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Posts Tagged ‘Arsenal’

Friendly Result: Nagoya 1-3 Arsenal

Arsenal continued their pre-season preparations with a comfortable 3-1 win over Japanese club side Nagoya Grampus at a packed Toyota Stadium just outside Nagoya City. The Gunners took an early lead through Olivier Giroud in only the third minute and doubled their advantage with a penalty in the twenty sixth minute. Arsenal’s Japanese winger Ryo Miyaichi was handed responsibility for the kick and delighted his home fans by converting it for 2-0. The third goal came ten minutes into the second half when Theo Walcott beat the keeper to make it 3-0 and complete Arsenal’s scoring. The Japanese struck back in the seventy second minute when Kisho Yano headed home.

It was a strong and experienced Arsenal line-up with Lukasz Fabianksi in goal and a back four of Bakari Sagna, Per Mertesacker, Carl Jenkinson and Kieran Gibbs. Thomas Rosicky, Mikel Arteta, Aaron Ramsey and Ryo Miyaichi made up the midfield with Olivier Giroud and Theo Walcott up front. There were plenty of substitutions in the second half as Jack Wilshere, Lukas Podolski and youth teamers Gedion Zelalem and Serge Gnabry replaced Miyaichi, Rosicky, Giroud and Arteta for the restart, Ignasi Miquel later replaced Gibbs and Chuks Aneke and Chuba Akpom came on for Walcott and Ramsey mid way through the half as Wenger experimented with his squad. Next up for Arsenal is a game against Urawa Reds on Friday.

Bernard on the way to Arsenal

French newspaper L’Equipe is reporting that Brazilian starlet Bernard is heading for the Emirates Stadium to sign for Arsenal in what is practically a done deal. The twenty year old is a left-sided attacking midfielder currently on the books at Atletico Mineiro and he has five caps for Brazil, having appeared in their successful Confederations Cup winning campaign this summer. Bernard, or to give him his full name, Bernard Anício Caldeira Duarte, is a diminutive figure with a venomous shot and neat and tidy passing skills that will fit in well with Arsene Wenger’s style of play. Arsenal are rumoured to be paying about £21 million for the player, who they hope to secure on a five year contract worth about £2.8 million per year after tax. According to L’Equipe, he will arrive in London on Friday for a medical, which is expected to be a formality, and will then sign for the Gunners, who have beaten off interest from Shakhtar Donetsk, FC Porto and Spurs for the player’s services.

Before he can travel to Europe, Bernard must play one final match for Atletico Mineiro on Wednesday night as they attempt to overturn a 2-0 deficit in the second leg of the Copa Libertadores final against Olimpia of Paraguay. His send off will be at home in the Estádio Governador Magalhães Pinto in Belo Horizonte and the local fans will hope that his presence on the team sheet can inspire a come-back. He missed the first leg through suspension after picking up a yellow card in the semi final second leg and his team struggled to create chances without him, but playing at home alongside Ronaldinho and Jo, he will be expected to take the game to the Paraguayans. The Arsenal squad is currently on tour in Japan but they get back to London at the end of the month in time for the Emirates Cup on the first weekend in August when their new signing could be unveiled.

Benteke Weighs up his Options – London Calling

Aston Villa’s 22-year old striker Christian Benteke has been talking about his future career path at a press conference in the USA whilst on international duty with the Belgian national team. Benteke, who was fourth top scorer in the 2012-13 Premier League season with nineteen goals in his debut season in English football is hot property and has been linked with a big money move away from Villa Park.

He was quoted as saying “If Aston Villa say I must stay, I won’t necessarily accept that. I do not in any way want to feel I didn’t get the most out of my career” and “If the chance comes up for me to join a club like Arsenal, I’m convinced we can reach a compromise where everyone comes out a winner.” However, his agent moved to play down the speculation by reiterating that his client is happy at Villa.

Benteke’s words will obviously have alerted Arsenal, who reportedly have money to spend this summer and may be on the look out for a striker to bolster their forward line. However, there hasn’t been any confirmed interest in Benteke from the Arsenal camp and it remains to be seen whether Arsene Wenger would be prepared to splash out a large amount of money on one player from the Premier League rather than continue to look for value overseas.

If Christian Benteke does decide to push for a transfer away from Villa Park this summer and the Emirates Stadium isn’t to be his destination then he could still end up in London where Chelsea might show an interest if Jose Mourinho does take over as expected. Mourinho is known to be a fan of the strong, bustling centre-forward type player who is also good on the ball and he could look to build his attack around someone like Benteke in the image of his successful Stamford Bridge teams that were spearheaded by Didier Drogba.

The alternative destination in London could be White Hart Lane. Many people were surprised when they didn’t sign a striker in the January transfer window and Andre Villas Boas will probably look to strengthen his striking options this summer. News that Gareth Bale is staying put shows that they are ambitious to improve next season and Spurs will need a big squad to cope with their domestic and European campaigns so Benteke would be a logical recruitment for Tottenham Hotspur.

Giroud finds his head

Long before Arsene Wenger sold Robin Van Persie the top scorer in last years Premier League to Man United  he swooped to sign the top scorer in Ligue 1 from Champions Montpellier. Olivier Giroud who had scored 21 goals firing the unfancied Montpellier to a shock title win and already a full French International seemed a real snip at around £12 million.  His arrival was soon overshadowed by Wenger flogging yet another star man; with Arsenal fans and the media predicting yet another season of frustration. RVP leaving to join Man United in many eyes confirmed Arsenal’s position away from the Premier League’s top table.

Undeterred by the level of expectation Giroud stepped on the pitch for the first time chest puffed out, head held high and strutting around like only the most French of Frenchmen can. Arsenal’s new Number 12 clearly had a presence and demonstrated great movement but he proceeded to fluff his lines, missing easy chances in his first few games. Rather than being given time to settle the papers rounded on Giroud describing him as a flop and comparing him to Chamakh or worse still Borini. Dozens of headline were written and thousands of Tweets were fired into the Twitter-sphere,  Giroud wasn’t up to it according to many experts and fans. He shrugged off the criticism and insisted he believed in himself, never shied away an attitude than eventually reaped his rewards.

Today he’s made 12 starts, scored 7 goals and laid on 7 assists, not bad for a flop. Last night watching Olivier Giroud up against his former club in the Champions League, it dawned on me crosses and corners are no longer pointless for Arsenal. Season after season Arsenal fans have watched their full backs run backwards and forwards the length of the pitch only to fire in crosses which nobody challenged for. Realising crossing was worthless the ball would be played back, around across and frustratingly never anywhere near the goal. Giroud gives Arsenal a presence in the box we’ve never had under Wenger and I love it, he fights for everything in the air and more often than not he wins the ball. His link up play is improving and his chipped pass to Podolski against Montpellier was almost as stunning as the finish. Giroud finally gives Arsenal a plan B and they’re getting the hang of using it.

Arsenal fans can look forward to a lot more from Giroud.

 

 

Sunderland dump Arsenal out of cup as Chelsea face replay

A second cup defeat in three days has ended any realistic hopes Arsenal had of ending their trophy drought before it reaches the seven year mark. Following hot on the heels of their midweek Champions League humiliation in Milan, Arsenal faced a tricky FA Cup tie at the Stadium of Light, scene of Thierry Henry’s late winner in the Premier League only seven days earlier. However, with the French striker heading back to America, there was no saviour this time around as Martin O’Neill’s Sunderland raced out of the blocks in search of revenge.

The Black Cats enjoyed the best of the opening exchanges and played with much more conviction than their opponents, whose injury crisis only deepened, with young Francis Coquelin forced off after only ten minutes, at the ground where they lost Per Mertesacker last weekend. Ramsey and Squillaci were also forced to leave the action prematurely soon after the interval, but by then the Gunners were already trailing to Keiran Richardson’s deflected shot in the 40th minute. Van Persie was perhaps unlucky to be denied a first half penalty, but Arsenal didn’t create many other openings and their fate was sealed in the 77th minute when a lightening break by Sessegnon and Larsson was rounded off by the unfortunate Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who bundled the ball into his own net as it came back off a post.

England’s other Champions League representatives fared little better. Chelsea had to come from behind to earn a draw with Championship side Birmingham at Stamford Bridge, Davind Murphy having put the visitors ahead in the 20th minute, shortly before Juan Mata missed a penalty. Daniel Sturridge got the equaliser in the 62nd minute to force a replay.

In the other FA Cup Fifth Round ties there were wins for Everton, Leicester City and Bolton Wanderers against Blackpool, Norwich and Millwall respectively. The final three ties are being played on Sunday and see minnows Crawley Town and Stevenage take on Stoke City and Tottenham Hotspur respectively whilst Liverpool host Brighton and Hove Albion at Anfield.

Arsenal's absent signings

Arsene Wenger, only he knows if any signing are close

As the 2010/2011 Premier League season approaches Arsenal fans up and down the Country are feeling a little concerned. Last season it was clear the defence and goalkeeper needed some improving, Arsene Wenger said as much at the end of the season as well as saying he wanted to get any signings in quickly. The Colney creche approach means the new 25 man squad regulations have dealt Wenger a strong hand if he chooses to use it, but will he?

With a couple of weeks to go until the start of the season and most of pre-season behind us Arsenal have lost Campbell, Silverstre and Gallas with only Koscielny coming the other way. I don’t know too much about Koscielny other than the fact he comes from a mid table French club, has no European or International experience and doesn’t look like the beast of a defender Arsenal fans have so longer for. It looks like there still isn’t a solution to the Drogba problem, who will most likely be licking his lips when he sets his sights on Arsenal’s new boy. Those who argue he could hit the ground running like Vermaelen need to consider Vermaelen had played in Europe, played International football and performed week in-week out in a spectacular stadium at Ajax. Aside from Koscielny and Vermaelen the only recognisable centre backs are Johan Djourou and Havard Nordtveit. Djourou spent all last season injured and looks to already have a knock this year, expect Wenger to announce he’s like a new signing shortly, he has all the assets needed to be a great player but needs to stay clear of injuries for a period of time, he can only really be considered a 4th choice centre back this year. The last recognisable centre back who could be considered is Havard Nordtveit who spent last season playing defensive midfield for Nuremberg and has performed well as right back for Arsenal this pre-season, he hardly sounds ready to step up just yet. It leads me to conclude that Arsenal need to sign a strong experience centre back who can hit the ground running, Jagielka, Mertesaker and others have been mentioned but Wenger needs to move soon or he could risk blowing another season.

The other worrying position is between the sticks, after Almunia was shunned at the end of last season and Wenger astonishingly spoke about how he gets nervous before big games it’s amazing that he’s still at the club let alone the chance he could start the season as number 1. The alternatives at the moment are worrying, Fabianski has recieved endless praise and chances from Wenger but lets him down time and time again, Mannone looks fairly solid but rarely gets a chance and then there’s Szczesny who I think is the reason for a lot of our issues. I believe Wenger thinks Szczesny is going to be a star and doesn’t want to bring in a frist choice 28-30 year old keeper because it’ll stall his progress. This is why he seems to be incesantly chasing the aging Mark Schwarzer at Fulham, you’d take him over Almunia but he’s still not great. The worst case would be signing nobody which is looking increasingly likely.

So onto the new Squad regulations and due to the age of the Arsenal squad and number of “home grown” players who to be fair are mostly foreign everyone one of the current 26 players is eligible to play, not only that but Wenger sill has four slots that can be taken by players of any age and any nationality. If Wenger where to use these four slots to sign quality experienced players he’d have one of the biggest squads available in the Premier League. Arsenal fans can only hope Wenger finally patches up the flaws that have plagued Arsenal over the past 3-4 seasons.

Arsenal’s current first-team squad contains 26 players, of which 13 are counted as home grown, and seven are Under-21s.

The breakdown is as follows.

1 Manuel Almunia (May 19, 1977)
2 Abou Diaby (May 11, 1986)
3 Bacary Sagna (February 14, 1983)
4 Cesc Fabregas (May 4, 1987)
5 Thomas Vermaelen (November 14, 1985)
6 Laurent Koscielny
7 Tomas Rosicky (October 4, 1980)
8 Samir Nasri (June 26, 1987)
11 Robin van Persie (August 6, 1983)
12 Carlos Vela (March 1, 1989)*
14 Theo Walcott (March 16, 1989)*
15 Denilson (February 16, 1988)
16 Aaron Ramsey (December 26, 1990)*
17 Alex Song (September 9, 1987)
19 Jack Wilshere (January 1, 1992)*
20 Johan Djourou (January 18, 1987)

21 Lukasz Fabianski (April 18, 1985)
22 Gael Clichy (July 26, 1985)
23 Andrey Arshavin (May 29, 1981)
24 Vito Mannone (March 2, 1988)
27 Emmanuel Eboue (June 4, 1983)
28 Kieran Gibbs (September 26, 1989)*
29 Marouane Chamakh (January 10, 1984)
30 Armand Traore (October 8, 1989)*
52 Nicklas Bendtner (January 16, 1988)
53 Wojciech Szczesny (April 18, 1990)*

Players in BOLD = home grown
* = Under-21 for season 2010/11
(date in brackets is player’s date of birth)

Arsenal Future Opponent Focus: FC Porto

Portuguese giants FC Porto may be struggling in their domestic league, but could still prove dangerous opponents for Arsenal.  www.aboutaball.co.uk takes a look at the challenge facing The Gunners in the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League.

History 

FC Porto emerged from the shadow of the Lisbon-based giants Benfica and Sporting Lisbon during the course of the 1980’s powered by the ambitious Costa da Pinto, who was determined to wrest control of Portuguese football away from the capital to the Northern port of Oporto.  After claiming Europe’s premier trophy in 1987, the 1990’s were a story of near-misses on the European scene, as they continued to rack up the titles domestically. 

However, the arrival of enigmatic manager Jose Mourinho at the turn of the decade, then a little-known, but outspoken manager, once again propelled FC Porto into the big time claiming first the UEFA Cup in 2003 before following that up with the Champions League the following season. 

Mourinho’s departure along with several big-name players left an inevitable vacuum at the club, but current coach Jesualdo Ferreira has been able to finally help fill the chasm the current Inter Milan boss left behind. 

Whilst Porto haven’t looked like being able to consistently bridge the gap between themselves and the highest echelon of European football, they can still boast an impressive record of surviving Christmas in the continent’s premier club competition, even if the Round of 16 has been frequently as far as they have progressed in recent seasons.

Season so far

2008/09 gave a hint that the football landscape in Portugal might be on the verge of changing when Sporting pushed FC Porto hard for the title.  Heavy investment by Benfica over the summer combined with the loss of several key FC Porto players, such as Lucho Gonzalez and Lisandro Lopez, plus the emergence of provincial side Sporting Braga as credible and prolonged candidates for the title, has helped demote FC Porto yet further.

The sense of dissatisfaction amongst the supporters regarding the radical shift in the past few months back towards the capital has been further exacerbated, as FC Porto have exercised a policy of financial prudence in the transfer market, whilst their rivals have invested heavily in their squads.  Furthermore controversy following an incident involving two FC Porto players in the tunnel in the aftermath of the most recent meeting between themselves and Benfica has led to a lengthy domestic ban for Hulk and Cristian Sapunaru and forced many FC Porto fans to wonder if they are being made to pay for their recent dominance of the Portuguese league. 

A 0-0 draw against Leixoes at the weekend cost FC Porto further ground in the title race and they now find themselves nine points adrift of Benfica, and even eight off a place in next season’s Champions League qualifying rounds and thus facing the prospect of missing out on Europe’s cash rich competition next season.  Despite the wide-spread disappointment at the way 2009/10 has worked out, FC Porto still managed to come through a potentially tricky Champions League group ahead of the better fancied Atletico Madrid, are still in with a chance in all four competitions they entered and haven’t tasted defeat since before Christmas. 

Manager

Despite having a stint as coach at hated rivals Benfica on his CV, manager Jesualdo Ferreira is a well respected figure at FC Porto and seen as the first coach that has really been able to overcome the legacy/burden of the Mourinho-era.  The 63-year-old has seen it all, and has helped keep FC Porto within touching distance of the European top thanks to a canny transfer policy and making the best of his available resources.  Indeed Ferreira can in some respect claim to trump Mourinho, at least in the domestic arena, as he is the only coach to have won three consecutive Superliga titles, something the former Chelsea motor-mouth never achieved. 

Players to watch

Radamel Falcao in action against Chelsea earlier in the season (GLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images)

Whilst much of the pre-match talk has been of supposed Manchester United target Hulk, the Brazilian’s suspension means that a lack of match fitness will almost certainly cost him his place in the starting XI.  Nevertheless FC Porto can still call on several excellent replacements including Colombian striker Radamel Falcao.  Believed to have been a target for Aston Villa during the winter transfer window, the Colombian forward only arrived in Europe with FC Porto over the summer after catching the eye in the Argentine league.  Falcao is good on the ball, with a turn of pace and also decent in the air, therefore combining all the necessary attributes to present a genuine threat to the Arsenal defence.

Uruguayan forward Cristian Benitez won many plaudits with two strong performances at this stage last season, as FC Porto succumbed to Manchester United.  After scoring at Old Trafford in the first leg, the left-sided midfielder was also linked with several prominent names around Europe.  Nevertheless the talented player nicknamed The Little Onion for his ability to drive opponents to tears with his range of tricks and jinking runs, remains in Portugal for the time being.  Playing from a left-sided attacking position, Benitez will look to exploit any space left in behind the Arsenal right-back.

Strengths

- An ability to be able to exploit their underdog status in continental competition successfully transferring the perceived pressure onto their more illustrious opponents

- Excellent movement in the attacking-third, which will have to be closely watched by the Arsenal defence

- A good home record in the Champions League, especially against English teams, who have often struggled there (Manchester United winning at the Estadio Dragao was the first ever English victory at FC Porto)

Weaknesses

- With Hulk unlikely to feature in the first leg from the start a lack of a genuine centre-forward to lead the line

- In Helton, a Brazilian goalkeeper in the mould of AC Milan’s Dida, a goalkeeper who is a good shot-stopper but liable to drop the occasional clanger

- Potentially brittle confidence after their failure to match Benfica in the domestic Championship this season making the first goal potentially of huge significance

Familiar faces

Surprisingly there are no ex-Premiership players currently in the FC Porto squad as transfer policy has focussed more on developing upcoming talent rather than picking up off-casts from other European sides, something that both Benfica and Sporting Lisbon have both actively engaged in this season. 

Have we met before?

It’s been just over 12 months since Arsenal and FC Porto last met, sharing a win a piece in the Group Stages of last season’s competition.  The Gunners ran out 4-0 winners at the Emirates Stadium proving far too strong for the Portuguese side with van Persie and Adebayor both helping themselves to a brace.  The pair then met in the final game with qualification secured for both, and FC Porto repaid the compliment with a 2-0 win.

The pair also met for the only other time in the group stages of the 2006/07 tournament, this time Arsenal coming out crucially on top with a win and a draw, which also helped them secure top-spot in the group at the expense of FC Porto after they both finished with 11 points.  Thierry Henry and Aliksandr Hleb were on target in the home leg in a 2-0 victory and a 0-0 draw, once again in the final group game, gave Arsenal the advantage on the head-to-head record. 

Check out form of FC Porto and match odds at: http://aboutaball.bettorlogic.com/leaguesummary.aspx

Premiership Debate: Did Arsenal lose against Chelsea because of Arsène Wenger?

Arsene Wenger: "D'oh??"

The flag often seen in the background at the Emirates Stadium proclaims: “In Arsène we trust!”  A bold statement, but as Arsenal slump to nine points off the pace set at the top of the Premiership and Chelsea and Manchester United ease themselves away again, www.aboutaball.co.uk looks at whether Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger is as much the cause and solution to Arsenal’s problems.

 The conundrum was perfectly summed up by Homer Simpson in one episode of The Simpsons when sat at Moe’s Tavern and about to start the umpteenth beer of the night he mulls: “Ahh beer…the cause and solution to all of life’s problems”.  Perhaps if one subbed Arsène Wenger for beer, and despondent Gooners for Homer Simpson there might be quite a parallel today.

Right from the outset of this piece it should be pointed out that the recent success enjoyed by the club combined with the flamboyancy that Arsenal play with is entirely down to Arsène Wenger and the rest of his backroom staff, who have instilled a playing ethos that makes the club one of the most attractive in the world. 

By almost any measure Arsène Wenger is one of the greatest managers that, not only Arsenal, but the entire English league has ever witnessed.  Furthermore whilst recent silverware has been thin on the ground, Wenger’s overall record is still pretty decent: played 772, won 443, drawn 190 and lost 139, a winning percentage just under 60%, and less than one in five ending in defeat in all competitions. 

Yesterday’s reverse against Chelsea was in many respects entirely unjust.  Arsenal played the best football and dominated much of the match, something that is backed up by the stats in terms of possession, territorial advantage and attempts at goal.  Which makes the 2-0 loss all the more difficult to stomach, especially amongst aesthetes of the game.  Not that Chelsea won ugly, but Arsenal in many respects played the better football.

Nevertheless the result, which is ultimately what counts, rendered the excellent performance and the largely positive football somewhat meaningless.  Having had a day to contemplate defeat perhaps Arsène Wenger would have approached things differently.

The sum of the parts

An attacking line of Theo Walcott, Andrei Arshavin and Sami Nasri is obviously lacking any sort of physical prowess.  It’s a point that has been made countless times before, but Arsenal against Chelsea lacked any sort of cutting edge or presence in the opposition penalty area.  This meant that any ball into the attacking line had to be absolutely perfect.  Cesc Fabregas managed one such weighted pass, which Arshavin volleyed over in the first half, but asking the Spaniard to repeatedly attain such technical brilliance is too much.

The lack of an obvious centre-forward also meant that whilst each Chelsea player looked like they played with a shared sense of purpose, Arsenal seemed occasionally uncertain what they should be doing when in possession.  Should the ball go to Fabregas in midfield, to Walcott down the right or instead up to Arshavin somewhere in the middle?  Chelsea certainly didn’t lack for that thrust on their decisive counter-attack for the second goal, but somehow one sensed that Arsenal were never capable of springing such a move in reply. 

The answer to Arsenal’s problems may have been closer to Arsène Wenger than he realised. Whilst Nicklas Bendtner may not be the most talented player in the squad, what he brings to the team in the absence of Robin van Persie or Eduardo is the willingness to show for the ball with his back to goal.  Starting with the Danish forward would mean having to leave an arguably more talented player on the bench, but such is the lot of a Premiership football manager.

Fabio Capello has the courage to play Emile Heskey, despite the Aston Villa forward almost polemically dividing the English football watching public as to his effectiveness in the side.  Nevertheless the Italian recognises that whilst Heskey might not be as talented as other strikers at his disposal, the role he performs in the team is no less valuable. 

Arshavin has proved that he can make a worthwhile contribution to Arsenal, but not from a centre-forward’s position, a role for which he lacks either the bravery or the movement.  John Terry and Ricardo Carvalho has the relatively straightforward task of keeping the former Zenit man in check, where they would have been far more troubled if he could have started from a wider position and attacked balls provided to him by the like of Bendtner.

Sticking to his guns

Wenger has so far stuck doggedly to his guns down the years refusing to adopt a more pragmatic approach to the beautiful game.  It has brought Arsenal success by degrees, but in this age of power, so dramatically highlighted by both Chelsea and Manchester United in recent weeks, it may be time to consider a tactical tweak.

In truth, despite the concession of five goals to two of their direct title challengers, Arsenal aren’t that far behind their rivals.  Whilst the nine point gap to Chelsea as we enter the final third of the season is probably insurmountable from Arsenal’s perspective there is no reason why they can’t start next season in excellent shape.  That would require using the rest of this as an extended test starting each game with at least one dedicated centre-forward be that Bendtner, Eduardo or once fit van Persie, and making the acquisition of a top-quality striker a priority when the transfer window re-opens at the end of the season. 

Arsène Wenger stated pre-season that he didn’t feel his Arsenal side were the perceived soft-touches that some thought, and yesterday’s excellent response to going an early goal down proved that.  The Gunners have worked on their resilience in the face of adversity, but now must work on this aspect of their play. 

If the Arsenal management team headed up by Wenger fail to acknowledge this need, then it may be a while before they are in any sort of position to challenge the duopoly of Chelsea and Manchester United.

Fulham about to lose two young prospects?

Reports on Italian website Tutto Mercato Web indicate that Fulham’s young Italian midfielder Luca Moscatiello could be on his way back home.  The loss of Moscatiello would come as a souble blow after reports in the English media that Manchester United are lining up a bid for the impressive Chris Smalling.

 Moscatiello (18) has only been in West-London for 6 months after arriving in the summer after breaking through at the Inter Milan youth academy.  However, it was Fulham, who moved in for the midfield prospect and Roy Hodgson had no hesitation in offering Moscatiello his first professional contract.

However, Mosciatello is yet to make his first team debut at Craven Cottage despite several appearances for the reserves and youth team.  A recent interview given just after Christmas indicated that he didn’t intend to stick around in England too long, stating that he was planning to return to Italy sooner rather than later.

It now seems that Palermo, and at least one Serie B club are thought to be keen on offering the player a move back to Italy.  Palermo in particular have been busy with several high profile comings and goings as they look to snatch a European place in Italy.

The potential departure of Moscatiello wouldn’t be the only starlet heading out of Fulham this transfer window with Manchester United thought to be lining up a bid to tempt Chris Smalling away from the club.  The 20-year-old has already been linked with a move to Arsenal, and now United are also keen on snaring the centre-back, who has already impressed both in the league and at England U-21 level.

On the plus side, Fulham are thought to be in the market for Egyptian forward Geddo.  The Ittihad striker is currently at the 2010 African Cup of Nations, but made quite an impression as substitute against Cameroon in the quarter-finals helping to set one goal up and scoring another in the 3-1 victory.

The 25-year-old had a scoring record of about one in every four for his club side, but has impressed in recent international matches with Egypt catching the eye with his pace and willingness to run at defenders.

Arsenal on the tail of the player dubbed the “new Henry”?

Reports from Spain today suggest that Arsenal could be one of a number of clubs chasing the signature of Loic Remy.  The OGC Nice player has been linked with a host of clubs, and is expected to be on the move during the transfer window.

 

The 23-year-old has been attracting much interest from around Europe following some excellent performances for the side based on the French south-coast.  Remy has knocked in seven league goals in 20 games, which accounts for nearly half of his sides attacking output in what has been a disappointing season for the side from the Stade du Rey.

Remy has an unusual history in that he came through the Lyon academy, but after being farmed out on loan to Lens, he was allowed to join Nice on a permanent basis at the beginning of last season.  His first season brought 11 goals in 32 league games, and this season he could be on course to better it.

His excellent form has brought him to the attention of not only a string of clubs around Europe, but also the Fnrech national side, and he earned his first cap at the end of last season in a friendly against Nigeria.

Since then the like of Barcelona, AC Milan and Arsenal have all been tracking his progress.  His agent sparked a wave of interest by urging AC Milan to make a move for the player, insisting that if they don’t within 48 hours Remy will be on his way to another side outside Italy. 

Many have interpreted that to be Arsenal, who are on the look-out for attacking options following the long-term injury to Robin van Persie.  Remy is quick and versatile and just the sort of player that could represent a quality enhancement to Arsenal’s attack, both in the short and medium term.

Remy could be available at a price a good deal lower than the one Bordeaux have quoted for Marouane Chamakh, a player with a lesser goal-scoring record than Remy.  Therefore Remy could become another of Arsene Wenger’s genuine transfer gems,

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