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Arsenal: Arsene Wenger’s successor suggested; Giroud talks fitness; Xhaka red card

Conspiracy theorists in Arsenal circles have suggested that Jack Wilshere’s season-long loan at Bournemouth is a ‘job interview’ for Eddie Howe, and the Englishman has again been linked with the Arsenal job.

According to Neil Ashton’s report in The Sun today, Arsenal have been impressed by Howe’s passion, principles, articulacy and dedication to his craft.

Arsene Wenger, who celebrates 20 years at the club this month, is out of contract at the end of this season and the board seem to be looking at replacements should he stand down.

This is not the first story linking Howe with Arsenal, with The Daily Star first on the story some weeks ago, so there is clearly some substance in this one.

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Some Arsenal fans might want a manager with a proven track record of winning titles and progressing in the Champions League, but the Gunners pride themselves on standing apart from the pack.

The club do not want a revolution once Wenger leaves, with a raft of new players and a manager who will make excessive financial demands, but rather a coach who will build on Wenger’s work.

Bournemouth have had a sticky start to the season and could be facing a relegation battle this season, though a fit Wilshere might be enough to drag them away from danger.

It is highly doubtful that Arsenal would appoint a manager who has just been relegated, so their plans could rest on how Wilshere and Bournemouth fare this term.

Olivier Giroud has been speaking about his lack of game time at the start of the season, and says it is purely down to a lack of fitness after a truncated preseason.

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Speaking to The Evening Standard, Giroud said: “It is down to a lack of training since I got back from holiday.

“It if had been a priority, the manager would have asked me to come back sooner – that wasn’t the case.

“Don’t worry, everything is fine. I’m used to people doubting me. Since the start of my career, it has been the same.”

Giroud now faces additional competition from new signing Lucas Perez, though the two are such radically different players they are likely to be employed on a ‘horses for courses’ basis depending on the opposition.

When Arsenal face a deep-lying defence with little space in behind, then Giroud’s skill with his back to goal might see him get the nod, with Perez preferred for games against stronger opponents which are likely to be more open.

Finally, Granit Xhaka was sent off for two bookable offences for Switzerland against Portugal last night; his seventh red card since April.

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Arsenal will not be too disappointed by this news, as it means Xhaka will only be available for one match during the next international break.

They will however, be keen to kerb some of the Swiss international’s indiscipline. Their new singing committed several fouls after coming on as a substitute against Liverpool.

However, he has been far more circumspect in his last two appearances, greater match fitness ensuring his positioning has been much better.

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