Monthly Archives: May 2014

Nominations for the 2013/14 End of Season Awards


With the 2013/14 season review already published, it’s time to relive those moments that would that stood out from yet another exhilarating campaign. Arsenal had a great preseason tour in Asia but began the Premier League on a bad note with a defeat to Aston Villa. After a topsy turvy campaign, the Gunners had to make do with a fourth placed finish despite leading the table for a considerably long period of time.

The Champions League campaign was halted by Bayern Munich yet again and Jose Mourinho’s good record over Wenger continued this season and the Portuguese manager defeated Arsene Wenger in the Capital One Cup. However, the season ended on a high with the Gunners ending their long-standing trophy drought after winning Hull City in a pulsating final encounter.

With no further ado, I’ve created eleven categories for the voting sequence (polls) and I’ll be grateful if you select the category that best suits you then place your vote.


Category One: Save of the Season

This season, Arsenal fielded Wojciech Szczesny for a large chunk of the campaign in the Premier League and Champions League but Lukasz Fabianski was the custodian between the sticks in the domestic cup competitions. As for Emiliano Viviano, he could just say that he enjoyed the London scenery for a year and he trained regularly at London Colney.

The nominated saves of the season include – Szczesny’s improvised save from Jermaine Defoe’s deflected shot against Tottenham (home), Szczesny’s superb save from Mila Jedinak’s shot against Crystal Palace (away) and Szczesny’s save from Moussa Sissko’s drive against Newcastle (away).

Category Two: Goal of the Season

As expected from an attacking side like Arsenal, the goals have rained in this season but there have been some that have stood out from the rest. Here’s my pick of the bunch – Jack Wilshere’s deft finish after a magnificent team move when the Gunner hosted Norwich, Aaron Ramsey’s belter against Norwich (away) and Tomas Rosicky’s chip over Vito Mannone following another great team move against Sunderland.

Category Three: Match of the Season

Arsenal fans watch their darling team play week in week out but there will always be some games that would last forever in the minds of the supporters. This season, my pick is – Arsenal’s FA Cup victory over Hull, the FA Cup win over Tottenham and Arsenal’s comfortable league win over Liverpool.

Category Four: Worst Match of the Season

While there were games that filled the fans with fits of euphoria, there were other games we couldn’t wait to see the back of. This season, Arsenal has had a plethora of horrible results but I had to sift from a host of them before concluding with – the humiliating decimation against Chelsea, the uninspiring drubbing in the hands of Liverpool and losing to the worst Manchester United side in decades.

Category Five: Most Disappointing Draw of the Season

Sometimes, it’s saddening to know that the difference between one point and three is just one goal but there were games when the Gunners failed to get that telling goal that would settle the game. My pick for the most disappointing draw of the season are Arsenal’s toothless performance against Manchester United at the Emirates, Arsenal capitulation against Swansea (home) and Arsenal’s home draw against Everton.

Category Six: Most Improved Player of the Season

This season, many players stepped up the plate to put up much-improved performances in contrast to how they played last season. Many players improved in all ramifications but my pick of the bunch was Aaron Ramsey’s performances all season long, the new-look Per Mertesacker and the consistent performances for Kieran Gibbs.

Category Seven: Most Disappointing Player of the Season

While there were some Gunners that put up improved performances all season long, there were others that had disappointing spells as the season progressed that made the fans call for their heads on a plate. This season, there were occasions when Nacho Monreal, Lukas Podolski and Bacary Sagna failed to come to the fray.

Category Eight: Youngster of the Season

As we all know, Arsenal is a club that gives chances to youngsters and there were some that took their opportunities with both hands when it arrived. My pick for the youngsters of the season are Serge Gnabry and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Category Nine: Unsung Hero of the Season

While it was evident that there were some players that took the spotlight for their performances, there were other players that weren’t really recognized on the pitch for their effortless work in making the team tick. Gooner Daily has recognized the efforts of Kieran Gibbs, Mikel Arteta and Laurent Koscielny.

Category Ten: Best Moment of the Season

This season, there have been several iconic moments but nothing stands out more than watching Mesut Ozil score his debut goal, lifting the FA Cup and seeing the team at the summit of the Premier League on countless occasions.

Category Nine: Player of the Season

Finally, this is the award that goes out to the best player in the 2013/14 season. All players gave their all to the Gunner’s cause but these individuals stepped up the plate and endeared themselves to the hearts of Arsenal fans. May I present – Aaron Ramsey, Laurent Koscielny and Olivier Giroud.


That’s your lot, my Gooner family.

Please make your votes count because the results will influence my 2013/14 End of Season awards post.

Feel free to check out how last year’s awards looked like.


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A Tribute to Bacary Sagna: An Epitome of Consistency

My best Sagna moment

It’s the 2006/07 season, Arsenal’s first campaign at the Emirates. The Gunners struggle in the Premier League ending up with a fourth placed finish. The club’s Champions League campaign ends in shambles after crashing out to PSV Eindhoven in the Round of 16 and there’s even more heartbreak in the FA Cup as the Gunners lose to Blackburn. The club’s only hope of a trophy comes up against Chelsea in the Carling Cup final and Wenger decides to field the likes of Justin Hoyte, Armand Traore, Denilson Neves, Jeremie Aliadere and Drogba’s wifey, Phillippe Senderos.

After another trophy-less campaign, there are some surprising sales that summer. After so many years of faithful service, Fredrik Ljungberg is sold to West Ham, El Homesickla, or Jose Antonio Reyes as he’s known in the modern world finds his way to Atletico Madrid, and it’s also shocking to know that the club’s record goalscorer, Thierry Henry, has jumped ship to FC Barcelona.

How does Arsene Wenger respond? He buys Lukasz Fabianski to replace the departed Mart Poom, the lethal and clinical Cro-zilian, Eduardo da Silva, for Henry, Lassana Diarra and a relatively unknown right back from AJ Auxerre, Bacary Sagna. With only the threat of Emmanuel Eboue to battle with, Sagna marauded the right wing with his balanced style of play and after making 40 appearances and six assists to his name, Sagna was deservedly voted into the 2007/08 Team of the Year.

Sagna didn’t rest on his laurels and he continued to produce consistent displays week-in week-out, while keeping his optimal fitness levels in check. His continued stellar performances brought an abrupt end to Eboue’s Arsenal career, as the Ivorian opted to join Galatasaray in his bid to play first-team football.

His moment of glory came with a price, as he injured himself after scoring his first ever goal for the club in that Didier Drogba-inspired 2 – 1 loss to Chelsea in Stamford Bridge. In the 2010/11 campaign, he managed to score two well-taken goals against Everton in Goodison Park and Leeds United in Elland Road. His most important goal as it sparked a revival in one of the most enthralling games I’ve witnessed as an Arsenal fan. That was a North London Derby to remember.

Every true Arsenal fan will always remember the North London derby last season at the Emirates for more reasons than one.

Arsenal’s fierce rivals arrived at the Emirates sitting 10 points clear of the Gunners and they went two goals behind for a considerable chunk of the first half, which meant that they would have been 13 points behind Tottenham and their third place ambitions would have been obliterated.

But when the going got tough, it took one header to inspire Arsenal to an unbelievable comeback. A header from Bacary Sagna.

However, when Sagna’s nodded Mesut Ozil’s cross in Arsenal’s win over Stoke, little did we know that it would turn out to be his last goal for the club.

In his time at Arsenal, the fans have become accustomed to his eccentric hairstyle, his beautiful Ludivine, his optimal fitness levels, amazing work rate, his influence on Carl Jenkinson and most importantly, his unrivaled consistency that has been put in question this season. Suffering two broken legs definitely took a toll on Sagna’s fitness and form, but he myst be lauded for trying to come back stronger.

No thoroughbred Arsenal fan will ever forget his 5-star performance against Sunderland this season.

He was drafted into an unfamiliar center back role after Laurent Koscielny picked up a knock in the warm up but Sagna’s performance against Sunderland would go down as one of his best in Arsenal colors. His cause wasn’t helped with the fact that the stand-in right back, Carl Jenkinson, got a red card that exposed his naivety but Sagna marshaled a defense that held the fort from start to finish. He made a lot of vital interceptions, clearances, headers and was awesome in every sense of the word.

In football, the art of tackling requires a lot of precision as well as technique. If you get it right, you might earn an ovation from the crowd…but if you get it wrong, you’ll find yourself in the referee’s book.

Fortunately, Sagna is ranked among the best tacklers in the business, and his record of just 22 yellow cards and one red card in 213 Premier League games is a testament of that. If you doubt Sagna’s clinical abilities in tackling, take a good look at Lee Cattermole’s Premier League profile, where he has amassed 65 yellow cards and seven red cards in 204 games.

Everyone also appreciates the impact he has had on Carl Jenkinson’s fledgling career.

When Carl Jenkinson joined the club as a relatively unknown figure from Charlton Athletic, Wenger took him under his tutelage and made a big call by letting cult hero, Emmanuel Eboue, to go Turkey, leaving young Jenko to understudy Sagna.

After a series of not too impressive performances, Jenkinson got his big break when Sagna was out injured and after watching him make stellar performances from the sidelines, Sagna acknowledged that the young full back will be one of the best in the business (via,

“He has been really good, and has learned a lot, he is a bit more confident with the ball, and is very solid as a defender.

“He brings a lot to the team, and I am very happy for him because he is a hard worker, a very good guy and is going to be one of the best.”

Since then, Jenkinson signed a long-term deal with the club, made his international debut in England’s defeat to Sweden and he even opened his goalscoring account for the club.

The Metro reports that he has been offered a bumper contract by Manchester City and he would join the exodus of Quinn, David Seaman, Emmanuel Adebayor, Kolo Toure, Gael Clichy and $amir Na$ri that left the Gunners to earn bigger bucks at the Etihad. Many fans have voiced their concerns on the issue and while others are unhappy that he’s moving to Arsenal’s rivals, fans like me have given him our blessing and we can only wish him all the best.

There are so many things to love about Bacary Sagna, but none can be compared to his consistency on the field of play.

Week-in week-out, Sagna marauded Arsenal’s right flank balancing his defensive and attacking play superbly. Since the days of Lee Dixon and Lauren Etame-Meyer, Sagna’s performances on the right ranks him with the very best in the beautiful game and Arsenal fans are honored to have such an amazing player in every sense of the word.

After 284 appearances, five goals and 22 assists, Sagna’s seven-year stint with Arsenal is over.

Here’s to Sagna, an epitome of consistency.


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Coleman or Aurier: Who Should Replace Bacary Sagna at Arsenal?

Who would replace Bacary Sagna?

Who would replace Bacary Sagna?

Useless you’re leaving in a cave with no access to internet and cable TV, you should know that Bacary Sagna’s footballing future is far far away from Arsenal. Whether he decides to swoop for the oil riches of Manchester City or anywhere else in the footballing galaxy, the bottom line remains that Arsene Wenger has to make a decision on the right back position next season.

For the first time in many seasons, Arsene Wenger had a back line he could trust and keeping 16 clean sheets from 38 Premier League games was a testament of their collective improvement, even though Wojciech Szczesny took the plaudits for winning the Golden Glove with Petr Cech.

At left back, Kieran Gibbs showed great improvement but his fitness issues afforded Nacho Monreal some game time. In the center back positions, the club’s captain struggled hard to command a place in the team because the Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny combination was awesome in every sense of the word.

At the right flank, Bacary Sagna was clearly favored ahead of Carl Jenkinson, which made the young lad to be reduced to a couple of substitute appearances and his error in the Capital One Cup fourth round fixture against Chelsea haunted him. On the other side of the scale, he provided two brilliant assists for Aaron Ramsey (Sunderland (away)) and Nicklas Bendtner (Hull (home)) and even managed to get on the score sheet against Norwich.

Who could see how much the goal meant to him

Jenkinson is an Arsenal player and fan but in all honesty, he’s still a couple of years from producing his best football and I strongly believe that his game will be significantly improved if he’s sent on loan for a full season to get some vital match experience but with Sagna as good as gone, one wonders what the future holds for the lad.

Will Arsene Wenger announce that he will be the club’s leading right back next season with the likes of Hector Bellerin coming into the fray? Will he be sent out on loan (as I’ve suggested) or will Arsenal purchase a new leading right back with Jenkinson playing second fiddle.

Let’s explore the last option.

Many Gooners responded to the tweet and shared their opinions with the names “Seamus Coleman” and “Serge Aurier” popping up more times than the amount of penalties Lee Probert chose to deny this season. These are players that had great campaigns in their clubs and will be more than capable of replacing Sagna in Arsenal’s defense.

As an avid watcher of the Premier League, Seamus Coleman was one player that was particularly outstanding this season and his place in the PFA Team of the Year was well deserved. He was an ever-present figure in Everton’s back line and he marauded the right flank with such zeal and energy, and to top it all of, he got in on the scoring act a couple of times this season.

Meanwhile across the Channel in the city of Toulouse, a certain Ivorian full back (not Farmer Emmanuel Eboue) was busy terrorizing defenses in Ligue 1 and he helped his team to a respectable ninth place this season. Serge Aurier was a growing influence in his team and like Coleman, he scored a couple of vital goals for his club.

With some assistance from the folks at WhoScored, it’s time to do a lil’ comparison between Seamus Coleman and Serge Aurier’s performances in the 2013/14 season. Gooner Daily intends to focus on the overall, defensive, offensive and passing stats of both players.


According to WhoScored, the table below shows the overall stats of both players,

STAT (League Only)* Coleman Aurier
Appearances (Subs) 36 (0) 34 (0)
Goals 6 6
Assists 2 6
Bookings (Yellow / Red) (3/0) (11/0)
Aerial Duels Won /Attempted 0.4 per game (15/27) 2.7 per game (91/150)
Man of the Match Awards won 1 6
Who Scored Rating 7.32 7.43

From the table above, both players were tied on the number of goals scored but Aurier edged his counterpart in the assists charts. Due to his physical presence, he also won a boatload of balls in the air, which is something that was hugely associated with Sagna this season. Wojciech Szczesny had a penchant for floating balls to the Frenchman and in 180 aerial duels, Sagna won a whooping 122 which meant that he averaged 3.5 aerial duels per game.

On the down side, Aurier amassed a considerable haul of bookings and if he was in the Premier League he would have been suspended thrice (once for picking up five yellow cards and twice for picking up 10 yellow cards). On another day, he might have even seen red.


Looking at the defensive side of their games, which is obviously their primary jobs, listed below are their stats from WhoScored,

STAT (League Only)* Coleman Aurier
Tackles (per game) 71 (2) 94 (2.8)
Interceptions (per game) 47 (1.3) 75 (2.2)
Fouls Committed (per game) 25 (0.7) 38 (1.1)
Offsides Won (per game) 14 (0.4) 2 (0.1)
Clearances (per game) 88 (2.4) 102 (3)
Dribbled by Others (per game) 18 (0.5) 21 (0.6)
Blocked Shots (per game) 9 (0.3) 9 (0.3)
Own Goals committed 1 0

As these stats clearly show, Aurier is a better defensive-minded player than Coleman. He has amassed more tackles, interceptions and clearances than the Irish full back. It’s also worth noting that Aurier’s defensive stats are even better than Sagna’s this season.


Both players showcased their offensive prowess this season scoring six goals each, even though Aurier edged Coleman out with more assists. The table below shows their offensive stats via WhoScored,

STAT (League Only)* Coleman Aurier
Goals 6 6
Assists 2 6
Shots (per game) 30 (0.8) 58 (1.7)
Key Passes (per game) 45 (1.3) 32 (0.9)
Successful Dribbles (per game) 64 (1.8) 47 (1.4)
Fouled by Others (per game) 31 (0.9) 56 (1.6)
Times Caught Offside (per game) 2 (0.1) 7 (0.2)
Times Dispossessed (per game) 37 (1) 76 (2.2)
Turnovers (per game) 23 (0.7) 45 (1.3)

Offensively, Coleman would obviously edge Aurier bearing in mind that he was a winger that was converted into a fine full back. However, Aurier doubled the amount of shots Coleman made and it’s worth noting that he was dispossessed a lot of times as well as straying offside too. Coleman is a better dribbler and he supplied more key passes than Aurier.


Finally, it’s time to review the passing stats of both players via WhoScored,

STAT (League Only)* Coleman Aurier
Assists 2 6
Key Passes (per game) 45 (1.3) 32 (0.9)
Pass Completion % (Accurate / Total) 88.5% (1235/1395) 76.9% (1213/1577)
Successful Crosses (Accurate / Total) 0.8 (22/88) 1.1 (37/191)
Long Balls (Accurate / Total) 1.2 (42/79) 1.7 (57/108)
Through Balls (Accurate / Total) 0.1 (2/2) 0.1 (2/11)

Coleman’s stats edge Aurier on this front but it’s funny to know that both players aren’t accurate crossers of the ball, a similar problem encountered at Arsenal with Sagna having a meager 0.5 crosses per game (18 accurate from 123 crosses!).

These stats from WhoScored have given us a glimpse on how both players performed this season and it’s fair to say that they both had successful campaigns. But as I asked earlier, if you’re in Arsene Wenger’s shoes, who would you replace Bacary Sagna with?

Seamus Coleman or Serge Aurier?


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