close season

Arsene Wenger

Wenger mulls second chance for ‘great player’ Wilshere

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London (AFP) – Arsene Wenger is weighing up whether to end Jack Wilshere’s Arsenal exile after the injury-plagued England international’s latest fitness setback.

Wenger sent Wilshere on loan to Bournemouth earlier this season in a bid to give the midfielder a chance to prove his fitness and form after several seasons of injury problems.

Wenger mulls second chance for ‘great player’ Wilshere

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London (AFP) – Arsene Wenger is weighing up whether to end Jack Wilshere’s Arsenal exile after the injury-plagued England international’s latest fitness setback.

Wenger sent Wilshere on loan to Bournemouth earlier this season in a bid to give the midfielder a chance to prove his fitness and form after several seasons of injury problems.

Arsenal’s strangely enjoyable close season

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"For the first time in a while, I will be very active"

With these dozen words, spoken at the tail end of May, Wenger has kicked off a fascinating close season. I didn't think I'd be enjoying it one bit, but I appear to be doing just that.

How so? Given that as much of the current transfer eddy is whirling around players who might depart as it is around players who might join, you'd have thought the whole rumour mill would be too hair-tearing for words.

My mouth is parched in this transfer desert

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What a goldfish I am. Despite an end of season that spent most of its time reeling from one calamity to another, I appear to be hankering for the new one already. When will I ever learn?

To be fair though, some bits and bobs need to happen before I can get genuinely giddy. Namely a scythe cutting through the chaff of the squad, coupled with the club storing the wheat in a silo where nobody can steal it.

Season overboard

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Fulham 2-2 Arsenal

So that's finished then, and as books go, I didn't much like the ending. I had high hopes there'd be a satisfying twist three quarters of the way through we were hoping for one but it finished rather predictably and it was heavy going to boot. I should have just read the last page back at the beginning of March and spared myself the effort.

The Rest

Freedom Kicks: D.C. United, MLS, USWNT, and Champions League news for Wednesday February 17, 2016

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United's season is days away, various MLS moves, USWNT games, and more to start your day.

As always, I left this very late and the result is no intro anecdote.

With Bill Hamid injured, Woodbridge's Andrew Dykstra gets D.C. United chance | Washington Times
Thomas Floyd talks to various United players about Andrew Dykstra, who is probably going to start a soccer game in less than a week.

End of an Era For Manchester United Stars Heralds a New Beginning For Younger Players

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The close season is, more than anything else, a time of change. Players and mangers come and go, club goals are reassessed and expectations molded. Similar to this summer, the corresponding months of 2006 also featured a World Cup, followed by its annual transfer merry-go-round.

That summer also featured change and uncertainty at one of the world's biggest clubs, Manchester United.

The story of the come-and-get-me plea

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In this protracted vacuum of idle nothingness, it's amused me to once again notice the proliferation of bonkers transfer-only phrases. You know, those ones that you never hear for the rest of the year, but suddenly become common currency. Tim Stillman spotted it too, all that pouncing and swooping, ('Pouncing on the tabling swoops') as did Rory Smith ('Cracking the transfer code') too.

Arsenal: Downsizing to fourth

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Arsenal 1-2 Aston Villa

So that's the Grove done and dusted for another season, on a day when there were plenty there in person but not in spirit, and plenty more there in theory but not in reality. 60,023 in the crowd? That's right up there with ‘great mental strength'.