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Some Thoughts on Arsenal’s Link with Raheem Sterling

You wouldn’t really blame a Nigerian like me for my blogging inactivity for the past two days. Firstly, nothing much was happening in the world of football from an Arsenal perspective. The international fixtures are still taking center stage and it was nice seeing Olivier Giroud in the score sheet while there were no injuries to make us fret. Secondly and most importantly, the Presidential elections were ongoing in my country, and I, like every other patriotic Nigerian out there, was glued to my TV screen to see how my vote panned out.

So back to the matter at hand, Raheem Sterling.

He has been in Liverpool for quite some time and he has grown into prominence in the side making himself indispensable to the first team in the past three seasons. This season, he has featured heavily for the Reds on the wings but with Mario Balotelli misfiring and with Daniel Sturridge missing out through injury for a considerable chunk of the campaign, Sterling was asked to put a shift as a center forward and he did well for his side. In 43 appearances for Liverpool this season, he has scored 10 goals which hasn’t been a bad return considering the fact that his ‘primary responsibility’ to his team is creating chances rather than scoring them.

According to the Daily Mail, Sterling is set to snub a bumper £180,000-a-week deal at Anfield with some indication that his mind is set elsewhere. The Mirror reported afterwards that the Gunners are planning to swoop for the winger, should he choose not to sign da ting. Arsenal were faced with such a contract dilemma with Theo Walcott a couple of seasons ago, but it’s funny to know that the Gunners might cash in on the winger this summer if they don’t reach and agreement and a player like Sterling would be an alternative to look at, even though he’d be an expensive one.

My biggest issue with Sterling has to be his inconsistent form, as he’s a player that’s capable of doing things on the pitch but he produces his hot and cold moments rather equally. This season, Sterling has played almost every minute of Premier League action for Liverpool (bar the wins against Sunderland (away) and Tottenham (home) scoring six goals and creating nine assists. However, his performance for England against Lithuania was stunning to say the least – three shots, one goal, one assist, 11 successful dribbles among other stats.

The lure of Champions League football could attract Sterling to a club of Arsenal’s caliber with the Reds fading away in the intense battle for European qualification reaching its business end. While Chelsea seem to be running away with the league, Manchester City, Arsenal and Manchester United are sure-fire favorites to grab the remaining Champions League slots, leaving the likes of Liverpool, Tottenham and Southampton to battle for a place in the Europa League.

Sadly, the winger might not be available with the likes of Sturridge, Steven Gerrard and Martin Skrtel when the Reds visit the Emirates on Saturday. It might have been an ‘audition’ in front of the Emirates faithful. Sterling is currently nursing a toe injury, so he’d have to face a fitness test to ascertain if he’d take to the pitch. With the winger having contractual issues with his club, he might be in the bad books of the fans and once the fans turn their backs on you, things usually go downhill from there. Just think about the case of my compatriot, Emmanuel Emenike, that ‘subbed himself‘ after having a row with his Fenerbahce fans.

With Theo Walcott and Sterling in somewhat familiar scenarios in regard to their contract situation, a player swap wouldn’t be a bad idea but in all honesty, I’d take Walcott over Sterling seven days a week. Walcott may not be the best in the winger in the world, but he guarantees goals and the last time I checked, goals win games.

I’d monitor this Sterling situation as it evolves.

 

Sayonara.

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Arsenal Transfer Rumors: Gunners Linked with Maxime Gonalons

Arsenal 'ready to sign £14.8m midfielder after request from Wenger'

It’s one of those mornings you wake up and think of those uphill tasks you have to do at work and when you’re a bit free at work, you’re like, ‘Aha, I haven’t blogged yet, but what the hell is happening in the world of Arsenal at the moment?’. Things tend to be very very quiet when the Gunners win with all the bad things the players have done swept under the carpet. I’d really like to see what’s under that carpet and I’m sure dust won’t be one of the things to look forward to seeing.

So these media vultures never get tired do they? Yes, it seemed as if the Gunners had some concerns with their spine as the holding midfield role was manned by two elder statesmen that have been giving to the best of their abilities but it probably wasn’t good enough for the fan base. Mathieu Flamini was a beast in his first stint at the club before departing for the greens of AC Milan and his second coming seemed like a renaissance as the fans loved his fiery attitude and his aggressive style of play but the cards kept on piling up with consummate ease the same fans got really angered when he received his marching orders against Southampton. Mikel Arteta on the other hand, played as a box to box midfielder in his first season at the club before accepting the role of being the club’s anchor man after Alex Song left for FC Barcelona and what he lacked for that role in brawns, he certainly made up for it in brains. Arteta is a very influential and vastly experienced player but he has had his fair share of injuries (long- and short-term) since he joined the club in 2011.

This season, Arsene Wenger summoned Francis Coquelin from his loan spell with Charlton and in his handful of appearances this season, he has been awesome. According to stats king, WhoScored, he has averaged three interceptions, three tackles and  3.1 clearances with an overall WhoScored rating of 7.39. Sometimes, stats don’t tell the full story but fans that have watched Coquelin this period can attest to the fact that he has been a revelation since he was thrust into the mix. His teammates have full confidence in his abilities and his ability to read the game and make a tackle / interception is exemplary for a young player. He’s also comfortable with the ball at his feet and he has been a breath of fresh air.

However, some fans view Coquelin as a ‘short-term’ fix and they whope that the Gunners are going to secure the services of another recognized defensive midfielders, with whispers of Morgan Schneiderlein gaining momentum and those ITKs (slang used in Nigeria for people that claim to ‘know’ a lot) are already stating that a fee has been agreed between the club and Southampton this summer.

The Metro has reported that the Gunners are ‘ready to sign’ Lyon’s holding midfielder, Maxime Gonalons. The French DM has been in good form for Lyon this season, averaging 4.1 tackles and 2.8 interceptions per game. Metro also reports that Tottenham and Napoli are interested in signing the £14.8m-rated midfielder. He has completed 89.3 percent of his passes this season, averaging of seven long balls per game. Gonalons doesn’t really make forays forward, but prefers to stay deep to sweep things up in midfield before laying a pass for the creative players to do their thing. Another advantage for the Frenchman is his versatility, as he’s also adept playing as a center back.

I’d follow this news closely but there’s a lot of football to be played between now and the summer.

Time to go for a 10.30am meeting.

Sayonara.

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In-Depth Review of January Premier League Transfers

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When it was recorded that clubs in England spent a whooping £863m in last summer, it was assumed that every team had probably addressed their needs. However, at the first half of the season, the deficiencies in several teams began to surface. It’s said that injuries to key personnel tend to bring up the ‘best’ or ‘worst’ in some teams and it’s sad to say that it was the latter for most teams.

Arsenal had to shuffle several partners for Per Mertesacker when Laurent Koscielny got injured, Manchester United had a sickening amount of injuries to the stage when Michael Carrick was asked to put a shift in defense, Manchester City’s attacking injuries saw a young lad like Pozo make his debut and Chelsea had some issues in goal from time to time with Thibaut Courtois’ injury paving the way for Petr Cech.

£130m was spent in this transfer window and Gooner Daily has decided to give an in-depth review on each team’s spending.

Arsenal

With the departure of Thomas Vermaelen in the summer coupled with the niggling lay-off for Laurent Koscielny and Matt Debuchy, the Gunners had their struggles at the back but the manager signed an unearthed gem in Gabriel Paulista and the fans are eager to see what he has to offer. The Gunners also craved for a new DM with Mikel Arteta’s fitness issues and Mathieu Flamini in poor form. Wenger recalled Francis Coquelin from loan (a stroke of genius) and signed Polish wonderkid, Kryztian Bielik.

On the other end, three attackers that had limited opportunities, Lukas Podolski, Joel Campbell and Yaya Sanogo went on loan to Internazionale, Villarreal and Crystal Palace respectively. Young goalie, Matt Macey, was loaned to Accrington Stanley while Benik Afobe was sold to Wolverhampton Wanderers after an impressive spell with Milton Keynes Dons.

Aston Villa

The Villans have been in the news for the wrong reasons as they currently hold the record for the least amount of goals scored in all the divisions in England. Paul Lambert seeks to address that with the acquisition of Valencia winger, Carles Gil, as well as a loan move for Manchester City’s reject, Scott Sinclair.

The Villans sold Daniel Johnson to Preston North End and Jordan Graham to Wolves and secured loan switches for Darren Bent (Derby County), Gary Gardner (Nottingham Forest) and Chris Herd (Wigan)

Burnley

The Clarets must be pretty much satisfied with their squad because there wasn’t much business done in both ends. Michael Keane came in from Manchester United and Alex Cisak was sent on loan to Leyton Orient.

Chelsea

Jose Mourinho and his transfer team were really busy this transfer window with no fewer than 14 players leaving the club to various destinations.

Fiorentina’s Juan Cuadrado was the only player that joined the club while there were loan departures for Marko Marin (Anderlecht) and Mohamed Salah (Fiorentina) while youngsters like Lewis Baker (Sheffield Wednesday), Todd Kane (Nottingham Forest), John Swift (Swindon Town), Alex Kiwomya (Barnsley), Nathan Chalobah (Reading), Tomas Kalas (M’boro) and Stipe Perica (Udinese) also left on loan. Fernando Torres (AC Milan), Mark Schwarzer (Leicester), Ryan Bertrand (Southampton) and Andre Schurrle (Wolfsburg) were sold.

Crystal Palace

Alan Pardew has been a revelation for the Eagles since his return but after a fairytale start, he was brought back down to Earth by Everton. It was expected that he was going to sign a couple of players and he was no time in bringing in Yaya Sanogo (Arsenal) on loan, Jordon Mutch (QPR), Pape Souare (Lille), Andreas Breimyr (Bryne) and Lee Chung-Yong (Bolton). Shola Amoebi was bought for free and Wilfried Zaha signed on a permanent basis.

On the other end, Andrew Johnson was released while some youngsters like Zeki Fryers (Rotherham), Jake Gray (Cheltenham), Lewis Price (Crawley) and Barry Bannan (Bolton) were sent out on loan.

Everton

Everton’s only piece of business this January was bringing Aaron Lennon on loan from Tottenham.

Youngsters like Chris Long (Brentford) and Mason Springthorpe (Fleetwood Town) were farmed out on loan while Hallam Hope (Bury) and Samuel Eto’o (Sampdoria) were sold.

Hull City

Struggling Hull signed Dame N’Doye from Locomotiv Moscow and loaned out Thomas Ince to Derby.

Leicester

In their bid to remain in the Premier League, Leicester signed Mark Schwarzer (Chelsea), Andrej Kramaric (HNK Rijeka) and loaned Robert Huth (Stoke).

The club secured loan moves for Jack Barmby (Rotherham), Tom Hopper (Scunthorpe), Callum Elder (Mansfield) and Adam Dawson (Bristol).

Liverpool

Liverpool spent a boatload of money in the summer so I had my doubts on them spending in January – and I was correct!

The club sold Oussama Assaidi (Al Ahli) and Suso (AC Milan) and secured loan moves for Sheyi Ojo (Wigan), Connor Randall (Shreswbury) as well as moves for Kevin Stewart, Lloyd Jones and Jack Dunn (Cheltenham)

Manchester City

The Arab moneybags were at it again, signing Wilfried Bony from Swansea despite the fact that he was in Africa playing for Cote d’Ivoire in the AFCON. The club was able to send out Sinan Bytyqi (Cambuur), Matija Nastasic (Schalke 04), Devante Cole (MK Dons), Jordy Hiwula (Walsall) and Scott Sinclair (Aston Villa) on loan.

Manchester United

No one spent more money than Manchester United last summer so I wouldn’t have been surprised if LVG spent again. However, the club made two free signings, Victor Valdes and Sadiq El Fitouri. The club also loaned Andy Kellett (Bolton).

The club sold Michael Keane (Burnley), Marnick Vermiji (Sheffield Wednesday), Sam Johnstone (Preston) and stalwart, Darren Fletcher, to West Brom. Ben Pearson (Barnsley), Will Keane (Sheffield Wednesday), Jesse Lingard (Derby) and Saidy Janko (Bolton) went out on loan.

Newcastle

Interim boss, John Carver, didn’t bring any player in but he sold Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa (Roma) and Davide Santon (Internazionale). The club also released Hatem Ben Arfa and shipped out Gael Bigirimana, Kevin Mbadu, Shane Ferguson, Remie Streete and Harks Vuckic to Glasgow Rangers.

Queens Park Rangers

QPR is renowned for making wholesale changes but Twitchy ‘ol ‘Arry snapped Ryan Manning (Galway Utd) and Mauro Zarate (West Ham) on loan. Jordon Mutch went in the other direction to Crystal Palace.

Southampton

The Saints secured loan moves for Eljero Elia (Bremen) and Filip Djuricic (Benfica). The club also sealed a permanent deal for Chelsea’s Ryan Bertrand. Jack Cork moved to Swansea while Artur Boruc (Bournemouth) and Jos Hooiveld (Millwall) had their loan moves extended.

Stoke

Mark Hughes made a permanent move for Phillip Wollscheid (Leverkusen) after he impressed in recent weeks. Robert Huth (Leicester) and George Waring (Barnsley) went on loan, while the club sold Ryan Shotton (Derby) and Maurice Edu (Philadelphia Union).

Sunderland

The Black Cats brought Jermain Defoe (Toronto) back to the Premier League. Jozy Altidore went back home (Toronto) along with Scott Harrison (Hartlepool) and Charias Mavrias (Panathinaikos, loan). Cabral was released.

Swansea

The Swans signed Matt Grimes (Exeter), Kyle Naughton (Spurs) and Jack Cork (Southampton) as well as sealing a loan deal for Benfica’s Nelson Oliveira.

Wilfried Bony was the big-money sale of the transfer window to Manchester City while Rory Donnelly (Tranmere) and Ryan Hedges (Leyton Orient) left on loan.

Tottenham

Spurs signed Dele Alli from MK Dons and sold Kyle Naughton to Swansea. Benoit Assou-Ekotto was released while Milos Veljkovic (Charlton), Grant Hall (Blackpool), Dominic Ball (Cambridge), Nathan Oduwa (Luton), Jordan Archer (Millwall) and Aaron Lennon (Everton) went out on loan.

West Brom

Tony Pulis signed Wigan’s Callum McManaman and Man Utd’s Darren Fletcher. Luke Daniels joined Scunthorpe and Bradley Garmston joined Gillingham on loan.

West Ham

The Hammers signed Doneil Henry from Apollon Limassol and sent Mauro Zarate (QPR), Paul McCallum (Portsmouth) and Sean Maguire (Accrington Stanley) on loan. Ricardo Vaz Te, Blair Turgott and Matthias Fanimo were released.

That sums up the transfer business conducted in January.

Sayonara

Bielik Deal Done, Gabriel Paulista Next?

There’s something about the January transfer window. It’s like that kinda girl you have a thing for but can’t really do anything because of the ‘barriers’ here and there. At Arsenal, there have been a couple of transfers in this window but not all of them have gone all the way to make significant impacts. The most expensive January signing the club has ever made was that Russian hobbit that hit the ground running like a house on fire but as the years went by, he lost some form and confidence before shipped away in a blue ribbon to his former employers.

At the beginning of the season, the club did some good business in replacing the departed Lukasz Fabianski and Bacary Sagna with David Ooooooooooooooooospina and Matt Debuchy. Calum Chambers and Alexis Sanchez were the other additions but it was glaring that the club needed a new center back especially after selling Thomas Vermaelen to Barcelona. There was also talk of getting a new defensive midfielder but a center back looked more like a priority.

When Laurent Koscielny got injured, Arsenal’s lack of depth at the back was badly exposed with makeshift center backs like Nacho Monreal, Chambers and even Debuchy featuring alongside Per Mertesacker. Mikel Arteta’s fitness issues as well as Mathieu Flamini’s niggling injuries / poor form raised concerns for a new DM… then the Coq came along and his fantasy story continues. There has been some whispers about an ‘arrangement’ to sign Morgan Schneiderlein in the summer but the Coq-y one would serve as the club’s interim mitigation plan in the holding midfield role till the summer. However, the club has purchased 17-year-old Polish wonderkid, Kryztian Bielik, for a fee believed to be around £2.5m. Of course, the YouTube folks have created some compilations and he looks really decent and I hope he gets his debut during the Brighton game.

Which brings us to the next question – which center back is going to join Arsenal this January? Talks of West Ham’s Winston Reid has been gathering momentum but the Hammers want £8m for a bloke with barely five months left on his contract. What are they smoking at Upton Park? Or preferably, what type of gum is the big Walrus chewing?

Out of the blue, the Spanish Press emerge with speculation on Villarreal’s Gabriel Paulista and the player himself has been talking about being ‘calm’ as things are progressing. The last time Arsenal and Villarreal did business, they actually paid some money (£2m) to buy Pascal Cygan. I really hope his spirit doesn’t linger in the dressing room affecting other players and all, but there could potentially be some problems in the Bautista deal because the lad might have work permit issue.

I’d keep you updated as things unfold.

Sayonara

Bielik Having Medical. Will Arsenal Sign Another DM?

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When you see Arsenal fans clamoring for a DM like the way some young men crave for sex, you can’t really blame them. These are the same set of fans that saw the likes of Patrick Vieira and Gilberto Silva don the famous red and white jersey. Alex Song looked like a diamond with very rough edges in the start of his career with the club but after a loan move to Charlton, bulking up a bit and the manager clearly showing confidence in the lad, he rose to prominence till when he decided to leave for the shores of Spain.

In Song’s absence, the selfless Mikel Arteta has taken the mantle of being the club’s holding midfielder but where he lacks in brawn, tenacity and being a commanding presence, he makes up for it with intelligence, calm, dictating the tempo and being one of the best passers in the Premier League. However, Arteta has two niggling issues – 1. He’s reaching the twilight years of his career and most importantly, 2. He’s an injury prone player. Maybe age is taking its toll on his body and performances but since he was given the captain’s armband this season, Arteta has featured just 12 times for the Gunners with his last game coming in late November. To make things worse, we have learned that he’s going to be out for another three months after he had surgery to remove a bony (not Wilfried) spur in his ankle.

His backup, Mathieu Flamini, struggled a bit in the start of the season but he has also had his own injury issues to contend with. That’s where a certain Coq comes in. Since his recall from loan in Charlton, Wenger has thrust Coquelin into the thick of things and the midfielder has revitalized his Arsenal career. His tackle-first-ask-questions-later approach has been lauded by the fans and many wish to see him continue his good patch of form.

But the question remains – was Arsenal going to buy a new DM the fans wanted so badly? Many are dying to see William Carvalho due to his rugged and tenacious style of play but was does the great Wenger do? Sign up some ‘wunderkid’ from Legia Warsaw.

Of course, I took the step to go into YouTube to check a few clips of the lad because I won’t come here and tell you I know a lot about him. For a 16-year-old, he’s quite confident and he has a decent passing range. What’s most interesting about him is his height that could be an advantage for him in the near future. At least, the lad has admitted that he’s not ready but I have a hunch that Wenger would be putting a close eye on him and if for instance, we have clinched our usual fourth place with a few games to spare, I’d expect to see him play a game or two.

We are at the halfway point of the transfer Window and there’s still a lot of business to be conducted. Let’s just hope that Arsenal isn’t done.

Sayonara

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