OUT OF REACH

Arsenal’s chance of lifting the Premier League title is out of the reach of Arsene Wenger but they still have a chance of ending their trophy-less seasons which has seen the Emirates Stadium based team not being able of securing any major pieces of silverware in over 8 years.

Arsene Wenger and his players overcome Wigan on a penalty shootout with Lukasz Fabianski turning out to be the surprising hero for Arsenal. Wojciech Szczesny is the regular first choice picks of Wenger but this time around, the French tactician decided to switch it up and go for Fabianski which proved to be a good decision as the Polish shot-stopper saved 2 penalty shots in the last stages of the match.

Wigan managed to take the lead in 1st half with Jordi Gomez scoring a penalty set-piece but it was cancelled out by Per Mertesacker as his goal forced the match to continue on to extra time until reaching a penalty shoot-out.

This victory allows Arsenal on entering the finals of the FA Cup and giving the Premier League club a chance to rescue their season by securing the trophy.

Arsene Wenger has lately been under a lot of pressure for his inability to compete with England’s and Europe’s best.

“Everyone can dream of winning it at the start of the season. It is a dream open to everybody and that is the beauty of the FA Cup. Last year Wigan won it, this year you have Sheffield United in the semi-final and that kind of dream open to everybody makes the competition special. In the league you can talk and talk but we know the biggest budget will win it. That open dream is what makes this competition special in football’’. Wenger said.

The FA Cup is not such an important trophy for some club but for Arsene Wenger as it could be the difference between getting sacked or not.

ARSENAL FIRED UP

Arsenal are looking to get their first win at White Hart Lane since 2007 and Lukas Podolski has said that he is all fired up to help the club achieve exactly that. The striker scored in the 1-1 draw with Bayern Munich at the Allianz arena. Even though it did not help Arsenal qualify for the quarter-finals, it certainly helped restore some of the pride after losing the first leg 2-0. Podolski managed to score the goal from out of nothing against his former club. This was his first since the start of the season, although he has been out injured for most of this period.

Arsenal will be coming up against Tottenham team that lost 4-0 to Chelsea last weekend. Tim Sherwood was especially critical of his players after the match and he is expected to get a reaction from them in this crucial match. Tottenham have not certainly prepared well for this encounter after losing the midweek Europa league clash with Benfica. Podolski has stated that three points is the need of the hour for Arsenal since they need to stay in touch with Chelsea and Liverpool at the top of the table.

Chelsea will be visiting Villa Park to play Aston Villa, while Liverpool will be at Old Trafford to play against Manchester United.

“I’ve always liked derbies. When I played in Munich, or Cologne or even here in Arsenal I always liked derbies because there’s a special atmosphere and it’s a special fight. We want to go there, get the three points and drive back home. This is important for us. We must fight for the club, for the fans and I think this is an important game so I look forward to Sunday now. It’s always special when you score a goal,” said the striker ahead of the match.

PODOLSKI FACES BAYERN

Lukas Podolski joined Bayern Munich in 2006 but left the German titans on 2009 after the arrival of Luca Toni to the club saw Podolski being dropped down the pecking order and he ultimately decided on leaving the club.

The Arsenal player has now admitted that it was a mistake for him to leave Bayern Munich and it would have been a better move for him to stay with the German team instead of leaving.

“I believe that if Jupp Heynckes had arrived one or two weeks earlier in 2009, I would probably still be at Bayern now. He was desperate to keep me. From a purely sporting perspective, returning to Cologne was certainly not very helpful.” Podolski told Germany’s Sport Bild magazine.

Podolski has been struggling to get a spot in the starting lineup of Arsene Wenger as the German forward is sustaining a series of injuries that sparked a number of rumors of him leaving Arsenal and joining his homeland club, Cologne but those rumors were quickly shut down by Podolski.

‘’That was a myth. There was absolutely no truth in it. The coach told me as such, and I knew there was no truth in it.” Podolski revealed.

The consistent number of injuries that Podolski has been suffering from in this season has forced Wenger on keeping an eye out on the transfer market and the rumors continue emerging concerning his future with Arsenal and one of the latest ones is Mario Balotelli being linked with the Premier League club. Arsenal is reportedly ready to sell Podolski in order to lure in Balotelli from Ac.Milan.

During Podolski’s debut season with Arsenal, the German forward managed on scoring 16 goals and provided 11 assists for the English club but in the current campaign, he has been limited to only a few appearances.

BAYERN FACE ARSENAL

Bayern Munich managed to beat Arsenal in the knockout stages of the Champions league on their way to win the competition last season. The German outfit will be hoping for great omen this time around since they once again face Arsenal in the knockout stages. This is one of the high-profile matchups of the last 16 round, which will also see Manchester City taking on Barcelona. Arsenal failed to finish top of the group due to a final day defeat against Napoli. If they had topped the group, then they would have faced clubs significantly less stronger than Bayern Munich.

Podolski, who was part of the team that was defeated by his former club last season, says that it is time that Arsenal get their revenge on the German outfit. The striker recently returned from a long absence due to injury. His presence gives Arsene Wenger options upfront, which is something he has not had the luxury for most of this campaign. The first leg will be at home, which is yet another disappointment for Arsenal. After the arrival of Guardiola, Bayern have become even more stronger than they already were and they will pose a strong opposition.

Arsenal have never won the Champions league in the history.

“We know them well and Bayern are one of the best teams around, but we are also playing a good season and we’ll try all we can to turn around the result from last season this time around. Of course I know them and am friends with them – I know the bosses (president) Uli Hoeness and (chairman) Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and everybody who works at the club, but when the game approaches and we get out onto the field, then you are only focused,” said Podolski.

The former Bayern Munich striker has scored five goals this campaign.

VILLA STAR COMES OUT

Former Aston Villa midfielder Thomas Hitzlsperger has come out with an astonishing revelation that he is gay. He recently finished his playing career after representing popular clubs like Aston Villa and West Ham. He has also made numerous appearances for the German national team as well. Hitzlsperger has revealed that he has so far not disclosed his sexual orientation because of the fear of being punished by FIFA. He has received support from several players across the world. He is one of the very few to have come out openly about his homosexuality.

Lukas Podolski, who is his former international colleague, is one of the several to come out in support of Hitzlsperger. He has stated that it is a brave decision by the 31-year-old, who retired in September of last year after his spell with Everton. Injuries of persistent magnitude forced him to announce the decision. He is best known for his five years at Stuttgart where he made more than 125 appearances. Justin Fashanu and Robbie Rogers are some of the players who have come out in the open about their sexuality.

Podolski, who recently returned from a long injury layoff, says that it is a brave decision by his international colleague and one that should be respected.

“Brave and right decision. Respect, Thomas Hitzlsperger. His outing is a important sign in our time,” said Arsenal striker in his tweet.

“Thomas Hitzlsperger has shown a lot of courage today. Sad times when people have to wait till they retire from their chosen profession. Before they feel other people will judge them solely on who the human being is. Shame on all of us as a society,” said QPR midfielder Joey Barton in his tweet. Many other players have come out in support of Hitzlsperger after his revelation in a German daily.

ONE OF THE BEST

Lukas Podolski is regarded as one of the finest of his generation in German football, but he failed to make the grade at Bayern Munich. He was an extremely good football during his time at FC Cologne, but failed to recreate the magic at Bayern Munich. Former Borussia Dortmund star Marcel Raducanu thinks that the same fate could fall upon new signing Mario Gotze, who moved to the archrivals in a £ 38 million deal in the summer. At Dortmund, Gotze was one of the important players at the club.

This will not be the case at Bayern according to Raducanu, who thinks that the young player could have done well with regular first-team football that is almost guaranteed at Dortmund. Gotze has caused a lot of discontent amongst Dortmund fans especially after having come through the academy. Despite the loss of key players this summer, the team has not lost its edge and are currently fighting with Bayern Munich for the title. There are also doing well in the group stages of the Champions League as well.

He has said that Gotze is undoubtedly a great player, but he will find 24 other such players at Bayern Munich. As with Raducanu’s predictions, the young midfielder has been unable to make a lot of appearances and he has largely been on the sidelines.

“I fear that it will be very difficult for Mario at Bayern. It could be a bit like with Lukas Podolski, who also left Koln way too soon. There’s no doubt about Mario’s qualities, but the competition for places at Bayern is incredible. It would have been better for him had he stayed at Dortmund. He would have been the undisputed star here and had a lot of freedom. At Bayern, there are 24 more great players,” Raducanu told Bild.

ARSENAL SNAP UP SANOGO

Arsenal eventually completed the signing of the young French striker Yaya Sanogo on Monday. Sanogo has been signed on a free transfer as his contract with his former club Auxerre had expired at the end of the last season.

Sanogo played for Auxerre for 3 years between 2010 and 2013. He featured for the Ligue 1 side in 24 matches during that period and netted 11 times.

Sanogo is currently representing France in the U-20 World Cup. He is expected to join the Gunners for the pre-season training in a few days.

Talking to the reporters about Sanogo’s signing, the Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said, “I am excited to work with Sanogo. He is a fine, young talent. I was very impressed seeing him play for Auxerre in the last season. I hope he continues progressing well here at Arsenal.”

Sanogo himself was also ecstatic after the completion of his signing. Talking to the reporters, he said, “I am very happy to have got the opportunity to join a Premier League club. I had a decent last season and I am hoping to continue my good form at Arsenal.”

“Arsene Wenger personally visited me in Paris and offered me the contract. I couldn’t have said no to him. I had a positive chat with him. He told me that I would get my chances at Arsenal.”

There is no doubt about the talent of Sanogo. He has tremendous speed and strength and if he is in top nick, he can be more than handy. But, his fitness is a real issue. At Auxerre, he had to deal with an injury or two every season.

However, there are not too many managers in the world who knows better than Arsene Wenger how to develop talent. Let’s see how he deals with this young bloke.

1-0 TO THE ARSENAL

Arsenal managed a 1-0 win over Fulham during the weekend, which propelled them back into the top three of the table. Arsenal were extremely fortunate to not only come out with a victory, but with a clean sheet. Fulham had several chances over the course of the match despite playing with 10 men for much of the 90 min. Midfielder Steve Sidwell was sent off following a straight red card in the 12 min after his tackle on midfielder Mikel Arteta. The red card was extremely debatable because Sidwell did not have two feet off the ground.

Arsenal managed to take the lead in the match through a set piece goal from defender Per Mertesacker. Despite this victory, Arsenal will have reasons to be concerned in the remainder of the season. They played against 10 men for most of the match, but they were able to create any clear-cut opportunities. As in every other match, Arsenal dominated the possession, but they were not able to convert them into chances. Arsenal also had a man sent off late in the match when Oliver Giroud was given a straight red card.

After the match, Wenger said that the referee was right in giving the red card to Steve Sidwell.

“I think the referee could only give a red card [to Sidwell]. We will see [if Arteta is okay]. He played the second-half. I don’t know how much damage is done. It is a kick, a bad kick. I don’t know if he has twisted his ankle or not. In these kind of things it is a question of a fraction of a second. If you are fully on your foot at the moment you get it you break your leg. If you ease a bit off maybe that is why he got away with it,” said Wenger.

DERBY DAY

Tottenham and Arsenal will be renewing their rivalry once again during the weekend. This match is also extremely important as it could determine the Champions League future of both the clubs. Arsenal and Tottenham are currently fighting to finish in the top four, with Andre Villas-Boas’ men slightly edging this contest.

Due to the home advantage and good run of form, Tottenham are expected to clinch this encounter. This would enable them to open a significant advantage over Arsenal in the table, but the German international Lukas Podolski thinks that this match alone will not determine the top four positions this season. Continue reading DERBY DAY

CONFIDENT

Arsenal’s German striker Lukas Podolski has expressed his confidence that the club will be able to overtake their London rivals Chelsea to the third place in the Premier league. Chelsea are currently third in the Premier league after a disappointing season, while their London rivals Arsenal are further behind in the table. Despite their lowly sixth position, Podolski still believes that they can catch Chelsea, who have several points advantage with only a few months of matches remaining in the calendar. Arsenal have to overtake Tottenham and Everton before they can catch Chelsea. The Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has always made it a priority to finish in the top four rather than winning major trophy.

After having qualified for the Champions league consecutively for the past 16 seasons, Arsenal are in danger of missing out on the competition. Chelsea and Tottenham are the main rivals for the fourth position. Podolski has submitted that the slow start to the season has cost Arsenal their place in the top four at the moment, but he is confident that they will be able to recover in the remaining few months of the season. Even though he has not set the world alight on fire, Podolski has managed to score eight goals in 23 appearances for Arsenal this season.

“We must fight for the Champions League places and this is our focus. We want third place and we have a lot of matches to play. We are in the FA Cup and the Champions League but the focus must be on the Premier League. We wanted to finish first but we lost a lot of points in the first half of the Premier League and now the difference is too big. The other teams are really strong so we must fight in every game,” said Podolski.