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Bukayo Saka wins Star of the Match in stellar performance vs Czech Republic

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bukayo saka wins star of the match in stellar performance vs czech republic

In a rather dull affair between two decent sides, England’s Raheem Sterling converted the only goal of the evening in the twelfth minute off Jack Grealish’s cross.

Two debutants to a major finals tournament were Jack Grealish and Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka who replaced Phil Foden and the isolating Mason Mount respectively. Many England fans criticised the decision from Southgate to pick the Arsenal man over Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho. The 19-year-old started well, alternating between the #10 role and the right wing position. The first chance of the game was created by Saka’s deep run back into the defensive sector of the midfield and winning the ball back from Czech Republic midfielder and West Ham man Tomáš Souček. He then played it into the feet of Raheem Sterling who was sharp enough to attempt a lob shot over Sevilla keeper Tomáš Vaclík but rebounded off the post and into the midst of play.

The first and only goal came early in the twelfth minute with yet again Bukayo regaining possession and supplying it to fellow debutant Jack Grealish on the left. The pass and go movement that England had played so well in the first 25 minutes of every group stage match finally worked out when Grealish whipped in the cross and the ball flew over Bukayo’s head and was tapped in by Sterling. From the 20th minute onwards, the Three Lions turned into the tedious side that sat back and played defensively for the duration of the matches against Croatia and Scotland.

The player of the match was substituted in the 84th minute, for what seemed a newly recovered from injury Jadon Sancho to prepare him for the knockout rounds that England was deemed to qualify for before the match had even started. Bukayo’s performance was enough to earn him “Heineken Star of the Match”.

He said in a press conference, “It was a really good team performance, at times we had to defend, but a clean sheet is a real positive and we topped the group so it was a perfect night.”

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Credit to BeanymanSports for the Press Conference footage

It is not determined yet whether Saka is a part of Southgate’s plans for the knockout stages but after the wonderful performance, it may be difficult to drop him from the side.

All will be known next Tuesday.

Media Publicist | A&R | Blogger.

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Five alternatives Arsenal can sign instead of James Maddison

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Arsenal are in need of a creative midfielder which was clear to see last season as scoring goals became a real problem. Things seemed to get better once Martin Odegaard and Emile Smith Rowe were a part of the team.

But now that the Norwegian has returned to Real Madrid after his loan spell, the Gunners are in need of another creative presence. One name that has been suggested, is from the Premier League with Leicester City’s star James Maddison being touted as a possible target.

The only problem is that the midfielder would cost somewhere in the region of £60m that the Foxes are demanding. And since it could possibly take even more to take him away from the King Power Stadium, it is time to look at some other options.

So, here are five of the players that could do the job that manager Mikel Arteta would want from his creative midfielder.

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Nabil Fekir

The Real Betis midfielder has been linked with the north Londoners in the past and it is an option that the club should seriously consider. He would certainly be cheaper than some of the others in the market and is well suited to taken on that role.

Fekir was a star at former club Lyon where the 28-year-old proved to be a menace for the opposition defenders with his pace, passing and shooting ability. A similar kind of role would work very well for the Gunners who need someone like the Frenchman.

There are suggestions that he could be the one ending up at the Emirates Stadium and if that were to happen, it would be a good fit between player and club. There is a lot to admire about the Betis star from a stylistic point of view.

Houssem Aouar

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Another Frenchman and someone who will be very familiar to Arsenal fans, Aouar almost became a part of the Gunners setup last season. But complications related to the price led to the move being put off.

Now, there is renewed hope that a deal between the English side and Lyon can be completed due to the French team’s financial situation. Their debt has forced their hand and the playmaker is available for a cheap fee.

This would be the perfect time for the north Londoners to take the player to the Emirates. The 23-year-old would be perfect for the system that Arteta likes to employ and would blossom in England.

Nicolo Zaniolo

A player that is not often mentioned, would be a good option to look at given his age and potential. And with the deal between Roma and the Gunners for Granit Xhaka almost agreed, they can use their relationship to talk about the Italian.

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The one concern with regards to the 22-year-old is his injury record as the two ligament tears were an unfortunate impediment in the midfielder’s career. Able to play on the wings as well, Zaniolo would form a fearsome tandem with Smith Rowe as they can both interchange their positions.

This would be a good time to talk about a deal and get the young star from Rome and allow him to play in a way that Odegaard did. Though this signing would be a bit out of the box, it would be some shrewd business from the Gunners.

Matteo Pessina

Another young Italian talent, the Atalanta midfielder shone at the Euros, and it was clear to see why he is so highly rated. Not the fastest, but the 24-year-old is an intelligent player who knows when to make the right pass.

And the fact that he’s with the Bergamo club shows that the Italy international is tactically adept and that would benefit Arteta a lot. Pessina could become the bridge between the midfield and attack and that is what the north Londoners want.

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It will be interesting to see how much the Italian club want but the midfielder could be an excellent addition to the squad. He has all the qualities to succeed Odegaard and help solve the creative woes of the club.

Nikola Vlasic

The Croatian has already spent time in the Premier League when he was there with Everton for one season. Though it did not end well, the midfielder has found his feet ever since moving to Russia with CSKA Moscow.

Vlasic is a versatile player who is excellent at carrying the ball through the opposition defenders and also, has an eye for goal. The 23-year-old likes to bring his teammates into the game and that is exactly what will be required at the Emirates.

After establishing himself as a leader of the team, now would be the right time for a return to the league where he once failed. Under Arteta, it will be exciting to see how the Croat performs as the tools are there for a world class player to emerge.

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Arsenal News View

The Gunners need to make a decision on how much they are going to spend for a creative midfielder. This is what will have an impact on which of the players they end up buying so, a lot of care must be taken in deciding.

Whoever the north Londoners get, must be able to bring the midfield and attack closer as that will be his primary role. If the player in question can add a few goals here and there, that would be an added bonus.

Arsenal have some time left in the transfer window to choose someone for this position. They must get a talent that will make them forget the problems of last season.

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Arsenal agree contract extension with Emile Smith Rowe

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Arsenal just announced on their club website that they have signed Emile Smith Rowe to a new long-term contract.

This puts months of speculation to rest on whether the midfielder will commit to the Gunners or not. There was interest from fellow Premier League club Aston Villa who even made a couple of bids which proved to be unsuccessful.

Smith Rowe has also been given the coveted No. 10 which has previously been worn by the likes of Dennis Bergkamp, Robin van Persie, Jack Wilshere and Mesut Ozil. Speaking about the extension, manager Mikel Arteta had this to tell the club website:

“As we all saw last season, Emile is an intelligent player with excellent ability. His sharpness on the turn and exceptional vision have already made him a key player for us. His attitude and willingness to learn have also been very impressive.

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“Huge credit to our team in our academy who have given Emile a great education and have worked superbly to help with his development through the age groups. Along with the first-team staff, huge credit also goes to our senior players, who have played such an important role to help Emile develop, gain confidence and perform the way he did last season.

“I know the fans will join us in being delighted that Emile has committed his future to the club. We’re now looking forward to helping him develop further and seeing him become even more important to the strong young team we’re building.”

Arsenal News View

It was extremely important for the north Londoners to extend the 20-year-old’s contract as otherwise, it would have reflected badly on them. This was especially necessary given the interest in the player.

And based on the second half of last season, it was clear to see just how important Smith Rowe has become to the team. The fortunes of the Gunners took a turn for the better after they introduced the midfielder.

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In the upcoming season, a lot more will be expected of the youngster who will have to share more of the creative burden. But from what we have seen so far, he is someone who is definitely up to the challenge.

Arsenal have taken care of an important part of their transfer window and can now look forward to bringing in more players. This is to improve the squad and add to the likes of Smith Rowe.

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Tammy Abraham to Arsenal: Do the Gunners need him?

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During this transfer window, a lot of players will get linked with Arsenal as we have seen already. One of the new names to be added to this list is Chelsea’s forward Tammy Abraham, but should the north Londoners look to sign him?

The Englishman had a frustrating season in 2020/21 as he became the third-choice striker at the club. In the formation that boss Thomas Tuchel likes to employ, it was Timo Werner who had the most opportunities followed by Olivier Giroud which didn’t leave much room for the 23-year-old.

Should Abraham make the switch from the west of London to the north, a lot of questions will be asked. This also has to do with two forwards that are already part of Arsenal.

Alexandre Lacazette

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The Frenchman who turned 30 recently, has been a bit of a hit and miss player. The reason for this sort of a reputation is that the striker has not hit 20 goals in a single season since arriving from Lyon in 2017.

But there is a lot that the veteran forward brings to the team, as he is capable of producing some real moments of brilliance. The Gunners need to make a decision on whether Lacazette will stay or leave given that he has just one year left on his contract.

Eddie Nketiah

The youngster looks destined to leave this summer irrespective of the north London club’s interest in Abraham. He wasn’t afforded many chances last season which will force the Englishman to look elsewhere and his sale could be used to fund a move for the Blues striker.

The news of the interest in Abraham would possibly push the player to force a move away from the Emirates Stadium. Getting this sale done will generate some cash which could be used to make a move for their rivals’ young star.

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The England international will be a good fit at the Emirates, which would possibly explain the interest from the north Londoners. Though last season was a little disappointing the youngster has shown more than enough quality.

And as Abraham has shown in the past, he can fit into different systems as evidenced by his outstanding loan spells with both Bristol City and Aston Villa. With talented players behind him creating chances, the 23-year-old will be able to be among the goals once again.

There are areas of the striker’s game that need to be improved such as his aerial prowess and hold-up play. But Abraham has the goal scorer’s touch which is so important when trying to find the back of the net.

Some players are natural finishers, and the Englishman is one such talent and it can be said that there are certain similarities with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. The forward has the right profile to succeed under manager Mikel Arteta.

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Cost

This is quite possibly the biggest concern with this transfer as the price being quoted is around £40m. It would initially be a loan deal that includes an obligation to buy for this fee at the end of the upcoming season.

Though one can understand why Chelsea would charge so much, it does feel a little high given some of the other options that are available in the market. This sort of investment indicates that the England striker would become the club’s first choice in the future.

Although to be fair, some of this can be recouped from the sales that the Gunners should be making like Nketiah. That would offset some of the amount that will be allocated for this potential move.

Arsenal News View

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Despite the slightly high price, this would be a signing worth exploring especially with two forwards having just one year left on their contracts. And with the captain and star forward already 32, someone for the future is needed.

Arsenal are looking at buying players that have proven themselves or at least have experience of the Premier League and that is a good thing. With Abraham, they will be getting a player who comes in with a point to prove and has the potential to become a world class striker.

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Arsenal cancel pre-season trip to US

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Arsenal have announced that their pre-season tour of the USA has been cancelled after a small number of COVID positive cases popped up.

The Gunners were to set to continue their preparation for the upcoming season with a couple of matches in the United States. This was following a trip to Scotland where they faced off against Hibernian and Rangers.

In a statement posted on the club website, the north Londoners expressed their disappointment at this trip being cancelled. The club said:

“We fully understand what a disappointment this is for our supporters in America who were looking forward to seeing us compete in the Florida Cup as part of our pre-season build up. Our apologies also go to the organisers of the Florida Cup who had done a fantastic job making the preparations and our partners who had arranged events around our participation in the competition.”

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And as for matches that could happen instead of the USA trip, Arsenal added in their statement:

“We are now making alternative arrangements in line with the Premier League protocols to continue our preparations for the new season. We hope everyone understands this difficult situation which is beyond anyone’s control.”

Arsenal News View

This is definitely disappointing from the club’s point of view as it disrupts the plans they had set in motion. These games are necessary for the team to get back into a state of being fit and sharp for the upcoming season.

But the fact that the Gunners have mentioned that alternate arrangements will be made is good news and we could have other games take up these slots. One of the things that fans were looking forward to during this trip was a glimpse of new signing of Albert Sambi Lokonga but they will have to wait a little longer for that.

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There is still some way to go before the start of the Premier League so Arsenal should have enough time to be ready for the opening game against Brentford. Manager Mikel Arteta will want to make sure that this disruption does not prove to too much of a distraction for the squad.

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