Backpage Roundup: Jenkinson on Three Lions Radar, Zaha to Replace Walcott, Guardiola ‘Perfect’ for Arsenal, Wenger Likens Cazorla to Hoddle and More

Jenkinson on Three Lions Radar

England coach and Man United legend Gary Neville has hinted that Arsenal’s young defender Carl Jenkinson is very close to earning a Three Lions call-up.

The 20-year-old right-back has impressed for Arsenal this season and even though he has been representing Finland at under-21 level, Neville says that a senior England call-up is not too far for him.

In an interview with talkSPORT, Neville said: “Carl Jenkinson has improved immeasurably over the last 12 months. It was very difficult for him at the start of his Arsenal career last year because of the changes in the defence, there was never a settled defence for him to perform in.

“But you look at the way he’s performing now and he’s been magnificent for Arsenal in the early stages of the season. England have good options at right-back with Glen Johnson and Kyle Walker, and others as well, but he’s definitely someone who is being watched continuously; he’s definitely catching the eye.”

 

Gunners Target Zaha as Walcott’s Replacement

Crystal Palace’s in-demand winger Wilfried Zaha has been linked with a move to Arsenal, who are apparently preparing for life without Theo Walcott. (The Daily Mail)

In addition to the ‘Walcott’s replacement’ angle, the paper has also pointed at Pat Rice’s presence at the Eagles’ recent league meeting with Burnley to prove their point.

The publication also claims that the Gunners have scouted the £12million-rated Zaha on multiple occasions and are showing serious interest in the wunderkind.

 

Guardiola ‘Would Be Perfect for Arsenal’ – Marquez

New York Red Bulls centre-half Rafael Marquez feels that Pep Guardiola is the perfect candidate to take over Arsenal’s reigns from Arsene Wenger when the Frenchman decides to relinquish the position.

While the unattached Guardiola has been linked with moves to clubs such as Manchester United and Chelsea in the past, Marquez, who spent two seasons playing under the former Barcelona boss, believes that the coveted manager would be better suited to Arsenal.

In an interview with Cadena SER, Marquez said: “Guardiola will soon return to the game. I think he’ll go to England. He’d be perfect for Arsenal.”

 

Hill-Wood’s Warning for Walcott

Peter Hill-Wood has reiterated that Arsenal will stick to their stringent wage structure and won’t bow down to the exorbitant financial demands of contract rebel Theo Walcott.

The England international is in the final year of his contract with the Gunners, and while coach Arsene Wenger still believes that the winger would end up signing an extension, the Arsenal chairman has made it clear that he would not break the bank to achieve the purpose.

In a recent interview with The Daily Star, Hill-Wood said: “We have got our general overall wage structure and we are not prepared to break it for anybody. We have made an offer which he didn’t think was acceptable and that is the end of it. We think it is a very reasonable offer.

“For the moment his people are still talking to us and we hope it will be resolved. But don’t ask me when, because I haven’t a clue. I hope that he will eventually come round and sign. It will be a pity if he does not, but the whole issue of pay for footballers has got totally out of hand and they don’t get terribly well advised a lot of the time.”

 

Cazorla Reminds Wenger of Hoddle

Arsene Wenger believes that it is too early to compare Santi Cazorla with former Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas, although he did say that his new summer signing’s ambidexterity reminds him of Spurs legend Glenn Hoddle.

About Cazorla’s comparisons with his compatriot Fabregas, Wenger said: “It is too early to say Cazorla can have the same impact as Cesc Fabregas. Cesc played for five years in the Premier League. But when Cazorla plays he makes everyone around him play better.”

The 27-year-old Arsenal playmaker scored a stunning left-footed strike over the weekend against West Ham even though he naturally favours his right foot. About his ability to use both the feet with equal efficiency, Wenger added: “Glenn Hoddle was like that — you could not say if he was left or right footed. And Santi Cazorla is similar on that front — I don’t remember anyone else I have worked with who was two-footed as much as those two.

“Santi is right footed but when you watch him play you don’t know. It shows how important that is in the modern midfield. Right or left foot was always important, but we forget about it sometimes. I’m surprised there are not more.”

 

Wenger Feels Walcott Would Stay

Arsene Wenger feels that Theo Walcott wants to stay at Arsenal despite his contractual issues with the club.

The 23-year-old winger’s current deal is set to expire next summer, and talks between him and the club regarding an extension have so far failed to yield any result but Wenger still believes that the situation could be resolved.

When asked if he still sees Walcott signing an extension with Arsenal, he said: “I think so. But I cannot tell you what he tells me. We are always in touch. He has character. He keeps focused and he wants to show he is 100 per cent professional and I have a big respect for that attitude.”

In addition to his alleged wage demands of £100,000, one other thing that Walcott wants is to be given a more central attacking role. While Wenger had seemed more receptive to this idea in previous interviews, he sounded slightly rigid in this one.

Theo’s game is based on movement off the ball, timing and finishing. He can play wide, he can play centre. Basically it is not so important. He has improved a lot in his finishing. Even if he plays wide or centre he gets in positions where he can score,” the Arsenal boss added.

 

Mertesacker Emphasizes Significance of Defence

Per Mertesacker believes that Arsenal’s defensive performances could be the key in mounting a serious title challenge this season.

Apart from some individual errors in the 2-1 defeat to Chelsea, the Gunners have looked uncharacteristically composed at the back this season, and the German centre-half is now eyeing some consistency to go with it.

Talking about the club’s defence, Mertesacker said: “It can be the difference, it is crucial for us that the defence is winning more than just games. We just try to keep that in our mind the whole year. We have not conceded a lot of goals during games this year, most have been from set pieces. We just need to keep concentrating on our defensive level.”