Wenger: January window ‘more disturbing than ever’

Arsene Wenger is pleased to have replaced Alexis Sanchez with another ‘world-class’ player in Henrikh Mkhitaryan, but admits the January tranfer window has been ‘more disturbing than ever’.

Arsenal allowed Sanchez to join Manchester United on Monday to avoid losing the Chile international on a free transfer when his contract expired at the end of the season.

The Gunners received Mkhitaryan in exchange, with Wenger confirming the Armenia international has signed a contract running until June 2021.

Adding a dedicated professional to the squad provided some joy for Wenger, although he admits that he will be even more happy with the January window comes to an end.

“The thinking behind the deal is that we have player who has four months contract basically and we move [him] out for free and in exchange we have a player in Mkhitaryan who has a three-and-a-half-year contract,” Wenger told Arsenal Player.

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“So first it makes sense on a negotiations point of view and secondly we’re replacing a very good player with a very good player, a world-class player with a world-class player. That’s what it’s about, to keep our strength in the team.

“I’m very excited to get a player in who will be committed and focused. That is of course as well very important, where we go into a very important period in the season where every game is basically a very important game so it’s important to have players who are focused.

“I must say this transfer period has been a bit more disturbing than ever in the middle of the season, and I’m quite happy when the period is over.”

Arsenal have been heavily linked with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, with Borussia Dortmund claiming the Gunners made a bid over the weekend.

Wenger hopes Mkhitaryan, who scored five goals in 39 Premier League appearances for United, can find the net frequently and add creativity alongside Mesut Ozil, another player whose future at Emirates Stadium is uncertain amid protracted contract negotiations.

“Mkhitaryan can play on the wing or in midfield, so I believe he can play very well in many positions,” said Wenger.

“That can help us as well because he can play together with Ozil as well as playmaker, so overall it’s a good move.

“Maybe where he’s a bit short is on goalscoring but he has improved that. If you look at the number of goals he’s scored in his career, it’s quite impressive overall.

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“It is vital as well to have players who have experience, because we have a very good bunch of young players but we know that it’s not sufficient in the Premier League today to put them all in together. You also need a good weight of experience in your team and he will contribute to that.”


Stoger wants speedy Aubameyang resolution as Arsenal circle

Borussia Dortmund coach Peter Stoger wants Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s future to be resolved as soon as possible amid interest from Arsenal, but is unsure whether it will happen “in the next few days”.

Dortmund announced at the weekend they had received a bid – believed to be to the tune of €50 million – for Aubameyang from Arsenal, who on Monday announced the arrival of the Gabon international’s former team-mate Henrikh Mkhitaryan in a trade for Alexis Sanchez with Manchester United.

BVB are thought to be holding out for a fee in excess of €60m for the the 28-year-old, who has been dropped for the club’s last two Bundesliga games as questions over his future intensify.

Stoger has consistently left the door open for Aubameyang to regain his place in the line-up and the striker was involved in first-team training on Monday.

The coach was unable to provide an update on Aubameyang’s future, but hopes it will be sorted quickly.

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“Of course, we’d like there to be a resolution tomorrow, whatever it was,” said Stoger.

“Everything that is clarified does everyone good in their lives. But if it takes longer then it will take longer.

“I cannot say if anything will happen in the next few days.”


Swansea had to make ‘Formula One’ Liverpool uncomfortable – Carvalhal

Carlos Carvalhal told Swansea City to make “Formula One” Liverpool uncomfortable prior to their surprise 1-0 victory at the Liberty Stadium on Monday.

Liverpool travelled to south Wales following a stunning 4-3 triumph over Premier League leaders Manchester City, but they came unstuck against the division’s bottom side.

Carvalhal instructed the Swans to make it difficult for the Reds by switching the play when the visitors pressed high.

“I made an analogy about this game [for the players]. I said Liverpool is a really top team and they are a strong team but they are a Formula One, but if you put a Formula One into London in the traffic at 4pm it will not run very fast. That’s what we had to do against Liverpool, make them play the way they don’t like,” the Portuguese told Sky Sports.

“They have a principle that when they lose the ball they are very strong with pressing. We did these mistakes against Liverpool [before he joined] but today my players were ready for that, all the time my players one, two touch, all the time with support.

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“When Liverpool put pressure on the sides we switched to the other to put them under the pressure. That’s why we achieved more moments to get close to the goal.

“We had the fortune to score a goal. It’s not exactly how we wish to play but the circumstances of the moment, we need the win.

“Since the beginning I told my players the most important thing is the belief. I try to give confidence to them, to give them belief. It’s not just a question of belief, if you’re not organised, you can believe a lot but you will not win any game.”

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GFX Carvalhal on Liverpool tactics

Alfie Mawson scored the game’s only goal in the first half following a corner and Carvalhal had identified the set-piece as an area Swansea could hurt Liverpool.

“We try to explore anywhere [to score against them]. We felt they have a lot of strong points but they have weak points and set-pieces was one of them,” he added.


Chelsea reach agreement with Roma for Dzeko and Emerson

Chelsea and Roma have come to an agreement over the transfer of Edin Dzeko and Emerson Palmieri, Goal understands.

The deal, which will see Roma reportedly land €50 million for the two players plus another €10m in incentives, will be finalized upon the Blues’ completion of personal terms with Dzeko.

Back-up Chelsea striker Michy Batshuayi will not be included in the deal as it currently stands. Batshuayi has reportedly drawn interest from Sevilla and Borussia Dortmund during the January window.

Despite advancing to the Champions League knockout stages and finding themselves within three points of a top-four place in Serie A, Roma are now poised to cash in on two important players.

“Whatever will be will be,” Roma director of football Monchi said on Sunday. “I work every day to have players suitable to replace our players, my job is always to strengthen my club.

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“If [Dzeko] leaves Roma, we’ll buy another player.”

The former Wolfsburg and Manchester City striker has scored nine Serie A goals this season for the capital club, a year removed from a prolific 29-goal, nine-assist campaign in 2016-17. Despite the drop-off compared to last season, Dzeko still leads the club in league goals scored in 2017-18.

Emerson played in 24 Serie A games last season, but recovery from a cruciate ligament injury this season has limited him to just a single 15-minute appearance in the league.

However, his likely move to Chelsea looks to have freed up Kenedy for his much-awaited loan to Newcastle United. Antonio Conte previously had stated he would not let Kenedy leave without having adequate cover at the wide positions, but with Emerson set to arrive, a six-month temporary switch to the Magpies can now go through.

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A similar stance has been taken with Batshuayi, and Dzeko’s arrival may free him up to move elsewhere this month, even if Roma is not his eventual destination.

The 24-year-old Batshuayi has scored two Premier League goals this season in 12 appearances and only three starts for the Blues, though he has added another two goals in four matches in the Champions League.

Batshuayi completed a €39m move to Chelsea in the 2016 summer window, but has only scored seven Premier League goals in his Blues career as he has struggled to become a fixture in Conte’s plans, with the manager conceding he may leave this month.


Chelsea out to attack Arsenal in ‘special’ Carabao Cup semi-final, says Hazard

Eden Hazard showed some of his best form in Chelsea’s 4-0 win against Brighton at the weekend and hopes that his side can use that as a confidence boost to bring the game to Arsenal on Wednesday in the Carabao Cup.

The Blues go into the semi-final clash having drawn the opening match 0-0 at Stamford Bridge two weeks earlier.

But Hazard, who bagged a brilliant brace on Saturday, hopes that the London derby can entertain as it did in the exciting 2-2 Premier League clash at the start of the month and thinks that Chelsea will attack their opponents better than they did in the first leg.

“It’s a semi-final. We will go there to win, for sure,” Hazard said. “If we are thinking about setting up defensively against Arsenal then that’s a bad thing, because we need to score goals. We will see what the team is like – maybe the manager can change some players.

“We need to find ways to create problems for them. We will go there to win the game, create chances, because if we don’t create chances we can’t score. It’s that simple. 

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“Yes, maybe [it will be exciting like the league match], but we will see. We will go there to win the game because we want to win trophies at the end of the season, and the [Carabao] Cup is a good trophy. 

“Big games are special because you know everyone is watching. It’s a semi-final and our fans want Chelsea in finals, so they will be watching the game.

“The Emirates Stadium is good with a lot of fans. It’s the kind of night you want to shine in.”