Backpage Roundup: Mainz’s Towering Striker on Gunners’ Radar, Wilshere Sees Bright Future, Barca to Block Villa Move, Arteta on FA Cup and More

Szalai on Gunners’ Radar

Arsene Wenger has identified Mainz striker Adam Szalai as a potential target for the January window, according to the latest round of Arsenal transfer news.

The Gunners recently dispatched Marouane Chamakh on loan to West Ham United and will also lose the services of their tricky forward Gervinho, who is set to represent Ivory Coast in the upcoming African Cup of Nations. That would leave them with Olivier Giroud as their only recognised centre-forward and therefore, Wenger is interested in signing Szalai this month.

The 25-year-old Hungarian has been in fine form this season and has found the back of the net an impressive 11 times in just 20 outings for the Bundesliga club.

When the German tabloid Bild approached Szalai for a comment on Arsenal’s rumoured interest, he simply replied: “I know of nothing…”

Mainz manager Christian Heidel then strongly declared that they have no intention of selling their prized asset but it is believed that his hard stance on the subject is only to get more money out of Arsenal.

 

Wilshere Sees Trophy-Rich Future for Arsenal

Jack Wilshere believes that Arsenal will go on a winning run as soon as they end their trophy drought, which is now closing in on eight years.

The Gunners last won a major trophy in 2005 when they defeated Manchester United in the FA Cup final on penalties. Since then, they have come close to winning several cup competitions but have always met disappointment in finals.

However, Wilshere believes that his side’s cup troubles will end for good once they get their hands on a drought-breaking trophy.

The 21-year-old midfielder said: “We all want a trophy. As players, when you finish your careers you look back and see how many trophies you have won, so we all want trophies, and the fans want trophies as well. We are hungry for trophies and if we get a trophy this year, then maybe it can open the way for a few more.

“We have got a good group of young players here and experienced players as well. So, if we get a trophy this year or in the next couple of years, we can really build something over the next few years.

“Obviously it is easy to sit here and say that when we get one trophy it will happen, but we need to get that first trophy. We know how tough the FA Cup is this year and we are still in the Champions League as well. So we are in a good position, we just need to make sure we get the results now.”

 

Arsenal Can Win FA Cup – Arteta

Mikel Arteta feels that Arsenal can win this season’s FA Cup and end their seven-year-long trophy drought, provided that they can cut out their habit of making ‘sloppy’ mistakes in crunch times.

The Gunners recently showcased their lack of ruthlessness when they allowed Swansea City striker Danny Graham to fire home the equaliser in their FA Cup third round tie, which would now need a replay.

The winner of the replay will go on to face the lower league minnows Brighton & Hove Albion in the next round, which is why Arteta believes that his side has a great chance of going all the way in this competition. However, for their trophy drought to end, the former Everton man believes that he and his teammates would have to improve their concentration levels.

In an interview with Arsenal.com, Arteta said: “It’s a great chance to win a trophy. We don’t want to miss it. We improved a lot in the second half [against Swansea]. We had many chances to finish the game earlier, but then suddenly with one mistake they scored the first goal. We kept going and showed a lot of character to get back into the game, score and go ahead. But then we conceded a sloppy one again.

“I think we were the better team. We dominated possession better than them and created more chances. We deserved to win the game and that’s why we’re disappointed. We’re on a good run. We’re disappointed with the draws in the last two games as we could have won both of them but I thought in the second half we played very good football.”

 

Rosell Reveals Intention to Block Villa Exit

Rumoured Arsenal target David Villa will not be allowed to leave Barcelona this month, the Spanish club’s president Sandro Rosell has confirmed.

Villa, 31, is not considered an automatic starter at Barca anymore, which is why it was thought that he would try and find himself a new team.

Coach Arsene Wenger was purportedly willing to offer the Spaniard regular first-team football at Emirates Stadium but the Blaugrana supremo’s latest interview has spoiled the Arsenal manager’s plans.

In a radio interview with RAC1, Rosell was asked to comment on Villa’s future, to which he replied: “I completely rule out the transfer of Villa during the winter market. He is ours and we need him, there is a lot of the season left.”

 

Djourou Says Mertersacker Convinced Him to Join Hannover

Freshly loaned-out defender Johan Djourou has revealed that he decided to join Hannover 96 after being told to do so by Per Mertesacker.

Last week, the Swiss centre-half left Arsenal for the German club, where he will spend the remainder of the season and try to get some game time under his belt. Soon after linking up with his new teammates, the 25-year-old talked about the part Mertesacker played in convincing him to join Hannover.

In an interview with German paper Bild, Djourou said: “Per is a good friend of mine. He told me many positive things about Hannover 96. And he said that I should do that and go there.”

He further added: “Last season I had to play right back and I lost a little self-confidence. I have a good athletic quality and I play aggressively against the ball. I always want to play and in Hannover there’s a good opportunity for me to do that. And it’s the perfect club for me.”

 

2012 Was One to Forget, Admits Szczesny

Wojciech Szczesny has admitted that last year was a disappointing one for both him and his club Arsenal but is confident that things will be a lot better in 2013.

The 23-year-old goalkeeper suffered a humiliating night in Italy last season when he let in four goals in the first leg of Arsenal’s Champions League tie with AC Milan. He was then shown a straight red in the opening game of Euro 2012 while representing Poland and that sending off effectively ended his tournament. An ankle injury meant that he also missed a number of matches in Arsenal’s first half of the 2012/13 season.

Meanwhile, the Gunners endured another year without winning any silverware and Szczesny is fully aware that 2012 was a year to forget.

The Daily Mirror have quoted him as saying: “It was a difficult year for me. We didn’t perform well enough to play for this club. We knew after we lost to them [Swansea] that we needed to change. We are working harder in training, we have stayed together and turned it around…Last year was tough. But I have become more professional in my preparation to stop getting an injury.”

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