Daily Archives: March 7, 2013
Yesterday saw the world witness another set of Champions League fixtures but on like the previous night where entertaining football and some controversy were the orders of the day, it was a pretty much dull affair with two home teams one foot into the quarterfinals before the ball was kicked.
Juventus decimated Celtic in Scotland a few weeks ago and I wasn’t surprised when Antonio Conte chose to rest a couple of first-team regulars, giving his fringe players a chance to showcase their talents. Goals from Alessandro Matri and Fabio Quagliarella put the Old Lady in the quarterfinal but it was really astonishing to know that Celtic had over 20 shots in the course of both legs without scoring.
Elsewhere, the moneybags of Paris St. Germain were rattled by Valencia’s attacking performance but after Jonas had given the home side a scare with a stunning effort, Ezequiel Lavezzi scored the all-important goal that restored parity to the scoreline. However, I don’t know what was more disappointing – Valencia not scoring a second goal or David Beckham not getting a run-out.
Still sticking with Europe, Arsenal’s younglings ousted the current NextGen Series defending champions, Inter Milan, through a stunning 20-yard strike from captain, Nico Yennaris. Arsenal’s Macedonian recruit, Dejan Iliev, was the custodian between the sticks while the likes of Hector Bellerin, Martin Angha, Serge Gnabry and Chuba Akpom were also on song.
The younglings are set for a quarterfinal clash with Russian outfit, CSKA Moscow.
I don’t really have fond memories of Arsenal’s clashes with CSKA and many Gooners will never forget Tomas Rosicky’s miss of a lifetime from close range when he gifted the keeper the ball with a gaping goal in his sights.
Well, I’ve seen worse – Yakubu anyone?
With no football coming up anytime soon, shenanigans off the pitch have dominated the proceedings and Arsenal has began plans to play a pre-season friendly in Vietnam. As expected, it would probably be for commercial purposes with the Asian market there for the taking. In the past two years, Arsenal has played games in China, Hong Kong and Malaysia.
Elsewhere, ex-Gunner Ian Wright has urged the members of the Arsenal hierarchy to speak up as the fans need to know what their plans for the club are. Wojciech Szczesny has also been on the news as well, as he has demanded a response from his teammates following that debacle at White Hart Lane.
Moving on to transfer speculations, the media Vultures are back at it again, linking Arsenal to a host of players.
On potential departures, it seems as if Arsenal will become light in the goalkeeping department as Lukasz Fabianski and Vito Mannone are set to leave the club in the summer. Fabianski is one of the longest-serving members of the team and has been second fiddle to Manuel Almunia and Szczesny throughout his time at Arsenal.
There was actually a period when Fabianski had a run-out in the first team and if he hadn’t suffered that shoulder injury, he would have been Arsenal’s No. 1 by now, possibly.
Vito Mannone, on the other hand, has never really staked a claim for the No. 1 jersey at the club and he was shipped out to Hull a couple of times. There was even a period when he reiterated his desire to stay with the Tigers but both parties counldn’t reach an agreement on his services as Arsenal still had plans for him.
On potential arrivals, it has been well publicized that Arsenal is in dire need of a goalkeeper, center back, holding midfielder and center forward.
It seems as if any future plans to get Klass-Jan Huntelaaar will suffer a major blow as the Dutch goalscoring machine has signaled that he could end his career at Schalke 04. Arsenal was also linked with a move for Galatasaray’s Turkish sensation, Burak Yilmaz, but the Turks have placed a mammoth price tag of £35m on their dangerman.
On potential midfield signings, Arsenal and Tottenham have been linked with a move for Feyernoord’s Jordi Clasie, another youngster tipped for great things. Just the kind of signing you’d expect Wenger to swoop for.
In defense, Valencia’s Adil Rami is set to snub all potential suitors (Arsenal included) as he’s about to sign a new deal with Los Che. The commanding center back didn’t play in Valencia’s spirited draw against PSG due to injury but he has been linked constantly with a move to England.
According to the Guardian, Arsenal is planning a summer move for Swansea’s captain and defensive lynchpin, Ashley Williams. The Daily Mail reports that Arsene Wenger is losing patience with his defensive duo of Thomas Vermaelen and Per Mertesacker, and he might strip the Belgian off the captaincy to hand it over to Jack Wilshere.
At the age of 21, Wilshere could join Cesc Fabregas and Tony Adams in the mold of the club’s youngest captains but unlike Fabregas, many would expect Wilshere to end his days in North London. I don’t know if stripping the captaincy from Vermaelen will have any negative ramifications on him but his form has dipped remarkably since he took over the mantle from Robin van Persie.
Apart from Ashley Williams, Arsenal is also considering bids for Marseille’s Nicolas N’Koulou, Atletico Bilbao’s Fernando Amorebieta and Real Madrid’s Raul Albiol.
When Kieran Gibbs suffered a setback against Liverpool in January, many Arsenal fans panicked because of the shambolic performances of Andre Santos, but Wenger delved into the transfer market to sign Nacho Monreal from Malaga.
Finally, I bring you good tidings in regard to Kieran Gibbs’ injury as the fullback has returned to full training and he could even feature against Bayern Munich next week Tuesday.
That’s your lot for today..
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