Backpage Roundup: Gunners Warned Against Taking Reading Lightly, Diame Not for Sale, Graham’s Advice for Wenger, Wilshere Set for New Deal and More

Gunners Told Not to Underestimate Reading

Arsene Wenger has warned his Arsenal charges against underestimating Reading FC, whom they face on Monday night at Madejski Stadium.

The Royals have been in poor form and currently find themselves rooted to the bottom of the Premier League points table. However, they recently battled hard with league leaders Manchester United in their 4-3 loss and therefore, Wenger has told his players not to expect an easy ride in their upcoming game.

Talking about coach Brian McDermott’s men, the Gunners boss said: “They are a time who deserve a lot of credit because they came up last year, for me surprisingly. Reading make it difficult for every team in every game, so we expect a battle. Our results are quite consistent and good away from home. We had a good game against West Brom (and) it’s important to confirm that in our next away game.”


Diame Not for Sale – Allardyce

Rumoured Arsenal target Mohamed Diame won’t be sold in the January transfer window, West Ham manager Sam Allardyce has declared.

It was thought that the Gunners will try and sign the 25-year-old next month but the Hammers boss has downplayed the chance of his exit, saying that the midfielder is enjoying his football at Upton Park.

The Sunday Times have quoted Allardyce as saying: “He won’t go anywhere. He likes it here. [His improvement] is down to the challenge he’s taken on. The size of a club demands a certain size of performance and we’re a sell-out club, with 35,000 people, great tradition. He’s responded.

“We changed his role. The ability he has to break through the opposition’s midfield is rare. Other players have to pass their way through. He has similar capabilities to Yaya Toure though, unbelievably, Manchester City don’t seem to be using those capabilities at the moment.

“That’s why West Ham fans love him, those long, penetrating, weavey runs. He gets into the positions so often that if we can work on the finishing and final pass we could be talking about a really top player.”

Graham Tells Wenger to Unearth Hidden Gems

Former Arsenal manager George Graham has told Arsene Wenger ‘to get his magic hat on again’ and unearth a world class player out of nowhere like he used to do for fun in his heyday.

The Gunners’ poor form this season means that a lot of fans want Wenger to leave the club, and while Graham understands their frustration, he believes that the Frenchman still has what it takes to continue his job for a few more years. His advice for the 63-year-old is to go back to the basics and import hidden world class talents into his side.

Talking to BBC Radio Five Live’s Sportsweek programme, Graham said: “Let’s give Arsene the credit. He brought in players for average prices, Thierry Henry, Nicolas Anelka, Marc Overmars, Patrick Vieira, Emmanuel Petit. They were all very good players unknown to the fans in England that he turned into fantastic world-class players. That was his strength.

“He did it on a tight budget so it’s not like they are now going to go out and break the transfer record. They have never done it during Arsene’s reign so in my opinion he has got to get his magic hat on again and go out and see if he can get players of that quality at good prices.”

When asked if he believes Wenger’s days at Arsenal are numbered, he replied: “Management is about being successful and when you are, you take all the plaudits and the compliments. There is a lot of hysterical criticism about Wenger now. If you want to stay in the top four, he is the man without question.

I think Wenger will stay there. He is very powerful at the club and rightly so. He will make the decision if he leaves or not. I cannot see him leaving at all. He enjoys Arsenal, the power and influence he has got throughout the club. I think Arsene will still be there for a few years yet. I just hope they bring in a better quality of player.”


Wilshere Close to Signing Contract Extension

Jack Wilshere has revealed that his representatives are currently negotiating a new deal with Arsenal and an agreement may not be too far away.

The England international’s existing contract with the Gunners still has two more years to run after the current campaign but both the parties have decided to extend it way ahead of time in order to avoid a repeat of Robin van Persie and Theo Walcott’s situation.

Talking to Sky Sports, Wilshere said: “I am talking to the club and I probably will be committing my future to the club in the next couple of weeks. I know the team are going through a bad stage at the moment and that is like any team. Look at West Bromwich Albion – okay, they are not as big a club as Arsenal – but they were flying and now they have hit a sticky patch.”

Wenger Defends Arsenal Squad

Arsene Wenger has said that his Arsenal side’s struggles are not due to a lack of effort and his players are even more focused than some of his former squads who won many trophies for the club.

The Arsenal boss and his players are facing severe criticism these days due to their inconsistent performance, with their critics’ latest accusation being that they don’t care enough. However, Wenger is adamant that his players are very serious and committed to the club and any setbacks hurt them a great deal too.

The Frenchman said: “I have had groups who had fantastic results who were less serious than these players, believe me. We won trophies with players who were less focused than this team. Of course these players are hurting.

“You think they don’t care and they go home [after Bradford] and think they had a fantastic game? They do care. We have not kicked on, that’s true. But we have rebuilt a team this year and we’ll see where we finish.”


Wenger Not a Dictator – Parlour

Former Gunner Ray Parlour has denied suggestions that coach Arsene Wenger uses an autocratic style of management at Arsenal.

Wenger, 63, was recently branded ‘a dictator’ by Stewart Robson (another former Arsenal player) but Parlour doesn’t agree with that viewpoint at all, and instead, he believes that the Frenchman is always open to suggestions.

In an interview with Sky Sports, Parlour said: “Stewart Robson has got his own opinions, but I played under Arsene Wenger and thought he was a great manager when I was there. He was always one of those managers you could talk to. Arsene Wenger is one of those sort of guys who will always try to stick up for his players.

“We would have meetings after games and it would all come out in the dressing room, which (is how) it should be. It is a private matter between the players, the manager and the staff. It was quite embarrassing to lose to Bradford, there is no doubting that, but I think he is one of those guys who does criticise people behind the scenes instead of in the press.”

Vertonghen Claims Arsenal Snub

Tottenham Hotspur defender Jan Vertonghen has claimed that Arsenal were keen to sign him in the summer but he decided not to join them after being told that coach Arsene Wenger sees him as a midfielder.

The Belgium international, who has become an instant hit at White Hart Lane after joining Spurs from Ajax Amsterdam, claims that he could have been playing for Arsenal had Wenger not wanted to deploy him in midfield.

Dutch website NUsport have quoted Vertonghen as saying: “(Arsenal’s interest) was concrete, but they wanted me to be a controller in the midfield, an Emmanuel Petit-type. I’m not afraid of competition, but the overall picture of Spurs appealed to me more.”

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