Chelsea Eyeing Up Long Term Arsenal Target Ahead of Potential January Move

​Chelsea are reportedly looking at potentially hijacking Arsenal’s proposed bid to sign AS Monaco winger Thomas Lemar in January, with Conte keen to add numbers to his squad ahead of a busy second half to the season – which includes the Premier League, Champions League, and FA Cup.

Both the Gunners and Liverpool both spent the summer attempting to land the 22-year-old, but neither team managed to match the £80m evaluation placed on Lemar’s head as his club remained adamant that they would keep hold of as many star players as possible; despite relinquishing the likes of Kylian Mbappe, Bernardo Silva, Benjamin Mendy and Tiemoue Bakayoko.

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But now, according to the Telegraph, while Arsenal are preparing to go back in for Lemar after Christmas, Chelsea could also make a move for the versatile wide man – with the Blues short of left-footed players within their ranks.

Lemar may well be looking for an exit away from Monaco after his side dropped out of the Champions League. The reigning champions also sit nine points adrift of Ligue 1 leaders Paris Saint-Germain – and the winger could decide to jump ship in January.

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Chelsea are hopeful that Monaco’s hiring of sporting director Michael Emenalo might help them out. He was previously employed at the Blues, and could make a big difference in sorting out a deal.

Monaco are said to be looking to overhaul their team and academy after a less than impressive start to the season, and selling their prize asset would go a long way to funding that.

January could see a big battle for Lemar’s signature take place in London.

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Mind the Gap! Arsenal and the One-Sided Rivalry

Arsenal ended a six-game run without a victory over Tottenham Hotspur last month with a comfortable 2-0 victory in the North London derby at the Emirates.

Shkodran Mustafi and Alexis Sanchez scored the goals inside a five-minute spell shortly before half-time.  If anything the scoreline could have been much greater and it wouldn’t have been unfair on the visitors.

We had been narrow favourites with Betfair’s sports exchange going into the match but still odds against to pick up the three points on the day.  However, many pundits and tipsters fancied an away win.

Heading into that game we had been four points behind Spurs who were in second place.  Afterwards it turned around the form of both teams.  The Betfair football betting odds of us finishing above Mauricio Pochettino’s side would have been very nice at the time.

We went on a little run whilst it started a four-game winless streak for Tottenham who only ended that this past weekend at home to Stoke City.

Our 1-1 draw at Southampton on Sunday means that we dropped down to fifth and are now only one point above our local rivals.

Between now and early February it’s only the Premier League and domestic cup competition for both sides to concentrate on before European action recommences in mid-February.  A draw with Ostersunds in the second round of the Europa League means Arsene Wenger shouldn’t need to field his strongest side for both legs, whilst Tottenham travel to Juventus in the first leg of their Champions League second round tie three days after the North London derby.

There’s a lot of action between now and then and the futures of both Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez are yet to be decided.  Will either or both leave in January before the first Premier League North London derby at Wembley?

Historically, Tottenham have always been in our shadows.  They are only twice champions of England – compared to our 13, which puts them on par with the likes of Derby County, Burnley and Portsmouth, whilst Huddersfield Town and Blackburn Rovers are above them.

One competition they have been very impressive in, is the FA Cup, which they’ve won eight times.  However, this is still second best to us as we’re the record champions with 13.  Since they last won it in 1991, we’ve gone on to win it nine times.

The graphic from Betfair below shows the head-to-head record between the two, which we clearly dominate, as well as a comparison between trophies and the all-time Premier League London derby record:

West Ham v Arsenal Preview: Classic Encounter, Recent Form, Team News & More

​West Ham welcome Arsenal to the London Stadium on Wednesday night, with the two sides coming into the fixture fresh from contrasting fortunes at the weekend.

David Moyes’ Hammers celebrated their first victory under his stewardship, producing a spirited performance against Chelsea in the Saturday lunch-time kickoff. 

The Gunners meanwhile dominated possession for long spells against Southampton on Sunday, but had substitute Olivier Giroud to thank for rescuing a late point at St Mary’s.

West Ham United v Arsenal - Premier League

Arsene Wenger’s side enjoyed two comfortable victories against the Hammers last season, most notably running riot in a 5-1 demolition job at the London Stadium last December. 

Alexis Sanchez was start of the show, netting a second half hat-trick as West Ham imploded in front of their own fans.

The Gunners come into the fixture with somewhat of a strangehold over the hosts, having lost just 1 of their last 19 meetings in all competitions.


Classic Encounter

These two sides served up a real treat in their last ever meeting at Upton Park in April 2016.

The Gunners seized the initiative, first half goals from Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez putting them in control just past the half hour mark.

West Ham United v Arsenal - Premier League

The game changed dramatically just before half-time though, Andy Carroll scoring twice in as many minutes to stun the visitors heading into the break.

Carroll sealed his hat-trick seven minutes into the second half, as the home side turned the game completely on it’s head.

The hosts did not get their fairytale ending however. Laurent Koscielny’s equaliser with twenty minutes remaining ensuring a share of the spoils in a pulsating London derby.


Form

The hosts will be buoyed by their surprising victory over Chelsea on Saturday, their first success in the league since the end of September.

West Ham United v Chelsea - Premier League

David Moyes will be pleased with the organisation and improved discipline shown by his side in their last two outings, though their abysmal league record against the Gunners will leave cause for concern.

Arsenal sit one point off the top four following their 1-1 draw with Southampton on Sunday.

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The Gunners have won three out of their last five in the league, but have lost four times on their travels this season – conceding thirteen goals, and scoring only nine in the process.


Team News

​Both teams may opt to rest and rotate their lineups as the congested festive fixture programme approaches.

David Moyes has no fresh injury concerns following the weekend, and may choose to field an unchanged side. Cheikhou Kouyate, James Collins and Sam Byram are likely to miss out again, and Jose Fonte remains a long-term casualty.

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Michail Antonio could be rested after suffering cramp in the win over Chelsea, with Javier Hernandez, Andy Carroll and Diafra Sakho vying for a starting berth should the West Ham manager decide to make a change.

Olivier Giroud is pushing for first league start of the season, after grabbing a dramatic late equaliser at Southampton on Sunday. The Frenchman has six Premier League goals against West Ham to his name.

Southampton v Arsenal - Premier League

Shkodran Mustafi and Aaron Ramsey have failed late fitness tests and will not make the trip across the capital.

Mustafi is still suffering with a groin problem, and Ramsey tweaked his hamstring on Sunday. His place in the lineup could go to Mohamed Elneny.

Potential West Ham Lineup: Adrian, Zabaleta, Reid, Ogbonna, Cresswell, Obiang, Noble, Lanzini, Arnautovic, Masuaku, Antonio.

Potential Arsenal Lineup: Cech, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Bellerin, Kolasinac, Xhaka, Elneny, Ozil, Sanchez, Giroud.


Prediction

The atmosphere at the London Stadium is sure to be rocking following David Moyes’ first win in charge. The hosts put in an impressive performance against Antonio Conte’s champions and will hope to carry the momentum forward into another huge clash.

Arsene Wenger’s side have only won twice in the eight away league games they have played so far this season, losing half of those. Without a win in their last two games, the Gunners boss will be looking for a big performance to catapult his side back into the top four.

Arsenal v West Ham United - Premier League

Arsenal’s recent domination over the Hammers can’t be ignored though, the Gunners winning 15 out of the last 19 clashes between the two sides in all competitions. 

The Hammers sole victory came over a decade ago, Marlon Harewood scoring the only goal in a 1-0 win at Upton Park.

With much to play for and home advantage on their side, the Hammers may well put in another terrific performance, overcome the form book and snatch a vital point.

Prediction: West Ham 1-1 Arsenal

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Arsenal Set to Sign Sevilla Star Steven N’Zonzi for Big Money in First Buy of the Window

​Arsenal are ready to spend big in their first signing of the January transfer window, having agreed a deal to sign Sevilla midfielder, Steven N’Zonzi, according to ​El Gol.

The north London club have been inconsistent of late and currently sit in fifth place in the Premier League table. Gunners are not happy with this position.

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It is thought that Arsene Wenger has settled on a £35m package to sure up his squad come the New Year. N’Zonzi’s return to the Premier League will be broken down into a £32.7m fee and £2.6m being paid in bonuses.

However, this sum will not meet the Frenchman’s release clause, which is one of the highest at the club. Sevilla president Jose Castro has stated that he is happy for N’Zonzi to go, however.

“The coaches do not count on him and we have to respect their work,” he said earlier this month.

“His clause is one of the highest in the club and we will not fight him.

“The games are won with and without N’Zonzi.”

Signing from Stoke City in 2015, the 28-year-old has netted seven times from 90 games for a Sevilla side currently fifth in La Liga. 

Such a high transfer fee early on in the window is not characteristic of Wenger, typically known for his shrewd approach to deals.

N’Zonzi last played in England for Stoke, racking up 109 appearances for the Potters. Previously, he has played for both Blackburn Rovers and the French club Amiens SC. 

His career has taken off in Spain recently and it is thought that this may be the reason for Wenger’s willingness to spend big.

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Jose Castro has stated that his club will hold out for his release clause to be met, however.

“Sell Steven N’Zonzi? He has two and a half years of contract and a clause of €40m.”

Wenger is also trying to keep Mesut Ozil on board at the Emirates to ensure he has a strong midfield come the end of January. N’Zonzi may add to this.


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6 Things Every Arsenal Fan Needs to Know About Europa League Opponent Östersunds FK

Arsenal will face little known Swedish club Östersunds FK in the last 32 of the Europa League over two legs in February as the Gunners battle for a place in the next round.

Such has been the domestic decline, Swedish teams have been increasingly absent from the knockout rounds of UEFA club competitions over the years, but Östersund are bucking the trend this season and will be hoping to cause an upset.

Here’s a look at six things every Arsenal fans needs to know about the Scandinavian minnows…

6. They Were the Lowest Ranked Club in the Group Stage

Having successfully navigated three qualifying rounds, which included claiming a famous scalp in the shape of Galatasaray, Östersund entered the Europa League group stage as the lowest ranked team of all 48 in the competition.

Their 2017 UEFA club coefficient stood at just 3.945, which put them at the very bottom of pot four ahead of the group draw, below the likes of Vardar from Macedonia and Skenderbeu from Albania. In stark contrast, Arsenal’s 2017 coefficient stood at 105.192.

That makes their tally of 11 points from six group games rather remarkable, finishing level with Athletic Bilbao, and ahead of both Zorya Luhansk and Hertha Berlin.

5. They’re a Small Town Team

Östersund is not a big place at all. The population at the end of 2015 was recorded at just under 50,000 and it is not even among the 20 biggest cities in Sweden.

Given its location in central Sweden and its climate, Östersund is more known as a destination for winter sports than football, with World Championships in biathlon and speed skating hosted in the city. It has also submitted bids to host the Winter Olympics in the past.

4. They Were in the Swedish 4th Division 6 Years Ago

Östersunds FK are not only new to the table in European football, but they are still very new to the top table of football just in Sweden.

The club’s rise up the Swedish league ladder in recent years has been stunning, with the club competing in the third tier as recent as 2012 – they were even briefly in the fourth tier in 2011. Östersund were promoted to the Superettan (second tier) at the end of the 2012 Swedish season and didn’t play in the top flight Allsvenskan until 2016.

They have finished eighth and fifth during their two top flight seasons and qualified for the Europa League by virtue of winning the 2017 Swedish Cup – their only major silverware to date.

3. They Formed Since Arsene Wenger Has Been at Arsenal

The history of Östersunds FK only extends as far back as October 1996, the result of a merger between two other teams in the area, making the current club just 21 years old in 2017.

Five weeks before Östersund came into existence, Arsene Wenger was appointed as the new manager of Arsenal.

2. They Have Englishmen in Their Ranks

Östersund have a notable English connection ahead of facing the Gunners, with former Stoke and West Brom defender Graham Potter managing the club since his appointment at the end of the calendar year in 2010.

The club was a fourth tier team when Potter, who was preceded by Englishmen Lee Makel and Neil McDonald, arrived and he has overseen all three promotions and the ascent into Europe.

Among the playing squad are two other Englishman in Jamie Hopcutt and Curtis Edwards. Hopcutt has been with Östersund since they were in the third tier and has played eight times in the Europa League this season, including qualifiers, and even scored against Galatasaray.

1. Be Careful With the Spelling

The spelling of the club name has already proved tricky for journalists and fans alike, with BBC, Sky Sports, the Daily Mail and others all committing the same subtle mistake in the hours since they were paired with Arsenal in the last 32 draw.

The proper name of the club is Östersunds FK or Östersunds Fotbollsklubb, but the name of the city is simply Östersund, and also the shortened name by which the team usually goes.

The thing to note is that the ‘S’ should only appear at the end of Östersund when followed by either FK or Fotbollsklubb as the literal translation is Östersund’s Football Club – in other words, the club which belongs to the city of Östersund.

Therefore ‘Östersund’ is correct and ‘Östersunds FK’ is correct, but ‘Östersunds’ is not.

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