Reading faces up to the realities of oversupply

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Cazorla eyes Arsenal return

first_imgArsenal midfielder Santi Cazorla hopes to be fit for the Barclays Premier League trip to West Brom a week on Sunday. Prior to that game, current Premier League leaders Arsenal are at Swansea in the top flight on Saturday and then host Napoli in the Champions League on Tuesday. As well as Cazorla, Gunners boss Arsene Wenger went into Wednesday’s Capital One Cup third-round tie at West Brom – which his team won 4-3 on penalties after it finished 1-1 after extra-time – without Theo Walcott (stomach), Tomas Rosicky (thigh), Yaya Sanogo (back), Lukas Podolski (hamstring), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Abou Diaby (both knee). Wenger hopes the gruelling efforts at The Hawthorns will not have taken too much out of those players likely to be in his plans for Saturday. He told Arsenal Player: “We rested many players at West Brom and some others players came back like Arteta, who played 90 minutes in his first game, and Bendtner. We have to check everybody tomorrow [Friday] morning but, from last Saturday, all the players should be available. “Rosicky should be back in the training squad on Monday so he has a chance to be available for the squad (in the Champions League against Napoli) on Tuesday. “Saturday is too short for him, but we all love Rosicky so it is good to have him back.” At just 17, forward Chuba Akpom was the youngest player on either of the two sides on Wednesday night. Akpom, who scored his penalty to level the shoot-out at 3-3, cannot wait for another chance of first-team action, which could well put him up against former England captain John Terry in the Chelsea defence when the next round of Capital One Cup actions resumes. “It is one of the best feelings I have ever had. Coming on for 10 minutes at the end, playing in extra time and I scored my penalty. It is good to be part of the first team. The Capital One Cup is where I get my chance and I hope I impressed,” he said. Akpom added: “I am more than willing to play against him (Terry) or anyone. I am feeling really confident right now, so if it (another chance) comes, it comes.” Cazorla has missed the Gunners’ last four matches in all competitions due to an ankle injury. Answering questions on Thursday via Arsenal’s Twitter account, the 28-year-old Spain international said: “I will be fit maybe in one week, I hope I can play at West Brom.” center_img Press Associationlast_img read more

Ben Arfa wants to fight for future

first_img Press Association Sport understands the France playmaker, forced to train with Newcastle’s reserves by manager Alan Pardew, is determined to fight for his St James’ Park future. Newcastle bosses claimed Ben Arfa returned for the start of pre-season overweight, but the French midfielder looked sharp as he scored in a 5-2 reserve-team victory over Reading on Monday. Press Association Ben Arfa’s contract expires next summer and Newcastle are keen to offload the 27-year-old, with Pardew deeming him surplus to requirements. The 13-cap France star is understood to favour battling to win back favour at Newcastle over any transfer. Ben Arfa has previously been a target for Newcastle’s Premier League rivals Tottenham and Liverpool, but interest has waned in this transfer window. Lyon are thought to have expressed their interest to Newcastle, but Ben Arfa is not keen on leaving the Premier League or returning to his first senior club. Ben Arfa joined Newcastle in 2010 and established himself as one of the most creative forces at St James’ Park, but his relationship with current boss Pardew remains strained at best. Ben Arfa, who has been frustrated with Newcastle’s intimations he has been unfit and overweight, is confident he has proved his fitness. Newcastle laboured to a 1-0 victory over Sky Bet League One side Gillingham in the Capital One Cup second round on Tuesday night. The Magpies claimed their first goal of the new season, but even that was an own goal from Gillingham’s John Egan. The former Sunderland defender turned the ball into his own net to hand Pardew’s men their first win of the new campaign, but still none of Newcastle’s players are off the mark. Newcastle lost 2-0 at home to champions Manchester City on the season’s opening day before grinding out a 0-0 stalemate at Aston Villa last weekend. New strike duo Siem de Jong and Emmanuel Riviere failed to click at Gillingham, while Yoann Gouffran could not find the net at Villa Park. The Magpies craved the kind of defence-unlocking creativity that is Ben Arfa’s speciality in Kent and have lacked spark so far this term. Boss Pardew admitted his side must find their attacking feet and fast to jump-start their league campaign, but it looks as though that will still unfold without Ben Arfa’s assistance. Pardew revealed he could turn to teenager Rolando Aarons for Saturday’s home clash with Crystal Palace after the 18-year-old impressed at Gillingham. “He typifies what Newcastle crowd want to see, taking people on and making things happen,” said Pardew of the Jamaica-born winger. “There’s a good chance he could play on Saturday the way he played.” Newcastle signed Aarons from Bristol City in 2012, with Pardew revealing the flighty winger has edged ahead of home-grown youngster Adam Armstrong during the summer. “He came into our academy quite late and he started showing a few signs at the back-end of last year,” said Pardew on Aarons. “Probably he was behind Armstrong at that stage, though he’s just edged above him this pre-season. “We’ve got two offensive players coming through the academy and if they can crack it in the first team that would be very lucky for us. “Because it’s very difficult to get offensive players through your academy.” Hatem Ben Arfa is ready to dig in his heels and reject any move away from Newcastle in the current transfer window.last_img read more