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Report: Nketiah rejects contract offer, wants new club

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A last-ditch attempt to get Eddie Nketiah to stay at Arsenal has failed with The Athletic reporting that the striker has rejected a new contract offer.

The 22-year-old will be out of contract in the summer and seems intent on testing himself in pastures new having struggled for minutes at the Emirates since breaking into Arsene Wenger’s first team as an 18-year-old.

While Mikel Arteta made a point of reintegrating Nketiah after a spell on loan at Leeds went sour, the striker hasn’t done enough to prove he’s capable of taking over from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alex Lacazette next year and the contract offer seemed more geared towards protecting his value in the transfer market.

That’s not to say that Nketiah doesn’t have a bright future ahead. His impressive record at Academy level, his incredible form for England under-21s and 15 goals in 67 appearances at senior level is evidence he has the raw ingredients to succeed at the top level.

Unsurprisingly, a host of clubs are said to be interested including Borussia Moenchengladbach, Nice and several in Italy. He has previously been linked with West Ham United and Crystal Palace. If he joins an English club, we’ll most likely be due some compensation for raising him through our system. The tribunal process takes into account a number of factors, including how he was valued by his current club, and a contract offer – even if we know he’s going to reject it – may play into that.

Nketiah will be able to sign a pre-contract agreement with foreign clubs in January. We suspect if he does that, he may well be confined to the bench for the rest of the season, even with Aubameyang heading off to the AFCON in the new year.

The long-term belongs to Gabriel Martinelli and Folarin Balogun while an attacking signing next summer looks very likely.

Arteta: Rangnick arrival makes preparation trickier

Mikel Arteta admits that it’s “trickier than usual” trying to second guess how Manchester United will lineup against Arsenal tomorrow night because it’s unclear how much influence new interim coach Ralph Rangnick already has.

The German, appointed on an initial six-month contract in the aftermath of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s dismissal, won’t be in the dugout tomorrow night due to visa complications, it’s understood he’s already visited Old Trafford and spoken with caretaker boss Michael Carrick.

Whether that conversation dictates the Red Devils tactics is anyone’s guess although Carrick already sprang a surprise ahead of last Sunday’s 1-1 draw with Chelsea by relegating Cristiano Ronaldo to the bench.

Ahead of the trip to Old Trafford, Arteta was asked about Rangnick’s profile in his pre-game press conference.

“He has been one of the top coaches in every involvement he has had in the game, not only in coaching,” said the Spaniard.

“He’s made some radical changes in some areas and he’s a really interesting person in the footballing world, and a really interesting appointment for the club.”

While he wouldn’t be drawn on whether he’d specifically spoken to Per Mertesacker, who he crossed paths with at Hannover in the early noughties, the boss confirmed his team had been doing their homework.

“We try to gather information to understand more what to expect,” he said.

“We didn’t know if he was going to be sitting on the bench or if he was taking training sessions, so in terms of the preparations, it was a little bit trickier than usual because you don’t really know the influence that the new coach is going to have.”

Arsenal head into Thursday’s match on a five-game unbeaten run against United; the first time we’ve managed such a streak since the late nineties. While no crowd was there to see it, we even managed a win at Old Trafford last time out thanks to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s penalty.

Despite overcoming our mental block, Arteta is expecting a tough encounter under the lights.

“You know what to expect when you got to that stadium and play in front of that crowd,” he said.

“They are a team, a squad that is one of the most talented in the league. You know the situation you are going to face.

“It is very difficult tactically because you don’t know how they are going to prepare the game, the options that they can play, the formation they can [have] so it’s focused more on ourselves, on what we have to do and make sure the team is prepared to go there and beat them.”

He also knows it’s vitally important that we prove we can match our big six rivals after tepid defeats against Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool.

“We lost against Manchester City and we lost against Liverpool,” he noted. “It’s true that we beat Leicester, who have been one of the teams in that range in recent years, but obviously that’s what we want. To go to any ground and have to confidence to go out there against the top teams and beat them.

He added: “That’s what we have to try and do [win]. It’s not about winning once. I think when we won last year [at Old Trafford], Arsenal hadn’t won there for seventeen years so obviously, that cannot happen if we want to be at the top level.”

Preview – Arsenal U21s face Ipswich in Papa John’s Trophy

Arsenal U21s are competing in the Papa John’s Trophy for the fourth season in succession but they have still yet to progress beyond the second round.

That is something which they will be looking to change tonight when they travel to Portman Road to take on Ipswich Town.

After making it out of the group stages the young Gunners now face a side who are in 11th place in League One, although it is likely that Ipswich will make several changes for tonight’s game.

As far as Arsenal are concerned, coach Kevin Betsy will hope that his team will be considerably more resolute defensively than in the 5-3 league defeat to Derby County last week.

Charlie Patino and Salah-Eddine are both talented players with a lot of potential but it will be interesting to see whether Betsy considers bringing in a more defensive-minded midfielder alongside them, such as Tim Akinola or Jack Henry-Francis, to provide more protection to the defence.

Folarin Balogun, who scored a hat-trick against Derby, is likely to be involved again and he could have a key part to play if Arsenal are to make progress.

It has often been difficult for U21 teams to make an impact in this competition, which is perhaps to be expected given that they are coming up against senior opposition.

However, the possibility of Arsenal U21s eventually playing in the final at Wembley is intriguing and whatever unfolds tonight it should be a very useful experience for Arsenal’s youngsters.

The game kicks off at 7.45pm and will be streamed on iFollow at a cost of £10.

Jeorge Bird is the author of www.arsenalyouth.wordpress.com Follow him on Twitter @jeorgebird

“We have talks every week” – Arteta on the January transfer window

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As you might expect from someone who likes to play his cards close to his chest, Mikel Arteta wouldn’t be drawn on Arsenal’s potential plans for the January transfer window.

However, after being quizzed at today’s press conference, he did acknowledge  conversations about how to improve the squad and deal with potential incomings and outgoings happen on a regular basis behind the scenes.

With four players departing for the African Cup of Nations in January, including key men like Thomas Partey and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, as well as Nicolas Pepe and Mohamed Elneny, the squad could be light and many feel an addition – even on loan – would be useful to provide cover during that period.

It wasn’t a topic the Arsenal boss was keen to go into details on, but he referenced discussions that may lead to some business being done depending on how active the market is.

We have talks every week about it, how we can improve the team, and what things can happen in the January transfer window that can effect our squad,” he said.

“As you know, we have certain players with a little bit of uncertainty in the summer so we have to plan what’s going to happen now and what’s going to happen in the summer.

“A lot has to be done, we know and we don’t expect big things to be happening, but we need to be very alert in the market to see if we can improve the team.

“We have to be prepared because things can happen and injuries can arise in this period of the season and you have to be prepared and planned.”

His focus for now though, are the players he has available to him, saying, “I just trust in the players that we have and try to make them as good as possible and try to make them improve the team and try to be more and more consistent.

“If we play better we’ll get better results, that’s it.”

Arsenal January Transfers 2013 – 2021

January 2021 – Martin Odegaard (Real Madrid): Loan

January 2020: Pablo Mari (Flamengo): Loan* – Cedric Soares (Southampton): Loan*

January 2019: Denis Suarez (Barcelona): Loan

January 2018: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Borussia Dortmund): £55m – Henrik Mkhitaryan (Man Utd): Swap/Alexis Sanchez

January 2016: Mohamed Elneny (FC Basel): £7m

January 2014: Kim Kallstrom (Spartak Moscow): Loan

January 2013: Nacho Monreal (Malaga): £8m

*loans then made permanent

Arsenal Women Arsecast Episode 35: FA Cup Final preview ft. Steph Catley and Noelle Maritz

Welcome to a brand new episode of the Arsenal Women Arsecast, the number one podcast about Arsenal Women.

On this bonus episode of the Arsenal Women Arsecast, Tim talks to Arsenal left-back Steph Catley ahead of the showpiece game about her difficult first season in London, not being able to go home to Australia for over 18 months, her hamstring surgery last season and why she is loving this season. Tim is also joined by Arsenal right-back Noelle Maritz, who talks about her upbringing in the USA and Switzerland, facing up to her old Wolfsburg teammate Pernille Harder on Sunday and her first ever game at Wembley.

Then Tim and Alex are joined by women’s football journalist and Chelsea fan Jessy Parker Humphries for their perspective on Sunday’s showpiece final. You can follow Jessy on twitter @jessyjph

You can follow Tim on Twitter @Stillberto : Alex @AlexIbaceta23

If you are a regular listener via iTunes, if you would be so kind as to leave a review/rating that would be greatly appreciated.

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“That’s when you have to show trust” – Arteta on picking Tavares over Tierney

Having looked a bit shaky at Liverpool, many expected Nuno Tavares to be replaced by Kieran Tierney when Arsenal faced Newcastle last Saturday.

The Scot, a mainstay in the starting XI when fit last season, was waiting for the nod having recovered from injury, but it never came. Instead, Arteta stuck with his summer signing from Benfica and was fully rewarded as the left-back produced a swashbuckling performance that was rewarded with an assist for Bukayo Saka.

Tavares wasn’t the only fresh face to retain his place despite Anfield nerves. Sambi Lokonga, who was subbed off in the second half of the 4-0 defeat against the Reds, was also given a chance to redeem himself. He too delivered the goods.

Ahead of his side’s trip to Manchester United, Arteta explained his thinking.

“It was a tricky one,” he said of the conversation with Tierney. “After what happened at Anfield, and some individual errors that we had, we had to be very careful with the messages that we send to the players.

“I encourage my players to play with courage, to take risks, to make decisions and to be on the front foot. When they do that and, if for any reason things don’t go our way or somebody makes a mistake, that’s where you have to show trust in the player because you want to build confidence and resilience.

“It’s not only for the player who is playing but it’s for the player who is not playing to understand that part of that decision is to support and recognise that if it were to happen to them, I’d do the same thing.

“It’s something that we have to build. With young players even more because if you don’t, they can become very confused.”

Having struggled when key players were sidelined by injury last season – namely Tierney and Granit Xhaka – Arteta is clearly pleased that his squad now has more depth. He maintains that meritocracy will reign when he picks his teams.

“That’s the level that we want to achieve that in every position we have players that can perform at the highest level and complement each other by giving you different qualities.

“Last year, when we had the issue with Kieran and he was out for a while we had to invent and put players in that position and that’s something that we want to eradicate as much as possible.

“That’s why we made the decision that we made in the summer, to try to fill the gaps that we had and to make the team stronger. It’s only that.

“Kieran hasn’t played in a lot of games because he was still injured and in others, once Nuno played and he played well, I think he deserved a chance to continue playing.”

Arteta hopeful over Saka inclusion

Mikel Arteta says he’s hopeful that Bukayo Saka will be fit for tomorrow night’s trip to Manchester United and says the midfielder has been prepping for the match.

While we don’t know the specifics of the injury picked up on Saturday against Newcastle, we do know he couldn’t make it to the full time whistle and asked to be replaced.

Facing the media on Wednesday morning, Arteta confirmed that long-term absentees Granit Xhaka and Sead Kolasinac remain sidelined before confirming the medical team need to assess Saka and a few other knocks before the trip north.

“We have a doubt with Bukayo and another few knocks that we got against Newcastle. Today is the day to assess everybody and see if they can be fit for tomorrow and then make a decision on the lineup and the squad.

“I am hopeful [about Bukayo] but we don’t know. Obviously, it’s a really short turnaround and the player has to be comfortable playing with a little injury. Let’s see how it is in training.”

He added: “Until I see him this morning, on the pitch, it’s very difficult to say [how fit he is].”

Given the amount of football both Saka and fellow England international Emile Smith Rowe have played, it was put to Arteta that a time might come when he needs to give the youngsters a breather.

“We’re not going to risk our players if we believe that that can go against us,” he said.

“He [Bukayo] had an injury that meant he had to leave the pitch. When someone has to leave the pitch, I believe that he is injured. He wasn’t willing to continue. That injury can be 24 hours, 72 hours or a year. Bukayo is really willing, he’s been preparing the last two days because he wants to play. Let’s see how he is.

“He’s very important. As well, you see the importance of Gabi [Martinelli] when he came on. We have Nico [Pepe] who can play in that position, we have Eddie [Nketiah], we have many options that can fulfil their potential. That’s why players have to be ready when we need them to come in the team and make an impact.”

Arsenal Double winner Ray Kennedy dies age 70

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Ray Kennedy, the man whose header won Arsenal the league title at White Hart Lane in 1971, has passed away aged 70.

The striker, who went on to enjoy a trophy-laden stint at Liverpool between 1974-1982, had suffered from Parkinson’s in the latter stages of his career and throughout the rest of his life.

Kennedy made his Gunners’ debut as an 18-year-old and didn’t take long to leave an indelible mark on the club’s history, scoring the goal that reduced the deficit against Anderlecht in the first leg of the 1970 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup final. While Arsenal lost 3-1 in Belgium that night, a 3-0 win at Highbury secured the club’s first European honour and proved to be a springboard for the squad’s ‘Double’ success the following season.

Kennedy scored 26 goals in all competitions as the Gunners secured a first league title in 18 years and appeared in every game of the FA Cup run that ended with a 2-1 win over Liverpool at Wembley just fives days after his iconic goal at Sp*rs.

In total, he scored 71 goals in 212 appearances for Arsenal before joining Liverpool for a club-record £200,000 on the day Bill Shankley left Anfield. Under Bob Paisley, he won five league titles, three European Cups, the UEFA Cup and the League Cup.

Ray also played 17 times for England before winding down his career at Swansea, Hartlepool and Cypriot side Pezoporikos. By the time he reached non-league Ashington, he was already coming to terms with his Parkinson’s diagnosis.

Retiring from football in the grip of a long-term degenerative disease took a serious toll on Kennedy’s circumstances and he was thankful that Arsenal and Liverpool arranged a friendly to raise money to help cover his medical expenses.

On 27th April 1991, he was applauded onto the pitch by a packed Highbury crowd and both sets of players; a fitting moment for a man who gave so much to both clubs.

Our thoughts are with Ray’s family and friends at this time.

Flores earns call-up to Mexico senior squad

Arsenal youngster Marcelo Flores has been selected by Mexico for next week’s friendly with Chile in Austin, Texas.

The 18-year-old attacking midfielder earns his first call-up to the senior squad having caught the eye at under-20 level.

Last week, Flores, who is also eligible to represent Canada and England, was named Player of the Tournament at the Revelations Cup after scoring in victories against Brazil and the United States.

The goals gave him an excuse to pull out a pretty incredible celebration that makes Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s flip look old hat.

The teenager, a recruit from Ipswich in 2019, has also been impressing at Hale End, netting six goals in nine appearances for the Gunners’ under-18s.

Should he make his debut, Flores will join the growing number of kids who are quietly making progress at full international level.

Karl Hein has been a regular for Estonia, Omar Rekik made his debut for Tunisia in the summer and Daniel Ballard, currently on loan at Millwall, is in the Northern Ireland set-up.

Arsenal’s trip to Chelsea likely to be rescheduled

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Arsenal’s trip to Stamford Bridge in February looks likely to be rescheduled due to Chelsea’s involvement in the coronavirus-delayed Club World Cup.

The Gunners are pencilled to face the Blues at 3pm on 12 February, however, FIFA have now confirmed the final of their utterly pointless competition will be played on that date in the United Arab Emirates.

Given the opposition – Al Hilal, Al Ahly, Al Jazira, CF Monterrey, Auckland City and Palmeiras – Thomas Tuchel’s reigning European champions, who enter at the semi-final stage, will be favourites.

It’s unclear at this point when the game could be moved to.

Given our lack of European football, fixture congestion shouldn’t be too much of a problem for the Gunners heading into spring, however, it’ll be a whole different kettle of fish for Chelsea who will probably still be in the Champions League and could have to squeeze in two other postponed matches as a consequence of their jaunt to the Middle East.

You might remember, that in November 2019, Liverpool were forced to field different teams in two separate competitions within 24 hours after their Carabao Cup game with Aston Villa clashed with a Club World Cup semi-final in Qatar.