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Transfer balls: Arsenal save £59m on Thomas Lemar

Arsenal have signed Spanish defender Pablo Mari for £7.5m from Brazilian club Flamengo. And now news is that they’ll follow that with the recruitment of nippy French winger Thomas Lemar. You may recall how on August 31 2017, Arsenal bid £92m for Lemar, then at Monaco. He never came.

Thomas Lemar Arsenal
Daily Express scoop!

But undaunted, the following month the Sun announced, the Gunners “are confident Thomas Lemar will arrive at the Emirates in a £92million move from Monaco in January”. That confidence was misplaced. He didn’t go anywhere. But Lemar did move the following summer, heading to Atletico Madrid for €60 million.

lemar Arsenal

And now news in the Mirror is that he’s going to join the Gunners for £33m – a mere £52m less than Arsenal agreed to sign him for in 2017.

Or not:

Lemar arsenal

Or yes:

Lemar Arsenal

Such are the facts.

Posted: 25th, January 2020 | In: Arsenal, Sports | Comment


Media bias: Arsenal deflected glory, Pepe falls over and Sheffield United ‘fire’ home

Arsenal v Sheffield United in the Premier League. The game ends 1-1 and the clubs’ respective websites compile their match reports. Compare and contrast:

The Sheffield United Equaliser

Sheffield United website:

With 14 minutes remaining, Besic replaced Basham, United’s final change. And those positive switches reaped their rewards shortly afterwards, as FLECK fired home at the back post, after Sharp had fought hard to keep Robinson’s deep cross alive, a goal which sent the away end into bedlam.

Arsenal website:

Oli McBurnie had a clear chance with 10 minutes remaining when he climbed highest from a corner, but planted his header straight at Bernd Leno – but moments later John Fleck equalised with a shot that took a deflection on its way in.

The Guardian:

John Fleck’s superbly taken equaliser, lashed in seven minutes from time

Sky:

However, they were back on level terms three minutes later as Sharp flicked a Callum Robinson cross into the path of Fleck, whose shot skipped off the turf and flashed into the corner of Leno’s net to secure a deserved point.

Sheffield Star:

and it’s John Fleck who gets it, smashing high into the top corner of Leno’s goal via the turf – a superb finsih [sic]

BBC:

Fleck hit a deflected shot into the far corner

The Penalty Shout

Arsenal:

We soon had a penalty shout as Pepe looked to have been taken down in the box, but after the referee waved play on and a VAR check, nothing was given as the tension rose further.

Sheffield United:

When Arsenal broke at pace through Pepe there were some concern for the Blades as VAR checked a potential penalty but replays clearly showed there was no connection from O’Connell’s challenge.

Make your own minds up:

Such are the facts.

Posted: 18th, January 2020 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Transfer Balls: Edinson Cavani agree Atletico and Inter Milan deals but wants Manchester City amid Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Spurs and Manchester United interest

cavani

Manchester United and Spurs fans excited by news that injury-prone, 33-year-old Edinson Cavani is thinking go leaving Paris St Germain before his contract runs out in the summer can know that he’s already signed for any number of clubs over the past few seasons. According to media, the striker has agreed to join or has been linked with the following:

Atletico Madrid – Cavani agree three-year deal – Daily Mail, December 2019 (also Daily Star, 90 Minutes)

Inter Milan – Cavani agrees three-year-deal – Sports Mole, August 2019

Chelsea – “Edinson Cavani to Chelsea latest” – Football London, January 19, 2020

Arsenal & Manchester United – “Arsenal and Man Utd submit offers to sign Edinson Cavani” – The Metro, January 2020

Barcelona – “Barcelona are looking at the free agent market with PSG’s Edinson Cavani joining Chelsea, Manchester City and Tottenham players on their transfer radar” – Daily Express, December 2019

Juventus – “GLASS OF CAVA Cavani lined up for stunning Juventus free” – The Sun, October 2019

Manchester City – “PSG star Edinson Cavani wants to join Manchester City” – Daily Mail, October 2017

Manchester United, Juventus, Real Madrid – “Edinson Cavani may join Manchester United, Juventus or Real Madrid as PSG give up on him” – Daily Mail, February 2016

Such are the facts…

Posted: 17th, January 2020 | In: Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City, manchester united, Sports, Spurs, Tabloids | Comment


Arsenal sign Layvin Kurzawa – a player used to losing big games

Arsenal are well on their way to signing PSG left-back Layvin Kurzawa for £6m. The Frenchman is a free agent in the summer, but Arsenal need players now so he’s on his way. But what are they getting? Well, he’s a player suited to the Gunners – because he’s well-versed in losing from winning positions. He scored an own goal in 2017 when Barcelona overturned a 4-0 defeat at PSG to progress in the Champions League with a 6-1 home win. (Paris St-Germain manager at the time was Unai Emery, whose next job was at Arsenal.)

And in 2015, Kurzawa was in another knock-out contest: UEFA’s U-21 Championship qualifying playoff against Sweden. In the second leg, Kurzawa scored in the 87th minute to tie the scores 3-3. With France ahead on the away goal, Kurzawa spent a few moments taking the mick, saluting a load of Sweden players as he celebrated. A few minutes later, Sweden scored the winner. Cue mockey:

Posted: 16th, January 2020 | In: Arsenal, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Xhaka to Hertha Berlin

Having brought you the news that Arsenal have recruited the cheap and untested Mikel Arteta to be their next manager, more news from the Emirates project is that midfielder Mesut Ozil, 31, is set to join Turkish side Fenerbahce on a six-month loan deal next month. So says the BBC, which fails to say how the Turkish side will be paying his absurd £350,000-a-week wages.

The source for this news is Turkish website Fotomac, a busy website with more pop-ups that a Hoxton adolescent. The site contains not a single fact to support the BBC’s claim.

The better news for Gooners is that Granit Xhaka is leaving the club. The Telegraph tells us that Hertha Berlin like the look of Xhaka. Stripped of the captaincy in November after telling Arsenal fans to “fuck off”, the toxic Swiss is finally leaving the club – hopefully. The Mirror says Xhaka to Berlin is on because “Jurgen Klinsmann wants to sign a defensive midfielder” – which Xhaka distinctly is not. But Berlin have a reported £34m for the player. And Arsenal are ready to bite their hand off at the shoulder.

Players arriving at Arsenal? None named yet. But if Mustafi can be booted out after Xhaka, fans won’t much mind.

Posted: 20th, December 2019 | In: Arsenal, Sports | Comment


Arsenal balls: Arteta is the new manager

Unai who? All good things come to he who waits. Mikel Arteta is to be the new Arsenal manager. The Spaniard has reportedly signed for three-and-a-half years.

Arteta has never managed a club before. He steps into Arsenal at a time when the players are possessed with all the composure of a wet puppy in a ball pit.

Arteta wears the mien of a man wondering where if his parking voucher is about to run out. Has any Arsenal fan ever heard him speak? He’s possessed with all the personality profile of a flattened spoon. But cometh the hour, Arteta will rise to the challenge – and, boy, is it a huge one.

Posted: 18th, December 2019 | In: Arsenal, Sports | Comment


Arsenal smack down Ozil on China; Kroenke holidays in Rwanda

Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil says China’s treatment of Uighur Muslims is abhorrent. It is. He says the Uighurs are “warriors who resist persecution”. He then added on the Chinese microblog Weibo, where he has over 4m followers: “[In China] Qurans are burned, mosques were closed down, Islamic theological schools, madrasas were banned, religious scholars were killed one by one. Despite all this, Muslims stay quiet.”

So upset was China that the state broadcaster CCTV banned the broadcast of Arsenal’s Premier League game against Manchester City. (To anyone watching in China, Arsenal won 4-1 and were magnificent.)

“China’s Communist Party propaganda outlets can censor Mesut Özil and Arsenal’s game all season long, but the truth will prevail,” says US secretary of state Mike Pompeo. “The CCP can’t hide its gross human rights violations perpetrated against Uighurs and other religious faiths from the world.”

The United Nations says as many as 2m Uighur Muslims have been locked up in Xinjiang. Beijing calls it an antiterrorism campaign. Detaining that many people sounds like something far more sinister.

China’s Foreign Ministry says Özil “had been completely deceived by fake news and false statements”. Fans in China have been burning Arsenal shirts.

Arsenal backed their man to the hilt. Er, no. They caved, commenting on Chinese social media: “The content he expressed is entirely Özil’s personal opinion.” The club that’s now the London office of Kroenke inc, then guffed: “Arsenal has always adhered to the principle of not involving itself in politics.” Good-oh. Josh Kroenke can read up on how to look the other way when he’s taking his holidays in Rwanda.

Here’s what Human Rights Watch has to say about the country Arsenal advertise on their shirts:

Tight restrictions on freedom of speech and political space remain in place, contrasting with solid results on economic development. Amendments to the constitution allowing President Paul Kagame to stand for a third term were approved in a referendum in December 2015. Kagame announced he would run for a third term. The government continues to limit the ability of opposition parties and civil society groups to function freely and independently in advance of the August 2017 presidential elections. Pro-government views dominate domestic media. Journalists who dare to question the official narrative are harassed or arrested. The authorities detained people unlawfully in unofficial detention centers; some were held incommunicado and tortured.

If you’re not going to back Ozil and say that importing British football means importing British values, then best to say nothing. Arsenal stuffed up – again.

Posted: 17th, December 2019 | In: Arsenal, News, Sports | Comment


Arsenal: Kroenke empty-chaired at Arteta interview

Arsenal remain utterly clueless in their hunt for a new manager. Having erred with Unai Emery, who lasted just 18 months, the hapless, greedy Gunners ownership are eyeing Manchester City assistant manager Mikel Arteta.

Uncertain as to what the job involves, Team Kroenke will put Arteta through a “lengthy interview process” (Sunday Telegraph), or what the Mirror terms “an Apprentice style interview”, presumably with Josh Kroneke and Edu sat either side of an empty chair. Owner Stan Kroenke is notable only by his absence.

Back in 1996, Arsenal knew they wanted Arsene Wenger and were prepared to wait for him. Bruce Rioch was sacked and the club wallowed and bid their time.

Can Arteta be the man to make it right again? Don’t bank on it. Back then Arsenal had David Dein as vice-chairman, a die-hard Arsenal fan who spotted Wenger’s potential and wooed him, buying Patrick Vieira on the new man’s nod before Wenger was even in place. Dein and Wenger worked in harmony.

Now they have Josh Kroenke running the show, the son of a man who see Arsenal as the London branch of his empire.

Posted: 8th, December 2019 | In: Arsenal, Sports | Comment


Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers checks his DNA

No chance, then, that Brendan Rodgers will leave Leicester City, a team vying for the title and a Champions League place mid-stream. “I’ll give my life to make the supporters proud of their club,” Rodgers said when he joined Leicester having left Celtic half-way through a season with another domestic trouble on the cards.

The trick for Rodgers, for whom Arsenal is cooed as his “dream club”, is to make Leicester believe his departure is inevitable, the dancing of a talented and ambitious man. The Leicester owners are unsentimental, as the dismissal of title winner Claudio Ranieri proves. They might respect a man who wants to go on to bigger things, having served his time at Watford, Reading and Swansea City before be came within a Steven Gerrard slip of winning the title with Liverpool.

For now, of course, Arsenal are being coached by Freddie Ljungberg, who says he’ll accept Arsene Wenger’s offer of a chat before the Gunners play Brighton. They might discuss Josh Kroenke, the owner’s son sent to Big Co’s provincial London outposts to protect the brand. Kroenke pressed flesh at the club’s training ground last week, barfing out Ljungberg having “Arsenal DNA”. If having Arsenal hard-wired into your genetic code is the recipe for an Arsenal boss, then Kroenke fails his own test. A peek into any Kroenke blood sample would most likely the codes for bank accounts.

Does Rodgers have Arsenal DNA? Did Unai Emery? Maybe examining their stools can tell Josh more about what the future holds for his project. Because right now, he look clueless.

Posted: 4th, December 2019 | In: Arsenal, News, Sports | Comment


Arsenal to sack Emery, hire Brendan Rodgers, consult Mourinho and have bottled water with Allegri

That Unai Emery is floundering at Arsenal is clear. the club is full of good players and there is genuine competition for places. Edu’s return to the club as technical director bodes well. Freddie Ljungberg’s promotion to the head coach’s number 2 can only help the exciting young players he coached so well at junior levels adapt and thrive in the first team squad. But Emery is clueless. He has to go.

The Sun says Brendan Rodgers is the man to replace the hapless Spaniard. Why a man the Gunners could have hired from Celtic before Leicester City did is right for them now and not then is apparently because a dozen games into the Premier League season, Rodgers has become “one of the world’s most in-demand managers”. Can the Sun really see Rodgers managing Real Madrid, Bayern Munich or Juventus?

More tosh about who will replace Emery in the Mirror, which spots his scheduled trip to the UEFA Elite Club Coaches Forum and seduces readers with a story about Emery and Mourinho “meeting”. They’re not. But they might be in the same room. Others in the same room include:

Jürgen Klopp (Liverpool FC), Maurizio Sarri (Juventus Football Club), Zinédine Zidane (Real Madrid CF), Pep Guardiola (Manchester City FC), Carlo Ancelotti (SSC Napoli), Thomas Tuchel (Paris Saint Germain), Erik ten Hag (AFC Ajax), Unai Emery (Arsenal FC), Sérgio Conceição (FC Porto), Ole Gunnar Solskjær (Manchester United FC), Paulo Fonseca (AS Roma), Rudi Garcia (Olympique Lyonnais), José Mourinho, Massimiliano Allegri and Mircea Lucescu.

Look out for Arsenal meet with Massimiliano Allegri headlines soon. Well, had be better than Emery, wouldn’t he…

Posted: 8th, November 2019 | In: Arsenal, Sports | Comment


Arsenal balls: Granit Xhaka puts himself up for sale

Granit Xhaka, the Arsenal captain who swore at the club’s fans as he walked off the field last weekend, has issued an explainer via social media. It might be an apology. But there’s a lot of sympathetic backstory building in Xhaka’s open letter and not a lot of mention of his manager Unai Emery and the fans’ right to voice their disapproval. He says that telling fans to “F*** off” might be misinterpreted. He’s sorry if you “thought” the captain’s swearing to Arsenal fans was in any way disrespectful or wrong. That was not his “intention”.

He’s only human. Nasty words can get to you. But Xhaka is the Arsenal captain. A simple “sorry” would have been better. In dividing supporters between good fans and bad fans, Xhaka’s not making any friends. It looks a lot like Xhaka will be leaving the club very soon:

Granit Xhaka

No player should leave a club under a cloud. Xhaka tries his best. But he’s not in the squad for Arsenal’s next match. “Xhaka’s issues last week is one issue that needs time to recover the normality with him and with us,” says Emery. But surely the player’s days at the club are drawing to a close…

Posted: 1st, November 2019 | In: Arsenal, Sports | Comment


Who is the Arsenal fan at the Emirates in the dressing gown?

As Arsenal captain Granit Xhaka told the club’s fans to “f*** off” and Unai Emery flailed and faffed to no visible effect in the team’s 2-2 draw with an enthusiastic but limited and lucky Crystal Palace, a Gooner in the stands stood up. And, boy, what a site to behold he was.

Arsenal dressing gown
Arsenal dressing gown
Arsenal dressing gown
Arsenal dressing gown

Spotter: @AndyHa

Posted: 30th, October 2019 | In: Arsenal, News, Sports | Comment


Arsenal: Emery loses the fans and the dressing room

Unai emery twitter

Never the most monocular fans, nonetheless many Arsenal supporters have seen enough of Unai Emery to reach the conclusion that he’s clueless. Yesterday’s 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace, in which the Gunners surrendered a two goal lead, was further evidence that under Emery’s coaching Arsenal have regressed. The chaotic defending. The inability to retain the ball. Again again a highly talented group of Arsenal players gave it away. It’s like Arsene Wenger’s revolution never happened.

And now there are signs Emery is losing the dressing room. His decision to substitute the plodding Granit Xhaka soon after Palace had equalised left his captain exposed. Not only did Emery duck the matter of actually picking a captain, leaving it to the players to select the Swiss midfielder by ballot, but his move to bring him off looked like finger pointing.

Xhaka’s reaction was lamentable. He didn’t race off the pitch, keen for his side to crack on and try to win the game. No urgency. He just strolled. For a player not highly rated by the fans, this was belligerent, irritating, disrespectful and foolish.

As the fans cheered Xhaka’s removal from the match and encouraged his replacement, the spry Bukayo Saka, the captain took off his shirt, sarcastically cupped his ear and told the people who pay good money to watch him captain their team “fuck off”. Emery said “he was wrong”. In being so exposed, Xhaka may have a few choice words for his hapless manager.

Posted: 28th, October 2019 | In: Arsenal, Sports | Comment


Arsenal balls: captain Xhaka talks “bullshit”

Granit Xhaka says it’s all “bullshit”. Not his inability to go 90 minutes without bing yellow carded or that story about him losing the house keys. What the Arsenal captain calls “bullshit” is the opinion that the Gunners are pampered, soft and wetter than Robbie Fowler’s hair gel. Unai Emery’s lacklustre side lost 1-0 to Sheffield United last night. And they were poor.

Arsenal might have been awarded two penalties – one for a clear tug on Sokratis’ top; another for a blatant push of Saka which resulted in the Arsenal winger being booked for diving. Oh, for VAR:

But penalties are not glorious goals from open play. The Gunners barely had a shot on target. Sheffield scored a goal from a corner. And so the visitors lost lost their fifth match in the last 10 Premier League away games. Sat in the soft seats by an illuminated coffee table, former Manchester United left-back Patrice Evra told Sky Sports that the Arsenal side were “babies”.

Xhaka showed some rare vigour and speed of movement, seizing on the to-deadline comment: “We have to stop about mental bullshit like this… A lot of people they speak too much. It is not the first time he has spoken something about us. I have a lot of respect for him as he was a great player but you have to be careful what you say. But it is not only him – a lot of people speak a lot of bullshit about us. It’s always the same… every week they speak bullshit like this every week.”

And having harped on about a crass comment from an ex-pro who never did much like Arsenal, Xhaka opined: “I tell you the honest truth, I’m not interested in what people say and speak.” No comment is still a comment, mate.

Posted: 22nd, October 2019 | In: Arsenal, Sports | Comment


Media balls: Arsenal ‘controversy’ upsets Aston Villa

It was pulsating stuff at the Emirates when Arsenal met a lively Aston Villa in the Premier League. The Gunners, who fluctuated between catatonic, dire, chaotic and scintillating, saw a man sent off and fought back from 2-1 down to win 3-2. Arsenal’s first goal came from the penalty spot. Björn Engels took Matteo Guendouzi out as the Frenchman dribble into the Villa box. It was , says the BBC, a “sloppy tackle”. The Indy and Times say Guendouzi was “tripped”. It was a blatant foul.

Or as the Birmingham Mail puts it:

Arsenal, though, battled back, winning somewhat of a controversial penalty as Jon Moss adjudged Engels to have brought down Matteo Guendouzi, the Frenchman going down so softly before £72million winger Pepe dusted himself down to fire the spot-kick straight down the middle.

Controversial? Only if you’re monocular Villa fan looking for solace in a biased read.

Posted: 22nd, September 2019 | In: Arsenal, Sports | Comment


Alexis Sanchez has ‘no regrets’ at leaving Arsenal for £500,000-a-week at Manchester United

Funnily enough, Alexis Sanchez has not regrets about leaving Arsenal – wages: £100,000-a-week – for Manchester United – wages: £500,000-a-week.

“I’m very happy I went to Manchester United,” Sanchez tells the BBC as he moved to Inter Milan on loan. “I’ve always said that. It’s the club that’s won the most in England. When I went to Arsenal it was fantastic – I was happy there – but United were growing at the time, they were buying players to win something. I wanted to join them and win everything. I don’t regret going there.”

Sanchez went for the money. And who can blame him for that? The wage is gargantuan. Sanchez scored 80 goals in 166 matches for Arsenal; he scored 5 in 45 for United – 2 goals in 27 matches last season. Never let them tell you that money doesn’t change people. In 2017, Sanchez was a nominee for the Professional Footballers’ Association Players’ Players of the Year award. In 2018, he was spending time with his private jet. And that piano:

It’s easy to label Sanchez a flop. He wasn’t. He won big. The failure lies with the decision makers who thought him worth the money.

Posted: 3rd, September 2019 | In: Arsenal, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Arsenal boast youngest top-6 squad as Mkhitaryan leaves for Roma

More good news for Arsenal fans. Roma have signed the painfully ineffectual Henrikh Mkhitaryan on a season-long loan deal. The Italian club will pay all of the 30-year-old’s £200,00-a-week wages plus a loan fee, thought to be £5m.

Mkhitaryan promised much when he joined Arsenal from Manchester United in January 2018 in an odd transfer that involved Alexis Sanchez moving the other way.

His leaving give Arsenal the chance to stick with their plan to give more minutes to young players.

Arsenal are building a team. With Mkhitaryan at the Gunners, the average age of the first-team squad in 25.4 – the youngest among the so-called Top 6 clubs. This focus on youth is a deliberate policy. As Jonathan Northcroft writes: “The idea is that Arsenal will have two elite players contending for every position with a third — an emerging youngster — pushing hard behind them. No youth blueprint works if pathways are not properly designed.” In recent days, Monreal, Elneny and now Mkhitaryan have left the club.

Posted: 2nd, September 2019 | In: Arsenal, Sports | Comment


Arsenal sell Monreal to Real Sociedad

Arsenal have sold defender Nacho Monreal to Real Sociedad on a two-year deal. The Spaniard was in the final year of his Arsenal contract. The 33-year-old made 250 appearances for Arsenal.

Posted: 31st, August 2019 | In: Arsenal, Sports | Comment


Arsenal : Shkodran Mustafi is too good to fail

As Mohamed Elneny joins Besiktas on a year-long loan, Arsenal fans wonder which club will save them from another season of Shkodran Mustafi? Roma looked a possibility but they’ve signed Chris Smalling on loan. Someone must fancy Mustafi, a player who Gary Neville said had “an incredible amount of natural ability and talent”.

He must have some. You don’t get to play fo the mighty Arsenal without a large degree of self-belief, commitment, confidence and talent. He played for Germany at the 2014 World Cup – which they won – making him one of the best. Arsene Wenger, one of the world’s most respected coaches, liked him a lot. It’s mad to think everyone was wrong about Mustafi. Even Joan Collins can’t fake it for that long. Most Arsenal fans praying for him to leave must realise one thing: he’s a lot better than they are. He is, after all, living their dream.

So why is he now sixth in line for two or three positions? Because he often drifts out of position. When the opposing strikers break, the rest of Arsenal’s defence has to scramble to plug the hole. His passing is slow – far too slow for Arsenal’s style. He tends to overhit or under-hit what should be routine passes. And there’s something more, something beyond his control: Mustafi is a disappointment. Fans want more from a player who cost £35m – the fee Arsenal paid Valencia for him. He never set the fee. He just played well enough to make Arsenal believe he was worth it. He wasn’t. So he represents an error of judgement. He is ambulatory failure. No-one likes to be reminded of their mistakes. So he must go. Any takers?

Posted: 30th, August 2019 | In: Arsenal, Sports | Comment


Why No VAR? Blatant Liverpool foul for first Arsenal goal

Arsenal liverpool Mattéo Guendouzi foul

Good news for Arsenal fans is that you can feel hard done by at losing 3-1 to Liverpool. Salah’s terrific goal, Liverpool’s third, came after a second from the penalty spot following a typical David Luiz moment of stupidity, but the game-changing first strike should not have stood.

Up until Joël Matip headed wickedly past Leno, the game had been tight. Arsenal debutant Nicolas Pépé curled one just over and shot too close to the ‘keeper after his pace and skill had out him clean through. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s attempt from the edge of the area into an unguarded net drifted narrowly wide.

And then that opeening goal – the one scored from a corner in which Joel Matip got more space as Virgil van Dijk fouled his marker, Mattéo Guendouzi. This is how the Guardian saw it:

Replays supported Mattéo Guendouzi’s argument that Liverpool players had in effect held him in a headlock, yet there was no VAR intervention despite the fact that several minutes had been wasted at the preceding corner in checking whether an alleged Nacho Monreal offence was worthy of a red card.

So Gunners fans can feel that improvement has been made. And when three parts of their defence return to full fitness – Bellerin, Tierney and Holding – the future will only be brighter.

Posted: 25th, August 2019 | In: Arsenal, Sports | Comment


Transfer Balls: Mustafi is ready to leave Arsenal

Vilifying one footballer for a team’s poor performances is brutal. And Shkodran Mustafi hasn’t been all bad for Arsenal. Or maybe the take away from the The Sun’s Top Trumps-style compare and contrast with Manchester United’s £85m recruit Harry Maguire sheds light less on the German’s abilities than Maguire’s hugely inflated fee. Both played 31 games for their respective sides. Their record for last season is as follows – both players featured in 31 games for Arsenal and Leicester City, respectively:

  • Blocks – Maguire 18, Mustafi 17
  • Interceptions – Maguire 37, Mustafi 58
  • Tackles – Maguire 31, Mustafi 62
  • Tackles won – Maguire 17, Mustafi 45
  • Percentage of tackles won – Maguire 55%, Mustafi 73%
  • Clearances – Maguire 152, Mustafi 161
  • Headed clearances – Maguire 77, Mustafi 106
  • Aerial duels won – Maguire 118, Mustafi 123

A more telling stat is that Arsenal new-boy David, Luiz completed more successful passes per 90 minutes than Mustafi. When you’re playing the passing game, Mustafi’s slow, misplaced passes hinder the team. Arsenal are better without him.

A statement from his father and representative Kujtim Mustafi gives points to an imminent transfer: “Shkodran had a great time with Arsenal. We still have a contract for two years and can imagine to stay in London. However the best for both sides is probably to work on a transfer. But for that it also needs market-driven transfer-fees.”

Arsenal may care to present the Sun’s findings in their sales package. And if the buying club only looks at those stats and not his tendency to wander out of position and lump the ball to no-one in particular, Mustafi could go for a fortune.

Posted: 24th, August 2019 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Arsenal to flog Shkodran Mustafi to Roma for £23m and a year of relief

Arsenal are fighting to keep hold of their brilliant Germany international defender Shkodran Mustafi, 27. Roma want to take the brutally underpaid player (£90,000 a week) on a year-long loan with the obligation to buy for ja ridiculously low fee of just – JUST! – £23m. (How’s that Josh Kroenke, any good? The over-priced big lummox has been stinking up the place for ages.)

The better new for Arsenal is that Josh will splash the dosh this January in the hope to improve the squad reeling from Mustafi’s departure (ok – enough, already – ed).

“As for January,” says Josh, “I don’t want to get ahead of ourselves. We’ve got to evaluate some things in the short term and figure out where we might need to address going forward, so when January does roll around we’re going to be proactive again.”

A vast and fast centre-back, Josh, and a Patrick Vieira clone in midfield.

Posted: 20th, August 2019 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Arsenal pair forced out by security fears

Can we speculate about the “further security incidents” keeping Mesut Ozil and Sead Kolasinac out of Arsenal’s squad for tomorrow’s Premier League game at Newcastle United? There have been “credible threats” to their safety.

Two weeks ago the players were attacked by a knife-wielding gang in Golders Green, north London. Talk was of an attempted carjacking. Ozil has a swanky motor (black Mercedes G-Class 4×4), but would the villains bother retuning for another go at it?

Arsenal are “providing the players and their families with ongoing support. The welfare of our players and their families is always a top priority. We have taken this decision following discussion with the players and their representatives. We look forward to welcoming the players back to the squad as soon as possible.”

And so the speculation. Is it to do with “Ozil’s recent high profile endorsement of Turkey’s Erdogan and his rejection of his adopted country, Germany?” asks one fan. Or is it because the police can’t nick scooter gangs?

Posted: 10th, August 2019 | In: Arsenal, News, Sports | Comment


Transfer News: Alex Iwobi joins Everton from Arsenal for £34m

Everton never did Wilf Zaha, the brilliant Crystal Palace winger. Instead they’ve shopped around and hired Arsenal’s Alex Iwobi for around £40m. The Arsenal academy product and Nigeria international has agreed a five-year contract.

This looks like good deal all round. Pushed down the pecking order at Arsenal by the arrival of Nicolas Pepe and challenged by the upcoming Reiss Nelson, Iwobi will get regular first-team football at Everton. The Toffees get a skilful and improving player.

The question for Everton is: would any of the so-called top 6 clubs have signed Iwobi for that kind of money?

Posted: 8th, August 2019 | In: Arsenal, Sports | Comment


David Luiz joins Arsenal for £8m

Arsenal have signed David Luiz from Chelsea on a two-year deal for £8m. The 32-year-old Brazil centre-back will be at Emirates for medical today.

This is great move for the Gunners. But why would Chelsea, a club banned from signing players until the end of January 2020, sell one of their most consistent performers to a rival?

Chelsea’s centre-backs now include Germany’s Antonio Rudiger, Kurt Zouma and Denmark’s Andreas Christensen. Feeling confident, Blues fans?

Posted: 8th, August 2019 | In: Arsenal, Chelsea, Sports | Comment