Wenger targeting 'right' players

BY foxsports • January 8, 2013

Hearts have confirmed that they will lodge an appeal against the suspension handed to Ryan Stevenson.

The striker was offered a two-match ban by the Scottish Football Association's compliance officer following his challenge on Hibernian's James McPake during the goalless Edinburgh derby.

Referee Willie Collum took no action against Stevenson for the tackle, but the SFA compliance team decided to step in after studying video of the incident.

Hibs captain McPake claimed after the game that Stevenson should have been sent off for the two-footed tackle that left him with a gash on his leg.

He said: "At the time I knew Ryan's challenge was a bad one. When your shin-guard moves to the side of your leg you know it's not been a great tackle.

"I have watched it again and it's still a bad challenge. He deserved to be sent off for it."

Stevenson had described his tackle as hard but "fair", but Hibs boss Pat Fenlon described it as "shocking".

The appeal hearing will take place on Thursday.

Gera injured his left knee during Saturday's FA Cup tie at QPR and scans have shown the Hungary international has ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament.

The 33-year-old sustained a similar injury in November 2011 which kept him out for the remainder of last season.

Gera is scheduled to undergo surgery to repair his knee next week, with the

usual rehab time for this injury being six to nine months.

Baggies head coach Steve Clarke has backed former Fulham player Gera to recover from this latest blow.

He said: "I'm devastated for Zoltan. He's a terrific guy and professional and

I want to thank him for his contribution this season. It has been invaluable.

"He'll now get our full support during the rehab process.

"Zoltan has already proven he can come back from this injury once and produce at the highest level, and I have no doubts he will do so again.''

Gera has played a major part in Albion's fine form during the opening half of

the season, which has seen them sustain a spot in the top half of the Premier League table.

He has netted four goals and also returned to international action with Hungary.

Clarke must now decide whether to look to strengthen his decimated midfield

department during the January window.

Youssouf Mulumbu is on African Nations Cup duty, Claudio Yacob is sidelined

with a hamstring injury and Graham Dorrans wants to leave the Baggies.

The Gunners are widely expected to strengthen this month, having already started to free-up space in the squad by off-loading Moroccan striker Marouane Chamakh on a six-month loan deal to West Ham and Swiss defender Johan Djourou to Hannover.

While Wenger has been linked with a string of reinforcements from Barcelona forward David Villa, Atletico Madrid frontman Adrian Lopez, Anderlecht's Argentina midfielder Lucas Biglia, Yann M'Vila from Rennes and even former captain Thierry Henry on loan again, the Arsenal manager maintains he will only be tempted should a player of the required quality become available.

"We are on the market and if we find the right players, we will do something", Wenger told Arsenal Player.

Wenger is said to be keen on Villa, who was a substitute for Barcelona's 4-0 win over Espanyol at the weekend as he continues his reintegration after a spell out with a broken leg.

However, club president Sandro Rosell insists the 31-year-old, signed in a ?31million deal from Valencia in 2010, is going nowhere.

Speaking to Catalan radio station RAC1, Rosell said: "I completely rule out the transfer of Villa during the winter market.

"He is ours and we need him, there is a lot of the season left."

Elsewhere, Sao Paulo are confident they can make Denilson's loan move into a permanent transfer, although the departure of Andrey Arshavin appears unlikely as the Russian playmaker will be drafted into first-team contention again as cover for Gervinho, who is away at the African Nations Cup with Ivory Coast.

Wenger is also determined to sign up forward Theo Walcott to a new contract sooner rather than later, with suggestions a deal, reportedly worth close to ?100,000-a-week, could even be announced ahead of Sunday's clash with Manchester City.

On the pitch, Arsenal now head into a crucial run of fixtures which may well define their season.

Following a dramatic 2-2 draw at Swansea in the FA Cup, the Gunners face a replay next week just a few days after the Premier League champions Manchester City come to Emirates Stadium.

Arsenal then travel to Chelsea on January 20, before tackling West Ham in their rearranged Boxing Day fixture which is followed by a possible FA Cup fourth-round tie at Brighton ahead of the visit of Liverpool, with a Champions League last-16 tie against Bayern Munich also on the horizon.

Wenger said: "We have shown character and quality (against Swansea) and those are good ingredients for the coming weeks."

Defender Per Mertesacker, meanwhile, feels the Gunners can meet their busy schedule head on.

He said: "We are in a good way but we have to keep our focus on these games [against Manchester City and Chelsea] and the knockout stages of the Champions League. We have to win those games now," the German centre-back said.

"We are always looking to win something and we can achieve something with this group. We have a lively group so our thoughts are now on the next match, that is the most important thing for us, not what's going to happen in May.

"We have a few targets in our team that are possible this year. We won't talk about it, we'll just see what happens in the next few important weeks on the pitch."


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