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Ranking the candidates to replace Wenger

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Arsene Wenger still has another year to run on his Arsenal contract, but the Frenchman’s 21-year stay with the Gunners appears to be edging towards an end, once again.

[ MORE: Wenger’s bizarre reaction

Following their 3-0 hammering at the hands of Manchester City in the League Cup final on Sunday, The Telegraph are among several outlets who have released a list of managers reportedly lined up to replace Wenger, 68, at the end of this season.

Unless Wenger leads Arsenal to the UEFA Europa League title, which would ensure a return to the Champions League as finishing in the top four of the Premier League now seems increasingly unlikely, his time seems to be up.

Wenger has delivered a trophy or a top four finish in each of his 21 campaigns in charge of Arsenal but with that streak potentially coming to an end, it appears the Arsenal hierarchy are concerned with the dwindling chances of a Premier League title race in the past few season and for the foreseeable future.

Here’s a closer look at the five candidates being mentioned in dispatches.

1. Joachim Low – It feels like Joachim Low’s time as Germany’s manager may be up after the 2018 World Cup, but he does have a contract through 2020. Arsenal should break the bank to get Die Mannschaft’s main man on board and Low’s ability to develop a strong team identity and have a structured plan for a youth system would surely translate well from the national team to club level. Low would be perfect to bring defensive balance to Arsenal, while also keeping their flair intact. Low could also be key in getting the best out of Mesut Ozil after his long-term deal at Arsenal.

2. Patrick Vieria – Not mentioned as being on the shortlist, but the current New York City FC boss should be. An Arsenal legend, the former captain of the “Invincibles” deserves to be in this discussion. His relationship with Arsene Wenger may not be the best and that could be a sticking point as Wenger will likely move upstairs in some capacity after his time managing Arsenal comes to and end. Still, Vieria has done extremely well in Major League Soccer with NYCFC but his relationship with the City Football Group may complicate things.

3. Leonardo Jardim – Monaco’s manager led them to the French title last season and they’re in second in Ligue 1 this season despite selling on Kylian Mbappe, Benjamin Mendy, Tiemoue Bakayoko and others. Wenger’s close links with Monaco in the past may make this attractive as the French connection would continue, with Jardim perhaps being able to bring plenty of Monaco’s stars (Thomas Lemar and Fabinho) with him. Jardim’s teams play attacking, attractive soccer and the Portuguese coach could perhaps reinvigorate the squad rather than totally demolish it. That would be a more frugal option than a complete squad overhaul.

4. Eddie Howe – Seen by many as the long-term appointment Arsenal need, Howe’s Bournemouth side play attractive, flowing soccer and Wenger letting Jack Wilshere go on loan to the Cherries last season showed how highly he rates Howe. Do Arsenal’s board feel the same? Howe has no experience of European action but his feat in taking Bournemouth through the leagues and now establishing themselves as a PL club has been remarkable. May be too big of a job too soon for the 40-year-old.

5. Brendan Rodgers – Stylistically this would make sense but there’s no doubting that Rodgers’ record in the Premier League is a little tainted after his project at Liverpool unraveled so quickly. He’s had plenty of success with young players at Celtic to rebuild his managerial career, but it seems like he may fancy a move back tot he Premier League sooner rather than later. Arsenal may be too big a move for Rodgers who could have to take charge of a mid-sized PL club, overachieve and then get his move back to one of the big boys. Wouldn’t be the worst appointment but not one that would excite Arsenal’s fans.

5. Carlo Ancelotti – Ancelotti’s sublime experience and resume speaks for itself. He’s won trophies wherever he has managed and he’s currently out of job and has been seen back in London recently. Reports say he’s ready and willing to take charge of Arsenal whenever they need him as the former AC Milan, Chelsea, Real Madrid, PSG and Bayern Munich boss would be the type of coach to excite fans. You just get a sense that Ancelotti isn’t quite why Arsenal are looking for as he’s used to going into established teams and working with star players to fulfill their potential. This Arsenal project would be a major rebuild.

6. Mikel Arteta – Another name mentioned on the shortlist, Arteta, 32, only stopped played 18 months ago but he has been part of Pep Guardiola‘s coaching squad ever since. Arteta is a former Arsenal skipper and the Spanish midfielder is highly thought of at the club. Like Howe, could be a case of too big of a job too soon, but then Arsenal gave Wenger a chance back in the mid 1990s when hardly anyone had heard of him.

Dream hire: Diego Simeone – The fact that he’s not mentioned on the shortlist proves that this is very much a pie in the sky appointment. What Simeone has created at Atletico, while also balancing the books impressively, is totally different stylistically to what Wenger has created over two decades a Arsenal. Simeone’s arrival would spark a wholesale clear out of the playing squad

Arsenal sign defender Mari on loan from Flamengo

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Amid an ongoing and injury crisis at center back, Arsenal have signed defender Pablo Mari on loan from Brazilian club Flamengo until the end of the season.

[ MORE: Spurs complete Bergwijn transfer from PSV ]

Th 26-year-old Spaniard spent three seasons on the books at Manchester City, where he never made a first-team appearance and instead was sent out on loan three times, before moving to Flamengo last summer. Flamengo won both the Brazilian league title and the Copa Libertadores during his six months at the club.

Mari’s loan agreement has an option to make the move permanent this summer.

[ MORE: Woodward’s house attacked by Man United fans with flares ]

Arsenal have been without defenders Calum Chambers, Sead Kolasinac and Kieran Tierney, for quite some time due to injuries. Shkodran Mustafi went down with an ankle injury during Monday’s FA Cup victory over Bournemouth and will miss some time as well.

Spurs complete Bergwijn transfer from PSV

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After 18 months without signing a single player, Tottenham Hotspur sure are making up for lost time.

[ MORE: Woodward’s house attacked by Man United fans with flares ]

The club announced on Wednesday that 22-year-old Dutch winger Steven Bergwijn has been signed from PSV Eindhoven, marking Tottenham’s second signing of the January transfer window. Midfielder Gedson Fernandes arrived from Benfica earlier this month.

Bergwijn is a dynamic wide attacking player who put together the best season of his younger career last term (14 goals in 33 league appearances) and followed it up with another solid six months at PSV (5 goals in 16) before Spurs came calling. He arrives a day after Christian Eriksen officially departed Spurs for Inter Milan, and Bergwijn will wear the no. 23 shirt, which stood vacant for less the 24 hours in Eriksen’s wake.

The fee for Bergwijn has been reported at $32 million, making him a relatively low-risk signing in the world of today’s transfers, though his mere presence signals a significant departure from the club’s standard operating practices of the past.

[ MORE: Report: Chelsea may ask Abraham to play through injury

Do Spurs fans have Jose Mourinho to thank for chairman Daniel Levy’s newfound free-spending ways? Not even Harry Redknapp could convince Spurs’ frugal owner to spend in this manner, let alone the likes of Mauricio Pochettino or an Andre Villas-Boas. While requesting and demanding — and getting — big-money signings has been a common theme of Mourinho’s management career, Spurs didn’t seem like a place he’d simply continue to operate in that way.

Rather than learn a new trick himself, it would appear Mourinho taught Levy one instead.

USWNT opens Olympic qualifying with win over Haiti

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The USWNT was rusty, that much was clear. Vlatko Andonovski still made sure they took care of business.

Four different goalscorers delivered a 4-0 victory over Haiti to begin CONCACAF Olympic qualification, putting the United States in front of Group A early. Lynn Williams picked up a goal and assist, proving useful on an otherwise sputtery evening for Vlatko Andonovski’s attack.

Just 78 seconds into the game, Williams charged down the right flank and crossed to Christen Press at the far post for the opening goal. Williams’ assist came without the use of her left shoe which she lost while holding off a defender for the bobbling ball.

Despite the early lead, the United States seemed somewhat sluggish as Haiti built themselves into the match. There were few chances on net after the opening goal through the half-hour mark.

Haiti nearly caught the U.S. napping on a corner as the ball found the back of the net on 20 minutes, but the goal was somehow ruled out. It appeared to be for offside, but since it’s impossible to be offside from a corner, there must have been another reason for the official ruling. Nonetheless, it was a clear sign for the USWNT that they needed to pick up the level of play.

The U.S. continued to struggle after halftime, creating very little in front of net. There was a half-chance for Lloyd near the penalty spot but a quality tackle by Kethna Louis put that to bed. Then finally they put the game to bed on a corner, not coincidentally coming just five minutes after Megan Rapinoe entered the fray. Rapinoe delivered a corner to the doorstep where Williams headed in well under pressure, moving her upper body away from goal against the motion of her lower body to reach the delivery.

Another Andonovski substitute paid dividends however as Lindsey Horan scored, again coming off a corner. They played it short and Horan headed from a significant distance out, the ball squirting past the goalkeeper Kerly Theus and Louis who tried to clear off the line. It was clear that Haiti had begun to tire and the USWNT was taking advantage. Up front, Carli Lloyd had a poor game, unable to get involved in attacking play, but she found the scoresheet in stoppage time, bagging a header off a Rapinoe cross in the 93rd minute to finish out the scoring.

Emily Sonnett replaced Kelley O’Hara with 10 minutes to go for Andonovski’s final change, and the USWNT saw the rest of the match out. They have two matches remaining before the knockout stage, set to take on Panama on Friday before the group stage finale against Costa Rica on February 3. The top two teams in the group reach the knockout phase with the semifinals to begin on February 7.

Report: Chelsea may ask Abraham to play through injury

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Chelsea has so far come up empty in its search for a striker, so desperate times may call for desperate measures.

Tammy Abraham, who has been a revelation this season with 13 Premier League goals, went down with an ankle injury late in the 2-2 draw with Arsenal last weekend. The club has tried desperately to find a striker before the Friday transfer window closes, and while the Blues have been linked with Edinson Cavani and Krzysztof Piatek they so far have not had any success in finding a replacement.

Therefore, according to Matt Law of The Telegraph, Chelsea may ask Abraham to play through his injury against Leicester City this weekend. The match is a vital one as Chelsea, sitting fourth in the Premier League table, looks to put separation between themselves and Manchester United while also chasing the third-placed Foxes who sit eight points clear.

The thinking appears to be that Chelsea has a 16-day break between the Leicester City match and their subsequent game against Manchester United in mid-February thanks to the Premier League’s two-week break at the start of the month.

Earlier this month, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admitted regret for not resting a banged up Marcus Rashford, choosing instead to bring him off the bench in an FA Cup match against Wolves. Reports after the match confirmed that Rashford was carrying a single stress fracture in his back at the time of the appearance, and he was hauled off 16 minutes later with scans after the match showing his appearance against Wolves worsened the injury. He now he faces two to three months on the sidelines.

Abraham has also slowed of late after being so heavily used this season. The 22-year-old has logged a massive 2,359 minutes across all competitions this season, including 1,843 out of a possible 2,160 in Premier League play. Abraham scored his first 11 Premier League goals in his first 14 matches of the season, but has just three goals in the last 10 games.

Chelsea has Michy Batshuayi as a natural replacement for Abraham up top, but Frank Lampard has used him as solely a bench option the entirety of this season. Batshuayi has made 14 Premier League appearances this season, but has logged just 138 minutes across those matches. When used as a starter in cup action, Batshuayi has four goals in four domestic cup starts. Olivier Giroud is also on the roster, having made just five Premier League appearances this season.