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With Arsenal’s defense ailing, it could be time to make a purchase

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The Premier League season has yet to start and the injuries are already lining up for Arsenal.

The most recent victim is center-back Laurent Koscielny, who limped out of training today a mere one day after injury ruled goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny out of Monday night’s friendly in Nagoya.

Koscielny left Sunday’s training with what appeared to be a right ankle problem. While Arsenal have not revealed the severity of Koscielny’s injury, it does not appear to be one with long term effects. Nevertheless, the French international is expected to join Szczesny on the sidelines for tomorrow night’s match.

With Koscielny’s injury, Arsenal are left with only one experienced center-back in Per Mertesacker. Thomas Vermaelen is out for up to three months with a back injury while Johan Djourou has been sent to Hamburg on a season-long loan.

The defensive situation at Arsenal grows more complicated when the injury to Nacho Monreal is factored in. The Spanish left-back, who is the back up to starter Kieran Gibbs, is also injured and will reportedly be out through October.

In short, Arsenal is getting quite thin in the back and the situation could prompt Arsene Wenger to make a move in the transfer market. While a move for Swansea City center-back Ashley Williams has been rumored for months (years?) to be headed to the Emirates.

The problem with Williams is two fold.

First, the Swans are said to want $15.3 million (£10m) for Williams’ services, a price which is a bit rich for a 28 year old center-back who has zero experience in Europe.

Second, if Arsenal are to buy a defender, flexibility is key. Williams, while very solid at the center-back position, is not versatile enough to play as an outside back. This is a quality that both Koscielny and Vermaelen possess, and one that Wenger is likely to search for in any new addition to his back line.

The answer could be Brazilian utility man Luis Gustavo, who Arsenal are rumored to have interest. Typically deployed as a defensive midfielder, Gustavo is versatile enough to play as a center-back and full-back as well. For a proposed transfer fee of $23 million (£15m), Gustavo could be the perfect answer for the Gunners defensive issues.

Jurgen Klopp says Daniel Sturridge is focused on getting healthy, not leaving Liverpool

during the Capital One Cup quarter final match between Southampton and Liverpool at St Mary's Stadium on December 2, 2015 in Southampton, England.
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Jurgen Klopp has made his frustrations with Daniel Sturridge‘s injury history very clear, but he still knows the England international is a crucial part of his squad, and he will be patient, no matter how frustrating it is.

Sturridge has been out since early December, and has made just five appearances all season due to a number of recurring injuries that have sapped him of his consistency for the last two years.

But with the 26-year-old back in training the last two days, the English media has speculated that Sturridge is looking to leave Liverpool, and that the club is trying to rid themselves of him as well. Klopp does not see it that way.

[ RELATED: Daniel Sturridge says he’s “good to go” ]

“I have no feeling that Daniel is thinking like this so stop thinking about it,” Klopp said in his pre-match press conference, speaking ahead of the match Saturday against Sunderland. “I spoke to him but not about this. I didn’t ask: ‘do you want to leave?’ “Why should I? He’s been back in training for two days. I don’t go over and say: ‘Daniel, I hear you want to leave? Is there truth in it?’ I don’t believe that it is like this.”

Klopp called the rumors a “non-story” and believes as soon as Sturridge is out on the field, the rumors will stop. He just has to get out on the field first.

“Since I was here I’ve had a normal relationship with Daniel Sturridge,” Klopp said. “The only problem is I have only had him 10 or 12 times on the training pitch – that is the truth. Now he is back we hope he can stay in team training and everything will be good. If everything is normal from now on then he is in the race.”

The German said that just having returned to training, Sturridge won’t be ready for Saturday’s game, but he could potentially be back to action for the FA Cup match against West Ham on Tuesday.

DFB takes legal action against Beckenbauer, FIFA, others

VIENNA, AUSTRIA - DECEMBER 16: Franz Beckenbauer attends the Energy For Life Christmas Ball For Children at Hofburg Vienna on December 16, 2014 in Vienna, Austria.  (Photo by Monika Fellner/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***Franz Beckenbauer
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BERLIN (AP) — The German football federation has opened legal proceedings against Franz Beckenbauer, former members, and FIFA in a bid to limit potential damages arising from the 2006 World Cup corruption affair.

The DFB tells The Associated Press in a statement that it has “taken the necessary measures to prevent a possible limitation of claims” against former head of the German World Cup organizing committee Beckenbauer and his then vice-president Fedor Radmann, former DFB presidents Theo Zwanziger and Wolfgang Niersbach, former DFB general secretary Horst R. Schmidt, the executors of Robert Louis-Dreyfus’ estate, together with FIFA.

Central to the affair is a suspect 6.7 million euro payment made to FIFA by the DFB before the 2006 World Cup was awarded. The money was loaned to the German federation by Dreyfus.

Brazilian midfielder Fred has doping ban extended to club, out until June

VIENNA, AUSTRIA - AUGUST 19:  Fred of Donetsk goes for a header during the UEFA Champions League: Qualifying Round Play Off First Leg match between SK Rapid Vienna and FC Shakhtar Donetsk on August 19, 2015 in Vienna, Austria.  (Photo by Christian Hofer/Getty Images)
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Shakhtar Donetsk striker Fred, a regular for the Brazilian national team, has seen his CONMEBOL doping ban extended worldwide to all competitions.

A FIFA disciplinary committee announced that Fred’s suspension now covers “all types of matches, including domestic, international, friendly and official fixtures.”

The 22-year-old tested positive for the diuretic hydrochlorothiazide during last summer’s Copa America, and has not played for the Brazilian national team since, having been banned for a year by CONMEBOL. He had been playing for his Ukranian club while FIFA was reviewing the case, making 12 appearances in league play and scoring two goals. He also played six times in the Champions League without scoring a goal.

The one-year ban is back-dated to Fred’s last international squad appearance, when he was on the bench for the Copa America quarterfinals on June 27 of last summer. That date will allow Fred to be eligible for the Rio Olympics, which start August 5.

Men In Blazers podcast: Irvine Welsh Pod Special

Men In Blazers - Sept. 22
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Rog talks with “Trainspotting” author Irvine Welsh about his new novel “A Decent Ride,” unconventional career arc, and love for West Ham United/Hibernian.

Listen to the latest pod by clicking play below.

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