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Arsenal round-up: Petr Cech sets Premier League target; Southampton’s Virgil van Dijk targeted; Hector Bellerin’s Spain U21s desire

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Arsenal round-up: Petr Cech sets Premier League target; Southampton’s Virgil van Dijk targeted; Hector Bellerin’s Spain U21s desire

Petr Cech has admitted that this season will be a disappointment for Arsenal if they win the FA Cup, but miss out on a top-four finish. The Champions League is the biggest competition in Europe and it will be a huge setback if the Gunners don’t manage to secure qualification this season. The following comments from the goalkeeper were reported in the Mirror:

“If we don’t qualify for the Champions League it will obviously be a big disappointment.

“We need to keep getting three points in every game to hope we can ­automatic qualification.”

The loss suffered by Liverpool at the weekend has increased Arsenal’s chances of finishing in the top four, but it remains unlikely. Cech is right as the club ideally need to win all of their remaining matches to stand a chance of qualifying for the Champions League. Although winning the FA Cup would be a success, a top four finish is the minimum that the Gunners expect. If they do finish outside of the top four, the summer’s rebuilding job will become a lot harder as it will be more difficult to attract a high calibre of player.

Virgil van Dijk is believed to be high up the club’s list of summer transfer targets as planning for the next season has already begun behind the scenes. The Telegraph report that Arsenal have made their move for the Dutchman and the club are prepared to match any wages offered by rival clubs to ensure they stand the best possible chance of landing the centre back. Although the Gunners are in the race, Chelsea remain favourites, while Liverpool, Everton and Manchester City are all interested.

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It isn’t surprising that the Southampton man is in high demand, as he has been one of the best centre-backs in the Premier League this season. He has the complete package, as he is dominant in the air, aggressive in the tackle and intelligent on the ball. Van Dijk is a modern day centre back and capable of thriving in a back three. Arsenal have recently changed formations and the Dutch international would provide a big improvement of what is already at the club. He would be a great signing, but it would be a surprise if he opted to move to North London considering he will have offers from teams in the Champions League.

Finally, the Mirror report that Hector Bellerin could be ready to upset Arsenal and agree to play in the U21 European Championships for Spain this summer. Arsene Wenger has already voiced his worries about the right back playing through the summer due to his recent form and struggles with injuries. Although he is respectful of the thoughts of his manager, he wants to prove his critics wrong and perform well during the summer for his country.

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This season hasn’t been the best for the young Spaniard as he has struggled defensively, resulting in him being dropped by Arsenal. Since the change of formation, Wenger has opted for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain as a right wing back over Bellerin. It was expected that such a change would benefit the 22-year-old as he would be given more freedom to attack, but it is Oxlade-Chamberlain that has been preferred to date. The right-back has the attributes to grow into an exciting player and thrive at the highest level. However, he needs to become more consistent and it could actually benefit him to play for Spain U21s this summer.

Featured image: All rights reserved by Stuart MacFarlane

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