Panic for Arsenal just days before new season as star could leave

Some worrying news for Arsenal fans has emerged just days before they kick off their Premier League season at home against Liverpool as German newspaper Bild report Mesut Ozil would be immediately ready to return to Real Madrid.

Arsenal’s struggles are already being widely spoken about as they prepare to start the season with a squad with some major problems. Arsene Wenger looks like he is going to have to drop Laurent Koscielny in at the back without undergoing preseason as Per Mertesacker and Gabriel are both injured.

Wenger has already claimed players who featured in Euro 2016 could struggle in the early weeks of the season and rumours of an Ozil exit will only have intensified panic.

The Arsenal manager’s transfer policy has come under scrutiny once again as he has yet to bring in a big-money high-profile striker, one position fans are desperate to see filled.

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Although there is plenty to be positive about for Arsenal, this is certainly a concerning time for fans and the potential departure of Ozil would be devastating.

Why would Ozil returning to Real Madrid be a huge blow for Arsenal?

Assists:

No Arsenal fan needs telling how influential Ozil is. The German playmaker registered 19 assists in the Premier League last season, the highest total made by any player in the 2015/16 campaign.

Chances created:

Ozil created a whopping 144 chances for teammates in the league last season. Another reason why Arsenal fans are so desperate for Wenger to sign a word-class striker. Ozil would arguably become an even more important player for the club with someone in front of him to constantly put the ball in the net. His reputation for supplying Cristiano Ronaldo at Real Madrid was one reason why Arsenal fans were so excited to see the German join back in 2013.

Passing: 

The German made 1936 successful passes last season with 1242 of those being forward passes. If those statistics aren’t impressive enough on their own, he averaged a pass completion of 87%.

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Arsenal quite simply wouldn’t be able to replace Ozil if he left this late on in the transfer window, this close to the start of their season. His influence on the side is huge and along with his passing and assist statistics he also scored six league goals in 2015/16.

As far as things stand there has been no contact reported from Real Madrid for the Arsenal man, and fans will be hoping that nothing changes in the time remaining in the summer transfer window.

How important is Ozil to Arsenal? Will he return to Madrid this summer?

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International Friendly Preview and Prediction: Germany vs England

Competition: International Friendly – Germany vs England

Venue: Olympiastadion, Germany – Saturday, March 26 – 19:45 GMT (15:45 ET)

Match Odds: Germany 8/13 – Draw 29/10 – England 17/4

Match Preview

Three-time European Championship winners and current World champions Germany welcome England to the Olympiastadion on Saturday evening in a friendly tie that should be full of action.

The footballing machine that is Germany are arguably the best national team in the world at the moment and have a squad brimming with confidence.

They do however come into this friendly off the back of a 2-0 loss to France last time out in a game that will live long in the memory of players and fans alike for heartbreaking and disastrous reasons off the field.

This should be a good test for Germany ahead of the Euro’s and a tie for all to enjoy. They face Italy next so it’s going to be a tough international break for Joachim Löw’s side. Germany have won three of the last four meetings between these sides and will expect home advantage to help them through.

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England have a lot to be optimistic about heading into this tie in what is a new era for Roy Hodgson’s side. There are a lot of young and upcoming top talents in the squad and two exciting goal-machines upfront in the form of Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy – the Premier League’s top two goalscorers.

Hodgson will be able to test out some different variations in this tie and it will again provide a test for the squad he has chosen. This will be also be a tough international break for England, as they face the Netherlands three days after this outing, so rotation is expected throughout.

England also played France in their last outing but they had a more favourable result, winning 2-0 at Wembley.

Hodgson’s side are held in high regard by Löw, who expects them to challenge to win Euro 2016 in France this summer, so this is a great chance to prove to any doubters England are more than capable of causing problems for the very best.

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Team News

The German squad is as strong as ever, with some of the highest regarded players once again earning a call up. The fierce attacking options at Löw’s disposal are frightening, with the likes of Thomas Muller, Marco Reus, Mesut Ozil and Karim Bellarabi expecting to start in a 4-2-3-1 formation. Toni Kroos and Sami Khedira are expecting to fill the holding role, with Mats Hummels and Shkodran Mustafi in line to feature as the centre-back paring. Familiar faces included in the squad such as Andre Schurrle, Mario Gotze, Mario Gomez and Emre Can will all be pushing to feature. Bastain Schweinsteiger has been ruled out through injury.

England are without regular goalkeeper Joe Hart, so Jack Butland is expected to start. The Tottenham Hotspur contingency in the squad, Kyle Walker, Danny Rose, Dele Alli, Eric Dier and Harry Kane will hope their fine Premier League performances this season will be enough to gain some minutes in this tie. Hodgson has a solid squad heading into the clash with the likes of Jamie Vardy, James Milner, Chris Smalling and Jordan Henderson all having consistent domestic seasons. Danny Drinkwater will be itching to make his senior England debut and what a game it could be for him to feature in. Wayne Rooney and Raheem Sterling are both out through injury.

Key Points

Germany’s last five: W/W/L/W/L

England’s last five: W/W/W/L/W

Key Stat: England have only lost once in their last 17 games.

Key Player: Manuel Neuer – The German ‘keeper, widely regarded as the best in the world and equally as good with the ball at his feet, will prove as always so difficult to get the better of.

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Score Prediction

Germany 2-1 England – The German national side will prove to have just a little too much for England to deal with on Saturday. This game should provide both sides with a taster of what is to come from the Euro’s this summer and give both head coaches ideas of areas they will need to improve upon with just over two months to go.

International Preview and Prediction: Germany vs USA

Competition: International Friendly – Germany vs. United States

Venue: RheinEnergieSTADION, Cologne – Wednesday, June 10 – 19:45 BST (14:45 ET)

Match Odds: Germany 4/11 – Draw 15/4 – USA 13/2

Match Preview

The US Men’s National Team face World Cup winners Germany on Wednesday night for the first time since they met in Brazil last summer.

Germany beat the USA 1-0 in the group stages on their way to World Cup victory a year ago but both sides come into this game looking ahead, rather than behind.

Die Mannschaft boss Joachim Low has had to change up his team after Philipp Lahm, Per Mertesacker and Miroslav Klose all retired after last summer’s success. Germany have only won four of their eight games since the World Cup and are behind Poland in their European Qualifying group.

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Wednesday’s friendly against the USMNT will give the Germans a good warm up before their qualifier against Gibraltar on Saturday.

But they could be in for a real test as Jurgen Klinsmann takes his USA side to his homeland for the first time in fine spirits after their 4-3 win over the Netherlands on Friday.

The USMNT rallied from 3-1 down to win the game in Amsterdam late on thanks to goals from Gyasi Zardes, John Brooks, Danny Williams and Bobby Wood.

The game in Cologne on Wednesday will be just as big a test, if not bigger, but that result has put USA fans in a great mood.

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In the 11 friendlies the USA have played since the World Cup they have only won four, but with back-to-back victories over Mexico and the Dutch coming into this, they shouldn’t be underestimated by the World champions.

It’s less than a month until the Gold Cup kicks off – a tournament the USA are co-hosting with Canada this summer, and with this being the penultimate friendly before that game, players will be desperate to prove why they need to be heading to the tournament with Klinsmann.

These two nations first met in 1993 and have faced off 10 times since. There has never been a draw, with Germany winning seven of the games between the two. The last USA win came two years ago in Washington as Klinsmann led the USMNT to a 4-3 victory.

Team News

Germany coach Joachim Low has left three World Cup winners out of his squad as Manuel Neuer, Toni Kroos and Thomas Muller have been given the chance to rest. That doesn’t mean this will be easy for the USA though as stars such as Jerome Boateng, Mats Hummels, Mario Gotze, Sami Khedira, Mesut Ozil and Bastian Schweinsteiger are all included. Patrick Herrmann is expected to finally make his debut in midfield.

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Jurgen Klinsmann will not be able to call upon goalkeeper Nick Rimando as Cody Cropper has been called up as a replacement. Brad Guzan should keep his place in goal though, with the team likely to start in a 4-3-3 system once again. Brad Evans, Juan Agudelo and Miguel Ibarra are the only three players in the squad who didn’t see any minutes against the Netherlands so they will expect to feature.

Key Points

Germany’s last five: D/WW/D/W

USA’s last five: W/L/D/W/W

Key Stat: There have been 20 goals in the last five games between these two sides – an average of four per game.

Key Player: Michael Bradley – Since being appointed as captain, Bradley has been in fine form. His drive and leadership will be needed if the USMNT are to win this one.

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Score Prediction

Germany 2-2 USA – Expecting goals in this one between two sides that like to attack. Germany’s squad is not at its best and with the USA in fine spirits, it’s tough to separate the sides on paper. An entertaining draw looks to be on the cards.

Stats: How important is Mesut Ozil to Arsenal?

Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil is coming towards the end of his second season with the club now, yet many are still unconvinced with his performances and believe that perhaps he hasn’t lived up to his £42.5m price tag.

The German international helped the Gunners to their first trophy for nine years last season as they went on to lift the FA Cup and they’re currently third in the Premier League this time around, as well as having booked their place in the semi-final of the FA Cup once again.

Ozil has been hampered by injury throughout this campaign, which has meant the Gunners have played a large amount of fixtures without the services of a man who played in every game at Germany’s 2014 World Cup triumph.

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Arsenal have played 14 Premier League games with Ozil in the side (W8, D4, L2) at a ratio of two points-gained-per-game, compared to 16 league games without him (W10, D2, L4) and they amount to exactly the same amount of points-gained-per-game – two.

So in that regard, Arsene Wenger‘s side are neither better off nor worse off when Ozil plays, but how does he compare statistically to the other attack-minded midfield players in the Arsenal team? Here is an average-per-game breakdown of numbers:

Arsenal midfielders in the 2014/15 Premier League (stats via Squawka)

Arsenal midfielders performance per-game in the 2014/15 Premier League (stats via Squawka)

The numbers show that Ozil has the most number of assists, chances created and key passes per-game out of any player, while only Santi Cazorla has a better pass completion rate with 88% compared to Ozil’s 87% – a miniscule difference.

Alexis Sanchez plays in a slightly more advanced role and has been prolific this season so he tops the goals-per-game charts. Only Santi Cazorla has scored more goals-per-game than Ozil.

At the beginning of March, it was also revealed that Mesut Ozil had covered more ground than any other Arsenal player since returning to the side in January, according to the telegraph.

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The criticism aimed at the 26-year-old often comes from his relaxed style of play, combined with the way he moves across the pitch and he certainly creates a divide in opinion.

It’s likely that some may never agree on what to make of Ozil and his hefty transfer fee is probably one of the main reasons that some aren’t entirely happy.

Arsenal, Man United & Chelsea face tough battle for Real Madrid star

Germany World Cup winner and Real Madrid midfielder Sami Khedira has finally confirmed he will leave Los Blancos at the end of the season after five years in the Spanish capital.

The defensive midfielder has been restricted to just 11 appearances this season due to injuries that have troubled him since November 2013. He returned towards the end of last season to play a part in Madrid’s tenth European title (La Decima) and his country’s World Cup triumph in Brazil.

It’s no secret Real have tried to tie him down to a new contract but Khedira has rejected the contract offers and in December he said, “if we can reach a solution, I’ll be very happy.” But now it seems Khedira is all but gone from Madrid.

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“I will give everything for this shirt until the last day of my contract, there should be no doubt about that. 

“It’s not a decision against Real Madrid. I want to find new challenges for my career and continue to grow as a player,” Khedira told Spanish newspaper Marca.

The German has lost his place in the Real Madrid starting lineup with Carlo Ancelotti preferring Luka Modric and Toni Kroos in the heart of the midfield.

The news is sure to alert a whole host of Premier League clubs, including Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United. The Gunners have been known to be huge admirers of the in-demand midfielder and his best friend Mesut Ozil plays at the Emirates.

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho brought Khedira to Real Madrid in 2010 and would love to be reunited with him.

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The former Stuttgart man has also been linked with a move back to his homeland with interest from Bundesliga clubs Bayern Munich, Schalke and Wolfsburg. But Khedira says he is yet to reach a deal with anyone over his future.

“I don’t have an agreement with any club nor any preferences as to who I would like to join,” Khedira told Kicker.

If Khedira is to leave this summer, it would surely be one of the biggest bosman transfers in recent years.

Arsenal star aspires to be regarded as the world’s best

Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil is hungry for success and wants to better his career achievements already acquired by one day winning the Ballon d’Or.

The 26-year-old playmaker has come in for criticism for some below-par performances by his usual high-standards, but admits his desire for success hasn’t changed.

“When I was a kid I dreamed of winning the Ballon d’Or. I still have that dream,” Ozil said in an interview with German newspaper, Express.

His critics claim he isn’t providing enough for the side and claim his lack of goals will stop him ever being compared to the world’s greatest stars such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, but Ozil disagrees.

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“I have nothing to prove to them. I do not have a big ego. It is more important for me to create goals for others than to score them for myself.

“I don’t need to score goals to be happy. Assists are what make me happy.”

The German international has featured in 14 Premier League games so far this season, scoring just three times, but he has created 35 chances with five assists so far.

He claims to be training as hard as he ever has done and added: “My body is more stable, I feel fresher. And you need that strength in England.”

Ozil missed out on the UEFA Team of the Year for the first time in three years in 2014 but few can question his underlying talent. It is now a case of showing that talent on a regular basis.

Ozil will have to perform at his highest ability to fend off those who have criticised his move to Arsenal and he must now replicate the form and passion he showed when at Real Madrid.

US Soccer receives another boost as Gedion Zelalem commits to USMNT

Young Arsenal star Gedion Zelalem is set to further brighten the future of US soccer by playing for the US Men’s National Team after gaining US citizenship today.

The 17-year-old was born in Germany and has already played for them at youth levels but now looks set to dedicate his international future to the USMNT.

Head coach Jurgen Klinsmann must have had a major influence in his decision and he will be the latest German-born American to play for the USA if FIFA allow him to do so.

Zelalem is one of Arsenal’s brightest prospects and has already played for the Gunners in the Champions League and FA Cup.

He moved to Arsenal in 2013 after spending seven years in America and Arsene Wenger believes he is the sort of player that the USMNT missed during the World Cup in the summer.

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“He is a player with a good eye and good technique and is very agile,” Wenger told Sports Illustrated in July.

“He has the ambition to find the ball on the field. So he’s the kind of player who could be of use to the United States. He’s in some ways the type of player the US was missing in the World Cup.”

With his US citizenship in place it is expected that Zelalem will be eligible to play for the USA in the imminent future but until FIFA approve it, he could still pledge his future to Germany or Ethiopia.

How important is it that Gedion Zelalem could be playing for the USMNT in the future?

Arsenal forward Lukas Podolski set for Serie A switch in search for football

Despite Arsene Wenger’s admission that unsettled Germany international Lukas Podolski is not for sale, he continues to attract interest from abroad, and a loan move to Italy’s Serie A with Inter Milan is reportedly on the cards.

Having slipped down the pecking order at Arsenal behind the likes of Alexis Sanchez, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Mesut Ozil, Danny Welbeck and Santi Cazorla, Podolski is being forced to look elsewhere if he is to see regular action.

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As well as being linked to Italian clubs AS Roma and Inter Milan, the World Cup winner was also linked with a move back to his first club FC Koln in Germany, where he has excelled in the past.

He needs to play to ensure that he continued to be a part of the German National Team. And Joachim Low has reminded Podolski that he needs to play if he is to figure in his plans for Euro 2016 qualification.

Inter Milan are supposedly keen to add the Polish-born German winger to their attacking ranks on a loan deal with some Italian reports suggesting a deal is close to completion.

Roma are another club interested, with the Rome-based club looking for cover for former Arsenal winger Gervinho – who will be playing for Ivory Coast at the Africa Cup Of Nations for the first part of 2015.

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With 121 international caps so far and the hope for many more, Podolski may decide to move club to ensure he see’s regular first-team action in Joachim Low’s set-up for the Euro 2016 qualifiers with Germany.

Arsene Wenger may want to keep Podolski but he hasn’t started a Premier League game through the first half of the current campaign and with more players returning from injury at Arsenal, the German needs to look elsewhere if he is to play regularly.

Would Lukas Podolski be a loss for Arsenal if he leaves in January?

Andre Schurrle must be used more often at Chelsea

World Cup winner Andre Schurrle has had a bit of a rough time so far this season, struggling for game time in the first team at Chelsea.

After a great campaign for both club and country last term we would have been expecting Schurrle to really push on and shine like we know he can.

Jose Mourinho has opted to play Willian and Eden Hazard as his first-choice wingers, with Schurrle making the majority of his appearances from the substitutes bench.

The German playmaker isn’t struggling for confidence, as he is always willing to give maximum effort when he enters the frame and he’s prepared to have a strike at goal from almost anywhere in the oppositions half.

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We all know he is a brilliant impact player, as he proved best when brought on in the World Cup final against Argentina in July, but he isn’t getting the minutes on the field at Chelsea.

He has netted just three so far this season from 11 games, but did get the all-important goal in the draw with Manchester City at the Etihad earlier in the campaign.

He is a brilliant option to have to come into a game but needs more time on the field. If Mourinho was to give him half an hour at least each game, Chelsea would reap the rewards of his work ethic.

His blistering pace would open up tiring opposing defenders and work in Chelsea’s favor if they are countering sides that are often pushing to get back in the game.

As for European games he is a good option to start. He has a wealth of Champions League experience already and is used to playing at the highest level without concerns.

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Schurrle has been featuring in League Cup games and will probably start in tonight’s away tie against Championship outfit Derby County, in what will be a tougher game than many will expect.

Schurrle must impress Mourinho – who is backing the winger, but the Chelsea manager claims Schurrle must continue to adapt to the Premier League despite being signed 18 months ago.

His boss is happy with Schurrle’s strike rate and Chelsea have shrugged off any suggestions they plan to offload the German in January.

So if he is an important part of the squad, he surely needs to see more action on the pitch and with the hectic Christmas fixtures set to affect all clubs in the Premier League, having a weapon like Schurrle ready to step in will surely keep Chelsea at the top of the table.

Should Andre Schurrle play more often for Chelsea?

How much do you really know about Jurgen Klinsmann?

Born in 1964 in Göppingen, Germany, Jurgen Klinsmann’s parents were bakers and Jurgen served his apprenticeship as a baker achieving a diploma.

His father said he could pursue a career as a footballer if he got a degree, and we are all thankful he studied hard! His family still run the bakery business in the suburbs of Stuttgart, Germany.

Jurgen is married to a former American model, Debbie Chin, they have two children and live in Huntington Beach, California.

Jurgen is fluent in four languages.

His son, Jonathan, is following in his fathers’ footsteps, but at the other end of the pitch. He is a goalkeeper and has been called up to the USMNT under-18’s camp.

He may look serious on camera but Jurgen has a good sense of humour. In 1994, when he was signed by Tottenham Hotspur, he was known as a diver by the British press following his appearances for Germany.

And when he arrived at the press conference he asked the journalists if they knew of any diving schools in London.

When he then scored his first goal for Spurs, he celebrated by diving headlong onto the pitch, and he became an instant hero among Tottenham fans. The fact that he scored 21 goals that season helped quite a bit too!

He has a helicopter pilot’s licence, and enjoys relaxing by flying around California.

The 49-year-old managed the German National side for two years and lead them to a third-place finish in the 2006 World Cup.

Now managing the USMNT, he made this statement about Brazil 2014:

In Germany it is a bit simpler because there is only one expectation … we say we want to win this thing, for us in the U.S., it is a growing process. We can surprise people in Brazil, but obviously our expectation is to get out of the group no matter who we draw. After that, we need to make the players understand it is all about mind games. Every game becomes 50-50 and will be won by the team who is better prepared and believes in themselves more.”

The US are not expecting Jurgen to take them to third place, but are hoping they put up a good fight in the group stages and then who knows? It’s a funny old game!

Jurgen runs a children’s charity foundation, Agapedia, together with some close friends. Agapedia translates from Greek into “Love for children”.

He is the 35th USMNT coach and he is currently contracted as coach until 2018.

Jurgen represented his country 108 times from 1987 to 1998 and scored 47 goals for Germany.

In 2003, he was enjoying retirement but missing the game, and at the age of 39-years-old he made a comeback, by playing in the American Development League for Orange County Blue Star.

He used the pseudonym Jay Göppingen, (His home town name in Germany), to disguise himself. He made 8 appearances and scored five goals.

He never lost his eye for goal. In 1988 he was top scorer in the Bundesliga and was voted German Player of the year.  He was also voted English player of the year in 1995, following his second stint at Tottenham Hotspur.

Jurgen donated the entire proceeds of his final testimonial game in Stuttgart to children’s charities. This amounted to around $1million.

Jurgen may or may not have a good World Cup run with the USA, but one thing is certain…he will give it his best shot!