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Tuesday Fulham Stuff (26.01.10)

Started by White Noise, January 25, 2010, 10:02:58 PM

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White Noise

Keepy-uppy king in new world-record attempt

Dan Magness will be hoping to break a world record tomorrow when he attempts to juggle a football over a 30-mile distance across London.

The football freestyler, who broke the keepy-uppy world record in May, is supporting Alive & Kicking, a UK-based social enterprise that manufactures footballs in Kenya and Zambia and distributes them to underprivileged African children.

Magness will leave Fulham's Craven Cottage at 8am and is expected to arrive at Tottenham's White Hart Lane, via Stamford Bridge, Upton Park and the Emirates Stadium, at 6.30pm.

Alive & Kicking have provided the ball for Magness's attempt - the first stage of its 10,000 mile journey from London to Johannesburg in South Africa, the site of the 2010 World Cup final.

"We're very proud that a ball hand stitched by Alive & Kicking in Kenya will be the centrepiece of this amazing footballing spectacle,"  Will Prochaska, the Alive & Kicking director, said."When Dan arrives at White Hart Lane, it will feel like the countdown to the World Cup has properly begun."

For more information visit the Alive & Kicking website.

White Noise

4. Ghana vs Fulham – Roy Hodgson was reluctant to release defender John Paintsil for a pre-ANC training camp in December. He said: "I expect Paintsil to be playing for us on the 28th and he will unless FIFA intervene and insist he goes. It's a bit disrespectful of the African nations to write to the English clubs asking their players to be released on December 27. They know that we all have matches on the 28th. It's probably just a little bit of oversight on their part and I don't expect for one minute for Ghana to insist that John Paintsil meets up with them on 27th, the day before we play Chelsea, or Michael Essien leave for the same fixture."
Kwesi Nyantakyi of the Ghana Football Association responded: "I don't think we will allow this to happen. We are looking at the national interest here and I don't think that is negotiable anyway. If Fulham want to test the law then we are ready to go to Fifa because the Nations Cup is equally important."
In the end, Paintsil got injured, causing him to miss the tournament and rendering all the posturing irrelevant. Club vs country rows: they're a part of the modern day football furniture.

White Noise

The Case for Sutton`s defence.

The Chessman has done well in amassing a defence created entirely from the product of the Aston Villa and Fulham academies. His objective was to beg steal and borrow ahead of the window to stop the rot as the Imps attempted to build from the back. Where he has really excelled himself however is that all bar Nathan Baker are now under contract, though he too will see out the season at the very least. Watts and Mr Anderson are on long term deals, as is Paul Green who was already here of course.

Certainly the Kovacs situation could have been handled better, though Janos had according to sources wanted first team football and permission to look elsewhere. Most however realise that Moses Swaibu offers the pace, presence and positional skills along with Dany Hone to give us cover. On Saturday`s observations the aerial Achilles heal was not a problem though Bradford were not the tallest and most physical we will face this season. Hanson's injury was in effect a great result.

That aside, we are fast proving that defence is the best form of attack. A style that invites teams on was initially greeted with concern, yet now it has given rise to a cohesive, entertaining but above all winning formula. Thommo on Saturday even likened it to total football. There are similarities between ourselves and a traditional Ajax philosophy born in the seventies and still going strong, that proves Premiership style football can perhaps play its way out of the League Two bear pit. Ajax are also a traditionally young side who survive and prosper despite being the poor relations of Dutch football by being a selling club.

The Imps will have to do the same but you would have to go further back into history to grasp our General's newfound philosophy that blends common sense with Greek mythology. It is one that has thrown up heroes that will defend the centre to the last whilst still wishing to dominate the flanks. All generals know that battles are one before a sword is unsheathed or a ball is kicked for that matter. With Herculean Herd, Kerr and Saunders acting as the first line of what is best described as a modern day version of a two line Greek phalanx; the Imps are a very tough nut to crack at the moment. Certainly we are likely to concede one given we invite sides on, but that enables us to counter attack into space with two superb examples in eight crucial minutes winning us another game on Saturday.

Smash and grab it may be but consistently lucky is not a tag people use to describe winners is it? Further familiarity will make us stronger still despite those three 2-1 wins on the bounce. The strategy appears to be more than working even if we do need to keep our feet on the ground. Refreshing that our youthful back line are all agreed that more hard work is needed on the training ground, with the best believed yet to come.

The lack of clear cut chances and a lowly shot count on Bradford`s part, just 7, shows our zonal swarm tactics stop teams in their tracks and ensured we enjoyed most of the possession on Saturday despite appearing to be on the back foot. Shane Clark certainly came on to good effect too with an impressive performance, but for all Bradford`s bluster the 7 all put in another resilient and organised shift. Some hairy moments you would argue but then the lads are aware that we have 10 games coming our way between Wednesday and the end of February, the shortest month of the year.

White Noise

Andranik Teymourian Ready To Leave Fulham
The Iranian midfielder is frustrated with his lack of opportunities at Craven Cottage...

By Rupert Fryer

Jan 25, 2010 7:55:00 PM

Iranian international Andranik Teymourian has confessed he is ready to leave English Premier League club Fulham.

The 26-year-old is quoted by as saying, "I want to leave Fulham since I am not satisfied with my situation here. I asked my agent to change my team. I am frustrated with not playing."

The midfielder went on to confirm that he wants to move sooner rather than later and hopes to wrap up his exit before the end of the month.

"I can join another team in the winter transfer window, he said. "Some English and European teams are interested in signing me but I cannot mention their names at the moment."

Teymourian arrived in England in 2006 when he left Iranian club Aboomoslem to join Bolton Wanderers. However, he was released by the club shortly after Sam Allardyce left for Newcastle and having signed for Fulham in the summer of 2008, has found himself out of favour with current manager Roy Hodgson.

"Hodgson doesn't trust me," he said. "He doesn't play me, although I am well-prepared. I talked to him to give me a chance but it didn't work."


Quote from: White Noise on January 25, 2010, 10:02:58 PM
Away Opportunity

"Against Blackburn I thought we dominated the game and unfortunately came out losers. At Stoke we didn't perform well in the first-half but turned it on in the second-half, the dark side was a good performance but again we came away with nothing. So we have to start turning these good performances into wins.

;D Please tell me he actually said the dark side...  ;D


Quote from: fulhamaustin on January 26, 2010, 08:58:47 AM
Quote from: White Noise on January 25, 2010, 10:02:58 PM
Away Opportunity

"Against Blackburn I thought we dominated the game and unfortunately came out losers. At Stoke we didn't perform well in the first-half but turned it on in the second-half, the dark side was a good performance but again we came away with nothing. So we have to start turning these good performances into wins.

;D Please tell me he actually said the dark side...  ;D

try typing c h e l s e a (without gaps) and see what you get  ;D

White Noise,19528,11681_5886134,00.html

United make Smalling move

Red Devils edge ahead in the race to land Cottagers starlet

Last updated: 26th January 2010   

Sky Sports News understands Fulham have accepted a bid from Manchester United for Chris Smalling.

The 20-year-old defender has become the subject of intense speculation during the January transfer window, with a number of clubs tracking his progress.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, a man renowned for nurturing young talent, had openly expressed his admiration for the talented centre-half.

The Gunners are, however, yet to show their hand, with Wenger favouring a cagey approach in his winter transfer business.

That appears to have opened the door to reigning Premier League champions United, with Sir Alex Ferguson keen to snap up Smalling as a potential star of the future.

The England Under 21 international has made rapid progress since joining Fulham from Maidstone in 2008, and made his first Premier League start against Chelsea on 28th December 2009.

The Cottagers had been keen to fend off interest in the youngster amid mounting speculation, and have not commented on United's reported offer, but they appear to have relented in their efforts to keep Smalling in the capital.

White Noise

Fulham - Stoor`s A Wanted Man!
I stumbled across an interesting poll over on Vital Derby!

They are asking their punters which, out of a list of four players, they`d most like the club to keep during this January transfer window.

Leading the way is our somewhat forgotten right-back, Fredrik Stoor, with 43% of the votes, holding off the other trio of Jake Livermore (who we believe has now headed off to Peterborough United, Paul Dickov and DJ Campbell.

It would therefore appear that somebody appreciates the talents of the Swedish full back!

White Noise

FA Cup win will make us stronger, says Roy Hodgson


Fulham manager Roy Hodgson hopes his players will start showing more mettle away from home after coming through a testing trip to Accrington Stanley at the weekend.

The Cottagers are currently ninth in the Barclays Premier League but go into tonight's game at Tottenham with only one win from 11 league fixtures on the road this season.

That record meant Hodgson's side were taking nothing for granted in Saturday's fourth-round FA Cup tie, where they were overwhelming favourites to triumph over League Two outfit Stanley.

Injuries to key players, an uneven playing surface and a spirited performance from the hosts all made life uncomfortable for Fulham, but Hodgson was delighted to see his team grind out a 3-1 win in testing conditions.

"Every experience that doesn't damage you makes you stronger and luckily this was an experience that hasn't damaged us too much because we go away with a victory," Hodgson said.

"We came into the game as favourites, you accept that.

"But you know also that despite the fact that you're favourites, it's going to be a tough game because you know the home team know their pitch and their ground very well, they know how to play and also they are a very energetic, enthusiastic, hard-working team.

"So on paper people think Fulham should win that one, but you know as a Fulham manager that it's easier said than done."

Hodgson is also feeling more positive about his attacking options after enduring a terrible run of luck with injuries over recent weeks.

Leading scorer Bobby Zamora broke his collarbone against Stoke earlier this month and Clint Dempsey sustained knee ligament damage at Blackburn in the following fixture.

Meanwhile, Andy Johnson made his first start for almost three months in the FA Cup third round against Swindon, only to be forced out of Saturday's fourth-round tie with a knee problem.

Hodgson's forward line has been decimated, but the trip to the Crown Ground showed he still has alternatives to call upon, with Erik Nevland scoring the opener and the likes of Bjorn Helge Riise and David Elm playing their part.

Fit-again striker Diomansy Kamara and winger Simon Davies were also on the team-sheet as unused substitutes, and with Zamora nearing a return to fitness ahead of tomorrow's match, the manager believes things are looking up again.

"We're missing several players from the team that finished seventh last season," Hodgson said.

"(But) there are a lot of first-team players that we can recover (for tonight's match) so I'm pleased we got through the game (against Accrington).

"I'm pleased that people like Bjorn Helge Riise and David Elm got their chance.

"They're going to need this type of experience and practice because for a long time they've been sitting on the sidelines watching other people play."

White Noise

Report: United's £8 million Smalling bid accepted

By Ed. Tue, Jan 26, 2010

Manchester United has made a successful bid for Fulham's 20-year-old central defender Chris Smalling, reports Sky Sports News. The unconfirmed £8 million bid comes as United head off interest in the player from Arsenal. It is a remarkable rise to the top for the player who joined Fulham in June 2008 from non-league Maidstone United.

Sir Alex Ferguson has moved for the Greenwhich-born defender following a reported bid by Arsenal this week. Smalling, who started Fulham's match against Chelsea this season, has made just nine appearances in the Premier League. But the player's accelerated development is such that Stuart Pearce called the defender into his England under-21 set-up. Smalling made his  début against Portugal in November.

Should Smalling sign for Ferguson's side, the pacy left-sided central defender will offer cover in an area of the pitch that United has struggled to field fit players this season. Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand, Wes Brown, John O'Shea and Jonny Evans have all been injured at various times this campaign.

United is likely to have laden the £8 million bid with performance-based incentives in the current financial climate. Any cash up-front will come from the club's new revolving £75 million credit facility

White Noise

Why Are Premier League Club Websites So Awful?

by The Gaffer

on January 26, 2010 · 2 comments

When was the last time you visited the official web site of your favorite Premier League club? If you're honest, the answer is pretty seldom. There's a reason for that. Sixty percent of the sites are developed and maintained by one company, Perform.

Perform is more commonly known as Premium TV. The latter was acquired by Access Industries in 2007 and then merged with the Inform Group to create Perform. Sadly, though, whether it was as Premium TV or, nowadays, Perform, the web sites are terrible. They're cookie-cutter sites that almost all look identical, feature splash pages (which were big on the Internet about 10 years ago) and offer very reasons, if any, for die-hard supporters to visit the web site of their club they support.

A handful of clubs have realized how piss poor the Premium TV/Perform templates are and have broken out of that shell by working with different agencies to create better websites. The web sites for Arsenal, Everton, Fulham and Sunderland are designed by Ripple Effect. Juicy created Portsmouth FC's web site. Tottenham's web site was created by Bluhalo, while Manchester United's site was created and is managed by IMG Media.

The two major exceptions to the rule are the club websites for Manchester City and Liverpool. More about them later.

While the Perform websites are horrid for so many different reasons (it would require at least one other article to explain why), the sites for Arsenal, Everton, Fulham, Sunderland, Portsmouth, Spurs and Manchester United are much better. However, they don't break the mold. If anything, for the most part, they try to copy the Perform formula even down to the level of the splash page followed by a home page design that is almost identical from site to site. Remove the club colors and team crest and you'd have a hard job distinguishing one from another (other than a few exceptions such as Portsmouth and Chelsea).

Back to the topic of the official club websites for Liverpool and Manchester City, and why they're different. Liverpool's website,, is the only one in the Premier League that is designed, programmed and maintained by the football club itself. While it's not on the cutting edge of sites, it definitely has tons of content and the recently redesigned site is a significant improvement over the last version. Plus, it's the number one football website in the United Kingdom based on the amount of traffic the site receives.

The real Premier League title winner in terms of websites is Manchester City's website, which is leagues ahead of any of its competitors. Designed by Poke, a London agency, the site is incredible and I'm not even a City fan. There are no splash pages. Instead what you get is a modern design that features globs of video content including highlights of their recent matches (here's the one from Scunthorpe against Manchester City, which is not blocked for international viewers), an official Facebook page, an official Flickr photostream, a Twitter account (unlike cross-town rivals Manchester United who are not on Twitter), a page full of links to Manchester City fan sites, and much more — all contained within a clean and very appealing design.

The site even features a Match Day Centre section that includes minute-by-minute text commentary of games as well as links to listen to the radio commentary from a local Manchester station and the Twitter feed.

These may seem like small advances to some football supporters, but in the world of English football, Manchester City's web site is a pioneer and needs to be congratulated for the strategy it has undertaken.

The big difference between clubs such as Manchester City and Liverpool and the clubs in the Premier League that use the Perform templates is that the latter are lazy. They'd much rather sign a contract for a cookie-cutter website with the same technology as 60 percent of the other clubs in the league and take the easy way out to fulfill their public service of communicating to its supporters. That strategy is short-sighted and, in reality, is costing Premier League clubs because they're leaving money on the table that they could be putting into their club instead of the deals they concoct with Perform.

If the majority of Premier League clubs were smart, they would sack Perform and either create their own site or partner with an agency who knew what they were doing and had a long-term strategy. After all this is the biggest sports league in the world yet the majority of club web sites look like they were created in 1990. And it isn't just the Premier League clubs that are poisoned with Perform's designs. By my last count, 90 percent of the 72 clubs in the Football League club websites are run by Perform.

White Noise,19528,11681_5885724,00.html

Cottagers move for Geddo

Hodgson bids for Egyptian hot-shot

Last updated: 26th January 2010 understands Fulham have tabled a bid for Egypt international striker Mohamed Nagy.

The 25-year-old, nicknamed Geddo, has greatly impressed at the African Cup of Nations scoring three goals in the tournament.

His third came in Monday's controversial 3-1 quarter-final win over Cameroon, making him joint leading scorer in Angola.

The Cottagers are not the only interested party in Geddo with Sunderland reportedly making a move of the Al-Ittihad striker.

It remains to be seen how much Al-Ittihad may want for their in-form striker who is tied to the Egyptian club until the summer of 2012.

White Noise

Club Focus - Fulham - will return to attractive football provide fresh impetus?

By Matt Domm

Uninspiring, unattractive, uncomfortable - three words that sum up Fulham's FA Cup trip to the uneven surface of the Crown Ground. In fairness to Accrington Stanley, they played a perfect 60 minutes of football. Before Damien Duff's goal on 61 minutes the hosts were far better, and but for Darran Kemspon's red card just before half-time, might well have provided the fairytale this year's cup deserves.

The performances of the majority - especially Mark Schwarzer, Brede Hangeland, Chris Baird and Danny Murphy - can be forgotten, but just enough in White played acceptably for this game not to be a complete write-off. It might not have provided the much-needed injection of confidence ahead of tonight's trip to White Hart Lane, but Bjorn Helge Riise and David Elm - when he came off the bench - have at least proved there are still options within Roy Hodgson's limited squad. Erik Nevland and Zoltan Gera did well enough up front - they each scored a goal - to suggest they are currently the best options in that area, but with the injury to Clint Dempsey, and Gera being shifted up to partner Nevland, there is an opportunity for Riise to stake him claim for a regular spot. He has looked promising in his handful of Europa League appearances so far, and on Sunday - ignoring the level of opposition for a moment - he continued to impress. The cross he provided for his countryman, Nevland, along with his constant running, showed he has the ability to start games in the Premier League.

Even before the sending off, when Stanley were dominating, Riise - and to a certain extent, Duff - looked the most likely to make something happen for the away team, and Fulham fans will feel confident if he is called upon against Tottenham. Dempsey and Duff on the flanks are the goal-scoring type of wingers - they will cut inside, take on a man and go for goal the majority of the time. It is a role that they do admirably, but the Norwegian provides a more traditional wide-midfield role. He looks for quick one-twos with the central midfielders in order to get in behind the full-backs before attempting the cross. Such crossing ability is not usually on show from the regular wingers, as they are mostly on their wrong foot if behind the full-backs, so Riise could prove a good option in Hodgson's attempt to stop the away rot. Not that Dempsey and Duff were underperforming, but an intelligent crosser might provide Nevland with a few chances to display his finishing talent and make the most of his vast frame.

Rumours are abound that Bobby Zamora may return to action a full month ahead of schedule, as he has reportedly recovered from his collarbone injury. Zamora could make the bench tonight, which is unfortunate for Elm, who impressed in his 25-minute cameo against the League Two outfit. Although, again, the level of opposition was not on a par with the norm, what the Whites faithful saw of Elm was similar to what they became used to seeing from Zamora before he was clattered against Stoke. A giant of a man, he possesses a surprisingly good touch and provided a physical presence which was lacking throughout the first half. He won headers, he muscled defenders off the ball and drifted into the channels to receive it. He did balloon the one shot he had, but he had shown enough prior to that to also suggest he could fill Zamora's boots in the short-term.

Although a full-strength Fulham side struggling against fourth-tier opposition suggests yet more difficulty against Spurs, the fact that Harry Redknapp's side have a level pitch and do not press and bully as much as other home Premier League sides, means the Whites can finally think about playing their regular game once more. It is not quite back home to the Cottage, but north London is closer than the north of England - a place Fulham will hope they never have to return. Bolton on February 6, however, is much sooner than never. If Zamora does not fully recover in time for tonight's game, then expect the line-up to be very much the same as on Sunday.It will certainly not be comfortable, but a return to attractive football could provide the inspiration the Whites so desperately need.

White Noise

Back in for Okaka?

by Dan on January 26, 2010

This pesky little fella won't go away. From today's Indy:

Fulham are trying to revive their loan deal for the Roma striker Stefano Okaka. Fulham pulled out earlier this month when Hodgson thought that he did not need the cover for Bobby Zamora but Clint Dempsey's long-term injury has forced the club to reassess. They are expected to sign Okaka until the end of the season.

Gazetta dello Sport says that Tony Pulis is interested in taking Okaka to Stoke. Where would that leave James Beattie? The Italian paper also has Fulham reviving their interest in the Italian under-21 international.

Other reports have the initial deal not collapsing due to an injury to Okaka, but because Roma want £250,000 as a fee for the loan to go ahead.

White Noise

Stockdale: I have come for first team action

Tuesday, January 26, 2010, 07:0011 readers have commented on this story.

Click here to read their views.

ON-LOAN Fulham goalkeeper David Stockdale has admitted he has come to Plymouth Argyle to play first team football.
The 24-year-old has carved out a reputation as a promising shot-stopper with his Premier League club.

Stockdale has been the second choice 'keeper to Australia international Mark Schwarzer at Fulham this season.

Now, after signing for Argyle on an initial one-month loan last Friday, he hopes to oust popular club captain Romain Larrieu from the team.
But Stockdale is not taking that for granted.

He said: "The gaffer (head coach Paul Mariner) hasn't promised me anything. It's up to him who plays.

"Romain has been a very loyal servant to the club and I can't just come in and demand that I play.

"Hopefully, I will show him what I'm capable of in training and he rewards me with a place."

Larrieu, 33, is Argyle's only ever present in the Championship this season, and has started 67 successive games since replacing Graham Stack for a 2-1 win away to Watford in September 2008.

He will hope to continue that sequence when Argyle face Derby County in an important Championship clash at Home Park tonight (7.45pm).

Stockdale said: "I have seen Romain play. You can't really say he's getting old now because our 'keepers at Fulham are 39 and 37, so he's a youngster.

"It might be the gaffer is trying to bring in competition for Romain but will carry on playing him.

"I don't know. I don't pick the team. I just do what I'm told and try to perform when I play."

Stockdale played the first half of Fulham's behind-closed-doors practice game against Argyle at their Motspur Park training ground in south-west London last Tuesday.

Fulham ran out 6-0 winners, with Stockdale replaced by former Switzerland international Pascal Zuberbuhler for the second half.

But Argyle had been interested in signing Stockdale before that game, which was attended by assistant head coach John Carver.

They made their approach to Fulham manager Roy Hodgson at the start of last week.

Stockdale said: "Our gaffer told me that Plymouth were interested and, basically, it was up to me to decide.

"I was 100 per cent about it. I just want to play games.

"I also thought, no offence to Plymouth, that they are not in the best league position and I wanted to do something to try to help that as well.

"I'm not saying Romain hasn't done that, but the gaffer here (Mariner) wanted competition for places and that's what I'm going to try to bring."

Stockdale spoke to Carver after the practice game at Motspur Park, and readily agreed to the move to Argyle.

"I had a word with him (Carver), said Stockdale. "He asked me would I be interested in signing and I said 'yes, of course I would.' I'm not getting many games at Fulham.

"The goalkeeper coach (former Argyle manager Mike Kelly) wants me to play competitive games and he felt that this would be a good move for me."

Stockdale signed for Fulham from Darlington in the summer of 2008 and he had loan spells with Rotherham United and Leicester City last season.

A neck injury to Fulham's first choice 'keeper Mark Schwarzer led to Stockdale making his Premier League debut in a 2-1 home win against Everton in September.

He played in the next two matches – one in the Europa League and the other in the Carling Cup – before Schwarzer returned to the side.

But Stockdale had done enough to earn a new long-term contract with Fulham until the summer of 2013.

Now he wants to continue to make a name for himself by putting in some eye-catching performances for Argyle.

Stockdale said: "This is the next step for me. I need to show I can play in this league.

"I have shown I can play one game in the Premier League, but I need to play in this league consistently and play well."

Despite Argyle's lowly position of 23rd in the Championship, Stockdale has been impressed with the team spirit at Home Park.

"I think there is a good aura about the place," he said. "The players are all having a laugh.

"When it comes down to it, I don't think they are a team that comes into that relegation bracket.

"With the players they have got here, they should get out of it, touch wood."

Talks have already taken place about Stockdale's loan being extended beyond one month.

He said: "I would definitely be interested. Roy Hodgson told me if I was playing and I was enjoying it, the decision was up to me.

"But, obviously, if I'm not playing and Romain is doing well I have got no other choice but to look after myself.

"I might as well sit on the bench for Fulham.

"I'm going to push Romain as hard as I can. Hopefully, I will have a good season and help keep us up."

FC Silver Fox

From the BBC website : Lawro's prediction for tonights game at Tottenham.

Tottenham have gone a couple of games without winning and were poor against Liverpool.

Fulham had a good away win at Accrington at the weekend but their league form has not been great of late.

One thing is for sure, Tottenham will create a lot of chances - like they did against Leeds.

Although Fulham's away record is much improved under Roy Hodgson, I just don't see them scoring at White Hart Lane.

Verdict: 2-0
Finn and Corked Hat, you are forever part of the family.

White Noise,19528,11670_5886515,00.html

Wenger still tracking Smalling

Gunners boss has not given up on Cottagers defender

By Chris Burton   Last updated: 26th January 2010   

It just looks like Manchester United offered more money than us, but as long as the player has not signed anywhere it is not the end of it.

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is refusing to concede defeat in the race to sign Fulham starlet Chris Smalling.

The Cottagers are reported to have accepted a bid for the 20-year-old defender from reigning Premier League champions Manchester United.

It is also claimed that the Gunners saw an official approach for the England Under 21 international knocked back.

Wenger concedes that United have stolen the upper hand in the battle to secure Smalling's signature, but insists he will continue to pursue the youngster until a deal has been agreed.

"It just looks like Manchester United offered more money than us, but as long as the player has not signed anywhere it is not the end of it," said the Frenchman.

"Let's see what happens there.

"We will not come out on what we are doing exactly. It has come out [elsewhere], but that does not mean it is true. If we have anything more to tell you we will let you know."

Wenger has also played down speculation that he is chasing AC Milan striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, but admits Jack Wilshere appears destined to head out of the Emirates Stadium on loan before the winter transfer window slams shut.

"We have interest now from a few Premier League teams, it will be decided today (Tuesday) or tomorrow," Wenger said.

"Burnley is an opportunity. But, at the end of the day, Wilshere will have his word to say, because he needs to decide where he likes to go."

Arsenal saw their chances of landing a major trophy this season dented on Sunday when they crashed out of the FA Cup at the hands of Stoke, but Wenger has defended his decision to play an under-strength side at the Britannia Stadium and insists he has already forgotten about the 3-1 defeat.

He said: "I do what I feel is right and that's it.

"I have already forgotten Stoke, I did not know we even played at Stoke because I am focused on tomorrow. That is the most important thing."

White Noise

Marc Janko

Red Bull Salzburg to Birmingham  - The Insider says: 2/5

The 6ft 5ins striker is one of the most talked about players on the European circuit but no-one has taken the plunge yet and brought him out of the Austrian League.

The competitive standard there has left clubs wary of taking a risk on a player who had the best strike ratio in Europe last year.

Fans' favourite: Janko could be a big hit in the Premier League

He has scored an incredible 67 goals in 92 games and seven in 14 appearances for the Austria national team but the doubt remains about whether he could make a successful transition to the Premier League.

He is now 26 and wants to move if not this window then in the summer.

Salzburg are a wealthy club but realise the player has ambitions and will allow him to leave for the right deal - and not necessarily the highest one.

Birmingham are definitely interested but are juggling three or four targets at the moment.

Portsmouth, Celtic and Fulham have also watched him over the past 12 months.

Mohamed NagyAl-Ittihad to Fulham - The Insider says: 3/5

Star man: Nagy has been in fine form in Angola

Fulham are preparing a bid for Nagy who has been one of the few stars to emerge from the Africa Cup of Nations.

The 25-year-old, nicknamed Geddo, has scored three goals for Egypt so far in the tournament and has attracted interest from Sunderland, Real Sociedad, Osasuna and Celtic.

However, Fulham could have money to spend from the impending sale of Chris Smalling to Manchester United and are willing to put cash on the table or discuss an initial loan deal.

Nagy is contracted to Al-Ittihad until the summer of 2012 and he is highly-regarded by the national team coach Hassan Shehata, who took a lot of flak for including him in the squad ahead of their other well-known stars including Mido.

Geddo, which means grandfather, reflects a maturity in his play and he has grown in a role behind the front striker as a playmaking forward or attacking midfielder.

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