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Galaxy’s Cole admits he enjoys Arsenal struggles

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LA Galaxy left back Ashley Cole left Arsenal for Chelsea more than a decade ago, but that hasn’t erased the bitter memories of the departure from his boyhood club.

Cole was famously involved in a “tapping up” meeting with Chelsea without Arsenal’s permission in 2005, but signed a contract extension with the Gunners. Still, he was gone a year later in messy circumstances.

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As the most capped fullback in England’s history who boasts both Premier League and Champions League titles with Chelsea, Cole easily could rest on his own laurels and move on from the divorce.

But when asked whether he’s enjoying Arsenal’s current struggles, Cole couldn’t help himself.

“If I’m honest, yeah, I still think to this day. I laugh to myself. I had a lot of history there and I think the way I left was maybe a bit dodgy but the lack of respect they showed me as well.”

Cole accepts a share of the blame for his time ended at Arsenal, but says he doesn’t regret it. Still, his response is not a picture of class.

Next time, just laugh and say, “Next question,” Ashley.

Premier League preseason: Big boys heading to USA, Far East

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With the announcement that Manchester United, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur are all coming to the U.S. this summer to take part in the International Champions Cup, teams across the Premier League are starting to plan out their preseason plans.

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Five of the current top six teams in the Premier League have their schedule sorted for the offseason, with Liverpool rumored to be heading to the Far East with Hong Kong and Shanghai said to be their likely destination.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

We will update this page as the preseason tour announcements are confirmed by more PL clubs, but for now here’s what we have.


Arsenal 

Thursday, July 13 — vs. Sydney FC – ANZ Stadium, Sydney
Saturday, July 15 — vs. Western Sydney Wanderers – ANZ Stadium, Sydney
Wednesday, July 19 — vs. Bayern Munich – Shanghai Stadium, China
Saturday, July 22 — vs. Chelsea – Beijing, China

Chelsea

Saturday, July 22 — vs. Arsenal – Beijing, China
Tuesday, July 25 — vs. Bayern Munich – National Stadium, Singapore
Friday, July 28 — vs. Inter Milan – National Stadium, Singapore

Manchester City

Thursday, July 20 — vs. Manchester United – Venue TBD
Wednesday, July 26 —  vs. Real Madrid – Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
Saturday, July 29 — vs. Spurs – Nissan Stadium (Nashville)

Manchester United

Saturday, July 15 — vs. LA Galaxy – StubHub Center
Monday, July 17 — vs. Real Salt Lake – Rio Tinto Stadium
Thursday, July 20 — vs. Manchester City – Venue TBD
Sunday, July 23 — vs. Real Madrid vs. Manchester United – Levi’s Stadium (Santa Clara)
Wednesday, July 26 — vs. Barcelona – FedEx Field (Maryland)

Tottenham Hotspur

Saturday, July 22 — vs. PSG – Camping World Stadium (Orlando)
Tuesday, July 25 — vs. Roma – Red Bull Arena
Saturday, July 29 — vs. Man City – Nissan Stadium (Nashville)

Arsenal won’t discuss Ozil, Sanchez deals until summer

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After staying quiet on this topic for many months, Arsene Wenger has given an update on the futures of Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil.

This saga will rumble on for another few months, folks.

[ MORE: Costa to leave Chelsea?

Speaking to BeIN Sports during the international break, Wenger had the following to say when asked about the current contract negotiations surrounding Sanchez and Ozil who are both entering the final year of their deals with the Gunners.

“At the moment we don’t have an agreement,” Wenger said. “We’ve decided to focus on end of season and talk about it in the summer. Once you don’t find an agreement and it lasts, it is not good. So it’s better if you get it out and sit down in the summer.”

So, there you have it.

With 15 months left on the contracts of Sanchez and Ozil, Arsenal is not budging and will not sit down to discuss the future of their two world-class stars until the summer.

This seems like a slightly risky move, especially as other clubs from across the world circle like vultures. Still, the duo will be Arsenal players until at least the end of the season and if no agreement is made by the end of the summer then Arsenal will have to offload the duo or risk losing them for nothing in 2018.

Can we question this stance from Arsenal?

Well, when you think about the finances, offering both Sanchez and Ozil huge deals with no guarantee of UEFA Champions League action next season (that threat is very real for the first time in Wenger’s 20-year tenure following four defeats in their last five Premier League games) would be severe financial mismanagement by the Gunners hierarchy. That’s not something they can ever be accused of.

Given the fact that Wenger has yet to confirm whether he will stay on in charge of Arsenal next season is part of this too, but Arsenal is playing hardball with the agents of Sanchez and Ozil who want their clients to become two of the best paid players in the Premier League.

In Sanchez’s case, it’s hard to argue he’s not worth a deal in-excess of $300,000 per week. And if you pay him that much, Ozil will want something very similar.

Arsenal’s Bellerin: Barcelona interest would be “special”

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Hector Bellerin is with the Spanish national team this week in what must be a welcome departure from the dour grounds at Arsenal.

The Gunners’ struggles are not inescapable, though, and Bellerin’s electric skill set combined with the uncertainty of Arsene Wenger‘s future has the Arsenal back talking about his future.

[ MORE: Bastian to Chicago Fire ]

Bellerin, 22, left Barcelona in 2011 to join Arsenal’s academy, and admitted Tuesday that the club still has a special place in his heart.

From Sport:

“It’s nice there are a lot of big clubs that are interested in me, but if one of those is Barcelona that’s special. I don’t forget I grew up in that home and I will never forget my stay at Barcelona.”

However, he added: “I left Barcelona because I felt the club was not confident in me, I didn’t feel valued, disenchanted.”

One reason Wenger and Arsenal need to clear up his future plans ASAP is to shore up the plans of players like Bellerin.

There are plenty of reasons the Gunners should want to keep Bellerin around, and the dark clouds have certainly made their way into the Arsenal dressing room. Why wouldn’t Bellerin’s head be turned by home? Another question: Do Bellerin and the Arsenal players want Wenger to stick around or end his time at the Emirates?

Huge squad overhaul lined up by Arsenal?

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Despite Arsene Wenger‘s future as Arsenal’s manager still unclear, what is clear is that the Gunners are contemplating a big overhaul of their squad this summer.

[ MORE: Bastian to Chicago Fire ]

After losing 3-1 at West Bromwich Albion on Saturday, the Gunners have now lost four of their last five Premier League games to slump to sixth place in the table and missing out on the top four for the first time in 20 years is becoming a real possibility.

With both Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil still not tied down to long-term contracts and many reports suggesting they’ll both leave this summer, speculation is spreading that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Jack Wilshere may also leave this summer too.

A report from the Daily Mirror claims that Wenger is lining up Monaco’s teenage striker Kylian Mappe and Lyon forward Alexandre Lacazette to replace Ozil and Sanchez.

Similarly, the Daily Telegraph believes that Arsenal is lining up a move for Everton’s Ross Barkley to fill the void left by Oxlade-Chamberlain and Wilshere and also state the futures of David Ospina, Nacho Monreal and Kieran Gibbs are in doubt with Jack Butland and Celtic’s Kieran Tierney possible targets.

Would Arsenal be stronger after this overhaul? They’d certainly be younger.

Mappe, just 18 years old, is set to become the next big thing in French soccer and has scored 17 goals in 29 appearances this season, while 25-year-old Lacazette is 25 years old and has 28 goals to his name this season. After being linked with moves to the Premier League over the past few summers, Lacazette now appears ready to move on from Lyon.

Still, losing Ozil and Sanchez would be a huge blow. There’s no other way to look at it.

Barkley, 23, would be an intriguing buy and on paper he’d slot into the Arsenal style of play as a creative midfielder but he has a little more power and pace to his game than Ozil or Wilshere.

The one thing Arsenal fans will want to know sooner rather than later is if Wenger is staying or not. These reports seem to suggest that transfer plans to overhaul the current Gunners squad are being made.

Surely that suggests Wenger is ready to commit to another two years at the Emirates…