Backpage roundup: Koscielny hates Suarez, loves Drogba, Mannone going nowhere, Cazorla copies Iniesta, Jenkinson opts for England and more

Koscielny Hates ‘Cheating’ Suarez But Loves Drogba

Laurent Koscielny says that he hates playing against Liverpool forward Luis Suarez and has branded the controversial Uruguayan a ‘cheat.’

Suarez has found himself in the centre of multiple controversies since arriving in English football last year, with the most recent one arising due to his alleged tendency to dive for penalties. That attracted criticism from Stoke City boss Tony Pulis and FIFA vice-president Jim Boyce, and now the Arsenal centre-half has also expressed his condemnation for Suarez’s playing style.

In an interview with French magazine L’Equipe, Koscielny said: “Who is the forward I hate to face? Suarez. Last season, I didn’t feel too well. It was a match at 12.30pm and I don’t like that schedule. He is tiresome to defend against. He cheats. He pulls your shirt, giving small blows. You always want to give him a kick but you have to be careful not to be red carded.

“For example on September 2 against Liverpool, it was the case with Luis Suarez. He is a player who likes to dive as soon as there is contact. During a challenge, we jostled a bit each other and he fell. He started to talk to me in English, to say it was a penalty.”

However, his views changed completely over Chelsea legend Didier Drogba, about whom he said: “He is strong, he is good when he plays with his back to goal, a great header of the ball and good in the gaps. He is the first defender, running everywhere. We saw against Barcelona last season. On his own, he crashed the Barcelona ship.”

 

Mannone Going Nowhere

Vito Mannone has rejected media reports linking him with a move back to Italy and made it clear that he is fully committed to Arsenal and wants to stay at Emirates Stadium for many more years.

It was recently reported in the British press that Serie A side Napoli are interested in replacing their veteran goalkeeper Morgan De Sanctis with Mannone, who has been in fine form for the Gunners so far this season.

However, the 24-year-old gloveman has clarified that there is no truth in such rumours and he sees his long-term future at Arsenal.

In an interview with Arsenal Player, Mannone said: “I want to make it clear, because there have been unfounded rumours, that my contract is not ending in 12 months. I’ve got a few more years and I’m happy to be at Arsenal right now. I’m looking at the present and my future is not in doubt. I want to stay at Arsenal as long as I can, I don’t want to move to any other club.”

 

Cazorla Sees Iniesta as Perfect ‘Role Model’

Santi Cazorla is full of praise of for his international teammate Andres Iniesta and has openly admitted that he tries to copy not only his playing style but also how he carries himself off the pitch.

The Arsenal newcomer sees the Barcelona playmaker as the perfect role model and while he wants to emulate him, he says doing so is a very difficult job.

Ahead of Spain’s World cup qualifier against France, Marca have quoted Cazorla as saying: “Iniesta is the standard against which I measure myself. Playing by his side is something else. He’s a total footballer in every sense. I try to copy the things he does, but it’s very difficult. The problem is that when he does them he makes them look easy, but then you try it and you get all tangled up. Andres is a role model on and off the pitch.”

When asked how he is settling to life in English football, he added: “I’ve adapted to my new team really well. The change hasn’t been as drastic as you might think. The football is quicker and more intense, but I wasn’t shocked by that. Plus I’ve joined a team, Arsenal, whose playing style is very similar to the one at Malaga.”

 

Song Grateful to Wenger

Former Arsenal midfielder Alexandre Song has once again acknowledged the positive influence Arsene Wenger has had on his career and said that he regards the long-serving Gunners boss as his footballing ‘father.’

Song, 25, who now plays for Barcelona, joined Arsenal from French club Bastia in 2005 as a promising teenager but found it difficult to adjust to the territorial and cultural change. However, Wenger’s guidance and faith transformed him into one of the best defensive midfielders in the world and Song is grateful for that.

In a recent interview with Barca magazine, the Cameroonian said: “I am who I am thanks to him [Wenger]. When I came to England, he was a big help to me. I was very young, just 17, not 25 like I am now. Wenger was like a father to me. It was very hard for me at first because I had left my family behind in France, and so he treated me like a son.

“I have a great relationship with Wenger. I want to thank him for believing in me. I want to give him back everything he gave me I’m sure he’s happy to see where I am now and the kind of player I have become. He always said ‘do you remember your first touches of the ball when you came to Arsenal? They’re not the same as they are now’. And I’d answer: ‘you’re right. They’re certainly not the same as they are now.‘”

 

Jenkinson Opts to Play for England

Roy Hodgson has successfully convinced Carl Jenkinson that he should switch his international allegiance to England as he is not far away from receiving a Three Lions call-up.

The Arsenal right-back has been representing Finland at under-19 and under-21 level since 2010 but the meteoric rise of his career has made him a valuable commodity and Hodgson wants to select him for next month’s friendly against Sweden.

The England boss told the press: “He [Jenkinson] didn’t take a lot of convincing. We had a problem with Kyle Walker and wanted a full complement in our training session, so we called Carl up. He was in my thoughts anyway. I invited him to train with us knowing full well he couldn’t take part in this game, but it gave me the opportunity to sit down and ask him the question.

“I don’t want to trick him to play for England in a few minutes in a game to block him, but he had to make a decision because we’re very interested in him, even if the competition is tougher to get him into the England team rather than the Finland team. He made it very clear he wanted to play for England.”

The Football Association are now expected to ask FIFA to give Jenkinson international clearance so he could be selected in Hodgson’s next squad.

 

Wilshere Will Be Ready For First-Team in Two Weeks – Report

Jack Wilshere is expected to return to Arsenal first-team in their October 30 League Cup clash with Reading, according to a report published by Goal.com.

The 20-year-old Gunner returned to the playing field recently after spending 14 months on the sidelines due to a series of knee and ankle injuries. While he is fully fit right now, coach Arsene Wenger wants him to shed the excess weight he has been carrying and therefore, his return to the club’s first-team will take two more weeks.