Wenger says Arsenal blowout “tough but explainable”

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Hey Arsene Wenger, how was the locker room after Man City clattered into Arsenal to the tune of a second 3-0 in two days?

“Transparency is good, but too much is not good.”

[ MORE: Match recap | City’s 3 goals ]

Arsenal fans would like to see clear through the exterior of club HQ in order to ascertain its board’s plans for its managerial position.

Wenger has a contract through the 2018-19 season, but the Gunners have dropped 10 points back of the Top Four. No, not 10 points back of first, but fourth.

Given the club’s desperation to stay in the Top Four picture after an awful performance Sunday at Wembley, how do you explain the flat start against City (Scoreless into the 15th minute, Arsenal was down 3-3 by the end of the 33rd)?

“It was tough but that’s explainable by the fact of what happened on Sunday and the consequences of the hype about our performance. It hits you. The players put in a huge effort today but unfortunately we had some weak defending.”

It should be noted that Wenger also noted that Manchester City is “the best team in the country.”

Wenger is not worried about his club, he says, though it’s difficult to follow his faith given the last month or so at the Emirates.

Arsenal has lost four of six in the Premier League, including the North London Derby and losses to Bournemouth and Swansea in addition to Thursday’s blowout. Go back one more week, and see the Gunners booted from the FA Cup by Nottingham Forest.

But, he says, it can be better.

“I’m confident we can improve because we’ve done it before and I have confidence in the quality of the players.”

Improve? Sure. Save the season? Better hope AC Milan forgets its form in the next round of the Europa League.

Report: Newcastle activates $12m release clause of ex-Arsenal youth

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Reports out of Turkey say Newcastle United have finally struck the transfer market for a new No. 10.

[ MORE: West Ham adds Diop ]

Aksam reports that Rafa Benitez got the Magpies hierarchy to activate a near $12 million release clause for Besiktas midfielder Oguzhan Ozyakup.

The 25-year-old was part of Arsenal’s youth set-up until 2012, making two League Cup appearances in 2011-12 before moving to Besiktas.

Dutch-born Ozyakup is 35-times capped with a goal for Turkey, twice captaining the Crescent-Stars.

Ozyakup lost playing time to Talisca this season, and registered just four assists in 24 appearances. In 219 appearances for Besiktas, he’s posted 27 goals with 50 assists.

Like the move for Newcastle?

Lukaku pens inspiring post on hard-scrabble upbringing

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Manchester United and Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku has an inspiring and emotional post in The Players’ Tribune which tugs at the heart strings and explains his competitive fire.

[ MORE: West Ham adds Diop ]

Lukaku talks about how his family’s poverty caused him to become a fierce competitor in the hopes of meeting his dreams head-on and providing for his family.

The Belgian, 25, scored twice in his side’s 3-0 World Cup-opening win over Panama earlier this week, and is now far removed from his youth, but he tells his story as if it lives fresh in his mind.

From The Players’ Tribune:

There were even times when my mum had to “borrow” bread from the bakery down the street. The bakers knew me and my little brother, so they’d let her take a loaf of bread on Monday and pay them back on Friday.

Lukaku also talks about racism in football, his debut for Anderlecht, and that aforementioned competitive drive. It’s 100 percent worth the read.

West Ham signs club record center back from Toulouse

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West Ham has reportedly set a club record with its latest signing under new manager Manuel Pellegrini.

Issa Diop is the player, the 21-year-old Toulouse captain and center back costing the Irons around $29 million.

[ MORE: Arsenal signs Leno ]

Diop scored three goals with an assist and eight yellow cards in 31 Ligue 1 matches this season, giving the young defender 95 apps, six goals, three assists, and 23 yellows since debuting with the senior team at 18.

Capped by France at every level below the senior team, Diop’s 2.2 interceptions per game ranked sixth in Ligue 1.

Toulose finished 18th in Ligue 1, but won its promotion/relegation playoff to stay in the French top flight.

From WHUFC.com:

“I am very happy to sign for such a historic, English club, and I hope to show my best here. I am a very ambitious player and West Ham is a very ambitious club, as we’ve seen with the appointment of the new coach. I hope to help the team win lots of games and make the fans happy.”

Layla’s Occasionally Unbiased Football Show: Episode 3

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In the third episode of Layla’s Occasionally Unbiased Football Show, England pulls out a massive win while VAR finds its way into the World Cup spotlight.

[ LIVE: World Cup scores ] 

There will be plenty more to come over the next few weeks, with the show coming via the Men In Blazers.

Click play on the video above to watch the first episode in full.