News, views and rumours relating to Arsenal in the past 24 hours.
In team news, Lukas Podolski will be out for at least three weeks after suffering a hamstring injury in Arsenal’s 2-0 victory over Fenerbahce on Tuesday evening.
The German forward limped off early in the second half against the Turkish outfit as the Gunners qualified for the Champions League group stage with a comprehensive 5-0 win on aggregate via a sensational brace from Aaron Ramsey at the Emirates.
The Welsh midfielder cited his improved 'composure' in front of goal as the reason for his recent goal-scoring form for the Gunners.
“Podolski's definitely out for 21 days,” revealed manager Arsene Wenger, meaning the 28-year-old will miss the Gunners’ crucial North London derby clash with Tottenham this weekend.
However defender Laurent Koscielny is expected to return to action this weekend. The Frenchman was included on the bench last night after recovering from a head injury.
Arsenal will discover their Champions League group stage opponents on Thursday when UEFA hold the draw in Monaco. Arsenal are seeded in Pot 1, along with the continent’s most elite clubs and they can neither be pitted against those in the same pot nor another English club in the group stages.
A full breakdown of Arsenal's potential opponents in the Champions League group stage can be found here via the club's official website.
In transfer news, Arsene Wenger admitted his ‘interest’ in Juan Mata but conceded that Chelsea were unlikely to sell the Spanish playmaker to a domestic rival.
“I watched the [Chelsea] game last night that Juan Mata could be on the market. I don’t know, there is a reluctance in England to sell to each other,” explained the boss.
“Does that frustrate me? Yes, I like him.”
Meanwhile, Newcastle manager Alan Pardew claims Yohan Cabaye has a ’50-50’ chance of moving to Arsenal this summer after the Gunners opened the bidding for the French midfielder last week with their £12 million offer.
Real Madrid star and Arsenal ‘target’ Mesut Ozil ‘stormed off’ in Real Madrid’s 1-0 victory over Grenada last night, after being substituted by new boss Carlo Ancelotti, intensifying speculation he could be sold by the Spanish giants.
However, Ozil insisted he wants to stay in Madrid, asserting his desire to honour the term of his current contract, which expires in 2016.
“It is an honour and a privilege to be part of this team. I am flattered that great teams are interested in me. But I have a contract at Real Madrid and I will stay. There is no discussion,” he stated.
In other news, Theo Walcott insisted Arsenal have not ‘fallen behind’ Tottenham, despite Spurs’ expenditure on new signings this summer.
"Every club are different and they invested their money very well. For us players we just want to do a job on Sunday, we don't care if they have brought in £30m stars,” explained the Englishman.
"They have some very good players and a very good manager but we need to make sure we focus on ourselves. The way we're playing at the moment we believe we can beat anyone.”
image: © Ronnie Macdonald