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A waste of money – Arsenal signing this £21m-rated Brazilian speedster would spell disaster for Emery

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Arsenal Opinion: Gunners would be better off dropping their interest in Antony this summer

According to The Sun, Arsenal are keeping close tabs on Brazilian winger Antony, who currently plies his trade in the Brazilian top flight with Sao Paulo.

The Sun understands that Ajax, PSV Eindhoven, Lyon and Monaco are all vying for the signature of the 19-year-old £21 million-rated winger, with Premier League giants sending their scouts to Brazil to watch the teenager in action.

The same source claims that Arsenal manager Unai Emery is desperate to add a new winger to his ranks in the summer transfer window and the Spaniard has set his sights on the Brazilian in a bid to bolster his ranks.

A product of Sao Paulo’s youth system, Antony signed his first professional contract with the club in September last year and broke into the first-team towards the end of the previous campaign, making 3 substitute appearances in the league.

Image result for antony footballer sao paulo

The 19-year-old has featured more regularly for the club this time around, starting on 4 occasions since the end of May. Antony has contributed with 2 assists from 4 appearances this season, although he is yet to net his first senior goal for the club.

The Brazilian prodigy has featured predominantly on the right-hand side of Sao Paulo’s attack, owing to his left-footed nature. Just like most of the teenagers coming through the youth ranks in Brazil, Antony has a wonderful technique for a player of his age and has already earned rave reviews for his silky dribbling skills.

His low centre-of-gravity allows him to keep exceptional close control and run with the ball glued to his feet, which helps him create his own space down the wide areas.

The jet-heeled, fleet-footed winger has also caught the eye with his slick passing and ability to create chances with incisive through balls in the final third. Antony boasts of a pass success rate of 82.4, including 1.3 key passes per game, figures which are a clear testament to his playmaking abilities.

To put things into perspective, Antony has shown strong signs of promise very early in his senior professional career, although he has made only 8 appearances for Sao Paulo’s first team and is yet to score his first goal.

He looks like a real talent at the moment but Arsenal should probably scout him extensively over the course of his first full season at the senior level, given that they would need to fork out a fee of £21 million to sign the winger.

Image result for antony footballer sao paulo

However, even if a move to the Premier League does materialize for Antony this summer, it would be hard for the teenager to get a taste of first-team football at the Emirates.

Antony would probably go into the youth ranks at Arsenal where it will be up to him to prove his worth and break into the senior side.

Also, Arsenal should know that Antony hasn’t represented Brazil at any youth level or at the senior level, meaning that securing a work permit for the youngster in England will be a major issue.

Indeed, the Gunners need to add talented players to their youth ranks to increase competition but they have more important things to take care of this summer.

Unai Emery is likely to have to work under serious financial constraints this summer and the transfer budget at his disposal might get even lower after narrowly missing out on a top-four finish in the Premier League.

The Spaniard needs to bring in reinforcements at centre-back, left-back, right-wing and attacking midfield to build a formidable squad but he cannot afford to cover all the bases if he doesn’t have the necessary funds in the transfer window.

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Taking the current financial situation at Arsenal into consideration, the Gunners should forget about splashing such a massive amount on Antony and focus more on bargain deals for players, who would make an immediate impact.

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Liverpool vs Arsenal: Match Preview, Team news, Predicted XI and more

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Liverpool vs Arsenal: Match Preview, Team news, Prediction and more

Liverpool host Arsenal at Anfield on Saturday with both teams hoping to extend their 100% domestic record with the third win of their Premier League season.

The Reds thrashed Norwich 4-1 in the Premier League curtain-raiser before edging past Southampton 2-1 on Saturday. Sandwiched in between was their UEFA Super Cup triumph against Chelsea in Istanbul, Turkey.

The Gunners have also enjoyed a perfect start to their season, thanks to wins over Newcastle and Burnley, but the trip to Merseyside will represent their first acid test of the new season.

Arsenal’s recent visits to Anfield have been embarrassing, to say the least. Liverpool have scored 22 goals out of 30 in some staggering victories against the north London club in recent times. So, Unai Emery has a mighty task of changing the scenario at the weekend.

Team News

For Liverpool, Alisson Becker has a suspected grade two tear and is not expected to be fit for the Arsenal game. Naby Keita has a muscle problem and will miss Saturday’s game, while Nathaniel Clyne is a long-term casualty.

Arsenal’s Hector Bellerin is continuing his recovery from a cruciate ligament injury, although he won’t be available anytime soon. New signing Kieran Tierney remains unavailable due to a groin problem but Rob Holding has participated in full training with the first-team squad.

Granit Xhaka could return after missing the Burnley win while Mesut Ozil was absent due to illness and is back in full training now.

Predicted XIs

Liverpool (4-3-3): Adrian; Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joel Matip, Virgil van Dijk, Andrew Robertson; Fabinho, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Georginio Wijnaldum; Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane.

Arsenal (3-5-2): Bernd Leno; Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, David Luiz, Nacho Monreal, Sead Kolasinac; Matteo Guendouzi, Granit Xhaka, Dani Ceballos; Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette.

Tactical Prediction

Jurgen Klopp should go with his usual 4-3-3 formation on Saturday. Adrian will continue to deputise in goal, with Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk and Robertson forming the back-four.

Having Fabinho as the shield in front of the back-four, the likes of Wijnaldum and Chamberlain should get the free license to join the attacks often and cause problems to the Arsenal defence.

Liverpool’s high press is very difficult to contain and the onus will be on Chamberlain to help drive the attack from the midfield.

The Reds are powered by their front three of Mane, Firmino and Salah. They are slowly starting to hit form but given their fantastic record at Anfield against Arsenal, Klopp will expect his fiery front three to deliver the goods.

Unai Emery, on the other hand, could revert to a back-three system on Saturday. It is a system in which many of the Arsenal central defenders feel comfortable.

David Luiz is the best ball-playing defender of the lot and he will be accompanied by Sokratis and Monreal at the back, with Maitland-Niles and Kolasinac as wing-backs.

The Gunners will look to use the width while hitting Liverpool on the counter as full-backs Alexander-Arnold and Robertson are defensively suspect and provide a lot of space behind them due to their natural attacking mindset.

Guendouzi has started the season encouragingly and should be partnered in the midfield by Xhaka, and Ceballos, who royally impressed with his performance against Burnley. It’ll be vital for Arsenal’s midfield to nullify the threat of Wijnaldum and Chamberlain while in transition.

As record-signing Pepe is still being eased in, Emery is expected to go with the two-pronged attack of Aubameyang and Lacazette. Liverpool have been shaky at the back so far in the new season, which could present Lacazette and Aubameyang with some chances to pounce on.

Predicted Result

It’ll be a wild contest in front of the ever-boisterous Anfield crowd. Expect Liverpool to dominate possession, press very hard, force mistakes and pounce on it.

Also, expect their backline to make a couple of errors and get punished by Arsenal’s attack. Nevertheless, the game should end in favour of the Reds.

Prediction: Liverpool 4-2 Arsenal

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Arsenal? Manchester United? – Which of the big clubs will achieve a top-4 finish in the PL this season?

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Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham, Man United- who will miss out on top four?

The 2018/19 Premier League title race went down to the wire, with Manchester City beating Liverpool to the crown by just a point. The team that followed them were Chelsea, Tottenham, Arsenal and Manchester United respectively.

The new season is just two games old and Liverpool and Arsenal are the only teams to have enjoyed a 100% record thus far, after Manchester United dropped points in the 1-1 draw with Wolves at Molineux on Monday.

We saw an entertaining battle between Manchester City and Tottenham end in a 2-2 draw at the Etihad last weekend, with VAR’s intervention denying the champions a late winner. These are early days but the Premier League table is shaping up very well.

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Manchester City, Liverpool, Tottenham, Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal have comprised the table’s top six in each of the previous three seasons.

Considering City and Liverpool are set to battle it out again for the Premier League title, which two teams amongst Chelsea, Tottenham, Arsenal and Manchester United will make it to the top four this time? Let’s have a look.

Chelsea

Just two games into the new season, Chelsea manager Frank Lampard is already under pressure to find some tactical answers as he is still seeking his first Premier League victory.

After the opening day mauling at the hands of Manchester United at Old Trafford, Chelsea’s performances improved in the UEFA Super Cup defeat to Liverpool and the 1-1 draw with Leicester City at the weekend, although Lampard’s men were lucky to escape with a point.

The Blues’ transfer window embargo meant Lampard couldn’t strengthen his squad in the summer. The 41-year-old had to be content with the squad set up by Maurizio Sarri but without Eden Hazard, who joined Real Madrid.

Hazard contributed directly to half of Chelsea’s league goals last season, and their attack was almost totally reliant on him. The Belgian’s departure has left a huge void and that coupled with the exits of experienced defenders Gary Cahill and David Luiz, Lampard’s Chelsea are set for a long season.

Prediction: There have been more negatives than positives in Chelsea’s first two league games and while Lampard will take time to give his side a fixed style of play, it’s difficult to see the Blues making it to the top four.

Tottenham

Against all odds, Tottenham reached the Champions League final last season only to fail at the final hurdle. A combination of their European exploits and a failure to make new signings saw their Premier League form suffer.

However, Spurs spent heavily this summer, signing players like Tanguy Ndombele, Giovani Lo Celso and Ryan Sessegnon.

Pochettino’s side have started the new campaign well, taking four points out of a possible six. Despite the departures of Kieran Trippier, Fernando Llorente and Vincent Janssen, Tottenham have been boosted by their new signings and can better last season’s finish.

Prediction: If Pochettino can keep Harry Kane fit throughout the season and get the best out of his new signings, Tottenham can threaten to make it a three-horse title race this time around.

Arsenal

There is a real buzz at Arsenal because of the arrival of new faces at the Emirates and the rollicking start they have made to the new campaign.

Victories over Newcastle and Burnley means that the Gunners have enjoyed a perfect start, although a trip to Liverpool beckons at the weekend. Considering their recent visits to Anfield, it could be all doom and gloom for the North London giants.

Nevertheless, Unai Emery will be happy with the start and would expect things to get better. On loan from Real Madrid, Dani Ceballos made quite an impact on his full debut against Burnley, while the fans also saw glimpses of quality from star man, Nicolas Pepe.

But the Gunners still look defensively shaky and that was visible in the game against Burnley.

David Luiz’s acquisition from Chelsea on the transfer deadline day was a coup but his track-record of clumsy and erratic defending will hardly fill Bernd Leno with confidence.

Then there is the error-prone Shkodran Mustafi, an ageing Sokratis Papastathopoulos and a not-yet-fit Rob Holding in central defence.

Prediction: While Pepe has given a different threat and dynamism to the Arsenal attack, Emery’s defence could again plot his downfall. They’ll miss Aaron Ramsey’s midfield vigour and big-game performances. Frankly, the Gunners won’t make it to the top four this season.

Manchester United

Despite a frustrating transfer window, Manchester United brought three new players in Daniel James, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Harry Maguire. And all three of the new signings have made an impact in the first two weeks of the new season, helping the Red Devils bag four points out of a possible six.

Ever since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013, Manchester United have only made the Premier League top-four twice. This shows just how far they’ve fallen from grace.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wants to bring the glory days back at Old Trafford by promoting young players and playing relentless attacking football.

United were defensively shambolic last season and Solskjaer strengthened his backline with the additions of Maguire and Wan-Bissaka. They lacked natural width as well and Solskjaer addressed it by bringing in the explosive Daniel James, who is also direct in his style of play.

The United boss has let go of Romelu Lukaku to Inter but didn’t sign a replacement. This seems like a plan to promote academy starlet Mason Greenwood.

Prediction: Going by the first two games, the Red Devils look more composed and secure at the back. Solskjaer’s army looks weak in the midfield and an injury to either Paul Pogba or any central midfielder could see them sweat.

Genuinely, though, the players seem sharper and fit, attacking with pace and hitting opponents on the counter. Despite some obvious weaknesses, the Red Devils’ immediate objective of steady improvement and a return to the top four seems possible.

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5 Instances when Premier League teams swapped players between themselves

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5 Instances when Premier League teams swapped players between themselves

Swap deals between clubs playing in the same league are rare occurrences in football, especially in the Premier League, where the clubs are rather reluctant to sell their star players to their rivals. Even if they do agree to do business, outright cash is what most of the clubs look for in the market.

In the summer of 2009, Inter Milan and Barcelona shook up the footballing world with one of the most audacious swap deals ever in the history of the game, exchanging two of the continent’s most prolific strikers, Samuel Eto’o and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. 

Barcelona's new signing Swedish forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic waves outside of the Nou Camp stadium in Barcelona after agreeing to terms with the Catalan club on July 26, 2009 in Barcelona.  The Swedish forward is a replacement for Barca striker Samuel Eto'o, who will join Inter as part of the 40 million pounds deal. AFP PHOTO / JOSEP LAGO (Photo credit should read JOSEP LAGO/AFP/Getty Images)

One of the earlier instances of a swap deal in the La Liga since the turn of the century came way back in 2004 when Deco made his way to Barcelona, with his compatriot Ricardo Quaresma heading back to Porto following a lean spell at the Catalan club.

When it comes to Serie A, we have even seen bitter rivals Inter Milan and AC Milan exchange players in the past, with the swap deal involving strikers Antonio Cassano and Giampaolo Pazzini in 2012 being one of the prime examples in recent times.

Coming back to the Premier League, one would really have to take a long and hard walk down the memory lane to recall the instances when English clubs gave their seal of approval to swap deals.

Well, instances of Premier League clubs interchanging players between themselves are very rare and with that in mind, let us take a look at a few occasions when players in England have actually switched boats to join their rivals. 

 1. Alexis Sanchez / Henrikh Mkhitaryan 

One of the most high-profile swap deals ever in Europe, the swap deal between Arsenal and Man United involving Armenian playmaker Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Chilean forward Alexis Sanchez just has to be at the top of this list. 

Mkhitaryan-Sanchez-swap-composite

Both Arsenal and United valued their prized assets at £35million, meaning that there was no exchange of cash when the two attackers switched clubs in January 2018.

Sanchez, who was supposed to be out of contract at the Emirates in the summer of 2018, had racked up 80 goals and 45 assists in 166 appearances for the Gunners and helped Arsene Wenger’s side to two FA Cup crowns prior to his move to Man United. 

Mkhitaryan, on the other hand, had played a key role in United’s Europa League triumph in the previous campaign but his sudden loss of form prompted the Red Devils to get him off their books. 

The swap deal dominated the headlines in the British tabloids for quite a long time but Man United came out as the obvious losers in the deal, as Sanchez struggled to settle down at his new club. He scored only 5 goals in 45 appearances until the end of the 2018-19 season, earning a staggering £500,000-a-week in the process.

On the contrary, Mkhitaryan hasn’t been a raging success at Arsenal, not anywhere close to being the playmaker that he was at Borussia Dortmund in his earlier days, but he has bettered Sanchez’s exploits at Old Trafford, nevertheless. 

2. Gylfi Sigurdsson/Ben Davies and Michel Vorm

Turning back the pages to the summer of 2014, Tottenham Hotspur and then Premier League outfit Swansea City completed an impressive swap deal, with Welsh left-back Ben Davies and Dutch goalkeeper Michel Vorm heading to North London in a part-exchange deal which saw playmaker Gylfi Sigurdsson return to the Liberty Stadium for a second spell.

Sigurdsson had spent time on loan at Swansea City from German club Hoffenheim in the 2012 season prior to his permanent move to the Welsh club in 2014.

Gylfi Sigurdsson-Ben Davies-Michel Vorm

The Icelandic international had largely underachieved during his three-year stint at Tottenham and a move to Swansea was supposed to offer him an escape route.

Ben Davies and Michel Vorm were both amongst the first-team regulars at Swansea in the 2013-14 season and while the left-back was brought in as a long-term prospect, the latter arrived at Tottenham to play second-fiddle to Hugo Lloris and simply make up the numbers.

Sigurdsson plundered 30 goals in 112 Premier League appearances for the Swans over the following three seasons before earning a big-money move to Everton in 2017. Ben Davies continues to battle Danny Rose for a spot in Tottenham’s first-team.

Vorm went on to make only 47 appearances over five seasons at Tottenham before departing upon the expiry of his contract in 2019.

3. Kenwyne Jones/ Peter Odemwingie

Well, this is not one of those swap deals involving high-profile names or big clubs but Cardiff City and Stoke City did grab the headlines in January 2014 when they completed a player-exchange deal involving Kenwyne Jones and Peter Odemwingie. 

Kenwyne Jones Peter Odemwingie

Odemwingie had only arrived at Cardiff City in the summer of 2013 after a prolific spell at West Brom and the Nigerian was forced to join Stoke just six months later, having fallen out of favour with then Bluebirds manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Jones, on the other hand, had netted 28 goals in 117 appearances for the Potters over the course of four-and-a-half seasons prior to his move to South Wales. 

The ploy to bring in the Trinidadian didn’t pay any dividends though, as the towering forward only found the net just once in 11 appearances and failed to prevent Cardiff from going back down to the Championship.

Odemwingie’s tally of 5 goals in 15 appearances for the Potters in the latter half of the 2013-14 season earned him a place in Nigeria’s 2014 FIFA World Cup squad but he struggled with injuries thereafter and was eventually released at the end of the 2015-16 campaign.

4. Ashley Cole/William Gallas

The part-exchange deal between Premier League heavyweights Arsenal and Chelsea involving centre-back William Gallas and left-back Ashley Cole in the summer of 2006 sparked a massive debate in the British media over who had got the better deal.

Arsenal's captain William Gallas celebrates after scoring their first goal of the match against Chelsea during their Premiership match at home to Arsenal at the Emirates football stadium, 16 December 2007. AFP PHOTO/CARL DE SOUZA     Mobile and website us

Cole, of course, was an integral part of Arsene Wenger’s ‘Invincibles’ in the 2003-04 season and had won the Premier League twice during his time at North London, whilst Gallas had also won back-to-back Premier League titles with Chelsea prior to his move to North London.

Cole went on to win most of his England caps during his time at Stamford Bridge and bagged 9 major honours, including the UEFA Champions League, Europa League and four Premier League titles. 

Gallas, on the other hand, did score for Arsenal against his old club but the Frenchman didn’t reach the same heights in North London and spent four mediocre seasons before going on to join bitter rivals Tottenham Hotspur in 2010. 

5. Kevin Davies/James Beattie

One of the earliest instances of a swap deal in English football before the turn of the century came when James Beattie arrived at Southampton as a makeweight in a deal that took Kevin Davies to Blackburn Rovers. 

Kevin Davies-James Beattie

Davies struggled to settle down at Ewood Park and found the net only once in 21 appearances, as Blackburn Rovers suffered relegation to the Championship.

Coincidentally, Davies returned to Southampton just a year later in an exchange deal for Norwegian striker Egil Ostenstad before moving on to Bolton Wanderers for a career-defining spell. 

Beattie initially struggled to find the net at Southampton due to injuries but he settled down after a couple of seasons and spent the most fruitful years of his career on the English south coast, with 23 goals in the 2002-03 campaign being the highlight.

Beattie netted 76 goals for the Saints in 235 appearances and earned 5 England caps.

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