Champions League: Wenger Hails Arsenal Character

WengerArsenal Manager, Arsene Wenger, has praised his team for showing good character after beating Borrusia Dortmund 2-0 to reach the last 16 of the Champions League for the 15th season in a row.

Three weeks after playing a 3-3 draw with Anderlecht after blowing a 3-0 lead at the Emirates, Arsenal went ahead in the second minute through Yaya Sanogo and made it 2-0 after 57 minutes through Alexis Sanchez.

“We had a good start and overall it was a very intense game between two very good teams where you had to fight for every ball and be focused. I felt we had a good combination between our usual passing game and our transition from defence to attack. We were highly focused to defend well together from the first to the last minute and we always looked dangerous. Defensively we were very good as well.

“We were more under pressure because on Saturday we played well but maybe we were victims of our generous attitude going forward. Here we had a bit more urgency to defend, especially when we were 1-0 up,” Wenger said.

On Yaya Sanogo’s goal, he said, “I think he played well. I decided tonight to go a bit longer from the start and he protected the ball well and won many challenges. He’s a young boy but he has presence, character and he’s naturally committed. He has a natural, aggressive attitude up front that is vital and very important.”

He also spoke on the plan on improving to make an impact in the last 16 where Arsenal in the last five or six years had always faced tougher teams who always got the better of them.

“From now until February, we need to improve as a team, get encouragement from tonight’s game and then hope we have nearly all our players back in the next round. You see who is qualified around Europe and there are many teams who are at the top, top level. There are three or four teams you don’t want to play.”

Wenger also noted that he would approach the last game aiming to win it as this would increase his chances of topping the group.

“I will try to win the last game and you never know. If Anderlecht win in Dortmund and we don’t win in Galatasaray you will say we were stupid. It’s unlikely, let’s say it’s 90 per cent that we will finish second and Dortmund will finish first.”

Arsenal have failed to go beyond the round of 16 in the last four years and Wenger said he would do things a little differently this season.

Olivier Giroud Returns For Arsenal, Fit For Manchester United Clash

GiroudArsenal striker, Olivier Giroud, has recovered from a broken leg, one month ahead of schedule.

Arsenal Manager, Arsene Wenger, has confirmed that the 28-year-old French international striker is fit to face Manchester United on Saturday.

Giroud suffered a broken foot during a 2-2 draw away at Everton on August 23 and has been out of action since then.

Wenger was expecting to welcome Giroud back in January at the earliest, but the Gunners’ top scorer from last season has made a speedy recovery.

“Giroud and Arteta are both available. It’s just a question of how ready they are. But they are available,” he told reporters.

“He is three or four weeks ahead of schedule. Originally we planned to have him back for competition at the beginning of next year. So he’s one month ahead.”

Giroud’s return eases the burden on English striker, Danny Welbeck and Chilean forward, Alexis Sanchez who has beenArsenal sensational since joining from Barcelona in the summer with 12 goals in 17 games.

Giroud started off the season in good form too, scoring twice in his opening four games before breaking his leg.

The Arsenal’s boss, however, confirmed that defenders, Matheiu Debuchy and Laurent Koscielny are both out on the training ground but still a month or so away from being available for games.

“Koscielny and Debuchy are doing well, they are out on the field again.

“We have to see now. Usually field work is three weeks away from full group training. Then there is fitness.

“It looks straightforward for Debuchy. It’s not inflammation, it’s just repairing surgery. For Koscielny, it depends how well he responds to training.

“At the moment he looks good. Ozil is doing well but he will not be ready before the start of 2015,” Wenger said.

The Gunners take on Louis van Gaal’s Manchester United at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday as they aim to bounce back from a 2-1 defeat to Swansea City in their last game.

Premier League Has World’s Best Attacking Players – Wenger

WengerArsenal manager, Arsene Wenger, has taken a swipe at other top leagues in Europe, saying that the English Premier League has the best attacking players in the world.

Wenger, who is preparing his side for an “intense” North London derby at home to Tottenham on Saturday, insisted that the best players play in the EPL as English clubs now have huge financial potential and offensive power.

“We have all the best attacking players in the Premier League,” Wenger said.

“The clubs here have huge financial potential and offensive power. All the best players play here.”

English Premier League clubs spent a record £835m this summer as Alexis Sanchez arrived at Arsenal; Manchester United signed Radamel Falcao on loan and Angel Di Maria in a British record £59.7m deal; Chelsea acquired Diego Costa and Liverpool purchased Mario Balotelli as replacement for Luis Suarez, last season’s top scorer with 31 goals.

Danny Welbeck also arrived at Arsenal in a £16m deal from Manchester United, and his first goal for the club helped secure a 3-0 victory over Aston Villa last Saturday.

Both Sanchez and Welbeck could feature for Arsenal against Spurs in Saturday’s late kick-off.

“North London derbies are always very intense and the players from both sides know each other so well,” added Wenger.

“Over the years Tottenham have always had a good team and for us to be on top of them means we can fight for the top of the league.

“These games are important moments in the season.”

The Gunners, third highest scorers this season with 10 goals, are fourth in the table, two points clear of Spurs.

Giroud Undergoes Surgery To Left Tibia

GiroudArsenal Striker, Olivier Giroud, has undergone successful surgery to repair a small fracture to his left tibia.

A statement on Arsenal Football Club’s official website confirmed this.

Scans following Saturday’s match at Everton confirmed the injury and after specialist opinions in the following days, the decision was taken to have surgery in London on Wednesday afternoon.

Olivier is expected to return to action in approximately four months.

There were expectations that Club Manager, Arsene Wenger, would be forced to sign a new striker to keep the team’s challenge for honours on track, but the manager, while speaking to the media on Wednesday night quashed the hopes.

“Giroud had surgery today from a broken tibia and he will be out for 3-4 months on the competition side. That means he will be capable to play again in the Premier League certainly at the end of December because he will be out for two months.

“By the time he comes back, that goes three to four months. You ask me straight away who we will buy? I give you the answer straight away – at the moment nobody.”

Wenger Reacts To Arsenal Defeat In New York And Facing Henry

Wenger New YorkArsenal Manager, Arsène Wenger, addressed the media after his side were narrowly beaten by the New York Red Bulls on Saturday evening.

According to the transcript published on the club’s official website, arsenal.com, Wenger spoke about going into the game without a striker,We had no Giroud, no Walcott, no Sanchez and no Podolski. Akpom did well but he’s a young boy and he has to learn a lot but he has potential.”

He explained, “As long as you don’t score it’s not good but you can play with three No 9s and you don’t score sometimes. We were dominated physically in the first half, we came back into it in the last 10 minutes, their keepers made a few saves and our combinations were better.” He, however, admitted that the team lacked pace without any centre forward.

He also revealed that young striker, Sanogo missed the game because he had a thigh problem and he didn’t want to take a gamble.

Value Playing In New York
“For us it was a great experience, everybody enjoyed it and nobody wants to go home. It was a short trip but a very exciting one because New York is a special city. But what is even more special for us is how popular football is now. The values we stand for are shared here and everybody was very friendly and everybody respects what we try to do. One of the values we have to stand up for as well is when your opponent is better than us, we have to say ‘well done’ and today that was the case.”

On Facing Thierry Henry
“I think it was a great afternoon for him. He played well and his team played well as well. You could see that everybody was focused and ready for a fight. If they can maintain that kind of commitment and solidarity they have shown today and if they keep Thierry Henry in this form, they have a good chance to come back into a strong position in the league.

“Thierry can be dangerous from everywhere and understands very quickly what he can take advantage from. He was sharp today in the one against one and you could see why he was a great player because when he played in midfield his passing was excellent. He has vision as well and you could see that he can play everywhere.”

Lessons From Last Season’s Title Race
“We were not far (away0) it was very tight. We wanted to add that little bit of quality which we missed in the end. It depends on one or two games at the end of the day. There are 38 games, we finished with 79 points, and the winner of the championship had 86 so it was very tight.

“Hopefully we can get that little bit more quality in the decisive games. We were more consistent than everybody else against the lower teams, we performed less well against the top-level teams so that’s what we have to gain.”

Wenger noted, however, that it was too early to talk about the chances of his younger players featuring this season, “it’s our first game. I believe that physically this game was a bit too high for us because some of the players came back last Monday. It was not ideal but we got away without any injuries.”

Arsenal Signs Alexis Sanchez

Sanchez1English Premier League side, Arsenal have signed Chile forward, Alexis Sanchez from Barcelona on a long-term contract for an undisclosed fee in what is believed to be £30million.

According to the club’s official website, the forward flew in from Spain to finalise personal terms and complete a medical. He is expected to join up with his new team-mates at the end of July, after spending some time on holiday following the World Cup.

The 25 year old opted for the Gunners ahead of league rivals, Liverpool and Italian Serie A champions, Juventus.

Liverpool, who were runners up in the league last season, were keen on recruiting the Chilean as part of the deal that is likely to take striker Luis Suarez from Anfield to the Nou Camp, but that is now expected to be a straight cash transfer.

Juventus had also shown strong interest in Sanchez but are reportedly closing in on Real Madrid forward Alvaro Morata.

Sanchez, who has made 71 appearances for Chile, scoring 24 goals and helping his country reach the World Cup last 16 where they lost on penalties to Brazil, could not hide his joy of joining up with the gunners. Sanchez said: “I’m so happy to be joining Arsenal, a club which has a great manager, a fantastic squad of players, huge support around the world and a great stadium in London.

“I’m looking forward to meeting my new team-mates and to be playing for Arsenal in the Premier League and Champions League.

“I will give my best to Arsenal and want to make all the supporters happy.”

Arsenal manager, Arsène Wenger says Sanchez is a fantastic player and would be a good addition to the team.

“As many people have seen during the World Cup this summer, Alexis is a fantastic footballer and we are delighted that he is joining us at Arsenal Football Club.

“Alexis will add power, creativity and much quality to our squad and we are all looking forward to him joining up with us in a few weeks.

“He has consistently produced top-quality performances at the highest level for a number of seasons now and we are all excited to see him integrate into the Arsenal squad. I’m sure all Arsenal supporters will join me in welcoming Alexis to our club.”

In a statement on the club’s official website, Sanchez’s squad number would be revealed soon through Arsenal’s official Instagram account. His move will give Liverpool’s Urugyuan forward, Luis Suarez the green light to sign for Barcelona for £75m.

The move from Anfield to the Nou Camp could be delayed until Friday, however, as they await further clarification over the striker’s four-month ban from FIFA.

Arsenal is also expected to announce the capture of Newcastle’s £11m right-back Mathieu Debuchy, who completed his medical on Monday.

In addition to pursuing the France right full back, the Gunners are still in the market for a holding midfielder and back-up goalkeeper.

Transfer News: Sanchez Favours Arsenal Over Liverpool

SanchezChile, Forward, Alexis Sanchez, has turned down the chance to move to English Premier League club, Liverpool.

The move, which was to be part of Barcelona’s attempt to sign Luis Suarez, suffered a setback after Sanchez favoured a move to Arsenal instead.

Reports suggest that officials of the Catalan club, have arrived in London to start formal talks with Liverpool over their interest in Suarez.

Liverpool, who are interested in Sanchez, want £80million for Suarez this summer and Barcelona are prepared to use Sanchez, who is valued at £30m, as a bait in their offer for Suarez.

But Sanchez looks likely to snub a move to Anfield, with his heart set on a switch to the Emirates Stadium and it is believed that Arsenal manager, Arsene Wenger will  grant the South American his wish by launching a move for the attacking midfielder.

That means only a straight cash deal for Suarez is likely to be enough to persuade Liverpool to see their prolific striker move to Catalonia.

 

Barcelona wins to mount pressure on Madrid

Defending champions Barcelona upped the pressure on leaders Real Madrid on Tuesday as they moved to within a point of their bitter rivals after a 4-0 thumping of Getafe.

Two goals from Alexis Sanchez, one from Pedro Rodriguez and Lionel Messi’s 39th in the league this season gave Barca a 10th consecutive league victory after another near perfect performance by the Catalans.

In the 22nd minute the home crowd chanted the name of Eric Abidal, the French international who on Tuesday underwent a liver transplant, in recognition of the number 22 shirt he wears as part of Barca’s squad.

Real can restore their four point advantage if they beat Atletico Madrid on Wednesday – they have not lost to their city rivals since 1999.

The clash between Barca and Madrid on April 21st in the Camp Nou has become increasingly important as the Catalans have reduced the gap on Madrid from 10 points to only one in less than a month.

Barcelona dominated Getafe throughout, controlling possession with their usual passing game and goalkeeper Victor Valdes summed up the situation on the final whistle.

“Our work is done here, lets wait and see what Madrid do tomorrow night in their game,” he said.

However coach Pep Guardiola was cautious about talking about his team’s title chances.

“All we can do is think about our games, we have a big game away to Levante at the weekend and then a Champions League semifinal, we have to focus on those games and nobody elses,” he said.

Andres Iniesta had the game’s first chance when his shot was tipped over by Miguel Angel Moya in the Getafe goal on 12 minutes.

A minute later and Barca were ahead. Iniesta started the move on the left for Messi to chest the ball into the path of the Chilean Sanchez who made no mistake from 20 yards out.

On 17 minutes the lead was almost doubled when Xavi Hernandez had appeared to finish perfectly a neat passing move only for Argentinian centre-half Cata Diaz to scoop the ball clear on the goal-line.

Barca continued to dominate but did not add to their lead until just before halftime when Iniesta supplied Messi with a delightful back flick for the Argentinian to finish with a powerful shot.

On 72 minutes Alexis doubled his tally heading home an inch perfect right-wing cross from youngster Isaac Cuenca.

Two minutes later and it was another header from Pedro who rounded off the scoring when he was quickest to meet a right-wing free-kick from Messi.