Daily Archives: October 3, 2022
In my North London Derby match report, I was hoping that the September Manager of the Month, Erik Ten Hag, would go to the Etihad Stadium and put up a show for the neutrals. What we got instead was absolute domination from Manchester City, with a certain Erling Haaland taking the spotlight for breaking yet another record in the Premier League – three consecutive Haa-ttricks on his home turf – a feat achieved in just eight games. There is no argument that the Norwegian forward with the blood of the All-Father, Odin, running down his veins, is a freaking goal machine!
Speaking of goals, Arsenal’s young forward, Folarin Balogun, has been banging them in at Stade de Reims, the French outfit he was loaned to this season. Balogun made his debut as a subsitute for Reims in the 4-1 drubbing they received from the Arsenal extension, Olympique Marseille. Our boy, Nuno Tavares, also netted on his debut for the French juggernauts. Balogun followed up his impressive start with a goal the very next week in the 2-4 home defeat against Clermont Foot. The scoring streak continued with his third goal for Reims against Strasbourg. The goal had a huge significance as it was the equalizer for Reims, as well as their first points of the campaign.
Balogun had his first blank in the impressive 1-1 draw against Lyon, playing for an hour before he was subbed off. However, he resumed his scoring run in the fifth game of the campaign against Angers SCO, coming off the bench to score a goal (Reims’ third), as well as supply an assist for his teammate, Alexis Flips, to make it 4-2. That was Reims first win of the campaign and the Arsenal youngster played a role in making it happen. He returned to the starting lineup for the next two games against Toulouse and Monaco (both losses), and yesterday, he scored his sixth goal of the season in the 2-2 draw with Troyes.
With just one win, four draws and four losses in the first nine matches of the Ligue Un season, Stade de Reims is currently languishing in the relegation zone on 16th, but Arsenal’s loanee, Flo Balogun, is having an exemplary campaign with six goals in nine appearances for the club.
The youngster had spoken about the decision to send him out on loan,
“Before I moved, the gaffer (Arteta) just wanted me to develop as a man. It was kind of like an open answer and it was for me to interpret what he meant by ‘develop as a man’.
By moving abroad, I’m starting to learn what he meant by that. It doesn’t just mean on the pitch but also off the pitch. I think by the time I go back I’ll be in a better place to compete than I was before I left.”
With only Gabriel Jesus and Eddie Nketiah recognized as the center forwards at the club, Flo Balogun, would have explored the option of sticking around, featuring regularly for the Reserve teams and get the occasional run outs in the Europa League or domestic cup competitions, but Arsenal had bigger plans for him, approving a move to the French Ligue Un, which served as an excellent brooding ground for a certain William Saliba. Despite his tender age, the experiences Saliba garnered in his St. Etienne and more importantly, Olympique Marseille days, have played a massive role in the player we are seeing today. For someone we had never experienced at the club for three seasons since his big money arrival as an 18-year-old, Saliba is playing at a monstrous level and has been downright exceptional in his early season performances with the club. I read somewhere that he has won possession (71 times) more than any defender in the Premier League this season and in the North London Derby, he won the time a massive 11 times.
Being exposed to consistent football, over 50 games for Marseille, boded well for Saliba and he’s odds on to be on a jet to Qatar this November with the Les Bleus. Flo Balogun on the other hand is on a very good trajectory but I would say that we need to tread with caution for the young lad. Saliba had three full seasons of consecutive football with two French clubs that molded him into the excellent defender he is turning out to be. Balogun, on the other hand, had a rather indifferent loan spell with Middlesbrough where he started nine games and made nine substitute appearances, scoring just three goals.
I’m in the opinion that he remains at Stade de Reims for at least another season, where he will continue to build his confidence as a striker, and his six goals in nine games for the French minnows shows that the talent is obviously there to be harnessed and Arsenal will be the long term beneficiaries.
The goals keep coming for the Flo, and we are loving it!
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