Category Archives: Arsenal

Kurzawa: A Good Short and Long Term Option at Left Back

Kurzawa with the ball

Kurzawa joined Paris St. Germain for €23 million on a five-year contract in 2015 after his spell in his first ever club, AS Monaco. He broke into the Monaco setup when he was 18-years-old and suffered the ignominy of relegation at the end of the 2010/11 campaign, but stayed with the club in the French Ligue 2 for two seasons before the South Coast club returned to the Premier division in 2013.

Kurzawa caught the eye in the 2013/14 season with his attacking displays as well as goals from the left back position, which earned him a call up to the French national team. In his time at Paris St. Germain, Kurzawa struggled to nail a first team berth, first by being a backup to the more experienced Maxwell, before playing second fiddle to Maxwell’s long term replacement, Juan Bernat.

With his contract expiring at the end of the season, and no potential for a new deal in sight, Kurzawa remained hopeful of sealing a move out of the club and it seems he would get his desires as Arsenal has shown interest in his services with a loan deal that will see the Gunners pay his wages before snapping him up for free in the summer.

Arsenal are favorites to seal the deal for the French defender in July, but injuries to Kieran Tierney, and more recently, Sead Kolasinac, has made Arsenal fast track their plans to get the defender this month. As it stands, Mikel Arteta has only Bukayo Saka as his first team option in left back,

“We are playing with full-backs that are not full-backs. They are wingers or central midfielders and could we afford to lose full-backs? No, but we don’t have any full-backs.”

On the right flank, Hector Bellerin is unavailable for selection due to his consistent injury problems, and with Stephan Lichtsteiner gone with his pension funds, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, a midfielder by trade, does that job as an auxiliary right back. Sokratis Papastathopoulos featured as a right back against Leeds in the FA Cup third round, but he is not a long term option. Brazilian teenage sensation, Yan Couto, is a long term option at right back but word on the street is that Barcelona is interested in signing the lad as well.

If Kurzawa joins the club in January, he will slot straight into the first team with Tierney’s long term injury layoff and Kolasinac’s penchant for picking up niggles here and there. Kurzawa is a full fledged French international with 12 caps to his name and at 27, he is a very experienced option for Arteta to choose.

I also would not mind the fact that he poses a goal threat, which will come in handy, as the Gunners are over reliant on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for their goals.

Sayonara

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Kolasinac Injured, Nketiah Stays and Au-ban Upheld

Kolasinac injury

Sead Kolasinac has had his fair share of injuries since he joined the club, and this disrupted his chances of nailing a first team berth in the league. He had a consistent run out at the start of this season following Kieran Tierney injury problems and the club’s decision to offload Mr. Consistency himself, Nacho Monreal to Real Sociedad. 

Kolasinac managed to feature in 14 Premier League games, creating two assists for his teammates, but with Tierney suffering yet another injury that sidelined him till March, Kolasinac expected to continue his good run of games in the side, supporting his team from the left flank. However, the Bosnian is set to miss this weekend’s game against Sheffield United due to a thigh strain,

With the crucial clash against Chelsea coming just two days after the Sheffield game, we would not expect Kolasinac to start that game. His injury will give a chance for Bukayo Saka to feature as a make-shift full back, a position the youngster is not too comfortable with. 

Speaking of youngsters, Eddie Nketiah expected to make a loan move to Bristol City, after we wondered what the future held for him. His manager, Mikel Arteta, got a glimpse of him in recent training sessions and concluded that he will stay at the club for the rest of the season, rather than a loan spell for more match experience.

There are mixed feelings on the club’s decision to keep Nketiah for the remainder of the campaign. On one end, it was essential to give a talented youngster some much needed game time, as he did not play as much as expected in Leeds United, before the loan spell was recalled. On the other hand, Aubameyang’s suspension and Alexandre Lacazette’s poor form must have forced the manager’s hand to keep Nketiah.

The Gunners were hopeful that Aubameyang’s ban would be reduced, but the FA confirmed that he will serve his three-match suspension. This is a major setback to the club as the Gunners will have to cope without their talisman for the next three games. 

Sayonara

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Aubameyang: Can Arsenal Cope Without His Goals?

 

Aubameyang red card

Aubameyang getting sent off at Selhurst Park

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang received his marching orders in the 1-1 draw against Crystal Palace and this has brought some despair to the Arsenal faithful, as the Gunners depend on their talisman for his goal scoring feats. 

For those that might care to ask: how dependent is Arsenal on Aubameyang?

His WhoScored.com statistics show that he scored 16 goals from 26 appearances this season. The table below gives a more detailed outlook of the importance of his 16 goals so far this season.

GOAL # OPPONENT (SCORELINE) AFTER HIS GOAL FINAL SCORES IMPACT POINTS GAINED
1 Newcastle (EPL) 0 – (1) 0 – 1 Match winner 3
2 Burnley (EPL) (2) – 1 2 – 1 Match winner 3
3 Tottenham (EPL) (2) – 2 2 – 2 Equalizer to salvage draw 1
4, 5 Watford (EPL) 0 – (1), 0 – (2) 2 – 2 Goals enough to win game, poor defending turned it into a draw 1
6 Eintracht Frankfurt (Europa) 0 – (3) 0 – 3 Consolation goal 3
7 Aston Villa (EPL) (3) – 2 3 – 2 Match winner 3
8 Manchester United (EPL) 1 – (1) 1 – 1 Equalizer to salvage draw 1
9 Wolves (EPL) (1) – 0 1 – 1 Goals enough to win game, poor defending turned it into a draw 1
10 Eintracht Frankfurt (Europa) (1) – 0 1 – 2 Goals enough to win game, poor defending turned it into a loss 0
11, 12 Norwich (EPL) 1 – (1), 2 – (2) 2 – 2 Equalizer to salvage draw 1
13 West Ham (EPL) 1 – (3) 1 – 3 Consolation goal 3
14 Bournemouth (EPL) 1 – (1) 1 – 1 Equalizer to salvage draw 1
15 Chelsea (EPL) (1) – 0 1 – 2 Goals enough to win game, poor defending turned it into a loss 0
16 Crystal Palace (EPL) (1) – 0 1 – 1 Goals enough to win game, poor defending turned it into a draw 1

These are mind blowing stats especially when you consider that Arsenal has had 28 points from 22 league games this season, but Aubameyang has been directly involved in 19 points.

Behind him is the exciting Gabriel Martinelli with eight goals, disappointing Alexandre Lacazette with six, underwhelming club-record signing, Nicolas Pepe, with five and fledgling Joe Willock with four. Five players (David Luiz, Reiss Nelson, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Bukayo Saka and Lucas Torreira) have two goals, while another five players (Dani Ceballos, Calum Chambers, Rob Holding, Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Shkodran Mustafi) have one. 

I decided to use this opportunity to dig through seasons past, so as to understand the concept of Arsenal’s goal scorers in previous campaigns

SEASON TOP THREE SCORERS
2011/12 Robin van Persie (37), Theo Walcott (11), Mikel Arteta, Yossi Benayoun, Thomas Vermaelen (6)
2012/13 Theo Walcott (21), Olivier Giroud (17), Lukas Podolski (16)
2013/14 Olivier Giroud (22), Aaron Ramsey (16), Lukas Podolski (12)
2014/15 Alexis Sanchez (25), Olivier Giroud (19), Aaron Ramsey (10)
2015/16 Olivier Giroud (24), Alexis Sanchez (17), Theo Walcott (9)
2016/17 Alexis Sanchez (30), Theo Walcott (19), Olivier Giroud (16)
2017/18 Alexandre Lacazette (17), Aaron Ramsey (11) Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Danny Welbeck (10)
2018/19 Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (31), Alexandre Lacazette (19), Alex Iwobi, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Mesut Ozil, Aaron Ramsey (6)

Like seasons past, there would always be that one alpha dog in Arsenal’s attack blasting in all the goals, but he must always get adequate support from his teammates. 

The manager has called on the rest of the squad to step up the plate with Aubameyang unavailable for the next three games,

“Losing probably the most important player is never nice. We have other players that can play in that position. We will try to find a way and be as competitive as possible.

They now have to make a step forward now he is not able to contribute to the team with goals. Someone else has to do it and I want to see that reaction too.”

Some may feel that I am harsh with my descriptions of Lacazette and Pepe, but like many Arsenal fans, I expected a whole lot more from them this season. Lacazette came off a 19-goal campaign last season and the fans wanted him to replicate that form, especially with him missing out on the World Cup last summer but he had an ankle injury that ruled him out for the early parts of the season. Nicolas Pepe on the other hand, has been adapting to the new league, but the patience of the fans is running thin, even though we remain hopeful that his form improves.

Gabriel Martinelli has scored more goals than Pepe and Lacazette despite featuring in a lesser amount of games, so I am excited to see what he has in store for us in the next three games. From the games he has featured, you can see his hunger, zeal and drive to make something happen any time he gets the ball at his feet. 

I am also hopeful that we get a couple of goals from midfield, even though the current lot in the starting XI haven’t shown any encouraging attacking returns all season long. Mesut Ozil is not a regular goalscorer but at least he chips in a few from time to time. He will certainly want to improve in 2020, as he had a record low for both goal and assists last year. Granit Xhaka on the other hand, blasts in those surface-to-goal piledrivers but he has not drifted forward too much in the campaign. 

The reality of the situation is that Arsenal will be without Aubameyang for the games against Sheffield United, Chelsea and Bournemouth. The Gunners hierarchy are appealing for a reduced ban, but we can’t rely on the FA to give them what they are hoping for.

Let’s just hope the players have what it takes to make up for his absence through suspension.

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