Category Archives: Champions League

The Red Hot Gnabry and the Not So Hot Chili Pepe

Image result for serge gnabry

Wingers. One of the most essential positions in modern day football, giving we the fans the viewing pleasure of seeing them make those mazy runs, breathtaking dribbles and of course, well taken goals.

When Arsenal signed Nicolas Pepe for the club record 72 million pounds, many of us didn’t know much about him but the internet offers such a vast array of knowledge that enables us to do our own research to satisfy those curiosities and boy, was I satisfied! 23 goals and 12 assists for those statisticians, then there were the videos of his overall play and insane dribbling skills. I have to admit that I didn’t really get a good glimpse of him for Ivory Coast in the African Cup of Nations, but I was still optimistic that he was going to be an awesome signing for us as he offered something that we lacked from an attacking perspective, and of course, the prospect of seeing him play alongside our deadly duo of Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was mouth watering to say the least.

Seven games into the new Premier League campaign, and there are some mixed feelings about Pepe’s performances for the team. It’s not like he has been a terrible signing per se, but like Spiderman’s Uncle Ben famously said, “with great power comes great responsibility”. Putting it in this context, we signed Pepe for 72m and we expect 72m kinda returns from him. Using Arsenal’s alpha dog in attack, Aubameyang, as a case study, we signed him for 54m in January 2018. Since then he has scored 49 goals in 73 games (39 in the Premier League – joint most of any player in the division in that period with Mohamed Salah (39) and Sergio Aguero (33) coming close. Aubameyang has also had 11 assists in addition to his 49 Arsenal goals, which is 60 goal contributions in the 73 games, which totals 5728 minutes and if you convert it further, it’s one goal contribution every 95 minutes. This clearly indicates that you’d expect Aubameyang to score or assist in pretty much every game he plays, a stat that he has amazingly achieved in the Premier League this season.

Image result for aubameyang pepe

In Pepe’s seven Premier League games so far, he has scored only one goal from a spot kick (gifted to him by the lovable Aubameyang) and he has created one assist as well. He has averaged three shots per game, with 1.4 outside the box and 1.3 in the penalty area, 1.6 key passes with a pass completion percentage of 79%, 3.3 successful dribbles (including one on Virgil van Dijk that has turned out to be a big deal in some parts of the world). The player himself is aware of his current situation and voiced his thoughts,

“It has not been easy, I must tell the truth. My stats have not been good enough or my usual performances, it is not the same as Lille or the Liverpool game earlier in the season.

My confidence must come back. I am not very worried. People may be worried about my statistics but I am not. I have to keep working as the level here is different, so is the language. It is a new league for me and I must adapt quickly. But it won’t take very long.”

I’d say it’s not time to bring out the torches and pitchforks because the potential is out there for everyone to see. Pepe has been offered us that fear factor in attack and he does his bit to be creative for others. Yes, he had a stinker at Old Trafford only to be replaced by Reiss Nelson that wasn’t any better to be honest but I’m confident that he would be a massive success at Arsenal.

At least, he will be given a chance to show his worth at Arsenal, unlike a certain Serge Gnabry that is lighting fireworks in Bayern Munich. I remember when he earned his Arsenal breakthrough in the 2013/14 season in that win against Swansea at the Liberty Stadium. It seemed like the star was going to be his limit but that gruesome knee injury happened and a certain Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was in very good form. Following his rehabilitation and return from injury, he found things difficult in North London and things went from bad to worse when he was loaned to West Brom and Tony Pulis declared that he wasn’t good enough to play Premier League football.

So the club opted not to renew his deal and shipped him off to Werder Bremen for a measly 5m quid, but the lad found a new lease of life after shining at the Olympics and ended up with 11 goals in 27 apps for the Bremen based outfit. Bayern Munich came calling and as you’d expect from any young German, the answer was certainly yes, but they shipped up off to Hoffenheim after snapping him up from Bremen and he acquainted himself well, scoring 10 goals in 26 games for the club. With legends like Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery gone, as well as the failed pursuit of Leroy Sane, Gnabry was given a chance to stake a claim for the Bayern jersey and he has been impressive for the German giants, scoring 13 goals in his debut campaign for them. When you consider that he’s a young winger with potential, these are good numbers.

Fast forward to last night, Gnabry was on fire in North London, helping his team utterly destroy Tottenham in a 7-2 bashing, where he smashed in four amazing goals. It was highlight reel stuff, leaving defenders to eat his dust while he made mince meat of Hugo Lloris in goal. A good night for the humiliation of Spurs became even better when he went to his social media and stated that North London is Red. You can’t help but love it when ex-Gunners do such stuff.

Well, all focus would move to playing Standard Liege on Thursday and I’d drop my thoughts on that as we draw closer.

Sayonara.

Follow Gooner Daily on Twitter  @goonerdaily.

Visit Gooner Daily’s  Facebook page.

Click on the “Follow button” to join Gooner Daily’s Mailing List

 

That Was an Amazing Comeback, but it Makes You Wonder…

For some reason I failed to rant like crazy following the capitulation at Brighton and thankfully, I’m happy I didn’t because it would probably had been a venomous affair, but with Arsenal frustrating me and other supporters out there, we turned into neutrals to watch the semifinal match between Liverpool and Barcelona. It was certainly an insurmountable task coming back from three goals down, and the fact that they were without Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino made things more difficult.

I’m certainly not going to give the commentary about the game here but after 90 minutes, they achieved the impossible, winning with four unreplied goals, which made me think – would my beloved Arsenal win Barcelona after conceding three goals away?

Sometimes, you gotta tell yourself the truth – Arsenal has devolved to a Europa League outfit at best. I remember when we were so spoiled into believing that finishing in the top four was our birthright but in the past two seasons, things have gotten really bad to the stage where it looked like Thanos snapped his fingers and our top four ambitions faded into space. It’s not like we are asking for too much as fans – just play well enough, as it should give you that edge when playing against perceived weaker opposition. But with Arsenal, it’s the opposite – if we are not wasting chances, we are gifting the opposition the ball to hurt us, or conceding needless penalties or just playing so badly.

Even with the likes of lethal forwards like Alex Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in our ranks, the Gunners continue to struggle to kill off games, or convert clear cut chances. I don’t wanna talk about what’s going on that the back – yes, Brend Leno has been an inspiration since he took over from Petr Cech but he has had his shaky moments which can only help him to improve in the future, but when you have a certain Skhodran Mustafi making calamitous errors with such consistency at the back, it makes you wonder whether Unai Emery doesn’t see these things as well.

I remember when Jurgen Klopp went to the final last season and his goalie from former club, Mainz, had such a shocker, allowing Real Madrid to waltz into their three Champions League in a row, he wasted no time in signing Alisson Becker from Roma, and he, alongside the imperial Virgil van Dijk of course, have contributed massively to Liverpool’s defense. Meanwhile, we continue to struggle with whoever Emery decides to field in his back line. Imagine a player as important as Laurent Koscielny watching as Kasper Schmeichel lofts a punted effort from his box straight to Jamie Vardy, or Stephan Lichtsteiner heading the ball to Jurgen Locadia when a throw in would have been a better option.

The season is over but the Europa League still offers a silver lining ending so we can only wait and hope that the lads don’t mess things up at Mestalla tomorrow.

Sayonara

Follow Gooner Daily on Twitter  @goonerdaily.

Visit Gooner Daily’s  Facebook page.

Click on the “Follow button” to join Gooner Daily’s Mailing List

Well, That was Some Comeback From FC Barcelona

With Arsenal eliminated from the Champions League, it was only normal for a football enthusiast like me to take some sorta pleasure watching the other matches in the competition with some keen focus on the Barcelona vs PSG game. Luis Enrique put up a very attacking lineup with the aim of scoring as much goals as possible. he even ‘joked’ in his presser that if PSG could score four goals, his lads are capable of scoring six goals.

The game began with a rather frantic pace and with just two minutes gone, Luis Suarez showed great anticipation to nick in a loose ball past Kevin Trapp across the goal line and even though Meunier managed to clear it off, goal line technology took center stage as the goal was awarded to the Catalans. That certainly rattled PSG but the home side had some much more in store for them. The Parisiens did their bit to defend in numbers but the home side got an all-important second goal before half time when Layvin Kurzawa deflected Andres Iniesta’s flick into his goal.

At half time, PSG’s lead was halved and panic started setting in but their misery was compounded when Muenier slipped on the turf and impeded a clever Neymar. Lionel Messi had not influenced the game as much as he would have liked but he had a chance to put his team three up from the spot and he did with aplomb despite Trapp’s best efforts to dive the right way.

With Barcelona leading 3-0, it was looking like fairytale stuff as no team in the competition’s history had overturned a four goal deficit. As fate would have it, Kurzawa attacked the ball and threaded it to Edinson Cavani’s path. The Uruguayan hot shot blasted in his 38th goal of the season with a clinical finish using the edge of his boot. This goal set Barcelona to despair as they now needed a whooping six goals to qualify.

They kept on trying and with just three minutes left to play, Neymar swung in a beautiful free kick that beat Trapp hands down. They still needed two goals and with literally no time left on the clock, a moment of controversy arrived as Suarez was adjudged to be fouled in the box by Marquinhos. That was one of those decisions that tend to happen at the Nou Camp every season, so I wasn’t surprised. However, it still required some nerve to dispatch the spot kick and Neymar was the man.

5-1 was still good enough for PSG. I would have expected Unai Emery to add a defender or two to the mix to hold the fort but when Angel di Maria bore down on goal and was fouled by Javier Mascherano, I expected the referee to at least show some measure of consistency by awarding the away side a penalty but he waved off the protests.

At the last kick of the game, Sergi Roberto scored the goal that sent the Nou Camp to raptures. As expected, the folks at the commentary box went bonkers as they would never have anticipated that such a thing would happen in the beautiful. You’d have to feel really sad for PSG – winning a team like Barcelona 4-0 in the first leg and not still qualifying is heart breaking to say the least. They would now shift their focus to the Ligue 1, as it has become a two-horse race with rivals, AS Monaco.

Kudos to Barcelona for an amazing show of class, effort and of course, clinical ability in front of goal.

That was some comeback.

Sayonara.

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