Monthly Archives: December 2013

Rating Arsenal’s Performances in the Month of December 2013

Arsenal's Theo Walcott (3rd L) celebrates with team mates after scoring a goal against West Ham United during their English Premier League soccer match at the Boleyn Ground in London December 26, 2013. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett

The Gunners began the month of December with a comfortable victory over Hull City but the club’s four-match winning streak was ended with a draw against Everton. Arsene Wenger’s men visited the San Paolo stadium in Italy for a crunch clash against SSC Napoli and lost to the Italian but they finished their Champions League group as runners up to Borussia Dortmund.

The Gunners returned to Premier League action and were thrashed resoundingly by Manchester City before reaching a goalless stalemate with Chelsea in a game Wenger would be remembered for not making a single substitution. Arsenal ended December with two tricky away wins over West Ham and Newcastle to seal top spot in the Premier League heading into the new year.

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. These votes will be used in the season review post that comes up at the end of the season.


Wojciech Szczesny was in phenomenal form in November conceding just one goal in six games and he carried this clean sheet run against Hull but his floodgates were opened in the Etihad and he responded with a clean sheet against Chelsea. In the games against West Ham and Newcastle, he made two errors that weren’t costly.

However, Szczesny made some breathtaking saves in the course of the month and the nominated saves are Szczesny’s save from Moussa Sissoko’s shot in the game against Newcastle, Szczesny’s save from Fernandinho’s shot in the drubbing at the Etihad and Szczesny’s neat neat save from Mark Noble’s free kick.


Arsenal played seven games in the month of ctober, scoring 10 goals in the process. With a plethora of breathtaking goals to choose from, I just had to make do with my top three.

The nominated contenders for the December Goal of the Month are Theo Walcott’s Thierry Henry-esque curler against Manchester City, Lukas Podolski’s thunderbolt against West Ham and Mesut Ozil’s placed effort against Hull City.


All 10 goals scored in the month of December came off some superbly threaded balls from a teammate and the nominated assists are Aaron Ramsey’s pass to Mesut Ozil against Hull City, Carl Jenkinson’s inch-perfect cross to Nicklas Bendtner against Hull City and Walcott’s cross to Olivier Giroud against Newcastle.


Arsenal had a series of mixed results in December with three victories, two draws and two stinging defeats. The nominated Match of the Month contenders are Arsenal 2 Hull 0, West Ham 1 Arsenal 3 and Newcastle 0 Arsenal 1.


This nomination goes out to the games the Gunners largely under-performed and I can look no further than the horrible thrashing in the hands of Manchester City, the disappointing defeat to Napoli and the painful draw against Everton.


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 December, the performances of these three players certainly caught the eye; Theo Walcott, Per Mertesacker and Bacary Sagna.


Some Gunners somewhat under-performed in the course of the month and it hurts to mention Santi Cazorla, Jack Wilshere and Olivier Giroud.


Arsenal had a somewhat stuttering form in December but there were still some players that produced immense glimpses of their quality in the course of the month that stood out from the rest. Without further ado, here are the top three players in month of December; Per Mertesacker, Theo Walcott and Mesut Ozil.

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


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Newcastle 0 Arsenal 1: Post-Match Thoughts and Player Ratings

13/14: West Ham 1-3 Arsenal - Olivier Giroud

The Gunners ended a great year on a high defeating a Newcastle side that was in a superb run of form, winning seven from nine games in the Premier League. All it took was a stunning header from Olivier Giroud (thanks heavens, he has finally scored!!!) from a Theo Walcott assist and the Gunners held on to seal a victory that sent them back to the top of the Premier League on the halfway mark.

In his post-match press conference Arsene Wenger was delighted about the team’s resilience and mental strength but his hands were a bit tied in terms of selection. Mesut Ozil missed the game because of an inflamed shoulder and he would be odds on to miss the New Year’s day clash against Cardiff. Thomas Vermaelen and Nacho Monreal fell ill but luckily, Laurent Koscielny returned to the fray alongside the BFG.

Listed below are the Gooner Daily player ratings for Arsenal’s victors in St. James Park:

Wojciech Szczesny: The big Pole dominated his area by coming out to claim some tricky crosses and he also made some outstanding saves in the course of the game. 7/10

Bacary Sagna: Sagna had a stellar performance and kept the free-scoring Yoann Gouffran at bay all game long. His distribution wasn’t as sleek as it has been in recent times but it was a great performance from the French fullback. We need to sort out his contract soon. 8/10

Kieran Gibbs: Gibbs struggled initially after being stretched by Mathieu Debuchy but as the game progressed, he found his footing. Like Sagna, his output in the final third wasn’t all that till he was replaced by Mikel Arteta in the second half. 6/10

Per Mertesacker: The captain of the day put up another exemplary performance in the heart of Arsenal’s defense, using his height to great effect as well as making those trademark Merteceptions. 8/10

Laurent Koscielny: After missing two games with a gashed knee, the unsung hero joined forces with his right hand man and they became a tight-knit bunch in the defense. With performances like this that culminated into another clean sheet, one can agree that it would take only injury or suspension to bring Thomas Vermaelen back into the side. 8/10

Mathieu Flamini: The Flanimal was a rather surprising inclusion ahead of Arteta but he justified his selection with another rugged performance protecting his back line with an iron fist. His utility was on show again when he was drafted as an auxiliary left back to accommodate Arteta in the middle of the park. 8/10

Jack Wilshere: Many (I included) had thought that Aaron Ramsey’s absence in midfield would offer Wilshere a chance to strut his stuff in his favored box-to-box midfield role but despite “fresher” than any of his teammates on the pitch, Jackie Boy put up a rather sub-standard performance and his passing was very erratic. He needs to step up his game or he’d find himself a warm cozy spot on the bench when everyone is fully fit. 5/10

Tomas Rosicky: One tends to wonder if Rosicky is really 33. His work rate, tackling and energy were the major highlights of his performance but he didn’t really offer much from an attacking perspective, despite playing as the creative hub of the team. 7/10

Santi Cazorla: After giving the fans a glimpse of the old Santi Cazorla on Boxing Day against West Ham, the diminutive Spaniard put up a rather subdued performance and failed to make his mark on the game. He’s really struggling on the left wing this season but I don’t see him displacing Ozil from the No. 10 role anytime soon. 6/10

Theo Walcott: Walcott was a somewhat peripheral player in the course of the game but he had his moments of immense quality as he provided a neat assist for Giroud and almost scored another but was stopped by the woodwork. The stunning thing about Walcott’s play this season is that you won’t feel his impact in the course of the game but in one moment he provides a clinical edge, which becomes a potent weapon. 7/10

Olivier Giroud:

29 12 2013 GifNumber 36 1 0 to the Arsenal: Olivier Giroud v Newcastle [GIF]

That was a moment that Giroud needed and you could see the relief in his celebration. Strikers are judged on goals and when a drought sets in, it clearly affects their confidence. Hopefully, this would spur him on to have a great 2014 with his team but he’d be mindful of the club’s dealings in the January transfer window. 7/10

Mikel Arteta: Came in for Gibbs and added some solidity to the midfield as you would expect from the imperious Lego-haired Spaniard. 7/10

Carl Jenkinson and Nicklas Bendtner didn’t play long enough to get ratings.

Do you agree or disagree with Gooner Daily’s post match thoughts and match ratings?

Feel free to share them with your comments below.


In other news, I finished the Canon Crested Arsenal Prediction League in second place and I’m getting a price soon, but a new season starts in January and it would be a good opportunity for more Gooners to join the Prediction League to win amazing prices. For further enquiries contact @CanonCrested and you can also visit the site

You can also join the Gooner Daily Fantasy Premier League, where the top three players win cash prizes at the end of the season but the winner also walks away with a branded jersey of his choice and it would be delivered to him anywhere in the world. To join the Gooner Daily FPL 2013/14, create a team in the Fantasy Premier League site, click on “join league” and insert this code,



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Updates on Ramsey’s Injury and Thoughts on his Replacements

Ramsey will miss the rest of the festive period

Aaron Ramsey has been one of the standout performers for Arsenal this season and his goalscoring exploits have endeared him to the fans. When he’s not scoring, he’s on the pitch giving a 110 percent for his side with his energy, work rate, tackles and of course, his neat passing range.

With his indispensable status in the team, Ramsey has featured heavily for the Gunners this season and these run of games have taken their toll on the Welshman as he pulled up short in the game against West Ham and he signified the bench that his time on the pitch was up. Arsene Wenger brought on Lukas Podolski in his stead and the rest they say was history.

West Ham United v Arsenal - Premier League

In his post-match conference, Wenger was asked about the extent of Ramsey’s injury,

“It looks [serious]. It looks like a thigh strain. I don’t know how serious the thigh strain is but the Christmas period certainly is over for him. It was his birthday today.”

This means that Ramsey is likely to miss the crucial Premier League clashes against Newcastle and Cardiff. He may also miss the FA Cup third round North London Derby clash which would make him gutted because the game against Tottenham has an extra incentive, feeling and atmosphere about it.

According to the, a player with grade one thigh strains should be rested from any sporting activity for about three weeks, and grade two thigh strains for about four to six weeks. In the case of a complete rupture, the thigh muscle will have to be repaired surgically and the rehabilitation afterwards will take about three months.

Ramsey is a player that could actually do with some rest, so that he can recharge his batteries and come back stronger and refreshed.

Santi Cazorla is a player that has been eased into action following an ankle injury but the manager chose to rest him in the crucial games against Manchester City and Chelsea. When he took to the pitch against West Ham, he became a beast of a player when he went to the No. 10 role alongside Mesut Ozil and was directly involved in Walcott’s first goal.

Ramsey’s stats this season (via WhoScored) have been jaw-dropping to say the least,


Aaron Ramsey

Appearances (Subs)

17 (1)

Goals Scored




Overall shots (Shots per Game)

40 (2.2)

Bookings (Yellow / Red)

2 / 0

Total Tackles (Tackles per Game)

66 (3.7)

Total Interceptions (Interceptions per Game)

19 (1.1)

Total Fouls Committed (Fouls per Game)

27 (1.5)

Dribbles (Attempted/Per Game)

27 (1.5)

Total Passes (Accurate Passes)

1262 (1064)

Pass Completion %


Total Long Balls (Accurate)

89 (62)

Total Through Balls (Accurate)

23 (7)

To lose a player with such amazing stats to injury is heartbreaking but Arsenal is a team with sufficient depth to cover for his absence. With the game against Newcastle coming up next, Wenger can opt for a more defensive approach with Mikel Arteta playing alongside Mathieu Flamini.

When Flamini plays in tandem with Arteta in the heart of Arsenal’s midfield, there’s this solidity they bring to the team and they offer a lot of protection to the rearguard. They are both seasoned veterans and their experience and discipline are always on show when they take to the pitch.

This season, Flamini has proved to the fans that some of the best things in life are free. His arrival mitigated a short-term challenge at the club, as Arsenal was desperately in need of cover in central midfield following the injury suffered by Mikel Arteta. In his second debut as a first half substitute for Jack Wilshere in the North London Derby, Flamini made his presence felt and he has been very vocal, directing his teammates and he has been willing to put his body on the line for his team.

He has offered some steel in midfield and his presence and influence have been hugely felt in the games he has played so far.

According to WhoScored, listed below are Mathieu Flamini’s stats this season,


Premier League

Champions League

Appearances (subs)

9 (4)


Tackles made (per game)

19 (1.5)

9 (2.3)

Interceptions made (per game)

16 (1.2)

12 (3)

Fouls committed (per game)

12 (0.9)

5 (1.3)

Clearances (per game)

20 (1.5)

6 (1.5)

Blocked shots (per game)

4 (0.1)

3 (0.1)

Total Passes (accurate passes)

507 (435)

294 (264)

Pass Completion percentage



Bookings (Yellow/Red)


Flamini stats this season have shown how he has been an asset to the team in the games he has played thus far. When he’s not with the ball, he keeps barking instructions to his teammates, putting them on track. His passing range is very impressive too, and from the tackles, interceptions, clearances and blocked shots, you’d know he’s the real deal as an anchor man.

Wenger can also opt to bring on Jack Wilshere to play his favored box-to-box position where he made his breakthrough in the 2010/11 campaign.

All-action: Wilshere produced a man-of-the-match performance against Barcelona in Arsenal's 2-1 victory

This season, the acquisition of Mesut Ozil and the emergence of Aaron Ramsey has seen Wilshere drafted to the wings and he hasn’t been too effective, even though he has scored four goals in 17 appearances – his highest goalscoring tally in Arsenal colors.

Bringing Wilshere to the middle of the park alongside Arteta would see the maestro make those trademark lung-bursting runs and he’s be seeking to create something out of nothing for his team, which will be beneficial to the team’s cause as each game progresses.

Wilshere has dominated the back pages for his off the pitch shenanigans but it’s high time he earns plaudits for his performances on it.


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