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Arteta unconcerned by Xhaka’s Newcastle rant

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Angry man says angry things after football match that made everyone angry – it really shouldn’t have garnered as many headlines as it did but this is the world we live in.

Asked for his reaction to Granit Xhaka’s spiky interview after Monday’s defeat to Newcastle – one in which the midfielder inferred some Arsenal players lacked balls for the big occasion – manager Mikel Arteta was never going to pour fuel on the flames.

“What we do in the dressing room, we don’t comment on it,” he said ahead of Sunday’s final game of the season.

“The moment you allow a person to be in front of a microphone is to express what their feelings are and Granit is someone who does it in front of the microphone, in front of your eyes and in your face. So there’s nothing different.”

The Spaniard also wouldn’t be drawn on who exactly was the subject of Granit’s ire.

“Well, you’ll have to ask the question to him exactly what he meant or who he was pointing at.

“The comments are clear, and then it’s down to OK, who it’s directed to, if it is somebody [else], or himself.”

Reaction to Xhaka’s two-minute tirade was, much like the reaction to the man in general, typically marmite.

While some were happy to see a player speak so frankly about a disastrous performance others took mortal offence to the Switzerland international’s tone.

Arteta sat on the fence about whether or not the interview had overstepped the mark.

“I prefer today not to comment too much on that, but when you allow people to speak in front of the media, you have to allow them to say what they feel, and knowing Granit, that’s what he felt.”

“Certain resources, not unlimited resources” – Arteta on Arsenal’s summer plans

It’s clear that Mikel Arteta wants to add more quality to his squad this summer but second-guessing the club’s transfer budget appears to be a pointless exercise at this point in time.

While the papers are awash with ‘war chest’ figures, the manager was quick to point out that squad building involves many moving parts.

“It’s not only about that amount,” said Arteta asked if the club are in a position to match the £150 million spent last summer.

“If you see the wage [bill] that we have and we had, it’s night and day. So it’s not only about spending, it’s about what you have sold.

“We had 28 players and we ended up with 19 in the squad, so it’s about the total expenditure. Because if not that figure is irrelevant. Because what is the total annual cost of the squad you are building?”

While he wouldn’t be drawn on what has been budgeted, the manager made clear Arsenal will do their best to maximise what they have.

Selling some players (a novel idea!) should help. Yesterday, the club confirmed that Dinos Mavropanos had been sold to Stuttgart and it’s expected Matteo Guendouzi and Lucas Torreira will follow the Greek’s lead by joining their own loan clubs, Marseille and Fiorentina.

With three first team players out of contract and question marks hanging over another six or seven, there is money to be made and saved.

“We are going to have certain resources, not unlimited resources, some resources,” said Arteta.

“And with our resources we have to play and do what we have to do in the best possible way.

Arteta is acutely aware that rival clubs will also be pushing hard to sign key targets and that standards are rising across the board.

“We don’t know what the rest are going to have in terms of resources, which I’m assuming is going to be challenging because now it’s not a top three or top four league. Now it is a top eight or 10 teams that are involved. That’s why we have to find a way to do again what we did last summer.

He added: “I think the league has never been that competitive. The numbers you could produce six years ago in this league, today you are out of Europe. It’s as simple as that.

“We know that and the plan we have is to be able to compete with these teams, but we don’t know what resources other teams will have. But we know other teams are starting from a different position, because they are in a different moment but we still need to have the aim to do that, because if you don’t, where do you end up? Just looking back, I don’t want to do that.

“We need to find ways to be able to compete with them, like we have done this season, because nobody expected us to do that with the squad we had and the expectation we had.”

While Arsenal were busy in the summer, we were the exact opposite in January. The club allowed a host of players to leave, including captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and chose not to plug the gaps. In retrospect, it feels like an opportunity was lost to bring in the necessary quality to get us over the line in our pursuit of Champions League football.

Arteta was emphatic in his response when asked if he had any regrets. “No,” he said decisively.

He was then asked if not spending in January leaves the club in a better position to do business this summer. It wasn’t entirely obvious what he meant by his reply.

“Everything that we did do, was trying to reach the objectives that we had after January – which was to try to be challenging the top four, and the way we were going to do it. Financially be stable and be in a position that come January or December we could allow ourselves to do certain things and not be completely locked.”

Video reaction: Vivianne Miedema signs new contract

As Arsenal fans celebrate the news about Vivianne Miedema agreeing to a contract extension, Tim Stillman explores the possible reasons behind her decision to stay.

Tim also discusses the possible terms of the new contract, the weight of the offers from other clubs, and her potential role in the squad for next season.

Arteta: We’re going to take the club to the next level

Facing the media for the final time this season, Mikel Arteta took the unusual step of opening his press conference with a statement.

Off the back of two damaging results at the end of a roller-coaster season, he seemed keen to accentuate the positives before welcoming supporters to Emirates Stadium for Sunday’s clash with Everton.

Here’s what he had to say:

“First of all, thank you. It’s probably the last time I’m going to see you after Sunday and then we all go on holiday.

“Just a quick reflection, it’s been a long journey and a very challenging one this season. We’ve come a long way as a club and as a team, we’ve transformed the energy, the vibe and the expectations of this football club. We’ve done it together, showing incredible unity between the staff, the players and everybody involved with the club and especially our people, which has been incredibly supportive throughout the season, especially in difficult moments.

“Now I can sense that I have the hope and expectations to move the club to the place that it deserves. We’ve done it the way we predicted with the project that we set a year ago, with a lot of young players and the senior players helping and the crowds again in our stadium and with a real sense of connection around the place.

“We are back in Europe, we don’t know where. Sunday it will be decided. Hopefully, it will be Champions League because on Sunday, I believe we’ll do what we have to do and we’re going to be cheering for Norwich to do what they can do, for sure.

“After that, we’re going to take the club to the next level. That’s the ambition. We have a very clear plan again, how we want to do it and execute it. It’s no secret, we need resources and we need to increase the quality and the depth of the squad while maintaining who we are as a club and the people that we have next to us. That’s going to be the challenge in the following season.

“Hopefully, on Sunday in front of our people, we can live another great day.”

Vivianne Miedema signs contract extension with Arsenal

Arsenal’s star forward Vivianne Miedema has signed a contract extension with the club. The length of the deal has not been disclosed but is believed to be for one-year with an option for a further year. The Dutch international’s previous deal was set to expire on June 30th and her future has been subject to intense speculation for several months now.

Clubs such as Lyon and PSG made inquiries but Barcelona always seemed to be the front runners if a transfer were to take place. Miedema is on record as saying that she is happy at Arsenal and in London but wants to be convinced that the club can compete to win the Champions League.

Miedema has broken the WSL goalscoring record and the Netherlands goalscoring record during her time at the club, also winning a host of individual honours. She has only won the Conti Cup and a WSL title in terms of team honours, however.

Miedema owns her house in London, where she is settled and says she wants to play in a league where she is challenged. Barcelona will almost certainly win the Champions League next season and domestically, they have won every single league game with a +129 goal difference.

The calculation for Miedema has been about being challenged domestically versus winning the UWCL and there are essentially no teams that currently offer both. Signing a reported one-year extension with the Gunners is likely Viv’s way of seeing whether she can be convinced that Arsenal can challenge to win the UWCL, which they haven’t done since 2007.

They’ve been eliminated at the quarter-final stage both times Miedema has played for the club in the competition. She has recently converted to a number 10 role in the second half of the campaign, a role she really enjoys and that has factored into her decision.

Miedema told Arsenal.com, “I think the most beautiful thing about the game is building something with a team and with people around you that you really want to be around.

“I do feel like I have got that at Arsenal. I feel like for me, winning titles with Arsenal will mean a lot more to me than winning them with another club at the moment. And that’s what I obviously hope to achieve with Arsenal.”

Arsenal coach Jonas Eidevall added: “Viv is a stellar talent and a hugely important player for this team, so it’s fantastic news that she is staying with us.

“As a club, our ambition is to win titles and compete at the highest level – we know Viv’s own ambitions are the same, and together we will give everything to achieve that.”

Arteta: We did more than expected

Defeat to Newcastle may mean Champions League qualification is out of Arsenal’s hands heading into the final game of the season but for all the pain and frustration of Monday’s result, Mikel Arteta believes his players will come to recognise the progress they’ve made this season.

After two years of finishing eighth in the Premier League, the Gunners are guaranteed European football next season and won’t finish lower than fifth in the standings. Given the extensive surgery conducted on the squad last summer, the way the new-look squad has gelled bodes well for the future.

“In a week’s time when we are all on holiday and we look back at what we’ve done, whether we are in the Champions League or the Europa League, I think everybody will agree that we did more than was expected,” he told BBC Football Focus.

Giving Arteta a particular reason for optimism is the squad’s average age. The manager has consistently fielded the youngest starting XI in the Premier League and says the players should be lauded for their efforts against more experienced competition.

“They have shown what it takes [to compete for the Champions League] because what they’ve done, in the last 10 seasons nobody has done it, a club, a team with that age bracket starting XI that we have put on the pitch, it hasn’t been done in this league.

“It’s something they’ve done and that’s credit to the team for what they have delivered. The thing is, where we want to be is not where we are today, we want to be the best and that gap is still really big.”

Alongside progress on the pitch, Arteta believes there’s a growing togetherness behind the scenes and a strengthened bond with supporters. Having identified issues on both fronts when he took over in December 2019, he’s keen to play up the repair work that’s taken place.

“We’ve come a long way in many things, especially who we are as a club and the connection between what we are doing and how our people feel about what we are doing.

“That’s really important as well and it takes a long time to build that trust.”

We’ll hear more from Arteta later this afternoon when he faces the media in his final pre-game press conference of the season.

Arsenal Women to play six games at Emirates Stadium next season

Arsenal Women have announced that they plan to play six games at Emirates Stadium next season. In the 2021-22 campaign, the Gunners played at the bigger stadium four times.

Two of those games were London derby victories over Chelsea and Sp*rs in the WSL, they also played the home leg of their Champions League quarter-final with Wolfsburg, which they drew 1-1, and a UWCL group game against Barcelona, which they lost 4-0 in December in N5.

Next season, the club says that three WSL fixtures will take place at the Emirates, with most of these likely to occur in three of the four men’s international breaks during the campaign.

The Gunners have to play a qualifier in September before confirming their place in the UWCL group stage next season but, should they qualify, all three home group games will be played at the Emirates. Arsenal will be seeded for the qualifiers this year.

Should Arsenal get to the knockout rounds, it is likely that pattern will continue too due to the competition rules, which state that VAR must be in action for these matches.

Arsenal have also announced the season ticket prices will be held flat for the upcoming campaign, with all 11 WSL home games and the first domestic cup game and first UWCL group game should Arsenal negotiate their qualifier.

The club will also forego the membership pack next season, which will mean that the membership will revert to more of a season ticket. The membership packs have proved unpopular given how long they take to arrive with the 2021-22 pack arriving with supporters just days before the final game of the season.

The UWCL group games will take place on the following dates:

19-20 October 2022
26-27 October 2022
7-8 December 2022
15-16 December 2022
21-22 December 2022

Stuttgart confirm Mavropanos deal

Dinos Mavropanos has joined Stuttgart on a permanent deal after the German side secured their Bundesliga status at the weekend.

On loan at the Mercedes Benz Arena for the last two seasons, Die Roten had a clause in their contract obligating them to buy the defender should they avoid relegation. Following a last-gasp win over Cologne on the final day of the season, they did just that and have wasted no time completing a £4.5 million deal.

The Athletic reported earlier this week that the fee is an upfront £3 million payment plus an additional £1.5 million in bonuses. Given that Mavropanos has become the fulcrum of their defence – he’s made 55 appearances since joining in the summer of 2020 – they are no doubt pleased with their bargain.

Signed for Arsene Wenger by Sven Mislintat in January 2018, Dinos was earmarked as a player for the future at Emirates Stadium but saw his development seriously hampered by injuries.

A six-month spell at FC Nurnberg in the 2019/20 season saw him rebuild his confidence and after Mislintat left Arsenal to later become Stuttgart’s Director of Football, he made the 6ft 4″ defender a priority signing.

On making the loan deal permanent, Mislintat said: “Dinos brings enormous power and willpower to our game and has also stabilised at a high physical level. He has made a clear commitment to VfB and our path, and we are very much looking forward to continuing to work together.”

Earlier this year, it was reported that West Ham are willing to spend upwards of £20 million on the centre-back and could yet do a deal with Stuttgart in the coming months. If that plays out, it’s not going to be a good look for Edu who must have been cursing the stoppage-time goal that saved Stuttgart’s bacon on Saturday.

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Cheers to the eagle-eyed @shsharrington for the heads up.

Martinelli switches squad number for 22/23 season

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It looks as though Gabriel Martinelli will be Arsenal’s number 11 from the start of the 2022/23 season.

While the club are yet to make an official announcement about the switch, the club’s official online store is already selling new home jerseys with the updated number.

Martinelli has worn the number 35 since signing before the 2019/20 season.

The Arsenal number 11 shirt has been vacant this season. Martin Odegaard wore it during last season’s loan spell while Lucas Torreira, Mesut Ozil, Andre Santos and Carlos Vela have also sported the number since Robin van Persie long stint with it.

Screenshot from Arsenal Direct showing Martinelli as the no. 11

Update: Arsenal have confirmed the news.

Arsenal launch new home kit for 2022/23 season

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Arsenal’s new home kit for the 2022/23 season is now available to buy via the club shop and the adidas website.

Taking its design inspiration from Nike’s first Gunners shirt released in 1994, it features a lightning bolt motif on the polo collar and a red underside to the white sleeves.

The white shorts feature red adidas stripes and a red trim while the lightning motif continues on the socks which come in both red and white. The shirt is also made with 100% recycled materials. All in all, it looks very smart.

The hook from the club on launch day is the fact that £5 from every home bought directly through Arsenal ahead of the new season (19th May – 5th August) will go directly to The Arsenal Foundation to support local community initiatives. We should point out that the fan kit is selling at £70 this year compared to £65 last year. The authentic version continues to retail at £100.

The club have also released a rather lovely promotional video which continues the ‘Arsenal Supporting Supporters’ campaign that has proved so popular this year.

Soundtracked by ‘We could have been anything’ – the song made famous by Bugsy Malone – and featuring a voiceover by Arsenal Vision’s Clive Palmer, the film features Bukayo Saka, Emile Smith Rowe, Gabriel Martinelli, Granit Xhaka, Viv Miedema (hint, hint), Leah Williamson, Lotte Wubben-Moy and Stina Blackstenius as they ‘give a little love’ to nearby clubs, businesses and fans.

We’re sure it’ll prove popular.

Arsenal are set to wear the new home strip for the first time against Everton on Sunday. Here’s hoping it miraculously guides us to the Champions League.

Arsenal Home Shirt 22/23 – Men’s, Authentic
Arsenal Home Shirt 22/23 – Women’s, Replica
Arsenal Home Shirt 22/23 – Men’s, Long Sleeve, Replica
Arsenal Home Shorts 22/23
Arsenal Home Socks 22/23, Red
Arsenal Home Socks 22/23, White
Arsenal keeper shirt 22/23, Men’s