Teemu Pukki and five other unlikely Premier League Player of the Month winners as Norwich striker picks up accolade for August

14 Sep

Teemu Pukki has been named the EA Sports Player of the Month for August and no player has been more deserving of the award.

The Norwich forward enjoyed a dream start to his Premier League career, becoming only the tenth player to score in his first three appearances, netting in the season opener at Liverpool before getting a hat-trick v Newcastle United as well as a goal and an assist against Chelsea.

The fact that the accolade has been scooped up from an unlikely source has been a breath of fresh air, with not many predicting the award to go to a player from one of the Premier League newcomers in the first month of the season.

The award is usually scooped up by players from the top six – and the likes of Sergio Aguero, Mohamed Salah and Kevin de Bruyne would have also been worthy winners in the past.

But in light of Pukki’s achievement, talkSPORT.com has identified five other equally unlikely winners of the monthly accolade…

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Edu – Arsenal – February 2004

Now technical director of his former club, Edu picked up the award in the 2003/04 season when the Gunners went unbeaten – but he had to share the monthly honour with team-mate Dennis Bergkamp.

The Brazilian netted the winner as Arsenal came from behind to beat Claudio Ranieri’s Chelsea 2-1, moving them seven points clear at the top of the table.

And although it isn’t out of the ordinary for an Arsenal player to win the award, when you think of some other stars who never won it, for example Patrick Vieira, it is still somewhat unusual he won the award.

The former midfielder has returned to Arsenal as technical director

Anton Ferdinand – West Ham – January 2006

Despite being the less successful of the two Ferdinand brothers, Anton has won the same number as his older sibling Rio. They are the only siblings to have won the award.

Ferdinand’s imperious performances at the back helped West Ham get two wins from three league games.

He also the scored in a 2-1 win over Fulham towards the end of the month – but ultimately the season ended in heartbreak when his penalty was saved in the FA Cup final as West Ham were defeated by Liverpool.

Ferdinand won the award with West Ham

Johan Elmander – Bolton – November 2010

The Swede was rewarded for a superb run of form late in 2010 – and his boss Owen Coyle picked up the manager’s prize.

Bolton recorded three wins and two draws in November 2010, with former striker Elmander netted three goals for the Trotters to pick up the prize.

His goal against Wolves was sublime, with a fine piece of skill to turn away from three defenders before slotting home.

Elmander played for Bolton between 2008-11

Tim Krul – Newcastle – November 2013

Newcastle won all four of their league games under Alan Pardew in November 2013 and Krul was the standout player, making a whopping 14 saves as the Magpies defeated Spurs and Chelsea.

Pardew’s men went on to finish tenth that season, with Krul suffering from a few injuries to keep him sidelined for the remainder of the season.

The Dutchman is now back in the Premier League with Norwich.

Newcastle goalkeeper Tim Krul ruled out for season after injury on Netherlands duty
Krul put in some heroic performances for Newcastle to win the award

Connor Wickham – Sunderland – April 2014

In April 2014, Sunderland picked up seven crucial points to retain their Premier League status and this was mainly due to the great form of Wickham.

Having suffered defeats to Tottenham and Everton, Wickham bagged a double in a 2-2 draw at Manchester City.

Three days later he got on the scoresheet as Sunderland famously beat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, before his double the following week helped Sunderland see off Cardiff 4-0.

The Wearside club stayed up, finishing 14th, but Wickham’s form didn’t last with unsuccessful spells at Sheffield Wednesday and Leeds, before joining Crystal Palace in 2015.

CONFIRMED! Crystal Palace sign Connor Wickham from Sunderland on five-year deal
Wickham produced a run of sensational form to keep his side in the Premier League

Arsenal EXCLUSIVE: Kia Joorabchian joins fans in urging Stan Kroenke to back Unai Emery and Edu with transfer funds

15 Jul

Top football agent and boyhood Arsenal supporter Kia Joorabchian has joined the chorus of fans sending a message to the club’s owner Stan Kroenke over his lack of financial backing.

On Monday morning, a group of influential Gunners supporters’ organisations, fanzines and blogs joined forces to hit out at Kroenke’s ‘passive ownership’ and called for ‘better leadership’ of their club.

Fans have not been happy with Stan Kroenke’s ownership of Arsenal
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A total of 16 signatories published a statement demanding change as the north London side prepare for a third successive season without Champions League football.

Under a heading of ‘#WeCareDoYou’, it criticised the imbalance of the Arsenal board, “soulless” atmosphere at the Emirates Stadium and a lack of transfer strategy.

Iranian-born Brit Joorabchian, who represents a number of high-profile footballers including Barcelona and Brazil playmaker Philippe Coutinho, grew up an Arsenal fan and told talkSPORT he shares the frustrations of his fellow Gooners.

He praised Arsenal for their recent appointment of former player Edu as their new technical director, but also questioned why club chiefs would hire such a strong back-room staff if they won’t give them funds to ‘deliver what they’ve been brought in to deliver’.

“I feel for the guys that have just come in – Raul [Sanllehi – head of football] and Edu and Unai Emery,” he told talkSPORT host Jim White.

“I feel for them because we have finally got incredibly knowledgeable footballing people there.

Unai Emery’s wants to strengthen his squad this summer, but his hands have been tied by a lack of investment from Arsenal’s owners
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“Raul came in from Barcelona, Edu came from the Brazil national team and is an legend at Arsenal, and Emery is a fantastic coach who has coached at Sevilla and PSG.

“Finally Arsenal have people who really understand football and are footballing people in the back room staff, but the question is whether or not the finances will be made available.

“If you don’t make the finances available, there is no big secret. If you cannot buy some strong players… they have to reinforce in defence, they have to reinforce in midfield and they have to reinforce out wide.

Arsenal fans make their feelings clear about Stan Kroenke
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“Arsenal have a great advantage that they already have what many clubs are looking for – two world class strikers in Aubameyang and Lacazette. The problem is they have to rebuild everyone else as the rest of the team is lacking.

“So unless the finances are made available it puts a lot of pressure on the guys they have hired to be able to deliver what they’ve been brought in to deliver.”

Listen back to talkSPORT’s interview with Kia Joorabchian IN FULL above

Arsenal transfer news: Gunners leading race to sign Brazil star Everton as technical director Edu meets with his agent

15 Jul

Edu appears to already be getting to work as Arsenal’s new technical director as he is reportedly helping to complete a deal for Brazil star Everton.

The Copa America winner has claimed he has an offer to leave Gremio this summer, but refused to reveal which team he is allegedly in talks with.

Everton has quickly risen to prominence and could join Arsenal this summer
Getty Images - Getty

It is believed the Gunners have made him a lucrative offer to leave the Brazilian side and join the Premier League.

Everton said: “At this moment I have an offer, but I can’t say the name of the club.

“Just like I can’t promise that on Thursday I’ll still be playing for Gremio, we’ll see.”

Everton was a standout performer for Brazil at the Copa America
Getty Images - Getty

A Brazilian journalist has claimed Arsenal representatives will arrive in Brazil on Monday to try and complete the deal.

The 23-year-old forward impressed at the Copa America, and he even scored the opening goal in the final as Brazil beat Peru 3-1.

He has been tipped for a move to Europe with Milan and Atletico Madrid also said to be interested in the Maracanau native.

The Gunners are thought to be in ‘prime position’ for Everton, however, as compatriot Edu reportedly met with the player’s agent Gilmar Veloz to push through a deal.

Arsenal name former midfielder Edu as new technical director as he leaves role with Brazil

9 Jul

Edu has been appointed as Arsenal’s new technical director, the club announced on Tuesday.

The former Gunners midfielder leaves a similar role with the Brazil national team to join up with the north London club.

Edu spent five seasons at Arsenal before leaving for Valencia in 2005.

The club confirmed the appointment on Tuesday afternoon, with Edu set to link up with the squad when they travel to the United States to begin their pre-season tour later this week.

It is the first time they have employed someone in a technical director role.

“In his role as technical director, Edu will 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,” Arsenal said in a statement announcing the 41-year-old’s return.

Edu, who formed part of Arsene Wenger’s Invincibles team of 2003/04, said: “Arsenal has always had a special place in my heart and I’m thrilled to be returning to this great club in this new role.

“We have a strong squad and some very talented young players with fantastic people at every level. I’m looking forward to helping make a difference.”

The news was welcomed on Twitter by Arsenal legend Ian Wright, who said: “Welcome home my friend. Great appointment moving the club in the right direction. Someone that understands what it takes and understands the club + our fans.”

Arsenal news: Edu tipped to return to former club as sporting director after Copa America ends

7 May

Edu is expected to become Arsenal’s new sporting director in the summer.

The former midfielder, who spent five seasons with the Gunners, is currently working for the Brazilian FA but is ready to join the north London club when the Copa America ends on July 7.

Edu is set to return to Arsenal as their sporting director
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It has been widely reported in Brazil that Edu will imminently sign a five-year contract with Arsenal ahead of his impending return.

He is understood to be set to have one more meeting with the north London club to finalise the details of that contract.

The 40-year-old won two Premier League titles and two FA Cups with the club and was also part of the ‘Invincibles’ squad.

He is currently the general co-ordinator for the Brazil national team and has previously impressed as sporting director at Corinthians.

Edu is currently working with the Brazilian FA
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Arsenal have been looking for a new sporting director for a number of months since the restructure of the club’s hierarcy.

Head of recruitment Sven Mislintat left Arsenal when he was not offered that role.

Roma’s director of football Monchi looked to be lined up as sporting director and even left the club by mutual consent in March.

He elected to rejoin his former team Sevilla rather than reunite with Unai Emery at Arsenal.

Head of football Raul Sanllehi and chief negotiator Huss Fahey are understood to be in control of Arsenal’s transfer business this summer.