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Arsenal owner Kroenke hails divisive star after acknowledging two difficulties

Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke praised an unlikely Gunners star after addressing the fans directly ahead of their Premier League clash with Chelsea.

The 74-year-old has become known for shunning the spotlight while owner of Arsenal. Often referred to in the press as ‘Silent Stan’, Kroenke has become a target for criticism with Arsenal’s on-field fortunes taking a nosedive in recent seasons.

Nevertheless, Arsenal will be hoping the return to full capacity crowds aids their chances of success against Chelsea on Sunday.

And speaking in the pre-match programme before the contest to directly address the club’s fans, Kroenke made a double admission.

Firstly, he admitted there remains “much work” to be done to get Arsenal back to where they believe they should be. Secondly, he acknowledged the Covid-19 pandemic has led to a “difficult” transfer market amid fervent criticism of their signings.

Ben White endured a torrid debut in their 2-0 defeat to Brentford, while the signings of Martin Odegaard and Aaron Ramsdale led to one talkSPORT pundit labelling Arsenal “Banter FC”.

“We know there is much work to get back to where we need to be but are confident about what can be achieved by this great club and our people,” wrote Kroenke (via the Express).

“We are building a squad, rich in young talent, much of it developed through our wonderful academy.

“It is clear looking across Europe that we are dealing with a difficult transfer market due to the impacts of the pandemic. But at the time of writing we are delighted to have signed Nuno Tavares, Sambi Lokonga and Ben White.

“We have also renewed the deals of Kieran Tierney and Emile Smith Rowe, both on a long-term basis. These are all young players that we are convinced can develop further and have a bright future with us.”

Granit Xhaka penned an extension to his Arsenal contract despite strong links over a move to Roma.

Xhaka has split opinion among the Emirates faithful. He infamously drew the scorn of Arsenal fans after reacting angrily to being substituted against Crystal Palace in 2019 before throwing his shirt to the ground.

Nevertheless, Kroenke insisted Xhaka’s new deal will help maintain the club’s “stability and balance”.

“They are supported by a strong core of more experienced players including Granit Xhaka who has signed a new contract,” added Kroenke. “This is an important step in terms of maintaining stability and balance in the squad.

“In the meantime, the transfer negotiating team has been working hard behind the scenes to improve the squad further.”

From Willian to White: Rating Mikel Arteta’s transfers as Arsenal boss

Arteta sack looms after “lazy” signings – Merson

Meanwhile, Paul Merson reckons Mikel Arteta could ultimately end up paying with his job after criticising the club’s decision to sign two players this summer.

Odegaard’s move back to Emirates Stadium was confirmed on Friday. The Norwegian, who impressed on loan last season, has cost the Gunners an initial £27m. Merson, though, reckons his capture will prove a costly mistake and could, ultimately, lead to his axing.

“Mikel Arteta is making a mistake signing Martin Odegaard – and his job could soon be on the line,” Merson wrote in his Daily Star column. “Arsenal have already lost to Brentford and now they have to play Chelsea and Manchester City.

“They could be bottom of the league and I don’t think the board are going to hang around with Arteta for long if he goes on a bad run.

“If Odegaard really wanted to be at Arsenal he would have signed at the end of his loan. But he didn’t want to join them. He wanted to go back to Real Madrid.

“He didn’t exactly pull up any trees on loan did he? Odegaard only scored two goals! I think it’s a mistake. I think it’s another lazy signing.”

Merson also raised his concerns over the acquisition of back-to-back relegated goalkeeper, Aaron Ramsdale.

READ MORE: Arsenal ‘close’ to granting reunion with first of four deals in motion

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