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Southampton’s Garage Sale Continues: Arsenal Signs Chambers

Calum Chambers

 

Koeman: Come one! Come all!

Koeman: The Southampton garage sale has taken its full swing. We have agile lads that know how to press the ball more times than the amount of gel Cristiano Ronaldo puts on his hair. Who’s ready to bid?

Brenda: Ah! I see a good penalty taker in your ranks. My players fall on the ground a lot like sack of potatoes and I wouldn’t mind having the old hag.

Koeman: Welcome Brenda, I have just what you need! Rickie ol’ Lambert, penalty taker extraordinaire!

Brenda: That’s the man I want. Here’s a £4m bid for the lad.

Koeman: Sold! And Lambert goes to Liverpool for peanuts. Off you go mate!

Lambert: Brenda my hero. Thanks for showing interest in me despite my advancing years. I’d give it my best shot.

Brenda: Sure. Get in the Liverpool bus before I change my mind. Hey Koeman, I’m not done yet!

Koeman: Ah Brenda, what do yer want this time?

Brenda: I need a winger that can play in attacking midfield when I tweak my tactics. He should have a fan song that would start with ‘Lalalalalalalalalana’.

Koeman: Errrrr…Brenda, that’s my prized asset and my captain. And his name is Adam Lallana, you prick. Not for sale.

*Brenda brings out huge wad of cash and starts counting slowly*

*Koeman coughs profusely*

Brenda: As I was saying before you insulted me, I need your so-called prized asset. Every player has his price. Or don’t you think so?

*Koeman starts to sweat and begins adjusting his collar*

Koeman: Oh Brenda, you’re a wise man. May I present my captain, Lallana. More skillful than your lot in Liverpool and he has a goal or two in him, but he’d cost you a fortune.

Brenda: B*tch please, I sold the bitey one for £75m. I’ve been laughing to the bank like ‘ha ha ha ha’. *drops a large chunk of cash (£25m) for Lallana*

Koeman: My word! Sold! And Lallana goes to Liverpool.

Lallana: Goodbye boss, sorry I never had the chance to work with you. *exchanges hug with Koeman*

Koeman: *whispering to Lallana* It’s okay mate, don’t tell him about your fucked up knee.

Lallana: LOL! Sure. Hope the money is good enough.

Koeman: Are you kidding, this cash can get me a Dusan Tadic and there would still be enough change to feed some refugees in Africa.

Brenda: Kooooooooeman! I’m not done yet.

Koeman: Seriously bro! I just took over this job from Mauricio Pochettino. You might as just change your team’s name to ‘Liverhampton‘ or ‘Southampool

Brenda: I would have laughed at your joke, but with the kinda money at my disposal, I don’t do funny, I do Mulla. I want your best defender and I’m willing to pay good cash.

Koeman: Too late, I sold my best defender to Manchester United, and trust me, they paid silly money for the bloke.

Louis van Gaal: YOU DONT MEAN IT

Shaw: lol boss, at least he recognizes that I was the best defender in Southampton last season and he wasn’t my manager. I guess he watches TV well then.

Koeman: F**k you Shaw. Brenda, I have a Croatian defender that goes by the name of Dejan Lovren and he’s level-headed, unlike your Martin Skrtel that plays like he has a rush of blood to his head.

Brenda: Whatever man! Here’s £20m.

Koeman: Sold!

*Arsene Wenger steps in and sees Brenda with three players*

Brenda: Monsieur Wenger, I see that you don’t want to be left out on the Southampton Garage Sale.

Wenger: Yes, Mr. Rodgers. I’m looking for a versatile player that can play as a right back, center back and holding midfielder.

Brenda: Wenger, always the economist. I read on the news that you signed a right back from Newcastle. Why don’t you just spend some goddamn money and buy a defender and holding midfielder.

Wenger: Brenda, I see you have stunted memory. Before the Debuchy deal, I signed a player you even wanted. Alexis Sanchez…lol

Brenda: Arrrrrrrrgh! How many times do I have to tell you that he chose Arsenal ahead of Liverpool because of geography!!!

Wenger: Whatever makes you sleep at night bruh!

*Brenda zooms away with his new recruits to Anfield*

Wenger: Mr. Koeman, welcome to the Premier League. I see you’re struggling to hold onto your key players.

Koeman: Tell me about it!

Wenger: I’ve been there mate. And it’s a big ass b*tch. Grooming a player for so long, only to have him snapped from you by some rich predator.

*Koeman hugs Wenger*

Wenger: Well, to the business of the day. I need a versatile player that can play as a right back, center back and holding midfielder. Hope I’ve come to the right place.

Koeman: The papers say that you want Morgan Schneiderlein. He can play as a holding midfielder, not right back or center back. Spurs are even interested in him.

Wenger: I would not repeat myself!

Koeman: Okay sir, there is a candidate that can suit your demands but he’s English and you know what they say about English blokes, especially when they are young and have prospect.

Wenger: We live in a world where crappy Englishmen like Andy Carroll can cost £35m so I get you. Just take it easy with your inflated price.

Koeman: How about £16m?

Wenger: Lemme ping Ivan Gazidis.

*Wenger exchanges IMs with Gazidis*

Wenger: Koeman, I’d sign Calum Chambers for an undisclosed fee.

Koeman: Sold!.

Wenger: Where my Chambers at?

Chambers: Here I am boss!

Wenger: That’s my boy, welcome to the future.

Koeman: The Garage Sale isn’t over though. Come one, come all!

****

Sayonara

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David Ospina: 10 Things You Need to Know about Arsenal’s New Signing

When Lukasz Fabianski left the club on a Bosman, it was cast in stone that Arsenal was going to secure the services of a new goalkeeper that would challenge Wojciech Szczesny for his starting place. With the captures of Alexis Sanchez and Mathieu Debuchy, the fans were expectant of seeing new faces and Wenger inadvertently hinted that David Ospina was on his way to the Emirates,

“You know at the start Szczęsny will be the number one, then again it’ll be down to performances and, if Ospina shows that he is better, he will play.”

The official site has revealed that Arsenal has secured the services of the Colombian shot stopper for an undisclosed fee (wondering why it’s always ‘undisclosed’ at Arsenal) and Arsene Wenger had some sweet words for the new recruit,

“David Ospina is an excellent goalkeeper, with good experience and a proven record of performing with Nice and Colombia. He will add strength to our squad and we are very pleased that he will be joining us.”

The battle between Ospina and Szczesny is one that would benefit the club and I’m looking forward to it. Without further ado, here are 10 things you need to know about Arsenal’s new signing.

He’s James “Hamez” Rodriguez’ Brother-in-law

Hamez and Ospina’s sister, Daniela

Hamez Rodriguez was a star in the making right from his FC Porto days but he was out of the spotlight a bit when he joined AS Monaco last season for 45m Euros. The Colombian star put up consistent performances for his team and following Radamel Falcao’s knee injury, the nation hinged their hopes on Rodriguez in the recently concluded World Cup and boy, did he deliver.

While Hamez won plaudits for his exploits on the pitch, I’m pretty certain that his mind was focused on his wife and David Ospina’s younger sister, Daniela and their beautiful daughter, Salome.

He’s the Second Youngest Goalie to Start for Colombia

Ospina represented Colombia at Under-15, Under-17 and Under-20 level before making his debut for the national team at the age of 21, making him the second youngest goalkeeper to represent Colombia.

Ospina saving Edinson Cavani’s header

Ospina has gone on to make 48 caps for his country and he had a great World Cup by his standards.

He Replaced Hugo Lloris at OGC Nice

Hugo Lloris currently captains France and has been a household name in world football for a very long time but his career actually began in his hometown, Nice. He made his debut as a teenager in October 2005 and started in goal during the team’s run to the 2006 Coupe de la Ligue Final.

Lloris at Nice

After excelling at the club for three seasons (made 77 appearances), Lloris moved to Olympique Lyonnais before securing a move to Tottenham years later. When Lloris left Nice in 2008, the French outfit signed Ospina from Atletico Nacional.

He Suffered an Awkward Injury in the 2011 Copa America

Since making his debut in 2010, Ospina was a first-team regular for Colombia and he helped the country qualify for the Copa America a year later, which was to be hosted by Argentina. In a pre-match training, Hugo Rodallega charged down a pass outside the box, and caught Ospina in the face with his shoulder when the goalkeeper came out to kick the ball clear. Ospina laid motionless on the ground and he had to receive swift medical treatment.

That injury ruled him out of the tournament but Colombia still went on to top the group that had Bolivia, Costa Rica and the hosts, Argentina. Colombia was knocked out by Peru in the quarterfinals.

His Disciplinary Record at Nice was a Concern

Ospina’s time at Nice was marred by the abnormal amount of cards he amassed (11 yellows and four reds) due to his erratic nature. He has been sent off when he lost his temper on the pitch but in this video showing the match highlights between P.S.G and Nice, Ospina earned himself a red card (In the 2′ 17″ mark of the video) when he scythed Ezequiel Lavezzi in the box.

At Arsenal, he’d need to put his temper in check because English fans would be quick to bring out their pitchforks and torches if he tries such a feat in the Premier League.

He Almost Secured a Move to Besiktas SK

In 2012, Ospina’s performances in Nice caught the eye and Turkish giants, Besiktas SK, set their sights on the Colombian goalie. After a protracted transfer saga, Nice called off the deal due to financial constraints faced by the Turks. Besiktas were in hot soup at the point in time as their failure to pay their staff and wages brought them some sanctions from UEFA.

He Made his Professional Debut at 17

Keepers are usually known for being late bloomers but Ospina began his career at quite an early age.

Ospina in his Atletico Nacional days. That’s Adriano beside him…

In Atletico Nacional, Ospina had already won back to back Colombian league titles as a first-choice shot stopper. Atletico Nacional was where he plied his trade and where he produced the form that earned him a move to Europe. He notched 97 appearances for the Colombian outfit in three seasons.

He’s Fearless in the Air

Since his move from Atletico Nacional to OGC Nice, Ospina has featured consistently for the French outfit. While he was renowned for being an excellent shot stopper and dominant in his box, one of Ospina’s remarkable traits is his aerial ability. Last season, he had an amazing 98% claims in the box which showed that he literally got every aerial ball in the box he went for, which is a show of great decision making.

His Stats were Better than Wojciech Szczesny Last Season

PSG’s Salvatore Sirigu won the Golden Glove award in the Ligue 1 last season by conceding the least amount of gaols (23) in the division but there were several contenders for the crown. Lille’s Vincent Enyeama earned plaudits for his amazing clean sheet run but his save success rate (77.4%) were considerably less than Sirigu’s 78.5%. However, Ospina had a remarkable save success rate of 80.2% compared to Szczesny’s 73% at Arsenal.

Nice lost all the nine games Ospina missed out, conceded an average of two goals per game but when Ospina was between the sticks, Nice won 12 games with an average of 1.45 points per game. The graphical illustration below juxtaposes between Szczesny and Ospina stats last season.

image

Stats via WhoScored

Despite featuring in less games than Szczesny, Ospina edged past the Pole in saves per game, save success, goals conceded per game and crosses claimed. Many might be quick to point out the gulf in quality between the English Premier League and Ligue 1 but I feel that doesn’t necessarily apply with goalkeepers.

His Farewell from Nice was Very Emotional

It’s never easy saying goodbye especially when you leave a club that made you what you are in the world of football. In 2008, Nice’s gaffer, Frederic Antonetti, signed a relatively unknown 19-year-old Colombian and thrust him straight into first-team action. Losing a local hero like Hugo Lloris to Lyon was a big wrench, so replacing him with an untested Colombian kid was a bold move by the manager, which ended up playing off.

After six years and close to 200 appearances, this lad is about to start a new adventure in his life and this video showed how he was teary while bidding farewell to his teammates and the staff of OGC Nice.

Welcome to Arsenal, David Ospina.

Sayonara.

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Thoughts on Arsenal’s Title Chances Ahead of the New Season

Ramsey was instrumental to Arsenal’s title surge last season

Seven points. That was the difference between Arsenal and their potential 14th League title.

The Gunners were at the summit of the table longer than any other team last season but they buckled under immense pressure to drop all the way to fourth place. Losing 3-0 to Everton even put the Gunners in a rather precarious situation, albeit temporarily, but the crumble showed how bad things got for Arsene Wenger and his team.

With Premier League fixtures and markets taking center stage, Arsenal is set to begin the new campaign with a home clash against Crystal Palace and the fans are hoping that it wouldn’t turn out to be another debacle like how things panned out against Aston Villa at the start of last season.

Some of the Arsenal stars performed superbly at the World Cup and three Gunners went home with the trophy but they have had extended leaves and with the trio of Mesut Ozil, Per Mertesacker and Lukas Podolski set to miss the season’s curtain raiser at Wembley against Manchester City, one must wonder if they’d be fully fit for a grueling campaign ahead.

World Cup winners

Why did Arsenal’s title surge go down the drain last season? Some say it can be attributed to the long-term injuries suffered by Aaron Ramsey, Theo Walcott and at some point Mesut Ozil. Others say that despite his 22 goals for the club last season, Olivier Giroud failed to turn up against the big teams. In fairness to that claim, Giroud scored only one goal against the top six last season both home and away.

I’d say that Arsenal’s title surge crumbled because of the Gunners performances against their fellow title rivals. At the Emirates, Arsenal failed to beat Manchester City, Chelsea, Everton and Manchester United but they ousted Liverpool and Tottenham. However, Arsenal had a shocking away record, as they were pummeled with resounding losses against Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester City and Everton. The defeat to Manchester United was narrow but disappointing nonetheless because that was the poorest Manchester United team in decades and they still managed to get four points off the Gunners.

Judas celebrates

This season, Arsenal has shown intent in the transfer market with the captures of Alexis Sanchez and Mathieu Debuchy but everyone knows that there’s still much work to be done in other playing positions. Wojciech Szczesny is a great goalie that even won the Golden Glove last season but Arsenal fans can attest to the fact that an air of complacency creeps into his game when he’s not challenged. With the imminent arrival of World Cup hero, Davide Ospina, the Polish keeper would have to be on his toes because the Colombian shot stopper isn’t coming to Arsenal to complete the numbers.

In defense, there is so much speculation regarding the future of the club’s captain, Thomas Vermaelen, and Arsenal fans can be in alignment that the defense is always somewhat weaker when he plays. Vermaelen will certainly not want to play second fiddle to Mertesacker and Koscielny this upcoming season, so he may be on his way out with Manchester United huge favorites to capture the Belgian Verminator. To challenge for the title, Arsenal has to have sufficient depth and signing a good center back that can play alongside Mertesacker or Koscielny will be key.

In my honest opinion, Arsenal’s title hopes would hinge on their potential capture in holding midfield. For a team that attacks so much using the full width of the pitch, the Gunners are always prone to counter attacks and despite the fact that I’m appreciative of what Mikel Arteta has done for the club since arriving from Everton, he’s not the answer to Arsenal’s defensive midfield problems. Arsenal needs to find a ‘traditional defensive midfielder’ that would hover in the center of the pitch, breaking up play, making inch-perfect tackles, offering a physical presence and he should have a good distribution as well.

Wouldn’t mind me William Carvalho

Once all these positions have been adequately reinforced, the Gunners can confidently push for their first title in 11 years. It’s been a long while since the Gunners won the Premier League, and it requires depth, determination, tactical discipline and footballing excellence for a team to go through 38 weeks and cross the finish line.

Sayonara.

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What Does the Future Hold for Santi Cazorla?

File:Flickr - Ronnie Macdonald - Santi Cazorla 2.jpg

The losses of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri at the start of the 2011/12 season were very bitter pills to swallow. With Tomas Rosicky injured and Andrey Arshavin out of sorts, Arsene Wenger burdened the responsibility of the primary playmaker role to a young Aaron Ramsey, who just returned to action after suffering a leg fracture the previous year. Arsenal fans can attest to the fact that Ramsey was a lightning rod for frustrations and the loss of confidence saw the Welshman lose his place to a resurgent Tomas Rosicky that helped the Gunners to a third place finish.

At the start of the 2012/13 campaign, Arsenal bought two forwards in Olivier Giroud and Lukas Podolski but the undoubted signing of the season turned out to be Santi Cazorla, a midfield maestro poached from a cash-strapped Malaga. Santi Cazorla’s performances were so consistent in his debut campaign with the club and he notched up a career-best 12 goals and a boatload of assists in the course of the season. According to WhoScored, Cazorla fired 115 shots, created 96 chances, attempted 86 dribbles, was fouled 50 times, made 184 crosses, passed the ball 2,471 times with a pass completion percentage of 86.8 percent.

His omission from the 2013 PFA Team of the Year bewildered Arsene Wenger, but it didn’t matter because the Emirates faithful knew that they had finally found a true replacement for the departed Cesc Fabregas. Cazorla flourished as Arsenal’s primary playmaker but the big-money acquisition of Mesut Ozil saw Cazorla relinquish his place behind the striker to a place on the wings (preferably the left) and he drifted infield to make his mark.

However, unlike his first season where Cazorla was simply inspirational, a Confederations Cup competition coupled with an ankle injury that sidelined him for five weeks took its toll on his fitness and form. On his long-awaited return from injury, Cazorla became a different player and his influence wasn’t seen in the games he played. Just went we thought he had reached his nadir, he put up a breathtaking performance against Liverpool, scoring a wonderful goal after his initial header hit the post.

Shortly after the Liverpool game, Cazorla played so poorly in subsequent games and he couldn’t even stay on the pitch for 90 minutes as he was always replaced. In the turn of the New Year, Cazorla picked himself up and started playing some good football. After a good performance against Cardiff, Cazorla scored Arsenal’s opener in the FA Cup third round clash against Tottenham.

He managed to reach a purple patch at some point, scoring five goals in quick succession but Cazorla couldn’t really reach the high standards he had set in his maiden season with the club. Notwithstanding, Arsenal handed him a new deal in March, much to the player’s delight but Cazorla’s high point of the season would be that unstoppable free kick he rifled into the net to begin Arsenal’s charge for the FA Cup final.

Cazorla joined his nation in their quest to defend their world title in Brazil but Spain embarrassingly crashed out of the competition with Santi Cazorla returning home earlier than expected. As the summer’s transfer dealings took center stage, Arsenal wowed their fans with the capture of Alexis Sanchez, a world class player in every sense of the word.

The prospect of watching Walcott and Sanchez play tho…

With a player with such a huge transfer tag as well as quality coming into a team, it’s only normal for someone else to give way to accommodate the player. With Walcott still recuperating from the knee injury he suffered in January and the Ox struggling to stay fit, Sanchez would maraud the right flank with Giroud and Cazorla in the remaining attacking positions. However, when Walcott returns to the team, many are tipping Cazorla to be displaced with Walcott and Sanchez providing support to Giroud from the wings.

Then of course, there’s the heavy media speculation linking Cazorla with a move to Atletico Madrid with a reported £15m price tag placed on Cazorla’s head. Many are now of the opinion that Cazorla is getting old (he turns 30 in December) so the Gunners need to cash in on him but I’m pretty sure that Arsene Wenger would know the importance of squad depth, as it cost the team dearly last season. Arsenal failed to cope with the losses of Ramsey, Walcott, Ox and Ozil to injury and it affected their Premier League campaign.

Cazorla’s technical astuteness, ambidexterity and versatility makes him a very valuable asset to Arsenal and it would be a big shame if the Gunners flush him out to the highest bidder. Personally, I’d prefer to see him remain in North London for years, because he’s an outstanding footballer.

The player himself will have a decision to make – he can stay and fight for his place or he can opt out to another team to strut his stuff.

So the question remains – what does the future hold for Santi Cazorla?

Sayonara.

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Szczesny vs. Ospina: A Competition that Would Benefit Arsenal

That was some shot tho

Those fervent followers of Arsenal would know that the team is currently in New York, as they are bracing themselves up for a friendly against the Red Bulls. Arseblog shared a couple of enlightening stuff about the American Gooners and it’s worth a read. While the manager and the players will be strutting their stuff on the field, there’s still some business to be done in the transfer market and according to the Guardian, the Arsenal hierarchy has reached an agreement with OGC Nice over the services of Colombian goalie, Davide Ospina.

With Lukasz Fabianski leaving on a Bosman to Swansea in search of first-team football, Arsenal are desperately light in goal and one wouldn’t expect Wojciech Szczesny to keep in every game this season. This World Cup showcased a good number of goalies that starred for their respective nations and Ospina wasn’t left out, as he performed admirably for Colombia before their quarterfinal elimination at the hands of the hosts, Brazil.

Colombia's goalkeeper David Ospina

Ospina in action in the game against Uruguay

At 25, Ospina would arrive with the mindset of making the No. 1 jersey his own, rather than an old hag that would have just been content with a place on the substitute bench. Judging from their performances in their respective leagues last season, stats king, WhoScored, published an infographic juxtaposing between Szczesny and Ospina.

image

While some may argue that Ospina probably edged over Szczesny due to the nature of the Ligue 1 compared to the Premier League, some would tend to forget that Szczesny had a better defensive rearguard in front of him, unlike Ospina, that didn’t have any household names protecting him from the attacking predators of the league. However, both keepers were highly influential for their clubs and Szczesny even notched up the Golden Glove award alongside Petr Cech.

There was a mind blowing stat I read about Ospina – OGC Nice lost all 9 games that Ospina didn’t start in Ligue 1 last season, conceding 2 goals per game compared to 0.86 with him. He was heavily impressive with his performances last season, and he took that form into the World Cup which was witnessed by many.

Having a quality goalie like Ospina would definitely put Szczesny on his toes and should the gods of injuries strike the Pole for reasons best known to some aliens in outer space, Ospina can serve as a dependable backup and I must confess that I’m looking forward to watch the stiff competition between both goalies.

In Szczesny, the Gunners have a goalie that can be the custodian between the sticks for many years to come but Ospina would offer a stiff challenge for the No. 1 spot. To wet your appetites a bit, here’s a YouTube compilation showing some excellent saves from Ospina.

Sayonara.

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