Tag Archives: chamberlain

Robin van Persie signs for BT Sport

Van Persie joins BT Sport's dream team! United striker to appear alongside Bale in ambitious broadcaster's ad campaign

By
Brian Lee

PUBLISHED:

10:54 GMT, 26 April 2013

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UPDATED:

11:19 GMT, 26 April 2013

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BT SPORT LOGO

BT Sport's list of big-name signings expanded again today as they added Manchester United striker Robin van Persie to their star-studded line-up.

The broadcaster, who will air 38 Premier League games next season, confirmed the news on Twitter that Van Persie will appear alongside Gareth Bale in ad campaigns for their coverage.

Van Persie leads the Premier League scoring charts this season with 24 goals to his name, one more than Liverpool striker Luis Suarez, and the Dutchman's hat-trick against Aston Villa on Monday night sealed United's 20th top-flight title.

BT have also snapped up Arsenal youngster Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Scroll down for video

Smashing signing: Manchester United striker Robin van Persie will appear on BT Sport's ad campaigns

Smashing signing: Manchester United striker Robin van Persie will appear on BT Sport's ad campaigns

Dream team: Van Persie joins Gareth Bale and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain on BT's list of stars

Dream team: Van Persie joins Gareth Bale and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain on BT's list of stars

Great news! BT Sport confirmed Van Persie's signing on Twitter

Great news! BT Sport confirmed Van Persie's signing on Twitter

Oxlade-Chamberlain, who signed for the Gunners from Southampton in 2011
and has 10 England caps, will also become a BT Ambassador for the next
three years.

The 19-year-old winger said: 'I am very pleased to be named as a BT
Ambassador and to feature in the adverts and as a guest for BT Sport.

'As a young player, I hope I can bring some real insight into the Premier League, as part of the BT Sport team.'

Simon Green, head of BT Sport, said: 'We are thrilled that Alex has
agreed to sign up for BT Sport. Alex is emerging as an international
star, having broken into the senior team aged just 18.

'His hard work and dedication to improvement has already taken him to
great heights and serves as an inspiration to young football fans that
if you are good enough, you are old enough.'

Regular guest: Arsenal youngster Oxlade-Chamberlain will be appearing on BT Sport next season

Regular guest: Arsenal youngster Oxlade-Chamberlain will be appearing on BT Sport next season

VIDEO: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain joins BT Sport

As well as the rights to show 38 live games a season from the Barclays
Premier League, including 18 of the top picks, BT Sport has also secured
the rights to live top-tier matches from Serie A in Italy, Ligue 1 in
France, Brasileiro in Brazil and Major League Soccer in the USA.

And BT’s acquisition of ESPN’s TV channels business in the UK and
Ireland will bring the rights to show live games for the FA Cup,
Scottish Premier League, Europa League and the German Bundesliga.

BT Sport will also show up to 69 live rugby union games a season from the Aviva Premiership.

In
addition, BT has signed a deal with the Women’s Tennis Association
(WTA) to show up to 800 hours of live tennis, including the TEB BNP
Paribas WTA Championships.

I'm in: Spurs winger Bale has already signed for BT Sport ahead of their Premier League coverage

I'm in: Spurs winger Bale has already signed for BT Sport ahead of their Premier League coverage

And... action: Bale films an advert for BT Sport

And… action: Bale films an advert for BT Sport

Nacho Monreal – how did he fare on Arsenal debut?

How did Nacho Monreal fare on his Arsenal debut Sportsmail analyses his display

By
Sami Mokbel

PUBLISHED:

23:24 GMT, 3 February 2013

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UPDATED:

08:11 GMT, 4 February 2013

Nacho Monreal made a winning start to his Arsenal career as Lukas Podolski handed Arsene Wenger’s men a slender 1-0 win over Stoke.

So how did the 8.3million deadline day signing from Malaga, who is tipped to replace Kieran Gibbs as the club’s first-choice left back, cope in Saturday’s Premier League debut

Ball retention

Arsenal’s game is all about keeping the ball and Monreal will have no problem fitting into Arsene Wenger’s style. There was nothing extravagant about the Spaniard’s passing. He kept it simple, playing short passes inside to his centre backs or midfielders instead of attempting anything risky or penetrative.

His one-touch game is excellent and he looked comfortable in possession, but would you expect anything else from a Spain international

Team-mate Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain said: ‘He is very good on the ball, comfortable, technically brilliant and a very good defender.’

Comfortable: Nacho Monreal was happy to receive the ball to feet

Comfortable: Nacho Monreal was happy to receive the ball to feet

Going forward

The 26-year-old was sparing with his bursts forward, but when he did make a foray looked a real threat.

His pace over 10 to 20 yards had Stoke right back Ryan Shotton worried and his combination play with Jack Wilshere before putting in a cross that narrowly eluded Olivier Giroud will fill Arsenal fans with optimism.

Defending

Monreal will have more strenuous tests to come as Stoke struggled to carry a sustained attacking threat.

On the whole he was defensively sound. Competent in the air, particularly for a man under 6ft, and strong in the tackle, he knew when to clear or pick out a pass. Yet at times he allowed opponents too much space to cross.

Rearguard action: Nacho is little but a good addition to the backline

Rearguard action: Nacho is little but a good addition to the backline

Concentration

Intelligent enough to keep things simple on his debut. It was clear he was playing within himself, but there were a couple of lapses of concentration. The first came towards the end of the first half when, under no pressure, he let a routine pass slip under his foot and the ball rolled out. This was repeated in the last five minutes, with his side trying to protect their slender advantage, but this time the error occurred on the edge of his own box.

Physicality

Any fears Monreal would not be able to deal with the rough and tumble of the Premier League were dispelled during a bruising aerial duel with Jonathan Walters before half-time.

In going up for a header, the duo were involved in a nasty clash of heads. The Stoke forward needed treatment to a bloodied gash to his forehead.

Monreal remained on his feet, hardly flinching. ‘To see him win so many headers and hold his own was great to see,’ added Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Delighted: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is pleased Monreal has joined the squad

Delighted: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is pleased Monreal has joined the squad

Wilfried Zaha transfer latest: Manchester United to wrap up 12m deal

Man United set to beat Arsenal to Zaha with Fergie ready to wrap up 12m deal

By
Graeme Yorke

PUBLISHED:

10:25 GMT, 20 January 2013

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UPDATED:

10:25 GMT, 20 January 2013

Manchester United hope to have a 12million deal to bring Wilfried Zaha to Old Trafford wrapped up early next week.

The transfer of the 20-year-old forward will represent the biggest cash advance from a Premier League club to a Championship club in history – bigger than the fees paid to Southampton by Arsenal for Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

On his way: Zaha is expected to complete his move to United next week

On his way: Zaha is expected to complete his move to United next week

Palace have always held out for 12m citing the fact Walcott had only played a few games for Saints in 2005 and that Oxlade-Chamberlain had not played at a higher level than League One before his move.

Zaha will earn 35,000-a-week at Old Trafford but will be sent back to Palace on loan until the end of the season. Arsenal are the other club in for him but he is expected to opt for United.

Star: Zaha has been in fine form this season for Palace

Star: Zaha has been in fine form this season for Palace

Zaha has been tracked by United boss Sir Alex Ferguson ever since he impressed in Palace's shock Carling Cup win at Old Trafford back in November 2011.

The Ivory Coast-born star has been in sensational form for Palace this season and made his England debut against Sweden in November.

Theo Walcott agrees deal to stay at Arsenal

Walcott finally agrees new deal at Emirates with forward set to stay at Arsenal until 2016

PUBLISHED:

12:19 GMT, 18 January 2013

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UPDATED:

13:00 GMT, 18 January 2013

Theo Walcott appears to have ended the drawn out contract saga at Arsenal by agreeing a new deal that will keep him at the club until 2016.

After lengthy negotiations the England forward has finally agreed, in principle, a three-and-a-half year deal at the Emirates.

The 23-year-old is likely to join fellow Britons Jack Wilshere, Kieran Gibbs, Carl Jenkinson, Aaron Ramsey and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who all signed five-year extensions last month.

Finally: Theo Walcott has agreed a new deal with Arsenal after lengthy negotiations

Finally: Theo Walcott has agreed a new deal with Arsenal after lengthy negotiations

On alert: Arsene Wenger was concerned that another of his prized assets would leave the club

On alert: Arsene Wenger was concerned that another of his prized assets would leave the club

Walcott was expected to agree a deal
sooner, but he baulked at a deal worth 75,000 per week in
August as he held out for a contract closer to 100,000.

Arsene Wenger has seen some of his brightest
talents leave the Emirates in the past two summers.

Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri,
Alex Song and the Premier League's leading goalscorer this season Robin van Persie have
all departed and the Frenchman was desperate to keep Walcott
on board.

Wenger had
said that he was '99 per cent' certain that Walcott would agree terms
before the weekend, and it appears his prediction has come to fruition.

He told The Sun: 'I hope it will be signed before the weekend. There is a possibility. My optimism is at 99 per cent now.'

He added that he was concerned
Walcott would follow the other big names out of the club but it appears
he is set to stay in north London.

Wenger said: 'Yes I was scared at
some stage, that he could leave because it is like that with the
experience I have in negotiations.

'When things last too long, it is never a good sign. It took us some time to get where we want to get. It is still not finalised, but hopefully it will be done by this weekend.'

Walcott joined the Gunners in 2006, when Wenger signed the 16-year-old Southampton academy graduate.

The Englishman is Arsenal's top scorer this campaign with 14 goals in all competitions.

Problem solved: Arsene Wenger managed to convince Walcott to stay at the club

Problem solved: Arsene Wenger managed to convince Walcott to stay at the club

Crisis averted: Samir Nasri moved to Manchester City

Crisis averted: Cesc Fabregas joined Barcelona in 2011

Crisis averted: Samir Nasri (left) moved to Manchester City and Cesc Fabregas (right) left for Barcelona in 2011

Big loss: Robin van Persie left Arsenal last summer for Manchester United

Big loss: Robin van Persie left Arsenal last summer for Manchester United

Arsenal to talk with Southampton about Luke Shaw transfer

EXCLUSIVE: Arsenal step up pursuit of 5m-rated Shaw with talks to be held TODAY

|

UPDATED:

22:24 GMT, 31 December 2012

If Arsene Wenger has anything to do with it, Luke Shaw will be Arsenal’s next Saint.

Gunners officials will use New Year's Day's trip to St Mary’s to hold talks with Southampton in their attempts to land the 17-year-old left back.

Arsenal will make an offer for Shaw this month and it is hoped Tuesday’s discussions will pave the way for the club to end their two-year quest to land the latest jewel to emerge from Southampton’s ultra-productive academy.

Shaw thing: Luke Shaw has been tipped to be better than Gareth Bale

Shaw thing: Luke Shaw has been tipped to be better than Gareth Bale

'We produce some technically-gifted players but not as many as Southampton,' said Wenger. 'It is exceptional what they have done. The three wingers [Gareth Bale, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott] and Luke Shaw, that is a good way to study what they have done.

'The question of Southampton’s academy set-up is a very good one because they have done a fabulous job.

'Why It is down to the quality of their scouting, the quality of their coaching and education. They have fantastic scouting.'

Wenger and his chief scout Steve
Rowley knew they had to have Shaw – tipped to be even better than Bale –
as soon as they first saw him.

Arsenal saw a summer offer rejected by Saints chairman Nicola Cortese,
who knows the youngster will soon be worth a small fortune. Chelsea, are
also keen.

Whether he can resist Arsenal’s
advances this month remains to be seen, but what is for certain is that
Shaw is an England regular in the making.

Should Shaw arrive at the Emirates Stadium, he will not be short of a friendly face willing to take him under their wing.

Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain both make emotional first returns to the club that gave them their big break on Tuesday.

The elder of the two's impact on the Gunners has been well-documented this season – but his fellow former Saint has had to bide his time.

Saints made it easy: Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain have both taken the step into international football after moving to Arsenal from their first club Southampton

Saints made it easy: Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain have both taken the step into international football after moving to Arsenal from their first club Southampton

An exceptional first campaign with Arsenal resulted in him gatecrashing England’s Euro 2012 squad. But only now are we starting to see the form that persuaded Roy Hodgson to take a punt on Oxlade-Chamberlain in the summer.

The 19-year-old was excellent in Saturday’s win over Newcastle, scoring his first Premier League goal of the season in the 7-3 win.

And his return to the form that made him England’s joker in the pack last summer does not surprise his manager, who insists he knew Oxlade-Chamberlain would be a top player the minute he set eyes on him.

‘The first time I watched him was on tape, he was at that level where he played he looked lightning quick and a good dribbler as well and we like that,’ said Wenger.

‘I had enthusiastic reports about him and we sent different people and everybody said he is something special.

‘When I saw him you could see in his movement and first touch that he had something special. ‘

Arsene Wenger praises Southampton"s youth set-up

Cheers for Theo and Ox! Wenger praises Saints youth set-up ahead of St Mary's trip

|

UPDATED:

10:59 GMT, 31 December 2012

Arsene Wenger has lavished praise on Southampton's youth policy as Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain prepare to make their returns to St Mary's tomorrow.

The Arsenal manager has found the south-coast club a valuable market place in recent seasons, signing Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain from the Saints.

The duo both went on to earn England call-ups within months of their high-profile moves to north London and have since established themselves as important members of Wenger's plans.

Homecoming: Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain were both products of the Southampton youth system

Homecoming: Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain were both products of the Southampton youth system

But the Gunners pair are not the only top Premier League players to have come through the highly-respected Southampton academy.

Gareth Bale, Chris Baird and Wayne Bridge have all gone on to have well-established top-flight careers after being nurturing at Southampton.

And the club's consistency in nurturing young talent has not gone amiss by Wenger, whose side face Nigel Adkins' men tomorrow.

'The question of Southampton's academy set-up is a very good one because they have done a fabulous job,' said the Frenchman, whose side have won four successive Premier League matches.

'Why It is down to the quality of their scouting, the quality of their coaching and education. When you look at what Bale is doing, and Walcott.

'And now they have they players like Morgan Schneiderlin, they have brought some players of top, top quality and they work well. They have fantastic scouting.'

Striker: Walcott scored a hat-trick during Arsenal's 7-3 win over Newcastle

Striker: Walcott scored a hat-trick during Arsenal's 7-3 win over Newcastle

Arsenal will be expected to make it five league wins on the spin down on the south-coast, particularly after the 6-1 mauling of the newly-promoted side earlier in the season.

But after a disastrous start to the campaign, that very nearly cost Adkins his job, Southampton have improved significantly – though they still go into the clash against Arsenal in the bottom three.

And speaking after Saturday's 7-3 trouncing over Newcastle, Wenger has fired a warning to his players, saying: 'They are not comfortable [opponents], Southampton.

'I saw them against Fulham, I will watch them against Stoke (on video), but from what I've heard they played very well.'

The Ox: Oxlade-Chamberlain was also among the Arsenal scorers against the Geordies

The Ox: Oxlade-Chamberlain was also among the Arsenal scorers against the Geordies

He added: 'They are a team that has learned in the Premier League now. Usually you find in February or in January a different team to what you see in August or September.

'We will train on Sunday and Monday and go to Southampton on Monday night to prepare the game. It is another game that is very important over the Christmas period.'

Meanwhile, what is shaping up to be the busiest January transfer window in Wenger's managerial career also kicks off tomorrow.

Thierry Henry, who is currently training with the Gunners, is expected to sign a short-term loan deal – but Wenger insists the clash against Southampton will come too early for the Frenchman.

'He has just come back from holiday and is a bit short to play on Tuesday night,' added Wenger.

Luke Shaw transfer – Arsenal in pole position

Arsenal in pole position to sign 5m-rated Southampton left-back Shaw

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UPDATED:

23:17 GMT, 29 December 2012

It’s advantage Arsenal in the chase for 5million left-back Luke Shaw, a Premier League regular for Southampton at 17.

Arsene Wenger has signed Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain from the club and will use that relationship to move for Shaw as Chelsea are also interested.

Wenger is looking to add to his
options at left-back with Brazilian flop Andre Santos nearing the exit
door and Kieran Gibbs' niggling injury problems continuing to interrupt
his progress.

Shaw thing: The left-back has become a regular for Southampton

Shaw thing: The left-back has become a regular for Southampton

Arsenal 7 Newcastle 3 – match report: Theo Walcott hat-trick

Arsenal 7 Newcastle 3: Walcott hat-trick settles astonishing game as Gunners star shows his worth up front again

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UPDATED:

19:46 GMT, 29 December 2012

Theo Walcott gave Arsene Wenger yet another reminder of his goal-scoring talents as he bagged a stunning hat-trick to sink Newcastle in a 10-goal thriller at the Emirates Stadium.

Wenger had talked up Walcott as the next Thierry Henry yesterday, and the England forward – still to pen a new deal with the club – did little to disprove that idea today, scoring three excellent goals and setting up two more to give Arsenal the win that ensures they will end 2012 in fifth place, two points behind Chelsea and three adrift of Tottenham with a match in hand.

Arsenal's record scorer Henry was in the stands watching his beloved former club and he was on his feet after 20 minutes thanks to Walcott's opener – a fine curled finish following an Henry-esque break from the halfway line.

Middle man: Theo Walcott scored a brilliant hat-trick as Arsenal thumped seven past a hapless Newcastle

Middle man: Theo Walcott scored a brilliant hat-trick as Arsenal thumped seven past a hapless Newcastle

MATCH FACTS

ARSENAL: Szczesny, Sagna, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Gibbs, Arteta, Wilshere, Cazorla (Coquelin 86), Oxlade Chamberlain (Giroud 74), Podolski (Ramsey 82), Walcott. Subs not used: Mannone, Rosicky, Ramsey, Djourou, Coquelin, Gervinho.

Goals: Walcott 20, 73, 90+1 Oxlade-Chamberlain 50, Podolski 64, Giroud 84, 87.

NEWCASTLE: Krul, Simpson (Ferguson 83), Coloccini, Perch, Santon, Obertan, Bigirimana (Shola Ameobi 82), Tiote, Marveaux (Tavernier 89), Ba, Cisse. Subs not used: Harper, Sammy Ameobi, Abeid, Streete.

Goals: Ba 44, 69 Marveaux 59.

Booked: Santon

Referee: Chris Foy (Merseyside)

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Newcastle pulled level through Demba Ba, but Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain scored, only for Ba to grab his second to make it 2-2.

Arsenal looked set for a
disappointing draw after Sylvain Marveaux equalised Lukasz Podolski's
header, but Walcott turned on the class to put the Gunners 4-3 up.

The former Southampton man set up
Olivier Giroud twice and added his much-deserved third strike in injury
time with a deft chip over Tim Krul.

Walcott has scored four goals and won
one decisive penalty in the three games he has started up front and he
now has 14 for the season.

There were no early indications that
this would turn out to be a thriller in the opening quarter as both
teams started sluggishly.

Other than a couple of bits of skill from Santi Cazorla, Arsenal started poorly.

Walcott, eager to show he can cut it
as a striker, used his pace to break behind the Newcastle defence, but
Krul rushed off his line to clear.

Newcastle, branded a 'wee club in the
north-east' by Sir Alex Ferguson yesterday, had the best chance of the
opening quarter of an hour through Ba who somehow headed over Marveaux's
corner from eight yards.

The quiet atmosphere inside the
Emirates Stadium lifted after 19 minutes when Podolski slotted Walcott
in behind the Magpies defence and the England man raced through before
caressing the ball past Krul in to the far corner.

Remind you of someone Theo Walcott's first goal was vintage Thierry Henry, shaped into the far corner

Remind you of someone Theo Walcott's first goal was vintage Thierry Henry, shaped into the far corner

Remind you of someone Theo Walcott's first goal was vintage Thierry Henry, shaped into the far corner

Remind you of someone Theo Walcott's first goal was vintage Thierry Henry, shaped into the far corner

The goal was reminiscent of many strikes from Henry and thus brought the Frenchman to his feet in the stands.

Walcott was in the thick of the
action again just before half-time, wriggling free from his marker, but
Krul came off his line to stop the 23-year-old's shot.

Cheick Tiote, who scored the
equaliser in February's 4-4 thriller, almost brought the visitors level
six minutes before the break with a swirling 25-yard drive that Wojciech
Szczesny awkwardly punched away.

Walcott immediately flew up the other
end, but he laid a square pass behind the un-marked Cazorla, rather
than in front of him and Gael Bigirimana cut the danger out.

Arsenal were made to pay for the error just over two minutes from the break.

Bacary Sagna fouled Gabriel Obertan
25 yards out and Ba's resulting set-piece flew off Jack Wilshere's head
in to the Arsenal goal past the stranded Szczesny.

Level: Demba Ba's deflected free-kick meant the sides went in on terms at the break

Level: Demba Ba's deflected free-kick meant the sides went in on terms at the break

Level: Demba Ba's deflected free-kick meant the sides went in on terms at the break

Arsenal came out much stronger after
the break. Kieran Gibbs drew a save from Krul at his near post shortly
before Oxlade-Chamberlain beat the Dutchman to make it 2-1.

Podolski intercepted a weak throw-in,
heading the ball to Cazorla, who found Oxlade-Chamberlain and he made
no mistake with a fine low drive from 20 yards.

Walcott somehow muscled Tiote off the ball and charged at goal, but he dragged his shot horribly wide.

England expects: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain restored the lead with a fierce finish on 50 minutes

England expects: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain restored the lead with a fierce finish on 50 minutes

England expects: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain restored the lead with a fierce finish on 50 minutes

Once again Arsenal were made to pay
as Newcastle equalised. Obertan turned Sagna inside out before his cross
was deflected off Koscielny and in to the path of the un-marked
Marveaux who tapped in to an empty net from barely two yards.

Arsenal were back ahead within five
minutes, however. Wilshere charged at the Newcastle defence and chipped a
wonderful ball to the back post. Coloccini could only head his
clearance against the bar and the ball fell to Podolski who nodded home
the easiest finish of his career to make it 3-2.

The 60,000 fans inside the Emirates Stadium barely had time to draw breath before Newcastle equalised again.

Capitalising: Sylvain Marveaux slotted home his first goal in the Premier League to make it 2-2

Capitalising: Sylvain Marveaux slotted home his first goal in the Premier League to make it 2-2

Brave: Lukas Podolski swung the game back in the favour of the hosts with a smart header from close range

Brave: Lukas Podolski swung the game back in the favour of the hosts with a smart header from close range

Three's a crowd: Ba made the most of slack marking once more to get his side on terms for the third time

Three's a crowd: Ba made the most of slack marking once more to get his side on terms for the third time

Marveaux bought time with his
trickery before swinging a ball to the back post where Ba bustled Gibbs
out of the way to turn the ball past Szczesny.

The home crowd blasted their team's
sloppy defending, but Walcott dug them out of trouble five minutes later
with Arsenal's fourth.

Gibbs slotted the ball across the box
for Podolski, he missed ball, but Walcott was stood just behind him and
he fired in to the roof of Krul's goal.

Composed: Walcott's second was another clever finish under pressure from the men in black and white

Composed: Walcott's second was another clever finish under pressure from the men in black and white

Composed: Walcott's second was another clever finish under pressure from the men in black and white

Giroud then killed off the game with five minutes left, latching on to Walcott's cross to head between Krul's legs.

The Frenchman then rubbed salt in to
Newcastle's wounds by slotting past Krul to make it 6-3 after Walcott
charged at the Toon defence.

Walcott then got the hat-trick he
deserved in injury time, picking himself off the turf after being
flattened by Tiote before chipping the ball over Krul with a brilliant
finish.

Arsenal could have had an eighth in injury time, but Giroud's header hit the bar.

Walcott, wearing a beaming smile, walked off with the match-ball amid chants of 'sign him up' from the home crowd.

Welcome to the party: Olivier Giroud took just a few minutes to get in on the act

Welcome to the party: Olivier Giroud took just a few minutes to get in on the act

Welcome to the party: Olivier Giroud took just a few minutes to get in on the act
.

Arsene Wenger thanks Arsenal board for sticking by him amid attack from Alisher Usmanov

Wenger backs Arsenal board amid Usmanov attack and thanks club for support

|

UPDATED:

17:14 GMT, 20 December 2012

Arsene Wenger maintains he has always felt fully supported by the Arsenal board.

Uzbek billionaire Alisher Usmanov, the club’s second-largest shareholder, today reiterated in an interview with American broadcaster CNBC his desire to further invest in the Barclays Premier League club.

Usmanov – whose Red & White Holdings group are not represented on the board – also claimed Wenger did not have enough backing and blasted the decision to sell captain Robin van Persie to rivals Manchester United in a 24million deal last summer.

Scroll down for video

Stand by your man: Arsene Wenger has support despite Arsenal's recent woes

Stand by your man: Arsene Wenger has support despite Arsenal's recent woes

Wenger, though, feels the club’s policy of self-sustainability will pay dividends in the long term.

Speaking ahead of Saturday’s Barclays Premier League trip to Wigan, Wenger said: 'I believe I have always had the support from the board, and am very grateful for that. We have worked over the years in respecting in what we did, which is to always work within our financial resources.

Arsenal Christmas fixtures

Wigan v Arsenal
Sat 22 Dec, 12.45pm

Arsenal v Newcastle
Sat 29 Dec, 5.30pm

Southampton v Arsenal
Tue 1 Jan, 5.30pm

'Therefore we made decisions which from outside looked not based on purely footballing reasons, but it was based as well on financial reasons.'

Arsenal yesterday announced new long-term deals for England midfielder Jack Wilshere and four other young players – Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Kieran Gibbs, Carl Jenkinson and Aaron Ramsey.

Wenger remains hopeful England winger Theo Walcott will follow suit and commit his future to Arsenal, with his contract set to expire at the end of the season.

The Gunners boss, however, insists just simply spending big in the January sales will not necessarily take Arsenal forward.

He added: 'What is important is this team develops in the way we want to play.

'I have seen some interesting aspects on Monday night at Reading.

'Let’s see how far this team can go.

Gone: Arsenal were forced to let Robin van Persie join Manchester United

Gone: Arsenal were forced to let Robin van Persie join Manchester United

'If we can add one or two exceptional players, we will do it.

'What we do not want to do is add players just because people put us under pressure to buy players.

'That is where we have to be strong enough. If we find a player who will give us something special, we will do it – but that in January will not be easy.

'We have money, and why should I not spend it if it is to find the right players

'I believe as well the first and most important thing is to keep confidence in the players we have.

'If we are consistent, we can come back.'

Usmanov, 59, has an estimated fortune of some 18billion and maintains his long-term ambition is to take a controlling interest in Arsenal, where American Stan Kroenke is the majority shareholder.

Speaking to CNBC from Moscow, Usmanov said: 'I want to take this opportunity to just reaffirm that in order to help the team, we would be ready to buy more shares, to buy control, to buy all shares.

'We are ready to do all that we can in order to help the company, in order to consider any form of co-operation or ownership with the team.

'If I have a big stake in Arsenal of course I have my opinion what we must do, for example in the commercial side there are many questions over the effectiveness of the commercial side of Arsenal today, but we will see, we will wait and maybe when I wake up some day I have this Arsenal club.'

Usmanov continued: 'I always tell Mr Wenger he is one of the best coaches and football managers in the world, but I openly admit he has many, many difficulties to contend with.

'This decision (selling Van Persie) was a mistake. If I am one of Wenger’s players I would want to stay for the finish, but he explained Robin wanted to go to win trophies.'

VIDEO Arsene happy to tie players in

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EXCLUSIVE: Gary Neville takes Sportsmail behind the scenes at Monday Night Football

MNF star Neville takes Sportsmail behind the scenes of the TV show making fans fall in love with punditry again

|

UPDATED:

23:31 GMT, 18 December 2012

It is 4.30pm and although Gary Neville is midway through rehearsals for that evening’s Monday Night Football, he is still going through his first item in painstaking detail. Things have to be right and he is unapologetically demanding and meticulous in his preparation.

‘What do we think about this’ the former Manchester United full back asks producer Scott Melvin, as a chart flashes up on his touch screen. ‘I don’t think that’s good enough.’ He is over-ruled. ‘Fine,’ he says, but his arms are folded — it is clearly not fine.

‘Are we comfortable with that colour on this graphic’ is the next question. ‘It’s disgusting,’ Neville continues, without waiting for a reply. ‘I’m not a colours man but… can’t you change it’ It is duly changed.

Oh what a night: Sportsmail's Laura Williamson joined Gary Neville and Ed Chamberlain in the Sky studio to see how the hugely popular Monday Night Football has become such a big hit

Oh what a night: Sportsmail's Laura Williamson joined Gary Neville and Ed Chamberlain in the Sky studio to see how the hugely popular Monday Night Football has become such a big hit

Oh what a night: Sportsmail's Laura Williamson joined Gary Neville and Ed Chamberlain in the Sky studio to see how the hugely popular Monday Night Football has become such a big hit

Neville has been at Sky’s studios in
west London since 9.30am, but he is still like a man on fast-forward,
running ‘at 100 miles per hour’.

His intensity, willingness to work
hard and genuine vigour for his sport are startling. It seems the same
qualities that characterised him as a footballer are the ones that mark
him out as a pundit.

‘This is different to football,’ says
the 37-year-old, ‘but there is pressure — and I think that’s the thing
that keeps me excited and stimulated. It’s got to be right.

‘I think information and the detail
are the most important things for me. Nice goals or a lovely finish or
an incident, that will get done a thousand times by everybody else and
there isn’t really much more you can say.

‘I prefer information. I try to do it as if I was looking at it as a player or a coach rather than as entertainment.

‘I don’t think, really, I’m a perfect
broadcaster by any stretch of the imagination. I think it’s more around
the information for me. That’s all I can do. If you want a pretty face
or a nice voice then don’t come here.’

Ed Chamberlin, the host of MNF, laughs. ‘Well, I won’t argue with that,’ he says.

The pair have been working together
for barely 18 months but have taken the format made famous by Richard
Key and Andy Gray and made it their own.

There is little ego or arrogance about
Chamberlin, who works without an autocue and fully understands his role
is to ensure Neville is the star of the show.

The presenter continually tries to
tease extra insight and information out of a right back who won 85 caps
for England, constantly asking ‘why’ and ‘how’, which seems to amuse and
frustrate Neville on alternate occasions.

Practice makes perfect: Chamberlain and Neville can be in the studio from 9.30am on the day of the game

Practice makes perfect: Chamberlain and Neville can be in the studio from 9.30am on the day of the game

NEVILLE'S MANIC MONDAY

9.30am Arrive at Sky’s studios in west London.

10am Production meeting. Neville has been feeding ideas to the production team since the previous Wednesday. They discuss what he wants to talk about and the order the pieces should run.

11.30am Neville goes through all the video clips, while Ed Chamberlin studies the running order and familiarises himself with all the links and music.

2pm Lunch.

3pm Rehearsals start on set.

6pm Make-up.

7pm On air. An hour of analysis from the weekend’s games and to preview that night’s Barclays Premier League fixture. Also includes interviews with the managers, live from the ground.

8pm Kick-off.

8.45pm Half-time analysis.

9pm Second half.

9.45pm Full-time analysis, a look back at the weekend’s goals and a Twitter Q&A.

11pm Off air.

‘Ed doesn’t offer opinions on
football,’ says Melvin. ‘It’s different with (Match of the Day
presenter) Gary Lineker. He was a footballer and you would never
begrudge him an opinion.

'But, for me, the presenter’s job is
to probe the guys who have played football. Ed drives it and keeps it
on the rails because otherwise, God knows what would happen.’

It is no mean feat keeping Neville in
check, that’s for sure. He revels in his Aladdin’s cave of touch-screen
boards, slow-motion clips, high camera angles, statistics and league
tables.

The former England defender even had a
screen installed in his Manchester home for nine days to practise
before he started at Sky, only to go bonkers when he found out they had
updated the technology when he arrived in London.

‘I’m obsessed with charts,’ Neville
says, laughing at the nerdy nature of his words. ‘I’ll say, “Make me a
chart, make me a chart”. They argue I don’t need one, just to say it,
but I want everyone at home to know those statistics are there.

‘Every time I do a piece I don’t just
get the clips, I get the statistics. I want statistics to back it up,
so it’s not just my instinct. It’s easy to get caught up in thinking,
“Arsenal are rubbish”. But where are they rubbish Why They can’t be
all rubbish, or all good.

‘You’ve got to offer some perspective. Everything’s so sudden, everyone’s always screaming.

‘I think that’s what people inside
football do better than people in the media because in the media there’s
a need to make everything so dramatic. But, inside football, you
analyse it. You look at it bit by bit and think that’s OK, that’s not
bad, rather than everything being bad or good.’

Neville’s proximity to the game, however, could easily compromise his willingness to say what he sees and how he feels.

He spent all his career at Manchester
United and has a four-year contract with the FA to work under Roy
Hodgson and coach the England senior team, after all.

Gary Neville gets ready for Monday Night Football

Gary Neville gets made up on Monday Night Football

Finishing touches: Neville is still new to football punditry but is brilliantly professional in his preparation

But as Neville watches Arsenal’s 5-2
win at Reading — from a ‘big, wide high camera angle’ because ‘that’s
the only way you can analyse it properly, you can’t watch the ball’ —
there is only a flicker of his allegiance to the national side. When
Jack Wilshere crumples to the ground in the build-up to Reading’s first
goal, Neville suddenly becomes even more animated.

‘Oh! Oh!’ he cries. ‘Wilshere’s done
his knee ligaments. Oh no. Or is it his groin Oh dear.’ Then, ‘Oh,
phew, he’s OK. What price 5-4 Reading now’

Neville’s affiliations make him more
accountable than most but he insists he remains deliberately detached
from the insular, pally world of football.

His reasoning is as clear as the
straightforward manner in which he is able to talk through a set-piece
or analyse the build-up to a goal: you cannot criticise someone on live
television one day and go for a pint with them the next.

‘I don’t speak to too many people,’
he says. ‘I think if you speak to too many people you become friendly
with them and it might not be as honest an assessment.

‘You get to know people — “All right,
how are you mate” — and a week later they think you’re stitching them
up. Don’t get too close. I do know people but I spent my life at one
club.

‘People at the start, understandably,
were asking how it would work, but I think I’ve been as honest as I
can be about United games and most people seem to have accepted the fact
that I’ve praised or criticised their team.

‘I think fans are pretty honest. They
don’t want rubbish. If their team play well they know they’ve played
well. If they haven’t, they know that, too. You try to show why or how
because they know the rest themselves. You’re always looking for the
most interesting bits. Less fluff, more gruff.’

And they're off: The show has received rave reviews this season thanks to Neville's expert analysis

And they're off: The show has received rave reviews this season thanks to Neville's expert analysis

The enjoyment Neville derives from his
new role is obvious, even if he can barely contain his energy, pacing
up and down during advertising breaks and badgering the producer with
ideas as early as the Wednesday before a show.

This opportunity to have the last
word on the weekend’s action is, after all, both the programme’s
strength and its continual challenge — how do you be significantly
different from what has gone before, on television and social media
and in the newspapers

Neville consumes information from all these outlets but still has to offer new insight on a Monday night.

As you can probably imagine, he is not
short of ideas, although the transition from player to pundit has not
been as straight-forward as you might think.

‘The more I relax, the more I become a
little lighthearted,’ says Neville. ‘But on the first show last year, I
was 100 miles per hour. I was like a train with no brakes. I used to
get an incredibly dry mouth because I was so nervous. I’ve not done
anything like this before in my life.

‘And my hands! Oh my hands. That was a
massive problem. What do you do with them when you’re standing at the
touchscreen Now I carry my pen with me because you’ve got something to
focus on.

‘I was everywhere — my hands were
terrible. I got a lot of feedback: hands and my hair, which is a
continual challenge — I’ve just given up on that.’

Giving up That must be a first for Neville, surely.

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with more than 500 live matches every season including Barclays Premier
League, UEFA Champions League, internationals, the npower Football
League and more.