Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Arsenal Vs Bayern Munich: 3 players who can make a statement

LONDON, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 13: Joe Willock of Arsenal during the UEFA Europa League Group E match between Arsenal and Qarabag FK at Emirates Stadium on December 13, 2018 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)

On Wednesday, Arsenal face Bayern Munich in their second pre-season fixture. Here are three players who can make a statement with a good performance.

After a 3-0 victory over the Colorado Rapids got Arsenal’s United States pre-season tour off to a good start earlier this week, the Gunners now commence their International Champions Cup journey against Bayern Munich. On Wednesday night, in Los Angeles, Unai Emery will lead his team into their second pre-season fixture. And given the quality of the German champions, it will be quite the test.

As such, here are three players who could make quite the statement against Bayern with a good performance.

BAKU, AZERBAIJAN – MAY 29: Joe Willock of Arsenal shoots during the UEFA Europa League Final between Chelsea and Arsenal at Baku Olimpiya Stadionu on May 29, 2019 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

3. Joe Willock

Unai Emery unquestionably used what would be described as a second XI against the Colorado Rapids on Monday night. A team stocked full of young player, many making their first senior appearance for the club, it is not easy to see the clear split that the Arsenal head coach has devised within his squad. And Joe Willock is on the right side of that split.

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Willock was introduced midway through the second half of the 3-0 win over the Rapids. He immediately looked like the best player on the pitch, distributing lovely passes from the central midfield and driving Arsenal forward. Should he start on Wednesday night, and I fully expect him to, it will be fascinating to see how he does against much more capable opposition.

With Lucas Torreira, Matteo Guendouzi and Mohamed Elneny all given time off due to their international escapades earlier in the summer, there is a chance for Willock to start in the heart of the midfield. Should he take it, he could establish himself in the first-team midfield rotation throughout the season, just as Guendouzi did this time last year.

LONDON, ENGLAND – MAY 02: Ainsley Maitland-Niles of Arsenal tackles Jose Luis Gaya of Valencia during the UEFA Europa League Semi Final First Leg match between Arsenal and Valencia at Emirates Stadium on May 2, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images,)

2. Ainsley Maitland-Niles

The trio of absent central midfielders will not only benefit Willock. I am sure Ainsley Maitland-Niles is looking at those that are not with the pre-season squad and is looking forward to proving that he is ready for a full-time starting role.

Maitland-Niles has been a utility man in his past two seasons at the club. Because of his remarkable speed, stamina and composure on the ball, he has the ability to play in almost any position on the pitch, from left-back to right-wing. But as he continues his development and looks to force his way into the starting XI on a more consistent basis, he will have to specialise.

That could mean that he asks Unai Emery for a chance to start in central midfield, where he has always professed to be best suited to, or could be that he looks to rival Hector Bellerin at right-back, which is especially plausible given that Bellerin will miss the start of the season as he continues his recovery from an ACL tear.

This is a big season for Maitland-Niles. Can he take that final step on his journey to becoming a regular Arsenal starter? If he can, it must start with a good performance against Bayern Munich on Wednesday.

DUBLIN, IRELAND – AUGUST 01: Matteo Guendouzi celebrates after Arsenal won the penalty shoot out with team mate Reiss Nelson during the Pre-season friendly International Champions Cup game between Arsenal and Chelsea at Aviva stadium on August 1, 2018 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

1. Reiss Nelson

It should not go unnoticed that while Eddie Nketiah started against Colorado and Joe Willock came off the bench, Reiss Nelsonsat on the bench among what would be considered the starting group. At this stage, Unai Emery obviously sees him as a starter.

This summer and this season is a terrific opportunity for Nelson. After an up-and-down loan season at Hoffenheim, the winger returns to a squad severely lacking alternative options in his position. You could make an argument that he is already the best winger in the squad.

It is not inconceivable that Nelson could become the day one starter for Unai Emery on the right-wing. At 19 years old, that would be a sensational achievement, setting him up perfectly for a long and successful career. But to achieve that, he must perform well in the pre-season. This is where he will earn his opportunities.

Nelson has always spoken of his ambition to be a starter for Arsenal football club. This season, that ambition could very easily become a reality. But he needs to go out and make it so. Let’s hope that is able to.

Arsenal midfielder set to take over captaincy after Laurent Koscielny snub

Arsenal are in a bit of disarray at the moment, after club captain Laurent Koscielny decided to snub the team’s pre season tour to the United States (US) in order to force a move away.

That prompted the Gunners to release a stern statement on their official website about their disappointment over the incident, but there are further problems that need addressing.

It is highly likely that the repercussions of the act from Koscielny will be severe, and one of the first orders of business will be to strip the Frenchman of his captaincy.

That begs the question, who takes over next?

Aaron Ramsey sends message to Arsenal players ahead of Europa League Final

The Telegraph are reporting that Granit Xhaka is in pole position to become the new Arsenal captain, after he showed great leadership during the few times that he was given the armband.

About the potential captain, Gunners boss Unai Emery remained rather unclear, though it appears that Xhaka does seem to be the right fit.

“At the moment Koscielny has a contract with us but we’ll speak with the club and him about if he will continue or not. We have players with the capacity [to be captain], one is Granit, he was a captain in the dressing room.

“We have others like Mesut, Nacho. There are other players who can take this position also. I want between three and five captains in the team.”

Every word Arsenal boss Unai Emery just said on transfers, Dani Ceballos and captaincy

Arsenal news includes a full transcript of Emery's press conference ahead of the friendly against Bayern Munich

(Image: David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

How is your pre-season preparation going?

Really we are working very well. We are working with patience, the players are coming after their holidays.

Now needs to be with us Iwobi, Elneny, Matteo and Lucas but the other players are here and also with the young players we are working very well. We are creating a strong moment now for all the season, working hard and really we are also working with the possibility to sign some new players to help us.

We are doing a lot of meetings with the club, with Edu, also with Josh and Stan Kroenke yesterday in Denver. We have a very clear idea: to sign the players who can help us with a good performance and in the positions we need.


Can you explain Arsenal's mentality issues?

We're still moving ahead. Last year we cut the difference to Tottenham and Chelsea in the Premier League, we were very close to do that but at the end we didn't do. We need to be positive and take a big challenge, to be in the top four in the Premier League.

We know it's going to be difficult, like last year. But this year our ambition is going to be the same, to do it.

In the Europa League we played the final against Chelsea. We had the chance to take the Champions League against Chelsea but we lost and were very disappointed to finish the season not reaching our first target.

(Image: Timothy Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

We're starting with a big motivation and also a good feeling to work together and continue our progress. That starts in this tournament, playing against big teams.

We are waiting for two, three, four players to help us and also with everybody creating a new way with a lot of positive things we worked on last year.

Are you optimistic about the transfer market?

We are taking the market with patience and calm. We want to sign players who can help us with a big performance. We think in the team you have very good players and young players.

We need to take the best players in some positions, really being demanding of ourselves for these players.

Really I can say to our supporters we are going to make a very good team with the players there now and three or four players who can help us in a few days.

Will you name five captains again this season?

We spoke a little about that. Last year we had Laurent, Petr Cech and Aaron Ramsey. At the moment Koscielny has a contract with us but we'll speak with the club and him about if he'll continue or not.


We have players with the capacity, one is Granit, he was a captain in the dressing room. We have others like Mesut, Nacho. There are other players who can take this position also.

I want between three and five captains in the team.

Josh Kroenke told Arsenal fans to be excited about the transfer window. Are you excited?

Yes. We are speaking about big players because we are starting thinking about our team and squad now. We have very good players, very good young players who can progress.

Other players can come here to help us. We need really players with big performances.

Arsenal manager Unai Emery shakes hands with club director Josh Kroenke following the UEFA Europa League Final defeat to Chelsea

Our target is to get three or four players who really improve our squad now. We are being very, very demanding and first speaking about the possibility to sign very expensive players. The first player in our list is our first target, if we cannot achieve that the second.

We are thinking every time they're going to improve our squad.

Would Dani Ceballos improve your squad?

I don't want to speak about the names. Dani Ceballos is a very good player.

What are the challenges of travelling across America in pre-season?

Our challenge is starting to create a strong group, strong players with a mentality. We need to be together and feel together in the pre-season. Our first moment is to create our idea like a team, creating strong relationships between us.


Tomorrow against Bayern Munich will be a tough match. I am looking forward to seeing our players playing against them.

Will you use the Europa League group stages to blood youngsters?

We are going to play every competition thinking to do the best. Our objective this season is playing to get some titles, we are going to work to achieve that.

Where we can give young players chances to play we will. We are thinking to win titles but in the Europa League we will give young players opportunities to play.

Last year we did that but also thinking their first objective is to achieve the performance with them to win and do a good way on all competitions.

What is your view on Koscielny?

I spoke yesterday about that. Now this matter is for the club and him.

Before he travelled I spoke with him three times. He wanted to speak with the club, his first idea was to leave from the team.

When I spoke with him I wanted him to come with us and to continue speaking with the club about the best possibility for him. He decided to stay in London.

Josh Kroenke responds to Arsenal fans: 'We want to win'

Son of Arsenal owner Josh Kroenke has responded to an unprecedented showing of unity by the club's supporters.

16 fan groups united to pen an open letter to Kroenke and Kroenke Sports & Entertainment asking them to prove they had ambition to get Arsenal competing for silverware.

Now director Kroenke has addressed some of those queries in a statement.

The American said: "I'd like to start by clarifying that my family owns Arsenaltogether, and when it comes to the Club, my father and I are in constant dialogue.

"So when you hear from him you are hearing from me, and the other way round. So I pen this on behalf of myself, my father, my family and Kroenke Sports & Entertainment.

"We know we have some of the most passionate fans in any sport, anywhere in the world. It's part of what makes us such a special and unique Club.

"And while we understand, appreciate, and agree with concerns about our Club failing to achieve our goal of qualifying for the 2019-20 Champions League, we respectfully disagree about our Club being at a crossroads and that things need to change because so much change has recently occurred."

He continued: "We want to be clear we are in sports for one reason and one reason win.

"There is simply no better feeling in sport than winning at the highest level.

"We know there is a lot of hard work ahead and understand that supporters want success now. We will continue to push forward trying to balance the short and long term vision without abandoning the core principles of the Club that have sustained us for the past 133 years.

"We are not naive in our thinking that our ambitions can be achieved overnight, and are putting processes in place to ensure we are stacked not only with talent, but talent with the proper mentality to help us achieve our highest goals in the future."

Tuesday, 16 July 2019

Dani Ceballos to Arsenal deal could be done by weekend

ARSENAL are confident they will beat Tottenham to the loan signing of Real Madrid starlet Dani Ceballos.

Arsenal are closing on Dani Ceballos - but William Saliba deal is proving tricky (Pic: GETTY)

And the deal could even be completed before the weekend with the Spain midfielder keen to get his future sorted.

But the two clubs remain locked in battle over William Saliba after Arsenal made an improved offer for the Saint-Etienne defender.

Ceballos has been told he is surplus to requirements this summer by Real Madridbut still sees his long-term future at the Bernabeu.

The 22-year-old had looked set to join Spurs on a season-long loan after holding talks with Mauricio Pochettino - but no purchase option was included in the deal.

But while Arsenal cannot offer him Champions League football, they believe they can offer him more first-team football at the Emirates.

Ceballos is currently on holiday after helping the Spanish Under 21 team win the Euro 2019 and Real want any transfer tied up before he returns to training next week.

The Gunners are also trying to beat Spurs to the signing of Saliba, who is currently considering his options.

Arsenal had agreed a deal worth a total of £27m including add-ons with St Etienne for the 18-year-old only for Tottenham to attempt to hijack the transfer.

Spurs offered the same amount excluding add-ons and were willing to pay more of the fee up front.

But the Gunners have since returned to match the terms on offer and are now waiting for a response from the player.

Meanwhile, Kieran Trippier could be excused from Tottenham’s pre-season tour of Asia after Atletico Madrid made a move for him yesterday.

Dani Ceballos had a successful summer for Spain's Under-21s (Pic: GETTY)

William Saliba is wanted by Arsenal and Tottenham (Pic: GETTY)

Meanwhile, Kieran Trippier has been excused from Tottenham’s pre-season tour of Asia as he ties up move to Atletico Madrid.

Spurs fly to Singapore today but Trippier is instead expected in Spain for a medical after the two clubs agreed a fee of £20m with around £5m in add-ons.

Atletico have also offered Tottenham the chance to sign Argentina striker Angel Correa, who is surplus to requirements in Madrid.

Trippier has three years left on his contract but Spurs have younger options at right back in Serge Aurier, Kyle Walker-Peters and Juan Foyth, and need to raise money for transfers.