Blog Archives

Why Have We Become so Preditable?

Bafetimbi Gomis

At the turn of the New Year, Arsenal hit the kind of form champions would exhibit and with Manchester City faltering in their title charge, second place looked certain for Arsene Wenger and his men. With nine wins on the bounce, Chelsea arrived at the Emirates with a game plan that worked out well for Jose Mourinho and his team. As expected, Arsenal had more possession but Chelsea had more shots as well as efforts on target. The Blues went on to beat Crystal Palace and seal the title but the message was clear, if you smother Arsenal enough, you can actually go home with a point.

Arsenal visited Hull and it seemed like service as usual but when Gary Monk and his Swansea hordes came to the Emirates, he adopted a defensive setup that left no stones upturned. With Gyifl Sigurdsson playing a ‘false nine’ role, Swansea lacked a focal point in attack and their defending was very resolute. Lukasz Fabianski might have received the Man of the Match award but in my honest opinion, it was a case of Arsenal’s poor finishing, rather than the Polish goalie’s heroics. Arsenal’s first shot on target came in the 59th minute but they mustered nine in total. Of their 23 shots, 17 came in the second half. The Gunners bossed the possession stats but it counted for nothing as Bafetembi Gomis and the much talked-about Goal Decision System contributed to the Gunners’ woes.

Old Trafford was a different proposition with the home side reducing the Gunners to having no shot on goal in the first 45 minutes. A defeat would have put the Gunners chances of finishing in third place under threat but thanks to Theo Walcott / Tyler Blackett for making sure that Manchester United go through the stress of playoffs next season. Walcott has been having good cameos but that’s a tale for another blog post.

After the long wait for the so-called game in hand, Arsenal and Sunderland lined up at the Emirates with the visitors needing a point to secure their Premier League status for another season at least. Dick Advocaat tore a script from the Jose Mourinho / Garry Monk manual – smother the Gunners and deny them space, they’d do nothing! Arsenal had a whopping 75 percent possession as well as 28 shots attempt and paltry eight on target but Costel Pantilimon went back home with a clean sheet. When Vito Mannone came up against his former side, he was beaten twice.

For the third home game in a row, the Gunners have failed to register a goal and have been very predictable from an attacking standpoint. The goals have just dried up like some well in the Kalahari desert. The usually reliable goalscoring sources have found it hard to score with Olivier Giroud on the spotlight for enduring a rather shitty run of form. Following criticism from SkySports pundit, Thierry Henry, Giroud has hit back,

‘I heard he was saying too many dull things. That was a bomb and it had its desired effect’

Giroud is the alpha-dog in Arsenal’s attack but other players haven’t stepped up in recent weeks. While we can associate Santi Cazorla’s recent lack of goals due to his new deep-lying role in midfield, the same cannot be said for Mesut Ozil, that has had many opportunities he chose to create for his teammates rather than execute himself. Alexis Sanchez is another player that has blown cold in recent weeks but his double against Hull was a reminder of his ability.

Arsenal has only West Brom left before the FA Cup final with Aston Villa and I only hope they can get their shooting boots again.

They have become so predictable and it’s a challenge that has to be mitigated.

Sayonara.

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

You can follow Gooner Daily on Twitter  @goonerdaily. I’ll follow back

Feel free to visit Gooner Daily’s  Facebook page and click on the like button.

You can also join Gooner Daily’s Mailing List to get notifications of new posts by email by clicking on the Follow button

Sunderland Preview: Team News, Injury Updates and Predicted Lineups

The last time both teams met in the League, Alexis Sanchez was in a mean streak of goalscoring form and the Gunners bagged all three points. A lot has happened since then with the Gunner securing Champions League football for the umpteenth time while Sunderland continue to fight for their Premier League lives. Arsenal have won seven and lost none of their last 10 Premier League matches against Sunderland. Sunderland have won just one of their last 22 Premier League games against Arsenal, and are winless in the last 10 (D3, L7).

Three of the last six meetings at the Emirates between these sides have ended in goalless draws. Arsenal have failed to register a first-half shot on target in their last two games.

Sunderland’s gaffer, Dick Advocaat, has remained positive about avoiding the drop, especially with two daunting fixtures against Arsenal and Chelsea (both away).

“Normally, if you have 37 points, you’re safe. But we will go on until the end and we have to do what we have to do to get that point. The other teams have to do what they have to do too, and win their games. We have to make it as hard as possible defensively and be sharp. Maybe we can do something sneaky like we did at Everton. We will stay up, I have no doubts about that.”

If Sunderland had secured maximum points against Leicester, this would have been a dead-rubber fixture. Arsenal need a point to secure third place to avoid the drama of going through playoffs yet again. Let Manchester United worry about that. However, if Hull defeats the Red Devils and Sunderland lose to Arsenal and Chelsea, they’d be relegated. No doubt.

Lee Cattermole received his 14th booking of the season on Saturday, the joint-most in a PL season, level with Mark Hughes, Robbie Savage and Cheick Tioté. All 14 have been for fouls. Lee Cattermole will become the first player to receive 15 Premier League yellow cards in a single season. He would also earn a three-game ban. My money is on the young thug to get another booking.

No side has drawn as many games as Sunderland (8) at home, while Burnley are the only side to score fewer goals in front of their own fans.

Team News

34% of the goals Arsenal have conceded this season have been from headers, the highest proportion in the top flight. Batefembi Gomis was the last person to add to this stat with Andre Herrera’s goal coming with his foot. This means that the Gunners would have to be wary about the threat Sunderland could pose from set pieces.

Arsene Wenger expects them to take the ‘Swansea approach’ because they need a point to secure their status in the League. Let’s just hope that the Gunners wouldn’t be as profligate as they were in their last home game. Speaking of profligate, Olivier Giroud has failed to score in his last six league and cup games but he has a decent record against the Black Cats with three goals scored in his last four games against the outfit. He’d be hoping to end his drought tonight.

Injury Updates

Arsenal: Matt Debuchy (hamstring), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (hamstring), Mikel Arteta and Abou Diaby (lacking match fitness), Danny Welbeck (knee), Laurent Koscielny (illness)

Sunderland: Wes Brown, Jordi Gomez and Ricky Alvarez (knee), Liam Bridcutt (knock),  Jack Rodwell (hamstring), Billy Jones (muscle)

Team Form

Arsenal

  • Last Five Games: W D W L D
  • Last Result: Manchester United 1 Arsenal 1
  • Leading Goalscorer: Alexis Sanchez (24)

Swansea

  • Last Five Games: L D W W D
  • Last Result: Sunderland 0 Leicester 0
  • Leading Goalscorer: Connor Wickham and Jordi Gomez (6)

Predicted Lineups

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

Swansea (4-3-3): Pantilimon; Reveillere, O’Shea, Coates, Van Aanholt; Bridcutt, Cattermole, Larsson; Defoe, Fletcher, Wickham

Gooner Daily says 3 – 0 to the Arsenal

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

You can follow Gooner Daily on Twitter  @goonerdaily. I’ll follow back

Feel free to visit Gooner Daily’s  Facebook page and click on the like button.

You can also join Gooner Daily’s Mailing List to get notifications of new posts by email by clicking on the Follow button

 

I’d Love to Have Petr Cech at Arsenal, Wouldn’t You?

Picture yourself being Petr Cech, arriving at Chelsea as a young lad from French outfit, Stade Rennais, to understudy Carlo Cudicini.

As fate would have it, Cudicini would suffer an elbow injury in preseason, which allowed Jose Mourinho to promote you to become the first choice goalie at such a young age. You repay his faith with 21 clean sheets, as well as conceding only 15 goals all season in the Premier League (six in Stamford Bridge, nine away). And yeah, the defensive record plays a vital role in your team’s Premier League triumph in 50 years. The next season, you retain the Premier League, win the Czech Footballer of the Year award as well as the IFFHS World’s Best Goalkeeper for that year.

The world is at your feet, you’re well recognized in the beautiful game then on that fateful day in October 2006, Stephen Hunt inadvertently cracks your skull and you’re out injured for a couple of months. You come back strong and keep eight consecutive clean sheets, winning the Player of the Month award for the first time in your career.

As the years go by, the trophies continue to pile up. Four Premier League titles, four FA Cups, three League Cups, two Community Shields, one Champions League and one Europa League. The individual awards for your performances are endless; Premier League Golden Gloves (three times), Czech Footballer of the Year (seven times), Czech Golden Ball (eight times), UEFA Best Goalkeeper (three times), PFA Team of the Year (twice) and even the Chelsea Player of the Year (once).

While basking in the euphoria of being Chelsea’s undisputed No. 1 with the likes of Hilario, Mark Schwarzer and co. playing second fiddle, Chelsea sign a promising young goalkeeper from Genk. At 17, he won the accolades of being the Belgian League’s Goalkeeper of the Year award as well as the Genk Player of the Year award. ‘He’s still a kid’, you thought. ‘Maybe I should mentor him’. You were not afforded the chance to mentor the lad because he was farmed out on loan to Atletico Madrid that needed a replacement goalie after the departure of David de Gea to Manchester United.

After 154 appearances in three seasons for Atletico, as well as winning the La Liga, Copa del Rey, Europa League and UEFA Super Cup coupled with some individual accolades such as the La Liga Zamora Trophy (twice), La Liga Goalkeeper of the Year (once), Best Belgian Player Abroad (twice) and Belgian Sportsman of the Year (once), Thibaut Courtois was returning to Chelsea and you, Petr Cech, your place was under threat.

Your fears were realized when Courtois made his debut while you sat on the bench, something you weren’t used to in your illustrious career. Little did you know that you were going to see a whole lot of that as the campaign progressed. Your first game in the season came in Capital One clash against Bolton. After several games on the bench, you managed to get a start against Maribor and resumed your bench duties as the Premier League campaign continued. Your first League appearance came in December when Courtois got injured and you did well to keep a clean sheet.

The winter transfer window was open and the third-choice goalie, Mark Schwarzer, joined Leicester City. You were disgruntled due to lack of playing timer and was heavily linked with a move to AS Roma but your cuntbag of a manager told you that you’re going nowhere and you’d have to wait to the summer to decide your future.

You managed to get a start in the Capital One Cup final against Tottenham and you didn’t play any game till April, in the 3-1 win over Leicester. Last night, you sat on the bench as West Brom took your teammates to the cleaners but it’s evident that you’re officially the back up goalie to the new kid on the block. He has made 38 appearances in his debut season with Chelsea, you’ve been reduced to just 15.

Now your agent has dropped the bombshell that would make this summer quite interesting.

*leaving Petr Cech first-person mode*

With Manchester United set to lose de Gea to Real Madrid, the media has tipped Hugo Lloris as his successor but Cech will be a good option for them. Cech is a world-class goalkeeper that has been downright consistent over the years and signing him from Chelsea will be a great step going forward because in my honest opinion, he’s a better goalie than Wojciech Szczesny and David Ospina. At 32, he is a vastly experienced individual and he can offer the club three to four years of his career before deciding to retire in Sparta Prague or something.

In terms of cost, Cech is an aging goalie that is bent on leaving the club and he’d be available for a cut-down price but the only stumbling block I’d see is Jose Mourinho. With PSG, Man United and other clubs interested, I feel that he’d rather sell to them than Arsenal.

Let’s see how things go this summer.

I’d love to have Petr Cech at Arsenal, wouldn’t you?

Sayonara.

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

You can follow Gooner Daily on Twitter  @goonerdaily. I’ll follow back

Feel free to visit Gooner Daily’s  Facebook page and click on the like button.

You can also join Gooner Daily’s Mailing List to get notifications of new posts by email by clicking on the Follow button

Lord Bendtner to Feature at the Emirates Cup this Summer

Don’t we all love the Lord? The self-proclaimed best striker in the world?

After notching 171 appearances and scoring 47 goals for Arsenal, Lord Bendtner decided that he was too great to play for the Gunners so he packed his bags and worked with his agent to get him a new club. It did not take long for the Lord to find a new club, as VFL Wolfsburg came calling for his services. The Wolves manager, Dieter Hecking, had some great words to say about Lord Bendtner,

“We want to play a good role in all three competitions this season, and to do this we need players who already know what this kind of challenge is all about. Nicklas embodies precisely the kind of striker we were looking for. He fits the profile and is going to strengthen our squad.”

Hecking wanted the greatest striker that ever lived and he got it. Wolfsburg asked the Lord the number he’d prefer to wear bearing in mind that he had worn the numbers 26, 52 and finally 23 at Arsenal. The Lord in his infinite wisdom chose Number three. At least, he didn’t give any long story of how he chose the number, unlike when he switched from 26 to 52 at Arsenal,

“Before the season starts, I wanted to change my squad number from 26, which I’ve obviously had for a number of seasons. I chose to move to 52 because it’s a special number to me personally, and I hope that it brings me good luck for the new season. I appreciate that a good number of fans have bought their kits for 2009–10 already with names and numbers printed up so I’d like to personally cover the cost of replacing anyone’s shirt that has my previous number. It means a lot to see supporters wearing your name and number, and I want to ensure people aren’t inconvenienced by the change.”

Lord!!

Since the Lord moved to Wolfsburg, he has had to contend with the club’s leading goalscorer, Bas Dost, that has netted 19 goals with 16 of them coming in the Bundesliga. The Lord, on the other hand, has played only 19 games for Wolfsburg, scoring only three goals. A penalty against Kransnodar in the Europa League, a goal in the 3-2 defeat to Schalke and a late strike against Inter Milan in the Europa League. By Bendtner’s egotistical standards, that’s quite poor but he’s a Lord, he doesn’t give a shit.

I’ve learned that Arsenal has invited Villarreal, Olympique Lyonnais and VFL Wolfsburg for this summer’s Emirates Cup which ultimately means that the Lord will grace the Emirates once again in front of a crowd that once called him ‘Lord, Lord’. While his form at club level hasn’t been anything to write home about, his form on the international scene has caught the eye with the striker bagging a hat-trick against the United States in March, taking his tally to 29 goals in 66 games for Denmark.

I’m very sure that the Lord would be relishing the prospect of coming to the Emirates again and I expect him to get a great reception from the fans. In his last season with the Gunners, he only made 14 appearances but he scored two vital goals against Hull and Cardiff but succumbed to an ankle injury when he was just finding his feet again at the club.

The Emirates Cup would have a pedestrian feel to it because it’s a friendly tournament but seeing the Lord play on the pitch for new employers would be a pleasant sight for the fans. The tournament takes place in late July, so there’s a lot of football to be played between now and then.

Let’s just remember that the Lord Bendtner would feature in that tournament.

Sayonara.

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

You can follow Gooner Daily on Twitter  @goonerdaily. I’ll follow back

Feel free to visit Gooner Daily’s  Facebook page and click on the like button.

You can also join Gooner Daily’s Mailing List to get notifications of new posts by email by clicking on the Follow button

Welbeck Fit Again – Will He Start Ahead of Giroud?

image

So I’m heading to Osubi Airstrip to board a flight to Lagos after a great time in Wellington hotel at Warri. One of the perks that comes with working in an Oil and Gas company, but I think I’m trying to get that balance between work and of course, blogging about the club I love.

The last time the Gunners visited Old Trafford, thethy came on the end of such a dismal record against Manchester United. The home side wasn’t in the best form but they took some measure of confidence in the fact that they didn’t have to turn up to defeat Arsenal. Even David Moyes took four points off Arsene Wenger despite spending just 10 months with the club. That speaks in volumes.

We all know how that game panned out on a cold Monday night at Old Trafford. Nacho Monreal showed off the composure of a prolific center forward to side foot the ball past a hapless David de Gea. Shrek got the equalizer for the home team after receiving a peach of a cross from Angel di Maria but the match was settled when former United boy, Danny Welbeck, anticipated a tame Antonio Valencia back pass, rounded the goalie and slot the ball to an unguarded net.

Sadly, that has been Welbeck’s last goal for the club. In 31 appearances for Arsenal, Welbeck has scored only eight goals and in all honesty, that’s a poor return from the forward – something he has acknowledged himself.

He has had some fitness problems this season, with his knee being a constant thorn in his flesh but according to this report from the Mirror, Welbeck will be fit to play his former team, Manchester United, this Sunday. With Olivier Giroud currently going through a very bad patch of form, coupled with Welbeck’s motivation in playing his former team, would you select the Englishman ahead of Giroud? The Frenchman was in a purple patch of form and was scoring for fun but since Thierry Henry making some comments about him not being good enough for a title winning side, Giroud has looked out of sorts. His overall contribution has somewhat diminished and his usually reliable finishing has become questionable.

Would he benefit from getting a breather with the Gunners playing twice in three days? After the showdown with Manchester United, Arsenal hosts Sunderland, a team fighting to secure their Premier League status. With QPR and Burnley relegated, they could be joined by Hull, Newcastle, Sunderland, Leicester and maybe Aston Villa so every point is vital.

I would want to start Welbeck against his former club but the Englishman just returned to fitness so I expect that it would take a while before he can get into the hang of things. Giroud isn’t playing as well as he’d like but he has to step up his game at Old Trafford because a defeat for the Gunners would see them drop to fourth place, which would be very disheartening, especially with the way they’ve played in recent weeks.

It’s really funny what a loss can do to a team.

It’s almost time for me to catch a plane.

Sayonara

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 9,251 other followers