Monthly Archives: June 2012

10 Things You Need to Know About Olivier Giroud

Olivier Giroud_1

Giroud…..Something new for defenses to worry about

Every Arsenal fan looks forward to the summer for more reasons than one.

In recent times, things have been a bit gloomy in the Red half of North London with the lack of silverware being a cliché that has haunted Arsenal’s loyal fans. Every summer offers these set of individuals the opportunity to regain fresh optimism in the team they love and support.

Last season proved that, despite experiencing a tumultuous summer and a shaky winter, the Gunners enjoyed a resurgent autumn and the consistent run in spring made the season end in full bloom.

While the European Championships offered us some necessary distraction, transfer activity has been at an all-time high, with the media Vultures doing their bit to link Arsenal to every footballer in the Milky Way.

Wenger scouting his latest signing

Last season, it took an 8-2 mauling in the hands of Manchester United to open Arsene Wenger’s eyes in the worst possible manner and he removed the dust off Arsenal’s cheque book to make five acquisitions from all over Europe.

The media Vultures sang sweet tunes about Gary Cahill and Chris Samba, labelling them as Arsenal’s defensive messiahs but Arsene Wenger opted for ze Big F*ckin Giant, Per Mertesacker, that added his vast experience, height, composure and coordination to the heart of Arsenal’s defense. It is unfortunate to see his season cut short by that pitch fit enough to rear cattle called the Stadium of Light.

Down the years, Arsenal had been graced with great left backs in the form of Nigel Winterburn, Sylvinho, Giovanni van Bronckhorst, Ca$hley Cuntly Cole and Gael Clichy. Kieran Gibbs was next in line to get a shot at glory but countless niggling injuries hindered his progress, so Wenger opted for Andre Santos, a Samba boy renowned for so much attacking verve with equally adept defensive capabilities.

The departures of Cesc Fabregas and $amir Na$ri were very bitter pills to swallow but life had to go on after such monumental losses. Arsenal had lost legends like Patrick Vieira and Thierry Henry before them but the world as we knew it didn’t come to an end. Up stepped Mikel Arteta, the hair gel specialist that integrated himself into Arsenal as a vital cog in the midfield engine. Arsenal was greatly affected by his absence through injury.

Wenger also injected some experience into the squad in the form of Yossi Benayoun, that has been there and done that in the Premier League. He was at the fringes for a large chunk of his loan spell but he was immense in the club’s surge for Champions League football in the tail end of the campaign.

And there was Park Chu-Young. I reserve my comments.

Arsenal has added a new attacking piece to its jigsaw puzzle. He’s a forward that has been labelled as a typical Arsene Wenger signing; shrewd, well thought of and relatively unknown.

These are the feats that have made Wenger a household name in the transfer world.

Arsenal is delighted to announce the signing of Montpellier Herault SC’s Olivier Giroud on a long term contract.

Without further ado, here are 10 things you need to know about Arsenal’s new acquisition.

MASSIVE THREAT IN THE AIR

Giroud is an imposing figure that has a strong build with a height of 6′ 3″. Last season, he had one of the best records in European football, as he won the most aerial duels in Europe’s top five leagues last season, at a staggering percentage of 73%.

Giroud was a regular target for Montpellier’s goalkeeper through goal kicks and his ability to knock down the ball for his teammates played a key role in instigating many attacks. This will certainly be a move Arsenal will be keen to exploit, as locating a player in Red and White will be no different from what Giroud did with his previous teammates donning the Blue and Orange of Montpellier.

Giroud is also a massive presence in the box, defensively and of course, offensively. Last season, he lurked around the the near post defending a lot of corners for his team but it’s really awkward to know that out of the 21 league goals he scored for Montpellier, only one was scored with his head.

A CLASSIC TARGET MAN

Montpellier used the 4-5-1 tactical setup in most games last season and you don’t need a soothsayer to tell you the striker that spearheaded the attack, Olivier Giroud. The forward loves playing with his back to goal and his ball retention skills are excellent.

He is also a selfless player and it’s worth noting that Giroud was involved directly involved in 30 of Montpellier’s 68 goals scored in Ligue 1 last season. While shattering the opposition net on 21 occasions, he laid on nine assists to his teammates.

NOT INJURY PRONE

If you review Giroud’s career by the numbers, you’ll find out that Giroud has played consistently in his previous clubs without any serious injury lay-off.

In just two seasons with Montpellier, Giroud notched up an impressive 86 appearances while a player like Abou Diaby has over 112 appearances in six seasons with Arsenal. We should also bear in mind that Giroud played as the lone striker for most of these games on a consistent basis.

You’ll have to have the DNA of  Park Ji-Sung, Dirk Kuyt and an Ox (the animal, not Oxlade-Chamberlain) to keep up with such fitness levels.

HIS FAIR SHARE OF SILVERWARE

Our last trophy, sighs

If you take a vivid look at Arsenal celebrating the 2005 FA Cup final, reality would don on you to know that the only remaining existing member of that title-winning lot is Robin van Persie, as Manuel Almunia has been shown the exit door by Arsenal.

This clearly means that this present crop of Arsenal players haven’t gotten that bliss feeling of standing on a podium while celebrating a trophy, with the exception of Sebastien Squillaci, that won lots of trophies with Olympique Lyonnais as well as a Europa League trophy with Sevilla.

Giroud on the other hand, received his first stint of silverware with Montpellier Herault SC, as they shocked the football world by winning their maiden Ligue 1 title. Like Robin van Persie, Giroud also received a personal award, as he was given the Ligue 1 Golden Boot for blasting in 21 goals.

Like I stated earlier, he scored only one goal with his head but he smashed in 16 goals with his favorite left foot, five with his weaker right, two penalty kicks and five more piledrivers from outside the box.

Like Robin van Persie, it’s fair to say that he scores when he wants.

CLOSE FRIENDS WITH LAURENT KOSCIELNY

Giroud and Koscielny “setting P”

Giroud and Koscielny were teammates in Tours FC in the 2008/09 season. In that campaign, Giroud scored nine goals in 23 appearances (14 goals in 27 appearances overall) while Koscielny scored five goals in 34 league appearances (six goals in 39 appearances overall) earning a place in the Ligue 2 Team of the Season after a brilliant campaign.

Koscielny was snapped by FC Lorient the following season, but Giroud remained at Tours FC for one more season, scoring 24 goals and supplying seven assists in 42 appearances before moving to Montpellier.

It’s fabled that Giroud is in a bromance with Koscielny.

They are an inseparable pair that are always together in the dressing room, the bus, team photos, training, tennis and even dinner. After securing his move to Arsenal, Giroud stated that Arsenal is an amazing club with a great French coach and his bro, LoLo is playing there too.

I’ve heard people call Koscielny the Bosscielny or Kos the Boss, but LoLo?

Be the judge of that.

HIGHLY RATED BY ARSENE WENGER

What Arsene Wenger can see sitting on the dugout, we the fans can’t see it at the highest point of the stadium.

I can vividly recall how the fans wanted Jack Wilshere to have a second spell with Bolton, but Wenger justified his decision to keep Wilshere with his performances all season long. Wilshere is currently indispensable to Arsenal.

I’m certainly no AKB (Arsene Knows Best), but I can’t recall any manager in world football that has made shrewder yet classy signings than Arsene Wenger.

When Le Boss sees that raw talent in a player, he goes for him and uses his alchemy to transform the player from Lead to Gold. Like many shrewd signings before him, Arsene Wenger rates Giroud highly and he has aired his views on the forward to the media Vultures.

“I think he has exceptional potential and will integrate very well in our collective and our way of playing. He’s a real team player and knows how to combine with other players and I’m sure he will do well with us.” – Wenger, before signing Giroud.

After securing his signature, Wenger had this to say:

“He has proved that he is capable of performing at the top level with club and country, and we saw what a big influence he was in Montpellier’s championship-winning side last season. We all look forward to Olivier joining us and seeing him play in an Arsenal shirt.”

We can only hope for Giroud to be like LoLo rather than ChiAmaka, or Chamakh as he’s known in this part of the world.

TWITTER

Twitter is a very powerful social networking platform that has connected so many people with others with the same interests. Footballers also use this platform to interact with their fans giving them info on their activities and what have you.

Arsenal has its fair share of tweeps in the form of Jack Wilshere, Robin van Persie, Johan Djourou, Bacary Sagna, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Andre Santos and a host of others.

In his Montpellier days, Giroud’s Twitter handle was @GiroudMHSC but he has changed it to @GiroudOfficial.

Click on the link to follow Arsenal’s new boy and don’t forget to follow @goonerdaily while you’re at it 😀

FITS INTO ARSENAL’S STYLE OF PLAY

Even Arsene Wenger has stated that Giroud will fit into Arsenal’s fluid and intricate style of football that involves the use of a steady passing play, great off the ball movement, the use of a playmaker, target man and a patient build-up while frustrating the opposition defense.

Giroud is a technically adept footballer that is good with the ball at his feet. He knows how to link his teammates up and he knows when and how to hold up the ball to bring his teammates into the game.

He’s very good with his head and unlike Chamakh, he’s good with his feet in front of goal. He also lays assists to his teammates making him a complete all round center forward.

However, Arsene Wenger has to find a way to integrate Giroud into the starting XI as Robin van Persie remains the focal point of attack. Despite being a lethal predator in the box, van Persie is betted suited in the Dennis Bergkamp role behind the striker, so pairing him up front with Giroud with Lukas Podolski and Theo Walcott in the flanks will reap dividends.

Giroud has already declared that he has all the weapons to do well at Arsenal:

“I’m a player who likes to play, who likes to participate in the game. That’s why I think the way Arsenal play will suit me. I like scoring goals and Arsenal create a lot of chances, so if I do well, then we will do well.

“Of course, there are big strikers here, it is a big club and there will be a lot of competition for places. But it’s up to me to win my place.”

GIVES ARSENAL OPTIONS IN ATTACK

The mere thought of seeing Giroud, Podolski and van Persie on one pitch excites me more than a kid receiving that present he always wanted from his parents. The prospect of watching these three Gunners interchange roles in attack as well as making those swift one-two passes have placed a butterfly or two in my tummy.

Should Robin van Persie decide to remain at Arsenal, the heavy burden of goalscoring will certainly be alleviated and the presence of Podolski and Giroud should draw defenders away from Van Persie, or it could be the other way around.

This certainly indicates that opposition defenses will have more things to worry about when playing Arsenal.

HE WORKED HIS WAY TO THE TOP

“Yes, I’m conscious of the path I took to get here.

“I’m proud of that and how I got here. I can see what happened to me until now and I hope to continue to progress and show that I can impose myself at the top level. It’s been great right now, I want to live it to the full, and I’ll savour this chance.”

These words are coming from a player that started his career at the depths of French Ligue 2 football and has progressed massively with each passing season. He began his career at Ligue 2 outfit, Grenoble Foot 38 and made a handful of appearances before going further down to FC Istres, a National outfit (Third Division).

His eye catching performances in FC Istres prompted Tours FC to get a signature. A move that saw him smash in 38 goals in 69 appearances in just two seasons.

Montpellier Herault SC came calling with an even bigger challenge but Giroud helped his team to a 14th place finish in his first season at the club scoring 14 goals in 43 appearances. Last season, Giroud contributed immensely to his team’s cause with 21 goals in Ligue 1 and four other goals in Cup competition.

He has began a new chapter in his life, and we as Arsenal fans wish him the very best.

Fernando Torres and Andy Carroll cost a whooping sum total of £85m, and they managed to amass 10 goals and 6 assists.

Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud cost Arsenal roughly £21m but their collective output to their teams last season resulted in 39 goals and 16 assists.

In Arsene We Trust.

Sayonara.

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

Feel free to visit Gooner Daily’s  Facebook page and click on the like button.

You can also join Gooner Daily’s Mailing List to get notifications of new posts by email by clicking on the Follow button

England Licks its Wounds and Jack Wilshere the new ‘Pirlo’

Unless your line of sight is no different from Ashley Young or Ashley Cole when they took penalties for the Three Lions, you must have noticed that I’ve tweaked things a bit in the blog and I hope you like it. 😀

With a gaping net looking at both players from 12 yards out, Young preferred to kiss the bar while Cole handed his effort on a platter to Gigi Buffon. This meant that the penalty curse of England continued and the nation will have to wait till the World Cup in 2014 for another shot at glory.

At least, they “prepared for immortality” but they had some life in them after all.

Arsenal’s Theo Walcott was tipped to do great things in the Euros after enjoying a successful club campaign by his standards.

Walcott’s English shenanigans and escapades can be starred as a Hollywood movie; from booking a flight to Germany in 2006 as a kid without making any appearance to watching the 2008 Euros at home with his fellow teammates after the nation’s failure to qualify. From missing out entirely on a World Cup berth in 2010 for having “no football brain” to making it to the 2012 Euros only to play second fiddle to James Milner throughout the tournament.

Walcott was given the same jersey number the legendary David Beckham donned in this tournament but I was bewildered and perplexed when he was brought on for Welbeck in the 89th minute or so against France. He made a great cameo appearance against Sweden, making the difference for his country with a Cristiano Ronaldo-esque goal and supplying a brilliant assist for the Danny Welbeck winner.

However, caution was thrown to the wind in the final group stage game against Ukraine, as it was believed that he had picked up a niggling hamstring injury.

Against Italy, Walcott and Andy Carroll were meant to offer a new lease of life to the English attack but Scotty Parker kept feeding the winger with awkward balls that he could never reach.

I have a hunch that the Spurs man wanted the Gunner to “suffer” a bit in the name of chasing a through ball. However, he was replaced by a peripheral Jordan Henderson that offered no dimension for England in his cameo appearance.

I’m no Woy Hodgson but I would have called Michael Carrick up after Frank Lampback of  Notre Dame picked up a thigh injury. That’s another argument for another day.

Walcott told some media Vultures that England’s exit from the tournament was cruel but he’s confident that his country has a very bright future ahead.

He also backed the Ashley duo that gaffed from 12 yards, labelling them as one of the most experienced lot in the dressing room and he believes that they’ll bounce back to become even stronger for England.

In a tournament where Lukas Podolski and Xabi Alonso joined the 100 mile-high club for their nations, players like Ashley Cole, Steven Gerrard and Philip Lahm came close to a century of appearances for their nation.

Walcott also stated that lessons have been learned from the quarterfinal exit and his nation is looking forward to their 2014 World Cup qualifiers.

As expected, England’s manager, Woy Hodgson, has taken some positives from his team’s Euro 2012 performance. For the first time in centuries, there were no high expectations on this English outfit and eyebrows were not raised when they bowed out in the quarterfinals.

They were expected to scale through from a group that had France, Sweden and co-hosts, Ukraine but getting pole position in that group was a success in my opinion.

It was unfortunate that the English side had to lock horns with a great nation like Italy, but if you want to win any tournament, you have to play the best teams and win as well.

I’m not going to delve too deep into tactical analysis but England was piss poor in some games in the tournament. Their performance in the quarterfinal against a team of the same ‘calibre’ like Italy was an aberration and I was glued to my television as I witnessed wave after wave of Italian attacking play all game long.

Some players like Steven Gerrard, Joe Hart, Danny Welbeck, Theo Walcott and the legendary ex-girlfriend shagger John Terry (annoyingly) made a very good account of themselves while the likes of Ashley Young and James Milner failed to stand up to the occasion despite given countless opportunities.

Managers get some right while they get some wrong but leaving Adam Johnson at home was a poor piece of judgment in my opinion. Like the Michael Carrick exclusion, that’s an argument for another day.

Hodgson’s optimism for this England side has been fueled by the emergence of some promising young players. The likes of Kyle Walker, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Jack Wilshere missed out through injuries but their potentials are very massive. Others like Danny Welbeck, Andy Carroll and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain got a shot of top flight elite international football and they’ve certainly be hungry for more in the near future.

Like my nation Nigeria, the English football team is going through a rebuilding phase and I believe that Woy still remains the best man for the job.

Speaking of men and jobs, Twitchy Ol’ ‘Arry Redknapp has been in the news recently and it had nothing to do with the England job, tax evasion or a new twitch on his face.

Sir Twitchy has highlighted the importance of producing “an Andrea Pirlo of our own” if England are to truly compete on the world stage, and has stated his belief that Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere is exactly the type of player who can fill such a role.

Redknapp said,

We must learn a lesson from this and do our utmost to produce an Andrea Pirlo of our own.

“Look at Pirlo against England – he had no pace, strength and he’s ancient. But what a fabulous display.

What we have got to do is bring through kids who as defenders will be happy to bring the ball out and forwards who want to receive the ball in tight areas surrounded by the opposition because they are comfortable in possession.

 “Strangely it was the absence of Jack Wilshere which was felt most keenly. He can be our Pirlo, he’s the type of player I’m talking about who doesn’t rely on strength or speed – he’s a genuine footballer.

This is the best thing I’ve heard Redknapp say in a very long while.

Taking it into perspective, Wilshere is a player that can emulate the legendary Andrea Pirlo because he possesses the vision to make that killer pass, he likes to dwell on the ball, dictate tempo and reads the game magnificently.

He showcased his eagle eye for a pass with that brilliant assist for Nicklas Bendtner against Ipswich in the Carling (now Capitol One) Cup semifinal second leg. Wilshere is indispensable to Arsenal and he was duly missed last season.

I can’t wait to see him strut his stuff this season alongside Mikel Arteta and Alex Song. Who knows if a Yann M’Vila will be added into the fray.

The semifinals wont take place today, so I’m in for a serious dose of Football Manager 2012. I might upload a couple of great strikes from van Persie and Marek Hamsik (Unlike Wenger, I bought him) in my YouTube page.

Despite being a proud Nigerian, I’ll always love my Arsenal as well as the nation that has won,

Two world wars and One World Cup, England all the way.

Sayonara.

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

Feel free to visit Gooner Daily’s  Facebook page and click on the like button.

You can also join Gooner Daily’s Mailing List to get notifications of new posts by email by clicking on the Follow button

Italy vs. England: How the Better Team Won (Picture Special)

Pure Class

So, my predicted semi-finals are Portugal vs Spain and Germany vs Italy. It will be the death of football if Greece play England. Let’s wait and watch. – Supreetkini

They say that pictures send a clearer message than words and I’ve decided to dedicate today’s post to the best quarterfinal fixture in the European Championships. This is also for the benefit of those folks that missed the game for reasons best known to them.

Enjoy!

It’s a new week and the world will take another deserved break from the European Championships.

The last quarterfinal fixture turned out to be the most exciting as the Italians dominated the proceedings from kick-off to Alessandro Diamanti’s match winning penalty.

Daniele de Rossi drew first blood with a shot Ricardo Quaresma would have been proud of. A stunning volley with the outside of his left book that left Joe Hart scrambling but the post spared the goalies blushes.

Glen Johnson made one of his Liverpool-esque slalom runs and some shaky defending from the Azzurri allowed the full back to test Gigi Buffon from six yards out. Luckily for Italy, there was no venom on the shot but the legendary goalie did well to keep the ball out of his net before smothering it on his second attempt.

Close shave

Andrea Pirlo was a general in midfield and he pulled all the strings in the Italian midfield like the chief puppeteer he is. He lofted a superb over the top through ball to Mario Balotelli that was on side, but the forward dallied on the ball and was closed down by the legendary shagger, John Terry.

Wayne Rooney and Danny Welbeck shared a Manchester United moment as both strikers connected well with a neat one-two but Welbeck killed a bird in the sky with his attempted side-footed effort.

Balotelli had a scissor kick drive that was also saved by Hart

Unlike Spain that bored me to tears with their predictable passing game, Italy tossed England around and showed great intent, creating chance after chance.De Rossi missed a sitter from less than two yards out but Hart came into the fray again when he stopped the AS Roma midfielder’s stinging shot before saving Mario Balotelli’s shot as well. Riccardo Montolivo fired his effort over the bar.

Wily Ol’ Woy Hodgson brought Theo Walcott and Andy Carroll to add some attacking verve to his team but Italy continued to dominate their illustrious English counterparts. Steven Gerrard had a free kick from quite some distance that almost went all the way to Buffon’s net but the goalie kept the ball in his sight despite Wayne Rooney’s attempt to impede his vision.

With just minutes to spare in regulation time, Claudio Marchisio chipped a brilliant ball over England’s defense to the feet of Antonio Nocerino. The AC Milan defender controlled the ball superbly and launched a shot that would have beaten Hart nine times out of ten but Johnson was on hand to make a great goal-saving tackle.

Right at the death, England made a late surge against the run of play and almost broke Italian hearts. Ashley Cole waltzed forward from the left before lofting a cross across the goal mouth. Andy Carroll used his body mass well to guide the ball into Wayne Rooney path and Manchester United striker prepared for immortality with a bicycle kick that would have put his name in the back pages.

Unfortunately, a rocket in orbit incurred the wrath of Rooney proposed shot.

whew, that was close

Extra time beckoned and the Italians picked up where they left off. Nocerino thought that he had won the game for his nation with a header when Alessandro Diamanti dinked in a cross for him. The goal was ruled offside.

Offside

Joe Hart’s reaction after the goal was ruled out was priceless.

Whew!!!!

Over 500 passes, 68% ball possession, 36 goal attempts, seven corners and 120 minutes of great Italian football was not enough to win the contest. The world held its breath as both sides went through the lottery of a penalty shoutout.

Balotelli kicked off the shootout against his club colleague, Joe Hart. They exchanged pleasantries in the build up to the spot kick but the maverick’s shot went into the bottom corner.

Balotelli slotting his effort past Hart

Steven Gerrard took a long walk and stepped up confidently facing the unforgiving eyes of Gianluigi Buffon. He dispatched his effort past the goalie to level the contest for England.

Riccardo Montolivo hit his penalty hard and low but it also went wide off the mark.

Montolivo covers his face in shame

Wayne Rooney was tasked with an opportunity to handing England an advantage by converting his own spot kick. A feat he performed admirably.

Nice spot kick by Rooney

While Andrea Pirlo took his time to get to the box, Joe Hart seemed like an imposing figure, making funny face at Pirlo, like the way those Rugby folks taunt their opponents before a match.

However, Pirlo’s penalty was the C in class. A cheeky lob through the middle that left Hart for dead.

Damn!

Ashley Young was next in line to take a spot kick to increase England’s lead yet again. The winger has taken his fair share of penalties  in his Aston Villa days, but he smashed his effort at the cross bar.

Ashley Young slamming the cross bar

Antonio Nocerino knew that a goal for Italy would put one foot in the semis pending on subsequent shootouts. He sent his spot kick past Hart to put the scoreline at 3-2.

Up stepped the next Ashley with the funny hair-do. Ca$hley Cuntly Cole is a decent penalty taker on his day, but his effort against a keeper of Buffon’s quality was one of the poorest spot kicks I’ve witnessed in a long while.

Poor penalty by Cashley

The misses from the “Ashleys” meant that a goal from Alessandro Diamanti, a player that has plied his trade in England with West Ham, was going to put his name in the history books for scoring the decisive penalty that was to send Italy to the semifinals.

And history he made…

Sayonara England

And that’s how the better team won.

There was enough time for this…

As well as this…

A familiar feeling at Arsenal….an ENGLISH team

The Italians revelled in their glory while both Ashley Young and Ashley Cole hoped for the ground to open up and swallow them.

I love Arsenal and the English national team, but seeing Ca$hley Cole miss a penalty was a bitter sweet feeling.

The quote of the day belongs to FourFourTom,

I hope you enjoyed the picture special.

Sayonara.

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

Feel free to visit Gooner Daily’s  Facebook page and click on the like button.

You can also join Gooner Daily’s Mailing List to get notifications of new posts by email by clicking on the Follow button