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Celebrate The Good Times

You receive some wonderful, improbable, hoped-for good news. How do you celebrate?

I party like it’s 1999!

Oh wait, wrong decade to be saying that. Well, I would normally go out and have a nice meal with some drinks, maybe a little shopping. Or stay at home and blast music, buy some good food for the folks at home, invite my sister and her family and maybe get some ice cream too!

The other option is to take a trip, pamper myself and get a nice comfy room and chill out for a few days in relative luxury and treat myself to some goodies. Or perhaps invite a few close friends and take them out for some dinner and laughs and enjoy the evening with good company.

Prompt from The Daily Post at WordPress.com

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Petr Cech Signs For Arsenal

Petr Cech has completed his £10m transfer across London to Arsenal, drawing a line under a glittering 11-year career at Chelsea with an admission that “life doesn’t always turn out the way you think it will”. The Czech international, who claimed 13 major trophies including the Champions League while at Stamford Bridge, conceded he had slipped behind Thibaut Courtois in the pecking order last season and, with little prospect of that situation changing, decided it was time for a new start. The 33-year-old spoke to Roman Abramovich and stressed his desire to remain in the Premier League despite interest from Paris Saint-Germain, with the owner duly sanctioning the move to a direct rival, albeit reluctantly, out of respect for Cech’s eye-catching contribution while at Chelsea.

The goalkeeper has signed a four-year contract worth a basic £100,000 a week and may confront his former team-mates in the Community Shield at Wembley on 2 August. Cech, who ended with 228 clean sheets from his 494 games, featured only seven times in the Premier League last season, with the champions winning all of them and the keeper conceding only twice, but Courtois’ position as the long-term No1 remained clear. Chelsea have seen a £6m bid for the Stoke goalkeeper Asmir Begovic rejected but are expected to return with an improved offer for a player who is entering the final year of his contract at the Britannia Stadium. Stoke may attempt to take a player on loan from Stamford Bridge as part of the deal but that is unlikely to be Victor Moses. Arsenal, who have dropped their interest in Juventus’ Arturo Vidal, may now sanction David Ospina’s move to Fenerbahce. Wojciech Szczesny, who will compete with Cech for a first-team place next season, welcomed the older man to the club on his Instagram account and is intent on remaining at the Emirates Stadium.

Arsenal are no longer interested in Juventus superstar Arturo Vidal despite reports that a £21m deal had been struck. According to The Telegraph, boss Arsene Wenger believes he has enough quality in his attacking options and his funds could be spent more wisely. Vidal is seen as a similar box-to-box player as Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and is not really what the Gunners actually need. Reports in Chile last week claimed that Arsenal were close to landing Vidal in a big-money move but that seems over. And, Wenger has now turned his attention to Sporting Lisbon’s holding midfielder William Carvalho. According to the London Evening Standard, Portugal Under-21 star Carvalho is now top of his wanted list. The youngster’s fine form for club and country has seen interest mount in his services. Manchester United and Chelsea are also being linked with moves for the £20m-rated player but it is understood that Arsenal are most likely to land him.

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The Right To Choose

I don’t understand why some people think someone else having the same rights as they do is considered to be a tragedy / against their freedom of religion / against democracy and what not! The recent US Supreme Court ruling granting all rights for the LGBT community in getting married has seen some of the stupidest comments on social media.

Why should someone’s right to get married be put to a vote? It is finally justice that they are allowed to get married in each and every state in the US but why should some people have a problem with that? If you are against homosexuals getting married then don’t have a gay wedding! Also, don’t attend a gay wedding and don’t speak to them if you don’t want to. I was appalled to see a post by an Aussie friend on Facebook where she says that gay marriages shouldn’t happen and if they do shouldn’t be called “marriage”! What?

Also she and several others feel that it should have been put to the vote, like in Ireland! Why? Why should other people have a say in gay people getting married? How would you like it if you could get married only if it was put to a vote? Nonsense. I’m for everyone getting the choice of marriage and the right to have it done. Homosexual, heterosexual – we are all human beings! I’m straight but i’m fine with you not being so. We can be friends and i’ll support your right to have love and choose a partner of your choice be it a male or a female. It doesn’t affect me or anyone else.

I don’t get why other people don’t see that.

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RIP Chris Squire

Co-founder & bassist of legendary progressive rock band Yes, has died at the age of 67. In May 2015, Squire announced a hiatus from Yes after he was diagnosed with acute erythroid leukemia. The English musician, songwriter and singer, was also a backing vocalist for Yes and was the only member to appear on each of their 21 studio albums, released from 1969 to 2014.

He was widely regarded as the dominant bass guitarist among the early seventies British progressive rock bands, influencing peers and later generations of bassists with his incisive sound and elaborately contoured, melodic bass lines. His name was also associated with his trademark instrument, the Rickenbacker 4001 electric bass, which was introduced in England in 1964. He released one solo album, Fish Out of Water, in 1975. Squire was born in Kingsbury, a suburb of north west London, in England. His father was a cab driver, and his mother a housewife. Yes released their first record in 1969, and though the band have had many personnel changes over the years, they have continued to record and tour for over 40 years. Squire co-wrote much of the band’s music with guitarist Steve Howe (with singer Jon Anderson chipping in occasionally, as well). In addition, Squire and Howe would supply backing vocals in harmony with Anderson, which can be heard on a multitude of Yes songs.

Chris married his first wife Nikki who he met in 1970 and with whom he would form the band Esquire in 1983. Their family included Carmen Squire (Chris’s stepdaughter), Chandrika and Camille Squire. The couple divorced after fifteen years of marriage. hey have a son, Cameron. The two have since divorced. Squire married actress Melissa Morgan on 8 May 1993. She played Brittany Norman on The Young and The Restless and later returned to the daytime program as Agnes Sorensen. Scotland became Squire’s third wife. She gave birth to their first child, a daughter named Xilan, on 19 December 2008. They resided in the Chelsea neighbourhood of London, and later in Phoenix, Arizona.

Christopher “Chris” Russell Edward Squire (4 March 1948 – 28 June 2015)

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Insidious : Chapter 3

Well we needed to have a sequel didn’t we? Insidious : Chapter 3 is the prequel to the events of the first movie written and directed by Leigh Whannell in his directorial debut. The 2015 film stars Dermot Mulroney and Stefanie Scott, with Angus Sampson, Whannell, and Lin Shaye reprising their roles from the previous films.

Set a few years before the events of the first film, Elise Rainer, is living a reclusive life in her home still recovering from the death of her husband, who killed himself as he was suffering from depression. Teenager Quinn Brennan approaches her at her home asking for help in contacting the spirit of her recently deceased mother who she feels is trying to contact her from beyond her grave. Feeling pity on the young girl Elise, who has stopped doing readings, agrees to try to contact Lillith Brennan, however she stops after hearing a demonic presence who threatens to kill her. She warns Quinn to stop trying to reach out to her mother on her own and that if “you call out to one of the dead, all of them can hear you.”

Quinn skips school to go to an audition for a NYC based theatre academy and sees a strange figure waving to her from the side. Not having had much time to prepare (with her overbearing father Sean asking her to help raise her younger brother Alex) Quinn flubs her lines and does not do well. Later she sits with her best friend Maggie and discusses her unhappiness and as they leave, she sees the same dark figure waving to her from across the street. This distracts her and causes her to be hit by a car, which breaks her legs. Using a wheelchair she is now resting at home with her legs in a cast and her father gets more time off from work to be around for her and even gives her a bell to ring in case she needs him. At night she notices weird things like the bell going off on it’s own and hearing a knock from behind the wall (which is the room of next door neighbor Hector, she knocks back and he copies her. Quinn texts Hector, who reveals that he isn’t home. Fearing it was someone else next door, she goes to bed. The paranormal experiences keep escalating with Quinn seeing the figure in her room and the ceilings getting craked above her bed.

The demonic figure, resembling a corpse with a breathing mask, brings Quinn upstairs to the empty apartment above hers and she sees a faceless, limbless version of herself. Hearing banging from above Sean rushes up and finds Quinn on the floor and follows the bloody footprints to the broken window. A man is lying on the pavement below, as if he committed suicide by jumping out. As Quinn goes to observe the window, the demon grabs Quinn and tries to pull her over the ledge. Sean saves her, but her neck is injured in the process. Sean contacts a reluctant Elise who tries to enter the spiritual realm but is scared away by the Bride in Black who tries to strangle her. Knowing that the Bride has vowed to kill her, Elise leaves. Alex shows Sean a video of two bloggers, Specs & Tucker, who are ghost hunters. They attempt to catch the demon but find a semi-possessed Quinn attacking them. Meanwhile Elise returns, having found encouragement from a fellow medium & friend who tells her that she is stronger than she thinks she is, and offers to help again. This time she fights off the Bride in Black and goes on.

The Demon takes the form of Elise’s dead husband, Jack, in an attempt to trick her into killing herself so they can be together. After a tearful reunion, Elise realizes that it is actually the Demon, and easily defeats him, but it grabs hold of a faceless version of Quinn. This version of Quinn is revealed to be half of her soul, which the demon now controls. Elise returns to the others and tells them that only Quinn can get the rest of her soul back. However, Quinn is losing the battle, as her alternate version gains more of her features. Elise hears the voice of the wife of the Brenner’s neighbor who had died the other night, leading her to Quinn’s diary, which contains a letter that Lillith wanted her to read before she graduated. The power from this letter helps guide Lillith to save Quinn and banish the demon. Lillith leaves her with some parting words, and the family is finally reunited. Specs and Tucker decide to join Elise to deal with other supernatural disturbances. At the end of the film, Elise realizes something is wrong when her dog keeps barking at a dark closet and the the Lipstick-Faced Demon pops out next to her.

Not bad for a sequel, which usually tends to be the worst of all horror movie franchises. This one was decent and well acted and not cheesy either, despite the plot with the mother’s spirit being involved. I’d give it a 7.5 outta 10!

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Kerala’s Self-Service Beer & Liquor Store

It was like, nothing I ever imagined. I have never been to a supermarket styled, self-service place where they sell liquor & beer. This is amazing.

So, there has been a self service store (or 2 or 3) for premium beer & alcohol in Cochin (and perhaps other cities in Kerala) for a while now but I have never been to one. Mostly because I never buy drinks to keep at home and instead go to bars and now beer/wine parlours. But with the parlous jacking the prices up so much (the Rs.100 cans of 500ml beer I bought will be about 170 or 180 in most beer places or even 200+) and ofcourse you end up also buying snacks to accompany them and they cost a lot too. So I plan on going to these parlours a little less and keeping a small stock at home.

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So I went to the one in Gandhinagar this noon and went all starry eyed at the counters of stuff. I mostly looked at the vodka, white rum and beer sections as that is what I like to drink. Awesome selection though the beers could be a lot more. They didn’t have any Heineken but they did have Budweiser Magnum, Tuborg, Carlsberg, Miller and I think a couple of more. I ended up buying a can each of Bug Magnum & Carlsberg and a 500ml of Smirnoff Apple flavoured vodka. It’s party time!

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Watched A Short Docu-Drama With A Social Message

While having lunch I watched some program they had on one of the Hindi channels. The story, which is to create awareness & social commentary goes like this : A young man, late teens or perhaps 20-21 is gay and hides his sexuality from his family & friends. He is made fun of because he is shy. Lonely and desperate for love, he turns to the internet and, pretending to be a girl, he befriends a popular young man (on whom he has a crush) in the same city. The youngster uses his pretty sister’s photos to get his crush’s attention. The other guy has no idea that this is a male on the other end and shows himself to the boy via webcam. The boy refuses to activate his webcame, claiming that the cam is defective. Instead, after the man asks for a recorded video, he secretly video tapes his older sister – as she is dancing semi-clothed in the privacy of her bedroom.

The young man then uploads this video of his sister to the crush. The man is smitten by the good looks of the girl in the video. A couple of days later while the gay young man, his father & his sister are shopping at a mall, the man approaches the sister, recognizing her from the pics and the video and speaks to her. When she says she doesn’t recognize him, he thinks she is fooling him and gets angry. When the father intervenes, the man shows them the video of the sister, dancing semi-clothed and says “she sent this to me”.

The father is furious and slaps his daughter and drags her home and confines her to her room. Now this is a grown young woman, early 20s atleast. For the next few days the sister protests her innocence but her father is so angry that he refuses to speak to her and files a case with the cops to find out if someone else uploaded the video. The sister seeks solace with her brother but he is too ashamed to say anything.Finally the cybercell reveals that the IP address was traced to their house and the father is furious again and slaps his daughter a couple of times. The girl is devastated but then recalls that her brother is frequently on the web and catches him with her pics on his laptop. Beside herself with rage, she lashes out at him, hitting him and berating him for ruining her reputation and life and pushes him outside the house. As passerby watch, the boy confesses to his dad who also beats him a few times and then refuses to let him into the house.

The gay young man cries alone outside the house and sleeps out in the rain throughout the night. He then leaves the neighbourhood, writes an apology letter to his sister, asking for her forgiveness and then kills himself. At the end of the clip, the sister is seen addressing a crowd showing pics of her brother and begs people to be more understanding and accepting of people who are gay. She says that even though what her brother did was wrong, she must have been a bad older sister as he could never confide in her and if so she would have been there to support him. Instead he acted in a desperate manner seeking the love of a stranger hiding being a false identity. The narrated then goes on to tell a similar moral of the story.

What is however not mentioned is that the father could also have been a better father, allowing the son to open up about his sexuality. And also not beat up and lock up his daughter like she is a slave to him!

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One With The Universe

6:00AM: the best hour of the day, or too close to your 3:00AM bedtime?

Absolutely! Especially in this job when I get off work at times like 1:30 am or 3:30 am

I actually woke up earlier than 6am this morning but didn’t get out of bed till a little after 7 just because it was a bit cold as it had rained all night and hence I didn’t want to get out from under the covers and tried to go back to sleep. But the lower temperatures actually stimulated me enough that I was wide awake and I was just thinking about stuff for a while before I decided to get up and go brush my teeth and wash my face.

On the rare occassions that I do wake up at 6am and especially on not too hot days, I am aware of how crisp the morning feels like. I like riding in a bus or a car with the windows down at these times and feel the wind in my face and air. I feel somewhat euphoric. I remember one particular morning coming back home after an all nighter at work and drinking in the glorious morning on that long ride back home at about 6:15 am or so. And on my phone’s headphones a wonderful song came on and I was so in tune with the feeling of that song that for a brief moment I felt like I was one with the universe.

Then the moment was gone.

Prompt from The Daily Post at WordPress.com

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RIP Patrick Macnee

Actor Patrick Macnee, star of The Avengers TV series, has died in California at the age of 93. The Briton, best known for playing John Steed in the 1960s television spy series, died at home with his family at his bedside, his son Rupert said. Macnee also played roles in theatre, appearing on Broadway, and served in the Royal Navy during World War Two. He died peacefully at his home in California’s Rancho Mirage on Thursday, Rupert said.

Born in London, Macnee grew up in Berkshire and was educated at Summerfields Preparatory School and Eton. At the age of 11, he acted in Henry V opposite a young Sir Christopher Lee. He first appeared in the West End while still in his teens. He played a number of minor roles – including one in Laurence Olivier’s 1948 film version of Hamlet – before rising to fame in the original Avengers series between 1961 and 1969. The series developed a cult following around the world, the BBC’s Los Angeles reporter Peter Bowes said. Steed was known for his dress sense, always donning a bowler hat and carrying an umbrella, which was used as a secret weapon.

Macnee returned when that series was reprised as The New Avengers in the 1970s, appearing alongside Joanna Lumley’s Purdey and Gareth Hunt’s Mike Gambit. Later, he starred on Broadway in Anthony Shaffer’s Sleuth, touring internationally with that play and several other productions. He also appeared in the 1985 James Bond film A View to a Kill, playing an ally of Roger Moore’s Bond character, and made a cameo appearance as the head of a record company in This is Spinal Tap.

However I will mostly know him for his role in the original Battlestar Galactica as the charming & evil Count Iblis, who is an advanced alien being who has powers beyond human comprehension and is likened to the devil. He is revealed to be formerly of the “angelic beings” known as The Seraphs, who were a noncorporeal race of sentients. MacNee also narrated the opening of the show, in his distinct voice.

Daniel Patrick Macnee (6 February 1922 – 25 June 2015)

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Nostalgic Music

The previous post about mix tape and music made me think about the year 1987-88 (let me put that as the Indian school year which starts in June and ends in March) which is the first year I spent back in Cochin and India. Having lived life from birth till that time in Kuwait, I listened to many bands & singers that they showed on British & American music chart shows on Kuwaiti tv and also had many shared favourites with my friends in the building we all lived in. Michael Jackson, Culture Club, Wham, Bee Gees, Duran Duran, Abba & Boney M were there common favourites and that’s kinda what I listened to. I also started listening to Bon Jovi & Europe in 1986.

When I came back to Cochin and settled here with my family, my cousins and I and my sister would meet on weekends and summer holidays and listen to music most evenings (from 6pm till when it was time to sleep) together as a group while we also played board games and read books. Now the bands that my older cousins introduced me to have stuck with me as some real heavy favourites that I still love to this day. That includes Scorpions, The Beatles, CCR, Neil Young, Dire Straits, a-ha, Eric Clapton etc but heavily into Dire Straits and Scorpions. These two bands are ones that I share a special bond with 4 of my male cousins with as we listened to them a lot during the weekends and summer holidays.

I will always share these two bands with my cousins and it reminds me so much of our youth pre-teen & teen aged years. I think back to those days of playing Hind Trade with my cousins and listening to hours of Scorpions and Dire Straits and enjoying the days so much. It was a lot of fun.

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Mix Tape/ Playlist Masterpiece

You make a new friend. Make them a mix tape (or playlist, for the younger folks) that tells them who you are through song.

Off the top of my head these are the songs that I would choose. I will update this list as I see fit

  • Amongst The Waves – Pearl Jam
  • No Rain – Blind Melon
  • What A Good Boy – Barenaked Ladies
  • Love Song – Tesla
  • Here I Go – Whitesnake
  • Limelight – Rush
  • Always Somewhere – Scorpions
  • 32 Down On The Robert McKenzie – Paul Gross
  • Nothing Else Matters – Metallica
  • Life Goes On – Poison
  • Thief – Our Lady Peace
  • Rockstar – Nickleback
  • One Thing – Finger 11

Prompt from The Daily Post at WordPress.com

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Is This The End For Parma FC?

The city of Parma has a population of only 180,000 and a reputation throughout Italy as one of the most sophisticated cities in the country. Italy’s economic decline over the last decade has hit Parma particularly hard, due to the collapse of local dairy giant Parmalat 12 years ago. Before this, Italian newspaper polls regularly ranked the city as one of the finest in the country in which to live. talian club Parma have announced bankruptcy after the last remaining potential investor pulled out of buying the debt-stricken club only hours before a deadline to complete a deal with the club’s administrators. Parma were officially declared bankrupt earlier this year, although the Lega Serie A advanced a relegation parachute payment to enable them to reach the end of the season. Mike Piazza, a former baseball player, was Parma’s last hope of surviving, but he pulled out on Monday, just hours before the deadline to save the Italian club.

Parma finished bottom of Serie A last season with 19 points, having been docked seven for failing to pay wages. Even without that points’ deduction, they would have been relegated to Serie B. They were relegated to Serie B, but after Parma confirmed that no parties had come forward to buy the club and take on the debts, they will have to start out again from even lower down the footballing pyramid in Serie D. This season, for the second time in as many weeks, Parma announced that they would not play their scheduled game in Serie A. A week earlier, the team had cancelled their home match against Udinese because they didn’t have enough money to pay stewards to open the stadium to the public. This time, the team couldn’t cover travel expenses for the 100-mile trip west to Genoa. It was the first time in the modern history of the Italian league that a club had stopped playing mid-season because they were broke. In the week prior to the announcement, several cars belonging to the club had been repossessed; their medical staff ’s training equipment had been removed so it could be sold at auction; their laundry service had been cancelled.

The players and much of the staff hadn’t been paid since July. Twice in the last three months, the team had been sold for a figure in the single digits: one euro, to be precise. The price was low because the new owners assumed the roughly $100m debt that had been amassed by the man who had run the club for the last seven years. To top it all off, the current owner, Giampietro Manenti, who had bought the team three weeks earlier, had yet to prove to anyone that his bank account contained more than the single euro he had paid for the team, despite his daily assurances that the millions the players and staff were owed would be arriving “domani” (“tomorrow”).

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Sunday Food Pics

Ah, weekend fun. Last Thursday and Friday I was doing a late work shift – late as it starts at 11:30 am and ends at 8:30 am and so I reached home only by 9:45 am, due some cab delays. That was ok. I went to my room and watched tv till 1pm when I had lunch and then went to bed. So Saturday was mostly sleeping and watching some tv shows. Sunday I had decided to get together with my cousin Sujith and we arranged to meet just before noon.

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We hung out at Cafe Coffee Day for an hour and a half just talking and making jokes. We tried out the new Snowy Vanilla Frappe, which was not bad but not that great either. I will have a video of the review coming up on my Youtube channel soon. We had a late breakfast of sandwiches at the cafe as well.

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Late we went to have some beer. Sujith had informed me that they had a new one at Couchyn, the Budweiser Magnum lager which is new for me too. It was good, better than the normal Bud and we sipped our beers at Couchyn and hung out even more.

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For a late lunch we went to Chinese Garden. Our original plan was to check out BBQ Square for some “Turkish bbq” and we were really anticipating them but for some reason the closest outlet to us was closed till 5pm. That meant a wait of almost 2 hours and we couldn’t wait that long so we went for some Indo-Chinese instead. We had chicken noodles with pork roast & Hong Kong chicken. Good meal and post that we went out separate way by 4:45pm.

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My Toy Story

What was your favorite plaything as a child? Do you see any connection between your life now, and your favorite childhood toy?

I can’t remember one single thing that I enjoyed playing with as a child. I was big into collecting toy cars. I had a bunch of them and loved playing with them. I even had a mini KITT & a model of the Starsky & Hutch car as well. I loved those. I had a bunch of other stuff including, I vaguely remember, a fire engine. And some bikes. Harley Davidsons and the ChIps bikes as well.

Others, I can barely remember – I had a laser gun kinda thingy which made several noises. Infact I must have had numerous guns. A Lion head belt that also made many noise. I was fond of the He-Man universe figures I had at around age 10 or so. But mostly I loved board games because that meant hours of fun with my cousins. Monopoly was my favourite to play with my cousins (there was an Indian version of it called Hind Trade which was equally fun).

Prompt from The Daily Post at WordPress.com

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Arsenal Transfer Rumours : 2 In, 1 On Way Out?

Arsenal are days away from completing the signing of Petr Cech after he agreed terms with the Gunners, according to reports. The Chelsea goalie has been given permission to leave Stamford Bridge, and despite the club’s desire to sell him abroad, he’s desperate to join Arsenal. No fee has been sorted yet, but Sky Sports say Cech has agreed terms on a £100,000-a-week contract, and other claims say the move will be completed shortly. Cech is Arsenal’s top transfer target and Arsene Wenger will be delighted to get this move wrapped up quickly.

Arsenal are set to complete the signing of Morgan Schneiderlin, according to journalist Charlie Wyett. Southampton enforcer Schneiderlin is expected to change clubs this summer and Arsenal have been linked. Some reports say terms have already been sorted on a deal, while more recent claims Manchester United are looking to win the race for his services. But the Sun’s Charlie Wyett, who has broken a number of Arsenal exclusives, told talkSPORT that Schneiderlin is moving to the Gunners. ‘I think Morgan Schneiderlin will be joining Arsenal,’ he explained. ‘He would be a good signing along with Petr Cech.’ Schneiderlin is likely to cost about £24m to sign.

On the other side of things Arsenal forward Joel Campbell is nearing his exit from the club. The striker is a target for Benfica while Real Sociedad have bid £6m for the 22-year-old, according to the Sun. Campbell recently admitted he is flattered to have been linked with a move to Real, saying: “It’s something that is not in my hands. But in the club to which I belong. “It’s always an honour when such an important club such as Real Sociedad values you.”