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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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Thoughts on Calum Chambers’ Fledgling Arsenal Career

2014/15 Besiktas 0-0 Arsenal - Chambers

Chambers…one for the future

Unlike the recent trend in previous seasons, this has been a very productive transfer window for Arsenal football club.

Of course, there were some departures as expected. Some youngsters that couldn’t break into the first team had to go and I’m certain that many Arsenal fans were shocked to see Chuks Aneke and Thomas Eisfeld walk through the exit door. The club’s strangest signing of all time, Park Chu-Young, was released as well as the greatest striker that ever lived, Nicklas Bendtner. The skipper also departed for the sunshine of Spain, our FA Cup penalty-saving hero left in search of regular game time at Swansea  and the Bac-Man went for the greens of the Etihad.

With these departures, there were vacuums in various playing positions that had to be filled. David Ospina stepped into Lukasz Fabianski’s shoes and he harbors hopes of being No. 1 (like Fabianski did *gulp*), Matt Debuchy replaced his French compatriot and the marquee signing the fans craved arrived in the form of Alexis Sanchez. However, Arsene Wenger participated in the Southampton Garage Sale to acquire the services of a young Calum Chambers, for a reported £16m or so.

Little did he know that he’d be Giroud’s teammate in the coming season

Born in 1995, Calum Chambers was promoted from the Saints’ academy in 2012 after impressing for the club’s youth side. He grew up through the ranks and had his breakthrough campaign last season, where he shuffled with Nathaniel Clyne for the right back slot at Southampton. The lad is renowned for his versatility but with Per Mertesacker given an extended break from his World Cup exertions, Chambers has featured as a center back alongside Laurent Koscielny.

The fans got a glimpse of what was to come in the Emirates Cup against Benfica. Despite the fact that Yaya Sanogo earned the plaudits for his goalscoring blitz, Chambers was among the standout performers, making neat tackles and showing off his composure. With the Emirates Cup out of the way, Chambers featured alongside Kos the Boss in the FA Community Shield and he put up another solid display against the defending Premier League champions.

Chambers challenging David Silva in the Community Shield

In his first competitive start for the Gunners against Crystal Palace, Chambers made four tackles, two interceptions and eight clearances, earning himself a WhoScored rating of 7.33. He also attempted 93 passes and 86 of them were accurate which equates to a pass completion percentage of 92.5%, which is utterly impressive if you ask me. If the Crystal Palace game was a step in his learning curve, the game against Besiktas was a stern test of his abilities.

Yes, he committed one error that almost proved costly for his side but Chambers hardly put a foot wrong all game long and he rightfully earned some plaudits from his manager,

“He [Chambers] won all his challenges made on a pitch that was not easy to play on. It was a difficult game played with frenetic pace.

“We could have won it but they had chances as well. In the end we didn’t lose and hopefully we will make it at home.

The ideal game plan is to score goals and not concede, but we will see and prepare for that.”

 

Wenger isn’t the only person that has been singing sweet tunes about the talented young lad. Wojciech Szczesny is a player that has been protected by his defensive rearguard thus far and in three games the Polish goalie has featured this season, he has conceded a goals – a thumping header from Crystal Palace’s Brede Hangeland in the Premier League curtain raiser at the Emirates.

  chambers

Szczesny has lavished praise on the lad (via Arsenal.com) for the way he has adapted quickly to life at the club and he firmly believes that the player has a bright future ahead of him,

“He’s been fantastic for us and adapted very quickly to being a centre back. He only came in pre-season so he hasn’t a lot of time to train with us in this position.

“You can’t tell that he’s only 19 years old, he looks like a very experienced centre back. He’s doing very well at the moment.”

With Arsenal’s German contingent returning back to first team action in this weekend’s crucial clash against Everton, it seems likely for Calum Chambers to be displaced from Koscielny’s side by the more experienced and influential vice-captain, Per Mertesacker, and with Mikel Arteta suffering an ankle injury on Tuesday, the BFG may be the man to lead the Gunners out in Goodison Park.

However, Arteta’s injury would lead to another question – Who would replace him in the holding role?

Many would believe that Mathieu Flamini would slot in easily to replace the Lego-haired Spaniard but a certain Arsene Wenger said that he sees Calum Chambers as a defensive midfielder. With many Arsenal fans clamoring for a holding midfielder, Arteta’s injury can serve as a catalyst for them to back their claims but Wenger knows what’s best for his team and he recently stated in his last press conference that he’s not close to signing anybody.

From the games I’ve seen thus far, I’ve been very delighted with what I’ve witnessed from this talented 19-year old.

Whether it’s at right back, center back or defensive midfield, all I can say is that the future is bright and that future is Calum Chambers.

Sayonara.

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Besiktas 0 Arsenal 0: Lackluster Performance, Nervy Result

 

Besiktas 0 – Arsenal 0

Ataturk Olympic Stadium (Champions League)

Player Ratings (via Arseblog News) – Match HighlightsWenger’s Press Conference

Following Arsenal’s late win over Crystal Palace, there was little time to rest as the Gunners flew to Turkey for a crucial clash against Besiktas. Arsene Wenger made two changes from the team that was victorious against Palace with Nacho Monreal stepping in for the injured Kieran Gibbs while Olivier Giroud played in Yaya Sanogo’s stead.

Right from kickoff, Demba Ba noticed that Wojciech Szczesny was off his line and he attempted an audacious attempt that almost embarrassed the goalie but he was alert to the danger. The home side put the Gunners under some intense pressure but the defensive rearguard stood firm to withstand wave after wave of some Turkish delightful attacks. Matt Debuchy even suffered a nasty gash to his shin while trying to clear the ball away from danger.

The pressure finally took its toll and almost reaped fruit when Ba latched onto a neat Olcay Sahan pass and side-footed the ball goalwards but Szczesny was on hand to make a superb save.

Mathieu Debuchy Arsenal Demba Ba Besiktas

Ba terrorized the Arsenal defense

Alexis Sanchez waltzed with the ball on the right flank before drilling it to Giroud’s path but the Frenchman failed to connect with the ball. Sanchez continued to stamp his authority on the game with another threaded ball to Santi Cazorla but the Spaniard to the ball on his stride before firing his shot wide.

Jack Wilshere was offered a chance at goal and he wasted no time in curling a shot that was saved by Zengin. A lapse in concentration allowed Demba Ba a sniff at goal but his effort missed by a lick of paint. Sanchez ran the show for the Gunners and fashioned some chances for Giroud but the Frenchman was having a torrid outing which was epitomized by this…

Aaron Ramsey had done amazingly well to tee the ball to Giroud’s path but the Frenchman couldn’t even control the ball, much to the exasperation of Arsenal fans watching the game.

At the start of the second half, Ramsey had a chance to shoot the ball but he dallied on the ball which allowed the Besiktas defense to cover their tracks. Ex-Gunner, Oguzhan Ozyakup split the Arsenal defense with a pass that was like hot knife through butter and his ball fell kindly to Olcay Sahan’s path but the bearded bloke curled his effort just beyond Szczesny’s far post.

Arsenal’s bad night went a whole lot worse when Mikel Arteta suffered an injury that required him to be substituted.

He was replaced by Mathieu Flamini that earned himself an expected booking as the game progressed.

Arsenal sparked into life when Sanchez and Debuchy connected well on the right but the French defender’s cut back to Giroud was blocked after the forward pulled the trigger. Sanchez then tried hard to make a surging run before feeding Giroud and as expected, he lost the ball, much to the frustration of his teammates and fans alike. With Sanchez having nothing left in the reserves, he was replaced by the Ox.

Late on, Monreal did well to create a free kick on the edge of the area after he was fouled by some bloke but Cazorla’s free kick was straight at the goalie. With 10 minutes to go or so, Ramsey earned himself an early bath for a stupidly hauling down Ozyakup and that put the Gunners in a rather precarious situation.

really foolish from Ramsey

Funnily enough, the Gunners had the chance to grab a vital away goal when a defensive error allowed the Ox to have a run at goal before he blasted a shot that was parried to the post by Zengin. Wilshere attempted to head the rebound but the Besiktas defense did enough to clear the ball to safety.

In the end, a draw was fair reflection of two team with shitty attacks and good defenders. Demba Ba might have performed better than Giroud on the night but his attempts on didn’t hit the back of the net, which was a good thing for the Gunners. However, Giroud’s case could only be settled in Mount Olympus.

All focus would be on the Everton game coming up this weekend. More on the game as we draw closer.

It was a lackluster

Besiktas Preview: Team News, Injury Updates and Predicted Lineups

Demba Ba would be a threat tonight

Unfortunately, there was no one to hold the fort on the blog while I was out for a week on official duty. Apologies for that… Every “Arseblogger” needs a “Tom” now and then tho… I’m sure you get my drift.

****

In my absence, the Gunners fought really hard to grind out a result against Crystal Palace but the stakes are a lot different in the Champions League qualifiers. Arsenal has followed this route a couple of times to get into the competition proper with their last encounter being a double-legged affair against Udinese Calcio. This time, the Gunners face a Besiktas SK side that has been in UEFA’s bad books after some match-fixing allegations.

The game will be played at Besiktas’s Ataturk Olympic stadium, the ground were Liverpool had that miraculous Champions League final victory over AC Milan in 2005. Under new manager, Slaven Bilic, the club has been revamped and the injection of an experienced striker like Demba Ba has bolstered their fortunes. Moroccan sensation, Younes Belhanda is also on his way from Montpellier but this game will be too soon for him.

Besiktas celebrating a goal against Feyernoord

Goals from Kerim Frei and Mustafa Pektemek handed Besiktas a 2-1 lead over Feyernoord in the first leg but a Demba Ba hat-trick in the second leg set the stage for a feisty encounter with the Gunners. Besiktas wouldn’t play any league football till the end of August, but they have two games against the Gunners before their Turkish SuperLig football action kicks off.

The Turks are unbeaten in their last 15 home games in all competitions, and they have won nine of those home encounters. Food for thought for the Gunners.

Besiktas fans will unfurl Turkey’s largest ever handmade banner

Turkish fans

Arsenal will arrive in Turkey in bullish mode, following their two victories over Manchester City and Crystal Palace. While the Man City game was very convincing, the same couldn’t be said about the Crystal Palace encounter even though the fans cared more about the points than the collective performance of the team.

Arsene Wenger can be proud of his achievements in the transfer window this summer but with Thomas Vermaelen off to Barcelona, Per Mertesacker not close to full fitness and Laurent Koscielny carrying a knock, the Gunners are desperately short at center half. The tabloids have been whispering about some Spartan bloke called Kostas Manolas, but as it stands, the Gunners have two young and inexperienced lads in the forms of Calum Chambers and Ignasi Miquel, as well as a make-shift center back, Nacho Monreal. Monreal will probably play in his featured left full back role with Kieran Gibbs suffering from yet another injury.

Arsene Wenger has even expressed his concerns ahead of the game,

“We are desperate to do it because we want to play in the Champions League and we know how big these games are, we had to give a lot [against Crystal Palace], hopefully we will recover and be ready for Tuesday night.

“We are desperate to go through, no matter what it costs we want to go through. We have always a difficult draw, we had Fenerbahce last year, this time we have Besiktas. It’s difficult.

“We will assess Koscielny on Monday; if he’s fit and capable to play, we play him. It was our plan to bring the Germans back in contention for Everton. But in case of emergency I will take Mertesacker.

“But we have Bellerin, who was 19 today, who can come in. we are a bit short. I hope Koscielny responds well to today’s game.”

Despite the Gunners’ defensive troubles, they are well stocked in other positions and I expect a very strong team from the boss. With David Ospina still nursing a thigh injury, I expect Wojciech Szczesny to continue in goal. The Pole had a scary moment with a poor clearance against Crystal Palace but he had Koscielny to spare his blushes. Matt Debuchy and Nacho Monreal will be at the fullback positions and I expect Chambers to start along Kos, if he passes a late fitness test.

Koscielny will pass the test and play today because he’s a beast. Just look at this…

In midfield, captain Mikel Arteta will play alongside a resurgent Jack Wilshere with Aaron Ramsey playing further ahead. The Welsh Jesus recently spoke about competitions for places in the squad and he hopes that everyone would be fit as the campaign progresses. Shad Forsyth, anyone? Santi Cazorla and Alexis Sanchez will support Olivier Giroud in attack, as the manager has confirmed that Yaya Sanogo has a “little” hamstring problem.

This would be the first meeting between both sides in European football and it promises to be an interesting encounter.

Recent form

Besiktas: LWW

Arsenal: WLWLWW

Possible starting lineups

Besiktas JK 3-4-3 football formationArsenal 4-2-3-1 football formation

Gooner Daily Prediction: 1 – 3

Enjoy the game wherever you are.

Sayonara.

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Arsenal 3 Manchester City 0: Another Trophy at Wembley!!!

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Arsenal 3 (Cazorla 22′, Ramsey 43′, Giroud 62′) – Manchester City 0

Wembley (Community Shield)

Player RatingsMatch HighlightsWenger’s Press Conference

Arsenal’s preseason form has had a somewhat hot and cold feel about it but the stakes were a lot more different with the curtain raiser before the grueling Premier League campaign starts. Arsene Wenger decided to keep the faith with a considerable chunk of the players that started against Monaco with consistency probably on his mind.

Arsenal almost drew first blood when Alexis Sanchez split the City defense with a carefully-threaded ball to Matt Debuchy that wasted no time in swinging a cross that was bound for Yaya Sanogo but the ball was intercepted before the lanky French lad could pounce. $amir Na$ri had grabbed the headlines for his pre-match comments about the fans but he had a claim for a penalty when his shot bounced off Debuchy. In the follow up, Scott Sinclair eased past Calum Chambers but his drilled effort was blocked.

With Man City failing to take the initiative, Arsenal instigated an attack that yielded fruit as Sanchez teed up Sanogo who in turn nudged the ball to an onrushing Santi Cazorla that skipped past Gael Clichy (played at right back) before drilling the ball past his formr SC Malaga teammate, Willy Caballero, to put the Gunners ahead.

The ambidextrous one doing his thing

Cazorla almost turned from scorer to provider when he threaded a neat through ball to Sanogo path and with the confidence the striker had on the back of his four-goal blitz against Benfica, the Frenchman fired a left-footed drive that went wide off the mark. Aleksandr Kolarov appeared on Debuchy’s blind side to drill a cross for Nasri but he miscued the ball, much to the amusement of the Arsenal fans in that part of the pitch. Edin Dzeko then used his pace to breeze past Chambers but his byline cross was blocked.

Arsenal doubled their money when Sanchez opened up play for Sanogo that dallied on the ball before feeding an onrushing Ramsey. The Welsh Jesus’ first touch was immaculate and his second touch from Midas himself. Caballero looked so hapless as Ramsey’s volley skipped past him.

Kolarov was having some joy on the left and he fired another cross that was intercepted by Chambers. The youngster controlled the ball and fed Alexis, that hit up a pass for Ramsey and used his raw reserves of pace to evade his marker. Ramsey’s through ball to Alexis was very inviting but the goalie had to play the role of sweeper to intercept the ball.

At half time, Wenger summoned the services of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Olivier Giroud and the Nacho Monreal continuous experiment in the middle.

Ramsey, Gibbs and Cazorla combined superbly on the left with the hobbit-sized Spaniard blasting a shot that hit the arm of Boyata but Arsenal’s penalty appeals fell on deaf ears.

Jesus Navas launched a long ball that was headed by Jovetic which brought out a save from Szczesny but the Montenegrin had a second bite at the cherry and he launched his shot into orbit. Scott Sinclair ran with the ball and it went out of the area but it was overlooked and he laid a pass to an unmarked Edin Dzeko that blasted a shot that was saved by Szczesny.

Arsenal added some icing on the cake when Debuchy fed Olivier Giroud that fired an audacious shot past Caballero to make it three.

What a strike from Giroud

There was even time for the fans to do the ‘Poznan’, Manchester City’s routine celebration when they are leading…

Arsenal brought on Mathieu Flamini to shore things up in midfield and there was also some time for Tomas Rosicky to come in for Santi Cazorla. Late on, Joel Campbell got a feel of some Wembley magic.

It was an awesome game to watch and it made so much sense watching it when many Nigerian Gooners in Bheerhugs Cafe Ikeja. The brain behind Canon Crested, Simon Itodo, came around and my close buddies, , , , , , , , Kelechi, and@daviruz graced the occasion. There was a lot of beer too to make us more merry.

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At the end of the game, Arsenal’s new captain, Mikel Arteta, lifted the trophy and took to Twitter to express his delight in being the No. 1 citizen of the club. Per Mertesacker has been promoted to the new role of vice-captain.

The good times are back again folks.

Crystal Palace comes up next.

Sayonara.

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