New Signings Koch and Obradovic Introduced

New signings Julian Koch and Marko Obradovic have been introduced to the media at the Emirates Stadium this morning, with the Arsenal manager buoyant about working with the players. Both are likely to feature prominently in Sunday’s friendly at St. Johnstone.

journalist70Press Conference:
In attendance are BBC London, TEAMtalk,
Football 365, The People, & The Guardian.

surman70Arsenal FC:
First Team manager Gray Surman introduces
new signings Julian Koch and Marko Obradovic.

I’m delighted to be able to welcome both Julian and Marko to the club, and I sit here confident that their arrival will be a massive boost to the whole team, and confirm my intent to challenge for the top four this season.

“Marko’s signing is just part of my long-term vision for the future of Arsenal , and I’m confident he can make a big contribution. he was keen to join his international team-mate Matija [Nastasic] here and I thank Matija for helping us push the deal over the line.

“I’m excited to be working with Julian again, he was a player I was keeping tabs on during my time away, and I’m honoured that he stated publicly that he’d jump at the chance to join me here at Arsenal. I have a great friendship with him and it was idea for him to come here and take the next step in his career.

“I understand that I may have ruffled a few feathers with the Dortmund fans, but we made a fair offer and nobody forced their board to accept. The deal went through without a hitch so the Dortmund fans should be pleased that Julian is happy and will be playing football at the highest level next season.

“There is still some room left in the budget, and I have identified one area I’d like to strengthen ahead of the season so it’s about making the right moves if the right players become available. I’m happy with the squad now we’ve made these two key signings.

“Above all, I’m looking forward to seeing everyone in action on Sunday.”

First Press Conference for New Arsenal Boss

New Arsenal manager Gray Surman has been introduced to the media at the Emirate Stadium in club’s first press day with their new man in charge and the Canadian spoke assertively about his return to club football, and to the stadium he’d visited twice before with Wigan and Dortmund.

Surman’s first trip here was in November 2012 with his Wigan Athletic side winning 1-0 in the Premier League clash, and he visited again with Borussia Dortmund the following year in an entertaining 2-2 Champions League Group Stage draw in December 2013.

Surman has faced Arsenal on four other occasions: a 3-2 FA Cup win in Wigan in January 2013, followed by a 1-1 draw in the Premier League at the DW stadium. In the Champions League, Surman’s Dortmund side won 2-0 at Signal Iduna Park and – most recently – the clubs met in the 2014 UEFA Super Cup with Dortmund winning a five-goal thriller in Cardiff.

During the press conference, Surman revealed that midfielder Jos Verniers had signed a new four-year extension with the club on an increased wage of £50,000 p/w, and spoke about retaining the services of defender Laurent Koscielny and want-away midfidler Jack Wilshere who are both rumoured to be on their way out of Arsenal this summer.

Before Surman spoke, a representative of the Arsenal board announced that the club had sold 22,480 season tickets so far this summer and following Surman’s arrival they were anticipating selling a total of 41,000 before the season kicks-off on 18 August.

Rumours are that Arsenal are in talks with Dortmund over the services of right-back Julian Koch, and may have thrown their hat in the ring late on to scupper the deal taking Serbian striker Marko Obradovic® from Monaco to Manchester United.

FanTV reported afterwards that Koscielny, Vedran Corluka, and Santi Cazorla had all “liked” posts on the club’s social media that featured video clips of Surman’s Q&A.

journalist70Press Conference:
In attendance are Sky Sports News, London Evening Standard,
TEAMtalk, Guardian, Football365, Daily Mirror, and The Metro.

surman70Arsenal FC:
Introducing former-Wigan and Dortmund head coach Gray Surman
as the new First Team Manager here at the Emirates Stadium in London.

“I am absolutely delighted to be here, and be back at the business end of a top club. I’m looking forward to being involved from the seniors to the academy, encouraging attractive football in partnership with the key Arsenal philosophy of nurturing youth on their way into the first team.

“The achievements of the club in Europe over the last three seasons have been great, but my main focus will be on the Premier League and getting the club back in the top four and back in the Champions League. That’s not to diminish any cup competitions we find ourselves in, as a winning run always brings a great morale boost to any squad.

“The backroom staff here are part of a fantastic setup and I feel it would be foolish to meddle with that. They have the experience of the players here. As much as I am very fond of my staff from Dortmund, we haven’t worked with each other for three years and I don’t want to disrupt their various projects.

“I’m aware that Laurent has been linked with other clubs, but I feel he would be an integral part of any title-chasing defence and I’ll do my utmost to keep him here. Similarly, Jack had made his feelings known to the previous management of his desire to move on from Arsenal, but I will take time to sit down with him and see if we’re on the same page with regards to what we should be achieving this season.

“The facilities here are wonderful with a high quality of players and staff so it’s unlikely that I’ll be making sweeping changes at any level. Though with new management comes a new opportunity to inject new life into any squad. I’m keen to add two or three faces to add depth to the squad and provide some competition in key areas.

“We could be a little light at the back should any long-term injuries fall our way by the time the Europa League starts. A World Cup year is always one where some big names make moves, and I’ll be keeping tabs on who could be available for us. We have already made enquiries with a couple of clubs with regards to potential deals, and more details will follow should we enter deeper discussions.

“There’s money in the kitty, and the chairman has provided the facility to increase our current wage budget by about a third of current spending to accommodate additions to the squad, including any contract renewals this season. Jos is a player I’m looking forward to working with again, and I’m pleased to announce that he has agreed a new four-year deal after my arrival here.”

BVB Preview: Hummels Rallies The Troops


Borussia Dortmund captain Mats Hummels has urged his team-mates to win both of their remaining games, starting with the visit of Mainz tomorrow afternoon. Dortmund need just two points to claim back-to-back Bundesliga titles for the fourth time,  their tenth top-flight title.

hummelsThe 26 year-old centre-back has made 35 Dortmund appearances this season, scoring thirteen goals, helping keeping fifteen clean sheets, being voted man of the match six times, and winning one Bundesliga Player of the Week award.

70-mainzFSV Mainz have enjoyed their best ever season in continental football, having played in the Champions League for the first time, missing out on the knockout stages on goal difference behind Real Madrid. They then beat Rubin Kazan and Lazio before falling in the last eight against Ajax.

After last season’s third-place finish, the side are battling to end this campaign in the top-half, sitting in tenth place and unable to finish higher than eighth. The squad is the same as last year’s, not bringing anyone in during the transfer windows and managing to retain their core.

Ádám Szalai is their top-scorer having found the back of the net twenty times this season, as well as once for Hungary in his three appearances in their Euro 2016 qualifying campaign.

skybet70Matchday Odds
Dortmund: Evens
Draw: 2-1
Mainz: 11-5

Dortmund lost the reverse fixture at Mainz 1-2 at the beginning of December, just three days after crashing out of the Champions League after being beaten at home by Standard Liège. Andreas Ivanschitz put Mainz ahead inside two minutes, with Marco Reus equalising five minutes before the break.

Ádám Szalai scored what was the winner with less than 90 seconds to go of the first-half, before referee Florian Meyer disallowed a Robert Lewandowski equaliser and turning down a strong penalty shout after the interval.

Tomrrow’s referee will be Günter Perl from Munich, taking charge of his 18th 1.Bundesliga game of the season. He’s shown just 22 yellows and one red in those previous seventeen matches. His last Dortmund game was the 4-1 win at Nürnberg in February.

In the pre-match press conference, manager Grayson Surman said that the squad was treating the match like any other, buoyed by extra confidence from the win at Bayern last week.

Dortmund are expected to play their strongest-possible squad, with Roman Weidenfeller expected to say a fond farewell to Signal Iduna Park ahead of a summer move away from the club after thirteen years at the club. Surman wants the job done tomorrow so he can play some youngsters at Hoffenheim next week.

speechmarks-leftspeechmarks-rightWe’re back playing very well, as we showed in Munich last week. We all want to put on one last display at home and treat our fans – the best in the league.

Surman Plays Down Anderlecht Job Link


Dortmund manager Gray Surman has dismissed talk that he’s interested in the vacant managerial position at his boyhood club RSC Anderlecht, who are seeking to replace John van den Brom after he joined Montpellier earlier this week.

Speaking after Dortmund’s home win against Hamburg on Tuesday night, Surman stated that he “has two titles to defend, and a fantastic opportunity to lift a trophy that this club hasn’t achieved before.”

“I’m very proud of the squad I’ve assembled here, and my focus is with Borussia Dortmund until we achieve those goals.”

Speaking about the Hamburg game specifically, Surman said “I think that if you look at our fixtures and our current form, this good run can go on a little while yet. Jos Verniers made his début today and I felt he coped well with all the expectation. André Schürrle was absolutely outstanding, he’s finally found his feet here.”

Cynics will say that Surman may leave in the summer, and wouldn’t want the ignominy of walking out of Dortmund mid-season, but that Anderlecht cannot afford the large compensation package to release him two years early from his contract.

Preview and Presser: Home v. Hamburg (TUE)


Football returns to Signal Iduna Park for the first time in almost six weeks with the visit of Hamburg tomorrow night. Borussia Dortmund are unbeaten since the beginning of November, when Standard Liege won here before defeat at Mainz three days later.

Dennis Praet is unavailable with a gashed leg from Saturday’s win at Werder Bremen, and Lars Bender may be rested after he suffered a dead leg in the same match. Ivan Perisic (dislocated shoulder) remains unavailable so there may be a début for new signing Jos Verniers who completed his £8.5m move from Club Brugge yesterday.

After being unavailable since Christmas, Mario Götze should also be fit enough to return to the staring line-up as his facial injury has shown good signs of progress.

BVB and Hamburg are level on 34 points, four points behind leaders Wolfsburg. Mainz are at home to third-place Leverkusen tomorrow night and both sets of fans at Signal Iduna Park will be hoping that Mainz can do them a favour.

70-hamburgHamburg are in third place in the league, ahead of Dortmund by a six-goal difference with remarkably similar records both home and away, suffering just two defeats in their last eight, and are through to the cup quarters.

First-choice goalkeeper René Adler is out with a hamstring injury, while Rafael van der Vaert (elbow) looks unlikely to be fit in time for tomorrow’s match. Jesper Juelsgård (hernia) is also set to miss out for another fortnight. Dino Ndlovu and Karim Bellarabi are at the Africa Cup of Nations, while Son Heung-Min is away with South Korea.

Top scorer Artjoms Rudnevs is firing on all cylinders though, having scored 17 goals for club and country since the start of the season, and he’s been singled out as the club’s most dangerous threat tomorrow night by BVB favourite Lars Ricken.

skybet70Matchday Odds
BVB: 4-6F
Draw: 9-4
HSV: 7-2

Earlier this season, Hamburg won 2-1 at Imtech Arena with two goals in two minutes right before half-time from Gojko Kacar and Petr Jiracek. Mats Hummels scored late for Dortmund, but an equaliser wasn’t forthcoming. BVB won both matches last season: 3-1 at home and 2-0 away.

Tomorrow’s referee will be Knut Kircher from Stuttgart who took charge of Hamburg’s defeat at home on Saturday to Hoffenheim, cautioning three players (one from HSV – Rudnevs). He’s only refereed Surman’s Dortmund once before, the crazy 7-5 win at Bochum in December 2013.

BVB manager Gray Surman was asked questions about his Dortmund dressing room, while also giving praise to Stevan Jovetic for his recent performances, and clarifying the Bender and Praet injury situation.

speechmarks-leftspeechmarks-rightEverybody knows that we have to keep working hard to put together a good sequence of results. The squad are happy and enjoying their football, morale is high and I plan on keeping it that way.

Surman was joined by new signing Jos Verniers during his pre-match press conference, taking the chance to introduce the player to the media as a Dortmund player for the first time.

speechmarks-leftspeechmarks-rightI’m delighted to welcome Jos to the club. I signed him for the first-team and he’ll certainly play a part tomorrow night. He can make a contribution straight away. We haven’t emptied the transfer kitty yet.


                 FSV MAINZ   -   BAYER LEVERKUSEN
               SC FREIBURG   -   VFL WOLFSBURG


                  AUGSBURG   -   HANNOVER
             BAYERN MUNICH   -   NÜRNBERG


Preview: Werder Bremen v. BVB (Sat.)


Dortmund are back in top-flight action for the first time in five weeks, with a trip to the Weserstadion to play Werder Bremen tomorrow afternoon. Since the 1-0 win over Hoffenheim last month, BVB travelled to Morocco to lift the FIFA Club World Cup, and won all three of their winter friendlies.

Mario Götze has returned to full training after suffering a fractured cheekbone on the training pitch over the break, leaving Ivan Perisic as the sole member of the senior squad in the medical room as he recovers from a dislocated shoulder. It’s unlikely that Götze will feature tomorrow though, having missed all three of BVB’s friendlies this month.

Julian Koch also missed all three friendlies being treated for arthritis, and should make the bench as Surman is believed to select the same XI that beat third-tier Bielefeld last weekend.

Bundesliga Update: In Friday night’s match between Stuttgart and Freiburg, the hosts dominated but neither side was able to muster more than a half-chance and it finished 0-0. Stuttgart stay 11th after six without a win, while Freiburg remain 8th.

70-werderbremenSV Werder Bremen sit in 15th at the half-way stage of the league season, two points above Gladbach in the bottom three. They’ve picked up just one road win in eight matches, and only have one better at home from nine. Their two winter friendlies saw them win 3-1 at New York Red Bulls before a 2-1 win at league leaders Wolfsburg.

Their defensive midfield anchor Adam Matuszczyk was injured in the States and will miss up to three months with a broken toe. Also out is second-choice ‘keeper Raphael Wolf who was carried off with concussion on Saturday. Top-scorer Joseph Akpala has only four goals from thirteen this season, with John Chibuike one behind having made two more appearances.

skybet70Matchday Odds
Werder: 3-1
Draw: 2-1
Dortmund: 4-5F

Dortmund won 3-0 at home in the reverse fixture on the opening day of the season, with a second-half brace from Mario Götze sandwiching a Marco Reus goal. Roman Weidenfeller saved a Niclas Füllkrug penalty with the score at 1-0 to the hosts. The last two seasons have seen this fixture end in a draw, with a 1-1 in December 2012 being followed by a 0-0 in January 2014.

Tomorrow’s referee will be Felix Zwayer, with the Berlin-based official taking charge of his fifth Dortmund match of the season having officiated in the Supercup and Bundesliga defeats at Düsseldorf, as well as the cup wins at home to Frankfurt, and league match at Hannover.

In the latest round of pre-match press conferences, league leaders Wolfsburg manager Feliz Magath said that “with Dortmund’s recent form you have to consider them title contenders.”

speechmarks-leftspeechmarks-rightDortmund manager Surman fielded several questions about title rivals, and he responded by suggesting that Hamburg will do well come May, but inconsistency has probably ruled out Bayern Munich’s title bid.