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Benik Afobe: Would He Have Been a Hit at Arsenal?

 

This weekend Arsenal would visit the Vitality Stadium to take on Bournemouth in their bid to resurrect their fading title challenge. With three points from a possible 12, Arsene Wenger’s side has been in terrible form and it’s even more scary bearing in mind that their fellow title rivals, Leicester, Man City and Tottenham are picking points.

The game would be a rather interesting one for new Bournemouth signing, Benik Afobe, that has settled into life at the big time with three strikes in three games. Speaking in a recent interview, Afobe has shown some sort of ‘regret’ in his time at Arsenal,

“Would I have scored goals for Arsenal given the chance? I believe I would have. But I don’t hold any grudges. I’m in the Premier League now and scoring — I’m happy.

“It would be nice to make it four out of four against Arsenal. I’ve got a lot to thank them for but there will be no friends on Sunday.”

Afobe joined the Gunners when he was six and proved his goalscoring process at youth level for the Gunners. Afobe was just 14 when he scored a whopping 40 goals for the Arsenal Under-16s in the 2007/08 season. When he moved up to the Under-18 squad, he continued his goalscoring exploits at that level, scoring 11 goals in 13 games in the 2008/09 season and 21 goals in 24 games in the 2009/10 season.

His progress was monitoring by Arsene Wenger and he made his first appearance for the Gunners, aged 18,  in the 2011 Emirates Cup. It was a bitter sweet moment for the lad as he came on for Jack Wilshere early in the first half, only to suffer a groin injury in the second half of the same game. That turned out to be a serious injury for the lad as he missed up to six months. With Robin van Persie leaving the club in the 2012/13 season, Wenger fielded Afobe in a couple of preseason fixtures but he suffered a cruciate ligament injury that more or less called time on his Arsenal career.

After he made his recovery, the Gunners sent him out on loan to Milton Keynes Dons (the sixth club he was loaned to) and that’s when Afobe had a new lease of life. The forward scored 19 goals in 30 games for the Dons, including a brace against Manchester United when they ran out as shock 4-0 winners. While at MK Dons, Wolverhampton Wanderers offered the Gunners £2 million for his services and Arsenal cashed in on the lad. He continued his good form for Wolves, scoring 13 goals and with his 31 strikes that season, he was the highest goalscorer in England, beating the likes of Sergio Aguero and Harry Kane.

This season Afobe continued his good form with Wolves, scoring 10 goals for the Championship outfit but Bournemouth swooped for the lad with a club record, £10 million fee, and he has proved to be worth the outlay.

Would Afobe had been a hit if he was still at Arsenal? I believe so. He is pacey, powerful and had a good finishing ability. With the creativity at Arsenal’s disposal, having an agile forward like Afobe would have been a major plus because we could have played to his strengths. In Walcott, Arsenal has their own speed merchant in attack but the Englishman continues to divide opinion and he doesn’t really have that power to match his pace. Walcott remains the best finisher at the club (despite his poor run of form) but he’s one player you would hope to be in a one-on-one situation.

Afobe may have regrets about his time with the Gunners but that’s the harsh reality of the beautiful game. It’s going to be interesting to see if he would celebrate against the Gunners if he scores but I’m here hoping he doesn’t.

Sayonara.

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Profligate Arsenal Lose Further Ground on Title Race

Forster was on hand to make another save as the England keeper kept title-chasing Arsenal at bay

Arsenal 0 Southampton 0

Match Report Match HighlightsPost-Match Press Conference

The players knew what was expected of them – the return of two points from a possible nine was not good enough for a Championship contending side so anything less than three points would be regarded as a big disappointment, bearing in mind that fellow title hopefuls, Leicester and Manchester City, had games of their own with the potential to win them of course.

Arsene Wenger brought back his trusted XI with a couple of eyebrows raised when Mathieu Flamini started ahead of Francis Coquelin. Theo Walcott deserved his place on the bench as Alexis Sanchez returned to the fray following his match winning exploits against Burnley. The visitors were prepared to sit back and hit the Gunners on the break, which also preempted the manager to deploy Gabriel Paulista ahead of Per Mertesacker.

Arsenal probed and pressed the Southampton rearguard with the first clear cut chance of the game arriving when Alexis lofted a sumptuous ball to Mesut Ozil, whose first touch was Dennis Bergkamp-esque but he didn’t have the finish to match. A straight shot at Fraser Forster that offered no threat whatsoever. Ozil showed some alertness again to react first to a Giroud flick but his shot was fired straight at Forster yet again. This paved the way for what would be the story of the night – woeful finishing from the Gunners.

With Ozil missing a couple, it was Giroud’s turn to get in line with a right-footed effort that was saved by Forster. The Saints had a couple of half chances but they were easy pickings for Petr Cech. In the second half, the Gunners continued to barrage the Southampton defense with little or no progress and it was turning out to be ‘one of those nights’. Alexis showed great technique to bring the ball under control and managed to fire a shot that left Forster rooted to the spot but a defender was on the line to clear the ball to safety.

Wenger took out Joel Campbell and brought on Theo Walcott in his bid to get something out of the game. Within minutes of his introduction, Walcott was sent through on goal he fired a pathetic tame shot that was parried by Forster. The Englishman had a second bite of the cherry but the Southampton shot stopper was on hand to make another save.

News of Leicester leading Liverpool didn’t help and with Tottenham tearing Norwich apart, Arsenal had dropped to rather familiar surroundings – fourth place. Even with six minutes of stoppage time, the Gunners didn’t have enough in the tank to get that all-important goal and the sound of the ref’s whistle brought an air of frustration, as the Gunners had amassed three points from a possible 12 – definitely not good enough for a title challenging side. In the same period where the Gunners have managed just three from 12, Leicester has gained 10 points, Tottenham nine points and Manchester City with eight.

It’s not all doom and gloom though. Arsenal can still catch up with the leading pack but they need to start winning games and quickly! There’s a lot of time to go back to the drawing board between now and Sunday’s clash with Bournemouth.

Just expect the usual ‘you need to stay positive’ kinda crap articles on the official site.

Sayonara.

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Southampton Preview + Debuchy Joins Girondins Bordeaux

After enduring a stuttering start to the new year in the Premier League, Arsenal will hope to return to winning ways in the competition. Two points from a possible nine was a poor return for Arsene Wegner’s side but the smell of revenge would be in the air when Southampton visit the Emirates tonight. The last time both sides met, the Gunners were on the wrong end of some thrashing as Ronald Koeman’s side finished the game with four unreplied goals at St. Mary’s.

With the Gunners recording a victory over Burnley in the FA Cup last week, the players will be hoping to gather momentum to start a streak of victories that would be needed to win the Premier League, even though they face stiff opposition from Manchester City and Leicester, that have clashes against Sunderland and Liverpool respectively.

The Gunners will have to be weary about the aerial threat Southampton will pose as the club has scored a league-high 10 headed goals in the Premier League so far in 2015/16 and they have also fired in the most crosses from open play in the league this season (436). When both sides met earlier the season, Southampton converted two headed chances from Virgil van Dijk and Jose Fonte but one was ruled out while the other went in.

Arsenal Team News

Wenger made nine changes from the team that lost to Chelsea, so he’s set to welcome back his key players for what will prove to be an all-important game for the Gunners.

Alexis Sanchez and Francis Coquelin got some first team football action, and the Chilean can be proud of his output over the weekend. Sadly, the Gunners will be without Tomas Rosicky, that has picked up another injury. The manager gave some favorable news about Jack Wilshere and Danny Welbeck but they are not still available for selection.

Arsenal Injury / Suspension News

Jack Wilshere (ankle), Danny Welbeck (knee), Santi Cazorla (knee), Tomas Rosicky (thigh)

Arsenal Predicted Lineup

Arsenal 4-2-3-1 football formation

Southampton Team News

The Saints were not in action over the weekend following their third round defeat to Crystal Palace so Koeman has a very fresh squad to select from as they were given breathers over the weekend. The Saint’s boss was delighted that his new signing, Charlie Austin, was able to score on his debut and he would be hoping for more of the same. Austin banged in 18 goals in the Premier League for QPR before they suffered the ignominy of relegation but the R’s cashed in on the forward when he signalled his intentions of not signing a new deal.

Since the return of injured goalie, Fraser Forster, to the side, the Saints have found some defensive stability and the goalie will want to continue his run of clean sheets that currently stands at three. The last time Forster featured at the Emiratesm he had a Man of the Match performances with a string of saves that kept the Gunners at bay till the death.

 

Southampton Injury / Suspension News

Florin Gardos (knee), Steven Davis (knock), Graziano Pelle (knee), Jay Rodriguez (foot)

Southampton Predicted Lineup

Southampton football formation

Team Form

Arsenal

  • Last Five Games: W D D L W
  • Last Result: Arsenal 2-1 Burnley
  • Leading Goalscorer: Olivier Giroud (18)

Southampton

  • Last Five Games: L L W W W
  • Last Result: Manchester United 0-1 Southampton
  • Leading Goalscorer: Graziano Pelle (9)

Gooner Daily predicts a 3 – 0 win.

Elsewhere, the Gunners will be without experienced full back, Mathieu Debuchy, that has moved to Girondins Bordeaux  on loanin his quest for regular first team football ahead of Euro 2016. Debuchy has been on the fringes since his return from injury and he has featured just seven times this season. Debuchy has been given the No. 24 jersey with first choice right back, Milan Gajic, wearing the No. 2 jersey.

With Gajic currently injured, Debuchy would slot directly into the team and I expect the fullback to even retain his place when Gajic returns. In their last 4-0 win over Rennes, Bordeaux manager, Willy Sagnol, had to field a defensive midfielder, Andre Biyogo Poko, as an auxiliary right back, so in Debuchy, he has a full back that can offer something to the team.

Currently, Bacary Sagna and Christophe Jallet are currently above Debuchy in the French national team pecking order, so he has five months to impress head coach, Didier Deschamps, ahead of the forthcoming European Championships that will be hosted in France.

I don’t see the fullback returning to North London though, with Hector Bellerin, Calum Chambers and Carl Jenkinson challenging for a first team berth. Bordeaux are currently seven in Ligue 1, so they stand a chance of qualifying to the Europa League with PSG, Monaco and the season’s surprise package, Angers currently on the Champions League positions.

I wish Debuchy all the best at Bordeaux.

Sayonara.

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