Arsenal Arsenal round-up: Koscielny discusses mentality; Bellerin wants momentum; Gibbs will improve Published 4 months ago on September 25, 2017 By Jake Jackman Share Tweet Arsenal have always had talent in their squad, but they haven’t always had the mentality required to win major honours. Laurent Koscielny is one of the key players for the team and he has stressed the importance of winning ugly, especially if the team is going to enjoy success. The following comments from the defender were reported by the Evening Standard: “So the most important thing is to keep this for the other games, to stay focused together. It’s not just with talent that we will win games, it’s to all be together, to fight together to get the best results. We can do it but now we need to show that every game.” Koscielny is correct to point out this flaw in Arsenal’s game as it is the main thing holding them back from achieving success. They showed encouraging signs against Chelsea last weekend and it is important that they show that level of fight on a regular basis. Hector Bellerin has managed to establish himself in the first team again at the Emirates Stadium and he will be keen to press on during the coming months. He has told Sky Sports that Arsenal need to build on their recent momentum with a victory over West Brom tonight: “It is all about keeping the momentum going. Yesterday [Wednesday] in the League Cup [ a 1-0 win against Doncaster Rovers], even though the team completely changed, I think the mood in the whole squad was the same. Everyone came out on the pitch to get the win and we have to keep building on this momentum right now and make it another win for us hopefully.” The Premier League is a physically and mentally demanding league, which is why momentum is crucial. The best example is Crystal Palace, as they continue to lose every week and have still failed to score a goal. It looks like it is going to be a long season for them, due to the negative momentum that they have built. Arsenal have a good chance of going on a run during the next few weeks and they have to take it if they want to challenge. Arsene Wenger has been discussing former player Kieran Gibbs ahead of his return to North London and has agreed that the left-back is likely to improve at West Brom. The Mirror report the following quotes from the Frenchman suggesting the reason for that: “He will have more to defend maybe. They are a team who focus more on defending. We are a team that goes forward. He was a good forward it’s not his defence aspect [that is in question]. He is an intelligent player who knows how to defend well.” It isn’t necessarily the level of the club that dictates the rate of development and Gibbs will learn a lot at West Brom. Wenger is correct in his assessment that West Brom are a side that defends often and they are good at doing it. The England international will become a lot better at the back under the guidance of Tony Pulis. Related Topics: Don't Miss Arsenal vs West Brom: Premier League match preview, likely line-ups and score prediction Jake Jackman Jake is a student based in the South East. He is a Newcastle fan and has a keen interest in Dutch football. Jake can be found on Twitter here - @jakejackmann. Continue Reading You may like Arsenal Why Everton are the perfect club for Theo Walcott to rebuild his career Published 2 days ago on January 18, 2018 By Rob Meech It is hard to believe Theo Walcott is only 28 years old. He burst on to the scene aged 16 for Southampton in League One and was snapped up by Arsenal shortly afterwards. His inexplicable selection for England’s 2006 World Cup squad, without playing in a single Premier League game, transformed him into an overnight star. Big things have been expected of Walcott ever since. It’s fair to say that, despite winning 47 caps for England and making 397 appearances for Arsenal, he has failed to live up to the hype. Now, after 12 years, Walcott is bidding farewell to the Emirates and hoping to revive his flagging career under Sam Allardyce at Everton, whom he has joined for £20 million after agreeing terms on a three-and-a-half-year deal. Speculation that Walcott’s days at Arsenal were numbered had persisted for several years, but his desire to prove himself at the club kept him in north London even when admirers came calling. His 21 goals in all competitions in the 2012/13 campaign suggested he had cracked it, but that proved to be a false dawn. In truth, Walcott’s decision to sign for Everton was probably a no-brainer. Now in the prime of his career, he simply has to be playing regularly. The reality of how far down the pecking order he had fallen at Arsenal struck this season, when he often failed to make Arsene Wenger’s match-day squad. His last appearance for the Gunners came as a second-half substitute in the 2-1 defeat to Bournemouth. Everton’s interest in Walcott emerged only recently, but he was clearly one of Allardyce’s top targets. One look at the Toffees’ recent form underlines why. After an immediate upturn in fortunes after the former England boss’s appointment, Everton have embarked on a winless streak that stretches back to December 18. Lack of pace is a pressing concern and this is an attribute that Walcott possesses in abundance. The likes of Wayne Rooney and Gylfi Sigurdsson are intelligent footballers, but not the type that will blitz opposition defenders. Instead, they have relied on chipping balls over the top for the striker to chase. As such, Everton are one-dimensional and easy to play against, with no player capable of launching a counter-attack. Also highlighting their urgent need for more firepower is the grim statistic that only rock-bottom Swansea have had fewer shots than Everton this season. New big-money signing Cenk Tosun has increased competition in the striking department but may take time to settle, whereas Walcott’s Premier League pedigree means no transitional period will be needed. The former Southampton man’s versatility makes him an attractive proposition. For Arsenal, he predominantly featured on the right wing – either in a four-man midfield or a three-man attack – but he is equally adept at playing up top on his own, a position where he tried but ultimately failed to establish himself at the Emirates. Potential is a word that has long been associated with Walcott. It is no longer applicable. At 28, this is possibly his final chance to realise his ambitions, both domestically and internationally. Everton, a sleeping giant, are a perfect fit. Under the auspices of major shareholder Farhad Moshiri, plans are in the pipeline for a brand-spanking new stadium to enable them to compete alongside the Premier League’s elite. After being a peripheral figure at Arsenal for so long, Walcott has become the forgotten man of English football. For the sake of his career, he simply had to leave north London. By joining Everton, Walcott, who will wear the number 11 shirt, has the security of working under a manager who rates him highly. Now, he has the opportunity to become the player he always promised to be. Continue Reading Arsenal Bournemouth 2-1 Arsenal: Three talking points from the Vitality Stadium Published 6 days ago on January 14, 2018 By Rob Meech Photo: Reuters Bournemouth came from behind to claim a much-needed victory over Arsenal, whose hopes of qualifying for the Champions League have suffered another blow. After an insipid opening period at the Vitality Stadium, the action sparked into life when Hector Bellerin broke the deadlock on 52 minutes. But Arsenal’s lead was short-lived, as goals from Callum Wilson and Jordon Ibe – his first for the club – secured the Cherries’ fourth home win of the season, which lifted them to 13th in the table. Arsenal, meanwhile, slipped further adrift in the battle to finish in the top four after their third consecutive league game without a win. Here are three talking points… Alexis Sanchez moves closer to the Emirates exit door All the pre-match talk centred on a player who wasn’t involved in the contest. Not only was Alexis Sanchez not named in the starting XI, he wasn’t even on the bench having not travelled to the south coast. Manager Arsene Wenger was ambiguous when pressed on this in the aftermath of the defeat, but the insinuation was clear; the want-away Chilean will not be an Arsenal player come the end of the transfer window. Both Manchester City and Manchester United have been heavily linked with a move for Sanchez, whose contract at the Emirates expires in the summer. Despite his uncertain future, this match was crying out for his never-say-die attitude. Arsenal controlled the first half and deserved to be in front when Bellerin fired home. However, the Gunners were unable to add a second and Bournemouth capitalised with two late efforts. Arsene Wenger’s side are now without a win in four games in 2018 as their troubles mount. Bournemouth buck the trend against the ‘Big Six’ Before this fixture, Bournemouth had lost all of their matches against the ‘Big Six’ this season, scoring only one goal in seven outings. While those are not necessarily the games that will define their campaign, it was a worrying statistic that Eddie Howe needed to address. Facing an Arsenal team without Sanchez or Mesut Ozil looked like being the Cherries’ best opportunity to buck that trend, and so it proved. With only nine points separating all the teams in the bottom half, an unexpected win can do so much to alter the picture. The Cherries didn’t fold after going a goal behind and they merited the three points for an enterprising second-half display. Having beaten Arsenal for the first time in their history, Bournemouth are now four points clear of the drop-zone. They are by no means safe because of this result, but the psychological impact could be immense. Jack Wilshere getting back to his best Returning to the club at which he spent last season on loan, this was not the afternoon Jack Wilshere would have hoped for. Though it didn’t go well from a team perspective, the 26-year-old was close to his best at the Vitality Stadium. He touched the ball more than any other player on the pitch and also completed more passes. After a frustrating start to the campaign where he struggled for minutes in the Premier League, Wilshere is now establishing himself in the starting XI. He was Arsenal’s best player against Bournemouth and in a team that lacks leaders, he was one of the few who looked like he wanted the ball. Wilshere ran the show in midfield and was always keen to move forward with purpose. England manager Gareth Southgate surely can’t ignore Wilshere’s form and, fitness permitting, he must be a shoo-in for the next squad. In a World Cup year, Wilshere is peaking at just the right time. Continue Reading Arsenal An absence of progress at Arsenal leaves Arsene Wenger in danger of becoming the villain Published 6 days ago on January 14, 2018 By Martyn Cooke Photo: Reuters “You either die a hero, or live long enough to see yourself become the villain”. So says Harvey Dent, a character in the 2008 DC Comics action movie The Dark Night Rises, which portrays the story of the fictional superhero Batman as he fights against organised crime in Gotham City. There may be no men dressed as bats around the Emirates Stadium but it is a quote that might resonate with the thoughts and feelings of a growing number of Arsenal supporters regarding the position of Arsene Wenger in recent seasons. The Frenchman is one of the most influential and successful managers in the club’s history, having secured ten major trophies since his appointment in 1996 and overseen the transition from Highbury to the Emirates Stadium, but has come under increasing pressure over the last three seasons as The Gunners struggle to maintain the pace set by their title rivals. The previous campaign was tainted by calls from from a portion of the Arsenal fan base for the 68-year-old to resign, although the club eventually opted to hand him a new two-year deal. However, eight months on and Wenger’s position has never been more fragile and the number of dissenting voices in the stands is beginning to increase. The frustration around the Emirates Stadium is completely understandable. The Gunners are 23 points behind league leaders Manchester City, face an uphill task to qualify for the Champions League next season and suffered an early exit from the FA Cup at the hands of Nottingham Forrest. Furthermore, Arsenal are in danger of losing two of their prize assets in the summer for nothing after allowing the contracts of Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil to run down into their final year. The unwillingness of the duo to remain in North London is a definitive sign that the club are no longer considered to be a significant threat in the domestic game. With the club slipping behind their title rivals and struggling to retain key players, Wenger is in danger of turning from a hero into a villain. A lack of forward momentum The one thing that Arsenal have lacked this season, and arguably for a number of years, is a sense that the club is making progress or moving in the right direction. The Gunners have been on a gradual decline that is only now beginning to come to the fore and there has been nothing to suggest that Arsene Wenger has the vision or prowess to reinvigorate a club that is anchored in stagnation. Even success in the FA Cup has felt like a brief moment of respite rather than a signal that a corner had been turned. The Frenchman has failed to correct the issues that have undermined the team on the pitch, exemplified by his inability to purchase a top-quality central defender or defensive midfielder, and it has now been nearly thirteen years since the club last won the Premier League title. A sense of progress is why Jurgen Klopp and Mauriccio Pochettino have sustained their positions at Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur, respectively, despite failing to secure any silverware between them and have retained the favour of their club’s supporters. Both have implemented a clear philosophy and playing style whilst creating the feeling around Anfield and Wembley that the team is moving forward in the right direction. Wenger has secured more silverware than both Klopp and Pochettino combined since 2014 yet he finds himself under increasing pressure due to a lack of any forward momentum at the Emirates Stadium. Whilst there is a general feeling that Liverpool and Tottenham are improving, the perception of many Arsenal supporters is that the club is standing still at best and certainly slipping behind their counterparts. There have been question marks around Wenger’s future for some time and yet this feels like the 68-year-old is on the edge of cliff. Success in the FA Cup has provided him with a degree of respite in recent years which made his team selection for the defeat to Nottingham Forrest appear especially bizarre. With Arsenal already out of the title race you would have thought that Wenger would have put extra emphasis on winning the competition which, arguably, allowed him to negotiate a new contract in the summer. However, such is the obvious disparity in quality between the Gunners and Manchester City that Wenger can no longer hide behind domestic cup success. Failure to qualify for the Champions League for a second consecutive year would signify how far the club has fallen and the pressure on the Frenchman has been further exacerbated by the seemingly imminent departures of Sanchez and Ozil. Whilst Liverpool and Tottenham are moving forward, Arsenal seem to be moving backwards. With Wenger’s position appearing increasingly fragile and the club in decline you have to wonder whether the Frenchman has now become the villain of the piece. 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