Arsenal are Still in the Title Hunt Despite Man United Draw

It’s been a tough few days for Arsenal manager, Arsene Wenger. On Saturday lunchtime, he witnessed his team’s most lacklustre performance since that day at Old Trafford in 2011, and four days later had to suffer the frustration of failing to break down Manchester United at the Emirates.
 
afc mancs
 
We always knew mid-February could define our season and, with a 5-1 defeat and 0-0 all we have to show for it so far, an air of pessimism has percolated into the minds of fans. Indeed, Arsenal’s title odds have soared from 3/1 to 8/1  on some football betting websites.
 
The squad have received most of this ire, with below-par Mesut Ozil a particular target, but Wenger himself has come in for criticism in the live football commentary for his failure to sign players in January  when our squad was burning low on fuel.
 
Sadly, history is history and if we all sit here and moan then we could end up in the situation we were two years ago, when even finishing in the top four was questionable. Let’s appreciate what we’ve got.
 
And let’s face it, Arsenal are still second in the league, just a point behind the leaders who dropped points against a much weaker team than United, West Brom, on Tuesday. Man City may have a game in hand but, as they say, they’ve still got to win it and, with their congested Champions League schedule, fitting in a home tie with Sunderland will be tough.
 
Meanwhile, Liverpool and Tottenham’s resurgences are probably just that and, with our three-point buffer over these two clubs, we should have enough to stave them off. So what’s all the complaining about? We’re in a far healthier position right now than we have been for years and both Chelsea and City have shown they are as prone to burnout as we are.
 
Thankfully, our FA Cup clash with Liverpool on Sunday gives us something different to focus on. It is evident that the stress of the title race gets to teams at some point in the season and we must not forget that we won five league games on the bounce in December/January, a feat that was never realistically going to be kept up.
 
Enjoy your day people.
 
Guest post brought to you courtesy of M. Weaver

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Wenger Must Favour Liverpool FA Cup Clash Above Bayern

 
As if February was not hard enough. Arsenal, who have a home tie with Manchester United sandwiched between a trip to Anfield and the first leg of our Champions League clash with Bayern Munich – all within 11 days – must now fit in another clash with Liverpool after the FA Cup fifth-round draw was made on Sunday.
 
Four games in 11 days is tough but these four games is near ridiculous. Not even the most optimistic of fans who bet on football are backing us to win all four, and it will be interesting to see how manager Arsene Wenger guides his team through this tricky schedule.
 
The first is a booby trap waiting to happen. Liverpool are free scoring at Anfield and although we comfortably beat them 2-0 earlier this season, this clash will be no easy affair. Luis Suarez has his tail up and defensive duo, Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny, must keep him at bay.
 
Indeed, the pair are the keystone to Wenger’s plans over this coming month, for if Mertesacker and Koscielny can stay fit we might just come through unscathed.
 
They must next handle Robin van Persie at our place – something Thomas Vermaelen failed to do last time – while the midfield will be introduced to Jose Mourinho’s double agent, Juan Mata, who this week signed for United for £37.5m.
 
With the visit of Bayern coming after a second clash with Liverpool, Wenger must decide how seriously he wants to win the FA Cup. Thankfully, the draw has also pitted Man City against Chelsea, so victory over Liverpool means Arsenal have just one realistic rival for the trophy.
 
bayern
 
Wenger is of course going to play full-strength sides in the league, but should he sacrifice a potential spanking at the hands of Bayern for safe passage into the FA Cup quarter-finals? It’s a decision that will keep the boss awake this month and one many football betting punters would like to see made , for with the greatest will in the world the Gunners have a better chance of winning the FA Cup than making the Champions League last-eight.
 

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Arsenal show Defensive Solidarity of Old at Villa Park

An interesting stat was highlighted on Monday night that few Gooners or football naturals would have known: Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny have never lost in the Premier League when they pair up for 90 minutes.
The run, which began when Mertesacker made his debut during a 1-0 win over Swansea in September 2011, now stretches to 28 games as Jack Wilshere and Olivier Giroud’s goals kept us top of the table in a (slightly nervy) 2-1 win over Aston Villa.
The pair have kept 16 clean sheets over that time at a cost of 0.5 goals per game.
per and kos
It is incredible to think such a stat exists when you consider how poorly Arsenal began last season, but since both players have been fit, few fans of live football commentary would argue Per and Laurent  have not been the best defensive partnership in the Premier League.
So what can we expect in the coming weeks? Mertesacker’s reaction to the midfield giving the ball away for Christian Benteke’s consolation goal on Monday suggests the Germany international has no desire to give up his streak. Both players are fit, playing considered football and, for maybe the first time since Campbell and Toure, continually talk to each other on the pitch.
While the front guys have grabbed most of the headlines this season, it is Arsenal’s regimented defence that has been the main difference between this season and last. We witnessed in Munich last year, after Bayern had split us apart in the Champions League last-16 first leg, how much they were hurt by the 3-1 home defeat and since then this defence has toughened up.
Of course, there are a few hiccups such as our 6-3 defeat at Manchester City last month but every team has a dip in the season and, by the looks of our strong resolve to grind out results, our dip has already passed.
The Gunners host a relegation-threatened Fulham this weekend and, with only the slightest possibility of an upset  if you check out the online football betting, it is more than likely Per and Laurent’s run will stretch to 29.

Enjoy your day people.

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Let Djourou Stay in Germany

The news that on-loan defender, Johan Djourou, doesn’t want to return to the club shouldn’t disappoint too many Arsenal fans, who would rather we would cut our ties with the 26-year-old altogether.
 
The Swiss international told Neue Presse Hannover he is happy at new club, Hannover, where he has made 12 appearances so far this spring.
 
“It would be fantastic if the clubs could agree on a deal,” he revealed. “It is a difficult situation since I still have two years left on my contract in London.”
 
Djourou left the Emirates in January after making just two appearances this season and hasn’t been missed since, boss, Arsene Wenger, finding a reasonably strong partnership in Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny.
 
With Arsenal set to strengthen their defence in the summer, it is becoming increasingly clear Djourou will not be in the first team from next season.
 
DJOUROU Hannover
 
Although the majority of football betting pundits agree  Djourou should be nowhere near the first team, news he wants to leave Arsenal is nevertheless disappointing for a player Wenger put so much trust in during the early years.
 
Since coming up through the ranks in 2005, the defender made over 100 appearances for Arsenal yet is maybe indicative of our recent plight. He’s never won a trophy and ruined his only chance during the Carling Cup final at Wembley.
 
The fact he started in 2011 against Birmingham proved just how fragile Arsenal’s defence was at the time and, although the only real addition has been Mertesacker, at least we have some nous at the back handling dangerous situations.
 
If anything, Djourou is the embodiment of our partially failed youth policy that put too much trust and gave too many shirts to players who simply weren’t good enough. Times are changing and Wenger has realised relying on poor youngsters to come good isn’t the solution to his problems.
 
If Djourou wants to go then let him; Arsenal are better off without a player who has proven incapable of meeting the demands of top-flight football, much to the chagrin of fans who enjoy a football bet
 
Guest post brought to you courtesy of Joe Short.

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Wenger patience wearing thin

With the protracted contract negotiations continuing between Arsenal and winger Theo Walcott, manager Arsene Wenger is clearly getting to the end of his tether.

There has been a distinct lack of apparent progress with the completion of a deal with the England international and as the weeks go by a resolution is looking more and more unlikely.

The other major factor is that Walcott will be out of contract at the end of the season and with the January transfer window edging closer, Arsenal are going to have one last chance to cash in on the former Southampton starlet if a deal can’t be agreed.

 arsene theo

With the Gunners in the midst of a poor run of form in the Premier League, the lack of commitment from one of the first-team players will not be helping matters at the Emirates.

Wenger has expressed his desire to keep Walcott at the North London outfit and believes the player would like to stay too but clearly something is holding up the deal.

The Frenchman said:

“With Theo, I have no news. I personally am not involved in that directly, indirectly of course yes, but at the moment we have not made any progress.

“Honestly, I am frustrated. Between the player and me it is all clear, he knows what he wants and he has to make up his mind.”

“We have been in negotiations with Theo for a long, long time, and we have not been late in our re-negotiations with him.”

“We always try to extend the contracts very early.”

With the likes of Liverpool believed to be interested in signing Walcott, we might well see the 23-year-old in the red of Liverpool instead of the Arsenal red in January.

Ahead of Bradford v Arsenal tonight make sure you check out all the Capital One Cup Betting markets with Betfair, as well as all the latest news, advice and newly updated Betfair Football In-play markets.

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