Can Arsenal and Arsene Wenger bounce back in the Premier League?

There will have been mixed feelings towards the end of the 2016/17 campaign for Arsenal, with the joy of lifting the FA Cup, slightly overshadowed by the club’s failure to qualify for next season’s Champions League. After agreeing a new two-year deal at the Emirates Stadium, Arsene Wenger will find himself under pressure in his 22nd season with the Gunners, with a return to the top four an absolute must for the North Londoners.

It is not only a return to the top four that Arsenal fans want to see; they want to see their club competing for the Premier League title, which has eluded them since 2004. Last season, the Gunners were way off the pace, finishing the campaign fifth and 18 points behind eventual champions, Chelsea.

Arsène Wenger” (CC BY 2.0) by Ronnie Macdonald

Wenger’s side are 12/1 to lift the Premier League trophy for the first time in over a decade next season, but punters can take the edge off an unlikely wager with a range of free bets, such as a £20 welcome bonus. Arsenal’s supporters will be hoping that the recent signing of Alexandre Lacazette solves the striking issues at the club, with the Gunners struggling to properly replace Robin van Persie, who left the club back in 2012.

If Wenger’s latest French striker can reproduce his 2016/17 form in the Premier League, Arsenal will be set for an improvement next term. Lacazette scored 36 goals from just 44 appearances across all competitions for Lyon last season, helping the French outfit finish fourth in Ligue 1. The addition of the 26-year-old could prove crucial in Wenger’s bid to keep Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil at the Emirates, as the signing of the French international is a show of real ambition from Arsenal’s long-serving manager.


Sanchez will again be key for Arsenal next season, and if Wenger has any chance of bringing the glory days back to North London, the Chilean international will be vital. The Gunners will need the forward to rediscover his stunning 2016/17 form and be the talisman at the Emirates Stadium next year.

The rest of the transfer window will also be key for Wenger and Arsenal, with many hoping that the Gunners add steel to the spine of their team, which has proved to be their Achilles heel on so many occasions in recent years.

There is no doubting that the next 12 months are the most important in Wenger’s time with Arsenal, as they could potentially define his time in North London. However, the Frenchman has made all the right noises so far this summer, and the addition of Lacazette should see the Gunners once again compete for a place in the top four.

If Wenger can keep the likes of Sanchez and Ozil in North London, and continue to add players to his squad, there is every chance that Arsenal will be more than a match for some of the division’s frontrunners. The Manchester clubs are once again tipped to set the pace in the Premier League, but the Gunners will be entering the campaign determined to right the wrongs of last season. 

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Is Lacazette an improvement on what Arsenal already have?

Make no mistake about it, Alexandre Lacazette would be a marquee signing for any top European side and the fact that Arsenal have managed to acquire his signature without the lure of Champions League football represents a real coup for the club.

The forward recently signed a five-year deal with the North London giants for an initial fee, which is believed to be about £46.5 million but could rise to £52 million in potential bonuses. Arsene Wenger has made no secret of his desire to sign Lacazette and the Gunners have been repeatedly linked with the French striker for the last few seasons.

It wouldn’t be much of a stretch to label the 26-year-old as prolific – he scored an impressive 100 goals in 203 appearances for Lyon and has managed more than 20 goals in Ligue 1 for the last three consecutive seasons. Wenger has finally got the player he wants but the question remains, is Lacazette the player Arsenal really need?

Source: The Independent

With Olivier Giroud arguably Arsenal’s number one out and out striker, much has been made about the future of the big Frenchman and how/if he will fit into the Arsenal team due to Lacazette’s arrival. Whilst Lacazette obviously guarantees goals, Giroud’s scoring record is not to be scoffed at and the former Montpellier man has netted 69 goals in 164 appearances in the four seasons he’s spent at the club.

More importantly, Giroud, at 6’4, is more effective in holding the play up and is far more potent in the air than the 5’9 Lacazette. In his time at Arsenal, Giroud has won 4.4 aerial duels per 90 minutes as opposed to Lacazette’s 1 at Lyon and has an aerial duel success rate of 55.5% compared to Lacazette’s fairly paltry 36.1%.

The formidable forward demonstrated his aerial prowess in the Premier League last season in games such as Bournemouth away, where the Gunners came back from 3-0 down to draw 3-3 and at Manchester United last November where he earned his team a valuable 1-1 draw against Jose Mourinho’s men with a last minute bullet header.

Source: BBC Sport

Whilst it could be argued that there’s a stat to back almost anything up nowadays, the striker situation surrounding the French national team is perhaps more telling when it comes to the merits of both players. Giroud has started the last three games for France and remains the main man up top despite Lacazette’s eye for goal, indicating that that Didier Deschamps may feel the former brings more to the team both offensively and defensively.

France are 13/2 with various international football betting websites to lift the World Cup in Russia next year and the 31st August sees them take on the Netherlands at the Stade de France in a World Cup Qualifier which France probably need to win in order to avoid a dreaded play-off fixture.

With a quick glance at the recently released Premier League fixture list, Arsenal look to have three tough games on paper before Lacazette and Giroud join up with their national team. Arsenal welcome 2015/2016 Premier League Champions Leicester to the Emirates in the first fixture of the Premier League season on the 12th August before two tough away games at Stoke and Liverpool, respectively.

Both neutral onlookers and diehard Arsenal fans alike will be watching with keen interest to see just how Arsenal line up and more importantly, how Lacazette settles into the Premier League. With recent reports linking Giroud with a move away from the Emirates, only time will tell as to whether the two French strikers will get a chance to battle for the red jersey.

Gunners Set for Testing Pre-Season Schedule

Source: Arsenal via Facebook.

For the first time in two decades, Arsenal will not be a participant in the UEFA Champions League. In staying on as Arsenal manager, Arsene Wenger has endeared himself yet further in the eyes of the majority of the Emirates faithful. Conversely, he has also incensed the ever-growing faction of Arsenal fans that crave a new face in the dugout, with fresh ideas and a clear vision for the coming generations. With the teams that did qualify for next season’s Champions League set to grow ever stronger, Wenger may need to bank on a Europa League triumph, and gain qualification to the Champions League via that route.

Once more, free from the distraction of international football, Arsenal have prepared well for the upcoming season. A tour of Australia will enable Wenger’s men to bond and release their wrath upon opposition that could be considered equal to a few teams that are guaranteed to be in the Europa League group stage, but amongst the lowest seeded sides. In playing a number of reserves against A-League opposition, Wenger will know exactly how ready his rotation players are for the likes of Zorya Luhansk and FC Lugano. These are potential ‘banana skins’ that could disrupt Arsenal’s bid for Europa League success, as reflected by odds (as of 16 June 2017) of 10/1 from Paddy Power for Arsenal to win the competition outright. In winning the Europa League, Arsenal would have a first European trophy since the 1994 Cup Winners Cup.

Following on from the Australian tour is the first match of an International Champions Cup pre-season tournament. Red, white and neutral alike, every cynical follower of football culture on social media believes that Arsenal’s ICC run will end at the first hurdle, against a Bayern Munich side they are seemingly incapable of beating. Then Arsenal will face two opponents that will provide the greatest reflection yet of the Gunners’ readiness for a Europa League run – namely, Benfica and Sevilla.

Benfica will only meet Arsenal in European competition, for the first time in 27 years, if they finish third in their Champions League group and join them in the Europa League group stage. Three years ago, Arsenal used home advantage against Benfica as they will aspire to this summer, beating the current champions of Portugal 5-1 and making a real statement of intent after yet another fourth-placed finish. One player that Arsenal will ignore at their peril is Mexican striker Raul Jimenez, with the 26-year old hitting seven goals in nineteen appearances last season.

It only gets harder for Arsenal, with a Sevilla side now managed by Eduardo Berizzo visiting the Emirates a day later. It will be the first meeting between the sides in ten years, with each club winning its group stage home game against the other in the 2007/08 Champions League. In the interim, Sevilla have won three European trophies in consecutive years, while Arsenal – as already noted – have won none. Sevilla manager Berizzo will undoubtedly make life difficult for Wenger. Notably, he recently transformed Celta Vigo from a struggling side to Europa League semi-finalists in the space of just two years.

Semi-competitive though the Emirates Cup is, only lifting it will put Arsenal in the frame of mind they must occupy to make 2017/18 a success, especially with the Gunners having the fillip of home advantage.

Arsenal Winger Tella Has Left Arsenal And Joined Southampton On A Permanent Deal

capturearsenal

It is going to be a huge rebuilding job at the Emirates for whoever is in charge come the start of the new campaign. With the clubs key personnel including the manager along with star players Ozil and Sanchez yet to decide their future, the heart could be ripped out and need emergency surgery to fit it. One player that has just confirmed that he has left Arsenal is Tella who has joined Southampton on a permanent basis. The young winger could be one of many that leave during the summer months.

Tella has been able to join Southampton due to The Gunners telling the young winger that his contract with the club would not be extended at the end of the campaign. The player has been at Southampton on trial which he confirms early in the month. Things have gone well for him at Southampton and were keen to join them. Arsenal has not stood in the player’s way and has allowed him to leave. He has been at Emirates for a decade but has never reached his full potential due to a lack of playing time.

Tella is only 17 years old and has bags of potential to make it to the very top. If he is going to do it he needs playing time at one of the clubs in the EPL so he can develop into a top class winger. With Southampton’s policy of developing young talent, it is a great match for the midfielder and it will give him the better chance of getting regular playing time.

Tella is a player full of promise but presently he will not be missed as Arsenal have plenty of quality player that play in his position. If however both Ozil and Sanchez leave, this will completely destroy a team that is built around the two star players. Ozil is the most likely one out of the two that will stay due to his huge wages and lazy attitude that will put off a number of the top teams that can afford his salary. The bigger loss will be Sanchez and he is a player that will be extremely difficult to replace. Without him, the team will be a lot weaker which is something they cannot afford as they are already going to struggle to qualify for the Champions League next season.

A growing number of Gunner Fans want to see manager Wenger resign from his position as manager but the rumors are that he is determined to stay. If the club does not qualify for the Champions League the pressure will mount and it is hard to see him staying. Their form both in the EPL and Champions League has been dreadful since the turn of the year and if things do not change fast they are in danger of falling apart.

With so much uncertainty at the club, it will hinder their chances of qualifying for the Champions League. One wager that is worth considering is for both Arsenal and Man U to fail to qualify for next year’s competition. If you do fancy putting some money on this make sure you get a £30 free football bet with one of the top bookmakers.

 

Arsenal set to face Man Utd U23s with more questions than answers

Arsenal drew 3-3 with Man City in the Under-23 league on Monday – in a result that showed loads of promise, but plenty of flaws.

Donyell Malen, one of the hottest prospects in the country, scored yet again. So did the exciting Reiss Nelson, while Carl Jenkinson also netted on his return from injury.

But the same difficult problems continued at the back, with even new-boy Cohen Bramall not being able to shore up the defence. It’s a worrying trend that has dogged Arsenal’s youth teams in recent years.

Why aren’t the Gunners producing exciting young defenders? It has been a long-time since we had a world class centre back come through the system.

Will we see some soon? Don’t bet on it, although if you’re a betting man, check out the latest on odds here.

Meanwhile, Arsenal face Manchester United in the Under-23 league shortly, offering another big test against a big-name rival.

It will be interesting to see whether a strong team is named, with Yaya Sanogo likely to get another go, or whether more youngsters will get a chance.

Transfer latest

The transfer window may have slammed firmly shut until the summer but that has not stopped the rumour mill turning at Arsenal.

However, most of the talk has been about manager Arsene Wenger and whether or not he will still be in charge next season.

The smart money seems to be on the Frenchman leaving and, unless the Gunners can pull off a miracle in the second leg of their Champions League last-16 clash with Bayern Munich, he may have no choice.

The fans have become disillusioned with mediocrity at the north London club and an unwillingness to bring in world-class names.

One superstar who did arrive is Alexis Sanchez but the Chile international has been linked with a summer exit.

At 28, he is still at the peak of his powers and could command a first-team place in most top European clubs, and Arsenal may have to work extremely hard in the summer to keep him on their books.

Mesut Ozil is a player who has flattered to deceive this season and another who might be on his way at the end of the campaign.

The Germany international appears to drift in and out of games and is as likely to be ineffective as he is to create a goal with a precision pass or match-winning piece of skill.

The fans have not turned on him yet but how much patience will they show?

One man who has had to show patience is forward Lucas Perez, who has made only six top-flight appearances since making the move from Deportivo La Coruna last summer.

The 28-year-old has scored six goals from 15 outings in all competitions but is not a first-team regular and may have his sights set on a future in Milan.

The Spaniard is clearly not in Wenger’s plans but would he feature more if a new coach is at the helm next term?

Another player rumoured to be on the radar of other clubs is England international Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

The former Southampton man seems to have been around for ever but is still only 23 years of age and has most of his career ahead of him.

He has never been a regular fixture in the Arsenal side and it remains to be seen whether the talented youngster wants to try his luck elsewhere.

The Portsmouth-born ace has been on top form in recent months despite the team’s struggles but rumours suggest Everton and Manchester City could battle for his signature in the off-season.

Arsenal are 10 points off table-topping Chelsea with 13 games to go and even punters looking for the best matched bet promotions might struggle to find a reason to back them to lift the trophy in May.

The news that Santi Cazorla is now out for the rest of the season will do nothing to lift the mood around the Emirates Stadium and it may well be down to the FA Cup to give the Gunners’ faithful a much-needed boost.

They next face minnows Lincoln City in the quarter-finals and, if Wenger is to lift one more trophy during his time in the capital, it will surely have to come in the world’s oldest cup competition.