Tag Archives: fabianski

Wojciech Szczesny plays for Arsenal Under 21s at Anfield

Szczesny starts for Arsenal but can't prevent U21s defeat to Liverpool

By
Graeme Yorke

PUBLISHED:

22:19 GMT, 8 April 2013

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UPDATED:

06:03 GMT, 9 April 2013

Wojciech Szczesny started for Arsenal’s Under 21 side but could not prevent the visitors falling to defeat against an impressive crop of Liverpool youngsters at Anfield.

The Poland international has not been given a senior appearance by Arsene Wenger for over a month, with Lukas Fabianski being preferred over his error-prone countryman.

Szczesny's dad recently launched a furious attack at Wenger, accusing the Frenchman of making his son the scapegoat for the Gunners' poor.

Back in the game: Wojciech Szczesny played for the Arsenal Under 21s at Anfield

Back in the game: Wojciech Szczesny played for the Arsenal Under 21s at Anfield

The 22-year-old defended his manager however, claiming his dad was wrong to criticise his boss.

But Wenger did not even name Szczesny on the bench for Arsenal's 2-1 win at West Brom on Saturday.

'I rotate the goalkeepers on the bench because when they are two games on the bench then they work for two games, because when they sit always on the bench they lose fitness,' he said.

Last night at Anfield, Adam Morgan beat the Pole to draw first blood for Liverpool before Chuba Akpom equalised for the Gunners.

Krisztian Adorjan put the Reds back in the lead after half-time, but Serge Gnabry kept his cool to level things up once again.

Struggles: Szczesny was dropped by Arsene Wenger and has had to make do with a seat on the bench

Struggles: Szczesny was dropped by Arsene Wenger and has had to make do with a seat on the bench

Struggles: Szczesny was dropped by Arsene Wenger and has had to make do with a seat on the bench

There was no response, however, after Morgan snatched his second at the Kop End to clinch victory for the hosts.

England
Under 21 international Jonjo Shelvey also turned out for the Liverpool
side, but it was Adjoran and Morgan who ensured the hosts ran out
winners.

Adorjan burst down the right flank before drilling an accurate cross into the area for Morgan.

The 18-year-old made no mistake, knocking the ball past the stranded Szczesny from inside the six-yard box.

No cigar: Jonjo Shelvey tries an effort with his left foot as Arsenal's defenders can only watch

No cigar: Jonjo Shelvey tries an effort with his left foot as Arsenal's defenders can only watch

Tussle: Gedion Zelalem of Arsenal takes on Stephen Sama (left) of Liverpool

Tussle: Gedion Zelalem of Arsenal takes on Stephen Sama (left) of Liverpool

Spotted: Jose Enrique watches form the stands as Liverpool edged out Arsenal at Anfield

Spotted: Jose Enrique watches form the stands as Liverpool edged out Arsenal at Anfield

Free transfer XI – Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole, Rio Ferdinand

Fancy Cole, Rio AND Lampard Meet the all-star XI your club could have for FREE

PUBLISHED:

10:53 GMT, 2 January 2013

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UPDATED:

11:40 GMT, 2 January 2013

The January transfer window has swung open once again as clubs clamour to bolster their squads for the second half of the Premier League season.

Whether it's Manchester City spending the millions in a bid to help them to a second successive title or Wigan scrambling around for a bargain to help stave off relegation, you can be sure of a busy month ahead.

But for clubs prepared to wait a little longer, there are some sumptuous signings to be made in the summer… for absolutely nothing.

With players now free to sign pre-contract deals with foreign clubs, Sportsmail guides you through who is available.

THE ULTIMATE FREEBIE XI (4-4-2)

Schwarzer (Fulham); A Cole
(Chelsea), Carragher (Liverpool), Ferdinand (Man United), Gallas
(Tottenham); Giggs (Man United), P Neville (Everton), Scholes (Man
United), Lampard (Chelsea); C Cole (West Ham), Walcott (Arsenal)

Theo Walcott
ARSENAL: Theo Walcott, Andrey Arshavin, Sebastien Squillaci, Emmanuel Frimpong, Lukasz Fabianski

Richard Dunne
ASTON VILLA: Richard Dunne, Andy Marshall, Eric Lichaj

Chelsea's Frank Lampard
CHELSEA: Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole, Florent Malouda, Paulo Ferreira, Hilario, Ross Turnbull

Phil Neville
EVERTON: Phil Neville, Sylvain Distin, Jan Mucha

Fulham goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer
FULHAM: Mladen Petric, Damien Duff, Mark Schwarzer, Chris Baird,
Philippe Senderos, Mahamadou Diarra, Giorgos Karagounis, Brede
Hangeland, Neil Etheridge

Jamie Carragher
LIVERPOOL: Jamie Carragher, Doni

Kolo Toure
MANCHESTER CITY: Kolo Toure, Richard Wright

Rio Ferdinand
MANCHESTER UNITED: Rio Ferdinand, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs

Danny Simpson
NEWCASTLE: Steve Harper, Xisco, Danny Simpson

Simeon Jackson
NORWICH: Elliott Ward, Marc Tierney, Simeon Jackson

Ryan Nelson
QPR: Kieron Dyer, Brian Murphy, Clint Hill, Shaun Derry, Radek Cerny, Ryan Nelsen

Jay Tabb
READING: Stuart Taylor, Ian Harte, Brynjar Gunnarsson, Noel Hunt, Jay Tabb, Alex Pearce, Simon Church

Jason Puncheon
SOUTHAMPTON: Frazer Richardson, Richard Chaplow, Danny Butterfield, Artur Boruc, Jason Puncheon

Dean Whitehead
STOKE: Michael Owen, Matthew Upson, Carlo Nash, Rory Delap, Dean Whitehead, Ryan Shotton

Frazer Campbell
SUNDERLAND: Titus Bramble, Louis Saha, Matt Kilgallon, Fraizer Campbell

Luke Moore, Swansea City
SWANSEA: Gerhard Tremmel, Luke Moore, Dwight Tiendalli, Mark Gower

William Gallas
TOTTENHAM: William Gallas, Carlo Cudicini

Zoltan Gera, West Bromwich Albion
WEST BROM: Boaz Myhill, Marc-Antoine Fortune, Steven Reid, Zoltan Gera, Goran Popov, Chris Brunt, Gonzalo Jara, Luke Daniels, Yassine El Ghanassy

Carlton Cole
WEST HAM: Jussi Jaaskelainen, Gary O’Neil, Freddie Piquionne, Winston Reid, Joey O’Brien, Carlton Cole

Maynor Figueroa
WIGAN: Maynor Figueroa, Callum McManaman, Franco Di Santo, Albert
Crusat, Piscu, Mike Pollitt, Ronnie Stam, David Jones, Emmerson Boyce,
Antolin Alcaraz

Arsenal weighing up January move for Simon Mignolet from Sunderland

Arsenal weighing up January move for Sunderland's Mignolet as back-up for Szczesny

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UPDATED:

14:49 GMT, 23 December 2012

Arsenal are calculating a January bid for Sunderland goalkeeper Simon Mignolet, to give Arsene Wenger the back-up he needs.

First-choice at the Emirates, Wojciech Szczesny, is still one of Wenger’s favourites, but the Gunners boss has lost confidence in bench-warmers Lukasz Fabianski and Vito Mannone.

Fabianski is free to seek a new club in January and while Mannone has presented competition for Szczesny, may opt to find first-team football elsewhere.

Target: Sunderland's Belgian goalkeeper Simon Mignolet is wanted by Arsenal

Target: Sunderland's Belgian goalkeeper Simon Mignolet is wanted by Arsenal

Still No 1: Wojciech Szczesny is still considered to be the first choice keeper at Arsenal

Still No 1: Wojciech Szczesny is still considered to be the first choice keeper at Arsenal

Wenger is believed to be prepared to lodge 5million for Mignolet, who is likely to be a more cost-effective target than preferred custodian, Liverpool’s Pepe Reina.

The Belgian has made 18 appearances this season, kept six clean sheets and is said to be a target for Chelsea.

Arsenal reserve stopper Damian Martinez has been singled out by Wenger as a key prospect and will be promoted to become the first team’s No 3, potentially creating a very attractive second-choice place.

Chief scout Steve Rowley has ruled out bidding for Wigan’s Ali Al-Habsi and Asmir Begovic of Stoke, on the grounds of their erratic and inconsistent performances.

FA chief David Bernstein"s regime over – Charles Sale

No extra time for FA chief Bernstein's regime

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UPDATED:

22:24 GMT, 17 October 2012

FA chairman David Bernstein's attempt to extend his term of office was undone by the rulebook and two members of an FA board supposedly backing the bid.

The FA council voted 45-40 against Bernstein remaining past his 70th birthday in May, when he will reach the age limit for the job.

The blazers had earlier decided not to count 20-odd proxy votes, which would in all likelihood have seen him receive a majority, because of ambiguity over the election procedure.

Game over: Bernstein's time at the FA will soon come to an end

Game over: Bernstein's time at the FA will soon come to an end

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Remarkably Roger Burden, the FA vice- chairman proposing the board’s support for Bernstein, announced that he wasn’t a particular friend of the chairman, who had his faults, including sometimes suffering from a ‘humour bypass’.

And Sir Dave Richards, the other FA vice-chairman on the board, spoke out against the rules being changed for one person.

Other influential speakers against Bernstein carrying on for that reason were Stoke City chairman Peter Coates, former Liverpool director Noel White and John Ward, the last of whom had to leave the FA board for age reasons.

It also did not help Bernstein’s cause that his regime had attempted to introduce director payments without consulting councillors, who threw out those proposals.

Bernstein, who had stayed in Warsaw with England, was told of the verdict by general secretary Alex Horne, whose staff will be upset at losing a chairman who had brought stability to an organisation often in turmoil.

Putting on a brave face at a decision made by a council fighting back against attempts to marginalise its powers was Roy Hodgson, who has been joined at the hip with Bernstein since becoming England manager.

Equally disappointed is Minister for Sport Hugh Robertson. He suffered the double blow of councillors being so opposed to the proposed governance reforms they are now said to be dead.

A likely candidate to succeed Bernstein is David Sheepshanks, whose stock is high as chairman of St George’s Park.

Guidance: Bernstein has overseen a period of stability at the FA

Guidance: Bernstein has overseen a period of stability at the FA

Roofless behaviour

England shirt sponsors Vauxhall took advantage last night of the Warsaw farce by changing their perimeter board advertising to plug the fact that the roof of their new Cascada convertible closes in 19 seconds.

Not so Savvy Sky

Questions are being asked at Sky Sports News about the wisdom of doing a live interview with Bradley Wiggins before his charity foundation function this week rather than pre-recording it, owing to the cycling superstar’s unpredictable nature.

Sky were forced to apologise after Wiggins said about his gala event: 'It's a bit like This is Your Life but without Jimmy Savile.'

Outburst: Sky were embarrassed by Wiggins' remarks

Outburst: Sky were embarrassed by Wiggins' remarks

Green with envy

The appointment of Simon Green as head of BT Sport will be welcomed at Wembley, with the FA much in need of competition for their TV rights co-held by ESPN, whose future UK operation is in doubt.

Green has retained close links with the FA since setting up their in-house TV channel.

FA's afternoon delight

Premier League clubs, anxious for the return of their players after England’s match was postponed, would have been more concerned if the FA hadn’t prevailed over the kick-off time.

The Poles wanted a 7pm start while the FA were arguing for 3pm to ensure they could get home as early as possible. The compromise of 4pm at least ensured England players being back in the UK around midnight.

The FA were warned three weeks ago that the Warsaw trip might pose problems when they discovered the new playing surface had yet to be installed.

And at the 9am matchday meeting on Tuesday, the roof was not discussed despite heavy rain being forecast.

Heading home: England had to lobby hard for an earlier kick-off

Heading home: England had to lobby hard for an earlier kick-off

Chang boost

Jen Chang, Liverpool’s director of communications who is under club investigation for threats allegedly made to Anfield fan Sean Cummins, was appointed by owner John Henry.

Henry has been made aware of the controversy surrounding Cummins' fictitious Duncan Jenkins blog. Chang is confident enough of surviving to be attending the North West football writers’ dinner on Sunday.

Poland v England big match dossier

Poland v England big match dossier: Keepers are Poles apart… but one is out in the cold

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UPDATED:

22:01 GMT, 15 October 2012

The Poles are concerned about a goalkeeping department which was once the pride of Europe. Indeed, Arsenal sent a delegation to Poland to see how they produced such talent.

But they are without the injured Wojciech Szczesny and Lukasz Fabianski for Tuesday's game.

ARTUR OUT IN THE COLD

Artur Boruc, the former Celtic goalkeeper, has not been playing and is well out of contention for the Poland side.

The 32-year-old started the season without a club after leaving Fiorentina and has since joined Southampton but is not yet in the first team.

In safe hands: Poland are missing their first choice goalkeepers through injury

In safe hands: Poland are missing their first choice goalkeepers through injury

DOUBTING TOMASZ

Another forgotten man of Polish goalkeeping is Tomasz Kusczcak. Some Poles think the former Manchester United man should start on Tuesday because of his Premier League knowhow but it is nearly 18 months since he played in the top flight. He is now plying his trade with Brighton.

IT'S NOT PITCH PERFECT

Poland admit the surface at the new national stadium in Warsaw is not the best. A new pitch was rolled out at the start of the month after a Coldplay gig in the stadium and has not settled well.

‘There may be unpredictable situations,’ said Polish coach Waldemar Fornalik. ‘The ball can bounce off differently.’

Call-up: Arsenal's Carl Jenkinson

Call-up: Arsenal's Carl Jenkinson

JENKINSON CHOOSES ENGLAND OVER FINLAND

Carl Jenkinson has committed his future to England ahead of Finland after speaking to Roy Hodgson.

‘He didn’t take a lot of convincing,’ said Hodgson. ‘We had a problem with Kyle Walker, so we called Carl up. I invited him to train knowing he couldn’t take part in this game, and that gave me the chance to ask him the question.

‘He had to make a decision. We’re very interested in him even if the competition is tougher to get him into the England team rather than the Finland team. He made it clear he wanted to play for England.’

OX IS NO JOKER NOW

Roy Hodgson admits Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was his ‘joker’ when England made their Euro 2012 base camp in Poland but the 19-year-old has returned as a serious international footballer.

‘He came in as the joker in the pack, a young one, but he’s certainly cemented his position,’ said Hodgson.

Wenger puts faith in Mannone as Arsenal head to France without first choice Szczesny

Wenger puts faith in Mannone as Arsenal head to France without first choice Szczesny

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UPDATED:

16:32 GMT, 17 September 2012

Arsene Wenger has every confidence Vito Mannone holds the 'mental strength' to put his Champions League nightmare behind him when he returns to top-flight European action in Montpellier on Tuesday.

Wojciech Szczesny suffered an ankle injury in the 6-1 Barclays Premier League win over Southampton at the weekend, which was his first game back since a rib problem.

The Italian had kept two clean sheets, at Stoke and Liverpool, deputising for the Poland international earlier this season – in marked contrast to his last European performance for the Gunners, when he produced a calamitous display in the defeat at Olympiacos last December.

Deputising: Vito Mannone is preparing to fill in for the injured Wojciech Szczesny in Arsenal's Champions League tie against Montpellier on Tuesday

Deputising: Vito Mannone is preparing to fill in for the injured Wojciech Szczesny in Arsenal's Champions League tie against Montpellier on Tuesday

A productive four-month loan spell at npower Championship side Hull built up the confidence of the 24-year-old once again, though, and Wenger has no issue with throwing Mannone straight into the action at Stade La Mosson.

'Vito is very close (to the Arsenal number one jersey), and he gets another opportunity now,' said Wenger as the squad prepared to leave Luton Airport on Monday afternoon, with midfielder Abou Diaby fit again following a hip problem.

'He has belief and he has the mental strength to deal with that.'

With Lukasz Fabianski also sidelined because of injury, and Argentina youth international Damian Martinez not on Arsenal's Champions League squad list, 21-year-old Academy product James Shea will take an unexpected place on the bench.

Assured: Mannone is put through his paces after Wenger gave him a vote of confidence

Assured: Mannone is put through his paces after Wenger gave him a vote of confidence for the match in France

'He was on the list as goalkeeper number five at the beginning of the season and now he is number two. That shows you how quickly football can change,' said Wenger.

Szczesny's error saw Arsenal concede a first Premier League goal of the season against Southampton on Saturday.

While not putting that down to any fitness issue, Wenger accepts it would have perhaps been better to rest the Pole again after he suffered the new problem during the warm-up.

'He says not, but of course we had a question in our minds before the game: do we change him or not We decided to leave him on – maybe it was a mistake,' Wenger said.

Missing out: Wojciech Szczesny injured his ankle against Southampton at the weekend

Missing out: Wojciech Szczesny injured his ankle against Southampton at the weekend

Arsenal may be Champions League veterans, now playing in the elite European competition for the 15th straight campaign, and Montpellier only just starting out having won the Ligue 1 title in May, but Wenger warned against any complacency tomorrow night when taking on a side who have lost three from the first five domestic games.

'What they did [last season] is a miracle because I think three years ago they were in the second division and one point away from relegation to division three,' he said.

'It is difficult to know why they have not started well this season. Maybe because they were champions and now they are the team to beat.

'People have maybe a little less urgency and everybody is a bit more cautious against them.'

Return ticket: Olivier Giroud returns to his former club Montpellier on Tuesday night

Return ticket: Olivier Giroud returns to his former club Montpellier on Tuesday night

Olivier Giroud netted 21 goals for Montpellier to be the joint-top scorer in Ligue 1, which prompted Arsenal to make a 12million move for him in the summer.

The France international has yet to score for his new club and Wenger is aware of the added pressure tomorrow's fixture will bring.

'It can be positive, but it can be negative and it is never easy to handle,' he said.

'No matter what you do, the less time you give the player to think about it, the better it is.'

Wenger will watch from the stands tomorrow night as he serves the first of a three-match UEFA touchline ban, imposed after he confronted referee Damir Skomina in the wake of last season's Champions League defeat by AC Milan – his third sanction in the space of a year.

Former Arsenal centre-half Steve Bould is set to take charge of the team, having become assistant manager this season following Pat Rice's retirement.

Wenger said: 'Steve is doing his job very well.

'Don't forget that the basis of our team is a very offensive philosophy so sometimes, if we concede goals in the future, it will not be Steve Bould's fault.

'It will only be a consequence of the way we see football.'

Wenger added: 'Steve is a very similar coach to how he played – clear in his mind, well focused and intelligent.'

Arsenal 0 Manchester City 2: England"s best try to feather their nest

Arsenal 0 Manchester City 2: England's best try to feather their nest

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UPDATED:

22:21 GMT, 27 July 2012

Fantasy football 2012

The people of Beijing were about to begin their Olympic party four years ago. Last night, as the Games opened in London, English football went to the Bird's Nest Stadium.

As pre-season kickabouts go, this was about as high profile as you can get, the Barclays Premier League champions facing off against another iconic English club.

In some ways, this was what the '39th game' would have looked like had the Premier League’s plan to outsource their product got off the ground several years ago.

Winning in the rain: Manchester City's Yaya Toure celebrates with teammates after scoring against Arsenal

Winning in the rain: Manchester City's Yaya Toure celebrates with teammates after scoring against Arsenal

MATCH FACTS

Arsenal: Fabianski; Jenkinson (Eastmond 65 min), Bartley (Miquel HT), Vermaelen, Gibbs; Diaby (Coquelin HT), Song (Eisfeld 77), Arteta (Oxlade-Chamberlain HT); Walcott (Chamakh HT), Gervinho (Aneke 65), Santos (Afobe 58).

Manchester City: Pantilimon; K.Toure, Kompany (Boyata 57), Savic; Zabaleta, Razak (Suarez 87), Y.Toure (A.Johnson 77), Biton, Kolarov; Tevez (Evans 83), Aguero (Lopes 90).

Goals: Zabaleta (41) Toure (44)

For those interested, the Bird’s Nest
Stadium still looks sensational from the outside even if it does sit
beneath Beijing’s ever-present blanket of smog. Inside, it looks pretty
much like many other stadiums and last night it was far from full.

To Arsenal and, particularly,
Manchester City, Asia is a land that still presents its challenges. In
places like China, Japan, Thailand and Korea, it is the red of
Manchester United and Liverpool that holds sway. As far as winning
hearts, minds and wallets, the big North-West clubs got here years ago.
The others — Chelsea included — are still trying to catch up.

Nevertheless, there were enough here
last night to suggest the appetite for English football remains strong
in the Far East. There were a good number of shirts bearing the names of
Henry, Fabregas and Walcott and there was the occasional sight of sky
blue, too.

Going close: Carlos Tevez gets his shot away as he is challenged by Arsenal's Alex Song

Going close: Carlos Tevez gets his shot away as he is challenged by Arsenal's Alex Song

To their credit, two rather
under-strength teams endeavoured to put on something that resembled a
show. Inevitably it was a little harder for City as they had been in
Asia for only two days.

They still managed to win, though, as
first-half goals against the run of play from Pablo Zabaleta and Yaya
Toure proved enough to defeat an Arsenal side who — as ever — enjoyed a
lot of possession but could not score. The result doesn't matter, of
course. Arsenal are touring here with a dozen first-team squad players missing. City are similarly depleted.

Neither manager particularly wants to be here but these days that does not necessarily matter.

Afterwards City's Roberto Mancini, who
saw captain Vincent Kompany hobble off with a slight calf injury, said:
'We enjoyed the game and are happy with how it went. This is all about
preparation. These games allow me to try different things and that’s
good.’

As for Arsene Wenger, the Arsenal
manager seemed to find more questions about the future of Robin van
Persie a bit tedious and suggested dubiously that his club had not yet
received a single bid.

Fight: Arsenal's Abou Diaby battles for the ball with Manchester City's Carlos Tevez

Getting there first: Manchester City's Yaya Toure fights for the ball against Arsenal's Abou Diaby

Fight for the ball: Abou Diaby battles for the ball with Tevez and loses out to Toure

'We have other strikers at home, not
just Van Persie,' said Wenger. 'We can’t just talk about him all the
time. We are here to prepare for the season with the players we have.’

At kick-off, City fielded 20-year-old
Israeli triallist Nir Biton in the centre of midfield as their issues
with personnel forced Mancini to field a back three of Kolo Toure,
Kompany and Stefan Savic. Carlos Tevez and Sergio Aguero started,
though, and that will have pleased the promoters.

Sliding in: Toure scores against Arsenal's goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski

Sliding in: Toure scores against Arsenal's goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski

For Arsenal, Theo Walcott and Thomas
Vermaelen started, as did Alex Song and Abou Diaby. And the team in red
could have had the game won in the first 45 minutes.

Andre Santos and Walcott had shots
blocked in the opening half-hour alone and Walcott curled another shot
wide and Santos had an effort saved. In the second half, substitute Alex
Oxlade-Chamberlain struck the inside of both posts with one shot.

Falling behind: The Arsenal players look dejected after Toure got his goal

Falling behind: The Arsenal players look dejected after Toure got his goal

In the middle of all this, City broke
to score twice as Zabaleta converted a neat move at the far post then
Toure bundled the ball home after Alexander Kolarov’s low cross had been
turned back towards goal by Aguero.

The second half was played in
something akin to a monsoon. City now head to Malaysia while Arsenal fly
to Hong Kong. Both will be glad when the real stuff starts.

Arsenal pre-season tour: thousands meet team at Kuala Lumpur

Who needs Van Persie Far East fans flock to greet Arsenal in Kuala Lumpur

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UPDATED:

12:23 GMT, 22 July 2012

Any thought that Arsenal's only pull was Robin van Persie was blown out of the water on Sunday morning as the club arrived in the Far East for a pre-season tour.

The Gunners have flown halfway around the world to forget about the troubles at home with their captain, who is angling for a move away this summer.

Welcome to KL: Arsenal were greeted by thrilled fans in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur

Welcome to KL: Arsenal were greeted by thrilled fans in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur

Welcome to KL: Arsenal were greeted by thrilled fans in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur

Welcome to KL: Arsenal were greeted by thrilled fans in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur

Welcome to KL: Arsenal were greeted by thrilled fans in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur

Welcome to KL: Arsenal were greeted by thrilled fans in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur

And waiting for them at Kuala Lumpur airport was a throng of supporters just desperate for a look at the club's true heroes.

The 24-man squad is shorn of several first-team regulars still recovering from their exertions at Euro 2012, but nonetheless contains plenty of world-famous faces.

Theo Walcott – himself in contract discussions with the club – is the star turn, while Alex Song is certainly the most striking, arriving as he did wearing an astonishing pair of trainers and topped with his now trademark crazy hairstyle.

Are you sitting comfortably: Alex Song relaxes in the bedroom on the team flight to Malaysia

Are you sitting comfortably: Alex Song relaxes in the bedroom on the team flight to Malaysia

Have your cake and eat it: Theo Walcott and Vito Mannone broke off their pre-season diet regime

Have your cake and eat it: Theo Walcott and Vito Mannone broke off their pre-season diet regime

The players had travelled in glorious
comfort, with access to beds and, in Walcott and goalkeeper Vito
Mannone's case, chocolate cake. Johan Djourou and Lukas Fabianski even
got behind the bar.

So much for getting fit for the new season. But, hey, if the captain's not around to keep tabs on you…

Back in Britain, the fight for Van Persie's signature between Manchester duo City and United, as well as Juventus in Italy, continues.

The best, bar none: Johan Djourou and Lukasz Fabianski kept the team topped up

The best, bar none: Johan Djourou and Lukasz Fabianski kept the team topped up

Victory through harmony: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Carl Jenkinson celebrate the leg room on board

Victory through harmony: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Carl Jenkinson celebrate the leg room on board

United’s move to sign last season's Premier League top goalscorer is hanging in the balance because Arsenal are refusing to budge on their 30 million valuation.

City, meanwhile, want to sell either Edin Dzeko or Carlos Tevez before committing to a big deal for Van Persie. But they will need to act swiftly to take advantage of Arsenal’s impasse with United and mollify manager Roberto Mancini.

Nicklas Bendtner wanted by Dortmund

Dortmund chase Bendtner as Wenger prepares Arsenal clear-out

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UPDATED:

21:18 GMT, 22 May 2012

Arsenal have opened discussions with a host of clubs over their unwanted stars as they attempt to slash 23million off their wage bill this summer.

Negotiations have already taken place with Zenit St Petersburg over the permanent transfer of Andrey Arshavin, who spent the end of last season on loan at his boyhood club.

Borussia Dortmund are understood to have inquired about striker Nicklas Bendtner, who has returned to Arsenal after his loan spell at Sunderland.

Clear-out: Bendtner (left) and Arshavin (right) had loan spells at Sunderland and Zenit St Petersburg respectively last season

Clear-out: Bendtner (left) and Arshavin (right) had loan spells at Sunderland and Zenit St Petersburg respectively last season

Clear-out: Bendtner (left) and Arshavin (right) had loan spells at Sunderland and Zenit St Petersburg respectively last season

Arsenal are aware of interest from Espanyol in Mexico forward Carlos Vela, who spent last season at La Liga club Real Sociedad, while Bolton have registered an interest in taking Ryo Miyaichi back on loan after his spell last season.

The Gunners are also seeking buyers for Marouane Chamakh, Denilson and Johan Djourou.

It is also understood the club will try to negotiate a contract settlement with Sebastien Squillaci, who has a year left to run on his deal.

Manuel Almunia’s contract expires next month while fellow goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski also wants to leave, with both interesting newly promoted West Ham.

Lukasz Fabianski wants to leave Arsenal

Frustrated Fabianski plans to leave Arsenal after losing No 1 spot

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UPDATED:

11:28 GMT, 18 May 2012

Lukasz Fabianski is desperate to leave Arsenal after enduring a frustrating season on the bench.

The Poland international has lost his position as the Gunners' No 1 to compatriot Wojciech Szczesny.

And the 27-year-old revealed he wanted to quit in the January transfer window but was refused permission by manager Arsene Wenger.

End of the road: Lukasz Fabianski wants to leave Arsenal this summer

End of the road: Lukasz Fabianski wants to leave Arsenal this summer

'I hope that my adventure with Arsenal has come to an end,' Fabianski told Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza.

'I intend to leave and play in a strong league. I wanted to leave in the winter, too, but Arsene Wenger did not give a green light.'

Safe hands: Wojciech Szczesny has established himself as Arsenal's No 1

Safe hands: Wojciech Szczesny has established himself as Arsenal's No 1

Fabianski, who has 20 caps for his country, joined Arsenal five years ago but has struggled with injury and has been culpable of several high-profile errors.

Poland coach Franciszek Smuda has called him up to the provisional 26-man squad for Euro 2012 but he is expected to again play second fiddle to Szczesny.