With just three weeks until the kick off of the Premier League season, the league’s biggest title contenders are warming up with some essential charity matches. This year’s transfer season has seen some huge changes, from the sale of Luis Suárez to Barcelona to the complete revamp of Southampton, but a few preliminary matches will ensure that the teams can gel together to ensure a successful season.

One match that’s got bookmakers talking is the forthcoming Community Shield, taking place on 10th August, which will see Manchester City take on Arsenal. The event, formerly known as the Charity Shield, has been taking place since 1908 and places the winners of the FA Cup (Arsenal) against the winners of the Premier League (Manchester City.)

This year will be particularly interesting, if the current odds are anything to go by. With odds of 9/4, Arsenal are an amazing value bet, particularly given the recent signing of Chilean superstar Alexis Sanchez. Though Wenger had been cautious of making any drastic moves too early on in the transfer window, he’s now made two essential purchases, Mathieu Debuchy and Alexis Sanchez, that will surely serve him well in the Premier League and indeed in the forthcoming charity match.

Punters who want to have a flutter on Arsenal in the Premier League need only look at Sanchez’s performance in the World Cup for proof of how much he can help the team. After scoring against Australia and former favourites Brazil, the 25-year-old has shown amazing potential, and this preview match could be a sign of things to come for the Premier League title race.

Meanwhile, Manchester City, who have taken the Community Shield title recently in 2012, should use this opportunity to stretch the legs of their new defence and goalkeeper. While some may argue that manager Manuel Pellegrini is fixing a formula that isn’t broken, he could be viewed as a cautious manager who’s taken care to have a back up where it counts. With odds of 5/4, The Blues are hot favourites to win this year’s event, and they have recent titles on their side. With a 2012 Community Shield win and a Premier League win, they’re highly preferable against a team who, prior to the last FA Cup, hadn’t won a title for nine years.

It could be argued however that the disparity in the odds is somewhat misleading: while experience tells us that Manchester City should win, a charity match is hardly a pairing that will see either team taking any risks. Just six days prior to the start of the Premier League season, both teams could see their managers starting their second team in a bid to keep peak fitness for the league.

For Arsenal however, a title win would be welcomed after their former nine-year drought, so we could just see the bookies proved wrong.

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After a summer of discontent it seems the Arsenal rumourmill has gone into overdrive. And once again the rumour wheel of fortune has landed on the name of Eden Hazard. As soon as Samir Nasri’s deal to Manchester City was done and dusted the “Hazard to Arsenal” rumours quickly snowballed to somewhat of a frenzy, even the BBC got in on the act.

Arsene Wenger and the club have been very quiet. Wenger dismissed reports of a £6m bid for Bolton’s Gary Cahill and nothing else was reported. On Thursday night French website Mercato 365 released a “story” that Hazard had agreed terms with Arsenal and a deal would be done for around €35m. Now let’s get a few things straight, Mercato365 is not a respected media outlet, to be honest it’s actually worse than talkSPORT.

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Over the past 12 months I have wrote quite a few articles about Eden Hazard and as the links to Arsenal have reared their ugly head again I suppose it is only right to share those pieces again.

I don’t personally believe he will leave the Stade Lille Metropole this summer, with only eight days left in the window it doesn’t make sense for Lille to part with the Belgian forward regardless of the price offered. However as I’ve always said…..you never know.

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The transfer merry-go-round is in full swing. With Samir Nasri the latest player to be linked with a move away from Arsenal top blogger Andrew Winn looks at the idea of Samir Nasri staying at the Emirates for another season.

Much like new kits and pre-season tours, the summer would not be the same without an annual transfer debacle. With increasing reliability, players will announce intentions to leave or join a club, listing numerous explanations, the majority of which will irritate the more suspicious supporters of his once beloved current employers.

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“Don’t be fooled by the calendar.  There are only as many days in the year as you make use of.”  ~Charles Richards

Transfer negotiators at Arsenal take note. Most summers at the Emirates are spent embroiled in the latest drawn out transfer saga. More often than not it involves Cesc Fabergas, the “will he won’t he” drama that fills most windows has at least been complimented this Summer with the potential purchase of Ivory Coast winger Gervinho from French champions Lille.

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On this week’s podcast we picked our goals of the season, the one and only Brent Atema describes our choices.

Eran Zehavi earned a special place in the hearts of football fans with this amazing overhead goal against Lyon in a December Champions League match. Not only did this goal help Hapoel Tel-Aviv earn a spot in the Europa League, it earned the Goal Of The Year nomination from Brazilian football expert Jack Lang.  While Jack admits to knowing nothing about Zehavi, he will always think of this goal whenever he hears that name mentioned.
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First of all…watch this!

 

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**Disclaimer** In no way is this an attempt to generate hits via having the keywords Eden Hazard, Arsenal and Transfer in the same article. Over the past few weeks questions about the future of Lille’s fantastic little Belgian have been flooding in via twitter and other avenues. It is time to put these to bed….for now.

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This can’t be the best of times to follow Les Sang et Or your team sits precariously in the relegation zone while you look up at your biggest rivals on the brink of their first title since 1954. With the dark clouds circling overhead the Stade Felix Bollaert fans in the Marek stand are beginning to look towards the ray of sunshine coming from the centre of their defence.
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This week I am joined by Gav Stone and Ethan Dean Richards as we
discuss the four Champions League games this week. Milan v Tottenham,
Valencia v Schalke, Roma v Shakhtar Donetsk and Arsenal v Barcelona.

There is also an interview with Daniel Richardson from Britski Belasli
about the ADO den Haag and the Eredivisie.

Hope you enjoy the pod, comments, suggestions and just general feedback are encouraged. For iTunes of to download go here

Episode 26 – gibfootballshow podcast by gibfootballshow

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