5 things we learned from Arsenal’s Community Shield triumph

Arsenal lifted the Community Shield for the third time in four years on Sunday after securing a deserved victory over a sluggish Chelsea side. It came seven weeks after they beat Antonio Conte’s men in the same stadium to win the FA Cup and provides a nice psychological boost going into the new Premiership season. Arsenal finished 18 points behind the Blues last campaign so there is a lot of ground to make up, but the signs are very encouraging. Here are five things we learned from the Arsenal’s Community Shield victory.

Sead Kolasinac could become a cult hero at The Emirates

Pep Guardiola has blown more than £100 million on signing full-backs this summer, but a man signed by Arsene Wenger on a free transfer could eclipse the lot. Kolasinac came on for the injured Per Mertesacker a third of the way through the game and ended up running the show. He burst forward with remarkable pace and energy, he was strong in the tackle and great in the air. With Arsenal trailing 1-0, he nodded past Thibaut Courtois to equalise and force a penalty shootout, which the Gunners won with ease. He was the hero on the day, but what stood out most was his strength. Kolasinac has shoulders like an ox and he sent Pedro flying with the tiniest of barges, showing he is not a man to be messed with. Arsenal need more characters like him and he could soon find adulation among the fans.

Alexandre Lacazette looks like an upgrade on Arsenal’s current crop

Lacazette had the best goal scoring record in France since Jean-Pierre Papin in the late 1980s and early 1990s and he commanded a huge transfer fee. But it looks to be £52 million well spent as Lacazette is just what Arsenal need up front. Olivier Giroud is a decent finisher but outrageously slow, while Danny Welbeck is quick but far from lethal in front of goal, and there are signs that Lacazette could fuse the best parts of both of them to form an exciting whole. He was unlucky to be denied by the post with a first half strike, and there were shades of Thierry Henry about his technique. He may not be the next Henry, but if he could emulate someone like Ian Wright or Nicolas Anelka, he would be a vast upgrade on what the Gunners already have.

Granit Xhaka is growing in composure

The Swiss was a £35 million flop last season, frequently getting himself sent off, giving away penalties, losing the ball and mistiming tackles. But he improved exponentially towards the end of the campaign, starring against Chelsea in the cup final, and he seems to have continued his upward curve. He walked off with the Man of the Match award in the Community Shield final after laying on Kolasinac’s goal and bossing the midfield with an assured range of passing and a quiet authority. He is not the holding midfielder Arsenal fans were expecting, but he is instead capable of negating the loss of the crocked Santi Cazorla.

Arsenal can get more than 74 points this season

Last season Arsenal broke the record for the most points a team finishing fifth had ever accrued. Arsenal’s 75 points saw them finish one below fourth-placed Liverpool and the Gunners missed their usual top four spot for the first time in Wenger’s 21-year tenure. To be on the safe side this time around Wenger has set his side a target of achieving a minimum of 85 points so that they can challenge for the title. In the latest sports spread betting from Sporting Index you can buy Arsenal at 74 points and that looks a great option as they should comfortably exceed that tally. The Gunners typically get off to a strong start and challenge when there is not a major summer tournament and there seems to be positivity in the dressing room at present. Arsenal have a strong squad and a huge focus on the Premiership so it would not be a surprise to see them get more than 80 points.

Chelsea are in disarray

Beating Chelsea at Wembley twice in seven weeks is something to savour for any Arsenal fan. The Blues look out of sorts, undercooked and underwhelming at present, and they may struggle to wade out of their malaise. If they continue like this it means one less title rival for Arsenal to contend with. Last time Arsenal beat them in the Community Shield, back in 2015, the Blues finished 10th. Here’s hoping for a repeat of that. 

Author bio

Martin Green is an Arsenal fan and looks forward to seeing more of Kolasinac and Lacazette.

Analysis: Has Mesut Ozil reached his true potential at Arsenal?

The main story at Arsenal this summer surrounds the future of Alexis Sanchez, who has just one year left on his contract and is drawing admiring glances from Europe’s elite. The churning of the rumour mill is reaching a deafening crescendo and Arsenal fans are in for a nerve shredding few weeks. Arsene Wenger has vowed not to sell his star man, but the Arsenal faithful have heard that tune before and it ended with Wenger cashing in on the likes of Robin van Persie and Samir Nasri rather than risk losing them on a free transfer the following summer. Supporters would be devastated as Sanchez has been their best player in recent years and everyone is following the story with bated breath.

Amid this hubbub and consternation it is easy to forget that Mesut Ozil is in the exact same situation. The German playmaker, signed the year before Sanchez and for a larger fee, also has just one year remaining on his contract. If the club cannot tie him down to a new deal, they risk losing him on a free next summer. But fans do not seem particularly bothered about this, nor does the media. Why is that?

For starters, Ozil is not nearly as influential and his absence would appear far less detrimental to the team’s chances of success next season. He was inconsistent during the last campaign, and Europe’s best clubs are certainly not queuing up to sign him. Ozil has vaguely suggested that he would like to extend his stay at The Emirates – while Sanchez has been a lot less forthcoming and has even signalled his desire to play Champions League football next season, something the Gunners cannot offer – but it appears Ozil has little choice in the matter given his lack of suitors.

He arrived at Arsenal four years ago after becoming surplus to requirements at Real Madrid, who had just purchased Gareth Bale in a world record deal and needed to recoup some cash. But the apoplectic reaction of Cristiano Ronaldo told Arsenal fans they had a top player on their hands. Ozil was the assist king of La Liga and Ronaldo would miss him dreadfully. The price was also phenomenal for Arsenal: £45 million, more than doubling their existing transfer record. He was hailed as the greatest number 10 in the world, the heir apparent to Dennis Bergkamp. Has he delivered on that potential?

Not really. Ozil has shown flashes of brilliance, but too frequently he has failed to come up with the goods when his team needed him the most. He got off to a flier in his debut season, dovetailing sublimely with Aaron Ramsey and leading Gooners to dream of that elusive title win. But as Arsenal’s form fell off a cliff in the second half of the season, so too did Ozil’s. That is something you need to be aware of when measuring Ozil’s talent: when the team is on song, Ozil shines. He has proven that time and time again for Germany, and he has been rewarded with a World Cup winners’ medal and a virtual monopoly on the German player of the year gong in recent years. But when the going gets tough, Ozil has a habit of going missing.

He works a lot harder than he is given credit for, but he is not exactly the type of player to grab a game by the scruff of the neck and inspire his teammates to victory. Ozil is a subtle player, all graceful touches, delicate flicks, ethereal movement and purr-inducing passing. He needs sharp, quick and direct players like Ronaldo and Thomas Muller around him if he is to shine. There is no point playing sublime through balls if the likes of Olivier Giroud and Yaya Sanogo lack the pace or the nous to make the runs.

Notably Ozil’s best Arsenal season was 2015/16, when the cumbersome Giroud was not too heavily relied upon and speedsters Theo Walcott and Sanchez enjoyed a long run of games. Ozil earned 19 assists that campaign and looked destined to break the record for the most goals created in a season. But again his form declined and in the second half of the season he teed up far fewer chances as Leicester swept past Arsenal and the record was not his.

Last season was one of real inconsistency for Ozil: he added goals to his game but the assists dried up, and very few Arsenal fans now compare him to Bergkamp. Has he reached his true potential? Hopefully not. There is a distinct chance that he will line up alongside Alexandre Lacazette, Thomas Lemar and Sanchez next season and all three of them are quick, direct and great off the ball. They will flourish if they have an intelligent playmaker acting as creator in chief, and that is a role Ozil was born to fill. If the rest of the team is on song, Ozil could be a world-beater, a Player of the Year contender, and Arsenal could actually challenge for the title. The bare minimum should be the top four next season and if you like to bet on football then the even money you can get on them finishing in the Champions League places once again looks a great option. Arsenal’s attack could become a frightening blend of pace and intelligence next season and we might finally see Ozil reach his true potential.

Author bio

Martin Green is an experienced sports writer and tipster and has covered the Premiership for many years. He is an Arsenal fan and believes the best is yet to come from Ozil.

Could this Chelsea reject come good at Arsenal?

It is safe to say that the Juventus star Juan Cuadrado had a rather disappointing six months at Chelsea, struggling to compete against the likes of Willian and Hazard. But if reports from the media are to believed, the Colombian winger might just get a second crack at the Premier League with the Blues’ London rivals, Arsenal.

According to a report from the Sun, the Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is keen on bringing the pacey wide man to the Emirates. The report from the Sun further states that the Frenchman has already seen a £17.6 million bid rejected for the player, with Juventus holding out for a transfer fee in the region of £30 million.

It is understood that Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri is willing to listen to offers for Cuadrado, but will only sell at the ‘right price’. But perhaps the most alarming part of the story is that it claims that Wenger is scouting the 29-year-old winger as a direct replacement for the Gunners’ talisman, Alexis Sanchez.

Now while the player has got his career back on track since his move to Turin, it is safe to say that he is nowhere close to the quality of the Chilean. During his first stint in England, he lacked consistency and looked very feeble on the ball and hardly got any further opportunities before being shipped out to Italy. So how is it going to be any different the second time?

Well, coming from the Sun, the story has to be taken with a pinch of salt. In all honesty, Cuadrado would not even fit the role of a squad player at Arsenal, never mind taking over from Alexis Sanchez. What is worrying to see is the quality of the players we are being linked with is reducing with each name. From Mbappe, to Lacazette, to Cuadrado. At this rate, I would not be surprised if we are linked with Joe Allen!


Will Arsenal really break the bank to keep Alexis?

After reports from various sources in the media, including the reliable Sky Sports, emerged yesterday claiming that Bayern Munich had dropped out of the race to sign the Arsenal forward Alexis Sanchez, a report from the Daily Mail is now claiming that Arsenal have tabled a lucrative £270,000-a-week offer for Alexis to renew terms and stay at the Emirates.

Despite being short of the player’s demands which is understood to be around £300,000-a-week, the report from the Mail claims that the offer is loaded with incentives that take the package closer towards the range of £300k. The news comes on the heels of Wenger claiming that the Gunners are in a much stronger position to keep its best players compared to the time when Robin van Persie was sold to Manchester United.

Personally, I would take this news with a pinch of salt. While reports that Bayern have pulled out due to the player’s wage demands does seem to have a degree of credibility to it considering that Bayern have a limit of around £160,000-a-week in terms of player wages, I find it incredibly hard to believe that Arsenal are willing to pay upto £300k a week for the services of one player, despite the player being Alexis Sanchez.

But looking at the fact that the club are in a much better financial position compared to recent years and the very real possibility of slipping even lower with all the other big teams spending big, perhaps the club are finally willing to invest. But whether Alexis is willing to play in the Europa League is a totally different question altogether. Perhaps he can be convinced to stay for one season with a promise of being allowed to leave if the club do not make it the next season, like Suarez’s last season at Liverpool?

In any case, there is no question that Alexis Sanchez deserves to be paid the amount he’s asking for. With high returns in terms of goals and assists, peak fitness levels and arguably the best work ethic in the Premier League, the Chilean surely deserves to be one of the Premier League’s highest-paid stars. With that being said, I really hope to see El Nino Maravilla in an Arsenal shirt next season, although it would be a good idea not to get hopes up!

Arsenal will only pay what they can afford……

After a report from the Evening Standard claimed that Arsenal had tabled a mammoth £300,000 a week offer to try and persuade star man Alexis Sanchez to stay at the Emirates, the Gunners boss Arsene Wenger has spoken out about the situation and given his opinion not just on the contract saga revolving around the Chilean but also about the practice of big-name players being paid astronomical wages.

As quoted by Sky Sports, the Arsenal boss said: “You have many different opinions there. Some people tell me ‘just give him what he wants’, but then you cannot respect anymore any wages structure and you put the club in trouble as well.

“That is why you have to make the decision in an objective way. Always the club has to be the priority. I understand as well that top players is a big priority but, at the end of the day, even for important players you can only pay as much as you can afford.

“I cannot confirm that we have offered that. We will do as always. We have to consider our financial potential to sustain the wages for the whole squad.”

Surely, it’s no surprise to any Arsenal fan that Wenger refused to confirm that the offer has been made. But what is interesting here is that the Frenchman refused to confirm that such an offer has NOT been put on the table either. While that may not exactly suggest that a £300,000 a week offer has indeed been made, the fact that Wenger didn’t just rubbish the rumor is strange to say the least.

While he did express his discontent about big-name players being paid astronomical wages by well-to-do clubs, the fact that he refused to rubbish the report tends to get one thinking. It is no secret that Alexis is the best player Arsenal have at the moment and surely, the club will try it’s utmost to keep it’s prized asset in North London.

But does that mean tabling a £300,000 a week offer? Considering that it’s Arsenal we are talking about here, it is difficult to believe. But if the board is serious about moving forward, then Alexis has to be retained by any means necessary. While it is certainly advisable that Arsenal fans shouldn’t think too much into Wenger refusing to quash the reports, it will be interesting to see if the club are able to keep him. If we cannot, it’s proof that the club hasn’t really moved forward since losing Robin van Persie in 2012.

Does this mean Nacho Monreal is leaving Arsenal?

According to numerous reports in the English media, Arsenal have reached an agreement with the Schalke 04 left-back Sead Kolasinac to move to the Emirates for next season. While the North London side are yet to officially confirm the signing, it is more or less an open secret with various sources like the Guardian, the Daily Mail, the Metro and the reliable Sky Sports all reporting that the deal has been done.

So with a highly-rated and much-coveted left-back coming into the side, it remains to be seen which one of our two left-backs will be leaving the club. Arsene Wenger stated last week that he intends on retaining the services of all members of the ‘British Core’ and also specifically mentioned Kieran Gibbs as one of the players he is looking to tie down on a new contract at the Emirates.

Considering that the Arsenal boss has confirmed that Kieran Gibbs will be getting a new deal and the arrival of Sead Kolasinac, that means our first-choice left-back at the moment, Nacho Monreal, is on his way out. The Spaniard has had a largely mediocre campaign and considering Wenger’s policy in regards to players who are above the age of 30, it really does look like the Former Malaga man is on his way out.

Despite Gibbs failing to live up to his potential even after five years in the first-team setup, it appears Wenger is willing to give the Englishman more time to establish himself in the Gunners starting XI. Considering that Gibbs is still relatively young and qualifies as a homegrown player, it makes sense for the club to try and retain his services. But until he can establish himself, the signing of Bosnian international Sead Kolasinac comes as a more immediate solution at the left-back position.

Arsenal desperately need a new creative midfielder

It may seem boring to some fans out there that i keep on hammering on about Arsenal’s midfield problems but what am i expected to do when our coach refuses to address a problem that has cost us points and games for some seasons now? 

 The days of Arsenal’s dominance in the Premier League was made possible because we had a good midfield that was the live wire of the team. Apart from Thierry Henry who was a midfielder turned striker, most of the stars of the team were midfielders! We had Bergkamp, Viera, Pires, Lungberg and Silva. These were players who controlled and won games for us! The midfield of a team has to be strong and sound, if a team wishes to win games and trophies. A list of successful teams both past and present, will open ones eyes to the importance of a strong midfield.

However, I am not here to talk about the midfield as a whole; I am here to make an appeal to our club management to get us an extremely creative and talented midfielder, who is blessed with the ability to dribble, pass and create chances for the strikers to score. Midfielders in the mould of the former Barcelona great, Ronaldinho, the former Bolton great, Jayjay Okocha and of course, our own Bergkamp. 

Mesut Ozil is a great player of esteemed quality but his inability to control the midfield especially against the big teams, has cost the team points and deprived us of winning games we could easily have won! He is creative as an attacking midfielder but not creative enough. Can he do a messi and dribble his way past several players and score a goal in the process? When our strikers are finding it hard to score goals, can he create and score a goal out of nowhere? His dribbling skills are not that great and exciting but he can work on them if he is willing to.

A creative midfielder who is a great dribbler of the ball can help our midfield a lot but will Wenger get us one? Will Arsenal go all out and get us Bernardo Silva of Monaco? How much will he cost us? Will his selling discourage us? And if it does, are we then serious about improving our team? I have always said we are not serious about winning trophies and will never stop saying it until we show some seriousness. What will it cost us to show some balls and take drastic steps to improve our lot as a team?

Sylvester kwentua

Arsenal need to spend for immediate success – not for the future

If there is one thing the world of football will be grateful to Wenger for, it is his rare talent of being able to discover raw talents and groom them to stardom! Many footballers today, who shone in the jerseys of Arsenal, started playing for Arsenal at a young age. Fabregas, Bellerin and some others, are just a few who will be grateful to Wenger all their lives!

 However, for some reasons now, Wenger seems to have lost his magical act of discovering and nurturing young talents to stardom. Some will say but he discovered the likes of Walcott, Chamberlain and Iwobi! Yes, I agree but who amongst these players can we classify as world class today?

Well, another season is about to end and the time will come for Arsenal to buy players who they will use to persecute games for next season; players who will win trophies for the club next season. Every club buys players in line with their plans for the next season, who will Arsenal, buy? What are their plans for next season? Will they buy players to groom for the future or buy players that will become an instant success next season? Time will tell.

Planning for the future starts with analyzing the past and the present. In other words, Arsenal’s success next season starts now! How they end the season may play a major role in deciding what type of player to buy next season but from the look of things, Arsenal needs to buy players who will win them trophies and not players to groom for the future! Arsenal needs to win one or two major trophies next season and buying players for the future won’t win those trophies.

News has it that the Arsenal board is willing to release a huge amount of money to Wenger for purchase of players, with the intention of over hauling the team. The amount being quoted on sports websites though is much, but it is the kind of amount needed to buy world class players for your team. Man United spent almost 100 million pounds on a player last season and that same amount is the amount rumored to be the amount Wenger will be given to over haul the squad next season! Who is clowning who? Wenger or the owners?

Should Arsenal go back and raid Leicester this summer?

Leicester football club did something that surprised the world last season! Against all odds, they won the English premier league; a league that had Arsenal, Chelsea, Man United and Man City, was won by a club that battled to remain in the league, the previous season. What a fairy tale it was. The world was truly shocked!

Winning a competition takes a lot of efforts. You need to employ the services of a coach who knows how to assemble a team of winners and you also need to buy players who share the same idea and spirit with you, finally, you need to motivate both the coaching crew and the playing staff. All these, Leicester did last season and they won! However, this season has been a mixed season for them; they started the season so poorly and now, they seem to have found their grove back. The coach was sacked in the process of them trying to get their season back on track but the players were not affected.

Last season’s success for Leicester City, was partly made possible by two talented and motivated players who played a very big role in leading their team to victory. The two players I am talking about are Mahrez and Vardy! These two players literally won them the league and there results were not only a trophy, but a bidding war among top footballing club, who wanted them as a member of their squad for the next season. Arsenal was among the clubs who allegedly wanted these players. We seriously bided for Vardy; we met his buyout clause, only for him to say he was not interested in playing for Arsenal. It surely broke the hearts of many Arsenal fans, no doubt. We never bided for Mahrez although he was linked to us.

Arsenal is looking to strengthen their squad for next season. This season can be classified as their worst season under Wenger! They have not just lost games, they lost them in terrible ways not befitting of a club of Arsenal’s status. Apart from a few players who were outstanding, Arsenal lacked leaders and motivated footballers on the pitch and this needs to be addressed soon. Vardy and Mahrez may be our next options for the striking departments, especially if Sanchez leaves. From the look of things, Leicester may miss out of qualifying for the Champions league this season, unless they lift the trophy of the one they are currently contesting in. Arsenal still has the chance to amend for their season and end up qualifying for the Champions league. If we can manage to do this, then there is chance of we been able to land these two players for next season, if we bid for them again. Won’t we love to see a classical striker who knows how to score goals at Arsenal?

Arsene Wenger should talk to his family!

I have been thinking about Arsene Wenger’s predicament at Arsenal and the thought that came to my mind was, “If Wenger had a family, would he consider their opinions in taking a final decision about coaching Arsenal for next season?”

Ladies and gentlemen of good repute, we surely know the impact our families play in our day to day decision makings. We know how it is important to consider them and their opinions in whatever we do. For the married men amongst us, we all know how influential our wives can be; they are very important in our lives and at times we are lost in decision, we go to them for a little prep talk! So, I ask this important question, does Wenger have a wife to run to? Who does he consult with in his decisions makings?

Last week, I read an article in a sport magazine in my locality and the one story that caught my attention was an interview with Dennis Bergkamp, our midfield hero at Arsenal! In the interview, he was asked if he would love to be the manager of Arsenal or Ajax, one day and his response touched my soul. Here is his response: “I won’t love to be the chief coach of any club, I am okay being a member of the coaching staff here at Ajax. I have a family who needs me home more often than I wish; being a chief coach will deprive of some time to spend with my family.” He didn’t fail to mention his family as being part of why he won’t want to be in the limelight of coaching! The man surely has the interest of his family at heart. Is that not cute?

This particular interview got me thinking about several things; Is Wenger not tired of spending the limelight in the world of coaching? Is he not thinking about spending more time with his family? He is in his old age right now, won’t it be wise to resign at the end of the season and try spending more time with his immediate family? Forgive me if I say I don’t know a thing about his family life; that is because I am not the type to pry into the private lives of celebrities! But if Wenger has a wife and family to fall back to, does he include them in his decision makings?

Will he consider them before taking a decision to sign the new contract offered to him or not? Hope I am not lost in my thoughts?