Jack Wilshere

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Wenger gives update on Sanchez, Chamberlain, Wilshere

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Arsene Wenger has a lot to sort out in the coming months. And that’s just off the pitch.

Wenger, 67, has nine first-team players who are in the final years of their contracts at Arsenal and although Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez have had much of the spotlight when it comes to their respective futures, there is plenty more to sort out.

But, for the sake of order, let’s start with Wenger’s comments on Sanchez’s future as the 28-year-old remains sideline with an abdominal injury and is in the final 12 months of his deal.

Wenger revealed that Sanchez won’t make the game at Stoke this weekend, but that he’ll likely return against Liverpool on Aug. 27.

Speaking to the media ahead of Arsenal’s trip to Stoke on Saturday (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com) the Frenchman revealed there has been no progress in talks over Sanchez staying at the Emirates Stadium.

“He is a player who goes into the final year of his contract. We have not progressed on that front,” Wenger said. “Let’s not be wrong, it’s not an ideal situation on the financial side and it demands some sacrifice. But first of all, it doesn’t mean the players who are in the final year of their contract will not extend their contract. You have still that possibility and we work on that as well.

“That (possibly allowing Sanchez to leave for free) is a consequence of what I say, yes, unfortunately. But we have to make a choice between efficiency on the field and financial interest and most of the time if you can find a good compromise, it’s better. But in this case, I think I prioritize the fact that he will be useful on the sporting side.”

So, that’s Sanchez. It appears Wenger is still willing to let Sanchez leave for nothing at the end of this season with the Chilean superstar, who scored 24 goals and added 10 assists in the Premier League for Arsenal last season, free to negotiate a free transfer with clubs outside of England from January onwards.

As for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Jack Wilshere, Wenger seems eager to keep both players but interest around the England internationals continue to swirl with both Chelsea and Manchester City said to be interested in the Ox and clubs such as West Ham, Newcastle and Sampdoria trying to sign Wilshere.

“We always wanted to keep Sanchez and we always hope, even now, that we can extend the contracts of Sanchez, Chamberlain, Ozil,” Wenger told beIN Sports. 

He expanded on those thoughts with the press on Wednesday, stating his appreciation for Chamberlain in particular.

“I rate him  highly,” Wenger said. “I want him to stay here for a long time and I’m convinced he will be the English player in the next two or three years that everybody will look at.”

Wenger’s comments earlier in the summer about Arsenal being in a strong position with several first-team stars in the final year of their respective contracts seemed like a bizarre one. With these situations rumbling on and no end in sight to the speculation and uncertainty, his comments now seems even more peculiar.

Transfer rumor roundup: Carvalho to West Ham; Mahrez, Wilshere updates

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Sixteen of 20 Premier League clubs had a look at their season squads by the time Sunday’s transfer rumors hit the Internet, and that’s seemingly upped the ante for buyers.

[ MORE: USMNT’s Chandler scores ]

First, to Leicester: the Foxes had a thrilling 4-3 loss to Arsenal, one of the squads who’ve been linked many times to Leicester attacker Riyad Mahrez. The Algerian has been more in focus when it comes to AS Roma, and the Italian club is apparently not going to budge from its valuation of the player.

The Leicester Mercury has quotes from Roma sporting director Monchi which may close the door on his joining i Lupi:

“In the last press conference I said we had bid what we believe to be a fair offer, which is also the biggest in the club’s history,” said Monchi. “We won’t bid again.”

The same report says the only clubs which would pry Mahrez’s attention from the Premier League would be Barcelona and Real Madrid.

West Ham may end up landing one of the more coveted if under the radar players in Europe, set to seal a club record transfer for Sporting Lisbon midfielder William Carvalho.

$35 million is the fee quoted, and Carvalho could combine with Cheikhou Kouyate to make the sort of midfield foes would rather not enter on any given match day.

Finally, The Sun is quoting Jack Wilshere‘s “friends” in saying the midfielder was fit for selection and left out by Arsene Wenger despite the manager’s claim that Wilshere was hurt. That’s cued up more rumors of a move to Newcastle United.

Yet Benitez feels he can land Wilshere who, in an added bonus, thinks his Arsenal career is over.

How is 2017-18 looking for Americans in the Premier League?

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There are five players who have been involved with the full U.S. national team who will feature in the 2017-18 Premier League season.

[ MORE: 2017-18 PL season preview hub ] 

In a World Cup year we will all be keeping a very close eye on them.

Below we look at what lies ahead for each player and their club in the upcoming campaign as they aim to keep impressing Bruce Arena ahead of Russia 2018 (fingers crossed).


Geoff Cameron – Stoke City

The U.S. national team’s starting center back signed a new contract at Stoke City at the end of last season and is heading into his sixth campaign as a regular for the Potters. Each season he is inching closer to Clint Dempsey‘s record as the outfield American player with the most appearances in PL history. Cameron, 32, will likely start in central midfield for Stoke this season after a string of man of the match performances at the end of last season when he returned from a long-term knee injury. It’s a big year for the Massachusetts native who will be in the USMNT’s starting lineup at the World Cup in Russia next summer as long as he’s fit and, of course, the U.S. qualify. Composed on the ball and strong in the air and the tackle, Cameron adds a calming influence to Stoke’s midfield and his versatility (right back, center back or center mid) means he is a hugely valuable asset to Mark Hughes‘ side.

DeAndre Yedlin – Newcastle United

Yedlin, 24, will start the season on the sidelines after picking up a hamstring injury in a preseason friendly. The former Seattle Sounders star made 32 appearances and scored once for Newcastle in their title-winning season in England’s second-tier in 2016-17 and he’s now ready to return to the PL after having a taste whilst on loan at Sunderland in 2015-16. He may not be Rafael Benitez’s first-choice right back after the summer arrival of Javier Manquillo but Yedlin’s versatility mean he can be deployed as a winger, wing back or full back down the right. Once he’s fully-fit expect him to make plenty of appearances for the Magpies this season. His surging forward runs are dangerous and he needs a big season under his belt in a World Cup year.

Danny Williams – Huddersfield Town

A huge season for Williams, 28, at Reading last season saw him clinch a move to newly-promoted Huddersfield. With his Reading side losing to Huddersfield on penalty kicks in the playoff final at Wembley, Williams put in a superb all-action display in midfield and obviously impressed fellow German-American David Wagner enough for the Huddersfield boss to give him a contract. Williams was a free transfer (bargain alert!) and he will compete straight away for a starting spot for the Terriers. A relegation battle likely awaits but Williams will be hoping he will get regular minutes in the PL to impress Bruce Arena and work into his plans for the USMNT. With stunning goals against Brazil and the Netherlands for the U.S. he has shown what he can do in the past but hasn’t appeared for the Stars and Stripes since 2016. Williams has experience of playing in the Bundesliga but is yet to appear in the Premier League. After four years giving his all with Reading to try and gain promotion he has finally achieved his dream, but with Huddersfield.

Emerson Hyndman – Bournemouth

The former Fulham midfielder and U.S. U-20 captain spent last season on loan at Glasgow Rangers and excelled but an untimely injury during preseason means he has started life back at parent club Bournemouth with plenty of work to do. Hyndman, 21, is now at a crossroads in his career. He is contracted to Bournemouth for another three seasons but unless he breaks into Eddie Howe‘s squad consistently this season then he will likely be loaned elsewhere again. Jack Wilshere won’t be at Bournemouth this season so another midfield slot has opened up, but can Hyndman displace veterans Harry Arter, Andrew Surman and Dan Gosling, plus youngster Lewis Cook, for one of the central midfield roles? It will be a big ask for the Dallas native but his composure on the ball and ability to time his runs into the box will impress Howe.

Cameron Carter-Vickers – Tottenham Hotspur

It is hard to believe Carter-Vickers is still just 19 years old. He’s been around Spurs’ first team squad for the past two seasons and Mauricio Pochettino is known to be a huge fan of the U.S. national team youngster. Although he hasn’t made his full debut for the USMNT, Jurgen Klinsmann called him up to the squad after he impressed for the U.S. U-20’s. CCV has played in plenty of games for Spurs during preseason and continues to be given plenty of chances to develop with the English national team keeping a close eye on him with the defender born and raised in Essex to an American father. The young center back has Jan Vertonghen, Eric Dier and Toby Alderweireld ahead of him in the pecking order at Spurs, but with Kevin Wimmer likely on the way out he will remain with Spurs’ first team this season. Any defensive injuries could see him make his PL debut after appearing in cup competitions last season.

Arsene Wenger admits “mistake” and says players will leave

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LONDON — Arsene Wenger was in high spirits after Arsenal beat Chelsea on penalty kicks at Wembley Stadium on Sunday to win the Community Shield.

[ MORE: 3 things we learned | Player ratings ]

The Frenchman, 67, has guided Arsenal into a much more positive period following their powerful finish to the 2016-17 Premier League season where they just missed out on a top four finish but managed to win the FA Cup as their switch to a 3-4-3 formation paid off.

Momentum is very much with Arsenal heading into the new Premier League season with new signings Sead Kolasinac and Alexandre Lacazette impressing.

Speaking after the game Wenger admitted that the negative atmosphere has dissipated over the past few months, and suggested he made a mistake to delay the announcement over his new two-year contract which only arrived after last season was over.

“It’s down to us to create a positive atmosphere in the team. A lot was created by my situation. Maybe I made a mistake,” Wenger admitted. “Overall I believe it is down to us to have strength and, as always, to come from the team.”

If Wenger had announced in January he was signing a new deal, would Arsenal have finished in the top four and would Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil have signed new deals? Who knows how much difference it would have made but Wenger is obviously thinking about it.

The Gunners boss revealed that Sanchez was left out of the squad due to a lack of match sharpness as he only returned to training on Tuesday, while Mesut Ozil has a swollen ankle and is a considerable doubt for Friday’s Premier League opener against Leicester City at the Emirates Stadium (Watch live, 2:45 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com). Aaron Ramsey is also struggling to be fit for the PL opener after missing out against Chelsea.

Wenger was then pressed on his plans to offload some of his squad with the Gunners now having 33 players in their first team roster.

Amid reports claiming that Jack Wilshere, Olivier Giroud, Kieran Gibbs and others could leave in the final weeks of the transfer window, Arsenal’s manager admitted that he has to do some trimming to his squad and there will be departures.

“To be honest the number is too high and we will let some players go,” Wenger said. “Too much competition for places is detrimental, like a lack of competition for places is difficult as well. I agree with you that 33 is too high.”

Heading into the season there are plenty of positive vibes around Arsenal despite Ozil and Sanchez failing to commit their long term future’s to the club and no UEFA Champions League action.

Maybe finishing outside the top four last season was just the wake-up call Wenger, and everyone at Arsenal, needed.

Three things we learned from Arsenal, Chelsea

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LONDON — Arsenal beat Chelsea on penalty kicks at Wembley on Sunday to clinch the FA Community Shield in the curtain-raiser for the 2017-18 season.

Victor Moses‘ goal less than a minute into the second half put Chelsea ahead but Arsenal equalized late on with Sead Kolasinac heading home moments after Pedro was sent off for Chelsea.

The game went straight to penalty kicks, using the new ABBA system, after it ended 1-1 in normal time and Arsenal scored all four of their penalty kicks with Thibaut Courtois smashing over and Alvaro Morata scuffing wide for Chelsea.

Arsenal impressed for plenty of the game as new signing Alexandre Lacazette hit the post and Danny Welbeck also caused plenty of problems.

In the end Arsene Wenger got the better of Antonio Conte once again as Arsenal picked up the first piece of silverware of the season and beat Chelsea at Wembley just like they did in May to win the FA Cup.

Here’s what we learned from Wembley on a sunny Sunday less than a week before the new Premier League season begins.


LACAZETTE, WELBECK PROMISE PLENTY

Without Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez in their squad, you could forgive Arsenal for looking lackluster in attack. That wasn’t the case.

New club-record signing Alexandre Lacazette displayed enough energy, ability to find pockets of space and ingenuity to suggest the $68.7 million Arsenal paid for Lyon is money well spent.

Lacazette know as “La Gachette” or the Trigger in France sparked a wonderful counter attack in the 22nd minute, spinning away from his marker to link up with Hector Bellerin and then Danny Welbeck in a sweeping move from right to left which ended with Lacazette composing himself before sending a curled effort which cannoned off the post and out. You could be forgiven for thinking a former French international striker was back on the pitch for the Gunners.

Thierry Henry comparisons aside, Lacazette, 26, is in his prime and appears to be exactly what Arsenal have needed ever since Robin Van Persie departed in 2012. He is more than just a pure finisher with plenty of tracking back and dropping deep to get on the ball, cutting in from wide positions, but “Trigger” also had a wiling runner alongside him in Welbeck who he could link up with and he also provided Chelsea plenty of problems with his runs in-behind.

In a summer dominated by the future’s of Sanchez and Ozil, Arsene Wenger may well have found his new strike partnership mid all the fuss. With Sanchez, Olivier Giroud and Theo Walcott all able to play centrally too, the Gunners have plenty of fine attacking options heading into the season. On this showing Lacazette and Welbeck may provide the best balance with Ozil and Sanchez battling for places to support them. Of course they’ll both play, but adding them to the starting lineup and keeping the balance of their attack will be an intriguing dilemma for Wenger.

With Shkodran Mustafi, Sanchez, Ozil, Santi Cazorla, Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere to come into this team, the Gunners’ squad is looking incredibly strong. With Kolasinac jumping off the bench to head home a late equalizer they have another solid option in defense too and since switching to a 3-4-3 formation seem more sturdy and have a knack of digging out results.

Maybe, just maybe, Arsenal will surprise plenty this season with a squad big enough to have two different teams in the PL and the Europa League. Expectations are perhaps lower than ever among Arsenal’s fans which is a strange thing, but maybe it will help them flourish.


CHELSEA SLUGGISH

For most of the first half Chelsea struggled to connect passes, put themselves under pressure in defense and took loose touches in the final third. Antonio Conte’s lacked sharpness in the first half but soon came alive in the second with Moses gambling off Gary Cahill‘s flick to finish well.

That woke Chelsea up and just as we saw last season when opponents pushed hard to get back into the game, Chelsea began to pick Arsenal off on the counter with N'Golo Kante running the counters from midfield.

Overall it was a groggy display and far from vintage as Chelsea missed the creative spark of the injured Eden Hazard and the guile of soon to depart Diego Costa. For much of preseason that’s been the case for Conte’s side with new signings Tiemoue Bakayoko, Antonio Rudiger and Alvaro Morata not starting on Sunday at Wembley.

Bakayoko is working his way back to full fitness, while Rudiger and Morata are slotting in after arriving late in preseason. With Bakayoko, Morata and Hazard all likely to become starters in this team, Conte knows his Chelsea side a month from now will be very different to the one which recovered from a sluggish start at Wembley on Sunday. They were perhaps aided by Per Mertesacker‘s head injury which forced Arsenal into a defensive reshuffle, but as they game wore on you could see their ruthless streak returning.

Then came a minute of madness as Pedro received a straight red card and they then switched off to allow Kolasniac to head home from a set piece situation, something which hurt the Blues during their title-winning campaign. Courtois and Morata then missed their penalty kicks with more lapses of concentration which will leave Conte wide-awake for a few nights ahead of the new season.

The reigning champs can’t afford to start the season as sluggishly as they started, and finished, the Community Shield.


MORATA’S ABSENCE TELLING

In the week Antonio Conte revealed that Alvaro Morata, Chelsea’s club-record signing who is supposed to deliver the goals lost from Diego Costa’s impending departure, “has to improve his condition a lot to adapt quickly into our team.”

Morata, 24, played for Conte at Juventus and knows what the Italian coach is all about, but it appears the early signs for him at Chelsea haven’t been great.

With Michy Batshuayi a bystander for most of this game, it’s clear he will be nothing more than a second central striking option for Chelsea this season. Morata replaced Batshuayi with 20 minutes to go and received a standing ovation from Chelsea’s supporters. The expectancy on his shoulders is clear.

Conte will rely on the towering Spaniard to score at least 20 goals and he showed his penchant for that as he first peeled off Arsenal’s defense and connected with Willian‘s searching cross to the far post but he couldn’t get a proper connection on it.

In stoppage time he then won a free kick cleverly and from the resulting set piece he nodded Cesc Fabregas’ cross wide but was offside. Morata looked lively but you can understand why Conte seems concerned about his fitness.

His scuffed penalty kick summed up his slack start to life at Stamford Bridge for the $90 million man.