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Gunner’s scouts looking for a striker

Arsenal have been playing without a recognised central striker this season and have still managed to score 70 goals and have a far better goal…

Arsenal have been playing without a recognised central striker this season and have still managed to score 70 goals and have a far better goal difference than Man City, Liverpool or Aston Villa in the top four.

Despite not being goal shy, the Gunners have been sending their scouts to check on potential strikers and wingers and they intend to strengthen their squad in the summer. Wolves’ Pedro Neto and Athletic Bilbao’s Nico Williams are strong winger contenders to play at the Emirates Stadium next season. Brentford’s striker Ivan Toney has been spoken about for some time but RB Leipzig striker Benjamin Sesko and Sporting Lisbon’s Viktort Gyokeres have also been watched. Mikel Arteta wants a 20-goal-a-season striker in his squad.

It can be argued that Arsenal are doing fine without a striker and their 6-0 thrashing of Sheffield United on Monday was the climax of a seven win run during which the Gunners have scored 31 goals. Many may say “yes, but you have Gabriel Jesus” however he has been out of the team during much of that successful period and Eddie Nketiah has not been as prolific as many hoped. Most supporters are happy to stick with Kai Havertz and Leandro Trossard and consider a winger more important but Mikel Arteta still wants his scouts to report back on a list of strikers. Arsenal also want to bring in another defender and if Aaron Ramsdale is not content to sit on the bench when Champions League hero David Raya is fit the club will also need to sign another goalkeeper.

FA Cup: Manchester United v Liverpool

Liverpool will have the most supporters in any away game in the modern era when they play Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday in the FA Cup. They will take 9,211 fans with them for the game which could decide the fate of United coach Erik Ten Hag because if his team loses it ends their chance of any silverware this season and that is what the Dutchman’s future will be judged on in June.

Good news for Liverpool fans is a possible return for Ibrahima Konate. It is not definite and Jurgen Klopp will make a decision on Saturday for Sunday’s game but he was upbeat about Konate’s chances of making the match. The Frenchman was replaced just after half time in the win over the Red’s 5-1 win over Sparta Prague because of a muscle injury.

Good news on Mo Salah is that he came through this week’s training without any problems.

Klopp rued his injury list this week commenting, “There are many players not available, it is crazy. If we were to play only the injured players we would have a good team!” Joel Matip, Alisson Becker, Diogo Jota, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Curtis Jones, Ryan Gravenberch, Stefan Bajcetic and Thiago are all ruled out of the tie.

United have been strengthened with the return of Aaron Wan-Bissaka who trained alongside Mason Mount. Lisandro Martinez, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw and Tyrell Malacia are all ruled out for the cup match. Erik Ten hag was hoping that Rasmus Hojlund will be available for selection. However, Hojlund is close to Denmark’s boss Kasper Hjulmand and he said he believes the striker has every chance of playing on Sunday.

Forest and Everton nervous over points deductions

Nottingham Forest have put forward their case for avoiding a points reduction after breaking the Premier League’s profit and sustainability rules. The defence was put to an independent panel who will now judge the outcome. This will have a significant impact at the bottom of the table with Forest splitting Everton and Luton. Forest and Luton play each other this weekend. Everton are facing their second defence after being deducted ten points in November which was reduced to six on appeal. The main defence of both clubs relates to the timing of selling two of their prize players. Forest sold Brennan Johnson to Tottenham and received an extra £20million because they delayed the sale and missed the profit and sustainability deadline. Everton sold Richarlison at a reduced price which they say cost them because they tried to stay inside the rules.

Ten Hag’s back problems

Erik Ten Hag has been explaining the situation with his full back problems. He said, “In December I had internal talks with our medical and performance teams. They assured me that Tyrell Malacia and Luke Shaw would both be fit for January and then we would have the luxury of two full backs. It is very frustrating if both your full backs are out injured. If you look at Liverpool who last year they did not do so well because of continuous injury problems. I think it is going to be difficult for Malacia to be fit for this season. He is back on the pitch and fighting hard to regain his fitness but I cannot see him back in the team in a season which is coming to an end. Luke Shaw has a muscle injury and I think it’s the same. Maybe he can play the last few games but don’t expect him back this month and possibly next.” Malacia’s operation on his knee injury did not go too well and hence his long absence. He arrived back at Old Trafford on crutches and then had to undergo a second knee operation and hence his long way back to fitness.

Unai Emery labels his players immature

Aston Villa head coach Unai Emery was very upset with their defeat to Tottenham last weekend. He attacked his players saying “We have a responsibility to be mature. We have to accept to lose but we weren’t clinical and we weren’t better than our opponents. Then we lost control of our emotions and John McGinn’s red card was disappointing for me.”

Pochettino says comparison with Mourinho unfair

Things are so bad at Chelsea that Mauricio Pochettino has told his players they can speak to the club officials if they want a change of head coach. He does however feel his position is safe with the players because he believes he has their backing. Pochettino has one year left on his contract and like United’s Erik Ten Hag he will be judged at the end of the season when the club looks back on his achievements and failures. Chelsea can only qualify for Europe by winning the FA Cup or by moving further up the table from 11th place. Pochettino was however irritated by sections of the crowd chanting Jose Mourinho’s name from the terraces. He said it was unfair to criticise the current team because they are relatively inexperienced unlike the professionals who won three league titles, one FA Cup and three League Cups during Mourinho’s two periods in charge at Stamford Bridge.

Kalvin Phillips’ season gets worse

It is difficult to pinpoint exactly what has gone so wrong for Kalvin Phillips. Undoubtedly a very talented player but after being discarded by Pep Guardiola at Manchester City, his move to West ham was meant to revitalise his career but this has not been the case. Now his England place is in serious jeopardy.

What should have been an easy afternoon for Phillips against lowly and out of form Burnley turned into a nightmare. He was so bad, coach David Moyes replaced him at half time. Edson Alvarez and Michail Antonio were called on to replace Phillips and James Ward-Prowse and they provided a much stronger midfield duo. West Ham do not try to dominate the ball and most of the time do not control the matches in which they play and because of that strategy Kalvin’s lack of fitness has been shown up as opponents dispossess him and he makes stray passes when under pressure.

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