Category Archives: Arsenal

Klopp’s Resignation: The Captain Runs Away from a Sinking Ship

…I want a brand new house on the episode of cribs,

I want a bathroom I can play baseball in,

and a king-sized bed big enough for 10 plus me… – Rockstar (Nickleback)

Human beings, naturally, want the very best for themselves. No one wants to suffer, especially when there are better opportunities out there. Let’s try a couple of case studies out there. Enter Emmanuel Adebayor, the Togolese forward that joined Arsenal from AS Monaco on a £35,000-per-week contract. After a very good campaign, he was rewarded with an £80,000-per-week deal before he began his flirtations with AC Milan. He eventually sealed a move to Manchester City under the leadership of Mark Hughes and he received a pay rise of £170,000-per-week and he actually scored a couple of goals for the club, before Roberto Mancini came around and told him that he was surplus to requirements. A loan deal was struck with Tottenham but he was still earning that fat pay check as both teams ‘split the bill’. Manchester City didn’t want him, but he was still under contract. Bad for the club, perfect for Ade.

Playing football is worlds away from being a football manager, and I’m not writing about the simulation video game where everything you know can be done at the simple click of a button. In FM, you get a ‘feel’ of what it is to be a manager and I will not forget that story of how a 21-year-old lad, Vugar Guloglan oglu Huseynzade, got a managerial job in a real football club in Azerbaijan, FC Baku, after because of his Football Manager ‘experience’.

Things are very different in the football world. There are chairmen like Roman Abramovich, that is ‘never really satisfied’ with the work his managers put and since he joined Chelsea in 2003, he has changed managers like babies change diapers. There are men like Silvio Berlusconi that love AC Milan with all his heart but ‘challenges’ off the pitch has seen the club let go of their star players for big bucks and replaced them with some rather mediocre folks. There are the Arab folks like Khaldoon al-Mubarak that would give his manager a blank cheque to sign any and everyone he wants but if he doesn’t match expectations, he’s out like he never got in.

Where I’m I heading with all this? Football clubs are run with different models so it’s up to the manager being hired to adapt to those changes and bring out the best with the players at his disposal. Martin O’Neill fell out with the Aston Villa board after their sale of James Milner to Manchester City,  David Moyes spent 11 years at Everton and worked with a shoe-string budget but things were different for the Scot at Manchester United (we all know how things panned out for him at Old Trafford) and the examples go on and on.

Which brings me to a certain fiery young manager, Jurgen Klopp. Like Ryan Giggs, Tony Adams, Rogerio Ceni, Francesco Totti, Xavi Hernandez, Steven Gerrard, Klopp was a one-club man and he played his entire career at FSV Mainz 05 from 1989 to 2001, playing 337 league games ansd scoring 52 goals. His first stint at management was with Mainz, where he guided the club to their first appearance in the Bundesliga as well as qualification to the 2005-06 UEFA Cup. He suffered the ignominy of relegation with Mainz in 2007 and resigned the season after when he couldn’t bring the club back to the Bundesliga.

Dortmund approached Klopp in 2008 and he progressed well with the team before making history with the team in the 2011-12 Bundesliga season. 81 points accrued by Borussia Dortmund was the greatest points tally ever amassed in Bundesliga history and the 47 points earned in the second half of the season also set a new record. Borussia Dortmund’s 25 league wins equaled Bayern Munich’s 1972–73 milestone, while their 28-league match unbeaten sequence was the best ever recorded in a single German top-flight season. Things were going on well for the team but the performances of some of the players caught the eye with Shinji Kagawa moving to Manchester United. In recent seasons, Klopp rose to prominence in the Bundesliga and he shifted his focus to Europe, were he locked horns with Bayern Munich in the 2012-13 finals but lost 2-1.

Dortmund continued to lose star players with Mario Goetze and Robert Lewandowski moving over to Bavaria to play for the biggest team in the land, Bayern Munich. Players like Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Ciro Immobile were signed to fill in the void and they have performed admirably but this season, things have turned for the worst at Dortmund. The club has suffered major injuries to key players and their from in the Bundesliga has been downright shocking. The team had lost 11 of their first 19 league games that saw them rooted to the bottom of the table before they picked up some form to record five wins in seven that saw them move up to 10th.

In the wake of two successive league defeats to Bayern Munich and Borussia Monchengladach, coupled with other niggling issues best known to Captain America and Chuck Norris, Klopp has requested to end his reign as manager of Dortmund with three years left on his contract,

“I always said in that moment where I believe I am not the perfect coach anymore for this extraordinary club, I will say so. I believe this is the right decision at the right time. I have in the last weeks and days asked myself if I was still the right manager and I wasn’t sure. I couldn’t answer with a yes.”

“I have not had any contact with any other clubs, nor have I any plans to take a sabbatical.

“I just wanted to make my decision known now so that the club can plan for the future. I chose this time to announce it, because in the last few years, some player decisions were made late and there was no time to react.”

A classic tale of a captain putting on his life jacket and jumping overboard because his ship is about to capsize. Maybe he wasn’t going to stay at Dortmund beyond his initial contract because he’s one of them ‘sought after’ coaches as the papers would put it but there was still something to play for in the league, as well as some hope for next season. Klopp’s side are going to take on Bayern in the DFB Pokal semifinals and the side can still fight for a Europa League finish.

Many have linked with the Arsenal job in the past and as expected, Piers Morgan took to Twitter to share his thoughts about Klopp taking over from Wenger. Some fans though.

More on the Reading game in the coming days.
Sayonara

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Champions League: This Could Have Been Us, and Yes, it Still Hurts

When supporting a football club, you have to brace yourself for the good times, bad times and ugly times. Arsenal, like any football club out there, is no different. In all my years as an Arsenal supporter, I’ve seen a lot but I remain hopeful for better things to come in the foreseeable future. Going all those years without a trophy made me endure endless taunts from those trolls out there, and winning the FA Cup last season was in my honest opinion, a platform to build on.

The Gunners began the season very poorly in the League and despite the fact that Arsene Wenger’s men are in the form of their lives, the best they can muster would be a second placed finish provided Chelsea do what’s expected of them. The Champions League is a competition that Arsene Wenger hasn’t won yet, with his best chance coming in 2006 but down the years Arsenal fans have become accustomed to facing disappointment and despair in this competition.

This season’s European campaign began with a two-legged draw against Besiktas but the Gunners lost their first match of the group to Dortmund and followed it up with a Danny Welbeck-inspired victory over Galatasaray. After the narrow win against Anderlecht in Belgium, the Gunners were culpable for throwing away a shocking three goal lead against the same opposition at the Emirates, and this was the point where Dortmund seized the initiative and gained a stronghold of the group. Subsequent wins over Dortmund and Galatasaray wasn’t enough to top the group, so Arsene Wenger’s men had to make do with a second placed finish yet again, which ultimately meant that they were gonna be paired with one of them European juggernauts.

Heaven knows that I was anxious during the Round of 16 draws. The Gunners had lost to Barcelona and Bayern Munich twice in the past four seasons, so which team was going to play against them. When Barcelona was paired with Manchester City and Bayern got Shakhtar Donetsk, I thought about the prospect of playing the World Footballer of the Year, Cristiano Ronaldo, but they got Schalke 04. After a frantic wait, Arsenal got paired with AS Monaco. Hallelujah. The fans celebrated, and I’m sure the players already dreamed about the last eight.

Arsenal began 2015 with a loss to Southampton after followed it up with wins over Hull (FA Cup), Stoke, Manchester City, Brighton and Aston Villa before suffering a blip against Tottenham. They picked up where they left off with wins against Leicester and Crystal Palace.

Then Monaco came to town.

The players seemed confident and passed the ball around well but some profligate finishing from Olivier Giroud was already going to prove costly and our fears were realized when Geoffrey Kondogbia made a rare foray forward and fired a shot that was deflected off Per Mertesacker. Arsenal continued to attack and they hit the lads on the break and Dimitar Berbatov of all people, made it two. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain came off the bench to score a peach of a goal to make it 2-1. Not bad right? All we have to do is score two goals in Stade Louis and we are home and dry. Sadly more defensive naivety cost the team dearly and Yannick Ferreira-Carrasco scored the goal that put the contest beyond the Gunners. As expected, a 2-0 win in France wasn’t enough.

So we moved on and focused on what was left of the season. The FA Cup and the remaining Premier League games. Everton, QPR, Manchester United (FA Cup), West Ham, Newcastle, Liverpool and last weekend, Burnley. All these teams have incurred the wrath of an Arsenal side in the form of their lives. With this kind of form, playing in the Champions League against Juventus would have been a spectacle. The last time both sides met at that stage was in Arsenal’s road to the final in 06′. However, it was Monaco that lined up against the Italian giants, not Arsenal.

This could have been us, and yes, it still hurts.

Sayonara.

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Is David Ospina Arsenal’s Winning Formula?

David Ospina off to a Historically Good Start to His Arsenal Career

Competition, they say, brings out the best in players and it’s always beneficial to the team in general.

Arsenal is a team in a very rich vein of form, and this can be attributed to the performances of the players that have been selected by the boss. In defense, Nacho Monreal has kept Kieran Gibbs out for a considerable spell and with the way he has been performing Gibbs faces a battle in his hands to displace the Spaniard. On the other flank, Hector Bellerin has seen off the threat of Calum Chambers but with Matt Debuchy returning, we would see how Wenger manages it. The fiercest battle for places is in Arsenal’s midfield, with the club blessed with a plethora of options.

However, I’d want to focus on the goalkeeping department, that has seen a new kid on the block make the position his for keeps. Since his emergence in December 2010, Wojciech Szczesny has seen the likes of Manuel Almunia, Vito Mannone and more recently, Lukasz Fabianski, leave the club in search of regular game time, so it was evident that Arsene Wenger had to get a new goalie into the list to challenge Szczesny for his first-team berth because quite frankly, Emiliano Martinez wasn’t the man to do so.

An injury he sustained during the World Cup didn’t help him settle in one time but he made his debut in the Capital One Cup loss to Southampton and showed glimpses of his quality. His Champions League came in rather acrimonious circumstances as Szczesny received his marching orders for a late challenge on Burak Yilmaz. On New Year’s day, things went downhill for the Polish goalkeeper as he added insult to injury by smoking in the bathroom after such a dismal performance against Southampton.

Ospina made his full debut against Hull in the FA Cup, earning himself a clean sheet and his presence on the pitch against Stoke a week later confirmed the reports that Wenger had benched Szczesny. Ospina didn’t do badly in the game and earned himself another clean sheet. In the game against Manchester City, the fans began a lovely chant for the Colombian that I’m very sure it motivates him. The “Ooooooooooooooooooospina” chant has become a stuff of legends since mid-January and the fans don’t plan on stopping anytime soon.

After keeping a clean sheet against Aston Villa, Ospina suffered defeat for only the second time in his Arsenal career when the Gunners lost the North London derby courtesy of a Harry Kane brace. Following the win over Leicester City, Szczesny returned in goal in the FA Cup fifth round clash with Middlesbrough but Ospina continued to feature in the Premier League in the Gunners narrow win over Crystal Palace. He earned his third loss in the horrific outing against Monaco at the Emirates but since then, Ospina has continued to feature in the wins over Everton, QPR, West Ham, Monaco (away), Newcastle, Liverpool and this weekend, Burnley.

Then I saw this,

In his brief stint at goal, the Gunners have had an amazing winning rate but we all know it isn’t down to Ospina himself, other team members have played their own parts. However, in my honest opinion, Ospina’s concentration levels are far more better than Wojciech Szczesny but he lacks the Polish goalie’s height, command of area, distribution and to some extent, reflexes. The Colombian has a level head and like Szczesny, he knows how to organize his back line.

Having him around has been a breath of fresh air, and I’m sure that he’d be away that he’s an injury or blunder away from losing his place to Szczesny.

There’s is only one beneficiary from this kind of competition – Arsenal.

Sayonara.

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Gunners Edge Past Burnley to Continue Winning Streak

14/15: Burnley v Arsenal - Aaron Ramsey

Burnley 0 Arsenal 1 (Ramsey 12′)

Match Highlights Post-Match Press Conference

Arsene Wenger and his side knew the task that was before them – a dogged Burnley side with quite a decent home record. With the Gunners winning seven games on the bounce, there were fears of complacency but Wenger had to let his lads know that focus was key. As expected, he stuck with the same XI that was so impressive against Liverpool. If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it yeah?

Burnley play with a compact system that involves smothering the opponent and in the course of the game, they did that superbly but credit must go to the Gunners for another gritty performance that was enough to go back home with three precious points because in the end, that’s what matters.

Arsenal drew first blood when Alexis Sanchez swung in a free kick that was saved by Tom Heaton. Sanchez was to have a frustrating evening, and he was fouled more times that the amount of one on ones Lionel Messi scores. Yes, there have always been a complain or two about Per Mertesacker’s pace but it was fully exploited when Sam Vokes charged in from the left, leaving the German to eat his dust but David Ospina made himself big to block the effort on goal. Sanchez and Mesut Ozil combined perfectly together but the attacking play lacked end product as Alexis grazed his shot over the bar.

Arsenal finally got their breakthrough from the right definition of the world, carry. Francis Coquelin made a great interception (he was to go on to have 11 interceptions in the game) and fed a rather heavy pass to Alexis. The Chilean got through on goal with a blasted effort but if was blocked by the Burnley defense. The ball fell kindly to Ozil’s path and his first time volley was parried by Heaton. With the Burnley defense failing to clear their lines, Alexis let another one rip but it was blocked again until Aaron Ramsey smashed the roof of the net with a goal that proved to be the match winner.

Aaron Ramsey (right) fires Arsenal into a 1-0 lead in the 12th minute as Arsene Wenger's side fly out of the traps at Turf Moor

The home side tried to respond with a well-taken free kick from Trippier that was parried away by Ospina. Burnley gained some momentum in the second half and pressed the Gunners had but Arsene Wenger’s side had a couple of breakaways. Ozil threaded a neat back-heeled pass to Sanchez but his effort was saved by the goalie. Ozil was in the thick of things yet again when he chipped a lovely ball to Ramsey but the Welsh Jesus’ effort was blocked. He had the technique in him to hit the ball first time but he chose not to.

Burnley almost got an equalizer when Mee nutmeged Bellerin before swinging a cross that missed everybody including Boyd that miscued his attempted shot on goal. Danny Ings hasn’t been on the score sheet from quite some time and he attempted an acrobatic effort that was saved by Ospina. Arsene Wenger summoned Danny Welbeck into the fray and he had a couple of attempts but the Englishman’s finishing was wayward.

At the sound of Mike Dean’s whistle, the Gunners had equaled a record they set in March 2004 – an outstanding eight wins in a row in the Premier League. Arsenal is one of the hottest teams in Europe based on form and it can only get better for Arsene Wenger and his mind.

The key thing about this run is focus and Per Mertesacker has stated that he and his teammates aren’t thinking about the title, but aiming to finish in a strong position,

“It’s not in our hands anymore. They [Chelsea] have a decent lead so it’s very difficult for us at the moment, we’re just focusing on ourselves and that has made us very strong in recent weeks.

“It has been a fantastic journey throughout the whole season but at the moment we are quite sharp and we’re trying to take advantage of that. We want to try to continue that because it makes us stronger and gives us a lot of credit and respect.

“We are on a good run and Chelsea have been absolutely amazing this season, so we’re trying to compete with them at the top. It’s not in our hands anymore but we’re trying to focus on ourselves.

“Great togetherness, great spirit and great cohesion is what makes us strong. Even if we have dropped points this season, we came back even stronger. At the moment we can’t learn from defeat because of our great run, we have to learn from victories. There’s a lot to improve but the win at Burnley is just about the result.”

These are the words of a true leader. Mertesacker was not among the goals but he had an awesome game. According to WhoScored, the BFG made 12 clearances, three interceptions and won nine aerial duels, which showed his dominance in defense. Coquelin beasted yet again making an impressive 11 interceptions breaking up play and just doing what he does best. The midfield dynamo has stated that this was one of the club’s hardest wins and most important.

Up next is Reading at Wembley, I’m sure the boys are fired up for it.

Sayonara.

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Burnley Preview: Team News, Injury Update and Predicted Lineups

14/15: Arsenal 3-0 Burnley - Alexis Sanchez

At this point, you just have to have to win your games as they come because in all honesty, we are actually running out of games. The Gunners take on a resilient Burnley side that has produced some great results in front of their home fans with Manchester City suffering a shock result there recently. The Clarets have notched up a win and a draw in their last two home games, recording clean sheets in the process but that win was Burnley’s only victory in their last 10 outings. (W1, D3, L6)

The home side will no doubt be looking to their main man, Danny Ings, that has scored nine and assisted four of Burnley’s 26 goals this season. However, he has gone six Premier League games without a goal, equaling his longest barren spell of the season. The Clarets’ manager, Sean Dyche, is a stern believer of continuity, and he has used the same XI for 16 games this season but he would be wary of the team’s weakness from set pieces as Burnley has conceded 17 headed goals this season and a further 11 goals from corners, both league-high tallies. This would be a huge concern to Burnley, especially with the mere fact that Arsenal has scored a record-high 20 goals from set pieces this season.

The club is staring relegation in the face and would want to do everything in their bit to avoid the drop but they are up against an Arsenal side with lofty ambitions of their own. Since the Gunners surprise 2-0 loss to Southampton on New Year’s Day, Arsene Wenger’s men have notched up an amazing haul of 15 wins from 17 games with the only blips coming at home to Monaco and at White Hart Lane.

The Gunners have won seven successive Premier League matches, scoring 17 goals in the process. It’s their best run of form since a nine-match streak between January and March 2004 during their unbeaten title-winning campaign. Winning at Burnley today would equal the feat the Invincibles achieved 11 years ago – eight wins on the trot. It’s also worth noting that Arsenal is the only side yet to lose against opponents in the bottom half of the table (W13, D3).

When both sides met at the Emirates early in the season, Arsenal ran out as 3-0 winners with Alexis Sanchez netting a brace as well as Calum Chambers scoring his first ever competitive goal. The Chilean hot shot would be hoping to do the double over Burnley but I’m sure Chambers would have to make do with a place on the bench with the kind of form Hector Bellerin is in.

The Gunners have built impressive momentum since the New Year’s Day loss at Southampton, winning 15 of 17 games in all competitions.

Team News

A couple of players are still working their way to full fitness and I’m sure that the manager would want to integrate them into the squad as soon as possible. Mikel Arteta, Abou Diaby and Jack Wilshere recently featured in an Under-21s match against Stoke and they would be relishing the prospect of playing with their teammates again. Wilshere has recently spoken about the fierce competition for first team places in the squad and he knows that it’s for the overall benefit of the team.

The Gunners would be sweating on the fitness of Laurent Koscielny as he’s scheduled to have a late fitness test today. However, Gabriel Paulista could be in line to take the Frenchman’s place if he isn’t fit enough. Gabriel recently stated that he made the right choice joining the club in January and he’s looking forward to improving himself in one of the world’s most competitive leagues.

Alexis has scored five goals in five matches versus last season’s promoted sides, including two versus Burnley at the Emirates but the team will be looking to Olivier Giroud to continue his red hot goalscoring streak. The French forward has scored 10 goals in his last 10 appearances and he has also scored in six successive Premier League matches. If he scores today, he could equal Emmanuel Adebayor’s feat of scoring in seven Arsenal games in a row in 2007-08.

Injury Updates

Burnley: Kevin Long (knee), Dean Marney (knee), Ross Wallace (knee), Steven Reid (calf), Matthew Taylot (lacking match fitness)

Arsenal: Serge Gnabry, Mikel Arteta, Jack Wilshere, Abou Diaby and Mathieu Debuchy (all lacking match fitness), Laurent Koscielny (hip / thigh), Wojciech Szczesny (rib), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (hamstring)

Team Form

Burnley

  • Last Five Games: L L W L D
  • Last Result: Burnley 0 Tottenham 0
  • Leading Goalscorer: Danny Ings (9)

Arsenal

  • Last Five Games: W W W W W
  • Last Result: Arsenal 4 Liverpool 1
  • Leading Goalscorer: Alexis Sanchez (20)

Predicted Lineups

Burnley (4-4-2): Heaton; Duff, Shackell, Tripper, Mee; Boyd, Arfield, Jones, Barnes; Vokes, Ings

Arsenal (4-2-3-1): Ospina; Bellerin, Mertesacker, Gabriel, Monreal; Coquelin, Ramsey; Ozil, Cazorla, Sanchez; Giroud

Gooner Daily says 1-3 to the Arsenal

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