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Gunners fans might be eagerly awaiting the new season – and the start of Unai Emery’s Emirates reign – but the World Cup offers a feast of football to satisfy our appetite until that comes around.

This summer, eight Arsenal players will take to the field in Russia. Here’s our guide to how they might get on:

Danny Welbeck

Arsenal’s sole representative in the England squad for this tournament is Danny Welbeck. The 27-year-old actually has a much better record in a Three Lions shirt than he does for the Gunners, with 16 goals in 39 caps for England compared to 15 goals in 80 league games for Arsenal. He scored England’s second goal in a 2-0 win over Costa Rica in the final friendly before the squad flew out to Russia but he’s likely to be a back-up choice for Gareth Southgate, with Harry Kane, Jamie Vardy and Marcus Rashford ahead of him in the pecking order.

Mesut Ozil

The German international arrives at the tournament on the back of a spat with Martin Keown. The ex-Gunners centre half accused Ozil of not being ‘fit to wear the shirt’ on occasions last season – a comment that caused his agent to brand Keown ‘envious and stupid and boring’. He remains a favourite for Joachim Low, however, and will be a key part of Germany’s bid to retain the trophy. If the World Cup final odds are anything to go by, we can expect them to have a decent chance of doing just that.

Nacho Monreal

The Spanish defender found his shooting boots this season. After three goals in five seasons previously, the 32-year-old netted six times for the Gunners. Yet, as with Arsenal, it’s his defensive flexibility that attracts him to Julen Lopetegui and helped him secure a place in the squad ahead of the likes of Marcos Alonso at Chelsea. Monreal faces tough competition to get a starting berth in one of the best squads in the tournament.

David Ospina

Ospina is certainly no stranger to cup football, given that he’s behind Petr Cech in the pecking order when it comes to league games, and will head to Russia as Colombia’s first-choice goalkeeper. Manager Jose Pekerman has stood by Ospina despite a dip in form towards the end of the qualifiers – and a mistake in a recent friendly against France. He’ll be out to prove himself worth of a start to Unai Emery in a Colombia side that could well come up against England in the second round.

Mohamed Elneny

The Egyptian midfielder has recovered from an injury suffered in the 4-1 win against West Ham to take his place in Hector Cuper’s squad. Elneny, who particularly impressed in the Europa League this season, was part of the Africa Cup of Nations team that finished runners up last year and will be hopeful of progressing from a group that includes Russia, Saudi Arabia and Uruguay. The prospects for Elneny and The Pharaohs probably rests in the fitness of talisman Mo Salah, however.

Alex Iwobi

The Nigerian attacker is ‘excited’ to prove himself under Unai Emery, and will get a good chance to shine in Gernot Rohr’s side. Iwobi, a nephew of Super Eagles legend Jay Jay Okocha, scored the goal that secured qualification against Zambia and should feature in the starting line-up. He scored in the warm-up friendly against England and bagged a brace in a 4-2 friendly win over Argentina that was played in Russia last November.

Stephan Lichtsteiner

The Swiss veteran makes the move to the Emirates for the start of the season and Gunners fans will get a perfect chance to take a close look at him in group games against Brazil, Costa Rica and Serbia. Lichtsteiner, who has won seven straight Serie A titles with Juventus, is captain of Vladimir Petkovic’s team and actually netted three times in a qualifying campaign that saw them reach Russia with a play-off win over Northern Ireland. Switzerland are well-placed to qualify behind Brazil, but are likely to come up against champions Germany in the second round.

Granit Xhaka

Lichtsteiner is joined in the Swiss squad by Granit Xhaka. The 25-year-old had a mixed season in an Arsenal shirt, but is likely to be a key figure at the heart of the Swiss midfield. His keen eye for goal has seen him net nine times already for his country – and you wouldn’t be surprised to see him fire in a ‘goal of the tournament’ thunderbolt.

No matter how far England get, Gunners fans will have plenty of stars to cheer on in Russia.

As strange as it may sound, sixty-million pound is no longer a lot of money. Sure, to you or I, such a sum would leave us with our jaws close to the floor, eyes bulging, panting in disbelief, but for new Arsenal Manager Unai Emery, it is far from sufficient if he is to guide the Gunners to the summit of English football.

A Premier League news update suggests that this is indeed the level of finances that Emery will have to work with, a figure that prompted ex-Arsenal midfielder Emmanuel Petit to say, “When I hear about the amount of money Emery has to spend, I can't believe it. Where are you going with £60m? You're going nowhere.”

Without the lavish bank balance needed to compete with the likes of Chelsea and the two Manchester Clubs, Arsenal will be forced to be shrewd in their acquisitions; something both Emery and the new head of recruitment, Sven Mislintat, are well accustomed to.

The area in the biggest need of improvement is in goal.

David Ospina has proven time and again that as a back-up he is ideal however he lacks both the physique and the mindset needed to guide a club of Arsenal’s stature to the places they want to go. And while Petr Cech will go down as an all-time Premier League great, time has caught up with the towering Czech, to the point he now looks little more than ordinary.

An outlandish suggestion would be to sign the now free-agent, Gianluigi Buffon. As he has proven with both his Serie A and Champions League exploits, Buffon remains a player who orbits the top tranche of keepers. What goes against the Italian is his age, and after having their fingers burned already with Cech, perhaps a more youthful purchase is in order.

A player who ticks the boxes marked ‘young’, ‘talented’ and ‘affordable’ is Bayer Leverkusen’s Bernd Leno. The 26-year-old with over 200 Bundesliga appearances, is widely reported to be available for a fee in the region of £22million. The one chink in Leno’s armour is his concentration, a weakness that has seen him repeatedly make unforced errors, most notably in the Champions League. However, with more games under his belt and some more hands-on coaching, it is not unthinkable that Leno could be included in the top bracket of keepers.

The final goalkeeper worth consideration is Paris Saint Germain’s Alphonse Areola. Having been scouted intensively for the last four years, there is little to the Frenchman that will surprise the Arsenal hierarchy. Working with Emery for the last two years, building a fine working relationship, a reunion may just be on the cards.

Entering a transfer window without Arsene Wenger’s hand on the tiller for the first time in twenty-two years, there is a sense of both excitement and urgency around the Emirates stadium. The lethargy that has blighted many a transfer has now been lifted, something of paramount importance in a World Cup year where any delay will see a huge hike in prices.

 

 

Unai Emery and the team tasked with targeting transfers will have to work extra hard to acquire quality players for next season.

As life after Wenger begins, Emery is tasked with at least doing better than the club’s underwhelming 2017/18 season. While many fans had expected a little more backing from the board, the former PSG and Sevilla boss has been handed just £50 to strengthen the team. Like when we look for the best free bets, Emeri will need to place emphasis on value when choosing his new recruits.

Wenger’s 22 years in charge saw some of the greatest players of the modern era don the famous red shirt. Highly influential in the clubs transfer dealings in that time, there was something of a departure from the Frenchman’s autonomous control towards the end of his tenure. Sven Mislinat and Raul Sanllehi’s presence will now be felt even greater with Emeri at the helm, and it is will be interesting to see how this works out.

Potential targets

A name which seems to be popping up quite a lot in the media and on fan boards is Sokratis Papastathopoulos. The Borussia Dortmund man joined the club at the same time as former players who are now at Arsenal, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan. This link is definitely one which has substance, given the Dortmund connection. Arsenal fans seem split on the transfer, with some optimistic about the defender’s potential and others (probably unrealistically right now) hoping for an alternative, multi-million signing.

Another player being strongly linked with the club is Roma’s Lorenzo Pellegrini. The 21-year-old is reportedly being chased by other clubs in Europe, including Serie-A champions Juventus. According to these reports, the midfielder has a £26 million contract release clause, which will be within budget for Emery if this is true.

Fans will be aware of the link between Arsenal and former Stoke City player Steven N’Zonzi. Given Emeri’s former links with Sevilla, there are outlets suggesting that the Frenchman – who has been included in France’s World Cup squad – will link up with his former boss at the Emirates. N’Zonzi is an exciting target for some Arsenal fans, despite his role in a team with the now relegated club. Transfer targets like the Frenchman are bound to leave fans polarised approaching the new season.

Minor Expectation

A large number of the Arsenal faithful had lost their faith in Wenger a number of years ago. When it came to the former boss leaving the club at the end of the season, those same fans would have expected to have felt a little more optimistic. Instead, the board has brought in a gaffer who many are not yet warming to, despite the season a few months away.

With just a £50 million transfer budget, Unai Emery will have his work cut out when it comes to getting the best out of the current players and one or two signings which will be bargain-basement, according to many.

It’s been a difficult season for Arsene Wenger’s men, none more so than Petr Cech. The well respected and highly decorated goalkeeper has come under intense scrutiny this year after a string of costly mistakes. David Ospina has been a good understudy but has never really challenged for the number one spot.

Is it time for Petr to step aside and move into the number two position? If so, who should replace him?

Matched betting company Profit Accumulator have given us the run-down on the potential players who could replace Petr (if the new manager decides to replace him that is!). Matched betting is a way of making money online.

Wojech Szczesny. Never had an easy ride at the Emirates and was often ridiculed for simple mistakes, but the feeling among the fans is that he would be a good replacement (and improvement) on Petr Cech. He currently plays for Juventus, and has played well in the games he has featured. Buffon is obviously still number one but looks to be retiring this summer. If he doesn't retire, it could be a relatively easy swoop to take Szczesny back, who is too good a keeper to be playing second fiddle for another year.

Many fans feel we should never be having this discussion in the first place. Szczesny, despite his critics, was always seen as a natural successor to Cech. Unfortunately the Arsenal board in their infinite wisdom decided to sell him to one of our European rivals.

Alisson. Brazil’s number one keeper will feature heavily this summer in Russia. He’s had a great season at Roma and proven himself to be one of the top keepers in the world. He would undoubtedly improve the squad with his quality. A good shot stopper with good feet. He would walk into most of the top teams in Europe. The big question is, would Arsenal even be able to attract him. There are strong rumours that Real Madrid are in the market for a new keeper this summer and that Alisson is their first choice. Surely if it was a choice between Real Madrid and Arsenal, he would choose Madrid. If the new Arsenal manager does have a good sized transfer budget, then it might be worth a bid to try and entice him to London.

If Arsenal do decide to make a bid and that bid is successful, I think every Arsenal fan in the country would be overjoyed. If he is managing to keep Ederson out of the brazil squad then he must be quite good!

Jan Oblak. Considered to be in the top three keepers in the world, with De Gea and Neuer. Very talented shot-stopper. Anyone who has watched Atletico knows how good this guy is. Consistently linked with the top clubs and surely it's only a matter of time before he moves on. The biggest issues will probably be the transfer fee. Last season Ederson became the most expensive keeper in the world, at £35m. Oblak would definitely be more than that.

Jack Butland. Another talented goalkeeper that has actually been linked with Arsenal in the past. Would be available as his Stoke side were relegated this season. He’s English as well, which would endear him to the Arsenal faithful. Not since David Seaman have Arsenal had an English number 1. Not had the best of seasons, but to be fair he has been standing behind a particularly poor defensive unit. Stoke would want to get the most money possible for one of their prized assets, but the leverage would surely be with the buying team due to Stopke playing in a lower league now and Butland almost certainly not wanting to play Championship football next season.

Bernd Leno. For those in the know, the Bayer Leverkusen keep is the prime target for replace Cech. Just off the back of a very impressive season in which Leverkusen surprised many people in Germany. Leno is a key part of the team and a very good keeper. Leno is expected to leave Leverkusen to tackle a new challenge ahead of next season. Apparently he has a release clause of around £20m, which for a keeper of his quality isn't that expensive. Leno has made a total of 292 appearances for Leverkusen

What the odds say.

Unlike the race to be the next Arsenal manager, no bookmaker has opened a market on the new Arsenal goalkeeper yet. Our money is on Petr Cech staying for one last year, his experience could be invaluable in a potentially turbulent time for the club.

For Arsenal the concluding fixtures of this season have become less about who wins and loses, and more about the imminent departure of their manager Arsene Wenger. The usual combustible end of season affairs morphing into a farewell tour – extended procession of well-wishing.

Coming after years of sustained calls for his abdication, the one hundred and eighty degrees turn of many supporters has been saccharine enough to rot the teeth from your head. The outpouring of emotion has been enough to lull you into thinking Wenger has retired, despite the fact he has yet to utter a word to back this up. Put simply, the man remains addicted to the game.

With this in mind, where is Wenger likely to get his next spherical fix? For my money the most likely avenue would be that of international football and a stint with his native France. Odds of 4/1 represent decent value and can be enhanced when you scream ComeOn.

As France head to this summer’s World Cup, bursting to the seams with dazzling talent, it is almost inconceivable that ‘Les Blues’ would want to change their manager, but delve an inch or two below the surface and you can see some problems bubbling away.

Current France manager, Didier Deschamps, is far from universally adored. While the gripes fans cling to are too numerous to list, the major issues boil down to two main faults.

The first is a reluctance to jettison poor performers. Time and time again Deschamps has shown an unflinching loyalty to a select few. This phenomenon is best illustrated by Newcastle and Spurs flop Moussa Sissoko. Despite failing to set the heather alight in the Premier League in any of his six seasons, Deschamps has still allowed the rangy midfielder the opportunity to rack up over fifty caps.

Such a rigidity in selection has lead to problem number two, a failure to blood youngsters. France’s rapid ascension in betting odds is largely founded on the vast quantity of blindingly talented youngsters making their impact felt in Europe’s top 5 leagues. Worryingly for France fans, domestic brilliance hasn’t translated into international recognition. Ousmane Dembele, Thomas Lemar, Kylian Mbappe and Corentin Tolisso have all made a seismic impression on European football in the last two seasons but have not been assimilated into the national team.

Given the hype around the squad, failure to win this summer’s tournament will probably force Deschamps to fall upon his sword, leaving the door ajar for Wenger.

Wenger’s foibles have been covered ad nauseum over the last half decade or so, leaving many to assume is fit for nothing but the scrap heap, yet his remaining assets could gel phenomenally with his national team.

Where many see Wenger as too mild mannered to compete in the cut throat world of the Premier League, the more reserved world of international football meshes well with his protective, grandfatherly management style. His ability to coax the best out of a burgeoning generation of young talent could see him replicate the works of Spain’s similarly matured gaffer, Vicente del Bosque.

The curtain has closed on Wenger’s twenty-two-year Arsenal reign and while many have risen to applaud a career well worked they will miss the bespectacled manager solemnly heading for the side exit, getting ready to begin his next adventure.

 

Throughout his career Jack Wilshire has been a divisive figure. For every person who see him as England’s answer to possession-based football there is another who see him as a primadonna, whose preening and posturing mask a fragility. Whatever camp you find yourself in, one thing is clear – Wilshere’s time at the Emirates seems to be coming to an end.

For Wilshere to maximise his remaining years it would seem prudent for him to seek a change of scenery. Time and time again his body has proved unsuited to the rough and tumble of Premier League life. A move to the slightly more placid Serie A would seem the wisest avenue to success. Odds of 15/1 for him to move to Juventus and 20/1 to side with AC Milan can be found and boosted if you yell ComeOn.

Juventus would seem to be out of reach for Jack Wilshere considering how his career has stagnated in the last couple of years, and the fact Juventus have supplanted themselves as one of the game’s biggest clubs. Yet when you consider Juventus’ transfer strategy, the deal looks more plausible. The Old Lady have long made it their business to ally big money transfers with free acquisitions. In the last few years alone, Juventus have managed to secure the likes of Andrea Pirlo, Dani Alves, Fernando Llorente and Sami Khedira the minute their contracts ran out. With Liverpool midfielder Emre Can pencilled in as their next bargain, it is clear that Juventus see no reason to change their MO.

Wilshere could very well be the latest name in an illustrious list.

Another of Italy’s Superclubs could prove to be a safe haven for Wilshere. AC Milan may have slipped down the footballing totem pole since their Kaka-inspired Champions League winning days, but they remain one of the most recognisable clubs in world sport. Last season saw a £160million summer spending spree on the likes of Leonardo Bonucci, Andre Silva, Frank Kessie, Ricardo Rodriguez and Hakan Çalhanoğlu, yet with financial hardship on the horizon, it seems a change of tact is in order.

Ever since Chinese businessman Yonghong Li purchased the club, Milan have been hit with a litany of problems. The Chinese government frowning upon such ostentatious and frivolous spending has caused friction for Li, as has UEFA’s reluctance to be lenient in regards to the application of the Financial Fair Play rules. All the problems at Milan have been exacerbated by the inability to secure Champions League football and the monetary windfall that would have kept the wolf from the door for that little bit longer.

All of this plays into Wilshere’s hands. Milan’s need for proven players for bargain prices would ensure Wilshere plays more of a prominent role were he to saddle-up in Turin. More playing time can only be assured if Wilshire can improve his dire injury record, something that is more achievable at AC Milan than anywhere else in the world, given the world famous MilanLab.

The medical facility that extended the playing careers of the likes of Cafu, Seedorf and Maldini into their forties, is just the place for Wilshire to finally string a couple of uninterrupted seasons together.

Paul Merson once said of Wilshire, “in years to come I think he will become an Arsenal great like Liam Brady.” For Wilshire that ship has sailed. Attaining legendary status is well outside his grasp, instead he needs to maximise the potential that remains to him, and that goal can be found only in Italy.

Twitter @DrewMFarmer

Arsenal's 1-0 win over Huddersfield on Sunday brought the Arsene Wenger era to an end. Now, more than two decades after he arrived in North London, the Gunners are looking for a new man to lead them forward.

One name that keeps popping up as a possible Wenger replacement is current Juventus manager Massimiliano Allegri. The Italian tactician is currently second favourite at leading sportsbooks. Wagering on Allergi for Arsenal fans could have its advantages with a bonus that outweigh other possible candidates.

Allegri has won five Serie A Scudetti in his time in Italy. Four of those have come in consecutive years as the manager's Juventus have been unstoppable on the peninsula.

While Allegri has done a phenomenal job with the Bianconeri, his best work as a coach may have come seven years ago when he led AC Milan to the Serie A title. The Rossoneri's unexpected trophy win put Allegri on the map and made him a target of both Milan and rival fans in the years that followed. Allegri was under the scrutiny of Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi and every move was criticised by the former Italian Prime Minister. When Allegri replaced Antonio Conte at Juventus in 2014, the club's supporters were angry with the appointment, but it didn't take long for the former midfielder to win them over.

There are similarities between Allegri's arrival at Juventus and Arsenal currently. The Gunners are replacing an iconic manager and supporters are arguably the most divided they have ever been. More than anything, Arsenal need a manager who can step in and quell the unrest in supporters.

One of the biggest differences between Allegri and other candidates such as Mikel Arteta and Brendan Rodgers, is his experience. Yes, Rodgers has been winning titles in Scotland with Celtic and did manager Liverpool and Swansea before that; but the Northern Irishman hasn't navigated the tricky waters the of Champions League like Allegri.

The Italian has twice lead Juventus to the Champions League final. On both occasions, the Bianconeri were beaten by Spanish opposition. However, Allegri's achievements in the Champions League surpassed anything that Wenger and Arsenal did in 22 years. In addition, Allegri expanded on Conte's work at Juventus post-Calciopoli scandal of 2006.

Meanwhile, Arteta is only an assistant at Manchester City having retired at the end of 2016. Despite some calling for Arteta to be given the reins at Arsenal, including Ian Wright, the Spaniard's lack of first team managerial experience should worry Arsenal executives. Arteta may be learning under Pep Guardiola and have a great mind for playing football, but the current assistant coach is an unknown. Allegri is the proven quantity.

Even if Allegri is top of Arsenal's managerial wishlist, its arrogant to think he would leave an establish Champions League contender for a re-building Arsenal. In the wake of Juventus' seventh straight Serie A championship, it has been reported Allegri plans to stay in Turin for another season. It does appear Allegri is studying English, which is a sign he wants to try his hand in the Premier League. While there may be no better time or club to manage, the Arsenal position may not suit Allegri on a personal level.

  • 15 Sep 2015
    So let me stop reminiscing of days gone by and let me focus on our Welsh wonder. Let me start off by saying that I think it is quite obvious that Aaron Ramsey is better in central midfield. His partnership with Mesut Özil, his running from deep and his underrated ball winning ability makes him a ...Read more