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Rating Arsenal’s Attackers’ Performances in the 2012/13 Season

Both players hit double figures and had great campaigns

Last season, Arsenal notched up to a century of goals with 72 goals scored in the Premier League, 13 in the Champions League, 14 in the Capital One Cup and six goals in the FA Cup.

Despite this somewhat impressive goal count, it’s disheartening to know that they were hard to come by when the Gunners played against their rivals at the top as well as some key fixtures in the course of the season, with the games against Bayern (first leg) Blackburn and Bradford coming to mind.

If the Gunners had managed to dispatch the League Two outfit, they would’ve geared themselves up for a two-legged semifinal berth against Aston Villa, and if they were successful against the Midlands outfit, a potential final against Chelsea or Swansea would have beckoned. Had the Gunners went one step forward in this season’s Capital One Cup final, the trophy bells would have been ringing.

The FA Cup offered a different proposition as the Gunners crashed out following an appalling performance against Blackburn. Had Arsene Wenger’s side won the team they successfully slammed seven goals at home last season, a sixth round clash against Millwall would have been on the cards before a semifinal clash against eventual winners, Wigan. If Arsenal beat all the aforementioned teams on the road to Wembley, a potential final clash against Chelsea or Manchester City would have followed.

So much for wishful thinking.

This is the final installment of a four-post series focused on Arsenal’s performances in the 2012/13 season. I’ve already published my ratings on the performances of the goalkeepersdefenders and midfielders but today’s post is focused on Arsenal’s goal getters.

Feel free to share your comments.

Andrey Arshavin: 11 Apps, One Goal, Five Assists

…The first goal on the night was from a Cesc Fabregas pass after some good work by Samir Nasri, he worked the second himself after some poor Liverpool defending, his hat-trick was gifted to him on a platter thanks to more atrocious defending from Liverpool and his fourth came from a brilliant counter attack that was started by Walcott.

That night, the Russian magician was simply four-midable and the Gunners were disappointed to know that he couldn’t be part of their impressive Champions League campaign because he was cup-tied from his involvement with his previous and only club, Zenit St. Petersburg.

After scoring six goals and supplying nine assists in just 15 games for Arsenal, Arshavin came second in Arsenal’s 2009 Player of the Season Poll despite coming in the second half of the campaign. Arsene Wenger, his teammates and most importantly, the fans waited anxiously to see what he could accomplish in a full season with the club… enigma106

Four years on and this is only a distant memory.

After an extremely disappointing campaign, Arshavin’s time with Arsenal is up as the club chose not to renew his contract. He was reduced to spending a lot of time in the dugout and when he came on, he looked rather uninterested.

He was pretty impressive in the Capital One Cup last season and his only significant Premier League moments include his late cross into the box that led to the goal against Queens Park Rangers and the penalty he won for his team against Fulham.

In what became his final appearance for the club, Arsene Wenger summoned him with 15 minutes left to play when the Gunners visited Stamford Bridge. With the Gunners trailing, they needed inspiration from anywhere but when the ball came to Arshavin’s path, he was found wanting.

Some say that he was played out of position, others said that his attitude was lackadaisical. I say that he’s a technically proficient player that began his career in the club like a house on fire but plummeted into mediocrity due to his lethargy and lack of work ethic.

Rating: 1/10

Gervinho: 26 Apps, Seven Goals, Five Assists

Gervinho will always be remembered for his penalty miss against Zambia in the 2012 African Cup of Nations. He returned to North London like a player haunted with his own demons and he couldn’t exorcise them for the remainder of the campaign.

After a decent preseason that was epitomized with a wonder goal against FC Cologne, Arsenal’s toothless nature in front of goal afforded the Ivorian a chance to start as a center forward.

He repaid his manager’s faith almost immediately with a well-taken brace against Southampton. The goals kept ramping up for Gervinho with Montpellier, Chelsea and Olympiakos on the receiving end of some Ivorian magic.

Shortly afterwards, a horrible run of form followed with Gervinho putting up appalling performances on a weekly basis. Then this happened…

Miss of the season

After that shocking miss against Bradford, Gervinho spent a lot of time on the bench and was given another chance to redeem himself when Wenger played him in the FA Cup tie against Blackburn with half an eye on the Bayern Munich fixture. Gervinho missed another glaring chance in that game as well, which Arsenal rued.

When we all thought his season was done, Gervinho came off the bench to score the match winner against Swansea before a Man of the Match performance against Reading where he scored a goal and created two assists. He continued his good form creating a goal for Tomas Rosicky against West Brom then he went on free fall again with another putrid performance against Norwich.

When Gervinho stated that he wants to remain at Arsenal and fight for his place, I can bet that a faction of the Arsenal faithful gnashed their teeth in anguish – including me. -_________-

Rating: 5/10

Marouane Chamakh: Three Apps, Two Goals, One Assist

There was a certain Moroccan sensation that played his entire career in Girondins de Bordeaux before switching to the Red half of North London. He started with a few goals during the preseason before forcing Pepe Reina to score an own goal on the opening day of last season in Anfield.

He scored his first goal on his home debut against recently relegated Blackpool before joining the party when Arsenal thrashed Bolton by 4-1 in September. He also scored on his Champions League debut in the 6-0 spanking of eventual Europa League finalists SC Braga and continued his personal scoring record in the competition that extended from his Bordeaux days.

He scored in his Arsenal’s second Champions League tie against Partizan before scoring the match winner against Birmingham City in mid-October. He scored again in Arsenal’s third Champions League game against Shakhtar and it seemed as if he was destined to score in every game of the Champions League as long as he played.

The goals dried up a bit but he found some form again in November scoring a brace against Wolves before scoring Tottenham and Aston Villa. Marouane Chamakh’s toe poke in Villa Park was his 10th goal in just 21 appearances averaging a goal every two games then Robin van Persie came along and Chamakh found himself relegated to the bench and featured in lowly Cup ties.

After going through 19 games two seasons ago and scoring only one goal, Chamakh was understandably frozen out last season because he had become a liability to the team rather than an asset.

Chamakh’s first appearance last season was rather perplexing, as he managed to score two goals from outside the box – a feat I don’t think he had ever achieved for the club. He featured for the Gunners in the dead-rubber fixture against Olympiakos in Athens and he was a rather peripheral figure, no different from his performance against Bradford.

Arsenal took a rather bold step to part ways with Denilson, I really hope they follow suit with Chamakh.

Rating: 1/10

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain: 33 Apps, Two Goals, Three Assists

It’s fair to say that the Ox suffered the well-renowned “second season syndrome” as he clearly failed to live up to the hype surrounding him in his first campaign in the Premier League.

The idea of Oxlade-Chamberlain expressing himself on a football pitch is something that has petrified many opposition defences since his arrival to the Premier League two seasons ago. The 19-year-old’s pace and ability to find a pass has already transformed him into an Arsenal regular and, should he continue his fine progression up the Gunners ranks, Oxlade-Chamberlain could be a starter in the England XI come next summer.

Last season, the Ox failed to assert himself and his chances diminished with Theo Walcott’s growing importance to the team. There was even a point when he was further down the pecking order behind Gervinho.

Despite his shortcomings, the Ox showed some glimpses of his undoubtedly quality and his wonder strike against Coventry City was a friendly reminder of what he was made of. He also scored a goal in that 7-3 thumping of Newcastle and his most important contribution last season was his neat cutback to Giroud the 3-1 win over Norwich.

Just went a draw seemed on the cards, the Ox popped up with an improvised flash of brilliance and whether it was a Giroud goal or Seb Bassong own goal, the ball entered the net thanks to the Ox.

The Ox is an unearthed talent and he’s one for the future.

Rating: 6/10

Lukas Podolski: 42 Apps, 16 Goals, 11 Assists

Lukas Podolski is a renowned center forward but his versatility ensures that he can be deployed in other attacking positions, as he can play in the hole behind the striker as well as the left wing position, where he has played for throughout his time at Arsenal with the exception of his debut against Sunderland, where he put up a disappointing show.

From then onwards, the manager deployed him on the left hand side and he bonded with that position, putting up stellar performances  as well as forging a telepathic understanding with Kieran Gibbs. However, there’s something that’s more certain than death, taxes and England losing on penalties – Lukas Podolski being substituted.

In all my years as a football fan, I’ve never seen a player more substituted than Podolski. Ever.

Arsenal’s Freddie Ljungberg had the unwanted record of being the most substituted player (21 times) in a season but Podolski made it look like child’s play. Whether he was downright unfit or carrying an injury as most cynics, it didn’t change the fact that it was a good debut season for the German.

The German machine scored all kinds of goals this season. Several placed efforts, headers, a lob against Wigan, a free kick against Southampton, a piledriver against West Ham and of course, this…

Rating: 8/10

Olivier Giroud: 47 Apps, 17 Goals, 12 Assists

I can vividly remember when a published an article on 10 things you need to know about Giroud, after he had completed his move from Montpellier in June 2012. 12 months on, let’s see if he ticked all the boxes in that article.

  • He’s a massive threat in the air – He proved this all season long supporting the team from set pieces defensively as well as scoring some goals with his head (Liverpool and Fulham)
  • He’s a classic target man – Holding up play, flick-ons, bringing others to the game, through balls and aerial duels were part and parcel of Giroud’s game last season.
  • He’s not injury prone - Out of 38 available Premier League games, Giroud missed three through a red card. He was an ever-present figure this season and his 47 appearances throughout the campaign is a testament of that.
  • He has his fair share of silverware – *coughs profusely* He won that in Montpellier :D
  • He’s close friends with Koscielny – You don’t need any soothsayer to tell you that
  • He’s highly rated by Wenger – The boss spoke about him in volumes and hopes for more next season.
  • He’s on Twitter – You can follow him @_OlivierGiroud_
  • He fits into Arsenal’s style of play – Check!
  • He offers Arsenal options in attack – Every fan saw how the attack crumbled following Giroud’s red card against Fulham.
  • He worked his way to the top – Grenoble – Istres – Tours – Montpellier – Arsenal…do the math.

Despite checking all these boxes and adding 17 goals to his name, Giroud struggled for form this season in patches and his record against the top four sides was quite disappointing. I don’t even want to start with the glaring misses.

He could do with some competition though.

Rating: 8/10

Theo Walcott: 43 Apps, 21 Goals, 17 Assists

I would describe Theo Walcott as fine wine – getting better with each passing season.

Arsenal’s top goalscorer, Theo Walcott, will look back to this season with a keen sense of pride. With Robin van Persie departing for greener pastures, Arsenal needed some players to step their games up and in all fairness, Walcott fell into that category.

The entertaining, enthralling and epic encounter between Reading and Arsenal in the Capital One cup would go down as one of the most pulsating matches in English football history but Walcott placed his mark on that fixture, scoring a stunning hat-trick. There was the brace against Coventry and a consistent run of goals in the course of the season, but when Walcott was deployed as a center forward against Newcastle in December, he rewarded his manager with another scintillating hat-trick.

Some may label the forward as a one-trick pony but Walcott’s efficiency in front of goal has been very clinical and the nature of his goals last season is a testament of these claims.

He opened his goalscoring account in the rout against Southampton before scoring a Thierry Henry-esque goal as well as another in the Coventry romp. He scored a decisive goal in the away victory over West Ham and followed it up with a scintillating hat-trick against Reading. The goals kept piling up as he opened the scoring against Schalke, got in on the act in the North London Derby and opened the scoring against Everton. There was still time for another goal against Reading before another hat-trick against Newcastle.

His hot streak continued against Chelsea, West Ham, Brighton and Liverpool then his goalscoring well dried up as he failed to record a single goal in February and March. At the tail end of April, he scored Manchester United before hitting the 20-goal mark against Queens Park Rangers. His final goal against Wigan contributed to their relegation.

However, Walcott struggled a bit when he was deployed as a center forward at Giroud’s expense last winter. His height was clearly an issue as he offered no threat from the air and wasn’t able to bring his teammate’s into the game with nice flicks and linkup moves.

The issue of his contract was also a very big thorn in Arsenal’s flesh but I’m glad he signed da ting.

This has been a great campaign for Walcott and I certainly hopes his builds on it because he’s one of the central figures at the club right about now.

Rating: 9/10

This is where the curtain closes on these series. I hope you enjoyed reading the articles as much as I enjoyed writing it.

The voting sequence for the 2012/13 End of Season awards is still ongoing, so feel free to make your votes count in the polls.

Happy Birthday Wilson Dike!!!

Sayonara.

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My Thoughts on Marouane Chamakh and his Shisha Incident

Shisha Boyz

There was a certain Moroccan sensation that played his entire career in Girondins de Bordeaux before switching to the Red half of North London. He started with a few goals during the preseason before forcing Pepe Reina to score an own goal on the opening day of last season in Anfield.

He scored his first goal on his home debut against recently relegated Blackpool before joining the party when Arsenal thrashed Bolton by 4-1 in September. He also scored on his Champions League debut in the 6-0 spanking of eventual Europa League finalists SC Braga and continued his personal scoring record in the competition that extended from his Bordeaux days.

He scored in his Arsenal’s second Champions League tie against Partizan before scoring the match winner against Birmingham City in mid-October. He scored again in Arsenal’s third Champions League game against Shakhtar and it seemed as if he was destined to score in every game of the Champions League as long as he played.

The goals dried up a bit but he found some form again in November scoring a brace against Wolves before scoring Tottenham and Aston Villa. Marouane Chamakh’s toe poke in Villa Park was his 10th goal in just 21 appearances averaging a goal every two games then Robin van Persie came along and Chamakh found himself relegated to the bench and featured in lowly Cup ties.

In recent times, Chamakh has been a ghostly figure on the pitch and the player that amassed a goal in two has currently scored just two goals with his last being against Blackburn in September 2011. It’s so unfortunate to see how his form waned like a player that returned from a long-term injury.

In the wake of Arsenal’s recent dent in form with a loss against Queens Park Rangers, Chamakh was pictured with his compatriot Adel Taarabt smoking a shisha pipe. Shisha is a waterpipe in which fruit-scented tobacco is burned using coal, passed through a water vessel and inhaled through a hose.

This has caused an uprising among journos, fans and even Arsene Wenger, who was reportedly “fuming” after hearing the news. It’s also funny to know that Arsenal has had dealings with smoking players in recent times.

Last year Laurent Koscielny was caught after the club’s end of season awards clutching a pack of cigarettes, while William Gallas was told his behaviour was ‘unacceptable’ in 2008 after the then captain was pictured outside a London nightclub with a cigarette in his mouth.

Many people believe that Chamakh smoking shisha isn’t a “big deal” but you’ll have to question the Moroccan’s professionalism. The fact that Adel Taarabt put a nail in Arsenal’s coffin on Saturday wasn’t enough, Chamakh accompanied him after the game to get him involved in a pot fest.

There’s no proof to justify if shisha is better/worse than smoking cigarettes but in my opinion, the timing was very wrong for Chamakh.

If he did it in the comfort of his home without any witnesses anywhere, the article probably wouldn’t have been in existence. Players have done worse, Chamakh hasn’t gone to interrupt any press conference or throw darts at an Arsenal intern.

He certainly hasn’t lighted his house up with fireworks. Way to go, Super Mario.

However, tales are emerging that Arsene Wenger and Mark Hughes should decide their fates but Chamakh has declared that he’s staying at Arsenal:

“Am I going back to Bordeaux? For now, no. I have spoken to Wenger and I will stay at Arsenal. I think he trusts my work and I will have opportunities in the first team.

“I left Bordeaux to improve as a player and I think I can continue for this club. My agents have been ordered to reject bids that come from other clubs because I want to prove I can be useful for the Gunners.”

With the potential arrival of Lukas Podolski, his chances of featuring will be further diminished.

In other Arsenal related news, Walcott believes that Ryodinho is ready to play for Arsenal, Robin van Persie shares how he evolved as a striker and the Ox remains calm despite claims for a Euro 2012 place.

I just shared my thoughts on Maroaune Chamakh and his shisha incident,

What’s yours.

Sayonara.

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Five reasons why Marouane Chamakh needs to leave Arsenal

Marouane Chamakh started his career in Girondins de Bordeaux before making a move to Arsenal last season on a free transfer. He started with a few goals during the preseason fixtures before forcing Pepe Reina to suffer the ignominy of an own goal on the opening day fixture when Arsenal played against Liverpool in Anfield.

He scored his first goal in his home debut against Blackpool before joining the party when Arsenal thrashed Bolton by 4-1 in September 2010. He also scored on his Champions League debut in the 6-0 spanking of eventual Europa League finalists SC Braga and continued his personal scoring record in the competition that extended from his Bordeaux days.

He scored in his Arsenal’s second Champions League tie against Partizan before scoring the match winner against Birmingham City in mid-October. He scored again in Arsenal’s third Champions League game against Shakhtar and it seemed as if he was destined to score in every game of the Champions League as long as he played.

The goals dried up a bit but he found some form again in November scoring a brace against Wolves before scoring Tottenham and Aston Villa. Marouane Chamakh’s toe poke in Villa Park was his 10th goal in just 21 appearances averaging a goal every two games but Robin van Persie’s return to full fitness saw Chamakh relegated to the bench and he featured in lowly Cup ties.

This season, Marouane Chamakh has been a ghostly figure on the pitch and he has scored just two goals in 2011 unlike Robin van Persie that has smashed 40 in the calendar year.

It’s so unfortunate to see how his form waned like a player that returned from a long-term injury but it’s fair to say that Chamakh’s days are probably numbered in the club.

Marouane Chamakh has been linked with moves back to France but he intends to spend the rest of the season with Arsenal before taking a decision this summer.

However, I feel it’s high time the Moroccan waves his goodbyes to the Gooners and here are five reasons why:

1.       Lack of Playing Time

Since the return to full fitness of Robin van Persie in the tail end of 2010, Marouane Chamakh has featured sparingly for Arsene Wenger’s side. The manager plays with a sole striker and van Persie has always gotten the nod ahead of Chamakh.

Chamakh played a lot of games in the start of his Arsenal career due to the fact that van Persie and Nicklas Bendtner were out of action nursing injuries. After van Persie’s return, Chamakh played only in Carling Cup and FA Cup ties and scored his first goal in four months in the 5-0 drubbing of Leyton Orient in March.

Chamakh’s last goal for Arsenal came in September 2011 (six months since his last goal) in the puzzling 4-3 defeat against Blackburn.

2.       Arsenal’s Style of Play

Arsene Wenger’s football philosophy involves his side playing the ball on the ground with a lot of movement off the ball and intricate passing and it’s fair to say that Arsenal hasn’t really played to Marouane Chamakh’s strengths.

Chamakh is a forward that’s renowned for his work rate and superb aerial ability but Arsenal’s full backs haven’t really fed the Moroccan with his bread and butter. His first ever Arsenal goal was scored with his head against Blackpool but he hasn’t really gotten a constant supply of aerial balls into the box.

The funny thing is that Chamakh tends to spend more time outside the box but this is because he’s trying to fit into Arsenal’s style of play that involves a lot of linkup play.

Chamakh needs to move club that floats balls into the box at every opportunity. If he played for a Rugby outfit like Stoke City, Matthew Etherington and Jermaine Pennant would have floated in a lot of balls into the opposition’s area.

Let’s not forget that they also have a not-so-secret weapon called Rory Delap.

3.       Low Confidence Level

Chamakh was a striker that was never afraid to have a go at goal at the start of his Arsenal career but he has shown lack of ability and quality in the recent games he has played for Arsenal. I have a big hunch that his lack of playing time contributed to his lethargic performances so he needs to move to a new club whose manager will give him that “lift” he clearly seeks.

Should Arsene Wenger delve into the transfer market to purchase a new striker, it would be clear for everyone to see that he doesn’t believe that Chamakh is good enough to be Robin van Persie’s number two.

4.       Fresh Start

Even if Marouane Chamakh has spent just two seasons in England, I’m in the opinion that the Moroccan forward is in dire need of a fresh challenge from another club in Europe.

He has been linked with a move back to France and it would be nice for the Moroccan to go back to “familiar surroundings” in Paris or the south of France. Wherever his potential destination might be, a fresh start may be needed to reignite his waning career.

5.       Going down the pecking order

Many Gooners might feel that Marouane Chamakh still remains Arsenal’s number two striker after Robin van Persie but Arsene Wenger has hinted that he’ll soon start giving chances to the Korean forward Park Chu-Young.

Park took his chance well his Arsenal debut in the Carling Cup 3rd round against Bolton with a superb curling effort that sent the Emirates into raptures. Park wasn’t really impressive against Marseille in the Champions League but he’s eased slowly into the side.

If Wenger decides to buy a new striker in the winter transfer window, Chamakh will certainly go down the pecking order.

Summary

Marouane Chamakh is a decent player that deserves to play week in week out but he’s clearly not getting that at the moment in Arsenal.

Unlike Nicklas Bendtner that spent countless weeks whining about lack of playing time, Chamakh has been silent on the issue and he recently expressed his frustration by saying that he won’t be in the fringes forever.

In as much as I’d like Chamakh to stay, I feel it’s high time to cash in on the Moroccan forward to make a quid or two from a player that cost Arsenal…nothing.

Sayonara.

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Arsenal to visit Nigeria, Chamakh considers his future and more injury worries

Andre Santos is out till Spring

When Arsene Wenger and his Gunners booked a flight to Athens to play Olympiakos Pireaus in Spyros Louis, the gooners expected a simple run-out that had little or no consequence on the final standings as Arsenal’s resounding win over Borussia Dortmund was good enough to seal top spot in Group F.

Arsenal played against Olympiakos in a similar situation on the 9th of December 2009 but Arsene Wenger did well to rest his big guns and hand a chance to the younger ones coming up. Lukasz Fabianski was between the sticks and he had a defense composed of Kerrea Gilbert, debutant Kyle Bartley, the calamitous captain of the night Mikael Silvestre and the Mission Impossible star Tom Cruise.

The midfield had upcoming stars like Aaron Ramsey and Fran Merida with Alex Song doing the dirty work in front of the back four. Jack Wilshere, Theo Walcott and Carlos Vela completed the front three as Arsenal went down valiantly courtesy of a goal from a bloke named Leonardo.

Questions were raised when Thomas Vermaelen led the Gunners out last week Tuesday as the fans felt that he was amongst the players that deserved a night out but the Belgian was involved in the first Arsenal casualty of the game following a clash with his own goalkeeper. In another situation, it might have been the other way round with Fabianski still in action while the Verm could have been out with a head injury or worse.

Olympiakos wanted the game more than Arsenal so it was expected that they’ll be involved in some crunching tackles but the moment of despair came when Andre Santos got injured and was stretched off. He played a bit but he clearly struggled so he was replaced by a player that was meant to start in his stead, Ignasi Miquel.

After the game, Santos told everyone that he was going to be out for just three weeks:

“I twisted my ankle in a silly move, The doctor thinks I’ll be out for three weeks.”

I hate to be a bearer of bad news but the Brazilian was gravely wrong because it has been confirmed that he’ll be out for the best part of three months as he’s to undergo surgery to repair the ligaments in his right ankle.

This news comes at a very bad time for Arsene Wenger as the Frenchman is already without Bacary Sagna, Carl Jenkinson and Kieran Gibbs. Arsenal fielded four recognized center backs against Everton and despite being solid at the back, they offered little or no threat upfront.

Thomas Vermaelen did superbly well to keep Seamus Coleman locked in a cage and he supported Gervinho on a few occasions but Johan Djourou didn’t offer any help to Theo Walcott but it wasn’t really needed as the pacey winger tore Leighton Baines to shreds.

The January transfer window is around the corner and the likelihood of Arsenal buying a new full back is slim to none. Vermaelen is adept playing as a full back but his presence will be sorely missed in the heart of the Arsenal defense.

Arsenal’s Marouane Chamakh was heralded as a great bargain by Arsene Wenger last season following his free transfer from Girondins Bordeaux that saw him net 10 times in his first 21 appearances.With Robin van Persie nursing an ankle injury and Nicklas Bendtner recuperating from his groin surgery, Chamakh played a lot of games in the first half of  the season but with the return to fitness of the captain, the striker has been in the fringes of Arsenal.

Unlike Bendtner, Chamakh has been the silent type that would say a good thing or two while hoping for Wenger to give him another shot but it seems as if frustration is creeping in as the Moroccan has told everyone that he cannot stay in the fringes forever.

However, his agent Pierre Ferlot has hinted that he won’t be rejoining Bordeaux. He says that his client’s short-term priority is to do well with his country in the upcoming African Cup of Nations then he’ll finish the season at Arsenal. He also said that there’ll be an “important decision to make” in the summer and I’m pretty sure we all  know what that means.

Sticking with transfer tidbits, Wenger has ruled out a January move for Lyon’s French playmaker and his long-term admirer Yoann Gourcuff. There are also speculations that the Gunners are planning a 15m bid for Valencia’s in-form striker Roberto Soldado as the perfect backup for RVP while Marseille has ruled out a sale for their hobbit Mathieu Valbuena.

As a proud Nigerian, I’ve supported Arsenal Football Club since the days Merlin was the Chief Wizard of Camelot and I’ve been faithful to the club by getting my fair share of merchandise as well as watching every single game, from playing the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea, Barcelona et al to friendlies against clubs with scary names by Szombathelyi Haladas.

It gives me utmost joy to write that the club is planning a pre-season tour to my own backyard in July 2012. The club has also canceled the annual Emirates Cup because of the 2012 London Olympics and it will be a massive event in the country because Nigeria boasts of the largest Arsenal fan base in Africa.

I can remember when Cesc Fabregas tweeted at Goodluck Jonathan after he won the Presidential elections in April:

If I got 10 pounds from the amount of retweets and replies he got from the Nigerians on Twitter, I would have been able to match the bid Barcelona made for him.

The quote of the day goes to @ArsenalEffect. The quote was culled from his post tagged “Arsenal to tour Naija” in the online community for Nigerian Gooners called WaZoBia Gooners:

Wherever Arsenal’s matches will be played, let’s show everyone that the gooners own Naija. God willing, I would be there even if it is in Boko Haram headquarters.

Sayonara.

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Tony Adams quits job, Chamakh to stay put and more on Van Persie

While every Arsenal fan looks forward to another Premier League weekend with three points more or less in the bag, so much speculation has been made about the team that is going to make the feat happen. With all due respect to Norwich City, I feel that Arsenal will be too strong for them but the unpredictability of football is a factor that can never be underestimated.

Marouane Chamakh has been on the headlines recently with the Moroccan being linked with a move outside Arsenal and there was going to be a point in time when he was going to let everyone know his intentions for the club at the moment.

The forward spoke to the media Vultures about Arsene Wenger’s 4-2-3-1 formation that permits the use of one lone striker. He explained that he’d love to be playing every week but the club is currently excelling with the tactic so he used team before self” quotes:

“It would be better for me if we played with two strikers but that’s the system and the way of playing here, I respect that and it’s working very well.”

I have to commend Chamakh on the way he has handled this situation. Nicklas Bendtner was faced with something similar so he decided to climb the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, unveil a megaphone with a sound intensity louder than a Rock star’s electric guitar before screaming out loud that he wanted to leave the club.

While the likes of Borussia Dortmund, Sevilla, Besktas and Sporting CP hovered around him like vultures, Steve Bruce offered him a chance to get many games under his belt and his cause was further helped with the exits of Danny Welbeck to his parent club and Asamoah Gyan to that Arab Money outfit.

Chamakh ended it all by saying that he’s happy at Arsenal and would like to stay at the club for a long time. The battle for the right to be called van Persie’s deputy is solely between Chamakh and Park Chu-Young but Arsene Wenger has the final say on the player that will take unto the pitch.

Whether the player wears jersey number 10, 9 or 29, the gooners don’t really care as long as the balls are planted at the back of the opposition’s net.

Robin van Persie has also been in the news lately for more reasons than one but the latest news emanating from his camp is that the Dutch forward has acknowledged Arsene Wenger for his rich vein of form. Even if most of the credit will go to van Persie, Arsene Wenger has to be given a pat on the back for buying him in the first place and sticking to him throughout his prolonged injury periods.

Many managers are not that patient with some players and we’ve seen how many players careers have gone downhill due to constant injury woes. Van Persie also paid a little tribute to Theo Walcott in his role as Mr. Provider for quite an amount of goals he has scored in 2011. There was a point last season when Walcott had 10 assists or so and ALL of the them were converted by van Persie.

Walcott on the other hand has expressed his delight over the impact made by Gervinho and Jenkinson. Gervinho’s talent is unquestionable while Jenkinson has matured with each passing game.

Tony Adams is a legend that has been renowned for being Mr. Arsenal. He served the club with all his heart from 1982 to 2002 (20 years) and notched up an impressive 504 league appearances for the Gunners and went on to win a boatload of trophies in his time at the club.

As expected from any footballer that had been in the game that long, he opted for club management and he got his first start just a year after retiring as the manager of Wycombe Wanderers. Adams couldn’t prevent the club from being relegated so he parted ways with the club.

Following a few coaching roles in Holland, Tony Adams returned back to management but had to settle for the position of Number 2 in the Portsmouth football hierarchy beside Twitchy Ol’ Harry Redknapp. When Redknapp left for greener Tottenham pastures, Adam was advanced to the role of manager but he managed Portsmouth for only 10 league games before getting sacked in February 2009.

After finding out that the grass of a Football Manager is certainly not easy on the other side, Adams got another good break when an Uzbek outfit called FC Gabala approached him for his services. After just 16 months in charge, Adams has packed his bags again and has given the cause for the action, family:

“I came to Gabala with big ambitions, wanting to build a strong club and share experiences. It has been an interesting time and hoped that I could achieve something here.”

“However, due to family problems, I have to leave the club. It is hard to leave the management and players, but family is more important to me.”

I certainly hope that there’s nothing wrong with Adams’ family and I wish him all the best.

To wrap it all up, Kieran Gibbs will be out for a while after going under the knife to solve his hernia issues, Fiorentina is ready to sell Juan Manuel Vargas to Arsenal and many clubs have been put on alert in the wake of Owen Coyle’s comments that he’s resigned to selling Gary Cahill in the winter transfer window.

Sayonara.

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