Monthly Archives: June 2016

Late Drama at the British Derby and Arsenal Linked with Gotze

Sturridge celebrates

The game was what we hoped for as both England and Wales battled hard to get a firm grasp of Group B. As I predicted yesterday, there were starts for Hal Robson-Kanu and Joe Ledley after their performance against Slovakia but Wily Ol’ Woy Hodgson stuck to his guns and featured the same squad that was disappointing against Russia on matchday 1.

The game was somewhat cagey at the start with Aaron Ramsey being a handful to the English side but the game sprung to life when Gareth Bale blasted in a free kick from an eternity away and the ball breezed past a hapless Joe Hart. The Manchester City goalie got a hand to the ball but it was not strong enough as the Welsh side went into halftime with a precious lead.

Hodgson responded with immediate effect as he chopped off the disappointing duo of Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling for Jamie Vardy and Daniel Sturridge. The changes proved their weight in gold as Vardy reacted quickly from a terrible Ashley Williams header to poke the ball past Wayne Hennessey, leveling the game. Many can complain that Vardy was miles offside but the ball came off a Welsh player, not his teammate. Rules are rules.

Ledley suffered what looked like a calf injury and was replaced by Dave Edwards. Shortly afterwards, Robson-Kane was shipped away for Jon Williams, as he couldn’t replicate the heroics of the first game. Just when we thought that the battle of Britain was going to end in a stalemate, Dele Alli showed some quick feet and he teed up Sturridge who controlled the ball superbly before firing it past Hennessey. On a second look, you would have felt that the goalie should have done better but these things happen.

England take control of the group with four points, making their game against Slovakia a 6-pointer.

After the England game, Ukraine and Northern Ireland kicked off Group C. With both teams losing their first games, there was the reality at the back of their minds that any team that lost today would join Albania out of the tournament. Following a goalless first half, West Brom’s Gareth McAuley opened the scoring but the contest was settled by Niall McGinn.

The final game of the day saw Germany take on Poland and it was set to be an interesting encounter, bearing in mind that the Poles drew some blood off the Germans in the qualifiers. Joachim Loew replaced Skhodran Mustafi with a fit-again Mats Hummels but it took a dominant defensive display from Hummels and his Jerome Boateng to mop up everything the Poles threw at them. There were moments when Germany let their guard down but Ajax’s Arkadiusz Milik showed his nervousness as he missed a couple of sitters.

Mesut Ozil had one sniff at goal when he fired a one-timed shot that was goal-bound but his former Arsenal teammate, Lukasz Fabianski, palmed the ball over the bar. In the end, both teams shared the spoils and it throws the group wide open as Germany and Poland will be hoping to get the points they need to finish top.

Elsewhere, there was a German player we have some keen focus on, as the Sun is reporting that Arsenal is linked with a £27m bid for German midfield maestro, Mario Gotze. The midfielder began his career in Borussia Dortmund and flourished under the tutelage of Jurgen Klopp, leading them to successive Bundesliga and DFB Pokal titles. When Bayern Munich activated Gotze’s release clause of €37m in 2013, he was the most expensive German player of all time but that record was later broken by Mario Gotze.

He enjoyed a good start to his Bayern Munich career, reaching double figures for goals in his two seasons, but he found games hard to come by last season, much to his disappointment. Gotze is a player that can benefit from playing in a club like Arsenal due to his technical brilliance as a player.

Let’s see how that pans out.


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Who Would Win the Battle of Britain?

I, an ardent Arsenal fan from Nigeria, have an affinity for the England national team. Maybe it’s not because I look forward to managing them and of course, Arsenal, on Football Manager, but it also has something to do with the fact that I’ve become so familiar with the players from watching them week in week out.

Hell, I’ve been playing the Fantasy Premier League for quite sometime and there were some English players that helped my team with their brilliant performances last season. Joe Hart handed me a couple of clean sheets, Dele Alli was a mainstay in my team and the firepower from Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy came in handy.

England began the competition with some high expectations and they had good odds to top their group that included Russia, Wales and Slovakia. The Welsh hinged their hopes on their favorite son, Gareth Bale, and he didn’t disappoint as he opened the scoring in their Euro 2016 campaign. Slovakia’s Duda leveled the contest for the Martin Skrtel-led outfit but it took a late goal from Hal Robson-Kanu (courtesy of a blonde Aaron Ramsey) to give Chris Coleman’s side all three points.

Welsh heroes celebrating their victory

With Wales taking the initiative and leading the group, it was down to Roy Hodgson’s lad to stand up and be counted. There was some violence from England and Russian fans that left a sour taste in the mouths of their nations, but when it was down for the football to do the talking, the spoils were shared. Tottenham’s Eric Dier opened the scoring with a well-taken free kick but Russian skipper, Vasili Berezutski, scored a late goal to deny England all three points.

The table looked really nice for the Welsh after the first matchday

Team Played Won Draw Lost GF GA GD Points
Wales 1 1 0 0 2 1 1 3
England 1 0 1 0 1 1 0 1
Russia 1 0 1 0 1 1 0 1
Slovakia 1 0 0 1 1 2 -1 0

The second round of matches kicked off yesterday and Marek Hamsik inspired his team to a 2-1 victory against Russia. After providing an assist form Vladimir Weiss, he scored a goal that proved to be the match winner and it gets better with every replay.

Slovakia’s victory over Russia has given the group a new dimension, which makes today’s clash more tasty. This is how the group table looks at the moment…

Team Played Won Draw Lost GF GA GD Points
Wales 1 1 0 0 2 1 1 3
Slovakia 2 1 0 1 3 3 0 3
England 1 0 1 0 1 1 0 1
Russia 2 0 1 1 2 3 -1 1

Welsh talisman, Bale, has thrown the gauntlet to the English team and appeared in bullish mode as the Real Madrid forward claims that no English player can get into the Welsh team. (via the Telegraph). I would expect Coleman to field the same tactical setup that was triumphant against the Slovaks but there may be some alterations.

Wales 3-5-2 football formation

John Williams put up a great shift for the team upfront but he offered little from an attacking perspective. He was substituted by Hal Robson-Kanu on the 71st and the Reading forward scored the match winner 10 minutes later. In my opinion, the striker has done enough to warrant a first team berth. There would also be a change in midfield with the tenacious and combative bearded fellow, Joe Ledley, coming on for Dave Edwards. The Crystal Palace midfielder is very familiar with the opposition and I expect him to give a good account of himself.

Moving over to the Three Lions, Hodgson would need to find a way to accommodate Jamie Vardy in the team, as his pace would have come in handy against a resolute Russian defensive unit. Yes, the Russians played quite deep but the English players failed to capitalize on the little chances they offered.

I see Hodgson sacrificing Adam Lallana and Raheem Sterling to bring Vardy and Jack Wilshere into the team. The setup would like this…

England 4-4-2 football formation

This promises to be a pulsating encounter and I hope it lives up to the billing.

Here’s to a great game of football.


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Reviewing Arsenal’s 2016/17 Premier League Fixtures

Arsenal kick off the campaign at home to Liverpool

Moving away from the welcome distraction that is Euro 2016, the official Premier League fixtures for the 2016/17 season have been released and it’s also on the Arsenal website. Here’ s a quick overview of Arsenal’s Premier League fixtures for the campaign.


  • 13th – Liverpool (Emirates)
  • 20th – Leicester City (King Power Stadium)
  • 27th – Watford (Vicarage Road)

The Gunners would kick off the new campaign with a home game against a formidable opponent in Liverpool. Jurgen Klopp has already been busy in the transfer market with some shrewd signings like Loris Karius from FSV Mainz and Joel Matip from Schalke 04. After clashing with Liverpool, Arsenal will visit the ground of the defending champions, Leicester, and it would be interesting to see how it pans out, especially with the lingering Jamie Vardy situation. The month will end with the Gunners visiting Walter Mazzari’s Watford.



  • 10th – Southampton (Emirates)
  • 17th – Hull City (KC Stadium)
  • 24th – Chelsea (Emirates)

The last time Southampton visited the Emirates, Fraser Forster put up a man of the match performance. With Ronald Koeman switching to Everton, the Saints will be tasked with finding a new manager and I’m sure he will be settled in before he brings his lads to the home of football.

Forster was a colossus for his team at the Emirates last season

After hosting Southampton, the Gunners would visit Hull City and I’m sure the fans at the KC Stadium will be happy that it’s not another FA Cup knockout tie, because they’ve become sick of playing Arsenal and losing all the time. The month will end with a home clash against Chelsea. With Jose Mourinho no longer pulling the strings at Stamford Bridge, we would have to see whether the Gunners shambolic record against the club is a cause from the Netherrealm.



  • 1st – Burnley (Turf Moor)
  • 15th – Swansea (Emirates)
  • 22nd – Middlesbrough (Emirates)
  • 29th – Sunderland (Stadium of Light)

If there’s any month I expect a clean sweep for the Gunners, it’s October. An away clash against Burnley should be pretty much routine but these teams have a penchant for springing up the odd upset from time to time. Then there’s the home clash against Swansea and I will be expecting some measure of revenge following last season’s torrid result at home to the Swans. Clashes against Middlesbrough and Sunderland complete the month.



  • 5th – Tottenham (Emirates)
  • 18th – Manchester United (Old Trafford)
  • 28th – Bournemouth (Emirates)

November has traditionally been a bogey month for Arsenal and the FA didn’t fail to disappoint, as the Gunners are set to lock horns with fierce enemies, Tottenham and Manchester United, that are now under the guidance of Arsene Wenger’s nemesis, Mourinho. Arsenal’s North London rivals have grown in stature since Mauricio Pochettino took over but I expect it to be a very tricky month. I just hope there wouldn’t be any needless injuries to contend with.



  • 3rd – West Ham (Olympic Stadium)
  • 10th – Stoke City (Emirates)
  • 14th – Everton (Goodison Park)
  • 17th – Manchester City (Etihad Stadium)
  • 28th – West Brom (Emirates)
  • 31st – Crystal Palace (Emirates)

The festive period will always have a grueling run of fixtures and December is no different with two tricky trips to Goodison Park and Etihad sandwiched between some home clashes against Stoke, West Brom and Crystal Palace.


January 2017

  • 2nd – Bournemouth (Vitality Road)
  • 14th – Swansea City (Liberty Stadium)
  • 21st – Burnley (Emirates)
  • 31st – Watford (Emirates)

Arsenal begins the new year with a visit to the Vitality Stadium before travelling to Wales to take of the Swans. Two comfortable home games against Burnley and Watford follow the away run of fixtures.



  • 4th – Chelsea (Stamford Bridge)
  • 11th – Hull City (Emirates)
  • 29th – Southampton (St. Mary’s Stadium)

The Gunners visited Stamford Bridge and St. Mary’s in February, two grounds they suffered disappointing defeats last season. While the Chelsea loss had a sour feel about it, the 4-0 demolition suffered in the hands of Southampton was rather shocking to say the least. I hope the lads make amends this time.



  • 4th – Liverpool (Anfield)
  • 11th – Leicester City (Emirates)
  • 27th – West Brom (The Hawthorns)

In March, it’s to Anfield where the Gunners take on Klopp’s goons and I”m hoping I don’t suffer any more heartache like the late goal Joe Allen scored to deny Wenger’s side three vital points. This would be followed by Leicester visiting the Emirates and they’d be gunned down by some good finishing from Vardy. The month would be rounded up when the lads visit the Hawthorns but there would be no Mikel Arteta to concede an embarrassing own goal this time.



  • 1st – Manchester City (Emirates)
  • 4th – West Ham (Emirates)
  • 8th – Crystal Palace (Selhurst Park)
  • 15th – Middlesbrough (Riverside)
  • 22th – Sunderland (Emirates)
  • 29th – Tottenham (White Hart Lane)

April sure has a lot of fixtures and if the Gunners manage to get far in other competitions, this would be a struggle for the lads. This obviously means that keeping the squad fresh and rotated would work ideally for Wenger.



  • 6th – Manchester United  (Emirates)
  • 13th – Stoke City (Britannia Stadium)
  • 21st – Everton (Emirates)

With the season winding down, the Gunners have a potential title decider against Manchester United in early May, and this would be followed with clashes against Stoke and Everton to end the campaign.

Here’s to a great Premier League campaign.

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