Monthly Archives: June 2012

Player Departures, Olympics Selections and Transfer Speculation

memories

In lightning quick speed, the month of June has waltzed past the football world and there have certainly been some events and occurrences that kept the lovers of the beautiful game occupied.

From an Arsenal perspective, the month of June saw the Gooners witness their ambassadors represent their nations in the European Championships. Each Gunner had his own weight of expectation placed on his shoulders but some stepped up their game while others fell by the road side.

The month of June also coincided with the arrival of two new attacking pieces to Arsene Wenger’s jigsaw puzzle for the forthcoming season, Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud.

Podolski was watched closely by Arsenal fans in the Euros but he had an average tournament in my opinion. It was good to see him cap his 100th game for Germany with a goal against Nicklas Bendtner’s Denmark but I must commend Prinz Poldi for his disciplined performances for his nation.

He supported Philip Lahm admirably on the left hand flank and I’m looking forward to seeing him wear the Red and White. Has he selected a jersey number yet?

Giroud on the other hand, was a peripheral figure for Les Blues, as his manager, Laurent Blanc, preferred the 4-2-3-1 tactical setup, with Karim Benzema spearheading the attack. Giroud’s only telling competition in the tournament would have been in the France’s final group fixture against Sweden.

He came off the bench to glance his header wide with basically his first touch of the game. It was a moment that would have made the greatest striker that ever lived, Nicklas Bendtner, proud as he came off the bench for Arsenal for score a goal in 1.8 seconds, making him the fastest ever scoring substitute for the Gunners.

Fastest goal as a sub

However, today being the end of the month of June, also marks the day many teams wave their goodbyes to those players that have joined new employers elsewhere or were not given contract renewals.

At Arsenal, some youngsters have failed to impress the club enough to hand them new deals. George Brislen-Hall, Sean McDermott, Gavin Hoyte, Rhys Murphy, Jeffrey Monakana, James Campbell and Alban Bunjaku (Sold to Sevilla) have been axed.

To be honest, I axe the same folks on Football Manager 2012. ūüėõ

Two senior players, Manuel Almunia and Yossi Benayoun have also been shown the door by the club.

The former was further down the club’s pecking order for selection so he was freed to loosen up the club’s wage bill. He has even admitted that he’s too lazy to move out of London so he’ll probably be on the hunt for a new club in the capital. The latter honored his loan contract with the club and has gone back to his parent club, Chelsea, after filling Arsenal hearts with fond memories.

Not only for his long Isreali locks, beak of a nose or sultry dribbling skills, Yossi Benayoun made 25 appearances for Arsenal and had six goals to show for it.

He opened his Arsenal account in a 3-1 win over Shrewsbury Town in the Carling Cup (now Capitol One Cup). He followed it up two months later with a stunning volley in a dead-rubber Champions League group stage match against Olympiakos. ¬†He headed home Arsenal’s winner from a corner kick at Villa Park and waited for four months before putting the nail on Wolves coffin with an emphatic finish in Arsenal’s 3-0.

In his final footballing month with the club, he scored two vital strikes against Norwich and West Brom, thereby contributing immensely to his teams cause in their bid to play Champions League football in the forthcoming season.

Benayoun confirmed his exit from Arsenal using the social networking platform, Twitter,

At the age of 32, Benayoun was certainly going to struggle for a place in the first team against the younger and more energetic folks, so he did what was best for him to wave his goodbyes to Arsenal. I don’t see him playing much at Chelsea either, but a transfer to a mid-table Premier League outfit or other decent teams in Europe won’t do him any harm.

His career path has seen him play for Hapoel Be’er Sheva, Maccabi Haifa, Racing de Santander, West Ham United, Liverpool, Chelsea and of course, Arsenal. I wish Benayoun all the best in his future endeavors and I believe that he’s going to be a Gunner at heart.

You can follow him on Twitter @YossiBenayoun15

Moving on, Arsenal like every other European juggernaut out there, is going to have its fair share of ambassadors representing their nations in the forthcoming Olympic Games.

Stuart Pearce omitted David Beckham from his Team Great Britain squad with the over age wild cards going to Hugh Giggs Hefner, Craig Bellamy and Micah Richards. However, Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsey and Kieran Gibbs have made the provisional list¬†with Henri Lansbury being another contender for selection.

Elsewhere, Johan Djourou, Ryo Miyaichi and Park Chu-Young also got call ups from their respective nations.

Djourou featured sparingly for Arsenal last season so the Olympic Games with give him a chance to get some games under his belt before returning to the club. Miyaichi has a successful spell at Bolton but his future still remains in the balance, and I like many other Gooners out there can only hope that Arsenal secures another season-long loan spell for him.

Park Chu-Young on the other hand, can use the Olympic Games as an avenue to put himself in the market. He has clearly been a failed project at Arsenal and a move elsewhere will be in everyone’s best interest.

Finally, I’ll share some transfer tidbits buzzing the Arsenal world in the past days.

Starting with potential arrivals, Arsenal has been linked with Italian shot stopper, Emiliano Viviano. Wojciech Szczesny is the club’s chief custodian between the sticks but his deputies, Lukasz Fabianski and Vito Mannone, seek moves elsewhere, so an ideal replacement is needed in the goalkeeping department.

Youngster like Emiliano Martinez and James Shea are waiting patiently for their chances too but Viviano will give Szczesny a run for his money, as an air of complacency crept into his game in the tail end of last season.

Moving over to potential departures, rumors linking Robin van Persie to countless galaxies beyond haven’t stopped. This time, it’s the oil-rich Paris St. Germain that have emerged as the new suitors seeking his signature. I’ve read so many articles regarding this van Persie saga and it’s becoming tiring.

All I can say is that Arsenal has done well to sign two forwards that will add depth to the squad if he stays, or act as adequate cover if he decides to seek greener pastures elsewhere.

However, Olivier Giroud has stated that he’ll prefer to play alongside van Persie, instead of replacing him.

Andrey Arshavin is another player many Gooners want to see leave the club but his proposed move to Zenit could be in jeopardy after his infamous quotes after Russia’s exit caused an outrage in his nation. There are even calls for the¬†diminutive Russian to be stripped off the captaincy and to be retired from international football.

Denilson is also on the spotlight, as the Sao Paulo hierarchy would like to secure another loan spell for the much-maligned Brazilian. They claim that we want Denny back after watching him in Brazil and were “impressed by his performances”.

In my bid to serve your daily Arsenal digest better, Gooner Daily is launching a new website, and it’s going to be launched before the start of the new season.

To my WordPress.com and email followers, rest assured, because I still have all your email address in a vault and I’ll automatically subscribe you to the new blog once it’s launched.

To my esteemed readers, Facebook ‘friends’ and Twitter followers, thanks for keeping the flame burning since November 2010.

A special shout-out goes to the members of my Arsenal BlackBerry group, Team Gooner Daily, Bobby, Moyo, Edosa, McDreamy, BhydemiBrainz, D’ Sun (Mallam Ramsey), Davicky, Dondeon, Swaggermundo, Arch1kid, Mayorbaze, Kiz Kid, K Stunner, Obitwyce (Oga Jonah), Ovonovic, Rot, Wilson, Yeezy, Dr. Vokenacci, Kaine, Steph, Rogo , iamOGB, Da Viruz and Musty.

Ashanas, you guys rock!

Sayonara.

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More on Giroud, Freddie Speaks and the Dark Horses in the Finals

Many will label Italy’s semifinal victory over Germany as an “upset”, but both there was a bit more to the Italian triumph.

Gianluigi Buffon was in inspired form, the defensive combo of Andrea Barzagli and Leandro Bonucci was impregnable, the full backs maintained their balance, Andrea Pirlo was his imperial self and Super Mario was on fire.

However, it started with some German attack as Pirlo spared Buffon’s blushes with a goalline clearance while more miscommunication between the legendary goalie and Barzagli would have resulted in an embarrassing own goal.

Italy drew first blood when Antonio Cassano made mince meat of a couple of German defenders before lofting a cross that was nodded home by Mario Balotelli. Toni Kroos and Sami Khedira stung Buffon’s hands with long-range piledrivers but the goalie was equal to the challenge.

Cassano fashioned another defense-splitting through ball for Riccardo Montolivo but the attacking midfielder dallied on the ball and a good chance went begging.

Montolivo made amends when he supplied a diagonal through ball to the Italian maverick, Balotelli, that beat the offside trap to blast in an emphatic finish that left Manuel Neuer rooted to the spot. The striker showed off his swagger with a celebration that saw him take off his shirt to give a Mr. Olympia-esque pose.

Why Always Him?

As expected, people went haywire on various social networking platforms but this tweet certainly caught the eye,

https://twitter.com/FM12Tweeter/status/218421226627014656

Germany’s manager, Joachim Loew, declared his attacking intent by bringing on Marco Reus and Miroslav Klose for Lukas Podolski and Mario Gomez. Podolski didn’t light up any fireworks and Gomez was a peripheral figure throughout the first half.

Reus was a thorn in Italy’s flesh making some mazy runs that put the Azzurri defense on the back foot. The new Borussia Dortmund acquisition swerved in a brilliant free kick over the wall but Buffon bellied his years to make a great save.

Germany pushed on for the goal that was going to bring them back in with a shout but they left gaping holes at the back. Claudio Marchisio and Antonio di Natale spurned chances to put the game beyond doubt.

The ref awarded the Germans a penalty late on and it was duly dispatched by Mesut Ozil even though Buffon guessed the right way. The ref’s final whistle was like music to Italian ears as the tournament’s Dark Horses progressed all the way to the final when nobody gave them a chance.

The stage will be set for a mouthwatering final and we all hope to see the new kings of Europe. Just like the UEFA Champions League, teams hardly defend their titles. People have criticized Spain for their boring passing game but it has gotten them to another final.

Besides, Vicente del Bosque will let everyone know when he gives a fledgling fuck.

Moving on to Arsenal news, ex-Gunner, Freddie Ljungberg, has returned to the spotlight, as he had so many nice things to say about the club he notched up 313 appearances for. Good old Freddie declared that Arsenal is a big part of his life and he still keeps in touch with his fellow old hags that donned the Red and White.

He played sweet tunes on Pat Rice, stating how he helped the defensive unit, with Ca$hley Cuntly Cole being one of the benefactors of Rice’s tutelage.

He also talked the current crop of players,

‚ÄúI enjoy watching the current team ‚Äď it‚Äôs a young side and will hopefully get better and better. With the addition of one or two good signings, things look bright.‚ÄĚ

We all know about the newest signing, Olivier Giroud, and I shared some interesting facts about him. However, Giroud hasn’t left the back pages yet, as he remains a talked-about figure in several destinations all over the world.

Respected French football journalist, Philippe Auclair, has decided to give his take on Arsenal’s new signing.,

“He is around 6ft 3in tall, so you would be talking in principle about a typical target man who you can hook the ball to and hope he holds it up. But he is not just that, though. He has huge physical presence, but one of the main characteristics of his game is his intelligence and willingness to find his team-mates in the danger zone. He is very alert to the runs made by his wingers, and is known for his link-up play as much as his finishing.

“He is terrific with his back to goal, at receiving the ball sometimes from awkward angles and, crucially for Arsenal when you think of their style of play, he has the technique and intelligence to play first touch. He doesn’t offer just a physical presence, an aerial presence and a danger in front of goal, but he is also incredibly quick-thinking and quick-footed.”

Auclair went on to say that Giroud should be a 15 to 25 goal per season striker in the Premier League and he’s a very adaptable character, so he’s going to thrive well in the Premier League.

Like Lukas Podolski, many Gooners can’t wait to see Giroud strut his stuff for Arsenal and we’ll witness that for the best part of 10 months next season. If a respected football figurehead like Auclair believes that Giroud can produce 15 to 25 goals, the prospect of watching him play will be mouthwatering to say the least.

Elsewhere, Arseblog News reports that Giroud’s first club, Grenoble Foot 38, is going to receive around¬†‚ā¨600,000 as part of the transfer deal. Giroud spent seven seasons with the lower division outfit but the club is currently playing in the fifth tier of French football after going bankrupt in 2011.

They will definitely welcome the money with open arms.

That’s today’s bit folks.

Have a great weekend.

Sayonara.

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

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Good News on Wilshere, Arsenal to play Nigeria and Transfer Speculation

The European Championships returned to our TV screens yesterday with the first semifinal tie between Spain and Portugal. The Spaniards continued their relentless passing game but Portugal matched them pound for pound.

Cristiano Ronaldo had a vast array of free kicks but he kept killing birds in the sky. Late on, the Iberians on white launched a counter attack that put Spain on the back foot but Ronaldo wasn’t in the same wavelength with everyone else. Extra time beckoned and Andres Iniesta had a glorious chance to kill the contest but Rui Patricio made a great stop.

120 minutes of football wasn’t enough to get a winner, so a penalty shoot-out stood between both teams and a place in the finals. Xabi Alonso, Joao Moutinho and Bruno Alves missed their chances but I must commend Sergio Ramos for pulling out a script from the Andrea Pirlo movie to delightfully chip the ball past Rui Patricio.

He already has a planet to his name after launching his penalty into orbit in the Champions League semifinals and there was no point creating a new one.

Cesc Fabregas repeated the same feat he achieved against Italy in the last Euros, scoring the penalty that won the game for his nation. Spain aim to be the first team to successfully defend their European Championship title but we’ll have to see what Germany or Italy has to say about that.

Still sticking with the Euros, Manchester United’s Rio Ferdinand¬†expressed his disappointment¬†on not seeing more of England’s youngsters in the competition. He declared that he is a “fan of the Ox” and he wanted to see more of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in the tournament but he turned out to be a spectator, as Ashley Young and James Milner kept disappointing.

He was also surprised that Phil Jones failed to make any appearance in the tourney. With Harry Redknapp touting Jack Wilshere for the “Pirlo” role, Ferdinand stated that England had its own Pirlo in the form of Michael Carrick but he wasn’t called up.

Speaking of Wilshere, the¬†Metro¬†has reported that the midfielder is¬†making good progress¬†in his rehabilitation and he’s now poised to step up his training regime, which includes more work on the ball, after spending countless times on the gym to strengthen his ankle.

Wilshere has been out for the best part of a year and his influence on the pitch has been badly missed. Arsenal has stated  that they expect Wilshere to return ahead of the new season, despite the player having a minor knee operation in May that cleared up a long-standing issue.

There are still options for the club to play the box-to-box role and caution must be thrown to the wind when handling Wilshere’s issue because it’s very delicate and we wouldn’t want to have any further setbacks again.

Moving on to transfer news, I’m sure you must have heard about the bullocks regarding Robin van Persie’s future and I don’t intend to bore you with that.

However, I can report that Real Sociedad has¬†made an official bid¬†for Carlos Vela, but it’s way below Arsenal’s asking price. I know that Arsenal has been regarded as a club that is “all about the profits” but we have to cut our losses and let Vela go to a club he’ll be happy plying his trade.

He had his chances at Arsenal, despite being infinitesimal, but he clearly failed to impress and I was surprised to see his exploits in Real Sociedad last season. He’s further down the pecking order for a place as a striker or a left winger, so Arsenal has to do the right thing to let our chipper-in-chief go.

The club has also¬†increased its asking fee¬†for the greatest striker that ever lived, Nicklas Bendtner. Bendtner has told us that he’s under the radar of many teams in the galaxy and I won’t give a rat’s ass if an intergalactic team from a nebula beyond come around for his services.

He’s available for just ¬£8m. It’s not too much to ask for the world’s best striker, is it?

Finally, the Gunners are going to visit my nation, Nigeria, to take on the Super Eagles in a friendly on the 5th of August in the National Stadium, Abuja. The match is scheduled to kick off by 4 pm, local time.

Tickets for this game will appear in¬†Arsenal.com¬†from the 4th of July, and I’ll keep you posted on those details.

My nation is currently ranked 60th in the world (what a shame) but we’ve learned that the Gunners are going to field a strong side against us and our manager, Stephen Keshi, is going to follow suit to showcase Nigeria’s finest.

As a thoroughbred and proud Nigerian Gooner, I’m going to watch the game live and I also hope to take a picture or two with some Gunners.

I guess it’s high time I customize my “Forget Batman, we’ve got Robin” T-shirt.

Sperie Customs¬†will help me do that. ūüėÄ

Sayonara.

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

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