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Rating Arsenal’s Midfielders’ Performances in the 2014/15 Season

Today, Gooner Daily discusses about the performances of the players that make up Arsenal’s engine room.

Mikel Arteta (11 appearances, one goal, two yellow cards)

With Thomas Vermaelen departing to FC Barcelona, Arsene Wenger continued the succession by giving the captain’s arm band to Mikel Arteta. The new skipper featured in the FA Community Shield and lifted his first trophy. However, Arteta’s campaign was plagued by many injuries and with the emergence of Francis Coquelin, he wasn’t even eased into action when he regained full fitness. The fans would be hoping that he would contribute to the team’s cause next season.

Rating: 4/10

Jack Wishere (22 appearances, two goals, six yellow cards)

For the first time in ages, Wilshere enjoyed a good pre-season campaign and he featured regularly in Arsenal’s 4-1-4-1 tactical setup. His performance against Manchester City was up there with the very best but his season suffered an abrupt dent when he was on the end of a poorly-timed tackle from Manchester United’s Paddy McNair which ruled him out for a considerable chunk of the season.

Arsene Wenger did the right thing to re-introduce him slowly to the thick of things, and Wilshere crowned that with another ‘goal of the season’ when the Gunners played West Brom in the Premier League curtain closer.

Rating: 7/10

Mesut Ozil (23 appearances, five goals, two yellow cards)

Ozil was heavily involved in Germany’s World Cup triumph and was sent back to the rigors of the Premier League as the season progress. He struggled initially with adjusting to playing on the left wing and he put up some concerning performances but he opened his goalscoring account in the game against Aston Villa when he returned to his favored No. 10 role. In October, he suffered a knee injury that sidelined him for three months.

He returned a stronger player and added goals to his game with strikes against Brighton and Aston Villa. He opened the scoring in the North London derby and swung in a superb free kick in the thrashing of Liverpool. Ozil has become very integral to the team and he has made his influence known. We can only hope he continues with time.

Rating: 8/10

Aaron Ramsey (40 appearances, 10 goals, seven yellows, one red card)

Following his breakthrough performance last season that saw Ramsey scored 16 goals including the famous winner at Wembley, a lot was expected of the Welsh Jesus this season. He handled that responsibility well by scoring the match winner in the first game of the season but he struggled for fitness and form this season.

After going on a goal drought for three months, Ramsey scored a sumptuous volley in the 3-2 defeat against Stoke and followed it up with an unbelievable left-footed piledriver in the dead-rubber fixture against Galatasaray. Due to the fact that Ramsey is one hell of a complete player, Wenger deployed him on the right flank in a tactical switch that saw some players moved around but as the weeks went by, Ramdey’s influence dwindled on the right. When he returned to the middle, he was back to his best and the fans are hoping that he stays in the middle at Wembley.

Rating: 8/10

Santi Cazorla (52 appearances, eight goals, five yellow cards)

Cazorla was an ever-present player for Arsenal this season and his versatility ensured that he was used by the gaffer in several playing position on the pitch. He also developed a penchant for executing set piece with such ridiculous ease that it was a no brainer on who to select anytime the Gunners had a penalty. Cazorla also raked up his assists count this season, and he put up a lot of stand-out performances in the course of the season.

There has been a lot of speculation regarding a move away from the club but the midfielder is focused on excelling with the club. Good to see him put on the band in a couple of occasions as well.

Rating: 8/10

Mathieu Flamini (32 appearances, one goal, six yellow cards)

Flamini featured as a back up to Arteta and got a run-out when the captain was out injured. However, his performances this season have been fairly inconsistent, and the fans won’t be quick to forget how he lost the ball in the buildup to Tottenham’s goal. Whether it’s been a case of his aging legs or the player not just being good enough, Flamini hasn’t reached the heights he set in the yesterday tear with Arsenal.

It’s very certain that the club would not renew his deal when it expires next summer.

Rating: 3/10

Tomas Rosicky (23 appearances, three goals, two yellow cards)

It’s quite bizarre to know that Rosicky’s first Premier League game came as late as December in the win over QPR, and as you’d expect from the ageless Czech, he scored the match winner. While the games were kinda hard to come by in the league, Rosicky featured in the cup fixtures as he captained the side and got a goal in the 3-2 win over Brighton. His last goal of the campaign arrived in the narrow win over Everton and as expected, he has made a couple of substitute appearances and it’s good to know that he has chose to extend his contract with the squad.

Rating: 7/10

Francis Coquelin (29 appearances, no goal, seven yellow cards)

They say the best things in life are free.

Maybe they were talking about Coquelin. The French man has been the best thing that happened to Arsenal in the second half of the season. Enough said.

Rating: 10/10

Sayonara

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Celebrating the International Centurion, Tomas Rosicky

Tomas Rosicky has given nine years of his career to Arsenal, but to Czech Republic, he has given a lot more.

He first burst into the international scene as a 15-year-old in 1995 and he played through the youth teams before making his full debut for the national side as a 19-year-old against Ireland in February 2000. He was selected in the Czech team for Euro 2000 but the team was ousted from the group stages that featured Netherlands, France and Denmark. With Patrik Berger suspended, Rosicky played in the middle with Pavel Nedved as the Czech team lost to Holland and France but he was benched in the final game against Denmark.

Qualification for the 2002 FIFA World Cup went well for the Czech Republic and Rosicky played his part with two goals in the campaign. Their reward for coming second was a playoff against Belgium but they lost to the two-legged tie to the Belgians. As expected, Rosicky and the Czech team qualified for Euro 2004 and he was heavily involved in their group stage adventure as they sealed nine points from a group that had Latvia, Holland and Germany. In the quarterfinals, the Czech eased past Denmark but they suffered heartbreak in the semis with an extra time loss to eventual winners, Greece.

In was in the 2006 World Cup that the Czech maestro announced himself with this magnificent strike for his nation against the United States

He scored again with another strike against U.S.A but it was a disastrous campaign for the Czech as they lost their remaining games to Ghana and Italy. That’s when Rosicky’s adventure with Arsenal began and it has been a worthwhile journey ever since.

Following the retirement of Pavel Nedved in August 2006, the captain’s armband was handed to Rosicky. In the buildup to Euro 2008, Rosicky was involved in some controversy when he and some of his Czech teammates, Martin Jiranek, Tomas Ujfalusi, Jan Polak and Marek Cech, managed to get some prostitutes into their hotel by telling team officials that the girls were ‘autograph hunters’. They also claimed they had been celebrating Ujfalusi’s birthday. This earned the players a fine of £25,000.

Rosicky’s hamstring injury cost him his place in the Czech squad for Euro 2008. Without Rosicky to help the team, the Czechs began the campaign well with a victory over Switzerland but subsequent losses to Portugal and Turkey ended their tournament with more disappointment. Rosicky’s last international tournament with the Czech team was Euro 2012, where he led them to victories against Greece and Poland in the group stages before their quarterfinal loss to Portugal.

Yesterday, Czech Republic hosted Latvia and the game ended in a 1-1 draw but there was a personal milestone in the game for the Czech captain, as he notched up his 100th cap for his nation, which is a remarkable feat. The record amount of international games for any player is currently held by Egypt’s Achmed Hassan, that amassed 184 games for Egypt between 1996 and 2012 playing in eight African Cup of Nations and winning four.

Rosicky is one player I admire and I know a day would come when his aging legs won’t allow him to keep playing for the Gunners, but I hope that day doesn’t come anytime soon. He’s an awesome technician on the ball and like fine wine, he gets better with age. That hamstring injury robbed him off his best years for the club as he was part of that quartet of awesome in Arsenal’s midfield that almost won the Premier League in the 2007/08 season. Emmanuel Adebayor might get the plaudits for scoring the goals but Aliaksandr Hleb, Mathieu Flamini, Cesc Fabregas and Rosicky.

This season has featured 22 times with three goals to his name. Many Arsenal fans will be proud of his achievements for the club, especially his contributions in the second half of the 2011/12 and 2012/13 seasons.

Here’s to Tomas Rosicky, the newest international centurion.

Here are his top strikes for the Czech Republic, for your viewing pleasure.

Sayonara.

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What Can Podolski and Rosicky Do to Get Games?

With no club football coming anytime soon, it’s always good to stay and take stock of how things have panned out thus far this season. By this time last season, the Gunners were riding high with Premier League aspirations and it seemed as if they were actually cut out for it. As we all know, their league campaign crumbled as the months went by and it was good seeing the Gunners win the FA Cup. Arsenal’s run to the FA Cup final in Wembley was quite memorable and many players contributed in one way or another.

For a ‘fringe’ player like Lukas Podolski, his brace against Coventry served as his only goals in the competition but he went on to score eight league goals and one in the Champions League to take his tally for the campaign to 11. Tomas Rosicky on the other hand, had a handful of matches and his moment of glory in the competition when he ran the length of the pitch before chipping the ball over Hugo Lloris. He also scored a screamer against the same opposition in the league as well as that Norwich-esque finish against Sunderland.

This season, the games have been hard to come by for Podolski and Rosicky. The ageless Czech has played just 22 minutes of Premier League football this season and he has had just 31 Champions League minutes. The only time he played a full game was in the Capital One defeat to Southampton where he conceded the penalty that brought the opposition into the game.

The Czech maestro is quite perplexed about his current predicament,

“I understand that I am 34-years-old and that it probably plays a role whether I like it or not. That’s without doubt. However, I’m not in physical decline. When I played for the national team against Holland I ran 12km and according to the tests at Arsenal I’m in the top five (players) in terms of speed. 

“We are on good terms, so I do not really know what it is. It is purely a coach’s decision. It’s not my decline. My health is fine too. Of course I want to play, but there’s not much I can do about it.” 

Maybe all good things come to an end, but I wouldn’t want to see Rosicky’s career end this way with the Gunners. In the tail end of the 2011/12 and 2012/13 seasons, Rosicky served as the renaissance man and he helped the team to Champions League berths with his brilliant play. But with the quality of players at Arsenal’s disposal, the chances of the Czech star featuring are few and far between. His versatility ensures that he can be deployed in any of the advanced midfield positions but as it stands, Wenger is sticking to the current lot at the moment. Alexis is currently playing as a No. 10 and he has excelled admirably there. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has been a major bright spark this season and the Gunners boss may not want to stifle his progress, especially with Theo Walcott on his way to full fitness. Some say that Santi Cazorla is meant to be axed from the squad but his creativity has been a highlight this season.

As for Podolski, he has struggled when he featured in the center forward position and is more or less limited to the left wing. His goal to game ratio is exemplary but many Arsenal fans can attest to the fact that Podolski gets anonymous in many games. However, Wenger’s decision to play Yaya Sanogo, a player that had never scored for the club, ahead of the German when the Gunners needed a goal, was quite puzzling. The German has confessed that he’s not happy with his situation and he’d seek talks with his manager over his future.

I still believe that Podolski and Rosicky will get their chances in the foreseeable future, but one wonders if they’d be patient enough.

Sayonara.

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Tomas Rosicky Unhappy About Lack of First-Team Action

Arsenal midfielder Tomas Rosicky fires the winner past Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris in their English Premier League game, 16 March. Reuters

Tomas Rosicky has been at Arsenal longer than I can remember. Arsenal was smart enough to sign him just before the 2006 FIFA World Cup and the Gunners licked their lips as they watched Little Mozart decimate defenses in the soccer fiesta with his sleek style of play, wonderful passing range and one hell of a thunderbolt from his right foot.

It didn’t take him long to announce himself to the Emirates faithful with a surface to goal missile against Hamburg SV. Rosicky rose to prominence in the 2007/08 season when he was part of that midfield quartet that almost won the Premier League. A nasty knee injury robbed Arsenal off his services for the best part of 18 months and on his return to full fitness, he suffered a couple of niggling injuries here and there.

With his advancing years, Rosicky had a renaissance in the tail ends of the 2011/12 season where he replaced an Aaron Ramsey struggling for form, fitness and confidence. Rosicky played a similar role in the 2012/13 season and he has endeared himself to the fans in more ways than one.

I and many other Arsenal fans out there were happy when Rosicky signed a contract extension and it was heartwarming to know that he’d will continue to grace the Emirates for a couple of more years. Some may say he’s 33, I know he’s ageless. In nine years at Arsenal, Tomas Rosicky has amassed 221 games and he has spent a large chunk of his Arsenal career on the sidelines with niggling injuries ranging from his groin to his knees and ankles.

He scored his three goals last season (a brace against West Brom and a screamer at White Hart Lane) and he featured consistently for the Gunners, predominantly in the attacking midfield position. The rise to glory of the Welsh Jesus, Aaron Ramsey, the irreplaceable Mesut Ozil and Jack Wilshere has limited the Czech’s chances of playing week in week out but from time to time, injuries and suspensions pave the way for Little Mozart to get run-outs.

As an elder statesman in the team, Rosicky’s influence has been a major positive off the pitch but on it, he hasn’t been afforded a chance to make his mark this season. Shortly before Czech Republic’s win over Holland, Rosicky took some time out to talk to the Press and he shared his current predicament at the club,

I am sorry that I did not get a chance, it’s a shame. While the team isn’t playing very well, I thought that I could help but if you’re not on the pitch there’s nothing you can do.”

They pressed him on whether or not he’d spoken to Arsene Wenger about it, and he replied, “I don’t want to talk about it. We had a little conversation! He does not want me leaving Arsenal, butof course for me it’s not easy.

“It is is too soon [to talk about a transfer]. We played five games, the season is still getting going.The Champions League starts, the schedule will be great“We’ll see how it looks in the coming weeks, months. I am disappointed that I did not get a chance, but that’s the only thing I can be.

I have to be poised for the moment, and to take my chance when it comes. That’s the only thing I can do.”

A simple case study would be Arsenal’s last Premier League encounter against Leicester City. The Gunners were playing in circles and a lot of the playing personnel struggled on the pitch. Laurent Koscielny suffered a gashed head and had to be replaced by Calum Chambers. Mesut Ozil had a torrid outing on the left hand side and Santi Cazorla was off the pace. Even the mecurial Aaron Ramsey didn’t turn up.

Ozil suffered an injury against Leicester. He also had a very poor game

This was the sort of game that needed a Tomas Rosicky but the manager opted to bring on Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for the ineffectual Cazorla and Lukas Podolski for the putrid Yaya Sanogo. Ox came on, had a couple of attempted dribble on the byline but he struggled as he suffered a knock. Podolski, on the other hand,waste of a space and he didn’t have any influence on the game whatsoever. Rosicky’s determination, drive, energy, work rate, sleek movement, technique and delightful passing might have come in handy for the Gunners.

He’s reaching the twilight of his career but Rosicky is a player that would give you 110% when he’s on the pitch.

With the Gunners challenging for multiple trophies this season, there’s a lot of football to be played and I’m sure that he’d get his chance. Rosicky is one player I admire and I hope that his first-team chances would come sooner than they later.

Sayonara.

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New Offer for Sagna, Selfies and Post-Tottenham Ramblings

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Last weekend, the title race took a new twist as Chelsea dropped some points while the chasing pack behind the all gained crucial victories as Manchester City eased past Hull with 10 men, Liverpool added more misery to David Moyes and the folks at Old Trafford and Arsenal got that crucial win over Tottenham.

In the wake of the victory, Arsenal’s derby hero, Tomas Rosicky, has been on the news lately, stating that Arsenal are gonna ignore their doubters and he can score more “big goals” for the club,

I am not a big goal-scorer but I can score big goals. I would like to get on the score-sheet more but for me it’s not easy.
“The team is more important so even if someone else scored I would be glad as long as we won the game. It means a lot because it is a derby and everyone knows how the fans feel about games like that so it is a great win.
“Defensively we were very good but we have to improve offensively if we want to win the league.”

It’s worth noting that Rosicky steps up for the Gunners in big games and he scored a brilliant solo effort when both North London rivals locked horns in January.

Elsewhere, Kieran Gibbs spoke about the teams ‘character’ and stated that it could lead the team to success this season. The collective defensive performance at White Hart Lane was exemplary and kudos must go to the Mertesielny combination for another amazing outings in the heart of Arsenal’s defense. Mertesacker had an amazing 20 clearances which would go down as one of the highest in a game.

You can’t speak about Sunday’s North London derby without talking about THAT SELFIE. Arsenal’s No. 1 shot stopper, Wojciech Szczesny, has taken out some time to talk about his selfie with some teammates that have become an Internet phenomenon among Arsenal fans.

Szczesny has stated that he wanted to pay the fans back for that awesome support in the NLD,

“I asked Paul Johnson [our equipment manager] to bring my phone on to the pitch after the game and grabbed a selfie with the Arsenal fans, which was brilliant,” Szczesny told Arsenal Player.

“They were fantastic all afternoon. They sang their hearts out and I am sure they enjoyed themselves. It was fantastic for us too and we wanted to give something back to them.”

As for the game itself, Szczesny accepts Arsenal were under pressure for long periods but he paid testament to the defence that protected him.

“It has been that way away from home sometimes,” he said. “We concentrated on defending.”They did not create any chances and the only one they did have [from Nacer Chadli] I pretty much gifted them.

“We were fantastic defensively. We scored early so they were always going to dominate the possession. But the two centre backs were outstanding then Thomas Vermaelen came on and we played with three centre back. He did well as well.”

“Overall it was a huge win for us. We knew that Chelsea had dropped points against Villa and we have to take advantage of that. It was very pleasing to get a win at White Hart Lane after quite a few years.”

The feeling of winning in a ground that has been a thorn in the flesh is heartwarming and I can only imagine how the players would celebrate winning Chelsea in Stamford Bridge. That would also be Arsene Wenger’s 1000th game for the club and it would be iconic. I wonder when his own statue would come up.

Finally, there’s an update concerning the Bacary Sagna contract saga and Goal.com’s Wayne Versey, has reported that the Gunners are set to offer the French full-back an improved offer.

“@wayneversey: Arsenal make Sagna improved contract offer – £75,000-a-week, 2-year deal with option of 3rd year. #AFC”

This would seem like the Gunners last stand with the French star and I hope he agrees to these new terms even if it’s believed that he might have bigger offers elsewhere.

I’ll keep you posted on the contract situation.

Sayonara.

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