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Report: Nketiah on verge of new Arsenal deal

According to reports in the Daily Mail and The Athletic, Eddie Nketiah is on the verge of signing a new deal at Arsenal.

The striker, 22, had been heavily tipped to leave the club after voicing concern about a lack of playing time. However, after a run of eight consecutive starts at the tail end of the 21/22 campaign, which included five goals, he seems convinced he’ll continue to get the opportunities he always felt he deserved.

Nketiah burst onto the scene in 2017 during Arsene Wenger’s tenure, coming off the bench against Norwich in the League Cup to bag a match-winning brace. Only 18 at the time, he was immediately rewarded with a five-year deal.

Facing stiff competition for minutes from the likes of Olivier Giroud, Danny Welbeck, Alexis Sanchez, Alex Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and unable to grab the attention of Unai Emery, the attacker subsequently struggled to make his mark at Emirates Stadium.

Mikel Arteta was quick to reintegrate the striker off the back of a six-month loan spell at Leeds United but despite raving about the player’s quality and commitment he has, until recently, been reticent to start him in the Premier League.

Nketiah’s record of 23 goals in 92 appearances for the Gunners is nothing to be sniffed, especially at his age. And when you consider the 5 goals in 19 appearances at Elland Road and his record-breaking exploits for England’s under 21s (16 goals in 17 appearances) it’s clear he knows where the goal is.

There is still plenty of room for improvement – had he put away a couple of chances off the bench earlier in the season we might be playing Champions League football – but the potential is there and his staying will alleviate the pressure to bring in an entirely new strike force.

Leno and Ramsdale nominated for Premier League gongs

The goal-stopping acrobatics of Bernd Leno and Aaron Ramsdale have been recognised by the Premier League with both keepers included on the shortlist for the 21/22 ‘Save of the Season’ award.

Leno has been recognised for a stunning save against Chelsea in our opening home game of the season where he tipped Romelu Lukaku’s close-range header onto the bar.

Ramsdale, who might easily have been nominated a number of times over, got the nod for a spectacular double save against Leicester City in October. He memorably tipped James Maddison’s free-kick onto the bar and then smothered Jonny Evans’ follow-up before Thomas Partey cleared.

Vote here for the Save of the Season here

Full shortlist

Alisson – Norwich City v Liverpool
Bernd Leno – Arsenal v Chelsea
David De Gea – Wolves v Manchester United
David De Gea – Leicester City v Manchester United
Edouard Mendy – Brentford v Chelsea
Aaron Ramsdale – Leicester City v Arsenal
Emiliano Martinez – Aston Villa v Leicester City
Martin Dubravka – Newcastle United v Leicester City
Jordan Pickford – Everton v Chelsea
Nick Pope – Aston Villa v Burnley

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Ramsdale’s backs-to-the-wall performance against Leicester was so impressive that it’s been nominated for a separate award; the Premier League ‘Game Changer’ award. The summer signing produced an array of incredible saves to preserve a clean sheet after the Gunners had stormed to a 2-0 lead at the King Power.

Vote here for the Game Changer award here

Full shortlist:

Aaron Ramsdale – Leicester City v Arsenal
Cristiano Ronaldo – Manchester United v Sp*rs
Kevin De Bruyne – Wolves v Manchester City
Paul Pogba – Manchester United v Leeds United
IIkay Gundogan – Manchester City v Aston Villa
Steven Bergwijn – Leicester City v Sp*rs

“Hopefully everything goes as we want” – Bellerin pushing for Betis return

Hector Bellerin may have bid a tearful farewell to the Real Betis fans but he has made it clear that he wishes to return to the club.

The right-back played an important role in Betis’ Copa del Rey-winning season and it’s understood coach Manuel Pellegrini would love the club to complete a permanent deal.

Having taken a wage cut to secure last summer’s loan move to the Estadio Benito Villamarín, it sounds like Bellerin, who is under contract at Emirates Stadium until 2023, will have to do the same again to facilitate any negotiations while simultaneously hoping that Arsenal don’t set too a high transfer fee.

Acknowledging his close attachment to both clubs, he told Betis TV [relayed by Sportshala] that he faces a summer of uncertainty.

“For now, I have to go back (to London)”, he said. “I have spoken with the two clubs and I have made my position clear to them.

“There are two months ahead to look for the best start for everyone. I made an effort to come and I am willing to make any effort so that this continues to be my home because I am happy.

“It is also true that I had very nice moments in London, in England. Arsenal has given me a lot; the opportunity to be a professional.

“If I leave it, it will be difficult, but hopefully everything goes as we want.

“It has been a season that I have enjoyed a lot. I now have a few days to digest everything that has happened this year and to prepare myself for what is to come.

“In my situation, there is a bit of uncertainty and I want to be prepared for it.

“When I stopped in the street I’ve always shown and said that I feel very comfortable here and that I want to be here, but it is not as easy as that. So, let’s see how the summer goes and hopefully it can happen.”

Confirmed: Elneny signs new Arsenal contract

Arsenal have confirmed that Mohamed Elneny has signed a new contract at the club.

One of three players who were set to become free agents at the end of June, the Egypt international has been rewarded for his impressive performances covering for Thomas Partey in the latter stages of the 21/22 campaign and for being an all-around good egg.

The 29-year-old has made 147 appearances for the Gunners since being signed by Arsene Wenger in January 2016.

He’s slipped in and out of favour during his six years at the club, even heading out on loan to Besiktas for a year, but has a canny knack of reminding people of his qualities just when he’s been written off.

Rumours of an extension have been doing the rounds for several weeks now and the midfielder indicated he’d be more than willing to stay at Emirates Stadium.

On signing his new deal, Elneny said: “I love this club and I feel like part of this family.

“I want to continue at this amazing club and amazing family and I’m very happy and very excited for the future.”

“I spoke to Mikel, always I speak to him, I need to hear what he thinks about me. I always say to him, ‘Mikel, I really appreciate what you’ve done for me’ because with Mikel, I’ve played more times than before. I’m glad. I always say to him this.

He added: “The way he speaks about me, it really makes me emotional, really something really good for me to hear from Mikel, the way I play, the way I help the team, the way I’m being positive. For me, it’s really incredible to feel this way from Mikel, the club and Edu.”

Manager Mikel Arteta, who shared a dressing room with Mo as a player, added: “Mo is a really important part of the team. He brings endless energy, enthusiasm and commitment to the team and is loved by everyone.

“He’s an important player for us on and off the pitch, a real role model to our younger players and I’m delighted he’s staying.”

Elneny’s deal is one year extension, plus a one year option on the club’s side.

Agent blames Fiorentina as Torreira deal falls through

When Arsenal allowed Lucas Torreira to join Fiorentina on loan last summer, it was agreed that the Italian side would have the option to buy the Uruguay international for €15 million.

While there was no obligation to complete a deal, it was widely assumed La Viola would green-light the transfer given the midfielder was a near ever-present in their midfield.

Unfortunately for Lucas, who has enjoyed his return to Italy, his hosts have cold feet. Or rather, they want to take advantage of the player’s enthusiasm for life in Florence by bartering down his wages and the price they are willing to pay us.

His agent has gone public on the issue and seems to suggest the 26-year-old is destined to return to London.

“The basic problem is that Lucas was earning a higher salary at Arsenal than he did in Florence,” representative Pablo Bentancur told Fiorentinanews.com [translated by Sport Witness].

“When we agreed on the €1.5m loan [fee] with Arsenal last summer, I had the English club agree that Fiorentina would not pay that money if Lucas played at least 25 games.

“With this option we have set the right of redemption at €15m, payable in six instalments of €2.5m by 2025.

“We had agreed on a salary with Fiorentina for the coming seasons of €2.7m net per year.

“Fiorentina, however, now want to lower both the salary and the cost of the transfer fee. We couldn’t accept this and even Arsenal didn’t accept it either. Now Lucas has a contract with the Gunners until June 30, 2023.”

He added: “Lucas loves, loves the city of Florence. He is very disappointed, there is little to add. Disappointed for the behaviour of the club obviously, not for the football experience or the city, I repeat, he had fallen in love with Florence.”

Having already been told once by Arteta that there’s no place for him at Arsenal, we suspect it’ll be the same message when he returns for pre-season in June.

Here’s hoping someone else comes in for him quickly because we could do with the cash – his contract runs until 2023 – and the player deserves to find some stability.

Arteta wants Saliba return after beneficial Marseille loan

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Mikel Arteta says he wants William Saliba back at Arsenal next season after the 21 year old completed a successful loan season with Marseille.

The Gunners boss says the club made the ‘right decision’ to loan him out to the Ligue 1 side, as they wanted him to get the necessary playing time for his development, something which would have been a struggle in a season without European football.

Speaking to RMC Sport today, Arteta said, “He has to come back. He has the experience and the environment necessary to be competitive with us.

“If he had stayed with us this year, with one Premier League game per week, and with Ben White and Gabriel, he wouldn’t have had half the playing time he had with Marseille, that’s for sure.

“For his growth and what he can do next season that wouldn’t have been good.

“William wasn’t with us because he wouldn’t have had the playing time to gain experience.

“That’s it, there’s nothing else.”

It sounds pretty definitive, and with the need for more quality and depth next season, there’s clearly a place in the squad for the Frenchman.

The issue of his contract still lingers though, with just two years left on his deal after his 2019 £28.5m move from Saint-Etienne as a raw 18 year old, there may be some pressure to agree new terms.

However, it’s not imperative, and those fans who have been waiting some time to see Big Willy in an Arsenal shirt may well get their wish next season.

William Saliba’s successful loan

Appearances: 51 (36 Ligue 1, 6 Europa League, 6 Conference League, 3 Coupe de France).

Discipline: 7 yellow cards

Awards: Ligue 1 Young Player of the Year

Amazing last ditch tackles on Kylian Mbappe: 1

Shad Forsythe to leave Arsenal this summer

Arsenal have confirmed that Shad Forsythe, the head of performance, will leave the club this summer after eight years of service.

Recruited by Arsene Wenger and Ivan Gazidis, the American arrived with a wealth of experience and having been part of the backroom team that prepared Germany for their World Cup success in Brazil in 2014.

Armed with a Masters degree in biomechanics, he was tasked, along with the medical team and fitness coaches, with improving the Gunners’ injury record after a comprehensive review into the issues that all too often hampered Wenger’s squads.

“He would not be here if I was not impressed,” said Wenger not long after the appointment of Forsythe. “We are trying to be as good as we can everywhere.”

When Wenger appointed Darren Burgess to a similar position in 2017, Forsythe’s position at London Colney looked complicated. Ultimately, he outlasted both. Wenger left in 2018 and Burgess, who ruffled a lot of feathers, was sacked a year later as the cracks appeared in Unai Emery’s setup.

At that point, Forsythe was tantalisingly close to joining forces with Gazidis at AC Milan but was persuaded to stick around to fill the vacuum left by Burgess.

His expertise was vital during the height of the pandemic when several injured players had to be remotely marshalled through their rehab. He’s clearly a popular figure at the club – Martinelli made a beeline for the American after scoring yesterday’s opener against Everton – so his departure comes as something of a surprise. We can only assume he wants to do something new.

Forsythe isn’t the only member of staff departing; Paul Akers, who inherited the first team kit manager role from father Vic, will also be leaving after 21 years at the club.

Best of luck to both of them for the future.

Arteta facing “important week” as he looks to kick-start summer rebuild

Mikel Arteta says he’s facing an important week as Arsenal step up their plans for the summer transfer window.

Disappointed that the Gunners ended the 21/22 campaign in fifth behind neighbours Sp*rs, the Spaniard’s focus has already shifted to strengthening his squad for next season.

The club have big decisions to make about the future of three out of contract stars and need to hold honest conversations with those on the fringes of the first team and a bevvy of players returning from season-long loan moves.

Having missed out on Champions League football, Arteta and Edu will also know they have their work cut out securing first choice targets. Already there are reports of competition for first choice Gabriel Jesus.

Asked when he starts thinking about next season, Arteta told Arsenal.com: “Now, because I cannot stop now. We have a very important week to make some decisions as well and start to set the platforms for what we’re going to do in the summer. We are ready to do that and we need to start to go.”

On the futures of Mo Elneny, Eddie Nketiah and Alex Lacazette – all of whom will be free agents in July unless new contracts are offered – Arteta continued: “I will speak to the three players now or tomorrow and after that, we need to start to move on but we have clear ideas of what we want to do.

“It’s been decided [what to do with them] but it’s very difficult to communicate it, what they deserve is to have a little bit of what they had today. But to do it earlier, one way or the other with three situations like that is very, very awkward and it could affect the team. So as a club we have to do the right thing in the right moment and sometimes to combine those two issues is not easy at all, but we will try to do the right thing.”

Having reshaped the squad with six signings last summer, it will be interesting to see how much new blood Arteta feels is necessary to take the Gunners to the next level. It’s clear with a busier schedule, he’ll need more personnel which may make being ruthless with existing squad members more difficult.

“From my side, I will do and the club will do what we have to do and what we think is the best thing for the club to move forward and do it with the integrity and the honesty that we’ve always done it.

“Those players know individually their situation, when it’s going to be communicated, and then that situation happens face to face the way that they deserve.

“The standards of this club have to be to win, and the moment that we don’t look at that with a timeframe or when we are going to win, we are not going to get there.

“So my aim is to win the biggest trophies and my plan is to win here and what we have to do before that to be able to reach that level.”

Arteta: I’m still in pain

Arsenal may have signed off with a 5-1 win over Everton but manager Mikel Arteta couldn’t hide his disappointment at the way the climax to the season played out.

While a fifth-place finish in the Premier League represents a considerable improvement on last season, the fact the Gunners, off the back of defeats to Sp*rs and Newcastle, squandered the opportunity to seal a place in next season’s Champions League clearly still grates.

Asked how he feels about qualifying for the Europa League, Arteta said: “Today, I don’t get much [satisfaction] if I’m honest. I’m still in pain.

“That’s why I need the dust to settle, I need to go and get a few days on holiday, because I think today that I’m not going to reflect on the season the way that it is.

“But at the same time, I am very grateful for everybody that is supporting our club, the way they are giving us confidence and respect and motivation to drive, forward, because I think they believe in what we are doing, but when you have it there, I am a winner and I hate losing and we lost something that we could win and that’s why I’m in pain. I’m sorry.”

The pain of missing out on the top four continued to resonate throughout his post-game comments.

“I cannot assess today the season, I’m sorry,” said Arteta.

“I am still in a lot of pain after what happened on Monday, and I would like to have a fair assessment on what we’ve done. What I can guarantee you is that I have – we have – tried to squeeze the lemon as much as we possibly can, to every single drop, and we reached to the point where we reached.

“I know – I think we all know, and you can see the reaction from the fans towards the team – that you see what we have on the pitch, and what this club has (achieved) ten years ago, twenty years ago – and we know where we have to go. We are not going to stop it.

“I am extremely disappointed today, because we had generated expectations that we wanted, that I wanted for this football club, because it’s what it deserves. At the end we came short and that feeling of guilt and not reaching that level, is painful.”

For all Arteta’s pain, the club appears moving in the right direction under his watch. A young squad, even if they’ve struggled in key moments, have provided some real high points for the supporters.

On whether he gets the sense that the fans believe in his project, he said:

“Absolutely, they have given me many reasons throughout the season – and they have shown with many factors – in the way they turn up. The atmosphere that they built, home and away for these players.

“I think they can see what we are doing, they see what the players want to do, how they represent the club, the values on and off the pitch, who we are as a group. Then we have the level that we have, and it has not been enough. We have to make a clear assessment on that, and how we are going to take the club now into the next level, and if we want to do that, we know what we have to do.”

Report: Arsenal 5 – 1 Everton (inc. goals)

Result: Arsenal 5 – 1 Everton
Competition: Premier League
Date: 22 May 2022
Venue: The Emirates Stadium

Arsenal: Ramsdale, Cedric, Holding, Gabriel, Tavares, Xhaka, Elneny, Odegaard, Saka, Martinelli, Nketiah

Subs: Leno, White, Swanson, Oulad M’Hand, Lokonga, Patino, Pepe, Smith Rowe, Lacazette


Arsenal ended their season with a flourish by winning Everton 5-1. Martinelli opened the floodgates with a penalty followed by an Nketiah goal in the first half. A small lapse on concentration allowed Everton back into the game but the Gunners made sure of the win in the second half with goals from Cedric, Gabriel and Odegaard.

A fantastic result that saw us finish the league three places higher than last season, with a return to continental football in the form of the Europa League.

Pre-Match

Arsenal went into their last game of the season with the strongest team they could field. A half-fit White could only make the bench and Holding returned in his place after serving his suspension. The rest of the defence picked itself with Ramsdale in goal, Cedric at right back, Gabriel in the middle and Tavares down the left.

Xhaka and Elneny anchored the midfield while the trio of Odegaard, Saka and Martinelli supported Nketiah up front.

First Half

With Arsenal still in with a chance to finish fourth, the home team gave everything they got by pushing high and playing with urgency. Everton could hardly get out of their half. Cross after cross, high and low, were whipped in to the box but Arsenal lacked the killer edge to get the goal.

After all that pressure, it was an ex-Arsenal man who provided that golden opportunity for the Gunners. Martinelli volleyed on goal and Iwobi looked to have blocked with the upper part of his arm. After a lengthy VAR review, the referee called to the spot and Martinelli didn’t miss as he tucked the ball into the bottom away from Begovic. 1-0 to the Arsenal

Arsenal didn’t have to wait long to double their lead, just 3 minutes, in fact. The Gunners went ahead via a corner that was well worked but also poorly defended by Everton. Saka’s cross was flicked on by a mobile Martinelli and Nketiah made an instinctive finish to make it 2-0 to Arsenal

Arsenal continued bossing the first half and could have even ended it with a third goal as Saka streaked towards the Everton goal during a counter attack, but he could only push the ball wide.

We were dominating with 17 attempts on goal to Everton’s 2 towards the end of the half but it wouldn’t be Arsenal if they didn’t make things a wee bit more uncomfortable for the fans.

A little complacency crept in and they allowed Everton back into the game. Calvert-Lewin held the ball up well and cut back the ball into the centre of our box. Our defenders were not quick to respond and allowed Van de Beek to tap in for make it 2-1.

A major shame to have let the opponents back in after displaying their dominance.

Second Half

After what I can only assume was a bollocking from Arteta in the dressing room, Arsenal came out after the break looking to reassert their superiority and avoid a dramatic equalizer.

The Gunners regained their focus and had their foot behind the ball as they zipped it around, orchestrated by the maestro, Odegaard. For all the smooth interchanging play, it was set pieces that proved to be the difference. Set pieces got Arsenal their third and fourth goals with Cedric playing a part in both attempts.

With everyone expecting the ball to be whipped into the middle during a corner kick, Saka laid the ball off to Cedric who lurked just outside the box. The right back surprised everyone and curled the ball in to make it 3-1.

Just moments later, it was another corner whipped in and cleared. Cedric received the rebound outside the box, dribbled towards the left and slipped in Gabriel who slotted the ball in for 4-1.

The home side were so comfortable at this point that Arteta replaced Xhaka and Nketiah with Sambi and Lacazette, the game feeling like a friendly and an opportunity to say farewell to the forwards.

The subs may have been an eye on the outgoing but it was the future of the club that caught the eye. Odegaard was a metronome, he controlled the entire game and deserved to cap it off with a goal. The Norwegian dribbled through the Evertonian defence and curled a left footer towards the bottom corner, away from Begovic to rapturous applause. 5-1 Arsenal.

It was a bold win and Arsenal ended the season on a high. The result saw Arsenal return to European competition for the next season but just fell short of a Champions League place as Sp*rs also won at Norwich.

Still, a solid season overall which promises a lot more in the next campaign.