Backpage roundup: Walcott exit possible, Llorente linked with Arsenal, Mancini acknowledges Arsenal improvement, Wenger backs Wilshere to be better and more

Wenger Admits Walcott Could Be Sold In January

Arsene Wenger has dealt a major warning to contract-rebel Theo Walcott by saying that the England international could be offloaded in the January transfer window if he refuses to sign the extension on offer.

Walcott, whose current contract is set to expire next summer, has repeatedly rejected the £75,000 a week deal that Arsenal have offered to him. As a result, Wenger has stopped picking him in his starting line-up and the Frenchman says that if this contractual impasse isn’t resolved by January, there is a chance that the winger could be sold.

The Daily Mirror have quoted Wenger as saying: “I haven’t picked him, it’s true, and it’s quite a good question. I still hope to sign him and the next two months will be vital because, after that, the longer this situation lasts the more difficult it is. Let’s hope we can find a solution in the next two months but the fact he doesn’t play regularly at the moment is right, but it’s not necessarily linked with his contract situation.

“It will depend on the needs of the team and the club [as to whether Arsenal will sell in January]. We can afford to go to the end [of the contract] if needed. No player is happy when he doesn’t play.”

 

Arteta: Win Over City Can Prove Arsenal’s Title Credentials

Mikel Arteta has said that Arsenal can prove their title credentials by defeating Manchester City on Sunday at Etihad Stadium.

The Gunners have started the 2012-13 campaign in fine form and are unbeaten after the first five matches. Moreover, they have conceded just two goals in those outings, which highlights the significantly improved defensive aspect of their game.

While talks of a title charge are premature at this stage, Arteta believes that if his team manages to beat the Premiership champions on their own turf, then it would serve as a major statement of their intent.

In an interview with Arsenal.com, the Spaniard said: “It’s still too early, whatever happens on Sunday, and I don’t think it’s going to change anything. But if you get points there, and you win then you make a bit of a statement. It’s a huge test for us. We’ve been playing well. We played really good when we went to Liverpool – that’s a tough place to get three points but we did it.

“This is another test. Man City haven’t lost at home for a while. We know it’s going to be difficult but I’m sure they will be thinking the same thing. A win grows the confidence of the team and everyone around it who believes we are as good as anyone in this league. These are good places to show that.”

 

Arsenal Linked With January Move for Llorente

Athletic Bilbao star Fernando Llorente is a January transfer target for Arsenal, according to the latest reports emerging from the Spanish press.

The 27-year-old striker has rejected his hometown club’s offers for a new contract and will be a free agent next summer if the situation doesn’t change. Hence, he could be available at a knockdown price in the winter transfer window and the Gunners could swoop for him.

However, they could face competition from Juventus and specially Manchester City, who could offload one of Mario Balotelli and Eden Dzeko in January, and fill the gap with Llorente.

 

Arsenal Are Title Contenders – Mancini

Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini has said that despite the loss of Robin van Persie and Alexandre Song, the current Arsenal side is stronger than last season and are genuine contenders for the Premiership title.

The Italian tactician believes that the loss of key players hasn’t caused any significant damage to the Gunners and has warned his own players not to underestimate the Londoners on Sunday at Eithad Stadium.

In a recent word with the press, Mancini said: “Arsenal can compete for the title this season. They are better than last season, even if they lost some good players. Maybe, because of that, there is less pressure on them this season. They lost Van Persie and Song, but the players they have brought in have experience and quality.”

 

Injury Timeout Will Have No Long-Term Effect on Wilshere’s Career – Wenger

Arsene Wenger believes that fit-again midfielder Jack Wilshere will emerge as a better player than before despite spending the last 14 months on the sidelines due to his injury problems.

Such a long time away from the game has given rise to suggestions that the 20-year-old could struggle to fulfil his true potential but the Arsenal boss doesn’t agree with that viewpoint at all. In fact, he has tipped Wilshere to go on and become an even better player than what he was destined to before his injury.

In Friday’s interview with the press, Wenger said: “He will be a better player – if you have this kind of injury at the age of 20, you will take off again and move forward normally. If you have the injury after the age of 25, it is different. At his age it is no problem.

“Eduardo has limitation of his ankle. Jack has no limitation of his ankle, it was just a fracture. Eduardo had a rupture of his ligaments and in construction they had to tie his ankle up. Once you lose flexibility of your ankle you are, of course, not the same player. That is not the case for Jack.

“He will be an international player and he will have to cope. He is a very strong guy. He had a stress fracture and that happens many times to young players. Between the ages of 18 to 20, 60 per cent of them have stress fractures.”

 

Podolski Wanted to Play Alongside RVP

Lukas Podolski has admitted that he would have liked to play alongside Robin van Persie at Arsenal.

The in-form German striker is already loving life at Arsenal but he says that it would have been even better for him if van Persie hadn’t left for Manchester United soon after his arrival.

For me it was better if he had stayed. He is a world-class player and I hoped that he stayed and we played together but he made a decision and it is the team of Arsenal that is important,” The Daily Mirror have quoted Podolski as saying.