Category Archives: International Football

Taveres, Euros and Wiping the Cobwebs Off this Blog

Nuno Taveres is a name that has been on the lips of Arsenal fans in recent days following the speculation that Arsenal has reached an agreement with Benfica to sign the left back for an initial €8m. This serves as welcome news because the left back position was one that the club struggled with last season when star fullback, Kieran Tierney, got crocked. The Cedric Soares we thought was the versatile messiah on both flanks turned out to be fresh cow dung, so our gaffer, Mikel Arteta, in his infinite wisdom, deemed it a wise decision to shunt Granit Xhaka to the left back slot, creating a void in central midfield that could not be filled by Mo Elneny or the departed Dani Ceballos.

What’s with Granit Xhaka these days? Latest gist on the block is that he has all but confirmed his Arsenal exit with AS Roma being the final destination for the Swiss deep lying playmaker. Good luck to him with his new adventures though.

Going back to Taveres – I don’t know much of the kid minus the few glimpses here and there but I am happy with the fact that we are actually gonna sign a young, energetic left back, in his natural position, instead of those square pegs, you know, like Cedric and Xhaka, that we tried to fit in round holes. On the down side, Sead Kolasinac is back at the club following the disastrous spell he and Skhodran Mustafi endured at Schalke 04 last season. I would expect that we cash in on the Bosnian, and I’m sure there will be a couple of Bundesliga sides that wouldn’t mind taking a punt at the Hulk.

With Taveres understudying Tierney, as well as getting well deserved run out in the Cup competitions (sadly no Europa), the burden on the Scotsman would be eased, as its very evident that he’s one of our most influential, talented and important players in the team. 

Moving over to the ongoing European Championships, the Arsenal presence was quite appalling with only four Gunners – Bukayo Saka, Granit Xhaka, Kieran Tierney and Bernd Leno getting call ups. While Xhaka remains an indispensable member of the Swiss side, as well as being fit enough to feature in every game so far for his side, Tierney has struggled with fitness issues and couldn’t help his Tartan Army side that crashed out of the group stages. Bukayo Saka, on the other hand, started at the doldrums of the England side before getting an influential role for his team. With Germany having a legendary goalie like Manuel Neuer between the sticks, Leno had no choice but to remain on the bench for the entirety of the tournament.

Lastly, its worth noting that the last post on this blog was in mid-January, and consistency hasn’t been one of my strong points in recent seasons due to other commitments elsewhere but I love writing about my darling Arsenal and thankfully, I will be having some support this season. The cobwebs are well and truly out, and it’s gonna be a fun campaign from us here at Gooner Daily. 11 years on, and I’d continue to serve you with your daily Arsenal digest. 

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

Granit Xhaka on the Losing Side as C. Ronaldo Blitzes Switzerland

Image result for xhaka switzerland portugal

Source: Getty Images

The end of season paves the way for some international football without disruptions which allows nations to feature their best talent in their respective bids to win the competitions they are registered in. It seems like eons ago, but many were skeptical about the UEFA Nations League tournament but following some brilliant matches as well as some good organization I must say, we are down to the last four of the inaugural tourney as Portugal took on Switzerland in front of a capacity crowd with a chance for another European final.

Just three years ago, they went to France and grabbed home the European Championships, even though the hosts were overwhelming favorites to go home with the trophy. Three years on and Fernando Santos side, led by their inspirational captain, Cristiano Ronaldo, locked horns with a Swiss team led by Arsenal’s Granit Xhaka. The Swiss might not be world beaters but they have held their own well in recent matches, since their Round of 16 exit in the 2018 FIFA World Cup. They left a lot to be desired with their defending when they gave up a shock 3-0 lead against Denmark to draw 3-3, but they were fully aware of the threat Portugal would pose, especially with the likes of Ronaldo in their ranks.

We didn’t wait to long to see the Swiss net bulge as Ronaldo stepped up to dispatch a well taken free kick that left Yann Sommer rooted with no chance in Hell. The usually reliable Manuel Akanji struggled alongside Fabian Schar, as Portugal continued to barrage the Swiss with waves and waves of attack. The Swiss had some good chances of their own with Xherdan Shaqiri clean through on goal but Rui Patricio was on hand to make a point blank save. Haris Seferovic, that plies his trade in Portugal, had a glorious chance as well, but his effort smashed the wrong side of the cross bar and went over.

Our darling VAR wasn’t going to be left out, as it was used to determine a penalty that was awarded to Switzerland when Nelson Semedo was adjudged to have pushed Steven Zubar. Rui Patricio guessed right to dive in the direction of Ricardo Rodriguez’s penalty but he was really disappointed to see the ball creep under him to level the contest for the Swiss. It wasn’t against the run of play as Switzerland had been giving Portugal a run for their money in what I’d regard as a balanced game.

We never want to see any of these professionals suffer any injuries but it wasn’t a pleasurable sight for the experienced Pepe, as injury forced the hand of the gaffer to bring on Jose Fonte. Good job by Ruben Neves holding the fort while Pepe was being treated. For such a technical metronome in midfield, he wasn’t half bad in the few moments he served his nation as a make shift center back.

Image result for xhaka yellow caRD PORTUGAL

Source: Getty Images

For a player that picked up 14 yellow cards across four competitions last season, it was no surprise to see Granit Xhaka in the book again, when he tried to swap jerseys with Bernardo Silva. I guess he couldn’t wait till the end of the game.

With extra time looming, I was wondering whether there was going to be a match winner in regulation time but as the saying goes, ‘cometh the hour, cometh the man‘ and Portugal’s main man, Cristiano Ronaldo, delivered once again, arriving late in the box to fire in a near post piledriver from B. Silva’s cut back. Sommer was nowhere to be found when Ronaldo’s free kick embarrassed him in the first half but conceding that way in his near post was really questionable. Ronaldo certainly wasn’t done with the proceedings as he rolled back the years with some fancy footwork late on before blasting a trademark drive to the bottom corner.

90 minutes played, one chance created, 91% pass accuracy, 29 accurate passes, 49 touches, 10 duels, three attempted dribbles (all successful), five shots and most importantly, three goals scored. If that’s not a Man of the Match performance from Ronaldo, then I certainly don’t know what that is.

Commiserations to Granit Xhaka and his proud nation that reached the semis of the UEFA Nations League, but it was all about Cristiano Ronaldo, that has guided his nation to yet another final.

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

Ighalo: The Man on Fire and German Football on an All Time Löw

Joachim Low.

The thing about international football is that you can choose to really concentrate on watching each game, or you can do something else and just listen to the commentary in the background. I never pass on a chance to play my beloved Football Manager 2018 (can’t wait for FM 19 to come out next month) or more recently, Uncharted: Lost Legacy on my PS4, but I looked at the fixture list and decided to focus on two games – Libya vs my Nigeria and of course, France vs Germany.

With the Libya vs Nigeria game starting by 7.00pm local time and the France vs Germany starting by 7.45pm, I figured I’d combined both games while enjoying some of that FM goodness. Just before I could get settled into the Libya vs Nigeria game, the red hot Odion Ighalo stepped up again with another well taken goal following some good passing interplay from Alex Iwobi and team skipper, Ahmed Musa. That was Ighalo’s sixth goal in his qualifying fixtures – a brace away at Seychelles, a hat-trick at home to Libya and of course, the match opener in Sfax, Tunisia, against the same side.

Ighalo turned from scorer to provider when he teed up Musa at the edge of the area, but the Saudi-based winger still had a lot to do as he danced his way past some Libyan defenders before scoring the most scrappy finish you’d ever see. Knowing fully well that South Africa were playing a Seychelles side they spanked 6-0 over the weekend, Nigeria sure needed every kind of goal they could get. Taking a 2-0 lead into halftime would have been very ideal in the grand scale of things but knowing African football, there were more surprises around the corner, and that happened when Libya pulled two back but Ighalo was on hand to score his sixth goal in three matches to give Nigeria all three points.

Elsewhere, Joachim Low and Germany are still struggling and one must wonder how they can get out of this slump. Following a disastrous World Cup, Germany was still the top seed for the UEFA Nations League and were paired with France and the Netherlands, but it has turned out to be a disaster as Low’s side has lost two games in the group, as well as a poor draw at home to France.

They sure managed to end the rot of not scoring in three games with Toni Kroos penalty but it wasn’t enough as Antoine Griezmann stepped up the plate to put the Germans to the sword.

I hope they can come out of their current predicament as they are still regarded as one of the best footballing nations but things aren’t just working out for them at the mo. Really Sad

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