Bishop’s Cleeve 0-6 Cheltenham Town: Five things we learned at Kayte Lane

Cheltenham Town won for the first time this pre-season as a hat-trick from Mohamed Eisa helped them to a 6-0 victory over Bishop’s Cleeve.

All of the first teamers available to Gary Johnson got a run out at Kayte Lane as Carl Winchester, Harry Pell and trialist Mike Fondop-Talom also netted against the Mitres.

Another trialist also featured in red and white, here are five things we learned from the Robins’ friendly rout.

1- It’s hard not to get excited about Eisa

Undoubtedly the main talking point from the match was the performance of Mohamed Eisa.

The former Greenwich Borough striker scored three first half goals before going off at half time and it looks as though Gary Johnson may have unearthed a non-league gem.

The 22-year-old also scored against Oxford City earlier on in the week and has now netted four in two games for the Robins.

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Easy as you like: Eisa celebrates his first goal of the evening

Of course bigger tests against better opposition are yet to come but the Sudan-born speedster has so far shown real confidence and suave, always looking for the ball and wanting to go forward whilst driving at defenders.

Eisa ensured that it was a tough 45 minutes for Bishop’s Cleeve goalkeeper Paul Tassell, showing great pace and skill to beat a defender and then round the veteran stopper before tapping home after just three minutes.

Number two also involved beating a man before smashing underneath Tassell and the third was a deft touch into the bottom corner after a well timed run that saw him put clean through.

It’s early days, but Eisa has been the stand out man in pre-season so far.

 

2- Josh Thomas is handling the step up to first team football well

Former CTFC youth-team captain Josh Thomas made his second appearance since turning professional at Kayte Lane.

Playing out on the right hand side, the 18-year-old managed to deliver some good crosses in the first half, playing a part in Carl Winchester’s goal.

Thomas also offered more of a goal threat when played further forward after the interval, forcing a good save out of Cleeve’s second half keeper Timmy Griffiths, when his shot looked destined for the top corner.

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We will see more of Thomas in the coming pre-season fixtures and all supporters love to see a home grown player doing well.

Fellow recently turned pro’s Matt Bower and Adam Page also featured along with current under-18’s pair Jamie Kilkenny and George Lloyd.

Lloyd is certainly someone to keep an eye out for this coming season, the forward is a regular scorer for Antoine Thompson and Pete Haynes’ Academy side.

3- It was third time lucky for Fondop-Talom

Johnson made seven changes with the half time score at 4-0 and two of those coming on were trialists Elliott Kebbie and Mike Fondop-Talom.

With the Robins seemingly on the hunt for one more striker, likely to be a target man, the athletic looking Fondop-Talom certainly looked physical enough to fit the bill.

However it was a tough 45 minutes for the 6ft 3in former Margate front-man. Despite testing Cleeve’s second half keeper twice in the early stages, Fondop-Talom blazed a close range shot at an open goal over the crossbar.

After being put through one on one, he then sliced wide with the goal gaping but finally scored after winning the ball back in the opposition penalty box, prompting ironic cheers from the supporters behind the goal.

Fondop-Talom is clearly a unit and recently scored twice for Torquay United on trial but will definitely require another look if Johnson decides to keep him at the club a little while longer.

As for Elliott Kebbie, the well travelled former Athletico Madrid man did his job at right back and hardly put a foot wrong, he is likely to play for Cheltenham again and with good reason.

 

4- Cheltenham Town’s defence dominated the air

With Jordon Forster, Will Boyle and Jamie Grimes as the likely first choice centre backs- it’s going to take more than a big man to bully and bombard that Cheltenham back line.

The trio won every single header whilst out on the pitch and all demonstrated good leadership and communication skills, both impressive attributes for such a relatively young set of defenders.

With Dan O’Shaughnessy and Matt Bower added to the mix, the Robins have an imposing and well stocked central defence that will surely only get better under the guidance of Aaron Downes before the Sky Bet League Two season gets underway.

 

5- It was business as usual for wanted man Harry Pell

Reports have been emerging all week linking Harry Pell with a move away from Cheltenham Town.

The 25-year-old is subject to interest from clubs in League One and League Two but the charismatic midfielder was his usual self at Kayte Lane.

After coming on as a second half sub, Pell and central midfield partner Kyle Storer expectedly dictated the play.

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Pell was denied by Griffiths when one of his trademark driven free-kicks was parried away but did score the fifth goal with a simple rebound.

Chairman Paul Baker and Cheltenham Town have reaffirmed their intentions to keep Pell at Whaddon Road, despite the lucrative financial reward his departure would bring.

As for now, the former Hereford United and Bristol Rovers man appears to be content in Gloucestershire but you feel as though there could be tougher times ahead for the Robins in their quest to keep him from leaving the club.

Should Cheltenham Town travel abroad for a pre-season tour in the future?

With pre-season well underway most English football teams are embarking on short trips to local lower league clubs in order to prepare for their new league season.

Cheltenham Town have already travelled to Oxford City for their first warm up game and now face two very short trips to Bishops Cleeve and Evesham United.

Meanwhile National League side Wrexham are nearly 1,500 miles away in Portugal, and it’s fair to say that former Robins left-back James Jennings is enjoying their tour in the sun.

 
Most Premier League clubs go on cross-continental tours for pre-season. For example Arsenal are currently in Australia and will soon be in China for the International Champions Cup.

But the furthest Cheltenham will have to travel this month is 60 miles to Weston-Super-Mare, closely followed by 54 miles to Bath.

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Close pre-season fixtures are practical and help prepare teams adequately with very little stress, but what harm can be done by taking a trip abroad to experience different climates and environments, not to mention opposition.

It is very well known that Cheltenham Town have a Norwegian fan club, they have made an annual visit to Whaddon Road for the past 14 years and were present to see the last home game of 2016/17 against Hartlepool United, which Cheltenham won 1-0 to secure Football League survival.

There is no reason why Gary Johnson’s side couldn’t travel beyond Britain for pre-season in future years, and Norway could be the perfect destination as it would allow our loyal Scandinavian supporters the chance to see their team at ‘home’.

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It would also give other Cheltenham fans the opportunity to both holiday and watch their team, something that Oxford United supporters enjoyed in Austria last year.

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Former manager Mark Yates did take Cheltenham to South Wales to face Port Talbot in 2012, but we have otherwise stayed in the South West and Midlands regions for pre-season.

Perhaps a trip further afield to foreign shores could be on the cards for Cheltenham Town in the near future.

Losing Marlon Pack was inevitable but Cheltenham Town must do all they can to keep hold of Harry Pell

Cheltenham Town midfielder Harry Pell has been subject to plenty of interest during this transfer window.

Reports suggest that a League One club has bid to sign the 25-year-old in an attempt to try and prise him away from Whaddon Road.

But despite the fact that he would command a large fee, perhaps even up to six figures, the club must do all they can to try and keep hold of the 6ft 5in midfield enforcer.

The current situation is in some way similar to when the Robins faced a battle to keep hold of Marlon Pack in 2013, a battle that was perhaps unsurprisingly lost.

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Just under four years ago, Pack rejected a new contract offer and left Cheltenham to join Bristol City for around £100,000 after three years of good service to Cheltenham.

The move was right for Pack, he shone in League Two after impressing in the 2011/12 and 2012/13 campaigns where Mark Yates’ side reached the play-offs. The then 22-year-old deservedly stepped up a division and is now playing his trade in the Championship.

But this time the ball is in Cheltenham’s court. Pell recently put pen to paper on a new two and a half year contract and appears to be settled in Gloucestershire.

At a similar age and approaching what is largely regarded as a players ‘prime’, Pell is more than capable of following in Pack’s footsteps. But the well travelled box to box midfielder has more worth to a club than just as a player, and every effort should be made to keep him in the Cotswolds.

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Pell is one of the club’s main characters and one of the aces in Gary Johnson’s pack. He has played a key role ever since joining Cheltenham at the start of their National League title winning campaign, scoring 16 goals over the last two seasons.

The former Hereford United and AFC Wimbledon man is versatile, being able to operate in a number of formations either in the centre or out wide and is renowned for being one of the fittest players in the Cheltenham camp.

After losing last season’s top scorer Billy Waters already this summer, Cheltenham Town must keep hold of Pell, otherwise alarm bells will start ringing with the Sky Bet League Two season under one month away.

No player is irreplaceable and Pell would command a lucrative price tag but it would be very difficult to offset the influence both on the pitch and in the dressing room that the former Charlton Athletic product brings to CTFC.

Can Mohamed Eisa become Cheltenham Town’s new Kaid Mohamed?

Cheltenham Town recently confirmed the signing of former non-league hotshot Mohamed Eisa from Greenwich Borough on a one year contract.

The 22-year-old winger or striker caught Gary Johnson’s eye with over 30 goals in his first season at Greenwich and after stepping up a division to the Isthmian South, he netted another 27 in 2016/17.

Eisa is one of a few lower league players that have been given a chance to impress in the Football League this summer.

Cheltenham Town’s League Two rivals Stevenage have brought in two former products of Jamie Vardy’s V9 Academy in Danny Newton and Blair Turgott.

Newport County have also snapped up Lamar Reynolds from Northern Isthmian Division outfit Brentwood, who play at the same level as Eisa’s former southern based side Greenwich.

Comparisons can be drawn between Sudan-born Eisa and former Cheltenham Town winger Kaid Mohamed, who enjoyed a successful spell with the Robins between 2011 and 2013.

Mohamed made his name at non-league Bath City and after being released by AFC Wimbledon he went on to make 100 appearances at Whaddon Road, scoring 15 goals.

But Kaid Mohamed and Mohamed Eisa are not just similar in namesake.

Both are versatile and can play anywhere across the front of the pitch, operating as strikers and wingers.

Kaid was well renowned for his athletic ability, often exciting supporters with bursts of pace and power. His direct running was a nightmare for opposing defenders.

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The old and the new: New CTFC signing Nigel Atangana battles with former winger Kaid Mohamed

 

The now 32-year-old earned a move to League One Port Vale after helping the Robins finish in the League Two play-off places in both seasons with Mark Yates’ side.

Despite the fact Mohamed Eisa is yet to play in the Football League, judging by his highlights he could very well have the same effect as Kaid Mohamed.

Cheltenham manager Gary Johnson may have unearthed a gem in signing the former Dartford youngster and after also capturing Jerell Sellars from Aston Villa, a formation that encompasses wingers may also be used next season as a backup option for the 3-5-2 system that Johnson is expected to deploy.

Since the days of club record signing Jermaine McGlashan and Kaid Mohamed, out and out wingers have been missing and Cheltenham Town have struggled to reach the heights of the League Two play-offs and beyond.

Having natural wide players at the club will not automatically lead to success but it will certainly allow for a change of shape and system that can give Cheltenham Town a new dimension when attacking, perhaps even giving Johnson the option to use a 4-3-3 formation.

Hopefully Cheltenham fans can see the likes of Eisa impress in their upcoming pre-season friendlies, starting at Oxford City tomorrow night.

No Romelu, no problem! Why Everton fans should be feeling anything but blue about the potential departure of Lukaku

Everton enjoyed a successful first season under the management of Ronald Koeman in 2016/17, finishing seventh in the Premier League. A place in the Europa League was their reward but the Toffees were largely indebted to star striker Romelu Lukaku who scored 25 goals, only bettered by Tottenham’s Harry Kane who netted 29.

But with such a proven and prolific forward in their ranks, Everton are extremely likely to lose Lukaku in the transfer window. Reports have already suggested that he has reached an agreement with another club.

The Toffees are guaranteed to receive a huge fee for the 24 year-old if he eventually does eventually leave Merseyside but here’s why their transfer business so far shows that they are more than capable of coping without the big Belgian.

 

Davy will show his class in the Premier League

Manager Ronald Koeman’s first summer acquisition was a shrewd signing to say the least.

Davy Klaassen came through the ranks at Ajax and took the mantle as one of their hottest prospects prior to his move. The 24 year-old won Dutch footballer of the year in 2016 and skippered the Amsterdam outfit last season.

 

Also a regular for the Netherlands, Klaassen scored 49 goals and won three Eredivisie titles during his time in Holland and is a well rounded attacking midfielder who will undoubtedly cope with the step up to the Premier League.

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His signature surely indicates that Ross Barkley has been barking up the wrong tree when stalling with his contract negotiations, and his future could therefore lie elsewhere.

Koeman has picked a long term goalkeeper

It’s not just the attacking front where Everton are strengthening, but also at the back.

Jordan Pickford recently put pen to paper at Goodison Park, moving from relegated Sunderland for a fee of around £30 million- a British record for a goalkeeper.

Many have condemned the high price tag but fees are only going to rise in the present transfer market and there were plenty of other clubs lining up to sign Pickford, and with good reason.

The 23 year-old was second only to Tom Heaton in making the most top flight saves last season and has comfortably equalled other goalkeepers at higher placed clubs in terms of stats.

At a young age and on a long term contract, Everton have a safe pair of hands between the sticks for the first time since Tim Howard left the club.

The Toffees have been keen to get their business done early

Former Burnley defender Michael Keane became the fourth Everton addition already this summer.

With pre-season on the horizon, the Toffees have not come unstuck in signing players early as they look to compete amongst the highly competitive Premier League top six next year.

Another exciting English prospect- Keane joins Klaassen, Pickford, Onyekuru and Sandro Ramirez as Koeman’s quintet of summer signings so far.

Sandro, who joined from La Liga side Malaga, is expected to go some way in replacing Lukaku’s goals.

The 21 year-old helped Spain to the UEFA U21 Euro Final and scored 14 league goals in 2016/17, joining for a miniscule fee of just over £5 million. The former Barcelona youngster could be a bargain for Everton.

Goodison Park is the best place for young players

England U20’s were crowned World Champions in June, staking a claim to be called the nations next golden generation.

Four of the starting 11 in their 1-0 final victory over Venezuela play for Everton and the club are a rare and shining example when it comes to developing home grown players.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin scored the winner in the final and he has already broken into the Everton first team on sporadic occasions despite only being 20 years of age.

 

Ademola Lookman, Tom Davies, Mason Holgate, Brendan Galloway, Jonjoe Kenny and Kieran Dowell join Calvert-Lewin in a hoard of promising Evertonians who have all featured in England’s youth ranks.

Under Ronald Koeman, who has a knack of developing youth, they should all continue to thrive in 2017/18.

Everton are finally a financial force to be reckoned with

With Farhad Moshiri appointed as Everton’s new major shareholder, he has vowed to give them the funds to compete with other big spenders in the transfer window and so far that has proved to be the case.

The Toffees have already spent around £90 million this summer and this represents a trend in increased spending over the last few seasons.

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If Romelu Lukaku leaves, it will be for a fee of around that gargantuan amount, meaning that Everton have bulked up in all of the necessary areas using the Lukaku money wisely.

Then again, Lukaku may not leave. Either way Everton FC is in an excellent position and could very well improve on their seventh place finish next season.

Four Bristol City players that Cheltenham Town could sign on loan this summer

Cheltenham Town will be stepping up their transfer activity as the new Sky Bet League Two season gets underway in just over four weeks’ time.

Manager Gary Johnson has already signed four players so far this summer as Kevin Dawson, Jamie Grimes, Nigel Atangana and Jon Flatt joined the 13 Robins’ players already under contract at Whaddon Road.

In addition to the 17 player squad currently at his disposal, Johnson has confirmed that he is close to bringing three players in on loan.

 

The 61-year-old may raid former club Bristol City for temporary signings, as his son Lee manages the Championship side.

City goalkeepers Max O’Leary and Ivan Lucic both appeared for Cheltenham during pre-season last year. Johnson senior also borrowed Johnny Smith, Diego De Girolamo and Tin Plavotic for short spells during the 2016/17 campaign.

A link between the two clubs is likely to remain, so here are four Bristol City youngsters that Cheltenham Town could potentially target this term.

 

1- Paul Arnold Garita

A strong and athletic option, 22 year-old striker Arnold Garita would be a perfect loan signing for Cheltenham Town.

The powerful Cameroonian has already proved himself in League Two, scoring 16 goals to help fire Plymouth Argyle to automatic promotion last season.

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Garita is now back at Bristol City but is very likely to be loaned out again and with CTFC needing a target man, he certainly fits the bill.

Supporters have been crying out for a physical marksman like John Akinde or Uche Ikpeazu and the Robins urgently need a replacement for top scorer Billy Waters.

2- Shawn McCoulsky

At the other end of the striking spectrum, Shawn McCoulsky offers something completely different to Arnold Garita.

The significantly smaller 20-year old was prolific last year, netting 31 goals across many levels including with Bath City and Bristol City U23’s.

City have recently tied McCoulsky down with a new contract, and clearly see a great deal of potential in the former Dulwich Hamlet front-man.

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It is inevitable that Cheltenham will sign one, if not two more strikers this summer as Dan Holman and Danny Wright are currently the only forwards at the club.

Could Gary Johnson take a gamble on the exciting prospect and give him a shot in the EFL?

3- Zak Vyner

New signing Kevin Dawson is expected to operate as a wing back in a 3-5-2 system but Cheltenham are still without an orthodox right back.

Bristol City defender Zak Vyner is rated very highly by Lee Johnson and impressed out on loan at Accrington Stanley for parts of last season, also operating as a centre back.

When he returned to Ashton Gate, the 20 year-old continued to feature for the U23’s and went on to make a few first team appearances which has further increased his stock.

It would certainly be a coup for Cheltenham Town to bring Vyner back to League Two on loan and he would be the perfect replacement for Manny Onariase.

4- Lloyd Kelly

The Cheltenham Town defence is an area that still needs reinforcements.

With Jordan Cranston and Daniel O’Shaugnessy, there is no shortage of left footers at the back and signing another may seem unlikely.

But Lloyd Kelly has caught the eye at Bristol City, having captained their U23’s frequently he is in need of first team experience elsewhere.

The 18 year-old is as versatile as Vyner and can play at left back or centre back.

Lee Johnson will know that his youngsters are in safe hands with Gary, but whether Kelly’s first taste of the EFL will be at Cheltenham remains to be seen.

The grass will be greener for Cheltenham Town next season, in more than one way!

It’s time to dust off your banana suits, cowboy hats and ponchos as it’s fancy dress time again with another football league season drawing to a close. The last few weeks have been beyond nerve racking but with our league status now secured, for the first time this season Robins fans can relax and enjoy a game with no pressure on our players shoulders.

The last match of a league campaign can be absolutely pivotal for some but for the third consecutive year, the result on match-day 46 will have nothing riding on it for Cheltenham Town.

We’ve had a relegation conga at AFC Wimbledon, a promotion party at Macclesfield and now a survival celebration at Portsmouth. But that is in no way indicative of what has been riding on the other 45 matches during the course of the last three seasons.

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The 2016/17 campaign has been eventful to say the least. Hopes were high at the start of the season and many even tipped Cheltenham for back to back promotions, but despite an encouraging start we began to struggle and soon ended up in a relegation battle.

Nonetheless, the players responded. After a busy January transfer window a combination of the old and the new helped the club get over the line to safety, even when circumstances were not in our favour.

Gary Johnson’s absence due to heart surgery since early March did not distract the players from their duty and now along with the team’s fortune, the gaffer is recovering well.

But the supporters have also played an important part. Attendances have steadily improved and that includes an increasing number of supporters travelling to away games, the 12th man initiative last weekend was a fantastic idea and fully paid off in getting the fans through the gates to see us to safety.

Another great success was the crowd funding campaign, and as a result we will now have a brand spanking new scoreboard for next season, hopefully that won’t be the only thing to look forward to in 2017/18 as the club looks to push for a higher league finish on a more adequate playing surface.

There have been complaints about our pitch all season, but in the end it almost worked to our advantage in grinding out vital home wins over Carlisle United, Grimsby Town, Morecambe and Hartlepool.

With tenants Gloucester City moving to Evesham next year, the grass will certainly be greener for Cheltenham Town.

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So from a supporters perspective, who and what have been the stand out achievements and players in this dramatic campaign? Here are a few of my thoughts.

Game of the season- Crewe 1-4 Cheltenham

In terms of importance, many of the last few matches would take this accolade but in terms of quality, few would have expected our best performance to come in an FA Cup first round replay away from home.

In the middle of a busy schedule of League Two fixtures, Cheltenham Town faced a trip up the M6 on a chilly Tuesday evening after holding on to draw 1-1 with Crewe Alexandra in the FA Cup first round.

What followed was nothing short of spectacular, after an uninspiring opening few months of the season, the Robins blew Crewe away as goals from Harry Pell, Jack Barthram, Billy Waters and a belter from Dan Holman helped us romp through to the second round.

In truth Gary Johnson’s side could have scored 10, it was a fantastic night for the travelling 150 or so away supporters and a rare treat in a season of very few away triumphs.

Player of the season- Billy Waters

Choosing Billy is a no brainer really. The 22 year-old excelled in stepping up to the Football League, incredible considering he was a substitute for the majority of the National League title winning campaign.

Waters was a worthy winner of the majority of individual awards on the final home game of the season, including players’ player and fans’ player of the season. He netted 16 goals as club top scorer but it’s not just his exploits in front of goal that have earned him praise.

The former Crewe youth product seems to have a tireless work rate and his stamina and commitment was second to none in helping keep Cheltenham in the EFL. I think I can speak for every Robins fan when I say he deserves to be awarded a new contract extension!

Moment of the season- Cheltenham Town 2-1 Grimsby Town

For some reason, there seems to be a rivalry between Cheltenham Town and Grimsby Town. The 2006 play-off final victory in Cardiff for Cheltenham was at the Mariners expense and ever since there has been a grudge between the two sides.

It all flared up last season when Grimsby were one of the teams challenging Cheltenham for the National League title, the club from Cleethorpes eventually joined the Robins in promotion to the Football League after two hotly contested televised matches.

Cheltenham did the league double over Grimsby last year and the outcome was repeated this season. After consecutive 1-0 victories at Blundell Park, Gary Johnson’s team needed another Easter Monday victory over the Mariners in their penultimate home game of this season.

The Robins delivered and in particular Harry Pell stood out against his former club, scoring a long range screamer and then celebrating in front of the travelling Grimsby fans who had been giving him some stick on social media. It was a wonderful sight for Cheltenham fans who not only enjoyed an important three points but also had the bragging rights.

It was sweet for Pell too, some would call that Karma.

Signing of the season- Scott Brown

This was really hard to call as many of the January signings made a big difference to our plight. But in terms of match winning displays, it’s hard to argue against the fact that cult hero Scott Brown was pivotal in keeping us up.

After keeping a clean sheet against us for Wycombe in December, Brown re-joined Cheltenham Town on loan in January for the first time since leaving in the summer of 2014.

The 32 year-old stopper made crucial penalty saves against Leyton Orient and Morecambe, as well as keeping Cheltenham in matches on numerous occasions with some brilliant stops.

Brown is a fan favourite and will no doubt be one of the first players Gary Johnson will be looking to re-sign next season, his experience, ability and knowledge of the club would no doubt increase our chances of a successful campaign in 2017/18.
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With a busy summer of player recruitment ahead, it’s time to say goodbye to some of our champions. Stalwarts Dan Parslow, Asa Hall and Amari Morgan-Smith departed for York City in January and it’s unlikely that they will return. More are set to inevitably follow, and regardless of some performances this term, all deserve and will receive a warm ovation from the large contingent of travelling CTFC fans this weekend.

I fully expect Gary Johnson and his coaching staff to box clever in the transfer market, and hopefully we can surprise a few with some knock out blows next season.

On top of those coming in, the likes of Billy Waters, Kyle Storer, Danny Wright and Aaron Downes are absolute musts for offering new contracts. With Will Boyle, Harry Pell, Carl Winchester and Dan Holman already signed on for another year, the spine of our team is already starting to take shape.

The benefits of survival couldn’t be put more into perspective as Saturday’s trip to Portsmouth will highlight. As a result of finishing above that dreaded dotted line, the players and supporters can enjoy trips to stadiums like Fratton Park in Portsmouth rather than the likes of Nethermoor Park in Guiseley.

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We all love non-league football and it’s where the roots of our club lie but Cheltenham Town FC have established themselves as a Football League club since the 21st century, and after a couple of rollercoaster seasons, it’s great to be back to where we belong!

Signing Elliott Frear would give Cheltenham Town the fear factor

Cheltenham Town have been linked with a move for Forest Green Rovers winger Elliott Frear, if the deal goes through it could be the signing of the summer by manager Gary Johnson.

The pacey 25 year-old is exactly the sort of player that Cheltenham currently lack and the move would certainly excite Robins’ fans for more than one reason.

 

 

Frear was one of the few players not wearing red and white to shine in the National League last season. As both Gloucestershire sides tussled for the title, the former Exeter City man was a prominent nuisance for defenders and impressed in both meetings between Forest Green and Cheltenham Town.

Frear has netted six goals in each of his last three seasons in the National League during spells with Salisbury FC and Forest Green. Having spent the last two years with latter, he has become a fan favourite due to his pace and creativity out wide.

If he switched the New Lawn for Whaddon Road, Frear would become the second ex-Rovers player to do so this summer. Former Forest Green captain James Jennings joined the club in late May and his old teammate may be persuaded considering there is a prospect of playing in the Football League at stake.

With injuries piling up at Cheltenham Town, manager Johnson looks to be on the hunt for reinforcements out on the flanks. James Dayton is the only out and out wide man at the club and if the Robins are going to deploy a 442 system they are going to need another winger.

 

Frear most certainly fits the bill and weakening one of our rivals, albeit not in the same division, in the process would be another bonus with his signature. However Cheltenham must pay a fee for his services which could be a minor stumbling block.

But if the rumours are true, this could be a cracking piece of business executed by Cheltenham Town.

Is Serge on the verge of an Arsenal return?

Back in 2012, Serge Gnabry was fast becoming Arsene Wenger’s hottest prospect when he was promoted to the Arsenal first team at the tender age of 17. The German winger made his debut against Coventry City in the League Cup and started to feature for the Gunners on a sporadic basis during the 2012/2013 and 2013/2014 seasons, he scored his first and only Arsenal goal to date against Swansea City in September 2013.

Unfortunately for the former Stuttgart youngster, his once promising career looked to be on the verge of collapse after suffering a knee injury in March 2014, shortly after making his most recent appearance for Arsenal at Bayern Munich in the Champions League. The 21 year-old has struggled to recover any sort of consistent form ever since, an unsuccessful loan spell at West Brom threatened the end of his Premier League career, until now.

Gnabry has excelled for Germany at the Olympic Games in Rio this summer, scoring six goals in just five matches. He is guaranteed a medal as Germany are set for a showdown with hosts Brazil in the final on Saturday. In a recent press conference, Arsene Wenger expressed his desire to keep hold of Gnabry, indicating that he could well be part of the Frenchman’s plans this season.

 

Despite his severe lack of first team action over the last couple of years, both Wenger and Germany under 21/ Olympic head coach Horst Hrubesch have shown faith and patience with Gnabry and that is clearly starting to pay off.

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The forgotten man has surged in Rio

 

As many potential stars come and go, particularly at clubs like Arsenal, players like Gnabry are rarely offered a second chance. Especially in a highly competitive squad full of exciting wingers such as Alexis Sanchez, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Theo Walcott, Joel Campbell and Alex Iwobi. But the stocky, quick and prolific Gnabry could be ready to have a go at breaking into the Arsenal squad once again and that is hardly a risk considering he shone at an even younger age.

Despite attracting loan interest from abroad at clubs such as Hertha Berlin, now appears to be the best time to get Gnabry back into the Arsenal ranks, do that and we may start to see the potential he threatened to unleash two years ago.

 

Robbing Bolton is not enough as Wenger confirms Arsenal are holding out for another defender

Arsene Wenger will not be short of absentees on Premier League opening day when his side take on Liverpool at the Emirates, it’s a situation that is becoming all too familiar for Arsenal fans.

Defensively, the Gunners may be without their first choice centre back pairing with Laurent Koscielny recovering from Euro 2016 after reaching the final with France and Per Mertesacker facing up to five months out with a knee injury.

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Injuries as per usual for Arsenal

 

That leaves Arsenal with Gabriel Paulista, Callum Chambers and Rob Holding as potential options to fill in at centre back. However Wenger has admitted that he will look to sign another defender before the transfer window shuts and the Frenchman is under pressure to find top quality.

Rob Holding recently completed a £2.5 million move to the Emirates Stadium after an impressive breakthrough campaign at Bolton Wanderers, where he won player of the season. The 20 year-old has already started to showcase his ability and talent on Arsenal’s pre season tour in the USA, where he even managed to score in the clubs most recent friendly victory against Chivas Guadalajara.

Alongside Callum Chambers, Holding has huge potential and many fans would like to see the young Englishmen forge a partnership together but that could be a risk so early in the season. The future of Arsenal and England’s defence may look bright, but Wenger confirmed he will delve into his transfer kitty in order to find an experienced and proven player to fill in the gap left by Mertesacker, with all the fingers pointing at another German in the shape of Shkodran Mustafi.

Formerly on the books at Everton, Mustafi has kicked on since leaving Goodison Park in 2012 and has since enjoyed a spell at Sampdoria before joining Valencia in 2014. At just 24 years-old the German international has gradually made a name for himself at the Mestalla.

Although without a consistent centre back partner he and Valencia have endured a difficult season. However Mustafi did impress for Germany at Euro 2016 after coming into the side following a Jerome Boateng injury, also managing to score in Die Mannschaft’s group opener against Ukraine.

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Is signing Mustafi a must for Arsenal?

 

The Gunners are also in the market for a new striker with Lyon front man Alexandre Lacazette heavily linked with a move to North London, but Wenger must act quickly if either will line up against Liverpool in just over a week’s time.

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Could Lacazette be the answer to Arsenal’s lack of strikers?

 

At least one gap has been filled in the Arsenal squad, new signing Granit Xhaka is already showing his class in pre-season and looks to be the answer to Arsenal’s lack of steel in holding midfield. But with opening day looming Wenger and the Arsenal board must act quickly to add more, or they will risk falling behind their title rivals.