Thoughts on the Lens game and Arsenal Sign Holding

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain scores against Lens

Arsenal traveled to France to take on RC Lens on their home ground last Friday. I would have watched the game live but I had other commitments so I had to make do with some highlights from the official site. I know you can’t really judge a game of 90 minutes from a few bit-sized highlights, but I’d learned a thing or two from what I saw, and overall it was a good run out for the lads.

From an individual standpoint, there were some impressive performances on display. It seemed as if our captain’s lack of pace was exploited, as it was a comical sight seeing him trying to catch up with that Lens forward but thankfully, he missed his effort. The goal the Gunners conceded was down to some terrible defending from Calum Chambers. With the arrival of Rob Stark Holding from Bolton, it’s going to be interesting to see how Arsene Wenger manages Chambers. More on that anon.

I was happy with the fact that Kieran Gibbs is still very much around and there has been no news regarding his future. He came on for Nacho Monreal and looked very tidy with the ball. Matt Macey also came on for Emiliano Martinez and made a brilliant save to deny the home side a clear-cut goalscoring opportunity. The goalie spoke after the game, labeling that save as a ‘nice moment to have‘ but he has also come to terms with the fact that it wouldn’t be easy for him to break into the first squad.

Further up the pitch, Theo Walcott looked hungry and was trying to make things happen in attack. He looked incisive in attack, and I don’t know if he’s auditioning to play a key role in the squad with his performances but time will tell. The contest was leveled when Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain lobbed a superb effort over the goalkeeper. The English speedster stated that he had been practicing the chip for quite some time, so I’m guessing he has been infested with a Carlos Vela spirit. It was good seeing the Ox strut his stuff after such a disappointing campaign last season. He started well with a brilliant finish in the Community Shield but his form waned as the season progressed before it was ended abruptly by a knee injury.

Wenger’s post-match interview was quite interesting, speaking about the game, Sam Allardyce getting the England job and the transfer market. In the end, it was a good run out and all focus would be in the games at America.

So all speculation about Bolton’s Player of the Year, Rob Holding, joining the club has been confirmed, as the youngster has joined Arsenal to be the third signing of the season, after Granit Xhaka and Takuma Asano. With the presence of Per Mertesacker, Laurent Koscielny, Gabriel Paulista and Calum Chambers at the club, Holding will have to work his way to the top and we would be hoping to see what he has to offer during the preseason.

With Holding coming to the fray, there are whispers that Chambers might be sent out on loan, with Southampton apparently interested in his services. He has taken the #16 jersey vacated by Ramsey, which is an indication that he wants a number that shows he’s close to the first team. I’m not taking anything away from the likes of Jeff Reine-Adelaide and co though.

I wish him the very best in his fledgling Arsenal career


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A Look Ahead to the 2016/17 Season for Arsenal

When the new Premier League season kicks off on the weekend of 13/14th August, Arsenal can head into the weekend feeling quietly confident that they will have a strong season. The summer transfer window and its rumour mills have been dominated by other teams, notably the two Manchester clubs. United and City both have new managers in Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola respectively, but it could well be an opportunity for Gunners boss Arsene Wenger to win his first Premier League title since 2004.

His main summer acquisition arrived before Euro 2016 even kicked off – Granit Xhaka signed from Borussia Monchengladbach and he will provide some real bite and tenacity to a midfield that has too often been overrun in big game. Tomas Rosicky and Mikel Arteta both left the club at the end of their contracts but the Swiss international will bring some leadership into the spine of the squad. If Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey can remain fit and in-form then this could mark the dawn of one of the best midfield trios in the league.

One missing part of the jigsaw for the Gunners seems to be in the striking department. Olivier Giroud had a highly impressive Euros for France but there are question marks over his ability as a top-level striker who can consistently make his mark in big games – particularly as United have signed Zlatan Ibrahimovic on a free transfer. Also, Danny Welbeck has once again succumbed to a long-term knee injury and will miss a large chunk of the early season.

This, coupled with the loss of form for Theo Walcott, means that a major attacking arrival is surely inevitable. Names such as Gonzalo Higuain, Alvaro Morata and Mauro Icardi have all been mentioned and if any of those were signed then Arsenal’s squad would be in its best shape for years.

For the new season, Betway are offering a range of football betting odds for fans. They include options such as in-play during matches, and outright bets such as the winners of the 2016/17 Premier League title – Arsenal are currently rated as third favourites at 6/1. They also offer odds on upcoming friendly games during pre-season, including the odds on both teams to score tonight.

Arsenal couldn’t face a much more difficult start to the new Premier League campaign. They host Liverpool first, who will have a point to prove under Jurgen Klopp after a disappointing end to last season saw them finish eighth place. Next up are Leicester City, the champions, away from home in what is sure to be an early season indicator of which club is most likely to win the title. Their cause is also not helped with the fact that Arsene Wenger has given extended breaks to the likes of Laurent Koscielny, Olivier Giroud, Aaron Ramsey and Mesut Ozil. Alexis Sanchez is still nursing the injuries he suffered playing for Chile in the Copa America.

Any success is likely to depend on whether key men can perform consistently. Mesut Ozil is on the back of his best season at the club, but the German needs to have other players performing around him. Alexis Sanchez had a relatively poor second season at the Gunners and will be looking to help the club to silverware.

With Per Mertesacker being named captain of the club, he is likely to need other senior players such as Petr Cech in order to keep unity as they battle on all fronts.


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Things Arsenal Could do with £100 million

Left for cheap. Could return for a world record fee

As an Arsenal fan, you have to also remember that you’re a football fan too, so you can’t just turn a blind eye to the transfer dealings, especially the big ones, happening in some of football biggest leagues. More focus is obviously on the Premier League with the new managers on display, as well as the new signings that could turn out to be legends or major flops.

The news dominating the back pages is that Juventus has rejected an initial £85 million offer for Paul Pogba from Manchester United. These guys are lucky I’m not the president of Juventus. Imagine me being in my lil’ office in Turin and my chief financial officer tells me that a bid has been made for Pogba. I’d spill my coffee on my best dress, and do everything in my power to hold a meeting with all the crime bosses in Sicily to give me their best guys. Then we will go to Pogba’s house at night, use some chloroform on form, tie him up and send him with the best courier service to Manchester. Don’t worry, the delivery fee will be on me.

It’s not as if he has the stats to prove that he deserves such an amount. Since I want to work with facts, let’s look at the two footballers that have been bought with close to the £80m+ mark. When Real Madrid signed Cristiano Ronaldo for a world record fee in 2009, he had smashed in 118 goals in 292 games for the Red Devils. In seven seasons with Real Madrid, he has scored 364 goals in 348 games. Has he been worth the punt? Hell yeah! Gareth Bale is another guy that was acquired for an exorbitant fee but he had notched 55 goals for Tottenham with 26 goals in his final campaign. Pogba has proved himself to be a ‘complete midfielder’, but many wonder whether he’s worth £100m as demanded by Juventus.

Well, that’s Manchester United’s problem. Last time I checked, the £100m will be deducted from their coffers, not Arsenal’s. But the question is, what can Arsenal do with £100m if they were chanced to splurge with such a crazy amount?

Mauro Icardi

Mauro Icardi has been on the spotlight for the bad reasons, following his wife’s comments about Inter doing everything in their power to sell him. But errr, it that meant to be a bad thing? It’s not like Icardi has the likes of Alvaro Recoba, Juan Sebastien Veron, Christian Vieri, Adriano Leite, Sinisa Mihajlovic, Esteban Cambiasso, Marco Materazzi, Javier Zanetti or Francesco Toldo around him. Internazionale is a mere shadow of the force they used to be.

The papers say that Icardi is valued at £42m. I say we should take the punt on the lad. His record at Inter is 52 goals in 102 games. He’s young, intelligent, quick and would provide stiff competition for Olivier Giroud.


Riyad Mahrez 

Riyad Mahrez is the current Premier League Player of the Season. With 17 goals and 11 assists last season, Mahrez was the hottest kid in the block and with the Algerian rejecting a new deal from the Foxes, teams have been put on high alert. The transfer fee is expected to be huge, but that’s something £100m can cover right?

Time to focus on the rest of my day.

Please don’t go out there spending £100m like it’s nothing. It’s not as if there’s a Pogba at every corner.


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