Walcott Eyes More Improvement
Theo Walcott believes that Arsenal’s 2012/13 season was a very successful one for him at an individual level, but he doesn’t want to rest on his laurels and is looking to get even better in the forthcoming campaign.
The 24-year-old forward, who was the Gunners’ top scorer last season with 21 goals, told Arsenal.com: “I was very proud of being top scorer, but it sort of went unnoticed really. The season was hard work, everyone knows about the contract situation and to play with that on your mind is tough, but it was a massive achievement for me to be top scorer for the season for Arsenal. The likes of Thierry Henry, Robin van Persie and Dennis Bergkamp have done it, and now I want to push on from that. I don’t want to stay at a steady level, I want to push on and push the club on so we realize our potential.
“I was very proud of myself last season – not just the goals but the assists and what I contributed to the team itself. That has come from me believing in myself a bit more. Even the seasons before last, I scored quite a few goals. And being out wide, a lot of wide men only tend to get 10 to 15 goals a season. I had a few games up front but most of my goals were from the right. When things are going well, I wouldn’t change a thing. If I can contribute anywhere across the front line then I will take that.”
Napoli Agree Higuain Deal
Arsenal FC are set to be met with disappointment in their pursuit of Gonzalo Higuain after reports emerged from the Italian press that Napoli have agreed to pay Real Madrid’s asking price of £30million for the Argentine striker. (Corriere dello Sport)
All that remains for the Serie A side is to discuss personal terms with Higuain, but he reportedly prefers a switch to the Premier League and has asked for two days to see if the Gunners reignite their interest in him. If this transfer goes through, it would provide Real ample cash to launch a bid for Liverpool’s Luis Suarez, who is another one that Arsene Wenger has targeted to satisfy the Gooners’ demands of quality players. In a single move, the Gunners could lose on two fronts, leaving their management to contemplate what their next move should be.
Wilshere Excited about Pre-Season Training
Jack Wilshere has stressed the importance of pre-season training and revealed that he is hoping to finally get a full campaign under his belt in order to build up his fitness levels.
The 21-year-old Arsenal playmaker has been struggling with knee and ankle injuries for the past few seasons and so hasn’t been a part of their pre-season campaigns. He is fit this time around though and feels that it would do his overall fitness a world of good if he could survive the entire training program.
In an interview with Arsenal.com, Wilshere said: “Sometimes we forget [when we’re on tour] that we are still in pre-season and no one likes pre-season, especially in this heat, but we just have to get on with it, we have a big season coming up and we need to get our fitness levels up. We also have Champions League qualifiers just around the corner and we know what we have to do. It is tough, and this weather doesn’t help, but you need to roll your sleeves up and get on with it. The last two years I have missed pre-season so to get one under my belt now will be really helpful. I played 25 minutes against Vietnam, so the next step will be to play 45 minutes and go on from there.”
About the current state of his fitness, he added: “I am feeling good and it is just down to getting the games under my belt and I’m sure the boss will give me them.”
Podolski Uses Competition In England As Excuse For Trophy Drought
Lukas Podolski believes that Arsenal’s failure to win any silverware in the past eight years is down to the extreme competition in the Barclays Premier League, something which is unheard-of in other top European leagues.
The 2005 FA Cup win remains the last time that the Gunners lifted any major trophy, and while coach Arsene Wenger and company are confident of changing that soon, Podolski has made it clear that it is not an easy task to accomplish at all.
In what can be viewed as an excuse in advance for more disappointments, the German international said: “We fight for trophies next season. When you look at the finish to the season [finishing fourth in a Champions League spot], if we bring in some players as well then we will have the belief we can take into next season. It will not be easy. Everyone thinks it’s easy to get a trophy. You have five or six teams who fight for first place. It’s not like in Spain where it’s just two teams and in Germany you just have Dortmund and Bayern. It’s not easy in England. It’s so competitive. But at Arsenal we have good players, a great coach and great fans. Arsenal is a very big team and we want to win trophies.”
Gunners Rid Themselves Of Santos
Andre Santos is officially off Arsenal FC’s books after he signed a two-year contract with Brasileiro Série A club Flamengo.
The Gunners were struggling to offload the 30-year-old Brazilian due to his high wages, and at one point, it had seemed that they might have to keep him even though he is clueless about the art of defending and had Kieran Gibbs and Nacho Monreal ahead of him in the pecking order. However, they have managed to get rid of him thanks to the club affectionately known as the Mengão.
“Arsenal Football Club can confirm that Brazilian left back Andre Santos has joined Flamengo in a permanent deal. Everybody at Arsenal would like to thank Andre for his contribution to the club and wish him well for his future career,” the club said in a statement on Arsenal.com.