Arsenal and the one-man team myth

Picture from Sky Sports

Saturday’s win at Carrow Road was Arsenal’s fifth straight Premier League victory and continued a fine series of games that has seen them look comfortable against teams who, a few weeks ago, commenters were saying they should be beating with ease.

They managed to finally break down Stoke and edged past Bolton before easing past West Brom and comfortably beating Norwich at the weekend – smashing Chelsea 5-3 in the middle of it all.

An early Per Mertesacker mistake could have derailed Arsene Wenger’s side on Saturday as Steve Morison scored after 16 minutes but two goals from Robin Van Persie secured the points for the Gunners.
Their last defeat came at the hands of rivals Tottenham at the beginning of October and, despite some defensive issues – Mertesacker should have coped better yesterday although, as many have pointed out, a shorter player could have dealt with the danger with more ease – the team, including the summer recruits, seems to be settling down.
The only side in the League who are in a better run of form than Arsenal are the unstoppable Manchester City. Arsenal, in the 12 games they have played this season, have scored 25 goals: only the two Manchester clubs have scored more.
Of course, a large proportion of those goals have come from one indomitable source in the shape of Robin Van Persie. 13, to be precise, taking the Dutchman’s tally for this calendar year to 31. Arsenal’s second top goalscorer in the League is Gervinho with two goals to his name.
Such a fantastic record has lead many to go down the slightly ignorant route of declaring that Arsenal are a one-man team, if such a thing exists. One would hope that, by this term, criticisers would mean that Arsenal are heavily dependent on Van Persie rather than a more literal kind of disapproval.
Arsenal are reliant on Van Persie, just as Liverpool are reliant on Luis Suarez, Manchester United are reliant on Wayne Rooney and Barcelona are reliant on Xavi (or Iniesta, or Messi). It is also true that Arsenal would be a worse team without Van Persie; of course they would be. Look at any club in the world, take away their best player and they will indeed by a team that isn’t as good as they were before.
But having one player who is the focal point of the team is not the same as being a one-man team, or even vaguely similar. Van Persie has scored more than half of Arsenal’s goals – but then someone has to give him the ball to score those goals.
Theo Walcott put in one of his best Arsenal performances on Saturday and is enjoying a fantastic season on the right-wing, while Gervinho – despite a wasteful showing at the weekend – looks a class act on the opposite wing. The attacking three behind Van Persie seems to be working well for Arsenal, with Aaron Ramsey also having a fantastic season.
It is Mikel Arteta, though, who proves to be just as key to Arsenal’s side as Van Persie does. His ability to hold on to the ball and rarely give away possession (an average pass completion rate of 90.5% over nine games) is almost dwarfed by the amount of defence-splitting, key passes he makes per game (2.3). He may not be a direct and all-conquering replacement for Cesc Fabregas, but Arteta is proving himself to be a superb buy at just £10 million.
Arteta has just the one assist this season but Gervinho has got five, with Ramsey getting four, as has Alex Song – usually something of a peripheral figure, sometimes a distinctly average defensive midfielder, but absolutely sublime against Norwich. 
Even players who were being ridiculed weeks ago are now showing themselves to be more than competent. Mertesacker clearly lacks pace but his ability to read the game at a Premier League speed is improving and his robustness in the air is something that has been required at Arsenal for a while now, especially with Thomas Vermaelen out injured.
The Belgian has now returned though and Lorient Koscielny also looks very impressive – all of a sudden, Arsenal have three excellent centre-backs. Add all of that to the fact that they also boast one of the best goalkeepers in the league in Wojciech Szczęsny and it makes the ‘one-man team’ argument look even more flawed.
Arsenal, like every other football club, rely on much more than just the goals of one player – but viewers of football see one player score a lot of goals and equate that with him being the only player who does anything. It’s how a player can score two goals but be outshone by the wizard on the wing – only to be awarded man-of-the-match after the game. Goals are not everything.

This article was originally posted on The Football Front.

Premier League weekend review: Superb form of Arsenal and Newcastle continues

Mikel Arteta celebrates (picture from Yahoo)
The main story this week was, of course, Sir Alex Ferguson’s 25th Anniversary as Manchester United manager. Sunderland’s (and former-United defender) Wes Brown gave Fergie the perfect present, heading into his own net from a Nani corner to score what proved to be the only goal in a dire game.

In truth, there were more important on-pitch matters this weekend in games that didn’t involve Manchester United.
For instance, yesterday saw Arsenal stroll to a comfortable victory which leaves them seventh in the table. Granted, West Brom sat back and offered very little but, as the old cliché goes, you can only beat what is in front of you. And, thanks to Robin Van Persie’s close-range finish (11 goals in 11 games, now), Thomas Vermaelen’s thumping header and Mikel Arteta’s drive from the edge of the box, they did.
The Vermaelen/Lorient Koscielny partnership may not have been really tested on Saturday but is, potentially, a brilliant pairing. Carl Jenkinson was also impressive at right-back, while Aaron Ramsey is beginning to become more of a Cesc-replacement than the man who was presumably brought in to do such a job – Arteta.
The win means that Arsenal haven’t lost a game since the start of October (the 2-1 loss in the London derby) and have only lost three matches since the 8-2 thrashing from Manchester United at the end of August. The Gunners have Norwich, Fulham and then a crunch match with Manchester City next – with Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League in between – but maybe, just maybe, Arsenal really have turned a corner.
If Arsenal have turned the corner, Newcastle have sped round a bend, accelerated past everyone on the motorway and then climbed the impossible hill at great speed – because their current form is magnificent.
Unbeaten in the League this season and currently sitting third in the table, the Toon squeezed past Everton on Saturday, with Fabricio Coloccini putting in yet another superb performance at the heart of their defence. Full-back Ryan Taylor scored a storming volley after John Heitinga’s own goal and, despite Everton pushing hard and getting one back just before half-time through Jack Rodwell, Alan Pardew’s side held on for their seventh win of the season.
As mentioned in the Sunday preview, Owen Coyle has been under some intense pressure recently after a string of poor results and performances. Wanderers, though, recorded their second victory in six games at home to Stoke as they smashed five goals past a clearly tired Potters side.
Asmir Begovic had a bit of a nightmare in goal but Chris Eagles – a player who has also come in for criticism from his own fans – put in a superb performance, scoring twice. Ivan Klasnic also scored two, while Kevin Davies notched his second league goal of the season. Bolton remain in the relegation zone but are the only team in the bottom seven to record a win this weekend. Stoke drop to 12th, with that away trip to Israel clearly adding extra fatigue to a squad which already looks quite stretched anyway.
Manchester City also seemed to struggle after their European game midweek, only just managing to beat QPR at Loftus Road. The two megabucks sides battled out what turned out to be the most entertaining game of the weekend for the neutral, with City lacking in creativity and Rangers flourishing with commitment and extreme desire.
Jay Bothroyd had given the Hoops the lead after half-an-hour but Edin Dzeko scored his 10th goal in nine League appearances just before half-time and David Silva just after it to restore normality. Heidar Helguson equalised from close range with twenty minutes to go but Yaya Toure’s goal, his 3rd in two games, gave City the three points.
Aston Villa haven’t had the most promising of starts to the season – despite, on paper, it appearing not the most challenging either – but another superb display from Gabriel Agbonlahor helped Alex McLeish’s side overcome a resilient Norwich.
The pacey winger made two assists – one from the left, one from the right, both of the highest quality – with Darren Bent the beneficiary, finishing well on both occasions. Agbonlahor also grabbed a goal himself, chasing down a poor back pass and slotting home with ease. Goals from Steve Morison and a stunning free-kick from Anthony Pilkington were not enough for the Canaries, who still sit 9th in the table after an impressive start. Villa are 8th.
With Arsenal proving to be so impressive in recent weeks the race for fourth now looks a lot more open. Swansea held Liverpool to a 0-0 draw at Anfield, with Kenny Dalglish’s side failing to win at Anfield for the 3rd successive game, thanks largely to a late wonder save from Swansea ‘keeper Michael Vorm.
Tottenham, though, stormed past Fulham, although a Jermain Defoe 90th minute goal was appreciated by Spurs fans everywhere after intense pressure deep into added-on time with the score at 2-1. Tottenham are 5th, with a game in hand, level on points with Chelsea and three ahead of Liverpool and Arsenal.
The real relegation contenders may have been sought out this weekend with Wigan and Blackburn putting in appalling performances against Wolves and Chelsea respectively. Neither side can defend nor does neither side look particularly promising going forward either. Chelsea, though, only managed to score one – a Frank Lampard header – while Wolves eased to a 3-1 win.
Dave Whelan said last season that he wouldn’t sack Roberto Martinez even if the club were relegated, presumably for stability reasons. He may want to re-think that, though, if performances carry on as they are – because, otherwise, Wigan could be down before the end of the January transfer window.

It’s about time Wenger and Arsenal got real

Today’s 2-0 loss to Liverpool should have come as a surprise to no one – Liverpool are a side on the up, lead by Kenny Dalglish and backed by John W. Henry. Arsenal, on the other hand, look depleted; their problems are clear but their manager, be it through stubbornness or sheer naivety, refuses to budge from his ideology of paying reasonable fees for footballers – it’s commendable, but it’s just not realistic.

On the pitch, Arsenal look inexperienced, have little known-quality in certain areas and are seriously lacking in added options – there doesn’t appear to be any kind of plan b at present. Even on paper, where even fans of the worst teams manage to muster that little bit of optimism, Arsenal look depleted.
Yes they’ve had a pretty horrific time of injuries of late; but beyond Thomas Vermaelen, Johan Djourou and Laurent Koscielny, who else is there to play at centre-back in case of injury? Sébastien Squillaci should be barely seen as the last resort in a Carling Cup match, never mind a back-up first-team member and, while Ignasi Miquel has impressed, the Arsenal defence is far too thin on the ground for Arsenal fans to feel at all comfortable with their squad.
Samir Nasri could, it seems, be set to stay with the club and that would be a monumental boost – but the fact that the club is forced to rely on one player so heavily must be worrying. Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey are fantastic central midfielders but, beyond them? Nothing.
This is nothing new, of course. Arsenal have been linked with a whole host of players this summer: Joey Barton, Thiago Motta, Mathieu Valbuena, Arturo Vidal, Scott Dann, Juan Mata, Jose Enrique, Keisuke Honda, Bojan Krkic, Chris Samba, Charles N’Zogbia, Romelu Lukaku, Falcao, Karim Benzema, Phil Jones, Gary Cahill, Eden Hazard, Scott Parker, Peter Odemwingie, Axel Witsel… the list goes on. And what do all of these players have in common? None of them are Arsenal players.
It’s all well and good Arsene Wenger saying that he has a price for every player and that he will not pay over the odds – in fact, it should be rewarded – but, with every other title-challenger quite comfortably spending money and paying inflated prices, it’s just not going to work, Mr Wenger. If you want to win the title – which I presume you do – you’re going to have to conform to this system that you hate so much. If you don’t, with your current squad, you won’t even make the top four.
Arsenal fans have defended Wenger time and time again over the past few years, clearly very thankful for everything that he has done for the football club, and that should not be forgotten. However, that does not mean that it is perfectly acceptable for him to fail this summer – which he has done, time and time again. Mata, Jones, Lukaku, Witsel – they’ve all slipped Arsenal by because fees could not be matched.
Why? The money-men at Arsenal clearly aren’t that reluctant to spend given that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has been signed for £15 million, as well as Gervinho (£10 million). It’s Wenger who is the reluctant one, sometimes coming across as almost delusional. At the start of the summer he clearly stated that changes were afoot, that players would be brought in and that next season would be different. Now that his failures this summer have become apparent, he’s backtracked quite significantly.
One of the most frequently used (and weakest) defences of Wenger is that his method of buying rough diamonds and making them into world beaters clearly works, as shown with Viera, Henry et al. Fine, it worked in the past, but that’s not to say it will work in the future. Plus, it’s perfectly fine to have a system, but when the system is failing, what’s the point?
If Wenger’s system is working – as some Arsenal fans suggest – then why, with just over ten days of the transfer window to go, have Arsenal still not signed an experienced centre-back or a ‘destroyer’ for the midfield? These are two key problem areas for Arsenal – there are more – yet Wenger hasn’t done anything about them. There’s been a lot of talk, but no concrete action.
To have a system is fine but that system has to work and, currently, Arsene Wenger’s system is not working. These clear failures create unrest and sheer dismay amongst the support which then leads to agitation and, rightly or wrongly, booing inside the stadium. You want the booing to stop? Then spend less time bemoaning the current state of football and more time improving your squad.
Welcome to football in 2011 – it’s ruthless but there is no time to feel sorry for yourself. The clock is ticking, Mr Arsene.

Premier League match-day 35 round-up & Arsenal anger

Premier League Round-up: Matchday 35
The Premier League is wide open once again – both at the top and bottom
A round-up of all the scores and scorers from the Premier League, matchday 35.

The Premier League is seemingly open at both ends and, as I’m sure you can probably envisage, that’s not very pleasant. With three games to go any three of eleven teams could be relegated, while Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United could all still be crowned champions. For innocent onlookers this makes for pure excitement but, for anyone involved with the clubs concerned, it’s all about the end-of-season nerves.

Two controversial Chelsea goals helped them to overcome London rivals Tottenhamto keep the pressure on Manchester United while Spurs all-but-kissed goodbye to that lucrative fourth spot.  Brazilian midfielder Sandro had given Harry Redknapp’s side the lead with a cracking 25 yard effort but, with Carlo Ancelotti’s team piling on the pressure and Tottenham goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes pulling off some fine saves in the first half, it was only a matter of time before Chelsea got off the mark.
Chelsea did finally score on the stroke of half-time, as Frank Lampard’s dipping shot was flapped at by Gomes who let the ball slip through his legs and, according to the assistant referee, over the line. The evidence is pretty much inconclusive as to whether the ball had crossed the line or not but fresh appeals for goal-line technology could be heard post-match, with Redknapp questioning the lack of technology in the game, labelling the Chelsea win as “lucky”. Salomon Kalou scored a late winner from six yards out, and seemingly from an offside position, his third goal in four games, to claim all three points for Chelsea.
Manchester United knew, then, that they had to win because otherwise next Sunday’s encounter with Chelsea would be seen as the title decider. Arsenal, though, were looking to claim just their second League win since the beginning of Mach and, thanks to an Aaron Ramsey goal, their admittedly-slim title hopes were kept alive.
Chelsea youngster Gael Kakuta helped Fulhamto power past Sunderland at the Stadium of Light to leave The Black Cats dangerously above the relegation zone, while Mark Hughes’ side now look set for a top ten finish. Kakuta gave The Cottagers the lead just after the half-hour mark, stumbling home after sloppy Sunderland defending, while a Simon Davies double helped round off the victory. Sunderland did have their chances, Lee Cattermole, Sulley Muntari and Stephane Sessegnon all going close, but it was ultimately their defending that resigned them to their fourteenth defeat of the season.
The relegation battle is too close to call at the minute and results at Ewood Park and The DW Stadium didn’t make it any easier, Blackburn beating a lacklustre Bolton1-0 thanks to a fine Jonas Olsson strike while Wigan claimed a point against Everton, a late Leighton Baines penalty cancelling out Charles N’Zogbia’s fine finish. Blackpool also gained a point although it could have been a lot worse had Kenwyne Jones not missed an open goalfrom inside the area for Stoke. 0-0 the final score there.
The relegation zone currently consists of Wigan, Wolves and West Ham who all failed to win this weekend. West Ham surrendered to a 2-1 away defeat to Manchester City with Nigel De Jong and Pablo Zabaleta scoring for City and Demba Ba for West Ham. Wolves took an early lead against fellow strugglers Birminghamthrough a Steven Fletcher penalty, but Sebastian Larsson levelled for The Blues, before Craig Gardner was sent off for two bookable offences.
West Brom confirmed their Premier League status for next year with a superb victory over local rivals Aston Villa, coming from 1-0 down, thanks to a comical Abdoulaye Méïté, to win 2-1, Peter Odemwingie and Youssouf Mulumbu with the goals. Paul Scharner was sent off for Roy Hodgson’s side for two needless fouls, but The Baggies now lie just outside the top ten, with Villa still not quite safe of relegation, just six points above the drop-zone.
Liverpool recorded another comfortable victory to leave Kenny Dalglish’s side in 5thplace, defeating Newcastle 3-0 at home. Liverpool now look set to claim that Europa League spot with Spurs faltering and fourth-placed Manchester City now seven points clear. A scrappy finish from Maxi Rodriguez, his fourth goal in two games, put Liverpool in front within ten minutes, while a second half Dirk Kuyt penalty and a measured Luis Suarez strike sealed the victory.
Matchday 35 results: Chelsea 2-1 Tottenham; Blackburn 1-0 Bolton; Wigan 1-1 Everton; Blackpool 0-0 Stoke; Sunderland 0-3 Fulham; West Brom 2-1 Aston Villa; Arsenal 1-0 Manchester United; Birmingham 1-1 Wolves; Liverpool 3-0 Newcastle; Manchester City 2-1 West Ham.
Matchday 36 fixtures: Aston Villa-Wigan; Bolton-Sunderland; Everton-Manchester City; Newcastle-Birmingham; West Ham-Blackburn; Tottenham-Blackpool; Wolves-West Brom; Stoke-Arsenal; Manchester United-Chelsea; Fulham-Liverpool.

Potential Arsenal ticket price rise angers fans

Arsenal Supporters’ Trust shows opposition to price rises

Loyal Arsenal fans are being “priced out of attending matches”, according to The Arsenal Supporters’ Trust, amid claims of yet more rises.
After yet another season of disappointment and frustration, the last thing a football club needs to do is anger their fans, especially fans that have already had it up to the back teeth with their club’s failings.
With certain sections of Arsenal supporters calling for revolution at the club, with manager Arsène Wenger particularly in the firing line, fans of The Gunners are about to become a whole lot unhappier with the news that ticket prices could increase by up to 6.5% next season.
Arsenal already boast the most expensive season ticket in the country, with £893 being the cheapest and, as 7,000 executive Club Level tickets increasing, the fear is that regular supporters will see their prices rise too.
The Arsenal Supporters’ Trust, the most influential of all the club’s supporters’ groups with over 1000 paying members, are firmly against any increase:
“We first raised this issue in February, when we became aware of the plan to raise ticket prices,” the AST told The London Evening Standard.
Arsenal have had another disappointing season in the English Premier League, currently sitting in 3rd, nine points off leaders Manchester United when, a couple of weeks ago (and throughout most of the season), they were being touted as title challengers, only to drop off right at the end.
The AST, though, insist that this is irrelevant: “Our objection has nothing to do with recent results, and everything to do with our concern that loyal Arsenal fans are being priced out of attending matches. The current economic climate means many fans are suffering.
“Arsenal’s commercial revenue is £50m less than Manchester United, annually. This is the area where the club should prioritise raising extra money, rather than increasing ticket prices.”
Arsenal are in the middle of being taken over by American tycoon Stan Kroenke, currently a majority shareholder, and this news will certainly disconcert many fans, especially as The Black Scarf Movement, another supporters’ group, expressed their concerns that the club is becoming a “faceless corporate monster”.
As The Evening Standard points out, this will be the first time that Arsenal have increased their prices since they moved to The Emirates Stadium in 2007 but that hardly softens the blow.
Are these price increases fair? Arsenal fans, what are your thoughts? Be sure to leave a comment below.

These articles were originally published on sports website Sports Haze but are now not available due to the site shutting down.

Leon Osman, Stan Kroenke and Fulham fury

Has Leon Osman slipped under the England radar?
Leon Osman: England’s forgotten man?
Leon Osman has never made an international appearance despite seven solid seasons with Everton. Is he England’s ‘forgotten man’?

On Saturday, a late Leighton Baines penalty cancelled out two Darren Bent strikes as Everton shared the points with Aston Villa in a dramatic draw at Goodison Park.
The man who gave them the lead in the 38th minute, Leon Osman, put in yet another solid display for the club he has been at since 1997. The 29-year-old, though, is yet to appear for an international side, despite being eligible for Turkey and Cyprus (through his father) and England (through his mother).
Osman, at times, can frustrate the Everton faithful, but his quality is certainly not in question – he’s been compared to Paul Gascoigne in the past and Liverpool’s Joe Cole has stated that Osman was the better talent when they were teammates at England youth level.
Osman can be used both on the right and in the middle, and has even been used on the left, cutting inside onto his favoured right-foot (an ‘inside-out’ winger) and generally causing opposition full-backs problems week-in, week-out.
Everton have struggled this season, with the lack of a genuine, top-quality striker their biggest problem, but Osman has been a consistent source of quality for David Moyes’ side, making nineteen appearances in the Premier League, with five assists and three goals to his name.
The main criticism of Osman is that he can go missing in games, but, surely, Osman is exactly the sort of player England are looking for? He’s a ball-playing, skilful midfielder who can play all across the midfield and is able to use both feet (something which the current crop of English talent is generally lacking and something that other nations have instilled into their players with great ease). He may be diminutive but he does flourish when coming up against big, powerful defenders (against Birmingham, a team notoriously difficult to break down, in October, he was the best player on the pitch as Everton won 2-0).
This season, Osman has started on the left side more than on the opposite wing – seven times to five times, and one in the middle. He’s been used as a box-to-box midfielder in the past and is even useful in a defensive sense when in a side-midfield position, something that could come in handy if he were selected for England, as Fabio Capello prefers to play with attacking full-backs.
In the last England squad, Wolves’ Matt Jarvis, West Ham’s Scott Parker and Osman’s teammate Phil Jagielka were all selected. The argument that Capello only picks players from the so-called ‘big’ teams is nonsense, but, sometimes, it does appear that Capello picks players that are getting rave reviews in the media, as well as succumbing to the pressure of fans and club managers.
Osman is very rarely given any credit for his performances. He might not be a world-beater and he may struggle if put up against a top-quality international full-back. But he’s a hard-working, determined, well-disciplined (he’s never been sent off in the League and has only been booked twenty-one times since his first Everton start in May 2004) and his passing and vision are both excellent.
England and Fabio Capello are still trying to get over the debacle that was the 2010 World Cup and it is a mystery to me how a player who has performed so consistently for so many seasons has seemingly escaped the attention of not only Capello, but the English public too.
Osman has been named Everton’s Player of the Month for March – maybe it’s time to finally give Leon Osman some international recognition.

Fans can ‘go to hell’, says Fulham owner
Fulham fans fury over Michael Jackson statue
Fulham fans are furious with their owner, Mohamed Al-Fayed, who has had a statue of Michael Jackson erected outside Craven Cottage.
Fulham fans have reacted angrily after their owner, Mohamed Al-Fayed, decided that a statue of Michael Jackson should be placed outside their stadium – Craven Cottage.
Al-Fayed, who was good friends with Jackson, infuriated Fulham fans further by claiming thatFulham fans will love it. If some stupid fans don’t understand and appreciate such a gift they can go to hell.
“I don’t want them to be fans. If they don’t understand and don’t believe in things I believe in they can go to Chelsea, they can go anywhere else. People will queue to come and visit it from all over the UK and it is something that I and everybody else should be proud of.”
Fulham message boards were later besieged with posters demonstrating their disgust at what Al-Fayed had said, with one member of a Fulham message board labelling the Egyptian “an arrogant bully”. Another member stated: “I find this very disrespectful and insulting.”
Fulham fan Callum Kerrins told the Fulham Chronicle: “I wrote to the club to complain, not that it will do any good. I feel really let down.” Another fan argued “that at least 90 per cent of Fulham fans are against the statue, yet he wants us to go to hell and support someone else.”
Cottagers fans are clearly not happy, not just with the statue, but with the way Al-Fayed has completely disregarded the thoughts of Fulham fans, as ‘Ash’ told the Chronicle: “[Al-Fayed’s] comments were disgraceful today. I’ve paid so much money to see my team play and you’ve disrespected us all. We are entitled to our opinions. A public apology will be nice. Stop favouring the tourists over the diehards.”
Al-Fayed bought Fulham in 1997 and has seen the London club rise from the Third Division right up to the top flight. Under Roy Hodgson’s tenure, the club reached the Europa League final last year. Whilst Al-Fayed has clearly done an awful lot for Fulham, the fans are obviously unhappy with recent developments.
Fulham fans have set up a petition to try and convince Al-Fayed that the fans do not want the statue and that maybe the owner should think about what the fans actually want, rather than what he wants.
Kroenke makes move for Arsenal
American tycoon in advanced talks with Gunners
American businessman Stan Kroenke is in advanced talks over the takeover of Arsenal, which the Supporters’ Trust have welcomed.
American tycoon Stan Kroenke is in advanced talks to take control of Arsenal, according to Sky Sports.
Kroenke is currently the largest shareholder at the club, owning a twenty-nine per cent stake. If he were to purchase a further 0.09% of the Premier League club Kroenke would have to make a bid for the remainder.
“Uzbek billionaire Alisher Usmanov also has more than a 20 per cent stake in the club – but now Kroenke has made a move to secure full control”, says Sky Sports. “Sky sources understand that Kroenke has come to an agreement with fellow shareholders Danny Fiszman and Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith to purchase their shares.”
Both own 16% of Arsenal and, therefore, if Kroenke were to confirm those deals, a takeover bid would be triggered.
Arsenal would become the fifth Premier League club to be owned by an American, along with Manchester United, Aston Villa, Sunderland and Liverpool.
The Arsenal Supporters’ Trusthas cautiously welcomed the news, releasing a statement on Sunday night: “AST thinks it is really important that supporters remain involved in Arsenal’s ownership structure.
“Stan Kroenke has a good relationship with the AST and recently supported our fanshare scheme.
“We are hopeful of having discussions with him to discuss how our members and Arsenal supporters can keep their shares in Arsenal Football Club.”
Kroenke is the owner of Kroenke Sports Enterprises, which includes the Denver Nuggets of the NBA, Colorado Rapids of Major League Soccer, Colorado Avalanche of the NHL, Colorado Mammoth of the National Lacrosse League and St. Louis Rams of the NFL.
The reaction to this news seems to be a little mixed; some Arsenal fans are worried, given that there have been clubs in the Premier League who have struggled with foreign owners; many Arsenal fans are happy for a sport-savvy owner to come in and, as long as he doesn’t own 100% of the club and does commit funds to Arsenal, they are happy to support him; while most are just happy for some investment, or at least intention of investment.
In other Premier League news, FC Porto manager Andre Villas Boas is being linked with Liverpool. According to Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport (and Gabriele Marcotti), Villas Boas is Liverpool’s top managerial target – apparently, the 33-year-old has a pre-contract agreement with Liverpool. However, The Times’ Tony Barret quickly quashed the rumours.
These articles originally appeared on Sports Haze.