Monthly Archives: June 2012

Player Departures, Olympics Selections and Transfer Speculation

memories

In lightning quick speed, the month of June has waltzed past the football world and there have certainly been some events and occurrences that kept the lovers of the beautiful game occupied.

From an Arsenal perspective, the month of June saw the Gooners witness their ambassadors represent their nations in the European Championships. Each Gunner had his own weight of expectation placed on his shoulders but some stepped up their game while others fell by the road side.

The month of June also coincided with the arrival of two new attacking pieces to Arsene Wenger’s jigsaw puzzle for the forthcoming season, Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud.

Podolski was watched closely by Arsenal fans in the Euros but he had an average tournament in my opinion. It was good to see him cap his 100th game for Germany with a goal against Nicklas Bendtner’s Denmark but I must commend Prinz Poldi for his disciplined performances for his nation.

He supported Philip Lahm admirably on the left hand flank and I’m looking forward to seeing him wear the Red and White. Has he selected a jersey number yet?

Giroud on the other hand, was a peripheral figure for Les Blues, as his manager, Laurent Blanc, preferred the 4-2-3-1 tactical setup, with Karim Benzema spearheading the attack. Giroud’s only telling competition in the tournament would have been in the France’s final group fixture against Sweden.

He came off the bench to glance his header wide with basically his first touch of the game. It was a moment that would have made the greatest striker that ever lived, Nicklas Bendtner, proud as he came off the bench for Arsenal for score a goal in 1.8 seconds, making him the fastest ever scoring substitute for the Gunners.

Fastest goal as a sub

However, today being the end of the month of June, also marks the day many teams wave their goodbyes to those players that have joined new employers elsewhere or were not given contract renewals.

At Arsenal, some youngsters have failed to impress the club enough to hand them new deals. George Brislen-Hall, Sean McDermott, Gavin Hoyte, Rhys Murphy, Jeffrey Monakana, James Campbell and Alban Bunjaku (Sold to Sevilla) have been axed.

To be honest, I axe the same folks on Football Manager 2012. :P

Two senior players, Manuel Almunia and Yossi Benayoun have also been shown the door by the club.

The former was further down the club’s pecking order for selection so he was freed to loosen up the club’s wage bill. He has even admitted that he’s too lazy to move out of London so he’ll probably be on the hunt for a new club in the capital. The latter honored his loan contract with the club and has gone back to his parent club, Chelsea, after filling Arsenal hearts with fond memories.

Not only for his long Isreali locks, beak of a nose or sultry dribbling skills, Yossi Benayoun made 25 appearances for Arsenal and had six goals to show for it.

He opened his Arsenal account in a 3-1 win over Shrewsbury Town in the Carling Cup (now Capitol One Cup). He followed it up two months later with a stunning volley in a dead-rubber Champions League group stage match against Olympiakos.  He headed home Arsenal’s winner from a corner kick at Villa Park and waited for four months before putting the nail on Wolves coffin with an emphatic finish in Arsenal’s 3-0.

In his final footballing month with the club, he scored two vital strikes against Norwich and West Brom, thereby contributing immensely to his teams cause in their bid to play Champions League football in the forthcoming season.

Benayoun confirmed his exit from Arsenal using the social networking platform, Twitter,

At the age of 32, Benayoun was certainly going to struggle for a place in the first team against the younger and more energetic folks, so he did what was best for him to wave his goodbyes to Arsenal. I don’t see him playing much at Chelsea either, but a transfer to a mid-table Premier League outfit or other decent teams in Europe won’t do him any harm.

His career path has seen him play for Hapoel Be’er Sheva, Maccabi Haifa, Racing de Santander, West Ham United, Liverpool, Chelsea and of course, Arsenal. I wish Benayoun all the best in his future endeavors and I believe that he’s going to be a Gunner at heart.

You can follow him on Twitter @YossiBenayoun15

Moving on, Arsenal like every other European juggernaut out there, is going to have its fair share of ambassadors representing their nations in the forthcoming Olympic Games.

Stuart Pearce omitted David Beckham from his Team Great Britain squad with the over age wild cards going to Hugh Giggs Hefner, Craig Bellamy and Micah Richards. However, Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsey and Kieran Gibbs have made the provisional list with Henri Lansbury being another contender for selection.

Elsewhere, Johan Djourou, Ryo Miyaichi and Park Chu-Young also got call ups from their respective nations.

Djourou featured sparingly for Arsenal last season so the Olympic Games with give him a chance to get some games under his belt before returning to the club. Miyaichi has a successful spell at Bolton but his future still remains in the balance, and I like many other Gooners out there can only hope that Arsenal secures another season-long loan spell for him.

Park Chu-Young on the other hand, can use the Olympic Games as an avenue to put himself in the market. He has clearly been a failed project at Arsenal and a move elsewhere will be in everyone’s best interest.

Finally, I’ll share some transfer tidbits buzzing the Arsenal world in the past days.

Starting with potential arrivals, Arsenal has been linked with Italian shot stopper, Emiliano Viviano. Wojciech Szczesny is the club’s chief custodian between the sticks but his deputies, Lukasz Fabianski and Vito Mannone, seek moves elsewhere, so an ideal replacement is needed in the goalkeeping department.

Youngster like Emiliano Martinez and James Shea are waiting patiently for their chances too but Viviano will give Szczesny a run for his money, as an air of complacency crept into his game in the tail end of last season.

Moving over to potential departures, rumors linking Robin van Persie to countless galaxies beyond haven’t stopped. This time, it’s the oil-rich Paris St. Germain that have emerged as the new suitors seeking his signature. I’ve read so many articles regarding this van Persie saga and it’s becoming tiring.

All I can say is that Arsenal has done well to sign two forwards that will add depth to the squad if he stays, or act as adequate cover if he decides to seek greener pastures elsewhere.

However, Olivier Giroud has stated that he’ll prefer to play alongside van Persie, instead of replacing him.

Andrey Arshavin is another player many Gooners want to see leave the club but his proposed move to Zenit could be in jeopardy after his infamous quotes after Russia’s exit caused an outrage in his nation. There are even calls for the diminutive Russian to be stripped off the captaincy and to be retired from international football.

Denilson is also on the spotlight, as the Sao Paulo hierarchy would like to secure another loan spell for the much-maligned Brazilian. They claim that we want Denny back after watching him in Brazil and were “impressed by his performances”.

In my bid to serve your daily Arsenal digest better, Gooner Daily is launching a new website, and it’s going to be launched before the start of the new season.

To my WordPress.com and email followers, rest assured, because I still have all your email address in a vault and I’ll automatically subscribe you to the new blog once it’s launched.

To my esteemed readers, Facebook ‘friends’ and Twitter followers, thanks for keeping the flame burning since November 2010.

A special shout-out goes to the members of my Arsenal BlackBerry group, Team Gooner Daily, Bobby, Moyo, Edosa, McDreamy, BhydemiBrainz, D’ Sun (Mallam Ramsey), Davicky, Dondeon, Swaggermundo, Arch1kid, Mayorbaze, Kiz Kid, K Stunner, Obitwyce (Oga Jonah), Ovonovic, Rot, Wilson, Yeezy, Dr. Vokenacci, Kaine, Steph, Rogo , iamOGB, Da Viruz and Musty.

Ashanas, you guys rock!

Sayonara.

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More on Giroud, Freddie Speaks and the Dark Horses in the Finals

Many will label Italy’s semifinal victory over Germany as an “upset”, but both there was a bit more to the Italian triumph.

Gianluigi Buffon was in inspired form, the defensive combo of Andrea Barzagli and Leandro Bonucci was impregnable, the full backs maintained their balance, Andrea Pirlo was his imperial self and Super Mario was on fire.

However, it started with some German attack as Pirlo spared Buffon’s blushes with a goalline clearance while more miscommunication between the legendary goalie and Barzagli would have resulted in an embarrassing own goal.

Italy drew first blood when Antonio Cassano made mince meat of a couple of German defenders before lofting a cross that was nodded home by Mario Balotelli. Toni Kroos and Sami Khedira stung Buffon’s hands with long-range piledrivers but the goalie was equal to the challenge.

Cassano fashioned another defense-splitting through ball for Riccardo Montolivo but the attacking midfielder dallied on the ball and a good chance went begging.

Montolivo made amends when he supplied a diagonal through ball to the Italian maverick, Balotelli, that beat the offside trap to blast in an emphatic finish that left Manuel Neuer rooted to the spot. The striker showed off his swagger with a celebration that saw him take off his shirt to give a Mr. Olympia-esque pose.

Why Always Him?

As expected, people went haywire on various social networking platforms but this tweet certainly caught the eye,

Germany’s manager, Joachim Loew, declared his attacking intent by bringing on Marco Reus and Miroslav Klose for Lukas Podolski and Mario Gomez. Podolski didn’t light up any fireworks and Gomez was a peripheral figure throughout the first half.

Reus was a thorn in Italy’s flesh making some mazy runs that put the Azzurri defense on the back foot. The new Borussia Dortmund acquisition swerved in a brilliant free kick over the wall but Buffon bellied his years to make a great save.

Germany pushed on for the goal that was going to bring them back in with a shout but they left gaping holes at the back. Claudio Marchisio and Antonio di Natale spurned chances to put the game beyond doubt.

The ref awarded the Germans a penalty late on and it was duly dispatched by Mesut Ozil even though Buffon guessed the right way. The ref’s final whistle was like music to Italian ears as the tournament’s Dark Horses progressed all the way to the final when nobody gave them a chance.

The stage will be set for a mouthwatering final and we all hope to see the new kings of Europe. Just like the UEFA Champions League, teams hardly defend their titles. People have criticized Spain for their boring passing game but it has gotten them to another final.

Besides, Vicente del Bosque will let everyone know when he gives a fledgling fuck.

Moving on to Arsenal news, ex-Gunner, Freddie Ljungberg, has returned to the spotlight, as he had so many nice things to say about the club he notched up 313 appearances for. Good old Freddie declared that Arsenal is a big part of his life and he still keeps in touch with his fellow old hags that donned the Red and White.

He played sweet tunes on Pat Rice, stating how he helped the defensive unit, with Ca$hley Cuntly Cole being one of the benefactors of Rice’s tutelage.

He also talked the current crop of players,

“I enjoy watching the current team – it’s a young side and will hopefully get better and better. With the addition of one or two good signings, things look bright.”

We all know about the newest signing, Olivier Giroud, and I shared some interesting facts about him. However, Giroud hasn’t left the back pages yet, as he remains a talked-about figure in several destinations all over the world.

Respected French football journalist, Philippe Auclair, has decided to give his take on Arsenal’s new signing.,

“He is around 6ft 3in tall, so you would be talking in principle about a typical target man who you can hook the ball to and hope he holds it up. But he is not just that, though. He has huge physical presence, but one of the main characteristics of his game is his intelligence and willingness to find his team-mates in the danger zone. He is very alert to the runs made by his wingers, and is known for his link-up play as much as his finishing.

“He is terrific with his back to goal, at receiving the ball sometimes from awkward angles and, crucially for Arsenal when you think of their style of play, he has the technique and intelligence to play first touch. He doesn’t offer just a physical presence, an aerial presence and a danger in front of goal, but he is also incredibly quick-thinking and quick-footed.”

Auclair went on to say that Giroud should be a 15 to 25 goal per season striker in the Premier League and he’s a very adaptable character, so he’s going to thrive well in the Premier League.

Like Lukas Podolski, many Gooners can’t wait to see Giroud strut his stuff for Arsenal and we’ll witness that for the best part of 10 months next season. If a respected football figurehead like Auclair believes that Giroud can produce 15 to 25 goals, the prospect of watching him play will be mouthwatering to say the least.

Elsewhere, Arseblog News reports that Giroud’s first club, Grenoble Foot 38, is going to receive around €600,000 as part of the transfer deal. Giroud spent seven seasons with the lower division outfit but the club is currently playing in the fifth tier of French football after going bankrupt in 2011.

They will definitely welcome the money with open arms.

That’s today’s bit folks.

Have a great weekend.

Sayonara.

You can follow Gooner Daily on Twitter  @goonerdaily. I’ll follow back

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Good News on Wilshere, Arsenal to play Nigeria and Transfer Speculation

The European Championships returned to our TV screens yesterday with the first semifinal tie between Spain and Portugal. The Spaniards continued their relentless passing game but Portugal matched them pound for pound.

Cristiano Ronaldo had a vast array of free kicks but he kept killing birds in the sky. Late on, the Iberians on white launched a counter attack that put Spain on the back foot but Ronaldo wasn’t in the same wavelength with everyone else. Extra time beckoned and Andres Iniesta had a glorious chance to kill the contest but Rui Patricio made a great stop.

120 minutes of football wasn’t enough to get a winner, so a penalty shoot-out stood between both teams and a place in the finals. Xabi Alonso, Joao Moutinho and Bruno Alves missed their chances but I must commend Sergio Ramos for pulling out a script from the Andrea Pirlo movie to delightfully chip the ball past Rui Patricio.

He already has a planet to his name after launching his penalty into orbit in the Champions League semifinals and there was no point creating a new one.

Cesc Fabregas repeated the same feat he achieved against Italy in the last Euros, scoring the penalty that won the game for his nation. Spain aim to be the first team to successfully defend their European Championship title but we’ll have to see what Germany or Italy has to say about that.

Still sticking with the Euros, Manchester United’s Rio Ferdinand expressed his disappointment on not seeing more of England’s youngsters in the competition. He declared that he is a “fan of the Ox” and he wanted to see more of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in the tournament but he turned out to be a spectator, as Ashley Young and James Milner kept disappointing.

He was also surprised that Phil Jones failed to make any appearance in the tourney. With Harry Redknapp touting Jack Wilshere for the “Pirlo” role, Ferdinand stated that England had its own Pirlo in the form of Michael Carrick but he wasn’t called up.

Speaking of Wilshere, the Metro has reported that the midfielder is making good progress in his rehabilitation and he’s now poised to step up his training regime, which includes more work on the ball, after spending countless times on the gym to strengthen his ankle.

Wilshere has been out for the best part of a year and his influence on the pitch has been badly missed. Arsenal has stated  that they expect Wilshere to return ahead of the new season, despite the player having a minor knee operation in May that cleared up a long-standing issue.

There are still options for the club to play the box-to-box role and caution must be thrown to the wind when handling Wilshere’s issue because it’s very delicate and we wouldn’t want to have any further setbacks again.

Moving on to transfer news, I’m sure you must have heard about the bullocks regarding Robin van Persie’s future and I don’t intend to bore you with that.

However, I can report that Real Sociedad has made an official bid for Carlos Vela, but it’s way below Arsenal’s asking price. I know that Arsenal has been regarded as a club that is “all about the profits” but we have to cut our losses and let Vela go to a club he’ll be happy plying his trade.

He had his chances at Arsenal, despite being infinitesimal, but he clearly failed to impress and I was surprised to see his exploits in Real Sociedad last season. He’s further down the pecking order for a place as a striker or a left winger, so Arsenal has to do the right thing to let our chipper-in-chief go.

The club has also increased its asking fee for the greatest striker that ever lived, Nicklas Bendtner. Bendtner has told us that he’s under the radar of many teams in the galaxy and I won’t give a rat’s ass if an intergalactic team from a nebula beyond come around for his services.

He’s available for just £8m. It’s not too much to ask for the world’s best striker, is it?

Finally, the Gunners are going to visit my nation, Nigeria, to take on the Super Eagles in a friendly on the 5th of August in the National Stadium, Abuja. The match is scheduled to kick off by 4 pm, local time.

Tickets for this game will appear in Arsenal.com from the 4th of July, and I’ll keep you posted on those details.

My nation is currently ranked 60th in the world (what a shame) but we’ve learned that the Gunners are going to field a strong side against us and our manager, Stephen Keshi, is going to follow suit to showcase Nigeria’s finest.

As a thoroughbred and proud Nigerian Gooner, I’m going to watch the game live and I also hope to take a picture or two with some Gunners.

I guess it’s high time I customize my “Forget Batman, we’ve got Robin” T-shirt.

Sperie Customs will help me do that. :D

Sayonara.

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10 Things You Need to Know About Olivier Giroud

Olivier Giroud_1

Giroud…..Something new for defenses to worry about

Every Arsenal fan looks forward to the summer for more reasons than one.

In recent times, things have been a bit gloomy in the Red half of North London with the lack of silverware being a cliché that has haunted Arsenal’s loyal fans. Every summer offers these set of individuals the opportunity to regain fresh optimism in the team they love and support.

Last season proved that, despite experiencing a tumultuous summer and a shaky winter, the Gunners enjoyed a resurgent autumn and the consistent run in spring made the season end in full bloom.

While the European Championships offered us some necessary distraction, transfer activity has been at an all-time high, with the media Vultures doing their bit to link Arsenal to every footballer in the Milky Way.

Wenger scouting his latest signing

Last season, it took an 8-2 mauling in the hands of Manchester United to open Arsene Wenger’s eyes in the worst possible manner and he removed the dust off Arsenal’s cheque book to make five acquisitions from all over Europe.

The media Vultures sang sweet tunes about Gary Cahill and Chris Samba, labelling them as Arsenal’s defensive messiahs but Arsene Wenger opted for ze Big F*ckin Giant, Per Mertesacker, that added his vast experience, height, composure and coordination to the heart of Arsenal’s defense. It is unfortunate to see his season cut short by that pitch fit enough to rear cattle called the Stadium of Light.

Down the years, Arsenal had been graced with great left backs in the form of Nigel Winterburn, Sylvinho, Giovanni van Bronckhorst, Ca$hley Cuntly Cole and Gael Clichy. Kieran Gibbs was next in line to get a shot at glory but countless niggling injuries hindered his progress, so Wenger opted for Andre Santos, a Samba boy renowned for so much attacking verve with equally adept defensive capabilities.

The departures of Cesc Fabregas and $amir Na$ri were very bitter pills to swallow but life had to go on after such monumental losses. Arsenal had lost legends like Patrick Vieira and Thierry Henry before them but the world as we knew it didn’t come to an end. Up stepped Mikel Arteta, the hair gel specialist that integrated himself into Arsenal as a vital cog in the midfield engine. Arsenal was greatly affected by his absence through injury.

Wenger also injected some experience into the squad in the form of Yossi Benayoun, that has been there and done that in the Premier League. He was at the fringes for a large chunk of his loan spell but he was immense in the club’s surge for Champions League football in the tail end of the campaign.

And there was Park Chu-Young. I reserve my comments.

Arsenal has added a new attacking piece to its jigsaw puzzle. He’s a forward that has been labelled as a typical Arsene Wenger signing; shrewd, well thought of and relatively unknown.

These are the feats that have made Wenger a household name in the transfer world.

Arsenal is delighted to announce the signing of Montpellier Herault SC’s Olivier Giroud on a long term contract.

Without further ado, here are 10 things you need to know about Arsenal’s new acquisition.

MASSIVE THREAT IN THE AIR

Giroud is an imposing figure that has a strong build with a height of 6′ 3″. Last season, he had one of the best records in European football, as he won the most aerial duels in Europe’s top five leagues last season, at a staggering percentage of 73%.

Giroud was a regular target for Montpellier’s goalkeeper through goal kicks and his ability to knock down the ball for his teammates played a key role in instigating many attacks. This will certainly be a move Arsenal will be keen to exploit, as locating a player in Red and White will be no different from what Giroud did with his previous teammates donning the Blue and Orange of Montpellier.

Giroud is also a massive presence in the box, defensively and of course, offensively. Last season, he lurked around the the near post defending a lot of corners for his team but it’s really awkward to know that out of the 21 league goals he scored for Montpellier, only one was scored with his head.

A CLASSIC TARGET MAN

Montpellier used the 4-5-1 tactical setup in most games last season and you don’t need a soothsayer to tell you the striker that spearheaded the attack, Olivier Giroud. The forward loves playing with his back to goal and his ball retention skills are excellent.

He is also a selfless player and it’s worth noting that Giroud was involved directly involved in 30 of Montpellier’s 68 goals scored in Ligue 1 last season. While shattering the opposition net on 21 occasions, he laid on nine assists to his teammates.

NOT INJURY PRONE

If you review Giroud’s career by the numbers, you’ll find out that Giroud has played consistently in his previous clubs without any serious injury lay-off.

In just two seasons with Montpellier, Giroud notched up an impressive 86 appearances while a player like Abou Diaby has over 112 appearances in six seasons with Arsenal. We should also bear in mind that Giroud played as the lone striker for most of these games on a consistent basis.

You’ll have to have the DNA of  Park Ji-Sung, Dirk Kuyt and an Ox (the animal, not Oxlade-Chamberlain) to keep up with such fitness levels.

HIS FAIR SHARE OF SILVERWARE

Our last trophy, sighs

If you take a vivid look at Arsenal celebrating the 2005 FA Cup final, reality would don on you to know that the only remaining existing member of that title-winning lot is Robin van Persie, as Manuel Almunia has been shown the exit door by Arsenal.

This clearly means that this present crop of Arsenal players haven’t gotten that bliss feeling of standing on a podium while celebrating a trophy, with the exception of Sebastien Squillaci, that won lots of trophies with Olympique Lyonnais as well as a Europa League trophy with Sevilla.

Giroud on the other hand, received his first stint of silverware with Montpellier Herault SC, as they shocked the football world by winning their maiden Ligue 1 title. Like Robin van Persie, Giroud also received a personal award, as he was given the Ligue 1 Golden Boot for blasting in 21 goals.

Like I stated earlier, he scored only one goal with his head but he smashed in 16 goals with his favorite left foot, five with his weaker right, two penalty kicks and five more piledrivers from outside the box.

Like Robin van Persie, it’s fair to say that he scores when he wants.

CLOSE FRIENDS WITH LAURENT KOSCIELNY

Giroud and Koscielny “setting P”

Giroud and Koscielny were teammates in Tours FC in the 2008/09 season. In that campaign, Giroud scored nine goals in 23 appearances (14 goals in 27 appearances overall) while Koscielny scored five goals in 34 league appearances (six goals in 39 appearances overall) earning a place in the Ligue 2 Team of the Season after a brilliant campaign.

Koscielny was snapped by FC Lorient the following season, but Giroud remained at Tours FC for one more season, scoring 24 goals and supplying seven assists in 42 appearances before moving to Montpellier.

It’s fabled that Giroud is in a bromance with Koscielny.

They are an inseparable pair that are always together in the dressing room, the bus, team photos, training, tennis and even dinner. After securing his move to Arsenal, Giroud stated that Arsenal is an amazing club with a great French coach and his bro, LoLo is playing there too.

I’ve heard people call Koscielny the Bosscielny or Kos the Boss, but LoLo?

Be the judge of that.

HIGHLY RATED BY ARSENE WENGER

What Arsene Wenger can see sitting on the dugout, we the fans can’t see it at the highest point of the stadium.

I can vividly recall how the fans wanted Jack Wilshere to have a second spell with Bolton, but Wenger justified his decision to keep Wilshere with his performances all season long. Wilshere is currently indispensable to Arsenal.

I’m certainly no AKB (Arsene Knows Best), but I can’t recall any manager in world football that has made shrewder yet classy signings than Arsene Wenger.

When Le Boss sees that raw talent in a player, he goes for him and uses his alchemy to transform the player from Lead to Gold. Like many shrewd signings before him, Arsene Wenger rates Giroud highly and he has aired his views on the forward to the media Vultures.

“I think he has exceptional potential and will integrate very well in our collective and our way of playing. He’s a real team player and knows how to combine with other players and I’m sure he will do well with us.” – Wenger, before signing Giroud.

After securing his signature, Wenger had this to say:

“He has proved that he is capable of performing at the top level with club and country, and we saw what a big influence he was in Montpellier’s championship-winning side last season. We all look forward to Olivier joining us and seeing him play in an Arsenal shirt.”

We can only hope for Giroud to be like LoLo rather than ChiAmaka, or Chamakh as he’s known in this part of the world.

TWITTER

Twitter is a very powerful social networking platform that has connected so many people with others with the same interests. Footballers also use this platform to interact with their fans giving them info on their activities and what have you.

Arsenal has its fair share of tweeps in the form of Jack Wilshere, Robin van Persie, Johan Djourou, Bacary Sagna, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Andre Santos and a host of others.

In his Montpellier days, Giroud’s Twitter handle was @GiroudMHSC but he has changed it to @GiroudOfficial.

Click on the link to follow Arsenal’s new boy and don’t forget to follow @goonerdaily while you’re at it :D

FITS INTO ARSENAL’S STYLE OF PLAY

Even Arsene Wenger has stated that Giroud will fit into Arsenal’s fluid and intricate style of football that involves the use of a steady passing play, great off the ball movement, the use of a playmaker, target man and a patient build-up while frustrating the opposition defense.

Giroud is a technically adept footballer that is good with the ball at his feet. He knows how to link his teammates up and he knows when and how to hold up the ball to bring his teammates into the game.

He’s very good with his head and unlike Chamakh, he’s good with his feet in front of goal. He also lays assists to his teammates making him a complete all round center forward.

However, Arsene Wenger has to find a way to integrate Giroud into the starting XI as Robin van Persie remains the focal point of attack. Despite being a lethal predator in the box, van Persie is betted suited in the Dennis Bergkamp role behind the striker, so pairing him up front with Giroud with Lukas Podolski and Theo Walcott in the flanks will reap dividends.

Giroud has already declared that he has all the weapons to do well at Arsenal:

“I’m a player who likes to play, who likes to participate in the game. That’s why I think the way Arsenal play will suit me. I like scoring goals and Arsenal create a lot of chances, so if I do well, then we will do well.

“Of course, there are big strikers here, it is a big club and there will be a lot of competition for places. But it’s up to me to win my place.”

GIVES ARSENAL OPTIONS IN ATTACK

The mere thought of seeing Giroud, Podolski and van Persie on one pitch excites me more than a kid receiving that present he always wanted from his parents. The prospect of watching these three Gunners interchange roles in attack as well as making those swift one-two passes have placed a butterfly or two in my tummy.

Should Robin van Persie decide to remain at Arsenal, the heavy burden of goalscoring will certainly be alleviated and the presence of Podolski and Giroud should draw defenders away from Van Persie, or it could be the other way around.

This certainly indicates that opposition defenses will have more things to worry about when playing Arsenal.

HE WORKED HIS WAY TO THE TOP

“Yes, I’m conscious of the path I took to get here.

“I’m proud of that and how I got here. I can see what happened to me until now and I hope to continue to progress and show that I can impose myself at the top level. It’s been great right now, I want to live it to the full, and I’ll savour this chance.”

These words are coming from a player that started his career at the depths of French Ligue 2 football and has progressed massively with each passing season. He began his career at Ligue 2 outfit, Grenoble Foot 38 and made a handful of appearances before going further down to FC Istres, a National outfit (Third Division).

His eye catching performances in FC Istres prompted Tours FC to get a signature. A move that saw him smash in 38 goals in 69 appearances in just two seasons.

Montpellier Herault SC came calling with an even bigger challenge but Giroud helped his team to a 14th place finish in his first season at the club scoring 14 goals in 43 appearances. Last season, Giroud contributed immensely to his team’s cause with 21 goals in Ligue 1 and four other goals in Cup competition.

He has began a new chapter in his life, and we as Arsenal fans wish him the very best.

Fernando Torres and Andy Carroll cost a whooping sum total of £85m, and they managed to amass 10 goals and 6 assists.

Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud cost Arsenal roughly £21m but their collective output to their teams last season resulted in 39 goals and 16 assists.

In Arsene We Trust.

Sayonara.

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England Licks its Wounds and Jack Wilshere the new ‘Pirlo’

Unless your line of sight is no different from Ashley Young or Ashley Cole when they took penalties for the Three Lions, you must have noticed that I’ve tweaked things a bit in the blog and I hope you like it. :D

With a gaping net looking at both players from 12 yards out, Young preferred to kiss the bar while Cole handed his effort on a platter to Gigi Buffon. This meant that the penalty curse of England continued and the nation will have to wait till the World Cup in 2014 for another shot at glory.

At least, they “prepared for immortality” but they had some life in them after all.

Arsenal’s Theo Walcott was tipped to do great things in the Euros after enjoying a successful club campaign by his standards.

Walcott’s English shenanigans and escapades can be starred as a Hollywood movie; from booking a flight to Germany in 2006 as a kid without making any appearance to watching the 2008 Euros at home with his fellow teammates after the nation’s failure to qualify. From missing out entirely on a World Cup berth in 2010 for having “no football brain” to making it to the 2012 Euros only to play second fiddle to James Milner throughout the tournament.

Walcott was given the same jersey number the legendary David Beckham donned in this tournament but I was bewildered and perplexed when he was brought on for Welbeck in the 89th minute or so against France. He made a great cameo appearance against Sweden, making the difference for his country with a Cristiano Ronaldo-esque goal and supplying a brilliant assist for the Danny Welbeck winner.

However, caution was thrown to the wind in the final group stage game against Ukraine, as it was believed that he had picked up a niggling hamstring injury.

Against Italy, Walcott and Andy Carroll were meant to offer a new lease of life to the English attack but Scotty Parker kept feeding the winger with awkward balls that he could never reach.

I have a hunch that the Spurs man wanted the Gunner to “suffer” a bit in the name of chasing a through ball. However, he was replaced by a peripheral Jordan Henderson that offered no dimension for England in his cameo appearance.

I’m no Woy Hodgson but I would have called Michael Carrick up after Frank Lampback of  Notre Dame picked up a thigh injury. That’s another argument for another day.

Walcott told some media Vultures that England’s exit from the tournament was cruel but he’s confident that his country has a very bright future ahead.

He also backed the Ashley duo that gaffed from 12 yards, labelling them as one of the most experienced lot in the dressing room and he believes that they’ll bounce back to become even stronger for England.

In a tournament where Lukas Podolski and Xabi Alonso joined the 100 mile-high club for their nations, players like Ashley Cole, Steven Gerrard and Philip Lahm came close to a century of appearances for their nation.

Walcott also stated that lessons have been learned from the quarterfinal exit and his nation is looking forward to their 2014 World Cup qualifiers.

As expected, England’s manager, Woy Hodgson, has taken some positives from his team’s Euro 2012 performance. For the first time in centuries, there were no high expectations on this English outfit and eyebrows were not raised when they bowed out in the quarterfinals.

They were expected to scale through from a group that had France, Sweden and co-hosts, Ukraine but getting pole position in that group was a success in my opinion.

It was unfortunate that the English side had to lock horns with a great nation like Italy, but if you want to win any tournament, you have to play the best teams and win as well.

I’m not going to delve too deep into tactical analysis but England was piss poor in some games in the tournament. Their performance in the quarterfinal against a team of the same ‘calibre’ like Italy was an aberration and I was glued to my television as I witnessed wave after wave of Italian attacking play all game long.

Some players like Steven Gerrard, Joe Hart, Danny Welbeck, Theo Walcott and the legendary ex-girlfriend shagger John Terry (annoyingly) made a very good account of themselves while the likes of Ashley Young and James Milner failed to stand up to the occasion despite given countless opportunities.

Managers get some right while they get some wrong but leaving Adam Johnson at home was a poor piece of judgment in my opinion. Like the Michael Carrick exclusion, that’s an argument for another day.

Hodgson’s optimism for this England side has been fueled by the emergence of some promising young players. The likes of Kyle Walker, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Jack Wilshere missed out through injuries but their potentials are very massive. Others like Danny Welbeck, Andy Carroll and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain got a shot of top flight elite international football and they’ve certainly be hungry for more in the near future.

Like my nation Nigeria, the English football team is going through a rebuilding phase and I believe that Woy still remains the best man for the job.

Speaking of men and jobs, Twitchy Ol’ ‘Arry Redknapp has been in the news recently and it had nothing to do with the England job, tax evasion or a new twitch on his face.

Sir Twitchy has highlighted the importance of producing “an Andrea Pirlo of our own” if England are to truly compete on the world stage, and has stated his belief that Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere is exactly the type of player who can fill such a role.

Redknapp said,

We must learn a lesson from this and do our utmost to produce an Andrea Pirlo of our own.

“Look at Pirlo against England – he had no pace, strength and he’s ancient. But what a fabulous display.

What we have got to do is bring through kids who as defenders will be happy to bring the ball out and forwards who want to receive the ball in tight areas surrounded by the opposition because they are comfortable in possession.

 “Strangely it was the absence of Jack Wilshere which was felt most keenly. He can be our Pirlo, he’s the type of player I’m talking about who doesn’t rely on strength or speed – he’s a genuine footballer.

This is the best thing I’ve heard Redknapp say in a very long while.

Taking it into perspective, Wilshere is a player that can emulate the legendary Andrea Pirlo because he possesses the vision to make that killer pass, he likes to dwell on the ball, dictate tempo and reads the game magnificently.

He showcased his eagle eye for a pass with that brilliant assist for Nicklas Bendtner against Ipswich in the Carling (now Capitol One) Cup semifinal second leg. Wilshere is indispensable to Arsenal and he was duly missed last season.

I can’t wait to see him strut his stuff this season alongside Mikel Arteta and Alex Song. Who knows if a Yann M’Vila will be added into the fray.

The semifinals wont take place today, so I’m in for a serious dose of Football Manager 2012. I might upload a couple of great strikes from van Persie and Marek Hamsik (Unlike Wenger, I bought him) in my YouTube page.

Despite being a proud Nigerian, I’ll always love my Arsenal as well as the nation that has won,

Two world wars and One World Cup, England all the way.

Sayonara.

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