Tag Archives: laurent

Arsenal"s Laurent Koscielny passed fit to face Bayern Munich

Koscielny shakes off bug to be passed fit for Arsenal ahead of Bayern showdown

By
Declan Warrington

PUBLISHED:

13:33 GMT, 19 February 2013

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UPDATED:

13:58 GMT, 19 February 2013

Laurent Koscielny is fit to play for Arsenal against Bayern Munich tonight.

The defender missed yesterday's training session because of a bug the Gunners feared would rule him out of the crucial Champions League fixture at the Emirates Stadium.

But manager Arsene Wenger has since learned his fellow Frenchman can be relied upon and Koscielny is likely to play at centre half alongside Per Mertesacker.

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Fit: Laurent Koscielny has been made available for selection for tonight's fixture against Bayern Munich

Fit: Laurent Koscielny has been made available for selection for tonight's fixture against Bayern Munich

Captain Thomas Vermaelen is consequently
likely to feature at left back with Bacary Sagna at right back. Carl
Jenkinson will also be included in the squad as cover for Koscielny.

The defender's return represents a significant boost for Arsenal in stressful circumstances. A heavy defeat tonight will end their last hopes of ending a run of eight years without a trophy and at a time when Wenger has been under more pressure, and receiving more criticism, than ever.

Arsene Wenger

Theo Walcott

In Arsene we trust Wenger is under considerable pressure but has put his faith in Walcott as the lone striker

Predicted Arsenal line up: Szczesny; Sagna, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Vermaelen; Arteta, Wilshere, Ramsey; Cazorla, Podolski; Walcott.

VIDEO Arsene Wenger at training with the squad a day after his angry outbursts

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VIDEO Bayern's Schweinsteiger and Neuer talk about the Arsenal game

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Arsenal"s Jack Wilshere was forced off with a thigh injury against Sunderland

Arsenal face anxious wait over Wilshere as England star hobbles off at Sunderland

By
Thom Drake

PUBLISHED:

16:42 GMT, 9 February 2013

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UPDATED:

09:54 GMT, 10 February 2013

Jack Wilshere was forced off during his Arsenal's 1-0 victory against Sunderland with a thigh injury after being bodychecked by Alfred N'Diaye.

There didn't seem to be a great deal
of contact from the new Sunderland signing, but it was enough for Wilshere to be replaced by Abou Diaby as Arsenal looked to keep hold of their lead.

Arsene Wenger was visibly furious with the physical nature of Sunderland's tackling, as his playmaker was left on the floor on more than one occasion.

After the match the Arsenal manager said that Wilshere 'can't walk properly now', but hopes he will only be out for around four or five days.

Down: Jack Wilshere was in distress when receiving treatment after the collision

Down: Jack Wilshere was in distress when receiving treatment after the collision

Furious: As Wilshere hobbled off, Arsene Wenger was irate with the referee

Furious: As Wilshere hobbled off, Arsene Wenger was irate with the referee

Laurent Koscielny, who was initially
named on the Arsenal teamsheet, had to be withdrawn just before kick-off
after limping out of the warm up with a calf injury.

He had passed a fitness test before
the game, but was unable to take to the pitch, meaning Bacary Sagna had
to play centre back and Carl Jenkinson came in at right back.

Arsenal were also made to play the last 30 minutes without Carl Jenkinson, who was sent off for two
yellow cards, the second being a silly lunge on Stephane Sessegnon.

He will be suspended for their FA Cup fifth-round clash against Blackburn on Saturday.

They
held on to pick up a 1-0 victory at the Stadium of Light after Santi
Cazorla had put the Gunners ahead in the first half with a low shot past
Simon Mignolet.

Fighting: Wilshere and N'Diaye go head to head for the ball

Fighting: Wilshere and N'Diaye go head to head for the ball

Smash: Bramble came in with a heavy tackle on the Arsenal midfielder

Smash: Titus Bramble came in with a heavy tackle on the Arsenal midfielder

Wilshere's injury comes the day after Wenger had said that the England star needed to be protected from burnout and future injuries.

He had played a leading role in their 2-1 win when Brazil visited Wembley, outshining the likes of Ronaldinho and Neymar.

However Wenger was more philosophical: 'It is not just the physical aspect, but the mental pressure every time he plays. We will have to manage him well physically to make sure he doesn't face that burnout.

'I had in fact expected Jack to play only a part of the game on
Wednesday, but it didn't happen and because of his quality he will be
exposed to that, the overuse of his quality, and you can understand that.

'He will have to be managed like everyone else.'

Competitive: Wilshere and Lee Cattermole getting to grips with each other in the middle of the park

Competitive: Wilshere and Lee Cattermole getting to grips with each other in the middle of the park

Winner: Santi Cazorla's strike was the only goal of the game

Winner: Santi Cazorla's strike was the only goal of the game

Michael Owen facing FA rap for throwing punch at Mikel Arteta

Saint Michael's halo slips with Owen facing FA rap for throwing punch at Arteta

By
Ian Ridley

PUBLISHED:

22:09 GMT, 2 February 2013

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UPDATED:

09:36 GMT, 3 February 2013

Michael Owen could face a retrospective disciplinary charge from the FA after attempting to throw a punch at Arsenal's Mikel Arteta in Stoke City's 1-0 defeat at the Emirates.

The former England striker, who had been brought on as a late substitute, reacted fiercely to a strong tackle from the Spaniard and aimed a right-hander – missed by referee Chris Foy – that connected only weakly with Arteta's shoulder.

Flashpoint: Michael Owen loses his cool as he clashes with Arsenal's Jack Wilshere after a heavy tackle by Gunners' Mikel Arteta

Flashpoint: Michael Owen loses his cool
as he clashes with Arsenal's Jack Wilshere after a heavy tackle by Gunners' Mikel Arteta

Flashpoint: Michael Owen loses his cool as he clashes with Arsenal's Jack Wilshere after a heavy tackle by Gunners' Mikel Arteta

Flashpoint: Michael Owen loses his cool
as he clashes with Arsenal's Jack Wilshere after a heavy tackle by Gunners' Mikel Arteta

Owen then squared up to Jack Wilshere, who had rushed to the scene and the two players became embroiled in a pushing match.

The incident came amid a bad-tempered end to a match, in which Stoke contested Lukas Podolski's winner, between two clubs with a history of confrontation dating back to an incident when Aaron Ramsey broke a leg in a challenge from Ryan Shawcross three years ago.

Shawcross was again in trouble, receiving a yellow card that some will argue should have been red, as he slid into a challenge against Laurent Koscielny with studs up.

'I thought the Arteta challenge was a poor one but Michael shouldn't do that,' said Stoke manager Tony Pulis.

'That should be left to the referee.' Asked whether he expected Owen to be charged retrospectively, Pulis added: 'Let's see what they say. But I think it should have been a free-kick for us.

'If Michael has done what he has done and they look at it, they will deal with it.'

Pain game: This was the rash challenge that sparked the flashpoint

Stoking the flames: This was the rash challenge that sparked the flashpoint

Michael Owen and Arteta

Pulis was also aggrieved when Glenn Whelan was booked for a tackle that Stoke felt was not a free-kick and that Shawcross had needed four stitches in a leg wound after the challenge with Koscielny.

Jon Walters also required six stitches in a head wound after a clash of heads with Arsenal's 8million debutant Nacho Monreal. 'Glenn's was never a booking and when that went against us like that, it irritates you,' said Pulis. Arsene Wenger, meanwhile, felt that Shawcross should have been sent off.

'It looked it to me [to be a sending off] but I will have to look at it again,' said the Arsenal manager. 'I am maybe not completely objective with Ryan Shawcross, that is why I am cautious with my statement.'

Wenger had, however, not seen the Owen punch and so could not comment.

Arsenal boss Arsenal Wenger: Manchester City and United haven"t been spectacular

Next 12 games will reveal if Arsenal can challenge 'unspectacular' Manchester clubs for Premier League title, says Wenger

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UPDATED:

16:32 GMT, 30 November 2012

Arsene Wenger feels the next 12 matches will determine whether his side can force their way back into contention for a shot at the Barclays Premier League title.

The Gunners head into Saturday's clash against Swansea down in seventh place, some 12 points behind leaders Manchester United following their midweek draw at Everton.

However, with four of Arsenal's upcoming December league games set to be played at the Emirates Stadium, Wenger is confident his team can use home advantage to catapult themselves up the table.

Centre of attention: Arsenal will host Swansea at The Emirates on Saturday

Centre of attention: Arsenal will host Swansea at The Emirates on Saturday

'We will come back. Now we have six games, four at home, and if we do well in this block I think we have a chance to come back, but of course it is vital for us to do well in these games,' Wenger told Arsenal Player.

'At the moment the two Manchester sides [are top]. They have not been spectacular, but efficient, and they have made the maximum of the chances they have created.

'For example, Manchester United have already lost three games and have lost in the Champions League as well. It is exactly what we have done, but they took more points and had less draws than we did. That has been the difference until now.'

With Laurent Koscielny set for around a month on the sidelines after limping off at Goodison Park with a thigh strain, captain Thomas Vermaelen looks set to return to the centre of defence against the Swans.

The Belgian has been utilised on the left in recent weeks, but produced a solid display helping shackle countryman Marouane Fellaini and track Croatia frontman Nikica Jelavic.

'It was certainly his best game since the start of the season in this position,' said Wenger. 'That will boost his confidence and hopefully get out of his mind what happened before when he was not completely confident.

'He was physically sharp, confident, calm and important for us.'

Swansea come to Emirates Stadium on the back of their midweek win over in-form West Brom. Michael Laudrup's men are only a point and a place below the Gunners and Wenger maintains there can be no thoughts of complacency.

Thomas Vermaelen and Kieran Gibbs

Jack Wilshere

In training: Thomas Vermaelen, Kieran Gibbs and Jack Wilshere are to set to face Swansea at The Emirates

'They [Swansea] have bought intelligently and of course that gives them the basis they had last year, and the addition of the players they have brought in. It makes them dangerous.

'Of course [Brendan Rodgers] has made the basis of what the club is today and Michael Laudrup has added some players he knew from Spain who are very good additions.

'They have Michu, Pablo Hernandez, (Jonathan) de Guzman, these players and keeping Britton, Rangel and the players at the back.

'Swansea are a dangerous side throughout, and having a good season. They are a complete unit, very creative, very technical and very mobile.'

Arsenal will check on the fitness of right-back Bacary Sagna, who has a foot injury, while forward Theo Walcott, who fired the Gunners ahead inside a minute at Everton, will also be assessed after taking a knock to his ankle.

Arsenal defender Laurent Koscielny out until Christmas with groin injury

Koscielny KO: Gunners defender out until Christmas after groin blow

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UPDATED:

10:21 GMT, 29 November 2012

Laurent Koscielny will be out of action until Christmas after the French international limped out of Arsenal's 1-1 draw at Everton with a groin injury on Wednesday night.

The news will come as a disappointment to Gunners boss Arsene Wenger, who had to replace Koscielny just four minutes into the Barclays Premier League clash with full-back Kieran Gibbs.

Blow: Arsenal's Laurent Koscienly (R) is out until Christmas with a groin injury - FILE PICTURE

Blow: Arsenal's Laurent Koscienly (R) is out until Christmas with a groin injury – FILE PICTURE

Gibbs himself has only just returned from a similar injury problem but is certain to deputise in Koscielny's place for the next three weeks at least.

'He [Koscielny] has a groin strain. That’s usually three weeks,' Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger told reporters at Goodison Park.

Arsenal had taken the lead after only 51 seconds via winger Theo Walcott but the visitors’ defensive frailties were again apparent as a poor error by Bacary Sagna allowed Everton to equalise through Marouane Fellaini.

A poor pass by the French international saw Steven Pienaar dispossess Mikel Arteta but the fullback then wasted a second chance to clear as he kicked the ball straight to Fellaini who fired home in the 27th minute.

Theo Walcott out of Arsenal v Montpellier with shoulder injury

Walcott forced out of Montpellier clash but Wenger hopes shoulder injury is not serious

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UPDATED:

14:20 GMT, 20 November 2012

Theo Walcott has been ruled out of Arsenal's Champions League clash with Montpellier on Wednesday due to a shoulder problem.

The England forward sustained the injury during Arsenal's 5-2 derby win over Tottenham at the weekend but was able to play on and scored the Gunners' fifth goal in injury-time at the end of the match.

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger revealed Walcott had not trained on Tuesday and would have a scan to determine the extent of the injury although he thought it would be short-term.

Warming up: (left-right) Santi Cazorla, Laurent Koscielny, Johan Djourou in training at London Colney on Tuesday

Warming up: (left-right) Santi Cazorla, Laurent Koscielny, Johan Djourou in training at London Colney

Stretch: Jack Wilshere prepares for the Champions League match against Montpellier

Stretch: Jack Wilshere prepares for the Champions League match against Montpellier on Wednesday

Gervinho is back in the squad for the Emirates Stadium tie.

Wenger hopes Walcott's problem will not prove too severe.

He said at Tuesday afternoon's pre-match press conference: 'The injury he got during the game with his shoulder, we have to scan that today and see if there is no damage. He will be out for tomorrow. It should be short-term.

'We will miss [Andre] Santos as well, who has a muscle strain in his abdomen. The two players coming in the squad are Gervinho and [Kieran] Gibbs.'

Keen eyes: Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger with coaches Steve Bould (left) and Neil Banfield (right)

Keen eyes: Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger with coaches Steve Bould (left) and Neil Banfield (right)

Lukas leading the way: Podolski (front) and team-mates warm-up on Tuesday morning

Lukas leading the way: Podolski (front) and team-mates warm-up on Tuesday morning

Walcott, 23, has yet to agree new deal at Arsenal, and as such could leave at the end of the season on a free transfer.

Wenger has ruled out selling the forward during the January transfer window should the impasse over negotiations not be resolved.

The Gunners boss said: 'There's a risk, yes, but that we are ready to take.

'A successful season is more important for us than this risk that is only a financial risk, apart from the losing the player.

'If we sell him, we lose him anyway.

On the ball: Midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain works on his passing with Wilshere

On the ball: Midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain works on his passing with Wilshere

At work: (left-right) Olivier Giroud, Francis Coquelin, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Carl Jenkinson and Thomas Vermaelen

At work: (left-right) Olivier Giroud, Francis Coquelin, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Carl Jenkinson, Thomas Vermaelen

'I believe that we started the season with this squad and we want to finish the season with this squad.

'What is important is what we achieve together for the season – to do that I just think that Theo is a big part in that.'

Arsenal and Spurs stars in kits from 125 years ago and legends recall favourite derby moments

As Arsenal and Spurs stars pose for Sportsmail in the kits from 125 years ago, north London legends recall their favourite derby moments…

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UPDATED:

00:01 GMT, 16 November 2012

Record – all competitions

Arsenal wins: 98

Tottenham wins: 81

Draws: 62

Abandoned 2

On a wintry November afternoon 125 years ago, the beginning of something special was born on Tottenham Marshes.

The newly formed Royal Arsenal were the visitors to face Tottenham, the sides meeting for the first time in what would become the north London derby. Back then, Arsenal, who had been formed just a year earlier as Dial Square, were based in Woolwich. Spurs had been formed five years previously.

Their first meeting had to be abandoned, Arsenal arriving so late it got dark before the end of a match that Spurs were leading 2-1.

If that was a bit of a damp squib, what followed was not. There have been goalfests, Arsenal's 'Double' decider in 1971 and Invincible title in 2004, a couple of sizzling Spurs semi-final wins, great comebacks and no shortage of passion.

Here, some of the greats who have played in the fixture pick their favourite games.

The way they were: From left, Laurent Koscielny, Tomas Rosicky, Gervinho, Olivier Giroud and Jermain Defoe, Michael Dawson, Kyle Walker and Jake Livermore

The way they were: From left, Laurent Koscielny, Tomas Rosicky,
Gervinho, Olivier Giroud and Jermain Defoe, Michael Dawson, Kyle Walker and Jake Livermore

Alex Kay on the photo shoot

Doing work for the media is never going to be high up on the list of things footballers want to do. But all eight players who took part in this picture were fantastic.

We bought the kit in to them and all took an interest straight away, surprised that the clubs' crests were different 125 years ago and amazed that players used to take to the field in such thick material. Tomas Rosicky and Michael Dawson were quick to spot that you wouldn't want to sweat in the heavy tops.

There was genuine interest in the history of the derby too, as well as amazement at the length of the shorts!

It was nice that some of the players asked to keep the shirts. Olivier Giroud didn't take his off after the shoot, Jake Livermore kept his as a birthday present (it was good of him to take part on his birthday) and an excited Jermain Defoe had his name and No 18 put on the back of his before running around excitedly to show his team-mates.

It was fun to do, something different and made me realise that footballers get a hard rap sometimes.

CLIFF JONES

Tottenham 1958-68 (370 appearances, 159 goals)

I signed from Swansea in February 1958 and my first game was against Arsenal at Highbury. I was doing my national service in the King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery so I was Gunner Jones, strangely enough. I travelled by Tube from St John's Wood to the Marble Halls.

Bill Nicholson said I had to be at the ground at 1.30pm. I got to Highbury and there was this big commissionaire standing at the door and he wouldn't let me in. He didn't recognise me. I said I'd just signed for Tottenham and he said: 'I've heard that one before, son.' I told him to get Bill, which he did.

Bill shook my hand, then looked at his watch and said: '/11/15/article-2233668-160CD52F000005DC-278_470x423.jpg” width=”470″ height=”423″ alt=”Olivier Giroud” class=”blkBorder” />

Laurent Koscielny

Tip top: Arsenal stars Olivier Giroud (left) and Laurent Koscielny

MICKY HAZARD

Tottenham 1978-85, 93-95 (170 apps, 25 goals)

It was in 1982, we played at Highbury. We won 3-1. I made two goals and scored a wonder goal. I was voted man of the match as well. It was the best goal I ever scored for Spurs. Ricky Villa passed the ball to me on the right-hand side a yard inside their half. I went past one player, then I went past a second. Then John Hollins, who later signed me for Chelsea, came out. He was playing right back but I skipped past him about 25 yards from goal then rifled it into the top corner with my left foot. The Arsenal players had adverts on their shirts, and in those days they weren't allowed, so the match never got televised. Very frustrating! Whenever anyone asks about a favourite memory, it's always linked to when you've played great or scored. I did both.

ANDERS LIMPAR

Arsenal 1990-94 (116 apps, 20 goals)

MY first derby was the third game into the 1990 season at Highbury. Gazza played and he kicked me down early on. I was on the floor with my shinpad split in two and he stood over me and said: 'Welcome to England you f*****g Swede.' I had to have two stitches in my leg. That was the perfect introduction to English football from Gazza. I loved it. When it came to Tony Adams firing up all the guys in the dressing room, it was amazing to see him before the games against Spurs. He was frothing like a bull. For me he was always man of the match against Spurs. He was Mr Arsenal and I was honoured to play with a captain like that. JURGEN KLINSMANN Tottenham 1994-95, 1997-98 (68 apps, 38 goals)

IT was a game late in the season, a 1-1 draw at Highbury in April 1995. I scored a header and, even though I felt we should have won, I remember the atmosphere being special. I was up front with Teddy Sheringham and he was such an intelligent player to play with. That season, I won Footballer of the Year, which was very special. I've played in many derbies but none mean more to the fans than this one.

Michael Dawson

Jake Livermore

Flash: Spurs duo Michael Dawson (left) and Jake Livermore

CHARLIE NICHOLAS

Arsenal 1983-88 (184 apps, 54 goals)

I was under a lot of pressure from
our fans, especially in my first derby because I'd not scored in 10 or
12 games. But they were really supportive. When I went to White Hart
Lane and scored twice, it helped me bed in with the Arsenal fans. A few
were questioning whether I would fit into the system and my goals
against Spurs helped. After the match we had a few drinks with the Spurs
boys in the players' room. There was no malice or anger. We'd been
kicking lumps out of each other for 90 minutes but let it go after the
game. Graham Rix and I used to go for a drink and we'd meet up with
Glenn Hoddle, even Graham Roberts at times.

JAMIE REDKNAPP

Tottenham 2002-05 (49 apps, 4 goals)

I played in that 2-2 draw against the Invincibles at White Hart Lane. At half-time, it could have been 6-0 – Pires, Henry, Vieira, Cole and Campbell were immense. We were delighted to only be 2-0 down. Then I scored after the break with a decent strike past Jens Lehmann, who then gave away a very dubious penalty to Robbie Keane in the last minute. We equalised but the draw meant they won the league. It was odd in that sense as both teams were happy. They won the title but we had a result against the best team in Premier League history. We were buzzing, we'd got out of jail. We'd been outclassed.

Smokin': Ashley Cole leads celebrations after Arsenal won the title at White Hart Lane in 2004

Smokin': Ashley Cole leads celebrations after Arsenal claimed league title at White Hart Lane in 2004

Not for faint-hearted: Tottenham's Graham Roberts and Arsenal's Charlie Nicholas end up in the crowd

Not for faint-hearted: Tottenham's Graham Roberts and Arsenal's Charlie Nicholas end up in the crowd

BILLY McCULLOUGH

Arsenal 1958-66 (268 apps, five goals)

My first derby was at Highbury when Dave Mackay and Danny Blanchflower beat us. But it is the 4-4 at White Hart Lane in October 1962 that sticks in my memory. We had a centre half, Laurie Brown, who had been transferred to Tottenham earlier in the year. He didn't take much abuse though, I don't think it was as bad then. If anyone says they're not nervous when they play in a derby, there's something wrong with them. You can feel the tension in the dressing room before you run out, but once you're out there you're just concentrating. Afterwards, we'd have a cup of tea or a bottle of beer with the other players and their wives. There was never much animosity.

STEVE PERRYMAN

Tottenham 1969-86 (854 apps, 39 goals)

I probably played more derbies than any other Spurs player. The strangest was when the great Pat Jennings – who played for both clubs and was then with Arsenal – was given the red book at the end of a game for This Is Your Life. It had to be secret so no one could tell him. Some of us from Tottenham were invited to travel on the Arsenal bus to the studios. The Spurs fans were making their feelings known to the visiting bus as it left – until they saw some familiar faces on board – one being me. It was a special event to go to, but if you were a Spurs fan you'd probably think we shouldn't have been on that bus! I got in the team under Bill Nicholson and he was the type who would pull you up if you drove a red car or had a red coat. If an office lady had a red coat, he'd make her life a misery. If there was a speck of red in your tie, watch out. I got the message. There's more respect between the two clubs than some other derbies. After my heart problems I had messages from Arsenal fans, which was particularly nice.

Tottenham's Steve Perryman takes on Arsenal's John Hollins

True colours: Spurs legend Steve Perryman got the message

Magic moment: Paul Gascoigne scores with a free kick against Arsenal in 1991 FA Cup semi-final

Magic moment: Paul Gascoigne scores with a free kick against Arsenal in 1991 FA Cup semi-final

CHRIS HUGHTON

Tottenham 1977-90 (398 apps, 19 goals)

WITHOUT a doubt our 5-0 win at home in April 1983. I'd watched from the sidelines in 1978 as Liam Brady scored a wonder goal when Arsenal won by the same scoreline, so it felt great for our fans to win so emphatically. On a personal note it was great as I scored two.

PERRY GROVES

Arsenal 1986-92 (120 apps, 28 goals)

There's no better feeling than scoring the winner in front of the North Bank – I know because I did it in March 1988. I'm probably being self-indulgent but it was magical. The game was live on ITV, which was massive back then because not many games were broadcast. We were 1-0 up thanks to Alan Smith and I was played through in the 24th minute. The ball bounced up so sweetly for me and it was in front of the Clock End. I remember thinking: 'It's only Bobby Mimms in goal, I'll definitely score this!' But somehow I screwed my shot wide and I couldn't believe it. So you could imagine what was going through my mind when Clive Allen equalised. I was going to be hung by the fans for missing that chance. But then the moment arrived. Kenny Sansom took a throw and the ball dropped on my left foot. When the ball hit the net, it was a mix of exhilaration and relief. I dived into the North Bank!

Derby surprise: Eamonn Andrews stuns Pat Jennings

Derby surprise: Eamonn Andrews stuns Pat Jennings

GERRY FRANCIS

Tottenham boss 1994-97 (146 games)

IT has to be the 1-0 win at home on January 2, 1995. It was always going to be special because it was my first as manager. We were playing well at the time, so went into it with confidence. Gica Popescu scored the only goal and White Hart Lane erupted. To make it more special, that was the last time Tottenham finished the season as London's top club.

Arsene Wenger considers picking five defenders to boost Arsenal defence

EXCLUSIVE: Wenger considers scrapping classic back four in plans to reinforce defence

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UPDATED:

01:09 GMT, 14 November 2012

Arsene Wenger is considering ditching his trusted 4-3-2-1 formation in an attempt to tighten up Arsenal’s leaky defence.

The Gunners manager is toying with the idea of playing with five defenders, similar to the formation Roberto Mancini has tried to introduce at Manchester City this season.

Torn to pieces: Dimitar Berbatov ran rings around Arsenal's defence, including Per Mertesacker (left)

Torn to pieces: Dimitar Berbatov ran rings around Arsenal's defence, including Per Mertesacker (left)

Sportsmail
understands Wenger planned on making the switch for last week’s
Champions League clash against Schalke after his side’s defensive
troubles during the 2-1 defeat against Manchester United.

The Frenchman held a training-ground meeting to discuss the idea with his coaching staff.

It was eventually decided there was not enough time to implement the system on the training field ahead of the clash in Gelsenkirchen.

But it is understood the change of formation is still very much in the forefront of Wenger’s thoughts as his side continue to struggle defensively.

When Arsenal’s first-choice defenders are fit, the back five would consist of: Bacary Sagna at right wing-back, Laurent Koscielny, Per Mertesacker and Thomas Vermaelen as the three central defenders and Kieran Gibbs as left wing-back.

In days gone by: Tony Adams and Wenger celebrate the 1998 Premier League title

In days gone by: Tony Adams and Wenger celebrate the 1998 Premier League title

Whether or not Wenger and his coaching team decide to press ahead with the change remains to be seen, but the mere fact he is considering such a shift in tactics underlines how concerned he is by the club’s creaky back line.

The Frenchman will have just two days to prepare his side for Saturday’s crucial North London derby due to the international break, which will cause major problems in trying to reshape his defence in time.

Shift: Arsene Wenger may play with five defenders

Shift: Arsene Wenger may play with five defenders

However, after conceding just one goal in their opening four games, the Gunners have shipped 15 in their last seven outings and Wenger knows improvements have to be made to rectify the problem.

Wenger admitted his defence looked ‘fragile’ after Saturday’s 3-3 home draw against Fulham.

Case for the defence: Mertesacker joined the Gunners in the summer of 2011

Case for the defence: Mertesacker joined the Gunners in the summer of 2011

And the 63-year-old will hope to have first-choice keeper Wojciech Szczesny and Gibbs back for Saturday’s clash against Andre Villas-Boas’ men as he looks to shore up his defence.

Meanwhile, Theo Walcott, who pulled out of the England squad with a glute injury, is expected to be fit.

Boost: Theo Walcott is expected to be fit after missing England duty with an injury

Boost: Theo Walcott is expected to be fit after missing England duty with an injury

Yann M"Vila banned from France duty until 2014

Rebel M'Vila handed TWO-YEAR ban from France squads following nightclub trip

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UPDATED:

16:56 GMT, 8 November 2012

Former Arsenal and Tottenham transfer target Yann M'Vila has been suspended from the France national squad until 2014.

The 22-year-old was disciplined along with Under 21 internationals Wissam Ben Yedder, Antoine Griezman, Chris Mavinga and M'baye Niang after they visited a nightclub in between the crucial Euro 2013 qualifying matches against Norway in October.

While the other players have been handed bans lasting until December 31, 2013, Stade Rennais midfielder M'Vila, who has 22 caps, has been issued a more severe sanction, preventing him from representing his country at any level until Monday, June 30, 2014, leaving his potential participation in the World Cup in serious jeopardy.

Marching orders: Yann M'vila has been banned from the France set-up for two years

Marching orders: Yann M'vila has been banned from the France set-up for two years

Marching orders: Yann M'vila has been banned from the France set-up for two years

Previously, the midfielder was suspended for one match after refusing to shake the hand of coach Laurent Blanc and substitute Olivier Giroud when he was taken off against Spain during Euro 2012.

Meanwhile, France coach Didier Deschamps has given playmaker Yoann Gourcuff another chance to resurrect his international career by including him in the squad to play Italy.

Gourcuff has struggled with loss of form and injuries since his standout year in helping Bordeaux to the league title four seasons ago, leading to comparisons with famed No 10 Zinedine Zidane.

Blanc kept faith with him for several months last season, but then left him out from his squad for Euro 2012.

But Gourcuff has been in good form since returning to the Lyon side after a spell out through injury. He was outstanding in the 5-2 thrashing of Bastia last time out.

Theo Walcott wanted by Liverpool in in January for 8m

Kop go for Theo! Rodgers tells Liverpool to launch 8m bid for contract rebel Walcott

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UPDATED:

22:45 GMT, 1 November 2012

Liverpool are poised to launch an 8million bid to prise Theo Walcott from Arsenal in January.

The England forward is out of contract in the summer and Arsenal are trying to convince him to sign a new deal before Christmas.

The 23-year-old has rejected a five-year contract worth 75,000 a week, saying he wants to switch from the wing to a central striking role and also play more regularly.

Wrangles: Theo Walcott is in fine form for Arsenal but has not agreed a new deal

Wrangles: Theo Walcott is in fine form for Arsenal but has not agreed a new deal

Saving the day: Walcott scores Arsenal's fourth goal in the comeback at Reading

Saving the day: Walcott scores Arsenal's fourth goal in the comeback at Reading

Stats add up for Theo

The leading Arsenal goalscorers in all competitions since start of 2011/12

Goals (all comps)

Robin van Persie 37
Theo Walcott 18
Gervinho 9
Mikel Arteta 7
Yossi Benayoun 6
Thomas Vermaelen 6
Laurent Koscielny 5
Alex Oxlade-
Chamberlain 5
Lukas Podolski 4
Aaron Ramsey 4

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers is
ready to offer both those things. He wanted to sign Walcott in the
summer and will revive his efforts ahead of the January window.

Rodgers, who is desperately short of
strikers after loaning Andy Carroll to West Ham and losing Fabio Borini
to a broken foot, bemoaned his small squad following Liverpool’s Capital
One Cup defeat by Swansea.

He wants to sign two forwards with
Walcott his main target to share the goalscoring burden with Luis
Suarez. And Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger admitted on Thursday that he
may be forced to sell if Walcott fails to agree a new deal.

He said: ‘I wouldn’t like to (sell
Walcott). I’ve not even thought about that, because at the moment I
think we will still manage to make a deal with him.

'But there is urgency. How much I
don’t know, but there is urgency. We want to sort it out before
Christmas, one way or the other.’

Hands off: Brendan Rodgers will have to work hard to get Walcott

Hands off: Brendan Rodgers will have to work hard to get Walcott

Hands off: Brendan Rodgers will have to work to get Walcott from Arsene Wenger

Walcott has started just three games
this season but scored a hat-trick in Arsenal’s 7-5 win over Reading in
the Capital One Cup on Tuesday. He is their top scorer with seven goals.

Wenger added: ‘I always said it is
important that he plays in the right position and that certainly would
be through the middle in the future. He showed that again on Tuesday
night.

‘The positions on the flanks are
changing – you need to do a lot of defending and he should be dedicated
more to offensive work.

‘It’s better (for Walcott to express
his views) in private. I have always come out publicly and said that I
see him in the future through the middle as well.

‘He loves to score goals. He has good
pace, makes excellent, intelligent runs, and what has changed with Theo
is he’s become a very good finisher.

‘Take, for example, his first goal the other night at Reading. It was a real finisher’s goal.

Burden: Luis Suarez is Liverpool's only fit and firing striker

Burden: Luis Suarez is Liverpool's only fit and firing striker

‘In our team, we have freedom of
movement. Nobody is handcuffed. When we have the ball, we have a lot of
freedom to move. It’s important to know where we go, but I think Theo
has learned a lot on that.’

Walcott, who has 28 England caps, joined Arsenal from Southampton, aged 16, for 12.5m in 2006.

Arsenal would want to at least recoup
that fee but Liverpool’s offer will reflect the fact that he is free to
leave in the summer.