Injured Koscielny withdraws from France squad

The Arsenal centre-back was forced off against Leciester City on Sunday following a clash with Jeffrey Schlupp and has now been replaced by Jeremy Mathieu

Arsenal defender Laurent Koscielny has been forced to withdraw from the France squad with a head injury.

The 28-year-old was involved in a clash of heads with Jeffrey Schlupp early on in Arsenal’s 1-1 Premier League draw at Leicester City on Sunday.

Koscielny came off the worse of the two and had to be replaced by Calum Chambers in the 26th minute.

The French Foootball Federation have now confirmed the injury has ended his involvement in the country’s forthcoming friendlies against Spain and Serbia.

Koscielny will be replaced in the French squad by Barcelona new boy Jeremy Mathieu.

Mathieu, who moved to Camp Nou from Valencia during the close-season, has made just two international appearances.

Falcao set to depart Monaco after Lille snub

The Colombian striker was originally named in the squad for Saturday’s match but his late omission has raised serious questions over his future in France

Monaco striker Radamel Falcao appears close to leaving the Ligue 1 outfit after being left out of the team to face Lille on Saturday.

Head coach Leonardo Jardim had initially named the Colombian forward in a panel of 19 to face the northern outfit and, having started last weekend’s match against Nantes it was fully anticipated that he would once again feature from the outset at Stade Louis II, particularly after he scored in that clash.

Falcao, who missed the second half of last season with a serious knee problem sustained in a Coupe de France match in January, has, however, been closely linked with a move away from the principality for much of the summer.

Monaco have not reported any further physical complaints from their forward, and so it appears that this exit is likely to come in the next few days, with French media suggesting that a deal could even be completed on Saturday evening.

Several sides have been closely associated with the 28-year-old forward, including Juventus, Arsenal, Liverpool and Real Madrid.

While it is expected that Monaco’s asking price of €65 million will be too great to tempt suitors before the end of the transfer window, it appears likely that the ex-Atletico Madrid and Porto striker will instead be shipped out on a one-year loan, expected to cost the purchasing club €20m.

Falcao’s record in France reads that he has scored 13 goals in 22 matches, though he has been criticised for his failure to replicate his Atletico Madrid form in Ligue 1.

Arsenal can make Champions League final – Ozil

The Gunners’ midfielder believes the North London club have what it takes to go the distance in Europe, and doesn’t believe his side need to be scared of their Group D opponents

Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil believes his side can reach the Champions League final this season.

Arsene Wenger’s side qualified for the competition for a 17th straight campaign with a 1-0 aggregate win over Besiktas on Wednesday, but have failed to breach the round of 16 over the last four campgains. 

However, the 25-year-old German international reckons that belief needs to be high after drawing Borussia Dortmund, Galatasaray and Anderlect in Group D.

“We’ve strengthened our squad. We also want to show that we can play better in the Champions League,” Ozil told reporters.

“It’s a difficult group, and we know Borussia Dortmund well, but we don’t need to be scared of anyone. They know exactly how strong we are. We have the potential to reach the final. We should always believe everything is achievable.

“Not many people thought Atletico Madrid would get to the final. If you work hard anything is possible.”

Ozil came in for criticism during Germany’s successful World Cup campaign, during which he was deployed on the left of midfield.

The former Real Madrid man said he was happy to play anywhere for his team - but his preference is the number 10 role.

“The opinions of fans are important to me and I’m happy they have such high expectations of me. I have high expectations of myself,” Ozil said.

“I know what I can do and in the past few years I’ve shown that I belong to the select group of best players in the world as a No.10. What’s important is that the manager gives me his trust and in Joachim Low and Arsene Wenger I have two managers who do exactly that.

“Both coaches know that my favourite position is the No.10. I’ve played on the left in a World Cup and for Arsenal but my best performances come as a No.10.”

Leicester City – Arsenal Preview: Gunners expecting tough test after European exploits

Arsene Wenger has been impressed by last season’s Championship winners, who have been boosted by the capture of Esteban Cambiasso, and hopes to build on an unbeaten start so far

Arsene Wenger expects Leicester City to offer his Arsenal side a “big challenge” on Sunday after a solid start to their top-flight return.

Nigel Pearson’s men may have accrued just one Premier League point since winning the Championship last term, but their performances have offered cause for optimism.

Having twice fought back to draw 2-2 against Everton on the opening day, Pearson’s charges held out for over an hour against title favourites Chelsea before succumbing to a 2-0 defeat.

Tuesday’s Capital One Cup loss at home to League Two Shrewsbury Town will have been a concern, though, and Leicester must now overcome last season’s FA Cup winners if they are to avoid ending August without a win.

Arsenal, on the other hand, are looking to complete the month unbeaten, having won the Community Shield, qualified for the Champions League group stage and taken four points from two league games.

With a return to the Champions League for a 17th consecutive season also secured courtesy of a 1-0 aggregate win over Besiktas, Wenger is now braced for another tough test this weekend against a side buoyed by the signing of experienced midfielder Esteban Cambiasso.

“They have been impressive in their first two games. They had a very good result against Everton… and at Chelsea they played very well,” the Frenchman said on Friday.

“They are a team who have very good defensive solidity, they are very good at counter-attacking and they have good players on the flanks who are very quick.

“They have bought Cambiasso from Inter Milan, a very good, intelligent player – it will be a big, big challenge for us.”

Late goals have been a theme for Wenger’s side. Aaron Ramsey’s last-minute winner against Crystal Palace was followed up by two dramatic goals to secure a draw at Everton last Saturday.

The 2-2 Goodison Park scoreline was earned courtesy of strikes from Ramsey and Olivier Giroud in the final seven minutes, but came at a cost, with the France striker picking up an ankle injury that will sideline him long-term.

Despite the absences of Giroud and Mikel Arteta (ankle), Pearson believes his opposite number still has plenty of quality at his disposal.

“We know it will be another tough game for us but I expect our players to cause them problems and we have spoken about the best ways that we operate to try and get the three points,” he told Sky Sports.

“That’s what we will be about every time that we play. Whether we can achieve it against sides like Arsenal remains to be seen, but I would think that having seen our first two games they will know it is a difficult tie for them.”

Wenger can welcome Ramsey back following his suspension in Europe on Wednesday, although goalkeeper David Ospina (hamstring) remains a doubt having only returned to full training recently, with Kieran Gibbs (hamstring) also absent.

Danny Drinkwater (hamstring) and Jamie Vardy (thigh) could make their Leicester returns, while Matty James (shin) and Matthew Upson (foot) look set to miss out.

Wenger: Deadline day time is a poker game

The 64-year-old refused to rule out late moves in the market and kept quiet on reports linking his side with a move for PSG prospect Adrien Rabiot

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has compared deadline day time to a “poker game” and refused to rule out last-minute deals.

Olivier Giroud is sidelined until the start of 2015 after undergoing surgery on a broken leg and rumours have began to bubble that the Gunners may dip into the transfer market to find cover from the French striker.

Wenger reiterated that he is open to bolstering his attacking options before the window closes on September 1 but was making no promises that the FA Cup winners would see more new faces coming on board.

“We have shown in the last two seasons that, if there are [players to buy], we will do it,” the Arsenal boss told reporters.

“The last few days [of the transfer window] are like poker games.”

Wenger also kept his lips sealed on whether Arsenal would try to sign Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Adrien Rabiot, 19, with reports in France claiming that the two clubs held talks on Thursday.

When asked about a potential move for Rabiot on Friday, Wenger told the press: “I’ll put one answer: I’m not telling you.”

Rabiot’s contract with the French champions is due to expire in 2015 and PSG coach Laurent Blanc admitted earlier in August that the player could leave his side before next summer.