Category Archives: Football

Thoughts on Rob Holding’s Contract Extension

Newcastle United: David Ornstein deals blow to hopes of signing Arsenal ace Rob  Holding | The Transfer Tavern

The magic of the FA Cup took centerstage this weekend and our focus in moving to that knockout competition to the Premier League, where Arsenal needs more points to move up the table in their current resurgence. The Gunners take on Crystal Palace on Thursday, but the news dominating the rounds is the much welcome news that Arsenal defender, Rob Holding, signed a new long term deal with the club, to keep him at the Emirates for the foreseeable future. 

Holding has been with Arsenal for the best part of five years, and its fair to say that this has been the campaign he has really stepped up to make himself a mainstay in the Gunners. Arsenal gaffer, Mikel Arteta, waxed lyrical about Holding, especially with the fact that the club almost sent him out on loan to Newcastle this season, before pulling the plug,

“It was almost a year ago when he came back from his injury. He had a period when he didn’t play and then he played against Leeds at home [in the FA Cup] and when you compare how he has evolved in a year from there until now, it’s incredible.

“It’s down to him; how professional he is, how much he wants to learn, how much he puts that into every training session. And then there’s his character and his personality. He’s growing in every aspect. I’m really happy with him.

“It’s true that in the summer he came to me because we had a large amount of centre-backs and he wasn’t sure about how many minutes he was going to have. We stopped him going anywhere because we knew he was going to be an important player for us.”

Under Unai Emery, Holding featured regularly and earned his place on the side, before that unfortunate injury at Old Trafford cut his campaign short.

Manchester United vs Arsenal: Rob Holding seeking 'closure' a season on  from injury at Old Trafford | The Independent | The Independent

Despite the plethora of center backs currently at the club, Holding has made 18 appearances in all competitions this season and started 13 of Arsenal’s 17 league games, including all of the last seven. He has had several defensive partners this season, featuring in a back four and back three, and has tried to be a consistent figure at the back. He has earned five clean sheets this season with the club and is expected to feature consistently in the course of the campaign.

Here’s to Holding, a future Arsenal stalwart.

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What a Time to be an Arsenal Fan

Tierney - The boys are calling my goal a cross! | Quotes | News | Arsenal.com

110 days.

That’s the last time I published an article on this blog. However, when you compare this to the winless duration against the likes of Aston Villa, Leeds, Wolves, Spurs, Burnley, Southampton, Everton in the League as well as Man City in the EFL Cup, then it’s nothing. Arsenal had clearly reached its nadir and with the way we were going so far down in the Premier League table, we almost found oil.

But it takes a manager with a good set of cojones to make the big calls and axe the underwhelming players, which brought about a change in our fortunes. Nicolas Pepe and Willian have been largely inconsistent and underwhelming for the major part of the campaign – Willian especially, so it was good to see the likes of Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Saka, who had his own inconsistent run, come to the fold. No one could have envisaged the success of Emile Smith-Rowe in the Ozil attacking midfield role, with the youngster excelling admirably, linking up with his teammates and supplying some much needed killer balls expected of a player in that role.

Then there’s the form of Alexandre Lacazette. Oh wow! Football is an interesting sport indeed. Laca is one polarizing player that has had his fair share of vitriol from the fan base and after clamoring for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to feature in the middle, which of course, would cost Lacazette his place in the team, we got our wish and the outcome was pretty much the same – Arsenal stinking up the entire place. However, Lacazette was reinstated into the team and the goals started flowing. I was particularly happy about that match winner against Brighton.

After the terrible run of form, the return of three wins on the trot against Chelsea, Brighton and West Brom has certainly eased the pressure off Mikel Arteta and brought the feel-good factor back to the side. It was really sad seeing the team struggle for those days and weeks and months and it certainly felt like forever.

As fans, our mettle was tested and all the manager and the team deserved was our full blown support. It’s times like these that you remember that badge in front of the merchandise you buy and show why you’re a supporter. Like every real relationship, you have to be there through thick and thin, as it’s not expected that every day would be peachy and creamy.

Off the pitch, the threat of COVID-19 still lingers with one of our outstanding performers this season, Gabriel, self isolating following some contact and there have been a couple of injury concerns. I was really scared for Gabriel Martinelli when he clashed with the Man City goalie, Zak Steffen, and struggled for the rest of the game but luckily it wasn’t as bad as we feared and he went on to have a blinder against Chelsea.

To transfers, Sead Kolasinac went through the back door to join his former club, Schalke 04, pretty much like how he joined in the first place and in all honesty, he will not be missed. His absence puts some form of pressure on Kieran Tierney, who will now be expected to feature in every game, but we have a certain Ainsley Maitland-Niles that can do a job on that flank if selected. Talk of another cast-away, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, leaving the club on a free transfer to join one of his former teams, Genoa, is making the rounds, and it’s quite a sad way to see one of the club’s loyal lieutenants leave. Kudos to him for not making a fuss out of not being registered despite the fact that he always gave his all when selected, even though he was one average Joe. William Saliba joined OGC Nice on loan and I’d be watching him closely, as his transfer to the club, loan away to his former team, fuss over him playing in the French Cup final, only to return to his parent club and not play any match remains one of the mysteries of the beautiful game.

This leaves us with the likes of Mesut Ozil, Skhodran Mustafi and David Luiz to think about. Ozil has always been vocal about how he is going to honor his contract and pick up his fat paycheck till it expires this summer, but he’s likely to leave to Fenerbahce or probably the MLS. Mustafi has fallen out of favor with the manager and seems content with a place in the dugout but the club should be aiming to relieve him off his duties when his contract expires this summer, as he has been a disaster in his time at the club. Yes, he has had some decent moments but the German is no where close to the £35m we paid Valencia eons ago for his services. David Luiz on the other hand, seems to be at loggerheads with the gaffer, that’s if you believe every rumors thrown at you, but in terms of his footballing ability, we all can attest to the fact that he’s on a decline. Yes, the long balls and inch-perfect passes would be missed but the Brazilian defender has had some shockers and is close to his twilight.

All roads led to the FA Cup game against Newcastle and we can only hope for the great form to continue, even though we should expect some changes to the personnel.

Sayonara

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Arsenal 2-1 West Ham: Nketiah Delivers Sucker Punch

Dani Ceballos and Eddie Nketiah combine for winning goal against Arsenal  against West Ham a week on from bust-up before Fulham game

Match ReportMatch HighlightsPost-Match Press Conference

Final Result: Arsenal 2-1 West Ham (Lacazette 25′, Nketiah 86′ – Antonio 45′)

Arsenal XI (3-4-3): Leno; Holding, Gabriel, Kolasinac; Bellerin, Ceballos, Xhaka, Saka (D. Luiz 89′); Willian (Pepe 64′), Lacazette (Nketiah 77′), Aubameyang

The fans expected more from the team following the convincing victory over Fulham last week, and they faced a West Ham side bereft of confidence after their poor showing against Newcastle at the London Stadium. There was a cause for concern at the start of the game when Kieran Tierney pulled up short and had to be replaced by Sead Kolasinac shortly before kickoff. The gaffer confirmed in his post-match press conference that it was a small muscular problem and Tierney complained about it before a decision was made to replace him in the matchday squad. 

For some strange reason best known to Lord Voldemort and his cohorts, Arsenal put up a very disjointed performance early on, misplacing passes, engaging in sloppy play and in all honesty, the opening goal seemed to come against the run of play, with some good attacking play on our favored left hand side saw our contract signing club talisman, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang loft in a sumptuous cross that was headed home by Alexandre Lacazette. It was a relief for Lacazette as he had spurned an early chance created by Willian in the beginning stages of the game.

The equalizer for the visitors came at the stroke of half time when a non-existent midfield did nothing to stop the attacking threat from the Hammers and Bukayo Saka was caught in No Man’s Land as Jarrod Bowen and Hendricks charged down on Kolasinac before executing a neat cut back that was buried aplomb by Michail Antonio. Rob Holding had a disappointing night and should have done better to close down the West Ham forward but it was not to be as both teams went into the break level. One would have expected Arsenal to come out firing on all cylinders in the second half but it was West Ham that had the better chances with Antonio clipping the cross bar with a header and the Arsenal defense continued to be barraged by the visitors.

Mikel Arteta responded with some attacking changes, bringing on Nicolas Pepe for a clearly jaded Willian and Eddie Nketiah for Lacazette. Despite his goal, he had one of those frustrating nights where his blushes were spared by a teammate replacing him. The move turned out to be a stroke of genius as Nketiah turned to be Arsenal’s match winner after some brilliant work from Saka and Dani Ceballos. The Real Madrid man returning for his second loan spell fed Saka and drifted into the danger area, only to be located by a special pass from the youngster but he had the presence of mind to see Nketiah on the clear before feeding him on a platter.

The score line clearly didn’t show a true reflection on how things fared in the game but we are on the back of two wins from two games, sitting pretty at the top of the Premier League. Yes, we are under no illusions but it is a very good position to be bearing in mind that the club has a tough run of fixtures. However, we have to give credit to the lads for not giving up, even if they didn’t perform on the level expected of them.

More on the Liverpool game in the coming weeks.

Sayonara

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