Daily Archives: October 1, 2013

Rating Arsenal’s Performances in the Month of September: The Nominations

Arsenal began the month of September with a hugely satisfying win over their free-spending fierce rivals, Tottenham, and after a long break due to international football, Mesut Ozil made his long-awaited debut in the 3-1 victory over Sunderland. The Gunners began their Champions League adventure with a hard-earned victory over Marseille in the south of France.

The victory in France was followed up with an unorthodox win over Stoke, as Arsenal beat the Potters in their own set pieces game, while the away side played good football, shockingly. The kids and injury returnees were given a chance in the Capital One Cup third round against West Brom but they had to rely on the lottery of penalty shootouts to qualify for a hugely-anticipated fourth round clash against Chelsea. The Gunner ended a memorable month with another well-earned victory over Swansea in Wales.

At the end of each month, Gooner Daily rates the performances of the Gunners using a series of categories. There will be three nominations for each category and the blog’s readers will place their votes on each category. A post will be published afterwards with the full results of the voting sequence.

SAVE OF THE MONTH

Wojciech Szczesny featured heavily in Arsenal’s Premier League and Champions League fixtures in the month of September while Lukasz Fabianski made his first and only appearance in the Capital One Cup encounter against West Brom. The new recruit, Emiliano Viviano, will still wait for the chance to make his first team debut.

The nominated saves for the month of September are Szczesny’s save from Jozy Altidore’s blazing shot when the Gunner’s visited Sunderland, Szczesny incredible save from Jermaine Defoe in the North London Derby and Fabianski’s magnificent save from Youssouf Mulumbu in the Capital One Cup third round.

GOAL OF THE MONTH

Arsenal all its six games in the month of September, scoring 12 goals in the process. There were a lot of wonderful goals scored in the course of the month but here’s my pick from the pack. The nominated goals are Olivier Giroud’s deft finish against Tottenham, Aaron Ramsey’s first-timed piledriver against Sunderland and Theo Walcott’s technically-astute volley against Marseille.

ASSIST OF THE MONTH

Arsenal’s 12 goals scored in the month of September came from 12 assists supplied by some of the players in the team, and it’s heartwarming to know that 33 percent of these assists came from the new recruit, Mesut Ozil. Here’s my take of the top three assists in the month of September – Nicklas Bendtner’s inch-perfect pass to Thomas Eisfeld for his goal against West Brom in the Capital One Cup, Mesut Ozil’s first assist in Arsenal colors for Olivier Giroud against Sunderland and Carl Jenkinson’s perfectly-cushioned cross for Aaron Ramsey against Sunderland.

MATCH OF THE MONTH

Arsenal were victorious in all six games they played in September, making them one of the most in-form teams in Europe. In these six games, there were three games that stood out from the rest, as it endeared the players to the hearts of their ever-loving fans. Here’s Gooner Daily’s list of the top three matches in the month of September – Arsenal’s victory over their fierce rivals, Tottenham, in the North London Derby, Arsenal’s hard fought away victory over Sunderland and Arsenal’s latest triumph against a hard Swansea side.

MOST IMPROVED PLAYER OF THE MONTH

This goes to the player that excelled admirably with vastly improved performances in the course of the month. Despite the fact that many players put up improved performances in the month of September, the performances of these three players certainly caught the eye; Mathieu Flamini, Kieran Gibbs and Wojciech Szczesny.

PLAYER OF THE MONTH

Arsenal’s great form in the month of September can be attributed to the standout performances of some players that were phenomenal in the month of September. Without further ado, here are the top three players in month of September; Laurent Koscielny, Olivier Giroud and Aaron Ramsey.

Feel free to vote in the various categories as you please.

The results will be published tomorrow after the Napoli match report.

Sayonara.

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Arsenal vs. Napoli Preview: Time to Gain Control of the Group

Giroud scored a wonder goal against Napoli in the Emirates Cup

Two of the most in-form teams in Europe would clash together in what would be one hell of a pulsating encounter, as Arsenal hosts SSC Napoli with a place at the summit of the group the ultimate prize for the victors of tonight’s game. Arsenal began their Champions League adventure with a difficult trip to the Stade Velodrome in the French riviera and they emerged victorious. Napoli on the other hand, hosted last season’s finalists, Borussia Dortmund, and had enough in the tank to see out the German juggernauts.

Following good transfer business in the summer, both sides are reaping the fruits of their new recruits and both teams are currently on the summits of their respective local leagues. Arsenal’s record signing, Mesut Ozil, has already supplied four assists in the Premier League and the Gunners’ 2-1 win over Swansea sent them two points clear of Liverpool and Tottenham.

Napoli has gained considerably from the services of their star striker, Gonzalo Higuain, that has netted four goals in five appearances for the club. Following their Goran Pandev-inspired victory over Genoa, they lead the Serie A alongside AS Roma with the defending champions, Juventus, not far out in third place.

Arsenal have only lost four times in 18 matches to Italian opposition since 2000 and should be confident of a result. The last was a 4-0 defeat to AC Milan in Italy in the quarterfinals in 2012. They did manage to restore pride in the return leg at the Emirates thanks to a 3-0 scoreline as Koscielny, Rosicky and Robin van Persie all scored.

As recently as August, Napoli locked horns with Arsenal at the Emirates Cup and they lead with goals from Lorenzo Insigne (did you see his free kick against Dortmund) and Goran Pandev but goals from Olivier Giroud and Laurent Koscielny salvaged a draw for the hosts. Only four managers in this season’s Champions League have won the competition, and Arsene Wenger’s opposite number, Rafa Benitez, is in that illustrious class.

The last time both managers clashed in the Champions League, it was a rather painful affair as Arsenal drew 1-1 at home to the Reds in the first leg of the 2007/08 quarterfinals before a rather excruciating defeat at Anfield that sealed the Gunners’ fate.

Benitez Wenger

Abou Diaby had equalized for the Gunners in the first half but after a goal from Fernando Torres put Liverpool ahead again, Theo Walcott made a world famous dash in the heart of the Liverpool rearguard before feeding Emmanuel Adebayor for an easy tap in. While the Gunners were basking in the euphoria of a potential semifinal berth, Kolo Toure blatantly fouled Ryan Babel in the box, leaving the ref no chance but to point to the spot and Steven Gerrard obliged. Babel added salt to Arsenal’s wounds with a fourth to put the game beyond doubt.

While the Gunners would have half an eye on Higuain, they also have to be mindful of Napoli’s skipper, the mohawked Marek Hamsik, that has been a creative force as well as the versatile Lorenzo Insigne, that has been one of the bright sparks of their campaign thus far. To injuries, Napoli has a full squad to select from with the only injury concern being wingback, Christian Maggio, that’s nursing a knee problem. Arsenal are still without Theo Walcott (stomach), Santi Cazorla (ankle), Yaya Sanogo (back), Lukas Podolski (hamstring), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Abou Diaby (both knee) but Tomas Rosicky will be fit enough to make it to the bench.

To team news, I would expect an unchanged lineup from the side that was victorious against Swansea. Mikel Arteta and Thomas Vermaelen are on their way to full fitness but the Gunners can make do without their services as they have proved all season long. If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.

I would expect both lineups to look like this,

Wenger has spoken about the counter-attacking threat Napoli poses, and his players will have to be on alert, because avoiding defeat in this fixture is key, as the Gunners are bracing themselves up for a double header with Dortmund in Matchdays 3 and 4.

It’s time to gain control of the group.

Sayonara.

To nominate goonerdaily.wordpress.com as the Best Sports Blog (section 23) for the 2013 Nigerian Blog Awards, please click here.

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

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

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

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