Unai Emery gives Wenger credit – but wants a new Arsenal future

Unai Emery is a quarter of the way into Arsenal’s first season without Arsene Wenger for absolutely yonks, and although the Gunners brought in five new signings, Emery has still got Wenger’s core for his squad and has somehow got them on a 13 game unbeaten run.

So it is interesting to read his answer when he was asked whether this is Emery’s Arsenal or still what he inherited from Arsene Wenger. “I don’t know,” the Spaniard replied. “but for me it’s very important that every day we continue improving things. But the most important thing, before I came here, this team, this club and these players had a lot of positive things and I want to share with him this capacity and this work in the past year. And then, give them my personal style and ideals also. But learning and doing things together with the past and in the present.

“Then, we want to write a new future here, to create a new future. But we are at the beginning but we need a lot of time more in the present and in the future but we think of each match. Tomorrow we have a chance to improve more things and to show every supporter our mentality, our ideas and our performance against a very big team. But thinking that we are in one process and this process is in our way because we can and we want to write a new history here. I want to do a big history.”

Well he has started well, and if after today’s massive test against Liverpool we are still on our unbeaten run, perhaps Gooners can start dreaming again!

Top spot target and Bellerin return to keep Arsenal sharp for Stoke

Arsene Wenger is clearly a bit concerned about the focus and commitment of his Arsenal team ahead of the visit of Stoke City for today’s Premier League match, as he spoke about the need to stay focused and not allow complacency to affect us in the Arsenal.com preview.

The Frenchman was also full of praise for the way the Gunners have been applying themselves of late and while he feels that there is still room for improvement, Wenger has been impressed with the determination to win and the fact that we have not rested on our laurels so far.

He said, “What has pleased me most [recently] is that we have played like a team who really wants to win each game and has a relentless attitude. What’s also pleased me is that when you have a big win, sometimes the focus goes. To reset, refocus and win again in a convincing way [is fantastic].

“We have had a good week until now but now we have to show we can finish it in a very positive way, and refocus to play a Stoke team who are in a completely different way to West Ham in terms of confidence. West Ham lacked confidence but Stoke are on the way up, so we have to prepare for that.

“Between confidence and complacency is a very short way – top-level competition doesn’t tolerate that. We want to keep our confidence level high but also our urgency level very high.

“On top of that I must say, [we need to keep] the desire to develop as a team. What pleased me most in the last two games is that we played like a real team: with authority, with a desire to play together and I still think we can do much better and that is what we want to focus on.”

I do not think we have to worry about Arsenal losing focus today. For one thing it looks like Wenger can freshen up the side with the return of players like Coquelin to the starting XI and probaly most importantly the return from injury of Hector Bellerin at right back.

Arsenal also have the chance of going top of the league, at least until Chelsea play tomorrow, so that target should be more than enough for Arsenal to stay sharp and get the win we all expect against Stoke.

Has late Alexis goal set Arsenal on winning run?

Even though Arsenal have fallen three points behind the top of the Premier League table club Chelsea and surrender control of our Champions League group during the month of November which was us fail to beat PSG, Tottenham and Man United, we Gooners cannot complain too much as the Gunners are still unbeaten since the first game of the season in all competitions.

Having said that, the string of draws was getting a bit worrying and it seemed to be weighing on the players just as much as it was disappointing the fans. Arsene Wenger has admitted that it was getting to him as well, in a report on the Arsenal website, but he reckons that all that built up tension will have been washed away by the win over Bournemouth on Sunday, just as the tension during that tight match was washed away when Alexis Sanchez scored late on to make the points safe.

Wenger said, “The late goal released some tension. Suddenly when we only make draws, it gets a little bit in the head of the players. For us, I think it was an important step to win against Bournemouth, and having watched the game again, I think we played better than I thought straight after the game.

“That’s because the tension is there during a game – you absolutely want to win – so the emotional impact is a bit bigger than when you watch with a cooler head.”

There should certainly be less anxiety in the Arsenal dugout today and in the crowd and hopefully that will show itself on the pitch as well and that should help the players to perform and get Arsenal going on another good run again. Do you think we have put nervous November firmly behind us?

Arsenal to start Giroud at Ludogorets but who else?

It is not a 100 percent accurate way of telling which Arsenal players will be in the starting line-up, but almost every time Arsene Wenger chooses one of the Gunners to do a press conference with him then that player will be in the team.

Yesterday the Arsenal boss spoke to the football media as Arsenal prepare for the Champions League away tie with Ludogorets and it was the two goal hero from Saturday’s win at Sunderland, Olivier Giroud, who fielded questions alongside Wenger, as the match preview in The Mirror shows.

This is hardly surprising with the big French forward back and raring to go after a spell out of the side with injury, but with the manager also stating hi9s determination to finish on top of our Champions League group for the first time in seven years, it will be interesting to see how many other changes he makes and whether he rests some of the big players for the north London derby clash with Tottenham at the weekend.

Wenger said, “Finishing first is our prime target. Step by step: qualify first. We have played Paris Saint-Germain away, and play them at home to come.

“We have a good opportunity to finish top. It is an advantage because you play the second game in the last 16 at home, so you know exactly what you have to achieve at home.

“You have the support. If it goes to extra-time or penalties, you play at home. So it’s a little advantage.

“But if you can finish first, why finish second? We have paid the price many times when we’ve finished second, having to play Barcelona or Bayern Munich. So we think it’s important.”

The prof has learnt the hard way over the last six seasons what finishing second can mean so it sounds like he is determined not to do so this year. However we already have to do without Monreal, Walcott, Cazorla and Bellerin, so I think he cannot afford to rest any more first choice Gunners, making my line-up look like this.

Ospina
Jenkinson, Mustafi, Koscielny, Gibbs
Xhaka, Ramsey
Chamberlain, Ozil, Alexis
Giroud

Is this how you want Arsenal to line up tonight?

Arsenal fans’ BIG laugh at Mourinho and Man United

I don’t know about the rest of you Arsenal fans out there but I was certainly a bit worried when the news broke at the end of last season that Manchester United would be parting company with their Dutch manager Louis van Gaal and replacing him with the former Chelsea and Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho.

It looks like I need not have bothered though, because those United fans that were so happy a short time ago may well now be wishing that they had stuck with old LVG. At least he won them a trophy, with the FA cup success in his final game in charge. At the minute it looks like Mourinho and Man United would be hard put to win a coin toss.

Just as happened in his final season at Chelsea, the wheels seem to be coming off the Mourinho bus at Old Trafford and he cannot even seem to park it anymore after getting a pasting away to his former club last weekend. The stories of United players unhappy with the manager are growing and the latest from Metro suggests that the brother of the England left back Luke Shaw has been slamming Jose on Twitter and calling him a C**t (see you next Tuesday).

And the Arsenal fans on social media have been no kinder to the Portuguese pillock and who can blame us after the way he has been with our own manager Arsene Wenger, a man with more class in his little finger than Mourinho has in his whole body.

So when the news broke about the United boss being miserable as he was living alone in a hotel, it was the cue for some funny tweets from Gooners around the net, as reported by Metro, with some comparing his situation to that of Alan Partridge and another dubbing him the specialist in misery.

Revenge is sweet is it not Arsenal fans?

Will Arsenal push on after ‘best performance in years’?

It is not like Arsene Wenger to go over the top when Arsenal have a good game, just as the Frenchman is usually the voice of calm and reason when the Gunners suffer the setback of a bad performance or result, so it was a bit different to hear the Arsenal boss waxing lyrical about the team after the demolition of Chelsea at the Emirates stadium yesterday.

Perhaps it was down to all the frustration we have had with the Blues in recent years, or ever since Jose Mourinho and the crazy spending of Roman Abramovic changed everything. This certainly was an overdue win but it was the nature of the match that had Wenger buzzing, as reported by Metro.

The boss hailed this as one of the best performances from an Arsenal team for years, suggesting that the first half, in which we scored three good goals and could have had more while completely nullifying any threat from the likes of Hazard and Costa, was close to perfection.

He said, ‘There were times in the first half it was nearly perfect. We played with style, pace and movement, and that’s the style we want to play,’ said Wenger after the match.

‘It’s one of those moments in your life as a manager when you think, ‘Today it is a great day’ – especially in the first half.

‘We wanted to play this high pace and put them under ­pressure, play at the very high speed and it worked quite well.

‘I felt in the last three weeks the team was on the way up and this was a test to see if it was real. We confirmed it — from the goalkeeper to the centre forward you cannot fault any performance.

‘I’d say that was one of our best performances in recent years. The inconvenient facts were to get those recent defeats out of our system and we did that.’

If the manager was using this clash with our London rivals as a yardstick to measure just how well equipped Arsenal are for an assault on the Premier League title then no wonder he was pleased. But should we also take into account how poor the visitors were and keep our feet on the ground until we see whether the Gunners will push on from this performance?

Arsenal in trouble as Barcelona reveal Bellerin transfer plans

Arsenal have been on the receiving end of this sort of thing from the current Spanish La Liga champions before, most notably when the Barca players led an orchestrated and determined campaign to let our then captain Cesc Fabregas know that he was wanted at the Nou Camp without the Catalan club having to make an official approach.

The pressure went on and Fabregas made it clear to Arsene Wenger and Arsenal that he wanted to return to Spain to play for his boyhood club where he had been at the famous La Masia academy as a youth player. Just like he did with Fabregas, Wenger took our current right back Hector Bellerin from Barca and gave him the chances to p[lay that he would not have got had he stayed.

We can only hope that Bellerin does not make the same decision as Fabregas and perhaps the struggles that the current Chelsea man had on his return will help. But it seems inevitable that Arsenal will soon be facing a transfer battle for the young Spaniard, as a report by The Mirror explains that their vice president Jordi Mestre all but confirmed their desire to get Bellerin back.

He said, “We’ve already seen him as a Cule! He’s a great player, there’s no doubt about that.

“Wenger convinced him to move [in 2011] and promised him something which we couldn’t.

“We could not promise him that within two years he would be playing in Dani Alves’ place.

“In many cases it’s good that they leave to develop as players and then return [with that experience].

“Look at the cases of Cesc [Fabregas], [Gerard] Pique, [Jordi] Alba and Denis Suarez… I hope the same thing will happen with [Sergi] Samper, too.

“It’s positive that [these players] get minutes at other clubs. It is dynamic which has always provided good results for players that carry the Barca DNA in their blood.”

Apparently Arsenal are currently in talks with the rapid right back and his people over a new contract so hopefully that gets sorted as soon as possible, but could we be set to see another Gunner go back to Barca?

Arsenal boss looking for weakness as Man Utd host Man City

The Manchester derby is clearly the big match of the Premier League weekend, but Arsene Wenger has got his own things to worry about as he prepares the Arsenal squad for the visit of Southampton to the Emirates stadium today.

It is a game that the Gunners need to win and one from which we expect to take all three points, especially aftyer their slow start to life under the new manager Claude Puel. But the fact that he knows Wenger from his time in charge of Monaco may just give Puel a helping hand and we cannot afford to take this game lightly.

So our manager will be fully focused on the job at hand, but when his work is done and the points are hopefully in the bag, the Frenchman will be turning his wise old football eyes and brain onto the clash between Manchester United and Man City at Old Trafford.

Not only is this the clash between the two biggest spending clubs in the world right now, it is the clash between probably the two biggest managers, Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho, and Wenger will be keeping a close eye on how the two perform as well as the teams and individual players.

He said, “The two teams have started well so the game will have more psychological impact than a mathematical impact,” said Wenger. “You could say the team that wins will straight away be branded as the favourites to win the Premier League in May, but it is a bit early.

“But it will be interesting to watch. I am like you, I will watch that game and see a little bit what strengths and weaknesses come out of the two teams.

“I will watch the game again, yes [after our game]. Most of the time [I look out for] the turning points of the game because normally people after the game speak only about the results, but we know inside the game that there are some turning points where a guy missed the final ball, or someone was offside and if he had not been offside they would have been 1-0 up.

“[I look for] the potential of the teams as well, the organisation, the decisions of the managers during the game. All these kinds of things, you are relaxed enough to observe it.”

You can be fairly sure that these two clubs will be right up there at the end of the season, but will Arsenal be up there with them and will Wenger find any weaknesses to exploit?

Arsenal set to FINALLY complete defender transfer

I will never understand why Arsene Wenger felt it was alright to go into the new Premier League season with an Arsenal squad lacking in enough strength and options in the key areas of attack and defence. Most people saw that need before the end of last season but we are still waiting for the Frenchman to do something about it.

It was a month ago when Arsenal travelled to Lens for the first game of pre-season and that was when Per Mertesacker got his injury, so the manager has known since then he would be short at the back, as he also knew that Koscielny would be a late returner from Euro 2016.

If that did not make our transfer need urgent then the loss of Gabriel to another injury two weeks ago should have set alarm bells ringing and then conceding four goals against Liverpool should have seen us sign a defender the next day, but finally it seems that it is going to happen, as Wenger revealed in The Mirror that he was very close to a deal being done.

He said, “Yes we are close [to another signing]. But I would say spending in itself is not a quality. Spending and buying the right players is a quality.

“I am a bit fed up to always respond to the same things. We look and analyse absolutely everything and we have to make the right decisions.”

Well us Arsenal fans are fed up of the club sitting on loads of cash while the boss dithers in the transfer market. Is this summer of transfer disappointment the last straw for all you angry Gooners out there?

Striker backs Arsenal to get going at Watford

One of the low points of last season for Arsenal, and there were quite a few of them as we failed yet again to make a decent job of challenging for the Premier League title or the Champions League, was the end of our hopes of making it three FA cup wins in a row.

That FA cup loss at home to Watford in March was an awful performance by the Gunners, but it was also something of a surprise, as we did beat the Hornets comfortably at home and away in the league, with an aggregate score of 7-0over the two matches.

After winning just one point from our first two EPL games of the season so far, we really need that trend to continue when Arsenal arrive at Vicarage Road on Saturday and our England international star Theo Walcott is confident it will, as a Sky Sports report explains.

The speedy forward is taking nothing for granted but he feels that Watford will be an easier team to beat than Liverpool and Leicester City and he thinks that Arsenal will keep improving after the difficult start to the current campaign.

Theo said, “We’ve got a nice run of games now and we’ve got to think about all of the positives.

“Watford is going to be another tough game because every game is this season, so it’s going to be very difficult.

“Each team gets better each year. We want to have a similar sort of performance to when we last played Watford away.

“It doesn’t matter how we play, as long as we get the three points.

“Leicester know how to defend very well and like to put pretty much the whole team behind the ball, so it’s difficult to break them down.

“We had chances to score but sadly we failed to do that.

“We don’t want teams getting away from us [in the title race], but it’s only two games in.”

We certainly do not but the pressure is already on and Arsenal are already playing catch-up. Will that title chase start properly at Watford?