Monthly Archives: September 2017

The Europa League is Finally Here: FC Cologne Preview

The reality of finishing below the Champions League for the first time in umpteen years is finally setting in as Arsenal host FC Cologne in the Europa League – Europe’s second tier competition. Many are obviously disappointed about the team appearing in this competition, especially how we have spent loads of seasons in the Champions League, but I look at it as a fresh opportunity for the boss to feature some players that wouldn’t be chanced to play regular Premier League football.

As expected, there were a host of players that have been rested for the spicy encounter against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, and there would be lads with something to prove in the new campaign. David Ospina knows in his heart of hearts that he can never replace Petr Cech as the team’s custodian between the sticks bar some bizarre injury to the legendary Czech goalie but the departures of Wojciech Szczesny and Emiliano Martinez (on loan) was a clear indication to Ospina that his services are still required at the club. While Cech does the business in the Premier League, Ospina has to make do with the Cup competitions and just live with it.

In defense, I am hoping to see the likes of Rob Holding and Calum Chambers that have fallen out of favor with the manager. Despite a stellar breakthrough debut campaign last season, Holding has struggled badly in games against Leicester and Liverpool, with the manager openly saying that he has lost some confidence. The last time he mentioned such words about an Arsenal player following a bad performance, that was it with his Arsenal career, and he’s currently on a treatment table at Birmingham. I really don’t know what happened between Calum Chambers and the manager but I was actually hopeful he would build on his good campaign with Middlesbrough despite their relegation.

With Oxlade-Chamberlain out of the equation, the manager has to determine the right wing back that would play tonight, as Hector Bellerin deserves a breather. Reiss Nelson would have been a nice option, but I’d prefer him in a more advanced position, which could mean a player like Ainsley Maitland-Niles could get a run out there. On the left, Sead Kolasinac would want to get a run out against a Bundesliga side due to his close ties to German football.

I’d expect some changes in midfield as well with our first choice central midfield pairing, Granit Xhaka and Aaron Ramsey, getting some deserved rest, as they would be required to work overtime against Chelsea’s industrious midfielders. This should give room for the likes of Mohamed Elneny and more interestingly, Jack Wilshere, to feature for the first team. Like Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil, Wilshere is one of those players with months left in his contract, and this would be an interesting season for him.

Finally, we are bound to see Olivier Giroud spearhead the attack tonight. It was always going to be a struggle for the Frenchman following the arrival of his compatriot, Alexandre Lacazette, from Lyon. The newbie has been adapting to life in North London, and his two goals so far would keep the monkeys off his back, even though we expect more.

FC Cologne are struggling in the Bundesliga but Arsenal should not allow complacency creep into their game tonight. I’m also hoping the new lads featuring tonight will not have disjointed performances. It’s a new adventure in the Europa League and I hope the lads are up to it.


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Welbeck Shines as Gunners Return to Winning Ways

Arsenal 3-0 Bournemouth

Match ReportMatch HighlightsPost-Match Press Conference

The two week break after the international window was very long and we couldn’t wait for the game to right all the wrongs of the last two defeats. The performances against Stoke and Liverpool were shameful to say the least and with the transfer window closed, it was time to focus on the football.

The biggest decision from a selection perspective was the manager’s decision to select Danny Welbeck ahead of Alexis Sanchez, with Alexandre Lacazette, but it was refreshing seeing Sead Kolasinac and Hector Bellerin playing in their preferred positions. In the wake of all that had happened in recent weeks, an early goal was required to settle the nerves and Arsenal got it when Kolasinac connected well with Aaron Ramsey on the left flank before lofting a cross that was guided into the net by Welbeck. I’d say ‘guided’ because Welbeck attempted to use his head but the ball somehow found its way to his shoulders before creeping into the net.

Even though the match opener was somewhat messy, the second goal of the game was a brilliant show of technique as Arsenal’s record signing, Lacazette, latched onto Welbeck’s pass before curling the ball past Asmir Begovic. The Gunners put the game beyond doubt early in the second half when Lacazette won the ball further up the pitch and Ramsey bore down on goal before teeing up Welbeck. As always, the Englishman couldn’t keep his feet on the ground but his finish was emphatic to say the least.

Bournemouth didn’t offer any real threat bar the Jermaine Defoe header that clipped the post with his follow through going wide. There was also a looped header that was tipped over the bar by Petr Cech.

Getting back to winning ways was a huge positive ahead of the next league clash against Chelsea which will be a test of these guys character. The only dark cloud was the hamstring injury suffered by Francis Coquelin, that was certainly one of the players that would have played against FC Cologne on Thursday.

The good times are back and only positive results on the pitch will go a long way to appease the fans.


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Dick Law Set to Leave: Arsenal Should Find Someone Better, a DoF Perhaps

Many Arsenal fans are familiar with Dick Law, the club’s lead transfer negotiator, but he had other responsibilities. He was given the opportunity to speak at the Somos Football Event on football management, where he offered more clarity on his role at Arsenal,

“If we come down to the manager, his responsibility is operating every area in football. The logistics report to him, first-team coaches, strength and conditioning, medical team and psychology [departments] all report to the manager.”

“The area that I manage is called football operations. My job is to help the CEO and manager, in conjunction with the contract team, with squad planning, contract negotiations, negotiations with agents, player transfers, either in or out of the club, and coordination with the Arsenal academy.”

“I work very closely with our chief financial officer, our general counsel (the lawyer for the club) and our club secretary in the contract team. Our biggest challenge is to make sure that all the contracts are done right and we follow all the rules set by the FA and FIFA.”

The Telegraph has reported that Dick Law is set to leave the club at the end of the month, after many years of service to Arsenal. It’s rumored that he’s leaving for ‘personal reasons’ and would be traveling to the United States of America. With club CEO, Ivan Gazidis, getting himself an office in the club’s London Colney training ground, it can be assumed that he wants to stay closer to the club, running its day to day dealings, unlike the club’s majority shareholder, Stan Kroenke, that probably drinking a beer in some ranch in the United States.

Arsenal has recently employed Huss Fahmy, a former Team Sky legal advisor and commercial expert, but his primary focus has been to negotiate player contracts, which hasn’t panned out to well I guess. He, Wenger and the Arsenal hierarchy clearly had no plans to renew the deals of Yaya Sanogo, Kieran Gibbs and Wojciech Szczesny, and they departed for pastures anew. He offered Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain a humogous salary believed to be around £180,000 per week, but the Englishman opted not to sign the deal and left for Liverpool. Word on the street is that he’s currently earning around £120,000. Then of course, there is the ongoing protracted saga of Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil. You can add Jack Wilshere somewhere in that mix. Do your job, Fahmy!

Some bookies are tipping Fahmy to take up the role that would be vacated by Law at the end of the month, but you’d be hoping they can win every bet been placed. With the new Premier League transfer rules of the window closing before the first game week taking shape next season, Arsenal will have to find someone that can conduct good business early and tactically, bearing in mind we could lose the likes of Sanchez and Ozil on a Bosman (Do your freaking job Fahmy!).

Law will be fondly remembered for being the guy that negotiated with the La Liga giants, Real Madrid and Barcelona, for the acquisitions of Ozil and Sanchez respectively, and it has been an absolute pleasure watching both players don the famous Red and White, even it seems like their watch is ending this season. Yes, they have had their frustrating moments in the club but it would be a big task replacing two players that have given the club a combined amount of 104 goals in 309 appearances. Law also brought Alexandre Lacazette to the team this summer after intense negotiations with Jean-Michel Aulas and his Olympique Lyonnais hordes.

While we can laud Law and the transfer negotiation team for selling a want-away player with a year left on his contract for £40 million (and one pound probably) to Liverpool, the fans feel the club could have done better for the sales of Gibbs (£7m), Szczesny (£11m) and even Gabriel Paulista (£10m). I also felt the club did poorly in handling the transfer of Lucas Perez to Deportivo on loan.

His departure would have a hole in the club and I hope plans are ongoing to get a replacement as soon as possible. His exit would be hugely felt by Arsene Wenger, who was a close companion to Law. They worked in very close quarters with Wenger and Law reaching agreements on pretty much everything before Law takes the Wenger gospel to the team we want to negotiate with. There were some that worked out fine, others, well, meh.

I’m in the opinion that Law’s exit should pave the way for a Director of Football. Someone that will conduct transfer business without asking Wenger all the intricacies involved in negotiating for the player. I want someone that would hear “Sch-” from Wenger then go on to buy Schweinsteiger, Schneiderlin and even Scherzinger Nicole for good measure!

I know Wenger doesn’t fancy the idea of a DoF but it’s something Arsenal really needs. We can’t continue working with the same old methods that are in dire need of change. Over to you, Gazidis.

Thanks for your years of service Dick. Wishing you the very best in your future endeavors.

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