Monthly Archives: October 2016

Thoughts of Ramsey’s Return to Full Fitness


SUNDERLAND, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 29: Aaron Ramsey of Arsenal vies with Patrick van Aanholt of Sunderland during the Premier League match between Sunderland and Arsenal at Stadium of Light on October 29, 2016 in Sunderland, England. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

For those that watched the European Championships last summer, they must have been astonished with the performance of the Welsh national team. Reaching the semifinals of their maiden Euros was a monumental achievement but there were certain players that played key roles in reaching that feat. Gareth Bale accepted his talismanic role with full responsibility and scored many important goals for his nation as they progressed in the tournament. Another instrumental player was the blonde Aaron Ramsey that was a vital cog in the Welsh midfield engine and his absence in the semis against Portugal was a bitter pill to swallow.

Unlike Laurent Koscielny and Olivier Giroud that were given extended breaks from their Euro exertions, Ramsey started in the curtain raiser against Liverpool and suffered a recurrence of his hamstring injury that sidelined him for months. In all honesty, his absence from the team wasn’t felt as Santi Cazorla, Granit Xhaka, Francis Coquelin and Mohamed Elneny took turns to fill up the holding midfield slots. Coquelin suffered an injury against Chelsea that paved the way for Xhaka to get an extended run on the side but the Swiss maverick earned himself a red card against Swansea, thereby suspending him for three games.

Arsenal’s depth was on the spotlight, showing how much things have improved at the club, and people tend to forget that a certain Jack Wilshere is plying his trade at Bournemouth because he couldn’t break into the first team. The Gunners suffered a big blow when Cazorla got a knock against Ludogorets a fortnight ago and for some reason, he hasn’t recovered. With the North London derby and a trip to Old Trafford in the horizon, the club would be hoping their Spanish magician recovers on time but with the depth available, Cazorla doesn’t have to be used against Ludogorets tomorrow.

Which brings us to Ramsey. He’s fit again and he’s raring to go. Endured a brief cameo against Sunderland and even managed an assist for Alexis Sanchez. The Welshman will be itching to make up for lost time and with Cazorla out of action, he would be hoping to get the nod for the trip to Bulgaria. His manager, Arsene Wenger, is quite elated about his return to full fitness,

“He is a player who is box-to-box so overall he pushes the team forward. That is what we want in our side. He can play in holding midfield, he can play if needed on the flanks as well. That’s where he is not happy but he can play there as well.”

“He has a tremendous drive, he’s a bit Lampard-ish you know, where he likes to get in the box, likes to shoot from distance and has similar quality.”

However, the manager is trying to be cautious on throwing Ramsey into action,

“I don’t know. I  will have to analyse all that now, with Xhaka back. We play now in the Champions League and then we play Tottenham.

“So I have to see who I rest and who I play without diminishing the chance of the team to win the game.”

With the depth available in the squad, there would be no need to rush Ramsey into action, so that there would be no risk of aggravating his injury, but it’s really heartwarming to know that he’s available for selection.


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Giroud and Sanchez Sink Sunderland

Alexis v Sunderland

Sunderland 1-4 Arsenal

Match ReportMatch HighlightsPost-Match Press Conference

The thing about early fixtures is that it sets the tone for the rest of the game week, especially when your team is involved. Based on form, it was a fixture that looked easy on paper but with the Gunners dropping points at home to Middlesbrough, Wenger had to ensure that his lads don’t let their guards down.

Due to fitness issues, Nacho Monreal and Theo Walcott were sidelined but the club had the adequate depth to replace them as Kieran Gibbs and the in-form Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain stepped in. Ox was at it as he supplied a sumptuous cross that was headed spectacularly by Alexis Sanchez. You would have expected Lamine Kone to get his head to the ball but he wasn’t aware of Alexis’ presence. Mesut Ozil had a great chance to double Arsenal’s money when he was clean through on goal but his lobbed attempt was saved by Jordan Pickford.

With Arsenal failing to gain a stronghold on the game, Sunderland got themselves back when Skhodran Mustafi’s unfortunate slip saw Watfore bear down on Petr Cech’s goal before he was scythed down by the Czech goalie. Jermaine Defoe sent Cech the wrong way from 12 yards with Sunderland’s first shot on target, leveling the contest.

Wenger summoned Olivier Giroud for a clearly jaded Alex Iwobi and gave Arsenal the lead with literally his first touch of the game. A lovely snap shot from Gibbs’ drilled pass. Giroud doubled his effort afterwards when he reacted early to Mesut Ozil’s in-swinger to give the Gunners a comfortable lead. Late on, Alexis joined the party with his brace for the night, thereby driving the final nail in Sunderland’s coffin.

With the game against Ludogorets on the horizon, it was good seeing the lads dispatch Sunderland with such ease, without any new casualties. The result saw Arsenal go to the top but results elsewhere dropped the club to second place, as Man City thrashed West Brom resoundingly.

All focus would be on the midweek game in the coming days.


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Sunderland Preview: Time to Return to Winning Ways in the League

Sunderland are currently one of the poorest teams in the league in terms of form and in David Moyes, they have a manager with a track record of struggles in his Manchester United days. With just two points from their opening nine games, Sunderland have one of the worst records in the league and would be hoping to stop the rot from this weekend when the Gunners arrive at the Stadium of Light.

Their record against the Gunners isn’t favorable as well, with Arsene Wenger’s side unbeaten against the Black Cats in their last nine meetings. In fact, Sunderland has won just one of their last 25 Premier League meetings with Arsenal, drawing nine and losing 15. When both sides met last season in this venue, it turned out to be a stalemate with the home side putting up a dogged display which was combined with some efficient goalkeeping from ex-Gunner, Vito Mannone. Sadly, he wouldn’t be available for this tie, following the nasty elbow injury he picked up early in the season.

Arsenal Team News

With Arsene Wenger resting a host of players for the Reading game, we would expect a fresh squad for today’s game but in his press conference yesterday, he confirmed the availability of Olivier Giroud and Aaron Ramsey for the game, while raising concerns about the fitness of Nacho Monreal, Theo Walcott and Santi Cazorla.

Thankfully, the squad has enough depth to deal with the situation. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is a player that could be considered following his upturn in form but it’s down to the manager to decide his best XI for the game with half an eye on the game against Ludogorets.

Arsenal Injury / Suspension News

Per Mertesacker, Danny Welbeck (knee), Santi Cazorla (Achilles tendon), Chuba Akpom (back), Granit Xhaka (suspension), Lucas Perez (ankle), Theo Walcott (hamstring – doubt), Nacho Monreal (muscle – doubt)

Arsenal Predicted Lineup

Arsenal 4-2-3-1 football formation

Sunderland Team News

The Black Cats have many injury problems to contend with and would be gnashing their teeth following yet another narrow defeat, this time to Southampton, in the EFL Cup. Before that encounter, the Black Cats were odds on to seal a draw with West Ham before Winston Reid scored a late goal that ended the game in anguish for Moyes.

The Scot manager has some injury problems to contend with but he would be hoping to line up a squad that would do the business against Arsenal today.

Sunderland Injury / Suspension News

Jason Denayer (groin), Jan Kirchhoff (hamstring), Lee Cattermole (back), Adnan Januzaj (ankle), Fabio Borini (groin), Vito Mannone (elbow), Seb Larsson (knee)
Sunderland Predicted Lineup

Sunderland 4-2-3-1 football formation

Team Form


  • Last Five Games: W W W D W
  • Last Result: Arsenal 2-0 Reading
  • Leading Goalscorer: Theo Walcott (8)


  • Last Five Games: L D L L L
  • Last Result: Southampton 1-0 Sunderland
  • Leading Goalscorer: Jermaine Defoe (4)

Gooner Daily predicts a 2 – 0 win.


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