Edu desperate to restore winning mentality to Arsenal

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Arsenal‘s new technical director Edu wants everyone at the club to return to the winning mentality which made Arsene Wenger’s side invincible.

The Gunners are preparing for a second campaign under new head coach Unai Emery, who guided them to the Europa League final but could not deliver Champions League football.

Former Arsenal midfielder Edu has been appointed to the newly-created role, which the club said will see the Brazilian “coordinate the work of our first-team coaching group, the academy and player scouting and recruitment in order to oversee the constant building up and efficient strengthening of our squad”.

The 41-year-old was part of Arsenal’s unbeaten ‘Invincibles’ squad of 2004 which won the Premier League under Wenger, and later went on to play for Emery at Valencia.

Edu left a similar role with the Brazil national side following their Copa America success and has now linked up with the Gunners again on the club’s pre-season tour in the United States.

While he accepts it will not be an overnight change in mentality, it is a process Edu believes is vital if Arsenal are to compete for top honours once again, both at home and in Europe.

“To work with a strong mentality, you don’t do it like that (instantly). You build a good mentality,” Edu said in an interview with Arsenal Media.

“When you talk about mentality, it’s not only the players. The club has to have the same mentality of the players.

“We have to have the same mentality, and the mentality of Arsenal, we always had to have winning in front of us. That’s football. That’s the real world.

“When you’re talking about good jobs, doing other things, without results I’m not sure (it works). It’s unfair maybe, but the reality is like that.

“We have to fight very hard for results and we have to understand the real world, where you live and where you are right now. So we are at Arsenal, we are a big club and we have to understand the situation.

“Winning… fight for winning, and how do you do that? We have to prepare ourselves. How? By working hard, by giving everything, giving us (a chance) to be better and better, and working really hard to be where the club wants to be.”

Edu recalled how Wenger’s squad would thrive off the continued quest for more success, which spread throughout the north London club.

“I remember we were winning a lot of things, our team was really strong and there were big names around, but the mentality of the group, the guys around, the staff, was so great,” he said.

“We were working hard but at the same time, we were enjoying it. That was important because at the time winning was important, but you have to enjoy it as well and we did that with our group.”

Earlier this week, a group of Arsenal supporters’ organisations, fanzines and blogs published a statement hitting out at Stan Kroenke’s “passive ownership” of the club.

Edu said the Arsenal board “have to understand the fans” but believes that works both ways.

“They have to understand us as well. Because we have a philosophy. The club is changing a lot, so I saw that before I signed up for technical director, I saw the many changes now Arsene has left,” the Brazilian added.

“The structure of the club changes a lot. So that’s a process, and sometimes we need time. I understand that time is going against us but we have to be aware of that. But in the end, we’re going to give to [the fans] some good things I am sure.”

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Pep Guardiola open to signing new defender but coy on Harry Maguire links

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Pep Guardiola has confirmed Manchester City are in the market for a new centre-back.

The Premier League champions are hoping to find a replacement for Vincent Kompany, who left the club after last season’s treble success.

But although City have been linked heavily with a big-money move for Leicester’s Harry Maguire, Guardiola insists it is not vital a signing is made.

“We will see,” the Spaniard said. “We are looking for some names but at the same time we have three centre-backs who can play there and we have two young players in the second team who can help us.

“We shall see if the market is possible and the club believes we can spend that money, but if they don’t, we shan’t spend it.”

Guardiola, who was speaking during City’s pre-season trip to China, was not willing to discuss whether Maguire was a target.

He said: “He is a Leicester player. I know some people like Bayern Munich like to talk a lot about Leroy (Sane), but usually I never speak about players at other clubs. What is going to happen, is going to happen.”

One position City definitely need to find a replacement for Kompany for is that of captain.

Guardiola has said he will let the players choose who takes the armband because it is too important a decision for him.

He said: “All these things about leadership, picking this one or that one. It will happen naturally.

“I’m not going to say, ‘Now it is your turn, then it is your turn’. It’s going to come naturally. You will see who has the attitude to be captain, they will do it together. It’s never a decision I will make.

“The captain has to handle the locker room, not me. If there are problems with me, the captain represents their decisions. They have to pick their captain.

“The captain is the players’ spokesperson to me and to the club. It’s not my decision, that’s far more important than me. I will not give them a shortlist.”

Guardiola admits the departure of Kompany, who has taken up a post as player manager at Anderlecht, will leave a void.

He said: “Vincent was an incredibly important player on and off the pitch. When he was fit, he was always ready on the pitch.

“He was a very important player, he made decisions for the team. He is still an incredible player. I’m looking forward to seeing him on the touchline and seeing how Anderlecht play with him.”

Winger Sane continues to be linked with a return to Germany with Bayern and Guardiola, asked about the situation a number of times in China this week, maintains he wants to keep the player.

He said: “Hopefully he can stay this season and another one and another one. That’s why we offered him a new contract more than one year ago. He has special qualities.

“But it is his decision. We are giving everything but, in the end, if he doesn’t want, what can you do? Nothing.”

Provided by PA Media

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Fantasy Premier League tips: Harry Kane and Man City duo among top bounce back candidates

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Once you get burned by a player in Fantasy Premier League, it’s difficult to put faith in him again.

There are a number of FPL assets who failed to live up to their billing last season, much to the chagrin of their invested owners.

However, a few of them look primed to bounce back from recent disappointments and deliver this time around.

Having compiled a evidence to suggest the same, here’s a look at the players who may well produce the goods again this season.

JOHN STONES

Last season was meant to be John Stones’ time to establish himself and become a mainstay in Manchester City’s back-line. Instead, Aymeric Laporte – a foreign recruit still fairly new to the Premier League – was the one who did just that.

Stones found himself battling with the likes of 30-plus defenders Nicolas Otamendi and Vincent Kompany for minutes alongside the remarkably consistent Laporte.

With Kompany’s departure though comes a fresh opportunity for Stones to nail down that starting berth and regularly pick up cleansheet points that should be available to anyone featuring in City’s back-line.

Despite his lapses in concentration, Pep Guardiola still holds Stones in high regard. He registered the best pass accuracy in the league last season (94.2 per cent).

If he can prove a worthy partner for Laporte, he could be real value. At just 5.5m, he’s a full million cheaper than his team-mate this season and could potentially deliver the same returns.

John Stones

John Stones

WILLIAN

After a productive 2017/18 campaign, Willian’s price was bumped up from 7m to 7.5m but the Brazilian wound up scoring 22 points fewer.

Playing time was almost split down the middle between him and Pedro and frustratingly, Willian seemed far more threatening than the Spaniard but couldn’t convert that into goal involvements to secure his starting berth.

Instead, Pedro ended the season with four more points having cost 0.5m less. However, it’s worth noting that Willian was very unlucky. He hit the woodwork five times – no midfielder struck the frame of the goal more often.

He also registered 2.5 key passes per game which was the third-best in the league. Meanwhile, his ICT Index (Influence, Creativity and Threat) was 246.7, far ahead of Pedro’s 176.5 and even better than Leroy Sane’s 240.3 who ended with 156 points to his name.

Willian is back to a valuation of 7m this season and with Eden Hazard gone, he may well have a better shot at more game time despite the presence of former Borussia Dortmund man Christian Pulisic.

Willian

PASCAL GROSS

Following a phenomenal first season with Brighton in which he racked up 164 points as 5.5m midfielder, Pascal Gross was a huge disappointment last term as he failed to reach even half of that tally.

To make matters worse, his price rise to 7m meant even those who initially opted for the German playmaker quickly ditched him and rightly so. Ankle and hamstring injuries saw him miss a total of 18 games and even when he did play, he was rusty.

He’s been downgraded to 6.5m this season but what’s worth remembering is that the last campaign was an anomaly. The midfielder’s previous longest absence through injury was back in 2015 – five days out with a calf strain.

Furthermore, even in a disrupted season last time out, Gross’ chance creation was still strong. He mustered 2.2 key passes per game, fifth best in the league and even better than Christian Eriksen (2.1).

Pascal Gross

GABRIEL JESUS

Easily the most high-profile drop in output was that of Gabriel Jesus last season. After a healthy tally of 126 points in 2017/18, the Brazilian retained his 10.5m valuation but fell well short of justifying it.

The 22-year-old was regularly out-performed by Sergio Aguero, nine years his senior, and was eventually relegated to a supporting role.

Of course, Aguero is rarely tasked with completing a full game so Jesus got plenty of opportunities but squandered them.

However, it may well be that the Brazilian was just going through a phase. His talent is undisputed and his disappointing season featured an extraordinary 18 efforts that struck the woodwork despite only playing a little over a thousand minutes.

Surely, more of those hit the back of the net this season?

The good news is that Jesus went some way to rediscovering his form during an impressive and ultimately triumphant Copa America campaign with Brazil.

It also helps that he’s a million cheaper this season, priced at 9.5m to Aguero’s 12m.

Gabriel Jesus

Gabriel Jesus

HARRY KANE

Another striker destined for a much-improved season is Harry Kane. The previous campaign was the first in which he failed to hit the 200-point mark since 2014/15 which was his breakthrough season when he managed 191 points as a 5m striker.

Priced at 12.5m for the last two seasons, Kane only scored 160 points in 2018/19 but there’s certainly cause for optimism heading into the new campaign.

Even though the England skipper was far from his sharpest last term, he averaged 3.6 shots per game, more than any other player with his 2.3 shots from inside the box per game being bettered only by Aguero. Meanwhile his 1.6 shots on target per game was only topped by Mohamed Salah.

The stats suggest it’s only a matter of time before Kane gets back to his best and despite the excursions of the Nations League early this summer, he should be well rested going into the new season.

The most appealing reason to put faith in him from the start though is his price drop to 11m.

Harry Kane

Harry Kane

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