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!

Arsenal now have one of the deadliest strike forces in the world

Aubameyang not my rival Lacazette by Iomie

Alexandre Lacazette is ready to form a deadly partnership here at the Emirates with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, after revealing he had no intention of leaving the club.

The Frenchman was brought to the Emirates by legendary boss Arsene Wenger last summer for a whopping £52 million after seeing Lacazette have the season of his career and net an impressive 36 goals in 39 games for Lyon.

He was expected to lead the club into a new era and become ‘the next Thierry Henry’, but despite a relatively decent start, the season wore on and Lacazette’s finishing become that of a Sunday League striker he simply couldn’t find the back of the net.

His lack of quality in front of goal led Wenger to delve into his transfer kitty for the very last time in January and break the Gunners transfer record by signing Aubameyang for £60 million, a fee which has already yielded rewards.

The 28-year-old became the quickest Arsenal player to score ten Premier League goals, after opening his account on his debut in February’s 5-1 thrashing of Everton, and went on to score as many Premier League goals as Manchester City’s Leroy Sane, Christian Eriksen of Tottenham and Liverpool’s Sadio Mane in just a few months at the club.

And that led to much speculation that Lacazette could be sold this summer, as he would not be guaranteed to the regular football he deserves, and would be considered bac-up to the Gabon hitman.

But Lacazette says he was never concerned about his role in the team and has never seen Auba as his rival, Believing they can form a deadly partnership.

“I never said Aubameyang’s arrival was bad for me, only people in the press said it was bad,” said Lacazette on the Sky Sports website

“I was happy because I knew I could play with him. I didn’t see him as a rival more than a team-mate, so since the beginning I was happy about his signature.

“Of course, it’s good that we have a good relationship off the pitch. If people are good off the pitch, on the pitch it will be easier to play.”

At a combined total of £112 million, both men are proven goal-scorers at the very highest level and are two of the best in Europe, so if Unai Emery can get them working well together here at the Emirates, the we could have one of the most deadly partnerships in world football.

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As well as Arsenal needing to win our own games in the Premier League in order to get back among the title challengers after making a pretty pathetic start to the new season with just a single point from the first three games, we also need those sides above us to drop points to give the Gunners any chance of success.

So far the pace setters from Manchester have not looked in danger of that, but although both Man City and United have not yet lost, they were not on maximum points going into the latest round of games. Stoke had held United to a draw and hopefully can do at least well today against Pep Guardiola’s high flyers.

Arsenal got the perfect result in the early kick-off, with United quite lucky to get even the point from their trip to Anfield. The draw means Liverpool stay behind Arsenal and with a win away to Watford we can close to within three points of Jose Mourinho’s team.

But Arsene Wenger and the players must make the most of this chance by having the right attitude and going all out to win today. Let’s just hope the Hornets do not have too much of a sting in the tail for us.

Does this mean Arsenal’s Wilshere is OVER his injury problems?

The injury problems that have beset the playing career of the midfield star Jack Wilshere, for both Arsenal and his international career with England, have been well documented and they are almost too numerous and various to go into. But if he could put them behind him there is still plenty of time for the talented 25-year old to have a stellar career for club and country.

However, there is a much held belief that Wilshere is one of those players who is simply injury prone and will be in and out of the treatment room all the time, and if that is the case it will be almost as frustrating for us Arsenal fans as for the player himself, because we all know what he is capable of.

But there may be signs that these problems are over once and for all, barring the odd impact injury and bad luck. Some of Jack’s problems have been of this variety already, like the leg fracture he picked up on the pitch with Bournemouth last season, but many have come through seemingly innocuous incidents or setbacks on the road to recovery and it is these we need to cut out.

Wilshere himself has admitted in an Arsenal.com report that his fitness levels may not always have been up to the standard required and if this is true it could be the reason behind many of his injuries, while declaring that he is now in the best shape of his life and if feeling very positive about the future.

He said, “When I first broke into the first team, even looking back when I was 16, you take things for granted. I was training every day and when you’re a 16-year-old, you can do that.

“As you get older your body changes, you pick up injuries, you have to be more careful with certain situations and it makes you stronger as well. I’ve always loved playing football and that’s what I wanted to do.

“Of course there’s been times when it’s been tough, when you’re injured and you wake up in the morning, you think ‘Oh I’ve got to go to training, all the other lads are training, you’ve got to go to the gym’. That makes you stronger and it makes you appreciate it more and try and do everything you can to keep fit and keep on the pitch.

“I always hear the boss say it is my first five-metre burst, when I receive the ball and to get away from defenders and I feel that’s getting better and better each day. I feel like the way to improve that is in games when you’re playing against opposition that want to win and want to win the ball back and you have to be able to keep the ball.

“That’s coming back and my fitness levels, if I’m honest, are probably the best they’ve ever been. I look at my numbers after the game and I’ve been out for four months and I’m not the one who hasn’t run the most. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t run the most, we’ve got a lot of players that do that, but my numbers are good so I’m happy.”

I will be happy as well if his new fitness levels stop him getting another injury that could well spell the end of his time as a Gunner. So have we now got a great player who will be able to play all season and help Arsenal to win a major trophy or two?

Arsenal team news for Chelsea with NO Alexis Sanchez

It will have been a difficult decision for Arsene Wenger to make as he got the Arsenal squad ready for this Premier League away game against Chelsea, because after a slow start to the season we really cannot afford to take nothing back with us from Stamford Bridge today, but at the same time our best player Alexis Sanchez was not match fit.

The Chilean needed some game time to gain fitness and match sharpness so the boss started him against Cologne but because of the way the Europa League match went he could not afford to take him off. Fortunately Thursday night did see Alexis sharpen up and find his form over the space of an hour or so, but even with his powers of recovery it would be a risk to start him just two and a bit days later.

I expect Sanchez to be on the bench and to come on at some point, but Wenger will go for the players who are fresh and having left Danny Welbeck, Mesut Ozil and Lacazette out of the Europa League clash it will be these who start today. Ramsey and Xhaka will be back in the middle with Bellerin and Kolasinac as the wing backs and we will still have a back three but it will look a bit different, with Koscielny on the left instead of Monreal and with Mustafi on the right with the big German Mertesacker in the middle.

Has Wenger let slip his Arsenal team and tactics for Chelsea?

Even if Arsenal had started the new Premier League season well and were in good form going into an away game against Chelsea, you would make the home side favourites, and despite winning our two home games against Leicester and Bournemouth you would hardly say the Gunners were going well.

So any advantage to take with us to Stamford Bridge would surely be seized upon, which is why I was a bit surprised to hear some of the comments from Arsene Wenger, reported by Metro, in the build up to tomorrow’s game.

The Frenchman did well to change his tactics halfway through the Europa League game between Arsenal and Cologne on Thursday and the switch from a back three to a back four was widely credited with being a big factor in us turning the game around.

It also gave Wenger the opportunity to keep Antonio Conte guessing about the shape of the side he would be faced with, or he would have been if Wenger had not let slip what he sees as our best defensive set-up with the pace of Monreal and Koscielny on either side of the tough tackling and vocal German Shkodran Mustafi.

He said, ‘[Mustafi is] reading the game well, strong in the challenge, and he likes to talk as well, so that’s an important quality in that part of the pitch.

‘On both sides of him, we have Koscielny and Monreal who are quick, so that looks well-balanced.

‘Communication is very, very important. In the organisation, it’s very important that you talk early, and sometimes you have to be very vocal because the crowd is shouting.

‘The timing of your talking and sometimes how loud you are is very important.’

Was this wise of Wenger to say? Not if he now starts with that back three, but could Wenger be bluffing and be about to spring a surprise on Conte and Chelsea by going with a different back line?

Can Arsenal take heart from Man Utd and Mourinho problems?

It was looking pretty bad for Arsenal fans and our hopes of a successful season for our club in the early stages of the new Premier League season, but after the latest round of games which have been played after the first international break I think we are all a little bit happier.

And one reason for this is because the early form of Manchester United was looking pretty ominous after they took maximum points by winning the first three games and did not even concede a goal. So with Jose Mourinho’s record of being a strong front rummer we really needed something to knock them off their stride and we got it in the shape of Stoke City who scored twice and then frustrated United to claim a draw.

Mourinho was not happy and refused, twice apparently, the offer of a handshake from mark Hughes. That was not the only sign that the Portuguese manager is not a happy bunny either, because he has been having a pop at Chelsea and the tactics of his former club under Antonio Conte. He has had another pop at Arsene Wenger, according to the loudmouth Piers Morgan, and he has been talking trash about his two Old Trafford predecessors David Moyes and Louis van Gaal as well.

All this smacks of there being something wrong and I welcome that, because when things are going well for Mourinho and Man United then we have good reason to worry. As it is, can Arsenal fans start to feel a bit more hopeful about the season ahead?

Arsene Wenger very pleased at ‘nice man’ Koscielny’s return against Liverpool

Arsenal have been playing with a makeshift defence in our last two League games, so Arsene Wenger will be very happy to see Laurent Koscielny to return from his suspension against Liverpool today. Obviously he won’t be completely match fit, but surely he must do better than our current back three.

Wenger is pleased to have the ‘quiet man’ back in the squad. “He was suspended for a while and apart from Stoke we did quite well with him not being there, but of course we are happy that he’s back and available for selection again.” Le Prof said.

“He is very calm, he is more an introvert than an extrovert but still a passionate character. The fact that he doesn’t speak too much sometimes doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have inner turmoil, and that he doesn’t explode sometimes. Overall he is a very nice man but there is still a steel in him as a defender.

“He has become a French international [since he came here], a regular and that French team is built around him. Overall let’s not put him under too much pressure because it is an important game for us. On the other hand I believe you want a stable defence to go into big games so that is why you are happy that he is back.”

Yes it will be great to have him back, especially against a team that loves to attack. We could do with a calming influence at last!

Will he be enough to stop Liverpool?

Can Arsenal destroy Liverpool’s spirits after their Champions League success?

Arsenal travel to Anfield today to try and get on track after the Gunners abysmal result at Stoke City last week, but Liverpool will be in a much more confident mood after scoring four goals against Hoffenheim in midweek to earn a place in the Champions League Group Stages.

The Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp is urging his players to use that win as a stepping stone to further success, and not to get complacent. “We know this is an important part of our development. Another step,” Klopp said on the official Reds site. “Getting into the position to have the play-off was important. Winning the play-off was important. What is now important is to keep moving forward. What can we achieve next?

“Yes, I want the players to appreciate the moment – but appreciation doesn’t mean complacency. I don’t want that to satisfy anyone’s ambition. In fact it should make everyone more hungry and more greedy. To want more nights like Wednesday, more feelings like Wednesday night and Thursday morning.

“That is why, on Thursday, the attention immediately switched to today’s match against Arsenal. They will have the highest motivation to bring our spirits back down today. Our motivation to not let them do that is just as high.

“I know our supporters understand how important they are to us for a contest as intense as this one. We all go again and we go together and we look to make this a Sunday afternoon that can feel as special as a night-time fixture in Europe.

“We have shown before that we have this ability and I have confidence that everyone inside Anfield today, who cares about Liverpool FC, will do what is needed to make it the outcome.”

Liverpool should be feeling confident having lost only one of their last 15 Premier League games, and their last loss to Arsenal at Anfield was back in 2012. But can Arsenal take advantage of their euphoria to take them down a peg or two?

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.