan Athletic in April 2012. Their deputies, Calum Chambers and Gabriel, had never previously played together at centre-back and Liverpool lost little time attacking them.

Inside the first three minutes, Benteke shot wide from Emre Can’s pass and then teed up Philippe Coutinho for a shot that thudded against the crossbar. But Liverpool exhibited defensive frailties of their own and after Sanchez had headed over, Aaron Ramsey scored from a sensational Santi Cazorla pass, only to be denied by an offside flag.

It was then Cech’s turn to dig his team out, the Czech goalkeeper producing an extraordinary stop to prevent Benteke from poking in Roberto Firmino’s low cross at point-blank range and then brilliantly tipping a shot from Coutinho onto the post after the Brazilian had embarrassed Hector Bellerin. Arsenal belatedly settled in the second half, occupying the full width of the pitch when in possession and making deeper inroads in the Liverpool third.

Olivier Giroud volleyed wide, before a slick combination involving Mesut Ozil, Cazorla and Giroud culminated in Sanchez bursting onto a lay-off from the Frenchman and slamming a shot against the post. In search of an extra out ball, Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers sent the pacy Jordon Ibe on for Firmino, but Arsenal continued to press, with visiting goalkeeper Simon Mignolet forced to claw away a close-range shot from Giroud and field a curler from Ramsey.

Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain joined the fray for Arsenal in the closing stages and the latter almost crafted a breakthrough, first with a low cross that Liverpool defender Martin Skrtel prodded a foot wide of the post and then with a skidding drive that Mignolet had to parry.


Wenger: Alexis Is As Good As Suarez

alexis-sanchez-afcArsene Wenger believes that Alexis Sanchez is on the same level as Barcelona superstar Luis Suarez.

The Chile international enjoyed a superb debut campaign at the Emirates, scoring 25 goals and providing 12 assists in all competitions following his £35 million move from Barcelona.

Wenger believes that Alexis is one of the finest players in world football, and has compared his ability to that of Suarez, who played a key role in Barca’s historic treble-winning 2015-16 campaign.

“Sanchez and Suarez are at the same level. Suarez is a central striker and Sanchez is more a wide player who likes to go up and down and is involved in dribbling, but they have similarities,” he told reporters.

“Sanchez has that desire to go forward and provoke, he is a guy who provokes chaos in the defences because he has a go at them. He does not go across, he goes straight. His desire to go forward, to provoke opponents, to run at people, creates danger.

“And he plays to win in every single game. I have had players like that before, players who want to win so much, but he has the style as well.

“What Sanchez has is that, in the first two yards, he is lightning quick. He has that explosive attitude linked with his spirit and that makes him even more spectacular.”

Arsenal are currently preparing to face Liverpool on Monday, and Wenger admits that he expected Alexis to move to Anfield when the club sold Suarez to Barca, while he believes that the Chilean is constantly improving.

“At the start, when I saw Suarez went to Barcelona, I thought that is the obvious deal, one going one way and the other, the other way,” he added.

“So I had not much hope. But I met Sanchez’s agent in Brazil at the World Cup, I had a few meetings with them, and I could see [there was an interest in Arsenal].

“He is already better than he was when he arrived. In his final finishing there is room for improvement, in his final ball he is already much better, his vision is quite good and incisive.

“I was surprised that he came on the market.

“Sometimes there are so many big players in the other big, big clubs who are good but do not play.

“So after a year or two of them not playing, you can get a good deal. Sanchez is a case. Pedro is another case. Arjen Robben is another – he was at Real Madrid, let’s not forget.”

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Wilshere Out Until After International Break

Jack-Wilshere-FACupArsene Wenger has confirmed Jack Wilshere will miss England’s forthcoming Euro 2016 qualifiers as he is still recovering from a fractured fibula.

“[Playing before the international break] is a bit too optimistic, it’s too early to think he would be playing for England. After the international break he has a chance, but before the international break he has no chance” said the Arsenal boss.

Arsenal’s first match after the international break is Stoke at home on 1 September. That is followed by the first Champions League match of the season and then Chelsea away the following weekend.

While it will be great to see Jack back in action, when everyone is fully fit, does Wilshere get into Arsenal’s starting XI?

I am not sure he does. Santi Cazorla, Aaron Ramsey and Mesut Özil are all ahead of him at the moment in my opinion.

While the return of Wilshere makes the overall Arsenal squad stronger, I am not sure it changes Arsenal’s starting XI.

Thoughts? Do you agree or disagree that Wilshere is more of a squad player these days rather than a first team regular?


Arsenal v Liverpool: Team News And Possible Line-Up

santii-carzola-afcArsène Wenger has revealed the latest team news ahead of Monday night’s game against Liverpool at Emirates Stadium.

“From the Palace game we have no injuries and we have still Wilshere, Welbeck and Rosicky to come back. And we have no suspensions. So we should have a similar squad for the Liverpool game.

“Rosicky is progressing nicely but he is far away. Wilshere should be the first back from those players, he is making good progress.”

So can we expect any changes from the team that started against Palace?

We know that Cech will be in goal and that the back four will be Nacho Monreal on the left and Hector Bellerin on the right with Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker at the center of the defence.

Despite playing at home, I expect Wenger to start with two holding midfield players, which will be Santi Cazorla and Francis Coquelin.

That leaves an attacking three in front of them, and I expect that to be Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey. I would love to see Wenger find room for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, put I cannot see who he would replace in the line-up.

Up-front I expect Wenger to continue with Olivier Giroud, which would mean that Theo Walcott will once again start on bench,

Who do you think will start against Liverpool?


Benzema Heading To Arsenal

benzema2I keep hearing whispers that Real Madrid have accepted Arsenal’s offer of £44.8m (€64m) for striker Karim Benzema. The French striker has reportedly agreed to a five year contract with Arsenal worth £152,000 a week, which will make him the highest paid player in Arsenal history.

Benzema will be given the vacant No.9 shirt.

This is a story that has been floating around all summer. I wrote about it in July and then earlier this month.

Benzema’s place in the first team in Madrid 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.

Why are Real Madrid interested in selling one their of their vaunted BBC strike force? In the last couple of seasons Real have had to sell to fund the purchases of new players and they just spent €35m on Inter Milan midfielder Mateo Kovačić this week.

So they need to recoup some funds, especially if they are to also buy Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea this month. Selling Benzema would allow them to do that.

What do you think of Benzema? Is he the difference between winning the title and finishing second or third this season?


Wenger And Ramsey Hail Olivier Giroud Goal

ox-giroudArsenal manager Arsene Wenger and midfielder Aaron Ramsey have heaped praise on striker Olivier Giroud after his stunning goal provided a foundation for Sunday’s 2-1 Premier League win at Crystal Palace.

Giroud scored Arsenal’s first goal of the season as he produced an acrobatic finish to hand the Gunners the lead, before a Damien Delaney own goal put the game beyond Palace after Joel Ward had levelled.

Arsenal legend Thierry Henry said the club will not win the Premier League title with Giroud as their lead forward, but Wenger has insisted he is content with his striking options after they bounced back from an opening weekend defeat against West Ham to secure a first win of the campaign.

“He needed that [goal],” Wenger told the club’s official website. “We have good strikers. [Theo] Walcott was not used today and he’s an exceptional striker, [Danny] Welbeck is coming back, we have Alexis [Sanchez].

“We have a strong striking force. What is important is that we show the team performance we have shown [against Palace].”

Ramsey also hailed Giroud’s efforts, as he hailed the contributions of Germany midfielder Mesut Ozil in the build-up to the 16th-minute strike.

“It was a great goal and a great ball from Mesut,” he said. “It was good build-up play, it’s not an easy ball to control and put into the back of the net. Oli managed to do that. I’m just happy for the team, for Olivier to get his goal and to get the win.”


Rosicky Out For At Least Two Months

thomas-rosickyArsenal midfielder Tomas Rosicky is set to be out for eight weeks after undergoing knee surgery for an injury he picked up playing for his country against Iceland back in June. Why it took the Arsenal medical team three months to decide on surgery is mystery.

His agent, Pavel Paska, confirmed the news on Czeck radio saying:

“Tomas last Tuesday passed arthroscopic knee surgery. The recovery period is estimated at four to eight weeks,” Paska told iDNES.cz.

Arsene Wenger seemed to think that was an overly optimistic timeframe saying:

“His agent said he will be out for one or two months, but it will be longer. How long exactly, we don’t know yet.”

With an October estimated return date, it will be interesting to see if the Gunners keep a place on their Champions League roster open for Rosicky?


Arsenal v Crystal Palace Team News

Alexis-AFCArsène Wenger has revealed the latest team news ahead of Sunday’s Premier League game against Crystal Palace:

on the team news…
Hector Bellerin is back and is available for Sunday. Danny Welbeck is making good progress, but is still not available.

on Jack Wilshere…
We said Jack would be out for four weeks, and he’s in the second week now so he’s on schedule.

on Tomas Rosicky…
Tomas has had surgery on his knee. His agent said he will be out for one or two months, but it will be longer. How long exactly, we don’t know yet.

on Alexis…
Alexis Sanchez is fit, he’s been working hard and is ready for the weekend.

Is anyone else a little worried about how Wenger is using Alexis already? I thought he was getting the first couple of games off to recover from the Copa America’s, but as soon as the Gunners went 1-0 down against West Ham, Wenger was throwing him on. I am just concerned that he will break down sometime during the summer as Ramsey did a couple of years ago.


Cech Takes To Twitter To Apologize To Arsenal Fans

cech-twitterHaving spent £10million to recruit Cech from Chelsea this summer, there was a belief that Arsenal could again challenge for the title because defensive lapses would no longer be a serious problem.

However, the Czech goalkeeper looked unconvincing for both Cheikhou Kouyate’s and Mauro Zarate’s finishes, and his arrival at the Gunners appears to have corrected little so far.

Cech later posted a message on Twitter, aiming to put the poor result swiftly behind him.

He wrote: “First game like this was not in the script – Mistake and no points but tomorrow is another day to get ready for the next game ! #COYG “.