Author Archives: enigma106

Szczesny vs. Ospina: A Competition that Would Benefit Arsenal

That was some shot tho

Those fervent followers of Arsenal would know that the team is currently in New York, as they are bracing themselves up for a friendly against the Red Bulls. Arseblog shared a couple of enlightening stuff about the American Gooners and it’s worth a read. While the manager and the players will be strutting their stuff on the field, there’s still some business to be done in the transfer market and according to the Guardian, the Arsenal hierarchy has reached an agreement with OGC Nice over the services of Colombian goalie, Davide Ospina.

With Lukasz Fabianski leaving on a Bosman to Swansea in search of first-team football, Arsenal are desperately light in goal and one wouldn’t expect Wojciech Szczesny to keep in every game this season. This World Cup showcased a good number of goalies that starred for their respective nations and Ospina wasn’t left out, as he performed admirably for Colombia before their quarterfinal elimination at the hands of the hosts, Brazil.

Colombia's goalkeeper David Ospina

Ospina in action in the game against Uruguay

At 25, Ospina would arrive with the mindset of making the No. 1 jersey his own, rather than an old hag that would have just been content with a place on the substitute bench. Judging from their performances in their respective leagues last season, stats king, WhoScored, published an infographic juxtaposing between Szczesny and Ospina.

image

While some may argue that Ospina probably edged over Szczesny due to the nature of the Ligue 1 compared to the Premier League, some would tend to forget that Szczesny had a better defensive rearguard in front of him, unlike Ospina, that didn’t have any household names protecting him from the attacking predators of the league. However, both keepers were highly influential for their clubs and Szczesny even notched up the Golden Glove award alongside Petr Cech.

There was a mind blowing stat I read about Ospina – OGC Nice lost all 9 games that Ospina didn’t start in Ligue 1 last season, conceding 2 goals per game compared to 0.86 with him. He was heavily impressive with his performances last season, and he took that form into the World Cup which was witnessed by many.

Having a quality goalie like Ospina would definitely put Szczesny on his toes and should the gods of injuries strike the Pole for reasons best known to some aliens in outer space, Ospina can serve as a dependable backup and I must confess that I’m looking forward to watch the stiff competition between both goalies.

In Szczesny, the Gunners have a goalie that can be the custodian between the sticks for many years to come but Ospina would offer a stiff challenge for the No. 1 spot. To wet your appetites a bit, here’s a YouTube compilation showing some excellent saves from Ospina.

Sayonara.

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Boreham Wood 0 Arsenal 2: The Gunners Kick Start their Preseason on a High

Puma’s away kits. not bad

Meadow Park (Friendly)

Arsenal 2 (Olsson 68′, Afobe (pen 86′)) – Boreham Wood 0

Player Ratings (via Fresh Arsenal)Match HighlightsWenger’s Press Conference

Arsenal began the game with a perfect blend of youth and experience as the players came out for the first time donning the new Puma kit with Aaron Ramsey leading the line.

As expected, Szczesny started in goal and he had a defensive setup featuring Nacho Monreal and Carl Jenkinson on the flanks while Semi Ajayi and Isaac Hayden played in the heart of the defense. In midfield, Ramsey and Francis Coquelin played as the double pivot while Gedion Zelalem played ahead of them. The attacking triumvirate was made up of Yaya Sanogo in the middle with Jon Toral and Chris Willock providing support.

Coquelin swept up play in midfield before teeing up Toral. The young Spaniard waltzed with the ball before finding Ramsey that knocked an intelligent cushioned pass for Jenkinson. The fullback launched a cross for Sanogo but the goalie latched onto the ball before the lanky French forward. Shortly afterwards, Monreal fed Ramsey that made a run to the edge of the area but he chose to pass the ball to Sanogo that lashed his tame shot wide. Sanogo continued to probe the opposition and he had a great chance to score but his effort was saved by Russell.

Ramsey linked up with Zelalem and was afforded a chance at goal. The Welsh maestro fancied his chances and blasted a ball tha went wide off the mark. Arsenal continued to ask questions of the Boreham Wood defense and the Gunners almost broke the deadlock when Toral carved the defense open with the lovely ball to Sanogo. The French forward chose to return the favor and Toral’s one-timed shot clipped the post and went wide.

Sanogo’s unfortunate day in front of goal continued when Le Coq dinked a ball that fell kindly to his path from a poor defensive header but he blasted the ball at Russell.

In the second half, Arsene Wenger for fresh sets of legs as Damian Martinez manned the sticks while Kieran Gibbs, Ignasi Miquel, Julio Pleguezuelo and Hector Bellerin formed the new look back line. Abou Diaby, yes, the real Abou Diaby played alongside Mathieu Flamini in the holding role with Tomas Rosicky playing as the creative hub. Kris Olsson, Chuba Akpom and Benik Afobe formed the attacking trio.

Arsenal’s first meaningful attack of the half came when Bellerin and Olsson exchanged passes superbly on the right but Olsson’s lobbed effort was headed over the goal. The moment Arsenal fans would have cherished almost arrived when the Gunners interchanged some passes before the ball fell to Diaby’s path in the edge of the box. The Frenchman used his left foot to fire his effort over the bar. I’m pretty sure that many would have loved to see Diaby on the score sheet.

Akpom was the next player to sting the goalie’s palm with a hot shot after a neat pass from Rosicky. Little Mozart was orchestrating things in the middle yet again when he mesmerized the opposition in the middle of the park before sending the ball to Bellerin bu the fullback’s cross was intercepted by Russell. It was no surprise when Rosicky, yet again, meandered his way through the ball before releasing a peach of a pass to Olsson that matched the buildup with a brilliant chipped finish.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yDlWUVSM-eg

After Gibbs had spurned the chance Akpom created for him, the Nig-English youngster darted forward and blasted a shot that was saved by Russell. Akpom was to have a hand in the match clincher when he executed a brilliant piece of skill to leave two Boreham Wood defenders for dead before crossing the ball and with Afobe impeded in the box, the ref pointed to the spot.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WBb2LvUvmk4

Afobe’s run up to the spot was awkward but he still placed the ball past Russell to put the game beyond doubt. At the end, it was a good run out for the lads and had the goalie, Russell, not been in top form, the scoreline wouldn’t have been this flattering.

The clash against New York Red Bulls comes up next.

Sayonara.

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Boreham Wood Preview: Team News, Injury Updates and Predicted Lineups

Aaron Ramsey and Kieran Gibbs

Can Ramsey build on his successes from last season

As we all know, Arsene Wenger has returned to London Colney to begin training with the lads and we would have a chance to witness the Puma kit for the first time when the Gunners take on lowly Boreham Wood today. Boreham Wood plays in the Conference South, which is the sixth tier of English football and they would come up against a strong Arsenal that still has a couple of players recuperating from an exhilarating World Cup.

There are more friendly matches lined up for the Gunners as they take on Thierry Henry and his New York Red Bulls before shining the Emirates alight with its annual Emirates Cup contest. The official website published photos of some first-team players training ahead of today’s clash and there were a couple of household names with some youngsters here and there.

The tickets for this fixture has been sold out and 4,500 lucky fans will get to witness the Gunners strut their stuff in Meadow Park. Arsene Wenger is odds on to chose from his players that missed out on an opportunity to play for their respective nations in the concluded World Cup.

My expectations for the game aren’t high and like every preseason fixture against a minnow, I expect the Gunners to run around in pedestrian fashion and they’d probably knock a hatful of goals past Boreham Wood. Yaya Sanogo is one player that couldn’t find the back of the 14 games he featured for the Gunners last season, and for his sake, I hope he gets among the goals today.

To injuries, Abou Diaby is surprisingly fit but there has been some progress in the Walcott’s knee situation as provided from the horse’s mouth, Arsene Wenger,

“He’s progressing very well. He’s worked very hard during the summer and we expect him to be back in full training at the end of August. Once he’s back in full training it can be very quick. He has a good basis, which is what he’s working on now.”

The player himself has been buzzing since Alexis Sanchez arrived at the club and he has stated that he can’t wait to play alongside the Chilean sensation. With the club relatively stocked in attacking options, it would be wise to ease Walcott into the thick of things because he’s vital to Arsenal’s cause this season.

Theo Walcott

Walcott modeling the alternate kit.

Aaron Ramsey has also been on the news lately, revealing that winning a trophy last season has lifted some burden off the manager and the team, but they’re not going to rest on their laurels.

“I think we have a great opportunity,” he told Arsenal.com. “Hopefully all the people that have played at the World Cup come back strong and fit and we can hit the ground running when the season starts.

“The feeling we got after winning the FA Cup was something special and I’m sure that everybody wants the same thing again this season. We’ll be giving it everything to win a few things this year.

“The media were always saying things like ‘Arsenal haven’t won a trophy for this many years’. The number kept getting higher so it was important to win something to take that burden away. It takes the pressure off us.

“I think the team has come on a long way in the last couple of seasons. We’ve grown a lot – there’s a great team spirit here, everybody wants to work for each other so we’ll give it a good go.”

The Gunners would have another stint at silverware when they take on Manchester City in the Community Shield, a club that pummeled them at the Etihad last season and salvaged a draw at the Emirates. With more signings imminent, the feel-good factor is back in the team and we can only hope that it culminates into another victory which would also help the Gunners psychologically. Arsenal had just two victories against the top six teams last season, and that was the home and away triumph over Tottenham, They drew with the other five at home and conceded 21 goals away. That was shocking.

To team news, the team basically picks itself for this contest with the experienced heads probably getting a run out from the onset before the Young Guns take their places in the second half.

Wojciech Szczesny would be the custodian between the sticks and he’d probably be replaced by Damian Martinez in the second half. Martinez last game for the Gunners was that enthralling 7-5 win over Reading in the Capital One cup and I’m pretty sure that he didn’t convince Arsene Wenger. Rumors of Colombia’s David Ospina has been gathering momentum but we will see how things pan out in the coming weeks.

In defense, there would be no Mertesielny axis of awesome in the heart of the back but with the defensive duo of Ignasi Miquel and Seyi Ajayi returning from loan spells at the Championship, they’ll be odds on to feature for the Gunners. I still have a concern with this position because Thomas Vermaelen cannot be relied upon to stay fit, he just has a sad penchant for getting injured. In the full back positions, Wenger would have the luxury of shuffling between Kieran Gibbs and Nacho Monreal and I envisage that they’d get 45 minutes each. With new signing, Matt Debuchy, still on holiday, Carl Jenkinson will have another chance to show what his made off.

In holding midfield, the experienced duo of Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini will hold the fort while Aaron Ramsey would be given the license to roam further forward as the creative hub of the team, a position he struggled to make an impact in the 2011/12 season but with his amazing goal haul in the last campaign, I expect him to be in bullish mode. In attack, I’d expect Yaya Sanogo to spearhead the front line with Serge Gnabry and Tomas Rosicky supporting him from the flanks.

My predicted lineup would look like this,

football formation

Enjoy the game wherever you are.

Sayonara.

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Requiem for a Dream – How Barcelona’s Prodigal Son Became Their Most Damaging Signing in a Generation

enigma106:

An excellent and fantastic article on Cesc Fabregas. A must read for all Arsenal fans and football fans alike.

Originally posted on A Cule Complains:

Cesc Fabregas

To all intents and purposes, the time of Cesc Fabregas at Barcelona is now up. While nothing has yet been signed, nor even officially agreed, he is expected to move to Chelsea in the very near future. And, if that falls through, it is no secret that the club are willing to ship him off to any club that can give them in excess of 30 million euros and agree terms with the player.

This is Cesc Fabregas, a Catalan born and bred. A product of Barcelona’s La Masia academy, signed by their greatest-ever coach in an act the sheer inevitability of which had seen it expected for half a decade. A world class midfielder and Spanish international, with La Liga, the Copa del Rey and both the World Cup and two European Championships on his CV. It would seem fair that people are asking just why the club would…

View original 6,660 more words

Revealing the Benefits of Signing Mathieu Debuchy

Mathieu Debuchy

So one of the most kept transfer secrets have finally been made official – Newcastle’s Matt Debuchy is now a Gunner, and he has taken the No. 2 jersey, a traditional right back’s number. The full back joins the club after a good World Cup under his belt and instead of arriving as a late transfer deadline day signing, Debuchy would have the time to blend in with his new teammates, as well as getting accustomed to the Arsenal way.

Debuchy’s career began when he joined LOSC Lille Metropole at the tender age of eight, before breaking into the first team setup several years later. He made his debut in the 2003/04 campaign and went on to make 300 appearances (scored 18 goals) in 10 seasons for the French-based outfit before leaving in January 2013 to join another French-infested squad in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne. After 18 months with Newcastle, he has joined the Gunners for an undisclosed fee.

With the era of Bacary Sagna gone, a new era has began with Debuchy leading the ranks at the right back position with Carl Jenkinson and / or Hector Bellerin serving as his able deputies. The Gunners linked with moves for Seamus Coleman and Serge Aurier but Arsene Wenger in his infinite wisdom opted for some French delight.

What makes Matt Debuchy stand out? Gooner Daily reveals the benefits of signing the French star.

Statistical Review of Debuchy, Compared with Sagna and other Arsenal Transfer Targets

According to stats king, WhoScored, the table below shows the overall stats of these right backs,

STAT (League Only)* Debuchy Coleman Aurier Sagna
Appearances (Subs) 28 (1) 36 (0)                    34 (0) 34 (1)
Goals 1 6 6 1
Assists 3 2 6 2
Bookings (Yellow / Red) (8/1) (3/0) (11/0) (6/0)
Aerial Duels Won /Attempted 4 per game (115/165) 0.4 per game (15/27) 2.7 per game (91/150) 3.5 per game (122/180)
Man of the Match Awards won 6 1 6 1
Who Scored Rating 7.42 7.32 7.43 7.20

From the table above, all four players were first team regulars in their respective clubs last season, but Seamus Coleman and Serge Aurier scored a boatload of goals (six each) unlike Debuchy and his French compatriot, Sagna, that managed only one goal all season long. Aurier picked up the most bookings from the lot and it can be attributed to his inexperience, rash style of play and probably late tackles due to his suspect positioning, as we witnessed in the concluded World Cup.

One significant area Debuchy excels from this table is his aerial ability and for a player with a height of 177 cm, Debuchy knows how to leap off the ground to challenge for the ball. This Route One tactic was employed by Arsenal last season, with Wojciech Szczesny always distributing the ball to Sagna’s direction to build up attacks. This means that with Debuchy taking Sagna’s place in the right hand side of defense, the trend will continue with Szczesny punting the balls to his direction – a feat either Aurier or Coleman would have been able to achieve had they joined the Gunners.

Debuchy doing his thing against some bloke from Honduras

Defensive Stats

Looking at the defensive side of their games, which is obviously their primary jobs, listed below are their stats from WhoScored,

STAT (League Only)* Debuchy Coleman Aurier Sagna
Tackles (per game) 95 (3.3) 71 (2) 94 (2.8) 58 (1.7)
Interceptions (per game) 69 (2.4) 47 (1.3) 75 (2.2) 51 (1.5)
Fouls Committed (per game) 41 (1.4) 25 (0.7) 38 (1.1) 23 (0.7)
Offsides Won (per game) 3 (0.1) 14 (0.4) 2 (0.1) 15 (0.4)
Clearances (per game) 138 (4.8) 88 (2.4) 102 (3) 175 (5)
Dribbled by Others (per game) 24 (0.8) 18 (0.5) 21 (0.6) 14 (0.4)
Blocked Shots (per game) 12 (0.4) 9 (0.3) 9 (0.3) 7 (0.2)
Own Goals committed 1 1 0 0

Judging from the stats, Debuchy made more tackles than his peers (really close tie with Aurier) but the Ivorian edged past Debuchy in terms of interceptions. The Frenchman also committed a lot of fouls which would be attributed to his eight yellow cards and one red card last season. Sagna made more clearances with five per game but Debuchy wasn’t far off wit 4.8 per game to his name. He also had a lot of blocked shots, which shows his enthusiasm in the back.

Having a player like Debuchy is really great because he has proved that he can do a very sound job at the back. There’s a reason he was selected ahead of Sagna in the starting lineup of the French national team. In the World Cup, Debuchy put up consistent performances in France’s first two games before he was rested for Sagna in a dead rubber fixture against Ecuador. In the knockout stages, he resumed his normal duties before his nation was eliminated by the eventual winners, Germany.

Enemies last month, buddies this month

Attacking Stats

From an attacking perspective, Serge Aurier excels admirably because of the license he has to bomb forward. Seamus Coleman was a winger that was converted to a full back, so it was expected for him to contribute immensely to Everton’s attack. It was no surprise that both players scored six goals each.

STAT (League Only)* Debuchy Coleman Aurier Sagna
Goals 1 6 6 1
Assists 3 2 6 2
Shots (per game) 35 (1.2) 30 (0.8) 58 (1.7) 16 (0.5)
Key Passes (per game) 23 (0.8) 45 (1.3) 32 (0.9) 21 (0.6)
Successful Dribbles (per game) 16 (0.6) 64 (1.8) 47 (1.4) 8 (0.2)
Fouled by Others (per game) 23 (0.8) 31 (0.9) 56 (1.6) 27 (0.8)
Times Caught Offside (per game) 5 (0.2) 2 (0.1) 7 (0.2) 0 (0)
Times Dispossessed (per game) 15 (0.5) 37 (1) 76 (2.2) 24 (0.7)
Turnovers (per game) 28 (1) 23 (0.7) 45 (1.3) 13 (0.4)

The downside to Aurier and Coleman’s attacking play was that they were vulnerable to counter attacks and teams capitalized on that flaw to punish them. Debuchy on the other hand, takes a more conservative approach to his offensive play and his off the ball movement is superb. In the World Cup, he worked in tandem with Matt Valbuena and they wreaked havoc on the right hand side.

Imagine him doing the same with Alexis Sanchez, Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain or Serge Gnabry. Lord!!!

Premier League Experience

Debuchy spent 18 months in the Premier League and amassed 46 games for Newcastle. In his short stint with the club, he was a consistent performer and an ever present figure in Alan Pardew’s starting XI.

Debuchy scored his only Newcastle goal against Sunderland

With his move to Arsenal, Debuchy wouldn’t need any adaptation period of any sort because he’s already a seasoned professional in the Premier League. At 28, he’s at his prime, so he can give his best years to the club while a youngster like Carl Jenkinson would be learning the ropes.

The good times are back again.

Welcome Matt Debuchy, or Dorobuchy, as some Nigerians have likened his name to.

Sayonara.

You can download the Gooner Daily  BlackBerry App to receive notifications on your Smart Phone when a post is published.

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