Backpage Roundup: Arteta Retains Penalty Taking Role, No Progress Over Walcott Deal, Fans Told To Behave, Wilshere Defends Wenger’s Record and More

Arteta Arsenal 2011

Arteta Retains Penalty Taking Role

Mikel Arteta will continue to take penalty kicks for Arsenal despite his last weekend’s injury time miss against Fulham, coach Arsene Wenger has confirmed.

It was thought that the Spaniard would be relieved of penalty kicking duties after that miss, but Wenger has made it clear that he still has full confidence in the former Everton man.

London 24 have quoted Wenger as saying: “He took it because in my list he’s the number one. If he had not done it I would have questioned him. Lukas Podolski was number two and he was not on the pitch, Theo Walcott was number three and he was not on the pitch as well. It was him or Santi Cazorla to take it.

Arteta was completely upset. Mikel is a guy who is highly focused and motivated to win the game every time. One thing you cannot question about Mikel Arteta is his desire to win and to do well for the team. Then, on the other hand you want your players to have personality and take responsibility.”


Form Means Nothing against Tottenham – Szczesny

Wojciech Szczesny has said that form would mean nothing in Arsenal’s league clash with their North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday, and whichever side is more committed would take the game.

Both the teams have suffered disappointing results in the past few weeks but the Arsenal goalie believes that recent form becomes irrelevant in the North London derbies and it comes down to whoever brings their A game on the day.

Szczesny said: “It’s a massive game, and it doesn’t really matter what form you are in when it comes around. Both teams have had some disappointing results recently, but it’s all about commitment in this one and I’m confident we can go out there and get the job done.

“Hopefully it can have the same effect for us that it did in February, when it really kick-started our season. It comes a little bit earlier this year, so after a frustrating couple of weeks we hope a similar thing can happen – and over a longer period.”


Wenger Sweating Over Key Trio’s Fitness

Arsene Wenger has revealed that he is sweating over the fitness of several of his Arsenal players ahead of Saturday’s clash with arch-rivals Tottenham Hotspur.

Theo Walcott, Mikel Arteta and Olivier Giroud all reported back from international duty with new injury problems and that has disturbed Wenger’s plans for the weekend.

In Friday’s interview, the Gunners boss said: “There are so many – I think we need a few doctors this morning. We have so many players who have come back with injuries or small injuries. We will see this morning, but it is difficult to give you a clear idea of who will be available tomorrow or not.”

He then talked about the case of Santi Cazorla, who travelled all the way to Panama with Spain but was an unused substitute in the reigning champions’ 5-1 thrashing of the Central American minnows.

Wenger said: “They had 30 degrees there, so it was (good for) sunbathing. What do I make of it? At the moment, if you are selected you have to go, unless you say you’re injured. I understand completely that in Spain, the competition is so high that if a guy turns it down and there is suspicion there, the next time he will not be called up.

“Could Cazorla have done without that trip? Of course. He could have got injured, so I personally don’t complain, but he must not be very happy.”


Fans Told To Behave

Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur have strictly told their fans not to use anti-social behaviour in Saturday’s derby clash between the two sides and have warned that anyone caught violating this policy would face serious consequences.

The two North London rivals released a joint statement on Friday in which they stated: “All fans should be aware that breaches of stadium regulations – including anti-social behaviour – will not be tolerated. Arsenal and Tottenham do not tolerate discrimination of any sort, whether it be on the pitch or in the stands…Both clubs are actively encouraging all fans to focus on getting behind their team and enjoying what promises to be a great match on Saturday.”


Wenger Demands Consistent Performances

Arsene Wenger has urged Arsenal players to defeat Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday and start moving back towards the top four on the league table.

The Gunners currently find themselves in the eighth position and are trailing their North London rivals by a single point and fourth-placed Everton by four points. Wenger doesn’t want that gap to widen up any more and so he has challenged his charges to produce a positive and consistent display against Spurs.

On Friday, the Arsenal boss was quoted as saying: “For some time, we were winning championships and Tottenham were not in the top four at all, so of course they have got closer in recent years, but fortunately we managed always to get above.

“Tottenham have a good side every year and they are a team who are now fighting with us. It is important in the end to have consistency, and certainly the results in the two derbies can have a big influence as well on the qualifying spots for the Champions League.”


No Progress in Contract Talks with Walcott

Arsene Wenger has revealed that contractual discussions between Theo Walcott and Arsenal officials take place on daily basis but an agreement still hasn’t been reached yet.

The 23-year-old forward, who reportedly wants weekly wages of £100,000, will be out of contract next summer. While Wenger has ensured that talks between the two parties are taking place frequently, he says that there is no real update on the issue and the stalemate still pretty much exists.

We have discussions every day about his contract. We try to get further along but nothing else has happened,” the Frenchman told the press.


Villa Newcomer Benteke Dreaming Of Arsenal Move

Aston Villa striker Christian Benteke has revealed his fondness for Arsenal and Gunners legend Thierry Henry and admitted that he would like to play for the North London club in future.

The Belgian international, who signed for the Villans from Genk in the summer, is a boyhood Arsenal fans and is hoping that his performances at Villa would earn him a move to Emirates one day.

In an interview with The Daily Express, Benteke said: “I am not afraid of making enemies at Aston Villa by saying I loveArsenal. There are worse things one can say… Arsenal are the club I love. I like their philosophy of selecting young players and, besides, they hadThierry Henry in their team. For me, he is the best player in the world and he was my boyhood idol.”


Wilshere Defends Wenger’s Record in Transfer Market

Jack Wilshere has defended coach Arsene Wenger’s transfer policy and said that the Arsenal boss has done a fine job in building a squad of ‘proper footballers.’

The Frenchman has been criticised by the club’s fans for not signing quality replacements with the money recuperated from high-profile sales of Cesc Fabregas, Robin van Persie and Alex Song in recent years. But Wilshere doesn’t agree with the criticism and he believes that the players Wenger has brought in are good enough for this level.

In an interview with Arsenal Player, Wilshere said: “It is strange because last time I played was with Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri, Alex Song and Robin van Persie. Now there’s the likes of Podolski, Giroud, Cazorla and Mikel Arteta. The boss has done excellently. He’s bought well. These players are proper footballers – they understand the game and they’ve been around.

“You look at someone like Lukas Podolski, he’s got over 100 caps for his country. They’re top players and it’s easy to come into a team where they understand football so well. To play with someone like Santi Cazorla is so easy. He understands football, even little things like the pace of the pass he gives you, and his movement is outstanding.”



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