Monthly Archives: November 2011

Arsenal vs Fulham preview and Gooner Daily celebrates its first anniversary

Gooner Daily's Birthday Cake 😀

On the 26th of November 2010 four graduates from the Federal University of Technology, Owerri, Nigeria decided to see each other for the first time since they left school. The meeting was scheduled for 11 am in Maitama, Abuja. The participants of the re-union were @Obitwyce, @I_am_Juba, @dkingpin and the Enigma that was born on the 10th of June thereby forming the Twitter handle @enigma106. After a few drinks and long dialogues about old school stuff, girls and money making plans for the foreseeable future, the latest trending topic was about the team we support, Arsenal FC. I_am_Juba is a red devil though.

Gooner Daily was launched that night and 365 days, 291 posts, 1314 comments and 234,451 hits later, the blog is celebrating its maiden anniversary. The blog has been very active on Twitter and it presently has 1,509 fantastic followers. The blog also has an ever-growing Facebook page that currently has 271 ‘likes’. 70 individuals also liked it enough to join its mailing list and these ever increasing numbers continue to inspire the blogger himself, @enigma106.

I would like to use this medium to express my profound gratitude to everyone that has been with Gooner Daily this past year. A lot of friends have been made over the year and I’ll also like to send a quick shoutout to dkingpin, Obitwyce, I_am_Juba, davicky1, ChuksBass, KaineRoberts01, Bukinho, daviruz, ogb_123, Sounak, Omar Almasri, Vijay Murali, HexyDre, Jaybdon, omomo14, DaygeeDr, BazHead14, ibikunlay, AdeGooner, bolz_odet, eromzy, sniqs, Goonerforlife52, LargeKatt, sleek004, Uchez2, harryubak, mayorbaze, zigbytes, Femisoro, q_e_d_14 and much more.

The list is quite endless but if your name isn’t on this list, bear in mind that you’re also remembered fondly.

Moving over to Arsenal news, The Gunners will play Martin Jol’s Fulham in the evening fixture today and a lot will be expected from both sides. In the buildup to the game, Arsene Wenger made a few comments about his side and he has told everyone that all his players will get a chance to play in the coming weeks ahead.

Andrey Arshavin has been an unused substitute in the past two games and the media Vultures have already created some fire with words that the former regular starter has now become a full-time fringe player but Arsene Wenger was quick to douse those flames:

“He’s not a back-up player but at the moment he doesn’t play, Maybe he will play on Saturday.

“I feel sorry for every player who doesn’t play but it is part of our job. Competition is part of our job and you must accept that in some periods of your career somebody can get in front of you.”

Competition is truly a part of football and Arshavin didn’t do well to keep his place with his inconsistent performances. Gervinho came in his stead and has been a better player by a mile with his brilliant play, assists and 2 goals even though he’s going through a phase in front of goal right now.

Since the loss to Tottenham on the 2nd of October, Arsenal has been in inspired form and they have gone on to win five Premier League games in a row as well as victories in other competitions. Robin van Persie has played a key role in this revival and the odds are firmly stacked on him to continue his amazing goal scoring run that has seen him surpass the 30-goal Premier league mark in just a calendar year.

From a Fulham point of view, the club’s primary right back Zdenek Grygera is out for the rest of the season after suffering a cruciate ligament injury but they will welcome John Arne Riise and former Arsenal trainee Steve Sidwell. Moussa Dembele, Bobby Zamora and Andy Johnson are good with the ball on their feet so Arsenal has to do well to contend with the threat they’ll pose. The presence of Brede Hangeland will also mean that they’ll be a threat from dead-ball situations so the likes of Per Mertesacker will have to be banked upon to use his figure to help his team’s cause.

Fulham certainly has some flaws that need to be exploited by Arsenal. For starters, their away form has been pretty woeful and they have a knack for conceding very late goals due to lack of concentration at the back. They don’t even score much goals so I believe that the trend might continue at the Emirates.

From an Arsenal perspective, Abou Diaby will continue his road to full fitness while Arsene Wenger has revealed good news concerning Jack Wilshere’s fitness. The Gunners are in great form and they’ll look to van Persie to continue hitting the back of the net as the Dutchman has scored 10 out of Arsenal’s last 15 goals and I believe that he has no plans of stopping.

The regular absentees like Kieran Gibbs, Carl Jenkinson and Bacary Sagna are still on the sidelines and no other player has joined their party in Arsenal’s physio room. Laurent Koscielny was replaced in the Dortmund game due to fatigue but I’m pretty sure that he’ll be raring to go today. Koscielny was Arsenal’s most featured player last season as he amassed up to 4,000 minutes of football in the four competitions he played.

For the potential starting lineup, Wojciech Szczesny will continue to be Arsenal’s custodian between the sticks but I think its high time the Pole tries his possible best to get a clean sheet because he has managed just one (West Brom) in his last six games. He had a clean sheet ‘double’ against Olymique Marseille though.

With the nonavailability of Kieran Gibbs, Andre Santos will continue to maraud the left full back position for Arsenal. Months ago, Edu promised the gooners that they were going to love the Brazilian and he has done well to win many hearts with his Samba style that involves great technique and great attacking verve. Laurent Koscieny will face a fitness test but if he’s not deemed fit enough Johan Djourou will deputize for him. Per Mertesacker and Thomas Vermaelen will continue to buildup their chemistry together and I expect another stellar performance from Arsenal’s vice captain.

The midfield triumvirate will be Lionel Messi………..Alex Song, Mikel Arteta and Aaron Ramsey. These three have blended perfectly with each other and their combination has unleashed the raw potentials of Alex Song and Aaron Ramsey. Arteta already had it in him.

There’ll be no guesses on that centre forward for today’s game but there are speculations arising that Andrey Arshavin will be given the nod ahead of Gervinho. Theo Walcott will complete the front three.

Last season, a scintillating display by Samir Nasri sent Arsenal to the top of the Premier League with two brilliant goals.

Enjoy the game wherever you are and thanks a lot for reading your daily Arsenal digest for an entire year.

Sayonara.

You can follow Gooner Daily on Twitter @goonerdaily. I’ll follow back

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Finally, you can join Gooner Daily’s Mailing List to get notifications of new posts by email

Tomas Rosicky considers his future and no Arsenal without Robin van Persie

Legends

With qualification to the knockout phase in Europe done and dusted, Arsenal has to focus its attention on the Premier League and that tricky Carling Spoon quarter final tie against Manchester City before getting ready for a busy December.

The team has been in scintillating form and Wojciech Szczesny has expressed his delight on his club’s performances on the pitch. Szczesny also spoke about the club’s newly found confidence and he stressed that the team feared no one. This Arsenal team has shown a very good level of maturity and consistency since that horrible Autumn evening at Old Trafford.

However, Laurent Koscielny believes that a new mentality has been the key reason for Arsenal’s change of fortunes:

“When we started the season we lost a lot of games and we had to do something to change that; all the players changed their mentality and we have seen that we have a good team. All of the players defend and attack and for us that is very important.”

“For two months we have been strong as a team, we have done the job well and defended very well. We have the quality to do something good in the Champions League and Premier League.

“The mentality of the team has changed and we are strong. Also we have the players who can make the difference, players like Robin, Gervinho and Theo.”

The past two months have been magical for the Gunners and the aforementioned names have been essential pieces of the club’s jigsaw puzzle. Gervinho came to the party when Arsenal hosted Stoke and he has been a constant thorn in the flesh of many opposition defenders all season long. Theo Walcott’s decision making has vastly improved and he has also used his pace to great effect this campaign to provide a few assists for his teammates.

Robin van Persie has been in another world of his own and his stats have made Arsenal an intimidating side to come up against in recent times. When Arsenal was to play against Marseille on Matchday 4 of the UEFA Champions League, the French team’s boss openly declared that he was going to “go hard” on the Flying Dutchman to get something out of the game.

Arsenal’s boss Arsene Wenger has also admitted that the club has been very reliant on van Persie but he has been doing extremely well to come up with the goods on a consistent basis. Wenger reiterated that Arsenal is not a one-man team but that’s the type of quote that comes into one ear and leaves through the other. If you search for Arsenal in a lexicon, van Persie’s picture will probably appear.

Wenger also said that he’s in a period where it’s natural for the striker to score more goals and he commented on the performances of Gervinho, Walcott, Andrey Arshavin and Aaron Ramsey. He also brought up info concerning van Persie’s deputies, Marouane Chamakh and Park Chu-Young saying that theyll get their chance in due time because the season is quite long and he doesn’t expect van Persie to play every game; he’s not Dirk Kuyt or Park Ji-Sung.

Tomas Rosicky joined Arsenal in the summer of the 2006 World Cup in Germany and he is renowned for his amazing ability to orchestrate the midfield with his passing, sleek movement and gifted technique that earned him the nickname “Little Mozart”. In five years at Arsenal, he has only managed 96 league 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 first goal since the Feudal Age last season when Arsenal played Leyton Orient in the FA Cup but the rise to glory of promising youngsters like Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere has limited the Czech’s chances of playing week in week out.

He’s approaching his twilight years so chances from clubs will be few and far between but an opening has come for the Czech captain because the media Vultures have reported that VFL Wolfsburg are looking to sign the playmaker to revitalize their deteriorating campaign that has seen the 2009 Bundesliga winners currently languishing at 11th place.

For what its worth, Rosicky might feel at home in the Volkswagen Arena because two of his friends (Aliaksandr Hleb and Jan Polak) are currently plying their trade for the German outfit. However, I’ll be saddened to see Little Mozart go because he certainly adds some depth to Arsenal’s squad and he offers a direct style of play to Arsenal’s attack. Arsene Wenger has the final say on the matter and I’ll keep you updated as the days go by.

Gooner Daily turns one today and I’ll give a brief review on about blogging for a year then I’ll top it up with the preview to the game against Fulham.

The tweet of the day goes to @StupidFootball:

@Stupidfootball: “Q: What does Arsenal and Batman have in common? A: They can’t do without Robin.”

But I’ve wrote a few days back that you should forget Cesc Batman, we’ve got Robin.

Sayonara.

You can follow Gooner Daily on Twitter @goonerdaily. I’ll follow back

You can also visit Gooner Daily’s Facebook page and click on the like button.

Finally, you can join Gooner Daily’s Mailing List to get notifications of new posts by email

Arsenal 2 Dortmund 1: Arsenal show their English counterparts how its done

In recent seasons, teams from the English Premier League have dominated Europe and they’ve been very consistent with the performances in the UEFA Champions League. In 2005, Rafa Benitez tore the script as the club with the best defense in Europe imploded to concede three goals in just 15 minutes and they ended up losing the game. Arsenal came close in 2006 but many factors ranging from Jens Lehmann’s red card and more surprisingly, Thierry Henry’s woeful finishing at the start of the game coupled with Barcelona’s brilliance.

Manchester United made it to the semis in 2007 but they were ousted by the eventual winners AC Milan. 2008 was England’s year as Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United all made it to the semis and the teams from London were made to wait some more for a first shot of Champions League glory. The Red Devils were also impressive in 2009 but they came up against an intergalactic squad that was filled up with Barc-Aliens. 2010 was quite disappointing from English football’s point of view  but Barcelona stood in Manchester United’s quest for glory last season.

Match day 5 of the UEFA Champions League had it all but the usually dominant English teams failed to live up to their bidding. Manchester City were given the blues at Napoli’s San Paolo, Manchester United conceded a quick-fire equalizer to Benfica while Chelsea lost right at the death to Bayer 04 Leverkusen.

The statisticians were at work again in the buildup to Arsenal’s clash against Dortmund with each stat going against the German outfit. They published that Arsenal’s home record against German sides was 8W 1D and 1L and Arsenal had won 20 of their last 25 at home in Europe’s elite club competition.

Mario Gotze was a name that was uttered a lot yesterday and many people expected to see why he’s probably worth 30 mil in the big stage and he duly stepped up the plate as early as the 25th second of play. He slotted in a calm through ball for Robert Lewandowski but Wojciech Szczesny was alert to the danger.

Andre Santos waltzed forward and nutmeged a defender before teeing Robin van Persie up but his finish let him down. Alex Song dallied on the ball and he was robbed off it but Shinji Kagawa’s attempt on target was poor. Aaron Ramsey located Walcott with a pin-point pass but Dortmund’s goalie was aware of the danger.

There were notable injuries suffered by the away side. Sven Bender was stretched off after a clash with Thomas Vermaelen while Mario Gotze didn’t really get a chance to show what he’s made of. Arsenal’s first attack of the first half was splendid and it was a shame that Weidenfeller came to intercept the ball in the key moment.

Laurent Koscielny picked Ramsey up before his carefully-weighted pass was going to Walcott’s direction. The winger hit a low early cross that was arriving at van Persie’s feet but the goalie showed great anticipation. Arsenal got the breakthrough in stunning fashion.

Alex Song invoked the spirit of Lionel Messi and singlehandedly took on five or more defenders showing quick feet before sending a cross that was headed home by van Persie. Arsenal’s faithful lit the atmosphere with songs like “There’s only one Song”  and “One-Nil to the Arsenal” but van Persie wasn’t done yet.

The miss of the game came up when Ramsey split Dortmund’s defense with a pass to Gervinho. The Ivorian charged down on the goalie but lost the ball in the pivotal moment. Sad.

Late on, the Dutchman showed amazing awareness as he was the first player to get one the end of Vermaelen’s flick-on to make it 2-0 from point blank range. That was his 17th goal this season and the numbers keep piling up for van Persie.

However, the party was crashed by Kagawa in the 92nd minute as he pulled one back for Dortmund after Song’s error on the ball. At the sound of the final whistle, the crowd that had a certain Thierry Henry and Roger Federer watching celebrated as Arsenal were heading straight to the knockout phase as the leaders of the group so Platini won’t be able to pair the club with Barcelona till the quarter final at least.

Szczesny (7.0) had a quiet day at the office and was on the end of many back passes in the first half.

Koscielny (7.5) looked very assured in the right back position and he’s turning out to be an able deputy for Bacary Sagna.

Vermaelen (7.5) coordinated the back line with valor and went forward to provide the assist for the match clincher.

Mertesacker (7.0) did okay against a club he played against in his Bremen days and has clearly gotten over his cock-up last Saturday.

Santos (7.0) showed his attacking verve down the left hand flank and was a joy to watch with the ball at his feet

Song (9.0) had a stormer in the midfield. Bossed the midfield like the general he is and made a Messi-esque run that saw him evade many markers to set up an assist of the season contender for van Persie. I’m really happy that Cameroon missed out on the African Cup of Nations.

Arteta (7.5) was brilliant with his short passes and steadied the midfield ship well. Made some sloppy passes though.

Ramsey (8.0) showed his amazing technique as well as close control to get the ball out of difficult situations. He also made two passes that split Dortmund’s defense like hot knife through butter but Walcott and Gervinho didn’t oblige to execute the finish that matched the proposed assists.

Walcott (6.5) didn’t really offer much offensively but did well to look like a right back at times. Supported Koscielny very well.

Gervinho (6.5) is turning out to be the shadow of the player that scored 15 goals for Lille last season. His buildup paly was good but his finishing was certainly atrocious.

Van Persie (8.5) showed his predatory instinct with two well-taken goals to increase his tally of the season to 17. Sepp Blatter and the rest of the chums at FIFA needs to let everybody know why van Persie was omitted for the FIFA Golden Ball 23-man list. Pathetic if you ask me.

Benayoun (6.0) didn’t offer much in attack but did okay generally.

Djourou (5.0) had a hand in Dortmund’s party spoiler.

Diaby didn’t get a rating but it was good to see the lanky player kick the ball again after centuries out of action.

This result certainly means that Arsene Wenger can afford to field relatively unknown chaps like Thomas Cruise and Kyle Bartley again as he did against the same Olympiakos in December 2009. That day the Greek side won the contest with a lone goal.

The Olympiakos game comes up before the home tie against Everton so it will serve as an opportunity for Wenger to field another 11 with the likes of Ryo Miyaichi and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in the spotlight.

Fulham comes up next and that fixture will coincide with the one year anniversary of Gooner Daily.

Yes, I started this blog on the 26th of November 2010 and look how far we’ve gone with it.

Sayonara.

You can follow Gooner Daily on Twitter @goonerdaily. I’ll follow back

You can also visit Gooner Daily’s Facebook page and click on the like button.

Finally, you can join Gooner Daily’s Mailing List to get notifications of new posts by email