Blog Archives

Good News on Injuries Ahead of Liverpool Clash

So, i’m on my way to the airport ahead of my trip to Abuja. It’s Easter baby, and it affords me the chance to chill with the fam. This also means that I’m going to see the game with the Mrs. and @dkingpin, my brother from an Mbaise mom.

The international break is over and we can now focus on the final surge for a Champions League berth and of course, the FA Cup semifinal. Arsene Wenger would need every player he has at his disposal and it’s very encouraging to know that four of the injured lot, Abou Diaby, Jack Wilshere, Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Debuchy are back in the mix. The quartet played a closed door friendly against Brentford where the Gunners ran out as 4-0 winners.

Wilshere did well to get a goal and assist to his name and when you consider the fact that his last match for the Gunners was as far back as November, you’d be hoping that his injury problems are now behind him. Wilshere is one player that the fans have always favored as he’s Arsenal through and through but injuries have dented his progress as a footballer times without number. It’s really interesting to see how Wenger manages the Wilshere situation, especially when the likes of Aaron Ramsey and Santi Cazorla can be deployed in the box to box role.

Francis Coquelin’s remarkable appearances have made the fans to forget that the captain, Mikel Arteta, still exists but like Wilshere, I hope his injury problems are over. Arteta last featured for the team in the game against Dortmund and he had to go under the knife to fix a Wilfried Bony Tottenham, or spur, as the doctors would call it. I don’t see Arteta displacing Coquelin from the first team but I’d envisage that Wenger would deploy the elder statesman when he wants to see games out because he’s experience and calm will be vital to the team.

Debuchy is one player I expect to walk into the team following his return to full fitness. The former Newcastle man has ensured an injury-ravaged season and would be hoping to make up for lost time. In his absence, Hector Bellerin and Calum Chambers put decent shifts in that position, and I expect them to get some more game time between now and the end of the season.

Finally, there’s the curious case of Abou Diaby. Believe it or not, his last and only appearance this season was against Southampton in September and he has been out injured since. When I saw pictures of the players in the friendly game, it was really nice seeing the Frenchman in action. With his current deal set to expire this summer, I have a hunch that the team would want to cut their losses by allowing him leave on a free transfer, and it’s up to his agent to get him a new club.

I’m really close to the airport. It’s time to check in.

Sayonara

Arteta Signs a New Deal, but was it Deserved?

It’s one of those Fridays you look forward to because tomorrow is Saturday and of course, the Premier League returns to our screens. Last weekend saw a host of lower division in the spotlight for their efforts against the big guns in the country but they’d get their chance to battle again in the 5th round of the FA Cup.

The January transfer window is coming to a close and many Arsenal fans can be satisfied with the club’s dealings in the period. Francis Coquelin’s return to the first team setup was timed to perfection and since then, he has gone a long way to staking a permanent claim for that jersey. Sometimes bad things happen to some people so that good things can happen to others. Like the classic case of Mikel Arteta.

Since his arrival in 2011, the lego-haired Spaniard has been an integral player to the club and following the departure of Thomas Vermaelen, he was appointed club-captain by Arsene Wenger. Funnily enough, even while the Verm was still with the club, Arteta probably wore the arm band more than him. The midfielder signed a four year deal with the club and he was going to be a free agent this summer if the club didn’t hand him a new contract. Speculation rose about the player’s future but he remained as calm as ever, doing his thing while waiting for things to unfold.

Arteta’s agent, Inaki Ibanez, has told footmercato.net that his client will still be at the Emirates Stadium next season.

“Mikel is no longer free next June, because he now has an extra year on his contract

,”.

Arteta is a player Wenger has trusts and he’s always on the first team sheet whenever he’s fit. But the issue is – Arteta is hardly fit nowadays. One minute you see him dictating tempo with his calm influence and spraying those accurate passes with consummate ease, next minute you see his number on the dashboard as he starts limping towards the touchline for another midfielder to take his place. The latest info in the Arteta fitness saga was that a ‘bony Tottenham spur’ was found in his ankle so he needed surgery to remove it which would sideline him to April at best.

His fitness issues are certainly not Diaby-esque but it’s really unfortunate to see that constant injuries continue to rob Arteta off his services to his club. Arsene Wenger stated that Daiby’s fitness would determine if he’d a new contract but with Arteta facing some fitness issues of his own and reaching his twilight years, was his contract extension deserved? I’d say yes! Arteta is Wenger’s general on the pitch and his influence can never be matched. Many players that joined the club have confessed to how he helped them settle in but his biggest show of influence in my opinion, was seeing him order Per Mertesacker to go back and defend when the German wanted to race forward to attack a set piece when the Gunners were leading 1-0.

I’m happy he’s gonna stay around for a little longer, even if I can’t say if he’d continue go get a consistent amount of game time with Coquelin’s emergence and the side talk of Morgan Schneiderlein coming in the sideline. However, you can’t trade experience for anything.

Just take a look at Tomas Rosicky.

Sayonara

Latest Injury Updates on Arteta and Debuchy

Moving to a new place can be very stressful but when your move to a new house affects some certain things it becomes a cause for concern. It’s quite unfortunate to see that my ISP isn’t working in my new place and plans are in place to get a new one.

In my absence, nothing much has been happening in the transfer market and when you think about the fact that over £800m was spent by English clubs last summer, it’s quite expected that the business in this Window will be minimal. Manchester City was having none of that as they bolstered their attacking options with the purchase of Ivorian powerhouse, Wilfried Bony for £28m. It also meant that the club had spent £294m on 12 strikers since the Arab folks came to town in 2008.

At Arsenal, talk of the signature of teenage sensation,  Kryztian Bielik is gathering momentum and he might go straight into the first team especially with the news that Arsenal skipper, Mikel Arteta, is set to face a lengthy spell on the sidelines following complications in his calf injury. In Arteta’s absence, Mathieu Flamini has done okay to hold the fort but Francis Coquelin has been a revelation since his recall from loan. With Arteta ‘s contract expiring this summer, it would be interesting to see how the club would handle his situation. Yes, he’s reaching his twilight years but he’s a player Wenger trusts and I really hope he stays for an extra season or two.

On Matt Debuchy, the fullback has gone through surgery to fix his dislocated shoulder / broken collar bone and will be out for three months. It’s really bad to see how those injury spirits that ravaged Sagna are taking their pound of flesh from Debuchy. Marko Arnautovic the Skillful Orc has gone on Facebook to give his apologies but Orcs will always be Orcs.

I’d keep you updated on their injury situation and other transfer chit chat in the coming days.

Sayonara

10 Things to Love About Mikel Arteta

Mikel Arteta marked his 100th Premier League appearance in the 3-0 win over Burnley and it was good seeing the captain lead the team out as he returned to full fitness following an injury that sidelined him for a couple of weeks. In the wake of this milestone, Gooner Daily has decided to celebrate it by reliving those Arteta moments that endeared him to the hearts of Arsenal fans worldwide.

Here’s my pick.

Joining Arsenal

Following the 8-2 mauling in the hands of Manchester United in 2011, Arsene Wenger switched to panic mode and went on to sign five players. Despite the fact that Arteta arrived in the club in a rather bizarre fashion, he was quick to thank the Everton fans for their support and he told the Press that he was looking forward to a new chapter in his football career:

“It is a big opportunity for me and my family and I think it is the right time for me to take it. It is a big challenge, a different challenge, fresh for me and I want to see myself on the biggest stage, the Champions League.’

“I am 29 years old so I haven’t got much time left to take a chance like this one.’

He hasn’t looked back ever since.

His Perfect Hair

One distinct feature about Mikel Arteta is the fact that his hair seems to always be in a “perfect” position all year long. The player even confirmed it in the #RainbowLaces advert that featured him and some other Arsenal stars.

He’s Multilingual

No wonder he’s usually the first person to meet when new players want to settle.

His Incredible Passing Statistics

In Arteta’s first season with the club, he notched up 29 Premier League appearances and he made a whooping 2,229 passes that was only bettered by Manchester City’s Yaya Toure (2,419 passes). That season, he had an overall pass completion percentage of 90.09%, making 60 key passes, scoring six goals and notching up two assists.

He has maintained his passing consistency with each passing season and he has picked up where he left off in this campaign.

Curbing his Attacking instincts for the Good of the Team

It was rather unfortunate seeing Alex Song depart to Barcelona but instead of signing a replacement for the Cameroonian, Arsene Wenger asked Arteta to change his role in the team to a more defensive position, which he did with minimal fuss. As simple as it may sound, it wasn’t an easy decision to make. He was Everton’s advanced playmaker in his six seasons with the club and in his first season at Arsenal, he was the box-to-box midfielder.

Yet, he decided to curb his attacking instincts for the good of the team. Selfless

The Way he Dictates the Tempo in Midfield

There are a few midfielders in the world that play the role Arteta does with such influence and panache. Juventus’ Andrea Pirlo and Bayern’s Xabi Alonso are central midfielders that have dropped deeper to influence games with their “quarterback” like style of play. This style of play involves them making themselves readily available for a pass then threading the ball forward.

This is the style of play that Arteta has adopted and he has become damn good at it. No one in the team retains possession like the Lego-haired Spaniard and his composure on the ball is exemplary.

The Cool, Calm and Collected Penalties

In his Arsenal career, Arteta has grown to become to No. 1 penalty taker in the team and he has a very good record from 12 yards. The only moment he buckled was when he missed an injury time penalty against Fulham (3-3 draw) but his composure in taking spot kicks was put to test when he played the dead ball twice in Arsenal’s FA Cup victory over his former team, Everton.

That Goal against Manchester City

Arsenal huffed and puffed on Manchester City’s defense but the door remained shut. An attack orchestrated by Tomas Rosicky saw Bacary Sagna drill his cross into the danger area. Theo Walcott hit it first time but his effort clipped the post. Vermaelen’s follow up was poor and a golden chance slipped past the Gunners yet again. Wenger sent Aaron Ramsey and the Ox into the fray but the match clincher arrived when Mikel Arteta epitomized Arsenal’s new pressing principles by closing down a player on the ball.

He fashioned a chance for himself and smashed in a delightful piledriver that beat Joe Hart on his near post.

The Leader of the Dressing Room

Thanks to Arseblog, I read an article where Arteta and Cazorla interviewed each other and some interesting stuff was unveiled. Arteta asked his chum how he was acclimatizing to his new life in England and Cazorla said a thing or two, but my pick of the bunch remained this statement from Cazorla,

 “Here at Arsenal you’re a real leader. When I arrived, I was a little surprised at the level of respect that you have in the dressing-room. But when I saw you with the group and on the pitch it’s obvious that almost all consider you the Captain. You are a leader. I’m no good at that, nobody would listen to me! But when you talk they listen.”

Arteta has responded to that by saying that he tries his best to be a good example to others and his exploits on and off the pitch has proved that. In regard to his exploits off the pitch, you don’t need any soothsayer to tell you that Arteta played a key role in settling Santi Cazorla in Arsenal.

Being Arsenal’s Captain

When Thomas Vermaelen left the club for the bench of Barcelona, Wenger was faced with a decision to make in passing the captain’s armband to a new player and I wasn’t surprised when he selected Mikel Arteta, his trusted lieutenant. It didn’t even take Arteta long to lift a trophy as captain with the club.

Feel free to share other things you love about the Spaniard with your comments.

Sayonara.

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Luiz Gustavo: A Statistical Review of Arsenal’s Latest Transfer Target

One of Bayern’s unsung hero last season

Jupp Heynckes will be forever remembered in football history as he joined the elite class of football managers that achieved the unprecedented treble last season. In recent times, managers like Pep Guardiola (2009), Jose Mourinho (2010) and Andre Villas-Boas (2011) earned their places in football folklore after they achieved the treble with Barcelona, Inter Milan and FC Porto respectively.

Heynckes’ class of ’13 had a perfect blend of German efficiency, European flair and some South American magic that made his team every manager’s wet dream. Last season’s Bayern Munich squad will always fondly remembered for the goalkeeping heroics of Manuel Neuer, the sheer defensive consistent performances of Dante and Philip Lahm, the balanced midfield outings of Bastian Schweinsteiger and Javi Martinez, the flamboyant wing play of the Rob-bery combo and the amazing goal haul of Mario Mandzukic.

These players took Europe by storm by ending Borussia Dortmund’s dominance in the Bundesliga in grand style and their major highlight was the triumphant Champions League run that saw them conquer Valencia, BATE Borisov and LOSC Lille Metropole in the Group Stages before easing past Arsenal, Juventus, Barcelona and Dortmund in the knockout stages.

While Heynckes could easily count on Schweinsteiger and Martinez to play in the fulcrum of the midfield, there were times when the manager summoned the services of Luiz Gustavo, the Brazilian powerhouse with style of play that reminds me of ex-Gunner, Gilberto SIlva. In simpler terms, Luiz Gustavo was the type of player that does his “dirty work” in a very clean way and his tenacious style of play in Bayern’s midfield caught the eye last season.

The Brazilian was signed from Hoffenhiem in the winter transfer window of 2011 and he featured regularly in his first full season for the Bavarian outfit in the 2011/12 campaign (46 apps) but the big-money acquisition of Javi Martinez from Athletic Bilbao ensured that his game time diminished, as Schweinsteiger was a vital cog in the midfield engine.

Bleacher Report’s Sam Tighe shares an insight on how their double pivot works.

Bayern Munich’s successful double pivot reduced Luiz Gustavo’s playing time

Despite not being a regular in Heynckes’ first-team sheet, Luiz Gustavo’s versatility made him a valuable asset for Bayern Munich last season, as he also provided cover as a center back and a left back when the need arose. After a successful 2012/13 campaign with Bayern Munich, Luiz Gustavo was called up by Felipao in this summer’s FIFA Confederations Cup and he was an integral part of the Samba Boys squad that won the tournament in grand style following some inspired performances from Julio Cesar, Neymar and Fred.

With some assistance from stats kings like Who Scored and Squakwa, the table below shows the key performance metrics for Luiz Gustavo in the Bundesliga, UEFA Champions League and 2013 Confederations Cup.

STAT

Bundesliga

Champions League

Confed. Cup

Appearances (Subs)

16 (6)

3 (7)

5 (0)

Goals Scored

4

Assists

1

Overall shots (Shots per Game)

13 (0.6)

9 (0.9)

2 (0.4)

Bookings (Yellow / Red)

6 / 0

2 / 0

2 / 0

Total Tackles (Tackles per Game)

54 (2.5)

15 (1.5)

10 (2)

Total Interceptions (Interceptions per Game)

33 (1.5)

13 (1.3)

15 (3)

Total Fouls Committed (Fouls per Game)

37 (1.7)

10 (1)

14 (2.8)

Aerial Duels (Attempted/Won)

36 / 16

12 / 6

6 / 5

Total Passes (Accurate Passes)

940 (874)

205 (183)

233 (214)

Pass Completion %

93

89.3

91.8

Total Long Balls (Accurate)

97 (82)

26 (25)

22 (20)

Total Through Balls (Accurate)

3 (2)

3 (2)

0

 

For a player that wasn’t a key part of Bayern Munich’s squad last season, Luiz Gustavo’s stats are jaw dropping to say the least. In the 2012/13 Bundesliga campaign, he amassed just 26 appearances but he managed to rake up an impressive pass completion percentage of 93 percent. He also notched up a decent amount of tackles and interceptions in each game he played and as expected from a tenacious holding midfielder like him, he had his fair share of fouls committed and bookings.

With a frame of 6′ 2″, Luiz Gustavo was also involved in some aerial battles in the middle of the park and he had close to a 50 percent success rate in the Bundesliga and Champions League but in the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup, Luiz Gustavo basically won every header he attempted which showed how he used his height to great effect for his nation.

With Schweinsteiger and Javi Martinez clearly above the Brazilian in the pecking order, his cause wasn’t helped when Pep Guardiola successfully acquired the services of Thiago Alcantara from Barcelona, a player he managed in his Barcelona B days.

Unlike Heynckes that successfully utilized the 4-2-3-1 tactical setup with Schweinsteiger and Martinez in the double pivot, Guardiola is adopting his traditional 4-3-3 formation that worked wonders for him in his Barcelona trophy hauling days. Martinez will assume the deep-lying playmaker role that was successfully manned by Sergi Busquets, Schweinsteiger / Thiago would assume the Xavi Hernandez role while the mercurial Mario Gotze, on his return from injury, would be at the tip of the midfield triumvirate (Andres Iniesta’s role).

This clearly indicates that Luiz Gustavo would be surplus to requirements and Goal.com reported that German outfit, VFL Wolfsburg, are in talks to sign him from Bavaria. According to the Daily Mail, Arsenal is about to table a £14m bid for the Brazilian man-machine, after Arsene Wenger admitted that his squad is thin-bare and he wanted new reinforcements.

Unlike in Bayern Munich where Luiz Gustavo’s chances of featuring now hangs on a thin thread, it would be a different case at Arsenal but in all honesty, I don’t expect Luiz Gustavo to walk into the Arsenal first-team setup. If he arrives at the Emirates, he would be that strong enforcer in midfield the fans have been craving for since Alex Song, but Arsenal has two players that have blossomed in the holding midfield roles.

Arsenal’s fulcrum in the tail end of last season

Following the departure of Song to Barcelona, Mikel Arteta assumed the role of Arsenal’s holding midfielder, curbing his attacking instincts to take one for the team and Arsenal fans can attest that he was a revelation last season. After playing as a jack-of-all-trades yet being of none, Arsene Wenger finally gave Aaron Ramsey a chance to strut his stuff in central midfield and his energy and work rate aided his team’s surge to a fourth place finish in the last campaign.

I’m going to juxtapose between Luiz Gustavo’s key performance metrics and  Arsenal’s personnel in the successful double midfield pivot of last season, Aaron Ramsey and Mikel Arteta. I’ll also cull some stats from Who Scored for both players.

According to Who Scored, listed below are Aaron Ramsey and Mikel Arteta’s stats in the Premier League last season.

STATS (EPL Only)

Mikel Arteta

Aaron Ramsey

Appearances (Subs)

34 (0)

21 (15)

Goals Scored

6

1

Assists

3

2

Overall shots (Shots per Game)

19 (0.6)

46 (1.3)

Bookings (Yellow / Red)

6 / 0

5 / 0

Total Tackles (Tackles per Game)

108 (3.2)

71 (2)

Total Interceptions (Interceptions per Game)

97 (2.7)

44 (1.2)

Total Fouls Committed (Fouls per Game)

74 (2.2)

48 (1.3)

Aerial Duels (Attempted/Won)

67 / 35

37 / 14

Total Passes (Accurate Passes)

2750 (2517)

1934 (1705)

Pass Completion %

91.5

88.2

Total Long Balls (Accurate)

205 (179)

139 (103)

Total Through Balls (Accurate)

15 (6)

21 (11)

Unlike Luiz Gustavo that plays like a traditional water carrier in holding midfield, Arteta and Ramsey are very comfortable with the ball on their feet and it’s also worth noting that Arteta total passes (2,750) were almost three times Luiz Gustavo’s (940) despite playing in the same role with the Brazilian.

In Gustavo’s defense, Arteta played more games than the Brazilian with age slowly creeping in on the Lego-haired Spaniard, Gustavo can come into the club and he would definitely be touted as Arteta’s long-term successor. At the age of 26, Luiz Gustavo’s best years are well ahead of him unlike Arteta that probably has two or so years left in him before he decides to end his playing days in his native Spain or maybe the MLS to earn some big bucks.

Even if everybody is firmly focused on Luis Suarez and his transfer shenanigans, Arsenal’s pursuit of Luiz Gustavo is a stroke of genius by Arsene Wenger.

Sayonara.

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