As we endure the third interlull of the season, here’s what’s been happening in the world of Arsenal this weekend so far.

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 12: Emile Smith Rowe of England battles for possession with Klaus Gjasula of Albania during the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifier match between England and Albania at Wembley Stadium on November 12, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND – NOVEMBER 12: Emile Smith Rowe of England battles for possession with Klaus Gjasula of Albania during the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifier match between England and Albania at Wembley Stadium on November 12, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Covid update

Premier League clubs have been informed that if they get 85% of their players and staff vaccinated, they can remove social distancing requirements at training grounds and return to travelling to games in the same coach.

Clubs would also be allowed to resume in-person press conferences, depending on the facilities available.

Arsenal new – quick bits

  • Arsenal ready to sell Nicolas Pepe to fund replacement (see below)
  • Arsenal’s u23s won 4-1 at West Brom on Thursday
  • Katie McCabe picked up Goal of the Month
  • Ian Wright has been praising Aaron Ramsdale
  • Matteo Guendouzi wants to stay at Marseille
  • Albert Sambi Lokonga says he’s ‘very happy’ at Arsenal and made the ‘right choice’ to join
  • Jack Wilshere revealed he has considered retiring

Arsenal are reportedly open to selling Nicolas Pepe in order to raise funds for other players.

Arsenal's French-born Ivorian midfielder Nicolas Pepe (L) is shown a red card by atch Referee Anthony Taylor (R) during the English Premier League football match between Leeds United and Arsenal at Elland Road in Leeds, northern England on November 22, 2020. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / POOL / AFP)
Arsenal’s French-born Ivorian midfielder Nicolas Pepe (L) is shown a red card by atch Referee Anthony Taylor (R) during the English Premier League football match between Leeds United and Arsenal at Elland Road in Leeds, northern England on November 22, 2020. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / POOL / AFP)

As I was looking at the players Mikel Arteta has opted to get rid of, either permanently or on loan, I thought to myself that the only reason Nicolas Pepe is still at the club is simply because Arsenal overpaid for him by so much that they weren’t willing to such a massive financial hit on him.

Unai Emery signed 12 players when he was Arsenal boss and, of those, only Kieran Tierney, Nicolas Pepe, Gabriel Martinelli and Bernd Leno remain at the club unsold or unloaned.

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 23: Arsenal Unveil New Head Coach Unai Emery at Emirates Stadium on May 23, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND – MAY 23: Arsenal Unveil New Head Coach Unai Emery at Emirates Stadium on May 23, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

By the end of the summer, that number could be down to just two, although we should also see William Saliba return to Arsenal.

But, back to Pepe.

Nicolas Pepe left celebrates with team-mates after scoring their side s first goal of the game during the Premier League match at Selhurst Park, London. Picture date: Wednesday May 19, 2021. Copyright: Justin Setterfield
Nicolas Pepe left celebrates with team-mates after scoring their side s first goal of the game during the Premier League match at Selhurst Park, London. Picture date: Wednesday May 19, 2021. Copyright: Justin Setterfield

Pepe has played just five league minutes in the last three games and, after a run of starts at the beginning of the season, has started just one of the last six.

One goal and three assists has been his return from nine matches, averaging 73.5 minutes per match.

Arsenal are said to be willing to let Pepe go for around £25m but it’s worth noting that the price of £25m comes from the Daily Mail, who base their report on Football.London, who price him at £31.5m, the price he is currently valued at on Transfermarkt.

Pepe still has another two years left in his Arsenal deal and the club will certainly to be hoping to recoup some of the massive outlay they made for a player who, given long enough to prove himself, has not really progressed as we all would have hoped he might.

Arsenal v Norwich City Premier League Arsenal Manager Mikel Arteta gives instructions to Nicolas Pepe of Arsenal during the Premier League match at the Emirates Stadium, London Copyright: Paul Chesterton
Arsenal v Norwich City Premier League Arsenal Manager Mikel Arteta gives instructions to Nicolas Pepe of Arsenal during the Premier League match at the Emirates Stadium, London Copyright: Paul Chesterton

Cutting their losses might not be a bad idea, especially if Arsenal can replace him with a move effective player.

To date, Pepe has scored 25 goals in 98 appearances with 18 assists. In 19 fewer appearances (although 185 minutes more) for Lille, Pepe scored 37 and assisted 17.

Gabriel Martinelli’s father clarifies Arsenal’s firm decision

Following recent comments from Gabriel Martinelli’s agent, his father has now spoken out to deny the links to Corinthians and state that Arsenal will not release his son to play elsewhere.

arsenal v afc wimbledon carabao cup third round
LONDON, ENGLAND: Gabriel Martinelli of Arsenal in action during the Carabao Cup Third Round match between Arsenal and AFC Wimbledon at Emirates Stadium on September 22, 2021. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Reports in recent days have suggested that Brazilian club Corinthians are interested in bringing Gabriel Martinelli back to his home country on loan in the January transfer window.

The Arsenal youngster’s agent told the media there’s “zero chance” of that, but just for good measure, Yahoo! Esportes also spoke to Martinelli’s father about the possibility.

“No chance of him going to Corinthians or any other Brazilian club,” Joao Martinelli said.

“Since he came back from injury, he’s been playing a lot less than he’d like.

“There have been proposals from Europe, but Arsenal has already warned they will not release him.”

BRENTFORD, ENGLAND - AUGUST 13: Frank Onyeka of Brentford and Gabriel Martinelli of Arsenal battle for the ball during the Premier League match between Brentford and Arsenal at Brentford Community Stadium on August 13, 2021 in Brentford, England. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
BRENTFORD, ENGLAND – AUGUST 13: Frank Onyeka of Brentford and Gabriel Martinelli of Arsenal battle for the ball during the Premier League match between Brentford and Arsenal at Brentford Community Stadium on August 13, 2021 in Brentford, England. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Arsenal’s Gabriel Martinelli stance

Despite Martinelli’s limited minutes on the pitch, Martinelli Sr. insists that the Arsenal hierarchy are big believers in his son, who remains very committed every day in training.

“People like him a lot,” Joao Martinelli added.

“Not only for how he plays, but also for his dedication. Martinelli is almost always the first to arrive for training and the last to leave.”

Martinelli has made eight appearances for Arsenal this season, including two starts in the Premier League and two in the League Cup.

He won a penalty in the cup win against AFC Wimbledon, but he’s yet to provide a goal or assist this campaign.

The 20-year-old should have a chance to find his rhythm over the festive period and through January, as the fixture list gets congested and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang heads off for AFCON.

That will likely be why Arsenal aren’t considering a loan right now.

Cedric Soares impresses as he targets Arteta recall

Cedric Soares is impressing Arsenal staff with his hard work behind the scenes and he’s hoping to win back his spot in the team.

Carabao Cup Arsenal v AFC Wimbledon Alexandre Lacazette 9 of Arsenal celebrates his goal with , Cedric Soares to make it 1-0 London Emirates Stadium Greater London United Kingdom Copyright: Arron Gent/News Images
Carabao Cup – Arsenal v AFC Wimbledon – Alexandre Lacazette of Arsenal celebrates his goal with Cedric Soares to make it 1-0. London, Emirates Stadium, United Kingdom. Copyright: Arron Gent/News Images

ESPN report that Arsenal’s backroom staff have been impressed with Cedric Soares‘ work ethic, which isn’t the first time we’ve heard that.

Over the summer, despite links to a new right-back signing and the competition from Calum Chambers and Hector Bellerin, Football.London reported that Cedric was impressing coaches and was in contention for games when the season got underway.

The suggestion from Cedric’s camp was that the defender planned to fight for his place at Arsenal.

So it proved, with Cedric starting two of the first three league games of the season.

The arrival of Takehiro Tomiyasu has relegated him to a bench role, but he’s still clearly ahead of Calum Chambers, despite Chambers ending last season as a starter.

Takehiro Tomiyasu A at the EPL match Arsenal v Norwich City, at the Emirates Stadium, London, UK on 11th September, 2021.
Takehiro Tomiyasu A at the EPL match Arsenal v Norwich City, at the Emirates Stadium, London, UK on 11th September, 2021.

“I’m there fighting,” Cedric told ESPN.

“Every week, every day, I will be there knocking [on the door], making him a problem – in a good way – that he needs to think who to put on the pitch.

“Of course, it is [Arteta’s] decision. I respect that and he knows that.

“But I will not make it easier.

As for any suggestion he might leave in January to try and get regular minutes ahead of next year’s Qatar World Cup, Cedric was adamant he’s focusing on his current club.

Cedric Soares of Arsenal - Arsenal v Slavia Prague, UEFA Europa League, Quarter Final, First Leg, Football, Emirates Stadium, London, UK - 08 Apr 2021. Copyright: Javier Garcia / BPI / Shutterstock
Cedric Soares of Arsenal – Arsenal v Slavia Prague, UEFA Europa League, Quarter Final, First Leg, Football, Emirates Stadium, London, UK – 08 Apr 2021. Copyright: Javier Garcia / BPI / Shutterstock

“I’m completely focused on Arsenal,” Cedric said.

“In football you cannot guarantee anything because you don’t know: tomorrow everything can change.

“But right now, I’m here, I’m fighting for my position.

“It is the club I want to be in and I want to win my space and I will keep doing my thing.”

Manchester City v Arsenal - Premier League - Etihad Stadium Arsenals Cedric Soares left and Manchester City s Joao Cancelo battle for the ball in the air during the Premier League match at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester. Picture date: Saturday August 28, 2021. Copyright: Nick Potts
Manchester City v Arsenal – Premier League – Etihad Stadium Arsenals Cedric Soares left and Manchester City s Joao Cancelo battle for the ball in the air during the Premier League match at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester. Picture date: Saturday August 28, 2021. Copyright: Nick Potts

Cedric should at least get some more chances in the team towards the end of 2021 and the start of 2022.

Arsenal will be competing on three fronts, with the League Cup run still ongoing and the FA Cup kicking off alongside the busy Premier League schedule.

That will be his opportunity to try and break back into the team.

Calum Chambers offered to AS Roma but they want Manchester United man

Intermediaries have offered Calum Chambers to AS Roma but the Serie A club are prioritising a move for Manchester United’s Diogo Dalot.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 28: Calum Chambers of Arsenal cuts a dejected figure following the Premier League match between Manchester City and Arsenal at Etihad Stadium on August 28, 2021 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – AUGUST 28: Calum Chambers of Arsenal cuts a dejected figure following the Premier League match between Manchester City and Arsenal at Etihad Stadium on August 28, 2021 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Il Corriere dello Sport (via Football-Italia) report that Calum Chambers has been offered to AS Roma.

The 26-year-old is reportedly keen to leave North London for playing time, though Roma themselves are not convinced about the signing.

Whilst Jose Mourinho is certainly looking for a new right-back, his number-one option is Manchester United’s Diogo Dalot.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 22: Diogo Dalot of Manchester United battles for possession with Arthur Masuaku of West Ham United during the Carabao Cup Third Round match between Manchester United and West Ham United at Old Trafford on September 22, 2021 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – SEPTEMBER 22: Diogo Dalot of Manchester United battles for possession with Arthur Masuaku of West Ham United during the Carabao Cup Third Round match between Manchester United and West Ham United at Old Trafford on September 22, 2021 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images)

RB Leipzig’s Benjamin Henrichs is another alternative struggling for gametime.

LEIPZIG, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 06: Benjamin Henrichs of Leipzig in action during the Bundesliga match between RB Leipzig and Borussia Dortmund at Red Bull Arena on November 06, 2021 in Leipzig, Germany. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)
LEIPZIG, GERMANY – NOVEMBER 06: Benjamin Henrichs of Leipzig in action during the Bundesliga match between RB Leipzig and Borussia Dortmund at Red Bull Arena on November 06, 2021 in Leipzig, Germany. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)

As for Chambers, Roma seem unwilling to hold talks with the player’s camp at this stage.

You’d imagine there will be interest in Chambers next summer, as his contract with Arsenal comes to an end.

Foreign clubs will be able to speak to him about a free transfer and a pre-contract agreement in January.

But Roma don’t seem enthusiastic.

Arsenal's Spanish manager Mikel Arteta congratulates Arsenal's English defender Calum Chambers (L) on the pitch after the UEFA Europa League 1st Round Group B football match between Arsenal and Rapid Vienna at the Emirates Stadium in London on December 3, 2020. - Arsenal won the game 4-1. (Photo by Adrian DENNIS / AFP)
Arsenal’s Spanish manager Mikel Arteta congratulates Arsenal’s English defender Calum Chambers (L) on the pitch after the UEFA Europa League 1st Round Group B football match between Arsenal and Rapid Vienna at the Emirates Stadium in London on December 3, 2020. – Arsenal won the game 4-1. (Photo by Adrian DENNIS / AFP)

The chances of Chambers sticking around at Arsenal appear to be minimal.

After he initially took on a fairly important role for Mikel Arteta following his recovery from injury last season, Chambers has only made one appearance since August – and it was as a substitute.

If that doesn’t change, it’s hard to see the defender signing an extension, although the club don’t seem in a rush to offer one.

It’s a shame to lose a homegrown player with plenty of Premier League experience but Calum Chambers needs to be playing.

Warnock: Wenger the greatest Premier League manager, Ferguson 4th

Neil Warnock believes Arsene Wenger is the Premier League’s greatest manager, and he explained why in a recent interview.

Arsene Wenger during an interview at the Mercedes Benz Building prior to the Laureus World Sports Awards on February 17, 2020 in Berlin, Germany.
BERLIN, GERMANY: Arsene Wenger during an interview at the Mercedes Benz Building prior to the Laureus World Sports Awards on February 17, 2020. (Photo by Boris Streubel/Getty Images for Laureus)

You may be surprised to learn that one of Arsene Wenger’s biggest advocates is former Sheffield United, Cardiff City and most recently Middlesbrough boss Neil Warnock, but the 72-year-old recently named Wenger as his number-one Premier League manager.

Putting Wenger ahead of Pep Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp, Sir Alex Ferguson, and Jose Mourinho (in that order), Warnock argued that the former Arsenal boss’ influence went far beyond just coaching a team.

“Since the Premier League started if I was picking my top five managers… I would pick Arsene Wenger as the number one,” Warnock said.

“Only because he changed the whole outlook on modern footballers. He brought so many things in that had never been thought of.

“The nutritionist, the fitness guys, video, technology. He changed the whole course of it when he came into the Premier League.”

It’s certainly true that Wenger helped to alter the direction of the Premier League in many ways. Even if it’s not explicitly recognised, you can probably see the by-products of Wenger’s Arsenal spell in almost every club across the country.

Wenger also had plenty of success on the pitch, most notably the invincible season. So when you combine the off-field and on-field impact he had, it’s understandable that the likes of Warnock might see Wenger as the top dog.

It’s perhaps a little cheeky to rank Sir Alex Ferguson as low as fourth, given he’s still a fair way clear as the most successful Premier League manager. But Warnock’s argument for putting Wenger first isn’t without merit.

The dates for the 2021/22 season have been announced with the season taking a seven-week break to accommodate the 2022 Qatar World Cup.

Qatar World Cup - MOSCOW, RUSSIA - JULY 07: In this handout from the 2022 Supreme Committee - General view of the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup exhibition in Gorky Park on July 7, 2018 in Moscow, Russia. Football fans, officials and the world's media in Russia attended Qatar's 2022 FIFA World Cup exhibitions in Moscow's famous Gorky Park to see what the tournament in four years' time will be like. (Handout - 2022 Supreme Committee via Getty Images)
Qatar World Cup – MOSCOW, RUSSIA – JULY 07: In this handout from the 2022 Supreme Committee – General view of the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup exhibition in Gorky Park on July 7, 2018 in Moscow, Russia. Football fans, officials and the world’s media in Russia attended Qatar’s 2022 FIFA World Cup exhibitions in Moscow’s famous Gorky Park to see what the tournament in four years’ time will be like. (Handout – 2022 Supreme Committee via Getty Images)

In a statement, a Premier League spokesperson said: “The Premier League 2022/23 season dates have been confirmed.

“The season has been adjusted to accommodate the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 which will take place in the middle of the domestic calendar.

“The Premier League season will start on 6 August 2022. Match Round 16 will be the last set of matches played over the weekend of 12-13 November ahead of the call-up period for the tournament beginning on Monday 14 November.

“The League will resume on Boxing Day following the FIFA World Cup Final, which takes place on Sunday 18 December 2022.

“The final match round of the campaign will be played on 28 May 2023, when all games will kick off simultaneously as usual.”

The Fa Cup final will take place the following weekend – on Sunday 4 June 2023.

Arsenal players in Qatar World Cup qualifiers round-up

Kieran Tierney made an exceptional clearance for Scotland on Friday night in their Qatar World Cup qualifying game, Emile Smith Rowe made his debut for England, while a few other Arsenal players were also in action for their countries.

Kieran Tienry amazing goal-saving clearance fro Scotland (see more below)
Kieran Tienry amazing goal-saving clearance fro Scotland (see more below)

England all but sealed qualification for the Qatar World Cup with a 5-1 win over Albania on Friday night.

They now only need a draw against San Marino on Monday to make it out of their stupidly easy group.

Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka were both named on the bench but with 77 minutes on the clock, Gareth Southgate took Raheem Sterling off and brought on Smith Rowe.

Smith Rowe completed 93% of his 13 passes.

After the game, Smith Rowe took to Twitter to say he was ‘buzzing to make my debut’.

Bukayo Saka was an unused substitute.

On Saturday morning, it was revealed that Southgate will remain as England manager until 2024.

His current contract expires after the Qatar World Cup next winter but there is an agreement in principal to extend his deal for a further year.

Other Qatar World Cup qualifiers

Mohamed Elneny got on the scoresheet for Egypt as they drew 2-2 in Angola.

“Goals with Egypt national team always have its memories and a special taste,” Elneny wrote on his twitter account on Saturday.

“I thank God for the qualify and I thank my teammates for their performance during the game,” he said. “We are ready for the next round,” the Arsenal man added.

After his first international call-up, Gabriel remained on the bench for their 1-0 win over Colombia thanks to a 72nd minute Lucas Paqueta goal (Neymar assist) past David Ospina in goal.

Kieran Tierney started and played the full 90 for Scotland as they won 2-0 in Moldova.

Towards the end of the match, with Scotland 2-0 up, Moldova were awarded a penalty.

A great save by Craig Gordon was followed up by a quite brilliant Kieran Tierney clearance:

Sead Kolasinac picked up a nasty looking injury and had to be carried off in Bosnia’s match against Finland which they lost 3-1.

Martin Odegaard was the man of the match for Norway as they drew 0-0 with Latvia.

Nicolas Pepe was a 70th minute sub for Ivory Coast as they won 3-0 at home to Mozambique.

Albert Sambi Lokonga was on the bench as Belgium beat Estonia 3-1.

Lucas Torreira played the full 90 for Uruguay as they lost 1-0 at home to Argentina with Emi Martinez in goal.

Matteo Guendouzi was on the bench as France beat Kazakhstan 8-0 with Kylian Mbappe scoring four and assisting one.

Injury ruled Daniel Ballard out of Northern Ireland’s 1-0 win over Lithuania at Windsor Park.

Stan Kroenke buys $23.8m luxury 2nd apartment in Beverly Hills

Maybourne Beverly Hills
Maybourne Beverly Hills

Stan Kroenke, and his wife, Ann Walton Kroenke, heir to the Walmart fortune, have purchased a second luxury condo in the Maybourne Beverly Hills for a record price of $23.8m.

The 4,900-square-foot apartment in the complex where the Kroenke’s already own another unit, sits in the prestigious Golden Triangle section of Beverly Hills, bounded by Santa Monica Boulevard, Wilshire Boulevard and Crescent Drive.

It also includes the famous Rodeo Drive shopping district with names such as Breitling, Henry Jaques, Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana, Dior, G-Star RAW, Prada, Alexander McQuee, Hermes (not the delivery people), Rolex, Tom Ford, Jimmy Choo, and many others all have flagship stores.

Rodeo Drive
Rodeo Drive

Kroenke bought his first apartment there 10 years ago.

Back in 2016, Stan Kroenke splashed $725m on the world’s highest-priced private estate when he purchased the Waggoner Ranch.