Backpage roundup: Frimpong not fully fit, Gallas disagrees with Wenger, Arsenal losing N’Koulou battle, Szczesny set to return and more

Frimpong Still Not Fully Fit

Emmanuel Frimpong feels that his fitness is not at a level yet where he can play regular football for Arsenal’s senior side and he needs a few more under-21 matches to get back in proper shape.

The 20-year-old midfielder has recovered from a serious cruciate ligaments injury that he suffered earlier this year while on loan at Wolverhampton Wanderers. He made his first-team return for Arsenal last month during their Capital One Cup defeat of Coventry City but he says that he still hasn’t reached his optimum fitness level.

In an interview with Arsenal Player, Frimping said: “I still don’t believe I am 100 per cent right – obviously I am playing but I don’t think I am ready for the first team yet. I still need two more 90-minute games [for the Under 21s], then I will be fine. It is difficult when you play for the Under 21s, because even though you’re playing for points it is still not as competitive as a first-team game. The pressure is totally different.

“But coming back from a nine-month injury, I just have to make sure that when I come back into the team, I am right and ready. I don’t want to push myself if I am not ready. Once you keep playing you build up your confidence and everything falls back into place. But I am sure that when the time is right and I am called upon, I will do a good job for the team.”

 

Gallas Doesn’t Agree With Wenger Over Domestic Cups

Former Arsenal captain William Gallas, who now plays for rivals Tottenham Hotspur, has said that he disagrees with coach Arsene Wenger’s views regarding the Capital One Cup.

The Arsenal manager told the club’s agitated shareholders last week that he prioritises Champions League qualification over domestic cups, saying that being a part of Europe’s elite competition is what helps the most in attracting quality players.

Gallas, however, doesn’t agree with his former mentor’s belief, and he claims that winning silverware means more to players than finishing in the Champions League spots on the league table.

The Spurs centre-half said: “For me, a trophy is something you lift at the end of the season and I know it’s a fantastic feeling. It doesn’t happen many times through your career, so for me to finish second or fourth isn’t the same as finishing top, as champions. It’s completely different.

“You feel different because you are the best team – the best player. You are so happy to lift a trophy – it’s the real thing to do. It is a long time since Tottenham have lifted a trophy and I don’t know which one we are going to lift. But for sure we want to lift one – any one will be pretty good so we will wait and see.”

 

Wenger Praises Reading’s McDermott

Arsene Wenger has applauded the work done by Brian McDermott at Reading FC and has labelled the Royals manager as a miracle worker.

McDermott, who played for Arsenal as a midfielder from 1978-1984, managed to get Reading promoted to the Premier League despite a shoestring budget, and Wenger believes the 51-year-old deserves credit for that achievement.

Ahead of Arsenal’s Capital One Cup clash with the Royals, Wenger told Arsenal Media:Reading have made appointments from within the club well over the years. You have to congratulate Brian McDermott for promotion last year, I believe he made a miracle basically. When you get to the Premier League, the level of expectation is to stay and I feel they have a chance. McDermott has the qualities to achieve that.

“We expect a challenge and we know Reading will give absolutely everything when they play against us. Reading have done very well in their scouting. They are one of the examples of a club not spending money and living within their resources. I always respect that. There is some quality work behind their success.”

 

Arsenal Face Competition in N’Koulou Chase

Marseille defender Nicolas N’Koulou, who is a reported transfer target for coach Arsene Wenger, is also being tracked by Chelsea and Barcelona, according to a report published by Metro.

The Arsenal boss has been a long-term admirer of the 22-year-old centre-half, who has been one of the best performers in Ligue 1 for the past few seasons. However, Metro claim that Barca are ready to offer Marseille £15million for N’Koulou’s services, which means that the Gunners’ chances of landing him are fairly slim.

Chelsea are also interested in the Les Phocéens star but their unwillingness to offer a straight cash deal means that Tito Vilanova’s side are the favourites to sign him.

 

Szczesny Set to Return Against Manchester United

Wojciech Szczesny is set to return back to Arsenal’s starting line-up ahead of their upcoming league clash with Manchester United, according to Goal.com.

The Poland international, who had been nursing an ankle injury for the past few weeks, returned to full training on Monday and is now all set to take over the goalkeeping duties from stand-in custodian Vito Mannone.

Szczesny has made only two appearances for Arsenal so far this season, and while Arsenal’s defence hasn’t conceded too many goals in his absence, his replacement has made several avoidable mistakes.