Category Archives: Transfer Gossip

Reasons Why Arsenal Shouldn’t Sell Lukas Podolski

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After a long extended break following their World Cup exertions, Arsenal’s German contingent are back in contention and the game against Everton would serve as the fixture for them to see first-team football action.

Last season, Per Mertesacker was an ever-present figure in Arsenal’s defense and he amassed a whooping 52 games, scoring three goals with his most vital being the equalizer against Wigan Athletic in the FA Cup semifinal. Mertesacker forged a great understanding with his defensive partner, Laurent Koscielny, and they complimented each other on the pitch, much to the benefit of the club. This partnership saw the Arsenal defense keep 16 clean sheets – a joint highest with the defensive minded Chelsea.

On the other end of the pitch, another German, Mesut Ozil, played in his debut season for the club making 40 apps and scoring seven goals. He came to North London like a house on fire and his early performances were exemplary but as the season progressed, he suffered a loss of form as well as some issues with his overall fitness but he had a good campaign nonetheless.

The same couldn’t be said for Lukas Podolski, that endured a somewhat tumultuous campaign last season.

Podolski opened his goalscoring account with a well-taken brace against Fulham in August but he suffered a nasty hamstring injury in Arsenal’s next game against Fenerbahce in the Champions League qualifiers. According to the Daily Mail, he was diagnosed to be ruled out for 10 weeks, but he spent the best part of four to five months out before making his comeback against West Ham.

Blow: Lukas Podolski has been ruled out of action for up to 10 weeks with a hamstring injury

When things seemed really bleak for the Gunners against West Ham, Arsene Wenger summoned the services of Podolski after a long time out and he responded with a goal and an assist which endeared him back to the hearts of the Emirates faithful.

He didn’t feature in the next game against Newcastle with Wenger opting to ease him into game time slowly but with Giroud suffering an ankle injury in the narrow win against Newcastle, Wenger drafted Podolski as a center forward against Cardiff and he struggled badly. Nicklas Bendtner came in his stead and scored a late goal before Theo Walcott sealed the points.

With Giroud and Bendtner out injured, everybody expected Podolski to get the nod as a center forward in the North London Derby but Wenger fielded Walcott in that position ahead of Podolski and he did pretty well before suffering that season-ending injury.

Giroud returned to full fitness and Wenger didn’t hesitate in playing him in his favored center forward role but there was still no space for Podolski in the starting lineup. Santi Cazorla struggled on the left wing and even had a hand in Aston Villa’s goal but when Tomas Rosicky wasn’t deemed fit enough to continue, Arsene Wenger opted to bring on Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain ahead of Podolski, and this time it didn’t go down well with the German.

Despite the fact that Podolski hardly got a run of games in the entire campaign, he still managed to score 12 goals, which made him the third highest goalscorer for the team behind Aaron Ramsey (13) and Olivier Giroud (22).

This summer, Podolski has been heavily linked with a move away from the Emirates and according to the Mirror, he is edging towards a move to Turkey,

“Arsenal have reportedly told Galatasaray they will sell them forward Lukas Podolski, but not Joel Campbell. Galatasaray wanted to sign both players in a £22m deal, but the Gunners are reportedly only prepared to let Podolski go.”

With the amount of money spent this summer, the Gunners may want to cash in on the German but in my honest opinion, the club doesn’t need to. Here are the reasons why.

Podolski’s Goalscoring Threat

Even Arsene Wenger himself has confessed that Podolski is the club’s best finisher and his stats prove so. In his first season with the club, the German banged in 16 goals and he almost matched the tally last season taking his overall goal count for Arsenal at 28 goals in 62 games. Despite the fact that there were games Podolski was largely anonymous, he’s the sort of a player that doesn’t need a second invitation to fire the trigger and in most cases, it’s to devastating effect.

Losing a player like Podolski ultimately means that the club will be prepared to also ‘lose the potential goals’ he’s going to score this season. Podolski also scored 32 goals in his previous two seasons at FC Cologne before joining the Gunners which means that in the past four seasons, the German has smashed in 60 goals (averaging 15 goals per season). It would take some stuffing to find such a player with these numbers that’s not even a first-team regular.

He Adds to the Team’s Depth

Many Arsenal fans were quick to point out that the club’s title challenge fell by the roadside but to injuries suffered by key players. The Ox was the first to suffer a long-term injury in August and Podolski followed suit but the losses of Aaron Ramsey, Theo Walcott and at some point, Mesut Ozil, were bitter pills to swallow. Ramsey was in the form of his life and Walcott was nicking in the goals on a consistent basis.

Cazorla kept Podolski out of the team for long periods last season

Santi Cazorla currently marauds the left wing and Alexis Sanchez is a player that can potentially deployed there when Walcott becomes fully fit. This is further diminish Podolski’s chances of featuring but the dynamism of football has shown that injuries, suspensions and other reasons best known to Chuck Norris and Lord Voldemort can make a player get his chance to strut his stuff. If Podolski is sold, Arsenal’s depth will be shortened by a man.

He May Not be Replaced

This is the scariest reason why Podolski shouldn’t be sold.

If the Gunners sell Podolski, Wenger may not replace him with a player of equal or better quality because there are other loopholes that require filling at the club. Thomas Vermaelen’s departure to Barcelona put the club’s defensive options in a rather precarious situation and the fans are hoping that the club mitigates this challenge by signing a new center back. There’s also some talk about a holding midfielder coming in as the Gunners have been linked with a host of names out there.

Even with the potential sale of Podolski, I don’t see the Gunners bringing any winger to replace the German. His compatriot, Marco Reus, has been linked with the club but it seems unlikely to happen.

Conclusion

Despite his output on the pitch, Podolski is also a lovable character off the pitch and the fans adore his antics. Whether it’s screaming ‘Aha!’ in the dressing room or taking selfies everywhere, Podolski has been a positive influence since he joined the club in 2011.

I’d be saddened to see him go.

Sayonara.

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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.

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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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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.

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Why Signing a Holding Midfielder Should be a Top Priority this Summer

A new DM like Lars Bender would be a welcome addition

Anytime I think about the Invincibles, I reminisce on how strong Arsenal was in every playing position – Mad Jens Lehmann was a commanding presence in the box, the defensive pairing of Sol Campbell and Kolo Toure was a match made in the stars, the attacking wing play of Robert Pires and Freddie Ljungberg was a frightening prospect for the opposition and of course, the goals from Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp did the damage. However, I deliberate forgot to add the influence from the heart of the midfield with Patrick Vieira and Gilberto Silva pulling all the strings.

As the years went by, the key components of the Invincibles squad were shipped away and the era of the Fantastic Four in midfield began. In the 2007/08 season, Arsenal came really close to winning the Premier League and many would be quick to point out that it was the season Emmanuel Adebayor scored 30 goals and had a boatload of misses, but the collective performances of Cesc Fabregas, Mathieu Flamini, Aliaksandr Hleb and Tomas Rosicky was vital to the team’s surge for a title that season.

After Flamini departed on a Bosman to AC Milan, a void was created in holding midfield and albeit temporarily, Alexandre Song, seemed to be the man to tick all the boxes and served as the solution to Arsenal’s holding midfield problems. He had the imposing physical presence and his overall play was quite impressive, as he was an expert in breaking up play and handing the ball over to the folks that knew what to do with it.

Surprisingly, Alex Song had a different tactical style of play (maybe he was instructed by Wenger) with the arrival of Mikel Arteta in the 2011/12 season transfer deadline day. With the Spaniard having the football intelligence to cover admirably in midfield, Song started making forays forward, and there were two sides to his newly-found attacking verve – on the good side, he started raking up the assists and his overall play in the final third improved. On the bad side, he was always caught out of position and counter attacking teams punished Arsenal as they exploited the space vacated by Song.

With Song departing for the warm sunny bench in Catalonia, Arsene Wenger had the option of replacing him with a holding midfielder of equal or better quality and the media vultures reported that a deal for Rennes’ Yann M’Vila was 99.99999999999999999% done. There was no M’Vila at the start of the 2012/13 campaign and Wenger chose to play Arteta predominantly as his holding midfielder.

In fairness to the Spaniard, he has given the club the best of his abilities in the past two seasons as a holding midfielder and many Arsenal fans can attest to the fact that a new holding midfielder was needed. With no quality replacement (no disrespect to Francis Coquelin and co.), Arteta played far too many games (43) and at the start of the 2013/14 campaign, he suffered a thigh injury that sidelined him for some weeks, but Wenger opted to re-sign Flamini on a free transfer.

Having Flamini around was good for squad depth and all, but his carefree attitude earned him some suspensions as the season progressed. He added steel to the midfield but his lack of agility was exploited at times, and as I stated earlier, he had far too many bookings for my liking.

When I remember those horrific drubbings in the hands of Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea, I vividly remember how the midfield was open and the opposition got into Arsenal’s defensive positions way too easily. The lessons ought to have been learned but apparently, the games proved that they weren’t. Arsenal needs a holding midfielder that would instill fear in the eyes of the opposition when they see him. We may never have another Vieira (please don’t give me that Abou Diaby can be his replacement bullcrap) but there are some holding midfielders out there that would improve the team.

The most recent midfielders to be linked with the Gunners are Morgan Schneiderlein, Lars Bender and Sami Khedira. Without blinking twice, Bender would be my most obvious choice. His age (25) is perfect and his performances were bright sparks in a relatively dark Leverkusen campaign. Bender made 3.7 tackles per game in the Bundesliga last season with 1.8 interceptions but there has to be some improvement in his passing range as he managed a meager 77.7% while Arteta averaged 92.1%.

With Arteta turning 32 and having just one year left on his deal to run, one might be feeling that he’s living on borrowed time.

There’s money in the bank.

Arsenal has to make signing a holding midfielder a priority.

Sayonara.

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Arsenal Transfer News: Latest Updates on Alexis Sanchez

Barca 'accept £32m Arsenal bid for Sanchez'

North London, here I come. lol

After another exhilarating round of World Cup football, it’s time for another break and as expected, transfer news has been the order of the day.

Since Luis Enrique took over from Tata Martino this summer, he has been very active on the transfer market, bringing in Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Claudio Bravo to replace the departed Victor Valdes while Gerard Deulofeu, Rafinha and Bojan Krkic have returned from their loan spells. He also delved into the market to sign Croatian maestro, Ivan Rakitic, from Sevilla.

On the other end of the scale, Barcelona offloaded stalwart, Jose Pinto, while the legendary Carles Puyol announced his retirement from the beautiful game. Ex-Gunner, Cesc Fabregas, was also shipped out to Chelsea and with Arsenal having the first option to sign the chap, the Gunners chose not to act.

With FC Barcelona reportedly gunning for the bitey one, Luis Suarez, it is believed that they would want to get their hands on all the funds they can get, and with that in view, Chilean hotshot, Alexis Sanchez, is up for grabs to the highest bidder.

Sanchez joined Barcelona in 2011 for a €26 million fee (plus €11.5m in certain bonuses). He had just come off a great campaign in Udinese and a lot was expected from the forward. Scoring 15 goals and supplying six assists in his first season was a good return but his second season with the club was marred by injuries. Last season, Sanchez was on fire for the Catalonians, blasting in 21 goals with 19 of them scored in the Liga BBVA.

Sanchez unbelievable strike for Barca against Atletico Madrid

He also had a good World Cup by his standards, scoring two goals against Australia and the host nation, Brazil, but there was heart ache for the lad as he was among the Chileans that missed their crucial spot kicks.

The Telegraph, the Metro, the Express and Goal.com have reported that the Arsenal hierarchy has placed a €40 million bid for the forward (they forgot to add one Euro) and to add some fuel to an already raging inferno, Sanchez’s agent, Fernando Felicevich, has started following Mesut Ozil, Olivier Giroud, Santi Cazorla and Mikel Arteta on Twitter. Lest I forget, his agent also followed Arsenal’s official Twitter account.

Barca’s director Andoni Zubizarreta has also confirmed several bids for the Chilean star,

“Regarding the future of Alexis Sánchez, there have been offers for the player,” he said.

“But I do not know how it will all end – we are looking for a solution which will be best for everyone.”

Apparently, Liverpool and Juventus are also on the prowl for the forward.

The fans wanted that big-name forward that can play with / for Olivier Giroud and Sanchez clearly fits the ball. I also love the fact that he’s versatile so he can be used on the wings when the need arises. I’m pretty sure that the players and fans alike would be happy to have such a quality addition to the squad. Let’s also bear in mind that other rivals are strengthening as well, so the Gunners shouldn’t be left behind.

The prospect of seeing Alexis and Theo Walcott on the same pitch just sent chills down my spine. I’m wondering how opposition defenders would feel.

I’ll keep you posted as things unfold.

To wet your appetite a bit, here’s a YouTube compilation on his performances last season

Sayonara.

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