Monthly Archives: June 2018
Thoughts on Arsenal’s Link with Ever Banega
Of course it’s all about the World Cup and the VAR decisions dominating the back page’s but it doesn’t mean that things can’t be happening in the background here at Arsenal.
Stephan Lichtsteiner and Bernd Leno are in the bag with Sokratis Papathathopoulos and Lucas Torreira’s arrivals imminent but the rumors dominating the blogosphere are about Arsenal interested in signing Arsenal midfield maestro, Ever Banega, from Seville.
Our boss has worked with Banega in the past as he was part of that Europa League triumphant team, but he played on loan at Internazionale last season, doing quite well. His performances earned him a World Cup place and he came off the bench in the recent draw between Argentina and debutantes, Iceland. Like Torreira, I intend to keep a keen eye on Banega to get a glimpse of what he really has to offer.
So from a quality perspective, Banega is a fine option for us. Great with dead balls, beautiful distribution and be dictates tempo. Somewhat Xhaka-esque in his style of play, if you take away the clumsiness and bad discipline of course. He’s also good from a quantity perspective, as he will add depth to the squad, with Jack Wilshere leaving the club this summer. With Wilshere gone, Arsenal will have Aaron Ramsey, Granit Xhaka, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Mohamed Elneny and potentially Lucas Torreira in central midfield. Given the team’s injury record and the vast amount of games to be played, having an addition in Banega will be welcome. Then there’s the competition factor, with these players fighting for positions in the squad.
These are just rumors so I’d take them with a pinch of salt, but I certainly wouldn’t mind me some Ever Banega in my new look Arsenal team.
Leno In, Wilshere Out and World Cup Roundup
I must really apologize for my lack of consistency in recent times. Work has been overwhelming as always and there’s no one to hold the fort, but hey, I’d live.
Gooner Daily has been with me for the last eight years and it’s been great serving you with fresh content concerning the greatest club in the world. Enough about me, and my boring stories of not blogging regularly as well as subtly looking for available sport writers to assist a Gooner.
It’s been a great World Cup for a neutral like me but it was pretty sad to see how my Nigeria failed to come to the party against Croatia. However, that’s not going to stop me from enjoying the spectacle while playing some fantasy football while I’m at it.
VAR has taken center stage and I have been impressed with the way it has been handled so far. Referees are not ashamed to seek the opinion of their VARs and I also love how they go to watch the clips which aids in better decision making. However, there have been loads of penalties so far and I think we have reached double figures on that stat.
I feel sad for Mohamed Elneny and of course, everyone’s sweetheart, Mo Salah, as their loss to the hosts last night ended their dreams of qualification to the next round. All they have will be a dead rubber match against fellow Arabs, Saudi Arabia, in a game where pride will be at stake. At least, Elneny will get an extended break when he returns to England with his shiny #4 jersey.
Moving over to things Arsenally in nature, it has become evident that we will no longer have Jack Wilshere with us after he confirmed that he will be leaving the club when his contract expires at the end of the month. I really loved how he was mature about the whole thing and he made it clear that it was after his discussions with the new manager that he made his decision to leave the club for pastures anew.
I have some very fond Wilshere memories, from when he broke out in 2010/11, winning the Young Player of the Year award to that amazing goal against Norwich in the 2013/14 season. The injuries were well publicized but Wilshere was and will always be a Gunner through and through. A player of his talent will surely have several offers and I’m sure he will make the best decision for himself and his family.
Good bye Jack and thanks for the memories.
Moving on from sad memories to happier ones, the club announced the arrival of Bernd Leno from Bayer Leverkusen. Arsenal needed massive improvement in the goalkeeping department and I’ve very delighted that Unai Emery identified this gap with the Arsenal hierarchy and closed it.
For all Petr Cech has done since his arrival from Chelsea, he showed his frailties last season and we suffered terribly from his shortcomings as well as the entire defense, but he’s reaching the twilight of his career and it’s time for a younger and energetic goalie to take his place.
Leno’s arrival will clearly mean that it’s the end of the road for David Ospina but the stories surfacing that Napoli want Cech, the Colombian shot stopper might still hang around for a bit. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s linked to another move to Turkey, as he has been in the past three seasons or so.
I’m bracing myself for another round of World Cup games and I hope to enjoy them.
Stephan Lichtsteiner: Experience, Leadership, Reliable Alternative
The first signing under the Unai Emery era has arrived at the club and it comes with some mixed feelings. However, I think it’s a very astute signing in a position that has been in dire need of quantity, as well as quality. Let’s go back to the Bacary Sagna days when the Frenchman was so consistent, dependable and most importantly, extremely fit to the point we didn’t even think he needed a replacement. Well, Emmanuel Eboue was available for selection but Sagna’s form ensured that he played week in, week out.
Then Sagna and his beautiful Ludivine moved the petro-greens of Manchester City and a void was created on the right back position but Arsene Wenger replaced Sagna with his compatriot, Mathieu Debuchy, who put up consistent performances then suffered a dislocated shoulder following a rash challenge from the Poor Man’s Zlatan, Marko Arnautovic. Debuchy’s despair unlocked the door for Hector Bellerin and he made his breakthrough, making things difficult for the elder Frenchman on his return from injury. Debuchy played second fiddle for so long till the point he couldn’t take it anymore, and he moved out of the club on loan twice, before sealing a permanent move to St. Etienne.
Meanwhile, Bellerin has failed to find some consistency in his game and with Carl Jenkinson out at Birmingham and probably without an Arsenal future, the club needed to invest in a new right back, and in Stephan Lichtsteiner we have signed a very capable alternative to Bellerin – a player with so much bags of experience, winning seven Serie A titles on the trot with Juventus. I’m pretty sure there would be great odds at Novibet for the forthcoming season.
In Lichtsteiner, we have a leader that can make himself heard on and off the pitch, as Arsenal is one of those teams that require leadership on several fronts. He can also provide some tutelage to Bellerin, a youngster with so much potential, and the competition they would have would be vital to the team. Lichtsteiner will also take some workload off Bellerin as I’d expect him to play the Europa League and Carabao Cup games while Bellerin focuses on the Premier League. He wasted no time in stating his ambitions for the club this season,
“There is a project to come back into the Champions League. I think it’s hard to see a club like Arsenal not playing in the Champions League. If you see the players, if you see the club, the stadium – it’s the project, the big opportunity to get back to the highest level.
I hope I can bring a lot of that mentality. I hope I can bring a lot of experience, a lot of mentality and together, with my team, come back to the highest level of the Champions League.
The important thing is what you do on the pitch, that you are an example for the young players, for the old players, that everybody knows that this guy will help us. Like me also, I need to know that everybody helps me. This is the team spirit that we need to have, to have the confidence to give each other to help us.”
You can see that he already knows what’s expected of him and he’s ready to give himself a fresh challenge after so many years at Italy. At 34, he comes on a free transfer and a one year deal, which means the club reserves the right to pull the plug on him if it doesn’t work out, but there are no substitutes for experience and I’m really looking forward to seeing what the new Swiss right back has to offer.
Follow Gooner Daily on Twitter @goonerdaily. I’ll follow back
Visit Gooner Daily’s Facebook page.
Click on the “Follow button” to join Gooner Daily’s Mailing List