Monthly Archives: March 2015

Is Walcott’s Future in Doubt after Bust-Up with Wenger?

With international football taking center stage, I took out some time to see what some nations had to offer on the pitch. Nigeria hosted Uganda in the beautiful Akwa Ibom Stadium and the game was fondly remembered for Vincent Enyeama reaching his 100th cap. The goalie has served the country for 13 years and he has produced moments of sheer quality and consistency over the years. However the party was spoiled when some Ugandan bloke scored the onlygoal of the match to continue Nigeria’s winless streak in the stadium.

Moving on to things related with Arsenal, the forgotten fringe figure, Lukas Podolski, scored in Germany’s 2-2 draw with Australia. Mesut Ozil played the entire game and even wore the captain’s armband for 30 minutes when Sami Khedira was substituted. Elsewhere, the World’s Best striker, Lord Nicklas Bendtner scored a hat-trick in Denmark’s 3-2 win over the United States. Yes, I know that the Lord has left the club but some Arsenal fans (me included) follow his progress in VFL Wolfsburg and we were happy to see the Lord find the net in his last appearance for the German outfit.

England takes on Lithuania tomorrow in an important European qualifier and it would be interesting to see who Roy Hodgson would line up in his starting eleven but from an Arsenal perspective, we would be watching closely to see what Kieran Gibbs, Danny Welbeck and Theo Walcott would bring to the table.

Speaking of Walcott, he has been on the news recently when Football Talk published a piece that he had a training bust up with Arsene Wenger and that can see things turn sour in terms of his future with the club. At the time Walcott signed his last contract, he was indispensable to the club, scoring important goals and he was requesting for a run-out in the middle instead of the right wing berth he had made his own. Wenger actually heeded to his demands and he put up some hot and cold performances spearheading Arsenal’s attack with his last game as a center forward coming up in the North London derby in January.

Following a poor challenge from Danny Rose, Walcott suffered an ACL injury and things have turned for the worse since then. Off the pitch, he got married to his heartthrob and things seemed all peachy and creamy but since his return to full fitness, he has featured sporadically for the club. Walcott has managed score three goals in his handful of appearances this season but he has gone further down the pecking order with Alexis Sanchez and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain favored ahead of him. When the Gunners played Tottenham at White Hart Lane, Wenger preferred to play Welbeck that just returned from injury ahead of Walcott.

It’s quite evident that Wenger has some faith in the English speedster. Another classic example came in the FA Cup quarterfinal victory over Manchester United. When the Ox suffered that hamstring injury, Walcott has stripped and was ready for action, only for the manager to change his mind and bring on Ramsey, much to the frustration of Walcott.

Then there’s the niggling issue of his contract situation. Walcott currently has 15 months left on his current deal (100,000 per week) that made him one of the highest earners at the club before the likes of Ozil and Alexis came along. That was a protracted saga that went on for quite some time before both parties mutually agreed on a forward path. Now we are faced with a similar situation, and it seems as if Arsenal is gearing themselves to make a decision on Walcott’s future this summer. The player himself might be disgruntled but he has three plausible options,

  • Sign a new deal and fight for his place in the team
  • Chicken out and decide to move elsewhere or,
  • Sit out his fat contract and leave on a Bosman.

Arsenal will certainly not want to be left with option three so the club would want to do what they can to retain his services or sell him to the highest bidder. Right now, Wenger needs every player he can get at his disposal as the team is charging for a strong finish in the Premier League as well as defending their FA Cup crown.

Walcott remains an important asset to the team and we would nice his services between now and May.

I don’t know what the future holds for him though.

Sayonara.

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Thoughts on the International Break from an Arsenal Perspective

 

At least that nose can heal fully

There’s a bittersweet feel about this set of international fixtures. Arsenal has been in smoking hot form and besides the blips against Tottenham (away) and Monaco (home), the Gunners have recorded wins in such a mean streak. The Gunners had played three away games in their last four outings and they all recorded victories and as expected, the momentum is with the players.

Then the international break arrives. While some nations are playing the qualifying fixtures for the next European Championships in 2016, others are engaging themselves in some rather ‘meaningless’ friendlies. Arsenal, like many European juggernauts out there, has its own contingent that have been called up to represent their nations and the official site published a list of players that would be travelling all around the globe to represent their motherlands.

Danny Welbeck, Kieran Gibbs and Theo Walcott have been called up by Roy Hodgson for the qualifier against Lithuania and a friendly against Italy. Walcott and Gibbs having gotten as much game time as they’d have liked in recent weeks and will be hoping to feature for their nation. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain would have been called up but he’s still suffering from a hamstring injury. Calum Chambers was not called up at all, so he could use this period to get some rest and recharge his batteries. For a player that had not played much football in his career (broke into the Southampton first team just last season), Chambers featured heavily in the early parts of the season and did well. However, his form dipped as the campaign progressed but we have to cut the lad some slack because he still has a lot to learn at Arsenal. People tend to forget that he’s just 19.

Wojciech Szczesny has been called up for Poland’s qualifier against Ireland. Since the turn of the year, Szczesny has lost his place in the first team to David Ospina and he has been restricted to just FA Cup matches against Middlesbrough and Manchester United. Since Ospina became the custodian between the sticks, Arsenal’s defense has considerably improved but this article by 7am Kick Off suggests that Coquelin has been the key to that success.

Speaking of the Coq, he wasn’t called up by France (his teammates Olivier Giroud and Laurent Koscielny were called up) for the friendlies between Brazil and Denmark despite his remarkable run of form. He has played 21 games since December and fatigue was beginning to take its toll on the lad as we saw in the Newcastle game. Then of course, there’s the broken nose he has been playing with so this international break would give Coquelin some time to rest as he’d be vital in the team’s surge for a strong finish in the Premier League.

His teammate, Aaron Ramsey, recently stated that Coquelin keeps the midfield ticking over,

“He’s been really good. He’s very aggressive and doesn’t give the opposition much time on the ball, and that’s why he wins so many tackles. Then he wins the ball and makes us tick over.

“It’s been really good to see his development this year, he’s had a superb couple of months now so hopefully he can continue that.

“It is quite comforting knowing that one of the midfielders is behind you in position, thinking more defensively. It is something that he does really well.”

Elsewhere, the new kid on the block, Gabriel Paulista, has impressed Dunga enough to receive a call up for the games against France and Chile. The Brazilian did really well to recover from that hamstring string and he put up a virtuoso performance against Newcastle. The ageless Czech maestro, Tomas Rosicky, was called up for the games against Latvia and Slovakia, Ospina would hope to keep clean sheets against Bahrain and Kuwait, Ramsey would take on Israel, Santi Cazorla takes on Ukraine and Holland. Mesut Ozil plays Australia and Georgia and Alexis Sanchez would play Brazil.

I really hope our players come back unscathed.
Sayonara.

Gooner Daily has been nominated for the Best Sports blog category (section 22) in the 2014 Nigerian Blog Awards. Please vote!

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

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Vote for Gooner Daily in the 2014 Nigerian Blog Awards

Since I started blogging in 2010, it was been an awesome experience that has seen me improve myself, meet with a lot of people, make some great friends  and build up an online presence. Blogging about Arsenal has also afforded me the opportunity to write for other prestigious sports sites like Bleacher Report, 90 Minutes among others and the blog has been aggregated in some great sports sites like NewsNow and many others that help with the traffic.

In social media, the blog has garnered a Twitter followership of 6,242 and the Facebook page has 2,872 likes. Of course, it’s linked with other blogs and I’m proud to be part of that big online Arsenal family.

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I also want to use this medium to notify my esteemed readers that your daily Arsenal digest, Gooner Daily, has been nominated as one of the best five sports blogs in Nigeria, under the platform of the Nigerian Blog Awards.

My blog was nominated alongside All Soccer Planet, Soccer Fan Base, SoccerNET Nigeria and Wolexis Sports Blog. On a personal note, I’m close with the writers of Soccer Fan Base and Wolexis, and I’m happy to see that their good work has been recognized by this platform.

Voting started yesterday and will end on the 6th of April, before the results will be announced in afterwards.

As expected, I’ll publish the link here but I’ll like you to spread the word.

…And while you’re at it, don’t forget to vote for Movie Reviews in the Best Movie blog category.

It has been a great and magical blogging  experience since 2010 and while I’m proud of what I’ve achieved thus far, this blogger isn’t stopping any time soon.

The last time I checked, my blood cells are Red and White.

Sayonara.

Gooner Daily has been nominated for the Best Sports blog category (section 22) in the 2014 Nigerian Blog Awards. Please vote!

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

Feel free to visit Gooner Daily’s  Facebook page and click on the like button.

You can also join Gooner Daily’s Mailing List to get notifications of new posts by email by clicking on the Follow button