#WENGERIN! Why Arsenal’s FA Cup final win changed my mind

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I was convinced I wanted Arsene Wenger out, but yesterday changed my mind.

In the face of hate and abuse (which of course has been disgraceful), Wenger defied the odds and defeated the ‘master tactician’ Antonio Conte.

What a performance it was, all of the players were outstanding. It was undoubtedly the best Arsenal performance I have ever seen.

The make-shift back five were immense and so were the rest in front of them. Beating Chelsea and denying them the double and a dream finish for John Terry made it even sweeter too.

Called me deluded (and yes, I probably am), but I believe Arsene Wenger can take us forward next season.

Yes, it has been much of the same for the past few years, but a massive difference in not achieving a top four finish will hopefully make Wenger realise that he must change.

Quite frankly, this season has been a shambles and I would put a large proportion of the blame on Wenger. It hasn’t been good enough and I’ve been of the opinion that he shouldn’t be offered a new deal.

The problem is… I fell back in ‘love’ with Wenger yesterday. The way we played and the way he celebrated made me believe in him again.

I know what you’re thinking, why on earth would one game change your opinion on this?

Well firstly, the change to three at the back has been proven to be a masterstroke. It’s worked with overwhelming success, only tasting defeat once (but let’s ignore that). After a pre-season working on the new system and adding new players to the side, I think we can compete.

I also genuinely believe Wenger will change his transfer policy. He will buy big this summer. He has to, especially with our rivals likely to splash the cash.

I think a two year contract would be wise. It gives him a chance to have another couple of runs at the Premier League title and I see no reason why we can’t win it (if we can convince Alexis and Ozil to stay).

We have to believe in the new formation – and whoever is in charge when August comes around. The fans have to get behind the team.

Whether Wenger stays or goes, this will be a massive summer for Arsenal. There will be change, but will it be under Wenger’s reign? We will know soon.

Many say there’s no room for sentiment in football, but in my mind, yesterday shows that Arsene Wenger deserves a final chance to prove the doubters wrong.

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Time for change, time for Arsene Wenger to leave Arsenal – but Walcott, Ramsey and Giroud need to go too

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I don’t know an Arsenal without Arsene Wenger, but I would like to meet it.

The reality is that if Arsene Wenger was the manager of any other team in the Premier League, he would have been sacked years ago, never mind after this car crash of a Premier League season.

After the 0-0 draw with Sunderland, it became mathematically impossible for Arsenal to win the league, ending their season. So much for judge me in May, eh Arsene? We didn’t even get that far.

Two FA Cup wins on the bounce looked like they could springboard the club from fourth place mediocrity to mount a REAL title challenge, where we didn’t crumble after Christmas. That went well.

Failure in the Champions League AGAIN in the Round of 16 and cheap knockouts in both cups left the league the only option. SURELY with ALL the big clubs crashing dramatically around us, now was the time. But no. Leicester City or God forbid Tottenham are going to win their first Premier League.

In my book, this was Wenger’s last chance.

“But, but, but, the player’s have let him down…”

Their performances have been shambolic, but when you think about it that makes no sense. Arsene Wenger’s reign of success ended in 2004, followed by the following 12 years (so far) of no league titles and consistently average seasons.

Have the players been letting him down for 12 years? We’ve seen countless changes in the squad throughout those years, so to me that just doesn’t add up.

The axe falls on the managers head. He has become un-defendable. Throughout my teenage years I have said to give him time, with excuses such as the stadium being built and having to sell our top players.

Then it hit me.

I’m now almost 20 and those excuses are complete nonsense now. The stadium was paid off years ago and Wenger’s continual failure in every single transfer window falls on him and him alone.

His team selections become more and more questionable every week and he seems too stubborn to make a sub before the 70th minute. It’s as if he’s sat there repeating “it will work soon” in his head. It won’t, Arsene. Starting Olivier Giroud was never going to work against Sunderland. He hasn’t scored in 19 of his last 20 games.

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How he can claim there are no better options out there than everyone’s favourite French striker Giroud, is quite frankly beyond me. The human lamp post. I’ve seen milk turn quicker.

Aaron Ramsey is getting progressively worse as his career goes on. He’s like a reverse Pirlo. He’s gone from our Lampard to our very own Welsh Xavi (Joe Allen). Except of course that Joe Allen can make a simple pass.

Theo Walcott. I mean, I don’t even know what to say. He gets paid over ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND POUNDS A WEEK and he’s somehow worse than he was when he joined over ten years ago. His attempt at taking the ball past Kaboul earlier with the goal at his mercy was a disgrace.

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I wouldn’t even start him in his own testimonial.

All three need to be shipped out in the summer, or perhaps given a new lease of life under a new manager.

“A new manager Luke? But there is no one else available to take over from Wenger?!”

Oh yeah because it’s going so well now, would be a massive gamble to risk our prestigious spot at fourth place every year… (sarcasm).

I challenge a manager to do any worse with this crop of actually talented players (when they want to be) to do worse than the top four. We are UNDER performing with Wenger. Inject £200 million pounds into this squad and we could be looking at a team who can actually challenge the biggest teams in Europe.

Of course, it is not that simple, but you know what I mean.

I wouldn’t mind seeing Pellegrini or Simeone at Arsenal, at least they would be a change and would breath some fresh air on the rotting squad.

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The performances of late point to a poor mentality and that comes from the manager. He is where the buck stops, and I’m ready to get off.

There is some talent at the football club (Ozil and Alexis in particular) but they are being undernourished and wasted by a manager who refuses to build a team around them that can be successful domestically and in Europe. It CAN be done!

Mesut Ozil just broke a Premier League record for most chances created in a single season. He also has 18 assists. We have had Ozil in the peak of his career, one of the best footballers on the planet and what do we do? Stick a walking selfie stick in front of him. Frustration doesn’t even cover it.

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What a waste.

We all know what is needed, everyone except for Arsene Wenger of course. A new core. CB, CDM and ST. It is quite literally not rocket science. This is not a secret, I wonder if anyone at Arsenal has actually mentioned to Wenger that we have £200 million in the bank and he should actually spend it.

The answer is, probably not. He’s untouchable at Arsenal and that needs to change.

It is not a risk to change the manager, if we don’t then the club will continue to drift into the abyss of mediocrity.

All of this is nothing new, we have know it for a long time, but the reality is it probably won’t change.

Arsene Wenger will continue to sit on his throne at the club and if he does then the abuse towards him from fans will soon make his position untenable.

Especially if we drop out of the top four this season.

I’ve had enough with the mediocrity. It’s the same story every year and it’s finally time to get a new book.

I have immense respect for Arsene Wenger for what he has done for the club over the years, but he’s now damaging his legacy.

As the saying goes, you either leave a hero or stay long enough to see yourself become the villain.

 

Alexis Sanchez v Eden Hazard: Who’s the best winger in the Premier League?

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Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez and Chelsea’s Eden Hazard are both world class stars, but who is better? Let’s have a look…

Goals

Alexis Sanchez has bagged 13 league goals this season in what has been a ferocious first season for Arsenal, after his £32 million move last summer. The Chilean has been a goal machine, winning Arsenal games with his brilliance in front of goal. His finishing is outstanding, and Sanchez will be looking to reach the 20 goal mark before the Premier League season has finished.

In comparison, Eden Hazard has also had a good goal scoring season so far, netting 10 times this campaign. The Chelsea star has been forced to play second fiddle in front of goal due to the arrival of Diego Costa, but the Belgian is still on course to reach his tally of 14 from last season.

With Sanchez currently leading Hazard on the goal scoring front (and when also considering that two of Hazard’s goals have come from the penalty spot), the Chilean win’s this category and takes the lead.

Alexis Sanchez 1-0 Eden Hazard.

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Creativity

Creativity is an interesting area, as both are very creative players with great innovation, with their tricks and flicks on show every week. Both players also like to go inside and drop into midfield to probe opposition defences, and do so very successfully, but what do the stats say?

Sanchez has grabbed seven assists so far this season, to Hazard’s six. The Chilean may edge it on assists, but the other statistics are where the Belgian comes into his own.

Part of a very polished and well put together attacking unit, Hazard contributes in more ways than just being on the end of Chelsea’s slick moves. The Chelsea man has completed 65 key passes to Sanchez’s 54, whilst completing almost double the amount of passes (1255 to 737) than Sanchez. Hazard also has interestingly made almost 200 more forward passes than Sanchez this season, displaying his attacking intent. It’s also worth noting that Hazard’s pass completion (88%) is far superior to Sanchez’s (77%).

Sanchez may have more assists, but Hazard is no doubt the more effective, creative player, and therefore equalises.

Alexis Sanchez 1-1 Eden Hazard.

Duels

Both players are involved in countless duels every week. Both players love taking on, and beating their fullback, leaving them on their backsides. It’s a huge part of both their games, but who is better at beating their man?

Alexis Sanchez has completed 83 take-ons at a success rate of 56% so far this season, with his delightful drop of a shoulder. His trademark skill that he embarrasses defenders with every week is sublime. As the ball is running out of play Sanchez slows down and does a step over as he fakes to go one way, drops a shoulder and flicks the ball the opposite way with the outside of his boot, leaving the defender for dead. You all know what I’m talking about.

However, Eden Hazard’s stats are far more impressive. The Belgian loves a drop of the shoulder, with his burst of acceleration giving defenders no chance. Hazard has managed to complete a mammoth 119 take-ons this season at a 63% success rate. Extremely impressive.

The Belgian winger has also suffered the most fouls in the Premier League this season, being upended 75 times to Sanchez’s 52 times, showing himself to be a bigger terror to defences.

Sorry Sanchez, you’re good, but Hazard is better. Hazard takes the lead.

Alexis Sanchez 1-2 Eden Hazard.

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Work rate

This category is more cut and dry.

Alexis Sanchez’s work rate is next to none. He is an animal. There are rumours that he refuses to take rest days and trains anyway, and it’s no surprise, the man works the hardest of any player in the Arsenal team. He has unbelievable stamina and isn’t afraid to get stuck in with the dirty side of the game, committing 34 fouls whilst tracking back this season.

Eden Hazard works harder under Jose Mourinho than he had done in previous years, but the Belgian is no-where near Sanchez in terms of work rate. Sanchez equalises.

Alexis Sanchez 2-2 Eden Hazard.

Importance and versatility

Sanchez is certainly the more important to his team. Arsenal need the Chilean firing on all cylinders if they are to secure a top four place.

However, Hazard is also of huge importance to Chelsea in their hunt for the title. Would Hazard have better stats if he played in a worse team, like Sanchez is? That’s very much up for debate, but it does seem that Sanchez is more of a key player for Arsenal than Hazard is for Chelsea, purely due to the fact Chelsea have more quality players.

Sanchez is also the more versatile player, able to play anywhere in the ‘front four’, on either wing, behind the striker or upfront. He could probably do a job at left-back if you asked him to.

Hazard on the other hand is a left sided midfielder, and not much more. He could no doubt play centrally, but he just doesn’t get the chance.

Unfortunately for Hazard, he does seem to be less important to his team when compared to Sanchez, and with Sanchez’s versatility being far better, the Chilean takes the lead.

Alexis Sanchez 3-2 Eden Hazard.

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So who is better?

Alexis Sanchez has won the comparison here, but no doubt Chelsea fans will have a point to argue. Eden Hazard is a world class star, just as Sanchez is, and comparisons between the two will go on until one of them leaves the Premier League.

One thing is for sure, having them both in one team would be outstanding, with Hazard’s creativity on one wing, and Sanchez’s work rate and goal scoring prowess on the other, defenders would be having nightmares.

Thanks for reading.

Who do you think is better? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter: @LukeHastings1.

Arsenal’s season so far, Alexis Sanchez and #WengerOut?

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Arsene Wenger

Wenger in? Wenger out? Let’s shake it all about and have a look at Arsenal’s season so far, our Chilean star Alexis Sanchez, and some strong opinions on the boss himself. Enjoy.

No doubt about it, Arsenal have been absolutely dire so far this season, and were once again last week at Swansea. Performances that have bordered on embarrassing have stifled any talk of the title, with most fans very angry and once again settling for a scrappy fight for 4th.

Due to the performances and results, some fans have launched a quite vicious assault towards Arsene Wenger on social media, with a quite frankly embarrassing and pathetic protest being organised against our greatest ever manager.

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Whether you want Arsene Wenger out or not, have some respect. If anyone who is planning to support this protest thinks it’s genuinely going to make any shred of difference, you are sorely mistaken. Arsene Wenger will leave the club when he sees fit, not when a bunch of fans make a few posters to tell him to do so.

Whether you think that’s right or not, I’m sorry, but it’s the reality. Yes, I know how much some fans love to remind us all that “it is not Arsene FC blah blah”… But quite frankly, he will not be sacked.

The fickleness of our fans is sometimes bordering on insanity, with opinions changing on the future of our club every weekend. Arsene Wenger stayed at Arsenal through the very tough times during the stadium build even though he had several opportunities to leave, some perspective which fans seem to forget.

We owe Arsene Wenger a lot for the stadium and the consistency to stay in the top 4 throughout that transitional era. Yes, I’m aware he didn’t win any trophies in that time, but would you when you are selling all your best players, and having the likes of Nicklas Bendtner and Marouane Chamakh as your striking options? The answer is a resounding no.

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However, the notion that we ‘owe’ Arsene Wenger anything is NOT a reason to keep him on as manager. The FA Cup win signified the end of the transitional era, whilst the departure of Bacary Sagna to Man City signalled the end of the mass player exodus to rival clubs. Therefore, this season so far, which promised so much, is not good enough.

The summer transfer window was an overall success, but the much talked about defensive-midfielder position was not filled, whilst the squad was left without defensive cover. Both these neglected areas are to put it bluntly, destroying our season. An unreliable Nacho Monreal has been forced to cover at centre-back and a completely useless Mathieu Flamini is playing in midfield. Honestly, Flamini should be playing for a relegation threatened side, not Arsenal.

monreal and flamini

The failure in this area of the transfer market is down to one man, Arsene Wenger. There were options quite literally everywhere for players to sign, and we have the money too.

However, it would be ridiculous to suggest that our only problems lie in these neglected areas of the squad. Arsene Wenger is week in, week out proving himself to be tactically naive, especially in the big games. The use of the 4-1-4-1 formation in the early season with Mesut Ozil out wide was actually baffling. Some would say idiotic. Our use of the zonal marking system is costing us again and again from defensive set-pieces, I don’t even know why we bother with attacking corners we are so bad at them, whilst our propensity to be counter attacked every time we go forward is appalling.

In Wenger’s defence, his tactical switch of Alexis Sanchez to the no.10 role has been a revelation in the past few games, with Sanchez being the best player on the park every single week. Sanchez is a magical player, and in my opinion is the best forward player we have had at the club since Thierry Henry left all those years ago. He has the ability to beat 4 or 5 players and bury it, with Alexis providing the flair and clinical finishing we have been missing for so many years.

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Our reliance on Sanchez is bordering on the point that if he were to get injured, our season would be in tatters. This is why we can’t just look at Arsene Wenger as the sole reason for our poor form this season. Yes, he does pick the players, but they MUST take more responsibility than they have been.

Alexis Sanchez has left the pitch the last few games shaking his head, and rightly so. He’s a winner, and must be wondering what he has signed up to. When he looks around he must wonder how some of these players are starting for Arsenal. For example, Aaron Ramsey appears to think he’s now ‘big time’ after last season, with no care in the world about defending. Over the past few weeks all he’s been doing is looking to score (might I say, unsuccessfully), leaving the team with no balance. Per Mertesacker looks lost at the back without his partner Laurent Koscielny, alongside an abysmal Nacho Monreal, whilst Santi Cazorla can’t hit a barn door with a shovel, spooning every chance he gets into row Z of the Emirates, making it no surprise he hasn’t scored a league goal since January.

The fact is, I could pick out every player in the starting 11 (bar Sanchez) and criticise their performances, which is ultimately the issue. The players look lost, and you could put that just down to poor management, but I think a lot comes from the players themselves.

The worrying lack of rotation so far this season will (and already has) cost us injury wise, but the fact is that if Wenger rotates, the squad players just aren’t good enough.Joel Campbell appears to have disappeared off the face of the Earth, despite Wenger claiming earlier in the season that his time would come. When would that be Arsene? 2016? Replacing him on the bench with Yaya Sanogo last weekend was shocking. To clarify, this is the man who couldn’t score if Alexis left 11 players on the deck and squared it to him. Thomas Rosicky and Lukas Podolski have piped up publicly about their lack of game time, but when they come off the bench they show nothing to suggest they should be starting. It’s just a poor state of affairs, and a lose-lose situation for Wenger.

podolski and rosicky

I personally believe that the players have just as much responsibility as Arsene Wenger in this dismal situation, and until they pull together, we will get nowhere. The ultimate question is though, are you Wenger in or Wenger out? I think sacking him mid-season would be ridiculous, and quite frankly it won’t happen. I also can’t see a suitable candidate to replace him either. However, if the season continues on this path and we end up with just the “4th place trophy”, then this debate will be red hot, with even more fans calling for Wenger’s head than they are now.

What do YOU think on Wenger, the players, and the team as a whole? Let me know on Twitter: @LukeHastings1, or in the comments below!

Thanks for reading.

(Images sourced from gettyimages.co.uk)

The Title Race: The Four Contenders.

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The Premier League title race is the most open for years, with four teams still in with a real chance of claiming the title. Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool are all right in the title race with only a few points separating the contenders. All of them believe that they can come out on top of what is shaping up to be one of the hardest fought title races in Premier League history. Here’s my analysis of the title contenders and their key men.

Manchester City

Man City must be the favourites to win it this year as they have the strongest and most talented squad in the league. They have three games in hand on the leaders Chelsea, which if they win all of will catapult them up to first place. Man City have struggled slightly defensively this year, with Martin Demichelis looking a real weak link in their back four. However, their fire power has more than made up for this as they have smashed in countless amounts of goals all season. Being almost unbeatable at home helps their cause too, however the same could be said about Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool. They brushed aside Hull last weekend despite going down to ten men, showing their determination to win the title this year.

Key man Yaya Toure

City’s midfield powerhouse will be key to their title challenge in the coming weeks. He had racked up 13 goals from midfield so far this season, showing him to be one of the best midfielder’s in the division. Equally important to City’s charge will be Sergio Aguero, as if they can get him fit he has the ability to fire them to glory.

Arsenal

Arsenal’s huge win against rivals Tottenham this weekend fired them right back into the title race. Their challenge had been fading in recent weeks but a big win last weekend means they are right back in the thick of it. Arsenal’s side looks to be a different animal to previous seasons with more fight, hunger and spirit in the squad. For the first time in many years the back four can now be relied upon too, with the central defensive partnership of Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny being the cornerstone to Arsenal much improved season this time out. Lack of depth upfront is the real worry though, with Arsenal’s midfield craving a world class striker that they just don’t have. Arsenal have been the experts of brushing aside the ‘lesser’ teams this season; however, have struggled against the bigger sides with heavy defeats against title rivals Man City and Liverpool putting their title credentials into question.

Key man Colin Lewin (Physio)

Arsenal have had horrendous luck with injuries this season, having the highest number of injuries compared to any other club in the Premier League. If the medical department can keep the players fit, whilst also getting key players such as Mesut Ozil, Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere back in time to play a big part in the title race, Arsenal have every chance of coming out victorious at the end of the season.

Chelsea

Chelsea under Jose Mourinho look a real force. Mourinho, whether you love him or hate him, is one of the top managers in the world. His tactical guile, clever mind games and outrageous statements mean that the media’s attention is all on him, meaning any criticism towards his players is deflected. The prime example of this of course being his comments about Chelsea being the ‘little horse’ in the title race, taking all the pressure of his players. The money the club spends on players means that the squad is huge and can really challenge at the top. However, the damaging defeat against Aston Villa last weekend throws their title credentials slightly into doubt, whilst the lack of fire power upfront is a real worry for Mourinho’s men.

Key man– Eden Hazard

The 23 year old wide man has had an outstanding season thus far notching up 13 goals and 7 assists. If he can continue his form, Chelsea have a real chance of lifting the Premier League trophy with him creating and putting away chances week in week out.

Liverpool

Any team with the world class forward partnership of Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge have a real chance of claiming the Premier League crown. The ‘SAS’ have notched up a mesmerising 43 Premier League goals between them so far, with no indication of them slowing down their form. With Captain Steven Gerrard anchoring the midfield, spraying passes all over the place from his new deeper position, Liverpool have a real chance this year. Their lack of European cup commitments this season has left them with a lot of time to recover whilst rivals have been dealing with gruelling schedules, meaning that their small squad hasn’t been exposed at all so far. A win against Man United at Old Trafford last weekend will only add to their belief that they can go all the way. However, Liverpool’s real weakness appears to be at the back, as they are prone to leaking goals. but with the ‘SAS’ upfront this isn’t an issue as they can outscore most teams.

Key man Luis Suarez

Suarez has been sensational this season scoring 25 goals and picking up 10 assists too. His partnership with Sturridge has been the stuff of dreams for Liverpool fans, who will be delighted they managed to hold on to Suarez last summer, a player who is capable of firing them to the title.

So who will win it?

The title race is really spicing up in a fight that promises to provide one of the tightest and greatest finishes in Premier League history. This season is truly remarkable as I can’t remember the last time four teams were still in with a real chance of winning the title at this late stage of the season.

For me, Man City should come out victorious as long as they capitalise on their games in hand and get Aguero fit and firing. They ultimately have the strongest and most talented squad to pick up points in the critical latter stages of the season as well.

What is for sure is that there will be plenty of twists and turns to come in another exciting Premier League season finale.

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Make sure to leave a comment and let me know who you think (or hope!) will win the title and why, plus feel free to answer the poll below.

Arsenal’s transfer failings, the media and Mesut Ozil

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Arsenal’s January transfer window was nothing less than a disaster, with Kim Kallstrom being the only new signing arriving at the Emirates on a short term loan. This move went from underwhelming, to almost comical, as it was revealed he would be out for a month with a back injury. A late enquire for Salomon Kalou was thankfully rejected by Lille, and hopes that Julian Draxler would be joining the Gunners were dashed by Arsene Wenger who revealed early on Transfer Deadline Day that Draxler would be staying at Schalke.

With no striker arriving in January angering some Arsenal fans, it appears Arsenal are stranded with Nicklas Bendtner to provide the backup to Olivier Giroud. Giroud started the season well, but his form has faded in recent weeks, scoring only 2 goals in his last 6 Premier League appearances. It is clear for all to see that Arsenal crave a world class striker to complement the world class midfield players at their disposal, but Arsene Wenger decided to stick with the strikers in the squad to try and fire Arsenal to the title. Whether this be down to the lack of availability of world class strikers, or Arsene’s stubbornness to pay up (or perhaps faith in the players he has), whichever reason there was, it ended up with no new (fit) players at the Emirates.

Today we received the news that youngster Yaya Sanogo has returned from the injury that has seen him take part in no competitive matches for Arsenal, with his only appearance being in the Emirates Cup last summer. Sanogo is certainly not going to ride in heroically and fire Arsenal to title; however, he is another body to provide a bit of depth upfront that is desperately needed if the worst was to happen to Giroud.

After the car crash of a defeat to Liverpool at the weekend, the media have come out in force with their stories that place Arsenal in ‘turmoil’. Sanogo returned to training just in time to give Per Mertesacker a black eye, with Giroud apparently cheating on his wife in a ‘3am romp’ with another woman. That is of course, if you believe everything you read in the papers. It is very convenient that these stories have been released after a damaging defeat at Anfield, where the Gunners may as well of stayed on the team coach. The media are keen to promote Arsenal’s turmoil, with my favourite commentator (not) Michael Owen and the Match of the Day pundits licking their lips at Arsenal’s potential downfall to prove their negative predictions to be true.

One player that the media may be right in criticising recently is Mesut Ozil, who has been in worryingly poor form. With only 1 assist in his last 9 Premier League games and no goals, he has certainly gone off the boil since the very positive start to his Arsenal career. He was very poor against Liverpool at the weekend (but so was everyone in yellow) with two of his errors directly leading to goals, leading to him being substituted after an hour. There are calls for him to be dropped, but I think this might be a slight overreaction. There is no doubt that Ozil is a player that enjoys providing for others, on several occasions this season he has had the chance to shoot but chose a pass instead. Arsene Wenger said in September that Ozil’s “passing and his retention of the ball gives everyone time to move” so it could be possible that Ozil’s worth to the team is been overlooked due to the lack of fireworks he is providing at the moment. With Theo Walcott’s season ending knee injury, there is no pace around Ozil and a lack of runners in behind meaning that his trademark eye of a needle through balls cannot be used effectively. There is no doubt in my mind that Ozil will get better when he adapts properly to the pace and physicality of the English Premier League and settles properly into his new life in North London. Watch out for him next season.

I leave you with these stats from star playmakers in the Premier League: Juan Mata’s first season at Chelsea- 6 goals, 13 assists. David Silva’s first season at Man City- 4 goals, 7 assists. Mesut Ozil’s first 5 months at Arsenal- 4 goals, 8 assists. Not a bad start eh?

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Let me know what you think about Arsenal’s transfer window, the media and Mesut Ozil in the comments below!

Costa? Morata? Berbatov? Who will Arsenal sign this month?

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It’s January transfer window time again, that beautiful time of year filled with rumours sprayed across social media by the ‘ITK’s’, whilst the ‘reliable’ media link just about every player to every club. The truth is, no-one really knows for certain what will happen, which is what makes it so exciting. Hopefully there is another blockbuster finish to the window in store for us, with many top clubs still needing to bring in a player or two.

No team needs a new player more so than Arsenal, who are currently mulling over their striker dilemma. With Theo Walcott unfortunately ruled out for the season, Arsenal having been caught short in the striking department, especially now with Nicklas Bendtner out. There’s no doubt Arsenal are still short up top, so if there’s anything we can be fairly sure of in the turbulence and uncertainty of the January market, it’s that Wenger is on the hunt for a forward. Internally, the options are limited. Lukas Podolski seems to lack the movement to play as a lone striker, and with everyone else out injured (and with even Akpom loaned out), Olivier Giroud is left as the only fit and capable Arsenal striker.

Arsenal’s potential options are limited, especially in a World Cup year. There have of course been several strikers linked to the club, but the fans favourite option (and mine) seems to be Diego Costa. The 25 year old Athletico Madrid man would provide an outstanding long term option to give Giroud more competition upfront. There is no doubt about Costa’s goal scoring ability, impressively scoring 19 goals in 18 games this season in La Liga. With a reported buy-out clause of around 32 million, it seems a no brainer for the Gunners to sign the Spaniard, especially now that Wenger seems to have now found his wallet after the big money signing of Mesut Ozil last summer. However, Costa is very unlikely to want to risk leaving Athletico in a World Cup year when he is in such great form, and he has no need to, as Athletico are having a very successful season sitting 2nd in La Liga joint on points with Barcelona at the top, and an impressive 5 points above Real Madrid. He would also be cup tied for the Champions League, leading me to think that a summer move is more likely.

Alvaro Morata on loan is probably the most reported rumour around at this moment in time; however I have my doubts about how successful he would be at Arsenal on a short term basis. The loan would be for only 6 months, leaving him very little time to settle and to get used to the premier league’s physicality. The 21 year old has had limited game time at Madrid this season, making only 10 La Liga appearances scoring a mere 2 goals. However, 9 of these 10 appearances in the league have been from the bench to be fair to him. Signing him would be a definite gamble, and with a loan fee reported to be around 2 million pounds, I don’t think it’s worth the money or the risk of bringing in a raw and inexperienced forward at such a crucial point in Arsenal’s season.

From the inexperienced, to the very experienced, as the final rumour concerns Arsenal’s potential signing of 33 year old Fulham forward Dimitar Berbatov. I have mixed feelings about this one, as Berbatov has undoubted quality, but is also infamously a very lazy player. His work ethic is much lower than Giroud’s, so it is questionable if he would be able to play as a lone striker in Arsenal’s system not to mention his past history with Spurs. However, his style of play could fit in with Arsenal’s intricate build up, with his skilful flicks and ability to find space. I really think it could go either way, making signing him a risk too, but I guess you don’t win titles without taking a few risks along the way. With his 4 goals in 15 Premier League games this season, the signing of Berbatov would be very underwhelming, but his moments of brilliance could turn around crucial games.

For me, I wouldn’t mind signing Javier Hernandez from Manchester United. He’s quick and a great finisher but doesn’t get much game time at United, so it’s possible he might want to jump their sinking ship. I also haven’t even considered getting ‘The King’ Thierry Henry back on loan, which would be another interesting one!

Let me know who you think Arsenal should sign: Costa? Morata? Berbatov? Hernandez? Henry!? Or perhaps somebody else?

Originally written for: ‘SatinRowZ’- http://satinrowzblog.wordpress.com/