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The Gunners need a “killer” upfront

Arsenal’s legendary striker Ian Wright is one of the most knowledgeable sources when it comes to all things happening at the Emirates Stadium. He visits…

Arsenal’s legendary striker Ian Wright is one of the most knowledgeable sources when it comes to all things happening at the Emirates Stadium. He visits regularly, is in constant touch with the players and staff and the fans respect his pedigree. When he speaks about the Gunners it is worth listening. Wright says that Mikel Arteta needs a “killer” upfront to take goalscoring opportunities. Playing against Liverpool last weekend in the FA Cup, Martin Odegaard and Kai Havertz provided plenty of potential goal scoring passes into the box but most of them were wasted. Even Bukayo Saka was off key and he had two glorious chances which went sky high over the bar. Arsenal have now lost three in a row and have only one victory in their past seven matches. The facts show they have had 61 shots at goal in the last three games and scored just once! Ian Wright is spot on with his call for a “killer” in front of goal but that costs money and even if owner Josh Kroenke brought his cheque book along with him to the Emirates, the club have spent around £400m during the last three years which brings them to the edge of the Financial Fair Play rules. Top scorers cost top money and Arsenal are not allowed to spend big. Home grown academy players count as pure profit in the financial accounts and therefore selling Emile Smith Rowe, Eddie Nketiah and Reiss Nelson makes sense to allow the Gunners bigger spending opportunities. But who could Arsenal sign? Ivan Toney from Brentford is a potential but he will cost £100m. Napoli’s Victor Osimhen would also cost the same amount but he is away at the moment playing for Nigeria in the African Cup of Nations. 

Werner could be in Tottenham squad to face United

Most Spurs supporters, journalists (including myself) and inside staff at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium are asking, “why is the club signing Chelsea failure Timo Werner as cover for the absent Son Heung-min?” Werner does not have the record and goalscoring ability of Son. His six month loan deal has an option to buy at the end of the season for £13.7million if the move proves successful. Werner will likely be in the squad for this Sunday’s match at United and Spurs are covering his wages during the loan period. There is only one way this transfer has been achieved…coach Ange Postecoglou is convinced he can make a quality player of Werner and he told the striker as much during a long phone call which persuaded Timo to return to the Premier League. Werner was certainly a failure at Chelsea scoring only 23 goals in 89 appearances after joining the Blues for £45million and he returned to Leipzig in 2022. He has struggled in the Bundesliga this season scoring only twice in 14 matches. With Son away until possibly mid-February, Ivan Perisic not expected to play again this season and Manor Solomon slowly approaching a return following injury in October, this is a golden opportunity for Werner. Whether he can step up and justify Postecoglou’s faith in him remains to be seen.

Alexander-Arnold injury blow to Liverpool

Jurgen Klopp’s good mood this week was followed by disappointment as Trent Alexander-Arnold was given a recovery time of four weeks following his knee injury during the FA Cup victory over Arsenal. According to the Red’s medical team he hyper-extended his right knee and tore the lateral ligament. His absence comes at a time when Mo Salah is away on international duty and Andy Robertson, Dominik Szoboszlai, Joel Matip, Kostas Tsimikas and Thiago Alcantara are all out injured. Klopp said of Trent, “He was decisive in all the games and was the one who constantly created for us from deep and gave the team a high level of flexibility. We will really miss him.” One bright note is the return of captain Virgil van Dijk who returned to training this week after missing the Arsenal game because of illness.

He’s back! De Bryune shows he has all his skills after injury

Kevin De Bruyne’s long awaited return to football was greeted with a standing ovation from the City faithful. After a hamstring surgery forced him out of the team on August 11th, the playmaker entertained the crowd for 33 minutes, made one assist and his final third passes amounted to 21. Not bad stats at all. Coach Pep Guardiola said after the match, “We are incredibly delighted he’s back because Kevin helps us to win games and there are few in the world like him. I said before that he needs to accumulate training sessions more than games. At Newcastle this weekend we have another chance and then two weeks to have some good training in Abu Dhabi. With all the runners we have now, it’s good to have a guy who can make these passes from behind.” Guardiola had hinted at a special partnership between De Bruyne and Phil Foden and we got a taste of it against Huddersfield when the Belgian slotted in behind Foden who moved to a false nine position 

Nkunku out again after four matches

Chelsea’s Christopher Nkunku has suffered yet another injury as he tries to make an impression at Stamford Bridge. Mauricio Pochettino told us he could not start Nkunku in midweek for the FA Cup match against Middlesbrough. Nkunku joined from RB Leipzig for £52million in the summer and first appeared last month after sustaining a knee injury during pre-season. After four appearances he has suffered a hip injury in training and as I write this column Pochettino isn’t yet sure if he will make the home game against Fulham. The coach said, “It’s not related to his old injury, it’s a different problem – a small issue on his hip.” Pochettino will make a decision on Saturday morning but after so many problems he does not want to take any unnecessary risks. Chelsea are short of players upfront with Armando Broja still searching for his rhythm and form after another knee injury and Nicolas Jackson is away playing for Senegal in the Africa Cup of Nations. Pochettino met with club directors this week to discuss the January transfer window opportunities. Conor Gallagher’s future is still uncertain in what is becoming a long running soap opera. Is he going or is he not? Chelsea were unable to confirm one way or another but mentioned that his contract has another year to run but as yet has not been extended.

Sancho to Dortmund deal still negotiating

Borussia Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke says he still feels confident about taking Manchester United’s out of favour Jadon Sancho on a short-term loan deal. Details are still being ironed out which means Jadon has been unable to join Dortmund’s players in time to attend their Spanish winter break training sessions in Marbella. Sancho has not played for United since August and has been forced to train away from the first team squad and also eat alone in the United cafeteria because he will not apologise for criticising his manager Erik Ten Hag on social media. The deal between the two clubs includes United paying £100k of Sancho’s £250k weekly salary (the same as Mason Mount and Anthony Martial) but there will be no “buy” option which many have taken to mean that Ten Hag might not be at Old Trafford much longer if United’s results do not turn around and if he goes Sancho will possibly be available to the incoming replacement coach.

 

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