Vermaelen injury sees Arsenal up ante in bid to sign Cahill

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Gary Cahill is firmly in Arsene Wenger’s sights following Arsenal’s 2-1 defeat to Benfica on Saturday.

As Arsenal continue to confirm punters assumptions that Wenger’s side will struggle this season, the Gunners were left to rue another poor pre-season performance which has cost them three players ahead of Saturday’s trip to Newcastle.

Thomas Vermaelen and Robin Van Persie continue to struggle with injuries and Keiron Gibbs looks likely to sit out Saturday’s game, but it’s the injury to Vermaelen that has further highlighted Wenger’s need for a central defender.

With the Arsenal boss not prepared to pay over the odds for Everton’s Phil Jagielka, who will celebrate his 29th birthday this month, Cahill is the man to fill Arsenal’s back four problems.

Steve Rowley, Arsenal’s head scout, was at the Reebok Stadium on Friday night to watch Bolton lose 1-0 to Levante and Arsenal are ready to cut their interest in Blackburn’s Chris Samba and Birmingham’s Scott Dann in order to snare Cahill.

Cahill is in the last year of his contract and Arsenal will be hoping for a cut-price deal on the England international, but the Bolton defender has a £17m release clause in his contract and Bolton will not let him go on the cheap.

With Tyrone Mears breaking his leg last week, Bolton boss Owen Coyle is as determined as ever to hold on to his star centre-back and there will be a lengthy negotiation process between the two clubs this week.

With just one win in five pre-season games, and with two central players in Wenger’s system still looking to leave the Emirates, Arsenal aren’t in good shape ahead of the new season.

Like Arsenal, Newcastle have had a disruptive pre-season with the likes of Joey Barton and Jose Enrique expressing their displeasure, but in front of their home fans Newcastle can upset the Gunners on Saturday and look a big price at 3/1 to win.

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Robbie Morris

Robbie studied sports journalism at the University of Gloucestershire, an establishment chosen for its proximity to Cheltenham racecourse, where he was a season ticket holder. Upon graduation, Robbie was a contributor to GolfPunk, a national magazine aimed at ridding golf of its traditionalist image, before joining the news.ladbrokes team.