New Cash-Happy Arsenal Set to Buy Huntelaar after Sealing Big Sponsor Deal?

The big news of last week for Arsenal was that they signed a contract extension with Emirates that will total 150 million pounds over the course of five years to keep the airline company’s name on the front of Arsenal jerseys.  For the Gunners this is a huge financial bonus that has fans crying for manager Arsene Wenger to buy some new additions to the squad.  Almost immediately after the big money move for the club was announced, it seemed rumors began to spread that Arsenal may be looking to sign Klaas-Jan Huntelaar.  Personally, I see this as the perfect move for both the player and team.

Huntelaar is a wonderful Dutch striker playing for Schalke 04 in Germany’s Bundesliga.  Last season he scored an astounding 48 goals in 47 total matches in all competitions.  He led the Budesliga with 29 goals, and helped his side reach the UEFA Champions League.  Facing Arsenal in the tournament’s group stage, Huntelaar scored twice in two matches, and his team earned four points off of the Gunners to take control of their group.  Apparently he caught the eye of Wenger in those games.

With his contract set to expire at season’s end, a move seems perfect.  Arsenal needs to replace striker Robin van Persie, now of Manchester United.  Huntelaar has always been the number two man for the Netherlands in international matches, and if he could become the new top man in England, he might just usurp that position.  He would have every opportunity to compete against his compatriot, and if he led Arsenal to glory, what Dutch coach could deny his starting role?  This is the perfect way for Huntelaar to emerge from Van Persie’s shadow!

For Arsenal the move is a no-brainer as well. Although the team recently purchased forwards Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud over the summer, only Giroud is a true striker.  And Giroud even stated upon arriving at the club that he didn’t intend to replace Van Persie.  Giroud is a good striker with a large stature, but currently Arsenal has no real depth behind him.  The option used so far this season has been the erratic Gervinho, whose play is best suited for the wing.

Think of the strikers at Arsenal’s competitors: Manchester City houses Sergio Aguero, Mario Balotelli, Edin Dzeko, and Carlos Tevez (4 world-class strikers!).  United boast a forward trio of Van Persie, Wayne Rooney, and Javier Hernandez.  Arsenal just has Giroud.

After their grand announcement of the new Emirates deal, the team stumbled to a 0-0 draw against Aston Villa.  Goal scoring has been a touchy subject for the Gunners this season.  They are tied for just fifth in the EPL with 23 goals from 13 matches.  This is the same mark as teams like West Bromwich, Everton, and Tottenham; not the stuff you’d expect from a team with a history like Arsenal.

Huntelaar brings experience and talent to the team.  He has been described by Dutch manager Louis van Gaal, as the “best player in the world, bar none (in the penalty box).”  At age 29, he is in his absolute prime and has played for many prestigious clubs including Real Madrid and AC Milan.  If he brings his talents to North London, Arsenal could once again have a fearsome attack, and Huntelaar may well be on his way to earning a starting spot for his national team.  Although Schalke may hold onto him until summer based on their good Champions League form, Huntelaar would be wise to join Arsenal sometime soon.

Chelsea’s Fast Start Smoldering Apart

One month ago Chelsea was cruising along in the English Premier League, brushing aside any and all opposition with ease.  After two victories against London rivals Tottenham and Arsenal, it appeared that Chelsea would be the pride of England after adding young superstars like Eden Hazard and Oscar to their midfield ranks over the summer.  But the EPL is a long and treacherous season and in the past fortnight Chelsea has suffered two draws and two defeats, sending the “Blues” down to third place and their fans into a slight panic with cries towards their owner to spend, spend, and spend come January.

It all began with a controversial match against Manchester United, where two Chelsea players were sent off and cries of a racist referee emerged from the team.  Their next two results ended in draws, one during a hard-fought away match at Swansea when Pablo Hernandez equalized with just minutes remaining.  Then Liverpool travelled to Stamford Bridge and claimed a point through a Luis Suarez goal.  However, this weekend’s trip to West Bromwich provided for a painful result as the high-flying West Bromwich side defeated Chelsea 2-1.

This weekend Chelsea hosts league leaders Manchester City, a full four points ahead in the leader’s position.  Manchester City are the defending league champions and are the second installment of super wealthy owners who have revolutionized average Premier League clubs.  Their feared lineup includes an exciting array of strikers like Carlos Tevez, Edin Dzeko, Mario Balotelli, and Sergio Aguero, each capable of taking over any game.

Chelsea, although a very strong side, is currently in great need of a decent striker.  50 million pound man Fernando Torres should go down as the worst transfer of all time, as the player has done nothing to merit wearing the Chelsea jersey, let alone cost the club that sort of money.  Backup striker Daniel Sturridge is a decent prospect, but doesn’t quite bring the talents a club like Chelsea would need.  It was always going to be a tough task to replace Didier Drogba, but after starting the season brightly, Chelsea have stumbled and their lack of a striker has been pointed to as the reason.

The team does own the rights to Romelu Lukaku, but the exciting Belgian is very young and is currently enjoying a loan spell at West Bromwich.  Dubbed the second coming of Drogba himself, Lukaku is a powerful and physical player who will very likely represent the future of the club’s offense.

But at the moment, Chelsea need a player and January will possibly provide just that.  The guy everyone wants at the club is Radamel Falcao.  The Columbian striker caught the club’s eyes after a dominating hat trick in the UEFA Super Cup match in August, when Atletico Madrid pounded Chelsea 4-1.  Since then, Falcao has led Atletico Madrid to second place in Spain’s La Liga and is third on the goals scored table with ten goals.  Although third isn’t that great, he is only following the soccer overlords of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.  For Chelsea fans, Falcao is the man they want, and the team would do wise to purchase him in January.

However, Chelsea is a fundamentally flawed club in their quest to simply buy the biggest names. Case in point: Fernando Torres.  Yes, they compete by simply buying the best players of the moment, but that strategy results in a team of over-paid prima donna’s who don’t click like a team.  Although Chelsea has won recent trophies, it seems as if their star is fading fast this year, and January is still seven EPL matches away, so they’d better start simply re-discovering that winning formula because any outside help is still quite a ways away.

Jack Wilshere Returns to Arsenal Side But Must Cool his Head

Arsenal fans have had to wait for over a year since Jack Wilshere’s nagging injury first kept him out of soccer.  He has now played in two matches since his return and once again looks like a bright prospect in the Gunners’ midfield.  However, his recent showing against Manchester United saw him sent off for two dangerous challenges and leaves me with the impression that the young player still has a lot of growing up to do.

Wilshere’s return match against QPR was very impressive.  He had a perfect pass completion rate throughout the first half before fatigue led to his substitution later in the game.  Although the side was unable to find the net with him on the pitch, he did provide a golden opportunity for Aaron Ramsey that hit the crossbar.  It was a frustrating day for Arsenal, though they did manage a late goal to beat the struggling QPR.

Wilshere then faced with a much stiffer test this past weekend as the team traveled to Old Trafford to take on Manchester United, and this showed a more vicious side of the English central midfielder.

In both his yellow-carded tackles, Wilshere deserved to be booked.  The second was the result of a rash decision to step into the leg of Patrice Evra with his studs up, and he was rightly sent off.  Clearly, the player was frustrated with the proceedings as Arsenal had yet to manage a single shot on target and had just fallen behind 2-0, but this is where maturity is so vital for quality players.  The sending off left Arsenal without a hope in the world at making a comeback, and after the thrilling midweek encounter (when Arsenal came back to win from 4-0 down to Reading), one must rue Wilshere’s inability to contain his anger.

This is a trait that has been seen before in the youngster and will limit him.  Arsenal do need a more physical and aggressive approach at times, but Wilshere needs to learn when to engage in hard tackles and when not to.  Already on a yellow card from an earlier challenge, he should not have gone in so hard.

And so the highly anticipated return of Jack Wilshere is moving along at a less-than-spectacular pace, but that should be expected given his length of absence from soccer.  Players rarely come back into a side and impact games after such injuries.  Also, Wilshere is having to get used to a whole host of new team mates.  These are his first matches with nearly the entire squad including Mikel Arteta, Santi Cazorla, Olivier Giroud, Lukas Podolski, and Per Mertesacker.  Thus, Wilshere is currently just like a “new signing” and will have to become more acquainted with his team.

I do think that he will learn to play less dangerously, but such changes take time.  Perhaps starting him at Old Trafford in only his second game back was something of a stretch for the player, but if he is to become Arsenal’s leader, he will need to gain experience in the high profile matches.  Either way, Jack Wilshere will now have a bit of a break from action due to his suspension, and perhaps that is a good thing for him given his need to slowly edge back into the Arsenal side from his injury.