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Viking SK Preview and Szczesny Joins Roma on Loan

I’m sure the players must be jet-lagged from all the travelling but it’s going to be a nice Scandanavian adventure for Arsene Wenger and his team before preparations get underway for the start of the new campaign. When I saw pictures of Alexis Sanchez’s ankle after the Copa America, I thought he was going to be out for a long while but seeing pictures of him training with the squad made me really happy. The blonde Welsh Jesus, Aaron Ramsey, is also back after his holidays and I’m sure he can’t wait to hit the ground running. Ramsey had such amazing tournament in the Euros, and we would be hoping he carries that form into the new campaign.

Arsenal will play Viking FK tonight in their famous Viking Stadion. I really don’t know much about them and the only time Arsenal locked horns with Norwegian opposition was against Rosenborg SK, where Cesc Fabregas became the club’s youngest scorer or so. They have some pedigree, winning the  Norwegian Tippeligaen eight times with the last coming as far back as 1991.

I would expect the game to be a decent run out for the lads and I’m really looking forward to seeing Alexis and Ramsey in action. Rob Holding is one player that has impressed massively in preseason and he would be hoping to put up another virtuoso performance, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain would want to build on what he has a fantastic start to his campaign.

There is going to be a live stream on the official site, so gear yourselves up, if you may miss the game live.

To team news, I don’t think there would be any major changes to the squad but I would expect the usual substitutions from the gaffer. I’m no Wenger, but I’d expect a lineup like this…

Arsenal 4-2-3-1 football formation

Elsewhere, the club has confirmed that one of its favorite sons, Wojciech Szczesny, has returned to AS Roma for a second loan spell. Unlike last season where Szczesny didn’t have much competition for veterans, Bogdan Lobont and Morgan de Sanctis, Roma has signed Alisson from Internacional so it’s going to be very interesting to see how things pan out for Arsenal’s pole. I’ve also learned that a fee of 16m has been included in the loan contract, which gives Roma an option to buy, if Szczesny impresses.

That would be quite unfortunate if he’s eventually sold after two loan spells with the Italian outfit but he’d have himself to blame because he was heralded as the #1 for years to come but a lot of factors not worth mentioning caused things to go downhill for him at North London. With Petr Cech and David Ospina, Arsenal have the adequate quality they need in goal.

I wish Szczesny the very best in his second stint with the Italian giants.

Sayonara.

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Arsenal to Agree Loan Extension for Wojciech Szczesny

The goalkeeping situation at the club was one conundrum for Arsene Wenger at the start of the season. Petr Cech’s arrival last season saw Wojciech Szczesny loaned out to AS Roma, as David Ospina dropped to the role of Cech’s deputy. It was a successful debut campaign by Cech’s fair standards, as his 16 clean sheets in the Premier League saw him win the Golden Glove award for the second time in three seasons.

With the legendary Czech goalie retiring from international football, he was shifting his focus to club football, which ultimately means that he would be the custodian between Arsenal’s sticks for years to come. This meant that Wenger had to sort out the player that would serve as Cech’s #2 in the new campaign, as Szczesny returned from his spell at Roma, while David Ospina is still on holidays after a great bronze-winning campaign with Colombia at the recently concluded Copa America.

According to Forza Italian Football, Arsenal is set to agree a loan extension with Roma over the services of the Polish shot stopper. Szczesny enjoyed a good Champions League qualification campaign with Roma, making 42 appearances (34 in Serie A) and claiming eight clean sheets. He averaged 2.09 saves per game, made about 26% punches, a distribution success of 72% and an outstanding 99% claim success, which was one of the best in the league. All stats via Squawka.

It’s also believed that Arsenal and Roma would split Szczesny’s €3 million-a-year contract evenly, even though that contract is scheduled to expire in 2018.

I wish Szczesny the best in this loan spell, in his bid to continue playing first-team football consistently.

Sayonara

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Arsenal Euro 2016 Update: Ozil Provides Assist and Szczesny Keeps Clean Sheet

Euro 2016 began with a rather pulsating encounter between Turkey and Croatia. Anything I think about the Croatian national team, my mind takes me back to the 1998 World Cup in France when Davor Suker had such a great tournament with support from Robert Prosinecki, Zvonimir Boban and Mario Stannis Baratheon, or Stanic, as he’s known in Croatia.

The new generation of Croatian football stars juggernauts like Mario Mandzukic, Ivan Perisic, Milan Badelj and of course, the golden boy of Croatian football, Luka Modric, that scored a wonder goal that settled the match. There were a lot of close shaves in the game but Croatia deserved to leave the pitch with three points in the bag.

Three hours after the Croatia win, Poland kicked off their tournament with a clash against Northern Ireland. There were some familiar Premier League faces in the Northern Ireland squad with West Brom duo, Jonny Evans and Gareth McAuley, Watford’s Craig Eric Cartman Cathcart. Southampton’s Steven Davis (can you remember his double against Spurs?) and that young Manchester United  bloke that almost snapped Jack Wilshere’s ankle in half, Paddy Power McNair.

Wojceich Szczesny showed his aerial dominance and put up a matured performance in goal for his country. His resolve will be tested in his next game against Germany but Poland can take some solace from the fact that they beat the Germans in the qualifiers. The qualifying top scorer and talisman, Robert Lewandowski, fired blanks but the Poles had Arkadiusz Milik to thank, as his goal from Kuba’s assist was enough to give the team three points.

Finally, Germany played the last game of the night against Ukraine. Joachim Loew made up for Mats Hummels injury by replacing the Bayern-bound defender with Shkodran Mustafi and that faith was repaid as the Valencia center back nodded Toni Kroos inswinger to give the world champions the lead. Germany sealed the game late on when Mesut Ozil threaded an inch-perfect pass to Bastian Schweinsteiger who finished aplomb.

More on the players as the competition progresses.

Sayonara

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