Arsenal’s chief transfer negotiator is in Germany with Julian Draxler on his mind

1 Comment

Finally, some real life traction has begun in the Julian Draxler-to-Arsenal rumors as the Gunners’ chief transfer negotiator, Dick Law, is currently in Germany exploring the possibility of a January deal for the Schalke starlet.

The Draxler rumor has followed a path that’s been quintessential Arsenal transfer drama. It began sometime last summer as nothing more than a natural linking – a stylish club looking for a stylish player. Then in December chatter of the German international coming to North London was ramped up the the Mirror, the Daily Mail and other speculation-pumping hyenas (bless their souls) of the footy tabloid world.

When the New Year finally rolled around Goonah’s across the globe snatched their ticket in the transfer deli line and when asked their wish, the request was broad and reasonable: ‘One world-class striker, please.’

How about Draxler?‘ the Transfer Voice responded.

Er… well… I think he’s an attacking midfielder… but yes, sure, he’ll be great,‘ Goonah’s replied with hopes that, like former Arsenal hitman, Robin van Persie, Draxler could be converted to a striker.

All the while Gunners boss, Arsene Wenger, played it cool. So damn cool, in fact, that when asked about the Draxler-to-Arsenal link he replied: “That is an illusion. There is nothing happening, honestly no. We don’t need to take players on the flanks – we have 17 players on the flanks.”

Best poker face in the game, that Wenger.

Because while the crafty ole Frenchman does have plenty of options in the attacking midfield, he also has some injury concerns, mainly to Theo Walcott, who is out for the season with a cruciate knee ligament rupture. But then there’s also Aaron Ramsey’s setback in rehabilitation from a thigh strain, Jack Wilshere’s ankle problem, Tomas Rosicky’s nose and the four-match ban defensive midfielder Mathieu Flamini picked up for his two-footed challenge against Southampton’s Morgan Schneiderlin on Tuesday.

Then there are the issues up top. Olivier Giroud is tired (even if he says otherwise) and Nicholas Bendtner doesn’t possess the requisite proven quality (even if he says otherwise).

So, to answer the question everyone is asking, yes, Draxler fits into the needs of this Arsenal side.

First and foremost he fits because he is a world-class talent – a 20-year-old with infinite potential to impact the game at a number of positions. Much like Mesut Ozil last summer, Draxler is, at his core, a player that if you can get your hands around him you do it, regardless of whether he’s currently in the exact form of your club’s needs.

Second, Draxler provides the injection of new blood into a squad facing a Champions League and Premier League title run. No, he won’t be able to play in the Gunners’ European campaign, but his ideas and imagination will be there domestically and in training, which will be a huge boost.

Third, Arsenal’s three headed monster could use a kick up. Santi Cazorla, Serge Gnabry, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Rosicky, Wilshere and Ozil have done incredibly well but including Draxler will provide fresh ideas and some much needed rest.

Fourth, and finally, Draxler is capable of excelling in the role of a False 9. It would be a work-in-progress, no doubt about that, but one that few opposing defenses would want to be on the receiving end of.

Which brings us back to the news that one of the best named transfer negotiators ever, Dick Law, is in Germany. The cat is out of the bag, Wenger. Arsenal is at least trying to get this deal done. And the club is just one easy payment of a £37M buy-out clause away from making it happen. The transfer window closes Friday at 11pm GMT/6pm ET.

Tick-tock.

League Cup: How to watch, start times, as Premier League powers enter

League Cup how to watch
Photo by David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Fifteen Premier League teams eye dates in the fourth round when the League Cup returns for another September midweek.

The congested nature of the season will see some PL sides play three matches in as many weeks, though the European qualifying teams are just entering the fray this week.

[ LIVE: Follow League Cup scores ]

That includes Europa League sides Arsenal and Leicester City, who will stage the lone all-PL scrap of the round come Wednesday at the King Power Stadium.

Tuesday was going to see Tottenham Hotspur visit a club sponsored by Spurs striker Harry Kane, but Leyton Orient is in the news after positive COVID-19 tests have threatened to forfeit Spurs into the next round.

VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Manchester United will hope to snap out of its season-opening funk when it begins its tourney Tuesday at Luton Town, while Chelsea hosts Barnsley on Wednesday.

Liverpool is off to Lincoln City on Thursday, kicking off its League Cup at the same time Manchester City welcomes Bournemouth.

Because of the aforementioned congested September in the tournament, the fourth round draw has already been held and those fixtures are at bottom of the page.


League Cup third round draw

All times ET

Tuesday
Leyton Orient v Tottenham Hotspur — 1 pm ET
West Brom v Brentford — 2 pm ET
Newport County v Watford — 2pm ET
West Ham United v Hull City — 2:30 pm ET
Luton Town v Manchester United — 3:15 pm ET

Wednesday
Preston North End v Brighton — 2 pm
Millwall v Burnley — 2 pm
Fulham v Sheffield Wednesday — 2 pm
Stoke City v Gillingham — 2 pm
Chelsea v Barnsley — 2:45 pm
Leicester City v Arsenal — 2:45 pm
Fleetwood Town v Everton — 2:45 pm
Morecambe v Newcastle United — 2:45 pm

Thursday
Bristol City v Aston Villa — 2 pm
Lincoln City v Liverpool — 2:45 pm
Manchester City v Bournemouth — 2:45 pm


League Cup fourth round draw

Lincoln City/Liverpool v Leicester City/Arsenal
Millwall/Burnley v Manchester City/Bournemouth
West Brom/Brentford v Fulham/Sheffield Wednesday
Fleetwood Town/Everton v West Ham United/Hull City
Bristol City/Aston Villa v Stoke City/Gillingham
Leyton Orient/Tottenham v Chelsea/Barnsley
Newport County/Watford v Morecambe/Newcastle United
Preston North End/Brighton v Luton Town/Manchester United


How to watch League Cup third round streams and start time

Kickoff: Tuesday through Thursday
Online: Select games on ESPN+
Updates: Follow League Cup scores via NBCSports.com

Aston Villa edge past 10-man Sheffield United

Leave a comment

Aston Villa – Sheffield United: The Blades battled hard after going down to 10 men just 12 minutes in, but Villa secured the win thanks to a header from Ezri Konsa.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ] 

Dean Smith’s side huffed and puffed but Sheffield United will be ruing their luck as John Lundstram saw his penalty kick saved by Villa’s debutant goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez in the first half.

The Blades have now lost their opening two games of the season without scoring, while Villa have one win from one game.


3 things we learned: Aston Villa – Sheffield United

1. Debutants impress for Villa: Martinez saved a penalty kick on his debut. Matty Cash was solid at right back and whipped in some lovely crosses. Ollie Watkins forced the red card which swung the game in Villa’s favor and came close to a debut goal. Before this game Dean Smith said he was focused on bringing in quality over quantity. It looks like he’s done that. With Bertrand Traore watching on from the stands, he gives them another attacking option too and with Grealish signed up to a new deal, perhaps Villa could steer themselves well clear of relegation trouble this season.

2. Blades blunt: Sheffield United played really well. They battled hard after going down to 10 men and kept playing the same way, with center backs popping up in attack and every single player ran themselves into the ground. Chris Wilder can’t complain with this display. That said, the Blades have now lost six games in a row in all competitions if you stretch that run back to last season and they seem to have just lost that cutting edge which propelled them towards the top six for most of last season. After two defeats from two to start this PL season, it doesn’t get any easier for the Blades. They have Leeds, Arsenal, Fulham, Liverpool, Man City and Chelsea in their next six games. Sheffield United have made a habit of proving people wrong since they returned to the top-flight but regaining momentum will be tough.

3. Solid defense the way forward for Villa: Mings and Konsa combined for the goal but it was their work at the other end of the pitch which has impressed more. At the end of last season Villa looked much better at the back and that is what saved them from relegation. Konsa and Mings at center back and Cash and Targett at full back is solid and with Martinez behind them, they now have a reliable goalkeeper to back them up. Defense is key for Villa, because with Grealish, Watkins, Trezeguet and McGinn going forward, they have always looked like they can create and score goals.

Man of the Match: John McGinn – Worked so hard in midfield and did all he could to help Villa get on the front foot.


Aston Villa put Sheffield United under pressure early on as the hosts whipped in plenty of crosses from wide areas. Grealish was a threat as Villa’s new boys settled into their Premier League debuts pretty well and they received a massive boost as John Egan was sent off just 12 minutes in.

The Sheffield United skipper pulled back Ollie Watkins after one long ball over the top and was adjudged to have denied a goalscoring opportunity, as VAR checked the decision but Egan was off and the Blades had to play close to 80 minutes down a man.

Despite having the man advantage Villa struggled to carve out any clear-cut chances in the first half and Sheffield United instead came the closest to opening the scoring.

Ollie Burke did brilliantly to run at goal and pass for Chris Basham, who was taken down by Matt Targett and a penalty was given. However, debutant Emiliano Martinez saved John Lundstram’s penalty kick superbly to keep the score level.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

In the second half Watkins was off target with a header as Villa dominated possession but the Blades remained resolute and a threat on the counter.

Just as Villa looked to be running out of ideas, they took the lead. Tyrone Mings flicked the ball on and Konsa finished with a header as he popped up with yet another important goal.

Watkins curled just over late on, and Grealish had a shot deflected over, as Villa pushed to seal the win but they didn’t need a second as they started off the campaign with three points on the board.

Wolves – Man City: How to watch, team news, prediction, odds

Wolves - Man City
Photo by Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Wolves – Man City: Pep Guardiola and Manchester City hope to find their feet quickly as they kickstart their Premier League campaign with a visit to Wolves at the Molineux Stadium (Watch live at 3:15 pm ET Monday, online via Peacock).

Wolves are coming for a third-straight win in all competitions after beating Sheffield United last weekend in their Premier League opener before beating Stoke City at midweek in the League Cup.

WOLVES – MAN CITY STREAM LIVE

City is ready for its first competitive match since losing 3-1 to Lyon in the UCL quarterfinal.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]  

Here is everything you need to know ahead of Wolves – Man City this Saturday with team news, odds, stream link and more.


Team news: Wolves – Man City (INJURY REPORT)

For Wolves, Jonny Otto remains out with a knee injury. The club signed Ki-Jana Hoever from Liverpool after selling Diogo Jota to the Anfield set this week. New signing Marcal starts on the left, with Adama Traore as a right wing-back.

Sergio Aguero is out for a while still, as Guardiola revealed that the Argentine is not back training yet after a summer knee injury cost him the final stage of the Champions League.

Ilkay Gundogan is missing after testing positive for COVID-19. Aymeric Laporte is not yet ready after a positive COVID-19 test, but Riyad Mahrez is back and on the bench. Bernardo Silva and Oleksandar Zinchenko are out with small injuries.


What they’re saying

Nuno Espirito Santo on Diogo Jota being sold to Liverpool: “Jota is a player who has been with us for three seasons with such high performances.We’re not a stepping stone. Players that join us really want to play and progress with us, not looking for the next move. That is definitely not our idea, definitely not.”

Guardiola is ready for the new season: “The feeling is good as always. I see the team as always in an incredible mood. It’s a joy to work with them. We have good expectations to play good football and get the results this club deserves.”


Odds and ends (full odds provided by our partner, PointsBet)

Even playing a first competitive match in ages against a Wolves team which has played twice in the last week, Man City pulls -200 odds to win. Wolves are +525 to win and +340 to draw.

PointsBet is our Official Sports Betting Partner and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on PointsBet for the first time after clicking our links


Wolves – Man City prediction

This should be a treat but perhaps absence is making us see more cracks in City’s foundation than exist in reality. City won its last five PL matches of last season by a combined 21-1 score line. Wolves are very good and have done well versus City but we’ll project 2-1 for the visitors.


How to watch Wolves – Man City stream and start time

Kickoff: 3:15 pm ET Monday
Online: Stream via Peacock

Arsenal sign goalkeeper Runarsson

Runarsson to Arsenal
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Runarsson to Arsenal is complete.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA

Icelandic international goalkeeper Alex Runarsson has finally sealed his move to the Gunners, as the 25-year-old has joined Arsenal from Ligue 1 side Dijon.

Let’s hope he cuts the mustard for the north London club… (sorry, I just couldn’t help myself.

Runarsson arrives to provide competition for Bernd Leno following the departure of Emiliano Martinez to Aston Villa.

Speaking about his arrival at the Emirates Stadium, Runarsson wants to push for as many minutes as possible as Arsenal will be in Premier League, League Cup, Europa League and FA Cup action this season.

“I’m just extremely happy, extremely proud, it is a big day for me and my family. I can’t wait to get started!” Runarsson said. “It is one of the biggest clubs in the world – they’ve won the Premier League 13 times, the FA Cup 14 times, it is a huge club and obviously playing in the Premier League as well, it is a win-win situation. I know it is going to be a lot of hard work, but I am ready to do everything I can to get the most amount of minutes as possible.”

“I would say I’m a modern goalkeeper. It is one of my best attributes that I’m comfortable with my feet, I can play with my right and left foot, I am not afraid to play as a sweeper and I am good one against one. For goalkeepers, because we play a position where if we make a mistake, most of the time it will lead to [a goal] so you need to have a strong mindset. You need to have a mindset where you demand the best so you don’t make those mistakes too often. That’s why you need to work hard, you need to train hard to be able to perform in the matches.”

Being good with your feet is clearly something Arteta wants from his goalkeepers and it is something that Leno can improve on.

Runarsson worked with Arsenal’s current goalkeeping coach, Inaki Cana, when they were both in Denmark at FC Nordsjaelland, so he should settle in very well in England. Arteta is eager for Runarsson to push Leno all the way for the starting spot.

“We want to create healthy competition for places and we look forward to seeing Alex bring further depth to the goalkeeping position,” Arteta said.

This is the perfect back-up goalkeeper situation.

Martinez leaving seemed harsh but after proving himself during ‘Project Restart’ after replacing the injured Leno, then being key in Arsenal winning the FA Cup after so many years on the periphery, it was clear that Martinez would play second fiddle behind Leno this season.

Runarsson will now be the back-up to Leno and the German goalkeeper has been very consistent since arriving at Arsenal in the summer of 2018. That said, many Arsenal fans weren’t sure about him coming straight back in for Martinez and if Runarsson performs well in some of the cup competitions, who knows? Playing out from the back is key to Arteta’s philosophy and Runarsson slots in nicely in that regard.