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Arsenal round-up: Europa League plans; Wilshere return; Cech backs Sanchez

Jake Jackman

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Arsenal are already making plans for their Europa League campaign. This is their first season out of the Champions League since 1997-8. The Telegraph report that he is planning significant rotation for this week’s match against Cologne, but they do want to take the competition seriously. Arsene Wenger has discussed the importance of balancing it correctly with the Premier League.

“We will take it seriously but the priority is to focus on the Premier League and combining the two. Then, in December, we will see, but at least we want to qualify for the next round. Thursday to Sunday morning is short so I have to think about that. But we have to win at home and you know how it is when you don’t win at home.”

It is becoming increasingly difficult to finish in the top four and it could be that the Europa League offers the best avenue to the Champions League. Manchester United targeted it last season and Arsenal may choose a similar strategy if they remain in the competition after the group stages. They will start as one of the favourites and even with a rotated team, they should qualify for the next round.

One player that will be looking at the Europa League as an opportunity to get back into the first-team is Jack Wilshere. He remains at the club after an underwhelming loan spell at Bournemouth, but he has yet to feature. The Mail report that he has been passed fit and could make his first Arsenal appearance in 13 months. Alexis Sanchez, Olivier Giroud and Theo Walcott are all expected to feature.

The benefit of the Europa League is that it will provide opportunities to squad players and a few could play their way into Arsene Wenger’s first-team. Wilshere’s Arsenal career looks to be coming to an end, but he will be keen to prove his worth in this competition. He has always had a lot of potential and he is running out of time to fulfil it.

Alexis Sanchez was booed after coming on against Bournemouth, but Petr Cech believes that his team-mate will win over the disgruntled supporters. The Evening Standard report the following quotes from the goal-scorer:

“I spoke with Alexis and he wants to win. Sometimes people say ‘he does this, he does that’ but I think in a way, he is a guy who plays with all his passion and all his heart. You could see he knew he came late and the manager opted not to risk and put him on the bench.”

The players have welcomed Sanchez back and it is clear from Cech’s comments that the Chilean will give his all for the team while he remains at the club. Although the supporters are within their rights to boo the player, football fans are fickle and they will be the first to celebrate his next goal for the club.

Jake is a journalist based in the South East. He is a Newcastle United fan and has a keen interest in Dutch football. Jake can be found on Twitter here - @jakejackmann.

Arsenal

Criticism of Liverpool’s Jordan Henderson unfair? stats suggest he’s England’s best option

The midfielder came under scrutiny for his latest performance.

Jamie Watts

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England put an end to the World Cup opener curse after Harry Kane’s stoppage time header ensured England started the tournament with maximum points, with Tunisia looking more than likely to take their share of points in Volograd.

A promising opening 20 minutes was encored by ponderous and slow football in the second half, after the team began looking seemingly affected by Tunisia’s equaliser.

The additions of Marcus Rashford and Ruben Loftus-Cheek added impetus and purpose to the attack late on.

But prior to that, England struggled in pursuit of a second, and Liverpool midfielder Jordan Henderson came under fire for what was deemed to be a lack of creativity.

Photo: Getty Images

Many fans were questioning the omission of Jack Wilshere from England duties, as Gareth Southgate opted for the Liverpool man as the regular in central midfield. But last season’s statistics show some maybe being preemptive in wanting to replace the 28-year-old this World Cup.

Squawka stats (below) show that the Liverpool man was superior to both Eric Dier and Jack Wilshere in all aspects of midfield play in the Premier League last term, suggesting he could very well be the right man to continue starting for the Three Lions.

The former Sunderland man bested his two counterparts for number of forward passes, average pass length, key passes, tackles won, aerial duels won and chances created (all per 90 minutes), which sheds some light on why he’s a regular in Southgate’s team.

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Fans criticise Jack Wilshere omission after Jordan Henderson’s ‘toothless’ England performance

Gareth Southgate’s bold decision is already being questioned.

Jamie Watts

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England put an end to the World Cup opener curse after Harry Kane’s stoppage time winner ensured England started the tournament with a victory, with Tunisia looking more than likely to take their share of the points in Volgograd.

After a promising opening 20 minutes, England’s shortcomings in front of goal were punished as Tunisia were awarded a penalty – using VAR – and Ferjani Sassi equalised from the spot, heaping pressure on Gareth Southgate’s outfit to score a second.

But creativity was scarce from the Three Lions, in what was a stressful and frustrating half to watch for the nation.

Photo: Getty Images

And Liverpool skipper Jordan Henderson has come under fire for his performance in the heart of the midfield, with many believing that Arsenal‘s Jack Wilshere would have been more creative and imaginative in central midfield, if he wasn’t omitted from international duties this earlier this summer.

Henderson frequently opted for possession over creativity and was guilty of taking too many touches in the midfield yesterday, particularly in the second half and the speed of play was directly affected as a result.

Here’s the Twitter reaction:

By no means did the 28-year-old have an awful game, but his choice of pass was often safe and as a result England lacked impetus and drive in the second-half, until the additions of Marcus Rashford and Ruben Loftus-Cheek added a spark in the final third.

Gareth Southgate will often opt for control in central midfield against tougher opposition – with Belgium on the horizon – but against the likes of Tunisia and Panama, the side can afford to take more risks and be more inventive, and the decision to leave Wilshere at home is already being questioned after just one game.

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Crystal Palace fans thrilled with reports of Jack Wilshere interest

Crystal Palace fans are keen on the reported deal.

Jamie Watts

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Crystal Palace are keen on landing long-serving Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere, if the 26-year-old leaves the Emirates this summer, according to reports from Evening Standard.

A move to Selhurst Park would reunite Wilshere with Roy Hodgson, his former England manager and a coach, whose belief in the Gunner is undeniable.

Hodgson displayed his admiration for the midfielder, after taking him the 2016 Euros despite him barely playing all season and he believes he could add the perfect balance to the Eagles’ midfield alongside enforcer Luka Milivojevic.

Photo: Getty Images

Wilshere was left out of the England squad for the World Cup this summer due to his diminished role with Arsenal, and revealed his “disappointment” on the day through his official Twitter account.

It now appears he will prioritise making himself essential at both club and international level next season, and that is unlikely with Arsenal.

Having improved his fitness, which has widely been considered his primary weakness, making 38 appearances in all competitions last season, Wilshere could become a serious asset at Selhurst Park, and fans have taken to Twitter to discuss the reports.

Here’s the reaction:

Yohan Cabaye’s situation is currently unresolved at Selhurst Park, with reports suggesting that the 32-year-old could potentially move to Ligue 1 giants Marseille this summer, and the Frenchman would need replacing.

Having joined in 2015 for £10 million from French champions Paris Saint Germain, the veteran midfielder played a key role in the Eagles relegation survival, acting as the catalyst for control and mobility in the centre of the park.

Photo: Getty Images

And Wilshere would play a similar role. His agility and vision are reminiscent of Cabaye, but he has far more left in the tank.

It is safe to say the Englishman would be a real coup for Hodgson at Palace this summer and the fans agree its a deal the club should make happen.

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