Backpage Roundup: Santos Leaves for Gremio, Walcott Believes Gunners Can Secure Top Four Finish, Szczesny Targets More Improvement, Sissoko Reveals Arsenal Admiration and More

 

Santos Leaves Arsenal for Gremio

Arsenal FC have confirmed that left-back Andre Santos has joined Gremio on loan and will now remain with the Serie A club for the remainder of the 2012/13 season.

The 29-year-old Brazilian joined Arsenal from Fenerbahce in August 2011 but his lack of defensive nous meant that he never managed to flourish in North London. His legal troubles made his adjustment to life in England even more difficult and his ill-advised gesture of swapping shirts with Robin van Persie in the defeat to Manchester United earlier this season made him an unpopular figure among Arsenal fans too.

The recent signing of Spanish left-back Nacho Monreal saw Santos drop to fourth in the pecking order in his preferred role and so it was decided to let him leave for the rest of the campaign.

The loan exit of Santos means that the Gunners have now shipped out four first-team players on loan since the turn of the year and have signed just one.

 

Walcott Believes Gunners Can Secure Top Four Finish

Theo Walcott is supremely confident that Arsenal can fight back and finish the season among the top four clubs on the league table despite the fact that the currently trail the fourth-placed Tottenham by four points.

The Gunners’ rivals Spurs are in inspired form these days, thanks to the heroics of their superstar winger Gareth Bale. Meanwhile, Chelsea have five more points than Arsenal and are set to receive a huge boost in the form of Victor Moses and John Obi Mikel’s triumphant return from Africa.

Despite things looking positive for their opponents, Walcott believes he and his teammates are fully capable of staging a comeback and qualifying for next season’s Champions League competition.

In an interview with Arsenal.com, the 23-year-old forward said: “We’re very confident [of finishing in the top four]. We can battle through any sort of situation. The teams around us are winning as well but we’ve just got to make sure we look after ourselves and try to win as often as we can.”

 

Szczesny Targets More Improvement

Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny has admitted that he is far from satisfied with his recent performances for Arsenal and needs to up his game significantly.

The Gunners custodian was generally good in his club’s recent 1-0 defeat of Sunderland but he feels that there are still areas in his game that need improvement.

In an interview with the Daily Mirror, Szczesny said: “I made a couple of saves that helped the team win the game and I’m happy for that but there is a lot of work still to be done. I still struggled a little bit on crosses so I would have been happier with a faultless performance.”

 

Wenger Doesn’t Think Wilshere Needs to Curb His Natural Game

Arsene Wenger doesn’t believe that it is necessary for Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere to tone down his combative playing style for the sake of his long-term health and career.

The 21-year-old Gunner’s penchant for physical contact and strong tackles saw him receive several knocks in Arsenal’s recent 1-0 defeat of Sunderland, after which it was suggested by some media pundits that he should tweak his playing style in order to avoid serious injuries. However, the Arsenal boss doesn’t agree with those suggestions and he feels Wilshere should play his natural game, since it’s the responsibility of the referees to protect players like him.

Wenger said: “It is true the way Jack plays can take its toll. But that’s his game and he has to take that gamble. His game is to take the ball and go at people. Messi does that as well and he plays without being injured. You can only make a career with the strong aspect of your game and that’s his strength.”

“He will be a marked man but you do not want to say ‘Don’t play like you play’. Play like you play, like who you are and express yourself and the way you feel. That is the most important thing. But I don’t want to talk too much about that as I don’t want to give him paranoia. He has to be natural and play his game and it is down to the referees to protect him.”

 

Newcastle’s Sissoko Reveals Arsenal Admiration

Newcastle United midfielder Moussa Sissoko has revealed that he was an Arsenal fan when he was young and used to dream of playing for them due to the vast numbers of French players at that time in coach Arsene Wenger’s squad.

The 23-year-old enforcer, who has been a huge hit in the Premier League since arriving at St. James Park from Toulouse last month, told L’Equipe: “When I was little the Arsenal team with all the French players made a mark on me. Pires, Wiltord, Henry, Vieira… That team made me dream. They won everything.

“I loved Thierry Henry and especially Patrick Vieira, who played the same position as me. He had unbelievable power! He ran through the entire pitch with the ball at his feet. In midfield, he was the boss. And then there was Highbury with the fans so close to the pitch. I would have liked to play there!”

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