Podolski Believes Arsenal Can Knock Out Bayern
Lukas Podolski believes that Arsenal are capable of knocking out his old club Bayern Munich when the two sides meet in the next round of the UEFA Champions League.
The Gunners have been paired with the Bavarian giants, who made it all the way to the final last season and are also one of the favourites to win the competition this time around. While Podolski accepts that his former employers have a lot of quality players, he is confident that Arsenal have what it takes to compete with them.
While talking to Arsenal Player on Thursday, Podolski said: “They played in the final in 2010 and last year. It is a big club, but we have the chance to win against Bayern Munich. They have (Mario) Gomez up front, they have (Franck) Ribery, (Bastian) Schweinsteiger, Philipp Lahm, Manuel Neuer. But there are two matches, one at home (and) one away, so both teams have the chance to win.”
Walcott Won’t Be Sold In January
Arsene Wenger has declared that contract-rebel Theo Walcott will not be sold in the January transfer window and believes that the winger would eventually decide to sign a new deal.
The Gunners recently tied up Jack Wilshere, Kieran Gibbs, Aaron Ramsey, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Carl Jenkinson to new long-term deals but they haven’t had any luck in their contractual negotiations with Walcott.
It was thought that Wenger would decide to sell the 23-year-old next month in order to avoid losing him for free when his existing deal runs out next summer, but the Frenchman has denied having such plans.
When asked if the recent re-signings of the aforementioned quintet could tempt Walcott to stay, Wenger said: “A little bit, I hope.”
He was then asked if the England international could be offloaded next month, to which he replied: “No, that is for sure. My gut feeling is that he belongs to this club and that I hope he will sign for us. I always am convinced he will stay. You never fix yourself a limit on financial restrictions. At the end of the day, can you pay what the player wants? And does it fit with your wage structure?
“I have always fought for the players to make money so I am happy when the players make big money. But it has to be made possible for the club to pay it. I believe the board will follow my recommendation if it is possible. We have a wage bill that has to be respected. When we go overboard and higher than it is expected, I ask the board to do it and most of the time they follow my demands.”
Gunners’ Postpone Boxing Day Clash with West Ham
Arsenal FC’s Boxing Day derby clash with West Ham United has been postponed in anticipation of a planned transportation strike in London, the club has confirmed.
London Underground drivers have called for a strike on December 26, which means that the city’s tube system may not be fully functional on that day. It could create some major transportation problems for both the home and away supporters and therefore, the Gunners have decided to call off the fixture for the time being.
“As a result of Monday’s strike ballot and the proposed industrial action on London Underground on Boxing Day, Arsenal’s Premier League match against West Ham United at Emirates Stadium, originally planned for Wednesday, December 26, has been postponed,” the club announced in a statement published on Arsenal.com.
“This decision has been made now, due to the preparation period needed to safely operate Emirates Stadium by all the relevant agencies. The paramount concern was always the duty of care towards the Arsenal supporters, West Ham United supporters, matchday employees and workers and indeed everyone who was planning to attend the game on Boxing Day.”
No January Exit For Llorente
Rumoured Arsenal target Fernando Llorente will not be sold in the January transfer window, according to his current club Athletic Bilbao.
The Spain international fell out of favour with Los Leones faithful after making it known that he would like to leave them for pastures new. His current deal with the club roughly has six more months to run, which is why it was thought that Bilbao would cash in on him next month.
However, the Basque club’s president Josu Urrutia has revealed that they are prepared to let Llorente’s contract run its course and risk losing him for free next summer.
“This player makes our team more competitive and his future will be decided by the club. At the moment we need to maintain the quality level within our squad, not reduce it. Llorente will stay with us until the end of the season,” Urrutia is quoted as saying in the Spanish press.
Campbell Wants Gunners to Keep Hold of Walcott
Sol Campbell has urged Arsenal board to do whatever it takes to secure contract-rebel Theo Walcott’s long-term future.
The former Gunner believes that Walcott is a special player and is about to enter the prime of his career, which is why the club must keep hold of him.
In an interview with BBC Sport, Campbell said: “Theo is a big player. You don’t want to lose him for the best years of his football. For the next five years, I’d pay to keep him. He’s a young lad, a good lad who scores goals, and you need to keep those types of players. People love him, people hate him – but Theo is a good player, a great player, and he’s growing every year.
“You can’t lose him because his contract is running out or he wants a little bit more money. You’ve got to keep those type of players. We’ve lost too many over time. It used to be losing these players at 30 years old – now they’re losing these players at mid-20s and that’s crazy. You can’t be losing players at mid-20s because of contract situations – it’s crazy now.”