Monthly Archives: August 2013

Gooner Daily Nominated for 2013 OYAA Awards: Please Vote!!!

Please vote for Gooner Daily

The Online Youth Achievement Awards came into fruition when the organizers wanted to regulate and reward quality provision of online content by Nigerians on the web. This was targeted at Nigerian bloggers, web content providers and managers as well as the developers that have contributed in one way or the other to the Nigerian online community.

The initiative was preached to the Lagos State Ministry of Youth, Sports and Social Development and the idea was immediately welcomed by the body. Since then, the Ministry, Slyk and District Magazine, Neptunes Magazine and Bella Naija have supported the initiative and the award is the first of its kind to be staged at a venue. The essence was to promote networking and good publicity for sponsors and supporters.

For more information about OYAA, you can check out their general info on their official site, their Facebook Page and their Twitter handle,

After a rigorous nomination process, several categories have been created and Gooner Daily has been nominated in the OYAA 2013 Best Online Media for Sport category alongside four other Nigerian sports sites.

Voting has began and would stop on the 21st of October 2013. The voting is open to the public and will be done on the OYAA website. Shortly afterwards, the winner of OYAA 2013 awards will be decided by the outcome of the polls.

The live awards event show takes place on the 27th of October 2013, a week after voting has ended.

To vote for Gooner Daily for the 2013 OYAA award of Best Online Media for Sport, please click here.

Thanks for reading your daily Arsenal digest.

Sayonara.

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Thoughts on Mathieu Flamini’s Return to the Emirates

Mathieu Flamini

After much speculation about his potential arrival to the team he has been training with to keep fit all summer, Arsene Wenger has swooped for tenacious defensive midfielder, Mathieu Flamini, making him his second signing this season. As expected, the arrival of the prodigal son hasn’t lit any fireworks as the fans hope to see marquee signings in the forms of Lars Bender, Marouane Fellaini and even Yohan Cabaye that recently went rogue at Newcastle.

Arsene Wenger has also shared his thoughts on the signing of Flamini, stating that he brought in the Frenchman for more reasons than one. The manager spoke about his physicality, the fact that he knew the club inside out, his huge desire to come back, his versatility among others. The manager also stated that Flamini’s attitude and fitness convinced him to take a punt on the same player that ditched the Gunners five years ago.

This was a player that was more or less in the fringes in his first three seasons with the club and he did a very good job at left back while Ashley Cole and Gael Clichy were out injured. Following a grueling 2007 Copa America campaign, clun captain, Gilberto SIlva, requested an extended break citing fatigue as his key reason and the manager took the bold decision to play the Flamster alongside Golden Boy, Cesc Fabregas and they forged an extremely telepathic understanding in the 2007/08 campaign.

With Tomas Rosicky and Aliaksnadr Hleb on the flanks, Arsenal had a solid midfield that created chances on the go for the likes of Emmanuel Adebayor, Eduardo da Silva and that bloke with the little boy inside him.

After leaving the club for the greens in 2008, Flamini failed to command a first-team berth in AC Milan and the fact that he got injured a lot didn’t help his cause either. His versatility came in handy for the Italian outfit as he featured as a right back more times that he would have expected, but as you would expect from a level-headed player like Flamini, he just did his job on the pitch without complaints.

Five years, 153 appearances for Milan and one Scudetto later, Flamini is now a free agent and like the classic tale of the Prodigal Son in the Bible, Wenger has killed a fatted calf for the player and has welcomed him back with open arms.

The player himself has voiced his thoughts on his return to the club stating that he has unfinished business here at the Emirates,

“It feels good to be back home. I have some unfinished business with Arsenal so it’s a great feeling to be back. Once you’re a Gunner, you’re always a Gunner.

“Unfinished business because we had the opportunity a few times when I was there to win trophies and we didn’t. I’m thinking about the Champions League final, the 2007/08 season when we were in the running for the first place and we didn’t close it.

“I feel good, I have been training for three weeks with the fitness coach, Tony Colbert. So I feel ready to start competing for Arsenal, especially on Sunday – it’s going to be a big game.

“It’s a derby, everyone knows how important it is. We have to win it and we have to be ready for it.”

Many fans have taken Flamini’s quotes with a pinch of salt but his arrival has mitigated a short-term challenge for the club, as Arsenal was desperately in need of cover in central midfield following the injury suffered by Mikel Arteta. Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey were also on the end of some bashing from the Fenerbahce thugs and their fitness has come under question.

Many fans are obviously disappointed that the manager hasn’t delved to remove the dust from Arsenal’s cheque book to sign a football figurehead but in Mathieu Flamini, the Gunners now have committed versatile midfielder that would be a presence in midfield and protect the back four while maintaining his positional awareness. The arrival of Flamini in midfield will also liberate Ramsey like Fabregas in the 2007/08 campaign, as the Flamster inspires confidence in midfield.

Many would be quick to point out that he’s not the same player that he was in the 2007/08 campaign but permit me to say that Flamini is now more experienced, he has seen life in a very physical league like the Serie A and most importantly, the Flamster has seen that the grass is not always greener on the other side.

Having a player like Flamini will also give Wenger room to rotate his squad and he can play as a fullback in the wake of another injury crisis or when the need arises. A few weeks ago, I ran a poll to know the fans opinion on the potential return of Flamini and 63 percent of these Arsenal fans wanted him back because he would provide adequate cover for the Gunners.

Flamini has stated that he has “unfinished business” at the club which means he would be on a personal mission to win the fans back and he can only do that with some stellar performances on the pitch. Let’s hope to see the Flamini of old that was a thorn in the flesh of opposition attackers.

Say what you must but I’m happy to see Flamini back at the Emirates.

Sayonara.

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Thoughts and Predictions for the 2013/14 Champions League Group Stages

Champions League Draw 2013

After a frantic wait following the qualifying phase that took place in the beginning of the season, the 32 teams that were to feature in the 2013/14 UEFA Champions League campaign had all their representatives in the venue and the show was anchored by CNN sport’s correspondent, Pedro Pinto. Notable football figureheads like Michael Owen, Luis Figo and Johan Cruyff assumed some admin roles on the pots and it was a pretty much exciting event from start to finish.

The leading European football clubs, Arsenal included, were seeded in the first pot which ensured that these sides were going to avoid each other till the latter stages of the competition which traditionally kicks off in February. Here are my thoughts on yesterday’s draws.

Group A

This group had a very interesting twist as three-time winners and finalists in recent seasons, Manchester United, were paired against Ukrainian juggernauts, Shakhtar Donetsk, German superpowers, Bayer Leverkusen and newbies, Real Sociedad. One would have thought that Carlos Vela’s employers would be odds on to go home early but many minds would have been turned following their brilliant playoff performances of the course of two legs against Olympique Lyonnais.

Nonetheless, this would be a very interesting group and everybody would be keen to see what David Moyes has to offer in his maiden Champions League campaign.

Teams to qualify from the group: Manchester United and Shakhtar Donetsk.

Europa League candidate: Bayer Leverkusen

Team going home with nothing: Real Sociedad

Group B

This group sees two football heavyweights clash as the Real Madrid vs. Juventus encounter would be one the highlights of the 2013/14 Champions League group stages. These sides have also been paired with Turkish giants, Galatasaray, that gave Real Madrid a run for their money in the quarterfinals of last season’s Champions League.

It would seem as if Nicklas Bendtner’s former side, F.C. Kobenhavn, would be there to complete the numbers but they could spring a surprise or two.

Teams to qualify from the group: Real Madrid and Juventus

Europa League candidate: Galatasaray

Team going home with nothing: FC Kobenhavn

Group C

In this group, many would expect big spenders, Paris St. Germain, to ease through the teams paired with them but they will definitely be mindful about the threat SL Benfica would pose, as the Portuguese team are just fresh from going into the finals of last season’s Europa League.

Olympiakos and Anderlecht would have their work cut out for them but in my honest opinion, I don’t see both sides going beyond this group stage.

Teams to qualify from the group: PSG and SL Benfica

Europa League candidate: Olympiakos

Team going home with nothing: Anderlecht

Group D

For the first time in three seasons, it seems as if luck has finally shone on Manchester City, as the English outfit hasn’t been paired in a “Group of Death” like the past two seasons. However, they are set to begin their Champions League campaign alongside the defending champions, Bayern Munich, a club tipped to retain the title.

CSKA Moscow will definitely want to show that they are no pushovers and the teams in this group would ignore Viktoria Plzen in their own peril.

Teams to qualify from the group: Bayern Munich and Man City.

Europa League candidate: CSKA Moscow

Team going home with nothing: Viktoria Plzen

Group E

Following a back to back campaign that saw Chelsea win the Champions League and Europa League, Roman Abramovich will be on the lookout as he hopes to win the title yet again – a trophy that eluded Jose Mourinho in his first stint at the club. However, Chelsea could be in for a stroll in the park as they have been paired with Schalke 04, FC Basel and Steaua Bucharest.

Teams to qualify from the group: Chelsea and Schalke 04

Europa League candidate: FC Basel

Team going home with nothing: Steaua Bucharest

Group F

When I saw the draws for the group that features my dear Arsenal, I must say that my stomach churned a couple of times. The Gunners have been paired with last season’s Champions League finalists and emerging German superpower, Borussia Dortmund, Emirates Cup participant, SSC Napoli and French figureheads, Olympique Marseille.

This has been dubbed as the Group of Death but with strong performances at the Emirates coupled with some great results away from home, I’m tipping the Gunners to qualify to the knockout stages, but it won’t be an easy feat. The teams in this group are very strong and in the end, the teams that qualify will be the teams that deserve to qualify.

Teams to qualify from the group: Arsenal and Dortmund

Europa League candidate: Napoli

Team going home with nothing: Marseille

Group G

This group has an exciting twist as FC Porto and Atletico Madrid are set tp lock horns yet again. The clash would have seen Radamel Falcao return to a place he once called home but as we all know, the Colombian predator is basking the sun in the principality of Monaco.

Zenit St. Petersburg would offer a great threat and with the talent in their disposal, I see them going very far in the competition but I can’t say the same for the least seeded team in the group, Austria Wien.

Teams to qualify from the group: Zenit and FC Porto

Europa League candidate: Atletico Madrid

Team going home with nothing: Austria Wien.

Group H

In recent times, this is afixture football fans have become accustomed to seeing in the Champions League – a clash between Barcelona and AC Milan. Down the years, both sides have put up great outings but they also have the threat of AFC Ajax and Celtic to contend with. The Scots have had their fair share of history with both sides and I know that they are not relishing playing in the Nou Camp and San Siro.

Ajax has changed from the side that swept other teams off their feet in the past to a new look team that has a penchant for selling its best talent to the predators of European football. With the likes of Barcelona and AC Milan in this group, I see Ajax getting only a Europa League berth.

Teams to qualify from the group: Barcelona and AC Milan.

Europa League candidate: Ajax

Team going home with nothing: Celtic

I’ve just shared my thoughts and predictions for the 2013/14 Champions League group stages. Feel free to share yours with your comments.

Sayonara.

You can download the Gooner Daily  BlackBerry App to receive notifications on your Smart Phone when a post is published.

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