Arsenal Want £12m Starlet Pair and Owen Coyle Comes to His Senses

Wenger looks for new blood apparently and Bolton boss admits mistake.

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Fulham manager Roy Hodgson maintains there has been no contact from Arsenal over promising defender Chris Smalling – and would expect a phone call from Arsene Wenger if there was any interest.

The 20-year-old – plucked from non-League Maidstone by the Cottagers – has been linked with a £7m move to the Gunners, who last night went top of the Barclays Premier League with victory over Bolton.

However, Hodgson insists the rumours have no foundation.

“If Arsenal are interested, then I guess they better get in touch with us,” said the Fulham boss, who takes his side to Accrington Stanley in the FA Cup fourth round on Saturday.

“I have not spoken to Arsene at all. It has never been mentioned, and our chief executive has not spoken to their chief executive, so presumably that means they have got no interest, or the interest is being generated by someone else in the club or outside the club.”

Hodgson continued: “Arsene made it clear to me with Brede Hangeland, he said: ‘If I had been interested in signing Brede Hangeland, the first person I would have contacted would have been you’. (Sky Sports) understands Premier League trio Tottenham, Arsenal and Stoke are tracking Newcastle goalkeeper Fraser Forster.

Forster, who is on loan at Norwich from the Magpies, is regarded as one of the most promising English keepers in the country.

The 21-year-old has yet to make a first team appearance at St James’ Park, but he has enjoyed loan spells at Stockport, Bristol Rovers and Norwich.

Forster has been earning rave reviews at League One hopefuls Norwich this season and Premier League scouts have been monitoring his progress.

Spurs have held a long-term interest in Forster and he could help solve Harry Redknapp’sproblem of bringing in cover for Heurelho Gomes with Carlo Cudicini out for the rest of the season.

Arsenal chief Arsene Wenger is also thought to be an admirer of Forster and is weighing up a move for the giant shot-stopper. (Sky Sports)

Given the abundance of young talent at the Emirates I am always a little skeptical when we are linked with a youthful signing as it seems that such an addition would be pretty much doomed to wait his turn in a very long queue, clearly if the player in question is an exceptional talent, such as when we forked out the cash for Theo Walcott, then that is a different story.

Hence when Arsenal find themselves linked with the impressive but by no means astounding Fulham defender Chris Smalling I find it a little hard to believe and whilst Arsene Wenger may have had a good look at the 20 year old it seems unlikely the former Maidstone man will be on his way to the Gunners. Roy Hodgson has a good relationship with Arsene Wenger so I don’t see us trying to unsettle the lad and whilst we could do with another centre back I think it more likely we would look for an established player to back up the current William Gallas and Thomas Vermaelen partnership.

A move for a young keeper could be more likely however and by all accounts Fraser Forster has immense potential and like Tim Krul before him he has shown he could break through at St James’ Park in the near future and give Steve Harper some nightmares after the veteran geordie finally got his hands on the first team gloves from Shay Given.

Bolton manager Owen Coyle has retracted his comments that Arsenal’s William Gallas should have been sent off for his tackle on Mark Davies.
The incident in the build-up to Arsenal’s second goal in Wednesday’s 4-2 win at the Emirates left Davies with suspected ankle damage.
“Having looked at it I don’t think William Gallas purposely went to hurt Mark Davies,” admitted Coyle.
“I think it was badly timed, simple as that but we have to move on.”
Gunners boss Arsene Wenger apologised later for the challenge and it is understood Gallas is unlikely to face any retrospective action from the Football Association.

The French international appeared to catch Davies with a late tackle on the ankle in the 52nd minute.
However, referee Alan Wiley deemed the challenge was legitimate and allowed play to continue, allowing Arsenal midfielder Cesc Fabregas to level the scores at 2-2.

Davies, who was replaced by Gavin McCann in the 56th minute, later left the ground on crutches.
“It was closer to an assault than a tackle,” said Coyle straight after the game. “There was no doubt it was a free-kick. It was a terrible foul and normally would have resulted in a red card. (BBC Sport)

Its good to see Owen Coyle see sense and it takes guts to admit a mistake such as the one he made in the heat of the moment when he decided Gallas had deliberately set out to hurt Mark Davies, which he clearly didn’t. It would be good to see other managers admit similar mistakes but unfortunately this may be something of a one off.

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