Arsenal: Wenger AGM headache; Striker set for first start; Spaniard linked with move
Arsene Wenger was left frustrated as Arsenal were held to a 0-0 draw by Middlesbrough on Saturday, and the rearrangement of the club’s AGM this week has given him another headache. Usually the meeting takes place on a Thursday, but had been moved forward to Monday to accommodate Stan Kroenke’s presence in the country. Arsenal face Reading in the fourth round of the EFL Cup on Tuesday and Wenger might be forced to miss training to attend the AGM, at which he is one of the keynote speakers. According to a report in the Guardian today, Wenger might try to perform both duties:
“Wenger is scheduled to give a speech at the meeting, which is normally the highlight, but, when he discussed the subject, he initially made it sound as though he would not be able to attend. “Normally, I’m not there because we prepare a game for Tuesday and we practise on Monday morning,” Wenger said.
“He was asked to clarify the comment. Was he going to make it? “I don’t know,” he replied. “My work is to practise [with the team].” Wenger will find a solution and he will attend – “I will see how I can combine both,” he went on to say – but it was difficult to ignore the impression that he considered it an inconvenience.”
The mood at Arsenal’s AGM has been rather fractious in the past, and the board rely on Wenger’s ability to placate those disgruntled fans present. The long-serving Arsenal boss is a marvellous public speaker and always manages to charm and cajole even the angriest fans and shareholders. The likes of Peter Hill-Wood and more recently Sir Chips Keswick are not the savviest communicators and have a habit of saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. That said, Arsenal are unbeaten since their 4-3 defeat to Liverpool on the opening day of the season, so the mood should be reasonably upbeat.
Elsewhere, Olivier Giroud is line to return to first team action against Reading at the Emirates having missed several weeks with a toe injury. Arsenal’s top goalscorer from last season has returned to full training and is stepping up his preparations ahead of a congested run of fixtures. The Gunners have played some wonderful attacking football so far this term, but the weekend’s draw with Middlesbrough and last month’s narrow win at Burnley shows they could do with alternative options. Alexis Sanchez has made the centre forwards position his own, but when defences sit deep against Arsenal having the aerial prowess of Giroud to call upon will be a useful weapon.
Finally, there are further reports linking Santi Cazorla with a move to Italian giants Juventus. The Spanish midfielder was sorely missed at the weekend, and Wenger might have to consider giving him a new deal. The former Villarreal man turns 32 in December, and Wenger is usually reluctant to give extended contracts to players over the age of 30. That said, Cazorla’s close control, passing range and ambidexterity make him a unique talent and a player who will be very hard to replace.
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