Backpage roundup: Wenger better than Guardiola, Cazorla eyes more improvement, Ox dreams of England century, Akpom’s pro deal and more

Wenger Better than Guardiola – Hleb

Former Arsenal midfielder Aliaksandr Hleb regards Arsene Wenger as a better coach than Pep Guardiola and says that the former taught him more than the latter.

The 31-year-old Belarusian, who now plays for his hometown club Bate Borisov, spent several years under both Wenger and Guardiola earlier in his career. While the Spanish tactician is regarded by many as the best coach in the world these days, Hleb says that the success he achieved at Barca was largely down to the outstanding group of players available at his disposal. He believes that the real geniuses of football management are coached like Wenger, Alex Ferguson and Jose Mourinho.

In an interview with Esports en Xarxa, Hleb said: “I learned more from Wenger than Guardiola, but Pep is a good coach. Guardiola is not the best coach in the world because he coached the best team in the world, with the best players, and that’s why he won. It’s hard not to win with a team like that and [Tito] Vilanova will have the greatest success. The best coaches in the world are [Jose] Mourinho, [Sir Alex] Ferguson and [Arsene] Wenger.”

 

English Games Has Evolved – Wenger

Arsene Wenger believes that the English game has evolved significantly since his appointment as Arsenal manager 16 years ago.

The French tactician has revealed that when he first came to the Premier League, coaches used to stick to their rigid strategies and formations but are now more open to experimentation.

Speaking in an interview with Arsenal Magazine, Wenger said: “When I arrived in England I would say there was one rigid formation, 4-4-2. Today teams are more versatile, they can go to three defenders, five defenders, they can go to 4-4-1, 4-3-3, 4-5-1, all kinds of variants. I think the formations teams use are much more flexible than 15 years ago, more adaptable.

“So yes, evolution has happened, aided by a lot of European games and the influence of foreign players. You can call it evolution, but to reduce it to an overall point you would say the midfield has been strengthened and attack has been weakened.”

 

Cazorla Wants ‘to Keep Developing’

Santi Cazorla has said that he is enjoying the impressive start to his Arsenal career but doesn’t want to rest on his laurels and is looking to raise his game even higher.

The in-form Spaniard has quickly established himself as a key part of Arsenal’s offense after joining them from former club Malaga in the summer. But instead of being content with his current level, he is targeting more improvement in the future.

Cazorla, who is currently on international duty with Spain, told the press: “I have adapted well and my position within the Arsenal team gives me freedom. Maybe in the few months I have been there people have been talking a lot more about me. I feel important at Arsenal and I want to keep developing. I hope to continue to grow and improve in the future.”

 

Akpom Pens Pro Contract

Highly-rated Arsenal youngster Chuba Akpom has signed his first professional contract with the club.

The 17-year-old striker, who is a regular fixture of Terry Burton’s Arsenal under-21 side, was offered the pro deal as soon as he got eligible for it.

Now that his long-term club future has been sorted out, Akpom wants to focus on his development and try to break into Arsene Wenger’s senior side.

 

Ox Wants England Century

Arsenal starlet Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has set himself a target of achieving 100 international caps for England.

The 19-year-old winger, who made his senior England debut earlier this year, takes pride in playing for his country and wants to keep doing that for many years to come.

“I want to get as many caps as I can for England, score as many goals as I can, win as many things as I can with England and Arsenal. Everyone would like to get to 100 caps, but that’s a massive target. If I can get close to that I will be absolutely delighted,” Oxlade-Chamberlain said before adding: “I guess I could say 100 and I would be more than satisfied. I’ve got to do well on and off the pitch to get there, though.”

 

Giroud Admits He Isn’t Settled at Arsenal Yet

Olivier Giroud has admitted that he still hasn’t fully acclimatised to life in London but is trying his best to overcome the language and cultural barriers.

The French striker joined Arsenal in the summer from Montpellier and while his struggles on the field are known to everyone, he says things aren’t perfect off it either.

France Football have quoted Giroud as saying: “I could speak basic English (before) but not enough to really talk with my team-mates, understand the coach’s talks and adapt to my new country. You have to adapt. You have to learn habits and customs of the country when you arrive. The easiest thing would be to remain with your fellow countrymen, and I can already see that here. I am not improving as quickly as I should, even if I’m speaking with English and foreign players.

“The Frenchmen tend to stay together when we eat and in the changing room. It is logical and only human. But I try to talk with others in English, even with the media. It is not easy to come to a new country. You are far away from your family. You have to be mentally strong. I think I am mature enough for England. It is the perfect moment now – I am 26 years old. I could not wait too much longer.”

 

Napoli Want Mannone

Vito Mannone is a transfer target for Serie A club Napoli, according to the latest round of speculation emerging from Italy. (Goal.com)

The Azzurri’s current number one goalkeeper Morgan De Santis is in the twilight of his career and so they want the Arsenal custodian to become his successor. They are willing to offer £4 million for Mannone, who was available for transfer at cheap in the summer but could be off the market now due to his impressive start to the new season.

When the 24-year-old gloveman was asked to comment on his future, he simply said: “At the moment I am really happy and just focusing on training and playing well. I am trying to be the No.1 for this club and win trophies. That is my only concern and I would like to make that clear.”

However, in a separate interview with Corriere della Sera, the Italian admitted that he would want to return back home at some point in his career and also revealed that playing for AC Milan is his dream.

Mannone said: “Now my goal is to take the starting spot. I want to be Arsenal’s No.1. In the future I’d return to Italy and play in Serie A, perhaps with AC Milan, my favourite team.”

Inter Milan are also rumoured to be interested in recruiting him.