Football UK

Arsene Wenger says Arsenal signing was booed by team-mates in training

Former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has revealed that the squad booed Sol Campbell in training ahead of the north London derby in a bid to help prepare the defender for the hostile reaction he would receive after leaving Tottenham to join the Gunners in 2001.

Wenger also admitted that he is not sure he would sign Campbell again because of the reaction the player faced for moving between rivals.

Asked if it was true that the Arsenal squad booed Campbell in training ahead of facing Spurs, Wenger told German magazine 11 Freunde : “They did that, and they also made jokes about it.

“But the situation was really stressful for Sol and he told me afterwards how severe it became.

Sol Campbell caused controversy when he moved from Arsenal to Tottenham

“He couldn’t go to certain places for dinner or walk freely in London because of the anger of the Tottenham fans. In hindsight, I’m not sure if I would sign him again bearing in mind the difficulties he faced.”

The deal came as a major shock at the time, with no speculation coming out about the move beforehand and reporters led to believe that Arsenal were announcing the capture of goalkeeper Richard Wright from Everton when Campbell was officially unveiled.

Tottenham fans gave Sol Campbell a hostile reaction when he returned to White Hart Lane with Arsenal
Tottenham fans gave Sol Campbell a hostile reaction when he returned to White Hart Lane with Arsenal

Asked how they managed to keep the transfer under wraps, Wenger explained: “Until I presented Sol Campbell to the press, nobody could have ever imagined him in an Arsenal shirt.

“This transfer remained secret amongst the four of us: him, his agent, David and me. That cannot happen anymore in modern football because there are so many people involved in a transfer.

“We walked around the house in the countryside at night. I knew that it would cause heated debates in London, but I was truly convinced by the player.

“I thought he was capable of facing the adversity. For me, it was easy because everybody was conscious that I had signed a great player. But for him, it was more complicated.”

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Arsene Wenger makes Arsenal admission when quizzed on potential return

Arsene Wenger would return to Arsenal if needed, the legendary manager has confirmed.

Wenger left the Emirates in 2018 after spending 22 years at the helm.

During that time, he oversaw the club’s transition from Highbury to the Emirates while establishing the club’s status as a European powerhouse.

However, towards the end of his time at the Emirates Wenger drew criticism from large sections of the Arsenal fanbase for failing to challenge for the Premier League title or the Champions League.

Wenger has been linked with a return to management since leaving, but it appears his time in the dugout is over.

Arsene Wenger has admitted he would return to Arsenal if he was asked to

Arsenal are in the midst of a torrid start to the season, having failed to get going under Mikel Arteta.

They’ve had back-to-back league wins to help turn the tide, but the pressure is still there.

And this week, Wenger was asked whether he would ever consider a return to the club.

Arsene Wenger waved goodbye to Arsenal in 2018

He replied: “If I’m needed, I will help them, but I don’t expect that, no.”

Wenger hasn’t returned to the Emirates since leaving the club, having reportedly been unhappy with the way his exit was handled.

But he hinted the wound has finally healed, as he added: “Time is a good doctor, you know.”

Speaking earlier this season, Wenger heaped praise on Arteta and backed him to succeed at the club.

He said: “Mikel had passion for the game and big motivation, and good focus and a desire to do well. You could see the ingredients there, and he had a grip and influence on the other players.

“He’s lucky that straight away he got into a big club, in a position where you normally have to work ten years to get in that position. But because he played for the club and was a good player, he got his chance. I wish him well.”

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Arsenal ‘keen on Costa transfer move’ in January years after Wenger attempt

Arsenal are keeping tabs on Diego Costa’s future with his Atletico Madrid days seemingly numbered according to reports.

The Gunners could make a January move after the striker asked the Spanish club to offload him in the New Year.

Atletico are prepared to terminate his contract six months early but do not want to sell to a rival which makes Arsenal an ideal destination, claims AS Diario.

Mikel Arteta’s side have struggled for goals this season which has contributed to their poor form.

Costa has proven himself in the Premier League with Chelsea, winning two titles in the space of three years.

Diego Costa could be available next month

The Spaniard is looking to join another top European side as he believes he can still cut it at the top level.

His grit and determination is something Arsenal have lacked for years, but they are looking to add that under Arteta.

Costa’s former team-mate Thomas Partey was signed in the summer as impressed when fit.

The Gunners’ interest in the 32-year-old dates back to Arsene Wenger’s reign.

“I like Costa as a player,” Wenger once said. “I like the qualities of the player. All the rest around is not needed. He’s a very strong player.”

He came to English shores in 2014 when Jose Mourinho signed him.

The striker was a success at Chelsea

Costa went on to score 59 times in 120 outings for the Blues under two different managers.

Wenger admits he would’ve pushed harder for his signature had he known Costa was prepared to leave the Spanish capital.

“I never thought he would leave Atlético Madrid at the time, I was surprised,” he added.

“Would I have made a harder play for him had I known? Yes. I like him, as a quality striker.”

Costa rejoined Atletico from Chelsea in 2017 but has been unable to hit the heights of his first spell and has grown frustrated with his lack of minutes.

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Aubameyang’s Thomas Tuchel comments as sacked PSG boss linked to Arsenal

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s comments on Thomas Tuchel hint at why some fans have welcomed speculation he could be the next Arsenal manager.

Tuchel’s departure from PSG this week turned up the heat on Mikel Arteta, who is under pressure going into the Gunners’ Boxing Day derby against Chelsea.

Arsenal go into Saturday’s Emirates clash just four points above the relegation zone and searching for a first win in eight Premier League games, having lost four of their last five in the top flight.

As well as having to reverse his side’s worrying slide, Arteta also needs to get the best out of Aubameyang, who signed a bumper new contract in the summer but has scored just once in open play since the opening day of the season.

Tuchel will be one of the leading candidates to replace Arteta should Arsenal lose patience with the manager, with the German having been sacked by PSG this week.

Mikel Arteta needs to start getting the best out of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

And should he take over at the Emirates, he will be tasked with Aubameyang, who played under Tuchel at Borussia Dortmund.

Tuchel was linked with the Arsenal hotseat when Arsene Wenger left in 2018, and Aubameyang said at the time: “He’s one of the best coaches that I’ve had.

“I can’t deny his talent. He’s someone a bit crazy, a little like me.”

Aubameyang also compared his former boss to Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola – who was Arteta’s mentor before he left the Etihad to take charge of Arsenal just over a year ago.

Aubameyang hailed Thomas Tuchel as ‘one of the best coaches I’ve had’

“You could say that his style is a bit like that of Guardiola. In any case, they play with the same spirit.

“He likes to keep the ball with a style of play that likes to see the ball move forward, no matter what happens.

“I think he’s got the stuff. Now, it’ll be up to him to prove it.”

Tuchel has spoken of his desire to test himself in the Premier League – but only time will tell if that opportunity will come at Arsenal.

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Ozil says Arsenal are “really missing” Wenger in thinly-veiled dig at Arteta

Mesut Ozil claimed Arsenal are “really missing” Arsene Wenger as he appeared to take a swipe at Mikel Arteta.

Ozil enjoyed a fruitful five seasons under Wenger after the Frenchman paid a then-club-record fee to sign him from Real Madrid in 2013.

But the midfielder’s career – along with the Gunners’ form – has taken a nosedive since Wenger left Arsenal at the end of the 2017/18 season.

Wenger was replaced by Unai Emery, who lasted just over one season before he was sacked in November 2019, while the current Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta finds himself in the spotlight at present.

Ozil referred to Wenger as a “father figure”

Arteta has led the club on their worst start to a league season since 1974, while Ozil has played no part and endures a frosty relationship with the man who has exiled him from the first-team squad.

The German World Cup winner last pulled on an Arsenal shirt in March and claims staff and players at the Emirates are “really missing” Wenger.

Arteta has left the midfielder out of his plans

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Asked whether he considers Wenger a father figure during a Twitter Q&A, Ozil responded : “He was really a fantastic manager – yeah, and also like a father figure for me and many other players… I think many people around Arsenal are really missing him.”

Wenger was one of the key reasons Ozil opted to leave Real Madrid for Arsenal seven-and-a-half years ago in a £42.5million deadline-day transfer.

Ozil had a fantastic relationship with the 71-year-old which could not be further contrast to his current association with Arteta.

Wenger described his former player as an “artist” in a glowing verdict earlier this month. He told ESPN’sCaught Offside podcast. “He was not difficult to manage.

“He was a guy who had a special quality as a creative player and needed to have fun.

“He is an artist and these guys are a bit more sensitive. They need support and an environment that pushes them to give their best.”

Is it too late for Mikel Arteta and Mesut Ozil to repair their relationship? Have your say here.

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Emmanuel Frimpong tells Arsenal to bring back Wenger to sort out club crisis

Former Arsenal midfielder Emmanuel Frimpong has urged the Gunners to reappoint Arsene Wenger as manager to rectify the club’s gloomy predicament.

Arsenal have won just one of their last 10 Premier League games and sit 15th in the table, four points above the drop zone and on the cusp of a relegation battle.

There was yet more bad news for the Gunners as they were soundly beaten 4-1 at the Emirates by Manchester City in Tuesday night’s Carabao Cup quarter-final.

The result led to even greater speculation on Mikel Arteta’s future as Arsenal manager ahead of another challenging clash against fifth-place Chelsea on Boxing Day.

Wenger led Arsenal to three Premier League titles and seven FA Cups

Arteta enjoyed a fantastic first season as Gunners boss, leading the club to FA Cup glory just eight months after his appointment last December.

He also overcame Premier League champions Liverpool to clinch the Community Shield, but results this campaign mean his future hangs in the balance.

Frimpong – who graduated from Arsenal’s academy in 2011 – hopes Arteta can turn things around in north London, but admitted he would “take Arsene back”.

Wenger managed Arsenal for 22 seasons, winning 10 major honours, and Frimpong claims his experience and stature would help lift the Gunners out of their current slump.

“I hope it does work out with Mikel, but I would take Arsene back due to his experience,” the former Ghana international told PlayOJO .

“He has the capability of bringing very good players in because he has the respect and he would attract very good players.

“However, I don’t think Arsene has any intention of coming back to Arsenal as a manager.

“We just need to move forward we what we have and that is Mikel and I believe he is good enough for the job.”

Should Arsenal turn to Arsene Wenger to arrest their slide? Have your say here.

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Arsenal legends have given Arteta most damning indication of Gunners’ decline

When Arsenal stormed to the 2003/04 Premier League title without losing a single game, they were English football’s glamour club.

They had already won the double twice under Arsene Wenger, and the only thing that eluded them was Champions League glory.

Even in Europe, they reached the final in 2006, losing out to Barcelona but signalling their ongoing status amongst the best teams in world football.

But, gradually, the Gunners have slipped away to the point where they have now hit rock bottom under Mikel Arteta.

Many consider their current predicament – sitting five points off the relegation zone – as a low point for the famous north London club.

Arsenal are experiencing a dismal spell and are just five points off the relegation zone

And the recent comments of several club legends show anger has turned to apath which sums up how far removed the current side are from the great Arsenal teams of the past.

Speaking on Sky Sports after Arsenal’s 1-0 defeat to Burnley, Patrice Evra let slip record goalscorer Thierry Henry’s feelings as he claimed he once turned off the TV rather than watch Granit Xhaka lead the side.

“We’re talking about Xhaka, I will tell you a quick story. Thierry Henry one day invited me to his house, he said ‘come Patrice, we’re going to watch the Arsenal game’,” Evra explained.

Patrice Evra let slip what Thierry Henry thinks of his former club, who have declined alarmingly since Arsene Wenger’s departure

“He turned on the TV. The first image we saw on the screen it was Xhaka leading Arsenal, being the captain – Thierry Henry turned off the TV.

“I said ‘What’s happened?’. He said ‘I can’t watch my team and Xhaka being the captain of my team’, and we didn’t watch the game.

“We started talking about many things and he turned off the screen. It tells you everything of what the legends of this club think about him. He again let down his team.”

Henry is far from alone in his feelings of disbelief and frustration at the club.

Emmanuel Petit says “anger has given way to indifference” towards the Gunners in recent months

Emmanuel Petit, who was a key part of the 1997/98 double-winning team, has also moved on to “indifference” to his former club.

“The anger I had has given way to indifference,” he told RMC Sport after their draw with Southampton.

“I try to detach myself from everything as much as possible to avoid losing my head over it… It is a logical response to what has been happening for years now.”

Another former captain, William Gallas, has recently spoken out on the current situation, suggesting the blame lies with manager Mikel Arteta.

William Gallas does not believe Mikel Arteta is the right man to turn things around for the Gunners

Speaking exclusively to Ladbrokes , Gallas said last week: “What’s going on at Arsenal? It’s a question I think everybody has asked this season. I don’t know the answer.

“I think maybe the issue at the moment is that Mikel Arteta is not the right manager. For me he doesn’t have that experience to manage a big club.

“I was surprised when he came in, to be honest – even as Pep Guardiola’s assistant – you need experience as a manager to come in to a club like Arsenal.

“You need to know how to manage 24 players. All the pressure is on your shoulders and you make all the decisions.

“Some players will be upset that they aren’t playing and it’s something you need experience in dealing with.”

It is a damning sign of how times have changed at Arsenal that some key members of their greatest sides have lost patience and come detached from the club.

Their comments offer perhaps the biggest reality check yet for Mikel Arteta regarding the huge task on his hands.

Whilst he is well aware of the history of the club from his time as a player, he has a long way to go to restore the Gunners to former glories.

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Arsenal hero Ray Parlour says Gunners could be relegated if form doesn’t improve

Ray Parlour has warned Arsenal they are in danger of being relegated if they don’t arrest their current poor run of form.

The Gunners’ 1-1 draw against Southampton on Wednesday left Mikel Arteta’s side 15th in the Premier League – just five points above the drop zone.

Arsenal are now winless in six successive top-flight games – four of which were defeats – and have lost seven league games in total as they lurch from one poor result to another.

And Invincibles legend Parlour has warned his former club they are not too good for the drop – referencing Leicester City’s 2015/16 title triumph as an example of football upsetting the odds.

“Someone asked me the question the other day, can they get relegated?” said the 47-year-old, talking to Off The Ball .

Arsenal had to settle for a draw against Southampton after Gabriel was sent off

“I said, ‘well, probably not,’ but then you look at Leicester winning the league at 5,000-1 and they won it – so they can get relegated.

“If they don’t start picking up points and turning it around then there’s a real problem there.”

Arsenal boss Arteta has been under increasing pressure in recent weeks, amid talk of a lack of harmony in the dressing room.

He has also been criticised for freezing out Mesut Ozil with the Gunners having lacked creativity in the midfielder’s absence.

Ray Parlour says if Leicester can win the league, then Arsenal can be relegated

But Parlour believes it’s far too early to talk about sacking the manager.

“I don’t think Arsenal are a sacking club,” said the former midfielder, who made more than 450 appearances for Arsenal and won nine major trophies, including three Premier League titles.

“Mikel Arteta has been around Pep Guardiola and Arsene Wenger – he knows as a player the dressing room is so important.

“If there is a problem, he has to deal with it very quickly. If it does get out of control, the only person to lose their job, it’s not the players, it’s the manager straight away.

“Hopefully he can turn that around and make sure he sorts that out very quickly.”

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FIFA FIFPro Men’s World XI 2020 announced as five Premier League stars are named

Five Premier League stars have been named in the FIFA Best Team of the Year for 2020.

Liverpool are well represented in the all-star line-up with four of their players included.

One of those is Thiago Alcantara, though, who spent most of the year as part of Bayern Munich’s impressive treble-winning side.

Goalkeeper Alisson retains his place in the XI, while Trent Alexander-Arnold and Virgil van Dijk were selected in the back four, alongside Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos and Bayern youngster Alphonso Davies.

Man City talisman Kevin De Bruyne makes up the Premier League contingent, partnering Thiago and his ex-Bayern teammates Joshua Kimmich in midfield.

Trent Alexander-Arnold earned a place in the FIFA FIFPRO Best XI

It was unsurprisingly a case of the usual suspects in attack, as the three players nominated for the main award – Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Robert Lewandowski – lead the line, in a big snub to Champions League finalists Kylian Mbappe and Neymar.

That was arguably a less notable snub than the one to Bayern boss Hansi Flick, who, despite leading his side to three major trophies, was beaten to the Manager of the Year award by defending compatriot Jurgen Klopp.

Alisson’s inclusion in the Team of the Year may also raise a few eyebrows, given Bayern’s Manuel Neuer won the prize for the top goalkeeper in 2020.

The Best XI of the year is voted for by fellow professionals, though, while the individual awards are in the hands of fans, journalists and captains and coaches of national teams.

Former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger was in attendance, and said of the line-up: ““When you are a little child you dream to be the best player in the world in your position and that’s an unbelievable achievement.

Do you agree with the FIFA Best XI? Have your say below.

Man City's Kevin De Bruyne was also included in the all-star line-up
Man City’s Kevin De Bruyne was also included in the all-star line-up

“Look at the front line… my friends, you made me suffer a lot, you all scored goals against my team!”

Lewandowski capped a breath-taking year by pipping both Messi and Ronaldo to the Best Player of the Year award.

Tottenham’s Son Heung-min was also among the night’s winners, topping the poll for this year’s Puskas Award following his mesmerising solo run against Burnley.

Man Utd striker Marcus Rashford too was commended for his tireless campaign fighting against child hunger, receiving the FIFA Foundation award for his remarkable efforts.

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Walcott’s damning comments suggest history is repeating itself at Arsenal

Theo Walcott provided a brutally honest assessment of Arsenal following Southampton’s draw with the Gunners on Wednesday night.

“I felt a lot of fear in Arsenal tonight to be honest,” said Walcott. “They’re going through a very difficult time – credit to them they got the result tonight.

“But it shows how far we’ve come that we’re very disappointed to come away without the three points. We were going into this game with so much confidence, arrogance at times.

“The Emirates has changed but I feel like they’ve got the right man here for the job.”

Arteta was quick to play down the comment, telling reporters: “He never mentioned that to me! If he said that, it is his feeling.

Theo Walcott provided a brutally honest assessment of Arsenal

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“The boys came out in the second half, we scored a really good goal, we were on top in the game, and again we shoot ourselves in the foot.

“I was very disappointed with the red card because in that moment I was thinking to change the centre back straight away – we didn’t even have time to do that.

“In the end we got a point that considering the circumstances we have to accept.”

On the face of things Walcott’s comment doesn’t mean much. As far as Arteta is concerned, the Saints forward’s remark is simply that; a remark.

Mikel Arteta was quick to play down the comment

But the comments are remarkably similar to ones that rocked the Gunners not too long ago, eventually leading to the end of Arsene Wenger’s tenure as boss.

The comments, spoken by Watford striker Troy Deeney, suggested there was a problem with the mentality of the Arsenal players.

“I’ve heard Wenger’s already blaming that [the penalty] as the reason they lost,” Deeney said on BT Sport back in 2017.

“Well, I’m not one to tell Mr Wenger about himself, but the reason they lost wasn’t due to one penalty. Having a bit of cojones, I think the word is.

Arsenal dropped points against Southampton on Tuesday night

“Whenever I play against Arsenal – and this is just a personal thing – I go up and think ‘Let me whack the first one, then we will see who wants it’.

“I came on today and jumped up with [Per] Mertesacker – I didn’t even have to jump up actually – nodded it down and the crowd gets up. They all just backed off.

“For me, as a player, I just think ‘Happy days. That’s my strength, so if you’re going to let me do that against you, you’re in for a tough afternoon.”

Troy Deeney questioned the heart of the Arsenal players back in 2017

Arsenal have come a long way since Wenger stepped down, but the Gunners are going through a very difficult spell at the moment.

The north London club have won just four of 13 matches in the top flight this season, and Arteta needs to take Walcott’s warning on board or he’ll go the same way as his former boss.

Is Mikel Arteta in danger of being sacked? Have your say here.

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