Categories
Sports UK

Five players Chelsea could sign in the January transfer window

Chelsea invested over £200m last summer as they attempted to bridge the gap to Liverpool but more new faces may be needed.

The Blues have won just one of their last five Premier League games and have fallen away at the top.

Pressure is mounting on Frank Lampard who is having to deal with heightened expectations as he presides over a star studded squad.

Chelsea though are by no means perfect and their starting XI is still not set in stone as they continue to seek a winning formula.

Several top players could become available in January and the west Londoners will no doubt be linked with moves.

We take a look at some of the players who could sign for the Blues over the next month.

David Alaba is set to leave Bayern Munich in the summer

David Alaba

The Bayern Munich man is among the most sought after players in Europe.

His contract with the German champions expires in the summer and he can begin negotiating with a new employer.

Alaba’s versatility makes him a huge asset with the Austrian capable of playing across the defence or in midfield.

He would bring with him a champion mentality having achieved huge amounts of success at Bayern.

It is likely to be a case of completing the deal in the coming weeks before he arrives in the summer were Chelsea to pounce.

But whoever secures the 28-year-old’s signature will have a serious player on their hands.

PSG could cash in on the Argentine

Leonardo Paredes

The Blues were linked with the Argentine midfielder back in the Maurizio Sarri days before he opted for a move to PSG.

But Parades’ time in Paris is now in doubt with Thomas Tuchel gone and Mauricio Pochettino poised to replace him.

Chelsea are well stacked in the majority of areas but would be foolish not to consider adding more quality.

Should they still retain an interest in Paredes then a move could be worth pursuing, especially if PSG are willing to accept a cut-price offer in order to get him off the wage bill.

Declan Rice has been linked with a return to Stamford Bridge

Declan Rice

The West Ham star was let go by Chelsea as a boy but they are keen on having him back after seeing him flourish across the capital.

Rice has become a leading light for the Hammers since breaking into the first team.

He has excellent chemistry with current Blue Mason Mount and the pair could forge a midfield partnership that would last for well over a decade.

Chelsea chief Marina Granovskaia is prepared to sanction a move for Rice provided it is their only winter addition, according to the Athletic.

Rice was linked with a summer move as the Blues splashed the cash but remained at the London Stadium.

Isco Alarcon of Real Madrid during the La Liga Santander mach between Valencia and Real Madrid at Estadio de Mestalla on November 8, 2020 in Valencia, Spain (Photo by Maria Jose Segovia/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Isco has struggled for minutes in Spain

Isco

The Spanish playmaker is finding opportunities at Real Madrid hard to come by and a Premier League switch could be on the cards.

Arsenal’s lack of creativity has seen Isco linked with them, but Chelsea could make a swoop.

The 28-year-old is poised to leave on loan for the rest of the season.

Chelsea have not necessarily struggled with creating chances, but as Kai Havertz continues to find his feet another creative influence may not be such a bad idea for Lamaprd.

Ben White

A host of England’s top clubs were linked with the Brighton star before he ended up staying at the Amex.

White’s profile though may mean the Seagulls have to deal with more bids over the next month.

Chelsea’s defence has begun to look a little more settled with Thiago Silva and Kurt Zouma.

Several of the other options, such as Fikayo Tomori and Antonio Rudiger, could seek pastures new though leaving the Blues light at the back.

White’s age also makes him a worthwhile investment, even if he is not seen as a guaranteed starter.

Brighton will want a hefty fee, but the Englishman showed he had all the qualities of a modern day centre-half while at Leeds last season.

Categories
Headline USA Sports USA

Bowl Game Brawl! Punches fly between Mississippi State and Tulsa players after the Armed Forces Bowl

A wild brawl broke out between Mississippi State and Tulsa players following the Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth, Texas on Thursday. 

Tempers boiled over along the sideline after the Bulldogs’ 28-26 win as seemingly everyone jumped into the violent melee. 

Coaches from both teams were seen fruitlessly trying to control their players. 

Bulldogs wide receiver Malik Heath was seen kicking a Tulsa player during the fight and immediately running away from the scene. His Mississippi State teammate, linebacker De’Monte Russell, and Tulsa safety TieNeal Martin also exchanged punches.

However, an exact blow-by-blow synopsis of the fighting might be impossible because nearly every player appeared to be involved in one way or another. 

 

The Mississippi State Bulldogs and Tulsa Golden Hurricane teams fight after Thursday’s game

Tulsa's Reggie Ellis (15) and Mississippi State linebacker Aaron Brule (3) exchange blows

Tulsa’s Reggie Ellis (15) and Mississippi State linebacker Aaron Brule (3) exchange blows

It remains unclear what ignited the fight.  

‘It’s dumb,’ Mississippi State coach Mike Leach said afterwards. ‘The root of it’s dumb, no matter what the root of it is. The root of it’s dumb and the continuation of it’s dumb. I would have that solidly in the category of dumb. 

‘Now where the dumb started, I’m not entirely sure.’  

Leach did say he saw some Tulsa players circled around his team during warmups, but wasn’t sure what, if anything, was said. 

‘I haven’t seen enough film or anything like that to entirely let us off the hook on this thing by any stretch,’ Leach told reporters.  

Tulsa coach Phillip Montgomery did not know what started the fight either, but did say his players were supporting each other. 

‘The one thing I’ll say is our program, our guys, we’re a team that is going to stand up for each other and we’re going to battle,’ Montgomery said. 

‘We talked about faith, family, football and family is going to take care of family. We’re a team that has battled all year long. We battled again today and from that standpoint our guys are going to continue to protect each other and go from there.’ 

Tulsa safety Kendarin Ray may have been injured on Thursday, according to Montgomery, who suggested he ‘may have a concussion.’ 

Mississippi State linebacker De'Monte Russell (9) and Tulsa safety TieNeal Martin (7) fight after time runs out in the Armed Forces Bowl

Mississippi State linebacker De’Monte Russell (9) and Tulsa safety TieNeal Martin (7) fight after time runs out in the Armed Forces Bowl

Coaches, managers, and trainers from both teams were seen struggling to stop the fight

Coaches, managers, and trainers from both teams were seen struggling to stop the fight

Players from both teams were seen punching and kicking each other after Thursday's game

Players from both teams were seen punching and kicking each other after Thursday’s game

Eventually police ran onto the field and managed to break up both teams

Eventually police ran onto the field and managed to break up both teams 

Bulldogs linebacker Aaron Brule gets knocked down by Tulsa offensive lineman Tyler Smith

Bulldogs linebacker Aaron Brule gets knocked down by Tulsa offensive lineman Tyler Smith

A trio of Tulsa players circle around a Mississippi State player, who is being restrained

A trio of Tulsa players circle around a Mississippi State player, who is being restrained 

Tulsa and Mississippi State players trade blows along the Bulldogs sideline on Thursday

Tulsa and Mississippi State players trade blows along the Bulldogs sideline on Thursday 

A helmet-less Dillon Johnson of Mississippi State appears in the middle of Thursday's brawl

A helmet-less Dillon Johnson of Mississippi State appears in the middle of Thursday’s brawl

As for the game, Will Rogers threw one touchdown pass and ran for a score as Mississippi State held off No. 24 Tulsa 28-26 on a rainy Thursday afternoon.

Emmanuel Forbes had a 90-yard interception return for a touchdown and Lideatrick Griffin, who caught Rogers’ touchdown pass, contributed 138 kickoff return yards to help the Bulldogs (4-7) overcome a sluggish offensive performance that produced just 270 yards.

Zach Smith passed for 347 yards and a touchdown, but threw two crucial interceptions for the Golden Hurricane (6-3).

The Tulsa defense held down the Mississippi State offense even without linebacker Zaven Collins, the Nagurski Award winner as the top defensive player in the country who opted out to focus on the NFL Draft.

The Bulldogs led 7-6 at halftime and Rogers scrambled 13 yards for a touchdown that gave Mississippi State a 14-6 lead.

Deneric Prince answered on the next possession with a 13-yard touchdown run for Tulsa.

The Golden Hurricane was poised to take their first lead of the game, but Forbes made his pick-six against Smith for a 21-13 Mississippi State lead at the end of the third quarter.

Both Tulsa and Mississippi State fans endured a rainy game before watching the brawl

Both Tulsa and Mississippi State fans endured a rainy game before watching the brawl 

A botched punt by Mississippi State gave Tulsa a first down at the Bulldogs’ 32-yard line and nine plays later Corey Taylor II ran 5 yards for a touchdown. A two-point pass went incomplete, leaving MSU with a 21-19 lead with 12:30 remaining.

Rogers threw a 13-yard touchdown to Griffin to increase the lead to 28-19 with 8:01 left.

Smith drove the Golden Hurricane to the Bulldogs’ 6, but was intercepted by Tyrus Wheat before directing Tulsa to his 15-yard touchdown pass to Keylon Stokes with 1:23 left. Stokes had nine catches for 117 yards.

Griffin returned the opening kickoff 53 yards to the Tulsa 39-yard line.

Three plays later Jo’Quavious Marks ran 28 yards for a 7-0 Bulldogs lead that lasted through the end of the first quarter.

Zack Long made field goals of 27 and 33 yards to pull the Golden Hurricane within 7-6 at halftime.

A view of fans sitting in the rain during the game between the Mississippi State Bulldogs and the Tulsa Golden Hurricane at Amon G. Carter Stadium, where attendance was limited

A view of fans sitting in the rain during the game between the Mississippi State Bulldogs and the Tulsa Golden Hurricane at Amon G. Carter Stadium, where attendance was limited 

Categories
Sports UK

Man City players to take further Covid-19 tests in hope of preventing outbreak

Manchester City will begin retesting their squad for coronavirus on Tuesday in the hope they have acted quickly enough to prevent a widespread outbreak of the disease.

City’s Premier League match at Everton on Monday night was called off just four hours before kick-off, a decision that prompted the Toffees to request “full disclosure” from the League of all the information submitted by their opponents which led to the postponement.

City closed their training complex on Monday after reporting “a number of positive cases”, three days after Kyle Walker and Gabriel Jesus tested positive and were forced to isolate.

Their submission for their fixture at Goodison Park to be called off was accepted at a hastily-arranged board meeting – much to the frustration and disappointment of Everton who were only informed late in the process.

Manchester City’s training ground is in lockdown following a coronavirus outbreak

With Goodison Park one of only two top-flight grounds – Anfield being the only other in tier two – to be able to accommodate spectators, the club were prepared for the arrival of 2,000 fans, only to be forced to cancel arrangements at the last minute.

“Whilst Everton will always have public safety uppermost, we will be requesting full disclosure of all the information that Manchester City provided to the Premier League so the club can be clear on why this decision was taken,” said an Everton statement.

City insist they took the decision to prevent further transmission within the squad.

“With the security of the bubble compromised, there posed a risk that the virus could spread further amongst the squad, the staff and potentially beyond,” said a City statement.

City’s game against Everton scheduled for Tuesday was called off

“Based on strong medical advice, the Premier League, in consultation with both clubs, has decided to postpone the fixture.”

City will continue to test players throughout the week in the hope Sunday’s trip to play Chelsea at Stamford Bridge can go ahead.

While player safety remains the priority, rescheduling postponed fixtures in an already congested programme is something they want to avoid.

They are already one match behind most of their rivals as their home fixture against Aston Villa was postponed at the start of the season due to their delayed return after Champions League involvement in August.

The likes of midfielder Rodri were pictured leaving the training ground

Everton has now been added to the list, with the real possibility the Chelsea game, and potentially their Carabao Cup semi-final at neighbours Manchester United on Wednesday, could also follow.

Competition rules allow for the last-four tie to be rearranged and, as the final has been pushed back to April, there is more room for manoeuvre.

City play every weekend and midweek between now and February 6 but would then potentially have two spare midweeks to fit in the Everton game and, if they had to be rearranged too, either the Chelsea match or the Carabao Cup semi-final.

The Champions League restarts for City on February 24 with a trip to Germany to face Borussia Monchengladbach.

It is unclear when City will be able to return to action

However, progress in the FA Cup could bump some Premier League matches (the weekend of January 23 and a midweek slot commencing Monday, February 8) further down the line for rescheduling.

With City already six points behind defending champions Liverpool, who have the chance to extend that gap at Newcastle on Wednesday, that would not be an ideal situation for Pep Guardiola.

Categories
Sports UK

23 ex-Chelsea players still playing in the Premier League including Man Utd pair

Chelsea boast a whopping 23 former players currently plying their trade in the Premier League across 15 different clubs.

The Blues are well known for having one of the most successful youth recruitment systems, though only a select few actually make it to the first team.

There are also some older heads who are still sniffing around the top flight, having been a huge success at Stamford Bridge.

Here is a list in alphabetical order of their club of the 23 ex-Chelsea players currently playing in the Premier League.

Interestingly, Arsenal have the most ex-Chelsea players in their squad, including former youth player Eddie Nketiah, as well as experienced Brazilian pair Willian and David Luiz.

Experienced Brazilian pair Willian and David Luiz now play for Arsenal

Aston Villa snapped up winger Bertrand Traore from Lyon in the summer, who joined Chelsea as a teenager.

Tariq Lamptey also joined Brighton in the most recent transfer window in pursuit of regular first team football.

You could be forgiven for forgetting the next one played for Chelsea – Burnley’s Jack Cork, who is now 31 and has enjoyed a long career in the Premier League.

Crystal Palace still have veteran defender Gary Cahill on their books, as well as ex-Blues youth player Patrick van Aanholt.

Patrick Bamford took the ball past Edouard Mendy as he scored for Leeds
Patrick Bamford recently scored against his former club for Leeds

Newly promoted Fulham have Michael Hector to thank in part for their rise, while Ola Aina is currently on loan at Craven Cottage, having left Chelsea last year.

Patrick Bamford is currently faring much better for Leeds than he did Chelsea in the Premier League, while Ian Poveda was part of the same age group as Rhian Brewster and Reece James before joining a host of other clubs.

The one that got away for Chelsea – Mohamed Salah has been one of the best players in the world since joining Liverpool.

Few have forgotten that Mohamed Salah used to play for Chelsea

Scratch that, this man has been even better since leaving the Blues, Kevin de Bruyne’s talent has been arguably unrivalled in recent years, while ex-Chelsea defender Nathan Ake joined Manchester City in the summer.

Manchester United still have Nemanja Matic and Juan Mata on their books – two arguable legends for Chelsea – and they still do a job at Old Trafford.

Christian Atsu has been with Newcastle since 2017 when he parted ways with Chelsea after becoming another of their failed projects.

Better known for his time at Liverpool, Sheffield United’s Rhian Brewster isn’t faring too well at his new club.

Chelsea released Declan Rice as a youngster

It has been a hectic season so far – so make sure you don’t miss a single thing by signing up for the brilliant new Mirror Football newsletter!

All the latest transfer news and big stories will land straight into your inbox. You won’t miss out.

To sign up, put your email at the top of this article or follow the instructions on this link.

Ryan Bertrand played a fair few games for Chelsea before falling by the way side, Oriel Romeu suffered a similar fate, and both have settled well at Southampton.

Branislav Ivanovic made an unexpected return to English football with West Brom in the summer. A Chelsea legend, it’s fair to say.

He keeps being linked with a return after continuing to impress at West Ham – will Declan Rice make the move back across London one day?

Categories
Sports UK

Jose Mourinho openly questions Tottenham players’ ambition after draw at Wolves

Jose Mourinho questioned his players’ ambition after Tottenham blew another late lead.

Tottenham boss Mourinho admitted he was frustrated after letting two valuable points slip when Romain Saiss grabbed an 86th minute winner to cancel out Tanguy Ndombele’s first minute goal.

It was another cruel lesson for Spurs who conceded late at Liverpool and at Crystal Palace before another late setback at Molineux.

Mourinho said: “One point against Wolves normally wouldn’t be a bad result because they are a strong opponent. But scoring in the first minute and having 89 minutes to score more, there’s a sense of felling frustrated.

Jose Mourinho hit out at his side

“I know the way I prepare the team, I know all that and don’t want to say much more than that. We didn’t have that ambition or desire to go for more.

“You know the way I work. It’s not for me to talk to you about it. I know my team and my players better than anyone.

“I am frustrated with the result, we had control of the game, we had 89 minutes to score more goals and we didn’t. It’s not just about not scoring but also not being dangerous and ambitious and for me that’s the problem.

“Of course we can go back to corners, and say at Liverpool we should win and we lost with a corner, we can say here we should win and drew with a corner…. the other direction is to score in the first minute. You have 89 minutes to score more and didn’t.

Tottenham were pegged back late on and dropped two points

“Of course it’s a concern but it’s more of a concern the fact we score early goals and don’t kill matches… you must have a go and it’s as simple as that.”

Wolves last gasp hero Saiss added: “We can be disappointed today because we started the game and conceded a poor goal. We can avoid this kind of goal. After it’s harder when you play a team like Tottenham to come back.

“But we controlled the game and even with the draw, I think we deserved more. That’s a good mentality, we have to keep it for the next few games and avoid these kind of goals.”

Wolves boss Nuno added: “I am very proud of the players in the way they kept going. We deserved it.”

Categories
Football UK

Azpilicueta’s angry outburst at Arsenal players overheard at the Emirates

Cesar Azpilicueta certainly made his frustrations known as Chelsea went down at Arsenal.

The Spanish defender was left on the bench for the London derby which the Blues lost 3-1.

Their performance was well below par and means they slipped to a third defeat in four Premier League games.

Arsenal were good value for their win but the visitors did briefly threaten a late rally when Tammy Abraham scored with five minutes left.

Chelsea needed to up the ante but the Gunners pulled out all the stops to slow the game down.

Pablo Mari went down to receive treatment which was all too much for Azpilicueta.

Cesar Azpilicueta was not happy with Arsenal’s players

“Another one on the floor,” the Spaniard was heard shouting from the stands.

Chelsea did win a late penalty when Mason Mount was scythed down but Jorginho had his effort saved by Bernd Leno.

The damage had already been done however by a rampant Arsenal who went in 2-0 up at half-time.

Alexandre Lacazette scored from the spot before Granit Xhaka smashed home a free-kick.

Bukayo Saka hammered home their advantage with a third shortly after the restart and Frank Lampard felt his side gave themselves a mountain to climb.

Chelsea were outclassed in north London

“It wasn’t good enough,” said the Blues boss.

“We fought in the second half but in the first half we gave ourselves too much to do. The players who came on added speed energy and intensity.

“I’ll take responsibility on the outside but the players also have to take responsibility. The message was clear – Arsenal are a dangerous team.

“When you go out and play 60 or 70 per cent then you’re not going to win any games

“I am angry because I want us to win games. It was an opportunity to go second. You get what you deserve.”

Categories
Football USA NFL

Fantasy football: Players to start, sit for NFL Week 16

The Post’s Drew Loftis evaluates all the relevant fantasy football news ahead of Week 16 of the 2020 NFL season.

Big Weeks

Leonard Fournette RB, Buccaneers, at Lions (Sat. only: FanDuel $7,000/DraftKings $5,500)

The Lions are so bad defending against fantasy RBs, they give up nine more PPR points per game at the position than the league average, and 1.5 more than the next-worst team (Texans).

Darrell Henderson Jr. RB, Rams, at Seahawks (FD $5,600/DK $4,500)

Will get increased volume with Cam Akers out. Play him over the James Conner/Wayne Gallman types, not ahead of the Melvin Gordon, Le’Veon Bell or Gio Bernard group.

Jeff Wilson Jr. RB, 49ers, at Cardinals (Sat. only: FD $6,000/DK $5,000)

Speaking of players to slot in ahead of Henderson, add Wilson to the list. We don’t expect him to get all the San Fran carries, but we do expect him the get most as well as, and most importantly, the goal-line carries.

Antonio Brown WR, Buccaneers, at Lions (Sat. only: FD $6,600/DK $5,300)

With the Lions’ coaching staff in disarray, a Tampa Bay playoff spot to clinch and we envision a desire to get the Tom Brady-AB connection firm before the postseason, and we see a strong Flex play here.

Chris Carson
Chris Carson
Getty Images

Small Weaks

Chris Carson RB, Seahawks, vs. Rams (FD $7,100/DK $6,400)

He has battled a foot injury for much of the season and hasn’t shown the power or pop he had in the past. Now faces a stout Rams defense that will be angry after an embarrassing loss to the Jets.

Ezekiel Elliott RB, Cowboys, vs. Eagles (FD $7,000/DK $6,700)

Questionable with a calf problem. If he plays, don’t use him, he could be limited and/or share carries with Pollard. If he doesn’t play, Pollard is a must-start in virtually any fantasy format.

Diontae Johnson WR, Steelers, vs. Colts (FD $6,700/DK $6,300)

Beyond our immediate concerns regarding the recent struggles of the Steelers offense in general, we tend to look upon with disfavor which receiver is coming off a big game. This week, that is Diontae.

Corey Davis WR, Titans, at Packers (FD $7,200/DK $6,100)

We’ve been on the Corey bandwagon for a while, but Tennessee has a built-in incentives to lean on the run — Packers have decent pass D, a weak run D, and controlling the clock keeps Aaron Rodgers off the field.

Fantasy Insanity Daily Duel

Site: FanDuel

Slate: main (10 games)

Entry: $5

Pot: $50K

Top prize: $5K

Drew’s Crew

QB: Baker Mayfield (Cle, at NYJ) $7,600

RB: David Montgomery (Chi, at Jac) $7,800

RB: Austin Ekeler (LAC, vs. Den) $7,000

WR: Jarvis Landry (Cle, at NYJ) $6,500

WR: CeeDee Lamb (Dal, vs. Phi) $6,000

WR: Cooper Kupp (LAR, at Sea) $6,800

TE: Logan Thomas (Was, vs. Car) $6,000

Flex: Travis Kelce (KC, vs. Atl) $8,800

DEF: Bengals (Cin, at Hou) $3,200

Wilk’s Warriors

QB: Baker Mayfield (Cle, at NYJ) $7,600

RB: David Montgomery (Chi, at Jac) $7,800

RB: Darrell Henderson Jr. (LAR, at Sea) $5,600

WR: Diontae Johnson (Pit, vs. Ind) $6,700

WR: Alshon Jeffery (Phi, at Dal) $5,300

WR: D.J. Moore (Car, at Was) $7,200

TE: Noah Fant (Den, at LAC) $6,200

Flex: Travis Kelce (KC, vs. Atl) $8,800

DEF: Washington (Was, vs. Car) $4,800

Follow @NYPost_Loftis and @NYPost_Roto on Twitter for any late roster changes.

Season risked: $120

Winnings: Jarad $100, Drew $100

Categories
Football UK

Wright says only two Arsenal players understand the dire situation club is in

Arsenal legend Ian Wright says there are only a couple of the club’s players who are aware of the dire situation the Gunners are in as they continue to languish near the foot of the table.

Mikel Arteta’s side are spending Christmas in 15th after a disappointing run of form that also included a 4-1 defeat to Manchester City in the Carabao Cup on Tuesday.

The Gunners face key fixtures over the festive period as they entertain Chelsea in a London derby on Boxing Day, before back-to-back trips to two of the few clubs below them in the table, Brighton and West Brom.

With Arsenal usually up the other end of the table and challenging for the European places, Wright is looking for characters who have the experience of battling their way out of tough positions.

Wright is concerned that Arsenal don’t have the knowhow to turn around their form

“What Arsenal fans have to recognise at the moment is where we are,” he said on  Optus Sport’s The Kelly and Wrighty Show.

“It’s the realisation of where we’ve also got to look at the players in the dressing room. Do they realise what’s going on?

“I watched Burnley beat Wolves the other day and it was a performance from a team who know where they are.

“And this is what I’m saying with Arsenal, there’s not many players… I think [Pierre-Emerick] Aubameyang in Jurgen Klopp’s last season at Borussia Dortmund might have been flirting with it but they got out of it at the end, no problem.

Klopp and Aubameyang struggled in the 2014/15 season

“I think Cedric Soares at Southampton had a time where they were struggling but there’s not many in that dressing room that know about the situation they’re now facing.”

Aubameyang was part of Klopp’s Dortmund side which sat bottom of the Bundesliga more than halfway through the 2014/15 season before they recovered to finish seventh, with the manager leaving that summer and joining Liverpool a few months later.

Right-back Cedric, meanwhile, was part of the Southampton sides which finished 17th in the Premier League in 2017/18 and 16th in 2018/19.

Where will Arsenal finish this season?  Have your say in the comments below

Sign up for the Mirror Football newsletter  here

Categories
Sports UK

Wright slams Arteta for picking three Arsenal players who “aren’t contributing”

Ian Wright has questioned why Mikel Arteta is keeping faith in the same Arsenal players despite the club’s struggles this season.

The Gunners are spending Christmas Day in 15th place in the Premier League table, and they face a tough Boxing Day all-London clash against Chelsea.

Arteta is enduring some the worst form of any manager in the club’s illustrious history, but Wright says the Spaniard isn’t making life easier for himself ahead of a crunch period of matches.

After Chelsea, the Gunners face crunch away games at Brighton and West Brom which could see them move away from the danger zone, or become further embroiled in it.

Wright wants Arteta to change his approach for the forthcoming matches, starting by axing some big names.

The Gunners are in the midst of some of their worst form in decades

“I have to say, from my point of view, with the manager and the players he’s picking now, I think people like Emile Smith Rowe and Joe Willock and those guys, I’d like to see them have a chance,” he said on Optus Sport’s The Kelly and Wrighty Show.

“That’s simply because you’re looking at the Willians, it’s not happening and he’s not playing well. Why are you playing people like Kolasinac? Why are you playing someone like Mustafi?

“I’d rather see [William] Saliba who is playing in the Under-23s, I’d rather see Smith Rowe and I’d rather see something different.

Wright wants Arteta to stop picking three players

“I would say to the people upstairs: give Mesut Ozil the money if you’re not going to play him and move him on. Same with Kolasinac and same with those players that are in and around the club and aren’t going to contribute.

“That’s what he needs, players who are contributing. Arsenal have to realise they’re in a situation that can get worse and if they do lose those games against Brighton and West Brom… those games are must-win games.”

Where will Arsenal finish this season?  Have your say in the comments below

Sign up for the Mirror Football newsletter  here

Categories
Sports UK

Arteta divides players into categories as he battles Arsenal dressing room split

Mikel Arteta has issued an Arsenal rallying cry that suggests he accepts he is battling a dressing room split.

“You have two types of players – fighters and victims,” the rookie Gunners boss said.

“You just want fighters. You don’t need victims. Victims bring excuses, negativity. They start to blame things that happen around them.

“You need people who give everything for the cause in these moments. Do I have enough fighters? Yes I do. But some of them can doubt at any moment.”

Mirror Sport revealed, at the weekend, the extent of the mutinous internal rifts that have left the north London giants four points off the relegation zone. The stats make for harrowing reading ahead of the Carabao Cup quarter-final at home to Manchester City.

Arteta is desperate to turn Arsenal around

Arsenal have gone seven games without a win, scoring just three in that time. In fact, they’ve scored just 12 Premier League goals all season – even struggling Fulham have scored more. Only the bottom three have scored fewer.

Fair play to Arteta for still believing. And for the club for believing in him.

His players? Clearly more uncertain.

“There are people that are very contagious and can transmit a certain level of energy,” he said, in an acknowledgement of the dressing room splits which have undermined his efforts to rebuild.

“When you have a lot of them it is very easy.

The Gunners boss wants to see his players come out fighting

“You always have some on one side, some in the middle and some completely on board. And then you have to drag as many people as you can into your side, to the fighting side.

“The ones that are not interested or unable to do it, they have to stay behind because if not, they are pulling us right back.

“Some of them can doubt in any moment, you know, because when you find yourself in this situation, you are tempted to go to the other side.

“You start to say, ‘We’ve scored an own goal’, or ‘We cannot play with 10 men’, or ‘We don’t have the crowd’ or ‘The referee made this decision’. But I’m sorry, we don’t need any of those.”

Arsenal sit 15th. In utter disarray. Even if they win against City and go on to win the whole thing, does anyone seriously think it will act as a consolation for the Gunners’ shambolic league form?

Arteta is eyeing a win over former club City

In fact, the only thing Arteta has managed to get right in recent weeks is the scale of the crisis.

“Ken Friar, the club President, has been here longer than anybody – 70 years,” he said.

“He told me, ‘Mikel, it is not one of the more challenging years in Arsenal’s history – believe me, I’ve been here 70 years – it is the most challenging and difficult year in Arsenal’s history’.

“The results now in the Premier League are taking a gloss off what we’ve done for sure, and we have to accept them because there is now a negativity around the team. We cannot deny that.”

The promise of last season’s FA Cup win is now a distant memory. Arteta has been let down by big names and superstar players, some of whom have had their form desert them, some of whom are no longer good enough.

Should Arsenal sack Arteta? Have your say in the comments below

Sign up for the Mirror Football newsletter here