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New-Found Resilience Gives Arsenal Champions League Hope

Arsenal's French striker Olivier Giroud (L) celebrates after Paris Saint-Germain's Italian midfielder Marco Verratti scored an own goal for Arsenal's second goal during the UEFA Champions League group A football match between Arsenal and Paris Saint-Germain at the Emirates Stadium in London on November 23, 2016.  / AFP / IKIMAGES / Ian KINGTON        (Photo credit should read IAN KINGTON/AFP/Getty Images)

Arsenal have struggled to make an impact in the Champions League since their run to the semi-finals in 2009. Arsene Wenger’s men have been a constant presence in the competition, but have been unable to mount a serious challenge for the crown, a run that has seen them dumped out in the last-16 stage in the past six campaigns.

The Gunners are embroiled in a battle with Paris-Saint Germain this term to finish top of Group A. Placing ahead of the French champions would hand Arsenal a favourable draw in the knockout phase, having already qualified for the next stage of the competition. Wenger’s men have always done enough to qualify out of their group, but have come unstuck against quality opposition in the round-of-16, including two defeats apiece to Barcelona and Bayern Munich.

wengerafcLosing out to the top sides has been Arsenal’s story over the last 12 years, failing to win the Premier League due to the displays of Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City, while their endeavours on the continent have always seemingly been ended by the Catalan club, none more so than their defeat in the final in 2006.

As a result of their recent underwhelming performances in the tournament, the Gunners are backed in the latest Champions League betting odds at 22/1 to win the trophy, leaving them outside the leading contenders for the crown. However, there has been encouragement in their performances both at home and abroad, suggesting that Wenger’s men are becoming a resilient outfit.

In the club’s opening match of the Champions League season, PSG took a 1-0 lead in the first minute through Edinson Cavani. Arsenal teams of the past may have wilted and conceded a second soon after to leave them with an uphill challenge, but on this occasion they held firm and were rewarded for their stoic play at the back when Alexis Sanchez equalised late in the game to earn a point.

The Gunners faced an even worse deficit in their away clash against Ludogorets Razgrad, going 2-0 down inside the opening 15 minutes of the contest. However, Granit Xhaka brought them back into the game almost immediately while Olivier Giroud notched the equaliser before the interval. Arsenal were composed across the pitch and were clinical in the dying minutes when Mesut Ozil snatched an unlikely victory to seal the club’s place in the knockout phase of the tournament.

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Wenger’s men have translated that resilience to the Premier League, claiming a point against Manchester United at Old Trafford, despite being far from their best. Arsenal have talent in their team and could make a push towards the latter stage of the competition, but only if they maintain the character they have established thus far this season.

The club wilted in past first-leg ties against Monaco and AC Milan, leaving them with too much ground to overhaul in the second leg. They made those second matches close as a result of their quality in the final third, but due to their woeful performances in the opening clash it led to exits from the competition.

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Arsenal’s Premier League odds drift after goalless draw

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 22: Theo Walcott of Arsenal (L) watches the ball while George Friend of Middlesbrough (R) attempts to chase him down during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Middlesbrough at Emirates Stadium on October 22, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Arsenal were left frustrated by Middlesbrough at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday in a match that put an end to their run of seven wins on the spin in all competitions. The draw against the north east club was not exactly what Arsene Wenger was looking for on his 67th birthday, however, the home side were not sharp enough in front of goal to take all three points.

The Gunners are now out to 11-2 in the Betway football odds markets for the Premier League title this season, despite the fact they are in a three-way tie at the top of the standings on 20 points along with Manchester City and Liverpool.

Manchester City are ahead of Arsenal in the betting at 7-5, however, they were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Southampton. Manager Pep Guardiola is facing one of the toughest spells of his career as his side have not won now in five games.

Liverpool are also above the Gunners in the outright market and can now be backed at 7-2 as they continued their impressive stretch of results with a 2-1 home win over West Brom.

Arsenal dominated the possession against Boro, but did not quite create enough chances to make the most of their time on the ball. They did find the back of the net in injury time when Mesut Ozil beat Victor Valdes, however, it was ruled offside.

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Arsene Wenger looking on

The result adds further fuel to the argument that Wenger went into this season short of strikers. Alexis Sanchez has made a good start to the campaign with six goals to his name, however, he has not had enough support. The Gunners were linked with a number of players in the summer including Jamie Vardy and Gonzalo Higuain, however, a deal for either of those men could not be made.

Before their next Premier League tie, Arsenal are in action in the EFL Cup when they host Reading at the Emirates Stadium. Wenger will certainly be tempted to rest some of his first-team regulars for that tie. The team he fields should be good enough though to book a place in the quarter-final of a competition the Gunners have not won since 1993. Success in this tournament would give Arsenal fans something to cheer about at Wembley and take the pressure off Wenger and the squad going into the final third of the season.

Arsenal are back in Premier League action next weekend where they will be expected to get back to winning ways against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light. David Moyes’ men are rock bottom of the table on two points and have yet to taste victory this season in the league.

Wenger’s side are then on the road in the Champions League where they take on Ludogorets. They won the home tie against the Bulgarian side 6-0 so should have little trouble in that fixture. A win in that away game could see them qualify for the last 16 of the competition with two games to spare.

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The Arsenal lads warming up

The schedule then becomes tough for Arsenal as they are at home to Spurs in the north London derby and then travel to Old Trafford to take on Manchester United in tough back-to-back games. That will be a real test of their title credentials, despite it being so early in the season.

If Arsenal can come through those two tough fixtures in a strong position, confidence will be sky high in the camp and if Wenger does need to add to his squad in January it will improve his chances of attracting the right players as they will be in the hunt for the Premier League title.

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Is Arsene still here?

Arsene-Wenger

Not that any of us should be surprised, as he was always going to be here for the new season once he didn’t announce at the end of May he was leaving. The new season is just one day away now and the more and more I hear coming out of our great club, or the lack of it at the moment is just driving me to despair.

For all I’m about to say and for what I’ve heard others say, once our season finally gets under way at home to the scousers on Sunday, I shall be right behind the team once again. Unfortunately not all our fans will be and I can understand why, however for all those issues I think we currently have within the club. I cannot help but to fully get behind the team.

Arsene1Yes it’s been stale for a while now, yes there does need to finally be a managerial change, yes some fans have given up (to the extent of not renewing their season tickets), yes a lot of the ground is going to be silent this season. That to me just sums it all up, at this point I’m writing stuff like that, of course I don’t want to be, I want to be talking about how we should all be looking forward to the season ahead. I could do that, but is that really what all our fans are thinking? Of course it isn’t and that is what is driving me to despair. We are Arsenal and we are the fans of this great club.

I never thought I’d say it, considering what the great man Wenger has done for this club and for what he has brought us. I however don’t want him to lose that greatness tag, but slowly I think in some fans eyes he is and that is sad. I do believe myself he should have gone at the end of last season. If he’d been honest with himself he’d of said thank you for everything, but Arsenal as a club now needs to start again and head in a new direction under a new manager and moved on.

Arsene2Unfortunately, and you know I hope I’m wrong, but it now looks like we’ll plod on through another season and then say goodbye to him at the end of his contract when he’ll be 67 years old. The fans are divided already and it’s only going to get worse this season. It’s not just Arsene though, it starts from the top with management and filters down to everyone else. Everyone within the club then becomes convinced and content that they’re happy to just continue finishing in the ‘top four’ each season. That! Is simply not good enough or the right attitude to have.

Back in April, Wenger said he was signing new players to come in and change the dimension of the team. Where are they so far? Unless we start the season in a different manner and there is new emphasis on the pitch straight away, we’ll soon all be set to carry on the same way as we have been. The same old predictable team, again!

I like Giroud, but I think he now needs replacing (along with Walcott) or at least made to work for his place in the team with a top name striker coming in. We’ve been unlucky with Welbeck’s injuries but that to me is just another reason to actually sign someone, but that was clear last season that we actually needed someone else.

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Defender Rob Holding signed from Bolton

We still have a few weeks to go in the transfer window, so we could (hopefully) see new players still come in, however the issue is the season starts in two days now. Yes we do have better squads than most but there just seems to be no change in going forward on the pitch. We’ve only brought in Rob Holding for an undisclosed fee from Bolton and Granit Xhaka from Borussia Monchengladbach for £34.0mil so far. I don’t know too much about Xhaka so I’m hoping he comes in and surprises me. Holdin however, I’ve heard good things about him, whether he’ll get a start in defence in two days time is another matter. Come on Arsenal and come Arsene, sort it out!

The ‘Pete’ Daley Arsenal.

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Arsenal on TV – August & September

sky-sports

Both BT and SKY have now announced their live games for August and September. We’re only on three times in total though but at least two of those are the first two weekends of the season:

 

 

 

Sunday 14th August 2016

Arsenal v Liverpool Premier League 16:00pm on Sky Sports HD

 

Saturday 20th August 2016

Leicester City v Arsenal Premier League 17:30pm on BT Sport HD

 

Saturday 24th September 2016

Arsenal v Chelsea Premier League 17:30pm on BT Sport HD

 

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Arsenal fixtures for the forthcoming 2016/17 Premier League season

PIC ALAN WALTER        160504   
ARSENAL PREMIERSHIP CHAMPIONS victory parade
Manager ARSENE WENGER

August
13/08/2016 15:00 Arsenal v Liverpool

20/08/2016 15:00 Leicester City v Arsenal

27/08/2016 15:00 Watford v Arsenal

September
10/09/2016 15:00 Arsenal v Southampton

17/09/2016 15:00 Hull City v Arsenal

24/09/2016 15:00 Arsenal v Chelsea

October
01/10/2016 15:00 Burnley v Arsenal

15/10/2016 15:00 Arsenal v Swansea City

22/10/2016 15:00 Arsenal v Middlesbrough

29/10/2016 15:00 Sunderland v Arsenal

November
05/11/2016 15:00 Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur

19/11/2016 15:00 Manchester United v Arsenal

26/11/2016 15:00 Arsenal v A.F.C. Bournemouth

December

At home to West Brom on Boxing Day

At home to West Brom on Boxing Day

03/12/2016 15:00 West Ham United v Arsenal

10/12/2016 15:00 Arsenal v Stoke City

14/12/2016 19:45 Everton v Arsenal

17/12/2016 15:00 Manchester City v Arsenal

26/12/2016 15:00 Arsenal v West Brom

31/12/2016 15:00 Arsenal v Crystal Palace

January
02/01/2017 15:00 A.F.C. Bournemouth v Arsenal

14/01/2017 15:00 Swansea City v Arsenal

21/01/2017 15:00 Arsenal v Burnley

31/01/2017 19:45 Arsenal v Watford

February
04/02/2017 15:00 Chelsea v Arsenal

11/02/2017 15:00 Arsenal v Hull City

25/02/2017 15:00 Southampton v Arsenal

March
04/03/2017 15:00 Liverpool v Arsenal

11/03/2017 15:00 Arsenal v Leicester City

18/03/2017 15:00 West Bromwich Albion v Arsenal

April
01/04/2017 15:00 Arsenal v Manchester City

04/04/2017 19:45 Arsenal v West Ham United

08/04/2017 15:00 Crystal Palace v Arsenal

15/04/2017 15:00 Middlesbrough v Arsenal

Will we be crowed champions against Everton on the last day of the season

Will we be crowed champions against Everton on the last day of the season

22/04/2017 15:00 Arsenal v Sunderland

29/04/2017 15:00 Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal

May
06/05/2017 15:00 Arsenal v Manchester United

13/05/2017 15:00 Stoke City v Arsenal

21/05/2017 15:00 Arsenal v Everton

 

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Arsenal Defy The Odds By Losing To United Reserves

Normally I try to stay as positive as possible about my beloved Gunners. Indeed you might remember I backed us to win the title at the start of the season, such was my optimism at the time. As the turn of the year brings another inevitable slide into mediocrity, I have now cashed out that bet (for a profit I might add). And not before time.

Arsène WengerThe complete surrender at Old Trafford this weekend was as inevitable as it was frustrating. From the first minute it looked like we had just turned up to make up the numbers. United have so many injuries and were playing half their youth team, they should have been there for the taking. Instead Arsenal just roll over to have their belly tickled. It really is as if we don’t want to win the league. This is our best chance in a decade. Where is the fight, the belief? And what makes it even worse, if possible, is that we might be handing the title to bloody Spurs!

Before the match we were the bookies favourites to win. In fact there were a load of bookmaker offers on Arsenal to win the match, a sure sign that they are confident and that they expect a lot of people to be backing us. I had no problem resisting the temptation to do so, and anyone who did would have been tearing up their betting slips before half time. An 18 year old who had never played a league game before made out first choice defence look very silly.

In the end I think losing 3-2 actually flattered us. United were better than us all over the park. And it’s not as if they’ve been particularly great this season themselves is it? I’m sure we’ll hear a lot of talk over our “mental strength” and be told we’re lucky to be making the top 4 again. And in a way that is true, you never know what you’ve got until it’s gone. The point really is that if we really intend to make a serious challenge for the title ever again, we simply will never get a better chance than now. And instead of meeting the challenge head on, we seem intent on throwing it away. Frustrating is not even close to describing how I feel.

I’m just glad I cashed out….

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Wenger targets Chilwell to replace Gibbs

1280px-Kieran_Gibbs_&_Daniel_Sturridge_2_(6954423348)

It has been widely reported that Arsene Wenger is in the market for a new left-back. The French Manager does not think that Kieran Gibbs is of high enough quality, so they are looking for buyers for him.

Gibbs had a bright start to his Gunners career but has since dropped down the pecking order. For the last 18 months, he has had to play back up to Nacho Monreal.

A few seasons back you would have thought he would have been a certainty to be part of the England national team. With the Euros coming up this summer, he has fallen considerably down the pecking order. It is highly unlikely that he will be included in the England squad for the tournament. With only a handful of games remaining in the Premier League, unless Monreal gets injured his playing time is going to be very limited. So far this season he has only featured in 13 out of 28 league games. Out of those match, only two were ones that he started.

Gibbs has been a boyhood Gunners fan all his life. He joined the club at the age of 15. He was one of the best young products from the Arsenal academy to come through the ranks. The left-back has failed to improve as a player though and this season his duels records are the weakest in the arsenal defence. The player has only won 40% of his duels, which is one of the lowest in the Premier League.

It is believed he will leave in the summer with some clubs interested in his signature.

The player identified by Wenger to replace Gibbs is 19-year-old Chilwell. The left back has been outstanding and attracted a lot of interest from the top teams. He is now signed with Leicester City, who sit at the top of the Premier League.

Chilwell went on loan during November until January for Championship side Huddersfield Town. The left back made many starts and during his time, the defence only conceded eight goals.

Chilwell is still young and has a lot to learn before making the very top. He is prone to making defensive errors which he needs to cut out of his game if he wants to take the first team spot in the Arsenal side if he joins. The player though is very disciplined, and it is very rare he gets booked.

At the start of the season, many Gunners fans were making Champions League final predictions. They thought that this was the season that they could push on and finally win the trophy they do desperately want. After losing 2 – 0 in the first leg against Barcelona, it looks highly unlikely to happen.

Barcelona is the Champions League final predictions favorite and on current form they look unbeatable.It would be an enormous surprise for them not to at least finish in the top two teams.

Author

John Hawthorne loves soccer and tries to take in as many games as possible. He writes about his Champions League predictions which get published on top footballing sites around the world. He has built up a base of followers who enjoy reading his pieces. If you are a keen follower of Champions League you may want to read more about his Champions League tip predictions.

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Arsenal back on track at Bournemouth

Bournemouth

After a poor spell in the league, Arsenal made moves to silence doubters in a convincing victory over Bournemouth.

Aaron Ramsey pulled the strings and set up both goals in the 2-0 win over the relegation-threatened south coast club. The first was a nice lob into the box to pick out Olivier Giroud, who headed it into Mesut Ozil’s path for the German to smash home past a helpless Artur Boruc. This was the Gunners’ first league goal in over five hours and everyone surely breathed a sigh of relief after thinking they had taken their foot off the pedal.

The first goal clearly gave the players some much needed confidence as they went on the attack again just over a minute later. Ramsey once again played the pivotal pass into the path of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who provided a neat finish by squaring the ball across goal to hit the post and go in.

Bournemouth had plenty of chances, more so than the away team, but they failed to put them away. Petr Cech once again proved why Arsene Wenger signed him by pulling off some outstanding saves to keep Arsenal in the game. Performances like these are absolutely vital for the Gunners to remain in contention for the title.

Arsenal's German midfielder Mesut Ozil celebrates after scoring their second goal during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Bournemouth at the Emirates Stadium in London on December 28, 2015. AFP PHOTO / ADRIAN DENNIS RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications.ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images

This win should giver Arsenal the impetus to continue their push for the Premier League title as they chase the leaders by five points coming into their crucial clash next week. They are at the time of writing level with Leicester City in the Premier League betting at 2/1 to win the title.

Bournemouth, meanwhile, are still five points clear of the relegation zone but they will need to pick up some points against Stoke and Everton in the next couple of weeks to avoid sinking further down. They face fellow newly-promoted side Watford at the end of February in what could prove to be an important game.

Arsenal were clear favourites going into the clash against Bournemouth, but that does not take away the fact that this was a well fought and important three points for the title challengers. After going four games without a win and not scoring in the last three, it was so important for Arsenal to really send a message to their rivals and remind them that they are still very much in the race as well.

Next week spells a thoroughly exciting weekend of football as all four top teams face off at the summit. Arsenal come up against the leaders Leicester while Tottenham Hotspur travel to Manchester City. It will be interesting to see if City manage to bounce back from their defeat to Leicester, and if they fail to do so it will only boost Spurs’ title credentials even further.

Wenger has already described the clash against the Foxes as a must-win game for them. If they lose, the gap will widen to eight points between themselves and the leaders.

Arsenal will be desperately hoping their big hitters can continue this momentum.

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Season Preview: Odds on Arsenal to Win The Premier League

So the 2015/16 season is upon us and there is a genuine belief this time that Arsenal can mount a serious title challenge and perhaps win the Premier League.

The Guardian have put together a quick preview video as we look forward to the new season…

The Odds on Arsenal

Arsenal’s official betting partners are Paddy Power, and they make the Gunners 4/1 third favourites to win the title. If you want to place this bet with Paddy Power you can join them here and get a free bet. In our (perhaps biased) opinion these are good odds and well worth a bet. I’ll explain why…

Nobody else has a better squad than we do this season. There’s strength in depth in most positions. Yes we’d maybe have liked another defensive midfielder, but I think it’s right to give Coquelin his chance there and Arteta can play the role as well. At centre back I think we’re stronger than our rivals already, and of course signing Cech is a huge boost.

It’s the attacking positions where we really excel. The strength in depth is huge in the wide positions especially. There are goal threats all over the pitch, so we should be able to cover even the most severe injury crisis. Our style of play was a joy to behold in the second half of last season, and if we can carry on that form between now and Christmas it should set us up superbly for a strong challenge.

Paddy Power might be offering better odds due to our partnership with them. I guarantee that there will be points in the season when we’ll be a lot shorter than 4/1 so I personally will be having a few quid on that before the seson kicks off this weekend.

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The “Who will we buy?” Mentality

Arsene-WengerSanogo out, Walcott Impressed, Wenger complained about having had to fight a losing battle and, unsurprisingly, the hunt for a world-class striker continues to drag on. Did I mention that the early signs were pretty impressive, as Arsenal earned their first trophy, albeit friendly one, as they beat Everton 3-1 to grab the Asia Trophy – with some impressive performances too!

To begin with, although it is barely a surprise, Sanogo has not been deemed stable enough to stake a claim for a first-time spot this season either. Considering his talent, the best move was for him to move on loan, as Arsenal get to have him back next year, if he reaches his potential. The loan move to Ajax will do wonders for him, as we know what Ajax can do to young, talented players.

Considering the above, the number of strikers in this team is slowly but surely decreasing, which made Wenger experiment with Walcott as an out-and-out striker – he impressed. Whilst the super-fast striker impressed as a striker, the same cannot be said for when he was switched back to the wing. He faded away, and that goes to show why he never quite realized his potential. Looks like he need to be a striker, and it is down to Wenger to either risk with him there or let him go to realize his potential elsewhere where such strikers are needed.

Now that we’ve reached the striker topic, Wenger seems to be searching for more of a complete goal-scorer. One in the form of Benzema or Cavani. A target man who can get others into play as well as score – and he cannot be blamed, as Wenger already has several quick and agile offensive players at his disposal, whereas the only one fitting the bill, Giroud, is far from stable. Although theoretically, Giroud is just what Wenger needs, in practice he has been very far from efficient especially during the big games.

A striker such as Bergkamp, Henry, Adebayor or Van Persie is what Wenger is looking for, he wants to continue the trend. However, that hunt is going far from smooth. Higuain has been over-priced by Napoli president, Benzema doesn’t look like he will be leaving Real Madrid especially considering the uncertainty regarding Cristiano Ronaldo, and Cavani just doesn’t look interested in coming to the Emirates. Aubameyang has recently been linked, but you get the feeling h would be more of a desperate “Plan B” than actually a catch.

Whatever the outcome, the most important thing that we’ve realized lately is that we, as a club, are no longer in the “Who are we going to sell?” mentality. During the last 2 years, we’ve switched to the “Who are we going to buy?” mentality and that is a very important sign.  “”Will we win the title this season? You cannot guarantee that in the Premier League. I just say we want to. I promise we will fight to win. A manager has to take the best potential out of the team he has.” Were the words of Wenger, and there definitely is reason to take his words seriously as Arsenal are building towards a title-challenging team, especially if they sign the players they are reported to be looking for.