Monthly Archives: August 2012

Thoughts on Arsenal’s Draw with Stoke City

The Battle of Beanpoles won by ze Big Fuckin’ Giant

After a somewhat disappointing draw against Sunderland, the stage was set for another gruelling encounter for Arsene Wenger and his Red Army. The Gunners braced themselves to visit a ground that they had managed to record a meager four points from their last four visits, the dreaded Brittania Stadium.

Stoke almost drew first blood when Peter Crouch cushioned a header to Jon Walters that dispatched his effort goalwards but the offside flag spared Arsenal’s blushes. Chances in the first half were few and far between but there were some long range efforts from Arsenal’s Santi Cazorla and Stoke’s Michael Kightly with both efforts saved with consummate ease by both goalies.

The second half was a familiar story as both sides showed off their sloppiness but a scary moment arrived when Kieran Gibbs was adjudged to have fouled John Legend…Jermaine Pennant in the box but the ref was having none of it. I’m pretty sure that it might have been a different outcome if it was Eden Hazard.

Olivier Giroud had a great chance in the box to give Arsenal the lead when he was unmarked in the box but he chose to go for the spectacular when he had enough time to control the ball before blasting at goal. It was also reminiscent of the defense-splitting pass Cazorla handed him against Sunderland but he rushed his effort and a good chance went begging.

A rush of blood to the head I guess.

Giroud almost put his name on the back pages when he attempted an audacious speculative effort late on but his long-range shot skimmed the roof of the net to go over the bar. That act irked Arsene Wenger in the dugout, as he knew that Aaron Ramsey was in a better position to score after he had made a lot of ground in anticipation of a pass from Giroud.

Giroud stated afterwardsthat he had not noticed his teammate so he had to go for it,

“I hoped it would go in. I saw the keeper off his line and I did not see Aaron [in the middle] for a cross. So I tried to take my chance.”

In the wake of Arsenal’s goalless stalemate against Stoke that felt like two points lost rather than a point gained, here are my carefully considered thoughts on the team’s performance.


When Gooners learned that Wojciech Szczesny had suffered a minor rib injury and his deputy, Lukasz Fabianski, wasn’t fully fit as well, the panic button was pressed so hard, it sprang out of its remote control. Arsenal’s “want-away” third choice goalie, Vito Mannone, was to be the custodian between the sticks.

There were complaints about his lack of concentration like the horrendous act he committed when Arsenal played Olympiakos but these same fans that criticized Mannone heavily before the game sang his praises when he put up a five-star performance against Fulham in Craven Cottage a few seasons ago.

Despite being protected like a baby by Arsenal’s rearguard, Mannone came up with the goods as he commanded his area admirably by jumping the highest to claim crosses as well as keeping his concentration levels in check against a Stoke side were concentration was key in challenging the aerial threat they posed. He also did well to palm Kightly’s shot and looked assured all game long.

Mannone will probably go back to the bench when the Polish duo are fully fit but I’m sure that he got a pat in the back from his boss for keeping a clean sheet. Keepers are also paid for that as well.

Good third choice goalie?



With Kenwyne Jones warming the bench, Stoke’s gaffer, Tony Pulis, started with Peter Crouch and Jon Walters in his forward line, with a simple tactic worth its weight in gold – for Crouch to pluck out the ball from the air linking up well with his strike partner, Walters. In the seventh minute, a lofted ball into Arsenal’s box was cushioned to Walters’ path by Crouch, and the forward wasted no time in slamming Mannone’s goal but the offside flag came to Arsenal’s rescue.

That was the only setback Arsenal had defensively all game long as the rearguard worked extremely hard to quell every threat Stoke posed from the air.

The stand-out performer was the Big F*ckin’ Giant, Per Mertesacker. Many Gooners are in the opinion that Laurent Koscielny will be an automatic starter alongside club captain, Thomas Vermaelen but Mertesacker’s performance against an aerially-adept side like Stoke showed his importance to the squad. Time after time, the German threw himself in the line of fire to deal with his fellow beanpole, Crouch, and he won a large chunk of his aerial duels with Crouchinus.

Thomas Vermaelen put up another disciplined performance as he aims to be Arsenal’s new Tony Adams. Last season, Vermaelen made many forays forward leaving loopholes behind but both games against Sunderland and Stoke have shown that Vermaelen has adhered to Steve Bould’s instructions and he knows his role in the team.

There was a moment when he attacked the Stoke back line but he was clattered by Andy Wilkinson with a tackle worthy of a sending off but the ref chose to brandish a yellow card. Vermaelen also leaped as high as a pole vaulter, without the poles of course, in his bid to win aerial balls in the air.

Vermaelen on Shaolin mode

Kudos must also go to Arsenal’s young starlets on the full backs positions, Carl Jenkinson and Kieran Gibbs. They didn’t offer much in attack but they are compact defensively and offered no breathing space to Stoke’s wingers, Michael Kightly and Jermaine Pennant. In a brief cameo upfront, Jenkinson drilled in a brilliant cross to Abou Diaby, but as expected, the lanky Frenchman ran out of ideas and he spurned the chance. Gibbs on the other hand, was quite poor with his distribution in attack as he worked well with Lukas Podolski on the left but his output on the final third was found wanting.


An Alex Song-less midfield went through another game without creativity from the middle of the park and there were no trademark projectiles to feed the forward line. Songinho has also been on the news lately, revealing that he left Arsenal because the club failed to offer him a new deal.

His 204 games, 10 goals and 24 assists are now a part of history but focus must be on the players that want to be in the team, not others that left for the greens and reasons best known to Chuck Norris and the King Cobra that died after five days of agonizing pain.

Arsenal’s midfield triumvirate at the start of the game was Abou Diaby, Mikel Arteta and Santi Cazorla. The diminutive magician was an inspired form yet again as he continued to pull the strings in midfield, linking up brilliantly with his teammates and spraying passes all over the place. Cazorla also took responsibility for taking Arsenal’s boatload of corner kicks but Arteta picked up where his fellow Spaniard left off when he was substituted for Aaron Ramsey.

Diaby put up a better show that his stinker against Sunderland as he didn’t dwell on the ball too much and he was on the end of some neat one-twos. However, Diaby should have done better with the chance offered to him on a platter inside Stoke’s box but he blasted his effort wide after dallying on the ball.

Despite another performance that has seen Diaby end the game unscathed, I still feel that Arsenal will be better suited with a ready-made replacement for Alex Song, as Diaby cannot be trusted to stay fit all season long. Arteta was industrious in Arsenal’s midfield and he covered Diaby’s tracks well when he waltzed forward.

Santi was watched closely by his Stoke opponents


Arsenal played six matches in the pre-season and had ten goals to show for it. The game against FC Cologne was so encouraging and it’s worth noting that two forwards, Lukas Podolski and Gervinho, got on the score sheet in that fixture. However, Podolski and Gervinho have started both fixtures against Sunderland and Stoke but they have no goals to show for it.

Gervinho was breathtaking against Sunderland but he put up an atrocious performance against Stoke. His decision-making was suspect yet again and he kept on taking on defenders when a simple pass to a teammate was a better option.

Podolski on the other hand had a quiet outing when he spearheaded the attack against Sunderland but he was very direct in his approach when he started from the left hand side on Sunday. He had a couple of shots against Stoke and the signs looked encouraging, but strikers are judged on goals, and Podolski has been found wanting.

Olivier Giroud has been touted as Robin van Persie’s replacement and I have a hunch that the burden of expectation is taking its toll on the forward. He had a great chance in the box to get his side forward but he chose to attempt an acrobatic effort that bounced on the ground before going wide. He also fired a speculative effort late on that went over the bar.

Lukas Podolski - Stoke City v Arsenal - Premier League

Andy Wilkinson’s last-ditch block against Podolski

Giroud has urged the fans for patience and Arsene Wenger stated that the club lacked oil in its engine but Wenger was quick to defend his misfiring strikeforce,

“If you want to convince me we lost an exceptional player [in Robin van Persie] you are wasting your time. I was the first to say that. “We have to find a way to get around that by sharing more of the goals than we did before with Van Persie. Giroud scored 20 [last season], Podolski scored 20. We will get some goals I’m convinced from [Abou] Diaby, [Aaron] Ramsay, [Theo] Walcott, Gervinho, so we have of course to share it around a bit.” 

Overall, it was labelled as a disappointment against a Stoke side that the Gunners were capable of beating, but plaudits should go to Steve Bould and his defensive unit for instilling some confidence in Arsenal’s rearguard. The zonal marking on display was very impressive and many Gunners were never afraid to put their bodies in the line of fire in their attempts to win the ball.

Despite having over ten corners or so, Arsenal didn’t threaten Stoke from set pieces but the odds of beating Stoke in their own game was slim to none. Even with the height advantage Mertesacker, Diaby and Giroud offered, Ryan Shawcross and Robert Huth got the upper hand in many aerial duels.

Finally, I must say that I’ve been hugely impressed with the new signings as they’ve already integrated themselves in the Arsenal way of life. Santi Cazorla has been dissed as a poor man’s Fabregas but the Spaniard has been a shining light in the heart of Arsenal’s midfield as he continues to pull all the strings in midfield.

Lukas Podolski played very well on the left wing and he made direct runs forward, winning free kicks for his team. Olivier Giroud has been showing off his great off the ball movement and he has really linked up well with his teammates.

In due time, the floodgates will open for Arsenal’s new forwards and the goals will start creeping in.

A true test awaits the Gunners at Anfield.

I just shared my thoughts on the Stoke game.

Feel free to share yours with your comments. Sayonara.

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Sayonara Sahin, Midfield Options and Contract Talks for Walcott

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The sale of Alex Song to Barcelona was a real bone of contention from an Arsenal perspective. On one corner stood a faction of the Arsenal faithful that believed that Alex Song’s sale was highly welcome because of his poor positional play, bad “attitude”, sloppy passes, not doing his primary job well and of course, declaring his intentions to play for Barca. On the other corner stood the faction of the Arsenal faithful that condemned his sale because of his consistency, assists and most of all, his quality.

Irrespective of what every Arsenal fan thought, they were all in unison with a unanimous decision – for the club to purchase a replacement with the same, if not better quality. The media Vultures did their bit to link Arsenal with a host of holding midfielders in the business, but after many weeks of speculation, Arsenal declared its intentions to secure a loan deal for Real Madrid’s deep-lying playmaker, Nuri Sahin.

Sahin’s style of play is not too different from the Alex Song we witnessed last season, but it was a move that was widely accepted by many Gooners out there. Arsenal would have secured the deal ages ago, but the Gunners wanted to add a buyout clause in the contract, much to the dissatisfaction of Sahin’s parent club club, Real Madrid. Up stepped Liverpool with a mega lucrative loan offer and Sahin was theirs for the taking.

Like the yesteryear, it has always been about money, and Arsenal has missed out yet again. Wenger has arrogantly played the “If I wanted Sahin, I would have signed him” card but tales of missing out on another quality player will be gone with the wind if Arsenal goes out there to get a new midfielder.

However, it seems as if Arsene Wenger is very content with his current squad, and he stated that he’ll only sign players with something special,

“We are still in the market in some positions. We have experienced players in midfield like Arteta, Cazorla and Rosicky plus some young very promising players like Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ramsey, Coquelin and one or two in between age-wise like Diaby, who is coming back.

“We will only take players who have something special. We believe we have a very strong team and if we find the special player, we will do it.

“There’s always a lot going on in the last week – in and out. We have some players who can go out, but overall there is always something happening in the last week. I have a clear idea of what I want to do, if it happens, it happens.”

Wenger also weighed his options for a midfielder that would man Song’s role for the rest of the season,

“If you look at the numbers you will see that Song was more of an offensive player than a defensive midfielder, Arteta can play deeper – the kind of Pirlo role – and we have Diaby who is a very strong defensive player. 

“We have Coquelin who is also doing very well. I’ve played many games with Diaby and Wilshere [in midfield] and they were very efficient.”

This certainly means that Wenger might stick with this current lot without any potential additions.

Mikel Arteta is an offensively-minded player that has a good passing range but he was made to work on his defensive side when Song made his forays forward last season. Despite balancing play admirably last season, there were moments when Arteta was shoved off by stronger midfielders in the middle of the park. He also doesn’t possess a lot of speed when tracking back and in my honest opinion, Arteta can’t play in Song’s role for the rest of the season. He’s better suited in his box-to-box role.

Abou Diaby on the other hand, has the frame of good holding midfielder but his abilities as a footballer show that he’s not suited for that role as well. He has a penchant for dwelling on the ball far too long and let’s not forget that Diaby cannot be trusted to remain fit all season long. When I watched him play in Song’s role against Sunderland, I must say that I wasn’t really impressed and a few Gooners out there might share the same sentiment.

Funnily enough, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has declared his intentions to play in Song’s holding midfield role. Be the judge of that.

To team news, the Ox has said some sweet words about Santi Cazorla, and Olivier Giroud has ran out of superlatives for the diminutive midfielder, labeling him as Arsenal’s Zinedine Zidane. Giroud has also urged Arsenal fans to be patient with him, indicating that he’s here to bring something different to the team, not to replace Judas Iscariot the player that left.

Finally, Arsenal has reopened negotiations with Usain Bolt Theo Walcott over a possible five-year deal. Like van Persie, Walcott had only one year left on his current contract but the Flying Dutchman dominated the proceedings this summer before his flames were doused after he secured his £24m move to Manure United.

Like van Persie and Song, Arsenal won’t break sweat if Walcott announces his intentions to leave the club but we’ll prefer the Englishman to stay because his speed, finesse and technical ability are great assets to Arsenal football club. He needs to work on his decision making and dribbling though.


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Gervais Yao “Pires”?, Latest Injury Updates and Transfer Speculation

With the next Premier League fixture just around the corner, I’m supposed to be filled up with excitement in anticipation of Arsenal grabbing their first maximum points of the campaign…but when I realize that Arsene Wenger and his Red Army are going to the Britannia to play that rugby lot, my optimism isn’t as high as it ought to be.

Our record is a bit shabby in that part of England and we have our fair share of history with that lot – Gael Clichy scoring his first goal for the club, Robin van Persie’s shameful red card, the 2010 FA Cup defeat, Johan Djourou’s putrid performance that led to all three Stoke goals in the 2010/11 campaign and of course, the Shawcrossation of Aaron Ramsey.

My fondest memory of the Britannia still remains watching my team overcome the mental frailty of Ramsey’s double leg fracture to give the fans a second half to remember. Nicklas Bendtner’s header was inch perfect, Cesc Fabregas’ penalty was as cool as they come and the way the team celebrated Thomas Vermaelen’s match clincher exhumed passion in every sense of the word.

I’ll give a befitting preview for the Stoke game in tomorrow’s post.

Moving on to today’s bit, it seems as if there’s going to be a shiny light at the end of Arsenal’s dark injury tunnel as three Gunners are coming close to their optimal venues – two are sure-fire favorites to be fully fit while caution has been thrown to the wind on the third Gunner.

When Arsenal thumped Lukas Podolski’s previous employers in the Rhein-Energie Stadion, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain suffered an ankle injury that also kept him out of an England call-up. After undergoing some therapy from the world’s best medical team (you know I’m kidding, right?), the Ox has been deemed fit to make an appearance against those goons from Stoke-on-Trent.

It’s good to have the Ox back as Theo Walcott put up a shite-like performance against Sunderland, forcing Wenger to resort to the Russian pygmy, Andrey Arshavin, who was average at his best. In a game where Arsenal needed that injection of attacking verve to support the outstanding Santi Cazorla, Arshavin preferred to be sloppy with the ball while putting up his usual lackadaisical and lethargic attitude.

A few weeks ago, Arshavin was proud to announce that he was going to be a father for his third child. If only he showed the same enthusiasm and desire on the pitch in relation to what he does on bed with Mrs. Owl. Just kidding.

The Ox will give Arsenal some wit from the bench and he’s odds on to make a substitute appearance when the chips are down.

Laurent Koscielny is another player that has been on the sidelines recently but the Big F*ckin’ Giant, Per Mertesacker, did well in the Premier League curtain raiser against Sunderland. It’s a bit painful to know that the Stoke game will come too soon for Kos the Boss but he’ll be fit to face Liverpool in Anfield.

Koscielny’s aerial ability would have come in handy against a direct side like Stoke, but Arsenal will have to make do with their current backline. In his time as one of the lynchpins of the famous back four, Steve Bould had a very good frame that allowed him to jump like a kangaroo alongside Mr. Arsenal, Tony Adams, when defending set pieces. I hope that he has shared a tip or two to the team.

Finally, there’s more good news on Jack Wilshere as he continues to train hard in his rehab centre in his bid to gain full fitness. He was scheduled to return in October, but reports are emerging that Jackie boy is exceeding expectations and a comeback is closer than we think.

In my honest opinion, Wilshere should be allowed to build his fitness progressively because we need him for the long-term. If he’s to be fully fit and we look at the calendar to see the month of December, so be it. Wilshere was a general in the midfield when he donned the Red and White but we need to throw caution to the wind with this bloke.

The last time I checked, the depth of this current squad is more than enough to make up for Wilshere’s loss, and plans are still in place to get a new midfielder on loan, even though I wonder why it’s taking all eternity.

Moving over to transfer speculation, I’ll pick up where I left off with that midfielder on loan that Arsenal has been chasing since the days Olusegun Obasanjo was still Nigeria’s president.

Unless you’re living in a cave with no access to internet, Colored TV and civilization, you should know that Arsenal has publicly declared its intention to secure a loan deal for Real Madrid’s deep-lying playmaker, Nuri Sahin.

It was believed that the saga was to be over this week with Arsenal unveiling the handsome lad on Monday, but both negotiating parties hit a snag, as Arsenal wanted to add a clause that would see them purchase the midfielder permanently, but Madrid gave us the middle finger.

With this “development”, Sahin’s agent, Reza Fazeli, placed his client on the transfer radar yet again, and his client was attracted some interest from Arsenal’s rivals, Liverpool. Liverpool had initially withdrawn their interest in signing Sahin because, they like other Arsenal fans, had believed that it was a done deal with the Gunners.

Other rumor mongers are also publishing that Tottenham has half an eye on the Turk but are monitoring proceedings as he can be touted as a replacement for Luka Modric, who’s Madrid-bound.

Mourinho has given Sahin his blessing to set the Premier League alight with Arsenal being his potential destination but the Real Madrid hierarchy has no plans to let their 23-year-old starlet leave Santiago Bernabeu after a potentially successful one year loan spell in his proposed new club.

I like every Arsenal fan out there remains bamboozled and perplexed in Arsenal’s approach for Nuri Sahin. For heaven’s sake, sign this bloke on loan and give him a chance to dictate the tempo of our midfield alongside Mikel Arteta and Santi Cazorla. When he sees how valuable he can become in the Red half of North London, we can inject him with a lethal dose of the “van Nasregas” formula, which will prompt him to tell the press that a little boy inside him has been screaming, “Arsenal, Arsenal” all year long.

I’m sure you get the drift.

The media Vultures have published a piece linking Spain’s El Homesickla, Jesus Navas, to Arsenal. Navas’ eyes are no different from that of a vampire and like his fellow vamps out there, Navas loves his coffin which is buried in some cave in Seville.

There a lot of sunlight in London and his skin will burn to shreds, so he can like to remain in Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan. Thanks but no thanks.

In my opinion, that bloke is friggin overrated and I can bet that he wouldn’t thrive in a league as physical as the Premier League, except he wants to pull a Eden Hazard on us. What a signing he has been thus far, all £34m of it.

On potential departures, I’d heard gist about Celta Vigo gunning for Park Chu-Young and Zenit re-igniting their interest in signing Arshavin.

In one word – HALLELUYAH!!!

To wrap things all up, last season’s import from Ligue 1, Gervinho, has stated that he wants to emulate the great and dreamy Le Bob, Robert Pires, and he aims to perform better than Arsene Wenger’s third best French acquisition of all time, after Le Igwe and Monsieur V.

While wearing the famous Number 7 jersey once donned by the great Liam Brady, Pires was the lynchpin of the left wing and he forged a great telepathy with Ca$hley Cuntly Cole. After amassing 284 appearances for the Gunners, Pires had 84 goals to show for it, as well as many fond memories he filled Arsenal hearts with.

The lanky stature, the unpredictable style of play no different from David Ginola, the dreamy looks, vampire fangs, the wavy locks of hair and of course, the standout beard that never seemed to grow beyond that line in his jaw.

Pires also used his amazing football ability to help his club win trophies and his goal against Southampton in the 2003 FA Cup final can never be forgotten, as it was the goal that handed Arsenal the trophy, after a disappointing Premier League campaign that saw the Gunners resign the title to Manchester United under acrimonious circumstances.

Pires has also been in the news lately, as he shared a word or two about Arsenal’s new boy, Santi Cazorla,

“Santi called me when the offer from the club arrived and I told him it was the perfect club for him. The way the team plays will suit him perfectly and he is the kind of player Arsene loves too.</em<

He is a very exciting player, very gifted technically with both feet. He has an impressive creative touch and he can play in the centre or on the wings.

His vision and the quality of his passing is brilliant but he can also take people on. Despite still being quite young, he has big experience with the Spanish national team and has also played in the Champions League.

Finally, he has a very good mentality and is a real team player. He will need a bit of time to settle but I’m convinced he will adapt very quickly and will be a great signing for Arsenal.”

Unlike Pires that managed to notch up eight goals in 51 games (first season), Gervinho managed four goals in 34 games, which wasn’t really a bad return, considering the fact that he went to Africa in the middle of the season to represent his country.

His form really dipped after that tournament and one can look no further than his penalty miss against Zambia that made his team lose a title they were heavy favorites to win.

Gervinho was very impressive against Sunderland and he had 10 successful dribbles from 20 attempts. The last player to equal that feat in the Premier League was Cristiano Ronaldo in his mesmerizing Manure days.

It’s always good to set targets and goals for yourself and Robert Pires will offer Gervinho the perfect platform to build up his game.

Gervinho is nowhere near Pires when he was at his prime but I feel that his dribbling ability was a close match to the Frenchman’s own and he’s way faster. However, his output on the final third is on the wrong end of a scale, if it’s weighed with Pires’ output.

We have a full season ahead of us and I’m hoping to see what the tricky Ivorian magician has in store for Arsenal this season.

I certainly wouldn’t mind his 18-goal outlay that helped LOSC Lille Metropole win the Ligue 1.

The quote of the day goes to @eromzy:

“Chelsea sign Moses. That’s funny because Man United have Judas, Arsenal want Jesus and Liverpool are stuck with Adam”

You don’t need any soothsayer to tell you who Judas Iscariot is. This time, he betrayed us with 235,000 pieces of silver per week. 😀

In my bid to serve my esteemed readers better, I’m proud to announce that the Gooner Daily  App for BlackBerry has been launched and you can find it in AppWorld.

This was an initiative marshalled by  VOE Solutions with the great  Obitwyce the genius at the forefront of the application.

It offers a brilliant interface to read my posts for BlackBerry users and plans are ongoing to create Gooner Daily Apps for iPad, Android and Windows phones.

A podcast is also on the cards.

One more thing – it’s free 😀

That’s today’s bit.


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