Monthly Archives: July 2012

Latest Injury Updates and my Take on Arsenal’s ‘Deadwood’

After licking the wounds of the painful yet meaningless friendly defeat to Manchester City, Arsenal had one final chance to give their faithful fans something to be cheerful for when they visited Hong Kong to play Kitchee FC.

 

However, it was a familiar case of “same ol’ shit, different day” as the Gunners put up more atrocious defending in the first 45 minutes before playing a bit better in the second.

 

Theo Walcott gave Arsenal a glimmer when he grabbed the first goal for the visitors but Thomas Eisfeld spared his team’s blushes with an equalizer late on.

 

Eisfeld has been one of the better young guns that graced the Asian Tour and the likes of Chuks Aneke and Craig Eastmond were equally impressive. Considering what I witnessed from Marouane Chamakh, I’d say that Benik Afobe needs another loan move out the club.

 

Kieran Gibbs was uncharacteristically piss poor and Ignasi Miquel had an on and off tour by his standards. Thomas Vermaelen earned a place in the spotlight for his grabbing chronicles and the cuddly maverick, Andre Santos, showed so much attacking verve but was a big concern in his defensive duties.

 

Arsene Wenger has acknowledged that some work has to be done defensively and we hope that he, Steve Bould and his defensive crew go back to the drawing board to teach these able-bodied to stop defending like toddlers.

 

The team has one more preseason fixture against Lukas Podolski’s previous employers, FC Cologne, and I’m sure that the fans are longing to see a strong lineup to start the game because Sunderland will visit the Emirates a week later.

 

Many Gooners are expecting to see their new boys, Podolski and Olivier Giroud, strut their stuff against the Black Cats but they may have to wait a little longer as Wenger has hinted that he intends to “ease” them into the Premier League.

 

If Arsenal starts their Premier League curtain raiser against Sunderland with Robin van Persie leading the line, the fans won’t have much problems per se. The last time I checked, van Persie was Arsenal’s get-out-of-jail-free card when Sunderland visited the Emirates last season.

 

Moving over to transfer gossip, tales of Nuri Sahin and Santi Cazorla joining the club has gained so much momentum but as expected, nothing concrete has surfaced.

 

At least, we haven’t heard that the deal is 99% done unlike how it was acclaimed that the Gunners had signed a French sensation from Rennes. It has also been reported that Arsenal is chasing another “wunderkid” from Southampton and you’ll have to raise an eyebrow for this bit.

 

Arsenal has already signed two “wunderkids” from the Saints and the world has seen how both deals panned out. The other speedy merchant has had a career that can easily be a Hollywood blockbuster while the younger Ox has been treated like an egg in the club’s bid to “protect him”.

 

No bid has been made for this Shaw bloke and we’ll probably hope that he’ll singlehandedly win the league for Arsenal in 2026. My only piece of advice to Mr. Shaw is that he should be careful when chilling next to a “cross”…the last Shaw-cross has a bit of history with Arsenal.

 

That’s just me yarning dust.

 

While there has been speculationof players arriving at Arsenal, so much emphasis has also been laid on those folks seeking greener pastures elsewhere.

 

Robin van Persie has dominated the headlines far too long and if I get £1,000 for every time his name has been written on this blog, I’d have secured enough pounds to give Arsenal an offer the club can’t refuse.

 

The fans want him out and the club would prefer to sell him abroad. This means that I’d stand a good chance on signing the Flying Dutchman in my fantasy team that’s NOT BASED in ENGLAND. 😀

 

The club has confirmed that Park Chu-Young, Sebastien Squillaci and the world’s best striker, Nicklas Bendtner, will be shown the exit door sooner than later.

 

The first two names in this aforementioned list endured torrid campaigns last season and were content with having their salaries at the end of each week without producing any output on the pitch. Will you blame them though?

 

Fingers should be pointed at the man that brought them to the club in the first place. Yes, Wenger has been renowned for using his top-notch alchemy to change footballer from lead to gold but like every mad scientist out there, Le Boss has had his fair share of failed experiments, and Park and Squillaci belong to this list.

 

Bendtner on the other hand, is a striker that I’d like to see continuing his trade at the Emirates, but the striker is so confident about his ability, and he’s certainly not content with a place in Arsenal’s bench.

 

Their exits will further reduce Arsenal’s massive wage bill and such funds could be used to finance new deals for Alex Song and of course, Theo Walcott. However, it has been reported that Arsenal is about to hold talks concerning a new deal for…Andrey Arshavin.

 

Yes, Andrey Arshavin.

 

The owl that has been on Arsenal’s bad book lately. The lethargic and lackadaisical attacking midfielder everybody wants out of the club.

 

To wrap things up, Jack Wilshere has been scheduled to return in October and we can only hope that he doesn’t suffer another setback. It’s sad to know that Ryo Miyaichi has joined this League of Extraordinary Fragiled Boned Gentlemen that’s headed by Abou Diaby.

 

For those that don’t know, Diaby took a quick vacation from his prestigious league and he’ll be back before you know it. For those that don’t know again, Manuel Almunia has joined Watford on a free transfer.

 

Finally, for those that don’t know…this is the part I pull the plug on this post.

 

Sayonara.

 

 

My Thoughts on the Defeat Against Manchester City

Thomas Vermaelen grabs Sian Massey during Arsenal friendly

The two-day blogging break wasn’t entirely my fault. My internet service provider was acting like a hybrid goalkeeper with DNA from Heurelho Gomes, David James and Manuel Almunia while my telecom network’s fuckery was epic in every proportion.

Arsenal played a high-profile preseason fixture against those moneybags from the Etihad Stadium in China’s Bird Nest. The heavy downpour and the harsh weather conditions provided a stern test for both sides but Arsenal did the playing while their English counterparts did the, you know, scoring!

The game was played in a somewhat frantic pace but it had its fair share of entertainment. For the first time since the days King Arthur ruled Camelot, Arsenal blasted in a considerable amount of shots on target. Manchester City’s goalie, Costil Pantillimon, had a stormer as he proved to be a hunched back colossus between the sticks but Lukasz Fabianski was blameless for both goals conceded.

There was also that awkward moment when Thomas Vermaelen got “up close and personal” with the female assistant referee, Sian Massey. It was a heat-of-the-moment stuff as the Verminator ran towards the touchline to clear the ball but he was in full momentum, causing him to collide with Madam Massey. Arsenal’s captain’s impact would have been enough to send her crashing into an advertising board but the Verm turned into a superhero by grabbing her waist to save a damsel in distress.

From an Arsenal perspective, I’ll like to share my thoughts on the game from the various playing positions of the squad.

Starting with the goalkeeping position, Lukasz Fabianski hardly put a wrong foot all game long but he must be unhappy for conceding such goals from a somewhat crappy defense. Aleksandr Kolarov got in behind Carl Jenkinson and his drilled effort wasn’t dealt well by the Arsenal defense. Yaya Toure pounced on the ball and fed Pablo Zabaleta for a well-taken finish.

In my opinion, the second goal was offside.

The tale of Arsenal’s defense has been a much talked-about topic in recent times because of the way it has been handled. There was a point in time when Arsene Wenger managed an impregnable unit at the back but such memories are gone with the wind. At the start of the game, Arsenal started with Thomas Vermaelen and Kyle Bartley at the heart of the defense with Kieran Gibbs and Carl Jenkinson on the flanks.

Many have been quick to criticize the fullbacks but they offered a lot in attack and were carved open defensively.

Carl Jenkinson arrived at Arsenal to understudy Bacary Sagna but the injuries he suffered last season hampered his progress. For a considerable part of the last campaign, Arsenal used make-shift fullbacks to help the team’s cause but they didn’t really offer much in attack, and they weren’t that impressive defensively.

However, Jenko looked out of sorts on Friday but we should remember that he’s still in a steep learning curve. We also have to remember that Arsene Wenger’s 4-2-3-1 setup encourages a lot of movement from the fullbacks to support the attacking play and finding the balance remains an issue for youngsters like Jenkinson and Gibbs (Andre Santos as well).

Jenkinson wasn’t afraid to waltz forward and he had two splendid efforts on goal: one put Pantillimon on his toes while the other missed by a lick of paint. On the left flank, Gibbs showed great movement on the left but like Jenko, he was found wanting when Manchester City hit Arsenal on the break.

The center backs fared well in the heart of Arsenal’s defense with Vermaelen on the spotlight for more reasons than one but I was hugely impressed with Ignasi Miquel for his tenacity and persistence when he tackled the opposition. He still remains down the pecking order and he’ll have a role to play in the club this season (back up for injuries and the Capitol One cup, I presume).

Wenger and Bould must go back to the drawing board to right a few wrongs showcased in the match against Manchester City. Arsenal has to work on getting the balance right in regards to timing of attacks by full backs and cover being provided by holding midfielders when our full backs do attack.

The midfield was pretty impressive as they dominated the proceedings all game long and they fed the Arsenal attack with defense-splitting through balls which failed to reap dividends. Arsenal began the game with Alex Song enforcing the midfield with support from Abou Diaby and Mikel Arteta while the likes of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Chuks Aneke, Francis Coquelin and Thomas Eisfeld got run-outs after the break.

Song picked up where he left off with more trademark through balls but the attacking line wasn’t in the same wavelength with him. Arteta held the fort and kept his balance but it was good seeing Abou Diaby complete an entire half unscathed. Arsenal fans have been reduced to rating Diaby by his ability to stay on the pitch rather than the efforts he puts on it.

After the break, the young guns caught the eye and the Ox’s screamer that hit both posts was a pleasant site. The Ox began the second half in the position he excelled so well against AC Milan last season but he drifted to the left when Eisfeld arrived. With Jack Wilshere, Tomas Rosicky (injuries) and Aaron Ramsey (Olympic Games) still out, I’d love the Ox to start at the tip of the midfield in the opening games of the forthcoming season.

Francis Coquelin also put up a good performance in midfield, he showed great footwork and had nice ideas on the pitch. However, I was a bit concerned with the way that Dracula, Carlos Tevez, shoved him off when Manchester City launched a counter attack down the left. Tevez fed his compatriot, Sergio Aguero, but the forward was too casual with his finish.

Coquelin is a player with bags of potential and he’s probably the reason why Wenger hasn’t delved into the market to get Yann M’Vila and the rest of the holding midfield lot linked with Arsenal. There are some interesting stats juxtaposing between Coquelin and M’Vila in an article written by Bleacher Report‘s Allan Jiang.

It’s worth a read.

Finally, on Arsenal’s attack, I’ll begin with a comment written in fellow Bleacher Report writer, James Dudko‘s article,

…And the fact that Arsenal still don’t have much efficiency at the tip of the spear, Gervinho wasn’t the most clinical and Chamakh looks totally out of depths. I know wenger has added Giroud and Podolski, but in case of anyone of these getting injured, our striker position will become extremely fragile. Afobe is not quite ready yet.

The three-man attack manned by Theo Walcott, Andre Santos and Gervinho was very toothless. Usain Bolt Theo Walcott had made a big fuss about trying to play through the center and he got his chance on Friday but his only telling contribution to the game was a curling shot that went wide off the mark. Gervinho ran at the Manchester City defense but his output on the final third equated to zero. Marouane Chamakh was in another world of his own but I enjoyed his back heel for Craig Eastmond that was lashed wide.

With the speculation of van Persie’s future rife, Arsenal has to ensure that they do the right thing in the attack because we can’t lay our eggs in the African attacking basket, if you know what I mean.

Nonetheless, it was a good run-out against the Premier League’s defending champions and I’m looking forward to a more routine game against Kitchee  SC.

Sayonara.

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Captain Verm, Return of the King and More on van Persie

podolski10 2

Image via Arseblog News

With the first pre-season fixture done and dusted, eyes are firmly fixed on Arsenal’s match against a familiar foe, Manchester City, in the magnificent Beijing Bird’s Nest Stadium, a ground that has overawed Thomas Vermaelen. There has been no love lost between both sides in recent seasons, as it has been fabled that Arsene Wenger’s Army has become a feeder club to their oil-rich counterparts.

A lot has been going on at the club recently, as the team confirmed its squad numbers for the forthcoming season. Wojciech Szczesny has taken the jersey that was worn by legends like David Seaman and Mad Jens Lehmann, Olivier Giroud took the jersey vacated by Thierry Henry in his second coming while Francis Coquelin took the No. 22 jersey.

However, Lukas Podolski appears to be waiting patiently for Robin van Persie’s No. 10 jersey as he probably believes that his preferred option could be freed up by the Flying Dutchman’s exit.

Van Persie has dominated the headlines all summer long for more reasons than one. His current situation at the club has been made public, from his statement revealing that he wasn’t going to renew his contract to the way Arsenal has handled the transfer saga so far. Arsene Wenger has reiterated his desire to keep him times without number, and ESPN Star reports that he has told Manchester United and Manchester City to fuck off, as he doesn’t intend to strengthen his rivals.

With Arsenal not prepared to sell van Persie to their Premier League rivals, Juventus would be in pole position to secure his signature. The Italian giants have a great prestige but they made an initial meager £8m bid that was turned down by Arsenal.

The Telegraph reported that Juventus are preparing a second bid for Robin van Persie which, significantly, will be close to the £20 million threshold set by Arsenal. They are also prepared to make Van Persie the highest paid player in their history, with wages of around £190,000 per-week on a potential five year deal.

With the summer is well ahead of us, van Persie is certainly not short of options but Arsenal will only let their prized asset go when a club brings an offer worthy of a sale. Arsenal wants to keep van Persie because he’s the club’s best player, a feared and lethal predator in the opposition area and he’s capable of leading the club to glory.

Laurent Koscielny recently signed a new deal, much to the delight of the Arsenal faithful but he has also urged van Persie to remain at the club,

“Giroud and Robin van Persie can play together. Van Persie is one of the greatest strikers in the world. We all want him to stay and help Arsenal win a trophy.”

“I trust Arsene Wenger and I had to continue with him. Giroud wanted to have information [about Arsenal]. I did my job and told him that Arsenal was a club where there was everything he needed to improve.

Like Koscielny, I and many Gooners out there have high hopes for Olivier Giroud and I must express my disappointment in not seeing him as part of the squad involved in the Asian tour. Arsenal has a final preseason fixture against Lukas Podolski’s former employers, FC Cologne, before the Premier League curtain raiser against Sunderland so we’ll get a chance to see Giroud strut his stuff.

In other Arsenal related news, Thomas Vermaelen has expressed his delight in seeing his defensive partner, Laurent Koscielny, sign a new long term contract.

“I heard the news that Laurent extended his contract and I’m really happy. From the start when he came to Arsenal he has shown he is a great player and he is developing really well. I think he has done everything for the Club already and I hope he will stay a few more years.”

Vermaelen also spoke about his pride in leading the team currently basking the Asian sun,

“First of all I want to say that I am only captain for now. Last year I was vice-captain for Arsenal and I was really proud to be in that role for such a big club.

“I dreamed to play for this club and to play an important role as a vice-captain. It makes me really happy to help the players and help the team go forward and win trophies this year.”

The Verm is a dedicated, vocal, coordinated, influential and composed defender that can lead the line for years to come. He arrived in the shores of England after a good spell at Ajax Amsterdam. It was fabled that Vermaelen was watched over 49 times by Arsenal’s scouts to confirm that he was the man for Arsenal’s defense and he has proved that because he’s presently regarded as Arsenal’s star defender and he’s a regular starter whenever he’s fit.

He scored a header in his Arsenal debut against Everton in Goodison Park and his stellar performances didn’t go unnoticed as he was awarded a place in the 2009 PFA Team of the Year. A lot was expected of the Belgian defender in his second season at the club but an Achilles tendon injury he sustained in international duty kept him out of action for the best part of seven months. Vermaelen has also been plagued by injuries in his third season with the club.

Its high time he gets the band

Vermaelen has made 91 appearances for Arsenal thus far and he has 14 goals to show for it. In the poll created below, a large percentage of the Arsenal faithful want the Verm to be the first player to walk out on the pitch on the 18th of August against Sunderland.

I’m one of them. -__-

I’m looking forward to seeing the newly improved Arsenal backline under the tutelage of Steve Bould. Vermaelen’s quality is unrivaled and Koscielny was a massively improved player last season. I can only hope that the left fullbacks step their game up because Bacary Sagna is the football S.I. unit for consistency.

A collective defense line with Wojciech Szczesny improving behind them will make Arsenal’s rearguard impregnable. In 2006, Arsene Wenger managed a team that kept 10 clean sheets in a row in Europe’s elite competition, but conceding 49 league goals last season was an aberration.

Finally, King Thierry Henry has stated that he won’t rule out a second comeback to Arsenal in the MLS  break,

‘I would like to go back to England with Arsenal for sure. I wasn’t planning to go back to play last season. I was there to train and they asked me if I wanted to play. Who knows what might happen in the future?

‘I’ve not yet spoken to Arsene about it so I don’t know what capacity I could go back in.’

‘Coaching does interest me but I don’t know what my talent is going to be after I have finished my career. But I will go back to Arsenal.’

It would be great having a legend like Thierry Henry in Arsenal’s backroom staff. C’mon, doesn’t the idea of Henry teaching Podolski how to place a shot with perfection bring butterflies to your tummy?

It was nice staying up late to watch Thierry Henry and his fellow MLS All Stars beat the free-spending Chelsea (3-2).

Chris Wondowlowski opened the scoring for the hosts but it was cancelled out by a John Terry header from a Frank Lampback of Notre Dame corner kick. Chelsea’s Quasimodo turned from provider to scorer when he latched on to a cross to slot the ball home from less than two yards out.

The MLS All Stars levelled the contest when Chris Pontius placed his effort past Ross Turnbull after receiving a Dwayne De Rosario cutback. Eddie Johnson won the game through a sucker punch in the 90th minute when he fired a shot that ricocheted off David Luiz’ leg, sending the keeper the wrong way.

My most treasured moment of the game was watching Henry (jokingly) trying to drag David Beckham away when the MLS All Stars had a free kick on the edge of Chelsea’s area. After a brief chat brightened up with a few smiles, Henry allowed Becks to take the free kick. However, Beckham’s free kick didn’t cause any collateral damage.

A preview of the Manchester City game will come in tomorrow’s post.

Sayonara

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

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