Backpage Roundup: Usmanov Named Richest Man in UK, Wenger Admits Gunners Were Fortunate, Mertesacker Ugly but Effective and More


Usmanov Named Richest Man in UK

Arsenal co-owner Alisher Usmanov is now the richest man in the United Kingdom, according to the freshly published Sunday Times Rich List 2013.

The 59-year-old Russian businessman, whose personal wealth is estimated at £13.3 billion, has taken over the publication’s top spot from steel magnate and QPR co-owner Lakshmi Mittal.

Chelsea’s free spending owner Roman Abramovich is fifth on the list with personal fortune worth £9.3 billion.


Wenger Admits Gunners Were Fortunate to Win Against Fulham  

Arsene Wenger has confessed that Arsenal were lucky to take all three points in the 1-0 win over Fulham at Craven Cottage on Saturday.

The Gunners took the lead two minutes before the half-time break but were second-best for long periods despite the fact that their opponents played practically the entire game with ten men only. The result made Wenger happy but he admitted that the Cottagers gave them a run for their money.

In the post-match interview with Sky Sports, he said: “Of course for us after the draw against Everton it was important to take the three points. It was a positive first-half, but for some reason, and I don’t know why, our game in the second-half deteriorated and our passing became sloppy. We played with less pace in our game and you have to give them credit – they are a good side and they tried like mad. They played very well today.

“It became hard, and in the second-half especially I think we played with a hand-brake. We just wanted to keep the lead without taking any risk and had not enough penetration. When a team is down to ten men they focus on defending deep and they defended well. We did not give them enough problems today.”


Walcott Claims Contract Delays Weren’t Money-Related

Theo Walcott says that he decided to stay at Arsenal so that he can repay the club for the faith they showed in him and end their long running trophy drought.

The 23-year-old forward’s future at Arsenal was in major doubt earlier this season, as his previous deal was about to expire in six months’ time. An agreement over an extension was proving extremely difficult to achieve due to his high wage demands.

After months of uncertainty a deal was finally struck, but Walcott now claims that money was not the deciding factor in his decision and he never really wanted to leave.

In an interview with The Times, he said: “People now can surely see it didn’t revolve entirely around money. I could have hung on and walked out for nothing and who knows what I could have made then? My agent might know, but he never told me and I never asked. I just wanted to be in the team, playing well. I always said I wanted to stay. I know what I owed to Arsenal and to the manager, getting me when I was 16. I did want to replay the club. Others might say that and not believe it, but I do.

“When a club and a manager have shown interest in you at such a young age, when you’ve done next to nothing in the game, and they’ve helped you reach the top level, helped you develop and work around top players, you don’t lightly walk away from that. I wanted to stay because I still think this club can go on to achieve something. It’s ‘when’ and not ‘if’ we win something.

“If anything came out of it all, I think it’s a bit more respect between me and the manager. We’ve shown faith in each other and I feel there is a bit more responsibility on me to create something out of nothing.”


Mertesacker Ugly but Effective – Wenger

Arsene Wenger has admitted that Per Mertesacker’s playing style may not be easy on the eyes but believes that the lanky German has become an integral part of Arsenal’s defensive unit.

The 28-year-old centre-half faced a lot of criticism for his defensive lapses earlier this season but has recovered significantly since then and is now a regular starter in the heart of the Gunners’ backline.

In recognition of Mertesacker’s highly improved displays, Wenger said: “He combines well with both Vermaelen and Koscielny. They are good partnerships. He is a bit more ‘positional play’. I have three good centre-backs. I can’t be wrong when I make a decision, because all three deserve to play. Maybe he is less elegant and the visual impression is less pleasing, but he is efficient and intelligent.”


Wenger Satisfied With Giroud’s Debut Season

Arsene Wenger has expressed his satisfaction with the way Olivier Giroud has performed in his debut season in the Premier League and believes that the Arsenal striker will emerge as an even better player next season.

Opinions among the Arsenal fans regarding Giroud remain divided despite the fact that he has scored 17 and assisted 13 goals so far this season. He did himself no favours by failing to convert several decent opportunities in the 0-0 draw against Everton on Tuesday night before earning a straight red in the 1-0 win over Fulham earlier today.

But no matter what the Gooners think about the 26-year-old Frenchman, the Arsenal boss is happy with his work. He said: “He gave a lot until now and for his first season he is doing extremely well because he has a fantastic attitude, a positive mind. He gives us another dimension with the physical challenges in the air. He has scored 17 goals in all competitions, 11 in the league – for a first season that is quite good.

“He has good physical potential, Olivier. He wants to play every single game, he has a good basic stamina and he can absorb the games. He can absorb the body to body contact, because he’s a strong guy. I think you will see more from him next season, and there’s a lot more to come from him.”

“He is very extrovert and has a positive nature. He wants to do well – he is desperate to do well – and is not the one who hides after. He stands up for what he has done and I feel he deals quite well with that.”

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