Monthly Archives: April 2014

Looking Back at Patrick Vieira’s Career at Arsenal: The Good, Bad and Ugly

Patrick Vieira

Arsenal’s official website recently reported that ex-Gunner great, Patrick Vieira, is among an elite set of footballers that is set to be inducted into National Football Museum’s Hall of Fame due to his outstanding contributions to the beautiful game. The former Gunners captain joins the likes of Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp, Tony Adams, Alan Ball and Cliff Bastin on the honour roll.

As expected, the Frenchman has expressed his delight at the decision to induct him into the Hall of Fame,

“I am extremely honoured and proud that I have been selected to join the National Football Museum Hall of Fame. It is a huge privilege to be inducted and join my former team-mates Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp and Tony Adams on the illustrious list.”

Being recognized for his outstanding contributions to the English game is an amazing feat and in his honor, Gooner Daily has decided to relive those moments that endeared Patrick Vieira to the hearts of Arsenal fans all over the globe.

Here’s an overview of the talismanic tenacious midfielder’s career revealing the good times, the bad times and certainly the ugly times.

The Good…

August 14, 1996 – Patrick Vieira Signs for Arsenal for £3.5 million from AC Milan

After making a name for himself in Cannes, Vieira signed for AC Milan in 1996 but he saw himself rotting in the Reserves and he managed to make just two Serie A appearances for the Italian giants.

Vieira in AC Milan. He endured a disappointing campaign in San Siro

He expressed his desire to leave the club and he was odds on to make a move to AFC Ajax Amsterdam but personal terms were not reached, so he opted to join Arsenal a couple of days later, alongside fellow Frenchman, Remi Garde, in a £3.5 million move. Vieira later revealed he signed for Arsenal because his compatriot Arsène Wenger was going to be the club’s next manager,

“I am delighted to be joining Arsenal at the same time as Mr Wenger becomes their coach. Being able to speak French to him will make life a lot easier for me.”

His Dominant Performances in Midfield…

Alongside fellow Frenchman, Emmanuel Petit, Vieira forged a formidable partnership that helped the Gunners in their bid to win trophies. Arsenal can attribute some of its successes in the double winning campaigns to the hardwork of its midfield engine room, even though the strikers played their roles.

Following Petit’s departure, Vieira played with several partners but his combination with Gilberto Silva in the heart of Arsenal’s midfield with a combo made somewhere in Orion’s Belt.

What I’ll give to have these guys again

As a player, Vieira has many good technical attributes which include a good first touch, wonderful heading ability, good passing range, excellent tackling abilities, an aggressive character and his anticipation skills are second to none. He’s also a very composed player, his decision making is top-notch, he knows how to position himself well and he’s a force to be reckoned with in the air.

Vieira’s frame and towering spirit gave him a mighty presence in midfield. His technique was unrivaled and he was so good at marking, his opponents checked for his presence even after the game was over.

Rising Through the Ranks…

Vieira was a heavily sought-after player with the likes of Manchester United and Real Madrid fighting hard for his signature but he pledged his allegiance to Arsenal times without number. In the summer of 2001, the club decided to elevate the Frenchman to the role of vice-captain to ensure he would succeed Tony Adams as captain. Success finally came for Vieira in the 2001–02 season; Arsenal regained the league from Manchester United and beat Chelsea in the 2002 FA Cup Final to complete a second double.

After so many years of undying service, Adams finally retired at the end of the 2001/02 campaign and the mantle of leading the club was passed on to Vieira, a role has relished for the best part of five seasons.

The Goals, All 34 of Them…

As a holding midfielder, Vieira’s business was at the center of the pitch but there were those odd moments he drifted forward to devastating effect, from his first ever goal against Derby County on December 8, 1996 till his final kick of the ball that won Arsenal the 2005 FA Cup.

The decisive goal in the 2005 FA Cup final


The Trophies, And He Won a Whole Lot…

In his time under Wenger, Vieira lifted the Community Shield four times (1998, 1999, 2002 and 2004), the FA Cup four times (1998, 2002, 2003 and 2005) and the Premier League three times (1998, 2002 and 2004).

The Bad and Ugly…

His Disciplinary Records…

In a game against Coventry City on 16 January 1998, Vieira received his first red card for using “foul and abusive language” at referee, Stephen Lodge.Vieira was again dismissed a month later, this time in a Football League Cup semi-final against Chelsea. In the 1999/00 season, in a game against West Ham United, Vieira was sent off for a second booking, after fouling striker Paolo Di Canio. He crowned up his horrifying moment by spitting  at Neil Ruddock, who walked into him and was dragged off the pitch by officials. Vieira was subsequently charged, banned for six matches and fined a record £45,000 by The FA.

As the seasons progressed, Vieira’s disciplinary problems continued as he was sent off on the opening day against Sunderland and for the second time in 72 hours at home to Liverpool.

When the Gunners played against Manchester United in September 2003, Vieira was brandished a red card and was banned for one match. The FA later imposed a fine of £20,000 “for improper conduct in failing to leave the field of play following his sending-off”. There was no love lost and nobody took prisoners when Arsenal faced Manchester United. There was also the prospect of watching Vieira and Roy Keane busting up with each other.

Ah! The good ol’ days

According to Thomas Swan of Hub Pages, Vieira has the highest amount of red cards (along with Everton’s Duncan Ferguson) in the Premier League, making him and the Evertonian the roughest players to grace the English game. While Vieira averaged one red card every 38 games, Ferguson bettered that record with a red card every 34 games.

Even a volatile player like Vinnie Jones of the Crazy Gang amassed six red cards while playing for Wimbledon and he has brought that attitude to the silver screen as he usually acts like an antagonist in most of his movies. Luckily for Vieira, Sunderland’s Lee Cattermole has seven red cards to his name and he’s odds on to take the nasty record away from the Frenchman in the not too distant future.

Racial Abuse…

After a group stage match against Lazio in October 2000, Vieira claimed he was the target of racial abuse from Siniša Mihajlović, to which UEFA subsequently launched an investigation into. Mihajlović later admitted he made reference to Vieira’s colour, but added that he was provoked. The player was then handed a two-match ban for “unsporting actions”.

Unfortunately, racism remains a scourge in the game and the sooner it gets eradicated, the better for everyone involved.


With a total of 406 appearances and 34 goals to his name, Vieira was regarded as a fiery character that gave his all to the team so his performances and influence on the pitch rubbed off on his teammates to strive to play better when the chips are down. He was a charismatic leader and was the kind of player that was never going to lay down and play dead for everyone.

Despite his poor disciplinary record, his teammates were always ready to go all the way for him because he protected them on the pitch like the true leader he was.

It was an honor watching Vieira for nine trophy-laden years.

It’s good to know that he would be inducted into the hall of fame soon.


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Diaby Returns: Is There Still Hope for him at Arsenal?


Abou Diaby

After almost a year out, he’s back!

Truth be told, injuries have become part and parcel of the modern game.

The competitive nature of football has led to teams battling each other for the ultimate goal of gaining victory and like every battle, there are casualties. In a club as technically proficient like Arsenal, they are players that are always on the line of fire due to their style of play while there are others that are just unlucky.

Abou Diaby arrived from AJ Auxerre in the 2006 winter transfer window and his lanky stature made the media label him as the next Monsieur Vieira. He wore the No. 2 jersey last worn by the great Lee Dixon and he made 12 league appearances before suffering a horrific ankle fracture following a horrendous challenge from Sunderland’s Dan Smith.

He missed Arsenal’s Champions League final against Barcelona as well as the 2006 European Under-21 Championships with France U-21s. Diaby went through a series of surgeries to fix up the ankle and he was sidelined for an entire pregnancy period. After recuperating and rehabilitating from that career-threatening injury, Diaby notched up a handful of appearances in 2007 before suffering another injury in the tail end of the year with Mathieu Flamini while representing France.

A year after that, Diaby suffered a thigh injury despite scoring in Arsenal’s ill-fated Champions League quarterfinal exit in the hands of Liverpool in March 2008. The injury escalated to a critical level forcing Diaby to miss out on Euro 2008.

Between 2009 and 2012, Diaby suffered a hip injurycalf injuryknee ligament damageankle injury, another ankle surgery and a thigh strain. There was even a period in his career when he traveled to the Middle East and the United States in his bid to save his career but Diaby made a long-awaited comeback against Liverpool in Anfield last season only to leave the pitch after 26 minutes. Just when we taught that things couldn’t get any worse for Diaby, he tore his anterior cruciate ligament on his left knee and the club announced that he was going to be sidelined for eight to nine months


See the scars on his knee

After a lengthy recuperation period, Diaby is back to full fitness and he even managed to get 45 minutes under his belt in the Arsenal U-21’s recent defeat against Chelsea U-21s. According to the match report on the official site, Diaby even had a chance to mark his return by a goal but the Chelsea goalie denied him his moment of glory.

Diaby has managed to amass 178 appearances for the club in nine seasons, which means that he averages just 19 games or so a season since he joined the club in January 2006. Diaby is undoubtedly a talented player but his injury woes has made him to become a liability at the club, rather than an asset. With a physique that is Patrick Vieira-esque in nature, the Frenchman combines his technical ability with good dribbling skills but he’s never around to showcase that talent.

Diaby’s cause wouldn’t be helped by the fact that the Gunners have so many options in midfield and with the likes of Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere manning the box to box role with authority, it would even be difficult for Diaby to get a shot in the holding role, as monsieurs Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini currently man those positions. He even has the threat of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to contend with.


Diaby was the Man of the Match when Arsenal beat Liverpool in Anfield last season

Diaby is one of our best midfielders, but he gets injured so often and it has also been proven in the past that Wenger has a soft spot for him. Anytime he’s fit, he somehow finds his way into the first team at the expense of someone else. Take his last return for example, Wenger played Diaby almost instantly and that was around the time the WC qualifiers was heavy and he got used almost every game for 90 minutes. 

Diaby has had so many injury setbacks and we as fans can only hope that is injury woes are now fully behind him. However, his contract expires next summer and I really don’t see the club renewing his deal.

It’s good to have Abou Diaby back.


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Thoughts on Moyes’ Dismissal and What the Future Holds for Wenger

As we all know, football can be a cruel and and unforgiving sport.

When Sir Alex Ferguson won the 2012/13 Premier League title, he must he felt within himself that he had gotten the very best from the players at his disposal before making his shocking announcement about his imminent retirement. He addressed everyone connected with the club to “get behind the new man” and when the time came, Everton’s stalwart, David Moyes, was announced as the manager to take the club forward.

While Moyes was still getting a hang of things at his new club, Sunderland parted ways, rather acrimoniously, with the volatile and charismatic Paolo di Canio, making him the first managerial dismissal of the season. After working hard to bring Crystal Palace up through the lottery of the Championship playoff final, Ian Holloway and the Eagles parted ways via mutual consent. December turned out to be a hot month for firing managers as Martin Jol, Steve Clarke, AVB and Malky Mackay received the axe.

AVB looking clueless as always during his time in England

When Michael Laudrup surprisingly lost his job in February, Fulham were at it again as Rene Meulensteen was sacked after just 13 games with his new team. Norwich finally terminated Chris Hughton’s employment after a run of fruitless results and many bookies believed that it was going to be the final sacking of the season, till the summer at least.

Little did we know that the hierarchy of Manchester United had something up their sleeves and inevitably, David Moyes, lost his job after 10 months in charge. The Red Devils are set to have their lowest points tally in Premier League history as well as not qualifying for the Champions League in some 18 years or so, and as expected, the naming ceremony has begun for his potential replacement.

News of Moyes sack was strangely followed with Manchester United fans celebrating wildly in various social networking platforms, even to the extent where a fan baked a cake in honor of his manager losing his job.

Former Red Devil, Gary Neville, has openly criticized the sacking of David Moyes and while I’m certainly no Man U fan, I feel that he should have been given more time to turn things around at the club. It’s true that his players struggled for form but axing him with three games to go wasn’t worth the trouble. At least, he’s walking away with £10 million.

As for his replacements, Dortmund’s Jurgen Klopp has a £5m to £10m buy-out clause while Pep Guardiola’s release fee is close to £16m allegedly but reduces as the end of his contract approaches. Media favorite, Louis Van Gaal’s clause is allegedly £2m unless he is sacked after the World Cup. Wasting £10m in relieving the services of Moyes is no where as detrimental as the impact of not featuring in EUrope’s elite football competition next season, as it’s clearly obvious that Manchester United fans would brace themselves up for some Thursday night football.

Bringing it home to “more familiar surroundings”, Arsene Wenger’s 18-year stint with the club seems to be reaching its climax and no one knows the decision the manager is going to take this summer and while we fans are hoping for the best, we are also preparing for the worst.

Arsene Wenger could win the FA Cup and bow out like Sir Alex Ferguson, then probably recommend someone that he feels would be in the best position to the take the club forward. Many fans are also hoping for him to sign the new deal and spend this summer so that he can reap the fruits of his labor.

Many have bemoaned the lack of trophies, failure to sign quality players, rigid tactics and his stubbornness could be good enough reasons for the club to decide not to retain his services but the board still has the final say, and we all know that the Arsenal hierarchy remain supportive of the manager.

The loss of David Moyes is rather unfortunate, but that’s football.

These sort of stuff are part and parcel of the game.


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