Category Archives: Fanzone

Thoughts on William Saliba and his Arsenal Future

William Saliba was voted the Ligue 1 Young Player of the Year last season

After another stellar campaign that saw him rightfully earn the Young Player of the Year award for his stint with Marseille in Ligue Un, William Saliba had a major decision to make concerning his future, especially after breaking in to the France squad, with a World Cup in Qatar around the corner. With two years left on his contract, he could easily had agitated to remain in France, like the Hector Bellerin’s situation at Real Betis, where he would have continued to feature regularly for Olympique Marseille (made 52 apps last season) and strengthened his chance of sealing his place in the national team. Instead, William Saliba has pledged his future to Arsenal,

‘I belong to Arsenal, I still have two years left.

‘I will be back with Arsenal. I have played zero matches and I still want to show them my true face and have the chance to play for these fans and this great club.

‘But it doesn’t just depend on me. In any case, to leave like this, would be a shame.’

At Arsenal, the center back position has been light, with only Gabriel and Ben White forming a fledgling partnership with Rob Holding providing some cover. This is a far cry from how overloaded the center back position used to be with the likes of Calum Chambers, Skhodran Mustafi, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Pablo Mari, Rob Holding, Dinos Mavropanos and Rob Holding all in the club when Mikel Arteta arrived. It has been quite a clear out.

Saliba comes into the team next season with just three players to contend with – White, Gabriel and Holding – players that have had their own phases of inconsistency in the recently concluded campaign. Yes, Gabriel stands out with the amount of goals he scored, as well as some strong performances but he also had games were he was badly exposed and had a rush of blood to the head. Case in point – Man City (home), Crystal Palace (away). Man United (home), just to mention a few. White also forged a good partnership with Gabriel in his debut campaign, and had his fair share of errors as well. Holding, would pretty much be a squad player at best, always coming to the pitch to protect a lead, but Arsenal fans wouldn’t be quick to forget his rashness in the North London Derby (away).

Mikel Arteta is a manager that rewards players that perform up to the required standards, and a player like Saliba can see himself playing consistently if he proves he can do the job better than the current center backs in the club. Hell, he was a nominee for Young player of the Year in just half a season at Nice and eventually won the Young Player of the Year award in a full season with Marseille. I’d admit that I don’t want the Ligue Un regularly, but Saliba has done well for himself in his spells at France, even to the point he was recognized by the national team gaffer to feature for Les Bleus at just 21. 

As an Arsenal fan, I am chomping to bits at the prospect of finally seeing the lad we coughed out 30 million quid when he was just 18, with so much talk of how much potential he had, with the ability to lead the line at the back for years to come. Three loan spells at St. Etienne, OGC Nice and Marseille later, William Saliba has finally ‘come of age’ and his manager, Mikel Arteta, shares the same sentiments,

“We made the right decision. He has to come back. He has the experience necessary to be competitive with us.”

“If he had stayed with us this year, with one Premier League match a week, with Ben White and Gabriel, he wouldn’t have had half the playing time he had with Marseille, that’s for sure.

“For his growth and what he can do next season that wouldn’t have been good. William wasn’t with us because he wouldn’t have had the playing time to gain experience. That’s it, there’s nothing else.”

With the Gunners looking to strengthen the squad this summer ahead of a grueling Premier League and Europa League campaign, quality players like Saliba returning to the squad are highly welcome, and we will finally get the chance to see him strut his stuff in the famous Red and White.

Sayonara.

Bonus Reading: The Curious Case of William Saliba

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Our FA Cup Title Defense Starts at Nottingham

Image result for lucas perez nottingham goal

Winning three FA Cups in the last four seasons is really one of the best feelings in life knowing that despite our usual consistent shortcomings in the Premier League, the FA Cup has offered the Gunners some solace and our lads then to turn up in style when we play in this competition. I still vividly remember celebrating the 2014 FA Cup in Bheerhugs, Ikeja City Mall that ended our long trophy drought for nine years. Emotions ran wild and the 250,000 fans attendance in the bus parade showed how much it meant to everyone.

Four years later, Arsene Wenger has added two more FA Cup trophies, taking Arsenal’s count in the competition to 13, much more than any other club. It’s also worth noting that Wenger is the competitions most successful manager. Good times, yeah.

Like every campaign, most Premier League teams start from the third round and we have already seen some unique results over the past two days. Liverpool’s 75 million quid man, Virgil van Dijk, earned a spot in the back pages when he headed in what proved to be the match winner in the FA Cup Merseyside derby. Romelu Lukaku returned from his scare injury to score the match clincher for Manchester United as Jesse Lingard continued his mean goalscoring streak. Then there was the imperious Manchester City that sent Burnley to the cleaners with their bamboozling style of attacking football that leaves no prisoners. There were also some interesting draws as Fleetwood Town held Leicester City to a stalemate, Bournemouth had to leave it late to salvage a draw against Wigan Athletic, while last season’s beaten finalists, Chelsea, could only muster a draw against Norwich in Carrow Road and earn themselves a replay at home. On a sad note, struggling Stoke City lost to Coventry City, adding to their wretched vein of form and it was too much for the owners to handle as Mark Hughes finally lost his job.

After several top half finishes in his four-and-a-half year spell in the club, things went awry for the manager and his side and we know how cruel and unforgiving this beautiful game can be. I guess I’d be seeing him on SuperSport Premier League MatchDay Live with the other failed coaches. Oh well.

Today’s opponents, Nottingham City, clashed with the Gunners last season in the Carabao Cup and were on the end of some lethal finishing from Lucas Perez. Shame things didn’t pan out so well for the Spaniard as he currently plies his trade in Deportivo de la Coruna. Nottingham is currently managed by Gary Brazil after Mark Warburton lost his job and the caretaker manager’s first game against Leeds United ended in a draw. They are currently 14th in the SkyBet Championship and while today’s clash against Arsenal offers a nice spectacle for the fans, they would be hoping for some improvement in the coming weeks as they search for a new manager. From an ex-Gunner perspective, Armand Traore would be looking to catch up with the lads from the team he spent the formative years of his career in.

It has been confirmed that Arsene Wenger will not be at the dugout for this game as he starts his three match ban from the FA, but the boss has confirmed that he will shuffle his pack ahead of the fixture,

“I will rotate a little bit because we have also come out of a very high-loaded period,” he said. “We played three big games in six days and twice we were away, followed by a big game at home.

“We have to keep our level of focus, of urgency, because the third round is very difficult especially when you play away from home against a Championship team.”

The Gunners would be without Nacho Monreal (ankle), Sead Kolasinac (ankle), Laurent Koscielny (Achilles), Granit Xhaka (groin) as well as the long term absentees, Aaron Ramsey (hamstring), Olivier Giroud (hamstring) and Santi Cazorla (Achilles). With half an eye on the Carabao Cup semifinal against Chelsea, I’d expect the manager to feature the likes of David Ospina, Rob Holding, Per Mertesacker, Mo Salah Elneny, Francis Coquelin, Reiss Nelson, Danny Welbeck and Theo Walcott. I believe these guys would be good enough to do the job required of them.

Sayonara.

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Thoughts on Gnabry’s Move to Bremen: A Fan’s Perspective

Image result for gnabry olympics

Serge Gnabry joined Arsenal as a 15-year-old in 2010, but had to wait for almost three years before he made his mark in the team. With the team suffering one of their trademark injury crises, Gnabry was plunged into the depth and he handled himself pretty well, scoring one goal in the 2-1 win against Swansea and winning that penalty against Crystal Palace. His performances that season earned him a nomination for the UEFA Golden Boy award that was eventually won by Juventus’ Paul Pogba. In the club’s bid for the youngster to get competitive football, he was loaned to West Brom and that turned sour.

After a successful Olympic Games campaign that saw him score six goals for the Germans, Gnabry has been on the back pages recently, with ESPN reporting that a transfer to Werder Bremen is in the works. With Gnabry’s contract expiring this summer, Arsenal is at the same point they were with Robin van Persie where they are left with just three options – give the lad a new long term contract, let the lad run out his contract and leave on a Bosman, or everyone’s least favorite – sell him off and make some money of him.

Werder Bremen has been quite confident on Twitter, expressing their optimism in signing the player.

To this end, I have gathered some thoughts from some Arsenal fans, and it’s worth sharing in today’s post

 

Chuks Tristan – @Chuks_Tristan

Even if he wants to leave next summer, he should sign a new contract in appreciation of what Arsenal has done for him. That way we can get a decent transfer fee for him.

King Martyn – @mayorbaze

Gnabry has not done enough in England to hold Arsenal by the balls. I don’t like players with that kind of attitude. This is someone that couldn’t even get into West Brom’s team.

Eric – @daviruz

If Gnabry is holding Arsenal to ransom, it makes me wonder if Arsene Wenger should continue keeping the faith in some of his players. Because he shined at the Olympic Games, does it give him any right to put us in this situation?

Dondeon – @DondeonBeke

Gnabry is a talented kid, no doubt. He has had his injuries and the club has stood solidly behind him for years. The only reason he was allowed to go to the Olympic Games when the likes of Alex Iwobi wasn’t allowed was because he needed games. If because of that Olympics, he thinks he is more than a squad player, he can move on. No hard feelings, but I don’t like these kids acting this way after all the faith Arsene Wenger has had in them.

Anayo – @K_Sturna

The only issue I have with Gnabry leaving the club is that we would get peanuts from the transfer.

Bhydemi Brainz – @bhydemi

I would like Gnabry to stay, now that we sent Joel Campbell on loan to Sporting CP. I believe he can get into the team this season, especially on the left wing. If he decides to go to the Bundesliga, I don’t see him getting any better than he is already.

Bola – @Bolagunner

Loan? Yes. Selling him would be quite ridiculous because in three to four years time, Arsenal would have their ‘Gnaback’ like Manchester United did with ‘Pogback’ to sign Gnabry for $100m.

Wilson – @wheelsindk

Gnabry should not be sold. If Arsenal wants to sell him, he must have a reasonable buy back clause. I’d rather we loaned him instead

Amos – @amoscp

With a year left on his contract and at 23, Arsenal has to be decisive with Gnabry. If he thinks his performances in the Olympic Games are enough to push a move, then Wenger has to decide. Give him a new contract and send him out on loan, or just sell him to the highest bidder. Right now, I’m not bothered about Gnabry. Does Lord Nicklas Bendtner have a club?

 

There you have it. Lot’s of mixed opinions about the lad’s potential exit.

Sayonara.

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